Well over 20 years ago I applied to colleges with absolutely no idea how I would be able to afford to go. I applied anyway. And somehow, through a string of miracles – grants, scholarships, and loans just enough to meet what I needed and two truckers who helped drive me and my overheating Honda hatchback over the mountains in the middle of the night – I made it!
When I arrived at my college dorm (at a school I had never laid eyes on), there was this tree. It stood huge outside the entrance, covered in the most beautiful purple flowers. It was like nothing I had ever seen.
(For those of you who grew up in Southern California, you’ll be all too familiar with the Jacaranda – but I thought it was magical!)
That tree became the symbol of my getting-to-college miracles. And over my years there, it grew into more.
I noticed particularly that every winter it withered into the saddest looking thing. Not just bare – but yellowy-brown and stringy looking – it was bedraggled and ugly.
For a number of reasons, college was one of my favorite times in my life – but it was also pretty painful. I remember looking at that tree – in all of its seeming hopelessness – and thinking that despite all appearances, that tree was designed to bloom. The winter would pass, the spring would come, and beauty would emerge. I held onto that – for dear life sometimes.
The people I now sit with in my office, their brains remind me of that purple tree. Their stories of trauma have left a barren and tangled mess of painful neural networks. Yet, these brains aren’t made to remain that way. They are designed to be able to come through the darkest of winters – to heal, to live, to thrive.
I discovered that EMDR therapy could unlock this process – so that spring could blossom where it was meant to, so that brains and lives didn’t remain in perpetual winter, so that their stories could become all that they were meant to be.
The purple tree became my logo – and if you look a little closer – you’ll also see it resembles a neurological memory network. In my mind, I couldn’t better capture the work I now have the privilege to do than with the symbol that has – for so long – most represented hope to me.