I was teetering on the edge of depression.
It was December 2015 and for the past year I had been sidelined by a chronic foot injury. One step with my left foot sent sharp spears of pain from the sole up through my heel and ankle, causing the muscles around my shin to cramp and spasm at random moments.
I had tried everything. Acupuncture, massage, chiropractic. Active release therapy, shockwave therapy, physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises. I swam laps. I got orthotics. We bought a Bemer (not a small investment) so I could treat my foot multiple times a day with pulsed electro magnetic field therapy.
I meditated. I visualized. I prayed. I did deep energetic healing to address the psycho-spiritual root of the injury.
By December, I had recovered a tiny fraction of movement. But a sedentary year had taken its toll. Not just physically. But emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too. I was stuck, afraid I’d never regain freedom of movement without pain and flirting with my old adversary—depression.
I was desperate.
At about the same time, I had been following on Instagram a #100daysproject by my artist friend Cassia Cogger. I loved having a front row seat to her unfolding exploration of #100simplecircles. I loved feeling connected to her through her daily expression. And I was awed by her commitment to show up for herself and her art every single day, no matter what was going on in her world.
I was inspired.
What if I took on my own #100daysproject? Could I shift my attention away from the fear of permanent pain and loss of mobility? Could I shift my attention away from the fear of being defenseless against depression? Could I direct my focus towards something more life-affirming?
It was out of this desperation to find my way back to myself that I launched 100 Days of Trees. The plan was simple and straight-forward: Get outside. Take a walk. Find a tree. Take a picture. 100 days straight.
I’m not sure why I picked trees. My relationship to trees up until then had been one of passing familiarity. They were things to climb. Places to hide. Perches from which to observe the world. I could have just as easily chosen 100 days of rocks, or feathers, or some other element from nature.
But trees it was. By some act of grace.
I don’t know. Maybe they found me. Or maybe, like most good love affairs, we found each other. And, as with most good love affairs, the journey of discovering Other became the journey of discovering Self in new, refreshing and expansive ways.
Many days the trees had messages for me—simple, clear invitations to resonate with a quality, like “peace” or “beauty.”
Often I would bring a challenge — a stubborn inner struggle or a sticky interpersonal situation — and it was as if the trees held a vast, open space of unconditional love for me to be with what is, and then gently guided me out of my own myopic view of things into an understanding rooted in timeless wisdom.
I wish I could describe to you in a way that truly captures what unfolded over the course of those 100 days. Perhaps better than using words, I’ll let the trees and their pictures speak for themselves. You can find all 100 of them on Instagram with the #100daysoftreesbyelizabeth hashtag.
Suffice it to say, I returned from each of these daily visits transformed.
And my fear of depression? It just slipped away quietly, day by day. As for my left foot, well, it took another year for it to finally release. It was these baby steps that got me back in motion and set me on the course of full recovery.
But the other unexpected treasure in all of this was the gift of connection to others.
Friends began to follow and connect with me on social media through the medium of trees. Many began posting their own tree pictures, sharing their own experiences. To this day, nearly three years later, I continue to receive reports and pictures from friends about a tree they just met or an experience they just had. It has brought me so much joy to share the tree love with others in this way.
Which brings me to today.
Because there’s a next chapter to this love affair. And you’re invited.
It’s a community experiment called September Trees 2018.
You see, I’m longing to go deeper with the trees right now, but this time in the company of friends.
For many of us, with all that is happening in the world, connecting with nature in whatever form feels like an imperative. We are bombarded daily with invitations to lose our center, to drop into the lower frequencies of judgment, fear and powerlessness. Connecting with nature can be the antidote, the grounding force that helps us remember the truth of who we are—infinite beings exploring the world of form and all the opportunities for growth and creativity this realm offers us.
Nature, the trees, are here for us and with us.
That’s why I’m launching this community experiment for the month of September. It’s an open invitation to connect with nature and trees in this way. It’s for anyone who wants to join, in whatever manner they want to participate.
It’s a very simple idea: for the month of September, get outside every day and take a picture of a tree. That’s it.
Just imagine a community of us creating a shared field of beauty and wisdom, lifting ourselves and our world in gentle yet profound ways.
Will you join us?
There are no hard rules to this community experiment. You can participate in whatever way feels delicious to you. However, if you would like some guidelines, they are:
- For the month of September, get outside every day and take a picture of a tree.
- Post your tree photos to Instagram with the #SeptemberTrees2018 hashtag.
- Join the Facebook group to share and connect there.
All the details are over here.
Infinite love and blessings,
PS – Remember this is an open invitation, and there are no real “rules,” so make of it something that nourishes your soul. And be sure to share your photos with the #SeptemberTrees2018.