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Ready for what's next?

I feel that we are all collectively waiting for the other foot to drop. When will this pandemic end? When will the economy bounce back? How have I managed for this long? When am I going to catch a break?

I think it's time to turn the page. For me at least. I have gotten to the end of my line with worrying about when something's going to give, and I am tired of feeling uncertain and anxious. My first step in this process is to get out of my head and get back to communicating with others, so here I am.

But, there is a caveat.

A part of what made me withdraw from virtual interaction is the insanity that social media has become. I really love the interaction and friendship and sharing of our lives, but I can't really handle the trolling or backhanded comments that seem to always happen. I have even participated in this at times, which is so bizarre considering my after-the-fact social anxiety. So, I have come to the conclusion that I would benefit from boundaries around how my social media interaction will work. The way I see it, this is my domain - my site, my social media accounts; whatever is attached to Kelly McFarland or R K McFarmland is mine. As such, I don't permit toxic behavior in my life. Like, ever, even though it can tear me up to not interact with a person. This standard means that in all these online places, behaviors like trolling, negative comments, or even teasing if I'm feeling sensitive, are not permitted. If I receive comments that don't pump me up and make me feel awesome, I aim to delete them and not think twice about it. I guess I feel better with this added boundary in place.

I need to be honest about where I'm at right now - in general, in life. I have come to realize that I'm a protective, fairly sensitive, sometimes overwhelmed, well meaning, and honest person who tries to live without hurting others while also trying to change systems to benefit everyone. I am an introvert who has huge jaunts of extroversion followed by wanting to crawl in a hole for six months. My battery is always at just one or two bars, but I love to act like I'm fully charged at all times. And that's me. And we all just have to be OK with who we are.

Our family has felt the struggle of the pandemic in many ways. Not only is there the loss of social interaction, loss of milestones, and added stress of the unknown, but this shaky economy is really taking its toll. I'll be honest and say that I need to figure out how to make food activism, local farming, and independent research help to pay the bills soon. I like to joke that I need an agent, but maybe I'm not joking so much. I need to organize myself and my business the way I do when I'm working for someone else, and stop being overwhelmed by trying to be perfect in everything.

So, what the heck have I been doing these past few years anyway? Seriously, where did the time go?!?

I know I was moving right along in the early stages of the pandemic, but then everything quickly became more and more of a struggle and before I knew it - BAM - I hit my breaking point. I was thinking of typing out all the happenings, but it can get long-winded, and surely there will be some things I focus on more later. But a list of accomplishments does seems in order. So, over these past few years, in no particular order, I have:

  • Designed and taught ANTH 4701.047 Anthropology of Food in the U.S. - a class about the U.S. food system which included a research project on student experiences with food access during the early stages of the pandemic. I would love to teach this course again some day, but think that it would work better for everyone as a three-hour class one time a week, as opposed to a one-hour class three times a week.

  • Taught ANTH 1010 and learned all about the challenges of being a professor. I won't be returning in the fall to teach classes like this, it completely redirects my focus away from food, but I have a newfound respect for the professors who do.

  • Attended local Farmers markets and other market events, became a vendor and sold my goods. I am going to try to continue to attend market events, although a weekly bake may one day replace these engagements.

  • Became a part-time baker for a short time, but I could not get my system worked out. I will be trying this again soon, after asking for some advice from some successful and well-organized friends.

  • Was a board member for Slow Food DFW, working on their Joy and Justice and Food equity initiatives and learning of other ways to support local food. I left the Slow Food DFW board last August.

  • Raised and cared for our animals, tended the garden, grew and sold local flowers, and otherwise engaged in the local food system. I still do, and it's hot out already. I'm learning what I can and can't keep up with and will take on more as I can manage to do it.

  • Developed a really big idea for a local business that collaborates with all the necessary institutions to build a regional food system. More on this one later for sure!

  • Learned to teach information in smaller, more bite-sized pieces. A big part of local support is finding a way to explain the value of a local food system and local economy to everyone in the community.

  • Crafted, learned many new ways of crafting and creating, and centered myself. I find myself thinking about the past and how crafting runs in my family often. And sometimes about the future, and how all of this works together for me.

  • Wanted to write but haven't. But have grown and learned and done the work in many, many ways. I just haven't had the ability to organize my thoughts. I'm hoping that this blog post will help with that.

I'm not the only one whose been busy. Rich is doing well, and the girls are busy as ever!

  • Rory is an honor student, learning to drive, and going to state UIL competitions for choir and percussion in a few weeks. Rory also acted in the One Act Play earlier this year and they made it all the way to regionals.

  • Fiona is an honor student, she just tested for the Gifted and Talented program, and she's as busy as ever! Fiona played basketball this spring and learned a lot, she wants to keep going and play more next year.

  • Stella is super excited about swim lessons and starting kindergarten this fall! She has also recently lost her first two teeth and has like 6 more wiggly ones!

I can't believe so much time has passed since I really focused on everything. I have a lot of ideas, big ideas with huge implications of the change that they can bring. Now I just need to figure out how to slow down and start to put these ideas into more digestible pieces.

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