Slow Down & Enjoy the Simple Things
‘Kids, wait a minute – stop everything……please ….. just take a moment – would ya just LOOK at that tree!!?’
That’s the conversation I have had so many times with my children. As a mother of four, I find myself developing a reputation and not even realizing it. My children’s friends know me as that weird mom who makes us stop just to see the sunset, or just to see the colors of the distant trees.
I am the Family Reunion Sales Manager at Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. My heart is my work and my work is in my heart — I truly love what I do. When offered the opportunity to be a part of the Arbor Day Foundation, I had no idea how parallel the mission of the Foundation ran with what I believed in my heart about life in general. Through the near decade of time that I have been ‘inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees,’ it seems, somehow, that I am the one who has truly been inspired. Through years of growing, my second nature of sharing stewardship of our world, realizing with amazement to understand how a seed really works, and just taking a moment to appreciate life around us – no matter where we are – is a perfect fit. It is as if the mission of the Foundation and me were hand-in-glove.
I grew up on a farm blessed with hard work and some very strong family traits of character and integrity that run deep through our family tree. Somehow, we had fun no matter how difficult the days of sunshine and labor provided. We were truly making memories each and every day. With our family gatherings being frequent, I was steeped in the notion of strong family bonds securing traditions and tying us one to another – just by being together.
With aging, I developed a desire to then build those same traits in my own family and pass them along to the next generation. Cultivating creativity and making our own fun is something that we had to do, although roller coasters were not at the end of the block, either. Yet, we sure did have fun rolling down a hill of freshly mowed grass and playing hide and seek in the mound of leaves that whirled in the fall breeze at the foot of the timber. Fostering family values is vital to me, as our family builds each other up, supports each other when we are down, and celebrates each other’s accomplishments. The culture of our family is well-rooted in the strength of laughter, hard work, simplicity and sharing who we are with each other. Family, faith and fellowship are what I have found as ‘what really matters.’
Through my growth at Arbor Day Farm, it seems that doors of opportunity continually have opened so I can share my core values with those that I work with on a daily basis. Although I thrive on busy-ness and a rigid schedule, it seems that I gain the most when I just take a moment. Take a moment to stop everything – stop my busy day of running and scheduling to just take a moment…maybe to see the apple blossom that turns into the base of the core of an apple – or to feel the mid-summer breeze as the sun sets to the symphony of chattering crickets – how about realizing there is a gift of new life in dying leaves as they fall to the earth each season –recycling at its best!! Or, slowing down in our hurricane of daily life just long enough to hear- shhh- the snow fall…now that’s truly amazing!
No matter the season, my wish is that each of us has the chance to take nature at its daily gift, embrace it and pass that gift along to someone we care about in the next generation. There are so many things that are important in life, and what is most important, we need to share those things that ‘really matter’ in the heart of our natural world – the gift of life, the gift of family – now that’s priceless.
Tina Layman lives near Pella, Iowa, and is an off-site Sales Manager for Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. Her favorite tree is the Catalpa and she shares joy in new blooms of petunias and impatiens. Between raising four children (aged 7 to 25) and some community volunteering, she’s happy to enjoy time with her husband, Tom, working on their small farm and making it ’home.’ Send Tina an email