In this episode, Martissa chats with writer, entrepreneur, and homesteader Shannon Hayes. We discuss homemaking as a site for liberation, community reliance, and becoming a producer rather than a consumer. We hope this episode gets you to look at your home as your next step toward freedom.
Shannon Hayes: So they would reclaim just enough and they might figure out that I'm a terrible beekeeper, but I'm a great cook. And, and you try like a million different things and you pick what's gonna work for you and you let the rest go. Yeah. And um, and maybe your house has a whole lot of dust in it, but, but you found out you really have a thing for fermentation and you've got beer and you've got wine and you've got cider and you've got sauerkraut and you've got kimchi.
And this really makes you happy. And it really does cut down on your grocery bill. And you trade some of that stuff for someone else who's really good with the chickens. And you trade it with someone else who does have a knack for beekeeping. And you start engaging with your whole community and building a, a social and economic web of self-reliance of community self-sufficiency, self-reliance personally, but community self-sufficiency where it's on a community scale. Yeah. And then you take that and you turn it and you say, I've got enough. I'm good. I'm ready to change the world.
Martissa Williams: Hey, loved ones. Welcome to Naked Conversations, A space for you and I to meditate, strategize and dream of the tools needed to transform into radical selves. I'm your host, Martissa Williams, Free Being, Radical Way Show-er and Liberation doula. My purpose is to support the collective on our journey to deeper joy, sweeter justice, and fulfilling presence.
So are you ready to step into your most liberated life yet? Let's get to it.
Hi friends. Over the past year, it has become abundantly clear that our world and our communities are in desperate need of some healing between the state sanction murders of dozens of black and brown folks to climate catastrophe, to the war on folks with uteruses and all manner of international nightmares.
The way we've always done things is killing us. And in the wake of all of this, many of us have felt hopeless and confused. We sign petitions and donate money and post on Instagram, but that honestly just doesn't feel like enough. For years, I have held the belief that transformed people, transformed the world.
The work of freedom and liberation must be done both from the political side and from the shifting of the individual's heart. And for many years I've been playing with methods of doing this for myself, working on how to unlearn the oppression that I grew up in, how to stop perpetuating that oppression in the world around me.
And out of that inquiry and experimentation came the toolbox. So the toolbox is an annual membership packed with the tools I've used to make anti-oppression a daily practice. With the 12 month membership, you get unlimited access to all of my Embodied Liberation Workshops, presence practices, group coaching, and more.
This is a huge, huge part of my life's work, and I am so excited to share with you. For more information or to become a member, click the link in the show notes or go to letsgetnekkid.com/thetoolbox.
Hi dear ones, Welcome back to Naked Conversations. I'm super excited to share this episode of the podcast with you because Shannon Hayes is our guest today. Shannon Hayes is an author and operates Sap Bush Hollow Farm and Cafe, which is in the mountains of upstate New York with three generations of her family.
She's the author of several books, which we talk about in this episode pretty extensively. Her first title being Radical Homemakers, and her most recent title being Redefining Rich, which was a 2022 National Indie Award finalist winner of an Axiom Medal for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as the Nautilus Medal for Business in Leadership.
Her podcast, The Hearth of Sap Bush Hollow: Chronicle Stories and Lessons From a Life Tied to Family, Community and the Land. And I'm super excited to share with you this conversation with Shannon because I heard about her book, Radical Homemakers from a homesteader that I follow and was immediately intrigued, but also a little nervous at the title of that book and the moment I opened it up.
And the introduction is called Tomato Canning Feminist, and I knew I had landed in the right space. In this episode, we talk about Shannon's path back home, the difference between self-sufficiency and self-reliance. We talk about what a radical homemaker isn't, and we talk about this homemaker's continuum, which Shannon talks about and writes about in I believe both of her books actually.
We talk about her transition from academia to home study and to entrepreneurship and one of my favorite topics that was solidified through reading her work and this, this idea of the home being a place of production rather than consumption and how to buck up against consumer culture through interrogating that process.
We also talk about the value of rest and how rest can be such an asset to any business, but life in general. And then we talk about Shannon's relationship with writing. I cannot wait to hear your feedback and thoughts on this conversation. Through reading Shannon's books, I got so much confirmation about some of the ways that we can work towards liberation work, work towards anti-oppression through coming back into the home and this key idea of learning to produce, learning to support ourselves, our community, and the world, rather than just being a puppet for consumption. And so I'm interested to know your thoughts and excited to bring you this episode.
Hi Shannon. Thank you so much for coming onto the podcast.
Shannon: Thank you for having me, Martisa. I'm really glad to be joining you today.
Martissa Williams: Thank you. So the question I ask all my guests is what made you you?
Shannon: Well? Um, so, uh, I think you know a little bit about my story, but, um, Your listeners probably don't. Um, I live where I grew up.
Um, I live in the northern foothills of the Appalachian mountain chain in the, uh, northern Catskill mountain area. And my parents bought the farm that we're still working today in 1979. And I was five years old and I came to this farm and it was very much Appalachian culture here. And my parents were college educated and had professional jobs.
And I was a latchkey kid here and I was a latchkey kid who got off the school bus at the end of the day and was in these mountains and spent a lot of time alone. Um, Or with my neighbors who were, uh, very much a part of Appalachian mountain culture. And that made me, me, the mountains made me, me. I spent hours and hours and hours in the stream that runs through the farm. And I think that made me who I am.
And then this couple who became my surrogate grandparents, their names wereâ€” they weren't even a couple. Um, she was sort of gifted to this, uh, homestead when she was 16 years old because she was one of 16 children, I believe, and was deemed useless to her mother. And it was very common around here for women to be given away.
And she was given away as a quote unquote hired girl for $1 a week to this family. Um, Where, uh, he ended up the man of the house, the wife died. She raised his children and then he took on borders and, uh, she cooked and cleaned and took care of all these men. Um, and by the time I came along, she was, uh, in her sixties when I first met her.
And, um, hiâ€” this, the original owner's brother was living there, and I call them a couple because it was he and she living together, but they'd sort of default wound up together at the end of everybody died off. And, um, she basically, every day she grew up, she was so poor and without anything in her life, uh, she learned that you kept a roof over your head by the food you put on a table.
And, uh, she would babysit for me and when I was little, and then I would just kept, I kept going up there and she would need, she always needed to ask for help. Her name was Ruth and he Sanford, uh, they both would ask for me to come and help, and I wouldn't take money because I love their food. And they never moreâ€” earned more than a couple thousand dollars a year.
But I would go with him. I would go Blackberry picking with him. I'd help shovel out the barn every week and, uh, make hay with these people and do fencing. And I would sit at her table and eat. And for me, I didn't know I loved food . I mean, I was such a fussy eater at home, but my parents were bringing home like, you know, canned green beans and canned asparagus and rotisserie chicken from the grocery store cuz you know, they were, they were busy working.
So I thought I hated food. It turns out I didn't hate food. I really, really, really loved food and I couldn't stand to see food desecrated in any way. It was sacred. And food in their home was that, Um, and they made me, they, they, they brought me up in a food tradition when I was growing up in a household that wasn't really in touch with one.
And, um, so the streams, the mountains, the stone walls, the pastures and their kitchen table made me, me.
Martissa Williams: I love that answer. There's so much in that answer. I think that. The fact that you point to like a sense of place and the way that that can contribute to our, you know, identity and our personhood. And so many of us like don't have that anymore, right?
Cuz we're taught to like, you know, go off to college and leave. Like, leave the coop, leave the nest, you know, and like relocate. Um, it's so interesting cuz I have not lived in my, you know, where I grew up since I was 17, 18,
Shannon: but, and so do you, do you still identify with it though?
Martissa Williams: Oh, a hundred percent. I won't even change my license.
I'm such a . I'm like such a Detroiter. I'm like, I won't even change my license yet. Um,
Shannon: Yeah, well that's, you know, it's funny because um, I was in this mountain culture, but the schools were centralized schools. So I rode the bus 45 minutes every single day down into the valley. And that school was very college focused and I was a good student.
And that was the plan for me that I would go on, uh, get a college degree. And I always loved the farming, so I needed to figure out, well, how am I gonna have my summers off if I go for a job? So my dad was an academic, so I decided, well, I guess I'll become an academic cuz then I get my summers off cuz my dad was able to make hay and do a lot of the farm work in the summer.
Um, so I planned on that. Uh, but I was, I noticed how, um, these. The school was in a, like I said, it was a, it was a suburban, fringe school. Very academic focused, but they were really pushing everyone to leave. Mm. And um, and I struggled. I mean, my parents, they sent me to college and nobody knew if I was gonna be able to finish because I would have breakdowns constantly.
I didn't wanna be there. And it was really hard to be focused on academics to be totally skilled at doing the schoolwork. But, uh, I. Out of touch with what mattered to me. So finally, I went to, I transferred four times for a four year degree, , and, uh, landed at SUNY Binghamton and was able to stay because they had greenhouses there.
And I befriended the man who took care of the greenhouses. And he says, Well, you know, you're an English major, you're a creative right image. I have no use for you. And I'm like, No, dude. I come from a farm. Please. I need to be here. And he, he always says, uh, he hired me cuz I, I just kept coming back and he couldn't get rid of me.
And then one day he fired me and I still kept coming back. They ran outta money. I still kept coming back. I, I couldn't get through school without, without touching soil and plants. And, uh, that got me through. And I had to go home every single weekend and come back to the farm. But I, I really struggled because at that time, a successful woman did not feel such a draw to her home and her family.
Mm. Um, but I couldn't see any other way. And I was, I, I suffered a lot of embarrass. For that because it was, yeah, it was not considered, um, honorable at that time to be from such a place. But I was in a creative writing program and all I could write about was where I came from and, and what this world was to me.
Um, I did have some creative writing teachers who simply didn't believe my life. They said, This is, this is real fiction. This is not true. And, and, and you need to make your fiction more believable. Um, that was an issue too, . Um, but yeah, I, I identified very powerfully with it. And then as I went on to grad school, you'd think I'd learn my lesson right.
You know, if you didn't do well, if you weren't happy in college, why'd you go grad school? But I started studying rural sociology and then I started understanding not only does what I come from matter, it's really important. Mm-hmm. Um, my life became my work, became my research, and then I was able to own it and, and return to it and make a life here.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. I love that. Um, a piece that I think is super important that you pointed out is the fact that like women, successful women are expected not to like have a place of home as something that is, um, or to be fully drawn back to that. Um, and that kind of brings me to your book, Radical Homemaker. That was the first text of yours that I, I read and what even made me like go down the Shannon Hayes Rabbit Hole of of your work because I had seen somebody I follow, uh, post about it and I was like, Okay, this book could go one of two ways.
Like it could be. And I've heard you talk about that too, how the name, some people are like afraid of the name or some people are like, Oh, this is exactly, this is exactly what I'm supposed
Shannon: to be reading. I think it's the best name I ever came up with, with a book. Cause it was such a lightning rod. People wrote me hate mail just from the subject, just from the title and, and, and it sold really well.
So it really, it really like, it either lit fires of passion or fires of hatred, but it did light fires and, Right. I haven't been so good at naming books ever since. . There you
Martissa Williams: go. I mean, for me, what I, when I got it in my hand and I like opened it up to, I think it's your introduction, which is labeled, um, uh, Tomato Canning Feminist.
I was like, Okay, we're in the right, we're in the right camp. We're in the right camp . But I think what's so interesting is because when I picked your book up is I got a little bit of a sense of like, what. Like what you were trying to say in that tomato canning feminist piece, because I have been thinking so deeply, um, as a person who has been in and out of the marketing field, on the project management side, in and out of the like, kind of corporate agency capitalist nonsense, Um, but also being an entrepreneur, being a person that believes that like liberation is something that is, is like going to be my life's work and feeling so deeply even though no one under, I mean people understand it now, but my mom still laughs at me.
No one understands why I got the chickens. No one understands why I'm like, my happiest place is to be in my garden. Right. There was something in all of that mess where I was trying to understand what my place is and what the step forward is and is liber true liberation, specifically from the feminist movement where it was like everyone go out and get a job.
Cuz that's the wo that's women's right forward. And I think it was important for us to get there, but I think a lot of us are recognizing that the work, the true liberation, the true work, the true freedom is coming from building our own systems. And some of
Shannon: that starts at home. Yeah. A lot of it starts at home.
Yeah. Um, it, it started for me with that struggle as you, you could see it bubbling to the surface. If I was raised in this Appalachian culture that was all about food and community, um, to be prepared to accept a life as an academic. And I thought that was going to let me honor. Food, community and family the best.
And I was at Cornell University and, um, I made a list one day because I was sitting at my little, in the little, they call it the bullpen, where all the grad students are, you know, shoved together with our little cubbies . And I overheard a couple female grad students, both who were extremely, really, uh, very intelligent, accomplished young women.
And they were, uh, they were taking down a female fact faculty member. I mean, really talking nasty about her. And what they were saying is, she's not gonna make it. She's not cutting it, she's not pulling her load. They're gonna cut her from the department. And as I listened to this conversation, I was thinking about this female faculty member, and I didn't know this person.
Deeply at all. But I knew some things. I knew this person had just gone through a divorce. Mm. That this was a single mom with two kids under the age of four at home. Mm, mm-hmm. and this person was in a new relationship and this person was often in a situation which they were disparaging of having to bring her children to work.
And as I listened to that, it prompted me to take out a piece of paper and make a list. And I made a list of every female academic I had worked with in my career from, uh, a two year college where I started to the four year colleges to grad school. And I listed every female faculty member. And then I listed the very simple things I wanted in my life.
I was engaged to be married at the time. And by the way, felt ashamed of that in grad school. Um, so I listed, got married, stayed married. Mm-hmm. . Um, back then I didn't have the broader sense of partnerships and things like that. I was pretty basic on this. So, got married, stayed married, got tenure. Um, and I can't remember if there was anything else in there, but those were the three things that I wanted.
Oh. And had children. And in 10 years of higher education, I realized I had not met a single woman who had those simple things that I thought I was entitled to. Mm, mm-hmm. . And, um, so I, that was, that was shocking to me to sit there. And I was hearing why like, uh, there wasn't a place. For a woman in academia, and I thought academia was going to be the most liberal, the most open-minded place for a woman to have a life.
Yeah. And um, basically that was the moment when I said, Okay, I'm gonna finish this PhD. I actually got called in by my advisor because he sensed I had a chip on my shoulder all of a sudden . And um, and I had to have this, this come to Jesus moment, if you will, where I looked at my advisor and I said, Yeah, yeah, I have a chip on my shoulder.
And um, if you think I'm just going to give my life over to keep the wheels of an institution turning for the benefit of the institution, I'm not gonna do it. But if I think that there is something that has to be researched and understood because it is the right question to ask. I will do it and I will do it from the money in my back pocket.
And I will not silicate myself to anybody. Mm-hmm. . And if you are awarding me a degree because you think I'm going to keep the institutions turning, don't award me this degree. But if you think you are giving a degree to someone who's gonna go out there and ask questions and empower me to do the research, then give me the degree.
But for the other one, don't even bother if that's what you're waiting for From me, it's not happening cuz I'm disgusted. And, um, so I, I finished, I finished my PhD and I went out and got married and had my first child, and then got pregnant and had the second child and all of a sudden realized, Oh, , I've been set up to write something I, I need, this is a question that I would not be allowed to pursue in academia.
It would be too much of a lightning rod. There was no grant funding that was going to do this. Um, and that became radical homemakers. And I traveled across the country using every bit of the qualitative research methodology that I learned in grad school, and I funded it out of my back pocket . And I said, I gotta meet these people.
I gotta know what's going on. I gotta understand this way of life and tease it apart. And I had the exact same issues that you had with the title of my book. I went into homes. In order for me to understand what I was going for, I had to understand what it wasn't, and mm-hmm. , what that book tells you. is how I defined what it was from those interviews.
What it doesn't tell you is the number of homes I walked into that I never said anything about, because it was so painful because there really was subjugation. I left some homes needing to wash, um, because I was congratulated for my daughters with their pretty blonde hair and their pretty blue eyes, and I felt like I was supposed to be breeding a supreme race or something.
And I was disgusted and, um, and I couldn't, I, I didn't wanna betray the women who opened their lives to me, but I, I learned a lot and had to write that book very carefully to express what it was without hurting the people who really helped me to understand. It was not.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. And that's like true integrity,
Shannon: you know?
Hell, I don't know. I always, I still doubt myself to this day, but Thank you .
Martissa Williams: No, I think it is, I really truly think it is cuz I mean, you know, learning what something is mostly is going through the trials and errors of figuring out what it's not, what's not in alignment with it, you know? And so I think it's interesting too, you know, having a, the radical homemaker was such a, the name alone for me was really, really was aligning bolt, because I always say that I identify as a radical, which is defined by grasping at the root.
Can we get to the root of a thing? Um, and that's my politics. Like if someone asks me what my politic political affiliation is, it's that. It's like how do we get to a root of a thing? How do we really dig into it? And I think that like this idea of radical homemaker. Removes it from just like an individual's quest of self-sufficiency or whatever to kind of this, uh, community sufficiency model, which I think is really interesting and would love to know how that has shown up for you in your life.
Like how have you put those pieces together for you?
Shannon: Well, I like, I like that you, you question that, um, selfsufficiency versus self-reliance. Uh, that's a, a really important question. And, um, when I was finding out what it was not, and that I realized that, you know, this is not about being a help meet to your husband and in service to your children.
And, um, uh, the other thing that I found it was not, I found it in, in households where joke. Where the firewood was hand cut and organized in the wood pile by diameter in length. , . I'm like, ok. Um, something here is a little crazy. Um, , I, I discovered on my journey that, um, I, one of the most important texts that I had read that prepared me to take this odyssey across the country and meet radical homemakers across the country was, uh, Betty for Dan's Feminine Mystique.
And, um, she talked about housewife syndrome. Mm-hmm. . And I thought, you know, we've talked about two groups of people who it is not right now. We've talked about sort of the whole subjugated woman. This is not a radical homemaker. Someone who is obliged to be home because the Bible tells her so, and you know, she's in service and may or may not want to and probably doesn't really in her heart wanna be there.
That's one. But then the other, Thing that it is not is the complete independent homesteader self-Sufficient family. Yeah. Um, and in both cases, when I spent enough hours talking to people, I would discover symptoms of housewife syndrome in both cases. Mm-hmm. , um, depression, spontaneous crying, questioning whether what it's all about.
And you think, um, with these heroes, uh, with these people who are like, you know, the superhero homesteader, you know, I weave my own cloth and I organize my firewood by diameter and I butcher my own hog and I grow the feed for that hog and I can everything. And I never buy anything from the grocery store and I, I am an island.
Um, those people, you know, you think, well, that's really what it's all about. So that was very confusing for me cuz I, I thought that's what it was all about. And, uh, with time those sort of . Uber homemakers, um, more Uber homesteaders. Um, as I would spend more time, they would show the same symptoms that the subjugated women would show.
Mm mm-hmm. , um, and of not knowing what it's all for, all for not having a sense of purpose. And I started sifting and sorting and trying to understand. I remember riding on the train. It was the middle of the night. It was like two in the morning on the train. I'm leaning on the glass, looking out the window, traveling to the next place, like trying to figure out what is going on here, What is going on with all these people?
Why is it some people really fit and some people don't. And I started realize there was a continuum. Um, of renouncing, reclaiming and rebuilding and renouncing was this phase that we would go for where we would like to, I'm tired of the corporate world. I'm tired of consumerism and you're throwing out all these ideas.
I'm tired of going to a job every day and, and, and, and just trying to appease my parents and I'm tired of student debt and trying to pay all this back and, and there's gotta be a better way. There's gotta be a better way. So you are renouncing all the things that our culture told us we had to do. Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. and. The next phase that they would enter would be reclaiming, and that's getting the skills. All right? Well, if I don't wanna go to a job every day, then I need to acquire some skills that enable me and perhaps my partner or my family to live outside the conventional lifestyle of having two careers.
Okay? So we need some skills there. And that reclaiming of skills could be learning how to do beekeeping, learning how to raise your own hogs, learning how to cut your own firewood, doing your own canning, uh, mending your own clothes, learning to go thrift store shopping, and figuring out how to make a, you know, really nice put together.
Look with what you can find in a thrift store. Um, learning how to cook. All of these things are reclaiming skills. And what would happen is people would start renouncing for whatever their reasons are, and then they would go into this reclaiming period and they would gather skills. Some people couldn't stop.
And they would reclaim forever and ever until they had firewood organized by diameter and length . Some people would reclaim enough to gain financial independence. So they would reclaim just enough and they might figure out that I'm a terrible beekeeper, but I'm a great cook. , and, and you try like a million different things and you pick what's gonna work for you and you let the rest go.
Yeah. And um, and maybe your house has a whole lot of dust in it. , , But, but you found out you really have a thing for fermentation and you've got beer and you've got wine and you've got cider and you've got sauerkraut and you've got kimchi. And this really makes you happy. And it really does cut down on your grocery bill.
And you trade some of that stuff for someone else who's really good with the chickens. And you trade it with someone else who does have a knack for beekeeping. And you start engaging with your whole community and building a, a social and economic web of self reliance of community. Selfsufficiency self-reliance personally, but community, self-sufficiency, whereas's on a community scale.
Yeah. And then you take that and you turn it and you say, I've got enough. I'm good. I'm ready to change the world. Mm mm-hmm. . So that's where you go from reclaiming to rebuilding, and that's the third stage. So you start with renouncing, then reclaiming, and then rebuilding, and you rebuild in different ways.
You rebuild by starting a podcast where you have conversations about what does it mean to build a workable future for everybody, Or you rebuild it by starting a business, by starting a farm, by starting a community nonprofit. You rebuild in all kinds of ways. The one thing I can guarantee is that when you rebuild, you are gonna have so much piled up laundry and dust buies, and a sign of someone who has turned outward is someone who's got.
Just enough chaos in their home to know that they're not just fixating on how perfect the firewood pile looks and how perfect the laundry is folded and how nicely the, uh, the, the hand zone garments are put together. There's a degree of imperfection. Messiness, because you really turning outward and you're saying, Yeah, I got just enough here.
I got just enough here. Just start building a whole new world that we can all live in happily. And so it goes renounce, reclaim, rebuild. And then what I learned is when you're in it long enough, you probably start all over again and go back and forth between all those phases. I remember going through this and thinking, Wow, I'm in the rebuilding phase because, you know, I'm, I have home, I'm homeschooling my children and I'm working in my family business and I'm writing books.
So, hey, I'm rebuilding. And then. And then stuff just happened. Uh, I found out that my youngest daughter was visually impaired and I had to go all the way back to the drawing board. I had to retreat from everything and figure out how to get her the help that she needed and had to rebuild the skills all over again, and then turn outward again,
And then, you know, my mom had heart surgery and my dad had surgeries and I had to like turn inward again. So you don't have to stay in anyone, but you have to flow between. But you start to recognize if you do stay in one place for too long, um, particularly in that reclaiming phase, uh, you aren't necessarily moving forward and changing the world.
And you might end up with that depression and that despair because, because you're not connecting what you're doing with the broader world.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. That's so important. And, and I would say that like if you stay in the ren, the renouncing phase, You just get sour. So much anger, right? .
Shannon: No, and believe me, nobody wants to have drinks with you cuz you're a drag.
Martissa Williams: right. There's way too much, there's way too much anger to be, to even work towards anything in that face. Yeah. That's such a, it's such a good, um, framework to think of it and also reckon it gives so much space for us to just be human and to be in the process of being in flow, you know, to be going back and forth and to iterate on a thing and come back.
And, and I think that's so important because there's, I feel like, you know, especially in the age of social media, there's this idea that you arrive somewhere, like you arrive liberator, you arrive to the perfect homestead, you arrive, whatever, and that. It's a crock of shit, to be honest. ,
Shannon: you know, you arrive so you can make everybody else feel bad for not being where you are.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. And there's like, you know, what is the iterative process and letting that be okay, that we're human and we get to keep going back and, and, and getting better. Yeah. That's such a good thing. Um, in your, your book, uh, Redefining Rich, you talk and you kind of start the book with the quality of life statement.
Um, and so I'm kind of interested in your transition to being like, Okay, I can't do the corporate academia world. I need to be doing something else. I need to go back to my farm, to my homeland. I need to work with my family. I need to live in this intergenerational space. I know it's not easy. Like I, I'm making that same decision, have made it multiple times in my life and going to probably like, continue making it.
Um, and so I'm interested for the listeners who are like, Okay, what's the limbo for me in your book? It was like, okay, having that quality of life statement, but I would love to hear you talk about it.
Shannon: Um, so you want me to explore how I, how I made that transition to, from being an academic to being this entrepreneur in that's, The land and the community.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. And like what was that emotional? Cuz there's grief. I, I know for me, in my experience, there's a lot of grief in being like, Okay, I'm not gonna do the status quo, I'm gonna like carve out this new path. There's so much grief in that and I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting it to be all rainbows and sunshine and we're doing a different thing.
But, you know, I recognize that there's so much, um, there's fear cuz you don't know where it's gonna go, where it's gonna land you. And there's just grief of, of the unknown too.
Shannon: Yeah. Well, when I initially decided to come back, um, one thing that served in my favor that nobody realized was that I have a head for numbers.
Um, I was a creative writing major and then I went on and got my PhD and everybody thought I was sort of, you know, out there with all about the theories and didn't know a lot about practice and, um, No one ever realized is I had a compulsion to just always be crunching numbers. Like I, I would soothe myself by with a calculator , you know, so people like check their phones randomly.
I'm not a calculator . And so I, I finished this PhD and my parents, um, uh, my husband and I had bought this house that you see behind me was, it was a cabin, uh, not too far from the farm and it had been really cheap and the opportunity was to go, um, my husband used to work for LL Bean and there were more jobs with people for people with my background, which was sustainable ag and community development away from here, definitely away from here.
And, um, my parents were building the farm and they had developed a nice sort of small farm with a small farm income on it. And, uh, I was interviewing, I was interviewing for jobs in Nebraska. I was applying for jobs in New Hampshire. And, um, I started adding up if my husband and I were both lucky enough to score full-time jobs, I started backing out insurance taxes and the cost of having to, um, buy rather than grow our own food.
And the cost of having two vehicles, the cost of having wardrobes, professional wardrobes. I mean, you know, before I come in here, I wear the same tank top every single day. I have this, I keep it hung on my bed, on my bedroom door. So if I have to go on a podcast, it's halfway neat. , you know, I really don't have a lot of clothing at all.
And it's like, well, okay. So there's, I have to attribute some, some value to looking presentable. And, um, when I started adding it up, I couldn't make the numbers. Hmm. Even though it was two full-time jobs when I backed everything else out, and Bob and I didn't have children yet. So when I did that, I realized, um, if I just stayed here in this cabin, which we were able to afford, it was, we bought it in a real estate depression.
And, um, and we worked with the farm. Um, my parents never expected anyone to come back and really work on the farm. Well, one time my father thought maybe his son would, but , um, uh, they weren't expecting the girl of the family to do this. And, um, I called them up and I said, Look, I had, it was just days after defending my dissertation and I said, I can't afford to get a job.
And my father was just dead silent on the other end of the line. And I was like, Look, dad. And, and my dad was a professor of ag okay? And, and I said, And he had been seeing, you know, the loss of farming. You know, he was like in a dinosaur profession. It was a dying profession. And unless you could become a professor of a dying profession, well then, then you had an income.
But I said, Look, I'm, I'm adding it up and the numbers don't work. They really don't work. I don't think I can afford to get a job. And he was very quiet. And he said, I said, I honestly think that the best future for my husband and me is to come home and to work with you and to go without employment. And my husband had been fired from his job.
So, uh, and he was kind of marked, it's, he, we weren't gonna find employment in Ssha County. Then the only way we could do it is to like jump in with both feet into the family farm, which mom and dad had only developed as a small part-time income. So he was very quiet and then he said, Okay. You can do it, but you cannot take any money out of our pockets.
You have to build it. You can use the land as a base, as a resource base, but you can't take money because we can't pay you. And I said Deal, , . But, um, you asked me at the beginning of this conversation what made you who you are and what led me to. Idea that, yeah, this is a deal, was Ruth and Sanford, they never had more than a few thousand dollars per year.
Um, my husband, I had taken up enough. I mean, I was, I had a PhD and I was painting people's roofs. I was pulling people's weeds. We were mowing people's lawns. We didn't care as long as we made the next mortgage payment. We paid the house off in three years. We just like, wow. Put everything toward it. And, but you know, it wasn't a lot of money that we'd borrowed.
I think we'd borrowed maybe $40,000 at, at that time there wasn't much. Um, and, but we were working for 10 bucks an hour. Whew. Big wages, and, um, uh, I just, Realized, um, from growing up with Ruth and Sanford, how to really make things work. I had a tradition, as you said, a sense of place. And with that sense of place comes a set of skills that a lot of people don't have.
When you move and you change homes every three years to follow the next paycheck, um, you don't develop this. But I knew about foraging for blackberries in summer, and I knew about canning tomatoes and canning peaches. I knew that I could buy a bushel of tomatoes at that time. I could buy a bushel for $14 and I could put away, if I bought two bushels, you know, that would be.
Tomato sauce to really feed us really easily for the entire year. I knew about boiling bones and making broth and saving my leftovers and my scraps. And from growing up, eating at Ruth and Sanford's table, I didn't really have any need to be going out and buying things. I learned how to produce rather than consume because that, that sense of place that I had had trained me to be part of the fabric that's here.
Mm. And even though the culture was, and the push was to drive youth away, having grown up with these two people who had never walked into a shopping mall who had never left, you know, they never really traveled more than seven miles away. That gave me that skill. Yeah. And so when your parents say, We can't pay you money, I was like, Dude, no problem.
You know, I took enough jobs using that PhD to kind of get enough cash flowing. We did these odd jobs and then we really made up the rest by having these skills, and then we built. Into the family business. And I looked for things that the farm was throwing out. They were throwing out a lot of fat because nobody valued the fat.
So I would render it into lard and to tall. I made soap, I made skin scare products. We made candles and we would market those things. Um, we, I wrote cookbooks using all of the different meats that we grew on the farm and developed another income from the cookbooks. And, um, we just kept growing and building and growing and building.
And I talk about it in, in, um, redefining rich and radical homemakers. I really talk about this non-monetary income that came from having a sense of place. And then, uh, I, we started because we were never moving, we started to build wealth and it was actually. Shocking. Uh, one day I turned around and looked at it.
Um, I had, I started little enterprises, you know, I took the bees wax. We started keeping bees. We saved up money to buy beehives. And then we took the bees wax and we took the, the, the lard. And we made lip balm because I noticed I had a lip balm habit and I was always putting chapstick on. So I would sell lip balm.
I took the money from, from, from making lip balm, bought the materials to start making soap, and then we started having a profit for, and everything kind of stacked. And then we started taking my, my parents' meat and bringing it down to a farmer's market. And then we would just take a commission on the meat.
And, and then that built up. And, um, we self-published these books. I put, pulled together just enough money to, to, to self-publish ra radical homemakers. And well that blew into a hit. And, and, and so then I saved all that money. And then, um, we actually ran into the situation where, We were going to mom and dad on the farm and saying, Look, we need to hire help because I'm too busy to, you know, Bob and I were both too busy to do the daily farm work.
So we, we hired a herd manager and, um, along this journey, uh, we realized that the herd manager was really great. We wanted to bring her in full-time. She needed housing. And so we said, I guess it's time to expand the farm and expand the land base of the farm. Well, as I mentioned, I grew up with a sense of place and that sense of place also came with an economic, an ability to live at what the local economy, uh, provided for local skills.
Mm. Which is a way of saying I didn't make big money. Mm-hmm. , I could live in this ecosystem very comfortably, but my husband and I did not earn big money. We earned small farmer income and that meant. That when it came time to expand the farm, what had happened all around us. As I said, I, we bought this house in a real estate depression, so we didn't pay much money for it and we owned it.
But when it came time to expand the farm, to pay the herd manager to get housing options and grow outward, we couldn't compete because downstate, uh, money that all the real estate had gone out of our income range. Mm-hmm. . Um, so by trying to grow outward, we were out of the game. Mm. And we couldn't, we couldn't get larger.
And, uh, we were looking at farms that were 300,000, $400,000 that we were trying to merge with, uh, the existing farm. And financially, um, I was running the numbers because by that point my dad had started to trust me. Like, this girl knows her numbers . And I was like, We can't, we can't get a return on investment.
We're gonna be crippled, We're gonna have all these problems. Um, and then, uh, we had been involved in. In a movement locally. They had tried to close our local post office, um, the US Postal Service that said, it's a rural post office. It's not generating enough income. And I had led the charge by writing stories about this post office saying, This is the only community center we're left with here.
You can't take our post office and led the charge. Well, that postal building, they ended up not closing it because we , we raised up such a stink about it. Um, but the building had became a white elephant in the town. Um, it had been on and off the market for a while. It had a, an old garage attached to it, which had been the town's fire hall house, and it no longer was, they'd moved to another building and it had an, the owners had an apartment upstairs and a little apartment in the back, but it just wasn't moving.
Nobody wanted this thing because, well, it needed a roof and this garage was in bad shape. But I realized one day that for. One quarter to one third of the price of a farm, I could buy a building in our hamlet, which everyone in the Hamlet was trying. We've been trying to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps.
We had been marked for so many rapacious development. I say that in air quotes efforts that, uh, were basically taking advantage of our low income and our marginalization. Um, I, and so people around here were starting to realize, look, we gotta do something. We gotta create change. And we had, at this point, we'd really developed our on-farm markets at the farm.
And this building was two and a half miles away in the hamlet, in the sort of the community, the, the center of the village, if you will, if you'll even give West Fulton the, the right to be call itself a village . And, um, my husband and I realized with all these little micro enterprises and wealth building things we'd done, we had enough money to buy that building.
And, um, Then it was time to really start a business . And so we bought this building and um, we, we took our savings, we took some investments that, um, that my husband had, and we, uh, created a cafe, a community center, and, um, really, and then we, uh, fixed up the apartments. We turned one into an Airbnb one into a full-time residence.
We got the post office income and we then really started magnifying our wealth and what we could do in the community. And we used that cafe as a farm to table cafe where our farm products and then the other local farm products would be featured on the menu. Um, we went to Seattle. We trained as baristas.
Oh my god. We drank so much caffeine that we were there for 10 days. It was crazy. Um, and we put in a co, an espresso bar. and then we developed an honor store where people could just come and buy their stuff while it was open 24 7. And we just really became business people. So, but we were leveraged by those skills that we got by having a sense of place, of being from a place and being able to live within that economic system.
And that's how we had to do it, um, to work around because we never had those big incomes. Yeah.
Martissa Williams: Um, while you were speaking, you spoke about how, um, the house can be a center of either production or a center of consume. Of consumption. Of consumption.
Shannon: Yes. ,
Martissa Williams: and you talk about this in your book, that I think is really, I think that was like an aha moment to me in radical homemakers when you're speaking about that.
Where it's like you can either have a home where you go and you consume all the things, or you can be producing stuff. Um, and then reading your book, Redefining Rich, where you're talking about, where you say, um, Overwork leads us to spend more. Putting those two things together. I was like, Yeah. Yes.
Because if you're overworked, you're so tired, you've gotta buy more stuff. That's like, you've gotta buy the, the go to the restaurant every day for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You gotta send your kids to school or to after school projects and all these other things. But, um, I'd love to hear you talk about that a little bit for our
Yeah. Uh, one of the best financial improvements I made when I came to the helm of my family's business was putting a stop to the over. Um, because we did start to realize that is it costs you in terms of injury, it costs you in terms of sickness, it costs you, in terms of having to outsource what you do in your home.
Um, you know, one of my greatest therapies is, is cleaning my house, . Um, but if I'm too tired, I, I can't do that. Um, but overwork, um, also puts us in a place. Um, I noticed one time, um, when I was particularly tired, uh, I would get flyers in the mail and, uh, like catalogs with it. Remember it was for a while, I'd get a catalog every year.
Um, back when they sent catalogs, , am I dating myself, um, showing outdoor furniture, and it was for outdoor living. And I was like, looking at this and I was dreaming about, I need to get this, I need to get this outdoor living room where, you know, it was the, the outdoor room and it was like screened and you had these big couches that were overstuffed and the the indoors was moved outdoors.
And I'm looking at this thing and then I sort of went, Oh my gosh, , I, I just wanna sit . And I was like, looking for thousands and thousands of dollars to buy my outdoor living room. But all I really wanted to do was sit down. I know and what they, So, and that's what marketing, I mean, you're the marketer. You can probably speak to this more than I can marketing is, is speaking to the it, it's selling you a product, but speaking to a deeper need.
Yeah. And I realized at that moment, The deeper need was to go outside and sit down and breathe. And, uh, my husband and I actually started this practice of going into the woods and with our morning coffee, and we have the living room furniture that we use more than anything else in our house are the, these things called crazy creek chairs.
There are these foldable, uh, cheap chairs. I don't know, maybe they're up to 40 bucks now. When, when we got ours, they were like 15, 20 bucks that you can stuff in a backpack. , and, and you go out in the woods and you can sit down in the woods with your chair. Did I just do a product endorsement? Maybe you can.
Um, and we sit by a stream or we would move around, You know, some days we would wanna sit up in the fields and overlook all the mountains and watch the foliage. Some days we wanna go find a pond and we sit in the pond by the pond. Some days we wanna sit by a stream, sit by a waterfall. Sometimes it's cocktails or it's morning coffee.
But we realized we needed to sit. We needed to sit down and, and, and take what was on offer in our lives. And when you do that and you rest, amazing things happen. Number one, divorce doesn't happen. , you build your relationship and divorce is expensive. Um, I've heard. Um, but you're, you're building your relationships and you're taking joy out of your life.
And when you're taking joy out of your life, well the next ad that shows up for an outdoor living room really seems really silly cuz you're like, Why would I wanna clutter up my life with taking care of that stuff when I can just go sit outside? Yeah. And then you start to realize when you're out there and you're checking out and you're resting, that's also where creativity happens and, and inspiration happens.
So by resting in, checking out the default mode, network in the brain kicks in and you start solving problems. And when you solve problems, you make better business decisions. I've learned, um, in, I've done a lot of farmer education in my life. I've done a lot of business to business education, and sometimes people come into farms and businesses having made their money elsewhere, and they come in with stupid money, like stupid quantities of money.
It is such a handicap in making a good business because they learn one to work hard and two, to throw money at every single problem. Mm-hmm. . And what I had to learn in my business was, no, you have to not work hard because you will break, you'll have an injury, you'll cost yourself, and two, you need to rest because that's where creative solutions come from that are really tied to the land, to the quality of life, to what you're going after.
So you don't wanna come in with that stupid money. And when you're resting, you figure out the solution that doesn't take stupid money. You figure out the solution that is organic, that is creative, and you have a lot of fun doing it so that rest just becomes so financially and socially and personally and spiritually critical to a great life.
Martissa Williams: Yeah. You speak about it as part of your, um, compensation. Yes. Which I think is so, such a good point where it's like you can either make the $300,000 a year, that's stupid money. Right. , like, you know, or I
Shannon: don't know, some people might think that's hardship, but,
Martissa Williams: or, you know, you can have the joy and the time and the rest.
You know, like I, I think that that, that as the compensation models is, was such a, such a strong point and something I don't think a lot of us think about. Cause we wanna buy all the things and get all the things, but then you gotta pay. Like I think about that with like big houses. I'm like, if you buy a big house, that means you got a big mortgage.
You also have to spend big time trying to clean that house, furnish that house, do all the things. Um, also, you probably spend less time with the people who live in that house, cuz everybody can have their own corner. , you know, and you know what, instead, you're not go, You're gonna be spending all the time cleaning and all the, the time trying to make the money to pay the mortgage instead of having the rest and the joy of being in a beautiful home with the people you love, you know?
Shannon: I think that's, Or being outside in, in the woods. Yes. It's so nice. I, I love that. I never feel like when I'm sitting in the woods, if I sit in my house, I see the dust, I see the conflict, , . But if I go out in the woods, I don't see any of that. Everything's clean or clean and, you know, it's like, it's beautiful out there, right?
We go out all seasons in all kinds of weather. It doesn't matter. It's like, wow. It's beautiful no matter what. Yeah. Um, but to have that power, yes, that is part of my compensation. And, um, I talk about it in Redefining Rich how I used to have this. This like hair shirt victim mentality. Like, Oh, I'm a poor farmer, feels so bad for me.
I've been charged with saving the land and saving my place and saving my food culture. And I wore this, you know, like a big badge in front of me. And, um, part of my awakening was to realize now I'm not a victim at all. I'm really not a victim because, but the way the farming work culture goes, I am, you know, we're supposed to work crazy hours and, and earn very little money.
And we're supposed to spend a lot of time telling people that we're poor farmers. And in fact, we have a joke in our family that if you wanna wine cell lock a couple of farmers in a basement, . Um, and I, I had to sort of walk away from all that and realize, wait a minute, yes, it is my job to steward the soil and the water.
That is my job. But that is also my compensation. I get to enjoy it and I get to play in this, and I do every single day. I am out there in those woods, in those pastures. I am touching, feeling, smelling, experiencing the benefit of that as part of my compensation. And yeah, my nap is part of my compensation.
Yes. And the fact that I am have this time to sit up there for two hours, my family has realized don't try to call me between the hours of seven and nine. you won't find me. I am not in cell phone reach. Just give it up. And, but usually it pays off. You know, I come back and, you know, the problem that was weighing me down when I left.
I come back and I, I have a new idea, I have fresh perspective and it really helps to get everything stronger and keep everything vibrant and refreshed. So, yeah, that is, that's part of the income. It's part of the compensation and it's part of what keeps the business fresh and dynamic. Mm-hmm. . It's really, really critical.
Martissa Williams: I love that. I wanna take a little bit of a pivot and talk about your writing world and, you know, how your writing practice has shifted and changed in this process of becoming, you know, a full-time farmer, being a mom, being a full business owner, all of these things and how it, um, adds to that experience as well.
Shannon: Um, well maybe it needs to be talked about like an addiction,
Um, uh, I make sense of my world through my pen and, um, I am deeply flawed as a human being. I am prone to being neurotic to suffering anxiety, um, and to like fixating on problems. And over the course of my life, I have learned that I work that through with my pen. And, um, so I used to think I wanted to be a writer, and my husband laughed at me because it seemed like I didn't actually want to write, I wanted to have written books, So, and been Famous
That was like early on in my hubris days. But he kept saying to me, You need to be in it for the writing, Honey , you need to. And I didn't. I didn't understand that, um, because I was a very business focused person. And I thought, No, I, I have to do, I, I knew some part of me had to write, but I was, I kept worrying about sales and getting the book contract or getting the agent and all that process.
And, um, then I started realizing when you are living in the sticks in rural America,
the publishing world is stacked against you. Mm-hmm. , um, you are a marginal voice. You as one person told me, Honey, you're going nowhere cuz you don't do lunch. Um, I wasn't connected, I didn't have those kinds of connections and, um, I, I wanted to disagree with that person powerfully, but it's true. Um, and what I started to recognize was, even though the game was stacked against me, I still needed to write.
And that's when I started to break through and become a real writer. Um, and I started to recognize that I have to get up. Um, in, during the growing season, I needed to get up once a week and, and tell a story. And it wasn't because I needed to build an audience. It wasn't because I needed to please a publisher.
It was because I needed to make sense of my world. Mm. And I started doing it slowly and then more and more frequently. And I built, um, a readership from that who, of people who understand that, you know, uh, I tried to be an expert. I wasn't very good at being an expert. I'm very good at being sort of lost, clueless, and finding my way through story and narrative.
And I have people who join me on that journey. And every now and then I come up with an nice golden gem where I give three tips, or five tips or 10 tips, and those get lots of play. But most of the weeks it's me muddling through, like, you know, okay, I had an argument with my mother. Let me figure out what's the deeper meaning here and make sense of it.
And when I do those things, when I do that kind of writing, Um, the anxiety goes away because I start to understand, and writing for me becomes like prayer. It's like connecting with, with spirit. And, um, it's a way for me to explore what's going on inside of me to connect with something that's more powerful than I am and, and, and put it out there.
Um, and then every now and then I get gifted a book and I, I, I don't have any other way of saying it, but when a, the idea for a book comes and, um, and you are, I'm, I'm, I'm researching absolutely everything I look at is with the lens of that book. And so everything looks fresh and new and interesting and confusing, and that it's a beautiful, chaotic confusion where I know that it's just pure faith.
If I just stay with this long enough, I'm going to make connections and make sense of something. And there's this intuitive path of what do I need to. Pick up to read, to understand what, what do I have to follow to, to make sense of something. And, um, and those books come out of me and I can't remember anything except those books like it.
My life is just all about it. And, and the process happens and, um, it comes forward and it's a powerful and meaningful and lovely experience. And then we get to publishing and then it all sort of, or, or your social media . And then I fall off the wagon and, and, and I truly become what my husband said, I needed to become a writer as I really am about the writing.
And then everything else is just a mess. , I haven't worked out that part. I, I am not on social media any longer. Um, I do newsletters and people who connect with me through my newsletters and, um, and that's all great, but. . It's true. I still don't do lunch and . I, I continue to be this writer who's full of passion and joy, and I have a life where, um, I manage to keep all the finances going and the writing supports me spiritually and helps me understand my life.
Um, but you're not gonna see me on a bestseller list, and you're not gonna see me as a, an influencer on Instagram, and I'm probably never gonna have my miniseries or whatever it is that happens. I'm not gonna get a documentary, but I'll be here happily pushing away, you know, at 3:00 AM in the morning before the farm starts, before it's time to homeschool kids with my pen.
Martissa Williams: Mm. I love. I love, I love that like, there is that process of like glamorizing where you're like, I'm gonna have the book deal and the this and the that, and then like moving all the way to like, I'm just gonna write because I need to, to live. You know? Yeah.
Shannon: Yeah. I, I tried really hard a couple years for a couple years to just like put myself out there and, um, you know, shoot videos in the cafe and really hit the Instagram stuff really hard and really grow that and, and do videos.
But I gotta tell you, Marse, for me to show up right now and to be on this camera, it is exhausting. Mm-hmm. , I mean, I am enjoying talking to you. If we could flip this camera off and I could just pick up a cup of coffee. Well, actually it's cocktail hour. If I could pick up a cocktail, it would be, it would be great.
Um, but to, to appear physic. in front of people is not who I am. Mm. And um, I also started realizing with social media, um, I'm about taking ownership of life. I am about, um, connecting with a sense of place I am about, um, our mission on the farm is to nourish and restore family, community, and planet. We want people to connect face to face, to, to touch each other, to hug to, um, To taste what good food is, to feel nourished by that.
Yeah. Uh, what I started learning, um, I read a fabulous book called Stolen Focus, and if you're looking for another book to cover on your podcast, I think this is really a book. To do it with, but stolen focus is fabulous. But I started realizing with this book that if I'm about all these things, I'm never gonna win with social media.
I'm not gonna beat the algorithms. I'm not dramatic enough. I'm not putting people in their place. I am not insulting, I am not disgusting. , I mean, I'm not, I there is just really, um, I'm not, uh, twinkly enough. And, um, none of the things that are gonna catch attention are gonna trip those algorithms. If I'm really about human to human connection and about the good news about people caring for each other, it's not controversial enough.
It's just not gonna trip the algorithms. So, um, I started to. I'm not putting my energy there. Mm-hmm. , I am putting my energy into telling the stories that feed me, that feed my readers, being imperfect, not really worrying about whether I got the mascara right, . And, um, whether I've got the lighting perfect.
Uh, it's just, it's just not going to succeed on this body and, um, I'm not going for it. And, um, so I'm just back to being a plane writer and who really loves her life. Mm-hmm. , and again, that's not an exciting story when it comes to. Meta and Instagram and TikTok. But it's an exciting story for me because I'm learning and growing every single day.
And, um, it lets me, since I've walked away from that, I just tune into my kids, to my neighbors, to the community that comes into my cafe. Mm-hmm. to my parents. There is so much to listen, to learn, and, um, and then I can experience that and tell about that with my pen, my plain old pen or clacking away at my keyboard at three in the morning
So that's where I'm at with that as a writer.
Martissa Williams: I love that. I think that, um, yeah, the social media thing is, is, uh, it's a conundrum and for especially a lot of entrepreneurs, um, but my critique is always like, you know, I know, I find it, it pulls me so far away from the present moment and what's real in my life and has me thinking about all the imaginary things that could be and should be, and I would be better if, Yeah.
And stepping away allows me to be so grateful for what. Just is
Shannon: right. You know, uh, it's been an interesting journey. And I should say I wasn't a genius who stepped away from social media. I actually got hacked . There's not here. I got hacked it. I have a piece on my blog called The Hacker from Hanoi. Um, I got hacked so badly.
We had a couple thousand followers on, on Facebook with two diff with a established account and my writing account and some hacker got in. I don't know what they posted, but I had to go through a digital tribunal and where Facebook computers couldn't figure out that I was in upstate New York. And whatever this person posted was in from Hanoi, Vietnam,
And they went for the bank accounts. They went for everything. Oh my gosh. Um, and uh, and then I realized, um, there's just no going back. And I had to figure. Well, can I do it? Because, uh, I was always very angry on Thursday mornings, cuz I call it social Media Day . And I would try to plan all my posts and do it and my kids would talk about, Oh my God, it's Thursday.
Oh God, stay away from mom. And so, um, I got hacked in January and I had to ask the question cuz I realized in having, actually I started the new year with this prayer. May, may I learn to see what's holding me back and let it go. And then a couple weeks later I got hacked. . And I thought maybe this is my prayer answer.
Maybe this is what I truly want. And so rather than fighting it, I rolled with it. And um, I said, Okay, I've got a business, I've got three generations and I don't know how many, maybe we're up to 10 employees now with this business. Can I, can I keep it going without social media? . And, um, what I did was I did a cash flow analysis of the business and I said, All right, well, where are the months where I do have a cash flow issue?
How do I address the cash flow issue with a targeted mailing with newsletters? Um, and it, it was sort of just like, Let's circle back to the beginning of this conversation where we talked about renouncing and reclaiming and rebuilding, and that was for radical homemakers. But I started to realize this whole digital world is the same thing.
We're all kind of, we're not reclaiming, we're building digital skills. And in radical homemaking, you reclaim skills, a lot of skills, and you try a lot of different things and then you decide what's gonna work for you. Mm-hmm. . And what I started to realize with, um, what I was doing in terms of my online presence is the same thing.
So I've got really good skills when it comes to doing cash flow projections and realizing, okay, in certain months it's really quiet and I have a hard time making cash flow. I am going to. At different times of the year. Simple postcards with specials. Mm-hmm. To, to bring in, uh, attention with that. And then I'm gonna work with my digital newsletter.
And, uh, so it's four snail mail mailers a year. And then I had some surplus products. So I did giveaways to get addresses to build my, my mailing address. And, um, just was very, while it was quiet in January was very, especially since I wasn't on social media, I wasn't distracted. , I built this plan on how to continue marketing my family's business without, And darned if it didn't work.
we are having one of our best years ever. Wow. And I am not on social media at all. Our cafe is up 20%. People are still coming in. They're finding us, they're discovering us. And it was just a matter of like, and, and the money. Then went to the local printer, , it went to my daughter to help me draw clever postcards.
She used her iPad to come up with some, you know, cute postcards and we're doing really well. And it's like, Wow, I don't even miss it. And then the creative energy went back into the podcast. I have the Hearth of Sat Bush Hollow podcast where I tell my stories every week it went into the newsletter. Um, the Hearth of Sat Bush Hollow podcast only runs during the growing season.
But then during the year, um, I still do weekly newsletters and I just would take one picture a week of something that meant something to me. I'd talk a little bit about what was going on on the farm and scaled it back to. What worked for me and my family and I feel so much more comfortable not being, you know, not having to be an exhibitionist.
Yeah. Um, because that just doesn't work for me. I think there are, there are people who probably are more extroverted than I am who can do that and can build energy, but for me it was a constant depletion of my energy and I had to take the introverted route to keeping my family in business going. And once I honored that, oh my God, it's just been so much better.
Martissa Williams: It's been wonderful. I also feel like it's very, um, for lack of a better word, and I use it all the time, but it's very liberatory to create our own systems. Like create our, I mean, cuz at the end of the day, we're so reliant on. Facebook, Instagram, the social media platforms, who can take our stuff at any time, who can, we can get hacked and we're locked out of our stuff.
But to create our own system where we're just like, All right, I'm gonna send out a mailer. I'm gonna, you know, I started last week for Naked, We started, um, putting up flyers in local, uh, cafes and boutiques. And, and what was amazing about is the piece that I didn't even know I was going to have is I started building community where I was like meeting these business owners and getting to talk to them.
And, and so, you know, I think that there's so much creativity that can happen if we allow it in the
Shannon: marketing space. And I think when you talk about liberation, I think, I think that's really key here, that it, it just is so easy. Just as in radical homemaking you. You know, you had to, we had to, we were told before, you know, we became radical homemakers.
Oh, you gotta have the job, you gotta do it this way, you gotta do it, you gotta do it. Well. Um, and, and yet there are many different ways. And then, um, we are told now as small business owners, Oh, you have to have your, your social media account. You gotta build your followings. We're told as writers, we're told as content creators, yes, you have to solicit constant adulation and followings and, you know, , they really care whether I live or die after these people.
I don't know . Um, but I know I have this, uh, and, and we're told that's how you're successful. Um, but we can't do it that way. Yeah, because. Personally as a writer, it was killing me. It was just causing me to wither in my spirit. I do have a Patreon account and people give to my Patreon. I have a small cadre of writer of, of readers who really care about what I have to say, who are, feel like they gain something from what I do.
And it is no longer about me being famous now. It's true. Yeah. I probably am never gonna hit the best tell, they're the best seller list. Um, but I really do have these powerful readers who care and they're part of a reading community. And, um, I've been through, um, I don't, I don't know what you're aware of, but my business, um, has been through and family has been through a lot this year.
Um, we were actually targeted in a, in a shooting, um, which is, you know, another story altogether. But, uh, I've worked at building this community and darned if that community didn't come forward and lift our business up and help us carry forward. Um, another thing that hit us this year is my, my husband developed, um, uh, high risk prostate cancer and, um, darned if that reading reader community didn't come forward and just surround us.
We had five offers. We have to go to New York City, uh, this winter for his treatment. And we've had five offers of places to stay. Mm. Um, so that we can keep ourselves together, uh, keep our family together and get through this. And with readers just sending us stories, sending us research. Part of this, it ties into radical homemaking, it ties into redefining rich where you have to understand what wealth is.
And if you understand, wealth is the New York Times best seller and the half million dollar book deal and the movie contract, that's such a narrow parameter of wealth. Mm-hmm. . But if you talk about wealth in terms of, um, connectedness of, of community, of being able to eat well, of having people around you who love you, well then, even though I only have a little tiny segment of readers, or I only have a tiny family run business with a tiny customer base, they provide absolutely everything I need.
I am able to relocate to New York City for five weeks. I. , every employee who's ever worked on our farm has offered to come back to help me keep it running while I'm gone. Mm. I have offers of places to stay so that I, I don't have to come up with money for this. Um, I have all the food that I need, that my family needs.
We have tons of support of people who are coming in to help me keep my house going, to help me keep my family together. So there's not a price that you could pay Yeah. That would enable us to get through these hard times. No New York Times bestseller could have ever generated what I needed. Um, so it's true that the commercial world, the consumerist world, wants us to think we have to earn more money, that we have to be more prestigious, that we have to be more famous, but really we don't.
All of the wealth is available when we take the time to connect heart to heart, to sort of be within our dharma, if you will, to be connected in doing what we've been called here to do, even if it doesn't make us the most famous and lusted after, or or prestigious person in the world, even if it just means, yeah.
Um, I'm the lady who on Saturday mornings is making that croissant that you really love and my kid is the one who's pouring a really good cup of coffee. And I'm gonna cook your home fries in lad and I'm gonna cook it from lard that I made from, you know, our own pigs. And I'm gonna make you a fresh egg and you can sit there and talk with your neighbor and feel like you're part of something that's more than just your isolated world.
And I know I've given to you spiritually, and if you've come and you, you read my work, you listen to the Hearth e Podcast or you read a book and you connect with me, then I did my work. and I don't have to be a number one anything. Yeah. I have to fulfill my work, my calling with my heart and my spirit and, and there will be enough in the world for me to get what I need in return.
Martissa Williams: That's a perfect place. To begin to wrap up. a perfect place. Um, where can people support you, find you? Um,
Shannon: sure. Yeah. Um, well, if they go over to the blog, uh, You can find it. There's, there's two domain names, either sap bush.com, sap bush, like a sugarbush sap bush.com or the radical homemaker.net. Uh, you can find all about the family farm, You can find about our different enterprises.
You can also sign up there to get the free Redefining Rich workbook, which talks about some of the things we talked about in the podcast. It talks about the quality of life statement. It also talks about something we didn't talk about, which is, uh, your income streams and how to work your income streams so that you can be more secure, um, and about learning to say no and set your boundaries.
If you want that workbook, you can find it over there by signing up for that. You can, um, get any of my books anywhere, books are sold, um, redefining Rich or Radical Homemakers. You can also tune into the podcast, The Hearth of Set, Bush Hollow Podcast. There are a lot of episodes up there. And then in the winter when I'm quiet and sleeping, um, you can still check in the email@example.com or the radical homemaker.net and see what's going on.
Sign up for the newsletter, get my little musings each week. All, all of those are available. Awesome.
Martissa Williams: Highly recommend, uh, Shannon's books and podcasts. I love listening to your podcast. It's just, it's different from other podcasts that I listen to, which are like, more like informational or I don't know, just something different like yours is like listening to a book, listening to a story.
I get to kind of tune in. Um, it's really lovely for my listening. Thank you.
Shannon: I appreciate it, Marsa. That means a lot.
Martissa Williams: Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, and then what is lighting you up right now?
Shannon: my kids and my customer. Um, I used to be scared of teenagers. really scared of teenagers. If I saw teenagers someplace, like I would walk to the other side of the store, , they, they move in gangs and they're just really scary. They dress weird. , I don't know. And, um, now all of a sudden I have these teenagers and, um, they are been so damaged.
So many of their, my kids' friends, they've been so damaged by this pandemic and the way we live now. And, um, my kids, because we're coming out of this pandemic, I hope, , uh, we had a great time living in isolation. I actually got a third child, uh, during the pandemic. Um, so now I have three kids. Uh, this one needed, needed food and shelter and education.
So we, we took 'em on, um, , but, uh, They're these kids now, my, my teens are bringing more teenagers in and I'm seeing their pain and I'm also seeing how beautiful they are. Oh my God, they are so beautiful. They're beautiful in their anger about what kind of world has been left to them. They're beautiful in their wisdom.
And, um, they're coming into the cafe and they're hanging around at the espresso bar. And what I'm loving is they're beautiful and they're estranged, but they wanna, they want. This thing that I didn't know teenagers want, they wanna feel connected and part of a place too . I just thought they were scary and they're not.
They're really wonderful. And I'm watching my customers who come week after week, connect with these kids. Mm. And and they're talking to them. They're offering them jobs. If they want jobs or they're just caring about them. They're, they're reaching out beyond their comfort zones and, and caring for these young people who really are the future.
And so I have customers in their seventies, in their eighties, in their sixties and fifties, and then these teenagers and. They're finding this way to, to be part of a place together, and that's lighting me up. That's
Martissa Williams: amazing. Thank you so much, Shannon, for
Shannon: being on the podcast. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Now I'll go have my cocktail.
Martissa Williams: What did you think, dear ones, I love, love, love being able to talk to the amazing guests that I get to have on this podcast, and I love being able to share with you. So please, if you are not already, follow us on Instagram at Let's Get Naked and keep the conversation going. We'd love to know what your thoughts, your feelings, your responses are to this podcast.
So please keep this conversation going. Please share the conversation so that we can get into more ears and spread the gospel of liberation further and deeper. And then also just subscribe to this podcast so that you can, one, support us and keep doing this work and getting us again to more ears and then also so that you'll always know when our episodes come out.
And with that, I will leave you. Until next time, my love, have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your week. Much love to you.
With The Toolbox, enjoy 12 months of unlimited access to all of our Embodied Liberation workshops, Presence Practices, group coaching & more!Don't Hesitate
There are many ways to support this podcast. Some of them are listed here.
We're grateful to everyone who listens to and discusses this podcast.
Reviews help other folks find us. Apple Podcasts is the most helpful option.