If you’ve ever had a dream of making a difference in the world…
Today I’d like to welcome a guest post by Cathy Payne, of Our Natural Life. Cathy and her husband Jon maintain this site together where they translate their love of natural living by doing weekly podcast interviews with individuals who are active in the sustainable, holistic, and health communities.
Started in June of 2008, they have hosted fantastic guests such as Dr. Thomas S. Cowan, founding board member of The Weston A. Price Foundation and author of The Fourfold Path to Healing, Kimberly Hartke, Weston A. Price publicist, of Hartke is Online!, Ann Marie Michaels of Cheeseslave, Jimmy Moore of Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb blog and podcast show, and Zachary Adam Cohen, creator of Farm To Table blog and television show.
The Paynes have dealt with their own health challenges, like many of us. Yet, they have conquered those issues by embracing a traditional diet of real food, and turned those difficulties into experiences that have altered their way of looking at life and the world around them – and can pass testimonial on to those who might be looking for the same answers.
Recently they made a life-changing move: they left the city to find fulfillment and solace in the country. After being city-dwellers, they decided their hearts and minds were set on finding a farm and making it theirs – to become food producers in the natural way. This is Cathy’s account of what her life was like before that decision changed their future.
Gail Sheehy, in New Passages, writes that “Each of us tells our own personal life story to ourselves, every day.” I believe that our thoughts and words create our lives in powerful ways. I agree, with Sheehy, that we “create our own plot line.” And itʼs never to late to revise and rewrite it! As a woman who has lived 57 years and rewritten the script a few times, I can speak with a bit of authority.
One year ago, in October, 2009, I was a stressed-out suburban teacher living in a beautiful 5 bedroom, 4 bath house on a cul-de-sac. Why stressed? As a support teacher I worked with the students who were “challenging.” They were diagnosed with autism, behavior disorders, ADHD, asthma, encupresis (look it up), learning disabilities, and more. In meetings I heard mothers testify that their child was perfectly normal until they got a certain round of vaccines. I also heard tales of asthma, hives, skin allergies.
While it was not my place to advise parents of diet or medical care, when asked for advice I did volunteer information about decreasing sugar and adding cod liver oil to a studentʼs diet. However, the school was serving up a diet of GMO processed food, up to 3 starches a meal, and with heavy doses of HFCS, food coloring, and preservatives. In addition, the school state required parents to give their children a full dose of vaccines or withdraw them from school. Parents were not informed of their right to opt out of this requirement. Seeing children, their families and teachers suffer, having little control over the situation, and working under a heavy paperwork load became to feel like a burden. On top of that our governor ordered 3 furlough days, requiring teachers to take time off work without pay, reducing our salaries.
It was on the third furlough day that I suggested to Jon that we take a weekend off. Nature’s Harmony Farm was having a fall tour and farm celebration, and it would be a perfect break from our usual routines. We found a bed and breakfast in an historic home not far from Elberton. It would be a romantic getaway before Jon left for an extended business trip.
Jon and I had discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2006. We got involved with the group, connected with local farmers, and began eating farm-to-table. Pretty soon our weekends revolved around farm visits, farm pick ups, and farm events. We made an effort to visit most of the farms that were producing our food. We were happy when a new farm, Nature’s Harmony, offered farm tours. Our ﬁrst tour was in October, 2008. At that visit we did an interview with Time and Liz Young for our podcast. We were very impressed with what they had accomplished in a very short time.
Back to 2009, we enjoyed another tour along with a farm-to-table dinner and bonﬁre. Enjoying the fresh air and scenery at the B&B and at Natureʼs Harmony, Jon and I found ourselves saying things like, “It’s so pleasant out here. So peaceful. Wouldnʼt it be nice to live like this?” The lightbulbs went on, we looked at each other, and the conversation soon turned to, “Why not?” We had no children or dependent parents holding us back. I could retire in a year or two. Jon worked from home. We were both in good health. Why not buy land while prices were low, rent it out, and learn how to farm?
Well, things moved much more quickly than we believed they would. The Universe conspired to support us in ways we had not imagined. Within 11 weeks, we owned our small farm. I turned in my notice to school and applied for retirement June 1. We have now been farming for 4 months and learn so much each day. This is a hard, demanding, and richly rewarding life. Weʼre learning one set of routines at a time and then adding layers upon layers. Weʼve sold livestock born on our farm and made sales of duck eggs, produce, and dog treats. Weʼre now giving our own farm tours!
Whatever stage of life you are in, and whatever your dream may be, you can also turn it around. I believe that it is important to follow your passion and let your work be your play. Whatever you believe, you can achieve. Itʼs never too late to live your dream!
Words of wisdom and inspiration to live by! I am so grateful for people in the world who recognize the importance of living a simpler life, with emphasis on valuing the natural ways, and are able to go and do it. It gives the rest of us who want to do the same something to hope for and work toward.
In the meantime, we may not have a homestead or a farm (yet), but we can see the significance of living in harmony with nature, make strides to live clean and eat sustainably, and spread the infectious message of a healthier existence amongst all the people we come into contact with..now that’s making a difference.
I’ve had a dream very similar to this for the last few years, and sometimes I think it’s very far away…but then I’m reminded of how powerful dreams are. When you make something a priority and a goal, anything can happen!