I have always believed in my three “F’s”, but to be upfront and honest they were a distant thought. Growing up, I knew that we were not the wealthiest of families. My parents provided everything I needed for a great childhood, but we did not have lavish family trips or expensive material items. We got by, as many family farms did throughout the 80s and 90s.
So, the truth of it all is the following:
- I was not interested in farming because I saw the hardships my father went through to provide for us.
- I knew that one day I wanted a family but honestly was more focused on success in terms of money and power than starting kids young.
- I was overweight most of my life and used eating and unhealthy activities as stress relief.
Looking ahead twenty years (not kidding but 40 is hard to swallow some days) I truly have focused on these three aspects of life and they’ve provided me with an incredible foundation that I’ve been able to build upon both personally and professionally.
Leaving the family farm, I had a focus on business right from the start. I took a job in Calgary during my third year of university because I was going to be the farm boy turned big city. That lasted all of two weeks before I learned that I was an introvert, and people stressed me out.
Back to Saskatoon, I went after convocation because this seemed like a small center compared to our Alberta brother. Again, it wasn’t long before I missed the open air and freedom of being outside the city limits. For the next ten years, I focused on getting back to the farm, in whatever way possible.
During this time, my father made every opportunity available for me to return. I worked as a full-time accountant and farmer for a decade before deciding to become a farm kid once again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am back in the big city and I’m happy, but at the time, this was the sole purpose every day. Become a farmer and live the lifestyle. They always say, “farming is in the blood,” I don’t believe that, but there may be something in the water that keeps us there.
My wife and I decided to grow our family right in the middle of moving out to the farm; why not make the two biggest decisions of our lives in six months? Little did we know, this decision would have a lasting effect on both “Farming” and “Family” when Ashton, my oldest, was diagnosed with autism in 2013, and Trystan, my youngest, in 2014 (one of the youngest ever in the province with a diagnosis). As I mentioned in a past blog, different, not less.
These events may be why family is part of my three “majors.” In most instances, it would be anyway for many, but for me, my life revolves around the well-being of the boys. Whether through caregiving, medical appointments, therapies, or the many professionals we use to help with daily behaviours, anybody in our shoes knows that autism is a full-time job. This is a testament to my wife, she runs our household, and for that, I am grateful. I can handle most stresses in life, but she is the rock in our family.
Now you may think one of these does not fit the mould – you’re half right. Although I played many sports growing up, to say I was healthy would be a stretch. It wasn’t until life threw a whole bunch of curve balls that I had to start making better decisions. The truth of the matter was, the day I had trouble carrying my son up to bed (he would only fall asleep on the couch for a year or two when he was young), I made the conscious decision to get better. The next day I hired a trainer and set out on a ten-year plan changing my lifestyle to be healthier and stronger.
The first reason was that I needed to be around and be able to handle my children. The second reason was that mentally I was starting to feel increased stress from work and home – it was feeling larger than life. For anybody who has fought with mental health issues, there is a point where it becomes unbearable.
Historically I always coped with other mechanisms, mostly food and laziness. But with a new goal in mind, I found that I could use fitness to eliminate my stress during the day. I probably have gone too far the other way just because it does keep me as centered as possible. For anybody feeling the weight of depression or mental health, I would push them towards activity and movement. I understand that medication will always be necessary, but I found that changing my lifestyle was also a large step in the right direction.
How do these three items lead to motivation?
My life around farming has been a convoluted journey full of many twists and turns. I went from farm kid to big city, big city to an accountant, accountant back to farmer, farmer to consultant, and now I am back as a part owner of a highly successful primary producer operation. In the end though, I never left the industry because as we all know, it is a great place to live.
My family, wife and I often joke when people ask how we manage – “we survive.” This is a half truth because we find success in small achievements that in many ways makes us more grounded as we don’t need large changes to feel pride in our children.
And lastly, fitness. I never thought I would be more fit at 40 than I was at 20, but here I am. Many would call it an addiction, and I don’t disagree, but as the line goes, “in terms of addiction, this is not a bad one in comparison.”
We all have our own journeys in life. To say I saw anything in my life happening ahead of time would be an outright lie. I learned very young to adapt and change with every occurrence in life, which has allowed both myself and my family to “survive”. I heard a quote the other day, and I thought it fit quite right to end:
“The true hell is when the person you are, meets the person you could have been.”