learner

on almost every elementary report card i got marked as “talks too much with neighbors”, or however they worded it. i don’t think i was actually chatty. i think from an early part of life, i was seeking information. okay, maybe i was a little chatty – but i’ve always been a discoverer.

curiosity is a trait i respect, embody and look for in people i hire. staying curious might seem like a drain or waste of time to some, but i view it as a way to continue growing, continue improving, and to improve and innovate the spaces around you – whether that be personal or business.

being on the farm has offered numerous opportunities to learn, and i am exercising my curiosity muscle daily. from learning more about bees and how & where to keep them, to learning about how wind, and water effect our soil to learning about placement of future fruit trees and creating our own ecosystem of sustainability through planting and raising our animals.

by early next year, i will have a design certification in Permaculture, by Spring we will start our first 2 beehives (off-site because bees and cut flowers as a business don’t go together – who knew!), and our first round of flowers will be on their way in a new low tunnel that’s going up in the next couple of months.

I really like this quote by Peruvian photographer Mario Testino:

My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.

there is still a lot to learn about living on and with the land, and I’m eager to continue on this journey. and i should also say that learning comes with its share of mistakes – sometimes expensive. we try to avoid those, but without trying there is no learning.

stay curious my friends…

xo

n

fear, love, and trust

I was talking to my favorite daughter this evening about life things, and she mentioned something about trusting herself. I immediately had a very clear vision of why we are here (like here, on earth, living this life, right now). if we learn how to act from a place of love, trust ourselves first, and acknowledge our fears we will have a chance of living the most fulfilled lives. it hit me hard, like a rock that woke me from a hazy slumber. have you ever had one of those spilt moments of clarity?

i believe we get one chance at this life. one time to experience everything it has to offer us. one end to end opportunity to learn from challenges, to grow from mistakes, and to help others from a place of authentic sincerity.

in order to have those learning moments and deep experiences that impact us forever we have to trust. trust ourselves. trust that our bodies will carry us through impossible circumstances, trust that our mind is strong and our intuition is guiding us. trust that moving through something that feels scary is the right thing even though we don’t know what is waiting for us on the other side. trust and faith can be synonymous. if you truly trust in something you also have faith that you will be supported and taken care of.

my “mini-me 2.0” and I talked about love and how everything we encounter in this life was created in love and meant to experience through love. we are so caught up in self, in creating and accumulating material wealth, and in trying to be better than, that we loose sight that the basis for all things is love. that we are connected to each other and every living thing at a cellular level. like trust, love of self (as we are, not as we wish we were) is foundational to our happiness and to our ability to love others conditionally. and that’s NOT easy! but I really think that the more your try, the more you receive – so it’s not really a “master this experience before you reap the benefits”, it’s a work towards it and you’d be surprised at how much love you receive.

fear… is the third leg of my enlightenment stool. this one is playing out very loudly right now at work for me. the unknown, a period of change, and a potential lack of control throw people into weird behaviors that are based in fear. it’s kind of crazy how much time is spent analyzing and trying to explain human behaviors when most of them can be boiled down to fear. and I think where there is fear, there is a lack of trust. and when there is a lack of trust there is a lack of love.

so is it as easy as “love” more — maybe, but for sure it all starts with self. the results are always more satisfying when you’ve done the hard work yourself – so stay aware of when you feel off balance and really try to hone in on why – is it fear, love or trust??

xo

nat

the year of big shifts

we are into the first month of the new year, and it’s hard to believe it’s two thousand and eighteen. so much happened for us and for me in 2017, and i wanted to take a few minutes to make sure i record what i’m calling the year of big shifts.

we put the idea of leaving our city life into motion halfway through 2016, and fully realized it less than a year later. i am a firm believer in the power of the universe, and in positive intention. i have too many examples in my life of things falling into place after one out loud conversation about a desire or wish. i’m not saying it’s magic, or that it happens every time – but i do think we have the ability to manifest good and not so good in our lives. the phrase “be careful what you wish for” is real, especially if your intention behind your wish is in the right place and you are ready to accept the gift.

okay, on to the year in review….

big shift #1 – new job: this was one of those “fell into place” situations. i am so grateful to the team that provided me the opportunity to stay with the fruit. it was a conversation i had with a VP that started the ball rolling and here we are. working in this org has been vastly different from my previous organization. it’s weird how that can happen within a company – parts operate as their own small companies and while the foundational stuff is the same, the nuances of the day to day are very different. i’m working in a space i’ve always been passionate about and it’s a space i’m proud to still have good examples of my work in action out there in the world. 2018 will be about how to land the next big thing and have my little signature associated to it.

big shift #2 – moving onto the farm was the next big shift. we moved to austin into a brand new house as a rental. we unpacked (a tiny bit), got comfortable and made a home because we had no idea how long the search would take. we had nine months and used six. however we found wallum farm 39 days after arriving in austin.

farm life is obviously opposite of city life. we miss the conveniences of the city, but we are so grateful for the wide open spaces, the fresh air, the peaceful morning and nights and our ability to learn and create this new life.

big shift #3 – depression

where to start… there was a lot of change at the beginning of 2017 and many times where I thought we had made a mistake and we should just pack it up and go back to something that felt more familiar. the fact that work was new, our environment was completely different, the conveniences we were used to were non-existent and we knew very few people put me through a period of loss. we moved for all of the right reasons, but the adjustment was difficult. i’ve read that when you make changes that are big positive pushes forward, there is usually a period of second guessing, or difficultly that causes you to think that maybe you made a mistake. the challenging times didn’t last long, and i can recognize them now for what they were. the lows after the really big change high!

big shift #4 – adding anchors. we jumped right in with wanting animals. with creating spaces for them and serendipitously finding breeders.

animal count: we’ve added 2 labs (gracie and hudson), 10 chickens (apollonia, cocoa chanel, hei hei, phyllis diller, thelma and louise, wilma and betty, bonnie without clyde, and eartha kitt), 3 barn cats, 3 mini donkeys (captain and moe are with us and baby brother hank joins us in the spring), and brooklyn our havanese who has moved from Seattle to SF to Austin. we had some bumps with our anchors. keeping chickens didn’t start out as easily as i had thought it would be. we lost 5 in the first 6 weeks. one to a hawk and 4 to who knows what. our boy lab puppy hudson has been diagnosed with elbow, hip and knee dysplasia, and brooklyn tried to run away on thanksgiving due to the large family gathering we had. too many people, and we think she was headed to the airport for a flight back to SF.

we’ve installed version 1 and 2 of a vegetable garden, versions 1, 2, 3, and 4 of an in ground fire pit, and are working on some small landscaping ideas for around the house.

the farm is in its infancy, but we’ve made solid steps that I’m proud of in our first seven months.

big shift #5 – family

one day maybe i’ll write about this shift….

i am so grateful for all the opportunities and hurdles in 2017, and cheers to 2018!

xoxo – n

three months…

today marks three months on the farm, and eight and a half in Texas.

the journey has been every emotion imaginable, and I want to try to capture how i'm feeling in this moment because I know that months from now i will feel differently. hopefully better, hopefully more settled, and more balanced.

the anxiety is real. it's reached a level where I have to acknowledge it.

the expectation i've place on myself for the garden, the beginning of flower growing, on sustainable living (chickens, bees, veggies) is a lot. the projects that have been started and not finished due to contractors leaving us high and dry, or small business people getting paid for most of the work and leaving the last 10% has taken a huge toll on me. i just want work completed. i want to be able to plan, to budget, to execute and to celebrate the finished work.
the time that has been spent to start, stop and pick up a project again has been frustrating and a learning experience for both M & I. to have to manage a professional business owner to the levels we've had to has made me crazy and caused some friction in our home.
i know we have time. we have a lifetime to be here on this land or however long we have. and i know what we do with it will change. this is iteration one, the initial plan, the first go round. we will learn the seasons, the things that work and things that don't. but i'm eager and excited and i've seen it all in my head for over a year. i have to be patient and live in the moment, remind myself to not take on too much (which at least once a week it feels like we have).
the anxiety builds.

as an introvert it's hard for me to develop new relationships. the move to SF came with people we already knew. people M knew from living in the Bay area. the move here to Austin was a blank slate for both of us. i have some work colleagues i knew, but nothing deeper than work relationships. i've always been satisfied with a handful of good friends, and as i get older i think i'm getting more selective. i'm in a brand new environment, around people who haven't ever been on a plane, haven't eaten or tried the kinds of food/wine we love, people who dress, shop and have interests that are a direct opposite of me. i feel alone, isolated and like finding "my people" may be harder that i envisioned. i am drained by going out, and socializing in large groups of strangers terrifies me. but i'm holding on to hope that there are women and couples not too far away that we will connect with. people closer to our age, our career length and learned life lessons. i have nothing against the people we've met so far – the twenty something's who are still finding their way, and who look at us like what we've achieved just happened over night. nothing against them, but also not feeling very much in common with them.

anxiety is fear. i recognize that. i see my fear and meet it with deep breathes and patience, and tears and sleepless nights. i'm trying to embrace this moment for what it is, because maybe it is what im supposed to be experiencing.

time. give myself time. let things unfold as they are supposed to. and find a way to accomplish things in a manageable manner.
time. take my time. organize the wants vs the needs. and give it time.

these are growing pains…..

xo
n

the first thirty days….

the first thirty days….

I wanted to make sure I captured the blur of events that happened during the first thirty days in the farmhouse.  i’m sure i’m missing some things, but these are the most memorable. 

in no specific order:

  • we unpacked and organized close to 90% of our boxes – including stuff we’ve had in storage for the last 6 years. 
  • we had concrete backsplashes poured to match the counters. and successful got one was installed. the larger one has to be remade. (ouch)
  • we learned that a dehumidifier would save our air conditioning bill and keep us a lot more comfortable during the humid pre rain days. (it works!!)
  • we bought a zero turn lawn mower and a regular push mower – yes there is that much grass. 
  • we designed and finished a 60ft x 40ft fenced in garden space with 10 raised garden beds made from lawn timbers. 
  • we had 2 giant piles of fill and organic planting soil delivered for the above veggie boxes. (we may have too much dirt – so flowers may be coming sooner than i thought)
  • we put together rocking chairs, a bench, a love seat, two chairs and a table, a dining table and six chairs for our outdoor front and back patios. 
  • we had a total of 8 overnight guests. my dad came for 10 days! it was awesome to have him here. (i think my mom would agree)
  • we bought a circular saw that i used to cut logs!
  • we made it through 30 days over 80+, with a lot of them being over 90 degrees. (even in the rain, and it’s not summer yet!)
  • brooklyn made friends with the horses. 
  • we all learned how to feed the cows what their owner calls “cow crack”. the cows now come straight to the fences to see if we have treats. 
  • we goat fenced the playpen, and in a few months we’ll add nygierian pygmy goats!
  • we hearded the cows out of the playpen twice – gotta fix the fence where they keep getting in before the goats come. 
  • we had a run in with a local politician over misplaced recycling – which we had nothing to do with, but because he found our info on some of the boxes he called and accused us of illegal dumping.  M went NY on him for the false accusation. (eek)
  • we took a trip to see The Alamo!
  • we got a pool cover made to keep the pool clean. 
  • we built a fire pit and enjoyed it 3 times before it flooded. 
  • we took the jeep mudding 
  • cooked a jackrabbit shot on the property 
  • we lived through our first tornado. it went right over the house, broke two trees in half and took limbs off of 8 others. we survived, the house survived, and our little country street made the local news. what didn’t survive we discovered a week later when the standing water from what we thought was poor drainage started flowing over the driveway. our main water line to the house had been cracked because the tree roots wrapped around it were pulled in the 85mph winds. 
  • and, we bought a chainsaw 

it’s been a crazy 30 days, full of fun, learning, anxiety, and love. we look forward to the upcoming year being a little less stressful, but equally full of things learned and great accomplishments!

wallum farm – #firstthirtydays

xo – n

we’ve moved (again)!

moving has to be one of the most unsettling, stressful, and chaotic times in your life.  the good part about moving is the purge that happens every time. sometimes you purge because you’re forced to touch what you own and you realize how much stuff you don’t really need, and sometimes you purge because you’re just tired of packing stuff!   hopefully this will be the last move for a very long time!

the mornings in the new house have been my favorite. it’s quiet, the sunrises are incredible and the house feels calm. these first couple of days have been surreal – hard to believe that we really live here, and aren’t just on one of our fun vacations. 

while there is still a lot to unpack and organize, we are taking our time. not having a garage means that storing our outdoor stuff becomes more strategic. there are car ports, but they are open to all the friendly barn swallows and their babies, which means bird poop galore. creative (and covered) storage is on the list. 

with the kitchen remodel complete – that’s where I focused first and I have to say, I can’t wait for family and friends to join us in our kitchen! ​

so grateful for everything that has brought us to today….

xo

the remodel continues…

we are halfway (I think). 

first let me say that watching HGTV is a terrible representation of what happens when you take on a remodel. things don’t go as smoothly as they show in their 60 minute episodes. things don’t stay on budget, and dealing with your contractor isn’t always smooth and easy. 

all of that to say that we are progressing, we are watching the budget closely and we are excited to be nearing completion so that we can move in. 

pictures below show:

  • the repainted interior – we are light and bright. it’s so clean and refreshing!
  • new carpet (in all bedrooms).
  • a few new light fixtures.
  • repainted the kitchen cabinets in two tones.
  • the new custom island – its huge, and we can’t wait to see our family and friends gathered around it. 
  • the beam feature we added to add some interest to our very high ceilings. 

the next update will include – the finished island with the installed  soapstone, and reclaimed barn wood. we will have the thick plank open shelves over the range hung, and newconcrete counters.

we’re almost there! 

​​xo – nat