The Recovering Farmer

Friday, September 30, 2011

When Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue

Life is full of surprises. Many of them pleasant. Others not so much. Often times we wonder what the real meaning is behind the different twists and turns we experience. Sometimes things don’t make sense. We have certain dreams. We have aspirations. We have relationships with others who have dreams. It hurts when someone we love faces hurts or disappointments. We feel lost, confused or angry, if our plans don’t work out. We become uncertain of the future.

In my work with mediation I come across many situations where people have been knocked off course. Whether it’s a family situation, a debt situation, a relational issue, we wonder what we did wrong. We second guess. Many times we feel uncertain about what our next steps should be. We don’t know where to turn for help.

I am reminded of a story told about Christopher Columbus. It is said that when he left home he did not know where he was going. He had no idea how to get there. And when he did get there he had no idea where he was. Can you imagine how much different the story of Columbus would be if he had had the benefits of modern technology. A compass, a map, Google Earth, GPS. Any of these would have made life easier for him. Heck, he wasn’t even sure whether the earth was flat and he might sail over the edge.

Reminds me of when I went through some challenges. Whether it was mental health issues, financial stress, production problems, or relational challenges. I could have used a road map. I could have used the guidance of some one that had gone before. I could have used the help of a professional. Instead I did it on my own. I had no idea where I was going. I had no idea how to get there. And now I sometimes wonder where I am. With the experience I have gained, with many professionals I have worked with over the years, and the results I have seen when professionals are utilized, I see the errors of my ways. I should have made use of the help out there. The journey would have been easier. The end result would have been better.

That help is available. If stress, depression or anxiety is getting to you and you need someone to talk to there are counsellors available at the Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services. If your farm is experiencing financial challenges there are free services available through the Manitoba Farm Mediation Board or through Farm Debt Mediation Services. If your family is experiencing relational issues or you would like assistance with putting together a succession plan or business plan, there are professionals available through the Canadian Association of Farm Advisers (CAFA). Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives have staff that can help with, and provide resources for, many of your needs. It is a matter of availing yourself of the help that is out there.

Take the time to explore your options. Ensure you feel comfortable with the professional you are considering. Envision your destination through establishing goals. Find a map for the journey. That way you will know where you are headed, you will know how to get there and when you get there you will know where you are. Make it as good one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Taking Time Off

Some time ago my wife suggested to me that she was going to be taking the third week in September as holidays and highly recommended I do the same. I agreed. And so this week I have been on holidays. Tough to figure out what it really means to be on holidays. Not that I have never taken time off before. But I do not remember ever taking a week off when we did not have a trip planned. I suppose I still have that farmer mentality. When “hanging” out at home there is always work staring you in the face. In my case, being self-employed, taking time off is not a big deal but does take significant effort. So I don’t go to the office but I am still connected. With modern technology it takes more of an effort to disconnect yourself from work. The Blackberry went with me where ever we went. And I have yet to learn to ignore messages or emails “till I return to the office”. So each day I did spend some time communicating with clients.

We did take some time to play golf. Remember last spring when I talked about the deal we had made? My wife was going take golf lessons and together we would take dance lessons as well. Well, we had done some dancing, culminating in some “real” dancing at our son’s wedding. However, the golf part of our deal remained somewhat lacking. So with the good weather we had this week we golfed a couple of rounds. Good times.

We also went and watched a movie. Now, you have to understand that we do not often go to the movies. We seem to have very different ideas as to what a good movie is. Two weeks ago we had gone to see a movie as well. At the time I wanted to see Contagion while Rose suggested The Help. The reviews on The Help were non-existent and I had seen some previews about Contagion. A medical thriller. Looked interesting. Contagion won out. We went. We watched. We were disappointed. Not much of a story line. The most interesting, and perhaps scariest, aspect of the movie dealt with how quickly a virus can spread. With the SARS situation a few years ago and more recently the H1N1 scare, there was something eerily real about the movies.

However, a friend told us this week that The Help was an excellent movie so we went and watched it. Two movies in two weeks? Wow. Turns out The Help is an awesome movie. Very good storyline. Deals with racism. The sad part is that stories like this did happen and happened not that long ago. It hit home even more after hearing the story of a banana being thrown at a black hockey player in a NHL hockey game. What kind of society do we live in where some people have this idea that they are superior? The idea that people of different color or ethnicity are inferior. We sit by and watch as it happens in a larger way with the Israelis and the Palestinians. We see racial tensions all over the world. Examples of ethnic cleansing. People thumping their chests and claiming superiority. We choose sides. We are indignant. We are angry. We hope and pray for peace. As we should. And yet we see smaller examples of racism, discrimination, and hatred right in our back yard. What do we do about it? Far too often I am guilty of turning a blind eye. It is much too easy just to ignore. To pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it does happen. Watch the movie The Help. Decide for yourself on how we can make a difference. And then let’s strive for peace. Let’s strive for true equality. Let’s make this world, this country, our community a better place to live. Make it a peaceful one. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I chatted earlier in the day with a colleague and explained to her that I seemed lacking in ideas for my weekly blog. Then I received an email from a friend who suggested he was tired or rereading my last one and could do with a new one. So why is it that some weeks I have all kinds of ideas and then suddenly everything goes blank. Nothing seems to make sense. Nothing flows. Almost like the weather. Unbelievable warm weather and just like that it turns cold. Sunday it was over 30 degrees and for tonight there are frost warnings. Perhaps it’s the change in seasons. Days are getting shorter. It seems like only yesterday I was waiting for the golf courses to open for the summer. With all these changes people often times have a change in mood as well.

I decided, Sunday, to watch the Blue Bomber game rather than to go golfing. I thought that I could golf Monday. Well, what a mistake that was. That was ugly. What happened to our invincible defense? Gone but not forgotten? And what about Pierce? Brutal. Not sure how often the guy can stand being tackled the way he was in that game. I was always suspect of our offense. Now we have back to back games against Montreal? Not good. It could get uglier. Perhaps I need to keep the faith. I know I won’t change any golf plans for a Bomber game again anytime soon.

So Monday morning I got up early and headed for the golf course. North wind. Showers threatening and a balmy 12 degrees. That was bad. I tried. Finally headed off the course to go to work. Thought I could golf Tuesday morning. Woke up early. Gale force north wind. Cloudy and cold. Went back to bed. That was really bad. So what now? Is the golf season over? Hope not. There is some good news in this someplace.

Back in early spring I had ordered a “belly” putter. For those of you who follow golf you know what I am talking about. A putter that is long enough that you stick in your belly for extra stability. Used to be that “old” guys would use these. Now there are many younger golfers on tour that use them. The belly putter never came. So I ended up buying a regular putter. I gave up on my putting. Nothing worked. Some of you may remember me lamenting about this last summer. Putting has always been my weakness. I think in official golf lingo, I have the yips. Two weeks ago I got a call from the golf store letting me know that a belly putter had come in. I picked it up. Took some getting used to. But it works. Still need to practice more. But at minimum I now have the confidence that the ball will end up near the cup. I know the ball will travel towards the target. Before I never knew. Now I hear that the PGA may make these putters illegal for use on the tour. Hope not. Just one problem. Either the putter is just a little too short or I need a bigger belly. Both easily fixed.

Now all I need is some nice weather. I am finishing this early Wednesday morning. Still dark outside. Thermometer reads -1. Frosty. Forecast calls for a north breeze and a high of 13. Got to the course at 7:30. Had to wait till 8:30 for the frost to clear the greens. Need some practice. Have another game with that certain left hander. Looking forward to it. Just hit me. He always has the home course advantage. Have to figure out how to get over that one. Oh well. It will be fun. Make it a good one.