After over 2 years of not finding time to blog about the little happenings and learnings of my life, here I am again. I've been very addicted to facebook, but those short snippets just don't let me have fun talking photos, showing step by step of recipes I'm trying and analyzing the results. Plus then I can't go back and find the links I've shared very easily. Farmville was fun too, but than it began to represent a cruel irony to me: wasting time on a virtual farm when I could better use the time practicing skills or researching ways of having a real one.
So here I am.
When I last left you guys I was settled in an apartment dealing with my husbands layoff- looking for a job and pondering what to do next. The last few years have been very busy: I've worked in a natural parenting-esque cloth diaper shop, as an agricultural aid for the CDFA looking the the invasive Asian Citrus Psyllid, I've gone back to school to study horticulture, found my groove as a student and worked my way into the honors program and even into Phi Theta Kappa, a national honors society. This year school is partially funded by 2 scholarships and a grant, and currently I have been working at a Garden Center/Nursery as a sales associate for almost a year now and am training to hopefully be a Color Department Lead( Flowers/Veggies/Herbs) someday. I completed my training as a UCCE Master Gardener, have volunteered in trying to get a community garden up and running in my hometown, gave many a talk on veggie gardening, and have made many wonderful friends and contacts with similar interests as me. My two beautiful children are growing up and getting smarter every day, and I am blessed to say I am more in love with my sexy dork of a husband than ever. Life has never been better for me.
But it hasn't all been sugar and sweet peas, in the last 2 1/2 years we've moved 4 times ( various family members, which I am forever thankful), my husband ended up unemployed for over 2 years, our marriage was strained to almost breaking, I had bouts of depression and so much fear and doubt. Life was restless, unsettled. I didn't know how to pull myself out of it, we needed something, anything to just change for the better. Finally, my husband got a job interview out in Missouri, so we flew out to stay with my recently found birthmom in Tulsa,OK so Chris could drive to the interview. That is when the big Blizzard of 2011 hit superbowl week, and we were basically stranded in the snow in the midwest for a few days. During that week I happened to get an email about an application I had put in at a garden center months prior. Chris' interview was cancelled because of the state of emergency the region was in, and after we got home the phone interview didn't pan out well.
My job interview went better then I could have ever hoped for: they hired me.
I had my first full time, more than minimum wage job with an employee owned company that even offered medical insurance. It was my miracle. We could afford to move out of my parents home and sphere of drama to our own apartment where we live now, for almost a year now. We finally had a sense of independence. I've even bought my first real car, a sweet little baby blue car with lots of happy bumper stickers on it. My husband finally got lucky too, as the economy has ever so slowly picked up he stopped the desperate job hunting and started his own consulting gig, which has slowly been picking up steam.
2012 is a year full of promise for me: we're both gainfully employed, in out own little home we work hard for, raising our beautiful children and full of gratitude for our lives now and the lessens we learned along the way. We're slowly working towards a goal of moving to a more rural-ish area where I can have a yard, a garden, and fruit trees again- and maybe even chickens and a dairy goat someday. UC Davis just started a major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems- exactly what I love to study but didnt have a term for. I got to visit the campus last year for a transfer student open house and fell *IN LOVE* with the school and the town. My husband loved it too, so if its meant to be I hope they accept my application next Fall.
We've been blessed with wonderful friends along the way who support us emotionally and spiritually. I have awesome professors who have written strong letters of recommendation that helped me land my current job and a few scholarships. I am lucky to be able to still hone my homesteading skills with limited resources by being frugal and bartering canned goods for produce. Whether its saving the green tomatoes off plants being tossed at the nursery, making friend with the farmers market folks for deals on blemished stuff, joining a local CSA, to offering to pick the fruit and prune the trees of neighbors and aquaintences, I find fresh produce to work with.
My best friend has chickens and more eggs than she knows what to do with sometimes, so I buy or trade for eggs from her. A co-worker keeps bees and gave me 2 jars of lovingly raised honey for Christmas. Many generous friends bring me fruit from their trees. I am always giving away stuff I've put up or crafted with my own hands- my mom teases that I can and stockpile food for lean paycheck weeks but give so much of it away I should stop being so generous and save more for myself. That's because the more I give away, the more that comes back to me and my family, and the more I can give to others on tough times too. I've been there, and know how quickly I could end up there again.
We all take care of each other.
2012 is a big year, I'm dropping down from full time work to part time hours to focus on a full class load (19 units) of honors classes, botany, California geography, critical writing and hopefully chemistry. I was elected as an officer of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) so theres events and work to do there, and some conferences to attend. By next summer I should qualify to take the California Certified Nursery Professinal exam, and if I pass earn the nice CCNP title and pay raise. I should complete my Associates Degree in Spring 2013, and may or may not be transferring somewhere the fall after, thats still in the works. I'm gaining more responsibilities and experience volunteering as a Master Gardener, and now the Master Food Preserver (MFP) program has its own classwork and volunteer requirements. There are lots of events and classes with local groups that have so much I want to learn from them.
I am happy, I am focused, I am driven but most of all I am blessed.
Every night as I fall asleep I meditate on my own little Mantra:
"I am Blessed, I am Loved, and I am Thankful."