Sunday, March 15, 2015

Two Years and Six Months Later

I don't weed my stone path anymore. The summer heat will do that for me.

Le Chatelaine* du Grindstone Ranch checks in

It's been two years and six months since we moved here. Two years and six months since I left the corporate world of business to find health, peace and contentment. Two years and six months since I realized that my way of living wasn't really doing me enough good. Especially in the health department. I was doing all right emotionally and materially. I had a good job that I loved. The people I worked with were the best people on the planet and they still are. I was also dedicated to making sure my kid did not go down the toilet. I had cause. I had purpose. But I was not feeling well. As a matter of fact I hurt all over. It was an undeniable case of koyaaniskatsi ( the Hopi word for "a way of life that calls for another way of life".) 

I'm relieved to say that I've found my health, peace and contentment. I say relief because I wasn't sure at all of my decision. It almost seemed as if there was no choice but there was a choice. There's always a choice. I was asking myself: are you willing to take a big risk for a chance at making things right for you? Are you willing to risk perceived security for something more? I could truthfully say well I'm happy enough where I am. Things aren't that bad. And, honestly? They weren't that bad. But they weren't that good either.


As we were falling asleep the other night I said to him. There's no drama anymore. There's no upheaval in my home. I used to go home expecting and being met with anger and drama all the time. And now there's none. There's peace. 

I believe a home should be a sanctuary. A home should be the fortress against the upheaval and drama of the world. When your home life is always in drama there's no sanctuary. I think this is the major transformation of these two years and six months later. Maybe it's the biggest one. Because there's no drama in my home I am free to spend my energy on pursuits that mean something to me. Things I enjoy. When I'm not dealing with overwhelming problems on the home front I have energy left over to be creative. It's so good now. I'm so relieved. I'm happy.

All the problems I have now are "out there". It's not to say there aren't issues to address at home. There are. We're normal. But we are able to address them without drama, without resentment, without rancor. It's so good. I'm so lucky I lived to see this day.


We settled into a routine at the ranch. The animals are fed and cared for. Repairs are made. Things are built. Supplies are purchased. The garden is tended. A major accomplishment was fencing in our backyard. Some other cosmetic improvements have been made. I love my "snake" fence made from salvaged wood posts. The horses now live a stone's throw away from out front door. I'm watching them graze peacefully right now.  We have a quiet life. It's good.

The only thing I still struggle with is isolation.  I've dealt with it through my blog and I have made some new internet friends. They're still not as good as my old friends though. I don't know them well enough to confide everything. Also the folks in these here parts are nice but they're not the same as my old friends. They don't have the same world view as my old friends. The thing we have in common is we're all ranchers. That's it. That's all. No kindred souls here. What was that little childish rhyme? Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold. I wish my old friends could visit me here but it's far and they have busy lives. Betsy and Roger came once. We had a grand, short time. They were driving through. This is a good place to stop on the way to somewhere else.

And sometimes boredom. Sometimes it has mastered me like the isolation and I've been depressed. I'm not as young as I once was and things that I liked to do like horseback riding are not something I can now do safely. Valley Fever ruined me. I have never been able to get back in the saddle like I once did. So I will reminisce about the good ole days. Maybe soon I'll write about the years I rode out with my friends Jane and Lisa all over the Briones watershed. Those were very good days. In the meantime, I am honing my skills at drawing and painting and I recently learned how to crochet rag rugs from a lovely elderly woman named Anna who lives across the creek from us. And, of course, I write. I have fun coming up with "advice for the homemade life" for Cappers Farmer and confiding in you, my friends and readers. Now if I can just get someone to pay me for writing!

All in all I'd say that my fears of making this change were completely unfounded. Sitting on the porch steps yesterday watching the thunderstorm clouds build over the distant hills I felt a considerable peace. That's when I thought of writing it down. Time for a re-cap I thought. Time to note how I feel about how everything has worked out. I don't know what the future holds but if it's anything like the past two years and six months I'm not worried at all.

* credit goes to my bon ami Robert Clark for coming up with this title.

Waiting for lunch at a restaurant on the harbor at Ft. Bragg.    

I'm keeping this rock from tipping over at MacKerricher State Park near Ft. Bragg.


  1. There are so many things I can relate to; the peace, the isolation, the boredom.... But you already know that.
    And let's be honest; internetfriends can never, ever make up for the loss of real friends. Seeing a smile in a face, feeling the touch of an arm around your shoulder, hearing laughter...
    Funny that you ended writing about writing. It's the sort of thing people keep telling me.....

  2. I love the "I believe a home should be a sanctuary' paragraph. I too believe this. We've had 'drama of the past' kind lately, and I'm ready for it to return to the past. Or be buried forever, preferably. I still work for a living, but when I return home, I relish closing the gate and being home. I'd probably miss my friends, but I'm not sure I wouldn't like the isolation, at least for a while. I'm pretty content at home. I really like this reflective.

    1. The reason why my home was dramatic and unpleasant was that I was married to the wrong person. Now I'm married to the right person and it makes all the difference. I just wanted all of you to know that.

      I'm so happy to hear that you can close the gate. It's important. I, too, like isolation in that I enjoy my own company. However, being way out in the middle of nowhere gives a whole new perspective on isolation. I'm glad I have my internet friends and my good companion. Jules and Ron, thanks for your positive comments.

  3. The home as sanctuary? I think that's the time-cherished concept although few people achieve it, particularly since as Emerson observed, "The majority of men live lives of quiet desperation." It is comforting to read that you have achieved it.
    But....I certainly couldn't handle the loneliness and isolation to even a fraction of the degree that you have. As I recently observed to a friend, "My idea of seeking solitude is to go to a crowded coffee house where I don't know anyone." I get energy from people and isolation just isn't the life I would choose.
    Back to the sanctuary concept, we have created our own urban sanctuary: a house near the center of the city but with privacy created by tall hedges and tress on three sides, garden, orchard, grapevines, berries in our front yard and two we can experience nature while still being in the city.

    Keep sharing, Renee, we all love and admire your spirit....and so good that you have taken up drawing again.

    1. Your urban sanctuary sounds wonderful. I can imagine this because I had a similar sanctuary. When the house was in too much turmoil I would go back there with a latte and a croissant from the marvelous local bakery and watch the chickens peck the ground. Yeah, I am more suited for solitude but I have a limit. I'm not a hermit! When I was a kid I had a home in turmoil and I would go out in the fields and lay back in the tall grass and watch the clouds roll by. Peace is there to be found. I believe it can be found even in war torn places but I have never had to test this theory. Thank god!

      It comes to mind that you can be a model for other urbanites. I left the system which it not available for most people. But most people can take inspiration from you. In that sense you guys are the road warriors of the new age.

      Thanks for your positive comment!

    2. We used to be such road warriors, albeit that we actually were more of an oddity, when living in the city. We had garden, large by city standards, claustrophobically small by ours today.
      It was an oases of green amidst concreetgrey, brickred and tarmac black. My wife created wonderful seasonal displays in our windowsill, according to anthroposophical guidelines and people would stop and look as they went by. They did that anyway, when the whole family gathered at the table for dinner. That apparently was an uncommon sight too...
      But the ever ongoing torrent of city people, sounds-and lights wore us down eventually...

    3. I guess it depends on what city you're living in. My city was pretty earthy crunchy being Berkeley CA which you may have heard of (Free Speech Movement and Gourmet Ghetto). But it was oppressive the other direction (Don't sneeze unless you ask your neighbors first). It was good in a lot of ways but too claustrophobic for me. I grew up on the Great Plains where one could see the weather coming 150 miles away.

      That's a really good description "ever ongoing torrent of people, sounds and lights". I would stand up on Grizzly Peak and look down on the sea of lights and say "Someone forgot to turn the lights off!" It was all just too much. Heidi in the city yearning for her grandfather's mountain home.