52 Ways to Shift Your Focus

Shift #7: Pull the Weeds

This morning, I was all set to write about postcards and travel, summer and journeys. Then, I read an email from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and completely changed my plan, which fits in pretty well with the whole intent of this series, don’t you think?

The email that shifted my focus was about weeding the garden. Yeah, sure, this sounds mundane. Maybe even unpleasant. Bear with me.

Leopard’s bane

Anytime I do anything in the garden, I’m soothed. I’m disconnected from electronic tools. I’m not looking at a screen. I’m not listening to news or music. I am being engaged in the natural world. That’s what a garden is for.

Yesterday, I had a to-do list that felt overwhelming. I tried to take some time for myself over the weekend, but things piled up. That’s life, right? And I was cranky, thinking about this list of things I had to get done.

Then I thought, wait. Just wait one damn minute. I get to have a weekend without feeling awful on Monday. Something is out of whack. And whatever is out of whack is making me less productive.

At this point, some people would meditate or pray or go to church. Me? I go outside. I went outside before I got anywhere near my computer.

And I pulled weeds.

Pasque flower

Pulling weeds is and always will be one of those perfect metaphors for getting rid of the unnecessary stuff. It works for editing. It works for long lists of tasks that feel overwhelming. It works for trashing blurry photos, saying no to too many volunteer commitments, eliminating useless expenditures, closing the cover on the book that isn’t as good as expected.

It also works as a way to blow off steam, redirect focus. Rip out those damn raspberries that keep popping up even though the raspberry bed is now across the yard. Yank out that chamomile that won’t accept that it’s not invited. And those dandelions with the incredibly long root systems? Gotta go.

Next stop for weeding: the current draft of what I’m working on. How about you?

Bleeding hearts run amok

All photos by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson.



  1. Weeding here too. Real weeds that clutter my garden leaving no room for spring bulbs.
    The weeds of anger and resentment which if not removed fester into an explosion.
    Weeding the must do list, into a more manageable form. Deleting the unnecessary, postponing some others.
    And, while in the garden, listening to the birds, and revelling in the sky. Life is really pretty good.


  2. Pulling weeds IS a wonderful metaphor, and such tasks are, I think, wonderful for allowing the mind to wander to new places. I often start to have story ideas when gardening, or just walking.


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