Every year at this time, yard work totally weighs on me. It's not a feeling that I can honestly call guilt, but it pushes on my cranium in the same way. Maybe obligation? Whatever it is, I don't like it. Too much chatter in the brain; sentencers that start with "you should".

Proof that my Australia vacation was beneficial: I came home with some new rules for myself; well, maybe not rules, but some ideas on how to live better. I'm telling you, a little thinking time works wonders. Also, Carrie Bradshaw thinks that single women should be thrown a party for being brave enough to go on vacation by themselves. I'm just happy with my post-vacation take-aways:

1) Chill out on the mental dialog. I am so not sure how I am going to do this. But it's so weird how things happen in life. I'm not all spiritual, but I keep getting messages from different people about the mental dialog and what it means and the importance of calming it. Eckhard Tolle says it's the ego (are you reading his book? I'm 1/4 of the way through and it's pretty awesome) and it's definitely not your identity. I think I must have decided that when I named it (note to self: when you tell people in person that you named your inner voice, don't be surprised when they look at you like you have a horn growing out of your head). So I am not sure what I am going to do about the voice, you know, the ones that keeps me up at night. But I am going to do something; maybe yoga. It just feels like mental clutter. I can at least acknowledge it for what it is.

2) Speaking of clutter (and despite the fact that I have done a wee bit of shopping lately), I am going to continue to scale down on the possessions (I can't bear the thought of a yard sale, but I am sure I can find good homes for a lot of my stuff). When I am about to buy something, I have to ask myself "Will it make me happy to look at this thing? Will it make my life better?".  I'm getting so much better at saying no (and actually feeling really good about it). I am not my possessions. I feel another major purge coming on. Bring it. Or at least bring your pick-up truck over to my house.

3) Obligation. I have talked about this before: the way it feels to do something because you feel obligated, not because you want to. I'm going to be selfish for a while. I am going to have to let go of some routines. I already feel kind of liberated by this. For example, yard work. Every year, I plant stuff and try to get my yard looking all Better Homes and Gardens. I'm am so not doing that this year. I am mowing the lawn and I have spraying the weeds and that is it. I'm not going to get myself all wrapped up in "I have to work on the yard today!" No, I do not. I do not "have to" anything. My neighbors don't care. Yeah, I like having a nice yard but I also need to learn how to relax. And that doesn't happen when there's a voice in my head trying to make me feel guilty about not having dirt under my fingernails. I admit it, I don't like gardening; I like having a nice yard. There's a trade-off there. So I am trying something different. I won't be doing the same things because I always have. And I won't feel like I owe someone my time. (Hi, mid-life crisis...jeez....next I'll be buying a Porsche)

4) Less of other things that don't add to my life. Less TV and more reading (I've been getting through a book a week). Less analyzing and more appreciating. More cooking, more music. Less "projects". Less thinking about what I should do, more time outdoors. Less wine, more water. More listening, less talking. More sleep? Huh, nature? Can I have more sleep? Por favor?

I already feel better just typing this out. It's kind of like figuring out that you are allergic to your laundry detergent and not your clothes, if that makes any sense (even if it doesn't make any sense, that's what it's like). It's 10:53 and I am still in my pajamas and I don't feel bad about it.