Many of us find fall to be a powerful time of year, a time that feels like more of a new beginning than January. Change and freshness are in the air. Perhaps it goes back to our days of starting school when everything was new—new clothes, new shoes, new school supplies, a new teacher, a new class, a new routine. After a summer of sunshine and fun and endless play, we were ready to embrace new growth and learning.

Besides being a time of newness and renewed energy, fall is a time of letting go. The trees and plants let go of their leaves so that they can turn their attention inward and generate the energy they need for new growth. We, too, can follow this rhythm of nature and let go of what no longer serves us—whether it is clutter, relationships, self-criticism, or less than healthy habits—and create space for new things to grow.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of what is familiar so that we can embrace something new. As a gardener, I have a very difficult time pulling out my summer annuals—plants that will not survive past the first frost—so that I can cultivate frost-hardy plants in their place. I simply don’t want to let go of these glorious symbols of summer or, worse still, admit that summer is over. So I play a game of cat and mouse, hoping to eek out every last second of summer, but not push it to where the frost will cause my plants to die a blackened, ugly death. And every year I ask myself: Should I do it now, or should I wait? The plants get straggly and faded and my energy drains while I hold out, waiting for a sign.

Eventually, I succumb to the inevitable and rip them out, some years sooner than later. As soon as I do, the space I’ve created opens me up to new possibilities. Before I know it, I’m caught up in the excitement of what is possible and plant stunning pots and beds of fall beauty. As I’m basking in their beauty, I wonder why I waited so long.

This year I decided to do it differently. Rather than hanging on to the familiar and delaying the joy of something fresh and new, and having my energy drained by avoiding something I knew I needed to do, I set the goal to tear out the old plants by the first weekend of October and plant fresh, new fall foliage and color in their place. So I did it. And it feels great. This year I’m not asking myself, “Why did I wait so long?”

Fall is also a great time to establish habits that help us feel vibrant and healthy.  Have you been
thinking about starting something new, like regular exercise or getting enough sleep or eating in a way that generates energy rather than depletes it? Are there things or habits in your life that you need to let go of so that you have the space to welcome something new? Are you ready to ride the wave of freshness and energy of the season and reclaim your health? What is one step you could take in order to make this happen?