Happy New Year, friends! I know; I have been M.I.A. for most of the summer and fall (and now winter…where does the time go?!). Besides having the most busy show year ever with events almost every weekend in various states, I was pouring every last bit of energy, time and resources into a special project in Vermont.
For years, I have dreamt of owning and operating a bed and breakfast. I bought the books. Researched. Traveled to the Caribbean, looking at properties to invest in and calculated the risks. And I then landed in the place that always felt like home; the one place in 38 years that brought me peace and healing. The place that never failed to foster my creativity, no matter where I was in life. This is where Nature Calls, LLC was birthed years ago. Where it grew. Where it morphed in an entirely different direction this past year. And for once in my life, I didn’t overthink it. I just trusted the process and went along with it with blind faith. I was stripped down to the core, and now God is rebuilding what was left after being refined to that painful extent.
For those of you who worry about my isolating tendencies, trust me. This whole experience has taught me that (wo)man cannot live on communing with feral animals alone. As much as I loved Diesel and have been trying to domesticate the other chipmunks, spastic red squirrels, and innocent-eyed juncos, I know. I. Know. It may have taken longer than you thought fitting, but…may I gently remind you that people progress in timeframes applicable to their own healing journeys. I just hope that you extend grace, not just to me, but to others in your life whom you may feel should be further advanced on their journeys than they may be. You can’t rush the process. Leave that timing up to God. But if God is tugging at your heart, hopefully you’ll be there when those loved ones emerge on the other end in whatever condition they may be in. That’s all they need. Just for someone to be there. In the trenches. Letting them know they aren’t fighting the war alone, even if you don’t understand their battle.
Where have I been for most of 2017? Creating the largest work of art I’ve ever made. Nestled on the side of a mountain in Vermont, lovingly creating this space while wrestling with learning to love myself, and by the grace of God, through it all, continually taking another step in recovery and trying to create something beautiful from the ashes. Ironically, or not so much to my Lord, Easter Day of 2018, I will celebrate 1 year of total recovery from my eating disorder, something I haven’t known since 2000. 18 years. Something that almost killed me too many times to mention. The thought of experiencing that freedom each day free makes me well up. Driving all over upstate NY and VT to reclaim the precious barn wood and shiplap that generous people were offering and then repurposing it into functional walls and ceilings while hearing exceptional life stories from those who donated those materials and the lesson of “I create all things new” echoing in my ears. (EVERYONE has a story worth hearing if we just give people a chance…) Developing relationships with people in this small town to find trustworthy tradesmen whose work ethic matched my own and whose craftsmanship brought me to tears. Where locals supported my dream and showed up, knowing this girl with a big dream needed a hand when she was too proud to ask for the help. Where friends from back home rightfully questioned and challenged what the HECK I was doing with my time and resources, continuously keeping me in check. And where my loving Lord kept quietly affirming in the chaos, “I have you. I’m holding you so tight. Trust in me. Trust the process. I. LOVE. YOU. Stop doubting that. STOP.”
This cabin has been in my family for years. This town is the town where our family grew up vacationing together. My parents had enough money when they were first married to either buy a pop tent or go out for dinner; I am thankful they chose the tent. That decision led to family vacations at the campground instead of trips to Disney, and it instilled something in me that I will treasure until I leave this earth. “There is pleasure in the pathless woods…” I learned early on that God wasn’t confined to the four walls of a church structure; God was living and breathing in the very canvas that He created. And from a young age, I learned that God spoke most to me when I was in His creation…just him. Me. Nature.
And now I have the opportunity to share this beloved piece of earth with others. That’s why this space means so much to me. I was given the opportunity to transform an unused space into something that others could experience, and hopefully, love. I poured my heart and soul into this living gallery in a way that I never built, designed, or created before. I collaborated with Vagabond Craftworks, a highly talented, rustic industrial craftsman who blended my reclaimed, rustic style with his high-end, Manhattan loft-meets-Montana cabin design.
And it miraculously worked.
Every slab and piece of wood was picked in person, the outcome of scouting out craigslist leads and discovering precious treasures. Every concept was poured over. Every design thought out for the comfort and happiness of future guests and the integrity of our work. Every discarded barn wood board and shiplap scrap from the dump, repurposed and given new life and turned into something beautiful. And I couldn’t be more happy or proud of the final product.
“Escape” is truly that. An escape.
You know you are happy with something when you want to live in that space.
The amazing photography is courtesy of Maya Rafie (you can follow her at @mayarafie on Instagram! She is an incredibly talented artist based out of Boston). The finished product is something that far exceeded my initial vision. Rustic meets industrial. Manhattan meets VT. It’s a one-of-a-kind living art gallery, available for people to enjoy if they need to get away from the busyness and chaos of life for awhile.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I trust the process. And right now, I’m the happy host of an air bnb that is bringing a small amount of joy to others and a great amount of joy and healing to myself. There is so much to do in every season if you choose to venture down the mountain, away from “Escape.” But if you need a place to hole up for a bit of time alone or with a significant other, this has it all as well.
Unwind. Relax. Escape.
I’m thankful beyond words that I’m booked every weekend through the end of February. I love this place, and love sharing the joys of it with others. To book your “Escape,” please visit https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20818283?location=arlington%2C%20vt&s=sWpNLqMR. Check out the discounted weekday rates if you are looking to come skiing/boarding!
I look forward to hosting you! Thanks for embarking on this journey with me.