The Innate Healer (and what to do when you cannot help)

I shivered in the cold, forced air of the dim hospital room and pulled my shawl tighter around my shoulders.  I listened to the ominous drone of the heart monitor.  He finally fell asleep.  I watched my child, now a man, lay there in the hospital bed with the flimsy covers upon his slight frame, barely covering his tattooed arms.  His dark hair pressed to the side of his face.  His brow still furrowed from pain.  My baby.  I pulled the covers up around him a bit more and held my breath so not to let the pressing tears release.  Breathe.

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I am considered an expert in my field.  I can tell you about hundreds of local plants, their medicinal properties, growing conditions, contraindications, their uses, how to prepare them, and how to heal nearly every ailment there is.  I am an herbalist, a medicine woman, a plant girl, a lover of nature, a great believer in the original medicine, and a skeptic of modern medicine.  And yet, all the herbal knowledge in the world could not help me as I stood on that cold tile floor.

“Help me, Mom!” he screamed over the phone before I got there.  He went in to the emergency room for a fever and back pain and the hospital gave him a spinal tap.  They missed.  Three times.  Spinal fluid pooled into his lower back and created more pain than my child could handle without madness.  But he was in the hospital now, so it was too late, I could not help.  Except to pull the blankets over his arms to cover the goosebumps.  To kiss his head.

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A few weeks later- last weekend- I stood by the bedside of my grandmother, whose tall, thin frame was dwarfed by the hospital bed and flimsy covers.  The drone of the heart monitor and the bustling of nurses outside the door filled the large, cool space.  My beloved grandma had fallen and just had a partial hip replacement.  Again, I could do nothing but watch her sleep.  My children came.  They gathered in the room and talked wildly, trying to catch up on events since the last time they had seen each other.  My new granddaughter was passed around.  Smiles and laughter filled the space as grandma would slowly open her eyes and look around and grin.  So much life that came from her.

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I am a healer.  We are all healers, especially women.  Any of us would take care of an injured frog, or a stranger, or try to bring life back into someone with warm soup or a hug.  Anxiety fills our chest as we feel the pain of others, see their worries, the punched feeling in the stomach when we know we can do nothing.  That is why so many of us become healers.  We have to do something. 

I have learned that the only thing I can do in cases when no one asks for my help, or I simply cannot help, is to release the outcome.  They might die.  They might not be able to change their life.  They may still have lessons to learn.  They are choosing other options.  They are their own decision makers.  They might be paralyzed.  They might…oh the possibilities of tragedy are endless.  And there we are… trying to save the world.  Sometimes we just cannot help.  Once you can release the outcome, you can then breathe and be there to give love and support or to pull the covers up over chilled arms.  We must release what we cannot control or it will control us.  Give it back to the powers that be.  We can only help ourselves and do what we can for others.

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My husband looked so pale.  A colorless sheen crossed his face as he came out of surgery a few days ago.  (It’s been quite a month, y’all.)  I had released all outcomes.  Whatever happened, happened.  But here he was, smiling dopily from the morphine drip, and a long overdue hernia surgery complete.  At home, I help him in any way I can.  He asks me for help.  I can help him.  I give him my own antibiotics and pain medicines along with his prescribed pain pills.  I make him teas for his digestion and tend to his wounds and bruises.  I am so much better when I feel like I can do something.

Sometimes we can help, sometimes we cannot.  My neighbor called me after badly spraining her ankle yesterday.  I took over some muscle healer and she was at the dog park by the afternoon.

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I feel like it is a very good idea to have some basic knowledge of herbal medicine.  Everyone should know what herbs heal wounds, fight infections, handle pain, and heal.  I currently have two books on this subject on Amazon.  The Herbalist Will See You Now; Your Complete Training Guide to Becoming and Working as an Herbalist and The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; the Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Herbal Pharmacy.

They may just give you one more outlet in which you can help yourself and others.

 

It is Enough

My mantra this year, for 2018, was, “Never make a decision based on fear.”  It was amazing how many times I caught myself making decisions (keep my struggling apothecary open, open another shop, apply to begin school) based on fear rather than faith.  This simple mantra helped me understand my motives and make better decisions (no more shops, no school).  And through that faith Doug got an amazing promotion and I am able to stay home and do what I do best, homestead and homemake.  I am available to help my children, feed my husband nutritious meals, keep a house, take care of a mini-farm, and grow our food.  That mantra led to a great outcome.

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Autumn always feels like a new beginning to me.  Like the pagans of old, I feel this is the New Year.  My mantra for the next year is, “It is enough.” I have enough things.  I have enough love. I have enough creativity.  I have enough space on this mini-farm right here, right now.  And most importantly, I am enough. 

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With so much time on my hands I have had way too much space to reminisce, regret, and be hard on myself.  Over the past four years we have built our dream farm, lost it, went homeless, lost our animals, lived with friends, lived in the city, rebuilt, bought an urban home, made a farm, closed our businesses, Doug went back into the IT field, our children have found the loves of their lives, and our second granddaughter will arrive any day.  A lot to take in.  A lot of gratitude.

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So I may have made some dreadful decisions over the years.  But I have made a lot of good ones too.  I am enough.  I don’t look like I did when I was modeling in my twenties.  I have faults.  But I have more wisdom and I have more love.  And everything around me echoes, It is Enough.

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…maybe one day we will have goats or the animal sanctuary I so dream of….or maybe we will stay here in this space…or maybe it will become legal to have farm animals beyond chickens in the city here…but in the meantime, I must leave the future where it belongs and be present.

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It is Enough.  We are enough.  You are enough.  This beautiful life is enough.  And when we realize that, gratitude comes rushing in with peace and great joy on its wings.

50 Things (replacing anxiety for peace)

It instantly calmed my breath.  My shoulders relaxed.  A smile crept onto my face.  My mind quieted.

I’m no expert at meditation and my discipline in the world of exercise has something to be desired but I found an instantaneous solution to my anxious mind.  50 Things.

Now there have been gratitude journals out there for years and the word gratitude is practically a catchphrase.  Here, on the porch watching the sun rise, or deep in the waters of a warm bath, or lying in bed with my mind wrought with worry, 50 Things soothes like a blanket and a glass of wine.

I have friends who are just cool.  Just easy.  I feel like a sped up record next to them.  My shop is closing up north, my new shop is opening and we pray for customers  One daughter needs to find a job, the other hopes we find success, the dishes are not done, and the puppy ate my bike helmet.  I feel them all most intensely!  But those 50 Things quiets and glides me into the day or night with peace.

 

Try it.  Whisper aloud to the Creator and your guides and ancestors 50 things that you are grateful for.  Try to make them slightly different each time.  For brightly colored marigolds, and pumpkins on the porch, for blue jays waking me at dawn, and hot coffee in a mug my friend gifted me, for each child, and their friends that love me like a mom, and for my husband, and the bumper crop of potatoes, and my visiting granddaughter and granddog, and autumn, the new shop, new beginnings, hope, geraniums….

A breath of anxiety releases and wafts through the cool morning dissolving into sunlight and a new day begins.

“I Trust You”-Learning to Live Peacefully and Happily

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We all have had less than positive things happen to us and it can fuel worrying even further.  How do we release worry and fear in our day to day to life so that we can enjoy more moments?

I can sure get myself worked up over nothing.  What if he gets in a car accident on the way to work?  What if she died?  What if…  I have to stop myself pretty quickly before a full blown, out of proportion, fearful scenario transpires in my mind.  I simply whisper, “I trust you,” and oddly, I am calmed.

We were never meant to know the news of the world.  Our minds and hearts are not prepared to handle so many things that we cannot control.  We have nearly zero control over anything, if we must be honest.  I have to believe that when we were placed on this earth we were not left alone to our own devices.  Just looking at the millions of medicinal and food plants made synergistically to us.  Miracles upon miracles (coincidences?  I have had too many crazy things happen, several healings, unexplainable escapes from certain death…) and people showing up in our lives at the right time and for the right season with the right lessons and the doors opening for us at each turn.  And sometimes the doors closing.  Which we can only understand in hind sight.  Because we have no power over much, I believe that is why we feel so much worry.

I look up and whisper, “I trust you.” Maybe that is to ancestors, friends that passed, my Creator, Mother Earth… I blend together plant extracts for ailments I have no power to heal myself and just whisper, “I trust you,” to the plants.  The medicines always work to my great relief and joy.  Things really do work out.  We are given fight or flight to deal with stress and worry at that very moment, not light years before anything happens, if it ever even does.

We must learn to live happily, peacefully, and fully on our journey here, knowing there are plant and animals spirits, ancestors, loved ones here and passed, and of course, our Source looking out for us.  Just relax and whisper, “I trust you.”

Smudging 101, Deer Visitors, and the 10%

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There is a Talking Circle at my shop the first Sunday of each month.  Not really church, just a place to be with others and pray traditionally with Native influences and customs.  This last Sunday we talked about focusing our energies on the 10%.  90% of what we worry about is what the media tells us about, world issues, family issues, and many, many things that we have absolutely no control over.  As we focus more and more on the 90% we lose track of the 10% of things we can control and our gifts that we carry that can assist in this world.  Focusing on the 90% leads to anxiety and depression and helplessness.

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Last night I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and helplessness.  How can we possibly afford anything in the state that has the newly highest cost of living?  How can we survive?  How can we stay near our babies if we had to move?  and on and on with scenarios that may or may not exist.  I went to sleep early as slumber will renew me and oft give me answers.  I woke up renewed.

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Within the realms of the 10% I can choose my back up plan in case we cannot get the large farm.  I could very well be an urban homesteader while making a difference in a career.  The career that I would be best in (in my opinion) is teaching young adults.  So, I relooked at my curriculum choices for school with a renewed sense of purpose.  I will let things unfold naturally, while saving money, since I cannot see the future.  No matter how hard I try.  Meanwhile I call on strength from the Great Spirit and the Directions.  This is how to smudge (prayers and blessing).

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Traditionally Cherokee prayer herbs would consist of Sweet grass to renew positive energy, Sage to rid negative energy, Tobacco as an offering to the Great Spirit, and Cedar as an offering to the spirits; animal, plant, and the deceased.  In a pottery bowl (heat proof) place the herbs desired and light.  Using a feather to spread the smoke around a room, over thyself, or in the Four Directions.  Any feather will do.

We call on the spirit of the East direction for strength and hope and faith.  We give thanks to the Creator for all the things in our lives and our own life.  We thank Grandfather Sun for rising each morning and providing warmth and light. 

We call on the spirit of the South for childlike wonder and awe, for lessons, and we thank our four legged brethren for providing us with companionship, food, and clothing, and to the plants for giving of themselves for food and medicine.

We call on the spirit of the West for strength, health, and endurance.  We give thanks to our ancestors for guiding us and praying for us.

We call on the spirit of the North for calm and wisdom.  We thank the north for rain and snow, for lessons learned, and for peace and breath.

We call on the spirit of the sky (galun’lati), to the star people and Grandmother moon for protection and inspiration.

We call on the spirit of the Mother Earth (alohi)for caring for us, for her life, therefore our life as we pledge to be more careful with her.

We are thankful for the ceremonial fire as our prayers are taken upward on the smoke and carried on the winged ones’ feathers and for our connection with all around us. 

We draw the smoke over ourselves that we will have a clear heart, a love for all, and will do things in the right way. 

And as my breath and peace came forth, the beautiful deer (ahwi) came to see me.

Wishing you peace and less worries….ehmenah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forever Farmgirl (keeping the faith, new beginnings, and the ongoing homestead)

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I wonder if life thus far has been preparing us for this.  Doug and I love bed and breakfasts.  We travel when we can and see as many as we can.  We even considered opening our own.  We lived through the coldest winter of our lives and came out stronger and loving the sun even more.  We have been practicing and perfecting every homestead skill we can think of in order to be more self reliant and to encourage others to do the same by teaching these skills.  We have amazed even ourselves by being able to grow food in the harshest of situations, on gravel driveways, and in discarded buckets.  We can split wood, take care of animals, make and grow our own food, preserve, and have learned that we really want to live very simply.

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My herbal business has changed and morphed over the years as has my knowledge and what I want to do with it.  I was able to sell my business and grow my herbal school.  The women in the course this semester have brought out so much in me that I was afraid to teach before for fear of scaring folks off!  I am teaching herbs to not only heal physical ailments but also mental, emotional, and spiritual as well in order to achieve a more balanced life and a new level of health and inner peace.  Teaching folks how to tap into their intuition and personal strengths has made teaching all the more valuable to me.  I changed the name of my school this year to the Homesteader’s Pharmacy School at Pumpkin Hollow Farm because there is a school in Boulder with a very similar name to my previous name, North American School of Clinical Herbalism.  But this, just as this final practice farm, was just a transitional name.  The new name of my Herbalist School is going to be Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine and will teach students how to not only know how to handle physical ailments, but how to use intuition and other means of holistic knowledge to really help themselves and their loved ones.

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I sometimes forget in the midst of intense heartache and changes that worrying is really quite useless, that the universe works in amazing ways and the Creator always helps guide.  Someone called me the other day and signed himself and his wife up for the fall Herbalist Course.  He didn’t care where we were moving, they would drive there to take the class.  When I asked how he heard of me he said that a woman in a grocery store gave them my information.  So many things are coming together without my knowledge or help that I cannot help but be astounded and amazed at how this life works when one is able to step back and look in from a new perspective.

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I will always be a farmgirl.  Doug and I will always have a homestead, whether it be in the middle of Denver, or in the beautiful mountain town of Cascade.  We love this lifestyle too much to attract any other kind of lifestyle.  Our life will reflect our greatest desires.  We will always teach.  That is my greatest gift and passion.  The possibility on the horizon pertains to a possible purchase of a three story Victorian bed and breakfast by friends that would be turned into a holistic bed and breakfast, meeting center, retreat center, and working homestead with classes.  The four of us have the right skill sets to be a power house team.  Goats would still be milked, chickens fed, organic gardens would fill the property.  Yoga, spiritual retreats, delicious food, tea on the large southern style porch, a cabin in back for us to live in complete with artist’s loft.  A dream come true?  We will see! Our fingers are crossed and breath held.  But we must exhale and inhale the wisdom that all things work together to bring us what we most desire and to help us to help as many people as possible.  We have each other and no matter where we end up it will be just right!

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Farmgirlschool is alive and well.

The overwhelming number of responses and emails and phone calls have been very heartening for us.  Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement.  We are excited about what is on the horizon!

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Rainy Days, Worries, Manifesting, and Farming

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The rain has been gently coming down for days.  It will continue today.  My cold crop seeds, parsnips, potatoes, garlic, onions, radishes, mustard, stir fry greens, spinach, Swiss chard, snow, snap, and Alaskan peas, pak choi, carrots, beets, lettuce, herbs, all these things stay in their blanket of fresh soil and the water will rejuvenate them into life.  The rain dampens my heart just a bit.  A sliver of warm sun would do me good but perhaps this rain will wash away my worries.

Oh, we all have worries.   I take them as a waver in faith.  I know all is well and that we are where we are supposed to be but sometimes the mind can get oversaturated with thoughts.  Perhaps I should stand in the rain until they are gone.

Did I move too far away?  We end up driving back to our old town nearly every day.  Over 160 miles for two round trips to watch our beloved baby.  Back there again for Celtic Festival meetings and bank trips. I only know the friendly faces that I miss seeing regularly at the coffee shop and around town.

Will the landlords grow tired of the animals and the farm and the comings and goings that go with it?  Already a comment was made about the chickens.  Did I make a mistake?

Did I really just practically give away our means of paying bills?  I dreamt I opened another apothecary, this time in the high end Cherry Creek district.  A laugh of course.  Why can’t I be patient and finish jumping off this cliff and see that we will be just fine financially?  That we are living the life we wanted.  That we are always fine.

Perhaps I am tired from assisting Isabelle’s birth and then watching her baby go to her new home yesterday.  Perhaps the weekend caught up with me.  Perhaps I should go sit in the rain.  It is so cold though.  Coldest winter we have ever endured.

My cousin, Heather, said to me, “You manifested everything else, why don’t you just manifest another wood stove?”  And of course we did and it is being put in tomorrow.  So enough with the worries.  We will have food here on this farm, new friends, our family, and a spectacular view.  Another shot of coffee and plan the week’s course.  There are animals to care for and seeds to plant.  No time to second guess myself now.

This was from the series of paintings I did four years ago of the animals I eventually wanted on my imagined farm.
This was from the series of paintings I did four years ago of the animals I eventually wanted on my imagined farm.
And this is one of our sheep, Sven.  I do love living on a farm.
And this is one of our sheep, Sven. I do love living on a farm.

Preparing For Dreams To Come True (even when you can’t see)

My friend and fellow blogger, Debbie, wrote that my blog yesterday was just what she needed to hear.  In fact a few folks said that it was lovely and optimistic.  It doesn’t come naturally all the time.  I have the same antsy feeling that everyone I know has when their roots are shaky.  Debbie is looking for the perfect property.  Lisa inherited property but now is working on the driveway, well, barn, eventually the house, but I know she is anxious to wake up in her new kitchen one day and have it finished.  Amy and Rob (I talked about them in Cohabitating Homesteads) are waiting for the darn bank and contractors to start working together to get the ground broke so they can stop living in their RV!  My cousin, Julie, and her husband are plotting their escape to the forty acres his dad owns in the mountains.  The beginning of their off grid journey, which while they live with another couple, seems like a million plans away.

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Since we failed so miserably at finances in our previous life I always used the optimistic tone of, “Well, it’s nice renting.  Someone else fixes everything (we haven’t heard from our landlords in two years), we can move to the next great farmhouse (if they accept cats), we can move wherever we want, no strings attached (true, many of my friends and family that would like to move cannot sell their houses), but still, down in that root chakra somewhere, there is unrest.  We need roots.  We need to feel like we have security.  We want to plant a freaking orchard!  Indeed, anything can happen, all bets are off when it comes to real life.  Our partner could pass away, our businesses could end, our health could fail, the crops may be ruined, so really, everything is a walk of faith.

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Our faith is in the hope that we will have a place to set down roots.  Our next move will be our last (but hopefully not short lived!).  Unlike our friends and family, they have a set area they can see.  They know they can buy a place, or have already inherited the place, or already have had help buying a place, but we know nothing.  We walk completely blinded up the hill holding hands and holding onto faith that when we get to the top of the hill (next year when the lease ends), our future is beautiful.  That the yurt…cabin…farmhouse…hell, shack at this point…will be waiting for us with open arms, the future barns and gardens waiting to come to life (or could they already be there?….woo hoo!).

Lack of contentment is one of the main reasons for unrest and unhappiness.  I have no desire to waste a full year being antsy and unhappy.  Just like when I saw the ad in the paper for the house in Elizabeth when we needed to jump ship from our house going underwater, or when I had to pick up Emily’s boyfriend and drove past this house, the next place is already planned out for me.  Patience and making the most of right now are the goals.  There is always the chance that we will not be alive next year, may as well enjoy life now.  However, this is something that we constantly have to remind ourselves.

We have prospects.  We intend to live with Amy and Rob if all goes as planned.  We could move with my cousin if it all worked out.  God may have a completely different plan for us.  But in the meantime, we are preparing for the unknown.  Did you know that if you express your desires and intentions, they will always come true?  That is where the sayings self fulfilled prophesies and careful what you wish for came from.  I wish for a homestead that I can stay at for the rest of my life.  I wish for barns and outbuildings, a huge garden, a view, a farm, a homestead.  It would be better with another couple to help with the huge task of homesteading.  Now, I prepare.  I can’t see what the future and timing holds but I can be ready when God says go.  The piano is back on Craigslist.  Why do I have seven sets of dishes?  Beats me.  I have a bit of an obsession with beautiful china.  The dishes are next.  One…okay two…sets of dishes are quite sufficient.  I will get down to 1/3 of my possessions.  I haven’t raised my prices in almost five years.  I will raise everything one dollar.  Enough clients have encouraged me to do so.  I am still cheaper than the health food store with better product.  My costs have gone up, there is no reason that I shouldn’t.  That dollar goes into the proverbial coffee can for the move next year.  I walk blindly, but I walk in faith.  Prepare for your goals.  Your dreams are about to come true!

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The Perfect Homestead

As the new year approaches I have been thinking a lot (as if I don’t think about it the rest of the year too!) about the quintessential homestead.  I fear I have fallen into the trap of When I get my real homestead I will then be complete…happy…truly living life…

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So, a better look at things is in order.  I did pray for a homestead.  I suppose I should have been more specific.  But, here I am living in a nearly hundred year old farmhouse (one of my requests), on two-thirds of an acre (I asked for land), with a myriad of farm animals and a quarter acre to farm.  I forgot to mention that I wanted more land, a well, a wood stove, a barn, and a great view.  Looking at Doug’s not bad though.  I am living on a homestead.  I am also walking distance to the library, bank, café, saloon, and a great little museum.  I back to the fairgrounds and have front row seats to rodeos and festivities.  I am close to Maryjane and Emily.  We are close to what is important to Shyanne.

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Next year Shyanne goes to college, Emily turns eighteen and Bret graduates.  They may want to take a different path.  I love the community here.  I have never belonged in a community before and it feels great out here.

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Perhaps I will stay out here for a long time.  Find a homestead with the above criteria and remain in my community.  Perhaps I will move closer to the mountains where my children are gravitating.  I would love a mountain cabin, a green house, a place in the quiet of the woods.  I would love a stone house by a creek.  I would love a farm near the mountains.  I would love an Earthship in New Mexico.  An adobe in Taos or southern Colorado.  I would love….

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Well, you get the picture.  I may possibly have just too many things I want to do and see.  I can start a garden anywhere.  The longer I stay the better the soil.  Make sure I am somewhere I can have my animals.  See that I am close to Maryjane.  We could stop looking for the perfect homestead and a way to buy and opt to rent.  (A house is often an expensive anchor.  We lost our house years ago and are not able to buy anyway.)  If we rent we can experience lots of different homesteads or get a long term lease.

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Or…some nice person will leave me a lovely farm complete with a barn, a view, a wood stove, a hundred year old farm house, a well, a place to grow food, in a perfect mix of trees and prairie with the perfect community where I can stay forever and ever.  Ahh…I may never learn.

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The important things are that I am near friends.  Grandchildren and children.  That we are happy and healthy.  That we have the freedom to do what we would like.  The homestead of my dreams may or may not exist but I must have faith that we will be lead to exactly where we are supposed to be.

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Grow where planted.  May this be a blessed year for all of us.