The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog

Innovations:

Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments



Blog Archive

User Pages

Login

About Us

Submission guidelines

Store


Lessons learned in year 4

Pink cosmos flowerLast year at this time, I wrote a lunchtime series about lessons learned during year 3 on the farm.  I've been trying to put together a similar series for year 4, but the truth is that my lessons this year are both too large and too small to fit into a lunchtime series.  Basically, I learned relaxation, how to release all worries on Friday afternoon and take the time to let my creativity flow.  I learned to love the journey of the farm rather than becoming bogged down in daily problems and the far off glint of the destination on the horizon.  How do you write a lunchtime series about bliss?

If anyone's interested, I'll post another time about the complicated list of lists I use every day, week, month, and year to keep myself on the bliss track rather than on the overextended "we'll never get everything done in time!" track.  (This is only relevant to type A people.)  But bliss doesn't just come from lists.

Shelf fungus and tomatoesI think that this year's journey toward bliss began when we went on our cruise last October.  Somewhere between gazing out at the ocean for hours and climbing a pyramid, I realized that I'd never been on a true vacation before in my life.  Sure, I'd taken week-long trips to the beach with my family, flown across the country to a friend's wedding, but taking time off with the focus solely on myself?  Never.

After we came home from the cruise, I started to notice how Mark made every day a little special.  A trip to the library turned into a mini-vacation --- just the two of us together in the car, filling the great gaping hole in my life that yearns for the printed word, then running together through the rain into a gas station to splurge on an ice cream cone that we ate under the gas-pump-overhang, licking streaks of sweetness as water poured off the roof.

Broccoli starting to head upAs spring came to the farm, I developed an allergy to mainstream media.  We haven't had a TV since we moved to the farm, but last year I spent days listening to NPR while weeding the garden.  This year, even public radio felt like an intrusion, so I began to weed in silence, watching butterflies mate while I  wove permaculture relationships in my head.  I practiced Spanish as I built chicken waterer kits, dissolving myself into the foreign language until I felt like I'd been on, yes, another vacation during work hours.

Soon, I began to have negative reactions to our twice weekly dose of Netflix movies --- when romantic comedies give you nightmares, you know it's time to back off.  I bid farewell to quick scene changes and hello to sudden urges to write and write and write.  Summer squash plantsOne weekend, I pounded out the first quarter of a young adult novel (to be finished this winter, if I decide the tale is as gripping as it felt at the time.)

Mark knew he'd won when I started to ask him if he'd mind taking random afternoons off.  Previously, I had been the task master, keeping our noses to the grindstone from 9 to 4.  Now I could tell when my body needed a break, or when my mind was full of an idea that was aching to flow onto paper or computer.

So, lessons learned in year 4?  Following my bliss.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you how to get there, but I can tell you that it's possible.

Achieve the leisure to follow your own bliss with Microbusiness Independence.


Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.


You'll have to give me a refresher on your list techniques.

I hope it doesn't take me four years to learn what you learned this year. I'm not sure I - or, especially, Missy - would last that long. This job change should help A LOT, but I know it isn't just work; It's also me.

I was recently reading a book of stoic philosophers and a question posed was: What do you want to accomplish in life? What is your ultimate goal? I thought "Why, happiness of course" but that seemed like a cop-out. After all, everyone's answer would be happiness if it were that easy. The question really being posed was: What would make you happy? What would make you look back and think you lived a "good life" and didn't leave any of your cards on the table...

My answer was that I wanted to be the best human being I am capable of becoming in this life time. There are hundreds of little mini-goals that I need to accomplish in order to reach this one big goal, which is more of a "ideal" than anything one can actually expect to reach one day. One of those "mini goals" is to learn how to relax.

And thank you for your advice on how to do that. I can tell you have been in this situation before so I trust you when you find ways that actually work.

Congrats on your fifth year!

Comment by Everett Tue Sep 7 13:33:52 2010

"If anyone's interested, I'll post another time about the complicated list of lists I use every day, week, month, and year to keep myself on the bliss track rather than on the overextended "we'll never get everything done in time!" track. (This is only relevant to type A people.) But bliss doesn't just come from lists."

Please, Anna? I'm a type G personality and it's impossible for me to keep track of things we need to do. I follow my bliss so much I tend to loose track of where the bigger bliss comes from.

Comment by April Tue Sep 7 15:55:47 2010

Thank you both for commenting to say you'd like to hear more about my lists. I'll definitely write up a post about that this week, although not tomorrow --- I try to space out my way too long posts so as not to drive anyone away.

I suspect my post will help Everett more than April. Being about 90% type A, I can see into type A heads, but am not sure whether the techniques will carry over to type B (or G.) Mark (a classic type B personality) seems happy to put in his two cents worth on my lists now and then and otherwise let me knock myself out with them. :-)

Everett --- I think you're probably ahead of where I was even two years ago. I don't think I even began to realize that I was driving myself crazy with my mindset until then. Which means you've probably got less time than you think before you've achieved relaxation. As goal-oriented as you are, I suspect you could be there in six months if you set your mind to it.

I like your thought question about "What do you want to accomplish in life?" For about a decade, this farm was my life goal, but now I'm living on it and plan to spend at least 70 more years alive, so I guess maybe I need another life goal?

Comment by anna Tue Sep 7 16:44:25 2010
I just wanted to let you know I got my giveaway items in the mail today. Love the onions, love the shirt, and I'd totally forgotten about the chicken waterer parts! How exciting - an extra gift within a gift! And it was my birthday Saturday too! Thanks again :)
Comment by Bladerunner Tue Sep 7 21:36:27 2010

I'll third wanting to read about your lists and how they help you! I was a type A personality, but my husband has corrupted me and now I seem only to have the perfectionist tendencies and the need to organize, but I've lost the ability to organize tasks efficiently and manage time. As you can imagine, this has left me feeling both crazy and cranky; not the best me I could be! And I need some time to follow my bliss too; I already know from experience that the best way for me to keep in good health is to have enough time to create. So please do enlighten us on your list-making! :)

Everett, I also liked your question. My own little epiphany of the past year sort of had to do with that kind of question: I realized that, in spite of disappointments and set-backs, I have been living the life I dreamed of as a kid. A thirteen year-old me, looking at my life so far, would say "That's just what I want to do when I grow up." And realizing that put all of the minor sadnesses (when things didn't work the way I thought they would) in a positive perspective: things may not be going exactly as planned, but I'm already living the life which I have imagined.

Comment by Ikwig Tue Sep 7 21:38:12 2010

Seems you have a Buddhist undercurrent going here even if you don't realize it. :P I've copied statements below that made me think this.


Basically, I learned relaxation, how to release all worries on Friday afternoon and take the time to let my creativity flow. I learned to love the journey of the farm rather than becoming bogged down in daily problems and the far off glint of the destination on the horizon.

But bliss doesn't just come from lists.

After we came home from the cruise, I started to notice how Mark made every day a little special. A trip to the library turned into a mini-vacation --- just the two of us together in the car, filling the great gaping hole in my life that yearns for the printed word, then running together through the rain into a gas station to splurge on an ice cream cone that we ate under the gas-pump-overhang, licking streaks of sweetness as water poured off the roof.

so I began to weed in silence, watching butterflies mate while I wove permaculture relationships in my head. I practiced Spanish as I built chicken waterer kits, dissolving myself into the foreign language until I felt like I'd been on, yes, another vacation during work hours.

Mark knew he'd won when I started to ask him if he'd mind taking random afternoons off. Previously, I had been the task master, keeping our noses to the grindstone from 9 to 4. Now I could tell when my body needed a break, or when my mind was full of an idea that was aching to flow onto paper or computer.

So, lessons learned in year 4? Following my bliss. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how to get there, but I can tell you that it's possible.


Quite a lot of Buddhist teaching is mindfulness of the present moment. A couple of the statements above seemed to reverberate that message when I read them... like the ice cream at the gas station, and the weeding in silence while watching butterflies.

Another teaching has to do with the path one takes... no two paths are alike. Your statement "I learned to love the journey of the farm rather than becoming bogged down in daily problems and the far off glint of the destination on the horizon" seems to remind me of that. The Buddha taught that there was only the present moment. The past is done... there is no changing it. The future is not here yet, and you can't predict it. Therefore, there is only the present. You only have control over the present moment... and it is impermanent... just as those plants over there, joy, pain, life, spring, winter, etc. are all impermanent. So, enjoy the moment you are in, and be mindful of your present path.

I started reading quite a bit about Buddhism last year post-nervous-breakdown and I have been surprised how much of it just makes sense to me. Anyway, I was amused to see your post and how many parallels there was to Buddhist teachings.

I don't know if you are religious or not, nor do I know if you believe in a higher power. Me personally, I consider Buddhism to be a religion without religion, if that makes sense. Someone once said it's the original psychology...

Hope this post isn't too off the deep end for ya! :D Buddhists also teach that you should not take for granted any of the teachings. You should experience it for yourself and see what works for you. A Buddhist teacher in California told me a few weeks ago, "Don't believe a word I just said. It's all bullshit. Think about it and come up with your own conclusions." He also said "Anyone ever tells you they have their shit together, it's probably because they're standing in it."

So... relax, and enjoy the path you have chosen.

:P

Comment by Shannon Tue Sep 7 22:08:26 2010

Bladerunner --- I'm so glad they arrived! Happy birthday!

Ikwig --- I've discovered that the combination of a type A and type B personality can be extremely powerful...if you don't kill each other first. :-) It sounds like you two are already starting to meet in the middle and just need a little help making that middle a more powerful (and efficient) place.

I also like your comment about what your thirteen-year-old self would think of your life. Except for the husband (which I never thought I'd want at 13), my life is actually something 13 year old Anna would have thoroughly approved of, I think.

Shannon --- See, you clearly could have taken my long rambling post and summed it up much better! You found the point that I wasn't sure was there --- thank you! :-) I'm not religious, but Mark has actually been pushing the concept of living in the moment as long as I've known him, and I guess bits of that have stuck.

I'm very sorry to hear about your nervous breakdown, although it sounds like that has been part of your own path to enlightenment.

Comment by anna Wed Sep 8 08:34:57 2010

Anna,

The nervous breakdown was all work induced the spring of last year. No biggie. I'm better for it having come out of it in better shape than I was.

As for not being religious... personally, I was raised catholic. I had had enough of it by the time I was force fed 9 years of catholic school. I spent most of my twenties and early thirties wavering between atheist and agnostic. It's only the last year or so I have slowly started to consider myself more Buddhist.

I really don't consider Buddhism a religion. Until one starts reading about it and talking to folks who are practicing buddhists, it's hard for westerners to really get one's mind wrapped around it.

Enough of that...

I'm glad you've found your own way of living in the moment. Life is so much better when focused on the here and now rather than worrying about yesterday and tomorrow. I tried to sum it up for someone one day and all I could come up with was this:

"I've always said 'I'll get there someday' as if there is some secret to life I have yet to learn. If only I could remember that 'there' is really 'here', I'd be there already."

Comment by Shannon Wed Sep 8 12:59:57 2010
I understand what you mean about not considering Buddhism a religion. I've read a lot about Buddhism, and find the philosophy intriguing...although not enough that I'm willing to believe in the more religious elements.
Comment by anna Wed Sep 8 16:59:52 2010

Heh... well, like I say, I see Buddhism as a non-religion. A proper discussion on the subject could take quite a while... maybe if I ever get to visit y'all. I'd have to explain my interpretation I guess.

The whole reincarnation thing is where most people get hung up on buying into buddhism, including myself. (and for those that think Buddhists worship Buddha, that can be a hangup too... in reality, Buddha is no more special than any person on the planet except that he "woke up") But... with certain interpretations of reincarnation, it actually makes a lot of sense and is not at all what western culture thinks of reincarnation. It has so little to do with religion in the western sense. The real problem is that something gets lost and often misinterpreted between eastern and western cultures. It is not the person or the "soul" that is reincarnated. It actually fits quite well with my atheistic/agnostic views. :P

Then again, there are as many interpretations of Buddhism as there are cultures on the globe. Each culture has added its own spin to it. That's why there are Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan, Zen, etc. Buddhist sects. I'm just glad I'm not like the guy in Florida who is going to burn the Koran this Saturday. :D

Comment by Shannon Wed Sep 8 18:31:09 2010

I think that if you leave the soul and god(s) out of it, I still don't like the idea of religion because it feels too one-size-fits-all to me. My spirituality (such as it is) is highly personal and has more to do with walking in the woods than with anything else. Even if my spirituality came down to the exact same things that Buddhism covers, I don't think I could handle Buddhism because it's the thoughts of someone other than me. (I'm not sure if I'm really making sense here. Just thinking through why I can't even handle Buddhism, liberal Quakerism, etc.)

You'd better start planning your trip north -- I think that I've decided to let Mark go ahead with the zipline project as long as he builds my stepping stones too. :-)

Comment by anna Wed Sep 8 19:17:39 2010
Some people find a road map handy, even if their planned route will be different.
Comment by Errol Wed Sep 8 19:29:37 2010
I can definitely see why people might go the organized religion route. I guess I'm like one of those stereotypical men who won't stop and ask for directions when they're lost. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Sep 8 20:18:43 2010

"You'd better start planning your trip north -- I think that I've decided to let Mark go ahead with the zipline project as long as he builds my stepping stones too."

Ha Ha! I forgot about the zipline, but not the need for a bridge. Even if you build a bridge, the zipline should go in for the fun of it. Unfortunately, I have a bit of travel planned in the near future. I'll be in AZ soon for about 10 days to visit my mother, and then possibly Atlanta in November. Maybe a December trip?

Comment by Shannon Wed Sep 8 23:41:13 2010

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime