Edited: this is the longest post I think I may ever write. Either get coffee or get out now! 😉
I will do my best to keep this short but. . .well. . .I’ve never really been the “short” kind of talker. Therefore, apologies in advance if this gets long. Or boring. I’m hoping neither but I suppose you’ll be the judge of that.
I guess I should start first with telling you who I am or why I’m starting this blog. I’ll certainly do that. But first, coffee. (You should get some too — this is already shaping up to be a long read!)
Okay, much better. I find that I do my best thinking when I have a cup of hot coffee in my hands. That might also be why I am always a jittery ball of nerves — caffeine has a tendency to do that when you drink as much as I do!
I guess I’ll start with who I am. . .my name is Aryn. I’m XX years old (you didn’t really think I would share that, did you?) and I’m a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, fierce football fan (only for my son’s football team, though) and many other things. I’m married to my love, Dan. He’s my love because no one else in this world can annoy me like he can. Yeah, I know, that’s totally backward. But, it works for us. Our best joint project to date has been our son, Tyler, who is (currently) 12 years old. Together, we are one crazy little family.
Next, I will tackle the question of Why this blog? To really get the true sense of why this blog, I need to give you some backstory. Insight into me, if you will.
Blogs aren’t a new thing to me. I’ve had a few blogs in the past and while they were fun or therapeutic for a little while, I would eventually move on to other things and my blogs would get buried and forgotten about. That’s why when I had the idea to start this blog, I quickly pushed it aside. Telling myself that “nah, it’ll just be like the others. You’ll dedicate some energy to it and then you’ll get busy with something else.” I told myself it was better to not start it than to start and eventually give up on it. That was two and a half years ago. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In fact, I often have these moments where I say to myself “that could be part of your blog”. Nevertheless, it’s taken me this long to take the plunge.
Now to actually answer the Why this blog? question. . .
The Frugal Virginia Farmhouse is essentially a culmination of 3 things that are either passionate topics or major themes in my life.
My Home (i.e. the Virginia Farmhouse part) – 2 1/2 years ago (see a connection there?) my husband and I made the decision to trade in our suburb living for a farmhouse in a small-ish but very close-knit rural-ish town (say “small-ish” and “rural-ish” because the secret of how awesome our town is seems to have gotten out and our town is growing by leaps and bounds — this does not please me) outside of Richmond, Virginia. After several years of searching for the “right” place, we finally found it. An old white farmhouse sitting on just over 6 acres with a beautiful (to us) red barn, a pond, the perfect spot for chickens and a huge garden, plenty of room for our son to run and play and it was perfect. All except for the house. Our house is one of those “she’s got good bones but she’s ugly as hell right now” kind of stories. Despite what the pictures might show (all sorts of house pictures coming soon!), she’s a mess. A hot mess, if you will. And we couldn’t wait to sign on the dotted line to make her ours. I’ll definitely write up a post about that!
My approach to spending (i.e. the Frugal part) – I’ve always been super thrifty. I’ve had blogs before on how to save money or make money stretch further or how to coupon, etc. I am one of those people who makes a game out of saving money and spending as little as possible. Drives my husband crazy but he also appreciates it at the same time. Over the years, he’s gotten a big kick out of my “guess how much I spent for this?” game. Okay, maybe it still drives him crazy but it saves money so . . . In all seriousness, it doesn’t matter whether it’s renovations to our house (and there have been a lot of those and MANY more to come!), clothes, groceries, home decor. . .whatever. . .I’m a penny pincher. I wish my savings account balance reflected that but there are just so many house projects to sink the savings back into! I promise to share all of my savings secrets (or maybe they aren’t secrets and I just live under a rock? We’ll see!) with you . . .whether you like it or not! 😉
My professional pursuits (i.e. the keeping a blog part) – In my day job, I’m a learning professional for a Fortune 500 financial institution. What is a learning professional? Well, I’m still learning (pun intended) what that means myself but I’ve held roles that have been centered around sharing information, content, and development with others. I’ve facilitated learning in a variety of different modalities. And. I. Love. It. Do I love my job? Most of the time, but not always. It’s not so much my job that I’m uber passionate about, it’s learning. It’s taking knowledge that I have and sharing it with others. It’s me learning from others (YES! Learning professionals learn too!). It’s bringing together communities of people and facilitating connections between them based around similar interests or goals. I love people. I just do. Put people and learning together and I’m like a pig in shit. Side note warning — my language is NOT always family friendly. I make no apologies for this after recent studies have shown that those who curse are more intelligent. I told my son about these recent discoveries and he replied ‘That makes you a freakin’ genius, then”. See, even he knows. How does this all relate to my blog? In my mind, that’s simple – I want to share with you what I know. I want to share my adventures. I even want to share my mistakes (because failure is a learning modality) with you. And I want to learn from YOU! If anyone is expecting my blog to be all a “here’s what you do and how you do it and ensure 100% success”, you won’t necessarily find that here all the time. I don’t have all the answers to what I do. I may have some, but I most certainly do not have them all. I will commit to posting about my mistakes and trials here. It’s my hope that by doing that, I can save others the time/energy/money of doing the same thing. While that may seem like a relatively “duh” concept, it has taken me a VERY long time to get comfortable with the fact that it’s okay for me to start this thing without being an “expert”.
With all that laid out, there’s one more question that’s ringing in my mind and it’s Why Now? If I’ve been thinking about starting this blog for over 2 1/2 years, why start it now?
That’s probably a less straightforward answer and one that involves the inspiration of someone else who might not know how much of an impact he’s had.
It was probably back in February of this year when I had the pleasure of meeting a colleague at work, we’ll call him SP, who has a passion around coaching and motivating others. Through a series of fortunate events, we ended up scheduling a meetup over coffee that involved each of us sharing what our true passions were and where we wanted to focus our attentions and efforts. He shared with me how he was in the beginning stages of building his own company around coaching and developing others. Of course, I connected to this right away — a kindred spirit! I shared with him how I have this somewhat undiscovered passion around sharing my experiences with living a more simplistic and less stressful life with others. Up until this point, I’ve pointed to frugality and renovating our farmhouse as pillars in my reasoning to start this blog, but it’s through on-going interactions with SP that I realized that it’s deeper than that for me. I have a desire for myself and others to find a more simplistic and less stressful lifestyle. To set themselves up in a way that allows for more self-sustainability (that doesn’t necessarily equate an off-grid lifestyle, btw!), less reliance on having to work in jobs/careers that they may not be entirely passionate about just to pay bills acquired under the guise of keeping up with neighbors or friends, more time with their families or to focus on what they want to focus on, and just less overall stress in life. It’s through my conversations with SP that I have come to realize that I am craving a life of “less”. Less stuff. Less stress. Less having to “work for the man” to pay bills for things that I just really don’t want or need. Less is more in many cases. At least the way I see it. If I can trade these areas where I want “less”, I hope to replace them with several cases of “more”: more time with my family, more satisfaction in where I spend my time, more self-reliance, more free time, more options for what I focus on, more relaxation. . . .
Sounds great, right? To me, it does. Sound easy? Not to me it doesn’t! This is where I make another plug for the fact that I do not have all the answers on how to achieve this. However, SP has encouraged (coached!) me to consider the fact that I don’t need to have all the answers. He has gently encouraged me to consider that perhaps this blog can be a first step and potential gateway on my path to getting where I want to go ultimately. That I can share what I know with others and hopefully they’ll share back. Together, it can be a community of learning. I don’t know if he remembers this chat but I certainly remember that with every step we took around that lake at work, it sunk in deeper and deeper that he might be onto something. That he was right. That I had to get out of my own way and stop letting fear and self-doubt be barriers for me. I was essentially serving my own worst enemy. But, it took awhile for me to get out of my own way and take the first step. It was during that walk with SP that he asked me to loop back around with him when I had my first post to share. Let’s just say the weather that day was hot.as.hell which signifies it was very firmly summertime here in Virginia. The weather outside my window right now is of a crisp Fall feel and there are leaves littering the ground. It’s taken me a while.
I recently learned that SP has been presented with an amazing opportunity to further pursue the passions that he shared with me and redirect his time and energy into building out his coaching business. While I’m bursting at the seams with excitement for him, I’m bummed that he may be leaving the company that we work for. I enjoy many of the interactions that I have with people at work but I’ve especially enjoyed the time that I’ve spent with SP. He has helped me to realize that fear can be a motivator but it can also be an inhibitor. Only I get to choose which way I utilize it. Not every step taken in a journey needs to be a huge one nor do they all have to be high-stakes. Find the small steps and the ones that you can take safely and take them all but don’t be afraid to try taking big steps or steps that have some risk attached every now and again. It’s those big steps with risks attached that generally have rewards on the other side.
SP, if you’re reading this – this may be a very small step but I took it because of you. It was your inspiration and coaching that set me up for it. It was your ask of accountability on my part that pushed me to make it happen. Even if it took me months to do it, here it is. Thank you for your part in helping me to believe that I could do it!
Okay, so what now? I will exercise mercy and bring this post to a close. I’m not 100% sure exactly what The Frugal Virginia Farmhouse will shape up to look like but that’s part of the fun — and part of what stresses me the hell out but I’m learning to be more flexible in that space. 😉 I guess we’ll just have to see. I don’t know if I’ll have a set frequency for when new posts will occur but I know right now, I have a ton of ideas floating around in my mind. I will do my best to get some of them out and into tangible form. And to make those tangible forms much, much shorter than this one!
Thank you for reading this far and Thank You for joining me on The Frugal Virginia Farmhouse journey!