Monday 18 September 2017

Poetry Monday: Working ... Plus: Arrr, Matey!

It's Poetry Monday, people!  Started by Diane, taken up by Delores and I - and now, in the comments, Joan, who has agreed to take on the challenge each week and have her name up in lights, so to speak. You know the drill: Write a poem, read a poem, leave a poem in the comments - anything goes, poetry-wise. This is for fun and for sharing.

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to visit and contribute a comment or a poem. You are a fine bunch, and may I add good-looking too.

This week's topic, as suggested by Diane, is working. The first thing I think of in connection with working is the jobs we do for a paycheque. I thought about the difference between the active working lives of my parents and grandparents and my own sedentary working life, spent first at a typewriter (remember those?) and then at a computer chasing numbers and words. In June of 2016, after an extended run of very long days, aggravated by sitting in a chair that did not suit my frame, I developed rather bad hip and lower back pain. In the end, it was determined that my joints had started to seize up, like unused equipment tends to do, and then took my muscles along for the ride.

I am mostly pain-free now, but I have to keep mobile and strong to stay that way. Having been unable to walk for pleasure for six months last year has helped me appreciate even more the ability to walk now without pain. Walking is my physiotherapy, but it's also my joy.

One of the professionals who worked on me to bring me back to mobility told me research shows people who work at computers all day have as high a risk of physical impairment as nurses in the days when they lifted, moved, and worked on patients all day long. Who would have thought it?



Those of my family before me
All hard workers were they
A merchant, a miner, a woodsman
Their living they earned that way

A mechanic and a teacher
Were my parents' jobs, you see
And that brings me to the present
And the work that's done by me

I work with words and numbers
Typing and tapping away
I sit for hours and hours
Only fingers and eyes in play

I wonder which is the harder -
Pushing a body to give?
Or forcing a body to be so still?
Neither's a way to live

The answer may prove (as usual)
To be a shade of grey
Too much work wearies the body
Too little ... still makes you pay

A body is made to be working
And a body needs times of rest
A healthy, consistent balance
Is what suits a body best


How I feel when my numbers don't behave. My brain definitely gets exercise even when my body doesn't.

Do you have to work at getting a balance of work and rest? Or does it come easily?


And just before I go, might I remind all of you that tomorrow, September 19, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day (see HERE for a fun rundown on how it began, and HERE for humourist Dave Barry's hilarious column about it).

I've been waiting for this day for months, because I found this:

and also this:

Don't forget to say "arrr," "yar," or even "arf," and "matey" and "walk the plank" at some point in the day! No, no - don't actually walk the plank, just SAY it ... and if you accomplish nothing else, you'll have either confused, confounded, or exasperated the other people in your orbit ... er, on your pirate ship of life :)


Elephant's Child said...

Love your poem.
Neither my obsessional nature nor my klutzy self do balance well.
A work in progress. Always.

River said...

I used to find an easy work/life balance and truthfully getting up each day and going to work was fun for me. Then I changed jobs and it all went downhill from there. Now I sit too long by the computer and tell myself I must get out more, and still I sit.

Terry said...

Good poem. 👍 Jenny

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny! Here again. Loved the pictures of the pets, especially the first one.
It was interesting to read of your painful hip and back and it's because of your sedentary work, as that is one of the things that plagues me. Like you I worked in an office on a typewriter, which was okay, but then when we moved to Devon the first time I had to find local work as our daughter was only six and we didn't have any family or friends (to begin with) to help out. I took a job as a checkout operator in a local supermarket and the chairs weren't all that good or supportive. Our shifts were just less than four hours long without a break and it obviously took its toll on me. I never put my hip and back pain down to that until your comments, so it all makes sense now.
Ironically my poem today is about a checkout operator. I was sat by the checkouts while my husband did the shopping one day and a poem started to form.

The Check-out Operator.

It's the start of her shift
And she sits herself down.
Must be smiling and happy,
No time to frown.

She can't let her feelings
Be shown on her face.
There'll be time for emotions,
In another place.

She sits and she watches
As queues quickly build.
Their trolleys piled so very high,
With dry goods, frozen and chilled.

She greets all her customers
As the goods she quickly scans.
Chatting as each item,
Goes through her capable hands.

She listens as they confide
Of their hardship and their woe.
She sympathises in the right place,
But today, she doesn't want to know.

The ache is getting worse
And her smile is beginning to wane.
Not long now, she tells herself,
Then I'll be free of all this pain.

She glances at the clock
As she swivels in her seat.
At last, her shift is almost over,
There's someone she has to meet.

Her shift has now ended and
She heaves a sigh of relief.
Next stop is the dentist,
To cure her aching teeth.

Have a good week.

Joan (Devon)

only slightly confused said...

It IS hard to find that healthy balance for the body. Like you I degenerated sitting at a keyboard. Unlike you, it's too late for me and a sharp knife will be the only remedy (hip surgery). I keep hoping for stem cell therapy to improve by leaps and bounds (which is what I would LIKE to be doing but can't) (leaping and bounding that is). A great poem that celebrates the hard working ancestors and shows that we are harming ourselves just as badly as they did, only diffeently.

Martha said...

I try to find a good balance between working hard and resting hard. I can't say I'm always successful since I've injured myself one too many times.

I will try not to walk the plank tomorrow...or push anyone off it...haha...

Steve Reed said...

Sitting still for long periods of time is, in fact, quite hard on our bodies. We weren't made for that!

Red said...

Well, I never thought about life this way. I was a teacher and you were up and moving but not at a frantic pace. I also taught language arts and tried to get kids to write as much as possible.

Janie Junebug said...

Arrrrrr! I love yer poem.

Janie, who is a day early with the pirate talk--better than being a day late and a dollar short

jenny_o said...

"Work in progress" is a good way to think of it though. Then we can always be looking toward improvement. I tend to get stuck in thinking "this is just how things are" ...

jenny_o said...

I do the same, River, even though I know better.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Terry! I like the emoticons you've been using :)

jenny_o said...

So, so true about smiling through the pain in order to give good customer service! Well done.

I didn't realize checkout people sat to do their work there - here they must stand, which is also hard on the body. We were made to move!

jenny_o said...

Leaping and bounding is a distant memory for me also ... the spirit is willing but the joints are not in harmony :)

jenny_o said...

A worthy goal, arrr Martha matey!

jenny_o said...

Precisely! We were made to move.

jenny_o said...

Teaching is probably a good compromise between all go and all sit. My mom is still active at 87 years old, which I doubt I will be.

jenny_o said...

That it is, Pirate Janie! Thanks farrr joining in!

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Balance. Gasp!
(Delightful, Jenny!)

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Oh, the poor dear! How many of us have jobs where we have to 'keep up the face'. Bless all those people who work through the pain every. Single. Day.

Jimmy said...

"arrr" Jenny I am so proud to hear you talk of how hard you work to remain mobile, it takes determination to make it work and I am proud of you. Been there done that.

Excellent job on your poem also.

jenny_o said...

Ha ha! and thank you, Diane :)

jenny_o said...

Arrr Jimmy! Thank you :)

jenny_o said...

Joan, Diane has given us the topic for next week, and it is .... da dah ... underwear!

only slightly confused said...

Terrific poem. I can see that poor woman enduring her misery and never letting on to anyone that she is in pain. Great job.

dinthebeast said...

All the jobs I had were fairly physical and kept me moving and doing things with my body, and I was in good physical shape when my stroke hit.
That "balance" word is where it's at, I think, as I was trying to get all the hours I could while they were available, but it turned out that my 47 (at the time) year old body wasn't up for months of 10 to 13 hour days any more.
I probably do sit too long and too often now, but I walk and exercise periodically and my doctor says I'm doing OK where that is concerned.
Nice poem. I was gonna link to the poem the Rude Pundit posted for Labor Day, but then I remembered that I already had.

-Doug in Oakland

jenny_o said...

A 10 to 13 hour day is definitely for the youngsters. And even if we were to scale back as we got older, I wonder what that kind of intensive labour does in the long run. Maybe that's why our parents and grandparents had arthritis (the wear and tear kind) and rheumatiz ...

Chicken said...

Aye Matey yourself. Happy IPD. Love your poem. I have a job that keeps me at a desk for long periods. It is not a good thing. I've been thinking of getting one of those desk elevation things but I'm not sure I'd stand up and work when there is a perfectly comfortable chair available. The only thing that's coming to mind regarding work is that line from a song that was popular when I was a kid: "Work your fingers to the bone and what do you get? Bon-ey fingers, boney fingers"

Janie Junebug said...

Arrrrrr! Yer me matey!

Jono said...

I like "Talk like William Shatner Day" even more, but I don't remember when it is.

jenny_o said...


jenny_o said...

Check into the latest info on those stand-up desks before you leap, Chicken. There was something in the news recently that standing is no better than sitting. We gotta MOVE, apparently, not just stand.

I remember bon-ey fingers well :)

jenny_o said...

That's what Google is for, Jono :)

klahanie said...

Hi human, Jenny,

Ooh arf, me hearty
A balancing party
Loving your pawetry
That's plain to see
Walking the planks
No thanks
Plenty outside my place
The planks of disgrace.

Thanks for your pawst.

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny 🐶

jenny_o said...

Avast, Penny me darlin' . . . lovely poem and I hope those planks are gone soon! Thanks for dropping by, and say "arf" to Gary for me, will you? ;)

Diane Henders said...

Aaar, I almost missed "talk like a pirate" day! (I still have nearly an hour and a half left here on the west coast.) Thanks for reminding me - must go and lay some pirate-talk on Hubby. Arrr! ;-)

John M said...

I have to keep track or my time will pass by without doing what I enjoy.

jenny_o said...

Ha ha! It's never too late to talk like a pirate :) (Although apparently all that pirate talk came after the Disney movie Treasure Island ...)

jenny_o said...

By which I mean, it's all made up :)

jenny_o said...

Some people naturally work more and play less, and others do the opposite. It's good to know which we are so we can try to balance things out, I think.

Diane Henders said...

Eh. Technicalities. ;-)

baili said...

I am so sorry that you suffered with joints pain dear Jenny!

Since beginning i was greatly in love with physical activities and may be this is why i did not care for "BALANCE" which is basic need for healthy life .
I was workaholic and it was something inside me pinching me all the time that "work" "why sitting"

resulted in in the weakness of my joints .
my doctor told me almost 7 years back that if you won't get proper rest proper equal to work you do you joints will completely damage within three years .

he gave me medicines which made me feel sleepy and i quit after some days .
now situation is quite worse and i decided to take it seriously if i have to move on "usefully" and "actively" for my family.
Though hubby and my eldest son often argue to have some domestic paid help but i want to do everything of my home all by myself so let's see..

Your poem is touching and beautiful!!!

jenny_o said...

In time maybe you will accept some help, baili, as it will be better for your poor joints! It is hard to give up the things we have always done, especially if we feel they are a part of our worth or value, but nothing can change who you are inside and that is what matters to your family. Make sure you are around for them, for a long time to come!