After living many years in northern states where seasonal change is more dramatic, I now enjoy the subtle seasonal changes of Florida. But northern autumn colors have always been my favorite, and I still relish taking fall internet color tours. In Michigan, when our two children were young, we used to collect bright leaves, dip them in wax, and use them for table decorations. We turned leaves over frequently, looking at all the color combinations. That memory reminded me of the expression “turning over a new leaf.”
So I googled the expression “turning over a new leaf” and learned something new. This expression started in the 16th century and did not refer to tree leaves, but instead to book pages. The expression meant turning over the present page and leaving the past behind for a fresh start on a new page. This invites changing our course and rethinking our choices for a new beginning.
As the leaves change color, we too can release ourselves from staying the same by turning over a new personal leaf. We can challenge ourselves to grow into healthier behaviors and learn from every experience, no matter how uncomfortable. The best way to do this is to be open to change. Change can feel intimidating because it takes us out of our comfort zone, especially when it involves our health, relationships, or financial stability. But to move forward for any fresh start, we need to embrace change.
We can turn over a new leaf in self-care by being selfish in the very best way. This means checking our decision-making to see if what we’re doing is benefiting others more than ourselves. If we’re giving ourselves away to everyone else, we need to take back control of our life. This is the time to remind ourselves that we’re not able to take care of anyone else until we’ve taken care of ourselves.
Another helpful new leaf is letting go of what is no longer working in our life. Letting go of a long-term relationship can be difficult because we’re heavily invested in this person, but if this relationship is no longer healthy, it’s polluting our life. We need to release it, step forward, and leave it in the past. During a serious illness we may discover we need to change our medical facility, doctor, or treatment plan. We may need to redo our budget to accommodate changing circumstances. Eckhart Tolle writes, “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
There are plenty of new leaves to turn over in our homes. In the kitchen we can go through our spices to eliminate the old, outdated ones. I’m too embarrassed to admit how old some of my spices get, and how much better the fresh spices taste. And while we’re in the kitchen, choosing healthy food helps our bodies no matter what our physical challenges may be. How many of us have kitchen gadgets and small appliances we’re no longer using? This is a good time to donate them. Decluttering one small area a day makes a big difference by the end of the week, and there is the relief of finding what we need when we need it. We can declutter our closets by donating clothing that we’re no longer wearing.
Let’s develop a new attitude about what we call failure, and celebrate it instead of criticizing ourselves. It’s easy to applaud achievements, but valuable lessons lie in our blunders. Failure is a teacher showing us what we don’t want. Eckhart Tolle writes, “It is through the mistakes that the greatest learning happens on an inner level.”
Let’s turn over a new leaf on negative thoughts and liberate ourselves from them, especially if they are about our bodies. If we leave behind the judgements about too-big thighs or flabby arms and love ourselves just as we are, we will discover our own unique beauty.
Turning over a new leaf in October is different from a January resolution made when the body and mind are tired and the budget is stretched. Part of the fun of an autumn resolution is that no one else knows we’re making them. Unlike January, fall resolutions don’t require horns, confetti, and champagne. We only need to be open to positive change. Let’s turn over a new page in our personal book and begin to implement those needed changes that have been percolating in the back of our minds. This is the perfect time for turning over a new leaf.
Until Next Time – Sylvia