I accidentally wrote a blog post, even though I’m on my summer break. (This year is weird.) I was sharing on Instagram about some amazing and unexpected help we received decluttering our front yard, and ended up writing a whole big thing.
I have big thoughts on this subject: help. I shared the first two “before” and “better” photos in a recent post. I wouldn’t call the third pic a Totally Done pic but it’s definitely an Oh My Word I’m So Excited All that Junk is Gone pic.
But I also have thoughts I need to share.
We had help. There are real machines to dig up rogue trees that grow up without permission and won’t even budge when you pull or dig or cry. (So rude.) There are also people who know how to use these (scary but awesome) machines.
We didn’t even know enough to be able to picture Tree Yanking Tractors. Because we didn’t know, we imagined the worst. The thought of ever getting that part of the yard under control felt impossible and made our stomachs hurt.
Then last night, a friend down the street who used to operate Tree Remover Thingies for a living borrowed the scary machine to dig up a few things in his own yard. Then he sent a text asking if we wanted him to come over to our yard and dig up some things.
I hesitate to mention this huge blessing because I know (because I’ve been there) that some of you are thinking “That must be nice . . . ” and “I wish someone would text me and offer to come solve my overwhelming problems.”
So I think it’s important to say a little more:
If I hadn’t been already working on my yard for the last two months, pulling and cutting and chopping and sweating day after day even though I had no idea what I was doing and was worried I could never make an actual difference, the magic of last night would never have happened.
I was making progress. Our friends saw us out there working. And they saw the difference.
This means they saw that we care.
I know it sounds harsh, but I’ve had to accept that it’s really hard to convince someone I care when they don’t see me work on changing the thing I say I care about.
I’m not saying they were withholding help until they saw we cared. I’m saying the visible difference we’d made caused them to notice we needed help.
Also, these are real friends. Some of our “do life together” people. So they know our hearts and what our strengths and weaknesses are so they feel free to offer help when they see we need it. Friendships like that take effort and time.
And last but not least, because I had already been working and sweating and digging and pulling for two months, I was ready to accept help.
This project was no longer an ambiguous and overwhelming Someday We’re Gonna Have To project I’d been actively ignoring. I knew exactly which things I wanted gone. I knew exactly where to focus this gift.
I hate to even admit this, but knowing myself, I’m afraid I would have said “No, that’s OK,” to the offer three months ago. I would have felt dumb about my own needs. I would have had no idea what needed to go and would have felt too intimidated at the thought of running outside and making quick decisions.
I would have been embarrassed and pretended I didn’t care about my yard even though I totally did.
So the moral of the story is to go ahead. Go ahead and do what you can even if you don’t know exactly what you should be doing. That will make you ready.
You’ll learn what it is you could hire someone to do or you’ll be ready if you get a miracle text like we did last night.
Go ahead and do something. Even if that something is the only something that happens, you’ll be better off than you were before. And better is good.
I love your insights. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t seem them before, but I certainly do see them now. Thank you for sharing with us.
Karen Wear says
I do think the guy operating the Tree Yanking Thingy was having fun using it. Partly, he was looking for reasons to keep having fun! My friend feels like that about her pressure washer – “ooh, what can we wash next?”
But your sentence, “I know it sounds harsh, but I’ve had to accept that it’s really hard to convince someone I care when they don’t see me work on changing the thing I say I care about.” is so very wise. Thanks for this great reminder! This was a wonderful post!
I have been working on the front planter at home for several months. I have finally managed to get rid of most of the plants. I still have some roots and weeds to get rid of. After that, I’ll put in some nice new plants. I am looking forward to shopping at the local nurseries to see what’s available. I have also pruned several trees in the backyard because the yard was such a mess.
I can identify with your blog post. I have been working on the front planter at home for several months. I have finally managed to get rid of most of the plants. I still have some roots and weeds to get rid of. I have also pruned several trees in the backyard because the yard was such a mess. I am anticipating having a nice yard to enjoy.
Stephanie Hanley says
This: “… it’s really hard to convince someone I care when they don’t see me work on changing the thing I say I care about.”
Ouch! That went straight to the heart… because I know you were talking about trees and clutter and stuff, but that sums up a lot of things, like relationships. I say this relationship is important, but if they don’t see me doing the work, do I really care? Are my actions showing that I care?
So much to ponder on. Thank you!
Dana, this was like a “loving slap up the side of the head” (the kind that only good friends or family can give you!) that I so needed to hear today. Thanks so much for sharing that insight “it’s really hard to convince someone I care when they don’t see me work on changing the thing I say I care about.” This applies to so many things in my life right now and very convicting.
Love your posts and love how real you keep it.
I’m so happy for you! Kinda like the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
With regard to “better is good,” I was just (re)reading your Decluttering at the Speed of Life book last night, and something struck me that I hadn’t noticed (or resonated with) before. “Like less, the word better was a game changer for me…My big ideas are sometimes so far from my reality…that I’m stuck doing nothing for a long time…My own big ideas can be the biggest contributors to my Decluttering Paralysis. Envisioning perfection inhibits more than it inspires.” I underlined and starred that last sentence.
I’ve been struggling with motivation to declutter (but I am still doing my dishes). Reading this helped me realize that my big ideas for my house have not just been inhibiting me, they’ve been paralyzing me. Better is good and decluttering for whatever amount of time I have DOES make (and has made) a difference. I know this — I’ve experienced this — but I didn’t realize it. I’m so glad you’ve put words to the ways the brains of people like us work!!
Thank you for the important reminder that it’s okay to accept help. Women especially are often conditioned to feel like we are supposed to be able to “do it all” and that asking for help is some sort of failure. It has taken me a long time to let go of that unreasonable and completely unhelpful mindset. I still struggle with it but I’m making progress.
Your post was rather timely for me and I feel like it’s a good time to talk about my experience. I recently was going to hire pros to help clean and declutter my kitchen and bathroom and before they arrived I did a lot of work throwing out stuff or taking it “home”. I even had a sign up that said, “If you were looking for an item, where is the first place you would look?” So whatever was left the pros would organize and clean. It didn’t happen – I will spare you the rant that explains why. But I had professional help lined up and after I stopped to think about it (at my husband’s urging) I realized I had actually gotten quite a bit done while making things ready for the pros. Initially I was feeling quite dismal about it. But my sister helped and I accomplished much more than I thought I could. I’m saying “I” and not “we” here because as far as my portion goes I did way more than I ever imagined I could. However, the end result is what we both accomplished working as a team. There’s definitely more work to be done but had I refused to accept help I would have made no progress. I feel like having company while doing the work helped me, maybe because I felt a little more positive about being able to make real progress. Or maybe having company helped distract me from the things that might normally have me stop before.
Accepting help and having company while cleaning and decluttering are likely the things that determine if I’ll ever get to feel relaxed in my own home. Unfortunately they are the very things that can be difficult to procure.
I’m clinging to the idea that if I were to continue to make an effort, this creates an energy that attracts what I need to succeed. Posts like this one inspire me to not give up.
Mary Molter says
I love the way you say things! So true about needing to do what we can. With the pandemic, I have been really unmotivated to do anything, but today I did wake up and tell myself, just do something you can. I had a telehealth consultation for our son to get his wisdom teeth out, scheduled the surgery, paid for the Cobra (since my husband retired recently), checked to see if we paid our new insurance, activated new HSA cards and credit cards, shredded the old, replied and questioned and received an answer (instead of stewing over) a thing going on at our church, and put everything away on the dining room table before dinner instead of putting it in another pile, went for a walk with hubby, and played a game with our daughter and son. And decided to order the housekeeping bundle because there were over 10 things I found interesting (and I didn’t use a calculator because that was close enough) and my sister sent me some money for my birthday so I don’t have to wonder if it’s okay to spend the money. And tomorrow I get to sleep in.