Some very happy pigs in the mud. (Corey Bullock file)

Some very happy pigs in the mud. (Corey Bullock file)

Farm life: Finding the strength within

In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry: be kind, be calm, be safe.

When I first set out to write this week’s column, it ended up being more of a rant. Compared to my typical, positive outlook, I found myself writing a long-winded exhausting tale of why I am currently fed up.

After some deliberation and a few hours away from my words, I decided it would behove me to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives, of what I am currently experiencing.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I am tired. Not tired from working too hard or because there’s a million things on my to-do list any given day. I’m tired of the way people are treating one another. I’m tired of people thinking this pandemic is some sort of hoax. I’m tired of people not wearing masks. I’m tired of this pandemic. I’ll say it. It sucks.

That said, just because I’m tired does not mean I have an excuse to treat others with disrespect. It does not mean I can hang out in large groups of people or forgo wearing a mask in public. In fact, one way I find energy and motivation is to treat myself and others with kindness. On the rare occasion I find myself with little patience – I do something to change that.

I am reminded daily of the fact that there are many critters out there unaware of the goings on of the rest of the world (lucky them). My dogs have no clue that we’ve all been dealing with a pandemic. They are always happy to see me and they enjoy my presence no matter my mood. They also ask for help when they need it, albeit in different ways. A paw on the leg. A head tilt. Looking at me while they bark at a tree.

“Mom, could you help me get that squirrel down from the branch up there?” I digress.

The pigs on the farm often brawl, snorting and pushing at one another in an effort to remain victorious in their quest for food. They make up moments later though, cuddling in the mud. The hens do as they always do, search for grub and lay eggs. None of the creatures on the farm spend time scrolling through comments on Facebook.

When everything becomes too much and I feel like I’m living on another planet, I do something. I’ll go for a walk and observe the pigs rooting through the mud. It’s fascinating work, really. Their snouts are so strong. Some dig in more of a pattern, a circle almost, while others seem to root willy-nilly. They’re not focused on anything else.

Then, I might stand amongst the trees and take a deep breath (or five). I read the newspaper the old fashioned way instead of reading it on my phone or laptop (that is an option, you know). I take a break from social media for a few days.

I get outside. I challenge myself by doing something I’ve never done before. I chop wood and take out my frustration on the biggest round I can find. I do something kind for someone. I call my family. I take a run. I have a shower. I force myself to smile in the mirror. I do whatever it is that I need to do to come back down to earth. Then, I practice gratitude.

I understand that not everyone lives this way. Not everyone wants to. I’m lucky to live where I do and to have the opportunities that I do, but I also work really hard to make those things happen. And when I’m struggling, I find the strength within to deal with my feelings or I ask for help.

If you are struggling, reach out to someone. B.C. has plenty of online resources for mental health. There is also a free phone line (310Mental Health Support) you can call to be connected with a professional, anonymously. If you need help finding a service you can call 811 any day of the year. Whether you’re tired like me, or angry, or sad, your feelings are valid. Just know that it doesn’t serve you to make someone else feel that way. I may be tired, but I also have the opportunity each and every day to be a better person.

“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman