“Punishment” for Failure

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Last week I told my sad tale about my landscape failure.  This week – triumph!  I installed an area of rock under a fence to avoid having to cut a strip of grass and constantly battle the tall grass that grew under it.  It always bothered me because you could see it as soon as you drove up the driveway.  Now it is a nicely bordered beauty that I smile about every time I drive up (I am a big fan of rocks of any kind).

What drove me to do take on the rock project?  A pile of rock in the driveway, for one.  But it also involved guilt.  I still felt bad about not getting the landscaping done, and I needed to repent.  I went to the gym the Friday morning after the landscape fiasco, and then I was going to spend a leisurely day shopping and enjoying my day off.  As I left the gym, I got the idea to put the rock area in.  Who was I to waste the day shopping when there was work to be done?

So I went home and grabbed the shovel and started digging out the grass.  Well, that was brutal.  I made it through about 20 feet of the 50, and thought there has to be a better way.  I dug out anything that was growing over the driveway, and dug out the tall grass under the fence.  The rest I scalped with the weedeater.  Luckily on the backside of the fence there wasn’t much grass growing about 9 inches out from the fence.  I installed the border, then began installing the weed barrier.  The winds were really blowing that day, so I was battling the barrier constantly.  My back was killing me.

I took a break, had a quick bite to eat, and got back to work.  I installed more of the weed barrier, and realized I didn’t have enough, and I ran out of the metal pins to hold it down.  Of course.  And I really wanted a border on the driveway side of the fence.  So I jumped in the car, muddy clothes and all, and headed to Home Depot.  Got home, installed the front barrier, and realized I probably DID have enough weed barrier, but I still would have needed more pins.  I was now about 5 hours into the project with about a 30 minute break.  I was sweating even though the day was cool and windy, and my heart was beating hard.  But I would not stop.  I would finish the damn project to make up for the day before, come hell or high water.

It was time to shovel stone, and I was seeing the finish line.  My back and legs were protesting, begging me to wait until the next day.  No way.  I had to beat myself up and I was determined to finish.  Just then my husband got home from work.  The cavalry had arrived!  He agreed to help me shovel the stone, and helped me fill the wheelbarrow so I could push it around the fence to the back side.  I did that several times, while he started to fill in the driveway side.  By about 5 pm we finished the job.  And it looked great.

I on the other hand, was feeling anything but great.  My entire body was screaming, my heart was still pounding, and I was completely exhausted.  I don’t think I have ever worked that hard on a yard project before.  After I went inside, grabbed a shower, and sat down, every muscle started to seize up.  And I wallowed in that, thinking this is what I deserved after Thursday’s debacle.

Why did I punish myself?  It is something that I have done several times over the years.  If I drank a little too much the night before, and didn’t feel well the next day, I always made myself clean the house, go to the gym, or do something else physical, and I refused to take a nap.  Is that weird?  Why not just chalk it up to having a good time, rest the next day, and handle the tasks later?   That’s not how I’m wired.  When I feel like I have done something “bad”, I have to make up for it.  I need to push myself, deny myself something “good”.  It gets things done, but is it worth it?  Luckily this doesn’t happen often.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Additional updates on the landscaping…I hired Jamie’s Landscaping to do the landscaping of the project I designed.  It will cost much more than if I did it myself, but sometimes you just have to admit defeat.  When I was a supervisor at a financial planning firm, my admin were always afraid of making trade mistakes.   I always told them that everything is fixable, it will just cost money.  Well, I am living those words now.  I will go in after they are done and install all the edging and add the compost and mulch.  At least I will feel like I hand in some of it.  I feel good that the project is scheduled and will see completion this spring.

And SUPER BONUS.  I started getting estimates on fixing/replacing our back fence, and it was going to cost upwards of $2000.  That, on top of the landscaping, was really going to take a bite out of our savings.  Neighbor Dennis to the rescue!  He offered to fix the fence for us a few weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until we got the estimates.  Well, it was now becoming obvious which path we were going to take.  Neighbor Dennis quoted us $285 and fixed the entire fence in about a a day!  It looks amazing, and took another burden off our back.  Our neighbor has come through for us time and again, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

We still have more work to do to get the backyard where we want it, but for now we have enough projects going on.  I would love to have everything done this year, but I have to practice patience and not bankrupt us in the process!

What does all this mean for you?

  1. Forgive yourself.  I need to work on this (obviously), but when things go “bad”, it is perfectly OK to forgive yourself and move on.  Take a break.  Take a nap.
  2. Ask for help.  I always say this because it is so important.  You don’t have to do it all.  Hire professionals.  Take your neighbor up on their offer.  Save yourself.
  3. Think big, act small.  I have quite a grand vision for my yard.  But I can’t do it all RIGHT NOW.  I have to be OK with taking small bites and transforming it incrementally.  This goes against my nature, but I am learning the hard way that it is better in the long run.  If you have a grand vision, break it down into more manageable pieces to bring it to fruition.

I’m actually glad it is raining today – no yard work!  Have a great weekend.

“You will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself. You will suck at something. There is no doubt about it. … Never be discouraged. Never hold back. Give everything you’ve got. And when you fall throughout life — and maybe even tonight after a few too many glasses of champagne — fall forward.”
-Denzel Washington



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