This is for you, Boe. [Lesson 5]

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Lesson 5- A Lesson in Caring. Thanksgiving 2013 is one I will never forget. And it all started with a dog named Boe (short for Beauregard)

Mom and I were in the kitchen with our hands tied while everyone was arriving. And by everyone, I mean close to 40 of our extended family members. This is a tradition all of us look forward to each year. Thanksgiving 2013 was different for me, though. This time it was tinged with sadness, hope, and another life lesson.

The oven was being opened and closed as the house started filling with warm company. I tip toed over to the sink to refill the water pitcher, and gazed out of the kitchen window to see what was going on. Did Sue get here with the mac and cheese yet? It was my aunt Nancy, swiftly appearing from the next house over. Ever so carefully, she made sure the pies she had just baked wouldn’t slide off onto the crisp November ground. My eyes shifted downward towards her side, and suddenly spotted a dog, limping. Nancy had no idea who the dog was, or why he had followed her. It was as if by the grace of God he clung to her as though she was his angel. Either that, or it was the food. It was probably the food. He could practically taste the meal that our warm house promised.

I had to find out more. I was trying to gather all of the information while casseroles and family members were being shoved through the door. He had no collar on and had what appeared to be a broken leg. He couldn’t set it down on the ground for even a second. He was wearing old, ragged white sheets tied around his body. It looked as though someone had tried to make him a sling, which made no sense to me. He was skinny, and looked as though he hadn’t eaten in days. As my family was taking the tin foil off of the green bean casseroles and sweet potatoes, I dug into the pantry to get some dog food. I didn’t speak much to my relatives who had just arrived. oops. (sorrrrry! I love you guys!) Call me a bad host, but I was on a mission.

Soon I discovered that it was more critical than I had thought. His left shoulder had a deep gash. Probably the deepest gash I’ve ever seen in person. It wasn’t bleeding- but you could tell it had been that way for days. Instead, it was gray and oozing and smelled terrible. I’m not a vet, but….. I knew it was infected.

I really wanted to fight for this guy. Despite his injuries, he had such a friendly spirit. His sandy colored face was a mix between a terrier and a golden of sorts; uniquely lovable. His cholocate brown eyes would gaze up at you, as though he was trying so baldy to say something. He would wag his tail, eager to greet you- terribly pleased to meet you. He approached us like we were his own family. Did he have a family? He wanted that. He wanted to be warm and loved. That’s what killed me. He then tried to follow us inside the house. But we couldn’t let him. He was too badly hurt.

The timing was horrible; just as this was happening and we were trying to process what to do, it was time to say grace. Everyone then lined up, plopping turkey onto their plates, scooping mashed potatoes, and drizzling gravy. They had what they needed to feel warm and loved that day. But Boe didn’t. I had my back towards my family while I was setting spoons inside the dishes. And I started to cry. I couldn’t control it. I looked over to my mom and managed to spit out “whh-hhat’s going to hhhhapen to Boe?” I left. I couldn’t eat knowing that he was out there in the cold suffering.

Luckily my dad stepped in. He put Boe into the outdoor storage room, so that he would at least get some shelter and remain close to us while we tried to get him help. No one was around, though. Animal control was closed. It was Thanksgiving day, afterall. People were sitting down with their loved ones, eating turkey and pie, just as they should. I mean that made sense.But the sudden love I had for this dog didn’t care what day it was. What were we supposed to do? What any rural citizen with a problem would do: call the Sherriff.

Three hours later, the sheriff made it to the house. He assessed Boe, and realized that it was bad enough of an injury to get him seen today. He ordered animal control to come pick him up. They had to eat Thanksgiving dinner first, of course. I understand that now, but the 8-year old girl in me didn’t want to rationally see it that way.  So we waited, and waited. In the warmth of the house while Boe was out in the cold. For 7 HOURS.

It broke my heart to check on him one last time. His little head poked out of the room. He gave us that same look …as if to say thank you. Thank you- even though I didn’t have the skills or resources to fully save him. When the animal control personnel arrived, he greeted them with that same, gentle spirit. They were simply shocked. How could a dog that has been through that much still be so completely friendly and able to love those around him? He was finally whisked away…to an unknown fate. The vet had to decide if he was “worth” saving.

If the circumstances were different, and say…I had a steady job and an apartement of my own…I would have stayed with Boe. I would have adopted him. And loved him. And would have bought him an expensive squeeky toy.  And he’d have this great story behind him. I’d take care of him for the rest of his life, making sure he’d never suffer again. But this is real life, and I don’t have that right now.

[update: The vet decided to save him because he was such a sweet boy. He's now recovering! ]

So besides the obvious, how does this connect to people? Well…it certainly confirmed something that I’ve been considering non-stop this past month. Something big. I’m too afraid to talk too much about it right now, but be looking out for it in the future. And yes, it has to do with caring.

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It Ain’t Easy

[Lesson #3]

It ain’t easy. It ain’t easy. I thought that was you, Otis. But go ahead and sing it, Ray.

Coming back to Virginia was not the easy way out. You could argue that it was, but that is not the way I see it. Fortunately, everyone that I have talked to has been extremely supportive and understanding. Doing a year of service is very challenging! I completely agree with that.  But the rest of your life is challenging as well (in different ways, of course). You will have to find a job, a place to live, keep said job to pay rent, get to know the streets of  a city, make new friends while staying in touch with old ones, and somehow by the grace of God, maybe that special someone will jump into your life somewhere along the way. Not it that order, necessarily.

No longer delaying the inevitable, I’m finding myself in this sea of hidden opportunities. I’m half way between thinking I can actually pull something off in a matter of minutes to wanting to hide under a blanket. And the thing is…I’m probably not as confident as I should be. Applying for jobs is INTIMIDATING. Honestly, it’s slightly terrifying when you are this young and inexperienced. It’s overwhelming because you realize that it is something you will spend most of your time doing. It only makes sense to be happy with whatever that is.

Here are a few scattered thoughts I had this morning while trying not to burn my tongue on coffee:

Hip job downtown that I’m not cut out for? Ok. What the hell is SEO? Who are these people and how did they get here and why do I freeze up so suddenly? Wait, what do you mean I have to have 3 years of marketing experience? Oh and that degree I just received? While that is important, It really really REALLY is not  the most important thing about you. Not for a long shot. Employers want the right person. They want experience and the ability to trust you. I get that. Will someone have some faith in me, because right now I’m afraid. 

Part of me wishes that I was married to the boy down the street and that everyone would still use type writers. But enough with my slightly narcissistic millennial rant. When you think about it, the “trouble” I, and many of my peers (they are out there somewhere, right?) am facing is minimal in the grand scheme of things.  There are so many other problems in the world! Real problems. Like huge socially structured problems, bleeding hearts, and dying whales (please please don’t ever watch this documentary: http://blackfishmovie.com you will cry) I’m blessed, so lord help me not be stressed.

End.

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Accurate.

Accurate.

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October 30, 2013 · 8:41 pm

Walking on the Moon

Walking on the Moon

Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my legs don’t break
Walking on the moon
We could walk forever
Walking on the moon
We could live together
Walking on, walking on the moon

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October 21, 2013 · 8:10 pm

Embrace the Now- Lesson #2

Embrace where you are right now. I don’t want to sound cliché, but this is one of the most important things you can do. That is what I keep telling myself. It is important to be mindful and present. It’s so easy to get caught up in thoughts / plans  of the future. But if you don’t take the time to enjoy the moment, you aren’t really all there.

It’s been a month since I’ve been back in Virginia. I’ve been pretty busy with work, which is nice. On my day off I volunteer at a therapeutic horse back riding class, which I’ve really enjoyed doing. Every thing is “alright”, even though I’m still living at home. An adjustment in independence and a lesson in patience- but hey I’ve got plans to move out soon-ish!

I’m so eager to do so many things. But I know they won’t happen right away. (Mick Jagger says you can’t always get what you want); this is kind of a strange time. People can so easily come and go from your life. It’s so transitional. You can’t just walk downstairs and hang out with your friends for three hours everyday. And there is no one to help you get ready before a date (well it’s not like that ever really happened in college…ha. ha.) I’m running out of words and energy trying to explain it all. Even if I did, no one would really know exactly what it feels like until they experience it themselves.

It’s different, but that is why being present is all the more important. It’s one of the most solid ways to navigate through this adjustment.

It’s a Tom Petty kind of Fall. I don’t really know what that means, but I’m going with it. I turned 22 the other day. I don’t really know what that means either, but I’m going with it. I got a new camera- as if 22 years is somehow deserving of a new nikon. A good investment. I can be creative and productive :)

Photo on 9-25-13 at 5.21 PM #4

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October 2, 2013 · 9:42 pm

Love Your Job

I love my job. Most people wouldn’t see it quite the way I do. It’s not considered a “Real big girl job” by most standards. I roll coins. I get asked the same apple questions several times a day like:

-Can you  pick apples here? Is this a farm?

-What about grapes? Can I pick those too?

-How do you keep driving up the mountain? Should I not let up on the gas?

-What is the price for a bushel of your apples?

-When will you have the pink ladies in?

-What is a good baking apple?

-I’d like to propose to my girlfriend. How do I go about doing that?

-Can you freeze apples? Can you freeze donuts? What about pies?

I step in at the register when needed. I give apple advice. I run errands. Did I mention I roll coins? The other day I helped mail some apples to Florida. I know how to use a price gun and I’m not afraid to use it. I am becoming an expert label maker too.

But I LOVE my job. I love my drive to the mountain, just like my drive out to Crozet..although it has a different feel and pace. I can only go 30mph, but that gives me a chance to see my city wake up and head home for dinner. And you know what? I carry that phone around with me like it’s my best friend. Yes I sound crazy. I get excited about all of the little things going on. New mini gourds? so exciting! I will probably tweet about it and put them on instagram for all of cville (or not) to see. I’m even happy when we’re  so busy that I don’t remember to eat lunch.

I love meeting people from all over the state. I love welcoming them and sharing in their excitement, even though I’ve walked through those same rows so many times. And the cute families? Adorable! This whole concept of agritoursim and hospitality has really grown on me. I love what I’m learning. From all of the small logistical tasks, to the operation as a whole- I’m glad I get to see the business from this perspective. It also helps that the Chiles family is pretty awesome…:) And my co-workers are always a pleasure to work alongside.

Whatever you do, put your heart and soul into it. Even if you are sweeping floors. This reminds me of a book I haven’t gotten around to reading just quite yet, but it is going on my winter reading list: Linchpin by Seth Godin. I know someday I will be moving on from my little place in the orchard. But no matter what I end up doing, I want to truly enjoy my job. “Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I want to appreciate the little things everyday.  Here’s a video that sums it up:


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Liminal Lesson #1

(1) Find yo mentor. Find yo people. I can tell you that the most important resources that a girl can have is a support system. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and it doesn’t have to be extensive. For me, one of the best things I did when I returned to Charlottesville was having coffee with my boss. I know, I know, I love the orchard life a little too much. But meeting with someone who has seen you at your best can only lead to good things. Also, have a lifeline to call. Who would be your ONE phone call? (cough, cough BOB).  One of the things I really enjoy about this point in my life is befriending people who are older than me. Having a network of older adults in different life stages is fantastic for a number of reasons:

  • They tell you everything your parents would, but somehow you believe them more
  • Instant Wisdom: from the shear number of years they have lived.
  • The conversations you have. OH my goodness they can range from talking to middle aged woman about footwear (they know what they are talking about, by the way) to candid discussions on the best ways to clean your house. Did you know toothpaste removes permanent marker stains from floors ? Bet you didn’t until you had that conversation. It’s all about the little things you learn. Tips and tricks.
  • You get to hear stories from their youth. They were exactly where you were at some point. Imagine that! They survived off of ramen noodles, moved into their first apartment with no ac and had no idea when they were getting married.
  • Sometimes you might not get their references and they may not get yours, but that’s where genuine humor comes in. HAHA. Try explaining what twerking is to them. Surprise them by being sharp enough to pick up on I love Lucy  references, and please please know who Ethel is.

I think after you reach a certain age you have something figured out. Not everything, of course, but once you past 50, you develop a humble expertise of sorts. Generativity. Yes.

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