Here in Alberta, winters are long, the days are short and the air is cold. This past January I was exploring the concept of Winter Wellness. Settling into January post-Christmas takes some adjustment. By this point, I could easily hit fast forward on the rest of the winter and skip to spring. In my exploration of "Winter's Wellness" I came across the concept of “Winter's Pruning”. It was fitting in preparation for the planting and growing season of spring.
When the Corona Pandemic struck and we were instructed to self-isolate, I wondered, why now? Why springtime, when we’re just waking up to a new season. But regardless of “why now” Carona did come and it’s been with us for this spring. It’s almost as if winter wanted to stick around for an extra season.
It’s almost as if winter wanted to stick around for an extra season.
These past few weeks in May I’ve been in the garden, which included pruning. And, it got me thinking again about this concept of pruning. I found myself staring at an old mangled shrub, hidden, tucked away, slightly out of sight and easy to ignore, which by the way, is what I’ve done for the past eleven years I’ve lived in this house. Not this year. This year this overgrown mangled bush (below👇) got a makeover.
I’m new to pruning and the work felt awkward and intimidating. Imagine this bush (above), a massive web of overgrown crooked branches. I don’t think it has been properly pruned for its entire existence. As I got into cutting it back, I discovered many dead branches within it. The more I cut the more was revealed. This is where I discovered the term “hard prune.” A hard prune is when you cut a shrub all the way down to its base, forcing new energy back into the plant.
COVID-19 has felt like that. A year of hard pruning. Just as we got out of winter and into Spring the COVID Pandemic struck.
Often, crises or “hard times” reveal things in our lives that need pruning? Maybe even a HARD prune?
Ultimately, if left alone, branches will survive, but not thrive.
My Garden also includes a Forsythia tree (below👇). It usually is covered in yellow flowers, but this year there are only a few specks of yellow on the tips. A friend, kindly sent me pages from her book the Pruner’s Bible, I read and learned that if the forsythia is to flower well it needs annual pruning to remove the old wood to encourage new flower-bearing shoots.
COVID - 19 has caused an abrupt disruption in our homes, families, and lives. Possibly uprooting old stems that have been neglected and aren't flowering. We’ve been so busy, we work, we play then repeat. We haven't had time to stop and really reflect.
In our momentum, our resources are stretched, and nothing, or no one, is getting our full attention. In most areas, we are surviving, not thriving. This may look like collecting relationships, commitments, obligations, habits, thoughts, belongings, other people’s opinions on your journey through life.
What do you do with all of this and how do you manage it?
If you are feeling stagnant + overwhelmed, weary, it might be time for a good look at pruning your life, that could also be your business, volunteer work, roles you play, relationships you have for growth. What would happen if we were to get out our shears, and extract the parts of our life that are no longer giving the results they once did, or are never going to amount to anything no matter how much we try?
So, too, does this happen in our lives. We limp along with broken relationships, hang onto toxic habits, and linger in commitments that deplete us physically or emotionally. It feels as though all of our energy is being diverted to sustain parts of ourselves that are not producing fruitfully.
When you start pruning things in your life, it’s awkward, uncomfortable, even a bit scary. There will be some pain in getting rid of, the sick + the deadwood. But, after the work is done and you see new signs of growth in your life you will be glad you did the work.
A big prune or (hard prune) is only needed once and a while. But once done, it only needs regular maintenance to keep your life’s garden in shape. Regularly, take a moment to consider is life becoming cluttered again? Take a moment to consider if all these things are necessary and contributing to your life in a positive way. My suggestion would be to make a list of things that you are feeling overwhelmed about. Schedule a time to come back and reflect on them a little later to carefully consider if they are things worth keeping or pruning.