116: The 7 Gifts You Forgot
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As we spend time finalizing gifts for the holidays, I got to thinking about seven gifts we should imagine are wrapped up under the tree. Gifts we probably already have, but sometimes forget about in the hustle and bustle of a hectic holiday.
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1 . The Year that Was
If you’re listening to this, you lived through 2020. And I don’t think there is anyone’s life that wasn’t touched with some kind of change or difficulty, whether that was direct or indirect. But I think the best way to look at the year that was, is to consider the lessons that came out of it. We all learned a lot. What we could handle. When we needed a break. What things needed to change in our life. Some of us were pushed to make those changes and we wouldn’t have made them without the struggles we encountered in 2020. Some of us felt validation for choices we had already made. Some of us got perspective. Some of us learned how much we take for granted.
Homework: What is one thing that 2020 taught you?
2 . Opportunity
I know there is a whole mainstream world out there that’s screaming that life is hard and life is tough and nothing turns out and everything is horrible. But I kid you not if your great-great-great grandparents were here, they’d laugh at us for complaining about some of the things we complain about, for focusing on some of the things we focus on, and for our inability to see the opportunities we have that we absolutely take for granted. The ease in which we can do things that were an absolute impossibility for them. A lot of people were frustrated that they had to work from home, but had that opportunity not been available during the various lockdown periods instituted this year, it meant a lot of people simply wouldn’t have had work.
Something to point out here is there are many opportunities available, but it doesn’t mean they will just drop in your lap and it doesn’t mean they aren’t work. Oftentimes when I bring up there are many opportunities available, someone will say “oh really, what about…” Opportunity means having eyes to see what’s out there. To dig through the cant’s and won’ts and shouldn’ts and it’s hards to see what could be possible. Starting a business is hard, but there are tools today we didn’t have 50 years ago. Starting a homestead is definitely work, but there are ways to make it happen that don’t require 250 acres of land. Going back to school is a commitment, but you can do it from the comfort of your home now. That wasn’t available when I was in college. Connecting with like-minded people who happen to live faraway from you takes time, but it doesn’t necessarily require getting on a plane anymore. You just turn on your computer. Spending the day reading doesn’t even require leaving your house anymore to find a bookstore or a library. You can just one-click a button and send a book to your Kindle. Have you ever thought about how insane that is?
Homework: Are there opportunities in front of you that you need to look in to? What are they?
That cup of coffee in the quiet morning. Maybe for you it’s something else. But those few moments. Maybe it’s knowing you’re working towards removing yourself from the noise of the world. Maybe it’s understanding how to have peace within the noise of the world. Maybe it’s knowing that the life you’ve built isn’t centered in chaos.
Homework: How do you find peace?
Living with a spirit of gratitude makes you see the world differently. And I don’t think that living with a spirit of gratitude means ignoring the reality of things that are happening around you, and the unfortunate thing is that’s often how “gratitude”, or “focusing on the positive” is sold to people. But you can focus on the positive and be grateful for the things you have without pretending that struggle doesn’t exist. It’s unrealistic to live as though the two can’t exist at the same time.
Gratitude is a gift, not only because it helps you live your life in a more positive way, but also because it reminds others to do the same. Have you ever met a new homesteader who is so flippin’ excited about the fact they have chickens? Or goats? Or are moving to a place that has five. whole. acres?
Their excitement is actually gratitude. And it’s contagious. And inspiring.
Are you thankful for the eggs in your coop? Or do you just swipe them up and bring them in the house and move on to the next thing? It probably depends, and I’ll admit I absolutely fall into the swipe them up category sometimes. But when you can really lean into the gift of gratitude and pull that in to your life, let me tell you what—the fact that you have chickens, and those chickens lay eggs for you to eat and bake with or give to other people can feel downright magical.
Homework: Make a list of ten specific things you’re thankful for.
Advanced Level: Move past the obvious “God/Universe” or specific people (mom, dad, spouse, kids, friends)
Sometimes I look down at my plate and it’s eggs from our coop, bacon from our pigs, and toast made from the bread I baked in our kitchen. The things you grew, raised, or created this year are a gift. Don’t take it for granted. This was the first year we made dandelion jelly. This was the first year we successfully grew our own potatoes and onions. And every time I go down to our basement and grab some potatoes for supper I’m like, “we grew these!” and I’m so excited. And I get that it would be funny to put a bunch of them in a gift bag and put them under the tree, but really…why not?
An accomplishment can also be a skill you learned. Did you finally learn to back up a trailer? Did you figure out how to run a chainsaw? Did you learn how to fix that broken thing on your homestead? Filling up your bank of skills is just as awesome as filling up your bank account.
Homework: What did you create/grow/raise/learn this year?
Rain is just… rain. But it’s a blessing to someone living in a drought. It’s also a curse to someone in a flood. The only difference is the situation, the reality a specific person is living in. The perspective they have.
Our reality—the way we view everything that happens in front of our face, the way we imagine what could be or remember what was—it’s all different. We live together on a planet called Earth, but we’re all walking in different worlds, seeing Life pass by with different eyes. The world that exists within the six inches between our ears differs completely from the six inches between any other human being’s ears.
Perspective is a gift—not because it minimizes our own experiences, beliefs, and realities, but because it helps us to see that our normal isn’t everyone’s normal. And our “understanding” and “knowledge” isn’t universal. Getting married at 21 is different than getting married at 50. Having kids at 17 is different than having kids at 30. Working for a boss is different than being your own boss. Living in Minnesota is different than living in California. Etc. And etc. And etc. It all works together to create your perspective.
Your perspective can help other people. And other people’s perspective can help you. The trick is understanding that different perspective exist (and why they exist) and then understanding that it’s okay that other people bring different things to the table.
Homework: Think of the last time you were in conversation with someone and you disagreed. Consider how their life experience shapes their perspective. Consider how, in mature adult conversation, both of your perspectives can help each other move forward on the issue.
7. You (Yes, YOU!)
It’s a Wonderful Life is my all time favorite movie. I didn’t see it until I was in my 30s and I only watched it because I figured it was a classic and I should probably sit down and see it at some point. Talk about a brick upside the head moment. What a gorgeous message that movie has.
You are a gift because you matter. You matter to other people and you affect other people’s lives. You are not just a skin covered skeleton walking around this world, wasting your time until time runs out. If you were not here, there would be a hole, and the world would be different. Have you ever stopped to think about that?
Someone looks forward to seeing you. Someone looks forward to talking with you. To hearing what you have to say about something. Someone looks up to you.
Tie a dang bow around yourself because you, my friend, are a gift.
Homework: Write down five awesome things about yourself.
— Amy Dingmann 12-22-20
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