Work. Often, during my workaday life as a school-based SLP, I think of work as a four-letter word. There are days and weeks I think will never end. There are days and weeks that go by at the speed of light, leaving me little time to complete all my tasks. It can be an endless cycle of do, complete, redo, restart, test and retest. It can be exhausting. It's the type of exhausting that renders me prone on the couch and ordering pizza for dinner. The type of exhausting that when Saturday rolls around, the thought of cleaning can bring me to tears. While, the physical aspect of SLP life is limited to trips up and down the hallway and in and out of chairs, the mental piece is substantial and exacts a toll both emotionally and physically.
Fast forward to summer. My summer is work is different; it is generally pure physical. I don't shy away from hard physical labor. In fact, during the summer I relish it. I like to sweat. I like to get dirty. I like planning and planting and mowing and weeding yard work. At the end of the day when I'm grubby and tired I can look at the fruits of my labor and get deep satisfaction. I can see what my toils have produced and I love it. Summer is good for my soul.
I mentioned to some SLP friends recently as we were sharing photos of our gardens, that if I were a rock farmer, I'd be a millionaire. NH is rife with rock. Our landscape is crisscrossed with picturesque rock walls and many towns have ordinances that prohibit their dismantling, as they are inherent to our New England character. As beautiful as these rocky scenes are, they are a bane to gardeners. So what do we New Englanders do? Use the rocks. Over the years I have built a number of rock garden beds. I have single handedly, hunted, harvested, hauled and built these beds.
This week I wanted to further fortify our fire pit (yes, I am in an alliterative mood). For roughly three hours I scoured the woods for rocks and dug them out.
I piled them into the wheelbarrow.
I pushed that wheelbarrow UP the hill that is our driveway.
I hoisted them out and carried them to their final resting place.
I strategically placed them one on another.
I put my feet up and felt a sense of pride in my strength and my work.
Now, I know that my efforts at my day job yield results. I see the student who has made some measure of progress and I receive the rare note from a grateful parent or student. More often than not, though, we are unsung heroes and we miss the end result of our labors. I want to reframe my vision of my daily work as an SLP. I don't want work to be just a four-letter word. Perhaps, in the spirit of growth mindset, I can envision my task as building a rock garden. Each and every day, I search for a beautiful rock. I carefully extract it from the earth, that has a firm hold on it. With strength I carry it to the place where it will shine. When my work is done, I look at the end result and I am grateful for the toil because it has yielded a purpose, it has touched a child. Isn't that why I do what I do?