Yesterday I had a bit of wobble with Instagram. I posted a photograph with an accompanying list of what the main body of my day would consist of in between helping milk the cows morning and evening, mainly cooking and baking. In amongst the positive comments 3 people expressed that my post made them feel most inadequate, put to shame and thoroughly ashamed, whether they posted a smiley face or a wink afterwards was irrelevant to me it had been written and it made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t ♥️ the comments even though they were probably meant sarcastically, or just having a laugh, I felt strange so I sat with it a while. Two other people had liked one of the comments I therefore thought there must be something wrong with my way of thinking. Why didn’t I think it was funny? Cue mental loop, oversensitivity, withdrawal.
All those positive comments and I choose to home in on the negative, or at least what I thought was negative. That is why I am having Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to try to change my thinking from a negative thought to a positive. Looking at the evidence and acting on that instead of reacting to a delusional thought. The main teaching with CBT is that everyone has a ‘bottom line’ or in my case many. Negative beliefs about myself and when they are triggered it causes the same pain I would have felt when it was triggered for the first time.
So which bottom line was triggered here?
Stop showing off nobody likes a show off
The feelings that this triggered were: paranoia, strange, people laughing at me, sadness, exposure, shame, uncomfortable, nervous, upset, questioning myself and the need to justify my motives. Frozen in time and locked in my mind.
Later on, even though I felt uncomfortable with the comment, I double tapped and liked it and I replied with a smiley face. Why? Because I thought it was the right thing to do and the person who wrote it had been a supportive interested follower in the past. But likewise I have always answered her questions and been patient and respectful to her.
I have often considered what is the purpose of my posts and do they have a point. Is posting a photograph and writing something about it a complete waste of time? So I think before I post and select things from the day that I feel might inform, inspire, help or entertain. Does it make the reader think?
By entertain I mean to share the beautiful surroundings I live in or to share a photograph I am pleased with because I enjoy photography. Most of my photographs are taken quickly in the moment, some turn out, some don’t but I enjoy showing the photos I like because it is a way of exhibiting them.
Basically I don’t just post any old shit I think about the shit I post. And the key word there is I. My page, my choice, my work, my life. Freedom of expression for myself, I am not judging anybody else or harming anybody, I am just documenting my days with a phone camera as a friend. People can take it how they wish.
I have thought a lot about the reasons why I do Instagram at all. I might say socialising. I live in an isolated area, I don’t leave the farm to go to work, I don’t see many people. But with the amount of time I spend on it I could go to visit a friend and socialise, I do have friends nearby.
Another reason is as a photographer or any other artist for that matter, I like my work to be seen. That’s the dream, but also the difficulty in some ways. Exhibiting work is one of the reasons why I admire my artist brother. I have always applauded his ability to put himself out there, to be judged, criticised or in modern terms, slagged off. But by putting his work out there in the public domain he is also appreciated, praised and more importantly understood. Of course not everyone does all or any of the above some will just look and move on. So my reason for being on Instagram is just that, an honest expression of my life in words and pictures; on some occasions in its entirety, on others just the basics.
Another reason for doing Instagram is education. As a teacher I loved to share my experiences with the children and for them to share their personal encounters with me. I remember when I did occasional supply teaching in between contracts and I would cover for a teacher who had nothing planned. No lesson planning for a whole day just doing whatever. That was frustrating, a whole day 20% of their week’s learning was going to be … nothing. I am not saying it would all be a waste of time, they might even learn something new but without focus and planning the day would have no pace and no goal. I loved engaging in conversation with the children I taught, listening to their opinions and learning together, and I learnt from them as they did from me.
When I follow someone on Instagram I am always on the look out for someone new to follow that has something different to see from what I have come across before. Recently I began following an account of a man who bakes and uses cattle as oxen on his farm. Another one I love is a lady doing beautiful illuminated manuscript. I don’t follow people because they have thousands of followers I follow because I am interested and I wish to support them whatever the number of likes. One girl I follow has 2 hens, she has recently give them anthropomorphic qualities in her water colour paintings and ‘quotes’ from their daily lives. She cycles and runs and I am inspired by her. How I ever found her I don’t know but I am really glad I did. There are some incredibly fascinating and talented people out there in the world of Instagram. Do I think I am fascinating? No. Do I think I am talented? Not particularly. But what I do know is that I am definitely living what some people would describe as their dream by dwelling, working and raising my family on a farm.
Farming is fashionable and many celebrities now own land to grow fruit and vegetables or keep livestock on.
Russell Crowe has Angus cattle, Janet Street Porter Dexters. Many female celebrities keep chickens: Reese Witherspoon, Barbara Streisand and Julia Roberts to name a few and Elizabeth Hurley rears pigs all the way to production of pork.
There are other celebs that make cheese and let’s not forget the names famous for farming and food: Jimmy Doherty who was funded by Jamie Oliver to set up his pig farm which was documented in the popular TV series Jimmy’s Farm; and Adam Henson probably the country’s best know farmer, conservationist, writer and presenter on BBC Countryfile.
Sheep have been kept as domesticated animals since 10,000 B.C. and it is 3,500 years B.C. since man learned to spin wool. It’s nothing new but when something is so deeply entrenched in history I see it as a privilege to be part of that industry today.
Two incredible people have managed to not only shepherd their sheep but also to write about it, one is James Rebanks Herdwick Shepherd an educated former Oxbridge student and shepherd, and the other former model, mother of nine, Amanda Owen The Yorkshire Shepherdess. It’s wonderful that women are becoming recognised as being farmers as well as men. I follow a few true shepherdesses on Instagram who amaze me that they manage to work their dogs and their flocks over miles of ground and have done so since childhood or they may have been lambing contractors for years or even fairly new to the job but are learning honestly as they go. I love to follow them because I am a real fan of truth and hard graft.
People may see an author’s success in how many books they have sold whilst juggling farm life, I respect them more for just having the guts to do it. For want for a better phrase they must have been shitting themselves when their books were due out on the shelves because they had laid themselves bare. But they did it! I often say that even if people fail or fly at least they had a go.
Do it, do it, do it!
‘I’ve thought about doing …’
‘I have always wanted to … ‘
‘If I could have I would have … ‘
That’s what blogging is about for me, not writing a book or even blogging recipes it’s purely about writing, the act of writing the enjoyment of writing and making time to sit down and do something for me.
I’m a doer I like doing things I don’t do them for show it’s what I do. And those ladies on Instagram that made comments and in return I felt uncomfortable about them I thank you, sincerely, because it has inspired me to think and write again.
Which brings me back to my original thought about my busy day post. I made a braised beef in Guinness stew which was accompanied with roast potatoes and vegetables encased in a giant Yorkshire pudding.
I also boiled and roasted a gammon ham with maple syrup for sandwiches and made a lasagne for Friday’s tea (I’m not going to be in on Friday) We live a 20 min drive from a take away so it’s generally still warm when we bring it home but it’s a long way to trail out stinking of shit from milking so I cook. We generally have what I call an ‘easy tea’ one night a week when we’ll have a pizza or beans and cheese on toast but there’s still 6 meals to cook for 4 adults (my boys are both over 6 foot with size 11 feet) Baking is what I love, they eat it I bake it, they eat it I bake again, 2, sometimes 3 times a week. It’s what I do. Some people go to work, the gym, the pub or socialise or knit, I don’t. Mostly I farm, cook, bake, do laundry and taxi my children around and even though those things are basic I aim to do them well.
Currently I’m dieting, so I’m sometimes making two evening meals but I am on a mission to shift one and a half stone so it’s my choice to do that and I will do it. My mind is set on doing it. Is it easy? No! Have I struggled? Yes! But what do I want more: a fat belly and restricted movement or to be fit, of course the answer is to be fit. So I’m doing it. I said yesterday on my Instagram story
I am motivated by nothing more than to do my best, that is not to be better than anyone else but to do my personal best
If I have had a problem in the past I have read about it, asked for advice or paid for help. If I want to do something I do it if I want to change something, I try to change it.
My cooking and baking didn’t happen by chance it wasn’t a gift and it isn’t the result of getting it right first time. The meals I make have taken me 20 years of marriage to practise and my baking longer still, I baked as a child and I always will (God willing).
If I have in anyway made someone feel inadequate because of the way I live my life that was not intentional. I aim to know people not to just have an idea of who someone is. I test those first assumptions that we all have, theories of what we think a person is like and try to get to know them better in daily life. For some on Instagram that isn’t always possible unless you direct message them because many people use objects, purchases, animals or other people’s words to express themselves and you don’t get to know who they really are by looking at their account.
Joking apart, if you do ever feel inadequate at anytime in your life you should perhaps ask yourself why you are comparing yourself to anyone else at all because I am sure you will have achieved many things in your day that you didn’t write about. Perhaps you were a good friend and listened to someone else’s problems, perhaps you cleaned their bathroom or managed to do all your ironing (I didn’t) or perhaps you were at work all day and were so engrossed in it that you didn’t need to take a photo. Maybe at the end of your busy day you allowed someone else to make your tea. One thing I know for sure though is that none of us will starve on a week of beans on toast, it might make you fart, but it won’t kill you.
It is pointless to compare yourself to others, you don’t live their life and your perspective on another person’s life is just illusionary. And as hard as it is to do, don’t believe the negative voice in your head telling you aren’t good enough or you should be better because what you think you know about someone else isn’t necessarily true. What someone truthfully does in their life does not make them better it just makes them different.
I am a naturally busy person but my time is also taken up with many things that I haven’t directly chosen to be doing. For example nobody warns you how much washing a family of 5 will create and how much food an active family will consume and how difficult it will be living so far away from town to shop and run a home. So any spare time I have I try not to waste it, time is precious because it will run out for us all one day so whenever I need to give myself time I do so whenever I can and I have got much better at not letting anyone else encroach on it when I have it.
It is not easy doing things we haven’t chosen to do so I get around that by finding something in everything I enjoy. Sometimes if I am cleaning the bathroom I will listen to an audio book or if I’m ironing watch something on i player because I hardly ever sit and watch television.
What I do with my time is probably not relaxing and I could probably spend more time on leisure and relaxation but I do love to exercise and walk. If I didn’t feel the need to do my best all of the time I might be able to create even more free time for me but I can’t help that. Last night I was exhausted after tea, I still had my daughter’s bath to run, her bedtime story to read later on, the washing up to do and a load of washing to get out of the machine and put around the Rayburn to dry. But I remembered Viktor Frankl in the concentration camp and I knew I could dig deeper and I could keep going to get to the end of the day accomplished. I delegated Keith to sweep the kitchen and bathroom floor and one son did the recycling. That was a big thing for me I don’t entrust other people to do even the smallest of things for me so I am my own worst enemy at times but at least I am very self aware. I wanted to feel finished before I made my drink and sat down. I did eventually sit down and I felt tired but I felt a sense of achievement. The next few days will run smoothly now I am on top and I can relax Friday night knowing the meal is made and do something nice with my daughter as I don’t help milk the cows on Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings.
I don’t think I am ‘Wonder Woman’ in fact I find grandiose flattery embarrassing.
My imperfections are many, I have already listed them in a previous post, but I also find it difficult to rest. So I bought this card recently to pin up as a reminder that it is ok to sit down and sometimes just be doing nothing at all.