Feed Yourself First

That’s something we say around here when the sh*t really hits the fan.  When the cows get out, when the neighbor’s goat herd busts through a rusted fence, when a baby is born wrong and twisted.  We are passable at triage now – patch things up, take two steps back and say, “Is that good enough for now?  Are you hungry?  Go inside and eat, then we will deal with this properly.”  Because you can only chug along on fumes for a period of time before your body collapses.  I take better care of all my charges with a full belly.  So we feed ourselves first.

photo 1

I thought about that this afternoon as I white-knuckled the steering wheel on my last drive down the highway into an office where I’ve worked for five years.  My job there was always funded through contracts forged out of tenuous relationships between agencies and companies.  Every summer my future employment was suspect.  Every summer I searched for new jobs under the same categories:project management, education, blady blady blah…until the search terms slowly transitioned without my perception of the shift: “farm hand, cheese monger, farmer.”  But this summer the contract really is over.  This morning I emptied the contents of my computer drives, deleted the detritus of my professional past with just a few clicks.  All traces of me smudged out, shined clean, ready for the next guy.  I turned it all over along with my badge.  And I am officially done.

photo 2

I will not use this particular moment of my chronology to talk anyone else into my level of lunacy or risk aversion; small elements of each are necessary to make this leap.  Know that.  I also will not hide the reality that I have an enormous safety net in my husband and family who are supportive beyond measure.  Know that, too.  I used to think the phrase about counting blessings was corny as hell.  But now I wake up to sunrise and roosters on a farm, and I count them.  I am grateful.

photo 3

This week the world lost a literary force, the author of every woman’s secret (or not secret) anthem who was, in fact, the original phenomenal woman.  Someone on Facebook posted a quote in her honor that stunned me stupid when I read it: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” -Maya Angelou

That kind of timing is epic, those words written just for me, it seemed, at a time when I say exactly what I mean, but my voice still shakes a little.  So for you: dreamers, wanderers, hopers, wishers, keeping-the-faithers, and down-on-your-luckers.  For anyone who is worried that what you pursue is too hard, too scary, too big – feed yourself first.  Belly and soul.  It’s the only way (along with some elbow grease, patience, and persistence) to achieve some clarity about which map to follow, even though it probably does not exist.  Yet.

photo 4

On the way home I caught the tail end of a song on the radio that I had not heard until just this afternoon, made it seem that the sun beamed rays of omens down upon my face screwed up into a confused expression of joy and fear and gratitude and general shakiness.  My path is not any more linear than yours.  But I’m heading out onto it, regardless.

I’ll probably hum this song along the way. (Sorry for the craptastic quality – it’s all I could find)


Cows, Dairy, Goats, Motivation


  • Link Love: Living With Less, Bike Rides & Farmers on Instagram. | belong with wildflowers

    June 6, 20148:35 am

    […] How can we build a good life if we aren’t nurturing ourselves? Learn how one blogger fills her belly and soul to achieve clarity in […]

  • Caitlin | belong with wildflowers

    June 5, 20149:10 am

    Congratulations on all the beautiful changes that are happening and to come. Reading this post, I can “feel” the freedom you feel. So, so wonderful… enjoy every second!

  • Cheryl in Texas

    June 2, 20144:25 pm

    Love this! Everything you write seems to speak right to me. Congrats on the new phase of your life! That Maya Angelou quote is amazing…needed that. So glad to have stumbled on your blog. And I found out we have a mutual friend. :D

    • jennakl

      June 5, 20148:03 am

      Cheryl – I’m dying to know who we have in common! In the previous life I just left, I worked with your agency as a contractor for the past 4 yrs, so I’m guessing it’s through that :) I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!! Where is your farm located?

  • Amy Skorheim

    May 31, 201411:25 am

    Congratulations my friend. Now it’s just you (and your husband and family and friends and neighbors) and your farm. Best of luck in everything. I look forward to watching/reading how it all goes from here.

    • jennakl

      June 5, 20148:04 am

      Thanks Amy – you gave me a good reminder that this will be a community effort. I hope everyone in my life is on board :)

  • Tiffany Speake

    May 31, 201410:10 am

    You are free at last, free at last. Do what you love. That feeds your soul. You inspire me to achieve that freedom for myself. Thanks.

    • jennakl

      June 5, 20148:04 am

      Thanks so much Tiffany!!! It does feed your soul, and you can’t put a price on that ;)

  • Carla

    May 31, 20148:02 am

    The very best of luck to you!! It looks like your job threw you into the deep end of the ocean, but you were well prepared! Just keep swimming. :)

    PS…On a side note–I had long held that the animals should be fed first–it’s what I’ve taught my kids. Your reasoning makes perfect sense though!! Never know what you’ll find outside amongst the herd. You may need to spend hours and hours outside and have no ‘fuel’ in the tank. See, you’re already sharing great advice!

    • jennakl

      June 5, 20148:06 am

      Thank you Carla!! We also hold fast to the “animals come first rule.” In fact this morning, I woke up and did milking/feeding chores first – as I always do – found a sick goat, treated her and then realized my head was pounding, and I wasn’t thinking straight. It was time to stop and eat breakfast. Now I’m less emotional and a little more rational :)

  • norma mccomas

    May 30, 20145:18 pm

    loved your article! sorry about the job, but a blessing in disguise? :) luck and enjoy your life!!!! <3

    • jennakl

      June 5, 20148:07 am

      Don’t be sorry about the job! It was not a surprise and was, actually, quite welcome. Sometimes you need a shove out of the nest. Thank you for the note!