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I had the most glorious dream last night. It was simply delicious.

Meriah Nichols-10In my dream, I had just rented a bright, cheerful office space. I was nervous about renting it, but there were all these people who were really excited about my return to work, and it felt awesome. People who wanted me around! Work! A maintained office environment! A paycheck!

I woke up smiling. And my smile faded as I saw the mess that had been left out from the night before. Toys all over the place, dishes, food.

I am so over doing this.

20150910-IMG_2804Nobody told me that being a mom is largely about cleaning up after other people.

That it’s mind-numbing, un-ending, grueling, thankless.

Nobody told me that my husband leaving the ketchup out could set me off – straw on the camel’s back – because I just can’t take One. More. Thing to put away.

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Nobody told me that living off the grid would simultaneously heal me and threaten to crack me.

That my crushing depression would lighten from living out here, my bi-polar symptoms would even out and my PTSD would would only come with triggers, few and far between.

But. The isolation.

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The isolation is intense.

I thought I knew a lot about isolation, just being deaf (perhaps the most isolating of disabilities?) and growing up in countries where I didn’t speak the languages.

But this is different. Being surrounded by trees is cream on the cupcake of life. But getting too deep in my own head because I’m the only adult I talk to, day in and out, makes me moo.

Meriah Nichols-6The outhouse, a symbol of my sanity, also makes me walk into people’s houses and get Toilet Envy.

‘ooooooooh, it flushes!’

The wasps in the outhouse, alligator lizards. The need to smooth shit over – literally. The open door and huge glass windows are gorgeous but with construction crews around, it makes me as self-conscious as I was in China.

20160404-_DSC2737Nobody told me that the tools and resources required by this life would need to spearheaded by me.

That is, if I don’t organize, ask (plead? beg?), and figure it out, it will NOT happen. I’ll be stuck re-balancing sink support bricks for the rest of my life.

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Nobody told me that puppies are assholes.Meriah Nichols-1

Nobody told me that my Grandma’s cat would try and pee, poop and puke on any bed she can get. All the time. Every day. Special points for the kid’s beds.

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Nobody told me that animals require more work than I think I want to put in.

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Nobody told me that it can all feel like a makeshift life, of being on one never-ending indoor (uncomfortable) camping trip. That it’s overwhelming. I was never the type who likes roughing things to begin with.

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Nobody told me that starting a life in a rural community off the grid can feel like nothing is ever done. Not in that regular way of “oh, nothing ever gets done around here!”, not in the way that  life – the never-ending adventure – is supposed to feel like.

Building a life in a yurt (or more accurately, round house) with a concrete floor, unfinished drywall and teetering make-do storage and insufficient furnishings feels ugly. It feels uncomfortable. It feels like too much. It feels sticky, itchy, messy, disorganized and always on the edge of breeding maggots.

Nobody told me there is a difference between a pleasurable “challenge”, as opposed to an insurmountable struggle; a hike up a shady hill instead of clamping up icy Everest with frostbite encroaching my fingers.

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Nobody told me that kids would be so hard.


That raising little kids would make me cry with my feelings of failure.

And nobody told me that a million moments with them would make my heart explode with love.


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And laughter.


Nobody told me that I would miss working in an office with people to talk to.

That I would miss office work! That I would sorely miss being valued by dint of my paycheck, if nothing else. That I would miss feeling accomplished, working through issues successfully. That I would miss the way that some people would look at me after I helped them and just beam, “thank you!

And that I would miss dressing up and wearing nice shoes.

Nobody told me that I’d feel like I was slipping through opportunities, or would miss being able to apply myself to problems – if even only through writing. That posts, pitches, articles, applications, interviews, twitter chats would be missed because of the connected challenges of living where and how we do.

I suppose we could move to town. Town in and of itself presents a host of other, very different problems for me and my brain. So in moments like this, I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. A very beautiful rock and hard place.

Meriah Nichols-5But in the meantime, I have my dreams of a beautiful office.

With lots of wonderful work to dive into, problems to happily solve in a cheerful space with colleagues who share my own vision. Bright windows, well-maintained computer, office supplies, water wells, on-site toilets that flush and a coffee maker.

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  1. I hear you Meriah. I joke with my students that I know how it feels to be in their shoes because parenting is just being bossed around by 3 little kids ALL THE TIME. I also joke that my favorite pass time is hiding from my children. There’s a little truth in that. Ok, a LOT of truth.

    In some ways, I want your life, but I want my life too. I want to live on a farm, raise animals, and go to my teaching job. I want it all. But I can’t get my hubby on board sadly.

    Parenting is HARD. Life is HARD. We just have to hold on to the belief that it is worth it.

  2. Angela Domingues says:

    I enjoyed reading this post! It sent me through an emotional roller coaster, case in point. My daughter is 4 with that special extra chromosome. Although I say I would never change anything about her, I sometimes feel like why me!!!! she does the bolting off at any moment with no hesitation, oh ya maybe a little laughter. Tears apart anything she can, just broke our DVD player. You are truly an inspiration to people who feel like they are at the end of the jump rope! Thank you, keep up the great work! People do hear you?


  3. Fiona Strahan says:

    Dearest Meriah, your writing is always a delight to read. There is always some resonance with my own life. The interweaving of disability, parenting and rural living(not off grid).
    It was the bush fire season prep (which had to begin earlier and earlier and lasted longer)that was the final push for us to move to a city Hobart except a small city on water.
    I see you on a book tour. This writing can take you places. You rock!

    1. THanks, Fiona – xo . I would so love to see you again.

  4. Hi, M, Sounds like your grandma’s cat is grieving. Her owner is gone so she’s shitting out of spite. Don’t know the cure. you might try each person sitting on their bed lovingly giving cat all the love she can hold. Try having her associate your beds w/ loving.Also do you have any framed pictures of granny you can put out. Might make pussy less isolated. Mind you, this is off the top of my head,
    Loved the big wheel brigade. And Moxie is so CUTE.

    1. Maybe also anything that smells like grandma, so the cat knows she is in the right place. It’s tough when you have a cat acting weird, it’s so hard to tell what’s wrong. At least kids can approximately point and wail!

      Meriah, I don’t have children and my life is quite different from yours but oh my goodness you have articulated the impossible conflict between how wonderful and how awful it is to be an adult.

      1. Thanks for the tips on Hester, and laughing out loud about the articulation piece on being an adult! Thanks for commenting

    2. Barbara, you are so right. We need to be giving her all the love she can hold. That is such a great idea about changing the association of the beds. I’m going to try that. Thank you! And love to you. xo

  5. Fiona Willis says:

    Oh Meriah. Reading your words is like reading poetry, every…single…time. Like poetry, it makes me laugh, cry, stop and think, get goosebumps, smile…all my emotions go on the roller coaster. You have such a special gift for saying it like it is. As much as your life is at times dragging you to the brink of insanity or whatever you wish to call it, you are living, really living and one day you will be able to say to your kids that you did the best you could to take this life with both hands and live every bit of it you could. Your children are like children the world over… rich or poor, city or country- they drive us to distraction and also make our heart explode with love ( don’t get me started on husbands!). Thank you for such an honest post and photos of the children that give me shivers – they are beautiful, like their mother. Xx

  6. Christine says:

    Throwing my arms around you for your honesty and for encouragement!

  7. I have to agree with everyone else and I want to add your work is truly an art form. You have such a special gift that captures words and pictures in the most glorious way. I know its tough and everything you say is undeniably the truth, but know that by you sharing so openly with us we too that feel like you can exhale and know we are not alone. Everyone’s story may not be exactly the same, but the roller coaster of feelings are which at the end of the day is what matters (at least to me),

    Please continue to write, photograph, share, live off the grid, lead, innovate and chase your heart’s desires– you are definitely in alignment with what your true purpose is and as cliché as it sounds –don’t give up!


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