A Growing Season

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Autumn 2018 has been a growing season for me on a deeply personal level. These darker days of the year are a time for self-reflection, and somehow, with the purchase of the farm now behind me, I finally found myself strong enough to deal with some healthy confrontation. I turned inward this fall, embracing the discomfort of personal growth, and now, on the other side of it all─and facing a new year on a farm that is mine─I’m feeling stronger than I’ve ever been.

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It’s a little embarrassing to admit that this is the first time I’ve ever lived on my own, but that’s the path my life’s journey has taken. While Runamuk has always been largely my project, I’d always had support and help on occasion from a significant other. It’s been more than a year though, since I’ve had anyone resembling a “significant other” in my life. Being alone here since July, with only myself to rely on has been both terrifying and liberating at the same time. I couldn’t help but worry that I’d bit off more than I could chew. So many people helped me to get here, and so many people are watching─what if I can’t do it? What if─after everything I’ve been through to get here─I fail now?

Despite my fears and misgivings, I welcomed the chance to stand on my own two feet, and I think my work here at Runamuk this fall has proven that I’m capable of getting things done on my own. I bought a farm, moved all of my farming bits and bobs over, and have proceeded to set up shop─constructing livestock housing, reclaiming gardens, building compost bins, establishing work spaces, and cultivating a sense of home and security for my children. I did all that while still working part-time in the Call Center at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

At first it felt uncomfortable; I was not accustomed to being alone. I struggled with it earlier in the summer, but then as autumn came on I accepted and leaned into the seclusion. It is in this solitude that I am learning to better know myself, to love myself and to be myself. I embraced the dark days and really reflected on myself, my relationships, and the things that are truly important to me.

For far too long I’ve given my love freely to those around me, in hopes of being so loved in return. I have great capacity to love, and─having dealt with my own share of depression, anxiety, and personal hardships─I want the people around me to know that someone in this world cares about them. In the words of the great James Taylor, “You’ve Got a Friend.”

I can’t deny, however, that we all perceive the world in different ways based upon whatever experiences life hands us. I came to realize that my love was unwarranted in some cases─even unwanted sometimes, and that sometimes─people just do not have room in their lives for love.

It was a very painful lesson for me and my heart is still healing from it.

Having a big heart is one of the things I love most about myself. I love; it’s what I do. I love nature and my kids, my friends and family, my community. Love is the reason I do the things I do─and why I give so much of my time and energy to my community.

Conversely, allowing that tender heart and my precious love to be taken advantage of is one of the things I like least about myself. I will give and give and give of myself if I think it will make someone happy, if I think it will help someone in need─and often I, myself, am the one in need. It brings to mind the story of The Most Foolish Traveler, take a few minutes to watch, if you will.

The moral of the story is that I am finally learning to set boundaries. I am learning to love myself first, and to prioritize the people and things I care most about so that my love and energy flows where it is most valued by me and me alone. Afterall, this is my journey, and I am the Captain of my own life. Queen of my own castle.

This was an unusually personal post, I know, but I believe it’s important to share our struggles so that others who might also be suffering know they are not alone. If I’m having to work through these kinds of issues, it’s likely there’s someone else out there who is faced with similar troubles.

This was also to acknowledge those feelings of fear and inadequacy that are ever-present, because anyone who thinks they’re going to go into farming should be prepared to feel those things. This is an intense business─a highly rewarding lifestyle on an intrinsic level, but it’s also a super-intense business. There will be days when you are on top of the world─the sun is shining, you’ve got it all together and things are going smoothly; but then come the days when you’re farming from the trenches. Those are the days that Murphy’s Law prevails, you’re covered in animal shit, literally bleeding, broken and crying in the rain─and you limp into the farmhouse at the end of the day, licking your wounds with your tail between your legs.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Leaning into my own discomfort, and allowing myself to grow and evolve, is going to set Runamuk up for some really good growth this coming season. Check back soon for my annual Year-End Review, and look for more on the way about what’s in store for runamuk in the 2019 growing season!

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