I found the word "homesteading" through an odd sequence of events. Growing up, I loved being in the country and going to my grandparents house. Though my grandparents had a home near the edge of the city, they spent much of their summer time gardening in the little town where my Grandmother grew up. They always had a huge garden every year that produced more than the family and all their friends could eat.
Going there during the summer and vacations was always a favorite time for my brothers and me. We'd fish, explore, ride the go-cart and had freedom to come and go. Sometimes I would sit on the boat dock at the "Big Pond" for hours just looking at everything. It was always an exciting treat to help grandmother in any way she'd let us. Last year one of my brothers and his wife bought my grandparents country place and are working hard making a home out of it with their burgeoning family. I can't wait for the day when the fields are reminded of the bounty they used to produce. I don't know that my grandmother will ever retire.
At 85 years old, she is still tending to her garden at their home closer to the city. It used to be considered in the country and is very big and wooded lot right on the edge of town. Jeffrey and I cut out a garden for her before we moved up here and the rest of my family has been helping too, but with only the absolute biggest of work and that is rarely needed . The rest she absolutely insist that she tend to it herself. I just can't believe how relatively healthy their lives have been due to the way they lived.
So I have been around gardening for most of my life and no matter how far I got away from being in the country, the seed was still there; even though it did go through quite a long phase of dormancy. During Y2k (year 2000) testing my life was a living hell. My husband at the time tore 5 disks in his back during an on the job accident and telling the story of workers' comp in Texas could be the topic for a voluminous long-winded diatribe (we were divorced a few years ago and he still isn't fixed as far as I know). I was working day and night, it never stopped, 7 days a week, no vacation, no holidays - I felt barely human. I had almost no help and was living a very unhealthy lifestyle. It was a chaotic 2 years. I've heard it said that Y2k was a hoax, nothing happened, "what was the big deal about". No it wasn't a hoax, people worked night and day, some for 2 years and that is what kept it from being the predicted upset. It came with the most tremendous personal cost I've ever paid. I found through other friends in the industry that during this time, a lot of people were really exhausted and sick. I was promised a break as soon as the Y2k roll over came - as long as nothing exploded. I couldn't wait for the break, I was exhausted and sick to a new level I didn't even know was possible and still remain a functioning human. As many people in corporate life have learned, the break rarely comes, promises are rarely kept. A new "end of the world" project hit immediately. I didn't find out about the project until 2 days before it was due. So I kept going and worked around the clock for those 2 days to get it done. Then something went wrong. I got really, really sick. That's a topic of another blog, but it was hell. I used all my energy to get to work. I just worked as hard as I could to have a normal life and not alarm anyone.
I had to use up all my sick time and then some, ultimately missing close to a total of 3 months. During one of the worst periods I was in bed for days. I couldn't get up except to slowly shuffle to the kitchen and bathroom and in bed I just lay there trying to get the energy to breathe. Every breath felt like it took so much energy. I remember once I was feeling a little better and thought I'd try to vacuum. I did OK with pushing it around, but i didn't have the energy to bend over and wrap the cord back up. Doctors and pills weren't helping. I was trying to figure out how to get better but didn't have the energy, brain power or an ounce of health to do much of anything or make any changes. I wondered if I was ever going to get better. I was trying a few vitamins and herbs that people gave me, but that wasn't working. A Countryside Magazine found it's way to me and when I was sitting up a little in bed one day I started flipping through it. The letters sent in by readers to the magazine reminded me of when we were in the country. It reminded me of a lifestyle. People talked about eating healthy, working the land and just a wonderful lifestyle I was so far away from. My interest in health and living on the land in the country was renewed (I worked at a health food store when I was 16 and my grandmother is all about health and gardening). My health and I were going in the wrong direction. I needed to get better soon. So I subscribed. I don't think I had ever subscribed to a magazine before. I learned about living frugally, online groups & resources, getting healthy, living off grid, efficient earth friendly homes and more wonderful things I had never heard of. When I read the word homesteader and read all the ways people described what that meant to them, I thought - that's it! "Homesteading" was the word I could use to describe what I wanted to do. It meant so many different things to so many different people but they all shared the same underlying root system and were growing in the direction I wanted to go.
So i started with fresh and raw foods and taking the vitamins, minerals and herbs I really needed for my condition. That gave me some energy for movement which gave me the ability to start getting to work every day. Some days I couldn't walk very well and had to take naps during lunch in a co-workers van (thanks Krystal) or on the floor under my desk. As my energy increased and I could tolerate the computer for more than my 8 hour days, I spent my spare time researching and actively working on getting well. I decided on a quest of living like a human being should and being not only healthy in body, but in mind and spirit as well. I'm trying to do that through Homesteading and other complete life changes that will be topics for other blogs. Like John Trudell says "I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human." I want to be a human being that understands what it means to be human and give to others what has been so freely given to me.
Now at 39, I'm now the healthiest I've ever been in my life in every aspect. Life is simpler and less stressful. My debt is almost gone by learning to live frugally and applying most of my income on nothing but paying off debt. I'll be at zero $ in 2 more payments. When I started it was over $20,000 because of surgery for my ex-husband, health expenses and other unexpected emergencies. So it's really happening, things did change. I knew walking confidently (no matter how slowly and how many times I fell) in the direction of my dreams would eventually get me somewhere better. Much of the residual physical pain from being sick is gone and I've noticed with all this frenetic Spring activity and some serious shoveling, I've had a real reduction in pain. I'm learning everything I need virtually for free and what I need to learn and who I need to meet comes in a sure flowing stream.