The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pat Yourself On The Back

I sat in on an interesting session on self-care this week. It was a reminder of what we all need to do to live life to its fullest. We often talk about how busy life is. Not simple, the way it used to be. We are constantly on the run. Making it from one commitment to the next. Nothing is ever good enough. We can always do better. Our expectations for ourselves are out of this world. Our expectations for others often become unrealistic. We try so hard to keep up to the Jones’.

There is some irony in that. Keeping up to the Jones’. What are we really trying to achieve? What do we really know about the Jones’. (My apologies to anyone reading this whose name is Jones) We know nothing about them. Outside appearances don’t tell the real story. Did you ever watch the show Keeping Up Appearances? It was funny. In a comedic way that show symbolizes what many of us do on a daily basis. Try and fool the people around us. Try to get them to think we are someone we really are not. It is tiring. Interestingly enough when you google the show the first thing that pops up is Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Now, wouldn’t that be a challenge. Pretty sure I don’t want that.

In our discussion, at our monthly support group meeting, we talked about stress relievers. One of the challenges given us was to think of something we felt we were good at. Excuse me. Think of something I am good at? Would that not show arrogance? The first thing that came to mind was the person who once informed me he was not arrogant, he just had a certain level of abrasive self-confidence. Sounds like arrogance to me. Anyway, back to trying to think of something I am good at. In my mind, of course, I thought of many things I am good at. But nothing I would ever dare say out loud. At least not with people around. The group leader asked us all, individually, to share our thoughts. I saw a lot of participants nervously looking around. Fidgeting in their seats. No one wanted to talk. Finally I quietly suggested that I was a good listener. Instantly qualified that by saying my wife would probably not agree. Gave a nervous chuckle. Then hung my head. That was tough. Did I really think that? Did I really say that out loud? Then I thought, Heck yes. I am a good listener. I have to be in my line of work. I take pride in that. As I should. I patted myself on the back. It felt good.

Many of us that face challenges become despondent and question our sanity, our abilities, our self-worth. One person I like golfing with will often say, after a bad shot, “I am such an idiot”. Not true. Nobody is an idiot. Sure, we make mistakes. We screw up. We wish things could have been better. We wish we would have made better decisions. But hey, we all make mistakes. The key is to get up, dust ourselves off and carry on. We all have positive qualities. We all are worth something. And instead of dwelling on the negative dwell on the positive. Go ahead. Pat yourself on the back. And always remember, if the grass on the other side of the fence looks greener it is probably on a sewer field. Or, as has been suggested by my son, grass is greener where you water it. Some truth to that. Make it a good one.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nothing Runs Like A Deer

I am sitting in my office on a dreary Saturday morning, listening to the rain fall. Wondering what to do today. I had plans. But, of course, the weather will change those plans. I know, all of you are thinking the plan was to golf. Not so. Not this time. Although I did get an invitation for a game. Wait a minute. Had an invitation to go last night. One for this morning. And another one for tomorrow. How cool is that. In the last year or so I was becoming accustomed to playing by myself. Not so this year. Being in a new community has its benefits.

You need to know that I declined the invitation for this morning. I was going to help my brother-in-law help my father-in-law. Annual tractor show. Although I am not into antique tractors I knew this was an opportunity to help out. An opportunity to meet old friends. You see, the tractor show is in a community we lived in thirty years ago. And, obviously, gain some much needed brownie points. But, I suspect, the show will be canceled. My wife just suggested it would be a good day to clean up the car garage. Not what I had hoped for.

Okay. So I said that I am not into antique tractors. I will admit that I love hearing old, two cylinder John Deeres. Not sure why. They actually give me flashbacks to another time. You see, my father was a grain farmer. We farmed about 700 acres. Nothing big. But 700 acres none the less. One year my father decided we needed another tractor. I remember neighbors having nice tractors, with cabs, air conditioners, and duel wheels. So of course my imagination went wild. Soon we would be in that bracket as well. Well, things turned out different. My father came home from an auction with a Model R John Deere. A two banger. It had a cab. No air conditioner. No duels. Talk about a fantasy going right out the window. And to think, we just bought a John Deere lawn tractor. Paid close to what my dad paid for his Model R.

The new to us tractor did provide one benefit. It meant we had to have a bigger deep tiller. We went to a 12 footer. Think about it. A whopping 12 feet wide. We thought it was huge. Now picture this. The fields we had to work with that massive deep tiller were 160 acres. That means they were half a mile by half a mile. So I would head out to the field on a smaller tractor, because I did not have my drivers yet, fire up the two banger, and away I went. I would go up and down that field all day. We had to remove the back of the cab to get some air circulation. All that did was create a dust trap. It was hot. It was dusty. It was loud. And it was boring. No radio. Which was a good thing because we would not have been able to hear it anyway. All we could do was think. And with the noise and dust even that was difficult. At the end of the day I would look back at the field and it was difficult to see whether I had actually made any progress. Then it was off home on the other tractor. All to do it again the next day. And they say those were the good old days? Me thinks not. No wonder I need therapy.

How things have changed. Now we live in an era of big tractors, sound proof cabs, GPS, humongous air seeders, high clearance sprayers and other high tech equipment. Farming has become so complicated. So has life. Could we not make life simpler for ourselves. Think about it. Perhaps those were the good old days. Now, I suppose, it’s off to the garage. Perhaps if I get that done quick enough I can watch some golf on TV. After all, it is the U.S. open. Make it a good one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

When You Hit A Good Shot

Finally our infamous spring winds have died down. There were some days that it felt like every shot on the golf course was against a gale force wind. Became quite a challenge. That seems to have changed. Had a couple of really good golf days. And they are becoming more frequent. All is good. The basement project is finished. Many more items on the “to do” list. Nothing to urgent. I can start taking advantage of the golf course.

As I have lamented about before, I had some struggles with my golf game. Swings that used to come naturally seemed to have left. I blamed it on the wind. I blamed it on sore muscles. I blamed it on not playing enough. I had lost my intensity. Last week I was playing a round (two words) with a friend when I did hit a good shot. I made the comment to him that there was nothing to the game of golf. He quickly responded by saying someone once told him that just because you hit a good shot you should not start thinking you are good. Talk about a quick trip back to reality.

I was golfing with the kids yesterday. One was struggling with his game. Actually turned out that both of them were struggling. He ended up getting a birdie on a hole. His attitude changed in a heartbeat. I told him the same quote I had heard earlier in the week. Brought him back to reality too. Then he looked at me and said that, at the very least, I should let him bask in the joys of a good score till he screwed up the next shot.

You know me. I started drawing comparisons to life. I seem to need to find a life lesson in everything I do or see. How often do we experience struggles in life. Hit a bad shot. Have a bad score. Happens often. But we recover. We know we are better. And so we carry on trying to do better. And often we do. But, there are times when it seems that this round of golf called life is just one bad shot after another. We see all the hazards. We see the potential for disaster. We don’t swing freely. We tighten up. We hold back. We lose our confidence. And just like golf, when that happens, we have even more trouble.

Many of the people I deal with are facing just that. They have become spooked. They have lost confidence. They know that there is trouble around every corner. It seems that nothing will ever go right again. I can relate. I have been there. It becomes a struggle. It is debilitating. Even when something good happens we always know it is like the calm before the storm.

There is a second part to this. We must also change our way of thinking about ourselves. Sometimes it is okay to think we are good. It is okay to pat ourselves on the back. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming neurotic. We lose our self-esteem. We feel even worse about our failures.

But I also know that there is hope and there is relief. Just like my golf game, I know that with continued effort, with a pile of resilience, we carry on. I know that tomorrow I may hit a few bad shots but I also know that I will hit some good ones. And when I keep my head down, when I swing with confidence, when I visualize something positive, I will play better. So go ahead. Pat yourself on the back. Swing with confidence. It will work out. This morning I only had one double bogie. Things are improving. Oh no. There I go thinking I am good. Disaster lurks. But I am going to have fun. Make it a good one.