A year ago this past January, I spent countless hours painting the walls of my studio and new office space, hanging curtains and shelving and preparing to open up my business in a beautiful old mill building that stands tall above the Ammonoosuc River; the yoga studio on the riverside and my permaculture office across the hall. It was the perfect place for me to settle my roots (pun intended). So this week was bittersweet when I climbed the ladder to take down my “Rooted by Stacey” sign with its accompanying logoed shovel blade that Sean created for me when I first set up shop.
My yoga studio is staying in its place but my permaculture business has been uprooted. By choice. I had originally ventured down to the Tannery building in search of space for a yoga studio in the fall of 2013 and it was only when I met the owner and embraced his vision for a sustainable, ecological friendly redevelopment vision for the property that I asked for a second space for my permaculture office. And over the last year we made great strides in designing plans for a permaculture redevelopment project, sharing our ideas with our neighbors and the town officials, and even bringing in state representatives to ask for support in making these plans come to life. Working with the Ray, the owner, was a real gift and I was happy to be leading the charge to bring permaculture and sustainable economy to my town.
But we soon realized that we wanted this to happen for the community more than the community wanted it to happen for itself, and although painful and something the younger, feistier version of me would have fought for years, I realized that I was putting all of my skills and passion for regenerating the land, the economy and our spirit into a unwilling community and not giving any to my very willing self. Like I had done so many times before, I was giving 100% of myself without receiving anything in return. And I began to notice, after long hours of presentations and conversations that Ray would leave with a smile on his face and a sense of contentment in wrapping up what we had done, not phased that the project had seemed to reach a halt. I, on the other hand, drew weary, long faced, black circles under my eyes, with anxiety and insomnia as frequent bedfellows. What was I missing? How was he so unaffected by the lack of support for something we both so dearly believed in? How was he sleeping at night?
And that’s when it occurred to me that he was sleeping just fine at night because he went home and lived the practices we were trying to get others to embrace. The simple, yet fuller, connected permaculture way of living is how Ray and his wife Sarah spend their days on their land. They would love nothing more than to see the community where they have established their business embrace the same values that so enrich their lives but they also don’t let the decisions of the community stop them from carrying out this purpose, this regeneration of land and life. So this winter, I sat across from Ray in his office by the river and shared that I would be moving out of my permaculture office in his building and moving my office to the land Sean and I had purchased for our permaculture homestead. I was going to give my passion and skills to our future together while continuing to teach permaculture to those that shared our common beliefs.
I now understand that meeting Ray was never about the two of us embarking on a crusade to change the minds of those so rooted in their modern belief system. It was about us helping each other out, helping support each other in our own efforts to embrace this valuable way of living. After all, the land we purchased is right down the road from him and Sarah. We are now neighbors. And when I explained to him that I needed to put my skills to work around the state where they were wanted and more importantly, on my land, so that Sean and I could live more harmoniously in line with our beliefs, he stood up and hugged me. He gets it. Live by example and love your life.
Today, Sean and I picked up some of the last of the miscellaneous items in my office space after meeting with Ray. Our meeting was to discuss barn plans as he has offered to help us build the structure that will house my new office. And as I stood in the hallway, shuffling the last box from my office on my hip talking to Ray and reflecting on this past year of work, this transitional time for my business, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that life brought us together, that I found a new neighbor and a new friend.