“Great Things are done by a series of small things being brought together”
As we inch our way into 2018 we have found ourselves commiserating about all of the things that we did not accomplish in 2017. The gardens weren’t well tended and yields were low, we didn’t have any goslings in the spring, the duck eggs we bought to hatch and raise were eaten by a raccoon, we haven’t completed the renovation project that we thought would be done at the end of October, we still don’t have a farm plan, we haven’t planted any fruit trees, we have not started our forest garden, there are many odd jobs that need to be done around the farm, and so on. Really, the list could go on for days. There is an infinite list of things that we can not accomplish.
The trouble is, this laundry listing of all that has not been done is not fruitful. It doesn’t honour all that has been done, never mind the effort used to accomplish life, failure or not. Looking at our shortfalls doesn’t help to energize us or empower us toward future goals. It takes the wind out of our sails, leaving us feeling defeated, and so we will be.
This realization comes along with a deeper truth, that having a set of defined goals can be troublesome. In 2017 we grew more than we could have ever dreamed but in ways we could not have predicted that directed us away from our ‘goals.’ When you have a goal in mind and fail to meet it, it makes you feel like a failure. This is outcomes based thinking, and our culture thrives on it! We have decided to approach the coming year on the farm with a vision for how it could be rather than with a list of goals. We are keeping an openness to the growth and learning that needs to take place and therefore remain open to what naturally presents itself.
It’s time for us to cultivate more of what we do want in our life. As Bill Mollison says, “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency!” If we can allow our problems to define the pathway to creative solutions and growth then we will be on the right path. Not to mention life seems to have a way of forcing us into small, slow solutions.
In the spirit of cultivating more of what we desire in our lives, we have started to dream about our coming year. We asked ourselves and our children a few questions, like, “What would you like to do this year? What would you like to learn this year? What do you want to grow this year? ” So far our list looks something like this:
Rob – plant an apple tree collection, transplant potted perennials into the earth, establish windbreaks, move the nut trees out of the garden plot, learn to draw comics
Julie – take forest school certification, make writing part of my weekly rhythm, grow an abundance of raspberries, gooseberries and french beans, appreciate my gifts, practice self-care regularly, raise turkeys
Oldest (7) – learn to write, buy a peahen and start a peacock business, plant lots of raspberries, buy all the Lego Star Wars sets, make a feature length film
Middle (5) – learn to play the ukulele, plant blueberries, learn to read and write, learn how to keep left and right straight in your mind, more playdates with friends, take a family vacation
Youngest (3) – learn to cook, learn my ABCs, grow corn and carrots, raise snorty pigs
Even if we complete one thing on the list, that is a success. Dreaming it alone is a success because being together through the journey is the real definition of success for me. Honouring the efforts of our loved ones and ourselves is reward enough. Some list of things checked off becomes meaningless if we’ve taken the successes for granted. The trouble is, when we forget to celebrate our successes, we’re left with a void. Perhaps one that culture at large hopes to be filled with ‘things’ give our consumerist driven ideals.
As we have turned our negative outlook around, beginning to look at all we have accomplished this year instead, we have been astounded at the list. This past year has brought major life shifts and yet we have accomplished a whole awful lot! We have geese! We now have a brood of Australorp hens and one beauty of a rooster named Grandfather Featherlegs! We have a freezer full of ducks and chickens from our own land! We doubled our garden space this year! We are still eating fermented salsa verde from the fall! We have a freezer stocked with tomatoes and tomatillos waiting to be processed! We have bags of popcorn in the cupboard that we grew! We have a stock pile of saurkraut! We are getting close to finishing our renovation project and our friends will be moving in soon! Rob no longer has a day job! I have a full time job so we don’t need to worry about money! And so on…really once I get on a roll, it’s hard to stop! All the little moments, choices and efforts add up to a pretty meaningful year of accomplishments. Bringing forth into the light the abundance that we experience, again and again, will help to retrain our brains. We need to break free from the oppressive thoughts of scarcity. It is the fear of not having enough that keeps us from recognizing all of the ways that we do. If we keep honouring the many ways we have enough, and in fact live in abundance, then I’m hoping one day we will find we are free from self-sabotage. Let us create a vision, but respond to change.
“Collect the moments one by one, I guess that’s how the future’s done.”
So let’s celebrate what we have done, and stop worrying about the relentless ‘to do’ list. Because we have purpose. Because we have drive. Because we have vision. We can trust that what actually needs to get accomplished will be done. What drives our actions is the passion we have for our vision. So vision with us…let’s make this world a better place! What visions do you hold for 2018?