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“Should we go ? We’ve got so much work to do on this farm .”  “We got an invitation to the wedding, but I didn’t know I was expected at the bridal shower.” “Our daughter was always sorry her dad couldn’t leave the field for a day to attend her graduation.”

Celebrations abound in the summer. Graduations, weddings, anniversaries, family re-unions, campfires, baptisms and birthdays. The excuses for not attending may seem valid if the farm work is overwhelming, but 10 years from now will you regret not showing up ?

Dr. Nikki Gerrard’s 12 year study of farm families called “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” showed that rural folks who took time to celebrate and connect with community were far more resilient to the storms and bumps of life.

Strong families celebrate.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It’s the act of connecting with friends and family to share stories, laughter, and even struggles.

I don’t know about you, but we don’t nearly have the parties that we used to,  and I miss that. When we celebrated our 25th anniversary on July 4th (yes , we got married on Independence Day !) we cleaned out the new shed, invited folks for a barbequed hamburger, watermelon and ice cream . The drinks were pop served on a silver platter by “Wittman” our white-gloved butler,  an old high school friend in a very convincing costume. We wanted to celebrate our marriage and cherish our connections to friends. Steve Bell gave a concert on our flatbed trailer in the shed and our son’s rock band was the warm up act. It was a lot of fun . In years gone by 25th Anniversaries were formal events replete with corsages and silver trays, but today folks seem to slip off to a private holiday , and don’t want to draw attention to milestone events. We were honoured to a 75th anniversary which was an unforgettable experience, and a great encouragement to stay committed.

Family picnics are an inexpensive way to draw the clan together for volleyball, potluck goodies, and a campfire to cement family stories into the minds of the next generation. My Aunt Lois is the driver for our family picnics, the glue that keeps the cousins connecting. When you lose a parent, or both parents, are you going to be the one in your family that ensures you celebrate together?

Social graces have changed over the past three decades. Wedding showers used to be a community event for the entire town to show support for the new couple. RSVP still means “respondez s’il vous plait” , ie. please tell us if you are coming to the wedding, but unfortunately some folks haven’t learned this etiquette. Weddings and funerals are important rituals that have similar elements, just different timelines for planning.

There seems to be a trend towards avoiding the funeral service, and I think that is unfortunate. The “life celebration” is not for the deceased, it’s really about helping the grieving process for the friends and family left behind. The cost of the funeral can be decreased when the community contributes food and practical support. People remember the folks who took the time to “be present”. If you’ve been thinking something to give your adult kids who have everything, give them your funeral plans ( see my website article “Is Your Funeral Planned ?” at www.elainefroese.com )

Making time to celebrate the beginning of life at baby showers, the joining of life at weddings and the end of life at funerals is the rhythm of life we need to respect and engage.

I have a Facebook page, but I don’t spend hours every day on it. I feel silly learning more about my nieces and nephews on Facebook, than in real life since we don’t connect on a regular basis. A phone call on your cell or Skype with video is a better connection option than just words on the computer.

Not all family members want to connect . I receive calls prior to the major holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, “when the kids are supposed to be coming back to the farm.” Widows want to know when it is safe to talk about transition of the business. I suggest enjoying the celebration day as a family fun day, and leave the business talk for Monday morning. Book the flight out for Tuesday.

At some point in life we realize that “expectations can be a shortcut to discontent”. Are you expecting too much at your party ?  If you can chat about your intent to have fun and just enjoy being together, things may be smoother.  My brother was kind enough to bring along his girlfriend to our 25th, and she just happened to have a whack of catering experience. It was the start of a great friendship ! I didn’t have great expectations of perfection, the menu was kept simple, and everyone had a good time.

“I’d love to invite you over for supper Elaine, but my carpet and drapes don’t match.”

I am not kidding, I was the “district home economist” at the time. People can come up will all sorts of reasons why celebrating or connecting with you doesn’t work for them. Let those folks go their own way and find the herd that is happy to holler with you.  We’ve adopted some young families with children who need “adopted” aunties and uncles. It’s been a delight to share campfires with them for birthday parties, and have them over for soup and buns.

So what is stopping your family from having more fun this summer?

1. “Work is never done.” Okay. Leave the workaholics behind and go on your own.

2. “We can’t afford to party.” Potluck works well for birthdays and camping suppers. You’ll save a lot with Judy’s Ice Tea. : Steep 4 Red Rose Tea bags in 120 oz of hot tap water. Remove the bags and stir in a can of frozen lemonade. Chill. Enjoy. A large restaurant pickle jar is 120 oz., just up to where the jar starts to curve in.

3.”I don’t know what to wear.” These days casual seems to work for everything. I was taught to be dressed-up, and I have a game of re-arranging my closet to find something “new to me.” Someone once said, you are not totally dressed until you are wearing a smile. I am sure that people who are your genuine friends really just want you to show up, and they won’t be judging your attire.

4. “I can’t plan ahead that far.”  Right. Being intentional about what you need for fun in your life is your choice. Have a  flexible plan. Sometimes a phone call will be plan B, but other times you won’t regret making the actual effort to be there in person. Folks say that your “actions speak louder than words.” They feel appreciated when you chose to celebrate with them. Remember , we rural folks need all the resilience we can get.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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