Unfeathering the Nest

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When I was very young I loved it when I would come home from school and my mother had rearranged my bedroom.  I loved decorations and furnishings even early on.  Fast forward to thirteen years old and you would find me and my best friend, Susan, shopping the antique stores down south Broadway with our babysitting money.  I still have an antique Folgers can in my kitchen from one of our excursions.  I couldn’t wait to decorate my first home.  Off white lace curtains, hand me down furniture, painted walls, my own artwork on the walls.  I have found treasures and trinkets, unique pieces, and have held onto heirlooms from our respective families.  Our home has always been a reflection of our love for cozy quarters and a house full of family and friends.  It is easy to feather a nest.  I have been doing it for thirty years.  How does one unfeather a nest?

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Sometimes we begin to view things as an extension of ourselves.  Something holds a memory.  Something holds a belief.  Something makes us happy to see it.  It is often hard to look at a material item and see it for what it is, wood, nails, paint, metal, glass.  It is not easy to part with things that we have used to decorate our homes, that belonged to our grandmother, that our children gave us, or that we collected over the years on vacations.  So how does one deal with watching each piece leave one by one?  How does one get rid of all of their possessions?  We know some folks have the trauma of natural disaster that does it for them.  I do not know which is harder, having everything gone in one fell swoop, or consciously watching each piece walk out the door.  Here are some tips I have learned to downsize one’s possessions.

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1. Realize that the memory associated or the person it reminds you of does not leave with the piece.  You will still remember great grandma’s smiling face at the door, the cruise on your honeymoon, your child in second grade.  Getting rid of yearbooks and old drawings and awards and journals and clothes and furniture does not take away anything from your life history, memories, or people in your life.  Detach the memory from the piece and you will just see another item that will eventually deteriorate.

2. Imagine the item torn or broken.  I have Doug’s grandmother’s watch.  I bet it is eighty years old.  It is beautiful and intricate and worthless.  It does not work, it cannot be repaired, then when dropped accidentally the face fell off.  It no longer looked intricate or beautiful.  It was just a paper face.  If the leg broke off a table, would it still be valuable to you?  Envision things as broken and see if they still hold a place in your heart.

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3. Imagine moving all that stuff!  We helped our friends move out of another friend’s home.  That latter friend has to fix his home up to sell.  Many, many years of accumulated items clutter the yard and home.  I do not know how he will do it.  The land we are on now holds a collection of discarded items that once held value and now look like a giant dump!  Things break, they rust, they deteriorate, they are just things.  When Doug’s grandmother died no one wanted any of her things.  It became a burden for those involved to empty her apartment.  It is hard for those left behind to sort and try to give away everything that the person in life held dear.  The material items do not hold the same memories to the ones trying to clean up the accumulation of things.

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4. What is the actual value of an item?  I paid $300 the gorgeous New Mexican style armoire that held our television.   It is a heavy, sturdy piece in great condition.  I have it for sale for a hundred dollars and no one wants it.  I thought I would get $10,000 for all of our antique collections, farm implements, animals, collectables, fine china, heirlooms, and stuff.  Closer to $2000 will be the final number.

Material items are really worthless.  Using just what we need and releasing attachments to finite items can help unfeather the nest.  It makes it easy for the next generation to sort our things when we pass away, leaves us with less housework and burdens, and gives us more freedom.  The real treasures are the lives that share ours; our cats, friends, children, neighbors, wildlife, people, they are what is important, not an antique Folgers can.

Building With Cob (a Basic How-To)

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Yesterday I took you with me to tour an enchanting homestead belonging to my friends, Niko and Brandi and their lovely girls.  Niko is a cobb builder by trade.  He owns the Colorado Cob Company.  He can build anything from a chicken coop to a two story house.  I’ll give you all of his information at the end so you can contact him to make you something wonderful for your homestead.

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These aren’t precise directions since I was talking with folks the whole time I was there but I was so intrigued by this form of building.  If you have been following my writings for some time you know that Doug and I have a great love of New Mexico and adobe structures.  Adobe is made by taking this same formulation and drying it in large bricks.  Cob is more freeform.

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Niko started with a 5 gallon bucket of clay that he sourced from a job site in town where someone was digging out a basement.  He added a 5 gallon bucket of sand (purchased and salvaged off of craigslist from the flooding in the area last year).

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The mix was sifted by hand to eliminate any large clumps or foreign objects like glass or nails.

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One person on each side shook the tarp, folded it, stepped on it quickly and then the next person would fold it, give it a stomp until it was combined.

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Then the fun began.  A well was made in the center of the dirt and water from the hose added to the middle.  Then children and adults alike stomped in the mud to create a pudding like consistency.

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More water was added and a person on each side repeated the process of folding and stomping.

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They did this until the form freely fell away from the tarp and looked like a burrito!  Doug and Chris were on the other side of the crowd chatting.  I could just see the ideas over yonder bubbling from them.  It will be great fun building our chicken coop and bread oven and whatever else they dream up.

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Straw was added in fine layers so not to allow clumps and this too was stomped in.  This creates a network of strength throughout the clay and sand medium.

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The children had so much fun blending with their feet.  The mix is done when straw can be seen in any clump that is taken off but no thick masses of straw.  It must be all well combined.

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The cob is added over a heavy foundation of large stones and then can be blended over wood outlines and mesh.  For an example he used a large stone by the garden.  Folks helped to blend balls of clay on top of each other using a slip if necessary to moisten and bits of straw to help blend.  A stick can be employed to help blend two masses together.  They created a fun little cat goddess.  The entire batch only made the cat goddess about a foot and half high.  So for large projects a cement mixer or other large piece of machinery may be used.

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The cob is left to dry a few days then a plaster is added.  A five gallon bucket of slip (a blend of clay and water to make a thin paint-like consistency and left to sit for two weeks stirring daily) is poured through two screens into a container.  A shovel is used to sift it though the strainers.

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Sand is then sifted through a screen and once a five gallon bucket’s worth is sifted it is added to the slip mixture in the container.

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A five gallon bucket of horse manure is added to the mix.  Shovels and a giant mixer is used to blend it into plaster.

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Niko through a ball of the plaster against the house as a demonstration of its solidity.

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This will be added to the cob structure to create a more protected structure.

Cob building is a project that allows the homesteader to make affordable structures that are unique and artistic.  But also allows the participant to play in the mud!

Colorado Cob Company (click name to be taken to website)

Nikolai Woolf

719-510-7566

He also offers classes and hands on workshops for any sized project!

The Enchanting Urban Homestead (a field trip, class, and future)

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Farmgirl school is supposed to be uplifting, inspirational, and full of fun and hope.  It is also about our life so I suppose not everything can be as such but I inadvertently caused a storm of emotions for many people across the continent and beyond in empathy for us.  We want you to know that we just do not have the extra strength or energy it would take to rip out the wood stove, pipes, fittings and fix the ceiling at this point.  We have no emotional attachment to the stove.  Our hundreds of plants will feed the local wildlife and a lot of hungry girl scouts that are coming Monday to take home a transplant since they helped create the garden in the first place!  We are not sad over these things any longer.  With the encroaching wind mills and the negativity here we are more than ready to head out on our next journey.  So let’s get back to the inspiration and hope part of this blog!  Yesterday we visited a lovely urban homestead that was so enchanting and complete that I am ready to get back into the city.  We were there taking a cob building class to make outdoor structures.  Doug and Chris will be creating a chicken coop, bread oven, and who knows what else!  Tomorrow I will take you through our class to learn to make cob.  But today I want to take you through the enchanted homestead of my friend, Niko and his wife, Brandi at Folkways Farm.  

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It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote a blog post about Old Colorado City (which is a bike ride away from where we are going to live) and that is where we headed this fine evening.  I met Niko three years ago when Joel Salatin came to speak at a local farm.  He sat with me and Nancy and we talked all things homesteading, about his family, his work as a cobb builder, and we told him about our adventures in homesteading.  I later ran into him building a yurt with our friend when we went to visit the goat she bought from us, and then at the homesteading store, and then…well, you get the picture.  We were meant to meet.

His beautiful wife held their youngest daughter on her hip and spoke freely with the guests.  His middle daughter came up to me and took me with her on a tour of the “forest” where a silent cat lay secretly in the high weeds below trees.  They are easy people, barefoot, comfortable in their surroundings and self and I was instantly drawn to them.

They have created an oasis in town, a secret place of sustenance and wealth.  Herb gardens, Permaculture gardens of food, honey bees, goats, a shed-barn, and places to get lost and read or dream or be.  The plot of land is about the same size as the one we are moving to and I was so inspired and overwhelmed with ideas and joy.

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The cob structures look to be out of a fairy tale.  A sweet chicken coop stands off the back porch.  Another is a bit more elaborate and whimsical.  It is a chicken coop with a bread oven on the side.  One could start a fire in the cooking area to heat the coop on the coldest nights while making some delicious thin crust pizzas.  A door on the other side lets the chickens out to wander a closed in area that felt roomy and lush.  A towering apple tree above provided shade.

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The greenhouse built in the back yard was a structure of fine art and skill, a transporting place out of the cold.  A place for tea and books in autumn and a place to grow starts in the spring.  All made from reclaimed windows, mesh, wood, straw, clay, sand, water, manure, and painted with beautiful slips.  Niko is an artist above being a builder.

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One can meander from the front herb garden, past the vegetable gardens, visit the bees, duck under the apple tree, wade through weeds and medicinal herbs, follow a path past the goat yard, past bins of delicious compost, a pile of wood, the beautiful green house, wave to the chickens, pass the hemp plants growing tall for fiber, onto the back porch to sit a spell, and visit with the kind family that lives there.

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I spoke with Jillian at the end of the class.  She wanted to make sure that I considered our new venture to be our homestead. I asked what if we jumped forward fifty years and there we still were and her then much older daughter would mention to visitors that her crazy aunt lives in the back.  “That would be fine,” Jillian replied.

And so begins our urban farm adventure.

Winds of Change

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The warm wind blew around me foretelling a light rain to come.  The mosquitos lessened and took cover as I pulled bindweed and thistle.  I don’t know why I would be weeding a garden that I cannot harvest from but I looked down the other day and noticed my nails were clean.  The lines in my hands were free of earth.  I had to get back into the garden.  I pulled weeds and counted what was growing.  Rows and rows of crops are waving proudly in the prairie soil.  Plants growing heartily in the prairie without much amendment and among weeds and voles.  My goodness, I think I can say I have a green thumb now.  How easy it will be in the city.  I begin to cry.  The cows are lowing loudly to capture the attention of the males across the road and the owls sweep grandly from tree to tree and the wind carries on it the sweet smell of first cut hay drying in the sun.  The country holds a place in my heart that cannot be tethered.  But it is not meant to be for us now.

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There are great opportunities in the city as well.  Wonderful folks to meet and wilder animals coming through from the mountains.  Its own beautiful scenery and friends to be found.  And seeds.  I can always plant seeds.  A message from a friend and I now understand.  It is sometimes hard to step off and go with the wind in a new direction but there is always a reason and the Creator knows where we are going in this sliver of time.  We just have to hold on to the tailwind and be on our way.

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Farmgirl School Part 3 (cottages, mountains, and Permaculture)

Doug holding one of the cows we were treating

Farmgirl School began while looking out the French doors onto a barren back yard in a small town.  Two dogs slept behind me as I set up the WordPress site.  What to name it?  It seemed perfect.  I needed a school!  Things that we were not taught growing up in the city were difficult to learn, we often did it the hard way, and the adventures were funny and informative to write about.  Our first garden there was short and compact.  We didn’t water enough.  By the third summer there we were quite a spectacle when folks drove down the main road in front of our house.  There we were among honey bees, watering the expansive pumpkin patches along with all the other vegetables that had taken over the yard.  The corn field in the driveway, the raised beds, the chicken in the front yard that wasn’t supposed to be there, the goats in the back yard.  The ducks playing in their pool.  It was quite a blissful place there in town.

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Last fall we moved to a homestead without heat, without any luxuries, and made our way chopping wood, hauling water, taking care of sheep, goats, and chickens.  We worked and toiled through hail and cold to put in a half an acre garden, and donned our accomplishments with peace and pride.  So the delusional insinuations and the suddenly suburb-same rent was a blessing, it turns out. (As these things always do.)  The most we lost was all of our money and a tiny piece of our sanity.  As I write a looming picture comes to view, a futuresque, Tim Burton style Holland appears all across the horizon, and amazingly close to this property, a windmill farm threatens my beautiful owls and the equilibrium of the occupants in this area.  Well, the lessons we learned here were great.  We realize that nature provides.  A willow tree can provide food at its base, water nearby, medicine in its branches, and shelter from storms.  And it turns out we didn’t need so much stuff!  The owners of this property will be gifted with the lovely wood stove we put in and a half an acre of food.  I hope it blesses them and that they will find happiness.

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And now we are off to Part 3 of Farmgirl school.  I felt suddenly saddened that I may not have anything else to write about, that our farming, homesteading, living sustainably, poetical outlet was finished.  This blog seems to be a bit of a life force for me.  I so look forward to waking with the sun to write about our adventures, to teach, to learn from readers, to ignite friendships around the world.  And I am so pleased to announce our next step of this adventure.

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Remember in January when the house was forty-five degrees and we could see our breath because the wood cook stove in the kitchen didn’t actually heat the house?  We escaped to the Indian Hot Springs that day in the mountains and soaked in the warm pool.  There were two girls there that just seemed like light filled spirits and I had to go tell them how lovely they were.  One of the ladies, Jillian, contacted me a few months later and signed up for the herbalism course.  Each week I see her and when it was apparent we had to leave here she had a brilliant idea that she and her husband, Chris, pitched to me and Doug over drinks on a patio of a historic hotel at the base of Pikes Peak.  A co-homestead.

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They close on a bed and breakfast in Manitou Springs in three weeks.  The beautiful old inn is a smiling Victorian in town with a wee cottage in back.  One room will be available through Air B&B on weekends.  They will inhabit the upstairs and most of the downstairs.  A large area with a classroom is being set up for our respective classes.  We can see a large blackboard with that week’s specials on it that Jillian and I lovingly prepare en masse once a week in the larger kitchen.  She is a baker and a great cook.  You all already know my obsessions with great food and cooking techniques.  Perhaps I will finish that Sommelier Certification.  We have great plans for feeding our families.  A large root cellar and pantry downstairs will hold our hundreds of preserved foods and root cellared items.  We will don our aprons and create sustenance for winter.

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The men are heading to a cobb making workshop Thursday to learn to build an outdoor kitchen, bread oven, and hobbit style chicken coop.  They are planning the infrastructure of the new urban farm.  Chris is planning a party where the local experts on Permaculture and sustainable gardening come and mingle and note where things might work well in the new garden to be.  The large u-shaped driveway will become a meandering, lush oasis of food and teaching.  We can glean knowledge from these folks that have done this before and then take our own ideas and create this garden complete with a greenhouse (and possibly a solar heated hot tub within!).  The three of us have taken Permaculture classes but need to just put it into place with our hands.  They have learned more than I and I am excited to have new teachers all around me.

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The cottage is three hundred square feet.  It is, um, quaint.  And enchanting, and challenging, and cozy.  A Snow White cottage in the middle of town surrounded by trees and lilacs.  It’s pink, and has shutters, and window boxes.  It is the playhouse I always wanted!

Half a block away is the main strip of shops and restaurants in this historic town that nestles at the base of our favorite mountain.  My great, great, great uncle was Zebulon Pike and my adventurous spirit comes from the lines of pioneers before me!

We will be warm this winter.  We will be visiting farmer’s markets, preserving food, getting honey bees, creating a Permaculture garden, ponds, and a greenhouse.  We’ll have an outdoor kitchen, a traditional horno, chickens, ducks, and herb gardens galore.  We will be co-homesteading, proving that it can work, sharing the load, and creating an oasis here that will inspire and sustain.  Their sweet daughter, Ahna, can enjoy the security and serenity of this place, and Maryjane will be with me two or three days a week where she will be doted on and taught by a whole new family of people.

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I changed the name of my herbal school to Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine and will teach classes there.  I’ll tell you more about that later.  We are brimming with ideas and excitement for this new venture.  Even though this place is incredibly breathtakingly beautiful, it seems to always be in a fog, always windy, colder than town, and not really our home after all.

I raise my coffee cup to you, here’s to new adventures on the journey ahead.  Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to see what we will all learn next in Farmgirl School!

The Power of a Compliment

She was shy and reserved, and clearly did not necessarily want to there helping adults move.  Her dark skin was perfect.  She glowed with health.  Her long, long, glistening black hair was in three braids.  She was lovely.  A very young teenager with wholesome cheeks, but not a smile to cross them.  When I spoke at the Indian summer program last week she was there.  No smile, just lost within her own world of shyness.  My daughter was like that.  I understood.  But here we met again to help our mutual friend and still no smile.

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I casually said, “You know you are the most beautiful young woman I have ever seen.”  And she was.  A veritable Native princess.  Beautiful in her own way and a testament of time and grace.  I could see her in a tribe a hundred plus years ago as I could with her tennis shoes today.  She may not have matched the exact modern standards of models but she was prettier than many of them.

“You probably hear that all the time.”  A blush rose up slightly and a smile transformed that beautiful face.  She shook her head no and lowered her eyes, still smiling.

Why do we keep compliments to ourselves?  We may compliment our friends or family but clearly rarely strangers.  Perhaps we feel strange about it or think they will find us daft or odd for just out of the blue telling someone they are beautiful or that we love their hair or clothes or spirit.  It is just amazing what happens if you let yourself go crazy with the compliments.

First of all, you will feel lighter.  Truly, if you feel defeated, devastated, angry, hopeless, frazzled, or heck, even happy, once you utter that compliment, especially to someone you don’t think receives random words all the time, you will feel better.  That you caused a smile, a surprised thank you, or a even a slight blush is a gift you just gave to a fellow human making their journey in this world.  We all need encouragement.

Then you spread the cycle of joy which we need more of out there.  From the awkward teenager to the beauty queen walking down the street (yes, you should compliment beauty queens too, they are just women, we all need compliments) to the older man pushing a walker to the librarian quietly shelving books.  Open your heart and say as many compliments you can each day.  We all know that we ourselves would love to hear more nice things, let’s get to spreading the love.

Setting Yourself Free (Part 5- Letting Go and Dreaming New)

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I have written many times about how to manifest your dreams.  Write them down, set a goal list, talk about them, and watch them turn into reality!  It is a science.  It works.  What I haven’t written about is what happens when that dream comes true then gets taken away?  How do you restart?  How do you manifest a new existence when the circumstances are being laid out for you.

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Someone responded on my blog post Sunday that they hope I find what I am looking for.  That bothered me all day because I did find what I was looking for!  I am living on my homestead!  I had trouble putting the hand clothes washer for sale.  What if I need it?  Folks, I haven’t used it in two years!  BUT, what if I get my off grid homestead and don’t have a washer?!  Things to think about, people.  I put it up for sale anyway.  I know we have nesting instincts and want to be prepared and all, but I am starting to look around and realize I am prepared to have a dinner party for seventy-five people! I have three tables, cupboards of dishes, closets of clothes when we only wear a few outfits, and things we just do not use.

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We went walking in Castlewood Canyon yesterday.  A miraculously beautiful and peaceful place, it balms the soul and brings calm with its breathtaking features.

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Doug and I talked and then fell into silence.  We would bring up ideas, then fall into silence.  For an hour we walked, sat, dreamed, talked.  This homestead isn’t really what we wanted after all.  If we are going to live thirty feet from someone on a homestead they need to be likeminded folks.  We also talked about how the most devastating part is behind us.  The loss of our animals was difficult and the death of our dream was too.  But now as each thing leaves the house, as we sell off one more piece of furniture, fill one more bag for charity, sell one more pile of things, we are beginning to feel something we really have never felt, liberated.  We are daring to dream of another existence.

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Perhaps I can speak at herb conferences.  Perhaps we can be so light on possessions that it is nothing to pick up and head around the country writing about farms.  Or visiting friends.  We are free.  We need to get a backpack.

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For the next 18 months or so I am going to step back from my ego.  Seek out teachers for herbalism and Permaculture and whatever else the wide world thinks I ought to learn.  Guitar lessons, continue my wine classes, who knows?  Improve my art and maybe get my things in a gallery?  Or just enjoy homesteading with my co-homesteading compatriots.  I want to be more quiet, more helpful, more creative.  There are wine bars, and restaurants, and ice cream shops all down the strip near our new home that beckons to be tried out.  Each and every one.

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I will be with my husband.  My closest friend.  I could walk with him forever.  What do we need with all these possessions?

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A lot of folks right now have had major transitions or on the brink of them.  Maybe take a little time today to write down what you would like to do (or not do) in the next year.  Then gather up a bag for charity and let some things go.  Let us let ourselves go.

Setting Yourself Free (Part 4- Using Spirit Herbs for Balance)

Herbs have been used since the beginning of time to heal ailments.  Herbs are perfectly synergistic to the animal body and work amazingly all the time.  No need to patent or change or manipulate herbs into allopathic medicine, they are perfect the way they are.  Since our bodies are so complex it is important to realize and understand that many ailments may not be strictly mental or physical.  Everything is interconnected and our spirits and our outer shells work together.  So, if one is stressed or consumed by fear, it effects the pituitary gland, which controls the hormones, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system.  The pituitary gland is located on top of the head, which incidentally is where the Crown Chakra is located.  Our connection as spirit to the Creator and the spiritual realm is concentrated there.  Connecting with the Creator, having hope and faith, relieves stress and gives us joy which relieves pain and ailments.

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I have written a lot about herbs for physical healing but this piece is about spiritual healing and connection.  If you have ever seen a deceased body there is no doubt that it is a shell, an empty vessel.  The soul/spirit has gone back to it’s Source.  By keeping our connection to the much larger scope of universe and spiritual world, we keep our perceptions clear and also empower ourselves to keep our minds thinking of positive as opposed to negative thoughts.  We grow and learn on this journey.

I am writing a devotional right now that will be out this fall.  Our family’s favorite gift for holidays was always writing books.  Blank sheets of paper waiting to be filled with drawings, poems, and writings thrilled me and the children.  Still, a new journal pleases me so.  I am writing a devotional that will lead folks through meditation each day and include a spirit tea to secure that meditation with plenty of places to write and dream.

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For instance:  If I focus on the word LOVE during meditation then my tea would be herbs like hawthorn and roses which are specific to heart which protect and increase happiness.  Here are a few blends for you to try.  You can get herbs from a local apothecary or online or wild craft them yourself!  Most herbs are dried.

LOVE

1 teaspoon of hawthorn berries (heals heartbreak, protects heart)

1 teaspoon of pink or red rose petals (infuses love, mild nervine)

1 teaspoon of rose hips (anti-inflammatory, protects heart chakra)

a 1/4 inch slice of ginger (root chakra, connected to the earth, respect for all)

Pour boiling water over herbs.  This makes 2 cups.  I like to reuse the herbs later that day.  A quart a day of this tea is lovely.  My friend infused delicious honey with lilacs (one of my favorite flowers) and I use that in my teas.

PROTECTION

1 teaspoon of angelica (creates shield of protection on home and self)

1 leaf of bay (protection from evil spirits)

1 teaspoon of lavender (calmative, faith)

1 teaspoon of roses (love, heart protector)

1 teaspoon of borage (barbed, happiness inducing/fear reducing)

HAPPINESS

1  teaspoon of St. John’s Wort (named after John the Baptist, protector of spirit)

1 teaspoon of borage (joy, nervine)

1 teaspoon of hawthorn (heart protector)

1 teaspoon of lemon balm (uplifting)

a squeeze of lemon (brightness and joy)

This is our fourth day of the Setting Yourself Free series.  I hope that you are choosing happiness, releasing blame, practicing a bit of yoga, taking time to think and meditate, and I hope you will enjoy your tea today.  Tomorrow we will dream and plan and manifest!

Setting Yourself Free (Part 3- Clearing the Mind to Find Freedom)

Part of what keeps us trapped is our own minds.  Especially in our society, the urge to go-go-go and our tendencies to take on so much is detrimental to our peace of mind and our inner freedom.  We are experts at multi-tasking, multiple jobs, multiple roles, and our minds are filled constantly with conversations, to-do lists, worries, excitements, and daydreams.  Meditating is a way to quiet everything down.

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Meditation is simply sitting still and quieting the mind.  This can be anywhere, though I find it very peaceful in nature.  Sometimes my bedroom with the door closed is the best I can get.  It can be sitting cross legged on the floor or sitting still in a chair.  Getting your mind to slow down is a whole other battle.  Images and other subjects try to race around causing chaos.

Now, for just a few minutes a day, seriously, I think I meditate for two, sit still and release.  Fill your lungs completely, through your diaphragm for four seconds, hold for four seconds, release for four seconds.  You don’t have to count, just make sure you are breathing!  Focus on a word.  See that word in your mind.  Each day I focus on a word like LOVE, or PEACE, or JOY, or ACCEPTANCE, FAITH, or HOPE.  Just look at that word sitting there.  If you start to wander off mentally, just come back and look at that word.  You will find a surge of light come through you, an exhale, a breath of freedom, and you will find that word.  Whether it be love, or joy, or another of your choice.

I like to do this after I have done my 20 minutes of yoga so that I feel strong mentally and physically for the day.

Each day I have a herbal spirit tea after meditating.  Herbs are not just for physical healing, they are for spiritual and mental healing as well.  Tomorrow I will fill you in and give you some recipes.  In the meantime, enjoy your releasing.  I hope you are embracing happiness, your body and the strength it holds, and now peace of mind and clarity.  You will be surprised what simple answers come to you after even a few minutes of meditation.

Setting Yourself Free (Part 2- Strength and Balance in 20 minutes)

Yesterday we learned how to help the mind and the heart release, consciously choosing happiness.  Today we will remember to send people off in bubbles, slam file drawers, and walk out of imaginary rooms.  To add to that today we will strengthen our body, our physical core, the outer vessel of our spirit.

yoga 2

I have no desire to go to the gym.  Doug and I did that for years with nary a change.  We also like staying near the house.  We keep in pretty good shape from hauling wood, water, and farming but now we are moving to the city and will need to find new ways to keep our bodies strong.  We are not talking body building strong, just strong enough to carry around our spirit and let us do the things we want to do.  The steep hills and walking trails of Manitou will be delightful to explore.  There is yoga taught there seven days a week and I can hardly wait!

My favorite video.

My favorite video.

I started doing yoga when we became engaged.  I wanted to be strong and beautiful.  I am not a natural!  I cannot stand on my head or do any of the extensive moves but everything I can do makes me feel rooted and strong and gorgeous and connected to the world around me.  I have muscle definition and flexibility for everything I want to do, in 20 minutes a day.  I can either pop in a video and do yoga with the cats in the living room or remember many moves and practice yoga outside in front of the owls and the vast prairie.

yoga 3

Yoga can be done by anyone, however slight or advanced.  I do not own yoga pants or even have a yoga mat!  It is a wonderful way to keep balanced in 20 minutes a day, or every other day!  When you are practicing yoga, feel your feet connect to the earth.  Feel the top of your head connect to the sky and Creator.  Pull yourself up as you do moves.  Feel beautiful.  For you are a beautiful creation.