Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dream Life

One of the things I hear all the time from readers and folks on social media is "You're living my dream life." It's lovely to hear and in its own way affirming. Knowing other people are drawn to the same choices or aspire to them is validating as hell, but it's also not the whole truth.

Be aware you're comparing the reality of your actual life to the curated presentation I am sharing online. My Instagram account does not show the slaughter day I was covered in blood and scratches from chasing an escaped 200lb sow in the forest during the most humid day of the year. Nor did I photograph my night two evenings ago when I left my bed to the sound of Hannah the ewe screaming because she got her head stuck in the fence. I was out there in the chaos with a flashlight between my teeth removing her horns from woven wire while coyotes howled in the distance and Friday kept barking.

If I posted pictures of those days my account would look more like Apocalypse Now than a dreamy farm. I'd rather share that part of my life in words (like the last post about Shearing Day Breakout) than in pictures. I keep reality to Twitter and this blog. I like the photographs I share to be a scrapbook of good memories. 

But here's the problem with that: We get comparison hangovers all the time from that exact choice. It gives people the illusion that someone's life is better than our own. I feel it all the time. I follow a couple hundred people on Instagram and recently deleted some of the more popular/weirdly commercial accounts I followed. Accounts like the perfect femme couple selling skin cream with promotion codes or backpacking dogs selling canine energy bars. Mostly because they are total strangers but more so because I want to know about the real mess behind the photo shoot. Sure, hand me your beautiful album but please tell me the story behind pictures. I need to know you're just as real. That you also are figuring it out every day and are terrified most of the time.

Do you see that picture of Friday and Mabel on the mountain in this post? Yes, it is so pretty. But here's the story behind it: Friday is currently in heat and has to wear a diaper inside so blood doesn't get all over the floor and bed. It's also why Gibson isn't in this picture.  He's not allowed to be around her unsupervised and I can't play chaperone and horse trainer at the same time. I'm not on Mabel because I got off her at the bottom of this little valley, near those bushes below in the picture. Why? Because she is so nervous being ridden without another horse on the trail it doesn't feel safe. She's jumpy so we take the ride in little steps, me getting on and off and her learning the safety and ease of a solo trail ride. I'm not confident to take her out all around the mountain alone like I do with Merlin because SHE isn't there yet. So what you see is a bitch in heat, a 1200lb scaredy cat, and a girl with enough bug bites to receive a benefit concert. 

I don't want anyone who reads this blog to think of my life as a perfect dream come true. I want people to be inspired to create their own imperfect dreams. Why? Because life is short and regret is forever. Because it's better to fail trying than drown comfortable and untested. Because you want it so bad it takes up space in your lungs and nags you at 3:32 on a Wednesday afternoon when you should be thinking about Steve's stupid PowerPoint presentation on email click-through rates but instead you are scrolling through breeds of draft horses under the table on Pinterest. Because you can't fucking help it.

Nothing feels better than a reader who found one of my books or blog telling me about closing a sale on their first farm, buying their first horse, getting their first egg from a backyard hen. That gives me such a rush!  It makes me feel less alone in the world. It matters so much you tell me those stories, but mostly because I want to matter to something besides these 6.5 acres.

And please know if you're reading this you're probably living a version of my dream life.

You know how you're paying the next month's bills? You're living my dream life.
You have a partner that loves you and cares about you? You're living my dream life.
You have health insurance? Savings? You're living my dream life.
You have more than 2 digits in your bank account right now? You're living my dream life.

None of this is a complaint. I chose this life and I truly adore it. Not having financial security in exchange for working from home and having this farm was a gamble I endeavored to roll. Being single is preferred to being in a relationship I would feel is settling or, more importantly, restrictive. Health insurance and savings are something I am working towards, but not there yet, again: my choice. And right now the reason I am so low in my account is because I just managed to catch up on old dental bills and some current work that was sorely needed and caught up on old electric bills. I'm broke because I'm staying afloat and able to chew.

So that's where I'm at. The best type of real love and real fear, free for you to witness online. And when you tell me it helps your own story, oh man, it's the drive I need to keep learning to be more resourceful, frugal, hardworking and true to my own dream.

My own imperfect, messy, horrific, perfect, beautiful dream.

Just keep going, all of us.