Finding Your Passion and Current Purpose-part 2

20180130_164503We all have a purpose.  There is not just one purpose but many interwoven with each other through time.  You are not just a mom, a wife, a farmer, a nurse, or a teacher.  You are a spiritual and feeling being and a human with desires and passions.  Identifying those passions that you have right now (passions change as you complete your paths) will help you find what will bring you the most joy.

It may be a career, or learning a new skill, it may be a profound change in yourself or your family for the better, whatever it is, it will create ripple effects throughout the world and space because everything that you do that is positive and with passion will grow and inspire others and will help you do what you are here to learn and experience.  Your dreams are not coincidental or fanciful or elusive.  If you have that desire now, it is for a reason.

Quiz time!  Grab a piece of paper (or a journal because this may the beginning of your journey!) and let us begin to piece it all together.

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1. In your ideal life when you wake up in the morning where are you?  Hawaii?  South Dakota?  Italy?

On a farm?  In the city?  In a cozy home?  Be detailed.  Even if you think it is impossible.  Be exact.

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2. In your ideal life who is there with you?  Be honest.  Are you happy in your relationships?  Are there things that need to be addressed?  Who are the people that you love most and that make your life beautiful and fulfilling?

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3. In your ideal life, when you first wake up, what are you doing?  What is your role?  Are you a writer?  A farmer?  A traveler?  A doctor?  What do people come to you for?

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4. Picture yourself in your mind’s eye.  What do you look like?  What do you want to look like?

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5. Name all of the things you have interest in right now, no matter how small.  Gardening, running a bed and breakfast, starting a sanctuary, going back to school, opening a restaurant, learning yoga, getting rid of clutter, losing weight, writing a book, getting a dog….write down everything!  They may not seem related but upon further analysis you may see that they are all related!

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6. What are you best at?  What do people come to you for or say that you are the best at?  Does that thing bring you joy?

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7. Name twenty blessings in your life right now.  Name five things you would like to see morph into something better.

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Now go back and answer questions 1-3 in present tense. How things are now.  Compare them to your ideal life.

Really study what you do, where you want to be, who you want to be with, what your passions and interests are, how you want to be seen, what your life does and could look like.  You may love your life and that is great but we are always moving and morphing and our path keeps winding so to have a fresh perspective on what we want to do, where we want to be, and what we want to experience in this lifetime are important.  Keep learning, keep dreaming, be your best self, don’t become complacent or hopeless, move bravely down the path of your passion!

What did you discover?

Finding Your Passion and Current Purpose-part 1

20180128_141816-EFFECTSHave you ever wondered what is next?  Where your path is leading?  What you will become next?  Some people work a career their entire life and then retire.  Some raise children and become entrepreneurs, like myself.  I have reinvented what I do so many times because I have so many interests but they all really dance around each other.  They are all interconnected.

I breathe in the cool morning air as the sunrise reaches rose pink across the winter sky and crows hover about.

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I lead an enchanted life of miraculous happenings, unusual animal and bird sightings, healings, and things happen to us that just do not make sense in the cookie cutter mind of our world.  This thrills me.  But there must be a reason why I see these things.  Experience these things.

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I have an influential voice.  That comes with responsibility to make sure that I am speaking and teaching what is compassionate and what is beautiful and what is real.  Before bed I ask my ancestors and friends to help me see answers to what is next.  The pictures in my dreams are always of me leading a group.  Or of me being a type of Martha Stewart with a compassionate twist.  I love creating; whether it be gardens or art or words or great food or inspiration or encouragement or a new life.

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The Universe has seemingly freed up some time for me.  I have time to do something.  I teach herbalism courses and shaman courses and I write and help with the shop and answer the apothecary phone and help people.  I’ll be on a radio show next week talking about my herbalism and plants in homesteading and promoting my book, Homesteader Pharmacy (click to see on Amazon).

There is more though.  I am on the cusp of something.  I am not just an herbalist.  Our goal is to pay off debt this year.  I want to work towards getting a farm and animal sanctuary in the future, but in the here and now….ideas swirl overhead like dust devils but don’t quite land.

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I fill my time just fine and come summer I will be really busy with gardens and wildcrafting and markets but there is just something below the surface that ties in everything that I do.  Something to give me purpose.  I have been working on a book for the past year.  I put it aside in order to write a novel.  I wrote said novel but I can’t say I am a great fiction writer.  I am a non-fiction writer.  This book keeps bobbing to the surface.  It just needs some dedication.  Writing a few hours a day has to make the to-do list.

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I know I am more than just an herbalist.  It used to consume twenty-four hours a day for me but my daughter has taken on most of the work.  Finding my other passions and moments of inspiration are what I need to ponder.  Something to tie them all together…

Now, where are you on your journey?

How to Make a Nourishing, Infused Oil for Dry Skin

It is so dry around here that I do believe a stale cracker blowing across the desert in a windstorm has more moisture than my skin has right now.  Colorado is always dry-most of the state is high desert- but winter is the worst!  It is time to make a nourishing infused oil and calm that itching down.

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A small crock pot is perfect to keep in the bathroom plugged in.  After the concoction is infused in the crock pot, you merely have to turn it on warm as you get into the shower.  Or pour a bit into the bath.  Use on lips, hands, face; the whole body will just absorb it with fervor.

You can easily just use the oil as is.  In Ayurveda sesame oil is used.  Olive oil is a natural sunscreen and has a long shelf life.  But I am more of a sunflower girl, myself.  Rich in vitamin E and oleic acid, sunflower oil is nourishing and absorbs easily.  I am also an herbalist so I infuse some medicinal herbs into my oil.  It makes it all the better.

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In 32 ounces of sunflower oil poured into the crock pot, I added a small handful of roses, calendula, mullein leaves, and lemon verbena.  I let that infuse on low for a few hours.  The herbs are dried so they won’t mold and sunflower oil lasts easily two years.  Other herbs that might be nice are lavender, pine, or geranium.

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No need to strain.  I use my fingers to apply but you could use a small sponge.  This time of year the oil absorbs faster than you can apply it so be liberal and feel great.

The Real Face of Farming and How to Change the World

elsaWe fell in love with her instantly.  She was so small, adorably white, and cuddly.  I gave her a bottle full of milk which she took with relish and snuggled into my arms to sleep.  Her name was Elsa.

A friend of ours gave her to us out of sympathy.  Our first two goats were Katrina, who after giving birth would not have anything to do with us and we were not able to milk her, who went to live with someone new, and Loretta.  Loretta was a rotund black dwarf who came to us pregnant.  We did not know this at first.  She loved my husband.  She followed him incessantly, attempting to help him with chores.  She just adored him and we loved her too.

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We were excited, as new goat farmers, that she was pregnant.  We would make some money off of her babies and then milk her.  The buckling within her womb was too big for her and his foot punctured through her uterus.  She died a rather painful, screaming death.  Instead of deciding that perhaps animals shouldn’t be used for milk, we decided to get a gun in case we needed to put future animals out of their misery.  (We sold it a year later.)

Elsa was placed in our arms.  A three day old doe will melt anyone’s heart.  She loved to ride in our truck, windows down, music playing; she was like a puppy dog.  She went with us to speak at inner schools.  She introduced dozens of children to farming and the joy of goats.  She pranced about the living room.  She ate geraniums and loved farmer’s markets and attention.  We loved her.

Here’s the thing about farming-even sustainable, humane, compassionate farming-it’s not any of those things.  No one was more compassionate and affectionate as my husband and I, yet when you have a farm, your perceptions change.  Animals are expensive to keep, and there comes the mentality that animals have to earn their way.

IMG_0801We bred Elsa-because we had a small dairy- and she gave birth.  We whisked the baby away.  She cried and we told ourselves that animals don’t feel the same as humans, she won’t even miss the baby.  She got mastitis and huge scabs on her udders made it so that we could barely milk her.  I had to hurry because if she was in milk she was worth more than not.  I sold her for two hundred and fifty dollars to someone who drove out from New Mexico, loaded her into the minivan and was gone.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that I just sold and got rid of our beautiful Elsa.  It is not that we were heartless, we just fell into the perceptions of a small farm.  Our friends all had the same mentality, and it was just the way things were.

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The roosters were friendly.  All of our chickens were.  They had all been kissed and carried around by us or our children since they were two days old, freshly home from the feed store.  But they were not kind to the hens.  Their roughness trying to mate the chickens caused gashes in the hens’ necks and a lot of stress.  There is only one way to get rid of a rooster.  We placed them in dog kennels and took them to a nearby freelance butcher that would take care of them.  We joked and laughed and said they were heading to freezer camp.  We put up the filter, the barrier, the wall, the ignorance, that all farmers put up.  Two living beings were about to be killed.

My husband drove by and saw that they were still in their kennels two days later.  No water.  No food.  They were delivered to us in plastic bags.

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We thought chickens got their heads cut off and it would be quick and easy.  But that is not so.  Chickens are bled out.  Upside down they hang while their necks are slit.  The blood runs across their face, up their nostrils, into their eyes, until at last they succumb.

Laverne was a beautiful black hen, whose feathers shimmered green in the sunlight.  She loved to sit on my lawn chair next to me as I read.  All chickens have personalities.

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“The animals die quickly,” we told ourselves.  Hanging by one leg, having their necks slit, fearful, swinging from overhead, not understanding.  We could hear the cows lowing frantically a mile away at the slaughterhouse.  Not even the few that are dispatched by gunshot die quickly.

I had been vegetarian for twenty-seven years and vegan for two years.  I was fiercely passionate about animal rights.  We dreamed of living in the country and our friends around us all had small, sustainable, compassionate farms.  We started drinking goat’s milk.  We got our own goats.  We prayed for all girls.  Because there is no other use for male goats.  Most don’t even become dinner, they are killed and dumped in most operations.  “I don’t want to hear if the males are becoming meat!” If you knew how many times I have heard that from goat farmers.  Ignorance makes us lose our empathy.  It makes us lose ourselves.

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It is easy to put up walls so that one cannot see the personalities or the lives that are being taken in the name of country and farm living.  I told myself that it was hypocritical to be vegan because everything causes harm.  Our ancestors ate meat.  So and so is ninety and he’s fine!  Oh the reasons we come up with.  And there we were eating meat.  And in that time I watched our health flutter downwards in a spiral that could not be blamed on anything else.

Many people will decide that gluten is actually their health downfall.  Perhaps it is chronic disease, inflammation, hereditary.  I have found as a Clinical Herbalist that there is not an ailment out there that cannot be benefited by adopting a plant based diet.  In fact there is not an ailment out there that is not caused or worsened by eating meat.

But the idealic countryside of cows grazing in the hazy dawn of a country morning would not exist.  Farm animals have many good days and one bad day!  It’s the circle of life.  It’s healthier.  I never really believed the last statement as my lymph nodes grew larger and larger but one does tell themselves many things in order to justify what is not right.  I have been on both sides of the spectrum.  I can see the romanticized farming lifestyle.  But I can see and feel the karmic and physical and emotional and spiritual disaster that inevitably follows by consuming animal products.

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You see, the mothers do cry for their young.  The cows do wander out of the fields and down the street looking for their babies.  We get upset that kittens are boiled alive in China for food but not when a lobster does.  Society gets upset over a dog being eaten, but doesn’t bat an eye at lamb.  When the word cow becomes beef and sheep becomes mutton and we begin to make them less than sentient beings in our minds, we begin to fool ourselves.  We might be outraged that dogs are experimented on for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals but then feel hopeless and be a consumer anyway.  We may not wish to harm any animal but then feel overwhelmed and purchase the packaged, bleeding, unnamed meat in the grocery store.  Or maybe we buy from a sustainable, humane, compassionate farm.  Well, now you know how that turns out.

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It took me four years to realize what I was doing and what I had done.  The word “vegan” has a negative connotation to it and I thought I’d rather be ignorant than angry.  But it is not anger, you see, it is compassion.  It’s realizing what is actually going on.  It is realizing that our health and our spirit and our life will be more peaceful, and more beautiful, and healthier, and more vibrant once we let those illusions leave and let the wall down.  But I will warn you, you will begin to see things with new eyes.  You may be horrified, angry, empathetic, passionate, saddened, but we as humans were never meant to murder.  Imagine telling a small child to kill a rabbit.  It does not come naturally to us.  It is time to let the old myths go and the excuses and step into a more enlightened way of living.  Just wait and see how it changes you.

One Pot-Dreaming of Spring-Lemon Cake

20180124_161418There is something quite satisfying about sitting down with a cup of espresso or tea and a small piece of cake.  Especially if said cake isn’t that bad for you!  I don’t know anyone in love with rich, thick cakes and their complementing towering corn syrup frosting from the grocery store.  I also feel a little daunted by homemade cakes that require so much time and so many pans and those that call for separating the eggs!  My go-to cake recipes are from my third cookbook “The Rustic Vegetarian” (which may get a revision and get published).  They are perfectly sweet, light, delicious, moist, and easy as five minutes.

Here’s to dreaming of spring…

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Lemon Cake

3 1/2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of sugar

2 ts baking soda

1 t salt

1 ts of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk (I used homemade cashew milk)

2/3 cup of olive oil

2 T white or apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a prepared Bundt pan or two cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Check for doneness.

Let cool for a few minutes then flip onto a plate.  Make a yummy glaze by combining powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla extract and lemon juice to desired consistency and drizzle over.

Beautiful Pueblo

20180108_133406Our city has a bad reputation.  It has for as long as I remember growing up in Denver.  It was ranked one of the most dangerous cities to live in.  Some of the locals scratch their heads and wonder where they get their numbers from.  Some want to move to greener pastures…like California.  Because of the astonishing statistics here in Pueblo, we got a house for the price of a cardboard box in Denver.  There is an exciting revitalization going on here.  And as in most cases of any city, the crime seems to be concentrated in one area.  So, you don’t buy on the east side.  Unless you want a really cute old house for thirty thousand dollars.  Then go for it.  Because this is the city to be if you want to live in Colorado.

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One of my downfalls is that I am a homebody vagabond.  I want a home to create and decorate and garden and be cozy in but I am always looking for the next home.  The next city.  The next farm.  This drives my husband crazy.  But there are not two people on this earth more grateful for their own home than me and Doug.  So for the first time I am settling in.

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This town has everything Doug and I wanted.  And we wanted the impossible.  Can we be walking distance to Chinese food and the grocery store, a bike ride from the library and the coffee shop, live near a lake, have a view, be close to the mountains, live in a warmer climate, have an urban farm, be within practical driving distance from the kids and our work, live in a beautiful place, be near theater and fine dining but also be near farms and a quick jaunt to vacation spots?  Can we have it for next to nothing?

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$89,000 later and I need a bicycle because all of those things came to be in this small/big town of ours.  We tried to get our kids down here but the statistics still scare most folks off.  We haven’t heard of or seen anything that wouldn’t be happening in any other city.  We have found friendly folks, beautiful sunrises over lakes and hiking trails, flocks of geese, fine dining on the river, and home.  We have been here a year now.  What a lovely place to call home.

 

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The Crone and the Ants

20171103_092307We named her the Crone upon first seeing her, for her lengthy limbs and wide trunk seemed to tell stories of old.  It was obvious she was coming up in years and wouldn’t be around forever.  Sawdust fell at her feet and pieces of her skin fell off in the dust.  Her scant leaves held firm.

The tree men came and took down just the limbs over the electric wires and noted that the Crone was hollow.  “Carpenter ants,” a shrewd one said.  You have to go get ant killer.  Bayer.  It’s at the hardware store.  It’s the only way to save the tree.”

Doug hopped in the car and started for the store.  I had a sudden realization, like a deck of cards filing out quickly in front of me of what we were about to do.  I called him and told him to come back home!  No poisons.  That is not how we have ever done things.

“Then your tree will die,” the tree man shrugged.

I had him put corn meal into the hollowed ends.  I put the wood ash around her base.

The thing to remember here is that the ants are there because the tree is dying, not the other way around.

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I watched the wood pecker the next day with his lacy wings and red head pecking at the tree.  Several friends joined him.  Sparrows and finches burrow into her limbs.  Squirrels play among her arms.  We would have killed them all.

I planted twenty trees in her place.  She will fall when she falls.  Then she will return to my garden and to the wood stove.  All in nature’s time.  No poisons necessary.

Garlic; How to Use as Medicine and How to Make Infused Honey

20180117_171823Garlic is one of the most important plants.  It is easy to grow, easy to find, and easy to use.  The garlic bulb is unassuming but let us not forget its amazing qualities.

Garlic is still one of our most important antibiotics in the fight against the scariest of diseases being spread in our unstable hospital system, Sepsis and MRSA.  As each year’s viruses become more and more fierce and as cancer rates skyrocket due to foods and medicines and pollutants and stress, we can look to this humble clove of garlic to help us.  Do not underestimate it.  It is hundreds of times more potent than any marketed antibiotic or blood cleanser.

Garlic is safe for all animals as well, making it an important antibiotic.  It is a myth that cats and dogs cannot consume garlic.  We have used garlic successfully for many, many years in our work to help heal hundreds of animals.

Garlic is effective against the common cold and helps clear the blood of toxins.  It is effective in an extract form (though rather strong), an infused honey (recipe to follow), in a glycerite for small animals and children, and is extremely beneficial in food.

A few simple tools make life easier in the kitchen.

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The garlic peeler is a small, rough mat, much like what we use to open jars with.  Roll the cloves in the peeler with your palm and they pop out without the skins!

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Likewise, a garlic press saves time chopping and opens up the garlic so that more of the properties can be released.

As in all medicines, some heating is quite beneficial but even if you cook the garlic for some time, its properties simply transfer to the base, stock, or sauce.  You will still get the medicine.

Use plenty of garlic in your sauces, soups, and bases for recipes.  Grow a patch of garlic in the yard.  You can start them in April and harvest this fall.  Simply buy a bulb of organic garlic from the store, separate the cloves, and plant them two inches apart.  Cover with a little straw.

Garlic is anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-yeast, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-cancer.  It cleanses the blood of bad cells, of toxins, and treats upper respiratory infections quickly.  It will help prevent the flu and is even more amazing when added to other similar propertied herbs, like onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, echinacea, juniper berries, oregon grape root, and rose hips.

Infused Cold and Flu Honey

In a saucepan combine 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon each rosemary, sage, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.  Add a pinch of hot pepper if you like.  Cover with 1 cup or so of honey.  Heat on medium-low, swirling contents often, for 20 minutes.  Strain.  Add a smidgen of whiskey if desired to make syrup.  Or just use in tea.  Store in a canning jar.  It’s quite tasty and stays good forever.  Take as much as you need to fight a cold!  Or use daily by teaspoon or in tea.

Take care of yourselves out there, Folks!

Wintertide

It is about now that I start wanting my house guest to leave.

“Winter,” I say, “Old Chap, is there anywhere else you need to be soon?”

He shakes his head through gales of frost.

I put on another cup of coffee.  Put another log on the fire.

The cold crops go in the ground in six or seven short weeks.  We will have bustling to do to get the new garden fenced and the soil ready.  We will devour the warm days as they come.  Spring will surely rise from the frozen ground.  I appreciate the rest, the rest for the plants and trees, the water, the blah, blah, blah.

‘Tis about the mid of January that I am ever ready for blessed warmth and activity.  Yet Jack Frost rarely hauls out slow so I must welcome the guest awhile longer.

The snow lightly covers the landscape as the golden sun arises and sends glitter across the lawn.  My winter puppy is in love with the season and leads his walk outdoors by mouthing up big gulps of icy snow.  I found a small, fallen branch.  Abandoned after falling out of yonder tree.  The sap still slightly sticky.  I brought it home.  It is the flower of winter, the conifer bough, and it sits proudly in its vase upon the stove.  (The only place the kitties can’t get it.)  It hearkens the beauty of winter-all of its reds and greens and glittered snow and great open blue sky-and reminds me to walk upon its icy tread, to breathe fresh air and not yet make the spring to-do list, but to visit geese and winter ducks and welcome the winter time.

For a few more months anyway….

 

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