Updated: Apr 7, 2020
About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about why I chose to leave the 9-5 job structure (if you missed it, you can go back and check it out here), and now I’d like to give you a little glimpse of what my life has looked like for the past three years since I made that change, by sharing four new things I’ve been fortunate enough to try.
The initial feelings I had after quitting my job and going back to my family farm to essentially, “sort out my shit”, were largely guilt, defeat, and sense of failure. I have always felt that I’m unable to “keep up” to the pace we are expected to maintain, and this seemed to reaffirm my belief that I’d just never be able to do as much as I was “supposed” to do. But at the same time, I felt a sense of relief, freedom, and hopeful anticipation about what was next, as I always do when I “quit” something. We are made to believe that quitting is a negative thing, but letting go of something that you no longer feel good about, makes room for something new, which I think is actually a really positive thing.
Honestly, I think the main source of my negative feelings were coming from a fear of disappointing the people I love, and worrying about what other people would think of me in general. I’ve always had this strange combination of a fear of judgment, mixed with this kind of rebellious “go ahead and judge me, I’m gonna do what feels right for ME” kind of attitude. So I often find myself pushing boundaries out of a desire for authenticity, and then pulling back out of fear of what people will think of me.
But over the past few years, I have decided to worry less about disappointing others, and more about being true to myself. Of course I still worry about what people will think -- I believe that’s part of being human -- but I have a beautiful community around me filled with people who love and support me no matter what -- a community that is growing now that we started Root & Sprout, which makes me so effing grateful -- and I have learned to dismiss many of the negative thoughts that pop up when I am afraid of judgment (some days I am better at it, and some days I allow those thoughts to stick around longer than I should, but I am committed to working on this for myself).
So I wanted to write a post to tell you about some of the most exciting and significant new things I’ve tried since leaving my more traditional job that have been really scary but also super empowering (and that I never would have had the energy for if I had stayed in that job), in hopes that it will inspire you to try something new and scary! Because you deserve to explore and experiment and feel excitement in your life! Your new things will probably look completely different than mine (or maybe you want to try all the same things and then you can tell me about it and we can bond over it and become bffs!), but regardless of what you choose to do, you will feel so incredibly empowered when you follow your heart, even if you “fail”, I promise, you will be so proud of yourself for just trying.
Okay Root & Sprouters, here are the four new things I tried over the past three years of self-discovery:
1. Held a gallery show in my hometown with canvas prints of my nature photography!
I have always had this creative desire inside of me that I never really acknowledged or embraced because, for one, I never really considered myself artistic -- I’m not great at drawing, or painting -- which I thought were requirements to be an artist, and secondly, in the community I grew up in, athletics ALWAYS took precedence over everything else. If you chose art over sports, you were judged -- not only by peers, but also by teachers (the school I went to had a “macho culture” which was perpetuated by both students and teachers). Not that I was an athlete either… I never enjoyed playing traditional sports (although I did try to on various occasions just to fit in, even though it gave me severe anxiety), but I did figure skate my entire childhood (which I was very privileged to have had the resources to have been able to do), and that seemed to satisfy the minimum requirements necessary to avoid the harshest judgements. If the question “so you don’t even play any sports?” was ever posed, I was able to at least say “well, I figure skate”, which was often met with “that’s not a real sport”, but hey, at least it was something.
So holding a gallery show, showcasing my art, in my sports-obsessed hometown… was, well… completely terrifying. But I did it!!! And people were SO supportive and lovely. I couldn’t believe the support I received, and the kindness I was met with.
I’d like to send the BIGGEST shout-out to my mom -- who is a wonderful artist herself, who inspires me in so many ways -- for encouraging me to do it, and for helping me with every step of the process, because I honestly never would have done it if it wasn’t for her, and it is something I am now very proud of myself for doing. Thanks mama.
It is also something I never would have had the energy to do if I had stayed in my previous job -- and when I talk about this previous job taking too much energy, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy it, and I will always be so grateful for that job where I met so many beautiful souls and learned sooo much -- it’s just that it wasn’t right for me long-term.
It is also where I met Ashley, my soul sister, the other half of Root & Sprout, and just a all-around wonderful human being. Ashley is an artist who sees the artistic potential in literally everyone -- she taught me that “art” is primarily about the act of creating, and that the final product is just one part of a beautiful, therapeutic process. Ashley encouraged me to listen to my creative desire, as well as encouraged me to use photography as my medium, and when a talented artist and trusted friend encourages you on your creative journey, you just feel like you can do anything!
The flexibility I gained by changing directions work-wise allowed me to try something completely new -- and while I’m certainly not a pro at photography, and I know it isn’t my dream career, or my life purpose, it gave me a creative outlet that I had been craving for sooo long, and it gave me an enormous boost to my self-confidence, showing me that I can do much more than I thought I could.
2. Got a hive of honeybees!
This is something that did not go how I thought it would. I will eventually write a full post about my experience with keeping bees, but I’m going to give you a condensed version here.
So, I purchased some bees two springs ago from a local beekeeper, with the expectation that I would become the most amazing beekeeper the world has ever seen (well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I thought I was going to be preeeetty good at it). In retrospect, I realize how arrogant and naive I was when I first got those bees. It’s not that I wasn’t prepared to keep bees -- I had studied several books and online resources over the previous winter to learn about how to keep bees -- but I had no idea how different it would be than anything I had ever done before, and how difficult it would be physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I have to admit, it is something I am not very good at. I feel pretty inadequate and intimidated by the whole process. I do my best, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a “beekeeper”.
Before I actually got the bees, I would go to the store to buy supplies, and I’d scoff at the workers when they’d tell me how much it hurts to get stung, and how often it happens. My responses were something like, “That’s okay, I’m tough. Besides, they aren’t going to sting me, they’re going to be my friends!” and I’m sure they were internally rolling their eyes at me (as they should have been).
Turns out, bee stings REALLY HURT (they even hurt someone as tough as me), and no matter how hard you try to avoid being stung -- no matter how careful you are -- when you are putting your hands directly into their home and moving around their honey stores and their babies and potentially even the queen -- you WILL get stung eventually. Not because they are mean creatures, but because they are protecting their livelihood from an intruder.
Keeping bees has truly humbled me, and taught me so many lessons about myself. I have yet to even take any honey from my bees because I honestly can’t bring myself to steal something they worked so hard for. But I am still proud of myself for trying it, and I love that I am supporting the environment by providing a home for our most important pollinators. I have really developed a respect and fondness for bees that I didn’t have before, and bees have taught me many lessons.
3. Started nannying again!
When I was in my early to mid-twenties, I nannied part-time while I was going to university and travelling, and I loved it, but I felt like I wasn’t supposed to nanny forever because it’s not considered a “real job” (childcare in general is just SO undervalued in our society, which makes zero sense to me, because it is quite literally raising the next generation of humans who will be making the decisions regarding how this world will be run!). When I told people I was a nanny, I felt the need to follow up with “but I’m just doing this until I’m done university”, because I didn’t think people would respect me if they thought I was “just a nanny” (even though I knew it was an important job, and it was fulfilling and brought me joy, I was just so worried about what other people thought of me).
Since then, I have learned a lot about myself, and have decided that living my truth is way more important than living in fear of other people’s judgment. So, this past fall when harvest was nearing the end, I put it out into the universe that I wanted to nanny part-time again. I always struggle with my mental health in the winter, and I needed something that would bring me joy and fulfillment through those cold, dark months (I’m afraid hauling grain and pushing snow just wasn’t going to cut it), so I said to the universe that I wanted to nanny again, and I wanted it to be with a family where I felt our values were aligned. Within a week or two, I received a message on Facebook from the woman who my mom actually nannied when we were kids asking if I knew anyone who would be interested in nannying her 9 month old twins! I had no idea whether our values would align, as her and I had lost touch and barely even knew each other anymore, but it seemed pretty clear to me that the universe was offering me this opportunity for a reason.
So, for the past six months, I have been nannying the sweetest little angel babies part-time, and it has felt so natural and positive and I am so incredibly grateful to not only have found a part-time job that brings me so much joy and fulfillment, but to also have found a family that I now feel I'm a part of. I love them so much, and helping them raise their children feels like such an important job that I am truly honoured to be able to do.
4. Started this blog!
Okay I obviously had to add this one in here! All of the things I have tried prior to starting this blog have been beautiful stepping stones leading me here -- to partnering up with one of my closest friends to create a platform where we can share our ideas and stories and create a beautiful community of like-minded people to support each other and our journeys!
Starting this blog was so scary -- we have felt exposed and vulnerable, but it has also been so exciting! Ashley and I had many “meetings” over the past three years trying to come up with something we could collaborate on that felt right, because we just had this inner knowing that we were meant to work on something together, but every time we came up with an idea prior to this blog, we were met with some sort of resistance -- either external or internal. But then one evening, when we met for one of our typical “meetings”, we started talking about this blog, and everything just sort of fell into place -- we were no longer being met with resistance -- and we just knew that this was THE thing! We still don’t know exactly where this blog is taking us, but we are just going to continue sharing our journey with you, and trust that it is taking us exactly where we need to go.
All four of these new things I tried are still in my life in some capacity -- I still love nature photography, and occasionally sell canvas prints of my photos if someone requests one, or if I think it would make a nice gift. I still have a hive of honeybees, and love having them buzzing around the farm, and coming to sit on me once in a while (which I like to think is their way of saying hello). I am still nannying a couple days a week, and I am loving the balance of farm life and domestic life -- the change of scenery every other day feels really good to me. And of course, I am still blogging! Literally right now. All of these things provide me with an environment where I can fully be myself -- not an edited version of myself. It’s an environment that not only improves my mental health, but if I am experiencing a decline in my mental health, I know that I am supported in doing what I need to do to heal (which is often crying, because that is how I expel negative energy -- I’m a water sign, what can I say?).
The reason I wanted to share this with you guys, is because I think we can all get so caught up in doing the “right” things, and what we are “supposed” to do, and living according to other people’s expectations, that we forget that life is an experience -- we are here to have experiences, not just to buckle-down-and-work-hard-until-retirement. There are so many things to see and do and try, why would we limit ourselves? As far as we know, this is the only life we get, so let’s live it. If we have to work to survive, let’s do things that are exciting and that we feel passionate about and that make us feel like we are living this life on purpose!
Have you had a similar period of self-discovery where you tried new things? Tell us about something new you've tried! Did this post inspire you to try something new? Let us know what you thought of this post in the comments, or send us a private message! We always love hearing from you!
Take care and be kind to yourselves, Root and Sprouters!