The Story of My Dream Car Almost Crushing My Dreams

Mama's gotta brand new ride! #minicooper #dreamcar #visionboard

I bought my dream car last week. The kind of car you give yourself permission to buy when you no longer tell yourself you have to be practical or realistic or whatever other stories I used to tell myself.

I never counted on it being such a huge lesson in patience, determination, forgiveness, and self-love.

That’s because I never counted on buying a manual. But as it turns out metallic blue, convertible Mini Coopers with my exact specifications AND with an automatic transmission are pretty rare. I know. I searched nationwide for what I wanted. We almost hopped planes to AZ, NJ, and southern FL to bring one home. But again and again the deets kept coming up bad – bad dealerships, bad CarFaxes, bad vibes man.

So when one popped up in our neighborhood that was a manual, I figured we could at least go look at it and give it a test drive. I told myself I wouldn’t settle for a manual. I want what I want and I was cool waiting until I found it. I’m past that point in my life where I give in too easily or tell myself I’m not worth it.

But she was so pretty, and she had what I wanted, and she was RIGHT THERE WITHIN REACH.

And so I changed my mind. Because that what you can do instead of “settling”. You can just change course.

I reminded myself that I do, in fact, know how to drive a manual; I’m just a little rusty, is all. Plus, this has always been one of those Bucket Lists things I’ve wanted to master. And I reminded myself that I am a strong, confident, 21st century woman, and so how hard can it really be?

That was T minus 48 hours before I found myself devastated and stranded in a parking lot.

I have never experienced so much stress and tension in my body as I did those first few days of re-learning a manual. I’ve never felt anxiety until I came up to a red light or stop sign after I’d only just got it into second gear. I’ve never felt so much pressure as when I stalled 12 times in the first hour with a pile of cars behind me. I’ve never felt my ego so bruised as that day when I decided, “I’ve got this. If every other woman I know can handle this, I can totally get to the post office by myself. Because again, how hard can it fucking be?

So I said to myself, "Suck it up buttercup. If @ficklefig can do this shizz, you totally can." So I attempted to drive to the post office by myself. It took me 6x as long and I tried to drive with the e-brake once. Then I had a panic attack and got stuck...

It took me 10 steering-wheel-clenching minutes just trying to pull out of my neighborhood. Another 10 minutes to make a drive that should’ve taken 2. Then another 2 minutes trying to figure out why I can’t reverse out of the parking spot without stalling (hello, emergency brake). Another 3 minutes cursing the fact that every place of business in this town seems to be inside a bowl, and stopping on hills is a curse given to us by the Manual Car Gods.

And then on my way home, thanks to the adrenaline and anxiety coursing through my veins at this point, I panicked before I hit the next red light, pulled into the closest parking lot (which thankfully happened to be the mall), and sunk into a pit of despair.

I waited an hour for Justin to come get me.

He sat beside me, quietly and in full presence (because I has already warned him against anything else) and then softly suggested we pull around to the back of the parking lot and practice again.

Now let me just say…there is this place inside you, when you’re feeling like you’ve bashed your head against a wall one too many times, where you don’t see the purpose of one more brain-rattling bang. It’s called hopelessness, and as melodramatic as it sounds, I was swimming in that place.

It wasn’t about the car, so much as the story I told myself about the car. About my Self. About what I thought I was capable of, versus what I’m actually capable of. About what it made me if I couldn’t get this down: Weak. Small. And countless other layers without words.

I know, I know…melodramatic.

But the thing is Life gives us a million small experiences to feel big, terrifying, overwhelming, or soul-crushing things. It’s never, ever, ever the experience itself that’s too big or too much. Each challenge is ultimately pretty small when held up against the trajectory of the Universe (or held up against our highest and healthiest Self). It’s always our perception, our thoughts and emotions that get stirred by these small things that truly shakes us up. That’s how a car that can almost fit in my closet could crush my spirit in ways I couldn’t fathom.

Because it wasn’t the car. It was what the car represented. My “Dream Car”. A reflection of myself. A deliberate decision to own my own personality. My ego. And the deep, dark story of that Ego that came pressing down on me when it had something to teach me: a lesson in humility, in confidence under pressure, in imperfection, in embarrassment, and the willingness to try again. Lessons that are never really over.

So, I sat in the parking lot that afternoon with Justin, deliberating my decisions.

I could sell that damn thing…

Or I could make the choice to not allow the story in my head oppress me, own me, keep me small. I could instead choose to take action, take a risk, and take back my own confidence.

So despite my feeling small and stupid, I began again.

It’s been a week now. I’ve only stalled once since that parking lot and although my chiropractor is gonna love our business from all the whiplash I’ve given my guys, and despite the fact that Zeb calls it a Decepticon (i.e. it’s a Transformer, but one that keeps trying to kill us every time I drive), I’m getting the hang of it.

And my own confidence is coming back. But in very different ways.

I was reading this fascinating article called The Confidence Gap, where it talked about the risks men are willing to take while women statistically hold themselves back by their own need for perfection and approval (coupled with maddening levels of self-doubt). And the thing that stood out to me was the discussion on the willingness to try and fail and try again leading to the resiliency of failure or rejection.

As I woman, I know I fear rejection…even from the strangers giving me the bird as I sputter through the intersection. I know I overthink things, imagine every scenario, and run through the steps again and again in my head. In fact, while I won’t say I fear failure per say, I do fear what failure might “say about me”. And I know the limitations these fears can create.

But I also know that when I’m awake to it, Life is always giving me opportunities to examine these unhelpful habits and refine them into something else. And maybe this is why I never felt like I “settled” for a manual I was adamant against having. Because Life brought me to it, not by accident. Not because it is necessarily fun yet, but because before it can be fun I have to master the obstacle keeping me from enjoying it – my own thoughts and the willingness to take a risk, screw up royally, and flick it off again, in order to find the resiliency and deeper sense of trust for myself.

(And as a bonus, when I master this thing, I’m gonna look pretty badass rolling in my Mini.)

Am I enjoying this ride?

Am I enjoying this ride?, via theorganicsister.com

I dreamt that I was riding a bike. The town was new to me, the road was foreign. And I was faintly aware that I was not familiar with this whole “bike riding” thing.

But I rode anyway.

As the roads went up steep hills, I was only aware of the tension and burning in my thighs. It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have the thought of walking the bike up the hill instead. I was just aware and steady,  my attention to it like a mindful parent: encouraging, calm, focused, and invested in this uphill-ness.

As the hills went down, I picked up speed and recognized I had no brakes and I quickly realized my expectations of controlling this thing was a joke. But instinctively, I shifted, leaned forward, and found that I could slow things down by leaning heavier, pressing my feet into the pedals themselves. And I marveled at it, just slightly. Like a “Huh. I’m not totally screwed after all.”

The corners were sharp, and often on the downgrade, but I found I flew around them with grace and ease. Aware of the cars or pedestrians or bikers around me, but without paying attention to them.

My mind was only on my body, the feel of my legs, the wind wrapping around me.

Once I got distracted (by a woman with a badass mandala tattoo, I might add) and found myself nearly tangled in the road with a handful of others. But I simply shifted back to myself and found my way easily around the traffic. And once I noticed a middle age man doing some pretty wicked tricks with his own bike. This was about the only time I really connected with another person, as I laughed and admired his Tony Hawk-ness. Celebrating with him, in a way.

What struck me most about this dream was my inattention to the Outside World, and my mindfulness on my own experience. I was fully present in my own body, in my own sensations. My mind wasn’t wandering, wasn’t worrying how I looked as I slowly pedaled up those hills, didn’t feel less awesome than the trickster flipping his ride like a pro, didn’t take it personally or get wrapped up in the traffic jam, but just was simply present in myself.

It came with its “ups and downs, twists and turns”. It challenged me but I didn’t get lost in my ideas of being challenged (“I’m not good enough. This is hard. I’ll never make it.“). I didn’t worry about “the road ahead” either.

I simply stayed present to my body, my movements, without judging them. And I found myself traveling just fine.

In real life?

I would’ve hopped off that bike at the first sign of even a tiny hill, and complained as I walked it the entire way up.

I would’ve panicked on the way down, likely wiping out (or walked it down as well).

I would’ve done everything in my power to slow down, stop, and avoid the sharp turns, including mapping out my entire route ahead of time to ensure nothing out of my control might happen, and quite possibly not even getting on the bike in the first place.

I wouldn’t have even noticed the badass tattoo, too absorbed in my own BS to pay attention.

If I found myself in a traffic jam, I would be frustrated that I didn’t foresee it, embarrassed that I couldn’t avoid it, profusely apologetic for being a part of it (possibly under the assumption that I may have somehow caused it – because it’s always about me right?), and I would’ve been self-conscious as I tried to move on from it.

And I would’ve seen the flips and tricks, then heard my thoughts criticize for not being able to do the same thing (even though I’d likely have done everything in my power to avoid such risky business in the first place).

And I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride.

(Care to continue this thread with me? Join in on the Sisterhood.)

Organic Wisdom :: “It’s Just Not A Good Time For Me To…”

Every Friday I try to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts and feelings on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

Busy and “bad timing” are going to be the excuses we use for our entire life until one day we realize that “busy” is something we create to avoid the Big Dreams telling us it actually IS time.

  • “It’s not a good time to start eating healthier. I’m too busy to get myself feeling well.”
  • “It’s not a good time to follow my dreams. The market is crap right now.”
  • “It’s not a good time to talk about this. I have too much going on.”
  • “I’m just too busy, but when things slow down…”

But is that even possible?  Aren’t we “too busy” for things to slow down? 😉

Don’t wait for some magical day when the Universe reorders itself to create some impossible gap in your busy schedule to finally do what your heart, your family, your Life is aching for.

It’s not going to happen.

Instead the Universe is going to give you a dream and say “If you say you’re ready, I’ll support you. I’ll start by showing you what you get to let go of and what fears and ideas you get to examine, so that you can make a place for this in your life.”

Don’t get to the end of your life and wish you had started living years ago when hindsight suddenly shows you just how right the timing actually was.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

What have you been putting off?


The Organic Business Mastermind

This is a friendly reminder: The summer course for the business mastermind begins June 4th, just a little over a week away.

What sets this group apart? It includes:

  • The nitty-gritty, step-by-step, “How-do-I” coaching to simplify the process
  • Powerful built-in systems of support from like-minded sisters
  • And guidance to DIG IN, overcome your fears and blocks, and not get stuck in the paralyzing “Holy-crap-what-am-I-doing-what-will-others-think” syndrome

There are still spaces available but it’s filling up with just over a week to go.

If you feel that resonating pull, click here for all the details.


Officially Introducing :: The Organic (Blog to) Business Mastermind…Summer Sessions!

Do you ::

  • Work or want to work for yourself doing something you love that also makes a difference in the lives of others?
  • Have a current blog, business or Big Idea but have no idea where to go with it (or even where to start)?
  • Want the wisdom of 10+ personal years and 3 generations of entrepreneurial experience, coupled with powerful intuition and guidance, to help you strategize, design, and recreate your business into something successful?

Are you ::

  • A spiritual pragmatic, ready to lean into step-by-step actions, as well as the inner Wisdom found through meditation, EFT or your own inner work?
  • Wanting to keep your family and your values as your first priority, working in a way that is powerful, productive and authentic?
  • Ready to be accountable for your own dreams and commit to your other Mastermind Sisters?

Would you ::

  • Like to make $2,000-$10,000 a month working less than 20 hours a week?
  • Benefit from a group learning experience, where others may ask questions you forgot and where you can riff off one another to brainstorm incredible possibilities together?
  • Like to overcome your fear of putting yourself out there or not being good enough?

The summer Mastermind course is open for registration and is already filling up!

Masterminds are 8 week programs consisting of a small group of women looking to expand their dreams and ideas into something that will bring in a real, sustainable and organic income – something that will support their families, their lifestyles AND their values.

This is for you if you,

  1. have an existing idea and aren’t sure how to get started or what to do with it
  2. have an existing business in the beginning to mid-stages of growth (or stagnation) and,
  3. are ready to commit to your group, yourself and your dreams. This program most benefits those who have an online business (or want a stronger online presence), and/or offer services and information.

This is NOT a blogging e-course. This is NOT for the hobbyist.

This is for the woman who is ready to take her blog or her hobby to another level.

This is for the woman who is ready to start playing bigger, who has a voice, a message and a gift to share with the world and who is ready to say “Yes” to the possibilities of creating a real business on her own terms.

Doing OBM was intense, electrifying, staggering. It was a whirlwind of brainstorming, processing, and getting so clear and focused on why and what I wanted to do that discovering the rest of my answers became easy. – Jenn Gibson, Roots of She

What You’ll Get To Do

:: Move past your fears of playing bigger
:: Access the confidence AND ability to create a successful online business
:: Organically grow your income without burning yourself out
:: Experience the magic of feeding your dreams

Just Some of What We’ll Cover

:: The 3 most CRUCIAL steps you must take first (before you do ANYTHING else)
:: How to bring in the right readers, clients and customers
:: Which products and offers you can create and HOW to actually create them
:: Your website MUST-HAVES, including how to protect yourself against hackers
:: How to do it all in a way that feel authentic and fun
:: Tons and tons and tons more…

We’re talking my 10+ years of self-employment and nearly $10k of training in marketing and business foundations, sales funnels, target demographics, authenticity, freemiums, drip campaigns, search engine optimization, money blocks, time management, and all the nitty gritty details of what to do, why to do it and how to do it in the most powerful and effective way possible.

Basically, I’m going to give you the exact tools I used to go from making $200 a month with a blog to making nearly 6 figures in just over a year.

I honestly feel so much clearer about my business now, and I have focus and direction (two things I was lacking without even realising it). You’ve prompted me to DIG IN and get to grips with some fears I had about putting myself out there. I now feel armed and ready to move forwards. – Rebecca Mindful Misfits

Click here to see if a Mastermind of sisters is right for you!

Being Practical Isn’t All That Great

I hate that title. What I really want to say is “Being Practical” sucks.

Or at least the common understanding of that phrase.

I recently did something incredibly impractical.

It’s something that could take years to fix, will most certainly cost thousands of dollars, will create unforeseeable stress and frustrating amounts of work, has already caused physical pain and was against medical advice.

It’s wasn’t necessary. It isn’t easy.

There was really nothing practical about it.

And I couldn’t be happier. 🙂

What crazy, expensive, painful, ill-advised thing did I do?

I got braces.

Who has two fingers and a new set of braces? This girl!

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.
– Brendan Gill

Did you know I’ve agonized over this decision for over 10 years? The idea of spending thousands of dollars and seeing one orthodontist all in the name of vanity rubbed badly against my practical side.

Spending thousands of dollars and busting my ass to find cooperative orthodontists around the country to play my little game of Build A Traveling Medical File while we travel full-time rubbed against my orthodontist’s practical side, too.

But I insisted. I told him I’d take care of the hard part if he’d just play along.

I was freaking adamant against being practical until I got what I wanted.

Being Practical Is No Way To Live

Culturally, we make impractical decisions All.The.Time….decisions that are expensive, painful, and idealistic: like buying a home, having a child or falling love!

The big stuff is easy, though, right? It’s the smaller impractical choices we let get in our way.

Or at least I did.

You know what changed my mind?

Realizing just how many impractical choices have positively shaped my life:

  • I made the impractical choice to be a mother at 17.
  • I made the impulsive decision to become a massage therapist at 18.
  • I made the expensive choice to own my own massage business at 20.
  • We made the impractical decision to take Zeb out of school when he was 7.
  • And then we had the crazy idea to sell all our belongings and travel full-time.

Did you know the definition of impractical included things like “idealistic,” “illogical,” “wild” or “improbable”?

Most of life falls into that category!

A bumblebee’s ability to fly? Certainly improbable.

The amazing capabilities of a human cell? Definitely wild!

Traveling, creating art, making love, music, dancing, climbing trees, poetry, laughter, romance…completely idealistic.

Chasing dreams, following your instincts, trust: Absolutely the most illogical things you can do in such a volatile time as ours.

And well…..there it is. My reason for being utterly impractical: All of life depends on it. 🙂

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton

Four Steps To Stop Being So Practical

I often get stopped by fear. And I often remind myself how to overcome it.

These are my four steps to making any wild, illogical, idealistic and absolutely life-changing decisions that I badly, desperately want (but am seriously paralyzed) to make.

They are the four things that get me from here to there, from fear to action, from stagnancy to growth.

It’s really rather simple. But, of course, incredibly challenging. Ready for it?

  1. Trust Yourself. Like Benjamin Spock says, you know more than you think you do.
  2. Know what you want and why and how. Because you’ll likely be doing some explaining and you’ll need a good plan.
  3. Take a really deep breath. Repeat this step often.
  4. Then focus only on taking the next step. Yup, just the next one.

Before long you might just find yourself living a wild, illogical, idealistic life of your own. 🙂

Join the Convo:

Why do you think we’ve become such a practical society? Or what’s been the best, most impractical choice you’ve ever made?

Love what you read here? I would love for you to share it! You can use one of the social media buttons below…

Interesting Detours (Are Covered in Paint)

Funny Faces Dirty Mirror

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. – Douglas Adams

We had every intention of getting back on the road by January 1st. The deadline seems ridiculously funny now that we’re two months behind schedule and covered in paint.

Despite knowing better, I still love setting unrealistic goals. Like T.S. Eliot says, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

I want to push myself. I want to do things others think aren’t possible.

As a family, as a couple and as three individuals, we set some pretty grandiose goals. The three of us, individually and together, work our asses off to build businesses, to travel or work on our own terms, to pwn noobs. 😉 We know what we want (and sometimes we don’t) and we go after it.

But if there’s one thing the last five months have taught me, it’s this:

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. – Doug Larson

Life offers many interesting detours. And I want to take them.

Because although I love grandiose goals, there are no promises. It’s not about what we might experience someday. It’s about what we’re experiencing now.

Oops

Even covered in paint today, 8 weeks behind our goals and achy from the awkward positions one must put themselves in to paint around an RV slideout…we can still take time to dance to The Beach Boys and Steve Miller Band, to chat with friends, have lunch with family and attack each other with paint.

Because this is it. Despite all our goals, I know we already have what we want at our fingertips. Or all over our fingertips, as the case may be. 🙂

The Collective Female Energy (and an Invitation)

At my mama's desk

I’m nearing the end of my last month on the Visionary Mom Team. I have only a few weeks left to go before I’ll have to say goodbye to Lisa and the 9 other women who have supported and encouraged me since August. I underestimated what a gentle but pivotal role the team would played in my life. I shouldn’t have.

You should never underestimate the power of a collective female energy.

The very foundation of nearly a dozen mamas on one cooperative journey is rooted in creation. But it also resonates a strength, a nurturing and a no bullshit attitude that is the unmistakable art of such empowered women.

It also brings balance to the experience. Each one of us had a slightly different story to tell, a slightly different path to take, a slightly different view of the world. And we could offer it all without fear or judgment. One mama could see things another couldn’t. Another could offer something no one else had. We had humor and caution, drive and gentleness and eleven lifetimes of experience and resources to feed each others’ dreams.

It could not have come at a better time for me. In a summer filled with inspiration, but complete and paralyzing unassuredness, the Visionary Mom Team stepped in and saved my ass.

Have I mentioned that I was working on my photography shop for four months prior to joining? And that I managed to accomplish my goal in just three weeks on the team?

How about that I did more for Sustainable Baby Steps in 7 weeks on the team than I did in the 13 previous months that I had been working on the site?!

On top of lighting a fire under my ass the team has helped me to:

  • Identify and overcome numerous creative roadblocks
  • Acknowledge my personal groove
  • Figure out and execute a plan
  • Stay accountable along the way

I’ve learned that going it alone is just short of crazy.

And a little bit lonely.

We are communal, social beings after all. It only makes sense to me now that I would work better professionally in a communally creative setting, as well. We’re not meant to always go it alone. I’m understanding that better now.

To say the team has been pivotal is an understatement. Having 10 other women as invested in my outcome as I am in theirs is flat out transformational, not just in my productivity but as it translates into other areas of my life as well (because there is no “work life” and “personal life” around here – it’s all part of one big, beautiful pot).

That’s why I’m joining another team. 🙂

Yes, it’s just that good and no, I am not ready to let it go.

I’ve talked my good friend, Heather, into hopping on board and I’m pretty sure another sweet mama, Alicia, is going to join us.

But I want to make sure we have a full team, so I can be sure to start again in December. Sooo…..

Want to join us on the next Visionary Mom Team? 🙂

I know there are plenty of you out there cooking up some Big Ideas. I know there are plenty of you feeling stuck, too. I know that we could all use a little (or a lot of) motivation to feed our dreams. And I now know the power of a collective determination.

We start December 1st and there are only a handful of spots available, so go here to check it out and sign up.

Will you join me? 🙂

UPDATE: I’ve just been informed two four more mamas have jumped on board! That means FIVE THREE more spaces. Are you in? Hurry!

Another Update: Yahoo!! The team is full! I’m SO excited! And to everyone who didn’t make this team, Lisa still has options, so don’t hesitate to shoot her a message!

Unhappy News (and dreams and fears)

I’m feeling like the rubber ball attached to a paddle, one second flying high with wild excitement, the next being bashed against a wall. Success, failure, inspiration, frustration, pieces clicking into place, only to crumble apart again. A person can only ride a rollercoaster for so long before they need to vomit. Consider this my vomit.

Yesterday we were dealt a nasty blow to our dreams. The possibility of leaving Las Vegas by January has ended. The idea of two or three extra months here shouldn’t leave me in tears on the floor, but it did.

I don’t want to be here. I resist it with every fiber of my being. I make it clear to everyone I speak with that I’m only visiting. That this is not my home. I don’t feel good here, I don’t feel whole or fed or at peace here. I feel needy and desperate and lonely and empty. It took me 28 years to escape this the first time and seven months later I’m here again.

I don’t want to hear that there is a reason, that there is a message or a lesson in all this. I don’t want to hear that I need to let go, that I need to trust. I know it, but I resist it anyway.

Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of feeling trapped. I’m afraid of some giant cosmic hand telling me I’m “supposed to” be somewhere that makes me unhappy. I’m afraid of losing what I’ve found or finding that I didn’t deserve it in the first place.

In this past year I’ve wholeheartedly embraced a fear that has had me paralyzed for decades. I’ve lived in fear of Too Good Too Last, and I carefully kept my life and my joy at bay. I kept myself from loving or living unconditionally to protect myself from the pain that follows loss. Does that even make sense? I’ve felt that anything good will be taken from me, so I keep things two degrees off Good just to play it safe.

I thought through this amazing journey that I had conquered all of that. But as soon as Justin broke the news yesterday I felt that crushing fear, that desperate grasp for safety, those fortress walls springing back around me, my chest tightening and my joy slipping through my fingers. I heard that old familiar voice, “See? I told you it couldn’t last. Something was bound to come along and tear our dreams apart. This is it. It’s going to fall apart and you’re going to be trapped. You don’t deserve anything more.”

Ouch. I know it doesn’t even sound rational. It doesn’t feel rational either. It hurts. And it’s scary. It’s rubbing up against beliefs and thoughts I’m not ready to examine and it’s not accepting my attempt to put it off. It’s challenging me and it’s forcing me to stretch and grow. And all of that is good. I know it’s good. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I want to face this. I want to push through it. I want to be handed a challenge and fly over it. I want to feel energized and more determined by it. I want to keep smiling, keep holding onto my joy. I want to embrace my fear with compassion.

I want to say I’m not in tears, hiding my face in my pillow and guarding myself against anything that feels good. I want to say I’m not pushing away the love I’m handed, letting go of the dreams I have for fear of more pain. I want to say I’m not questioning my spirituality, questioning whether Gd really is the bully with the magnifying glass burning holes in my heart.

But I can’t say any of that right now. It wouldn’t be real, authentic.

In this moment, right now, I hurt. In this moment, I feel a suffocating fear. This moment is messy and ugly and demanding tears. This moment is not allowing me to move.

So I’m doing the only thing this moment is asking me to do: I’m sitting in it. I’m allowing myself to cry or feel afraid or guarded. I’m allowing myself to resist. I’m embracing the messy and the vulnerable and the whiney. I’m playing the victim, and the Blame Game, and the big baby. I’m wallowing and hurting and questioning. I’m distracting myself. I’m wavering between sobs and angry outbursts.

No, it doesn’t really make sense. No, the details aren’t really that big of a deal. But this is what Life has handed my heart: not another three months, but a giant serving of Here’s Your Opportunity with a side of It’s Time To Face This Already.

It’s never about the details. It’s never about what happened or what’s going to happen. It’s about the messages we have hidden in our hearts, the stories we listen to, how they affect us, what we feel and what’s happening inside of us. It’s the bigger picture, when we can see it…and when we can’t.

I can’t see it. I can say it, but I’m too deep in it to really know it to be true. I can look at the words and reread them and still I hear that cynical, biting voice in my mind. So I’m holding onto the only two things I really do know to be true: I can be nothing but authentic. And life will ebb and flow, all things will pass.

This is me, authentic. Waiting for the fear to pass, for my ability to let it go.

Thoughts On The Farm: Could We Do This?

Bench Monday - Farm Edition
Happy Bench Monday – Farm Edition
(Or Seven Turkeys On A Ford)

There comes a point where the romance wears off and you realize just how much hard work is involved in sustainable farming. I think I reached that point on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a part of us that does not want to leave at the end of this week. Good food, good people and a culture we enjoy. Not to mention fulfilling work in something we believe in. And there is so much more to know about sustainable housing, animal husbandry, beekeeping, rotational grazing, preserving…we could be here for years and still learning.

But we didn’t sign up for this internship to learn how to farm. We signed up to find out if this is something we want to do in the future…if we’re cut out for it or if doing it ourselves would totally kick our ass.

We feel strongly about sustainable, small-scale farming. We feel strongly about raw milk and organic vegetables and grass-fed meat and free-range eggs and seasonal fruits all being a part of local and sustainable eating. We feel strongly about dislodging ourselves from the mainstream culture of disconnection from our food and its source, as well as our over-consumption of energy, water and other resources, and the waste inherent in such choices.

I have, on occasion, spoken to older generations and expressed our interest in living this way. It comes from a desire to live simply and feel more connected to our food, our land and each other. So many of us are disillusioned with The American Dream of bigger houses and smaller lots and manicured lawns and 60 hour work weeks for someone else’s benefit all while drifting further and further from each other and ourselves. And we look into the past with a sense of wonder and awe and we feel it. We feel in our bones that this disconnection we’ve bought into cannot be better than the alternative of a life lived slowly. But almost every time I’ve had these conversations I’ve been met with dubious smirks. They remember those days of hard work with little of the same romance, they would never trade the convenience and ease of modern life for home canning and handmade clothing again and they chock our exuberance up to youthful ignorance.

Were we ignorant?

For the past several years we have essentially dreamed of what we are now experiencing. And let me tell you: it’s not as romantic as it sounded.

It’s not as if we didn’t know it would be hard work. But we didn’t really know in the way you know when you’re shoveling hundreds of pounds of wet debris out of an irrigation ditch. We didn’t really understand just how much we’ve become complacent to endless and abundant options until you remember the only tomatoes you have are the ones canned last summer. We didn’t really appreciate the cost of food until we experienced the labor inherent in milking a pint of milk from a prancing goat who kicks it over just as you finish.

We “knew” these things, but you just can’t get it until it’s in your hands.

In the few weeks we’ve been here we’ve seen little of each other and can already feel the strain. We’re tired and busy and working on different things. It’s tough to not see much of the people with whom you so enjoy spending time…even when you’re both doing something you love.

So, could we do this? If this was “ours” would it be different? Could we wake up, day after day, with no break and an endless number of chores and projects and not go insane, get antsy or feel exhausted with life itself? Could we prevent the stress from getting to us as a couple and still find time for each other and our child?

If we only had own hands and a piece of land to rely on, could we sustain ourselves? Or are we doomed to rely on outsources and inputs and a system we neither trust, nor wish to support?

I don’t yet know.

Overall, I’m glad we came, even if it asked us more questions than it answered. It’s given us an appreciation we only thought we had.

One thing I know for sure: We could never do it alone. Part of what has made this difficult experience fun is the “community” built with the many friends and volunteers that have come and gone. Milking a cow in the cold is drudgery. Milking a cow, cooking meals, washing dishes, running from rouge turkeys, thinning carrots and taking funny Bench Monday photos while talking and laughing is something we have loved.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this…

SO Big. SO Life Changing.

Are you just
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dying to know
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the big
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life changing
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decision?
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We’re moving!!

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Or rather, I should say, we’ll be on the move. 😉

Meet Benny the Brave:

Benny the Brave

Here’s the deal: Justin is facing layoff within a month or so. 🙁 He feels fairly certain he can scrounge up a few more months of work. But construction is grimmer than Vegas has ever seen. And he knows he’ll need to find work elsewhere. And with Benny, we can follow the work while we scope out new places to live.

Apparently, he’s been thinking about and researching going on the road for awhile. He approached me with the idea while at GVC and totally freaked me out. (I think Jeff Sabo’s talk at Good Vibrations on pursuing our own Passions pushed him over the edge.) But after thinking about it and talking it over with Zeb, we all started to feel really good about the idea. As soon as we made the decision together, things clicked into place and we found Benny immediately (although we took several more days to research and compare before coming back to him).
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Here are his specs:

  • 1982 Winnebago Brave Series M-22RB – 22′
  • Chevy 6.2 L DIESEL engine with only 67k miles
  • Ugly as sin VERY retro
  • But cheap as DIRT (thank you poor economy)

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Some things he needs:

  • New air, oil and fuel filters
  • New tires (they’re okay but we’re not taking chances)
  • New blackwater tank
  • New fuel cap (we’re using a sock right now!)
  • A deep clean

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Some things he WANTS: 😉

  • Veggie oil conversion (#1 after small maintenance)
  • Solar panels
  • Complete indoor remodel: new flooring, paint, storage, cushion, curtains (I’m totally inspired by Sara’s recent remodel)
  • Some outdoor sparkle…maybe some stenciled “Unschool Bus” or buttloads of bumper stickers

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We’re going to make a conscious effort to sell our home. Home values are down 60% and I’m not yet familiar with short sales. So, we could be looking at a foreclosure when the work stops. Scary, yes. But I’m trusting everything to work out for the best.

We’ll sell everything that we don’t absolutely love, store what we don’t absolutely need and tow the truck (with Justin’s tools) behind the RV. We’re also trying to create a way to accomodate as many of Zeb’s LEGOs as possible. (Eep!)

We’re thinking six more months until we’re on the road. Talk about revamping our Five Year Plan! Anyone interested in buying an urban homestead in the making? 🙂

ETA: More photos here.