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It's a Good Time to Prune

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

When we bought our house over 20 years ago, I hated it. I hated everything about it – the location, the size, the horrible lime green counter tops and scarred linoleum floor in the kitchen… In fact, 2 minutes after we walked in, I turned around and walked back out.

But my spouse could see it’s potential (and the fact that it was all we could afford!), so I reluctantly agreed to give it a chance. I walked back into our soon-to-be home, and desperately looked around for something – ANYTHING - to make me feel better about it.

I found it. There was a crooked old apple tree in the scrubby back yard.

I had always wanted an apple tree. This poor tree had been badly neglected and had grown nearly sideways, but still, it was an apple tree!

Over the years we babied that tree. Careful staking, fertilizer and watering gave it new life. It grew straighter and taller, and some years we had more apples than we could possibly use! Apple sauce, apple butter, apple juice… we made them all.

Two summers ago, a terrible windstorm broke a large branch off the tree. After cleaning up what we could by ourselves, we called the arborists to properly prune other stress points needing attention.

Our poor tree looked like she’d gotten a bad haircut, but soon was covered in glorious blossoms, and we had the most amazing apple crop ever!

I was full of big expectations for this summer. And…. a third of the tree died. Just like that – branches that were loaded with apples last fall were barren and leafless this spring.

I nearly cried as I climbed the ladder with the chainsaw and cut away the dead parts of our beautiful apple tree. Was she finally giving up after so many years?

Amazingly, only a week later a ton of new growth occurred! The remaining branches are taller and fuller, and new branches have sprouted from the trunk where the dead stuff was cut away.

There is a lesson here.

The tree had to use tremendous energy to hold onto those dead branches. They pulled on the tree every time the wind blew, and prevented the tree from growing as it could.

By cutting off what it didn’t need anymore, the tree could heal, and grow in different ways.

We are a lot like trees.

When we are nurtured and taken care of, even if we didn’t have the best start, we can thrive and grow. But everything we accumulate along the way isn’t always useful anymore.

There comes a time when we need to shed the dead weight holding us back.

We need to recognize:

  • When old habits, beliefs, relationships, and even successes prevent us from growing in different directions.

  • When we hold onto something that doesn’t serve us anymore, it uses up our energy and strength. It keeps us from opportunities that could be ours if we would just let go.

  • Everything ends at some point. Let things flourish in their time, and gracefully let go when that time has ended.

This year we have all been forced to look at our lives differently – at our relationships, our goals, and our ambitions.

Ask yourself:

  • Where are the dead branches that suck up my energy?

  • What am I holding onto that doesn’t work for me anymore?

  • What can I get rid of that is holding me back?

A wise old gardener was once asked when he knew it was the right time to prune. He answered, “Anytime you have a sharp knife.”

It’s a good time for all of us to do some pruning.

*Authentic content written by Kimberly Lyall, Lighting up Leaders

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