We All Have a Choice

I haven’t shared much lately because I have kinda been operating on the, not so much ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say…’ way, but I suppose something more like, ‘If you don’t have anything productive to say, hold it in cause nobody wants to hear that shit.’ way of living. I’ve faced so many struggles lately(as we all do!), but I have been keeping them in, which is totally not me. I place so much value on honesty and realness. I love my friends more when they truly share all of what they are thinking, no matter if it’s yucky, uncomfortable, or sad. I’m starting to realize that is one of the reasons I love being around kids so much. Parents, eh in general, they make me uncomfortable. I mean I love them, I pretty much love everything and one I meet, but Kids. They speak my language. I still have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t eventually, but usually right away, let me know exactly what they are thinking. I never have to wonder very long with a child. I love the way feelings flow so effortlessly and uncontrollably from them. I even try my very best to love the times when it violently flows from them. During a ‘tantrum’, the internal dialogue goes something like this, ‘Stay calm. This is so good. They are sharing with you, they are trusting you with these feelings. Ah, no no, the kicking is not you. Help them stop. They are really asking for help. Remember, this is asking for help. Let them rest in your love, not work for it. Do not lose it. They need a healthy example.’

I woke up to an amazing text at five this morning-my dear, sweet friend is on her way to the hospital to have her baby! I’ll go light the candle I have in honor of this occasion here in a bit…Oh, what exciting times. I can’t help but reminisce back to our one hospital birth and three home births. There is a big part of me that feels very sad I will not be birthing another child. There are a lot of things I love about pregnancy and birth, but I think the sense of purpose that came so naturally, was a big part of what I miss. Anyway, after the news, I went to send her a positive text message, but my phone died. So I curled up, squeezed my eyes shut, and sent her all the joy and positive light I could muster. I hope she knows it. So I laid there, telling myself something like, ‘You can do this, you will go back to sleep!’ but I was a goner. My thoughts started churning and my gut started aching. A friends voice popped in my head, as loud and clear as the first time I had heard her utter the words. It was an evening out to dinner with some women for my birthday in December when I was revealing to them our exciting decision to open a Nature/Farm School for kids. I was smiling the kind of smile that makes you aware of the muscles in your cheeks, I was so full of joy and hope. So excited to start this new chapter, something we have been dreaming of for so long. But I’ll never forget one of the responses I heard back, something to the effect of, ‘I love it. She wants to do something-and she just does it!’ I don’t know if I actually rolled my eyes, I think I was able to hold it in, but gosh, I definitely did on the inside. I was not offended or upset with her, but tired. Nobody JUST does anything. Nobody. The greats from every corner of the world, even they didn’t JUST do anything. Yes, people feel called, yes people have exceptional talents, and it may look on the outside like things are so easy for some people, but this does not mean that there was not opposition from the outside and this does not mean that they did not struggle inside. The great stories we tell our children about the heroes of our world, suffered and questioned just the same as we all do.

I have been really disappointed since womanhood to discover the ways in which a lot of women choose to hold themselves back. (I use to do this a lot and still work hard to keep myself from falling to those habits.) They almost never make plans to do things for themselves, but are super busy doing things for everyone else or just doing things they don’t love in general. And when they do, when I can finally pull them out, often I’ll get a text saying something like, ‘I need a mental health day. I’m staying in tonight.’ I probably won’t say it as elegantly as I had it in my head, but a lot of ‘depression’ I hear women talking about, seems to me, to be more of a lack of human connection with others. Clinical depression is different from the grief I think a lot of women experience. Grief at the reality that there is no freaking village. At least not the kind your soul dreams of and has memory of. At least not if we don’t do the work to create our version of one. Yes, of course, depression is real. I’m just a women who has an opinion here, but the word is thrown around like a catch all and it doesn’t support humans finding healthy ways to find worth and purpose. Usually depression suggests medicine-again, yes medicine is a very powerful tool when you actually have depression. Mindfulness, taking a walk in the woods, doing things that bring you joy, or starting a women’s circle is not really top on the list of reactions suggested. eh. How did I get so far down on this topic? OH! Because here we are, four months after my friend made that comment, like it was all super easy and I just radiate success wherever I turn, and my biggest (totally irrational) fear has come true-no one has signed up for the Kids Club. We are two weeks away from starting and not a single person has told us they are bringing their kid/s this Spring. We are taking a big risk with this endeavor. Johnny is only going to be working four days a week now so that we can do what we both love-teach children. We have met with a lawyer to work out forms, an accountant to understand how this will affect our taxes, Johnny went and got his Red Cross training and I am set to go next month. I have also been doing the Purdue Master Gardner Program once or twice a week, so that I may improve my knowledge and give back to the kids who come here with my gained education. (You can learn more about the program here: https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/master-gardener/ ) We have been fixing things, building things, bought tools and supplies for the kids, we have created and maintained the website, facebook page, added instagram, and been organizing and reaching out to mentors. We are opening our farm to share the syrup we have been working our butts off to make, for free, so that we may share what we have learned with others and celebrate the arrival of Spring with others. For me, being able to share the result of that hard work with others, makes the reward even sweeter. We even mailed out letters we poured our love into, to all the homeschooling folks who have ever come out to the Wild Wednesday group I ran for two and a half years, but have not heard back from anyone…all these things cost money and lots of time. Which we are happy to do. But. This is all a big risk. So, in a round-about way, I suppose I am complaining. Letting out some of those things that I’ve been keeping in, but I’m trying to use it as an opportunity to say, we all certainly struggle. No matter how easy-peasy it looks from the outside. And after you realize that, the really important thing to realize is- we all have a choice. We can sit down and watch the view, or get up and do the happy, hard, fruitful work of making our own villages. At least I have to believe it’s fruitful. Please, somebody tell me I’m right?

I don’t know what this means for us. We would love to hear some feedback from parents. Do we change the program somehow? At twenty dollars a week for four hours of outdoor education, it couldn’t get any cheaper. That’s what I charge when I teach at Heartland, inside, for an 1 1/2! Is it not clear to folks what we are doing? All along we have heard so many good things from people who love what we do and who are encouraging us along, this lack of response is just really confusing. Part of me really wants to give up and listen to all the voices of people in my head who have said discouraging things to us along the way. I think they all meant well, they were just feeling the fear, understanding the risks we are taking to open our farm this way. We could just hit the road with the kids and find people who love us wholly elsewhere, but I have to believe that is just me trying to do the same thing I am complaining about other woman doing-‘staying home’ when there is work to be done and life to live.

I have a gift to give, I have a place here in this community, and I am going to write it all over the walls of our house if I have to remind myself, so that I don’t let go of my dream to cultivate community, celebrate curiosity, and nurture wonder, with nature.

2 thoughts on “We All Have a Choice

  1. Oh I have so many thoughts! First, the ache of knowing there will be no more babies born in bathtubs for me resonates so well with my heart. I’m sure so many women understand this. And the grief of discovering their is no village?! You took something vague and turned it into words I can know understand. A lightbulb moment for me! Thank you for your words and honesty. It means a lot to know that my own experiences are shared with others. ❤ On the topic of your wonderful Kids Club (this may not be wonderful feedback) but I've hestitated to join because of the drive and the toddler who would not be able to join in. I'm not sure what we would do during those hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so grateful that you shared! It means a lot to me as well to know I am not alone in this! I am going to message you now:) Thank you so much for sharing! -Amanda Jo


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