Doing the Work | Cutting + Pruning

What looks "good" might need to go.


I think it’s interesting that when the New Year comes around, we’re in the beginning of winter.  We celebrate the newness of another calendar year and another round of resolutions, but the natural world around us doesn’t necessarily look new.  I know that in Southern California, our “winter” is really comical compared with most of the country; however, winter is winter and can have the same implications whether you live in San Diego or Chicago.

 

For my husband and I, winter means cutting back our rose bushes.  For most of the year, our rose bushes are full of bright blooms and color our yard with reds and yellows and pinks.  When January comes around, they’re actually still in bloom.  And we actually have to cut back shoots and branches that are still alive.  That is how we keep them healthy. 

There’s a certain type of shoot that is particularly dangerous:  a “sucker cane.”  This is a kind of cane that looks healthy but is actually draining the life out of the rose bush:

 

“Sucker canes will, if left to grow, suck the majority of nutrients necessary for good growth and performance … weakening the upper part of the bush – many times to the point that the upper portion dies. This is why removing rose suckers as they sprout is important. Sucker canes will usually take on a totally different growth habit from the rest of the rose bush. They will grow tall and a bit wild, much like an untrained climbing rose.”

from Gardening Know How

 

In the next few months as we consider what it means to “do the work” in our lives and relationships, I plan to connect this theme from what I’ve learned through nature.  I think pruning and cutting the “sucker canes” in our own lives is a large part of doing the work.

 

What in life is draining nutrients and growth from your inner life (i.e. your soul)?

 

What might look healthy and thriving, but is actually taking on a “different growth habit” from the rest of your life?

 

What is threatening to suck the life out of the things you value most in life?

 

And what would it take to cut and prune those parts of your life?

 

 

Doing the work is painful and can mean loss and letting go, and you don’t have to go it alone.

 

With you and for you,

Alair

Photo from Gardeningknowhow.com

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Alair Olson, M.A.

 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT#86504)

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