*Huge shout out to my buddy Ian for being amazing and creating the above magic. Amazing magic!
I don’t know if I’ve posted it here before, but I stumbled across one of my favorite writings from Wendell Berry today. I love being reminded of a beloved poem or essay or quote and breathing in the words all over again. This poem is an old friend who I haven’t seen in a while, and re-reading the words is like meeting over coffee and picking up right where we left off.
- Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, Wendell Berry (click on the title to read the whole, beautiful work)
Case in point:
“Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.”
And the closing:
“As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Serious dork confession here: at least every other day, there’s a moment where I stop and think to myself, “Wow. I love my life.”
Seriously. Who is this girl?!
And then it occurs to me that life probably isn’t like that for a lot lot lot of people. And then I wonder if Chris feels the same way. Hell, five years ago, I definitely didn’t feel this way. Even two years ago, I didn’t have these moments wash over me quite so frequently. Blame it on the baby and the massive, life-changing decisions that have defined the last year and a half?
It’s not super easy, and it’s not perfect. But I’ve decided I need to kick perfect to the side of the road. It’s great, and I love it. Even the hard stuff.
I think a lot of it is that I’m starting to feel settled in this whole motherhood gig. Looking back, the first four or five months were me battening down the hatches. Being a mom was so all-consuming. I went from successful working person to OMG WTF DO I DO WITH THIS TINY CREATURE (and with myself). I had no idea what being a mom was going to look like for us.
We’re seven months in now, and I feel like Willem and I “get” each other these days. I’m expanding my fellow mom friendships and feeling confident in getting out of the house and doing stuff. EX: Willem and I met up with a friend for a youth orchestra recital (at a McDonald’s, of all places – a McDonald’s WITH A STAGE. Only in Broad Ripple) today, and he sat in my lap, eating sweet potatoes and taking in the world while friend and I chatted. We can DO stuff like that now, because we get each other, you know?
I’m knitting and cross-stitching and making friendship bracelets and doing “me” stuff again – note that this is stuff that, five months ago, I had literally no concept of how I would ever be able to fit it into my life again. Like, really. I was just keeping my head down and hoping to fake it til I made it.
Now? I’m able to lift my gaze, and the view is good. I can see, if not the horizon, at least to the end of the road. The more comfortable I get with this whole mom thing, the more I’m able to dream and plan and think about other things again. Fun things. Crafty things. Projects. Friends and relationships. Farms in the Smokies. Tiny houses and big barns. You know, life and stuff and the future.
So life? Yes. I love it.
Today marks our one-year wedding anniversary. What a wonderful, insane year it has been.
For instance, we now have some new residents: tens of thousands of bees and an adorable almost-seven-month-old.
As always, we are looking to the future. I think that’s one of the coolest things about us as a couple: we push each other and support each other and egg each other on with whatever latest hairbrained scheme one of us has until it doesn’t seem so hairbrained anymore and we actually do it.
Today’s discussion (during lunch at La Margarita, our fave Mexican restaurant, which I hadn’t visited since my due date) centered around finding some land/buying a farm so Chris could start raising nucs and building top bar hives (the latter he could do here; the former, not so much). I also had a really freaking amazing idea last night centered around food deserts and a new way of getting produce to communities who would maybe love to eat fresh produce if only they had access…. And that’s all I want to say about THAT because I might actually want to try to do it at some point.
I’m also exploring new ways to spread art into the world (and maybe make a little cash on the side so we can maybe, possibly, actually get us some land one of these days) and have re-opened my Etsy shop! Visit me at www.etsy.com/shop/famousthecat and get yourself a custom “home sweet home” print to display your own family love all year round.
Willem is eating FOOD, guys! I’m not sure why I’m so excited about this, but I am. I mean, it was inevitable that the kid would eat food at some point, right? He’s not going to survive on breast milk forever.
The other part is that so far, his first foods were lovingly made by ME last fall. With every messy bite, I’m brought back to that time, when I was so full of excitement and big dreams for this little creature I was anxiously waiting to meet. And now? Now he is here, and he gets to eat that excitement and those big dreams with every spoonful. How cool is that?
I honestly don’t see us ever buying baby food from the store. This is one-ingredient goodness right here, and it doesn’t get much closer to home.
So… I was supposed to return from maternity leave to my old, full-time, wonderful job on May 15. I had been there six years and had very much climbed the ladder (and had been given the opportunity, trust, and support to do so from my boss, co-workers, our board, our members… everyone) in terms of both salary and job responsibilities/title. It was an awesome place to grow and learn, and in those respects it was very hard to not go back.
In the I-have-a-Willem-now respect, though, it was very, very easy to not go back. I just… I can’t even imagine working full time right now and am utterly thankful I am not having to make that work. However, being completely focused on a baby and someone else’s needs? That gets old fast, and so I am super lucky and thankful to be working very part-time for Growing Places Indy as their operations manager. I’m writing grants, tracking donations and entering data into QuickBooks, doing graphic design – basically, whatever needs getting done, I’ll do. It keeps me tied to the real world in an awesome way, since I get to work for an organization that is doing some amazing stuff in my city and that I really believe in and am interested in already.
I’m pleased as punch to see my signs around town for our new u-pick farm and farm stand:
And the other day we got notice that we received funding on the first grant I’ve ever applied for. It seems weird that this is the first grant I’ve actually ever applied for; I’ve worked on grants for other people before but never really been the head grant-applicator. Or something. Anyway, it’s awesome, and it means we will be able to grow produce year-round AND support a year-round urban farmer, which is huge. I’m super proud.
P.S. Backyard panorama, just for scuzz.
New life goal: live life so the smile lines way outweigh the frown lines. Way easier said than done at times.
Last year, I had some kick-ass resolutions. How do I define “kick ass”? For starters, I actually kept them (to be fair, one of them was to drink more juice).
A brief recap: my 2013 resolutions…
- Drink more juice. Check!
- Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy. So much checking!
- Take a trip with my honey. So we didn’t end up in Oregon, but our vacation did require passports. Check and check!
More importantly, though, it seemed my mental pump was primed this time last year for some big changes in 2013 (of which there were so, so many). It’s easy to list off the events that happened: got engaged, got pregnant, did an urban farming apprenticeship, learned so very much all summer long, expanded our garden, got married, went on an awesome vacation, had a fantastic baby shower, etc. etc.
However, the internal shifts are harder to quantify or even vocalize without starting to feel like a dirty hippie. But they are really, incredibly important to me. A few of the things I learned this year:
- View the world through a positive lens.
- Actively kick those negative, ugly, or self-defeating thoughts out.
- Get excited about the immense number of things you can do, the things you can learn, the people you can meet, the ways you can move forward and just be better at being you; don’t worry about your limitations.
- Actually, just kick those (mostly perceived) limitations to the curb while you’re at it.
- Do it. Show up. Open your heart. Don’t be afraid.
- Approach the world and especially the people in it with abundance and gratitude and thanks and gentleness. We all need more gentleness.
- Let people know you appreciate them. Show your gratitude any time you can.
Speaking of showing gratitude, I am so thankful for so many people over this last year. My parents (gratitude times a million, this year and always, really); Chris, who got me through the worst days, supported me unconditionally as I came up with new schemes and dreams, and cheered me on through the best; Laura, Tyler, all of my Growing Places Indy peeps, and my inspiring, thoughtful, hilarious fellow apprentices this summer; Amy at South Circle Farm for so graciously opening up her farm to us on what turned out to be one of my favorite days this year, our wedding; Maggie at Fall Creek Gardens for being generally awesome and letting me help out with the new demonstration garden; our good local friends, fellow knitters, and neighbors; all of my girl friends scattered across the country, who listened during some damn dark days early this year; and my amazing, generous, loving extended family, of which I’ve always been so thankful to be a part and which expanded even more this year.
So my resolutions for 2014?
- Keep working to live all those hard to quantify, sometimes easy to forget life lessons I picked up in 2013.
- Approach motherhood and our soon-to-be expanded family with humor, joy, and adventure. Oh, the places we’ll go.
- Go on a real vacation with my husband and my baby. Maybe this year will be our chance to roam the Oregon coast, expand our micro-brewery horizons among the Portland-hip, and introduce our baby to a starfish or two.
- Continue to put myself out there and open my heart to people who make it easy to feel gratitude, thanks, and positivity.
Happy NEW YEAR! Here’s to lots of goodness in 2014.
This year has been, without a doubt, one of my favorites so far. Perhaps my favorite. Like, of my whole entire life. It has been life changing and perspective shifting. On January 1 last year, I could never have imagined where I would be today in so many aspects of life.
I feel like it’s been one constant positive feedback loop, which is a pretty amazing place to be living. And I can’t wait for 2014.
So without further ado, let’s take a walk through memory lane and hit just a few of the many highlights:
January – Birdie’s first hotel room and snowy, cold day snuggles.
February – Surprise Valentine’s Day trip to Chicago with this guy and Birdie (the first one was from Revolution – amazing beer, amazing food, amazing beer bottle chandelier).
March – Dreams of summer gardens and our famous chickens.
April – Upping the ante with our new garden fence (backyard time lapse, 2011 to 2013).
May – Celebrating my parents’ 40th anniversary with the whole fam-damily. What a great weekend.
June – Pregnant! Garden is growing. Apprenticeship starts. So many new, really fantastic things all at once.
July – Apprenticeship with Growing Places Indy is in full swing, and my world is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic place to be.
August – It’s official – we let people know we’re having a baby! And summertime is in full swing, as evidenced by a trip to the state fair and our garden.
September – Our wedding at South Circle Farm.
October – Honeymoon/babymoon to Jamaica!
November – Our wonderful baby shower, thrown by my mom.
December – Just a whole lot of thankfulness and happiness going on. I started working with the amazing team at Growing Places Indy, doing operations stuff for them. My parents came to visit for Christmas. We’ve got some ambitious house projects before the baby comes. And Chris and I both took two full weeks off work over the holidays. Life is sweet.
Right after Christmas, Thanksgiving is my favorite. I mean that in an Elf sort of way. Actually, I generally relate to this clip perhaps a little too much this time of year.
Chris and I went up to Chicago and had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house with my parents, aunt and uncle, and some of my cousins and their kids. Food, family, football: the Thanksgiving trifecta. It was a warm glow kind of afternoon, and I’m not just talking about the weather.
On Saturday, my mom threw us the best baby shower ever. For real, the best. It was at a tea house near their place, complete with your choice of 50+ types of tea, personal tea pots, mismatched (gorgeous) China cups and saucers, and delicious itty bitty sandwiches and desserts.
The women in my family are pretty rad, too. They are down to Earth, funny, silly, loving, generous, REAL ladies who inevitably have a serious hoot any time they get together. Our shower was no different. I think my favorite part was getting to spend the morning with them all.
I also feel like we are so ready for this baby – at least, as far as “stuff” is concerned! Between my parents’ astounding generosity and these amazingly generous ladies, I am overwhelmed with gratitude – and BABY STUFF. I don’t know how they managed it, but we didn’t even have any duplicate gifts. Well done, family!
Of course I don’t have a single photo yet of my mom and me! (Hint, hint, Chris – you need to upload your shots stat). I got a wild hair when we got back home Saturday and managed to unpack and put together almost all of our goodies. Here are a few outtakes from the office/nursery (heavy on the “nursery” part):