Friday, June 3

Yard Work and Sacrifice

I’m writing this post on the evening of Memorial Day, as my holiday weekend winds to a close and I’m switching gears for my work week to begin. Hubby is in the living room watching another one of the numerous military movies that have been running this great weekend. The black and white ones are his favorites, like “Sergeant York” and “Best Years of our Lives” to name just a couple.

At present, I’m hot, sweaty, and exhausted because—like so many people on a three-day weekend with glorious weather—we did yard work. Back-breaking, I-don’t-feel-guilty-for-missing-my-morning-workout, this-is-why-we-had-children yardwork. I have to give the kiddos credit… while shoveling fragrant mulch was not high on their list of fun things to do, they maintained a good attitude for the duration, and there were only a couple “are we finished yet?” whiney moments.

Yardwork was apparently the weekend plan for a lot of people. A trip to Lowe’s Hardware today for potted plants proved as harrowing as going to the grocery store for bread, eggs, and milk when there’s a winter storm threat. I nearly laughed at my hubby when he questioned whether the store would even be open. “But its Memorial Day,” he explained.

Memorial Day. A day to honor those who have died in military service to our country. To observe the freedoms we enjoy as a nation, bought and paid for by the lives of men and women in the service. Like other holidays, which are also meant to observe and honor and celebrate those who have sacrificed. Mother’s Day to honor the sacrifice Mothers make for our families. Father’s Day to celebrate the contributions of dads. July 4th to observe the historical importance and sacrifices made for our country’s independence. And Jesus Christ... He gets two holidays!

Holidays are special days, yet there are so many other days we declare to be “special”… so many meaningful and self-shaping moments of our individual lives… And most of them stem from some form of sacrifice, of self or of others. In a moment’s clarity, it made sense to me that these sacrifices—these hardships that we face and overcome, even on a daily basis—are what make us who we are. And these sacrifices can be both monumental (the birth of my children and thus my foray into parenthood) as well as routine (When I bite my tongue instead of yelling at hubby for leaving the toilet seat up).

These sacrifices make us better people. To be forged in the kiln of hardship makes us stronger, not weaker. And, when my children whine about having to haul another wheelbarrow of mulch and my knee-jerk reaction is to say “It builds character,” I am actually speaking a profound truth.

Except to maybe a masochistic few, yardwork is hard. Its tough, its exhausting, its physically taxing. But the end-result is worth the sacrifice we make, and not just because we have a pretty yard. Even though we may see it as simply superficial, routine, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses (or even a passion or hobby), yardwork strengthens us, physically and mentally.  We gain a sense of accomplishment from it. It “builds character.”

Now, I am by no means saying a day’s struggle of yardwork is on par with the sacrifices our military makes for our country. I’m simply saying sacrifice comes in all shapes and sizes. Being a writer is also a sacrifice. How many hours of sleep have you sacrificed because you were in the zone on a scene? How many cocktail napkins have you sacrificed because a storyline popped into your head and you had nothing else to write on? How much of your heart do you sacrifice when you finally put your book out there and someone trashes it?

On the positive side, sacrifice builds character, which is good because I need the help figuring out my characters for book #3. And every writer I’ve met is a character him/herself! So, as an industry, we got LOTS of character! Which means we’re all making a lot of sacrifices for our art.  

I want to end with a heartfelt (if belated) thank you to our military, and the sacrifices they make each and every day. Then I want to ask you, what sacrifices do you make for your writing?


  1. A great post. I'm trying to think of sacrifices. Sometimes there is sleep that doesn't happen, and sorrow when things don't go well, and inner panic when I'm blocked.

  2. I would imagine deadlines cause some sacrifice. Or more panic ;-) As self-pubbed, I can move my deadlines around as needed, but I would guess yours are a little more set-in-stone. :-)

  3. Good post, Ava! I couldn't agree more about yard work being a sacrifice--I would almost rather have my gums scraped than weed a garden. But I do it because I like the yard to look pretty. As for writing sacrifices--I keep a lot of late nights because day time is for other people's books. So sleep maybe is what I sacrifice or maybe even, down time in front of the TV--I don't do much of that...

  4. I loathe yard work. RadioMan loves it, so I leave him to it...and the plants and trees thank my black thumb for staying away. Great post, Ava!