March has simply whooshed right by me. It feels like I was just sitting down to write my One Little Word update for February and here I am again! Thank you to Carolyn for hosting this monthly linkup. Having a check-in on a regular basis keeps this process alive for me and I’m endlessly thankful for that.
Mary shared an interesting quote earlier this month that stuck with me and shaped my March more than she could have known:
“When a Japanese gardener “prunes open,” Marsha explained, he or she cuts away not only dead branches and foliage, but also often a number of perfectly healthy branches that detract from the beauty inherent in the tree’s essential structure. Pruning open allows the visitor to see up, out, and beyond the trees to the sky, creating a sense of spaciousness and letting light into the garden. It also enables an individual tree to flourish by removing complicating elements, simplifying structure, and revealing its essence. The process of pruning open turns the tree inside out, so to speak, revealing the beautiful design inherent within it.” – Pruning Open The True Self
I began thinking about how this applies to my own life; all the things I love to do, yet still cause me so much distress because I feel like I don’t do enough. Is there something I could prune that would make room for a more simple and focused life? Where can I say, I surrender. It’s all too complicated.
Leading up to March, I’d been cramming in cross stitching, knitting, hand sewing, and quilting into the last few hours of each day, leaving almost no time for my greatest love: reading. I decided to try an experiment and pare down drastically. How would it feel if I focused on just knitting and reading in March?
Looking back at my notebook, I stayed pretty true to this goal. I sewed a knitting bag at one point, but I needed to satisfy my feelings around wanting a new bag. Other than that, I maintained my focus. I have to admit that it’s felt pretty satisfying to see my current knitting project and my stack of finished library books steadily grow.
Before I pruned some branches, it took a lot of mental energy to map out when I could squeeze in time for all of my different interests. I’d spend the whole day psyching myself up to spend time in the basement after 9:30pm. And when I’d be too exhausted to do much of anything at that point in the day, I’d be endlessly disappointed in myself despite knowing that my days are long and full and that rest is important, too.
With this little experiment, I know how I’m going to spend my time, which has given me a burst of energy. There’s no desperate feelings around not doing enough. And despite doing fewer types of activities, I’ve felt so much freer. Surrendering those expectations on myself has brought a renewed energy, a sharper focus, and a recognition of my ability to still be able to learn and grow, despite thinking otherwise.
I write a lot about learning to be okay with slowly completing things, taking my time, and enjoying the process. I still think that’s important, but it’s also important to acknowledge the satisfaction that comes from actually finishing things. Finding the balance between the two is necessary for my sanity.
I am always so inspired by Japanese wisdom and I’m looking forward to living the life of an Okinawan this summer, with plenty of time in my garden. Maybe I’ll find a few more things to prune that will help me create a more simple and beautiful structure for my day. Have you pruned anything to simplify your own life lately?