Rain dripping and dropping on the yurt roof, a small fire in the wood stove, a large pot of chai simmering on the stove top, my smiling baby snuggled into me: this is how I wake.
At the beginning of May, it feels like April Showers are just arriving–March did reach its cool fingers into April, after all, so perhaps we’ll have to wait a little longer for the flowers May is supposed to bring. Sun has graced us and warmed the green house in the past few weeks, but the air has mostly remained cool, so different from this time last year.
This morning, though, I don’t mind the rain. The coziness of the yurt is magnified by the water falling outside.
The other day I came across a quote by Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets:
“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
It caught me in a shallow breath. I stopped, turned this question over for a long moment. This is what I’ve come to learn: for so long, I’ve equated what I’m doing with what my life is. Studying English and Environmental Studies in college, farming, traveling to New Zealand and Tasmania, traveling to and farming in Alaska, teaching skiing in Vermont, working at an organic seed company, starting my own farm with Edge, having a baby and becoming a mother. All of these experiences have given me a definition of myself: a student, a traveler, a teacher, an employee, a farmer, a mother. It’s easy to let these definitions dictate whether or not I am truly living the life I want. But these definitions are not my life.
And what is the life I want? And what is life?
The life I want in definitions: a full time farmer, writer, and mama.
Life is: a series of breaths, energy moving.
Caught in definition, I can feel stuck–what am I? A full-time employee off the farm, finding small snippets of time to write, plugging myself into the farm work here and there when I’m able to. But the truth is, no matter what I am doing, I can choose to breathe fully. No matter what I am doing, I can choose to move through the motions or to be fully alive. My life, no matter what I am doing, is how I move through the world.
Every day we have this choice: to look, to breathe, to engage. And what wonders come of it: the transformation of seeds into seedlings, the discovery of garlic scapes pushing up through the straw, the smile of a baby growing into a toddler. What do I miss on the days I do not stop to greet the world?
This morning is already shifting. Rain has given way to birdsong and patches of blue sky. The pot of chai has topped off our tea cups twice, and I can hear Waylon’s breath steady and deep in nap-time sleep in his hammock. It’s time now for breakfast, to get up and stretch, to go outside and finish preparing for our farm open-house later today. And through it all, it’s time to breathe deeply, to create the life I live with each expansion of my chest and each clearing of an exhale.