Wife, writer, tinkerer, grower of food. I'm happiest outside our rambling farmhouse with a basket looped on my arm, picking dinner from the garden. That's joy right there. Please follow along; I'm so glad you're here!
Hang on to your seats, it's going to be a long one.
Somehow, I've gotten off track here. Scary to admit, but true.
But I need to own it: somehow, I have managed to build a life here that takes all of my time and all of my energy and almost all of our money and keeps me from being able to enjoy what I, what we, really came here for. The slower pace, the ability to curate our whole existence right down to what kind of tiles we step out of the shower onto and what we see out our kitchen window, the self-sufficiency.
Really, it all came down to Friday. Friday, I was trying to cut a piece of quarter round to fit between the kitchen and the dining room on the left-hand side of the doorway. It's a mitered piece, and I cut it wrong three times. Then I sort of had a meltdown. I have no idea why. The home improvement is supposed to be one of the things that's kind of fun-- something I can choose to spend a few hours doing here or there, for the empowerment of looking back at a freshly installed baseboard and feeling the satisfaction. It is not supposed to be THE thing I measure my whole life against-- which is kind of what it's begun to feel like. So, I melted down. I laid in the garden with Pete on my chest and cried.
You know how we all have monsters lurking around the edges, and we all sing lullabies to said monsters to quiet them down? That day I think my voice was so hoarse from just singing singing singing those lullabies that they didn't work. The monsters flooded in.
My writing income has been edging downward steadily for a a year or so, mostly because writing for other people is almost as enjoyable to me as cutting a piece of quarter-round wrong three times. Yup. As long as I'm here being honest, I should admit that THAT is the real monster here: a year in which we bought a new kitchen, a new (partial) roof, spent about $2,500 on our rust bucket cars, and are looking at buying a new furnace (ours is nearly 40 years old) and insulation, as well. And meanwhile, instead of looking for potentially better/more fulfilling writing clients, I've been ticking off tiling, house painting, shelving, trim. Canning. Swallow.
All these expenses, and Nashville on the horizon, and my checking account looks like a limp, yellow piece of celery. Y'know, right before it grows mold and starts turning brown in the crisper? Ack! What the hell happened? I'm one fiscally smart chick! How did I not realize I was surrounding us with expensive inevitabilities as I planned out our year?
Okay. That is the explaining-my-malaise part of the story. The story of how I peeled myself off of the garden path, removed Pete from my chest, and figured out an exit strategy is better, I promise.
Really, what I need is more interaction. Validation. The biggest problem with my latest writing client is that the coming-up-with-topics is my responsibility, and it's not easy, and I get a crumb of feedback from the editor about every two weeks. "Everything looks strong, thanks for all the work you're putting in" is about par for the course. I mean, I'm an introvert, but I need more than that.
In the past year, I've started selling on eBay, and I've found that pretty enjoyable. I really like packing stuff, I like going to the post office. I absolutely love making up Christmas baskets for family gifts, and I absolutely love putting together gorgeous boxes of garden stuff to bring to my mother in law, my mom, my friend who has triplets. I made favors for my sister-in-law's bridal shower and had people asking if I sold that foot scrub as a business. You might be able to see where I'm going with this.
Where I'm going, again, with trepidation, is Etsy. Trepidation because I had an Etsy store in 2009 and didn't sell a thing. But, back then, I was sewing stuff, putting it up totally haphazardly and without any direction or "brand." And my photos were bunk.
Now, my goodness: if I can say anything it's that I have a brand. Friends and acquaintances on Facebook want to see it, they want to be a part of it, they ask if they can move in with me when I tell them what I ate for lunch. That is what I'm really here for-- not to be envied, but because those minute little things like making lunch and walking the back fence with Del and hiking these hills are special. Magic. How did I get away from talking about that here, and from really feeling that specialness when I'm out there?
I think that with an Etsy shop full of flavored vinegars, infused salts, scrubs, homemade lotions and maybe herbal teas, and a blog that's about not what I achieved or ticked off the list, but about the moments in between... about reveling in the little things... I could make this fly. Then picking up the camera and going to find something gorgeous would be part of my job, you know? It would be advertising. It's very much the model Alicia has set up, I think-- not sure if you read her blog, but she has the dreamiest fairy tale-esque life, and a crowd of readers who just want to gobble up her little girl and her flower-filled backyard and her days at the river and buy all her craft kits.
I could be like that, only more rural, and more... herbal. What do you think? Sweetfern Handmade, the business? (One thing that surely doesn't have to change is the name!)
And meanwhile, I'm going to keep writing, because I'm good at it, because I've worked hard to accrue a pretty nice-looking resume, and because winter is coming!
Okay. That is my direction. Thanks for reading. There are going to be some serious changes around here in the next couple weeks, but hopefully they will be the positive kind. Hopefully you'll stick with me. I think I might have finally found something that I can work at as hard as I can, joyfully, until it succeeds.