Pruning is Uncomfortable But Necessary     


IMG_1372“It’s that time of year, Lou,” I said as I put on his leash. Louie looked at me with those big brown eyes and his brows furrowed. And then he looked at the furminator in my hand and started walking in the opposite direction, as though that would change my mind about dealing with his shedding. “Better outside than on my wood floor. Let’s go!”

Outside we went, and I started to brush. Louie’s not fond of the furminator but it is a great little tool. The design of the edge allows the tool to push through the topcoat and remove the undercoat and loose hair without cutting or damaging Lou’s skin. Yet no matter how gentle I am, he often tries to reach around and “deter” me.

His shedding seems particularly bad this spring. I comb him every day and still get gobs of hair. But it is a necessary practice and while I know he feels better with less hair, this form of “pruning” is not his favorite activity.

I understand that! It pains me to look at my beautiful flower garden and see the various colors popping up and bursting with life, knowing I will need to prune them back soon. I’ve tested the pruning method in my own garden and while it seems strange to pluck away flowers, the process gets rid of unhealthy portions of the plant and allows for more robust growth. My flower garden is always beautiful mid summer so it is well worth the pain of pruning and the patience it takes to see the results.

As Louie and I wind down season two of our blog, we’ve had to take a look at pruning some things out of our lives as well. Sometimes that involves relationships that have grown stagnant or unhealthy.

By now you know my heart and my business are all about relationships. To be successful, one must cultivate healthy and genuine relationships. It is difficult but wise to recognize when it is time to prune relationships:

  • Release people who are negative. Beware of those who continually gossip. They will drag you down and drain the energy from the relationship.
  • Be a good steward of your time spent with others. There are only so many hours in a day, and we only have so much energy. Think about who brings you joy? With whom can you invest time that will result in growth? Who might you need to serve?
  • Recognize one-sided relationships and let them go. While I am all about serving others, there are people who take advantage of you or your sphere of influence. Be discerning about relationships like this that may need pruning.
  • Cultivate your relationship with God. In fact, start there and the difficult process of pruning other relationships can be done with grace and wisdom. You don’t know what a relationship with God could even begin to look like? Ask me! That’s a discussion that is well worth our time.

While it is not easy to prune relationships, it is sometimes necessary for you and for them to experience greater growth. Lou’s shedding is winding down and he still hates the furminator but he is getting better about that process.

To celebrate Louie’s ability to be “pruned,” we are taking the summer off from blogging to focus on relationships, other writing projects, two adorable grandbabies, family and my clients with whom I truly enjoy spending time (sorry, you folks are NOT on my pruning list 🙂 )!

We’ll see you in the Fall, and we hope you enjoy some relaxing time with genuine, healthy relationships!

Lou is planning to hang out with his alpha pups and his friends this summer. Here he is with his buddy Mick.

They have the entire back yard to run around in this summer, those little boys!

The Boys

Sunrise, Sunset

Puppy Louie
What Louie probably looked like as a baby!

Louie is all boy and still very much a puppy, and sometimes that’s exasperating! I try to burn off some of his energy by taking long walks, visiting dog parks, and having him run around the backyard with his buddy, Mick. But even in the middle of a nap, if Evi and Mea show up at the door, he exudes tons of energy and delivers overly excited sloppy kisses.

Recently while on a walk, Lou stopped to burrow his nose in the ground, hoping to find the mole he knew was near by. I waited, watched and finally gave him a tug to resume walking but he stubbornly refused and kept digging. Finally he jumped up, waged his tail and ran off to find another molehill, pulling me along. I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath, “When is this dog going to grow up and get out of this puppy stage?”

I immediately gasped. There it was! The tendency to hurry up life. Or more specifically, my tendency to want to hurry Louie’s maturity. Yet I know Lou is quickly approaching adolescence and though it may seem like years away, he will be a senior dog before I know it. We kept walking, Louie by my side with his usual upbeat prance, bright eyes and tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, oblivious to my thoughts of him passing through life so quickly.

Why do we try to speed up our lives? I remember cradling Marisa for her early morning feedings when she was a baby. I would look out my bedroom window as the neighborhood children waited for the school bus. Weary from sleeplessness, I thought to myself, “She will never get to that age. I will always be rocking this baby, feeding her, changing her diapers.” And now I stare into the eyes of her children and wonder where time went. Many times while talking to my six-year-old granddaughter, if I just blink, I swear I am talking to my six-year-old daughter.

Though my father has been gone for 30 years, I have fond memories of him singing. He was a fabulous singer, although he kept his day job of being a Cincinnati Police Officer. He used to sing a song from Fiddler on the Roof titled Sunrise, Sunset. A few of the words were:

Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older, when did they?

When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset,

Swiftly flow the days.

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,

Blossoming even as we gaze.

Sunrise, sunset,

Swiftly fly the years,

One season following another,

Laden with happiness and tears.

As my career became increasingly more demanding, I struggled to keep my focus centered on raising Marisa. Life was at a frantic pace then and my mom would always say, “Danise, you need to stop and smell the roses.” I could never understand why anyone would ever want to stop anything much less stop to smell roses. But she was right. Life was flying by and not just mine but my child’s, my family’s and my friend’s.

I did eventually listen to my mom and was very intentional about not rushing through life. I’ve learned to stop, breath, and enjoy the moments with my daughter, family, friends, and now of course, Louie. While each stage may be but a wisp, I also believe each stage gets better because of lessons learned and deepening relationships. With each sunrise and sunset, the years swiftly fly by. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears. I enjoyed every bit of Marisa’s life from the minute she was born. But the stage I am in right now with her is the best stage yet.

This is the season when parents watch their children graduate, get married or prepare for a life transition. It is also the time we reflect on where the time went. As for Louie, I cherish each crazy moment of life with him from digging through molehills, to getting excited to see his alpha pups to whining as we walk down the street because his friends, or anyone else for that matter, are out to see him. I know it will be all too soon that I will be carrying him up and down the steps as I did Cece, Bree and Buffy. I know before long I will be watching my grandchildren walk the aisle to receive their diplomas. I know soon I will be saying final farewells to friends at a quicker rate than when I was younger.

For this reason, I pray you will always enjoy life to the fullest, even as you wonder where time has gone. For me, I am grateful for life and have no doubt that the best is yet to come!

Stop and smell the flowers, Lou!
Stop and smell the flowers, Lou!

To all the graduates this season-we wish you well

on your exciting journey!

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?

You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14