The Recovering Farmer

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.