Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

The Hermit and the Butterfly

This year is a big one for Cowboy and me.   We are celebrating 20 years of marriage.   A big milestone for sure, but we also tip our hats to both sets of our parents who are celebrating 44 and 50 years. Marriage runs deep around these parts.

All those years ago, our wedding invitations were emblazoned with the phrase, “Today, I marry my best friend.”  

We had dated for several years before tying the knot, but to be honest, I developed a bonafide, heart stopping crush on him the first time I saw his denim blue eyes and slightly crooked smile.  Too shy to talk to him, I’d find reasons to pass him in the hall at school just so I could see him.  

But even from the beginning when my breath would catch just trying to talk to him, friendship with a healthy dash of humor has always been our heartbeat.  To this day, there is still no other human on this planet that I’d rather spend my time with than that car-loving, mr.-fix-it, critter-wrangling man.

Which brings me to what has often been one of our greatest differences.  He could easily be a hermit.  He’s a loner.  He’s perfectly happy working away on a project, minding his business.  While he can be sweeter than southern iced tea, the man simply doesn’t like to socialize much.  Those who know him best, know that he has, what we all affectionately call, a people limit.  In general, the fewer the better.

Me, on the other hand, well I love people, sharing stories, and connecting.  I mean seriously, my first grade teacher didn’t call me the mouth-of-the-South for nothing.  So I’m often itching to go galavanting somewhere, to see or do or taste something new, to meet up with friends, or to just take a break from the farm.

Not Cowboy. Nope. Not one little bit.  What he does have is a deep down in his bones kind of contentment and satisfaction.  He knows who he is and what he wants.  And over time, I will be darned if that man is not rubbing off on me.  I swear, at least once a week I break out in laughter as I look at him and say, “You are successfully turning me into you.”

And as you can probably guess, he just smiles.   

My Farmtastic Lie - Cowboy and Ranger
One of my all-time favorite pics of Cowboy. That man continues to capture my heart each day, and boy can he make me laugh.

This winter, I have found that I can go weeks and weeks, barely leaving our beloved farm.  I am perfectly content to putter around, drink up the sunshine, and just be. Cowboy is so proud.  

Cowboy and his contentment have taught me so much.    The realization that you can define for yourself exactly who you want to be.  That you can love so deeply and be so connected to a place, a person, a passion that the noise from the outside really doesn’t matter.  It’s not about loading up your days with busy.

It’s been in this season of freezing temperatures and shorter days that I have truly settled in.  Had a chance to reflect on this major milestone we are approaching, of who we were and who we are.  And I am grateful.  

Once a social butterfly, I now consider myself more like a faithful old hound dog. Learning that it is not about the quantity of activities but about the quality of them. Knowing that when it comes to the heart of the matter, it’s about friendship and kindness, and well, just simply being who you were always meant to be.  May we all be so lucky to have someone rub off on us, someone who can show us the way.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

What’s in a Word?

As we welcome November and the promise of cooler weather, turkey leftovers, and family gatherings, we also enter the official spokes-month for gratitude.  A time when we take a personal inventory of all that we are grateful for – from people to things, jobs to homes, children to critters.  All of us have something to be thankful for, even in our darkest moments, and for many of us we can swell up with a feeling of being blessed.

But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this word blessed.  No doubt it’s trending right now – you can find it on everything from dish towels to picture frames.  And it’s a perfectly good word.  But it’s also a word that I think we sometimes get mixed up with grateful.

You see, blessed is a passive word, whereas grateful is an active word.  Someone gives you a blessing, but you have to take an action to be grateful.  Being grateful is a decision.  We are fond of saying that God has blessed us.  And trust me, I wholeheartedly believe He has, but maybe just not in the way we think.

Now if you feel like I’m on the edge of blasphemy here, please stick with me. I promise this will turn out okay.  

Let’s say you have a beautiful home and a good job.  It’s easy to say, “I’m so blessed.”  But here’s the flip side.  Is the person who lost their job not blessed?  The person who is working two jobs just to make ends meet less blessed?  

Or think about how often you’ve heard the phrase, “I’m blessed with good health.”  Great, but does that mean the person who has cancer is not blessed?  That they somehow incurred wrath from somewhere?

I can hear you thinking, “No way.  That’s not what I meant at all.”  

And I’m with you.  What we really mean is that we are grateful for our homes, our jobs, our health.  And we would never want our gratitude to be confused for the belief that we have somehow received divine preference over our neighbors.

Blessings are something that we, the collective humanity, share.  Nature and life itself are blessings.  Things we can all enjoy.  I, personally, don’t believe they are doled out to a few, and I don’t believe they always look like we would expect them to.

And while this may seem like a game of semantics, words really do matter. (Yes, I was an English major, so humor me with this one for moment.)  Think about someone whose world is falling apart.  If you are busy talking about your blessings, things that are received, where does that leave them?  It leaves them feeling like they are walking around under a dark cloud, out of sorts, out of favor.

Rather, share your gratitude.  Your zest to acknowledge all that is beautiful, from the smallest to the greatest moments.  Trust me, I am a recovering blessing user myself.  I used to liberally smatter blessings here, there, and everywhere.  But after reading an article about the importance of our words, I realized I was truly filled with gratitude.  I wanted to wish people a beautiful day, a day with at least one moment of happy, and leave blessings to the big guy.

So as you start to make your plans for family dinners, school activities, and get togethers with friends, I encourage you to think about those words that are most meaningful for you and those you love.  How will they impact others?  How can you share your gratitude?  

P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Blank Space

I’ve always loved to organize and clean out. I hate to clean – you know the dusting, mopping, toilet scrubbing variety – but I absolutely, 100 percent love to clean out a closet, organize a drawer, or set up a system. I once even organized my mother-in-law’s pantry as a surprise while she was away on a trip. Is my love of organization a sickness? Perhaps.

I’ve been known to clean out a closet and then continue to walk by it throughout the day, open it up, and gaze in satisfaction as all of the things are neatly lined up and in their place. For me, there is a sense of accomplishment and order in this action. Please tell me that I am not alone here?

On the farm, I even get a little nuts with the critters, and when I am totally on top of my organizational game, each horse has a signature color complete with feed bucket and matching rope and halter set. Okay, yes, I might have a problem because I can guarantee you the horses care not one little itty bitty bit what color their buckets and halters are when it’s feeding time. Shocker, I know.

As I work to keep things in order, lately, it seems like our house has become a pass through for stuff. I buy things, organize things, remove things, and buy more things. We’ve constantly got a give-away pile going – we’re donating stuff to charities for auction and fundraising, donating to the local thrift store, giving things away to friends. I’ve even got one dear girlfriend who has a closet full of amazing shoes, well because Zappos and I have become entirely too good of friends, and I only have so much room.

However, if I’m honest, this constant give away pile is driving me a little batty. Recently, I said to Cowboy, “What if we just pull back a little? There’s nothing we need. What if we just bask in being grateful?” To which he whole-heartedly agreed on many levels, but especially since he is the financial wiz of the household (or farmhold, is that even a word?). Every time the give away pile grows, he does the math of what we’ve spent on things we don’t need and things that fundamentally don’t make life better.

For me, sometimes I accumulate things because I am looking for the perfect combination of things. As if it at some point, there is the concept of never needing to buy another thing. If I have the perfect combination of shoes for potential occasions. If I have just right set of cookbooks. If I have one more inspirational sign. (Gosh, I just love a good inspirational sign.)

But here’s the deal. There will never be the absolute right combination of things, because life’s not about things. And more than ever, I’m realizing it’s about the soulful, grace soaked journey and not about arriving at some mythical destination where you know all you need to know and have every imaginable combination of things you could possibly conjure up. Life is not perfect. It’s a beautifully imperfect, personal journey we all must take and define for ourselves.  And at the heart of it is gratitude, and sometimes so much physical clutter just gets in our way.

I’m learning that this search for the right combination of stuff is just a search to fill up space, a space that signals some sort of arrival or accomplishment. But blank space can be amazing space. It’s a place that allows us to imagine, to create, to find inspiration. And if we are always filling up all of our space with more stuff, rotating through the stuff, and adding new stuff, we are often missing the point.

Look, I’m a girl who loves to shop – from Amazon to a local boutique – I absolutely love the thrill of the hunt. But for me, at this point in my life, I’m starting to see the beauty in the blank space. In the thrill of the experience, the laughter, the creativity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stuff is evil or bad. Stuff is what you make of it and what you let it become to and for you. Things can hold treasured memories. Things can inspire you. Things can provide much needed functions. What’d I’d say is just don’t let the things define you, because you are so much more than the sum of your things.

And on that note, I’m off to organize a closet, and enjoy not filling up the blank space