The Lesson of the Iris
Recognizing the tall-tell sign, more green leaves than flowers, I knew it was time to dig in so that next year my irises would bloom more abundantly. As I began the tedious task, I lamented perhaps the landscaper was right, they are a lot of work for seemingly little return. The flowers last only a few days, need daily pruning when they are in bloom and periodic when not, and succumb to overcrowding, requiring annual attention to thin them out and transplant them; the very task I was undertaking.
In a nutshell, they require regular attention and routine maintenance for the yield of a simple flower.
So as I dug and pruned and separated the rhizomes, one at a time, one after another, I did question their value for it would be so much easier to simply dig them up and throw them away, replacing them with plants that flower all season and require much less attention and maintenance. The task seemed never ending, yet the progress was clear and that in and of itself was reason to keep going. Soon, the task was complete, landing me at that decision making point, to replant or replace.
Had I acted on impulse then, I would have chosen to replace. Muscles aching, sweat beading off my brow and the huge task of replanting them ahead were all saying “too much work”, and reminding me of my intention to have more simplicity in life. A glass of water, a nice stretch and a respite from the labor, created doubt that such was the best answer and harkened me back to the reason I had planted them to begin with, the flower. To me, a work of art. Short-lived, yes, but for those few days, beauty.
Remembering the power of both/and, I chose a compromise and planted the bed with a combination of flowering, maintenance free plants, and irises, this time giving them plenty of room and sunshine to realize their full potential of color and blooms, even if only for a few days a year and only if I attend to them. Yes, simplicity is valuable and so is regular attention and routine maintenance. I am striving for the two in harmony.
The truth is I had neglected my irises, thus, the overcrowding that resulted in the diminished blooming. Too much to do? Perhaps. Too much work? Maybe. Benign neglect? Possible. Rationalization that one more year won’t matter? Very possible.
The other truth is that had I chosen not to dig in and allow one more year to go by, the irises would have kept growing, becoming even more crowded, yet in their hardiness they would have produced a few flowers next year, and probably for many years thereafter.
A metaphor for my life and the lives of many in our western culture. We just keep on keeping on, doing what we do and then some, and in spite of the overcrowding we will still produce our own flowers, and say, life is good. And it is. Is it all it can be? Probably not, yet it may be enough. Only when we are ready and the return on investment seems worth it, will we choose to dig in.
Further contemplation led me to look into the symbolism of the iris. Personally, the iris is a reminder of both my mother and grandmother for it was in their gardens that I became an admirer of the flower, and in their homes, the symbol of the fleur-de-lis, a derivative of the iris, was frequently seen. In Greek, iris means rainbow, and in Greek mythology, the goddess Iris wearing her coat of many colors brought messages from heaven to earth by the arc of the rainbow. And then there is the connection to the iris of the eye, the colored disk that is as unique as our fingerprint. Awww, my fondness grows.
It is no longer simply a flower to me, and perhaps it hasn’t been all along, yet unaware why to my conscious mind. Yes, the iris requires regular attention and routine maintenance for its full brilliance to be revealed in the spring of each year. So does the seed of divine potential within you, within me, within all of us. Visualize a field of irises in their rainbow of colors in full bloom. Visualize a field of human beings, in their rainbow of colors with their divine brilliance awakened living extra ordinary lives. Possible, absolutely. Just takes a willingness to dig in and some regular attention and routine maintenance.
If you are feeling and realizing signs of being overcrowded, overwhelmed, dig in, thin out, and remove what’s no longer working or needed. Give room for your potential to flower.
What areas of your life could benefit from some regular attention and routine maintenance?
About Extra Ordinary Living
Janet began her coaching journey in January of 2004, leaving behind a satisfying career as a healthcare executive. Working first under the company name, Tiberius Enterprises, in January of 2007, Janet adopted the company name, Extra Ordinary Living, symbolizing her desire to work with people who defy the law of average and want to live extraordinary lives, consistently adding the extra to the ordinary. Her by-line embracing sustainable change is reflective of two intentions. First is to have the changes a client makes have long term positive implications. Second is to live a life that respects the importance of sustaining our planet’s lives for generations to follow.
As an Executive Coach, Janet’s intention is to assist service professionals and organizations to maximize their return on human capital….managing human behaviors for optimal outcomes. Janet has repeatedly found that an individual’s professional and personal satisfaction and happiness is often limited by their very own “human capital.” She loves working with people to identify and own their natural tendencies, abilities and talents; to recognize their limitations, and apply all in creating the life they have historically only dreamed about. As a professional coach, Janet is trained to listen, to observe and to customize her approach to match her client’s needs. She provides tools, support, structure and accountability to help her clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.
Having a coach herself for over four years, Janet has found the best thing about coaching is that it is all about you, the client, and what you want. A coach may share her opinion, and give you advice; however, it is all up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. A coach suspends judgment, and supports you in your decisions.
With the coaching philosophy as her foundation, Janet is also an inspirational Professional Speaker. She has spoken at local, state and national conferences, providing the plenary session as well as more structured workshops. Her goal is to impart useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to assist her audiences in living extra ordinary lives. Janet always customizes her content to match her audience.
Interested in learning more? Please contact Janet by phone at 540-342-3040, email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website, www.4extraordinaryliving.com.
Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach
Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.
"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens!"
– Carl Jung
"Earth laughs in flowers."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light."
– Theodore Roethke
Sustainable Living Tip: No Topping
It is the season for pruning trees and bushes…one of my favorite things to do. I just wish I had a bucket truck to reach the high branches. Maybe I will put it on my bucket list…
Pruning is good for the tree, creating opportunities for growth and maturation, if you do it right. I won’t profess to be a tree expert, but have picked up a few tips along the way and as much as I have learned what to do, I have learned what no to do…
NO TOPPING. Too frequently, people take the easy way out and simply top the tree, much like they do a hedge. This actually makes the tree weaker as it grows back, thus more susceptible to disease and insects, and more likely to fall in harsh storms. Furthermore, trees that have been topped can actually decrease property value because of the liability factors.
So please, no topping (only on ice cream) and check out the websites www.tree-pruning.com or www.treesvirginia.org for more information about how to do it the right way, remembering healthy trees increase property value and are good for the environment. A simple way to contribute to the sustainability of our earthly home.
Extra Ordinary Living Updates
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