10 June 2013: an absolutely ordinary rainbow.

I wrote this during our last few days in Australia…

There’s too much going on in my head to organize this post, so I think I’ll just make a list…

>>> It’s hard to believe our time in Australia is coming to an end. For as long as I can remember I’ve been warned how quickly time passes you by. That before you can even stop to think about the present, you’re already living the future. That as you get older time will pass you by even quicker.

>>> I’ve learned a lot of things from my adventure in Australia, but one lesson I think will really stick with me is to slow down. We’re not meant to live our lives on the fast track watching our life happen before our eyes, we’re supposed to live in the moment and try to capture the memories as best we can. Since living in Australia I can’t even count the number of times I didn’t realize what day of the week it was or what time it was. I was working and living and not caring about how much time was left in the day or how many days away the weekend is.

>>> It was January and now it’s June. June = going home. I’ve been looking forward to going home ever since I left. Not that I wanted to come home right away, but I knew how great it would be to come home. Even going a few hours from home and coming back feels great. Leaving for 6 months and coming home is bound to feel awesome.

>>> I had to say goodbye to my goats this past weekend. My girls. Charlotte and Josie. The sweetest goats you will ever know. Go ahead and laugh at my love of caprines. I don’t care what you say; goats rock. I owe a lot to them. They helped solidify what I want to do with my life. I have hopes of owning a small dairy farm and selling artisan goat’s cheese. One night, in the anticipation of getting Charlotte and Josie, I was reading one of my new goat books, when I set it down, looked over at Jonathon and said in a very Minnesota/North Dakota accent, “I’m gonna be a goat farmer!” My girls were just the beginning of realizing my dreams.

>>> I have a new friend who was first our roommate. His name is Will and he is a writer, specifically of poems. He wrote us a poem that means a lot to me. Read it here.

>>>  I’ve been reminded once again that language barriers are no excuse. Two years ago when I was part of a team building a house for a family in need in Guatemala, my mom and I got in a water balloon fight with a mother and her children. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard and seeing the smiles on the faces of the children and well deserving mother was indescribable. A few weeks ago Jonathon and I, along with Will, invited Michelle, Liv, and Miki over for dinner and drinks. Michelle and Liv who are from the Netherlands, speak fluent English. On the other hand, Miki, who is Japanese, tends to struggle a bit. After dinner we played a game called Jungle Speed. Long story short, Miki quickly picked up on the game and we all had tons of fun. A night I will never forget.

>>> We have learned so much on this trip. Invaluable lessons that we will always remember. Lessons we’ll look back on as we develop our own vegetable farm. We couldn’t be more thankful to have had an opportunity like this.

>>> Today we left the farm. A place I have a feeling I will look back on often. A place of many firsts for me, as well as for Jonathon. We are so excited to go home and see family and start our next chapter in life, but I couldn’t help but be a bit teary-eyed as we drove past the farm this morning. Such a beautiful piece of land at the foot of an old volcano…which is a great thing when growing organic veg, the soil is top notch! It’s always hard to leave a place, but even harder when you don’t know if you’ll see it again. I’d like to think we’ll make trips periodically to visit friends and see more of this country as we’ve barely even started, but you just never know.

The list could go on forever, but I think I’ll stop here.

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Be present.

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It’s funny how quickly you can fall into a routine. We’ve always known our Australian adventure was never a permanent thing, but we easily sank into a schedule. It just became a way of life we were used to. June would come and we would be on our way back home, feeling like it all happened too fast. But what’s even funnier is how quickly you can fall out of routine. We took one simple week off to spend some time in a part of Australia that is often overlooked by tourists, but never imagined how hard it would be to come back.

Jonathon and I went on a fantastic trip to Tasmania. A week filled to the brim with hiking, viewing incredible landscapes, lots of great food and wine, a marriage proposal that I’m still trying to comprehend; experiencing a place that truly is like no other (you wouldn’t know you were still in Australia if it wasn’t for the accents). But when it was time to head back to the mainland we really struggled. Not because we didn’t want the vacation to end (we didn’t, but that’s a different can of worms), but because we felt like we were supposed to be heading back home, home to North Dakota where all of our friends and family are.

It was a feeling neither of us expected. We knew we were heading back to the farm where we would continue the routine per usual. A routine we had come to enjoy, but it just didn’t feel right anymore. We did what we had to do and have slowly fallen back into the routine, but all we can think about is getting home and how we have 7 long weeks before we get to board the plane.

Yet somehow in the last couple of days I’ve been reminded of how blessed we are to be spending this time in Australia and how lucky we are to have the life we do.

^^^because when you stop and look around this life is pretty amazing ^^^

I think we all can become complacent with the way we live our lives. Everything turns to normalcy. As creatures of habit we need to be reminded of how this life is pretty amazing.

The other night I had dreams of my Grandpa Bruce. A man that never took life for granted. A man that as they say “grabbed life by the horns.” I think of him often since he passed almost two years ago, but I hadn’t had dreams of him. These dreams in particular felt so real: his smile, his uncontrollable, contagious laugh, his handlebar mustache. Nothing was really happening, but all I could remember were these still-shots of being with him. Various people came in and out, but it was always at least him and I. They stuck with me the rest of the day and hung around a few days more, reminding me to be thankful and present and enjoy the rest of my time here. Leave it to my stubborn Grandpa to not allow me to take this all for granted.

This was just the start, though. I remembered why we were here in the first place. To learn and grow and understand more the life of an organic vegetable operation and to provide heaps of good food to so many people. All lessons we have learned and hope to bring back with us to create our own organic operation. This whole experience has also allowed us to meet so many great people from all walks of life. We’re currently invited to visit our newfound friends in Mexico, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Holland, of course Australia…and Minnesota nonetheless.

The current WWOOFER’s are one gal from Japan, two gals from Ireland, one gal from Holland, and a guy from Minnesota that just came to hang out and get away from his desk job (sound familiar?). It was decided not long after our return back to farm that we would have a celebratory dinner party in honor of our recent engagement. That party commenced last night and needless to say it was yet another reminder to not wish our time away on wanting to be home. We were even given a glorious chocolate cake inscribed with “Congrats Hannah & Jonathon” with lots of pink hearts from our dear friend and restaurant chef, Pauline. How could we not feel blessed? We left the party knowing we had made five new, incredible friends.

So, creature of habit, this is me, reminding you, to not take this life for granted. Or any experience or moment in time whether you’re just trying to figure out the self-timer on your camera and are proposed to all within 60 seconds, sitting by a warm fire reading a book, or jumping for joy because all the snow has finally melted and summer’s on it’s way. Be present…

And most of all >>> Be in love with your life. Every minute of it. <<< – Jack Kerouac

“…your world will at last be built.”

Disclaimer: I first wrote this post last fall (not sure of the exact time frame), but thought it was still relevant enough to share. Please no one take offense to this or think I am an ungrateful child, it’s just a different perspective to look at/think about. And as many of you know, I have “changed my circumstances” and am very happy with my choice. It’s funny how you can make decisions that scare the hell out of you, only to realize you made the right one. What a good feeling it is… Also, Pops, I know you’re reading this, and I just want to say: I love you.

“Cherish your vision. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. If you remain true to them, your world will at last be built.” – James Allen

It’s funny how one can perceive the future and be so undoubtedly sure of how it will all turn out . When I was 18 I thought I was invincible. I was so young and naive, but absolutely ready to conquer the world. When I was 19 I was much less confident and unsure of myself. When I was 20 I started understanding what was important to me and why I needed to stand up for those things, what type of person I wanted to be and what I expected from others. I was becoming the woman I am still finding today. I was full speed ahead after that and at 21 I had never been more sure of my choice in studies and couldn’t wait to get into the real world.

Now, towards the end of my 22nd year I have come upon a blank canvas. You see, somewhere between my 19th and 20th year I fully embraced a side of me I never knew I had:  a control freak. I became more involved on campus and had my first internship. I needed every aspect of my life planned out from classes, to work, to my weekend visits with family and beyond.

However, during spring semester of my senior year, I began having these crazy quarter-life crises. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. Sure, I knew I would graduate, start full-time as a Marketing Coordinator and probably enjoy my summer. You’d think I’d be happy with that and I think for a short time I was. But was that what I really wanted? Was this what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? Where was I going?

This all sounds so cliche as I type it, but honestly I believe my generation has had to “figure life out” quicker than most. We’re no longer running into marriages and staying at our first jobs until retirement. We are waiting to get married, taking “time off” after college, working part-time jobs (less for choice and more to pay the bills), taking time to find hobbies and the laundry list could continue.

I could mention the economy and how it sucks and how everyone is overqualified, but I don’t think that’s why this generation isn’t embracing life-engulfing careers. We want to live life and (sorry mom and dad if you’re reading this) not be like our parents. That’s not to say we don’t look up to them or appreciate all they have done for us (because we do), but their generation grew up  believing what the generation preceding them believed: to make their children’s lives better than what they had.

But to what extent? And what does ‘better’ really mean? Better can be such a relative term. Of course, if someday I have children of my own, I want to do all that I can to make sure his or her life is a joyous one; I just don’t know if I can say “better than what I had.” I want them to have what is best for them without comparing their life to the life I have lived.

For example, my dad, like so many others in his generation, has worked at the same job for 3o+ years. A job he knew would provide for his family in all the right ways, a job that did. But from eyes it was a job he never really enjoyed. From what I can remember, he was never excited to go to work, in fact it seemed he dreaded it.

Now, fresh out of college I have found myself in a job I do not particularly enjoy. There are many positive aspects of the position, but I have found there are more cons than pros. Many people my age would kill to have this job. Great salary and benefits at a fast growing company with free travel a couple times of year. However, the things I found that I value in a full-time job are not very apparent at this position. Bottom-line is, I am not happy here.

After my dad first found out I was planning on quitting, he thought I was crazy. In his eyes, this was a great job, a job that could help me pay off my loans and make me “successful.” And this is where our generations clash. I have the opportunity to change my circumstances and be happier, but to him I was making a huge mistake. Is this mindset ensuring I have it  “better than he had?”

I admire my dad in so many ways, too many ways to list in this post. I love him to pieces and know that of his three children I am the most like him…good or bad. And although I may not always admit it, I am proud when people tell me I am just like him…I am my father’s daughter.

Maybe not the best picture, but I think it captures us pretty well.

Maybe not the best picture, but I think it captures us pretty well.