Things I’ve Learned |

Things I’ve Learned

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

This morning when I was sorting out papers I happened upon my large book with a pink cover. I hadn’t seen it in some time. “Notes & Things” is written on the cover of this book that’s thick with lined papers, intended for writing inspirational thoughts (or lots of other things). It was a gift from my family.

I opened the book to my first entry.

The entry was dated September 14, 2019. “On a beautiful September day, the sun is shining on the green leaves and grass (after a previous rain). Things seem so hopeful.”

It is followed by a list under the heading, “Things I’ve Learned at Pipi’s Pasture.” It was wonderful to re-read these positive thoughts, and the timing couldn’t be better, with Thanksgiving approaching and all.

“Things I’ve Learned” includes:

  • how to be happy
  • not to let anyone tell you who you are (they may not want you to be who you are)
  • to allow yourself to have flaws because we all have them
  • how to enjoy life without spending a lot of money
  • how to relax
  • how to survive through thick and thin
  • how to cook a spaghetti squash
  • how to prioritize
  • the importance of letting someone else help
  • the importance of reaching out
  • to enjoy the little things
  • to spend every minute possible watching grandchildren grow up (now great-grandchildren, too)—it happens way too fast
  • the importance of routine (unless it’s too wacky)
  • how to grow tomatoes and green peppers in pots on the patio
  • handwriting letters to others
  • what it really means to turn old
  • how to be positive (remembering Jim)

The last entry in the book is written in this column exactly as it was in the book, back in 2019:

“How to be positive (remembering Jim).” Jim was the editor of the Craig Press some years back. He taught me a lesson about making positive statements that I have since used in teaching parenting classes, and he probably never realized how powerful his lesson was. This is how it happened.

Each week I carried my column (at the time more than one column a week) to the newspaper office via a flashdrive. The next week I found that flashdrive on Jim’s desk (he often wasn’t there) and left one for the coming week. Each time I picked up the flashdrive there was a sticky note attached with a message from Jim. He never wrote, “Good job” or “Keep up the good work” but instead referred to the column itself.

For example, he once wrote, “ I can’t wait to read ‘Pipi’s Pasture’ to find out what’s going on with those idiot bulls.” It made me feel good that he paid attention to the content of my columns. It made me realize that making positive statements to children might be more effective when citing a specific example such as: “I especially like the purple color you chose for the house.”

I saved every single note that Jim wrote. He died unexpectedly and way too young. I’m ashamed to write that I can’t remember his last name, but he signed every note with a cursive “JCP.”

I’ve learned a lot over the years, especially those spent at Pipi’s Pasture.

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