I explained all my fears about raising kids in Orange County, CA to them. The materialist culture, the pressure, the money, and on and on. The two men in suits nodded in agreement. Most of my business meetings pre-kids started like this. In the get-to-know-you part of the agenda I’d talk about being raised on a little hobby farm and wanting to leave the OC before I had kids. And now here we are, a couple years later, a one and a half year old in tow, and one on the way. Still in Orange County, CA.
At the end of that meeting, one of the men whom I respect greatly said this: “Don’t worry so much about where you live. You raise your kids in your backyard”.
While that didn’t completely squash my prejudices, it hit me like it needed to. He’s right, that we as parents raise our kids and showcase to them what being our version of human is. While I can argue about the pervasiveness of culture, we are where we are, and it’s been my attitude that needs to adjust, not our zip code.
So, that is one of the reasons I work so hard to garden. It’s one little thing I can do in our backyard (ok it’s really our front yard) that brings us down to earth. It’s one little thing I am so passionate about that goes beyond me. It’s an example I can set about dedication, perseverance, nature, food, health, selflessness, and so on. It’s about caring for something that can be inconvenient, but deeply rewarding.
It’s about loving the soil you stand in, now.
If you’re like me, and find yourself feeling less than in love with where you live, I have some tips. I work at these daily. I have found with 100% certainty that when I started gardening I felt a lot more content, because I was connecting with something that brought me joy and brought me back to the roots I have elsewhere. That effort is worth all the peace in my heart. It’s a lot easier than you think.
5 tips for loving where you live:
- Find a passion-based outlet
When you’re happy, it doesn’t matter where you are. With a hobby and outlet to do something you love, life gets a lot lighter. Gardening for me is a huge passion. I love the process, and I love that I found a way to make it happen right outside my door. It gives me a sense of purpose that is tied to my local environment and pushes me to seek out resources here locally. I now have a whole network of local garden lovers!
I also love cooking, reading, and being active, so find ways to do that too via cooking classes, finding a cool gym, etc.
- Find your people
There are people EVERYWHERE that share your passions. There will be other people who share your values, life-views, and lifestyle. Church, the coffee shop, social media, work, are all good places to connect with people and get a sense for who “gets you”. Don’t shy away from those people. Lean in to them! Make time for them! Let them breath life into your life.
One of my girlfriends and I used to say, “I want more life in my life!” and we meant that we need to do things with people that bring us up, not down. That excite us, inspire us, and help us feel like ourselves. Seek people out who need that too and SCHEDULE them into your days.
- Go to places that help you feel at-home and inspired
There are a few places here in Orange County that help me feel like I belong. The Ecology Center (their farm stand is amazing), any garden center, the Irvine farmer’s market, Centennial Farm, and my own backyard when my friends are in it. I seek out opportunities to visit these places, and to fill my own home up with loving energy.
- Create your you space
If you don’t feel at home in your actual home, it’s your fault. Sorry, but that’s the truth sister. Bring your design style into your home, build a garden outside, plant a ton of herbs in pots on your kitchen windowsill, paint something with a stencil – whatever it takes! I do not have that beautiful beachy California eclectic style that you want all So Cal houses to have, so my house is not all Cali chic cool. I have a photo of a Highlander bull in my living room. Deal with it.
- Keep the dream alive
So you want to leave someday? I get it. I DEEPLY get this down into the marrow of my bones. I have wide open spaces in my future, a place for my kids to run free and catch salamanders in a creek. I want something else, but the timing isn’t right for us. So for now, the only thing keeping me from loving this place, is me.
I keep my dreams alive with an entire Pinterest board of my “vision”. I have bookmarks in my Instagram and I meditate about my perfect life and home and town and place. My husband and I check out new cities and talk often about the ideal set up for us. When the time is right, it will happen. Our place will appear – even if that means it’s still right here in Orange County. Trust trust trust (yes, I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you).
Live your dream friends, no matter where you are, make it happen.