The Balance Act for Rural People


February 6, 2019

Jolene Brown and Ann-Marie Benjamin

This weekend at a MFU Women's Conference held in Fairmont, Jolene Brown, CSP, CPAE a National Hall of Fame Speaker talked about how to relieve stress and renewal of the farm and family. She has been speaking to farmers and supporting them of 37 years.

Jolene talked about the three benchmarks of balancing our lives. It was surprising the importance of individual physical health and healthy relationships. She talked about how important it was to realize dreams and a clear plan that moves desires and hopes into action.

She realized suicide in the state of Montana is the highest in the nation and that depression runs high in rural communities. Jolene herself had a neighbor that killed his family before he killed himself. It is important to recharge, revamp, and celebrate ourselves.

She mentioned 10 ways to reduce stress: It is important to develop mini breaks often during the day. Also, farmers and ranchers don't take vacations and it is important to commit to vacations no matter how small.

Engage in worthy work. Demonstrate appreciation by keeping a gratitude journal along with random acts of kindness

Clarify necessary documents, meaning to have good business practices. Most families have a family first business approach not a business first business. She wanted to stress that conversation is not a contract.

Jolene believes we need to take two tests. The first question to ask is, "Is it urgent?" Do we need to act immediately or can we wait? And second we need to ask, is it ethical? If every decision we made were to be discussed in the local newspaper, would it stand up to scrutiny.

We need to build support. Professional advisors are important to every farm family. A good CPA and financial planner. Build support with personal relationships beyond your family that you can connect with often.

Every farmer and family member needs to keep learning by attending conferences, classes, webinars, and read publications. Jolene believed using the internet for global information and specific needs was imperative. Making connections with professionals that know more and implement those opportunities in your own operations.

We need to learn to laugh. Jolene said, "If you want to enjoy your journey you have to accept the things we cannot control or change. We may never live to be a hundred, but you can live 100%."

Laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Look for humor every day. "If you are struggling to discover humor, get a 4-5-6-year-old involved in your life." Make laughter opportunities and keep a humor journal. Find friends that are enjoying their life and join them. Some people are "CAVE" people. "Citizens against virtually everything." She ended by saying, "The world is so hungry for joyful people!"

She is the author of three books; Sometimes You Need More Than a 2 X 4; Holy Crap I Married a Farmer; and The Top Ten Mistakes That Break Up a Family Business.


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