There is something extremely satisfying about yard work. The sense of accomplishment is so straight-forward. There were weeds; now there aren't (at least no more visible ones). I spent a couple of hours cutting back overgrown ivy along the side of our house. Its tentacles threading their way under landscaping fabric and popping up on the other side of the path. Tendrils of sticky, fuzzy vines gripping and choking nearby decorative olive trees. My arm aches from all the yanking, but it was impossible to stop. How could I discontinue the frenzied cutting, pulling and digging when my adversary was obviously not abiding by the length of wood trim that demarcates no man's land from pathway? Chaos reigns. Nature overrides all attempts to create control. 

Satisfaction from seeing my pile of discarded ivy cheered me forward. One tree free of the strangulating ivy, now two, only two more to go. I know my body will pay for this tomorrow. I know, that as in everything, I should set boundaries, but compulsion prevails. And why not? Where else in life do you see the proof of your hard work in such tangible evidence? 

There is also the meditative, quiet space of yard work. There's time to analyze, to daydream, to ruminate, and all occur under the protective spell of physical labor that reminds me that I am not wasting my time. At the end of the hour, there will be visible transformation. My labors will be evident. I will feel vindicated that I have done something. I will have earned my extra long shower, I will have earned my slovenly behavior on the couch. 

I wish that my mind weren't such a whirling dervish of activity. I wish that it were easier for me to just sit and watch t.v. or read my book. Why do I have to "earn" my relaxation time, in order to shut off the self-judgement? Isn't the five days at work enough to garner an actual weekend? This task master behavior has been a long-time companion but has improved over the past year. I have allowed myself more creativity and down time. There is a certain ease to my day that I had never experienced before, or at least had not experienced since I was pregnant. It's hard to remember what it was like pre-babies. I struggled with a post back in June—about pregnancy, lonesomeness and loss—that I just couldn't publish. It caused a drought of writing these past many weeks and consequently I missed my goal of three posts a month. In fact, there was not a single post in June. I guess the feelings weren't ready to be out there. I think writing and re-writing the entry did help me to process some lingering pain, though I wonder if actually sharing via a post may have been even more cathartic. For now, I will leave it as a private journal entry and may try again later. For today, I will sit with my achy shoulder and be glad that I conquered some ivy and then wrote.

07/22/2013 5:45am

Beautiful! I gardened yesterday, too, and felt the same satisfaction. I'm in the last days of my pregnancy, and I love the idea of planting a garden for my baby. I also relish the deeper relaxation that comes after hard outdoor work. Another excellent post, Shawn--personal and universal at the same time!

07/22/2013 4:02pm

Thank you, Jennica. I can just see you gardening even though you can barely see your toes! I think your baby is going to wait until the very last minute to separate from her warm incubator. Thank you for sharing.


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