There’s a part of my new life that I don’t talk about very often; probably because I’m afraid to admit it. This change is something that’s not really brought to light in “The Pioneer Woman” or other Girl Gone Country montages. And it has little to do with learning how much to feed a horse or how to clip a goat’s toenails. This change is an emotional journey of learning to balance the Old You with the New You; not just for yourself, but for everyone who’s known you along the way.
This transition is unlike any other. It’s not just about dating someone new and learning about their quirks or meeting their family or deciding where you might want to live one day. It’s a change that affects your entire life almost instantly. And it’s not all as picture perfect as it might seem.
It’s all good and fun to share the #farmlife on Instagram, and to wake up every morning to pastures full of horses. It’s great to call 30 acres your home and to share your life with someone you love. It’s wonderful to have a purpose outside of yourself and to know that the work you do helps keep a business running and animals safe, alive and healthy. I love spending time outside and being able to test the limits of my own strength – coming into an office job the next morning aching because I’ve just helped load 250 bales of hay onto a moving trailer the night before.
But there’s more underneath the surface. Sometimes it’s not the physical, but the emotional strains that hit me hardest of all. They come out of nowhere – perfectly unwelcome and insanely debilitating. Like the sheer recognition of the fact that I don’t fully belong in the country (where I really only spend several waking hours of the weekdays) or in the city (where I drift for casual hangs in ‘hip’ neighborhoods on the weekends). Or the realization that my once-typical Saturday of waking up and drinking coffee for hours while I watched Hallmark movies alone is no more. Oh no, I’m a “morning person” now. And while I admittedly never did like getting dressed up and going out on the town on a Saturday night to take selfies…now I don’t even get invited.
It’s hard for me to call home and talk with my parents because I can’t get good cell service from our neck of the woods, and I know that if I call them on the way home from work I’ll have to cut them off when I reach the dreaded Hill of Lost Connections. Sometimes, I’m just too exhausted to talk – even to the people I love and miss.
And I feel so much guilt for that.
When the weekends roll around, no morning begins without going to feed, and many afternoons are planned around the need to go back home for the second round. Nothing is entirely carefree, because we know anything can happen at any time. When I can’t be around to help, I feel like I’m not doing my part. And while I don’t regret choosing this life, sometimes I miss who I was able to be before: blissfully unaware and self-absorbed. (Just kidding, just kidding…)
Alas, this transition is made all the more difficult because I can’t fully commit to either world. I have obligations and desires in both and I’m constantly moving between one and the other. While that should be exciting, here I am living two half lives, and neither one really feels like it belongs to me. If at least one part of this felt like it was all my own, well, I might feel more balanced.
I have single city-dwelling friends whose concerns are so different from mine. Diets, crafts, training for 5K marathons, having little to worry about but themselves. And I remember when that was me. I cling to this blog as a sort of therapy, as a way to pursue a passion, however little it might impact my life. On the bright side, this new complexity I’ve uncovered is what propels it. But though I like many of the ways I’ve changed, I can’t help but find myself experiencing just a little bit of FOMO for a time long past gone.
Like, who would I be becoming if I wasn’t where I am right now?
The irony is I originally came to Nashville because I loved “country” music. And while I loved the romanticism of life in the country, I never really thought I’d end up leaving the city life. I thought I wanted a glamorous career in the music business. And that crashed down all by itself. But then I fell in love, and rather than the two of us both giving up our fast-paced city lives to build our homestead out in the middle of nowhere (as so many memoirs go)….it was instead just I who packed up everything and hauled it out to a pre-established life 40 minutes south of my intended destination. So I got the “country life” I’d dreamed of. And with it came a constant state of life in flux.
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But don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m unhappy. And it’s not that I regret any of it. Let’s just be honest – this was a shocking change; one that my friends and family have noticed. A change that I, myself, am still coming to terms with because I haven’t truly been able to dig both feet down into the same soil.
I just fear that through these growing pains, I’m somehow unintentionally leaving some things or some ones behind. And it’s a feeling that nags at me constantly.
In her memoir (and one of my favorite books, From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels), Ree Drummond makes it all sound so easy. But much as I love her, she lied. It’s not easy. Whether you dive in headfirst or you slowly assimilate at your own pace – it’s a MAJOR adjustment. To live in the “country” is to live with new rules. Even if you have your own cooking program on The Food Network and a wildly successful blog to dive into.
The people around me have lived and worked on this farm for 30 YEARS. And that’s longer than I’ve been alive. There’s no possible way for me to “catch up”. So I just have to learn to be okay with that and allow myself to find out how this transition will work for me. This sort of thing can’t be wrapped up in a couple paragraphs or chapters; I can only assume it will take years.
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So now I’m diving into this thing called BALANCE. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Last week, I began meditating in the morning. I committed to taking 50 minute walks on my lunch break and spending at least 30 minutes at the gym after work before going home. I’m also trying to be more proactive about taking responsibility for the goats – now that the days are getting longer, I can be the one to feed them both morning and evening. And I’m really trying to dive into understanding the registration process. NDGA, ADGA, AGS…..OMG.
It’s still overwhelming. But all of this? It’s just for me.
I’m taking time for myself, both mentally and physically. I’m making time for the hobbies that are supposed to be mine. And it has nothing to do with being city OR country. It’s yet another adjustment that’s setting off my accustomed schedule and challenging my status quo. But eventually I hope that it will make all the rest slide into place.
I’m proud of my necessary rebrand. I’m excited about the fact that I, this little Midwestern suburban girl, made it to Nashville and came to live a life completely unlike anyone else’s. That’s what this blog is meant to be: my journey and my hopes for the future. It’s not meant to be a lament. It should be a discovery. It should be exciting and fresh and a little bit tough with a little bit chic — something like the world I find myself in right now.
I’m most definitely stronger for this. I’m more challenged to think about my dreams and my goals than ever before. I’m more self-aware, less willing to settle and somewhat proud of myself for getting this far into it. I’m living a life beyond some of my wildest dreams. And eventually, I know, it will all fall into place. Just as it’s meant to be.
I’m changing my tune. I’m beating to a new drum. And I’m marching forward….
Iced coffee, designer handbag and muddy boots in tow, of course.