Creative Growth

I pass this tree on my trail walks.

I am not sure when I first noticed the tree, but I know since my dad died in 2018, I haven’t missed it. It’s like I’m compelled to take a moment and acknowledge the tree’s presence on the trail. Its struggle to keep growing a little of course until it found the sun and headed in the right direction.

The loss of my father affected me profoundly in a multitude of ways expected and unexpected, as any great loss does.

I expected to feel the pain and the sorrow, the gaping hole left in my heart. The tears felt natural. Welcome, even. Acceptable. My tears and pain honored the love I had for him and he for me.

I didn’t expect the anxiety. The fear felt counterintuitive. The worst had already happened and yet my body remained primed for disaster as if it could prepare me for this tragic loss in retrospect.

I expected things to be different. I didn’t expect everything to be different.

I found it incredibly hard to create in the wake of my father’s death. Even when the immediate days of overwhelming grief had passed and I eventually got a handle on the crippling anxiety that flared in the months that followed, I encountered resistance to creating.

I did somehow manage to draft a new book in the years since his passing, but the progress has been slow. While some days I manage a few steps forward, other days, I’m trapped on a treadmill, walking in place. I’m not falling behind, but I’m not getting very far either.

My creative life has been growing like this tree. It’s progressing, not quite in the right direction, but not in the wrong direction either. I’m still seeking out the sunshine that will feed my muse and finally allow me to grow to my highest heights.

At times, I think I’ve turned the corner and I’m growing up, towards the light. And at times, I keep stretching along the forest floor, not giving up, but not quite where I need to be just yet.

Does that mean I’m not learning or that my writing is horrible or I haven’t accomplished anything creatively in that time? Not at all. Just as that tree was growing and building bark and securing its roots into the earth, I have been laying a foundation and strengthening my skills and branching out in new ways with my book coaching business and supporting other writers.

But in the last few years, I have needed to grow in the shade. And that’s okay. Because it’s still growth.

This tree gives me hope. It represents a perseverance that perhaps another tree didn’t have, one that didn’t dig deep enough roots to counterbalance its structure. I will continue to stretch and grow like the tree, as both a writer and a human. As a coach, my goal is to nurture your growth so that you, too, can put down strong roots and stretch your limits.

We all have something to say. And when the day comes that light shines on my words, my time in the shade will be what made me ready.

I’ll see you in the leafy sunshine.

Published by Monica Cox

Monica is a writer and book coach who helps writers get unstuck so they can reach their writing goals.

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