The antithesis of motivation is avoidance. I have been sitting here for over 1/2 hour going through unimportant emails–the Linked In connection prompts; advertisements from certain companies/organizations I’ve been in touch with in the past; coupons that I probably won’t use, etc. One of my new textbooks touches on this, that as writers, we often tend to avoid writing. I suppose it’s not so very different from any other passion or skill. How many students of piano lessons avoid practicing? Or runners/joggers become “lazy” and stay in on that chilly winter morning? The textbook says to write anyway and that writer’s block doesn’t really exist, that it’s “a fabrication, an excuse that allows you to ignore the problem you’re having with your story” (Dufresne 22). My problem this morning is the blank slate that is my mind for the moment. But, amazingly, as I finally discipline myself enough to log into Word Press and start writing, the creative juices start flowing again.
Writers also love to read. This morning, while still in avoidance mode, I pulled a favored book off of the shelf. Favored but only read once; I’m not even sure why “only once”. So I’ve decided it’s time to read it again. If for no other reason, inspiration. The book is “One Woman Farm” by Jenna Woginrich. And it was the title that caught my eye in the first place. I happened across it in a catalog from a book club I used to belong to. Ms. Woginrich could be my long-lost sister. The pages of this book echo my dream life with very few exceptions. Ms. Woginrich raises sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, geese (I have ducks but geese are on the radar…as are the sheep), honeybees, and, when this book was written, she had just started training her first Border Collie to herd. I have avowed not to get another dog until I am ready to get sheep (which will require a bigger farm with more acreage than I currently possess…) because I want to train and work with Border Collies. “Babe” is my favorite movie and every event that I attend, be it a fair or a festival, if there are sheepdog trials or demos, I am there. My fascination with this never abates. Ms. Woginrich also grows all of her own vegetables and fruits; I’m not quite there yet but every year sees a little further expansion. This year it was the perennials: blueberries, rhubarb and asparagus. And she cans/preserves what she grows. I love doing both. No mention of herbs or making tinctures, etc. nor do I recall anything about spinning and weaving, but she’s also a musician; albeit, her instrument of choice is the fiddle; mine, the guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. Suddenly, I don’t feel quite as alone in the world.
As a homesteader, there are times when I feel like the very odd duck because most people do not seem to understand why I do what I do. I’ve heard comments about why do I want life to be so hard? Sorry. I don’t consider any of this hard; it makes me happy, actually. I hear plenty of comments about my animals. Because I am a pescetarian (vegetarian + fish), none of these animals is raised for slaughter. And I would never allow that to happen to any of them. Nor could I live on a farm where animals are being slaughtered. I know that’s where meat comes from, and I respect another’s right to eat as they choose, but it won’t be happening here. And there’s no such thing as Freezer School. My chickens and ducks give me eggs; reduce the tick and slug populations, respectively; provide sweet song and gentle chatter, laughter and love; and plenty of free fertilizer for the gardens. That is enough. They do not need to give me their lives, too. The goats are dairy goats but Felicity has not been bred. It is in the future plans, but I’m still learning basic goat care skills like hoof trimming and such; milking and midwifery will come later. The milk, cheese, soap and cosmetics that the goat’s milk will eventually provide, as well as their comical antics, affection, and, yes, more fertilizer is also enough. My rabbits, well, I’ve had 3 Angoras in the past who have provided me with lots of Angora wool. I have a spinning wheel but I haven’t mastered spinning yet; that is a work in process. The 6 rabbits that currently share this homestead with me are Lionheads. And, at present, cuddly and funny little pets who also provide plenty of fertilizer–I’m getting this composting thing down pat. (chuckle) I have considered cross-breeding them with some Angoras next spring, which I think would produce a finer wool but we shall see; one step at a time. Homesteading is a work in process. Always. You are always improving, always thinking of new ways to increase your yields, to reduce your waste and your carbon footprint, to become more self-sufficient. But the one thing I hear most–especially from Mom–is “I do too much”. Interestingly, Jenna Woginrich has a section entitled just that. Her words echo my thoughts and feelings entirely:
“I have too many hobbies, too many obligations, and too many animals holding me down on this farm. Sometimes I believe this. Sometimes. If I just kept a few chickens and some raised beds with a couple or three sheep, life would be easier.
And I would be miserable.
I do what I do because it fills my mind, body and spirit. I live in this frenzy of activity not as a victim but as a celebrant…some days are overwhelming and scary, and those words “too much” haunt me like ghosts. They keep me up at night. But every morning I know what I am capable of, and what this farm stands for. What feels like fear today is inspiration tomorrow and nostalgia around the fireside in a season.
I’ll figure out the mortgage, the freelance, the bills, the manuscripts, and the workshops…It’s not what I have taken on that scares me, it’s that I’m not doing enough. Not doing enough to make this farm work, to make myself healthy, to make mistakes disappear.
You know what I think? I think wasted potential is a lot scarier than feeling overwhelmed. There is no monster greater than regret. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Yes, I do too much. It’s what I do.” (Woginrich 100-101)
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This one passage really says it all for me. It is also comforting that there is at least one other person out there with many of the same passions as I possess. And they’re making it work for them. I just have to keep putting on those big girl pants each morning, sit down, and just write. The creative genius is just another muscle that needs to constantly be strengthened and stretched. Sort of like this morning’s tackling of one of my new yoga DVD’s. I may not be getting all the way into those bends and twists yet but, in time, look out. I am unstoppable.
May God bless you & keep you!
Dufresne, John. The Lie That Tells a Truth. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York: 2003.
Woginrich, Jenna. One Woman Farm. Storey Publishing, Massachusetts: 2013.