my love-hate relationship with pruning

I do not like to prune away living parts of the plants in my garden. It is difficult for me to give up on a straggly, bloomless piece that might miraculously survive. Or end the growth possibilities of a wayward stray or a growing-crazy-over-everything healthy branch. I can cut off the harvest, no problem. But to trim away something just to toss it away (compost it, really), well, that is hard for me.

I’ve learned to do this because it is good for the plants. The trimming clears the dead weight, frees up breathing room, lessens the overgrown craziness, and provides nutrients for young tender shoots. Gardeners know it is crucial and necessary work. As we cut away, we trust the new life to develop even stronger.

This morning, that undesirable work reminded me of other areas of my life.

I also have difficulty tossing items away in my home – things I’ve never used, don’t like, or that don’t fit into today’s rhythms and lifestyle. Now, that can have a good side. I avoid filling the landfill and recycle, reuse, and repurpose all I can. But I’m talking about letting go of things that take up space, cause clutter, or I’m still hoping I might use some day.

Those things could be better used by others. When I clear them away, I have less clutter, fewer distractions, and more white space in my closets. Maybe even less guilt.

This is also true in my work. As I take on new roles, sometimes the most challenging task is not the learning of new protocols or systems, but the letting go of what I used to do. (And did well.)

Giving away some of my previous work makes room for my new tasks. Saying “no” to some requests gives up-and-coming leaders opportunities to develop. Putting aside old priorities creates breathing room for thinking and praying and new people’s needs.

It isn’t always obvious what needs to be pruned. There can still be life and health there. Not all that should be pruned is dead or useless. But that trimming back, that letting things go, makes room for new growth – for me and for others… and for my plants.

Pruning is challenging but necessary and life-giving work.

How do you feel about pruning? What helps you let go and say “no” when it is a good thing to do?

mi relación de amor-odio con la poda

No me gusta podar las partes vivas de las plantas de mi jardín. Es difícil darme por vencida con una pieza desordenada y sin flores que pudiera sobrevivir milagrosamente. O poner fin a las posibilidades de crecimiento de un extraviado díscolo o de una rama saludable que crece como loca por todos lados. Puedo cortar la cosecha, sin problema. Pero recortar algo solo para tirarlo (realmente compostarlo), bueno, eso es difícil para mí.

He aprendido a hacer esto porque es bueno para las plantas. El recorte elimina el peso del muerto, libera espacio para el aire, disminuye la locura y proporciona nutrientes a los brotes jóvenes y tiernos. Los jardineros saben que es un trabajo crucial y necesario. A medida que cortamos, confiamos en que la nueva vida se desarrollará aún más fuerte.

Esta mañana, ese trabajo indeseable me recordó otras áreas de mi vida.

También tengo dificultad para tirar artículos en mi casa, cosas que nunca he usado, que no me gustan o que no encajan en los ritmos y el estilo de vida de hoy. Eso puede tener un lado bueno. Evito llenar el vertedero y reciclo, reutilizo y o doy nuevo propósito a todo lo que puedo. Pero estoy hablando de dejar de lado las cosas que solo ocupan espacio y causan desorden, o todavía espero poder usarlas algún día.

Esas cosas podrían ser mejor utilizadas por otros. Cuando los elimino, tengo menos desorden, menos distracciones y más “espacio blanco” en mis armarios. Tal vez incluso menos culpa.

Esto también es cierto en mi trabajo. A medida que asumo nuevos roles, a veces la tarea más desafiante no es aprender los nuevos protocolos o sistemas, sino dejar atrás lo que solía hacer. (Y que hice bien).

Regalar parte de mi trabajo anterior deja energía para mis nuevas tareas. Decir “no” a algunas solicitudes brinda a los líderes emergentes oportunidades para desarrollarse. Poner a un lado las viejas prioridades crea un respiro para pensar y orar y proveer para las necesidades de nuevas personas.

No siempre es obvio lo que necesita ser podado. Todavía puede haber vida y salud allí. No todo lo que se debe podar está muerto o es inútil. Pero ese recorte, ese dejar que las cosas vayan, deja espacio para un nuevo crecimiento, para mí, para los demás… y para mis plantas.

La poda es un trabajo desafiante pero necesario y que da vida.

¿Cómo te sientes acerca de la poda? ¿Qué te ayuda a soltar y decir “no” cuando es bueno hacerlo?

let them fly

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My “baby” (just finished her freshman year in college) boarded a plane this morning to take an international flight… all. by. herself. I am a bit nervous. I am anxiously awaiting updates as she makes her way through three flights, three airports, immigration and customs, money changing, and a bus ride to a destination where she will finally connect with friends. I will be counting the hours… minutes… seconds?

I go through second guessing… Is she ready for this? Did I tell her everything she needs to know? Will she get stuck somewhere?

And then I remember… I raised her to do this. I am not an overly protective, micro-managing, hovering type of mother. I want her to be confident, try new things, step out of her comfort zone, take adventures. I want her to figure it out on her own… or be able to ask for help. I want her to make her own (wise) decisions, trust her instincts, lean on her faith, be strong and not afraid of the unknown. 

I want this for all my children… and I want this for those I supervise at work and in ministry. One of the hardest things to do is to let them fly on their own… be in charge, take over, make the decisions. One of the key lessons in leadership is: get. out. of. the. way. Let others lead.

Will they make mistakes? Yes.

Will they make poor decisions? Sometimes.

Will they need help? Sure.

Good training, modeling, and coaching is crucial, but there comes a time when it is really only our pride and our fear that stand in the way. I have seen many leaders that hang on to leadership for too long, wearing too many “hats” of responsibility that could be released to others. I’ve done this myself. But I’ve learned that when we sense a lack of leader candidates, they oftentimes step up only when we are out-of-the-way and there is a real gap to fill.

It’s OK to feel nervous… to worry a bit from the sidelines… even to remain available for a quick touch-point .. but it is not OK to hold them back by our own fear or selfishness.

Let them lead. Let them go. Let them fly.

Is is hard for you to let go? How have you learned to let others lead?

feeling lost

I got lost three times on the way home from the airport. On the way there for the first time, I wrote down the three highway #’s and took duplicate toll money from my wallet, so that I would be ready for the trip home. The difference was that on the way there, next to each highway # sign, there were others that directed me: » » » AIRPORT. In contrast, on the way home there were no signs that said: » » » Terry’s Apartment. They only mentioned exit East/West or North/South… and although I had the highway #’s, I had no idea which direction would take me home.

Have you ever felt lost? A new city? New job? New life-stage?

Getting lost is just part of being only two days in a new city. The newness of a move also includes no food in the fridge, chaos of boxes everywhere, meeting new people and finding new places, exhaustion and uncertainties. I am really grateful for the few special, sentimental items we brought with us – pictures, blankets, pottery – that make this new apartment feel like “home”. They help bridge my old life to my new life; they add security and continuity to my transition.

What helps you handle change? Do you continue traditions, pack special mementos, visit familiar restaurants? 

I know intellectually that it can take a year to feel at “home” in a new place. Emotionally I want it to feel like home now! I am trying to implement a few healthy practices to help with the change…

Laugh: I’m learning to laugh at myself, at the new adventures gone wrong, at all I don’t know… and laugh with others, making new friends and good memories. Some tears are inevitable, but I can find reasons to laugh too.

Let Go: I’m trying not to compare the old with the new. I figure it’s OK for me to miss special people and places, but I need to give this new place a chance. It will feel different for me – not as good in some ways, but maybe better in others. I want to keep my eyes – and my heart – open for the “new and improved”. 🙂

Learn: I have so much to discover – new best practices, “insider” tips, local haunts… If I take the initiative, observe, and ask a lot of questions, I bet I’ll find a lot of great treats and treasures in this new life.

How do you look forward to the “new” in your life?