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In the Weeds: Using the Proper Tool

Monday, August 13, 2012

I am not always great at using the proper tool. Sometimes I insist on using something that will take longer in the long run, or not do as good a job, just because I know how to do it. Like way back when, 22 years ago now, when I wrote out each wedding invitation by hand because I couldn't face the thought of going to a print shop and figuring out how to do it the right way. It was an interesting experience. A lot of people said "wow." A lot said "Really? All by hand?" A few even hired me to address envelopes for their weddings.... Funny thing is, not one person said "what a great idea!"

A calligraphy pen was the wrong tool for the job. But I was too stubborn--and scared--to use the right tool. I should have asked a friend to help me out--but back then I was really, really weak in the asking for help department. I'm happy to say I'm much better at asking for help... when I can identify that I *need* help.

I've had a lot of different tools along the path to greater health and fitness. At some stages, the only tools at my disposal were calorie counting and exercise tracking. Slowly but surely I've been expanding my repertoire, so that I can include things like evaluating my hunger levels, and deciding my exercise for the day based on how I feel, as well as where I'd like to make progress... I now have tools like re-dos, for mentally practicing how I would have liked to have handled a situation. And pre-dos, for mentally practicing how I'd like to be in an upcoming situation. And the more tools I have, the better I am at knowing which one to use when.

Which brings me back to my yard. Well, my yard, and the green area between our property and the next house. I've been slowly clearing out underbrush, taking out weeds, but leaving things like sage bushes (which are pretty *and* useful). One day, the contractor working on the house-in-progress behind us suggested I should just hire a tractor (his, by preference, I assume) to plow it all under. Another neighbor hired someone to come with power tools to cut everything back--and asked if I wanted them to do our side, too. Much more finesse than a tractor, but still lacking in... something.

I stuck it out, using basic clippers of various lengths. It is very slow going. It is very inefficient. It is... well, really, I'm using the wrong tools for the job. ***If*** the job is just to clear out the yard.

But I had a goal beyond the goal of clearing out the weeds. My goal was to develop the habit of getting out there once or twice a week, and working in the yard. And you know what? My first "In the Weeds" post was over a month ago. I have consistently been out in the yard, once or twice a week, making progress.

If I had just hired someone to go out there with a weed whacker, the yard would be clear--but I would not have developed this habit. And the truth is, I don't really want this habit because I want to be the one trimming the weeds. I want this habit because I want to have a vegetable garden. I want to know that I have the habit of going out back and taking care of things.

And you know what? Even if the clippers were not the proper tool for clearing the weeds, they were perfect for teaching me consistency.


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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 8/14/2012 5:53AM

    Oh dear. You keep reminding me that I need to get outside and weed my garden. I don't know if that is a good thing because I really just don't have time (or rather I'd rather do other things with my time!) and now I feel guilty again!

Wait...it is a metaphor?

Whew. Saved!

Have a great day Lisa! emoticon

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MANDELOVICH 8/13/2012 6:55AM

    I love the metaphor...it seems to me that you are savoring the journey, not just trying to "get it done" - be it clearing your weeds in your actual garden, or the weeds of your life (weight and probably other struggles). I admire this greatly because life is all about the process, and so often I'm hurrying to get somewhere, get something done, but then I'm there and what? Enjoying the process in a relaxed way (there it is again - you being relaxed) is so important.

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