The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I want to take just a minute of your time. In essence Christmas started some time ago and will carry on for some time to come. In a typical Mennonite fashion, my Christmas keeps going and going. The family gatherings often start well before Christmas and run into the New Year. Fun,fun. Worse than the every ready bunny. Or is it the energizer bunny? I can’t remember.

I thought the shopping was done. I risked life and limb to drive in Winnipeg during a snowfall to pick up some gifts. Needed three gifts. Same item. One store sold out. Across the city one other store had three left. Refused to put them aside for me. I had to hurry. Enough to lose any Christmas spirit I might have had. I made it. Got the three gifts. Only said a few bad words. Made it home in one piece. A week later I was reminded that we have a grandchild. That is special but required another trip to a shopping mall.

Now that the hustle and bustle of shopping, cleaning the house, preparing food and getting ready is over, let’s eat. For the last few days we have had our kids at home. It has been special. Spent a lot of time with my grandson. I must be getting old. I enjoyed sitting back, grandson on my lap, and watching everyone laugh and have a good time.

It is the time of year to make memories. On that note let me share the following poem with you.

Memories are a special house
We build inside ourselves
Where love and laughter linger,
Where all our past life dwells.
On holidays like Christmas
We can draw upon the store,
Reliving happy times
And feeling all that warmth once more.
Wherever we may travel,
This house is always there
To help to blend the old and new,
To build on . . . grow . . . and share.
This house can never get too full,
Just grow from floor to floor,
Because the joy of memories
Is always making more.

So to all of you from all of me. Merry Christmas. Make it a good one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


We have arrived. The day is here. The sun has reached its low point for the year. From here on in its all downhill. In no time the snow will be gone. If I listen closely I can almost hear the birds. I can almost envision buds on the trees. The smell of new life. Soon we will be golfing. I close my eyes. I can hear my neighbor mowing his grass. Wait a minute. That's his snowblower.

Okay. I know. I seem to have lost it. No, I am not drinking or smoking anything illegal. Actually not drinking or smoking anything legal either. This is what I do. I get excited about the fact that days are getting longer. More about that later. It is December 21.To me this date represents one small step towards the end of winter. I know January cometh. That is a challenge in itself.

Just as I get excited about experiencing more daylight each day, fully aware that it also marks the first day of winter when in fact we have already had winter for months, I have been reminded that that day also marks the end of the Mayan calendar. Some “experts” are suggesting that means a cataclysmic end to the world. At first blush that creates some anxiety. Then I am reminded of the Y2K debacle and my fear dissipates. No sense in worrying about that, I have bigger fish to fry.

Remember the comment I made about days getting longer? Do you ever stop to think what that sounds like? Days get longer? Excuse me. Don’t all days have twenty four hours? So how can days get longer? But if days have twenty four hours how many hours are there in a night. Because nights are part of days, right? If that is the case how can you have days and nights and only 24 hours? And then in spring when we go to day light savings time our days get longer yet? I am reminded of the Native American wisdom that says; “When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said..."Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket."

It’s a matter of semantics. It actually reminds me of the ongoing debate on whether the world was created in 7 twenty-four hour days or whether the reference to days is just to tell the story when in fact the world evolved over a much longer period of time. We receive a monthly publication from a certain church organization that shall remain nameless. It so happens that a recent article contained one person’s opinion on creation. The response in letters to the editor actually had me looking forward to receiving the next issues. It became entertaining, at times humorous. Created a conundrum. Somewhat like my little rant above. I don’t really think it matters. Enough said, before I get into trouble.

The point is that December 21 is a turning point. Somewhat like climbing a mountain. We have reached the top and now are on our way down the other side. To me that provides hope. I suppose if I dislike winter that much I could move to a different climate. But then I would probably be concerned about hurricanes or earthquakes. In some places it might actually be too hot. Perhaps I just need to go with what I got. Go with the quote from A. Cumus; “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer”. What I do know for sure is that in six months the days start getting shorter. Make it a good one.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Golf and Life

I am reading a book, written by a psychiatrist, that draws many comparisons between golf and life. (sorry K) The book is called Golf And The Spirit with the sub-title being Lessons For The Journey. While down in the States, a few months ago, we came across a used book store. Obviously the title caught my eye. Sounded to me like stuff I have written about over the last few years. Perhaps this could give me some new ideas. Perhaps it could validate my own thoughts. Perhaps it could teach me some lessons. Either for golf or for life. So far it has done all of the above. At least to an extent. And no, for the record, I do not read a lot of books other than novels.

I have finished the front nine. I am making the turn. Sorry, that sounds almost Biblical. This simply means I am half way through the book. That only took three months. Each chapter is devoted to a hole on a fantasy course conjured up by the author. What I have found interesting in Dr. Peck’s writing is the references to stuff that I like talking about. Stress, sleep issues, mindfulness, our intellect, our thoughts, and even a touch of spirituality. He seems to be particularly obsessed with paradoxes.

The Encarta dictionary defines paradox as “a statement, proposition, or situation that seems to be absurd or contradictory, but in fact is or may be true”. That sounds interesting. It has taken some effort to get my head wrapped around that. Let me give you some examples. Arnold Palmer once said that “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect”. That sounds contradictory all right. But if you think about it, it is true. I suppose you have to be a golfer to relate to that one. I recall sitting in a client’s house. On the wall was a picture with the following words. “We give our kids two things. Roots and wings.” Again, sounds contradictory. But if you think about it there is a lot of truth in that. By what we teach our kids, by the examples we set, by giving them stability, we are giving them roots. Roots that will define them in later years. By letting go, by showing trust, and through encouragement, we give them wings. We give them freedom because they have roots.

With the Sleepless workshops fast approaching I have been giving thought to the issues of sleep, stress and safety. Dr. Peck talks about our thinking. Of course, he views our thinking as something positive. He obviously does not know about my stinking thinking. But he also states that we must get a good night’s sleep to think clearly. Perhaps that is my problem. He says, and I quote, “As far as researchers can determine, most of the brain activity during sleep (including most dreaming) is devoted to emptying our minds of preoccupations, and concerns so that we can begin the new day with more or less a clean slate”. He ends the chapter by saying that “Without enough sleep, people go crazy.” I am looking forward to learning more about the gift of a good sleep.

There is my book report on the first half. Notice how little I actually said about golf? Perhaps that will come in my next report. For now I am moving on to the back nine. My score on the front was not that great. To many “problems” I recognized and had to think about. But I have a chance to redeem myself. A new beginning. I can still salvage a good score. If I change my ways. Actually just bought another book. Will take a break from the self-help book. I found out I am misdiagnosing myself. Perhaps reading a novel filled with violence will help. Make it a good one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Here Comes The Sun

I would have called this That Time Of Year but that title has been used in the past. Perhaps many of you are familiar with where my feelings are at this time of year. Where my thoughts tend to go. Perhaps many of you share similar experiences, similar thoughts. It is the time of year when temperatures are cold. Snow is on the ground. Trees are bare. Less sunlight each day. Some might argue we have no sunshine. We have had an inordinate amount of cloud. It is gloomy. Me thinks there is a significant shortage of Vitamin D.

Seems George Harrison, of Beatles renown, had similar feelings when he wrote the lyrics to the song Here Comes the Sun. Life was getting to him. It was not as simple as it used to be. He writes in his autobiography that “. . . it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it”. No, I have not read his book. Wikepedia is a great source of information. I simply googled the title of the song. The song came to mind as I reflected on another cloudy day.

What is it about this time of year that brings so much gloom and doom? Sure, we can blame it on the weather. We can ruminate about the lack of sunlight. We can grouch about the winter that has gone on forever but, in essence, has only just begun. So many, myself included, would like to fast forward through the month of December. There are so many expectations for this supposed festive season. The hustle and bustle. Buying gifts. Attending parties. Putting up decorations. Preparing food. Perhaps it is the expectations others have of us. Real or perceived. Perhaps we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We “have” to buy gifts. We “have” to go to that party or that family gathering or that community event or that concert. We “have” to invite so and so over. We “have” to make sure we do something special for the kids. What we would “like” to do becomes secondary. It becomes tiring.

There are the Christmas lights, there is music, at first glance, a festive spirit. Commercials on TV, with a background of nice music (I really like the music in the Walmart commercial), promise something magical. If only we would spend $100 here or a $1000 there. Makes it sound so simple. We put up a tree, we hang lights from the eaves, we play more music, all in the hope of finding that magic. We try to do what it takes.

And yet beneath all of that, behind the facades, in the hearts of many lurks a certain sadness. A darkness that is difficult to define. A sadness that leaves me puzzled and confused. I remember an uncle that would often have tears in his eyes when Christmas carols were sung at family get togethers. I often wondered why. I will never know what brought on those tears. I may never fully understand what brings on my tears. I just know it happens. Perhaps it becomes a time for reflection. Reflecting on Christmas’ past, remembering a loved one, more acutely aware of the pain that many people feel, more aware of our own anxieties. And for many that creates profound sadness and loneliness.

Here is hoping that the sun will shine just a little brighter this Christmas. Hoping that through some simple way we can find magic. The magic of relationships. The magic of love. Hoping that through our friends and loved ones we can experience the peace and hope that Christmas was meant to bring. Here is hoping that together with George Harrison we can sing “here comes the sun”. Make it a good one.