Problem City,
Problem Solved


(We’ve got trouble, trouble right here in River City)

“I am not what happened to me; I am what I choose to become.” - Carl Jung

Last night, Facebook fed back to me this quote that I posted 11 years ago and I believe it perfectly reflects my thoughts, my musings, my experiences and intentions of late.

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a chronicle of our experiences here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms and my only excuse is that we’ve continued to be extraordinarily busy.

In the last week we added 260 feet of chicken wire to reinforce the existing fence around Coop Knox; Maddy & Enzo moved a good two tons of horse manure that we’re converting into compost to plant a garden in the spring; with the help from a friend we began working on our 1967 V6 Jeep; we figured out what to make for school lunch and for dinner every morning and every night; and we received our latest addition to our ever-growing list of initiatives - a 45 foot 48-seat yellow school bus that we will convert into a living space with the help and sage guidance of our closest neighbor and dear friend Beth.

Over Thanksgiving weekend the week before we had our traditional gathering of all the kids (with Dominic flying in from Princeton and Sidney coming in from UNM for a few days), all five of who cooked all day together to create an amazingly indulgent gourmet experience, as we have done for a good ten years or so.

Likewise, as part of our family tradition, we each said “what we we’re grateful for,” and I said that I was sincerely appreciative of every single person around the table and how hard everyone works to achieve all that we do as individuals and as a family.

Much of our work ethic is spurred by the firm belief in self-actualization - thinking makes it so; if you think you can, indeed you can; we can manifest our destiny, if only we choose to do so and make a proactive effort to not only forge forward toward the horizon, but to determine the design of that future, as we unfold it.

Part of the secret to ensuring that we have a good grip at the helm, is to accept and realize that the road just might be bumpy. There will be problems, mistakes will be made, and obstacles will fall before us. But we must remain undaunted, we must continue to be toxically optimistic - for any true optimist knows that the true poison is pessimism.

A few weeks ago, while Chelsea and I went away for a weekend to celebrate Jeff and Jamie’s wedding and my 53rd birthday, during a little downtime I introduced her to Dilbert. She had never read the cartoon and now that she works for a corporation, the hilarious insights in ludicrous company culture made us laugh raucously together.

There was one comic strip in particular where the manager is touting that “problems are opportunities,” when suddenly his assistant appears to tell him his kids have burned down his house. Dilbert responds “Camping opportunity?”

Well, despite the inherent irony to this example of overwrought optimism, I have to say that I honestly have welcomed the problems that our Big Experiment continues to present.

Whether it is determining how to prevent our dogs from killing more chickens or the local howlers from killing them; or how to keep our duck pond clean despite it being filled with daily duck poop and not wanting to have to replace 3,000 gallons of water in it every other day; or how to fix up the junky ol’ jeep and the 45’ 48-seat schoolie we impetuously purchased without a clue about mechanics or automotive restoration or conversion.

And then there are the situations that suddenly drop out of nowhere. On Friday, while Peter and I were discussing Jeep restoration and how much I like the luxury of our automatic gate, someone ran into the steel keypad post that is cemented into the ground till it was practically parallel to the ground.

Despite having to spend hours thereafter filing a police report, then an insurance claim and sending out inquiries to neighbors about suspect service vehicles in the area - I was wholly amused by the irony of the incident. It is a luxury after all and it was a great reminder that “shit happens,” especially if you’re trying to build a hacienda and farm from the ground up and don’t know what the f*ck you’re doing.

But I’ve learned that when things like this occur the best approach is not only one that faces problems “head on,” but one that includes a great sense of levity, patience, determination, calmness and a “can do” attitude, regardless of the fact that “you can’t” at the moment, if only because you’ve yet to learn the how-to.

The sum-of-which reminds me of the poem that I have read to all our children over the years to remind them how to deal with life that is self-determined. “If” by Rudyard Kipling, poignantly offers many great lessons - the foremost being to keep calm despite the inherent chaos and challenges of a purposeful and meaningful life, which tends to veer off onto the path less traveled:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

Hence, here at the Hacienda I am proud to say we take on our slew of problems and overwhelming slate of projects head on; we do not allow circumstance to prescribe our fate, for we know we are what we choose to become despite the odds and steep learning curves. It’s only a problem if you don’t seize the opportunity to resolve and learn from it.