being brave

I've never thought of myself as being particularly brave, but lately people have been telling me that they think I am.  I guess the fact that I quit my job and moved 600 some miles from my husband, my house, my pets, my garden and my (old) life, all in order to chase a dream does sound like a brave thing to do.  Or maybe a foolish thing, depending on your point of view.  But what's my point of view?  I'm smack dab in the middle of things so my transitional life doesn't feel very brave, and except for certain nights when I can't sleep, it doesn't feel very foolish, either.  It just IS.

What are these dreams I'm chasing?  Well, for one there's this little farm that my mom and I are working on starting.  We're doing it in a bit of an unusual way.  My dad still lives in the Chicago suburb where I grew up, in the same house where my parents moved when I was a baby.  He and my mom, sweethearts since grade school, are still very much married.  My husband, to whom I'm happily married, too, still lives in our house in Cleveland.  So, at the farm, it's just us girls.  For now.  We moved here at the end of last summer; I was here full time first and then later in the fall my mom joined me.  We got our first crop (garlic!) planted, but held off on other things till the spring.  Now we're doing lots of planning.  We've placed orders for our baby chicks and a few ducks and the trees for our orchard. We're planning the seeds we're going to start and figuring out where everything is going to go.  Our property had no tilled land or barn or anything "farmy" when we got here.  So, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

The overall goal is to live a more sustainable life.  To be directly responsible for nourishing ourselves.  Perhaps that's a brave thing to do, but, the way I see it, it seems like a sensible thing to do.

But the farm venture isn't the only dream that I've been nourishing and bringing to fruition.  I've been developing myself as an artist.  And yes, I'm using that term now.  I was scared of it in the past, but hey, in honor of bravery, I might as well embrace it.  Of course, I have fears.  Sometimes lots of them.  I question what I'm doing.  I question my talent.  I fear naivety.  Am I too scattered?  Not focused enough?  Is it a bad thing that I don't have a business plan?  Am I too informal and disorganized?  Shouldn't I have a job?  Shouldn't I have an income?  Isn't it foolish to be using up our savings?  Should an adult woman really be relying on her parents quite so much?  Living with her mother?  Do I listen to the fears and let them affect how I live my life, or accept their presence and just keep going?

An amazing thing happens, though, when I'm following an inspiration or tinkering with an idea.  All those fears, worries and questions dissolve into nothing.  If I am a self-taught artist and crafter, then this time is my education.  It's an investment in my future.  An investment in myself.  I am grateful that my parents are helping me to do this and I am grateful that my husband is helping me to do this.  It's brave to take a leap like this.  I guess you're right.  It really is.  I could fail horribly, but really, failure is all about perspective, too.  Maybe my Etsy shop will never make it off the ground, but at least I tried and in the process I've been learning A LOT.  I know that if there comes a time that I decide to close my Etsy shop, everything I've learned from the experience of starting it will have paved the way to my next endeavor.

I do have so many ideas and dreams and goals.  Some are clearly defined, but others are still a bit unformed and foggy.  Like unfinished sculptures or the first brushstrokes of a painting.  I'll need to work with them, work on them for a while before they take shape.

So here I am, working on those dreams.  Following my inspiration.  Choosing, not the safe path or the expected path, but the path of my heart and soul.  Is that brave?

I think that taking risks and doing the courageous thing requires passion.  Passion makes it possible to push through our fears.  It's like armor or a shield or an extra dose of vitamins.  Thirteen years ago I moved to Cleveland without a job, without any sort of plan at all, so that I could create a life with the man who would later become my husband.  Maybe not the smart choice, but the passionate choice, the choice of my heart and my soul.  It worked out.  We made it work.

The truth is, I don't know what I'm doing.  Not just in my art, but also in my life.  I don't mean it in any sort of flip way.  I don't mean it in a false-modesty-fishing-for-compliments sort of way, either.  I just mean it as the simple truth.  So many of the things I'm doing are things about which I don't really know very much.  They're things with which I don't have much experience and no training.  Some things I've read about and some things I haven't even done that much.  But I DO them.  So many arts are learned by doing them.  So I guess I'm learning.  Do I know what I'm doing?  No.  Do I know what I want to be doing?  Yes.  I guess that is brave, too.  Don't over-think it, don't worry too much about lack of knowledge, just DO.  Just leap in.

This blog is part of my education as well.  It documents it.  But it also is part of the work.  The writing.  The photography.  The reaching out to like-minded individuals as well as to real life friends and family.  It will grow and evolve with me, but I think it will also help me to grow and evolve, too.

I recently started reading a book that I'd been waiting to get from the library.  The Gentle Art of Domesticity caught my eye at the bookstore.  It's written by Jane Brocket, keeper of the blog Yarnstorm (I'd never heard of her or of her blog before).  It's a beautiful book and I can't wait to delve into it further.  I'm savoring it and haven't gotten past the introduction yet, but what spoke to me in the intro was her invitation to try, her wish that her book inspire others to take up new arts, her contention that there are no right or wrong ways to go about the "gentle arts" and that doing is the only way to learn.  This was such a reassurance to me.  And I want to say to all of you that not knowing what you're doing (not knowing what I'm doing) is the right way to be doing this thing we're all doing.  This life.  This art.  Do you have a dream or yearning or secret passion?  I say, DO it.  Don't wait till you know how.  Leap in.  Join me in being brave.

I'll end this post with thanks.  Thanks to those of you who are reading my words.  Thanks to those of you who encourage me in my journey, either through comments here or emails, actual in-person conversations or on the phone/skype/ichat.  Thanks to those of you who inspire me and help me to believe in possibilities (there are even more of you than I've mentioned).  And thank you, most of all, to my parents and to Matthias, without whose help, none of this would be possible.  I'm really excited to see where all of this will lead.  And maybe in addition to passion, excitement is quite an effective antidote to fear.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. It´s inspiring. :)
    I love your photographs (the composition, the light, the stories behind them) and I´m seriously considering taking up knitting thanks to your showing your creations. The concept of self sustaining is really cool.

  2. There is so much to take in on this post and I don't have adequate words to express how I feel, other than to say: I love visiting yours and your Mum's blogs. I can feel your enthusiasm and passion and it really fires me up with hope too! I have ceased trying to be a perfectionist and I show my art (yes, I am not afraid to call myself an artist anymore)and I am trying to free myself from the restriction of what others think of me. Carry on doing what you are doing Anne. We only live once and we have to give this life our best shot and do what drives us and makes our lives worth living.x

  3. You are following your dream, what could be more inspiring? There was so much passion in that post. It was a pleasure to read. Go grab it by the horns girl!!

  4. Oh Anne, I just want to reach right over the ether and give you a HUGE hug :) What a tremendous post! THANKYOU!
    Is there a "right" way to do anything? Do any of us truly "know" what we are doing? I would seriously argue that we don't!! And I'm glad of that!!...because then that leads us to being flexible and open to following our heart go where ever our bliss takes us.Because what is life for if not for this?
    You have filled my heart this morning with such joy and a reminder to keep following my dream into the great big unknown. Thankyou sooooo much XX

  5. Thanks so much everyone for your constant encouragement and kindness. And it means a lot to me, too, that I provide some encouragement and inspiration, too.

  6. You ARE inspiring, Anne, and brave.
    It took me until I was in my 40s to dare call myself an artist. I'm so glad you're doing it earlier. You are an artist with your painting, your needlework and your writing. There is a quote "Feel the fear and do it anyway." I think you embody the message of that quote with what you are choosing to do with your life. You and your mom are two of the bravest people I know. I really do admire you.

  7. What a beautiful and inspiring post. I think so many of us dream, plan and wish but fail to take action. It's so great that you are taking action and living your dream. I love reading your story and seeing how your journey unfolds.

  8. Thank you both, so much, Judy and Julie. I so appreciate your encouragement.


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