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Nick has been home full time now for three weeks. We’ve worked our way through the stages. First, complete chaos, when he was suddenly home during the day after not being home during the day for what seemed like a full chapter of recorded history…then, the outright conflict, when he was STILL home, when I was ready to go back to doing everything the way I had when he was gone.

But now we’re in the sweet spot.

It’s the hardest and most beautiful thing, to have to get in line with another person. Working side by side, getting the communication clear, the motivations pointed in the same direction…it’s the hardest and most beautiful thing. There are no shortcuts.

Each one of us finds the motivation and the method in the other, to get our own selves cleaned up and in line. You can’t communicate well what you’re working on if you haven’t figured it out for yourself. You’re sure to get caught, and probably be grumpy about it, if you haven’t thought out your project well enough…and there you are, being watched, trying to justify it.

But the good news is, there’s no better way to do that figuring out…than in the company of someone who wants the best for you. There’s no better way to grow, as long as you can be a little humble, a little vulnerable. And all in.

Getting Nick back in homestead mode, from working-in-town mode, I had to show him every bit of work that I’ve been doing. It was both amazing — good for that ol’ ego — and clearly something that has worn me clean out. I have been the sole caretaker for all these animals, all these plants, and mostly for these children, while also earning half of our income, doing all the housework, all the social engagements. I was tired, clean through. I thought, I do all this already…and now you want me to help with building the house, too? You’ve got to be kidding.

But I knew better than to hold that line for very long. We’ve been served well by the magic of going all in. All in is where you don’t make divisions at all between “my work” and “your work.” You don’t protect your boundaries at all. All in means you trust the other person to be there fully in every single thing, and so you jump in, too. With everything.

It’s the hardest and most beautiful thing,

It’s quite true that I work really hard. I’m a fierce, hard worker, which is not different from anyone else around here. We’re a high-strung, hard-working kind of family, living a high-strung, hard-working kind of life, soup to nuts.

But getting where we want to go isn’t always about working hard. It’s about working in alignment…with the best timing, the best communication, the most efficiency and energy, and the most joy.

You simply cannot do this in a mode of scarcity and desperation. You just can’t. You can’t do it protecting your boundaries, and sitting like a dragon on your own heap of gold. It doesn’t work.

And you can’t do it taking a lot of shortcuts either. At some point, you have to get on top of it. (Whether you really are on top of everything or you just decide to act like it is an open question…) But at some point you have to get on your plan and stay there. You have to say, “We’re going to do this right, no shortcuts, one right thing after another right thing after another right thing after another right thing.”

And if it feels like I don’t have time to do each thing right then I know I’ve got a lizard on my shoulder telling me lies. Because the truth is I don’t have time NOT to.

The key to this — maybe all of this, for me and Nick — is good half hour of discussion between us, every day. A good half hour of discussion. Every. single. day. We have a lot of bases to cover. The insulation is going in the house this week, along with plumbing. The walls are getting closed in before the end of August. Do we have the supplies we need to do all this? When is the shopping? What’s the budget? Does it make sense to can two bushels of peaches right in the middle of it, seeing as how this week is the week they’re ripe at the orchard and they’ll never be this cheap again until next summer? Does it make sense NOT to?

It’s way more fun, to feel like we’re living one life together, rich with both work and play, than to feel like we’re competing for a little bit of air.

Probably the best thing about our going off the grid, that first cold, dark winter, was the evenings Nick and I spent in front of the fire. We had only our headlamps, and a candle on the table. Our children fell asleep, easy and tired, in starlight. We didn’t have the means or the projects to work late into the night the way we so often do now. All we could do was sit, sometimes in total quiet, other times in lively conversation, sharing our thoughts and dreams.

An experience like that moves the walls. It moves the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible. It might have been a huge waste of time. Or it might have been the thing that saved us. It might have been exactly what prepared us to accomplish more than we knew we could.

It has served us well to live into our hopes. “Leap and the net will appear.” Sometimes we fall on our faces, but our noses were a little too long anyway. The truth is we’re the sort of people who fall apart quickly when we’re not doing exactly what we’re meant to do. We’ve learned, again and again, it’s worth the risk.

Sometimes it’s a risk that we take together, like, “Hey, let’s take our family into a lifestyle that will definitely be difficult and may not work at all just because we feel like it’s the right thing to do.”

Other times it’s a risk we take towards each other, like, “Ummm…I don’t really know what you’re doing — and sometimes, let’s tell the truth, even you don’t know what you’re doing — but I want so much for it to work that I’m for it anyway. I’m all in.”

Here’s wishing for you the courage to take a healthy risk…to go all in with yourself and your own life. And if your life is yoked to another, to go all in with them, too. Here’s wishing you the courage to take time you don’t know you have, and the strength to hold space for hopes and dreams — even really crazy ones — and the discipline to do one right thing after another right thing after another right thing.

All in.

 

Love from the yurt,
(about to be elbow deep in peaches)
Esther