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Who Are The Root or Rocket People In Your Life?

Monday, January 27th, 2014











The following excerpt (sent to me by one of my former coaching clients Paulina Richards) by Tyler Perry, uses the metaphors of trees to describe the quality of friendships. I found it really helpful as in the last few years I have found that many of my close friendships have fallen by the wayside or have not been what I or the other person expected. It’s been helpful but not always easy to evaluate the role and contribution I have played in all of this.

Reviewing my history of friendships over the years has helped me gain insight and understanding into my own personal journey with friendship. Just today I wrote a piece about my first day at infant school. We had just moved house so I joined a week or two after term had started and was immediately cast into the role of the outsider. I was the newcomer who spent a lot of time on the sidelines feeling alone before I was gradually accepted. But I don’t think I really ever let go of that experience which included being bullied.

When it came to college I had a really close friend who was like a sister and one day, that was it, no announcement, no upset but it was clear the friendship was over. Perry’s analogy places her in the Branch category. See what you think.

Tyler Perry’s Friendship Tree Test ………..

I have this tree analogy when I think of people in my life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, whomever…They are all placed inside what I call my tree test. It goes like this:


Some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. You can’t depend on them or count on them because they are weak and only there to give you shade. Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life they are gone. You can’t be angry with them, it’s just who they are.


There are some people who come into your life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but you have to be careful with them. They will stick around through most seasons, but if you go through a storm or two in your life it’s possible that you could lose them. Most times they break away when it’s tough. Although they are stronger than leaves, you have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, you can’t be mad with them, it’s just who they are.


If you can find some people in your life who are like the roots of a tree then you have found something special. Like the roots of a tree, they are hard to find because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold you up and help you live a strong and healthy life. If you thrive, they are happy. They stay low key and don’t let the world know that they are there. And if you go through an awful storm they will hold you up. Their job is to hold you up, come what may, and to nourish you, feed you and water you.

Just as a tree has many limbs and many leaves, there are few roots. Look at your own life. How many leaves, branches and roots do you have? What are you in other people’s lives?

I found it a helpful model for making an inventory of friendships. It is similar to a model I was introduced to some years ago by US Life Coach Laura Berman Fortgang. She introduces these three levels for evaluating your friendships:

  • Rocket friendships are the kinds of friends who fire your up whenever you are around or in contact with them.
  • Floaters are friends who are more neutralised. It’s easy to be with them but it is not that engaging or energising. They’re dependable, but there’s not a lot of challenge. There maybe a lack of depth and real connection missing from these relationships.
  • Sinkers are the kinds of friendships where you realize that your energy is drained or decreased when you’re around or with these friends.

One of the ways you can really stretch yourself with your friendship evaluation is to as well as taking an inventory of your friends take an inventory on how you imagine your friends see you in any of the above roles.

  • What friends experience you as the sinker/leaf people?
  • What can you do to change or sift this relationship?
  • Is it time to let it go?
  • What friendships are your rocket or root friendships?
  • With who are you the floater/branch people? What would move this friendship into a rocket or root relationship?
  • What friendships is it time to let go of?
  • Who are potential rocket or root people who you might have overlooked in your life?

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Living Trees In The Guyanese Rain Forests

Monday, November 11th, 2013












My friend Janet sent me this stunning image of this great tree in the Guyanese Rain forests.  It’s breathtaking.

Spot the man in the photo. I only saw him on my third look. Those raised roots had me mesmerised.

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Tree Oracle & Card Decks

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Tree_KitsHere are three of the Tree Kits in my collection. I’ll sometimes introduce them on writing workshops as a way of connecting with nature and trees and also as a way of learning about the different energies associated with trees along with some of the more ancient customs and traditions of certain trees.

I always find whether I am working in the corporate world or working in the arts or public sector that there’s always a genuine and often curious interest amongst the audience whatever rank and profession when we start to talk about trees and what trees mean to us. This is often a good link to health and well-being.

I’ll often find myself using the metaphor describing the nature trees in my coaching work or even in creative writing workshops as prompts for example:

  • Where could you go out on a limb?
  • What would help you become rooted around this issue?
  • If you were a tree what shape would you be in right now?
  • What might you need to shed right now?

In fact I think I’ll respond to some of those questions later on today when I have some time to write in my journal

The tree kits featured in this photo include?

The Wisdom Of Tree Oracles Jane Struthers, Tree Affirmation Cards Victoria Sofia Lewis & The Celtic Tree Oracle Colin Murray

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Autumn Leaves

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013














I’ve just read the poem below in Janette Blakemore’s Sacred Moments newsletter and wanted to share it with you this afternoon on the blog.

See what you think. It made me want to leave the desk

I am working at and go out and take photo’s of leaves.

The poem is untitled.


Leaf by leaf they tumble and fall

All my haggard hurts.

Like a cottonwood tree ever so slowly letting go,

So the heartache of my heart.

There goes a bit of sadness, now a leaf of anger flies,

Then it’s the dropping of self-pity.

The leaf of forgiveness takes forever to fall,

Almost as long as non-trusting.

Leaf by leaf they fall from my heart,

Like a tree in its own time.

Old wounds don’t heal quickly, they drop in despairing slowness

Never looking at the clock.

It seems a forever process this healing of the hurt

And I am none too patient.

But a quiet day finally comes when the old tree with no leaves

Is decidedly ready for the new.

And in my waiting heart, the branches with no leaves

Have just a hint of green.

Joyce Rupp (prolific writer, retreat and conference speaker and spiritual midwife)



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Baobab Magic

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Sandra and Jackee 1











I spent the last two weeks in Barbados on holiday and found time once again to go visit the oldest tree on the island, my favourite tree the Baobab tree in Bridgetown’s Queen Park. This is a ritual I’ve adopted every time I’m on the island. My visits to the island every year never feel complete until I have made time to go visit the Baobab.

This trip I was accompanied by my friend from the UK, Sandra Richards who is now living on the island and working at the University of the West Indies.

It was a lovely moment sharing this treasure with Sandra who shared in my delight at this exquisite specimen.

It was strange, as the cricketers playing Saturday afternoon cricket had turned the ground around the tree into a parking lot.  It seemed unnatural the sight of modern day cars juxtaposed against the backdrop of this ancient tree especially as I have been feeling more and more that this tree needs to be provided with some form of secure protection given it’s history and it’s heritage.

Still I am confident that this tree will be with us for many years and moons to come.

Enjoy this month’s photos and self-portraits of Sandra and I visiting The Queens Park Baobab tree.













































Thousand Year Old Baobab

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Baobab _Tree_Africa








Feast your eyes on this amazing Baobab tree in Africa.

I can only imagine what stories and history of the village this tree has witnessed.

  • What are this trees stories?
  • How old do you imagine this tree to be?
  • What name would you give to this tree?

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Writing For Our Lives Retreat 2013: Awe & Wonder

Friday, August 16th, 2013












Our Writing For Our Lives Retreat in July 2013 in mystical Glastonbury was magical

Glastonbury was the perfect writing spot. The sun stayed out and played with us























































The trees waved and held the space whilst the breeze danced  and swirled offering a comforting breeze against the sun’s heat

On the first night as we got acquainted under the branches of a great tree, Badger came

We wrote, walked, wrote, walked and talked and wrote and wrote

We played, rested, ate well, shared, deepened and unbuttoned

The Wild self came out to play on and off the page












We fed our writing and creativity in a space of ceremony, ritual, inner reflection and emptying on the page

We entered silence and many did not want to break the sweet territory of silence once the time was up












We woke at 4am and did a silent walk up the Tor and greeted the day with the Rising Sun, the howling wind and the crows

It was a natural high, the body sang and rejoiced















We walked to Chalice Wells Gardens and wrote and Dee found her sacred writing spot

We read and shared with each other









































Wrote each other affirmations and word gifts

When the time came to leave we did not want to return home

We’re doing it all again next year April 2014

Don’t leave it too late to join us next year

It’s too good a writing retreat to miss

It’s more than a writing retreat so come find out

Your writing self will hug and be delighted for you.

In the meantime enjoy some of the photos and video testimonials from our 2013 Writing For Our Lives retreat

Photo credits Lynne Philp & Jackee Holder July 2013

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Shadows, Cameras and Self Portraits

Saturday, July 27th, 2013















Last week was the second Writing For Our Lives writer’s retreat, which this year we hosted in the sensory and mystical landscape of Glastonbury

Here are a few of the images I captured of the trees on the grounds of the Abbey House retreat centre where we stayed. I love the photo where I captured my own shadow.















The images also include a few of the self-portraits that I ritually take of myself with trees. It’s a photographic assignment I always assign myself when amongst great trees. I spent half an hour clicking away to my hearts content underneath an awesome Pine tree on the grounds.





















My whole face comes alive when I take self-portraits and I do feel that a different part of me surfaces and comes out to play.

I believe we take better photos of ourselves than the many attempts that are made by others often not very successfully to capture and really see our souls from behind the lens. Try it.

One of the writing rituals during our weekend included reading out aloud a chosen piece of writing that had been worked on during the weekend in the company and presence of a tree before it was read aloud in the main group. This turned out to be both a magical and shifting experience for many of the writers.IMG_4637














I can’t wait for retreat number three. More images to come on the blog.

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Flowers For Sale – Leave the Pound in the jar

Monday, July 15th, 2013












In this gorgeous weather today I had the opportunity to walk along the residential streets parallel to my local High Street.

It was great for the senses to take in all the different sounds, smells and colours. I enjoyed sauntering along.

I snapped this photo of a tray on the wall of someone home. They had placed small bunches of delicate flowers in a jar and asked for £1.00

donation for each bunch. There was a sign advising you to drop the pound coin into the jar.

How lovely was that?

  • What acts of kindness have you seen people in your neighbourhood do?
  • What acts of kindness have you given to others in your local area?

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The Divinity Of Trees

Saturday, July 13th, 2013


By now you know how much I love trees. Today whilst driving in my car in traffic with the roof down I stopped under the sprawling branches of a shimmering Oak tree dancing in the light of the Sun’s rays. 

That’s why I wanted to share this quote today sent to me by a former colleague Esther Waldron who posted the following excerpt from Thomas Merton, Seeds Of Contemplation on, The Soul Of The Rose website:

‘A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him. It “consents,” so to speak, to His creative love. It is expressing an idea which, is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him. If it tried to be like something else, which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.

…This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.’

Religious or not the quote draws parallels with the tree being uniquely itself and reminds me of how we can also mirror this in our writing by writing from a voice that is our own and not trying to imitate the voices of others. 

I find this comforting when at a time when the market place is crowded with thousands sharing their message. Having a voice, a voice that pitches from the authentic realms from within will enable your writing to stand out from the masses.

Our best writing comes from when we write from who we are not who we want to be or who we think we should be. Your writing voice is when you find that ping in what you want to write about and express it in a voice that is your truly and authentically your own. 

I believe wholeheartedly that there is much for us to learn from trees. I will be drawing on their energies and how they can inspire us both on and off the page at my writing retreat next Thursday 19th July until lunchtime on Sunday 21st July 2013. There are still places left. Go here to book:

Remember who you are is how you write. You’ll never see an Oak trying to be a Willow or a Rose masquerading as a Daffodil. It will be a weekend of recovering your true voice and discover how you bring new ideas and a new perspective to your work.

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