This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Monday, May 5, 2008

From yardwork to yardsticks

Momentum and pruning shears. What do the two have to do with each other?

Yardwork that might involve pruning bushes, mowing the lawn, or planting a flower bed is meditative work. It allows you time to just be. And giving yourself time to "just be" is good for your mental state of mind. You may not even realize how much your body craves down time. We spend too much time as it is worrying, thinking, obsessing about work, what to feed the kids for dinner, or that bathroom sink that seems to have a leak but will have to wait till next month to fix. Maybe you can see why down time is a precious commodity that is important to fit in as much as possible, especially when you think there's no time. If you look, you'll find it.

I just wrote yesterday about meditating, and I'm speaking of meditating again for good reason. Like yoga, which requires focus in order to maintain a pose, yardwork requires focus as well. If you didn't focus on what you were doing outside, you'd be like me and stab a pair of pruning shears in your arm--on accident, of course. Ouch! Or, you might even push the lawn mover right over your electric cord and have to end what could have been a very productive afternoon. Bummer.

All joking aside, I've chosen not to hire a landscape company to come and take care of my yard because I enjoy the process and the ability to give myself the time to do the work myself. On yardwork weekends, I get to spend time outside mowing the lawn and then adding fertilizer so the grass will grow as green as it can. I get to trim back the bushes--one of them is particularly unruly and requires a lot of patience--and decide which plants will go in what pots. I then spend time raking and sweeping up the resulting debris.

I particularly enjoy the moments where I have to sit on the ground around a ridiculously large pile of twigs and leaves from that unruly bush--a 20-year-old bougainvillea--and chop up the thorny mess into smaller pieces so I can stuff them into the garbage bag for trash day. I enjoy doing that because I'm outside, I get to chat with my neighbors who happen to walk by with their dogs while I'm doing the work. Sometimes, they even offer to help, and sometimes I let them. For me, yardwork is just generally a very relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon underneath Arizona's mid-day sun. Depending on how much yardwork I have to do--sometimes I have to skip a few weeks if I'm really busy with work--it can take me an entire day.

But it's a day well spent, and I love it.

It gives me time to consider what's going on in my life. And when the meditation is at its highest level, I won't have a single thing on my mind other than the moment I'm in. I might hear the sound of the clippers breaking through the bark, or maybe I'll notice the smell of my fresh cut lawn. Before I know it, my work will be done, and I can put all the equipment back into the garage and go take a hot shower.

I love the way I feel after a hard day's work like that. I may be bone-tired, but my mind always feels refreshed and invigorated, and I know I've earned a dinner out. I always go out to eat--either by myself or with friends--on yard days.

And the momentum I'm talking about? That has to do with the fact that I feel like I'm getting somewhere on yard days. I've made things happen. I've found a little bit of success in a week where I might not have had any otherwise. It symbolizes progress for me, and that means I know I'm moving forward.

Do you have a home project, such as yardwork, that you can use to illustrate your success on days or weeks that might not otherwise give you that feeling? If so, capitalize on that. We all have bad days, bad weeks, bad months, and sometimes even bad years. It's a good idea to find a routine activity you have to do anyway and turn it into your success project.

When I needed it, I used bike riding this way as well--as a means to measure my success. With each added mile, I saw progress. With each new hill I could climb, I saw progress. With each pound lost, I saw progress. It was hard to miss that kind of growth. I was building momentum by building my inner strength. I now use yardwork in a similar way.

Think about the things that you do regularly that you could use as your yardstick. If you can find a way to measure your progress (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically or otherwise), you'll soon begin to see it as well. Visuals can be a very powerful thing.

Happy counting!

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