The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where Am I Going To Live When I Get Home

Yes, I know that is the title to a country song. And for the record, and I thought I had clarified this previously, I am NOT a country fan. However, many years ago I remember seeing a music video done by the same singer that brought fame and nausea with the song My Achy Breaky Heart. Yes, the line dancing song. He was singing about being kicked out of his house. Have no idea what the lyrics are but the first line of the song has stuck with me all these years. Must have left an impression. Go Figure.

Anyway, Monday I was trundling back to Brandon with the Uhaul truck. We had spent all weekend moving, unpacking, and just in general, trying to settle into our new home. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that two people could have as much “stuff” as we did. What a job. My kids informed me Saturday morning that they were never, ever helping us move again. Wait a minute. Half the stuff we have was bought because of the kids. And guess who keeps hanging out at our new digs every day? The kids. Not complaining, of course. It’s awesome. But they will have to help us move again. Even if it’s just into the old folks home.

Back to my trip to Brandon. I used to have aspirations of being a truck driver. Seemed to me that there was some mystique to that job. Perhaps the call of road. Perhaps I saw it as an escape. I can tell you that that desire has now left me. Spending a number of hours bouncing down the highway woke me up to reality. Bouncing is a complete understatement. More like riding a horse with a cab. Swaying, feeling every bump in the road, it was an adventure. Why Brandon? Seems to me that since we decided to move my workload in Brandon has increased. Go figure. Oh well, will keep me going back to my home stomping grounds. Notice the western twang to that statement. (not sure it’s the song or the thought of trucking that brought that on)

I keep getting side tracked. The trip back to Brandon finally gave me the chance to reflect on this major change in my life. Since my wife got the new job, life has been a whirlwind of activity. Selling, buying, moving. No time to think about what was really happening. I had some very strange feelings. Friday I left home to move to eastern Manitoba from western Manitoba. Two days later I left home in eastern Manitoba to go work in western Manitoba. Enough to make one dizzy. That is when the title of the song hit me. Where Am I going To Live When I Get Home. Where is home? Where is my life? What have we done? When will I feel like things are normal? Perhaps it’s like they say, normal is only a setting on a dryer.

So now I am back home. I think. For two nights and then we are taking a break. Going on a vacation. They say a change is as good as a rest. I am getting both. Look out when I get back. Should be ready to conquer the world. This trip was something that was planned before we ever had an inkling of what was about to happen to us. It will be good to sit back and relax for a while. Take a breather. Reassess. But the problem remains. Where am I going to live when I get home? Don’t get me wrong. This is exciting. Looking forward to our new challenges. But it may take awhile. So till next time, here’s to discovering and exploring our new life. Our new home. Make it a good one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

And So It Ends

Life has this way of throwing surprises at you. Some of them are actually pleasant surprises. I have mixed feelings as I sit here and ponder my future. I have lived in the western part of Manitoba for the better part of my life. I have been part of a community for years. I have seen people come and go. I have seen our kids grow up and have seen how their lives have develop and continue to develop. Now it appears it is my turn to make significant changes in my life. We are moving.

It is exactly a month ago that my wife accepted a job near Winnipeg. That was a pleasant surprise. Then we were able to sell our house and buy a house in short order. That was a really pleasant surprise. But then the work started. Sorting, packing, purging, and all that goes with vacating a house. This weekend we are moving. I am procrastinating packing up my office. It’s a lot of work. It becomes overwhelming.
After all that whirlwind of activity I find myself thinking about all these changes. I am reflecting on my life. A life spent near Wawanesa. I have mixed feelings. Looking forward to new challenges. A friend and colleague told me that moving to a new community can be freeing. An interesting concept that I need to analyze further. The thought being that having grown up in a community and lived in that community for most of my life, the community has made certain assumptions of who I am by who I was. That may be positive or it may be negative. Like I say, interesting. Will leave that one for another day.

“Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process.” I have always appreciated this quote. Used it often when I discuss relationships. However, I have often wondered about the second part of that quote. “. . . . community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process’. When I reflect on my life I see so much truth in that. This community has given me life. It has defined who I am. And very obviously it has nurtured me.

Who would have thought that I would remain in the community I grew up in to farm, raise a family and start a new business? Although I had to go to a different community to find a life partner, who would have thought that she would pack up and join me in my community? Who would have thought that my grade 7 teacher would become a friend and neighbor? Who would have thought that my kids would have the same grade 2 teacher I had? Who would have thought that neighbors would become such an important part of life? How often did I take advantage of neighbors when I needed help? Where else, after a heavy snow fall, would different neighbors show up to clear my yard? On the same day, without being asked. Where else could you feel safe leaving keys in your vehicle and leaving doors unlocked? Only in small town Manitoba. Only near Wawanesa.

Perhaps the title should have been “And So It Begins”. As I bid adieu to my community I hope that I, in some small way, have contributed to a community that has left its mark on me. And if any of you should find yourself in eastern Manitoba drop by. The coffee will be on. And I would love to hear what’s going on in western Manitoba. And remember, I will still be on the west side of the Red River. Make it a good one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

“Let’s Talk”

Unless you never watch TV or live in seclusion you will have seen commercials, this week, called “Let’s Talk”. The commercial features Clara Hughes, a well-known and recognized Canadian speed skater. Hughes hit the news in the last year or two when she first admitted publicly that she had suffered from depression. Since then other sports stars, TV personalities and celebrities have come forward admitting to having experienced depression. The focus this week has been on talking about it. I really like the thought of being able to break the stigma through conversation.

It is quite astounding to hear that one in five Canadians is affected by mental illness. That means that many of the people you know personally and intimately are affected. Can you tell? In many cases people hide it well. They mask it. You may ask why. The answer is simple. Depression has always been viewed as a weakness not a sickness. How sad is that? Obviously with it being viewed as a weakness the natural human response would be to hide it and hide it well. As I began telling my story two years ago a reporter made the following comment; “ On the outside, he was a successful Wawanesa-area farmer and pork industry leader. On the inside, he was drowning in a black hole”. I always questioned the “successful” part of the story but the intended point was so true. I was masking my mental health issues. (the full article can be viewed on my website at www.signaturemediation .ca )

I remember well the day that I took part in a call-in radio show about upcoming workshops dealing with men and depression. I had been asked to tell my story during the course of these workshops. Although I had consented to this I never gave it much thought till the host on the radio show asked me about the story. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had said I would tell my story but suddenly I was filled with fear and trepidation. But I had no choice. It is tough to back out of something in the middle of a live radio show. So I jumped in. I started peeling the onion. In the days and weeks to come I revealed more and more of the depression I had experienced. The more I talked the better I felt. It was enlightening. And the more I talked other people also talked and shared. The more I listened the better I understood the illness I had. And the more I understood the better I was able to deal proactively with it.

In many of my presentations and workshops I have a slide that is titled “Find your supports”. I give suggestions as to who that support could be. I mention family, friends, neighbors, clergy, doctors and other professionals. It varies for all of us. I have two very good friends who have often, over the years, taken time to listen to me as I unload. I suspect sometimes they wonder why them. But they always listen. They normalize and validate my feelings. They provide a shoulder to cry on. They are there when I need them. I also have a very understanding better half. She has been beside me throughout the journey. Although initially I found it difficult to share many of my feelings with her, simply because I was afraid of what effect it might have on her, in latter times we have talked often about challenges I have had and continue to have.

So talk about it. Have a conversation. Start the process of healing. And if you know someone that you feel is not doing well offer yourself as a support. There is hope and there is relief. Make it a good one.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Was It Meant To Happen

I asked the question, recently, whether things were meant to be or whether we just have the ability to take positives out of negative events in our lives. I really thought that I had come to grips with an answer, at least as it pertained to myself. However, certain events in our lives have given me reason to pause and rethink this. Not suggesting for a moment that the answer is clear or whether I even have an answer.

For a few years now, my wife and I have been considering moving closer to Winnipeg. Our kids live in Winnipeg, although our oldest son is currently living at home. We also have family in the Winnipeg area, including parents. So it only made sense to make a move. The problem always boiled down to job availability. The work I do keeps me travelling all over the province so the move should not impact my work. My wife and I used to have an argument. She said we should sell our house and move and the job would take care of itself. I always argued that she should find a job and selling the house would take care of itself. We never did agree. However, she applied for a job just before Christmas. Twelve days ago the job was offered to her and she accepted. That happened Monday morning. That evening we sat and looked at each other and wondered what now. Remember the saying; “careful what you ask for because you may get it”? We were unsure what to do. She said that if it was meant to be it would all happen smoothly. I wasn’t so sure.

We decided to advertise our house on ebrandon and Kijiji. I was convinced that my wife would be moving while I stayed in the area to sell the house. I suspected that I might stay here till the summer some time. That meant finding a place for my wife to live in the meantime. Lots going on. However, things started falling in place very quickly. As I sit here writing this, our house has sold and we have bought a house, all in less than two weeks from when we started this journey. It seems surreal.

As I have thought about this I reflected on the question I asked a few weeks ago. At the time I also suggested that I had come to a landing on an answer. Here is what I was thinking. We live in an imperfect world, we are imperfect human beings so bad stuff happens. However, I also believe that we have the capacity to find positives in most everything bad that happens. Not by any means suggesting that the event is positive but rather that positive things can happen. Perhaps its people we meet through the ordeal. Perhaps it’s our own character that builds and grows through the process. Perhaps new opportunities come up. I again had the opportunity this week to share my story. I retold the story of the financial difficulties we had with the farm, the debilitating depression I went through, the anxiety I often felt and how my journey continues. How could I possibly garner something positive out many of those experiences. One of the people who heard the presentation was quick to tell me that I would not be doing the work I am doing if these things had not happened to me. Work that I really enjoy. I would not be able to be as effective. I had to agree. There was a tremendous positive that came out of those negative experiences. That got me thinking about some other experiences. People I have met through the years. Had lunch with one of them this week, we have become friends. The people who have come forward and shared their stories with me which has helped me just like I hope I have helped them.

Now with the latest events in our lives I am reconsidering my position. Perhaps things do happen for a reason. When things fall into place, like they have for us, it makes me wonder. As much as we wanted to make this move two years ago it never worked out. Now when we look back we realize that the experiences over the last two years will contribute to a much more positive move. Things will be better because of the two year delay. So that makes me think that things do happen for a reason. I suspect some would make a strong argument that the big guy upstairs was and is involved. Others would argue that sometimes the stars line up and good things happen. But does it matter? I am going with what I got and enjoy it while it lasts because who knows what lurks around the corner. Make it a good one.