Life’s beginning

I am filled with gratitude for the long and beautiful life I lived under the sky, rooted to the Earth in this place.

I remember the first burst of life within me. I felt the swelling of my tiny fluff encased seed, resting in the mud, taking on moisture and warmth many decades ago.

Cottonwood seeds

My embryonic roots slowly unrolling as has been the pattern for all those who came before me for the entire history of this Earth. My roots obeying the ancient call to life, pushing my seed open, surprisingly strong, beginning to grasp the soil to reach downward as if pulled by a magnetic force, to draw in nourishment, and sustain my life, to hold me here.

Now my tightly folded seed leaves, pale from their time in the dark enclosed seed space soak in the first particle of sunlight through the crack in the seed casing. They reach out as though starved for light and unfold and harden and reach upward and multiply under the sun’s life giving love, with nourishment and moisture from my roots.

This is how my life began, dear ones. The ancient will to live and survive and thrive on this planet was encoded in my seed as it is in all living beings – those that move freely about and those rooted to the Earth.

Grandmother Cottonwood, winter

What love, what gratitude I feel for the magnificent web that connect us all in the never ending dance of life on this planet.

More About the Season of Winter in Your Life

When winter knocks on the door and you are snowed in, you can’t leave the house, can’t escape yourself. All human movement in the white world ceases for a time as the wind roars, snow swirls and drifts pile up against all obstacles.

Here you are in the house, cozy and warm, yet there remain many long weeks until the spring thaw comes. You will endure the cold, the wind. You will survive this harsh and bleak time of year when life seems to have abandoned the world.

Winter strips bare the bones of Mother Earth, lays the reality of the frozen world before you – the tree wraiths with their black branches dancing in the gusting wind that cuts like a knife.

Winter trees

Many compare winter to death. But, dear ones, life waits deep in the roots of the sleeping trees and grasses, Deep in the soil below the frost zone, beneath the blinding drifts of snow. Life bides her time, resting and waiting for the warm mild days to return, the bright spring sun that draws all life upward to his life giving light.

Spring tree

When winter overtakes your being, find time to rest and go inward. Connect with the spark of existence that is deep within your being and know that life will return once again when the season turns.

Ice and Water

Dear beloved, do you exist in the manner of frozen ice, living in a perpetual winter, or do you live and breathe and move like flowing water? Have you known both ways of being?

All who walk this earth find themselves in the season of life called winter from time to time, a winter in the mind, in the emotions, a frozen heart, perhaps a time of grief.

GCW in snow

If you are stuck in the cold, you will find a way to cycle through the season of winter in your life and move on to the time of thaw and warming. This feels like spring with new life unfolding everywhere, giving way to the bank full flow in streams and rivers and the green leaves of summer.

When you are living in the seasons of spring and summer within your heart, your life flows effortlessly downstream finding the path of least resistance, moving forward with grace, moving toward the ocean with ease.

In summer, your life is like a river, refreshing all who drink of it, sustaining life along its course. The river of your life moves through the landscape, flowing easily around obstacles, even cutting through layers of stone over the course of centuries, to reach the goal.

Sunlit ripples, shallow creek

Then once again you may experience the biting winds and chilly air of autumn and into the frozen time of winter. All forward movement, all flow ceases when winter arrives, life goes underground and water freezes. Everything is stuck in place, frozen in time and space. As you have been here before, you know it is a temporary state. Do not lose heart, dear ones.

With time, patience, self awareness and self love, you can thaw the frozen and stuck places in your heart. Reach out for help if you need it. Your life can once again flow like water in midsummer.

Where there is forward movement and flow, there is life.

Earth and Spirit

As 2 legged beings, you have no physical roots to anchor you to the Earth as plants and trees have. You have the freedom and the free will to choose the path you walk upon this Earth. You have the ability to change course, to choose a new direction.

The ability to choose your course wisely in life increases as you connect with both Earth and Spirit. Some think the two realms are mutually exclusive. That belief will harm you and cause you to be less than you can be! You do not have to choose one or the other. You can live fully in your body while allowing your spirit to guide you.

This is what it means to be fully human.

Your challenge is to live in your body, immersed in your physical life, knowing the joys, pleasures, and sorrows of the body within its temporary life span, while at the same time, knowing the presence of your indestructible spirit that precedes and underlies your physical existence.

Tiny feather in winter

Your body connects you to the earth for your sustenance, your survival, your human experience which instructs your spirit. It anchors your spirit in time and space as roots anchor a tree.

Your spirit guides your physical being with love and increasing wisdom from lifetime to lifetime. It helps you remember lessons you’ve learned in the past and helps you know your gifts and use them wisely.

You can bridge both worlds and live both in the heady realm of spirit and the earthy realm of the body. You will get better at it the longer you live and the more you ask for integration. Living this way is an unfolding process of discovery.

Like a tree fully alive from root to crown, drawing in nourishment from the Earth and light from the heavens, you are creating one beautiful and fully integrated whole.

GCW’s Tips for Life

Here are several humble and easy tips from GCW based on her tree wisdom and observations of humans during her long life.

Tip #1: Spend time in nature every day to renew your relationship with with the web of life. In nature, you can release human caused worries, tensions, anxieties and find the peace and calm at your center.

Here you can walk and move your body freely. You can swing your arms, you can run, you can sing to your heart’s content. You can catch a snowflake on your tongue. You can climb or lean against a friendly tree. You can sit on a rock and soak in the sun, observing the life surrounding you and the beating heart within you.

Everything you experience in nature can be seen as a mirror of your inner self and you can learn from this; the dark forests, rolling prairies, deeply rooted grasses, feathered creatures of the air and treetops, grazing animals, fur bearers, scampering tree dwellers, the moods of weather and sky, the quality of light, industrious insects, magnificent spreading trees, tangled undergrowth, flowing streams, silver ponds, changing seasons…

Nature places no demands on you, makes no judgments about you, has no agenda for you to follow. Here you can be yourself. Here you can reconnect with the carefree and happy child within you.

Grandmother Cottonwood, winter

Tip #2: Hug a tree now and then. If you are tuned into your body in a sensitive way, you will notice a change in your energy as you hug a tree. You might also notice the energy of the tree. It may feel loving, welcoming, vital, peaceful, calm, patient. As you hug one of our representatives, you connect to the grounded earthy energy of the tree, and that will energize you!

Tip #3: Root to the Earth. You’re in a body and thus you belong here. You are meant to live fully in your body, not spending the majority of your time in your mind. If you do, eventually you will crash like a weak rooted tree in a high wind. To root yourself, visualize sending your energetic roots deep into the earth so you are anchored to the soil and bedrock. Now you can pull Earth energy into your body through your roots and know that you belong here.

Tip #4: Reach to the Light. Take up your allotted space in the canopy, so to speak. Soak in life giving energy that is your birthright and grow toward the sunlight. A tree will never turn away from the light, but grow always toward it, reaching and reaching and soaking in as much as possible every day of the growing season.

Grandmother Cottonwood

If you are alive and reading this, you are in your growing season. Make the most of it! Claim the light that is yours without apology.

If others are overshadowing you, find safe ways to find the light that is yours. You might start small and build on your successes over time.

When you are rooted and reaching to the light, when you spend time in nature, when you hug a tree now and then, you fully alive in body, mind and spirit. You are free! You are participating in full spectrum of human possibilities from the earthy to the sublime.

In this way, you connect and know your oneness with the web of life.

Winter Storm

Bare branches shiver in the roaring winter wind; air heavy with blowing snow, the sun dimmed, sky heavy with impenetrable clouds. All the world softened, hazy and indistinct.

Pitiless wind ripping and tearing across the land, scouring everything in its path. Wind forming snow into drifts of sculptural beauty near buildings, fences, trees, shrubs. Like smoke from a furious fire, snow pours from roof peaks and slopes.

All perennial rooted beings sleep under the cold blanket. Their life retreats inward to the roots, waiting for spring to rise again, oblivious to the wind and cold and the shifting drifts covering all the land.

Grandmother Cottonwood, snowy day

All fur bearers are safe within their burrows or weather tight nests, snuggled together for warmth. Winter birds fluff their feathers under cover, cold blooded creatures hibernate in their earthy dens, sleeping deeply beneath the frozen mud.

Dear ones, remember the wonder you felt as a child your face pressed to the icy window, watching the snowstorm rage, joyful at the school cancellation?

You were safe and warm in your lighted house, watching the fury unfold outside, feeling the fierce beauty, the raw power of wind and snow.

Let Your Love Flow

It is never too late to learn more about love. Are you are alive? You have another chance.

As a child, your parents showed and defined love for you, nurturing or neglectful, one-sided, self centered or all inclusive, empathetic or abusive, somewhere in between, good enough. Loving and kind, or not so much.

Then on your next go-round in the school of life maybe your pairings and friendships and loves as a teenager and young adult mirrored your relationship with your first family. Maybe you got stuck in a hamster wheel of unhealthy patterns again and again.

Winter Nest

Know this! Throughout life you can learn more about love. You are never too old to realize you can get unstuck from old hurtful patterns you can learn to open your heart, trust your tender being to others you want to be closer to. Your heart can thaw.

You can learn to see and feel and know the light in others. You can learn to gently dismantle any walls or barriers you’ve placed between your heart and those others you want to be closer to.

You can learn new and safe ways of opening your heart, new ways of relating to others you trust if you desire it and practice with patience, compassion, and love for yourself.

Ask for help from a trusted therapist, healer or friend if you need it.

You can dam the river of your love, or you can let it flow. Your life and feelings of love can flow like a surging stream if you trust and allow it.

Walking on Ice

There are times in life when humans who live through freezing winters must walk on ice. It cannot be avoided.

To walk safely on the ice, total awareness is required in the present moment. Each movement and each step forward much be considered, balance maintained.

Those who have no choice but to walk on ice must have an eye for the safest places to place their feet. These are the spots that will provide the most traction. This knowledge and body wisdom is based on a lifetime of walking on ice.

GCW and Icy Path

Sometimes the path ahead is clear for easy walking without the walker having to consider each step. Then once again there may be packed snow or glassy ice patches on the path. It is beautiful, yet potentially dangerous.

You who walk on ice must know when to walk flat footed, when to shuffle, when to stride forward without planning your every step. Thoughts of fear or anger will deflect your attention and bring you down.

Such is life in a human body, dear ones. Sometimes you will have to carefully pick and choose your steps, slowly making progress through the dangerous places, finding traction, trusting the Earth will support you.

You must do your part as well and listen to the wisdom of your body, earned through many years of experience walking on ice.

A Practice for Connecting with Your Inner Child

In this practice, you will be going inward and meeting yourself as a newborn infant…

Find a quiet place where you can relax and just be for a little while. Tune into your breath and your heartbeat. Settle comfortably into your chair or cushion

Now with your inner vision, bring up a picture of yourself as you currently are, your fully grown self. Send yourself heartfelt love for the person you are and the person you are becoming, heartfelt empathy for the challenges you face, the mistakes you’ve made, and heartfelt acceptance for yourself, flaws and all.

Let go of your logical mind for a while and allow yourself to roll back in time to the day you were born.

Tiny baby

Now see your current self lovingly lift up and hold your newborn infant self, cradling him or her gently to your beating heart. You might imagine yourself rubbing their tiny back with the flat of your palm. Perhaps you can feel the velvety softness of the newborn’s skin and hair. Can you see and feel the perfection of ears, fingers and toes?

Smell their scent, Feel and see the perfection, the expansion of spirit in this completely unique, beautiful and tender being.

Do you sense your newborn’s complete trust in you and in the new life they’ve chosen? Can you allow your heart to open with love and tenderness for the tiny but mighty being you were?

As you hold your newborn self in this healing place inside yourself, consider what promises your current self will make to your infant self. What stories will you tell him or her about your life? What will you tell this precious being her about who he or she is. What qualities will you recognize in this beautiful infant? How will you care for and protect your tender inner child?

Spend the time you need reconnecting with yourself on the day you entered this life. When you are finished, put your infant back to sleep and return to the here and now. Tap your cheekbones and the center of your chest to ground yourself in the present. Take a few deep breaths. Notice how you feel now.

In the sacred place deep within your heart, you have the power to soothe and heal your inner child.

A New Day

A new day lightens the sky in the east. This is life giving you another opportunity to start fresh. Life allows you the time to reevaluate and renew your life, to grow into the person your spirit calls you to become.

Nature’s rhythms show that you can begin again after setbacks and illness, after disappointments and sorrows. Spring follows winter without fail. The moon cycles through her phases each month. Storms roar through the valley pushing much old growth to the ground, leaving food and light for new life to reach to the sun.

A tree cut off at the ground will sent up suckers reaching for the light. Tender new grass appears after a prairie fire. Green shoots of crocus push through the melting snow in March. The world greens and leafs out finally after a hard winter softens into a joyful spring.

You too after the fires, storms or winters of life have passed may send forth green shoots, leaves, and blossoms and renew yourself. This may look and feel like new energy flowing through your veins, new ideas and creative projects, new vibrancy, a renewed sense of humor and playfulness…passion for life.

The sun will rise again and you will have another day to move toward becoming who you are at the level of your soul, to choose a new thought that supports you in place of the old stale thoughts, to choose a different pattern of being, to tune yourself to a more pleasant feeling, to take the first small step to realizing your dreams.

Of course, patience is your friend as these changes take time and attention and perseverance. Trust and give yourself the grace to accept yourself as you are while at the same time moving toward the new way of being that you desire.

Open your heart to this most amazing gift of a new day.