Why I Climbed Trees & What I Learned

Paula G Climbing Trees with EarthJoyI recently had the honor of spending a few days in the company of some fabulous women in rural Kentucky to climb trees as part of a business retreat.  Why the heck would I do this you ask?  Well, besides the fact that I would do just about anything to be in the presence of people I truly consider family in the deepest sense of the word, the reason I did this was because the opportunity to experience something new and grow beyond what I think is possible for myself was presented to me.  I’ve learned that the fastest path to growth, loving my precious moments on this earth, and avoiding regrets is to say YES to living fully.

So why choose to leave the supposed safety of terra firma and go vertical into the trees?  Well, first off I wouldn’t just undertake an adventure with just anyone.  This adventure was in the very capable hands and generous hearts of Shelly and Bill Byrne of EarthJoy.  (You can catch my recent podcast interview with Shelly to get a glimpse of what I mean.)  They are not only experts in climbing trees (very important details of course!) but truly shepherd you emotionally through a journey that is equal parts joy, terror, and curiosity.  There’s a bigger reason, a more personal reason why to climb a tree besides just reaching some goal like the next branch or a certain height.  This deep, personal reason of living into more of who you are and what is possible for you by connecting with nature is an area in which Shelly and Bill excel and is what sets them apart.  And, let’s be clear here… all the deep personal transformation notwithstanding, they make it damn fun.  It’s about being playful with yourself, the trees, and each other.

With this I want to share with you my lessons from climbing trees:

How Can I Make This Easier?

The natural first step is to try and muscle yourself upward.  Problem is, this doesn’t work (I know, I tried!)!  Unless you are some super-power, you can’t just defy gravity by forcing yourself vertically up a rope.  You might make it a short way, but you will tire quickly and find yourself in misery.  The secret lies in using momentum, body awareness, and the mechanics of the rope to move yourself effortlessly upwards.  Sure it still takes effort (this is climbing trees not couch-potatoing) but it is joyful, flowing, and ease-filled effort. It is poetry in motion and I can still feel the joy I felt as I was ascending so much more easily by the 3rd day.  As a result, when I find myself struggling in my day to day life, surely I can ask, how can I make this easier?

Constantly Developing New Comfort Zones

Like anything else, once you’ve done it for a little while, you build skill.  You become more comfortable with movements, heights, and maneuvers that only a few minutes or hours ago felt foreign.  You start to make progress faster. You start to enjoy it more.  You ease into a new sense of what is “normal”. What seemed impossible just a few hours ago now makes total sense and feels more natural.  This is the nature of all personal growth. However to get to this experience you first have to move through terror and this is good.

Terror is Normal

It is normal to be terrified when you are hanging from a rope 10, 30, 60 feet or more off the ground.  Why wouldn’t it be?  Do you have a bird’s DNA? I didn’t think so!  Just like I developed new comfort zones throughout my time in the trees, each new “normal” was preceded by a bout of terror.  Just as I was starting to feel comfortable, I’d go a little higher, have to swing out to a branch, or be challenged by Shelly or Bill to try something new.  Sometimes without even consciously doing anything new I would feel terror overtake me as I glanced up or down or out at my fellow climbers.  One of my fellow climbers said it well, “I feel the need to swear! Is this normal?” This terror was almost always triggered by thoughts in my head that didn’t serve me.  This terror immediately could be felt in my body.  Deep breaths and my own willingness moved me forward into joy (until the next inevitable terror barrier!). The lesson? Accept terror as a natural part of growth and lean into it so you can move through it faster.

Creative Solutions Abound

I can still remember hanging near a branch listening to Bill tell me to swing out, catch it with my feet and stand up.  What?!? Is this man out of his mind?  Yet, with step by step instructions and a little help I was able to do it.  This shows me the power of possibilities and solutions that are available to me in every moment that I am simply not aware of yet. This is as true in my life and business as it is in the trees.  Don’t stop at “Are you kidding?! How could that be possible!?”; instead begin again at the next roadblock with “How can I?”

You Are Supported

Shelly Byrne of EarthJoy and Paula GIn all my years, it has been rare that I have ever felt as supported as I did in these trees especially when climbing besides Shelly and Bill and alongside my “family”.  Support is always available to you on multiple levels at all times.  The tree itself was supporting me/all of us.  The ropes, the knots, the harness were supporting me.  Other people were physically and emotionally supporting me.  My own wisdom and divine guidance was supporting me.  The laws of the universe were supporting me. I felt fully present and fully supported even while walking through something totally new, often frightening, and absolutely exhilarating.

As it is in the trees, so it is in your life whether at work or at play. I invite you to take these lessons, connect with a tree (even if you don’t climb one), and feel the wisdom they have for you.

Want to apply these lessons in your own life to experience a radically more satisfying “new normal” personally or professionally? I can help – contact me for a complimentary Intuitive Intelligence Activation Session at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com/application and start loving your own life.


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  1. […] an awesome video from when I was busy climbing trees a few months ago.  You likely read about my experience in the trees as well as my wandering blindfolded in the […]

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