It was a spring day when I was changing my son’s sheets on his bed when I noticed the weird shape hanging off the side of his fitted sheet and on his bed skirt. I knew what it was before I actually knew what it was. I had done the same thing as a kid. Too lazy to get up to get a tissue, I’d wipe my nose contents on the side of my bed, hoping no one would notice, especially my mom. When I came downstairs to ask my son about it, he got a confused look on his face and said, “How did you know I did that?” My response: “I’m a mom, I know these things.”
The booger on the sheet.
The little tiny secret that doesn’t really hurt anyone, but also doesn’t tell the full story. We’ve also had a giant booger on our sheet. A figurative booger–please know I stopped doing that when I was 8. I’ve had a thing looming in the background that I’ve not talked about all summer because it has brought me shame, grief, relief, anxiety, and the unknown. ALL the emotions.
In May, I lost my full-time job of ten years. We never really talk on the blog, social media, or even in person about how both of us work full-time while running this farm. And I have only told a few wedding couples that I still worked full-time outside of the farm. I didn’t want a couple to ever think I wasn’t fully invested in them or their day. Regardless of how busy I am or how crazy our lives get, I take this responsibility of being a part of someone’s wedding day very seriously. When we started this farm four years ago, we knew one of us would need to commit to it full-time at some point. And that was always an awkward subject because I never wanted my employer to think I wasn’t fully invested in my job either.
And so, because of all this, for the past four years I’ve been living split lives. “Day Audra” was hunched over a laptop as a graphic designer cranking out ads for a corporate retirement community system. And “Moonlight Audra” was growing, designing, and running a business with whatever time was left over. The last two years have been much more stressful and filled with angst than my silly Instagram stories might suggest. Our side hustle has defined so much of our lives. I got really good at burning the candle at both ends and we could see there was not much wax left.
How do you keep all the pieces of yourself together when you are a wife, mom, full-time graphic designer, and full-time farmer? How do you eat healthy, have breathing room, read a book, have somewhat of a clean house, have friends, or even grocery shop when every square inch of your life is taken up? The things I have screamed, said, and done during this time are permanently burned in my brain and make me sick when I think about them.
Chris often teases me by repeating one of my favorite lines: “I can’t keep living like this!” Another famous line I’d use is “I need just one job!” because it got to the point where I couldn’t keep all the plates spinning.
In May, Chris and I were sitting on the couch before bed, drinking a beer and discussing our life choices. I think I even said “I can’t keep living like this” once or thirteen times. Together we decided that this might need to be our final growing season with us both working full-time. We would need to take a leap, have a super scary period in our lives where things are even more uncertain, and have me go full-time on the farm. We admitted this with a lot of trepidation, but we could see the numbers and knew the farm just couldn’t go where it needed to with us half assing it. At least one of us needed to whole ass it.Then the next day, I went in to work and the universe shoved me hard off a cliff and told me to take a leap.
I lost my job.
I always wanted to have this be our story: We lived in town, loved to garden, threw caution to the wind, bought a farm, became so successful we were able to quit our jobs, and now we live off the land and life is good.
I became really angry and full of shame that my narrative was changed without my permission. And I felt like a failure because had I worked harder and been more creative, could I have kept my job longer and been able to quit on my terms?
No. The answer to that question is most certainly no.
It didn’t matter because the company I worked for needed to make cuts, and I was simply one of those cuts. But the reality is, we knew this is where we were headed. Before I lost my job, we started outlining next year and pulling together budgets and we could see this was the clear and defined path we needed to take, but we kept shaking our heads no. No we weren’t ready. We needed to be smart and take calculated steps to do this. We have a family to consider, bills to pay, a farm to maintain financially and physically. But are we really fully 100% prepared for anything?
When I got the news I lost my job, our lives were so busy, so it took Chris and me three days to sit down and have the “now what the hell do we do?” talk. I knew in my heart, that I couldn’t fathom trying to go find a job off the farm because I had seen what we could do with the limited time we had on it. I knew what we could do if I was on it full-time. So when we sat down, three days later, I sad, “Now what?” And Chris said, “You work on the farm, obviously.” It’s what we came here to do. The moment we saw our house for the first time, the moment we put that first seed in the ground, the first wedding we booked, the first wholesale account we scored, we knew. We knew this is what we came to do and now it was time to do the damn thing.
I’m so grateful for my job and the time I had there. My job allowed us to build up this business. It taught me how to do sales, marketing, graphic design, and event planning. It taught me how to work and bring people’s visions to life in creative ways, develop relationships, and build a website. I obtained so many of the tools I needed to create our own business from my corporate job. I needed to work for other people and be a part of a team before I could ever understand how to be my own boss and run my own business.
And so I have been doing this thing for five months now and it has been so much different than I thought it would be. It’s fun, hard, good, hard, scary, and hard. Entrepreneurship has really high highs and really low lows. When there’s no safety net of a full-time job to catch you, those lows get even lower and those highs are freaking euphoric. And that just takes me to 10:00 a.m. on most days. Besides parenting, I feel like I have never worked this hard on anything in my entire life. All in all, we’ve had a good year and I feel I have come into the stride of being a full-time business owner. We’re farming much smarter instead of harder. We finally got our floral studio finished this spring. And just last week we paid off our line of credit so that our farm is currently completely debt-free. We’re learning that if we continue to want what we have, then we should always have what we need.
This leap we have taken is super scary, but it also feels amazing to do what I love. Instead of feeling like I’m living two different lives, I’m now fully living the one life I’ve been given. And I can’t really say that’s something I was doing before we started this farm or before we had our son. I’m taking risks, learning from both mistakes and successes, being challenged, and chasing a dream. And now you know the rest of the story. It’s not nearly as glamorous as I’d like, but life rarely is.
Our final wedding of the season was out the door earlier today. We had our first frost last week, which annihilated most of our field flowers. Soon we will begin planning for next spring and plotting the next evolutions of our farm and business. The trees are starting to let go of their leaves, and we too must decide what to let go of, and what to desperately cling to with all our might.
And amidst all that, here I am, with clean sheets, free of boogers.