Nothing is Everything…

Dear Reader:

When I saw this visual observation on the internet….my first thought was…my name must be on it some place. As a single parent (when I was still teaching) I felt exactly like today’s title message.

I could hardly wait to get the rest of my ‘to-do’ list done after school (grocery store, dropping and picking up kids from after-school activities, medical, dental, or even insurance appointments, etc.) so I could  get home and “do nothing.

Of course, sadly, it was an illusion… (the proverbial oasis in the desert that keeps disappearing.) Appointments ran over-time…sports practices ran over-time…so by the time the family was home…tired and hungry “What’s for dinner?” my hope for “nothing” had dissipated…turning into several exhausting “every things.” The endless list of chores to do didn’t stop until I fell into bed praying I had run off enough copies of the lesson for the next day’s classes.

When it came time for retirement… people started asking me what I wanted or planned to do with “all my time“…my answer remained constant….“nothing.” It didn’t turn out any better, this second time around, than my earlier dreams.

I found myself teaching at the two local colleges and then “hitting the road” with Carol Poole, my Social Studies Co-hort, while working with the state education department, giving social studies presentations around the state.

Then came the wonderful timely events that followed…Mandy’s wedding, then Walsh’s and lastly Tommy’s. It was after Mandy’s wedding that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my life changed drastically…my time was consumed with medical treatments of all kinds….surgeries, chemo and radiation sessions.

Life is not made for “nothing“…it is made for lots of challenging “somethings” that mold us into who we always were destined to be.

I was thinking about this the other day when a friend asked me “What I was thinking” (at the moment)…I gave the old automated response “Oh…nothing” and smiled. Yet think about it…is it humanly possible to “think about nothing?” In order to be thinking about ‘nothing‘…we first have to have thought about ‘something.‘ Confusing…but true.

And now, for most of us, we ‘stay at home’ citizens, have guess what? Time. And if we don’t… we can only blame ourselves for filling it back up to the top with a lot of fluff to get through some long days…especially with children around parents 24/7.

One of my favorite educators (I did a research paper on in college) Mary Ellen Chase, once wrote all her young nieces and nephews this memorable piece of advice about turning bland ‘dates’ into days filled with wonder and awe. She started this idea one Christmas when she wrote….

My dears,

Christmas is not about the 25th of December. We don’t celebrate a date.

We celebrate the coming together of family. The goodwill upon neighbours. And the letting of bygones be bygones.


Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.

One which puts a permanent smile on your face… and on your heart.

So until tomorrow…

Now that so many of us really do have the time (and can no longer remember the days of the weeks…much less the dates of the month) let’s consciously and purposely make each day stand out from the other by creating “nothing” discoveries… in a new state of mind.

We can do this by finding one thing in nature or a book that we didn’t know…something new we just learned that fascinates us….time should be spent looking at the stars, finding little insects in the blades of grass, identifying a new flower, etc. ….discovering the wonders found in all the visible and invisible worlds we inhabit.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Come to the garden with me…filled with wonder and awe! 🙂

Feeling ‘lost in time’…you’re not alone! 🙂


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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