Digging in the Earth

There is something so satisfying about digging in the earth.  Something so wonderful about planting something beautiful or useful or good.  Something so good about creating.

Lately we’ve been doing a lot in our yard.  It started with the woman running across our lawn.  It needed to be fixed…so we fixed it.  But once we started fixing one thing, we realized how much nicer it would look if we did this…and that…and maybe this too….

It should be said that when I say “we”, I actually mean “mostly Jason, but me a little”.  My main jobs have been to cheer and encourage and get tall glasses of ice water so Jason wouldn’t pass out while shoveling dirt in the mid-day sun.  My other job has been to create and maintain the potted herb garden on our porch that Jason has very little (absolutely no) interest in.

Our yard has made a complete transformation this year.  It’s suddenly this wide open, completely lush space.  It’s actually the NICEST lawn on the street.  It’s a bit more manicured than I usually like….but give it a few years for the new plants to spread and flourish and it’ll take on that “Secret Garden” feel that I like.  Yesterday, while discussing the backyard (which, oddly, we’ve done absolutely nothing to) I was thrilled to hear Jason use the word “sanctuary”.  It makes me feel like someday our house will be nothing but flowers growing wild and beautiful.

As much as Jason doesn’t care, I am so completely, nerdily, over the top PSYCHED about the herbs that I’m growing.  I’ve wanted to do it for years.  Every spring I’d think about how cool it would be to plant something (besides the random houseplants that we occasionally replant).  I’ve always thought that it would be cool to grow something useful like fresh herbs.  That way I’d finally be able to make those gourmet meals that I’d been meaning to whip up.  Yeah.  But, as with a lot of things, I’d always completely procrastinate.  I was intimidated.  I had no idea what I’d grow or how they were supposed to be planted.  For some reason, I also felt like once I missed my window in the spring, I’d never be able to grow anything  (Um, it’s not like I was planting a garden in the ground or anything).  

So, one Saturday morning, when the kids woke up early and I was trying to let Jason sleep in, I packed us all up and went to Lowe’s.  I already has that giant pot that was plastic, but looked like terra cotta.  I bought soil and 4 plants- dill, cilantro, mint & basil.  Within a week, the dill, cilantro & mint had taken off (the basil got a little too cold and never really grew, more on that later).  The pot is on my porch right next to the front door and every time I walk in or out, I smile.  The greatest feeling came when I was making dinner last week and needed some mint….and I went outside and CUT IT FRESH.   

It’s made me so happy that yesterday, when Jason started formulating the plan for our next project (which, no joke, was accomplished because we were BORED), I tagged along and bought more herbs.  This time I bought oregano, stevia (which I didn’t even know they sold) & another basil (try, try again).  So, last night, after hours on the latest flower bed (that I DID help with…I planted 5 of the 8 plants and with Georgia clay that’s no small feat), I planted my herbs.  I was sore and exhausted from the yard (yes, I did more that just planting), but I sat on my porch in the cool night and gave my plants new homes.  I replaced the shriveled basil with stevia, mostly because it looked sturdy and seemed like it could hold its own with the spreading mint & cilantro.  The basil & oregano each got their own pot.  And now, with a fledgling jade plant that’s trying to grow, I’ve got the most perfect line of mismatched flowerpots on my railing.  It makes me happy just to look at it.  After I arranged everything, I sat there and stared…almost waiting for everything to grow. 

I felt weirdly relaxed after all of that.  Actually, I’m feeling weirdly relaxed after WRITING about it.  I don’t want to whine, but I don’t have a particularly relaxing job.  Although it DOES occasionally afford me the time to write in a blog (cough, cough).  Maybe all those obsessive gardeners have something….

I’ve felt this relaxed, earthy “shift” lately.  I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be (take that as you will..).  And that place is feeling the earth under my hands and knowing that I’m connected.  More to come…..



I’m on fire!

You would not believe how much I got accomplished today.  Seriously, with no kids around I flew through everything I needed to do.  Well, I flew through a lot.  If I hadn’t taken a break and screwed around on Twitter, etc between each task, I would have done EVERYTHING. 

Cleaning went ridiculously fast.  I would set out to do something, unload the dishwasher for example, and I’d do it.  No pulling Z off the door or finessing knives out of his hands.  No telling cleaning up a cup of spilled milk and wiping a 4 year old bum.  I just….DID it.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t give that other stuff up for the world (well, except the wiping…I could do without that).  But WOW it was nice to get something done on the first pass.  So then, when I finished, I’d look at the clock and only 10 minutes would have gone by! (Which led to the screwing around on the computer, but that’s another topic). 

Sometime in my 4 years of mothering, I’ve become a lot more efficient.  It’s probably the fact that I have to do everything in quick little spurts to save time for the “incidentals” (i.e. cleaning/saving/distracting the kids).  It’s like those athletes who train at high altitudes and then compete at sea level and are completely unstoppable .  I’ve trained with the extra weights on, and when they’re not a factor I’m on fire! And I’m so used to doing certain things over and over and over (picking up the living room), that when I do it once and it stays that way, it’s a little shocking.

I say this all like my house is perfect.  It’s so not.  But for the time that I devoted to cleaning/cooking/household errands, I rocked the house. 

Then I went and read a magazine in the sun (Hey, I’m on mom-cation!)

The Order of Disorder

I’ve been weirdly productive lately. I guess I shouldn’t complain. Somehow I’m accomplishing a lot and feel like everything else in organized in a way that indicates that it WILL be done soon. In the last 3 days, I cleaned out the refrigerator, cleaned the kitchen & dining room, picked up every room upstairs (still need to vacuum), went through all of Z’s clothes and brought out the next size up, organized the hand-me-downs to give to 3 different friends, bought supplies for & planted a potted herb garden, bought a carseat for our nephew, renewed a magazine subscription & mailed a birthday card to a friend (on time!). I also took the kids to the library, bought 5 really cool books at the book sale, found a book on CD and loaded it onto my Itunes (which I’ve been listening to for the last day). In the next few days, I plan to grocery shop (to restock the fridge), vacuum the upstairs, clean the garage a bit & go to the aquarium with a friend. I’d also like to go to Kohl’s to use a giftcard and buy some makeup and perhaps a flashy outfit for a dinner out this weekend. How did I suddenly become so efficient?

Ironically, I think it’s all because I’ve been reading this book about how a bit of mess & disorganization can be good. A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, how can you not love that??? It seems counterintuitive, but the book’s main point is that keeping things in a perfect order, keeping things organized and having a plan, wastes time and energy, thereby making it difficult (or for me, impossible) to ever get anything done. You could say that I’ve found my bible.

When I found the book on the Clearance table at a Barnes & Noble in Burlington, I thought it would be a funny book to have on my bookshelf. You know, among the mess. I loved the cover with its slightly askew lampshade. It was marked down to $5.95, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose.

Let me be very clear about this……I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

It’s smart and logical and cites numerous sociological studies. It refers back to brilliant people through history and illustrates the “habits of highly effective people” (literally). It’s a book that I find myself exclaiming “Yes!” while reading. As I read it, I think about how much the theories really do relate to me….not in an ignorant “I need an excuse” way, in a calm “I’ve finally found my bee people” way. Basically, if you stop trying to “order” everything, and just let things go a bit, an organic order will develop….and it will fit better with YOUR system and nature….thereby making your work more efficient. This has to do with tasks, objects, schedules…even thoughts.

When people see the book or hear me talking about it, they roll their eyes and say something cute like “Oh, does this give you an excuse?” Well, luckily, they don’t need to read it. All I know is that instead of spending the weekend constantly cleaning the living room, which immediately gets messed anyway, as I usually do, I accomplished everything else.  I accomplished things that I didn’t even know that I had to do.

How can you argue with that?