Meet Horny Toad models Caroline and Michael. We’d offer an intro saying how great they are, but their interview pretty much speaks for itself.
HT: Who are you, Caroline and Michael?
Michael: We are a couple of madly in love newlyweds. We are educators, entrepreneurs, permaculturalists, travelers and yogis. We are life loving, passionate, empowered and inspired individuals who are here to make a difference.
HT: Tell us about your work.
Caroline: I have a small business called One World Permaculture that offers education, consulting and design. My favorite scenario is when I fuse them together, consult a client and create a learning opportunity to share with the community. That is what One World Permaculture is all about.
Our home is my biggest project as well as a weekly classroom for 10 adults who are earning their Permaculture Design Certificate. We house seven hens, two cats and a sweet bee hive as well as many gardens. Our goal is to create an urban permaculture center and to grow more food than we can eat. There is always more to do but I love my work! Working with students and clients spreading the good word of sustainability makes the full schedule feel easy. I can say that I am going with the flow and feeling the abundance. I also teach Permaculture design at Austin Community College and feel blessed to be able to offer these design techniques in this setting.
Michael: I am the owner/director of the Whole Life Learning Center in Austin, TX. It’s a three day program for youth ages 5-13. I taught at a handful of alternative schools around Austin before realizing that the school I wanted to work at didn’t exist yet, so I founded it! Our program has a holistic, integrated, inspired curriculum developed with the youth and the community. We also run a one-day program called Freedom Fridays which is a ton of fun too!
HT: How did you get involved with permaculture?
Caroline: I discovered permaculture while living outside of Durango, Colorado in 2005 and quickly started studying and practicing the design principles. I brought them into my lower elementary Montessori classroom. Reconnecting youth to the interconnectedness of all things kept me inspired and wanting to learn more on the subject. Now I feel rooted in the study and practice and try to incorporate it into every facet of life.
Michael: I had heard of permaculture while at the University of Illinois, but I didn’t live permaculture until I came to Austin. I moved onto a five acre ranch complete with chickens, fruit trees, and a dozen garden beds. I quickly tapped into the vibrant permie community around Austin and got involved with various projects and initiatives. I find that, more than anything, permaculture is a lifestyle, which I love sharing with Caroline and our community.
HT: What do you do for fun?
Caroline: My new favorite thing is playing the ukulele and writing simple songs. I just bought a new uke in Hawaii and am in love with her! Michael and I play together as much as possible. Also, going to Barton Springs, traveling just about anywhere, gardening, keeping my bees, and cooking delicious meals for the people I love.
Michael: We ride our bikes down to Barton Springs to lay out in the sun, take a dip in the rejuvenating waters, play some Frisbee, do some acro-yoga, and strum our ukuleles. We also love to be out in the gardens working on our little slice of paradise.
HT: You’ve just returned from Hawaii… tell us a little about that.
Caroline: …I can say that it was a powerful trip. We were on retreat for ten days and traveled a bit on either side. It was also our honeymoon and was the perfect way to deepen our relationship as well as the spiritual foundation that we are building our marriage upon. We sang, snorkeled, swam with spinner dolphins and turtles, all in deep meditation. I left Hawaii in such a deep love for my husband, God and myself and am still flying.
HT: Everyone on the Spring ’12 photo shoot talks about how there wasn’t a dry eye in the house the time you sang to each other on the sofa (see top photo). If you don’t mind, tell us what you like best about the other person.
Caroline: Michael’s willingness to love and be loved. . . and his playfulness. Plus, He is so damn HOT!
Michael: Ha! Sometimes we have to be careful not to make folks puke from our cuteness! I fell in love with Caroline the moment I set eyes on her. We met at a teacher training, she was the new Language Arts teacher. As we got to know each other that weekend I saw her beauty, strength, and open heart shining through. Most of all, it’s her willingness to say a big YES to life that made me fall in love with Caroline.
HT: Where do you see yourselves a year from now?
Caroline: A year from now. . . so much can happen in a year. If everything continues I see myself rooted in the community, serving in remembrance. We have both planted so many seeds in the last year and are nurturing our baby projects. A year from now, we will most likely be doing the same.
Michael: Thriving, growing as partners and as individuals, and pouring passion into our projects.
HT: What inspires you?
Caroline: Standing in my truth and living from my heart at all cost inspires me. I am inspired by the perfection and interdependence of nature and the universe.
Michael: The feeling of aliveness I get when I remember that I am the author of my own destiny, I am the artist creating the masterpiece of my life (when I let go and let God/Life Force/Love move my paintbrush, that is). I stay inspired by doing what I love and loving what I do. I and I love helping others do the same (it’s contagious). In short, music and movement, handstands, the arts, balancing rocks, Nature, watching the milk swirl in my coffee, learning, sweet love, community, and good food & drink!
HT: How do you define comfort?
Caroline: Comfort is feeling at ease in any situation. Comfort is soft, flexible, and stylish. Comfort is necessary.
Michael: Feeling at home within my self. Balanced. Allowing myself to be carried by the world, rather than trying to carry it. That’s comfort.
HT: What is your fondest wish for the world?
Caroline: I wish for the world to open our eyes to possibility. If we can dream it, it is possible.
Michael: For people everywhere to wake up to their true selves, and their calling, or dharma, in life. For people everywhere to wake up to their relationship with our Mother, Earth, and to see all the beautiful possibilities for human culture here. And for people everywhere to see the beauty and perfection and inherent rights of all human beings. A global culture and family, living locally, and vibrantly in harmony with the whole planet. Amen.