Saturday, January 1, 2011

a year in retrospect

The new year brings with it planning and change: people vowing to ditch their bad habits and adopt new routines to better themselves. I've got big plans, but I decided I'll use it for a little reflection too...

As 2011 begins and I really look around to see where we are and what we have, I am both astonished and proud of myself and my family. We are a resilient bunch, to be sure. I can hardly believe that 7 years ago around this time we'd just about lost everything~ and I'd about given up. My husband needed a surgery it seemed no one would perform and was completely unable to work. We were a young family with a very small child, just starting out, and had to sell our home and most of what we owned and move clear across the country. I just couldn't keep it all going on my retail income, though over the years I've certainly tried. For those last seven years, my entire life was ruled by fear and uncertainty over where we would sleep and how we would eat. But we never gave up~ all we had was each other and our dreams, so we just kept on going, even when we weren't sure where we were headed. We've had to be both humble and strong, persistent and patient.

But in 2010 that dream came true. We finally moved out of our apartment and bought a house after 5 years of struggling and saving (mostly funded from quitting smoking), thanks to a fantastic USDA loan program (and a very patient real estate agent and loan officer). With the help of an incredible extended family, we were able to fix what needed fixing and acquire all that we needed to get settled and ready and move it all here along with a loyal and loving dog and two forgiving cats we've dragged all across this country. With some faith and patience, we got our tax credit check, paid off nearly all our debt and promptly set to work, clearing out overgrown and dead shrubbery, starting a compost pile, tearing astroturf off of the back porch and clearing out the storage shed. We've already grown some food on that same porch in containers, had a few backyard barbecues, and had family visit for a week from Arizona and Michigan. We've mowed the huge lawn (repeatedly) and plowed lots of snow with our little green tractor and got our daughter all excited about John Deere and a new school. We've accomplished a lot here at the homestead over the last 7 months. All that work makes the resting and planning of winter a welcome break, but the warm weather we've had the last few days has me longing for spring and ready to start all over again.

I never would have imagined that we'd get such a second chance, and am so very grateful to be where we are, starting this new year with steady jobs, our health, great family and friends, and a home with land where we can grow food to provide for ourselves and those that have helped us. We can finally help them when times get lean. We've redefined what success means for us~ it's about people, not money or things. We're growing a community now to help sustain us and we're trying harder to be part of sustaining the larger world around us. It's miraculous really, this give and take. We certainly wouldn't have survived without the kindness of others and a willingness to fail and to learn. Although I don't ever want to experience all that heartbreak again, our lives are certainly richer for it~ we have been on the receiving end of and seen first hand real examples of grace. I'm so glad to be hear and be part of this.
We've got big plans for this year, from the addition of a coop of chickens to our very first large garden. We've spent this time indoors dreaming of berry bushes, herbs and vegetables and picking paint colors so we are ready to go when the time is right. (And I am trying to do more meditating and yoga so I am mentally ready too.)

The year ahead is going to be all about growing: healthy food, herbs and flowers, but also my freelance business, growing our relationships with our community through volunteer work, and personal growth. I'm looking forward to helping others, letting go of fear and being myself. Hopefully we'll see bumper crops this year of both food and friends.

Thanks to everyone who has made time for us and our dreams. It'd be awesome if you'd keep growing right along with us. Wishing you and your families a safe and happy 2011!

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