trees: the beneficent beauties among us

I’ve never understood how the noun “tree-hugger” became a pejorative, like: “dick,” “bitch” or “drama queen.” (if you still believe the latter is allowable see: calm down? f@#k off!)

How can hugging trees indicate anything other than awareness and respect for all the gifts they give the whole planet? If you’ve never considered them as actual beings, if you’ve taken them for granted, if you’ve turned them into a category, then slowly ruminate over this phenomenal bestowal:

Shade, oxygen, cooling of the planet, pollen for health and honey, fruits, flowers, oils, teas, coffee, spices, flavorings, medicines, wood for furniture, houses, boats, musical instruments, etc., decorations, fuel, rubber, maple syrup, sugars, nuts, mushrooms, gum, fertilizer, bark, fibers, paper, cardboard, glue, resins, dyes & inks, turpentine, insulation, cotton/silk (Ceiba Tree), shampoo and perfumes.

Beauty! tinting all seasons.

Bird roosts, homes and hosts for infinite beings, nesting materials. Trees mitigate humidity (add and subtract as needed), modify sound & light, give color, improve water: their roots are a natural water cleaning system, reduce soil erosion, wash the air, prevent pollution, maintain ecological balance and they add major property value.

Their presence textures our landscape vision. Trees have proven calming effects, ameliorate depression, provide fun (climbing), relaxation (think hammocks); they live hundreds of years; redwoods create whole new environments at the top of themselves and “they change the chemical nature of the soil…assum[ing] control of vital resources in the forest, particularly sunlight and water.”

Considering how humans treat them, use and abuse them without a thought or a thank you, trees exhibit infinite patience, something we could all use a little more of.

Maybe most importantly—in a world gone missing in doing and consuming—trees model wisdom in stillness.


pejorative you! you mother-pejorative-er!—what? i didn’t curse you…

I’m sick of dismissals, discounting, disregards. Dissing in general.

And I’m tired of the “disguised diss” most of all. This is where the passive-aggressive techniques really come in handy. Fortunately, I’m of Italian-Toscana descent (there’s so many reasons this is fortunate) and I wasn’t taught passive-aggressive; I was trained to speak openly.

Unfortunately, because of my upbringing I don’t always realize when I’m in the gaseous area of the poisonous pass-agg. This type of “communication” can be exasperating because I’m often unsure what has actually been said, and feel incapable of responding directly without seeming overly sensitive, emotional, dramatic. See calm down? f@#k off!

Need some examples?

  • I’m sorry you don’t get what I’m saying.
  • Don’t mind me. I’ll wait out here in the cold.
  • Whatever you say is fine, honey.

But the part of pass-agg I want to discuss today: “embellishing” someone’s behavior by inserting loaded words that criticize you as a person but are disguised as saying how one feels. This bit really sucks.

Instead of frankly saying something like, “It’s difficult for me to listen when your voice is escalating/mumbling/whispering,”—all of which could be valid complaints—the “disguised diss” assertion is as follows: “When you’re ranting/have marbles in your mouth/whining like a baby, I can’t hear you.” Three things are going on in this sentence:

  1. what you were saying is dismissed as a “rant,” “having marbles in your mouth,” “whining,” instead of something you’re legitimately trying to say
  2. your character is denigrated
  3. you’re categorized as the aggressor because they “can’t hear you”

Other phrases/words used as pejoratives: she’s intense, he’s a drama queen, you’re badgering me, nag, railing, raging, harsh, zealous, hostile, emotional. All used to discount what a person is saying. Basically, the pass-agg person is controlling the situation: “If you don’t say it appropriately—the way I want it said—then it’s not valid and I won’t be listening to you.” How many parents have thrown similar statements in our faces when we were children?

But, we’re not children now or—hopefully—a-hole adults. So, let’s start speaking as respectful people. You’re free to complain about what’s not working for you but do it in a kind, straightforward manner and make it about what you need not about our nature.

Hear Oscar Wilde, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

calm down? f@#k off!


In April 2011, during a heated debate on healthcare at Parliament, PM Cameron told opposition Labour Party’s Angela Eagle to “Calm down, dear.” Even without the “dear,” Cameron was arrogant, entitled and patronizing.

Let’s be practical. Has there ever been a time when someone (usually a male or a parent) says, “Calm down” or “Relax” and the person on the other end (usually a woman or a kid) actually does so?

NEVER is the answer. So don’t be ineffectual.

Getting heated in discussion, being passionate about issues or feelings is (or should be) normal. What’s not normal is to pretend unflappability, to not elevate your voice or cry a little or laugh aloud. I’m not too dramatic–now a pejorative in American culture–I’m alive.

Telling people to relax is not as aggressive as shooting them directly, it’s just passive-aggressive. It’s dismissive, non-empathetic and plain bore-ish. The imputation is we’re being hysterical and that nothing being said is worth paying attention to. It’s controlling: say it the way I deem “right” or I’m not going to listen. And calling people “drama queens?” downright manipulative. Have you noticed that the ones lobbing that insult are usually living vicariously, “stirring the pot” and then calling it drama when someone else emotes, even a little? Projecting, anyone? Scapegoating? You bet.

Well, please don’t let my emotional untidiness disturb your delusional feelings of superiority. I get to feel excited, disgruntled, electrified, fired up, enthusiastic, vexed, sorrowful–and so do little kids. You have the option to listen and respond–not judge. Key word: listen. Focus on what is being said FIRST, then reply accordingly.

Being animated or even intense doesn’t hurt anyone. If you can’t handle vibrancy maybe you need to connect with your more colorful sides, your heart’s fires instead of trying to put ours out.