“Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand

mountains nature arrow guide

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Recently, we said good-bye to my husband’s Grandma Dorothy. I am proud to say that I had many opportunities to spend time with her and loved her very much. She will be greatly missed for her kind smile, beautiful quilts, and delicious monster cookies.

One of the things I admired most in Grandma Dorothy was her unwavering willingness to listen and learn about the lives of those for whom she cared. In any conversation, Grandma would always listen and then say, “Is that right?,” with a smile, smirk, or frown (She also wasn’t one to hide her feelings well).

She never let her ninety years of experience get in the way of understanding what was helping, hurtful, exciting, or enhancing to the lives of those around her. Grandma openly accepted that people are different and that the relationships we build are ones that deserve attention, nurturing, or closure because that’s how we grow.

Sitting on her couch the afternoon of Grandma’s passing, I couldn’t help but glance at the rocker that had been so frequently filled by her and ached to hear Grandma say those words, “Is that right?”

As children always do, mine provided great comfort, insight, distraction, and healing through the process of Grandma’s visitation and funeral. The night after her funeral, I said extra prayers with each kiddo in Grandma’s honor. As we wrapped up our devotions, my daughter said, “Mom, I heard that when you pray a Hail Mary, an Our Father, and a Glory Be someone from purgatory goes to heaven. Is that right?” Continue reading ““Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand”

That Bucket’s Not Going to Carry Itself

That Bucket's Not Going to Carry Itself

The farm has taught me many lessons. One lesson that will forever stick with me is the idea that a bucket can’t carry itself.

Why, you might ask, would a bucket’s inability to carry itself be a lesson of any value to anyone?

Well, it all started in a calf barn.

When I was 4 years old, the farmer my father worked for gave me a feed scoop. It was orange, plastic, and had a Purina logo embossed in the handle. The purpose of the scoop was to fill the stainless steel bowls that were mounted on the front of each calf’s stall. My purpose for having that scoop was so I could be the filler of those bowls.

I was elated. Those calves were the best part of the farm in my 4-year-old mind. I loved how they smelled like sour milk and straw. I giggled non-stop at the way they sucked on my fingers. I cried when they were sick or when it was time to move them out to pasture with the larger calves. I was proud to be their caregiver.

There was just one problem.

The bucket my father filled with feed weighted more than I did. The task of feeding those sweet, spotted calves was a tough one because I often spilled feed going from bucket to stall and back again. Spilled feed is almost worse than spilled milk, but I wasn’t supposed to cry about either.

I soon became discouraged when my father would lose patience over my slow progress and pick up that burdensome bucket to deftly pour just the right amount of feed into the remaining bowls without so much as spilling one kernel of corn.

Why couldn’t I carry that bucket that way?

Nothing frustrated me more than not being big enough to do a job. My father knew this.

One day I noticed the bucket wasn’t quite full. After a scoop or two, I tested my luck. With some effort I was able to pull it closer to my sweet calves and didn’t have to truck those precious scoops of feed quite so far. I was doing it! I was carrying the bucket! Continue reading “That Bucket’s Not Going to Carry Itself”

Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women

As I waited for the opening session of the 2019 Farm, Family, and ME! Summit for Women, I enjoyed being a fly on the wall. I knew no one there. The room filled; the noise level rose, and various conversations began to flow. As with most conferences, the individual participants had their own motivations for being there, but each was there for one reason. They were there to grow in the field of agriculture.

With each introduction, I was pleased to learn my new acquaintance’s name and what branch of farming they represented. Many were there with backgrounds in cattle, hogs, and row cropping. Others represented agri-tourism, sustainable, organic farming, and accounting and farm investment firms. (I was the only turkey farmer.)

The pride each woman showed for her role in the world of agriculture added to my own joy in having grown up and now seeing my own family raised on a farm. The hard work, dirty jobs, and relentless demands of livestock and crops all seemed to be fodder for the flames that grew with each presentation and sharing of information.

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Me enjoying some Missouri-made wine

While this conference was intended to create networking and educational opportunities, it had a feel of an agricultural retreat. The breakout sessions, locally sourced meals,  Missouri-made wines, and positive ideas and options for female farmers were highly therapeutic and invigorating. I definitely left there with a renewed sense of purpose and a brighter view of what I wanted my role in our family farm to be.

Having Marji Guyler-Alaniz, host of FarmHer television, as the opening speaker elevated us to rural rock star status. But before Marji even took the stage, Missouri’s first lady Teresa Parson made a cameo appearance and took the opportunity to meet many of us, asking where we were from and about our farms, and then spoke on the importance of agriculture for our state. She was positive, professional, and approachable. A perfect tone-setter for the summit.

summit-3.jpgThe motivation and story about how FarmHer came to be was one that resonated because of its non-traditional roots and the earnest desire to give the female farmer a voice in our nation’s most necessary industry. With her statistics and experiences, it was impossible to ignore the message being shared by Marji. (I was already a fan of the show, but now my DVR is set to record every episode.) Continue reading “Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women”

Mess Magic

The Magic Mess

Who feels like they are in the midst of a mess right now? A holiday recovery, end-of-year, I-ate-too-many-desserts, what’s-with-this-weather mess?

The holiday meltdown isn’t just for snow, fudge, and small children. We all have the right and inclination to collapse into the most cataclysmic of chaotic mindsets this time of year.

Here’s the good news… the magic is in the mess.

With the heaviest of holiday heaps coming on, eating Dove chocolate is still one of my favorite therapies. As I frantically re-created a lost answer key for my COM 111 final, ithe shiny wrapper of a caramel-filled chocolate provided this golden nugget of peace… the magic is in the mess.

I almost wept at these words. How did that little chocolate know I needed to that mantra in my life?

This morning, as my children are sleeping in, hubby is on the farm, and the end-of-year book work stares me down, I can’t help but hope that this magic mess mantra could become a part of my daily routine.

Why can’t it?

On any given day of any given year, a magician can pull a rabbit from a hat, find the exact card the lovely assistant chose, or a quarter from the unsuspecting ear of a child.

How do they do it? Continue reading “Mess Magic”

I Love Pumpkin Guts

Last night the kids and I celebrated our annual jack-o-lantern carving tradition and I remembered how happy I was to share this post. I hope you find joy in it too. Happy Halloween!

I really do love pumpkin guts!

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pumpkin guts (5)

I love pumpkin guts! I love how they feel, how they smell, the seeds that we pull out of them, and the jack-o-lanterns that take form after they are removed. I love pumpkin guts.

In 2016 almost 150 million Americans said carving pumpkins was a part of their Halloween plans. That makes for A LOT of pumpkin gut removal.

pumpkin guts (4)While many find the slimy, sticky, and stringy gourd guts to be gross, there are plenty of people out there that enjoy the icky investigation for seeds.

The scraping of the sides can be a stress reliever. When you have your big bowl of pumpkin guts staring you in the face, you can say, “Wow! I cleaned all of those out!” 

Once the insides are removed, creating spooky, silly, and sometimes unrecognizable shapes is what turns jack-o-lanterns into joy. Roasting the separated seeds is always a fun and a pretty healthy…

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Be Like the Aspen

selective focus photographed of trees

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Be Like the Aspen

Aspens grow in tightly bunched groves on mountainsides and in rocky, hilly areas. They grow closely together because aspens are not a singular tree but rather a system of trees connected by roots to form one organism.

Their root systems provide them with stability and sustenance. Those roots keep them clinging to the steepest hillsides and standing up to the most treacherous terrains and storms.

We are kind of like the aspen.

Not one of us can exist to our fullest potential alone.

We are not able to fend off everything that comes our way if we stand alone. There isn’t one of us that can make it through life successfully without the support of another.

Just like the aspen, we grow best when we grow together. We need to help support those around us. We can nurture and sustain one another by sharing what we have. Helping others grow taller because of our own gifts is the best way to reach our highest heights.

I encourage you to remember we are like the aspen.

Put your energy and positivity into building a strong support system and working together to weather the storms of life.

Stand tall, give support, stay connected.
Be like the aspen.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I’m not telling you to make like a tree and leave. I’m telling you be like a tree, well, a bunch of trees. Trees that share roots. You get what I’m saying. Be like the aspen.

I Miss Jack Buck

Jack Buck 1

The iconic voice of St. Louis Cardinals’ announcer Jack Buck was as ingrained in my childhood as climbing trees, jumping rope, and crickets serenading the stars.

With limited access to televised games and no Sports Center, the only way we knew what the St. Louis Cardinals were doing was through the play-by-play of Jack Buck.

Whether we were in the milk barn, the car, or the kitchen, Mr. Buck brought us the sights and sounds of the game. He knew the players, the fields, the umpires. Jack’s words struck us with clarity as he announced each pitch, hit, steal, and out. We always knew what jersey the teams wore or who took a daring lead from any base.

One of the things that allowed me to connect with Jack Buck was that he never veered from the game.

Yes, he did the obligatory commercials and sponsor plugs, and he kept us entertained with his stories during rain delays and pitching changes, but he never took us far from the game at hand. Too often when we listen to the game today it takes an end of an inning to get the announcers to tell the score or acknowledge the players on the field in front of them.

Jack Buck was also a man of great passion and integrity. He promoted decency and dedication, education, and patriotism.

Before America could return to normalcy after the 9/11 attacks, it took teams returning to the baseball diamond for the world to feel like it had begun to spin again. Before the first pitch of the game at Busch Stadium on September 17, 2001, Jack Buck invited America to join in solidarity showing that we were a nation that was not afraid. We needed to continue to come together in competition and in solidarity for our nation. I was touched by Jack Buck’s words, but I was moved by his emotion. How could you not?

While 17 years have gone since his passing, his home-run calls and special conveyance of the game are missed (at least in my mind). Today the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League Central Division for the first time since 2015. It was exciting to see the players pose on the pitcher’s mound and watch the champagne showers in the locker room, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the call would have sounded like as the last out was made (a Cub’s out, no less) if Jack Buck had made the call.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Please share your thoughts on the late, great Jack Buck. A lot of us miss him.

Shallow Happiness

Shallow Happiness

That whole put-on-a-smile all day, every day thing is exhausting.

There are plenty of days when I feel like my smiles are used up before I even get out of bed.

Earlier this week, I channeled my inner Dolly Parton  when someone asked my how I can stay so positive when people can be such jerks sometimes.

All I could do was quote Dolly, “I’m not happy all the time, and I wouldn’t want to be because that would make me a shallow person. But I do try to find the good in everybody.”

I’m not gonna lie. This week was a doozy. We lost a good friend to an automobile accident, learned the illness of another friend had progressed for the worse, and that we will lose our sweet uncle very soon. Students gave pitiful excuses. My children couldn’t seem to get along at all. It was a doozy.

Before I had to channel Dolly’s words of wisdom, I really was in a funk. A coworker called me out on it and so I dropped the shallow happiness quote on them.

We can’t be happy all the time.

We don’t like everyone all the time.

It is darn near impossible to find the silver lining all the time, but it is always possible to turn things around by finding one good thing in ourselves or those surrounding us. Continue reading “Shallow Happiness”

Regret as Anger ?!?!

Regret as Anger

After a particularly difficult weekend of parenting, I confided in my friend Joy that I felt like my child’s irrational behavior seemed to be a reflection of a parenting fail on my part.

My child could not accept that they had to stick to their commitments. (Never mind the fact that they had cried, begged, swore on their grave that this was the ONE thing they were born to do and HAD to do it or their pitiful life was over.)

Now there was a new, “I’m gonna die if I don’t do this” thing and I was officially the “meanest, most unfair mom ever.” (Exact words of my child.)

The words didn’t bother me. The anger behind them did.

I wasn’t as worried about the fact that they thought I was being mean; it was the fact that my child was so quick to change passions in the blink of an eye.

Joy pointed out that maybe there was some regret there. My child now saw a new opportunity and regretted making the previous choice. My friend shared that her kids had demonstrated similar behavior and accused her of “forcing” them to do the very things she knew they loved. In her kind and wise way, Joy said, “I think sometimes they (the kids) have regrets and they use it as anger towards us, but it’s not okay for them to be angry with us for what they regret.”

WOW! Continue reading “Regret as Anger ?!?!”

National Be Late for Something Day

I almost forgot to re-post this reminder to be late.

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National Late for Something Day

If you feel like you are running a day late and a dollar short (as I am today), Congratulations! It’s National Be Late for Something Day!

Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself time to be the best you can be. Take a deep breath.

Maybe today is the day you forgive yourself for something that you should have let go of a LONG time ago. It’s always a good time for forgiveness.

Consider going to bed just a few minutes later so you can squeeze in a few more snuggles with your sweetie or kiddos.

This is one national holiday we all really need.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I really should have written this post yesterday.

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