Everyday Epiphany, Gardening, humor

Ditching A Habit and Upgrading Routine to Ritual

“Do you really need all those shoes by the door?” Mike asked as he sidestepped the pile.

My bad habit

Considering the number of sandals, slip-ons and sneakers heaped by BOTH doors and having the customary two feet, I assumed the question rhetorical.

Shucking the inside Hoka sneakers, outside Brooks sneakers, flowery Birkenstocks, New Balance sneakers downgraded to gardening, Sketcher slip-ins upgraded to running errands, and “past their prime on their last legs” (or last feet) Clarks on the mats when I entered, testified to a bad habit.

It minimized Mike’s bad habit of leaving his coffee cup on the counter. (“Why can’t he put it in the dishwasher?” I muttered more than once.)

A mound of shoes presented an accident risk. However, if “a tripping over shoes” mishap did occur, suing would be fruitless. In 2019 John Walworth of Cleveland tripped over Judy Khoury’s (his fiancé) pumps and fell down the basement stairs breaking his arm and hand. He sued her for the $80,000 in medical bills. The judge ruled that Walworth should have watched where he was going and ruled in his fiancé’s favor. It was poor judgement on her part to leave the shoes at the top of the stairs. It was even poorer judgement to later marry him.

Not wanting my annoying shoe shucking bad habit to become a major legal issue or a minor quarrel I needed to ditch the “Shucking My Shoes” habit and establish a “Putting Away My Shoes” routine. I’d create the “Putting Away My Shoes” routine right after I completed my favorite “Walking Terra” routine.

Each morning, I channeled Scarlett O’Hara from GONE WITH THE WIND. While Scarlett owned a bazillion acres that she surveyed by buggy for hours and I have not a bazillion acres that I walked in a nanosecond, I’m still interested in the condition of my property. 

Putting on my “past their prime on their last legs” Clarks, I thought about John Walworth and the judge’s “You should have watched where you were going tripping over shoes” verdict. Shouldn’t we all really watch where we were going? 

Today I would not only watch, I would observe instead of look. I would examine rather than glance. 

John Walworth missed the shoes. What was I missing?



Just a stick on the lawn

I looked at the stick on the lawn and thought last night’s wind snapped off a branch from the tree. 


I observed the small limb and thought the splotches on this branch are lichens. (I remembered that from “Field Biology 101” at Blackburn College.)

Mortar Rim Lichen splotched the stick

In general, lichens were fungi that palled around with algae. They grew closely together and appeared as one organism. The fungi supported the algae. The algae fed the fungi. They helped each other like good neighbors- a symbiotic relationship.

Specifically, this lichen was a Mortar Rim Lichen of the Lecanora genus. Species grow worldwide including Antarctica. The name came from the Greek words “lekanon” meaning bowl and “ora” meaning beauty. Up close Mortar Rim Lichen resembled a beautiful bowl.


And at first, I only saw a stick on the lawn!



I looked at the weed in my garden and thought how did I miss pulling that?

How did I miss this weed?


I observed the tall thistle and thought what kind of thistle was this spiky?

Spikes covered the Bull Thistle.

According to my research (Thank you Google!) there were over 200 species of thistle. The Bull Thistle loomed over my perennials. A thorny stem distinguished it from other Illinois thistle species. Thorns not only covered the stems, but each leaf ended in a spike. I’d need to suit up in armor and don titanium lined gloves to extract THIS interloper.

But like everything in life, there were pros and cons. The Bull Thistle was an invasive thistle with a strong tap root. The windblown seeds established new plants and formed a colony. However, the Bull Thistle supported pollinators like Bumble Bees and Painted Lady Butterflies. American Goldfinches and Indigo Buntings ate the seeds and used the tufts to line their nests. 

And I thought, I only saw a big weed needing pulling!



I looked at the wren on my fence and thought he’s flitting about.

A wren flitted on the fence.


I observed the wren and thought he’s flitting about to catch bugs. 

A tidbit for the wren and he might pluck out the spider as well!

House wrens ate mainly insects. Their diet of beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and caterpillars, to name a few, helped eradicate harmful garden pests. At times these tiny dynamos plucked spiders from their webs. 

Recently my neighbor hired an exterminator to rid their outside of spiders. They needed wrens!

Being fully engaged in my “Walking Terra” morning routine elevated the twenty minutes to ritual. My sense of purpose enhanced. 

I’ll hunt for different species of lichens during hikes.

I’ll pull the Bull thistle, and replace it with Globe Thistles.

I’ll build wren houses for my neighbors.

“Past their prime on their last legs” Clarks

I’ll also gather my heap of shoes and put them away.

I’ll establish a routine where I no longer shuck them off and leave them where they lie- except for my “past their prime on their last legs” Clarks.

I’ll need them for my morning “Walking Terra” ritual.

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