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Serving: IL

Rolling with the punches we never wanted

Holly Spangler red barn in corn field
BACK, BABY: Life isn’t about never failing. It’s getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. Over and over again.
How do we keep getting back up when life is hard, and all we want is to be normal again?

If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when you take a person who’s used to going a hundred miles an hour and absolutely put the brakes on that whole operation, let me offer up a window into Spangler family life this winter.

A family ski trip led to a torn ACL for me, which led to surgery, which led to a month of not fun recovery and rehab. I spent January alternating between the couch and physical therapy. I managed kids and meds and tried to work. My husband took good care of me.

There were some definite low points, especially when the reality of the situation hit: I needed help to do anything. I couldn’t drive myself. I couldn’t remember anything (thanks, drugs). Sometimes I couldn’t be left alone. The basics were exhausting. Like, say, showering.

I was operating at significantly less than 100%, and that was hard to swallow. And I could see it in my people’s eyes, too: Mom was down and that was weird. It’s not normal.

They wanted normal, and so did I. Like the days when I could drive myself places.

As we come up on the one-year mark of the pandemic, I think we’ve all hit that wall at different times. We’ve written a lot in these pages about the positive parts of the pandemic, including creative endeavors and really good family time. Those things are true. But we can’t write about the good stuff without acknowledging the hard stuff: We miss family and traveling and high school gyms and people on bleachers. Our kids’ academic and social lives have absolutely been ripped to shreds. If you, too, have a high school senior in your house, then you know. Some of us have been sick, and really sick. Some have even lost friends and family members to the virus.

So here we are. We’re all trying to roll with the punches. We really are. But we’re tired of hitting walls. We just want normal again.

Master farmers?

Even at work, we want normal. We are a company that pivoted to put on a virtual Farm Progress Show in three months’ time, but you know what we haven’t been able to do yet? Hand out awards to the 2020 Master Farmers.

We were less than a week away from holding the 2020 Master Farmer banquet when the world shut down. We delayed it till summer. Then until December. At that point, I actually thought the worst-case scenario was a combined 2020-2021 MF banquet in March 2021. Then that became the best-case scenario. And then even that wasn’t possible.

Normally, we’d be preparing to announce this year’s winners in a couple short weeks, but alas, not this year. Our fingers-crossed hope is that we’ll be able to hold a summer event safely and recognize both 2020 and 2021 winners, and we’ll share their big news in a summer issue.

All of this is incredibly frustrating to folks like me who like to have a plan. We literally have no idea what the next six months will look like.

But here’s what I know: In my lowest moments the past few weeks, when I struggled to walk and realized it would take months (not weeks) before I was back to 100%, I had to square myself up. Remind myself it could be worse. It’s not like I won’t recover. I’ll walk normally and lead heifers and do all the stuff I want to do, eventually.

Kinda like a pandemic. It will pass, eventually. Life will be normal again, eventually. We’ll hold a Master Farmer banquet, eventually. We’ll recognize good people who’ve lived good lives.

Because life isn’t about never failing. It’s about getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. Over and over again.

In life, on skis and in pandemics.

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