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When Great Trees Fall

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Fallen-tree-in-Arizona

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.” 

― Maya Angelou

Reflections

  • What line or lines are you taken by in the poem?
  • Why do you think this is?
  • What does this poem mean to you?
  • How would you prescribe this poem if someone requested a poem to soothe an ailment that speaks the language of what they might be feeling or experiencing but find difficult to put into words?
  • Choose a line from the poem and use it as a 5 minute writing prompt. See where it takes you?

After deciding to post this poem today I went in search of an image of a fallen tree and found the above image courtesy of Google Wallpaper here

Scrolling further down I discovered that Teresa had also posted the poem I was just about to post!

I love synchronicity.

In support of creative license I decided to go ahead and post the poem as well as share this link back to Teresa’s blog

Now you can enjoy is both.

The Inside Out Writers Retreat May 29th-June 5th 2015

If trees are your thing then you will enjoy the beautiful olive trees that surround the retreat centre in Greece where our second annual retreat takes place on May 29th-June 5th 2015.  Click here for more details

Whether you want to write about nature, business, a creative craft, get going with blog posts or find your writing voice this is a week of deep immersion into the creative writing process.

I just love teaching this retreat.

Gain Free Access To Our Online Creativity Library Resource

Our website is home to an online library of creative and goal planning resources available for free download.

All you need to do is to sign up for two of our free e-books and you’ll gain unlimited access to our creative library hub of  e-books and writing kits

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Cherry Blossoms have Arrived!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Cherry_Blossom _On_My_Travel

I’ve decided to post lots more photo’s of the trees I come across on my daily travels. I love noticing the trees around me as I go about my daily business and nothing delights me more than stopping to capture a tree with my iphone camera.

Yesterday on my early morning walk this young Cherry Blossom tree waved at me from across the street swaying in the breeze reminding me that spring is here. There might have been a chill in the air but the sight of this young one made me happy, if only for a moment.

I’d love to see images of trees you encounter on your travels. If you’re on Twitter how about sharing them on my twitter feed @jackeeholder  or  Tweet #treesonmytravels or email over your pics to info@jackeeholder.com

This weekend keep an eye out for the Cherry Blossom trees in your neighbourhood as they prepare for full bloom in a couple of weeks time. Savour moments in your day by giving yourself a Cherry Blossom visual treat as you move around.

By the way Cherry Blossoms are estimated to peak around April 11-14th hence why my two favourite Cherry Blossoms in front of Honor Oak Park station in South London have not yet bloomed. There’s still time I tell myself.

Here’s what we can expect to see over the next week or so when these two lovely Cherry Blossoms bloom.

Blossom

 

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We Want To Live Like Trees

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Sycamore_Tree

Credit:Photographer Unknown

No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees, Sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air, dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding, our animal passion rooted in the city.

-Adrienne Rich from her book, The Dream Of A Common Language

  • What thoughts come to you when you read the above quote?
  • Turn to your journal or notebook and capture your thoughts.
  • Choose a line or a few of the words from the poem and use as a writing prompt
  • If you lived like a tree … “How would your life be different to how it is now?”
  • Right now in your life -“What would you like to be blazing through the air with …?”

 

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Ancient Trees – And Why They Matter?

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

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“Every tree is important.” – Ted Green

Yesterday I was so pleased that I got to attend the ‘How To Look At A Tree’ workshop at the Wilderness Festival. I was still working when the workshop started but managed to get into the workshop a few minutes in and I’m so glad I did.

Anyone who knows my work and me well knows how passionate and excited I am about trees. So meeting Ted Green and Jill Butler for the first time was great.

Ted_Jill

We share a passion of a love of trees. The way they spoke about ancient trees and our need to preserve them as natural monuments was music to my ears. I knew I was amongst my tribe. I learnt new knowledge about ancient trees during the workshop and it rekindled my interest in ensuring that more trees in our neighbourhoods and out in the wilds become protected species.

For years I have gone about speaking one on one with trees across London. They really are the best silent counselors. I’ve meditated and wrote in my notebooks and journals underneath the huge sprawling crown of my favourite Oak tree that sits on the top of the hill in Brockwell park in South London. In the past as part of weekend retreats I hosted I would lead sacred ceremonies under the gaze of huge Oak trees and only last week I bumped into a couple who invited me eight years ago to officiate a wedding blessing on their wedding day under the watchful gaze of one of the oldest Oak trees in the same park.

What Ted Green founder of the Ancient Trees Forum and Jill Butler of the Woodland Trust (best natural and real co-facilitation I’ve witnessed in a long time – they were your ultimate keep off the script double act!) reminded me of were the three things to look for that tells you a tree is ancient (over 500 years old):

• Firstly the width of the tree’s girth is often a sign of it’s age as ancient trees add a new growth ring each month

  • A shrinking crown growing downwards is a sign that the tree is slowly dying of a well-earned ancient age
  • Ancient trees become hollow due to the central wood decaying
  • Ancient trees tend to be 500 years old and more.
  • A Veteran tree is usually in the second or mature stage of its life
  • A notable tree is a tree of local importance, or of personal significance. It is likely to be a next potential veteran tree.

My blog contains lots of stories and personal narratives of notable trees that are of personal significance. I loved it when we went out in the middle of the festival amongst all the events taking place and people wandering around to visit what (was what I have now named the Wilderness Festival tree – thanks Jill) was a marvelous specimen of an ancient tree, which is over 800 years old.

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A Selfie in front of the 800 year old Wilderness Tree 2014

Trees have an amazing life cycle and the dying process of an ancient tree could take some 300 years. Trees are resilient, adaptable and extremely flexible. There’s a lot we humans can learn form the life cycle of a tree. Ted made a good point that visitors pay money to go and visit Windsor Castle and on the walk from the gates they miss the magnificent ancient trees that they are mindlessly walking by.

People will pay to go visit Nelson’s column at Trafalgar Square, art installations and various monuments and statues scattered around the UK. Yet we struggle to give reverence to the magnificent trees that have survived over hundreds of years and are responsible for keeping us humans alive.

This is in distinct opposition to the customs and traditions of many of the ancient cultures across the globe who honoured and celebrated paying reverence to trees. This could be through ceremony and ritual, asking permission to be with the tree or leaving the tree a gift as a way of saying thank you for all you have given.

The ancients knew and appreciated the many usages trees had to offer community from it’s wood, to shelter, to providing different habitats for different animals to its sacred and ceremonial energies. In many cultures trees have been community meeting places and important places in village life.

If we think about it wholeheartedly we owe our trees a great deal. Tree’s stabilize the soil, store carbon, generate oxygen into the air and I for one would rather do what Wendell Berry writes in the poem ‘I Go Amongst Trees’, “I go amongst trees and sit still/All my stirrings become quiet …..” Visiting, sitting and being with trees is one way in which I quiet my mind and practice mindfulness.

When I need to recharge my battery it’s the Oaks I turn to. Only a couple of weeks ago on a visit to Chelsea Psychic Gardens I watched as a woman stood with her back straight against the bark of a huge tree and read a book. It looked so natural and comfortable. See if you can spot her in the photo below? It’s dark because I was some distance away.

Woman_Reading_Against_Tree

Can you spot the woman in the above photo reading?

At the end of the talk Ted and Jill encouraged us to log trees in our area we believe are either ancient or need to be protected on the Ancient Tree Inventory on the Woodland Trust website which includes a simple recording form to send in the details of your ancient tree.

Here’s a link to the page of the Ancient Trees website where you can register trees or get in touch with The Woodland Trust:

In the meantime why not use this glorious weather to make friends with the trees in your neighbourhood.

  • Where are your ancient tree’s in your neighbourhood?
  • What are the notable tree’s of personal significance or local appreciation?
  • What trees would you name as the Veteran trees in your area?

Trees appreciate being acknowledged and appreciated. They ask for so little and yet give so much. Enjoy and take care of one of nature’s natural monuments. Thank you Ted and Jill for a great talk and field trip as part of the Wilderness Festival 2014. I’ll be in touch.

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Cloud Atlas

Monday, June 9th, 2014

 

I captured this wonderful formation of the clouds yesterday as they passed over our garden on my iphone.

I think that this arrangement of clouds are what meteorologists would refer to as, “Cirrocumulus clouds.” indicating that the weather is going to stay the same without any major, sudden changes. Judging by todays weather so far I think the clouds were right.

I loved the way they travelled swiftly across the sky in my part of South London.

  • Have a look up at the shape of the clouds in the sky right now.
  • What do you imagine them to be saying about the weather tomorrow?
  • Take a five minute break and mediate on the sky

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Trees Matter and So Do Rituals

Friday, June 6th, 2014

“Even after its death, an ancient tree continues to provide habitats for wildlife, for decades more”

- Ancient Trees: Trees That Live To A Thousand Years

Many of my coaching clients know how much I love trees. I regularly use trees as examples and metaphors when I’m coaching. When I get time to head out into nature I turn to trees to re-energise and replenish myself when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Recently one of my former coaching clients, Fiona Parashar (Leadership Coaching) sent me a picture of a tree she’d captured on camera whilst out having what she described as a Restorative day. “The trees in Bath are wild today,” she wrote. I wrote back and asked why this particular tree resonated with her? Her reply, “Its full bloom spoke to me.” I smiled when I read her words.

Fiona_Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a recent post on the Coaching Supervision Academy blog executive coach and coach supervisor Elaine Patterson reframed the word resilience to resourcing. She described resourcing as, “creating a bigger energy within ourselves . . . . .” You can continue reading her blog post here

The word re-Sourcing, which Elaine Patterson writes about is a good word to use when I think about what my client and I both gain from our connection and love of trees.

Last week my partner’s cousin came to stay overnight. Whilst all three of us caught up on our week in the kitchen preparing dinner she shared how she gone with her mother and sister to an arboretum where they planted a tree for her sister who had sadly passed away the previous year.

The idea for planting a tree had come about because her sister had been cremated and their mum was finding it hard having nowhere significant to go and visit her on a regular basis. So not only had they purchased a tree and planted her, they also planted a time capsule with some of her favourite objects and possessions, which they buried under the young tree.

Rituals are important practices to bring back into the routine of our daily lives. They provide meaning. They offer us moments to touch the sacred, to breath into what is important and allow the rhythm of the ritual to bring us back into true connection. I’ve watched as rituals have helped coaching clients reconnect to the present, to their lives and most importantly to themselves.

In the past trees held very symbolic places in our communities and in our cultures. In many agricultural communities trees provided valuable food and shelter.

Ancient trees were often a prominent meeting point in many communities. If we consider the importance and focus of the altar in a religious building then many trees were considered places of reverence and worship in nature.

In my role as an interfaith minister I’ve officiated a wedding blessing under the watching eyes of a huge evergreen oak in a South London Park. And once when I had hit a very dark place in my life several of my friends entering from the four directions joined me early one morning in a healing ritual under the watchful guidance and presence of that same tree.

I really do love trees and I miss the time I would spend really connecting with their presence. I wonder if you feel the same way too? If the weather’s as nice over the weekend as it was today then see if you can find a moment to mindfully focus on a tree in your surroundings or neighbourhood.

Why not capture on camera a tree that catches your eye. In the meantime I’ll leave you with some questions to reflect on over the weekend.

  • How have you engaged trees in rituals as part of family events, services and celebrations?
  • How might you involve the presence of a tree in a future event?
  • What do trees mean to you?
  • How have you engaged with trees in a meaningful or sacred way?
  • What’s your favourite tree?

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More Photo’s From Kew Gardens

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Mushrooms_KewMonkey_Puzzle_In_Its_GloryScottish_Pine_Kew


More images from Kew Gardens

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Restorative Days

Monday, March 17th, 2014

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Today was a beautiful sunny day in London town so I decided to treat myself to a restorative day.

I took myself across to West London to the nature sanctuary of Kew Gardens one of London’s most cherished nature spots. Seems I wasn’t alone judging by the long queues to get in.

But once inside I knew I had made the right choice. I decided to join a one hour guided tour of some of Kew’s plant and tree life. This was a good start giving me information about Kew and it’s plant life. Our guide Angela shared lots of interesting and fascinating facts about plant life including:

When it comes to trees and plant life gardeners hate grass why because it gets the food first – Interesting fact I thought.

Arborists leave trees alone instead of trying to treat them trees. Why? Because trees have an inbuilt healing system and when left alone heal by themselves.

What is going on in a tree’s root system is reflected in the health of the tree above ground.

Once the tour ended I wandered through Kew at a slow pace and every few steps captured on camera some of the many delights of the garden on this gorgeous spring day.

See what I mean with some of the images below.

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This was just what I needed. After delivering two workshops yesterday in Birmingham I was in need of some restorative time. Restorative days are days where you schedule in a solo adventure intended to recharge your battery. This is not a night out with the girls or a new romantic partner; this is strictly time with you and you alone.

But even I have to admit this is not always an easy thing to give ourselves but I’m always reminded of how important it is once I do it.

Restorative days are intended to energise and uplift. Just wandering in nature recharged my battery. With lives and schedules that have us constantly on alert it was good to wander without a destination or an agenda. In our over stimulated lives wandering can be a very liberating thing to do.

Of course in my bag I did have books to read (two in fact plus a magazine) but I followed my gut simply guided me to walk, stop to eat, write this blog post at a leisurely pace and then just be. To end my time in the garden I sat on a bench stared into the space, read and allowed the sun’s rays to stroke my cheeks.

Doing less empowers us to do more. Tomorrow I’ll be fired up to dive onto the page first thing with enough energy to get on with the weeks tasks in hand knowing that my reserves have been topped up and I’ve been refueled.

The busier your life is the more restorative days you’ll need to build in. Your restorative activity feeds you creatively, emotionally, physically and sometimes even spiritually. So visits to the salon to get your nails done don’t count.

So when will you book yourself in for a restorative day in March?

Let me know how you get on.

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Process versus Product

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

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This morning I happened across one of the Sunday sermons by the School Of Life http://www.theschooloflife.com which by the way I would highly recommend.

The sermon was given by Dan Pearson, garden and landscape designer, writer and broadcaster http://www.theschooloflife.com/library/videos/2013/dan-pearson-on-commitment/ whom I had heard about in the past but not really ever listened or read up on. I do have a vague memory in the back of my mind of a beautiful gardening book I once came across which I believe he had contributed to.

Sitting and listening I was moved to write down the following extract of his talk where he defines process in much the same way psychologist Mikay Csikszentmihalyi describes as ‘flow’ and his story about the process of planting the young tree and not being around to see it in it’s maturity.  Have a read and contemplate on his words for a few seconds and see what thoughts and connections it triggers for you.

“A process is something in which we can lose ourselves as we would when we were a child. It’s the kind of pleasure we get when we are completely absorbed. ”

“ …….. A friend of mine who is a geneticist, Katherine couldn’t believe how I was able to out a tiny sapling in the ground and be quite happy to imagine that I had to wait, 5, 10, 15 possibly 50 years before that tree ever became something with any gravity. But for me it’s the process that’s the interesting thing.

It’s not about the pleasure of the tree when it’s a hundred years old necessarily. It’s about getting it through those early stages, when it needs to get its roots in contact with the soil getting it to the point where it’s not going to be overwhelmed by the grass and the weeds around it because it has the upper hand.

Getting it to the point where I can stand in the first little pool of shade that it casts when it’s old enough and getting it to the point where it can bear its own fruit so it can then reproduce itself.

The process for me of planting that little tree is something that makes the whole thing worth it.”

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Dan really spoke to the reality that he may never see that tree in it’s full grown state and in knowing this he is able to then let go and enjoy the present moment of the process. How often in our current lives are we driven to achieve the end result? How often do we drive ourselves to the finishing line (I know it is a good thing to get things done) but often at the expense of missing out on the wonders of the process?

Yesterday I sat hunched over my computer with the shutters in the room I was working closed as the sun shone brilliantly outside. I told myself I was too busy to open the shutters, too busy to clear the table that walkers by would have a full view of so I missed out on the process of the day.

It was only when I dashed out the house to put petrol in my car that I realized the wonder in the day I had let pass me be as the evening began creeping in.

I see it a lot in the training of new coaches. They want the tool kit, the models, and the killer coaching questions. They don’t always place the value on understanding and being present to the process of their own unfolding, their own learning, their own growth and development.

Don’t get me wrong I find much of what I am talking about here hard from time to time. Yesterday on the phone I was chatting to a coach whom I had met on a coaching course. She asked me how things were with me. I told her about how my days were no longer packed full with training, coaching and marking assignments. I followed this with how I felt I was lagging behind compared to many of my peers and colleagues who seem to be speaking, coaching and training every minute of their day.

She wisely pointed out in a gentle way how ugly comparison is as both a word and as a feeling causing me to pause and take a breath.

The pause and the subsequent breath helped me access a new thought. Why had I neglected to share how much I was writing in these days where I was no longer under pressure to be somewhere or having to facilitate one coaching session after the other? How I really loved creating a new series of programmes and deepening into my body of work where I am experiencing being absorbed and lost in time.

So much that sometimes I forget to eat not because of stress but because I am not hungry. Why? The work feeds me and when I am fed in this way my appetite changes.

Would I dare to say I have valued the time to think and the space to meditate in the middle of my day? Could I talk enthusiastically and wholeheartedly about how much I enjoyed the long stretches I have some days to write and carry out research and of how I am connecting across different schools of thought and linking it to material I am working on now.

Each of us is like that tree that Dan refers to. If we’re not careful we may well miss the richness the process offers us in each moment.

Process is the place of mindfulness and mindfulness is the art of arriving and being in the present and the present is an aware appreciation of what and who you are being in the here and now.

Jon Kabat-Zinn captures this in the following quote, ‘When you are taking a shower, check and see if you are in the shower.  You may already be in a meeting at work.  Maybe the whole meeting is in the shower with you.’ The product is good but without the real lived appreciation and acknowledgement of the process it probably is worth very little at all.

Enjoy your day.

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A Tree As Lovely As A Poem

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

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Do you have a memory of a favourite tree? Most people do. Trees are a great source of material for your writing life.

The Cherokees called trees the standing people, telling us that trees embody the energy of our ancestors. Taking this cue from the ancients:

  • Write a list of personal strengths that have gotten you this far in your life?

‘There’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter: they’re experts in letting go,’ writes Jeffrey Mcdaniel.

  • As fast as you can write a memory about letting go?
  • If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?
  • Imagine becoming still like a tree
  • Write about what you would see and observe in the stillness about your life right now
  • Write about what you may have missed or overlooked?

Sarah_Woolfenden

All images copyright of Sarah Woolfenden. To visit  Sarah’s website click here

Used with permission.

A Tree As Lovely As A Poem Journaling Tip 237 click here 

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