It’s my first autumn in 20 years. Who knew the smell of rotting leaves on the ground would pull out so many memories! But it’s not like I remember. For some reason, autumn memories for me felt brown and crispy and dead. Perhaps this is because some of the few childhood memories that I remember involve cold hands and blistered thumbs from those wooden handled, orange plastic rakes.

But this autumn doesn’t feel like that at all. Some of the colors are CRAZY vibrant. And just as there are late bloomers, there are late changers too. And boy do they stand out amongst a sea of empty branches.

I feel like, when I grew up, fall was considered a season of death. But that’s not what it feels like to me at all this go round. It feels more a season of shifting focus. I’ve always found plants to be fascinating. Because they are unable to move, they have to be able to find ways to deal with whatever is happening in their environment and overcome. And so when the weather changes, and getting food from the sun isn’t efficient anymore, focus shifts to going underground. Tending to the roots, putting as little energy as possible into an environment that is harsh and waiting it out until it makes sense to shift focus above ground again.

I feel like I’ve been going through my own personal autumn… but like for a few years. It’s taken a while for my being to register that we are now in a safe and peaceful environment. I became so accustomed to constant crises that now that there is peace and calm most of the time, it’s been a process to learn how to relax into that. I do feel like I’ve had to retreat underground a bit. Shift my focus to what is makes most sense and continue to shed things that aren’t serving me. And I feel a bit like an empty tree.

But I’m tending to my roots. And though there’s not much to show for that on the outside yet, there’s subtle signs that healing is happening internally, which is where it always has to start.

I often wonder if trees are impatient, waiting for spring. Or if caterpillars freak out when they liquify and reorganize themselves. Or if being a butterfly is really better than being a caterpillar. Or if trees prefer being underground and it’s a bummer when they have to bloom again.

So I’m reminding myself to just find happy where I am now. Because regardless of the season, now is where I’ll always be.

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Whether she’s empowering kids (and adults) with the messages in her books, showing people their true beauty through her photos, connecting business owners with their ultimate success, or rubbing her fingerprints off on the pavement with sidewalk chalk, it’s all done with one thing in mind;

uplifting others.