The Recovering Farmer

Friday, September 24, 2010

Relationships R Us

When I take a look around I am reminded, on a daily basis, of the amount of work farm women do. Read an article this week that suggested that farm women generally have three jobs. They are the primary care givers to their kids. Many have off farm jobs to help pay the bills. And at this time of year many hurry home from their day jobs, throw together a six course supper, do some laundry, help kids with their homework and rush out to the field to help bring in this years crop. Wow. I get tired just thinking of the amount of work they can accomplish.

That is just one of many relationships that we have. Relationships can prove to be difficult at times and, quite honestly, a lot of work. In spite of anything and everything else happening in our lives relationships must be maintained and enhanced otherwise they fall by the wayside.

During this busy time of year for farmers, the struggle and stress of getting the crop off, getting ready for winter and worrying about bills that will not be paid, wreaks havoc with relationships. The challenge is how to find that balance that keeps things intact till life slows down just a bit. Communication is helpful. In fact, read an article by one psychologist who suggested that even complaining helps. Accomplishes a couple of things. Number one gets it out of your system and secondly when you complain to someone else they generally normalize and validate your complaints, making you feel better about your situation.

As many of you assess and reassess your life take the time to build on relationships. My wife and I had the opportunity to have our kids, along with their significant others, home for the weekend. Spent some time cycling and hiking. Cheap entertainment but good for relationship building. Aside from the fact that my butt is still sore (not used to a bicycle seat) and my muscles still ache (seems to go on forever) the weekend turned out good. What a great way to renew and refresh relationships. I refer back to something I have said before. Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process. Make it a good one.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Knowing My Limitations

What are a person’s limitations? Probably something that is tough to answer. How do I know what my limitations are without testing the limits? And most important, how do I test my limits?

I am talking about living within our mental capacity to handle stress. Seems that I have been on the line between living within my limitations and going overboard for some time now. So I have to step back and rethink “me”. Sounds weird. The question that I often have, when I assess or reassess, is how my capacity has changed over time. Having gone through significant challenges with stress and depression seems to have left me more vulnerable to stress and depression. So my limitations have changed.

Farmers this year, again, are experiencing circumstances that have the ability to destroy any sort of expectations that they might have had. This has the potential to greatly diminish one’s ability to handle stress in the future which can push one over the edge into depression. Each “event” reduces the capacity to handle stress.

How often have we seen people around us who appear to be “off” of what we normally expect from those people? I have even heard people say that if so and so would get off their butt they would be more successful. As a community and neighbor we need to be mindful of what others are experiencing. Perhaps they are overwhelmed and have lost the ability or capacity to carry on as per usual. Make it a point to talk to your neighbors. It will benefit both them and you. I know, I have been there. Make it a good one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rain, Rain Go AWAY. . . . . .

This was part of a headline in a paper I was reading this week. How true it is. This growing season opened with so much promise. I remember golf courses opening in March. Areas of the province that had experienced excessive moisture were poised to see a better year. Producers were relaxed as they began the arduous task of putting in their crop. Then the rains began. And once they began they couldn’t seem to stop. Some crops were never put in. Some crops never survived. Some crops survived only to be out in the fields now, waiting to be harvested. Who knows how they will turn out. Cattle producers in many areas have been left without sufficient feed supplies for the winter.

I know I am retelling a story that has become old for so many. And yet I am concerned as I talk to many producers through out the province who, again, have to rethink their farming businesses. Many of you are spending countless hours on machinery as you try your utmost to harvest the crop. As you sit on your tractors you have far too much time to think. And think we do. Far too often the theme of our thoughts is “what could have been”. Many times those thoughts are on the future. As resilient farmers we often say “well, there is always next year”. However, each year that becomes less and less of a sure thing.

Someone said to me today that he was getting tired “thinking about his thinking”. It becomes tiring. The challenge is to focus our thoughts on positives. Remember the blog where I mentioned living one day at a time? The idea is to think positive and avoid those negative thoughts that so easily take over. Mindfulness is a great tool to adjust our thinking. Taking the time each day to sit back and breath will payoff in dividends.

The other challenge is safety. As the days get shorter and as we hurry more and as stress mounts we lose focus of what is happening around us. When we are overwhelmed with stress our expectations become unrealistic. We lose our way. We are an accident waiting to happen. As we wait for the rain to pass and the sun to return, it’s important to remember the saying “there’s a lot to do, so we’d better go slow”.

Make it good one. Make a safe one.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Take Your Jack and . . . . . . . .

I alluded to the fact, last week, that I seemed to be in a negative mind set. I was reminded of darker days when my zest for life just wasn’t there. I didn’t like that feeling. Through the day my attitude would become better but in the mornings I just did not have the motivation to do anything. What happens to me at times like that is that I become resentful. I make mountains out of mole hills. I assume, jump to conclusions, and always make the worst out of a situation, even before it happens.

I am reminded of the story of a gentleman who was driving down a country road late at night. It so happens that he has a flat tire. He rummages through the trunk of the car and realizes that he has no jack. Being out in the middle of no where he was overcome with anxiety. As he ponders his situation he notices a light in the distance. He begins to walk. As he is walking he commiserates about the missing jack. He becomes more and more agitated wondering who is to blame. As he walks he also begins to imagine what type of reception he will get when he gets to the yard he is headed towards. As he nears the farmyard the lights in the downstairs of the house go off. He knows it is late so the people are obviously off to bed. He begins to imagine what will happen when he knocks at the door and how upset the people will be to be disturbed. He can also picture the angst of these people when a stranger asks to borrow a jack. As he walks up the lane the lights in the upstairs go off as well. Now he knows he is in real trouble. The people have gone to sleep. Now, not only is he interrupting their life, asking to borrow a jack, he is also going to be waking them. He knows that when they answer the door they will be very upset. And to think, it wasn’t even his fault that the jack is missing. He has worked himself into a real state by all the assumptions he has made. He knocks on the door. A person opens an upstairs window and lets the man know he will be right down. The man in turn shouts up; “don’t bother, you can take your @#$%& jack and stick it up your &*^%$#”.

Wow. Sounds just the way I react when I get into one of my negative mind sets. I have found that I must really focus on positive thinking. I know there is always some positive event that has happened or will happen. When all of that didn’t work for me this week, I listened to some music. Helped me in finding some balance again. What ever works. Make it a good one.

P.S. Mental note. Make sure the jack is in my trunk.