Here I am, living on 100 acres and real jazzed about it. I’m jazzed at night looking back at the day, and I’m really jazzed when I wake up! I remember one day years ago in my corporate life. I was in a meeting discussing TPS report cover designs and I found myself daydreaming.
I can’t even recall what I was dreaming about, but it was pleasantly distracting. Then the person addressing the meeting woke me up when he said that when he got up in the morning he was “jazzed” about life and ready for the ups and downs of the day. I could see his genuine excitement and enthusiasm. But where in the world did he get it?
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Comparing that guy’s feelings to my sense of life, I realized I was just going through the motions.
I had a great job and a great family….but something was missing. Maybe a lot was missing. I didn’t even like lots of things about my life–and I definitely could care less about TPS cover designs.
Why was I dying on the inside, even when things were going well on the outside?
I knew I needed to wake up and understand what was missing in my life. Maybe then I could rediscover the excitement and passion of life that I’d once had.
Thus started my journey to discover what was really going on with me. Along the way, I took a trip with my elderly father back to his home roots on a large farm in Nebraska. He left the farm when he finished high school, but I suspect he really never really left in his heart.
As we walked around the eight square miles that was the original family homestead, I saw firsthand what a farm was, or more accurately, what LAND was. I found myself getting pretty jazzed up internally. It wasn’t living in Nebraska that was the exciting part; it was seeing with my own eyes what was involved in a new kind of life–one that was connected to the land. It was the rural lifestyle that really got me going.
I remembered my happiness in years past when I’d spent my weekends mending fences and doing other routine chores on our 5-acre gentleman’s farm. My wife, Marie, had been in her element raising kids, baking bread, growing food–even chasing escapee cows back into our pastures.
Our kids were constantly outdoors, happily playing on their rope swing or munching veggies in the garden. Over the years circumstances had taken us back to suburban neighborhoods, but now my excitement was growing as I started thinking about living on acreage again. Marie and I agreed—we were both happiest when living the rural lifestyle.
As we talked about making a change, I started seeing some possibilities for moving back to rural life. But then came the doubt. The realist in me challenged my thoughts. Could I really make such a major change…or any change at all? How could I really leave my current corporate life? I couldn’t afford it. There were too many obstacles.
A part of me said I should just keep doing what I was doing. But the other part was starting to soar…becoming excited…getting jazzed about the possibilities of a change.
You see it too, don’t you? The internal battle. Reality vs. the dream.
For me and my family, change was required, and it involved moving to 100 acres and living a whole new way of life. I just couldn’t pretend that I liked my life and satisfy my longings by playing Farmville on Facebook.
I needed the real thing. Not a picture or game of the real thing. For others it might mean something else, but they will have to write their own stories about their journeys.
Here is my paraphrased version of the words of Jesus in John 10:10:
“I came so you can have real life, more and better life than you ever dreamed possible.”
We’re glad to be sharing this journey with you at Rural Living Today as we all move toward a life that will really get us jazzed.
A Plan Without Action Is Just a Wish
I’m going to get right into it today. If you want to make the move to a rural lifestyle, you must make a plan and then act on it! I know a lot of people who would love the rural lifestyle. They love the pace, how all the work has a purpose, the peace & safety of it.
But not many of those people take it from that wish to actually making a plan and acting upon it. That’s really the crux of the issue. Sometimes it can take years to get to your goal. It really can! But it truly is worthwhile. Back in 2006 when I first found our property, I was wishing for a rural lifestyle but didn’t see any concrete way of getting there.
I am blessed in that as an extended family we were able to combine resources and get the land, but still – what then? It can seem insurmountable sometimes. I mean, it’s nice to dream of starry skies and wide open spaces, but what about jobs? Schools? Let’s be practical about it!
At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, had already had to quit my job due to nausea and my husband had just been laid off. We didn’t even have gas money for him to go look for a job! Not a whole lot of prospects there for making a huge move, right? Right!
But it didn’t have to stay that way. We knew what we wanted, so we sat down together and made a plan of how we would get there. It involved a lot of changes in our life, and we went through some difficult times. But during those difficult times, my husband went back to school to get a degree so he could earn more.
I went back to work after our second daughter in order to support him so he could attend full-time. I won’t lie – it was difficult, and if I thought my life would continue perpetually like that, I would have seriously become depressed. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel! I knew that a little hard work and perseverance in a situation that was not ideal would pay off, and it has.
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My husband was very blessed to get a job only months after graduation, and earning enough for me to stop working and so we could move forward with our plan. Granted, we had to relocate to the greater Seattle area, but we found a nice little rental within an hour’s commute that allows us to live the rural lifestyle while he works to establish himself in his field.
It may still take a few years until we are able to live on the property and build our home full-time, but it will be worth it. In the meantime, I do a little internet marketing on the side, have a small company that sells travel mugs, and I do everything I possibly can to save money, even to the extent of growing lots of vegetables, making homemade bread, tortillas, and cheese for our family.
I guess my point is this – if you really, truly want to live in the country, I would encourage you to sit down, with your spouse if you have one, and formulate a long-term plan for achieving this goal. Formulate the plan, and then act on it! Consider this – on your current “track,” where will you be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? What does your long-term future look like if you continue living the way you are now?
And then think for a moment – what if you take the next couple years – as many as necessary – and make some concrete changes in your life that will get you where you want to be. Because if you did this, then you can safely say it will eventually get you to your goal… and that’s not going to happen unless you take action.
What it comes down to is this – If you take action, you will achieve your goal in time. If you don’t take action, you will stay in the exact situation you are now! What if you downsized your home or car or some other major expense, and just socked the money away? What if you went back to school for a higher paying career? What if you started that internet marketing business you always wanted to? Have you ever tried to sell stock photography? It is possible! Ask your boss about the possibilities of telecommuting – you never know what the answer will be.
As much as it may seem like a mountain you cannot climb sometimes, nothing is impossible. Some things just take a little bit more time – but the time is well spent and it will be worthwhile in the end. Just remember – self defeat is your worst enemy. I wasted a lot of time in my life by just assuming things were impossible. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
When Less Is More
Many years ago our young family took a trip to Disneyland. Originally we planned to fly, but then the idea of a road trip became appealing. We had the free use of a motor home that would sleep our family comfortably, so we decided to drive.
We packed up the motor home with basic cooking equipment and groceries, bedding and enough clothes for the trip. Each of us brought along some things for entertainment, from books to cassette tapes (remember those?) to toys and games. I even stashed my sewing machine in the shower so I could finish up some clothes I’d been making for the kids. As we drove away from home, I looked back at our two-story house. I thought to myself, we have everything we need right here in this little motor home. Why in the world do we have such a big house and so much stuff?
Of course, when we returned from our vacation we went right on living in our big house full of stuff. But that kind of thing has repeated itself over and over in our life. We moved overseas with very little and accumulated again. Five years later we returned to the U.S. with very little and…yep, we accumulated a houseful of things again.
A couple of years ago Jim and I realized that we spent 80% of our time at home in just a few rooms. The other space was used just occasionally. We slept in our bedroom and used our master bathroom. We cooked in the kitchen and ate in the adjoining dining area.
Though we sat in the living room sometimes, we really lived in the family room. I admit we did have an “everything room” that stored a lot of stuff but was really not used much.
That’s when we started re-evaluating our plans to build a large house on our acreage. Not only do we not need the space most of the time, but maintaining a large home is not very high on our list of favorite things to do.
So we decided to build a small home within our utility barn and live in it for a while, building the larger house later. Our new home takes up one long side of the barn. It’s cute and cozy and just right for the two of us. We’ve lived in it only a few months, but it looks promising for a permanent situation.
Less of a house to clean and maintain gives us more time for our other projects. We never have to search more than a minute to find each other in the house. And no matter what room we’re in, everything else seems to be just steps away.
Downsizing so drastically forced us to weed through our belongings. We decided we’d keep things that were meaningful, useful, or otherwise important. Now when we look around our little home, every piece of furniture, every picture on the wall, and every decorative item has a connection to our family or our experiences.
Would we like a bigger house? Sometimes. We can’t squeeze big groups or crowds in our living room. We don’t have an extra bedroom for family and friends to sleep in. The kitchen table is the only place to lay out a big project. Once in a while there’s even a line for the single bathroom.
But so far we’ve tweaked things to be pretty comfortable. We have plenty of storage space in the adjoining barn for off-season clothes and things we need to access occasionally. We plan to finish out an office/guest room in there too. We could build an outdoor studio cabin. For six months of the year we can have oodles of people sitting in our outdoor living room, dining at our patio tables, and sleeping in trailers and tents. Stay tuned—we may just never build that larger house.