Invisible Mess


I’ve recently started inexplicably fantasizing about big plans for my backyard. Note: I’m not a gardener. The only plant I have successfully kept alive for longer than a few months is a jalapeño plant, which in Texas is basically The Easiest Thing Ever. I mean, you have to actively work to get them NOT to continue living. But, yet, here I am. Each day, I add another thing to the list: A vegetable garden! A fairy garden for Wyatt! Maybe a Koi pond? Oh, and that compost thing out there, I’ll get that working. AND YES, soil. I’ve got to have a glorious ecosystem out here of bacteria and microorganisms that will just make everything bloom with green, juicy life. I even decided I would rebuild the deck.


Ahahahahaha. That last sentence. Hahahahaha. Watch me.


In any case, I’ve started with a pair of gloves, a rake, and a clipper thingy for errant branches and such. I’ve raked and pulled weeds at every break in the day, to the point where now I reward myself with a completed D15 by giving myself 15 minutes of raking and pulling and mud. Oh, wonderful mud. Mud full of bugs, frogs, weird snakes that are really just lizards without legs, red beetles that might eat my face off, and goobery grubs. Yesterday, I even pulled a bunch of beloved and determined ivy off of a sad tree. The ivy had wrapped its beautiful vines all around the tree’s delicate branches, the tree clearly trying to weather the relationship against all odds. After I pulled the ivy off, I realized that almost an hour had passed by. I had no idea at the outset how intensive the vine business was going to be. I didn’t know that pulling one part off of one branch would start pulling on another branch, that one deeply embedded into another plant and even growing straight into the wood of the garage. I didn’t know that one vine is actually nested with about a thousand others, all crammed contentedly together like my kids in a single hotel room bed. I didn’t know that the roots of vines are like tough limbs compared to their dainty skyward fingertips. Clipping them is not an option. This is going to involve better tools, I now know.


I feel kind of silly not knowing about these basic landscaping facts. And maybe it dips into a deep knowing that I have, in my grown up life, moved so far away from these little moments of nature and attention. That knowing comes with shock and shame and sadness, a sludge of “s” words that do nothing but summon an unrealistic wish for a simpler life. Sigh. But, that knowing also comes with a kid-like drive to keep at it. I wake up in the morning and think about the vines and the mud nonstop. My mind just keeps going back to the task and it is the closest thing to mindfulness that I have felt in a while.


I don’t know why I just attach that word to it … mindfulness … but I did. The minute I wrote it I felt like some dutiful girl in high school, getting the answer right. I guess I needed to make it purposeful or contained. But, if I am really honest about my drive to clean up the backyard, then I would be brave enough to say that I want nothing tidy about it. I want to clear a way in the overgrown tangle of things. I want to get dirty and smelly and muddy and sweaty and I want to be out of my house. I want to clean something up in a noticeable way that stays clean longer than 3.5 minutes. I want some space to call mine, a space that works. I want fairies and magic and summer nights with fireflies. I want my kids to play and be away from screens. I want them to eat green food right out of the ground. And, well, I just want to dig into the invisible mess that has been the last year and make it all beautiful.


I suppose it is easier to deal with the invisible mess of my backyard than to deal with the invisible mess of my life, courtesy of 2020. The vines are not my thoughts or my missing to-do items or my broken heart or my tired body. They are not embedded in my worth and my serenity. They are outside of me and, so, there’s something deeply satisfying and liberating about making piles of leaves and making a change to the space. I don’t walk around telling the trees they are failing because their leaves are all over the yard. I simply clean it up. It’s the season for it. I don’t put pressure on the rotting wood or the dying plants. I don’t wish they had done better. I say, “Oh crap, you’re not been taken care of. Let’s start over.”


And maybe this is why this backyard dreaming is here. Because I want for my life, myself, and every amazing person I know that same sentiment: Oh crap, you’ve not been taken care of. Let’s start over.


I’m starting over this month of February, the actual real Begin Again month for busy caretakers. January can go take a hike, if you ask me. I’ve had COVID, our country has had an insurrection, my friends and family are scrambling still, and, well, Dove chocolate needs a bigger bag of Silky Smooth Promises. If you don’t know about that last item, then you don’t know. But you will. In any case, yes, February, hello. We are going to run a 30 Day Challenge focused on the Invisible Mess in your life. The vines, the roots, the things that need better tools. And all the while, you—beautiful human—are going to attempt to show up for 5-15 minutes of scrappy exercise each and every day. I will be here and mud will appear. Probably also horrible tales and tails of bugs and critters.


Join me, the MommaStrong Team for this adventure, along with our very own member, Isabelle Wright, who has graciously agreed to lead us through daily bonus content on the topic of your own Invisible Mess.


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See you soon.