Manifesto

Our lives are made richer by stripping away the excess. When we do this we are able to see what matters. Like the plants I tend in the garden, I get to be the one who determines what grows. A weed is just a plant the gardener didn’t intend on planting, and some weeds have turned into my best plants.

It’s not so much about having a plan and rigidly sticking to it as it is about having a plan and realizing that it might change. Something even better than I realized could grow out of my plan. So I line up my tomatoes along the trellis, realizing they might get blight, but some volunteer tomatillos will sprout nearby and I will make the most scrumptious tomatillo salsa you’ve ever tasted.

I’m not saying to take a handful of seeds and scatter them about in your garden, no, deliberately sow your seeds, tend them and watch what grows. Learn to recognize the seed leaves and the true leaves and decide what to keep and what to pull. Cull the excess to make room for the intentional and the unexpected.

When we grow our own food we sink our hands into the source. Being in touch with the earth is, for me, being in touch with God. Everything interconnects, and I strive to live my life with this awareness. The sun shines on the basil and I taste June sun in winter. It gets me through.

The act of sharing openly and honestly is healing. We went bankrupt, we lost our business and our house and some friends. It hurts. Real. Bad. But pain shows us where to grow. We grew out of what we thought we needed and into something that was coming for years. We were already moving toward this life even before New Day Cafe. NDC was our attempt to create a community we longed for–one based on art, music, food and companionship. We worked our butts off during this community service undertaking only to realize it was at the cost of our own sanity. We pushed ourselves to our very edge and almost lost the most important asset we have: each other.

Losing Everything else was a drastic clearing of the excess. We were left staring each other in the face: What now?

We weren’t alone. We aren’t alone. Thank God. The culture of consumption has grown out of control. In the quest for more–more money–status–accomplishment–we risk losing what matters most: our connection to each other and the earth. 

Our plan was a simple one and simply radical. We would work hard, stop buying, sell, donate, downsize, make a budget, and save every penny. We would find a little piece of land, buy it for cash, and grow a homestead.

Here’s where we find ourselves now:

  • On three acres of land in Floyd, VA 
  • Living in a tiny house
  • Entering our fourth fall season
  • Raising chickens, pigs, and vegetables
  • Finishing up the plumbing on the big house
  • Watching our kids grow into early adolescence

What we focus on expands. We choose to focus on our relationships to each other, our food, the earth, gratitude and the connections between it all. Everything else seems to fall into place.

Some say it’s foolish to rely on faith to answer your deepest needs. I say: what else is there?

The only way I could stand up and walk out of the dark place of bankruptcy and foreclosure was on my knees, trusting that I would find what I needed if I just kept walking. The only way out of darkness is with faith–your own deep trust that if you take this step and this one and this one you will find that it leads to where you are going. When I close my eyes and breathe, everything feels right. I encourage you find your own faith. By faith I mean your own personal relationship to the deepest and truest part of yourself, to something bigger than that, a permeating energy that connects us to one another–a life-force to which we all have equal access.

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