Finding Meaning in Life

I am an early riser. Most mornings, I awake before the sun and I sit and sip my coffee or tea and listen to the sounds of nature. Right now, the morning is filled with bird song and the exchange of different melodies. I learned that 90% of wildlife, including some of the Audubon population, mate for life; however, the majority of songbirds’ only mate for a season.

With this month’s focus, I ponder the meaning of life. It appears that the wildlife’s search for meaning only includes food, water, shelter, and safety; the daily efforts of survival. At least it looks that way from my window (except when you catch a baby fox that wondered into the trap destined for the destructive groundhog; a game of catch and release).

I digress for a moment and then joyful singing becomes the focus again. I always thought joyful music came from the birds until one day, when I heard different sounds – in particular, a robin. I was surprised at the change in the melody and then noticed a disruption of the nest and the loss of their eggs and young. Researching the possibilities of grief among wildlife, I learned that birds have legitimate cries of sadness.

Human loss and the sounds of sadness are profound as well. Grief, the normal and natural reaction to loss – any loss – is different for everyone. While mourning is the process that one goes through in adapting to the loss, bereavement is the period that defines the loss to which the person is trying to adapt.

Grief is experienced emotionally, cognitively, physically, spiritually, socially, economically, and behaviorally. While these experiences are not inclusive, it can affect every part of us. The deepest of these is spiritual. At least, that has been my experience, along with most of those I have provided support for. The loss of purpose and meaning in life can rock us to the very core of our existence.

At Hope Grows, we talk a lot about loss, and not just loss from death. Loss is painful. The first night of the graduate grief class I teach involves naming and listing everything that represents a loss. As students engage, the loss of a job, a relationship, a car, a passing grade, the ability to walk, and freedom, to name a few, begin to fill the chalkboard. Soon, an exchange regarding the loss from the death of someone is shared. Discussion evolves to the ability to pivot in difficult situations.

Last month, we shared an article about pivoting and if we focus on what matters most and align our actions with our values, a more meaningful and fulfilling life is the result. Does this really apply though, when struggling through loss? And then, what happens when someone loses their way? Finding and having meaning in life is imperative to good overall well-being, so we are told. It is also at the core of spiritual health.

I, for one, believe that society is in a period of mourning, one of chronic pain that sees no end. The news portrays a society that appears to be challenged from a loss of self, purpose, and identity; spirituality seems to be missing. As mental health needs rise, the cries of sadness seem to go unheard. Mental health needs are at record highs. Young teenagers are flocking to the ER hospitals for depression and anxiety, people are afraid for their safety, the older population struggle with moving from the home they loved, family caregivers are stressed with increased demands, and thirty somethings are struggling to find their way in the job market.

The chronic pain goes on and on, but then, just like in nature, the sounds of sadness can change. How do we help society change the sound of its cries? When one’s soul goes off-center, the antidote is compassion and kindness. Human spiritually evokes existential questions about suffering and meaning, and any validation can help nourish a tired and weary soul, providing a sense of comfort and connection.

I have been in chronic pain (loss) most of my life, physically and spiritually. I have a degenerative spine, arthritis and stenosis, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme’s disease, and several other chronic viruses that go in and out of remission. I’m not sure how long I have had these viruses, since most of adult life doctors always pushed the symptoms aside by calling them “acute” and that it was “all in my head.” It wasn’t until I found a wonderful Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine who became the compassionate and kind soul, validating my symptoms and applying the correct testing to locate the problems.

My apologies, I digress again, but my point is that I had empathy, understanding, and encouragement of practical support. I was then able to explore the deepness of the pain and implement self-care practices that worked. Keep in mind, whatever the loss, it requires a holistic approach that addresses the symptoms, the emotions, and the spiritual needs.

One way to support someone in pain, whether it be individual loss or the societal loss that I was referring, is community. We need to come together and spread kindness. Just like the child blowing the seeds of the spent dandelion into the wind, new growth can happen.

Other ways to help someone in chronic pain, whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual:

  • Empathy and understanding
  • Encouraging self-care practices
  • Providing practical support
  • Encouraging connection and support
  • Promoting spiritual exploration.

Check out our simple suggestions in this week’s “Think Caregiver” email for further tips on this topic.

In summary, helping someone with chronic pain involves addressing their physical symptoms, emotional well-being, and spiritual needs with empathy, compassion, and practical support. By attending to the person’s holistic needs, you can contribute to their healing journey and support their overall well-being, including – and most importantly – the health of their soul. Keep in mind, a dose of nature can be helpful too!

Written by Lisa Story, MSCP, LPC, CT
Hope Grows Founder & Clinical Director

Reluctancy

Leonard Cohen, from his song, Anthem, once said: “there is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I find this to be fascinating. As we all know, our first reaction to a significant loss is a crack, if you will, in our life, and we choose, from the pain, to be reluctant to let any light shine in.

At least it was for me. I remember when I first heard the words, “Dad has pancreatic cancer,” no light was getting through, and for a long while his dying process was handled with busy-ness and avoidance of the reality. While in the mode of visiting him and caring for him, adrenaline kept me going. I thought if I kept myself busy, attending to the family, working, visiting my dad, and taking care of all of the paperwork for him, I could avoid the inevitable: his death.

Boy, was I wrong. If you know me, watched any of the Hope Grows historical videos, or read any of my blog articles, I didn’t just mourn my dad when he died…I mourned my mom who died 20 years prior as well. You see, I was reluctant to believe she died when I was 22 years old and, more importantly, thought that if I didn’t think about her death and got on with my life, I would be just fine.

Wrong! All I did was delay my grief. It came back with a vengeance and bit me in the butt rather hard when my dad died. I mourned both of them, as if they died together. It wasn’t until I let the light shine in, did I then evaluate and learn what I had to offer from my pain.

At that time, I was reluctant; unwilling and resistant to see and learn what was ahead of my pain. Luckily for me, my dad spoke to me through a dream. I was NOT reluctant to believe in a divine intervention through that particular night’s dream. My dad loved being outside, in nature, doing something adventurous, so it was apropos that the dream was of nature. The night of his visit – dream, divine intervention, whatever you what to believe or call it – he took me for a walk in a beautiful garden. The sun rays, the light from it, if you will, was the focus, shining down on me with his smiling face in it.

After waking, I allowed my higher self to begin to see that there was something beyond the dark. I got to a place where I eventually provided a “gift of grief,” as Therese Tappouni shares in her book, The Gifts of Grief, Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss. You see, I had to address the past, the pain and loss, to heal from it. As a grief counselor and educator, I’ve always said, there is no way to heal from grief other than to go through it. And that became the journey of my grief: going through it and not being reluctant from the lesson it was teaching me. From there, my higher self allowed for the gift: the creation of Hope Grows.

So, where does the reluctancy of grieving stem from? Various ways in which we grieve, with the main one stemming from the emotional pain and heartache that comes from loss. Grieving can be emotionally draining, not to mention it can affect us cognitively, physically, spiritually, socially, financially, and behaviorally. Other than the avoidance of the emotional pain and heartache, reluctance can come
from:

  • Time and Energy Constraints: Other obligations, such as work or family requires a significant investment of time and energy.
  • Financial Concerns: Closing out an estate is expensive and time consuming; putting death affairs in order is daunting.
  • Lack of Support: Mourning the loss from death leads to feelings of isolation and burnout. Even with adequate support from family, friends, or community resources, grievers may feel reluctant to reach out.
  • Impact on Personal Life: Balancing all duties with personal needs and aspirations can be challenging. Grievers may feel reluctant and/or think they have to sacrifice their own goals, hobbies, or social life to process loss.
  • Health Concerns: Mourning a loss can take a toll on one’s physical and mental health. Reluctance may arise from concerns about the impact on one’s own wellbeing.

Addressing reluctancy with grief often requires a multifaceted approach that involves recognizing and addressing the underlying causes, seeking support from others, and implementing strategies to manage stress and maintain a healthy balance between all of life’s responsibilities, including personal well-being. This can include seeking respite care, joining support groups, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care techniques. With all of that, Hope Grows is here to support you through your loss and to help with any reluctancy you may be experiencing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our essential oil and flower for the month of March. Oregano essential oil is powerful. According to Spiritual Scents, “The calming properties of oregano oil can relax the mind, balance the emotions, and banish mental fatigue.” Wealthful Mind tells us that the oil is “an herb of joy, safety and lightness of spirit.”

Now let’s take our flower of the month, the sweet pea. Sweet peas are popular ornamental plants grown in gardens and used in floral arrangements for their beauty and fragrance. Symbolically, sweet peas are associated with happiness, pleasure, gratitude, friendship, and delicate beauty – the opposite of what we feel when we are grieving. Pleasant feelings are helpful for any reluctancy.

If you find yourself in a dark place and need to see the light, consider the above blog, talk to someone about the use of oregano oil, and seek out growing some sweet peas this spring. Jess, our Hope Grows, horticulturist, could talk with you about the growing properties of sweet peas and I can chat with you about oregano essential oils.

Written by Lisa Story, MSCP, LPC, CT
Hope Grows Founder & Clinical Director

Disclaimer: This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.

Selflessness

Listening to the news, no matter what channel, often portrays the opposite of selflessness. With crime and war being reported around the clock, political slandering of one candidate or another, and the dramatization of weather and other topics, our minds easily shift to negative. Research tells us that the effects of negativity result in cynicism, hostility, and a repetitive loop of only focusing on the bad. Whether we believe it or not, our immune systems are impacted and physical and mental symptoms arise, such as headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, and depression. Discontent of spirit becomes the cornerstone with which we move forward.

Ugh! Who wants all of that? I sure don’t. I have often said that if the news only reported on the generosity, compassion, and concern for others for one straight month, how much better, collectively, everyone would be? I know, I know…a pipe dream regarding the news, but one can only hope. After all, to love or to care for someone is a selfless act, right? For most of the time, when I look around, I see moments of people demonstrating generosity, compassion, and concern for others. However, on the flip side of this, I also see moments of selfishness.

When I get down and out, I think of stories about people paying it forward, people giving to others just because. I turn to stories such as “what goes around comes around.” The act of giving of self just because and then the receiver of the generosity pays it forward in the way they can, and so on and so on…reading about it is, well, just uplifting.

The month of February is traditionally about love with hearts and cupids; the act of generosity becomes the forefront of our existence, at least, and with hope, for most of us! The dictionary definition of selflessness informs us that the act involves putting the needs, interests, and/or well-being of others before our own, without expecting personal gain or recognition.

The focus of selflessness can be difficult when you are in chronic pain, burnout, or experiencing stress and trauma. A few suggestions to help begins with acknowledging your struggles and being gentle with yourself. A few more tips include:

Dr. Irvine Yalom, an American existential psychiatrist and someone who believed that support groups possessed certain dynamics, is one of my favorite theorists and educators in the field of psychology. He believed that increased healing occurs when the facilitator or counselor fosters a cohesiveness and supportive environment. One thing he is known for is his eleven therapeutic factors for achieving change in a person within a group setting. One of those therapeutic factors that I believe is at the forefront of our month’s focus is altruism.

Altruism is self-sacrifice and selflessness. Once someone becomes a member of a collective group, he/she experiences a sense of worth by helping someone else. Value, purpose, and meaning become the giving force for that person and the result is a sense of pride and confidence.

At Hope Grows, we recommend giving of self through volunteer efforts, especially when grieving. When mourning a loss, emptiness and loneliness becomes prominent and through the act of giving and becoming a member of a collective group helps with a sense of value and purpose; meaning of life begins to return.

So, what do you do when selfless actions turn sour? What gets in the way of truly living a life that is altruistic? Start with evaluating obstacles and challenges that are getting in the way of truly living a life that is selfless. Some of these hindrances are:

  • Ego and a sense of pride can hinder altruïsm. When individuals are driven by a need for recognition or validation, it may undermine the purity of selfless actions.
  • Fear of giving too much of themselves will deplete their own resources.
  • Lack of boundaries makes it difficult to sustain selfless acts over time.
  • If the selfless act is conditional and only offered when certain expectations are met or reciprocated.
  • Unconscious bias or prejudices can influence how individuals choose to extend selfless acts.
  • Lack of empathy can hinder one’s ability to connect and respond to others’ experiences.
  • Societal norms and cultural expectations can emphasize individual success and achievement over collective well-being.

Overcoming these obstacles and challenges often involves self-reflection, personal growth, and a commitment to foster a mindset of compassion and generosity. Out of the list above, I believe that the lack of empathy and compassion plays a crucial role, as well as understanding others viewpoints.

One last thought for you. Growing up, my parents had The Golden Rule on the wall in the family room. The principle of treating others as you would want to be treated was something I not only read daily, but watched my parents made an effort to accomplish. Another piece of advice we often heard was, “Don’t judge someone unless you have walked a mile in their footsteps”.

All in all, remember that it is not selfish to take care of yourself; it is a necessary component to living out an altruistic life. However, finding the right balance is essential for your well-being and for keeping the necessary boundaries so that burnout and apathy doesn’t become your ammo.

Happy February! Look into nature for the beauty it gives selflessly; it is there despite the dormancy.

Written by Lisa Story, MSCP, LPC, CT
Hope Grows Founder & Clinical Director

Inspiration

I woke this morning, January 1, 2024, to a small covering of snow. After the rain that our area endured during the Christmas season, I found this to be inspiring. These are the moments of stillness and beauty I talked about in the blog introducing the 2024 theme for the year, Empowering Caregivers through All Seasons. “The brightness of the morning sparked freshness from its dark and dreary place and rekindled an inward rebuilding of what nature does without effort: inspire.”

The focus for January 2024 is inspiration. Inspiration is a force that propels us to reach beyond our “perceived” limitations. Those that provide the selfless act of compassion, such as the act of giving care, is at the heart of an altruistic exertion that surpasses the boundaries of self. Tending to the needs of others, caregiving is a source of profound inspiration to those watching. The act of giving to others not only provides solace to those in need, but also kindles a flame of motivation within the person giving care.

While these small acts of kindness impact the human spirit, one providing the care must be careful of the limits of self. Someone that is extremely compassionate can burn out and someone that continues to give without taking a break can end up with traumatic stress. Both of these can lead to dissatisfaction in life, feeling as if life has no meaning, and questioning one’s purpose. This is called “spiritual stress” and takes quite a bit of healing to feel inspired again.

Nature’s Influence on Caregiving

When this occurs, one can retreat to nature. While in the embrace of nature, inspiration takes on a different manner. The beauty of a sunrise, the tranquility of a forest, or the rhythmic dance of ocean waves possess an unparalleled ability to stir the soul. It becomes a place where one can let go of control; nature doesn’t ask anything of the person embracing its beauty.

Nature, with its cyclical patterns of growth, decay, and renewal, mirrors the human experience. Observing the resilience of a tiny seed pushing through the soil to become a towering tree, or witnessing the rebirth of a barren landscape after a rainstorm, one cannot help but draw parallels to the ebb and flow of life’s challenges and triumphs. Nature becomes a silent healer, imparting valuable lessons of empowerment about adaptation, patience, and the inevitability of change.

When caregiving and nature converge, a powerful interaction occurs, strengthening the soul of the caregiver. Solace and renewal begin to emerge. One can begin to feel, well, almost lifted, healthier and restored.

So, when you feel uninspired from the acts of giving care and it leaves you feeling depleted, take a walk in a serene garden, contemplate the view of a breathtaking vista, or stare into a barren tree and think about its story. This becomes a form of self-care, replenishing the caregiver’s emotional reserves. Nature, in turn, benefits from the nurturing touch of caregiving, as individuals inspired by compassion may choose to extend their care to the environment, fostering a sense of responsibility and stewardship.

In conclusion, the caregiver’s selflessness and the healing drawn from nature fuels the human spirit. Together, nature and caregiving can remind us of the delicate and intricate design of both. Inspiration becomes a living force that breathes life into our actions, a healing and transformative change occurs. As we navigate the complexities of it all, the inspiring moments are the delicate balance between the caregiving and nature, the “reciprocal relationship” that I so often talk about. It forges a path towards a more resilient existence. When the dark and dreary moments of winter bring you down, retreat to nature, even if it is from your kitchen window.

Written by Lisa Story, MSCP, LPC, CT
Hope Grows Founder & Clinical Director

Journey

The holiday season helps us reminisce and reflect. Traditionally, it is about migrating and moving into a new year; about evaluating and setting resolutions for change. Thoughts and questions under consideration may include acceptance of something, processing an emotion, adjusting to a change, or finding a connection. Embarking on life’s journeys, whether in the past, present, or the future, can indeed be intimidating and frightening. Navigating the task takes courage.

If you are grieving a loss during this time of year, please know that you are not alone and the words within this blog may be helpful. No one knows what the future holds for anyone, and it does entail a bit of faith and hope to steer the uncertainty of it all. Loss is a natural part of life, and embracing the ambiguity allows you to grow and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. As an example, I could not have predicted the uncertainty of losing my mom at age 22, but yet, I had to find a way to navigate the journey of the loss, not just from her, but from my father, which I grieved both years later.

When you hear about delayed grief, believe it; it is true. I had the ability to compartmentalize the loss until years later. I thought I was navigating the journey of the loss of my mom by ignoring what happened. I returned to my home in Arizona and went about living my life. I said to myself, “Toughen up and move on.” It worked…until my father died 20 years later. The loss resurfaced and the journey was painful.

The journey of nature is like the journey of loss – the cycle of life and death. It is as intricate and fascinating as a tapestry. It weaves its beauty over time, if you allow it. After acceptance and the processing of the pain, the adjustment of the loss, for me, became a rhythmic dance of seasonal changes. From the blooming of the flowers in the spring to the shedding of the leaves in autumn, the cycles of grief contributed to the creation of a dynamic beauty, similar to the natural world. The secret of my journey? I kept moving and evolving. As painful as it was, I let the water flow.

With my grief, like nature, I was in a constant state of adaptation and evolution. Over time, the pain developed characteristics and behaviors that helped me to survive and thrive in my environment. The ongoing process shaped who I became; all while I was finding an enduring connection with my parents, I embarked on a new life.

Were there disruptions along the way and apparent chaos? Absolutely. Just as there are natural disruptions in nature, we have to embrace the changing climate, and, in some cases, depend on the role that the instabilities play in our healing. We begin to learn of the interconnection of our journey and how important the intricate webs of relationships are and the parts they play in maintaining the balance of the diverse landscape it begins to create.

Death is a natural part of our journey, just as it is in nature. It is an integral part that enriches the soul and supports new life. One of William Worden’s phases of grief is “to find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life.” Conserving and preserving the connection, as hard as that is, can help to deepen our understanding of the loss and inspire a sense of awe and responsibility for the diversity that is ahead of us.

Our focus for the month of December is Journey, and the plant/flower is the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life has been used across cultures and religions to symbolize various aspects of existence, growth, and interconnectedness. When viewed as a representation of one’s personal journey, the Tree of Life can carry profound meaning in the journey of loss. Consider the symbolism below to help with the acceptance, adjustment, the process of pain, and the enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on your new identity. I was no longer a daughter, but the journey taught me that it is okay.

  • The roots of a tree symbolize your foundation, roots, and origin. Reflecting on your past, heritage, and experiences provides a strong base for growth.
  • The trunk of the tree represents your strength and resilience. Just as a tree withstands the forces of nature, you too can endure challenges and setbacks, growing stronger in the process.
  • The branches represent the different paths and choices in your life. Each decision you make leads to a new branch, shaping your journey in unique ways.
  • The leaves symbolize personal growth and transformation. Just as leaves change with the seasons, you undergo continuous growth and adaptation to the changing circumstances in your life.
  • The fruits of the tree symbolize your achievements and contributions. These could be the positive outcomes and impacts resulting from your efforts and actions.
  • The branches, leaves, and roots illustrate the interconnectedness of your life. Relationships, experiences, and choices are intertwined, creating a holistic and meaningful journey.
  • The cycle of seasons in a tree’s life mirrors the different phases you go through—spring for new beginnings, summer for growth, fall for reflection, and winter for rest and rejuvenation.
  • Trees adapt to changing conditions, bending with the wind. Similarly, your ability to adapt and be flexible in the face of change contributes to your personal growth.
  • Like a tree needs care and nourishment, your journey requires self-care and reflection. Taking the time to nurture your mind, body, and spirit ensures a healthier and more fulfilling life.
  • The shade of a tree represents your capacity to provide support and shelter for others. Your journey involves not only personal growth but also contributing positively to the well-being of those around you.
  • Trees experience cycles of renewal through the shedding of old leaves and the growth of new ones. Similarly, your journey involves continuous learning and renewal, letting go of what no longer serves you and embracing new opportunities.
  • The unity of roots, trunk, branches, and leaves signifies the connection between your mind and heart. Integrating your thoughts and emotions leads to a more balanced and harmonious journey.

By visualizing your grief as a Tree of Life, you can gain a deeper understanding of your experiences, challenges, and growth. It serves as a powerful symbol to connect with the natural processes of life and find meaning in the journey.

No one wants to face loss, but death is an integral part of our journey. When this occurs, the plan for our journey may need to be adjusted – stay flexible and open to new possibilities. And remember, bravery doesn’t mean the absence of fear; it means facing your fears and moving forward despite them. Each step you take, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

At Hope Grows, we support those grieving a loss. If you are struggling, reach out to connect. Call us at 412.369.4673 or email intake@hopegrows.org. Consider joining one of our classes in “The Joyful Grief & Loss Series.” Our first gathering, “Grief & The Box,” will be Saturday, January 20 – click here to learn more and to register.

Written by Lisa Story, MSCP, LPC, CT
Hope Grows Founder & Clinical Director

Notes from the Garden: The Tree of Life

December Plant of the Month: Tree of Life

doTERRA Essential Oil of the Month: Clary Sage

If we surrendered to the earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like trees. – Rainer Maria Rilke

The Tree of Life has been a sacred symbol, revered across cultures and religions, for thousands of years. Almost every major civilization and faith over the ages has had some level of sacred regard for the trees. 

While researching this blog, I found Tree of Life symbolism throughout Egyptian, Celtic, Mayan, Native American, Buddhist, Hindu, African, Greek and Roman mythology, and folklore. In the Bible, the Tree of Life is planted centrally in the Garden of Eden, near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, the Hebrew phrase etz hachayim, meaning “Tree of Life,” has been used to refer directly to the Torah, Jewish sacred scripture. Proverbs 3:18 likens it to wisdom, saying one can derive happiness from holding onto her. 

The Tree of Life symbolizes healing, power, strength, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Her roots extend downward, spreading their tendrils beneath the ground, and her branches reach up, interwoven, into the heavens. She occupies two worlds, symbolizing the harmonious connection between the divine and earthly realms. She is often encased in a surrounding circle, symbolizing the oneness and unity of all life. 

One of my personal favorite renderings is the Celtic Tree of Life. The Celts considered trees to be sacred repositories of memory, folklore, and the presence of spirit beings. Their Tree of Life symbol has its roots and branches intertwining and knotted together infinitely, with no beginning or end, symbolizing all of us inextricably connected within the Tree of Life’s protective stature. 

Wisdom is in the trees. Acting as both givers and sustainers of life, trees provide us with gifts of nurturance. From cradle to grave, we rely on them for our very breath, shelter, shade, medicine, music, healing, fire, and food. Whenever I have faced periods of struggle, or illness, I find solace among the trees. During a particularly difficult time years ago, it was the trees who taught me how powerful and restorative it can be to connect with nature. Walking among them day after day, their magnificent and healing spirits tended to me, making me feel safe, restoring my spirit, lifting me up to higher ground. It was within their loving embrace that I first felt the invisible connective tissue of the web of life all around me, cradling and connecting me to an intelligence far greater than mine. I was no longer a party of one; they connected me back to the infinite whole. They are my trees of life. I didn’t leave Pittsburgh much during that time, but looking back, I can see now I was on one of the most definitive journeys of my life. 

Journeys of adversity, healing, and wholeness ripen us, and often shake us to our core. They strip away what isn’t real and leave us clinging to what is. They make us human, and the most profound ones will reveal our humbling connection to all that is. I have been a care recipient, and I have a feeling I will be a caregiver before my life is over. What the trees have taught me is that even though these two souls walk hand in hand, experiencing two very different journeys, both are being held in the sacred boughs of a larger whole, to which they will forever belong. 

Written by Jessica Giannotta, Hope Grows Horticulturist

Tree of Life drawing by Emma Stair