I'm indebted to Cheryl Richardson for this post. It's so poignant that I couldn't resist linking to it. In her newsletter this week she talks about pruning her trees and how it's a great metaphor for what's going on in her life.
To summarize the three stages to pruning that she talks about:
1) Cut out dead branches
2) Focus on the interior of the tree and remove cross branches (alive but growing sideways)
3) Remove branches that would improve the look of the tree.
What's left in your life that you no longer need (the dead branches). This goes along with yesterday's post about the changes made when you relax and allow the transformation to take place inside of you. Sitting back or getting ready to sit back (perhaps you're waiting til Winter) and re-examining your life and what beliefs, ideas, activities, or anything else there is for you to eliminate from your life. Identifying which branches you want to clear is the first step. You can't just go on a rampage and just cut branches in a willy nilly manner (you could but that would not be constructive). So take some time to figure out what is no longer useful in your life. Maybe it's something you've held on to for many years but it's serving no purpose any more.
Where are your cross branches? These branches are alive but they are interfering with your growth. Sometimes I think we want to have those branches because they are alive and when looked at individually they are "pretty" but they keep us from moving forward. If possible you want to make forward movement, not sideways (although sideways is better than no ways).
And the last step is to get rid of those branches that are alive but are not necessarily adding to the support of your tree and may actually be weighing you down from achieving your real goals.