Rural Reflections #30

This is my first Rural Reflections of 2020 so a photo to depict my year gone by and to capture the sheer determination, resilience and hope that farmers try to maintain in drought.  Our personal strength to endure the battle of drought after 2 years and to still have the vision to sustain agriculture into the future.  Livestock that depends on you to feed them and fulfill their nutrition levels and to maintain future productivity.  This photo captures the true essence of WHY we do what we do.

As we head into 2020 with 2 years of drought now under our belt, our motivation is struggling, we have become weary, yet our resilience is bold.  Every single day without slacking off, our cattle need a daily ration.  Without grass in paddocks to satisfy them, their dependability is entirely upon us to ensure their wellbeing is preserved with drought feeding.

It takes time, energy and money to feed our remaining 260 head of cattle.  260 hungry animals need quite a lot of feed to keep them not only alive but productive to produce next year’s calf.  Farmers possess this tenacity to take charge and do what needs to be done with a vision to see their business operations in years to come.  Debt is heavily incurred to ensure the core breeding herd survives.  Sometimes life gets a little hazy with the burden, but with a deep breath and a reminder of WHY we do it… usually is enough to kick us back into gear.

Water is provided from a bore to fill troughs as dams have been dry for a very long time.  Daily checking is required to ensure maintenance is not required and their access to clean water exists for their health.  Farmers care for the wellbeing of their animals as they have a job to do and each breeding animal is producing their progeny for a future purpose.

Today I share with you this photo specifically to capture the trust that our breeding animals have in us, the persistence that exists in farmers and an appreciation for the courage that it takes to endure the tougher times.

This photo was taken by Peter Hardin from an article written by Carolyn Millet from The Northern Daily Leader in December 2019.  This single photo captures so many feelings, experiences and reality below the real surface.  Tough times express a heartfelt reality for my husband and I, which is depicted in a single photo when they visited our property.

What do you see in this photo?  Perhaps a couple on their property with some cows.

Rural Reflection #30…

30 Leader

Photo Credit: Peter Hardin 071119PHF008

Look beyond the obvious to understand.  Yes, a couple on their property with some of their cows is the forefront of a deeper observation.  This photo depicts so much more:

  • A farming couple who passionately preserve an agricultural purpose and a love for the industry.
  • Mutual trust between the breeding stock and farmer.
  • Desolate farmland that won’t survive without moisture.
  • Farm production for future years.
  • Eyes that mask feelings of angst, uncertainty and emotional torment from within.
  • Gratitude that people care about farm production and farmers.
  • Farmers overcome with physical exhaustion and tiredness but masked with a friendly look or smile.
  • Financial strain taking its toll on the farm business and threatening the farmer’s mental health.
  • Decision-makers with an optimistic vision.
  • Quiet Hereford cows doing their job and loving the extra attention while drought feeding.
  • A couple committed to animal wellbeing and missed celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with a canceled holiday so they could take care of their livestock.
  • Farmers in need of some time out and a little enjoyment.
  • Big hearts and a love for each other, their cattle and for sustaining the agricultural industry.
  • An appreciation for others who show they care through kind words, letters, cards and encouragement.
  • Hope for a better future.

This dry working environment is tough, unpredictable and overwhelming at times.  Yet farmers see their role and the value they bring to supplying food and fibre for our nation.  We have a love-hate relationship with farming during this time.  The depressing feelings can be overwhelming with the physical and emotional struggles during times of drought.

But farmers have a huge WHY within them.  They love what they do and the variety of tasks that they do on the farm.  They see value and purpose in what they do.  That is WHY they do it.

So spare a thought for each other.  We all have our own interests and serve our own purpose in a variety of ways.  Accept all differences, acknowledge everybody’s value and be kind to everyone.  How you treat people is a true reflection of you… and it is important that we try to bring out the best in each other.

Take care, Karen.

“Photography is an art of observation.

It has little to do with the things you see

and everything to do with the way you see them.”

~ Elliot Erwitt

Another Year Grateful With a Vision

2019 is almost over and it is time for me to reflect upon my year gone by.  A mighty year I have paved my way through, including drought and personal growth.  In review, my vision board has been my regular guidance.

Did you reach some of the goals that you set out to achieve in 2019?

Some goals reached, others still a work in progress.  Overall I am happy with my own personal achievements and what I have been able to extend in doing for others.  I finally learned the importance of looking after myself, something very unfamiliar to me.

This year for me, was one for learning and expanding my comfort zone.  Personal growth was a priority in 2019 and I amazed myself and enjoyed learning in the process.  You just never know what you are capable of until you have a go.

My year started with the creation of a vision board and was used as a reminder throughout the year to motivate and inspire me.  A vision board is a collage of words and pictures to represent your goals and dreams.  It is used as a visualisation tool.

I enjoyed creating my vision board for 2019, as I used pictures, words and colours to personally represent my goals and to inspire my own success.

Vision Board for 2019

Well, how did I go?  Was I successful?

Success is not a destination but a journey. 

So YES I believe I have been successful to achieve and make progress on what is important to me.

OWN WHO YOU ARE!  This was my mantra or affirmation for 2019.  I made a choice to express who I was and love the person that I am, with faults and imperfections.  This is who I am, a unique individual finding her way in this world.  You are never too old to set another goal and dream a new dream.

My 2019 goals were to:

Write a Book – My talent had blossomed this year and my passion for writing has developed.  Through my words in this blog, I have been able to inspire and help others to shape their lives by making better choices and believing in themselves.  As an Author, my book may not be complete but it has progressed in some way.  For this I am grateful.  This goal has also diversified into 2 separate books that I want to write.  My blog is the basis of those books remaining within my mind.  I attended a workshop with a published Author at the Rural Women’s Gathering this year in Walcha and I have learned specific techniques for my writing to use in the future.

Public Speaking – I joined Tamworth Toastmasters to tackle my fear of public speaking and gain confidence in communication skills.  I have learned great techniques and met some great people that encourage me.  I also attended a Grow your Speaking Biz Workshop with Sharon Jurd Events and I now enjoy speaking to others with a specific message to inspire the listeners.  I have also had several opportunities to speak to community groups on agricultural issues, hypnotherapy, my business, anxiety and to inspire students at my former primary school.  My greatest fear has been conquered.  I still get nervous but more excited now. 

“Country Heart Spark” Blog – My unique way of sharing experiences, thoughts and motivation to inspire others.  Like a journal, but for the public to view, I can connect with people, encourage and support them through my writing.  To have found that something special in me and be able to share with others, is enormous.  I love to write and express myself wholeheartedly in the hope that someone really needs to read what I have written today.  The feedback I receive is what keeps me going and I love to know when I have helped someone in some unique way.

Improve Health – I have struggled with my weight, emotional eating and lack of self-care of myself over the years.  This year I have had a few tests with my doctor, had a diagnosis and dietitian advice.  Finally, food started to make sense with how my body was reacting to certain foods.  It was the first time that I actually made a connection.  I also participated in coaching with Katie Godden on Simple Steps to Better Health which was a great motivation and support.  Although limited by finances in this drought, I was able to understand my health issues and start making progress.  I had been eating much better, with more salads, vegetables and meats.  Unfortunately, over the festive season I have made some unhealthy choices but my body tells me when I forget to listen.

Financial Relief – Drought has been crippling us and business choices have been limited for over 2 years.  Whilst experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, we still have been making decisions, right or wrong, to sustainably remain in farming.  We did make the decision this year to sell part of our farming property, subdivided and put it on the market.  We are down-sizing and business will change and I will find off-farm income.  With this land sale, we will achieve some financial relief.

Design Website – I have now created 3 websites from scratch.  I love to be creative and design marketing material.  Self-taught with information online, I managed to create these websites to reflect the businesses using my good eye for detail.  However, I have even surprised myself with the results and how much I enjoy it.  Completed in style!

Spend Time with Family – As a mother of grown-up children, I miss not having dependants.  But our children are always our babies, so being there to listen, to advise when needed and to help teach them adult lessons… becomes a new task.  Drought has made time a huge limitation, but I have managed regular contact with my sons and family.  It was lovely to have both of our sons home for Christmas with their partners and to see their personalities shine.  In October, I also enjoyed a few days with my Mum and valued the one-on-one time I was able to spend with her.

Time-Out – I have been using a visualisation technique.  Visualising myself as a jug full of water, giving to others.  As I started to run dry, I realised I can’t be there for others if I do not refuel myself first.  When I learned to do this, my jug was full enough to share around and help others.  I now find time to write, to unwind and to express myself.  I also give myself time-out away from work, to connect with local organisations, volunteer my time and communicate with others.  During this drought with the mental and physical exhaustion, I still found a little time to relax, feel calmer and be happy in life.  Whatever it is that you love, find time to do it.

Our performance is so much better and we are much more productive when we acknowledge that we are worth it.  We need to take the time to meet our own needs, nurture ourselves from the inside and embrace our capabilities.

Take time to reflect on your own year, your own goals and your own achievements.  It is surprising, in our review, that we have been very successful and made mighty progress in our lives.  Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve festivities.

Take care, Karen.

“Starting today I need to forget what’s gone,

appreciate what still remains,

and look forward to what’s coming next.”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

 

Rural Reflections #29

Life is like a book.  Some chapters in our lives wear us down.  Sometimes we experience sad times, but sometimes we have good times and excitement in our lives.  If we never turn the page, we will never know what our next chapter in life holds for us.  Who knows it could be our most exciting chapter ever.

Times have been very tough for all of us on the land, especially in this region.  But knowing that we are all going through this together, somehow gives reassurance and strength to believe in our soul purpose to produce food for our nation.

Life is about to change for me.  With the downsizing of our farming property in the near future, I will take a step back from it all… to pursue work elsewhere in an effort to support the ongoing operations on the farm.

Rather than view this change with hesitation, I choose to see this as an exciting chapter about to reveal itself.  Learning new things empowers me, and on my latest journey of personal growth, I am eager to see where life takes me.

When one has not experienced the job interview process, after 25 years of self-employment… this process could be a little daunting.  Strangely enough, however, I am not nervous at all.  I believe I know what I am capable of and what special gifts I can offer the wider world.  Nobody else knows us better than ourselves.

I have had a couple of job interviews and applied for a couple more in the business administration area and am ready to see where this takes me.  With nothing set in stone yet, I am allowing myself to blossom.

My advice to anyone going through a change right now… just breathe, do your best to showcase who you are and enjoy the opportunities before you.  Life will not give you too much to handle… just keep making decisions to get through it.

Today I found this photo to share with you.  I took this photo in June this year when I thought that after a shower of rain, maybe, just maybe, seasonal conditions would turn around for us.  A shade of green was scattered through the back paddocks.  Although temporary, it gave us all a boost to soldier on.

Rural Reflection #29…

29

image subject to copyright

Why I like this photo?  It serves as a visual analogy.  The older large tree on the left with the deformed tree growths… is feeling the struggle of conditions yet not inhibited to serve its purpose.  In comparison, we may be getting a little older, a little tired and feeling the struggle in this drought… but we have a purpose to share our talents with the world and provide a little shade of comfort for others.

Similarly, the small green tree on the right is growing from an old stump of a tree that would have been cut down many years ago.  From the centre of an old hollow stump, this seedling would have grown, feeling the protection from the environment until it was able to blossom.  Even in drought conditions, this beautiful tree looks healthy and is still growing.

This just shows that we depend on one another in our personal development.  But more importantly, change is how we evolve into the person we truly are.  Through change…  whether it is changing our perception or thought processes… or with life-changing events… we evolve and progress through the chapters in our lives.

So be kind to yourself, be kind to others and enjoy your next chapter!

Take care, Karen.

“Change is inevitable,

Growth is optional.

~ John C. Maxwell

Rural Reflections #28

Life does not get better with chance… it gets better with change.  My life is about to change once again.  Have you been at a crossroads in your life?  Ever wondered which road to take this time?

We never know what is around that corner and we must make changes to move through life and experience interesting opportunities.  Sometimes taking a chance… may just be the change we are looking for.  But we must make it happen.

Drought is overloading us.  Overloading my inner strength.  Overloading my mind.  The battle continues here in Tamworth, without rain, without feed and something is about to change.  Making me question… why we all chip away at it every single day?

I am passionate about the agricultural industry… a future to secure for all Australians.  But I am not giving up… I am about to make a change.  Life is all about choices and decisions… right or wrong… who can say?  It is us that controls our own choices.  The drought may be cracking me around the edges, but it is no way going to break me.

Another choice we make.  Unfortunate but necessary, we are dividing our farming property in two, and we will be selling one block.  Finances can only stretch so far, as we all know over the last 2 years of drought.  So we are down-sizing.

Hubby and I will remain here on one block… farming as usual.  The other block “Porters” will be sold… 1650 acres of land… giving someone else an opportunity to love life here too.  Like many farming decisions, at first, I felt a little disappointed.  Then I felt comfortable with the decision, to have a plan in moving forward.

So whilst my hubby spends the days farming, I have decided to seek off-farm work and bring a new experience into my life.  So many farming families have had to change their circumstances and still feel the struggle every day… juggling off-farm work into their life equation.  But for me, since we are down-sizing, I have an opportunity to share my expertise further, in an industry that I choose.

Have you been making choices and decisions or questioning those choices?  There are many opportunities before us, we just have to figure out what we need to do to make a difference.  But the decision must be right for you, not for those onlookers from the outside.  I am still passionate about this industry and I am still the same person… just making some life changes to work for me.

Today, I share with you this photo of the driveway on my property depicting “Porters” and the drive away to change.  This image is the perfect metaphor for changes in life.  It shows a green barley crop after a shower of rain in June, yet now it has sadly turned to dust.  It is still a nice reminder of how quickly our land changes.

Rural Reflection #28…

28

image subject to copyright

We could sit back, struggle and complain about the drought, but NO.  We can’t control the weather and farming is a gamble at times.  But we do have control over our feelings, reactions and our response.  We made a choice to do what we need to do.

Hubby is happy when on the land… and I am happy when anyone can find that passion within to do what they love.  I believe life is made up of experiences.  My next experience is about to unfold and I am excited.

What choices are you making to ensure you are passionate and committed to your life, inspiring those around you?

Take care, Karen.

“The pessimist complains about the wind;

the optimist expects it to change;

the realist adjusts the sails.

~ William Arthur Ward

Creating a Natural High at Walcha Rural Women’s Gathering

Passion, inspiration, learning, laughter, friendship and empowerment… were on the program at this year’s Rural Women’s Gathering held in Walcha this past weekend.  3 great days of excitement, connection and culture were shared with 219 attendees gathered in the high country.

A jam-packed program was full of captivating speakers, educational workshops, interesting tours, fresh local cuisine, community group hospitality and musical entertainment.  This is the 27th NSW Rural Women’s Gathering to be held.  The annual event is organised by dedicated local committees each year, supported by the Rural Women’s Network.

75564605_2697667303659045_3149248936879849472_n

Despite a challenging drought and a heart-breaking season, the Walcha committee flocked together to create a natural high reflecting their environment, location, history and culture.  Ironically, Walcha is renowned for “where wild rivers run”… but the big dry had put a stop to that.  Nevertheless, a wonderful committee ensured the beauty remained in their environment through the town’s artworks, culture and welcoming friendly faces that surrounded us.

The Hon. Adam Marshall MP, officially opened the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering (RWG) and launched the 2019 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll which celebrates women volunteers who give so much to their rural communities.  It was wonderful to recognise a few names on the list this year.  Two ladies that I know personally, I want to make mention of, as they inspire me in their communities.

75241216_10159381620624062_4598909908060995584_o

The beautiful bubbly personality of Mary Hollingworth from Guyra (formerly Glen Innes) was recognised as a valuable volunteer for more than 35 years.  She is renowned for her involvement with the Glen Innes Celtic Festival and many community organisations.  Mary never ceases to amaze me with her infectious smile, love for life and her encouragement of others.  She also seems to have a knack of persuading people to hit the dance floor with her (thanks Mary!).

The kind-hearted generous likes of Sue-Ellen Wilkin from Moore Creek near Tamworth.  A strong amazing woman that started a charitable food pantry for drought-stricken farmers at Tamworth and Murrurundi.  The charity is called Doing It For Our Farmers and is run by a group of tireless volunteers.  Sue-Ellen has a heart full of passion and care for the farming community.  Her charity is a valuable support network for farmers and local primary producers.

Guest Speakers were inspiring in their own unique ways and an interested audience was captivated in the information they shared, the laughter they inspired and challenging stories they could relate to.

A local Walcha sheep and cattle producer, Sonia O’Keefekept the audience captivated with her inspiring outlook and positive attitude.  She shared her story with her down-to-earth personality and simple, yet empowering philosophy in life.

img_2278.jpg

A leading lady in musical theatre, cabaret, screen and radio, Amanda Muggleton, kept us entertained with her unique style, passion, humour and extroverted persona.  She has just joined the cast of Home and Away, as Robbo’s on-screen mum Wendy.  She amazed us all with her wit, enchanting personality, performing ability and provocative versatility.

Fun and laughter all-round when she performed the segment called Laugh Out Loud with Amanda Muggleton, alongside 4 talented committee members.  Interestingly, she was not just a guest speaker and performer at this event, but she attended the weekend with us all.  Her friendly involvement, love for life and encouragement of others is very inspiring.

IMG_2339

Grazier, author and Walcha Councillor, Jen Kealey, spoke of her passion in the rural community, charity work and resilience.  Walcha local and organising committee member, Anna Barwick, shared her unique story, her Showgirl journey and her success in life with heartfelt passion as a health advocate. 

IMG_2293

Janelle Archdale shared the inspiration of her time as the first female Mayor of Walcha and now runs her boutique-style fashion, homewares and giftware store called Paperdolls House.  Angus stud breeder, Erica Halliday, gave us an insight into women in the boardroom with her casual yet intelligent demeanor.

73299525_10159381619454062_1450842082892578816_o

Wool producer, Jules Cordingley, spoke about merino wool, quality yarn and her woollen fashion company.  Jo Palmer, a successful business woman and the winner of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards told her story of connecting people to remote work opportunities.

Sister Jan O’Grady from Open Support gave us valuable information on accessing health care services in Sydney and how Country Care Link transport services can assist the rural community when at their most vulnerable.  My dear friend, Sonia Fingleton went on to explain how she manages the beautiful Chisholm Cottage, like a home away from home, so that rural people can access major Hospitals and health services in the city affordably and with a network of support around them.

Local graziers and earthmoving contractors, Peter and Suzanne O’Keefe, shared their heartfelt real-life story when he became a burns victim in a terrible farm explosion accident.  Against all odds, Peter survived this accident, 59 days in an induced coma and 32 surgeries later.  They both shared their own perspective of what happened and how they handled such adversity in their lives.  I shed tears listening to their amazing strength and how they coped.  Peter now inspires other burn victims during their recovery period.  Amazing speakers, leaving not a dry eye in the room.  Very inspiring!

74798911_2496886250591961_8484651702190866432_n

The dedicated Walcha RWG Committee offered an abundance of local artists to display their creative artworks in a Pop-Up Art Show.  Local quilters displayed their talent in numerous eye-catching colourful quilts.  Local market stalls provided a beautiful selection of giftwares, luxury items for the lady and unique creations during the weekend for sale.  Service providers were also in attendance to share advice and assistance wherever possible. 

A variety of interesting and empowering workshops were organised with a magnitude of varying subjects.  Not surprisingly, I chose to do 2 writing workshops with Author John Heffernan.  Sometimes we must challenge ourselves, try new things and stretch our imagination… you just never know what you may truly be capable of.

IMG_2277

Friday night we were entertained by the musical ability and incredible voice of 16 year-old Hattie Oates from Tamworth.  A soulful voice well beyond her years where we danced to pitch-perfect tunes.

Saturday night, a blanket of white filled the marquee with a beautiful White Dinner @ Altitude.  Guests dressed in white clothing, enjoyed beautifully presented platters before them and enjoyed a local Fleece to Fashion Parade.  Followed by non-stop entertainment with the fun-loving party band Memphis Moovers.

All night, we kicked up our heels, leaving all reservations behind, and enjoyed music from the 50’s to the 00’s… from Elvis to Lady Gaga.  The Memphis Moovers  returned Sunday for a fabulous musical finale.  A song was written and performed with the RWG attendees… the singers, the dancers and the clappers.

A wonderful, inspirational, motivating weekend that has once again given me direction, time-out and a vision in my own life.  I am already looking forward to next year’s Rural Women’s Gathering to be held in Forbes.   

IMG_2335

The best part was catching up with familiar faces that I had met at previous RWG events.  It just feels like I have known these women for so much longer.  Great friendships have formed and a network of support is so relevant.  We all need a little girl-power, female support, uplifting souls to empower us… and this is the rural women’s event to do this.

Take care, Karen.

IMG_2309

“When women support each other

incredible things happen.”

~ Author Unknown.

 

 

 

Motivated Excitement & Country Charm at Coolongolook School

Primary School Students are the true essence of our future and learning the ways of the world in their younger years.  Today, I had the privilege of speaking at Coolongolook Public School as an ex-student Guest Speaker.  My intention was to inspire these beautiful students to believe in themselves and focus on a future without limitations.

I am passionate about helping people with my encouraging and motivating speeches.  Challenged to design a speech… to connect with students from Kindergarten to Year 6, as well as relating the information to benefit adults.  My speech was incorporated into Grandparents Day with visiting parents, grandparents and special friends.

Successfully, I delivered my message to keen listening ears and interested individuals.  What truly captivated me… was the attention span of these primary school-aged students.  During my 30-minute speech, all students were focused with engaging eye contact and listened so intently.

It was a pleasure to speak to a group of individuals that showed me respect and could relate to the information that I presented.  I thank the Principal and Staff of Coolongolook Public School for their kind invitation to return to my own Primary School to speak on this special day.  I have so many fond memories of my primary school years here and I enjoyed the morning reminiscing and seeing the changes within the school.

Coolongolook Public School is a small country school with a charming country community.  Similar in size to when I attended, the opportunities of attending a small school proves there is no disadvantages to success in life.

I was so grateful to be able to speak with several students over morning tea, lunch and when visiting their classrooms.  From interesting conversations, expressed thank you’s, hugs galore and a personal drawing… my morning was truly inspirational from both sides.  Small country schools offer a special something and I witnessed this today in the welcoming atmosphere… from students, parents, grandparents and teachers alike.

Two students had impacted me through our conversations, their attitude and heartfelt interactions.  So I gave them both “My Journal” as a gift to encourage and motivate them in their future.  We can all do with a helping hand in life so should be looking for opportunities to help somebody else where we can.

I was very impressed with the musical learning opportunities now at Coolongolook Public School and enjoyed a performance.  When I was at school I played percussion instruments like the triangle, castanets and tambourine.  With their real musical department having progressed enormously, to learning guitars and drums… simply amazed me.

Feeling nostalgic, I was also able to sing along with the School Song.  Surprisingly, I even remembered most of the words, even after 30 years.  It was great to see and hear familiarity, but also to see progression.

Speaking of my fond memories of Coolongolook Public School and how the impact of my education led to my success in life… was encouraging for listeners.  The highlight for me, was meeting students and the dedicated school community, and listening to how my words were perceived and related to their individual lives.

Once again, my passion to share my love for life and the motivation to persuade others to see their own beauty within… makes me feel empowered.

Take care, Karen.

IMG_2261

“If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.”

~ Ronnie Lott

Rural Reflections #27

Reflecting from the rural coastal region of my hometown of Coolongolook NSW watching the smoke from bushfires in the distance near Forster/Tuncurry NSW.  Here I am spending some time with my Mum and preparing for a speech at the local Primary School tomorrow.

It is beautiful to see some green foliage within the scene and beneath my feet for a change.  My Mum loves her garden… from shrubs and flowers… to growing plenty of fresh produce to make into jams and relishes.  The coastal region does attract a lot more rain than our western area.

Today, it is a beautiful day in paradise and I am appreciating my beautiful surroundings.  Roses in full bloom, flowers sprawled across garden beds and healthy vegetables growing in abundance.  This morning I helped my Mum pick fresh blueberries and strawberries before breakfast.

We then enjoyed fresh fruit with yoghurt and her variety of home-made jams on toast.  Whilst my Mum and visiting Aunty are working hard in the garden, I have been catching up on some work and preparing for my speech tomorrow.

I have been invited to Coolongolook Public School… to speak about my childhood, my life, my businesses and to inspire these young students.  It will also be Grandparents Day with special visitors.  This is where I attended Primary School many years ago, so I am very excited to return as a guest speaker and to see the changes first-hand.  My intention will be to motivate my audience, encourage their confidence and dreams, and to inspire success.

Travelling down the mountain yesterday, heading towards the coast, I noticed very thick smoke on the horizon and high winds which would be causing havoc and spreading the fire.  The bushfire is in the Forster/Tuncurry region, with people sadly losing their homes in nearby areas.  Volunteer firefighters are doing what they can, around the clock, trying to keep people and their properties safe.

The smoke is not blowing in this direction, so cannot be smelt at all where I am.  My hearts goes out to those victims and those in the vicinity of the bushfires.  It doesn’t matter where you live… you never like to see fire threatening lives nor belongings.

So today, I share with you this photo, showing the smoke in the distance and ask that you spare a thought for the NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers protecting others and working in harsh conditions of heat and thick smoke.

Rural Reflection #27…

BLOG rural refelctions 27

image subject to copyright

I like this photo because it depicts my upbringing with my family, the beautiful surrounds and Mum’s passion for gardening.  The gazebo was an addition that Mum erected later in life, that has a special connection to a family friend and is indicative of life and death.  That special friend was taken far too soon as a result of a farm accident.  For me, this gazebo is a symbol of him and the value of family friendships.  His memory will always live on through his beautiful family.

I also appreciate having some time out here today at my Mum’s place admiring her garden and the effort that her and her good-hearted sister put in to keeping it so beautiful.  I do not have a green thumb so lack the expertise and passion this involves. But I certainly do grasp the beauty here, and understand that water in our environment makes all the difference.

What better place to feel motivated and inspired?  I feel like I can breathe here and relax.  Admiring the beauty around me, whilst holding my family close to my heart.

Take care, Karen.

“We might think we are nurturing our garden,

but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”

~ Jenny Uglow, Author

Celebrating 25 Years Anniversary of Love and Trust

Today marks the day… 25 years of wedded bliss… and successful challenges overcome!  It seems like a lifetime ago, that I walked down that aisle proudly taking my husband’s name.  Young, sweet and innocent… yet full of hopes and dreams.  Similarly, it seems like only yesterday.

Reflecting on the last 25 years, I surely would not change a thing.  I met the man of my dreams, far from perfect, but perfect for me.  We fit like hand-in-glove.  I am so grateful to have my husband as my best friend.  He has been my support, my rock and encouraged me throughout our married life.  We raised 2 wonderful sons now pursuing their own successes in life.

Remember that feeling of a new love… the excitement in a relationship, the unpredictability and exploring new emotions in unchartered territory.  Those feelings developed and togetherness just felt right.  25 years on… through the raising of a family and business ventures… those feelings still reside.

That love becomes comfortable and secure.  Sometimes we do not appreciate what we have and who we have in our life every day.  We must stop… think and feel.  That love that surrounds us and is enduring, but still needs nurturing and protecting.  The small things really matter.

Life throws us challenges and obstacles in our path.  It is how we handle these situations, that will make or break us.  We can only control what we do, think and say.  We cannot control those thoughts and feelings of our partner, nor should we want to.  Tolerance, patience and understanding is a big part of the balancing act.

Thankfully, our marriage has survived 25 years, mainly due to mutual support, passion, friendship, respect, communication and encouragement of each other.  Life has not always been a bed of roses, however, it is with inner strength, faith in our marriage and commitment that we can celebrate today.

I am so grateful for my husband… for the support he has given me in the good times and the encouragement through the bad times.  I love him for all that he is and all that he brings to my life.  I believe that he has helped shape me into the strong, determined and motivated woman that I am today.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband Peter and thank you for 25 beautiful years and making life so interesting.

Now all I want to do in my life… is to help others… feel contentment, speak freely and love who they are and what their purpose is in life.

Take care, Karen.

IMG_2217

“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love,

trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity.

The order varies for any given year.”

~ Paul Sweeney.

Star-Struck by CWA Past State President

I was reduced to being star-struck yesterday… and in-awe with a genuinely interesting conversation with the Immediate Past State President of the Country Women’s Association (CWA), Mrs Annette Turner.  This woman is like a celebrity in my eyes.

A good-hearted, caring, intelligent, captivating woman of many CWA achievements with a great sense of humour.  I have so much respect for her as a woman and in her role as the CWA State President over the last 3 years.

Mrs Annette Turner had been invited as a Guest Speaker to our CWA Wanthella Group Annual Conference and to open the meeting.  Her story-telling conversational-style tone is easy to listen to and very inspiring.  My day was enjoyed immensely.

I presented my lengthy Group Agricultural & Environmental Annual Report and shared my passion for an industry that I care about sustaining.  Respectfully, listening to other fellow members share their reports and reflect on the past year’s achievements and activities.

People often ask… what is so great about CWA?  My personal values align with those aims of CWA.  So for me, it is a significant organisation that makes a difference in the lives of women and their families.  I value the advocacy developed by ensuring women have a platform to share their voice and improve lives.  It also provides a network of supportive women and social friendships in our community.

The sharing of skills and knowledge is also another great benefit.  CWA support within the community in so many aspects, is what makes me very proud to be a part of CWA.

Yesterday, was also the day for CWA Branches to present their written motions of advocacy with voting taking place for the potential inclusion at the CWA Annual State Conference next year.  Our Group discussed and voted on 3 motions that were accepted to move to the State Executive Committee for the motion to policy process.

It is fascinating to see the passion from a single concern, will develop into a motion and possibly become CWA policy to lobby the Government to support the policy and make a change in legislation.  CWA is a very influential organisation with the best interests of the members of our nation at heart.

With the elections taking place, I have been re-elected as the Agricultural & Environmental Officer for Wanthella Group.  Very excited to keep promoting agriculture and the rural industry in our region and beyond.

I felt overwhelmed yesterday when Mrs Annette Turner, complimented me on my report presentation and for my passion in the industry.  This compliment meant so much to me, especially coming from her, a lady that I respect whole-heartedly.

It is nice to compliment people.  That small comment that comes from your lips, may just take a small moment, but can make a massive difference for those listening ears.  That compliment may just last a lifetime, giving someone the confidence and strength to make other decisions in their life.  Remember to be kind to people and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Take care, Karen.

IMG_2179

“Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.”

~ Richard Branson.

 

 

 

How to Feel 10/10 about Mental Health Day Now?

That dreaded phrase that we hear over and over again.  MENTAL HEALTH.  Why does that term make us cringe somewhat?  Lack of understanding perhaps?  Mental health is NOT mental illness

Mental health is where we want our minds to be… this is the good place to be.  So mental health is a positive phrase that we need to make part of our lives.

Today is declared World Mental Health Day… October 10th.  Today we need to feel 10/10 on this 10th day of the 10th month.  Let’s extend that… and learn all that we can about good mental health.  We can also be aware that sometimes life gets too tough… feelings of overwhelm can take over… leading us into depression or anxiety.

In Australia, 1 in every 5 people are affected by mental illness, yet so many people do not seek help because of the associated stigma attached.  We must all drop this perception and shed a more positive light on mental health.

If you had a broken leg, a gash that needed stitches, or an unknown rash… you would seek medical help without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable.  If you need some help with your mind or thinking processes, seek help… there is no difference.  It is our responsibility to the people of our nation to drop this stigma and support everyone regardless of what medical help they need.  We can all make a huge difference by talking about it positively.

In the farming industry we are built pretty tough, sometimes show a lack of emotion and live by the “they’ll be right” or “no worries” attitude.  The mental health phrase is getting tossed about everywhere we turn at drought support events.  The Government is pumping finances in, to support farmers’ mental health.  Is that what farmers really need right now?  Perhaps… perhaps not.

As a farmer in drought, suffering the physical, emotional and financial strain… life did become too tough for me for a while last year.  Life changes and medical conditions piled on top of that, tipped me over the edge.  I did seek help starting with my local GP and I was diagnosed with depression/anxiety.

Everything around me proved that I was losing control.  This was when I found a way to take back control and to chose to develop a new mindset strategy.  I finally understood that we had NO CONTROL over the weather, the forecast… and relatively little control over our own business and finances during this drought.

But we do have control over how we react.  When we understand that we control our reactions to certain events, especially when things go wrong… life is easier to accept.  Concentrate on those things that you can change.

I chose this option.  Hitting rock bottom allowed me to find a new path… I found a new passion and developed a new business as a supplementary income to farming.  It keeps me going when I concentrate on good mental health and being proactive and positive… despite sometimes feeling that everything is against the odds.

It is important that we think about prevention rather than cure.  But deal with where you are at.  If you need help or support, ask for it.  Talk to your family… talk to your mate… just talk to someone.  Your health, and your family’s health and happiness depend on this.

Each of us deserves to feel 10 out of 10 about our mental health, so today is the day for you to make this happen:

  1. Take Care of Your Mental Health – Being healthy also means to have good emotional health.  We must be mentally healthy to be able to handle the challenges that are presented to us in our lives.  We must learn to be resilient and build strategies to move forward.
  2. Take Care of Your Body – Eat healthy foods to nourish your body, improve your mood and energy levels, making it stronger.  Exercise regularly to allow your mind more clarity and your body to become fitter.  Ensure you always speak positively about your body with your inner self-talk.  Get enough quality sleep to allow your mind and body to heal and refresh every night.  Sleeping well helps you to feel energised, allows you to focus and will protect your mental health.
  3. Embrace Your Emotions – As humans, we are designed to feel different emotions.  Sometimes we will feel sad, angry or frustrated.  Acknowledge how you feel and be aware of each emotion.  Talk about your emotions and then allow yourself to move on, letting new thoughts develop.   Don’t dwell in a state of negativity.  Learn how to manage all emotions… positive and negative.
  4. Think Positively – The way we think can have a powerful way of influencing how we feel.  Think positively every single day to teach yourself new mindset strategies.  When speaking to others, talk about the positive things in your life.  You will start to see the positive side a little more, when that is where you place your attention.
  5. Nurture Your Family and Friends – Form and maintain good relationships with others.  Nurture your family and teach your children how to manage through difficult times.  Foster your friendships and make a point to meet up regularly for social time.  Ensure your relationships are positive and meaningful.  Spending time with your pets is also great to help strengthen your mental health and wellbeing.
  6. Practice Gratitude Every Day – Write down or say something you are grateful for every single day.  Anxiety cannot be felt when gratitude is being expressed.  If you regularly practice gratitude, your mind will start looking for things to be grateful for daily.  This is great for children too.  At dinnertime, every family member can say 3 things that they were grateful for today.  This holds so much power to cope in challenging times.
  7. Focus on the Moment – Appreciate the small things in your life.  Allow yourself time to see the beauty around you.  Don’t get caught up worrying about what could have happened or what might happen.  Put strategies in place and keep making decisions.  Live in the present moment… not in the past or the future.
  8. Open Up to Someone – Find someone that you can trust to talk it through… a family member, a mate or your GP.  Talking about the tough times as well as the good times will enable you to become more resilient.  Attend social events and functions.  Share your load… and connect with others… you will probably find the load ‘magically’ becomes less heavy.  A mutual understanding becomes very supportive during tough times.
  9. Good Habits and Routine – It is important that we identify our own routine and be consistent.  We need to make an effort to structure our days and priortise our own time.  Good habits help us to learn and fuel our minds.  Find support if you need to be pointed in the right direction.  Keep doing the things that you love to do.
  10. Take a Break – We are all so time-poor… juggling work, business and family life.  Don’t forget about yourself.  You can’t be there for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.  Schedule some time out every week… every day… to focus on something you love.  Whether it is a walk in nature, meditation, read a book, listen to music, craft or journalling.  Find what it is for you… to be able to relax and re-fuel your mind and body.

Good mental health and well-being will give us a sense of fulfilment and connection with others.  It allows us to live our lives in a positive and meaningful way.  We become more resilient and can cope with life’s changes and challenges upon our paths.

Take care of yourself and your mates.  Accept that it is OK to not feel OK.  Seek the support you need and adopt strategies to manage stress and keep you physically and mentally healthy.

Take care, Karen.

tulips-175605_960_720

“Don’t believe everything you think.

Thoughts are just that – thoughts.”

~ Allan Lokos