It began as one of those “I hate to but I have to” tasks. After so much snow and not enough time in between to clean up all the backyard mess, (and did I mention a habit of procrastination?) Ellie’s presence was visible across the lawn. As were all the dead leaves that fell after our big fall clean-up was followed-up with an early season snowfall last October!
I’d avoided it all weekend, even the evenings last week when I had had an hour to clean up. I hate to thinking had gotten in my way.
Now it was time. I hated to but I had to clean it up.
But first, I needed to change my frame of reference. I needed to change my glasses.
I hate to but I have to was not sitting well with my psyche. To spend an hour in ‘I hate’ was not going to be an hour well-spent.
It was time to acknowledge the power of choice.
It was time to reframe my thinking from “I hate to” to “I choose to for the benefits of”….
I choose to clean up the backyard for the benefits of…
It’s a gorgeous afternoon and I want to spend some time in the sun. (“But you’re tired. You cooked Easter dinner for 18 last night and you’ve only just finished cleaning up the kitchen,” my critter mind hissed)
I’ll be able to spend an hour outside in the backyard. (You could be reading on a deck chair in the sun, the critter continued)
True. But I’ll also be getting some good exercise. (What? All that bending isn’t good for your back. You’ll regret it!)
I pulled on a pair of plastic disposable gloves. Got the bags, shovel, trowel ready.
Seriously? the critter asked. You’re going to do this? It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Maybe the rain will wash it all away.
This time the critter’s voice made me laugh. Really? Wash it away? How disgusting.
I turned my back on the critter and began to clean up.
Even though I had cleaned up throughout the winter, even though I’d done a major clean of missed doggie-doo during the last melt, there was still a lot of Ellie’s evidence around the yard.
That’s because you’re a loser, the critter hissed. You should be out here everyday. You’re so lazy? What’s wrong with you?
I smiled at the critter (perhaps a little pityingly) and kept cleaning.
I don’t have to listen to you critter. In fact, I choose to not hear your voice and am choosing to focus on the benefits of what I’m doing.
I got the rake from the garage and moved onto raking up the dead leaves that lay in sodden messes all over the yard.
I kept my mind blank. Calm.
And even though the critter attempted to hiss and distract me, I consciously pulled my thoughts away from listening to him to thinking about how I was choosing to do this for the benefits of Ellie the wonder pooch, the beauty of the yard and my peace of mind.
I tackled one small portion of the lawn at a time. Kept my thoughts from going wide and big to appreciate each small section as I completed it. Going wide and big depresses me — it is a big yard and wide and big makes the job seem insurmountable. Best to keep my focus on where I am at so that I don’t become discouraged.
I reminded myself that I was there by choice. And my choice was to focus on the benefits of cleaning up the yard so that when I was done, I could look out the kitchen window and appreciate our pretty yard and a job well done.
An hour and a half of silent, meditative cleaning and the yard was finished. No more doggie-doo. No more dead leaves. No more mess.
And best of all, the critter was silenced! Even when he tried to remind me that the mess was all my fault. That I should have been out there every day. That my excuses for not doing it were just not good enough, I bested his pesky sibilant whispers with a peaceful mind that focused on the benefits of what I was doing.
Which means, I didn’t spend my time in ‘I hate to’! Instead, I got to spend a lovely sojourn working in the yard, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, physically using my body and benefiting from the exertion.
And, when I was done, I raked away the dead leaves C.C. had piled on top of the flower garden last fall as winter insulation and found several plants already popping up! Bonus! My plants survived and are now ready to greet the spring sun.
Of course, I’ll have to remember to cover them up again at the end of the week as the weatherman is predicting frost. But that’s okay. I love to enjoy my garden in all kinds of weather, especially when my mind is cleansed of “I hate to” thinking!