July 23, 2019 Blog No Comments

Doesn’t this photo illustrate how to thrive where you are? When I saw this tree with roots stretched across the huge rock, I immediately realized the connections to what I teach from the ancient wisdom principles. We have the ability to thrive no matter what life circumstances we are in. It may take vision and determination, but our potential is always greater than the circumstances we are delivered.

This realization occurred when I came across this tree hiking on a trail in the Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest.  It was a stunning reminder of how we are often put in environments that pose challenges and difficulties. How we respond is a test of character.

In meditation, my questions about this brought an image of a bird being chained to a branch, yet it still sings. I was reminded of writer and poet Maya Angelou’s book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, which quickly rose to critical acclaim for chronicling how she overcame trauma and racism through her love of literature. At a time when there was little opportunity for Afro-American women with talent to excel, she found her gift for writing deep within and was encouraged to publish. She is now regarded as one of the greatest writers of our time.

To triumph over difficulties is often one of our greatest life lessons. Let me review what the ancient wisdom principles say about how we can overcome hard situations. Like the tree that has found a way, we can do the same.


When faced with difficulty, we often long for what we don’t have and need. The Law of Polarity notes that like a pendulum swinging from bad to good,  we become determined to seek the opposite of adversity, often inspiring creative solutions.

We are a soul first, in a body and both need support to thrive. The body needs to be rooted with proper nourishment and meaningful action and our soul need to be integrated within us while connected to the light of spirit.  This tree models both  – it’s miraculously sprouted on the side of a granite boulder and sent roots across it, deep into the earth. With the bolder blocking out competition there’s more life-giving sunlight. It’s made the most of a difficult situation and both needs are met. Are you doing that for yourself?

The Law of Polarity can inspire creative intelligence to overcome the odds, just as it did for Maya Angelou.


For everything that occurs there is a cause and effect relationship. We are either causing something to happen or dealing with the effects of others action. But it’s also possible to be both.  In all situations we have free will and choice. We can feel victimized by our circumstances or find strength of character to overcome them. When we do, we cause the change and effect we seek. It’s how we empower ourselves to survive and thrive.

For all the tree seeds that have dropped on the bolder, this is the one to sprout. It did so by using its instinctive growth patterns to seek earth and light.  We can make similar choices to take what we have and make it meet our needs until we are strong enough to make new choices.

To overcome hardship, move out of the victim role to find ways you can cause the effects that you seek.


The tree is young. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as it ages – will it maintain its grip on the bolder or will it topple over? We know it will drop new seeds to find fertile ground and light so it’s life cycle will continue. The Law of Rhythm says we all have phases of life and tasks that are appropriate for each one.

As for us, overcoming early adversity gives us strength that serves us well in later years. Like Maya’s remarkable career shows us, the courage and determination she used to overcome hardship became the seeds for her work. It has been an inspiration for each new generation. There is much to learn from this.

Recognize that each phase of life has tasks and know you can choose to make the most of each one you are in.

The image of the tree surviving and thriving on a boulder is a metaphor for how we can work with circumstances that are less than ideal. The Law of Polarity shows us that we can use what we don’t like to fuel inspiration to seek what we know we want and need, as with Maya Angelou. The Law of Cause and Effect teaches that we can use our choice and free will to not be victims but to create the very effects we want. And the Law of Rhythm reminds us that each phase of our life has specific tasks and the more we use our strength of character to overcome hardship the more we’ll be able to build on these assets in the future. We’re more able to thrive and reach our potential no matter the circumstances than most of us realize.

How are you thriving where you are? If you’d like support to master making choices that will allow you to rise above and make the most of your potential, it’s what my Transformational Life Coaching and Counseling is designed to provide. See my website www.spectrumtransformation.com for more information and reach out using my Free Consultation link. I’d love to help you thrive!

Maya Angelou, “I Know Why A Gaged Bird Sings”, Random House, 1969, available on Amazon


Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com