"Stories are medicine."
-Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
Many of you who have found us here at La Suvera Farm have known Eddie and me at different stages of our lives. He grew up in Hicksville, Long Island, the child of immigrants, and became a successful hedge fund manager. I'm from the country in northern New Jersey, where a small sign proclaiming my title as Miss New Jersey 2002 hangs somewhere near the entrance of my hometown.
Yes, I became what I call an “accidental beauty queen” at the age of 18 and was the youngest competitor in the Miss America Pageant that year. But my real dream was to dance professionally as a Radio City Rockette, so I chased the New York skyline in search of “something more,” believing that great stages would bring fulfillment.
At the top, there was a void that the false lashes, glittery costumes, and red lips couldn’t fill. Then there was Eddie and that conversation we had in the back of a bar about all the things we really wanted in life that weren’t related to our bright and shiny successes.
For the past 17 years, we’ve been living out a story of how opposites attract and can make for a sturdy partnership that’s grown a family and is now building a farm. Our marriage and this life we’ve created feel like miracles, but truth be told, it’s been a day-by-day process of choosing to make it all work—he on the back end, me with all these words, the voice of our adventures.
“Why farming and stories?”, you might be wondering...
We believe that stories are everything—from the tales we each clung to about all we might achieve and the dreams we realized to the words of hope that carried us through the hard times.
Everything we seek to transcend or create is possible with the right mindset and a willingness to grow, because growth, it seems, is the point.
That’s why the words you’ll find here on perspective and possibility illuminate a way to flourish in farming and in life.
Now, I realize that a word like "flourish" carries an equal weight of optimism and overwhelm. At least, in my daily chaos, I certainly don't feel like I'm doing much more than treading water to stay afloat and, therefore, "failing" at whatever it is I'm attempting to accomplish. This is much like that concept of "happiness" I once chased and studied, but then all the empirical data and those well-meaning books on "How To" (be anything more than I was as a struggling new mom) threatened to bury me when I was down.
That's when I started to write...
I began journaling in early motherhood simply to cope with a postpartum struggle, but as the
story goes, my words emerged in the world the night we ended up in the ICU Burn Unit with our toddler son. He was fighting for his life, and I shared both my fear and hope from his bedside to survive what was hard.
When my feet are on the earth and my hands are in the dirt, the words I’ve long known I was destined to write become clear and practical. It seems the science of wellbeing I once studied under the experts and have spent nearly two decades contemplating has come to life through the rituals and routines of nurturing all the living things at La Suvera Farm. Be it a garden, the animals, the children, or the next meal that nourishes our family, I notice that whatever I hope will thrive always begins with a seed sown in the darkness. Then I just need some water, weeding, sunshine, and lots of patience as I sit back, wait, and trust…
Is it my effort that alchemizes the seed into an olive sprout, or is there “something more” at work in farming and motherhood?
Indeed, I have more questions than answers these days, but I continue to witness and to write, because that’s what carries me more resiliently through the great unknown.
I find my way to my desk in the early morning darkness and begin composing before the house stirs. Then I break when the sun filters rays of gold through the trees, and I see the webs spun by spiders sparkle in the light through my office window.
I edit in the kitchen and capture words I hear amidst the sounds of kids bickering and playing in Notes on my iPhone. Eternally, I think all I must be and do as a mother will silence the creative flow I long to remain in, but it's always right there below the surface of the beautiful chaos that keeps me open, vulnerable, and inspired.
I feel new words bubbling up when I’m mucking a paddock, and when one of the horses wanders over and asks to join up, I remember the place I from which I must write.
It is the heart—that intangible space of truth and clarity through which I share my experiences on what it’s really like to weave a tapestry of hope—from seeds to sprouts to flowers, along with the infinite possibilities that might be born from love.