“There are good days. And there are bad days. As long as you have more good days than bad days, you’re doing all right.”
    A good friend – and fellow dairy farmer – shared those words with us just before we started dairy farming.
    Lately, with all of the stress that comes with low milk price, it seems like little bad things bubble up more often and turn would-be good days into bad days.
    It’s easier to see everything that’s going wrong instead of everything that’s going right.
    For its annual Chick Day, Vita Plus offered an entire day dedicated to hitting the reset button and reminding us how beautiful this life truly is.
    I can’t give enough gratitude to Heidi and Peter, and the team at Kasella Dairy for hosting; to the Vita Plus team for organizing; and to the hundred-plus other dairy women who laughed and cried with me throughout the day.
    If you couldn’t make it to Chick Day, here are messages from the day that I found most meaningful.
    Embrace challenges. Challenges in life are to be expected.
    “Find the purpose in the challenge,” said Deb Hadley, Chick Day’s motivational speaker. “What good can come from this?”
    I know this is a question we have been focusing on. The current milk price is stretching us way beyond what’s comfortable. Instead of focusing on how scary our situation is right now, we keep looking for ways to do better, both on the farm and in our home.
    “Every test either makes us bitter or makes us better. Every problem can either break us or make us. You get to choose whether you’re going to be a victim or a victor,” Hadley said.
    Practice gratitude.
    Research shows practicing gratitude, either through prayer or a gratitude journal, is one of the best ways to cope with hard times.
    Deb said when she prays, she always starts with what she’s thankful for.
    “Remember PRAY: Praise and thanksgiving. Repent. Ask. Yield and listen,” Hadley said.
    I can relate. Each night when I pray with my kids, we start with what we’re thankful for and then ask for what we need.
    Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring or denying our challenges, but finding ways to reframe them in a positive light.
    Take care of yourself.
    This means eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. But sometimes taking care of yourself means asking for help from a counselor or therapist.
    “Be the strong person who gets help. Counseling is not for the weak. It takes strength to ask for help,” Hadley said.
    I can personally vouch for the power of counseling. I started seeing a counselor while struggling with postpartum depression after Daphne was born. Within a couple months, my counselor said at the end of one session, “I don’t think you need to see me anymore.”
    I said, “Oh, yes, I do. I’ll be back next month.”
    Having a long-term relationship with a counselor and a standing appointment each month has made it so much easier to deal with all of the challenges life throws at me.
     Find the joy.
    “You have permission to be joyful in the midst of your situation,” Hadley said.
    There are so many moments of joy on dairy farms. Don’t let the worries and anxieties and stress overshadow the joys. Watch the kittens play. Scratch the poll of your favorite cow or calf. I like to spend a few moments in my milkweed garden watching the butterflies and caterpillars. Whatever brings you joy – do it daily.
     Reach out.
    “Whether you’re reaching out to others for support or reaching out to support someone else, the message is clear: ‘You’re not alone,’” Dina Peterson said.
    Peterson spoke on behalf of Northern Pines Mental Health Center, the organization selected to be the Chick Day charity.
    If you don’t have someone within your circle to reach out to, consider an online group like Dairy Moms or Dairy Girl Network, which are both private Facebook groups.
    Unfortunately, I do not know if there are any such groups available for men in the dairy industry. If there are not, then I sincerely hope someone feels called to start one soon. We all need someone who’s willing to listen.
     Be real.
    “When we’re real, it makes it safe for other people to be real,” Peterson said.
    Dairy farming is a beautiful life, but right now a lot of us are struggling and it’s OK to talk about those struggles.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com