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The Day I Realized I Didn't Have to Mow the Lawn

Our mower is a piece of hud.

We have taken it in to the shop so many times. It is a riding mower that breaks belts after about 10 seconds from the pull of the ripcord. It’s been to the shop, it’s been Red Greened, it’s been worked on by family, but it still will not cut grass.

My kids turned it into an illegal road machine, which honestly is quite common in Preston, Idaho. They pop wheelies on it and tear up the grass in my front yard having mower races, but that’s the only action it seems to be capable of.

So we got a push mower. Before long, a wheel fell off, the handle broke, it leaked gas, the drive wheel broke, the bulb cracked and the thing may start if you pull it aggressively for about 20 pulls, act as if you are going inside, then turn and surprise it with one last pull.

I kid you not…in the last few days of summer last year, my husband, in an act of sheer blue collar genius, pulled the mower that cut but wouldn’t push forward, behind the mower that moved but didn’t cut, because I said I didn’t want to buy one more mower.

As entertaining as the whole thing is, I could have spent a lot more money on hiking adventures if so much wasn’t going into mower repair and replacement. I find hiking way more entertaining than going through the routine of preparing my kids throughout the week for mowing day, working them through the phases of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance on the day it just needs to be done, taking my 20 turns to pull the cord, reminding the kids when they stop for a break that they need to finish it today because the tank will have leaked out by tomorrow, and the whole, weekly rigamarole.

One day, in a moment of teenagerhood, my son says, “If you want it mowed, why don’t you do it? I don’t care if it’s long.”

I mow most weeks, so I didn’t spend much thought on that part, but I did begin to think about me being the only one who wanted it mowed.

I think he may be right.

We bought a bigger home with a bigger yard so that our boys could run and play. They dug holes, hit golf balls into the cow pasture, made bike jumps and built forts. Whoops and berms for homemade dirt bike courses appeared randomly throughout the landscaping. They learned to work, weed, mow, plant, harvest in that yard. We shot basketballs, threw frisbees, they jumped off the shop onto the trampoline in that big yard.

But now my boys are older. We have one at home who rarely goes out there anymore, turning in his fort construction for friends and school sports. A new kind of work and play.

I find myself playing differently too. Instead of being out there pitching baseballs to my boys and bending handle bars back on straight, I’m out playing with my friends, hiking, kayaking, exploring with a big, empty house sitting there quiet and still.

I am now the only one who really cares if it is mowed. I don’t really want to mow it either. No one is out playing and shouting in the backyard. No more bows and arrows, hacksaws and knife throwing. Our wonderful house and beautiful yard no longer living their purpose.

This mind shift changed everything for me. I decided to save my energy for things that are bringing joy and worth my time. We decided to sell our home and build one that is simple and easy to maintain. We want to spend our time relaxing together, trying new things like smoking meat and making cheese. We want to fish, hunt, read in the sun, and enjoy the season in life that we now find ourselves in.

I decided to simplify as much as I possibly could. I took truckloads to the local thrift store. If it wasn’t bringing joy and filling its purpose, I would let it go. The less I had around my house, the less I had to manage. I felt lighter and lighter each time I let something go!

I took it to the next level. Hang on, it’s about to get extreme…

Everyone got two towels and was responsible for washing them and keeping track of them.

Everyone got one plate, one knife, one spoon, one fork, one bowl, one glass. Each person was in charge of washing and keeping track of their own.

I packed up boxes of winter clothes, fall clothes, and summer clothes, leaving myself with only a few favorite spring shirts, shorts, and pants hanging neatly in my closet. I love everything that I see in there.

Suddenly I had more time to cook because I wasn’t doing dishes in order to find the sink before I started dinner. I felt calmer when I walked into a kitchen clear of dirty dishes. I didn’t have to convince anyone to do dishes. If they wanted to eat off a fork no one else had licked that day, they did their own.

Today we are in a two-bedroom apartment and loving it. We are just beginning the process of building a home that is small and comfortable, easy to maintain, and filled with only things that are meaningful to us. When I make a shopping list, I walk into three rooms to take inventory and know exactly what I need within minutes. It takes a half an hour to scour and vacuum the entire area for the week.

We only need to maintain a couple of valuable things. Our cars are repaired and taken care of. My road bike is maintained on schedule. Last month we had 25 purchases from the hardware store. That is 25 trips to the store, 25 transactions to record on budget day, 25 repairs that took hours of work during a time we really wanted to be out enjoying this time of life. This month we had none.

I’m not saying that work isn’t important, or chores aren’t worth the effort. I’m saying that I needed a look at whether the things in my life were helping me get to where I really want to go…or were they no longer in alignment with my direction? I became deliberate and felt the weight of managing more things than I needed go.

What are your goals? What do you want your life to feel like? Are your actions in alignment with those goals?

Take a look. You may find a brand new way of looking at things.

P.S. Here is what our tiny home will generally look like. I'll post progress on Instagram under autoimmuneadventuring so you can join us on our journey to a simpler life.

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