How does a person transition from a 9-5 job into a free-lance/self-employed/farm friendly lifestyle? ...I'm not really sure, but here are a few things I tried to get a fresh start.
1. Yoga (with Goats!)
Two days after I left my job, I attended yoga with goats at ZiegenVine Homestead. It seemed like an appropriate way to kick off this big transition. Maintaining a tree pose, while also giggling at goats being ridiculous, is a great practice in balance and general good vibes. A beautiful setting and refreshing experience, even if a goat peed on my yoga mat...
2. Farm work
On the first Monday with no day job, I woke up early to help with a harvest at Plowbreak Farm in Burdett, NY. This farm is located in one of my favorite areas of the Finger Lakes Region. The drive there includes boundless rolling hills, gently curving roads, and an insane and lingering view of Seneca Lake. (The area is also home to Two Goats - my favorite place to find a good beer.)
At the farm, I picked cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes with the working CSA share members and the owners. I learned many little tips throughout the harvest. Perhaps the most timely advice though, considering my transition from a desk job to farm life was, “Be good to your back.”
3. Read a good book
I've been doing a lot of research in preparation, but I was especially excited to receive a book by Matthew Crawford in the mail just before my final day at the office. The title, The Case for Working with Your Hands: Or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good, gives a good sense of what's inside. (Another edition of this book is called Shop Class for Soul Craft, if you decide that you would like to read it too.) Although I've just begun this book, it offers an interesting perspective on the value of skilled labor. It is encouraging to read as I define my own values for for "making a living."
4. Plan a Road Trip
First, I planned how to reach some key locations with friends and family. I began to research places of interest along the way. Farms, craft schools, and parks fill a list of places that I hope to reach on my journey. The process of planning and preparing for this trip helped to establish some new aspirations.
To keep my road trip plans flexible, I packed everything I imagine to be helpful for any outdoorsy adventure. I included - and crammed into my little car - complete backwoods camping gear, a mobile “office,” one million maps, and a bicycle.
Admittedly, my beloved 80s Schwinn has not gotten much attention in the last couple years. In the spirit of the journey, I’ve brought it back to life for this road trip. With a borrowed bike rack and a tune up from my friend-turned-impromptu-bike-mechanic, I’m excited to cover some new territory on two wheels too.
5. Hit the Open Road
This one is an obvious next step after that planning and road trip prep... For the first leg of the trip, I drove through New York, a little bit of Pennsylvania, a lot of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. After about 13 hours, I arrived in my home town. I had a lot of highway to stare at during that time. In addition to being a great place to listen to podcasts and audio books, a long drive is ideal to gather thoughts and gain a little perspective.
6. Total Solar Eclipse
I wish I could start every new adventure with a total solar eclipse, but I got pretty lucky with timing on this one. I watched the eclipse from my family’s backyard, not far from St. Louis, MO. The air was thick, but we gathered some family for a little eclipse viewing party.
We played with changing cast shadows as totality approached. When the moon fully covered the sun, it was surreal and stunning - like magic but way cooler... because it was not magic at all, but some spectacular science. If I was looking for a symbolic start to a new life, this was a pretty epic option.
And the journey has just begun.