November 20, 2019
Weather: It finally snowed enough to run the snow-blower around the base of the high tunnel, put the plow on the four-wheeler, and put studded tires on the car, but then icy rain arrived overnight and left an inch of ice on everything. Followed by warm (40 degree) weather that melted the snow and left only ice. Taking the dogs for a walk on the road went from a leisurely meditative activity to a high intensity, adrenaline rush. We risk our lives every step. And driving is hardcore! Temperatures are supposed to drop again in a few days and hopefully bring heavy snowfall so we can begin using our cross country skis. In the meantime, we have been staying warm and dry by the stove.
Books: Savanna and I decided to read the Chronicle of Narnia Series together and we are more than halfway done. I just finished Pico Iyer’s new book Autumn Light, which was a real delight, and am rereading Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. We read The Daily Stoic every morning aloud and contemplate the message throughout the day.
Writing: I recently submitted query letters to 8 literary agents seeking representation for my first book, and I have been working on the second book to keep from going insane with anxiety. I could not ask for a more supportive wife, she encourages me every day to pursue my writing and I do the same for her. Let’s just say, we both write as much as we can. Savanna in her journals and me in mine. We also have a shared journal that was a wedding gift from her mother, it has been a really fun collaborative activity.
Farming: We are talking and thinking about what we are going to plant next season inside and outside of the tunnel. Looking into creating a spreadsheet with succession planting schedules, and focusing on ways to save time and energy with certain tools and designs. We are also researching Care Farms and 501(c)3s, and what steps we need to take to become one. We are drinking smoothies with our berries, eating too many potatoes and jam, and kind of avoiding the pickled products and dehydrated veggies. But they’re in the pantry (under the sink) and provide a good sense of security.
Love: We are growing together spiritually by praying together and attending church services on Sundays. Finding a balance in silence and conversation, both deep and light. Neither one of us are ready to dive into a church and become a member, but it sure feels good to hear sermons and reflect on them during the week. As the days become weeks and weeks become months and hopefully months become years, we are learning to trust each other on deeper levels and discovering the needs of the other person really aren’t unattainable. We cuddle every morning and evening in our new wool bed (Home of Wool), hug and kiss and hold hands dozens of times throughout the day, and provide space for each other to talk about things that need to be discussed. We are becoming less and less defensive and reactive and more understanding and accepting of the other person’s emotional complexities.
Family: Savanna is officially a Stark! My brother is doing well in Anchorage with a few months of sobriety at a residential treatment facility. I am so proud of him! He was baptized the other day (I’m not baptized) and is really excited about pursuing a Christian life, going to college for social work, and helping other addicts. He has reconnected with his sons and is a role model for young folks in his treatment facility. He is writing a lot of letters and has decided to write a memoir. I am so proud of him! Both of our parents passed away, but they continue to live within. Savanna keeps in regular touch with her mother, father, step-mother, and 5 sisters. It is really impressive to see how well she keeps in touch with them all! All of whom live in Missouri! We are planning a ten day trip in January to visit them, and I can’t wait.
Sobriety: I heard somewhere that our addiction is constantly doing pushups, waiting for us to slip. And I do believe that addiction is a progressive disease that continues to get worse, never better. With that, I must work on my sobriety and recovery daily or risk falling victim to the strength of addiction. No thanks!!! So I started my day today with a gratitude text to a group of 4 guys who are also in recovery, dropping to my knees to pray, eating a healthy breakfast in silence then having a healthy discussion with my wonderful wife. I came to work and read about addiction online and watched an excellent video explaining the “whys” of addiction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1mjGLqLvxA I tried to attend a meeting but the doors weren’t open, so instead, I reached out to some people in recovery to talk about what’s going on with them. I drank a lot of water and spent time outside taking a nice walk in fresh air.
All in all, life in Happy Valley is going well. We are still working our 9-5 jobs as peer support specialists for people struggling with addictions for Ninilchik Traditional Council, and while it is not something I could do for a lifetime, (it is too emotionally draining, sedentary, and time consuming) I am honored and privileged to have a solid job with a great company that allows me to use my past to help others. Our dogs are happy and healthy, the cat is crazy and reckless (she burnt her paw on the stove), and the chickens have stopped laying.
Last night I fell asleep at 8:30, after two mornings of waking up at 3:30 and not being able to fall back asleep, and instead of laying there upset I stoke the fire and go upstairs to write; Savanna made us delicious vegetarian quesadillas for dinner, cleaned the kitchen and dishes, prepared oats for my breakfast, updated her journal, and wrote me a love letter to wake up to.
I am so thankful for my best friend and wife!