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Roots: Anchoring People and Plants

A word that washed over me strongly last weekend was ‘roots’.

I listened to my lively mom relive memories from her childhood and young adult years as she slowly drove down old established neighborhoods, introducing my sister and me to the town she’d recently returned to call home. She shared distant memories, mostly happy, as she pointed out streets and places. The word ‘roots’ swirled through my mind as mom talked. Face aglow and voice animated, she was happy. She remembered people, places and experiences that touched her life years ago.

It was interesting to me as a daughter and a developmental coach to observe her experiences of memories, meaning-making, language and somatics. Her mind and body experienced long ago memories and she felt them again now, with frequent somatic shifts throughout her stories. Her body and mind were energetic, with movement and expressions often showing happiness, joy and lightness. She seemed to almost shift to being a young child, teenager, launched career woman, bride, and mother.

I experienced a personal ‘ah ha moment’ then about my roots, and the roots of my children, as I observed my mom. I initially felt a twinge of sadness, yearning. Mom and my children have lengthy roots and history connecting them to one town for their childhood and emerging adulthood. I don’t.

My roots were often transplanted. My family moved every few years due to my dad’s corporate job, except for a 10 year stay in the south. The transitions offered new roots each time.

As I listened more, I felt a wave of understanding, curiosity and gratefulness for their roots, and mine. I understood more deeply what her roots were like for her, what they meant to her. And I was grateful for that insight.

Roots. An interesting word that has called to me in many different ways over the years. Roots can be an anchoring word, for life. For plants, a healthy root system helps anchor and support it. As well for a person. And roots have many appearances and grow in different ways, throughout life.

As a former professional landscape designer, I frequently coached clients on cultivating healthy root systems for their plants. Part of my passion and mission was educating clients about gardens and design. We’d collaborate to create an intentional garden design plan, with nature such a great inspiration.

I often find similarities between developmental coaching and garden design. Sure, people and plants are related. I feel design and nurture offer common threads for both our lives and gardens. Both lives and gardens benefit from some intentional design and nurturing.

A few lightly offered thoughts for cultivating plants/ garden and people/life are:

Plants/ Garden cultivation, thoughts for healthy roots

* Design a garden for spacious root growth. * Nourish a transitioned plant (water, care). * When moving a tree, if possible allow time to carefully root prune it first before transplanting. * When planting a young tree, don’t stake it long. Trees develop a stronger trunk (core) and root system when allowed to sway with buffeting winds. That swaying strengthens the tree and it’s roots.

People/ Life cultivation, thoughts for healthy roots:

*  Design a life for spacious root growth. * Nourish a transitioned person (self-care, community, care). *  When a person moves, if possible allow time to carefully loosen roots first before transplanting. * When launching a young person (or older), don’t hold on long. People may develop a stronger core (centering capacity) when allowed to sway with buffeting life winds. That swaying may strengthen the person and their core.

People may have different interpretations or meaning-making of a word, such as roots, due to their personal experiences. Understanding of a word’s meaning may shift and broaden with new awarenesses and insights of other’s meaning-making.

I appreciate the valuable language, somatics and meaning-making research and training happening around adult development theory. Great awareness and perspective growth emerging there! For me, awareness and perspective growth continued last weekend.

My roots go deep in the garden. Gardens reflect a familiar rooted place for me – a place where I find renewal, joy, and at times healing. Whenever I moved to a new home, the garden is where I’d go to get new roots growing.

Joy and renewal experienced today as I played in the garden planting bamboo rufa, clematis, oakleaf hydrangea ruby slippers and sweet kate spiderwort roots!

Be well,


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