Thursday, May 8, 2014

Taking the leap, part 2: The Catalyst

By the time we're forty

The plan was to step out as soon as we could realistically afford it, but we didn't have any urgent timing. We were content to give ourselves seven, eight, nine years of saving money and living as natural a life as we could along the way.

We were living simply, below our means, and saving. We were learning to be self-sufficient. We thrived on old things that could be repaired. We learned old-timey skills, and practiced them every chance we got.

We drank a lot of cider. We read a lot of books and websites from other dreamers.

Or sooner. Pregnancy changed the timing.

We were almost five years into that plan when I became pregnant. I thought we had three or four years to go. With a baby on the way, we shifted our perspective. It was remarkably easy. The plan didn't change, the timeline was just accelerated.

By the time the baby is one, or two...

After our sweet Maria was born, all wide-eyed and curious, we began to accept this new timing as truth. A given.

Maternity leave passed so quickly, and I was not ready to return to a demanding, challenging job. In the nine months since I went back to work, I really have tried to make everything fit, even knowing it is a temporary fit.

My over-engaged, over-commited, uber-responsible, unbalanced self has always been unable to juggle job and life, really. And now, more divided mentally and emotionally than ever before, I know in my heart I can't keep doing this. I can never be as present or as ready or as patient or as organized or as energized or as thoughtful as I wish I could. It has become abundantly clear that being a professional, and being the human I want to be, just don't work together.

Life is too short to live like this.

On the heels of the hardest winter in recent memory (snow days and sick days have already used up the vacation time I usually hoard for the precious months of summer), it is time to make a decision. I am no longer willing to make the compromises I face every day, unlatching my snoobing baby so that I can go into the office and write marketing copy and help solve client problems. The world of commerce and industry mean little to me these days.

I admire and respect those people out there who do it all with grace. I no longer want to be one of them.

I want a life, not a livelihood.

I am ready to take the risk of leaving this all behind to try my hand (heart) at something different. I am ready to hold hands, hold my breath, and jump. I think we can create something that doesn't rely on commerce and layers of removal from the real business of life. I think we can dig in and come out self-sufficient on the other side.

And so, right at the end of Maria's spring break, I broke the news to my colleagues and friends. There is no going back now. (It's exhilarating, and a bit unsettling).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Taking the leap: The Prequel


I daydream. I yearn, I scheme, I wonder. I make a lot of lists. (I'm not kidding, my journal has been a series of lists, schedules and budgets for almost 10 years now. That's kind of sad.)

Listmaking is the best therapy I've had. 

It's a way to make my dreams tangible. A sort of promise that I am actually going to do something. For some reason, writing it down makes it more real.

I've thoroughly explored all the options, created endless scenarios, put income and debt and everything in between up to the light. I've imagined thousands of lives that I'll never try out for real.

All this time, I've led a satisfying, but divided, life. 

Weekends and vacations spent gardening, cooking, living up north, or on the water, and then late on Sunday night, pulling in the driveway, rushing through some chores, and the next morning scrambling to get to work on time. Drawing deep to find a way to connect, to care, to be present for my colleagues, my clients, my work. If it was a less divided life... if I were a different person than I am... it would have been a fine life.


I have a photo of myself that Kevin took, the very first time we were on the farm. We didn't own the property. I wasn't even sure we were walking the property we'd seen for sale online. I didn't know that I was really, seriously looking.

When I saw that photo, I saw it through the filter of time. As if I was elderly, looking back, and remembering the first time I walked that path. It was a powerful and emotional sensation. It was the moment the land chose me.