The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

That Was Fun

As is somewhat normal, I think, people like a review of the year that just passed. I can do that. Twas a year. Where to start? Do I bring up all the negatives? Based on the latest self-help book, that would not be a good thing. So I need to focus on the positive. I will try.

Wait a minute. I have no idea what happened a year ago. Seeing it was January, it was probably cold. Actually my first week of the year was not cold. Spent it in Arizona playing golf with friends. That was awesome. Good food, good company, good golf. In reality I could complain about the golf. Or, at least, my scores. However me thinks no one would listen. Why? Because I had fun.

The week following was spent touring Manitoba facilitating workshops on how to sleep better. That was fun. Aside, of course, from the flea bitten motel we stayed in one night. During the day we talked to people about stress management and sleeping better. In the evenings we compared stories and shared a laugh or two. Again, that was fun.

Can’t believe this. I was not sure that anything positive happened this last year. Let me think. I know. The golf season started later than usual. I recall watching out the window. Hoping for the snow to melt. Hoping that the grass would start turning green. You know that saying, Spring is sprung the grass is riz, I wonder where them birdies is. Seemed to take forever. But we did get out there. And actually I got out there quite often. Lots of fun.

Work went well. Was busy most of the time. Seems that when one area slowed down a different one would pick up. Did not have a lot of time to wonder whether I should be concerned. That seems positive. Fun? Perhaps not fun. After all dealing with people in conflict can be challenging. But it is worth it when clients have an ah ha moment. And that did happen. That was fun.

I enjoyed watching my grandson grow and learn in his first year. I enjoyed having our kids close. There were golf games. There were meals enjoyed together. There was laughter. Lots of time enjoying the deck. The sun. That was fun.
There seems to be a general theme here. It would appear that I had fun. Yet I just shared with a good friend yesterday that the year had been more challenging than I cared to remember. But when I think back I had fun. Lots of it.

As humans we have this tendency to think negative. My first title for this piece was Cold, Dark and Lonely. That reflected my feelings. It is the time of year when days are short, temperatures can be frigid, and Christmas brings about a sense of loneliness for many. But when I started reflecting back I began to recognize so many times when life was filled with happiness, peace and comfort. To the point where I went back and changed the title. Sure. Let’s not kid anybody. Bad things happen. Always have, always will. It is how we deal with these situations that define who we are. And when push came to shove I had fun.

Good lesson to be learned here. Focus on the good things in life. Learn from the negatives but embrace the positives. As the saying goes; “good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who wait and the best things come to those who don’t give up.” So here is to 2014. Happy New Years. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

May It Be A Good One

Tis the time of year when the temperatures are cold, days are short, and for some strange reason we are to be jolly, filled with laughter and good cheer. This has been a difficult connection for me to make for most of my life. I recall in my earlier years that Christmas brought with it a certain emotion. I think it was joy. Perhaps happiness. Who knows.

Then something happened. Over time this season began being a dark, lonesome time. Never sure I have ever identified what brought it on. Was it the fact that this time of year brings with it the least amount of sunlight? That is when the sun is actually peeking through the clouds. Or was it because this time of year is the beginning of the coldest part of the winter? Or is it because this time of year brings out the loneliness like no other time?

Here I sit a few days short of Christmas trying to figure out what my emotions really are. I get the dark part. At 11:11 Saturday we hit the winter solstice. That means that Saturday was our shortest day of the year. We are also trapped in a cold spell. As the headline stated, we are colder than the north pole. It is lonely. Why is that? So much hustle and bustle. So much activity. And yet we feel lonely. Strange but true.

Here is wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Whatever your situation may be I am hoping that you find it inside yourself to take a moment and enjoy what this time of year brings. Peace, joy and happiness. May the following poem bring you a sense of what this time of year is all about. Make it a good one.

Put your problems on probation
Run your troubles off the track,
Throw your worries out the window
Get the monkeys off your back.
Silence all your inner critics
With your conscience make amends,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Call a truce with those who bother you
Let all the fighting cease,
Give your differences a breather
And declare a time of peace,
Don't let angry feelings taint
The precious time you have to spend,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Like some cool refreshing water
Or a gentle summer breeze,
Like a fresh bouquet of flowers
Or the smell of autumn leaves,
It's a banquet for the spirit
Filled with family, food and friends,
So allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!
Bob Lazzar-Atwood

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Growing Older

Here is the question. Am I getting older or growing older? Not sure it matters although at my age I have to make sure. One sounds like a negative. “Getting” sounds like it is happening without any specific reason. Look it up. The Encarta dictionary defines it as “to enter or leave a particular state or condition”. So that would mean I am entering a condition. Sounds nasty to me. “Growing” sounds more positive. When we envision growth we envision something positive. At least I do. Perhaps I am only fooling myself, but that’s okay too.

My approaching birthday seemed to create a certain excitement in my wife. She kept mentioning it. I wanted to ignore it. Forget it was happening. She would not allow it. I suppose I am partly to blame. You see, I married an older woman. And, as you can well imagine, I don’t let her forget that. She really isn’t much older but older nonetheless. For 4 months and 1 day I get to give her a rough time about her being older. So she senses a certain relief when I finally catch up to her.

My birthday wishes started rolling in the night before. With modern communication methods there are no secrets. Facebook tells all, and in some cases too much. So with Facebook, emails, text messages and phone messages I have received many well wishes. It is actually heartwarming. Let me clarify. Most of them are heartwarming. Others are snide remarks, well wishes with not so hidden messages about age. However, again, I am probably deserving of those as well.

At 5:30 on the morning of the big day I checked emails. My son had sent me a picture where he had super imposed my face on the picture of a dog. Cute dog actually. It made me laugh. And anyone that knows me knows it is not an easy task to make me laugh that early in the morning. Particularly before I have had my coffee. By now, I suspect, that picture will be posted on Facebook for all to see. The good news is I do have lots of hair in that picture. I actually received birthday wishes from three dogs. Go figure. Even that warmed the cockles of my heart.

I don’t need birthdays to let me know I am getting older. Looking in the mirror is usually the first clue. Between the hair, or lack thereof, not being my original color, wrinkles appearing in far too many places, parts of my body sagging, the aches and pains I have when I get out of bed every morning, and a completely different set of aches and pains when I go to bed at night, watching what I eat and drink for all the right reasons, and needing my beauty sleep (that ship has sailed) are just a few of the clues that I am getting older. Some of my other dilemmas are best left unsaid. Perhaps this answers my first question. Sounds like a condition to me.

But as one well-wisher said, it is better than the alternative. Things could be worse. They sure could be. I am thankful for the people in my life. I am thankful for the life I can live. For the opportunities. Here is a heartfelt thank you to all who wished me a happy birthday. Whether on Facebook, by text message, email or telephone. It was appreciated. For those who forgot, and I am sure you have good reasons, there is always next year. At least I hope there is. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Great Debate

I am in the mood for a debate. Not sure why that is. My wife would suggest that it is my genetics. She thinks that my siblings and I like to goad each other on till a debate breaks out. Then things tend to get somewhat loud. Gives her a headache.

Perhaps it is my line of work. When I mediate I need to keep my opinions to myself. As one mediator once told me I need to keep my feelings on the shelf. All though that was my brother that said that and he is the first to bait someone into a debate. So not sure I can trust his advice.

My wife will even suggest that I start debates at home just so I have something to mediate. Seems to me that would be a good thing. The mediating part, that is. After all mediators are peacemakers, right? Okay. I admit it. Not always.

So what should we debate? Or are you not joining me? Perhaps I will debate with myself. That actually happens a lot. Particularly when I am in the car by myself. Usually not pleasant conversations. Those tend to become noisy as well. And the language leaves something to be desired.

Let’s see. Christmas is coming. I could jump into the age old debate about the need to be politically correct. Wish people a Happy Holiday rather than a Merry Christmas. I wrote about that a few years ago. So that ship has sailed. Been there, bought the t-shirt. Although I must say that there seems to be an increasing sentiment out there that follows my view. A shift from a few years ago. Wish me anything you want, positive of course, and I will accept that good wish and wish you a Merry Christmas.

How about snow tires? Want to talk about them? We have had some interesting debates in our house regarding the use of snow tires. My wife is a strong advocate. Me? Not so much. Although I need to analyze my viewpoint. Is it because I am male and feel I need to prove something? Is it because I feel it is an unnecessary expense and that people should drive based on the conditions and if they do that there will not be a problem? I feel paranoid about stating my opinion too assertively because sure as I am sitting here I will end up paying for my comments. Another “told you so” experience. Those wreak havoc with my pride and self-esteem.

So what else is there? We could debate politics. Enough happening in that arena to talk about for many days, weeks and years to come. I don’t want to go there. I suspect I will run into some of those discussions as we get together with family and friends over the holidays. (I know. I said holidays rather than Christmas.) I am always puzzled why a certain segment (read political leaning) of our population insists on being insulting when they hear political viewpoints other than their own. So, again, I try and stay away from those debates.

What does that leave? Perhaps it is like the radio host said who, by the way, is one of those that like to present their political views by being rude and insulting. “For God’s sake, can we not just be nice for the few short weeks around the Christmas season.” I am going with that and perhaps we can bring ourselves to be that way year round. Isn’t that a novel idea? That would really lend credence to our words around Christmas. The words that are said so often. “Peace and good tidings to all.” Make it a good one.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Feeling Better

We are immersed in a frigid artic air mass. Seems to be frozen in place (pardon the pun). Saw a headline in the paper this morning. “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.” The article referred to the weather for today and the foreseeable future. Last week was snow. In my travels it seemed that based on other drivers we were experiencing the first snowfall of the year. Based on some drivers it seemed that they were driving in snow for the first time in their life. 10 kms per hour on Pembina? In the left hand lane? Really? 60 kms per hour on a highway? Why? Because of a little blowing snow? Really? Come-on folks. This is Manitoba. I know. I need to relax. But it is difficult.

By the way. Did you hear about the six year old boy in Colorado? He was suspended from school because he kissed a girl on the cheek. They are calling it sexual harassment. The school authorities felt he needed to learn a lesson. Really?

Sorry. I got side tracked. A few weeks ago I alluded to my medical appointment I had. During that appointment I asked the doctor about anti-depressants. As I have suggested for a while my mood, my emotions, my mental health had not been where I wanted it to be. We chatted about it. He did not have a definitive opinion. He did suggest that if I had some thoughts on other ways of coping, of healing I should try that first. So I went home and began using many of the tools I talk about often enough. I made an appointment with a friend/colleague/counselor. After that appointment I began using the treadmill on a daily basis. I started journaling. I listen to music. I pulled out my guitar and try to play it on a regular basis. I felt a significant improvement.

So a leading politician wishes viewers a Merry Christmas. In an attempt to be politically correct he includes infidel atheists in his greeting. Really? And then he. . . I better leave that one alone.

Oops. Did it again. On top of all the tools I was utilizing I still felt something missing. One night I found a book my brother had sent me earlier this fall. He thought it might help. A book called “Feeling Good” by David Burns. I thought there would be no harm in, at a minimum, see what it’s about. I often find that self-help books start out okay but then have a tendency to become tedious and far too technical for my simple brain. I was in for a surprise. This book is engaging. It is helpful. And it is interesting. Seems that each chapter is written specifically for me. The main theme of the book is dealing with depression through cognitive behavioral therapy rather than medication. I have read 1/3 of the book and have found numerous tools that have benefited me in many of the areas that I struggle with.

As I often admit, I lose patience very quickly when I travel the highways and byways of Manitoba. Some might call it road rage. Who am I to argue? I become irritated when I see certain news stories. Particularly ones that leave me befuddled with the human spirit, or should I say, the lack there of.

The book I just alluded to has a specific chapter on anger. It refers to your IQ. Not how smart you are. I would fail that one I am sure. It means your Irritability Quotient and refers to the amount of anger you absorb and harbor on a daily basis. It provides a test the reader can do called the Novaco Anger Scale. What I found out about myself is not positive. Something I need to change if I want to move beyond a continuous struggle with my emotional state. The good news is the author provides simple yet effective tools to overcome chronic issues with anger or irritability.

Now all I need to do is practice what I have learned. I have had positive results with some of the author’s other ideas. It should work with anger as well. Get to the point where other drivers don’t bug me. Not worry about the snow and the cold. Not be bothered with some of the idiotic things people do. Understand my triggers. Understand and build on the positive. Hey. The sun is shining. The house is warm. And to think, in a few short days the days start getting longer. Always something to look forward to. Make it a good one.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Catch and Release

It would appear that the mouse population is exploding in Manitoba. Well, perhaps that is an overstatement. What I do hear about frequently is that there is a mouse invasion. Again, perhaps an overstatement. What I actually have heard is that many people are having mouse issues inside their homes.

You have to understand that as much as I may be friendly towards animals, again an overstatement, there are two types of animals that I am not a friend of. That would be snakes, a story for another day, and rodents. Mice, of course, fall into the latter category. I recall when our daughter was in kindergarten. The teacher kept a hamster , a type of rodent, in the classroom for the kid’s entertainment. So far so good. However, each weekend she allowed one of the kids to take the hamster home. Towards the end of the school year it was our daughter’s turn. Her mother warned her that she should not come anywhere near her dad with hamster in hand. Happens that on that fateful Sunday afternoon I was having a nap on the couch. My daughter, not heeding her mother’s warning, came and placed the hamster on my chest. Needless to say chaos ensued. The hamster got some free air miles that day. Literally.

A couple of weeks ago we found indications of mouse activity in our house. When we did some work in our garage we had brought in golf bags, hockey equipment and various other sundry items normally found in garages. It seems that by doing that we brought mice into the house. It took a day or two to get traps put up. One day as my wife was preparing lunch for the family she opened a kitchen drawer and a mouse jumped out at her. All we heard was a blood curdling scream, we looked, and she was firmly sitting on top of the counter, still screaming. A chase ensued. Ever seen a mouse trying to find traction on a hardwood floor? Ever see a group of consenting adults chase a mouse on a hardwood floor? Kind of humorous actually.

My son trapped the mouse in a small pail. As we pondered next steps I heard someone ask the following question.

“Ger, you’re not going to kill that mouse are you?

My answer?

“My oh my. Who me? Kill a mouse? How could this have happened? I think we need to find a reasonable method to dispose of this wonderful four legged creature." (Really that is not what I said but to repeat my words would not be suitable in this forum.)

I conceded. I helped my son contain the mouse in the pail and he took it out to our ditch and released it. However, I did make a quick trip to the store and purchased some traps. I did catch a few more but unfortunately mouse traps do not really allow for a catch and release program. So, perhaps, in some small way I felt vindicated.

Recently I checked for further activity. Seems we took care of the problem. My wife still uses extreme caution when opening drawers. That too shall pass. It does take a while for therapy to kick in. In the mean time I am reminded of the quote which says; “the early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese”. Is there a life lesson in this? I have no idea. I will let you decide. Make it a good one.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Connecting With Others

I have just finished reading a book entitled Escape From Camp 14. It tells the story of a man that was born and raised in a North Korean labor camp. A true story. It’s a story of life in less than deplorable conditions. It’s a story of survival. Survival through starvation, physical and mental abuse. Where nobody, including ones own family, can be trusted. But through the horrors of the camp, and an ultimate escape, is also woven a tale of the human spirit. And the ability of the human spirit to dream and hope even in the darkest hell. A story that is difficult to comprehend living in the luxurious freedom we experience on a daily basis.

Because he was born inside the fence of this most notorious of all North Korean camps, Shin, the main character, has no concept of life beyond the electrified barb wire fence. He has no clue that there even exists a world beyond. A world where people live free of the terrors that he is subjected to. One day he is partnered with a fellow prisoner who has lived on the outside. And as their bond grows Shin begins to hear about and understand that there is a world outside the fence. That friendship changed Shin’s life. Where, before he had been wary and distrustful of everybody, he now allowed himself to trust one person. As the author states in the book; “Shin was no longer a creature of his captors”. In a sense that one relationship, that one connection, provided some freedom for him. He began to think “outside the box”.

This is similar to the “bonds of trust and mutual protection” that existed in Nazi extermination camps. Researchers have found that survival depended on “pairs not the individual”. Eugene Weinstock, an author that has written about these camps, states that “survival. . . could only be a social achievement, not an individual accident”.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. How often, when we struggle with issues in life, do we withdraw. We isolate ourselves. We have a tendency to bottle up these things. Don’t have the freedom to talk about them. We may feel shame. Our pride takes a hit. We lose our self-esteem. We think we are the only ones that are having these experiences. We become captive in our own worlds, unable to see what is beyond the misery we are feeling.

Reiterates a point I often make. “Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process.” Without relationships we have nothing. We remain lost in a sea of resentment, self-pity, and pain.

However, if we build on relationships, when we share with each other, when we talk, we gain the freedom we so desperately strive for. We can think outside the box. We discover a world we know could exist but can’t see because of the box we have put ourselves into. We find new direction. New identity. And a new purpose.

As I have said before, talking works. I know. I have tried it. Three weeks ago I quit fooling myself. I talked to a few people I have shared with in the past. Through those conversations I have been able to make strides in improving my mental health. Nothing happens overnight but over time the quality of life improves. For me the journey continues, with a keener sense of what works and what doesn’t. May you also find positives on your journey. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Did I Say That

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece and called it Let It Snow. My rational was simple. I kept looking at the golf course and seeing green grass. Last week we had a day where the temperature got close to 10. In my mind I was thinking golf. However, the course is closed so that is all I could do. Dream about it. So that glorious afternoon I put Christmas lights on the house. Another story for another day.

Yesterday morning I woke up to a white world. The snow had come. It was actually quite beautiful. For a fleeting moment I enjoyed the winter wonderland. However, before I finished my first cup of coffee I was already commiserating the arrival of winter. I told my wife that winter had come. I had enjoyed the winter but was now ready for spring. Then I thought back to that blog about letting it snow. I thought, did I really say that?

Came across a posting on facebook the other day. It said, “I have reached the age where my brain went from; You probably shouldn’t say that to what the heck, let’s see what happens”. That describes me to a tee. I live on the edge when it comes to communication. Then again, if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much room. But it can and does get me into trouble.

I find myself in that dilemma far too often. I say things and then wish I could take it back. I send emails and then wish I could recall them. I have had training in assertive communication. I have done research on that topic. I have presented on effective communication. But I can’t seem to master the art. Perhaps it is like my hairdresser said the other day. I was explaining stress management techniques to her. Then I admitted that my stress manifested itself in road rage. She called me a hypocrite. I think she was smiling when she said it.

I cannot get away from my inherent passive-aggressive approach to communication. My wife blames it on my genetics. Perhaps it is, but does that give me an excuse? Me thinks not. I need to learn that harsh, angry words will do more harm than good. Think before I speak. Sometimes I wonder if I actually have the ability to do that.

The other piece involved in communication is the issue of understanding. I need to do a much better job of understanding people and what they are saying to me. Listen more, talk less. Ever notice that in the heat of the moment, in a passionate discussion you are preparing yourself for the next thing you want to say while the other party is talking? In my case I often don’t even prepare. I interrupt. I challenge. But never take the time to listen and understand what the other party is saying. I often tell mediation participants that it is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. It is, first and foremost, a matter of understanding what the other person is trying to communicate. And when we have that understanding, and understand the other, we can have a much more effective discussion on the subject at hand.

I keep going back to a favorite quote I have. “Each Person is doing the best they can do at the moment. Regardless how stupidly, inadequately, ineptly, stubbornly, and defensively the other person is behaving. They may be lacking skill or defending themselves.” Next time I get overly passionate about an issue and think the other person is not “getting” it I need to remember that. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Writing About It

Did you know that an Ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain? I didn’t. Interesting fact. I actually know some people like that. Starfish have no brains. I know some people like that too. Okay, just kidding. About knowing people like that. The other things are true. I think.

I have been doing research for a presentation. . The theme of the conference is “from farm to fork to facebook”. The internet has become a major and integral part of life. From medicinal diagnosis to recipes to social media to marketing to interesting but useless facts as shown above. Sounds interesting. Now to figure out what my presentation will look like.

I have made an important discovery this week. Something useful. Something helpful. I have heard about it in the past but never got into it. Although some would argue, and I might concur, that this blog is a big step towards what I am about to share.

In the past I have often talked about “talking about it”. I am a strong believer in having the ability to talk about issues that are affecting your life. Issues, events, situations that are dragging you down. I have a tendency to bottle up these feelings which has an incredible negative impact on my life. It makes me depressed, anxious, morose, and filled with regrets. Perhaps there are issues that I need to make sense of or come to grips with before I talk about them. I have discovered a new tool that works really well.

I am talking about journaling. I have found through research, and now with personal experience, that journaling can be a big help in stress management. A help in getting rid of unwanted thoughts and feelings. As I did my research I came across the following information. “Journaling can be used for stress reduction. It has been proven to improve mental and physical health. It can lead to increased self-esteem.” The information went on to say that “In addition writing in a journal is an effective tool for use in the healing process.” (this information and more can be found at ) There are many other websites that provide good information on how to journal and the effects of journaling.

So I have started. This week I woke up one morning in poor state of mind. I had not slept well. I was facing a long day of driving and meeting with people who I knew would be difficult to deal with. My mind was still going at a brisk rate thinking about things that had been dragging me down for some time now. On top of this I knew that I needed to think about my upcoming presentation. So early that morning, as I was having my first cup of coffee, I pulled out my journal and began writing. Put down on paper all these thoughts that were racing through my mind. As I wrote I felt my brain slowing down. I felt my body begin to relax. It was a surreal experience. And as I drove the highways and byways of Manitoba I found myself being able to concentrate on tasks at hand. Not the normal “stinking thinking” that usually dominate my mind when I spend a lot of time driving.

So write about it. Make it a daily occurrence. I know I will. Now back to my presentation. Did you know that you burn 150 calories an hour banging your head against the wall? I must be losing weight. I suspect there are better weight loss programs out there. Now I am curious who does the research for these interesting, but useless facts. Perhaps I won’t go there. Do something a little more productive. Make it a good one.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Will Live

I sent my wife an email this week suggesting that I would live. You see, I just finished my follow-up appointment with the doctor. The one I had mentioned previously. Seems I was rather concerned about it. As I sat and waited in the waiting room, funny they should call it that. Think about it. Waiting room? That is what I did. I waited. Although I will be the first to admit that the wait was not very long. I have endured much worse. As I waited I was convinced that my life would be irrevocably changed. It would be a matter of making final arrangements. I just knew that my life was catching up to me. Mind you, my life catching up to me? Should not be difficult. I have slowed down some.

When I sent my wife that note I was excited. I had a reprieve. Life was going to carry on. Although I will admit there was one little blip. My lungs. Happens they are too large. Should help in a marathon, or relay, me thinks. The doctor tells me different. Blames it on smoking. Okay. I admit it. I have enjoyed an occasional smoke in my life. Still wish it wasn’t unhealthy. There is something to be said about that. The feeling of that first drag in the morning. Right after some coffee. Wow. Feels good. Wait a minute. NO. Should not go there. I tried to suggest to the doctor it was because of being a farmer. He was not convinced.

So her question? How long???? I sensed some disappointment in that question. Obviously because I can sense emotions, even in a text message or email. That is part of my job. Being able to read people. See what they are thinking. That in itself is a scary thought.

My response to her was that it appeared I had an opportunity to live as long as I wanted to. Again, her response was, shall we say, different than I had expected. She suggested it was a good thing that it was up to me. Oh oh. Seems we have a problem. Do I need to sleep with one eye open?

Seriously, I found it interesting how this appointment seemed to bother me. Unconsciously. Not that I thought about it a lot. But it was there. Beneath the surface. The night before the appointment I seemed to be more uptight, more emotional than usual. That morning I had difficulty eating my breakfast. And, as happens far to often my worrying was for naught. What a profound sense of relief when I left the clinic.

Strange how events or things affect us differently. As I think back to that experience I realize this is a regular occurrence in my life. Find myself uptight. Think about it. Recognize why. And then have a melt down. No. Just kidding. I come to the realization that the day, the meeting, the appointment, the moment, may be difficult. That is when I need to utilize my coping skills. Like I told the doctor. I understand and “GET” what is going on. It becomes a matter of coping. Dealing with it.

The first option is always medication. Use this pill. How about that one. Those side effects will do this. The other ones will do that. Who knows? You have to try before you can be sure. Sounds scary. There must be other ways.

There is hope. The doctor tells me that for my lung issue and my mental health concerns I need regular exercise. OK. I can do that. Just put my mind to it. Here goes for a healthier life style. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Let It Snow

Got an email from my nephew today saying that the golf course is closing on October 23. Good to know. Last night we went on a bike ride. Meandered through the course. It was warm. No wind. I lamented about not being out there golfing. When I got the text I checked the forecast. Single digit temperatures. Chance of snow Sunday. Does not look promising. The realization has hit. Golfing season, for all intents and purposes, is over.

So if golfing is not part of the equation it might as well snow. Otherwise, just like this afternoon, I look out the window and wonder what if. What if I had gone out? I still have a chance. Plus 2, slight, make that significant, breeze from the north. No problem. Yeah right. Big problem.

In spring this kind of day could well get me out there. In fall, not so much. I need to move on. Someone suggested to me that I should find an activity for winter. Options are limited. I could try hockey but am miserably out of shape and know if I fall I may never get up again and if I do I will have pain for the rest of my life. I could try curling. I won two trophies thirty years ago. Quit at the top. Know for a fact there is no higher goal I could achieve. Still working on my delivery. It was pathetic back then. Nothing has changed. Not sure anyone would have me.

I started writing this early in the week. Here it is Tuesday and guess what. The ground is white. Do I have the right to change my mind? I don’t think I want snow. However, when I look out the window towards the golf course I can honestly say I am not tempted to go out and hit a few balls.
So we begin another Manitoba winter. Will it be a three month ordeal? Or will it be six months? Will we have lots of snow? Will the temperatures be above normal or below? Nobody knows. Predictions are being made. We shall see.

Really the answers to the above questions do not matter. We do this every year. We wait and we wonder. And year in and year out we survive. Each year we bitch and complain about this horrible place we live in. And each year we wait with baited breath for spring. And when spring arrives we have an ah-ha moment. We realize why we live here. Why we are resilient enough to survive another one.

Quite frankly when I saw the snow at the beginning of the week I quickly lost interest in another fight with winter. I started to regret that I had not taken advantage of the warmer weather in September. I felt remorse at not having golfed more than I did. I felt my anxiety building. As I sat in my office, preparing a presentation, I came across a quote as follows. “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” That gave me an ah-ha moment. I need to work on living in the present. Perhaps take care of some of my anxiety, some dark moments, regrets and all the other negative thoughts that are so quick to arise. Enjoy the moment. That is all we have. The moment. Make it a good one.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Take A Minute

I often talk about the fast paced world we live in. The need to pause. To take a moment. We become so immersed in our lives that when we actually take a moment we are stumped. We don’t know how to deal with that. Part of this busyness also has the potential to manifest itself in how we treat others. What runs through your mind when someone cuts you off in traffic, when someone bumps your ankles with a shopping cart, when someone seems to have all day at the gas pumps, when someone refuses to dim their lights for you, or you find out they did but have these bright fog lamps on AND ITS NOT FOGGY. Whoops. I guess I began answering my own question.

Just this last weekend we were buying some groceries. We got to the checkout line and found it to be rather busy. So the natural human response is to do an assessment. Which line is shortest? Which cashier appears most competent? Which customer is the patient, let’s make sure of all prices, and which items do I have coupons for, and “wait a minute, I forgot the asparagus”. I can tell you that I always pick the wrong one. And within a nanosecond I am frustrated. Some might suggest I am that way before I get to the store. If so it is because traffic seems to be the same way. Do people not realize I have places to go and things to do?

Wait a minute. It’s the weekend. What is my rush? It just seems to be inherent for me to rush. Get where I am going. Hurry up and wait. Many blogs ago I suggested that you should take a minute to chat with the person bagging your groceries. (I did that the other day and found out I was talking to myself. I will leave that for another day.) Talk to the person filling your gas tank. You will be pleasantly surprised at the response you get. Although, I will warn you, there are times when the response you get just makes you want to give up because you end up listening to someone’s sob story which surely cannot be as bad as yours. But it may be and you may have just given someone the wherewithal to share their problems. It is all in perspective, right?

I did finally go for my physical for my class 1 license. I had decided not to till I heard one person say that as long as you can drive truck you will never starve. Obviously I seemed to be unsure of my future employment so did get the physical done. As I chatted with the doctor, told him all my ailments, he finally said that he would give me the full meal deal. That sounded ominous. I thought the rubber glove snapping into place would be the . . . . I will leave it at that.

I ended up in a room with a “nurse” who did not appear to be happy. As I sat waiting more people came in and the more people that came in the more agitated she became. I dreaded what I was about to experience. You really do not want someone in a foul mood to be putting electrodes on your body, particularly if you have any hair.

I survived. In fact, what was interesting is that when she applied the electrodes she appeared, shall we say, enthused with her job. By the time we were done she was quite apologetic as she removed the electrodes. Why? I made an effort to chat with her. For the most part a benign conversation. Nonetheless, I had her chuckling about things that I was muttering about going through a somewhat humiliating experience. We shared a story. We shared a laugh.

It helped me remove my thoughts from tests that would surely confirm that I was dying. It helped her get through a day that was busy. A day filled with countless electrodes on countless white flaccid bodies that look even worse than mine. For the moment we could share a chuckle, a chuckle that helped both of us make it through the day.

As I left the doctor’s office that day I heard the nurse, in the background, thank me and wish me a good day. She had not done that for other patients. It gave me a warm, comfortable feeling. In my nervous chatting with her I had helped her cope. In her response to me she helped me cope. Made for a better day for both of us. The only problem? I need to make a follow-up appointment to find out the results of all my tests. Find out how much time I have left. I will keep you posted. Make it a good one.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again

Many years ago, almost too many to count, I was involved with the hog industry. As chairman (chairperson if you will) we were in significant negotiations with the government to preserve the single desk selling system. For the sake of space and time I will not delve into a description of what single desk selling is. Although there are many who still maintain that that was the beginning of the end for the industry. I am not involved in the industry anymore so why go there.

Actually, perhaps, I still am involved. I have reoccurring dreams about my farm. I dream that the feed has run out and no one took note and did something about it. I dream that the bank is hounding me for money and so I ship pigs that are not heavy enough to garner premiums. I dream that the feed company is delivering feed and they need money from me before they can unload. So they have to call my mother. I dream that I come in the barn and pigs have escaped their pens and are running loose and wreaking havoc. I dream that the person emptying my manure storage has pumped it on neighboring yards and has created floods in their homes. With hog manure.

Jeez, I think I need therapy. The good news is, I suppose, that earlier this year when I was traveling with a sleep expert he informed me that if I can remember dreams I am not depressed. Really? These dreams make me depressed. Like I said. I need therapy.

Getting back to the single desk selling debacle. At the time a news reporter wrote an article and proclaimed, as only he could, that no one could ever put Humpty Dumpty together again. Many took exception to that. Producers were losing something that the majority felt would jeopardize the industry. Perhaps it did. I am not about to discuss that. Remember? I am not involved in the industry. Except when I sleep. Maybe that doesn’t count.

All of us experience life changes. Changes we had not expected. Changes we fight to accept. Changes that, quite literally, change us. I deal with farmers whose dreams have been shattered. I deal with accident victims whose lives have been irrevocably changed. I deal with people whose relationships are deteriorating. People face health challenges that are life changing. None of these events foreseen. None that were asked for.

During and after these crises people wonder how they can ever achieve normalcy in their lives again. Famers wonder whether there is life after farming. Victims of accidents just want to get back to how they were. People with health issues just want a cure. Want to get better. Get back to the health they had before. Many struggle to make relationships better. With spouses, partners, kids. We want to put Humpty Dumpty together again. That was our life. That felt good. That was normal.

But things change and so do we. So many life changing events are completely out of our control. How we deal with them becomes the challenge. Quite often the first step is to understand that we will never put Humpty Dumpty together again. Perhaps the pieces are too small. Perhaps there are some missing. Perhaps we would be better off not trying. Work on building something new. Something better. I know it can work. I have been there. There is hope. There is relief. I know I will never put Humpty Dumpty together again. And based on my dreams I don’t think I want to. Work on something new. Perhaps not an egg this go around. They seem somewhat fragile. Building something better. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Take The Time

When I look around and see many of the things happening in the world I often wonder, what do we really understand. From the chemical warfare in Syria to the government shut down in the US. It is so easy to sit back and throw judgement. But do we really know what we are judging? I know I don’t. Media seems to control what we see and what we hear. Not sure I have seen any media that actually reports an unbiased opinion.

And, quite frankly, I am not convinced that I am unbiased. My thoughts, feelings and beliefs are formed by a certain belief factor. They are shaped by things I hear. By things I see or watch. They are controlled by certain emotions that become involved when I read things. So to suggest I am open minded would probably be somewhat overstated. Although I do try, particularly in my work as a mediator.

It is difficult and sometimes impossible to understand the emotions we experience on a daily basis. We react to circumstances and often times wonder where that came from. We would like to think we live in a normal world but know that is not the case. At least if we understand what normal is. And perhaps we don’t. What really is normal aside from a setting on a dryer.
Modern technology is doing its part in making us confused. We live with the assumption that all this technology is beneficial. We need computers. We need cell phones. We should be part of Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. We feel the need to be in tune with the world around us. Last night we stopped at Superstore to pick up some supplies. My job is to patiently push the cart and ensure that I stop and wait whenever necessary. I like to observe people. I was astonished at how many people were doing there shopping while chatting on their phones. Take a look around you next time you are in a restaurant. So many people are ignoring the world around them, ignoring family and friends, forgetting about effective communication. Forgetting about relationships.

We get caught up. We become immersed. When do we take the time to sit back and enjoy life? We upgrade our satellite TV. We follow all there is to follow on our computers. We download apps. We scamper hither and yon to keep up. We become anxious. We become frustrated. We want more. We need more.

Stop. Think about this. What are we really accomplishing? What are we doing for ourselves? For our families? Are we taking the time we should? I heard someone suggest today that we should be “resetting” ourselves as often as we reset our technology. We should be “downloading” “new apps” for ourselves as often as we download apps for our phones or computers. That means we need to take time to fill our emotional gas tanks. We need to work on our relationships. We need to utilize mindfulness as we deal with our day to day challenges. How else do we really expect to survive. To flourish. And to succeed. Take this thought with you. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” And to be truly happy we need to learn to let go, to take time, and to enjoy life. Make it a good one.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Git R Done

Okay. I admit it. I stole that. Actually when you think of it, did I? Steal it that is. Stealing is when you take something from someone in a sneaking way hoping no one will find out. Right? Shoplifting would fit in that category. Robbing a bank, on the other hand, is not really being sneaky. You just hope you don’t get caught. Not sure why I am actually talking about this.

Getting back to the title. Over the last week I have taped, oops, excuse me, recorded some comedy shows. Larry the Cable Guy is one of the comedians. Of course he is all about “Git R Done”. I enjoy his sense of humour. Throw in a little Jeff Foxworthy and you have a real show. The other two guys are not quite so funny so I can’t even remember their names. Don’t need too.

Do you know that kids will laugh up to 400 times a day? That is awesome. As adults that very often becomes a dismal 12 times a day. No wonder we have mental health issues. We need to laugh more. We had our grandson at our house this weekend. What a change of pace that is. Not only that. He laughs. He laughs at a lot. Made me envious. I got a real kick out of making him laugh. And when he laughed? Guess what? I had to laugh. Over the most mindless things I was splitting a gut. Wish I could do that more often.

My wife and I did a home renovation project last week. We insulated and drywalled our garage. Let me assure you that my physical stamina is not what it used to be. I am also somewhat chagrined to admit that she seemed to hold up better than me. It was tough work. What I did not realize is that when I was watching my comedy shows the week before she obviously took note of what I was watching. When I would lag, run out of breath, not sure I could carry on, she would pipe up with, “let’s get r done”. It worked. We got it done. Will pay for that for some time to come. Actually, I notice her hurting just a bit too.

Humour is a real stress reliever. There is a reason that the Readers Digest has a regular feature called “Humour, the best medicine”. The Readers Digest would not lie, would they? Truth be known, and you can google this if you like, laughing releases certain hormones in the brain. In fact it benefits us in building up our immune system, decrease pain to mention just a few. It also helps in decreasing and coping with stress. Let me leave you with a quote from Helpguide. “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.” That pretty much says it all. Now find something to make you laugh. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Out of the Closet

Okay. Here goes. Hang on to your hats. I am about to make an admission. This comes during an afternoon of trying REALLY hard to throw a birthday party for my dear wife. Not a big event. There will be approximately eight of us. Wow. What a lot of work. Just deciding on what kind of pizza I wanted was tough. Who knew? You now have three choices. Simple question. What is normal. I suppose I don’t do this enough.

Back to my admission. Midafternoon. I am weary. This birthday party thing is hard. One of the kids suggested an ice cream cake from DQ. Hey. I like that idea. Went to pick it up after I had ordered three pizzas with a normal, make that regular crust. Now the pressure is on. I will buy the cake, pick up the pizza, buy some beer or wine, and make it home before the cake melts. Tough job. But someone has to do it. Made it. Now to sit and wait. Probably did not order the right kind of pizza. I don’t care. I am hungry.

As I sit and wait I do the usual. Grab my laptop, check headlines. See if someone tried to contact me with skype, and then may play some solitaire. Solitaire is an interesting game. Totally mindless. Helps pass the time. Here is a warning. If you need to pass time by playing solitaire you need therapy. I know. I do.

I check the Winnipeg Sun. The usual gobbledegook about the Bombers. Isn’t that a gong show. Some other stories that involve either sex or violence. Big cocaine bust in Head. . . . Will you look at this. OMG. (sorry, this may become ugly) There is a report on a wrestler who has admitted to being gay. Can you imagine? Gay. God forbid.

Are you serious? In 2013 there are news headlines about someone being gay? Why? It makes no difference to me what side of the fence you may be on. It matters not to me what you may believe. I just cannot quite grasp the fact that being gay is noteworthy. I wish I had the space to tell you a story or two. I probably do. After all there is no limit to my space. Rather I will tell you someday when you may meet me. My stories make for good conversation pieces. (my wife may not agree)

Okay. Here is an admission. I am coming out of the closet. I am not gay. I am waiting? Did that make the headlines? No? What a relief. Not sure I want anybody to know.

It would seem to me that in this world of violence, homelessness, riots, war, child poverty, and many other deplorable and horrible crimes against humanity we would not become consumed by someone’s sexual preference. I find that incredibly sad.

Someone, who may or may not want to be acknowledged, sent me some information the other day. Him being a wise, biblical scholar type, must surely be telling the truth. He informed me that being gay and smoking pot is quite biblical. Apparently it says in Leviticus, a book in the Old Testament, that when a man lays with another man he should be stoned. That is what I am going with. I may be in the market. For pot, that is. Make it a good one.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Many years ago, almost too many to remember, I delivered a watermelon to a certain house near Morris, Manitoba. Not sure where I got the idea from but did it nonetheless. You see, I had a very important question to ask the people in that house. A question that took weeks to compose, to rehearse, and to make sure I had right. Funny how when I got to the door I completely forgot my lines. It was nerve racking. You see, I was paying a visit to my girlfriend’s parents. I wanted their blessing in asking her the big question. Not sure what role the watermelon played in all of this.

Whatever the case I started a tradition. My wife has three sisters who got married after us. Each one of their husbands brought a melon when they arrived to ask the question. Really that was not quite fair. You see, when they showed up on the yard bearing a watermelon, the secret was out. The parents knew what was about to happen. Took a lot of the tension out of the air. There was a certain amount of time for preparation. Not so for me. I walked up to the door with a watermelon. They must have thought I lost my mind. To this day my father-in-law has flashbacks when he sees watermelons. Not sure the therapy worked. Perhaps it has something to do with who I actually turned out to be.

Seems that my kids were quite familiar with the story. We have only one daughter but suffice it to say her boyfriend has been told time and time again that should he want to marry my daughter there would need to be a watermelon involved.

He called me two weeks ago. The two of them had gone to the east coast to visit his family. He caught me during a break in my meeting. He asked the question. I said I didn’t have time to talk plus I didn’t see a watermelon anywhere. Hung up on him. Guess what. Last night he went shopping. Not just a watermelon. He brought me a watermelon, a cantaloupe and a muskmelon. So it is official. They are getting married. Oh, and just so you know, I did call him back later that day I hung up on him.

Last night I asked my daughter-in-law why she had never given me a watermelon. Her answer was that she had not asked for our blessing to marry our son. Got me thinking. Perhaps that needs to change. I mean with the whole idea of feminism and equality. I suggested it wasn`t too late. She could still do it. I won`t hold my breath.

This getting old has some interesting moments. Moments that provide memories for a life time. Two years ago I got a daughter-in-law, almost one year ago I got a grandson and now I am getting a son-in-law. I feel truly blessed when I look at our kids and see how they have developed and continue to develop. To see how our family is being added to. Sometimes when I feel a dark cloud hovering over me I need to remind myself of the positives in my life. And I can truly say that my family provides that positive energy. Watermelons or not. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Two Things To Avoid

Over the years I have tried to stay away from certain subjects. Politics and religion. God knows I have lots of opinions on those subjects. Why do I avoid these topics? I am not quite sure. Perhaps because they stir up certain emotions that are completely unnecessary. Perhaps I am trying to avoid conflict. My wife would probably question that statement. Perhaps it is because I have certain opinions but also realize that for every opinion I have there are people with opinions on the other side of the issue. And, I know, I need to respect those opinions. There is the mediator coming out in me.

I wrote that as I was thinking about my next blog. Then when I went to continue that train of thought I had no idea why I wrote what I did. That is the beauty of a bad memory. Perhaps beauty, perhaps not. I think I had a really good thing going. Now it’s gone.

As I sit here on a Thursday afternoon, contemplating the long weekend, looking forward to spending time with friends, I search out headlines. See if something newsworthy has happened. Politically? Justin Trudeau has admitted to smoking pot. Harper has accused him of promoting pot for children. Most, if not all, politicians are running from media because media is asking them whether they inhaled. In mediation terms that is clearly avoidance. Give me a break. I have glaucoma. Apparently pot is good for glaucoma. I may not have a choice. But god forbid should you ask whether I ever tried it. Not sure where that discussion would go.

I rode along with someone this week who I would suggest, and he might argue, is a staunch right winger. That is fine. We all have our thoughts, beliefs, and hopes. Although using the word hopes when talking about politics may be my first mistake. Political discussions always seem to be centered around he said, she said. Or they did this so we can do that. There does not appear to be any honesty in politics at all.

How about religion? Is there any honesty there? I have heard a rather personal story this week which would make me question religion, honesty, and fundamentalism. Trust me. I will not “unpack” that one for you. Perhaps another day.

It is difficult to avoid these subjects. People become so immersed in them it begins to mold and shape their lives. Then we run into problems. We can make anything look like we want it too. Someone showed me the following quote some time ago. I like it. There is so much truth. “A dangerous book the Bible is. It can be made to say anything, its meaning in the eye of the beholder “ . Me thinks that says it all.

Does that mean I disagree or agree with certain political or religious sentiments? Not at all. Do I think and believe that all of us have various and uniq1ue interpretations of what we hear in church, what we read in the Bible, what we read in the papers, hear on T.V.,and what some people might be pushing down our throats? Absolutely. So where to from here? My father always said separate church from the state. That means I should not have included both subjects. SORRY. Will try harder next time. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Dodo Bird

How many of you have heard of the Dodo bird? Probably a few of you. If for no other reason than because there is the infamous saying “gone like the Dodo bird”. I looked it up. It appears that the Dodo bird was a flightless bird found somewhere on the island of Mauritus, which is located somewhere on the Indian Ocean. Does that help? Me thinks not.

Why am I asking? Quite simple. I was watching golf today and a commentator made a comment about the “anchored” putter going the way of the Dodo bird. That statement brings up a bunch of questions. Why was I watching rather than enjoying a game myself? After all it was the club championships at my course this weekend. Something I look forward to on an annual basis.

It is simple. I had eye surgery on Friday. When I suggested to the nurses and the attending doctor that I wanted to golf the following morning the response was, perhaps I won’t go there. Obviously not something I should be planning on. Here I sit two days after the surgery and wonder what was accomplished. It was painful. The doctor said it had worked really well. And yet I can’t see much out of that eye. Perhaps things will improve. Here is hoping.

The surgery, as I have been told, was less invasive than cataract surgery. Okay. But it still hurt. See, what happened is that the lens that was implanted in my eye six years ago had become loose and was causing my vision to go wonky. So he needed to reposition it. No problem. He explained the day after the surgery what he had done. It was a simple matter of poking two holes in the eye, tunneling from one hole to the next, inserting the suture and tying the lens to my eye, I think. That simple. No problem.

Back to the Dodo bird. So the anchored putter is headed into the annals of history. All the governing bodies have decided that enough is enough. The anchored putter is an insult to the game. How dare we. Took them long enough to decide that. There are some players that have used these putters for well over ten years. Now they are making them illegal to be used. Interestingly enough we have till 2016 to adapt to this rule. Sounds like the golf organizations move just as slow as most governments.

Two years ago I wrote about getting one of those putters. It has worked really well for me. I am told that amateurs will still be able to use them after 2016. And, trust me, I am an amateur. But I suspect the folks I golf with won’t let me live that down. So after finally finding something that works for my “yips” I will have to make some changes. This could be rather difficult.
I mentioned yips. Let me explain. When I use a putter that is not anchored there is all kinds of movement every which way when I make my stroke. Those are called “the yips”. I suppose some might suggest I have bigger yips to deal with in life. And perhaps I do. Hopefully I can send those the way of the Dodo bird as well. For now it is my eye. Need to get it functional. Then move on to others.

P.S. Heard a good one today. “If you can’t stand up for something you will fall for anything”. I will work on that one. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Is Happening

How do I answer that? I have no idea. It has been tough slugging for me. Feels like each day I am walking through mud, knee deep. Not the way it should be. I know better. I have the tools. Writing my weekly blog used to be relatively easy. Not now. I have a start to three different ones. May be controversial. Perhaps interesting. Am leaving those for another day. Let me give you a quick update as to where I am at.

Have you ever tried the breathing exercise that I have demonstrated in various workshops? You know the one that helps with mindfulness? I did. Last night about 2:00 am. Didn’t work. I tried to find my happy place. It is gone. I played a golf course in my mind. Did not work. This is hopeless.

I find it ironical that the guru of stress management is at wit’s end. That is not supposed to happen. I suppose that means I am human. Although I have never heard anyone dispute that, I would like to think different.

I am human. And just like everyone else I run into certain challenges that seem to be overwhelming. The last few months have been a real challenge. No, I don’t have cancer. (not that I know of but have been worried about since I was a child), I have work (although it is silly season, the time of year when many people are on holidays and it is tough to set up a meeting), the kids are doing okay (there is a certain phone call that I can’t talk about but sounds good), I have a wonderful, good looking grandson (he really is), and so many other things I can be and am thankful for.

So what’s the problem? I don’t know. As I sit and write this the door bell wrings. At the door is the neighbor’s daughter with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. How neat is that? I give Rose a look, emotions overwhelm, and all I can do is be thankful for what we have. It truly is awesome.
I am scheduled for eye surgery on Friday. You probably recall me talking about certain issues I have had. Some time ago I wrote that a simple laser procedure was all it would take to fix the problem. Found out that was not the case. Turns out I need a surgery. That is happening, rather quickly, this Friday.

Sounds minor. Hope it is. My wife just reminded me that once the surgery is done that some of my anxiety would dissipate. I hope she is right. I need new direction in my life. Perhaps if my vision is corrected I can get that. Make it a good one.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turning Back The Clock

How often do you look back in time and wish you had done things differently? I know I do. I second guess decisions I made, particularly as it concerns my stint at farming. There is a reason I call myself a recovering farmer. There are a host of regrets we have. However, you seldom hear of someone that regrets something positive in their life.

In a recent conversation I made the comment that if I had done things differently on the farm the results would have been better. (Although being a hog farmer my chances were slim based on the industry over the last years) The person I was chatting with made the comment that if I had done things differently it might have turned out even worse. That made me think.

I just finished reading a book. All 900 pages. A book by Stephen King. Not an author I particularly like. However I had been told that the book 11/22/63 was interesting. It was. Only about 450 pages too long. If you plan on reading it don’t read the rest of this paragraph. Might give away the plot and that would make it even longer. In the story a person travels back in time, from 2011 to 1963, to stop the assassination of JFK. Because he knows the details of what happened on that fateful day in 1963 he has the ability to stop it. He accomplishes the task, comes back to 2011, only to find that he has changed the course of history and the world is much worse off.

An interesting turn of events, to say the least. It hammered home the point I made previously. Perhaps if we were to turn back the clock things might turn out worse. Kind of defeats the purpose of having regrets. A paradigm shift, to say the least.

That then simply means we need to live with what we have. We live in an imperfect world. Crap happens. How we deal with that becomes the issue. Read a quote on Facebook this week which said “when something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you”. Somewhat of a stark reality. When I look at those three options it would seem that the third one would be most conducive to a brighter future. When something bad happens let it strengthen you.

I have written in the past about different people I have met over the years. The gentleman that was in a horrific accident. The fellow who lost his eyesight. My friend who had cancer surgery. Kids that have experienced shattered dreams. All of them have shown incredible strength. Sure, in their darkest hours or days, they lament the negative events in their lives. We all do. However, in general, they have shown resilience that I can only learn from.

Another book that I have read more than once highlights the lives of numerous people who have had life changing events happen to them. The author, in the preface, makes an interesting point. “Without that which hurt them, derailed them, almost destroyed them, they might never have undergone the forced emotional evolution that gave birth to their new, stronger self.”

Someone once told me that had I not experienced what I did I would not be who I am today. Here is hoping that that was a positive statement. That may be true. But am I who I want to be? One of the people I mentioned above told me that he was getting tired of being an inspiration to others. Sometimes I feel that way. I just want to be normal. Then again, maybe, just maybe, I am. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Lessons

I have been watching the British Open. Oops. Pardon me. It is The Open. Things change. It still is the same tournament held every year over in Great Britain. Completely different golf courses than we are used too. Called links golf. It has been rather interesting. Players appear to be befuddled. The course is playing difficult.

For those of you who don’t know, links golf courses differ from most of the courses in North America. They are basically situated on wide open fields. No trees. Lots of bunkers. Difficult to distinguish where fairways end and greens begin. Can play difficult because balls have the tendency to roll. Go to places that no one wants to experience.

During play on the second day I found myself chuckling, noticing the reactions of players when their plan did not work out. Who am I to chuckle? I found myself in the same debacle last night. Nothing seemed to work out. Good thing there was not a lot of money riding on my game.
As I watched this afternoon I found myself comparing life to what I was witnessing on TV. Players were getting very frustrated. The commentator made the comment that players needed to be patient. Just like in real life. Often times we face un-certain circumstances. I know I do. Then we get impatient. We want the misery to end. We make decisions that are not always in our interests. We need to practice patience. One step at a time.

I saw players congratulate each other when a shot was made, a putt sunk. Not because it was spectacular. Rather because the course was playing so difficult that when a player did make a shot others were happy for them. We should do that more in our lives. Why is our natural response to withdraw? Why do we actually, at least sometimes, feel happy when others fail? To make us look better? We should be more supportive of others. It sure feels good when we have a support system cheering us on. The key is that very seldom are we on our own.

I saw some players lift their hands in defeat. Asking, what can we do? They were ready to give in. The course was throwing all kinds of surprises at them. They had a difficult time figuring it out. They were getting tired. It was debilitating for them. Again, just like life. We try so hard. We try to adjust to the environment we are in. We change our ways. Far too often, all for naught. We throw up our hands. We ask why.

This morning as I was watching the final round the leader, and I kind of hope he wins, made what the commentator claimed was a horrific error. Perhaps that was overstating it just a bit. However he also suggested that after a shot like that there was a rush of blood to the face. Hey, I can relate. I remember that. Certain phone calls, especially from creditors, certain events, certain decisions. All can send us reeling. How we respond to those situations becomes integral.

What is my point to all of this? I have no idea. I enjoy watching golf. Challenging tournaments like The Open add to the excitement. Perhaps I like watching multi-zillionaires like Tiger fail. Whatever the case there are life lessons to be learned from most anything and everything we do. It is a matter of taking the time to think. To relate. And to learn. Just as an after thought, a lefty won. I think all left handers are cheering today. I know at least two who are. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What’s In The News

Have you watched news lately? What is with all the tragedies happening, not only around the world, but also relatively close to home? In answer to the question, no, I don’t watch a lot of news. I used to. Every morning. Half an hour of Canadian news and half an hour of American news. I suppose I got to the point where I felt “over exposure “ to news. I talk about “over exposure” in my stress management workshops. I have experienced it. I have heard from others who have experienced it. I mentioned some time ago that my son had linked me in to a news website that only reported good news stories. That helped. At least temporarily. Then I realized I couldn’t relate anyway and so I have quit reading those stories as well.

What about the massive train derailment in Quebec? Unbelievable. The first thing that came to mind is the movie Unstoppable. The story of a train that, through human error, goes barreling down the track putting lives at risk. We have all heard the saying, “stranger than fiction”. Now we are witnessing it. Through “alleged” human error a train loaded with crude oil derails in a small community in Quebec. Created a holocaust type event. Looked like a war zone. Many people still missing. Incredibly sad.

There is the plane crash in San Francisco. Just read another article on that one. The NTSB is still trying to figure out what went wrong. It would appear, based on initial reports, that it is human error. The amazing part of this story is that there were only two people that died. Have you seen the pictures? Now it turns out that one of the girls that died actually escaped the crash only to be run over by a fire truck. Come on. Really?

Then we have the story of the running of the bulls in Spain. Latest report, only three people gored. As if we don’t have enough problems already it would appear that we are looking for ways to get hurt, perhaps even to die.

This morning I perused the headlines again. More tragedy. More sadness. It does not help when one already has serious questions about life. About our very existence. It gets to the point where even finding a happy place becomes difficult.

Last week I went on a radio show and talked about stress management and conflict resolution. At times I feel like such a hypocrite. Let me tell you why. As you know by now we live on a golf course. This morning I noticed a golf ball laying on our property. I was tempted to go get it. I didn’t. This afternoon, as I was sitting on the deck enjoying the sun, someone walked on my yard and picked up the ball. I looked at my daughter, she looked at me, and we let it be. Five minutes later we looked at each other and both agreed that we should have made an issue about that. Why? When my wife came out and enquired as to what was going on I told her the story and then suggested I was going to go put a another ball there just to give me an opportunity to take a strip off . . . . Woah. Hang on. What is going on here?

That seems to be the theme these days. Having an urge to lash out at someone. And if worse comes to worse, create a situation where I can lash out. Seems to me I have some work to do. Get over this negativity. Get on with life. I am golfing. The weather is good. Kids are good. Wait a minute. My grandson is in California having a good time. Perhaps I am envious. Perhaps I miss him. I am on it. Make it a good one.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What Is It

Summer has arrived. With a vengeance. Not that I am complaining. I love the heat. Not that many years ago I would wilt with these kinds of temperatures. Not anymore. I remember one Christmas, approximately 2004, when the temperatures dropped to -44. I swore high and low that I would never complain about heat again. Every time I am tempted I think back to 2004. Proves the point that it is mind over matter.

As I meandered along the golf course yesterday I reflected on a story I heard last week. I use the term “meander” rather loosely at this point. When you meander on a golf course it simply means your shots are most anywhere except down the fairway. Not a problem. It was a fun meander, if there is such a thing. Doing what I like to do.

Back to the story I was reflecting on. I happened to be a guest on “the nighthawk”. CJOB. 10:00 in te evening. Way past my bedtime. However, there I was. The host made mention of a situation in Ontario where 27 million bees had died. 27 million. That is a huge number. Kind of blew out of the water anything I had to share. And as I said to the host when I left, for all intents and purposes I don’t really care if all the bees die. Obviously my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek. Okay, so I don’t like honey and bee stings really upset me. I have to keep in mind the wonderful things bees contribute to our food, our flowers, our fruits. It is called pollination.

The reason I was reflecting on that number is because my golfing partner that morning asked a question about mosquitos. And trust me, there are many questions to be asked. They are bad. As bad as I have ever seen them. So bad that it becomes difficult to stand still when you are trying to concentrate on a golf shot. I should not complain. They are part of summer in Manitoba. Having said that, they were never this bad in Wawanesa. Perhaps that is God’s country.

My golf partner simply asked me how many mosquitos there might be in all of Manitoba. Interesting question. Wait a minute. How many are there in any given cubic foot? That might be easier. Reiterates the point that the mosquitos are bad. Not only that, they appeared a lot smaller this weekend than they had. That simply means it’s the next generation. Here we go again.

Some questions are difficult to answer. We may never know how many bees or mosquitos there are. Quite frankly we probably don’t care. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to answer questions that are important to us. The title asks “what is it”? That is my question these days.

We wait and wait for certain things. Things that are high lights in our lives. I was waiting, desperately, for summer to arrive. Here it is. I am golfing more than ever. My golf game is actually acceptable, in spite of the fact that I lost some money yesterday. My work is good. Kids are doing well. What is it? What is it that brings about a certain sadness? Brings a lack of motivation? Brings out the anger? So difficult to figure out.

Perhaps I spend too much time analyzing things. (I suspect my wife would concur with that one) Sometimes it is a matter of letting go. Things will not always go my way. We may never find the answer. But for the most part, life is good. It certainly could be worse. Make it a good one.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Here Is To 156

On June 30, 2010 I began a project that has been a journey of unforgettable events. Okay, I realize that sounds strange. Let me put it another way. My memory is awful. It is difficult to remember what I had for breakfast. Wait a minute. I have the same breakfast every day. So I do remember that. Bran Flakes. With raisins. The only reason I eat that is because it tastes really yummy. Yeah right. Just like raisin bran muffins at Timmies. My wife thinks I have OCD. So be it.

Back to my memory. I remember working on files, having meetings, never taking notes, remembering everything that was said. Now I take copious notes and have a difficult time figuring out why I would have written some of the things I write. Reminds me of my friend who once told me that when he had a drink or two he came up with fabulous ideas. The problem was he could not remember those ideas in the morning. Been there. Done that. One day he decided to take a note pad to bed. When the ideas hit he wrote them down. Then in the morning he would remember. He found out rather quickly that ideas that sounded awesome under the influence were not nearly as good after a sober second thought.

Back to the subject at hand. 3 years ago I began writing a weekly blog. For the most part it was ideas, thoughts or stories conjured up in my mind. Might be a song I would hear. A story told by someone else. Experiences I would encounter in any given week. It became an interesting challenge.
The reason I suggest that this helps my memory is when I look back at what I wrote I remember where I was and/or what I was doing during any given week. I checked today and saw that the first one I wrote was right after an annual physical. The one I need to have for my class 1 license. Had a temporary anxiety attack as I need to schedule another one. Then I remembered that I postponed the last one because of certain eye issues. Hang on. I am having certain eye issues now. That tells me that as much as things change they stay the same.

Through the years I have heard people relate their experiences with journaling. Never quite got that till I had coffee with my brother and he explained how he had journaled for quite some time. At that point it hit me. My blogging was a type of journaling. Sitting and thinking and writing what ever comes to mind. My brother explained that going back in the journals was pointless as it was difficult to comprehend what his line of thinking often was. So there is a slight difference. For the most part I get my drivel. It makes some sense. What reassures me is that many people have told me that they can relate. They get it. It is helpful.

So here is to 156. That simply means that I have written 156 blogs. 3 years at 52 weeks a year equals 156. I never thought I would get to this point. It has been good. I appreciate the feedback I have received. Always gives me real encouragement when the blog is posted on facebook because someone feels there may be a helpful message in it for someone. I get encouragement when readers email me at the end of the week and suggest that it is time to post a new one. For me it has been a fulfilling and often times therapeutic experience. Here is hoping that the inspiration continues. Here is to another 156. Make it a good one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Solstice

Saw a posting on facebook today where someone notified the world that we are half way to BOXING DAY. Really? Do we need that? WHY? For crying out loud. Leave winter out of this. Last week we had the first day of summer. Let me enjoy that, if only for a fleeting moment.

Thursday night I sat on our deck with the kids. It was a beautiful evening. We watched as the rainclouds moved north of us. At least I think that is north. Our house does not sit “square” with the world. It confuses me. I suggested to the kids that it was the first day of summer. One looked at the other and said “I told you so”. Now I was really confused. He went on to explain that he had suggested earlier in the day that all they would hear from their dad was that days were getting shorter. Me thinks they know me to well.

I recall, not that long ago, shortly after the LAST BOXING DAY. Sorry, got carried away there. I recall last CHRISTMAS. Wow. Sorry. This is hard. I remember suggesting the first day of winter that in six months the days would be getting shorter. Well, here we are. The days are getting shorter. If I look close enough the days are probably changing color. Sorry, I meant leaves are changing color.

All right. I admit it. I am being much too negative. I need to change that. And really, life is good. As I write this I am on my first day of holidays. This is outside of the norm for me. Holidays, but staying at home. Looking forward to it. No trips planned. Do some work, play some golf.

Ever notice how there are times we wish to slow down the clock? That is a good sign. We want to enjoy the moment. Other times we wish for the clock to speed up. Get us to the next point. Get us past a difficult moment. Sometimes I feel guilty of wishing my life away.

Had an interesting reminder this weekend on perspectives. My daughter-in-law asked whether I had ever seen the movie Freaky Friday. I have. It is a movie where a teen changes places with her mother. She went on to inform me that if she had an opportunity to change roles with someone it would be me. I was shocked. Taken aback. I asked WHY?? She said I had a nice house to relax in, a good wife who cooks awesome meals, a golf course out the back door, and an exciting and interesting job. Wow. Did that ever bring things into perspective. I thought about it. She is right. Life is good.

I need to change my thought patterns. Instead of thinking that in six months IT IS BOXING DAY. Sorry. Instead of thinking that summer is passing us by, I need to focus on the fact that we are two days into summer. Take a moment to enjoy the present. Life has so many positives to offer us. If we look too far ahead we miss many of those positives. Dare I say it? Live in the moment. Take this as a friendly reminder. In six months the days start getting longer. Oh, and in case you are wondering, we have a super full moon. Not sure what that means escept, everything is nuts. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Father’s Day

(Note that this is being posted a few days late. Seems I could not get comfort in my reflections and compiling my thoughts. Here it is.)

My father passed away more than twenty years ago. I think I can honestly say I never did have a close relationship with him. Not a bad one either. It was what it was. He died the day after his 66th birthday. By all standards that is too young. Of course, back then, I figured 66 to be a ripe old age. I hated to watch him deteriorate. Cancer is a wicked disease.

Back then I was a young father. My kids were too young to understand. I thought the sickness and death was unfair. I found ways to cope. In retrospect I realize that I was not utilizing the right coping skills. Coping skills that just got me deeper into a darkness, a time of life I would just as soon forget. But I was cool about it. Tough. Crap happens. So be it.

Because of a certain post on facebook I am reflecting on my father. After all it is father’s day this weekend. In the spirit of openness and transparency, not sure how or why that happened, I will reflect. As interesting as it may be I have never before realized that my life mirrors the life of my father. I, too, began farming at a relatively young age. I, too, was involved in evangelism, although not of the religious type. I was involved in agricultural politics. Preaching about collective marketing, risk management, etc, etc. It was during my farming experience I came to realize that there was other work I could do, and was naturally suited to do. I recall one person telling me that perhaps I never had been a farmer. Although I was initially upset with that comment I realized quickly that he had a valid point.

Of course, thinking about that could well make a person really upset. Lots of thinking back. Regrets. However, there have been friends in my past who have challenged me to get over it. Realize that without my experiences I could not be who I am. Not be as effective with the work I do. Not have had an impact on others. Perhaps those are the same thoughts my father had as he transitioned from one career to another. That makes him a mentor.

What I remember most about my father is that he was a pastor. Sure, he farmed as well, but that was only a means to an end. Although I never realized it, I don’t think his heart was in farming. His heart was in reaching out to others, particularly the less fortunate. He ended up doing chaplaincy work. Having conversations with inmates in various penal institutions. He enjoyed that. That was life for him. Sharing a personal faith but also listening and understanding when others talked to him. It broadened his own faith. It gave him a totally different perspective on life and faith. He began to see the world in a different way.

That makes me wish to have my father back for just a fleeting moment. I know he would be proud of where my life has taken me. I know he would be proud of the work I do. I know he would be proud of what I have accomplished. He would challenge my thoughts on everything from kids to faith to life. It would be so nice to have that one chat with him. Just one. Share some war stories, get some questions answered. Share a laugh.

I suspect that will not happen any time soon. What I can do is become more aware of who my father was. I have been remiss in not reflecting more. Understanding more. Although his life was cut short he showed me a path. It just took me too long to realize that. Here is to more reflection on a mentor. Here is hoping I can be a mentor for my kids. Happy Father’s Day. Make it a good one.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances

Here it is. I am officially taking donations. I have a problem that will cost significant money to cover. Yes, I am satisfied with our income or, perhaps, I should say things are better than they have been for years. But there is an issue. I need help. I know that all of you that read this would like to help. Here is your opportunity.

I recall many of those years when I “lived” in a hotel. Back in the days when my wife said she did not mind what I was doing as long as I was not having fun. For some the thought of staying in a hotel night after night might have some appeal. Trust me. It can get very tedious. Channel surfing becomes the norm. For some strange reason I often watched the show: “Keeping Up Appearances”. Some of you may have seen it. It can actually be quite humorous. It has been awhile since I saw that show. Had forgotten about it. Just recently my wife came home and said someone at her workplace had suggested she watch it. She asked me whether I had ever seen it.

Today I am getting some things done in my office. The beauty of working out of a home office is that when you get tired of the work, get tired of the people you deal with, get sick of phone calls, you can go out and do some mindless yard work. Back in the land of country living you had no worries. No one to keep up to. No one that was watching. Do what you like. In our current place of abode things are a little different.

I went out this morning to cut some grass, weed eat around some trees, check on weeds that I had sprayed for. Quite enjoyable. I even ignored the golfers, knowing I could go out later in the day. However, I see my neighbors on either side are quite busy doing major work on their yards and houses. The one on the one side has installed a pool. Now there is work being done on their patio. I suspect that will take up a good portion of their back yard. On the other side the house is being fixed. Where do I fit in? I would like to keep up, but I can’t.

I need this. I need that. I want this. I want that. Perhaps I can pull off a Hyacinth, you know who I am talking about if you have watched the show. Try to fool people. Make them think I fit in. Make them think I am someone who I am not. Something like the person that walked up to a counter and asked; “do you know who I think I am?”. Sometimes who I think I am is completely different than who I really am.

That is okay. What really counts is my well-being. Last night I was mowing the grass and got a text from a neighbor asking me to go golfing. Absolutely. This morning my kids asked whether we could look after our grandchild Friday night. Would love to. Saturday family is coming by to celebrate father’s day. Should be fun. Last weekend we could attend a wedding and stay till the end. Short drive home. That was enjoyable.

All of that tells me that life is good. It takes reflection to realize that. And then, of course, some friendly reminders. My son sent me a text this week which simply said, “comparison is the thief of all joy”. How true. We spend an inordinate amount of time wishing for something else. Something better. Sometimes it is good to sit back and think, yes, life is good. Never mind keeping up appearances. Never mind wishing for something better. It is not about swimming pools, trampolines, toys, or other “things” we wish for. It truly is about relationships, about friends, about family. Do I sound convinced? Make it a good one.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It Takes A Community

We attended the wedding of our good friends’ daughter last weekend. As weddings go I am not much for critiquing what goes on. In fact my wife would probably prefer I keep my mouth shut during the formal ceremony. Then again, probably during the informal part as well. Can you imagine? Don’t answer that. Right after the ceremony a friend sitting in front of me turned and suggested that the message (read sermon) was more important for some of us that had been married for a while than the couple that was actually getting married. Perhaps I should have listened. I was much to mesmerized by the architecture of the building. Besides, I know all there is to being married, right? Again, don’t answer that.

I want to refer to the speech given by the bride’s father. Not that he said a lot, too emotional, but the first sentence I heard said it all. He said it takes a community to raise a child and as he said it he pointed to the crowd. That comment really hit home. I talked to my daughter about that the following day. I suggested that the community we grow up in helps shape us as people. As a parent I can do only so much. The community, the school, the church, the groups we hang out with, dictate who we become.

I have often said, and I quote, “Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process.” Notice the reference to community? Community becomes much more important than we could ever realize.

Sometime ago I wrote about the untimely passing or our niece. In my final comments about that I suggested that it will take a community to rally around that family. I also said that I needed to be part of that community. In the two services we attended I saw community like never before. The people that showed up to show their respects, to show their support was literally out of this world. My wife and I talked about that as we ventured home that day. We wondered whether we would ever find that community support should we face a traumatic and life changing event. Yes, we have tons of friends, colleagues, associates, and family. But do we have the community that I witnessed that day? Do I have the community that my friend referred too at his daughter’s wedding?

I suppose that the best way to find answers to my question is to have something really traumatic happen in my life. Not sure I want that litmus test. I see it around me every day. People experience tough situations. Life changing experiences. Where am I when that happens? Am I part of the community that helps out? Do I provide the support that is so desperately needed? Or am I too wrapped up in my own issues?

It really is not a major deal. It takes little effort. There is a community out there. The question becomes what am I doing to be part of that. I can do more and I need to do more. Quite frankly, without community we have nothing. And the more we become consumed with our own issues, with our own problems, the more we have a tendency to withdraw. The more we withdraw the less we see of the life giving, life defining and life nurturing community. The community that exists because someone cared. Help me be one who cares. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Do I See

As happens so often, I had the opportunity to meet a person this week who has and is dealing with significant challenges in his life. During the course of our conversation I learned a lot about myself. How I face hurdles. How I react to “bad” things happening in my life. How others react and what I can learn from that.

As all of you know, and may be sick of hearing about, I am an avid golfer. I have experienced challenges regarding my eye sight. And I deal with certain mental health challenges. I have alluded to the fact that I have noticed my vision decreasing. It became quite concerning when I realized I had difficulties seeing my golf ball after I hit it. Finally I made an appointment. I was afraid of what I might hear.

The day before the appointment I met the person I just mentioned. He walked into the meeting room, sat down and proceeded to inform me that he was visually impaired. As he told me his story a host of emotions raced through me. I was amazed at his positive approach to life. I liked his sense of humour. I was intrigued with the eye issues he was describing. In my twisted way of thinking I was also convinced that this was an omen of things to come for me.

As he talked I became convinced that he had been dealing with this for most of his life. I found out different. A mere year and a half ago, in a matter of six weeks, he went from having good vision to being virtually blind. He was a 4 handicap in golf. For all you non golfers that means he was pretty darn good. A goal that I strive for but have been unable to achieve. He was happily married with two young kids. He had an up and coming career. Moving ahead in life. Then the unthinkable. A loss of sight. He has adapted and continues to adapt. By his own admission he has a much better view of what is important in life.

We talked about approaching life with a positive attitude. In spite of our inner most fears and concerns we could put on a happy face. We talked about faking it. Even when the inner emotions clouded our thinking it was important to show positive energy. The comment was made that even faking it sometimes helped in actually giving us a more positive outlook.

So what do I see? Physically I see less than would be ideal. However the good news is that it will take a simple laser procedure to fix that. It is a matter of getting the appointment sooner rather than later. Oh, and my son says, bad omens can &%*& themselves. Perhaps he has a point.

Emotionally my vision also needs an adjustment. How I react to various challenges defines who I am as a person. I have choices. It is important to keep things in perspective. I know. It is easier for some then for others. But there are ways and means of working our way through the challenges we face. Often times we cannot do it alone. That is why I am thankful that I met this person. He is helping me “see” better.

Some of my favorite quotes come to mind. “The important things in life are not things.” “Make life changes before life changes.” “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon but that we wait so long to begin it.” Make it a good one.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Know Enough

I have learned so much over the years. Not that long ago a friend told me that I was self-aware. I think that means that I have gained an understanding of what drives me, what triggers my emotions, what upsets me and what provides some sort of happiness. Having said that I still am often bewildered by emotions that come out of nowhere and create uncomfortable feelings.

Perhaps it is like I heard someone say at a meeting this week. “I know enough to know that I know nothing.” I chuckled when I heard that. In fact got out my blackberry and sent myself an email with that quote. Ended up getting a tongue lashing from the chairman as he felt I was “playing” with my cell phone rather than participating in the discussion. Little did he know that I had heard something that made so much sense in my personal journey.

Perhaps it becomes a matter of recognition. Although having said that, I know full well that I recognize the feelings that wash over me in certain experiences. And then I spend time analyzing those, trying to figure out where they came from. And the more I analyze the deeper I slide into a state that leaves me depressed, angry and not willing to participate in life.

Perhaps I need to get over it. Build that bridge. Quit over analyzing everything that happens. Quit trying to figure out why people just don’t seem to understand. At one point this week I was frustrated with my wife and kids. They thought I was down. They were wondering what was wrong. I got frustrated. Did they not understand? It wasn’t me. It was them. The more I tried to push it the angrier I got. As I lay in bed that night trying to make sense of it all I concluded that I was probably wallowing in self pity. Although, god forbid, I would never want to admit that out loud. Surely those around me should recognize that it was their fault, not mine.

I came to the realization, the following morning, that I felt better. That was strange. After all, if my funk the night before was everybody else’s fault then why was I feeling better? Yes, I became more self-aware. I realized, came to an understanding that there were certain experiences in life that had been dragging me down the day before. I realized that my emotions had gotten the most of me. I realized that because of my unwanted thoughts and feelings my expectations of others were unrealistic. I realized that I had been unfair. I, in some bizarre way, was trying to punish those closest to me for what I was going through.

So what now? Surely at my age I should know better. Surely I should be able to control and contain those feelings that I KNOW are wreaking havoc on relationships. Now you know why that quote meant so much to me. “I know enough to know I know nothing.” I must do better. The irony is I know enough to know that if I can control those feelings of emptiness, regrets, resentment and, yes, self-pity, I am a happier person. That is a good start. But I need to learn even more. Make it a good one.