The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Back to Now

Interesting headline in the paper this morning. “In the past five years, at least six Americans have been shot by dogs”. I thought it important that you all know that. I won’t say any more about it. I suspect I might go somewhere from which place it might be tough to come back from.

Last week, October 21 to be exact, was the date that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doctor Brown (Christopher Lloyd) visited in the much acclaimed movie Back to the Future Part ll. The movie was produced in 1989 and followed the first Back to the Future movie, shot in 1985, where Marty McFly traveled back in time to 1955. Some interesting plot lines, to say the least, but totally useless except to get one’s imagination going.

As I heard some of the thoughts of various people about this rather significant or perhaps insignificant date, I was rather intrigued about some of the ideas put forward by some. One Winnipeg radio stations wondered whether people, given the opportunity, would prefer to travel back in time or to travel to the future.

That got me thinking. I know I have often times voiced regrets over events of the past. Curious whether I could go back and change these. Which ones would I change? And if I could change the events I wanted would my life have turned out better? The answer to that is clearly yes, if we lived in a perfect world. But we don’t. I cannot remember having heard anyone ever say that they wouldn’t change a thing given the chance. So all of us have certain life events that we would change if we could, or at a minimum, forget.

How about getting a glimpse into the future? If you imagine paying a visit to 2041 what do you see? That is 26 years from now. With the way things have changed since 1989 and keep changing at a staggering pace the possibilities are endless. When I take the time to think back to my parents’ childhood I am awestruck by the changes that have happened. It seems virtually impossible that these changes and the pace of these changes can continue. And yet they seem too. The future sometimes scares me. I often times imagine the challenges that my kids and grandkids will have as the world around them keeps changing. Then again I suspect our grandparents and parents had similar concerns.

After all this thinking about the past and the future I came to the conclusion that the present is what I should focus on. The past has shaped and molded who I am. I have had some struggles in the past and have learned valuable life lessons from those struggles. Someone suggested to me that had I not had the experiences I had I would not be as effective today with the work I do. Then again perhaps I would now be a professional golfer. . . . there I go. Only wishful thinking, I think.

So I am going to call this movie Back to Now. A story where I don’t relive the past but enjoy the memories of an interesting life. A story where I don’t have to worry about the future because today has enough challenges of its own. What happened yesterday cannot be undone. What may happen tomorrow is outside of my control. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Even if dogs are shooting people. Make it a good one.

“Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going”
David Rossi

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Double Play

The term double play is normally associated with baseball. I never watch baseball. I have never found it very invigorating. My son asked me how I can watch golf and say what I just did about baseball. There is an argument to be made but I won’t. I did happen to watch one inning of the Blue Jays’ game the other day. Happened to be the most exciting thing I have ever seen in baseball. Keep in mind I never watch the game. I suspect I could somehow bring the election into this as well but not going there. As the one FB post said, “I should say something, but I won’t.

I would like to expand on something I touched on with a previous blog. As it dealt with conflict there are obviously numerous directions I could go with this. At the same time I need to keep it simple or I might get lost in my thoughts and who knows where we might end up then.

It is important to remember that when we are involved in conflict or are facing a potential conflict that there are two plays at work. There is the actual conflict. This involves a struggle between you and someone else. But there is also an internal conflict that can happen. This internal struggle is often time one that can last longer than and be more difficult than the external conflict.

Again the internal conflict is a double play. We become consumed by the external conflict. Wonder how it will play out. Wonder what will be said or done. Often times we become overwhelmed and anxious. Anxious because we are dealing with an unknown outcome. We want the conflict resolved but ironically procrastinate dealing with it. Hope to wake up tomorrow with it gone and forgotten.

But as I mentioned last time there are numerous factors at play inside of us. Quite often, probably more often than not, these factors involve other life events. It maybe relational issues, financial trouble, illness, chronic pain, stressors at work, changes that are overwhelming. It could be a host of things. Issues that wear down our ability to manage conflict. Manage life itself.

As this internal conflict festers, a myriad of feelings take over. We have a tendency to be hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up. We feel like idiots. It wreaks havoc with our self-esteem. And as our self-esteem suffers we become defensive. We feel attacked. We feel like everyone and everything is against us. And far too often this has the potential to turn into resentment. And as the saying goes resentment is a poison we take hoping someone else will die. It can destroy us. It can take away from a positive life. It can lead to bigger problems.

So first and foremost we need to start being kinder to ourselves. All of us have an innate desire to be heard. To be understood. We need to quit believing everything we think. Our stinking thinking can demoralize us. Practice self-compassion. Our pain and anxiety reduces the more others understand and care. Our physical health improves when others show they care, when they show they understand, when they reach out to help. Using that same principle on ourselves is just as important.

Make an effort to deal with issues that drag you down. Use a mindfulness based approach to your everyday life. Make a conscious effort to feel better about yourself. And as this happens you will find that external conflicts are much easier to deal with. In fact you may find that these external struggles are only a function of your perception. Remember, we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. Make it a good one.

“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.”
Mary Schmich

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Paradigm Shift

As happens on occasion I am reflecting on the work I do. Thinking of ways to improve, add to, and enhance my business. For some time now I have called myself a consultant. It took a while but I finally gave in and started using that title. (To see a description of my thoughts on consultants check my post from March 17, 2011 entitled On Being a Consultant) I will refer to myself as a conflict resolution consultant, sounds, dare I say, racier than mediator, or a stress management consultant, which sounds better than counsellor, or for a real mouthful will introduce myself as a conflict resolution and stress management consultant.

As I reflect on the words “conflict resolution” I find myself thinking that there is a better way to describe the mediation work I do with couples, families, individuals, and companies. Various words, and how we use them, can conjure up negative or positive connotations. An individual who I have worked with in the past does presentations on what I call “stress management”. He doesn’t like that term and calls his work in that area “building resilience”. Just recently I was chatting with another colleague and told her about some counselling I was doing. She asked whether I was counselling or coaching. She went on to explain that, in her mind, counselling dealt with a person’s intrapersonal issues whereas coaching dealt with one’s ability to cope with and enhance the future. Made sense to me and made me realize that the term coaching is more suitable for what I do in the area of helping individuals.

In a similar sense this got me to thinking about conflict resolution. As we all know conflict is part of life. Regardless of the relationships we have, be they with spouses, partners, colleagues, kids, in business, in sports, to name a few, we will experience conflict. And as such conflict is not always a bad thing. One of the definitions in the Encarta Dictionary refers to it as “a disagreement or clash between ideas, principles, or people”. With constructive or positive conflict, ideas, principles, or people can become better. It has the ability to enhance. To improve. To make better. It is when conflict is not dealt with, is ignored, or avoided that bigger and more serious issues can and will develop.

This is where a paradigm shift has to happen. Instead of being consumed with wanting to resolve conflict, often seeing conflict as being negative, we need to view conflict as something that needs to be managed. Not only managed but transformed. That simply means that we accept conflict as a part of life and look for meaningful ways to manage it. And, let me throw another word in here, we need to transform conflict. Again I will defer to a definition in the Encarta Dictionary. To transform means to “to change somebody or something completely, especially improving their appearance or usefulness”.

Sounds so simple. Instead of allowing conflict to fester and grow we find ways to deal with it proactively. However I can tell you from my own personal experience that is easier said than done. Conflict comes from a variety of reasons. Often times our involvement or response in conflict has nothing to do with the conflict. Often times the conflict arises because of other life events. We become consumed by intrapersonal issues and through that our response to others leads to conflict.

In my last post I mentioned the importance of listening for writing purposes. One of the most important keys for conflict management and transformation is also listening. There are others which we can explore in the future but for today let’s make the effort to be better listeners. The best communicators are ones who listen more than they talk. We should listen to understand rather than to reply. You will be surprised at the results. Make it a good one.

“Conflict is an indication that change is needed.”

Friday, October 16, 2015

A New Start

As some of you will have noticed my writing of late has been rather sporadic. In fact there was a period of months where I did not post anything. It seemed that my ideas bank account had run empty. In fact, in looking back, I would suggest that with some of my thoughts I was overdrawing the account. They should have been returned NSF.

Since the start of this project I prided myself in the regularity of my posts. Sure there were times when it took an extra week for ideas to flow. Occasionally the post was “nothing to write home about” but then some song, conversation, or epiphany would come and I would be able to write something helpful or inspiring. I suppose over time thoughts can become stagnant if we allow them to.

As I look back over my posts in the last year I also notice a common theme. I was struggling. Struggling to find my way. Just not having fun. The good news is that I have come to an understanding of what was going on in my life. I recognize now what I should have done back then. Could have made my life much more positive much sooner. The irony is that even back then I knew in my sub consciousness what I needed to do but for some reason did not do it.

So I need to revamp what I write. To do that I need to change the way I do certain things. My brother sent me a book this week. Tells me it’s an early birthday gift. Not sure I can accept that. The early birthday gift part. I am accepting the book. It is called The Right to Write written by Julia Cameron. I have only read a few pages and already have a better understanding of where I was at with my writing and where I need to go to get back on track.

What resonates with me is when the author of the book challenges the reader (writer) to listen. To get direction from what is around us. She suggests that when we force ourselves to write, writing becomes a chore and becomes less effective. When we listen to the world around us, and by world I mean people, music, stories, events, to name a few, we find the direction. We come to an understanding that it is not about us and through that understanding are better at writing and better at communicating. That is where I was. I was forcing myself to write. I was consumed by my own issues. And when I check back it is easy to recognize when I felt forced to write and when the writing came from a natural flow of thoughts created by listening.

So here I go. A new start. Since 2010 I have posted 246 times. I have often alluded to the benefits I found in writing. In a sense it is a type of journaling. And we all know journaling is a huge benefit in finding clarity in this journey we call life. I need to get back to that. Find the time and the energy to put pen to paper.

Here is another quote from the book. “We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.” Make it a good one.

“Whether you say you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
Henry Ford

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Contradiction

We are in a time of contradictions. After all it is election time. And as I have stated earlier the political rhetoric is getting somewhat tedious. And I use the word tedious as the words I would really like to use are not suitable in this forum.

Over the course of the last two months I have been battling a nasty chest infection. At one point I believe the doctor suggested I was suffering from bronchial pneumonia although I think he was somewhat flummoxed himself. Since the end of August I have been on five different antibiotics and four different inhalers. Some of them work, some not so well. Is it a bacterial infection or is it a virus? Is it because I abused my lungs in the past or is it because this bug is making its rounds? Am I slower in getting over it than others or did I wait too long to see a doctor? So many questions. So few answers. For now I seem to be getting better. Two weeks ago I was better too and then it came back with a vengeance.

So in this new world we live in you take an antibiotic to get rid of an infection or inflammation. However that creates a problem. Pardon my ignorance but I did not know this. So the antibiotic gets rid of bacteria. Makes sense if you have a bacterial infection. However, and here is the contradiction, your body needs bacteria. So I have learned that there are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria. Antibiotics don’t know the difference so they simply zap all the bacteria. But now that the bacteria, good and bad, are gone I have to replace the good bacteria by using a pro-biotic. I was told that eating yogurt would do that for me. Quite frankly I would rather not replace bacteria if it means eating yogurt. So someone in all their wisdom provided me with pills that have the same effect. Perfect. Antibiotics in the morning, pro-biotics in the evening. Makes for , and I quote, an ultimate flora. That is all I am saying about that.

Oh, I forgot. Aside from antibiotics and inhalers I also needed to use cough syrup. Have you ever taken a look at what is available on the drugstore shelf? Tough to decide which one to use. Just before I decided it was time to see a doctor I stopped in at a drugstore to buy some cough syrup. Should have been easy. I asked the pharmacist which kind would be best. She did not want to sell me any. Insisted I go to the doctor. I concurred but still needed some. Made my own choice. Don’t think it worked. The doctor suggested which kind I should get. Thank goodness it wasn’t Buckley’s. Now there is an adventure waiting to happen. Finally got one that worked. And again there was a contradiction. A cough syrup that is an expectorant, which loosens up whatever is in your lungs, and a cough suppressant. How does that work? It loosens up the phlegm but suppresses the cough. Does that not mean that it actually works against each other? All I know is that I seemed to cough up stuff I remember inhaling years ago. Don’t ask me to describe it. It was ugly.

That’s my story and I am sticking to it. Tonight I seem to be losing my voice. What does that mean? A relapse? I hope not. My son laughed at me when he heard my voice. Commented on the tough year my body has had. Hopefully things will get better. Perhaps get in a game of golf. Been missing that over the last six weeks. Then again maybe I will say what I used to say when I was farming. There is always next year. Make it a good one.