3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

Target Dress-Up Day

Cousin Sally thought it was a great idea. She made a post on the west coast about a #targetdresschallenge. the super ugly Target dress experience piqued my eye. Of course I bit to represent the southeast.

Off to grab the ugliest Target dress one could find. Settled on the orangey rust colored frumpy dress fit for a polygamy wife. It might have been the only one available. Set the first photo shoot destination at the rustic paradise named 3Splitz Farm in Blairsville, GA. Put the date on the calendar. Wrangled up some friends to join the fun. Dusted off the cowgirl boots. Now I’m ready for the click-click-click of the camera.

Wonder who will join me? Wonder if there will be a second photo location? So much to think about. It was a sunny Saturday after a long rainy week. Three girls and guy made the trek to farm. We laughed, we giggled, we played dress up. Who doesn’t love dress up day? How to wear your hair or the hair was the next big decision. Hat or no hat?

We used the iPhones to snap away as well as the fancy camera. We heard a lot of click click click in between the giggles. We had a barn as a changing room. Playing the role of a super model is a hard job. We might have even gotten a little sweaty. Each individual had their own area on the farm to pose how they wished. Below is a glimpse just for you.

Serious but sexy Kobe. Working girl Beth. Momma Kim calling out supper. Riding caboose was the infamous brunette named Karen. We got a few group shots to add flair and tossed in some black and white photos.

One dress. Four unique individuals. Four different poses. One challenge. This all leads me to the road called perspective. We each have own unique perspectives in life. Sometimes perception seen on the Internet  is not reality. It’s just for fun.

None of us live the frumpy dress life daily. That’s a given. However we love life and opportunities to have fun or poke fun with each other. Judge as you may. We had the best day ever. Dare to be different daily. 

From dress up to dress down this group was all smiles. No matter the outfit, the smiles persisted. This post may have the most photos I’ve ever shared however it’s a photo shoot post which equates to lots and lots of photos. Surround yourself with a group of people who make you smile. Travel to new destinations. Capture the memories. Hit repeat. It’s pretty simple. 

family

Mystery Envelope

A self-addressed stamped envelope on the kitchen table. (Who even does that anymore?) My own handwriting. A return address sticker with a name I didn’t know. Confusion.

Opened the envelope to find a letter and some photos. A pile of very old and very unexpected memories.

It was her very first plane ride. A whiplash trip to Naples, Florida. Me and my little baby.

Took the 8am flight out, the 8pm flight back. Nothing but a car carrier, diaper bag, formula, a ton of diapers, my little front baby pouch, and some food. Her Great Grandma was nearing the end of life, and I wanted them to meet each other before Great Grandma passed away.

We took a shuttle straight to the nursing home. Met her Great Grandma during recreation time. She sat in her wheelchair. My little Anne, still wobbly on her feet, reached up for her. Great Grandma was deep into dementia by then. I’m sure she didn’t know me, she didn’t know Anne. But still, even through the fog and confusion, Great Grandma’s face lit up. A sweet little baby, soft and curious, reaching up to be held. Their smiles echoed each other’s – wide and cheerful.

We spent a couple of hours. Just talking about nothing in particular. Great Grandma hadn’t been my family for very long. She was my Grandpa’s fourth wife. He had been her third husband. He passed away first, leaving my little known new Grandma to handle his affairs. This wasn’t an easy process, but my Dad loved and accepted her because she had been his Dad’s choice. He still called her every week. But she hardly knew me. I hardly knew her. There was just a lot of smiling and playing with the baby.

We flew home. I wrote her a letter and sent her photos of the visit. As I wrote in the letter, I knew she didn’t have much use for clutter in her tiny single room. So I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope in case she wanted to return them.

Fifteen years later, 2021, the envelope, the photos, appear in my mailbox. My sweet baby in the photos now drives her own car. Still has the blond hair, but she’s five foot nine. She still reaches up. She still smiles, and brings smiles to many.

A letter from her daughter came with it. She had just found the photos, with my letter and envelope, in a long packed away box of photos and keepsakes. Obviously Great Grandma wanted to keep them, she wrote. What can you do but wistfully smile at fate and memory and times long gone?

I got to share the story with Anne, and the pictures. Shortly after that visit, I learned that those were the very last photos ever taken of Great Grandma. Her own children appreciated them, and cherished that we took the time to visit.

Across fifteen years, a whisper from a daughter I may have met once. A memory of an experience that mattered, even if Great Grandma and Anne wouldn’t have known it at the time.

When I think about it, it was kind of crazy. Take a baby on a plane? By myself? Twice in one day? Just to see someone who probably won’t recognize me? Who may not even know why we are there? Yup, I did that. I’m still that kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that will drive hours out of my way for a hug. That will go over and above just to do something little. The little things are the big things.

Take time for people. Take time to write. To chronicle and share. To connect and care.

3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

A Doctor Digs in the Dirt

I recently wrote a rant-ish post about being a PhD. How I use my degree maybe not as a professor, but more as a thinker every single day.

I’ve recognized this a lot lately as I’ve waded into the first stages of flower farming. It reminds me of my surprise when I had a baby. When I became pregnant, I was immersed in this whole new universe and language I had no idea about. Pick up a baby magazine and I was surrounded by a new vocabulary. So many debates and decisions. What kind of diapers, how medicalized a birth, co-sleeping, onesies, products galore. It was a whole world I knew nothing about, even though it had been there all along.

Flower farming is much the same way. It has its own calendar, its ebbs and flows. So many special bloom varieties to choose from. Growing zones, soil amendments, succession planting…I am wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Just the photos on insta of all the beauty makes me swoony.

On the calendar side, so far I am playing catchup. I’m learning you have to be thinking at least 6 months ahead, and eventually a year. 3Splitz Farm is not even 6 months old (hard to believe!) so I am giving myself a little grace on that. We wanted tulips, but it took a while to find the right ones. In the mean time, I read in all sorts of places about where to source high- quality bulbs and what they should look like. My lightweight crumbly bulbs from the local mega mart weren’t going to cut it. This is a researcher in action. Most major places were sold out, but I finally found a farm with a great reputation that had the flowers we needed. The first set of bulbs went in the ground on the late side, but I’ve ordered seeds now so they should arrive in plenty of time. Slowly but surely the calendar is spreading forward. Soon we will be on pace.

Planning the land is the next challenge. It’s left me paralyzed at times, thinking that where we plant ______________ (bulbs, seeds, plants, veggies) is some kind of permanent decision. What if the flowers don’t thrive there? What if they can’t be seen the way we want them to? What if animals or pests destroy the crop? We took the step and planted the first set over the last couple of weeks. I was guided by my OLW: DO, and reminded myself that mistakes can be fixed. Of course, that’s only if we have the courage to make them! I am listening to the land and trusting that it will tell me what to do. It’s a wonderful intersection between science, wishes, and hard work.

awareness

Listen Again

Sometimes KT writes a line that really sticks with me. To be clear, many of her posts make me think differently and many prompt me to make a change in how I approach life or how I act. This is a little different…here’s my take on her recent post about listening and what a gift it is.

Here’s the line (and I encourage you to read the whole post): Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human.

Being a more intentional listener found its way into my goals this year. A series of conversations made me realize that I don’t sincerely listen to people as often as I should. I reflected on the fact that although people ask me all the time “how are you?” and I answer, I don’t often ask them how they are. I’m often so caught up in what I’m doing I don’t even look up. I may make a brief comment but not much else.

What am I telling people as I just let them walk by? I don’t look them in the eye. Sometimes I don’t look up from what I am doing. Sometimes I probably seem annoyed at the interruption.

I’ve been trying to reverse since since it caught my attention. When I think about it, I take the time to put down what I am doing and ask the person how they are. And then follow up with another question.

What I have noticed is that more people than I realized are hungry to share. Excited to connect. They want to tell me a bit about how they are.

I thought I was a decent listener. Now I see that I need work. The invitations to listen are everywhere. How many have I blown off because I didn’t make time or was just too into what I was doing to notice them? From my friends, my co-workers, members of my family?

Among the other unfolding lessons, the pandemic has taught me that people matter more than pretty much anything else. We can’t replace people or the opportunities we have to share with them. I have missed many, but I am committed to doing better moving forward.

I’m also on the lookout for the people who are dropping out of sight. Who haven’t I heard from in a while? Different schedules and limited opportunities to be out and about make those happenstance meetings less frequent. Who is telling me through their silence that they may need a friend? Who can I text to check in with? Who can I lift up with a funny post, a quote, a kind word? Who can I (re)start a conversation with? As KT often says, hope is free.

The motto of the StoryCorps podcast is: listening is an act of love. Who can I love today by listening to them? Who can you?

challenges

The 2020 Ta-Da List

2020 was a year that upheaved many goals. Maybe it was the rules changing about where we can go and what we can do. Maybe it was shifting priorities from getting out and going to just hunkering down and staying safe. Maybe it was self-imposed or created limits of mental exhaustion and the like.

Whatever the reason, 2020 pulled the rug out from our runway of dreams. The universe laughed at our plans. Goals had to shift. Travel, work, adventure, all kinds of things had to pivot.

I looked back at my goals and in a conventional sense, I didn’t meet them. I’m not giving myself a pass because life got hard. It is what it is. But, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to make a little “Ta-Da!” list, which reminds me that despite my 2020 challenges, things still got done.

  • I maintained my fitness regimen, moving my body pretty much daily. Most of the time this meant working out at home or in the gym, but I also started hiking more often and put many miles on my bike.
  • I took a more active role in my personal finances, learning how to move money around and make it work.
  • I partnered with trusted friends to purchase the property for 3Splitz Farm. We navigated the first stages of planning and implementing the vision for our rustic paradise.
  • I started a new business of my own.
  • I established a 501(c) and led that organization through a successful first year.
  • I bought a new car.
  • I read lots of books.
  • I parented my kids through a trying and confusing time in their lives.
  • I maintained several of my health priorities: eat well, drink well, connect.
  • I lifted up my friends and loved ones to lighten their mental loads.

2020 wasn’t what I expected, and 2021 won’t be either. Some of these accomplishments weren’t on my radar at all this time last year. This has all informed how I am thinking of my goals this year. Leave a little more room to move, to play, to grow.

I had to stop myself from writing the “shadow truths” about each of these goals. For most of these bullet points, there is something I could have written as a “but…” But ta-da lists shouldn’t come with qualifications. These are what they are, and many are a start. Several appear in my goals for 2021, to enhance, improve, and expand.

What’s on your ta-da list for 2020?