I hadn’t really meant for it to get so involved. But there I was, on the ground with my camera and a thousand golden leaves blowing, falling, rustling, crackling, like laying in a bowl of granola or Captain Crunch—

The first thing I noticed was I didn’t give a damn about my hair. Pathetic that would have been a concern in some not so distant past when earth and wind were dismissed as bothersome rather than a wondrous excuse to get a little bit dirty and wild.

I wish you could have been there, to simply sit with me quietly and wait for the light. A year ago, I would have rushed through with an intensity that “getting it done” always brings. This time I nestle into the leaves and watch the sun and clouds arguing over first position, taking their own sweet time.

Then comes that breathtaking moment, when streams of liquid happiness break through the branches…and I join in the beaming. I am sitting in a pile of leaves and I can’t seem to do anything but smile.

It’s been exactly one week short of a year since words came that I never thought I would hear. I have mastered an entirely new vocabulary with sounds and syllables that were once as foreign and terrifying as laying my head down in the still of the forest and gazing up at the sky. And somehow I’m still joyful, mysteriously, even more so.

I could fill this page with things that have changed in the span of 358 days. We could all fill this page with things that have become hardly recognizable, including parts of ourselves.

It is my inclination to write, “Yet I am still me.” But then I would have missed the point entirely. I am not simply the woman I was before:

I am magnified.

I am like the tree and her leaves, kindred in what has seemed like an endless cascade of losses floating down.
And this becomes my soft landing, a radiant bed of protection for the roots that make me who I am.

Some change is meant to make us better. And some change is meant to make us strong.

Isn’t it miraculous that as leaves decay, vital nutrients are added to the soil?

The little deaths we fear, and abhor are sometimes necessary, even nourishing to who we are.

In the warmth of a single ray of sunshine I lay flat and still, stretching my arms and opening fingers. So like the trees in autumn. We are endless change embodied, in and of ourselves.

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