Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2024; a new cycle has begins again!
Even though you might not know me or heard from me for a while, we have gone another time around the sun together, and holidays have come and gone once again.  I hope you had a great time with your community, family and friends (hopefully they are all one in the same or at least get along together). 
We had a great Christmas, Happy New Year.  At the same time, I had a great birthday on January 2nd.  Yes, ALL of the holidays are smashed together in one big orgy of celebrations.  I mean, not literally an orgy, but you get what I am trying to say here.  For me, all the holidays are all smashed together during the quiet and dark winter months.
Here at our new home in New Richmond (called The Landing), we are certainly starting a new cycle with this New Year.  This winter, Julie, Ryan and I are taking a much needed breath after an incredibly busy year since this time last year.  I have not recorded or published a Small Scale Life Podcast since April 26, 2023, (nine months ago). 
So much has happened, and I feel the need to bring you all up to speed!  This will also serve as a starting point for new listeners to the show and provide some background information about us.
Where shall we begin?   Let’s go back to April 2023.  

The Dream of Driftless Oaks Farm…is Over 

First things first: we no longer live on the little farm in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. After a lot of soul searching, a lot of conversations and a lot of cursing after pumping out the flooded scary cellar about five times last spring, we decided that our time at Driftless Oaks Farm was over. We were not farmers after all! Go figure! It was for the best: Julie was slowly going crazy there, Ryan needed to be closer to friends in the Twin Cities and my Ford plow truck literally died.
The Universe was telling us that we needed to change and had a new plan for us.  We decided it was time, and in April we selected the best offer and sold the farm.  Of course, that triggered an avalanche of activities of getting packed up and ready for the move. 
At the same time, I realized that the “homesteading dream on a little farm” had been a failure and was over.  In our brief period as “farmers,” we had no domestic animals (no chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, horses, or dogs), and we didn’t even have a serious garden.  Admitting our homestead and (my) farm dream was a failure literally put my brain into a tailspin about the future of Small Scale Life.
More on that shortly.

Welcome to The Landing!

The Landing; a new cycle begins
With some wonderful help, we found a great house on the Willow River in New Richmond, Wisconsin. We moved to the new house in June, and we haven’t looked back since. In fact, we didn’t have time! We got busy working and hired contractors to complete the following projects:
  • New landscaping projects and weeding
  • Painting the first floor
  • Painting the basement bathroom walls
  • Putting new flooring in the basement
  • Renovating the master bath (restoring and installing Julie’s vintage claw foot tub)
  • Putting in a radon mitigation system
  • Putting in two new patios
  • Getting a hot tub
  • Putting in a new rock pad and building a garden shed
  • Running gas into the house
  • Getting a new gas furnace and gas water heater
  • Putting in a new service door on the garage
  • Getting a new roof on the house (in mid December 2023, thank you mild winter)
  • Getting a new cold plunge tank for Christmas
We are ready to slow down, put down deep roots and explore this wonderful community. 
I know, I laughed too. You know I am full of it (since we have more work to do on the first floor).

Breathing, Moving and Healing with Willow River Yoga

Julie, Willow River Yoga, Coming Home Retreat, a new cycle begins
If you have been following us on social media, you know Julie launched her Willow River Yoga business after getting her Yoga Instructor Certification on September 10th, 2023. It was a wonderful day before we had a really hard day, but there are no such things as coincidences. Yoga is the right path for Julie. It is opening so many doors, and she is building incredible relationships with wonderful people. She is teaching at Inspiring Actions Yoga Studio, teaching online classes from home and planned and facilitated a wonderful retreat with our friend Maria the Intuitive Energy Healer in January 2024 (part of a four-retreat series that will run in 2024). 
On my birthday, Julie started work at the Healing Roots Wellness Center in River Falls, Wisconsin, and it is only going to immerse her in the yoga and wellness community in River Falls.  She will also be teaching yoga classes there as well!  Talk about an opportunity and chance to build an incredible network and community. I had a chance to attend a yoga class there this week, and that place has some really GREAT energy and has some wonderful owners.  I am so thankful that she has started this journey, and it is a lot of fun to be part of it.

Our Son Ryan’s Update

Ryan, The Landing, Bathroom renovation, New Richmond
Ryan is doing well. He had a tough 2022 and start of 2023, but he is ending this year on several high notes. His trip to Spain and Portugal with friends in September were just what he needed. He also got promoted to a Manager position at his work. Ryan and I had a great time in the woods hunting turkeys in the spring and deer in the fall, and he has been playing basketball with friends in leagues in the Twin Cities. It is fun hearing stories of Shaqfu on the court once again! 
Ryan is also my weight lifting accountability partner at the local community center, so we need to make sure we get back to the gym together.  I would love to bring Ryan on and talk about some things, and I am going to make that happen in 2024.

The Running Hummingbird Update

The Running Hummingbird, Twin Cities 5K, Twin Cities Marathon, St. Paul
I cannot close out 2023 without talking about our Running Hummingbird Danny. While he is not here in physical form, he was with us as 50 friends and family participated in the Twin Cities 5K or other events across the country. This 5K race was part of the the Twin Cities Half Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifying race. Both the Half Marathon and Marathon were “black flagged” (cancelled) this year due to the heat and humidity.
It was amazing to see that many people wearing Running Hummingbird shirts in Danny’s honor all over the country, but especially at the Twin Cities 5K!  It was so cool and so humbling that so many came out to support us and remember our Running Hummingbird; we hope to do more in 2024!  
At the same time, we ran a very successful GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to keep this thing going.  We raised money for Kratom Danger Awareness organization and for an event in 2024. Ryan, Jules and I have so much appreciation for everyone who contributed to the GoFundMe and showed support since September 11, 2022.  It is amazing who shows up, who provides love and support and helps when tragedies happen. 
Our journey with The Running Hummingbird is not over; in fact it is just beginning and will be part of future efforts here at Small Scale Life.   I have already reached out to the St. Croix Running Company to begin discussions on how we can help them along (volunteering at races and other things).  Danny’s community will now be our community too.  Why not?
There are and will be more Running Hummingbird stories to talk about in this new cycle.

My New Cycle at Small Scale Life

Tom, Small Scale Life, Small Scale Life Podcast, a new cycle begins

Given my workload at home and real job, I stopped the Small Scale Life Podcast in April 2023. I just didn’t have capacity and bandwidth to do extra recording and editing videos and podcast episodes. 
This pause allowed me to think about this platform, the mission of Small Scale Life and my big why.  As my friend Amy Dingmann from A Farmish Kind of Life and Julie know, I have been all over the board about the future of Small Scale Life.  At times I was going to start over from scratch on a new platform, and at other times I was going to go forward.  Back and forth; forth and back.  
By leaving Driftless Oaks Farm behind, something about focusing on homesteading just wasn’t quite making sense.  For me, a cycle had ended as that small farm dream died, and I wasn’t sure where the river would take me on this journey.  It’s like I had paddled to a fork in the river, and there were a bunch of ways forward.  I just had to choose and push forward towards that new section of river.  For me, that was hard to do.  
Right before Christmas, Julie ran a Gratitude Challenge as part of her Willow River Yoga Practice.   It was a 10-day challenge, and for those of you who have ever created something like that, it can be difficult to come up with content as the challenge goes forward.  Fortunately, I am a guy who thinks deep stuff at times and can write.  I helped write a couple of the posts, and I realized that I needed to do more than JUST gardening.  I have something to say based on the hard times and hard stuff we have been through.  I might never monetize anything, but I have knowledge from the school of Hard Knocks that I can share with people.  I can be the light in the distance for someone and hopefully help them, inspire them,  entertain them or show them a way forward.  
On December 21, 2023, I was driving back the The Landing from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  I was in deep thought about things, and something just clicked.  It was like a little bird (a hummingbird, perhaps?) landed on my shoulder and laid it all out for me.  Things suddenly aligned and made sense after not making sense for a long time.  That little hummingbird made me realize that “learn, do, grow and be a little better everyday” is actually “improving mind, body and soul.” 
Of course!  How did I miss that?  
Now, a whole new cycle has begun, and I am really excited about this stretch of river ahead.  If you have been paying attention on Small Scale Life YouTube Channel, TikTok Channel, Instagram and Facebook, you have seen the subtle shift in December and January.  In some ways, I feel like I am getting back to a place where I was a few years ago: canning, grounding (walking in snow), using the 24 Hour Plan, recording the sound of rivers, focusing on getting healthy and gardening. Yes, for the first time since 2020, I WILL have a garden on this property!  It is all connected.  
As part of this shift, I have opened a new Facebook Group called the Small Scale Life Wellness Club.  It is really a support and accountability group for those of us working on improving our mind, body and soul.  Feel free to use this link to come and be part of the Club.  What do you have to lose?

2023 is Over. Happy New Year! A New Cycle Begins….

Tom, Cold Plunge, A new cycle begins, New Richmond

In closing, this year has been a whirlwind for us all. It has had its ups and downs, but people have been there for us and shown us so much love and compassion in our darkest hours. We have so much gratitude for you and for all of your support. We can’t wait to see what the new cycle in 2024 is going to bring. 
January is off to a wild start with Julie’s Yoga Retreat, the new Small Scale Life Wellness Club, my cold plunges and our Trip to Costa Rica for our 30th Wedding Anniversary!

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A New Cycle Begins, New Richmond, Willow River, Winter

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Special Thanks

For Small Scale Life Podcasts, I would like to thank Sean at Osi and the Jupiter for the intro song "Harvest."  Sean wrote this specifically for us, and I really enjoy all of his work.  You can find more Osi and the Jupiter at their Bandcamp site:

I would also like to thank Austin Quinn at Vlog Vibes for the intro and outro music. For more information abut Austin and Vlog Vibes, please see the Vlog Vibes YouTube Channel:



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