Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The courage to fight for it

Seventeen years ago, we lived in a tiny, beautiful place by the sea.  With just enough work to get by, we scraped out a living not caring that there was never anything to spare.  We ate like kings thanks to a productive garden and a flock of healthy hens and I busied myself with my life's work at the time; raising young children, tending our garden and making a home out of our wee little house.  It was a simple, home focussed life in a beautiful place and I was drunk with happiness and contentment... 

...but as most things that seem too good to be true, it wasn't to last.  

The work died off in that tiny seaside place, leaving us faced with a choice that no young family should have to make.  Resolutely, like so many before us and so many after us, we uprooted and left that idyllic place (and our families) in search of steady work.

We slowly settled into a new life as strangers in an unfamiliar city.  That first winter froze us to the very core and we felt assaulted in every sense of the word.  There was work with regular pay (much needed, I tell you), but the harsh realization that we had traded our happiness and our simple lifestyle for a steady income stung like salt in an open wound.   

I subconsciously refused to touch the soil in this new place.  Those who know me may find this impossible to comprehend, for I (now) nearly always have life giving soil under my nails.  In those early years here, I believed that to root myself by working the earth was a physical way of claiming my new place and mentally accepting all that we left behind at edge of the Pacific.   I didn't have the courage to do it.

We soldiered on, reluctantly working to carve out a life that didn't feel temporary.   Our family grew and we slowly assimilated into city life (seven years is a long time to resist such things)...  Discontentment bred deep inside me but I refused to give it purchase.   Convinced that we were happy, and our problem was simply lack of space (we had outgrown our small home with the children count now topping out at 5), we moved to a bigger house.   

Ah yes, dear reader, you see where this is going, don't you?  Well, I'm glad that you can, but I'll have you know that we sure couldn't at the time...

As you may well know, a person can only live so long without the true and honest sense of contentment that comes from living a life that is aligned with your heart and soul.  The gnawing restlessness inside me grew to epic proportions and I finally reached my tipping point (as did my husband).   We had been here for TEN years and the stinging reality that our lifestyle was not *us* in any sense of the word felt like a slap across a sunburned cheek.  

 After much discussion, a whole lot of soul searching (and a hefty dose of courage), we set about re-creating the simple life that we missed, right here on the prairie.  Early in my quest for inspiration I stumbled upon a blog that profoundly changed my outlook and gave me much needed hope that this crazy idea wasn't so crazy after all.  Rhonda's words helped me find my way home again.  Ten long years of drought in my heart had created a thirst that was impossible to slake.   For over a month, I read (and re-read) the archives of her blog, engaged with passionate interest and invested focus.  The empty space inside me was beginning to fill up with something long forgotten.  


At first, we (wisely) chose to make small changes in our home and on our tiny city lot.  We built raised beds to cover most of the grass in our yard and we grew vegetables.

   The neighbours thought we were crazy.  

Getting my hands dirty for the first time in 10 years was awakening my dulled senses and I came to life just as those tiny seeds did when dampened by rain and warmed by the sun.  I started making everything and anything from scratch.  The neighbours asked if that wonderful smell coming out of our windows was in fact, REAL bread being baked.  They scratched their heads at my reply.  I didn't care, because it felt glorious to be purposely working toward creating a life that was representative of who we really were.  

Friends questioned my sanity.  

We ignored bylaws and hung a clothesline.  The neighbours were positively dumbfounded but *I* was seeing with the clarity of someone wearing new glasses for the first time.  Our efforts snowballed and as they did, our happiness slowly returned, bringing with it a glimmer of long lost contentment.  Soon after, we contemplated a move to the country and the rest is... (as we say) 


I share this story today because just maybe, our journey might inspire someone else.  It's never too late to give up on a dream and it's most definitely never to late to live true to your heart.  

So, dear reader, I want you to know, that when you see pictures of our chickens, you are seeing a small part of our dream that has materialized after many years of heartache and loss...  

...and when you see pictures of my garden and the food it produces, you are seeing into my heart where the courage lies.

Each post documents us being courageous enough to fight for the life we wanted.

We did it.

And so can you!


  1. Words fail me....such an inspirational and heartfelt post and i was just in awe of your journey and recognising myself in many of your words! Rhonda's archives gave me much the same hope and helped me begin to feed my soul and really look at life again.
    I'm so glad you are in the beautiful space that you are now and that you continue to post and inspire us that read your words xxx
    Was there really a bylaw that you couldn't hang a clothesline? I just can't comprehend that!!!

  2. Lovely and inspirational. I wish my partner shared my desire to live in the country....

  3. This post is wonderful! It has come on the perfect day for me. You see, my family is moving interstate in a couple of weeks due to Hubby's work. I am struggling with the whole thing (that may be a slight understatement lol). We had only recently decided that this would be the house we would stay in for the foreseeable future. We put on solar panels, planted a veggie garden,,,,,,now we have to leave it behind and move to a short term rental (hopefully short term!) while we find a house to buy over there. I have dreams of living sustainably or at least as much as we can on our block. Now all of that is put on hold and I worry that I won't settle in and I will loose my inspiration. Your post has reminded me that given time we will make it work! Thank you!!!!

  4. My eyes almost welled with tears at this heartfelt and honest post. GOOD ON YOU. I'm glad you got so much help and inspiration from Rhonda's blog it's a beauty isn't it, and I know she would be humbly honoured to hear your words.

    I'm with Jode, bylaws for clotheslines! Well I never!

    I get the general impression that America is slow to cotton on to frugal, green living, I'm sure that is changing, but I hope it hurries up, the more people on board, the healthier the planet, and the happier it's inhabitants. Many a pioneer settled the American Praries, and you can count yourself one of them.

  5. A brilliant and inspiring post Sherri.

  6. Maven, that can be hard... but not impossible :) Keep the discussion going. There is no one right PLACE to live, just a right-for-you-as-a-couple WAY. XO

    Our gang - I can TOTALLY relate to your comment! My only advice is not to wait as long as we did to make the place home :)

    Busy mum - we are in Canada not America :) The clothesline issue is common in the suburbs, particularly the new areas where architectural guidelines are in place to protect the "look" of the subdivision. Although there is plenty of support (and services) in place for water collection, recycling, composting, energy reduction and such, for some reason, we lag behind with the clothesline issue (in the new areas).

    1. Big oops, my apologies, sorry for that, I think I read the word prarie and assumed it was America, my only knowledge of praries is from Laura Ingalls Wilder. :)

  7. What a beautiful post!! I found Rhonda's blog just over two years ago, and it stirred in me a dream I didn't know I had - to live simply in the country with my husband, producing as much as we can comfortably. Now, we have just purchased 40 acres with a beautiful log house and all the outbuildings needed to start a small farm. I'll be starting a blog once we get settled, to keep our family abreast of developments and to inspire others as well. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to follow our hearts.


  8. Thanks, Rose and Mandi. Glad that you found our story inspiring... hope that it inspires someone else to muster up the courage needed to follow their own heart. It's so worth it!

  9. Oh, this is just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it! It's so true, what you say about having to fight for the life you know you are meant to have. I really do think that living true to your values is the key to contentment :)

  10. Goodness, never mind tears welling up, im siting at the dining table bawling over my laptop. Thank you for sharing your journey and yes, I too am following Rhonda's blog and making baby steps toward my future. There are many things in my life I cannot change but I can change my attitude. Thank you Ladies, as always.

  11. Jaime, yes that is really key, isn't it?

    Lynda, there will always be things we cannot change. Be courageous enough to change the things that you CAN. The rest will follow :)

  12. Sherri, I wrote a reply yesterday and it didn't show. I didn't have time then to write again. I wanted to say that you and I have a similar story, we both lost our way and found a new life and ourselves in the process. I'm so glad you found help and inspiration in my blog. Thank you for your wonderful words and for passing on your experiences. I know from my own experience that exposing that part of your past is not easy.

  13. I cannot believe I have come across this post today. I have been so full of angst about following my lifelong dream vs practicality. I have been living in a big town in the UK for 18 years and it still feels 'foreign' to me and not at all what is in my heart. There is plenty of good work here (even in the recession that we are experiencing) and yet I feel as you said you did in the city. I feel temporary and away from home. Since I was old enough to remember I have wanted to live in a particular village in Devon and have never found a way to do it. This year we have decided to at last move from the town but are stressing about whether we should go all out and move somewhere where there is little work and my husband will probably need to weekly commute. I have bookmarked this post to give me courage to not give in and take an unsatisfactory compromise unless I really have exhausted every other way. So thanks. Lily. xxx

  14. Yes, Rhonda, it can be a little "exposing"... but it's important to share that side of life because sometimes people (mistakenly) think that we've "got it all going on" :) Life is a LONG journey of self discovery and had it not been for that sad and lonely 10 years, I doubt we'd be so contented and appreciative now. I'm grateful for that experience (as difficult as it was) now that I have the gift of perspective.

    Lily, you hace come across this post because you NEEDED to :) I came across Rhonda's blog all those years ago for the VERY same reason. I wish you all the best in your journey XO

  15. thankyou,thankyou,thankyou for this post today. I too have been struggling with these same thoughts and feelings, and at the moment am going through one of those down times when you feel all is lost and it is time to give in, and be "normal" like everyone else. So, THANKYOU!

  16. Sherri, thank you for sharing your journey. It is always so refreshing to me that there is always more to learn, and always a chance to "bloom where you are planted" so to speak. Your post really warmed my heart and did give me hope to see that you really never know where life will take you, and you never know what you, yourself, are capable of. What a redemptive story - proof of hope. I now have a new perspective on your life - and all of the hard work (physical, emotional, mental) it took to get to where you are. May you continue to live life to the fullest, and live it abundantly :) Thank you for being so refreshingly honest and - for lack of a better word - hopeful!

  17. Sherri, a most beautiful heartfelt post...

  18. Thanks Sherri. I think it's often so easy for us to sit back and look at what others have achieved - forgetting the journey that got them there.Hope you're enjoying dinner on the verandah every night!

  19. what a wonderful story, and so glad that when you found what was missing you began to "bloom where you were planted". I have a tiny garden, and yet it gives me so much joy, and I now realize is quite the perfect size for me.

  20. Yes, Alison, how true... it's easy sometimes to think that, isn't it?

    Africanaussie, a tiny garden can bring HUGE joy :) I speak from experience, because our tiny garden in the city was quite literally my lifeline and it brought be unimaginable joy!

  21. Hi Sherri,

    I haven't commented for a while, but just had to on this post. I so appreciate your honesty and openness. I, too found Rhonda's blog a couple years ago and read and re-read the posts. I have read this post a few times already and know I will return to it. There is so much to learn from each other and we all need to feel connected. Thank you for sharing!

    Angie from MN

  22. Hey Angie - great to hear from you again! So glad you are inspired in some way by this post... I find great comfort and inspiration in so many blogs but the really open honest posts are the ones that always give me pause and challenge my thinking. I love that :)

  23. Hi there, I just stumbled upon your blog through reading Rhondas blog.My husband (of 35 years and 4 grown children)and I had a couple of very traumatic years family and health wise.So last year in a matter of 6 weeks we travelled to QLD ,made a choice ....went home to the outback ..closed my business and sold our home and after 30 years of spending and living up big and have reverted to living the simple life ...and loving it!!! I am recycling crafting growing veg gardening making soap and washing liquid ,cleaning "green" doing pilates walking kayaking and thanking God or whoever is in charge "up there" thanking them for filling us with the courage needed for change :)

  24. Lynda, great to hear your story!!!!! I am so much happier now than I ever was living a consumer focused life. I'll check your blog out shortly... Would love to read more about your changes.

  25. I'm late reading this but what a great post! Glad your managing to get your life back to the way you want it. I also can't believe there was a by law banning hanging your clothes in your yard to dry!