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Not Locked Down on the Inside

overcome lockdown

Covid doesn’t have a lot of silver linings.

But sometimes it turns out that the bottom you’ve hit — that nasty bottom you’re scraping — is really the bottom of a long-forgotten, rusted-out bucket list.

And down there somewhere is a little seed, just sleeping away.

This happened to me in a crazy big way in June.

A flood of tears, an urgent prayer, an ancient thought germinating to life and suddenly…covid was a gift.

Yes, because of covid, this little piggy got to go wwoofing (working on organic farms for food and board) for almost 3 weeks with her rag-tag crew of youngsters.

farm kidsA miracle, really.

I had zero farm experience or gardening skills (I’m the lady who turned her planter into a sandbox) and we were a heck of a package deal with 4 children (age 3-14) and no husband along…

Not top candidates in a normal world.  Not when the waiting list can be 30 applicants for some farms!

But because the borders were closed and the international WWOOFERS couldn’t come through, farmers were saying yes!

I had a total of 12 farms lined up and planned to wwoof straight through September, but after 18 days one of my little piggies said, “mom, don’t we have food and board already….at home?”

They were pretty done so I honoured their consensus.  But me?  I could have sold my house and never looked back!

You can read about the how-to practical side of farming with young kids in this separate post, but here I want to focus on the all-important WHY.

Why’d we do it?

We had already done 3 months of stay-in-place and the last thing I wanted for my kids was an indulgent summer of compensating and commiserating their hard luck.

That was the core of it.  We needed something purposeful to sink ourselves into.

So we would move in the opposite spirit.

While the world said “shut down and hide,” we would open wide and grow.

The great people at asked us to create a video about our why.

Here’s the amazing 3 minute recap in all its sweaty glory:

“Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.”

Hellen Keller goes on to say:


“Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”

Helen Keller, The Open Door

Exposure.  Security.  What words for these times.

Are we here to play safe and survive? Or create ways to thrive?

I’m not talking about breaking any protocols. I obey them all.

What I’m talking about is being defiant on the inside. Refusing false security. Denouncing the fear and crushing the despair.

Did you know you can be both? Mask-wearing and contagiously optimistic? Physically careful and spiritually rebellious?

Maybe it seems strange, even offensive to say, but an inexplicable measure of joy and peace are filling my husband and I right now, even as he hobbles around with a cane, battling some tough pain from 3 recent falls on the ice.

I’ve seen him getting bigger, lighter, brighter, as he suffers.

How on earth?

As far as I can tell, we are simply suffering the way my Grandma did:


“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthian 4:16

She’s the one that I contracted my lifelong case of indomitable grit and vivacious passion from. Straight up direct transmission. Irrecoverable really.

This is our opportunity right now, no joke:

We have the opportunity to showcase to our children what a fully alive human being looks like in the face of adversity.

Do you see it?

Because they will remember how we met these times.


I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s just spiritual.

We do have a genuine need for fresh stimuli and growth. That’s why I took my kids farming as if our lives depended on it. I could see them withering up.

We need hope, newness, freedom and adventure more than daily vitamins. And way more than the restoration of some old ‘normal.’

You can certainly dig up some joy by giving and serving — that’s what we’re doing these days. Dropping money and gifts and mailing parcels and giving away my books to the seniors residences.

Sure, you can drag your kids door to door and (spaciously) see if folks need a good neighbour. Shovel driveways. Wave and smile. Be a beacon of hope.

These are good things.package delivery

But I have a feeling your ache is bigger than that by now.

So I am going to invite you to the one place I know we can share — the place where this whole farming journey began for me, weeping and wailing in June.

There is a space, at the harsh and unbearable edge of our enclosure.

Like a creative synapse, where the next moment is not yet written.

This place is where I cried into my pillow and pressed my whole self forward, lunging into the nothingness of my despair.

In this place that I know very well indeed, the idea to go WWOOF came fully formed and sudden, like the rush of a whomping prairie chinook.

It was a thought that had literally not crossed my brain in over a decade, but as soon as it came…I knew it would happen.

Immediately I went and arranged our first farm, for the very next morning!

I tell you this to paint a picture of what is possible; to enlarge the setting and thereby the story that you are living.

This is the greatest secret I know:

There is a magic place of wonder that children play from — where they pull ideas and imagination from the invisible ether and enact them without hesitation.

That place still exists for you.

That is where I go.

Imagination and prayer are not so very different, you see!

Don’t you think it takes a similar act of daring and faith to play as to pray — to create new worlds every day?

Both are vividly honest, innocent, transformative, spontaneous, authentic, and directional.

Children just do it so naturally…

and I don’t believe we’re ever meant to stop.


So how can you alter your settings and change your story…in ways big and small?  

Can you scrape your own bucket list for ridiculous and impossible ideas?

Open space between your weary thought synapses and insert a bit of friendly wilderness — a gap of possibility?

You could check out and just see about winter farming.  They need help year round!

There’s old folks homes to bless, carols to sing, cards to make, conscientious local shopping, being part of your neighbourhood victory story.  


You can jump right into the doing of many such wonderful things, but the very best and brilliant, most magical ideas will be the ones that crystallize out of nowhere — at the imaginative edge of your own heart.

These dynamic impulses come together with shocking grace; with the ease and lightness of a child who is simply lost in Play.

Can we not be indomitable even now and let this physical confinement feed our internal refinement

That is my prayer for you, dear one.


“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller


Don’t let them shut you down where it counts.

Stay spacious on the inside.

Cheering for you with a big, big love,



P.s. For innovative play ideas and inspiration, recovering childheartedness and raising your kids to be big on the inside… stick around! That’s what Parent by Magic is all about 🙂


Hop on my mailing list and we’ll pioneer this fullness of joy together!




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