Working In The Garden

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I have used other people’s work on this blog. My time in the garden takes its toll on me and the result is a lack of energy left to write. My Lions Club work suffers also. Here it is the third day of summer, and I am still planting annuals in the 2013 Monet Vision. Hopefully, the plants will have enough daylight to survive and thrive before the first killing frost.

Spring came late for me because I spent most of it in Arizona. When I finally did arrive home, the temperatures in Illinois were much the same as what I had in February. The temperature reached 100 on the day we left. After spending three months in tee shirts and shorts, I suddenly found myself looking for warmth. Another delay occurred because my sister-in-law suffered a stroke shortly after we returned. We spent a good bit of time visiting with her and were at her bedside when she passed. Before I knew it, June had arrived and established itself before I pulled a single weed, bought flowers and even considered getting into the garden.

All of that stuff is over now, and I attack the Monet Vision daily with vigor, which runs out in a few short hours. So when I read a news articles like a Zombie, and it appeals to me, I re-blog or link with a minimum of personal expression. Hopefully, I select topics that appeal to my followers.

Being in the garden gives me time to think and to set goals. My list suddenly becomes almost impossibly long, but I will  take the goals baby step, by baby step and get the important things done. The Monet Vision is at the top of the list, next is blogging, third is work on my novel, and forth is the workshop. Oh, I completely forgot, Peggy fits in there too, and I also have to squeeze in a few moments for physical fitness like walking and bike riding. No, wait, I need to find time to spend with family and friends too. I can’t neglect personal relationships for mundane things like the workshop, blogging, and physical fitness. After all, imbibing Winking Owl with my old fart buddies takes precedence over everything else including Peggy(please don’t rat on me by telling Peggy I said that), and the Monet Vision.

Yesterday, it rained and I watched a Wabbit under the eaves eating bird seed dropped from the feeder. He looked familiar to me, but larger than the last time I saw him. Yes, it is the same Wabbit, it is Aga Bambi, last seen eating Petunias from the 2012 Monet Vision. Not a problem anymore, I’ll call the IRS and ask them to send a FBI drone over to keep the garden under surveillance. If the drones spot any signs of terrorist activity, they can tell me to take positive action.

The Man Cave Blocks a Writer’s Mind

I find my self in a horrible writer’s block. The ideas are not coming. Maybe it is because I am preoccupied with a building project in the Man-cave. I have had this project on the books for five years, and decided it was time to make it happen. Building a finished room is not easy for me. I watch the DYI programs and get the idea that building a complete house only takes thirty minutes to an hour. That is not the reality, especially if you are a one man contractor, carpenter, electrician, etc.

After my Lions Club projects wound down, I set the goal to complete the Man-cave by Thanksgiving. It would be simple; just take a simple baby-step everyday. The deadline for next Thursday is not realistic, but Christmas may be a reality. That is, if I don’t go overboard on decorating, both inside and out.

The man-cave is the final project in a series of projects that I envisioned when I moved into this house. Once it is complete, I will begin using my wood shop to do some intarsia art-work. I haven’t done an intarsia piece in ten years, but I still have the desire to create art from wood. A couple of my pieces are shown below. I also have  a burning desire to design and build  whirligigs. These clever devices combine woodworking with wind powered mechanical motion. Since the whirligig constitutes yard-art, the goal is to have one in place in my 2011 garden.

 

Dolphins

Winter Bear

In between all of this physical activity, I still take baby steps toward completing a new book titled “Nightmares from Obama.” Combine that with publishing a new serialized Christmas story for Grumpa Joe’s Place, and it is no wonder why Grandma Peggy feels like she is a widow again. All of these projects and self-imposed deadlines have me stressed out. No wonder I suffer writer’s block.

A single line from a hymn keeps running through my mind, “One day at a time sweet Jesus, one day at a time….”

Accomplishment!

Trees Over PacificSorry for the delay in writing new posts. I have been trying to catch up on my “other” projects. My Lions work has suffered through the pre-election days, and now I must put it in gear to give the Lions their due.

I find it useful at this time of the year to reflect and prepare an accomplishment report of my activities. I just completed one for the Lions Club. I will begin preparation of my personal accomplishment list soon. Why is an accomplishment list useful? When I worked for a living, the list served to remind me of what I had completed for the company. I had fresh recollection to remind my boss at “review” time just what I did for the company.

 Usually, at the end of the year, I beat myself up thinking that I have not accomplished any of my goals. It is natural to remain unsatisfied when the new year stares you in the face, and asks “what’s next?”  Disappointment takes over as the predominant emotion, and a feeling of despair follows. I begin to question why I wasted a year without any hard fast results to show off. That is why I began to list my personal accomplishments. It is encouraging to recall, and see all of the “baby steps” I did take, and all of the projects I did complete.

It is easier than you think to do this. Just sit in front of your computer, and start. I use the word processor, and begin by listing the first thing that comes to mind. Such as “I initiated a BLOG. I BLOGGED 85 times. I set up a new website for my club, etc. The list goes on for a couple of pages until I run out of recollections. I number each item on the list to give me an indication of progress. Usually, I don’t run out of ideas until I reach one hundred and fifty.

 If you chose to start a list of your own, I recommend that you include all the important areas of your life. I recommend using your “High Payoff” activities list for this. When you concentrate on how you spent your time in a specific arena, the recall flows, and your accomplishments build. Of course, if the list in a specific High Payoff activity is short, it points to an area for improvement.

By the time I have finished this excercise, I am energized and ready to begin planning another year of goals.

The Best “You”

Everyday, I try to do “something” that will make me a better version of myself. Sometimes the “something” is questionable, but it is “something.” It’s kind of like the Nike comercial, “Just Do It.”

One of my favorite people is Benajmin Franklin. He was always making lists of something that he could do to improve his life. He kept logs and journals to record his progress. I can’t refute that his life was not productive, it was, he is responsible for some of the world’s greatest inventions, (Daylight savings time, public libraries, etc.) Another guru in the world of Quality Control by the name of Joe Juran coined the phrase, “if you can measure it, you can improve it.” After forty years in product design, I can attest to his credibility with that one. Measurement is one key to making improvements.

In my own life, I keep logs, lists, and diaries of the goals that are important to me. Many of them have titles like “Dates With Peg, Theaters visited,  People to call, and People to Pray For.”   The lists remind me of my goals to improve in various areas of my life. One of my favorite motivational speakers is Matthew Kelly. He introduced me to the phrase, “Make yourself the best version of yourself that you can be.” I love it. The challenge does not imply that you should become the best in the world but rather the best you are able to become. Is that being too easy on yourself?  Certainly, one can always set the bar a silly millimeter higher. Just think, if a person makes himself a little better today than he was yesterday, how much better would he be in 365 days, or in ten years, or in a lifetime? The object is to make the goals and take the steps, baby steps, toward self improvement.

The Funk Rules Negative People

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerWow! It seems like forever since I last posted. So much has transpired. The baby steps have been ticking off faster and faster. In spite of all the positive activity toward my goals I have been stricken with a slight case of depression. My self-esteem is low, and that always is the result of depression. Some little thing triggered me into a funk. The funk is over, I’ve survived and now it’s time to BLOG again. How did I get myself out of the funk? Well first there is work. Good hard physical work. Thank God, I can still do physical work. That meant taking many baby steps in the garden. In the past week I planted about forty perennials around the pond. I added annuals, and planted seed too. All of it is doing fine except for the few plants that the rabbits are bothering. Two of my most expensive perennials being native hibiscus are being munched on by the rabbits. They gave up on the rose of sharon, and are now on tastier plants. If you are old enough to remember Elmer Fudd, and his ongoing battle with Bugs Bunny, you will understand how I must proceed with the critters. Unfortunately, my dear Peggy is an animal lover, and she will prevent me from openly taking a shot at the furry creatures. I’m a poor shot anyway.

A friend stopped by last week and deposited ten good size goldfish into the pond. We can now see fish from our kitchen window, whereas before, the little guys were invisible. Everyday, Peggy and I throw a handful of fish pellets into the water to feed them. I want to train the fish to come to us when we approach the edge of the water.

Another powerful tool for getting ot of the funk is to pray. I pray every night before retiring. I coax my sub-conscious into bringing me only good health, great stories, and abundance. Included is a request to help a bunch of people who need it. In the morning, when I walk, it is  another opportunity to pray and speak to God. I can’t walk without praying. It’s a habit I developed over the last seven years.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the endorphins begin to kick in and the funk begins to disappear.

Today, I wrote a letter of introduction to my new writing instructor. Yes, I signed up for writing school. Hopefully, my style will improve and I will get as good as the really fluid writers on the blogs I visit. Man are they good. I admire people who can write their thoughts clearly, concisely, and in a completely understandable way . They amaze me. How can some writers be so descriptive with their words and others like me are complete klutzes. Do you believe this, I’m writing myself into a funk just by giving someone unknown to anyone an “atta boy.”

I am not a klutzy writer, I do well. Even though others can write rings around me, I must concentrate on the positive in my life and not dwell on the negative. The negative, “or dark side,” can quickly envelop the id and predominate. We have to learn and practice being positive every moment of our lives. Being positive is much more fun than being negative. Funk rules the negative person.

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