Farm Life

A Year of Joy, Midpoint Update

I started to lose my joy last year, and it came as quite a shock. Here I am on the farm, living my dream life. I worked impossibly hard to get this far, and I actually made it! Shouldn’t that guarantee a life of perpetual joy?

Joy is not subject to external guarantees, because joy comes from within. We have to protect our joy, nurture it, and fight to defend it sometimes. I lost sight of that in my 2022 year of growth. I stretched myself too thin, chased profits over fulfillment, and worked way past my breaking point. I forgot that I’m no longer in the tech startup world, and therefore no longer required to keep up with the go-go corporate pace I had once become accustomed to. When burnout creeps in, we can run away from it or we can accept it as a messenger, rise to meet the challenge, and start making changes.

My New Year’s resolution and my business plan for 2023 was to find my way back to joy. The year is half over now, and although it has been an externally tough one peppered with extreme weather, expensive repairs, emotional losses and financial difficulties, I’m riding those waves and staying on top. I’m cultivating a mindset of abundance, a deeper connection to the land, and stronger foundations upon which to grow, rest, and live. The resulting light of joy is radiant.

Mindset of Abundance

What I needed most was to slow down. Actually, I needed to clear my schedule with a machete. Last year’s breakneck pace of twice-weekly farmers markets AND doing the actual farming AND making all the products AND vending at festivals AND doing speaking engagements AND writing AND event organizing AND being a student in herbal medicine school was completely overwhelming, although each individual thing was wonderful in itself.

I was hesitant to cut out any of the money-earning things from the schedule, especially since I am not yet breaking even. Still, I needed to refocus on the foundational projects that are most important to me in the long run. This is where a mindset of abundance comes in. To me, cultivating an abundance mindset doesn’t necessarily mean that I do whatever I want without regard for my survival or my future. It means realizing that I actually did plan and prepare for this, and allowing myself to act accordingly. It means reminding myself that I have the tools and resources that I need to succeed. I am on a good path, and it is going to work out. If I’m organizing my life around the fear that my best effort is still not enough, then I’m working against my best interest. That is a scarcity mindset.

I settled on a compromise: one farmers market per week, and only for the first half of the summer. One festival in the fall, and a new online shop. I would trust that things would work out okay, that the universe (and my carefully planned investments) would continue to provide for my genuine needs, and that my best effort would be enough to see this through.

So far, it is working out beautifully. I’m doing fewer markets, but somehow I’m earning almost twice as much money at each market that I do attend. I have more energy to devote to each undertaking. I’ve picked up some wonderful new customers through my online shop and CSA program. I have only three market days left this summer, and after that I’ll have more time to create artwork, tend the land, and write. By far the biggest impact on my financial picture is that by freeing up more of my time, I don’t need to spend as much money. I’m able to take care of more of my own needs and make do with a much smaller budget. A busy life is an expensive life.

Connection to the Land

The land is my whole reason for being here, doing this work. It’s what inspires me to write, to create, and to farm. It is my true calling, my soul’s purpose, and my heart’s work. The feeling that I wasn’t showing up for it in the way that I wanted to because of time constraints was a major contributor to my stress last year. Equally, it’s a major source of joy to be able to re-center around that work now. I’ve made good strides on the woodland understory project, I’ve cleaned up the pawpaw and persimmon orchard, and my garden is growing amazingly well. I’m still behind on a few of my projects, but I’m getting there. And by being out there doing the work, I’m learning fascinating new things every day. It’s good for me, it’s good for the land, and it’s good inspiration for my art and writing.

Land connection goes two ways. We steward the land, and it provides for us. The better we provide for it, the better it provides for us, and vice versa. It’s a relationship. So I’ve been making time for foraging and wandering again. I indulged my fancies in the spring when I wanted to pick violets and I didn’t know why. I go on regular photo shoots in nature, I pick up rocks, and I spend a little time almost every day looking for flowers (any flowers) just because it feels important. It may sound silly or frivolous, but it is vital to nurture the tender parts of ourselves from which joy, creativity, and connection spring forth. Sometimes those frivolous walks yield unexpected real rewards, but even when they don’t, they restore my energy for the journey forward. I’m building intentional time into my day to allow the land to care for me.

Stronger Foundations

Growth phases inevitably leave loose ends that require intensive supervision to maintain. I started this project almost eight years ago in 2015, and it’s time to let it mature into the next phase. I’ve been dedicating a lot of time and resources towards stability this year. It’s not as glamorous as growth, it’s not as much fun, but stability brings much needed peace. Once everything is stable, secure, and maintaining itself, I’ll have more time and energy for the fun stuff. Every loose end tied up means I get to let go of a responsibility that is holding me back. That is a path to joy.


Even in the best of times, we must tend our inner gardens and grow what matters most to us if we hope to live in joy. Only you can know what brings you joy, what you need to make space for in your life, and what you need to clear away to make that room. When a person is living authentically, pursuing his/her/their joy, the whole world glows a little brighter. I’ll end with this quote from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

For Further Reading

The Year of Joy
A Midsummer Day’s Feast
Growth and Constraints on the Farm