Color Week:: Green and Blue (and a giveaway to come)

by Stefani on 6-March-2009

Do you remember what it felt like to think that anything was possible?… that you could be anything today, and then something different tomorrow should you so choose it? 

I could almost feel that feeling again, while watching my guy soak in all that the big wide world had to offer him over the last few days. I remember being 8. I had big ideas at 8 and he does too. He is coming into his own self now in a way that is truly a blessing to watch. 

My young man wavered over the last few days between a love of the fast pace and awe inspiring largeness of downtown, and his agrarian vision for his future. 

He wants it all. He wants art and music and inspired architecture. He wants chickens and strawberries and green for miles. He wants to play baseball, to hear the crowd sing HIS name when he comes up to bat.

  Green!

He wants to know for sure that his farm and his city and his bat and glove and a girl who loves chickens as much as he does, are all waiting for him in his tomorrow. 

Rooster Party

What he doesn't know, what he can't know because he is not yet a papa, is that all his dreams for his future are the dreams that we have for him too -but that we call them by different names. To us, those dreams are called love, contentment, joy in one's work, a life full of passion, gratitude and simple pleasures.

Light and Discovery 

We want for him all the things that he doesn't yet know how to want. 

In these strange times when people are grateful to have a job, any job, it's feels sort of extravagant to be hoping that the work he chooses in life is something that he's passionate about, something that fills him. 

I do though. I wish that for all of us, in fact. You too! And I hope that if there's any silver lining in this dark economic cloud it's that necessity might lead many of us to pursuits that we never would have attempted before our pantries went bare. I know for us that has been true. 

I've been hesitant to say here that my husband lost his job a while back because I know that we are just one family among many. He's working still, for a different company, but solely on commission, and ain't nobody buying circuit boards these days. The good news is that he is beginning to try to make his passion (filmmaking) into something that can feed his soul and also his family. 

Homeward

The boys and I are turning our own passions, learning and investigating, reading, art and nature into something that helps us stay afloat too, our book. Hopefully we're bringing some good times to other families while we're at it. 

I can't say for sure that those things would have happened, that we would have had the guts to try, if we hadn't HAD to. 

I guess what I'm getting at is that I worry sometimes. I don't want my kids to feel the bleak realities of a recession. It scares me to show my boy all the world has to offer and then to lay in bed at night and wonder if when the time comes we will be able to give it to him. At the same time though, I try to rest in the knowledge that there can be beauty from ashes – there are upsides to every downturn. 

I don't mean to minimize the very real struggles out there, believe me, I just mean that if we must all walk this road, I hope in the end it leads us right where we were meant to be, where we hoped to be all along. 

Spring :: Mud and Flowers

To that end, I am hoping to continue to share with you some of the amazing things that people are doing to turn their passions into creative ways to keep their families going. I will be back here this evening to introduce you to a few passionate souls who are carving out a path for themselves. Be sure to come back because there will be a giveaway!

If you have a business or a story about how your family is making ends meet in these tough times, shoot me an email (button at the top of the page) or leave me a comment here. I'm going to try to regularly highlight some of the neat ways that people are overcoming these hard times. 

See you back here tonight!
Fiona March 6, 2009 at 6:30 am

A wonderful expression very close to my own feelings about the world economy. Reminds me of this quote:

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
~Howard Thurman

Our Green Nest March 6, 2009 at 6:41 am

Yes indeed! I loved this post. How very true. I love the “beauty from ashes” reference and always have! Have a good one.

patricia March 6, 2009 at 6:50 am

You always manage to turn the downsides into upsides, which is one of my favorite things about Blue Yonder. And the fact that it’s not just a bunch of talk, that your family is truly being affected by the times, yet you’re still hopeful–that makes your words all the more inspiring.

Best of luck to your family–I have no doubt that you’ll end up right where you “hoped to be all along”.

Katie March 6, 2009 at 6:52 am

This post brought tears to my eyes…. we are struggling so much with these things right now. It is hard to be hopeful sometimes. Thank you for helping me to realign my thoughts about it all – and thanks for all the inspiration you bring every morning when I read Blue Yonder!

Cassandra March 6, 2009 at 7:02 am

I’m always amazed at the way you put things into perspective. I always appreciate the attitude of embracing life as it comes that shines through your words here, despite hardships that might be on the home front.

I thank you for the perspective this morning, and of course, from our family to yours, we send a great big hug.

tara March 6, 2009 at 7:08 am

I hope the bad times we are encountering now turn our attentions in… towards each other. If we work together- families and communities… I think we’ll all be okay.

Mama Urchin March 6, 2009 at 7:19 am

I’ve been struggling with this too. The urchins painted the carpet (fortunately washable) and Katie said oh, we can just get a new one. It is so hard to be counter to the culture that perpetuates that we should live so disposabley. I agree, there are silver linings in these harder times. We just need to make sure to look for them.

Amber March 6, 2009 at 7:23 am

We’ve been there. It was hard but it made us so much better. And made us really thankful that this world is not our home. Praying for you today.

Alicia A. March 6, 2009 at 7:28 am

Oh, honey. I’m sorry. You are so hopeful and inspiring. Thank you.

I hope we can all make it through this rough patch a little stronger. (We’re certainly feeling it too.)

caroline thornewill March 6, 2009 at 8:23 am

Oh Stephani! I love that you are doing this.

And I really love that Mister is exploring HIS creative side. xoxox

melody March 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

sweet and well said, looking forward to more…

Dawn March 6, 2009 at 9:35 am

Thank you!

melissa March 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

oh, Stefani. My thoughts are with you and your men- all of ’em. We went through a layoff two years ago- it was difficult but we grew so much through it and we BOTH landed in much better places. Even little boy landed at a better school. big hugs and hope for a blessed path.

debbieR March 6, 2009 at 10:11 am

My Goodness you are strong! More power to you and your man tribe! Blessings, beauty, sunshine and calm…may they all be brought to you! You all will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Liz March 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Thank you for sharing your troubling times. All too often, we are expected to keep up appearances (whatever those may be) from a job loss or drop in income. In the last year, we became a permanent one-income family (expecting baby #2), and we are tight for money every month, but I have never been happier. Keep up the optimism and everything will work out for you and your family!

heather jane March 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

It’s all so true. From the struggle comes the feast. It’s scary to think that things can change so quickly, but inspiring to read about the ways you are turning inward. Mustering up your courage and pointing towards the sun. We, too, wait to hear our fate as even the U.S. postal service makes drastic budget cuts we never saw coming. Yet somehow it really is all okay. It’s already bringing us together and challenging us even more to focus on what really matters and spend our time and energy wisely. Thanks for sharing! My day just got brighter…

SpiderWomanKnits March 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Your post just really hit home. I haven’t mentioned it on my blog or anywhere for that matter but my husband has been out of work since November. We’ve got two little ones at home and one more on the way due in April and boy it is tough. We have always been rick takers and some of our risks have “provided” for us during this time. A few years ago we imported a classic car from France (Citroen DS23) for relatively little money and always joked that it was our French Bank Account. Well, we just sold it on Craig’s list two weeks ago so that we can just get by. It was hard to see it go but it was so much harder not knowing how or if we were going to make ends meet.

Also, I started a vintage Etsy shop in the beginning of January which so far and knock on wood is doing well. This is something I had never thought about doing before until necessity birthed the whole idea and I can’t tell you how much fun it is and how much I am enjoying it! I mean it is not paying any major bills but it is helping. The best part is that it gives me focus and determination which I believe is priceless when things around us seem so bleak.

The best thing though is that, like your husband, we have decided not to compromise anymore. If we are going to “make it” we are going to do it on our own. We have filed applications to start an organic egg business/poultry farm and are chugging along. We have land and the capability so why not?! When we got our 8 little hens last April we never thought we’d enjoy having them quite as much as we do. The possibility of working together as a family too is incredibly exciting.

As creative people (my husband is a writer and I just can’t stop making stuff) this “trouble” has ignited us in a way we never could have imagined and I consider it one of the best things that has ever happened to us oddly enough. We are working harder than ever now, filing paperwork, talking with farming bureaus, hunting for treasures for my shop, photographing, listing, post office etc, raising our human babies and feathered friends but we are doing it all for ourselves and that has been incredibly liberating.

I believe you have to take chances. Maya Angelou said “Life takes care of those who dare to live it” Sometimes a situation “dares” you like job loss but I believe this whole economic “crisis” is going to lead to a renaissance of people reclaiming their independence and open up a surge of creativity that our country has been lacking for far too long.

Whew! Boy, I didn’t mean to write all that. But it feels good getting it out! Thanks for sharing your story and listening to ours.

I Wonder Woman March 6, 2009 at 1:54 pm

What a good Mama, and what sweet dreams for your boys. I think we largely find whatever we expect to find, if you set yourself on the right road. A friend and counselor used to tell me “If you get on I-90 East, don’t be surprised when you end up in Chicago.”

I’ve felt guilty this past year. My husband has a wonderful job that pays our bills, I have enough piano students to fill every afternoon (plus a waiting list.) We’ve cut out almost all processed foods, so our food bills are way down. I have the skills to make presents for friends, and bread for my family.

If nothing else, we’re learning the simple pleasures. Plus as newly-weds and recent grads, we can’t miss what we never had!

Good luck to you! I wish your husband well in his new endeavor :o)

jenny March 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

My husband was laid off shortly after we bought our new house. Agh! We didn’t worry at first– we had savings plus the money from the sale of the old house. I was pregnant with #3 and we decided that he would look for work after the baby came (planned home birth). To our surprise and dismay, it was harder than we thought to find work.

After working a string of temp jops with a temp agency that promised temp-to-hire and getting let go every single time, just as his 90-day temp period was up, he was fired from the temp agency! We filed for umemployment and the temp agency contested it, but my husband won out and got his umemployment.

It’s been a tough 3 years for us, and Hubby is currently working a part time job for $7.50 an hour. It’s a big step down from 40 thousand a year, but we have been ok. Our savings are gone, but we are rich in so many other ways: with our family, our friends, and our love for each other.

We’ve eliminated a lot of luxury items from our lives– the satellite, the cell phones, the eating out (not that we did much of that anyway). We were also smart enough to pay off all our credit card debt with our savings so that we are now debt-free with the exception of mortgage payments.

It wasn’t easy, still isn’t. But I have faith that we will be alright. xo

Kathy March 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Such a wonderful post. You are facing tough times, like so many others, yet you are giving us a gleam of what really matters in life. Thank you! My part time music professor jobs pays peanuts, and music jobs are being cut everywhere. I’m working on a quarterly publication of music study/music exploration aimed at homeschoolers and/or parents that are active with their children’s education at home. Hope to get the first one out April 1st (fingers crossed). I’d love to have you look at it/do a giveaway, something! 🙂

Colleen March 6, 2009 at 3:37 pm

thank you for sharing your life with us. how generous. you have such a wonderful outlook on life. so inspiring.

blessings.

Julie Alvarez March 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Dear Stefani,
I don’t think that anyone would say that you are “minimizing the very real struggles out there” by writing about your own imaginative ways to camp over the crisis.
Here in Argentina, we are the masters of the universe in surviving crisis. Really. And we have our own economic and politic crisis and hard times, regardless of the universal ones, that also hit us.
The last huge one being on 2001 and over. You should see how people rose up here. The community became alive again. We all started working together. And the “asambleas” were born. They were a kind of meeting of the people in the same neighborhood with the purpose of doing things: making political statements (with manifestations or other means), newspapers, and lots and lots of activities that were meant to make a way of living for thousands of families, at the same time that they were raising a feeling of belonging. And also produce. And take care of the environment. Like community gardens, or distributing food and other supplies in a different way, other than big chains and usual ways of transporting.
So… what I am trying to say is that, the need creates the act, and the act comes from creativity. Watch the children, how are they so resilient and they survive almost everything… They are creative. They find the way to preserve themselves and at the same time keep on living with others. We must learn from them.
I take my hat off infront of you, because you have the courage to understand the situation beyond your own self and at the same time try to be the best person you can, worry for your children and question your own thoughts in order to be even better.
Thank you.

Amber March 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I have nothing to offer, except to say I’m sorry this happened to you guys. And I hope that your husband is able to turn his passion into his profession. 🙂

Jenn March 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Beautiful words, beautiful images, beautiful family, all thanks to one beautiful mama.

Thank you.

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 8:51 pm

“people who have come alive”… that’s going to stick with me for a very long time.
Thank you for that!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

One of my favorites too 🙂

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Aw, Katie. I’m sorry. I really am. We’re all going to come out of this better than we went in… refined by fire! Thank YOU for being here to share in our joys and struggles!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm

back atcha, friend. Those hugs are precious to me!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 8:59 pm

yes yes yes!!! I think this is going to do a lot to knit communities together. And that is something really wonderful!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

UGH!!! Mine say that stuff too! As in, “I don’t know what I did with my (insert something new and important)…. guess we’ll have to get a new one.”
It makes me feel like such a failure when they say that.

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Thank you so much for that!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Thanks, Melissa! We went through something similar eight years ago, and had the same kind of outcome… we grew a lot, learned a lot and gained a LOT from the experience. I think that’s why we aren’t completely panicked. We’ve travelled this road before and lived to see the other side. It’s going to be okay.
Thank you so much for being here and offering your encouragement!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Congratulations on your baby! It is funny isn’t it, how very rich you can feel, even when you’re struggling to get by?

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

You are in our thoughts and prayers, Heather Jane! We hope that the news you get is good, but if it isn’t, it sounds like you’ll face those struggles with grace.

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:09 pm

What a beautiful and inspiring story you have! Thank you so much for sharing it! It really is so humbling and freeing to see how people are rising up and winding up better for it.
I visited your shop and it is lovely! I’m wishing you much success with all your endeavors and a future full of shared creativity with your guy!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Oh Jenny! Three years!
I hope that there’s a very bright light for you at the end of that tunnel. But then it sounds to me like you are doing a good job of shining all on your own!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I would love to hear more about this!
I’m going to email you about it!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:16 pm

It sounds like we have a lot to learn from your countrymen! I’m loving so much about how your communities are growing stronger. i so hope to see that here. I would love to see a sort of village revival arise from this mess.
Thank you so much Julie, for all your encouragement and kindness. It means so much!

Stefani March 6, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to offer words of encouragement for us. I can’t tell you how bolstering it is to feel like there’s a community of people out there pulling for us. I hope I can return some of what you all give to us everyday, when you come here to share and laugh and be together. It means so much.

lina nikols March 7, 2009 at 7:03 am

Sorry to hear this Stefani. We have been here too, more than once yet (so far) are unaffected this time around. However, the experience changed me deeply on many levels for which I am very grateful. You are strong mama – wishing you and your family best wishes!

Lorilee Kopp March 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Wow Stefani. You are speaking our song right now. I feel very much for yours right now. It’s been so tough. My husband lost his job in Decemeber. And when it all happened it was so scray. We were just rollin along, doin our thing and then a hurdle. But we looked at it; after many tears and worry mind you, as a sign to move on and do the things we were dreaming about. Our house went on the market last Wednesday! Whoo Hoo! And we are headed out west where we have wanted to go for some time. It’s been a good push. And I feel somehow that “life” meant this for us. That we were blind and couldn’t see how simple it would be to jump on a dream. And meanwhile I have been making wooden toys to get by. What a wonderful job. Toy making to keep the bills paid. I feel very lucky.

I will be thinking and wishing for you and your boys and your husband too. I will be wishing for his film-making dream to come true.

Much love to you!
Lorilee

Jennifer March 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Stefani,

Take heart! We are making ends meet on my husband’s passion, truly, for the first time this year. He started a business over 8 years ago when the company he was working for was going under. That one kept our family afloat for the last eight years. He decided to pursue his passion a couple of years ago and opened a photography studio, just after our first son was born! The first business kept us and the studio afloat until this year. While he still does the other stuff, the photo studio is finally going to make it’s own rent, etc THIS YEAR! Amazing, right?

We feel so very blessed! We’ve had a second son since then, and I am starting to work toward earning some money with my own passion.

Audrey March 7, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I’ve always thought the biggest gifts we can give our children is not tangible. It isn’t something they can hold in their hand or taste or visit. It is simply the knowledge that no matter what is going on in the world, they have a safe place within the hearts of their parents. They have that warm place when the world is cold. They have the knowledge that with imagination and the willingness to work hard, anything is possible, even if it doesn’t buy you that million dollar mansion. Besides, I’ve always been partial to cosy little houses rather than big ole empty mansions 🙂 (way less to clean too! lol)

kerry March 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

Stefani, I’m just catching up with things here as we adjust to life with the new babe. I’m so sorry to hear of your situation right now. I’m thinking of you guys and hoping that you continue to have joy, creativity, and a positive outlook to help you get through these tough times! (Know that the beauty and creativity that you share here every day is helping others so very much too!)
One thing that we have been doing with some friends to help with time and money management is to share meals. We have been making a big batch meal (usually a soup or hot dish (that’s Minnesotan for casserole) recipe that is easy to stretch with extra veggies and/or grains one day a week. Then we share with our friends down the street. We get one night a week off from cooking and are spending a bit less on food.

Lisa Clarke March 11, 2009 at 7:01 am

I can remember during my childhood, my father losing his job. And I remember my mother telling me that we would have to forgo some little luxuries for a while. I also remember my grandparents sending boxes upon boxes of canned food home with us when we’d visit, as well as big containers of Grandma’s homemade soup for us to freeze. I remember my father selling our family’s prized antique nickelodian that had belonged to his grandparents, and I remember us downsizing to just one car.

When I think about that now, I realize just how dire the financial situation must have been! But I never had any fear as a child, or any sense that we were in trouble. I always felt safe, and happy. That’s the result of good parenting, I think – something you’ve clearly got a handle on.

Your boys may look back on this time, knowing that it was a lean one for your family, but as they are living through it, they will not feel fear or pessimism about their future. They will be too busy making happy childhood memories like they always have. They’ll be fine. And so will you 🙂

Tipper March 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

A very timely post! I lost my job before Christmas-and my husband who is a carpenter is finding it harder and harder to find work. Your post has inspired me-and reminded me to use this “extra time” to enjoy my passions instead of letting worry take over.

Stefani March 12, 2009 at 7:13 am

Thank you so much for sharing this story, Lisa, and for your encouragement.
My husband has similar tales of lean times growing up that must have been scary for his parents, but he was never worried. I also think there’s a lot of good that comes from not having it too easy as a kid. They get to see people working hard. They get to understand the value of money. They get to participate in the ingenuity and creativity that comes with “making do”
There’s a lot to be said for that. There’s also a lot to be said for folks like you, who take the time to offer a kind word. I really appreciate that!

Stefani March 12, 2009 at 7:20 am

I’m so sorry to hear that Tipper. Seems like everyone is being touched by this mess. It stinks, but in a way, it’s kind of nice to know we’re all in this thing together, isn’t it?

Melissa H. April 2, 2009 at 6:57 am

So sorry to hear your news! I have a few friends in the same boat and we are all just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am like you, in that when you have to do something, I accomplish things that I never thought I could. My husband has an executive recruiting business, which is all but dead these days, but he has gone back to work for a company doing his old line of work. It’s not what he wanted to do,go back to working for someone, but it was a Godsend that he got the offer and we are so thankful. I am sure something will swoop in for you guys as well- we are all pulling for you! I have a friend in MN who told me last year she got a license to sell baked goods at the fairs in town. She and her 3 kids picked berries everyweek and pulled a wagon full of muffins and scones to sell on the weekends. I couldn’t believe how much money they made- they sold everything they made- who wouldn’t buy from those cute little faces. She has been through some hard times, but I am always amazed at how she pulls through for her girls (her husband passed away a couple years ago)!

Myrnie July 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I’m coming back to this post months later, but just to say that I hope things are going well with your family. We’re thinking of you!

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