Surreal. I never thought I would ever have a need to use that word. Surreal: unreal, bizarre, unusual, strange, dot dot dot. I have suddenly landed in this position and it’s hard to believe I am really here. It’s all so surreal.
One day, I was working at my 8 to 5 job, minding my own business. I was probably day dreaming about going hiking again. My favorite place to hike is Crowders Mountain in Gastonia, North Carolina. The Pinnacle is my favorite path there. And one of the hardest. Or I might have been day dreaming about the last trip to Myrtle Beach. I love the beach. As a native Miamian, who could blame me? I love to take a walk along the shoreline and gather sea shells for my collection.
Anyway, I noticed that my neck was a little stiff. Eh. I must have been looking down at my computer too long. It’ll go away.
Fast forward about 2 years, and I am missing work at least 2 days a week due to severe neck and back pain. Even the hour-long ride home was torture. When I did work, it was often only half the day before I was crying on the way home because I was so miserable. The next thing I know, in November, 2017, I am on short-term medical leave. A few months later, the pressure point injections, physical therapy and massage therapy did not improve my condition at all.
My short-term disability ended, and my job let me go. Soon after, at the beginning of February, 2018, I was approved for long-term disability. I am basically retired. Done with working. At only 55 years of age. When practically yesterday, I was hiking up a mountain.
What just happened? I still can’t believe I’m here. As I sit in my quiet living room, my head is still spinning at the reality of it all. I don’t know if I am relieved that I no longer work in great pain at a very busy, high-pressure job, or if I am horrified at the thought of being disabled and still have a mortgage to pay, and other responsibilities. I think it is a little bit of both. Or should I say a LOT of both.
Now that I am realizing that I have to make new plans for myself, I sit here and look around me and think, “What can I be doing all day everyday (with pain) that will help with paying bills or at least help with meals? I decided to spend a little time researching on the computer. The idea struck me while I was looking around on Pinterest. As I used to do at the “old” house I lived in before, I can grow herbs and tomatoes. But this time add in a vegetable garden. I had a micro business once upon a time; with herbs, herbal gift baskets, handmade catnip toys, etc. I can do that again. I enjoyed tending to the herb garden so much. I know with my condition, I could only do a little a day, but it would be great for me mentally.
As I was looking at my 0.57 acres of land, on part of which sits my house, I could picture where I wanted my herb garden, my vegetable garden. “A cute potting shed over here,” I thought. “Oh, and a flower garden beside it, and an herb garden in front of that, and the vegetable garden over there.” As I continued to research, I learned about Homesteading. Living off the land. My land. Natural health remedies, fresh homegrown food. That includes herbs, vegetables, some livestock like chickens, or goats, or bees, or cows. No cows. I don’t believe my HOA would be ok with Betsy on my half acre anyway.
I would be very happy to have all those things right away, but as the time-tested homesteaders say, just start a little at a time. And in my case, that would be a good suggestion to follow.
I have to say, looking through all of the articles I found online gave me a lot of ideas. I made a Pinterest Board for them called Homesteading and one called Herb Garden Ideas so I can keep them for further review. I also joined some of their newsletters and paid for some of their wonderful printouts for planning and inventorying the gardens. It only strengthened my desire to start on this homesteading/herbal journey more.
I can’t go without saying that I made definite progress toward the next chapter in my life, with a LOT of mistakes and lessons learned. This is, after all, a new beginning for me. A journey I have never taken before. And the crossroads can seem so hard to navigate. But it is all good! God has the driver’s seat.
And so the journey begins…