Earlier in 2020, I wrote about the uncertainty that COVID 19 has delivered and likened it to farming in a difficult season. Ones never sure of what trick the “rain Gods” or in this case the “virus Gods” will deliver next. There’s much anticipation, manoeuvring and the continual need to adapt to the new set of circumstances. It’s exhausting and distressing for those most hard hit and distressing for those who watch from a distance.

In drought years, and there’s been a few recently, its city folk watching ABC news reports of cracked soil dry dams and somewhat damaged humans. Taking a sip of pinot gris or craft beer and tucking into last night’s left-over risotto, they most likely ponder why on earth one would want to be a farmer. (Well there’s plenty of reasons, but that’s for another article). They may even say out loud, “I’m glad I don’t live there” before taking another sip, finishing the risotto and dragging out their device of choice to finish trawling through emails that never get the attention they need in the office or on the tram home. One eye on the device, the other on Netflix.

This year, in Victoria at least, it’s the country folk who watch evening TV with a mix of empathy, sympathy and fear. We watch distressing TV scenes of mainly migrant families holed up in a confined space that was built for another era and not intended by the original architects to be used as it still is.

We hear COVID numbers going the wrong way and politicians and public servants looking more sombre, sleepless, and dishevelled by the day. We see countless frustrated family members and community helpers who tell the stories of the humans behind those fogging windows and beige bricks. I’ve lived in both country and city settings and love both but I am thankful I have a choice to live somewhere else at the moment.

In both scenes I describe above, the common threads are humanity, distress, uncertainty and both the pleasant and unpleasant human reactions that come with that. Both are an everchanging situation that requires an everchanging response.

As Greater Metro Melbourne, Mitchell Shire and to a lesser extent the border communities adjust to their new normal, I’ve been thinking about what can, us country folk do for the tucked in city folk. I personally can’t do much practically, as I have to stay within 50 km of Echuca if I want to retain the right to cross over into NSW.

I could ruminate and worry about everyone and ruminate and speculate and worry about potential infections in our community which is a popular destination for Melbourne visitors. The place has been teeming these past few weeks which is great for our economy. None of those strategies though are going to help anyone. Its same in drought, worrying and ruminating about the lack of rain doesn’t make it rain.

I can provide emotional support where it’s appropriate to offer it and I need to be in good emotional shape for that.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I am going to intentionally think about joy. That is, joy with a little j, not Joy the lady next door who used to send down bags of hand me downs for me from her three daughters. That was handy as my brothers’ hand me downs were not so socially acceptable at high school. Little joy has a cousin, little hope and when combined they are a rather good combination for managing mindset in tricky times. For more on joy and why it’s good for you, check out Lisa O’Neil’s latest book Everything you want and how to get it www.lisaoneil.com.nz

Joy helps us maintain perspective and perspective helps us maintain resilience and resilience helps us cope with difficult circumstances. That over used R word is pretty handy in difficult times such as pandemics or droughts, regardless of where you live. For more on resilience check out the work of Kathryn McEwen www.workingwithrelience.com.au or my earlier blog…..

Negativity derails resilience and this weekend I am using joy to ward off negativity.

Working with farming clients through several droughts taught me the following.  If I maintain my resilience, rather than go into a deep hole, I’ll be better positioned to offer emotional support to any of my friends, family, colleagues, and clients who are struggling with the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Extremely tough times such as COVID 19 knock on our door whether it be urban or rural. So, if you are in the thick of it or in a support role, perhaps a joy list can help.

Today’s joy list is:

  1. St Kilda Football Club – The team is winning more than losing – the vibe seems good.
  2. The season so far. There are still areas doing it tough but there is a wider spread of areas with reasonable rainfall and crops and pasture progressing well
  3. Writing – Waxing lyrical in these blogs brings me much joy.
  4. A husband who’s in good golfing form – if he’s happy, I’m happy
  5. Serving clients – It really does bring me joy to help family farms, corporate farms and agribusiness service providers reap the rewards on offer from Agriculture by harnessing the power of combining people, production, and profit.

Take care, stay safe.