October 20, 2015

Pulling Weeds

No, not the ones in my yard, though I have plenty of them. I am thinking of the weeds in my life I need to pull out and discard. Just like the type in a yard, these "weeds" tend to grow and multiply if not removed as soon as they appear.

Experts say there are approximately 1,000 different plants that are accepted as weeds. The good news is I don't think I have that many personal ones to worry about. The bad news is that when I notice a problem, it has already put down pretty substantial roots.

A few examples? I could start with anxiety. I mean the common garden variety of worry or apprehension about something that did happen, is happening, or may occur. That could include remembering mistakes in judgement or approach during my working days that caused my business to suffer. If I could just go back and react differently!

It might be silly or hurtful arguments with Betty that served no purpose. After my heart problems a few months ago, an earache that won't go away, and an overall dip in energy caused by some of the new medication, I find the weeds of anxiety over my health growing unchecked. Does the anxiety make any of this better? Of course not.

Even though I maintain a self-image of being rather tolerant and without obvious prejudices, I often catch myself making statements about people or situations that are hurtful or simply wrong. As much as I find various forms of labeling others to be counterproductive, I commit the same sin much too often. The weeds of being judgmental or biased grow out of sight until they are exposed by the bright light of an action or thought.

Too much of my life is given over to the weeds of settling, that is settling for less than I should.  As I get older, I find it much too easy to become lazy. If doing something is hard or time consuming I am becoming an expert at rationalizing why I should wait, or skip the activity completely. "I will deal with it tomorrow or next week" is not a good habit to develop, but it is especially disappointing as the birthdays seem to fly by more quickly each year. Hence my adoption of a more set schedule for my day that I wrote about last week. At this point, I need more structure. 

What about follow through? That would be a close relative of settling. I have started, stopped, and restarting playing the guitar at least half a dozen times. While playing I enjoy making music. But, at some point, I find an excuse to put it aside. When I see the guitar sitting in the corner I tell myself this time will be different. I will keep playing. But, I don't. There is now a time on the daily calendar to help with this set of weeds.

A slacking off on my physical conditioning and regular exercise are weeds that I pull constantly, only to find a fresh batch has grown unnoticed after a few days  or weeks of skimping on my gym attendance. There is a direct correlation between physical health and quality of life. I know that yet those pesky weeds are still there.




What weeds need to be pulled from your life?

What are we waiting for?


18 comments:

  1. Bob, my own list of issues is so long and varied that it's embarrassing. When I talk openly w/family and friends, we find most of us are fighting similar weeds in our lives. That doesn't mean we can sit back and let the weeds take over. The only thing that has consistently helped me is my faith. If I'm honest, the root of my problems is fear and selfishness. I hate that, because I know better, but I struggle. Thank goodness for forgiveness and second chances. Sometimes I wonder if our expectations are realistic, i.e., since we're older, we think we should have overcome most of our shortcomings. It takes courage to look deep inside.

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    1. It does seem that it should have become easier by now, doesn't it? But, that is definitely not the way God designed it. We are destined to strive to improve until the day we die.

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  2. Oh Bob as usual we share many of the same weeds. But then again I think maybe many of them are "guy" things. One of my biggies is that I tend to judge people without the necessary info. I jump to a conclusion without the knowledge to do that. Many times my conclusion is not vocal but just in my mind but it is still there.

    But there are some things that might be considered weeds by you but not me. It doesn't bother me that I don't read as widely as I once did. I kind of figure what's the point? Can I use this info in the time I have left on this earth? If the answer is no then I quickly skip the topic. Sometimes you have to just do what feels right for you. Especially when it doesn't affect others.

    I have never been much of a lawn guy. I know in Arizona lawns are a luxury to many but to those of us in the Midwest they are just a fact of life. My lawn, like my life is full of what some call weeds but to me they just are part of the diversity of my landscape. Maybe we should think like that for some of our personal weeds as well.

    Be well my friend....

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    1. Weeds as diversity....that is a comforting thought.

      Hopefully, at least the things I see as weeds in my life are worth working on. To your point, as we age (and hopefully mature) some things we used to care passionately about no longer make the grade. They aren't worth the effort to 'weed" or "nurture."

      BTW, our winter lawn is being put in tomorrow. The bermuda grass that does so well in the summer is replaced by winter rye for the period from now until early May when the bermuda starts to grow again. Bottom line: I have the potential for weeds year round.

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  3. A thoughtful note,today,Bob.I hope you're not being too hard on yourself! Yes, I relate to many of your weeds..I am not consistent enough with exercise,I fall back into overwork patterns when stressed,and I don't give my art work and crafts the time I thought i would when I retired. I am beating myself up over the decisions we made in our first retirement year than did not pan out. Thinking I "should have" known.. now, it's taking a lot of effort and energy do do a life re-do and get settled into a NEW version of retirement. A few small health issues give me pause.. and I also have some anxiety weeds.. Seems as if we humans have a lot in common! I try to read from a spiritual book daily, I write in a gratitude journal, and I am just trying to be easier on myself as I experiment with this next phase.. life is so full of surprises. I admire your honesty and am glad you're back blogging. A health scare often prompts us to do a life re-eval. You know, we have so many more options that the generations before us....

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    1. You and Ken went through quite a journey over the last few years but have arrived at the proper place....for now! I would guess there will be more adjustments and realignments over time. That is the way retirement works when we let it. The real problems come when we insist that our life MUST be the way we had planned it or arranged it, That is not a course of action that usually leads to happiness.

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  4. Nice self-reflective piece. I find myself getting lazier and lazier about taking care of my house and yard. On the other hand, aren't home repairs and grass cutting just other names for weeds? So, maybe I'm alright with that. (Or am I just being lazy?)

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    1. You and I are have similar ideas. I can justify laziness quite easily, or hire someone to handle the chores I find unpleasant and then not think about it.

      What bothers me is that life isn't supposed to be without weeds. When I go out of my way to avoid them I am avoiding life (I think).

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  5. Sometimes I'll find myself fretting over where my life might be now IF I had made different choices for myself in the past--choices which MIGHT HAVE been better for me in the long term than choices I actually did make. For example, what if I had married Mr. X, instead of staying unmarried and so now I might have a "companion" to grow old with, or what if I had stayed with Job Y and earned a fat pension, instead of bailing out for a no pension job and how having to live much more modestly. These thoughts come when for whatever reason I feel some malcontentment about my life. I have to keep repeating to myself somewhat tritely that I can't undo or remake the past, and that whatever I am to make of my life now and in the future that I have to begin with the status quo--and build on it in the best way possible. A similarly retired friend of mine recently faulted me for spending my time studying, usually in Coursera, various science courses because she said she couldn't do that herself unless the knowledge was going to be useful or productive in some way. I did have the spine to write back to her and say that while "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow" is behind me now, that I am very comfortable with "Do What You Love" and IF something follows fine, and IF something doesn't follow, fine as well. In this example, and others, such as trying to keep a more meticulous lawn, or updating my wardrobe even, I've been taking myself as much as possible out from underneath the social eye, or the critical eye of others, and trying to live what is pleasant and rewarding for myself, regardless of other's opinions. I still mow my own yard, and I like the look when it is freshly cut, but I don't let my neighbor's angst bother me, if I let it go a bit either! Still sometimes I worry even about this though because a common criticism of older persons is that they socially and personally "let themselves go," i.e they don't keep house, don't bathe or wash their hair even, or don't eat right, or get out and do anything at all except vegetate! Anyway, weeds is an interesting topic. As Voltaire wrote in Candide, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin" (“We must cultivate our garden”).

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    1. "Do What You Love" and IF something follows fine, and IF something doesn't follow, fine as well - is a powerful statement, and so true. That freedom we have to try something on for size and then keep it, adjust it, or discard it, can't happen as often during our working years.

      Sometimes, the tendency to "letting themselves go" may be the result of a medical or mental issue. While not always true, if we become aware of someone we know starting to do the things you listed, it would be good to check and make sure there is no underlying cause. if not, then not washing one's hair for a period of time is a rather minor infraction in the game of life!

      Good thoughts, B.E.

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  6. Hi Bob, Even though I'm in month two of being retired I get that "structure thing." Instead of structure I would substitute with the word discipline. Since we have time when not working, there's less of a sense of urgency to get things done. There's always tomorrow or the next day or the next day and so on. But now in our 60's our days and time here is measured by longevity. So, that being said we should "discipline " ourselves to get some "thing" done each day that we enjoy or that brings joy to others.

    My "work life" is behind me now and I enjoy getting up and greeting each day as a blessing. You just never know when the next crisis will happen and we are not in control when or where it may occur. I play drums and have a set in the basement. I should practice more and walk past the kit every morning, but lately I've been listening to a lot of music and keying in on what the drummer is doing. This has inspired me to play along with what I hear to keep the mechanics going. Maybe that will work with you playing the guitar. When I'm walking our dog I stream music through a blue tooth speaker like Diana Krall. It gets me going and makes the walk enjoyable and a good walking tempo too!

    So, if you don't hit the gym. Go for a walk with some music or ride your bicycle with some music. You'll find it's very therapeutic and will get you enthused to practice or accomplish other things you have planned for the day.

    Like the Nike slogan, just go " Do it" and not procrastinate! Have a great day,

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    1. The word discipline works just as well to express the need to not let things slide. Right now, I am relaxing after my wife and I replanted a half dozen pots on the back porch, getting it ready for pleasant fall and winter days outside. I had put off this chore for almost a week due to family commitments and a period of rain, but boy, does it feel good to have it done and see how great it looks.

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    2. I recall pictures of the beautiful back yard you and Betty designed in your Scottsdale home..I am looking forward to some pics of your new place.. I need some backyard ideas.We are re-landscaping, making the Gilbert house our perfect nest after a couple of crazy years!!!! Ken still having to tie up loose ends with a business he started in Pine, lots of driving up and down,still.Hope in the next few months things get simpler again! Gardening= therapy!!

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    3. Good idea. As the yard progresses I will post a few photos. We are keeping it simpler than the last house but will still be a relaxing oasis.

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  7. Sounds to me like you're expecting yourself to have the same operating principles you did before you retired. And as much energy and motivation. Those are hard expectations to live up to.

    I suspect our bodies need time to recover after "episodes" and somehow they persuade us to take it easy.

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    1. You may be right, Linda, though the activities and pace with which I want to accomplish them is much different from my working days. I relish my relaxation but am not content to allow that to consume too much of my day.

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  8. Great post! Thank you, yet again. This year has been eventful for us: Karl's health issues, issues with home repairs (procrastination in the past cost us quite a bit of money in May) and life as usual. I'm suddenly realizing how busy I've let myself become again; when I'm so busy I am always thinking I should be doing something else, no matter WHAT I am doing, there's a problem! (too bad I can't see that BEFORE it gets to that stage!)

    I love the comment about slipping back into overwork because of anxiety; I never thought of it that way, but that may be a piece of why I so consistently overbook myself.

    A friend of mine once said she loved volunteering but when she did too much, the "infrastructure" of her life (i.e. an organized home, exercise, eating well, etc) didn't get done. As I'm looking around at a messy house, I relate!

    Thanks again for coming back to blog! so glad you are doing better.

    pam

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    1. Maybe like minds thinking alike: I will have a post about infrastructure in a week or so, detailing some of the details about my next book.

      I am feeling no ill effects from the heart issue a few months ago. In fact, I have lost about 8 pounds. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Pam, and wish Karl all the best.

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