20 February, 2012


"[It's] true what the strategists say about hearts and minds - you have to win them both. 
We will change our ways significantly as a nation not when some laws tell us we have to... but when we want to."

By Barbara Kingsolver

Almost a year ago, my husband and I started talking about pursuing a very different kind of life.

I was a year into my thirties and he had one more to go. We recently celebrated our first child's first birthday. We lived in New York City and both had jobs with Big Titles at Important Theatre Companies (theatre with an "re", which is how you know it's legit). We had a throng of friends and colleagues with whom we brunched and had discussions about art and life. And paychecks sufficient enough to provide for a 2-bedroom apartment (with incredible landlords who baked us homemade cookies and Greek dishes), a superb and loving Montessori day care environment for our daughter (since we both had to bring home the bacon), and enough discretionary funds to dine out several times per week, take in the occasional movie at $13.50 each, and even splurge for a taxi once in a while.

Becoming a mother was something of a paradigm shift for me. I remember vivid moments of recognizing true animal instincts within myself when I felt my daughter needed protecting. My months of reading about the wonders of breast-feeding left me searching for more information about how to provide the best solid foods for my baby once that transition was upon us - and that led to eye-opening (and somewhat frightening) documentaries like Food, Inc. And though I'm not sure I could honestly claim that Food, Inc. was the catalyst, my husband and I began to fall into a documentary rabbit hole with stops at the doors of No Impact Man, Waiting for Superman, and Blind Spot... spilling us out on the other side of the looking glass, and leaving us spinning with dozens of questions about what kind of world our daughter would live in when she was in her thirties.

These concerns about food production, environmental impact, educational deficiencies, and oil dependency drove us to months of reading everything we could get our hands on, (including possibly biting off more than we could chew with an abundant Amazon book order) so that we could prepare ourselves - as individuals, as a couple, as parents - for an unpredictable future. We were starting to firmly believe that "the next twenty years are going to look very different than the last twenty" and we knew deep down that we would soon be making big changes.

One of the pillars of our many life-altering discussions was the clear desire to live closer to family, particularly our parents. In the summer, we came to the decision that, when the time felt right, we would move to the Northern Maryland town where my husband grew up... infinitely closer to his parents and other family members, and a few hours closer to mine in Ohio. Yes, this would be a culture shift - a big change from our life as New Yorkers for the previous decade - but we felt it was important, necessary even. So with several months of planning, saving, finally resigning from our Big Title jobs, and saying our goodbyes to dear friends - we made the move just one week ago and we are now embarking on what promises to be a fascinating journey. Learning how to grow our own food, to be more self-sufficient, will be among the very first steps. 

In my last week at the Important Theatre Company, a friend and co-worker of mine landed a job working for the Obama campaign. I remarked to her that our departing emails would be so different, hers reading something like, "Amy is leaving us to work for the President of the United States!" and mine somewhere along the lines of, "Rachel is going to - um - grow potatoes."

Another colleague of mine came up to me: You aren't really going to go grow potatoes, are you? Because if you are, we need to talk. I believe she meant well by that comment. I do. Possibly she was eluding to my excellent skills in administration and management. At the time, I shrugged in response, but my heart's answer feels clear to me now: Yes, I am. I am going to go grow potatoes.

For all the delicious-sounding recipes found in this book, check out AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.


  1. This is amazing, exactly how I want to live my life! Paul and I also got sucked into documentaries, every single one we could find on Netflix instant play. Paul says you're awesome by the way, he was pretty excited about the potatoes!

    1. Thanks, Noelle! I feel the same when I read your blog - you and Paul seem to find such joy in life, while pursuing the things that really are important :)

      I can't wait to meet Paul someday. I think he's pretty cool, too.

      Love you!

  2. Congrats on the big change! Does that mean we're neighbors now? (Relative too the Big City)

    1. Thanks, Kim! We're in Westminster, MD. I don't know many people here yet... so I do hope we're neighbors!

  3. What an exciting time! I hope your transition goes smoothly and that you have a terrific experience with your gardening this year.

    1. Thanks, Joy! We're really looking forward to it.

  4. I'm always so proud of you whether it's managing a big theatre in the "Big City" or growing potatoes in the country... because everything you do, you put your heart and soul into it. Continue to follow your heart and God will lead you where you need to be. Know that he will always provide you with the strength and grace (and he has already literally provided you with a wonderful GRACE to last a life time)so you can grow and share his love and goodness with everyone you meet along your journey. Can't wait to see you all soon ... xoxo Love, mom