Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia - Jane Tor 

When I first visited Plitvice Lakes National Park, I was stunned by the shades of sienna, orange, green, and red. The weather was cool and damp, and a soft hush fell upon us as we walked through the park, neither of us wanting our voices to overpower nature’s voice. 

Everywhere we walked, I could hear the rustling of leaves on the ground, thousands....millions of them falling off trees into heaps upon heaps. 

Witnessing Autumn at that time, was such an appropriate vibe for me. It had been eight months into separation from my ex husband, and I was starting to really feel myself grieve for the failure of our marriage. 

Like seasons in a year, we grow through seasonal changes in life. I suppose sometimes, certain trees don’t survive the winter, and never grow leaves again. It happens, I’m told. But no one ever told me, it would be our marriage, not surviving the winter. 

Walking through the park though, however, I’m more acutely aware of how necessary this process is. As the earth’s rotational axis takes heat away from the park, animals hurry and gather food for the winter. The trees shed their coats of dying leaves and branches, and matter falls back into the ground as energy - stored energy. 

Similarly, I needed to shed dead matter. I needed to recuperate and conserve my energy, this time for myself, not for anyone else. I needed to heal. 

When I visited Plitvice Lakes just 7 weeks later, winter had well arrived. Unlike the gloom I thought I would feel, I felt refreshed. Now, the grief felt less painful. Instead, I felt myself transitioning. It was almost as if I could myself shedding the skin of my past, and preparing to bloom in spring. 

We're all a part of nature, whether we remember this or not. Nature heals itself. Its older and wiser than we are, and much less anxious about the changes it goes through. The trees aren't afraid of the impending cold, for they embrace it. 

There's a silence that nature commands from us, because no matter how much we think we can bulldoze over nature, it always self-regulates. 

Similarly, we may think we can manipulate how fast we heal from trauma. But the truth is that we need time to go through the stages of grief. And we need only to believe that change will come in time. We won't feel heartbroken forever. But we can't rush through winter. We have to let our emotions self regulate. 

I'm excited to visit Plitvice Lakes again, this time in Spring. This time, fully ready to embrace being happy.