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Manifesting a dream

 
Posts: 135
Location: Iron River MI
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Hello everyone. I’m looking for guidance or advice on how to stop dreaming the dream and start living the dream.

I’ll start by laying it out: My wife and I live on 2.5 acres in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Half of it is a wooded ravine, and half is our house, garage, gardens and yardspace. I’d like to leave the wooded ravine half relatively untouched and focus the efforts on the yard and garden space. My dream is to mostly stay home making money from selling mushrooms, vegetables, herbs, seeds, cuttings, suckers, eggs and offering educational courses/workshops. Possibly doing some motivational/educational speaking and doing guided foraging as well. We have a loop driveway and live right on a state highway. We’re designing a food forest and gardens in the middle of the loop for now. We’re raising some chickens, planting perennial herb beds, planting hedges, building fences and hopefully setting up a rainwater catchment system this summer.

Here are the dilemmas I’m running into now:

Being legal or not? The state wants to micromanage everything with certificates, licensing and inspections. To sell cuttings or operate as a “small scale” nursery is $40 in annual licensing and $57 in  annual inspections. Inspections can inquire about plant stock and specific nursery size... My plant stock is everywhere. In the wild, on public land, in our yard, in our gardens... where do we draw the line and box this thing in at?

I can try to get certified to sell cultivated mushrooms, but the director of the program died last year, and with covid, the whole program sounds iffy right now. Assuming they get that figured out, I could get certified and sell “cultivated” mushrooms. The certificate costs $175 for 5 years. I would need a separate license to sell wild foraged mushrooms. Well, where does that line get drawn at? I fling spore slurries all over the property on trees and woodchip mulch. There could be mushrooms growing everywhere, some because of me (cultivated) and some because of nature (wild). Who in their right mind can draw a distinction between the two!?!? Obviously, a grow bag or a log with plugs in it is cultivated, but what about woodchips sprouting various fungi out of my control?

It seems like such a pain to try to do this all organized and legal, putting up with the states micromanaging, money sucking and line drawing. And dont even get me started on the whole “pest plants and invasives”...

What about a vague U-pick operation? People could pull in and go forage our property for greens, herbs, flowers, berries, fruits and fungi. We could have set prices by weight or volume. Then maybe we could avoid some licensing and whatnot by being in a loophole of sorts. Just an idea.

I feel like people have dreams and governments job is to label them, categorize them, slow them down and leech money from them. Does anyone have ideas or advice on how to tie this all together, preferably in a way that makes us some money. I’d love to quit my job as I feel that every day I’m not manifesting this dream is a waste of my life.

Thank you,
-Brody

 
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My first point is that most regulations exist for a very good reason, discriminate picking of mushrooms exterminates them from the area, in my opinion noone should ever be able to sell wild mushrooms, Some areas have had total bans put in place on picking due to over picking for sale.
Nurserys have to be licensed and inspected to stop people indiscriminately digging up wild plants and selling diseased plants etc etc. (If you want to sell plants from public land that will probably require another permit or be flat out illegal)

Here you cannot sell "Wild" (read picked on public land) mushrooms but you can sell anything from your own land, or other private land with the owners permission.

The next point is very different insurance. without the right permits you will not be able to get insurance and selling without insurance seems a very unnecessary risk especially for the tiny TINY fees you are talking about. The last thing to think about is the fines, how high are they? are they something you can live with?


I wouldn't ever let people free reign to U-pick they will wipe out the easy plants and might pick something poisonous and kill themselves it would be an insurance nightmare, besides who wants strangers tramping everywhere!


The fees you have mentioned come to a whopping $132 a year, you'll be spending more on packaging than that.
 
Brody Ekberg
Posts: 135
Location: Iron River MI
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Skandi Rogers wrote:My first point is that most regulations exist for a very good reason, discriminate picking of mushrooms exterminates them from the area, in my opinion noone should ever be able to sell wild mushrooms, Some areas have had total bans put in place on picking due to over picking for sale.
Nurserys have to be licensed and inspected to stop people indiscriminately digging up wild plants and selling diseased plants etc etc. (If you want to sell plants from public land that will probably require another permit or be flat out illegal)

Here you cannot sell "Wild" (read picked on public land) mushrooms but you can sell anything from your own land, or other private land with the owners permission.

The next point is very different insurance. without the right permits you will not be able to get insurance and selling without insurance seems a very unnecessary risk especially for the tiny TINY fees you are talking about. The last thing to think about is the fines, how high are they? are they something you can live with?


I wouldn't ever let people free reign to U-pick they will wipe out the easy plants and might pick something poisonous and kill themselves it would be an insurance nightmare, besides who wants strangers tramping everywhere!


The fees you have mentioned come to a whopping $132 a year, you'll be spending more on packaging than that.



It’s definitely less about the money and more about the ethics behind their legislation. Wild and cultivated are indistinguishable in my situation. Any line drawn here is totally arbitrary. Like I said, a plugged log is obviously cultivated, but what about all the mushrooms popping up in garden beds where I slung spore slurries? What if a cultivated oyster log infects a nearby tree. I can sell mushrooms from the log but not the tree? And I seriously doubt any fungi around here are going to suffer from being harvested. You pick mushrooms and that has very little effect on the fungi/mycelium as a whole.

And I dont dig up wild public plants to propagate. I take cuttings from them and grow out the cuttings at home. So where is my nursery stock? It’s everywhere. How would everywhere get defined in terms of size, license type and inspection fees?

The U-pick idea was simply a thought i had that might get me around all the goofy red tape. But yes, you’re right. I would prefer not to have strangers trampling my yard. But I dont know a reasonable alternative. I feel like I’m a human being conformed into a robot’s world. If I want to sell something and you dont trust me or my lack of credentials, then go away. If you do trust me and dont care about paperwork, then you should be able to buy and i should not have to worry. Middlemen drawing lines in sand really complicates and muddies up a dream.
 
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Location: Málaga, Spain
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You only need to certificate what you are going to sell. Anything else you might produce which is outside of your controlled zone you could exchange for other products, not selling them.
Where I live you need permits if you want to have more than 4 chickens, but up to 4 chickens you can rise them and eat their eggs. I know people who have that, and sometimes they can't eat all the eggs they produce themselves, so they gift them to friends. Friends in return gift them with other stuff. It's not a 1:1 exchange, but it works.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:You only need to certificate what you are going to sell. Anything else you might produce which is outside of your controlled zone you could exchange for other products, not selling them.
Where I live you need permits if you want to have more than 4 chickens, but up to 4 chickens you can rise them and eat their eggs. I know people who have that, and sometimes they can't eat all the eggs they produce themselves, so they gift them to friends. Friends in return gift them with other stuff. It's not a 1:1 exchange, but it works.



I know hate is a strong word, but I HATE money. Both as a concept and as an actual part of the lived experience. It seems like a horrible idea from all angles that I’ve analyzed it. That being said, I love the barter/trade system. We have been giving and trading eggs, and I have other things to offer soon as well. This definitely makes a difference and builds strong connections with people. This is important, but it does not pay bills, mortgage or student loan debt. I suppose if bartering and trading could take care of all other expenses and only leave us with debts, mortgage and bills to handle, that would be alright. A part time job could probably handle that. But even buying food adds up to several hundred dollars a month for us, and thats just my wife and I!

I hear and see all these videos of happy, “successful” permies, but don’t understand how they make it happen. Do they all start out young and debt free? Do they file for bankruptcy and start fresh? Do they just dwindle away, struggling and living 2 lives until retirement and then live the dream? I assume there’s no 1 answer, but I haven’t found any answers for someone in my position. It’s strange; I feel so fortunate to be where I’m at in life, but so unfulfilled and wanting. I so badly want to educate local youth so they can avoid debts and get started on this path earlier on than myself. But how hypocritical of me to try to get them to avoid becoming like me from the standpoint of a privileged person so learned all this by means of having a stable and secure job... I feel like I have no credibility and yet could be highly motivational at the same time. Such a paradox
 
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From a business standpoint, it takes lots of hard work to make a living doing what you love.  We've been completely self-employed for fourteen years now and it requires lots of commitment and the ability to plan ahead.  My husband loves what we do but I admit my love for it has diminished over the years and I too want to garden and grow for a living.

As for licenses and permits, unfortunately that's part of any business.  I'd ask specific questions to the licensing agency about your concerns.  Also ask yourself how big would the fine be for not having the required permits.  

While I'm guilty of wanting to jump into most ventures with both feet, I'd suggest just starting with one at a time.  Which will bring you the most income with the least amount of time investment?  That's what I'd start with and then maybe add something new every year.  Then you would have an idea of how much time it takes to maintain venture #1 and how much time you can allocate to venture #2, 3 and so on.  

As for U-Pick operations, I did work for a business that had several different ventures operating at once, both plant-based and non plant-based.  One of those was u-pick berries.  While I think they've reduced the number of ventures to two, the berry operation is still going strong.  I do know that they did get into a bit of hot water for advertising as organic when they didn't have the licensing to do so.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada, Zone 6a, Rain ~60"
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Hi Brody.
First, I hear you! It sounds like a life of integrity is really important to you. I also hear a lot of inner conflict. As a former counsellor, group facilitator, teacher and occasional motivational speaker in my former life, I would offer that alongside the practical outer parts of pursuing your dream, you find some ways that really appeal to you for working through some of the inner issues and conflicts. I can feel some real sources of stress there and they could certainly make the process a lot more bumpy and a lot less rewarding than you're hoping for. No judgement..... it's just part of the work we all get to undertake as we pursue living according to our values. This inner work will also give you a lot that you can pass on to younger folks!

Re: the money conflict.... It's a tough thing to be in business with a hatred of money! I say this from personal experience. I resented money in lots of ways.
I highly, highly recommend Mark Silver's Heart of Business website and his course Heart of Money. I took it twice. The second time I used it to catch up on 9 years of unfiled tax returns and call in an overdue personal loan, resulting in $4,000 Cdn in income during the program. My feelings about money itself were completely rewired. (distinguishing here between money as a flow of lifeforce and capitalism, etc.) Here's the course page:
https://www.heartofbusiness.com/training-programs/heart-of-money/

I'll also pass on my favorite book on growing for profit in wooded areas: Farming The Woods.
I'm on 14 acres of boggy black spruce in Nova Scotia and I'm hoping to plant wild leeks, ginseng and endangered woodland medicinals, like goldthread, etc. Here's the link to the book.
https://www.amazon.com/Farming-Woods-Integrated-Permaculture-Medicinals/dp/1603585079

Unfortunately, I can't help you with the licensing part of the equation. I'm sure others with more knowledge will chime in.
Best wishes to you!
 
Michelle Heath
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I hear and see all these videos of happy, “successful” permies, but don’t understand how they make it happen. Do they all start out young and debt free? Do they file for bankruptcy and start fresh? Do they just dwindle away, struggling and living 2 lives until retirement and then live the dream? I assume there’s no 1 answer, but I haven’t found any answers for someone in my position. It’s strange; I feel so fortunate to be where I’m at in life, but so unfulfilled and wanting. I so badly want to educate local youth so they can avoid debts and get started on this path earlier on than myself. But how hypocritical of me to try to get them to avoid becoming like me from the standpoint of a privileged person so learned all this by means of having a stable and secure job... I feel like I have no credibility and yet could be highly motivational at the same time. Such a paradox



I can totally relate Brody.  Growing up we were programmed to either go to college, work or both.  I married a year after high-school and had no desire to go to college though I maintained a high GPA through school.  Why not college?  I spent 13 years in school living up to prescribed expectations and having most of my creativity stifled and honestly had no idea of what I wanted to do for a living.  I worked throughout the marriage and between the two of us we lived comfortably and built a house.  Then he died soon after being diagnosed with cancer and that's when the debts started piling up.  I attended college in the evenings after work and happily was able to do so with mostly grants for the first two years.  When I started college I was led to believe my employer would contribute but soon found out that wasn't going to happen, so I changed jobs so I could attend on campus three days a week and that's when I had to take out a student loan.  Luckily I had a great financial aid advisor who pointed out which loans were protected from high-interest rates and advised to borrow no more than was needed.  Unfortunately by the time I remarried I was hopelessly in debt and with the addition of my new husband's debts it looked hopeless.  It's taken many years but we're totally debt-free except for the student loan and I hope to have it whittled away in the next year or two.  

We seem to be part of a society that values material things too much. We have friends that go into debt for Christmas every year and whether or not the previous year's debt is paid off, they do it again the next year.  Why buy the 60" TV if the 32" one is still operational?  Why buy $100 jeans when you can shop the thrift stores for a few dollars?  
 
Brody Ekberg
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Michelle Heath wrote:From a business standpoint, it takes lots of hard work to make a living doing what you love.  We've been completely self-employed for fourteen years now and it requires lots of commitment and the ability to plan ahead.  My husband loves what we do but I admit my love for it has diminished over the years and I too want to garden and grow for a living.

As for licenses and permits, unfortunately that's part of any business.  I'd ask specific questions to the licensing agency about your concerns.  Also ask yourself how big would the fine be for not having the required permits.  

While I'm guilty of wanting to jump into most ventures with both feet, I'd suggest just starting with one at a time.  Which will bring you the most income with the least amount of time investment?  That's what I'd start with and then maybe add something new every year.  Then you would have an idea of how much time it takes to maintain venture #1 and how much time you can allocate to venture #2, 3 and so on.  

As for U-Pick operations, I did work for a business that had several different ventures operating at once, both plant-based and non plant-based.  One of those was u-pick berries.  While I think they've reduced the number of ventures to two, the berry operation is still going strong.  I do know that they did get into a bit of hot water for advertising as organic when they didn't have the licensing to do so.



I’m fine with putting in time and hard work to make money doing what I love. I just struggle putting in time and hard work doing things I dont love before and during.

I’m a little skeptical about directly asking the agencies my questions because depending on their answers, I may try to wiggle around them haha. Although fines and possible misdemeanors may not be worth it...

I definitely would prefer to jump in with both feet, but my wife doesn’t share that view, so I’m tip toeing for now. It does seem more logical and safe (neither appeals to me personally) to start small, one thing at a time and build from there. That also sounds like the slowest most painful way to go about this process, though I may be wrong. Plus, keeping my day job while slowly adding more and more passion fueled income streams to my life inevitably will lead to a certain breaking point right? At some point, I will be stretched to the limit and have to cut myself free from the day job. That stretching to the breaking point scares me, but it may be inevitable.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Susanna Hammond wrote:Hi Brody.
First, I hear you! It sounds like a life of integrity is really important to you. I also hear a lot of inner conflict. As a former counsellor, group facilitator, teacher and occasional motivational speaker in my former life, I would offer that alongside the practical outer parts of pursuing your dream, you find some ways that really appeal to you for working through some of the inner issues and conflicts. I can feel some real sources of stress there and they could certainly make the process a lot more bumpy and a lot less rewarding than you're hoping for. No judgement..... it's just part of the work we all get to undertake as we pursue living according to our values. This inner work will also give you a lot that you can pass on to younger folks!

Re: the money conflict.... It's a tough thing to be in business with a hatred of money! I say this from personal experience. I resented money in lots of ways.
I highly, highly recommend Mark Silver's Heart of Business website and his course Heart of Money. I took it twice. The second time I used it to catch up on 9 years of unfiled tax returns and call in an overdue personal loan, resulting in $4,000 Cdn in income during the program. My feelings about money itself were completely rewired. (distinguishing here between money as a flow of lifeforce and capitalism, etc.) Here's the course page:
https://www.heartofbusiness.com/training-programs/heart-of-money/

I'll also pass on my favorite book on growing for profit in wooded areas: Farming The Woods.
I'm on 14 acres of boggy black spruce in Nova Scotia and I'm hoping to plant wild leeks, ginseng and endangered woodland medicinals, like goldthread, etc. Here's the link to the book.
https://www.amazon.com/Farming-Woods-Integrated-Permaculture-Medicinals/dp/1603585079

Unfortunately, I can't help you with the licensing part of the equation. I'm sure others with more knowledge will chime in.
Best wishes to you!



Thank you for the links and advice. You’re definitely right, there are some internal conflicts I deal with. I feel extremely fortunate and well off and for some crazy reason feel that I would be happier if I wasn’t. The parable of the camel passing through the eye of a needle being easier than a rich manmaking it to heaven keeps lingering in my mind. Comfort and convenience are sticky like glue and it holds me in a position that is not sustainable. I often wish I was poor and hungry, then money and comfort would be so far from my mind that I would just focus on the only things I care about: food, water, shelter, breath, sleep and my wife. But the cushy conveniences all require attention and upkeep, thought and money.

I spend a lot of time focusing on the task at hand, especially at work. It keeps me from feeling unhappy or stressed, which is great. But then when I do start thinking, I realize I’ve made zero progress increasing my sustainability or actualizing my dream. I feel like I shouldn’t be happy and at peace while working because it gets me nowhere that I want to be. But then if I daydream all day while I work, that just makes me feel like I’m the wrong tool for the job I’m performing. While I’m at work I feel like I’m a screwdriver being used to pound nails in. Its not why I’m here in this life, its just a goofy game I play because I haven’t figured out an alternative yet.

As far as farming the woods goes, that is a cool idea and I may follow suit. We do have leeks here already but ginseng would be a nice addition.

I’ve also recently became aware of a book called Conscious Capitalism and might buy that. The premise is along the lines of practicing capitalism for the sake of creating value as opposed to making profit can transform our relationship with money and business. That if we’re in it for money, we will be plagued with greed and competition. But if we’re in it to create a valuable product, service or experience, the money will come along with happiness and relationships with others. Makes sense to me!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Michelle Heath wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:I hear and see all these videos of happy, “successful” permies, but don’t understand how they make it happen. Do they all start out young and debt free? Do they file for bankruptcy and start fresh? Do they just dwindle away, struggling and living 2 lives until retirement and then live the dream? I assume there’s no 1 answer, but I haven’t found any answers for someone in my position. It’s strange; I feel so fortunate to be where I’m at in life, but so unfulfilled and wanting. I so badly want to educate local youth so they can avoid debts and get started on this path earlier on than myself. But how hypocritical of me to try to get them to avoid becoming like me from the standpoint of a privileged person so learned all this by means of having a stable and secure job... I feel like I have no credibility and yet could be highly motivational at the same time. Such a paradox



I can totally relate Brody.  Growing up we were programmed to either go to college, work or both.  I married a year after high-school and had no desire to go to college though I maintained a high GPA through school.  Why not college?  I spent 13 years in school living up to prescribed expectations and having most of my creativity stifled and honestly had no idea of what I wanted to do for a living.  I worked throughout the marriage and between the two of us we lived comfortably and built a house.  Then he died soon after being diagnosed with cancer and that's when the debts started piling up.  I attended college in the evenings after work and happily was able to do so with mostly grants for the first two years.  When I started college I was led to believe my employer would contribute but soon found out that wasn't going to happen, so I changed jobs so I could attend on campus three days a week and that's when I had to take out a student loan.  Luckily I had a great financial aid advisor who pointed out which loans were protected from high-interest rates and advised to borrow no more than was needed.  Unfortunately by the time I remarried I was hopelessly in debt and with the addition of my new husband's debts it looked hopeless.  It's taken many years but we're totally debt-free except for the student loan and I hope to have it whittled away in the next year or two.  

We seem to be part of a society that values material things too much. We have friends that go into debt for Christmas every year and whether or not the previous year's debt is paid off, they do it again the next year.  Why buy the 60" TV if the 32" one is still operational?  Why buy $100 jeans when you can shop the thrift stores for a few dollars?  



I’ve listened to/read Dave Ramseys stuff and hear about people becoming debt free and it sure sounds enticing. But honestly, paying off $150,000 of debt seems more unrealistic than me levitating on command. Im actually really optimistic that the student loans may be forgiven soon, and that would just leave the house debt, which is nothing considering we could just sell the house. But for now, this house and property is the foundation of manifesting my dream. I love it here and would hate to leave, but starting clean and fresh sounds fantastic as well. And I understand you have to spend money to make money, but it never stops! Everything I want to do to save money requires money to make the changes! Water catchment, solar power, growing our own food and chickens... all costs money. 2 steps forward 1 step back is still forward progress though I suppose. Maybe thats what I need to focus on!
 
Abraham Palma
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I hear and see all these videos of happy, “successful” permies, but don’t understand how they make it happen.


I did question that myself several times, and I think I understand a little bit more. In my opinion there are four successful permaculture groups:

-First, you have those who have a full or part time normal job that pays the bills, then they do some permaculture/homesteading to cut expenses as a hobby/second job. They produce just for themselves, no selling crops, for the joy of tending the garden and the contact with Nature. The excess production is just for gifting to friends. I'd say this group is the majority. You are already here.
-Then, you have a few that teach permaculture to willing people, or make some cash selling their permaculture experience/knowledge to the audience, be it on YouTube or whatever. That's enough in some cases to quit the old boring job and dedicate to permaculture full time. They might sell their produce, but you know you are paying for the brand. Count Geoff Lawton and Paul Wheaton here.
-Then you have some people that have embraced poverty, I mean, simplicity, as a way of live. You don't have to pay electricity bills when you have no electricity. I've watched a few families that are happy just with their small huts and their one or two yards garden. They don't have money to pay for repairs, so they do everything themselves, with scavenged materials. If they sell their produce, it's on an informal market. Count Findhorn people in this group.
-Finally you can see some people that are managing small farms and making a living with it, but I'd say that they 'do' care about money. These people don't doubt about using machinery, or any non renewable material. They apply some permaculture techniques to their farms, but they are farmers, not homesteaders. They are bussiness people. Look at Richard Perkins, and the Apricot Lane Farm.
-A final group are those that tried and failed, and never told anyone. There's a reason you don't hear these stories, people dislike to talk about their failures and to learn about other people's failures. So far I've only seen a family admitting that they failed because of a mortgage they couldn't pay in time (long story short, the real state lied to them and they had to live in a rented house for a year while a hut was built in the property, when they were ready to move to the hut, the mother got sick but they had no money left, and the mortgage had to be paid, they chose to save the mother and lost everything else). They had to go back to their country and retake their jobs.

If you hate money as much as you claim, then you should reconsider which group you do want to join. If you want to be a farmer, you must care about money, you might consider to hire staff, and you have to make profits (What Susanna said is very sound). Otherwise, it won't last. If you don't want that much money for yourself, you may reinvest it in your farm, or use it for some reforestation project you might like, but you can't run a bussiness that is always struggling. it just doesn't work. As long as making money is not your prime reason for farming I think it's gonna be OK.
Another option if you love this so much and don't want to be tempted by money, is to become a teacher yourself. Take the courses, master them, then teach them where you live, using your farm as a classroom. This might give you the extra cash you need for paying the bills.

A big difference between a garden and a farm is that in your garden you want to find something to eat everyday, so you plant early and late, and many different species, while in the farm you want to harvest all your crops in one or two days, they must be some easy to sell ready to eat vegetables, and then go to the market to sell them yourself so you can cash a little bit more. In the garden it does not matter if you irrigate one plant a little bit more than necessary or a little bit less, while in the farm you want plants with the same watering needs planted together so you don't waste/lack water. Also, this is subjective, but for me, gardening is a hobby and a pleasure, while farming is a job.

One last note, permaculture is not only about growing veggies. Perhaps there are other fields where you can apply permaculture: housebuilding, earthworks, carpentry, textiles, community service, ... Permaculture is just a way of designing processes that suits some rules.
 
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Brody,

You have already gotten some good advice in this thread. I have gotten the distinct impression from the conversation thus far that there are some underlying financial issues here.  I am a bit concerned your current plans cost much more money that you may expect and would exacerbate those underlying issues.

Coming from a family that ran a small business, it does not sound like you are in a great financial situation to be starting a small business. I would strongly encourage you to not spend additional money on the things listed, but rather figure out where your money is going and reduce your expenses to pay down your debt. (budgeting, spend less, save more) Over time you can work yourself into a better financial position to be able to transition your “hobby” into a “business.”

If you are serious about getting this going, as you pay down your debt figure out very low cost methods to really get started. Bite off one piece at a time, preferably start with something that is low risk but lets you really get a taste of what it is like to do this day in and day out. Often fun hobbies become work when you have to do them day in and day out.

Sorry that this isn’t what you probably wanted to hear.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Perhaps you should look at it backwards.

Decide how much money you need to make in a year, then list the things that could make money in YOUR market, I wouldn't count foraged products from 2.5 acres and I wouldn't rely on any foraged products at all to pay bills, simply because you have no control over them, a bad winter or dry summer and you couldn't pay the bills. Then find the going prices of those things and see how much you would need to sell to hit that target, is it possible? Is it reasonable? Obviously you won't make all the money selling mint but remember that trying to start 1000's of cuttings and keep animals and grow mushrooms all at once is setting yourself up to fail unless you are already experienced at doing all these things in bulk.
After I had a list of things I could do that could make me money I would look at the startup costs and how long it takes. growing veg is very low input and is medium fast, Strawberries are very high cost and take several years to pay back, eggs are high cost but instant, mushrooms are also fairly high input and depending on the type can be a medium term or a long term project, Cuttings and such are going to be fairly high input and depending on type slow. Foraged items of course cost very little (packaging and fuel) but are not consistent.

Look for cottage industry laws, some states have laws where you can do smaller amounts of things like jams without being certified. As an example I can have up to 30 laying chickens and sell eggs with only a paperwork registration but if I have 31 then I need to spend a huge amount of money on tests every 9 weeks against salmonella.

If you put me in Abraham's groups I'm a mix of 3 and 4 we run a small farm selling vegetables and fruit. but we are also in the poor category, we don't take holidays, don't buy anything new, don't have smart phones, don't eat out etc etc. because of that we can stay home and fuss about the place, it does become an issue sometimes and I totally agree that saving money costs money, I would love to add a wood furnace in place of an old oil one to back up the pellet furnace that is the main heat but we can't afford it, the same with better insulation or solar hot water.
 
Michelle Heath
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I’ve listened to/read Dave Ramseys stuff and hear about people becoming debt free and it sure sounds enticing. But honestly, paying off $150,000 of debt seems more unrealistic than me levitating on command. Im actually really optimistic that the student loans may be forgiven soon, and that would just leave the house debt, which is nothing considering we could just sell the house. But for now, this house and property is the foundation of manifesting my dream. I love it here and would hate to leave, but starting clean and fresh sounds fantastic as well. And I understand you have to spend money to make money, but it never stops! Everything I want to do to save money requires money to make the changes! Water catchment, solar power, growing our own food and chickens... all costs money. 2 steps forward 1 step back is still forward progress though I suppose. Maybe thats what I need to focus on!



I've heard of Dave Ramsey but have never read/listened to any of his work.  It took several years for us to get out of debt and it basically started by determining the amount we could live on after utilities and changing our lifestyle.  From there we took the largest debt and paid a bit extra every month.  It doesn't happen overnight.  We closed our shop within a seasonal market last year due to the pandemic and the fact that the owner has let the property go downhill.  What surprised us was that when we considered our rent, gas, food and drinks while working, we saved over $500 a month.  That's $500 worth of merchandise we don't have to sell to break even.  So while we're selling considerably less, we're seeing more profit.

Im going to suggest tackling one thing at a time on your property as well.  I've spent years trying to tackle too many things at once and now that I have a child, I want to enjoy my time with her instead of being too busy working on seemingly endless projects.  I fully expected to have a greenhouse by this time but time, money and health dictated otherwise.  It's still at the top of the list for this year but lots of little projects (leveling, foundation, etc.) need to be tackled first.  I had also planned to test the market with herb plants as well this year but that depends on the pandemic.  I may simply concentrate on building up my stock and propagating this year.  

Have you looked into buying used proponents for your water catchment and solar systems?  Availability would probably be limited but that would be a great way to cut costs up front.

 
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I often think of this oft used adage: "...penny wise and pound foolish..." as being backwards. So much money vanishes and is disregarded on the "small stuff". The drive-thru coffee is a prime example... it's just a few bucks, but it is THOSE expenditures that add up, frightfully fast, to the tune of hundreds if not thousands in a year.

Cutting out the "coffee" or other such luxuries can provide the funds for the critical infrastructure that is desired.

Finding used or repurposed items can cut the cost of a project in half, if not more. Looking into grants, tax breaks etc. can also lower costs, or perhaps someone has "new tech" and wants a guinea pig for testing?

Perhaps hire on (or even "volunteer) at a company that builds/installs the systems you are interested in. It is a great way to earn income/experience AND get a sharp discount...  

Sometimes the best way to save for or finance a project is to just think "outside the box" for alternatives, rather than just pay cash (oh, that can often get you a discount!).
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:

I hear and see all these videos of happy, “successful” permies, but don’t understand how they make it happen.
I did question that myself several times, and I think I understand a little bit more. In my opinion there are four successful permaculture groups:



Thank you for this response, you really laid things out well! I agree that I’m already “successful” in one of those groups and that I need to kind of set my sights for where I want to be in the future. The struggle with the money aspect of things is that my wife and I dont see eye to eye on that, but that’s a different topic.

I definitely think that, at least ideally, I’ll be bridging the gap between several of those groups in the future though. In my mind, producing most of our own food for our family and living sustainably in our own way is #1 priority. After that, or as opportunities present themselves, I would love to make money in related fields and have several ideas on how to do it. I think maybe taking a pdc or something similar to get my “papers” could be wise. Then I could start a small sustainable edible landscape design business. Also, selling some plants, herbs, mushrooms, vegetables, eggs and seeds can give me connections and a customer base. Id also love to teach local youth, which is strange because I’m not someone who does great around kids. I just want to inform them of what I didn’t know while I was in school. I had to figure this stuff out in my mid twenties as I was already in a career and accumulating debt. I’d love to help them understand permaculture and it’s importance before they commit to college, mortgages, careers and whatever other responsibilities “normal “ life pushes at us. Help them to see the significance, the opportunities and give them the resources to make it happen. That is really important to me.

 
Brody Ekberg
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John Young wrote:Brody,

You have already gotten some good advice in this thread. I have gotten the distinct impression from the conversation thus far that there are some underlying financial issues here.  I am a bit concerned your current plans cost much more money that you may expect and would exacerbate those underlying issues.

Coming from a family that ran a small business, it does not sound like you are in a great financial situation to be starting a small business. I would strongly encourage you to not spend additional money on the things listed, but rather figure out where your money is going and reduce your expenses to pay down your debt. (budgeting, spend less, save more) Over time you can work yourself into a better financial position to be able to transition your “hobby” into a “business.”

If you are serious about getting this going, as you pay down your debt figure out very low cost methods to really get started. Bite off one piece at a time, preferably start with something that is low risk but lets you really get a taste of what it is like to do this day in and day out. Often fun hobbies become work when you have to do them day in and day out.

Sorry that this isn’t what you probably wanted to hear.



I agree that getting into more debt by starting a small business might not be wise. Although I am hopeful that at least the student loans may be forgiven in the near future, that still leaves a mortgage. I think probably keeping my job, at least for now, and adding new small income streams one at a time is probably safer in the long run. I do have to admit that playing things safe and being logical about everything really feels wrong to me a lot of the time, but my wife appreciates it!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Perhaps you should look at it backwards.

Decide how much money you need to make in a year, then list the things that could make money in YOUR market, I wouldn't count foraged products from 2.5 acres and I wouldn't rely on any foraged products at all to pay bills, simply because you have no control over them, a bad winter or dry summer and you couldn't pay the bills. Then find the going prices of those things and see how much you would need to sell to hit that target, is it possible? Is it reasonable? Obviously you won't make all the money selling mint but remember that trying to start 1000's of cuttings and keep animals and grow mushrooms all at once is setting yourself up to fail unless you are already experienced at doing all these things in bulk.
After I had a list of things I could do that could make me money I would look at the startup costs and how long it takes. growing veg is very low input and is medium fast, Strawberries are very high cost and take several years to pay back, eggs are high cost but instant, mushrooms are also fairly high input and depending on the type can be a medium term or a long term project, Cuttings and such are going to be fairly high input and depending on type slow. Foraged items of course cost very little (packaging and fuel) but are not consistent.

Look for cottage industry laws, some states have laws where you can do smaller amounts of things like jams without being certified. As an example I can have up to 30 laying chickens and sell eggs with only a paperwork registration but if I have 31 then I need to spend a huge amount of money on tests every 9 weeks against salmonella.

If you put me in Abraham's groups I'm a mix of 3 and 4 we run a small farm selling vegetables and fruit. but we are also in the poor category, we don't take holidays, don't buy anything new, don't have smart phones, don't eat out etc etc. because of that we can stay home and fuss about the place, it does become an issue sometimes and I totally agree that saving money costs money, I would love to add a wood furnace in place of an old oil one to back up the pellet furnace that is the main heat but we can't afford it, the same with better insulation or solar hot water.



I think looking at it backward from the angle of how much money we need to make would be very difficult because my wife and I have different opinions on that one. I’d damn near sacrifice everything to be able align myself with permaculture ethics more, but she feels that we are already sacrificing and not terribly interested in more at this moment. Especially considering children in our near future.

Good point with the cottage food laws though. I think there are probably several ways we can make a little money selling simple things that fall into this category. Also, just biting the bullet and getting certified to sell mushrooms and function as a small scale nursery really wont cost much and will motivate me to grow those aspects of our life enough to make them profitable, or at least break even. One thing at a time is probably wise though so as not to overwhelm myself (I’m good at that)!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Michelle Heath wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:I’ve listened to/read Dave Ramseys stuff and hear about people becoming debt free and it sure sounds enticing. But honestly, paying off $150,000 of debt seems more unrealistic than me levitating on command. Im actually really optimistic that the student loans may be forgiven soon, and that would just leave the house debt, which is nothing considering we could just sell the house. But for now, this house and property is the foundation of manifesting my dream. I love it here and would hate to leave, but starting clean and fresh sounds fantastic as well. And I understand you have to spend money to make money, but it never stops! Everything I want to do to save money requires money to make the changes! Water catchment, solar power, growing our own food and chickens... all costs money. 2 steps forward 1 step back is still forward progress though I suppose. Maybe thats what I need to focus on!



I've heard of Dave Ramsey but have never read/listened to any of his work.  It took several years for us to get out of debt and it basically started by determining the amount we could live on after utilities and changing our lifestyle.  From there we took the largest debt and paid a bit extra every month.  It doesn't happen overnight.  We closed our shop within a seasonal market last year due to the pandemic and the fact that the owner has let the property go downhill.  What surprised us was that when we considered our rent, gas, food and drinks while working, we saved over $500 a month.  That's $500 worth of merchandise we don't have to sell to break even.  So while we're selling considerably less, we're seeing more profit.

Im going to suggest tackling one thing at a time on your property as well.  I've spent years trying to tackle too many things at once and now that I have a child, I want to enjoy my time with her instead of being too busy working on seemingly endless projects.  I fully expected to have a greenhouse by this time but time, money and health dictated otherwise.  It's still at the top of the list for this year but lots of little projects (leveling, foundation, etc.) need to be tackled first.  I had also planned to test the market with herb plants as well this year but that depends on the pandemic.  I may simply concentrate on building up my stock and propagating this year.  

Have you looked into buying used proponents for your water catchment and solar systems?  Availability would probably be limited but that would be a great way to cut costs up front.



I agree that tackling one thing at a time is probably best as I tend to overwhelm myself all summer long expanding things and starting new projects. And we are probably starting a family soon, which honestly scares me because I know that will slow me down big time. And probably make my job and its benefits feel that much more enticing, which also scares me! And as far as used stuff goes, our water tanks are used, but I’ll probably be buying new plumbing and whatnot just for the sake of having a full lifespan on the stuff. I haven’t looked into solar at all yet, so dont even know what that entails. It’s more of just a future goal at this point.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:I often think of this oft used adage: "...penny wise and pound foolish..." as being backwards. So much money vanishes and is disregarded on the "small stuff". The drive-thru coffee is a prime example... it's just a few bucks, but it is THOSE expenditures that add up, frightfully fast, to the tune of hundreds if not thousands in a year.

Cutting out the "coffee" or other such luxuries can provide the funds for the critical infrastructure that is desired.

Finding used or repurposed items can cut the cost of a project in half, if not more. Looking into grants, tax breaks etc. can also lower costs, or perhaps someone has "new tech" and wants a guinea pig for testing?

Perhaps hire on (or even "volunteer) at a company that builds/installs the systems you are interested in. It is a great way to earn income/experience AND get a sharp discount...  

Sometimes the best way to save for or finance a project is to just think "outside the box" for alternatives, rather than just pay cash (oh, that can often get you a discount!).



I agree that the small stuff adds up. I’m pretty good about my personal spending. Basically any time I spend a penny i consider my unhappiness at work and the sustainability of my actions, which does a good job of keeping me in check. My wife feels a little differently though. She likes things and stuff, shopping and tea from the cafe... i dont get it but whatever.

Im also pretty good about collecting useful junk to repurpose, and often do find good uses for the stuff. I built a chicken coop last summer and at least half of it was free scavenged materials. Definitely saved some money, and kept stuff out of a landfill, at least for now. And yes I agree, thinking outside the box is almost always a good idea!
 
Abraham Palma
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i dont get it but whatever.


These little indulgences are a way to feel that you are thriving. We need to feel that we are thriving as a reinforcement of our daily efforts. You know you worked hard, but if you just look at the bank account, that might be not enough to let you feel that your efforts were worth it. Yes, the numbers in the account are increasing, but what do numbers mean actually? On the other hand, a tea cup in a coffee is something real, a luxury you can afford because you worked hard to be able to indulge yourself.

If you are into spiritual things, the tea might be a ritual that appaises her fears, so her soul is calmer when she performs the ritual. Remove that from her and her mood will turn very ugly. It's a good thing that you respect her ways. Give her some other luxury she can indulge on, if you really want her to be able to pass purchased hot teas. But honestly, that's already a pretty cheap indulgence.
 
Susanna Hammond
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Hi Brody.
I see two major sources of stress in your writing. One is easier to work with as it's internal, but one is a BIG RED FLAG! (And fair warning, I'm not going to pull any punches...)

It takes a lot of energy to do all the planning and work you're thinking about. It also takes a lot more energy than you might realize to be constantly thinking things SHOULD be different than they are at this moment. Is there a way you could totally embrace your job and salary right now as a way to fund your dream? To understand that you are totally supported (at a time when thousands are losing jobs) and that just maybe everything is working out perfectly?
I've found the books of Matt Kahn really helpful in this, especially the book "Everything is Here to Help You".

Now to the red flag..... And I say this with great caring for you and your family and your chance to live a good life together.....

It sounds like you and your wife are on REALLY different pages in terms of the kind of life you're dreaming of. Are there already children on the way in your near future?
I can hear clearly in your words that you and she have very different definitions of what a good life looks like.  This is, in my estimation, a recipe for hell! You have the opportunity now to find your way to the same dream so you can fully row together towards it.

As a woman (and experienced counselor) I might venture a guess that she married you in the life and job you currently have assuming that you will eventually let go of your dream or she will be able to change / slow down your execution of it, especially once you have children. One of the biggest energy drains, when it comes to creating a dream, is someone in your life who is actively working against it! Does she know what your full-on vision for a life of integrity looks like down the road?

If you're wondering whether you might have a subconscious desire at work to NOT make progress toward stepping away from your job, I would point directly to the possibility that your wife is not on board with that. I did personal coaching with people on life purpose for many years and the #1 reason people don't move toward a dream is the possibility of angering or alienating a person close to them who wants them to stay the same.

My husband of 6 years and I separated in 2019 because, no matter how hard we tried to work it out, we were just not working together but in opposition. I went traveling, doing work exchanges, some on farms. Ironically, we both had 2 years of experiences that have led us to appreciate each other's take on things a lot more and we've reconciled. We now have a clear plan for how we're going to prioritize our major goals and how we will divide the work and who has authority in which areas and which ones are shared and require consultation. We never had any of that before.

I will say here unequivocally that "Whatever" is NOT a strategy for reconciling with the different life goals and lifestyle your spouse is holding. If the money is shared and you each have different ideas of what to do with it, and/or if you have to ask permission (as I did living on my husband's property) for every little thing you want to do, that is truly not going to be a life of peace and enjoyment. And I guarantee, it only gets worse unless you're actively and joyfully working together or you're both actively in full support of your spouse's chosen lifestyle.

I know I'm being a little harsh about this. But with the possibility of children in your future, I don't feel inclined to hold back. This could become THEIR hell, along with yours.

It would be great for the two of you to sit down and talk about your goals and dreams from the stance of "I really want to help us both have a great life together with everything we really want." If that doesn't feel possible on your own (that's a sign in itself), find someone to help you have that conversation in a kind and supportive way. With enough love and goodwill for each other, a lot of difference can be worked out. And yet, completely opposite visions of life is a harder thing to reconcile. Better to look it in the face sooner than later.

Sorry to lay this on you in a (semi) public forum, but it's so important I just couldn't withhold it.
Susanna
 
Lorinne Anderson
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After reading the comments since and in response mine, I have to support Susanna in her comments.

I notice the use of "I", not "we" in the majority of your statements. I notice multiple times where you clearly comprehend your wife has a different, even strongly different viewpoint on an issue; and yet you seem to blow it off as "a different issue" or "her issue", as if the contradiction is simply a small annoyance, not worth wasting time over.

Please do not think this comes from judgment, in fact it comes from fear.

I fear, YOU think you are both sledding along nicely in the snow; when in fact you are an aspiring Olympic Luge or Bobsled runner and your wife thinks you are with her, content at the toboggin hill, with your future kids.

Neither is right or wrong; they are just VERY different. Please, listen to Susanna. It is time to have a very open, cards on the table dialogue with your wife; total honesty from you both. Going forward you need to know that when you come to a fork, your joint understanding of your collective goals will cause you BOTH to choose the same road, everytime.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:

i dont get it but whatever.



If you are into spiritual things, the tea might be a ritual that appaises her fears, so her soul is calmer when she performs the ritual. Remove that from her and her mood will turn very ugly. It's a good thing that you respect her ways. Give her some other luxury she can indulge on, if you really want her to be able to pass purchased hot teas. But honestly, that's already a pretty cheap indulgence.



I cant complain much about her tea buying because, since her family and friends know she love the local coffee shop, they get her gift cards for birthdays and holidays. So, often times it doesn’t cost us anything. What does seem crazy to me about it though is how I put time, effort and care i to harvesting medicinal mushrooms, herbs, berries and roots from the wild and our property for use in herbal teas. All wild, all organic, all free and all right in our own home. She will gladly look past all that and drive 3 miles into town for some black tea though! Like I said though, I really can’t complain about it too much.
 
Abraham Palma
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All wild, all organic, all free and all right in our own home.



It's not hard to see that these things are not what she values in her tea cups.
I don't get people that feel moved over a piece of poetry or a modern picture, but other people value these things.
That's not craziness, that's simply different values.

My father's family is the same, they all love to take breakfast in the caffeteria. I can't stand it. It's not that I dislike the food, but it's something so freaking cheap to prepare at home that I don't see the reason to have breakfast outside when I have time to prepare it myself. But they do. And this means that I have to accompany them to the coffee when I pay a visit to them. Why do they like it so much? For my uncle I could argue that he really does not have time to prepare his breakfast, and he is not skilled enough either. But the others, I suspect they do it to show the village they have the means to do it, in the first place, then it's an established habit. You know, what's the point about having money if you can't show it? I believe this is what they value most, being able to show their status. It's a very human thing, by the way. But if you ever ask them why, they will say that it's because they like it, what else?
I think this difference in values is because I don't give a damn about what other people might think of me, while they are very consciuos about their status.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:After reading the comments since and in response mine, I have to support Susanna in her comments.

I notice the use of "I", not "we" in the majority of your statements. I notice multiple times where you clearly comprehend your wife has a different, even strongly different viewpoint on an issue; and yet you seem to blow it off as "a different issue" or "her issue", as if the contradiction is simply a small annoyance, not worth wasting time over.

Please do not think this comes from judgment, in fact it comes from fear.

I fear, YOU think you are both sledding along nicely in the snow; when in fact you are an aspiring Olympic Luge or Bobsled runner and your wife thinks you are with her, content at the toboggin hill, with your future kids.

Neither is right or wrong; they are just VERY different. Please, listen to Susanna. It is time to have a very open, cards on the table dialogue with your wife; total honesty from you both. Going forward you need to know that when you come to a fork, your joint understanding of your collective goals will cause you BOTH to choose the same road, everytime.



I try to be careful about using “I” vs “we”. If I use “I” often, I catch myself and feel like I’m not considering my wife’s involvement which isn’t fair. But on the other hand, there are a number of things that she has little to no involvement with, and in those cases “we” seems unfair. For instance, my entire vision for the future or our property, it’s design and it’s creation has been mostly in my hands. She voices opinions and answers some questions, but I’m doing the work. She will occasionally help out, but I dont ask for it and often times she has other stuff going on.

We are very different in our interests, and she has voiced concerns over this multiple times in the past. I honestly feel like differences have to make for a stronger relationship, assuming compromises are made on both sides. And in defense of our differences being ok, I’ll add that we both have gone through big changes together and really aren’t the same people we were when we fell in love. My interests were always largely to do with nature, but they have grown from interests to passions and for very specific reasons, and over a very short time span (I had a bit of a mental blowout/spiritual revelation a few years back where my entire life seemed to turn inside out, hence my being here now). She essentially had no time to acclimate to that. I told her what had happened, that things are different now and that I’m sorry but it’s out of my control. She stuck by my side and has been very instrumental helping me along the way. Now on her side of the picture, she has also changed quite a lot from where she used to be. She was athletic, always involved in sports, always hanging with friends and went through 3 major career choice changes. She moved with me to our current location for my current job. Sports have mostly disappeared from her life, shes hours from all of her friends and family, has been struggling with her health and wellness for several years and has realized that her dream of teaching young kids in public school is not actually enjoyable. She still clomgtto/misses friends, family and sports and really hasnt replaced any of that with new hobbies. I try to get her interested in gardening and whatnot, but she feels like it is work and just wants to enjoy her time off. I suspect her attitude would change if she gave it more chances. And really, she has gotten much more involved with my nature related activities over the years and does enjoy some of it.

All that being said, we have supported eachother and grown together the whole time. I’ve told her before: I’m not with her because she’s just like me, or because she makes my life easier, or because we see eye to eye on everything. None of that is the case. I’m with her because she makes me a better person, helps me to see my own strengths and weaknesses and work on them, and most importantly, I’ve been with and without her more than once (we had a rocky start back in high school) and I have always enjoyed life more with her. My mother can even testify to the fact that started smiling again when we got back together years ago, and that means a lot from her at that time because she didn’t particularly care for my girlfriend at the time!

Your sledding analogy was actually pretty accurate, except I dont think she believes I will be content on the toboggan hill. She knows how I feel and what is important to me. She knows how serious I am with changes I want to make. And she knows why I feel a pressure to act now instead of waiting for retirement or convenience or whatever people wait for.

I do really appreciated the concerns and advice! Thank you
 
Brody Ekberg
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Susanna Hammond wrote:Hi Brody.
I see two major sources of stress in your writing. One is easier to work with as it's internal, but one is a BIG RED FLAG!

It takes a lot of energy to do all the planning and work you're thinking about. It also takes a lot more energy than you might realize to be constantly thinking things SHOULD be different than they are at this moment. Is there a way you could totally embrace your job and salary right now as a way to fund your dream? To understand that you are totally supported (at a time when thousands are losing jobs) and that just maybe everything is working out perfectly?

Now to the red flag...

It sounds like you and your wife are on REALLY different pages in terms of the kind of life you're dreaming of. Are there already children on the way in your near future?
I can hear clearly in your words that you and she have very different definitions of what a good life looks like.  This is, in my estimation, a recipe for hell! You have the opportunity now to find your way to the same dream so you can fully row together towards it.

As a woman (and experienced counselor) I might venture a guess that she married you in the life and job you currently have assuming that you will eventually let go of your dream or she will be able to change / slow down your execution of it, especially once you have children. One of the biggest energy drains, when it comes to creating a dream, is someone in your life who is actively working against it! Does she know what your full-on vision for a life of integrity looks like down the road?

If you're wondering whether you might have a subconscious desire at work to NOT make progress toward stepping away from your job, I would point directly to the possibility that your wife is not on board with that. I did personal coaching with people on life purpose for many years and the #1 reason people don't move toward a dream is the possibility of angering or alienating a person close to them who wants them to stay the same.

My husband of 6 years and I separated in 2019 because, no matter how hard we tried to work it out, we were just not working together but in opposition. I went traveling, doing work exchanges, some on farms. Ironically, we both had 2 years of experiences that have led us to appreciate each other's take on things a lot more and we've reconciled. We now have a clear plan for how we're going to prioritize our major goals and how we will divide the work and who has authority in which areas and which ones are shared and require consultation. We never had any of that before.

I will say here unequivocally that "Whatever" is NOT a strategy for reconciling with the different life goals and lifestyle your spouse is holding. If the money is shared and you each have different ideas of what to do with it, and/or if you have to ask permission (as I did living on my husband's property) for every little thing you want to do, that is truly not going to be a life of peace and enjoyment. And I guarantee, it only gets worse unless you're actively and joyfully working together or you're both actively in full support of your spouse's chosen lifestyle.

I know I'm being a little harsh about this. But with the possibility of children in your future, I don't feel inclined to hold back. This could become THEIR hell, along with yours.

It would be great for the two of you to sit down and talk about your goals and dreams from the stance of "I really want to help us both have a great life together with everything we really want." If that doesn't feel possible on your own (that's a sign in itself), find someone to help you have that conversation in a kind and supportive way. With enough love and goodwill for each other, a lot of difference can be worked out. And yet, completely opposite visions of life is a harder thing to reconcile. Better to look it in the face sooner than later.



Hi Susanna, and thank you for your care and concern.

First off, I’ll address my own internal cluster. I was actually just talking to my wife about this over the weekend. I feel both extremely fortunate and very bad for myself at the same time, and both feelings are easily justifiable. I’ve gotten quite good at accepting my job and the blessings in my life which is essentially accomplished by focusing on what I’m doing instead of thinking about things while I’m doing other things. Thats all fine, and keeps me in a better mood. But it doesn’t change anything or make progress towards a different future, because while I’m present, there isn’t a future. When I start thinking about the future, I stress. Partly because I’m always busy, so if I’m thinking I’m “multitasking” and that doesn’t work... the other part is because when I think of the future, I compare it to all my peaceful presence at work and realize I’ve gotten nowhere for it. I think my words to my wife were “why should I be at peace at work? I sit on ass for hours, I burn fossil fuels, i feel unfulfilled and I work for a company who seemingly does not care about it he environment besides the bare legal minimum. Even if we’re well of for it, theres no reason those things should sit well with me. I think my disgruntlement is totally acceptable, regardless of how much money I make or the benefits they give me.” Plus, as far as funding my dream goes: my dream is pretty free. I just need time. My job eats all my time and gives me money instead. But money doesn’t buy happiness, fulfillment,  purpose, health or sustainability and so it’s got little value to me personally.

Now for the red flag:

Children are in our future plans. She has always wanted to be a mother, and actually believes it is her purpose. Her family said shes been changing diapers and taking care of younger children since she was a toddler herself. She also wants to adopt. Until the last couple years, I was a hard NO for having biological children, for various reasons (most to do with fear), and adopting had never crossed my mind. Now, although the thought of being physically and financially responsible for another human being, and by choice, still seems horrifying to me, I do feel an urge to be a father and am a bit excited about the idea of it. And adoption actually sounds like a fantastic idea to me now, even better than biological birth. Honestly, my main hold up for not having kids yet is because I know I will feel that much more obligated to keep my current job, and will get pressure from others to keep it as well. My wife has also given me her blessing to quit whenever, although she thinks I should wait until after we “have kids”. I tried to eel our what “have kids” means to her (literal birth, start speaking, get into school, graduate, move out...) but we haven’t defined it yet.

I also have told her that she is one of my only reasons for not quitting my job years ago. I think it would stress her more than she needs right now and I would rather slowly struggle with her towards a sustainable life together than to sprint alone towards it without her. And in our experience together I have found that she always runs more slowly than me. I dive in without testing waters. She has to be in the mood first, and then a lot of tip toeing around always comes before the splash. I have found that rushing her or pushing her into anything backfires horribly. She comes around in her own time on her own terms, and that usually is more slowly than myself. I think we benefit from being different and compromising. I really dont think she’s intentionally “holding me back” or trying to keep me the same. If she is, she has not succeeded and is taking her failure pretty well, haha.

I also feel that current world events are helping her see the value in my ideals and future goals. Most of what she was clinging to is fizzling away now anyway, and we’re in a situation where, as a society, things must change. She sees that and is on board, just not as excited about it as me.

Over the years, most of our big conversations happen rather heatedly, and tend to be ugly. In anticipation of having a good conversation, I made a PowerPoint slideshow/ game out of it to try to gently show her that our values and priorities align more than she realizes. It’s been a few years though and I still haven’t shown her the PowerPoint. Maybe we will get into it soon. And from a counselors perspective, is it encouraging that your concerns have actually motivated me? I dont feel rattled by it at all and still have total faith in our relationship. I’m in it for the long haul, knowing it won’t be easy and will require sacrificing. Essentially, me still working my job and slowing down at all with my dream is a sacrifice. And her putting up with me frantically jumping into new ideas every day has required her to make sacrifices as well. Mentally of not anything physically. I really just think our main differences are relatively small. I dive in, she tiptoes. I like to take more risks and worry less, she is cautious and worries often. I think society is largely insane and dont care if I’m “normal” or how things look. She acknowledges that her friends and family are part of society and does care how things look, therefore wants to at least retain some semblance of “normalcy” in our life. I just see it as a balancing act.
 
Susanna Hammond
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Hey Brody.
Thank you for your thoughtful, in depth responses and I hope you and your wife had a happy Valentine's Day!

It's hard to get the full picture of a person's life from a series of postings. I'll admit, I had the impression of a relationship with fewer miles on it. It sounds like the two of you have rolled together through quite a lot over the years and withstood some major tests. I'm really happy for you! There must be some strong intentions holding you together, or you might have come apart by now.

I also definitely agree that her caution is a very good balance to your "enthusiasm", lol. And yes, I would say it's very good news that our thoughts have been motivating, rather than a total downer.

From the perspective of both a wife and counselor, the one thing I would recommend is that you find a way together to have fruitful discussions that aren't blowouts. We tend to inherit whatever ways our parents worked things out. Good dialogue is very definitely a skill and, in my opinion, it should be on the SKIP skills list. The upside of that, is that it's both learnable and teachable if someone is willing. And it takes conscious practice. If one of you has a more positive skillset from your parents, perhaps let them lead the process. And find ways to interrupt the old pattern when things get heated. Laughter helps a lot! And I think a PowerPoint is an awesome idea.

Re: how you're feeling at work..... I was thinking a moment ago, I wonder if you could enjoy the feeling of being in your workplace but not "of it"..... sitting there at your desk knowing that you are energetically, just by being there and being you, broadcasting the subtle seeds of change all over that place. I wonder if there are others there holding some of the same ideas that you haven't met yet. Intention is a powerful thing. By intending it, you just might find another subversive at your work place who is also flying under the radar like you are.

I wish you all the very best with all of your dreams Brody!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:

All wild, all organic, all free and all right in our own home.



It's not hard to see that these things are not what she values in her tea cups.
I don't get people that feel moved over a piece of poetry or a modern picture, but other people value these things.
That's not craziness, that's simply different values.

My father's family is the same, they all love to take breakfast in the caffeteria. I can't stand it. It's not that I dislike the food, but it's something so freaking cheap to prepare at home that I don't see the reason to have breakfast outside when I have time to prepare it myself. But they do. And this means that I have to accompany them to the coffee when I pay a visit to them. Why do they like it so much? For my uncle I could argue that he really does not have time to prepare his breakfast, and he is not skilled enough either. But the others, I suspect they do it to show the village they have the means to do it, in the first place, then it's an established habit. You know, what's the point about having money if you can't show it? I believe this is what they value most, being able to show their status. It's a very human thing, by the way. But if you ever ask them why, they will say that it's because they like it, what else?
I think this difference in values is because I don't give a damn about what other people might think of me, while they are very consciuos about their status.



I think you may be right with it being ritualistic, even without her being conscious of it. She has said how just going there and getting tea makes her happy and feel good, and she doesn’t know why. Lot’s of people probably have that experience with rituals of sorts. If I didn’t overanalyze everything I might feel that way too!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Susanna Hammond wrote:. I'll admit, I had the impression of a relationship with fewer miles on it. It sounds like the two of you have rolled together through quite a lot over the years and withstood some major tests. I'm really happy for you! There must be some strong intentions holding you together, or you might have come apart by now.

I also definitely agree that her caution is a very good balance to your "enthusiasm", lol. And yes, I would say it's very good news that our thoughts have been motivating, rather than a total downer.

From the perspective of both a wife and counselor, the one thing I would recommend is that you find a way together to have fruitful discussions that aren't blowouts. We tend to inherit whatever ways our parents worked things out.

Re: how you're feeling at work..... I was thinking a moment ago, I wonder if you could enjoy the feeling of being in your workplace but not "of it"..... sitting there at your desk knowing that you are energetically, just by being there and being you, broadcasting the subtle seeds of change all over that place. I wonder if there are others there holding some of the same ideas that you haven't met yet. Intention is a powerful thing. By intending it, you just might find another subversive at your work place who is also flying under the radar like you are.



Don’t let me fool you, we aren’t old and wise! We had a couple years dating in middle/high school, then a couple years apart. Then seriously dated and lived together for another couple years and now have been married for 4 years. Long enough to learn each other’s tendencies and what does and doesn’t work.

Also, we are both quite cautious (usually) during serious discussions for several reasons: my parents have horrible, almost a complete lack of communication together. I’ve been expecting divorce for a decade or longer and still don’t understand why they are together, or why they haven’t started communicating better if deciding they should remain together. I learned a valuable lesson from watching them and make communication high on our priority list to avoid their pitfalls. Her parents seem to get along much better, but I dont know their actual communication with eachother. Whatever they do is definitely working, at least from an outside perspective.

Her dad is a bit antagonist and can be quite defensive, and she definitely inherited those traits. But she is very aware of it, works to correct it and has come a long way in the last few years.

About work: you’re right and reminded me of a previous state of mind/being that I have been in. Shortly after my “revelation” I was a lot like you described. Very detached from, but aware of and present at work. Just doing one thing at a time with full focus and little to no thought. It was quite peaceful and free feeling. I think I’ve gotten lost in business and forward progress. Now I’m back to attempting to multitask and have multiple things on my mind at once. Always feeling an agenda and pressure. I’m aware of it and nobody can fix that but me. I just worry that being at peace at my job will give me less drive to leave it. But, fear is not faith, quite the opposite really. And my drive to leave work causes stress. I suppose leaving work can still be a goal and priority without feeling like it needs to be done asap. Once again, it’s another balancing act. Maybe life is like being on a trapeze at the circus, haha.

 
Abraham Palma
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Maybe life is like being on a trapeze at the circus, haha.


I urge you to write this in your profile signature!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Abraham Palma wrote:

Maybe life is like being on a trapeze at the circus, haha.


I urge you to write this in your profile signature!



I like the idea!... now to figure out how (story of my life) haha
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