Christmas in April

April played a cruel joke on us last weekend.

Just as we were getting excited about spring finally arriving; just as we were beginning to see the grass appear after months of being covered with snow; April delivered 20 + more inches of the white stuff and strong winds last Saturday and Sunday.

“Blizzard!” The weather man declared.

“This is not a blizzard!” my mom replied. She grew up in North Dakota and therefore considers herself a blizzard connoisseur.

“I can still see in front of my face,” she added.

Well, blizzard or no blizzard I got a lot of exercise.

Shoveling.

Shoveling is one of those tasks Minnesotans love to complain about. It’s hard work. It’s cold out. It gets in the way of us getting to the other things in our life.

I changed my mindset around it a couple of years ago and that has made a huge difference.

I can truly say that I enjoy shoveling.

It’s a great workout. And I get to be outside—my favorite place to be.

So, that mindset shift has been a big help. But I can still easily get into trouble if I don’t have my most important tool with me.

No, not a special ergonomically designed shovel.

My kitchen timer!

  • I have a small digital timer that slips into my pocket. I set it for 30 minutes when I go out.
  • When it goes off, I stop. Wherever I am.
  • I rest intelligently. On my back in the Alexander Constructive Rest position for 10 minutes.
  • Then I will go out again.
  • Repeat.

Physically, 30 minutes—especially if it is the heavier, wet spring type snow—is my limit before I need to rest.

But more importantly, 30 minutes is the amount of time I know I can pay attention to how I am shoveling.

  • I can pay attention to not stiffening my neck.
  • I can pay attention to not gripping the shovel.
  • I can pay attention to how I bend, so I don’t round my spine but use my hip joints.
  • I can pay attention to alternating between the sides I am shoveling on.

30 minutes is my magic number, for shoveling.

Past 30 minutes and I get into a mode of “Just Gotta Get Er Done!”

Gotta Get Er Done is a dangerous place for me to be.

Because I am not paying attention to how I am shoveling.

I can easily stiffen my neck, grip my shovel, round my spine as I bend and favor one side as I shovel.

All things that I know from experience lead to me twisting and pulling on myself in not so good ways.

And I know from experience that I will pay for it.

You and I will most likely be out gardening soon—not doing more shoveling. But the same advice applies.

Know your magic number—the amount of time that you can stay present with what you are doing and pay attention to how you are doing it.

Then get out your kitchen timer and take it with you.

Here’s to seeing some tulips….soon!

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