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The Proactive Mower. Monday June 20, 2016

Why did I do it? My purpose was clear: to mow the lawns. My motive was pure: to please Penelope (and this was no chore, I love mowing the lawns.) Furthermore, I was willing, ready and able.

Yet for some hidden reason, I attached the back lawn with its smug daisies with enthusiasm but no pattern. I just went for it! Normally, I add a pattern and sequence to my mowing.

After a while, I remembered why I mow the lawns with a pattern and sequence. I began asking myself the question, "Have I mowed that part?" My inner critic answered each time, "Well, can't you tell? If you can't tell, you haven't mown the grass very well, have you?"

Truth be told, I could tell most of the time but I couldn't be sure. I concluded that to mow the lawn without a pattern and procedure was wasteful. It could be done more efficiently and enjoyably without confusion, and, without the counsel of my inner critic!

Fortunately, I had the front to do next and the neighbour's front. These two lawns were approached with a pattern to my purpose! It was far more satisfying, and my inner critic went off somewhere else to poke about in the archives of my mind so see if it could bring up other examples of my stupidity to encourage better planning in future. I think it got lost because I was at peace the whole time I mowed with purpose and a pattern to follow.

So what's my point? Whether or not we each sense some noble purpose in life, we all live a life filled with purposes great and small. The purpose may be to get through the day, or even one hour at a time when life is hard, or it may be to feed the hungry of your county, your country or even your continent. One difference that makes a huge difference is to impose on or find a pattern to your purpose.

Every purpose needs a structure and a procedure – a pattern of what makes sense to do first, and what next. The lawn is a good one because if you mow in relatively straight lines, you not only have a sensible procedure but also have pretty reliable feedback on the success you're having in achieving your purpose. You get a sense of progress.

I'm not sure what you're facing this week, but I'm sure it could be stated as a purpose. Given this purpose, what pattern could you create to move you steadily towards your purpose? For many of us, rhythms and rituals work – we get up at set times, we get ready in a set sequence, we do things in an established order. This reduces stress because we know what we plan to do next and we can focus, therefore, on one thing at a time. But there's a bigger message here – how could you lay a pattern over your bigger plans and purposes so that you can mow that larger metaphorical lawn of life one methodical strip at a time?

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Orangeblossom Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 6:53am

Hi Lex
Thanks for confirming what I was slightly aware of about achieving plans by establishing goals & patterns.
Also tips for silencing the inner critic who can be very heavy sometimes & doing this with humour.

Orangeblossom Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 6:55am

I meant rituals & procedures as the goals & plans are usually pre-set for the day.

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 7:17am

Hi Orangeblossom, thanks for chatting with me. Yes, there's a rhythm to it all that seems to work: purpose, pattern, point-by-point. Really helpful on the tough days. One step-at-a-time. Hope you have a great day that that inner critic has a day off. L'x

Christine Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 7:24am

I took heart from what you said Lex, I strongly feel that my life has no purpose but I try to get through the day, when life is hard, and I never saw this as being my purpose, so thanks, I am also going to try and make a pattern for any purpose I have, it gives me a new perspective on things thanks, keep blogging, and have a good day.

Christine Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 7:26am

by the way I never seem to have any goals or a plan to any days!

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 7:41am

Hi Christine, I'd relax on the goals thing. If life is really tough, and it sounds like it is for us both at the moment, it works better to think in terms of 'focus'. "What do I need to focus on for the next hour or so?" Once we can answer that, we can then ask the power question, "OK, so what's the first physical action step?" Once you get into this rhythm, you and I can get bolder and sketch out a pattern of steps. Our minds crave structure - and finding gentle ways to structure our time can be really helpful whether it's a good or tough day. May you find a gentle purpose for the next few hours, that then blooms into a purpose for the day. Thanks for chatting. L'x

LillyPet Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 7:44am

Morning Lex :)
What a great way of looking at things! Yes I find having a routine way of doing things helps and if I have to fit more into my already hectic week the only way I can even consider it is to see how I can ease it into my routines.
I've never thought of a bigger approach to life in that way though. The two things that can feel overwhelming are the amount of decluttering I need to do and having so much to do at work, yet more getting piled on as I try to stay on top of the routine stuff! So I could keep your idea in mind so as not to feel overwhemed by those two areas of my life. First deal with the bits that urgently need my attention, get rid of any build ups and then build in a system or routine to make it easier to keep mowing along!
I tend to have this feeling that I cant even think about future plans and goals without having some order ti my life as it is! I think I am fairly content in that I am fortunate to feel that my purpose is my work, my two young people and our little famiy life( I am not sure if I should mention what I am fortunate to have when others do not? It's just relevant here,, but I am aware and grateful.Inner critic telling me off I guess) and my well being. I do care about bigger things but those are what I work on. Interesting the order that they came out! Rewind and reverse that! :)
Maybe I should have clearer goals for the future, but quite honestly, I am grateful for just being in a good place today!
If ever I feel overwhelmed I'll just put it down to the lawn needing mowing!
Thank you for an inspiring and soothing blog Lex!
Warm hugs to all, LP xx

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 8:27am

Hi ya LillyPet, "inspiring and soothing" is a lovely compliment. I'm not a big visionary anymore, nor do I feel the need to have big goals... and I'm certainly not an over-achiever type. Nevertheless, a gentle rhythm and pattern to the mowing works its magic. Critically in need of decluttering myself, so I sympathise deeply! One pile at a time... one box at a time... and maybe, just maybe, one room at a time! Thanks for encouraging me at a particularly low point. Appreciate the hug too. L'xx

LillyPet Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 6:35am

Sorry to hear you're not in a good place Lex. I was thinking about how motivating you are and so humble. You really do have a gift. There have been times when I've felt low too and just reading your blog has lifted and motivated me to try it that way! I guess we just have to let nature take it's course in it's time. Sending sunshine and more hugs! LP xx

Lex Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 9:05am

Thank you, LillyPet. Father's Day is not always a good day for me! And this one was particularly naff... so I was reeling from the emotional impact of that. Really appreciate the hugs and sunshine. L'xx

LillyPet Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 12:38pm

You're welcome. Nature will take it's course. The balance between the natural pain and natures beautiful blessing will come to you in its time. At least today wont be that naff! Some things hit us hard. At least your recovery from reeling from that will be faster. Just looking at the lawn. It'll actually be a pleasure doing it this time! Treated myself to a lightweight one that rolls lines! Very satisfying! :) I always start at bottom left corner! Hey ho best get back to work. Take care. LPx

S Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 8:37am

Thank you Lex for a great blog- given me lots things to think about. Chatting with a friend, we worked out how much we check our phones and how that detracts from the focus we have at that moment. My auntie says to me when I am low, are you making your little life? - she means making my flat cosy, cooking simple nutritious meals and living small chunks of the day at a time. When I allow myself to do this without guilt is is helpful. I hope you find peace and purpose today. Sx

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 8:44am

Oh S, I think I love your auntie! What a beautiful phrase and philosophy: "are you making your little life?" I shall treasure this today, and more than that, I shall work on my little life today - I know exactly where to start and what pattern to mow! L'x

S Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 10:53pm

She is lovely - I will tell her that her question is much appreciated. Hope your day went ok and the mowing went well! Sx

Tutti Frutti Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 9:10am

Pretty fed up this morning and just came out about 10% lower than I expected on the test. (Expecting worried phone calls from my parents imminently.) Fed up with the weather - cold and tipping in London, have been overworking and am knackered and need to get some stuff finished before I can take some time off. Also need to tidy my house so that my cleaner can see the surfaces I want her to clean. Have a Pilates class later which should be good but I am even fed up about that as i have a few aches and pains and will have to go out in the rain!
Lex i know you are right about the processes and order really and i do find it helpful when i am really low but i am having a stroppy teenager moment about order and routine right now. Probably because I really don't want to do the tidying. Probably ought to get started before my husband gets up and starts talking about the bomb which has hit the kitchen!

Mary Wednesday Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 9:59am

Dear TF - so pleased that someone else has a life like mine. Just at the moment my teenager is a delight and my pre-teen a stroppy nightmare. I feel for you in sisterhood!

Tutti Frutti Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 10:25am

Actually it's me who feels like a stroppy teenager today and I should have grown out of it in the 1980s. I do have a teenager who does strop about her hair but nothing too awful for a while and thankfully not today! TF x

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:18am

Hi Ya Tutti Frutti, I utterly understand today. You don't have to mow the lawn every day. Sounds like you need a day off. What would your inner stroppy teenager like to do today? Sounds like she needs some time and attention. Let her play for the day. L'x

Tutti Frutti Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 12:49pm

Lex thanks. 'You don't have to now the lawn every day' sounds like one for me to remember!

S Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 10:50pm

Hi TF, just to say that I hope your Pilates class went ok. The rain was full on today- hope you got the sun we did this evening. Take care, Sx

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 8:38am

Thanks S. Yes the pilates class was good and the sun came out for the evening. I also managed to plough on through the rest of the day and get some work done. Decided that the metaphorical lawn really was in need of a mow yesterday however little I felt like it. Hoping for a better day today. Weather nice at least. Love TFx

Skyblue Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 9:36am

Hi Lex, I know I'm not the only one hoping you feel better soon. We love you! I like what you say about goals vs focus. I'm one of those people who has a hard timing holding on to 'goals'. They vaporize! And on bad days even 'focus' is hard but I find that bringing qn awareness of relative time into it helps--as in 'for the next 30 minutes, I will focus on such and such'. It's amazing how much tidying or desk work can get done in half an hour. Or how many errands can be run in an hour. 'One methodical strip at a time'. Thanks, Lex. I agree with Lillypet--your blog (and you) are inspiring and soothing. xx

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:21am

Ah, bless you, Skyblue - feeling the love today... and need it, so that kind of works out doesn't it? Nice to be part of our community. L'xx

Mary Wednesday Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 10:03am

Yes indeed. Goals can be so clear, but without pattern and process we get lost along the way. My dear departed uncle used to say that life was a game of planning and replanning. I think he was right. I hate planning, and when I have planned I hate following plans. But - without that order and structure then I achieve - nothing... (looks chaos and the void full in the face and shudders) Maybe we spontaneous people need a plan.... One of my (organised, methodical, logical) friends schedules "spontaneity" into her day... I have never quite understood this...

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:30am

The guy that did the time management programme last week talked about "Dreams with a Date" - I liked that. I so dislike the word "deadline". I really do fancy having a date with my dreams... even if some days they seem far off. L'x

The Gardener Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 10:46am

Hi Lex, I know that the perfect lawn was NOT the message of your blog. But after 3 hours, starting at 5 a.m of the most horrible treatment from Mr G focusing on lawns has provided a welcome diversion. Our last house in UK looked like a Queen Anne model (same period, but not classic). Lovely red brick, symmetrical white windows. It stood well back from the road, semi-circular drive - herbaceous borders and the lawn, fronted by white park railings. We had a cylinder mower, which made lovely lines. But getting the first 'cut' at right angles to the front door was a challenge. This was vital, because, to the danger of the traffic, people were always stopping and photographing it. Having left lawn and UK, swore would never touch a mower again in my life. And what happens? Annexed presbytery garden - lawn nothing but plaintain and coltsfoot. Successful rescued - but, guess what? I can see it from my bedroom window, so a new sight line so I don't have to put up with a diagonal till next growth. Mary, Wednesday, I MUST have structure and routine - to try and build a semblance of normality. LillyPet - order and peace - fine if not addictive. I have a 'quirk' I cannot do serious 'stuff' unless kitchen is tidy. Always had beautiful kitchens - often called on to produce meals for guests at last moment - my kitchen is like an artists 'palette' I must be able to 'create' in it and not be put off by a draining board full of clutter. Silly - but gives pleasure. I think putting 'spontaneity' into your day is a great idea.

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:38am

All makes perfect sense to me, dear Gardener. We need to see patterns in life - and thus it's applaudably natural that we should seek to establish order and patterns in our lives and environment. The lawns, for me, are a very welcome distraction. L'x

Lexi Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:18am

Hi Lex, it's 5am where i am and was just looking at my daunting list of to dos for the day/week before I read your blog. You have giving me the courage to face the enemy, tackle the to do beast so to speak. My challenge has never been planning - I can plan with the best of them - but in my planning I have developed a fabulous knack for actually avoiding doing the work. So today I will actually mow the lawn and not just in my head. When I come out at the end of the day I hope to see the weeds gone and perhaps even a semblance of a lawn that I can enjoy this week. Thank you for the encouragement today! xo Lexi

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:39am

Mow away, Lexi - mow away - and sing as you go, a mowing song! Inch by inch, victory will roll your way (with the mower's roller)! L'x

Richard Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:44am

Good blog, Lex, as always.
You've awoken the fledgling poet today.

Mow, mow, mow your lawn
Just get through the day
Stripes, squares, smiley face
Lex shows us the way.

Yes, of course you can sing it.

Peace & Love,

Tutti Frutti Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 12:51pm

Thanks Richard cool song. Bringing back all the mother and toddler group versions with crocodiles etc. Love TF

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 3:56pm

Ha ha Richard, brilliant! And, yes, I am singing it! Peace and Love to you too. L'x

Lesley Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 2:17pm

Hi Lex
Thanks for this blog, Lex. Finding patterns and routines is one of the things I find most difficult in life. I am a vata dosha, an acetlycholine dominant by nature but neurotransmitters are all a bit off these days. I have always found planning awfully difficult - my nature is disorganisation. It didn't used to be so bad but when I was laid up for a couple of years and out of work for the best part of 4 years, the good habits I did have went out the window. I need structure to be given to me. I try hard but flit. I am a Keith Floyd cook - inventive and innovative by nature. I seem to rebel against those who are in mind too orderly. I suppose I am always looking for different ways to do things - that is the spice of my life. I recognise that routine will help me but i cannot seem to establish routine myself. It is as if that part of my brain has gone and never was there very much. University was the happiest time of my life - deadlines, but my time to meet them. I did study diligently and hard but had longer periods of rest. Everyday life clashes with me - I do lots of something then rest, then lots then rest. Steadiness doesn't seem part of my brain.
Weirdly enough - mowing the lawn is something i have improved upon.It is small and manageable. Anyway back to my revision - I have an exam this Saturday and in true Vata style have had two weeks holiday to revise because I could not seem to revise enough before in steady portions.
I sense that I chose the wrong job when I left uni. I needed strong CPD and a profession (accountancy) to steer me but ended up in a crazy software firm where the adrenaline was always flowing. It just tipped me the wrong way ....

Any tips on edging to a bit more order would be welcome from anyone!

Lex Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 4:00pm

Hi Lesley, we're being gentle with ourselves today... just find a pattern and follow it. Of course, singing Richard's song helps while you do this. Pattern... Rhythm... Flow... L'x

The Gardener Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 4:39pm

Ruminating, when I can, during an awful day (non-stop rain as well) as to how to END your day without feeling a non-achiever or it's been wasted. Lists, as in appointments, you must keep - otherwise they are a disaster, if you don't complete them, failure. I've written about two experiences here before - but I think they are very appposite for today. One, no idea where I came across it - German based - is to divide your day into 30 minute units, Most meals are prepared in 1 unit - kitchen clear 1 unit - do beds ditto - major hoovering 2/3 units - for me 2 pages of vocabulary 1 unit. A walk round the square here 1/2 a unit - I see who is doing what in their gardens, hear the birds, progress of the seasons. Mow lawn 1 unit. Respite days lunchtime siesta 2 units - drink, sandwich, sudoko and a little sleep. It has the curious effect of making the days seem longer (maybe people don't want them longer). The second was much more valuable - the Agricultural Training Board ran management courses - for the Man Management one we were persuaded first to manage ourselves - and to keep an exact and HONEST time sheet for a week. Absolutely shattering, and illuminating - did I really spend all that time on the phone, playing solitaire, putting off doing the dishes. It also proved rather fun - luckily we were not made to pass them round! One task rebounded on the instructor. Divided into 'teams' one lot were given a complicated task. Lunch time came, no sign of them. We caught up with them in the bar. Somewhat narked instructor asked what happened 'You did not instruct us to come back!'

the room above the garage Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:09pm

Hello, just wanted to say hello and thank you! Life is pantsarama here and accordingly I feel I'm suffocating. But I wanted to say hello and thanks for the blog. Read it early but had no words then, love to all, love ratg xx. I sang Richards song :-)

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 8:40am

Here's hoping today will be less pants. Love TF x

Lex Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 9:07am

"Pantsarama" is a wonderful word, though, Ratg. And I hope you invented it, 'cos it's so cool! May you have a Blissarama season to make up for all the Pantsarama ones. L'xx

Lex Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 9:11am

"Pantsarama" is a wonderful word, though, Ratg. And I hope you invented it, 'cos it's so cool! May you have a Blissarama season to make up for all the Pantsarama ones. L'xx

LillyPet Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 12:51pm

Hey ratg, just sending love and hoping that pantsarama doest last long for you! Was going to send a hug, but not if youre feeling suffocaty! Sounds like a cue for one of your stomps! I made it out for a powerwalkfirst thing this morning. First one for goodnes knows how long! Mwah! PXx

Jul Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 8:46am

Hi Lex. Jules here late . i'm sorry but yesterday was a bad day. As ratg said pantsarama . I am learning not to rely on routine to keep me sane as my routine has been disrupted so many times, i just have to deal with this without anxiety if possible. However I know there are certain aspects to my day which do look forward to and the thought of them gives me a peaceful feeling. Not sure about little steps I can take to get through the next few months. It's a good idea to think about this in a mowing straight lines way. I'll try. Thanks Lex xxx

Lex Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 9:16am

Hi Jules, hope you get this response - as I'm a day late in replying, but I think there is value for us in the whole metaphor of making as much as possible "Straight-forward". Mowing the grass in straight lines requires me to look directly ahead - and not to the right nor to the left. It is a very simple focus. I was crushed at the weekend (with the repercussions on Monday) because I went too wide and too far with my vision, and what I saw terrified me. I can look forward today, an hour at a time, and even a task at a time. That seems straight-forward. One physical action step after another - following a straight line or simple pattern. One of the most important aspects of the Moodscope Community for me is knowing that we really do understand one another's strength and depth of emotion - even if those emotions differ. In the face of such strong emotions, motion seems a good response - shifting the emotion into another kind of energy. My heart goes out to you because I know some of these feelings. May you find a simple line to mow today. Hugs. L'xx

Jul Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 11:35am

Thank you for this Lex. You are a gem. I knew you would help me. It's strange how things work out or happen. I was walking into my nearest town just now and thinking ahead to the future in the context of this one huge life change which has been thrown at me. Just as you say Lex..not a good idea..... the future I envisaged was horrible!! So coming back and reading your words Lex has stopped me in my tracks which led only to doom and gloom. Instead I will think ahead but only to the next hour. Moodscope is great for all the reasons you state Lex. What would we do without each other? My guess is that we would seek each other out, all of us, now we have established such strong sustaining

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 9:06am

Hope today is a bit better and that you can use Lex's tips to get your through. Sending you virtual hugs TF x

Jul Tue, Jun 21st 2016 @ 11:36am

Thank you Tutti Frutti. Thank you for looking out for me. I appreciate your words and virtual hugs which I can feel tight around me . Jules xxx

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