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 Venice Canals on a rainy winter day. 1.5.2016

When I was a little girl, I remember that going outside at night was scary!  The shapes in the trees and the shadows in the bushes gave me the heebie-jeebies!  A few days ago, I went outside at night and I saw that the maple trees had lost their leaves.  “Ah, winter”, I thought to myself.  I went up to one of the trees to admire it.  It towered over me with its twisting bare branches and its reddish winter buds that seemed to resemble bugs.  It was cold for a winter night in L.A., dipping down into the 40s.  The air was still and the street quiet.  There was no one around save the shadows and the sounds of my heart beating.  My mind was busy, and the “what-ifs” started whispering in my ear.  What if something jumped out of the shadows?  What if a creepy person snuck up behind me?  What if the tree buds really were bugs getting ready to crawl all over me?!

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

  My mind had taken over and my body froze.  Fear brought chills that crept up and down my spine.  On some level, I knew that this was all a story my mind had made up and that there was nothing to be afraid of.  But, the unknown of what I couldn’t see, what my mind couldn’t figure out, was giving me the creeps!  What was that sound?!  Adrenaline kicked in and I was able to get back home where I was safe.  The light was on, everything was where it should be, and I was calm again.

  Courage: the ability to do something that frightens you.  Many times fear can have a negative connotation, but without fear, we would not have courage.  Fear is an emotion.  Like other emotions, fear is natural.  It is important to let ourselves feel fear because it has a legitimate role to play in our lives. 

When was the last time you were afraid to do something?  What happened?  Did you do it anyways and transform fear into courage?  Or did you feel overcome by fear and let it deter you from your ambitions?

In fact, what are your ambitions?  The maple tree has an ambition to save up its energy in the winter so that it may bloom and grow new leaves in the spring.  The maple tree doesn’t question who it is, it lives from an intrinsic knowledge that it is a maple tree and this is what maple trees do! 

We, also, were born with a distinct personality and unique force that makes us who we are.  Unlike the maple, though, we sometimes forget who we are.  We get distracted, oftentimes by our own minds, and lose track of what makes us us!

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

What makes you you?  Let us take a hint this winter season from the maple tree and contemplate who we are. 

*What did you know about yourself when you were only a child?

*What have you learned about yourself as you have gotten older?

*What patterns have you noticed about yourself?

*What are your ambitions?

*What are you afraid to do?

A lot of times we are afraid to do what we want or need to do the most.  Yet, we become afraid to see who we truly are, the deepest parts of ourselves.  To celebrate our untapped source, we can foster our own special qualities and keep them sacred by exerting as little energy as possible this season.  The maple tree is conserving its energy by not growing new leaves just yet.  But when it does, it will be magnificent!  Let us not be hasty to do too much in a season that beckons us to do very little.  When I was with the maple tree this season, I got the sense that it was giving off a feeling of fear in order to keep itself sacred and deflect harm that may come its way.  And it worked!

A couple years ago, I had a completely different experience with a maple tree in the summertime.  I was in Oregon visiting family with my husband, Marshall, and we came across a Big Leaf Maple.  I sat with the tree in the park and observed it and felt into its energy.  There was someone nearby playing a cello.  It was soothing and relaxing and I laid down next to the Big Leaf Maple on the ground.  I closed my eyes and let my spirit journey to meet the spirit of the tree.  There, I asked BLM for his medicine so that I could bring the medicine back to my clients.  It told me to turn my face to the sun and I did.  Then, I said I didn’t want to.  It asked why and I said it was too bright.  BLM said, “Do what is right for you.  You don’t need to do something someone says if it isn’t right for you”.  Then, still in the dream journey, we sailed together down the nearby stream.  When we came to an obstacle such as a rock, we simply went around it, not letting any fear get in our way.  If the boulder was big, the water simply built up with courage and went around it.  At the end of our time together, I thanked the Big Leaf Maple for its wisdom.  Now, in my Plant Spirit Medicine practice, I call on the spirit of the BLM when I have a client who could use some courage and help getting around obstacles with ease and calmness.  And Big Leaf Maple is happy to help.

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

If the maple tree didn't know to stay quiet in the wintertime, it wouldn't have had the energy in the spring and summer to display its gorgeous leaves and flowers.  And it wouldn't have shared the same depth of wisdom, bringing more healing to my clients.  The maple wouldn't have been living up to its potential.  And neither will we this year if we don't take the time to tap into our own purity.  So let's take the time to do "nothing" this winter.  I think we will find that doing "nothing" can do a lot.

(c)Elizabeth Noble Photos

AuthorCourtney Shelburne