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!