Choosing My Vital Few
Whew. Wowza. What a season we've just come through. You know when you've just delivered a baby and you're all “Whew! Wowza! That was a doozy.” – ya, it's like that though, thank the Lord, there was a lot less blood involved.
These past few months have been filled with times of intense reflection and frenzied book shipping. We launched our cookbook, Family Table, in October and it was surely a steep learning curve. I now know more about customs forms and tracking labels than I'd care to. But regardless, it's been rewarding to see the pile of boxes in the basement begin to grow smaller and think of all the kitchens that will be serving up dishes from amongst it's pages.
But seriously, that launch was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. The house went to pot, the kitchen felt uninspired, and every table, chair, and trunk seemed to be filled with labels, tape, envelopes, computer chargers, or a list of sorts.
Have I ever mentioned I like my home clean and organized? Not such a great goal when you have four little ones, homeschool, and run two businesses from your unfinished basement.
I can feel myself pulling inward, now that the leaves are changing, the flower beds are weeded, mulched, and put to rest for the winter (hello, sore back) and the animals are settled into their winter quarters.
Poor Stuart – I keep making him sit down with me to have major life talks – again.
Where are we going? What do we want? What goal are we aiming for? Where do we see ourselves?
All valid questions for the entrepreneur… and all questions that get my head spinning and my heart pounding. The problem for me isn't coming up with dreams – it's figuring out which dream to act on! I've been reading heavily on choosing the ‘vital few' in life so that you can give your greatest level of contribution to the world.
So what are ours?
Great question. Come have a cup of coffee and hash it out with me – will ya?
Our Vital Few
Raising Our Children
Raising our little ones in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Our children are our number one and give us the most colorful reasons for the life that we live. As we feed the chickens, they come alongside. When it's time to butcher pigs, they're there (they're always there). Every breakfast is shared. Every night they're tucked in. We're all here all the time and this gives us the unique opportunity of filling our little one's cups with all the goodness of the Lord and all that we hope to teach them while they're within these walls.
Refocusing on this ‘vital' piece of our life helps us to prioritize our days based on what their needs are and what we intent to do with them. For us, this involves practicing our catechism, reading lots of good books, spending most of our day outside in the dirt, working on attitudes and character traits (such as forgiveness, honesty, respect, etc), and homeschooling. This is our first year in Classical Conversations and we're in love with both the content and community. Coming from a mother who's totally not a homeschooling mom (even though I am), it's been a beautiful transition for us.
I feel inadequate every single moment of every single day with my children at this point. I've been brought to anger quicker than I would like to admit and wish I could say I've handled the struggles with grace and sweet words and all that jazz, but I haven't. It's a blood bath. But the Lord has continued to show me great mercy amongst my failings and more often than not, I find myself calling out to the heavens “Help me, Lord Jesus!”. Exactly where I should be, I suppose.
We're working on developing our homeschool room downstairs so that we can be better equipped and set up for book and art work. Right now, like most homeschool families, it's strewn over my dining room table which is sweet, but also incredibly annoying to move three times a day for meals. I'm feeling the need for a space to “go” to school. So create a space we shall.
I've also given the hood rats chore charts. Because it's time for them to start contributing, man.
When we began growing our farm years ago, we had grand intentions for a variety of businesses that we'd run from the land. Market gardens… no, maybe eggs… perhaps meat sheep… how about some specialty mushrooms… a small dairy, perhaps? All wonderful dreams but now that we're a ways in, we've realized they aren't our goal. They're not our vital few.
We farm because we love to eat the fruit of the land. We love to harvest our animals and enjoy every single morsel, wasting none. We love to plant the gardens each spring and watch the produce ripen through the warm months. We love making pathways with old brick and planting honeysuckle along the entrance. We love venturing out at dusk to call the pigs who come eagerly running for a scratch. We love the smells, the tastes, the beauty, and the potential our land provides. It's not much, but it's ours. And there's a lifetime of work to still be accomplished here.
So as we see it now, our ‘vital few' on the farm involves continuing to renovate the interior as we can and develop the entire property to be a place of beauty, fellowship, and productivity. Our plans involve building a barn with a gigantic loft for large parties, meetings, or classes. They also include building a one room hobbit hole in the very top corner to be utilized as a guest cottage (or, let's be honest, Mama escape).
They involve clearing brush, building fences and greenhouses, planting trees, developing ponds, cutting terraces into the hillside, and loads more gardens. There is so very much to do! And so much we want to do. So for now, we will develop the land for our own good pleasure and pray about what it can be utilized for in the future.
If I've learned one thing in my thirty years, it's that the future is very uncertain. That's both a daunting, and incredibly invigorating, reality.
Brainstorming, praying, and settling on the future of the farm has given me great peace. Rome was not built in a day and neither will this farm. Give me ten years and watch me go!
When I began with this amazing company a few years ago, we had no idea what was in store for us. I'd used essential oils for a decade, but not with intention. After struggling with postpartum depression after having Will, the oils became a wonderful aid and outlet. I became intentional about sharing my experiences with others and encouraging others to do the same. I will never tire of seeing the success others are having with their health because of these oils and I will never tire of sharing! Our dōTERRA business is one of my greatest joys. Viva la essential oils!
The blog will also be in my ‘vital few'. Always! In many ways, this blog feels like one of my children. I tend to it, care for it, raise it up, and develop it into something I hope will be of great benefit to the world. The community that surround the digital pages of it continue to bless me and encourage me as I navigate the waters of life – many of you have been there (done that!) and are eager to share your wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for that! Though I can't respond to each email, they are all read and appreciated. You all are a great blessing to me!
I have loads of new content that I'm gearing up to share this winter, now that the weather is more permissive to inside work, and I'm eager to get started! Stuart and I will also be releasing a short video each week where we'll be drinking coffee and talking about… well, whatever it is you'd like us to talk about! You ask. We answer. We all need more bearded men in our lives – am I right? Let me hear what you'd like us to cover! These will be rolling out pretty soon and I'm geeked.
It's about time y'all get to know the wonder that is Stuart.
Per reader request, I'll also be sharing lots of new content on our animals, homeschooling curriculum, and (FINALLY!!!!!) kitchen renovation finale! Just in time to start tearing apart the next room…
And lastly, this spring, we'll be launching our very first homesteading book! I've been tucked away in a closet for the last year slaving over it's 75,000 words (yes, 75,000) and 250 photographs (yes, 250) and now it's in the hands of the designer, who is making it farmesque and magical and everything I could have ever hoped it would be. Welcome To The Farm: How-to Wisdom From The Elliott Homestead will cover our entire homestead, from gardening, to mulch, to compost, to butchering, to herbal tinctures, to preserving, to beekeeping, to wine making, to building garden boxes. Everything that's in my brain was put into these pages. You're going to love it. Or so I hope! As soon as I get the green light from the publisher, I'll be sharing press footage with you to give you a taste! Not too long to wait now!
And of course, Family Table is still available for sale for those who have yet to snag a copy (digital is now available as well!). If I ever quit cooking delicious food, someone come and put me out of my misery. I shan't ever tire of it! And I'll be bringing plenty of new recipes to the blog so you can see what's cookin' in the (newly remodeled!) kitchen.
Now that we've recognized our vital few, we're able to spend the fall and winter season feeding those and watching them flourish! It's time for the farm to recharge and refill. It's time to clean out closets, put up Christmas lights, lay on newly upholstered vintage sofas, plan meals, finish projects, and sip lattes.
Also, it's time to write these vital few down so that I can focus.
I tend to drift easily…
… Oh look! Something shiny!…
… and Amen.