It was a long time coming... that first day I was able to set aside to get out in the yard to play in the dirt. I didn’t have my aspirations set too high: blow the leaves, fertilize the lawn and landscape plants, prune the apple trees and straighten the totem pole (yea, that’s a whole other story). I worked my way down the list (I love lists) and found that by 3 pm I had achieved my top objectives and could now move on to lower priority tasks.  There was only one thing standing in my way... I was beat! 

Gone are the days where I can churn out that kind of work from sunup to sundown without thinking about it. Now I must consider tomorrow... will I be able to function? I need to shape up! Slow and steady are the key words for this early spring kick-off to the gardening season. 

Getting into gardening shape isn’t the only thing I need to be conditioned for.  I have big aspirations for this summer!  A bike ride from Washington DC to Savannah, Georgia, this fall will require some serious road time preparation. I’ve got time to shape up, however, I don’t want to wait too long to start the process. My slow and steady needs to begin now!

As I mentally arrange my summer to-do list, I can’t ignore the fact that that I skipped mulching a sizable portion of my gardens last year, so I will need to spread another 25 yards or so this spring. Naturally, I won’t be skipping planting the vegetable garden.  Actually, I should think about planting my lettuce and onion sets this afternoon if it doesn’t rain.  As always, my garden will need some time and work to shape up.

Perhaps accomplishing all of this would all be a snap if I was retired, but that isn’t happening any time soon. Somebody has to cover the overhead!  I do my best not to complain about work being too busy. Afterall, it sure beats the alternative! Every day my work team is working towards success and, thankfully, things have been shaping up nicely.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, I am finally beginning to fully understand what that age-old phrase “happy wife, happy life” really means. Now that we are empty nesters, I am proud to say we have fully adjusted to and embraced this new lifestyle. We now enjoy more time traveling, and we plan on visiting some new destinations this summer.  Like any relationship, a marriage requires attention and effort to remain healthy and to shape up

The totem pole I mentioned earlier is an ongoing project that has been a three-year effort getting to where it is today -  standing in my garden.  It would be appropriate to ask “why,” and I’m not sure I have an answer I truly understand. I do know that I enjoy and need some time for just for me and while I am sculpting I feel a connection to my “inner artist” that I have always wanted to express. I expect that I will find some time this summer to put my artistry skills to work on the project and that will help “me” shape up.

It appears that I am going to have a busy summer trying to balance everything I want to do and everything I want to get done. Perhaps balance is the operative word to focus on here.  We all have an array of items in our lives that require effort to maintain, that we need to work on to shape up.

I realize I may not be able to mark everything off my extensive list, but I know that maintaining a healthy balance is what is most important. So, whether you find yourself working in the garden or in the gym, at the studio or the barn, in the office or on vacation, I hope you can achieve the happy and healthy balance that makes life interesting, happy and fulfilling.

Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!