Every evening, my hubby and I spend a couple hours “looking at trees.” We have a three-seater swing on our patio, so we spend the hours between dinner and twilight relaxing in our swing, watching our dogs play, chatting about our day and looking at our trees. This relaxes me because when I’m outside in God’s playground, I can forget about the stress that screams at me from my computer screen. Yes, there is stress in online teaching.
Last summer, I was experiencing an abnormal amount of this stress because the employers at my “bread and butter” job decided to go with an all automated format, so they didn’t need me or any teacher any longer. That revelation brought forth visions of living in our car, cruising to local “hot spots” so I could apply to new “bread and butter” jobs. As it turned out, a very sweet and wise young student suggested that when I feel stressed, I should go “look at trees.” She claimed that this is how she liked to relax–looking at trees always helped calm her jangling nerves. Who knew that such a simple and innocent remedy would soon become life changing?
One evening, still unsure of our future economic situation, hubby and I decided to take the student’s advice and we ventured out to the swing in the backyard. We discovered the calming and peaceful feeling that comes from “looking at trees.” That evening, we started making plans to pull ourselves out of our financial dilemma.
After many days, weeks and months of looking at trees, I now have fairly steady income and looking at trees has become a nightly ritual. Our dogs have figured out that we make the journey outside after we eat supper, so as soon as they hear the sound of dishes being cleared, they are at our feet, tails wagging happily, knowing we are going “outside.” Hubby leads the parade, closely followed by Buttercup, then me, then Rosie. At the back door, the girls bound off, running a couple laps around the yard and then taking up their positions for the nightly “patrol.” Rosie jumps up in the swing to take her place beside Mama, and Buttercup keeps vigil at Daddy’s feet.
As we all sit there, swinging and staring at the trees while twilight descends upon us, I am reminded of the first stanza of a poem I chose to deliver in a college Speech class: “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although the only children still living at home are our dogs, the poem is a nostalgic reminder of our children and grandchildren who live in other states, and whom we miss very much.
At the end of the day, it’s a welcome relief to share my swing with my incredibly supportive husband and look at God’s beautiful trees. They do help me find peace and calm in this fast-paced, 21st century life.
So, whether you teach online or in a traditional classroom, and even if you’re not a teacher, you can find relief! Try “looking at trees”; it really works!
Until next time,
Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!
P.S. Here is a copy of “The Children’s Hour” (in its entirety), so you don’t have to go look it up. 😉
The Children’s Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!