Pruned! There’s a Nap For This

13 Sep

A year ago, I made what I still believe is a right decision. I put family needs before personal wants, although, in fairness, I believed I could manage both. I now know I cannot. I also know the road back is not as simple as reversing my trajectory.

It took a potted plumeria tree to show me the road ahead.

We call it the Lily Tree, to honor its previous owner. Soon after we brought it home last fall its leaves began to drop. Sad looking thing—a three-pronged stick in a pot. However, a friend told us to be patient, saying it’s a hearty tree and worth the wait.

As instructed, we set it in a dark, quiet corner of the house and left it alone to nap, not even disturbing it with water. Apparently, the plumeria is the introvert of the tree world. This was difficult advice and counterintuitive to our way of thinking, but we ignored it.

plumeriaThis spring we set the tree outside, certain it had died. However, its three spindly branches developed green tips almost immediately, and within a few weeks sprouted tiny leaves. Only then did I allow myself to become emotionally invested. I looked up plumeria on line.

There I learned another name for this plant is frangipani, which is SO fun to say, and that it’s native to Hawaii—the source of those lovely lei flowers Hawaiians string together to welcome visitors to the island. Of course, this discovery gave me cause to whine.

Hey, why don’t we get flowers?

We researched possible reasons for this barrenness and discovered the plumeria likes certain nutrients. In case you’re wondering why I don’t name those nutrients, the botanic realm looks a lot like math to me, all those phosphorus levels. So, I recommend the following:

Look it up, sigh heavily, then turn it over to a problem-solving spouse.

My husband, whose thumb is far greener than mine, purchased some fertilizer and worked it into the soil. The Lily tree’s leaves fanned out and grew appreciatively. We’ll never know if flowers were forthcoming, because just when the tree seemed to be at the pinnacle of joyful thriving, a strong gust of wind blew the plant AND its heavy terracotta pot off our deck. Two branches snapped off and the third lay helpless atop a now-flat basil plant in the garden below.

As I stared at those pots, I saw a somewhat depressing similarity to my own life.

For more than four years, I lived the life I’d dreamed about since my teenage years. During that time, I was blessed to receive a glimpse of the writer I might be and know for certain that writing is my life’s calling. Every writer’s group, conference, networking contact, and writing class, as well as the feedback from people who read my books and articles, all fed me nutrients, to the point where I could practically feel the blossoms emerging.

And then my pot blew over.

Anyone who follows this blog has surely noticed the almost eerie silence about the place for the past year. In the few entries I did manage to write, I’ve remained true to my Pollyanna side, trying to paint a rosy picture despite evidence to the contrary. I sprouted green leaves even though I lacked proper nutrients.

To be frank, I’m in a season of inner conflict. Blessed with more than I need, yet somehow still unhappy because I don’t have what I want. Trying not to complain, because it feels wrong to whine about writing woes in view of the myriad people in my life suffering real trauma right now. So, I’ve been stuffing my emotions to the point where any time I’m asked, “How’s the writing coming along?” I practically burst into tears.

Because it’s not coming along. In focusing on the mundane demands of my detour, I’ve managed to dissolve nearly all ties to writing groups, magazines, contacts, as well as that part of my brain that sees a story in every situation. I paused a book project mid-way through the interviews, and it seems to be on perpetual hold. My leaves are gone. I’m a bare branch in a pot, left to nap in a quiet room.

I’ve been pruned.

Plumeria_StubMy gardener husband was not undone by either pruning. For the plumeria, he researched a bit more and learned that it’s likely not terminal. He set the pot back upright and gave the sagging tree some water. Then he picked up the branches and carefully pruned their leaves until they looked like two long cigars, which he set out to air dry. Then he planted them in a new pot, side-by-side so they’ll support each other through this traumatic time.

Apparently, if we bring them inside for the winter to rest in the quiet corner, we should have three thriving plumeria trees come springtime.

His solution for my own pruning was to give me wide berth and let me mope. He knows the more depressed I feel, the more I turn to the Bible for answers. He’s a wise gardener.

I learned that pruning is good news for both plants and people. The dream hasn’t gone anywhere, nor has the promise. In showing me Proverbs 13:12, He helped me see that those four years represent a hope deferred, a glimpse of a tree of life, a vision of who I’m meant to be.

Through reading the Bible, I’m reminded repeatedly that my status is not terminal. In fact, the passion to write is stronger than ever, with new ideas developing continually and those unfinished stories sill intact in a dark still corner of my brain. Resting. Waiting for spring.

Lately, I’m starting to feel as if spring might be on the horizon.

However, I won’t emerge as the same writer you knew a year ago. You see, I was elated just to be writing, satisfied to be producing beautiful shiny leaves. But that was never God’s plan. My tree is supposed to produce large, aromatic flowers. My tree had to be pruned to prepare me for more than I knew to ask or imagine.

plumeriaSo I’m going to essentially start over. Write a short blog here and there, attend a writer’s group or two, take on an editing assignment. This time, though, I will keep before me a vision of the plumeria flower to represent God’s plan for my life. If I have to, I will go about the mundane hours of each day singing, “frangipani, frangipani” (likely annoying my coworkers), to stay focused on the something better that lies ahead. I will remember (shout out to the poetry of Rob Thomas) that I am a black and white person with technicolor dreams. But I don’t have to be.


He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. –John 15:2

18 Responses to “Pruned! There’s a Nap For This”

  1. Colleen Quinn September 13, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

    Good to read your writing again

    • Portrait Writer September 13, 2018 at 9:41 pm #

      Good to be writing again. I’m claiming this as a small victory. 🙂

  2. Heidi September 13, 2018 at 12:45 pm #

    Absolutely fantastic. You can only imagine the tears that sprung to my eyes when I realized why you call this the Lily Tree. So proud of you and very inspired. (Congrats on have your template back up and working!!)

    • Portrait Writer September 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks Heidi. I suspect it was Miles, my quiet hero, but he says it just happened. 😉 I’m glad you liked it. Missing our Lily. ❤

  3. Jake Rodrigues September 13, 2018 at 4:33 pm #


    I am touched by your ability to put meaningful words to paper. The blessing you share is a wonderful gift. You stayed the course, and I for one salute you.

    • Portrait Writer September 13, 2018 at 9:36 pm #

      Why, thank you Jake! What a nice surprise, seeing you here. I pray all is well with you. I salute you back. 🙂

  4. Cheryl September 14, 2018 at 12:29 am #

    There is a season…for everything. I am thankful to be reminded and look forward to “hearing” from you.

    • Portrait Writer September 14, 2018 at 7:07 am #

      Thank you Cheryl. We also tend to forget to look for the joy in our “lesser” seasons, when it’s really everywhere. Hmmm…that might blog…:)

  5. Mary Scro September 14, 2018 at 3:10 am #

    Awesome post, helped bring clarity some things in my own life. You have such a way with words, glad to be seeing them again. And, we are way overdue for breakfast or lunch!!!!

    • Portrait Writer September 14, 2018 at 7:07 am #

      That we are Mary. Missing you. Stay dry out there!

  6. epvalaerjr September 14, 2018 at 9:36 am #

    You are probably the most talented rider in our group. So sorry you couldn’t be there to join in the fun . Keep writing and sharing as you have a great gift and the world needs it.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  7. Kae Bellamy September 14, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    Love your blog! Glad you’re back. Bloom on!

  8. Martha Saunders September 15, 2018 at 9:25 pm #

    You are one talented lady, Rose – your honesty and insight are wrapped up in words that bring a tear and a smile at the same time. You inspire me.

  9. writingtruelove September 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

    I wondered about you, Rosemarie, as my own blog site suffers from abandonment. Great comparison to the plumeria; can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!


  1. The First Day of the Rest of My Life | The Portrait Writer - July 18, 2021

    […] I kept coming back to, the one that resonates most in this season, is the saga of the plumeria, our Lily tree, from September 2018. (You can click the link to refresh your […]

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