My Linden tree did not turn out as I hoped. Perhaps that’s what you may be feeling about your career or your life. At times I lament making the “wrong choice.” Then I’m reminded that I’m always sharing with clients there is no one “right choice”. My Linden tree also gave me some happy surprises, like my somewhat annual Linden Tree Party.

Before I share the life lessons, first a bit of back story. Through the entire summer of 1981 I was intoxicated by the sweet fragrance of trees in the West Quad courtyard at the University of Michigan where I did an internship. The fragrance would haunt me on the streets of Pittsburgh. I wanted one of those trees!  Although I bought my house in 1992, it wasn’t until 2003 that I got serious about identifying the mystery tree. In the gift buying process, my sweetheart said the nursery needed to know if I wanted the more fragrant variety or the hardy.  Since I felt a decade late in planting, I chose hardy. It turns out this variety has amazingly fragrant blooms…but just 7-10 days a summer. It  usually blooms the week of my almost annual arts conference vacation away!

Lesson # 1 – Acceptance: I’ve learned (mostly) to accept my tree for what she is as well as accept my own decision.  I try not to judge myself for making a so-called “wrong” choice and for not doing even more research. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.  Maybe you have experienced negative surprises in a job or career, even after much research and networking.

Lesson #2 – Appreciation: Since my tree just blooms 7-10 days, I’m in heightened gratitude when I’m around.  I spend every minute I can outside under the canopy.  I fill vases as big as my dining room table. When I’m traveling out of town, I take branches of fragrant blooms in the car with me.  I remind myself of the positive aspects to counter other things (including, by the way, that it is a messy, branch and bug-dropping tree). There are naturally plusses and minuses of jobs, careers, relationships. What can you remind yourself to appreciate right now?

Lesson #3 – Creativity: At some point I was inspired to celebrate my Linden’s burst of blooms by inviting my church friend group over. The now beloved Linden Tree Party includes poems, singing, drumming and hands on blessing of the tree, and sometimes an occasional tree hug.  Turning lemons into lemonade!

Lesson #4: Support and Perspective: My friends so love my tree that they help me appreciate it as I still occasionally recount the story as a mistake.  I expect they might not like the “lemons” reference! One friend created a Meaning of Trees booklet in honor of my Linden for a birthday gift. I learned symbolic and cultural insights about my tree including: it represents healing and peace; it was the location of village local courts of law; and it was the hub of festivities with dance platforms constructed inside of massive Lindens in Germany. As a Libra who loves harmony and has a dance room, I learned more reasons to appreciate that this is quite the perfect tree for me.  Who in your life might help you see situations in a different way, teach you new things, or help you understand or cope with a current circumstance?

May you find appreciation for whatever is in your life at the moment.  May you make the changes needed for greater happiness, whether a change of perspective or actual situation. And, of course, if you or someone you know is considering a career or job change, I’d be happy to help.