Writing our stories with gratitude in mind
When the book of your life is written, and you've finished the race, completing the "dash" between the dates of your birth and your death, what will people remember about you the most?
I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Life seems to be moving faster than I would like. My once busy toddlers are now growing into mature and capable big kids. The last decade flew by in the blink of an eye, and it's crazy to think in another decade, I'll have teenagers in my home preparing to enter into the real world as adults.
Have you ever wanted time to slow down and speed up all at the same time? We've been in a busy, hectic season of life. The kids are starting to get more active in extra curricular activities, which means we are now in the car and running alot of evenings. The ranch continues to have demands, and as we build our herd, there are growing pains. Managing full-time jobs on top of it, it seems like there are never enough hours in the day to get things done.
Can you relate?
I'm guessing you can.
I know I'm not the only one in this boat. I speak at agricultural events across the country, and I hear the stress in your voice; I see the fatigue in your eyes and slumped shoulders; I can feel the weight of the world pressing down on so many farm and ranch families; and, quite often, these conferences are a small vacation from the larger tasks waiting for them back at home.
And if we are all being honest, sometimes we can let the to-do lists stress us out and wreak havoc in our lives. For myself, it can become an attitude that lacks in gratitude as I mull over how hard we work and how very little free time we have to enjoy each other.
One day, as I washed dishes and watched the kids out of my kitchen window play in the backyard, I realized how lucky I truly was to live this life and raise these kids in an agricultural setting.
Yes, there will always be bills to pay. Yes, there will always be the cow that gets out, the fence that needs fixing, the hay that needs to be put up, the first-calf heifer that needs a little assistance, the tractor that breaks down, and whatever else comes up on the farm.
The stress and worry will always be there, but with a mindset shift, I realized I could begin to create a different story for myself and my family. I could fill the "dash" of my life with simple and meaningful moments. I could build a legacy alongside my husband that means something. I could continue a family tradition that goes back generations.
So I have begun changing the way I look at stressful and time-consuming tasks.
Instead of, "We have to haul hay today," I say, "We get to spend the day together hauling hay!"
Rather than saying, "We can't go to that event because we need to work cattle today," I tell the children, "We are choosing to work together as a family today, and I can't wait to see you help on the catwalk of the working chute!"
Instead of complaining about the feed bills, I remind myself how blessed we are that we can pay the feed bills.
Can you see the difference? Can you feel how it changes the whole perspective and tone for the day? It has really helped my outlook, and I encourage you to try it, too.
I know farming and ranching can be stressful, taxing, exhausting, and just plum hard. I get it because I live it every single day.
However, November reminds us that we are in a season of thankfulness. Let us take a moment to pause and reflect upon our many blessings. Let's make a conscious effort to focus on how fortunate we are to get to experience this lifestyle alongside our families. Let's practice an attitude of gratitude this month, and maybe that shift in perspective will carry us through 2022 and into the new year!
Amanda Radke is a South Dakota rancher, a writer, and motivational speaker, specializing in the beef industry, social media and consumer trends. Contact her at email@example.com.