Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Part of being able to get stuff done is to figure out what motivates you.

Today I remembered something important about myself while listening to my book on CD (this month's book club choice) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She talks about farmers and gardeners who love the feel of soil beneath their fingers, who love to see the physical product of all their hard work. After three years tending to a humble herb garden, I can say that, while I never thought I'd be much of a gardener, I can relate to this concept.

Why can I appreciate gardening? Part of what motivates me are those tasks that produce tangible results.

But it doesn't quite stop there. I like tasks that produce longer-lasting tangible results. This is why I like cleaning and I hate cooking.

Clean = the item can be clean for a week or more.
Cook = the food may be gone in minutes.

I realize that liking to clean makes me odd, and many more people I know prefer to cook because, among other reasons, it's a way they display love for family and friends. I guess one way I show love is by giving you a peaceful, clean environment in which to eat that delicious food (that Matt) cooked for you.

Tangibility is why I prefer real mail to email.

Tangibility is why I take so many pictures. (And why I was the historian of the Spanish Honor Society in high school for -- not one -- count them: TWO years in a row. Big deal, I know. Matt makes fun of me weekly for this one.)

Tangibility also relates to being organized. I can see my organized closet, spice racks, pots and pans, bookcase, garage. With the occasional light straightening, those places stay organized, and with a little effort I reap maximum rewards.

Tangibility even relates to my career choice thus far. Now, I realize that teaching on a day-to-day basis can sometimes seem like running on a treadmill -- a lot of work, and you don't get anywhere. At times this is true. It's hard to see change in people when you see them every day. But, at times like today, when my students are finishing off their major assignments for the year, I watch the "ah-ha" realizations on my students' faces. I can see the product of their hard work, which is, by default, the result of my hard work as well, and I know we've made significant progress. Today my Broadcast Journalism students finished their short documentaries, their final project of the year. Today my newspaper students worked on their final deadline for their final issue of the newspaper. Today my freshmen worked on analyzing their last poem for their final exam. As they use skills I've taught them throughout the school year and they work fairly independently, I'm pleased with the tangible product I get to embrace after nearly 10 months of challenging work.

I value tangibility. Knowing this about myself keeps me going, even on the rough days. Even on the days I literally work for 12 hours nonstop, like today.

Tomorrow I will rinse and repeat, but the end is in sight, and I know that the tangible products I'll get to hold in my hands over the next week will make it all worth it.

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