Things are a bit of a mess around here right now. Spring is a little messy for me anyway. (Exhibits here and here.) It isn’t my best season. Add on a couple of extra things, like, oh, I don’t know, a TEDx talk, and I’m about an inch of dark chocolate away from a meltdown.


I can’t think straight. I can’t decide if I’m amazing and inspirational or a terrible excuse for a human being. (HINT: Neither.) I’m burning the bread and stepping on the cat and calling my children by the wrong name.


Last night we had a hailstorm, so loud it woke Sadie up from her sleep. The sound of hail and wind on a yurt roof is the sort of thing that lets you know exactly where things stand. You: small. Weather: BIG. For about ten minutes I knew the order of the world, but then the rain calmed down and I forgot again.


I don’t think it’s a mistake that I feel a bit like a warrior. Wearing my work shoes and my washed-once-a-week hair to give a talk on a red, round carpet for a bunch of cameras. I really do stand for something, in that context. I really do stand for a simple way, and a quality of “enough.” I really do stand for freedom of thinking, mental independence…and the lost art of knowing the difference between technology and reality.


But it is a mistake for me to think too much about myself, warrior or not. It means burnt bread for dinner.


I could use another barn to clean out to knock me out of the mental gymnastics, but we’ve had hail or sleet every day this week, so outside work doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plus it isn’t a good time for me to do projects if I can’t think straight.


I’ve already said that this is the year I’m going to get myself some useful, simple handiwork and have it available all the time for moments just like this one. And I do have a grand plan for 2017, I can’t wait to tell you, but I won’t because I know well my own tendency to get distracted… (is that a shiny thing right over there?) So. Let’s try to stay in the calendar year we’re in.


The worst anxiety, the worst stress, is that I don’t want anybody to know that I’m feeling this sort of thing. Either by accident or by intention I’ve offered myself as a source of encouragement, to other homesteaders and off-grid folks and also to anybody looking for a simpler and saner way to live this crazy life. I want to stay in the good story. Even when my own story gets messy.


I don’t want to offer anything that isn’t hope.


But you know what? The good story IS messy. And there is hope in insecurity. And, anyway, everybody I know gets like this sometimes. The truth is, we are ALL a mess, now and then, or all the time, or at least in between the moments when we’re not.


It’s powerful to tell the truth about that, to each other.


I’ve read an idea that all stress, every source of harmful anxiety, is based in some kind of dishonesty. When two parts of you want to do different things, and those two parts are fighting each other, that’s when you spill energy like a head wound spills blood. The problem isn’t weakness. It’s dissonance.


On the other hand, when you know who you are and what you’re doing, it kind of doesn’t matter how hard it is. Giving birth, lifting cars, making a house off-grid… When we’re not split — when the reality is centered and singular and we’re not trying to make ourselves smaller or bigger than we really are — then we can do amazing things.


But in this world, we’re so well trained to pretend that we’re doing something even when we’re really not. There’s a lot of this. It’s the norm. We pretend that we’re not competitive or insecure. And we pretend that we’re not scared. We hide behind these walls of dishonesty and cultivate stress instead of gardens.


I’m done with it. Folks. I’m a mess. I’m a full blown disaster. But I’m celebrating that God and love and hope are all here anyway, even right in the middle of my mess.


I’m celebrating that the most beautiful, productive gardens are messy ones. And I’m celebrating that the most beautiful, productive lives go through moments of total terror and insecurity and also sometimes actual mistakes…all on the way to moments of courage and beauty and DOING THINGS THAT MATTER.


You’re not alone, and neither am I. I am not beyond hope, and neither are you. Burnt bread and messy lives and all. We’re in the ring, and that’s what matters.


Love from the yurt,

Esther and family (and chickens)