But it's so cold, the thought of going outside literally sends shivers up my spine. The plants are dormant right now, the earth is resting and it is a time for going within. While you can't see it, the plants are taking advantage of this down time to do some internal growth of their own. Roots are stretching deep into the soil, taking advantage of the extra moisture and nutrients all the rain has brought to them, surrounding them and bathing them in a rich brine of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, essential building blocks for healthy plants.
When plants go dormant, all the sugars and nutrients stored in the leaves and the stems goes back to the roots to support this burst of growth that is occurring in the depths of the dark soil during these winter months.
This is the perfect time to prune your plants. By cutting back all the extra growth that was put out during the warm months, you actually benefit your plants in many ways.
When you cut off stems and branches, you trigger the release of hormones in the plant's growing points which allow it to branch out, grow stronger, fuller and more healthy and robust. You can also use pruning to help guide and shape your plants into more beneficial growth patterns, opening them up to extra sunshine and air circulation. Maybe a wayward stem grew off to the an awkward angle, away from the main body of the plant. You can take this opportunity to remove it and shape your plant into a more cohesive balanced structure.
By removing dead, diseased or broken stems, you give the plant a healthy starting point to grow from when it starts unfurling new growth in the early spring.
Humans are so much like plants in this manner. The winter months are the perfect time to prune out what is no longer working in your life. As you clear old beliefs, old patterns, habits, and thoughts, you clear the old branches that no longer serve you as your reach for a healthy new beginning.
This is the perfect time to clear closets, kitchen cabinets, and hidden dark corners under the stairs and bathroom sinks. I know how scary it is to begin pruning. You need the right tools for the job, and you need courage and faith to begin making those cuts. Sometimes it seems so extreme, maybe too extreme and you want to stop. What on earth am I doing? You decide to leave a branch untouched, uncertain whether that branch will actually benefit the plant with a flower, uncertain whether that beautiful outfit you spent hundreds of dollars on will actually be something you'll want to wear this year.
If you're unclear, don't touch it. Only when you can cut with certainty and confidence should you remove the branch, or donate that dress. If there are twinges of fear, there's a reason why you're holding onto it, and it needs to have a little more exploration and thought before you make that cut.
But more forward in faith. Just as cutting back your roses encourages a burst of new blooms in the springtime, so too does clearing our your closets have a beneficial effect on your growth as a human. You can't bring in more if you have no place to put it. You can't be open to the new if you're surrounded by the old and broken, fearful that if you let it go, nothing will take it's place and there will be an empty hole. But that's the point.
You want to create the empty hole so you can be filled with new growth! Just like with roses, fruit trees and perennials, if you don't clear out old growth and cut back, you cannot create room for bigger and healthier fruits and flowers.
So take heart, have courage and faith, and pick up those pruners. Make one or two gentle cuts a day. Step back and look at your work, and as you gain confidence, move forward, knowing you're helping your spirit to grow stronger, healthier and bloom vigorously! And if it doesn't feel right, trust it and put it aside. Wait to make that cut until you understand what the message is. Your body, just like the plant, will always tell you. You just have to be patient and notice.
When you have cut away all you can, your life, just like a pruned rose bush, may look stark and bleak. But without doubt, new growth will emerge, and it will surprise you with how quickly those empty spaces fill in.