Clearing Out the Underbrush
My bright pink polish is not effectively camouflaging the traces of soil wedged at the base of my nails. I can still see the dark thin lines of dirt through its light coating. After a whole weekend of rescuing tired flower beds from disgrace, this brown residue will probably be tattooed on my nail beds for the next week, accompanied by a stiff elbow and thin, red scratches on my forearms from unruly forsythia. Just like the embroidered badges on my old Girl Scout sash, I will proudly display all of this valuable evidence as a reminder of my successful gardening work.
Every spring I religiously scour each flower bed on our property and paw away at the leftover underbrush from the long winter. Dead branches, crumpled brown leaves, and a new crop of light-green, sneaky weeds are all in the path of my hungry gardening gloves. Stooped over with my head very close to the ground, I carefully inspect each square inch below me. In order to prepare for a new season, I must clear everything in my path until I see the bare, smooth ground. In turn, there will be room for a new season of beauty and growth.
This year while fully engaged in my outside ritual, I started to think about how valuable it could be to untangle our lives overall. Daily living can get hectic, complicated, and prone to accumulating a lot of unnecessary “stuff”.
For example, my physical space, mainly my closet, requires an annual purging after the school year. I know I should get rid of shoes and clothes that did not make an appearance during the previous year and donate them to a nearby charity drop-box. Recycling at its best! My kitchen cabinets clamor for a search and seizure of unused, expired food items which are usually hidden in the back shelves. Throwing them out before my adult children discover them eliminates fodder for their usual jokes and clears space for usable products.
In addition, relationships warrant updates from time to time too in order to stay healthy. As we mature and get wiser, we should consider letting go of some of our former, immature ways, and refocus on the really important aspects. The dried-out layers of our personal interactions would benefit from an exfoliation and a subsequent fertilization of the roots, from which it all began, would strengthen our bonds. Sadly, sometimes relationships end, whether by choice or bad luck, and that leaves us to sift through the fallout for worthwhile memories to store away as we heal. These treasures remain deep in our hearts.
Our effectiveness in personal communication also deserves a second look. Conversations with sub-texts and hidden meanings can be cumbersome and exhausting. Why not try using my husband’s favorite line, “So, what’s your point?” This simple phrase stops the drama before the next act and prevents the speaker from babbling and getting nowhere and the listener from getting frustrated. (I think that he should consider putting his mantra on his tombstone.)
It is not unusual for work to lose clarity, especially when our tenure is extensive. By taking a moment to re-evaluate our skills and objectives, we can possibly reduce the risk of burn out and apathy. Maybe we will even discover that we need to make a total landscape adjustment in order to breathe life into our career again.
The mind. Now there is a real jungle! I recently read an interesting article about dreams. I have always had vivid dreams and I often wondered why mine were so detailed. You know, we all have those reoccurring frustrating nocturnal moments. Many people experience the frustration of a forgotten high school locker combination or the embarrassment of not being fully dressed for work. But my repeated vision of exiting at the wrong subway stop in the city of Madrid Spain, where I spent my junior year in college, leaves me exhausted and confused in the morning. I am continuously facing the gushing fountains in the Plaza de Ciebeles while trying to get to the university and I can’t seem to find my way.
According to Rosalind Cartwright, author of “The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives” dreams are a way of “getting rid of the garbage you carried with you”. Our own bodies have their own natural way to clear out the underbrush! The brain reorganizes the stressors by connecting them to previous experiences and attempts to purge them in dreams. Hmm-mm…this process is like a natural “weed whacker”… how fantastic! A good night’s sleep, an effective brain, and an assortment of activities might just clear away some of that mental mishmash.
But the most important focus I think is the “me” factor. Are you doing what makes you happy? What puts that skip in your step and makes your heart feel like it has butterfly wings? If you notice that this sensation has dulled, try and awaken it. Find a quiet spot without anyone around and ask yourself out loud, “What do I want? What makes me happy?” And then, here comes the real challenge, try and figure out a way to get it. It is not selfish. It is an important step to clear away the vines and brambles that can prevent you from being your best.
I know this may sound simplistic and maybe even far-fetched. But in reality, life can be quite simple if we let it. If we take the time to clear away some of the excess clutter and unnecessary distractions, we have a better and clearer path for our journey. We will have more time to focus on personal enjoyment and spend less energy trying to make detours around our own roadblocks.
So put on your gardening gloves, grab a rake and start clearing out your underbrush. There are many places to start. Throw away the muck! Keep your life fresh and start a new season of beautiful living.