Defining "Enough"

A fistful of four-leaf clovers plucked from the alfalfa field last summer
In the past few years, I've worked really hard to realign my priorities, but old habits die hard, as the saying goes. My intention has been to focus on meaning, creativity, and everyday happiness. My energy has been redirected away from the pursuit of fabricated ideals towards building a life that works for me. And overall,  I've done a lot of good work in this regard.

But then along came income tax season. I was forced to face the financial realities of this new life path I've chosen. All of a sudden, my joyful day-to-day existence no longer felt like "enough."

Let me start off by saying that money has always been the big scary monster under my proverbial bed. As much as I love words, I have equal disdain for numbers. They make my head hurt. I used to solve this problem by striving to earn a lot of money. Then surely, one day, I'd have enough. Enough to pay the bills, enough to cover any "rainy day" scenarios, and most importantly, enough to generally ignore my finances altogether. It was a false sense of security, but I clung to it nonetheless.

Now I spend much more time doing things that make me feel fulfilled...digging in the dirt, cooking wholesome meals, writing in my journal, enjoying the company of a loving partner, and surrounding myself with plants and animals...

Good bye ergonomic desk injuries! Adios, petty power struggles with coworkers! No room for you here.

If happiness is the ultimate currency, just call me Suze Ormann. So why did an unexpected debt (manageable, but unpleasant nonetheless) to good old Uncle Sam leave me questioning all that?

I've given it a lot of thought, and here's what I've come up with: as soon as I felt financially insecure, I reverted back to that old mentality..."must earn more!" But honestly, earning more has nothing to do with me feeling secure financially. Even when I did earn a lot more, I felt financially insecure. If I had been more organized about my finances in the past year, I would have seen this tax-time expense coming.

Which leads me back to the notion of "enough." I've been thinking a lot about that word this week. I even looked it up. To have "enough" means to meet your needs, demands, and expectations. Therefore, until we define our needs, we will never have "enough." On the emotional front, I learned this lesson a while ago. But it's taken me 32 years to connect the dots with money.

Which is why I've gotten serious about budgeting lately. Embarrassing as it is, I have been a slacker for far too long. Fortunately, for those of us with special needs, there are all sorts of web resources available. Right now, I am loving  All of a sudden, I feel like I've got my shit together.

Thin enough, rich enough, smart enough, successful enough. It's all relative. What do you need to feel like you have enough? Once you know, you can make it happen. I'm finding all it takes is some planning and perspective.


Stick in the Mud(season)

Heifer on the loose!
Today is the first day of spring. But that's sort of a tease. In fact, here in Vermont this time of year is officially known as Mudseason, that fateful period of purgatory between winter and spring. The bulbs have broken through, but the snow is not over yet. And in between, it's muddy enough to lose a shoe if you aren't careful.

There's something about this time of year that sets me off-kilter. Snowshoeing is over, but it's too soon to break ground in the garden. The calendar says spring, but the weather disagrees. In-between the remaining snow drifts, the yard has digressed into a giant mud puddle. Everything is murky, including my mood.


Pura Vida means The Pure Life

We just got back from ten sun-filled days in Tamarindo, Costa Rica -- where the local motto "Pura Vida" pretty much sums it all up. It was a much needed break from a harsh Vermont winter. Taking a vacation isn't so simple for farmers -- you can't just tag your email with an out-of-office message and hope for the best. If you think finding a dog sitter is hard, try finding someone to babysit (and milk) 400 cows! Everyone had to pitch in double and pick up extra shifts to cover for R while we were gone. And we were very grateful!

We ate at a lot of great restaurants, but the culinary highlight of our trip was cooking up our catch from a fishing trip we took on a charter boat.  The grouper were really biting that day, and later that evening it was our turn. We sauteed the fillets with lemon juice, onions, olive oil, and garlic...and it was absolutely divine. Fish doesn't get much fresher than that!

Simple sauteed grouper
-Brown onions and garlic in olive oil
-Add fillets, turn to cook both sides
-Add lemon juice as 1 tsp zest 2 mins before removing fillets from pan
-Serve with whatever sides you can find at the Bodega! We had cucumbers, rice, and beans

If you are considering a vacation to Costa Rica, we highly recommend Tamarindo and there's no cozier, more charming place to stay than Sueno Del Mar.


Taken Ransom

Me and my leading man

I've never really blogged about the sequence of events that lead me to Vermont, but today feels like as good a day as any. The cat's out of the bag! Tom Hanks (via Perez Hilton) has accepted a new role as a sea captain held hostage...and it makes me a bit reminiscent.

Hoards of reporters descend on Underhill, VT
In April of 2009, I was working for a trans-oceanic shipping company in the communications department when one of the ships was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. The hero ship captain from Underhill, Vermont was being held hostage in a small life boat at gun point by three savage pirates. I came to Vermont to help his wife, Andrea, deal with the media circus surrounding the ordeal. Of course she was devastated and distraught and felt totally overwhelmed by the reporters. We waited it out together and held the cameras at bay until her husband was, miraculously, rescued. I do not use that word lightly. The rescue of Richard Phillips was nothing short of a bona fide miracle.

talking to reporters
A lot of lives changed that day, including mine (not just because I was on TV, twice!) It had been a  particularly difficult time in my personal life. Coming to Vermont and being a part of such a dramatic and faith-affirming experience made me rethink my own priorities. So I quit my job. I took a few risks. I re-oriented my compass.

In the months following the rescue, I helped the Phillips family sort through the media after-math of their very public ordeal, and they helped me through some difficult times of my own by opening their home and bringing me into their family. I learned a lot of important lessons about how to live that spring and summer. I did some solo traveling, but was always drawn back to Vermont. They gave me a place to heal (and hide when I needed to!) -- to get my head together and figure out what mattered to me. For that, I will always be grateful. Tom Hanks has big shoes to fill.
My "adopted" VT family

By the time autumn came to Vermont, I'd met a farmer named Ransom and had fallen in love. It's hard to ignore the synchronicity of finding love with someone named Ransom after a pirate attack. Indeed, it was meant to be.

So began my Vermont adventures as a Dairy Queen. For a girl who literally slept with her Blackberry under her pillow, it was an unlikely path. But I knew in my heart it was the right one.

And that's how I came to love in Vermont.