Tag Archives: perspective

How do you build “intentionality” and “perspective” in your life?

The FYF family traveled to the Grand Canyon over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the first time in twenty years that Matt and I did not spend Thanksgiving on the farm, and the trip taught me a lesson in intentionality and perspective. The dictionary defines the word “intentionality” as the fact of being deliberate or purposeful; and “perspective” as a particular attitude toward or a point of view.

The Grand Canyon left me awestruck. Hiking in and around the canyon provided a truly unique perspective as the landscape view adjusts with each step and change in light. After several days of “looking”, I decided that I never would see all of the intricacies of the Canyon. Honestly, perhaps that is its true beauty. Each different view or perspective inspired me to keep looking — to keep searching — so that I might better understand it.

I came home thinking, “Is that really any different from my faith journey?”

It is easy to fall into a routine in our daily lives, as routines bring comfort. But, challenging our own perspective allows us to grow and mature. While looking at the world simply through our own eyes is easy, seeking to understand it at a deeper level requires intentional study.

I wrote a blog post on the 5th year anniversary of this blog (almost two years ago) called, “Refilling The Cup”In it, I talked about 5 things that I do in order to sustain as an advocate for agriculture. While this is a bit of recurring challenge, I find that staying true to these five practices helps me to keep going. Just as I struggle at times to refill my cup of agricultural advocacy, I also wrestle with refilling my cup in life.

In any given day, numerous people ask us to give time and energy to work on projects. Whether it is jobs, volunteer projects, or our families: the list of requests can get long and leave us feeling stressed and drained. While all of the things that we do hold meaning, they can quickly drain the cup if you have not developed a healthy culture that refills it and keeps you moving forward with a peaceful heart.

While a full cup leads to a true sense of joy as we reach out to help others and live with honor, a drained cup brings feelings of resentment and fatigue that create an unhealthy perspective. The healthy, peaceful heart slowly transforms to a sad one full of judgement. The body quickly follows with a bone deep tiredness that leaves us without inspiration.

For me, refilling the life cup stems from intentionally focusing on my faith. It involves valuing myself enough that I prioritize time to develop my soul. This not only allows for the cup to refill, but it actually allows it to grow so that ultimately I have more to give. I forgot this for a few years, but I have worked hard over the past 11 months to get it back.

Here is a short list of things that help me to create a healthy culture that refills my cup:

  • Take time to recharge — everyday. For me that is a combination of prayer and exercise.
  • Take time to commit to a perspective of hope — every hour. For me that is a periodic “gut check” to make sure that I value myself and believe that I bring meaning to the world.
  • Take time to commit to a smile — every minute. For me that is remembering to count my blessings and express gratitude for the gifts in my life.
  • Take time to commit to God — every second. His love and support inspires me to greatness.

Discipline and commitment to the above things allows me to retain my optimism and open my perspective. It is an intentional journey and one that never ends; but the road is lined with joy, hope, peace, and honor.





Filed under Coaching / Personal Growth, Family, General

A Lesson In Perspective…

Grandma made the trip from Florida to Nebraska to watch :)

Grandma made the trip from Florida to Nebraska to watch 🙂

My favorite 16 year old brunette traded her basketball shoes for high heels this winter when she became a member of the 2016 Haymaker Speech Team. Her long-time dream of attending an Ivy League college combined with the intellectual nature that she inherited from her mildly nerdy parents led her to the path of public speaking. She began the season as a novice participator and ended it as a varsity competitor at the Nebraska Class B State Meet on Wednesday.

Ashley Grace qualified for state in the Extemporaneous Speaking category. An incredibly unique event, Extemporaneous Speaking involves drawing a topic from a large pool of both global and domestic current events to create a 5-7 minute speech citing specific news resources to support the oratory content. Each competitor has 1 hour to write and prepare the speech before presenting it to a judge/judges. Every meet involves the entrants competing in 2-3 rounds (2 preliminary, 1 final) drawing different topics for each round.

I have to admit that I nudged my favorite brunette toward this topic because I recognized the invaluable life skills that it would help her to develop. Learning to intelligently convey your thoughts in an effective, organized, and interesting manner ranks at the top of Anne’s list of life skills. Being able to do it publically in front of a judge, under the pressure of time constraints, is nothing short of awesome. I watched my daughter evolve from a nervous and unconfident competitor to a poised, thought provoking, and eloquent speaker over the span of four months.

While the season far surpassed any expectation that I had as a parent, it ended in a sea of frustration for my daughter. After winning the first round at the state meet, she delivered what I believed to be the best speech of her career in the 2nd round. Her seven minute oratory on necessary changes within the Republican Party leadership in order to rein in fringe candidates was clever, organized, and beautifully presented. Unfortunately, the judge did not agree with her interpretation of the topic question and, as a result, scored her so harshly that she fell short of qualifying for finals.

The experience provided an interesting lesson in perspective…

One could argue that a differing personal interpretation of an open ended question should not result in such a punitive score reduction. This action ultimately denied her an opportunity to compete in the finals, but I think that perhaps the lesson is much larger than placing at the Nebraska State Speech meet. The lesson did not appear in the lost medal; rather, it originated in the season long acquisition of a valuable public speaking skill and culminated in the realization that the same words on a paper can mean different things to different people.

It is hard for many of us to recognize that perspective colors interpretation; but that is a reality. Neither the judge nor my daughter were wrong on Wednesday, they simply interpreted words differently as a result of having unique perspectives. I cannot begin to count the times in my ag-vocating journey where this has occurred. Perhaps one of my most valuable acquired life skills came from the realization that the blending of eclectic perspectives leads to learning and personal growth. The first step in this process is accepting that words and views can be meaningfully interpreted from multiple angles.

I am incredibly proud of Ashley Grace – the poise that she displayed this week as well as the hard work that went into her public speaking transformation warms my heart. While it may take a few days for her to let go of the disappointment of the lost medal, I am confident that she will ultimately realize that that the true prize exists in a broadened perspective and the maturity that comes from being able to look at the world from a variety of angles.

My favorite farmer fervently wishes that the leaders of our National Republican Party could have listened to the words of her speech – perhaps then our country would be able to climb out of its current political quagmire 😉




Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General

Civic Duty…

Many of you know that I spent the better part of last week in Washington DC.  The night before I left, my oldest daughter came into my bedroom and said, “Why are you going to Washington DC?”  She is currently studying civics in social studies class so I asked her, “What does the term civic duty mean?”  To this, she replied “Yeah, Yeah, it’s your responsibility as a citizen of our country to be an active participant.  I know that, but I don’t understand why YOU ALWAYS have to go…Can’t someone else go instead this time?”

I love my girls and I love our farm...

As difficult as it is for my girls to go a few days without me around, I think that it sends a very strong message of personal responsibility to them as they watch me take the time to contribute.  There are certainly days when I worry about the future of our country, but I also feel a tremendous amount of American pride that results in a personal duty to share and to educate.  I believe that every American has a gift to share, and the prosperity of our country is contingent on finding a way to blend together all of those gifts in a wonderful display of teamwork.

Jessica grew up on a cow/calf farm in Eastern Nebraska. She was an Animal Science major at the Univ. of Nebraska with a minor in Political Science. She spent a couple of months interning with me at my cattle feed yard, and now she is in Washington DC with Senator Johanns office. Her ability to learn and share makes me proud and exemplifies the American way...

I am honored to play a pivotal role in feeding my fellow Americans.  My life caring for cattle and raising beef has very tangible results (whether the beef that I grow is feeding my family or yours).  At the end of the day, I feel as though I have contributed in a unique and necessary way. I feel as though I have shared a gift, a part of myself, which makes my community and my country a better place.  I am also honored to share the life that I lead with others so that they can understand how I raise animals and grow beef as well as other products that are made from my cattle.

This is what I grow...This is what I like to eat...This is what I feed to my family and hopefully to yours as well!

Perspective is a concept that I reevaluate daily as it helps me to both better understand my animals and also the people for whom I grow food.  When I travel back to Washington DC each year, I get a chance to gain perspective and insight into how we, as Americans, can come together to reach a common ground which hopefully results in success.

There is a tremendous amount of strength and history in this building...

If I do not leave my farm and travel to the gathering place of hundreds of lawmakers and millions of customers, then they may never realize the truth of how I grow their food. They may never get the experience of learning first hand where their beef comes from.  Conversely, by interacting and reaching out to those fellow countrymen and women, I gain a better perspective of how we can come together to be successful as a team.  As I take a turn “walking in their shoes for a few days”, I gain new perspective and understanding.

Sharing my thoughts in the House Agriculture Committee room with staff members of Congressman...

The bottom line is that both I and my daughters learn an important lesson in civics when I make my yearly pilgrimage to our capitol city.  We are all reminded that the privilege of being an American comes with the responsibility to actively and respectfully engage…

A beautiful sunset against the Washington Monument...A good end to a good day.


Filed under Foodie Work!, General

What’s Your Perspective?

The color of my eyes has always been brown.  My eyesight has always been average.  The world as I see it out of my average brown eyes continues to evolve and change.   When I think back to the way that I viewed the world as a 22 year old urbanite college graduate, it is easy to note a fairly drastic change in my perspective.

Encarta defines perspective as “a particular evaluation of a situation or facts, especially from one person’s point of view”.  I believe that life is a journey and one’s perspective dictates the lens of the camera through which the journey is viewed and documented.  The ever changing lens of perspective channels both our beliefs and our resulting actions as we pass through that journey of life.

We each have an ever evolving perspective...

There is no doubt that my life has undergone massive changes in the last 15 years.  I left the city, moved to rural America, went to work on a cattle farm, learned how to run a small agricultural business, gave birth to three beautiful girls, and was challenged for several years with a chronic illness.  Every single one of those momentous events (and the hundreds of smaller ones that went along with them) has altered my perspective and shaped the way that I now view the world.

He is genetically wired to think very differently than me...

Learning to understand the perspective of a prey animal has been invaluable to me in both my quest for self-improvement and my vocation of caring for cattle.  Spending each day interacting with animals that view the world so very differently from the way that I do has quite literally opened my eyes and taken me to a new level of observation.  There is no doubt that the perspective that I have gained from my animals has not only changed my thought processes, but has also likely created a perspective that is different from many of you who do not spend your days surrounded by cattle.

Do you see the calf looking at me? Can you tell that he is asking me a question?

I tell my children that empathy is one of the most important traits to develop. Having the ability to understand another’s feelings is a life skill that is intrinsically tied to success—I would be unable to properly care for either my family or my animals without it, and would likely also do a very poor job of explaining my feed yard to you!   I ask myself routinely what your (my reader’s)  perspective looks like as I write my blog posts.  Just as I try to view the world through the eyes of my cattle, I also try to view the world through the eyes of someone who does not live on a farm.

We spent four years together at Dartmouth, now she lives in Los Angeles where she writes screen plays for TV shows and movies, and I live in Central Nebraska and raise cattle. It takes empathy to continue to build a shared perspective...

After my experiences over the last couple of weeks writing the Lean Finely Textured Beef blog posts, and then having them circulate through social media resources via BlogHer and a couple of other non-agricultural blogs; I am realizing that I need to continually work on understanding the perspective of my urban consumers.  Although I used to be that person, my life has changed so drastically in the last 15 years that we now view the world through different lenses.  While I work on this, I would like to encourage all of you to continue interacting with me via Feed Yard Foodie so that you can share some of my perspective and we can also hopefully develop a new shared perspective together.

I put the Interactive Feed Yard Foodie Cattle Handling Challenge up last week as a way to inspire all of you to broaden your perspective and try to “think like a calf”.  I also have a few early posts from last spring that will help you to do this.  If you missed them, you can use these links to read them:  https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/understanding-how-a-calf-thinks-and-what-he-needs%E2%80%A6a-cornerstone-of-good-care/https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/empathy%E2%80%99s-role-in-caring-for-food-animals%E2%80%A6/.

Can you see the intent and the interaction that is occurring between me and the light red / yellow steer?

I want to end this week with both a promise and a request…

  • I promise to steadfastly try to understand your perspective and realize that you will invariably view the world differently that I do.
  • I ask that you please help me to understand your perspective, and also to open your minds to the perspective of a cattle farmer who spends her days working with animals that are grown with the express purpose of raising beef.  Additionally, I ask that you recognize that the perspective of my animals is very different than any human perspective and must be properly understood in order to offer appropriate care specific to those animals.


Filed under Animal Welfare, General

The Complexities of Nature…

I have fond memories of riding on the top of my Dad’s hunting rig keeping a watch out for his bird dogs as they looked for quail.  I was always content to just be outside looking for animals and enjoying the landscape.  It was peaceful, quiet, and soothing to my soul—a sharp contrast to the city where we spent most of our time.

My brother and I next to the hunting rig with one of my dad's dogs and the quail she found...

It has been decades since I did that with any frequency… By the time that I was in Junior High School, swimming workouts and competitions dominated my life and kept me from weekends out at the hunting camp; but those early years with my family hunting on cattle ranches in South Florida gave me a glimpse of what I wanted my life to be like.  The quiet solitude that I found in the rural Lake Okeechobee area opened my eyes to the complexities of nature and gently steered me to the life that I live today.

My children take for granted the quiet solitude of rural life, and have learned early to respect the awesomeness of nature.  They watch the challenges that their daddy and I face everyday farming and caring for livestock amidst the irreconcilable force of Mother Nature.  Our life revolves around animals which both fascinates and frustrates them (depending on the day!).

The landscape of "The Mara" in Kenya---really not that different than the grasslands in Nebraska...

When Matt’s parents suggested a family trip abroad, the idea of a safari appealed to us because of our fascination with animals. However, it was not until I stood up for the first time in the safari jeep that I felt the sense of déjà vu taking me back to my childhood memories of riding on the top of the hunting rig.  I remembered trying so hard to spot animals and keep track of the dogs…I remembered the rush of pleasure when my dad would tell me what a great “look out” I was…I remembered the quiet beauty of the grass lands and the marshy swamps…

Megan, on the "look out" for animals...

As we spent our days riding around in the jeeps on safari, I smiled watching my middle daughter, Megan, look for animals with the same tenacity and fascination that I had as a child.  Her expression of awe and pleasure as she took in both the animals and the landscape warmed my heart and reminded me so much of both myself and my dad.  As the saying goes, the apple does not fall very far from the tree.

They come from different worlds...

My oldest daughter, Ashley Grace, brought home memories full of facts on the animals and the culture of Kenya.  She is a twelve year old walking encyclopedia with a keen ability to remember facts and details, and soaked it all up like a sponge.  I am fully expecting for her to periodically surprise us with random facts from Kenya for many years to come!  I am also trying to get her to write some poetry about the trip, and hope that she will accommodate us and put some up on Ashley Grace’s Corner soon.

It looks quite a bit different than our house...No electricity, no running water, a dirt floor, and it houses eight people in a room smaller than my kitchen...

My youngest daughter, Karyn (age 7), had perhaps the biggest epiphanies on the trip.  The afternoon after we visited a tribal “homestead”, she looked at me and said: “Mama, I learned something today.  Not everyone here has everything that they need.”  As a parent, I cannot think of a better lesson.

She got a little bit braver after the initial shock wore off and she was no longer sitting in the seat directly below the cheetah...

About two days after this, a cheetah jumped up on the roll bar on the jeep that she and Megan were riding in.  Karyn and Megan were riding in the back seat (right below where the cheetah jumped up), and Karyn amazed everyone with her ability to move with ROCKET SPEED to the front of the jeep!  Megan had just remarked early that morning that she really wanted to see a cheetah—After the cheetah jumped on their jeep, Karyn told Megan that getting THAT close to a cheetah “really was not necessary”.

Up close and personal...

Although Karyn remembered with clarity, sometimes it was challenging for the rest of us to recollect that the animals were wild and untamed.  The guide told us that the first thing that the animals learn when they are young is who their mom is.  The second thing is what a jeep looks like.  They view the jeep as a “cage”, and as long as we stayed inside the jeep it was just a natural part of their environment.

Am I going to make it?

The same cheetah that jumped up on Karyn and Megan’s jeep also jumped up onto the jeep that Matt and Ashley Grace and I were riding in.  As awesome as it was to see it that close up, it was incredibly disconcerting every time that the big cat looked down into the jeep at us.  I have to admit that it even made me a little bit nervous.  Interestingly, as you can see from this picture, Ashley Grace (my cat lover) was without fear and completely enamored by it.

Aglow with wonder...with an unrestrained wild cheetah close enough to reach out and touch...

Although all three of my daughters created their own independent experiences and memories in Kenya, they all brought home a new perspective.  They gained a new appreciation for both nature and for the blessings of living in a country where food, opportunity, and modern technology are aplenty.


Filed under Family, Foodie Fun!, General

The Gift That Keeps On Giving…

The Christmas tree that was once laden with ornaments no longer adorns the living room.  The carefully wrapped gifts are opened.  The thank you notes are written (hopefully!).  Christmas Day 2011 and the gifts traditionally given are now memories.

Many years at Christmas-time I worry that my girls will not remember all of the gifts that they receive because the day becomes a mass of activity and a resulting blur…This year was different.  This year, Matt’s parents gave all of us a gift that keeps on giving.

One of the rural airports that we flew out of...No air traffic control, no security, and a dirt runway.

Our family traveled to Kenya on a safari for Christmas.  This trip marked the first major family vacation in the almost 16 years that Matt and I have been married.  Worry about leaving my animals and my business for a significant period of time, worry about taking my children half way across the world, and worry about the safety and logistics of the trip all plagued me in the days prior to our departure.  I remember having a phone conversation with my mom a couple of days before we left where my stress-laden voice cried, “Is it worth all of this work just to go on vacation? It would be easier to just stay home!”.

This is my comfort zone...

I am a home-body.  I am comfortable in my world that consists of my family, my farm, and my town.  I am a creature of habit and normal routines are important to me.  While this trait is very helpful when managing a cattle feed yard where the animals need constant and consistent daily care; the down side is that I tend to develop a tendency toward tunnel vision.

When I think back on all of the gifts that I have been given over the years, it is the gifts that bring me additional knowledge and perspective that I cherish the most.  My life is a series of experiences, and each one has played a huge role in making me the person that I am.  From my background in competitive athletes, to my education at Dartmouth College, to my years of learning to care for animals and run a business-I am certainly a different person today than I was twenty years ago.  While I am very proud of the person that I have become, I also recognize that in order to benefit from continual growth that sometimes I need to go outside of my comfort zone.

In order to think outside of the box, I have to go outside of the box…

Straddling the equator--half on the Northern Hemisphere and half on the Southern Hemisphere...

The trip was absolutely amazing.  The culture and the animals both fascinated and captivated the psychologist and animal lover in me.  I filled half of a journal with notes and asked thousands of questions.  I am planning to write a series of posts to share my experiences and insights: agriculture, food and culture, and the beautiful and wild animals that call Kenya home…Perhaps by reading my posts your knowledge and perspective will be broadened just as mine was.  After all, it is not every day that a Feed Yard Foodie goes to Africa!

Perhaps my perspective is skewed, but there appears to be a cheetah on the top of the jeep that my two younger girls are traveling in... That can not be possible, can it?


Filed under Family, Foodie Fun!

A Different Point of View…

Studly and I teamed up again last week to “ride pens” because my cowboy was on vacation.  I spent the week checking cattle, and thinking about the difference that “point of view” makes when you look at the environment around you.

My point of view is different while atop Studly’s back than when I am on the ground.  I can see more things because I am higher up, but being on top of a prey animal (horse) and surrounded by other prey animals (cattle) also causes a shift in the way that I perceived the world around me.  I pay more attention to detail…

Here is an array of pictures from the week:  from the point of view of atop the horse…What do you see when you look at the pictures?

Waiting for the sun to rise...Do you see the cattle in the predawn light?

There is the tip of the sun...Does the world look different yet?

It's almost up!


This one is my favorite...Do you see the cattle resting in the foreground, and the others playing in the background?

The sun is up...Do you see the rainbow just to the right of my feed elevator?

I saw all of these things in the span of an hour.  I feel blessed to have witnessed the beauty.  Have you stopped to notice the beauty that surrounds you today?  It is everywhere–just waiting for you to notice…Happy Monday!


Filed under Environmental Stewardship, General