"Rake Your Own Leaves!"

"Rake Your Own Leaves!"

It’s that time of year again in Austin, Texas when the leaves have begun to fall from many of the trees for a second time in the past 7 months. It appears that many of the trees are semi-deciduous which results in their leaves falling twice a year, which was pretty surprising for this native New Englander who only ever had to rake leaves once a year during the fall season. For the 15 years since we bought our lovely home advertised with the ‘park like backyard’ in Austin my husband and I have raked up 40+ bags of leaves from our yard, not once but twice a year. This bi-annual event still serves as a reminder of our ‘botanical’ ignorance.

I realized quite early on that our neighbors were always on top of this twice a year chore as we watched the landscape crews arrive at their homes from the vantage point of our front yard, with rakes in hand. I on the other hand made use of my parents who often came to visit us during one of our two raking periods, which fall during the cooler months of the year. Inevitably, my father would offer to spend some of his time during his visit raking our yard and time and time again I would respond, yes please! Would you like a pair of gloves to go with that rake, I would ask?
During one of his many visits and after a few hours of raking out in my backyard my dad shared with me that he missed the simple opportunities to do work around the house now that he and my mother lived in a condo. Missed yard work, I asked incredulously? Well yes he responded, its a great opportunity to use my body and let my mind rest. Hmmm? I wondered if he might be on to something.

So this year when my husband and I once again found ourselves outside on a cool and sunny day raking I remembered my father's wisdom. Three hours had passed one Saturday afternoon quite quickly raking out in the backyard and although I felt physically tired I also felt more clear headed and calm as well. As a newly certified competent coach in positive psychology I realized this mind-body experience felt more akin to mindfulness and yet all of these years I simply referred to it as yard work.

So this weekend when I head out once again to rake the seemingly endless supply of falling leaves I will ponder the idea that I may in fact be out ahead of my neighbors whose landscape crews will certainly be lining up to take care of their leave-littered yards. As I swing the rake back and forth I will remember the opportunity I have to simply be here now and to view my ‘park like’ backyard as a meditation space rather than one more chore around the house to be done.

I realize that not everyone has a yard to rake or the physical capacity to do yard work any longer, but what about those other seemingly mundane chores in your life? Whether you’re vacuuming the floor or washing the dishes consider the possibility that you have been presented with another opportunity to practice being here now and it seems to me that we all could use more of that in our daily lives.

This week's guest blogger, Kelley Russell-DuVarney.

Coach with MuseStream, Austin, TX.

ICF-Austin Membership Director.

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