• Haylie McCleney

Rooted: Three Things I Learned From Isaias

As many of you know, there was a fun storm around South Florida recently named Isaias that kept me inside for a good portion of my weekend. It was the perfect opportunity for Netflix, pizza and wings, and lazy days not getting out of my pajamas. This was my first real "hurricane" experience as a Floridian and I was very intrigued as to what I would see from the storm. You can ask Kylee, I kept changing to the Weather Channel and refreshing multiple weather apps on my phone just to see what was going on outside and what to expect at our new home. I'm not sure what I expected, but I really just saw a lot of random bursts of wind with hints of rain. If all my hurricane experiences after are like this, I will consider myself extremely lucky. After seeing the damage that Isaias caused the northeast United States I would definitely say we were fortunate.

The weather was fairly poor and sporadic outside for hours on end, and the more I paid attention the more I noticed something really interesting about the palm trees bracing the storm. They were bending, but they were firm. I have always loved the look of palm trees (they are a visual cue to vacation), but I was more impressed by the functionality of them this weekend. With every single random wind gust, the leaves would bend with the wind, but they wouldn't break. The trunk would stay firm as it was unwavering to the random changes in the air going on around it. I didn't think much of it until first thing Monday morning.

Over the past few weeks of quarantine I have been doing my best to pray and meditate more. I study and journal about one Bible scripture as well as a meditation via the Calm App. At least, that's my goal. I try not to get too bent out of shape if I miss a day here or there, but I definitely don't miss two days in a row. It's become a habit; a habit I really get a lot out of. On this particular Monday, the topic of the meditation was being grounded or rooted in every moment by being fully engaged and fully present. The illustration of the tree root was used and I immediately thought of the display I got this weekend from the palm trees. You see, without the root, the base of the tree, there is no tree at all. There is nothing marvelous that grows without the root, without the tree being grounded. What does that mean for us as humans? What can we learn from the trees?

I think that it means for us to grow and for us to become all we are meant to be, we must be aware of three things: first, a deeper root is better than a wider root; second, a tree is grounded exactly where it is planted; and third, what is below the surface is most important.

Deeper Instead of Wider

When I first realized this analogy I realized how important this is for our world today. Everyone wants to be the best at everything that they do. In softball, I want to be the best outfielder, the best slapper, the hardest thrower, the fastest runner, the most powerful hitter. In life I want to be the best coach, the smartest person, the person with a "brand" (whatever that means), the best writer, the best human being I can possibly be. I just want to do and accomplish all these things. The problem with that is that my ambitions are wide and my attention becomes so focused on multiple avenues that I cannot focus so intently on just one lane. I can't get specific. I can't get deep. I can't really get better. I just become busier. It reminds of the saying "A jack of all trades is a master of none." The statement is true now more than ever. For the trees bracing the storm, the deeper the root is the more it is able to resist the chaos going on around it. The deeper the root for you, the less distracted you become by the things that don't actually matter.

So ask yourself, Where Can You Go Deeper? Get more SPECIFIC with the avenues you wish to pursue. Stop trying to master everything. Get deep.

Be Grounded Exactly Where You Are Planted.

It occurred to me that the palm trees I was watching in Florida had no clue what was going on with the palm trees in California. They didn't care. They executed conquering the storm in front of them because that's where they were planted. I wonder how many times we uproot ourselves in our minds and take ourselves away from exactly where we are in this moment in time. Too often, our mind takes us back to mistakes we have made in the past or takes us too far forward into anxiety about the future. All that does is take our attention off whatever "storm" or task we have to execute at that moment. Presence is the key to execution. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of being grounded is "well balanced and sensible." How much better would the world be if we were more balanced and SENSIBLE? We cannot be grounded if we are not present right where we are in that moment in time. We often cannot control where we are planted or the circumstances we are facing, but we can control how we respond to it. We can choose to be exactly where we are. Present.

How Can You Be More Present? What causes you to be somewhere else in your mind?

What Is Not Seen Is What Actually Matters.

As humans sometimes, we only see the beauty above the surface. We see the highlights. We don't see the root, the #1 necessity for the tree even coming to life. Too often we focus on what is seen on social media or trying to impress people ourselves. In the meantime, we fail to see the day to day struggle it took to get there. We fail to see the determination, sheer will, the unshakable spirit that allowed the being to grow. We don't focus on simply being a good human and letting the rest take care of itself. Find the beauty below the surface in yourself and in others. This will allow you to get find more meaning in every avenue of your life.

Do you need to get trimmed down? Are you overgrown? Are your roots too wide? I encourage you to pick no more than 3 areas, ideas, or traits to focus on. Why 3? The Latin phrase "Omni Trium Perfectum." It translates "Everything that comes in threes is perfect." 3 is complete, fulfilled, and that is where we are all trying to go. So pick those three and deepen those three. Laser in on them. Get deeper, not wider, and watch yourself start to bloom into something incredible.

And how does this relate to softball? Deeper humans make more fulfilled humans. Fulfilled humans are better humans. Better humans will always be better softball players.

Have a great week.

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