Despite what the picture depicts there has been no natural disasters here. Just four years of bare minimum yard work taking place in this pathetic outdoor space. No passerby would even suspect there were two nature loving fools living within these walls, unfortunately, we enjoy the nature in parks rather than cultivating a park in our own backyard.
The desire to have a usable backyard has been present since moving into the home almost four years ago. In fact we even discussed how magnificent the yard could be as outdoor entertainment when deciding to make an offer. Since then our aspirations never met our skills, nor did our motivation meet our pocketbook.
The yard itself is pretty sizable, with large shady trees and an old 1940’s style stone/cement fire pit. The untamed limbs of the trees provide plenty of kindling should we ever be able to utilize the fire-pit. There is a chain-link fence separating the yard from the street parallel to our house. The positioning of our property on the street allows all of our neighbors walking and driving by to take notice of the ugliness that is our yard. It’s difficult to tell what covers most of the ground whether it be grass, weeds or mostly ivy. And our muppet-like furry dogs have taken the liberty of running a path along the fence line to greet other dogs and pedestrians.
At times it feels like we are maintaining more of a snake habitat than anything else since it’s near impossible to be out there for any length of time without encountering at least one slithery friend. My neighbor Lucy, who has lived in her home since the ’50s, told me she believes the snake population in the area is so high due to a teen releasing his pets years ago. I’m not sure whether the story is true, or if it could even be the reason for the radical number of snakes. Sometimes I look closely at the snakes to try to recognize if it’s a pet store breed, that is right before I run in the opposite direction.
Two ideas come to mind when thinking about the recent urgency I have had to fix this outdoor space. Of course my busy toddler is topping off that list. I want her to be able to develop memories of playing outdoors, swinging, running through the sprinker, riding a tricycle around a paved path, and laying out a blanket for an impromptu picnic when the weather calls for it. I dream of being able to host her second birthday this fall at our own house and to be able to have our friends and family all together to celebrate with a backyard BBQ. I’ve imagined cozying up to my hubby and the baby monitor with a backyard fire, escaping the nonsense of a days work with an evening camping experience. I’d have flowers and vegetables grown instead of bought. I’d have neighbors admiring the space instead of wondering what lazy individuals must live here. I’d even try my hand at composting and if my husband would allow it I’d maintain a chicken coop for fresh eggs (that last dream I won’t ever get approved though).
The second idea that comes to mind regarding the necessity which has inspired me to fix this area is a lecture I had the priviledge to see several years back given by Peter Walsh. He is the organization guru most known by the TLC show Clean Sweep. He challenges people to clear the clutter and live happier lives. I distinctly remember one of the simple exercises he presented with a fill in the blank statement. “My house is _____.”
Before you continue reading consider what your statement might be…
Since hearing this exercise several years ago, I often think of describing my house. Sometimes I can say my house feels happy, sometimes it’s my house is a mess, or my house is colorful. Recently I reflected on the statement and came up with – My house is better on the inside then the outside. This idea was an honest response to the feeling of doing more work on the interior of my house and the obvious lack of effort on the exterior (mainly the backyard). I spend a lot of time cleaning, decorating for the holidays and I have painted nearly every wall in the house since we have moved in.
The significance of the statement, according to Peter Walsh, is to change “my house” to “my life” and understand how our home is a reflection of how we are living and who we are. It’s been accurate for me in the past of feeling happy, colorful and even when my life was a mess. This time My life is better on the inside then the outside, also seems true to me on many platforms. To me, it applies to feeling confident and happy with who I am on the inside and it not projecting to my outward appearance. I don’t put much effort into taking care of myself on the outside with exercise, haircuts or dressing myself. More importantly the creative thoughts and ideas which I am consistently brainstorming inside my head are not being acted on outside of my mind. I wonder what the “outside” in my life could begin to resemble if I put forth the effort of the ideas I have on the inside.
This takes me back to the backyard. I’m focusing on the outside of my house, as a metaphor for working on releasing the creativity in my mind. I believe that when I have a yard space I can be proud of, I will also have measurable output for my ideas, and my hope is this will expand to more than just my yard. As for the outward appearance – yard work is exercise and no one will care if my hair is done or dirt is on my clothes when they walk past and compliment my yard. Please consider these the before pictures and stay tuned for updates on progress!