June 21 2018 08:30 AM

    Every single day, there are people struggling in one way or another.

    Friends, we cannot compare someone's highlight reels to our behind-the-screen struggles. This family photo is about as good as it gets for me and my Jersey squad, but we capture these moments once every three to four years.

    Many people are sitting next to us in cubicles or standing by us in the grocery line. Or in our case, it could be our neighbors, the sales rep, or a farmer just like us, who is struggling with physical or emotional pain.

    Thanks to technology, we have the capability to connect with anyone at the touch of a key, but somehow, we have grown more isolated from one another than ever before.

    Our world is so rushed. We are constantly on the go. Social media will plan your life, if you let it. It is constantly suggesting events that are nearby, reminding us of one another's birthdays, and of course, showing us everyone's newsfeed.

    That is where real problems stem.

    I don't escape this either, friends. Seldom do I post when I have a bad day. My guess is neither do you. But, when life is going our way, we feel the urgency to post. I'm guessing it’s not to brag but instead to capture the goodness life offers. But, by doing this, we force people to compare our good days with those who are having less than that. Friends, we cannot compare someone's highlight reels to our behind the screen struggles.

    So, I suggest taking a break from social media. Or at the very least, pause, look up from your phones, and reach out to those that are struggling. Kindness cost nothing and pays unlimited dividends. Ask someone how their day is going; especially those that you haven't heard from or you know are struggling. Even more importantly, listen to what they have to say.

    Suicide rates are up by nearly 30 percent. This is staggering. When I see on the news a person that seems to have it all has taken their own life, I'm reminded that nobody truly has it all.

    I know, our lives as farmers are so much different than most. We are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to produce food for our growing world. There is so much responsibility and so much stress on our shoulders.

    Try to let the sunshine that graces your back in abundance this time of year remind you of the goodness life has to offer. Look up and listen to kids giggling outside. Watch multiple generations work side-by-side and be proud of the heritage that we continue to pass along. Smile at the satisfaction of a good corn crop or that stellar fresh two-year-old cow that just went 88 points.

    The list of things that went wrong can be pretty overwhelming; it's easy to get consumed by it. Focusing on the good is needed. Looking up from my phone helps. When I do, I'm reminded that the goodness this world offers might come in pint sizes. It may be late at night when my eyes are tired, or on the weekend when all my friends are at the lake. Goodness is all around us. We just have to look up to see it.

    If you or someone close to your heart is struggling, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.


    Karen Bohnert

    Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.