Bio

It all started back in 1992 when my husband and I had an itch to get out of the city…so we did.  We literally jumped out of urban California with no preparation and no jobs.  We bought a fixer-upper (read: shack) on four acres in southwest Oregon.

I went to graduate school.  My husband started a woodcraft business.

 

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What we make in our home business

We were plunged into almost immediate poverty, a state that lasted the better part of ten years.

Why ten years?

We were desperate to keep our home woodcraft business afloat despite the hardships and financial uncertainty because we recognized that a home business was our ticket to freedom. If we could generate our income exclusively through working at home, then it meant we could sever all ties to an urban job and everything it implied: a long commute, a boss, the whole corporate environment.  It would also allow us to indulge in our dream of living a truly rural lifestyle far away from the city lights.

Being inexperienced in matters of business, we made unbelievable mistakes during this time.  Through sheer hard work, we learned the ropes and figured out not only the craft aspects of our trade (streamlining our techniques, etc.) but also the business part.

By this point our friends were beginning to move from amazement at our stupidity (for plunging into rural life with no income) to amazement at our resourcefulness (for stubbornly refusing to get a “real job”).  When we didn’t give up our home business, the amazement gradually turned to interest.

 

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In the year 2000, casting around for a way to generate some income to supplement our business, my husband suggested I try writing a series of newspaper columns concerning life on a homestead.

I thought it was a splendid idea.  Why not write about what I knew?  I wrote several columns and naïvely tried to peddle them to various newspapers.  Needless to say I was roundly ignored.

Still, the idea caught hold that people might like to read about our lifestyle – the depths of one’s ego never ceases to amaze me – and somehow the columns expanded into a book…a book about how we left the city and moved to the country, drolly titled Bear Poop and Applesauce (both of which we had in abundance on our property).

This was the start to my desire to be published.  I’d been writing on and off for years but had never gotten anything into print.  Upon writing Bear Poop, the wish to be a writer deepened. (Bear Poop is still an unpublished manuscript.)

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Life went on.  Slowly over the course of that decade and through the birth of our two daughters, we pulled ourselves up by every bootstrap possible until the business was capable of supporting our family.  It doesn’t support us in a state of luxury, you understand…except the luxury of no commute, no boss, and no corporate environment.

The desire for additional land took hold, and in 2003 we sold our beloved Oregon place.  Now we are pleased to call home a forty-acre farm in north Idaho, far away from the city lights.

One day in 2005 Countryside Magazine, to which we had subscribed for years, asked for reader feedback on their Question of the Month: What are the pleasures and pitfalls of a homestead business?  Well my goodness, if anyone could write knowledgably about that, I could.  I wrote a very long (6000 words) article that not only described what we did, but advice on how to go about starting a home craft business.  To my utter surprise they printed the entire thing along with four photos.  Wow.

It was my first published article, and it was a heady experience indeed.

I received many favorable comments from readers about this article, which gave me the chutzpah to call the editor and pitch the idea of a continuing series of columns on the subject of starting a home craft business.  The editor – an incredibly nice woman - agreed, and I’ve written for Countryside ever since.

Encouraged, I began writing magazine articles like crazy.  Not just for Countryside, but for a number of publications that specialized in the subjects I knew well – rural life, home craft businesses, book collecting, homeschooling.  I began to accrue what I call writing credits.

Meanwhile I was pursuing another subject of interest, that of simple living.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  I searched websites.  I scoured libraries.

By almost everyone’s definition, my husband and I were leading “simple lives.”  Here we were living in the country, growing or raising a portion of our own food, and line-drying our clothes (aren’t you impressed?).  Then why did almost every book I read on simple living leave me shaking my head?

According to the books in print, it seemed that unless you lived green, recycled with a vengeance bordering on the religious, got rid of your worldly possessions, and endorsed only one certain political viewpoint…then you weren’t living simply.  Simple as that.

The reason I shook my head over these conclusions is because, to me, that is not simple living.  That’s green living, or ascetic living, or political living…but not “simple” living.

I remember the very moment I concluded that I should write my own book about the subject.  It was early in the morning and I was trolling Amazon.com, looking (once again) for a book on simple living that would coincide with my own views.  Once again I grew frustrated that all books pointed in the same direction as mentioned above.  Was there nothing out there in print that reflected my beliefs?

It came over me like a thunderclap that I was just as qualified as anyone else to write that book.  Thus was born Life 101: 101 Lessons in Simple Living.*

 

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Okay, this is all very nice.  But what gives me the qualifications to write about simple living?

Well, admit it – there is no “degree” in Simplicity (yet).  Those who are self-proclaimed “experts” on the subject are those who have actually lived a simple life over an extended period of time.  You might call it a Practical Ph.D.  It is a refusal to accept society’s mandate to live a complex life.

 

I grant that our lifestyle is a little extreme according to most peoples’ definition of “simple living.”  Not everyone milks their own cows, has a home business, or teaches their kids themselves… though, I might add, we are not at all unusual among our neighbors.

There is nothing really remarkable about our life except that it’s simple.  We have no emotional drama with fighting spouses or out-of-control kids.  We try to be frugal and responsible.   Because of the decisions and choices we’ve made throughout our lives, we have achieved a level of stability that allows us to raise our children in a calm and peaceful home.

Today we do what I jokingly call the three H’s: homesteading, homeschooling, and home business-ing.  Can’t get much better – or simpler - than that.

 

I have an educational background in biology (B.A. U.C. Davis, Zoology; M.S. Southern Oregon University, Environmental Education).  I have extensive training in classical music and classical ballet.  My husband has a master’s degree in geology.  We have homeschooled our two daughters for the last seven years.

* In December 2007, Life 101 was purchased by the publisher Thomas Nelson.  In accordance with my editor’s wishes, the manuscript was expanded into 365 daily readings and renamed The Living More Simply Devotional.  Unfortunately in April 2008 I learned that Thomas Nelson is undergoing a financial and corporate restructuring and has released 350 of its contracted authors, myself included.

My agent and I regrouped and renamed the newly-expanded manuscript The Simplicity Primer.  She is currently submitting the manuscript to various publishers.

 

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