There’s nothing like the time immediately after a marathon to shift your focus outside of yourself.

I will be joyfully attending the wedding of my friends Emily and Robbie this weekend, and as for the rest of the month — well, let’s just say that the birthday card aisles of Target and Walgreen’s always get to know me really, really well in May.

Last Saturday wasn’t a birthday or wedding, but I had the privilege of participating in something just as worthy of celebration: fixing up a home.

My friends Dustin and Shannon sit on the board of Rebuilding Together Albuquerque, a non-profit organization whose mission is to renovate the homes of low-income homeowners who are elderly or disabled. Dustin and Shannon invited Robin Hood and I to help with a renovation project. Robin Hood, being handy, accepted eagerly. I, having a more elementary grasp of handiwork (hey, at least I’ve never hammered any fingers!), accepted more…cautiously. I wanted to help, but I wasn’t entirely sure how useful how I would be.

We arrived at the designated house just after 8 am — it felt nice to get up early on a weekend for something other than a run, I must say. After some introductions, distribution of safety goggles, and my grateful observation of the onsite porta-potty, we got to work. Robin Hood got assigned indoor duty, which meant tearing up floors and doing other such tasks that raised lots of noise and dust.

I was sent to the yard.

The other Shannon and I trooped outside, sporting sturdy gloves. We wielded a shovel, two rakes, an armful of Hefty garbage bags, and grim determination. And we needed them all.

It’s been a while since I’ve tackled serious yard work. Sure, I’ve helped friends pull weeds over the years, and assisted with some gardening, but living in an apartment, my “yard work” consists primarily of dumping potting soil into flower pots. Fairly mild stuff. As I began tugging at the weeds that carpeted that yard on Saturday, eying at the same time the haphazard piles of lawn debris and leaves that needed raking and bagging, I shuddered just a little.

However, we soon fell into a rhythm of pulling, raking, and bagging, and our chatter made the time pass quickly. There’s something about uncomplicated manual labor, especially the outdoor variety, that just feels good. You put in honest hard work, and you see the results instantly. My back may have gotten a little achy, but the part of me that loves to organize was positively dancing.

One of the best parts of the day was meeting the gentleman who owned the house, as well as his granddaughter. They were as nice as could be, and thanked us repeatedly for everything we were doing. Meeting them, and seeing how just a little bit of work can go a LONG way in helping someone, was humbling.

I can’t begin to describe how impressed I was by the Rebuilding Together team. From the leadership, to the doling out and management of the many renovation tasks, to food, to the porta-potty (I get excited by convenient toilets, okay?), to the can-do attitudes of everyone, these folks did a stellar job.

When they do another project, my work gloves will be ready and waiting.


3 thoughts on “Rebuilding

  1. Good for you helping out this way! We try to do things like that when we can – and it is very satisfying.

    And I totally get what you are saying about the manual labor thing – we were doing that sort of thing a couple of weeks ago in our yard as well, just basics really, but disconnecting from technology, enjoying the outdoors and doing work … it can be very satisfying!

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