Sunday, January 1, 2012


I have this plant. It is called a Kalanchoe and it is popular around this time of year. You can find them abundantly before the Christmas holidays, much like Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus. They are popular because they are a succulent and hard to kill. Their thick leaves and sturdy stalks give them a hardiness that is difficult to best for those of us who struggle to keep house plants alive, much less thriving. In that respect, I love the Kalanchoe.

It is its hardiness, however, that can also make it the most awkward and unsightly plant known to man. It will branch out tenaciously to reach whatever sunlight needs it has. It will forgo the lovely bushiness it started with and drop leaves at an alarming rate to meet its needs for moisture. In short, it can become a gangly mess, as seen here:

I recently tried to kill cut back my Kalanchoe... I pruned it back "aggressively" with the very real possibility that I might just kill the darned thing. It is hard to find any kind of firm advice on how to prune, care for and make happy this little plant, and so I guessed. I figured it will either come back with new leaves and flourish or the sad little plant, now just stalks without leaves, will wither and die. I was ready for either because I was sick of seeing the strung out naked stalks with their sad leaves adorning the ends. The plant would put out flower shoots, but they too looked sad and forlorn in such desolate surroundings.

Recently, while dutifully watering the naked sticks in their little pot, I was reminded of my own sad state of affairs. I reviled this little plant because it was all strung out there, bearing flowers that reminded me that once upon a time it was much more pleasing to the eye. Back when it wasn't so strung out and searching it had a pleasing look. It was fuller, easier to enjoy and the flowers didn't look out of place. I likened this succulent to my own life and didn't like what I was seeing.

Lately, things have gotten strung out. I have too many items I am trying to upkeep, stretching my life, my patience and my resources ever thinner. The leaves of abundance and health have fallen away. I am left with the strung out stalks of too much to do and never enough time to get it all done. I don't seem to be failing at any of my tasks, but I am not flourishing at any of them either. I am a slightly balder, unsightly, more frazzled image of my truer self. I produce fruit, but it seems a bit out of place - a flowering stalk amidst what seemed a dead enterprise.

It is time for a deep pruning of myself.

I don't relish this part of life for many obvious reasons. I know it must be done. There will be parts of me that will be pruned away, parts that will not revive. I mourn that process. I like my life as it is, I really do... Or do I? Is it simply fear that keeps me doing the same things over and over? Is it the old adage, "Better the Devil you know, than the one you don't?" Will I shy away from the pruning of myself in order to stave off the fear of being exactly who God created me to be? I hope not... I better not!

I am pruning back some things in my life. I will streamline my blogging so that it is a manageable thing, not something I dread and have a hard time up-keeping. I want my writing to get back to a joyful process, one that grows me, feeds me and produces the fruit that I was always meant to put forth. This means that I have to say Good-Bye to some things I have grown accustomed to. I may disappoint some folks. I may lose some readers. Hopefully, I will gain some others.

I will prune back the busyness of my life to allow time for those things that God is demanding I pay attention to. I have been putting off the "real writing" because the studio is not up and running as I would have it be. That is an excuse. It is a place for me to hide from the possibility that I might fail - or even that I might succeed. I will get up earlier, stay up later, do whatever it takes to make my writing come first. I have hidden this talent under a basket too long, and I will set it upon a lamp stand starting now.

I am not one for resolutions. I think they give me too much time to think and an excuse not to do... Some make great strides with their resolutions. I applaud them. I don't. So, as a fellow writer and blogger has advised, I will simply start with resolve. I will cultivate my resolve into a more fruitful and pleasing result by pruning back the things that are getting in my way.

It's a little comical... I am sitting in my studio now, 33 degree weather blowing a wind-chilled 18 degree feel outside. I am huddled up with an infrared heater at my icy feet (my knees are warm, as is most of the rest of me), but I am here. The tools to finish the job surround me still, the smell of lumber behind my chair is still somewhat comforting. The 200 feet of electrical cord strung over the snow makes me smirk a little. I got blankets from some special friends during the Christmas holiday to do exactly what I am doing right now - Sit out here in my happiest of places and start creating the life I was meant to have all along.

I am inspired to become the pruned instrument, streamlined and ready for battle. A battle largely of my own making, but still... I know I am my worst enemy when it comes to scheduling too much and saying yes too often. But there is always room for resolve - resolve and some pruning.

Look! I think I see some new growth on the way...