Five Minute Friday – One

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: ONE

Here’s the length and breadth and height and depth of my wisdom at present on how to live life when time seems short but things to do are relentlessly plentiful.

Do one thing at a time.

One thing at a time and I seem to get as much done as when I’m trying to spread myself between seven things all at once.

I remind myself of it, I write it in my diary, when my head is racing and my fingers and toes start twitching, “Just one thing” when I want to be doing all the projects and writing all the words and reading all the books and fixing up maybe fifty things in my garden and then theres washing to be done and phone calls to make.

But we’ll never do it all will we ?

And we can miss the best of it trying to. We can miss the simple beauty of a thing when we give ourselves to it, when it’s seen in a certain light, the soft corner, the subtle detail, faces, conversations, the kinds of thing you have to slow down for to soak in.

And it can be such a relief to let yourself do one thing at a time – fold the basket of clothes (always with a cup of tea at hand) or cook the dinner – stand and stir and taste and pour – or read the book (more tea) or pull the weeds (sheer therapy) or paint the chair or write the words or go to the meeting.

And let the other things be. Let them alone.

One thing at a time.

When you’ve a thousand possible things to do.

Wave the white flag and surrender.

Choose just one thing and then do that.

“Gripping, grabbing, grasping all feel like the only way forward when we’re terrified and vulnerable. We want to believe we have some kind of control. But our real strength is found in opening our hands. We say ‘Here God. Its all yours. Help me breath and begin again”. Leeana Tankersley

See what others have done with there five minutes here

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Five Minute Friday – Crowd

Five Minute Friday= prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: CROWD

Two’s company, threes a crowd

Except my front garden didn’t get the memo

Its wild and totally overgrown at the moment with fishbone fern that people still pay good money for in the shops, with agapanthus and seaside daisy and some other long reedy things that provide a bit of a screen from the road. They crowd in on one another – the more the merrier apparently and are only kept from going completely mad by the garden bed edging laid in a curvy romantic fashion by me years ago now.

There was nothing here when we came, sparse, tidy, a no nonsense perfectly respectable, make you want to weep it was so forlorn and boring front yard –  so this seems like an abundance, joyous almost and despite its waywardness it looks beautiful to me. Its hopeful, it makes me smile, relentless in its growing, gone a bit mad but better than nothing at all – better than all straight edges and lonely grass.

Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things up, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it gets  Bird by Bird page 28-29

I like the story it holds – one of redemption and rediscovery and it’s still being told. See I know whats under all that overgrowth –  theres a little path and a pond with four gold fish in. A fountain and a whole lot of rugged looking bush rock arranged to look nice that I rolled from the back yard to the front. A down hill journey I’m pleased to say. Yes underneath is the garden I made out of nothing years ago when money was scarce but time was plentiful . Plants grown from cuttings and other peoples throw outs or rescued from the roadside. Discards and misfits your welcome here.  And look what you’ve become. Look how you’ve grown.

I feel a bit like my garden at the moment,  stretched to the limits, messy, overgrown.  Its crowded at the moment, man it feels crowded –  thoughts mainly, too many thoughts and too much pressing in – but running around the edge like a long ago planted border that hems me in and holds me fast is hope, hope in His goodness and favour, gratitude too for a life that by anyones standards is a good life –  two children, a family – theres no question its gold. Theres fresh mercy every morning, a chance to begin again, theres untold grace, theres a good story being told.

Stretched to my limits maybe but the borders will hold.

To read what the other FMF crowd have done with there five minutes click here.

On Inch by Inch Garden Progress and Small Steps that Take You Places

I started this post with the idea of showing you a few of the recycled items I’ve repurposed in my back garden – junk pile gardening I thought we could call it. That was about three months ago now and my idea went pear shaped when I realised the extent of the mess going on in my back yard. There was no editing it out, there was no disguising it and then the need to keep things real around here got the better of me.

So here’s what I might have shown you had I stuck to the plan

Here’s what I wouldn’t have shown you.

Spot the difference?

Now if you have a garden you’ll know one thing –  if you turn your back on it for five minutes it gets away on you and any longer than that it goes completely mad. Weeds take over, things fall apart, the rabbits dig holes, the dogs chew stuff up and in the blink of an eye the grass is suddenly up to your knees and the bush growing against the back fence has taken over a third of the yard.

Its not the first time its got away on me.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out, looked around and asked myself

  1. How in heck did it get so bad so quickly?
  2. Who on earth lets there garden get in such a state? I do apparently. Me along with one husband, two kids, three chooks,  a couple of dogs, two rabbits, a guinea pig, a lizard and a pumpkin plant thats hell bent on growing under the fence from my neighbours yard and taking over mine.
  3. And thirdly how for the love will I ever ever pull it straight again. And do I have the energy? There’s no team of gardeners waiting in the wings, there’s no week off work to throw myself at it, there’s no  budget put aside.

So, after the initial shock and the “I should be ashamed of myself”  type statements theres nothing else for it but to do what I always do and that’s start where I am with what I have.

On that day it was about thirty minutes focused attention on one small corner of the yard, – yes start small on something easy I say –  and it happens every time that I’m always, always, ALWAYS !!!! amazed at what you can get done in a shortest space of time. And then you come back and do it again the next day or the next week or whatever you’ve got and you keep coming back to it and the shocking mess transforms itself into something not quite so shocking at all in the end.

I still go back to these words

 – – –  small steps will often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures.   Leeana Tankersley

Sometimes small steps are the only thing you can do when time and money, energy and ability and plain old priorities count the “grand gestures” out for the time being

– – – and sometimes taking one small step can seem like the grandest gesture of all.

Here’s what I did that first day in a small area between the far end of my back verandah and the side fence.  It was the least of my worries compared to the rest of the garden but it was a nice easy place to start.

Before

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During

We had some old fence palings that Ken had cut up for firewood  but I thought them better suited to garden edging.

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After

A bit more of a clean up, two bags of $3 wood chip, a good sweep and hose down and it’s looking not too bad. So nice to see my little paved area again too.

Doing one small area made me feel less overwhelmed and reminded me again of the value every single time of taking simple small steps. Small steps will get you on your way and nudge you closer to the transformation your looking for while grand plans and total makeovers are crying in the corner.

Heres what I love about small steps

  • there the ones I can do
  • they cost next to nothing
  • they don’t take long,
  • you can just use what you have
  • they keep the creativity flowing
  • they make me feel better, like I can do a thing or two
  • one step sheds light on the next step
  • they add up
  • they keep me moving forward
  • they get me further than I ever think they will

When you’ve lost the plot, feel stuck, in a funk, hemmed in, powerless to change, far from where you want to be. Take one small step (and the tiniest step will do), do something, start something, then take the next step and then the next one. Remember this gem.

Three months on where does that leave me with my runaway garden.

Making incremental progress and celebrating tiny victories thats where.

Twenty minutes here, an hour there, sometimes two hours on a Saturday afternoon but mostly less. It’s been slow but steady progress.

I’ve been putting off showing you though because I wanted to have some totally amazing AFTER photos to show you so we could all have a “tadah”  moment. Maybe a few of them. Well we may still have the odd one but this is me and we are a continual work in progress around here so what your far more likely to find are:

  • truly shocker before shots
  • in progress along the way shots
  • a whole lot better but not perfect shots
  • and a few “I’m happy with this for now till the grass starts to grow again” shots.

So the main area I worked on is along the back fence and dealing with the hugely overgrown bush in the corner. I planted it so I’ve no one else to blame.

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Now  I was sure I’d need some sort of brush cutter or front hoe or back hoe or whatever – something big and forceful that had a motor that could rip it out and chew it up. Well none of those were available on the Saturday afternoon I had a mind to tackle it.

But I did have these.

It took about an hour and a half and by the time I had cut away everything I could with these little snippers, which was very therapeutic and satisfying I might add, there wasn’t that much left of it at all.  I could see the corner of my yard that I hadn’t seen in years, I could see the state of our decrepit fence and I found a pumpkin ready to be picked.

At that point Ken arrived like the Cavalry with the chain saw and a ladder to do the final cuts that I couldn’t do with the snippers. That didn’t bode well.  A chainsaw, a ladder, a husband with a bung foot and a sense of balance not as good as it used to be – I could see it all unfolding, the nasty accident, the tourniquet, the ambulance.   Ladder was removed and big strapping son came out – yes covered shoes, gloves, protective eye wear – and saved the day. A few cuts with the chainsaw and it was done.

Remains of the  unwieldy shrub were now sitting on top of the trampoline and in other piles all over the yard and gradually over the following weeks as the greenery died off I had a series of lovely Saturday afternoon yard fires. All the dead and dying plants were removed from the fence line slowly along with the old pergola frame and all the old fence palings revealing the fence behind – sturdy and in one piece even if none too glamorous.

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We are talking two months later now cause it took a while to get through that mountains of offcuts but then a bit of a clean with the broom and two coats of charcoal paint later and she’s looking not too bad.

These from after I mowed what’s left of the lawns

And after a bit of rearranging of pots and benches and prettying up.

I  reused the old bricks I found laying along the fence line to cap the raised corner garden bed we hadn’t been able to get to for years.

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img_5584And the the old pergola posts were reused here to make a little garden bed

And here where I used the top beam to make a totally unnecessary but very grand entrance to our humble little chook yard. The two side posts were already there, we just had to even then up and add the top “trim”. I even moved my two sandstone urns to in front of the posts so my “arbour” looks even grander now.

A quick Before pic – doesn’t show the posts but they’re left and right of where I’m standing.

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And after

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So maybe it did turn out to be a post about junk pile gardening after all.

I share it with you – even the ugly bits – because this is my right now life and these are the small steps I can take right now to do something within the limits I have. The principle applies to any area of life not just crazy gardens and my hope as always is that it might encourage you in your “right now” life with your small steps.

I’ll be sharing a few more Before and Afters – the slow progress kind – from the other areas of the garden on Instagram over the next few weeks so take a peek there if you like. I’ve miles to go so there may be a few.

I’ll leave you with this. I recently ordered a book on writing. There was something about the title Bird by Bird that grabbed me – here’s where the author got that title

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

Amen to that xxx

Five Minute Friday – Way

Five Minute Friday= prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: WAY

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No way !!!!

Yes way

The first two words shout out big and bossy like they know all there is to know. Like they’ve decided and that’s all there is to it.

The second two are whispered but they’re determined, not easily put off, resilient, resourceful and they just might have a secret weapon up there sleeve.

I spend lot of my life trying to figure out a way to get a thing or two done around here. See when it comes to home projects it’s alway ALWAYS!! been a juggle of limitations of one or another. I’ll have plenty of one thing (ideas and hair brained schemes mostly) and a scarcity of another (money, time, expertise, teams of able bodied tradesmen). The size and shape of the limitation/s changes randomly. At the moment it’s mainly time. Now that I work full time I never seem to be home and being a homebody with a capitol H it presents all sorts of frustrations to my “have to have a project in the works” self. Seeing a few things done, making progress, keeping things fresh and moving adds enormously to my sense of well being. So not having a lot of time to do these things small or large, presents an ongoing challenge.

but I do like a challenge.

And there’s always a way.

There has to be a way.

(My five minutes ran out about here).

One way I’ve worked out to keep things moving along is to simply do smaller projects that don’t take much time. And when I say small,  sometimes they’re minuscule. Ten minutes sometimes. Half an hour to an hour at most other times. Works the same way. Small project done = enormous satisfaction = sanity saved.

Here’s a sample.

I also worked out long ago that a good way to get something done, especially something big is to break it down into smaller parts. Twenty minutes concentrated effort on one thing in succession is my favourite.

But

I think I might have taken this idea to the next level just lately. You’ve heard of “death by a thousand cuts”. Well this is finished project by a thousand tiny goes at it.

I have a lovely set of French doors leading out to my back deck. Photos below you can see them in the background.

They were given us for free by a client in Kens painting days. They’ve been installed here now a good long while. They’re solid and beautiful but they need a really good sand and oil to make them sing. Famous last words those and who in their right mind wants to or has the time available to sand down a set of double French doors. I do apparently. I decided I couldn’t bare looking at the water stains, the rough edges and greasy finger marks any darn longer.

The only way I could think of that was remotely within my capabilities is to do one teeny tiny section at a time, and because sanding is horrid I decided five to ten minutes a day is the most I was prepared to do it. I’m up to day number five – it’s my weekday project – (the back fence is my weekend project). Just before I leave for work, I put a cloth down, sand for five to ten minutes, wash my hands and go to work.

I have accomplices. Other like minded people egging me on.

It might be a while but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Any projects happening your way. Would love to here.

To read what other people have done with there five minutes click here.

Also joining in with Grandmas House DIY Link Up

Five Minute Friday – Stuck

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: STUCK

Now theres a word I can relate to.

“I feel stuck” is a phrase I’ll say all dramatically quite often – more often than I’d like –  to myself, to God, to anyone who’s bothered to ask or listen. It can often relate to bigger broader life issues (more drama involved)  but often it just relates to everyday what I’m doing around the house type things,  creative projects (there are many), my words, my writing – I get stuck between where I am and where I want to be and this struggle to move forward, to gain momentum feels like a common theme that I grapple with.

Sometimes its a “deer in the headlights” type stuck, a fear paralysis –  wanting so much to make the right decision that I can’t make any decision at all. Or it’s the result of wanting so much for the end result to be somehow perfect (like it ever will be) that I become immobilised. Or it relates to something put off for so long, that I’ve made such a big deal of in my head, any step forward seems inadequate.

The one thing I’ve learnt about “stuckness” though is that by putting one foot forward followed by another, and the tiniest foot will do  – you’ll find yourself moving forward even while your still feeling stuck. Small steps will get you moving – even  if feels like inch by inch at first – but your moving and that’s when things have a red hot chance of unfolding and becoming clearer. Simply put; your on your way and things look so much different from that vantage point.

I’ve written some words about the value of simple small steps that I’ll be sharing with you soon that were inspired by these words from  Leeana Tankersly.

 – – – small steps often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures.

A thousand times yes.

Grace follows every small step, every not giving up, every time we let hope  move us forward – grace follows, heaven cheers and thousands walk with us because thousands of ordinary people are taking small brave steps of their own.

Feeling stuck?

Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible  Francis of Assisi

Read what others folks have done with their five minutes here

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