Sunday, August 2, 2015

I Love 4h and County Fair

We just wrapped up Clatsop County Fair 2015.
It was wonderful, exhausting, emotional, exciting and dirty.
My car is a disaster inside and out.
I am sure there is enough hay, alfalfa and straw inside of it to make an entire bale.
It smells terrible inside and it appears to be brown on the outside instead of grey.
Our travel trailer has socks, clothes, dirt, hay and loads more junk stretched from one side to the other.
The beds were left unmade all week and a pile of boots were always by the door.
We woke up early at the fair and went to bed late at the fair.
I am sure I will be blowing dust out of my nose for the next week.
I loved all of it.

I didn't grow up as a 4h kiddo, but The Farmer did.
It is something I love, a lot.
I want every single kiddo that I know to experience it.
I honestly believe there is nothing better for kids than 4h.
The sheer number of adults, some of which no longer have kids in 4h, take a week off work to volunteer their time is amazing to me.
They "vacation" to pour into our kids.

I believe the lessons these kiddos learn will be with them for a lifetime.

Teamwork:
Parents aren't allowed to help their kids during fair week unless it is a safety issue.
Kids help each other.
Carrying heavy water buckets, scooping poop, moving animals you name it they help each other.


Dedication:
Kids who raise steers generally get them in October.
For 10 months they
feed, water and care for an animal.
They also have to halter break them which isn't easy.
Most other animals are aquired in February.
Believe me when I say it isn't always sunshine and rainbows.
We have had our fair share of arguments about getting out to the barn to feed and water
especially when its dark at 5 pm with driving rain and blustery wind.
It's dedication for the kids as well as the parents.



Profit and Loss:
In our house The Farm Manager and The Fancy Farm Girl, if she chooses to participate, are responsible to buy their own animals and feed.
This year The Farm Manager tackled 5 projects and didn't have enough money to fund all the them so we  loan him the money for the animals and the feed.
When he receives his auction funds the first order of business is paying his debts.
Then he gets to decide what amounts he wants to spend, save, donate and invest.

Mentoring:
Our 4h group is lucky enough to have Cloverbuds as part of our group.
These are kids from kinder to 3rd grade.
They get to participate in fair on Friday and can show what are referred to as pocket pets.
Ducks, chickens, cavy's, rabbit and even cats.
These little kids look up to the big kids.
They want to be just like those big 4h kids.
This year our club, Melville Livestock, had what we called "Clover Buddies"
A 4h kid, grades 4th- 12th, partnered up with a Cloverbud and spent a couple hours one day with them during fair week showing them the ropes.
The Farm Manager had Sam as a Clover Buddy and it was great Sam LOVED it and so did Jameson.
The Fancy Farm Girl was Miranda's Clover Buddy and spent time learning about her hog.
Morning Meeting:
Every morning after stalls are cleaned and animals are fed there is a meeting where all the kids gather to hear what is going on for the day, what needs to be done better and they recite the 
Pledge Of Allegiance 
and the 
4h Pledge
every morning 
I wish this was more common.



Builds Confidence:
Participating in 4h can't help but grow your confidence.
Showing off your animal in front of an arena full of people takes courage.
Marketing your animal and talking to potential buyers can be very intimidating and requires practice. You never know what those buyers are going to ask you!
Wondering if your animal is going to behave and 
pulling a steer into the ring that weighs more than 12x your weight requires guts.
Sometimes when your animal acts naughty and you're just not sure your confidence gets rebuilt in minutes just from someone having a hold of the end of your rope.
 We (parents) are in this together. We want the best for every single kid participating in fair and are willing to do what we can to help.
It takes a village.


Learning to lose with grace:


Not every show ends with a blue or purple ribbon.
Sometimes it ends with a red or even a white.
We are striving for kids that never give up in the ring.
You never stop showing until you are out of the ring.
You save your disappointment for outside the ring.
When you get beat you seek out the winner, shake their hand and congratulate them.
This year The Farm Manager earned his first red ribbon when his lamb got away from him.
He was disappointed, but he never gave up.
Losing is important
It keeps you humble
It always teaches you a lesson and makes you strive to do better.

.. and win with grace.
Winners should also seek out the other showman and congratulate them.

There is so much more I love about the process and one single solitary thing I dislike.
I hate walking out of the barn after auction.
It breaks my heart to see kids laying in their pig pens on their pigs crying.. to see kids sitting outside on the grass crying.
Even knowing going into the game what the end result is I doubt it will ever get easier.
Tears
Sadness
Losing a friend

Last night as I tucked The Farm Manager into his nest and he cried... I cried too.
I knew it would be hard for him, but what I didn't know is that it would be hard for me also.
It's hard to be a farmer

We are now on vacation from fair for the next 60 or so days.
Then it all starts again and I can't wait!


Blessed Is Me..



Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Will Always Wonder Who You Would Have Been..

So much time has passed that I don't even remember the day.
I can only remember the deafening silence as the ultrasound tech rubbed her wand over my belly and the feeling of hot tears rolling down my face as the doctor guided the needle into my swollen belly drawing out 3 tablespoon of amniotic fluid.
Will my baby that I want so much have Trisomy 18?

Then the waiting
Time ticked so slowly
The way my stomach lurched and my heart pounded every single time the phone rang
I worked as a purchasing agent at a manufacturing company and
I was sitting in the accounting office when I got the dreaded call.
Yes, my baby has Trisomy 18

Two choices
1. continue with pregnancy with risk of death to me-which I now believe to be untrue-and the almost guarantee of a funeral for my baby before it's first birthday if born alive.
2. terminate..

We had 2 days to decide.

We chose
Terminate..

This has been heavy on my heart the last couple weeks.
REAL heavy.
It's been in my dreams.
It's been on the radio.
It's been on Facebook.
It's been playing over and over and over in my head.
The continued nudge to write it all out here.
I don't know why?

It's a story that I am no longer ashamed of, no longer carry guilt, no longer feel condemned about.
The reason I no longer carry it as a burden is one fate filled Sunday I sat in Church at Coastline Christian Fellowship where Pastor Michael taught about forgiveness and showed this video about Eliot
a boy born with Trisomy 18.


There is absolutely no way Michael could have known about my own story.
I had only been attending church a few months and it wasn't a story I shared with many because of the burden I felt.
This video is one I sometimes still watch, but this week everytime I close my eyes I see it.

While I no longer feel shame and guilt sometimes I do feel sad.
This last couple weeks I have felt more sad than normal.
Most weeks come and go without another thought about it.

Maybe because of all the Mother's Day talk.
I"m sad that I'm missing a noodle necklace from that baby like I have from The Farm Manager and The Fancy Farm Girl.
Sad because I never got to hold that baby or even know if it was a boy or a girl.
Sad because if given the choice again I would never make the same choice knowing what I know now.
Sad because sometimes momma's just get sad.

I know abortion is a hot topic.
You are either on one side of the fence or the other.
One side is filled with finger waving "you shoulds"
The other side is dark and lonely
I've been on both sides.

I was made to feel like I had no other choice and only days to make a decision.
A decision that would be the final straw in my already failing marriage-yes, I was married before The Farmer,
a decision that would make me feel like I was carrying the weight of the world all alone for
YEARS.

Feelings would burble up and the absolute worst times and there was usually no containing them.

Last Sunday Pastor Andy at New Life talked about how
Good things can come from bad.

While I know that it wasn't in God's plan that I terminate my pregnancy I see  now that some good has come from it.

I know what it feels like to ask for forgiveness and receive it.
That forgiveness has given me back my power to not be ashamed.
I no longer have to keep a deep dark secret.
I feel free to talk about it.
Maybe, my willingness to talk about it can help someone else.

Friends,
If you're carrying a burden like I was it's ok to lay it down at the feet of Jesus and leave it there.
Truly.
Leave it for Him to carry.
He loves and cherishes you.

If at this moment you're caught in a decision you're struggling to make
scared and feeling alone.

You aren't alone.
My heart goes out to you and
I'm here for you.

I wish I could go back and have a do over, a mulligan, more time, more research, ask more questions.
I wish I could have for a moment held that tiny life and whispered in his or hers ear
how much they were wanted and loved.

There will be a day when I meet that baby face to face, but until then I will continue to look for the good that came from bad
and
will freely talk about all of it
so maybe another momma
can release the heavy burden from her heart.


Love and prayers to all the hurting mommas
Blessed is me..

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When Depression Steals Everything



Depression.
Everyone has an opinion on it
"you just need to buck up"
"how is your walk with The Lord"
"why don't you just stop being sad"
"you don't ever look sad"
"what do YOU have to be sad about"
"what you NEED to do is.."

Don't say any of that.
None.
Not a word.
If those words are on your tongue, bite it.

Depression is real and it kills.
It isn't always sadness.
It isn't always super bad, but it can be.
It consumes your every thought.
It makes dark days seem impossible.
It makes you stay in your bed to tired to get up.
It makes you a prisoner in your own head.
It makes you self medicate with drugs and alcohol just to get things quiet.
It makes you lose sleep and struggle through the day exhausted, but still smiling.
It makes you sit by your daughters crib waiting for her to stop breathing.

It has consumed me and yes I really did watch over my daughter waiting for her to stop breathing.
She was born 20 months after my first by scheduled c-section.
She was perfect with bright eyes, black hair and sweet kissable lips.
She never cried and she slept 6 hours on our first night home.

What did I have to be depressed about?
Two kids
One boy
One girl
A hot husband.
1 house, two dogs and an itty bitty salon.

The carnage that ensued in the days after we got home from the hospital
was horrific.
The gates of hell flung open!
The Farm Manager got the stomach flu
Puke everywhere
Then The Farmer
Then The Farm Manager AGAIN
It made its way throughout our families
Puke, puke and more puke
Oh, there was poop too
Lots of it.

It was NOT awesome and I am not kidding when I say I am sure I have a touch of PTSD from that week.
Mention the words
"I have tummy ache"
"I threw up all night"
and you will see me on the verge of or in full fledged panic.
It isn't pretty.

Then the word "SIDS" started rolling around in the back of my head because a local baby died in the weeks after my baby was born.
SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
I read about it.
I made Dr. appts to ask about it.
I KNEW my baby was going to die from it.

So, I sat watching her.
Watching her  breathe and
waiting for her to stop.
Unsure of what I would do if she did.
Her breathing was weird and she would hold her breath for a few seconds then start again.
I could hear every breath pulled into her lungs and every breath let out of her tiny body.

I ordered a sleeping pad for her that would sound an alarm should she stop breathing.
Our Dr. informed me that if she did have SIDS that if she stopped breathing and he was standing over her that he would be unable to save her.
I called him a liar
I was riddled with anxiety.
I was exhausted.
I suffered in silence never sharing how I truly was feeling not even with my husband.

2 C-Sections in less than 2 years and back to work after just three weeks.
In a salon you don't get to be sad or overwhelmed and let people know about it.
You pull up your big girl boots and get to work leaving your personal garbage at the threshold of the business.
I spent my days making people feel better and I would walk to my car at days end
spent.  
 

I held it in and suffered in silence until it burbled up and I couldn't contain it.
I didn't want to let it out.
I didn't want people to know all the crazy going on inside me.
I didn't want people to think I was weak.

The night everything changed will not be one I ever forget.
We were at Char's having a game night and Fancy Farm Girl needed her diaper changed.
It was a poopy one and it wasn't what I considered "normal"
I freaked.
I know this seems like an odd thing to break down over, but I had heard rumors about the baby who died and how his/hers diapers had changed.
It might sound silly, but my fear was real.
I was losing it.

I told The Farmer we had to leave.
Right Now.
We have to go.
Confused he agreed.
It was the longest drive home ever.
We got home and I started to cry.

He told me he would get The Farm Manager to bed and feed Fancy Farm Girl so I wanted to go to bed.
I burst into tears and said
"I'll feed her because it's going to be the last time I get to"
Shocked and wide eyed he asked what I was talking about.
He just stared at me.
I told him I knew she had SIDS and was going to die that night.
Looking back I can see how crazy that sounded, but they were very real feelings.
Horrific empty desperate feelings.


Well, obviously she didn't die and my silent struggle was no longer silent.
 I sought out some medical treatment for myself.
Relief.
It is hard to reach out when your struggle is viewed as
not real or you fear how others will view you.

I still can't sleep with her because of the way she breaths.
If she comes in our bed during the night I go to the sofa.
It isn't that I don't want to snuggle up and sleep with her I do.
I just can't.
It makes my heart pound and I become restless.
It makes those long sleepless nights come rushing back.


I feel sad for people who struggle with anxiety and depression.
You can't always see it.
Some of us are really good at covering up what is really happening inside our heads and hearts.
For awhile anyways.

It kills.
Your spirit
Your marriage
Your zest for life
Your ability to do more than just make it through one more day so you can fall into a pile of desperation in the safety of your own home only to do it again the next day.
Sometimes, it literally kills you when you can't see anyway out other than to take your own life.
Heartbreaking

And let's face it some people can be real jerks about it.
They say it isn't real, that you just aren't reading your bible enough, that you just need to stop being sad.
To that I say
BULLSHIT!
It is dark and hard and it just layers on more and more everyday.
It consumes you to the point that it is the only thing you can think about.


What people who are suffering need are hugs, love, prayers and support.
A dinner made, an offer to take their kids, a coffee delivered a friendly reminder that they are loved, desired and cherished.
No more condemnation.
If you notice that people are closing down, not answering your calls and texts, not leaving the house.
GO TO THEM.
PRAY FOR THEM!
You might not know what to say and that's ok just being there helps.
It's awkward and uncomfortable, but sometimes people need help breaking the silence.

Don't offer solutions, but instead offer
abounding love
kindness
support
Be sincere

Friends, you aren't alone in your struggles.
You aren't
I promise
and there is ZERO shame in suffering from
depression.
It is time that we feel free to talk about it just like we would any other illness.


If you or someone you know is suffering in silence
PLEASE
seek out help
I would love to pray for you.
Feel free to message or text me
"pray"
No questions asked, not condemnation.
Whenever you need.
Promise.

You are loved, desired, cherished.
You are stronger than you realize.
Yes, you.

Blessed is me..

Sunday, December 28, 2014

These Hands


We just spent 3 glorious days at Island View Farms.
It is the place that Papa Moo spent his childhood and 3 generations of Inmans have raised or are currently raising their families.
 It is our very favorite place to go.

There is just something about the way it feels as you turn in, rumble over the cattle guard and head down the long driveway.
We are always welcomed with a smile and a warm embrace.

The property includes 3 homes
The Farmers cousin, Melissa, and her family, 
his Aunt Shelah and Uncle Fritz and his 
Grandma and Grandpa Inman's.
A place so rich in history.

Grandpa Inman, whom I didn't get to meet, was known as Big Phil.
Grandma Inman is known as Viv, Gram or as our kids call her Grandma Viv.
She is one of my very favorites.
She was a farmers wife and a hairdresser.
This year was her 94th Christmas!

One thing that I have always loved about Gram is her hands.
They tell such a story.
They are gnarled and worn, but soft and tender.
They feel like delicate crepe paper.
One simple ring wrapped around her finger since the day she became Mrs. Phillip Inman.
Fingernails filed so neat perfectly polished.

These hands have
cradled babies just minutes old
they have rolled out miles and miles of the best cinnamon rolls that have ever crossed your lips
they have washed mountains of dishes and been dried on her apron
 they have folded endless baskets of laundry, pulled weeds and planted flowers
 they have made dinner for big burly farm hands trying to get hay in
they have held a broom used for sweeping out the kitchen and chasing kids
they have drawn fresh milk from the tank for breakfast
they have mixed up thousands of batches of Swedish pancakes
they have grasped onto Big Phil's hand so they each would know that whatever they faced they would face it together
they have given an encouraging pat on her kids' backs as they stepped out into a new adventure
they have clapped together in celebration
they have cupped tender faces as she pulls you in for a loving giggle and a hug goodbye
they have even been known to throw a mattress out of a second story window when she had enough of her kids fighting over it.
They have held her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
They have comforted, disciplined 
and loved
I sat next to her at midnight mass one Christmas Eve hands clasped in prayer
They have held my hand so warm and tender exuding love through her grasp
Hands so small and meek yet so strong.

Today Gram spends her days confined to a wheelchair, but there is no doubt that when you greet her she will reach out her hand welcoming yours into hers with a gentle pat and a tender rub.
 
She doesn't see so good anymore and her memory isn't always the best.
She thinks I am one of the kids and always comments about how The Farmer has "gotten so big"
Everytime we leave The Skagit Valley we wonder if it will be the last time Gram takes our hand in hers.
Everytime I hope it isn't.

Blessed is me...
 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Presence


It's only the 24th of December and we have logged 4 Christmas celebrations.
What a busy couple days.
Too many cookies.
More food than we could ever eat.
Mounds of wrapping paper and empty boxes.
Hearts wrapped in love.

We celebrated with our kids this morning before The Farmer headed off for the tractor store where he had to work a few hours.
I burned miles of wrapping paper and cleaned up the house while the kids played with their new treasures, sat at their new desks snuggled up in their new jammies.
New.
All things new.

This life.
It isn't wrapped in shiny paper or topped with a pretty bow
For most-all if you're honest- it can be, at, times messy.
We can pretend it isn't.
We can tell people about every perfect little detail and all the shiny things.
We can cover our broken bits
For awhile anyways.

At the heart of things Jesus sees us and loves us for who we are.
Fully.
Broken bits and all.
He doesn't care if we are chasing him or running from Him.
The moment we turn to Him He embraces us
fully
Clothing us in 
Love, grace and forgiveness.
All things new.

Today while burning I realized our only REAL problem is that we have 
too many people that
love us.
No seriously that is our biggest problem.
By days end tomorrow we will have logged 5 Christmas celebrations.
5 different families want to spend a few hours a day loving us.
I complain about this.
Not about the love, but about the running from here to there so people can
 LOVE US.

There are people today cloaked in sadness, alone, far from families. 
Their are mommies and daddies laying their heads onto a cot in the middle of the desert defending our country far far from the tender little hearts praying for their safe return.Their are people hoping, praying and wishing to love and be loved and I complain about too many people that want to spend time with us.
The nerve.

So as I sit here with my entire family safe and warm, rain pounding on our roof I am humbled and in awe of the one who tapped my shoulder this morning and whispered a simple reminder 
that even in my own mire, bad attitude, broken bit filled self that
I am blessed by the one who
makes all things new
and it isn't by 
presents, but by presence.

Blessed is me...

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Am So Excited For Christmas




I'm beyond excited for Christmas this year.
Not for the tree stuffed with presents.
Not for the tables overflowing with food.
Not for the lights.
Oh those are all good, fun and exciting things, but
I'm excited because I feel like it is a time of rebirth.
A new start.
To let old things go.
A chance to do better and to be better.

I know this is usually something saved for New Years resolutions, but I'm not much into that.
I fail at resolutions every. single. time!
 
The day the tender little baby Jesus was laid into the straw bed was the day everything changed.
I want to be changed
For me this year it is my prayer and hope
for new life
for healed hearts
  to release burdens
   to pray more and talk less cause Lord knows I can talk
   to mend what is broken
to listen and hear not listen to respond
to make all the small tender memories etched on my heart.
I am so ready for all of it.
So much so that it brings that lump up into my throat and my eyes fill with tears.
I've learned some big lessons this year and lessons aren't always easy nor are they very fun.
My heart is tender even when I appear to be made from tough stuff.
I need to slow down because I have realized I am missing out on some really good stuff.
Letting go of someone you love relentlessly is really hard.
Crying really does make you feel better. You know the ugly cry where your eyes and nose double in size and you fear you may never breath from your nose again because its clogged. That cry; do that.

I'm sure I am not the only one ready for some changes; ready to lay down all the burdens that I think I need to carry on my own and to realize
 that even in the trials of life we can stand on the promise that The Lord is faithful to hear our prayers.

The lessons of life are the building blocks of our story.
Every single story has a purpose and a reason.
It's makes us who we are.
However you choose to celebrate your Christmas I wish you the Merriest of days filled with love, hugs and overflowing hearts.

Blessed is me...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What I Have Learned After 20 Years Being A Hairdresser

I can't believe it has already been 20 years!
I am one of the lucky few who knew at a young age what I wanted to be when I grew up.
It didn't turn out to be what I expected.
I thought I would just be cutting and coloring hair.
That's it and nothing more.
I was wrong.
It's better.

~ Being good at cutting and coloring hair doesn't make you a good hairdresser.
It makes you good at cutting and coloring hair.
You also need good communication skills, a listening ear, a drive to exceed the standard and the ability to sometimes perform miracles.
You have to want to be and do better than the license you receive.
There are zero hours required to renew a hairdressing license. 
ZERO!
This, my friends, is not good.
Our industry is always changing and improving.
If we never attend a class how will we know what is up and coming?
Education is key and is available in so many forms from out of town classes, in salon education and webinars, some of which comes at no cost.
Just because it's online doesn't mean it cant teach us something.
Not every class is going to give you a certification either and that's ok too.
What is important is that we keep learning.

~ It's harder than it looks.
Formulating, working haircuts out in your head,
removing box black haircolor that a client tells you they've only done "once" and it "washed out",
lies.. don't lie to your hairdresser and black haircolor NEVER NOT EVER washes out
Oh, and I can really rock varicose veins at just 38 from standing all day long,
Who knew standing would be so hard?!

~It's emotional
If you're lucky enough to have clients come back to your chair year after year you become attached.
You become friends.
A bond of love is formed.
You walk through different seasons of life from graduation, marriage, life, death and everything in between.
You become part of each others dash.
Moments have taken my breath away as I've watch what once was just a little girl become a wife.
Tears have streamed down my face when learning of a dear clients death.
I've shaved women's heads bald, tears pouring out of them, as they prepare for the battle for their life.
I had no idea this would be part of it.

 ~It's rewarding
We have a gift and it can be used to help people be their best selves.
We have the ability to make cloudy days shine bright.

~It isn't flexible
I know everyone thinks it is.
It isn't
It's true I make my own schedule, but it is still a job and in order to make money I must work real hours.
I am serious about this work thing even though it is a really super fun job.
This has in turn made me a scheduling freak.
I need to have a plan because I need to know 6 weeks in advance if I need to take a day off because 90% of my clients book that far out AT LEAST.


~Working for yourself in someone elses salon isn't the same as owning your own salon.
I've always worked in lease salons which means I worked for myself.
This is a much easier way of doing things because you just worry about your own business.
Now that I am an owner of a salon I have taken on the task of worrying about my own behind the chair business as well as the business of the 7 other very talented women.
These are women whom I love and cherish.
I am never not working.
I am constantly thinking of how we can do better and be more efficient.
How I can help the other girls be successful too.
I research what is up and coming, trending, marketing, new methods, old methods.
You name it I am trying to learn about it.
By the way.. just because it is an "old" method doesn't mean it's not good!
Running business doesn't come easy to me and I don't love that part of it.

There are some things I don't love about our industry.

Like why some hairdressers feel they need to bash other salons or salon professionals.
Not only is this highly unprofessional it isn't a reflection of the person you are bashing it is a reflection of yourself.
I personally don't want to look at that reflection.
How can we claim to be building our clients up and making them feel like a million bucks when we are tearing someone else down in the process.
Not one of us is better than another.
Oh we might be better skilled at our craft, but we aren't better people.
I personally would rather get my hair done by a sub par hairdresser that has respect for others than a hairdresser who may be amazing at cutting and coloring hair, but trashes on people.

Imagine if we all worked together!
What if we shared what we knew instead of being a braggart?
What if we were brave enough to ask other hairdressers for advice and not just the ones we know that live out of town?
What if salon owners could get together and share ideas of what works and what isn't working?
What if we could do all that without fear of being looked down upon?!
The possibilities are endless
Because here is the deal we are all still different and bring different things to our clients.
Even in our small town there IS enough business for everyone.

TOGETHER 
we could rid the world of black box dye and over processed blond hair!

There isn't anything I've learned that I wouldn't be willing to share with another hairdresser because for me I just want to see everyone succeed.
Believe me I have tried things that haven't worked out well.
We all do.
I want everyone to live their dream and be successful at it!

I think we have the power to change the image of how hairdressers are thought to be 
 catty gossips'
The power lies within us.

Blessed is me....