My parents were musicians when I was growing up. My mom wrote a recipe book/memoir Called Road Tested: Life and Recipes and in it she says, “we moved 49 times in 32 years.” During some of my formative years we lived for the longest time we lived anywhere as Back to the Landers in Newton County, Arkansas.
What’s a Back to the Lander? My folks bought 40 acres of land with my uncle, built an 11 sided log cabin, stripped all the logs by hand, cut the road in by themselves, made the floor out of stone, cleared the land for fields, and dug a well for water (after consulting a water witcher with a dogwood stick shaped like a Y).
We lived in that area of the country for about 6 years, most without electricity, phone (we had a party line for a while), or running water (I was the running water, with two buckets to the well and back). My mom canned all of our own food out of a one acre garden on a wood cook stove, and we went to town once a month for the things we didn’t make for ourselves.
It was a beautiful time.
I milked the cow and goats in the freezing cold at 5 in the morning with the steam rising off the milk. We made butter out of the cream and ate buttermilk pancakes with real butter and maple syrup. We washed laundry on a washboard and sometimes in the creek. For a while we had one of those wringer washers outside in the yard, and yes I have wrung my hand through that thing before. I hauled the water and took care of the goats, sheep, and chickens.
When I was ten my dad gave me a guitar and told me to learn a couple of songs. We started playing music as a family band at and amusement park in the Ozarks called Dogpatch USA when I was about 12.
Six shows a day, every hour on the half hour. Because we lived so far out and it took an hour and a half to ride the bus to school in the morning, my parents decided to homeschool us during that time. The money we made from playing music went to pay for our school books.
Having that experience gave me a true appreciation for how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I am to be able to eat some of the cleanest, best food on the planet, and how grateful I am to have time to run, bike, work in my yard, or do yoga to keep my body healthy, and how grateful I am to be able to choose things in my life that contribute to my mental health.
I have done time in the Air Force (straight out of high school), 12 years as a stay at home mom to four sons while pursuing an English degree and homeschooling my kiddos, an entrepreneur (10 years with a downtown day spa business), 24 years as a massage therapist, and now I am a single mom after 27 years of marriage. I’m a registered nurse, I teach continuing education to massage therapists, and I talk to people about raw food, emphasizing balance in our lives through food, exercise, and meditation. It’s a process. I’m not always where I want to be with my food or my work/life balance (is that an actual thing?). But I know that my life is better when I pursue these things.