Not Jumping In: Veggie Share Week #9 – 8/4/21
Stress pulls at us farmers – just like it pulls at everyone else.
Diseases damage crops we’ve worked hard to produce.
Or crops can unexpectedly do so well that suddenly we don’t have enough hands to harvest them!
Drought causes us to spend many many many extra unplanned hours moving irrigation.
A virus runs through the crew and you experience sick days and lost help.
All businesses and enterprises experience their ups and downs. But what makes farming often so different is the sheer unpredictability of it all due to the variables of weather and disease. We have to plan and adapt constantly.
My oldest daughter is approaching twelve. Her hormones are in full gear and she can go from steady and smiling, to crying and upset in an instant. She is experiencing her own kind of unpredictability these days.
One of the things that rocks her is when things don’t go the way she expected. They don’t even have to go badly, just not the way she expects. And when that happens, she falls apart. She cries. She laments. She gets stuck in the problem – for hours. As her parent, I am trying to help her learn how to move forward through the anger or frustration or sadness, to acceptance and problem solving.
It’s rather phenomenal how long she can get stuck in the drama of something not going right. And often, as an observer, I can see how that drama then snowballs into other problems for her. Let’s say she can’t find a shoe. She wastes so much time lamenting that she can’t find the shoe, yelling at whoever she things is responsible for her not being able to find her shoe, asking why does it have to happen to her that she can’t find her shoe, etc…. that she stops looking for the shoe and doesn’t think about where else it might be. She gets so stuck in the drama that she can’t step back and think about how to solve the problem. Snowball time. Lost shoe = late = more stress. And the poor thing gets more and more upset, more and more lost in the pool of anger and frustration at something not going the way she wants.
It’s hard to watch as a parent. Learning how not to linger or get trapped in the frustration of a problem existing is a skill that takes learning. I watch as she struggles with her frustration. I watch as she gets trapped in the negative feelings, unable to move herself forward. And, because she’s a pre-teen and I’m her farmer (aka problem-solver) mother, often any attempts I make to help her transition are met with anger, resistance, or dramatic claims that I don’t understand.
The other reason that it’s hard to watch, is because as an adult, I still don’t have this skill fully mastered myself. It’s easy to watch my daughter get lost in her drama of a lost shoe and be able to step back from it and recognize it as an easily solvable problem that only gets solved when the drama ends and the problem-solving begins. But when it’s my own small drama, my own stress? Not having enough hands to get the onions out; yet another sick call from a crew member; not enough room in the our coolers for the amazing food that needs to come out of the field RIGHT now; a broken down cooler that’s not gonna keep everything cold enough for the night; the cost of yet another repair….. these stressed swimming through my mind this week don’t feel so small and easily solvable.
Even as a 42 year old I have to practice stepping back and not jumping into the pool of anger and frustration over things not going the way I want/expect/hope it to. I have to remind myself that any stress or agitation surrounding a problem is only worsened the longer I linger in my frustration of its existence. A clear mind and a problem-solving attitude is what best keeps my stress at bay.
And so I imagine myself standing at the edge of a pool full of stress, of problems, of luxurious feelings of being a victim. A pool where I could jump in and float around on my frustrations of a situation. Tempting. Sometimes I can imagine myself just about to jump in – muscles contracted and ready to spring.
On a good day, I can catch myself in that feeling and step back. I don’t jump in. I avoid getting wet entirely. Still dry, I can immediately focus on what to do next based on the situation at hand.
On a not so good day, I jump in. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve done it – until I notice I’m wet.
So as I watch my daughter struggle, as I feel myself walk up to the edge of the pool, I remember what a tough tough skill this is… how hard it can be for anyone, at any age, in any situation, to not jump in.
Here’s hoping you have a moment or two (or many!) this week where you stay dry.
I know I’m gonna keep on trying not to jump in.