Happy Independence Day! I hope it’s filled with family, friends, fireworks, and beef. The weekend after the Fourth, some of the crew and I are heading to the lake for a pre-birthday celebration. I’m still at the age that I’m willing to celebrate a birthday, not so much for what’s to come but that I survived another year.

I feel fortunate that I’m aging like a wine. It might be a boxed wine most days, but at least it’s not milk ... yet.

I always try to look back on the year and think of ways that I can build off of it or experiences I can learn from for this next year. For some reason, this year was the first one that I had to choose between laughing hysterically or sucking my thumb while rocking in the corner. I still haven’t decided which one it’s going to be yet.

With any birthday though, comes planning.

I decided in preparation for another trip around the sun, I would try to do something at least once a week for me. I’m not talking about things like eating, sleeping, working, etc. I’m talking about things where I intentionally have to attempt to relax.

First week of the new experiment. I booked an hour-long massage. The first five minutes: “This is nice.” Ten minutes pass, I’m starting to realize that I have to lie there for another 45. At the half-hour mark, I’m running cattle data through my head. Fifty minutes comes along, I had subliminally paid bills, fixed fence, and branded a group of calves. The poor lady asked how it was. My reply: “How what was?’ Failure.

The second week, I booked an acupuncture treatment.

Let me backtrack a bit. The rest of the story is that I had ended up at the local hospital with an ocular migraine. If you have not had the “bless its heart” experience of having one of these, it’s brutal. I literally lost the vision in my left eye. For someone who has perfect vision, this ranks right up there with the neighbor’s scrawny black bull jumping in with your elite group of red cows that you had just synched to AI. I didn’t even know there was such a thing.

Four hours of wearing partial beer googles, it finally started to pass. The attending MD was Chinese and recommended coming to see him for an acupuncture treatment. I agreed, especially after I was told that you don’t go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for Chinese. I’m not for sure the relevance there, must have been a proverb I hadn’t heard yet.

So I went. I got jabbed with needles, then they hooked them up to electrodes, turned on some instrumental music, dimmed the lights and left me alone for around an hour. Once again, I subliminally got computer work done, alfalfa baled, and another group of calves branded.

The verdict is still out on the relaxation effects from acupuncture, but it did give me enough energy to bale straight through the night that same day.

I have not decided yet what will be the personally self-inflicted relaxation torture yet for this coming week, but will keep you informed.

With that, I hope you all had a relaxing and fun Independence Day!

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.