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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

Take Time to Smell the Roses. . . or Watch the Birds!

“Take time to smell the roses,” should resonate in the strange times we are in. Many people have too much time to smell the roses. But our essential workers, who do not get many breaks, crave time to smell the roses.

Birdfeeder from my office window!

This phrase may mention roses, but in reality, taking time to smell the roses actually means, “stop working so hard.”

Watching my parents own and run a business for 35 years showed me what hard work is. Every single day of the year, sun-up to sun-down, they were consumed with work and pleasing their customers. In fact, we knew Christmas Eve would still be a full day’s work so last-minute shoppers could purchase gifts or pick up custom-framed items for their loved ones.

Throughout their days of hard work, both had hobbies. Although hours-long chunks of time were not spent enjoying their hobbies, a little time was set aside to “smell the roses.”

In addition to swimming, my dad’s “roses” were birds. For many years he participated in Zumbro Valley Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. To this day, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest running survey of American bird populations ever conducted. As a child age 5 through 7, this was a day spent with my dad that I looked forward to. Now that he has passed away, I am so happy to have these memories of times he took away from work to spend with us kids.

Do I remember the day because we spent it tooling around the countryside in his “brown buzzard” (what we so lovingly called his beat up car) counting birds? Not at all! I remember it as the day that he would laugh while I consumed as many peanut M&Ms as my body would allow and wash them down with Coca Cola from a glass bottle. I would remember it because of his reaction as a not-so-common bird was marked down on the list. I would remember it as a day spent with me while he was enjoying the hobby that gave him peace and appreciation.

The day after the Christmas Bird Count was met with exuberance and renewal for his business, his customers, and the work it took to keep it all going. You see, in order to be more productive, taking time here and there to engage in a hobby in turn boosts your focus on work and projects.

This week, the bird feeder that had been laying aside my house for years beckoned me to set it up. Two days was all it took for the birds to discover the seeds and suet, and the feeder has been hopping ever since. Most likely my family is tiring of the photos of purple house finches, cardinals, blue jays and the occasional pileated woodpecker, but I cannot help to find renewal toward my next project in the few minutes I take to watch them flit back and forth.

Nowadays, how does one even begin to enjoy a hobby? The first step, and the most difficult, is to put down your cellular device. Did you know the average person spends 23 full days a year on their phone? Setting down your phone and taking time to not work quite as hard will give you a sense of ease when normally you would feel overworked and overwhelmed.

Whether you are watching birds, smelling roses or counting stars, take time to appreciate the little things that life has put in front of you before it is too late. Even in these crazy times. Just do it.

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