Start where you are

Well, we all have to start somewhere when we write. I used to be a  prolific writer of poetry, prose, and articles. I don't think I've written anything of my very own in 15 years. I spent those years in a variety of Interesting, Exciting and even Prestigious jobs. Because of my love of writing, I was excited to write letters and speeches for congresspersons in DC. I wrote piles of draft legislation and policy analysis for another five years. I had fire under my feet to help constituents and drive policy. I was like a cute character from a Frank Capra movie, but my brain was worn out by an Aaron Sorkin environment. Then I went into PR, where I continued to draft, edit, share and disburse many hundreds, if not thousands, of nicely-written documents. Few ever had my name on them. Press releases, white papers, articles. All for a boss or client, in service to their widgets and profit margins. I even won some awards! For widget articles and defeating social policies. This was a nice/lucrative career trajectory, and, in fact I was quite successful until I burned out. Part of what fried me (and ultimately my health) was that I let my mind and body go fallow. I was simply too preoccupied with my behind-the-desk lifestyle and demands to write or properly care for myself. I tried to quit quite a few times, daydreaming of community service and a satisfying job where I could be myself and somehow make a living. Every attempt failed because I didn't know where to start, and scarcely knew who I was. I knew what I cared about, but I also knew what I had to do in order to get by. I couldn't seem to make those worlds sync. I'm sure a lot of you can relate in your own way.

I'm starting this blog three years after I changed everything. It's taken me a long time to sit down and write. Largely because of the reasons above, and ultimately, because it took me this long to get to know myself again. School, career, bills, divorce, health issues, family transitions, moves and new faces take time to absorb. Sometimes, as I noted, we go fallow and don't even realize it.

I'm turning 40 in a month. I just became the owner of an old farmhouse in Washington and it has lots of room for planting. I've decided to plant an orchard.  I never saw myself as an orchard-planting type of girl, but I also never thought I would be an artisan cheesemaker in WA (two years and counting, with three national awards)!  This parcel of land, once an early Duvall homestead, has also gone fallow. Now that I've righted my ship, I want to plant something that lasts. Something that will be here long after I'm gone and will continue to nourish and calm those who visit it.

Just like managing the old clutter in my brain, there is a lot of work to be done before things start to grow. Tear all of this old garbage pile out. Solarize the soil so I can tear the grass out. Till. Amend the soil for ideal orchard pH. Plant the trees. Build taller deer fence. Try to keep it alive and healthy. Say goodbye to some trees that don't make it. Wait ten years for a good harvest.

It will be a lesson in patience and gives me an excuse to write again. Let's grow this orchard and share some meals together.

Future orchard site and daunting debris pile, Dec. 25, 2014