Dear Martha, WTF? Life Advice
At a time when loneliness and grief plagued me, I became friends with a beautiful pine tree I named Martha. Martha opened my eyes to the lessons of Mother Nature, she helped me find the strength and courage I needed to ground myself. I asked her often, Martha, WTF? for many reasons. “Martha, WTF? Why do you undress when it gets cold outside?” or “Martha, WTF? Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Over the years I would walk observing Mother Nature and then sit with Martha. I spoke as she listened and then I listened as she remained quiet. It was there in her silence that I found my clarity and learned to root myself. By rooting myself, I mean becoming grounded. Being grounded does not mean you are enlightened or happy or at peace but it certainly offers one the foundation to become all of those things. Being grounded offers a sense of self-confidence and as anxiety softens, you need not tell everyone everything in a search for acceptance and approval. Being grounded is essential for self-love.
Every Thursday, I will answer questions utilizing the lessons I learned from Martha and Mother Nature. For my first blog, I will answer the questions I asked Martha above.
Dear Martha, WTF? Why do you undress every time it gets cold outside?
I know I could easily google the science behind trees losing their leaves as winter approaches, but I decided early on that if I am talking to a tree, I was only going to use my heart to hear her. While observing Martha over the years standing tall in my front yard naked and bare, I never came up with a good explanation for why she undressed. Many times, I wanted to invite her in but obviously, that was not happening. What I did observe was her year after year braving the frigid temperatures and fighting to survive the storms. She was brave, strong and fearless trusting that soon the earth would warm and she would be okay.
Dear Martha, WTF? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I asked Martha this repeatedly during the time we spent together as I was always trying to understand why tragedy struck my family. I wanted to know why some people suffered in ways I could not imagine. I respected that many people believed “everything happens for a reason” but I did not feel this way. It took many years walking alone in nature and sitting under Martha pondering before I could let go of the anger associated with this quest. As I became more grounded, I simply let go and redirected my focus on what really mattered. If I knew “why”, it may bring some comfort but it would not change anything. It would not bring people back from the dead, end abuses or stop wars. What matters is the control we have over our responses to our hardships. Like Martha enduring the hard winters and moving on, we can use our hardships to open our minds and hearts. It is in our control, although not easy, a choice to be angry or kinder, more present in life. Our hardships are not wasted if we have the courage and strength to allow them to make us our best selves.
Dear Martha, WTF? I am so pissed off at something a friend said to me last night but I don’t feel like getting into a fight.
The more time spent alone without feeling lonely, the more time noticing the beauty in the world, the softer my heart became towards myself and others. By being more loving to myself, I was able to look at my thoughts and behaviors without so much judgment and fear. I could self-reflect without the need to be defensive when in a disagreement with another. In doing this, I was able to accept responsibility and easily say, “I am sorry.” As I grew, my relationships grew, making life sweeter. I worked on the art of listening and looking at situations from other people’s perspectives. And very important, I was careful not to use my thoughts to judge another person’s behavior. Nature works in harmony and the more time spent with nature, the easier it is to incorporate harmony into one’s own life.
Dear Martha, WTF? I don’t feel like having sex!
Yes, I spoke to a tree, but I am not completely nuts. I didn’t expect her to talk back. Nevertheless, I knew what she was thinking. She stood there every morning watching my husband drive off to work before the sun woke me and the children. She saw him getting home late and watched him playing soccer in the yard with the kids. She knew he was a great husband and father and she worried about me pulling away from him. Yet, we often do this to the people we love when we are hurting. The intimacy can feel magnifying to the pain making the situation too real. During my hardest days, I did not want to hug anyone or chat with friends let alone have sex. So, I found ways to be loving by spoiling my family with back rubs and foot massages and I made sure to return a friend’s phone call and just listen. When going through a tough time being cognizant of your behavior, take time to heal but be careful not to push away those you love. Talk to your partner and friends if you need some distance. Most people are very understanding when we let them in.
Dear Martha, WTF? How do I become more loving?
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, I always love to feel the sun’s warmth on my face. Yet, with a deeper focus, this warmth became love. I was intrigued and envious how he made me feel like he was loving just me at that moment. Yet, regardless of race, sex or income, I knew he was loving up everyone else at that same time. I wanted to love like that, to make the people in my life feel respected and appreciated. When thinking of the simplicity of smelling a flower or watching a flock of birds fly in unison overhead, we are reminded of the ease and power of simplicity. A simple compliment on a job well done, a simple act of kindness like pouring someone’s tea or simply asking a stranger how they are doing can bring so much comfort to a person’s life.