Because it is spring, there is an overwhelming amount of work that needs to happen to keep two acres of pines, maples, fences and gardens tamed. One exercise that must be done with trees, bushes, roses, and most perennials is that of pruning.
I am currently reading a book on business that is also talking about this process. This author comments that pruning needs to happen on three levels:
1 – if energy / resources are siphening off toward something with less promise (and therefore could go toward someting of greater value) … it should be pruned (i.e. the good versus the great).
2- if something is sick or diseased or damaged … it should go.
3- if something is dead … it deffinitely needs to be ended.
This author speaks of the pain that comes from letting go (or of purposfully ending things) and how this discomfort keeps us from acting, until that action is long, long overdue. I had read this book two years ago and felt like there were many things in my life that needed trimming and systematically began doing so. Here is the short list of activities, people, and ideas that I have cut from my life.
-97% of "meetings" (church, work, community). There has been no negative fallout from this what-so-ever, and I have hours and hours more in my months now. Hurrah! Such a good return for my investment of the uncomfortableness of saying 'no'.
-meetings with people just because they want time with me. (This is both an activity as well as an idea that I had to clip out; I used to think that becasue they (usually young people) asked, I "should" respond. Well, I am responding now, and the answer is a highly evaluated yes or no. If I feel like they are not really interested or positioned to grow currently, the answer is 'no'). So much energy had previously ebbed out from meeting with people that I felt drained by … and that is no longer happening. Hooray!!
-related to this, I have trimmed ambiguous answers. Where before I might have said,"Let me think about it" and then I agonized over the ways to gently say no or extricate myself, I am now just saying "no" to almost everything others ask of me, and I say "If something changes, I'll let you know." This has brought me great internal freedom from inner wrestling. (And, after thinking about it, I do occasionally say 'yes' Huzzah!! : )
-I trimmed several non-effective positions that I was giving my time to.
-I stopped accepting invitations to showers, book clubs, hiking clubs, small groups, movie nights, music events, women's events, etc. You have no idea how awesome this is; to change the default from "I should" to "No."
-I stopped trying for weed-free gardens.
-I stopped making my bed – don't judge me for that one! : )
Of course all these did not happen at once. It was a trim here and a cut there over a period of years. But they have all added up to an increase in two important commodities: TIME and ENERGY. Of which I was able to invest both into ventures and people that I believe will have good return on my life and I will similarly be able to invest and return to them.
So why the re-read of the book? Because, as with my yard, I do a major trim in Spring and Fall … I think more things need to go. One of our pets causes me tremendous stress. I need to de-clutter one room in particular. I'd like to prune my habit of eating too much sugar, because I think it is negatively contributing to how I feel throughout my day. And there are other things to add to this list. With that energy and time, I should be able to better reinvest toward the ideal me -whom I believe God delights in my discovering and living out of.
(Next year I may prune ending my sentences with prepositions).