On Finding Life

April 2013. Speeding north on I-95 in fading light, radio tuned to 101.5. Not listening.

I don’t have a destination. Just a canvas tote in the passenger seat, a shirt and pair of jeans, toothbrush and a laptop. An old Bible shoved in the front pocket for good measure.

A few hours of criss-crossing highways, drawing circles with my tires, I park in the lot of a crappy motel. I’m going to be brave, live on the edge, check into a room with faded bedspreads and a gum-chewing girl manning the overnight lobby. This is a sheltered young woman’s act of defiance.

Virginians can’t cook Mexican food, but I eat a burrito and a cup of bland rice, cross legged on a hotel bed of cement. I listen to my own thoughts, speak aloud to the walls, whisper at the patchy television across the room. Embers burn in my gut and exhaustion clings to my bones.

I don’t sleep that night.

Morning comes and I brush my teeth, handing over my room key by 7am. I pass a donut shop, fill a cardboard box with a baker’s dozen and find myself home to kiss the man I married and listen to the boys argue over the sprinkles.


The years had cracked the axis of my being. I’d splinted it and smiled, but the fracture ached with the seasons. My fibers begged for wholeness.

And so I bought a farm.


John didn’t believe, at first, that it was necessary to uproot our lives and move ourselves to the country. He stood in the kitchen of our white rental house with the scuffed walls and said it didn’t make sense. Why was the fight for life wrapped around this farmhouse?

I paced, I cried, I stood straight and told him I knew deeply that this was it. This was the thing. We needed to buy the house, move our furniture and our souls to a wider plot of earth and recreate the messy life into which we’d fallen. He needed this as much as I did because I needed it to live.

On a Thursday morning in May we closed on the farmhouse and mopped the floors that night. I stayed late to finish cleaning the bathrooms, but I panicked in the country quiet and what if there were axe murderers out here? I used my sticky new key to jiggle the door lock, sprinted to the car and drove back to the old house to sleep.

Early the next morning we sat on steps of the yellow farmhouse and watched the early summer sunshine catching dewdrops. John’s jeans were dirty, my hair frizzed in the wet air and our hands had found each other. He leaned over and nudged my shoulder with his own, side-eyeing me, smirking. This was it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.35.29 AM

There was no way of knowing in April exactly why I needed these few grassy acres or the yellow of the cottage or the worn wooden staircase or even the particular four-square layout of the house.

But we bought chickens and I found a therapist.

We mowed the pastures and I went to bed on time.

We sipped wine in the white porch swing and I started to breathe.

We found a few sheep and I found a psychiatrist.

We started milking a cow and I learned to hear my heart move.

We planted seeds and I felt the knots in my soul loosening.

Our lambs were born and I laughed.

I knew the truth in the thin places. There are lives within me worth fighting for.



Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.40.14 AM



Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.37.40 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 9.40.15 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.41.32 AM


Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.42.31 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.39.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.37.09 AM



Prettiest photos taken by photographer friends Chelsea Hudson and Kate Fuster. All others from my Instagram.

March 7, 2015 19

The Love Chronicles: On Being Wanted

I’m convinced my husband hates me. We talk about it late at night, me with my knees pulled into my chest, leaning against the pillows. He is there, sprawled across the foot of the bed on his stomach, his chin resting on his folded forearms. I use my hands when I talk, wide and sweeping, (Read More)

October 30, 2013 30
On Happily Ever Afters - Ashleigh Baker

On Happily Ever Afters

I tend to be an all-or-nothing person. I’ve told you this before, haven’t I? I speak in shades of always and never, “here’s the thing” and “there’s nothing I hate more.” John sent a sigh-laugh from across the kitchen recently. “You know, there sure are a lot of individual issues you hate more than any (Read More)

October 16, 2013 31

What I Won’t Tell You About My Ballet Dancing Son

When you ask him about sports, he’ll raise his blue eyes to mine and press his lips together. I’ll nod to assure him it’s safe, he’s okay, this isn’t the school lunch table where the kids can taunt. “I dance,” he’ll say. “Ballet. This year I’m doing hip hop and tap and jazz, too, but (Read More)

August 20, 2013 9

on summer vacation and a wannabe minivan

I didn’t want to be a minivan mom because, well, duh. Contemplating automatic sliding doors and the wide arm sweeps required to maneuver a gold or blue vehicle and its pointed nose into the school and soccer field parking lots makes me feel unnecessarily antiquated. I’m the young mom, right? Cruise control doesn’t fit into (Read More)

August 10, 2013 3