what 26 chickens can teach a city girl.

Here’s a big fat truth that I got real with recently:

No matter where you go, there you are. 

I did my very best to escape the busy-ness of life earlier this year.  It was a month into 2015 and I was grinding away, putting parts of my life on hold to work more, deliver big projects and contribute to my community. I knew that solace was coming in a small farmhouse on a big, beautiful property on Salt Spring Island with 26 chickens that were to be my only charge for two weeks. 

I was ready to feel life stop. I was ready to feel deafened by silence. I was ready to sleep.

And, as life keeps on with it’s lovely pokes in the side and never ending reminders, all that I was running from came with me to the farm.

The opportunity arose when my two good friends asked me to farm sit. My ‘uh…HELL YES’ was immediate, and nestled very much so in what I saw to be the safe bosom of two weeks of next to zero responsibility. An escape from the every day emailing, connecting, networking, client-ing, yadda yadda was exactly what I needed to get my head on straight, take care of outstanding projects and do  ‘jess writing' ALL THE TIME. // Afterthought #01: a clean plate does not a writer’s canvas make - aka: you gotta have the mess/work/inspiration/etc to have the thoughts that turn into things.

As the date neared closer, my pompous ass spoke more of all the writing I was going to do and  how my blog pipeline was going to be stacked. I was also solidifying my fantasy of skipping down to the chicken coop once a day sprinkling feed about while the birds mulled around and deer galloped through the pastures nearby (which DID happen, I will say). // Afterthought #02: my poor, poor blog pipeline. #workinprogress

I got the notes on how things ran at the farm about a week before I left for the island, and while I saw that there was maybe more to it than I anticipated, the reality of what #farmlife was really about didn’t hit me until two days in when I was solo with the 26 birds and Buzz the cat. 

Days started early with a couple (mostly) gentle nudges from Buzz (breakfast time). The fire needed to be lit and tended to. Coffee (duh) needed to be made. Then, the birds needed to be let out, fed, the coop checked and tended to and the grounds walked. Another meal for Buzz, more feed for the chickens, another stroll of the property, errands, more chicken feeding, more Buzz feeding, getting the birds safely into the coop and tucked in for the night, eggs picked, broody hens to be checked, eggs to be washed and packaged and refrigerated. 

Just a little bit of responsibility, I’d say. And just a little bit of work. // Afterthought #03: this was WINTER - how the crud do the boys take care of the birds PLUS the BEES and all the rest of the farm when the crops are in full bloom?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVED IT. Every minute of it. Highs, lows, rainy days, predator threats (that’s a real thing)...all of it. It was an experience like nothing else and one that I have all of the fondest memories of. 

And again, I most definitely know that I went to the farm with every intention of being the least bit responsible; to feel like a forest pixie without a care in the world.

When I left for the island, I was looking for escape. I was overwhelmed. I was looking to disconnect, unplug, get off the grid and find silence. I was trying to run from the work that I have been working so hard to keep and keep rolling. 

And that’s ultimately what I learned through running from and finding responsibility - my work is IN my work. 

I often feel overly responsible; that if I don’t do something, if I don’t check in on all the things, make the plan, say YES, then things won’t get done. Over the years I have turned myself into a one woman show of doing it all - most of the time with enthusiasm, some of the time with some icky feelings of ‘why me? why am I here again? this isn’t my genius. can’t someone else do this?’ The brain ramblings go on. 

What I know is that I AM responsible - it’s a part of who I am that I will always take with me everywhere I go. I LIKE being a responsible human who can take care of people, things, projects, work and more. AND, I know I’m under-experienced in taking a lot of responsibility for myself, my own needs, my own goals and sometimes, my own wellbeing. 

What’s different NOW is how I’m seeing this change, day by day. 

The most important thing I am up to right now is shifting my sense of responsibility for others and focusing it on myself; flipping my understanding of my value from being short-term focused and outward facing to being long-term minded and conscious of how I’m taking care of my Jess-ness. Because when I take on a greater responsibility towards doing more of the things I know are the foundation of the future I want, I have more capacity to serve, support, teach, inspire action - all of it.

I’m a high functioning human who knows she can DO a lot (pretty sure I have rambled on about that more than one time…). What I am getting hip to is the difference of doing for others versus doing for myself being the key to ending the sometimes suffocating need to go rogue and transfer my life to the trees (aka: become a forest person somewhere). 

Much like the blog pipeline, it’s a work in progress. And, I am seeing progress - for real. I’ve started scheduling my days and weeks, respecting my own boundaries around sleep and personal time and consciously addressing timeline expectations with clients AND myself. It’s small steps in the right direction of having the LIFE that I am out to create….not just the work I want.

Little steps, scratches at the surface...it's all progress. Keep at it, stay curious.