Thursday, December 23, 2010

On achieving, over-achieving, and under-achieving

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I am slowly becoming less of an over-achiever and more of an achiever. I don't think there is anything wrong with this change, necessarily. I believe it comes as part of getting older and wiser. By wiser, I mean that I have learned the value of economy and efficiency as I go about my daily tasks.

When I was younger, I was definitely an over-achiever. I used to get up early, go to bed late, get to class early, leave class later, volunteer for extra projects, do extra credit assignments, study more than enough to get A's, play sports, cook regular meals, go hiking, climb mountains, bike long distances, and do anything that anyone asked me to - even if it meant dropping what I was doing to do what they wanted. Even though I was often blessed with a great sense of accomplishment after doing all these things, I was also blessed with a great deal of stress and feeling of inadequacy when I couldn't get everything done that I wanted to or that I was expected to. I had a tendency to volunteer for every odd job or committee leadership position that no one else wanted. I also had a tendency to take over for people that already had the leadership positions because "they weren't doing it right". This unfortunately left me with very little time to focus on what I needed to get done and left me very stretched thin by it all.

I also found that in my quest to be an over-achiever, I often worked twice as hard as others, only to end up with the same result. Someone else would do just enough to get by and be rewarded with exactly the same thing as me. Due to this, over the years, I have discovered that over-achieving can sometimes be not what it is cracked up to be. While it can pay off, it mostly is punctuated with lots of extra steps and duplications. I found myself taking up slack that wasn't mine to take up and worrying about projects that weren't mine to worry about. People began to expect that I would clean up after them and I began to resent that fact. Also, I realized that some of my well-intentioned over-achieving was found to be annoying by the very people I was so bent on trying to take care of. Some people don't want extra help from a know-it-all, over-achiever. Thus I have slowly started to drop my over-achieving ways.

Now I am focused on doing primarily the tasks that are truly mine to do and the jobs that are my jobs. I am trying to lose the desire to do things because no one else will. If they won't do them, perhaps they don't need to be done? If no one else will volunteer, perhaps no one should? I am trying to became an achiever, plain and simple. I want to use my time in the most efficient and economical manner to get everything that I need to done.

Now, let me get one thing straight, by being just an achiever this does not mean that I am becoming an under-achiever. Under-achieving is when someone purposefully shirks their responsibilities. An under-achiever is a lazy person who believes that some over-achiever will come along and take responsibility for their shortcomings (I used to be that over-achiever!).

Achieving without over doing it or under doing it can be a wonderful thing. It allows you the time to focus on what tasks are truly important for your happiness, while allowing you the freedom to resist tasks that won't add to your personal happiness. This may sound selfish, but an achiever should always consider other people's needs and wants without compromising their own. An over-achiever would disregard their own needs and wants for the sake of others'. An under-achiever would disregard others' needs and wants for the sake of their own. It's a fine line to balance, but I believe it can be done.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You know you live in the North Country when....

Time for everyone's favorite game: "You know you live in the North Country when...."

1. It's 20F and you remove a layer of clothing because "it isn't that cold out".

2. It hits 40F and everyone is wearing shorts.

3. It's sunny with clear blue skies and snowing.

4. It's -10F out and you think it could be worse, at least it isn't -20F.

5. It's -20F out and you finally put on your mittens because last time you froze your bare fingers to the door knob.

6. You're driving 55 mph in blinding snow and get passed by a Ford Focus.

7. Everyone passes the plow truck .... always, no matter where.

8. "A dusting" equals 3" of snow in 1/2 hour

9. The weatherman on TV says "and more snow in the mountains" and you know that means 6" - 12".

10. You automatically discount the predicted temperature on TV by -10F no matter what it says.

11. The snow you saw hit the ground in October is the same snow you see when it thaws in May.

12. It's okay to walk/drive/snowmobile on the ice of a frozen lake 24 hours after it was open water.

13. You actually can point to the "North Country" on a NYS map.

14. A hot date night in the winter is english muffin pizzas, a bottle of Jack, and Jeopardy.

15. You see more than two people walking through the mall with crampons on their shoes.

16. Winter is your favorite 8 months of the year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Truths of Winter

I have come to realize over the years that there are several truths to winter in the North Country on a farm. One truth is that there is snow and cold. Another is that it will be dark 18 hours a day and snowing the other 6 hours. Here are some more truths of winter farming that I have discovered:

1. A complete thaw will come 2 days after you've cleaned the frozen poo off the chicken house floor with a pick-axe

2. The smelly buck goat will escape his winter enclosure just before you have to leave to go out to dinner but just after you have put on your nice clothes.

3. The "freeze-free" water hydrant will freeze solid only when you are gone from the farm and a neighbor is doing your chores.

4. You will decide it is time to rearrange the fencing only after there's 2 feet of snow on the ground.

5. The spot where you have been dumping the ice from the frozen water buckets is in the direct path of where you need to push a wheelbarrow after you have a 5' tall mountain of ice accumulated.

6. You will need more hay in the hayloft only after you decided you didn't need to plow the road to the barn anymore.

6a. You will need more hay in the hayloft only after you realized that your husband/plow truck driver has been piling the snow in front of the hayloft entrance for 2 months.

7. The one tool you will need will be the only tool you left in the pasture where you were working before there was 3 feet of snow on the ground.

8. You will feel bad for the goats and leave them in the barn only to find that they escaped their pens while you were at work and spent the entire day out in the snow anyway.

9. That new rabbit you have been eyeing will come up for sale just in time for 4 feet of snow to be deposited on the rabbit hutch that was clear of snow all winter.

That's all I can think of for now. I am sure as the winter continues on, I will find more.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bloggin' Away Again in Vermontville

I am back. I had taken the blog down for a bit as I pondered my role as a blogger. Since my blog is mostly just junk that I make up, I decided that there wasn't much harm in reinstating the ol' web log and beginning again. I started to miss it, actually. I started to miss having a place to post random thoughts and wanderings in a more contiguous format than Facebook or other social media outlets. While I did continue to maintain my alter-ego blog Lucy the Goat (, I found that I was denying myself a place to express feelings and other nonsense that came straight from me. Well, I am back and ready for more randomness. (I hope you are also ready).