Turning Things Around?

When poults (baby turkeys) arrive on our farm, they are less than 24 hours old. They are cute, hungry, thirsty, and not very smart. In addition, they are top heavy thanks to their full yolk sacs and skinny legs. For about the first 7 days of their lives, it is not uncommon for them to spend a great deal of time flipped onto their backs, kicking their spindly, little legs like crazy, and looking up instead of ahead.

Appropriately, we, in the turkey industry, call the flipped-over poults, “flippers.”

A flock with a lot of “flippers” takes more time to care for because we spend so much time walking through the range house setting the spinning birds right-side up. Often they flip back over or a stampede of other poults pushes them prone again, but we still work to set them all in the right direction.

I feel like many of us are “flippers” in our lives because we allow the weight of our overthinking and worry to upend our outlooks or the pressure of trying to go with the flock to capsize our cause. Just like the extra time it takes to care for a building full of “flippers,” we are too panicked about our problems and freaking out instead of finding ways to fix them. We spend too much time failing to find the solution to turning things around in our lives.

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Swamped in a Hive

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a parent who is inundated with the behaviors and requests of their children? It’s like trying to locate the queen bee in a hive of crazy. Nobody is concerned about or can comprehend what’s being said, focus is going in a million directions, and the constant buzz is enough to drive everyone in and outside of the hive crazy.

This past weekend I witnessed my friend, Jamie, at the heart of her own wild hive. We were hanging out at a friend’s shop, and for some unknown-to-our-children reason trying to have a conversation.

While Jamie balanced her son on one leg, her daughter traipsed passed walking her baby doll by the hair. Without warning, the baby doll leapt onto Jamie’s vacant leg and began marching up her arm and then rested on her head. Shortly there after, Jamie’s husband asked her about something he couldn’t remember, and she replied calmly with whatever he needed to know. Barely skipping a beat, Jamie continued on with our conversation. After finishing her sentence to me, she politely asked her daughter to take the doll to play somewhere else. Her daughter’s response, “But I need you to be my jungle gym.”

Well, there you had it.

Jamie was needed.

She was a comfy place to sit for her son, reference library for her husband, an apparatus for her daughter’s baby doll activities, and a hub of conversation for me.

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At Least You Don’t Have Hobbit Feet and Ears – Wise Words Wednesday

I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say that starting the day as a pandemic-exhausted parent has me feeling like Gandalf facing the legions of Sauron’s forces while also being Frodo seeking the best route up Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. I just want to make the bad stuff go away and bring about peace without too much destruction.

Just as Gandalf, Frodo, and their companions discovered, there are an awful lot of things looming in the way before we can make each day successful. Thankfully J.R.R. Tolkien provided many layers of inspiration for us in The Lord of the Rings series starting with, “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” (A totally Intentergy way of thinking.)

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To bring the full Intentergy spirit to this post I want to remind everyone that it’s good to not have just one “precious” person or thing that absorbs all our energy and attention. Keep your loyal and loving companions close. If you get lost, scared, or distracted, there are plenty of ways to turn a new page. 

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Check Your Surroundings – Wise Words Wednesday

Your Surroundings

When it seems the world is completely off kilter and there isn’t anyone or anything that makes you feel like you have anything to offer, the best way to feel worthy is to surround yourself with people who value you.

I’m not sure if it’s my 41st birthday, or the new high energy (a.k.a. hyper-anxious) horse I just acquired, or the stress and chaos of the very-extended time my children have been home due to the Corona virus, but lately I have not felt worthy or successful. I have found myself questioning even my dinner choices and frantic over the potential of planning activities with family and friends. Apparently, my passion for planning has been hindered by the fear of making a wrong choice or exposing everyone to a potentially deadly situation with one penciling in of my calendar or preparation of turkey tortillas.

What I really needed were the wise words of Denzel Washington.
“If you hang around 5 confident people, you will be the 6th. If you hang around with 5 intelligent people, you will be the 6th. If you hang around with 5 millionaires, you will be the 6th. If you hang around with 5 idiots, you will be the 6th.”

 

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A Swarm of Appreciation

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Each day I am thankful for farmers. Not just because I married one, was raised by them, or because I am one, but because they are the 2% of the population growing, cultivating, and producing the foods and products our world needs to survive.

One of the things that most people enjoy about farming is the fresh start and cuteness that comes with each new calf, foal, poult, chick, piglet, or seedling. Everything starts sweet, small, and innocent.

This morning I started off with caring for 10,000 poults. (Poults are baby turkeys.) I checked their food, waters, building temperature, and double checked that all safety precautions were in place; doors secured tightly, thermostat set appropriately, and no water or food messes. They chirped, squeaked, and followed me around the building as if they were all on invisible leashes. (Their flocking is really sweet until you have to walk through them without stepping on one of the little darlings.) 

As I watched my fluffy flock swarm, circle, and trip over themselves to get to me, their food and water, or just because one of their brothers happened to be napping where there the stampede shifted, a wave of appreciation rolled over me. There I was with the opportunity to provide care and attention to these baby birds, who will someday provide sustenance to others. Continue reading “A Swarm of Appreciation”

The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday

 

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I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however,  turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.

Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.

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Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.

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The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies

What is the weirdest thing that bothers you?

What idiosyncrasy do you hold near and dear to your heart?

My friend Brian has a passion for keeping the door to his office closed when it is not in use. The door’s closure allows him focus and to maintain the energy he needs to be most effective at his job. Brian will post on Facebook hilarious rants about the need for that door to be closed. His posts make me laugh, but also remind me that the idiosyncrasies that set us apart are also what make us all human.

Open Door Idyosyncrasy

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That’s My Spot: Fighting for Your Peace

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I don’t know about your kids, but mine fight over EVERYTHING! I mean everything. From who blinks faster, to who breathes louder, to who says the word “funny” the funniest, they fight over everything.

Last month the teachers from our school did a drive-by parade to show students that the distance caused by the COVID19 quarantine had not lessened their resolve to be in the lives of the kids. It was a powerful thing to see the teachers, their signs, and the obvious joy that the brief encounter brought.

As my children had been tethered to our house for essentially a week and a half, I thought the little minions would be excited for a chance to get closer to the world outside and wave at their beloved teachers.

Well, they were not excited.

img_1158They did not want to go outside, and once we made it to the end of the driveway, they fought. They fought over the cowboy hat that my 7-year-old brought along so his teacher would see him. They fought over who could yell the loudest. They fought over who could find a 4-leaf clover. They fought over who could stand on a small pile of spilled gravel in the grass. They fought.

As the first teacher’s car appeared around the bend, something crazy happened.

My children suddenly became glued to my side, their mouths did not make sound, even their hands seemed tied down, and they stopped fighting.

The sight of their teachers, the signs, and honking cars brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. I could not stop waving, shouting, and encouraging my children to do the same, but it was as if the minions forgot their evil cause. They lost their vigor for knocking each other down and the need to be noticed. They stopped fighting for their place on the gravel spill and assumed a position of awe and uncertainty. Continue reading “That’s My Spot: Fighting for Your Peace”

History in Childhood

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The timeline of my 1st grader’s life according to him.

In a recent Social Studies lesson, my son was learning about timelines. The last activity on the page was to make a timeline of events in his life. Of course we began with when he was born. The only other events he chose to include were getting our dog and starting school. When the time came to add 2020, I asked what he wanted to record for current events.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Anthony is stuck at home.”

Those five words spoke volumes. They reflected how our current situation has defined this period in our lives. Stuck.

This assignment reminded me of a homework activity my daughter had last fall. She was to interview family members and ask what event they believed defined their generation. Both hubby and I believed that 9/11 was the defining experience for those of our age. My mother-in-law and father-in-law said Vietnam or Korean Wars. Greg’s grandmother said World War II and a tornado that had hit their hometown. It was funny to me how tragedies seemed to determine our identities. Why is it that we don’t typically use the advent of a new invention or success as the center to what we see in ourselves?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Success is beautiful and uplifting, but tragedy builds character and resilience. Continue reading “History in Childhood”