I have always loved willow trees. As a child, when I first discovered one draped beside a creek near my house, I thought I had found heaven.  The roots that grew visibly into the water provided wonderful spaces for sitting and cooling on a hot day.  The branches, soft green and feathery, created a quiet, secret world.  And within that world were magical friends: frogs, minnows, beautiful stones, small lush plants.

At my childhood home we watched a willow tree grow from a thin yellow branch to a majestic centerpiece in our backyard within a decade.  The first house my husband and I bought as a young family had 2 large willows in the backyard.  Now, as an older woman, I am blessed to live on a farm with a glorious pond framed by — yes, you guessed it! — willows. (A picture is below.) From all of these trees, this is some of what I have learned:

You can bend in the strong wind without breaking.  Providing shelter for others creates loving friends and unexpected adventures. If the world stops providing exactly what you need, then you have to extend your roots even deeper.  You may weep, but that just makes you better able to deal with the elements.  And, new willows volunteer out of nowhere each season to grow next to you and contribute to the haven you have created.

My hope in this blog is to remember those lessons as I share stories, hopes, ideas, thoughts and support for people like me who dearly love someone who struggles with an eating disorder. This idea has grown out of the work I do facilitating a support group for families and friends of people with this disease, and their confusion and pain as a member of that community.

Let’s grow into a forest of willows, flexible and strong, learning and growing together. Willowpower!