Change

***Graphic warning- There’s some foul language in this post***

Money Makers

I find the whole topic of “change” to be fascinating, horrifying, uncomfortable, exciting and invigorating. For you. For me, it’s become one of those inevitable things that I relish at about 3/4’s of the way through the process. In the beginning of it, I reeeeeeaaalllly hate it. Maybe because, most of the time, change for me has some sort of spiritual component that requires me getting my butt kicked in numerous ways before I grudgingly accept the way in which I need to change. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to wax poetic or philosophic or even attempt to give you advice on the best way to handle “change”. What I am going to to talk about is “this change”. And by this change, I actually mean being laid-off.

So, the metaphysical aspect aside for the time being, I have literally been forced into a change that I had no desire to seek, nor had any idea was coming my way. Granted, the industry that I work in has been in the grips of a downturn of epic proportions. Me? I was actually in a position of relative security only six months ago. But, when three projects delay and you are the new kid on the block, and you also happen to be the most expensive, you end up with a pretty sizable target placed RIGHT BETWEEN YOUR EYES. Actually, I felt more like a baby seal saying hi to those curious bipedal furry-faced vodka smelling ice-walkers… ‘Hey guys! you look funny! Why do you need that sti… *Whack!*

To be fair, well actually, screw that. It wasn’t fair. But I do understand the business behind the decision and have always known that the possibility of this type of outcome could happen to me. It doesn’t make it any easier to swallow and coupled with the actual excellent job I had done prior made this one of the most difficult changes I have ever faced. I have not been unemployed in over 30 years. I have never drawn unemployment. And now… I’m not sure.

Going around a boulder on the trail… Ironic

I used to have a couple of “mentors” in the business. My Grandfather, my father, and my first coordinator. They’ve all died. And let me tell you, I miss their counsel. Even if they would not have been very gentle in delivering it! They were all steady voices and knew how to look at things in a way that gruffly exposed their enormous hearts. Berry, Eddie, and Kevin. You are truly missed.

I guess, it sort of gets to the point. The point I would want to make to my sons in the event they are faced with a similar situation. How do you handle it? What do you do? Why the hell did it happen to me? Look, truth is, I don’t know. I’m not even sure God knows. And this is where the part of change that is really important comes in… In fact, this is the most important lesson a man can learn. You are not your job.

Smile

YOU are not your job.

Sure, I mean, thats easy enough to accept when you read it. It’s even easier to accept when you have 4-6 months of operating cash in the bank and have a house that you can afford even if you are unemployed. I mean, I know this is true because this is my situation.

But when HR and your boss sit you down, two days before Christmas, and say “It’s not you. You have done an excellent job. We are being forced to reduce head count because of the delay of 3 projects. As such, here is your package detailing…” The first thing that went my highly evolved spiritual brain was *FUUUUUCK YOU you sorry Motherfucker! If we meet anywhere outside this building I am going break your damned cock-sucking JAW… So help me GOD!* What I said, was “Yeah, man, I get it.”

The fact is, most people, to some degree, are their jobs. Proof? Do you want your brain surgeon to just be sort of interested in his job or do you want him to LOVE his jay-oh-bee? Yeah, me too. And most brain surgeons to a large degree need to LOVE what they do to be able to get through all of the stuff they have to get through to be able to cut on brains. Anyway, I liked what I did. And what made me good at what I did was that I took what I did personal. It was important to me that I did a good job. In fact, the people I worked with also thought that about me as well as clients I worked with thought the same too.

And all of that is great until you become your job. You ARE NOT your job…

Coming up for air

And it’s exactly at that point where your value as a person is tied directly to your job that the whole thing becomes skewed. The point at which you fail to recognize your value in the eyes of your Creator. Or more correctly minimize that value in relation to your value to the Corporation. This is how I came to my current “Change”.

How do I order my life so that the value I bring to life is in harmony with that which my God wants. How do I bring that to fruition while also putting food on the table? Yeah, I’m still working on it and I am hoping that I can get it together quickly. I can tell you that I have spent more time with my spiritual advisor. I have been praying more. I have also been trying, to keep all of my actions centered on Today.

I am not sure that it is making a huge difference in anything other than I have really come to accept that I am not my job. I am a child of God, working at being a better man through prayer. I am trying to make sure that each day, most of my actions reflect what God would have me be. And when I fall short, I ask for forgiveness and pray for the strength to do better.

You are a child of God… Your job is to do His will.

Summer Sun

As an “Ex-Pat”, to say that Summer is an important time of year might actually be an understatement. But I guess a little context is in order. When I say “Ex-Pat” I don’t mean those people who live in countries like England, or France, or Germany though I’m sure they offer some level of difficulty for any non-native. When I say “Ex-Pat”, I’m talking about those of us that live in places like Nigeria, Saudi, Indonesia… Places that offer a 180 degree glimpse of life. A glimpse what the rest of the world lives like.

When one finds themselves working and living in such exotic locals, you start to really appreciate “Summer”. Summer becomes the time for “Normal”. And by normal, for us, it’s the luxury of being able to brush your teeth with water out of the tap. A time when mosquito’s are a nuisance and not a harbinger of a near death experience or even a death experience. A time where my wife can choose to drive herself without it being a scandalous event. Yes, Summer, for those of us who actually chose to live such adventurous lives, is a return to the riches and freedom we sometimes failed to recognize. Even if it is so simple a thing as being able to use a bathroom that isn’t sopping wet. Summer begins with a near sonic boom created by the vacuum of other ex-pats leaving the country on “the day after” the last day of school and my summer generally begins at some other point in time as a result of “vacation” time.

This year, my summer began of July 4, 2016. And this summer was going to be incredibly unique as I was heading back to the “farm”- Fernweh. And though I would like to recount the 30hr journey, it is easy enough to imagine for yourself. You know how when you sit on the toilet for about 10 minutes and your feet/legs, hell, Lower torso falls asleep? Yeah, multiply that by 7 add a couple of poorly mannered waiters and a crazy “neighbor” and you get the idea of traveling in an airplane for 21 hours plus the 9 hours of lay-overs… It’s a whole lot of awesome.

But to be honest, knowing that I was headed home made the travel actually quite enjoyable. Interspersed with the mind numbing muted roar of the jet engines, I was constantly day dreaming of the work that awaited me at Fernweh. And like most “dreams” the reality was a bit different. Different in that I really envisioned things not taking as long to do as they actually took. Part of that had to do with my lack of knowing how to do them, the other part was uncovering things that needed to be done before we could proceed with what we began to do that day. But mostly it was due to being rusty doing those type of things. Hard work is like being fit, its easier to stay in shape than get in shape and so too with hard work…

I also had visions of posting more on the site during the summer… Sipping on coffee while the sun rose and banging out Nobel prize worthy stories… Again, dreams and reality… Your results may vary!

Tractor

13510912_10206940912457408_4897574312091602493_nIt’s hard to really explain why we bought the property. At the time, we were nearing the end of our summer vacation in the US. The oil industry was entering the most severe down turn in 30 years (if not EVER), cops were being assassinated in the streets- we have several family members who are in law enforcement. And it sort of seemed that society was falling apart at the seams. So, we were kind of discussing how we wanted a place that could be self sufficient with a little work. Something that we could grow into. As it turned out, there was a couple who are good friends with my In-Laws. They were looking to sell their place… The property had all of the physical requirements I was looking for and the price was fair. So with one visit and before it was even listed, we made the offer and BOOM, we own a farm…

We weren’t (and still aren’t) exactly sure what we wanted to do with it. Do we continue with cattle? Do we specialize with some sort of unique crop? what

In The Seat
In The Seat

about dairy? The ideas are all viable, but most of them require you actually live in the same country as the farm… We then sort of discussed the idea of creating a “blog” (Not sure why, but I really hate that word) and documenting the whole thing. Now, that was sort of easy… I mean that the idea was easy, actually writing something on a regular basis is really hard! What do you write about? What if it makes someone mad. What if it’s not correct? Who would read it? Could it be of value to someone, could it be a source of information and ideas for others? … Yeah, I had to reign in the ego and just re-focus the goals to something more easily attainable. Write about what you know, and for your known audience- in this case friends and family members. While also making note of the progress and decisions we make leaving the results up to God.

The first decision was when to begin the “Blog”… I REALLY hate that word…? I basically told Allison I would begin it once we had a name and after we bought a tractor. She asked, “What kind of tractor are you going to get?” Dang her and her questions!! She may as well had asked me “Whats the coefficient of friction a tire experiences on a dry road- asphalt and compare that to the coefficient of friction that same tire has on an icy road?” What the hell!?! “And show your work!” Ehhhhhhh, riiiiiiiight…

So I replied “Let’s just focus on the name and worry about that for now…” whew! Bullet dodged!!! The name came about much more quickly than I had imagined- What’s in a Name?… But I still had caveat #2! Clearly, you can’t write about a
“farm” if you don’t have a tractor! I mean, who would even listen to you? You got
no pasture cred!!! Or whatever the general Mr. Salt of the Earth types term as  “street cred“. Figuring I had a good year/year and half before I needed to really get a tractor I set about vigorously putting off the idea of writing about the experience.

I mean we talked about the property. We tossed around different ideas. We debated what needed to be done first. And finally, we decided to take a deep breath, count to ten and wait until I actually got to spend some time on the place. I mean, I literally have spent 45 minutes on Fernweh… After that, we could then really sit down a get some things going. In the meantime, we had a few other things come up, where we had to make some rushed decisions about the property while in Jakarta. So, the very first piece of advice I would give to anyone looking to get into “homesteading”:

1) Make no decisions about your place until you have lived on it for at least 2 weeks.13537585_10206940912657413_4425824352618586043_n

This includes where you’re going to put anything, what you’re going to need, who you’re going to have on your property and what you’re going to focus on. In our case this has been the single biggest stress generator since we have purchased Fernweh. Unfortunately/Fortunately, ‘waiting’ wasn’t possible for us. But, given our circumstances, this is for the best.

Since we have already established that “advice #1” is going to be completely ignored, that I am dodging writing a “blog”, and that I think that term is stupid, we are now to the point in time of mid-April… And my father in-law!

So, thinking that I got to like June 2017 before I have to begin writing this thing, and arrived at a place where the major decisions are postponed to July 2016, we are just clicking along. Doing what we do in Jakarta- Trying not to get Dengue or Typhoid or Amoebic Dysentery- living life. When PawPaw calls…

“Hey Berry, John Deere is running a special…”

Well great!?! I think… So we talk about about the tractor, we discuss about other 13528749_10206940913377431_6179198046282797185_nbrands. Funny thing about other brands, ask your kid what tractor they want. And the answer? Probably John Deere. I’m not sure how that company has been able to have their brand be identified by 4-5 year olds, but it is truly remarkable. And also sort of locked us into the Deere brand by temper tantrum fiat.

Which brings me to my 2nd piece of advice:

2) When beginning anything, it is best to have a Forrest Gump mentality

I say this because, in most cases you are not going to know what you are doing. This leads, inevitably, to questioning your reasoning, the soundness of the decision or even if any of it is worth it. It’s at this point where you have to just know that at your very basest level you are trying to do the right thing and that somehow it’ll work out. Sometimes, life will dictate the choices we make and that 13495047_10206940914097449_5113100152678137142_noften, the best inner response can be “Whatever you tell me too, Drill Sergeant”. And the even better way is to respond with unconditional acceptance of ‘now’, which is what I always found so powerful about that particular movie.

Now, I did happened to do some research and I was also fortunate to be able to talk to a real cattle farmer from Canada. His input was really invaluable. Mainly because he said, “Look, you’re going to need a tractor. And with John Deere, you can’t go wrong”. Good point! “And plus, your kids will always remember climbing up on their first Deere!”

Point made, a good deal with the opportunity to drive a legend.

And thats how you get a tractor… And start a world wide web informational/instructional page. Ehhhh, FINE! ‘BLOG’ !!!13438845_10206940914937470_3342566052369082210_n

 

What’s In a Name?

 

IMG_1578Longing for a place you’ve never been… A little different than wanderlust. That is Fernweh. There is, of course a bit of tongue in cheek irony to it as well. But more on that later… For as long as I can remember, I wanted to travel the world. I’m not sure when it was put in me, but I have suffered from wanderlust for a long time. A bit of a restless spirit jammed into a melancholic soul topped off with a slight chip on the shoulder and you get, Me.

IMG_0458
So, plagued by this wandering… and maybe it’s also a grass is greener, or maybe even a bit of geographical cure for self… Whichever, it has been with me for a long time. It is a relentless drive to see more. To be more, to attach the seeing to a sort of self worth onto the places I’ve been. It’s not to be a travel snob, it’s something more than that. As have little interest in name dropping or place dropping. It’s more subliminal than that and yet more visceral. It would be easy to explain were it not for the incredible pull that exerts itself on my life and has, in some cases, been a point of contention with family. Now, how does that get to Fernweh you may be thinking?

IMG_2657Well, now think of the wanderlust but think about a place you want to be in a year. Imagine the desire to have a place that was sort of a banyan. A place of steady seasons, of lightning bugs and frogs. Of cows and birds. Bees visiting the clover patch. A blue sky dotted with the cumulus clouds that later in the day play the rumbling sounds of the Gods at War… And somewhere, before sunset, you hear “Daaaaad, come see!” just before it fades into the wind. And when you face the call you see a son hunched over peering intently into a crawfish mound… This is my Fernweh.

IMG_0987 (1)But how does one come up wth that? I had never heard it until Allison spoke it to me coming on six months ago. We were trying to come up with a name. A name that fit where we are and where we want to be. Of who we have become and honoring our roots.

 

We had tried a number of different ideas, from Irish towns to words and phrases from the lands we have travelled to. All of them IMG_2414have an appeal, and some even would have probably been better. But for some reason, when this word was defined, it encompassed Us. It is us. We all, from Allison down to Andrew have a bit of Fernweh. And the beauty is that it sparks the imagination and lights the path back home. It is drive and its acceptance.

IMG_3680But to be honest, I’m not the one who came up with it, so that story will have to be told by Allison. I can only tell you whats in the name- Fernweh.

A Little on Jakarta

 

View from my office
View from my office

Jakarta Indonesia is a fascinating place. It is a contradiction. It’s a dump. It’s a jewel. It’s full of happiness and joy. It also overflows with despair. It is Wealthy wrapped in poverty. It is corruption and Integrity. Poetical license aside, when you cram

IMG_4377 31 million people into a 1200 square mile area you are bound to get the sort of contradictions I speak of. By comparison, the nearest urban area in the US would be the New York Urban are which comprises New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in a 4500 square mile are with 10 MILLION FEWER PEOPLE.

So, with the demographic lesson out of the way, what’s it like to live here? Well, it’s a contradiction… It’s wonderful and awful by turns. You have every convenience of any major city in the US, well except the convenience of clean tap water. Oh, and then there is the healthcare, which is better than say an active war zone but is substandard by any other measure. However, you can purchase aIMG_4347 Ferrari, Lamborghini or McClaren… You know, because it is infinitely better to have a supercar than it is to be able to stop the rampant spread of Dysentery or Dengue fever. This is not to judge the political system, or the government, or most especially the people of Indonesia, it is to give a glimpse of the contradiction. Which makes living here challenging. You see the potential this country has and it leaves you wondering if they will reach it.