Make Yourself Useful…

Dear Reader:

Mr. Lincoln, my favorite rose bush, did it again….It sneaked in another perfectly beautiful bloom and I never even saw the bud. (Lincoln always was a man of surprises.)

I decided to cut the bloom immediately and put it in a small clear glass water bottle because the hot summer humidity was already starting to wilt the leaves.  It smells so extraordinarily amazing that I can’t even begin to define or describe the scent…it is out of this world! If anybody ever comes up with a “Mr. Lincoln” perfume…this old history teacher will be the first one in line!

Whoa! I can’t believe it…a seller on Etsy created a perfume from her Mr. Lincoln leaves because she, too, thought it was the best scent she had ever smelled. I decided to order one small bottle and test it out…will let you know what I think when it arrives.

Grandmother Wilson would approve of this woman’s tenacity and “get-go”…instead of just dreaming about such a product (like me)…she did something about it…she made herself ‘useful’ to others through her pertinacious nature.

I remember as a child that I learned very young…while visiting grandmother during the summer… to never (and I mean never) say the two words that would set her off on a terrible tangent….”madder than a wet hen.” And those two words…”I’m bored!” 

Poor grandmother…a farmer’s wife during the Depression…had precious little time to herself…one radio show (that I forget the name of that came on each afternoon for half an hour) and (after black and white televisions came on the market in the fifties)…the weekly Lawrence Welk Show. Those were the two times…we knew, by experience, not to bother grandmother…but make yourself scarce…or as grandmother reminded us constantly ” Make yourself useful.”

The only time I ever remember getting called in the living room during the Lawrence Welk Show…was to stand by the TV set and hold the rabbit ears at a certain angle until the show was over so grandmother could get some reception. Otherwise…I learned to stay outside as far away as possible… so I wouldn’t get caught holding the rabbit ears.

Grandmother never had the luxury of understanding the meaning of the word “bored” and was incensed by anyone who thought they were. She immediately would put us to work…running errands, cleaning out the chicken coop, shelling peas….you get the picture. To this day I never use that word either.

I came across a wonderful little blog post…a couple of days ago…where the author (Tobias van Schneider) said, in retrospect, the best and most simple advice he ever received in life was to “Be useful.” 

“Be Useful”

Being useful is the ultimate solution. It’s the simplest and best advice I’ve ever gotten that ALWAYS changes every situation into something positive. It serves almost as some sort of mission or vision to guide me through the day.Every time I feel  lost or don’t remember what I wanted to do, I go back to the basics. I just try to be useful.

He goes on the share his personal top three ways to actually accomplish this…How to ‘be useful.’

* You can share knowledge and the things you know with people who might know less. That’s why I always say that you are never too young to teach. There is always someone who might appreciate your tips & tricks on whatever topic it may be.

On top of it, sharing knowledge is rewarding. You’re not only helping others but also yourself. Sharing knowledge helps you to reflect, form and communicate your own thoughts more clearly.

*You can help people by solving a problem someone else is having. It doesn’t have to be a massive problem, it can be something small.

Sometimes when I work with other people I try to figure out what small problems they might have. And if I spot one where I feel like my expertise can help solve it within less than 15–30 min of my time, I will try to solve it, for free of course, and without asking for anything in return.

*It’s not your job…do it anyway. We all have certain aptitudes that allow us to help someone with something relatively simple for us but extremely difficult for them. Share your time and expertise.


So until tomorrow…

*Useful people add value where there was no value before.

*Useful people really want to be useful…and delight in helping others.

*Useful people don’t require specific skills…they just might bring  donuts and coffee…but useful people make the world a better place than they found it.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Mandy chaperoned Jakie’s pre-school class to the SC Aquarium (Eva Cate got to go of course) so they had a fun day all around. A tiny little class so it was easy and relaxing.

The last days at the Citadel Square four-year old pre-school class has just about come to an end…Jakie will be attending Eva Cate’s neighborhood school this new school year…a new world is opening up for him.

We had a thunder storm and a half last evening….so thankful for the rain but the lightning and thunder were so sharp and loud…I heard myself screaming a couple of times and jumping…thinking the house had been hit…the vibrations from the thunder shook the house in its intensity.

Anne, Sophie, and Nala all curled up on the sofa together she said during the thunderstorm…the friends would stick together .







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Make Yourself Useful…

  1. Beverly Dufford says:

    Great thoughts today. I was reminded of a poem I once knew, but I can not find. It went something like this: “Are you bored with life, young man? I’ll tell you a wonderful trick. Get up, get out of yourself, young man, and do something for somebody quick.” We had a doozy of a storm yesterday for sure, but the land needed watering, the air needed cleansing by the lightning and this morning we needed that fresh cool temperature! When it starts making the lights go off and on, I walk around with a small flashlight in my hand/pocket. Of course, my tphone has a flashlight, but who knew?


    • Becky Dingle says:

      You are right…this morning was so green and refreshing…hope we can pick up another rain storm this afternoon or evening…love the limerick…perfectly sums up what grandmother was trying to tell me…if we are bored…we are too self-involved. So wonderful hearing from you Jo!


  2. bcparkison says:

    Well I can’t wait to find out if you smell like Mr Lincoln. lol
    I love thunder storms but they do rattle this old house sometimes. It is such a peaceful feeling when they are finished. We once had a flash of lighting that left a streak of burned grass over an old water line.Now that was scary.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      That was scary! But out of the scariness Monday evening came rain and yesterday morning…the garden looked like Ireland…and the front yard had magically turned luscious green again after one heavy rainfall….nature is amazing isn’t it? It doesn’t take much for life to not only continue but flourish in beauty.


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