A way has to be made, a path revealed, an opportunity presented for a glimmer of new to shine through.

The Emergence of a New Forest

Northern California is awe-inspiring country. My husband and I were there recently for my mother-in-law’s funeral. Her service was held at the top of a hill with stunning mountain views all around us. On this January day, the temperature was about 65 degrees with a light breeze and bright blue skies.

The clouds must have known they wouldn’t be welcome on this brilliant afternoon because there was not one to be found. The pastor talked about what a joyful day it was; joyful to be in the presence of such a loving family.
And boy was he right about that. The family my mother-in-law and her husband of 60 years brought into this world include some of the most loving people I’ve ever known. They planted seeds of loving-kindness in their children and spent a lifetime nurturing their development into purveyors of love in the world. Her good work was done and it was a joyful day indeed.
The drive back down the mountain into town took us through mile after mile of fire-ravished hillsides. In the summer of 2018, a wildfire tore through the area burning over 200,000 acres across two counties. Miles of scorched trees were evidence of the destruction that lasted 37 days. In addition to the trees, the fire burned thousands of structures and took the lives of 8 people. It was one of the worst fires in California history and it looked like it. With an average of more than 8,000 wildfires per year, Californians are no stranger to scorched land, but to this born and bred Texan, it looked like the rawest kind of devastation.But devastation rarely gets the last word. Among the blackened pines, hemlocks and cedar, there was also evidence of new forest growth. Bright green saplings dotted the hillsides. They sprung up between and around the old, scorched trees. Fertilized by the nutrients of the dead trees and the sunlight that could now easily reach them, the saplings offered a brilliant display of the new forest that is emerging. The whole scene; the scorched hillsides and the funeral we’d just left, reminded me of how loss, destruction and trauma are so often precursors to growth and transformation. A way has to be made, a path revealed, an opportunity presented for a glimmer of new to shine through. The old has to burn away to make way for what is emerging. And since we are an evolving species living on an evolving planet, the new is always emerging. Always. It can be no other way. Change is inevitable.

And such is the case with the pandemic. We’ve all experienced personal loss and trauma that, while we may not have been aware of it at the time, and maybe still aren’t, ends up resulting in positive change. I can’t help but see this evidenced in what is happening globally now with the pandemic. Amidst the loss, destruction and trauma a new way of being in the world is emerging. Can you feel it? The way we work is perhaps the most obvious shift. Dramatic calls for change expressed in The Great Resignation and the r/antiwork subreddit movement. Our environment too is expressing its own frustration with unprecedented weather events happening globally.

Prior to the pandemic, I’d been keenly aware of a need for dramatic change in my life. I was coming off of a 5-year run of devastating loss and trauma; a gut-wrenching divorce (as if there is any other kind), the loss of both of my parents, the death of the father of my children and 2 cross-country relocations in 3 years. I was actively trying to manifest more peace, patience and purpose in my life. When the pandemic hit and the entire world immediately hit the brakes, I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t the only one trying to manifest change. Conspiracy theories aside, an abrupt halt of this magnitude leads one to posit that there has to be something deeper at play here. Perhaps a collective desire for change that, like a tsunami, gathers momentum far and wide until it finally breaks on the shoreline, forever changing the landscape.

If the IMBA program inspired anything within us, it was to be agents of change; specifically, conscious change. We all went into the program with a desire to transform ourselves so we could transform our businesses and our businesses could transform the world. We now have a deeper knowing of our inner selves as well as our capacity to lead positive change. I’m not sure Tami and Soren could have predicted how relevant and timely this program would be. If waking up the world is the mission of Sounds True, well the pandemic surely helped by stripping off the covers, dragging us out of bed and onto the floor. Perhaps it is that we, as IMBA alumni, are like the forest saplings, charged with guiding the transformation of our world towards more consciousness. Like the new forest fertilized with rich minerals from the old, we too bring the wisdom of our own unique experiences combined with our shared learning and understanding to help ignite and enrich new growth and transformation in our world.  It feels just shy of a responsibility to take what we’ve learned and inform a higher order of being within ourselves, at work and on the planet. We can’t unknow what we now know and we can’t turn away from our responsibility to help build a new forest.

And so what does that really look like? For me, it looks like walking away from my corporate job to pursue what I know deeply is not only my divine purpose but also a grave need in the world; inspiring people to believe in and pursue the highest version of themselves, starting with myself. I feel called to contribute to the collective leveling up of humanity. I sense that calling in many of you as well. I suppose that is what brought us together in the IMBA program. Certainly, we don’t all need to quit our jobs to affect the evolution of conscious change. In fact, the workplace is arguably the best place to ignite positive change. Like the purveyors of love that my late mother-in-law inspired in my husband and his siblings, we too are called to bring the goodness that we’ve been taught into the world. Bringing our authentic selves to work, checking our armor at the door, agreeing to see and be seen fully, being open to and innovating from a place of deep connection with others; these are the fruits of our IMBA training. This is bold, courageous work. But like the forest saplings, we are nourished and fortified with the support of not only the content of the program but also our connection with each other. This is the growth of a new forest.

The time is ripe to take our newly fortified constitutions, our newly inspired ‘knowing’ and, like the bright green saplings dotting across hundreds of miles of Northern California hillsides, be the new change. Also like the saplings, we are scattered across the globe. We have the opportunity to impart our conscious wisdom far and wide. We have the opportunity to illustrate the new; the new way of working, living and being across our entire planet. Of course, we are a tiny fraction of the overall population of the world, but our power resides in our collective level of consciousness, not the denseness of our physical presence. And therein lies the hope! I believe in our collective ability to inform changes that will turn this massive ship towards calmer waters. I believe that the seeds of change have been planted with us for a specific reason and I believe in our ability to nurture those seeds. I believe we have a unique opportunity to be the watershed. I believe there is great hope for positive changes in how we respect each other, our differences and our planet. I believe in our ability to grow a better forest. Do you? Of course, you do. It’s why you’re here. It’s why we’re all here. It’s why we stay connected and why many of us signed up for a second round of IMBA. It’s why we continue to seek out opportunities for personal growth and transformation. It’s why we believe that hope is not something that is sought but rather inspired. And there are few images more hope-inspiring than new forest growth.


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