Let me first start off by saying that the picture above is not of my yard. I had thought about taking a picture, then realized it wouldn’t be very exciting. What it would have been was white, with white blowing around. If I had taken a picture of my driveway after shoveling it this morning it would have been a less solid version of white, as some of the concrete was showing through, but not much and not for very long.
I didn’t have many plans for this week in the yard. None really that I specifically wanted to do. Last week it also snowed on Wednesday night, so I tried to finish some of the “when there is a chance” yard work I had lined up.
Rabbit trail, though relevant and will lead back to where you left of – Recently I came across the “Alaska – the last frontier” t.v. show on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of it, let me give a short summary – it portrays a self sufficient family (two brothers and their adult offspring) living in Alaska trying to make a living off the land as much as possible. Some don’t even have indoor plumbing. They do use machines and are not totally self sufficient, but try to do as much themselves as possible.
After a few episodes I got tired of hearing about preparing for winter, how if they didn’t get enough now the food wouldn’t last through the winter, how they needed enough fire wood now to last through the winter, etc. When the fire wood did run out for the one household he had to go out, you guessed it, in the winter and cut more. I wondered, “What all they were doing to have not planned their time well enough to get stuff done before it was too late.” Yes, there was a bit of judging going on. I’ll admit it.
Okay, so back to the yard work I was doing this past week. What I had on my list were two things :
- cut down 2 lilac bushes to prepare to plant a peach tree there this spring
- rake leaves
That’s right, raking leaves. In December. Why was I doing it last week? Because it wasn’t snowing and the temperature was above freezing. Obviously.
As I was raking them up I realized that the exact reason I judged the family on the t.v. show was the exact thing I had done. I knew winter was coming, that autumn was ending. I knew the leaves were going to fall and needed dealt with. So why is it that I didn’t take care of it during the autumn instead of after it was winter and I had to time it between snow storms? As there were quite a few leaves I had time to think about the answer. Here is what I came up with:
- This was a job that wasn’t necessarily time sensitive. Yes, it would have been better to do in the fall, but didn’t affect us if it didn’t get done.
- There were jobs in the fall that were time sensitive, like canning tomatoes. Tomatoes, and other produce, would NOT have kept till last week if I didn’t get around to canning them.
- We left the state on a vacation during the time I originally wanted to do this job. I don’t think telling my husband that we couldn’t take a family vacation because I had to rake leaves would have gone over very well.
- I wanted it done MY way instead of accepting my husband’s offer to do it. MY way meant mulching them and adding them to the compost pile or locations around the yard. HIS way meant taking them to the curb for the city to vacuum up. Instead of acknowledging that I didn’t have a lot of time and that I should let my husband do it, I told him that I would get it done (the ‘right way’) and to not worry about them. Then I proceeded to spend the next 2.5 months feeling guilty about not getting to them. Not exactly worth it. In the end it went both ways, sort of. A lot of them did end up mulched and in my compost pile, but it was too full to add more. We hauled three loads in the back of my car (bringing mulch home). Then two large piles were added in two different locations in my yard, though not mulched. Not exactly like I had planned, but it finally got done.
After coming to all these conclusions, I came to another – it didn’t matter the reasons. What did matter was that I had judged someone else, without having the right to do so. Grace is what we are supposed to extend to others, not a judgmental attitude. I don’t know this family or the circumstances. It wouldn’t matter even if I did. More than likely we have all at one time or another been in the situation we are judging someone else for, and will be there again at some point in the future. Yet we feel justified or qualified to judge them.
There were some good outcomes from my pity party last week and deciding to declutter one thing a day, life has actually been going better on the home front.
- The leaves were raked and taken to the local yard waste disposal site, and mulch was added to some of my garden beds. (The place I took our leaves has free compost as well as random wood you can cut or take for burning. As a result they sometimes also have piles of wood chips.)
- Most of the lilac bushes are cut down and limbs removed from the yard; the stumps will have to be dug up when the ground thaws out.
- The room my husband made a comment about was picked up today and used as a ‘treat’ for the kids – a movie and snack in bean bags in the usually ‘off limits’ room.
- One of the items I decluttered and listed for sale is potentially sold.
- More items were decluttered from the house, including a few I was able to return to different stores. This resulted in about $40 in store gift cards.
- Going through old paint (from previous owners of this house) I found paints and stains I can use for different projects around that house that don’t need to be color specific –
- 2.5 gallons of stain we can use on our deck … in the Spring after all this snow is gone
- paint I can use as a primer in the large bedroom I want to paint (currently has wallpaper) as well as the attached stairway
- more paint that I was going to put in the yard sale pile but then realized I can paint the cabinets and wall in the garage, and the basement cabinets and stairs
So far taking things one at a time is really paying off. Alternating between small things and big helps keep variety in the endeavor. It gives me the large visual accomplishments I need to keep going (i.e. clean room) and the sometimes quick items that may be the only thing I have time for (i.e. getting rid of that unwanted Christmas ornament).
This upcoming week is going to be a bit simplified. My hopes for getting rid of stuff is high, but I am very much looking forward to spending time at home, enjoying my family. Today reminded me that I can be productive and still have fun. Shoveling snow became a game of “hit the snow Mommy throws on you” and picking up a room in dire need of attention ended in snacks and a movie. There were times when I honestly told them that their helping was making my job harder (trampling down snow before I could shovel it) and other times where I could channel their energy into a useful outlet (cleaning off the car while I shoveled the driveway).
- Get rid of one thing each day (Toss It, Sell It or Give it away) – ongoing
- Pick up kitchen each night – trying to form a new habit
- Make two vinegar pies
- Take basket of goodies to neighbor (check on elderly neighbor)
- Read 10 books to the kids
- Put empty canning jars away in storage totes
- Write book review
- Remove one section of wall paper
I think I’ll end there. If these things get done this week then I will feel good about how things went.
To keep track of my progress in decluttering, I have added an list on the right side of the screen. I will add to it as I go through each month.
What is one of your goals to accomplish this year? How are you working on it this month, this week?