Every spring I buy pansies in a pot. I love them, not only because they look like little faces but they were my grandma’s favorite flower (and they have the added benefit of being able to resist the frost.) I especially love the purple and yellow ones. To me, they represent the beginning of spring even though we probably have weeks of coldness to go. I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame, compelled to buy some regardless of what I am supposed to be picking up at the food store.
They are just so cheerful.
If you can relate to this obsession to rush into spring with the buying of flowers, then you may be familiar with the task of deadheading. If not, then it probably sounds sketchy.
Deadheading is what you do to keep your flowers looking beautiful all summer long. It’s basically just pinching off the dead or wilting flowers, cutting off the “dead heads.” (clever, right?) By doing this, the plant will actually produce new flowers pretty much right away. It’s the only way to extend the life and growth of the flowers. No amount of watering or sun will do the same thing.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
What if we approached areas of our lives like pansies, like flowers that had been beautiful and made things great but were now ready to be done and make room for new flowers? Instead, we hold on to past accomplishments or situations like they need to still be the best things for us. Watering them and coaxing them to stay the same, all the while missing out on the beautiful potential that could come to fruition if we just could cut it off and move on.
We don’t have to try and recreate that exact thing. Maybe when you were 20 you did step aerobics, when you were 30 you did zumba. What if now the idea of step aerobics or zumba is just unattractive? What if you actually want to try trail running or yoga? Don’t keep adding water and sun to a flower that is past it’s life span. Allow new growth to form.
We don’t have to hate what came before to want something new or different.
We don’t have to beat ourselves up that we wasted time or should have done it this way sooner. The past could be perfect the way it was, just like the first round of flowers were perfect. The next round can be perfect too.
So what might this actually look like?
For me, it included what I want my job to look like. I have worked very hard for the first round of flowers, getting my BSN and my nursing jobs. Then the next round of flowers brought grad school and getting my NP, a natural and expected second manifestation of the same plant. Throughout these were the seasons of being a young mom, moving to a new town, raising my kids, running a half-marathon, trying pottery.
There were plenty of kind of wilty, painful, dying flower seasons too. The seasons of losing friendships, kids’ sport injuries and long recoveries, corporate restructurings, health struggles. The seasons where previous systems and routines became outdated and simply not useful
But instead of resenting the plant, or thinking that something has gone drastically wrong, I have found great comfort in deciding it’s TOTALLY FINE TO JUST MOVE FORWARD.
After all, this next flowering can be equally amazing. All the previous work the plant has done has set it up perfectly for the next thing. The plant will die if you don’t let it grow and change the way it was meant to. Pinch off the dead flowers and don’t be mad about it. And stop trying to fix a dying flower with extra love or attention. Put the love and attention into growth and change and the plant will be just fine.
It’s like the saying goes, “stop looking back, you’re not going that way.”
And maybe buy a pansy to remind you.
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