The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, December 23, 2010

“Its Christmas Time Again”

Well, here we are. Just like that we have been swept into the season. What has not been readied to this point probably won’t be. And will it really matter? My challenge to my clients this week has been to try as best possible to set aside life’s worries and just for awhile enjoy the festive season. Enjoy the fellowship with friends, family and neighbors. Stop for awhile and enjoy the moment.

Perhaps this is easier said then done. Particularly for those who have experienced heartbreak in these days leading up to Christmas. Whether it’s the death of a baby a few short weeks before she was to be born. Or whether it’s a reoccurrence of sickness which we thought had been beat. Whether its financial challenges that don’t take a break. Perhaps it is loneliness because of a loved one lost. Perhaps its anxious thoughts for the future.

My wish for you is that in some way you may experience some peace and happiness in this season. May the words of the following poem help as you take the time to reflect on the past and look forward to the new. Make it a good one.

Put your problems on probation
Run your troubles off the track,
Throw your worries out the window
Get the monkeys off your back.
Silence all your inner critics
With your conscience make amends,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Call a truce with those who bother you
Let all the fighting cease,
Give your differences a breather
And declare a time of peace,
Don't let angry feelings taint
The precious time you have to spend,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Like some cool refreshing water
Or a gentle summer breeze,
Like a fresh bouquet of flowers
Or the smell of autumn leaves,
It's a banquet for the spirit
Filled with family, food and friends,
So allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!
Bob Lazzar-Atwood

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

Do you ever wonder why you were born? Do you wonder what purpose you serve here on earth? Are there times you just don’t see how you can carry on? Do you wonder why things happen? Rest assured you are not alone. For those of you who follow my blogs you will understand when I say that I have had many of those questions and continue to have those questions far too often. This time of year brings out many of those questions for a lot of people. Well, let me tell you a little story. (If you have not read last week’s edition of my blog, read it first before you continue)

For quite some time now one of my brothers has challenged me to watch the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He was quite adamant about it to the point where, two weeks ago when I told him I had seen the movie on sale, he was quite upset that I had not purchased it. Ironically enough the movie happened to be on TV last weekend so I took the time to watch it. It’s a movie that was filmed in 1946 and tells the story of a man who has various roadblocks thrown in his way as he pursues goals in his life. Towards the end of the movie financial ruin comes his way and the effect of that convinces him that suicide is the only way out. Long story short an angel appears and in a really poignant way reveals to this man the positive impact he has had on many different people in his life. Impacts that were virtual and positive life changers for many. At the end of the story many of this man’s friends come forward and provide the resources required to save his business. Interesting story, could probably have been told in less than three hours, but a good change from the action movies I prefer watching.

Now look back at the story I posted last week. It has been interesting to hear from many of you how random acts of kindness have had an impact on your lives. Well, early this morning I found out through a friend and colleague that the woman who I had paid groceries for had written a letter to the editor in the local paper expressing her feelings about the incident. In her words “without knowing it, a complete stranger has made this Christmas one that I will never forget”.

Why am I writing this? Certainly not to pat myself on the back. Rather it is sharing with you how I am finding more clarity and purpose in my life. There are two points that jump out at me from these two stories. One is, and HEAR ME when I say that each one of us has positive impacts on people around us. Never could I have imagined the impact my actions would have on someone else. It was not a great deal of money and I was quite content and pleasantly surprised with the warmth I felt for having done something that I felt somewhat insignificant. Secondly, finding out what impact my actions had on someone else just put the icing on the cake. The challenge being to ensure that I take the time to appreciate others, and show that appreciation, for all those who do so much for me.

I now know that I have discovered the real meaning of Christmas. Make it a good one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

So it happens that one of my sisters is in charge of the annual family Christmas get together this year. That means she plans the food, a program and, of course, any type of gift giving. Now, I have to tell you that having grown up in a Mennonite home a program was always integral to a successful gathering. That program would consist of singing carols, reciting poems and reading the Christmas story directly from the Bible. In fact, now don’t quote me on this, it had to be from the King James version because that was considered the authoritative version of all things scriptural. So whether one could sing or not we all lent our voices to hearty renditions of every carol ever written. After that, and don’t forget we had already spent well over an hour in church that morning, we could open presents. Sounds torturous, right? I suspect it probably was not as bad as it sounds. However, with my sister in charge, the program part will likely be a condensed version. Leaves more time for food.

Now, what I really wanted to share was an idea that she put forward that could be done instead of gifts. In her words she suggested that “in lieu of a gift exchange we ask that each individual initiate and/or perform a specific and random charitable act of kindness’. What a novel idea. So let me tell you of my random act of kindness.

Happens that Rose and I were in Sobeys picking up some groceries after an afternoon of meeting some family in Brandon. The line ups were long and patience was running thin. As the customer in front of us was having her groceries wrung up I suggested to Rose that we offer to pay for that woman’s groceries. She stepped aside and let me walk through first so I could make the offer. I stepped forward bravely but then lost my nerve. It would create a scene. It could be embarrassing. She would probably think I was some sort of freak. But then courage overruled and I made the offer. Well, to be sure, the reaction was interesting. The cashier started laughing and the customer gave me a very weird look. I assured them both that I was quite serious. The woman was flustered and wanted to know why. I suggested that we wanted to do this for her and wished her a Merry Christmas. She made the comment that it was good to see that there were still nice people around. And as she left she wished us a Merry Christmas as well.

That random act of kindness gave a pleasant surprise to some stranger that evening. What was even more fulfilling was the warm sense of community I felt. It was interesting how long that feeling stayed with me. It helped, at least temporarily, in removing that dark cloud that had been hanging over my head for far too long. And for some strange reason, I think I rediscovered what Christmas was meant to be. Make it a good one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Run My Life. . . . Or is My Life Running Me?

Do you find yourself running in every direction and really not getting anywhere? Your mind going in umpteen different directions as you juggle work, getting ready for Christmas, taking care of the farm, getting ready to start a new year? Gets tiring just thinking about it. And yet, through all the rush and busyness of the season we find time to take some moments and enjoy them with friends and family. That is the beauty of this time of year.

I had someone ask me this week what my goals were for five years down the road. I gave it some careful thought and realized I probably did not have any goals past the next twenty four hours. So it made me think. Is this really a bad thing? Why get caught up in the future when it is difficult to live in the moment? But I also got to thinking about how I could gain better control of my life so that I could focus on enjoying life, enjoying family and friends and grow as an individual in my own community. A community that includes many of the people I spend time with, work with and deal with on a regular basis.

So here I go. I am making a New Years Resolution. Just to hear those words upset me. I do not have a good track record when it comes to resolutions made this time of year. Actually, truth be known, this will be the second one. Oh no. May have to actually list them so I don’t forget. Actually might be easier just not making any resolutions. That way I won’t fail, right? I feel better already. But wait. The resolution I was going to make was going to help me feel better. Don’t you just hate arguing with yourself?

Here goes. I resolve that beginning January 1, 2011 I will “. . . run my life . . . and not let it run me”. There, that part was easy. Now to figure out how to do that. For starters I need to finish that book on mindfulness because first things first. Get control of my thinking. Then take an inventory of my life and prioritize. Look after the important things in life. Relationships, health and happiness. Doing that should bring more clarity and control, right? I really think that after I take the first step the rest will start falling into place. Hey, this might be fun. Perhaps you want to try this with me. Think about it. Make it a good one.