I spend at least one day every weekend in my backyard. It has become a ritual for me. I read, write, work, lounge. It has become my happy place. And if a weekend goes by with too much other activity and I miss it my backyard time, I feel cheated.
I used to be so busy all the time. Darting here and there to social engagements. I was so un-involved in my involvement. But I can see now that I was just avoiding that which I have now become at ease with: me.
I usually start off cleaning up. Blowing off the deck, watering the plants. Cleaning up that which the dogs and kids have left out or dirtied up. After the cleaning and neatening up is completed, I feel entitled to relax in the space. I relish in it.
Yesterday was no different except I cleaned the goat pen and that was a lot of very dirty work. I felt better once the task was completed, but it was hard work. Farming, is no joke. Animals and plants are a lot to take care of and I only have a herd of three and a few tomato and pepper plants...my hat is off to the farmers.
I spent the day lounging poolside and just enjoying the warm September sun. California summers go until November sometimes. So it was warm and tranquil yesterday. I almost took a nap but the dogs made sure that I only relaxed so much...
I read books, studied the clouds, appreciated the space I created and I worked on my long neglected book. I spent hours writing outside and enjoyed every fucking minute. It felt good to unblock myself and just begin. It matters not where it goes, just that I move it forward. The tale will tell itself...eventually.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening lying on my swing, reading a new book and relaxing. These were things that I never had time to do when I was married. My life was not my own, I belonged to the family, a kind of servant whose time off was limited and fleeting. I had to leave the marriage in order to find myself again. This was just me, surely not everyone. But I am so grateful I did. To have the life I have today, I would have paid any price. To have backyard days was something that I couldn’t have even fathomed when I was married...so to have them now and enjoy them so immensely is such an amazing gift.
I also hiked 14 miles yesterday through the canyons around my house. I lived for 3.5 years next to these same trails and never took them anywhere, not even once. I walked my grief over my friend’s cancer diagnosis, my healing heart and my mind a long way yesterday. And it resonated. All of it. I felt the outside on the inside. The natural world, be it the trails of the Ojai canyons or my own backyard, I felt it in my skin and heart. Spending so much time in nature changes me and softens me in a way that I am not able to access any other way. Something happens to me outside that is not accessible to me or by me inside.
The wild calls and I must go. Even if it is just right outside my back door. Time spent in nature gives me a fresh perspective on the world as I live it. On myself. My dreams, my hopes and my issues. There is almost nothing I cannot withstand so long as my time in nature is carefully balanced with my time inside. Backyard days are part of that and I am grateful to have arrived at such a place in this life, that time spent alone in my yard means so much to me. And I am incredibly grateful to live within myself so that I can so throughly enjoy my time spent within outside.
Backyard days have become my haven, my container for my life. Be it stillness, grief, love, acceptance, fear. I take them all out back and instead of lining them up for a good whack, I just give them grace to fall into place in my life. And I mostly do it while lounging on a chair, a swing, a hammock or a couch. All of those places help me to access the most vulnerable parts of myself. And it is those fleshy parts of me that grant me access to the best parts of life: relationships. First with myself and then with all of you. And I wouldn't be present for any of it, if I didn't spend so much time doing nothing in my backyard.