Ocotillo blossoms in our backyard.
April is my favorite time of the year. Dried up prickly ocotillo cacti turn into lush, green (prickly) spires with their bright orange pops of color reaching for the sky, declaring the end of winter. 

The desert begins to blossom. Shades of brown and muted greens suddenly fill with orange, purple, yellow and red. Tiny hedgehog cacti peek out from beneath rocks, their red blooms drawing in your eye. 58 varieties of wildflowers are blooming in the desert this month. People who say the desert is dull, boring or even ugly have never really Seen the desert. Not like this. 

Poppies in Lost Dutchman State Park

The White Temple, Chang Rai, Thailand.
Ah, the nest. I signed up to see some tip about table settings or something while planning my wedding a few years back, and now, every few weeks I get a totally off- base list of things that are killing my relationship, low fat recipes and design tips for houses I could never afford. 

Normally, I ignore them. I was bored enough at a work meeting today that I opened it. I scrolled through the usual semi-insulting articles and then clicked on one entitled "10 Things Everyone Should Have by 30." Having just turned 29, I was curious. What important items do I have less than one year to acquire?!

Here's how I stack up:
1. A Piece of Art: It goes on to clarify that this does not mean a poster or print of something like Starry Night. This one, I've got covered. I think. While I still cannot afford an original piece of art, a canvas that an artist's brush actually touched, I do have prints of unique pieces from several artists. I have a gorgeous lotus print from the artist that designed the White Temple, an unbelievably intricate piece of art itself, in Thailand (I admired them the first year I went there and second year I returned to the temple specifically to buy a piece). There's art I've created, and many other prints I have bought at fairs, etc. Someday I would like "real" piece of art, but that is not going to be in the budget any time soon.

This edition of the Grow Write Guild is about planning a dream garden.... This is easy, I've been doing it for years. 

I suppose I’m kind of a practical dreamer when it comes to my garden; to sum it up, I want a garden that almost totally feeds me. Like 90% (gotta leave room for the goat cheese and occasional take out pizza).

I want to look out my kitchen window and see waves and layers of all shades of Green. Tomatoes on the vines, squash hiding under all their leaves, ready to be discovered, beans climbing up a teepee. Chickens pecking around the garden happily, fertilizing and eating all the pests. I dream of a small orchard of fruit trees, heavy with fruit. An abundance of grapefruit in the winter to make mint-grapefruit mojitos with, figs, peaches, and of course the radiant pomegranate tree we already have.  Spring is ushered in when her first vibrant red blossoms appear.

The front yard would be an herb garden. We would have fenced in the front yard so it would feel like a little country oasis. I would grow every type of herb I could order out of the seed catalogues. Even the ones that require a few years growing time for the roots. I would walk out front in the mornings, when it is still crisp and cool, and harvest herbs for the day in a basket. Smelling the lavender and mint as I brush past them.

There would be many rain barrels and (most) of the water we need would come from the monsoons and be stored for the rest of the year. There would be a large 3 compartment compost bin, separated neatly by found and recycled pallets.  Worms in the garden, bees in the air.

And all of this would happen in the desert. :) It is possible, but very, very difficult. That’s why it’s still just a dream. 

On the night of my 29th birthday, I went to bed early, and I cried. 

No, not because I'm getting older and I'm scared of the impending gray hairs. But because birthdays are a concrete way of marking the passage of time, and it has been several birthdays now that I said I would make changes. Several birthdays since I first knew I wanted to leave teaching. And now I'm scared, terrified, that I will be forced into "one more year," again. 

The thing is, I really have no solid plan. I have a dream. I Hope to start my business in the fall and be working on that while I substitute teach part time to make money. I hope that this also affords me time to work in my garden and spend time in the sun. But What If. Those terrible little words that end the dreams of so many. What If it fails? What If I can't even get it off the ground? What if I can't find a job and I end up working at some fast food job I had when I was in high school? My husband gently replied,  "Maybe you need to move slower, take your time setting this thing up. Can you wait one more year?" No. I can't. 

That night I had a dream. It involved a car with no floor and a thousand foot drop below me, not having my phone/GPS and not knowing how to get to my destination and to top it off, the car was a stick shift and I couldn't drive it. I struggled along, barely making it. But when I woke up it became clear: If I had a map, it would have been easier, if I had known how to drive the car, it would have been easier still. That's what I need, then: A road map- plan of action, and the knowledge I need to be successful- learn everything I can about starting a business. 

I don't want to be paralyzed by fear. I don't want to trick myself into thinking that staying at my job is my only choice. It will be a daily challenge to overcome the obstacle of my own mind. 





Today I turn 29. One year before 30, that's what 29 is. It doesn't really get its own celebration because I am already looking forward, beginning to feel a sense of urgency to do all of these things while I still can, while I'm still  young enough to get away with it, or at least forgiven for it. And beating  myself up over all that I have not accomplished, comparing myself to the person I thought I would be at 30 and am not. It could be a rough year.

So I've decided to set some birthday intentions, in this year before 30.

  • I will finish the 3rd and 4th garden plots. What happens after the plots are dug and seeds sowed I cannot predict, so all I will commit to is digging them.

  • Launch my business officially. Again, can't predict the outcome of this either, all I know is I have to try.

  • Commit to a daily yoga practice.

  • Find some consistency in my eating habits and feed my body what it wants, not what my emotions tell me. Eat more home cooked meals and less spur of the moment junk food.

  • Find some peace in my professional life, and feel that my work aligns with my passions and goals.

This year I will need discipline, commitment and perseverance to make these things a reality. But I will also need to learn to trust myself and my intuition, especially when it comes to my work life. Of course, I believe that this is the hardest area to trust my intuition in, because bills and bank accounts are so concrete and real, and our intuition, while real, often fades away into the background.

I have a gut feeling that this year is going to be big. Real big. Permanently life changing big. By the time I hit 30, I suspect I will be a very different woman.


    About Me

    My name is Melisa (but I go by Wren) and I might be a little crazy. I decided to quit my solid, respectable day job because I missed sunshine. And because I have had this nagging desire to control my own destiny for as long as I can remember. I took a leap of faith into a new life, starting from scratch.

    This blog is documentation of our experiments and adventures in creating a more sustainable, self-reliant urban homestead and crafting a happier, more meaningful life and career.  

    I dont know what this journey holds, but I hope that the winding path ahead includes yoga, bright colors, herb gardens and goats. 


    April 2013
    March 2013


    Grow Write Guild
    Work In Progress