A Little Fun Along the Way

A lot of my recent posts have been about the logistics and the emotions of leaving my job. While those things are important, I want to let you know that we’re not just working our butts off. The whole point of leaving was to spend our time in pursuit of something besides just money. And so, last weekend, one day after quitting my job, we ran the Amazing Race (err…the Bledsoe Creek State Park Amazing Race, that is). And when I say ran, I mean it. Let’s be clear, I am not a runner, nor did I eat a big enough breakfast to sustain a 3-mile jaunt through the woods, but somehow, we managed to come in third out of the nine teams in the race.

The next day, we worked on our apartment garden. Instead of growing our sprouts in soil, we decided to do the wash, rinse, repeat method and set up two stations on the counter. (Spoiler alert: we harvested a nice assortment of microgreen sprouts and sunflower sprouts today and will be posting a detailed how-to guide on Friday if you want to grow your own.)

We’re also trying lettuces, kale, and spinach under grow lights in the laundry room. Success of failure there is yet to be determined but the grocery store celery stalk that I planted has come up, so there’s hope! I don’t think we’re going to be self-sufficient in our food production any time soon, but I do think we can keep our salad costs to a minimum this way.

The highlight of this week though was a 3-day adventure with our great niece. We visited an apple orchard on Thursday, where we all enjoyed our first-ever apple cider slushie and picked a peck of Granny Smith, Rome, and Jonagold apples. If you ever happen to be in Adams, TN (which is most famous for being the home of the Bell Witch), you have to stop by Shady Tree Farm and Orchard. The ladies there were so nice! They let Addison pay with her special debit card (which was really just my Parking Spot membership card) and treated her as if she were a VIP.

We spent some time at Nanny’s house, where Addison got to play in the dirt, replanting weeds from the yard in her “vegetable garden”.

And on Saturday, we went to the Fall Fest at Hendersonville Produce. Addison loved playing with all the outdoor toys and getting her face painted. She also loved the free samples.

As for us, we had a blast! I think this was the most relaxed visit we’ve had all year. No rushing around to do work or home chores before heading to my mom’s house for a quick visit. We just enjoyed the moment, as if it were all that mattered. Because, truthfully, it was.

On Sunday, Angie and I started off with the intention of relaxing and watching football all day. But the apples we bought kept calling to us and we spent most of the morning dreaming up delicious things to do with them. The end result, we watched about 20 minutes of the Titans game and spent the rest of the afternoon making an apple pie, apple butter, and apple juice for jelly later on.

The simple pleasures in life have always brought us great joy, yet much of this year, I’ve found myself just skimming the surface when it comes to true happiness. I knew I wasn’t happy at work, but I never realized just how much it was affecting the other parts of my life, until I left. It’s as if a huge weight lifted off me and I felt free again – free to live in the world of right here, right now; enjoying every little moment.

I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough, life is too short to be unhappy with your job, your life, your direction, or anything else for that matter. If you’re not happy, do everything you can to try to fix it. If you can’t right now, don’t give up. The day will come when a door will open and all you need to do is be ready to step through it.

Don’t Follow That Chicken

I saw a t-shirt this week that read:

I want to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without anyone questioning their motives.

That sounds nice…except I think sometimes we need to question why, if only to help ourselves. After all, you wouldn’t want to follow a chicken if it’s on the wrong path, now would you?

With Angie still in Texas and my relatives visiting from out of town, this has been a very trying week. I’m not complaining. I refuse to let anyone steal my sunshine, but even so, it has been difficult not to crumble or explode at certain times – especially when you are constantly bombarded with other people’s “expert” opinions.

On money…

On what to eat…

On consumerism….

And my personal favorite, on food waste…how is it even possible to be pro-food waste anyway???

Caught on tape! You never know when someone will be playing with their camera.

Though I can’t fathom locking a child (literally) inside the house 24/7 so they aren’t kidnapped, chopping up a 12-year-old’s food so she doesn’t get cut using the knife, or telling a 14-year-old to get the brush so I can comb his hair before we go out, did I say anything about my uncle’s stellar parenting skills during his visit? Nope, not a word. Did I call his kids little hellions when they walked across my mom’s couch in their tennis shoes and chipped her 30-year-old maple coffee table throwing a cell phone at one another? Nope, I did not (though my mom did have a few choice things to say).

I don’t agree with the way my uncle is raising his children. I think it’s wrong and I truly believe they are missing out on the joys of childhood and learning to do things for themselves. But it’s not my circus and those aren’t my monkeys!

My opinion is just that – mine – and it will serve no purpose in sharing it with someone who did not ask for it. It will, however; serve a huge purpose in my own life. Having opinions (or making judgments) about what’s wrong in the world around us is how we ensure that we live our best life. And really, our lives are all that we can control anyway. It’s important – in my opinion – to question the way in which others do things, to sort out what feels right (or wrong) in our hearts, and choose our own direction based on those observations.

I share our choices (and the reasons behind them) here on this blog. I don’t feel the need to pull out a soapbox when guests are in town and wax philosophical on the state of the world. But maybe I should. It really is hard sometimes not to say something, especially when you’re digging through the garbage to fetch plastic water bottles for recycling because your out-of-town guests refuse to use the bin next to the trash can. Or when you bring fresh corn, tomatoes, and peas to dinner and it gets shoved in the refrigerator in favor of frozen French fries. Or when you watch your aging mother do 2 loads of someone else’s laundry every day because one outfit is not adequate to make it through a day of watching TV.

Or maybe I really should have spoken up when my uncle told his son that I was a Communist because I don’t eat meat. At least I could have corrected him – that would be a vegetarian, Cuz.

Like I said, it was a trying week and I’m glad it’s over.

On the morning that they left, my mom called to say that my cousin said to tell me goodbye and he loved me. Of course, my heart melted. I am human and deep inside I know that they are not bad kids. I know there is hope for them yet and I know this because of something my cousin said one night after I left. He told my mom that he liked having me around. When she asked him why, he said, “Because she’s calm.”

It really is true; you never know who you’re setting an example for.

I could have easily gotten into an argument with my uncle. He likes to agitate people, including his own kids, to the point that he provokes an argument. He and my mom argue all the time. But I chose not to. I find his behavior unacceptable and I choose not to repeat it. Does that mean I wasn’t frustrated? No. Does it mean that I didn’t want to say something? Sure, I did. Being calm isn’t always easy. Not responding to a bully isn’t either. But in the end, it’s what I can live with. Being at peace with myself and my actions if more important than debating someone else’s opinions. (And let’s face it, that’s like beating your head on a brick wall anyway. If our own opinions are unlikely to change, why expect someone else’s to?)

So, what does all this have to do with chickens crossing the road again?? Nothing really. I just liked that t-shirt.