The cherry tree out back

When I was in elementary school, we lived in a house with a cherry tree in the backyard. 

It occupied a corner raised by a brick terrace with soft dirt that when watered turned to mud at the base. I became intimately familiar with this tree somewhere between 1st and 2nd grade. The summer blossoms turned to fruit and its boughs became my haven. My safe place to hide and devour the sweet fruit to my heart’s content.

I still remember the soft silky bark on my hands and toes, my nimble bare feet helping me to find my way into a spot where I could lean comfortably back on my seat and reach out gracefully to pluck the perfect cherries over and over again.

It was dark in those branches even as the sunlight filtered gently through the green leaves. I felt hidden from the world, the noises from inside the house sounding like a distant land. It was my sanctuary, for only I could fit up on the limbs without breaking any, with the ability to climb high enough to reach fruit no one else could.

When I returned to earth again, I was greeted by the cold mud that would squish out between my toes. I’d use the hose to wash my feet clean in the grass and my mom would bring me an old towel to dry them off before coming back inside.

That tree gave me time alone, time to be with myself and my own senses. To feel at peace and nurtured by this special place that felt made just for me.

I realize now as an adult how important it is to find a special sanctuary for myself. Where I can think and feel and just be. Without influence from others, the busyness of my tasks or demands of anything else. 

I still find a unique treasure in my senses. Taste, touch, smell, beauty and sound are all extremely satisfying and serve as reliable reminders of the miraculousness of living.

My size, shape and identity continue to evolve as I have from my childhood up to now. Yet there is a part of me I bring with me at every step. Sure there is trauma, bad memories and fearful triggers that have me flinch and feel the need to protect myself in defense.

I’m always working on recovering ways to nurture myself. Remembering how to keep myself feeling safe, relaxed and at peace. To let go of worry and stressing over the future or past because it takes so much energy and focus and ultimately is just draining. 

Knowing how important it is to have a safe and private space for myself, I continue to seek what that will look like next. I’ve moved more times than I can count on two hands in my lifetime. I’ve shared homes and work space with partners, colleagues, housemates, my kids, other people’s kids, strangers and dear friends–all with unpredictable influence and outcomes. Each time I learn and grow, but there is something essential in finding a place to rest and restore. To breathe deep and check in with myself. 

To feel out where I am now because the world and I are always changing.

The better I know myself, the better I become at navigating and showing up in my authenticity so I’m not trying to defend and protect myself all the time. I’m more grounded and confident. I allow myself my flaws and mistakes more easily. I fall in love with who I am and who I am becoming all over again and that increases my capacity to share love with others.

I hope you have a safe space for yourself. I hope you find one soon if you don’t. I hope you remember how essential it is and know that you deserve to have some time and space for yourself. Get creative, even if it means finding a tree to climb up into, somewhere in nature!

It’s way too easy to get caught up in the things going on around us and to want to be a part of it all and to not want to miss anything. 

You can find safe space with others as well. In groups and communities where you feel a sense of belonging, acceptance and understanding. A place to restore and share without feeling judged or criticized. Where you’re surrounded by others who shine the light on your best qualities.

Identifying what one needs to thrive is indeed unique. Make a list and refer to it. Create a collage with images that capture your senses. Find those who emulate what you desire and look at them as the ones who are holding the door open for you to do the same because they are proof that it can be done.

I encourage you to assess what you desire, need and dream of over and over again. Stay curious and stay receptive. Share your Visions with people you trust and nurture them day by day. 

Enjoy the beauty of where you are at the same time. 

Take it all in for the magnificence it is; notice the sounds, tastes, smells, textures and colors.

You will never be in this place or time again.

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