Pruning Your Ideas

On Saturday, the tree people arrived. Their job was to trim my two 30-ft. tall Palo Verde trees. The trees recover fast from pruning, and the last time the job was done wrong. The trees were overgrown and dangerous.

Palo Verdes before trimming.

Palo Verdes before trimming.

Here in Phoenix, we build our houses close together. My neighbor’s house is about 16 feet from mine, wall to wall. That means we share the trees, even though they are on my property. He gets shade, he can see the blossoms, and he gets the seed pods, tiny leaf dust and the things that look like pine needles. Sometimes he dumps the stuff in my yard. He’s very tidy.

I’m less concerned with the trees’ untidy habits than I am with the chance that a Monsoon storm would knock a branch off and crash into the neighbor’s roof–or mine. I loved the shade, but it was time to trim the trees.

The crew showed up and three hours later, the trees were shaped, thinned, and a lot smaller. My chimney was free of branches. My solar panel is now in the direct sun, and yes, the house is hotter.

After pruning.

After pruning. The chimney and solar panel is suddenly visible.

The noise during the trimming was loud. Several crashes as tree branches fell. The constant noise of the chipper. But then it was done. The trees have plenty of branches left and they will fill in again. This time a bit more evenly.

All that pruning makes for a healthier tree. Works the same with your ideas, too. Or your business plan. Overloaded with ideas, work, and plans, we aren’t efficient. A big wind of change could cause some damage.

Every now and then it’s smart to prune–your possessions, your plans, your work, your diet. It doesn’t damage you. It helps keep what is important to healthy growth.

We can get attached to a lot of possessions and comfortable with a lot of ideas. Taking a look at what we really need to thrive can help us be more careful of how we grow. And keep us from breaking during the storms of change.

—Quinn McDonald has just pruned her work list considerably. And planted some new ideas.



12 thoughts on “Pruning Your Ideas

  1. This really resonates for me. I have a tendency to hoard and sentimentalize things, especially gifts. But there is another part of me that loves shedding possessions. I am getting better at getting rid of clothing and other things as I get older. It doesn’t hurt that I have been moving a few times a year, sometimes between different countries. Moving between countries has really opened my eyes to what people need and what people think they need to be comfortable.

    (The hard thing is when you are attached to someone cause they are a “thing” you really want to bring with you but there may not be a way or a place to put them yet.)

    As for ideas, I get really excited about a lot of my ideas. But the really good ones tend to stay in my mind as the others ones just fade away.

  2. Aaargh, I so need to de-clutter and prune my ideas. I know it’s one of my weaknesses, but I find it so hard, I have always been into soooo many different things, I love them all. I am feeling good (and slightly nervous) about admitting this in public. But that’s always the first step in recovery isn’t it….admitting it?! Now where is that (those?!) list(s)…

  3. I’ve always been attracted by the idea of having a streamlined life. To be always ready to charge off into the next adventure without having to clear anything away or pack any thing up, whether physical or metaphorical. It’s a dream I’m working towards however that doesn’t include the contents of my ‘studio stash’ just yet. When I know whetehr I was to specialise in anything I can clear out but in the meantime . . . I’ll just work on pruning everything else and it will be noisy and uncomfortable while I do it but then the light will flood in!

  4. I have been downsizing for the past year……house, garage and studio space. It is slow going and I finally had to tell myself that the stuff came over the years so leaving in a short period of time is probably asking too much! However, one box of seed beads worth hundreds of dollars and some projects that I had been working on……have disappeared and I mourn their loss daily…..and maybe I need to think about it as pruning the “beads”……as I still have a few vials left……and maybe the beads that come in their place over time will fill in the space that sits empty now……thanks for the thoughts.

  5. Using the phrase “to prune”, or simply “pruning” gives me a smile of an invitation to continue with what I have been calling “de-cluttering” process in every place in my home, particularly the studio. To prune, just like what my daughter does for me in my yard to create beautiful forms of the huge lilacs that provide a quite place for a bench where I can sit and read or write or sketch…pruning, yes indeed, that is what my studio needs to have done when the gardens are put to rest…I so appreciate this perspective on a process that can, for sure, get tedious and be put off “for a while”. Thanks. Kristin

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