There are so many things that I love about spring in the Midwest.
The return of color, as yards turn green again and flowers start to pop out.
New babies on the farm, fresh calves and sweet baby chicks.
Since we bought our previous house, back in 2006, Mr. Farmhouse and I have loved sitting outside watching thunderstorms. We would sit out on the back patio at the previous house and when we moved into the farmhouse, the front porch became a favorite place to watch storms roll in from the west.
When the storm gets close enough that we almost can't handle the rain and wind, we gather up our belongings and rush inside to watch from the safety of the living room windows.
On the morning of May 4th, however, I was at work when the storms started to brew out in eastern Kansas. Mr. Farmhouse was at work, as well. The two younger girls were at my parents' house and our oldest had stayed the night at her cousin's house.
Because we were handing out meals at school in a drive-through fashion, I had been keeping my eye on the radar. There wasn't much happening around school (about 30 miles northwest of where we live), but the forecast was looking kind of scary down at the farmhouse.
When it looked like it should be over with, my sister-in-law had sent some pictures of their backyard. Their chicken coop was flipped over, their swing-set was all but demolished, and let's just say their trampoline had seen better days.
The farmhouse sits about 3/4 of a mile north of their house, so I started to wonder if there might be a chance that the same straight-line winds had hit our place.
I called Mr. Farmhouse and asked him to head out there on his lunch hour and check things over.
I had a virtual meeting coming up, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there might be some damage on our property, so I made arrangements to participate in the meeting from my phone.
I climbed in the car, secured my phone into the cradle on my dash, and headed home.
About 15 minutes into the meeting, as I was visiting with my colleagues about what the fall might look like at our school, I got a notification text message from Mr. Farmhouse. I ignored it, thinking I would check it out after the meeting got over. Then another text came through. Still, I continued through the meeting. Finally, he called.
I clicked out of the meeting to answer and I could immediately tell Mr. Farmhouse was shaken up a bit. "It's not good. I think the house is okay, but you'd better get here soon."
Within ten minutes, I was home.
As I came upon our property, I could see bits of our barn strewn about through the pasture. There were pigs out of the pen, grazing in the yard. The carport looked as if it had been picked up and set back down, and the girls' playhouse and basketball goal were both toppled over. The garden was destroyed and parts of the roof of the house were peeled up.
I knew that the rebuilding process would be a little inconvenient, but that evening when I climbed into bed, I just prayed and thanked God that we were all still here. That the damage had not been worse...and that we had only lost "stuff".
As we have been wrapping up the school year, our last few weeks have also been filled with learning about insurance claims and scheduling contractors to come finish the work we can't do ourselves.
We have started working on rebuilding the girls' play-set and spent a full day cleaning up the debris from the barn.
Thank You for home insurance and friends & family to help with clean up.
And thank You for Mr. Farmhouse and these sweet farm girls.
Thanking God as we put the farm back together here at the farmhouse,
PS. During the same storm that blew the barn away, a tragic storm-related accident happened not very far from our home. Please join me in praying for the friends & family of a sweet, sweet woman who lost her life in this storm. Pray for the children who witnessed the tragedy, the family who is putting the pieces back together after the tragedy, and this woman's granddaughter. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And let's be honest...it can be so dark and gloomy outside!
Days and days of inside recess. Need I say more?
In the education world, the "third quarter slump" is alive and well.
But this year...I'm not in the classroom.
I'm sitting in an office doing a job that I love working with a team of leaders and staff members that just warm my heart.
I have lamps and a little peaceful fountain and I can use the restroom whenever I want.
We have had a few unexpected days off and I feel like I'm basically in control of my house right now.
And I'm still feeling the "third quarter slump".
I think sometimes this time of year is just hard.
This time of year is often lacking sunshine.
Illness is making its way around.
It's cold...and sometimes snowy or icy, making it hard to get from point A to point B.
It's dark when we leave the house and often dark when we get home.
And let's be real here...some of us feel like we have already failed at some of those goals we set on January 1st (less than a month ago).
The winter blues are very real, but there are a few things I've found that help me to heave myself out of that third quarter slump when the days feel long and not as enjoyable as we would like them to.
For example, participating in the Farmhouse654 12-week challenge has given me some direction over the next twelve weeks.
My days are filled up with purposeful tasks that help me to meet goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.
Another example would be the fact that Matthew and I have booked a cruise for mid-July for our 15-year-anniversary. This helps me to be hyper-focused on a few financial and health goals I would like to accomplish before then.
There are some projects around the outside of the house that we would like to get finished before next school year. This winter, we are working on identifying these projects and breaking them down into manageable steps we can start NOW.
In fact, Mr. Farmhouse and his crew (our dads, brothers, cousins, Harlee) got the outside fence posts put in a few weekends ago when we had a spring-like day! And he's out there again today...at 19º. Brrrr!
2. Keep Moving
This weather makes me want to hibernate.
I want to run to the car in the morning, drive to work, do my job, leave work, and come straight home to curl up in my bed.
I don't want to do anything extra...including housework, cooking supper, or especially exercise.
However, I have found that when I set a schedule to get some movement into my days, I truly and honestly feel better.
Even if it's only three times a week, if I can get onto that treadmill and force myself to DO something...it really makes a huge difference in how my week goes.
3. Turn on the Lights
It's no secret that sunshine is good for the soul.
Seasonable Affective Disorder (SAD) is the scientific name for the winter blues.
While experts have lots of suggestions to help beat the winter blues, they all seem to agree on one thing...the importance of LIGHT!
Turns the lights on and turn them on early.
Start the day with artificial lights on to trick your body into thinking that rest time is over and it's time to get going.
Open blinds or curtains to let as much natural light as you can throughout the day and SOAK THAT STUFF IN!
4. Stay Connected
When we are feeling down, we sometimes have a tendency to slowly separate ourselves from others.
We spend more time at home.
More time cooped up inside.
More time disconnected from others.
There's a fine line between taking some at-home rest & relaxation with your own little family and putting up walls to start and build a barrier with the outside world.
And it's all a slippery slope.
The more time we spend disconnected from others, the easier it is to not let people in.
The more days we go straight home and avoid human interaction, the easier it becomes to think of that as the "norm".
Stay connected with others. And not just online.
Meet up with a friend for coffee.
Make a phone call (gasp!) to a friend.
Go out and run errands...talk to people!
5. Do Something
Finally...do something. Do ANYthing.
Sometimes the winter blues can become extreme and paralyzing.
And sometimes it is hard to make yourself do anything above and beyond your necessary daily responsibilities.
On days like this, I think it's important to just START.
Do ONE thing.
And then do another thing.
Take it moment by moment, task by task.
Do something and then sit down and rest.
Do another thing and then sit down and rest.
We sometimes need to work through our days (or evenings) like this...just babystepping our way through some of those tasks we tend to put off during the winter.
Sometimes those first few tasks can get our motivation rolling enough to make some serious progress...even on a hard day.
Here's the deal.
The winter blues are real.
They can come at different times and at varying degrees for all of us.
For my dear friends struggling with clinical depression, I know that these five suggestions won't cure that.
There are medications and therapists and lots of options for support available and I hope and pray that you are taking advantage of these things.
However, maybe...just maybe...focusing on some of these suggestions will help to lighten the blow of the dark & cold days that comes with this season.
Day by day,
Goal by goal,
Step by step.
We can do this.
Looking forward to spring here at the farmhouse,