I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of having a personal “mission statement.” I’m in the last years of my third decade and the weight of a Saturn Return rests ominously on the path in front of me. Turning thirty has never made me uncomfortable - the prospect actually excites me! Culturally, however, this is a milestone feared by many and comes with all sorts of socially-constructed expectations and measures by which we’re supposed to compare ourselves to others. The question, “What is your purpose?” is posed by the world.
Queue self-interigation: Am I successful enough? Have I made enough money? Do I have a sufficient network of friends and colleagues? Should I start or grow a family? Am I married - should I be? Am I happy with my career? What, exactly, am I doing here?
This last one is the one gripping my chest, presently.
I think we’re taught that the “big 3-0” is a benchmark by which you (and your community) can grade how well you set yourself up for adulthood - like there’s a standard we’ve all agreed on that constitutes a successful trajectory into the next few decades of life.
Or maybe these are my projections as I reflect on the societal pressure I often feel to be/do/have more than I already am/do.
So I’ve been ruminating on these pressures I feel, and why I feel them, and what this sense of “have I made it?” is all about because I know I’m not the only one plagued by these thoughts and feelings.
In the study of astrology, there is the concept of a Saturn Return, which takes place for each individual when the planet Saturn returns to the same spot in the sky (relative to Earth) it was when the individual was born. Astrology is a lot of things, but one way it’s been described to me is the study of cycles and patterns. These cycles happen on an individual level, societal level, generational level, etc. In astrology, Saturn represents stability, social rules, careers, discipline, order, and structure. It is the planet of building something sturdy that will last through the ages; it is dedicated to the slow-and-steady work of constructing a framework.
A planetary Return is the closing of one cycle and the beginning of another in reference to the qualities that planet represents in an individual’s life. The Saturn Return is a time to reflect on the quality of structure that has dominated one’s life up until that point, and intentionally create a path, or framework, moving forward.
Saturn “returns” every 28-31 years…see where I’m going with this?
If we use the astrological concept of a Saturn Return to view the phases of our life as we experience them in our current society, the stars begin to align, so to speak. The first Saturn Return happens around the 30th birthday when a person is shifting from the framework they were given in childhood to the framework they create for their self. The second Return happens around the age of 60, when most people are transitioning from career to retirement or a second career. A 60-year-old might be asking a lot of similar questions as a 30-year-old, but the context is different; a lot of their life’s work is behind them and they are faced with constructing the framework of their legacy: “What, exactly, did I do here?”
Whether you believe in the concepts of astrology or not, I think this is an interesting lens to view the existential crises a lot of people experience around their 30th and 60th birthdays. These are times of tectonic shifts in our lives, usually in the areas of career and social purpose.
As I prepare for my first Saturn Return, my reflections lead me to consider the idea of a personal mission statement. I think this idea has been spurred by the recent changes taking place at Small Feat Farm. As most readers know, the last few years have been a mixed-bag of triumphs, trials, challenges, defeats, and celebrations. Brian and I have felt the full spectrum of emotions in our relationship with the farm. Late in the season last year, we decided to diversify our household by Brian working off-farm. (Speaking of Saturn Returns, Brian is in the thick of his and has come to realize that a greater sense of structure and security is necessary for him to be his best self.) This shift also included a reconfiguration of the farm business.
Reimagining the farm has been exciting and challenging, especially on my own (with undying support from Brian, of course). I took the time to write a business plan in January for the coming year and have hired a business mentor to help me create a path for success. I am learning new things every day about business, myself, and my support system. Most days I am terrified I’m not doing enough or not doing it right, but the whole process has helped me get clear about what the mission of Small Feat Farm really is. More to come on these specifics later!
I feel like the process of getting clear about my business is the preamble for my Saturn Return: getting clear about the direction of my life. At the moment, it feels like all doors are open. This can be a really uncomfortable place for me but I’m doing my best to sit in it and respect the process. The last six months have taught me that the process is winding and arduous, but equally rewarding as the mission becomes more clear.
Like planning a business, there comes a moment in one’s life when the question “what am I doing here?” demands to be answered in order to forge a purpose-driven path. I suppose some people don’t ever have an answer to this…or they had the answer the moment they were born. I feel I have an answer to this in a broad sense, but not necessarily in an Saturnian sense. It’s still brewing, waiting ahead on my path. And I’m excited about the process.
So what’s in store for Small Feat Farm this year? First, a big shift to flowers! I am offering a full-blown Flower Farm Share! There are full and half-season options available and this is a fantastic way to support me and this business as I cultivate a diverse ecosystem for pollinators and practice chemical-free, no-till farming. Flowers will be for sale at Cumberland Food Company and LIV Kundalini Yoga Studio throughout the summer. I will also host a pop-up market stand at Cumberland Food Co. on a designated weekday.
Second, community-cenetered events will be hosted at the farm all year long! Come join me and Brian for Pizza Nights on the Second Sunday of each month, June through October. Workshops on DIY wedding bouquet creation, low-impact farming, and holiday wreath making will be featured in collaboration with other small businesses. And be on the lookout for a very special Farm-to-Table dinner hosted at the farm in August!
Lastly, veggies are not gone! Small Feat Farm will be producing veggies for Barn & Table Catering, which operates out of the same property as the farm. Collaboratively, we are aiming to demonstrate a true farm-to-table model in the event industry.
Stay tuned for more updates and details on the new official mission statement of Small Feat Farm!