Moving Logs or Love?

Why did it take a sprained upper and lower arm injury to alert me to something I had overlooked?  Because it often does. We wait until ‘something happens’ an injury, an accident or incident occurs before we stop and ask why.  In conversation with a physiotherapist we unlocked the hidden depths of what was really going on.

The task each morning before the gentleman I live with wakes up is to collect logs from the woodshed, carry it down a short grass incline, through a garden gate, porch, front door and lounge room door with step to get to where the log burner is situated in the lounge. Quite a few manoeuvres when observed like this.  

The question is not to ask what the task was or how it was carried out, but also why.

Like many carers mandatory training received instructs you on how to correctly and safely move and handle objects large and small, but for some reason in this case and this year I did not apply the guidelines. For example, it says maximum weight of load safely carried by women is 16 kg when held close to body at waist level. I knew this but for the past four months carried logs in a large bag, not close to body, with one hand held below waist level. It seemed effortless to me but of course it was not. There was, I admit a little insistence on my part I could still do this and felt good about it.

A conversation with the physiotherapist revealed a number of self-care oversights.

Self dis-regard – carrying a heavy bag of logs single-handed that led to muscle strain – suggests I was not listening to my body.  Had I stopped to listen I would have known the load I was carrying was too much. This is self-disregard. What made me disregard my body?  Was it push? Was I trying to prove something to myself, was I telling myself I could still do this at my age and build? Did I convince myself carrying a load of logs was equivalent to a fitness programme or weight training?

Un-responsiveness – a carer unresponsive to what each task offers misses out on the gold.  What if I asked myself what is the call here? Is it just to move a bag of logs, or is there more?  Am I just moving a ‘bag of logs’ or how does the energy I am in affect the whole movement for better or worse? In other words, how did I approach this task?

Function – focusing on function (getting the job done) rather than quality (how the task is completed) makes movements hard and mechanical. When walking to the wood shed, is it with outcome in mind, do I just want to get there and forget the quality of my walk? When love is present our movements are in flow.  

Lack of presence – each log has its own weight, its own quality. Without presence each log is treated in the same way, picked up without care and consideration and tossed in the bag.  How does this reflect other movements in our life?

Time-focussed – wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible so I can get on with the next, takes away the pleasure of completing the task with love and care, not rush.

A conversation with a physiotherapist rich with realisations:

Listen to the body first – standard guidelines for carrying loads that apply to everyone may not take into account your personal physique, strength, health and age. Set your own standards of self-care. In this case the carer (myself) in her early seventies and of slight build, the maximum weight load she can with ease carry may be way less than 16 kg.

Be observant of your own bodily changes – just because I was able to complete a task a year ago without strain, does not mean my body is equipped to do the same this year or in the same way. Adjust movements according to what your body needs.

Lovingly support your body – Ask yourself what compels you to carry all logs in a single trip? Who was it that said the log bag should be large?  Use a smaller bag – fill it with three or four logs maximum or whatever suits your body.  Lovingly and steadily make more than one trip to the log shed, doing so supports your body.

Move with presence – walk and appreciate each step as we do until we arrive at the log shed door. Walk back to the house with the same quality of presence with log bag tenderly cradled in arms, which you can do if the log bag is small!!

Bring love to each task – love not function.  Why pick up a log without consideration because it is an inanimate object, why not select and hold each one with care, place it carefully inside the log bag, without rush or effort to get the job done quickly?  Appreciate the logs and thank them for the service they provide keeping us warm in winter months in the home I live in and for all humanity. Treat them with utmost regard and tenderness.

No task is just a task, each is an offering to respond to lovingly or not

We are moving love, not logs.

We are all inextricably connected. On every level, what we do affects every other person. Every movement whether harsh or tender leaves a universal imprint.

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