The Recovering Farmer

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sleepless In Manitoba

I know. The title has everyone thinking of that movie Sleepless In Seattle. The one starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It’s a romantic comedy. But that is not what I want to talk about. Because, really, as you know I am not the romantic type. Remember when I admitted almost a year ago that I had bought flowers for our anniversary? The first time in years? Which reminds me. Our anniversary is coming up next month. Got to get ready for that. Think of something special. I will think about that.

Do you find yourself wishing for a good night’s sleep? An uninterrupted sleep? To wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to get at life? Sleepless In Manitoba is a series of workshops being put on by the Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services. An interesting topic, to say the least. More and more research is being done on sleep. Significant and interesting data is coming out of this research. We are getting close to the day when we change our clocks. The good news is that we get an extra hour of sleep. Research has shown that traffic accidents increase significantly the day after we lose an hour of sleep when we go back to daylight savings time. Imagine that. Losing one hour of sleep has such an impact on our daily lives.

Knowing that, take a minute to analyze your sleep patterns. I know for myself it does not take a lot for me to miss out on some sleep. Many of the people I deal with will share with me issues they are experiencing with their sleep. Some people have a difficult time falling asleep because of overwhelming stress in their lives. Others have no problem falling asleep, it is almost like their brain knows that sleep is the only way it gets a break from constant rumination, but will wake up in the wee hours of the morning and not be able to fall asleep because of anxious thoughts. Do you know that insomnia is a symptom of depression and anxiety and a condition that makes it worse? It makes for a vicious circle.

A lot of our sleep issues relate back to stress in our lives. And with the fast paced world we live in stress is becoming more of an issue. Farming is one of the most stressful occupations. Being overwhelmed with stress often lead to poor decision making. Most accidents, and particularly farm accidents, are as a result of in-attentiveness. Not being aware. Why is that? Our minds are far too busy dealing with a myriad of issues in our lives. We need to stop and take stock. Recognize what is going on. And then use the tools available, and they are, to bring back balance to our lives. Bring back a semblance of control.

In my research I have come across some information that I will use more often. Do you realize that your body is directing you to take a nap in the early afternoon? Really. I like that. Far too often I am looking for an excuse for a nap. Even napping ten minutes can restore your physical and emotional wellbeing. A one hour nap is even better.

This is but a taste of information that will be provided at the Sleepless In Manitoba workshops. Dr. Carlyle Smith, a renowned sleep specialist, will share his expertise on sleep deprivation and the practical tools available to help you get a better sleep. I have been asked to be involved in the workshops to talk about the stress and safety. Talk about some of my experiences. I am looking forward to sharing war stories with many of you. That is the way to learn. That is the way to make the rest of your life the best of your life. Visit to find out more about these workshops. Hope to see you there. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Something Good About Soccer

Last week I dropped in to have coffee and a chat with a friend and colleague. We used to have the opportunity to share war stories as our offices were across the hall from each other. Since the move that has not happened as often. It happened that I had a meeting in Brandon so the coffee thing worked out. She informed me that she had checked out my blog that morning but I had not kept to my usual Friday post. I had an excuse. I was on the road Thursday and Friday. She asked what the topic was for the week and was quick to add a suggestion. She felt that I should write something good about soccer. She felt there was so much said about golf that it was time to write about something else. Like soccer.

Personally I took it as a cry for help. You see, she was going to be spending the weekend watching kids play soccer. Soccer is not the most invigorating sport to watch. In case you are telling yourself that I have no expertise on this don’t be so hasty. I watched a soccer game this summer. My daughter’s boyfriend plays the sport. He is what they call the “keeper”. That would be goalie in plain English. So I went and watched a game. Honestly, it was mind numbing. I was thankful that a cousin of mine showed up which gave me an opportunity to visit with someone. At one point I thought they had changed “keepers”. It took a few minutes to realize they had just changed ends.

The argument is made that golf is boring and who would ever want to watch golf. I get it. Amateur golf is not a spectator sport. Nobody ever watches me play golf. I never went to watch the kids play golf. Yes, I do watch golf on TV. And so do many others. I will admit that there are times when I am meandering down a fairway I question what it is I really am doing out there. It appears to be a pointless game. My efforts often times futile. Reminds me of a quote I saw some time ago. “When primitive man screamed and beat the ground with sticks, they called it witchcraft. When modern man does that it’s called golf.” (K, I am sure that applies to women as well)

Back to soccer. Something good about soccer. I was just watching national news. Apparently Canada played Honduras in a soccer match. In Honduras in front of 40,000 fans. Canada lost. 8 to 1. Much adieu about the score. The coach has apologized. Someone suggested this was embarrassing. Embarrassing? Not sure why. You lost. Get over it. 9 goals scored in one game. Must have actually provided some entertainment for the fans. The captain of the women’s Olympic team has been suspended for yelling at the ref during a soccer game. Sure, blame it on the refs. Don’t get me wrong. It would have been great to see the Canadians beat the Americans. But they didn’t.

Okay. I still have not said anything good about soccer. I am working on it. Here goes. I think I know for sure that I might be able to confidently say that soccer fans are passionate. And I will admit that some players are quite talented with their feet. Okay, their heads to. But that is where it ends. At the end of the day I still prefer watching golf. And, I am not in the least bit tempted to play soccer. Here is hoping that the sun comes out for the weekend. My golf course is closing Sunday for the winter. Would like to get in one or two more rounds. Make it a good one.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thanksgiving And All

Although this is only being posted at the end of the week, the Friday after thanksgiving, I am, at least starting to, write this on Thanksgiving day. A day when most people will be getting together and stuffing their faces. Get it? Stuffing their faces. With stuffing none the less. After all, stuffing is something you have with turkey and turkey is what is traditionally eaten at Thanksgiving. What did the turkey eat for thanksgiving? Nothing. It was already stuffed. (groan) And then for dessert some of you poor folk are actually going to eat pumpkin pie. Never quite got that one.

Watching news this weekend I heard that Canadians waste 27 billion dollars’ worth of food annually. 27 billion. Unbelievable. Imagine that. That works out to just under 1,000 dollars per person. Do you know that the amount of food we waste equals Canada’s deficit for last year? If you extrapolate that over the G8 nations you come up with a staggering number. Wonder how many people we could feed with what gets wasted every year.

It is the time of year when one reflects on the good things in life. I know. Far too often it is easier to think about all the things that suck. But, you will notice a significant swing in your mood if you focus on good things. That happens to be a little easier for me this year as we celebrate the arrival of our first grandchild. When the kids brought him for his first visit Sunday I was awestruck with that tiny bundle of new life. So much potential. At the same time I have to wonder what is in store for the little guy. The world we live in changes on a daily basis. Things just are not as simple as they once were.

I am reading a very interesting book. The setting is in the early 1900’s. That would seem archaic to many. Almost pre-historic to others. We are talking a mere 100 years ago. The story happened during the first world war. It has intense, graphic descriptions of what happened during that time. From coal mining to war, aristocracy to working class, and the dynamics of conflict between many European countries. The language of the day, terminology they used makes me chuckle at times. Reiterates the point that the world has changed. People have changed. Technology has changed. Our thinking has changed.

Many of these changes are positive. No question. However, how we adapt to these changes can dictate our future. In spite of these changes many of the dynamics remain. Power struggles. Discrimination of people based on religion, color, sexual orientation, to name but a few. There does not appear to be any less conflict. Many people are struggling. There is often a cry for help that goes unheeded. We have the ability to do so much but far too often we do so little. We take things for granted.

Going through some pictures on my cell phone I came across a picture I obviously took at some point in my travels. I have forgotten where I took this. And that’s understandable as I am a grandfather. A picture of a quote on a poster. It goes like this. “In the end we will preserve only what we love, we will only love what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.” Makes me hope that I taught my kids the right things. Makes me hope that my grandson will be taught the right things. Knowing his parents I feel confident that will happen. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Waiting Game

I recall, many years ago, waiting for our kids to be born. It was stressful. Of course, I suspect, I was quite na├»ve back in the day and had no clue what awaited me. I just knew I was going to be a father. I looked forward to it. I was excited. And it did happen and we were fortunate to have three healthy kids. At the time I found myself feeling quite good about the fact that the three were born so close together. Although it is almost embarrassing to have the new year’s baby 3 out of 4 years. (Actually it wasn’t quite that way. Our third child was a day late for the new year baby distinction and she was born in February. Only in small town Manitoba.) I recall, while leaving the hospital with child number two, the nurse saying to us; “see you next year”.

And while they were young it was great to have these kids crawling, jumping and walking all over the place. Then, in a blink of an eye, they all became teenagers in a very short order. My perspective changed but obviously it was too late to do anything about that. What appeared a relatively easy task initially, quickly turned into a bigger challenge. But, I can honestly say, so far so good. Their growing up years can’t have been too bad as two of them are currently living with us. One even brought a boyfriend and a dog. Perhaps we need to quit cooking with cheese.

I am again in a position of waiting. I have known for a while that I was going to become a grandfather. Wow. That sounds ominous and exciting all at the same time. Ominous because it makes me sound old. Ominous because that means our kids are all grown up. Ominous because, again, there comes a certain amount of responsibility. Although this go around we can spoil the kid rotten. After all, when he becomes too ornery we can send him home. (Yes, it is a boy) Or I can give him to grandma. Wait a minute. When my kids acted up I seemingly always had work to do in the barn. Easy way out, perhaps. And how about those diapers.

This becoming a grandpa has really made me reassess myself. Made me look in the mirror. I know. That is a scary thought. The last year has brought so many changes. Last September we experienced one of our kids getting married. In January we sold our house and bought a house in a new community. In February we moved. And here we are expecting our first grandchild. As much as time flies by I can honestly say that I do not recall any other 12 month period in my life that saw so many positive changes.
To celebrate all of this I went to see a doctor today. I miss the doctor I had back in Wawanesa. This doctor was all business. In seven minutes flat he had given me a complete physical. Yes. Including that dreaded prostate check. The doctor I used to have liked to visit. Chat about farming. Not so much today. Hey, I got a clean bill of health. Really that is all that matters. He informed me that I appeared to be in “reasonably” good shape. What the heck does that mean.

So here is what I am going with. By the end of the weekend I know I will be a grandpa. If it does not happen naturally by then the doctors will help him along. (Seems to be a stubborn little guy, just like his father.) In the meantime I can relish in the fact that I will be a reasonably fit grandpa. “I am going to make the rest of my life the best of my life.” I know that with all the positive changes over the last year I have a good start. Make it a good one.

P.S. After 30 hours of labor Kai James entered this world at 3:30 last night.