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February 14, 2010

Have you received any seed catalogs yet?  Have you noticed that stores are starting to stock their garden areas? Even though my yard is still full of snow, I know that in a few short weeks it will start looking more and more like spring every day.

We live on a couple of acres with about 300 trees.  Although spring means sunshine and new growth and the sound of birds returning from the South, in the back of my mind, I know there will be a certain amount of work required to keep everything healthy and beautiful. We will be raking and planting and pruning before you know it.

If we don’t prune our trees, they end up with crisscrossed branches, suckers, and weaker growth overall. We often need to cut a few healthy branches as well as the dead ones. It seems a bit cruel, but pruning is healthy and necessary for the trees and rose bushes to grow and be their best.

There is a direct parallel to your life here that I want you to consider today.

Once in awhile, we need to do some serious pruning in our  lives.  We need to cut off “suckers” to make way for new ideas and growth. The suckers might be toxic people or people who drain us.  We may be over committed and need to prune some otherwise good activities from our lives to achieve quality and balance.   Often we continue to do things without really knowing why we continue to do them.  We just do them.  They are superfluous and are possibly prime candidates for pruning.  There are most likely habits or distractions in your life that are getting in the way of you being your best self.  Go grab some paper and write them down.  Start thinking about what people, activities, and habits you might prune to allow for growth of your highest priorities.

I have a friend who moved cross-country many years ago (before e-mail and texting) and literally sat down with her address book and made cuts.  Yes to John, no to Brian.  Yes to Lorraine, no to Karen.  (Thankfully, I made the cut.)  The result was a manageable number of relationships and a pruning of those that had run their course.  It felt a bit callous or even ruthless, but in the end, it felt GOOD.

In my own life, I had to prune the goal of continuing work on a Ph.D. at this time to encourage more growth in my relationships with my teenagers and husband.  They are both good things, but right now, family is more important.  The Ph.D. will still be there later, my teenagers won’t.

What pruning can you do as spring approaches to promote new growth in yourself?  Like that day in spring when you first open a window after a long winter, doing some pruning can feel refreshing, even if it gives you an initial shiver.

A Social Networking Aside: We are all connecting more than ever via Facebook, Twitter, and other tools.  Many of us are re-connecting with people we haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years.  I am finding that people can grow and change dramatically.  Sometimes that growth is in the opposite direction of who we are. I think there are cases where the past should stay there and we should be content with the fond memories and move on.  Let’s be honest…much of our interest in them is just plain curiosity and seeing if we turned out “better” than them anyway. Maybe some our Facebook life needs pruning too…. Visit this blog post on Krustallos for some excellent further discussion on this topic.

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