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thoughts on trust

2013 February 8

* I wrote this a year ago, but am needing it hear it again today. Hoping there’s something helpful for you in here too.

This past summer I attended a wild plant workshop with herbalist Doug Simons. Doug is a trippy and endearing character who spent 20 years living primitively in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. He knows the local plants like family, cheerily greeting a valerian plant and then settling by its side to gossip about its characteristics and attributes for the next hour. On our last day together, Doug led us to a patch of yellow arnica flowers and advised us to get comfortable.

“We’re going on a plant journey,” Doug announced, “to meet and connect with your plant guide.”

Meeting our plant guide? My skeptic-o-meter began humming.

I had also been on several plant walks that summer hosted by the local Native Plant Society, which included a lot of the nerdiness I love—addressing plants by their latin names and cataloging them into genus and family—but these walks often felt dry, lacking the spontaneous love-jams to a wild strawberry or any acknowledgement of the plants’ uses. I was trying to reconcile these different styles and figure out where my path lay.

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax your body and mind” Doug instructed us from against a spruce trunk. He explained, with absolutely no irony, how we’d journey through a dark underground tunnel at the end of which we’d meet our plant guide.

I flicked a deer fly off my face. Adjusted position. Scratched my knee. Someone yawned. I might have heard snoring. I imagined walking through this dark underground tunnel. And walking. In the darkness.

Right into the arms of the aspen tree.

Oh, hello aspen.

We chatted, aspen and I. We talked about how, in loving plants, some people are scientific, others more esoteric. The approach doesn’t matter, the aspen said, what matters is your love. This is true of many things. I received the word trust. Everything about the aspen embodied trust:

*being the lone deciduous tree in a forest of conifers (be yourself!)

*bearing leaves through which the mountain winds comb furiously (be flexible!)

*growing and then shedding volumes of leaves annually (let go, courageously!).

Later, Doug asked a few of us to share our experiences. It’s more concrete, he said, when you tell someone. So, I’m telling you all. My word is trust. Trust!

Only one month into the year, trusting has been a powerful practice. It feels like the answer to a dozen multiple choice questions my mind serves up daily. How am I going to homeschool my kids, nurture my marriage, and meet my deadlines, which are stacking up like bottles in our recycling bin?

May I suggest the special of the house: trust?

Trust grew up in the same neighborhood as it’s all good, as the wise elder mentoring all the young upstart slogans. Trust is the bucket of water I throw on the hot flames of my worrying mind. The more I practice trusting, the better I get at it, which looks something like this: trust → gratitude → generosity → happiness →  trust → gratitude…

Trust doesn’t appear to be a passive endeavor, like say, bathing your skin in the glow of the fridge light, hoping everything will get better while you avert your attention. It’s more like throwing your arms around yourself during a meltdown, the way you would your own child, and staying in the fear and self-loathing long enough to see what happens next. And when your mind says, “there’s nooo way you’re gonna meet your deadlines, sister. Face it, your writing ship is going down,” you can see this voice as a little repetitive, boring and familiar, the way your child’s been singing that terrible song your husband taught her for 3 days straight. And then, you breathe in, deeply, and try to hear the other, more uplifting sounds: the birdsong, the wind, the beating of your own wild, hopeful heart.

Trusting hushes my mental feedback so I can clearly see what needs to be done; sometimes nothing needs to be done except leaning into the luckiness of this life.

Do you have a word for the new year? Or a roadmap to trusting? Sharing is powerful. Tell me all about it.



12 Responses leave one →
  1. Tracey permalink
    February 8, 2013

    Thanks Rachel…your post was wonderful and right on! The word I’m living and practicing, and feeding is courage. The last rain we had delivered lots of drops of rain, but there was one drop, one fat drop, that caught my eye. In the moment it took for that drop to fall, I knew, in the constellation of my being, I needed to have courage. The courage to hang out with fear, to feel all the feelings, to say things that might rock the boat, and to write this on your blog and to have someone else read this! Oh crap…’s all good:) Have Courage.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2013

    Love your conversation with the aspen tree.

  3. gretchen permalink
    February 8, 2013

    Thanks for this beautiful post. My life has been profoundly affected by both Doug and Deb’s wisdom. Your reflection adds to the depth and breadth of these lessons that i hope to absorb more fully. In gratitude!

  4. February 8, 2013

    I’m wondering if the written words of one of your sponsors might ring a bell for you? I think this is Leonie Dawson’s best piece It’s 8000 words and a bit all over the place, but worth the effort.

    After reading Leonie’s post, I stopped making long lists of what I wanted to do and felt I needed to do, and I trusted that life would let me know in each moment. Less overwhelm, less anxiety. Now, that’s tricky, because I have three kids, three dogs, two part-time jobs, a house and garden, and a partner. And my memory is not so good these days, but if I can’t remember something then how important was it anyway?

    One thing I realised was that I don’t have to do it all. If all of the laundry didn’t get done for the week, did it matter? As long as the kids have clean clothes for school, and the youngest boy has had a story read to him every night, and I’ve walked them home from school and listened to their stories at afternoon tea after school, then I’ve done a good job. I would like to learn to play guitar and learn another language, but do I really need it? I get to stretch in the morning, meditate once per week, and be nourished by good food and meaningful interactions with other humans, and this life is good.

    When I feel the overwhelm looming, I locate where the feeling is being held in my body, and I breathe it away, and fill that empty space with light and love. Then I can smile.

    Best wishes.

  5. Caraway permalink
    February 8, 2013

    Wow, that is awesome!!!
    That is just what I needed right now, also! Thank you so much Rachel! The amazing photos are nourishment for my soul as well. I can just feel those places. The immensity of the beauty of those Colorado mountains… there is nothing like it.

    Ending with the photo of the children frolicking freely in the mountains is just perfect. Those little people (Col and Rosie) have such a free and trusting life! Yay!


  6. Rachel Buklad permalink
    February 8, 2013

    Beautiful and just what I needed to read today. Thank you!

  7. Emmanuelle permalink
    February 9, 2013

    Dear Rachel,

    This is actually one of the very first posts I read from you (has it only been a year since I started following 6512? Did I really spend the other years unaware of its existence?) and it was love at first reading. Then I got acquainted with the rest of the family (and homestead) and I was even happier :o)

    So this is just to say: trust is one of the real vibes I can feel coming up from my screen when I read your posts and look at your pictures. Trust, love, tenderness, strength, vulnerability: they are all one. We need all of them, all the time.

    Thank you :o)

  8. Ellen permalink
    February 9, 2013

    Of course your plant guide is the Aspen. One tree is so essentially connected to many other trees through its complex underground root system…just as you are so connected to your family, friends, and community. What a great blessing!

  9. February 10, 2013

    Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your conversation with the aspen.

    As I was reading it, I thought of a book by John Daido Loori: The Zen of Creativity. And look! Here’s the part of the book I was thinking of:

  10. February 11, 2013

    my word for this year (and i realize you said this is last year’s post, which i remember and almost want to go back and read what i commented back then. ha. but maybe trust for you is going for a second year?) has yet to be narrowed down, but trust is one of the finalists. it’s kind of a tie between trust and home. home is where i’m doing it all, but trust is how i’m doing it.

    i want to give you a great big giant hug. lest you think nobody noticed you mentioning that special feeling you’ve been having called overwhelmed. i noticed. i know you are in good shape- because you’ve also been mentioning choice and trust. and because if you can name it (oh hey i’m what is called overwhelmed right now) you are half way there already.

    wherever there is. (say, for example, home.)

  11. Molly Wieser permalink
    February 13, 2013

    I think you are way ahead of me on this one. I always think I am just about to get the world under my very personal control, just as soon as I figure out how to eat more vegetables, drink more water, work out some, play with my daughter more, and keep my dishes washed and the beds made, respond with compassion to people who are not nice, and earn a bit more money. But I am cheering from the sidelines. And available lots on weekends and some evenings to play with your kids in your own back yard or at the Needham playground while you work inside, or in the children’s room of the library while you work upstairs, if you need some time to meet a deadline, because I think your writing is important. I recognize that they don’t know me, so I can bring organic lollipops and often, a nice five year old, if that would help.

  12. 1vivigirl permalink
    February 16, 2013

    your words and photos are so beautiful. i, too, am working on trust. along with gratitude and generosity and letting go of the overwhelm. my word, however, is SMILE. the simple action of moving those muscles to reflect what i want to feel can most often get me back to a place of trusting that i am there already.

    and i was so happy to read Hakea’s comment about letting go of lists. i have been wondering why i stopped making lists and she helped me find the answer. sometimes we just need others to help us put words to what we already know. thanks to you both.

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