Two years ago this week, John and I put in the offer to the OneEighty Homestead. The week before, we brought our parents to the property to get their thoughts on this enormous life shift we were contemplating. We happened to time it perfectly with the most amazing poppies I’ve ever seen being in full bloom all around the farmhouse. If I wasn’t already head over heels in love with this old homestead, the poppies sealed the deal. Here, despite the house and property’s ramshackled state of existence, beauty persisted.
Year two was the year we planned to open the gallery. But this winter, as we started the process of filling out applications for permits and meeting with county zoning officials, we learned there would be no gallery unless we installed a bathroom in the building we are renovating into the gallery and studio space. Tears of frustration and anger—anger at myself for not starting the process sooner and for not thinking a step ahead at the probability we would encounter such an enormous expense—gnawed at me for weeks. We were stuck. There would be no OneEighty Pottery grand opening during the 2017 season. I would not meet our goal. What I initially viewed as a diamond in the rough, was now just rough. It felt like failure before we even started.
Then I received this text from my Dad:
Hey kid. As far as your place in Door County. Maybe it is God putting the brakes on one thing to let you develop several of the other things you have going on. I truly feel God is saying, “Slow down and enjoy that which I am giving you.”
Slow down? Anyone who knows me knows this is an entirely foreign concept to me. My life, my mind, my work, my play know two speeds: fast and faster. But I couldn’t help but feel my dad was onto something.
What I soon realized is there is a difference between "slow down" and "stop." We weren’t being asked to stop progress on our OneEighty dreams, simply slow it down so we could adjust our focus to where it needed to be at that moment in the journey.
Unable to open the gallery as planned, or use the home bathroom or a portable facility for the time being as a temporary fix, we looked for what we could do. What we could do is persist.
What we could do is have a roadside stand to sell the fruit, honey or other farm products produced by OneEighty Orchard and OneEighty Petals.
What we could do is plant approximately a quarter acre of cut flowers so we could have a fresh flower stand later this summer.
What we could do is begin to learn the ins and outs of organic orchard management, allocating the funds that would’ve gone into renovating the gallery building to buying a backpack sprayer and the necessary holistic orchard approved fungicides and insecticides.
What we could do is learn how to operate the orchard sprayer, something I personally had stayed away from for no other reason than being scared to learn.
What we could do is ask for help when we didn’t know the answers or needed to learn something.
What we could do is accept the generous amounts of encouragement, kindness and wisdom offered by the friends we have made up here, friends who in just a short amount of time have come to feel like family to us.
What we could do is continue to make pottery.
What we could do is participate in art shows this summer to sell that pottery.
What we could do is choose hope.
What we could do is move forward. Slowly.
I have spent most of the last three weeks up here by myself as John finished the school year, my days spent planting and spraying instead of running the gallery and welcoming our first season of customers like I originally anticipated.
“Just plant the next thing,” he said.
So I did. One row after the next, I planted, and planted, and planted. Surprisingly, despite my sore knees, roughed up hands and aching back, what followed were moments of total contentment and peace...and double rainbows.
As John drove away from the farmhouse a few weekends ago, after driving up to help me plant between the weekend's rainstorms, he spotted a double rainbow arching over the farmhouse. He pointed to it and called out the
I stepped out into the driveway to get a better look and take this photo.
In Eastern cultures, double rainbows are considered to be symbolic of transformations in one's life. The more vibrant the colors grew, the more that feeling of hope inside me started to stifle the fear and uneasiness I'd been feeling on and off over the past several weeks.
Year Two is not starting out as planned. Far from it. But then again, finding this property and starting #our180adventure was never in our plans either. I’m beginning to learn (however slow) that embracing the unplanned is OK. That, at the risk of quoting a much overused quote, Martin Luther King, Jr. was right. "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
I'm learning every step causes that hope to grow a little stronger. A little bigger. And where there is hope, persistence will follow.
Choose persistence. I am.
xo - Sara Rae