Monday, June 4, 2012

package at the front door

When I came home from work today there was a package by the door. It said 468photography on it, a familiar name and logo. I knew it was a print I ordered of Jasper and I. Inside the large, thin box was a photo of me holding Jasper's head. He has blinders on and I have my straw cowboy hat over my eyes. We are side by side. I wanted the photo because it marks this point in my life so perfectly, so sadly. In that photo you might see a woman holding a working horse, looking certain and confident. I see a terrified and anxious woman. A woman at her heaviest weight of all time. A woman who barely sleeps more than 4 hours a night. A woman who was about three weeks away from quitting her job because she there was no room for it anymore.

Honestly, I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep up with the three-job lifestyle. I was writing, farming, and a 4-day a week corporate employee. Between those things I felt spread so thin some mornings I would just lay in bed, dreading going into the office. Not because I disliked the work or people—it was and remains an amazing place to work—there was just too much of my life here. Too much to care for, plan, expand, and create. There were workshops and books and visits from out of town guests. I had family and personal issues to work through. I had a body to heal and start treating right, not as simply the brute force to do chores and dishes with. I had gotten a fairly serious case of carpel tunnel and went to the doctor to talk about it. When I told him I am a full-time web designer, farmer, and writer he seemed surprised I still had limbs...

If you read this blog you may think I seem fearless, or cavalier. I am neither of those things. I'm scared of this place and my decisions all the time. I am however, too stubborn to give up on a goal once I set my ears back and raised my hackles to face it. Everyone has a shining virtue and mine isn't grace, or beauty, or intelligence. My virtue, my driving force, is stubbornness. I will get where I am going, damnnit.

Back to that photograph of me and Jasper. In that picture I am feeling fat and tired. I remember it like it was half an hour ago. It was a beautiful day and I was surrounded by people I adored, but my mind was reeling. I was at war with the decision to leave work and worried it would mean losing everything. If this venture fails the animals, the land, the house, all of it could be lost. But I knew just staying at the office I was already losing. I was putting off the dream, waiting for a safe moment or a small windfall of cash to land in my lap. Well, guess what? There is no such thing as a safe moment, and I don't see any new book contracts coming in this summer. So I chose to jump. My plan is to waste no more time dreaming. To tell my fear to bother someone else for a while. And now that I am forced to make this place work with just a few months of savings and some ideas for new books....I will really see what I am made of.

This summer is also about slowing down, a lot. It's about taking time, not rushing through tasks. It's about jogs, and meditation, and wearing wrist braces and drinking more herbal tea and less coffee with cream and sugar. It's about healing. Not because I am broken, but because I feel I am in need of some maintenance as the train moves to a new set of tracks.

Changing directions always requires repairs.

So where am I going? Well, in a few days the entire tempo of my life is going to change. I keep thinking about it. It's been as exhausting as it has been exciting. I am about to embark on a whole new kind of life. Since pre-school I have not ever been in control of my time, certainly never my weekdays. All of it revolved around permissions and times granted from parents, school, work or paid vacation time. I went from elementary school to high school, high school to college, college right into 40-hour-work weeks and have done so for nearly a decade since graduation. But when I wake up Friday I will have left an entire lifestyle behind me. The only life I've known.

I'll be looking for crows in pairs. I will need them.


Blogger Becca said...

I know about decisions scaring oneself, but not so much about the stubbornness. If things work out for you then fantastic! If not, then you did more than most people and you at least tried. So I say good on ya and best of luck.

June 4, 2012 at 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Jenna, sometimes you blow us all away with the transparancy of your soul. You are far braver than most and you have many gifts of which stubborness may be one - but that too is a gift - the gift that will allow you to persevere in the face of the inevitable storms life throws one's way every now and then. You inspire people of all ages all around the globe - that photograph is a picture of who we all want to be - the person brave enough, strong enough and yes stubborn enough to not put their dreams on hold - to reach out and grab life and live it to its fullest. Bless you Jenna - come what may - you will always succeed.Thats what the picture shows.

June 4, 2012 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Katou said...

That was so touching, Jenna. Life isn't easy these days but I'm sure everything will be OK in the end because you are so determined.

Hugs and don't forget that there are a lot of people behind you.

June 4, 2012 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Best of luck to you.

June 4, 2012 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

Jumping out into the unknown for me always feels like exhilaration AND something that I think of as pre-failure. But you seem to have your head on straight and your wits about you, so you've got the best chance you could have to succeed!

June 4, 2012 at 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so honest, and brave, and determined, and human, and hopeful in the face of risk . . . all these things are what keep people following your life and words. On your blog it seems that even the scary, uncertain, hard, and sad moments get turned towards beauty in all the messiness that is life, especially life on a farm. I'd send a few pairs of crows your way if I could, but instead, I hope it helps to hear that at least one person is rooting for you.

June 4, 2012 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

You know what it is Jenna? You're just so human. I mean, you've done things at your age that many of us are in awe of or just plain respect, and no you are not fearless but damn if you're not brave! Besides all you've done and continue to do, it's your humanness I like most and why I continue to read your blog. Well, that and you are also a very gifted writer of course. I hope some day I'll be able to meet you, see your place and toast a cold one by the fire. You'll do just fine in this new chapter darlin, I just know it.

June 5, 2012 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Katie Swanberg said...

I seriously love you and your strength. You always seem to be a step ahead of me and far more articulate about how it feels. I too am stubborn beyond the average person, and the world needs folks like us to follow our dreams. You don't know me from Adam, but I am so dang proud of you and everything you've accomplished over the years. I know in my heart of hearts that it only gets more amazing from this point. Being in charge of your own time is a gift. And I always smile when I see crows in pairs.

June 5, 2012 at 1:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when Joel Salatin was first starting out and he was trying to farm and be a newspaper reporter? And he noticed that lots of people don't like doing less pleasant jobs, that even in a bad job market, there were still help wanted signs. He realized that physical labour, getting dirty, wasn't a problem to him, so if he needed cash at anytime he could just go work one of those jobs till he was over whatever had set him back. The thought was so empowering, he ended up quitting his newspaper job and getting on with buildign up Polyface. And you know how that story goes...You are the same kind of person in that regard. You will never be too proud to do what it takes to get past challenges - you've already proved it dozens of times. You are going to do great things.

June 5, 2012 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

If you ever get a chance watch, Alone in the Wilderness. It's about a man named Dick Prenoke (I can't spell his last name, lol) who packed up his whole life and built a cabin in the wilds of Alaska. He lived there for something like 30 years living off the land. If he can do it and succeed I have no doubt in my mind that you can!

June 5, 2012 at 2:51 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

God your life is running in parallel with mine so much. Three cheers for self-employment! And that photo is absolutely beautiful.

June 5, 2012 at 3:51 AM  
Blogger kristen tillotson said...

Jenna - I'm not quite sure what to say other than we have all been in that picture place. You say stubbornness is your strength but because of it you are inspirational. Your blog is what I read when I want to refocus. When I want to be reminded that what I want isn't so crazy. That the leap is possible. We don't know each other but through what you write; be it book or blog, you are a huge part of what drives my dream. Thank you for writing. Thank you for sharing. It is so important. Best wishes for your last week of "work". It marks the beginning of the real work.

June 5, 2012 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

You're taking the leap you need to grow your soul. I know you'll be fine, whatever happens. You've got the right stuff...

June 5, 2012 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger sunflower said...

Oh wow!
You have way more virtues than that!
I'm on the other side of the world and am inspired by you.....almost every day. I've been reading your blog a long time now and ever since the post about the dog in the window, my daughter (age 9) has been reading them with me. I choose my girl's role models carefully. We chose you for courage (being terrified but doing it anyway)honesty (your posts never shy from the truth) intelligence (which exudes from every word you write) kindness, charm,empathy, reason, common sense,there are so many more. If you are feeling heavy it's cos you're so choc full of qualities.
Much Love and admiration,
Tara (and daughter Sophie) xxx

June 5, 2012 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna, I unexpectedly quit my job last week, too. My last day is the 13th. I was not able to make daycare for my boys work over the summer, so I'm leaving. We have the priorities that matter most to us and when forced to choose between a job that I find soul-less, exhausting and in part degrading and my kids, the kids will win every time. I'm also scared not to have that steady paycheck coming in from me, but I won't miss the 3+ years I've worked with no vacation, sick or holiday pay. I've had 5 days off from that job in that much time, and those I took without pay. Since it's not quite 40 hours a week, they give me no benefits. I won't miss it, just the paycheck. The corporate world has never been for me, but I've done what I had to do to keep a roof over our heads and my family fed. I have faith in God (and my husband!) to keep us all okay.

I've taken some inspiration from you and decided to try to make a venture work here on our little homestead. When it comes to pass, I'll be so happy to have taken a plunge- though terrifying to me right now- that will improve my mental and physical state. No more way-to-many-hours-at-a-desk-on-my-butt life for me.

So, I wish you much luck in your endeavors, I'm sure you're gonna rock it all, you've got a lucky star and some serious understanding of the hard work it takes to succeed. Bon Chance!

June 5, 2012 at 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time and time again you jump without a "chute..but always hitch a ride in a hot air balloon on the way down...lifting you to newer heights..have faith...tand12165

June 5, 2012 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger Sassafrass said...

You keep going, girl. Conquer by continuing Jenna. The only way around is through. Blessings and Good Energy to you Always!

June 5, 2012 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

Change is alway scary, but you won't know what you are capable of unless you try. There are always options out there. If it dosent work (I think it will!) you can always find another job. Maybe part time or freelance. I feel you are on the right track and wish you the very best ( and 2 crows!).

June 5, 2012 at 6:24 AM  
Anonymous BoatDoc said...

Once upon a time while I was working for a Mega Corporation, I stopped at a country filling station where a new convience store was being built across the street. I asked the proprietor if he was going to improve his station to compete. He said no. I told him it would be better than starving to death and he replied, Son, have you seen anyone starving to death lately. This was my inspiration to leave the corporate world and become self employeed. It was 29 years ago and life has been real good. You are doing what I did and if you put your heart into it you won't starve to death either. Enjoy the future!

PS: The old man had sold the land to the new convience store.

June 5, 2012 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Woo hoo, Jenna! Based on this post, I wonder if you are familiar with Bach flower essences? If so, Olive will get you through this transition - it is meant for those who have been thru physical and emotional exhaustion - not always in a bad way either - it will help you get to your healing maintenance. I've studied flower essences for nearly 20 years and very much love them. Heck you could even make your own with that farm of yours! Best wishes!!

June 5, 2012 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Shoot, I wrote something and am not sure it posted cause I had to relog in...

June 5, 2012 at 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

I'm a year away from the jump and already terrified -- thank you for being so honest and stubborn, for jumping. I call these things 'small rebellions,' the turning aside from the expectations of society. You inspired me to start running (last Saturday). You inspire me to keep dreaming. The small rebellions become big changes -- for the better. Thank you. Good luck, and two crows -- thought and memory.

June 5, 2012 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger CrankyPuppy said...

Jenna, I'm a long time lurker on your blog and just wanted you to know that you've inspired me. After 30+ years of wanting to learn, I just purchased my first banjo - a Morgan Monroe Appalachia. And, following in your courageous footsteps, I will learn to play that instrument, by God. Forge on, sister, forge on!

June 5, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from my experience,
stubbornness + fear = courage.

and that's what you've got, my friend.

you're going to rock this.

June 5, 2012 at 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck Jenna. I think you are more than half crazy most of the time, but I admire your perseverence. No one ever got anywhere by not taking risks. Also, thank you for your plain honesty. It's why I keep reading this blog. I tire quickly of writers who share only their blessings and never trials. That is neither real, nor interesting, nor inspiring.

June 5, 2012 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger bree said...

You will will do it Jenna-you already are. Slowing down and focusing are important. Keep writing from the heart. It's what drew me to your blog and keeps me reading. I was hoping earlier that you won't forget that you are a writer, not only a farmer. When you write from the heart it is magical. You are such a talent.

June 5, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Lisa D. said...

Dear Jenna,

I've been reading your works on and off for a while, and I admire all that you do. You have been taking leaps of faith to follow your dream for some time now, and I am awed by each and every one.

Good luck on this latest venture.

June 5, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Lisa D. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 5, 2012 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

It's writing like this that makes you a successful writer.

June 5, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Jenna, once given the time to unwind and down shift I believe that your creativity will flow like a river. You are a powerful woman, all the more so for putting your feelings out here to share with us all. We are here. Everything will be ok because you are living your dream right now.

June 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jenna,

How you bare your soul is humbling to those of us who mostly keep their fears and hesitations inside so as not to appear weak or incompetent to those around us. I have a quote that I refer to regularly which says, "Most folks live lives of quiet desperation". Some days I think it's true and some days I can see beyond the hidden turmoil and grab a handful of courage. From what I can tell, you're able to grab a whole bushel basket full.

Thanks for this just reinforces to me how very human you are and helps me to slap down my own fears a little harder.

The very best to you in your new life. I'll be pulling for you.

Diane in North Carolina

June 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Sage said...

You are an inspiration and a brave woman. My chickens (from Chickens 101, March 2011) are still doing great, by the way.

I just wanted to relate my story of flying the coop. Last year I quit my tenure-track faculty position to return to part-time adjunct teaching. I teach Biology at the community college level. This "step down" seemed crazy to many people, but was necessary for my sanity and for me to do the work (homesteading, raising a family) I truly wanted to do. And, you know, even with making less money and having less in terms of job security and benefits, I am happier than I have ever been. You will be, too.


June 5, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Anonymous dagny gromer said...

Your readers have faith that you will pull it off. We are thinking of you.

June 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...


I absolutely understand what you are going through. Everyone had always been inspired by my marriage to my husband and my life in general...when I felt sad, "not good enough", fat, insecure...and now I'm having marital issues (that hopefully will be worked out, but not sure they can).

I can't remember exactly when, but over a year ago, you encouraged all of us readers to JUMP! Jump and do what we want/need in life. Don't wait - just make the leap and know that you are strong enough to catch yourself :-)

You inspired me! This time, one year ago, I was living in a crappy, too small apartment, with terrible neighbors in the suburbs. Now, I've purchased a four bedroom farmhouse with a parlor and the huge dining room that I've always dreamed about. I'm listening to my two angora goats and two dairy goats Baaaing. I'm looking out my front window watching the goats and our two alpacas (and our goofy great pyrenees) romping around the pasture.

I made the leap - it's scary, for sure, but you can do this. This is everything that you've been training for.


June 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of no saner way to cope with the stresses of life than holding onto the head of a horse, sensible creatures with magnificent qualities, truely a work of art by God or nature, whichever you prefer. Good luck in all you inspire alot of people to make the leap.

June 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

It seems like just about everyone I know is feeling the same way. We are all exhausted. We are both over and under whelmed. That's a confusing state to be in. Cleaning the kitty litter and weeding the garden are monumental tasks for me these days. Just sitting at my desk these days are taxing.

So, more power to you. You made the decision to get off the wheel in the Rat Race. I think it is awesome and brave. Things can only get better.

June 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger ebwhite said...

Yes, wrist braces -they help with slowing down the rest of your body which is what will help with so many things in your life. I found that wearing them when sleeping was uncomfortable at first but helped a great deal with the arm and hand pain. Remember since you are not on anyone else's schedule not everything needs to be done this week or even this month. Kind regards, Beth

June 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Herbal Tea said...

It's writing like this that makes you a successful writer.
Thank you for post.

June 5, 2012 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Melina said...

When I look at that photo I see your potential. You are gifted in passing along that potential to all your readers who aspire to learn this way of life and practice it. You will heal because you will change your habits.

I heard this at a lecture a few years ago and it stuck with me. The person speaking was not a farmer.
"Your life is a field. It's up to you want you want to plant in it. If you don't plant it it will grow anyways."

Best wishes to you on your next crop. Remember to take it one breath and one moment at a time.


June 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, you can credit yourself with wisdom. It is wise to make the decision and take action! I cured my wrists completely using DMSO every night from my shoulder down to my wrists. I had become a carpenter's apprentice at 44 years old because I wanted to learn how to do things myself. Pounding a 24 oz hammer while framing really challenged my body. The DMSO was miraculous, let me sleep deeply through the night, and healed the carpal tunnel that was coming in both wrists (mother and grandmother had surgery for this). I did the carpentry for a few years, full-time gardener after that, and my wrists are great! DMSO reconstructs and rejuvenates everything. It comes from trees... it is the life blood, the life force of trees that know how to live a long, long time!

DMSO comes in rose scented cream and gels now! I put essential oils and grapefruit seed extract in DMSO cream and use it to this day! The love of life is with YOU!..... that's like the FORCE!

June 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Melina said...

This is a video from a Buddhist farm near where I live. Everyone that visits there does farming to heal.

June 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

i just read this in the signature space of an email:

"If you don't run your own life, someone else will!"

...or one could say it opposite for a more positive swing, but the point is the same.

you certainly can't succeed nor fail w/o trying.

June 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Monster Librarian said...

You rock Jenna! I hope this transition time finds you able to get peace and healing in. Take care of yourself!

June 5, 2012 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Monster Librarian said...

Take care of yourself Jenna. I hope you find peace and healing and calm and happy things; thanks for always honestly sharing your journey.

June 5, 2012 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

The most visible quality in that photo is your determination. Head down, blinders (or sunglasses) on, full steam ahead with your dreams, no matter what.

It's exhausting, it's scary, and it'll be the ride of your life. There's a lot of people cheering you on (and quietly envying your choice, no matter how scary).

Looking for my own way to jump, right now. Don't worry; you'll always land on your feet. Maybe not quite where you planned, but it will work.

June 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Well said. Thank you for posting this. I needed to read something like this today.

June 5, 2012 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

I know it will all work out for you because you want it so much and you are determined to make it work. You are a brave soul and very talented and those two things together will bring you success. You are living a wonderful life for all of us & we appreciate you sharing it with us. I am so excited for you and wish I had done the same thing earlier in my life but, because of children & such, I was unable to. My mistake!! I still should have done it ~ stayed home with my kids and made a living from the land. It would have been wonderful to live the type of life that you will live after Thursday. Best of Luck ~ Love ya'.

June 5, 2012 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Please do slow down and let your body rest before it comes to mutiny.
I didn't care for mine properly until I started having chest pains and thought I was dying. I hope you won't let it get to that. Your contribution to the world would be missed. As a farmer, remind yourself that fallow time, especially sleep, is crucial to productivity.

Blessings on you for having the guts to leap!

June 5, 2012 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Did you ever think back when you first moved over that way to Sandgate that you would get to this point so soon! With Kate...wonderful things ahead for you; this will be good.

June 5, 2012 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

Ann is right ~ get some rest & don't rush everything. Life is to enjoy one moment at a time ~ don't hurry it along. As my daughter always tells me ~ You're so busy planting, weeding & caring for the flowers that you don't have time to stop & smell them. Take that time ~ enjoy the life around you!!

June 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Every once in a while I bookmark one of your posts. This is one of them.
We, too, are on the precipice of a new life. My husband quit his terrible life-sucking job in Jan. We are self employed with a home-based craft business, and are suddenly free. Free to leave this miserable city in RI and head for the woods.
We are making plans... it is scary, but exciting, and what you said is so true - there is no perfect time. You either take a deep breath and jump, or watch your life pass by from the sidelines.

June 5, 2012 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much easier to live a complex life that leads to little personal development, far more rewarding and difficult to live the simple life and live up to one's potential. Complex is simple and simple is complex. Go figure...

June 6, 2012 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Crit said...

How about a book about being brave enough to live your dream? I greatly admire that about you :)

June 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Jenna, you are so amazing. My husband lost his job back in Knoxville. And while we miss Knoxville with every fiber of our being, we don't miss the soul-sucking job he left behind there. Now we're looking forward, and looking at what we can do now that we're not tethered to it.

We just harvested our first honey today. He's getting contracting jobs (he does wordpress/IT/programming stuff) so we can save enough to buy some land somewhere and begin living our dream, instead of merely dreaming it. In the interim, we're hoping for a farm internship and working on building up my side business of processing wool and creating hand-dyed hand-spun wool with it.

June 9, 2012 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Patrice Nelson said...

You are very brave. It took me many years to choose my life over stable, well-paying with benefits, employment - employment that was really a great job with great people, but still I needed to get back to my life. You have what it takes and God bless you and all your animals, of course. You will not regret your decision, believe me. Oh, a self-insured tip! if you have a Costco warehouse anywhere close, its a great place for really cheap prices on prescriptions. I would love to attend your soapmaking workshop, but live too far away outside Chicago. Maybe, eventually. Yay!

June 11, 2012 at 10:11 AM  

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