This post is in partnership with Joseph Carr Wines. They have invited me to share my journey and to celebrate it with a glass of wine.
It’s 1:30 a.m., and I’m sitting in the rocking chair I built last winter next to a roaring fire in the woodshop, drinking a glass of wine, listening to the rain outside and looking at the bookshelf I just finished building across the room.
My thirtieth birthday is this week. I’ve done my best to pack as much life into the past 29 years possible. I have a few regrets, but also a whole lot of hope for the next chapters. I’ve traveled the world, worked on fishing boats, behind bars and computer screens, started businesses, failed, and tried again. I picked up a few hobbies and turned them into my livelihood. I’ve reinvented myself multiple times in multiple places and built new lives from the ground up in each new locale.
Seven years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on my favorite bench playing my mandolin on the waterfront in Taiwan, where I was living at the time. I was sure exactly Who I was and What I was going to do with my life. A recent university grad with a degree in International business and a solid grasp on the Chinese language, I was going to be a business tycoon, traveling Asia and making money I couldn’t even have imagined as a poor kid growing up in rural Montana. I was going to live in a high rise in the city, with every modern convenience, and dang it, I was probably going to be famous too. What. A. Joke.
My adult life has been a hilarious dichotomy, a constant struggle between my insatiable ambition, wanderlust, and the discovery that, in fact, I was not built for city life, board meetings, business plans or untold hours in front of a computer screen, I was made to live on a farm, surrounded by a close knit community, working with my hands.
Every year, life has sped up. This past year seems to have gone by especially fast. That might have something to do with the fact that I did more this year than I did in the six years prior combined. I built my dream woodworking shop between 7pm when I’d get home from work and 2am when I’d fall in bed dirty and exhausted. I shored up walls, became proficient with a sledgehammer, pulled wire, hung insulation and sheetrock and hung lights. I quit my job and went full time working for myself. I traveled to Europe twice, crisscrossed the US teaching and speaking, attending conferences and building relationships. I milked goats and trained donkeys and planted the biggest garden I’ve had yet. I found a soulmate kind of friend and we built a tiny house together. I built shavehorses, barn stalls and outdoor kitchens, whiskey cabinets and writing desks, workbenches and tool chests. I carved spoons and turned bowls. I forged tools, knives and hinges, welded table legs and steel frames.
In 2014, I started a business that failed miserably. There are a lot of reasons why, lack of self-discipline, poor business planning, high overhead, and an as-yet unidentified struggle with anxiety and depression that was getting out of control. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. I was too “busy” for everything I know to be important- family, friends, animal snuggles. I laugh about that feeling of “busy-ness” I had then, now because I cannot, for the life of me, tell you how I was filling my time. I was working twenty hours a week, had a couple pet bunnies and a few raised garden beds. No kids, no debt, no real responsibilities of which to speak. Today, I’m running a business. I’ve got a four acre farm, a half finished tiny house, a 5,000 sq ft garden, 50 animals, I’m writing a book, building furniture and releasing videos and creating social media content like there’s no tomorrow. Do I sometimes get overwhelmed? Yep. Exhausted? I might as well get tattoos under my eyes, these bags are never leaving. But I’m not busy. I’ve realized there is no truth in the statement “I don’t have time for…”
I’ve tried to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. I’m learning to reframe my thought process to understand where my priorities lie. If I don’t have time for something, it’s because I don’t value it enough to make time for it. I have learned this year that I am capable of infinitely more than I ever thought before. I have a finite amount of time, but even now, am only utilizing a fraction of it productively, and that is exciting to me. As I look toward year 30, I see a whole lot more dreams being realized. I see my business growing and the scalability of my projects increasing. I’m immeasurably grateful I get to live on a farm and build awesome stuff and hang out with so many truly incredible people. I’m proud of the success I’ve found by 30, not in the financial sense, but rather in the “figuring out what’s important” sense. I’m willing to reinvent myself as many more times, learn any more skills I need to be able to live in such a way that the way I spend my time reflects my priorities: building community, being available to family, actively engaging my body and my mind, and being able to stop, smell the roses, watch sunsets, bake pies and indulge in miniature donkey cuddles because Buddy, that is the stuff of life.
It’s now 2:30am and the fire is dying down as I sip the last of the cabernet in my glass and get ready to call it an evening. I love this #sharethejourney campaign Joeseph Carr is hosting and am thankful they’ve given me the chance to sit back and reflect this week. My 20’s sure were a wild ride, and I expect my 30’s to be even better.