Last week I interviewed for a job at a non-profit. Last year I promised I would never work in a non-profit again.
So why, you might ask, would I do this? Why would I go back on my word?
Well, to be honest I got scared. My partner and I are having a baby. We’re trying to grow and tend as much of our own food as we can. A raven was stealing all of our chicken eggs. Our goat got pink eye. Our incomes are sporadic and intimately tied up in doing what we love. We’re trying to pay the bills on time so we can keep the mortgage on our house. We feel weird about mortgages because it’s all stolen land anyways.
We are holding a lot.
So I got scared. I worried about how two people with small online businesses, two people who moonlight as farmers, could get the bills paid on time. How, I wondered, could we keep a grip on tenuous notions of success and security – always so tantalizingly dangled in front of our faces, just slightly out of reach?
How on earth could we do this without a stable income?
the first crop of garlic I ever planted, grew and harvested
I think it’s important for me to situate myself and my class experience as I talk about this. My family is comfortably middle class. They have access to things like inheritances, large settlements from car accidents, successful small business incomes and profits from selling homes in booming markets. Undeniably, their class privilege and their generosity, help me. It floats me so that I don’t ever go hungry. I was able to go to university with some financial assistance from my family. I don’t have as much debt as the average university student. Their class privilege has a positive impact on my ability to access security in the world.
And – their class privilege puts a certain pressure on me, because we have really different ideas of security. My mom believes in buying real estate – and why wouldn’t she? It’s a strategy that worked for her, even though the booming real estate market that helped her, is pushing out people like me and people with less access than me, from the city we grew up in and called home for generations. My Dad believes in investing. And tells me I should learn how to invest ethically. Personally I think this idea is bizarre, because I don’t think the capitalist system will last long enough for me to be managing any of the family investments. I also think that money making money off money for moneys sake is unethical, but hey, I still benefit from that cycle.
Though my parents are liberal and try their best to be non-judgemental and supportive, they often have attitudes that are shaming towards poor people, which they don’t recognize are in some ways shaming of me and my peers. I will add here that I am not poor, I’m temporarily broke. And I’m a millennial with student debt and very few job prospects. I’m not trapped in my class bracket the same way someone with generations of entrenched poverty is. Because of that it’s hard for my parents to understand me. What they each separately pay for their mortgage payments is more than I spend on my life. My entire life. And so while they’re saying, “you really need to finish your degree and get a better job so you can make those mortgage payments” I’m saying “you need to learn to grow food so you can feed yourself when it all collapses.”
behold: the absolutely absurd amount of squash we started this year
But clearly, when I applied for this job, I was listening to them. I was leaning into a scarcity mentality. Telling myself that I needed to apply for a non-profit job that would suck away my life energy so I could have a guaranteed income. Not enough to pay for my life, not even close, but it was something. This job became a beacon of security and possibility and a way to grip however tenuously at a notion of financial stability that was slipping through my finger tips, breeding dread and anxiety.
So I applied. I applied in earnest. I interviewed honestly. But I could feel in my gut that whether I got the job or not it wouldn’t make me feel better. I wanted the job for some security. But I also didn’t want it ..so I could keep showing up to my real work: farming, reading cards, making medicine and writing.
So I could do what I love with all of myself and not give myself away for a stable paycheque.
And when I got the rejection letter I felt a flood of emotions. I felt sadness and shame for being rejected. I felt a spike in my feelings of scarcity. I felt angry at myself for not being good enough. I heard my parents voices in my head telling me that I’m smart and I’m almost 30 and having a kid I should be able to take care of my own financial needs. Why oh why couldn’t I just get a real job?
one of my goats, Gertrude
So I walked away.
I walked away from the computer and I walked with my goats. I walked through the garden. I smelled the lilacs and gathered dandelion leaves for dinner. And when I came back to my desk I pulled a card. The 9 of pentacles. It’s been sitting on my desk ever since.
I had asked the cards, What should I lean into? It’s obvious, right? Lean into the abundance in front of me. Lean into the harvest. Stay home because I can’t pay for gas in my enormous farm truck. Stay home and mist the baby seedlings, growing slowly under the gifted, second-hand grow lights. Stay home and build the chicken zone up with scrap wood and thrown away bailing twine, so the raven doesn’t steal the eggs. Gather a dozen eggs a day. Eat hard boiled eggs every morning because that is all my partner can stomach and that is all we can afford.
Learn to ask for help and have the humility to receive it with grace and gratitude. Come to rely on others and commit to giving back when we’re able.
Mandrake is a magical fertility & money charm. It’s also used for sex magic and to relax sore muscles. I’ve been working with this herb to call in abundance since this past solstice. You can order this medicine from me here.
And in this way we are redefining abundance. Day by day. By all counts we are failing at capitalism, but we are thriving at life. And at love. We are learning skills every day by failing spectacularly at what our parents thrived at. And we are learning skills our parents never grew up with, because their parents left the farm in search of what they believed would be a better life. We are turning back time and reckoning the conflicts of our ancestors. We are building a chicken coop out of garbage and outsmarting a raven.
Which, let me tell you, is no small feat.
Ps: if you’d like to support my abundance financially, you can order medicine, poetry or a tarot card reading on my etsy.