A couple of years ago my husband and I bought our first house. Prior to this, I’d spent the past decade + living in apartments and condos with no yard to maintain, just a small patio or deck at most. I tried my hand a few times at having some potted plants or trying to grow some herbs but didn’t have much luck. So, when we moved into our new home, I decided that because I love nature and I love the outdoors I was going to do some gardening, dammit!
By now, I’ve tried my hand at planting broccoli and cauliflower and squash and carrots and lettuce and so forth and have had a lot of fun with the planting and the harvesting. It still amazes me that I can grow produce in the backyard! (I feel like a little kid who’s all excited that the seed they planted in a cup is actually becoming a real-live-green-thing.) And—because this is a therapist blog—I have to share that during my gardening exploits, I’ve discovered something about myself:
I love planting new things.
It’s exciting to watch things grow and see the changes happening. And, I loooove harvesting. It’s a thrill to bring in some veggie and say, “I grew this!” So, as you can hear, I’m stoked by the beginning and the ending, but it’s the middle part that gets dicey for me. I mean, weeding can be cathartic but it does NOT have the same draw as reaping a harvest, nor does remembering to water, fertilize, etc.
Even more so, I struggle with trimming and pruning those already established plants. They’re so vibrant and alive. I worry—what if I screw it up? What if I kill it??! And the lesser—but what do I prune? Where do I start? It’s so hard to cut off a flowering branch that’s in the way or that has dead bits underneath those flowers. I try to rationalize. It looks so pretty! How can I cut back what looks nice? That’s not really helpful, is it? Sometimes I go ahead and make the cut, and sometimes I get scared and leave it alone.
Well, I made the cut recently with some lantana that I’d planted. It produced beautiful flowers for most of last year but had become a large, unruly bush. So, I did my homework (because , of course, we HSPs have to be prepared, right?) and thought about it and set out to trim the lantana way back, as I had read was recommended. While pruning, I mostly felt terrified that I was going to kill this beautiful plant that brings butterflies and hummingbirds (Two things that I love to watch!) to my yard. When I was done, the lantana looked sad. It had gone from being this green, bushy plant to a bunch of twigs. I came inside and almost cried that I’d killed it. (uh huh, there are those intense emotions, fellow HSP.) Over the next couple weeks, I kept watching it closely and have been so happy to see more and more leaves and flowers emerge. It’s not back to its former glory yet, but I can see that it will get there.
You see where I’m going. I realized my little gardening experiment gets replicated all the time in the therapy room and even in my own life. Growth and change can be frightening . . . especially when you can see something alive currently, and you’re not sure what will happen if you cut it away. Both therapy and growth take courage. And some trust . . . and hope . . . and risk. You gotta make a leap and hope that you’re gonna land ok. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is! But I also know that if we don’t prune, we don’t create opportunities for new growth. We become unruly and stuck. We may hold on to dead branches that we don’t really need or that are blocking our path for anything new. We have to trust that if we remove what’s not working we can make room for something new and, often, something even better.
So, here’s to wishing us all the courage to prune when we need to . . . and to allow the growth that follows!
If you’re ready to grow or need some help with pruning, we’d love to be there for ya!