There’s Always Next Year

My friend Dave ambled around the side of the house and into my backyard today as I was working. Not expecting anyone to visit and being focused on my work, I jumped out of my skin. He laughed and then we talked about calves and gardening while his red dog rolled happily around on my newly-cut lawn.

IMG_0881“My garden’s not doing anything,” he told me. “It’s too dry.” I’ve heard similar complaints from other friends and neighbours. The squash and zucchini seeds that I sowed are really slow to sprout.

“Our garden isn’t growing very well, either,” I reassured Dave.

He shrugged and said, “I don’t care if I don’t have a garden this year. There’s always next year.”

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“Is there?” I replied without even thinking.

Dave stopped and looked at me hard, and so I said, “Well we don’t know for sure, do we, if we’ll have a next year?” Dave looked skeptical. I was only being realistic but I could tell that this was a bit of a downer for Dave. I’m nice but I can be a bit of a downer sometimes.

It’s true that I never assume anymore that there’s a next year or a next month. I’m usually pretty sure there’s a next day but, one day, I’ll be wrong. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy to spend this June in my yard and in Mexico.

Seriously, I’ve never enjoyed yard work so much. When I was teaching and then going to school for a year, yard work was always a tedious task, a job that had to be rushed through and fit into an already hectic schedule. Today as I worked, I breathed in deeply the lilac-scented air and listened to the sweet birdsongs as my feathered friends waited for me to go back into the house so that they could visit the feeder. This afternoon, I’m sweaty and happy, and I’m particularly grateful to be alive.

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One reason for this thankfulness is that I’m getting older. I turned 52 in May while the list of people I know who never got to live for 52 years grows longer with each passing year. Out of respect for them, I try not to complain about getting older. I know it sounds trite but it’s true: we are fortunate to grow old.

Another reason for my contentedness is that I’m not working as a teacher right now. That’s not to say that there isn’t joy to be found within school walls this time of year. It’s just that you have to look much harder for it. Outside those walls and those constricting responsibilities, the world is buzzing with life and the sun is shining its longest days. The air is warm and the breeze is soft, and I’m alive to experience it all. Really, when you’re solidly middle-aged and less-employed, life is beautiful.

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There isn’t always a next year. I hope there is because this right here is the best part of my life and I would like it to continue. But I also realize how lucky I’ve been to live this life up until now and if there isn’t a next year, today that thought just makes me more grateful for this one.

Thanks for reading. Have a very happy rest of your week!

~ Lori

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind…

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Better late than never to deliver these valentines to you. Because of the continuing frigid weather, the school buses didn’t run today. It was a quiet day of marking, prep work, and of getting a couple students caught up on assignments. Still, I’m happy to be home in my warm, little house.

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Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal to me. How about you? Is it something you like to celebrate? Or is it a day on which you like to be celebrated? Maybe there’s a special someone you like to celebrate with or maybe you’re just fine on your own.

Whether or not you care about Valentine’s Day, I hope you had a good one wherever you are!

It would be so nice if you’d follow me here on WordPress or follow my blog through your email. It would also be great if you’d share my posts to Facebook. That platform and I currently disagree, but it is one of the best vehicles still for driving traffic my way! Happy weekend! ~ Lori

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Such a romantic gesture for the art lover and the do-it-yourselfer. (The administrator of this site does not endorse the act implied by this hilarious cartoon.)
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Now this is the kind of lovely Valentine’s sentiment I appreciate.

Back in the Classroom

Today in class the topic of my age came up as it sometimes does. The students were saying that I am still pretty young.

“Well,” I told them, “I’m not so young anymore,” to which one young man replied, “Nope. You’re not young or old. You’re just mediocre!”

I hope he meant middle-aged. Either way, he’s probably right.

Cute Not Rich

Yesterday, a student was sharpening a pencil endlessly. I told him, “That’s enough. Take it out and check to see if it’s sharp.”

He pulled it out of the electric sharpener. I watched as he peered at the point, looked astonished, flipped the pencil around and looked at the eraseless base.

The student held the pencil as he would a telescope and pointed it in my direction. “There’s no lead in this pencil!” he called out. We all found this extraordinarily amusing. Especially me.

Thanks to those of you who, since my departure from Facebook, have started following me here on WordPress. I sure appreciate it. And, as always, I appreciate the support of all my readers. I left Facebook for a few reasons and soon I’ll tell you all about why I made this choice. If you care to share my post on Facebook, that would be great! It is still one of the best vehicles for getting blog posts noticed and read.

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I’m back in the classroom on a temporary, full-time contract. It’s going just fine, but I am challenged and tired! I haven’t had it in me to write much, but I couldn’t resist sharing these couple of recent classroom stories.

Take care, everyone, and if you’re in my neck of the woods or anywhere cold, keep warm!

No Mosquitoes

If you haven’t already, please follow me here on WordPress. That would be so nice.

Growing Resentment

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Yellow sunflower.

This is a piece I wrote while I was still teaching full time. It feels familiar today because I’m back teaching from now until the end of June. It’s nice to be back in the classroom, but I’m really glad I didn’t put in a big garden.

I just put in four shorts rows of vegetables – some carrots, beets, Swiss chard, and beans. Other than that the garden will pretty much be full of wild flowers.

Listen to me read this post:

This blog is called Growing Resentment and it’s for all of us who have ever resented yardwork and gardening on sweet summer days that are far too full.

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Pink cosmos.

For two months I’ve been saying it. “I’m not going to grow a garden this year. I’m too busy.”

Probably this is true. The garden needs to be planted and tended just when I’m preparing report cards and going on field trips. It needs to be harvested when I’m planning for the upcoming school year and getting to know my new students. Late spring and early fall are busy in classrooms and busy in gardens.

 

But then, yesterday, I went shopping and ended up at a greenhouse. It was then, with the temptation to plant so close and with the plants so plentiful, that I struck a compromise with myself.

“Self,” I said. “Instead of planting seeds this year, why don’t you purchase bedding plants? Vegetables and flowers that have been started will be easier. Put those into the warm earth, water, and fertilize them and – poof! – you’ll have an instant garden.”

I bought this argument and bought a wide variety of flowers and vegetables, and planned to fill my garden plot today, Sunday. Today, the weather was sunny and warm, perfect for planting. So I put on my gardening clothes, including hat and insect repellant, and out I went armed with a hoe, a tiny bottle of potent fertilizer, and a metal watering can.

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Orange sunflowers in my metal watering can.

The first half-an-hour was just fine. Then, slowly, a bad, bitter taste began to fill my mouth. I recognized it immediately as sour resentment. The sun was too hot even in the mid-morning and, having not bothered to eat breakfast, I was hungry and thirsty.

I resented the wilting plants who were appreciating the sun’s intensity as much as I was. I resented the little weeds that were popping up here and there in the recently-tilled soil. I resented even the dirt itself and the buzzing bees as they dutifully pollinated the raspberries. I resented the laughter of neighbours and the singing of the birds. In short, I resented putting in a garden when I had told myself that I wouldn’t this year.

I relearned a valuable lesson today: Don’t do anything you know you don’t want to do. I suppose that I’m satisfied now that the garden is in, but it took 4 hours to do the work, the same as it does when I plant my garden from seed. Do I resent this time spent? You bet I do! So very much.

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Flowering shrub in my backyard.

As life speeds up and demands compete with one another for my limited time and energy resources, some things need to fall away. Not forever, in a lot of cases, but for now. I’m pretty good at discerning which things can be set aside and which require my focus. I’m pretty adept at prioritizing.

That’s why, when I knew that I didn’t want to plant a garden, I’m surprised that I did it anyway, only to swallow mouthfuls of resentment along with the dust from the dirt I hoed. Today’s gardening experience served as a reminder that the heart knows what it wants and that my heart wasn’t wanting to plant a garden. Next late spring I vow to listen to my heart and steer clear of greenhouses.

Charming Gardeners

 

 

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…?

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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.)

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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.

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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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