In Pursuit of Passion

Everywhere I turn, I see my generation as a collective, passionate people. We are passionate about photography. About music. About the perfect brew. Passionate about Uganda and sustainable agriculture and travel. Passionate about Red vs. Blue and the Blackhawks and skinny blue jeans.

But most of all, it seems, we are passionate about passion itself.

Growing up, us Millennials—the moniker given to my generation—feasted on a diet saturated in encouragement to “discover our true passions.” Whenever we asked “What should I do with my life?” our teachers and parents often advised us to “follow your passion” wherever that may lead. (1)

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed this Millennial-specific career advice working itself out in two distinct ways. On one hand, there is no shortage of twenty-somethings espousing unusually strong passions for everything and anything, from the grandiose to the mundane. People in this group tend to be the creative, artist-type. The entrepreneurs, using and exaggerating their passions to serve as a selling point for their wares, a raison d’être for their business and being.

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Becoming a Farmer


With all the formal introductions out of the way (see the first four posts), This Beautiful Life can finally move on to the dirty work of actually learning how to be a farmer. Admittedly, I’ve been busy with this task since early Spring but haven’t wanted to share until after first outlining the philosophy and vision for This Beautiful Life. Here’s a recap of the past few months’ farm-related endeavors:

  • Volunteered with the Green Earth Institute in Naperville with planting early-season seedlings.
  • Networked with a team of two Joliet gardeners who developed a gardening curriculum for youth and families. I completed the graphic design for the curriculum—a fun way to bridge two passions of mine.
  • Attended the Family Farmed Expo at University Illinois Chicago, Mid-March 2011 where at I participated in the lecture “So You Want to be a Farmer?” I left still wanting to be a farmer, which I take as a good sign.
  • Signed up to garden Plot #41 at the Wheaton Park District Garden Plots, Atten Park.
  • Plot #41 is the heart of my learning this summer, as it is the locale for my first efforts at growing food. In mid-April I dug up beds and sowed wheat, lettuce, onions, and broccoli.
  • Just as the first seeds were planted, other things in life distracted me. I learned that one rule of farming is it is near impossible to start dating someone during planting time and still get everything planted on schedule. Either the boy or the garden will suffer—or both. In my case, the garden experienced a bit of neglect.
  • Beginning of June saw my schedule lighten a bit and Plot #41 is back to being top-of-mind (thankfully, Plot #41 does not hold grudges). The wheat has taken off and is almost two feet high, already showing its kernels! The lettuce seeds sprouted into lettuce and broccoli plants are flourishing. The onion seeds ended up being a no-go (only one has sprouted into an onion plant) and so I’ve re-planted the space with carrots.
  • In addition to carrot seeds now in the ground, I have bean bushes planted and sprouting. Also sowed cucumber seeds between a handful of growing tomato plants provided by a friend.
  • And just TONIGHT, I harvested the first fruits of my labor—lettuce (pictured above)! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am a bit proud.



I Heart Jesus

I sincerely hope that this chronicle of my farming endeavors will interest a wide range of folks—people who may or may not believe or think the same things I do. The vision of This Beautiful Life, after all, is one of community. That being said, it’s always best to give context when sharing opinions and ideas in such a limiting medium like the Internet, especially when the topics at hand (food, farming, and faith as linked to community living) are ones intimately connected to individual beliefs and experiences.

At present, I am working as a graphic designer for the local park district while simultaneously running my own wedding photography business (Getting married? Hire me!). I live in a modest home (1920’s Chicago bungalow-style) with two other girls (both mid-twenties; one engaged, the other in a steady relationship) and my Great Pyrenees, Maggie. The town in which I live is often slated as a “wealthy, white, strongly evangelical suburb of Chicago,” but is in fact, a town presently undergoing enormous demographic changes with 1 in 3 individuals being a minority and growing numbers of individuals with a faith other than Christianity. And my own modest income puts me squarely below the poverty line, if you want to talk statistics. I’m just over 26.5 years old, very much a suburbanite, shop at J.Crew and Whole Foods, and love a good cup of Dean and Deluca coffee.

Politically, I identify myself as moderate, although I have conservative roots characterized by an ongoing adoration for George W. Bush. I grew up attending Lutheran churches, turned atheist in high school, and truly found Jesus (in what popular culture calls a “born-again” way) my freshman year of college in Boston. I ultimately graduated from a small, private Christian university in Illinois, and while I have lived in the west (Colorado), South (Alabama) and East (New Hampshire), I am a true Midwesterner at heart.

My passions stem from a deep-seated curiosity to know and to be known, with interests ranging from the history of marriage and gender studies to conflict-resolution in the Middle East. I test solidly as an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs personality assessment and really believe in the benefits of talking to a good therapist. My entertainment of choice tends toward films, not movies, or a good book on theology or art and India remains on the top of my dream-destination list.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the use of the fonts Zapfino and Papyrus. I find meat really gross, but eat it to be healthy. And I talk to my mom on the phone everyday.

And did I mention I heart Jesus?