Pruning my deadwood: a terrifying proposition

This post is dedicated to Syda, Carla and the power of Sisterhood (a true blessing of revolving support amongst a group of trusted souls).If you do not have these forces present in your life, I implore you to be open to the amazing possibilities they provide.

On a recent morning, I lounged in my backyard, sipping coffee perfection and listening to the birds amid their morning frolic.The once grand tree on the other side of our back wall, a jungle gym for every species of bird from these parts and on occasion, I'd swear some who don't typically stomp these grounds called out for my attention. This winter (which is Phoenix' version of almost everywhere else's spring) when the tree bounced back from dormancy into leaved splendor, it revealed an enormous chunk of its magnificence had died. Traveling breezes sidling up for introduction now meet dead branches, stiff and unyielding, yet air mingles easily amongst the life-filled foliage, welcoming and responsive: the perfect dance partner.

once grand tree

once grand tree

The shape of this tree is balanced and well-rounded, but it's crying out in need of pruning, possibly for its own survival. According to Wikipedia, "a dead branch will at some point decay back to the parent stem causing abscission". (Gulp) This fact, neither shocking nor illogical, elicited a strong response from a small internal voice.She scoffed and stomped her feet, dejected over the potential "corrective pruning" in this tree's future. 

I engaged in an internal dialogue with this embittered inner voice. Her arguments:

  • Don't be so hasty. Maybe it'll come back (the ever hopeful procrastinator)
  • What's wrong with that tree? Leave it alone! Stop nit picking!
  • What if it doesn't survive the chopping away at its perceived "dead parts"? Putting it through all of that stress and chaos just to have it die anyway...ever think of that? (Yeah... she's a little sassy, this particular inside voice.)
  • It'll look foolish, unbalance and unsightly when it's "fixed".
  • And for how long? Will it ever fill out again? What if you're dooming this tree to be misshapen for eternity? (She's a little overdramatic, also.)  
  • Once it's chopped up, everyone will look upon it with pity, thinking: look at that pathetic excuse for a tree.

That was certainly a lot to "come up" in an internal dialogue about a tree I see every day. The state of this tree spoke to my heart in parallels to my own personal growth. I know there are pieces of long ago, once necessary coping mechanisms that no longer protect me and hinder my greatness. I realize my path of personal evolution is a spiral one, not a straight line; and that opportunities for helpful change are brought around again and again offering the chance to do "corrective pruning" of my own. What I'm now coming to understand is that the process of change and transformation, even when for the overall greater good, remains foundationally scary for me, bringing about powerful feelings of vulnerability, ineptitude and disdain.

When sharing this with my fellow on-line journaling community, two very special people stepped up in support.My soul sister, Syda wrote:

“The wonderful thing about nature is that it is grounded in its roots. The root system that you have built will continue to support, feed and nourish your limbs; as well as sustain any new growth that develops (habits, thought patterns and attitudes)... Take care of your roots and as you prune...your roots will take care of you.”

My insolent inner voice considered these gentle words from a trusted outsider, and she moved from battle mode to contemplation. Next, the incomparable Carla Reeves, founder of Sanity Journals and our den mother at the Journaling Lounge sent out this gem:

“There is certainly a sense of sadness letting go of that which is no longer needed, and an excited expectancy of what is to come when in fact you do let go, trusting and knowing you are making room for something better...when we neglect the necessary pruning and letting go – we stifle our light and magnificence from shining through.”

Carla then shared a tree painting inspired by this topic and the conversation it kicked up between she, myself and Syda. Her “Tree of Inspiration” evoked a sigh of adoration and delight from me and all my inner selves.

Newly strengthened by the outpouring of genuine support and camaraderie, I reached inward and held tight to a little hand attached to that little voice.I explained to her that deadwooding is the removal of all dead, broken or diseased branches, thereby making the tree more structurally sound. Together, I told her, we will slowly and only when necessary, prune habits, thought patterns and attitudes that are no longer helpful, trusting in the aid of Spirit to guide the way and ultimately, we will flourish, be structurally sound, grow, fill-out and be the beautiful tree (me) destined to be.

Our hands clasped together, she offered me a little squeeze to indicate her willingness. Together, we began to consider which branches to clip first.

Loving me,

Grateful for them: