I ran away from home last week.

It’s been a long time since I packed my little Strawberry Shortcake suitcase and threatened the Boss Man and Boss Man’s Wife with leaving – not really thinking through the fact that I was 4 or 5, unable to drive, and the closest town was 13 miles away.

For some reason I never thought to pack the essentials like food, water or clothes. Instead, I threw in a couple John Deere toy tractors, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurine or two, and my favorite bear “Strawberry.”

I never made it very far. Someone usually talked me out of it before I stepped out of the house. With the parenting tactics in those days, I’m sure it was because I was told there were coyotes or even bears out there that liked to eat little kids.

Wednesday morning last week I was in a tough spot. I really needed to be running power tools all day, but I had a couple of personal things that clouded my mind and shook my self-confidence. My “give-a-‘whatever’” meter was off, and I knew that the following two days were loaded with business meetings where I needed my head in the game.

The Boss Man and I conversed in the shop for a while as he helped talk my way through things, and then we noticed that we could see cows south of the house where cows weren’t supposed to be.

We spent a couple hours getting the renegades back and fixing a gate stick that was the bane of the problem. It was a little before noon when we finished and as I was heading back to the shop, I told the Boss Man that I was done for the day and that I needed to get away and clear my head. I had too many “important” things coming up. He agreed – mostly for the fact I think he didn’t want me running power tools for insurance reasons if I wasn’t focused. I packed up a couple of items, left the toy tractors at home and hit the road.

I reached out to the Boss Man’s Wife when I was on the road and told her I was running away. She said, “You used to threaten us with that all the time, but you never actually did it.”

I said I’d be back Saturday. I was informed that when running away, you usually don’t give a return time.

For 16 hours I escaped. I caught up with friends that boosted me back up, slept a little, had an amazing steak, recharged.

Afterword, the business partner and I hit the ground running.

It’s encouraging when you see plans and dreams start coming together, and once again I was reminded that positivity and surrounding yourself with likeminded people is something that I tend to take for granted.

I know I’m getting older each and every day, and sometimes when I compare where I think I should be and where I’m actually at in both my business and personal life, it can be a little demoralizing. There are so many things that I want to do. Sometimes I get hung up on the little things when I need to remember that it’s all about the big picture.

I reached out to an old acquaintance on my travels. The business partner and I are working on a new expansion idea, and my part of the deal is one area in which I’m not very well versed. This acquaintance has multiple entities and responsibilities but dropped what he was doing for an hour to talk me through all my thoughts and questions. He gave me new direction in some areas and made me question my thinking in others.

His businesses – like a lot of other producers’ – have been hit hard the last couple of weeks, yet what blew me away was his attitude. I hear the same thing from the Boss Man on almost a daily basis, but we are just “Podunk” ranchers. Sure, our business has been around for 131 years and we don’t play in the “big dog” marketplace, but the attitude was one and the same.

Business is a roller coaster. Life is a roller coaster. Those that survive are those that aren’t constantly getting overwhelmed by ebbs and flows. They are those who don’t make drastic changes when the roller coaster is on the downhill slide. Instead they surround themselves with people that are smarter than they are, look at the big picture, and realize that it’s completely acceptable to run away for a day or two to clear their head. And if they want to pack a John Deere tractor, they can pack a John Deere tractor.

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

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