A Year of Lessons – Filling in the gaps via Daily Prompt: Unfinished
365 days ago I felt like a ship without a sail. Having made the decision to walk away from teaching after 10 years, my focus was solely on our family and farm. I knew this was the right choice, but the hole where teaching had been left a huge crack in what I knew about myself. Life has a funny way of filling in the cracks. I knew there would be no trouble filling my days with work, but I had no idea how full those days could become.
Working for the farm full time provided wonderful opportunities for physical activity and greater time with our cattle and turkeys, and my husband of course.
Lesson #1: You can’t schedule life on a farm. The farm will schedule life for you.
Our turkeys and cattle always seem to know when we are in a hurry to get somewhere or when we have made plans for something special. If there is a wedding to attend, you can bet there will be a cow or two out or the turkeys will break their feedline, necessitating the repair and clean up of a couple tons of feed. When the holidays approach, we know to expect the delivery of a flock of poults (baby turkeys) or a cow to go missing. If I am scheduled to be somewhere, you can bet that an electric fencer will go out or a water line will bust and my new appointment will be to the farm supply store to pick up parts or deliver a replacement from the farm shop. Baby calves are born or go missing in the worst weather or at the most inconvenient time, but they are our babies and we drop everything to ensure their safety. Turkeys are not the smartest animals and they will create the biggest messes when it seems we need things to go the smoothest.
Lesson #2: When you do not hold a scheduled job, people don’t think you work and tell you so.
Remember the whole ship without a sail comment in my first line? Well, just when I think I have things going. Just when I feel like, “Okay, I am making contributions to my farm, family, and community (because now I can volunteer for things),” someone will say, “So, it must be nice not having to work. What do you do with yourself all day?” or “How do you like not working?”
Those comments knock the wind right out of my fragile sails. It hurts. Often I will invite them to go with me for a day and see how they fair. I try to always thank them for checking on me and share snippets of what I am up to, but in all honesty, I can’t include all of what I do in any conversation. There is just too much. It is also important to me to ask how things are in their lives. I want their sails to be full too.
Lesson #3: Saying “NO” is a good thing
As life has evolved, many opportunities have come my way. The best part about those offerings has been my ability to say “No. Thank you.” There is something liberating about knowing you can say “No.” Those cracks I mentioned earlier (the ones filled with the tasks of daily life); they are cemented and reinforced when we have the chance to decide to not take part in additional commitments or when we ask to be considered for a later time. It feels good to know that your abilities are acknowledged and you are wanted to be on someone’s team. It is healthy to be able to say “No” when it isn’t what’s best for you at the time.
Lesson #4: Change opens doors.
Taking a step back has made it possible for me to be there for those I love when they needed me. In the past, I was hampered by the need to get a substitute or the lack of substitutes available. I felt too guilty to take time off and be away from my students. This year was different. When my father-in-law had a stroke and needed rides to therapy, I was able to take him. I have been able to spend more time with our grandmas. They are so precious and our time with them so important. When my children were injured or sick, I was able to care for them and be there when they needed me most. When loved ones passed away, I was able to help in the planning and attend their funerals. My ability to attend was a huge part of the healing process for my friends, family, and self. Change opened doors. I have been able to create and implement new procedures for our farm that assist in record keeping and meeting the ever-changing demands of modern farming. I have also had more time to write and develop relationships with other writers. I have had fewer chest pains and am getting almost six to seven hours of sleep at night. It is wonderful! Change opens doors.
Using these open doors, I have made plans to share the lessons learned from some very special people about the last year. I have invited some amazing individuals to share the lessons they have learned in their own words and will be publishing them. Please take time to read their stories and learn from their experiences.
Filing in the cracks and setting sail with their stories the next two weeks will provide a glimpse into diverse view points and I hope you will learn some lessons of your own.
As always I welcome you to share your stories and lessons. Please comment below or email your lessons learned from the last year to firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I hope this post doesn’t make me sound too windy 😉