With great excitement, today is the first day in a new adventure in my life. I’m headed back to school full-time!
I am attending the Santa Rosa JC to earn certificates in garden design and landscape management, with the goal of becoming a landscape designer. In theory it should take about a year, but I’ll likely go longer because I’m interested in so many classes. I plan on also becoming certified in permaculture next summer though OAEC. Once I have my design certificate, my goal is to start my own design business focusing on permaculture based homestead gardens and native and wildlife friendly gardens. I will not install lawns.
For the first time in a long time, I am very optimistic about my future. I have had lots of business ideas, but never knew how to achieve them or where to go next. For the past 5 years or so, I have been really floundering on what my path is, and I’m feeling very excited and committed to this goal I’ve set down.
I’ve had a variety of career goals throughout my short life. When I was very little, I wanted to be a mermaid. Clearly, that didn’t pan out so I then wanted to be librarian, the a fashion designer, then a journalist, an interior designer, a park ranger, and a geologist. Finally, sometime in mid-high school, I set my heart on becoming a naturalist, and completed college with that goal. I got a BA from UCSC in Environmental Studies, with focuses in both environmental interpretation and restoration ecology, and minor in Earth Sciences.
Immediately after graduating, I took an internship as a naturalist at an outdoor school in San Luis Obispo. I loved it. I spent my days outside teaching kids about nature. Once that was finished, I thought I wanted to be a teacher, so I moved to Tahoe and worked as a teacher’s aid. That only lasted a few months before I realized I hated being inside all day and the bureaucracy of the school system and lack-of creativity present in classrooms when lessons were dictated by standardized testing. When I moved to Sonoma County, I worked again as a naturalist, which I loved, but I couldn’t pay the bills and didn’t want to have the nomadic lifestyle that being an outdoor school teacher required.
Since then, I tried many things. I worked for a large corporation doing outreach and education on recycling programs. I worked with local government and created an implementation program regarding the mandatory commercial recycling ordinance. I did event coordination for a non-profit focused on local economy. I learned about herbs and alternative medicine while working at an acupuncture clinic. I’ve been a substitute teacher, done retail, counter help, food service, and managed a restaurant. I tried being a stay-at-home wife but was unhappy, and wanted to BE something and contribute to the larger population.
Last year, knowing that I needed direction and help, I started seeing a career counselor/life coach. She helped me determine that in order to be happy and satisfied with my work, there were 5 qualities that needed to be met: active in nature, new experiences, play/creativity, communication/sharing info, and protection/care. We brainstormed lots of different career jobs and felt that landscape designing would be a great fit. I also see this as a great opportunity to spread the homesteading and sustainable living gospel. If I can get even one person to grow their own food, or convert a lawn into a bee friendly garden, I’ll consider that I’ve made a difference in the world.
I’ve always liked designing things. As a kid, I’d put together my own fashion catalogues- hands sketches of outfits on folded stapled pieces of paper. I’d do mockups of rooms from magazine cut-outs. I’ve also always liked plants. As a teenager, I pretended I didn’t care much as my mom drug me around nurseries and garden tours, but really I enjoyed seeing how people created outdoor spaces and the variety and uniqueness of each plant. I loved helping working in the garden ever since I was a little kid. Why I didn’t consider garden design earlier is really quite surprising. Perhaps I didn’t realize it was actually a thing that people hired other people to help them with, I just assumed it came naturally to everyone.
Now that you know what I’m doing, it is likely that these semi-regular postings will become much less regular, as I’m in class 5 days a week. I’m taking a drafting class, intro to art and design, horticultural science, pruning, and a botany based class. Somehow I’ll need to fit in all the normal cooking, cleaning, garden-upkeep and homestead building, in addition to class and studying. Feel free to follow me on instagram to keep up with my adventures, and best wishes until next time!