When I was 38 years old (I’m 41 now), we made a big change. With a lot (tons really) of planning, we moved our family of four to our land and newly built yurt several hundred miles away from where we were living and working. White Sky Woods Homestead became our new home, starting a whole new way of life. Basically everything we knew, our daily routines, our responsibilities, our income, our overall way of life changed.
It took a lot of adapting for me to go from career-driven working mom to a part-time work from home, homesteader, stay at home and homeschooling mom. I’m still adjusting! My way of life is so different now, which is exactly what the goal of this major change was, but it’s been almost like restarting life. Adapting and learning how to live in this new way. This is akin to graduating college and getting your first job, or becoming empty nesters, or retiring.
I had to learn how to find my new “identity”. I had just spent 13 years in a career which fulfilled my quest for learning, personal and professional growth, and gave me opportunities to feel successful and appreciated in my work. Overnight, my new role became managing a homestead, our family’s well-being and security through self-reliance, my kids’ education, and many less significant things. Once I somewhat got a hold on this, I realized I was missing something. I couldn’t quite put a finger in it, but it seemed that although this was all on track with how I wanted it to be, I didn’t really have anything for me. Everything I was doing was for others and parenting especially is one of the most thankless jobs. I didn’t have that outside thing for just me anymore…where I could be successful and get credit and enjoy something for just myself. When I realized this, I started to seek opportunities for me to have a chance to “adult”, specifically doing something that gave me personal purpose. Because my programming is to be driven and successful and seemingly prove myself through work, I kept seeking, kept finding more things to fill this drive. I volunteered, got hired, coordinated groups, taught, got hired more, advanced our own business, and so on. I took on more and more and more. I tried to find worth through the work and the busyness. I was starting to repeat a pattern (I see this now) that I’ve had in my life…the pattern of existence where I’m more of a human “doing” than a human “being.”
Then, March 2020 intervened. At this point in time I was starting to recognize a problem I had created as I was facing burnout. I had just took on two new, great opportunities. Everything I was doing seemed so positive, but, I was stressed out and finding that home/work/me balance was becoming near impossible. When the pandemic shut-down began in mid-March, my calendar started to clear and my eyes started to open to a pace that was more preferred. Basically, a pace where we weren’t rushing or running from one thing to the next. We moved up here to escape the rat race of work and society, but somehow, here I was in it again…I created my own rat race. I had defaulted to my own flawed programming of finding worth or value in being busy. Yuk. It wasn’t good for me or my family.
Some things had to change but I needed time to process what this change looked like. What was in my life that wasn’t serving my wellness and my soul? These were the things that went first. It was really tough to make these choices, because quitting sucks. Another part of my flawed programming tells me that when you quit something, you’ve failed. But that, my friends, is FALSE!
I readjusted after these changes, but it was still challenging. My drive kicked back in and once summer came I was working 10-12 hour days, often 7 days a week keeping busy growing, farming, maintaining, doing my paid jobs, parenting, providing for my family, keeping a home, etc. When you live where you work, work is always in your face. It’s inescapable unless you make a point to not focus on it. I know a lot of people can relate, especially once work moved into the house due to the pandemic. When you have an obnoxiously strong commitment to competence or perfectionism or whatever it is, it is hard to break away and those kinds of hours and days worked are just not sustainable for anyone.
It was time to recognize this, once again, and start figuring out what steps I needed to take to get myself in a more healthy and sustainable place and focused more on what mattered. But wait, what was it that mattered again? Oh yeah, this huge life change was about things being more SIMPLE. A slower life. A life focused on family, friends, self, and community. A life immersed in nature. A life that is not managed for us, but BY us. A sustainable life in all ways: financially, environmentally, socially, personally, emotionally…to name a few. The choices I make for myself and that we make as a family should point back to this. So, I wrote that focus down. Then, I listed the things I’m doing and would like to be doing. I compared them all to the idea of a simple and sustainable life. I crossed things off. I thought about it. I talked with Tim and friends about it. I crossed more things off. I rested on it some more and then I started again to take actions to get myself into a place where I am comfortable and where I’m closer to simplicity. This took some more quitting things, some delegation, some reframing how I choose to let things make me feel, and so forth. It’s dirty work, almost more dirty than mucking the cow shelter.
The end of the year is near, and I’m feeling a lightness from the changes. I see a light toward even more changes. I now have a clear direction and a few specific things to be focused on. I am invested in these things and have chosen them with purpose. They may be overwhelming at times, anything can be. I’m ready to accept that and/or notice when things are out of balance and then do something about it. I also have some new routines that bring balance and self-care to my life. New patterns and habits that make space for me. Having space for me has allowed me to be much more present to my family and the work I do. I haven’t arrived to anything perfect, because perfect is not authentic and is not real. I’m a work in progress, ongoing.
I recently saw a statement that said “joy is an act of resistance.” We are surrounded by so much that pulls us away from who we authentically are and that keeps us from the joy we all have the right to. Society is in constant critique of those who don’t fit norm. But, if the norm is being part of something that keeps joy from people, then count me out.
Our homesteading life brings me so much joy and freedom. I’m am surrounded by friendships that are healthy and strong and allow me to be authentically me. My family supports me even when I’m anxious, stressed, confused, etc. My work here on the homestead is exactly where my heart is. Schooling our kids at home, in nature, academically and eclectically, is allowing them to explore and grow in their own unique way. These things are what matter to me and I am so grateful to have the freedom to live this way. I write this blog for those who maybe have had a similar journey as mine and also to help me be accountable to myself.
I’ve created a mantra for 2021. Live a slow, simple and intentional life, unabashedly. Do you have one? Plan to create one? I’d love to hear about it.
Wishing you peace, love and nature,