Life Changes

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You may have noticed that this website has been a bit quiet lately. The thing is, there’s been some pretty big changes going on at the Homesteading House, and I’ve been hesitant to write about them publicly.

But I’ve done some thinking and I’ve decided the following:

  1. I like writing and I want to keep this blog going.
  2. So I’m GOING to keep this blog going – there will be recipes, gardening stuff, pictures of cats, and more.
  3. I owe my readers an explanation for what’s been going on in my life, but I also don’t want to bog down this blog or turn it into a personal journal of angst. After all, that’s not what it’s for.
  4. Changing site titles (Yep, “Hardheaded Homesteading Housewife” magically turned into “Hardheaded Homesteading House”) and cagily describing my “rural” surroundings without explaining why I’m not in the suburbs anymore isn’t really fair either.
  5. I have a reeaallly exciting project coming up, but you sort of need background information about my life to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing (stay tuned! Cool things are happening!)

I’m a big fan of transparency, y’all. Transparency is good!

So here’s the deal:

Several months ago, I came home from visiting my sister’s new baby. I was super excited because my sister had taught me how to make soap, and I was looking forward to surprising my husband with one of his favorite dinners – Guinness Beef Stew.

But wait. When I got home…my husband was gone.

Yep, gone. With his personal belongings and one of the cats.

No note. No explanation. Nothing. 

I did get served divorce papers though! I still didn’t really know _why_ I was getting served divorce papers, but there they were.

Your takeaway:

Jess knows how to make soap now and her (ex)husband is a butthole.

Financial Fall-Out

As you might know from reading this post, I considered my husband my #1 priority and had essentially sacrificed my career for the good of our family.  We were planning to start a family soon (I was busily perusing pregnancy books), and my focus was home and family.

What I didn’t tell you in that post was that any time I suggested using my teaching certificate as a full-time teacher, I was told “what, you don’t want to spend any time with me?”, “oh, are you going to go back on what we agreed on?” and other lovely, guilt-inducing verbal tidbits. I convinced myself that I was ungrateful and selfish, and that I needed to do a better job of getting on board with our big plan.

(Don’t get me wrong – I was working as a parapro in a school and I really liked my job. I had the pleasure of working with behaviorally challenged kids, and although that might sound like it was terrible…it wasn’t. It was wonderful. Even though it happened very, very rarely, I loved the moments when I could reach a kid and build a relationship with him or her. You can read more about my varied career history here).

But I didn’t exactly make a full-time teacher’s salary, and being completely financially dependent on my husband bothered me, especially because from what he told me, his job was awful. I talked about potentially increasing my income to make us less dependent on his job…but he didn’t want me to do that, and told me that he was insulted by the notion that I couldn’t depend on him. I felt bad about that.

And so…a few weeks before he took off, I formally withdrew from my teaching certification program (LONG story, let’s summarize to say: I can’t teach anymore without re-certifying with classes and stuff. This wouldn’t affect my parapro job, but it would prevent me from moving forward as a full-blown teacher).

This wasn’t a rash decision. My husband and I talked about the risks involved. We even decided to take out a large life insurance policy on him because, as he said, “I want you to be taken care of if something happens to me.”

So, as you might imagine, finding him literally gone was not only a major blow emotionally, but also a catalyst for absolute panic financially. 

Oh yeah. And when I consulted a lawyer (who was very kind and empathetic but couldn’t do much about, yknow, reality) I was informed that since we were newlyweds and I hadn’t started teaching before we were married (per my then-boyfriend’s wishes), I didn’t have a leg to stand on legally.

Your takeaway:

Are you sure this is a homesteading blog and not a bad lifetime movie?

Emotional Fall-Out

Obviously, this was a bigger deal than the money, at least to me. Not gonna lie, when I first found him gone, I went a little nuts for a minute. And by a “minute,” I mean a few weeks.

I did not post on this blog, although I think something auto-posted. I did not clean my house. I did not water my plants or my worm bin, and a lot of them died. I did not make food. I did not do much of anything, actually.

But on the bright side, I did learn that you can, in fact, survive on just raw milk and occasional pastured eggs with minimal nutrient deficiency problems. Yay!

My friends were a bit concerned. However, I found out that some of my friends are actually angels who were willing to drive long distances, force me to eat food, and call me regularly to make sure I was okay. You know who you are. Thank you.

Some trusted friends also advised me to keep writing, as an outlet for what I was going through. So I did. And I cycled through grief, anger, confusion, and guilt (for what, I wasn’t quite sure, but I’m not perfect and I dredged up every harsh word I’d ever said to my husband and blamed myself for him leaving). I also pulled out stacks and stacks of old journals and notebooks that described my entire relationship with my husband in great detail. Everything, good and bad, from over 8 years of being together. And I added to it, writing whatever I could remember that wasn’t already recorded, and everything new that came out of the post-abandonment meetings with him that I eventually got.

Then I showed some of it to some people and they said “Hey, um…it sounds like he did some stuff that was really not okay. Why didn’t you ever tell us about any of this BEFORE?”

“…because I knew people would say it wasn’t okay? But it was fine, really, he’s a wonderful and amazing person, you just don’t understand what he meant by that. Look, I said some harsh words in this argument, a year ago! Clearly, I am terrible.”

“YOU HAVE A PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE. DON’T YOU SEE WHAT’S WRONG WITH WHAT YOU JUST SAID?!”

Buuuttt, since this is my homesteading blog, I’m not going to go into further detail about all that ugly stuff. 

For now, we’ll just say it was an emotional roller coaster from Hell.

And maybe, despite everything, it’s good that he’s gone. It would’ve been better if I would’ve had actual boundaries and broken up with him years ago, before my career went into the toilet, but it’s good that he left before there were any kids involved.

And now I know that I need to have better boundaries and not ignore cliche red flags! Woohoo! Learning lessons!

Your takeaways:

Jess went through a very bad experience and is now single. She will never again ignore red flags just because she loves somebody.

Also, she has been drinking raw milk and will probably blog about that at some point.

Milk is delicious.

Rural Recovery

Step 1: Get out of Dodge.

Not only was my suburban city crawling with now-tainted memories, but my home was located only a few blocks from my husband and his father. Besides, I’d only bought a house in the suburbs because of my husband anyway. My family and heart lay in the country.

My wonderful sister told me I could stay with her for bit, until I could figure things out, especially if I house-sat while she was spending a few months overseas.

Step 2: Get a Job

I spent some serious time contemplating career options…but I’ll get into detail on that in a later post (hint: it relates to my upcoming super awesome project! And it’s super great!). But in the meantime, I needed to be able to afford to buy milk and, like, car insurance and cat food.

It was incredibly difficult to let go of my parapro job, but I had to admit that I couldn’t live on it – not in a big city, and not without my husband. So I found a generic office job in the country. It was kinda far from my sister’s place, but close to where I thought I might want to live eventually. Besides, it would be temporary.

Step 3: Sell the house

,Related to step 1, was to sell my house. Hasta la vista, beautiful vegetable garden. Now you know why there weren’t a bunch of fall harvest posts on this blog.

Oh well. You’ll get fall harvest posts eventually, just not right now.

Selling the house was a bit of an ordeal, since we had unfinished renovations inside and out when my husband left, and my normal energizer-bunny-like motivation was shot to all heck. But with some help from my family, I got it done, and got it sold.

And thankfully – and out of sheer laziness – the house was still 100% in my name from before the wedding -so I got all the proceeds from it’s sale to put toward a down payment on my next residence.

Thank God for … laziness?

Well, the laziness was more Jess-got-annoyed-at-government-bureaucracy-when-she-changed-her-last-name-and-didn’t-want-to-do-any-more-legal-stuff.

So thank God for … bureaucrats???

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” Genesis 50:20

Step 4: Work Through the Emotional Stuff

These things aren’t finite, and it’s ongoing, but I’m not literally subsisting on milk anymore. I’m also back to being motivated to do weird stuff, like make cheese and gather nuts and berries from the forest.

Being in a rural area is amazing. I love the lack of traffic, the availability of fresh food, and the plethora of trees and fields. I like being able to see the stars and have a fire in the backyard whenever I feel like it.

Your takeaways:

Jess is not finishing her series of kitchen renovation posts.

She’s also living the country, but doesn’t actually have a house of her own.

She makes cheese now??

So…Now What?

Well, RIGHT now I’m still staying at my sister’s and doing a variety of random things for money. Starting in May, I’m embarking on a new journey, that is EXTREMELY related to homesteading/farming (stay tuned; more details to come!).

I have met some pretty cool people who run classes on wild foraging, and some other cool people who operate a raw milk dairy farm. I spent about an hour talking to a conventional corn farmer about his crop and an Amish guy made me cookies (well, his wife did, but meh).

I’ve walked around the woods a lot and had a lot of fires. I still see friends from the suburbs, and have enjoyed doing things that my ex-husband (yes, the divorce is final now) didn’t really approve of, or wouldn’t have done with me. Like walking around historical villages and going camping.

...But What Does it Mean for This Homesteading Blog? Are You Still Gonna Homestead?

Haven’t you ever heard that homesteading is a mindset?

I wanted this blog to be a run-of-the-mill homesteading blog, with a nuclear family unit and some chickens. I wanted to share recipes, talk about the home birth that I hoped to have soonish, and showcase my husband’s building skills. Heck, I wanted to use our comfortable income to buy land, where my husband could hunt and I could convince him to get goats.

Guess what? I can’t do that now.

But y’know what, the Internet already has a lot of websites about nuclear homesteading families and their chickens. And that’s great. I still hope to be one of those families someday.

But maybe it’s time for a website about a homesteading woman (and her cats) who is still determined to live a back-to-your-roots, eco-friendly, sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, despite life’s obstacles.

After all, you can’t always control what happens in your life…but you can control how you respond to it.

There is a rosemary plant in the window and a pot of parsley on the porch. I have mason jars of wild-foraged teas and a trusty cast iron pan. I make cheese, bread, and chicken broth. So yes, I’m still homesteading.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget, I HAVE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT COMING UP. IT HAS TO DO WITH FARMING. I’M GONNA LEARN STUFF. There’ll be a LOT more details about that coming your way soon…and there will still be plenty of recipes and fun stuff like that mixed in all winter long!

As far as this post is concerned, I hate to diverge so heavily from homesteading, but I feel that this background was necessary to my site’s narrative, especially as I go forward. Also, no, I don’t intend to delete any of my old posts (including the one about being a wife), because I still hold the same values that I did when I wrote it. Family is important and I will never regret putting my family first – I only regret ignoring the red flags that were waving in the air when I chose my family. Besides, I don’t believe in deleting stuff or trying to rewrite history. Truth is truth, no matter how much you might want to cover it up, and truth is important.

I do intend to edit them with a disclaimer so that new readers don’t get super confused.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be posting about stuff that is a lot more fun very soon!

Here, this post was kinda heavy and depressing despite my best efforts, so have a cat picture. Cat pictures make everything better.

5 Replies to “Life Changes”

    1. Jess!!!

      Though I am so terribly sad to hear of the trials and tribulations you have endured this past year, sorting through it can be very cathartic and healing. You honesty is refreshing. I assure you that now you are not bound by the controlling nature of that relationship, you will fully continue to grow as the intelligent, industrious, creative, earnest, giving, kind and most of all endearing young woman that I had the pleasure to meet in youth hall over a decade ago.

      I could not be more excited for your new adventures as you turn the page to a chapter of fresh beginnings and experiences! You will be brilliant in your new endevours and a blessing to all you encounter on this fresh new path.

      I look forward to your future posts and will pray for you all if Gods blessings in all you do!!

      Much love,
      Amy Smith ❤

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