Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Rid of the Dead Heads

I am not much of a gardener. . .In fact if the flowers I joyfully plant in the spring actually live to see (and be killed by) the first autumn frost, they're lucky. My husband calls me a plant murderer. I think that's harsh, since I don't willfully intend to kill, I just seem to lose interest after I plant, feed and water my lovelies for the first few weeks. 

This year, however, I discovered something I enjoyed about gardening, and that is getting rid of dead heads which you probably know are the flowers on a plant that have shriveled and died. Pinching off these dead blooms apparently stimulates new life to grow and sustains a healthy beautiful plant for a longer period (at least that's what my gardener friends tell me). Since my window box is right next to my back door, it was very convenient to pause for a moment as I entered or exited to pinch off a few dead heads. As a result, the petunias this year were especially prolific and beautiful. 

One day as I was seeking out dead heads that were ready to be removed, I began to make a comparison of my petunia plants to my life. It may seem like a stretch of an analogy, but stay with me. . .here's what I came up with: 

Sometimes what I once considered to be an appealing component of my life ceases to have that attractive appeal. If I don't pluck it from my routine, it can end up draining my energy, keeping me from flowering and enjoying life in a more beautiful way. 

A good example of this phenomena for me are various forms of exercise I have tried over the years. I have lost track of the fitness DVDS and their ancestors in the form of VHS 
tapes, that I have purchased and diligently worked out to as part of my daily routine. Eventually I lose interest and notice it's no longer fun. The disappearance of the fun factor for me usually means it is time to pluck this particular dead head from my life. Once I do that I am renewed and ready to put my attention to something else that feels better. 

I have also removed dead head relationships that no longer seemed to serve me or the other person in a positive way. Terminating or moving on from a relationship does not minimize the impact that it may have once had, it is simply recognizing that people, their schedules and their lives change so what once felt perfect, now feels strained. Since I only choose to be in relationships that I can be fully committed and engaged, I have a limit. Pinching off what no longer has life, creates space for more stimulating and enjoyable interactions, which is always life giving. 

If you can align with my gardening dead head analogy, I encourage you to evaluate your life. Notice where you put your attention and then ask yourself if it is enhancing your flower box of life, or simply using your energy with nothing beautiful to show for it.