What Careful Soil Testing Revealed About My Level of Patience

Soil testing in my garden accurately measured the level of my patience.

Listen to me read this post:

Dave tested his soil and found out that it was very low in phosphorous. He went to a seed plant, bought some, and added phosphorous to his garden. Now his potato plants are three feet tall.

“Do you want to borrow my kit?” he asked and so I did. I went out to the garden and dug down about four inches into what I considered to be the most depleted soil in the garden plot. I brought a trowel full of soil into the house to dry overnight.

The next morning and according to instructions, I mixed one part of the soil with five parts of water, swirled the mixture gently in a jar, and waited for the dirt and water to separate out a bit so that I could retrieve a small, fairly clear sample.

Dave’s phosphorous-filled garden soil produced beautiful vegetables.

The instructions included with the kit said that this separation could take as little as half-an-hour (Perfect!) or as long twenty four hours. “Twenty four hours!” I cried out in disbelief and felt the impatience start to gnaw. The next morning the soil still hadn’t settled to the bottom of the jar and the water was murky as heck. Still, I took a sample using the eyedropper provided and filled the plastic tube to the fourth line with the muddy water.

I was testing for phosphorous first hoping this might get me three feet tall potato plants like Dave’s.

Carefully separate the two halves of one of the capsules. Pour the powder into the tube.

Step 2 of the phosphorous test sounded pretty easy. I retrieved a conveniently coloured-coded blue capsule, grabbed each end and gave it a gentle twist. This caused a bend in the plastic, but the capsule didn’t open. Next I tried to snap the capsule in half at the spot where the two halves had been originally joined. Again, the capsule bent but didn’t open.

Finally, I took out a cutting board, placed the mangled blue capsule on it, and started stabbing at it with the pointy end of a sharp kitchen knife. This made a hole large enough for me to expand the opening by twisting the knife blade farther into it. By now, the only thing about the misshapen capsule that resembled its former self was its colour.

I held the capsule over the tube which held the water sample, turned it over, and spilled most of the powder on the kitchen counter. I muttered a phrase of which my mother would not have approved and spooned as much of the powder as I could off the counter and, bit by bit, into the tube.

After placing the colour-coded cap on the tube, I gave it a gentle shake, and placed the tube in its holder. Almost immediately this experiment determined two things:

  1. Our garden soil contains almost no phosphorus.
  2. My husband is in charge of opening any remaining capsules needed for testing.

Following this single test, we went away for a week. I put the jar containing the dirt and water mixture in the fridge hoping that the soil would settle and the water would rise while we were gone. When we returned home I flung open the fridge door to see my jar of test water as muddy as before. Impatience visited again. “It’s been a week!”

Still, I thought I might as well use the sample to try another test. I filled one more tube with murky water and asked my husband kindly to open an appropriately colour-coded capsule.

Cap the tube and shake thoroughly.

I got a bit dizzy but the motion really relaxed my muscles. Then I realized that the instruction’s author was referring to the tube. Shake the tube thoroughly. After I regained my balance, I did.

Allow colour to develop for 10 minutes.

Ten minutes. That sounds about right. I set the timer on the stove and counted down. When the timer went off, the water had not changed colour.

“I bet the cold fridge killed whatever was supposed to show up in this test!” I proclaimed with no science to back my theory. Science doesn’t matter these days. No one with a different education knows more than me. What matters is what I believe in my gut and I believed that the soil sample was ruined. I’d have to gather a new sample and wait twenty four hours before doing anymore testing.

And so I tossed the soil and water mixture into the garden with disgust and rinsed out the jar. Then I saw that the liquid in the tube had turned green. Soil testing proved that our soil is full of alkali and I am full of, among other things, impatience.

Speaking of patience…

I received a note in my mailbox recently to inform me of an upcoming inconvenience. The brief notice closed with this:

Thank you for your patients!

Editors always notice things like this. Mostly I think it’s funny but I don’t laugh too long because it’s also humbling. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when writing and I plan to continue.

This topic reminds me of my second year of university during which I did not give a hoot about academics. Obviously. One morning, I wandered into my English class to see that the professor had scrawled across the whiteboard a very embarrassing phrase I’d misused in my most recent essay. Mercifully, she didn’t reveal the identity of the student who produced that phrase which, in turn, produced a lot of laughter.

Partly because of this experience, I laugh shortly and correct gently.

If you’re writing something, a piece as short as a newsletter or a project as long as a memoir, I can help. I work as both a content writer and as an editor.

Thanks for reading. Take care and keep safe. ~ Lori

What Really Matters

Official Grad

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a good long weekend. This is a re-post of an earlier article. As I wrap up two weeks of vacation, it’s good to remember as I head in the direction of home, what really matters. Take care and enjoy!

Starting a business is hard! What’s more difficult yet is trying not to become completely self-absorbed while working to start a business. These nights, I dream of advertising. My thoughts constantly turn to content marketing and customer-engagement strategies. I can get a little too focused when undertaking a project. This is both good (if you’re my customer) and bad (if you’re me attempting to live a balanced life).

When reading another writer/editor’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that being able to pursue a meaningful career is a privilege. The blogger reminded me that I’m educated and live in a wealthy part of the world. This gives me a head start. He went on to say that there are people all over this big old world for who job success means survival, getting enough food and water to make it through another day. His blog post put things in perspective.

Listen to me read this post:

These days, it’s easy for me to lose perspective, to become caught up in the small things. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. It’s not difficult to know what really matters, but it does take stopping for a moment to remember.

IMG_1809
Deer on a hillside during an autumn evening walk.

Peace of mind matters.

Peace of mind and heart really matter. If we have these things, we are a benefit to the world. When we lack happiness, we contribute to the overall miserableness of the world. I don’t think the world needs our contribution in this area. But the planet and its inhabitants need our happiness, our support, and our encouragement.

Helping others is fulfilling.

Helping others matters. I was lucky this summer to get in touch with a charity that supports a cause that’s important to me. I do some volunteer editing for them and though it’s a cliché, I get way more out of this experience than I put into it. Editing and writing is what I do, and it’s fulfilling to use my skills to help.

Getting off devices and into the real world matters.

Being in the real world and off of devices really matters. As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time on my computer. That’s how it goes, and having begun my career using an electric typewriter, I’m grateful for a word-processing program.

IMG_4157.jpg
A lone, frosty tree.

Thankful for technology or not, I try to get out and walk every day. I crave the touch of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. I like to feel my muscles moving my skeleton along the sidewalks and country roads. I love the soft sound of wind in the grass and of crows in treetops plotting their next migratory move. Technology helps me work and social media give me a little rush, but being outside makes me feel alive.

Quiet contemplation matters.

While getting outside is important, so is going inside. For me to realize what matters in life, it’s most useful to just sit quietly and clear my mind. I like looking at my thoughts, watching them swirl around and finally settle as I relax. Quiet contemplation restores peace of mind and makes room for perspective. This is how I stop to consider what really does matter.

Me in a big shovel
Me experiencing the real world.

It’s a rare privilege.

It’s so easy to start striving for what I think I want and to forget that being able to run down a dream is a rare privilege and a wonderful opportunity. A very few of us get to even try to do what we want with our lives. Today, I was reminded that I am one of the fortunate few.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Please follow my blog here. Sign up to receive my latest posts right in your email inbox. Thanks for being here with me!

~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Publishing

DIGITAL CAMERA
Me flogging the books I’ve published.

Wow. I’ve just had a most-rewarding experience.

I’ve been fortunate to publish three of my own books. I worked with book designers, e-book producers, editors, and printers. I learned how to get ISBNs and how to get catalogue in publication information.  By the time I published three books, I’d learned a lot.

When I was finished with my own publishing, I helped individuals to write and record their own family stories. These were published less formally for the family and friends of my clients to enjoy.

Listen to me read this post:

And now I’ve just completed editing and publishing a book for a client. While doing this project, I realized how much I love this work! In my various roles as a teacher and community volunteer, I always knew I enjoyed pulling projects together and overseeing the details to make everything run as smoothly as possible. This publishing project allowed me use to all my organizing skills and all that I’d learned in publishing my own works.

 

The most satisfying end came to me this morning in the form of a thank you letter from my client Wendy. Here it is below.

I hope you all have a good weekend, as peaceful and/or productive as you want it to be!

Cheers,

~ Lori

Wendy's Books CoverDear Lori,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for making my long-held dream come true.

When I first came to you, I had a vision in my mind.  I wanted to create a little book.  I knew what I wanted it to say, how I wanted the pages to feel and how I wanted to images to look.  I knew how I wanted people to be able to hold it and open it and use it.  I knew what I wanted but I had no idea how to make it happen.

The first gift you gave me on this project was acceptance.  You supported me emotionally as I took the leap to present my idea to the world.  You gave me confidence and encouraged me.  Thank you.

The second gift you gave me was peace of mind.  I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge.  I didn’t even know where to start.  You took over and handled all the details.  You managed the editing, the formatting and the printing.  You even helped steer me in the right direction about the binding.   You worked out details of things that I wouldn’t have even known to ask about.  You completely took the stress away for me.  Thank you.

The third gift was the book itself.  When I held the copy in my hands for the first time, I cried.  It was everything I imagined.  You have no idea what you have done for me.  Without you, this book would still just be a dream.  Thank you.

I look forward to your guidance in the future as we make electronic and audio versions available.

With deepest appreciation,            

Wendy Olson-Lepchuk

Wendy Headshot
Wendy Olson-Lepchuk, Author and Clinical Hypnotherapist

If you want to know more about Wendy and her work, please visit her website.

What Really Matters

Official Grad

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a good lomg weekend. This is a re-post of an earlier article. As I wrap up two weeks of vacation, it’s good to remember as I head in the direction of home, what really matters. Take care and enjoy!

Starting a business is hard! What’s more difficult yet is trying not to become completely self-absorbed while working to start a business. These nights, I dream of advertising. My thoughts constantly turn to content marketing and customer-engagement strategies. I can get a little too focused when undertaking a project. This is both good (if you’re my customer) and bad (if you’re me attempting to live a balanced life).

When reading another writer/editor’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that being able to pursue a meaningful career is a privilege. The blogger reminded me that I’m educated and live in a wealthy part of the world. This gives me a head start. He went on to say that there are people all over this big old world for who job success means survival, getting enough food and water to make it through another day. His blog post put things in perspective.

Listen to me read this post:

These days, it’s easy for me to lose perspective, to become caught up in the small things. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. It’s not difficult to know what really matters, but it does take stopping for a moment to remember.

IMG_1809
Deer on a hillside during an autumn evening walk.

Peace of mind matters.

Peace of mind and heart really matter. If we have these things, we are a benefit to the world. When we lack happiness, we contribute to the overall miserableness of the world. I don’t think the world needs our contribution in this area. But the planet and its inhabitants need our happiness, our support, and our encouragement.

Helping others is fulfilling.

Helping others matters. I was lucky this summer to get in touch with a charity that supports a cause that’s important to me. I do some volunteer editing for them and though it’s a cliché, I get way more out of this experience than I put into it. Editing and writing is what I do, and it’s fulfilling to use my skills to help.

Getting off devices and into the real world matters.

Being in the real world and off of devices really matters. As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time on my computer. That’s how it goes, and having begun my career using an electric typewriter, I’m grateful for a word-processing program.

IMG_4157.jpg
A lone, frosty tree.

Thankful for technology or not, I try to get out and walk every day. I crave the touch of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. I like to feel my muscles moving my skeleton along the sidewalks and country roads. I love the soft sound of wind in the grass and of crows in treetops plotting their next migratory move. Technology helps me work and social media give me a little rush, but being outside makes me feel alive.

Quiet contemplation matters.

While getting outside is important, so is going inside. For me to realize what matters in life, it’s most useful to just sit quietly and clear my mind. I like looking at my thoughts, watching them swirl around and finally settle as I relax. Quiet contemplation restores peace of mind and makes room for perspective. This is how I stop to consider what really does matter.

Me in a big shovel
Me experiencing the real world.

It’s a rare privilege.

It’s so easy to start striving for what I think I want and to forget that being able to run down a dream is a rare privilege and a wonderful opportunity. A very few of us get to even try to do what we want with our lives. Today, I was reminded that I am one of the fortunate few.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Please follow my blog here. Sign up to receive my latest posts right in your email inbox. Thanks for being here with me!

~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a People-pleasing Perfectionist

80 Words

All right, fellow perfectionists and people pleasers, this one’s for us.

On my last editing course, I got 70%. It’s a passing grade, but it’s not the high score and dripping praise I’m used to. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing.

So why am I telling you?

I’m sharing this because although the mark was disappointing, it was also very instructive. (Apparently, it was more instructive than the course.)

Listen to me read this classic post:

In receiving that score, I learned a truckload about myself. I was mortified and confused at the grade I got on my final assignment, and then equally shocked and bewildered at how I completely overlooked submitting the last reflection piece for the course. What the…?

Editing Books 2

When I opened up the online campus website and received notification of my mark, I had a really strong, very unpleasant reaction. First, an ice-cold bolt of embarrassment shot up my spine and into the base of my skull.

How do you recover from 70%?

Next, my mind started whirling. How would I redeem myself in the eyes of the instructor? How could I assure her that I am actually a pretty good person and not a bad writer? How would I rebuild my life and my reputation after receiving 70%?

Clearly, I over-reacted. At that time, though, I didn’t want to judge my reaction. That’s pointless. Instead, I wanted to know why I reacted this way, so strongly, like my body and mind were suddenly poisoned. What’s up with that? That was a question worth answering.

So I dropped the urge to blame myself or blame the instructor. (I really wanted to blame someone.) I avoided making excuses or creating justifications. (I had a million excuses ready to go.) I wanted to get at the reason 70% bothered me so much. (This was harder than blaming or making excuses.)

 New information and lifelong learning

When I looked closely, the answer stared right back at me: I’m a people-pleasing perfectionist! Who knew? This information genuinely surprised me, but it’s the fact responsible for my humiliation.

IMG_0853 (2)

I wanted to impress the instructor and I wanted to do the assignment perfectly. Neither of these things is always possible and they sure didn’t happen in this case.

Half a century later…

It took me nearly half a century and a lot of wasted energy, but I think I understand. I really can’t please everyone all the time. Occasionally I’m going to try something and get the equivalent of 70%.

These facts are difficult to accept. They are also freeing. Until now, I thought it was just a saying: You can’t please everybody so you’ve got to please yourself. This songwriter wasn’t kidding. I really can’t please everyone. At times, I won’t make anyone happy. This is new and useful information. It’s kind of reassuring.

A hard habit to break

People-pleasing perfectionism is going to be a hard habit to break. If I succeed at freeing myself from this addiction, what will I do with all the time I spent trying to make people like and accept me?

I know! I’ll work on liking and accepting myself. I’ll live my own life without fearing what folks might think.

Mixing Metaphors

I can’t change others, but I can change how I love and support myself. Then, instead of chasing around after praise and adoration, I can walk out into the world comfortable in my own flawed skin with love to give. My actions won’t be perfect, but they will be genuine and maybe that’s what matters most.

 

 

Did you like what you read here? Consider following my blog either right here on WordPress or through email. See the right sidebar to follow me. It’s easy and it’s free. This way, you won’t miss any of my posts. Thanks for reading! ~ Lori

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