by Jess Campbell

Learning to ask for what you want is not really about asking at all.

All of us have desires; wants and needs that fuel our decisions and the way we decide to live our lives. The funny (not funny) thing about it is, not many of us know how to ask for what we want or need in a way that, y’know, gets us what we want or need.

Rather than just blurting something out and hoping for the best – or worse, not asking at all – here are some ways to get help you get what you want and avoid becoming a doormat.


It might seem a bit strange to start with this one – but actually knowing what you want is the best place to start. If you know your position and why you want what you want, it’s a lot harder for people to respond by giving you something you don’t. For example, if you want to get to bed in good time but a friend has asked you out for dinner, you can either say no outright or say yes with the caveat that you will be heading home at a specific time to make sure you’re in bed on time. It’s a win-win.


You’d think you could just ask someone for what you want, right? Not exactly. When you ask someone for what you want, you are handing over your power and asking them to make you happy. But if you simply tell them what you want, you’re retaining your power and your ability to make yourself happy. It goes like this: “Honey, could you maybe check the barn later?” vs. “Honey, it would be really helpful if you checked the barn later. Thanks!” See the difference? The former is an open-ended question that leaves room for refusal (and lack of happiness on your part). The latter is a direction, posed kindly and sincerely. Cue all the happiness.


Much of the time, people avoid asking for what they want because, deep down, they don’t feel they’re worthy of getting it. This is People Pleasing 101: you put the wants, needs and happiness of others before your own wants, needs and happiness. You feel the act of putting someone else/other people first is what makes you worthy of love and belonging. Well, spoiler alert: You’re already worthy. This concept is especially difficult for women to embrace because, well, take a look at history for that explanation. The point is, know that you are just as deserving as the next person. You are worthy of having what you want, right now, no matter what.


Despite our best efforts to ask and communicate and know that we’re worthy – we can’t always get what we want. If and when what you’re asking for isn’t possible, understand that you’re still worthy of what you want and that perhaps what you requested just isn’t feasible right now – or the person you’re asking simply may not be in a position to make it happen. While disappointing, you can still celebrate the small wins: asking/telling in the first place and knowing you’re worthy no matter what.

Communicating your wants and needs can be scary – but it can result in you actually getting what you want. Conversely, you’ll never get it if you never ask. If it makes you really uncomfortable to communicate your needs, start small and remember – you’re worthy, no matter what.

by Jess Campbell

We know what we do and how we do it – but knowing why we do what we do can make all the difference.

As farmers, it seems there’s an obvious answer to the question of ‘why do you farm’?

To produce food. Duh.

But to consider that question on an individual level, thinking about it from your personal perspective – why do you choose to be a farmer?

The answer may not come to you so quickly, and that’s okay.

When people talk about their life’s passion – their purpose – it’s easy to see a noticeable difference in the way they explain themselves. Their eyes light up. Their voice becomes light and animated, or perhaps calm and assured. They may even start talking with their hands a bit more than usual. And this is all because they know their why.


There are numerous benefits to discovering why you choose to do what you do. Simon Sinek is the author of Start With Why. Sinek indicates in his book that when you understand your why, you’re able to live a more intentional life. You’re able to create a baseline of personal values and essentially live your life by them, making decisions easier, relationships richer and more meaningful, and inject integrity into your actions in order to work toward and achieve your goals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The thing is – who cares? Who cares why you do what you do? Aren’t we all just as self-absorbed as the next person?

Not exactly.

Human beings are biologically wired for connection, so much so that to be reclusive or separated from others for long periods is as dangerous to our overall health as physical disease. When we align ourselves emotionally with our why, it inherently connects us with others in a far more powerful, meaningful way. We are able to trust and love and support one another on a deeper level; we effectively see ourselves in other people. And what’s more connecting than seeing yourself in someone else?


Self-awareness is a good place to begin when it comes to finding out why you do what you do. But here are a few more things you can do to begin going down this path of self-discovery.

Think about things you do that cause you to lose track of time. If you find you’re keeping a constant eye on the clock, that doesn’t say much for your level of enjoyment for the task you’re doing. What makes you forget the clock altogether and gets you into the “flow” of life? It’s these things that typically are where your passion lies.

Next, think about what you loved to do as a child. Children choose to do things they love and don’t yet have the notion to think about what they “should” be doing. Perhaps you loved riding horses, tinkering with cars, skateboarding or drawing. Have you kept up these things you once loved or have you let them slide? Revisit these activities and take note of how they make you feel.

Then become aware of what people ask of you when they come to you for help. Are you the resident clown who people come to for a lighthearted laugh? Are you the person who people ask for advice? Are you a great listener who allows people to vent their frustrations without judgement? You may not be able to see your talents like others do, so see if there’s a theme the next time someone asks to sit down with you.

Finally, if you could teach people something, what would you teach them? Answering this question forces you to think honestly about your legacy and how you might want to be remembered. It’s never pleasant to think about death – but it makes it a bit easier knowing the people you left behind will be filled with gratitude and love in having known you and learned from you in the first place.

Understanding your why for the way you live your life is deep and meaningful work. It’ll help you nurture relationships with others and to build the relationship you have with yourself. Equally important, knowing your why will allow you to live with gratitude, purpose and intention – and to easily answer the question why do you farm.

by Jess Campbell

Learn how your breath can make all the difference in stressful situations.

Have you ever watched a child sleep?

If you have, you’ve likely noticed their belly is the part of their body that rises and falls with each breath; it’s the first thing to rise on the inhale and the last thing to fall on the exhale. This is the normal human breathing cycle at its best – but it’s not actually something many adults do consistently.

Adult humans walk around holding a lot of tension in their bodies, tension that’s often (unconsciously) held in the chest. This makes it physically more difficult to inhale a normal amount of oxygen into our lungs and, therefore, causes most of us to be breathing in a shallow manner.

Why does this matter? Isn’t the fact that you’re still breathing at all your top priority every day? Certainly, yes. But what if how you breathe could progress into something that not only keeps you alive but also lowers stress levels, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, and helps to manage stress and anxiety?

It is possible – with a deep breath.


Let’s have a little science lesson about breathing. Excess carbon dioxide – rather than low oxygen levels – is what triggers breathing to happen in our bodies. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of the energy your cells are creating as you continue to live and function. An excess of carbon dioxide triggers a message to be sent to your brain to increase your breathing rate and get rid of that excess. (Specifically, it’s the brainstem and the autonomic nervous system that regulate and dictate breathing, respectively.) This makes complete sense if you think about how quickly you breathe when you’re physically stressed, like when you’re running or doing intense manual work, or when you’re emotionally stressed, like when you’re arguing with someone or worrying about something.

Faster breathing can and does happen without your conscious permission; it’s your body’s way of managing perceived threats, better known as the fight-or-flight response.  Out of all our automatic functions and the incredible things our bodies can do, breathing is the only autonomic system we can consciously influence. Yet it can be overridden by unconscious signals caused by things like how much you’re worrying about the upcoming planting season or how you’re going to get through another succession planning meeting without your temper flaring.

Learning to control your breathing and to deepen your breath can significantly improve your mental and physical wellbeing. Let’s take a look at how to do it.


Deep breathing can both wrangle your autonomic nervous system while simultaneously affecting other systems in the body. That’s what makes deep breathing – or belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing – so powerful.

So, how do you do it? Luckily, it’s a simple enhancement of what you’re already doing around 30,000 times a day (that’s an at-rest breathing rate, by the way; chances are, it’s higher for young farmers who are constantly moving).

While there isn’t a scientifically proven best number of breaths-per-minute, you want to aim to have about 10 breath cycles in one minute to begin reaping the benefits of deep breathing. Read over the following instructions and give it a try:

  • Find somewhere comfortable to sit
  • Breathe in through your nose to a count of three; pause/hold your breath for a count of two; breathe out through your mouth for a count of three; pause for a count of two.
  • Repeat

As you go through each breath cycle, you’ll likely find it easy to focus on what you’re doing (the counting helps with that). Something else to focus on is where you feel each breath in your body as you breathe. Remember, a normal human breath should raise the belly first instead of the chest. If you notice your chest is still the first thing to rise when you inhale, focus on breathing “down” into your belly and let it rise first; as you continue to inhale, your chest and then your collar bones will naturally rise as the mid- and top part of your lungs fill with oxygen. Then as you exhale, picture that process happening in reverse: your collarbones sinking down, then your chest and, finally, your belly. Allow your stomach muscles to push the last bits of air out of your lungs to ensure a full exhale of carbon dioxide.

Deep breathing is often associated with yoga and meditation – but it is still highly beneficial when practiced on its own. If you want to take up yoga or start a meditation practice along with deep breathing – fantastic! But if none of that appeals to you, think about practicing deep breathing as improving on what you’re already doing but with vast and incredible effects.