Lessons from a lemon tree

Lemon Tree
Lemon Tree

Nature. Life’s greatest teacher.

From the Desk of Marilee

Not long ago I cut down my lemon tree. Believe it or not, it was a big event. I had been waffling about removing the tree for nearly 18 months. It was obviously not healthy, but I held out hope for a return to its fruitful glory.

I watered. I fertilized. I tended. And, I ignored reality.

It wasn’t until I was visiting with family — some of whom are citrus experts — that I accepted our tree’s fate. I described my tree’s current condition and simultaneously (and in stereo) my two cousins said “Citrus Greening.”

Reality bites.

The term Citrus Greening is synonymous with “no way to save your tree.”  Yet, to be absolutely certain there was no hope — because two expert opinions weren’t quite enough, I Googled it; Google confirmed it, of course. Citrus Greening is bad news.

As I began removing the lemon tree, I could see how the removal process and my journey to get there was a metaphor:

Sometimes, the things in life that aren’t working can be hard to accept, and it requires an objective perspective to fully accept that it’s not working. As soon as my cousins confirmed what I already knew, I was able to take action.

And so I began the task of removing one limb and branch at a time. And while taking action sounds easy now, it was fraught with a kaleidoscope of emotions and mixed feelings that momentarily distracted me. The inhalation of the beautiful, sweet, lemon scent broke my heart and caused me to question what I was doing. My tree smelled so good! Then, just as quickly, a thorn pierced my skin through my glove, and snapped me back to the present moment.

This is a pattern I recognize. Anytime we make big changes or remove what no longer serves us, our old, limiting beliefs pipe in and cause us to question our decisions. But, if you can return to the present moment, remember your intention, you can quickly get back on track.

My lemon tree reminded me how difficult it is to take big action to release the things that no longer work. It’s no easy thing to eliminate something you’ve grown accustomed to – even if it no longer serves you.

Here are three lessons I learned from my lemon tree:

  1.  Sometimes, you need an objective perspective. Someone with expertise and knowledge can help you decide to take action.
  1. Taking action makes things better, not just deciding to take action.
  1. The lure of “what-could-have-been thinking” will sneak in and cause you to doubt yourself. The sweet lemon scent caused me to question my resolve. But, if you expect doubt to elbow its way in, you will be prepared and can acknowledge your feelings, yet keep moving forward.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I never quite expected to learn so much from a dying lemon tree. But, I’m grateful I was present for this lesson.

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