picking blackberries

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Picking Blackberries

As my husband and I walked to our neighborhood blackberry patch this late summer morning, I wondered if there would still be juicy plump blackberries to pick. It didn't look too promising at first. The blackberries appeared dried out or quite small. With some searching, I found a few to place in my container. I noticed that I was getting a bit frustrated and not enjoying the process so much. I was thinking it was time to go home.

Then, I started to slow down so I didn't walk right past perfectly good berries. I bent down, looked under leaves, turned deeper into the brush off of the beaten path, and I found there were quite a few blackberries. On the surface, the harvest appeared meager, but when I paid closer attention and did more seeking, the berries appeared. Then I felt enthusiastic again and did not want to give up.

I also noticed that I needed to pay close attention to what I was doing or else the thorns would stab me or my shirt would get snatched. In fact, so as not to risk spilling his berries, my husband asked me to rescue him from a thorn that had grabbed the back of his shirt.

I spotted several juicy blackberries at the top of a bush. Can I get them? How far can I reach without falling into the bush and risk scratching my face and body? I decided to take a pass on them.

I realized at one point that I hadn't tried any of the berries. Why not stop and enjoy the fruits along the way? They were yummy. And a few were sour.

It was great to be out in the fresh air with my husband, picking wild berries on an urban trail, seeing neighbors walk by with their dogs.

As we walked home with berries in hand, I shared with Mark the life and business metaphors that occurred to me from this simple activity of picking blackberries. When I slowed down, and even stopped, I was able to pay close attention and see what was right in front of me. Often, we keep ourselves so busy that we don't notice in what direction our life is going and believe that we don't have control over it.

Sometimes I experience a bit of pain in my work. That doesn't mean I need to give up. From the thorns in my side can come great insight and progress. When I break through the pain, it can lead to renewed enthusiasm and energy. I need to recognize how much challenge and risk I am willing and able to endure at this time in my life. And, I want to enjoy the fruits along the way and not feel that I need to wait for the big payoff at the end of the journey.

When I take the time to dig deeper, investigate under the leaf, I often come up with new solutions to dilemmas or concerns. And sometimes that means asking a friend or coach to help me in this process so that I can get unhooked and identify my blind spots. Together we are able to uncover the sweet and juicy berries and discover new recipes in which to enjoy them.

© Sue Schleifer, September, 2008

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