Leaf Affirmations ☆゚.*・。゚

One of my coworkers here at the library recently shared with me a lovely practice for this time of year when the leaves fall from their perches to gather in the nooks and crannies of the world. Each year my coworker gathers whatever leaves catch their eye — sometimes it’s the leaf’s color or colors; sometimes it’s the leaf’s size, shape and texture; sometimes it’s simply the leaf’s placement on the path in front of them — and transforms these fallen gems into artful affirmations to carry them and their loved ones through the dark, cold winter.

Photo of a white forefinger and thumb holding a red-yellow leaf with the word "Transformation" scrawled on it in silver sharpie.
An example of a leaf affirmation. Photo credit Hilary Aid.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an affirmation is “something declared to be true; a positive statement or judgment. . .[often] intended to provide encouragement, emotional support or motivation, especially when used for the purpose of autosuggestion.” An affirmation can take many shapes, working similarly to a prayer, a saying, an aphorism, a mantra, an exclamation, even a question. They can bolster one’s confidence or encourage mindfulness and reflection. Moreover, they can be invitations to something you are missing or wanting more of in your life, perhaps a new frame of mind or a commitment to change. Ultimately, affirmations are messages to guide us to and to remind us of what’s important and essential in our lives, the linguistic and imagistic heartbeats of the mind and spirit. Because the things we say to ourselves or surround ourselves with have power, working on us in conscious and unconscious ways.

In this spirit, I’d like to invite you and your family to consider gathering and crafting your own leaf affirmations and placing them where you need them most: on the mirror or fridge, on your workspace or bedside table, in your lunchbox, wallet or pocket. You could even mail a well-protected leaf affirmation to a family member or friend.

For this craft, you will need just three supplies: a handful of gathered leaves, a sharpie or paint pen and an affirmation or two or twenty that you’d like to inscribe on your leaves.

For this particular project, the fresher or wetter the leaves, the better — though you don’t want your leaf to be so drenched that the ink or paint runs off! Freshly fallen leaves that haven’t had time to dry out completely will make for a stronger, more flexible and easier writing/drawing surface. A dryer leaf might crumble and break when you write or draw on it.

The color of the sharpie or paint pen will depend on the color of the leaves you’ve gathered. If you have a handful of yellow leaves, a darker color like orange, red, brown, or black would work. For a set of darker leaves, a silver, gold, or white sharpie/paint pen will glimmer and glitter nicely. If you’d prefer not to use a sharpie or paint pen, non-water-soluble paint and a paint brush could work, too.

What exactly can serve as an affirmation? you might ask. A favorite quote or line of written text; a snippet of a song, movie or tv show; a single word or two; a doodle — really any piece of text or image that feels right to you! Peruse this leaf affirmations book list for more ideas.

I’ll 🍂leaf🍂 you with a poem filled to the brim with potential affirmations, from the beloved affirmation-expert herself, Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

1 thought on “Leaf Affirmations ☆゚.*・。゚”

  1. What a gorgeous idea! I love the concept of adding affirmations, thoughts, or even short poems such as haiku, to the beautiful fallen leaves. I only wish we could preserve their colors longer. If the real leaves in your area are already muddy or faded, I think we could also do something similar by tracing leaf patterns (such as from the “Autumn Nature Craft” wreath post, or search online for leaf templates) onto paper or felt, and cutting them out. Painting on the papers would be fun, too. Rushing off to my art supplies…

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