Podcast

Episode 125 – Angela Braniff, A Family Going Against the Grain

This week we’re continuing our series, Going Against the Grain, with a very special guest, Angela Braniff. Angela is the founder of the popular YouTube channel This Gathered Nest. She is also an adoption advocate, home school mom, content creator and podcast host. Today, Jessica and Angela have an amazing conversation about how the Braniff family came to be, and why they up and bought a farm in North Carolina!

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hey, everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Are you ready for honest and vulnerable conversations that will inspire you towards action? Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Last week we kicked off a new series that we are calling Against the Grain. So, for the next few weeks, we are chatting with people that are living outside their comfort zones, and I’m thinking most likely your comfort zones too. I wanted to have these conversations in hopes that we might also be encouraged to live a little bit more on our edge. I know, right now at least, my normal motivation and joie de vivre has really been numbed out for the past few months, and sometimes hearing from other people that are choosing swim upstream encourages me to do the same.

Today’s guest Angela Braniff, she is swimming upstream in so many areas of her life. She has grown her family non-traditionally, so she’s done Embryo Adoption, which is a term called Snowflake Adoption if you have not heard of that. She’s adopted domestically, she’s adopted a child with Down Syndrome, and in fact, she now has eight children. Okay, so that’s living upstream, let’s face it. But not only that, during the pandemic, she and her husband and eight children decided to leave the city and move to a farm. So, she’s got animals all around her and she’s homeschooling.

But okay, I’ll be honest with you: When I get an image of the person I just described in my head, it’s not… it’s not how I experience Angela.

Angela is so – she’s super into style, she’s so friendly and connecting and authentic, and I have loved getting to know her actually in real life over the last couple years. I’m really excited to get to introduce her to you if you don’t already know her. If you’re on YouTube, then you do know her.

She has a really popular YouTube channel This Gathered Nest and another one called Angela Braniff. She also wrote a book that was released in April 2020 called “Love Without Borders: How Bold Faith Opens the Door to Embracing the Unexpected.”

So, let’s listen in to Angela.

 

Angela Braniff: A Family Going Against the Grain

Jessica: Okay, Angela, this is so crazy because you and I are friends. You even have come to Shine. You’ve been a Noonday Ambassador. And the way I experience you is so… First of all, you’re beautiful. And you’re so unassuming. And you’re so real. And you’re so present. And you kind of have this very chill vibe. And you’re also just passionate about the vulnerable. And then I hear about your life, and I’m like, girlfriend has eight… eight or nine kids?

Angela: Eight, eight. Yep.

Jessica: Girlfriend’s got eight kids. Girlfriend has a YouTube channel, where she vlogs her days. And then I’m seeing girlfriend just bought a freakin farm. Bought a farm and has all the animals like horses and… llamas or alpacas?

Angela: Llamas, llamas.

Jessica: Okay. I’m sure there’s a difference between the two.

Angela: There is, there is a difference. Llamas spit. I don’t know if alpacas spit or not. But the llamas are the ones that spit on people. So, people are usually afraid of them.

Jessica: Okay. And you’ve adopted a lot of your kids, and then you’ve done embryo adoption. So, this series is all about people who are Going Against the Grain, just living life maybe a little bit differently than your next-door neighbor. And I would say, wow, Angela, on so many fronts, you are living a countercultural life, and in this way that’s so unassuming, though. It’s not like you’re… you know, you don’t feel like you’re on this… I don’t experience you as being on some big soapbox. And you’re just approachable. And anyway, as I’m kind of preparing for this interview today, I’m thinking I don’t even know your story. I met you, I don’t even know how… Did we speak? I think we spoke together. Or we… I don’t remember how we met. Do you remember how we met?

Angela: Yes. Well, we met for the first time actually at an adoption conference years and years ago, but that was when Noonday was just starting out. So, you were like working the booth at the Created for Care Adoption Conference. So that was actually the first time I met you. But then where you met me back and didn’t realize that I was like, fangirling you, that was actually in Austin, when we did the National Angels event together a couple Christmases ago. Yeah, so that was how we got to actually, like, get to know each other. And it didn’t become a one-way relationship where I just admired you and you didn’t know who I was. We got to take it to another level.

Jessica: Oh, my gosh, and you are someone who just shows up for people. Anyway, I admire you. I just… Yeah, you are one of these very rare people in the world. And that’s what this series is all about. So, I’ve been wanting to have you on and I’m, like, this is the perfect series to have you on. And so, as I’m prepping for this interview, I am wondering, have you always kind of been a little bit “going against the grain”? Like in high school, were you one of those that just kind of felt a little bit on the outside? Like, tell me a little bit more about child or teenage Angela.

Angela: Yeah, well, first of all, thank you so much. Your words are so kind, and it really is such an honor for me to be included in this series. You have amazing guests on this podcast so I’m super honored to just be here. But as far as like me in high school, it’s kind of funny, because I’ve always felt… you know, it’s like everybody says, like, “Oh, I felt like I was a little bit different.” Or at least I feel like a lot of people say that. And I definitely felt it. But I was really scared to show it. I felt like I needed to fit in. So, I feel like high school, especially for me was a time where I was really kind of butting heads with myself, where inside I was saying, "I don’t really wanna be like everybody else and do all the same things as everybody else. I’m not even interested in the same things." But at the same time, especially at that like vulnerable age where all you really wanna do is fit in, it can be really hard to go against the grain and to sort of stand out. You really want to fit in desperately at that time.

So I kind of, like, tried to convince myself that if I just sort of did, like, the life checklist, that I would be happy, if I just did all the things that you’re supposed to do, then I would be happy. But I always had like this voice in the back of my head that was telling me like, "This isn’t you. This isn’t what you want." And I had a mom who I get some of my, I hate to say weirdness, but a little bit, from her, and she would always say to us, "If you’re fitting in, you might be doing something wrong." And it was like, I kind of internalized that. And I really wanted to live out what she was saying to us. But it was super intimidating for me. So it took me a good few years after high school before I could really say, “You know what, I need to just sort of make my own way and go my own path and do the things that fulfill me and not worry about what other people are doing or what other people are gonna think about what I’m doing.”

Jessica: So, you had two girls old-fashioned way. And then I just want you to quickly walk through the one-on-one stories on each of your kids when you decided to grow your family in a more non-traditional route.

Angela: Yeah, so I basically… I had really difficult pregnancies. I had hyperemesis. And it was really, really a challenge for me to get my kids into this world. And so after they were born… adoption had always been on my heart but it was sort of like after that second pregnancy, I was like, "Okay, I think maybe the Lord has something else for me besides having more children this way." And so that’s when we started looking into adoption. And God really directed our steps in so many different ways but was very sort of obvious to us that we needed to go the route of adopting from Congo. And so, it was kind of a pilot program. And it was an intense experience for many reasons.

But we brought our son Noah home. And then as soon as we brought him home, we knew right away that we not only didn’t want him to be  the only adopted child in our family. We also really were considering whether or not we wanted him to be the only child in our family that looked different from us. There was just so many things. And we also knew that we still really wanted to grow our family. So, we just again, sort of opened our hands and said, "Lord, whatever you have for us, we’re ready for it." And so, we decided to do a domestic adoption, this time. International adoption is a rodeo, all adoption is rodeo, but international adoption was intense, and so we decided we would try domestic this time and see how that experience was. And so, we ended up adopting our son, Jonah, through that process.

And at that point, we thought we might be done. We had two boys, two girls. So, we really felt like we might be done at that point. And then I kind of had…  we had started talking about maybe trying to have another biological child. It had been years since I’ve had the girls and medical advancements had changed. And so, we thought maybe we would go that route. And then through a Facebook post – this is why I love to share with people like advocacy and sharing adoption online, and even in crazy places like Facebook, you never know who’s gonna see it because somebody was advocating for Rosie, and through this very God orchestrated story, I just knew the second that I saw her picture and read her information that this was our daughter.

And so going from not planning on doing another adoption, at least not at that point, to, “This is my daughter, I’ve got to go get her,” was definitely an intense experience and something that I kind of had to, like, go to my husband and be like, "I know you’re gonna think I’m crazy." And so yeah, so we went to China and adopted our daughter, Rosie. And then when she came home, again, we had, in that interim time, we had been sort of trying to have another baby. And lo and behold, I apparently had developed secondary infertility in that time period between having my girls and then and so I just was not able to get pregnant.

And it was really difficult for many reasons. But really, that wasn’t something I had to deal with before. For me, being pregnant was the part that always sucked. Like I was the person who was sick and had to have a PICC line and TPN when I was pregnant, I wasn’t the person who couldn’t get pregnant. So, having this new identity now of, like, now I can’t get pregnant, was adding this whole thing in there that I wasn’t totally emotionally equipped for. And it was a really difficult time. So, we ended up doing fertility treatments, and none of that worked at all. So, at that point, I had heard about embryo adoption, again, from an adoptive mom group on Facebook. And so, I kind of started thinking, ”Gosh, I don’t really care at all if this baby has my DNA. I don’t care about that.” I just really wanted another opportunity to experience pregnancy, birth, nursing, all of these things that I had loved so much, even though they were really difficult. And now I had this sort of idea that I might be able to experience them without the difficulty, because of the medical advancements. That’s what I was really hoping for. So, it was like I couldn’t give up on that dream of knowing what it would be like to be pregnant and not sick.

“I just really wanted another opportunity to experience pregnancy, birth, nursing, all of these things that I had loved so much, even though they were really difficult.” Angela Braniff

And so, we just kind of started talking about like, "This embryo adoption, does that even, like, make sense for us?" And we went in and talked to the fertility doctor, they were like, "You know what, this is actually a great option for you guys, because it’s not your oven that’s broken, your oven works great," it’s that basically, my eggs had just aged very, very quickly. I had sort of the eggs of a woman who was in menopause. So, they said, "Your oven works. So, let’s give it a shot." And so that was when we were like, "Okay, let’s start looking into this." And it’s kind of one of those things, I think, you kind of know you’re on the right path when it’s, like, every little piece is just falling into place. And that was very much what happened.

We were matched very quickly with two embryos. We had talked to our doctor about transferring two, in hopes that just one, at least one would stick. That’s kind of the idea. Lots of people transfer two and don’t get pregnant at all. And that’s what we had done before when we did IVF. So, this time I’d already transferred two embryos that did not take at all, so I wasn’t feeling super hopeful. But I just… you know, it was kind of like, to me, this was, I needed to do this, I needed to try so that then I could shut the door if this wasn’t meant for me.

So, we decided to go through that process. And lo and behold, I found out that not only was I pregnant, but that both of them had stuck, as they say, and I was having twins. And so, I will admit that for me, it was actually really hard mentally. And I know that that makes me sound like a crazy person because it’s like, "Well, lady, you put in two embryos, what did you think was gonna happen?" But it’s really hard to kind of explain how, when you have so much trouble getting pregnant, you’ve done IVF before and nothing has worked. We didn’t have miscarriages or anything, we just weren’t getting pregnant, period. So, to me, it was almost like at that point, it becomes something that was so unattainable that I couldn’t even imagine it would happen at all. So then to find out that, like, oh, my goodness, there are two babies in there, two heartbeats. It was sobering really quickly, because I got sick very quickly, and unfortunately…

Jessica: Oh, gosh, especially after you were sick before and now you have twins.

Angela: Yeah, unfortunately, the medications and different options that, you know… and again, I had like, met with my doctor and planned everything out and he was totally on board and felt really confident as well. And it just… none of it worked for me. And I ended up hospitalized. I think I was about seven weeks pregnant when I was hospitalized. And I was there for about 10 days getting, again, TPN and a PICC line inserted and just trying to kind of keep me and the babies alive.

 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Jessica: So, what is life like when you’ve got Kennedy, Shelby, Noah, and Jonah, at home while you are at home sick as a dog with Ivy and Amelia? What was going on? Like was CR running the show? What was your support system like and, yeah, what was that?

Angela: Yeah. So, to me, a support system, your village, is just everything. I tell people even now with our life, like we couldn’t possibly do the things that we do without our village and the people who come alongside us. So, when I was pregnant with them, we had five kids at that time because Rosie was home then too. So, at first initially, my husband took a little bit of time off work when I first got sick, and then he worked from home a little bit. And then we were able to have his mom come from California. And so, she came and stayed at the house and took care of the kids. And she actually stayed from January until March. And until I got my PICC line removed where I could get up and move around and I wasn’t attached to like IV poles and TPN up in my room. Once I could get up and move around, then she could finally go home, bless her heart. And it was really, like, just survival every day honestly. My kids watched a lot of television, they ate a lot of junk, and I just had to give myself grace and give them grace, and not sweat the small stuff because I knew it would be a blip in the radar in the long term. But at the time I definitely had a lot of mom guilt and life was really tough at that time.

“A support system, your village, is just everything. We couldn’t possibly do the things that we do without our village and the people who come alongside us.” Angela Braniff

Jessica: Wow. How were you guys putting food on the table? Because just to clarify, right now, you are a full-time YouTuber. I mean, you and through sponsorships and through partnerships, isn’t that how you guys provide for your family now?

Angela: Yeah, so at the time, I did have my YouTube channel and I was doing that as a job. I unfortunately had to turn down quite a bit of work those first few months, but my husband was still working his corporate job at the time. So, he worked for a national bank and had been working for that bank since he graduated college. So he had that job, which was great, because he’d been with them for so long that, again, they were flexible with us, but I kind of had to go like radio silent work-wise for a good little while, which was tough. But yeah, now, things have changed even more since then. And I think my husband came home from his corporate job in the fall of 2018. So, I’ve been the breadwinner for our family since then. So, we just hit two years, in November.

Jessica: Wow. Wow, wow, wow. And then Benjamin, your final or your most recent? How should I state that?

Angela: Yes. He’s, as far as we know, the final. It’s kind of one of those things that like we do feel really at peace with being done. But I feel like I’m so hesitant to use any kind of like definite language, because I just feel like that’s when God will drop something in your lap that you didn’t see coming. However, we are not pursuing anything. So, Benjamin, we had just… You know, it was actually really funny because I was usually the one who approached my husband with like, "God has really put on my heart, I feel like, we need to pursue adoption again," or whatever the case may be. And we would talk about it and pray about it, and he would be on board with it. But this time, it was actually Ivy and Amelia were right about one, I think it was a little bit before they turned one, and gosh, they were just such fun babies. And we just were having so much fun with them. And my husband actually said to me one day, "This is just awesome. I think maybe we need one more. Like I think maybe we need one more." And I mean, I looked at him like he must have had six heads. I was like, "What is this guy talking about?" Like, I didn’t even know if that was something that I was ready for or open to. But he was the one who brought it up.

So, we kind of started just talking about it again, and then got to the point where we were like, "Yeah, you know what, let’s sort of go for it. Let’s attempt another adoption. And we’ll just see what happens." I mean, that’s sort of always been our mentality with it is, if there’s a child out there that needs a home, and we can be that home, and we can provide that, then we will. But we also never wanna feel like we’re forcing anything or… you know, it’s kind of hard to explain but that’s sort of been our position with it. And so, we just decided to get our home study updated and put our profile book out there. And if something happened, then we would move forward.

And lo and behold, something happened. And it happened very quickly. And I mean, we just got a call, well, we got an email actually, on a Sunday morning saying, "Hey, we’ve got this baby boy," or this baby, we didn’t know the gender actually at that time. "Are you guys interested? She’s gonna look at profile books today." And we were like, "Sure." We didn’t have any parameters on anything. We were like, "Sure, show her our profile book." And it was just so funny, because she had initially said to the adoption agency that she wanted to consider a family that didn’t have any children or couldn’t have any children. But our profile book was in the stack that they had there to show her. And as soon as she saw our book and started flipping through it, she said, she knew that we were the ones, right away. Even though we had seven children, she just knew it. As soon as she was flipping through and reading about us and seeing our family, she just knew we were the right family.

So, the adoption consultant was sort of, like, really surprised. She couldn’t believe that she’d gone from saying, you know, wanted somebody with no kids to picking somebody with seven kids. But people ask all the time, if you can adopt with a big family, and you absolutely can. It’s really, birth moms, first moms or like anybody else, it’s their personal preferences, and for some people that’s no kids or a small family and for others, they love the idea of a big family.

 

Faith, Family, and Fairhaven Farms

Jessica: I follow you on Instagram and you have a huge Instagram following, but you’re not… that’s not where you spend most of your time and energy. Most of your time and energy is spent on YouTube. So, I want to hear… So one day, I’m following you recently, and I couldn’t, honestly, I couldn’t piece it all together, because you’re not the best about giving all the details on Instagram, I think you save it for YouTube, so I’m just like, trying to piece your story together. I’m like, "I think she’s moved. And it looks like there’s animals involved." So, tell me the unfolding of this story that you are now on a farm, and you homeschool, and you’ve got all of these animals.

Angela: Yeah, I mean, I guess all I can say is 2020, right? So, we have actually talked about having land and sort of having this little, mini farm, hobby farm for years and years. It’s something we’ve dreamed about. It’s something we’ve wanted. And we just never felt like the time was right.

And I don’t know what it was about those first few months of quarantine, and that kind of like March to June period, where we both just started, like, very quickly realizing that maybe some of our priorities were off. And maybe we needed to stop just waiting for something that we felt like with some kind of sign, right? Like, we needed to stop waiting to see Jesus’s face in our bread and just move forward with what we wanted to do and what we felt like was the right thing for our family.

And so, we kind of started looking at the option of selling our house and finding land. And it was something that we wanted to do with my folks. So, my parents actually had a place in a different part of North Carolina than where we lived. And they have eight horses, and we kind of said, like, we wanted to have this like family compound. I really need to find a better way to describe it because whenever I say that, people have like all kinds of like cult, flashy things that go off in their head, so I really need something other than family compound to describe it.

But we really wanted this sort of family property, family farm, where we could all be together more and spend more time together and hopefully maybe pass that land down and that sort of thing. So, it was something where we’re like, "You know what, now is the time, let’s just look." And lo and behold, home prices were better than ever, in terms of selling where we were, we were in Charlotte, North Carolina, and you couldn’t keep houses on the market there, so we felt really confident that we could get our house sold. And my mom and I traveled to a few different states. Because I work from home, we had some flexibility. And we really… we were really interested in Texas actually.

“We really wanted this sort of family property, family farm, where we could all be together more and spend more time together and hopefully maybe pass that land down.” Angela Braniff

Jessica: Darn it.

Angela: We ended up finding this property in South Carolina. And it just felt right, you know? It just felt like it was the right fit. And so, we were like, you know what, let’s just… My thing is like always just sort of stepping through the open doors and seeing what happens, you know? You can’t know until you try. And so, we just kind of started going through the motions and "Okay, can we do this? Can we get the mortgage? Can we sell our house? Can we do everything we need to do?" And all the pieces just kept falling into place. Now not to say that the road wasn’t rocky and there weren’t difficulties in getting our house sold. And we had an older home so it needed a lot of repairs and stuff comes up on the inspection and you’re like, "How have I been living in this house because according to this inspection, it should be condemned?" all the things that you have to fix when you try to sell your house.

So yeah, I mean, but everything just kind of fell into place. And now we’ve been here since September. And I still am waiting for the time when I feel like I live this quiet, simple life that I am longing for. It’s definitely not happened. And I think that the reality is, is that it probably won’t for like another good five years. And part of that is me because I’m just so, "Oh, let’s do this and learn that and let’s do this and that." And I’m always… I have ideas and I’m always dreaming up new things, hence why we have goats, and llamas, and pigs, and all these things. So, it’s been so fun though to…

Jessica: When you say a farm and seven kids, there’s nothing simple about that. But that’s an ideal that you had in your mind?

Angela: Well, I just, you know, I was thinking of the quieter, more slowed-down life, which is true, we do definitely have that going for us. Like out here on our property, I feel like we’re away from the hustle and bustle of things. And even in this little town that we live in, I feel like people… the pace is slower. People don’t seem as rushed and in a hurry. The pace of Charlotte, Charlotte’s just a rapidly growing city and so the pace was… it felt like it was just getting faster and faster there. And we just wanted to feel like we could take a deep breath and not have to keep up with everybody else, not have to be in the rat race, so to speak.

And so, I do feel like that element has definitely rang true since we moved here. But in terms of like, actual day-to-day tasks and chores, that certainly hasn’t gotten any easier. But at the same time, it’s like, we love it and we wouldn’t change that for anything, you know? I hope that makes sense.

 

A Look Behind the Scenes

Jessica: That’s so amazing. Okay, I wanted to talk a little bit about vlogging and YouTubing because when you get on your YouTube channel, a lot of it is kind of what I would put on an Insta story. It just is like filming your day, and this is life, and you’re super approachable, and yet you live on a farm with lots of children, and some special needs thrown in there, and you’re homeschooling. But I know that’s your job.

So how do you… And I’m sure that… Like, take us behind the scenes, and especially now as your girls are getting older, because I’m finding this with my kids, just this whole, like, needing approval and wanting them to not… you just not just go off and post whatever. How do you hold that tension of kind of vlogging your life, and then also being present to your life, and not having it always be about the camera? I’m thinking for the listener that might be a YouTuber, or might also be thinking about YouTubing or vlogging, what is your perspective?

Angela: Yeah, and I feel like it’s applicable to just in general being on social media and having a family that you’re sharing in any capacity, really. But for me, when I first started, I started out as, you know, “I’m Angie, and I’m sharing my life,” that includes my husband and my children, but they’re sort of not the focal point of it. This is my life from my perspective. And the other thing that I just sort of intuitively knew, and probably from watching other channels, was that there was absolutely a line. I couldn’t define it for you exactly, I couldn’t pinpoint it. It’s sort of one of those things like you know it when you’ve reached it, though.

And so, I always knew that I wasn’t ever gonna cross that line with my kids, and what I share. So, you do see my kids in videos, but we absolutely do not share super personal information about our kids. We actually don’t share anything about their adoption stories, in any kind of detail or specifics for our kids that are adopted. All of that is their story to share when they want. And in terms of filming – and this has like ebbed and flowed and changed a little bit over the years, and especially as our channel has grown, when you first start out and it’s like your grandma’s watching and your aunt’s watching and maybe a neighbor who found your channel, like those are the people who are watching.

So, it doesn’t feel like super intimidating. But the more that it grows, the more that you realize like, "Okay, there are like thousands of complete strangers watching this. So, I need to be very cognizant about what I’m showing, what I’m posting." So, we’ve definitely kind of navigated that as best as we could over the years. But now, we put up about two vlogs a week. So, I have two YouTube channels, I have the This Gathered Nest channel, which is like our vlog channel. And then I also have my personal channel, which is Angela Braniff is the name of the channel. So that’s more of like a lifestyle channel. So, I’ll share food stuff, and fashion stuff, and books that I’m reading, and just all kinds of stuff. But I feel like I have just… If we’re vlogging I let my kids know we’re vlogging today. And they also know that they do not have to be in videos or content if they don’t want to be. And I will tell you like ahead of time that can be problematic for viewers, because they feel like they know everything about your life, even though they’re only seeing 15 minutes 2 times a week. To them, it feels like everything.

So, they will jump to conclusions sometimes or make assumptions and that can be difficult to navigate. But at the end of the day, I always keep my kids’ privacy and, again, if they don’t wanna be filmed that day, if they don’t wanna be in videos, or like right now, one of my toddlers is going through what I’m calling her nudist phase, she just never wants to wear clothes, so she’s hardly in videos. And I have people messaging me being like, "Where’s Ivy? Is everything okay? We don’t see her." And I’m like, "She’s fine. She’s just never has any clothes on so you’re not gonna see her."

Jessica: You’re not gonna see her.

Angela: Because we don’t script our videos or anything like that. It’s just this is what’s happening in our life. I want it to feel very authentic and like you’re just there hanging out with me. I don’t want it to feel like a big production. So, I try to sort of keep that vibe. And because of that, I, in no way, am sort of going, "Okay, kids, time to show up on set at this time, and then you need to do this or that." So that’s kind of how we have navigated things.

“I want it to feel very authentic and like you’re just there hanging out with me. I don’t want it to feel like a big production.” Angela Braniff

And my daughters, especially my older ones, they actually have sort of wanted to be more in videos since we moved, especially with the animals and everything. They like sharing about that. But they always know, and I always ask them, like, "Are you okay with me filming? Or do you not want to be in this?" And they can say yes or no, and it’s totally up to them. And I really try to keep it, like I said, about my life from my perspective, and my kids are a part of that, but they’re not the central part of that, if that makes sense.

Jessica: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. So how do you organize your time? Because do you have sort of a… like, do you know, next week, which days that you’re gonna shoot, and if you’re shooting for Angela, or if you’re shooting for This Gathered Nest, and then if you’re shooting sponsored content? And then you’ve got… I mean, you wrote a book called "Love Without Borders." Like, how are you navigating?

 And then you homeschool, and then you’ve got all the animals, what does that… because I know you and I are both sevens on the enneagram, and so I know that we are ideators, and we can kind of live in the realm of possibility. And like, let’s start that. And we might just start things, because that’s what we feel like doing that day. But then there’s the whole like aspect of having to finish it.

And so, I’m just kind of curious, because I’m always having that balance of… I mean, obviously, I run a company, and so there is just responsibilities, and meetings, and deliverables, and dates, and things that are due. But then there’s also like, "Oh, I just, I don’t feel like that today, or I need to wait to do that until I’m feeling the creative kind of intent and motivation around it."

 

Stop Waiting and Start Living

So, I’m curious how you’ve been able to sort of keep that intent of authenticity and creativity while also having a really… I’m sure you’re a ninja with organizing all of this.

Angela: Oh, no, I’m a mess. I’m a mess. I really am a total mess with organizing things. I actually am so old school, like I have notebooks that I write in. I don’t really track anything electronically. Like everything is in notebooks with pens. And that’s just kind of how I am, like sticky notes and stuff like that. It drives people crazy. But it’s just how my brain works. But I totally feel you on the starting things and not finishing them, and on the needing the creativity to happen. So, the good news for me is that I’m my own boss, so I’m not gonna fire me. So, if I don’t show up for something or do something as I’m supposed to, the only person that’s really gonna pay is me.

Unfortunately, when you are working with brands, and there’s other things, there are deadlines, and that can be tough for somebody like me to keep up with. So I try my best to, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really sort of recognized that like, yes, this is your personality, this is your makeup, this is kind of how you are, but you’re also an adult who needs to behave as such, which means that if you have a deadline, you need to meet it, if you have this, you need to do it.

So, I try to… I really take my life in one-week chunks. Like I will look at the whole month, but I really take things in one-week chunks because when I am working with brands and different things, things can get pushed. So if I try to plan too far ahead, it will end up getting completely changed, something will happen, a brand will not get something approved in time, and so video A doesn’t get to go up in time, which affects when video B can go up.

So, I always have to kind of remain really flexible. So, I do think that this is where… For someone who – I have ADD and I have ever since I was a kid. And these things that really hinder you in childhood. And nobody really teaches you how to harness them and use them for good in your life later. And I do think that sometimes those kinds of personality traits, while they are seen as something you struggle with early on, I do think that they can be something that benefits you later because I do feel like my brain very much works in a way that I can be really flexible. I can change things around and move things around and it doesn’t stress me out. I can live my life in smaller chunks and not worry too much. I’m not super type A so I don’t need to know what’s gonna happen next week. In fact, it’s way more fun if I don’t. So I do keep my week schedule and I kind of look at what’s happening but I basically like every night before I go to bed, I sit down and I go through my calendar, and my list, and what do I need to do tomorrow, because that’s gonna determine whether or not I wake up and drink coffee and go feed animals in my pajamas or, make the kids breakfast, or if I need to wake up early, and take a shower, and be dressed, and have makeup on because I have to film something or whatever.

So, every day looks a little different for me, which again, is great for my seven-ness and also great for my ADD. I really was a terrible employee when I had to do desk jobs and things that were really monotonous.

So, I do think that’s part of the way that I thrive in my life and in my job is that things are always changing. And for some people, that’s super stress inducing, and it’s super anxiety producing, but for me, it’s really life giving to feel like I don’t really know what’s gonna happen in the next few weeks, or next month or whatever. And that’s okay. That kind of excites me a little bit. And like, I take the last week of December before the new year to make all of my sort of plans and ideas for the next year. And probably half of it will never happen. But I love the dreaming. I love the planning, I love all of the ideas and the, what-could-be type of thinking.

And it’s really just kind of fun for me to see, what can I get done? What can I achieve? But it does absolutely at times hinder things in terms of like writing a book. That for me, I wrote a lot of that book in the middle of the night because it was the only time my brain could shut down enough. Like I would wake up at 1:00 in the morning, and it was like, ping, "Okay, here’s what you need to write about." And I would just have to wake up and write in the middle of the night and forcing myself to sit down and write when I had the time. My husband was gonna watch the kids so I could sit down and write. And then I just stare at the page, and I’m like, "I don’t know what to write. Like, I don’t have the creative juices." And so, sort of forcing myself to feel creative when I don’t is still something that I struggle with. But I try my best to really work in block scheduling in terms of, like, on a daily basis. And my other thing that I always like to remind people is that it’s easy to look at our life from a distance and think, "Oh, my gosh, she’s doing all of these things." But in reality, I have an incredible husband, who is home full time helping with all of those things. I have older… yes, I have eight kids, but I have – my 2 oldest kids are 12 and 13. They’re incredibly independent and self-sufficient and very helpful. And we really do work together. And we’re never doing every single thing in one day, every day. It’s always kind of broken up.

Jessica: Wow. I love hearing that. I love that, yeah, you’ve learned to just embrace your strengths. And I love that you are not attached to outcomes. And that it really is the journey and the process and the dreaming. But just because you dream something, you’re not hanging your whole identity on if that’s gonna happen or not, you’re just, you’re okay to dream and then just kind of let life go where it might take you. At the same time, you know, you’ve… I mean, it is no small thing to adopt. I mean, as you know, we have a child who’s adopted and it’s just it’s a very intentional process, and especially international adoption, as you mentioned. So, you also have that bias towards action. You’re not just gonna sit and dream and write something down but you do take action. And this year, you took huge action by saying, "You know what, we are going to move."

For the person that is listening to this and has kind of maybe had a little bit of realization, especially during COVID-19, this idea of like, "Gosh, I’ve realized my priorities weren’t totally… where I wasn’t living out of my values." And COVID-19 sort of showed that. I think we all realized that we were hustling really hard and ramping and life has slowed down.

What would you say to that person about just going ahead and taking that action? What got you to really take that leap to going ahead and pursuing this farm dream?

Angela: Yeah, I think that the biggest thing is you have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect, everything to line up. It’s never going to. I mean, it’s sort of like when people say like, "When’s the right time to have a kid?" Well, there really isn’t a perfect time. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. I think we have a lot of misconceptions about what is happiness. What does that look like?

We see other people and social media has sort of wrecked how we see other people because we just see those highlights, and we think that that’s how life is all the time and how our life should be. And I, of course, have learned that it’s never gonna be like that. Things can be really, really hard. But one of our family’s mantras is that hard isn’t always bad and good isn’t always easy. So, the things that you look at our life and think that that’s really hard are the, most of the time, the biggest blessings in our life. And those things are things that just weren’t easy to get to. And I think that that’s the reality for most people.

“Things can be really, really hard. But one of our family’s mantras is that hard isn’t always bad and good isn’t always easy.” Angela Braniff

So, taking sort of all of those expectations off of it, and just saying, "This is something that I really want. I’m a big believer in like, I don’t wanna have regrets." There’s this funny quote, and I of course, I’m not gonna remember it right now, but basically about like, "I don’t wanna be buried like in this perfect, pristine body. Like, I wanna come skidding into that casket, bruised and beat up and having lived a life." And so that’s very much how I feel is, like, this is it.

I have just this one life. This is it. This is my only chance to do the things I wanna do, to live the life I wanna live. And not only do I want that for me, and for my husband, and for our family, I want my kids to see it. I want my daughters to see it. I want them to see their mom doing the things that she’s passionate about and chasing our dreams and doing the things that we feel like are gonna bring so much value to our family as a whole. Like I want them to see me doing that and know that they can do that too.

Jessica: Okay, I feel sort of bad that I opened the podcast just – she breaks down the stereotype of what I would think of a mom with eight kids living on a farm. She loves jewelry, she’s been a Noonday Ambassador, she is so unassuming and she’s a laid-back mom, and I just learned so much from her. She’s just a refreshing place on the internet, and I know we’re all looking for refreshing places on the internet.

So, if you want to be refreshed, you can go check out her YouTube channel This Gathered Nest and her other one Angela Braniff and then on Instagram she is @ThisGatheredNest.

Before we go, I would love for you to review and raise the podcast or just spread the word about the podcast. So many of you guys entered our giveaway that we did it to launch the series, and it just it helps people find this podcast, this conversation, especially after a long break.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger.

Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.