My Life Lessons After Working As A Tree Planter

tree planting life lessons

A few weeks ago I’ve signed up to work as a tree planter for a season of two months in the majestic forests of Norway, the country I currently live in. However, looking back on it, my true conscious and subconscious motivation to get myself involved in this strange venture doomed my experience for failure from the very start.

But you know what, no matter how much I mess up, I always see a lesson and a gift of growth in everything that comes my way. To me, there’s no such thing as a bad experience, only a tougher lesson to chew on. So I call this tree planting gig a failure now only because I didn’t last the whole season of eight weeks as originally planned. I only managed to push through for a week.

And that was plenty if you asked me. Because, even though completely exhausted, bruised, scratched, and sun-burned, I came out of this venture with a deeper understanding of the workings of my own peculiar mind and of life in general.

So here are my personal life lessons that I took from this strange ordeal.

Lesson No. 1:
I have serious money mindset issues / limiting beliefs

a) I’m a panic job-seeker

I had been trying to convince myself that I’m going for a very green adventure, to contribute my share of trying to balance out our ecosystem, but, in all honesty, it was mainly a financial matter to me. The thing is that I’d lost my job in the hotel I was working for the winter season as covid-related restrictions were tightened and the hotel decided to shut down till summer. This left me jobless until my summer season gig in the seaside town in Norway. And at that moment I’ve entered panic mode.

Although my savings weren’t extraordinary, I still had some and the last salary with holiday pay was on its way in a month. But in my mind, all I could see was lack and the numbers in my bank account melting down before my eyes. So just like many times before, the thought of being jobless for a little while longer was indigestible.

Almost instantly after getting this news, I’ve started looking for a job, any job. And I found a job, any job, without taking into consideration that my life situation might be different by the time the new contract starts. And I definitely have not considered that it actually can be extremely hard physically, much harder than I should ever want to handle. Or have I?

b) Earning money must be hard

This thought brings me to one of the biggest culprits of my unhealthy relationship with money – a limiting belief that earning money has to be hard, oh so very hard. And if it’s not hard mentally or emotionally, it’s better be hard physically.

This comes as no surprise, really, as my whole family had been working hard and a lot at physically demanding jobs when I was growing up. And yet, all I could hear is that there was never enough money. My current adult’s mind sees it differently, but at that time the story of working very hard for the money that will not be enough to go by anyways was implanted deeply into my subconsciousness. Now I must, I absolutely must address this issue if I ever want to get rid of my money anxiety.

Lesson No. 2:
Time is the most valuable currency

I know this to be true and it’s one of the most precious life truths to soak deep into your bones. But my aforementioned money blocks have prevented me from being grateful for the abundance of free time that my temporary joblessness provided me with. (I remember doing a lot better on this the first time covid joblessness bestowed me in 2020. Interesting.)

That was the time when I could have focused more on what I’m doing right now – writing, building my blog, expressing my soul, aligning with my life’s purpose. Perhaps even more importantly enjoying life with my loved ones, relaxing into pure being. We are human beings, after all, not human doings.

You can always earn more money but you can’t ever earn more time. We all get the same 24 hours a day and nobody knows how many of those days each of us has left in our life accounts.

One of the harvested forest fields in Norway, ready to be planted.

Lesson No. 3:
Life is constantly checking if you have your priorities straight

My tree planting job was supposed to take place away from my newly-found home where I’ve just started to settle for five months with my lovely boyfriend. Three bus rides of around 2 hours in total one way, to be exact. The plan was for me to stay in a tree planting staff accommodation for the workdays and spend my weekends in my real home.

Two weekends in and I already found this commuting quite exhausting, physically and emotionally. Getting a lift straight from the fields Friday afternoon to hop on a train and then a bus back home felt stressful yet exhilarating. But after spending less than two full days at home, seeing my boyfriend, who also started working on weekends, only for a few hours, and basically spending time recovering my body from the work in the fields, the time to leave seemed to come too quickly.

I knew it’s all temporary but I couldn’t shake off that feeling that I’m missing out on building my relationship with my beloved and working on our fun little home projects, such as our garden. I couldn’t help but feeling like a betrayer of my true self, running away from the perfect bliss, seduced by a promise of a paycheck. Creating and having a home is much more important to me than I let myself realise. And it takes more time than weekends.

Building a romantic relationship is not going to happen by dating or seeing each other for a few hours in a forced-upon time frame too. Instead of planting spruce seedlings, no matter how noble it may sound, it’s time for me to concentrate on planting seeds for my future. Because long-term goals have to synchronize with the here and now moment, they have to reflect each other, as if there is no past, present, or future, there’s only life, a wholesome non-linear life.

It’s hard not to sound arrogant by saying this, but I truly believe that even a job offer can be a distraction. The Universe is constantly testing you by flashing potential money in front of you for you to check in with yourself if you stay committed to what you call your dream. And if you stay committed, things will eventually line up. You just have to trust, surrender, wait out the uncomfortable periods, deal with the anxiety that comes up. Because anxiety is like a dog – if you keep running away from it, it will keep on chasing after you.

Eventually, I did receive a phone call from my manager at my summer job, offering me to come and start earlier, as in immediately. It’s not necessarily my dream job, but it’s in the field I want to be in right now. Not the tree planting field, but the hospitality field. It’s a much easier job which I know how to do and that makes me happy doing it. And it’s 5-minute-walk away from my real home. That brings me to one of the most important life lessons brought to me by this tree planting adventure. That is:

Lesson No. 4:
I suck at decision-making if I consult my logic instead of my gut feeling

I’m still struggling to distinguish my anxiety from my intuition. And when anxiety is screaming louder than my heart, I turn to my logic to set things straight. And then, more often than not, when anxiety is put to sleep, my heart turns everything upside down – the right way. I still change my mind a lot because I’m still afraid to trust my heart to the fullest. But it is essential for an abundant and blissful life.

Each and every single time I stand up for myself against my fears, my anxiety, and the mythical common sense taking a leap of faith, even if it logically seems like the craziest and boldest idea, it pays off, it works out. Everything and everyone around me settle into a perfect symphony.

Yet somehow I still need to remind that to myself each time I’m facing a bigger decision. Surrendering in trust that everything will work out in the best way possible is hard but it’s crucial for staying on your true path.

This is the way the ground in the planting fields looked most of the time.
This is also how my mind felt during a couple of my breakdowns in the middle of the fields.

Lesson No. 5:
I still rebel against my femininity

This is another vast topic that I’m going to delve into a lot on my blog. The change of my perspective towards what it means to me to embrace my womanhood, allowing myself to express my femininity as my dominant energy, will probably shock a lot of people that used to know me as a rather radical feminist, as I see it now. I thought that I had been preaching for equal rights but in fact, I was succumbing to an idea of a strong woman created and posed to us by our predominantly patriarchal society. Both genders are suffering from this destructive imbalance in feminine and masculine energies, qualities, gifts.

The change of my perspective into all of this came naturally to me, at the right time, in the right environment, with the right people. And this is one of the most profound and uplifting changes I’ve had in my life that contributed massively to the happiness and ease I feel now. I’m still learning to feel comfortable in calling myself a woman and being proud of it, in calling myself feminine and embracing it with joy. Embracing my authentic self fully.

So taking upon this tree planting job showed me that I’m still rebelling against my femininity and against my true self, trying to prove to myself and others that I’m physically strong to do anything I want. But why is there a need to prove anything? Perhaps I do have limits and perhaps it’s OK? It’s one thing to try to survive a war or natural disaster or a harsh living environment that you are born into. But if life is relatively easy, why pushing yourself off the cliff to prove to yourself and others that you can balance and flip yourself back up? Aren’t boundaries that you set for your mind and body an expression of your self-respect?

I am strong in my own unique ways, just like everybody else. And it will benefit me and the world much more if I honour and use my actual strengths and passions.

Lesson No. 6:
Regular alone time is essential for my well-being

But it doesn’t have to be hours away from home. And it doesn’t have to be many hours a day too. Balance is key.

This tree planting adventure gave me a lot of mental clarity. I understood how overinvolved with others’ lives I’d been lately and that I forgot to carve a generous portion of time to myself and to my private activities, such as writing, meditating, reading, studying, doing yoga and inner work. These activities need time, a consistent routine, peace and quiet.

Nature plays a big part in it too. I’ve realised a long time ago how important to me it is to relax by gazing into a large body of water or taking a walk in the forest. But during this week my attention was caught by how absolutely rejuvenating it is to actually touch the ground with your bare feet, preferably, every day. I’ll leave it to you this time – just research the concepts of earthing and grounding.

After a couple of days working in the fields, I felt confident enough to gamble with my attention by trying to do two things at the time – planting and listening to podcasts. I’ve discovered an amazing flush of ideas and new concepts that I’m still researching now. After a few podcast-heavy days I’ve realized that being here and now, absolutely immersed in your activity and environment is much more precious and rewarding than trying to save time and bombard your brain with information, filling it with others’ voices.

Moderation in everything you do, think, and experience.

Final Thoughts

So in the end my tree-planting venture worked out just fine. As I see it now, I went to a week-long physical work camp, paid my dues by planting more than three thousand spruce trees, earned some pocket money, and, most importantly, came back with a clearer vision for my future which starts….now!

And by this one text alone I’m setting the tone for the future, the new concept for my blog in general.

Everything happens for a reason.

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Featured image: Me in the forests of Norway. Some time ago. Photo credit: Greta.Aurora.St

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