Pruning for Peace

Roses and garlic scapes (flower buds of hardneck garlic) are neighbors in my garden. Each has a distinctive scent. However, both combine their talents of beauty and whimsy in flower bouquets. Cutting-back is helpful, as both thrive best when pruned. Garlic scapes are tasty and by cutting back the scapes, the buried garlic bulb grows larger. Similarly, it is through pruning that future roses increase growing power.

What needs pruning in your internal garden of thoughts/emotions/sensations for your growth? This week I found several parts in my personality that could use a little cut-back. My worried thinking does not leave much room for creative problem solving. By cutting back “what-if________” fears about the future, there is space for growth in one’s total outlook. Mark Twain adds a note of humor: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Multi-instrumentalist Randy Armstrong, co-founder of Do’a World Music Ensemble, composed this worry advice: “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”

Anxiety and worry are at a high pitch in our world today. We are compromising our personalities with our crescendo worrying. What we need is more creative thinking. Pause your defensive worry thoughts. Ask if they hold any stereotypic thinking. 

Inventor and psychologist William J. J. Gordon (yes, there are 2 J’s) suggested that the mind has 2 basic jobs: 1) “Make the strange familiar” — through incorporating new experiences and facts into what you already know; 2) “Make the familiar strange” – by freeing something already believed from some stereotypes you have gathered throughout your life. Bill Gordon was a creativity guru. All of us might benefit from more creative thinking when the “strange” keeps propagating every day.     

Guns cannot be safe-guarded with open carry privileges and a political winner-takes-all agenda. There are no winners in “open carry,” unless you count gun manufacturers and gun stores as the A-team in America. History will not look favorably upon the U.S. obsession with guns. Ironically, it now is OK to have “open carry” guns while women’s liberty about carrying unwanted (and sometimes dangerous) pregnancies have been pruned. Will gun manufactures offer to pay hospital bills for those with gunshot wounds? Will state legislators take on raising children?

Just as a garden has opposite kinds of plants living in peace, we need to figure out how to make peace with those who hold different viewpoints. We must create harmony on our common planet with limited resources. Shared plants and music can bring people together. Perhaps we need a planetary anthem.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead has an encore quote: “One characteristic of Americans is that they have no tolerance at all of anybody putting up with anything. We believe that whatever is going wrong ought to be fixed.”  Let’s fix our thinking. Let’s celebrate independence from defensive thinking this July 4th!

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

96. What can you do this week that stems from creative thinking?

97. How might you contribute to planetary peace?   

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.


  1. I admire how you are creative with each blog. I especially appreciated this one. Roses, scapes, worry, tolerance, seeking peace… all resonated.




  2. My heart goes out to the families of gun violence victims in Highland Park, IL after another mass shooting today around 10:15 AM. When innocent people are gunned down with a rifle while watching the town’s fourth of July parade, we understand once again how much we need positive changes in America.


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