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Life on Fox Acre Farm

My journey to my dream home starting at the very beginning

Ten Things I Learned while Traveling Solo Across the Country.

Many of you know that I am on my way home from a solo mission to San Francisco, California.  I boarded Amtrak’s California Zephyr Saturday night in Creston, Iowa, traveled 2,046 miles in 44 hours to spend a grand total of 39 hours in San Francisco just to board another train and come home.  I have heard numerous times over the course of my adventure that I am crazy, which may very well be true, but I have had the time of my life.  I met some great people, I saw some of the most beautiful scenery in America, and I learned more about myself in the past few days than I have in my previous 26 years.  Here are some of the things that I learned on the trip, and how I came to understand them.

 

  1. I am braver than I ever knew. The purpose of this trip was to help me to figure out who I am.  I’ve been struggling with an identity crisis for a while now (I have always been someone’s daughter/wife/mother/friend, rather than being myself).  I really wanted to take some time for self-reflection and to discover who I am.  Just me, not in relation to anyone else.  That is why it was so important for me to take this trip on my own.  Was I terrified.  Abso-freaking-lutely.  When I started planning the trip I told as many people about it as I could so I had a security net of people to hold me accountable not to back out of my plan.  When my friend, Mike, dropped me off at the train station, I had a panic attack and seriously thought about getting back in the van and having him take me home.  But I did it.  I stuck it out. I did something really special. I stepped out of my comfort zone, even though it was scary, and in doing that, I found courage inside myself that I never knew I had.

 

  1. My anxiety cannot control me. This may seem like the same as being brave, but there is a big difference in being scared of something and anxiety.  I had a reason to be scared: traveling alone, especially as woman, is not something to take lightly.  Anxiety is something illogical.  Anxiety takes the most minuet things that could POSSIBLY go wrong and turns them into guaranteed disasters.  Anxiety tells me that I should stay in my hotel room and not walk 3 blocks away to a bar.  Anxiety tells me to panic about what to do if there is an earthquake.  Anxiety turns striking up a conversation into an impossible mountain to climb.  Yes, all of those things happened to me during my brief time in San Francisco, but I overcame that anxiety.  I walked to the bar, struck up a conversation with the bartender, and he introduced me to his regulars, who wrote out an itinerary of things I should see while I was in town.  I met fantastic people, and my trip wouldn’t have been the same without them, because I refused to let my anxiety control me.  I refused to stop living simply because it was uncomfortable.  It isn’t easy.  And I know it is going to be a constant battle for the rest of my life, but I won this one, and that gives me hope for tomorrow.

 

  1. People are, more often than not, kind. I didn’t meet a single rude person while I was gone. People were genuinely happy to speak with me and hear about my adventure.  They were willing to answer my questions, to help me get where I needed to go, and to plan the things I needed to cram into a single day of visiting the amazing city of San Francisco.  For someone who is socially anxious/awkward, this was eye opening.  I have always tried to have faith in humanity as a whole, but have still always been afraid of being judged, ridiculed or rejected.  This trip made me realize that most people aren’t nearly as judgmental as I think they are, and if they are, they are probably assholes I didn’t want to talk to anyways.  Not only were all the people I encountered on my journey kind, but I received more positive comments and encouraging messages from friends, family, and acquaintances back home than I ever had.  It blew my mind how many people really care about me, and are honestly interested in hearing about this excursion.  I spoke to a friend on the phone today who told me my trip was the talk of the town (at least in the bar I work in) and I was so surprised that my customers gave a shit about more than how fast I can bring them a beer. The kindness that has been shared with me during this process of planning and executing my vacation has been astounding and overwhelming.  I feel loved, and I’m giving it right back to you all.

 

  1. Being socially awkward is okay. No one thinks I am as weird as I think I am.  I need to be reminded of this daily.  Am I awkward? Yes, but there are other people more awkward than I am (I met some).  I found that most people I have spoken to have found my awkwardness quirky rather than straight-up weird, and I need to realize that more often.  It’s okay to be weird!! It’s okay to be myself!

 

  1. I talk to myself way too much. While alone in the hotel room, and now in my sleeper car on the train, I realized that I narrate what I am doing. I talk to myself almost constantly.  I am sure the people in the room across the hall from me now think there are two people in here, but there’s not…it’s just me…being weird (that’s okay, remember?!)

 

  1. I find comfort and peace in nature. On numerous occasions while on the train, and while exploring Marin County just outside of SF, I was completely astounded by the beauty of the world around me.  On more than one occasion, that beauty literally brought me to tears.  I feel connected to nature in a way that I never truly appreciated until this trip.  I have always enjoyed the outdoors.  I have always love seeing the pretty flower, trees, and sunsets, but I have never felt as connected to the world around me as when I watched the Colorado river carve its way through the magnificent Rocky Mountains. I have never felt so small, yet so empowered as when I put my feet in the Pacific Ocean on Stinson Beach.  I’m crying right now just thinking about it!  The world is so big, so magical, so wondrous, and I am part of that. This really makes the efforts to protect the beautiful awe-inspiring natural resources we have around us all the more important to me.

 

  1. I need to conquer my fear of flying. I can’t tell you how many times I heard this on my trip. Yes, I’m working on it.  I know I would have much more time to explore if I had taken a plan rather than the train.  HOWEVER, the journey of this voyage was more important to me than the final destination.  The train trip was my adventure, San Francisco was just the spot I ended up before coming home.

 

  1. There is power in solitude. It is okay to be alone. I’ve been trying to figure that out for quite a while now.  This has a lot to do with my identity crisis I am dealing with as well.  I don’t know how to be alone, I’ve never been alone, and therefore I don’t know who I am when I am just me.  I am finding that there is power in being able to be alone, and not lonely.  There is power in accepting who I am as an individual, not as a part of a group. There is power in taking agency over myself and my choices and not letting anyone else have control over those things.

 

  1. There is beauty in everything. I found just as much beauty in the sunrise over the plains of Nebraska as I did in the waves crashing on the California shoreline. Different types of beauty, but they are both beautiful nevertheless. When you can find beauty in the everyday mundane things around you, you can find beauty in others, and it is easier to see the beauty that others find in you.  It is empowering and inspiring to see that beauty in yourself, and to connect your own beauty to the beautiful people and things around you.  I recently stumbled upon a slam poem called When I was Thirteen (here is a link to the video.  Watch it  Feel the feels.) and I was struck by the power of these words:

Beauty is perception

Although there is a dictionary definition of beauty

Beauty has no real definition

Because it is redefined every day and you are a definition of beauty.

Someone find your laugh, your intelligence, your thoughts,

Every little thing you don’t like about yourself beautiful

And who are you to tell them they aren’t.

  1. I never want to stop traveling and experiencing this magical place called Earth. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see the world, but I’ve been to scared to go out and do it.  I wanted to explore, but it was easier, safer, to stay in my comfort zone.  This trip opened my eyes to the endless opportunities I have to live life to the fullest, to experience the richness of the world around me, to see all the sights, to hear all the stories, and to learn all the amazing things there are to learn.  This is what I was made for.  This is who I am.  I figured that out.
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I’m done being sorry.

If you know me, you are probably aware that I am overly apologetic.

“Oops! I’m sorry I’m in your way.”

“I’m sorry for being so emotional.”

“I’m sorry you have to put up with me.”

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

The negativity involved with constant apologies really impacted my life more than one would think.  I have been apologizing for taking up space, for feeling/showing any type of emotion, and for simply being myself for so long, that I honestly believed that those things were an inconvenience to people.  When you believe that your very existence is a nuisance to those around you, it is damn near impossible to have any sense of self worth.  It’s a never-ending cycle of penance and self deprecation.

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This image popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago, and changed my life (despite the typo and poor grammar). I am working really  hard to stop saying, “I’m sorry,”o and instead expressing my gratitude for the people around me who love and support me.  I am so grateful to my friends and family who value me and respect me, and because of that thankfulness, I am learning to value myself more.

I can never cut the words “I’m sorry” completely from my vocabulary, no matter how much I would like to.  There are times when an apology is necessary, and I have come to the realization that my habit of constant contrition really devalued those words and made genuine apologies less meaningful.  I hope as I continue this journey of gratitude I will not only learn to value myself, but to value the power of my words.  As a writer I have always been aware of the power of the written word, but the spoken word has evaded me.  I am a nervous rambler, and never feel like the words I say fully express what is in my heart and my mind, but being conscious of my word choices (IT IS REALLY CHALLENGING), has really helped me to be aware of the impact of my words on myself and those around me.

So, instead of apologizing, be grateful.  It is challenging at first, but I am already reaping the benefits of being more positive in my daily life.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for the compliments and kind words so many of you have shared with me recently.  Thank you for being so encouraging, and for all the love and support I am finally learning that I deserve.

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Before Thirty…1284 days.

Before I turn 30, I will…

  • stop apologizing for everything. I will be thankful rather than apologetic.
  • finish school and get a real teaching job.
  • not live with my mother anymore. I will build my own home, or buy a home that I love.
  • fix my credit score…this is a high priority.
  • publish something. Anything. Write, edit, put it out there.
  • stop being afraid of rejection and failure. That is how you learn!
  • start to value myself more.
  • drink more water and less vodka.
  • travel, explore, discover, learn.
  • be a better mom, and stop letting my anxiety hinder the boys lives.
  • work harder to control my anxiety and to be more comfortable in my own skin.
  • learn to stand up for myself more.
  • do something meaningful to make the world a better place.

New Year, New Blog

I haven’t written anything in about five months. Life has been hard. Really hard. So many things have changed in the last five months that I’m not even sure where to start. I’ve put of sharing these things, because I wasn’t sure how ready I was to air all of my dirty laundry, but I think it doing so is a vital step for me to be able to move forward.

My marriage is over.
Whew. Got that out of the way.

It’s extraordinarily difficult to write those words, I’ve just gotten completely comfortable saying them out loud. I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship, and that relationship changed who I was. It broke me. It shattered me, but I am trying to put myself back together. For so long my life has revolved around my husband and my children that I lost who I was, and I let myself be discouraged and damaged beyond recognition. I lost myself trying to be who I thought I should be, who my family expected me to be, and in doing that I not only did myself a huge disservice, but I short changed my children as well.

I left my husband because I wanted to be the best mother I can be for the boys, and I couldn’t do that while being with him. It has been a terribly difficult transition for all of us—we moved in with my mom and my sister in October, and we are still learning how to make the best of our cramped quarters until we can finish the bedrooms upstairs. It has been hard, but through that hardship there has been healing, and self discovery.

I discovered that I am strong, even when I feel the weakest.

I discovered that I am worthy of love, even when I can’t give that love to myself. When I feel useless and broken and invisible, I am reminded that I have a purpose, and I am unbelievably loved.

I discovered that friends, true friends, are the best gift in the world.

I discovered that my children are smart and resilient. They are dealing with this process better than I am most days.

I discovered that even on the worst days, when the boys are with their dad, when I miss them more than anything, and struggle just to breathe, I am still better off than I was in a miserable relationship, and so are they. My children deserve to see me loved in a way that will show them how to love their future spouses. My children deserve to know that their mom and their dad care about them enough to do what is best for them and give them two loving homes rather than a single broken one.

I don’t hate my ex-husband. I genuinely wish him all the happiness in the world, but I know that that happiness could not be found with me. I know he never intended to hurt me, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened. I’m not in any way trying to make him out too be a bad guy, I am at fault as much as he is. Our relationship simply wasn’t heathy for either of us.

I’ve got a million things to say about this process, about the things I have learned, and the multitudinous emotions I have been dealing with, but each of those things will be written about on their own to fully hash them out. I am ready to do this now. I am ready to heal, to share, and to hopefully make something beautiful from this ugly situation.

My final thought for this blog is to encourage anyone who finds themselves in an unhealthy relationship to reach out for help. Abuse isn’t always physical. My husband never once laid a hand on me, but that doesn’t negate that abuse. Mental abuse is often more damaging and permanent than physical abuse.

I found this article written by Teresa Newsome to be quite enlightening, and very applicable to my marriage.

I’ve been a slacker…

I am guilty of being a severe procrastinator.  Due to this malfunction, and the fact that I have been super busy with the boys most of the summer, I haven’t blogged in over two months =(

I attempted to write a post after Sawyer’s third birthday, but at the time I was extremely down in the dumps and the post was never shared. I have since attempted the write this entry about 167times but just haven’t had the time or the gumption to do so.  Lets get this done.

Since Sawyer’s birthday, we have been very busy.  We have had two vacations, Christmas in July, many VA appointments, Sawyer has started three year old preschool, and I have started my graduate classes at Simpson College.  These are just the big things, not to mention all the day to day activities that consumed the rest of our summer.

Overall, we are all doing well.  We are happy, healthy, and busy as bees, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Here are some pictures from our crazy summer, and I will keep you posted on what is to come for the Fox Family this fall!

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Fourth of July Week/Weekend at Fox Acre Farm

This Independence Day weekend was one for the books.  It was long. It was exciting. It was long….so very long. Hence why I haven’t written about it until now.  I needed time to recover.

Sawyer stayed at Grandma D’s house last Wednesday.  Jack slept for 13.5hours and woke up Thursday morning wanting pancakes.  Of course Hyvee doesn’t serve breakfast all day, and we got there 5minutes too late so we settled for pie.  I think I enjoyed it more than he did.

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After our special breakfast we spent the rest of the day with Grandma and our cousins swimming in the pool, eating popsicles, and general tomfoolery.

Friday night, we had a private fireworks display at the farm.  It was terrifying (I am such a worrier), but it was exciting, and overall quite fun.  S. had a blast with the other kids playing with glow sticks and watching the sparklers.  He loved the fireworks and wanted to help make them go boom…that didn’t happen, but he still had fun!  J. slept through the whole thing in the jumpsac.

You know you had fun when you fall asleep in the van on the way home like this.

imageSaturday, we traveled to Cumming, Iowa for a family bike ride with Husband’s side of the family.  We ate, we drank, we rode our bicycles a ridiculously long way (mostly in the dark), and we had a fantastic time.  This bike ride prompted my most recent purchase of a new bicycle since I put 20+ miles on my old cruiser that I haven’t ridden in over three years.  I figured if I can handle that, I should probably start riding more regularly since it was so much fun (for the first 15 miles).

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Sunday, we had another Fourth of July party to go to with some friends of ours.  My boys were awful because they hadn’t napped, I was super sore from the bike ride the previous day, and Husband was slightly hungover.  We didn’t take any pictures, but it was good to see some old familiar faces and catch up!

The actual Fourth of July was fairly anticlimactic after such a big weekend.  We watched a great parade, and went home for much needed naps.  Husband probably had food poisoning from something he ate at the park, so we spent most of the day at home, and then went and watched fireworks in our old trusty spot with our annual fireworks buddies.

Fantastic week/weekend with awesome people and some pretty impressive fireworks (I wish I had gotten more/better pictures!)

 

Yesterday. Reiman Gardens – Ames, Iowa.

The boys and I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon with some great friends exploring the gorgeous 17 acre garden that sits just outside the Iowa State University Campus.

There’s been a horticulture garden at Iowa State University since 1914, and now Reiman Gardens is one of the finest and most unique gardens in the country available to student, faculty and staff exploration, research and learning. Through all the years, the Gardens has remained an oasis of natural beauty and education for generations of students and guests. 

The gardens are considered one of the must-see attractions in central Iowa, for very good reason.

I took way to many pictures, and we were only there for about two and half hours, but I would greatly recommend visiting this “oasis of natural beauty” in the middle of Ames.

 

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Climbing on Cy with a helping hand from big sister (hiding behind holding her Starbucks.

 

Remain Gardens is home to a beautiful butterfly enclosure where you are swarmed by hundreds of beautiful winged creatures and you are always afraid you will accidentally squash one.

This summer’s special exhibit is giant Lego statues.  The kids (and adults) were amazed by the creativity of these huge structures and the number of blocks it took to build each one.

I love all the beautiful flowers, and thankfully my friend, Cassie, knew what most of them were so she taught me all the fancy flower names.  I wish I had any gardening ability, but I kill every plant I touch.

This is a picturesque place to host a wedding and we found about a zillion different places throughout the garden that would be absolute lovely to walk down the aisle.  Cassie’s daughter began planning her own big day somewhere down the line.  IMG_0152And last, but certainly not least, my personal favorite part of the garden. May I present, Elwood: the world’s biggest lawn gnome. I love him.  I want to take him home with me.

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Day Two.

Today was a fairly uneventful day, but there are a couple of things I would like to share. In order for this to make sense there are three things you need to know about me.

  1. I am a nerd.  I love reading and learning.  Harry Potter is one of the loves of my life.
  2. I am extremely creative but have very limited artistic skills.
  3. My kids were awful today and neither one napped for very long, and neither of them napped at the same time as the other one. This is insanity inducing to say the least.

Okay, now that you know those things, I can continue.  J. napped first and S. insisted he wasn’t tired. So, when J. woke up we decided to run our errands to get out of the house.  We ran all our errand and then we were going to go the the playground.  I ran inside to drop off some refrigerated items, and in the 47 seconds it took me to put the milk in the fridge and come back to the van, S. was sawing logs.  So, since J. was in the middle of watching the Peanuts movie (Bawlee Blown) for the third time, and  I knew he would through a bloody fit if I shut it off and took him and his brother inside, we drove around and parked the van on a gravel road so J. could watch his movie, S. could nap, and Mommy could relax and not have someone climbing on her for the first time in hours.

While this was happening I discovered two things.  First, is my new adoration for Pottermore.com.  Like I said, I love Harry Potter (after all this time? Always).  However despite my love for everything HP, I have never liked the Pottermore site because of the way it was set up.  Since the powers that be rearranged the site, I decided to give it another try today because JKR recently released an insane amount of information about the other wizarding schools and you can now be sorted into Ilvermorny (the American version of Hogwarts).  I loved every moment I spent on this site.  I read so many new and interesting things that are only released on the website, and it was so great to be able to be excited and  learn something about the Wizarding World that I didn’t already know.

The second thing that I discovered, was this fantastic app called Let’s Create HD Pottery.  I am in love. I spent hours making pots, and vases, and cups, and bowls, and any other thing that you could possibly make out of clay on a potters wheel.  You are commissioned to make pieces for coins, and you can make as many pieces to sell to get more coins to buy patterns and designs to add to your pottery creations.  I ended up buying the $4.99 app (which I NEVER in a million years would normally do) simply because I wanted more options for my pottery.  How absurd is that?  Like I said earlier though, I am extremely creative, but my artistic talent is lacking.  This app fixes my problem! On top of how relaxing and fun it is to make new items and to be challenged by some of the pieces you are commissioned to create, if you make something you are particularly fond of, YOU CAN HAVE IT 3D PRINTED!!! This was completely mind blowing.  I haven’t yet checked on the price of having something printed, I am sure it is based on size and the complexity of the project, but I absolutely LOVE the idea.  How cool would it be to make something, have it printed, and then give it to your grandma for her birthday? Whoever designed this app is an absolute genius.

** The vase pictured above is not my creation, just a simple google image search, but I did make one quite similar to it, which is why I chose to include it in the post.  I would share my own creations, but alas, husband has commandeered the iPad and therefore I am unable to.

Day One.

This is the beginning.  Currently, I am a twenty five year old mother of two rambunctious boys (S is almost 3 and J is 19 months). My husband is a) super handsome,  b) a fantastic father, c) an Iraq veteran, and d) my greatest inspiration. We live in a tiny three bedroom house in a small town in Iowa.  I recently quit my full time job at the local elementary school as a paraeducator in favor of going back to school to get my masters in teaching.  13497966_10157220165385393_2850686346001488227_o

It is a crazy time in our lives.  We are planning our future and doing whatever we can to figure out everything and make the best of each and every day.

Fox Acre Farm is my home. I grew up on a century farm that his been in my family for generations and I inherited it when my father passed away when I was fourteen.  Now, my mother and my sister live in the ancient farm house.  Husband and I visit on a regular basis to swim in our pool and let the boys run around and explore.  It is our dream home.  Someday, we will build this beauty there. showImageEcom.ashx

I am starting this blog to document my life through these transient times.  School, parenting, marriage, writing, reading, creating, frustrations, and of course the journey to make Fox Acre Farm our forever home.

 

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