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Change Your Color

Text by: Sue E. Peterson, author of The Mourning Run

Fall -- the time of year that announces itself with cozy colors. Oranges, yellows, and reds explode at the higher elevations and run down the mountainsides to pool on valley floors. Like turtles, we begin to slowly pull ourselves into our dwellings to hunker down for the winter. Fall is the bridge between romp and refuge.
© Jessica Ceason Photography

Fall is kind. The snuggly colors warn us, and help ease us into the wet and cold weather on its way. If Fall were a person, I would imagine her as matronly, wearing an apron patterned with undisciplined yellows, screaming oranges, and serious reds. She would have a large, soft bust and squishy arms that wrap themselves around me and draw me into a warm hug.

Fall would also kiss me on the cheek, bury in her large apron pocket any mistakes I had made up to that point in the year, and give me a cookie.

We don't often think of fall as the time to "start over," that honor is assigned to New Year's Eve and the dead of winter, when everything is indeed "dead." But what if we took a lesson from Fall?

Fall gives trees a heads up on what's coming. The trees take their cue and begin to shut down. They draw fuel into their core, and pull the plug on photosynthesis. Chlorophyll disappears, which reveals the color the leaves really are. The warm hues were just hidden under a veil of green chlorophyll. Their summer job over, the leaves drop from the tree and move on to the task of composting.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

So taking this idea and applying it to us, the walking and talking, water-based, oxygen-breathing units that we are, if you were a leaf, what color would you really be? When the green veil is lifted, what would you see? And is it a color you like?

Is your color boring? Vibrant? Compassionate? Depressing? Happy? Productive? Obsessed? Loving? Generous? Fearful? Daring?

Trees have no choice in what color their leaves really are. It's hardwired into their DNA (do trees even have DNA?). Even if they didn't like how they came across to the other trees, too bad.

Ah, but not so for us! We have the power to change our color, and maybe fall is the perfect time to do it.

© Felicity Photography

If you don't like your "leaves," you can drop them and be given the chance to grown new ones in the spring.

Maybe your leaves are fine, and you like the color they are. If so, nothing need be done. But if you want to (pardon the pun) "turn over a new leaf," decide your color and go for it.

We are creatures blessed with the ability to choose for ourselves. Often the environment we grow in influences us, but in the end, when the leaves drop, we are responsible for our choices. If there are (figuratively) mountains to move, oceans to cross, fortresses to build, or forests to chop down, we have the ability to do so. Of course, we may have to give ourselves permission to move most of the mountain, stop at an island along the way, get just the walls up for now, and cut enough to last the winter. But the point is, we have still changed our color.

Take a good look at your leaves. Do you want to become something new? Acquire a skill? Leave a habit behind? Reach out to someone? Change the way you react? Spend more time doing a certain something? It's within your grasp to do so.

Whatever it may be, look outside and take a lesson from the trees. They drop what they no longer need and prepare to grow something fresh and new. Yes people, be a tree.