Thursday, March 29, 2012

Big birthday? Make it a big thing.

Do you freak out over milestone birthdays? I do a little. I don't want to be 20 again, or 25...but I don't feel old enough that TV advertisers should no longer care about me. Or old enough that my next milestone birthday is (gasp) 40.

So (way back) in my 20s, I decided to plan something so awesome for my 30th birthday that I could sort of forget I was turning 30 because I was completely focused on the exciting, big thing that happened to take place around the same time.

We went to New Zealand. It was awesome.

I tell you this so I can share a photo of the first glacier I ever saw, and also because it had an impact on my recent milestone birthday (35).

After two weeks in lovely, relaxed New Zealand, Bill and I returned to our jobs in DC. I was sitting in my office, listening to the angry car horns outside (and the godawful pan flute band that was on the corner every Thursday)...and Bill was stuck in endless commuter traffic - and we decided DC had been fun, but it was time for something else.

That something else turned into an old farm house and a few acres in Indiana. And a dog.

We realized we liked living in the country. We liked it a lot. We were entertained by fireflies and learned how to make jam and raise chickens. The cliched "simple things" were very fulfilling and though we miss many things about living in a city, we realized our little life was pretty satisfying.

Our consumer needs decreased and we found that what we really wanted was more time. Time to weed the garden. To make beer. To raise goats. To preserve seasonal food. To fix the multitude of sad things about our once-lovely house.

So, we made a plan. As a nice coincidence, that plan lined up well with my 35th birthday. For the past two years we've been living on a budget - paying off debt and saving money. We've been living on less, which meant lifestyle changes. Much less travel. Much more home cooking. Way fewer gadgets. We met our goals and we were happy doing it. We didn't miss the things we thought we would.

A few weeks ago - after two years of planning - I quit my job to become a full time small farmer. (Most of the time I'm really cool saying that. But it still gives me mild panic attacks on occasion).

Starting in May, I'll be part of a growing number of college-educated women who have chosen to leave the workforce. There are many reasons why we've made this choice - some political, some economical, but mostly it's probably because the only thing I think I've ever wanted to be is a small farmer with an old house.

And soon I will be!


  1. And - I must add quickly - this life change has not come about because of any change in situation. We are very happy with our choice to be (and remain) a child-free couple.

  2. I too, chose to leave the work force for nine years - for the more usual reasons that many college-educated women do - to riase their child (or children). Like you, we planned for many years to be able to live on one income, so we paid down debt, saved money, etc. Although it meant less in savings and a totally different career when I did return to work, I never regretted that time at home. Follow your dream!

  3. Although college-educated, apparently I am a bad typist!

  4. Thanks, Maura and Becky! I think there are a lot of women who don't understand or really support this sort of change. It's good to hear from two awesome women who do!