August

Oh, August. You are my least favorite month (though you do share that title with February). The only good thing that happens in August is my husband’s birthday, which is today, coincidentally. Happy birthday, lovely love!

But anyway, August. Hot, sweaty August. My garden looks droopy no matter how much water I put on it, and I feel the same way. August is the last real month of summer where I live, and it’s just a hot slog until September, which is glorious and definitely the best month of the year in Montana. Not only is it hot this month, but it’s so dry and the thunderstorms don’t drop any rain, just lightning, which triggers wild fires. And smoke. It actually hasn’t been a bad smoke year (yet) but it sure makes it hazy around here. The light even looks different as a filters through the smoke. Orange light. Which makes it feel hotter to me.

Cliffs

And it’s been a tough month so far, with working all the freakin’ time, trying not to freak out about our bottom line at work (a worry I think most small business owners carry with them like a badge most of the time), counting down the days until September, wondering what new adventure’s on the horizon (can you tell I feel like the days are just creeping by this time of year?).

So it was a big help to me today to read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers… about living like you’re dying (which we all are).

In the post, by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm (LOVE her blog), she notes: “To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else’s load, to create a smile where one didn’t exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?”

This is something I need to work on… lightening someone else’s load instead of adding to it. I mean, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. But sometimes, at the end of the day when I’ve been working for 10 hours and I just want to go home and eat dinner, I get tired of being nice and I just try to get through… not worrying about how I act might negatively affect people. But isn’t it so much better to be a light in the world? And I especially need to work on this where my family is concerned. It’s so easy to snap at my spouse, so easy to get short with my son. Why? Because they love me and of course they’ll forgive me. But they are the people to whom I should be the most kind… they are the ones whose smiles matter most to me!

Jenna also writes about the “Doacracy” in this country… if you want something, you just have to DO it. Don’t ask for permission, ignore what people are saying behind your back. I have dreams I am working toward, but lately they’ve felt so very far away, so unattainable. Again, I think it’s because it’s August… the interminable month of hot (can you tell I’m a cold-weather person?), but I am trying to step forward with renewed vigor, with verve, to seize what no one is going to hand to me. I am the only one who can make those dreams happen.

“This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren’t dying. It’s going to kill you if you don’t,” Jenna ends her post. Wow. Does that speak to you or what? Get going with your life!

Does anyone else ever get the feeling like you’re doing some weird voodoo mind meld with the rest of the planet? Or at least that specific blogger who wrote just what you needed to read today?

Sometimes life must be about the little victories, like adding just the right amount of cream to one’s coffee. Little victories are especially important in August. But sometimes life needs to have big victories. New opportunities, new friendships, new perspectives. Bring on the big victories, September. I am SO ready.

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Dream big

Sometimes you just have to change course.

Though in the case of my life, “sometimes” apparently means often.

Semantics.

Shortly after my son was born my husband and I (who were both in school AGAIN trying to get degrees in subjects that can actually get us jobs — random tangent: I was reading in my New Yorker magazine an article about Stanford and in the article a number of humanities professors were lamenting the fact that most students flock to the fields of engineering and business because they’re more concerned about making money than learning for learning’s sake. I have an English degree. My husband has a history degree. We both greatly enjoyed these subjects and we are both people who enjoy learning for learning’s sake. But we also enjoy being able to feed ourselves. If our society wants students to learn for learning’s sake, then it’s time to make it possible for history and English majors to get jobs that don’t involve the words, “Would you like fries with that?”) came to the conclusion that we needed to be done with school, degrees achieved or no, and have a steady income to provide for our child. We also decided that those jobs would need to be something we truly enjoy so we aren’t jumping from job to job, location to location as we had been for years. And if we couldn’t find jobs, what was stopping us from making them? So we sat down with a notebook and a pen and started dreaming. What did we dream about? A brewery and a farm.

Then we decided to make those dreams a reality.

So for months now, Shawn and I have been deep in planning to establish a brewery. We’ve got an entire shelf on the bookshelf full of brewing books and books about running a small business. Let me tell you, friends, who knew yeast could be so fascinating! We drafted a business plan, drew up a cash flow statement, got scads of quotes for everything from fermenters to hardwood floors, and even scaled back the dream in order to make it a reality. And we’re really lucky, too, that my father is acting as our patron to help us get started.

But those months of hard work (there is a reason few people start their own businesses… the paperwork alone is enough to scare anyone off) have paid off and we’re inching closer to achieving this thing we dared to imagine. We moved a few weeks ago to be closer to where we’re planning to open the brewery and to return to an area we love.

But why did we decide to start a brewery? Well, we both love beer, and isn’t that why breweries are started? Of course, there’s a whole lot more involved in running a brewery than drinking beer, but at the heart of it is helping people have a good time in each other’s company, and we love that we can facilitate that happiness. We also decided on a brewery because it’s something we’re good at, making beer. We just bottled a sweet stout that we working on perfecting and dang, it’s good. We also decided to start a brewery because Montana has a strong brewery culture and the area where we are now living has a lot of people who identify with that culture.

But what about the farm? Well, that part is a few years down the road. But the goal is to someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) grow our own hops, potentially barley (THAT is an involved process and I may leave it to the experts), and establish our own yeast colony or two. But come hell or high water, I will have that farm someday. In the meantime I’ll have a great garden, but the farm will come.

But truly the point of this post is this: Dream big. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you dream big, you can achieve those dreams with a little planning and a lot of work. And we know we have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in our future, but in the meantime, we have these dreams and they are sweet.