What would you change?

“What things would you like to change in your life and why?”

All of them.  Not because I don’t like my current life, but because I like change.  For now, at least.

I have yet to find a place I’m so attached to that I don’t want to move.  I have yet to find work I love so much that I would never leave.  Don’t get me wrong – I like where I’m living currently, and like what I do for work, but I’m a person who wants to experience lots of “what’s out there,” so if another opportunity comes my way, I listen to my heart and go with what it tells me.

I have this image in my head of where I’ll eventually be.  It’s a small cottage with a garden.  No lawn.  Just garden.  There’s a fence that comes up to my waist, with a gate.  I’m in the coutryside, but only a short walk to the small town of which I am an active member.  Seems to be like what I imagine the English countryside to look like, but it’s not the English countryside.  Because this place has sun most of the time.  When you walk in, you say to me, “Oh – this is so you!”  It’s cozy yet uncluttered.  It’s just the right amount of space for me.  I introduce you to the people in town.  I stop by the library to return my books.  Get chai from the local coffee shop.  Peruse the yarn shop.  I show you all the places I volunteer.  I pick up bread from the bakery, groceries from the only place in town that sells them.  I grow my own produce but complement it with the stuff I buy from the farmer that sells in town.  I can tomato sauce and all sorts of other stuff to get me through the short, mild winter.   I don’t own a car.  I don’t need one.  I can walk to all I need.  And if I do need to get somewhere farther away, my neighbors are more than happy to help get me to public transit.

If you know of this place, let me know:)  In the meantime, I’ll keep exploring until I find it:)

The Voice in My Head

My mother has this thing about advice: she doesn’t give it.  She once told me it was because she never wanted to tell us what to do only to have it not work and her words come back to haunt her.   This whole mom-not-giving-advice thing has worked out pretty well so far.  But sometimes I just want an answer.  At those times, I just listen to the voice in my head.

Lucky for me, I don’t have lots of voices in my head – just one.  And it’s not so much that I “hear” it.  It’s the conversation you have in your head.  You know what I mean.  Like when you see that Freighoffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are on sale for $2 and you’re thinking you shouldn’t get them because you’ll finish the whole box in two days – or maybe in one night.  But then the voice says, “Eh – it’s been a tough week – you deserve them.”  Or it says, “It’s been a good week – you deserve them.”  That’s the voice.  Lucky for me, it doesn’t tell me “Don’t get them – they’re full of preservatives and they’ll make you fat.”  You know why it doesn’t tell me that?  Because this voice knows me.  And it knows that I don’t own a scale and think it’s perfectly fine to eat a box of cookies in one night once in a while.

In the past, I’d listen to the voice only sporadically – as a last resort when I was sick of trying to figure out what to do, when I had fretted over a decision entirely too long for my liking.  Now I listen much more often.  Some call it intuition.  Their gut feeling.  Their heart.  God.  Whatever – doesn’t matter.  We’ve all got it.  And it’s amazing what happens when you start to listen to it.


A Home for My Piano

“I’ve been thinking of moving to someplace cheaper,” my friend said.

“Well, my apartment will be available on July 15,” I told her.  She pondered this for a second, then asked the details.  Where was it?  How long would it take to get to the college from there?  How much was the rent?  The answers satisfied her and we decided she’d come see it that afternoon.

It wasn’t my job to find a new tenant for my apartment.  I’d decided to give it up completely and had told my landlord so.  But hey – if I could help him out by referring a reliable person to him, why not?

She liked the place.  Sitting on my couch she asked, “How’s the management company?”

“Management company!” I laughed.  “The guy who owns the deli downstairs is your landlord.  He’s a very good friend of the family.  You can just turn in your rent check at the deli.”  That sealed it.  Not having to deal with a management company?  She was in.  I gave her the landlord’s number so she could work out the details.

The next day she texted me to say the deal was sealed.  Half-jokingly I asked, “Are you interested in house-sitting a piano for a year?”

“Seriously?  That would be awesome!” she responded.  Turns out she used to play and would love to get back into it. And just like that my worries over what to do with my piano are gone.  It’s staying right where it is.  And it will probably get more use in the coming year than it did in the last five.

A Dream Pursued and Realized

“Well, when you put your dreams out there, it’s funny how everything starts falling into place,” I said.  “Have you ever noticed that?” I asked her.

From the other side of the lettuce bed, she looked at me and said, “No, actually.  This job is the first time I’ve ever pursued a dream.”

“Oh!” I said.  I felt blessed to be witnessing someone realizing a dream for the first time. I’d met her only eight months before, and this was the first time I’d seen her since that day.

A month before that, a fellow math tutor called me and said, “Are you the Rebecca that was in the Sisters Hill Farm newsletter?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I spent a week there volunteering.”

“I thought it sounded like you,”  she said.  She explained that she read the farm newsletter on-line.  The newsletter did not give last names, so she couldn’t be sure just by reading it that the Rebecca they talked about in one issue was me.

“What’s your connection to the farm?” I asked her.

“My daughter is looking into apprenticing there – can you tell me a little about the place?”

“Of course – I’d love to!” I said.  I went on to tell her all the wonderful things about life at Sisters Hill from the perspective of someone who’d spent a week there and enjoyed it so much she continued to go back once a week until the end of the season.

A couple weeks later, I met my co-worker’s daughter one day while volunteering at the farm.  A few weeks later her mother informed me she got the position.  I was thrilled for her.  And now here she was, two-and-a-half months into her season at the farm – in her dream job.  Her first dream: pursued and realized.  Kudos to her:)

Letting Go

“What’s the sob sorry you keep telling over and over – to yourself, to your friends.  You know, the one about why your life isn’t working out the way you want it….”  I don’t remember his exact words, but everyone in the room knew what he meant.  We all had that story – running on repeat in our heads.  Mine was about a failed relationship.  Except I had this idea that maybe it could be redeemed. And that’s the story I told again and again.  I was in my early 20’s.  All my friends knew the story.

“Write down that story – pour it all out.  Like you were telling it to a friend,” he said.  We wrote.  Silently.  For pages and pages.  We were given all the time we needed to get the whole thing down.  When you finished, you took your story and left the room.  Eventually everyone was out of the room.  Then we were invited back in.

And this was where the magic happened.  We were given the opportunity to read what we wrote to someone who’s only response was to listen actively, maybe with a nod of the head.  We read our story over and over and over again.  The listeners rotated, and I kept reading my story.  Until eventually I started skipping parts.  Because they didn’t matter anymore.  Then, I skipped larger parts.  Other people left the room – I was unsure why at first.  I kept reading.  Then, I realized.  I was done.  I didn’t feel I had to read the story anymore.  I couldn’t quite explain why, but I got up and left.  And just like that, I got over my story.

That was more than ten years ago.  I don’t recall the details of that story, but what sticks with me is how well it worked.  Last week, I sat in my bed and wrote another one of those stories.  Yes, about another relationship.  Then I read it out loud to myself over and over and over.  But I didn’t feel the same effect.  I thought it was because there was no one there to listen.

But this morning, I realized it DID work.  I hadn’t thought about him since I wrote it.  People had asked about him, and there wasn’t anything left to say.  I went back this morning and I read what I wrote, and it had no hold on me anymore.

This morning I wrote and read another one.  I have two more in my head that will go through the process in the coming weeks.  I spent the last six months getting rid of my physical “stuff” in order to live on the road for a year.  Now I’m working on all the other “stuff.”  And it’s working:)

Decisions, decisions

How is it that one chooses fourteen classes out of one hundred forty?  This isn’t like college where a lot of the classes are “required” and in some area that is of no interest to you.  No, the John C. Campbell Folk School is a place where nearly every class is of interest to me.  Who knew such a place existed?

So how to choose?  Well, some Student Hosts pick a theme.  Maybe they have an interest in blacksmithing or jewelry making, so they take mostly those kinds of courses.  (And indeed, there are classes in both of those subjects nearly every week.)  I, however, can’t imagine only focusing on one craft during my time at JCCFS (surprise, surprise).  Instead, I have just a couple rules that I’ve come up with to guide my decisions.  And since I’m not a big follower of rules, the first rule is that any rule can be broken at any time.

1 – Take classes that don’t have any physical end product that I have to lug on to my next destination. The garden shed class fits this quite well – we’ll be building a garden shed for JCCFS.  So all I take with me after the course are the things I’ve learned:)

2 – Try something new and/or something I’ve always wanted to learn.  Thus, my list includes learning to play the mountain dulcimer and learning to spin yarn.

3 – If a class has me making things I’ll have to take home with me, take it only if what I make can be easily given away.  Thus a class on making wooden toys and blacksmithing.

4 – Take only classes that are of interest to me.  Thus, quilting will never be on my list.  Nor dying fabrics.  Believe it or not, there are actually some things in this world that I don’t have an interest in doing.

How wonderful is a life where my biggest decision each week will be which class to take the next?