I quit my job! Here is my story.

This is a slightly different blog post than I usually write. Typically I write to try and teach something. Today I am writing to share with you all why I quit my job as a registered nurse and how I plan to make a living now!

A selfie I took of myself while visiting Lake Michigan in July 2023!

I did a scary, but exciting thing! I quit my stable and successful career as a Registered Nurse to try something new. Why would someone do this? Especially after 4 years of college, 3 additional certifications, and 12+ years working in the field. Why would I lose my health insurance and my regular income, and really my whole identity as an adult.

Well, the short answer is: I was called to do something different.

Keep reading for the long answer. šŸ™‚

Really this started when I was a kid, I was always drawn to plants. I was the kid that made “food and potions” out of plants and spent a lot time playing in the woods behind my house. Fast forward..a few years into my nursing career, I became interested in the food as medicine movement and started learning about foods and herbal supplements that we can eat to stay healthy and prevent or treat disease. I also discovered Jean Martin Fortier and Elliot Coleman, two well known organic market gardeners, and became obsessed with the idea of starting my own market garden!

Then around 2016 I started really thinking, maybe I could make a living farming? I searched online for “farming schools in Michigan” and found the Organic Farmer Training Program in Lansing hosted by Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm. I researched the school online for a full year before I decided to apply for the 2018 cohort.

I was invited to the farm for an interview and to see if I would be a good fit for the program. I’ll never forget this day. When I first arrived I was no nervous, a brand new place and maybe the start of a brand new career path. The teacher Katie met me and I felt at ease immediately, she is a wonderful human! She showed me around the farm and said my face lit up so bright when we walked into the greenhouse, it was late summer and the greenhouse was packed full to the ceiling with ripe cherry tomatoes! I felt something ignite in my soul that day walking the farm for the first time, seeing that it was really possible and these folks were right here doing it already and had been for over 20 years.

As I drove home from Lansing I dreamed about what my days on my own future farm might look like. Waking up when the first light of the morning sun hits my face, feeling the cool summer breeze blowing through my open window, with the scent of fresh flowers. Cooking delicious meals from my gardens for all of my friends and family. I dreamed of all the events I could host on my farm, mental health retreats and healthy eating classes, and full moon bonfires and music festivals. I dreamed of building a community and of all the people I could help with my farm.

The year I spent at farming school was amazing and life changing. I loved the hands on learning in the fields and greenhouses and in the food forest especially! I loved seeing how the farm changed throughout the seasons, which insects came to eat which plants, when different things were ready for harvest and how to tell. How it all depended so much on the weather and nature was always really the one in charge. We toured organic farms all over Michigan and I loved seeing all the different ways each person ran their farm and all the different things people did on their farms to make a living.

I graduated the program with honors! I of course wanted to start a farm right away. Then I sadly let fear set in. How would I make enough money to pay my bills? We are used to living on an RN salary now. I don’t have access to enough farmland where I live (and we had just bought a house in the city with a 30 year mortgage). How could I farm on the side and work full-time? The fears won sadly, and I continued working at my regular RN job. I did work farming into my life as much as I could though. My employer was really cool and let me start two community gardens for patients where I worked. I started growing what I could in containers in the little strip of sun I did have in the city. I grew plants inside. I kept reading and learning.

In my time off of work, I kept learning skills to help me work towards my overall homestead and farm dream. How to cook and bake from scratch. How to grow my own food at home from seed. How to sew. How to preserve food to last through the winter. How to repair things myself. I installed rain barrels and started composting. I figured I should work on every single skill I can now while I live in the city, so that someday if my dream of a big farm in the country comes true, I will be ready!

I started revisiting my earlier herbal obsession. I thought if I can cook my own food, why can’t I grow and make my own medicines and teas? I also learned more about all the harmful chemicals in body products and wanted to make my own instead. One of my favorite nursing instructors told me once “never put anything on your skin you wouldn’t eat, because the skin is your largest organ and absorbs everything” and that really stuck with me! I started researching herbalists, and found Bevin Cohen, a Michigan herbalist and organic farmer. I took an online class with him and loved it! I bought his books and read them all, especially “The Artisan Herbalist”.

This inspired me to become an “Artisan Herbalist” myself. Maybe this was the missing piece I couldn’t see all along, maybe this was the way to do what I loved from my home in the city right now? I don’t have enough space to grow bulk organic herbs or farm on a large scale yet, but I have enough space to buy organic herbs from other farmers and use them to make products inside my home!

I pictured myself working on balms and tinctures and mixing custom teas for people in front of a large beautiful apothecary cabinet filled with jars of colorful herbs. I dreamed of someday walking through my medicine garden with a cup of fresh tea. It felt good!

By 2022, I felt the pull to work with plants, and this even bigger pull to return to nature if that makes sense. I felt it deep in my soul, all day, everyday. It was impossible to ignore. I craved to be outside when I had to be inside working. When I saw my friends posting pictures from their farms or at market I was jealous and wished it was me. I longed to live slower and more in-tune with nature, the regular schedule of 8-5 Monday thru Friday was hard for me to maintain. I wanted to wind down and rest in the fall and winter time, hibernate like the seasons push us to do. Be active and busy in the spring and summer when the sun makes the days long. I wanted to have time to cook all of my meals from scratch and eat local food in season.

Last fall, as the cold set in and I started dreaming of Spring already, I asked myself, “can I spend another Spring inside, behind the computer?”. The answer was a very loud and clear “NO” lol!

So what was I going to do, we have to work to make money to survive right?

I was still scared. Could I really make money on my own? Could I really be a successful herbalist and run an apothecary? Would anyone want to buy my baked goods if I put them up for sale? How much stuff could I really grow in my tiny urban garden? So many fears.

Then in February, as Spring drew closer and closer and it was about time to start seeds inside here in Zone 6b, I just knew I had to quit. It was kinda weird. I guess it makes sense after reading all of this so far, it wasn’t like it was a spontaneous decision. I’d been leading up to this for years. It was still really scary telling my bosses and coworkers that I was leaving to be a farmer!

I just couldn’t go one more season without trying. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have farmland. I hadn’t started a business yet. I just had ideas and a dream. But I knew if I kept putting all of my energy into my career as an RN, I would never have enough energy left to try and pursue my passion on the side. I needed to go all in!

So I talked with my husband for hours (asking several times if he thought I was crazy lol), and he supported my decision to pursue my dream and quit my job! In fact he had been encouraging this for years…He did something similar years ago when he left his original college major to pursue music, I’m sure people thought he probably wouldn’t make it, but he did! He is now a very successful full-time professional musician and a great example of someone who took the risk to follow their dreams and made it! I am so grateful for his support!

In February 2023 I submitted my two weeks notice and by the first week of March 2023 I was officially unemployed. It was scary, and exciting at the same time. I didn’t tell anyone for a few weeks because I was scared they would judge me. It was the opposite though! Whenever I told people that I had just quit my job to pursue my dream, they were supportive and inspiring and a lot of people said “I wish I could do that too!”.

Three weeks after I stopped working I started this blog and my YouTube, and created the Jess from Earth LLC. These were the first steps for me in my new “career”. I do hope to monetize this website with affiliate links and ads, and my YouTube, to help me stay afloat while I build up my Apothecary business and eventually my clinical herbal practice (and maybe someday giant regenerative organic farm!). I’ll keep baking too because I really just love baking!

Since I’ve quit, I have found a peace that I can only describe as the feeling that I think Arthur Dent had in the book “Mostly Harmless” by Douglas Adams, my favorite author! Arthur gets stuck on a distant planet very similar to earth. After he realizes there is no way off of the planet, he accepts his fate, and decides to devote his time to creating the perfect sandwich. He finds peace in the art of sandwich making, in his simple day to day operations, creating the perfect bread recipe, roasting and slicing the meat just right, making the perfect sandwich everyone in the village loves.

I feel a lot like I imagine Arthur felt as I test different recipes in my kitchen. Writing them down in my million notebooks and tweaking them to find the best combinations. Testing them over and over again myself and with friends. Perfecting my art, using my hands, mastering new skills. Putting all my love into what I create and thinking about how happy it will make someone!

I’ve been busy working on “The Science and Art of Herbalism” Course from Rosemary Gladstar. So far I have learned so much including how to make herbal beverage tea blends, oils, tinctures, balms, and liniments. My apothecary, or materia medica, is growing rapidly and I’ll be adding my first homemade apothecary items to the online shop in just a few weeks. I plan to attend the Great Lakes Herb Faire for the first time this year and I’m excited to begin networking with other herbalists. I am logging my hours and education to apply to become a Registered Herbalist through the American Herbalists Guild.

My first organic Calendula harvest of the year, from my tiny organic urban garden, July 2023, drying at 95 degrees in the dehydrator. This will be made into a sun infusion using organic grapeseed and organic olive oil from the next new moon until the next full moon and then made into a soothing lip balm, as well as new balm recipe I am developing for guitar players with dried and cracked finger tips (inspired by my husband!)

Other than studying herbs, my days are busy cooking from scratch, organic gardening, learning how to forage, preserving food, learning new skills like sewing, and trying to document all of this to share with you on the blog and YouTube channel! I also spend a lot more time sleeping, petting my cats and dogs, taking deep breathes, stretching, dancing, meditating, writing in my journal, seeing family and friends, and just existing as a human and I LOVE IT!!!

Life is short, and I believe we should spend every moment living it to our fullest! For me, the fear of staying the same (as comfortable as I was) finally outweighed my fear of change. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know if I will have to return to work as an RN (I’m thankful to have this option as a backup). I recognize I am extremely privileged to be able to even take this time to pursue my dreams and I am so grateful for this opportunity! I HOPE I will make it and my story will inspire you and many others to follow YOUR DREAMS!

Maybe someday you will come take a tour of my beautiful farm, and we will sit together and have a cup of freshly picked herbal tea in my garden while we eat delicious baked goods, and I will see your face light up so bright with passion as you tell me your dreams, like mine did when I first saw the student organic farm! I hope so!

In the meantime, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, (I need to get 1000 subscribers to monetize) and check out my new online Shop! I really appreciate your support and would love to hear your ideas for products to add to the shop, or videos and blog posts you’d like to see!

Thank you for reading this long post!

Love,

Jess the Herbalist, Baker, Farmer, Blogger, and YouTuber! šŸ˜›

2 Comments

  1. I knew this was to happen for you

    Fear is crap food for the soul

    Iā€™m proud of you and know great things will come of seeking your passion and bliss

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