Jacque Fletcher is a colleague, friend and Founder of Heartwood Healing, an education and training organization that helps people activate their own self-mastery to create sustainable health and wellbeing. A post she wrote earlier this year came to mind recently, and I thought I would share it with you here:

“I often do this as a practice for something I’m missing or need more of in my life. I identify something in nature that has the characteristics I need more of and then I emulate it.  I’ll give you a few examples: If I feel stuck in my head and need a bigger picture perspective, I think of the majestic flight of the eagle and how effortlessly they can soar through the air. How powerful their vision is. If I need more peace, I remember the stillness of Pelican Lake on a day with no wind and the refreshing sound those little baby waves make on the shoreline. Then I carry that peace with me into every interaction and conversation I have. Right now, I’m drawing strength from the fact that the white oaks in my backyard don’t lose their leaves until spring so if we really do run out of toilet paper… kidding! (Sort of.) Since life is always growing, you can always find something to draw strength from when you get outside. So, what do you need more of today? I bet you can find something in nature that can help you. Ready to step outside?

What are you needing more of today? Personally, I loved Jacque’s invitation to see nature as a mentor to our lives. Here are three ways I take Jacque’s advice to heart:

  1. The flow of water – I live on the Mississippi River and every day; I can look out my office window and see the water flowing downstream towards the Twin Cities and eventually New Orleans. The constant flow of water helps me learn how to go with the current (flow) of the larger system around me. It helps me tune into the larger system and notice the direction it is flowing in. If I can align with that system, the change work I engage in is more successful and sustainable. My role is to align with that system and help others to do the same.
  2. Wind in the trees – When I am stressed, I take time to watch the wind flowing through the trees. There is something relaxing and peaceful about watching wind move the leaves and branches. When I sync my breathing with the rhythm of the leaves swaying my whole body shifts. I let go of the stress I am holding and become more fully in the present moment. A few minutes of this breathing and observing the wind blowing through the trees centers me.
  3. The return of spring in the garden – When I am impatient, I take time to walk my garden in the spring as my plants come to life after a long winter. Each morning and evening I walk through my gardens looking for signs of new growth, or the tops of bulbs peeking out of the ground. This routine helps me have faith that we are all predisposed to grow and that this process will occur on its own timetable. I can’t force the growth to go faster, but I can look for signs that life is coming back from its hibernation. I can notice the ongoing progress through little signs that something is happening under the ground. One day there is just a small green shoot that is barely discernible,  and the next day that green bud has grown an inch.

When we engage in system change work, the beginning of it can be like bringing the system back to life. In my garden it always starts slowly and then gathers speed. Organizational change in a living system behaves like my garden does. Walking my garden in spring helps me remember that systems change starts with small signs.

It may be a while before my garden returns, but in the meantime I’m thinking of other ways that nature reminds us of its constant change and fabulous cycles. What are the favorite lessons nature has taught you?