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 1- Release and Being a Keeper of Light)

A fellow told me that I am the happiest person he has ever met.  My husband is the happiest person I have ever met.  We are a veritable roaming comedy team.  But happiness and balance is something that we must work for every day.  In this world of negativity and news stations we must protect ourselves, seek balance, and constantly be keepers of the light.

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The first day’s lesson in the Setting Yourself Free series is Releasing.

Releasing Others:

Here is an exercise for you.  Walk through your life, view it like an old home video.  You will see some bad things happen but they will still move on to the next memory.  When you get to a particularly hurtful thought, stop.  Think of that person that you are still hurt from.  They may be still in your life or they may be long gone from it.  Now, step back from yourself and them.  Pretend like you are an onlooker viewing the situation unbiased eyes.  What do you see?  The person that hurt you (or is still hurting your heart), do they have past issues?  Can you look from a different, far off view and see them as a human and what they might be thinking (albeit not always sane or accurate?).  By understanding where people are coming from and why they act or do the things they do we can often find a tiny bit of compassion for them (not excusing them) and can see that it was not you they were trying to hurt, but they are hurt themselves.  Release that memory, that person, that hurt.

My friend, Dora, said to put them in a bubble and let them float away.  Every time you feel a hurt from them coming up just put them in a pink bubble and let Creator handle them and that memory.  My friend, Steve, used to tell me to put bad memories in a file cabinet.  Every time you see yourself looking at that memory (even if it was from yesterday!) put it back in the file and close the door!  Pull yourself back to the present.

I sometimes find myself thinking nonstop of what I would have said, what I want to say, but if you know that it will not change anything, then close that file drawer!  We must consciously work for happiness every day and by releasing negativity and people that are sources of such we find ourselves smiling more.

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Release Yourself:

Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than on others.  The dog I had to take to the shelter twenty years ago, the cat I had to put to sleep, the thing I said that hurt someone’s feelings, the mistake I made when I was raising the kids, the list will go on and on because we are human.  Now, if we do that same exercise and pull ourselves back from our physical self and look in, we can see why we did things, understand, learn, grow, and be a stronger person because we know now and we can be compassionate with ourselves.  We must be kind to ourselves.  We are just spirits inside these frames learning on this journey through life.  Embrace it, release others and yourself from judgment and forgive all.

Lifelong Release:

Now that you have done this exercise you will find it easier to walk out of the imaginary room of past and present hurts.  You can send people off in pink bubbles with love.  You can pat yourself on the back and be kind.  We are all on a fabulous journey here.  We need each other.  We need ourselves to be strong.  We need Creator.  We are more light and happier and connected no matter what the circumstances if we can master RELEASE.

Being Set Free (a thrilling week long adventure)

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We are strong believers in karma, whatever you put out will come back, usually ten fold, and we watch ourselves pretty closely.  We really try to put out only positive and happy vibes.  So this came as such a shock to us.  We were so friendly, put so much work and money here, why did we lose so much?  It’s laughably ironic that I write about and that we went from so close to self reliance to completely reliant.  Completely.  Reliant.

As each thing leaves the house I am saddened as it feels that the memory is lost with it too.  Our trip to California, that sweet Christmas gift, antique shopping in Evergreen, our friendships, all walking out the door for practically nothing.  Of course those memories and people are still with me, in the literal or spiritual sense and as we unburden our existence with so many material things, we feel lighter.

And I wonder if the karma coming to us is not bad, it’s a gift.  It’s good.  I have written about our day in the life of a homesteader, and our businesses, and our to-do lists.  They exhaust my friends just reading them.  We are being set free from ourselves!

I am daring to imagine an existence where my morning starts the same, with coffee on the porch with my cat, and writing, but then doesn’t turn into a frenzy of trying to keep up.  In this little cottage we do not need 500+ preserved food items to be put up.  We do not need to chop 4 cords of wood.  We do not have to milk twice a day.  We do not have to make enough money to feed all the hungry farm animals.  We do not have to make cheese and soap and lotion and try to find the strength to do yet another farmer’s market.  We are being set free.  So long have Doug and I worked sun up to sun down with businesses, committees, children, and homesteading.  We love it, but the idea of something different does intrigue us.  If I want to do those some of those things, I can.  If I don’t, then we can walk around town and find ourselves listening to live music in the park on Tuesday nights.  We are being set free.

We will be working on building a tiny house.  We will be co-creating beautiful, practically maintenance-free gardens, we will be teaching, but we will be doing it slowly and methodically in the middle of a town where we can find new teachers and friends and find each other in our honeymoon cottage.  What a gift.

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This week on this blog I would like to write about various ways to set ourselves free.  How to find a closer connection to Creator, mental and emotional releases, herbal teas for spiritual use, easy ways to strengthen the body, to bring back health, to bring on inspiration and to make some dreams start coming true, and just setting ourselves free from anything that weighs us down.  I hope you’ll join me!  It’s going to be a freeing week!

Extreme Homesteading (high altitude, freedom, and yoga with frogs)

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Homesteading has become so much more than a lifestyle for us, it has become a part of our very being.  There are apartments with lush carpet and furnaces awaiting, city streets to catch buses on, and jobs that offer weekly paychecks.  Parts of that we miss but not enough to hightail back to it.  When faced with absolute obstacles (such as out of ideas to bring in cash) we just try to pick up a few odd jobs or cut another expense.  We are almost out of expenses to cut.  Which leads us to dreaming about setting up sheds in a mini-village and living there rent free!  We dream of living in warmer places where that would be possible.  High altitude homesteading is not for the meek.  Everything from baking bread, canning, to growing vegetables takes longer and one must know the tricks to succeed at these things.  (A reason I hope my homesteading school will take off!)  So goodness, gracious, why have we actually chosen to live this way?

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What better way to live than to live fully?  We do that every day when we greet the sunrise, when we start the wood stove if needed, when we brew the coffee in the French press and transfer it to a thermos.  When I can sit down and write until the kids shuffle off to work and breakfast is to be made.  Our granddaughter to be dressed.  Doug goes and milks the goat and feeds the animals.  Sometimes Maryjane and I help with chores.  She gathers eggs, helps feed, and pets the sheep.  We check on the ducks and feed the cats.  We strain the milk, pour some of the fresh cream into coffee, and put it in the fridge to cool.

Maryjane had her two large horse toys set up and was milking them last night.  She had me hold one of them so it wouldn’t kick.  Then she pretended to make cheese.  A homesteader at heart, this little girl is picking up so many skills and she is only two!

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I do yoga while looking out across the meadows while an owl looks on from the old willow.  Meditation comes easy with the frogs chirping from the pond.  I place laundry on the line, read books, prepare lunch, straighten the house.  Today we prepare for our first farmer’s market tomorrow.  My book signing is Saturday.  Classes on Sunday.  I play the guitar under the cottonwood.  Maryjane plays in the dirt.

The girls come home from work and we have dinner or sometimes it is just me and Doug.  We play cards, talk, read, write, pray, enjoy the sweetness of home.  We worry, we plan, we pray, we hope.  We make tea.

This year we will try to cut our grocery bill even more by growing, bartering, raising, preserving, and preparing all our own food and drinks.  Our own herbs for cooking and medicine.  We will gather all our own firewood.  I will improve my sewing skills.  We will make our own gifts.  Doug will continue to learn how to build and repair.  We will continue to release what we don’t need, learn to produce what we do.  Maintain our freedom, bask in the pride of a job well done, and live more self-reliantly than ever before.

So why do we work towards extreme homesteading?  Because after the oil lamps are blown out at night and we snuggle into bed, and see the stars through our window, we know there is no other life we want to lead.

40 Days (renew, reinspire, recalculate)

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I am truly an optimist.  I love new beginnings and always believe in them.  Comparing photos from our time with friends in November to recent ones (above and below), I see that a tremendous sadness and weight descended on us and was evident through the camera lens.  Downturned faces and hunched shoulders reveal a burdening time.  On March 31st we spent all our money on a lemon of a car off of Craigslist that is still in the shop.  That was the last of our bad luck and April 1st was the beginning of a time of renewal, inspiration, and strength.

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40 Days.  Forty days would be more apt to have started at Lent, but I am a bit behind.  40 days of renewal, a sense of wonder, doing nice things for myself, not caring about rules, and noticing the beautiful things in my life that subtly whisper through the winds of each day.  Why 40 days?  One could pick any number, really.  The beginning of April to Mother’s Day, which represents my most honored description seemed right.  I turn forty on Monday.  New things are surely on the horizon for us.  The last forty years I grew up, raised children, came to this place.  The next forty years will be so delightful, I am sure.  Our own homestead surely awaits us, more grandchildren are surely in our future, our children are getting married, our marriage is getting stronger, we have so much to look forward to.

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Choose a number.  I chose 40.  In a book at night, record what you did or what happened that day, what you see your life as.  It is never too late to make small or big life changes.

April 1st- Bought an expensive (for me) bottle of Borolo and opened it for lunch.  Instead of complaining at the bar while Doug played pool, I tried to be present, even played, and had a good time.

April 2nd- Spent time with Maryjane, rocked her to sleep.  Painted two letters at the coffee shop at the spur of the moment.

April 3rd- Played Andrea Bocceli and served lunch while teaching a class.  Prayed for a long time before bed.

Because life is so blaringly short, I want to enjoy people more.  Spend more time with friends and celebrating.  My four day birthday weekend starts today.  A night out with Monte and Erik.  Tomorrow Doug is throwing me a birthday barbeque.  Tomorrow night the Melting Pot with Steve, Nancy’s husband who’s brain tumor may not allow him many more dinners out with us.  Sunday, a bee keeping class, Tapas lunch, and an outing with two new homesteading couples we met.  Monday, my actual birthday, a national newspaper is interviewing me thanks to this blog.  My life is beautiful, and complicated, and full of mystery and joy.  I am blessed beyond belief.

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My mother mentioned that I lead a charmed life.  Any of us can have a charmed life.  All you have to do is put out there what you want and you will get it, like it or not.  Work for it, desire it, pray for it, do everything you can to get it.  Our life looks like what we wanted it to.  We now dream of our own homestead that we can stay at.  We dream of so many things.  Though they feel like a desperation now, they will come to being.  They have to.

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The key to our life is instead of making more money, make less.  Every time we think we need more money, we try to sell something, or get rid of a bill, or make do.  My ultimate goal in the next 40 years, or 40 months, or 40 weeks would be better, is to find a place that is even cheaper than what we are paying now so that we can lower the prices of our medicines and our classes so that other folks can make less money and enjoy their lives more too.  When you don’t have to work so hard for what you have, you can enjoy each day more.  You have more freedom.

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Break rules.  My own rules.  I can only eat this and that.  I cannot buy a lotion that smells SO good that my daughters bought because I make my own lotion, and it is fantastic, one of my best sellers.  I went and bought the other lotion.  Gasp.  I eat what I want, and drink when I want, and go to the coffee shop when I want, and still get all my work done.  The only thing that was keeping me imprisoned was myself.

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Today is a new day, y’all.  Be inspired today.

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Homesteading Freedom

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Everything costs something; either time or money.  Everything will require something as its payment.  We used to have a cleaning lady, nice cars, enjoyed expensive restaurants, took the kids on cruises.  We worked hard for the money and spent it on what we deemed the good life.  But it was a farce.  It was an illusion of freedom.  Behind cubicle walls and by his phone strapped to his belt, Doug was actually a prisoner.  I, too, even though I owned my own business and raised my own children, was stuck in the “gotta make more money” and “need more time” trap that so many moms feel these days.

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Emily, Shyanne, and Peep

I remember clearly a conversation that my friends and I were having at dinner one night when we talked about organic, vegetarian food compared to quick, processed food.  They were arguing with me that theirs was far cheaper.  I said, “A bag of organic beans is less than two dollars!”  “But you have to spend more time making everything.  We don’t have time.  You have to spend more time to save money.”

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Doug and I are working ridiculous amounts of hours right now.  We are putting up money and goods for the winter like little squirrels….exhausted ones!  But we know the trade off.  One always has to work.  What will you work for?  I want to work on preparing and storing my own food, making what clothing I can, selling excess to help pay bills, creating and selling herbal medicines to support us on our own time.  We heal people, we are as self sufficient as we can be at this moment, we work hard, but we fall into bed satisfied each evening.  We are much happier than we ever were when our tax returns said we were living a good life.  We know that we traded money for time.  Time spent doing things we want to do and creating a life that is more satisfying to us than our run-around city life.

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We try to walk softer on the earth.  Not use so many resources.  Pollute less.  Use less electricity.  Buy less stuff.  Stay home more and enjoy each other and our animals.  We have created a life no one expected us to have.  Don’t wait.  Don’t do the five year plan….the “when I retire”….”the when I get land”….the “when I get married”…the “when the kids move out”…just do it.  If you want to live simply.  If you want to take that leap of faith to become a homesteader, do it now. Life goes faster than anyone wants to admit, and the peace of living as a homesteader far outweighs any fears.  Homesteading is freedom.