Friday, August 3, 2012

A Perfect Circle: Rubble Trench Foundation Progress

"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living." 
~ Anais Nin

Everyone says that building a house always takes longer than you think it will, but in my case, it's taking waaaayyyyy longer than I initially imagined.  Last summer, I came to a point of acceptance about that and decided to just take my time, not stress about it, and enjoy the process.  But it seems like the way life often works is that as soon as you come to acceptance at one level, you get thrown to a more challenging level.  Such, at least, has been the case with my housebuilding project.

Over the winter, I made plans to organize my life a little differently this summer.  I would work less and stay out at the land more, thereby making it possible to not only have more time for building, but live on the reduced income.  However, because of a variety of unforeseen factors, it did not work out this way.  I've found myself in town most of the time, and even out of town altogether.

I don't want to get into too much personal stuff on this blog, but I feel the need to give some context here.  This has been so far the most intense year of my life.  It has included the death of my younger brother; a dear friend going missing in the woods for nine days, returning, finding out he has a brain tumor and starting chemo, going missing and returning again; and a daughter who fell into a self-destructive lifestyle and has needed lots of help to get out of it.  All of this has been beyond challenging to deal with, especially while also living off-grid and trying to build a house, plus just the "usual" stuff of working and raising four children, the youngest of which has been in a "me-first-or-I'll-throw-a-tantrum" stage. 

I've had moments of discouragement and near-despair, when I've questioned what the hell I'm doing and if I should just give up and find a decent rental in town.  It all came to a head a couple of weeks ago.  I was just back from Denver after bringing my daughter to the airport to go live with her dad in Louisiana and get her life back on track, and I just felt defeated and exhausted.  Like I just don't care anymore and don't have the energy.  There was only ten feet or so left to dig on the first trench, but it just seemed pointless and beyond me.

But then, I just got up and started digging again, and once I started, I was determined to finish it.  That day.  In the Earthbag Building book, the authors say, "Action dispels doubt," and they are totally right.  That day, everything began to turn around for me.  I dug longer and harder than I ever have.  I spent that whole day digging, taking little breaks, digging some more.  And then it was done; the two ends connected, and they connected level.

To be able to then stand back and gaze upon the fruit of my labor, this perfect circle, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, even if there's still a lot more digging to do.  I can only imagine what it will feel like when the whole structure is completed.

But the really significant moment was actually not when the trench was completed, but at the point during the day when I stopped for a break and realized there was only about four feet left, the length of my beloved orange level.  That's when I knew that I really would finish it that day, and I felt an immediate lightening, the proverbial burden off the shoulders.  I sat there on the edge of the trench with my feet on its floor, and just looked and listened, received the beauty and grace of this piece of land that I now know I belong to.  I felt a surrendered gratitude and intimacy with it like never before, this land that has claimed me, this place I am constructing and being constructed by.  Being here, doing this, is both sanctuary and pilgrimage.


  1. this post brought tears to my eyes
    a deep understanding at so many levels of the journey you find yourself on
    have no doubt - the house is building you as much as you are building it

  2. Fantastique. This post is inspiring. You are inspiring! Life is inspiring! The earth is inspiring!

    That's enough exclamation points for one day :)

  3. What an inspiring journey, so appreciate this post, thank you! Amazing what you are accomplishing.

  4. You are such a powerhouse. Thanks for sharing your challenging year, and inspiring us with your fortitude and grace. Love to you.

  5. came over to visit from kel's blog, and so glad i did! i'm blown away - in a good way - and inspired by your story. i want to learn more.

  6. There's something so symbolic in our lives about the circle and I just feel that your circle is hugging your life, now and to come.

  7. (i stopped in at suggestion by Kel...)
    and i have to say...
    oh wow!!! truly amazing & inspiring. the circle...your life...literally being created with your hands!
    goosebumps rising on my arms, just seeing the energy...what you're doing...creating!!

  8. Kel - Thank you. It's deeply comforting to know that you do understand this journey.

    Sue - Thank you!!! Exclamation points are like hot peppers; you definitely don't want to overdo it but some dishes call for more than others :)

    Bren - Thanks for your encouragement. Your use of the word "amazing" reminds me to be amazed myself :)

    Deonne - Thank you. I've never thought of myself as a powerhouse, but I like that concept. I'm trying it on for size. Love to you too.

    Stacy - Thanks for visiting :) I'm planning to do some posts about the basic plans I have for my house, as I realized there's not a lot on here that goes into the details of that.

    Tess - good point about the circle, and thank you for that blessing. Hugging is a very good word for how I felt when I was sitting on the edge of the trench that day.

    Laura - Wow; I love that you got goosebumps! What I'm realizing in all these comments is that the energy that you speak of - it's amplified in the sharing.

  9. I am always inspired by your posts. But this one is tops. You should bookmark it and refer back to from time to time. It is especially encouraging to read the comments from all your loving friends. This is the second time that I have read this post. The first time there were no comments yet, and I was unable to. I recently lost a significant amount of my vision and have been very down about it. My job requires a lot of reading and I've been struggling. Thanks for the uplift.

  10. Thank you, Lou. I'm glad to hear this encouraged you; I can't imagine what losing my vision would do to my morale. I hope you find peace in the midst of your trials.

    1. I've always thought you were crazy for digging the trench. Now that it's done I have proof! It looks beautiful.