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  • Writer's pictureAlice Wyatt

got any weeds in your life?

A Beautiful Soul

Today I cut, sawed, yanked, and kicked a substantial prickly pear plant? Shrub? Behemoth? out of the ground and tossed it in the pick-up, to be hauled to the dump. Gasp! A living thing?! The icon of the southwest?! YEP!

Here are the reasons. That portion of the fence needs repairs, and it is impossible with a spiky-fingered monster looming over my shoulder. I have lots of prickly pear in my compound, so maybe familiarity breeds contempt? Mostly though, it has ceased to be beautiful. This summer it was viciously attacked by nasty little stink bugs with their sucking proboscises. Every pad is mottled with white blemishes, and many have begun to shrink and droop. It is UGLY!

I learned this cold-hearted plant attitude from my mother, an otherwise warm-hearted woman. She is an excellent gardener; her yard blooms riotously from early spring thru late fall. Once, I watched as she grabbed an underperforming Mum by its lackluster mop, yanking it right out of its clay pot. Roots dangled helplessly, dropping an earthen breadcrumb trail of horror across the patio until she flung it unceremoniously into the trash can. "There," she said, "that will teach you to sit there doing nothing!"

I am more tender with my plants, but I could see her point. Why expend time, money, and energy on something that is not doing its' one job, being beautiful? Many of us have deep, unproductive roots, things that are supposed to bring peace, joy, love, patience, compassion, self-control, humility, BEAUTY into our lives. If we take time to step back, evaluate what we spend time and energy on, we can see ugliness that needs to be yanked right out of our clay pot lives.

A friend and I recently hosted a storytelling event in our community. It was a lot of work, several months in the planning, with much knuckle-biting day of. We hoped our efforts would be well-received. It exceeded all expectations. Our hearts soared joyfully; an idea, planted and watered, had yielded beautiful fruit. My efforts were only possible because I had previously yanked several energy-sapping obligations out of my life—this left space for a heart-filling opportunity when it came along.

Right now, I am lounging in my outdoor tub, notepad perched on my knees, steaming cup of coffee at my right hand. The morning sun says it is about 10:00, and while the breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the chickens are fed, the prickly pear has been decimated, organizational texts have been sent. When my heart said, "How about a little tub and another cuppa joe?" there was no nagging voice calling me slothful, indulgent, or giving me a list of tedious ought-tos.

To give back to the world with kindness, creative energy, or general positive humanness, I need A LOT of downtime. I used to feel guilty about this, called myself lazy, tried to maximize each day with a list, make it as productive as possible. This was bad for everyone involved, especially me.

I realized I carefully put my plants where they will thrive. I fertilize and water based on their specific needs, yet here I was, trying to make myself grow and bloom based on what I see other people doing. How foolish.

Not everyone has the gift of an outdoor tub on a Monday morning, but we all have the gift - and the obligation - to weed out things that are diseased, ugly, or taking up way too much space in our lives. I ask the question, “What is my motivation for ______________?” If the answer is anything other than something bringing me pleasure or helping me grow, I figure out how to change it.

Here is my challenge to you based on my hard-learned life lessons. Don't wait. Life is precious. Life is fleeting. Deadhead negative influences. Yank out ugly habits. Stop - watering - dying - relationships. Create space and the right conditions for something to take root, grow and bloom. Be the gardener of your soul.

If you don't, watch out, my mother might be living right down the street from you!

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