exactly one month ago i quit my full-time job.
the essential piece for me is that my time is finally my own. i don’t have to say no to family and friend get together’s anymore; i can stay up late guilt-free if the book i’m reading is so good i can’t put it down; i have time for yoga twice a day and wholesome cooking and laying in the grass just to feel the sun on my face.
yesterday we brewed two batches of beer – it was an all day affair. when i had a job, homebrewing stressed me out because it took up one of my only two days off per week. my other off day would then have to be spent on chores, cooking, and prep for brew day. honestly, it stunk and i resented brew day. but this time brew day was glorious. we were able to take our time and not stress the little things like water not heating up fast enough or messes on the stove.
the homebrew process produces two things – beer and spent grains. in the past, i always composted most of our spent grains, freezing just a few containers for bread. even though the pounds and pounds of grain eventually turned into nourishment for our garden, it seemed a little wasteful. when you brew, you are extracting all the sugars and carbohydrates from malted grains – this sweet liquid is then bittered with hops and fermented into beer. this means that the leftover spent grains are stripped of sugar, but rich in the good stuff – fiber and protein. i’ve been making bread with spent grains for years, but i never found many other uses for them.
last year i gifted andrew the book sustainable homebrewing, which had many recipes for using spent grains. finally, i was able to use my reclaimed time to try some of these recipes. first of course i made four loaves of artisan wheat-spent grain-sourdough bread topped with black sesame seed and sea salt. i froze enough grains for about 15 more loaves of bread. today i crafted spent grain falafels and they were BOMB. my lunch was three falafel patties topped with yogurt, tomato wedges, roasted cauliflower, shredded romaine, and red onion. finally, i used ten cups of grains to make granola – my first try at homemade! i used oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and shredded coconut, sweetened with honey. the granola came out splendidly and will make a fine breakfast mixed with yogurt.
i am a maker, a doer. the rhythm of all this doing was completely natural. when i used to have a job, the rhythm of all my doing was unnatural. my hobbies and projects were burdens, tasks taking up all my free time. my drive to create stressed my relationships and my health. now, with my time reclaimed, i can explore, tinker, and learn. i can pick up whatever strikes my fancy. i can turn a ‘waste’ bi-product into healthful foods for my family and friends, while at the same time bouncing around between studying herbal medicine, picking the banjo, and wandering around in the yard.
the practice is to listen to my intuition for what to do with my time, instead of being ruled by to-do lists and deadlines. the practice is to live all my doing and making as forms of self-expression, celebrations of life. what is more of a celebration of life than food? what is more of a self-expression than dancing around on my yoga mat?
of course, not every day has been blissful. not even close. i spent my first week post job surrounded by loved ones – dancing at my cousin’s wedding in detroit, showing my partner old man’s cave, eating at restaurants with my family. when i finally came back to athens 10 days later, i became deeply depressed. no job, no loved ones … my first four days alone were sheer misery. i was immobilized by possibility. i couldn’t make any decisions what to do with my time, so i ended up moping around the house most days and watching lots of movies.
then andrew’s grandmother passed and we spent five days in atlanta helping his family with the preparations. this lifted me out the depression. it’s weird to say, but experiencing death was like this lightning bolt from the universe telling me to snap out of it, reminding me that we only get one precious life. i spent the days practicing selflessness and giving of my time, myself, without any expectation of reward or acknowledgment. and it felt good. it’s nice to remember we’re all in this together and we all experience the same range of emotions.
returning to athens, i didn’t have much time to think. the next morning i drove north to meet my mom and sister in virginia for a traini girls camping trip. drinking beers around a campfire and laughing, hiking paths surrounded by mushrooms and ferns, gazing out on the virginia piedmont from high summits, exploring new towns, driving backroads listening to old country music, lounging at a brewery, seeing live bluegrass … it was perfect. once again, i felt like the universe had a hand in everything – like it was reminding me, hey, christine – these are things you live for! time with loved ones, communion with nature, and sweet freedom.
then i met my brothers and we loaded down three canoes with 150 beers, countless pounds of food, and ten kid’s worth of camping beer and headed down the little tennesee river. there was rope swings, camp fires, euchre and catan games, early nights, camp coffee, and swimming, as well as dragging boats down a too-shallow river, cut up legs and feet, and guerilla campsites. we watched the total eclipse from the middle of a river, miles away from anyone else, swallowed whole by evergreen trees and a blue, blue sky. the eclipse was so incredible, so moving, i came home and cried. i felt connected to humanity, again the feeling arose of ‘we’re all in this together’.
the past week i’ve been back at home base, going to yoga classes at rubber soul, cooking the food that now serves as my health insurance plan, reading books about tarot and herbalism and appalachian culture and off-the-grid homesteading, brewing beer and kombucha, laying in lawns on UGA’s campus, and writing, so much writing.
one month in, i have no fear. i am starting to examine money and the role it has in my life, the way i think about it, how much of it do i actually need, what is enough (of money, food, possessions, etc) … thinking thoughts about how to build a sustainable lifestyle but at the same time practicing NOT WORRYING about the future and what it will bring. so far the universe has taken care of me and shown me that i am a strong woman capable of absolutely anything. for now, i know that means not holding a traditional full time job ever again. finding ways to make it work by accruing other forms of capital besides money.
i am oh so excited for what the next few months will bring. i hope to post more but may not be able to due to travel (ohio! mammoth cave! chicago! green bay! UP michigan! CANADA!). i also hope to buy a dslr camera, as i no longer have a smart phone capable of taking good photos. subscribe via email for updates!