The Recovering Farmer

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Forgetterer is Getting Better

I seem to have been in a bad head space for the last week and it has resulted in some real harebrained results. Left Wednesday morning to spend some time in Winnipeg, doing business and, yes, you guessed it, play some golf. When I got to my kids’ house Wednesday evening I realized my laptop was not in my brief case. Panic hit. My first inclination was that it had been stolen. Then I realized I just might have left it home, although the power chord and the mouse were in my briefcase. I phoned home and sure enough, my wife said it was sitting on my desk, ready to go. Anxiety hit. I needed it. How could I spend the next days with out the laptop. Long story short, that is why this blog is being posted a few days late. As it turns out, life does go on without a computer. In fact sometimes I think of how good our parents had it without cell phones, laptops, tvs and other forms of technology. The world must have been so much smaller in those days. Perhaps if we could shrink our world our worries could be so much less. When I see what goes on outside my little world I can’t help but feel depressed. The flip side is that a lot of the stuff happening in the World, to other people, brings back some perspective to my own world.

Had lunch with a friend this week who shared some of his own struggles with addictions. Had my world not expanded I would never have had the opportunity to meet this gentleman. Although my heart ached when he shared some of his journey, I was also able to take home some lessons for myself as I try to make sense of the world I live in. Changes one’s perspective when you take the time to listen to others, while at the same time working on your own issues. My hope is that in some way I was able to be an encouragement to him as he was to me.

Played golf with some government muckety mucks (I say that with all due respect) this week. It was interesting to hear their perspective on agriculture. They expressed frustration at their inability to address many of the issues that need addressing. One in particular expressed frustrations at agriculture being one crisis after another. He would so much like to be able to implement policies that would see agriculture succeed in the long term. I thought, wait a minute. These are the same frustrations that many farmers have as well. Perhaps, just perhaps the goals of farmers and government are the same. But, I suppose, as long as we can barely keep up with crisis management, other long term goals seem to get lost.

Perhaps that is the same issues I have in my life. Crisis management. Never being able to address long term goals, in fact, sometimes wondering what my long term goals actually are. It seems that my emotional compass has become demagnetized. My emotional gas tank is empty. I need to retool. I need to refocus. Spending time with others helps in regaining a solid footing. As I have mentioned before, relationships give us identity, direction and purpose. Call someone you know who is struggling and take the time to listen to their story. I know it will help you as you continue your own journey. Make it a good one.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will I Never Learn?

So I messed up. It was my wife’s birthday this week and, again, I came up way short. Not that she complained but others around me made sure they pointed out the errors of my ways. I would think that at my age I would have learnt. Not so. (Speaking of age, she is actually older than me now. Happens 4 months of the year and I make sure she never forgets.) So how do we treat the relationships we have. Take them for granted? Abuse them? Take advantage of them? Perhaps all of the above.

It has been said that “relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process”. In other words, relationships keep order in our lives. They keep us centered. So what is the best way to cultivate old and new relationships?

Communication is huge. Naturally, when you do not communicate the person or people, you are in a relationship with, have no idea what is going on. I am reminded of the couple who were not on speaking terms. When he went to bed at night he realized he would need to get his wife to wake him as he had an early flight to catch. So he put a note by her side of the bed asking her to wake him. When he woke up in the morning he realized that he had slept in and missed his flight. He was about to fly off the handle when he saw a note on his side of the bed which simply said, “it’s time to get up”. Not very effective.

Communication is a two way street. When people we love do not have honest and forth right communication with us we feel hurt and rejected. Always second guessing and never being sure of what really is going on in their lives. When that happens relationships suffer.

Other times it takes an effort to understand what the other person is saying. We all view the world in a unique way and often when we see what people close to us are doing or saying, we fail to understand. We jump to conclusions and assume the worst. (do I need to remind you what happens when we assume?) We need to be curious, open minded and prepared to explore, when people close to us talk or act in ways that we don’t understand. It may sound difficult. You will be surprised at the warm feeling you get when you are able to share what you are thinking. The feeling you get when both of you seek to understand.

Getting back to my wife’s birthday. I am trying to redeem myself. Have invited some neighbors for a bbq on Saturday. Note to self. Have to pick up a cake. Now I wonder, will my wife cook the meal? Make it a good one.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Person's Journey

Anxiety is an interesting emotion that all of us will experience, some more than others. Anxious thoughts usually end in some sort of disaster. Someone walked into my office yesterday, (first walk in I had in my new digs) and accused me of backing into her car. I suppose being the owner of a maroon car has its liabilities. Needless to say I felt violated by being accused of something I had not done. One thought led to another and in no time I had visions of the police showing up at the door. One scenario even had me being led out of the office in hand cuffs. Sounds funny to some of you but that is a simple example of the way anxiety can grab hold of and control a person, if not reigned in.

The following words were written by someone very close to me. It was painful to watch this person battle the onslaught of anxiety. It caused anxiety in me to watch and yet I knew that words alone could not help this individual. It required a combination of medication, close friends and a pile of self therapy. It encourages me on my journey to watch and learn from others.

“A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with an anxiety problem. I have been fighting for my personal autonomy ever since. These are my thoughts:
Never has taking baby steps felt so much like taking giant leaps.
After trudging for days I can still see my starting footprints lying right behind me.
Yet every mile I push, that’s another two inches of bullshit I can leave behind forever.
Sure life can keep throwing left hooks at me,
but every time life knocks me down, that means I can get back up.
There aint no better feeling than that.
Bring it on life, I will not let my scars remain wounds!”

Similar to the words above someone once said that “scars remind us of where we have been but do not have to dictate where we are going”. If you are someone that is suffering from stress, anxiety or are debilitated by depression I would challenge you to take that first step to a brighter future. Lean on your supports, whoever they may be. Talking about it does help and if you are lacking a confidant in your life call the Manitoba Farm and Rural Stress Line or the Manitoba Crisis Line. There are always counselors on hand that can help you on the road to recovery. Make it a good one.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Much is Enough????

Some good friends, a couple, came by for a visit last week. What a wonderful time we had visiting and catching up. We spent some time in reminiscing about the good old days. Exploring, hiking, swimming, even getting into trouble. Getting into trouble was the easy part. Seems that being a preacher’s kid, expectations were always higher, leaving me some what vulnerable to punishment, some of which I am sure would be considered illegal in today’s society. In fact, I was always guilty until proven innocent. Feeling sorry for me yet?

Back to the subject at hand. My friend has had his own challenges with stress and depression over the years. What impresses me is that he is able to recognize the triggers that have the potential to push him into that dark abyss. I asked him what he felt caused his depression. He answered with words that have stuck with me. “I get depressed when I feel obligated to give when I have nothing left to give.” When I replayed that conversation later, I thought how true that is in my own world. I am sure many of you will be able to relate as well.

We live in a society that is fast paced and ever changing. We hear more and more about “burn out”. We give till we have nothing left to give. Our emotional gas tanks are empty. And yet the demands on us keep coming. How can we cope? How do we avoid slipping into that dark abyss? How do we get out from the dark cloud hanging over us? How do we find balance in a topsy turvy world? Let me give you some ideas.

Klinic Community Health has some good ideas on a website at . They refer to music, nature, humor and others, as tools to help one deal with the anxieties of life. Take the time to play, to laugh, and most of all to talk. Something as simple as chatting with the person filling you gas tank (yeah, yeah I know, most stations are self serve) or the person bagging your groceries, will help in lifting your spirits. Chatting with a professional can help you get on the path to recovery. I am again reminded of the wall hanging in my office which says: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon but that we wait so long to begin it”. Taking it step by step, we can move towards a life with brighter mornings, days filled with music and laughter, and sunsets that will confirm inner peace and the promise of another good day. Make it a good one.