When Life Has Other Plans: Be an Oak Tree?

My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well– the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.

– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything

I read Eat, Pray, Love the summer after I finished chemo. I decided that to make myself whole after slowly losing parts of myself literally and figuratively.  I needed to go on a journey to disconnect and reconnect. I started by returning to the oak tree, the future me I saw myself becoming prior to cancer. I had to go back, connect with myself, learn to find myself and recuperate the “me” that I had created in the years where everything was possible, the days where life had not yet started to chip away at the shell of possibility that was holding back the hue of cynicism.  I finished chemo February 14th and four months later I began my Yoga Teacher Training at Samadhi Center for Yoga and Meditation in Denver. The intensive month course was started and completed with a single boob and a pretty cracked spirit- the spirit part was much better by the end. I clearly remember the first day, being intimidated by the beautiful yogis that surrounded me, by their flexibility, their experience, and their wonder. The only reason I felt comfortable applying for the program was that it has been on my bucket list and at a Tias Little training, I met two of the super women that would be my instructors, Beth & Anne. Their immediate warmth and encouragement sealed the deal, in my impromptu way, I signed up and got ready for the adventure.

I strongly believe that the universe had everything happen to shake my settling in the wrong place. I had bought a house in Denver, I was engaged, I was ready to plant roots.  Yet,  I had another path to take  I had somehow left it to the side. Getting sick ended up being one of the best things that happened to me because I am where I am now. Recently I went through an earthquake and a tsunami in my life at the same time. I fostered a beautiful little boy from his fifth day of life to his 7th month. I thought I would end up adopting him, but I didn’t, and again my foundation was shaken and my soul was torn. With time and analysis, it has become clear that I needed to be there for him when I was.  I will always be there for him, even if he is not with me and luckily his biological mom lets me know how he is doing.  I am a firm believer that every part of my life has played out the precise way that it has needed to and my life was gifted by his presence.

This clarity didn’t happen overnight, actually, it has been a month and nine days since he has been out of my care.  It has taken time to find out what I needed to heal.  Initially, I couldn’t process the present, I went from a mommy to a mummy. That is when my tribe stepped in, I started going for long walks and talking things out with Laura. I wrote things down, I read, I started to feel the rush of excitement and possibility. And in one instant, I am not sure how, or when, I decided to go back to my bucket list and become a divemaster. I wrote a blog about it!  What provoked me to be alive again was finding the future self I wanted to be, being able to see myself as the grand oak tree I had designed. I had to go back to the person I wanted, hoped to be, I had to face that my reason for going through the process of fostering was because I wanted to love unconditionally and pour all of myself into someone else.  The universe granted me exactly that, for seven months. It makes sense now that the tides had to change.   We don’t experience life to get what we want, we experience life to get what we need.

I am still envisioning the oak tree I want to become past getting my divemaster (PADI instructor) certification. Oak trees actually live for hundreds of years, which I won’t,  but at least, just like they do, I know I can survive dry periods.  I know little else about what the future holds, actually even those things I hope for are just that- hopes for things I want to become a reality.

Right I only know this with 100% certainty:

  • I have a one-way ticket to Roatan.
  • I practice yoga daily
  • I am healthy
  • I am discerning
  • I will not compromise my dreams
  • I don’t love to depletion
  • I hold things with a palm open
  • I step out of the way for those who try to run me over
  • I live each day like it is my last
  • I write, sing and dance on a daily basis

I try to be mindful that today, this very instant and this very second will never happen again. We get one chance at this journey.

I won’t be famous, but I hope that when my time comes, people remember me and smile. I hope that in some way my footprint on this world has made someone inspired and maybe, just maybe, brought a little bit of hope.

I love the definition of success of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. If you have, please share it 🙂 If you have questions or comments please leave them below.


Wishing you love & light!



  1. I love this! Your ability to love with your entire soul, no matter what the potential outcome, is your most beautiful quality. Your oak tree already has so many stories to tell – the branches hung with suncatchers and wind chimes. Keep trusting your journey and never stop loving with all that you have.

  2. Great read, great words and and even better writer! As always your ability to adapt in a positive way has me speechless. I admire you and wish you the absolute best life has to offer!

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