I just went outside for some of what I like to call “dirt therapy”. I get to put my hands in some dirt, connect to my Earth, appreciate my flowers, listen to the birds sing, feel the warmth of the sun, and get out all the frustrations from every other annoyance that I have endured this week by beating the crap out of something with a hoe.
I was just wrestling with a rose bush, and Poison was right, every rose does have its thorn. I remember seeing the tiny little rose bush starting to come up in the garden and thinking that roses are beautiful and it would be nice to have some there. But then I turned around for a moment and it had grown across the garden and up the tree. I needed to clip out huge sections with quite a bit of effort and pain. It kind of reminded me of parenting, and home ownership, and healing. So, the perfect reflection for a Sustainable Solutions for Healthy Homes blog.
In parenting, we need to constantly be thinking ten steps ahead, but also thinking of all the possible paths and implications of each of those, so more like a complicated multi-tasking matrix or flow chart or concept map that is constantly running in the background of every little decision. But, most of us learned the hard way that if you think an issue is cute like a baby rose bush, when you come back to it, you find that it has grown unmanageable. I recently noticed this about the bedtime schedule, which on one busy day with late activities, I let them stay up 15 minutes past bedtime, which then grew to half an hour. Then one day when I was really exhausted and had finally sat down for a moment, I didn’t feel like getting up to do the toothbrush battle, and it became a full hour later which has now somehow become their new bedtime and if I even suggest the previously routine bedtime I am clearly the meanest mom ever.
In home-ownership, any real estate agent or home inspector will tell you that water is the biggest enemy of any building. If you don’t notice a leak or water damage or mold when it is small and manageable it will grow and become a huge problem. There are many routine maintenance projects that you can do that are quick and affordable and easy. But if you get busy, with something like parenting, you can get behind without even noticing. And then one day when you find that you have slept for more than 4 hours and you look at your house with clearer eyes, you realize that the small project has now become a big, scary, expensive project.
In our physical health and healing, we need to listen to what our body is trying to tell us when the symptoms are small and whispering at us. If we wait, then the symptoms get bigger and louder until we pay attention. They are kind of like toddlers saying “mommy, mommy, mommy” in that way. They start off quiet and cute and grow into screaming monsters. They call for attention in little ways, like “hey, it hurts when I bend like that”…but you ignore it and keep going, because there is too much to do. Then you find that you are putting some muscle cream on it, maybe taking a pain killer, and then all of a sudden it screams “no more” and you are stuck in bed for two weeks.
So I try to learn from my mistakes, and this year I went out and tackled the little baby weeds when they are cute and little and easy to pull out of the garden beds. I got the whole garden done quickly, and I did it early enough in the season that it is not oppressively hot yet. I am going to catch up on my home improvement and maintenance projects. I am going to come up with a really awesome new bedtime routine. I am going to listen to my body and hydrate and rest as needed. I have high hopes that I will keep being smart and proactive.
Okay, full disclosure, I am feeling really great about all this because I have a few extra hours this week because a class that I teach at the community college ended for the semester. I am sure that this amazing feeling will last at least until the kids are out of school for the summer. Then all bets are off. Oh wait, did you say concerts and field days and end-of-year picnics? Oh, no. Never mind.