Hands on… thoughts on why getting dirty is important

In thinking about this today I realize that this experience or sentiment may be mine alone. I realized today, calloused from the lawn mowed, that I love and adore hands on projects.  The get dirty and sore type of work that most people avoid.  If I can get a little dirty and sore from the work I am in! That probably helps to explain my sex life, but I’ll save that for another day. LOL

I’m 100% committed to work that involves sweat equity.  Yesterday I mowed my parent’s lawn just because.  I was there for something unrelated and they weren’t even home, it needed to be done, and I love the smell of fresh cut grass.  Mowing the lawn in +27C weather feels like a nice vacation to me.

Photo by Rodolfo Quirós on Pexels.com

If there is a task that I can perform that requires effort, and complete concentration of my entire being, sign me up!  These are my go to tasks in life.  Some of my best and worst moments in life happened while I was doing the dishes.  This stems, I believe, from the fact that I was raised by a single mother who did for herself.  Also having a father who was willing to include me, the girl, in whatever project he was working on.  My dad always included me.  Plumbing, electrical, building, you name it.  For me this education was huge, I treasured it.  Fortunate for my father because my younger brother avoided it.  He liked destroying things, but rebuilding wasn’t his bag.  He enjoys sweat equity, but only when the sweat is his pre-decided project.  His loss, because all this time spent working with my dad has created an incredible rhythm between us.  No matter the project we just read each other’s thoughts.  Strange bond I know, but a great one when you’re building a deck or fixing your car. 

This leads me to another point.  This education has saved me thousands of dollars!  I have been able to fix my own car, fix things in my own home, and build things I need instead of purchasing them.  All wonderful and rewarding things!

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”

Pablo Picasso

This feeling of approval and satisfaction from sweat equity is likely what drove me to clean my parent’s house one day a week for a year.  I didn’t even live there.  Sure I could disguise it as the desire to help my mom as she raised a family, balanced a stressful fulltime career and suffered from intermittent chronic pain, but let’s be real.  This was my way of fulfilling my own needs, my outlet of sorts.  A way I could feel good about giving back, but also get out that anxious energy.  Strangely enough I would actually get butt hurt after I cleaned.  I would become upset that these people I loved didn’t recognize my service, and the luxury I performed free of charge.  If I come each week, and on the same day, put your laundry in the hamper people!

I empathized with the people who do this for a living, instead of just out of the kindness of their hearts.  I started the endeavour with the best of intentions, but left feeling unappreciated and exhausted.  This is not normal for me.  Typically anything I invest sweat into rewards me with satisfaction, contentment and feelings of profound accomplishment.    This is also why each time the idea to resume my generosity enters my mind I dismiss it quickly.  I know that I will get satisfaction from a job well done.  I understand that a healthy and productive outlet for all this nervous energy is a great life decision.  I also recognize that I will be upset, that I will be hurt by others albeit unintentionally.  This pain isn’t something I’m willing to bring into my life.  I simply can’t.

“This pain isn’t something I’m willing to bring into my life. I simply can’t.”

In the meantime I try to find a hobby or outlet for my energy.  Living in an apartment means that I can’t go mow the lawn or build a fence, or repair the garage door.   There is only so much laundry to do, dishes to wash or toilets to scrub.  I need to be physical to direct my focus.  If it doesn’t require sweat I will likely abandon the idea within 15 minutes.  This is sad.  I used to sit and read a book for days straight, not hours, days! If I found a novel that interested me I would sit and consume as much as I possibly could.  It was, I imagine, what a cocaine habit might feel like honestly.

Oddly enough this is why writing works for me.  I’ve been in front of a keyboard for over 20 years now.  Getting the thoughts out of my head while I have to use my hands is a great way to direct energy.  Some post I read recently stated that 1300 words is about key when you want SEO hits.  That length is about an 8 minute read for the average person, as if 10 minutes would make your head explode or something.  For many people I know they struggle, 1300 words seems like writing that report on a stupid book back when you were in high school.  For me it’s maybe an hour of my time.  More when I go back to edit my incoherent ramblings into a digestible post.  I also did a small stint with Toastmaster’s so hopefully that was productive and makes me a little more concise.

Speaking of concise, because my brain flits from flower of thought to flower of thought, I often considered my speech to be somewhat of a bumble bee.  Never really staying in the same place for long, often coming back after a brief interlude to another idea.  Turns out I was wrong.  Feedback I’ve received explains that I’m actually usually concise and direct with my verbiage.  That I get my point across quickly and effectively, with the right amount of big words to not come off as pretentious.  Who would have guessed?  I suppose that’s why it is good to ask for feedback from the people around you.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Do I think that this also helps me in those grindy, sweating, hands on tasks?  Oh yes!  I don’t give bad direction telling someone to place the thingy over there by the other one.  I tell someone directly to place the box of screws next to the drill because that is where I need it to be next.  I’m sure this can come across as micro-managey or bossy, but that is not the intention.  I communicate clearly, and honestly don’t care if I told you to put it beside the drill or you put it three feet away.  In work mode my brain hones in on what is the next step, and the next, and the ten after that.  I don’t process whether or not someone is on task unless I stop to focus my attention to them and their efforts.

Maybe it’s just the way my brain works, maybe this is why I love those hard work hands on tasks.  I become so zoned in to the project that the rest of the world melts away until I stop for a break.  Physical exhaustion sucks, but unless the task is completed my brain doesn’t even register that I’m tired.  Satisfaction, feeling of accomplishment, getting dirty and sweaty and bruised.  All of these reasons and more are why I believe in getting hands on, getting dirty and enjoying a little sweat equity.

Am I alone in this feeling? Do you like to get dirty too? Let me know!

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