Operation mow the lawn


I had to tackle this tough task sooner or later. Turns out it was later.

I mowed a lawn this week for the first time in my 30-[ahem] years. Just like veterinary practice manager Brian Conrad writes about "saying goodbye" in this month's cover story, I've said goodbye to one way of life—apartment living—and said hello to another—a cute little three-bedroom house.

The house's charms are many. Built in the 1920s, it features wood floors, quirky built-ins, and arched doorways. It also has a fenced yard punctuated by some lovely landscaping. I'm thrilled to be living there. But ever since I took residence, the lawn has been looming large in my mind, imparting a sense of mild foreboding.

The new digs, including the lawn that kicked my derriere.

My first task was to purchase a mower. As I am the editor of a management magazine, I know when it's best to delegate a task. So I enlisted my dad and a friend who's a golf course turf manager, both of whom know a thing or two about cutting grass. Sure enough, between the two of them, they identified the perfect model for me on Craigslist, and for $140 it was mine.

Now what to do with the thing. I have to yank what? I have to hold down which lever, along with what, but let the other one go when? My dad gave me a mini-tutorial at 7:30 one morning before work (I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled), and I managed to get the front patch mowed—and also cover my cute red suede shoes with grass. Oops.

That evening it was time to tackle the rest of the yard. My landlord (who also happens to be my coworker, Advanstar sales manager Jed Bean) said it took him about 30 minutes to do the whole thing. No problem—I already had it partly done. I could knock the rest of it out before dark and still have time to go for a run.

An hour later, I was panting, sweating, mildly cursing, and not even half done. You see, as I'd been researching and delegating and being instructed in the finer arts of lawn care, the grass had been growing ... and growing ... and growing. It was now a foot long, and my perfect mower had a tendency to die in the particularly lush patches. At one point my neighbor had to rescue me when I simply could not get it restarted. Between the mower, the jungle of a lawn, and my amateur technique, this was no stroll in the park—or the backyard, in my case.

Finally, with the last vestiges of daylight fading, I finished. I staggered inside and collapsed on the couch with the biggest glass of ice water I could manage. Looking out the windows, I saw that my mower tracks were squiggly and a few long spokes of grass were poking up between the rows. But it was still incredibly satisfying to see that (more or less) tidy green carpet. After about five minutes of admiring my work, I dragged myself up the stairs to bed—and was asleep by 9:30 p.m.

Saying goodbye is not easy, even when the change is welcome. But it almost always sets you on a path to new and exciting adventures that you'd never encounter otherwise. So take the time to grieve the past, if necessary. But keep your face turned to the future—even if the view contains a few rough patches for you and your veterinary practice.

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