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by Julie Dees

There is a lot of talk about the benefits of living off of and working with the land. Most of what you’ll hear revolves around the tangible things that people routinely attach a value to. These might include having only the freshest food on your table or ensuring your kids know how that food they’re eating came into being. Or it might be the weight you’ve lost from the physical exertion of working the farm. Seeing your hard work pay off at harvest with a bountiful crop is another. All of these things can be assessed or measured in some way. They can help you find satisfaction and worth, but can they really help you find your inner peace?

Inner peace isn’t talked about as much because it is intangible – it can’t be touched, seen, or gauged. But it does have an impact and is a direct benefit to your inner being. Your inner being can be called whatever you like: soul, psyche, ego, spirit, chi, or life energy. It is whatever YOU choose to call your inner self or consciousness. The key here is that no matter what name you’ve given it, it needs to be fed and nurtured just as your body does.

Much of what we do on an everyday basis is done in order to feed our bodies and replenish our coffers. That seems to be the priority and is just the way it is. There are a lot of benefits to working with nature that feed both our bodies and our souls, but we can’t always see them. Taking a break from the craziness of today’s overly connected world can help us find that inner peace. This occurs even when we don’t realize we’ve been searching for it.

See the Unseen

You can connect with your inner being and find these unseen benefits if you just take the time to reflect and look for them. Some examples might be:

  • Think of how you felt when you saw that very first row of corn seedlings peeking up through the soil. Do you remember the excitement as you picked that very first ear off of the stalk? YOU did this!
  • Be proud that you’re canning peaches and making cobblers just like Grandma did fifty years ago. You may even be using her hand-written recipes and keeping the family traditions alive.
  • Enjoy the fact that your entire family is unplugging from technology and thriving away from the rat race. Your kids are beginning to understand the cycle of life in a way no textbook could ever show them. They also now know what it means to be a “good tired” when they go to bed.

Find Your Inner Peace Now

You don’t have to be physically on the farm to tap into that happy place inside you. Learning to slow down and breathe while letting your imagination wander can be done anywhere at any time.

Shut off your electronic gadgets, close your eyes, open your mind, and let your senses take over. Now imagine…

~ the rhythmic sound and feel of the hoe hitting the dirt as you weed or the soft thud of the ax as you chop wood.

~ the peace and calming routine of picking each piece of fruit and gently placing it in a basket.

~ the feeling of the soft dirt crumbling across your fingers or the bumpy-smooth hardness of that walnut shell you’re cracking.

~ the taste of an almost-too-ripe strawberry as the sweet juice hits your tongue and taste buds.

~ the smell of sun-warmed hay being tossed into a feeder as hungry goats mill around you.

~ the beauty and joy of a cow nuzzling her newborn calf or a flustered hen trying to corral her wandering chicks.

The act of visualizing these images can help bring your blood pressure down while giving your spirit a boost. Allow them to help you find your inner peace – even if you’re stuck in that office chair at the 9-5 drudgery for now. Get in touch with that inner you and let it know you’re heading home to the farm soon.

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Perfect For Beginners: Add This To Your First Ever Workout Routine

If you’re like me, the idea of working out seemed unnecessary. I’d say, “I’m a pretty active farmer and my work has me moving every day so why bother working out?” And how about those of you in your prime (unlike me!) you might think you have plenty time to start, no need to worry about it now right? Well let me tell you there is no time to waste and here’s why:

We’ll start with the usual info, the stuff we’ve all heard I’m sure. A good workout improves your health, and strengthens your heart, arteries and lungs. Think in terms of being healthier in the future, the workout you do today allows you to live your best life as you age. And of course exercise helps control weight, and reduces the risk of diseases like certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Now, let’s talk about how it fits into our lifestyle. I recently watched an episode of my favorite local TV show that showcases the farming lifestyle here in California. This particular episode interviewed a long-time homesteader that manages her 2 acre property at the age of 80. 80! And to what did she credit as the reason for her incredible endurance? It was her pure love for animals, gardening and, her exercise routine. Her workouts improved her breathing (think about chasing a chicken), balance (tip toeing through the veggie patch), and flexibility (really, we all need this one).

For these reasons, you need to get a workout routine. Agreed? Start with one or more of the following basic exercises. I like to think of this trio as the foundation, add more over time to build your perfect routine. These are outstanding for core, glutes/leg and upper body strength and toning.

A good start would be to do this twice a week. Do 3 sets of 5-10 reps each.

Crunches For A Solid Core

Lie on your back with your knees bent and slightly apart. With your hands behind your head and your elbows out to the sides, curl forward lifting your head and shoulders off the floor. (Do not use your hands to lift, use your abs and curl up.) Exhale on the way up, inhale as you go back down. Repeat.

Tip: Do crunches slowly and with control.

Tip: Keep a little bit of space between your chin and chest.

Tip: Remember to keep your stomach pulled inward because it actually helps protect your lower back.

Leg Lifts On Hands And Knees

To do this you need to be on your hands and knees. Put your hands forward and lined up with your shoulders, and knees lined up with your hips. With a straight back, exhale as you lift one leg up until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your foot flexed and inhale on the way down. Switch legs and repeat.

Tip: As mentioned above, keeping your abs pulled in really helps your lower back.

Tip: As you progress, bend the knee as you raise your leg to where your foot is more parallel to the ceiling.

Simple Push Ups For More Girl Power

To begin, lay down (on your stomach) with your hands flat on the floor next to (but slightly under) your shoulders. Lift/push your body up off the floor, straightening your arms and keeping your knees on the floor. Flex your feet so that your toes are touching the floor. Your body should be straight, and your abs tucked in. Bend your arms and lower your body back down very close to the floor but without actually touching it. Repeat.

Tip: Make sure your elbows are close to your body as you lower yourself downward.

Tip: Advance to a slight pause – in the downward position, hold the position for half a second longer.

Tip: Advance to lifting your feet up – with knees still on the ground, cross your feet, raise them up behind your butt and keep them there until finished with the reps.

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