Just be the tree.

The space between stories is a turbulent thing. The best way to move through is to really just be in it, practicing generous and radical acts of self love. And if there is one thing I would choose to practice for the rest of my life it is this. We are talking epsom salt baths and guided meditations, yummy smelling candles and yoga, coaching sessions, light-hearted movies, good food, hot showers and long hikes. This is the stuff of the space between stories. Productivity measures have no merit in the days of bug soup.

As I read through some pieces of my tattered blue journal this morning I found one entry from September 11, 2015 that rocked me to my core. Not in the writing, but in the hilarity of my words that I am only noticing now, 18 months later. Here is what I wrote on that day in September: 

It really feels good to just slow down.
I took a long shower outside at Steve and Jane’s,
letting the hot water contrast the cool breeze on my skin.
Toweling of, putting lotion on slowly in the guest house
and waiting for Jer to bring me clothes.
I feel peace and calm. I don’t even mind the chain saws.

Just be the tree.
— My blue & tattered journal

The last line seems totally random and out of place, right? So let me tell you how it came to be there and then I will circle back to the hilarious bit. 

In July 2015, I began trading coaching sessions with a badass person whom I met in my Co-Active Coach Training. During one of our first sessions, I was being coached and it happened to be just before I was scheduled for an ultrasound of my spleen (who some thought may be responsible for eating up my blood and causing low blood cell counts). 

Megan led me through some balance coaching where you take different perspectives regarding one specific topic. I cannot recall exactly, but the topic may have been my spleen. Or just current circumstances of grief and unknown and searching for answers. As we danced through different perspectives I looked outside the window to watch three birds landing on a tree's branches as it danced lightly in the wind. Using this as a perspective, we named it "Just be the tree" and my homework was to explore more deeply what this meant, to draw a tree and to practice "being" by taking a mindful moment prior to my ultrasound appointment. 

This perspective has served me well beyond that ultrasound which revealed a very healthy spleen. I have leaned into it as a reminder to rest, to be still, to not stress or strive or worry in my space between stories. Because a tree only has to be a tree, letting itself be moved by the wind, leaves dancing and providing shelter to birds, squirrels and passersby simply by staying rooted in the ground with branches stretching toward the sun and sky. It does not beckon the wind to blow or call the birds to it. The tree - just - is. 

So in my journaled reflection on September 11, 2015 I recalled the anchor to "Just be the tree" as I held space for peace and self-love during a stay in my father-in-laws guest house. Now looking back, the line that catches my eye most is the one just before the end: 

"I don't even mind the chain saws."

The weeping willow - Thanksgiving weekend - 2014.

The weeping willow - Thanksgiving weekend - 2014.

This may have caught your eye too. As I read it I remembered the day filled with the ringing and buzzing of chain saws deconstructing a beautiful, giant, weeping willow that I marveled at the fall before. It stood glimmering in a day after Thanksgiving snow storm. Weeping willows have always held significance for me, possibly because we had one in the first back yard I can remember - this one that stole my two front teeth. Or maybe because of my admiration for Pocahontas and her Grandmother Willow. But on this particular day, I witnessed the majestic weeping willow at the very end of her life. A storm had rolled through a couple of weeks prior and severed a large branch off the side of the tree. Steve and Jane were fearful that further wind would cause the tallest branch to crash into the guest house, so they resigned to cutting it down. 

A brave human climbed the tree with one small belt strap and no helmet, toppled the willow branch by branch.

And that is the backdrop of these few lines in my journal. When I wrote them, the ending line was a reflection on my peaceful practices that warm autumn day, but it followed a reference to this amazing tree being cut down. With chain saws. You see, this tree was ravaged by a storm and it could no longer stand rooted in its solid ground. The tree was being cut, dismembered - limb from limb. Its weeping branches falling to final rest on the ground toward which they always stretched.

And I can only think how fitting this image is for what happens in the cocoon. In the space between stories. You become undone, cut, torn, dissolved into pieces and remade into something new, different, unable to return to the thing before the storm. A branch cannot be reconnected to its trunk. A butterfly cannot crawl back to its caterpillar self. Just the same as I cannot, though I long for it with every part of my being, get back to the place before we lost our sweet Eloise. 

I must once again, surrender to this process of unbecoming, "[trusting] that the next story will emerge when the time in between has ended, and that [I] will recognize it."

For the full guided meditation on The Space Between Stories visit: http://theanatomyofacalling.com/ and download the Fulfill Your Calling Kit.