It’s been two years since I sat down at a keyboard and wrote anything meaningful. 2 years of triumph, of extreme sadness, and of simple change.
I asked myself where and how to begin again and I asked myself if I was even the same person and the answer is a resounding NO.
So let me ask you something very raw and very important — are you the same you were two years ago and have you intentionally worked towards growth?
Whether you’re reading this in 2021 or 7 years from now, I think that question will always ring true. It’s one we can even ask our children… “how have you grown and matured as a person in the last 2 years?” Because in the end we can’t just end our existence with the years zipping before our eyes and then regret that we didn’t intentionally use them… Pandemic or not.
I remember two years ago. I was just about to turn thirty and I remember feeling an overwhelming feeling of needing to make sense of the life I was living even recounting that “I do deeply feel the seasons I am living… I want to live the kind of life today that allows my seasons to show through very honestly. And I want to teach my children this too. Our experiences help define us, they shape us, and those hard seasons of life are written into who we are.” (Read more below)
And just 6 weeks after I sat down to write that and after I turned thirty I went on a 4 day long sabbatical, as I like to call it, where I spent time completely alone. I learned about rest, about the fullness of grace, and about being so much more intentional with my life.
I taught myself to crochet on that 4 day trip. Why? Because I felt like most of the skills I possessed were basically theoretical. What if the internet went down? I would have nothing to show my kids that I had done or accomplished. Nothing to pass on to them or teach them.
So do I really think that’s going to happen? No. But my father was a radioman during the Vietnam War and he regularly talks about how even though his division was imperative and of utmost importance, it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s gone. Obsolete.
So I have realized the life I was living was on the verge of being obsolete if I didn’t live it more intentionally, building more meaningful skills to pass down through the generations and more concrete life in the margins of my time.
I look back at 30 year old Kara and the pain she felt. Not knowing that the world would be flipped on its head just a few short months later.
In the meantime, I have had a miscarriage, a traumatic move out of the house my two boys were literally born in, another pregnancy, and move into what we hope is our forever home.
We seem to be in a good place now.
A place where despite the pain and trauma we have faced and despite things not going how we would have planned them, there is rest, contentment, and yes — intentionality. However I hold these things loosely — for I have learned that I am not in control.
Are you tending to your life? 2019 vs 2021 and beyond
I look at the life ahead of me and the life behind me and sometimes ask myself how did we get here? And where are we even going? We went from 900 square feet in the Boston Metro area to a multiple acre farm in New Hampshire. We went from daily monotony to somehow having a sense of what it means to tend to life.
The life we were living in 2019 was so unsustainable. I was burnt out and even my husband this week was talking about what a waste of time it is even getting ready in the mornings that he actually has to be in the office.
We simply spend our time differently now. We really put our focus on building family.
In building family that means talking about our faith together more fully, spending quality time with each other, learning with each other, and building something that matters — a life worth living, no matter societal circumstances.
So we shifted.
We don’t watch TV, but maybe a movie here or there or some sort of DIY video from a YouTuber or something so that we can learn new skills. We actually eat around a dinner table. We spend time together even when it’s not necessary, like running errands. (But there are conversations there and that means something.) We work from sun up to sundown… I like to say my husband takes care of the outside animals and I take care of the inside “animals.”
…And we rest.
We intentionally rest and know that if instead of seeing each evening as a time to unwind, that we save a day at the end of the week to Sabbath we can not only get a more meaningful rest, but it’s also more rewarding and fulfilling. As a family we can see the blessings of God and as humans we can feel satisfied more fully.
In moving to a farm, we realized just how satisfying it is to have animals to care for. And you really start to understand what it means to tend to yourself as you tend to plants and animals.
What does it mean to tend to yourself?
My 4 year old can really proudly tell you what it means to be alive. He will tell you that all living things need air, water, food, and typically sunshine — and that all living things die.
So as we tend to our animals, we make sure they have what they need, including appropriate shelter. We help them when they are hurt. And we try to ensure they live their fullest lives knowing that it is a part of nature to die too.
Same with plants. We ensure they have water and good soil, harvesting when we know it’s just the right time and being thankful for the time they’re with us.
People really are no different.
- If we tend to ourselves we are giving ourselves not just adequate food but also nutrition.
- We plant ourselves in an environment (like soil) that will allow us to thrive.
- We hydrate ourselves, both physically and spiritually, because 70% of our being is too much to neglect.
- We get outside to connect with nature and not spend our days tied up inside.
- We build our hope on a foundation of faith so that the fears and worry of the world do not overwhelm us. We have a shelter that is stable and reliable.
- We know through the seasons of our lives the times to sow, grow, and harvest into our own physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
- We don’t just ignore when we are hurt or if a project on our literal shelter needs to be accomplished. We know ignoring it will only make things worse.
- And we rest.
We must tend to ourselves now and in the coming years.
So where are you going? What’s your trajectory?
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!