When Your Whole House Fits in the Car

When Your Whole House Fits in the Car

 “A home is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic celebration, even if by celebration I mean that you couldn’t keep your eyes open past 10 and blissfully slept your way into the new year.

The day after Christmas we took a road trip to buy three Stout Overland 5000 Bell Tents. We purchased them from a man who owns a glamping business at the Grand Canyon. Brand new, these tents cost between $1,200- $1,700 each. They are four seasons and each tent has a stove jack for a woodburning stove.

On the right is a photo of what bell tents look like when they’re all decked out. Each of the tents is 16 feet in diameter and the center pole height is about 10 feet, which is great for Dom since he’s so tall.

Our original plan was to create a series of hybrid tent cabins to live in, but after we finally added the cost of each tent with canvas, lumber, and other materials we would need, the cost was around $850 per tent to create. That was WAYYYY out of budget for us.

As I was looking through craigslist for tents, I came across an ad for three bell tents. The price was hard to pass up, so Dom and I decided to purchase them. The look is very different than what I had drawn out on paper for our tent cabins since I wasn’t thinking of creating round tent structures, but it will work just fine.

The bell tents take only about 30 minutes for a person to put up, which is FAR less time than it would have been for us to build the foundation and frame and then sew the canvas for the top.

By choosing these tents, we have saved ourselves a lot of money as well as time. You can’t go wrong with that great combination.

The man we purchased the tents from also threw in two more tents for free to use as spare parts for our tents, but he said that if I’m creative enough and can mend the other two tents, we’d have five. I’ll be examining the two extra tents to see if they can be salvaged. If so, we will use them to create one of them as our kitchen, and the second as our living room/dining room. It will be a house of 5 tents.

Our coffee company will also have its own tent and it will be the only tent with full power for use of my computer, Agnus, and some of the electronics and lighting I use when I’m working. This tent will also have a work area for Simmi to create her jewelry, art, and school work.

Dom and I will have our own tent, and Simmi will have her own.

We’re pretty excited about how everything is coming along. Next week we will start the process of mending any small holes or tears in the tents, prepare the location for the tents, and start going through our things to see what we don’t want to take with us.

As we think of everything that needs to happen before we can move down there, we’re estimating that we won’t be living down there full time for at least two months. It all depends on how quickly we can get certain things accomplished.

We have electric and well water, but we still need to get a phone guy out there to put in our line.

I love how things are evolving. I also really love that we don’t have a mortgage or looming debt hanging over us! Dom and I had a discussion about forest fires which happens frequently in Gila where we are. We love that if we needed to evacuate the area, we could empty the tents, and take them in the car with us. It would only take an hour or so to get them all collapsed and put into the car. That is a HUGE weight off of our minds because when you live in an area that is prone to fires, losing a house can be devastating! If we lost our belongings we would still have tents to live in. How cool is that?!

The land is currently covered in snow, and we’re supposed to get more snow through next week. It’s the perfect time to go over each tent to make sure they don’t have any little holes, rips or tears. I do need to reinforce some areas, but until I get each tent out and all the areas marked that need repairs, I won’t know what I need to complete each repair. It might be a patch kit, or I might need to get a used duty sewing machine. The sewing machine I have has a hard time sewing the binding on a quilt, so I wouldn’t even attempt to make repairs using it.

I’ve never worked with a round space before, so it was a little difficult for me to conceptualize how everything would fit into each tent. I wanted to have everything to scale on paper so I knew what would fit, what would still need to be made, and what we need to get rid of or store away for when we build our house.

In a room that is square or rectangle, it’s easy to draw furniture and walkways into a room but when you’re dealing with a circle and the ceiling starts out very low and works its way up to a 10-foot height, things get a little tricky. So I created the size of the tent to scale on paper, and then each piece of furniture was cut out to scale as well. That way I could manipulate where each piece would go and it would show me just how much room we had to walk around.

When I worked on Simmi’s tent, she didn’t quite understand how her bed and shelves were to scale, so I found an ephemera cutout that I use in my art to be Simmi and placed her on the bed. That seemed to work for her and then she saw just how big her tent was.

In Simmi’s tent, she will have her bed, two small nightstands, and a series of 5 or 6 two-tier shelves. These will hold all her prized possessions and clothing. She wanted a larger table and two chairs for her and her friend to do activities like arts or crafts. We will most likely get a small portable propane heater for her tent, but we are still unsure. I am uneasy about having a woodstove in her tent. She is old enough to have one, but if we did allow it, it would need quite a bit of “mama reinforcement” otherwise I’ll be up all night wondering if a stuffed animal got too close to it, or she put her clothing a little too close to the stove.

I go through at least a hundred scenarios in my mind of what could possibly happen when an 11 year old has a woodstove in her room. A propane heater is more appropriate. Where we live right now there is a propane heater in her room, but she doesn’t go near it. We only used it a few times last winter, and since then got another heating source for her room.

I could be completely overreacting to the heating situation. I just know she’s fascinated by fire, and when we have the woodstove going (which is nearly 24/7) in the main part of the house, she’s always hovering around it, sitting by it, and enamored with the glow of the flames. She can’t help herself. What kid can, right?!

There will be no electric in her tent, just a few battery operated lanterns for light. We’ve played with the idea of putting an electric heater in her tent, but I really don’t want any electric in either of the tents where we sleep.

The tent in the photo to the left I’m still messing around with. This tent is more of an idea since we don’t know what shape the extra tent given to us is like. We would need to build a new dining table (ours is way too wide) but our chairs can all be used.

I have other drawings, but I’ll post them at a later time.

There have been family concerns as we’ve started to discuss our master plan. Dom and I seem to be the family pioneers, doing things that aren’t typically done by our extended families. We don’t know anyone in either of our families that has ever lived in tents while building a house. It seems so….primitive.

But there aren’t many families that set out with the goal of not having a mortgage either. Or a non-electric house. Or limited types of technology because of my sensitivity to different types of motors in both sound and electric magnetic sensitivity.

But here we are! On quite the adventure. On Facebook, youtube, and Instagram I have found many families who have lived in tents during the years of building their farm and home, and those who have chosen to live in RVs. Anything to avoid paying rent and utilities in one place, while trying to build a home or infrastructure in another.

I often think those who are carrying more than one mortgage or paying rent AND a mortgage must be so stressed out. Or maybe they found a better way.

For us, this is the best way. It’s healthy and freeing to reconnect to the natural world. I believe we as a people are far too disconnected from the “real world.” Nature is the real world. The changing seasons with its ebb and flow of fleeting light in winter and extended shine in summer all play into the health and well being of us as humans. We are so disconnected from the sun, spending most of our days inside at work or in our homes. If we go out, it’s only briefly. We have come to fear the elements.

Living in fear is a poor use of our time and energy. We have this gift of life, and yet we hide away in dark homes or in closed up buildings all day at work. We are no better than animals in the zoo who have lost our true habitat.

We must not fear the unknown. We don’t have all the answers, but it’s okay not to know. We do not walk into this life natively, believing that nothing will ever harm us, or that we will never be inconvenienced. It’s going to happen.

Will there be bears and mountain lions? Yes. Are we aware that they browse our property? Yes, and I’ve found bear scat on one of our walks. It happens to be exactly where we’ll be putting our tents. But wildlife has always been a part of the real world. The world we are entering. Learning to live with them and keep ourselves protected is important. I can tell you this much though, it isn’t like braving the wild real world of Alaska where grizzlies roam.

Being afraid of the real world should be a personal indication that you are disconnected. Reconnection is the cure.

Anyway, I digress!

Here are some photos from Christmas 2018- New Year 2019:

Christmas eve was filled with excitement and wonder. We think Simmi is secretly an elf (Like Buddy the Elf) because as soon as the weather turns cold in early fall, she starts singing Christmas songs and it doesn’t stop until after we put the decorations away. This is also a struggle since she would keep Christmas decor up all year if she could.

Even though the electricity from the lights bothers me, I deal with it because I’ve always loved white lights at Christmas. Simmi would have been upset if we didn’t have lights around the window too.

Christmas night Sara joined us for dinner. She always has something stylish to wear, from well-appointed unique hats to the lavishly gorgeous embellished suede and lamb fur coat. And lets not forget the badass boots that go above the knee. I know you can’t see those in the photo, but she’s sporting them! Sara will be moving onto the land sometime in 2019 with her three gorgeous horses.

This is Josey (Joseph) and Leaf.

This is Galeno the great. I gave him the last part of his name because he’s a fatty and likes to keep eating. Haha.

My girl in her silliness wanted me to take a photo of her new hair style. She was pretty pleased with herself!

A very sweet friend of ours, Wendy, gave Simmi water colors, paint brushes and lots of creative things for Simmi to do. Simmi was plotting for at least three days which one of Wendy’s gifts she would open first. Wendy did not disappoint! Thank you Wendy for all the love you put into make Simmi’s Christmas magical.

The first thing she painted was a horse. Of course!

Christmas night was filled with great conversation, awesome food, and lots of laughter.

By the end of the evening, I think we completely wore Sara out. Haha

New Year’s Eve was fabulous. We definitely drank a little too much wine that night! We also hydrated too with plenty of water. What? You don’t drink ice water out of a large wine glass? 😉

New Year’s day we woke up to a foot of snow!

Not a soul to be found on the roads!

From the weight of the snow, Sara’s hayport collapsed. After we had some coffee and breakfast, we headed down to her place to get everything dug out.

We had some help from a neighbor getting the tarps out.

Sara one of the best humans I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know. She’s a horsewoman and an extremely gifted writer. I’m creating a space on our blog for her to write.

New Year’s day breakfast. Ya can’t beat homemade flatbread, brie, grapes, and meat.

Josey was sporting some icicles.

That face!

It’s been an amazing start to the new year.

 

A Dream Realized and a Hope Fulfilled

A Dream Realized and a Hope Fulfilled

“We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected, and meaningful. By choice, that is where we will direct our energy. When we do so, community will arise anew because this spiritual nourishment can only come to us as a gift, as part of a web of gifts in which we participate as giver and receiver. Whether or not it rides the vehicle of something bought, it is irreducibly personal and unique.” ~Charles Eisenstein

I have this deep calling that gnaws at my soul regularly. Each day that I am not moving towards my calling brings pain to my spirit. I have a dream that will be realized. I am called to the agrarian life. I am also called to bless others with my gifts freely and abundantly, and to lavish on those within my inner circle of friends and family, my unconditional love.

Who are those in my inner circle? It is those people who are aligned with my values and have a heart like mine. That doesn’t mean they are exactly like me in any way. They have a heart song that I recognize and embrace because we are spiritual kin. It is like deep calling to deep.

There are those who sing a song that sounds similar to my heart song, but by the end of the song it’s evident that the melody might sound similar, but the words are all wrong. They think they’re singing the same song, but you see, the song takes months to sing and they just haven’t invested the time to sing it the way their hearts needed to. Sounds cryptic, right?

It’s not.

Each of us has a heart song. Those who do not betray their own hearts or reject their own souls will find comfort in others who do the same. That is the heart song. We recognize it instantly. It is a song that you sing to others with your actions, your time, your intentions. Those who betray their own hearts and compromise their integrity recoil at the sound of a true heart song. Those who have denied their own beautiful song will be suspicious, cruel, withholding, cold, distant, all while still claiming to have a song just like mine. Their words and actions betray them. My love is anathema to them as they choke on their own betrayal and inability to break free from their overabundant pride. I have been witness to this throughout my whole life. It’s a part of the human condition.

Yet…

My heart is soft, so it doesn’t break easily. I keep it soft because others are too hard on themselves. My softness is a part of my song. But being soft doesn’t mean being weak. Weakness is a habit developed by those who have lost their way and compromised their integrity. Being soft allows me to fully recognize my desire to love radically. To give abundantly. To forgive freely. To follow my wild heart and search for home.

I’ve searched for home my whole life. No matter where I have lived, I’ve always made a home for myself. My husband is my home. My children are my home. Seeking deep connections with others who have a heart like mine brings me home. But my desire to set roots and be home has brought me to a new place. A place where I hear other heart songs sung unabashedly wild and free.

We started a new chapter in our lives recently. We currently live in a very small place and out of necessity we started searching for a new place to live. Even though there are only three of us currently living in this small space we call home, we also have grown children who, when they come to visit have no place to sleep when they stay over. Add to that the fact that I operate our coffee roasting business from this same space AND having the little storefront here cuts into personal space even more. Along with running a business comes balancing my time during the day homeschooling Simone. Some days she’s on the computer working with an online program, and the rest of the time she’s sprawled out at my work table completing the lessons of the day while I’m working on a customer’s order. Our space is very limited for what we need.

I’m also a hardcore introvert with a great need to recharge myself away from the presence of other people. That includes my own family. Introverts draw their energy from solitude and time alone.

Our current living space is not honoring my needs. I keep trying to make it better, and Dom will take Simmi out of the house so I can be alone and recover, but it doesn’t always work out the way we want.

In the process of looking for a larger place to live, we found a gorgeous piece of land we decided to invest in.

It is sacred to us.

There is great peace there.

It is a place where my wild and innocent young daughter can run free. A place where her feral heart can grow strong and soft.

With the investment we’ve made in the land comes the investment we’ve made with friends who have become our family in that very place. They are home to us. Our friendship was forged in our ability to be vulnerable to one another. We strengthened our friendship by hearing one another’s heart songs, and then we became family.

We’re home at last.

Over the next few months, we’ll be building our first home on almost fifteen beautiful acres. Located about 30 minutes south of where we currently live, this place of beauty stuns me everywhere I look.

There are unforgiving steep slopes, pastures, rocky paths and river beds. Rising up from the deep earth are sycamores and cottonwoods, willows and oak trees, evergreens and shrubs. Grasses and weeds reveal the splendor of a fertile and untouched land.

There are quiet places to recharge the soul, and gathering places to engage our hearts.

Time stands still here.

I’ve started planning our gardens, ordering seed, and designing our first house. It will not be our final house, but instead, it will be the business hub that we move into.

In past posts, I’ve mentioned that we want to build a house that doesn’t have any electricity and that includes conventional or alternative. The space we’re designing and living in first will have electricity in it. It’s the place where our businesses will thrive. My non-electric house will not be built until we have observed the land and find the best place suited for it. We do have an area that we adore, however, we need to live there full time and go through the seasons to know for sure where to build.

The business hub will be located in an area that is near the pasture. It will have our offices, art studio, fabric studio, a roastery, outdoor kitchen, as well as a become a Farm to Table venue. It all starts with that space.

It will (hopefully) be a bit larger than the space we’re currently in, but ultimately it will allow me to cultivate the land and get animals established prior to building our final home.

We’ll be living in our current house until we’re able to move into the new space. Unfortunately, we don’t have a good timetable for when that would be. We want to do it efficiently and inexpensively, utilizing the timber nearby as well as other free or almost free repurposed materials. I will be blogging about everything we’re doing on the land, but it won’t just be me blogging!

I’ll be adding new features to this blog, including new writers and artisans in our community. In future posts, I’ll share who they are and how amazing they are because there is just too much to say in one blog post. 😉

In the meantime, here are some photos of our new land…

This area we’re considering as the location for the business hub/temporary home. It is located near an open pasture to the left and two paddocks on the right. One of the paddocks will be used for small and medium sized animals, and the other for our garden. Each paddock is about 50’x50′.

The view from the first paddock looking north.

Simmi running past the second paddock.

A view north-west.

The western side of the property.

Beauty surrounds us.

Simmi’s favorite tree.

An opposing gigantic cottonwood tree stands guard at the entrance to the pasture.

The grapevines have decided to be hardcore and skip cultivation. They’re total badasses.

The pasture awaits larger animals and meat birds in chicken tractors.

This is one of the paddocks that will be turned into an intensive French potager garden.

There is so much to love about this place. It is a dream realized and a hope fulfilled.

King of My World

King of My World

“I want to do things so wild with you that I don’t know how to say them” Anais Nin

2018 has proven to be a profound year for me and we’re only halfway through the year. Our lives have forever been in flux due to my autoimmune disorders and severe environmental allergies to mold, but this year is of particular note. It was the year I ridiculously fell deeper in love with Dominic. I didn’t think it possible to love someone this deeply, and it scared me so much that I didn’t even know how to tell him.

I often think back to when we first met in 2002 and how as colleagues we enjoyed working together. It was a blessing to work with such a talented chef and healer. I would have never known back then that he would be the greatest love of my life. He has always been someone who encouraged and listened to me as if I were the only one that existed on the planet. The support he offers strengthens me daily, giving me the confidence to keep moving forward.

His unwavering compassion in the face of my ill health is everything to me. He loves me as I am, all of me. To be loved this way is a treasure. A gift that doesn’t seem to have an end to it. My life would be very different if he never invaded my soul.

I’m unsure how it happened, this new deeper love I have for him, but it rocked my world. You know how when you first fall in love, there is this infatuation and desire that can’t seem to be extinguished? It’s thrilling and exciting to look into your lover’s eyes and feel your heart race a little more as he/she smiles warmly at you. Well, I was disarmed this year and knocked over with this new wave of feelings.

In trying to express myself, I would start to shake, and then cry. I couldn’t get it out in a way that would make sense. I was a wreck.

Generally, when two people are in love, it’s kind of mutual…don’t you think?

I had to think about why I felt so emotional about falling in love deeper, and it hit me. Fear crept into me for the first time ever. I began to wonder if it could be possible for me to be more in love than he was. What happens then? Can one person be more in love than another? What does that look like? Self-preservation is a strong and devious advesary to deep lasting love and friendship, and I felt like I had some sort of self-preservation creeping up in my heart.

Self-preservation says to its selfish desires, “Don’t love too deeply or you’ll be vulnerable and exposed.” or “Only love as much as you are loved.” Self-preservation is something that Dominic and I don’t practice. Neither of us has ever felt the need to defend ourselves from one another or be on guard. And yet, here I was with self-preservation rearing its ugly head.

I put to death my self-preservation because it only leads to self-pity, selfishness, false motives, the need to be ‘right’, and the desire to further my own agenda.

Instead, I choose to fully accept this new deeper love I feel and lavish it all on him every day.

I thought this last move to New Mexico was going to break us emotionally. The traumatic events of leaving Maine three years ago broke us emotionally and stripped us of the ability to make sound decisions. We endured it together. Over the last three years, we have had to move a total of nine times. Most of the time it was because of my severe mold allergy or being electrohypersensitive. It didn’t break him, and it didn’t break me. This last move did the opposite; I fell in love all over again. He and I were exhausted, I had to recover physically from biotoxin illness, my lungs were not working right (they are still recovering slowly). We were (and still are) financially underwater. And yet, here I am stupid in love.

Beyond my own feelings of deep love and admiration for him, I feel he exemplifies what it means to be a father. He is always there for our children if they need to talk. He cares for his stepchildren as though he was their father from the day they were born. He stepped into the role of a father embracing my children as his own. They are his children even though they are not biologically his. When Simone was born, he didn’t emotionally distance himself from our other children but instead felt an even deeper bond to all of them.

He is their protector if and when they need him. He never pushes them or forces his beliefs on them. Instead, he gracefully loves them right where they are. His warmth, care, joy, love, laughter, positive outlook on life, generosity, and gentleness have had an impact on our children and I believe have even impacted how they choose companions for themselves.

I trust him fully. Admire him breathlessly. He is king of my world.

Happy 2018!

Happy 2018!

Another year has passed, and I’m thankful yet again that God has sustained me and kept me alive. I’m in very poor health and slipping further into illness as the days pass. We knew this would happen, I just wish it didn’t have to be this way. I’m becoming weaker, and continue to deal with extreme inflammation and edema. Dom shaved my head last week because my hair was so thin you could see my scalp. Ironic that shaving my head would help with seeing my scalp, right? Well, when my hair gets super thin I don’t look healthy at all. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not healthy going through allergic reactions to mold, but why look the part too. It really comes down to how comfortable I am and how much Dom can take. Seriously! Losing hair is a very itchy experience. It feels like there are bugs crawling all over my head and body. That happens because as my hair falls out in clumps, it touches my arms and legs and feels like bugs crawling. Beyond that is dealing with hair everywhere. On the floor, in the tub, in places hair shouldn’t be. I also can’t have hair falling into coffee when roasting or packing up orders. That’s just gross. Being bald works for me on so many levels, and Dom likes it too. So he shaved it off. 😉

I have my prescription for clearing my body of mold, however, I can’t take it until we are out of this house and in a mold-free environment. I hate that I have the one thing that will make me better, but I can’t take it. In the meantime, I am taking Oreganol, Oregamax, and fermented cod liver oil. They are helping somewhat with the inflammation and allergy, but they are no match for my immune response to mold. It’s only a matter of time before it stops working.

Our timeline for the move back to New Mexico is set for between January 15 through February 1. I hope it doesn’t go that far, but as it stands right now, we don’t have the money needed to rent a truck and travel cross country. We’ve factored the cost of our move and it’s $5,000 for the Uhaul, car trailer, gas, lodging, boxes, and food. We need to be careful of where we stay as we travel also because of moldy motels. Finding an affordable hotel isn’t easy, and if the air quality in the heating system for the room isn’t clean, I risk having my airways begin to constrict. Fun, right?

We need a miracle. Dom wanted me to put together a Go Fund Me page to help raise the money, but I’ve tried that for other things in the past and it didn’t work out for us…at all. We’ve sold some things that we don’t use anymore, and there are many household things we’ll leave behind here at the house, but it still doesn’t get us anywhere near what we need.

We’re in between a rock and a hard place. We know where we’re going in New Mexico. We can see it and almost touch it…but it’s out of reach to us. In a panic because of the state of my health, Dom is ready to just abandon everything we have own, jump into the car and go. Yeah, we can do that, but then we have a repeat of what we went through when we first moved to New Mexico in 2008. I’m tired and feel defeated. I don’t want to start from scratch again! I don’t want to leave behind all the beautiful things we’ve acquired over the last several years. We will though if it comes down to me being hospitalized. It’s almost too late at that point.

We have managed to keep me pneumonia free for seven years now. The last time I had pneumonia was in 2011 when I contracted RSV, a viral respiratory infection. I contracted pneumonia when we first moved to New Mexico in January 2009 because of mold in the house due to a swamp cooler. That was the last time I had bacterial pneumonia. They say that after seven years, you have a brand new set of lungs. I hope so! I need new lungs, or at least lungs strong enough to continue to handle the onslaught of allergic reactions I’m enduring here.

Dom is also ill, as is Simmi. We all go through cycles of illness where it gets bad and we’re knocked on our butts, and then we start to get better, but never fully recover before getting ill again. This has been happening since August 2017.

It has to stop. I’m tired. I just want us to be well again.

Every December for as long as we have been married, we have discussed what we want to see happen in the coming new year. We don’t do resolutions. Instead, we set our course, create goals, and set out to accomplish them. We’re not “New Year New Me” people. We set the tone for what that new year will hold for us. In December 2016 we said that we wanted 2017 to be the year of abundance. Dom laughs every time he thinks of that word abundance. He says, right, abundance… an abundance of trouble, abundance of MOLD, abundance of heartache, the abundance of physical harm, an abundance of betrayal, an abundance of insanity.

Were there good abundant things that happened in 2017? Yes, for sure! Buffalo Mountain Coffee Roasting Company was birthed in 2017 (technically 12/16), my computer Agnus was born in 2017 and NOTHING good would have happened professionally or personally if it wasn’t for our dear friend gifting us with Agnus. We received rich blessings financially and maintained deep connections with friends and family despite not having a phone to communicate for a full year.

In looking ahead to this new year of 2018, Dom wanted to be clear in setting the tone; abundant good health for he and I and our family, financial prosperity for us as a couple, fulfilling my calling as a steward of the earth in caring for animals and growing food for my community, and setting down roots in a town we can call home and serve faithfully.

It has been a very long and trying year. We are weary but optimistic that better days are on our horizon.

Happy New Year! May 2018 be a spectacular year filled with rich opportunities for growth and prosperity, and abundant in exciting new experiences and joy.

Closing the Next Chapter in Our Lives

Closing the Next Chapter in Our Lives

In mid December 2008 we began one of the most scary journeys of our lives. With nothing more than plane tickets and the clothes on our backs, we boarded a plane bound for New Mexico. We lost all we owned due to toxic mold contamination, and on more than a few occasions I nearly lost my life due to allergic reactions to mold which landed me in intensive care with pneumonia.

New Mexico’s dry high desert climate allowed my body to heal. We did still encounter mold when we moved into a rental, which caused another bout of pneumonia, but I was healing, growing stronger, and most important- I was not dead.

My children suffered greatly watching me go through losing my hair, being debilitated neurologically, partial paralysis at times, losing all their cherished and precious belongings, and being uprooted and moved thousands of miles away from friends and extended family. We quickly acclimated to the high desert and began restoring our lives back from the brink of utter destruction.

Losing everything to toxic mold is like losing everything in a house fire, or another natural disaster. There were times when I felt it was worse, however. With a fire or disaster, belongings are undeniably ruined and unretrievable. When you need to burn or throw away everything you own or risk contaminating a new home, that’s where it hurts. Many well-intended people in our family wanted to hold onto our things for us, our children wanted their things entrusted to other family members, and it broke my heart to watch them relinquish things so precious to them only to throw it all in the dump.

Musical instruments, precious blankets, clothes with special memories, photos, artwork from when each of them were just learning how to hold a crayon…everything was now gone. The mold was so advanced that there was no way to even scan the artwork to save it digitally. The artwork and most of the photos were all devoured by toxic mold and rendered unrecognizable.

One of the first things I purchased when we moved here was a camera to start new memories. Having everything digital and stored away in a cloud or on a drive somewhere was incredibly important to me. 20 years of memories were wiped away and I vowed never to allow that to happen again.

Dom remained on the east coast at his job, and actively looked for work in NM. It would take months for him to finally be united with us.

We believe that Simone’s neurological disorders and food allergies stem from being exposed to toxic mold from the time she was born. Her earliest years were spent being shuttled from doctor to doctor, specialists, geneticists, allergists, and neurologists. She too began to heal.

Here in NM, she had therapists work with her. Noah and Shoshie were also beginning to physically heal. When we lived on the East coast they would get infections, one of them got sepsis, two were on inhalers, and they had reoccurring infections. Every week they were sick with some sort of illness.

Here in the high desert, we all continued to heal.

In 2010 we moved to our current home. It was a time of celebration, of renewal, and of victory. We rehabbed the house, transformed different parts of the property, and began to garden.

We have made so many beautiful new memories here, and we feel so amazingly blessed to have everything restored to us that was once lost. Mid-July of this year would have marked five years in our home.

I’m glad that we get to close this next chapter of our lives because of our calling to the agrarian life, and not because we are running from mold, a disaster, or anything else destructive. Our lives are whole, filled with love and support, and we are strengthened and renewed as the new chapter in our lives begins to unfold.

Our story is now just beginning! Yes, for five years this space has been where I’ve discussed our plans, our triumphs, our failures, our heartbreaks, and our joys. Last year we felt the sea was calling to us. It has been an odyssey of emotion and soul searching, uncovering what we truly desired in life, and opening our hearts and minds to receive that agrarian calling with open arms.

On Saturday, June 20, we will be driving cross country to our new home and life at Darthia Farm. It is a manifestation of all we have ever wanted in our lives, and it holds fast to our spirits, awakening and reviving deeper parts of our souls.