It’s been just over a year since I packed up my bags, my dogs, the convenience of city life, and followed my heart to The Ranch. It has taken me a while to digest all that has happened, all I have learned, and all that is on the horizon. In a sense, the most telling thing about my Ranch experience is that I am still here. But, for me, as I sit here and savor the memories of the past year, with a healing patch of poison oak on the inside of my left bicep, it’s no surprise.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for artistic convenience, I knew when I set foot on this property that I was in for a huge helping of “WTF.” Not only had I moved to a Ranch, with a long history of inspiring outlaw-Redneck behavior and giving sanctuary to those ill equipped to deal with the “confines” of city life, but I was moving into a house that was still (and to a degree remains) an active construction zone. Not fully appreciating the stresses of those two circumstances combined, on more than a few occasions I fantasized about making my escape back to civilization, or just plain sobbed.
But, as I have said from the beginning, when I came to The Ranch I was following my heart. I don’t mean that in the Cheez-Whiz, Nicholas Sparks sense. I mean actually listening to my heart. For most of my adult life, I had made almost all of my choices based on a cold calculation of fact based logic and reason (at least what I thought was logic and reason.) I prided myself on being someone who was not prone to flights of fancy. I routinely subordinated, or flat out ignored what my heart was often screaming to me. In some ways that robotic, emotionless existence worked out. It got me through law school and helped me build a successful career in a field where virtually any show of emotion or vulnerability is seen as a sign of incompetence or worst of all, weakness. The problem is, the most horrid mistakes I have ever made were the direct and brutal consequence of not listening to the emphatic pleas of my heart.
Clearly, logic and reason didn’t factor into the equation when it came to deciding to leave the comfort and convenience of city life. I refused to ignore my heart shouting at me to be with My Beloved, and reminding me there could be more depth to my life than the thankless 13 months in grueling back to back trials, from which I had just emerged. My heart craved something grounded and real. Trust me, The Ranch is real.
Amongst other things, my world now includes a chicken coop for our 10 Ameraucana chicks and an organic garden. I have even shoveled horse manure! A year ago one would have been better off wagering that I would do something insane, like vote for a Democrat, or wear acrylic nails, before I would get anywhere near horse poop. Getting my hands dirty and being free to reach beyond the life I had known has made my heart sing.
Fear not, I have not been completely body snatched by the local 4-H, nor have I left my inner city girl stranded on some dirt road. The evidence of her survival can be seen most strikingly in the absence of taxidermied animal carcasses in our house, not to mention in my victory at The Battle of the Bidet. Hands down, I would still chose an afternoon in a city cafe over a ride on a 4-wheeler into the wilderness of The Ranch, but I am grateful that I have been able to experience the two.
My experience has shown me that there is no irreconcilable contradiction in being a Francophile City Girl that lives on a ranch. I love the things I’ve learned–hair raising critters and all. It’s my truth. It’s a reflection of what’s in my heart. My life is richer for it. Thank goodness there is room enough on The Ranch and in my heart for both.