balance · farming

Finding Big Picture Balance #AmeriCorps*NCCC #WildPeaceFarm #heartsoulmindbody

The two years that I served with AmeriCorps*NCCC were two of the best years of my life so far.

A lot of people can point to a year or an experience that changed their life.  It could be a loss or a life event.  It could be a certain job, or going to college.  It could be a year abroad, or meeting someone special who helps you to change your perspective.

My years of AmeriCorps service were life-changing – they changed the way I look americorpsat the world.  Those two years helped me to really figure out who I am and what I value.  Before that, I was a city kid.  I had no great love of the outdoors or of working on projects by hand.  By the time I was halfway through my first year of AmeriCorps service, I had learned more about myself than I had in three years of college.

My AmeriFriend, Squid, came to visit this weekend, and we reminisced about our AmeriCorps projects.  Squid and I had similar pre-AmeriCorps likes, dislikes, and lives.  We each had joined AmeriCorps*NCCC with limited experience with physical labor.  We each expected that our favorite projects would be people-centered – working as summer camp counselors, doing taxes for low-income families – and we were each surprised to find that our favorite projects were more physical and solitary – trail-building in the woods of Ohio, removing invasive species in the Smoky Mountains, etc.

I find the outdoors and physical work incredibly soothing and enriching.  At the end of a day on the trail, I would feel great.  I’d be exhausted, but my body would feel capable and strong and useful.  The repetition of a basic task – digging or smoothing or pickaxing – was meditative.  I’d feel calm and serene in a way that is difficult for me to obtain via other methods.

During my first few years of working after finishing AmeriCorps, I missed this Life-is-a-matter-of-balancefeeling a lot.  I started teaching at a school for kids with special needs, and I adored the children – but I craved that feeling of having spent a day at physical labor, and I missed being outdoors.  Eventually, that feeling was what led me to take a job as an outdoor educator, where I met Tee; we worked as team-building facilitators on a farm-slash-outdoor-learning-center in northern Baltimore County.  That job was a pretty good fit for me – but I really missed working with kids with special needs, and I felt that my true calling was to be a social worker.

Now, looking at The Big Picture, I feel like I have a perfect blend of the outdoors, children, physical labor, and mental/emotional tasks.  My Big Picture Balance includes my day job, helping little kids who need help – which is a lot of #heart and #mind food – and my side job, as (ahem) Assistant Farm Manager, which gives me the #body and #soul food that I learned to love through AmeriCorps.

That kind of balance feels pretty wonderful.

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