We’re going back to the future. Back to a time when we knew what was good for us. Back to a place that served us well and where we flourished and grew strong. Back to New Mexico. The first time we decided to move to NM was in November 2008. I was suffering from biotoxin illness (the same as right now), we didn’t know anyone at all where we were going, and me and my children would be alone for an unknown number of months before Dom would join us. We were penniless, all our belongings were gone, all precious things I held close to my heart; destroyed. My life was destroyed. Moving to New Mexico was something I knew deep in my heart that God wanted for us. Not moving meant certain death for me. A hint that it was God wanting us to go to NM was the fact that I did NOT want to go there. Nope! Nothing in the deepest parts of my being wanted to move to the desert. NOTHING! I hated the thought of going to natures largest kitty litter box 2,000 miles away from where I was currently dying. I was born for the call of the ocean and the deep abiding sounds of the forest.
But, trusting God, we took deep breaths, blocked out all the naysayers who thought we were crazy for leaving the east coast and got on a plane to a place that I never in a million years thought I would ever come to love.
Dom and I took a road trip to Idaho not long after we were married, and THAT was my land flowing with milk and honey. That was the place I wanted to call home. Up in the Idaho panhandle straddled between Bonner’s Ferry and Sand Point, was my nirvana. Never before had I ever felt such peace and joy being there. It was heaven to me. Who knew?! We traveled the northern route from Pennsylvania all the way to Washington state. I had just been released a few weeks earlier from the hospital, and we wanted to see if being in a drier climate would help my health. We couldn’t stay in hotels or motels because of mold that usually exists in the heating/cooling units, so we made our way across the country in a conversion van.
We often smile recalling the events of that trip. We didn’t have a honeymoon, and I started needing to be hospitalized about 7 months after we got married, so even though I was frail, it was an amazing road trip. As we traveled through each state, and as the climate started to get drier, my breathing began to improve. I don’t even recall all the medications and steroids I was on at the time, but I do know that by the time we were in Idaho I didn’t need to take a rescue inhaler.
So why don’t we move to Idaho? Good question! Simply put, it’s where I want to be, but not necessarily where I belong. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but as much as I’ve always dreamed of living in Idaho, I don’t think it will ever happen. It’s kind of how I wanted to move to Nova Scotia to be on ancestral land and really dig deep into my family history being an Acadian. I wanted it. We (Dom and I) wanted to be near the ocean and close enough to visit family on the east coast. Maine was a good in between for us. Although it is pretty far from family in NY, at least it wasn’t in New Mexico…or Idaho.
Being on the ocean in Maine was a dream come true, and then a nightmare! I didn’t contend with mold in Maine. The buildings we lived in were up off the ground and had good circulation. I’m convinced I would have thrived in Maine without any biotoxin illness. But it wasn’t where we were supposed to be. I know that now. At every turn on the east coast, we have witnessed death encroaching upon me. Just like prior to living in New Mexico in 2008. Death in many forms can teach me about the life I can live fully if I return to the place that God had chosen for us. That is where I belong. That is where I grow strong. That is where blessings overflow and life springs forceful and abundant.
It has been a costly lesson. If we continue to live here stubbornly believing that we can make it work, I risk my life. So back to the future I go! Back to a life that gives me a future, and hope. A place where I learned to farm the high desert and learned about my calling. Back to a future of good health and well being. And it’s not just my well being…
For most of Dom’s adult life he has dealt with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In the beginning of our marriage, every winter like clockwork, he would move out and leave us. Was I angry? No. It was very scary though not knowing if he would come back. He always did. He would hit a massive depressive state where he would retreat into himself, not wanting to talk with anyone. He would run far away from me into this dark place where he couldn’t even express himself. We didn’t know at the time that he had SAD, I just knew that I married a man who was kind and loving, and then would disappear into himself quietly. Like a ghost walking around, he really just disappeared, until, he would just leave altogether. Gone. No apologies, no excuses. I didn’t know how to help him. He was never unkind during those times, he just wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear. I gave him the gift of being able to do that, understanding that something was happening that had nothing to do with me or us.
When we moved to New Mexico, I expected that in the fall/winter of 2009 he would leave again. He was finally able to find a job in NM and join us there about 6 months after our family moved there in 2008. But, he didn’t leave. As a matter of fact, he was actually smiling, happy, filled with hope instead of dread. He was talking. You see, Dom is an extrovert who enjoys being around people. He’s the bright spot in a room full of people. You can’t help but want to be around him. That part of him always disappeared when we lived on the east coast, and for the first time after 5 years of marriage, he didn’t leave in the winter. He and I could have our morning conversations, and drink coffee together, and spend time together.
I didn’t question it. Honestly, we never thought about how depressed he used to get, and I no longer had knee-jerk reactions to impending winter. I felt safe. Secure in the knowledge that he was actually happy and wanted to share his thoughts with me.
The pain of seasonal affective disorder seemed lost in the history of our past until we returned to the east coast. In the fall of 2015 something started happening. It felt so familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it. He started retreating into himself in October. He lost that soft fluid look in his eyes and it was replaced with a cold almost soulless stranger. It happened almost overnight! And then it happened…
We had our first world melting historic fight. We had NEVER fought before. We have never fought nor do we ever bicker. I know it seems weird to think that a married couple could go years without arguing or fighting, but we don’t! There is no back and forth arguing, no bitterness ever, no spiteful attacks, no negativity. Our life was built solidly on emotional security. So, this was an EPIC fight we had, and it is the only one we have ever had. Dom snapped at me like a hungry dog backed into a corner and I lunged back at him to hand him his ass. That was my knee-jerk reaction to this situation.
When the dust had settled and we both apologized for our horrible behavior towards one another, it dawned on me that we were heading back into winter and we were on the east coast. I started doing the research to see if there was a supplement that Dom might be able to take to help him through the winter, and it turned out he was deficient in Vitamin D. We learned all there was to know about having a Vitamin D deficiency and how it can affect certain people during the winter. It was then that we realized that the reason Dom did so well through the winter in New Mexico has to do with where we were living.
In order to make Vitamin D in winter, your geographic location needs to be at about 33 degrees north latitude. We were at 34 degrees north latitude in NM but we were also up at an elevation of 4,800 ft. in Los Lunas. He was able to make Vitamin D naturally all year. When we moved back to the east coast, he couldn’t make Vitamin D anymore in the winter. He has been managing his deficiency by taking large amounts of Vitamin D not only in winter but throughout the year.
We will be moving to Reserve, NM which is at an elevation of 5,800 ft and is at 33 degrees north latitude. He will once again feel good in winter and be able to make Vitamin D on his own.
Going back to the future is good for both of us. I’m excited to return to our home state. As costly as this lesson was to us, we will be returning home wiser than when we left. We now know that because of my mold allergy and Dom’s Vitamin D deficiency, New Mexico was a state handpicked by God to heal us and make us whole.
Lesson learned. Our hope is to be in Reserve before the end of this month.
Dom and I have been married for almost 14 years now. Before we became romantically involved we were great friends. We were vulnerable, soft, caring, and compassionate to each other. Professionally, it served us well as raw vegan chefs running our own catering company and later starting an organic CSA. Working together is a gift we share with one another. It is a pleasure each moment we plan, conspire, build, and complete projects. It was like that in the beginning of our relationship when we built a solid foundation of friendship, and that friendship has endured and grown ever stronger with each passing day. It has also given us the unique ability to work well with others who are open to real friendship. It has become so ingrained in us that it just naturally flows out to those around us.
We have always been soft towards one another. Being soft requires strength, courage, and bravery. Emotional safety is the hallmark trait of remaining soft in any relationship, regardless of whether it’s a marriage or a friendship. It means that we can be honest with one another without fear of reproach. It also means that when things get hard in life, we don’t turn against each other, biting and gnawing at the other’s very being. It means that we don’t accuse the other of nefarious activities and unpure motives, mention past offenses to open old wounds or gush on about how much we do for each other as if that is a justification for any type of bad behavior we might be exhibiting at the moment or as a way to manipulate the other person into submitting to our will.
No. That is the behavior of someone with a hard heart. A hard heart breaks easily, is offended often and is annoyed at the slightest provocation.
Have you ever gotten something stuck in your finger, like a piece of glass or splinter? If it doesn’t get infected and we don’t remove it, our bodies will begin to create a hard casing around the object to keep it from harming us. Like an internal callous, these objects can be physically felt and rarely hurt, but they are there nonetheless. They are a constant reminder that there is something foreign under our skin that we have not removed, either because of fear of pain, or sheer laziness. We can often remember just when that piece of glass entered our bodies and have stories about how it happened. We recall it easily and remark at how clever our bodies are to be able to keep it encased.
We do that with emotions and hurts too. Emotional hurts and slights become encased in bitter feelings and emotions and lodged in our hearts and minds like a shard of glass. We put layer upon layer of excuses and justifications to wrap it up tight, and at just the right moment we tell those who have harmed us to feel the bump they caused. “Feel it!” we say, “See what you did to me and all I ever did was try to love you…this is what I get in return.” We become hard. Our softness begins to dissipate, and it becomes increasingly difficult to get through the cohesion of hurt and hardness.
Dom and I don’t live this way. We never have. Staying soft when things get hard is a lifestyle choice. It means that you won’t put up defenses because they aren’t necessary. It means that he can say what is on his mind and heart, and not be criticized by me or judged harshly. If he feels I have hurt him, he can tell me without fear of reproach. I can hear him say the thing that hurts him most and offer the most loving thing I have to offer…a soft heart. There is no pride to protect, no egos to overcome, no scorecard or *one-up-manship*, and no need to defend myself when he says I have hurt him. And vice versa.
When couples are able to practice being soft and malleable, it makes it possible to face hardships that come at us. Our marriage is steeped in hardships! Not towards one another, but because of different circumstances.
We have been homeless, penniless, friendless, family-less, very sick and often very alone. One thing we do have is a softness to each other and those we come into contact with.
Softness has nothing to do with demeanor. We aren’t pushovers, nor can we be easily crushed. We are soft even in the face of great adversity.
Right now as my health declines, Dom is frantic. I’m physically weak and become out of breath just walking from one room to the next. I wake him up at times wheezing and coughing at night, and all the life is draining from my face and body. It has set him to panic mode, where he alone is now responsible for not only working 7 days a week, but also packing up the house, cooking dinner at night, cleaning dishes and doing laundry. He is doing it all while I sit weakened, emotionally vulnerable and always on the verge of tears.
He could destroy me right now. He could beg that even though I am unable to take a bath without extreme effort, I should try to do more. I can’t though. This is what happens to me in moldy houses. I begin to fade away, vulnerable and emotional. But he doesn’t destroy me in these times. Does he get upset? Hell yeah. Is he upset with me? No way! We have been through this situation so many times that it’s completely predictable. Most people fear the unknown, but when it comes to dealing with my health and mold, we see it clearly. Mold is the enemy…not each other.
There is no need to get upset with each other or take it out on one another. He understands what is at stake and has always been my protector, my shield, my everything.
We have had times when I was so sick that I needed to be hospitalized, and then coming out of the hospital after 3 or 4 weeks in intensive care, would come 3-4 weeks of home care. He would have to quit his job to care for me because I can’t even move. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened while we were living on the east coast in the early days of our marriage. Through it all, however, he has always maintained a soft heart.
Dom’s softness has often been confused with being “happy-go-lucky” and “roll with the punches” but I can assure you that is not who he is. He is deeply mindful of the emotional needs of others. He excels this way. I, on the other hand, have a very soft heart but a rugged exterior. My softness doesn’t seem apparent until after you have known me for some time.
We compliment each other well. This is how we have survived as a couple over the last 14 years. We have been dealt some pretty nasty blows over the years but as a team, we have faced those challenges head-on and it has made us even more bonded than we already are. People we have met and shared our story with have often commented on how strong we are, or that they don’t understand how we are still married, but I can say with all candor that it is our softness of heart that gives us the strength we need to endure life’s hardballs.
Hardballs can be anything from needing to get rid of everything you own because of mold, to being hurt by the selfishness of others. That happens a lot to soft people. But we don’t become hard to endure their abuse, we simply choose not to be involved in the lives of those who would harm us emotionally or try to manipulate us. Easier said than done sometimes, I can tell you that much! People are complicated creatures with their own set of values and rules. Not everyone comes equipped with a soft heart and luckily we can see that while developing friendships and make decisions about how close we want to become to others.
Hardballs hurt. They leave marks in the flesh that we don’t easily forget. We flinch at times remembering a past pain or traumatic event, yet, we stay soft. We stay resilient.
Our lives are rich and full whether we are in good health and have a house full of treasured belongings, or if we’re homeless, sick, and left destitute.
We’re ready for a good change. We don’t know yet how it will all happen, but we trust that God is in control and will make a way for us. He is the ultimate reason our hearts have remained soft through all these years.
Life is good, even when it disappoints. Love is real, even when despair causes our hearts to weep because of an unknown future.
We are soft, even when things get hard.
What do you do when everything gets put on hold? Now that the greenhouse is on its side and secured to the post, we need to repair it and secure it back in place. I need to step back and take a deep breath, not becoming discouraged by the slowing of progress on the homestead.
I’m sure in the future there will be many more setbacks to make us gasp, cringe and feel demoralized, but I believe the most important thing is to keep moving forward. Letting go of what has happened and making way for new plans helps build momentum in our lives and keeps us from becoming stagnant.
Dom went to get all the supplies this weekend needed to secure the greenhouse as well purchasing the shelves needed inside.
I’ve been laid up in bed since Thursday, first with horrible aches and pains in my joints and muscles from holding the greenhouse from flying over the fence for about 20 minutes, and then on Saturday, my lungs started to get heavy and give me problems. It sucks when I need to be on the nebulizer gasping for air, or if I get up to walk its like I have bricks in my lungs.
I know that my lungs and our sinus problems (which seem like having a cold) are due to sand and dirt being forced in during the wind storm. Yesterday I thought I was coming down with a cold (Dom too) but I know now its our bodies trying to get all the dirt out. I’m coughing up sand and dirt from my lungs and each time I blow my nose, a little more dirt comes out.
I need to find ways to turn our mini disaster into an opportunity for growth.
So, what would be a good solution to our greenhouse dilemma? Well, while I was laid up in bed, I realized that we could put all the shelves together and start a good amount of our seeds out in the unfinished utility kitchen. A few things need to be rearranged and poof! we could start our peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes and some other seeds that really should be started indoors.
Back up systems are essential to any good working plan. Three is usually the magic number in any situation, but it couldn’t hurt to have more back up plans right? I Didn’t come up with alternate plans in case a disaster struck like 65 mph winds ripping our greenhouse out of the ground because I didn’t think the winds would kick up this soon…I thought we had a little more time to finish.
I did, however, go out and check on all our fruit trees. The apricot trees and our baby peach tree have blossomed and the nectarine trees are about to blossom as well.
The other thing that was accomplished this weekend in spite of the greenhouse was to begin moving forward with our commercial kitchen.
So far we’ve estimated our start up costs to be around $5,000 for equipment, permits, licenses, plumbing, electrical work, construction costs, and materials.
That’s just an estimate and of course a low ball figure, but I think its pretty close to what the figure will be. It’s an amount we feel we could handle if we needed to take out a small loan. They say that what ever estimate a person comes up with to double it, and still $10,000 would be acceptable to us. Not more than that though.
The photo to the right is of the very easy to read book on how to start a licensed home-based baking business. For anyone interested in starting their own commercial kitchen at home, I would definitely recommend this book. The author Quincella C. Geiger gives great tips, suggestions, and the step by step process on getting the ball rolling. She even provides check lists, talks about how to price products, and if you don’t want to bake anything, how to be in the food business anyway. It will only take a few hours to read it from cover to cover, and even though its simple to understand, its filled with very useful information.