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lost in the countryside

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From reading my blog and looking at the photos one may get the impression that life here is all happy and cheery - that we are living in a state of bliss, every day a new and wondrous happening.

Not so. In fact, I have gained a bit of weight since getting here (I am not allowed to mention if Tomoe has or not). While it is true that every day has its amazing moments, I also can not remember feeling so much stress.

Part of this is about finances of course. We are on our own here, responsible to creating our own work. Even if we want to go back to the stress-free (at least that's how it seems now) life of an employee, there is not an employer to be found in the village. No, whatever happens, we have to make it happen ourselves. We are fine for a little while, but just getting out of Tokyo was a drain on my bank account, causing much more anxiety than I know it should.

Part of the stress is just having an enormous to-do list. This is nothing new - I have always had too many things to do and too little time, but the difference now is that almost everything on the to-do list is something new for us. Whether it is trying to plan an event in a town we only just moved to eight months ago, or trying to grow rice shoots in a non-conventional way, and having all the neighbors (with full support) tell us "It's not going to grow".

We don't know what to plant where or when. Our neighbors have started planting sprouts that they made in their greenhouse, but have no greenhouse, and we are starting from seeds. Our neighbors use plastic black sheets, while we are using grass, straw, leaves, and other mulch gathered from the mountains. Our neighbors use chemical fertilizers while we are planning to use Tomoe's home-grown organic version. We have no one to look at and learn from in these respects, yet we find ourselves looking around and judging our success based on the size of our beans compared to Shimada's

All this anxiety and stress and just plain not knowing what to do is creating a fierce feedback loop. We wake up filled with doubts and it makes us want to stay in bed. We stay in bed and miss our chance for a morning jog. Knowing that we need more exercise, but were too lazy to do it leads to more anxiety about not "getting done what we want to get done". More anxiety causes us to panic, narrowing our view and decreasing our creativeness. A lack of creativeness magnifies all the problems we are facing for the first time with no answers. Not being able to find an answer decreases our confidence and causes us to procrastinate or "research more". Procrastination means we get little done and we go to bed feeling like losers, and then it starts all over again.

We talked a lot today about how to break out of this. We have decided on two courses of action for tomorrow. 1) We will make sure to get up at 5am for a jog or power-walk into the mountains. Not only will the exercise do wonders, but it will allow me to cross one thing off my to-do list and start the day on a good note. 2) We will take a pile of garbage to the local dump. Something so simple, yet that pile has been sitting there for months as we always felt it would be more productive to work on OneLife, or farming, or something more immediate. The hope is that by picking such an easy task, and one that causes me anxiety every time I see the pile still sitting there, we can knock one more thing off of our to-do list, and there is little anxiety about failure, because we KNOW how to drive to the dump, and the result is immediate.

I'm also going back to the "positivity journal" I used to keep - where I take time each day to write down three good things that happened that day, tracking my negative thoughts and anxieties and consciously asking myself if the outcome of failure would really be as bad as all that, and finally, trying to force myself to take a few moments to imagine the life that I want.

This all helped me get out of Tokyo. The problem I think, is that I somewhat looked at simply getting out here to a place we love as "success", "the end" - and somehow forgot that I still have 60 more years left to live.

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Comments

Hang in there buddy.

Cheers,

ken

It's still early days for you guys, you'll figure it out. Life's a marathon, not a sprint. Fortunately!

Maybe we just all need an official "Spring clean" day? Not just for houses, but our lives too. A day that we put the winter blues behind us and get on with things that we've been putting off.

"Life is a journey, not a destination". I think someone famous said that. Or I read it in a comic.

Hi Kevin

I don't know about the other things in your life, but its early days for your veggies and I'm sure they will grow! I'd imagine that its still pretty cold over your way at night, so don't be surprised if they still look small compared to ones from a heated greenhouse or grown in warmer climes. A lot of plants really take off once tsuyu comes. All you have to worry about is your drainage, esp if you're on an old paddy. With some plants like pumpkin, you'll be cursing how big they get! I did a simple no-dig sheet mulch last year with very little attention and everything grew fine. My broccoli and cabbage were munched down to the veins in the leaves in spring, but come autumn, they were huge. With you saying the summers are hot in Sakae, I can see you getting a lot of produce.

Of course in a bad year, everyone can get wiped out. Its just one of those things you have to accept.

We've moved into our new place, but its still not finished and the site as a whole is a mess. As future plans, I've got so many things I want to do. Some of them, like establishing up a big forest garden, are going to take ten years plus. If I plant a sugar maple or one the Japanese equivalents (CW Nicol recommends urihadekaede) I mightn't live long enough to see much of the syrup! That's still kind of cool though. Someone or something will enjoy it, no doubt.

On the whole, it sounds like you've got a bit of information overload, but if you want some organic gardening advice that's Nagano specific, the best source I've found is here.

http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%AF%92%E5%9C%B0%E3%81%AE%E8%87%AA%E7%B5%A6%E8%8F%9C%E5%9C%9212%E3%82%AB%E6%9C%88%E2%80%95%E5%B9%B4%E9%96%93%E5%88%87%E3%82%89%E3%81%95%E3%81%9A%E5%8F%8E%E7%A9%AB%E3%81%97%E3%80%81%E3%81%8A%E3%81%84%E3%81%97%E3%81%8F%E5%8A%A0%E5%B7%A5%E8%B2%AF%E8%94%B5%E3%81%99%E3%82%8B-%E7%B4%B0%E4%BA%95-%E5%8D%83%E9%87%8D%E5%AD%90/dp/4540982400

The author practises very sustainable full organics in Chino near Yatsugatake. Its about 1000m asl, so it'll be cold, though not so much snow. The book is in diary form, so it tells you what you can plant when here in Nagano. She's hardcore into composting and natural soil building and sounds like she's pulling loads off a small plot. I originally found the book in Omachi library, so it might be in your local one too. You can also get it much cheaper as an ebook.

Hi Stew,

Thanks for the reality check.

The book you mention is actually where we are getting a lot of our info from. I know that everything will turn out OK, but for some reason I like to worry a lot.

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