Reflections ~ Beating the Woodpile

Originally published October 12, 2015

I had an agenda this weekend. Three uninterrupted days of homeowner bliss and a long list of to dos. Along with catching up on several bookkeeping and research chores for my various extracurricular activities, house cleaning (yes really), and errands, I had determined that I should work on my woodpile. No chopping required—just moving. Seems easy, right?

There is a story to my small mountain of wood. During December of 2007 a gale blew through Aberdeen, Washington which was made up of three powerful Pacific storms. It produced hurricane force winds and blew a bunch of things all over the place. It knocked a number of trees down in my neighborhood, some of which caused damage to the homes. Not mine, but near neighbors.

The fellow that owned my home at the time was elderly and a teeny bit paranoid. Although storms such as this would tend to challenge most anyone’s sense of security. In an effort to protect life, limb and property, he had every tree on the property over 20 feet tall chopped down. I still have lots and lots of trees around me, but the only tree of any height on the property is the perfect 20 foot (give or take) Christmas tree in front of my patio door. Such an effort produces wood. Lots of it.

There is a wood stove in the home, a big one. It is evident that even after eight years of “chipping away” at the wood pile, well, there was still a great deal left. Enter me, spring of 2015. It would take me ten years to use the wood piled under the lean-to, so I sold it, turning the cash into something else the house needed. It took a number of trips for the grateful new owners to carry off their prize. A lot of trips.

Part two. I have a lovely garden shed. It has room for mowers and wheelbarrows and all sorts of things that help the inspired homeowner induce order on their own tiny piece of the globe. Except for one thing. It’s full of wood. Lots of wood. Thus the wood moving project. My goal is to empty the garden shed into the lean-to so that garden things can be moved out of the garage. Then the garage will be more available for garage things—like tons of paper I need to go through, sort, destroy, burn, whatever. There is only one tiny little problem—focus.


While I was loading up my wheelbarrow and transferring several loads of wood (yes really – lot more work than it looks like) from one place to the other today, and racking my brain for bloggy inspiration, focus came to mind. The ability to come up with a plan and move it forward without getting unnecessarily distracted. Note the unnecessarily.

As mentioned more than once in my writings, I am bipolar. Left to my own devices I would have several dozen projects going all at once, running from one to the other, doing bits here and there, and then falling into deep depression because, well, “nothing ever gets done!” You rarely have that satisfaction of accomplishing something, of seeing something completed successfully, because you are so busy “doing” you never “finish.” At least not to your satisfaction.

One of the tricks my husband taught me that controls this wild ride was to develop focus. Set priorities and work toward specific goals. I’m accountant. This should be easy, right? Yes with numbers. Not with life. But I have been learning, and I am beginning to see many applications requiring that same discipline of setting priorities. Attainable priorities. Then working to stick to a plan unless absolutely necessary to do something different (like emergency plumbing repairs). My “throttle” is no longer with me, but his teachings remain.

Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily. I think in this constantly-connected, always busy, always doing world of ours we all could use some practice developing focus. Not just slightly unbalanced people such as myself. As a director for a publishing company I know that we are constantly trying to do everything at once. The result of which is that nothing gets done. Someone has to decide what comes first, then the rest follows in a predetermined order and everyone, including yourself, begins to know what to expect when. But it sure isn’t easy when all those voices start saying, “Me, me, please do my stuff!” Or, “Wouldn’t it be great to start that project, it shouldn’t take more than, oh a day or two, or three…?”

My guess is it will take me a while to move my wood from point A to point B, but that’s okay. The needed work on my flower beds has advanced to the current level for the last 5 years (give or take) and it will not get materially worse while my garden shed is made operational. I will also be patient and refuse to dabble in the painting of my kitchen cabinets until my dining room set is completely refinished. One indoor project, one outdoor project. Both of which can be managed well within the day to day requirements of working for a living and keeping a house functional, clean and maintained.

No, it’s not easy and sometimes I have to remind myself almost daily, “Wait. You will get to that.” But the result is that now I often get to enjoy the feeling of reaching the finish. Of having accomplished something, and to have done it to the best of my ability. I’ll see you at the woodshed.

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