What If?

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.
Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
~Pope John XXIII 
Writing your own life story - “What if” ?
You’ve heard how your life is “an open book” or you’ve “closed that Chapter in your life”... I think those terms are apropos... our lives can be written, like a book, chapter by chapter.
The past cannot be re-written, but it can be recast in a different light by what we say about it now. 
And so it can be used to augment the story, just like the backstory in a book, to improve the outlook of now.
And most certainly the future can be over-written, designed, planned, outlined and edited. All the thrills and chills can be dealt with how we decide to deal with them in advance, so they don’t sway us from our goal. You take control then, for your own ending to each Chapter of your life. And, YOU decide when the end of a chapter is. (Make sure it ends at a good place, when you're at your best, when you've turned a corner, when you're about to launch, right?)

I wish I had a picture for you. Well, my search for one was futile, so maybe someone else can elaborate this time... 

My favorite (the best ever) writing coach, (Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com) says to ask these questions in planning your plot so you stay on track with how you want the story/chapter to end:
“Will X happen? How Will X happen? What if I do this with X?
Asking that simple question leads to so many other important questions: what is the characters goal? how is she going to achieve it? what obstacles are standing in her way? what is at stake if she doesn’t achieve her goal?
Even if this sounds obvious at first blush…it’s always good to look at things from multiple and even simplified perspectives.  This question-posing technique, in particular, can do everything from conquering writer’s block to putting your story over the top in terms of its dramatic potential effectiveness.
And, just as critically, it might rescue you from a mistake you weren’t even aware you were making.”

Hmm, that seems important when you are considering how to write the outcomes of your own life story!  Does that work?
I would use this perspective to consider what your goal(s) are, seeing how they fit in with the direction things are currently moving.
Create an outline or flow-chart, of how you would LIKE things to work out, IF things were to magically move into place over the timeline/deadline you decide for reaching the final destination/success.
Working backwards from that place that says ‘the end’ , what and where are the mini-goals have to happen to get there. Outline the steps it will take to reach each of the mini-goals.
What has to happen before you reach X? What options or paths will get you there?

This is where the magic happens: Your “What if?”, (dreams) become “Why not?” (goals)!

Of course in every great story there are obstacles and unexpected turns of events and twists in the plot that stymie the main character... the same is true, too true, for the rest of us too. Considering yourself the main character in the story of your life, you can decide how the character reacts to those, right? Does the character (you) break down or get even or stand tall with grace and pull yourself up by the bootstraps?? IF so, what changes occur then in the character’s inner person and personal life, and life path? 

Oh so many questions to ponder as we go about this arduous and enlightening journey of our lives....
This way your plot is the beginning, you live through the middle, and your life will be affected by the outcome at the end.
What will your character (you) look like at that point? What will you be doing?
How does "the end" go again?

I really want to know what you see for yourself at the end of this chapter ~ and at the end of this story!
Tell me...

Goals are Dreams with a Deadline!

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” - John M. Richardson, Jr.

Making the jump into setting goals seems like a scary thing to do sometimes. Just because you dream doesn't mean they have to become goals, but if you don't expand your sights toward your passions then what's the point of all this breathing?

I’m Not Ready for goals or deadlines, I’m still playing with my dreams. Dreaming big and visualizing what I want keeps me going right now. They are like a seed of hope for me, something that says the future will be better, and that I will have some say-so in it. 

Also it’s better for my psyche than listening to political news or watching sit-coms...

Recently I  signed up for a newsletter and ‘lessons’ from Cornell U. on the topic of “beginning farmer”. Seems lots of states are getting into the swing of these new 'small farm' pioneers ... Illinois, Minnesota, NY... they all address this quite prolifically with practical help, links and articles. 
Anyway, the lessons are pretty simple, just to help define your interest, then fine tune that into workable plans and goals. Nothing too intense, but it’s a framework to get ideas and priorities sorted.
Now, I like dirt, but I don’t really want to be a ‘farmer’. Crops per se, are not that interesting to me. [This property in a rural subdivison wasn't set out for farming- bad well water, too much wildlife, junky trees & stumps all over it, clay soil - and no tools to work it at all -or protective fencing.  I tried/experimented for 5 years, and I know that if the grasshoppers don't get it the deer will. And nothing thrives with this water, it just survives.]

But there are so many other types of 'farmy' things to look into. 
Especially "cottage industries". You know how many women have etsy shops selling homemade soaps? LOL, yes, like that!

Of course I am interested in raising what we could live on in hard times, and what we like to eat that is super easy to grow. I want fresh eggs, an orchard, and herbs on the deck... but that's not enough. 
One day we'll be too old to work and I want things running along without much input from us. Things will have to function smoothly, and reliably too. 
Oh I know that's a long hard road to go, 20 years of work ahead to get there (and then I'll be OLD)!

So I'm looking at the big picture, not really planning for THIS property per se. And that is an unanserable question right now. (We've been fighting to keep our place, but the battle isn't over yet). The point is:
First you dream big, then take out what’s practical and focus on those until every minute detail is determined, and that takes time.

For now, I'm investigating everything! From raising cows to pinning down things a chef couldn't resist, or what might attract families with kids, or what others produce that I might make something of more value FROM. Or things which I could provide to other producers (like chefs) so that THEY are the ones adding value to it. Whatever it takes so that my/our workload would be simplified and not demanding in hard labor by then. 

Also, if all you do is grow plants in the ground, then you aren't prepared for catastrophic events, like bad weather, or if you have chickens and they get killed off by a bear... there goes your income! You HAVE to diversify. Also, a full time job on any one thing- would be BORING!
My life is more about art than plants or produce, but there are ways to combine them that I can take advantage of. Things that will attract buyers and other producers.
But the main thing is finding ways to sustain ourselves far into the future.

My idea is simple: anything I take up would need to be complemented by something else so that the whole system, though diversified, relies upon another and adds to the other thing. A circle if you will. A sustainable circle.
For instance:

idea 1) raising trees for profit (lots of possibilities there) and raising a specialty crop between them (like alpine strawberries which are a specialty and seasonal item) alternating with sheep (raised for meat and wool)  which fertilize and keep weeds down around the trees and make better growing conditions for the specialty crop when the sheep are pastured elsewhere. They all take and give to the other.

idea 2) a rabbit hutch with rabbits (raised for FUR -I couldn't easily kill my cute animals), will produce poo pellets that sustain a worm box that is located just beneath it- which provides highly fertile castings/soil for something else- perhaps exotic and mainstream MINTS (did you know there's a chocolate flavored mint?!) Which are pretty much non-maintenance plants that are prolific growers.

And if you grew them (first in pots with that good soil) then in gravel (on a tray with shallow water running over the roots), you can reuse that water for raising fish (koi and or tilapia- both in demand) and it circulates constantly then between the two products (saving both water and labor). And somewhere in there you grow a little feed for the rabbits. A continuous circle that's manageable!
And if one of those things has a bad season or doesn't work out, you use another thing until you find the perfect pairings. Maybe mints are not enough of a crop, maybe edible flowers could be added to that equation...

idea 3) I'm gathering ideas that take "plain" items and dress them up into something that makes even more profit. They call this "VALUE ADDED".

Like you take a soft cheese roll- mozzarella or goats milk/sheep's milk cheese - decorate them in edible flowers brushed with gelatin to make it all shiny and pretty like a shimmering jewel), and it becomes extraordinary and special, for special events (picnic baskets, Mothers Day brunches, Valentine or shower gifts...)

Or imagine sunrays shining through beautiful corked bottles of honey, colored oils, and vinegars, all infused with fresh herbs and berries. (Yes, I’m picturing this picture across the top of my ‘farmy’ website!) Things that draws people's eye and make them drool. Add some free recipes - a contest for a free apron or something- who could resist? LOL

Oh there are just too many fun creative ways to market everything that I can't resist it myself... I could talk on them all day long! I even dream of a market store on the side ...  Perhaps a Country Arts Store where every farmers’ wife contributes her crafty wares and goods and specialty items (and art).  

Oh that’s a far, far, cry from where we are right now. 
How about some pictures so you'll see what I'm talking about?

-with cactus here and there... watch your step!

Here on this property, I'm afraid only goats would work out  - and there's fat chance I can convince my husband to go for that - whether it's meat goats, hair goats, or milk goats - no matter. Unless it's one personal milk goat just for me. And getting started in that, without good fencing, is too much for me to attempt by myself. (You also have to breed the animal to continue producing milk, and what would I do with twin baby goats then?? Because you KNOW that it will have twins...LOL

Goats are crazy - into everything and climb everything. Because of coyotes, bear, and mountain lions here, we'd need a good guard dog or a llama to guard them. That's already some big changes, and too much for me to comprehend how to do alone and handle.

Same with chickens- without a big guard dog, and a shotgun, a bear or mountain lion would decimate a coop in one night. Unless you had a really secure one. Like our tool shed. Or a train car.
Yes, I do walk around with shed envy... 

So really, all I'm doing is dreaming and scheming for the "one day" or the "what if". It's not really planning. The thing is, it's thinking out loud about securing our future and that's better than just letting life happen to me. 
The biggest mistakes of my life were about letting Fate take over. Life over-ran ME that way. 

I'm stuck right now... we can't do anything on these dreams yet.
But I have alternate plans in place, that I can work on for now; I have all these "artsy-crafty projects" in the fire already. My Winter work.  And if they sell (as I'm praying for)... then I have plans already put into place to move ahead on my can-do agenda.

First a horse and a nice black Australian stock saddle and some calfskin boots to match my pearl-trimmed hat.
Because whatever we end up doing, I’m going to ride my horse around inspecting it like a peacock strutting... 
Oh yeah, about peacocks... 

Are you making time for your passions, are you considering what ways you can use them to your advantage for a more secure, happier or more fulfilling life?