Tag Archives: coping with stress

The Displaced Farmer: Frustration, compost, Hubie Brown & the things that make it all worthwhile

Sweet banana peppers coming back after a sketchy start.  Not out of the woods yet with wet weather still around.

Sweet banana peppers coming back after a sketchy start. Not out of the woods yet with wet weather still around.

For area gardeners, this has been a tricky summer.  Excessive heat, along with sporadic, torrential rainfall has our plants not knowing what the bleep is going on.  We’re finding out that as much as the rain is a bountiful source of nourishment, it’s also a cradle of disease and disaster.

Bacterial, viral and fungal ailments flourish in the wet, muddy environment that’s been so prevalent these past few weeks.  And once they take hold, they can be a bitch to get rid of.

What to do in the midst of all this frustration becomes the question.  I’ve written before about the importance of faith; faith in yourself, in God and/or Providence.  Think about it and you find, in that context, we have more in common with our agriculturally-driven ancestors than we realize.

They had more than just a summer garden at stake and had no farmers’ markets or Whole Foods to tide them along the way.  For them, after frustration came prayer and a rethinking of the problem.  If nothing else, they were tenacious; they had to be.

So, I’m going to go back to basics, back to the dirt (back, back to the tar pits!).  I’ll lay a mulch of compost across everything and once that’s done, I’ll attempt to channel my inner Hubie Brown (NBA analyst and former NBA coach for those of you who can’t place the name) in that there’s “plenty of time” to turn things around and give my harvest a modicum of success.  Coming into the start of the fourth quarter of summer, I figure you either stop wasting water ($$$) and scrap your whole season or dig down and as they say, leave it all out there on the field.  Tenacity and plenty of time.

And the things that make it worthwhile?  Well, Thursday while watering, I saw a grasshopper, a baby.  Suddenly looking down at my hose, there it was, just sitting there, I think watching me.  Who can tell with those eyes?  I haven’t seen a grasshopper in my yard for years; you just don’t see them in the hood like that anymore, at least not in mine.  So, gardeners can change an ecosystem even if it starts with their own little one behind or beside their home, it appears

And yesterday, while watering an azalea, a small bird creeps up close slowly, really close.  It’s one of those instances when you question if the animal is sick, it’s so unafraid of humans.  But it didn’t seem sick, it was wary of me and tentative; a few hops, followed by an intense “what are you gonna do?” look.  Eventually, he settled at my feet, at the pooling water surrounding the azalea.  In the end, he took his eyes off of me and proceeded to drink, all the while I’m standing there amazed that this creature would approach me this closely and the level of trust (or thirst, lets be real) that allowed him to do that.  He drinks his fill after which he hopped back under the lilac and went on his way.  Now, I’m going to have to get a bird bath for the garden cause you know he told his boys.

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Money worries perpetuate themselves, create stress

In other words, if you have money, you worry about keeping and maintaining money.  It’s a simple truth; uncomplicated yet elusive.  But the quicker you accept that fact the faster you’ll become more prepared to deal and survive in these still unforgiving economic times.

It’s been three years since my spouse was laid off from her job.  Actually, she was fired without cause after 16 years and offered no severance package.  No need to go into any further details, since hers is not a unique situation.  Seniors, boomers and other long term employees about ready to cash out and retire, have all had to face the same heartless, and possibly unscrupulous, tactics put forth by employers under the guise of catchy new age names, like re-structuring and reorganization.

But the verdict was in, and the deed was done.  As she draws nearer to that glorious end day (early retirement), we try to relax as we’ve become somewhat accustomed to the ebb and flow of our savings.  We discovered that preparation was essential and can’t imagine these past few years without the help of both of our companies 401K and savings plans.  Since her separation, we’ve utilized funds from both in an effort to keep our proverbial heads above the waters of abject poverty.  But in doing so, as we watched our savings account accumulate and deplete routinely over time, we’ve realized a few things.

As the sole bread winner, I’ve experienced many a sleepless night these past 411 days as the stress from our situation plagues me; my wife as well, I’m sure.  But as our dollar amount decreased, my stress level took an unexpected downturn.  It seems that once the money was gone (or almost gone) then so too was the pressure associated with holding on to it.  It became, more simply, a matter of survival and no longer one of maintaining wealth (however meager), in addition to survival.  Still, losing money in an effort to combat stress is not the sole answer to the problem.  There are other things to be done in order to maintain good mental and physical health.

Keeping a positive attitude, above all else I think, is important.  Be thankful for what you have and not what you want (or need, for that matter).  You have to know and trust in yourself (if you’re an Atheist) and/or the Lord (if you’re a Christian) that you will be OK; that you and yours will make it despite whatever befalls you.   Get plenty of rest and exercise.   Maintain a healthy diet; your mind will follow the lead of your body.  In other words, if your body is healthy and happy, an unhappy mind is a bit harder to sustain.  Jump-start your metabolism by drinking plenty of water and eating multiple servings of fruits and green vegetables daily.   Sounds corny and routine but trust me, it helps.  Have fun, as much as you can under the circumstances.  Carry on a good sex life.  Do things together as a family; take walks, go on picnics.  There’s free stuff out there to do in life that’s mentally rewarding.  Do what it takes to take your mind off your economic circumstances for a short while.  Finally, pay yourself first.  This oft-times touted accountant’s directive takes on a new meaning in these troublesome times.   For me, it means prioritizing my spending with emphasis on me and mine and our happiness and well-being.

Now, I’m not saying that you should stop paying your bills but rather that you find a complimentary mid-point where doing so doesn’t hurt so much.  Look to slow that monthly hemorrhaging of cash from your wallet by reducing that cable or smart phone bill.  In the wake of so many Wall Street bail-outs and ever increasing legislator’s salaries, tax loopholes for the rich and the damaging political stalemate in Washington, I find thinking about my survival and contentment, along with my wife’s before anything else, a very easy thing to do.

“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.”


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