I’m tired today.
Who am I kidding? I feel this way all of the time.
I recently bought a Fitbit through work – you know, to see how active I REALLY am throughout the day. It opened my eyes to another dilemma (or possibly just confirmed what I knew deep-down inside) – 5.25 hours of sleep per night is NOT ENOUGH. Now the question that came to mind next was “Why? Why do I only get meager sleep on a regular basis?”
I didn’t have to look far to find the answer: I was working hard, maybe too hard, and had a lot on my plate. While part of me was proud of what I was accomplishing, the rest of me had been hit hard: My sleep was suffering (clearly). My creative juices had become stagnant – I had become so busy that I no longer even had time to sit down and write a blog post. Writing on the blog had become an outlet that my soul had come to depend on – No wonder I was feeling down in the dumps!
Worst of all, my daughter had been struggling as well. As summer was starting, the realization of starting a new school has hit my ten-year-old hard. She felt like she was losing her friends, her stability – and felt out of control. High-emotionality that had always been present had been exacerbated into acting out and (ultimately) panic attacks. This is when it hit me: This long to-do list that was constantly staring at me was needing a MAJOR overhaul.
I remember talking to my mom on the phone one day, venting about my frustrations and lack of sleep (I was currently getting up at 6 am (or 4:15 am on day job days) to milk the goats every morning and was knee-deep in county fair week). I still remember her suggestion of good intent: “Maybe it’s time to get rid of some of the animals?” I found myself answering her incredulously, “I am NOT getting rid of any of the animals! For the first time, I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing!” I’m sure my poor mom felt like I was biting her head off. Eye-opener for me: I had to do some prioritizing…
Let me take a step back: WHY do I homestead? First things first, we started on this journey with a desire to re-connect with our food. I wanted to get my hands dirty and play a role in how our food comes into our home. I want to be aware and in charge of WHERE my food comes from and what goes into it. We also have the desire to become more self-sufficient. Lastly, we wanted to teach our children where their food came from, what goes into the creation of food – and ultimately, how they can provide their own food as well.
It all sounds so beautiful and idyllic, doesn’t it. Yes, yes, often times it is. But the reality? I work full-time outside the home – and so does my husband. I work long hours, which means that in order to get my goats milked before getting ready for work, I am up at 4:15. On those days, I also don’t get home until 8:30 – and chores are still waiting for me at that time. It doesn’t end there. As part of my goal to be more self-sustainable and know where my food comes from, I do my best to make everything from scratch – food, cleaning supplies, and health/beauty products. I also try to write regularly on my blog (yay!), keep up with my readers on Facebook, and am currently working on an instructional video course on food preservation (Jam On!). And don’t forget: I have relationships to maintain as well – a husband and kids! A full-plate, yes.
You may ask why I put myself through this torture – why do I keep adding projects to an already over-full plate? I often wonder the same thing when I’ve had an especially rough morning milking Magotes (picture me wrestling a buttered pig and simultaneously trying to squeeze milk out of it) or when I can’t remember the last time that I gave the stalls a deep clean. Or when I find myself excusing myself to the restroom to finally get some time to sit down. The bottom line is, all of these aspects of my life have given me immense joy and fulfillment – and I really do feel it is what I was meant to do – but it was all burning me out.
A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling like I had truly hit my wall. I was sleep-deprived, feeling down about having no time to write (this blog is what keeps me going!), and questioning my ability to really do it all. I had taken a month-long+ hiatus from writing and had taken the time to re-establish things at home. My daughter was doing awesome, but me, on the other hand, not so much. 17 days prior, I had started incubating some quail eggs (a first for me), and one evening, they started to hatch. I found myself staying up late (NOT the best choice) just to watch them work hard to bust out of those tiny shells. I was in literal awe as I watched this new life take hold of the world.
And I felt empowered.
Empowered to make a change and take back my passion for this thing we do called homesteading.
Not long after that, we had our first big harvest of the year. It was our biggest yet – and our whole family was bursting with pride. One and half days, endless carrots, pickle beets, and 24 quarts of beans later, exhaustion and pure bliss had set in. Completely and utterly worth it. My mindset had started to re-establish itself…
So what am I doing now?
I’m still blogging, but I don’t feel the pressure to blog 5 times a week. I have allowed myself to sit and write when the passion proposes itself to me – when I have something profoundly kick-ass to share with you all. I am releasing myself from the confinement of Facebook. Yes, I will still be there, posting when I have awesomeness to share, but I will no longer feel the obligation to post 8 times a day – because let’s be honest, you can’t just “pop on Facebook” – It’s a MAJOR time suck for me! I am continuing to work on my Jam On! course – This just might be my new “baby” and I am beyond stoked to share it with you all! (One little sneak peek: I am going to be taking over a major project that I think you all will be thrilled about! Stay tuned!!!)
The balancing of it all? For sure, a work in progress. It’s hard work, but for us, it is absolutely essential.
Is it worth all of that hard work? ABSOLUTELY. I have absolutely no regrets – and thrill in the thought of continuing on this journey with my family. I will continue to constantly evaluate my priorities and whether or not my actions are reflecting those. Flexibility and forgiveness (of myself) are an absolute necessity – and I will continue to love every single moment of this life.