Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Encourage Others by Grabbing Hold of Your Dreams

Spring Greetings!

2012 has been a year of change for us at Red Gate Farm.  We have started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) business.  It's been so much fun but tons of hard work.  I go to bed each night totally exhausted, but would not trade it for anything!

This transition for me has been a scary one.  I spent most of 2011 working with a mentor weekly and then with a career coach.  Hoping that one of them would be able to magically come up with the perfect career for me.  The longer I spent in these coaching/mentoring sessions, the more I began to allow Red Gate Gal to emerge.  I remember my career coach saying that it's like I was two different people.  This was all too comical for me as I've always joked that I felt like Sally Fields in Sybil.  A light bulb went off for me during this session.  I was tired of trying to be both, so I chose to embrace my authentic self the farm girl vs. this corporate manager I'd been for 18 years. 

I've never really been a risk taker, so making the decision to leave my corporate job to become a farmer was very out of character for me.  I've joked that I've traded my business suits for cowboy boots!  As the big 40 approaches,  I'm told that around this age is when many women begin searching for something different.  Maybe we are no longer able to ignore our authentic voice that becomes louder as we age.

I was introduced to a book in my early twenties called Simple Abundance.  In this book Sarah VanBreathnach talks about nurturing your authentic self to be experience simplicity.  Although I fell in love with the book, I could not fully appreciate it's meaning until later in my life. 

Too many times we attempt to meet the approval of others.  We strive to maintain an image that we feel others expect of us.  We try to be everything to everyone and we put a muzzle on that inner voice that is growling and barking to be heard.  Over time, trying to silence that voice becomes tiring.  Dreams from our youth were placed on a shelf a long time ago.  We come upon those dreams from time to time like an old picture.  We dust them off, think about what could have been only to put them back up again.  Other times, our dreams change as we grow and mature.  We second guess ourselves and question if we deserve to be selfish to pursue our desires.  The risk is harder to take as we become older and wiser (??).

I've learned alot during this transition.  I have been amazed at the number of people who seem to be encouraged by this new venture we've taken.  I've also been surprised at the number of people who have dreams that were never realized and have found encouragement through our decision.  Just this past week while attending a women's networking group, one of the members told me that she loved watching the transition I was making.  She made the statement that I am absolutely "glowing" now.  This is not the first time I've heard this as I've been embracing my authentic voice.  I see the same person in the mirror, but others are seeing something different.

I guess I want to leave with you today, that it's never too late.  In the last few years, I've tried lots of new things.  I've tackled fears of riding horses and herding cattle (several childhood traumas...LOL).  I've been fly fishing and finally took cake decorating lessons.  I've gone back to college, AGAIN...but I'll keep plugging away at my degree.  We have just graduated from the Master Gardener course, something I've wanted to do for years.  I'm getting pretty good at driving our tractor and wrestling goats.  I've confronted some childhood hurts and accepted that I'm not perfect.  I've learned to really love who I see in the mirror.  And most of all...I have a wonderful husband.  He has been so supportive during this time.  He's allowed me to change and to find the simplicity and authenticity I've searched for. 

It's never too late.  Go on a treasure hunt and pull down one of your dreams off that dusty shelf.  But...I warn may never be the same.  "Success is a journey, not a destination"-Arthur Ashe

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Passing Along and Passing on

It's been quite some time since I've felt inspired to write.  I've mostly invested my time in starting our Community Supported Agriculture business and transitioning out of my corporate life.  But today as I sat at a friend's funeral, I was reminded of the importance of passing along a part of ourselves to those around us.

For many years I felt that I was living a life that was not authentic.  I did not know how to express this person inside of me and still try and meet the expectations of others.  I spent a great deal of time trying to appear one way on the outside, all the while suffocating this other person on the inside.

Our friend Jeanine passed away just a few days ago.  In the hours since we've left the graveside, I've recalled snippets of conversations we had together over the years.  She helped me realize my dream of learning to cake decorate.  We spent 1 night per week in her kitchen for almost 6 months.  I remember how encouraging she was when I booked my first wedding cake.  I must have called her a zillion times the morning I delivered the cake wanting to make sure I had done everything just right.  She was patient with each call.  I also remember how tickled she was when she found out I had only put 1/2 the amount of Crisco the recipe called for.  I had cramps in my hands because the icing was not smooth enough and it was extremely thick to push through the decorating bag.  We laughed because it took us 3 months to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Jeanine also taught my husband and I how to can vegetables from the garden.  Canning is now such a passion of mine.  She passed along her knowledge of canning, recipe books and her pressure cooker to us.  But not until we took a class from her on how to use the pressure cooker.  She tried to pass along her knowledge of embroidery to me.  I never had the patience to stick with that skill.  I still have the rose pattern pillow case with 1/2 embroidered roses in my chest of drawers.  It patiently waits in the dark drawer for me to pick it up again.

Jeanine's words of wisdom regarding farm animals was proven time and time again to me.  She warned to never name calves and only name the cows.  I understood why after we sold our first round of calves at the sale barn.  It's hard to see a calf named "Blackie" who has eaten out of your hand for months be sold at the sale barn.  Only to end up on someone's dinner plate.  She despised chickens and thought I was crazy when I excitedly announced we had purchased 30 from the 4-H sale.  And yet again, her words ring in my ear as I routinely clean chicken poop from our front porch.

We exchanged books and magazines.  We picked peaches together and shared recipes.  She told me one time that I was born in the wrong era.  Something I had always known.  Many times I had pictured myself being perfectly content living like Laura Ingalls-Wilder in Walnut Grove.   Her insight and nurturing of the person I'd been smothering for years is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me.  It gave me the courage to be true to myself.

She was not the sweet little old lady you may be imaging from my description above.  She was a strong, direct, to the point woman who maintained a private life.  She had friends, but chose them carefully.  She was not afraid to tell you how she felt about politics or religion.  You may not agree or want to hear it, but she told you anyway.  The last few years were mentally and physically draining for Jeanine.  Visits were not as pleasant, but she had good reason.  In the end, I'm thankful I had the private moments with her.  There were good and not so good memories.  The time was precious nonetheless.

In a day and age where we pass along information by a text or via facebook, I'm blessed to have had a friendship the OLD SCHOOL way...intimate and personal.  I am fortunate that Jeanine passed along her knowledge of farming, canning, gardening and cooking to me.  I spent more time in the kitchen with Jeanine than I ever did with my own mother or grandmothers.  I don't think she nor I really knew how those teaching moments would impact my life.

My mother recently told me that my twelve year old niece told her she wanted me to teach her to decorate cakes when she visits our farm in April.  I now have an opportunity to pass down my knowledge to Anna.  We will share moments in the kitchen just as Jeanine and I did many times.

So my question to you is...What will you pass along?  Will you take some time this next year to break away from your smart phone or busy schedule to pass along a piece of yourself to someone else.  Legacies can be left in the smallest of actions.  Don't miss an opportunity to leave yours today.