I’m a farm girl. I grew up planting, watering, hoeing, and harvesting fruits and vegetables with my family. Each fall, my mom guided us through the process of canning and freezing much of our produce for use during the winter months ahead. As an adult, I’ve occasionally made the pilgrimage home to help with the fall harvest, but what I had never done, until this year, was attempt to preserve crops harvested from my own small garden. We had a bumper crop of tomatoes this season, and the few slices we used in sandwiches and salads and the generous gifts we gave to neighbors were barely making a dent in our bounty, so I decided to make and preserve tomato sauce. I remembered with nostalgia the hours and hours we spent working as a family and the satisfaction of seeing, at the end of the day, rows of bottled sauce lined up on the kitchen counter. It would be a good experience for the kids, I thought, teach them the value of and satisfaction in good hard work.
The kids were surprisingly enthusiastic about the project. They picked and washed the tomatoes, and they took turns cranking the handle on the strainer/sauce maker. They created such a mess of tomato splatters that it would have been alarming to anyone unaware that it was tomato sauce, not blood. The kids were excited to fill my largest pot to the brim with the bright red, bubbly liquid. I let the sauce simmer and reduce for hours (as is necessary in the tomato-sauce-making process), and the kids had long since gone to bed by the time the sauce had thickened to my satisfaction. I pictured the kids waking up in the morning and finding the rows of bottled sauce lined up on the kitchen counter. They’d be so pleased and satisfied! What lessons of work and self-sufficiency would have been learned!
Then, I measured out the results of our labors.
Two measly quarts.
I poured the sauce into a couple of Ziplock bags and tossed it in the freezer.
I’m afraid that some people have a similar reaction when they take the PHR or SPHR exam. They’ve put in a lot of effort. They’ve studied hard. But the test is not what they were expecting, and their result is not what they were hoping for.
Before I endeavored to preserve tomatoes, I should have called Mom. She would have let me know what I would need in order to produce my desired result of rows and rows of bottled sauce: a lot more tomatoes, for one, and a lot more time. Plus, a much bigger pot.
Similarly, those who plan to take the PHR or SPHR exam should seek guidance from those who have been through the process before, so they have a clearer picture of what to expect and what they need to do to achieve their desired result.
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