Monday, October 31, 2011

A Feast fit to be Shared

On a rainy weekend in mid-June of this year, my fiance (now husband) and I took off for a few days and nights of planning.  Thanks to the rain and a big tent - we were cozy inside, working on our holistic goals for our life together as well as doing some more immediate scheduling for the rest of the year.  

One of the goals we wrote is:
"We are eating and sharing nourishing food with family and friends."  

We'd already put in a large-ish garden and knew we were going to be raising 200 pastured chickens but we, honestly, didn't have in mind just how we would get to share this food with our loved ones.

At the same time - we were planning our wedding for the Thanksgiving weekend (October 8th) and had met with a caterer who was willing to let us source the foods from our own garden and pastures or from our farmer friends.  Our intent was to have a lovely harvest-style meal: perfect for a Thanksgiving/fall wedding.

These two streams of intent merged over the summer and by the time the wedding day came, we were serving our own beef, chicken, potatoes, carrots, beets, rutabagas and pickles!  Some of the desserts were made with our own fruits and the wedding pie that we cut (in lieu of a wedding cake) came from strawberries and rhubarb that we grew as well.  I also made up small jars of jams, jellies and other preserves for people to take home with them.

The head table had to be set on the stage of the hall, which was a bit nerve-racking for us: everyone could see us so clearly!  It felt like we were setting up ourselves to be king and queen of the night, which wasn't really what we wanted.  But it was a great spot because we could watch the crowd line up at the buffet and could see people coming back for seconds and thirds!  I didn't expect the food to be a big part of the wedding - even though I wanted it to be food I was proud of and felt good about serving.  Honestly - I don't remember the food from other weddings I went to!  So it felt great to see people enjoying and commenting and to still be getting notes from friends (3weeks later) about how they enjoyed the meal.  
There was a great sense of satisfaction in sharing our produce with our loved ones and felt we were living out this goal that we'd set only a few months ago.  It gives me confidence in the direction we are going and means that every time I dig out more carrots or defrost one of our chickens, I am reminded of this special day.  

We are humble in our ambitions to be farmers and food producers - but knowing that we started out our marriage and partnership by sharing our own food with our loved ones, I feel like those ambitions just might be possible and might be already realised, in some small way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stirred, not shaken

I'm all stirred up tonight.
By the conversations and reflections I've been having through my work - off the farm and on.
The reality I want so clear, so visible, sometimes almost tangible - yet it (more often than not) feels like dreamcastles built in the sky....
dreams many of us see and want but aren't sure how to get to, now
Yet we're all trying, sometimes together, and talking and doing what we can to live it... live our way into it.
And that makes it worthwhile and possible.

I find myself in one of those rare moments where no hope or fear exists.  I don't hope or put faith in succeeding... but I'm not afraid of what happens, then, if we 'fail' - - - It's like there is no succeed or fail.  There just is....  a doing, trying, being, moving forward and creating the path as we walk - - and then we'll see and touch what we create.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Reflection point: SELRS

Monday evening (8 August) we had our inaugural gathering of the SELRS (Sustainable Equitable Local Regional System for Food) gathering in Lacombe.   I am working with Rene Michalak as Community Activators for this project.  It's an excellent role and exciting opportunity to bring my previous work experience and current life path together.  

Below is a personal reflection of our first gathering, it is not meant to speak for anyone else's experience or opinions of the evening.


I left Lacombe feeling so full, I was empty.  Enriched by the diversity of experience, passion, knowledge in the room - I could leave with a sense that we've the right people around us and I (with Rene) as one of the activators and facilitators will have the role of supporting momentum and not trying to create it (a much  more pleasurable job).  

I also left with some key words settling into my brain.  Alternatives; Choice; Collaboration; Infrastructure; Direction.

Thinking about what impact I see SELRS (as a project having) - it is alternatives and choice.  Alternatives for producers and eaters and those in between - that they have options about where they sell and access their food: alternatives that suit their needs, scale and health.  Which is tied to choice.  And I don't mean a choice in brands where the same stuff is on the inside of the box.  I mean information of the alternatives and options and freedom to choose between them, to take control and decision-making back into our own hands; to remove the dependency on single system food options that make people feel powerless over their food choices and business opportunities.

So - what do we need to create SELRS?
Listening to the group and reflecting on other experiences I've had - collaboration and infrastructure were the headlines I started to see.

Collaboration between producers; between producers and eaters; between eaters; and across all links of the food system.  We need to start with building relationships but we will need to move beyond knowing each other and passing along information or product.  We will need to no longer look at each other as competitors or as a pay check or as a supplier of goods - we will need to start to understand each other better; to acknowledge we have common goals and purpose and by working together, we can be stronger, more creative, more adaptable, more.

What is sorely lacking is the infrastructure to support the collaboration and the system that is built through it.  A healthy system flows and grows and changes through the exchange and responses between parts in the system.  Infrastructure will be needed to facilitate this.  

Another headline or pattern that I can't ignore is direction and red tape reduction from the government.  There is a sense that much of what we'll want to do will be made difficult by the walls of existing policies and regulations or the gaping holes of lack of support for them.  I am not sure, at this time, that this is something we can take direct action on or need to aim at directly.  My sense is that right now we need to focus on what we want to create and be aware of where the walls and holes are surrounding these and then deal with them as they arise.  Rather than trying to remove them or fill them before we have something concrete to offer up.  But that's just my sense right now and I know I am going to learn more about this from our group.


I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this project because I saw it as the perfect opportunity to be part of building and strengthening a food system that I (literally and metaphorically) want to feed.  I am encouraged, inspired, enlightened, and lightened by the people and conversations that have come around us so far, and so early on.  I know if we keep asking ourselves "What's our next, best step?" and keep walking and learning and actions together - what emerges is going to be relevant, powerful, and necessary.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ask me in 15 years

Just over a year ago I was starting out on my Master's thesis and was also in the final phase of my move home to Canada (the phase that involved moving back to Canada).  During this process I met some wonderful gardeners and farmers who have inspired me and impacted the choices I am making in terms of the kind of work I do and life I am living.  One of the patterns that kept coming up was the timeframe of 15 years.

At our Organic Gardening course at CAT (in Wales) when the instructor was showing us what he's done in his own backyard.  Looking at the photos and listening to the story, I thought it would have been a 3-4 year project (especially since they don't have the winters like we do).   I was floored when he said it had bee 15 years.

Back in Canada, I met with and learned beside a wonderful farmer, Don Ruzicka, who has become a dear friend and mentor.  Talking to Don and walking his land, you would think he's been farming like this since he began.  But it has been 'only' 15 years since they took their first Holistic Management course and began to restore the health of the land, their finances and their family through ecological agriculture.  

And neither of these gentlemen are done or complete.  They are still learning, experimenting, building and breaking down.  

So... back to me and to now - June 2011.  Being done my thesis for over 8 months, getting married in around 4, working on contracts related to rural community, food and agriculture as well as doing some writing for our local paper, planting gardens and learning about raising chickens, pigs, cows... people around me (family, friends - old and new, neighbours, strangers) still seem to be trying to 'place' me in a job or career that is easy to explain.

 "So, what do you do? What are planning to do? Do you want to be a farmer? Will you open a restaurant or local food shop?  Are you going to write more? I always knew you writer.  Are you still training and facilitating? You're going to be making sausages?"

These questions and statements are all asked with honest inquiry and no judgement.  I feel that they want to support and help but perhaps can't grasp the picture I am painting so don't know where to place their own brush on the canvas.

But the fact is - I don't know either.  I am painting as I go and living my way into whatever I will be or become.  It's worked pretty well thus far (33-15=18... I could have never planned all I have experienced since I was 18, especially not when I was 18).

So I am finding peace in the prospect of a horizon of 15 years.  When the plans we have for a house, a farm, a life seem overwhelming... I try to remember to smile at V. and remind us (me) that we have 15 years or more to let it happen.  I might like it to be up and together overnight but I would miss a lot if it did.

Thus - when asked about what I do or want to be doing, I am learning to smile and be okay with answering "Can I get back to you on that?  Maybe in about 15 years?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Twitter-feed update

Whew! Where did April and May go?  We're into June and I guess the testament to my activity is that I haven't had time to sit and blog.   Something I want to change and need to build into my practice.  I thought I would use my 'tweets' from the last months as a way to play catch up:

30 Mar - Off to check out milk cows under a BLUE sky
2 Apr - Sitting down to write article on agroecology and missing my view over Schumacher College garden
12 Apr - wondering if others get to the point where they wish the words would jump from their brain to the paper without going through fingers
18 Apr - Back on the porch with a book and the sun... Oh how I missed this in the winter
21 Apr - PC candidate says election is about leadership & talks of "steady hand of Harper"... Oh that's what it's called.
21 Apr - PC candidate doesn't think questions from Sask. farmers valid bc they aren't in his consisutency. That's leadership...
21 Apr - PC candidate says this is "Kevin in haha"... doesn't make me laugh.
26 Apr - Currently reading 40 Gardening Tips to Maximize Your Harvest
27 Apr - Used to follow StanleyCup by wesbites and texts from friends.  Back in Canada and its still twitter that's my playoff source.
28 Apr - Chairs & tables all set & ready 4 Viking Sustainability Fair TOMORROW!
28 Apr - The first solar panel just arrived at the Viking Sustainability Fair
30 Apr - Viking Sustainability Fair comes a close.. Bring on the Power of the Land dinner and concert with the Dandylionesses!
30 Apr - Just saw the northern lights for the first since moving home, lovely end to a great weekend.
2 May - If you will take 10 minutes to go through the Tim Horton's drive-thru, why not take 10 minutes to go through democracy?
2 May - Planned the 'intown' garden (mom and dad's) and arrange seeds in order of earliest planting.
2 May - Getting ready to garden... Although some would argue that I've been gardening since March!
9 May - Been playing in the garden all day - with my shoes off and feet in the dirt!
10 May - planted (most) of my parents garden today and now dreaming of the first salad that comes out to go with our BBQ
11 May - Registration for the Alberta Permaculture Convergence is now open!
11 May - Just made my first batch of homemade mayo and now pondering the possibilities for innovation...
11 May - First ticket for the Alberta permaculture convergence paid for... And registration only started today!
13 May - Getting ready to plant potatoes and looking forward to seeing the gems these grow!
14 May - After a week of planting (gardens & trees) nice to have fresh greens & we didn't even plant them: nettles, lambs quarters, wild chive.
15 May - With 6200trees to plant, it's treeaplalooza around here.  Sitting in the calm shelter of trees in the middle of this wind, it's worth the effort.
18 May - Just heard that my Jerusalem artichoke order is on it's way! More planting to do!
18 May - I htink I can say mom & dad's garden is 'in.' Only potatoes 2 plant @ community plot & I'm on to V's place.
18 May - hello rain, welcome!
20 May - My Jimmy Nardello is blooming!
21 May - Another day, another garden to plant.
24 May - Favorite magazines these days? SmallFarmCanada and MotherEarthNews
30 May - seem to have motivation for anything BUT sitting inside and doing computer based work
31 May - trying alightheart's trick: going to start writing before I notice
31 May - Spent the morning interviewing a local rabbit farmer... So guess what I had for supper? :)
1 Jun - wicked answer to common question 'where to you live?' - 'in a prairie ecosystem'
6 Jun - Moments to remember forever: being the backyard with Mom as a flock of 10-15 waxwings land in our apple tree.
6 Jun - rhubarb chutney simmering and spruce-tip vodka infusing... time for a nice bath.
TODAY - All the plants have been moved outside and the shuffleboard is once again a shuffleboard... the basement looks so much bigger!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Substantiate, Re-Iterate, Effectuate

Substantiate, Re-Iterate, Effectuate
Ken Eshpeter, June 2004

I sat down to contemplate
Just how I might articulate
A growing need to enunciate
My concern for our community.

Our system tries to obliterate
Our original sense to co-operate
We no longer seem to appreciate
Our instinct to live together.

The forces work to authenticate
Expanding trends to dissociate
There's an invisible sword to amputate
Us all from one another.

Consumption fails to satiate
Our internal urge to accumulate
Big business likes to manipulate
Our sense of needs and wants.

Religion prays to perpetuate
The myth that individuals communicate
Perhaps they should re-evaluate
Their relationship with God.

Government wants to abdicate
Its role to help adjudicate
I sense it would 'incorporate'
All things that one could need.

Let's hope we don't exonerate
Instead let's hope we educate
Or surely we'll exacerbate
Our chance to make things right.


Ken was one of our speakers in the ReLearning Community Series that I helped put on this winter in the Town of Viking.  He is a local farmer  - come community arts leader - come train conductor.  He recently sent me an email putting forth these simple questions:

 "I have a question for you. If someone  robbed you on the street you would know immediately that you had been wronged and you would try to seek restitution. Why is it that in the rural area we allow, even encourage, big soulless box stores to come into a community knowing that there sole intent is to steal away retail businesses and therefore jobs and livelihoods from legitimate small business owners who contribute to the community in many ways. Why is this type of theft tolerated? Should we not be launching class action suits as a rural area affected to such an extent? When is theft, theft?"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Newspaper article on TK Ranch

In 1956 Tom Biggs moved from New York to Alberta and began TK Ranch on some of the flattest land and in the most brittle environment in Alberta, 26km south of Coronation.  Being new to the area and new to farming may have been what kept him open to different ways of working on the land.  Together with his wife Mary (Hallett), Tom became known for using alternative ways of managing the land in order to enhance the grasslands and biodiversity of the place - as well as to raise a quality herd of cattle.  

The love and respect for the prairie that Tom and Mary held was carried into the next generation and now TK Ranch is under the stewardship of their son, Dylan, his wife, Colleen, and their four daughters.  Last year TK Ranch received one of their greatest honours yet - they were given the National Prairie Conservation Award at the 9th Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference in Winnipeg, MB.  The Prairie Conservation Award is granted to a deserving recipient from each of the three prairie provinces once every three years in recognition of significant long-term contributions to native habitat or species at risk conservation.  For Dylan this award was extra-special because it was an acknowledgement and recognition of the hard work and deep message that his parents stood for.  As he directs you to look at Mary’s extraordinary paintings that hang in around the house, Dylan recalls the love and respect and value for the native prairie that his parents gave him.  “Mom’s heart and life was the prairie.”

For Colleen, this award was also an opportunity to take a look around.  With their focus on their own land and ensuring that TK Ranch Natural Meats continues to make it in front of their customers, they’d lost some sight of what was happening immediately around them.  With only 4% of the Northern Fescue grasslands left in the world - and with more understanding developing everyday about the value of these grasslands for species and also in maintaining healthy water systems - TK Ranch starts to seem more like an island for natural habitat than a ranch.  Yet, Colleen reminds us “that the reason these ecosystems remain intact are because people and families have been farming there for generations.”

TK Ranch is a vertically integrated operation which means that Dylan works with the cattle from birth until slaughter and then when the meat is ready and processed, Colleen and their oldest daughter, Jocelyn, take over.  They are marketing, taking and filling orders, and even doing their own deliveries to customers in Edmonton and Calgary.  In June 2008 they invested in their own refrigerated truck because of challenges with contract delivery and also higher freight rates.  While it adds to the work, it also means they get to connect directly with customers and can offer a more reasonable delivery service that both TK Ranch and their customers could afford.  With the cattle operation, direct marketing of their meats, plus sheep, chicken, pigs and horses to care for - conservation on the TK Ranch is not a passive activity but is integrated into how they work with the land and animals.    It is not a fully hands-off affair, in fact it is one of the busiest places you might visit, with the whole family involved.  Even Tom, at the age of 81, is still involved helping fill meat orders or to move cows.

The next steps for the Ranch are always tied to their customers.  Most direct marketing operations last only 10-14 months, while TK Ranch Natural Meats has been going for 16 years.  From the early days when most of their meat was sold into hotels and restaurants to today where they retail in many health food stores that at one time would have never even sold meat, it has been about building awareness in the consumer and learning beside the consumer as well.  The interest in natural meat started with many questions about the use of hormones and antibiotics in beef production and soon led to a desire for grass-fed and -finished beef.  The Biggs’ now meet the demands of consumers who want all of that and have added care for animal welfare and the  environment.  Their customers are people who are educating themselves and asking a lot of questions.  They may still be a smaller group but there are enough of them to keep the phone ringing off the hook.  Which means that working with other producers is also becoming important for TK Ranch.  To get bigger would only lead to compromising the quality that lies in the way they produce their meat and would make a busy operation even harder to manage.  So they are constantly looking for other farm families to collaborate with and include in their meat program.  The protocols they follow are high but they are willing to mentor and coach interested parties to meet them.  As the Biggs’ act more and more as an advocate for the discerning consumer and as a mentor to the farmers who want to succeed environmentally as well as financially, perhaps we will see a new role for TK Ranch come to play:  a hub for creating collaboration between family farms and farm-friendly consumers.

For now, they are busy enough raising their family, their livestock and caring for the ecosystem that they all depend on.  

REAL Beef stories by Cows and Fish, & company

Last December I had the pleasure to spend 3 days with a group of farmers from around Alberta.  Cows and Fish hosted us for a Digital Storytelling workshop.  I was lucky enough to be invited in to be the consumer voice.  Over the 3 days we shared stories with each other and built our scripts, pulled together our photos and music and each created our own, 3-minute clip.  
These videos are now available on the Cows and Fish site and each one is magical on its own - but together - they are powerful.  These farmers are living examples of land stewards and people whose pride comes from the food they produce, not the profits they pocket.  They are my inspiration.
The videos are here:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reflection Point

The last few days (weeks) have been busy with the details, the logistics, the next steps in multiple projects that I am involved with.  It feels good to have created some space - mental and physical - and momentum in that realm.  Which gave me this morning to read (finish) a book that reconnected me back to the bigger picture of why these projects are important to me and the deeper work that is taking place.  (The book was Balance Point by Joseph Jenkins)

And then I checked in with my online streams and came across these short clips of Paul Hawken, someone who's writings and own journey has influenced mine.  The conclusion/message of the second clip was really important and powerful as I sit and hold the macro and micro of the life I am living.  The wicked question of "Am I Engaged?"  

Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting the story(ies) out

Something I started doing this past month was writing for the local newspaper - specifically for their weekend supplement that carries feature articles more than current news.  (Aptly called the Weekender)  It's been fun as it is a reason for me to get out and meet farm families and rural personalities that I have wanted to get to know better, regardless of writing the articles or not.  And it is interesting to hear comments from people who have read the stories and have been made to think or ponder different topics in new ways.  I've only had two published so far but I have more ideas in my head than I do have time (right now) for writing.    They are below in the form of images (click on image to get a larger version) as there is not an online versions of this paper.

Story about Fern Thornton Cook - a local woman who wrote her first book in her early 80's

Sharing the story of Darcy and Candace Goodrich

Goodriches - part two

Friday, February 4, 2011

77 million paintings... and as many new wholes

While up in Calgary before my flight out - V. and I stopped by the Glenbow Museum to take in Brian Eno's show, 77 Million Painting.  We walked into a darkened room and sat down facing a wall that looked like it had a kalidescope-type image installed and music created a long, pausing, soundscape.  As I sat and was pulled into the colours - I let go of seeing the changes and was immersed in the colour and sound and the whole 'scape.'  It would only be when I shook my head and looked, that I would see the drastic shift in colours and images that had happened.  Meditating on the experience, I journalled:

"Still points and process... When you pull self out of to a point in time you see the changes but when the flow is subtle and steady, changes of parts are not distinct until the whole is transformed.
Snapshot in time are distinctly different yet the process and flow make them a natural transformation.
The snapshots or pauses give us opportunity for sense making of the change taking place but it it is in the process they are taking place... In the living and not the planning.
I didn't plan to be doing anything I am involved in right now, I live my way into them.  Yet I do take pause to defragment, organise and fit it all in - to recognize the wew whole that has evolved to this point as I release into the process and open to coevolving further."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Acknowledging hope and fear

I wrote this in response to an email I received a few days ago and thought to share it here:

Thanks for reminding me of previous meditations I have had on hope and for allowing me to reflect on where they sit for me today.

Years ago in a retreat we did individual meditation and then group exploration on the question "What am I without hope?"  
For some of us - we recognised that hopelessness also meant being fearless.  That when I found myself hoping, I could also look to the other side and see that there was something that I was fearing.  "I hope the roads will be good tomorrow." and "I am afraid the roads will be slippery." are two sides of the same coin.

In the years after this recognition - it doesn't mean that I have been able to become hopeless or fearless, but it does mean that I am able to check in with myself on where my energy is.  When I feel myself hoping or fearing - I look to the other to see what is there.  What am I afraid of?  Or What am I hoping for?  Being honest with myself, seeing that, and then letting it be a guide forward and not a barrier to action. (Our hopes can stand in the way of taking the next, best step just as much as our fears can.)

So it is not about working to be hopeless or fearless - but an acknowledging without attachment to.
And I find that helps me have cheer, be calm, and live into the future.


In addition - I was reading some poetry this week and this was one small verse by a Slovenian poet, France Preseren:
In hope, in dread long did I dwell.
To hope and fear I said farewell.
My heart, now empty, hold no cheer:
It yearns again for hope and fear.

Hi. I'm Brenda and....

I've been thinking a bit about introductions.  Specifically how I choose to introduce myself - what details do I share and how do I put them forward.  I'm always interested and attentive to how people introduce themselves when a new group is forming or a round is done.  What details do they want us to know?  What do they think is important for me to identify them with?  and (if I have met them before or know them) What is new or different or constant in the way they put themselves forward.

When I left Singapore and moved to the UK for my masters programme - there was a lot I wanted to leave sit.  Not to forget it but to allow it to rest and to have time to see what was important to take forward with me and what I could let go of.  This meant that I didn't want to talk about my past a lot.  Not that I was ashamed of it or wouldn't open up with individuals or in the right moment.  It just didn't seem that important to me or wasn't the reason I was there.  My focus was on the present and on living into the next phase of my life.  My internal process was to integrate my past but to not dwell on it or be attached to it.  But I didn't realise that this was really manifesting itself in how I was introducing myself and meeting others until months into our course.  There were a couple times that fellow classmates were surprised when I shared something from my past that seemed to be a fact to me, something I guess I just assumed everyone knew because close friends at the school knew and it wasn't something I was hiding.

Again - coming home and meeting people, working in new circles - I have had to go through introductions and revealings.  It's been interesting to see what parts of my past have been so integrated that they are part of my story and also to see what new elements have been important to put forward.  The last months have been about coming home and reconnecting so my introduction usually explains that - to some extent.  Summarising parts of the journey that took me away from and back to rural Alberta, letting people know that I from here but also new to here.

Yet this past week when, again, I was sitting in circle with a new group of mates - I began to feel like maybe that was less of what I needed to state.  That perhaps I am home and not coming home.  That I am involved and connected enough now, that the shoots I am putting up are more relevant and revealing than the roots I have been putting down.  Both will continue to grow but perhaps the focus of the story is shifting.

And these musings are not about finding what is most interesting or relevant for others to know about me - but me observing me, my journey.  In the sensation and reflection on the words and ideas I use to introduce myself - I am seeing a shift in my own journey.  And seeing each introduction as an opportunity to invite others to share my journey for a short (or longer) while.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I found myself writing out this email to a dear friend who has been through a similar transition, but a few years ago.  After writing it out - I thought I would share this 'out here' to see other peoples thoughts and experiences, if they have had them

An update is that I have been able to begin to work freelance and to create the kind of flexible, meaningful life here in Stettler that I am looking for.  I have a monthly contract with a nearby town to run their community sustainability awareness projects for the winter/spring and am also picking up some work at the local newspaper.  Am hoping to work with Waterlution as an Associate and also talking to Schumacher about going back to facilitate a course for them.  The summer should also be busy as V. and I are planning to plant a large garden and I have committed to working in it and also (if we get enough) taking things to the farmers market.  In between - I am also applying for some part-time roles like being an enumerator in the census which will bring some income, perhaps help me meet others but not take away from my other projects and ideas.

So it is as if - without much effort - after my thesis I have found myself living the life I have craved for a long time... or better: living into the life that I am wanting.

Yet, the last couple weeks have been interesting in terms of processing and living into the kind of life I am building here.

Now that the new year is here and I am picking up some work - it is like I am still adjusting to being self-employed.  Not a student, not employed by someone full-time, but not un-employed either as I do have contracts that are starting to bring in income and promising leads for the rest of the year.  It's like I wake up each morning - and sometimes throughout the day - amazed at the fact that I living close to the lifestyle, and living into the lifestyle, I had craved for so long.  One that is flexible and fluid with no major lines in my day and life between 'work' and 'life'.  I am working on projects (paid and volunteer) that are about creating healthier rural communities.  I have time to spend with my family and friends; cooking and knitting and other projects are not relegated to nights or weekends.  I am making less money but I also need less money to live this life.  But there is this odd sensation lingering - an uncertainty; something like anxiety about the instability or a guilt about not working hard enough or more hours.  I'm not letting it guide me in terms of seeking security or work in places that would take me away from doing what I really want to be doing and living... but it is there.  It helps that I have V to talk to about this and we support and encourage each other.  When I get the feeling - I just take a moment to reflect, to remind myself of what I am doing, of what's on the horizon and to be grateful for the adjustment because it means I am creating the lifestyle I desired.

I find myself wondering how other people have handled their transitions and journeys in building their practice and life.  What was hard (practically and emotionally and any other way) and what helped?