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My hands are dry; the skin is cracked and hardening. Multiple layers of soil live beneath my fingernails. The muscles in my back ache from bending down each day, reaching to the Earth for weeds and produce. The skin on my arms and legs has never looked this brown. I am probably perpetually dehydrated from the sweltering, Montana sun. Yet, I have never been happier.

I wake up each morning to watch the sun rise over the mountains as I begin my work. I no longer watch the sun rise and fall from inside a tall, glass building. This time, I am part of the day. I feel the sun begin to warm up the air as I am finishing up the morning chicken chores. I take off a layer of clothing before I begin to weed a row of lettuce.

By mid-morning, the sun is scorching. It’s time to put on my floppy farm hat, which may not win any fashion awards, but does protect me from the sun. The winds blow steadily in Montana and I thank Mother Nature for them at this time each day. Sometimes, I am lucky and the wind blows clouds across the sun. Such seemingly small moments are only appreciated when you are outside, working in the elements. In my previous, cubicle-living, work environment I never noticed the clouds or the wind. I only cursed the sun when it created a glare on my computer screen and slowed my work pace.

Not a day passes when I am not thankful for the life changing decision I made to step off the rungs of the corporate ladder and climb into the rich soil of farming. Working outdoors gives me energy like I have never known. I am constantly weeding, harvesting, hoeing, or chasing chickens, but at the end of the day I still feel alive. I spend my evenings reading books, writing, cooking, or laughing with friends. I think this is what people would call a balanced lifestyle. And this is exactly why I changed careers.

I used to come home at the end of the day and feel like a zombie, like my brain had used every last bit of juice focusing during meetings and working on spreadsheets. It was all I could do to muster up the energy to eat dinner. I never want to return to such a state of living, because it wasn’t living, it was existing. My life had no balance because my life did not revolve around me. My life revolved around my clients, employees and superiors. I was living to make them happy. I am now focusing on living to make myself happy. Thus far, it is working. I have never been happier.

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”  – Hans Christian Andersen

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