Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Soapbox: The Pruning

4-10 brandi_chambless13Beginning in the year 1818, British surveyor Col. Sir George Everest dedicated over two decades of his life surveying the longest arc of the meridian (at that time) on namesake Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, and never even saw its peak.

I recently found myself on the hunt for the perfect evening gown as I prepared for a global networking exchange and international business dinner.  Along with my domestic and international colleagues, our annual personal achievements were to be recognized.

Once I found THE ONE gown that worked, I stared in the mirror one last time and thought I’ll take it!  Slight problem.  The side zipper completely malfunctioned and I had to call for help.  Not one, but two, sales clerks worked under my left armpit for about thirty minutes as I tried to remain calm.  I began to sweat and wish for a Snickers bar so I wouldn’t feel the sick, weak feeling I felt.

Finally, the shop owner Ms. Anitra shows up in the dressing room with a large pair of sharpened scissors.

“We have no choice.  We will have to cut the gown off of you.”

She was calmer than I as she began to cut, and cut, and cut until the gown of my dreams fell to the ground.  Now, I’m not a huge believer in fate or luck, but there are times I cannot help but deny the something some people call a “God wink” like when I found a replacement dress for $95.  No alterations required.  It was a solid black halter dress with a low mermaid skirt crafted of layers of tulle.

A few days later while packing, I had the brilliant idea of using only ONE garment bag for an entire week’s worth of attire.  When I realized the mermaid skirt was going to cause problems, I knew there was only one thing to do:  turn to the scissors.  Alright dress, it’s just me and you.  Let’s do this!  I began to take the brave step of cutting and cutting and cutting…and PRAYING that I wouldn’t have a monumental mess up.

I tried the dress on repeatedly for one hour, after removing each bottom layer with my dull scissors, which led to more sweating and wishing for a Snickers bar.  The job was finally accomplished!  I was perfectly packed and ready; when I showed up to the awards dinner a few days later, even my Spanx had Spanx.  All was right with the world.

I shook hands with every tongue and every tribe I possibly could.  With the exception of two corporate executives who were kind enough to faithfully watch and cheer me on as my name was called, there were very few familiar faces.  Because none of the encouragers who had actually walked through the fire with me were there as witnesses, I had a sinking sick feeling that had nothing to do with my dress, scissors, or a Snickers bar this time.  Though I was grateful for the milestone, without my mentors and support system, the trophy was only a piece of glass.

The accomplishment had not been about achieving a personal best, the applause of men, or even the perfect dress, but about the climb.  The relationships I had formed along the way, the realization of who has my back, and the discipline of rising up even after the worst of falls are the greatest skins on the wall a girl could ever possess.  I remembered when a good friend once said that God prunes EVEN the fruitful vines.  I knew that after a season of blooming where I had been planted, it was time for another pruning and a new season.

Listen to the words of Peyton Manning speaking of his 2011 neck injury:

I had to set a new benchmark. I couldn’t look back at my days in Indianapolis prior to my injury and expect that I would ever be the same. But I knew that as long as I could move my team down the field I could still be effective. I had to set a new benchmark for myself.

That’s exactly what he did.  In his own words, his second to last season was statistically his strongest ever.

The next day, I chuckled thinking about Ms. Anitra and her scissors.  Then I thought about the surgical procedure I performed on my bargain dress with my own scissors just so I could roll one suitcase through the airport with ease.

I thought maybe my pruning process might need to symbolically begin here and now, so for a little drama, I turned to the scissors once again and cut my curls to the ground.  Last year’s benchmark was no more.  Without any particular new goals in mind just yet, I set my sights on another hypothetical summit, only this time I’d be ready to pay closer attention to the actual climb.

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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