Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life Lessons From The Garden: Seize the Opportunity

Since I am an elementary school counselor and I'm off during the summer, I have a slightly different routine during the summer.  It goes something like this:

  1. Quiet devotional time
  2. Yoga stretches
  3. Write
  4. Answer emails, marketing, planning
  5. Lunch
  6. Gardening, Household chores/Errands 
Whatever I do, I try not to change the order of the first three items.  Writing is a top priority and I find if I let it slide too far down into the business of the day, it disappears altogether.   One day recently,  I broke my own rule.  I moved #6 into the #3 slot and writing got bumped down to after lunch.  Not a great plan generally but here's why I did it;  It rained!! This is especially exciting because it has been dry as a bone with 100 degree heat around here and my garden has not only been suffering but also neglected. Goodness knows, it is hard to work with rock hard dirt and heat stroke temperatures.  However because of the rain and the very high temperatures later in the day, I knew if I didn't get outside to work in the garden, I'd miss the opportunity. 

Before I did this I promised myself that writing would follow close on the heels of the gardening and I made sure I clearly identified the parameters of what I hoped to accomplish in the garden.  I knew that I had a lot to accomplish and it is so easy to lose track of time in the garden!  The other thing that I did, I decided that not only would I be gardening but I would be doing research at the same time.  How is this possible?  Well, I think that gardening is a great place to learn the lessons of life.  So much of what makes sense in gardening makes sense in life.  So here is a lesson gleaned from my research:  Seize the opportunity.  Just as getting out in the garden early was a good idea for today, it’s also a good idea to seize the opportunities in life in general. Here's some examples:

In June of this summer I attended the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project Summer Institute.  This is a national writing program that has been available for years in various colleges around the country for teachers who would like to develop not only better ways to teach students to write but to develop their own writing ability as well. I learned of the program this past school year when the assistant principal at my school informed me she had attended a few years ago and recommended that I consider attending.  I was nervous about it at first since as a school counselor I don't directly teach writing.  However, once I was reassured that they were interested in teaching all teachers to incorporate writing into their lessons, I SEIZED the opportunity and put in an application.  It is one of the best educational programs I've attended in a long time.  Not only did I learn great techniques but I also meet some inspiring peers who I hope to stay in contact with.  Could I have easily let this opportunity slid by?  Of course.  I could have  never gotten around to applying for the program or I could have decided that it would take up too much of my summer or a million other things.  

I've not always been so good at seizing opportunities.  Previously, I tended to wait for someone to call me, suggest something to me or just generally knock me over the head with a two by four before I'd move ahead on anything.  I thought of it as "waiting to make sure it was the right thing to do".  Learning to seize the opportunity has really been a lesson learned over the years. Sometimes I've waited forever for an opportunity to drop into my lap when I should have been creating opportunities.  For instance, I wrote several children's stories about Wyatt The Wonder Dog and then kept them in a drawer for about ten years hoping someone would come along and tell me how to get them published.  Not until, I got inspired by Dan Miller of 48days To The Work You Love did I consider self-publishing and actually DOING something rather than waiting. As Dan says, the best way to predict your future is to create it! 

I talk to people everyday who are waiting and wondering what direction to go in with their lives while opportunities are calling all around them.  Sometimes much like today in the garden, you just have to recognize that now is the time and make arrangements to SEIZE the opportunity.  Sometimes it means breaking out of  a routine to seize an opportunity that is knocking at your door.  Sometimes it means creating opportunities.  

What about you?  Are you seizing the opportunities around you?



  1. Lord knows, I'm trying! :) Love your analogy of seizing the opportunities with working in the garden. Great post, Lynne!

  2. Thanks Martha. I think you do a great job of seizing the moment. Best of luck moving forward on your writing goals.

  3. That's a good question to think about, Lynne. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in our daily routine that we fail to see opportunities that are just around the corner. We need God's wisdom to know which of these are mere distractions and which are real opportunities we should seize. ;)

  4. Joyce you are so right! Opportunities vs. distractions and how to tell the difference would probably be a good topic for a post! Thanks for the idea!