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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Is Your Relationship Thriving?
(When to Let it Go, When to Let it Grow!)

I have a kitchen houseplant that won’t grow, but it won’t die either. It was one of those Home Depot deals that I picked up for $9.99 about a year ago. This plant sits in a beautiful clay pot in a corner window that complements my kitchen décor rather nicely. I think it’s called a Spider Plant, or a Rubber Tree, or something in that family.

Anyhow, for me, plants add a little “oomph” to any setting, and create a feeling of warmth.


Though I’m very domestic, I definitely don’t have a green thumb! Still, I’m convinced that with the right nurturing, I can get it to blossom. Somehow I can’t figure out whether I’m feeding it too much, too little, or if it’s just not strategically placed in the right location. I can’t seem to get to the root of the problem! But I’m determined to figure out this plaguing mystery.

Comparatively speaking, I have a plant in my upstairs bathroom that I once agonized over too. But, I hesitated to part with it because it was “my first”. And well, you know how women tend to get sentimentally attached to “firsts”. Crazy thing is, now it’s growing like a wildfire! Go figure. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. It’s a gorgeous bloom where it’s situated, and it gives me a silly sense of accomplishment.

It seems that lately I’ve been confronted with many situations that require weeding in 2007! “Should I let it go, or let it grow?” I’ve asked. Things like whether to end certain client relationships, business deals, volunteer work, and affiliations in general. No doubt, you have too! I’m not sure if it’s the newness of the year, or the fact that spring-cleaning is just around the corner. But I’m in a “purging” place in my life.

Here’s my position. If carefully choreographed, purging allows us more space, a sense of liberation, less stress, and more order in our worlds. But mess it up, and you’re bound to have a sense of regret and remorse for time to come. Like a few instances where I’ve tossed receipts, later didn’t like a product I purchased, and ended up being stuck with it! Like donating to charity, items from my closet that I thought were outdated, later to have the style resurface on the fashion scene in a big way! (Who knew that shawls would once again be a big hit?)

But relationships, now they’re a little bit trickier! And I should know. I’ve had more than one or two boomerang boyfriends come to reclaim my affections after dumping me, and later recognizing the “Gem” that I am. And in most instances, their renewed sense of romance came a bit too late, and they had to settle for just being pals; which comes with much fewer perks, I must admit!

And I confess as well, to prematurely considering tossing in the towel in situations that I should have, in retrospect, given a longer trial period or learning curve to work out.

Having had these experiences, I think I have purging principles down to a science. Here's how to know when to let it go or let it grow:

» Is the situation or person causing you to lose money, sleep, or excessive time in its upkeep in maintenance? If so, toss it!

» Does it enhance your appearance or existence? If so, it’s a keeper!

» Have you given it a reasonable time to work? For gigs, guys, or girlfriends, I’d give it at least 90 days as a probationary period!

» Does it fit comfortably in your life, or cause overcrowding?

» Does it have sentimental value? If so, hold on to it with dear life!

» Have you outgrown it? Like friendships, or local disco hang outs

» Is it likely to get better with time? Let’s face it. A boss who is an “A-hole” does not increase in value, when longer kept! What he/she typically will get you are hemorrhoids and headaches!

Do yourself a favor. When a situation or person is causing you angst, evaluate, then prune it! Make room in your life for new things to blossom and add beauty to your landscape!

You'll thrive better!


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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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