Welcome, dear readers, to another month of taking put out of the meditation cushion and into the world.
Last month I found volunteer work at an organic livestock farm to help with lambing as described in Metta Had a little lamb. When my next internship, helping an organic vegetable garden for the summer, got in touch to explain that there had been an unforeseen two-week delay in being able to accommodate me, my exhausted doula heart sank. little tight.
The notice was too short to plan a vacation or visit friends, and frankly, I just wanted to sleep after helping out for all hours in the lambing pen. So I emailed all the local farms signed up for the volunteer program in case anyone needed a short-term helping hand.
I received an unusual answer from a couple of young parents who had therefore not planned to host a volunteer this summer, but they could really use some help to prepare their agricultural tunnel for the spring: was I - be available to drop by for a brief in-person chat? When I looked at them on a map it turned out that they lived on the other side of the valley and I had had a direct view of their farm within the last month. When I arrived I was greeted by a young mother carrying her newborn son in a sling and her two year old daughter holding her hand, looking even more tired than me! I jokingly pointed to the field opposite with the 89 lambs I helped deliver in March as new “babies”.
The woman gave me a tour of their farm and farm, explaining what would help them prepare for spring and that they hoped to have their first family getaway this Easter. Would I feel confident caring for five goats alone? I laughed, remembering all the crazy adventures of my seven years of home care - as described in The Water Lily Sutra– and I thought, how tough can the goat nanny be? The couple had purchased the house and land at a reasonable price as it had not been renovated since the 1970s and the owner had died a few years earlier. Apparently, the same day they collected the keys to their new home, the chimney collapsed. To hear them tell the story, it was one of the funniest and scariest buyer's remorse stories I've ever heard. And before their first daughter was born, they had quickly turned the hayloft into an apartment so they could continue renovating the main house themselves from felled and chipped trees on their land.
As they walked around, it became apparent that nearly every aspect of their lives was under both literal and figurative construction. And, naturally, little had been touched or prepared for the upcoming growing season in the polytunnel or the garden, as their hands were both literally and figuratively full.
We discussed the tasks I could help them with and we agreed that I would cross the valley – not even a quarter of a mile as the crow flies – two days later.
My first week was very rewarding, helping where help was needed: sowing seeds, preparing vegetable beds and building a trellis. When I saw how cramped their living conditions in the hayloft were compared to mine staying alone in the five-bedroom farmhouse (even though it looked more like the Addams family mansion than a picture of Homes & Gardens magazine at this point), I decided to create quiet, clutter-free nooks for the new mom by tidying up and organizing the polytunnel and shed. I may not have been able to give the family the gift of sleep deprivation, but maybe creating a few peaceful oases could help calm the present and motivate their next steps?
She loved both surprises and told me every day how much of a pleasure, rather than a fear, it had become to spend time there. At this point, I honestly thought my work there was done, not knowing that very soon the real reason the Dharma had brought me through the valley would be revealed.
It all started innocently enough on Good Friday: I was weeding the bed of garlic and looking for snail shells in the ground with their little girl, when the young mother explained that the baby had a surprisingly high fever and that she wanted take him to the local hospital to make sure there is nothing serious. Unfortunately, due to the Easter weekend, extended wait times and meningitis screening protocols, she ended up spending three days in the hospital with him!
And so, their family rift instead turned into her husband frantically going back and forth to the hospital for help, as well as keeping his daughter's spirits up and the goats out of trouble at the House. Trying to think of what might help, I generated putmade some food, spring cleaned the kitchen, tackled three pending loads of laundry, and did my best (unsuccessfully) to keep the goats from climbing trees and onto the roof.
When mother and son were finally released on Easter Monday, we all kissed in the aisle, exhaled after climbing the interior walls, and I let them catch up on some more missing sleep. I must have laughed at my naivety thinking that a month of lambing was exhausting compared to two decades of raising humans!
That weekend had given me a glimpse of the pressure the father felt to finish his workshop so he could start working on renovating the house. He joked that at the rate he was progressing, it couldn't be done until the kids were in college. And so I offered to spend my remaining three days helping her.
As I happily hammered the joists and oiled wood for his beautiful woodworking shop, he was able to express his thoughts and feelings about completing such a massive project while starting a family. I listened between hammering nails and suggested listing the property as a filming location, because all those cobwebs and crumbling walls just might be a horror movie decorator's dream home until now. that he can turn it into their family's dream home.
On the day I was due to leave, I gave them three handmade vouchers: the first was for an Easter Do-Over Farm-Sit on the weekend of their choosing; the second was to declutter another corner they couldn't tackle on their own; and the third was a reminder whenever they needed it of the great job they were doing as parents.
The young mother gushed, threw 'thank you' arms around me and confessed that no one tells you how hard parenthood is going to be. I reassured her that her two children were among the happiest I had met in a long time, so clearly they were doing something, if not most things, right. And we pinned the reminder voucher on the family wall planner for whenever they needed to read it on good authority!
In turn, they thanked me for everything, saying kindly that I had been the help they didn't know they needed.
Hilariously, not even a week later I got a text in the market garden asking if it was too early for their Easter Do-Over? I happily agreed, returning that Friday evening to spend two uneventful days tending to their ongoing work and – successfully, this time – keeping the goats from climbing, frankly, whatever.
And so, dear readers, whether it's sleep, spring cleaning, comfort, rehab, or maybe even goats you think you need more of right now, please generate both put and vouchers for any or all of the above, preferably with no terms and conditions and no expiration date.
Or for put-morphose the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles:
Everyone has been there
Everyone was stared at by the enemy
Fallen for fear
And make disappearances
Don't run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there's a way out of the cage you live in
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
And show me, how big is your put is