Replacing What’s Rotten



My handiwork…

I discovered that a few sections of the back fence were rotting. The boards disintegrating with a touch, despite the fact they looked perfectly fine from a distance.  It’s mostly my fault. I had been trowing yard debris over to the wooded area of my property thinking I was composting Mother Nature’s way. Unfortunately, most of my pitches had landed too close to the boards and over time a layer of dirt and debris had sat up against the boards causing the rot.

So I have begun the replacement process, thirty-seven down and twelve to go to address the most critical areas. There will be more in the future for those not so critical this moment and the fact I could not get a matching style unless I bought boards that would require me to cut off two feet from each board, which seemed a bit wasteful to me.

As I pried out nails and knocked out rotting boards I had plenty of time to reflect. True to the nature of my mind I saw a life lesson in my current task. Rot is not just a condition for wood. It is a condition of life. If we don’t maintain, refresh or even replace what’s rotten in our personal lives and in our society, then it will decay and fall apart.

Do you have a toxic, read rotten, relationship that is holding you back? Are you uninspired in your work life? Is your diet fresh? Do you maintain yourself with exercise? Do you give your mind new ideas to ponder? Does our society need changes to make it better, stronger and safer for all?  Dare I say could Congress stand a removal of some rotten wood with replacements who are fresh and new?

I know I can identify several areas in my life I could use a refresh and in some instances a complete replacement. Like the new boards that I hammered in change can build a solid base for me to be stronger and last longer.

As I hauled the rotten broken boards to the curb I wished it was that easy with the rot in our society. I can only change society by the choices I make and the power of my vote and while that can make a difference I know it will take a collaborative effort.

In my own life, I can be more conscious of what might need replacing and choose to do so. After all who wants to just crumble away in decay?

Who knew there would be such an inspiring lesson in the mundane task of fence maintenance?


A Little Trim Here and There



The trimmings from the side yard, I sure hope it’s the third Monday the trash folks pick up the yard waste.

October is moving at a breakneck pace and I have been patiently waiting for the usually accompanying cool weather. By South Carolina standards that means the upper seventies with a nice breeze and a decrease in the humidity.  Much cooler than that and we might think we slipped into winter.  Yet here we are October 21st and we are in the eighties. Granted, the humidity is not at August levels and there is a breeze so I jumped into the annual fall garden clean-up. The above is just from the side yard and the adjoining front corner by the garage.  I have much more to do, especially in the back, but I’m holding out with the hope next weekend will be a little cooler.

As I trimmed, shaped and weeded I got thinking about how writers do the same thing with their work.  The first spilling out on the page is usually untidy and overgrown in parts. Sometimes whole sections need to be moved or cut altogether. Occasionally a seedling is found and can be cultivated to enhance the story.

As my brain reflected as it seems to always do when I’m working in the garden, I also saw the beauty of how this trimming works in our lives. We trim away old habits or toxic friends. We weed out our closets and other possessions to give space for the things we actually like and use. We examine how we are using our time and try to clear our calendars and to-do lists of the things that detract from a meaningful life. There is something soothing and energizing about restoring order and clearing away the excess. In the garden, In the closet or garage, in relationships and how we use our time.

For me, these clean-ups work best when I do them on a fairly regular basis. I find that the changing of the seasons, regardless of cooperation of the weather are great times to stop, reflect, pick an area or two literally or metaphorically to trim up and weed out. Then discard that excess, the baggage that holds you back, and move on, there is an even better life just ahead.

Happy trimming!





My new lawn mower

This summer brought the demise of my second lawn mower in eleven years. Before that time I had never mowed a lawn in my life. In my childhood, it was something my daddy did and I thought it was something only boys did. In my early adult life, I lived in apartments and a townhouse. The lawn was someone else’s responsibility. So eleven years ago when I became responsible for a yard I was stunned to learn I actually like mowing the lawn!

Oh but I had no idea it could get even better. My first two mowers were electric cordless and they took a lot of effort on my part to push. They were what most people would call expensive and when they broke that was it. So this summer I decided I would go with a more conventional gas mower. I was advised to get a self-propelled model. Holy smokes! I had no idea how much easier that little feature would make the weekly chore of mowing the lawn. I’m still soaking wet and rosy-cheeked when I’m done, but I  have shaved a good fifteen minutes off my time. In feels like 110-degree weather, that is the difference between finishing tired or with black spots swimming in front of your eyes from heat exhaustion.

This got me thinking about the concept of self-propelled in other areas of life. I don’t know about you, but when I’m enthusiastic and motivated about something, it just comes easier than when I dread or resist. I can’t make every task in life something I love, but I can use my attitude to make even the mundane or disliked tasks go a bit faster. I just have to power through as cheerfully as I can.

Some things in life are hard and they should be. If everything was easy how would we be driven to grow and reach further? I don’t think shortcuts or paths clear of obstacles can teach us like the journeys we have to work for. However, like the self-propelled mower, a self-propelled attitude can make doing the hard work more efficient and help you keep a little reserve in the tank for whatever is coming next. (Trust me, there is always something next!) We each have the power within us when we tap into our inner drive.

I’m always amazed at how the every day in housekeeping, cooking or yard work can teach me a philosophical  life lesson. Now I rank mowing the lawn as my favorite chore. I’m going to put the keyboard down and tackle that basket of unfolded laundry with a song in my heart. Now,  if only the vacuum cleaner could operate itself . . .