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  • I walked outside one morning only to find my mother tangled up in branches. As I observed closer, I saw that her gentle fingers were rigorously plucking the still flourishing leaves off of our Hoa Mai trees. My mind was filled with both confusion and curiosity. I quickly walked to where she was standing and asked her why she would do such a thing, especially in the winter when most leaves struggle not only to stay green but to cling on its branches as well. Without taking her eyes off of the branch she was working on, she said to me: “I’m removing the leaves in order for the tree to bud and blossom in time for Tet. I think I might be a little bit late.” I stood there, deep in my thoughts with my eyes firmly fixed on her hands when she nudged me and said, “Don’t just stand there and do nothing but stare at me work. Finish this tree while I prepare lunch for your brother.” After an hour or so of the mundane task, my fingertips were covered in dirt, my legs were filled with exhaustion, but in my mind, an explanation had bloomed.
    Some of us cling on to things—the tangible and intangible. These things we saturate ourselves in are seemingly good, especially when common sense calls for them. We go about our daily lives hoping to never lose these ornamental aspects of ourselves. At the same time, we hold on too much and/or for too long. And this provides no room for other developmental growth and the potential for something beautiful. We cling on to the past, but hope for a brighter and intricate future. Our cups are frothing to the brim, and yet we demand more. It is in our hands—in our control— to redirect where we nourish our thoughts and actions. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to strip down to our bare bones and expose our pale bottoms (figuratively, of course). You might feel empty and a bit self-conscious in that time frame of naked-ness, but it provides you with a blank slate and open mind. And sometimes you just need to wo/man-up and chug that full cup. In doing so, you will allow yourself room to redirect your energy and resources towards something even greater. You’ll leave room to fill your cup with something different and possibly more exciting. Your branches maybe bare, but soon enough you will produce and mature into something worth holding on to..and flaunting, if you like flaunting.
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