life lessons from muir woods

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In July, our girls were off to Europe for two weeks to visit their best friends so, Neal and I, decided to visit California. It’s been a long time dream to visit San Fransisco and Muir Woods. After three days in San Fransisco, we headed out to Muir Woods and Napa Valley.

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I knew Muir Woods was going to be a magical and sacred place to be in. What I didn’t expect was the deep silence and stillness that descended upon us as we entered the forest. I don’t think I can find the words to communicate what it feels like to walk among 1000 year old trees that can be as tall as 350ft. Humbled doesn’t begin to describe it.

As we began our hike, we stumbled upon a small group of people listening to a park ranger explaining about the redwoods. We stopped to listen and that’s when I learned about the life secrets that have allowed redwoods to live up to 2000 years.

  • A large redwood tree needs 500 gallons of water each day. Sounds like a lot? Well, it is and the trees get their water from the rain and fog which is prevalent in the area.
  • The root system of the redwood tree is surprisingly shallow – no deeper than 6-12 feet – but the major roots can typically spread 50 to 80 feet. One of the ways the trees are able to remain upright is by growing close together with other redwood trees and interlocking root systems.
  • Their bark which can be 6-12 inches thick contains tannin which provides protection against fire, insects, fungus, and diseases. There is no insect that can kill a redwood.
  • One of the keys to the survival of the redwood is its regenerative abilities. When a redwood is damaged or injured, it develops a lumpy outgrowth at its base. Saplings may sprout from these burls.
  • Fallen redwood logs serve as nurseries for the growth of new trees.
  • Most of the height of a redwood tree is gained during the first 100 years. The mature redwoods tend to lose their lower limbs. This creates a canopy which is characteristic of the redwood forest. These canopies provide support for a variety of creatures and prevent loss of moisture.

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The more I listened the more I could see timeless messages for well being and growth emerging. It appears that what works for redwoods can definitely work for us.

  • Finding the environment that supports us and thriving in it – Every gardener knows that certain plants thrive in certain conditions. We too need to find the environment that supports our growth and development. Feeling stunted and held back? Let’s take a look around. Is our environment supporting what we’re trying to do and who we’re trying to be?
  • Developing a strong community we can lean on – We’re not meant to be alone and do it all by ourselves. Finding our tribe and learning to give and receive makes us stronger and resilient.
  • Giving back – As a member of a strong community we need to do our part. What are our special gifts? What makes us valuable members of a community? Sharing our strengths and wisdom, becoming a mentor, and seeking opportunities to help and give back; that’s what it’s all about.
  • Hydrating – Health and well being are priorities. A strong body will allow us to do what we want. Drink lots of water throughout the day and eat healthy, nutritional food.
  • Standing Tall – To maintain our perspective we need to stand tall and look at a situation from above. We can’t let challenges and daily irritations bring us down. Stand tall at the center of your life and take the view in. How does your world look from above?
  • Protecting ourselves; developing “thick skin” – Our heart may be in the right place but this will not always protect us. Do not fall victim to your sensitivities. Develop strong boundaries and keep saboteurs away. Being kind, generous, and open doesn’t mean that all is welcome through the doors. Use discrimination. Choose wisely.
  • Regenerating often – Things will not always work out the way they were intended. Stuff happens. We may feel weakened, hurt, demotivated. Let’s give ourselves the chance to regenerate often. Let’s use our resources, inner and outer, to heal and strengthen.

Now . . . Tell us! What rings true to you? Which one of the life secrets of the redwoods are you ready to adopt? What are your thoughts on the subject?

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