As I sat tucked beside my milk cow last week, finishing up the last of the morning chores, I watched my son in awe as he rode the new bicycle we got him for Christmas. This new bicycle is the same size as mine, and I watched as he rode around the “back 40 (square feet)” as we jokingly call it. It struck me the amount of physical growth that this tiny boy has experienced in his short life. Just a few short years ago, he would fall if he ran too fast; he had training wheels on his itty bitty bike. Just a few short years ago, he couldn’t write, couldn’t read. Now he’s climbing trees and building forts. Now he makes lists and leaves notes all over the house, that is when he doesn’t have his nose in a book.
I know this growth is mostly normal. A child’s growth, physically and intellectually, is the normal progression of things. But as I sat, milking the cow, I pondered this growth. What if we all continued to grow, regardless of our age or societal norms.
Several years ago, when my husband and I first bought goats and I began to milk one of them, I had a friend say to me, “so you must’ve been raised with goats then?”. As if all of this was easy or came naturally. I must already be this type of person. Nope. I grew up in a subdivision with sidewalks and streetlights! I realized she must’ve thought I was insane to “wing it” with a dairy animal, especially when goat milk was so easily accessible from the grocery store. I mentioned this conversation to another friend- one who shares my wild spirit in regards to stepping outside our comfort zone and trying something new. She reminded me that most adults are done growing. We’ve got this idea that once we’re done with school, our formal education, and education in general, is done for the most part. I pondered this for a while. She was right. It’s one thing to try a new recipe, buy a motorcycle and learn how to ride it, or take up a new hobby that requires some light reading. It’s another to transform yourself from a consumer into a producer; to completely step out of your comfort zone and venture into a whole new lifestyle.
As I watched my son ride his new big bicycle, and reflected on some of the decisions we’ve made to grow our little homestead, I felt a renewed sense of motivation to continue to grow. I want to be the type of person who never stops growing.
I want to grow in my ability to try new, hard things, because stepping out of my comfort zone has led to some of the most rewarding experiences. After all, I wouldn’t be milking a cow if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone. Not only does she provide our family with the most delicious milk and cream, but I have met so many amazing people and made a handful of new friends in the homesteading world all because of a cow. Not to sound too cliche, but my world has opened up a bit more.
I want to grow in grit. Grit is defined as a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions. We are currently raising our own beef, which surprisingly evokes a lot of questions and comments from people. “Isn’t it hard?” or “I wouldn’t be able to do that, I love animals too much” or my favorite, “you’re so cruel.” Yes, it’s hard. Yes, we love animals too. No, I don’t believe its cruel. What do we learn or how do we grow if we are afraid of doing hard things. Growth can’t happen if we just stay the same.
I want to grow in empathy. I heard years ago in a criminology class in college, that Americans are desensitized to crime because of our overexposure to the never-ending news cycle. How many times have we all heard on the news that there’s been another school shooting? Another ravaging storm? Another highway collision? Sadly, we are used to it. I don’t want to be so desensitized that I lack compassion and empathy for these people. We never know when we will become victims of something terrible, and I’d hate to think nobody would be there to help because it’s just another crazy event. But that’s where we are as a nation. Compassion and empathy are muscles that need to be flexed in order to remain strong. There’s the famous quote by Mr. Rogers that says “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” In order for this to remain true, some people need to actually be the helpers, not just the ones receiving the help. I want to be a helper. I want to seek out ways to help solve a problem, not sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to figure it out.
As a society, we’ve got our priorities all out of whack. I heard someone say recently that what good is climbing the proverbial ladder if you’re not growing as a person? Really, at the end of the day, at the end of our lives, which one matters more?
That’s all for today. Just a bunch of my ramblings that I needed to get out. More recipes coming soon 🙂
Love reading this! And I love that we never stop growing!
I can’t imagine living any other way!!
I am so blessed to know such a wonderful person as you! And I am so glad that you are in my life and that your life’s goals are to grow and become more. I feel exactly the same way. I wonder how you got to be this way. What happened to you, or who were the people around you, that caused you to become this way. The world needs more people like you! Ramble on!
Ditto, Renee! I think a lot of it is surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who encourage us down our paths of growth. And maybe a little stubbornness when it comes to not settling for the status quo 🙂