The Recovering Farmer

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.