what does it mean to be rooted?


 What does it mean to be rooted?

This is a good question to ask during times of transition. Whenever we feel distinctly un-rooted, or up-rooted, or out of sorts in any way.


Instead of launching a big new plan of action during times of transition, it’s helpful to give ourselves permission to dig in, dig down, dig deep, and find the taproot within that wants to be nourished.

The blank slate of a fresh new year’s calendar

The middle of summer

Going back to school or back to work after an absence

Moving house

Recovering from an illness (yours or someone you love)

Grieving passages…divorce, death, disappointment

The empty nest…or perhaps you’re readying a nursery…

A new career

Picking up a new creative project or hobby

these are just the kind of transitions I am talking about.

Especially if you’ve endured a long season of: preparations, faltering energy, increased stress, travel, socializing, entertaining, shopping, cooking, or caring for the needs of others.

It can be hard to “motivate” and find energy for new action after all of that.


What we need after a time of such external focus is a return back to the center of ourselves, to reflect inward and find our solid ground again.

Keeping a creative journal, one we write in, but also doodle and paste images in, is my favorite way to practice this kind of self-care.

It’s even more meaningful to do this with others who hold the same intention.

This is why I was inspired to invite people to journal with me. What if a whole bunch of us journaled together?

What if we spent time together in creative reflection, regrouping from our own changes and transitions, and found new energy within?


While it’s a 30 day journal project, there is no pressure to journal everyday.

It’s not meant to be effort or work.

One participant told me today that just reading the day’s prompts made her feel better. She feels connected to our group of journalers, even though she’s not writing every day.

Other participants are sharing that the daily emails with the prompts are like a lifeline for them right now. They, too, are connected, and finding energy and an eagerness for their creativity that hasn’t been there before.

what today's writing looks like, old journal at hand for reference

As for me, this project grew a lot bigger in scope of work than I intended. Which is how I usually do things.

Take a small idea (a daily email with journal prompts) and make it bigger: a web page for each day! with tips! and images! For thirty days!

I made a leap imagination to put this project out in the world. I had to get audacious and overcome self-doubt, and I had to practice trusting where my heart wants to take my work next.

This is where my heart is taking me. There are about 2,000 people journaling together. And we’re only a week into the project.

I am keeping enrollment open for the time being, so if you feel inspired, please join in.

You can find out more about the project here: Root: A 30 Day Journal Project

You won’t be “behind”, you simply start with the first prompt and go at your own pace.

I’ve been working with just a couple of the prompts the whole time, including this one: What does it mean to be rooted?

When writing feels like work, it can be helpful to “answer” the journal prompts with images, the way I did in these examples from my sketchbook. (This journal was made in 2001-2002, and the first time I tried working in a Moleskin journal.)

If you fear drawing or playing with art supplies, look through magazines or books for images, and simply paste them in your journal.

And if you want to overcome your fear of the blank page, take a peek at workshops you can take with me.

Overcoming page fright is easier and happens more quickly than you might imagine.

I wish someone had shown me how to not be so afraid to put down whatever I wanted on my own blank pages all those years ago.

I wish someone had invited me to journal with them, just for the company.

I wish I’d had more trust in my own creative process.

I wouldn’t have hid in the creative closet for 20 years. Or spent all those years and thousands on therapy trying to find creative courage.

I would have found the answers right in front of me. In the waiting pages of an open sketchbook.

Thank you all…for being here and reading this today.

How have you used journaling to help you manage transitions?


29 Responses to what does it mean to be rooted?

  1. Maery Rose August 9, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I was struggling with recognizing and naming this “taproot” that needs to be nourished. But then seeing the word “trust” on you journal page, I realized this is similar to what I’ve been trying to do more of. Not trusting of other people but of myself. To explore and trust what I like and don’t like, what I value, what I believe is right for me instead of listening to and valuing more the opinions and beliefs of others. I am becoming still and listening for that “knowing” that comes to the gut.

  2. Susann August 8, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    OK, so this is the post that made me understand why the first time this challenge went around — less than a year ago, seriously? I feels like much longer than that! — I let 8 dozen other things take priority & never did go back to work on the prompts, even though I told myself I would. I’d changed a number of things in my life last fall (including moving), and in January I was still UProoted and UNrooted. Happy, but crazy distracted & unsettled. Now, 10 months later, these prompts are speaking directly to me. I know everyone’s bored to death with my almost daily epiphanies (I’ll settle down, I promise!), but I had to tell you again, Lisa, how powerful this challenge is. An hour’s worth of journaling shows me not just what makes me feel rooted (something I’ve never really thought about before), but — much more importantly — that I very obviously have not fully incorporated those things into *this* new life. I’ve been going through my days as though I’m still in transition — and I’m not. It’s not a hard fix. But I just didn’t see it. Small wonder I’m still feeling slightly unsettled & anxious in spite of how perfect things actually are. Freaking amazing!

  3. Lynne July 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Here it is July and I finally committed to the challenge of the 30-day Journal project. (I last posted in February:) I had printed off all thirty days of inspiration knowing that it would be a while before I would be able to make a commitment.
    We moved to our present location over two years ago. I understand uprooted after leaving a home after 26 years. I am finally putting down new roots so I knew it was time to go for it.

    I am on Day 8 and decided to take your advice…I do not have to go it alone. I am always hesitant to see others work. Somehow it gets stuck in my brain. I have a hard time getting my creative self to move through it and feel that it is original with me.

    One of these days I’ll take some pictures and share on FB.

    Thanks for putting this together. I am wondering if anyone else is just now beginning their “Roots” journal!

  4. nadine March 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    i, like Janice, signed up but didn’t receive prompts after the first week. any way to access them now? thanks.

  5. Lynne Tull February 22, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    Thanks for this post! I have just started this project…kind of! I am printing off Day 8 and I have just now decided which Journal I want to use. Then, I couldn’t decide exactly what I was to do next. This post came just in time. I have journaled since I was 17 and a junior in high school. To put that in perspective I am now 74. I am retired and do a lot of collage art. I really feel this project was put in my path to help me move in a new direction. I want to start drawing and experiment with different mediums. Also, want to brush up on my calligraphy skills. This is a perfect project for me. I think that getting started will be hardest for me. I have never done anything like this. At this point, I am assuming that the word “Roots” is the major theme. My journal will reflect what that one word means to me. If that is the wrong assumption, will someone let me know? Thanks,

    • Lisa Sonora Beam February 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi Lynne – Welcome, I’m so glad you joined in. How did you find out about the project?

      As for the theme – we work with the idea of Roots throughout – but each prompt will evoke something different for everyone.

      No need to reflect on that one word each and every day – although you may choose to.

      Everyone approached the work differently…keep in touch here and let me know how things unfold.

  6. Janice Young February 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    I signed up for the ROOT: 30 Day Journal and thougth that I would receive emails with the prompts, but I have not. Please let me know how to receive/access them. Thank you! 🙂

    I’m also signed up for Dreaming on Paper and am looking forward to it!

  7. Vicki January 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Revisting this was a huge thing to me….I looked at today’s inspiration: What does it mean to be rooted…in a much different fashion than I first looked at Day 3..Cultivating Roots…this time I went deeper and discovered that moving to being rooted is for me very different than cultivating roots…when I first wrote I realized that I had to begin from the very beginning due to many reasons to have any roots…and that for me “cultivating roots” was to begin again and almost start from nothing to slowly building a new foundation for my life…but that “being rooted” now meant something much deeper in understanding myself, in being authentic, and solid on my own in a safe place both emotionally and physically…to allow myself to explore both internally and externally what that means.. to wonder and to be open to change and growth and to allow myself to be creative….and to learn , I HAVE reached out many time to others for help in rebuilding and finding these roots….that meant facing my fears, going through things rather than around them….to understand that I am responsible for building these new much more solid roots from now on…that means making choices, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, watching my own self -talk…changing old patterns…which is slow and evolving process, having faith in myself, learning to trust again…and know who to trust….following my own instincts, honoring all the work I have done to this point and to know there is always “work” to do…that I must nurish myself each day with rest, good healthy food, feel my soul, move my body…to accept myself at 65 and know that I am no longer 45 or even 55….to be comfortable in my own skin and know how my body changes as I age…and to respect that…to live to the best of my ability and to be true to myself….will keep me grounded and rooted…and to know that life is very unpredictable..and I must lead my own life to the fullest and not live in constant regret…and to keep moving forward….To stand tall and plant myself to myself and to dig deep to keep finding myself….to “till my own soil” and to find my own ground…I know that is a huge amount, but I have been working on this for a long, long time…with much support and gentle nudging from those who are both supporting and helping me…rebuilding new relationships…and more, and knowing as I said this is a process and does not happen quickly..and now I have learned to better pace myself and be kinder and gentle to myself….thank you Lisa for this forum and opportunity….

    • pat macri August 12, 2014 at 7:25 am #

      Vicki, you could have been speaking from my own thoughts and feelings – perhaps it’s our age bracket and life experiences that have made your post sound like me writing. Thanks you for your eloquent phrasing, that mirror my life. The uprooting, the aging process, the regrets, they are all there …..

  8. Patti January 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Timely and just. I missed a couple of days and crammed a few…don’t like this. I want the freedom of mind and day to do as I please when I please. Alas, that appears an impossibility to me, but I continue to dream about it.
    To be rooted is the connection with your very nature and it’s in nature where I find it. This is why I am disoriented right now…it’s winter, I cannot connect with the earth, in my bare feet and bum (well not bare bum!) and resonate with our Gaia….this slows me and clears the “culture driven” mindset that besieges me where ever I go… so I mope about during the winter months feeling lost and unconnected…so I try to meditate and remove myself from the sameness of it all…

  9. susie January 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I loved this prompt on roots> I have u[rooted several times in my life for didnt reasons i have learned for myself that each time I have done this that I havent been able to get all the roots up from their preivious place so I have to remember to care for those roots also that got left in the ground because they have started a new journey as well as this one that I am on. My main root can not survive if I fail to care for the roots that mistakely got left behind. I need to care for them all gently I love that one with love if I dont no one will.. susie

  10. PAT MARTIN January 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Lisa, I have found your project to be very inspiring. What I am doing is copying the prompts into Word and writing for a few minutes. When finished, I post it on my FB timeline. Anyone who is reading my journaling on FB can find the Root of the project because I make sure to include your link for every post.
    I have readers telling me to keep writing, that they enjoy reading my thoughts that your words prompt me to write. But I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me. Thank you!

  11. Marialena January 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    I’ve had this page open since yesterday, letting the question of rootedness sink into my consciousness. I know I’m feeling unrooted. It is true physically and I’m missing a deeper rootedness that might hold me through. I think that hibernation, curling in, might be my best course of action. And I will try to explore it, despite the compulsion to keep pushing and doing. Time to slow down and listen. Time to look at the signs in the journal. Thanks for this prompt. It is circling still inside me.

  12. Susan B January 9, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Ok. I find this journaling project painful. I would rather have wheels than roots. It is painful because I realize things and get a different perspective. My childhood roots are foul and I would like to be rid of them. They keep following me around though. I did not make new roots. So to nourish myself I eat too much. Aaaaaaha! Roots has something to do with nourishment!! I seeeeeee….

  13. Dana January 8, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    I’m having fun… Is there a place one COULD post one’s pages?

    • PAT MARTIN January 13, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      I have been posting on my Facebook timeline and have been surprised by the number of people commenting how much they like reading my posts. Do you Facebook?

  14. sheila kalkbrenner January 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I am currently my only advocate in a medical injury case that is going to the appellate division of the NYS supreme court. When I saw your invitation for this project, I knew it was perfect timing to participate in something like this. The court documents and case are a lot of pressure and I am racing to finish before the deadline. My medical condition is not conducive to the type of agressive approach I would have taken with this in the past.
    The ROOT project reminds me to just STOP every day and take this time out for me. To refuel and remember my strength. ..To remind myself that I CAN do this task. ..I can confront the powers that be…. It gives me time away from the injustices of this case, corporate mentality, government beuaracracy, and alterior motives…to let go of all of that for a few minutes. In my healing process I have moved far beyond many of the issues that used to drag me down but reviewing all of the documents for this case just dredges up a LOT of old angst and scrapes the scabs off old wounds. Being ROOTED reminds me that this is just the leaves and branches.

  15. Susann January 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Technically speaking, were one to get technical, I am way behind. I have managed to do about 3 out of these 8 days. But, for a complete and wonderful change, I am not annoyed at myself about this, or telling myself I “ought” to catch up or that I’m not doing well. No. No more of that nonsense for THIS girl. I am collecting the posts and the prompts and tucking them away tidily and well within reach, and I feel kind of like when you have a secret stash of chocolate. You know it’s there, you know it’s available whenever you want it, but you’re enjoying the anticipation almost as much as treating yourself to the stash.

    Even though I’m not always actively journalling these prompts, I do hold them in my thoughts all day, mulling them over, wondering how I feel about them, what I think. And I know when these crazy busy 2 or 3 weeks are done and things settle down, I’ll have that “stash” to play with.

    And it occurred to me this morning that perhaps my ability to do this without the old habits of self-criticism or impatience is an indication that I’ve become more rooted in myself over the past year (lots of growth, lots of transition, all for the good). I certainly FEEL more rooted, and I want to look at this much more deeply, with an eye to making those roots even deeper & more wind and storm resistant. Fabulous stuff, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • Susan January 12, 2014 at 7:37 am #

      I also am holding on to the prompts and responding to them as I get to them. For the first time in my life, I am not creating guilt trips for myself about not doing them on the day they are posted. When I do sit down to journal. I respond, may read what others have written, and then may write some more. Some days I move on to a second set of prompts and write again. I have been a ‘follow the rules’ kind of girl all my life. I have been surprised that I have been comfortable doing this journaling program according to my own plan with no self doubt. I wonder if it means my roots have become strong enough to allow this?

      • Lisa Sonora Beam January 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

        Susan: I have sprinkled each and every email with Guilt-Free Virtual Glitter.

        My heart’s intention with this project is to open up the joy of creating. Guilt and “should” are big killers of our creative joy. As so many of you (and me) have experienced.

        The idea of roots came to me for this project because I personally felt the need to “root in”, and tend my ground, and nurture the root of my experience.
        This is a good thing to do annually, cyclically, whenever you are experiencing a wintering in your life…that time before spring when something new will come forth.

        Just like nature. She is a wonderful teacher.

  16. Susan January 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Thank you Lisa for this wonderful project. I’m thoroughly enjoying each days’ prompts. I love the fact that this year I started off with meaningful journaling; art that I’m doing from my heart and thoughts


    Here is the link to my take of the prompts from Day1-5

  17. christine rose January 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m getting to love roots! Not only do they hold you steady and nourish you and give expression to growth, flowering and blooming into of all kinds of wonders, there they are under our feet invisible to us and growing against gravity! and so many of them have amazing healing and medicinal powers too. The imagery and what I’m learning about roots is really helping me to feel that I am tilling my soil here and beginning to nurture my own creative roots. Its never held steady before, now I’m sensing that here is the way. Thank you Lisa, you were so right to do this, and I’m glad we’re not posting our journal pages, I’m happier just sharing my thoughts on the experience and no getting side tracked by what others are creating. My roots aren’t strong enough for that yet.

  18. Sherri January 8, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Thank you so much for today’s prompt. My family moved a lot when I was growing up. I rarely ended a school year in the same school I began the year in. So, I associated uprooted with negative childhood experiences of being torn away just as I was beginning to flourish. As a young adult uprooting myself became habitual because I never experienced the concept of being rooted. Over the last several years I have been active exploring what being rooted means to me.

    When completing today’s prompt it occurred to me that I believe being “rooted” simply means digging down deep and tapping into that which provides you nourishment, stability to weather the storms of life, and allows you a secure area to grow. I also decided “uprooting” is similar to transplanting a seedling to the garden – it can be a bit traumatic, but it allows exponential growth.

    Thanks again!

  19. Laura January 8, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    Thankyou so much Lisa. This post was just what I needed. Today I feel exausted and demotivated and like staying under the covers. Self care is critical and for me journaling is an important part of how I do that. I am learning to focus on my relationship with my self. I am also starting a new creative project and have a lot of fear around it. I will now write and explore my need/desire to feel/be grounded/rooted and my tendency to drift away from myself. Thankyou. No idea if this comment makes any sense but I wanted to share a little gratitude with you. X

  20. Melody January 8, 2014 at 4:09 am #

    I love the program and the idea of roots. My intention word for this year is BLOOM but blooming isnt possible without deep roots and so this seemed a perfect place to start. 🙂

    Also I like being prompted rather than facing a blank page with an instruction to write 3 pages. Everything I write and create is about being distilled drops of emotion, feelings, ideas etc. I find it hard to right copious amounts of words, yet I can at the same time be prolific.

    Thanks for the oppotunity. I feel as though Being Rooted might be th shadow to my bloom!

  21. Gena January 8, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    Being rooted means knowing that life is rooting for us, that we have nothing to worry about, that we can relax and let go and be inspired; that we can be fed and nourished by the mere acting of allowing… our roots to go deeper… until such time that we feel inspired to grow and take action… rooting for you, dear Lisa, and for all the beautiful journalers on this path! Namasté!

  22. Darren January 8, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    Perfect timing, for today’s prompt and post. I was feeling unmotivated and empty as I woke this morning. I felt empty after giving so much to so many over recent weeks and months. Time for me to get rooted, time for me to get some nourishment… simply time for me. Thank you.


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