Farm Life & What It Taught Me

July 11th through July 23rd, 2015. Step back. Breathe. Step back even further, and breathe even deeper. Here I am, out on a farm in the middle of no where. Surrounded by the gentle hum of silence, the distance chirping of birds, and the whistling of wind through the old barn doors. A place that forces me to rest, something that I so desperately need to do.

Far too often I find myself complicating things. I think that if I'm not moving, then I'm not being productive. This is all wrong, every single word of it. Don't think for a second that taking time for yourself is a waste of time, and don't you dare look down on yourself for doing it. So, that all being said, you should try to make 'doing nothing' a priority...

This is my attempt at just that.

Let me start by welcoming you to my favorite place in the world, Tuckaway Farm. The home of my amazing grandparents, Bob and Sue Winn. While they're out of town for nearly two weeks, Adam and I will be caring for and watching over the place. This is no easy feat, and certainly makes me appreciate all those years of little Chloe running around in her bathing suit, care free and oblivious to all the love and hard work that is required to keep this place going.

Every morning, there are the goats to feed, dogs (though normally just one) to run, the vegetables to harvest, the garden to be watered, and so on. As you can see, the list is endless! It's hard work to make a place be this beautiful, but oh my goodness is it worth it. So, if I am given the opportunity to give back, even just a little bit, I'll do it. I'll do whatever I can to love this place just as much as it has loved and cared for me.

Giving back. Day one...

We decided it would be best to divide up the tasks at hand. Adam, would take Bob's garden and the feeding of their two goats, Tuck and Sally. Meanwhile, you could find me in Sue's garden, where I would be dead-heading the roses, watering the potted flowers, and scheduling the mazes of drip lines, and together we will take on the pack of dogs: Kona, Philippe, and Luna.

The rest of our evening was spent washing the vegetables, planning out our stay, and eating a delicious meal of homemade potato and carrot fries, roasted beets, fresh greens for a salad, all while sitting next to a roaring fire beneath the rosy evening sky. It felt right. We were excited and ready to take on anything. Adam, had plans to make an attempt at "farm life" photography. While I decided I would do one of two things: write, or do nothing. All that aside from our chores of course.

Embracing Solitude and Silence.

Much of what makes this place beautiful is its feeling of solitude. The long and winding road from the freeway to the valley that this farm is nestled in takes about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes to prepare yourself for no cell phone service, no town, and no grocery store five minutes away; it's in the middle of no where. Which also happens to make it extremely valuable when you've set yourself up with the seemingly impossible task of doing nothing.

You can't force words. A weekor so later...

Initially I had this idea that I would write every day, documenting and taking note of every single thing I did, but as soon I began, it felt all wrong. I thought that maybe if I changed my location that that would help. It did not. The pressure to write and observe, over and over, was exhausting. I went from not thinking, to thinking to much, to realizing I was thinking too much, then back to not thinking again. Something had to change, I could feel the anxiety bubbling up inside of me. I needed to release myself from this pressure. I needed to be here, in the moment, enjoying the little things with my senses not my pen. 

With all prior expectations released, I was finally able to give into the solitude, and from that moment forward, time began to slow down. I ate my breakfast slowly, watching and listening to the birds cracking seeds on the other side of the kitchen window. I washed my dishes then went outside to read while the cool of the morning still lingered in the valley. I would take my journal just incase I felt like jotting a few things down, and sometimes I did, but more often than not I just sat there, listening, breathing, feeling myself feel alive and very present in this lush, green world that surrounded me.

So, instead of looking at my phone while taking my first sip of coffee, I focused all my attention on the steady whooshing of water through the hose while Philippe, my parents dog, twitched next to me in his sleep. I was in the thick of it, I was living my story in the moment, I was purposefully filling my lungs with more air just so I could feel that much more alive again, and again, and again...

Reflection on writing. The last couple days...

As the hours turned into days, and days into weeks, my prior feelings subsided. After no longer pressuring myself to write and document everything; I was able to get more out of my day. And finally, I wrote; I wrote what I felt was the most honest and real me, nothing forced, and nothing sugar coated.

It's about happiness. Nothing else. First couple days back home...

Our expectations are miles long and never ending. The list of things we haven't done is always so much longer than the list of the things we have done. A focus that over time, can lead to a melt down, feeling of anxiety, or even a panic attack. 

We must step away from the idea that we should always be seeking the better, more productive, smarter, more interesting, and all around more incredible and amazing self, because we already are. At the end of the day our happiness is not a crossed off list of things we've done, or awards we've received, or jobs we've had. It's a matter of how honest we've been, how we've loved and been loved, if we've been able to release the expectations, and if we're are able to live these moments freely with contentment instead of guilt. 

And no matter what, there will always be road blocks. Things that happen to you that you'd never think were possible. But they do, all the time. The expectations that I had for myself 5 years ago, are on their way out. I have to let them go, because if I don't, they would destroy me from the inside out. I would have never guessed that my Lyme would prevent me from going to school, having a normal job, or even at times, write. But it has, and thats ok. When it comes down to it, one of the most important things is whether or not you're happy, to recognize when you aren't, and to be strong enough to ask for help and do something about it when you're ready to make a change.

Discovering the root of your anxiety.

July, 28 2015... 

A trip to Tuckaway was just what I needed. For the first time in my life I had taken the time to do nothing, to clear my head, and to take a different approach towards my anxiety. Which then resulted in a whole lot of  "ah ha" and "can't believe I did that!?" moments, but it wasn't until later that I realized that what has happened, and decisions I've made, all have an impact on my well being and how I now view things today. Sure, let go. It's easy to say but so much harder to actually do.

Before you can let go you must face your fears head on. You must be able to recognize and see that they do not control you, you are in control of them. Once you do that, you are much more able to assess the situation and tackle it in the most appropriate way, but in order to get to this point, you must step outside your home, be alone, do nothing, and reflect on past moments with a kind of purpose and understanding...oh the things you will discover...

Keep on keepin' on and don't forget to share your story