By Lori DeYoung
Lori DeYoung is a “young” baby boomer who grew up with depression-era, middle-aged parents who adopted her in 1961 at the age of two months. Lori still lives in her childhood home, located in the small rural village of Fithian (population: 500) in East Central Illinois. Her front yard continues to be home to the two very large maples that her parents planted fifty-six years ago to celebrate her arrival into their family. Lori and her former husband, Dennis, raised their children in this home and their 28 year old daughter, Chelsey, continues to live there and acts as The Healing Homesteader’s Helper.
Lori earned her PhD in Social Work from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and has been a child welfare/mental health professional for the last 26 years. She is a former adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, as well as working in the private and government sector. Once entangled in the chaotic and exhausting world of government work along with the intrigue of consumerism (the more you have, the more you spend, right?), Lori made a purposeful decision four years ago to slow her life down and leave the life of full-time employment. She returned to her own small private practice as a consultant, therapist and Master Dirt Digger in the small homestead she has created in the backyard of her home. As mother to five hens (Mae, Miriam, Muffin, Moxie and Mildred), one husky-chow (Sprocket), three cats to which she is allergic but were found abandoned near her home (Gizmo, Mia and Maple), three koi (Abe, Illini and Muhashi) along with being a step-grandmother to her daughter’s snake (Lucca), Lori can’t quite remember how she ever got all her chores done when she worked full-time outside of the home. She is an organic gardener, composter and recycler because she wants to do her part to keep Mother Nature as healthy as possible. Her friends dub her the “pioneer woman” because she enjoys old-fashioned hobbies like making homemade lye soap, laundry and dish soap, cooking from scratch, and hanging clothes on the line or wooden racks inside during winter. She has found that digging in the dirt can heal the soul just as much as a good therapy session.