Ah, Black Friday. In my old life, I used to LOVE you. I’d line up and get so excited about all that you offered and all that I would save by hanging with you today. Why I wasn’t focusing on how much I’d end up spending on you or the holes you burned in my debit card, I have no idea. Why it didn’t occur to me that what I was doing, trading my precious hours of life for dollars at a job I hated, just to be so easily parted from them by things like video games and big TVs I have no idea. That stuff just encouraged me to sit inside and get heavier… they sure didn’t make me happier. They made me a lot sadder in fact…. but yet, they somehow did manage to distract me from that for a bit with their flashy lights and sleek looks.
When I got married for the first time in 2008, man – talk about stuff rolling in! Dinnerware, silver, house decorations… stuff was landing in our newly purchased house from every whichaway. But what was I (and my very bestest and oldest friend in the whole wide world) SO dang excited about here in this picture above? What made these two girls grin so darn big in the face of all this other stuff? The fact that my stepdad had actually managed to find not just a magnet replica of the ticket of my first Phish show in summer of 1997, but also the t-shirt and DVD of the show that had all just gotten released from the vault. That show changed the whole course of my young adult life–it helped me find a way to travel a little on the cheap in the summers, meet amazing artists and musicians, and start to see the potential a young artist might have in promoting small bands with her computer graphics. That marriage didn’t last long, and being long since divorced–I no longer remember the dinner plates we were given… but I still have this ticket and DVD to remind me of an amazing experience I had when I was 18. It means the world to me. The shirt, of course, is way too big these days–but it is safely tucked in my bag of sewing gear… along with the skill of how to sew, which I learned on Phish tour too.
During the holidays in my old life, I imagine now that I would open every gift box hoping it would be something that would make me happy, because I was so sad inside. Would it be a flashy new thing that would keep me from feeling that so deeply? Or would it be something practical, like socks or clothes, that would just make me sigh and move on to the next box? I just found this picture yesterday… from Christmas of 2010 at my mom’s house. Now, let me tell you, that lady is the queen of giving me practical stuff. I can almost promise that this box was full of socks and thermal underwear. Because the daughter she cared about had just moved to a chilly mountain and rented a farm that she would need to keep her butt and toes warm on. Back then I didn’t understand it and I’m so sorry I ever felt this way mom, but it was a little disappointing when I just thought wanted something shiny. Of course, that said WAY more about me than it did about you and your awesome gift giving… but those socks and thermals did keep that butt and those toes warm to. On the many walks and adventures that helped her become the farmer. And these days, I LOVE getting new socks and thermals!!! I keep shrinking… and my farm life total shreds my clothes. Plus, they are gifts that encourage me to get outside… and not sit behind a screen or blowing things up via a hand controller. So thanks SO MUCH mom, for the adorable socks and toasty thermals (I’m wearing the electric blue ones you gave me year before last right now as I write this!). They are just PERFECT… and always were, I just had to change how I looked at them–that’s all!
We humans, we are so creatures of habit. And man, is that hard to break!! Which is why yesterday when the forager told me we were going to need more external hard drive space to store some of the things we have been up to here lately–I jumped straight online and started telling her about prices and options. She just turned and looked at me a little funny, like I’d missed something, and said, “Uh, well if you would be willing to help me clean off and organize the three we already have–we could save that hundred bucks.” Man, that lady just has some seriously slow and simple solutions sometimes. Which means that not only do I have a new empty external hard drive this morning, that didn’t have to travel to get here–I found a bunch of old pictures of me to sort and share with you too. And my heart almost stopped when I found another old picture that I had thought I had long ago lost. One of the very funny and amazing woman who would likely be my oldest and bestest friend today, if she hadn’t died tragically when I was 21. It shattered my heart into a million pieces. She taught me SO much about how to accept myself and how to begin to find my inner fabulousness by showing me hers. It took me years to get back there, to find my own fabulousness–but I sure do think she would like who I’ve become now. I think she smiles down on me as I think about her almost every day. I can hear her saying, “Gurrrrrrrrrlllll” or “FABULOUS!!!!” when something crazy or awesome happens around here. And finding this old picture to add to my collection of others I have of her–meant way more to me than a new shiny hard drive would have. And I so have my smart wife to thank for that.
Shortly after that yesterday, I realized we really need to flesh out this gym in the garden thing. I’m finding I love running on contour. I really love working out near the plants. So, I asked if we could keep adding to it and have a full on outdoor gym for season. And the forager seemed to think it was a good idea too. So we sat with our neighbor and talked about all the cool things we could add in–balance beams, rock piles to climb, jungle gyms, swings, ropes, pull up and sit up bars, places to parkour. We talked about how smart it would be to get a punching bag–since, you know, sometimes we work with ladies that are a little mad about some injustice in the world or abuse they are working to overcome. So… what did this farmer do? Even though she had just learned a hard drive lesson? Being a creature of habit… I hopped back online to see where I could buy one. Well, at least I went to Craigslist first this time to see if there was a second hand one anywhere close. Hey, that’s progress! It’s steps! And hoooo knew it, but there was one in Brevard listed that looked to have been collecting dust for quite awhile–so I emailed the fellow to see if he still had it, since the listing was old. He did! For once, I actually gussied up and figured… hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask if he would consider donating it to a scrappy donation based educational farm! Eh, he wasn’t so interested in doing much more than taking ten bucks off. Which is totally fine, I completely get the need to get compensated for something you spent good money on!! Folks can’t always afford to give something away, even if you offer to promote their business in exchange for it, and I know that so well too. But since I’d realized via research by then that I could have gotten a brand new one for that same price he was offering on amazon and filled it with my own sand from our pile, I figured I should probably pass. My smart forager picked that moment to speak up again, “Remember when I told you last year that street gyms use old tires for punching bags? I’d much rather have one of those. And I already have the bolts to make one. And I’m sure we can get a couple more old tires to add to the three we have and don’t know what to do with.” Whoa. That means its free! I won’t have to build a roof over it like I would have had to for a leather punching bag! AND it keeps them tires out of the landfill!! … how cool is that?! Man, that is going to go GREAT with my fancy new trampoline!!! Multiple function indeed…
Plus, it looks pretty bad ass! I think the ladies are going to love this one!
In permaculture class this spring, we got told to watch The Story of Stuff as homework at some point. And it leveled me a bit. I’d already seen this other one, about food marketing. I was so proud someone stood up and said what that awesome lady did. It was about time for one of us marketing folk to pull back the curtain on what we are paid to do. It took guts that this graphic designer didn’t used to have. I mean, having a former career in not just marketing and advertising stuff to people that don’t need it and can’t afford it–but also in teaching young folks in college how to do that too….I knew this all of this already. Yet, it sure does make me gulp to see it streamlined into a video. Yet, I used to still participate in it. Even though I had a ton of janky feelings about the whole shopping and consumerist system already. It was why I gave up graphic design for a good while and tried to pretend I hated it. It’s why I jumped ship on that career and started an organic farm. But really, its not graphic design’s fault. It’s not the stuff’s fault either. It’s what I was doing with it. It was how I was looking at it. It was how I wasn’t thinking about it. You can do good things with graphic design. You can do good things when you shop local or support certain things with your wallet as well. Cuz, don’t get me wrong, I have to buy stuff too. Things break and not everything can fixed or replaced in an up-cycled sort of way. I’m just making a commitment to slow down and try to find the right way for myself to find the stuff I need. To get more creative before I part with cash. Because now, just in the last 24 hours–I’ve seen that doing just that can save me some serious money if I do (I would have spent almost 160 bucks yesterday on that punching bag and external HD alone!). But it can also find me having an experience or warm fuzzy emotions over finding old things I thought I’d lost… like pictures of a really good ghost of my past… or me remembering the Story of the Ghost. It can find me seeing the potential in old things that can become new ones…. like tire punching bags. I just had to start looking at things in a very different way, and I’m wondering if today, some other folks can be inspired to do the same.
In the past, I wasn’t thinking about what was important. I wasn’t finding the right way to warm, fuzzy feelings. For me, these days, I find those come from being of service, from spending time with the people in my community, from making someone a gift or giving them my time, from having amazing experiences, from being outside, from finding myself enjoying some self care. Video games or getting a bigger TV on Black Friday simply never did that for me. And I’m not saying that it won’t help you or that you don’t need to go–I’m just asking you to think about it. To think about how buying stuff makes you feel and what you are really seeking out there today. Are you shopping today to forget about how you feel about how much you ate yesterday? Are you spending money on stuff to make yourself happy? Are you purchasing gifts for people that might rather just spend some time with you? Regardless of if you decide to go or not, please try to restrain yourself from punching someone or knocking down an old person for the newest and greatest plush toy for your kid. In my opinion, that teaches your youngins’ the wrong things y’all. An amazing human I know sent me an email this morning, mentioned Black Friday and that he wasn’t doing a single thing but tucking in and avoiding it, because he’d rather smash his thumb with a hammer than go. Agreed my friend, I feel the exact same. And I got one of them hammers at home already too if I get tempted.
Yet, I do find there are great things going on that you could show some support for, just by showing up or maybe even spending a little money! Did you know, this farmer also frames fine art? For an AMAZING artist she knows? Well, it’s true! I do get all cleaned up and make or frame art sometimes! And if you have any kind of desire to see the farmer in a dress… you should come out to the opening of that amazing lady’s solo show at Starfangled Press tonight during gallery walk! It’s located at 36 W Jordan St and is going on from 5–9. However, if you want to see the whole farmer in a dress thing, I recommend getting there in the first hour, because I have many a farmy thing to do first thing tomorrow morning! (Interested in who made this fancy flyer for Nancy’s art show? Hey now, that was me too! If you are interested in getting this farmer to do some freelance for your farm, food, art or music based business…. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have way more time for that sort of thing in winter! And, I try to keep my rates nice and low these days and will also take organic food trades from farms!)
And of course, there are loads of AWESOME local small businesses to shop at or non-profits to be donated to, Standing Rock to be supported, firefighters in our area that need food delivered, and soup kitchens that could always use more ingredients for their stock pot. So, today, I’m asking in the spirit of being thankful and in the season of giving… that you consider doing this farmer a favor. That you try to be thankful for what you already have and for the planet your feet stand on–and that you try to find the right ways show it that fit in for you. That you try to get creative in your giving this holiday season… and never underestimate the gift of your support, your time, and your hand crafted gear or written words to the folks you love. Hoooo knows, it might make them feel way more warm and fuzzy inside than a shiny new gadget would! What a gift that would be for this farmer, even if you never have or never will donate to eight owls at all–it would mean the world to me if you just did that!