I don’t know where the last few months have gone. I feel like I’ve blinked, and now it’s almost June!
I’m not being flippant, though. We’ve been working hard. I put in another intensive 4 months teaching one semester, and I’m halfway through another one. Around the homestead, we’ve made soap, renovated the pantry, built a second chicken run, started seeds, planted, hauled topsoil and mulch, cleaned, cooked, eaten our way through the winter food stores, and built fire after fire in the woodstove. We’ve bought a bigger sailboat!
I would love to have been blogging about it all along the way. I did, in my head. But I never seemed to have the energy to take the photos, edit the photos, load the photos, and then write.
And true to myself, through it all, I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking.
I told a friend recently that one reason the Skipper and I get on so well is that we stress out over the opposite things. The small stuff never bothers me. Day to day, I am calm as anything; feathers rarely ruffled. Skipper? He trips over his computer cord and the wrath erupts. When I met him, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” was on his bedside table.
I sweat the big stuff. I am constantly working through The Implications of things, making Plans, wondering about the Repercussions for my Identity and my Future. I remember the inner turmoil I felt at 15 when my mother suggested I get a job at the local corner drugstore. Working at the drugstore was not what I was Meant to Do with My Life! I’ve been a bit of a drama queen in my day.
So I have spent the last 5 months Contemplating. Life, The Universe, and Everything. The blog. The homestead. I turn 40 next week, and Skipper turns 50 in the fall. We are talking about what we want to do when we Grow Up. You know, sometime over the next 10 years. What’s most important to us?
I started my career late. I’ve been working at it for a long time (finished my PhD 5 years ago! Been teaching…ummm…wow, almost 12 years, I think!), but only at the end of this year have I really felt the shift into actual career mode, as in, I should be dedicated to contributing to my field, not just putting in my time teaching as the job that pays the bills. But the people I have watched with professional careers really just work and then have a hobby or two that they enjoy during their downtime or when they get a short vacation. The career is really the primary focus. Creating a productive homestead farm? That’s another full-time job. That never ends.
Having a sustainable life–emotionally, spiritually, physically, creatively–has always been a primary value of mine. I’ve been through burnout more than once (have been teetering on the edge of it again this month), and I structure my life to have balance and sanity. I’m not the “work hard/ play hard” type. But I don’t see a lot of balance around me at the moment. I have other colleagues who are full-time professors and trying to farm. The models seem to be either professional sacrifices to farm, or emotional/health sacrifices to do both. So I’m contemplating my priorities.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about fear.
Spiritually, I have come to understand that in any given moment, any given decision, there is only Love or Fear. Either I feel grounded, free, expansive–in alignment with Life’s energy–or I feel afraid: constricted, alone, small, and disconnected.
I have spent months then trying to make peace with my fear of the future in the face of coming crises. Wrestling my mind, because if I don’t fear death, if I believe that the way forward is to listen to Nature’s voices and to de-industrialize over time; if I believe that transformation of our current civilization is absolutely necessary, then what is there to fear?
And yet fear has largely driven my homesteading goals; fear has been the source of my energy to learn more, build more resiliency, more infrastructure, more security. If I disconnect from my fear of change, of transformation, where does that leave me? I don’t know yet. I’m contemplating. Do I want to keep blogging? I don’t know. I’m thinking.
Anyone who knows me well hears me go around in circles of ways I imagine my future. Maybe I will travel! Maybe I will farm! Maybe I will write! Maybe we will move! Maybe we will Liveaboard! Around and around.
But I said to a close friend a couple of years ago, that’s just my mind, just my words and my thoughts. When you look at my actions, I’m very steady; very predictable. I took almost 8 years to do my PhD, and dreamed in all kinds of different directions over those years. But I also just kept plugging away, month after month, doing what needed to be done.
And though I still tell Skipper each day about a new direction we Could take, we still just make plans and buy supplies and start the projects that need to be done. Finish the painting, put siding on the shop, plant the seeds, grow the food, make plans to take out the dead plants from last year and put in the new ones. Chop wood, carry water.
So thank you, if you’ve still been checking in, wondering if I’m still here, and wondering if there will ever be another update. I think so. I’m hoping this post is breaking back in to writing, that teaching is winding down and that there is a flood of creativity ready to flow again. I’m tired though, and also need to go slow and take many breaks. So I’m contemplating. I’ll keep you posted.