holistic goal

Creating a Homestead

I have started back into looking at real estate sites.  Wondering what life could be like if we were to move to a farm and homestead on a larger scale.  I have dreams of living somewhere off grid with a woodlot and a stream.  Enough room for pastured chickens and perhaps even a jersey cow.  But the dream doesn’t consider the hefty bill that comes along with it.  How is it that one is to transition to a larger property when it seems like such a better idea to pay off our mortgage and stay put?  The trouble is I still have this niggling feeling like we aren’t yet living the life we’re capable of.  I feel like a change is on the horizon.  The difficulty is waiting for its arrival.  We are sending out some pretty strong intentions to move toward a homesteading life, but as I have discovered, a homestead is just as much in the mind as in the land.  We are working toward making more of our own food, and preserving what we can while it is in season.  There are many things we are doing to be homesteaders on half an acre.  I have big plans to have chickens again in the spring and to try my hand at bee keeping next summer.  All of that is available to me right here, right where we are.

I reflected on this process back in December, and came to the conclusion that we should focus on living in line with our holistic goal and everything else would fall into place.  This spring and summer have been wild with activity.  We have been stretched in many ways, trying to keep up with our ideas and commitments.  We had given ourselves a year to decide what to do next, but here we are half way through that year feeling no less confused.  The hours we’ve spent initiating and actualizing projects off of our property have been wonderful and have taught us so much about what we value.  But we have not yet made time to refine our holistic goal!  This has left us feeling unfocussed.  The past six months have helped us to come to some clarity about what is and is not making our hearts sing.  It is easy to think something is satisfying when it really isn’t, when the idea of it is, but the action is not.  Rather than trying to pursue permaculture in a way that makes money, we are learning to follow our joy, hoping the money will sort itself out.  People bring the most creativity and skill in the areas they have a passion for.  It is lovely to read books and watch videos about other people who have found their niches and how they are making enough to live abundantly using permaculture principles.  What is not yet clear is how our family will wind our way toward the self-sustaining lifestyle I crave.  Many of the things we are interested in have the potential to pay the bills.  But this leads to the argument for seeking financial freedom from our mortgage so that we have fewer bills to pay!  The mental cycle is endless.  There is always another angle to consider, another reason to return to a previous idea, keeping us circling around a decision.

When I have made big decisions in the past, it’s because I knew they were the right ones.  I am not someone who leaps in quickly.  I think on things for quite some time until I can’t deny that a big change is imminent.  At the edge of change, somewhere deep in my gut I felt a compulsion to make it happen.  I have that feeling about moving to a farm, but there is no clear way to make that happen yet.  Like my approach to so many things, I don’t want to force it.  When I try to make it work, I usually only end up killing the creativity.  This happens all the time with my artwork.  Once I get too into my head, the creative spark fizzles out and I am left second guessing and feeling anxious.

I have been checking the real estate sites, but not as frequently.  I feel the action is keeping me open to the possibility of the right property coming along and sending the intention out clearly over and over again.  I also view the properties with an intuitive eye now.  If it doesn’t seem right, it’s not.  No point in forcing the issue.  There is nothing pushing us from our current home, other than a feeling of unfounded urgency.  My rush is because I don’t feel like I have time to waste – the planet is withering and I feel I need to act now in order to secure my future and a future for my children.  When considering the planting of fruit and nut trees that take years to produce a yield, it is discouraging to think of delaying that another five years.  But what I am allowing myself to consider more and more is that the trees we plant are not just for us or our family, but they are for future generations.  In this subversive act, we are planting hope for the future.  I’d like to believe that any love and care we offer to our current property is an investment in the future of mankind.

Wishing our time on this property away, as we watch the weeds take over our garden beds and some food bearing crops wither, is not creating joy for us.  We are not engaging our own land, but are looking elsewhere in search of something better.  What we have right here is pretty awesome!  If we put as much effort in here as we have been extending beyond our property, we could be enjoying the yields of this farm rather than wasting its potential while suspending it in the midst of indecision.  And so we are again trying to hash out our holistic goal.  We have also decided to identify the things in our life that are not bringing us joy, from the items in our home, to the way we use our time and space.  Once these snags are identified we can find creative solutions to abate them or just decide to simply let them go.  There may come a time when a new and big opportunity to move comes along, or necessity pushes us from this nest, but for now, we wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Thanks to some lessons learned from a toad, it will become clear when we are to jump.   For now, we can hunker down and put in some serious time here.


Goal Oriented

I am currently struggling with my lack of defined goals for the future.  Now that I’m a stay-at-home unschooling mom, I feel lost at times, wanting there to be some sort of tangible short term goal to reach.  There isn’t one.  And as far as my children’s education is concerned, I don’t want there to be one.  Freedom to mess about in the process is where the learning actually happens.  I know this from many years in the classroom, where I was required to deny this of my students on most occasions in order to teach to an overwhelming curriculum.  Setting the mind on one goal ignores the possibilities held in all other options.  Like scattering seeds to the wind, one doesn’t know which ones will be carried the furthest, which ones will root and grow strongest, and which ones won’t take at all.  All one can do is wonder and scatter the seeds anyway.

So why is it so difficult for me to apply this lens of free form creativity to my own life?  I am having to ‘unschool’ myself in order to find happiness without goals.  It is a slow process.  I feel like I have been trained to be goal oriented.  It is a great thing to be able to write on my resume, but my current ‘job’ is not conducive to this approach.  The harder I push toward a goal, the harder my children resist.  The more depressing downside to goal setting is that focus on a goal separate from oneself often overshadows the here and now.  If I am constantly striving for something, then how can I possibly be present with what it is that is happening?

When you get used to measuring yourself by incremental measurable successes, hoop jumping of sorts, then it becomes difficult to notice small progressions toward the ultimate holistic goal of living a happy fulfilled life.  Of course I delight to I see my children having fun, engaging with nature, playing well together, helping or supporting others, but somehow these glimmers of beauty don’t ‘measure up’ as a goal reached.  This is inherently a problem of perception.  Perhaps it is because they, like me, have a learning process that spirals around, leaving much room for the messiness of life.  Then there are the tasks of a mother that never end; the dishes, the laundry, the meal preparations, the kitchen cleanup, the toileting and diapers.  I get excited sometimes to ‘catch up’ on laundry and get it all put away, only to find that another load needs to be done a day or two later and the cycle continues. There are no external reward systems for being a good mother.  I won’t be getting a sticker, a pay raise, or an A on my test paper.  It is highly likely that I also won’t be recognized for my efforts.  Noticing my success needs to come from within.

I am trying to grow my capacity to take time to be truly grateful for the moments I get to share with my children.  It is such a privilege for me to be home with them.  It is so important and so necessary to honour the beauty in our days together.  From experience, I know that deeply feeling moments of joy, pride, and wonderment gives me strength to carry on through the more treacherous parts of the journey.   Although I feel a vastness of future spread out before me, with no idea where I’m headed, I realize that this is truth whether I have a goal or not.  The goal is only something my mind has conjured up to maintain the illusion of control.  Rather than wracking my brain trying to figure out my future, I want to be able to trust that everything will work out alright, and as it should.  I want to be able to sit in the mystery, and be alright with it.  Maybe even one day, I will be able to delight in it too.

When to Jump

We dream about moving to a larger property.  We’d like to move somewhere with enough acreage to house some livestock, with 10 or more acres.  We would love to build our own natural home or earth ship.  We would love to live off the grid.  The dream world looks so beautiful.  But when my bleary dreaming eyes begin to refocus, I see that we would have so much property to manage, many animals to care for, a home to retrofit (at the very least) or build at best.  All while Rob is working full time outside of the home, and I am very busy with three little ones.  This doesn’t even account for the extra monthly expenses, as acreage comes with a hefty price tag, both in the property value, but also in upkeep.

We have flopped back and forth on the issue so many times.  What should we do?  When should we move?  What about our current place?  We’ve already got something great, and we’re living in it!  Our house is awesome.  We’ve done a lot of work to make it lighter on the planet.  We have half an acre of property and the ability to keep chickens.  This fall, Rob planted the last tree to complete our forest garden guilds.  We have only had two of our trees produce fruit so far.  There is so much potential here that we’d be walking away from.  There are also all of the memories housed in these walls.  All three of my babies were born upstairs.  Emotionally I don’t know if I’m ready to leave.

But part of me wants to just jump!  Sometimes I feel like we’d be better off if we just did it.  Humans are wonderful at rising to a challenge.  I’m curious to see how quickly we could make our own safety nets.  But the realities of living with three little ones allow my practical side to step in, convincing me to wait with thoughts like, ‘How could we possibly build our own home?  I can’t even seem to get the laundry folded and put away!’

I enjoy looking at real estate online.  Somehow looking at properties makes me feel like I’m making change.  As my husband put it last night, it seems easier to sit on the computer looking at real estate and dreaming of how our lives could be than embracing the one we have.   Looking for a new property is shopping on a grander scale.  Voyeuristically looking at the lives of others through their homes pictured online is not helping anything.  On some level, I have the hope that I’ll find a new life for us which is somehow better than the one we’ve got here.  The truth is, I won’t.  I know this.  I know that happiness is created not bought.  So why do I keep doing this to myself?

In the end, I think it’s my impatience that is the problem; I’m wanting the progressions to have already been made, so that we could be in the position to make our leap successful.  I fear nothing more than making the leap then learning we were ill prepared, and ending up failing at our own dream.  Impatience and the ‘want it now’ mentality is so ever present in our society, especially at this time of year.  I find myself with yet another deep dredge of consumerist thought that I’m frustrated still exists in me.

So what we’ve decided is that we need to do the work to get ourselves ready to jump before we actually do.  We don’t want to end up with more debt and less time; this is the antithesis of our goal!  We have been working so hard to create space in our lives, not take it away.  So for us, it’s better to err on the side of caution, allowing ourselves the time and space to work out the details in advance.  In the meantime, I’m going to stay off of the realtor website and instead work on refining our holistic goal.  Our hope is to live in line with the intentions of our holistic goal, and wait for the universe to shape this into our reality.