Penny is an artist who uses her creative side and imagination to express herself. She’s now using this opportunity with ASDNext to not only do that through art, but also blogging. For much of her life, she felt like the “quirky sidekick” stereotype in a movie, always doing what others expected of her. When she was diagnosed with autism later in life, that all began to change. This news was life changing and she knew it was time to rewrite her story. She’s no longer on the sidelines of this so-called movie that is her life, she’s the director, leading-lady, or whatever other part she needs to play to figure out who she REALLY is! Every small step toward authenticity is now a victory for her in this new stage of life.View all posts
Girl VS Grass
Ah, summertime. Warmer weather, longer days, and overgrown yards. Maybe it was just my yard that was overgrown because I admittedly put no effort into maintaining it. Removal of fall foliage was the last instance of work done. Spring came and went with rain and mild temperatures. The sun was only starting to stay out daily, so it wasn’t like the yard would immediately jump into disarray. Boy, did I underestimate the concept of “April Showers.”
I couldn’t blame the grass. But watching this disobedience of my plan to procrastinate the work was frustrating. The lawn rehydrated and vindictively grew faster when it rained under the warm sun—mocking my disinterest in its maintenance. Frustration would be my vengeful fuel to get the job done. On my own, without help, and without having to pay someone. But how?
My mom, dad, or brother cared for the yard when I was growing up. I have no yard work experience, as it has always intimidated me. Lawnmowers and leaf blowers seemed scary and loud. Other dangerous tools required skillful maneuvering. If I was forced to participate, I did such a lousy, half-hearted job that I was laid off immediately. I never accomplished the task fast enough or did it in a way deemed correct.
Weed removal was the only thing I had experience in. There was a short instance of being so bored during the COVID outbreak the prior year I circled my house, pulling weeds. I would leave their corpses to shrivel up and die in the sun. No gloves, just my hands.
So where to start? I decided I would quietly and stealthily observe my neighbors. Some neighbors had industry professionals fan out to accomplish tasks. Others were making time in the evening or on weekends to mow. To further develop my research, I questioned a co-worker and my parents. All of them agreed the process of mowing the lawn was extremely straightforward. My parents added even if I did a small patch of grass to figure it out, that wasn’t illegal. It’s my yard. No law says I have to mow the entire yard perfectly in one day and one day only.
Finally, on a Tuesday evening, I felt ready. Headphones in, I pushed the inactive mower out of the garage. Holding onto the handle, I yanked the pull cord once. It caught slightly. I tugged at it again, and the lawn mower came to life.
The noise was thunderous. Thankfully, I picked an older playlist, not an audiobook or podcast. I could barely hear my phone. It was now just me and the lawn mower. I wasn’t sure how fast I should have been going, so I moved slowly, waltzing the mechanical beast around the yard.
The further along I went, the more comfortable I got. I wanted to get the job done and over with at one point and decided to pick up the speed. Our Waltz became the Quickstep. Hilly parts were tricky. It was tough trekking down even the slightest inclines and miserable yanking the mower back up. Pushing it uphill wasn’t nice, either. I likened it to a weighted sled push at the gym.
I didn’t finish the entire lawn that night but had conquered my fear of the unknown. Mowing the lawn just once unlocked a hidden self-confidence and a new perspective. I can do as little or as much mowing as I want. I can now note (and judge) the grass length of my surroundings. Nothing was challenging or scary about making an effort to try.
Yardwork was different from what I thought it could be now that I am comfortable mowing the lawn. It has become a routine with unique perks. I cultivated a special playlist of fast-paced songs loud enough to drain out the mower’s noise. There is no other time I listen to it. The physical exertion of it equates to skipping the gym one more day a week (woohoo!). And when the work is done, I marvel at my progress, adrenaline pumping, and am excited to do more.