Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I realize the calendar still says February, but when I have to mow and spray around my barn every two weeks to keep the grass from overtaking the ranch, my thoughts turn to spring. I do enjoy spring, or at least the concept of spring. The green grass, the almond blossoms, the sight of wobbly-legged newborn foals, calves and lambs. I love these things, I am less enthusiastic about the mud.

Some people dream of buying a summer house on the beach when they win the lottery, not me. I am going to buy one hundred truckloads of gravel to make sure every square foot of my place that isn't lawn, driveway, or pasture is buried beneath six inches of crushed rock. Our back entry, or mudroom as we like to call it, is cluttered with the family's mud covered "outside shoes." Eventually, we will put our outside shoes away when the seven-day forecast shows a lot more pictures of the sun than it has pictures of rain. Until then, watch your step coming in the back door.

I started my spring cleaning a little early this year. I was finding pieces of scrap wood in my barn when I grabbed a rotten plank of wood flooring and pulled it up. Big mistake. I pulled on the next one and it came right up too. Two hours later, I had taken a twenty by twenty foot section of forty-year-old floor out of my barn. I didn't mean to, but some of best work happens by accident.

Isn't it funny how when we get in "cleaning mode" it is hard to stop. Once I get dirty and have a head of steam, watch out. If it isn't nailed down or painted, it might get thrown out.

I often wish I could do this in my personal life. I sometimes think about the things I do out of habit, or just because that is the way I have always done them, and I wonder if I could change them. I think about all the stuff that clutters up my time, my thoughts, my energy and my life. I ultimately conclude that I could use a good spring cleaning myself.

I am guessing at one extreme, I could spend all my time in deep contemplation, thinking about God and the universe, and how big He is and how small I am in comparison. It would not be wasted time to be sure, but I am not going to do that, and I know it. At the other end of the spectrum would be watching Olympic curling on TV. I actually spent thirty minutes watching grown men slide a polished rock on the ice, and steer it with little brooms, in a game of frozen shuffleboard. I will never get those thirty minutes back.

I have found audio-books and podcasts to be a great way of using the hour I spend in the car every day to keep my mind busy with useful information or inspiration. I am trying to read more these days, and to continue writing. Sometimes I write a blistering rant about something that has twisted my tail that day, but then when I am done, I read one more time, and then delete it. Anger is another thing that clutters up my life. I have to work on it constantly or like the weeds around my barn, it will take over.

I have also come to the realization that I need to clean up my calendar by way of reducing some on my commitments. Not that the organizations I volunteer my time to are not important, they are, but I need to focus my attention on one or two and pull back from the rest. Being stretched a mile wide leaves you an inch deep. That is not how I want to serve.

Maybe one quiet evening this week I will get out one of my notebooks and write down two columns. One side being the things I can throw out. The other side, things I need to concentrate on, to make me a better me. A better idea would be to have my family fill out the columns; I will bet their lists would be a lot different.

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