Soldiering On!

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion for The Mountain Farmgirl. This grounded, ‘usually rock-solid’ gal went  into a Tizzy of Great Proportions this week … which temporarily up heaved her stable and previously purposed  life. Join the Mountain Farmgirl as she tells you what rocked her boat and shook her foundation, and how she got back on course …

How we handle disappointments tells a lot about a person, doesn’t it? While it’s only natural and healthy to try to avoid them at all costs, disappointments are a part of life, and actually (if we’re lucky), we’ll have plenty of time to rack up a bunch of them before our days are over! The trick is to learn how to deal with our disappointments in healthy and positive ways, because eluding them altogether is nigh on impossible. Nevertheless, I’m still reeling from a whopper of a blow this week and while I dealt with it rather gracefully and matter-of-factly at the time (or so I thought), it is dawning on me that I have a bit of emotional work left to do before I can let this one go!

Obviously, there’s some background necessary to set the stage to my story … It involves my love of nature, the mountains and living the simple life … threads that have been tightly woven in the fabric of my life since I was a little girl. They grew stronger when I met my husband in high school, and in the last 40 years together they have solidified into a very interesting lifestyle. (You can read about some of our adventures together on my website, , so I won’t bore you here with a repetition). Anyway, our years as mountain innkeepers have complicated the ‘simplicity factor’ a bit, but our little log cabin getaway up on the mountain has kept the embers of the ‘simple’ lifestyle alive … (and the coals they are a-glowing!). The Tiny House, which arrived at our Lodge in July, has fanned these flames considerably, and it's presence has inspired me to write about my current one-year simple living experiment called the “Year of Living Frugally”.

A few weeks ago, at the suggestion of my best friend who recommended it highly, we started watching Ken Burns’ National Parks DVD series. What a magnificent country we live in! It re-introduced me to my old ‘friend’ John Muir, but in a totally new way: NOT as the rough and scruffy, white

bearded old man I’ve been reading about for years, but as a 24-year old Scottish outdoor adventurer and poet, who changed the way we think and feel about nature! This got me reading a lot lately, too … getting back in touch with the good works and the nature writings of my ‘old friends’ John Muir, John Burroughs, Henry David Thoreau, Ernest Thompson Seton, Louise Dickinson Rich and the like. Reading them has given me the desire to get back to the wilds myself, and I’ve been craving the outdoors like never before.   

And so my recent emotional  'adventure' all began with one tiny notice in the newspaper. It was the announcement of an upcoming land-foreclosure auction and it sent me into the woods, map in hand, in search of this 2-acre parcel of land, It  turned out to be located not more than a mile from my very own log cabin. Walking its metes and bounds, I discovered it to be the most stunningly beautiful piece of property I have ever seen in my life ... or could ever hope to find if I live to be 100. I approached the property via a long, private country lane, a remote and romantic prelude to what I would soon discover at its wooded conclusion. This exquisite property, suddenly now ‘my property’ (at least in my heart), was completely surrounded by National Forest on three sides, and was bordered by a beautiful Cross-Country ski trail on the other. The scene to the west revealed a spectacular view of my beloved White Mountains. A magnificent brook (almost a small river after the recent rains) flowed through the mixed virgin forest, where on one corner was what can be only described as a ‘hemlock cathedral’ … a hushed and holy place of stately trees, a ‘church’ of nature untouched by human hands and commanding as much Reverence. I was awed by this land, knowing full-well I would trade in a heartbeat everything I owned -- for this little piece of heaven!

I was suddenly reminded of the classic cult film “The Gods Must Be Crazy”, in which a Coke bottle, carelessly tossed by a bush pilot from the cockpit of his plane, is discovered by a tribe of peaceful pygmies in the Kalahari. This “thing” (the bottle) which no one had ever seen before, instantly became an object of such great importance, that suddenly no one could do without it. Similarly, in the blink of an eye, this piece of property in such close proximity to my own treasured one, suddenly became the apple of my eye and my one true heart’s desire. My log cabin homestead on the mountain, which meant everything to me up until this very moment, suddenly paled in comparison, or so I suddenly thought. Was I so fickle a person that I could be swayed so drastically and completely on such a whim? Apparently so … ouch! How little we sometime know ourselves; what slaves we can be to our desires. The fact was, I wanted this property SO badly I could taste it. More importantly, however, I had very little  money set aside to invest in it, no matter how beautiful it might be. It was an emotionally charged, passionate dilemma which woke me up that night practically hyperventilating from the stress of wanting ‘the impossible’.

I spent a day sifting through maps at our town clerk’s office, and then studying records at the County Courthouse, locating  deeds, mortgages and any possible liens; in short, doing my own little title search. It was discouraging to discover the large mortgage that the bank would most likely need to recover for it at the upcoming auction. But I’m here to tell you never to give up hope in any situation, no matter what you may seem to be up against on the surface.  If something is meant to be, it will happen for you despite quite impossible odds … doors will open as if by magic. On the other hand, if it isn’t in the cards, no matter how much you hope, pray, pull strings or ‘work’ the situation, it is not going to happen no matter what. My strategy has always been to work at something like there’s no tomorrow, and then turn it all over to God, who infinitely knows better than I what is ultimately the best thing for me. And that’s what I did.

Well, auction day dawned last week dark and gloomy, as a cold rain showered on ‘my’ would-be property, and most likely also on my dream there as well. Dana and I made our way to the site with baited breath, not knowing whether 100 folks might be there to bid or whether we would be the only ones. As it turned out, there was only the bank’s attorney, a couple who came to watch, and us. This was GREAT; I really had a chance! And then practically seconds before the auction began, my heart sank as a man stepped out of a parked car. It was someone I recognized, a successful local realtor, and this was not a good omen. The bidding began, and we went slightly higher than I could safely go, but the truth is that I would have paid just about ANYTHING if I could legally have done so, as this was a place that transcended price.  Suddenly, nothing else  mattered … I just wanted to spend the rest of my life in this wild and holy spot, writing and studying nature. Everything about it felt just right.

When I said before that you should never give up hope, no matter what, did you think that my story would have a happy ending, and that I walked home last Thursday with the deed to “my” new land? Well, this is certainly great advice, and I stick to it heartily, but real life doesn’t always hand us what we think we want! The advice is just as valid (maybe more so) when the story doesn’t end as we had hoped. The truth is that the real estate agent wanted that property as much as I did (but for a totally different reason, to make a profit) and he had plenty of funds to back him up, where I did not. Fortunately, we stayed rational, and never went beyond the ultimate limit we had given ourselves, and in the end, the agent got the land … my land! It was all over within minutes without any fanfare, “Sold! To “Gentleman Number 2”. The gavel sounded so final, and it was over and done with, and my new hopes and dreams along with it. I was crushed in one sense, but intellectually knew that there had been little chance from the get-go.  Still, it was a once-in-a-lifetime find … if I had never gone to the auction, I would have ALWAYS regretted it, with that nagging sense of ‘What if ….” 


And so, life goes on … a good life at that. No, a wonderful life! A little voice in my head whispered, “Get over it Farmgirl … carry on … there is work to be done!"    We Farmgirls are no strangers to disappointments, are we? Life may be grand most of the time, but things don’t always go the way we want. Our gardens sometimes fail from too much or too little rainfall; our children sometimes get really sick; the job we were counting on doesn’t come through … there are as many disappointments in the world as there are people. I went home that day, crushed of course, but actually coping pretty well. I was reminded of a mug I saw in a local shop that my sister and I saw during her last visit. The quote on it read:

“Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, hard work or disappointment.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

A favorite sign that hangs in my office.

It calms me each time I read it, and I try to incorporate its message into my being, though I admit I am a work in progress!  I also like to look at this treasured painting my father gave to me about 40 years ago. We both shared a loved of the outdoors, and looking at this special glade and imagining myself sitting there, all happy and content,  gives me peace of mind.

Reading “Who Owns the Mountains”, an essay by Henry VanDyke, gave me some further insight into my disappointment of losing out on “my land”. VanDyke poses the question:

What IS property, after all? The law says there are two kinds, real and personal. But it seems to me that the only real property is that which is truly  personal, that which we take into our inner life and make our own forever, by understanding, and admiration and sympathy and love.  This is the only kind of possession that is worth anything.”

I was richer having read that; richer for knowing and understanding it, richer certainly for not having had to pay out the money at the auction for the land, and richer knowing that like many other beautiful and magical places I have known in the past, I could visit this place in my heart and mind whenever I wanted, just like in my dad’s painting. No one could ever take that away from me; I didn’t lose out after all.

 I was wondering if there are any special ways you have learned to cope with disappointments in your lives?  I love how the Farmgirl movement allows us to share and learn and support one another!  Peace to all, through all your peaks and valleys! Until next time,

Much Love and Mountain Blessings from The Mountain Farmgirl



By: Danielle
On: 10/18/2010 17:38:50
There are no words to truly express just how much I needed to read this blog right now, today. My husband and I were dealt a rather substantial (although probably meager to some) financial blow today. We are still working out how to deal with it but in trying to console him I said "We have more than a lot of people, the roof over our heads, food on our table, running water that gets hot, and so many other things but most importantly we have each other for better or worse." I think it's easy to lose sight of that sometimes and it takes something like this to realize what is really really important. Thank you for your words of encouragement, they help more than I can tell you!
By: Sharon
On: 10/18/2010 17:45:34
I can completely relate to your situation. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when the large property adjoining my small property came up for sale - granted, there was not a house on it, but I already had my home. And this property had a beautiful barn and fenced pastures! It was mine - in my heart. And every time I drove home I looked at this (to me) vast tract and dreamed. However, we decided not to financially overextend ourselves. Sadly, I occasionally still look at it and think "what if" but console myself by making my own little patch as perfect - to me - as possible.
By: Gaynell Dye name
On: 10/18/2010 17:47:35
I had an experience similar to yours several years ago, different details, but ultimately I didn't get the piece of property I coveted. About three years ago, I came across another property while trolling the internet, and this time we did get it. At the closing, they gave us a briefcase full of old deeds and abstracts. When I had time to look through it, I found out that this house was built (in 1863) by an ancestor of mine! I didn't grow up here, and I have since discovered that the whole neighborhood where I live was once (before it was a neighborhood) in my family, We have about 3/4 acre, and this is the oldest house in the neighborhood still intact, So, sometimes it just takes a while for the happy ending. Meanwhile, just enjoy where you are!
By: SuburbanFarmgirl
On: 10/18/2010 18:08:51
Sweet story (if bittersweet to you), thanks for sharing with us!
By: Reba
On: 10/18/2010 18:17:58
I absolutely love the quote on "Peace." It is exactly what I needed NOW. Thank you for an insightful article. Blessings, Reba
By: Janell
On: 10/19/2010 04:31:59
Weathering disappointment is such a "biggie". For me, where I place my focus makes the difference in how I handle the disappointment. I think that is what you are choosing to do also - focus on the up side and move on with life since it really is a wonderful life. Blessings from a Tennessee mountain girl.
By: Arlene
On: 10/19/2010 06:41:28
I can't begin to tell you how much your article touched my heart. Am going to save it, to look back on the writing itself, as well as your quotes and author recommendations. We've all had those big and small disappointments that sometimes come at the most vulnerable times. Thank you so much for sharing! Arlene
By: mary
On: 10/19/2010 07:13:55
This is a beautiful post and one we can all relate to. I generally just cry and holler and then get into a place of trust that it was the right thing.
One thing I have to guard myself against when I am in the throws of the heartache of disappointment is to not guard my heart against being disappointed again, not throwing up walls that would keep me from hoping, believing and pursuing the next great adventure that just might be the right thing.
May blessings to you.
By: Mary Emma Allen
On: 10/19/2010 07:16:01
Something similar happened to us, on a piece of woodland adjacent to our home. We came short of getting it, by not too much, but it went to someone else. Now the property is on the market, but at a much, much higher price. It's still undeveloped and simply sitting there. Perhaps if our fortunes rise and the owner will take a lower offer, we could eventually own it. We'd like the woodland so we can expand the three acres we own and keep that piece from being developed.
By: Ruth Turner
On: 10/19/2010 09:15:55
I'm SO sorry this happened to you! But you have such a beautiful attitude about it! I can certainly empathize with the feeling; I've been there myself on more than one occasion! However, when God closes a door, he opens a window. And, as you said, you already have your own place nearby that's so special to you! No matter how deep our disappointments, there are ALWAYS blessings to find in there, too!! I SO enjoy your blog! And these pics are breathtaking! You're so fortunate to live in such a magical place! I have to drive 5 hours to get to my beloved NC mountains!! :)
By: Susie
On: 10/19/2010 11:06:28
I love your true, so true. Isn't it funny how we have the feeling that things can make us happy. Although it sounds like a beautiful spot and would be wonderful to experience seeing it, we do not have to own it. I have had many similar disappointments that I realize I have conjured up in my own mind and being. I just have to remind myself how blessed by God I am, just like I am, with just what he allows me to have.
By: carol branum
On: 10/19/2010 14:27:20
Yesterday my friend kelly lost her son in Irac,and had to go to Maryland to indentify the body and bring back her son,my friend Kay also lost her married lover of 20 years,he was driving a back hoe in a rock quarry and it flipped over on him killing him instantly.Kay was very upset untill I told her about Kellys son.Kay really did not ever have her married lover.It was a fantasy.I think you will recover fine.blessed be, carol
By: carolj
On: 10/19/2010 15:11:38
I am sorry for your loss, indeed, a great disappointment feels like a death. Being a believing and striving-to-practice-my-faith Christian, I am learning to face life knowing that God holds all in His hands. If I suffer some disappointment, I try to remember that God sees the whole picture. In His grace He as allowed me to hear His loving, "See. I told you so." He has also been true to His promise to work all things together for good. I guess the short way to say this is GOD. He helps me through all of the peaks and valleys of life.

By: Garden Grammy
On: 10/19/2010 18:54:08
Happy Autumn in New Hampshire, Cathy :)
So sorry that you lost that little piece of heaven but it will forever be in your heart ~ it will always be yours that way. Growing up in a very rural area, I had a similar little place that I went to for simple peace of mind. It was on the top of a hill where you could see for miles. The grass was long and soft and it was surrounded by low-growing junipers. I would spend hours just lying in the grass looking up at the clouds. I haven't been there in years and never will again ~ there are condos there now.
I live in a small town in New Hampshire and I love it here but my husband of 38 years and I are hoping to capture that peaceful feeling again (he's from a very rural part of Maine)where we can raise our animals, have an organic garden & enjoy our piece of heaven. Keep your land in your heart and mind forever and no one (not even a rich Realtor)can take it away from you.
Best Wishes,
Garden Grammy :)
By: Ruth
On: 10/20/2010 03:41:01
O Cathi! My heart broke right along with you! I, too, get very emotionally attached to 'land' and the vibrating, palpable life it sustains and emanates.

Having been blessed on numerous occasions to set foot in an Ohio, Hocking Hills, hemlock cathedral, that you described perfectly which instantly transported me there again, I felt the familiar tug at my own of deep reverence and deep longing.

I don't have to imagine your disappointment. Like everyone, disappointments (or so we label them) are a part of life. And although holding the vision of our desires in our mind (and heart) is a comfort, it's not the same as being in the physical presence of the 'thing' of beauty and power that we are intimately connected to at a spiritual level. It's a tough nut to swallow, no two ways around it!

I admire your recognition of the need to let go and allow God's ultimate plan of highest good for all concerned to evolve. When you reach that level of awareness and that level of faith and trust, then you can navigate through any and all experiences of life!

You may still see yourself as a 'work in progress', but you are a woman, a person, of great strength and courage and deep, abiding faith...even when life appears opposite of your heart's-longing. I'd say that's the true test of faith -

"Seeing the Light (the Hope, the Joy, the Deeper Truth) with your heart when your eyes see only darkness"

That's true faith and hope, and they are alive and well within you!! Thanks for being an inspiration, Cathi!

Disappointments are generally stepping stones to even greater blessings down a more adventurous path. Not losing our faith in the midst of them is what strengthens us. Who knows what lies ahead...possibly something even greater!

Blessings unending be yours! Your words, as always, have blessed me greatly!

By: Christy
On: 10/20/2010 03:58:29
After a long day with a sick baby, this was just the kind of post I needed to read. Thanks so much for the insight and encouragement. This is a great post:)
By: Peggy Beck
On: 10/20/2010 10:39:21
Love your story. I do know that "wanting" you speak of.

I think we need to just go with the flow so to speak. My daughter (age19) once called me from 2000 miles away to tell me she was pregnant with twin girls and she was not married or getting married. I was so disappointed at the time but now I have these wonderful grandaughters and my daughter put herself through college with honors and is about to receive her PHD in Molecular Biology. Who knew?
By: Holly Olsen-Pierce
On: 10/20/2010 19:11:51
Like you already realize, what is meant to be is meant to be. Dealing with disappointment is one of life's big lessons. Writing about is cathartic and sharing your loss with us helps us (your readers) deal with similar situations.
I have always marveled at how some situation in life that deflates you and that sets you back a couple of steps seems, in retrospect, to be almost god-sent as you look back on it.
I have often been so thankful, after the fact, that what I wanted at the time didn't materialize!
That property sounded beautiful and perfect. Maybe you can take a corner of yours and start to plant it up with the native trees and underbrush that you seemed to love about that 2 special acres.
By: Juanita Massey
On: 10/20/2010 20:12:47
I fully understand how you feel, When I married my husband 5 years ago, I had to live in the home he shared with his first wife (dec). I could not get use to the fact that I hsd left my home of a lifetime to live in another home, in a town where I couldn't have my Chickens and other animals, only a cat or a dog, This has bothered me alot and I have told my husband about it. He understands this and has told me so. He told me I did a brave thing to give up my home and he knows how hard it was for me. This alone made me feel good and alittle ashamed. God has given me a good man to love and care for, I needed to bloom where I was planted. My story wasn't the same as yours, But yes, Life does give us some disappointments and we go on and take them as they come, We are stronger and better people for this. I hope you can understand where I am coming from, we all have our stories don't we. God gives us strength and we can understand. Love and bunches of Hugs Juanita
By: marceedee
On: 10/21/2010 07:33:03
Thanks for sharing your experience. It reminds me of all the disappointment and heartbreak of my life. I am learned and growned so much from each of those times. But God has healed my broken heart and energized by spirit to soar again. I was just sent this quote.
"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you can appreciate them when they're right, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."

Faith there is a reason, hope for a better things to come, trust we can make it through
By: Jennie
On: 10/23/2010 15:29:30
Well, you never know...the realtor may have bought the property as an investment. In this market it doesn't make sense to develop one day it may be for sale again....

I like the Van Dyke quote. That is the attitude I'm trying to cultivate toward other things...I don't have to own everything myself to enjoy it. In some ways, I can enjoy it more if I don't have possession of and responsibility for it.
By: pieceLove
On: 10/26/2010 07:05:39
Thank you for that. Maybe someday all will be revealed and we'll get to look back over our lives and see how every event fit into a much larger portrait. And God will be like, "See?"
By: Cheryl R
On: 10/27/2010 20:21:47
Cathy, I don't always take the time to comment but I just had to this time. May I second Ruths comment when she said "not losing our faith (in God and His plan for our lives) in the midst of life's disappointments is what strengthens us." I couldn't agree more with both of you! There are numerous opportunities in everyones life to buckle under as trials and tests come our way, and we all have them. Working in a well-known discount retailer I have constant opportunity to witness just how obsessed so MANY people are with accumulating things. I like to recall a concept my pastor shares often, to "keep thinking of life in the light of eternity", as we grow in Gods grace. That idea as simplified things so much for me. I too share your love of the land, and while in our family we may not be able to afford our perfect little place (if we ever find it) here on this Earth, I think we also share the urge to honor whatever of lifes temporary gifts we are given and make the most of our time here, short as it is. Thanks ever so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
By: Christine
On: 10/28/2010 11:28:50
When I was reading your blog it was as if I was there with you. I love the outdoors too.I would have flet the same way. Gods creations are so beautiful.Yes, we do sometimes forget we already have everything we need. God sees to that. We as humans think we need a little more. Pray and seek Him to help you though times in need God Bless
By: Claudia
On: 11/06/2010 07:32:31
Thank you for your wonderful story. It has been such an inspiration to me and to others, as you have seen. It seems we are drawn to read some things right when we need them, and this entry of yours was just what I needed. So beautifully written and described, I could feel the essence of your joy - and disappointment - but knowing that you loved this little piece of heaven was pure love! Good for you! Blessings, Claudia
By: Katie
On: 12/01/2010 05:43:39
You write so very well and so heartfelt.You put so much into this blog.
I relate to the wisdom you mention about making a good effort and at a certain point leaving it up to God.Also your own good blessings and karma.
That you really have the memory of it in your heart so that it's always there.Such good reminders.
I'm currently having to leave a garden I've built over the last twelve years .A ten acre garden that I worked hard to put in and establish. It's in the middle of a Buddhist monastery and a larger garden of about fifty acres that I helped to build over the last thirty years.It's one of my most favorite places in the world.But I too realize I won't really loose it.That the effort I put into it goes on. Even if not the way I wanted.But really the love I gave to that ground and those plants is what I feel good about and what I believe will last. Like when we give love to others and that is what really in the long run matters. It seems to me from my Buddhist background to be a lesson in impermanence.That all things won't last, but the feelings of it , the love of it , the memories will.
Thank you for your passionate writing that soothes and supports us all.

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir

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