Freshly mowed lawn

mown grass

I’m mowing the grass again this year.  After some years of outsourcing the care of the lawn to lawn services, I have resumed responsibility for it, much to the chagrin of my neighbor who owns the lawn service that I was using.  Although cost was a small part of my original consideration, my real incentive was the exercise.  You can’t hire out your exercise program, and believe me, I have tried.  I subscribed to Mark Twain’s feelings that the best way to handle the urge to exercise was to lay down until it passed.

I’m always amazed when I see pictures of myself, I am so much larger that the picture of me that is in my mind.  If I’d had any of this bulk when I was a kid, I would have played football, but I was a skinny little kid with my ribs sticking out, and confidentially, no athletic ability to speak of.

I am convinced that God gave us lawns to go with our homes when He saw that we are no longer hunters and gatherers.  My lawn mowing experiences since my restart have brought back things that I did not realize I was missing.  Monthly Boy Scout camp outs used to give me a connection with nature, but that has been a few years ago, so lawn mowing does put me in that outside environment again with some beautiful birds.  While I could complete the lawn in a single motion in my younger days, it now requires 2 – 3 rest periods, pleasant 15 minute periods when I can sit with nothing to do and enjoy the breeze and the smell of the freshly mowed grass.

Speaking of that smell, I know a family that gave “Dad” a candle scented as “freshly mowed grass” for Father’s Day.  No comment as to whether “Dad” really appreciated the gift.  One of my earliest memories as a child was my dad mowing the grass with the old rotary mower (it didn’t have a motor), and mom raking it together so a little Kurt could pick it up and put it in the bushel basket.  For Millenials, the rotary lawn mower has not been replaced with a digital version, it just has a motor now … and sometimes a seat … but a digital version is probably not far away.

So keep it simple and remember to enjoy all of life, even mowing the grass.

The Seventh Habit – Sharpen the Saw

I came upon a man in the woods cutting down a tree. He was tired and irritable and when I asked him how long he had been there, he replied “all day”.  When I suggested he stop and sharpen the saw, he said “I can’t, I’m too busy cutting down this tree.” 

Pointedly obvious in its conclusion, this little story provides an analogy to what is wrong in so many of our lives. It is the seventh habit of  Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  It is about renewing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

For me, the most difficult issue is the physical. My work is very sedentary (I’m an accountant), so there are not a lot of requirements physically. During tax season, I melt into my desk chair. In the past, my attitude has been like Mark Twain’s, “Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I just lay down until it goes away.”  As I approach 60, I realize what a toll it has taken on me.

So grateful for these days of Google, I found Mayo clinic’s web site on core strengthening exercises, and for the last forty-five days I have made a morning ritual of exercising. My body is not grateful that I have this new found passion after 57 years of letting it go, but it is slowly beginning to respond with some muscle tone and stamina. I started by gaining weight (it’s true that muscle weighs more than fat), but the last week has been somewhat more productive.

Still the issue is not losing weight, but strengthening my core. And I have found that as the core muscles strengthen, so does the support to many of the internal organs. Can we hear a collective “well, duh” from the medical community?  The point being that it’s never too late to elevate a neglected area of your life.

It’s an old corny cliche, but none the less it is still true, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  So whatever you are waiting for to start an exercise program, to read or listen to or study what improves your mind, to take steps to make that relationship with your spouse or child or parent or whomever better, to embrace the person that you find inside, let it begin today.