To the Rural Life

No Time to Waste: I Want My Life to Count!

"What do you do with a couple of hours to waste? Hmmm…even though I just finished a round a golf this morning, I think I'll head back to the course and work on making all my 5-footers..."
golfer

This was a post from a friend of mine who obviously has a lot of spare time on his hands. He is not working right now. He’s trying to figure out what he wants to do for the rest of his life. So for now he does a lot of golfing.

Now I too enjoy golfing. And I believe in taking time for relaxing endeavors.

But still, I was struck by his question as to what he should do as he had "a couple of hours to waste."

To waste?

While we all need to have down time, if we find out that we have a lot of spare time on our hands we have some choices to make.

Life is too short--too full of opportunities--to waste any part of it.

The first choice is to just use the time up…indeed, just waste it. Fill in the time: watch a rerun, do something over again—do anything at all--to just pass the time.

My opinion? What a waste.

The second choice is to stay busy living. When I started out in my adult life, I had a plan. While the plan has taken many detours with twists and changes, I’ve always tried to make my life count and be relevant to myself, family and friends.

I have never had any time to "waste time." Now don't get me wrong; there is certainly a place for "down time," and we all need it.

I am talking more of an attitude of just existing instead of living deliberately.  

I have "retired" from what I was doing professionally (developing and building on large properties), but at the time of that major change, I decided that I didn't want to sit back and rock away my life.

I wanted the second half of my life to count as well.

So Marie and I deliberately spent time planning and discussing what our future would look like. We decided to move to a rural area and become farmer/ranchers.

Now, we grow things. My life is different now, but my passion for what I am doing is just as intense as it was before. I just couldn't see myself on the golf course half of my life, biding my time till I am done and so bored that I drift away.

Now I live a very purposeful rural-based life, farming and ranching--and helping others discover if this lifestyle is right for them as well. Being a farmer (part time or full time) is not for everyone, but it is hugely rewarding. 

tractor grandpa

Marie and I are very involved with the agricultural community, and our past experiences are bringing some fresh ideas to this area. We work with others, helping them with things that we have done or are learning about.

On a personal level, we are investigating some new businesses as well, including starting a feed mill and a poultry hatchery.

Wow, this is some cool new stuff, and we will certainly not be bored!

So, when your plan or circumstances take you out of your original passion or career, and you are looking for something new, don't settle for "time wasting " in life. What you have to give and contribute is too vital and important to those around you.

Take a leap, and continue to make your life count.

Of course, you will need to have an occasional round of golf mixed in… 

Read more about my new life focus here on my family blog, Rural Living Today

How My Life Changed on One Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night…

Really, it was! 

 Dark snowy night
It was the night that started my journey to move back to the country.  

As I drove home from work in the early evening, snow was swirling everywhere. I could barely see. I had actually left work early, as I had heard that the snow was coming, and I wanted to get home before the worst of the commute hit.

Silly me. I had seen many times the effects of heavy snow during a commute on a freeway, and quite frankly I was too tired to deal with it again. On a normal day I would be home in 40 minutes, resting from a hard day at the office. Every day. Twice a day I entered into the chaos and maze we call “the commute.” 

When I left the office I didn’t know that this particular night would be so different. But once I was on the freeway, it became clear that this would be no normal commute. Buses were stuck in all lanes of traffic. Semi-trucks were jackknifed in every way imaginable. A very fancy and expensive Mercedes was spinning alongside a concrete barrier, bouncing against the hard surface as it tried to regain traction and move forward. Unfortunately the car lost the battle.

As I kept going, I would stop and then move forward a bit. Once in a while I’d creep along an inch at a time. After a couple of hours, I’d traveled only two miles. I wondered if I would ever really get home that night. Or even get home safely at all.

 city traffic commute

About this time, traffic funneled into one lane, zig-zagging around stalled and stuck cars, trucks and buses. The chaos was brutal and it reminded me of several scenes in the Terminator movies. Many people abandoned their cars or just pulled over to the side and walked down the off ramps in search of warmth, food, and a place to sleep. 

But some of us wove our cars in and out - and finally, after many more hours, I arrived home. I was safe. 

I didn’t know how that evening would change my life and take it in a new direction - a direction I had dreamt about, but had not made any steps to realize.

It started with an email.

After a nice dinner with my wife, I fired up the computer and there it was…actually not just one, but quite a few emails from the past few days. Most of them were from our grown kids - group emails bouncing back and forth.

Now you need to know that though our kids are all very different, they also are very close.

And I have to tell you that I have 13 grandchildren - now I am dating myself - that I am very proud of. 

The gist of the discussion among our kids was this: “Do you guys remember growing up on the five acres? Do you remember the rope swing? Do you remember the horse ‘Nick’ that just showed up? Do you remember our two cows that seemed to get out all the time? Do you remember playing with the other kids on the property?”

(Note to readers: When our oldest three kids were young, we lived on five acres abutted to two other five-acre parcels developed by Marie’s sister’s family and mutual family friends. The kids all had a 15-acre playground. After five years, we had to leave it behind when we moved overseas.)

 green fields

The spouses of the kids we raised were equally as enthusiastic about country life. The emails continued. “Why are our kids growing up in the city?” and then, “Why don’t we get some property where we can all be neighbors?”

As I kept reading the emails, it was clear that my kids were all in agreement that this was something they wanted to do. 

Then, as one of the highest compliments they could jointly give their parents, they continued, “And let’s ask Mom and Dad to come too!” 

That’s how Marie and I got included in the conversation. Our kids knew we were planning to retire on rural acreage some day.

Let the property search begin!

And so the journey started. First thing was to search and find that perfect piece of heaven. And that is what these kids did. Every day, the emails flew back and forth, each showing real estate listings for farms, ranches, and lots of raw land. We looked at listings from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and California.

This continued for months, with ongoing discussions of the pros and cons of different property listings. During this time, it became clearer what we were looking for. We also saw that that most pieces of property listed had some kind of fatal flaw eliminating them from our search.

As this continued, I became numb looking at these listings. They all started to blend together. 

Our daughter Bethany seemed to be sending listings for us to all look at on a daily basis. “You need to look at this!” “Look at this one!” It took a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part to really examine all these listings.

Then, on that snowy winter night, we all received an email from Bethany: “I know I’ve said this before, but THIS ONE YOU REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT!”  

It was “the one.”

 meadow pond forest view

Stay tuned...and we'll see what happened next!

From the City to the Country

Jim Mitchell headshotFor most of my life I lived in the city. I worked in the city. I was fortunate to have employment that I enjoyed, but to tell you the truth, the pace of life was catching up to me.

I can play the corporate game well, going through the motions seamlessly. But it was becoming difficult to keep up with the intensity and passion that is needed to keep succeeding.
 

one way sign
One way street  

The pace of life, it seemed to me, was getting faster and faster.

I was thinking that I should just move to a desert island--or maybe be more practical…and move to the country. Now that would be a change! These thoughts continued for some time and I finally had to admit that some change was in order.

You only have one life to live…and my big question was this: IS THIS ALL THERE IS? Keep doing this till…till when? 

So I took some time to think about issues that I found myself concerned with. Here are a few of them…

Unsustainable Pace of LifeIt didn’t start that way, but in the past 20 years the pace of my life had accelerated and accelerated to where I was really winded. I was tired of the unsustainable pace of life.

It takes honesty to admit this, as my macho “I can get it done” style has always ruled my life. But that fast pace really has no reward, and it was time to get off of the treadmill. I didn’t have time for…literally anything. Even my family.

Some people discover this much later in life, and it always brings the “should have…could have” questions. But for me, there was no need to wait. The pace was killing me. I no longer wanted to be a 24/7 slave to my Blackberry.

CreativityI like to create and build. But I lived on a postage stamp lot in a cookie cutter neighborhood where everything was the same.

Though I love projects, I detested the maintenance yard work. Everything was too cramped for me. I needed space, and there was no way to get any more of it in our neighborhood.

The World Around UsWithout going into detail, I will tell you I was finding myself more and more concerned about our economy and what is happening with our government.

Being a planning kind of guy, I couldn’t just sit back anymore with my head in the sand and say everything was OK. This isn’t politics…stuff was happening that I absolutely couldn’t believe…but it is true.

paint mare and foal
Paint mare and foal  

I started looking at what I should do with my family, and living in the country was a great option. I am not one to operate in fear, but with my family’s welfare at stake, I will do what I need to do.

For me, a life in the country became a reality. And now, I’m glad to be able to share it with you.