Saturday, March 15, 2014

Farming lessons from pain

Behind the scenes and between the lines lies a typically unspoken variable in my farming experience-  I live with chronic pain and significant physical limitations.  

I have post traumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse which manifests as anxiety, sleep disorders, panic attacks, digestive issues, obesity, immune problems, jaw clenching, headaches, endocrine difficulties, exhaustion, and chronic pain.  I participate regularly in counseling.  I see my chiropractor and acupuncturist on alternate Fridays.  I do yoga regularly.  I eat a special, organic, anti-inflammatory diet which is socially and financially challenging.

I have had eight surgeries in the last three and a half years- four dental, one jaw/sinus, three foot, and one hand- with a ninth scheduled for April to remove a bone spur from my other hand.  

I have an extremely rare form of headaches, hemicrania continua, in which nerves in my face turn on and stay turned on mimicking a painful, hot, swollen infection.  

I have regularly attended physical therapy for 18 of the last 24 months for help with a ripped disc in my lower back and significant tightness and pain in my Achilles tendons.  I cannot lift more than 40 pounds.  Walking uneven terrain is challenging.

Living with my difficult self has informed my farming in many significant ways.
  1. Living active and eating healthy is my inspiration to farm.
  2. "Hard times are coming" seems a very plausible scenario. 
  3. Persist and endure in adversity.
  4. Seek joy in painful circumstances.
  5. Respect limits.  Farming needs to be sustainable for the farmer, the land and the livestock.
  6. Limits are individual and particular.  Comparing doesn't help.  
  7. Beauty and danger come together.
  8. Search for a good fit.
  9. Be creative.  Don't expect that received wisdom or convention will always work best.
  10. Creating win-win situations is more satisfying than making others lose.
  11. Do not force the land as I would not be forced myself.  
  12. Healing and growth come in their own time and in unexpected ways.
  13. No one can do everything.  
  14. Ask for help.
  15. Celebrate success.
  16. Find the humor in every adventure.
  17. Cultivate happiness and simple pleasures.
  18. Embrace the personal power of doing it myself.
  19. Curiosity, awe, wonder, and learning are the best there is.
  20. Be amazed.

I am encouraged that so much good has come out of adversity. 

To those of you who struggle with pain and disabilities, I hope you find a creative path to engage in your dreams while respecting your limits. 

Courage for the adventure to us all!

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