Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PS Prayers

Every single day. 
Before either leaves the house. 
Me and him
.....And Him. 
Heads bowed. 
Hands held. 
We give thanks. 
And ask for a bit, too. 

And almost - almost - everyday I think of something that we forgot. 
And it pops into my mind the same way a 10:00 conference call does at 10:04 on a Monday: 
I remember something that we should have never forgotten. 

Most mornings at the homestead end in some variation of this dialog:
"In Jesus' name we pray, Amen," Cody concludes.
"And also, Lord we thank you for Marlee and Harrison and Oscar," I jump in. 
"Yes, definitely.......Amen."
"And thank you for keeping them healthy during flu season.
...And our Grandmas, too. 
...And our parents. 
...And, I guess us, too. 
It's just been a really bad season for the flu..."
"Anything else, Linds....?" Cody says with a smile, peeking at me with one eye open. 
"Nope, I think we covered it."

Yep, just like that I turn into the seven-year-old at the dinner table.

PS Prayers: That's what we've come to call these brief, "Oh no! I forgot!" moments. 
They're usually an afterthought, but a big, important thought.  
How could I forget?
PS Prayers are sometimes a person or thing that doesn't consume our mind while we carry through our days, carelessly letting worry fog our priorities. 

But sometimes, isn't it the subject of the PS Prayers
- the ones who quietly, patiently wait for us to remember them -
that we need the most?

I think about all the things that fill the space in my head throughout my day. 
The deadlines. 
The events. 
The expectations.
The bills.
The appointments. 
The to-do lists. 
The registration. 
The organization. 
The dinner. What is for dinner?

And then I think about the things that matter
Our health. 
Our country at war within itself.
Our Grandmothers who are still with us.  
Our warm homestead and piece of ground.
Jobs we enjoy. 

It's strange how the most important things in life aren't given as much thought as the less relevant, yet pressing, matters. 
And by strange, I mean disappointing. 

Fact: We will always have time for the things we put first. 

What are the PS Prayers in your life?
The friend that you know you need to call? 
The check that arrived right in time?
The spouse that needs your attention?
The close call in yesterday's traffic?
The fuel oil guy who delivered when you needed it most?
The professor who understands your passion?
The pup who is always happy to see you?
I believe the best PS Prayers are the ones that don't knock down our door, but rather the ones that sit silently in the background waiting to be remembered. 

Whether or not you pray, I encourage you to take time to remember the things or people in your life that you would put at the top of your priority list. Are you giving thanks for them or even to them?
Do they receive the attention and gratitude they deserve?
They aren't just an after thought, are they?

"In Jesus' name we pray, Amen," Cody concludes.
"And also, Lord we thank you for a warm house in this polar vortex" I jump in. 
"Yes, definitely.......Amen."
"And thank you for the polar vortex as it makes us appreciate the warmer months.
...and for the blanket that fit perfectly over our front door to block the draft in those 30 mph winds. 
...And for keeping our cattle safe in the polar vortex. 
...And our Grandmothers, too."
"Anything else, Linds....?" Cody says with a smile, peeking at me with one eye open. 
"Nope, I think we covered it."

Oh, PS: Thanks for reading this blog.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Most Hated Person In America

I've never understood why people complain about the weather. 
Or relationships that they know they should have ended six months ago.
Or delayed flights. 
But mostly, the weather. 
What good does that do?
You do know that your downer, dopey, dumpy words to the public won't change things, right?
They don't warm winds or bring the know that, right?

Don't get me wrong, it's been a long, cold winter. 
Cold, cold winter. 
I mean, we have cats sleeping on tractor radiators and it doesn't even bother me. Now, the day I have to scrape one out of my engine because it was wrapped up around a serpentine belt, we might have issues. 

Let me say, Old Man Winter is like the most hated person in America right now. 

Not Richard Sherman.
Not Dennis Rodman.
Not even Obama. 
Old. Man. Winter. not Old Man Winter.
Rather my Canadian cattle friend Scot who embraces negative zero temperatures with a smile. 
Truth be told, his face may be froze that way? 
I saw him in Denver and he was smiling just as big there.

Winters were created so the old dies off and new life can emerge with beauty and brightness in the Spring.
And it was designed to last as long as the other three seasons. 
We all need our time to prove our value, even Old Man Winter. 

When did it become so acceptable and normal to complain about the things we cannot change, like the weather? None of your words are going to change the situation, so why burden everyone else with a healthy dose of Negative Nancy?

Fact: I despise Negative Nancy and all that she encompasses. 
And her ex-step-brother Negative Nick, while we're naming names. They do nothing but promote a sense of helplessness. 
Let's face it, generally speaking, folks have become soft. 
Especially in cold weather. 
Embarrassingly, increasingly soft people, living in a world of convenience. 

Think about generations before us. Do you think they got anywhere by waking everyday to complain endlessly about the freezing temperatures and wind?
They put on their big kid Dickies (same ones they wore yesterday) and threw another log on the fire. Then they went and cranked their tractors and hand-milked cows with their bleeding, chapped hands. The only thing they complained about was the fly in their non-pasturized milk. And even then they just mentioned it was missing a wing that they couldn't find. Probably swallowed it. They went on to school and work in snow and drifts because they found a way to get to the place in which they had an obligation.
They didn't sit at home and wait for a delay or closing. 
They got things done. 

My Grandpa Bowman worked at the Perfect Circle factory, the birthplace of  piston rings. My father recalls at least twice when Grandpa's Hudson Hornet couldn't make it out of the driveway, let alone seven (7!) miles to town where he worked. 
So, he walked. 
He walked 7 miles in snow that his car couldn't survive, to a job that fed a wife and 12 kids at home. 
No questions. 
No snow days. 
No excuses. 
Walked seven miles in the snow. 

What happened to the part of Americans that appreciated something that made us work a bit? 

I have this deep appreciation for winter because it makes us struggle a bit and then starts everything new again. Maybe I feel a strange sense of forgiveness and subtle do-overs. It seems everyone appreciates Spring because it is visually appealing and comfortable, but haven't we gotten too comfortable in how we live and view our responsibility in life? We've learned to take the pretty way, not the right one. There is still peace in breaking water for livestock that need it, shoveling (not blowing!) snow for neighbors who can't manage to do so themselves and managing money to pay for propane that is hard to find and afford. 

Where we need to be is not always the most comfortable place. 

It isn't the warm, sunny, 72º location - physically or mentally. 
Sometimes, where we need to be is where we are most uncomfortable
The place that challenges us and allows us to grow. 

Maybe this bitter winter - that has affected most of the US - is a way for each of us to reevaluate. To make us struggle a bit, and knock us out of our comfort zone, to appreciate the great things that we love and take for granted. 

Or maybe this bitterly cold Winter is where we realize that there is no better time than now. Quit hibernating and begin understanding where you belong. No longer try to find comfort, but go out of bounds figure out where you're going to thrive. 
Do something different. 
Try something new. 
Quit complaining about things that can't change, and change things that can. 

And lay off Old Man Winter, would ya?
He's just doing his job. 
After all - thanks to him, Spring is just around the corner. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Three Feet of Confidence

I remember standing in the dressing room and being envious of a three year old, wondering how on earth I had gotten to that point in my life.

We (technically I, but it was a team event) were trying on wedding dresses that day when I stopped dead in my boots and realized something was terribly wrong. 
After a long morning of tight and white on me, my impatient niece was ready to give a white dress in her own size a whirl. 
And give it a whirl she did. 

Marlee, then three years bold, spun around to see herself in the mirror. With glowing eyes and striped socks, her smile radiated. 
"Mommy, I look so pretty," she said to my sister as we each adored Marlee's reflection in the mirror. 
Herself, included. 

She was a solid three feet of confidence. Every little bit of her. 
Unbroken confidence. 

I drove to the Original Jean's house that afternoon thinking about my niece's reaction to seeing herself in the mirror. 
She was mesmerized. 
She was impressed.
She was confident

Confidence: At what age do we lose it?

In perfect time, a friend posted this on Facebook yesterday. 
Not yet tainted by outside influences, his confidence made me smile - countries away.
I let his mother know what today's blog was about and asked her if I could use this perfect example. Her response: "Sure!! I can't wait to read it! I was just wondering the answer to that question myself. My other 2 ages 8 & 10 have both lost it. "

Have you ever considered that? At some point, maybe at 7-years-old, maybe at 17, an event happens that beats us down just a little. It may not seem like such a huge event at the time (or maybe it does?), but the impact is great. How do you get that back after it is lost? 

Confidence is certainly something our world lacks but desperately needs. And the vicious trend of decreasing amounts of it does nothing but damage. 
The worst part: 
It starts at home
Parents invest their time and energy into demanding jobs, social obligations, intriguing cell phones or personal fulfillment, instead of investing attention and instilling confidence in their children.
So their children find the attention and confirmation they long for elsewhere. 
The children get into relationships that are totally wrong for them.
They subscribe to activities that are completely bad for them.  
They turn to damning sources like modern day media to learn what or who they should be.
They conform to "normal" (what ever that is) rather than the person God designed them to be. 
Then the gap between the necessity of lessons learned at home and the young adult deepens.
And the confidence to listen to the little voice in their head weakens. 

And just like that, we've lost another person who might have been confident enough to stand up for what they believe in, even if they're standing alone. 

We need more of those. 
Then that child grows up and is loaded with the responsibility of teaching confidence to their children. 
All of the sudden, the poorly taught student has become the teacher. 
Ever taught a lesson you've never learned yourself?

Log onto social media and you're bound to find the greatest form of poor confidence: the selfie. 

I believe that regularly posting photos of yourself is nothing more than an outcry for  confirmation and attention; a confidence booster based on how many "likes" you get from a random sample. 
What's really a bummer is logging on and seeing married women - and even mothers - posting selfies. 
And sometimes...they include their kids. 

I've learned that confidence is far more quiet than insecurities. 
Consider this: The person who must be heard and seen 
is likely the one who relies on others'  validation. 
The confident person rests assuredly on 
their own beliefs, values and goals; 
they need not accreditation from other sources. 

Fathers teach us confidence. 
Mothers teach us compassion. 

The degrading boss. 
The 20 extra pounds. 
The public slip-up. 
The divorce. 
The middle school bully. 
The broken heart. 
The competition.

There are many people who can (and will) suck the confidence right out of you.
And there are few who can put it back. 
Find a way to invest your time into the latter. 
Giving and receiving. 

Confidence is learning to outgrow the confinement of others' expectations. 
Confidence is doing something for yourself for once. 
Confidence is encouraging yourself, and that being enough
Confidence is unplugging and doing what is right for you and your family. 
Confidence is grace: having it and extending it. 
Confidence is spinning around in the beautician's chair and absolutely hating your haircut.
But then realizing it's just hair. 
And it grows back. 

It matters not if you're 6' 3" or 4' 2": 
Today, I encourage you to have three feet of confidence. 

Three feet of 

After all, Confidence is Happiness. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holding On To Letting Go

Have you ever been to the point in your life when you say firmly and aloud, "It's time for me to let go."

I have.
But unfortunately that tiny, yet persuasive, voice inside me decides to run her mouth and the next thing I know I'm still holding on to letting go. 
And the letting go never happens. 

I once heard of a gal who others called a "minimalist" - I had to look up that term. Turns out they do exist. 
I'm not one of them. 
Anyhow, she kept only one of everything in her kitchen. 
One spatula. 
One dishrag. 
One skillet. 
One pie plate. 
One mixing bowl. 
I had to look her up on Facebook. 
She appeared happy and real. 
But Manti Teʻo's girlfriend apeared happy and real on the internet once too, so...
Her motto seemed to be, "Use what I have, find what I need"
Rather than "Overwhelm with excess and hope to survive"

A real photo from my kitchen. 

Monday it finally happened.
Cody and I had our first Come To Jesus meeting in our kitchen, and it was regarding plastic cups. 
I believe that the 41 plastic cups that we have left over from our reception are plenty to keep around. 

He, on the other hand, has collected a plastic cup from every livestock sale or show, trip to Eskimo Joe's, Alaskan fishing adventure, Michigan Sate, Detroit Pistons/Lions, Oklahoma State, or Lansing Lug Nuts game. And he passionately wants to keep them. All of them. 

This is only the stack he washed and put in the cupboard Monday night. 

I will admit, 
using all and any grace that I have left over from my mid-cold-kitchen-floor-rant,
I have learned so much from these darn plastic cups. 

We discussed the cups. 
The meaning behind each. 
The function behind few (there were just a lot of cracks). 
The memories tied to each. 
The tossing, possibly. 
And moving forward. 

We stood in the kitchen two nights ago and had a conversation that reached far beyond plastic cups with more stories dripping from the sides of them that I care to hear.
We even talked about several of my things that have stuck around - come hell or high snow - from one house to the next. 
I was far more guilty than he. 

The truth is, we each have a tendency to hold on to things that hold us back. 
Or snag our progress.
Or regress our time. 
Or move us flat backwards. 

Sometimes we hold on to things because they bring back a certain memory in our own timeline and we feel like clinching that physical thing ensures we'll never forget. 
Sometimes we hold on to things because we're not ready to let go. 
Sometimes we hold on to things because we shoved them under the bed five years prior and have no recollect of doing so. 
Sometimes - and all too often - the things we hold on to have greater significance - and take up greater space - than plastic cups. 

Moving forward I'll be evaluating things around me and the significance they hold. 
Not just the "stuff" that fills my kitchen
but also the "stuff" that fills my time
and also the "things" that occupy my mind

Consider those things in your life taking up "extra space" - there is a lot you can toss, huh?

And just so we're clear, I wasn't even mad when I decided to toss my Farm Credit insulated mug with a broken lid. I think eventually I'll earn another one?

It's amazing what a person can see by the light of a burning bridge.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Pioneer

I do admit: 
My stomach was in knots the entire day on January 1st...and it wasn't because of the previous evening's champagne.
Well, not entirely.

As we ran errands weeks ago in his truck, Cody told me he wanted to work cattle on January 1st.
I remember when he said it we were lifting something heavy. 
It was likely when moving our things (when I type our things, I mean his) from temporary storage onto the next great adventure at the homestead
I remember that when he made the statement, four quick things went through my head:
  1. Oh...... (#*%&!) crap.
  2. Why are we moving this 200 lb. junker?
  3. What is this 200 lb. junker?
  4. January 1 = Fixin' To Be Just A Really Bad Day. 
In reality, "work cattle" encompasses things I've done and enjoyed for decades at Bowman Superior Genetics:
Blood test when appropriate. 

Yet, when Cody put it on our to-do list I was instantly consumed with worry. 
How would this rodeo turn out?
What will it be like working cattle in which I have never touched?
Where are my docile Shorthorns?
Will he yell?
...Louder than me?
I'm not yet totally familiar with the lay of this land - how will we corral them?
We're using that tub system for the first time: Is it ready?
Are we??

I had these visions of black cattle running wild down the state highway, crossing county lines, attracting attention of state troopers and even making headline news. And trust me, in my occupation, headline news is the place you work to avoid. 

But then the late-day cold set in on the first day of 2014. 
And so did real life.
And we got down to business. 
And the afternoon of working our cattle together went well. 
Really well. 

I told Cody when it was over - 
...after all gates were secured
...after the tagging box was put away 
...after the chute had been cleaned out
...after the girls had been sorted and each had hay and water
"That went so much better than I anticipated"
He responded, "Did you expect the worse?"

And sadly I thought to myself: Absolutely.

In that very moment, I realized that I've traveled into this way of living where I anticipate the worst based on past experience. 
Either from my own past, or others'.

A few poor experiences growing up, and while exploring the west during college, have completely changed my perspective. 
Fear is an incredibly powerful thing. 
It can make you cry. 
It can make your nerves consume every inch of your being. 
It can make you alter your entire way of living. 
But isn't it time that the fears that we live with - large or small - are put to bed?
In 2014 I challenge you to be a Pioneer.
The Pioneer eliminating the fear inside holding you back. 
The Pioneer that isn't afraid to do things alone. 
The Pioneer who accepts less money for more happiness.
The Pioneer who says the things that you need to, even if they break a heart. Even if it's your own. 
The Pioneer who is so brave that you don't realize there are people against you.
The Pioneer who actually stands up for yourself, for once. 
The Pioneer who loves. 
The Pioneer who pays no mind to those who surround. 
The Pioneer who forgets the expectation. 
The Pioneer who doesn't measure self worth with a mirror or a scale. 
The Pioneer who quits judging other people. Who are you?
The Pioneer that changes how you live in 2014. 
The Pioneer who has a full tank of gas and a week's vacation. 
The Pioneer who goes against the grain. 
The Pioneer who finally realizes "me" is enough.
The Pioneer who who questions authority. 
The Pioneer who finally appreciates it. 
The Pioneer who doesn't sneak over the wall, rather the one who breaks through it. 
The Pioneer who fords the river without a fear of pressing the space bar. 

We live in a place and time where it seems 
every square inch of this Earth has been discovered.
Still, our ability to be a pioneer in our own individual pursuits has never been greater. 

I don't know where you're going, or where you need to be. 
I don't know your passion or what keeps you up at night. 
What I do know is that you'll go much further if you let go of those fears 
- large or small  - 
that inhabit your mind. 

Be a Pioneer. 
Stand up to those worries, fears or concerns. 
Address them.
It doesn't matter if you know not where you're going - or even if you do -

Let your heart not be troubled. 
2014: May it be Your year - 

Oh pioneer
I sing your song
It's the hymn of those who've gone before and those who carry on
Your work is hard
But the future of us all rests on the shoulders of your heart

Where are we going
Oh I don't know
But still I've got to go
What will become of us
Oh I don't care
All I know is I'll go anywhere

Oh pioneer
So young and brave
Be careful of the careful souls who doubt you along the way
You orphaned child
Your mother is adventure and your father is the wild

Where are we going
Oh I don't know
But still I've got to go
What will become of us
Oh I don't care
All I know is I'll go anywhere

Let your heart not be troubled

I won't run when bullets chase me
I won't rest where arms embrace me
I will love when people hate me
I won't hush, no you can't make me
Send the dark but it won't break me
You can try but you can't change me
Take my life, they will replace me
I won't hush, no you can't make me
I won't hush, no we will sing

Where are we going
Oh I don't know
But still I've got to go
What will become of us
Oh I don't care
All I know is I'll go anywhere

Let your heart not be troubled