Of Dreams, Decisions & The Opinions That Surround You

July 8, 2015

Three years ago, almost to the day, when we first moved out to the middle of nowhere, we were met with all kinds of reactions. For the most part, folks were supportive (if not a bit skeptical about our long term prospects) – some thought we were crazy and could never picture doing something similar or the same. But two conversations in particular stand out in my mind as lessons for how we’ve calibrated our own expectations over the months and years that have ensued.

“So, how’s doing…nothing?”

A few weeks post-island migration, I found myself back in Toronto and in a coffee shop with someone I was once very close with who is now no longer in my life. I hadn’t yet realized how different these kinds of meet ups with friends would be. I no longer had the same conversation topics on my mind. What mattered most was starting to shift, although I was still consulting regularly so in many ways my atmosphere had changed but the day to day was much the same (computer, computer, computer…).

After exchanging a few standard pleasantries, an awkwardly worded (albeit paraphrased now) question came up.

“So…how’s doing…nothing all day? Do you ever miss…work?”


The presumption of course being that I’ve given up my career to spend my days in idyllic fields putting daisies in my hair while thinking about my next nap.

All sorts of feelings started to rise up to the surface as I tried to vaguely but clearly reinforce that (a) I still work, just from home and (b) my goals my have changed, but I still have goals. Our conversation didn’t extend much farther but the question and my reaction stuck with me. On the one hand…how rude! But on the other hand…this probably isn’t the only individual struggling to politely inquire as to what exactly my plan is without sounding like a jerk…presumption that I don’t really have one aside. That right there – that’s ok.


Lesson: I’ve chosen to live a life that rewrites a few rules, so I shouldn’t be surprised when I’m met with varying degrees of confidence, questions, enthusiasm or doubt. In fact, even if I was still living in my downtown apartment aspiring to a all the things that once mattered…same thing applies. Live life by your own rules (and also choose wisely who you engage with).

“I’m concerned because I love you.”

Now let’s back up to the month or so preceding our move. I was in the security line at the airport headed for (surprise, surprise!) Toronto when I texted a friend something like this.

“Heeeeey! So Scott and I are either moving to this remote little island with 1000 people OR we’re headed back to Toronto. Should know after we go visit the cabin this weekend. Yay!”

Again, this was three years ago, so I’m paraphrasing. But yes, it was something that brief and nonchalant about incredibly massive life decisions that I had in no way mentioned to this close confidante at all up until now.


The reaction I got back was less “squee!” and more “I’m concerned….”

Now compared to how I felt at the coffee shop – only slightly defensive, mostly just eye-roll-y – this was one of my best friends. She should be HAPPY for me. No matter WHAT. Cue extended pout through the rest of the security line up.

I am proud to say that it took less than an hour to come to my senses and realize that this is exactly why I have this lovely person in my life. Because she cares. And because my text message was way way crazy without any context, lead up, background or prior conversation.

So, wrong medium to start. But beyond that, also an unrealistic expectation on my part that people will/should just clap because I have ‘news’.


After we got on the phone and later spoke in person, my perspective (i.e. the month long strategizing, options weighing, decision making Scott and I had conducted) and the context around why we would be deciding between two locations that could not be more different…made sense. Well ok, none of this really makes sense…but at least there was more than just a whim and less than 200 characters to explain what on the surface felt understandably irrational from her point of view.

Particularly as someone who had just witnessed a year of extreme personal chaos in my life.

Lesson: Your best friends, the ones you can really lean on, will make you stronger not just by pulling out the balloons and kazoos, but also by challenging you and asking thoughtful, caring questions. Because they care. Not because they’re judging. They honestly care.

So why does this matter?

Well…because in a couple weeks, I’m going to have a lot to tell you. Plans and dreams that are finally coming together after many, many months of searching, dreaming, planning, thinking and scheming about our next move.

It’s a big one. It will sound crazy. I fully expect some – maybe many – of you will say “YAY!” but probably be at home thinking “Those two are bat-shit. They’ve lost their minds. This is what cabin fever looks like.”

We’ll do our best to explain what we can without making every blog post over 1,000 characters (sorry. now do you see why I’ve rewarded you for reading this far with almost a dozen photos of our daughter being over the top adorable?). BUT….please ask questions. We won’t be offended. If you have doubts, would do it a different way, think we’re out of our minds…let’s talk about it! We welcome (actually we love) hearing from you and want to have/start/boost the dialogue around being aspiring young(ish) farmers trying to strike a balance without drowning in debt or growing to hate each other over a dream.

Or missing the childhood of our daughter – and soon to be, some time in November – children. 🙂

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  • Reply Audrey July 9, 2015 at 3:25 am

    Loved this post and getting to hear about the beginning of your journey! Thank you

    • Reply rachel July 10, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      There will be more! Now that the gates have opened, time to bring out more of the memory archives for journey context. 😀

  • Reply Katrina July 9, 2015 at 5:02 am

    The question of doing nothing all day drives me crazy! I have 2 toddlers, a household and a farm to take care of. I’m up at 4 am everyday and on the go until at least 9 with a do-to list that’ll easily take me into next year. But yes, I nap all day and just play with kids and my house is magically clean, chores are completed by magical elves and a gourmet meal from my garden is prepared 3 times daily.
    We too were met with the “you’re crazy!” And continue to get it when we talk (especially to family) about our goals (cattle next year, redoing our barn for hydroponic vegetables, somehow purchasing all the property around us )
    Congratulations on the soon-to-be! I hope everything until then is smooth sailing, lots of resting (yeah right!) and frolicking with daisies in your hair! Two to rough for the first 6 months (and every month after!).
    I love reading about other like-minded crazies “doing that whole farm thing.” To quote my brother in law.

    • Reply rachel July 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Oh this sounds so so familiar – either you get the “that’s way too much!” or “what do you do all day?” extremes from those who just can’t quite wrap their head around all this. Man it feels good to know I’m not alone!

  • Reply Bill Holsinger-Robinson July 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Rachel…Bat-shit crazy plans or not, you and Scott have inspired. Inspired us by taking actions that seem crazy and yet are so true to your natures. Many of us have these kinds of thoughts. But fewer have the courage to act.

    Kate and I are excited to hear about the next dream!

    • Reply rachel July 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Love you guys and can’t WAIT to see you next year! We’ll come with our pitch for having you out to our place for an extended farm stay all ready to go by then. 🙂

  • Reply Nicole Mattingly July 10, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Everyone we know thinks we have lost our minds too. Next week is my last day at a very high paying job. After that, I will be a full time Double N Urban Farm gal. My husband and I both at this point will be self employed. No back up plan, no “nest egg,” no nothing, just a whole heck of a lot of hope, desire, and a smidgen of crazy. As you well know and have so greatly depicted here, you have to do you and not let others ideas and expectations of you drag you down. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for y’all. Best of luck to you all!

    • Reply rachel July 10, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Congratulations!! That’s HUGE! We hope we’re able to follow in your footsteps of going full time farmer soon post-digital freelance life. Not super soon, but soon. You must be so excited about this next phase!

  • Reply Elizabeth July 10, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I don’t mean to be fiery but I just can’t help but feel like you have some really shitty friends. You are being too nice about their complete lack of support and judgement. This is why I get so sick of city people who can’t possibly try to understand why one would give up concrete and cosmopolitans for the countryside. Your “concerned” best friend doesn’t sound particularly interested in your life if that was the first time she heard of these big plans you were weighing. I’d say she was more critical than concerned.

    Rachel, you have an awesome life. You deserve awesome friends who will be SUPPORTIVE and NON-JUDGMENTAL. People change and friendships that can’t evolve – shouldn’t.

    • Reply rachel July 10, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      This is good – it’s why I said please disagree! So, first – I hear where you’re coming from. I read what I wrote a few more times and could see where you might think that…BUT. Let me first present a (hopefully) clearer argument for why the way she reacted was actually incredibly justified….especially in comparison to exhibit A from the post who yes I would wholeheartedly agree..was being judgemental – intentionally or not.

      So first, we need to remember that I had moved to the west coast from Toronto only six months before – my good friend here and I were still in the stage where you are adjusting to seeing someone every darn day to hopefully finding time to catch up on the phone…weekly? Bi-weekly? Not for lack of love but just simply due to time. Which neither of us ever had much of at that moment. On top of it all, I hadn’t used any of my close friends as a sounding board for these crazy notions up until this point other than “I think I’m going to give notice” because in typical me fashion…I’d prefer to have a few ducks in a row first.

      SO – in her defence, she really was blindsided by this because I’d been keeping a secret and didn’t even realize it.

      Next point is the medium. I mention it in the post and I’ll mention it here again…text messages are not a safe space for big news. Especially big, out of the blue landmark decisions that come on the heels of a divorce, temporary relocation to Montreal, quickly packing boxes and moving to Vancouver, a still very new relationship (we’d been together for just about a year at this point?) and a whole lot of history seeing me at my best and at my darkest/twistiest.

      The ‘critical’ piece comes from concern. Am I running toward something or away. Am I ‘giving it all up’ or ‘going all in’? She had/has a right as someone who had been an extremely close confidante during a very difficult time to ask these questions and make sure I’m doing ok. Especially because who in their right mind narrows down their possible new homes to a city with millions of people or a teeny island with 1000 folks?

      I’m glad she reacted that way. I’d way prefer that to a supportive, non-judgemental reaction at face value while someone is secretly worrying about my sanity and not feeling like they could voice it.

      The same could be said for the first friend (new person here!) who ever said to me “Are you happy?” over long island iced teas (remember, no judgement! 😉 ) when I was still married and didn’t even know yet that I really and truly was unhappy. Very unhappy. I had literally dozens of people after letting them know that I was getting a divorce say to me “You’ve been unhappy for a while now…” but no one felt like they could say it. Or thought it was their place to say anything. Her one little question was at the beginning of a wake up call I needed. No, she didn’t cause me to get a divorce but yes, she poked a little bit of a hole in the shiny exterior of “happiness” that I had been working exhaustively to maintain for far longer than it was making a difference.

      All this to say…the concerns for my one dear friend were less about giving up the city and more about giving it all up to ‘escape’ if it meant I wasn’t actually dealing with the world anymore. The concerns for my coffee shop friend was making me feel small and stupid for leaving a 9-5 job. These are two different things from my point of view. However, I think both scenarios are worth pondering because I do think it’s helpful to be mindful…that’s how we can make sure we’re effectively sharing this dream and all these wild decisions with everyone around.

      WHEW! I hope that helps shed a bit more light…promise, I’m very fortunate to have a whole cheerleading squad behind me who thankfully will also tell me when I’m being a royal jerk. 🙂 The rotten eggs…they’re gone now for good.

      (p.s. thank you for caring enough to disagree!)

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