She was not the grandest tree in the forest nor the most beautiful. However, she was the one that was waiting for me, watching over my children as they played, watching over all of us as we slept. She was the epitome of unconditional love and strength.
Although grief stricken when I met her, it was loneliness that tortured my soul. She taught me how to be alone without feeling lonely. She taught me how to accept and let go.
On many occasions I asked her, Martha, WTF? Like the time she pricked me with her thorns when all I was trying to do was decorate her for the holidays; and all those cold winters when she insisted on getting undressed. But I mostly asked her WTF when I was feeling sad and lost, shaken by the cruelties of life. She opened my eyes to the power of Mother Nature. She was my best friend when I most needed a savior in life. She, a wise old pine tree, helped me realize that my savior needed to be me.
I walked and studied her world and then lay beneath her. She would listen as I talked, then I would listen as she stood quietly. It was there in the silence I had once found so fearful, that I heard her.
I learned so many lessons from my Martha and Mother Nature. Below are some of my favorites.
1. She forgave and forgot:
No matter how harsh the wind blew or how frigid the air gripped her brittle branches, every spring she opened to the sun’s love.By letting go of what she had endured, she was able to be her best self.
2. She paid no more attention to her bad days than she did to her good:
Each season bought with it unique challenges, but she never held on to one longer than the other. There is so much good in the world and in our lives, yet the negative receives the most attention. It takes effort and practice to learn the skill of focusing on the positive, but it changes the quality of our lives when we do.
3. She uses her grievances to her advantage:
Beyond forgiving, she acted on the negative in her life and made good. She uses droughts to expand her waterways and she uses a deep freeze to create better soil for her plant life. We will all endure hardships and challenges in our lives, many of which are out of our control; however, how we respond to these adversities is in our control. Every situation is open to change when we change our thoughts around it. If we are willing, we can use our hardships to create something positive in our lives, no matter how small.
4. Two minutes, two times a day makes the world go ‘round:
Every morning the sun hugs the earth for two minutes as it rises and every night it hugs it again as it sets offering us beauty and hope. This demonstration of how powerful two focused minutes twice a day can be can greatly enhance our lives. Two minutes of gratitude, two minutes of concentrated breathing, two minutes of praying, two minutes of saying kind things to a loved one, the choices are endless and personal. The power is in the focus, the consistency and the commitment.
5. Everything is part of the beautiful landscape of life including us:
An acceptance of self-love is hard to deny when you sit and study all the beauty and miracles of Mother Nature. Held strong by her earth sitting under her grand sky while surrounded by life in all shapes and sizes, one cannot deny that every one of us is part of this landscape, part of the beauty, part of the miracle. Therefore, everyone is worthy of love, especially from ourselves.
6. She never stops creating:
Morning, noon and night, Mother Nature is consistently creating. Not all of us have been blessed with an artistic ability to turn a blank canvas into a masterpiece, yet creativity lies within us all. Creativity lowers stress levels and benefits us emotionally and mentally. When we create we find purpose and joy. Any project can be turned into something meaningful when we apply thoughtfulness to it, cooking, yard work, laundry, etc.
7. When rooted, she takes care of herself:
There are times in life when the love and support of others is essential. Human kindness can ease our pain and turn a bad day into an acceptable day. Yet, it can be anxiety-provoking to depend on others for self-assurance, comfort or direction. Witnessing the strength in Mother Nature’s forest, how independently tall and strong her trees stand anchored by their deep roots signifies the power of being rooted. When we are rooted we are our own strengths, we are self-assured, we self-love. When we are rooted, human kindness becomes the beautiful wrapping to the gift we give ourselves.
8. Just like her four seasons, it’s all coming around again:
Watching Mother Nature repeat herself, varying year to year, displays the importance of accepting the need to repeat our lessons learned. There will be times negative thoughts occupy the mind, insecurities direct our behaviors and judgement clouds our vision. We may work hard to live a peaceful, loving life, yet it is okay and normal to fall back into negative thoughts. When feeling anxious or down, check your thoughts, revisit the things we all innately know, and move forward in love.
9. She does not let debris get in her way:
The goal of that river is to get home. Put debris in her way and she will find a way past it. The debris in our lives shows up as worry, judgement, resentment, negative thoughts. It can take us off course and slow us down. Whatever your destination, to live a loving, quiet life or become the next CEO of your company, debris will slow you down and throw you off course. When you let go and trust the world is kind, it will be.
10. Boundaries are part of self -love:
As crazy as I may sound talking to a tree, I will admit I was both offended and amused when Martha pricked me. Although it was years into our friendship, I had no idea Martha had thorns to protect herself. It can be hard to have boundaries and for some feel unloving. Others may use boundaries to close off and keep love out. Yet, having healthy boundaries is vital for self-care, it allows us to show up for others as our best self.