I am sitting here in my office, on New Year's Eve 2020, looking out over my farm. I am thinking about what is to come in the next year and reflecting on the past year. As I do this, I can't help but smile. "Chris! You say you are reflecting on 2020 but you also say your smiling? What is wrong with you?!" Well, to be quite frank, 2020 was an amazing year for me personally! That is not to say it did not have its ups and downs. Nor is it to say that I didn't start getting into a funk at moments. However, once I made the conscious decision to change my way of thinking, 2020 turned into a stellar year!
Like I said, 2020 was far from perfect. Jessica's job turned into a nightmare in 2020. She was super busy and stressed out more often than not. Despite that, she also learned to be present for me and for her kids in a way that I did not think was in her. She has always had one of those workaholic personalities, and that has not changed. The difference is, when she finishes her 12 to 14 hour work day, she is ours completely. We talk about us. We work on our things. We share the portion of our life that belongs to us and not the life that belongs to her employer. That's not to say that we don't share our days and our work woes with one another, but when she is done working, she is done working.
2020 is the year I was "forced" to work from home. Two hours of my day were gained from not commuting. The ability to toss in a load of laundry and get right back to work freed up the better part of Sunday to do things with my wife and kids. The ability to run out and fill a water or feed bucket in the middle of the day meant that we could add animals to our farm that we might not have been able to otherwise. I also had the opportunity to prove how productive I can be for my employer while working from home. There is a very real and very good possibility that I may be able to keep working from home even when people do start returning to the office.
2020 was the year that we learned more about homesteading and farming than we had in every year of our lives combined. Some lessons were good like, if you need it and don't have it, BUILD IT! Or, an irrigation system gives you back your life. Some lessons were bad like, if you don't watch the weather, your life saving irrigation system will freeze and rupture. Or, if you are complaining about the intensity of the heat, you could have chickens dying of heat exhaustion. That lesson was a bad one.
In April and May of 2020, we found ourselves in the same place as a whole lot of people. I was thinking about quitting YouTube. I did not yet have computer access to work from home, and despite having an entire day free to work the farm, I was sitting on my hind parts all day. The kids hardly wanted to get out of bed. We all just sat around on weekends. We had the Corona Slump bad. Until Jess said, "Enough is Enough! Set your alarms. Get up and make your beds. Take a shower!" She pointed out that people were losing their livelihoods all over the world and we were bummed because we couldn't see our friends. She instituted a regiment in true Drill Sergeant fashion. One kid works on homework, one kid entertains the five year old, and one kid works on a project outside. Two and a half hour rotation at each station and then the rest of the day is yours to do what you want with. "And Chris. You are going to oversee the projects, make sure the homework is getting done, and help them come up with things for the little to do." MA'AM! YES MA'AM!!! I didn't know it at the time but what she was saying was, "Be the captain of your own life!"
This became clear about a month ago when I read a quote by Jim Rohn. "It's not the blowing of the wind that determines your destination, it's the set of the sail." Knowing that he was an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, I was intrigued. So I did what I do best. I researched it to death. Did you know that using a technique called tacking, a sail boat can travel almost directly into the wind. SAY WHAT!!! I always thought that you were at the mercy of the wind on a sailboat. That's not the case y'all. With enough practice a sailboat captain can go in any direction they chose.
Metaphorically speaking the wind is life's circumstances good or bad. Sometimes we have a direction in mind and the wind is directly at our back pushing us right where we want to go. Other times, the skies open up, a torrential downpour begins and a punishing headwind smacks us right in the face. If we really take an honest look at our lives we realize, most of the time the wind is somewhere in between. It's pretty indifferent to what we are doing It's in those headwind moments that we have to make a decision. Do we go below deck and let the wind push us where it wants us to go. De we let the storm rip at our sail and beat against our mast. Or do we adjust our tack and, well if I'm being frank, make the wind our bitch!
If we lose a job we can sit and mope or we can take the opportunity to do something new. If we lose a loved one we can let our sadness paralyze us, or we can honor that person by combining our sadness with our love for him or her to form a passion. Perhaps a passion for something he or she believed was important. If we don't have the money to do what we want, we can be envious of those that do have money, or we can come up with a creative way to improve our cash flow. If we find out we have diabetes, we can cut off our own feet or do what we have to do make sure we get to see our grandkids. That later was my choice this year and I'm down 30 pounds because of that decision.
Life will suck sometimes. Fighting a headwind is exhausting. 2021 will not be storm free. But as they say in the military, just embrace the suck. If you push into a storm, you get through to the back side of it much faster. So cinch down your life vest, adjust your tack, and force 2021 to be a stellar year for you.