Living a Grateful Life— Reasons To Be Grateful This Year

Thanksgiving. A time for family to gather together, share a meal, and give God thanks for a fruitful harvest.  This year, my Thanksgiving was a little different than most American’s. While most everyone else was sitting down to the family dinner table, I was sitting on a runway at the Minneapolis International Airport… not moving. Waiting. Waiting for the snow crews to clear the runway, so I could join my family later that evening. I had spent the few days prior in Canada at the Canadian Western Agribition Show. Like most people who finally board the plane and fasten their seat belts, I was ready to get home. My immediate reaction to killing time while belted into the seat? Yup, you guessed it…. Facebook. I began to read all the “Thanksgiving Blessings” that each of my friends were posting, and even took the time to share mine….

My Thanksgiving Blessings— “My Why”

But why is it that we wait until November to share our reasons to be thankful?  Its like we all fixate on whats wrong in our life and fail to focus on our blessings. We go through life like a cog in a machine focusing soley on what is right in front of us, as opposed to living like the independent self functioning people we all are and choose to focus on the blessings we have both big and small. I’ll be the first to admit… there are times, I get just as bogged down by life as the next person.  As we approach the holiday season, and begin the search for our New Year’s Resolutions, maybe we should all ponder how we can shift our focus to counting our blessings the entire year, as opposed to when the annual Thanksgiving holiday rounds the corner. What about all the blessings that we fail to acknowledge? The ones that are behind the scenes that ultimately without those blessings, our life would look and feel completely different… as I waited on the runway at the Minneapolis Airport, I gave some thought to my list of “Reasons To Be Grateful All Year”

  1. I am thankful for my parents. They laid the foundation of the importance of hard work, perseverance, and having faith in God.
  2. I am thankful for love and laughter. These are two of life’s greatest gifts. The presence of those two things can make or break my day.
  3. I am thankful for all the mentors that have changed and revolutionized my life.  I am grateful they gave me the chance to work and labor in an industry that I love. It is many of their ideas and associations that showed me how to push for progress and results.
  4. I am thankful for strength and health. Health and fitness is the key to living a long and fruitful life. The absolute fountain of youth.
  5. I am thankful for having the hunger to learn, grow, and serve. It is these traits that truly permeate my soul and my life and pushes me toward progress.— Progress. Some folks perspective of being grateful is to “be content with what God has blessed us with”. My personal feeling is being grateful is so much more than that. A grateful life is a life of hope. Sometimes being grateful is more than the gifts we have already received. It is the hope, almost an expectation that things are going to get better. This alone gives us the fuel to dare and the courage to leap toward the next goal or challenge that life has presented us with. It is those things and the hope for more that gives us PROGRESS. I think about mothering Lexi. Like any parent, you want more for your child than what you had. As a result, you push and encourage your children to take a chance and push forward for whatever goals they dream of. It is the hope of what could be for them that fuels our fire. That is NOT selfish. It is learning to be thankful for what we already have, while we pursue all that we want. It is using the talents that God blessed us with so we can use our blessings to bless others. Letting those talents expire without sharing them with the world, is not living God’s will.
  6. I am thankful for the pain and problems that I have experienced in my life. It has given me the power to grow and become more than I was before. All those experiences have brought me to where I am today. Granted, when I was going through those challenges, I often asked God, “why?”. It was those troubles that opened opportunities and unique experiences to flow my way which further blessed my life. Without those troubles, I would have never known some of the talents that I had buried inside of me or what true love is all about.

Thankfulness is just the beginning to living a fulfilled life. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. There are curveballs that get thrown at you, when you least expect it. It has often been said, “It is how you handle yourself when facing adversity and the least expected that determines your character.” The following are my tips to transitioning your life to a grateful one.

  • Smile. When you face a challenge or uncontrolled circumstance, always smile and remember you can always find something worse off than you, and look for something in that challenge to be thankful for. Even the smallest thing. It might be that one thing that gives you the hope to push forward. Smiling at someone that is having a bad day, changes the tone of the encounter and even the conversation.
  • Give yourself an inner pep talk. Your inner voice is important. Often times, it is negative. Begin reminding yourself of all your great things to be thankful for and that you can accomplish anything you want, if you want it bad enough that you are willing to do what everyone else won’t do to get it.
  • When you make a mistake in life (we all know we make plenty), learn from even the smallest things. Last weekend while getting the show cattle up, we closed all the gates, but the one man gate. What happened? The heifers went straight up to the barn and past their pens and through the man gate. It was like they knew it was open. Lesson learned? Have a solid plan, before beginning the project. Building the plane in flight, gives us set backs that if we just planned and executed right the first time, we would not have wasted so much time.
  • When I start to think about all the things that I don’t have or how crappy my life is at that given moment, it is my internal clue to see how I can help or bless someone else. Try it. It changes your tone and your outlook on your own life. Something simple like holding a door for someone, buying someones coffee, or even paying a simple complement, not only makes you feel good, but could even be the highlight of someone else’s day.

As I sat on the runway in Minneapolis, and we did not take off until we were supposed to be landing in St. Louis, these thoughts flooded through my head. This new perspective has helped me in work and life. When I got off the plane, Brock met me at the gate instead of waiting in the truck in the cell phone lot. I shared with him how thoughtful that was, which made him smile. When the TSA agent was sitting all alone with a blank stare on his face as I passed by, I smiled and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. He looked at me a little funny, and replied, “Thank you. You too, ma’am”. When my dealer called me on Monday morning, and told me to keep a grower, we had to get to $195 corn, I took a deep breath and began working on a new proposal– we hadn’t lost the sale. Sometimes being thankful and grateful requires us to appreciate the little things and its that perspective that can change our lives. Happy Holidays!


Vacations are for the “lazy people”

I was raised on a small family farm in southern Missouri. I was raised very simple, which has taught me so much and I will forever be grateful. As a kid, our “vacation” would consist of all the family and extended family packing up and carpooling to Six Flags St. Louis, 100 miles away and spending the day on the Screaming Eagle,  Ninja, Bumper Cars, and the Log Flume. The kids excitedly planned the day and un-patiently would wait in lines all for the 30 seconds of adrenaline rush from the rides. The dads, would ride with us, and we kids loved seeing our fathers resign their normal “we are farmers” attitude and enjoy the same rides that we kids did. All the mothers of the family packed lunches in coolers for each of us, and at lunchtime, we would excuse ourselves from the amusement park to the coolers in the trunks of the cars. I LOVED IT. I looked forward to that day all year long. It was easily one of the most highly anticipated days of “my” year. As I look back as an adult, it is a vivid memory, one that will never be forgotten and one that I have shared with Lexi many times. I remember longing for a Disney Land vacation or beach vacation but those days never seemed to happen. We were farmers, those vacations were for “rich people” and the “lazy people who only THOUGHT they worked hard”. Lets be honest, we went to Six Flags because we kids had earned free tickets for reading in school and we could keep the cost down by taking our lunch for our day vacation. We couldn’t afford those luxury vacations that many of my friends were taking, but me… I never knew any different. I loved our vacation just the same. I think back to those days and the waiting in lines and making lunches and wonder how those days were ever relaxing for our parents? Getting away from life’s hustle and bustle and not cooking are just two of the daily norms that I seek to get away from when I even begin to think about a vacation. Maybe it was just a simpler time then? Maybe it was just another example of the simple life we live where the kids and adults alike were just glad to “get away from the farm”, or maybe, it was another example of the selflessness of our parents who once again, put their kids needs and wants before their own. Whatever the reason, that vacation rejuvenated all of us, and us kids on the way home would excitingly chat about the funnies of the day until we would all fall asleep, no doubt, dreaming about the next year.

Rejuvenation. Such a powerful word that we all need in our lives. The need to hit the reset button. This is something we all need and we all find that in different places. I am a lucky girl. I just got back last night from the Bahamas. How lucky am I to escape cold, snowy, Missouri in March and come home 5 days later with arguably the best tan of my life? Some may say, how can they do that? I thought they were farmers? Others my say, wow… those vacations are for rich people, or just like when I was a kid, thought, well, they don’t work as hard as we do, we cannot do anything like that, there is just TOO MUCH TO DO. Let me tell you, “Yes” we are lucky, “Yes” we are farmers, just with great friends that come stay at our house for the duration of our trip to keep things rolling, “No” we are not rich, and “Yes.” I promise you, we will work just as hard as the next guy. Which is why we needed to hit the reset button. It seemed that this last year was awesome, and we were blessed, but the work flow never seemed to let up. You farmers out there know, it was a record harvest year, and on the cattle side, well, we have more hay than we have had as well. We enjoyed the warm sunny summer, but it was while working. Not hitting the river or lake that many of our friends were able to enjoy.

We escaped the winter for the sunny beach of the Sandals Royal Bahamian. We spent our days working out, walking the beach, playing some tennis and volleyball, and catching some rays. The best part? No cell reception, no expectations, no cooking, yet awesome food whenever we were hungry or thought we were hungry, and we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. The only real contact with home was checking in with Gregg and Brian to make sure all was good on the farm and FaceTiming Lexi. I cannot tell a lie, it took a few days for us to completely hit the reset button. It is habit to grab the phone, check the email, send a quick text “just to make sure they remembered __________.” However, after a few days in, were were present in Bahamian life. Swim suits, sun, and enjoying our time together were our priorities.

For me, the true benefit of a vacation is the after affect. Kind of like the after burn when you work out. Its the ability to handle life’s challenges without killing someone! It helps to clear your head and regroup your thoughts. There is something about watching and listening to the waves coming to the shore that helps hit that reset button. Its an amazing way to spend your morning or while catching an afternoon nap on the beach. This last week, as I lay there and watched the waves, I began to think. The ocean waves are much like life’s ups and downs. Sometimes, there are strong waves or challenges that can flat knock you down. Those waves can be underestimated and cause you to take a big gulp of salt water that probably won’t taste the best. But you get up and face the next wave. Some waves are small and calm… peaceful. Regardless of the size of the wave, have you ever looked at the sand after the water regresses away? It is smooth and perfect. A reminder that everything in life is all in God’s plan and meant to shape and form you into the person you are intended to become.

Just like my simple childhood taught me to appreciate God’s blessings both large and small, I am blessed to live a life that allows me to take a break and appreciate the world. My world has grown larger than simply driving to St. Louis to Six Flags, but those annual Six Flags trips helped shape me into me. I am blessed to have had those few days together with Brock. Not only was it rejuvenating for our minds, but also for our relationship. We were able to just enjoy being together without the stresses of daily life weighing us down. Enjoying the Sun!

We were welcomed home to 20 degree weather, snow, and lost a baby calf. The ability to hit the reset button allowed us to take life’s challenges as it come and accept that we will never save every calf. We are prepared for a busy spring with a new sense of purpose and energy. For those who still think vacations are for lazy people or people that don’t work as hard, I promise once you take your own break and truly ‘feel’ the benefits, I promise your perspective may change. The reset button works on all our electronic devices, why wouldn’t it work on us too?