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We're All So Overwhelmed Inside Our Computers

I constantly tell friends that I'm suffering culture shock, yet when I try to explain it, words defy me. A few days ago, William and I went to town to run a few errands - a thing that triggers my city girl brain and makes me a little grumpy. When we arrive at stores, I often inadvertently launch myself out of the car and hustle as fast as I can across the parking lot not realizing that William doesn't feel the same sense of urgency - the Get in and out as fast as you can don't waste time things I subconsciously think. Shopping in the Cities is frenetic and overstimulating - a thing I detested when living there. William, on the other hand LOVES going to town, slowly meandering through every store and taking his sweet time. It's not uncommon to see me twenty paces ahead of him gesturing and saying, "Come on Cowboy!" as he slow-strolls his way around.

The other day, as I watched William walk slowly across the driveway, not a hurry in the world even though mountains of work piled up around him, I suddenly realized the problem. No matter the amount of work, no matter the drudgery, William does it all at his same measured and unstressed pace. He grew up on the expression, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get" apparently. I, on the other hand, have somehow adopted the idea that racing through work is the path to more freedom and downtime. My city mindset - work fast, find systems, be efficient is in complete contrast to how life in the country, or how life in general really works, I am finding.

I suspect my culture shock comes from the fact that my brain is finally slowing to a normal human pace, but I'm going though a kind of withdrawal, perhaps similar to that of a heroin addict. Yes, that bad.

Recently, I took up a new hobby. I am art journaling every day. I always loved art classes when I was younger, but haven't done much with visual art in years. I'd been writing - working on a memoir - and needed to get out of my brain for awhile, so art journaling seemed a fun, perhaps relaxing idea. Little did I know what insight I would gain from this new hobby. Drawing and doodling every day, taking pressure off myself to create through language and writing has calmed me enormously. It's so soothing and freeing. I find myself in a sort of free flow brain state of the NOW more than anything - I suppose similar to those who meditate. When art journaling, I find that I'm not perseverating on the things that those of us in midlife tend to lament - loss of family, loss of identity, loss of power, loss of looks, friends, family, social status... most of the time when I am in my art journal, I feel very happy, very content and weirdly calm.

The sense of calm caused me to reflect on my past life. I told some friends yesterday. "You know, when I taught, I shook every day." I was literally a fidgety mess for years. I physically shook because I was so stressed out about lesson planning, details, all the work that I had on my plate and doing a good job. I'd get through a day in the classroom then frantically speed home in order to work all night in order to feel that I was prepared enough to get through the next day. I was absolutely miserable. My son was born a few years after I started teaching, and you know what? He was born shaking! I trembled and shook from nerves that nearly killed me for my entire working life. I was constantly worried and stressed. This went on for 25 years. No wonder my heart went kaput and Earl Bakken's pacemaker needed to save my life!

Now, I live out here in farmlandia. I don't have to panic about work, I don't have to spend every waking hour worried and unsettled, but because I lived that way for so long, I am having trouble letting go. Thinking of myself as semi-retired helps, but I still cling to those feelings that my city brain thought were the ways of the world - I am supposed to be busy, I am supposed to be productive, I am supposed to be able to juggle a mountain of work, friends, family and obligations. Well, my friends, I am starting to realize that my problem is not really culture shock. It's that my brain is finally rewiring causing me a bit of discomfort. Is there a methadone for this sort of thing?

I think there is. I think the answer is to DO NOTHING and figure out how to let go of the judgment, guilt and expectations. Do nothing and love it! I think our human brain needs to S...L....O........W way down. We're so deep into our computers and phones, so overstimulated by all the pings and beeps, notifications and messages that barrage us all the time. I find I am much happier when I don't check my social media, don't follow the news, don't get too caught up in that stuff that overstimulates me. I find that if I draw, and walk and garden I am calm. And I am beginning to sense that perhaps along with this calm, creativity is hiding in the shadows waiting for all the noise to go away so it can come and join me once again.

Today as we enjoyed our coffee, William asked me what I had planned for the day. "Are you making basil garlic scape chimichurri?" he asked.

"Yes." And, I'm going to walk the loop, maybe weed one or two of the garden beds and then I plan to do a whole lot of nothing." Of course, that's code for spend a little time art journaling, strolling the gardens and this, blogging. Culture shock lies in the idea that I give myself permission to call "work" all those things that city folk do only when they're not at work. My hobbies have become my work. Of course, these are things that bring me great joy when I don't get confused by all the "supposed tos", but not a lot of economic wealth, so the next shock to overcome is learning how to live on less, much less, and still be happy. I'll let you know how that goes!

I hope you can find some time to do nothing for awhile.


William has a new fun thing going on at the store. He's been collecting all sorts of treasures in his recycling business that folks might be interested in like sporting equipment, household goods, gardening stuff...miscellaneous fun junk. Outside the store you'll find a sale table loaded with items and a sign that says, "You Price It Table: Pay What You Think It's Worth." Last weekend quite a few things left the farm, so as you can imagine, the tidy bug that I am is thrilled! If you like that sort of treasure hunt, stop out to check out the sale table. I'm pestering him to expand to full on "Barn Sale." William has enough hidden treasure around the farm to keep the sale going all summer!

Ok. That's enough about our silly fun! Hope you are all well and loving these RAIN FREE days!

Sending love from the farm,


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