is it time for a new pot?

You know I love a good metaphor, especially of the botanical variety.

Indulge me?

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This is the story of a root-bound plant.

My husband brought a bunch of potted plants home from the yoga studio this week, for some much-needed love and attention.

One particular plant was in a beautiful ceramic pot.

At first glance, it seemed fine.

If you looked a little closer, though, you'd see that it had grown a bit straggly. 

You'd notice that at its center, the crowded stems were pale and breaking off.

When we tried to remove the plant from its pretty pot, it wouldn't budge.

We tried digging into the soil, but couldn't get anywhere in the rock-solid dirt.

We pulled and shimmied, but the plant was so stuck, all we succeeded in doing was ripping off a few of its remaining green fronds.

Eventually, we used a knife to cut the plant free.

Here's what we found:

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This plant overstayed in its pot so long that its roots had pressed toward the pot's circumference, eventually weaving themselves together to take on the shape of the pot.

I can't describe to you how suffocatingly thick this root structure was. How in the plant's search for growth - in its attempt to get what it needed to support itself - it bound itself more and more tightly into its too-small situation.


In my experience, we humans do this, too.

We find ourselves in too-small situations:

  * Relationships in which there's not enough room to grow and change and be our whole selves.

  * Work situations where we feel confined to roles that we've grown beyond.

  * Obligations and responsibilities - all the "have-tos" - that keep us from doing what we really want to do.

In these confining circumstances, we do what we can to get by.

We can't help but keep growing - that's what all life is here to do - so we try our very best to make it work.

Sometimes, we do this for so long that we're no longer able to thrive.

We press ourselves into our not-me role, our too-small situation, our unwanted responsibilities so hard that we forget we are actually bigger than all of those.

The longer we stay, the more we are limited not only by the circumstances, but by our own self-conceptions.

And the harder it is to imagine a spacious alternative.

Again: I know this from experience.

I was in a too-small, not-mine role - directing a yoga studio - for years.

I couldn't imagine not doing that work, even as my coaching and teaching work was calling my soul daily.

I tried to make it work - to stay in my role as studio director at the same time I grew in the ways I was called to grow - 

Until I found myself feeling sparse. 

Until I felt myself breaking at the center.

Finally - with the help of a coach, and encouragement from friends, and all my self-coaching tools - I began to cut myself free, which was scary as hell.

But now

I have so much more energy. Amazing amounts of energy.

I feel so much more expansive and free.

Life feels full of possibility.

I am growing, and it is glorious.

I want this for you, friend.

If you are feeling stuck

Or sparse

Or a little broken at the center

If you have forgotten that you are not your situation

(You are so much bigger)

If you don't have room to grow in the ways you're called to grow

(Growing is a no-choice; it's what we are here to do)

If you are feeling root-bound these days, please know:

You're a human, not a fern.

Get help getting free.

natalie millerComment