In October, the month of thanksgiving, we try to cut through all the difficulties in life and be thankful for what we do have
Thanksgiving is one of my favourite celebrations of the year, simply because it calls me to give thanks with a grateful heart. It’s a marker in our year after harvest as we gather at church to view the display of wheat, garden gifts, and celebrate with a bountiful meal. We also are blessed to share the bounty of the harvest with others across the globe who receive our mission gifts.
Are you celebrating with an attitude of gratitude this fall? It’s been a year since my mother-in-law, whom I loved dearly, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She passed away in January 2009, yet her legacy of living generously lives on in our hearts. I am thankful that her love still grounds me when I encourage my daughters-in-law.
Celebration is one of the key factors for strong farm families to be able to bounce back from the bumps of life. Dr. Nikki Gerrard’s research showed that those farmers who can step back and celebrate what is good in their world are more resilient to the stresses of farm life’s messes.
As I write this, I am reflecting on a workshop led by David Gouthro (www.theconsultingedge.com <http://www.theconsultingedge.com), an expert facilitator. He emphasized the importance of looking for “what is right in the group” before working at solving the issues that need to be addressed. He showed the Dewitt Jones DVD “Celebrating what’s right in the world.” (You can preview the DVD at www.celebratetraining.com <http://www.celebratetraining.com> .)
The tear jerker for me was the Scottish Highland farmer who took great delight in showing Dewitt his weight tossing skills, which ultimately became the photo for a global whiskey ad. After many relatives across the globe saw the photo, they became intrigued and journeyed to Scotland to check out their farmer cousin in person. This led to the largest gathering of the clan in several decades, and they had a wonderful celebration. This joyous occasion started with a photograph driven by the curiosity of Dewitt Jones and culminated in amazing connections.
Why am I telling you this?
This curiosity about visiting the farm was a huge gift to me just six weeks ago. I was attending the International Succession conference in Quebec City and I heard a young woman with a New Zealand accent asking very tough questions to the guest speaker. I approached her with my card and my book sensing that I needed to learn more from her. She responded by saying, “Elaine, when can I come to visit your farm?” I said, “How about next week?”
Her name is Mandi Mcleod, a farm consultant, and New Zealand farmer. As a Nuffield scholar, she is traveling the world studying farm succession tools. Her gift to me was visiting our farm. She stayed for six days. We talked and talked, made meals for the field together, and enjoyed our common passion to make a difference with farm family transitions. We also shared coaching over speakerphone with a farm client dealing with the tough issues of farm fairness.
While Mandi was here, she photographed the combines consuming the standing wheat, and our family sharing a meal in the field. Her artful photos captivated my Toronto audience a few days later as I shared the unique culture of agriculture. The city folks were amazed at the acres, the investments, and the risks and challenges we take in stride as farm families.
Mandi was moved when she saw the writing on the wall in our foyer: “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” This quote speaks to me, and to Mandi. As farm coaches, we are focused on making a difference by celebrating what’s right in agriculture and in families and working on the issues that keep us from seeing what’s right in the world.
Get out and take some photos to share with friends. I’m prescribing more parties for us all. Let’s invite folks to our farms. Let’s encourage more Nuffield scholars from Canada to learn and share. (www.nuffield.ca <http://www.nuffield.ca> )
We live an amazing life. Invite someone to come celebrate what’s right on your farm. If you visit our farm, you bring the bagpipes, and I’ll do the fling. Celebrate!