So Dina and I packed up the house in San Diego, consolidated our family treasures into a single storage unit, gave away everything else, and moved off into the world.
Dina took her kids in the minivan and road-tripped through California before flying off to Tuolumne, Mexico. I took my kids in the Corolla and drove north, into the mountains of Mendocino County, to a small organic family farm.
Bramble Mountain Farm is a 20-acre heirloom owned by a pair of good-humored lovebirds named Autumn and Craig. They built a charming strawbale house and birthed a son, who is now seven. Two other workers live on the farm full-time. Now that I’m here, our crew totals five adults and three children. We have several large gardens, an orchard of fruit trees, a tribe of chickens (and baby chicks!), a herd of goats (and baby goats!), a pack of dogs, an assortment of cats, a sweet little rabbit, and wildlife galore.
The beauty of the land defies description, so I’ll just add a few pictures to this post. Please note, however, that pictures do no real justice to the wild majesty of this mountain refuge.
Upon arrival, I set up a tee-pee tent. One week later, friends delivered an old travel trailer and set to work converting it into a solar-powered tiny house, fitted throughout with reclaimed redwood paneling and custom furniture. I followed up with art, tapestries, twinkly lights, and a mini-fridge.
Exiting mainstream modern society and moving onto a rugged rural farm is a Major Adjustment. For one thing, there is no reliable internet or cellphone service; I drive twenty minutes to the town of Willits in order to Facetime my parents. There are rattlesnakes, ticks, and mosquitos to contend with. Travel between the tiny house, outdoor kitchen, and outhouse involves multiple hilly hikes. The kids are covered in dirt and dust, almost all of the time.
But I am fully immersed in the real work of regenerative farming and community building. My little ones get to enjoy open-air, nature-based education with the support of progressive homeschool curriculum. I am learning about herbalism, permaculture, building, and animal husbandry. I pick wild arugula and stick it straight into my mouth, balancing its spice with a sweet cherry tomato, warm from the sun.
My belief—and now my personal experience—is that deeply connecting with Mother Earth is the simplest way to recover our senses after living in a society that systematically separates us. And, if we truly want to improve maternal mental health and end childhood trauma, moving away from broken, blocked, outdated, and oppressive institutions becomes an essential first step.
Times of tremendous uncertainty, overwhelming fear, and great loss require enormous courage, strong faith, and profound awareness. The maps of the previous generation do not apply in this landscape. We must dust off our inner compasses, and listen to the stars.