T-R-E-E-S…that’s how I spell relief!

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!


Mike and me

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!

Our grandkids

Our grandchildren


3 thoughts on “T-R-E-E-S…that’s how I spell relief!

  1. Hi Viki,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog. I am an online teacher of middle school English, and I found myself laughing and nodding my head to many of the things you have mentioned. I particularly loved the Foxworthy “You might be an online teacher if…” I came back to my computer while washing dishes from dinner because I did hear my email alert and yes I live in my sweatpants and tshirts. I also loved this section on TREES. I have to say that I, too, find the outdoors to be a great stress reliever. It’s the only place I do not bring my computer! I refuse to bring it out by the pool or even out on our porch! Those places are off-limits for my computer. One of the things that I find most stressful about online teaching is you never feel like you are done with work! I know my computer is sitting in my office and I could be getting work done rather than relaxing while reading a book or watching tv. There are no weekends or “off-duty” hours. I am constantly working. However, I love my job and would not trade it for the world. I wanted to become a teacher but didn’t know if I could handle grades 7-12 in a regular classroom, but I knew that was the content I wanted to teach. So, online teaching has fit my teaching style to a T. Thanks for the blog and hope you continue to update it. —a fellow online teacher from PA

    • Hello fellow online teacher from PA!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts about my blog; I really appreciate the kind words! I will continue to update it, but as you know, time is a precious commodity and sadly, my blog is not a top priority. As the holiday season approaches, I hope to have a little time to add more to it.

      I know exactly what you mean about teaching in a regular classroom, especially grades 7-12; they can be quite challenging! Online teaching is a whole different world from face to face; I am able to teach all grade levels online, and I do so! At any given time, I could be teaching language arts to elementary, middle, or high school students. I also teach education classes to teachers who are enrolled in Master’s programs, so I cover the spectrum, and I love it! I do hope that some day, I can cut back on the amount of work I do online and just focus on those assignments that I love the most, but for now, I’m busy, busy, busy, with lots of students and lots of work.

      Thanks for sharing, and come back soon!

      Laugh a little, learn a lot, live long!

  2. Viki,

    Your entry, “Looking at Trees” really hit a special place for me right now. I am an on-line educator who teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies for a really awesome on-line institution in Pennsylvania. Recently, I moved home to West Virginia and the combination of moving, teaching full-time so far away from my fellow teachers still living in West Virginia, and beginning a master’s program in on-line education has proven to be difficult on my family financially as well as emotionally.

    Recently, I have had seen the wisdom in your words. I may not look at “trees” so to speak, but the desire to take time, relax, and gain perspective has been vital. My wife and I were fortunate to find a rental property beside a golf course. We now are able to take a walk every evening following dinner with our 3-year-old daughter, who is fascinated by looking for golf balls, watching the deer we frequently see, and enjoying nature.

    I believe that one thing a virtual teacher often misses while working from home, which is an amazing thing, is the chance to be outdoors and enjoy the world around us. Your blog brought that home to me in a real way. Keep up the good work.

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