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?

Where is your white space?

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Henry Cloud is one of my favorite teachers and authors. I began reading his books many years ago, and I now grab every new one he publishes as soon as it comes out. I have written a few summaries of his books on this blog (see links below). Now that I think about it, I may write some more this year!

Recently, I read a short post by Henry Cloud on the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) blog (which is a great blog, by the way!). Henry was talking about the importance of having WHITE SPACE (or rest) in our life.

too much stuff + too long = overwhelmed and tired brain

Henry was endorsing the valuable research and work done by a woman named Juliet Funt. Juliet spoke at the GLS, and you can find some excellent short video clips of her ideas on YouTube. Her company,, helps organizations reduce their busyness, schedules and digital habits so that people can be more engaged and creative at home and at work.

Research has shown that the highest performers in life
have a pattern of not being “on all the time.”

Henry Cloud

Juliet shares some great tips for protecting the WHITE SPACE in our schedules:

  • Take some thoughtful time and inventory your motives for saying yes.
  • Try to separate the emotional (the enjoyment of being asked) from the practical (will this opportunity truly move your goals forward?).
  • Attempt to mentally envision and realistically consider all of the inevitable to-dos and busyness of the time around the date of the request.
  • Make “No” your default answer. Let “less” be your guiding principle. You will  never regret having too much time.

Which of these tips could you apply in the next few days to find some WHITE SPACE in your week?

Henry Cloud book summaries: Integrity  •  Necessary Endings