The Power of Preservation and Pruning
There's a unique grapevine in Santorini, Greece producing some of the oldest grapes and most expensive wines. This vine spends cool, moist evenings soaking up as much moisture as it can to prepare for the next day's scorching.
The hot, dry days, impoverished soil, harsh winds, and ocean saltwater contribute to the adversity this grape will face throughout its 15-year development stage. It is not through sheer luck these grapes have survived.
The grapevines in Santorini naturally hug the earth, doing their best to protect themselves from the harsh elements. Harvesters also prune the vines to form a circular basket structure similar to a wreath. A style of growing known as a kouloura.
The result of careful pruning and instinctual preservation provides a refuge inside the wreath protected from the elements for the grapes to flourish. This masterful combination is proven effective when considering the length of time grapes need to grow to reach their maturity.
Personal Preservation Journey
The Santorini grape vines have become an icon for me in my own life.
The harsh elements I have faced over the years are varied. As a people pleaser, disapproval can often feel like the sting of salt water in a deep wound. While hiking the Grand Canyon last year as a family, I felt the weight of defeat under the dry, hot sun. That hike challenged every physical, mental, and emotional barrier in me. Professional and personal life experiences have felt the same.
Sometimes, I feel bombarded with a never-ending list of challenges and to-dos. This “tossing in the wind” can leave me feeling dizzy and directionless. Finally, my nourishment demands healthy foods, exercise, spiritual growth, quiet time to myself, and a strong community. When these requirements are lacking my soil can feel impoverished.
Preservation does not mean growth. Preservation keeps us from damage or decay. Preservation is just the beginning.
Unfortunately, external substances, activities, or internal beliefs can disguise themselves as instruments for preservation. For years I used alcohol as a tool to “preserve” my life. I cherished its powers to provide stress-relief, freedom from my thoughts, bursts of energy, and unencumbered joy.
While alcohol was able to provide momentary freedom, the lasting effects resulted in enslavement. My ability to produce fruit for my family and at work was stunted.
Considering the fruit your preservation methods yield will be the true measure of their value. Healthy preservation methods will yield good fruit: contentment, patience, thoughtfulness, gratefulness, and growth mindset to name a few.
Personal Pruning Journey
Recognizing areas of false preservation is one step, pruning them is another. Unlike preservation, pruning will help you to grow and flourish.
Cutting alcohol from life was like losing a best friend. I had relied on this friend to see me through some of the worst times in my life. This friend was always with me when it was time to celebrate. I had spent more of my life with this friend than without it! Rationalizations and internal battles fought to keep us together.
Ultimately, knowing my potential impact without it, defeated my selfish desire to cling to it.
I did not believe I could do what I was meant to do unless I was willing to become who I was supposed to become. Nor could I become who I was supposed to become unless I did what I needed to do.
This is true for all of us!
It has been almost three years since I cut alcohol from my life. My grief stage has ended. I'm living with more joy, contentment, and strength than expected. Relationships in my life have changed dramatically. Perhaps, none more significant than my relationship with my daughter.
Unique Nature vs. Unique Needs
At one time, I allowed an external substance to choke my daughters development and damage our relationship. Now, my daughter is one of many “grape bunches” maturing safely within my kouloura. My willingness to prune replaced anger, bitterness, guilt, shame, impatience, and sorrow with love, peace, joy, strength, gentleness, and clarity.
I love wine! Someday, I hope to taste the prized whites of Santorini, Greece. However, I understand that success is a journey, not a destination. Santorini's grapes are not the prize, their preservation and pruning journey is.
Rather than look forward to a reunion with an old friend, I will harness the life lesson Santorini grape vines offer. I will sip on the success that comes from healthy preservation and active pruning in my own life.
Want to move toward deeper and healthier relationships with your children?
Grab our FREE guide, Three Steps To Deepen My Child's Sense of Belonging, join our parent community, or connect with me by clicking the "Let's Connect" button at the bottom right.
Walking Our Differences
Your first introduction to Amanda Gorman may have come at the last U.S. presidential inauguration. During the inauguration, Gorman recited a poem she wrote entitled, The Hill We Climb.
This poem best exemplifies what you can expect from Change Sings. The same beautiful, vivid, and vulnerable style is packaged to engage and inspire children.
For example, in Change Sings Amanda writes:
I talk not only of distances, From where and how we came.
What does it mean to "walk our differences"?
This question is one of many discussion questions we include in our book resource below. We encourage parents, educators, and school leaders to consider this question with the next generation of world leaders: our children.
Interestingly, I believe Amanda reveals the answer to this question in her inauguration day poem. In The Hill We Climb she shares,
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
If we take the time to compare "walking our differences" to this excerpt, we can extract many potential answers. "walking our differences" could mean we:
Be As Bright As The Light Each Day Brings
As adults, we need the reminder that light is always present somewhere. We need the charge to see and be the light. Our brokenness - individually and globally - can stifle our ability to see light in others and ourselves. We may no longer believe we or others are capable of it.
In Change Sings; however, Gorman uses similar imagery to take a different approach for children. The main character in the book takes ownership of the light within herself when she says,
I'm bright as the light each day brings. There is love where my change sings.
This confident characteristic capitalizes on children's malleability. Imagine if every reader took note of this text and believed they too were "as bright as the light each day brings"? During their formative years, many children relinquish their own pursuit of who they are to adopt who others say they are. What a travesty!
Each child is uniquely created for their own personal and purposeful journey. They are all capable of being "as bright as the light each day brings." Unfortunately, without adults in their lives who are brave enough to see and be the light, our children will not have a model to mimic or a trainer to teach them.
It is never too late to level up the light inside of you. Take ten minutes to read Change Sings together then dig deeper as a family, class, or school with our attached resource.