“Solitude is the soil in which genius is planted, creativity grows, and legends bloom; faith in oneself is the rain that cultivates a hero to endure the storm, and bare the genesis of a new world, a new forest.”     

–  Mike Norton

As we stand in the midst of a global pandemic, seclusion has become the new world order. Seemingly overnight we have lost our everyday connections with others – our work place interactions, social gatherings, gym times, and intimate, physical contact.  As social creatures, many of us are feeling lonely, isolated, and solitary. The adjustments to our routine and the implementation of social distancing along side the constant flow of COVID-19 information from news agencies, social media, and casual conversation has left many of us shell-shocked, feeling anxious, fearful, and completely unprepared to deal with life on a daily basis. Although some families may be spending more time together, many individuals live alone and, like me, are spending most of their time sitting in solitude. 

Although I am comfortable being alone and in my own skin, much of what I am feeling in quarantine is reminiscent of the emotions I experienced when I lived in the small, Inuit village of Wainwright, Alaska, deep within the Arctic Circle, remote, isolated, and alone. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my 6 months in the cold, dark, tundra of Alaska would prepare me for a global pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing protocol. As we all struggle to establish a new “normal” routine, sustain our deep emotional and spiritual connections with loved ones and our community as we disconnect physically, and seek to preserve our overall well-being in a environment that is heavy with fear and uncertainty, solitude can seem overwhelming. Solitude, even in its discomfort, is necessary for all of us sometimes. It is an opportunity to check in and be fully aware and present in our own life, to peer into our heart to see if we are still manifesting the life that honors our vision, to explore our reactions and emotions and let go of what no longer serves us, and to sit in the quiet and hear our own voice.  In solitude, we retreat to our center, recognize and resurrect our authentic self, and raise our resilience.  Through mindfulness practice, meditation, and prayer we can find and hear our own divine voice that professes our unconditional self-love and worth. Immersing ourselves in the natural world and connecting to our environment not only improves our overall sense of health and well-being by reducing stress and strengthening immunity, but also expands our awareness of interconnectedness and social community by widening our perspective and growing our gratitude. In remembering our common humanity and holding space for others in loving kindness we can feel less alone in times of solitude. 

I appreciate all of you who take the time to read my blog. I hope you find some comfort and inspiration in my words. With our continued quarantine and social distancing protocol in place, and with schools closed for the remainder of the school year, I have decided to change the focus of my blog for now. Beginning March 30th, I will be sharing a variety of simple plant and nature-based activities that may be used as resources to promote social and emotional health, academic learning, and family engagement as we all continue to adapt to a new daily routine in the midst of a global pandemic. Please share this link with those who maybe interested. Wishing you peace and health!

The Edge Effect

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. – Rachel Carson

In October 2018, I left my community where I had lived, worked, and raised my family for 27 years. Feeling stuck in my comfort zone and in my life, I found myself down in the tall weeds and unable to see a clear path to move myself forward. Living in Alaska had been a life-long dream, so I made the decision to uproot myself and move to Wainwright, Alaska, a small, Inuit village wedged between the Chukchi Sea and Arctic Ocean.  In a month’s time, I purposefully shifted my life from comfortable to chaotic. With no tall weeds in the tundra, I stood exposed in a zone of transition.  Alone and thousands of miles from my home, I was resolved to step fully into my life and adapt – to the cold, the isolation, the stillness, the culture, the darkness, the solitude, and the silence. 

At the boundary of two or more biomes, there is a zone of transition, an ecotone. Ecotones can be narrow or wide, local or regional, and are areas where two or more communities meet and integrate. The transition areas shifting from field to forest, ocean to beach, and river to marsh are examples of ecotones. As one would expect, these areas of transition exhibit characteristics of both habitats. Moreover, these unique interfaces can also be home to organisms adapted solely to live in the transition space  Surprisingly, this distribution of organisms often results in a greater biodiversity, or variety of species, living within the ecotone than in either associated community. This ecological phenomenon is known as the edge effect.

Transition zones can be challenging and turbulent spaces in which to live. For example, the intertidal zone along the ocean coastline is a zone of transition between ocean and land. Species living in the intertidal zone adapt to varying, often harsh conditions in their habitat, including flood during high tide, exposure during low tide, and constant agitation by ocean waves.  The organisms that live in this this interface are adapted, resilient and tough.  The tidal marsh, or wetland, is a zone of transition between river, ocean, or estuary and land.  Wetlands have a rich diversity of unique, well-adapted flora and fauna that together with variations in tides, temperature, salinity, and storm surge create a difficult but productive community. Wetlands function to improve water quality, create a protected nursery ground for juvenile fish and crabs, provide food for migratory birds, stabilize the shoreline, and prevent erosion, establishing one of the most biodiverse and biologically productive ecosystems on the planet.  In natural systems, the edge effect is a positive product of the shift from one ecosystem to another. As humans, we often find ourselves standing in a difficult zone of transition, living in the in-between, and struggling with our uncomfortableness.

Sometimes the unsettled spaces we occupy are of our own choosing, like my move to Alaska. Sometimes they are created for us as a result of our comfort, complacency, and lack of consciousness as we move through our life. Living in the edge, the fringe, requires us to be brave and step fully back into ourselves and our life.  It exposes us to the harsh realities of our life, our patterns, our habits, and our decisions. Existence in the edge is painful and raw.  The tumultuous times of transition force us to slow down, self-evaluate, and sync ourselves to the shift in our life.  If we fully embrace the chaos and immerse ourselves in daily practices of centered self-reflection, mindful meditation, and small, sacred steps forward to positive change, we not only adapt, but grow gracefully into ourselves and build real resilience. We experience the edge effect embracing our uniqueness, creativity, diversity, and productivity in our best life.

This essay will be published in Plants and Poetry Journal’s Wildlife of the Underworld (January 2022) and on their website,


“There is magic in decay. A dance to be done for the rotting.”   

-Don Chelotti

Decomposition is the act of breaking down.  In natural systems, decomposition is an important part of the circle of life.  It is the mechanism by which dead, complex, organic matter is broken down into simpler compounds.  Decomposers, such as bacteria, earthworms, insects, fungus, and other invertebrates are nature’s “trash collectors,” the organisms necessary for decay and nutrient recycling. They are necessary for the return of important elements and compounds to the air, soil, and water.

As gardeners, we can re-create the decomposition process observed in natural systems.  In a compost system, waste, scraps, and yard debris are broken down by decomposers and recycled into basic compounds and elements that are the foundation for healthy soil.  Compost replenishes organic matter to the garden, in turn, contributing to the overall health of plants, making them less likely to succumb to pests, drought, and disease. Moreover, it can eliminate the need for petroleum-based fertilizers that can have adverse effects on the environment.  Compost systems can be designed to fit any garden setting, large or small, simple or more complex. 

There are four basic components to every compost recipe. The four, components, brown matter, green matter, water, and air, provide the fuel for the living organisms, bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms, to transform the old plant material into dark, rich, nutritious soil. Dry, brown matter supplies the compost with carbon, energizing the compost mixture and producing heat. Brown matter includes leaves, bark and wood, dried grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, saw dust, and dryer lint.  Wet, green matter provides nitrogen to the compost system that feeds the organisms interacting with the brown matter.  Fruits and vegetables, animal manure, garden refuse, weeds, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clipping are green matter.  Air is necessary for the decomposition process.  Water, in the right amount, is also needed to maintain healthy microbial activity.  

The process of decomposition holds meaning in our lives.  As we create our unique compost mixture, we can embrace the decomposition process as we are broken down to our simplest form.  Our brown matter is old habits, behavior patterns, relationship wounds, inherited characteristics, trauma, including generational trauma – stuff that you have been carrying for a really long time…so long that its dry and brown.  This is your carbon – the foundation of you as a living organism – your fire starter and energy as you begin the decomposition process.  Green matter is our new ideas, goals, and improvements we want to make in our lives – learning a new skill, improving physical health, managing emotions, healing trauma.  Green matter will feed your transformation process.  Air is our breath. Breathing fully and deeply with purpose. Inhaling to fill our lungs and cells with oxygen and exhaling to let go of what we cannot control.   What activities help you breathe, exhale, and encourage your renewal and transformation? Maybe you spend time in nature, create art, exercise, write, participate in a support group or a spiritual community, or meditate.  Water revitalizes us and rinses us clean. We see more clearly. We surrender to the flow of life, in turbulent and in tranquil times.  What core values and intentions help you to maintain your healthy boundaries, ground your emotional state, and strengthen your resilience to help the transformation process move steadily forward? Perhaps, sitting in self-reflection, nurturing supportive and loving relationships, setting small intentions to manifest a deeper sense of self-awareness, acknowledging your needs and not taking things personally. As the process progresses, we transform from complexity to simplicity.  The true elements of our our essence is what remains, our most pure and highest self.  From this strong, authentic foundation, we grow forth our richest, most beautiful life from simple and ordinary elements – peace, joy, and love. 


“Transformation comes from within and seeds have mastered the art.” 

– Scott Chaskey

Angiosperms, flowering plants, and gymnosperms, cone-bearing plants, are the two groups of plants that produce seeds.  Angiosperms usually produce a fruit.  Both groups reproduce sexually and most flowers contain both the male and female reproductive structures.  The male reproductive part is the stamen, which consists of the anther and the filament. The anther produces pollen and the filament acts as a support structure.  Pollen spreads to the female reproductive  structure through wind, insects, or other animals.  

The female reproductive structure, the pistil, has three parts – the stigma, the style, and the ovary.  The stigma is the sticky top of the pistil where the pollen attaches. The male pollen sticks to the female stigma and travels through the pollen tube, the style, to the female ovary where the ovules, or eggs are stored. The pollen unites with the ovules, a process referred to as pollination, and an embryo forms within a seed.  The seed protects and nourishes the embryo.  The ovary develops into a fruit, the structure that encloses and protects a seed. 

As nature’s suitcase, seeds cradle, protect, and nourish a young embryo.  Seeds vary in size, shape, and color. They are as diverse as the plants that emerge from their tightly closed cases. Sometimes dispersed by wind, water, and animals, embryos packed tightly in their seed suitcases can travel near and far, landing in new lands to germinate, take root, and grow.

We also begin as a small embryo growing deep within the protective seed of our mother’s womb, surrounded by a cushion of amniotic fluid and nourished by our mother through the placenta.  At birth and as young children, we continue to receive nourishment and protection from our parents or other caregivers.  We begin to germinate in our sun-lit spot of Earth. We grow, become centered and rooted, learn our boundaries and how to turn our face toward the sun to feed our soul.  We weather heat and drought, building resilience with each disturbance.    If we lack the protection and nourishment, our germination and growth is slow and disrupted. We struggle to discover the light and wither in the face of disruptions.  We fail to thrive, grow, and blossom.   Life is a struggle.

As unique as the seeds and growing instructions of various plants, we, as humans, must embrace our uniqueness and individual direction toward cultivating our self-awareness and growing our most abundant, fruitful life.  The people in our circle who surround, support, and protect us provide a safe haven that nourishes our tender self physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  They give us time to grow our roots strong in the place where we find ourselves.  In building strong, trusting, loving relationships, we can focus on turning towards the light and blossoming into our best self. 

For those of you in the Richmond, VA area, I am facilitating a workshop on Wednesday evening, February 26, 2020 in the Beet Cafe at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market. The following link includes the details and registration. We will be exploring our connection to nature and the uniqueness of seeds. Hope to see you there!


“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” – Rumi

From the time I was a small child, it has been all about the love.  Deep within my center is a well-spring of unconditional love.  It has been the source of my relationship with nature and humanity.  Love manifests in me as patience, kindness, loyalty, and compassion.  It grounds and connects me firmly and deeply to the Earth.  Love is the the lens through which I view the world.     

My intense love for nature has been present since I can remember. As a young child, I spent hours each day outdoors. I had a fort of trees…oh, how I love the trees.  The forest is still my refuge. I instilled the love of nature in my children and each of them has a deep, personal connection to the Earth. 

Both my parents have a love for the outdoors. My father’s sense of adventure and fun was always evident as we embarked on ski trips, sailing voyages, bike hikes, and plane rides, but my love of plants was gifted from my mother.  My mother always had beautiful gardens – bountiful vegetables, fragrant roses, a vibrant, variety of texture and color. She canned our garden’s excess and we ate from it all winter.  I never had a store bought vegetable or spaghetti sauce until I was married.  Her hands were always rough – “gardener’s hands.” Gardening is her therapy.  She is 85 years old and still longs to be outside working in her garden everyday.  I work alongside her now, as I did when I was  a child.  For my mother, it is about the process – it is the small, everyday tasks of gardening that bring her joy; the weeding, watering, pruning, raking, mowing.  She makes sacred the process of tending her garden.  Each task  brings joy, wholeness, healing, and connection.  I understand her deep love for gardening and its spiritual transformation, as I also honor each step of my own adventures in the natural world. 

Deep within each of us is a love – a love for something – gifted to our souls, our authentic selves, from the moment we were conceived.  It is our Divine gift, our essence.  As children, I believe our gift is transparent and unmistakable, but overtime, it becomes clouded and and blurred.  We become distracted by suggestions, influenced by others, and often oppressed by the chatter in our own head.  How can we return to what we love, uncover our gift, and live our fullest, most abundant life?  We must sit in stillness, solitude, and silence, center ourselves, and listen to the faint whispers that come from the heart. We must fully engage in those activities that manifest joy, peace, harmony, and most of all, love. Embracing and making sacred each step along our journey.  Learning to love ourselves first, cultivating our relationship with our authentic self and honoring and celebrating our divine gift is the bridge to living our most light-filled, joyful, magnificent existence.

This essay will be published in Wild Roof Journal (Issue 12) in January 2022, available on-line at


“For the creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”  – Carl Sagan

 Awe is a profound and transformative emotion. Reflecting on the points in my life where I have experienced awe, I recall being overcome with spiritual presence, blissful peace, overwhelming gratitude, quiet humility, and a love so abundant it welled up from my saturated heart, spilling down my cheeks as a coupled stream of tears.  Awe-inspiring events manifest a connection so deep and so prolific that we remember these life-changing moments in time for our entire lives. My awe-inspiring events include the the birth of my children, the beauty and majesty of Glacier National Park, Montana, the vast, white, cold tundra of Alaska, and the dancing, green glow of the Northern Lights across a deep, dark, star-laden sky.  

Merriam Webster defines awe as “an emotion variously combined with dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority, the sacred, or sublime.”  The feeling of awe can be induced by nature, a person who exhibits dignity, wisdom, dedication, talent, or an act of selflessness or generosity, music, dance, or art.  For some cultures, an awe-inspiring experience originates in fear, but for most of us, awe arises from joy and vastness, and transcends our understanding, often sparking our curiosity and moving us to explore the details of new information.  As individuals, awe alters the way we understand the world.  It can help us let go of the little things as we expand our beliefs on the capacity of human potential.  It manifests a sense of humility and feelings of a smaller self as we are reminded of our interconnectedness to a larger sphere.  We are drawn out of self-interest to the concerns of the social collective and whole community.  

Craig Anderson, a University of California at Berkeley PhD candidate, investigated the emotion of awe through data collection from groups of veterans and under-served youth participating in rafting expeditions down the South Fork of the American River.  Of the six positive emotions he tracked in participants, awe was the emotion most evoked through nature. His data supported awe as a means of increasing an overall sense of well-being and decreasing stress-related symptoms. In a second study conducted with undergraduate student, Anderson found that daily, small doses of awe improved life satisfaction.   

Exposing ourselves to awe-inspiring experiences, especially those in nature, big or small, can lead us to focus on what is truly important.  Our sense of self falls away as we stand in the presence of something bigger. In a world of instantaneous updates, illustrious stories on social media, and the immense changes to our climate and natural world, we struggle to find our place in the stars and connect to our true selves. We have the world at our fingertips, but many of us long for a more passionate, healing, engaged connection with others. I challenge you to find some awe daily. Be intentional in seeking it out. Plan an adventure with those whom you want to deepen your connection. Experience awe collectively and stand in the bigness of it together. Use your awe-inspiring moments to grow your joy, your creativity, and your community.


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”   – John Muir

On October 30, 2018, feeling disconnected and fragmented, I left my family, my friends, and my home to embark on a bucket list adventure to the remote, Inupiaq community of Wainwright, Alaska, a place far north of the Arctic Circle.  I worked as the middle and high school science teacher in the small, village school. The kids were tough and I was an outsider.  Even as a seasoned educator, my first day in the classroom with the 6th graders was indescribably difficult.  Reaching to connect with them, I decided our first lesson would be comparing the animals found in the Arctic tundra to the animals found in Richmond, Virginia.  They spoke of the majestic raven and I of the sweet songbirds of the temperate climate.  As the weeks passed and we continued to learn from each other, I felt trust taking root and relationships budding.  We were growing our connections to each other, intertwining our cultures, much like plants use the tiny network of fungal roots to connect and communicate.  One day, one of my most difficult, female, 6th grade students handed me this traced drawing – of a songbird.  To me, it was a simple sign of peace and acceptance.  We are all the same, no matter our climate or culture.  We all need the same things – a connection to others and an acknowledgment of our inner beauty and wisdom.

Edward O. Wilson defines the hypothesis of biophilia as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Innate means hereditary and hence part of ultimate human nature.” Connecting ourselves with nature can provide us the space and breathing room to unearth our own inner beauty, find our voice, celebrate our gifts and confront our fears. Sitting amongst even the simplest setting in the natural world has positive effects on the physical body and can move one from a state of thinking to a state of mindful being where peace, joy and clarity are sustained. Discovering our place in nature, our interconnectedness to all living things, fills us with humility, gratitude, and awe. We step outside of our stifling small world into the Big Picture where we can exhale. Backyard garden or bucket list outdoor adventure of a lifetime, our relationship with the natural world challenges us to practice our patience, boost our bravery, and raise our resilience as we learn to go with the flow and connect to life’s circle, reminding us we never have to do this alone.

This essay is published in Wild Roof Journal (Issue 10) available on-line at



“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathe in, breathe out. Inhale, exhale.  A simple exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide. We breathe an average of 23,040 breaths a day.  Most of these breaths are involuntary, controlled by the brain stem, varying with our level of activity, anxiety, or excitation.  They come and go without us even taking notice.  When we breathe without thought, our breath can become shallow, irregular, and inefficient.  Our body attempts to shift our breathing pattern when we are disappointed, defeated, frustrated, bored, anxious, stressed, or wishful by emitting an audible, forceful exhale –  the sigh.  Materializing several times a day, the sigh is often interpreted negatively as a form of passive communication by those around us.  However, the sigh is not a means of communicating our emotions to another.  It is simply a big exhale, a point to be present, a moment of mindfulness, or a fraction of time to re-focus. It is our bodies response to our unconscious rhythm of breath, a reminder for us to breathe out and let it go.

Plants use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in the process of photosynthesis.  Larger plants, like trees, process a lot of carbon dioxide and in turn, manufacture a lot of oxygen.  In essence, they are the lungs of the planet.  Scientists have observed fluctuations in the levels of global atmospheric carbon dioxide over a 12 month period.  The two hemispheres of the planet have opposite growing seasons. Seemingly, the influence these opposite growing seasons have on global carbon dioxide levels would  cancel each other out.  However, the Northern Hemisphere has more land area, and therefore more foliage, than the Southern Hemisphere.  The growing season in the Northern Hemisphere, especially during the warmer months of the summer, has an effect on the amount of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere.  Plants use more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they photosynthesize and grow, lowering global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  As deciduous trees lose their leaves in the cooler months and photosynthesis ceases, global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase.  These fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are equivalent to the  Earth taking a giant inhale and exhale – a planetary sigh. 

Our breath is our anchor, our tether, our connection.  When we our conscious of our breath, we can bring our awareness and focus out from the confusing and chaotic clouds of our head down to our calming, compassionate, loving heart center. The simple practice of breathing, the gentle exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide, can help us restore relationships, foster forgiveness, strengthen our capacity for self-love, and create space to hold thought and connection to others and to our environment.  



“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”

Japanese Proverb

Resilience – it is one of my favorite words. I love the sound of the word when spoken. The order of the letters creates a sound smooth as a weathered stone, a sound that flows like water off the tongue.  The word conjures a sense of calmness, strength, accomplishment, and hope.  You are resilient- it is the utmost compliment.  

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape. It is toughness and elasticity. It is true grit, brute strength, and absolute acceptance.

In ecology, resilience, defined as the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation, or disturbance, predicts how quickly an ecosystem can recover.  Disturbances can originate naturally, such as flood, fire, drought, and disease, or can be the result of human activity, such as pollution, habitat degradation, fragmentation, and destruction. Ecosystems can experience stress from multiple factors, like climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. If an ecosystem is stable in structure and function, it may recover quickly from a disturbance.  

According to the Crisis Prevention Institute, trauma is defined as an event or series of events and experiences, or prolonged experiences, and/or a threat or perceived threats to a person’s well-being.  Traumatic events include natural disasters, violent crime, sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, abandonment, neglect, and poverty.  Trauma is a disturbance, a perturbation resulting in negative impacts to one’s sense of safety, emotional self-regulation, concept of self, physical and emotional health, cognitive thinking and academic success, and interpersonal relationships and social skills.  Traumatization occurs when an individual has inadequate internal and/or external coping skills.  Reactions to traumatic events are individual and subjective, often influenced by one’s history, beliefs, perceptions, expectations, level of stress tolerance, values, and morals.

As with healthy, natural ecosystems, individuals can exhibit resilience in the wake of a single perturbation, or series of traumatic events.  Acknowledging and accepting one’s emotions, implementing coping strategies such as breathing, mindfulness, and grounding, seeking out a safe and comfortable space, and surrounding oneself with individuals who can listen intently, engage compassionately, and love unconditionally builds a strong web of support and strategies that can promote healing, resiliency, and recovery.

Communication and Signaling

There is a path from me to you that I am constantly looking for.”

– Rumi

Communication is a two-way path. As humans, we communicate with others to convey our thoughts, emotions, intentions, and information.  We use four basic types of communication to connect with others – verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual.  Verbal communication is spoken language. Non-verbal communication employs body language, gestures, and facial expressions, intentionally or unintentionally, to disclose and help others understand what we are thinking or feeling. Written communication, often in the form of e-mail or text message, can lack emotion and be assumptive or misunderstood.  In contrast, visual communication can be powerful in its presentation, evoking strong emotion and thought.  When we connect with others, we use a varied mix of these four types of communication.  Many of us show strength in one type of communication over another. 

Signaling is defined as transmitting information by means of a gesture, action or sound. Recently, I attended a youth league football game to watch a friend referee the game. The teams consisted of 9 year-old boys, top heavy with protective gear and still learning the game. The players moved painfully slow around the field, each play fraught with signals from the collective referees.  Hands gesturing, fingers pointing, and yellow flags flying – an exchange of signaling and responding which constitutes the game of football.  Without coordinated communication and signaling, organized sports, like football, basketball, and soccer, would be utter chaos. Ineffective or absent cell communication within living organisms results in cellular chaos, or uncontrolled cell division, that manifests disease. 

Cells signal each other to coordinate actions between multiple cells.  One cell signals and another responds.  Cells respond to change in their microenvironment and signaling plays a role in organismal development, tissue repair, and immunity.  Scientists have studied the two-way communication and signaling pathways between trees. This Intreenet or mycorrhizal network, is composed of the tangled web of the tree root system and the mycelium, the small, hair-like filaments of the fungal root system.  Together, the trees and fungus create an underground, interdependent, communication network that transfers water, nutrients, nitrogen, carbon, and biochemicals between organisms, influencing germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other trees within the stand.  Moreover, the Intreenet has an enormous capacity to heal, as mycorrhizal networks repair themselves quickly. Fungus and tree are so intertwined and dependent on each other; fungus relies on tree for carbon and tree relies on fungus for  nutrients and water.

Some trees have been identified as hub trees, or more lovingly referred to as mother trees.  Mother trees are the foundation of communication and signaling in the forest community. They provide opportunity for adaptation and resilience in recognizing and nurturing their own seedlings, sending them excess carbon to increase their viability and conveying messages of wisdom when they are injured, sick, or dying, biochemically signaling to their young to increase their resistance to stressors. Trees can exhibit crown shyness, a growth adaptation where canopy trees keep their leaves a respectful distance from each other.  Trees communicate above ground through the release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) that send a signal warning of danger. Trees can even communicate between species, like the birch and the fir. Communicating and signaling between each other, trees are keenly aware of their connection to others in their stand, their community, their “tree tribe.” They use the mycorrhizal network wisely and effectively to connect, support, and encourage growth, adaption, and resilience. 

As humans, how can we learn to communicate with the clarity, beauty, and positivity of the trees? How do we freely embrace all members of our community and encourage them to germinate, grow and reach for the sun? It begins with our connection. Our communication and signaling connection to ourselves and to each other.  Seedlings germinate and grow with their roots firmly attached to the mycorrhizal network.  They stand under the watchful eye of the mother trees and are nurtured, protected, and provided with what they need to grow and thrive.  We are also born into a family of origin, our stand of family, whose network may not be as integrated or resilient as that of the trees.  As children, the communication and signaling we receive from our caregivers and those in our family guides our development of personal boundaries, encourages us to find our voice, and promotes our sense of confidence and self.  

Perhaps our family of origin suffers wounds, trauma, dis-ease which damages or limits our communication and signaling, stunts our growth and makes it difficult for us to grow.  We find ourselves lost in the forest.

Fortunately, like the birch and the fir, we can receive communication and signaling from those other than our family of origin. We seek out, through our network, our stand of trees, or those in the community who will encourage us to root deeply and grow strong.  As we acknowledge to each other where we are from, we can take each other where we stand and communicate with the clarity, beauty, and positivity of the trees. We can love each other unconditionally  as we gently encourage each other to reach for the sun and mature to our best, authentic self.