Aging Well Partners
- Jul 27
- 3 min
BIG BREATH, STEP BACK
I was admiring my thriving backyard today, and it struck me that sometimes we need to back off and just breathe.
I had literally spent years trying to get a very old Bougainvillea back to its former blooming glory. My neighbors Bougainvillea were stunning. They cascaded over my fence taunting me of their superior bloom. I watered, sunned, weeded, fed, and begged mine to grow and nothing. I just couldn’t face another time-consuming Spring and Summer trying to coax it to grow and flourish.
HAD TO GO
One day in February out of sheer disgust I cut it down. Took out my giant shears and hacked-off its limbs until it was just a stump. Then proceeded to try and dig up that 30-year-old stump. I used a saw at one point because the earth was so hard, and I couldn’t get a shovel into the ground. I just wanted it gone from my yard. I was determined to replant a new one, start over. Stop living in the past. Stop wasting my time trying to save a hopeless plant. It was ugly, dead and had to go.
However, after a few days of futile attempts to dig it out, I gave up and decided to call someone to get rid of that ugly stump. It figures it was a pain to evict it from my yard as well. Now it was just an ugly stump leaning against my fence. Great. I soon forgot about that ugly old stump, and never did call anyone to finish digging it up.
Two months later I had purchased a beautiful new bougainvillea. I headed out to the yard to plant it and was astounded by what I saw. That decades old Bougainvillea was growing back. Growing back super healthy, I might add. The leaves were perfect, and it was coming out of that dead stump! How? I had mostly cut it in half.
Seems that’s what it needed. I had left it alone. I ignored it. I forgot about it, and then it just took off. Turns out taking a step-back was what was required. I had taken a breath and turned my attention to something else, and the problem worked itself out; or really, I got out of the way of nature working it out. I learned a good lesson that day. Some plants need a lot of attention, and some don’t, and when you fixate on a problem too long, you just get frustrated and tired with zero resolution.
I took that excellent gardening lesson and recently applied it to my work-life. My clients arrive on my doorstep often at the end of their life and have big problems that need to be solved. Sometimes it’s a really challenging problem. Disease and end of life can be tricky, filled with obstacles and resistance, especially resistance of being over-managed by their loved ones’ good intentions and love.
So now when a family member is upset and trying to over-manage their loved-one’s journey, be it normal aging or navigating the end of life; I say step back, take a breath, I’ve got this. Like nature solved my Bougainvillea problem, I try to lighten their burden. Sometimes the right solution is to give your problems to someone else to work on. Time is a great healer that often resolves challenges and presents new perspectives. Often, we try too hard to fix a dilemma when the solution is just to take a step-back and breathe. So, take a breath, and see if there isn’t someone there ready to help solve your predicament that you’re not letting in.
Five months after “Bogee’s” (I figure that old plant deserved a name) haircut, his beautiful green healthy limbs are about three feet long, with the most beautiful magenta blooms. We’re old friends now. I leave him alone and he thrives just beautifully.
Here’s to Aging Well and Taking a Breath today!
Jacqui Clark is a Certified Senior Advisor™ (CSA™), consultant with Living Coastal Senior Resources, and co-founder of Aging Well Partners. She is an industry leading living-and-aging well expert, and a respected communications specialist. She’s lived in San Diego for 35 years, much of that in Carlsbad where she and her husband live with their two daughters. Find Jacqui at www.agingwellpartners.com