5 Life Lessons I Learned While Shoveling Snow

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Red plastic shovel with black handle stuck in fluffy snow.Into each life, a little rain must fall…or snow, as the case may be. I spent all weekend shoveling out from Mother Nature’s latest gift, and while clearing my driveway, I started clearing my mind. It occurred to me that there was a lot more you could learn from shoveling snow than just remembering to lift with your legs.

Here’s what a couple of hours in the quiet white with my trusty shovel taught me:

1. Plan for the pain – it’ll help you get over it faster. Before I go out and shovel, I take a couple of pre-emptive Advil. I know I’m going to be aching when I’m done, and the Advil takes the worst of it away before it starts. You need to learn to handle life the same way. There’s going to be in pain sometimes. It’s an unavoidable fact of life. Make sure you’ve got a support system in place of friends, family, therapist, Internet support boards – any or all of these combined. No man (or woman) is an island. You might want to be on an island when things go wrong, but if that’s not an option, you need people to fall back on.

2. It might look insurmountable, but you start with one shovel full. Problems and stresses can blow and pile like snowdrifts all around us. Sometimes it looks like you’ll never be able to clear out the stuff that’s clogging your happiness. Just like digging out from a mountain of snow, you start with the first shovel full, and clear a spot for you to stand. Then you move another shovel full, and another, and another. Eventually, it clears away and you can get where you need to go.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m a single mother. A huge snowfall can mean hours of shoveling for me. This can get especially stressful if it’s on a week day and I need to get to work. I’ve learned that sometimes, I simply have to ask for help, whether that’s flagging down my neighbor with the snow blower and asking if he’ll hit my sidewalks or calling my boss and asking for a little leniency so I can clear off my car and not drive like a crazy woman over icy roads to get there. Just like with life, sometimes you can’t do it all. Sometimes, you shouldn’t do it all. Ask for help when you truly need it, and repay in kindness wherever you can. I recommend fresh-baked cookies.

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Ellie is a parenting and relationship blogger, a full-time working autism Mom, published author, and frequently exhausted person. In addition to her blog, SingleMomtism, she is the author of “Yoga Pants & Pinot: A Practical Guide to Surviving Divorce” and “David And Me Under The Sea: Essays From A Decade With Autism.” She has previously blogged for WomansDay.com. Most days you can find Ellie slogging her way through the world of single parenting, mid-life dating and reinventing herself with a pop-tart in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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