green grass and brown mulch with white lounge chair sitting in the middle
Creative Thoughts and Images,  Decisions,  Distress,  Erotic Journal Challenge,  Every Damn Day in June,  Experiences,  Lifestyle,  Memes and Things


Just relax.  Calm down, and everything will work out just fine.  Breathe.  I’m sure we have all heard these phrases of condolences and trying to inspire hope.  I get it.  What else can you say?  Everyone is feeling the pressure from our current state in the world.  Bottom line?  There are no words that induce relaxation.

In November of 2019, I adopted a puppy.  He is a German Shepherd puppy.  The last thing I needed was a puppy.  I already had a great dog who had settled in his ways, and we had a good routine.  We could relax as much as we wanted.  The puppy changed that.  He is missing his back foot.  It didn’t slow him down, but it did add some small challenges to his training.  No matter how cute puppies are, folks never remember that puppies are a shit ton of work!  Potty training a puppy in the winter is not fun for a chic that hates the cold.

In December, I had surgery.  Not a huge deal, but it knocked me off my feet.  I had been working part-time after my client went on maternity leave, so I was worried about money.  (Yes, I know.  Being concerned about money and adding a puppy wasn’t smart).  I made it through and had a lot of support.  It was stressful not being able to drive and knowing that my Mom depends on me for a lot since my Dad passed away.  She was a trooper and understood.

After that – things became a blur.  I remember starting my fulltime job again, and things seemed kind of normal again. I was still wrangling the puppy.  At some point, my daughter told me she was struggling.  We started our process of working through the steps we needed to take.  It is a familiar path but not a pleasant one.

Then, Covid19 hit my region with a vengeance.  Like most people, I was worried and scared.  I followed the rules and started working from home. I was one of the lucky ones whose fulltime job was flexible enough for me to maintain my finances.  With no idea of how long we would go on like this, I calmly did what I had to.

In April (never a good month for me for multiple reasons), I had to say goodbye to my older dog.  This little guy saw me through a lot of really rough times, and he saved me on many occasions.  After my separation from my wife, I was in a very dark place.  He gave me a reason to get up every morning.  It is hard to admit that had he not been with me, I’m not sure I would have gotten out of bed at all.  He was very critically ill.  It seemed like it happened overnight, but honestly, with everything going on, I probably missed some signals he was giving me.

I am not one to talk about all the things that are happening in my life, the good or the bad.  If you ask, I’ll tell you, but I enjoy hearing about other people’s lives as much as I share my own.  Relax?  No, there was nothing relaxing going on with me.  Still recovering from surgery, worried about my family, saying goodby to my furbaby, and in general dealing with my usual seasonal sadness and missing the sun.

This handsome boy deserves to have a place to call his own where he can relax too!

German shepherd puppy laying on green grass
Ronan Zohn

I wasn’t looking for a way to relax.  The puppy needed a fence and a place to run.  The back yard was big but no fence.  I started looking for options and found one I put up temporarily because I don’t own the house.  It was an easy project.  I put it up alone and was quite pleased with how it turned out.  It kept him in the backyard and he was able to run and stretch his legs.  While still a puppy he had grown quite a bit and had a ton of energy.  I was pleased I had made the investment.  I was also happy that I would no longer have to jump over his lead that he was tied to before the fence was put up.  He was happy too!

Maybe a little mulch in this area will make the yard look fresher!

I realized I would be spending a lot of time back there with him.  He needed to play but he also needed some training.  The backyard was kind of plain.  Last year I built a small patio and I had a firepit I never used because I am alone and just never bothered to go out back.  Looking around I decided to add some mulch to one area that I would claim as my sunbathing area.  Prepping for the nice weather I was craving so badly.  I ordered mulch and had it delivered.  I did the calculations and may be trusted my inept math skills a little too much.

Tall tower of bagged mulch next to a fence and a green house

Yep!  That is 75 bags of mulch that towered over me.  It was quite the task to do alone, but I didn’t have an option.  I ripped off the plastic and carried the bags, one at a time to the area I wanted to mulch.  I had already put down the weed and grass block, so this was just a matter of getting on my shoulder and walking to where it needed to go.  It took a minute but not as bad as I thought it would.  Thankfully it was a sunny day but also very breezy, so it wasn’t too bad.

bags of mulch lined up on the ground

The little table and chair set are from my Dad.  It needed a special place so I could sit and remember the times we sat together.  They waited patiently for the project to be finished.

I sliced open all the bags and started spreading the mulch out.  It was a pretty quick project.  I had it spread and raked in about three hours included the walking back and forth, so I was patting myself on the back about that.  I stood back and looked at my finished project and took a deep breath.  I was oddly relaxed. I certainly didn’t start this little project to relax.  I was just looking for a designated tanning area.  I knew I would be able to relax in this space.  I didn’t realize the joy of doing it would relax me.  It felt right to move.  It felt energizing to lift and carry and stretch and sweat and breath a little harder.

I placed everything where I wanted it after the mulch was spread out and stood back to admire my work.

green grass and brown mulch with white lounge chair sitting in the middle

I was delighted.  I was looking forward to laying in the sun.  When someone told me to relax, I would just go out to the back yard.  The border looked okay.  It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t going to stress over that.  I was going to relax.

But… it needs something.  Love, Laughter, and Friends are Always Welcome here.

Sometimes in my brain, little projects are just that, quick and easy.  I felt there was too much brown space.  I could relax there, but I would always be wanting to add this or that.  So I started with “accents.”

paver in the middle of brown mulch with words love laughter and friends are always welcome here

I found this online.  I have never been drawn to sunflowers.  They are pretty and popular in my area, but I like this because of the phrase on it, and I thought the yellow would look good against the brown mulch.  My whole house is decorated in black and red, so picking another color was necessary to brighten things up a bit.

Then, I found this cute little guy and thought he would look good in the corner of the mulch bed!  I have always loved turtles.  I think they are my spirit animal.  I have a red-eared slider in my living room, and I never have to tell him to relax.  He just does.  He swims, and eats, and lays in the sun.  Relax is his middle name.  I have learned a lot from Gibbs, the turtle, so I wanted to honor him outside as well.

brown mulch with green metal turtle and three yellow rocks.

Looking at my progress, my eyes went straight to that empty space on the fence.  Let’s fix that with a little accent too!  I know I should just enjoy and relax this back yard, but I kept finding things that would look good.  I decided to toll with the sunflower theme, and well, that stuff is everywhere!

wooden fence with grassy Busches and metal sunflower hanging on the fence

Now that the accents are added, I can sit back and relax and enjoy my back yard.

Hmm… That section looks nice, but I wish that the oil tank wasn’t so visible and offset.  My OCD was kicking in.  What can I do with that ugly thing?  Should I paint it?  Can I paint the oil tank? That may be a lot of work.  Wait!  I have two pallets from the mulch delivery, and I can put those up to block the tank.  Hmm… the pallets are gross and dirty and not very attractive.  I’ll paint them black and stencil sunflowers on them!  (I have no fucking idea where that creative process came from, but I ordered paint and stencils and waiting for them to be delivered.  I would relax while waiting.  Paint and stencil in hand, and here we go!

pallet painted block with sunflower painted on them      two pallets painted and sunflowers stenciled on them with silk sunflowers in the top of them.

Ok, so the plan was to block the oil tank, but the pallets weren’t tall enough.  So, I just relaxed about that and promptly ordered outdoor fake sunflowers that I would put in the top to block the rest of the tank.  I didn’t order enough and had to order more. I am still waiting for them.  I am happy with how this turned out.  I also had leftover much, so I put that around the tank and painted more rocks yellow to add some color.  I wasn’t out of control at all.  This project was all about being able to relax!

It started getting hot, and I thought, if I am going to be in the sun and Ronan will be out there with me, we will need to be able to cool off.  So I ordered a pool that he would puncture with his claws.  We could both relax with a pool!

Red small pool on brown mulch with German shepherd dog inside

Ronan loved the idea!  Yes, there is room for both of us to relax in this pool. However, he is a puppy and thinks it is more fun to run in circles and bite and splash.  So, I relax in the chair and just let him cool me off now and then, either by splashing me or coming over and shaking off so that I get refreshed that way.

So, we now have a nice handcrafted back yard that we can spend all day and relax together.  Wonderful!  As the sun starts to go down and the tanning is done, there is nothing left to do but relax by the fire.  Ronan learned quicking to keep his distance from the fire pit, but he also understood quickly that this was how to relax.  Staring at a fire and listening to music and laughing at the silly things he does.

mosaic fire pit with orange flame, red chair in the background    Fire pit with small flame and German shepherd puppy behind it

Again this project started with the thought, “I’ll just get some mulch to make things look a little fresher” so we can relax back here.  I had no idea it would turn into a two-month project with additional little creative things that I still have no idea where I got them.  Maybe being sheltered in place didn’t fry my brain the way I thought it did.  Who knows, but Ronan and I know we have a charming back yard that only we see, and only we enjoy until we can invite people over to share it with them.  We both hope that happens soon.

I know this was a really long post.  I guess I wanted to give the full story before I started my conclusion that there are many ways to relax.  It isn’t always yoga or meditation.  When the lockdown started on top of everything else I had going on I pulled out the candles and yoga mat and gave it a try.  I didn’t really relax that way.  I would love to say that working out was my outlet and a way I could relax, but that would be a lie.  I have to force myself to work out and am usually disappointed in myself for not doing it.  I always feel better after I work out, but it is a struggle to get there and has never been relaxing for me.

What made this project relaxing for me was that from the beginning to the end, I had a purpose.  Sometimes too much purpose as my ideas snowballed from a little mulch to painting and stenciling pallets and cinder blocks.  I had a purpose.  I was too busy to care that no one was texting me, calling me, pinging me.  I had little time to worry about Mom and my daughter.  That usually happened at night when I was supposed to be sleeping.  All this work made me feel tired but I also felt productive and that made me relax.  It gave me permission to rest and relax.

pink circle for the erotic journal challenge




  • Brigit Delaney

    I’m a lot like this, too. I relax best and deepest after bouts of productivity…when I can sit back and appreciate the hard work I have accomplished.

    You have created a beautiful space where you can go to find peace. I love to just hang out in my yard with the dogs and cats and a book and wine and sunshine. I love that fireplace (that is my next goal).

    Beautiful pup, btw! And all that work WAS a workout…so there’s that, too.

    • Toy

      Thanks. It kind of took flight without goal or purpose but all fell together. I love being out there and spending time with Ronan ( GSD). Even though at times I’m lonely for human contact – it’s a kind of sanctuary that is protected by the stuff going on in the world. It’s my space.

    • Toy

      Thank you! I am very pleased with it. And happy that I am down to just maintaining it now.

      My pup (Ronan Zohn) is a sweet heart. I originally took him in to train him for someone else but that fell through so he is staying. He is missing a foot so we are going to start visiting hospitals (vet and child) to offer support. We were on track until everything shut down so we are a little behind but we will get there

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