The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Wonder Why

News headline of the day. “U.S. prison officials accidently kill man they were trying to execute.”

Seriously. Not kidding. Found in the April 30, 2014 edition of the National Post.

Last night as I was trying to settle down and get, at minimum, a decent night’s sleep I thought of the title for this because there are two things that I want to mention. Okay. Rant. I need to rant. The point being that the headline mentioned above has nothing to do with what I am about to say. It just caught my eye as I was trying to wake up with my morning coffee. Although it did make me wonder.

I need to give credit to a lot of people. I have a new sense of appreciation for all these folks that I see deftly handling whatever mode of communication is the flavor of the day. So I needed a new phone. Well, perhaps not a phone but a new number. I suppose after two years it was time to get rid of the Brandon number. Tough to do. I have had that since 1991. That is when I got my first cell phone. How things have changed. I have gone from a bag phone to a “brick” to little device called a flip phone to a Blackberry to an Iphone and numerous different versions in between. HELP.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way but it did. I was coerced into purchasing the Iphone. So I am learning new technology again. Not any easier than it has been in the past. Then I wonder why. Why do we need this technology? Why do I feel lost without a phone attached to my hip? Why do I have to be in constant contact? Why, why, why? Gets very frustrating.

For the last six months, pretty close to the day, I have been wondering when the golf course would open. I missed golf. I missed the camaraderie of my golfing friends. I missed the exercise. I missed the thrill of hitting a ball on the sweet spot. I missed the feel of winning some money. Albeit pocket change.

Last night I had an invitation to venture out. First round of the year. Half way through the round I was desperately trying to figure out why I would want to partake in this sport. The grass was brown. The wind was howling. The ground was wet. The greens were not green. After 15 holes I was down most of my life savings, or approximately $3.25. I was tired. My feet hurt. Really? I wondered why.

Then as the sun was setting and the wind chill dipped to a balmy -20 we approached the 17th hole. Dead into the wind. I used a knock down shot, whatever that means. I lost sight of the ball as it sailed into the horizon. My partners suggested it was good although I have no idea how they knew. They were pouring fireballs. Somehow that seemed much more appropriate. Nonetheless as I walked up to the green I saw my ball. Pin high. Just a matter of putting it into the hole. And I did. From thirty feet. A birdie. A win. Nothing else mattered.

After that I did not need to wonder anymore. I knew I would be back. I know the conditions will get better. I will figure out my phone. I will figure out this game called golf. I will figure out this thing called life. It is called keeping the faith. And that, quite frankly, is all I have. Faith. Let’s see how that works out for me. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let’s Open A Window

As many self-employed people know there are times when it seems that we will never catch up to the work we have committed to. Perhaps commitments made in weak moments. Perhaps commitments made when we remembered the last time we were short on work. Regardless of the situation we find ourselves over doing it. We become tired. We become discouraged. We plug along hoping to someday catch up.

Then there are times when we have no work lined up. Seems to be feast or famine. Then we struggle to find work. Some of us struggle with self-esteem. We wonder if our gig is up. I keep being reminded of that saying; “inside each self-assured professional is a neurotic hoping to succeed before he is found out”. Does that mean I am busted? Found out? Perhaps there is nothing left for me. Perhaps being a Walmart greeter is all I can hope for.

Then I sit back and look at what I have done over the last years. I realize that I have a certain expertise I can share. Share with others so they too can enjoy life. I should not sell myself short. But I do. This week I have been pushed, pulled and dragged into an endeavor I am not sure about. Advertise myself? Promote? Really?

So my son is helping me in a business make-over. I have heard of some women, and an occasional man, go for a make-over. Not entirely sure what that consists of. Not entirely sure I want to know. When I look in the mirror I can only wish for a make-over. I suspect what I see is what I get and I better get used to it. Business wise I am open to suggestions.

My son has thrown down the gauntlet. Insists I market myself and that to do that effectively will mean some changes. You mean the website I have had for eight years doesn’t cut it anymore? Apparently not. I need to change it up. And add things. I need to sit back and write about what I do, what I enjoy doing and what it is that should make people curious about what I do and provide them ample reasons to pay me to do what I like to do.

All of this means stepping outside of the box. Not sure what it is. My age? My background? Seems difficult to do. Like an old worn out comforter. I know what makes me feel good. So leave it be. That apparently doesn’t cut it. So I am working on it.

The other evening when we were slowing down for the night, sitting back and catching our breath, I lamented to my wife that this new world we were entering felt uncomfortable. She looked at me and said; “Let’s open a window and see if we can get a breeze”. I like it. Open a window and see if we can get a breeze.

How often do we limit ourselves to what we have? Afraid of what is beyond our comfort zone. Not sure of who we are. Not sure of who we want to be. Just leave me alone. Things will work out. Sometimes the challenge becomes to step outside the norm. Remember? Make life changes before life changes. I need to work on that. Not easy, but here goes. Make it a good one.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why Do I Do This

For some strange reason I have signed up to a counselling course. For some time I have felt the urge to shake it up, step outside the routine, perhaps even learn and add to some of the tools I already have. Perhaps even start using the tools I already know about but seem to forget when I most need them.

There is a certain irony to my participation in these workshops. I have often said that my ability to facilitate or present on many of the topics I do is not because of an academic background. Rather it is because of what I have experienced and what I have learned from others on this journey called life. So when I attend workshops such as Mental Health and Addictions, Depression, and Anxiety I wonder whether I am there to help me help others or whether I am there to find out more about myself. And ultimately, I suspect, if I find out more about myself I should be in a better place to help others.

The participants in the workshop come from a diverse selection of professionals. They all have jobs in areas that these topics pertain to. They have various academic backgrounds. A wide range of experience in dealing with messed up people. Some stories were truly heart breaking. I have a lot of respect and admiration for people who choose to work with people experiencing mental health challenges. Without them far too many of us would be lost.

Quite often, in fact, far too often, I felt like screaming. I found myself in a room with professionals trying to learn how to deal with the likes of me. Someone who has had addiction issues, someone who just this week experienced anxiety like never before, someone who slips in and out of depression far too often. So often I felt like what they were discussing would not be helpful. Far too often it seemed like a clinical approach that felt just like the term suggests. Clinical. As much as people tried it seemed that they did not get it. But then again, why would they?

In my mediation work with people injured in motor vehicle accidents I hear countless stories of various, and often times, serious injuries. As much as I try to understand what a broken leg feels like, as much as I have read and heard about concussions, as much as ongoing treatments appear to be necessities, I will never truly understand the depths of misery those types of injuries can create. All I can do is deal with those issues as best I can based on my training.

There is an old American Indian proverb that goes like this. “Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.” I have always thought of this in a broader sense. Not about criticism. Rather understanding. Can we really understand someone unless we have had similar experiences? Perhaps. Can I be taught to better help and empathize with them? Absolutely. Let me reiterate. There are many professionals out there doing a truly amazing job of dealing with people who are struggling. For that I am thankful.

In the last workshop I attended, the one on depression, I did come away with one significant truth. Far too often I cannot remember a quote. This one I do and will for some time to come. It simply says this. “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.” William Gibson. Make it a good one.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What Would I Say?

Not sure what to use as a title for what I am about to talk about. Not even sure what I will say. However I saw a post on Facebook today that has me thinking. A friend of mine, okay, in reality a relative, someone I spent hours with growing up but since have lost touch with, posted an interesting question.

It was actually a picture with a question. And as is often the case words will not do justice to the picture. Let me try. The picture is of a bench perched on a hill overlooking a beach. A beach with small waves coming in. Perhaps it’s the tide. Perhaps it is the relentless surge of ocean waters. Ever wonder what stories waves would have if they could talk? If they could tell us where they have been? What they have seen? Similar to the stories each one of us could tell if we took the time to think back. Stories of happy times. Stories of sad times. Stories, nonetheless.

The question with the picture asked this. “If you could sit on this bench and chat for one hour with anyone from the past or present who would it be. . . ? That got me thinking. Perhaps because I sense the pain that this friend is feeling from having lost someone near and dear to them. Perhaps it is because it reminds me of people who have had a significant impact on my life.

The first person I thought of when I saw the picture was my uncle. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned chatting with an uncle? The one that expressed a desire to be able to work? As fate may have it he passed away this week. As much as he had had health challenges the passing was rather unexpected. It got me thinking.

The same day that I saw the posted picture I mentioned I also saw another friend, and again a relative, and, yes, I have a number of them, wishing a happy birthday to a father that passed on a few years ago. She was fondly remembering the direction and guidance he had provided.

All of this got me thinking about my father. Not sure an hour would be enough to talk about all I would like to chat about with him. And somehow I suspect he might have a few questions, or comments, of his own. I suspect he would wonder how I got to where I am from where I was. He would be curious about my life. My kids’ life. Even my grandson. He would try to connect the dots.

His passing was much too early in life. There is so much more that we could have shared. There is so much more that he could have offered me as I meander through this mine field called life. There are times when I wish I could seek advice from someone that has walked the walk. Unfortunately that is not the case with my father. All I can do is try to learn from the tid bits of his life I can remember.

But from all of this I can also learn to cherish the moments in life I have. It is so easy to look around and wish for something else. Something better. I need to credit a friend of mine who, this week after I had commiserated about an issue, challenged me that I have so many things to be thankful for. And he is right. I do. The challenge is to focus on the positives. May not always include what I would want but positives nonetheless. And most of all cherish life and the people around us. That may change and may change unexpectedly. Make it a good one.