“Okay, boys and girls, shut up and face the front of the room. Class is about to begin.”
After a week’s vacation, it was our first day back to blogging at Saint WordPress Academy. The threatening demeanor of the much esteemed Sister squelched our high spirits, and sounds of happy laughter began to die out. Any excitement we’d felt at being back at school quickly vanished as Sister MeanAsHeck stood in front of us, surveying the room and lightly slapping her infamous ruler against the palm of her hand.
Finally, she turned toward the blackboard and we watched silently as the good Sister wrote in big letters the theme for the day’s lesson: What I learned during my blog-free vacation.
She faced the class again. “Who wants to be first? I want a full report from each of you, ya little bundles of germs and pestilence.”
With almost lightning speed, hands shot up throughout the room as each of the little toadies volunteered to go first in an attempt to escape the good Sister’s wrath. Toadies or not, these kids were pretty damned smart because by not raising my hand, I stuck out like a sore thumb… or a devil among angels.
Sister immediately zeroed in on me. “You, Kate Loveton, you want to tell the class what you did during your blog-free holiday?”
“Well,” I stammered, “I sort of goofed off all week. I didn’t think about my blog once. I read my book, watched some TV… basically, I did nothing, Sister. Absolutely nothing.”
The much esteemed Sister looked at me, her face contorting in righteous anger. If the good Sister hates anything, it’s sloth. She began slapping the wooden ruler against her palm more rapidly, and I could see she yearned to trip me up. “Let me get this straight: you’re telling us, Kate Loveton, that all you did for an entire week was lay about – goldbricking?”
I slowly nodded, all the while keeping my eyes centered on that ruler. I calculated my chances of successfully making a grab for it and smacking Her Nastiness silly, but cooler wisdom (not to mention fear) prevailed. I was smart enough to realize that the gentle Sister would probably make mincemeat out of me. The Good Lord, in His mighty and mysterious ways, hadn’t christened her Sister MeanAsHeck for nothing.
“So you learned absolutely nothing during your blog-free vacation, you dreadful child,” she said, the disgust in her voice striking terror into my heart. Inch by inch, I began to cautiously slip beneath the desk, fearful of her towering presence as she leaned over me. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, resigned to the sparks that would escape her nostrils any minute, and utterly convinced I’d been convicted and sentenced to eternal hellfire for the crime of indolence. With trepidation, I visualized my wardrobe for eternity; red had never been a good color for me.
“Don’t you know that idle hands are the devil’s workshop?”
“I wouldn’t say that I learned nothing!” I protested. “I learned stuff! I learned lots of stuff!”
She didn’t believe me, I could tell. It was time to do some fancy mental footwork or else that damned ruler would be coming my way… and maybe a taste of future brimstone.
“Well, Sister, it’s like this. About a week or so ago, I was feeling overwhelmed. Instead of enjoying my writing and my blogging, I was feeling it was a task. I was just tired.”
The good Sister continued to glare at me. I could see she wasn’t feeling a lot of sympathy for my plight.
“So I called up my best friend, that’s the girl in Room 4B down the hall… the one in Sister Lovely’s classroom.”
Sister Lovely and her ‘new fangled ways’ of doing things was a bone of contention with Sister MeanAsHeck, and I could see I’d just jumped right from the frying pan and into the fire.
Hastily, I started to explain. “Anyway, my pal, Heather, suggested that maybe a mini break was needed. I have to say, Sister, she knew what she was talking about. It was cool to chew bubble gum, talk about cute boys, paint my toenails neon pink, and just experience a week with no ‘musts’ or ‘shoulds’ attached to it.”
“You still haven’t told us what you learned. Get to the point, kid – and spit out that gum!”
“The point is this, Sister. It’s not a sin to take a writing break occasionally. It’s not unforgivable to give your mind a rest, and just have fun – you know, read a book, go out for a long walk, actually take some time to talk to your family, and maybe watch a favorite TV show.
“For one week, I heard the sound of birdsong coming from the bushes next to our back porch instead of the clicking noise of keyboard strokes, a music that has somehow become the soundtrack to my life.
“I actually went to bed on time that week! I got eight hours of sleep every night instead of five.
Sister said nothing, but I could see she was weakening. She believed in the virtue of a good night’s sleep. “Is that all you learned?”
“No… I learned something else, too. You see, Sister, I follow some pretty terrific people on WordPress, really talented, interesting people. I like reading their work and I like commenting on what they share. But sometimes all my class work gets in the way, and I can’t comment on their wonderful blogs as quickly as I like. Who knew 5th grade could be so hard?”
“Ever think of telling them that sometimes you might be a day or two late, but that you’ll catch up as quickly as you can?”
I grinned. No need for me to say anything – Sister Rocket Science just said it for me.
Straightening my spine, I sat up in my chair. My courage was returning and I faced the Sister head on. “In the end, Sister, I guess I learned that sometimes a short break can recharge the batteries, that a person needs it in order to function, and that sometimes giving yourself a couple nights off from writing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. I also learned that as wonderful as the bloggers I follow are, I can’t always get back to them immediately – but I will always endeavor to get caught up as quickly as I can.”
Sister immediately smiled and pulled out her big red pen. I wondered if she understood what I was saying or if her now restored good humor might be a trap. She walked back to her desk, pulled out a piece of paper out and scribbled something on it. Then she turned around and headed right back to my desk. I waited for bad news, afraid what might be on that paper she held, but then she handed it to me. On the page was a large A+.
That’s when I realized that my blog-free vacation had been a success. I had learned some truths that might keep me from going over the edge during busy times, and I also learned that I need more in my life than writing. I need to take time to talk to those I love, to occasionally walk away from the laptop, and to take care of myself – physically and mentally.
If that ain’t learning some good stuff from your vacation, I don’t know what is.
Now, I just need to remember it…