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Give yourself the gifts that make life so much better

These eight gifts can’t be bought, but are more precious than anything offered in any store

Encouragement is a much appreciated gift, and I have the pleasure of sharing this with young men and women around the world.

From the farm in South Africa to the apple grove in Holland; from the backyard farm in the Philippines to the grain farm in Saskatchewan; and all places in between, there are passionate and enthusiastic young men and women who often just need a word or two of encouragement. It is a gift to be shared and I would like to propose that encouragement and other gifts can also be given to ourselves to keep us fuelled, engaged, and ahead of the game.

For young farmers and in particular for young female farmers, the road to landownership can be tough. There are many young people who are not involved in the farm but really desire to be a farmer or have an agricultural career. Although exposure to farming operations is important and some experience is helpful, the thing that will set them apart is financial literacy. It is indeed, the one key ingredient in every business and the glue that holds the dream together. The complexity of agriculture can be challenging at any stage of life. Give yourself the gift of financial literacy.

There are so many streams in agriculture it can be hard to choose what to do. Even for an established farmer, the technology is exciting and the avenues for information are limitless. I find it fascinating to discover how little I know and seem to be running in high gear just to keep up — and I am certain I am not alone. This continuous thirst for discovery fuels the mind. Give yourself the gift of curiosity.

My own story is a little backwards as I am obtaining my education now, when most folks are thinking of retirement. Education is possible at any time, but taking advantage of your education in the younger years allows for deep connections that serve you well in the future and give you credibility. As an independent, I did not carry another’s company banner and lacked the education. This took away my credibility in some circles. Never too late and always valuable, it is a game changer to give yourself the gift of education.

Life is complicated, and sometimes I fail to understand what is happening or why. Our unique differences may set us apart, but can be a bit of a puzzle to those around us. Sometimes we react, which is not of value or complimentary to either party. Treating all persons with acceptance — be they rich or poor, of the same religion or race, gender, background, political view (or have same cattle breed) — is critical to growth. Give yourself the gift of understanding.

Whenever and wherever I travel I am aware of one truth and that is that I am “the guest.” In being the guest I refrain from imposing my views on someone, in leadership terms it is called ‘white privilege.’ If the country requires a headscarf, then wear one. If you are to bow, then bow. At home if we are to take our boots off at the door, then do so. And always be interested rather more so than interesting in conversation. Even in our communities, when we are both gracious hosts and gracious guests, it opens the door for conversation that is authentic and allows for a relationship to grow. Give yourself the gift of respectfulness.

Who we are and what we do is deeply imbedded in our code. We all need some tweaking as we walk the journey of life and should be open to these times. One must keep learning to keep breathing, but how we execute those lessons is up to us. How many young brides thought they would ‘change’ a man only to wake up to the same unchanged guy? How many young men thought they would ‘train’ a woman only to discover she was an independent soul who had no desire to be trained? The businesses we own, the lives we lead, the relationships we have all mirror us. Yes, we must be good citizens and be kind and compassionate at all times and keep learning, but in all things we must be ourselves. Give yourself the gift of authenticity.

I was thinking of my cellphone and asked myself, which is more important: The phone or the cord for charging it? I came to realize that both were rather useless without the other and so it is in our lives. Just like the spotter at the end of the extended ladder, we cannot be what we are without those who are supporting us. Recognizing them for the role they play in our journey and encouraging them on theirs brings a lot of peace to a home or business. Give yourself the gift of support.

And finally, give yourself the gift of a little self-appreciation. Know that in your everyday walk of life, each simple task, kind word, or compassionate action is a gift to both the recipient and to yourself.

About the author

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp is a farmer from Alberta who works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at www.brendaschoepp.com. All rights reserved.

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