Mike Kozlowski

I Decided That I Would Farm For One More Year…

Mike Kozlowski is an incredible young farmer near Red Deer, Alberta and he’s also a good friend of ours, an inspiration to many others in the farming community, and a passionate producer of healthy food for his local community and customers.  A few days ago, he publicly shared a deeply personal insight into the struggles he faces in carrying on with his farm business.  With Mike’s permission, we’d love to share his post with you:

 

 

This is all really personal, but I want to share because it’s important to me and it’s real, and there are just so many cat videos on here.

It’s the end of the farm season. A handful of tasks remain before I shift and start to focus more on yoga for the winter. Last year at this time I was beat and beaten. A hard season had taken its toll and my emotional and physical reserves were low. I was able to gather enough strength to get clear on one goal though; I decided that I would farm for one more year, and if I couldn’t find a way to make farming feel good, I would quit.

I love this picture that Andrea Wiseman masterfully caught of me this fall. I love the flying carrots, dirt and roughage that make the photo seem to move. I love the look of joyful abandon on my face, and the way I can see that joy expressed in my body. What a stupid thing to do, to whip carrots around like such a lunatic. Better than the look of joyful abandon though, was the feeling at the time. I made a decision to get in touch with my joy body, to let it flow through me, to let go.

It’s no secret that farming is a big commitment, a challenging lifestyle, and a labour of love. So much is out of our control, there are never enough hours, and the to-do list never seems to end for those intense six months. Years ago, a mentor of mine told me that he didn’t know how long he would be able to keep farming because of the crippling levels of stress that lead to illness, negativity, and dark thoughts.

I’m happy to say that I figured something out this year that has changed everything. It’s the end of the season, I feel energized, positive, and ready for more. It’s a bewildering position to be in, so drastic from how things have been in the past. I’ve considered that the change could just be that I’m one year older and one year wiser. I’ve considered that a few smart business decisions have saved me time and money.

The truth is, I think it’s more than that. I’ve made a decision to make this work. I decided that I can’t give traction to those feeling of extreme stress, anger, self-pity, or that feeling of “I’m working so fu&king hard and just need a break and why fu&k does everything always go wrong”. These feelings still come up, but when they do, I’m learning to connect to my body, notice the sensations, and let them pass through me. It sounds simple, anyways.

Connecting to my body sounds esoteric, but in a literal sense, it usually means sending awareness to my chest. I feel something in there; movement, something stirring, that I could probably call energy, though that term can be troubling because of it’s wide and varied use. When I become aware of that physical stirring, it’s like a manifestation in my body of the things going on in my brain. If I can find it physically, it becomes possible to explore it, observe, breathe, let it pass and carry on.

This isn’t yoga, exactly, though my yoga practice this summer has helped me immensely. It’s a combination of ancient and modern ideas, techniques, and philosophies that I have learned from countless amazing teachers, books, meditations, and practices.

So, this can’t solve 100% of our problems. It can’t change our chemistry or our past. But when coupled with an extreme commitment to self-care (I posted a video at the end of September on my timeline describing how I got married to myself this summer), I’ve found that life feels infinitely better, the future seems bright, and I feel powerful and energized. Most of the time.

God I just hope that you are all on a path toward self-development and discovery, that you can find more ways to live with positivity, and though we all know the darkness exists, that you are figuring out ways to feel better each day and let more of your light shine into the world.

Farm on bro! Much love and bliss your way.

Mike

 

 

 

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3 replies
  1. Mindy
    Mindy says:

    Mike, thank you for this incredible honest sharing of your experiences and where you are now. My journey has paralleled yours; years of hard work and then brokenness and then a rebirth. I feel so proud of where my husband and I are now with our small certified organic farm, where, with 2 amazing employees, we have built a strong, viable business. I feel we are living proof that it can be done. We are in our 60s now, and looking to transition the farm to someone younger. I worry that so many young apprentices working on farms have bad experiences and thus will not be inclined to go into farming. We have learned so much, have gotten very efficient and the 4 of us have consistently been producing $100K + over the past 3 years.
    Utter physical exhaustion can do strange things to your mind. I too was so negative, so unhappy, to the point of despair. Yoga, meditation, slowing down, letting go of the need for perfection, eventually led to a whole new way of seeing life. Yes, “getting married to myself. ”
    I real eye-opener was a conference I went to on “Scaling Up” your small farm. Pretty much all of the presenters had been through a divorce. Not where we wanted to be!

    Reply

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