• Sandy Reynolds

Words Will Always Hurt You

It's been a week! I've spent most of it digging out of the record-breaking snowfall we had on Sunday night. We received somewhere between 45-50 cm of snow in a very short time. It looks beautiful outside.

I am mentioning Sharon Blackie again today. I have benefited from her writing. I said last week I am deep into "If Women Rose Rooted" with my book discussion group. I also interviewed her a few years back on my podcast.

One of her suggestions for reconnecting with the land is to rename the places we spend time. I walk many mornings in a large public space near my home. The official name is Gage Park, after the family who bequeathed it to the city in 1922. It is in the picture above.

Originally, it was a fruit tree orchard and the family home site. Now it is a beautiful park that has been a place of learning about trees for me. There are numerous varieties of trees in the park that I have made friends with over the past eight years. I love the Tulip Tree in the Spring, the Shagbark Hickory, the London Plane and the side-by-side Birch trees that my friend Sarah and I used to stop and hug many mornings before she moved away.

As I sat with Sharon's idea, I decided to rename the park. I am now calling it The Tree Orchard. It is a nod to the past and a recognition of the present. What I've noticed in the past week is that when I set out for The Tree Orchard I experienced a kinship with the land that I didn't feel when I was calling it Gage Park. This change is more pronounced than I expected it to be, and of course, it got me thinking!

We know that words matter. The labels we put on ourselves affect our relationship with ourselves. I expect corresponding behaviours if I refer to myself as flighty or undisciplined. If I tell myself I'm growing or learning or developing in an area, I tend to expand in that area. We use words that shape a story about ourselves and the people around us.

I usually say, "I am a recovering people-pleaser," or "I used to need to be liked a lot more than I do now." I rarely call myself a people-pleaser, although I recognize I have tendencies that I need to be aware of in that area of my life. I have been paying attention to the words I use to describe myself.

How often do you say you aren't good at something when a more accurate description is you don't know how to do it? Who knows! If you spent some time learning how to do something, you might be very good at it. Rather than saying I'm not good at technology, try saying, "I've never invested the time in learning how to back up my computer." Doesn't that sound more truthful and less derogatory?

It matters how we describe ourselves and other people and the world we inhabit. What words have you been using to describe yourself or someone else that may be impacting you in ways you haven't considered before?

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