Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall cleaning and pruning

The autumn months always seem to be a stronger time of change for me. I'm sure that varies per individual, but for me, fall seems to usher in changes on many levels. Currently, I am in a deeply contemplative space and have been paying close attention to my own thoughts, actions and how they are sending messages to the world and people around me. The realization that follows is that it is time to do some fall cleaning and pruning off of deadwood in my personal sphere. This is never an easy undertaking, as it means putting an end to relationships that are not productive. Emotions rise to the surface on a personal level, as well as the recognition that the deadwood you intend to prune away, i.e, people, perhaps work, old habits will cause ripples of reaction.

We've all reached this point, countless times, regarding old friendships that seem to make us tired rather than inspire and lift us up. Generally, the automatic thought process is to give it a little more time, a little more energy and wait to see if things turn around. This is a valid approach, as all relationships experience ebb and flow, waxing and waning moments. We all have busy lives, families and priorities that eat up our time. It is understandable that there are moments when friendships do get put on the back burner. What I am speaking of, however, is that point that you reach when it is plain that said relationship is no longer positively serving either party involved. This can mean marriage, it can mean work relationships, it can mean the job you're currently working, it can mean girlfriends, guy friends, church friends....you name it, and the relationship can reach a zenith.

I believe that we come into one another's lives to teach, to learn and to grow as a result of that interaction. It has been a bit of a struggle for me over the years, learning to let go when I could feel the beginning of the end of a given relationship. Everything inside me would clutch up in a mindless panic, that, oh no....I'm losing that person that I love! I have no magic solutions for how to deal with the inevitably painful process, other than time, age and experience teaching that all things have a season. The more important topic at hand, I think, is to become aware of the patterns surrounding you, and learn to adapt. You have it within your power to create an ideal atmosphere for yourself, with the best situations, best people, best work, best everything surrounding you. In order to do that, you must first identify what it is that is working, and what it is that is not working in your life.

The most efficient way to judge any situation is if it feels good or bad. Your emotions are your most accurate divining rod for literally everything you experience. Is a relationship making you happy? Or is it dragging you down and leaving you feeling depressed when you spend time with a specific person? Do you feel as though you are the one constantly giving more than 50% of the energy into that relationship? I find that to be a good starting point when I make the decision to review my personal sphere of influence. If you are at that point where you do, indeed, feel a decided lack of balance and you also are aware that you have done everything possible to change that dynamic, perhaps it is time to do some fall cleaning of your own. While it may feel just the opposite, this is actually a very healthy thing to do for yourself.

Is there a perfect way to achieve this? No, as each situation is unique, they all require different approaches and methods. I am all for straight talk and being up front with people. In fact, one of my pet peeves is when people refuse to address what is right in front of their noses. For whatever reason, it has become acceptable to sweep important, valid emotions under the proverbial rug, ignore them until they grow into monstrous proportions and then just disappear from a relationship with no explanation. That, without fail, can create more questions, hurt feelings and wounds than having an honest conversation. Questions, hurt feelings and wounds can linger indefinitely, whereas an honest conversation, while potentially painful when the topic is ending a relationship, can be cathartic for all parties. This, I believe, can be a vital part of your individual mental health. Knowing where you stand with any given relationship, knowing that everything is out in the open, can be very empowering and freeing.

You will know best which method to use in your own life and your own situations. You'll also probably make some mistakes along the way, but you'll learn from those experiences. In the end, you will eventually find a process that fits your life and your personality, and will honor the relationships you are involved in. Holding on to connections that no longer serve a purpose can become toxic, can cause unpleasant limbo and can bleed over into other relationships. Many times in the past, I have done that needless holding on, to my own detriment. Through trial and error, and the simple process of growth, I have developed my own way of dealing with the not always enjoyable realization that it is time to do my own fall cleaning and pruning.

Does ending a relationship mean that it is ended permanently? Of course not. In fact, I have very recently reconnected with a girlfriend who was dear to my heart over 12 years ago. Casting my mind back to the time that the friendship began to dwindle, I can remember the timeframe that it began. I recognized inwardly that both of us were heading in different directions, with different dreams and I could actually feel the energy shifting between us. Was there an exact moment I can pinpoint that things ended? There was a timeframe, but not an actual moment that we sat down and discussed the situation. It was more of a gentle drifting apart until we completely lost track of one another.

Jump forward to present day, and the phenomenon of Facebook proved to be the catalyst for reconnecting to occur. We are different women now, 12 years later, but in so many ways, still the same people who clicked so well so many years ago. She is still dear to my heart, regardless of 12 years spent apart and becoming new versions of ourselves. So, the good news is, when the time is right and if you are meant to reconnect in the future, it will happen.

Love never dies, as it is an immutable energy. It can change, certainly, and most times, for the better. Be open to change, my friends; this is the strongest lesson any of us can learn. A scary lesson, to be sure, but one that can create unimaginable joy if we are brave enough to allow it and embrace it. I can say from personal experience with a whole slew of recent reconnections of old friendships, the joy is immense. It is a fascinating process to spend years apart from someone you loved, then come back together and discover all the snazzy nuances they have achieved in the interim.

Another happy instance is this: with endings, as we are all aware, come new beginnings. It may sound trite and overused as an analogy, but there is strong, sure truth in the statement that when one door closes, another one opens. This applies to all relationships - work, friends, family - when there is an ending, God, the Universe, simple serendipity, call it what you will, but a Higher Power will provide a new beginning. Nature abhors a vacuum, and thus, a newly vacant space is soon filled with new energy.

Your job, as a person who is working to honor your own existence, is to remain clear-headed and aware enough to recognize those new beginnings. Sometimes they slip in with the silence of morning, other times they come booming into your life with the energy of a Force Five hurricane. We can get caught up so easily in distractions that we often overlook the obvious, so pay attention! If you're thinking of fall cleaning and pruning, do it bravely and also be prepared for those new beginnings. Life is full of change, and every moment is a perfect one, if you choose to make it so.


  1. Lovely post & I share many of your thoughts. Especially the emotional component. To many people bury things in their lives & try to move on like there's nothing wrong, then days, weeks or months later there's a big explosion because of keeping everything buried. We need to allow ourselves to feel what we feel no matter what it is & move beyond the negative feelings through conversation or release....burying them only makes it worse!!

    Thanks for being apart of my life & sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate learning more about you through your experiences.



  2. Thanks for taking time to read one of my early posts, Bill. That one was re-posted by several friends on their respective FB walls because it seemed to hit a very common chord with many people. We all do go through those moments of finding it necessary to evaluate and make needful changes.

    I agree w/ you - following someone's blog allows us to get to learn more about that individual and gain a better understanding of who they are. I feel the same about reading your blog posts. I value your presence and friendship as well.

    ~ Dawn

  3. This was a very timely post written for me and excellent in every way. There are a couple of friendships that have cultivated over the last few months since moving to MN. I have found myself distancing emotionally with this one individual for specific reasons and situations that have occurred that has broken trust with me.
    This person has played a vital role in my life, and since I have not developed friendships in a new town part of me wants to cling to this relationship. I've discussed this with my therapist and the events that unfolded in the relationship and she felt that drawing some healthy lines and distancing myself was a good decision.
    I love it when something is stirring in me and is confirmed by my fellow bloggers. Hope I'm not one of those being pruned away :). Janie

  4. Jane, perish the thought! I just was prompted to revisit this blog post from Bill Bruners latest blog - they were similar in the spring/fall cleaning concept, w/ his blog being about the physical aspect of getting rid of old things, and mine addressing the friendship aspect of pruning away deadwood.

    It's very cool, as you said, when something is stirring within us and God/Universe doles out the answer in new and old blogs! I love how and when that happens. :)

    ~ Dawn