I know, I know! Everyone is tired of certain catch-phrases that are getting over-used lately. But, there is one that I think we might do well to adopt and take personally. I think we should all be looking at our own, personal, "new normal" or better yet, resist "going back to normal." And, I would like to begin by pointing out some positive changes in what/how we value that Tammy and I have been working on together.
First, please note that we are "working on" these things. We certainly are not perfect and we struggle just like everyone else - especially when we are disappointed that so many things are not going or have not gone as we wished. Like you, we are doing the best we can. And, like you, we keep challenging ourselves to do just a bit better while also doing our best to forgive ourselves when we don't manage it.
The funny thing? This isn't necessarily any different than any other time of our lives. It's just that our sense for these things has been heightened.
1. Taking Time Out Together
Tammy and I have become more intentional with setting aside some time where we don't allow ourselves to fall back on talking about work (or actually doing work). Of course, the farm and Tammy's teaching are huge parts of our lives, so we aren't about to put a ban on those topics. But, we have found that we are enjoying going to Sweet Marsh and watching birds, muskrats and other critters. Sometimes, we go with the expressed purpose to talk about our plans for what is happening next at the farm or with our jobs. But, happily, that rarely works out because there is always a 'new' bird to see that distracts us. What often happens, instead, is that we're actually able to talk through those things after our break - probably more efficiently than if we'd tried to done so prior to or during our visit.
Wingspan pretty much every day. We both already liked birds and have found our enjoyment for bird watching has actually increased with the affirmation we get by playing this game. Not too surprisingly, we don't play the game 'competitively.' In other words, there isn't much defense being played here. We tend to help each other out with suggestions and each of us has been known to pass up a bird that the other person likely wants. And we're still discovering new ways to play the different birds and score points. It's just complex enough to keep us interested for over 200 plays so far... So, do the math - I think that averages to more than 1 game a day since mid-December.
Hm. Have I mentioned, we've had more time at home than we've had in the past?
2. Breathing In More Deeply
Spring is typically a difficult time for either of us to take a moment and enjoy what it brings us. Tammy is usually going through the process of finals and then May Term. And, Rob is normally trying to get things rolling on the farm at a time of year when his work crew has not yet arrived for the season.
Oh, wait. We're doing that right now. Distance education is actually far more difficult and Tammy is every bit as busy as she normally is. And, the farm still needs to get put together, etc. But, we're still taking a few more moments to appreciate the world around us.
3. Eating a Bit Better - If Not Less
Farming is hard. Teaching is difficult. Both take time and energy.
Both of us can be prone to just keep on plowing through things and
forgetting to do simple things - like feed ourselves. For goodness
sakes! We raise/grow excellent food and we fall-back on a pick-up pizza or
snack from a convenience store? This is especially true during the Spring months when both jobs are distracting us from providing for some of our most basic needs.
Well, it hasn't been so easy to go out and get something and we're eating more of the good stuff and much less of the not-so-good-for-us stuff. And, we are reminded that home-made bread with Iowa honey and butter is one of the best treats you can have.
Now, ask us if we 'stress eat' as others have reported doing? Well, we've always done that in Spring months - see the first paragraph in this section. But, now we're eating some things that are better for us. We'll call it a win. So there!
4. Appreciating Where We Live
Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.
Yes, we have struggled to see our farm as others see it because we often focus on the warts. It only makes sense that if we are working around it all of the time, the list of 'still got to do that' gets in the way of 'look at what we've done.'
Well, we have been reminded how lucky we are to have a place that has plenty of outdoor space for us to roam. Yes, much of our 'roaming' is work related. But, we do like to be outside. And, we do like to nurture growing things. And... now the outside of the farmhouse reflects the fact that we really are doing our best to be good stewards of this farm.
Fifteen months ago, we made a commitment to ourselves that we were going to make a push to bring some major projects to fruition that have been on the radar - but in perpetual suspension. We have been fortunate enough to have gotten the help we needed (in so many ways) to make this happen. We are grateful - and we hope we show it, in part, by looking at the Genuine Faux Farm in new and positive ways.
5. Building Up Instead of Tearing Down
We welcome you to build up your own list of things that you find yourself valuing more of late. Be kind to yourself. It doesn't have to be something you have DONE, it can just be something you are noticing more that makes you happy (or happier or less sad).
This is the beginning of my list of things I hope Tammy and I continue regardless of where things go throughout the duration of the pandemic and in life thereafter. Here's to making this list longer!