Why I Stopped (& Then Re-Started) Climbing Trees

A little less than a year ago, I was 13 weeks pregnant when my midwife found no heartbeat for the baby. 

The miscarriage started a few days later and it was intense.

I lost a lot of blood. 

It took me weeks to recover.

Movement changed for me following my miscarriage. I was tired, I felt vulnerable in my body, I longed for restorative, slow movements. 

And so that is what I gave myself. Slow, restorative movements. 

I sometimes joke that, under the best of circumstances, I could spend all day in a psoas release or that I could get stoned on a prone inner thigh stretch. ;) These are two things you do while lying around.

But after my miscarriage, all the other movements - the bigger, harder, more playful movements - stayed at the periphery of what I was willing to do. It's not that I'd never fit in some tri-cep press-ups or do a plank or rake the leaves or haul heavy things up from the basement. 

It's just that I would rarely do them. And I did them without purpose. And without enthusiasm.

It turns out I also mostly stopped climbing tress.

Now, this might seem obscure. Fringe. Maybe irrelevant to you. 

But climbing trees has been one of my FAVORITE whole body movements. It's incredibly useful for restoring health and it's something my son loves to do, too. So I would sometimes do it, but I'd be lazy about it. Hop up on a branch and stand there. That sort of thing. It was more like balancing than moving. 

I recently took note of this.

And mind you, I don't tend to shame myself for NOT doing some movement or try to convince myself to do something I'm resistant to. 

Instead I brought some curiosity.

  • What was it about climbing trees that didn't feel good?
  • When did it stop feeling good?
  • How important is it to me to have a relationship with tree climbing (I imagine this might sound a bit bizarre!)?
  • Are there other movements that would fill this gap?

In my reflection, I discovered two main contributors to my tree-climbing break.

First of all, climbing trees takes effort and a certain amount of power. And some part of me is still identifying with the fatigue I felt following my miscarriage, as well as the vulnerability. I haven't been feeling powerful and adventurous in my body. I'm still looking around for a place to psoas release.

The second part is that I had gotten disconnected from the purpose. 

Tree climbing can be incredibly health-giving. It meets so much of the criteria I seek when it comes to whole body movement and health, but I had somehow lost touch with its value. It had become something to do because my son wanted to, or because I "should."

After being with this awareness, I realized I was ready to re-embrace tree climbing (isn't it amazing what simple awareness will do?!).

So today I not only climbed a tree, but I stayed present to climbing the tree. I felt my body in the tree. I moved in novel, harder ways. 

And it felt really good!

Yes, I look kinda manic. And yes, my son wanted to wear his searsucker pants to climb trees in the middle of winter. I can't explain either thing.

Yes, I look kinda manic. And yes, my son wanted to wear his searsucker pants to climb trees in the middle of winter. I can't explain either thing.

If you haven't taken to climbing trees, I encourage you to give it a whirl (this is one of the lifestyle challenges in my 4-week Launch Your Resilient Life course). As you can see from this image, you don't need a big, tall tree to climb. Something with lots of low branches should do the trick. And if you want to connect to the health benefits, let me share some with you.

Health Reasons to Climb Trees

  • When our genome was being developed, we were doing things like climbing trees to get food. Our bodies haven't evolved out of the need for such activities.


  • Climbing trees activates flow throughout the body in some pretty serious ways. Flow of blood, lymph and electricity. The stuff you need for whole body health.


  • Climbing trees requires motor programs and muscular activity that you can't easily replicate on human-made surfaces.


  • Climbing trees (with bare hands) creates calluses on the hands, which strengthens the skin so you can do even more challenging activities. 


  • Climbing trees (as an adult) makes people look at you askance and therefore satisfies your rebellious side; or they look at you with delight and therefore satisfies your joy-giving side.


  • Climbing trees invites you into a new relationship with nature, something we can ALL use more of.


I'm the first person to say that we need to meet ourselves where we are and honor our inner state, be it grief over a miscarriage, fatigue from an illness or total overwhelm from parenting young ones.

But when you are ready - and maybe even before you really think you are ready - there will be a tree waiting for you. 

I hope you give it a climb.



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SWEET SPOTS: How to Use Your Pain to Fast Track Your Way to Whole-Body Health

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