Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Everyday Is Saturday - Almost

March 24, 2008

Being partially retired, I have had an opportunity to reflect upon work and its meaning in my life. I keep busy and have meaningful goals in my life, both personal and work-related. But as I confessed to a friend in an email, "Retirement is great! I am a lot less ambivalent about it now and I can see and appreciate its benefits."

It took me a while to adapt to the new routine, or lack of it. My friend told me that to him retirement meant every day is a Saturday. It took me a while to understand it or even to adjust to it. I wrote a previous column, "Observations On Retirement", describing the shock and changes I experienced in the first few months after leaving work.

I have experienced the new opportunities, relaxed more, recreated more, and had many more connections with children, grandchildren and relatives. I have more time to be of service to my wife, to be a companion to her and to serve others.

Even though I am busy with work, I am not as focused on work goals as I used to be. I am more accepting that my contribution to the world is what it is - not what it could be. I assume it happens to most people as they let the mantle of the importance of their work and probable self-importance slide gently off their shoulders.

Life is now more about legacy, family and relationships and finishing goals, that still need to be done.

On the personal side, I would like to:

- work on some key family histories and genealogy with my wife, including writing our own autobiographies for our children and grandchildren so they’ll know what life was like when we were young..

- learn the Russian grammer enough in two years so I can make meaningful conversation. This is a challenging language to learn and certainly mentally stimulating and humbling.

- continue to provide backup financial support for our youngest unmarried son who still has the bulk of his undergraduate college work in front of him.

- work on physical fitness and health habits.

- travel and visit grandchildren. I want to get together with my adult children and their families and create opportunities for family interaction, affection, and enjoyment around holidays and reunions. I look forward to travel for pleasure, learning and new experiences - at least as much as we can afford and my wife will allow.

- have more time for reflection, reading and enlarging my perspective of life. This goal may be the most elusive of all, considering all the rest of the things on my list.

Professionally, I want to:

- continue to provide mediation services to farm and ranch families who are having difficulty in their family/business relationships. There is great satisfaction in giving needed services to families who are at a loss on how to restore harmony and cohesiveness to their complicated work/family relationships.

- write a book on rural family business management summarizing what I have learned as a professional from successful farm and ranch families. I would like to illustrate the book with personal stories and examples of farm families who have implemented business and family practices that promote profitability, cohesive working relationships, family harmony and a legacy of successful transitions from one generation to the next for their family enterprises.

If you want to participate or if you know of an exemplary family that represents successful family management, email me at val@valfarmer.com or write to me at The Preston Connection, PO Box 1135, Orem UT 84059.

- keep marketing my two books currently in print, "To Have and To Hold" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Farm". "Honey, I Shrunk the Farm" is a book geared to farm and ranch families experiencing financial stress. "To Have and To Hold" summarizes my thirty years of counseling insight and advice on how to have a great marriage.

- continue my newspaper column. I hope to keep the column fresh and vital by adding new thoughts and perspective to both personal and rural life.

- renovate my website where I have archived my past writings and make it more user friendly.

- continue to lecture and give presentations.

Is this really retirement? In some ways it doesn’t sound like retirement at all. It seems pretty ambitious. It is more like my definition of retirement, "moving from one form of work to work and activities of one’s own choosing." I loved my 32 hour week of counseling individuals and families and the good that I could do, but none of the rest of this could happen while I was so engaged.

What I said to my friend, I say to all of you, "Retirement is great!" I recommend it. Not everyday is a Saturday but at times it sure feels that way. It is a good feeling.