I grew up in Minnesota, which essentially means I grew up in the middle of a forest. Except for the evergreens, in the dead of winter we were surrounded by trees stripped bare by the previous autumn winds. Naked branches splayed dark against the chill-gray sky like so many spidery veins on an old man’s hand. Despite the starkness of winter, even as a child, I found an inherent beauty in the season. I still do. And when flocked with a thick layer of snow, winter trees carry a magical essence that takes my breath away.
When I was a child, my mother once suggested that I might gain an interesting, non-judgmental perspective of life, and the world we live in, by imagining things this way: If an alien being landed on earth in northern Minnesota in freezing January, and having never seen a tree, would the being think this was the permanent landscape of the entire earth?
Would this alien have the capacity to perceive a life that defies description hidden inside the bare branches? How would one convey to him or her (or it) that in just a few months, juicy green sprouts would burst forth? And those sprouts would grow at a fast clip of one-fourth to one-half inch daily until they’d unfurl into bright green leaves of varying hues and shapes? Could the alien comprehend that given a bit more time, and this abundant growth would become a thick canopy providing shade from the hot summer sun? Let still more time pass, and the same juicy green leaves would transform into a riot of red and gold blazing the landscape.
How could an alien standing before a bone-bare winter tree realize these living miracles provide homes for animals and birds, feed the planet, provide necessary gases for the earth’s survival, provide us with fuel, shelter, syrups, and so on? Given this perspective, the stark January trees took on a whole new meaning after my wise mother’s little talk—something I never forgot.
Today, as I sit at a desk before a large window, on an upper floor in my friend’s Texas home, the day is filled sunshine and blue skies (I was outside earlier—it’s so hot and sultry, candles would surely melt on the sidewalks). I stare at the trees, at their leafy branches stretching majestically to the sky. Suddenly, I realize something: trees are little different from you and me. To the casual observer we may each be of a certain stature, skin color, hair color and personality. But travel through the seasons with us, watch us grow and unfurl, and we, too, will likely burst forth in riotous colors of various hues.
Like trees, there are those of us who will remain as saplings, and shrivel under the canopy of another, die without ever seeing the sun, too weak to fight on his or her behalf. Others will become oaks who take years to mature, but when the time comes to unfurl, they will filled with unbreakable strength. We might be left to wonder how some managed to survive at all after the abuse heaped upon them, but rise they do, sturdy and strong, filled with power and able to uplift others. Years ago, I made the decision that I would not be one of those saplings who shriveled and failed to thrive. I vowed to do whatever it took to grow strong and mature. I’ve had stages of growth, as most people have, but I never dreamed I’d end up being the oak, and that it would take me a long while to find my true essence. Relaxing and going with the flow of life, not pushing the river, actually speeded the process for me.
Just for today, what if you became the essence of a tree? What if you took time off and allowed yourself to lie dormant for a few hours? By allowing subtle dormancy on the surface, doing only what is necessary, perhaps you’d serve your deep inner self, thereby allowing another part of you to emerge. Soon, new ideas would bloom, and you’d change and grow as you unfolded and found new aspects of yourself.
By allowing yourself to flow with the rhythm of the seasons, you would be allowing the path of your life to take place of its own accord. You wouldn’t be just “letting it happen without a plan,” for I truly believe that life has its own plans for us, buried deep within our souls. And if we can get quiet and learn to listen, we’ll hear the whispers of our destiny. We’ll be able to nurture those parts of ourselves as yet untouched, allow them to blossom as was naturally intended.
What if you set aside thirty minutes of your day to go dormant, to get quiet, empty your mind of thought, and let whatever is inside you naturally emerge without forcing anything? What if you did this for an entire year—moving through the seasons in sync with nature’s rhythm?
Perhaps, just perhaps, one year of trying it nature’s way and you might experience a miracle of one kind or another. At the very least, I’ll wager you’ll give the gifts and talents you never knew you possessed a chance to emerge. I tried it and it worked for me.
Comment below on how you find time for yourself to get quiet and listen to your inner self or how you plan to start setting aside thirty minutes of solitude each day—one winner will be chosen to receive a print copy of A DUKE’S WICKED KISS.
Once Kathleen Bittner Roth realized making a living was not the same as making a life, she blazed her own trail by founding a successful well-being center, walking on fire, marrying in a castle in Scotland, scuba diving in dangerous waters, and learning to ride her Arabian horse English style. She has somehow managed to live in six U.S. states and several foreign countries. Currently residing in Budapest, Hungary, she still keeps one boot in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota.
Kathleen considers writing Victorian romance a wonderful venue for creating characters faced with difficult choices, and who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit in order to overcome adversity and find unending love.
A member of Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and The Golden Network chapters of Romance Writers of America®, Kathleen has been a frequent guest on radio and television, and on various writing blogs. She has won or been a finalist in numerous writing contests, including the prestigious 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® with A DUKE’S WICKED KISS.
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