„First of all, you don’t know me.
Second of all, you don’t know me.“
Any of you One Tree Hill Fans out there will definitely know these words spoken by one of our favorite characters, Peyton Sawyer.
With that comes the question: When do we really know one person?
I am not silly to think that 100% knowledge about one person exists, but it is always great to get to know and understand a fellow human who inspires you and who is a good influence in your life a little bit better.
So here comes: The Rural Diaries
Have you ever felt really invited into someone’s life without feeling awkward about it?
Hilarie Burton Morgan has been a positive influence and inspiration to me for a long time – not just because she is one hell of an actress (f.e. she worked on Lethal Weapon, Forever, White Collar – just to name a few), who has found her women empowerment roles in christmas movies, but because she is walking the walk of doing good things for her community, encouraging others to do the same and changing her life when she needed it the most. Now she is happily married to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, loves her two children, Gus and George, dearly and is a farm lady who is just is as tough as they come with a heart of gold.
„Love is like farm work. It requires consistency, and imagination. Your body will ache and you will be fatigued, but there is no greater reward than seeing the fruits of your labor.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, Preface, page x)
When I first heard about Hilarie writing a book, I was definitely in for pre-ordering it. There was just no other way. Then, when the time of the book-release came closer I was really excited, because not only was a convention planned in May in Paris with Hilarie attending, it was also the weekend before the official release date – and my hopes were high that she would bring copies to sign.
In the times leading to this, the Corona virus hit the world – and the convention was postponed. So I really couldn’t be more excited when Hilarie announced that she would partner with her community bookstore, Oblong Books and Music, to send out signed copies of „The Rural Diaries“. It was a natural thing to order and to support small shops who were having a hard time during the lockdown.
Only two days apart the copies arrived – one pre-ordered book and one signed copy from Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck.
Since I was so looking forward to reading her story and getting to know her a little bit more, a few days earlier I purchased the audiobook – and it was just as amazing as I thought. On my way to work and back home I listened to Hilarie telling me about key moments in her life, from loosing a good friend during the war in Iraq to meeting Jeffrey Dean Morgan, to getting pregnant the first time with Gus and feeling lonely in Los Angeles to battling depression after her first miscarriage to finally becoming a mom to sweet George and marrying Jeffrey in 2019.
The most wonderful thing about this audiobook: you can hear every emotion Hilarie wants to share, the good, the bad, the funny and the ones that nearly make you cry.
„The next morning Jeff made coffee and we opened gifts. Gus tore into his presents, and then I got up to make breakfast, feeling the letdown of a holiday ending.
‚Hold on, there is something in the tree,‘ Jeffrey said.
I looked and there was a white envelope that read „Hilarie“. I opened it up, thinking it was a gift certificate. But inside was a piece of paper that read „Morgan“
I turned around, and Jeffrey was down on one knee with the ring.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 59)
All these moments play a vital part in Hilarie becoming the wonderful human she is today – and in her book she also shares her stories of failure and how it is good and healthy to embrace these moments, learn from them and go on in your life being stronger and more self conscious than ever.
For the food-lovers – there are some great receipes in „The Rural Diaries“, which are on my list to try out some time soon. Also Hilarie shares her insights and learnings about being a farm lady and caring for ducks, cows and alpaca.
„Sunny walked me through how to give them their deworming shots once a month, and I went to school on alpacas. I learned that, thankfully, they are the least-high-maintenance animals on the planet.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 91)
If you are like me and are interested in reading reviews before you order a book – you probably won’t find anything negative while doing your research – because there just isn’t.
„The Rural Diaries“ is just that – honest words about a life lived through changes, through challenges, through dark days and losses but always with a heart full of longing and hoping and fighting for better days.
„I’m sorry,“ he said.
Jeffrey had finally seen me. We talked about our grief. We talked about how we both felt like failures. We talked about how lonely we were.
Suddenly, with his hands in his pockets, Jeffrey was a different person. He was incredibly vulnerable. He talked to me about how much he valued me and that this was home and that it was worth any fight.
And as we talked, he started helping me. He stood and went to get a whole bunch of rocks, laying pathways through the garden for me. Each path was a manifestation of what he was saying.
We worked on this garden together.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 199)
„The Rural Diaries“ is not just about family moments, its also about life-changing and positive moments regarding work: Hilarie tells about her work with organisations like Astor Services for Children and Families, which is a treatment center for children with behavioral issues. Becoming involved with renovating the floors and working for the well-being of the children not only helped her personally but also brought her and Jeffrey closer together.
„Jeff started doing a lot of press with me to promote Astor. […] He’s incredible generous with himself. So when he’s home, that’s his time to recuperate.
Watching him use his reserves to promote Astor made me fall in love with him all over. He knew it was important to me, so it became important to him. Jeffrey had shown up, and I knew that meant we were going to push through the shitty stuff together and keep going.
From that moment on, we were stronger than we’d ever been. In working for others, we found ourselves again.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 210)
Another important part of her life is Samuel’s Sweet Shop and in telling how they met Ira Gutner, to mourning his sudden death which then leads to buying the sweet shop to save it – it’s also another story filled with love, compassion and the will to work and help when others are in need to be saved.
There is so much more I could say about this diamond of a book – but I really would like to encourage you to read it and to see for yourself – or hear, if you prefer the audiobook, which is a real treat. (And with that coming from me, who is not a big fan of audiobooks in general, you could definitely trust my words with that one.)
And – if you ever feel stuck in life, I would like to share a saying of Hilarie’s father, that is an important one in every aspect of living: „The Want-To creates the How-To“ – or as Hilarie has put it in words a while ago: If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. If not, it just wasn’t the right thing for you.
So – I really hope you will read this book and hopefully it will enrich your life in many aspects.
„All the lessons we’d gathered from living here, from buying Samuel’s, from engaging with our neighbors and celebrating their talents – we wanted to share that.
The same way I had been inspired by other people’s stories when I was low, I wanted to pay it forward and continue to message:
Try. The want-to creates the how-to.
And if all else fails, just fake it. But for God’s sake, at least try.“
(Hilarie Burton Morgan: The Rural Diaries, page 254)
You can find everything about Mischief Farm on their website here.
And if you want to check out Hilarie and Jeffrey on Instagram, you can do it here and here.