Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Holidays are the time to reflect on and appreciate family, friends

Holidays are the time to reflect on and appreciate family, friends

Where to begin? A question I ask myself every time I sit down to write these weekly reflections. A daunting and risky gamble, I generally attempt to weave something about what is going on in my life with gardening in both the practical and broader sense. Taking on the holidays is difficult. With all of the pressures that we allow to be put on ourselves no wonder, we all cringe a bit when we look at the sea of Rubbermaid containers that fill our crawl spaces and attics.

For me, this year is particularly difficult to get into the "mood" because it's been a rough year filled with too many tasks and not enough time and situations that can't be "fixed". These three things which are my perennial issues which I work on daily, if left unattended, create great stress and anxiety because I just always believe there is a way. The trick I'm learning is to not try to do it all at once and as I do that, things seem to be more manageable.

I received an inspiring email from my mom today that I want to share with you because it "got me over the hump" with an area where I was just stuck. After reading it I just put one foot in front of the other and like the Nike ad says "I just did it"

Here's what the email said:

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience,

Raised a glass of water and asked

'How heavy is this glass of water?'

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, 'The absolute weight doesn't matter.

It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.

In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.'

He continued,

'And that's the way it is with stress management.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,

As the burden becomes increasingly heavy,

We won't be able to carry on. '

'As with the glass of water,

You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.

When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.'

'So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down!

Don't carry it home.

You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now,

Let them down for a moment if you can.'

So, my friend, Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now.

Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while.

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, It was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, Because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you.

The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world,

But you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull.

Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.


One of the most difficult tasks in life is creating balance. I'm lousy at it. For me, leaving work at work and home life at home is not only as difficult as learning Chinese, throw in working in a family business and my chance for success enters the nearly-impossible stage.

When one side gets more attention than the other, sometimes the imbalance can destroy both. So in an attempt to begin some holiday decorating at our house, and prepare for a photo shoot, I set up our front door for the holidays a little early this year. Because I couldn't face the sea of Rubbermaid containers, I gave myself permission to buy a few new things for the house. I started with 3 eight foot sections of very realistic sections of princess pine, two strings of lights I bought for 80% off at Target last year and some icy branches and permanent greenery for the patio pot by the front door.

In about 20 minutes, I had the area ready for the photo shoot, but more importantly, I felt differently about getting ready for Christmas this year. I began to feel excited about it and so did the kids. I realized that it was going to bring some happiness to people who came to our door. It brought back memories.

I became thankful for all the years that Karolyn and my mom decorated trees at our houses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day respectively and prepared nice meals while working at the store. They had to be at least as tired as I am. You would have never known it. Walking into their homes was like walking into a magazine. The atmosphere was warm and nicely decorated. There was great food and a thoughtful gift or two. Best of all, there was no question of whether or not love was present.

I want that for my guests and family. I want them to feel that kind of energy as they enter our home. All of the effort is for nothing if it is just decorating. Anyone can do that. It has to be an outward expression of how I'm feeling inside which is thankful and appreciative for all of the people who have helped me in so many ways. It has to say, "thanks for coming", "We're glad you're here", "We've prepared a place for you".

So, to some "this beginning" may be an early (silly) attempt at holiday decor. But, to me it was a journey through a stressful task that was weighing on my mind and now is an exciting proposition that I will enjoy doing together with the rest of the family as the month progresses. We'll tackle the storage unit together next week!

I continue to believe that small steps over time create big results. The trick is to take the steps. What a change from the "Tornado Jim" I used to be. Let the season begin!