Tuesday, August 28, 2012

modest plans

I don't know about where you live, but here Fall is just around the corner. It's the end of August and trees are starting to turn colors, the nights are down into the mid-fifties, and the next things on my to-do list include calling in the chimney sweep and getting some firewood ordered and stacked. Right now I just finished paying off all the August bills, some a little late, but at least they are all up to date. Someone asked me in the hardware store how business was and I told them the honest truth, that I am breaking even. I make enough money writing, selling ads, and running workshops to cover my bills and that's about it. There's some extra money, sometimes, and like last week's trip to Goodwill it went into new clothes. (Well, new to me) I spent 18.50 at Goodwill and got a brand-new pair of nice jeans, two dress shirts, a sweater and a wool skirt. All of it brand names, gently used. New clothes, even new outlet clothes, aren't part of the budget. It's okay by me. I'd rather wear someone else's wranglers on my own horse. Life is all about priorities.

I am spending the afternoon editing another chapter of Days of Grace, and then starting dinner for Ajay and I. He is living just down the road at Jon Katz's place, he got a care taking job there and is currently working like a dog stacking wood and tearing down an old barn on Jon's property. He has a bedroom, a bike, and a strong back. Here in Farm country you don't need much more to make an honest living. Since he is only a mile away I invite him up here to join me for dinner a few times a week. It's nice for both of us. He gets a nice home-cooked meal in exchange for some help with evening chores. I get the chore help, and some company. After dinner I'm brewing some beer in anticipation of fall and Ajay might help. He never brewed before and I think he'll like it.

It's funny how much just a few weeks after leaving my corporate job my life has changed. I have never been this busy, or frantic, or scared about basic things like making all my bills. And yet, I have never slept so well, or had such time to focus on health and well being. I might be stressed out about things, but I am taking care of myself in a way that physically allows me to handle it. I might be jumping into the unknown but there's time to stretch before and meditate after, and that's a sort of insurance all of its own.

I also have time to actually do the things I have been working towards for so many years. Time to saddle a horse and ride up a mountain when I need a mental health break. Time to weed and turn over a garden I haven't given up on yet. And most importantly, there's time to really sit down and edit and write. Really pay attention to sentences, and do the work I am happiest doing. I think my next book is my best ever. I am excited to share it with all of you.

Okay, time to stop putting off the editing and get into the hard work of it all. When my chapter is where I approve it should be, I'll start getting dinner ready. A modest plan, but one worth keeping up the good fight for.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing some of your life with us. I'm enjoying your blog very much!

August 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Congratulations on breaking even. I think a profit will come. Sounds like the fiddle camp was a success and you have your gig at the Mother Earth conference.

I sold some farm products for the first time last Sat. at the annual yard sale in our tiny rural hamlet. Sold several loaves of pumpkin spice bread and pumpkin zuchini bread sweetened with honey. Also some soap. Many people in our area are quite independant and I did not sell all my product. They can, raise livestock, ect. My unsold items went into the freezer so no time wasted.

We have put out a small fall garden, have the wood in and stacked, and the shop and pasture ready for winter. We will not have a fire in the stove until late Oct.

Looking forward to sitting by the fire with a good book or knitting with local Alpaca wool.

The Phony Farm, Middle TN

August 28, 2012 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger sash said...

liked this post a lot! particularly needing a bike and bed and it'll get ya far!

August 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Sounds like a grand plan to me! Enjoy the time with your chapter and the reward of a good dinner and good company afterward :)

August 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Kiwi Girl said...

I live in NZ so we are heading into Spring and I for one am very glad of it because it has been a very wet & damp winter. I am yearning to feel the warm sun on my skin and to sit outside and drink tea and contemplate life in general. I simply love your blog as it is so far removed from the life I live here and yet I am deeply envious of your lifestyle and the way that the seasons effect your everyday living. Life has gotten to be too complicated in my humble opinion and people are so greedy for more more more! Keep up the good work and I will enjoy Autumn with you from my PC ..

August 28, 2012 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

So happy for you.

August 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Awfulknitter said...

Profit is about more than money, although when bills have to be paid it won't feel like it!

It hardly feels like we've had a summer at all here in Britain - lots of rain, and not much sun. I'm glad I don't have to grow things to eat! But I have made picalilli (a mustard-vegetable pickle) and have some rosehips steeping to flavour rum. And I'm looking forwards to picking sloes to make another batch of gin! I think autumn round here is signalled by getting out preserving jars...

August 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM  
Anonymous nytesong said...

Your modest plans sound perfect to me. Your comfort and joy in the simpler things in life are something I think often about when things are getting complicated over my way.

August 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, you are on the way to having all you need for winter. Try not to stress too much, could make yourself sick ya know. It will all get done soon enough.

I just got the last of my hay in the barn this morning. That put me at around 180 bales. Plus got a free truckload of firewood yesterday! So we are on the way to getting our wood. Just need a wood stove now. We have a fireplace but it burns way too much wood.

So how are the goats? I miss your milk pail diaries, even though I have milk goats and am practically swimming in milk. I do like to read of others and their milk goats. Are you planning on breeding both does this fall? I am getting ready to breed 4 of mine. Just got a new Boer buck to breed the Nubians with for a meatier goat next year.

Why are the little word verifications gettin harder and harder to read???

August 28, 2012 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I don't just love, I ADORE this phrase: "I'd rather wear someone else's wranglers on my own horse." !!!

August 28, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Two days in a row practicing my trusty fiddle. (MY fiddle, HA). My fingers are numb and I love it. The fact that I can't feel the "t" under my index finger means I put in my time. 30 minutes each day and it feels like the best part of my day. I must admit, though, Lucky looks at me with eyes that seem to say "are you doing THAT again?" But he doesn't howl or anything.

AND while I was fiddling my heart out this weekend we received orders for 16,000 pieces of caramel. That doesn't get us to break even yet but it goes a long way to settling my mind. We're going to be ok.

August 28, 2012 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

It's hard work, but oh so worth it for that satisfaction of "doing it yourself".

Don't forget to give thanks to God, the universe, and to the people who, even in such small ways, help you achieve that dream along the way.

August 28, 2012 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Love Goodwill!!! I found three pair identical looked new carhartt jeans $3.79 a pair. This week it was an Eddie Bauer sweater and vest, as well as a Bissell little green clean machine for $12.99. What I don't spend at Goodwill goes toward. . . .

probably a new well pump tomorrow. Boo hiss.

August 28, 2012 at 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Good all the way around for you, Jenna. I am looking forward to another book by you. You kind of candor is rare and much appreciated.

August 28, 2012 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Kate - what caramels? Perhaps you have a website you can share? I bet Jenna's readers would love to buy caramels from you! To take you over the break even point you know!

And Jenna, I'm not sure if this is manageable (or even a wise business move as you are probably seeking support from your sponsors) but perhaps for your readers, like Kate, who clearly have some small business going on you can encourage them to include their website in their posts so that your other readers can give them some business too! Sort of a "what goes around comes around" thing.


Oh, and I tried to post a comment in your recent fiddle post asking about recommendations for left-handed fiddles and it didn't go through. I second the comment about the word/letter/number verifications being very hard to read.

August 28, 2012 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Michelle...we all need to remember to say thank you to all those, great and small, who help us along the way. It helps us to keep our heads on straight and not get too full of ourselves in thinking we accomplished wonderful things all on our own. I find it humbling and am more grateful for those around me when I stop to thank even the smallest good will.

August 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

You're doin pretty darned good Jenna- no you're not rich in money, but you are so rich in soul, which is much more important! I really hope within the next year I can make it out to one of your workshops and see all this (and you) in person, that would be somethin.

Oh & Goodwill ROCKS! My favoritest flannel Ever is from there- brand new w/ tags... 3.50. Can't beat that with a stick I tell ya~

August 28, 2012 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

A beautiful plan! And might I add, among the other benefits you listed to quitting your corporate job - you sound at peace. :)

August 29, 2012 at 1:06 AM  
Anonymous donna greeneville tn said...

you go girl!

August 29, 2012 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I am always impressed by how creative you are in coming up with ideas to generate more income. You are quite the entrepreneur, and I believe I've learned more than a few things about fearlessness and business from you Jenna. Well done!

August 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

My husband and I are also preparing for the oncoming winter. He has been stacking wood & I have been baking & freezing. Tomorrow our new woodstove comes (our old used one has a crack and isn't safe to use any more). We have someone coming to help us split wood from trees that my husband cut down this summer.
I call the Goodwill Store "my favorite store" because I can buy my fall wardrobe for about $30.00 (I look at for all of the color of the day tags which means that they'll be 1/2 price). I recently bought 2 pair of Eddie Bauer jeans, a nice long-sleeved shirt, a sweater that looks like it is right off the rack at a department store & a pair of Mudd casual shoes (these were not 1/2 price) and the whole thing cost me $18. I also subscribe to their website so I just received a $5.00 coupon via email to be used with a $25.00 purchase before September 24th. What a deal!!!!! I will go there for more jeans for myself and my husband and flannel shirts for us both. Bring on winter ~ I'll have my flannel shirts soon.

August 29, 2012 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

You're the best, Jenna. Your blog is so inspiring to me, especially posts like this where you're honest about your fears. As I've said before -- and I'm not sure how often I need to keep saying it, because I don't know whether or not you remember me, having so many commenters -- ... I feel that our life journeys are on such similar paths right now even though we are striving for very different professions/lifestyles. I like how you said that you've never been more scared in your life than you've been in the last month, and yet you've also never felt better in other regards. In the last couple of weeks I've gone through some tremendous, frightening changes and what ended up practically becoming some kind of vision quest as I learned some incredibly transcendent things about the world and about myself.

One of those things was that it is OKAY to fully feel fear and sadness as they happen and to not try to push them away. At the same time, those feelings should not stop me from doing the things I know I love and will regret not trying. As such, I have banished both worrying and hope from my thinking and speaking (when they come up I smile and flick them away), because they accomplish absolutely nothing. What I should do is just DO the things I want to do, and not give too much to what I can't control, other than overall positive vibes. I've also come to accept that I will continue to make mistakes throughout my life, big and small, and that I should not ever be ashamed of this, but that I should instead be as genuine as I can be in each moment, and try to learn from everything. With all these maxims internalized, I have done some things in the last week that I found absolutely terrifying but which I felt so good about finally doing because I knew they were honest. And things have been turning out really well. I've severed and changed some relationships, but also deepened others. And I keep finding new things to be even more scared about. And that's okay. I just keep going. This is what an honest life is like, I'm realizing. Maybe eventually the fear and sadness will subside, but I will neither hope nor worry about that :)

August 31, 2012 at 7:25 PM  

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