Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah!

What started as a dream in 2018 when I first purchased land in the Slocan Valley has become a reality and we are now living in our beautiful Nomad Micro Home. The amazing Sustainable Roots Contracting team, led by Jessie Novak, did a fabulous job constructing the main home and detached rental. We came up with some ideas to put our own stamp on the original design and the end results are glorious – we could not be more pleased!

Jessie Novak and his team heading out on the last official day of the build
Jessie and his crew heading out on the last day of the build

From my last post about poop in … wow, July 2020 … to now – we’ve been very busy, and we have just received our final occupancy, so we are in! What an epic journey, not only with the project but with life in general … The pandemic certainly has disrupted many of our lives on so many levels and it can be hard to keep from feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the uncertainty of it all. Having this project has been a blessing (and, ok, sometimes a curse!) in that it has kept me focused and in the moment. The Tarot card II Pentacles pretty much says it all. This card reminds us to be patient, flexible and adaptable as we try to juggle our responsibilities.

I also love the Stoic quote below, I think it’s a good reminder for us all.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately” Seneca

My biggest learnings from tackling a building project are that construction loans are not what they appear to be (don’t be tempted to get one unless you have a bank account full of money); everything will take 2 or 3 times longer than you expect and be more expensive (especially during a pandemic – plywood went up in cost by 3 times!); and you need to be flexible and adaptable. I wrote about the importance of maintaining flexibility and being adaptable quite some time ago. We’ve certainly had to be very adaptable and ready to make quick decisions, particularly over the past 10 months.

Everything happens for a reason and in it’s own time and while we were supposed to be moved in to our home in the fall, I’m glad that we ended up moving in in the winter as it is forcing us to take a breather and to rest. There will be a lot of work to do on the property in the spring and summer but for now I’m focusing on getting back to some sorely missed disciplines and practices – namely, meditation, yoga, Tarot and numerology.

I’m also looking forward to writing more regular posts! My next one will be about our beautiful little vacation rental that we call The Nest!

Adapting to the new norm

In my last post I shared thoughts on how being adaptable can help us to navigate through stressful times and how learning to be ok with change can help us to be calm and respond to situations despite the fear or uncertainty that we may feel. To seek out solutions instead of focusing on what is wrong.  We may even find that we learn how to thrive during times such as these.

The way that we carry out almost every activity in our daily life has changed in such a short period of time, and just the other day I encountered a new one. Our bank appraiser came by the property to asses the progress made on our home in order that funds from my construction loan may be released to me. He let us know ahead of time that because of the COVID-19 situation, he is only permitted to perform drive-by viewings from the road, he can’t actually drive or step onto the property.

When he arrived, we spoke to him from across the road and he instructed us on what photographs he’d need to see in order for him to complete his report. Below are some of the photos we took and you’ll see a lot of work has taken place in the past month. The siding is completed, the windows are in, the roof on and soffits installed. Last week the electricians made a lot of progress and this week I believe the plumber is coming in. Then begins the fun stuff like drywall!

Adaptability and embracing change has been my friend throughout the length of this project and we still have several months to go. So many delays and moving timelines to manage along with the tedious and often stressful task of juggling finances. The money aspect is one which has forced us to re-evaluate the original plan again and again … and yet again. Sure there is stress within this process and yes I have shed tears of frustration at times wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. However I truly believe that with each requirement to change we have come to the most incredible way forward and I don’t think we would have got here without everything “negative” and “challenging” that has happened along the way!

We are very fortunate to have a property outside the ALC which allows us to be creative and to play with lots of different possibilities. The part of the property that is down the hill and through the cedar forest from where we are building the Nomads is a big beautiful open field. Some of our ideas have been to find a partner to build a boutique micro-brewery. Another was to build a really cool house on stilts like the Sol-Duc. We also thought about building several live/work studio homes for people in the area, or a business centre for the local community.

And then… COVID-19 came along and here we now are at the end of March in a Brave New World, the strangest of days. So within a few weeks and with all the uncertainty surrounding everyone and everything, all of the plans that we had considered got thrown out the window and we had to re-evaluate our plan.

One morning, about a week ago, while I was doing my idea machine “workout” I had the seed of a thought which, while later brainstorming it with Steve, germinated into something fabulous – the idea to marry my love of tiny homes with my interest in permaculture gardening together to build something for ourselves and for the greater community. The plan to invite between 3 – 5 experienced permaculture designers/ farmers who will park their own off-grid tiny home on wheels on our property began coming together.

lower field

Then the question became… how? How do we reach out to find these people? Where to begin? Well, about a year ago I had joined the Young Agrarians organization and while I hadn’t been actively participating I did remember that they have a B.C. Land Matching Program so I started by reaching out to them. The other part of this plan involved reaching out to ReWild Homes, a builder of tiny home on wheels located on Vancouver Island. They have a resources page which includes a lands listing for tiny home owners to find a place to park their homes. I’ve connected with two amazing human beings who are helping me to make this dream a reality!

The vision and plan is to bring like minded people together to build a model or blueprint for sustainable living. We must change the way we live, it has become so apparent in these last few months that we must not, for the sake of this planet, continue being consumer focused and that we need to take control of our local food sources – to become more self sufficient.

We human beings are only stewards of this land, we don’t “own” it, we are only temporarily taking care of it for the next generation as well as for all of the creatures great and and small that share the land with us. It’s shocking – in a horrible but also good way – to see the beneficial affects of the slow down of industry is having on our planet. Blue skies and clear waters in places around the globe where this hasn’t been the case for as long as local residents can remember.

I believe it behoves us to take this global life altering situation that we’ve found ourselves in and make a change for the better – however that might look for you. To go back to the way things were just doesn’t, in my mind, seem to be an option! If you were to change just one thing, what would it be?

I’ll get off my soap box now but leave you this a final note: if you, or someone you know, is a farmer (particularly versed in permaculture) who wants to participate in realizing this vision I have for our Winlaw property, you will share in the harvest, sell at an onsite weekly market and have the opportunity to run workshops and lectures on the property to demonstrate the value and importance of permaculture gardening. If you are interested in participating in any way with this project please feel free to reach out, send me an email at info@ravensperch.co.

On being adaptable

We humans are experiencing a very strange time right now and I think we can all agree that this event will have everlasting ramifications on almost every aspect of our lives.  I believe that some of the changes will be very positive and some perhaps not so much – time will tell.  

In light of this reality we find ourselves in it makes me contemplate how we must now, more than ever, learn to be adaptable and cultivate the ability to go with the flow and change quickly. Adaptability to change is going to be a very useful skill to have and there are a lot of really great books out there that offer up tools on how to achieve this skill. One that I’ve got on my “to read” list is AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For.   

I have a sense that there are business owners of all descriptions who at some stage during this challenging time may make the call to adjust their whole way of doing business or perhaps even make the jump to a new career based on new arising societal changes.  

Change is inevitable, the only constant in this life, this world, is change. Every breath we take we are a different person and the more we accept and surrender to this fact the less stress, anxiety and fear we will have.  When we accept that change is inevitable we can more easily respond to challenges with clarity of thought. 

As you know I have a great interested in numerology and astrology – I’m also fascinated by personality tests such as Myers Briggs and Insights. Because of these interests, and with respect to all that is going on right now I have a) a pretty good sense of my self and what makes me tick and b) an awareness of others and what makes them tick.  

Because of my personality “type” I know that for the most part, I find change stimulating. Also the idea of being in a room full of people brainstorming and coming up with ideas and solutions to a problem is an exciting prospect for me.  On the flip side, I know that spending long periods of time focusing on detailed work isn’t exactly a stimulating prospect … I can do the detailed work if need be but only for short periods of time.

The person on the complete opposite spectrum to me would want to take time on their own to analyze the details and research all the options in depth. This person would not be comfortable with having to make split decisions and would find being pushed to make quick changes disconcerting and stressful.

With this current situation pushing people into potentially very uncomfortable places it is interesting to see the different ways in which we respond/react. Will we struggle more or will be struggle less, will we look at it as an opportunity to shake things up, will we see things in a positive light and seek solutions or will be focus on the negative and only see the problems?

Surrendering to changing situations can help manage those stressful anxious feelings that can sometimes overwhelm us. If you’re someone who typically struggles with change but would like to become more adaptable to help cope, you could try making some small changes in your day-to-day life. For instance, if you always walk or drive to work/ grocery store/ rec centre/ friends house the same way each time, maybe try taking a different route from time to time. If your immediate response to a suggestion from friend, manager, partner is “no” or “I don’t think so”, maybe try saying “yes” or at least “I’ll think about it”. Look for circumstances in your life where your go to response would typically be to dig heels in and switch it around. You might surprise yourself and you may find that you become more willing and accepting of changes than inevitable come your way. In stressful and challenging times becoming a little less stuck in usual patterns can help us to see beyond our fears.

Those are just some thoughts that have been swimming around in my brain while being essentially house bound. In my next post I’ll be sharing my journey through adaptability with respect to property development.

I hope everyone out there is doing well and taking care of yourself and loved ones (human and furry).

NOTE: The example that I presented above with respect to personality types is a generalization of only two types. It is important to never pigeon hole anyone based on personality tests… they’re just tools to help us better understand our self and others … and ultimately to best serve our self and others with more understanding and compassion.