Hi, my name is Robbyn, and I’ve tried rewriting this post about four times. Writing about myself is awkward and hard to summarize.
I’m not sure I’ve spent much time being concerned about where I fit in or don’t, since it seems to change as life goes on. But I’m very happy to be here, and happy to share a little bit about myself as an introduction.
I grew up in the deep South, mostly in Mississippi, but also with some later years spent in Tennessee, Texas, and a couple of years in Arkansas. I now reside with my husband and daughter in Florida.
My first 18 years of life were a challenge, and a springboard for gaining later perspective. We moved on average every 2 years, and I never had any roots to speak of. My father was handsome, charismatic and convincing, naturally intelligent and at ease around people, and came from a very religious and conservative background. My mother, even more conservative, was very creative, sensitive, intensely insecure, and a perfectionist, and she has always stayed at home. I grew up in a troubled and financially unstable environment, but was taught the importance of etiquette, hard work, achievement, and belief. Appearance was very important to my parents. My father held many jobs throughout the years, which changed often, but were most times in the realm of medical sales. My parents never dumbed us down as young children with baby talk or edited conversations. My father taught me to study about anything I questioned, and he shared with us his familiarity with the medical world. Both my parents always talked about wanting to move to the country to live, raise a garden, and have animals, and we had some occasions where they purchased and cleared land, but then relocated elsewhere because of financial reversals and my father’s changing jobs.
My mother spiraled downward into untreated mental illness and physical problems requiring more and more care, which resulted in a pattern of continued violence and physical/verbal abuse. There was a professional image to be maintained, as well as a family and church status to preserve, so these family secrets remained intact even as they escalated.
I found refuge in books and nature. I also personalized the world and God in my own way. This put me at odds with my mother and made me her special target. I seldom think of these things anymore, but for the first part of my life, they were fairly defining. I don’t harbor bitterness about those days, but I do strongly believe in protective boundaries and making choices so as to not remain a victim.
We did move to some land for a few years when I was a teenager. There were so many things I loved about it…too many to list here. We had a house built on 5 acres in Mississippi, where finally my parents could have “their dream.” The dream was never realized, though, in that my mother was incapacitated most of the time and my sister and I were the designated labor force to deal with the mowing, and the 1 acre garden. We mowed the 4 rough acres with a push mower and did a lion’s share of keeping the garden weeded, medicated with sevin dust, harvested, and then canned. We also cooked dinners and cleaned the house, kept up our grades, etc, and dealt with the near-impossible standards my mother’s perfection demanded. We were out of date with our clothing, and cash poor, though to hear my folks talk we lived the good life. We certainly weren’t popular at school – too conservative to be rebels and too un-trendy to be cool. If you made good grades, you were already on the fringe. Life then was a long process of worry, family dramas, and work, but no time to really enjoy any of it. I began to hate the country life as we were living it then, and swore I’d NEVER have a vegetable garden when I was grown if I could help it. All it represented to me back then was hours of backbreaking labor and fatigue, and then getting up and repeating the process. Thankfully today I take time to smell the flowers…even if something doesnt get done. I’m pretty stubborn about that…
We kept moving, and family life was always chaotic, so I had two lives as such…the one at home and the one elsewhere. I did anything I could think of to not be at home, and pretty much decided I never wanted to have a family – I yearned to see the world, find myself, learn things, and go far, far away. I did have a wonderful set of grandparents whose constancy was always an anchor, and what I learned from them I learned from their steady, responsible, and simple daily lives. I am so very grateful for having known them, and they are an image I keep before me in my mind, loving that in my adulthood now I long to be like them.
Due to the escalation of the family situation, at age 18, I left home with just my purse and the clothes on my back. The intervening years have been so full of experiences, I hardly believe them myself when remembering them :)
I’ll skip most of the details, but I will say I do not regret my past, nor has it embittered me. It’s taught me an awful lot, and has helped me view things differently than I would have otherwise. It’s been an interesting journey of making choices, taking responsibility for my own path, and forgiveness. The day came when I prayed to have a large family of my own, with a house full of children. I was grateful to have my one daughter. I have a deep appreciation of our humanity and our flaws, and strangely, I’ve come away cherishing this fragile thing called family. I tenaciously love my daughter and promote her safe passage into her own world of possibilities. I cling to God. I do not take a single day for granted. I appreciate my husband and value our differences and commonalities. I appreciate our flaws. I know how to laugh, and that there is a time to mourn. I did get my chance to travel the world, investigate a range of lifestyles and beliefs, meet all sorts of people, have special relationships, and grow. In many ways, I’ve always been old…never feeling like I had a real childhood, and in other ways I feel I’ll always nurture a part of myself that doesn’t want to lose a child’s perspective. I’m quicker to bypass things that seem to be destructive…too much of my early life was caught up in the consequences of others’ self-destruction. I did better at that some times than I did at others. I thank God that He helped keep me out of a lot of trouble in my wanderings. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, many of them by my own bad choices. Hopefully I’ve learned from them.
In the course of my life, I was married to my daughter’s father for 13 years. He was never interested in gardening or country life, so during that time, those things were a closed door. Life held many beautiful and valuable things, though.. And on the side, I still dabbled in herbs, flowers, cooking, and kept children, wrote, and home-schooled, among many other things. I enjoyed making home an open and welcoming place, and in that I felt fulfilled. The demise of that marriage was devastating, and it took considerable effort to get the heart enough to get back on my feet. Life has seemed strangely unfamiliar since then, and I am getting back some of my balance. I am married now to Jack, and found to my delight that besides being each other’s soul mates, we both harbored many of the same desires for a homesteading lifestyle, with similar histories past.
What in the world does this have to do with homesteading in general? Perspective. Life for me has been unpredictable, and with the changes going on in the world around us today, it would seem we’ve been equipped to endure tough times. Jack and I both want to liveon some acreage zoned to allow animals, to be self-sufficient, and to revisit past goals and dreams, hopefully with some ingenuity to tailor them to our abilities and limitations now. I do long for that, and I realistically don’t want to do it the way we did in my youth, so labor-intensively that we’ll burn out or ever have to be wholly dependent on others. We work hard as it is…we want to transfer that elbow grease to sustain ourselves in ways best defined as homesteading. And we still do hope for land…we’re working hard for that, too.
Will we get there? We’re working and praying to that effect. If we don’t, we will make the conscious decision to do the best right here and make it work in different ways.
Regardless, we’ll bloom where we are planted. Life is too short to always postpone it till someday.
I am never quite sure what I’ll write before I sit down at the keyboard. I hope I’ll share things here on this new site that are relevant and interesting, but I’ll shoot for just being me and hope for the best J I am probably the newest member here as far as having any experience…I just don’t have much. I have a talent for goofing some things up, and then being able to laugh and learn from them. I DO have a love for exploring questions, finding solutions, finding out what works for other people, and desiring to recover and preserve traditional ways of living that our modern world is fast losing. I love the diversity of lifestyles and people I see whose paths converge in the wonderful melee of the homesteading “community” at large, even worldwide. I love learning and simply BEING around this community. It feels more like home, and very much ME.
Whatever “being me” is or isn’t, it’s at least a recognition of this place in my journey as being a far better fit of lifestyle than anything the mainstream has offered. It allows for individualism while staying connected to free-and-kindred spirits. I’m also seeing how many people in what we assume is the mainstream are drawn to things that are authentic…authentic people, lives, solutions, dialogue. If the authentic becomes the norm, it is at that point maybe I’ll care about being normal. Till then, like the wonderful people I know online and in person who are originals and find labels a fairly irrelevant measure of anything, I’m not really stopping to worry too much about what mine is. I’m a contradiction of things — painfully shy but friendly, a taker-in of strays, private renegade, preferring quiet but not purely a loner, tough but squishy on the inside. I don’t cry often, but when I do, I cry hard. I’m the tomboy embracing my femininity, going barefoot, procrastinating the dish-washing, loving long talks and walks, and reading voraciously…and you’ll usually find me here over-or-under-watering my plants, conspiring with Jack how to make our own car fuel, stockpiling seed catalogs, naming chickens I don’t even have yet, and burning food experiments in the kitchen. Or reading blogs and burning even more dinners ;-)
Sorry this has run on so long…in short, I’d like to learn from you, and I take to heart the lives and wisdom of the wonderful homestead community…enjoying the kinship and friendship.