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Oak versus Willow!

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“The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”  – Napoleon Hill, author

Although it’s a cool analogy, I propose that for parents of children with disabilities, a Willow is a better tree.  A Willow’s roots go deep, but they also spread out, searching for a little water to nourish them. They thrive best by a stream that will refresh them, but can go years without water, living with only the tiniest bit of moisture to sustain them.

When a strong wind comes, a mighty oak, standing alone, can be knocked to the ground. It’s a target for lightning- tearing a limb, leaving a wound vulnerable to infestation by bugs that can weaken it. It can catch on fire after a dry season or two.

Bend or Break?

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A Willow bends in the wind, it twists, it may warp…but it will still stand. If struck by lightning, its moisture will sustain it and withstand fire. If it loses a limb, it produces sap to heal that spot. It will warp, it will be scarred, but it will live! The warps and twists make it interesting and lovely to look at.

When the sun shines on a Willow, yes, it grows higher, storing energy to sustain it in the hard times. But it also spreads out, sending out shoots to bring the next generation of Willows to life.  The Willow weeps, yes, but under its graceful arms, many other life forms find shelter and it is in the twists of the limbs, in the flow and the grace of the weeping that we see the beauty of the tree.

So be encouraged! You may be battered, and feel like the trials you have gone through warp and twist you, but you are beautiful, like the willow. Full of grace – you will survive the storms.

Renee Boyes Walbert has been with Parent to Parent since the beginning! She has served as an Advisory Board member and later joined the P2P Staff Team. Renee has had many roles in our organization and is currently the Membership and Outreach Coordinator. Renee is a wife, mother of three and the grandmother of one. She has extensive experiences with the disability community including various services and supports; she participates in multiple public policy efforts to make positive changes in systems. You can reach Renee at rwalbertp2p@abilityconnectioncolorado.org

Let’s continue the conversation!  What is your reaction to the Oak versus Willow analogy?  As a parent, what makes you feel more like a Willow or an Oak?  We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions on our Online Parent Support Group for Parent to Parent members.  Email your ideas to:  P2P-CO@yahoogroups.com

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