Living a Life by Example

This week I've noticed a few things that have made me feel a little proud of myself. Or, really, it's proud of our family.

Once upon a time, in the era before kids, I was a little bit of an activist. You know, one of those young people that believes if they speak "the truth" loudly enough and have a pamphlet to back it up then people will listen. Listen and obey. And change their horrid ways.

I don't think anyone ever changed their horrid ways because of me. But I did end up being told in not-so-polite terms that I shouldn't visit the country of Guatemala. Apparently lightly-vieled written death threats, even from 12 year olds, are taken rather seriously there.

I've mellowed a little, like a fine wine, with age. Part of it is increased awareness, understanding, and empathy, and the other part (probably the bigger part) is that I'm just too tired to be an actvivist!

But, I've discovered a new kind of expression. I've found that just be quietly living my life my way, by example, I can encourage people to rethink their ideas.

Last year we bought a reel mower. Okay, I admit, partly it was because reel mowers are much cheaper than electric or gas ones. But I was charmed by the idea that I would be getting exercise while mowing and using a healthier alternative for my lawn as well. Plus, I really didn't want to be part of the populace that spills more than 17 million gallons of gas each year - more than the Exon Valdez spilled in oil - while refueling (fact).

When I took the mower out of the box, it was about 10 minutes until it was assembled and hitting the lawn (about half of that just finding the right screwdriver). Within another 10 minutes half the neighbourhood kids were over checking it out and wanting to try it. And their parents were curious too! How the heck did I get their kids to mow my lawn for free?

It's safe enough that even my five year old can use it (he was four then) with some supervision. There's a guard so your toes don't go under the blade as you're walking and the blade stops turning the minute you stop walking. I hadn't even realised this other benefit to it until we started using it (I actually personally know three people who lost or nearly lost fingers in mower accidents).

We also decided to use a weed pincher to pull our dandelions rather than spraying or using chemical means. Our neighbours laughed at the effort, but guess who didn't burn their lawn with chemicals and guess who's currently resoiling and reseeding his dead lawn!?  That self-same neighbour has now purchased two weed pinchers and has extolled the virtues of natural lawn care to anyone who will listen.

I didn't walk around the neighbourhood with pamphlets proclaiming the benefits of reel mowers, but two of our neighbours have recently bought them. I didn't condemn our neighbour for using chemicals, but he learned his own lesson and is now ready to follow our lead.

I know not all the credit is mine. After all, they live in the same society I do and perhaps have done the same research; but it feels good to know that even though I'm no longer an activist, I can still be an examplist - living my life by example and gently and kindly sharing what I know with others. It feels great.

And it also makes me realise that as much as I wail against the deadening of our culture, the dumbing down of our society, the immoral attitudes reinforced by public media, etc, etc, if I can set a good example for people who see me once a week, then my children must be learning something from me. And that feels even better!


  1. I agree! It is the little things that make a difference. The leading by example. My Dad has still got one of these mowers. We don't have a garden so I don't need it!

    But yes, anything from those patio heaters that heat the sky to toxic weedkillers - I think people are beginning to catch on round here.

  2. LOL at your test. Talking to yourself again Dara?

    Good for you though really about the example you are setting.

  3. My mom had a push mower while we were kids growing up. It was a great example to see her out there mowing with it. I think you are awesome!! Rock on with your reel mower and weed pinchers. We can add that to our apple bran muffin revolution and change the world!!!!!!! XOXOXO

  4. PS Just read your post on the magical mystical powers of 3. Awesomenesss!! And brilliance all the way. I couldn't find a way to post a comment though. But I wanted you to know that I loved it. Esp. the ending with the pic of your kiddos. They are gorgeous.

  5. Great post! :) I've never ever seen one of those mowers in real life! Everyone I know uses electric ones. I don't know much (read: anything) about lawn care but you've made me rethink my mower choice!
    p.s. I was a bit of an activist too!

  6. Well, well-done you! I remember that kind of mower from when I was little. I hate electric ones - I'm always nervous of cutting the cable. And petrol mowers - ugh!

    (Okay, I hate mowing lawns in general. If we didn't have a lawn but had a kind of gravelly Zen garden), I'd be perfectly happy. Though I suppose we'd have to rake it for cat poo if we did...)

  7. @deerbaby: Oh the patio heaters.Listen, if you're cold get in out of it! Some people. Haven't got the sense they were born with.
    @Susie: I love talking to myself. In fact, I sometimes wonder if anyone comments on my blog at all or if it's just me subconciously doing it all myself
    @Naomi: I see that your mother did all the mowing. Hmmmm, now the truth comes out. Bet you were inside watching cartoons! :-D
    @Livi: Isn't it funny how we mellow as we age. Though judging by your tweets and facebook you're still a bit of activist anyway.
    @dadwhowrites: Yes, the worry of running over the cord or the paranoid fear I had that the mower would get away from me as the kids were playing on the lawn! I actually have a rock garden plan for our back. For some reason our lawn is all on the front and we've a narrow space at the back. So once I get the ground level patio in, the greenhouse and the vegetable garden, I'll be converting the rest to a gravel play area with sandbox and another gravel and "dry" plant area. We won't have to mow the backyard at all - but yes, the cat poop is not an appealing future.


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