Resilience: Some people believe it’s about ‘bouncing back’ or recovering quickly from adversity. I think it’s more about letting go rather than returning to what once was. I’ve learned Mother Nature is the epitome of resilience, and from her trees, I learned five lessons to thrive.


Springtime is the ultimate and most natural expression of resilience I can imagine. Every living thing ‘wakes up’ and sheds the layers of self-protection it created to survive the harshness of Winter. Seeds are the perfect example: they cling to perfectly designed protective testa (inner layer) and tegmen (outer layer) until soil conditions are ideal for germination. One day the land seems bare. Then with exquisite perfection, colorful wildflowers and perennial flower bulbs vibrantly remind us of Nature’s resilience.


As a park ranger, I worked outside all year round. I eagerly looked forward to the emergence of the perennial Grass Widow, densely tufted, conspicuous, green sword-like blades and purple blooms. This regional ‘first sign of Spring’ reminded me of my seasonal resilience. Soon, I, too, would shed layers of weather-proof protective clothing and re-connect to Earth’s life-supporting energy.


Wildflowers and warm weather draw a continuous stream of park visitors, long days, and demand for information. Uninterrupted breaks were few and far between. Resilence took the form of adaptability, flexibility, and creativity. For me, I found my reprieve in the trees, where park visitors scurried below me, utterly oblivious to my presence. The crook of a tree is always a great place to pause and reflect. Every tree has a unique story with a lesson just waiting for discovery.


Five lessons about resilience from a bird-like perspective


Today, I share five lessons about resilience that I learned while in the high perch of bird-like perspective. My pattern of observation began with the movements below me, then narrowed to the details of my surroundings and then of the trees themselves. Every tree started to tell me its own story of resilience and letting go.


The Purple Leaf Maple taught me to first put energy into the things that sustain me as it does by feeding its distinctive ‘helicopter seeds’ before generating its life-supporting leaves.


The Green Willow taught me the value of being flexible when the environment is harsh and robust forces push against me. Flexibility flows. Rigidity causes things to break.


The Ponderosa Pine Cone taught me how to bounce back after an event that seems traumatic. It needs fire to release seeds from the cones and regenerate a new forest.


Many tree species, both wild and ornamental, will ‘self-seal’ or ‘self-heal’ exterior wounds like pruning scars and partially cracked limbs to protect themselves from bugs and disease.


The most fantastic story of resilience comes from the deliberate nap-taking of Deciduous (leaf-barring) trees as they shut down cell-divisional growth function and store energy deep in the roots for later use! Who can argue with napping and replenishing energy to thrive?

A few years ago PBS published a fabulous piece that supports my belief about nature. Check it out here.


The summary lesson- any day in a tree is a good day.

Take a break from the world. Change your perspective. Resilience is within us all and accessible to us if we slow down and observe the natural order of things. We can emulate Nature’s strength, flexibility, durability, irrepressibility, and adaptability. Get curious. Listen to the whispered musings of the tree spirits and ground yourself to the rhythm of the Earth. Sit quietly among them. You can’t help but feel nurtured, sustained, and a new sense of replenishment.


Next time you are in a park, look around. You might see your own story of resilience woven among the limbs and leaves and the bark of the trees. And remember, if you look up and see me, give me a nod or a wave, and don’t give me away. I’m creating my resilience to get through the day!

Diane McClay

Diane McClay

Empowerment Coach/ Generous Optimist / Compassionate Storyteller/Champion of Choice and Courage

Diane McClay is in the business of effecting positive change by engaging choice and exploring life with courage. Founder of The Choice and Courage Company,© Diane believes the keys for emotional freedom lie within Awareness, Choice and Perspective.

Diane hosts two, live radio shows on Transformation Talk Radio featuring insightful conversations and compassionate storytelling. Each episode highlights new opportunities to reframe fear and regret and transform one’s self into a lighter way of living.

Diane draws inspiration from her Pacific Northwest playground, dogs, and 23-year-career as Park Ranger. Nature and service continue to be the nexus to clarity, creativity, confidence.

“As a kid, I dreamed of being a park ranger and a published author. Ironically, my first published work came after the fallout of leaving a dream career. The Choice and Courage Company was born from the lessons I learned along that journey.”

Diane is a founding member of and contributor to the Kornelia Stephanie Media Group Ap (downloadable free from Apple or Google Play stores).