“Do you think people would think we’re a bit weird?” I question Mr Sidestepping-normal. We’re walking through the olive groves surrounding our house wearing a glove each whilst picking up sheep poo. The shepherd has recently been through with a few hundred sheep and never one to miss an opportunity, we’re capitalising. Manure is the currency, one mans rubbish is another mans gold, when life throws you sheep shit, don gloves and find a bucket…that’s what we say.
Our vegetable garden has been crying out for some nutrients. Seek and ye shall find, as they say…and what d’ya know…sheep poo arrives in our path…literally. It’s nice to wander around doing such a mundane job. It’s surprising how childlike we feel as we compare how much we’ve collected.
Inviting the media in…
The last few days have left us feeling drained. We willingly told our story to a news agency and thought we were prepared for some negative feedback. In hindsight it’s caught us off guard. How much criticism can you attract from living a natural lifestyle in Greece? It’s hardly offensive is it? You’d be surprised.
Until recently we’ve been protected in this little safe haven we’ve created. Then several media outlets covered our story and it suddenly feels like we’re being forced to flee the nest and flutter our wings for the first time, whilst being scrutinised and judged. There’s no room for error. We fly or we fall.
Sticks and stones…
It’s early March and we’re driving into Rethymno. The rain is hammering on the windscreen and our view ahead is distorted. Mr SN has years of experience driving motorbikes and finds it quite unnecessary to clear the windscreen. Consequently we drive along whilst squinting and peering through the raindrops. I’m sorry to all opticians wincing at our unnecessary eye strain – take it up with my husband.
Just before we headed out the door, we made the mistake of reading the comments below the articles written about us. Who knew that people could be so mean. It’s been astonishing to see people judging, criticising, scrutinising and jumping to conclusions. As tempting as it is to bite back, we refuse to engage. Mr SN really couldn’t give a monkeys what people say about him. I on the other hand am much more sensitive. We have nothing to prove to anybody but ourselves, yet I mull over the negative feedback and do the unthinkable…I actually question what we are doing. This is something I don’t usually do. We are fearless. To us, fear is an illusion that tries to trick you into thinking you can’t succeed. If you fear failing then you will never succeed. Full stop.
As we drive along I sink into a silent stupor. I can’t stand being misunderstood, I’m not stupid, we aren’t naive, we won’t fail. I feel like I’m trying my best but it’s not good enough. Some people don’t like me despite not knowing me. That’s hard for me to accept.
“Some people don’t like me despite not knowing me. That’s hard for me to accept.”
We’re on the return journey from Rethymno. The latest demands of the electricity company (before they agree to connect Walnut cottage) have been completed. The weather has blown over and the sun is shining. The snow capped white mountains stand illuminated in the sunlight. We quickly pop into a bakery for cheese pies, which I subsequently drop in a puddle just before we get to the car. Could things get any worse? We apply the 5 second rule and devour them anyway.
The following days pass in a blur of news articles and sheep poo collection. Then, through the sea of haters emerges a wave of support. We start to receive messages from people congratulating us and admiring our bravery. There are people asking for advice, and wanting to share their story. There are others out there just like us, they understand our choices and wish us well. My mindset begins to shift and I can begin to laugh at some of the absurd things people are saying about us.
Our top 5 favourite negative comments:
It was difficult to compile our top 5 comments out of so many, but these ones had the edge. I can now read these with utter amusement…they really make me laugh. I’m thinking of making #1 into a sign to hang in the garden…what do you think?
1)“Hopefully after Brexit the Greeks will throw out this pair of lazy scrounging hippies. Get back to the UK and start contributing.”
2)”How can they access their pension at that age already ? I can’t access my retirement funds from the state for quite some time and not from my private fund either. Shouldn’t we be asking questions about how they have managed to get round this ? Did they disclose their correct ages when they drew funds ?”
3)”What about health insurance or pension plans? What will they live on when they get old and can’t even do low paid jobs? Totally irresponsible. Do they have any kind of social life? Friends? Can they even communicate with their neighbours? They’ll end up very lonely one day.”
4)”Dog walking – how about getting a proper job , rather than wasting their lives. Do an open university course if they are not educated.”
5)”Nice in theory but it’ll get old and stultifying in pretty short order, especially for her. She’ll get bored, start talking about having kids and divorce him. We all know it.”
We’re on the terrace. It’s early. The sun is blinding and we squint into the dazzling light. We’re still in our pyjamas drinking tea. The birds are chattering and the almond tree is in blossom.
“Just how long can they endure that lifestyle?” I mimic in a sarcastic tone. We both stare at each other before giggling. “I just can’t take it any more; book me a flight home.” I tease.
I’m back on track after my fleeting dip into despair. My usual thirst for life is back and I make a list of the jobs I want to get done today. The eternal optimist within me sees the last few days as a lesson. I’ve thus learned that a) We will never fail because there’s no such thing as failure, only experience. b) Sheep poo works miracles in the garden. c) Beware of dropping cheese pies in puddles, they go very soggy.
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