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Another Day in the Country

Learning life skills

© Another Day in the Country

There are more and more new books on the “New Book” shelf in the library, so that must mean the pandemic is waning.

Production is picking up. The mail is being moved more efficiently.

I peruse both the fiction and non-fiction sections of the latest books, pleased at the wide selection, and pick some from each — I figure it’s like eating a balanced meal.

Non-fiction is like eating your vegetables because they are often either self-help books or discussing sad topics. Fiction is dessert.

Almost as a joke I picked up “The Little Book of Life Skills” by Erin Ruddy. I say joke, because the title made me smile — as if I were laughing about a joke.

“A life skills book, Pat? Really? At your age?”

Well, I was curious. So I checked out the book.

Curiosity wasn’t the only reason I now had the book in my possession. I’d like to think that by the time you can collect Social Security you should have life skills pretty much nailed down; but on the other hand, there’s always something new to learn. I was also on the prowl for books my 14-year-old grandson might enjoy/need/browse!

The chapters were pretty simplistic. No. 1: Wake Up and Get Ready for the Day, No. 2: Get from Point A to Point B. (I had to look at that one.)

The first tip was about getting out the door without forgetting something. I didn’t read that chapter but would you believe the very next day I drove to Abilene and when I got there I didn’t have my billfold. Lucky for me, I didn’t need gas!

By the time I’d flipped through pages and paragraphs to page 96, the book was talking about how to fold fitted sheets (which I learned ages ago) and iron a shirt (which I learned as a teenager from my Mom ironing Dad’s white shirts for my allowance.

“Thank you, Mom,” I muttered to myself, “for teaching me how to iron, use a broom properly, and wash my hands!”

This was actually quite a helpful little volume, including tips on how to tidy a room in 10 minutes (I learned that from my friend Norma who did this every night like clockwork), how to hang pictures (glad that’s included because it drives me nuts to see how people hang them too high), and how to set a table. (Didn’t you learn that in Home Ec? Or do they teach that anymore in high school?)

I’d pretty much given myself an “A” on life skills according to this little volume when I saw it on my bed last night. I’d crawled into bed, adjusted the pillows and picked up the latest Jack Reacher book by Lee Childs. It was time to relax and enjoy a little fantasy about a big guy who sticks up for people when you need it most. And there underneath Lee’s book was that little volume, “Life Skills.”

“Maybe I should check to see if I got all I needed out of that book and take it back to the library in the morning,” I thought to myself, picking up the book.

I opened it near the back and there was something I hadn’t noticed before on page 246, “Review Your Day to See What Worked and What Didn’t.”

Well, there’s a good idea! I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

“Walk yourself through the day from the moment you woke up until right now — take mental notes on what you were most grateful for.”

I could tell this was going to take awhile. I closed my eyes and began the review. Grateful! (That’s my chosen theme for 2021.).This will be fun!

“Sunshine! I’m grateful for that because it wakes me up every morning. The fact that my body is working efficiently, I’ve kept the weight off, I’ve had both COVID shots, I’m healthy,” I was smiling to myself already. “I had eggs for breakfast (duh!) from my own chickens.

“I’m living in the country. Oh, that I made it to Abilene and back without car trouble (having left my billfold and phone at home, remember).”

My list went on and on throughout my day until I was grateful for my bed with the cozy down comforter and opened my eyes to read the next step.

No. 3: Reflect on the times in your day when you felt most alive! When were you excited about what you were doing?

Next was No. 4: “Look back and identify when you felt drained, when were you frustrated …”

No. 5: Ask yourself (with compassion) how you could have done better today — could you have been nicer to the kids, more responsive to someone, made it to the gym?”

Well, I did make it to the gym; but I forgot my billfold.

No. 6: Now let all that go. Forgive yourself and others (see page 242 on forgiving someone). What lessons from today will you take with you to live your day better tomorrow?”

I put down the little book, turned off the light, dreaming about what tomorrow would be like on another day in the country.

Last modified April 15, 2021

 

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