gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

All right folks, here comes probably my biggest announcement ever on this site.

Everything I’ve documented here at Gather&Grow during its three years of existence – permaculture design and education, learning and practicing urban homesteading skills, natural dyeing, launching a yarn line – are projects I’ve pursued on the side while maintaining a full-time day job as a university professor. I haven’t written much about said day job here, precisely because I wanted to preserve this space as an outlet for exploring my other passions. Some people might even have walked away with the impression that I spin yarn and grind acorns and study permaculture all day long, without having to worry about making a living… But the truth is that I’ve had to find the time to do all that while keeping up with a professional life that has, at times, been overwhelmingly demanding. It’s often been a struggle. (Picture me planting seedlings at midnight because I was doing 70+ hour work weeks and that was the only time I could find…)

…Which is why I’m stoked, and a little dizzy with excitement, to announce that I am taking the Leap. I’m quitting my job to pursue what I’m most passionate about – to work full-time for regenerating this Earth and its living systems. I’ve handed in my notice and wrap up my work responsibilities at the end of April. It’s official.

IMG_1741This is a transition that I’ve been quietly preparing for for a long time. Many, many months of discerning what it is that I’d most like to do to contribute to the solutions that I see as possible. Many, many months of getting over my fears of leaving a career I’d worked so hard towards, and of being self-employed (or unemployed, for that matter). Many, many months of saving money so that my husband and I would have enough of a nest egg that my leap wouldn’t spell a financial disaster for us.

(Of course, this decision has been partially motivated by different kinds of negativity around my soon-to-be former job. But I don’t feel the need to go into that here. Let’s just say that that job used to be my passion, and now it no longer is. And life is too short to spend your days doing something you’re not passionate about.)

So here we are. Many uncertainties remain, but I have no doubt that this is the right decision.

I’m saying yes to doing work that makes me come alive.

I’m saying yes to the possibility of a regenerative livelihood, a right livelihood.

I’m saying yes to a future that I want to see.

What’s next, you ask? Next month, I start a six-month advanced permaculture training called the Ecological Landscaper Immersion at the Permaculture Skills Center in California. Who would have thought that after 9 years in graduate school I’d be itching to get back to school…? But I’m as giddy as a first-grader: this program is exactly what I’ve been looking for. In ELI, I’ll be building some serious hands-on and design skills that will allow me to work in ecological landscaping and land restoration, whether on an urban backyard scale or broad-acre agriculture and land preservation scale, and in education and advocacy around these themes. My husband and daughter are joining along on this adventure. Northern California is where Dan and I first lived together as newlyweds and where I began my permaculture education, so it feels in many ways like a sweet homecoming.

And if you want to find out what happens after that… well, so do I, so follow along! Gather&Grow will continue to be the space where I’ll be journaling about this journey of taking my permaculture learning to a professional level and creating a regenerative livelihood. And this is where I will announce my Awesome Future Enterprise once it’s up and running… Ha! If you want to make sure you don’t miss that, sign up to get blog updates (if you haven’t already)!

And now… let’s get started.

10 thoughts on “Taking the leap

  1. Congratulations! What a big exciting change.

  2. betr2 says:

    Congratulations on this life changing moment! I wish you well in all your endeavours! I do have to, cheekily, mention that your line, “Some people might even have walked away with the impression that I spin yarn and grind acorns and study permaculture all day long, without having to worry about making a living…” has now come to fuition? Seriously, I will follow your future adventures with interest. Thank you for sharing! xx

    1. Mari says:

      Ha! Good point 🙂 Thank you for your good wishes!

  3. SoulEating says:

    I am so happy and proud of you for taking this huge step! This is inspirational and I hope to follow in your pioneering footsteps someday 🙂

  4. Wow, Congratulations! This is so exciting! What an amazing opportunity to spend 6 months at ELI! We’ll be following along!

  5. Congratulations! As a fellow academic (at the postdoc level), I have thought a lot about the time commitment of academia and it is one of the reasons why I am very hesitant to apply for faculty positions. I have managed to have a relatively sane schedule so far with plenty of time for my baby and various craft and sustainability projects, but it has definitely taken a toll on my research productivity. After much soul-searching, my husband and I decided to work towards being financial independent through minimal consumption, aggressive savings, and being content with an income much smaller than our current one. On the other hand, I will *not* miss the 30k/year spent on infant daycare!

    I wish you the best in this exciting transition and look forward to hearing about your experience with ELI!

    1. Mari says:

      Sounds like there are some remarkable parallels between our life’s paths! I love hearing about the direction you’re headed in, and certainly want to see some of those elements — minimal consumption, being content with less, saving — in my own future too. I’d love to exchange notes as our respective paths unfold.

  6. Sam says:

    Fantastic!! Congratulations! Can’t wait to hear about the adventures. And if you find yourself down in the San Diego County area feel free to come say hi!

  7. Recombinant DNA says:

    I’ve been following your blog on and off for a while, and just learned of your leap. Congratulations!! I am an academic trying to find balance between my many interests, and I am inspired by your sense of clarity and courage. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures and all the best!

    1. Mari says:

      Thank you! The adventures continue for sure, and there will be more leaps in the future! I know all about being an academic and trying to balance many interests… The choice I made won’t be the right one for everyone. But I definitely would encourage you to fiercely defend that space in your life in which you can explore your other interests and curiosities, anything that makes you feel more alive.

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