Finding My Truth Among the Trees and Birds

by Diana DeVaul

Since the age of five, I have pretended to be something I am not.


My current age of 44 years found me knee to knee with my cherished friend, Mary Lou, in Kripalu’s Main Hall, facing my fear of being different. The vast ceiling helped offset the packed atmosphere as my fellow Radical Acceptance warriors found their positions with their chosen partners. After two days and series of presence-filled meditations and breakout groups led by Tara Brach, I was feeling more than ready for the closing practice. 

All we had to do was face our partner and, as they guided us with gentle questioning, state out loud what we love.

What could be easier?

I have so much love in my life, and I trusted Mary Lou with my truth. All I had to do was speak.

The words were there, but some remained lodged in my throat. I sensed a battle within as the walls of my chest slammed over my heart. Whenever my thoughts edged closer to certain beliefs, shame would well up and coat my words in a stickiness that warned of danger.

Saying what I loved out loud could, once and for all, acknowledge that I do not belong.

To help me cope, I started with the easy things. The things that were deemed acceptable to the world. 

Mary Lou, my husband, my two sons, and my two dogs topped the list. After that, I froze. 

In my unexamined perception, the next things on my list are associated with the core of my “not belonging.” Here they are, in no particular order:

My love of trees and the special relationship I have with all I encounter. 

Birdsong. It never ceases to amaze me how every bird I hear warbles the exact signature of my soul at every turn.

Standing lakeside, not knowing where I begin and the water ends.

Seeing a flower and feeling an ache of recognition as its beauty speaks to my most mystical, hidden no-self.

I am most at ease with creatures and beings anchored in the present moment.

Nature and animals are my sanctuary as I continue to release layers of self-identity. Animals especially have a way of seeing through my exterior and, as Tara states so beautifully, straight to the “gold within me.”

It is true: I am not “normal.” I am a mystic. I am a seeker. I am someone who feels more spirit than human. I walk among the trees as my true home where Oneness is not questioned but rather felt and known. Where I am known.

Outdoors, Oneness is all there is.

With the help of teachers, authors, and retreats, I have more compassion for myself in this story of being different. It is okay if I feel shame for my quirks, for this is part of the human experience. As long as I access self-kindness to soften the edges of despair, I can learn to balance the light and the dark I hold within. I do not get it right every time, but there is valor in the trying. 

What no longer serves me is silence. 

It is not okay to keep my truth buried inside. As I acknowledge what is real for me, this is where acceptance rises up to meet me.

I do belong. I have always belonged. Nature has been patiently waiting for me to realize this.

Home is wherever our hearts feel the most free.

So, for today, I will open my door, step outside, and let the sun kiss my face.  I will nod silent greetings to all the trees and tip my hat to the birds as they sing joy up to the sky and back again. 

Today, I rejoice.

Diana DeVaul is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. She uses her writing to help guide us all into greater self-awareness and love. Connect with her at

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