In the spring of 2016 my rose garden was a mess. I could scarcely walk the paths.
Tall climbers were slumped over after their tethers to trellises snapped. Overgrown bushes were tangled in each other’s canes. Ornamental grass was snarled in the roots of two of my favorite hybrids.
I had no one to blame but myself. For whatever reason, I hadn’t given the garden enough attention the prior year.
It took days of back-breaking work to clean everything up and get on with the routine business of weeding and fertilizing. With sweat stinging my eyes, I scolded myself for not practicing a basic rule of thumb from my college days. “Be consistent.” Somewhere in my Rubbermaid bins of memorabilia, I’m sure I still have the certificate my student newspaper advisor gave me to cement the lesson.
Awarded to Laurie Samsel for Consistency in Journalism
It was a made-up prize; an inside joke that memorialized my rough start. Although I turned in a stellar human interest story for my first byline, I followed it the next week with a half-hearted blurb about the college floral program. Mr. Byrd, a fearsome redhead who once played in the NFL, quickly scared the laissez-faire attitude out of me.
“This is pathetic, Samsel!” he boomed.
Since then, I’ve practiced consistency and extolled the virtues of it my entire adult life. It has served me, and those I’ve mentored, quite well. Sometimes it’s been simple. “If you’re going to capitalize a job title in this sentence, then do it all the way through the document.” Sometimes it’s been more complex. “You can’t apply policy this way today and another way tomorrow.”
Why I slipped up in the garden two years ago is a mystery. But untangling that mess is the reason I’m writing this blog right now. Otherwise, I’d likely be tackling my last big project before Christmas – wrapping the stack of gifts hidden in our guest room.
I love the holidays. I love them even more when everything is ready. Over the weekend, my husband and I wore ourselves out getting presents ready to send to distant loved ones and personalizing cards with handwritten notes. I was so single-minded about the whole affair that I didn’t spend a moment thinking about today’s blog post. In fact, I completely forgot.
This morning we stood in line (twice) at the Post Office to send everything on its way. Afterward, somewhere in the dairy section at the grocery store, I remembered that I should be publishing today. For an instant I thought, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll skip this week or write something tomorrow.” Dual images of my neglected garden and Mr. Byrd’s fierce scowl sent me to my laptop five minutes after the groceries were put away.
After that, how could I write about anything but consistency? It’s not a value with much pizazz, but it sure saves you trouble later if you practice it now. Presents? Eh, they can wait. Consistent presence to honor your commitments? Priceless.