Be strong like the trees

A couple of weeks ago here on Long Island, we were hit by Tropical Storm Isaias. Heavy winds knocked out power to almost half a million households and left electrical cables hanging precariously over neighborhood streets. However, the most visible signs of damage were the many trees either broken in half or completely uprooted. Seeing this while driving around the day after the storm got me thinking about strength and resilience.


How many trees were still standing, and how many were lying in repose, their tangled roots exposed, proof that the arboreal equivalent of rigormortis was already underway?


Like the trees, we must also weather storms in our lives. Some are mild, yet others are tropical storms or even hurricanes. To remain standing, we must be strong from our roots to our branches.


Our roots are our foundation; they keep us grounded. In practical terms, our roots are our values, traditions, and families. The stronger our values and bonds with family members — whether blood relatives or others whom we consider family — the stronger we are, and the better we can withstand life’s storms.


To stay rooted, we must identify and live out our values.


Identify Your Values

 Before we can live them out, we must identify them first.

  1. CLICK HERE to open and read through this list of 230 Personal Values.
  2. Put a star next to ALL the values that REALLY matter to you. Try not to choose more than 20.
  3. Now, make a new list by copying the values you starred onto a blank piece of paper.
  4. Think hard about this new list and narrow it down to your TOP TEN values. Circle these.
  5. Now, look at the ten values you circled, and choose your TOP THREE.

These top three values are now the values that will keep you rooted and help you make decisions. Whenever you must make a decision, stop and ask yourself: is this aligned with my values? Then, always choose whichever option is aligned with your top three.


Keep in mind that anytime you make a decision that is NOT aligned with these values, you are weakening your roots and exposing yourself to potential damage caused by the storms of life.


In addition to our roots, our branches must also remain strong. These are our social networks: our families, friends, neighbors, and communities we belong to.  


Live in the Forest

One thing I noticed after Tropical Storm Isaias was that all the uprooted trees I saw were lying on the ground with no other trees nearby. The trees that remained standing either unharmed or only slightly broken were next to other trees. 


What does this mean?


The trees standing alone before the storm were the most vulnerable.


Like the trees, we too are vulnerable when we keep ourselves apart from others! Growing alongside others makes us stronger! And it’s not all about us; by staying connected to others, we help make them stronger, too.


So, the next time a storm comes, think of the trees. Root yourself in your values and stay connected to others. Doing this will make us all stronger and more resilient so we can weather even the fiercest hurricanes – together.