December Morning Dawn

The lavender sky spreads and stretches over rolling pastures and forests of trees.

Along the railroad tracks the mist lightly rolls as dawn awakes

Golden sun rises and the air is ever cool in the December morning breeze

Deer move along the tracks with motions swift on crisp winter grass.

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Here at cozy home the dawn wakes me without clock as the lavender clouds drift by

Outside my window a new day begins of promise and light

No window coverings block my view of the large trees and the colored western sky

I mutter silent prayers of gratitude and breathe deeply.

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‘Tis too easy to get caught up in past affairs and travesties, harsh pain and mire

‘Tis too easy to become obsessed with what one still desires

But in this moment, my Dear ones out there, be the heart and smile that you would admire

Let not any negative word or thought escape to the world.

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Focus, Dears, on what is real and light and bright and sweet, upon blessings, and present here

See beauty in all things big and small, from children to birdsong,

Speak in tomes of love and forgiveness and inspire those that are near, for joy they hear

For your spirit’s light this Yule tide season can be very bright.

 

The Magic of a Yuletide Card

Thanksgiving eve.  There is always so much to be thankful for.  Health, family, security, home, and an inspired life.  These things I think of and am thankful for each day of the year.  As a vegetarian and a history lover, Thanksgiving isn’t really my favorite holiday.  And this year my children will be other places.  So, I have put up my Christmas houses and am clearing a place for the tree.  Yes, Yule is my very favorite holiday of the year.  The lights, the charity, the music, the wrappings, the trimmings, the beauty and joy that surrounds Yuletide is intoxicating for me.

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My grandparents with their great, great granddaughters. So much to be thankful for.

Now, I feel like we are all old friends here.  Just like you are over for coffee this pretty morning and I am telling you about how I, on a whim, just registered for a full load of classes to pursue a teaching degree (yes, I did that the other night) or am showing you photographs of my new granddaughter.  Over the years we’ve have had some laughs, we’ve had some tears, we’ve had some wine.  But I like the tangible as well.  I would love to be on your Christmas card list this year and I will add you to mine.  Let us pen old fashioned wishes and hopes for the new year.  I love hearing from readers and responding.  It makes us friends out there in this big, small world.

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Christmas cards may seem old fashioned, but they are a link and a wish to family and friends, old and new, and a moment of your time and love.  There is no greater gift than that.  Christmas cards have led to a few really fabulous pen pals for me.  I enjoy so much that moment of peeking in the mailbox and finding a card or letter.  Placing the envelope in my apron pocket as I make a cup of tea.  Sitting down to savor every word.  To be there.  To listen.  To read.  To pull out a few pieces of beautiful stationary and respond.  Yes, it is one of my favorite things.  Send me a card and I will send you one as well filled with good wishes and cheer, from my cozy home to yours.

Mrs. Katie Sanders

1901 Brown Ave

Pueblo, CO 81004

Wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving and a happy beginning to your Yuletide festivities.

The Grand Arrival of Ayla Mae

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She would be induced at 10:00 that night.  Not wanting to be two hours away, we checked into a hotel with our granddaughter, Maryjane, near the hospital after packing bags and finding a pet sitter.  We went swimming and snuggled in for the night, checking my phone every few hours.   Maryjane and I had coffee and then went to the hospital while Pa checked in at work.  Maryjane’s other grandma came to pick her up.  The soon-to-be big sister was nervous and excited and emotional.  My daughter, Shyanne, arrived and we all settled in for the seemingly long arrival of a little girl.  Pa came back a few hours later.  We drank tea, and watched the clock, and talked to relatives on the phone, and tried to help Emily.

Being her second baby, Emily knew what to expect and what to request.  She was amazing during her labor.  New daddy, Reed, was nervous and doting and sweet.

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The nurses all knew that we hoped the baby would arrive that day, November 14th, for it was the fervent request from the new baby’s great, great grandmother.  November 14th was my grandparent’s 70th wedding anniversary.  Never mind silver or gold, Grandma and Grandpa wanted a baby.

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And then quite suddenly it was time.  Within thirty minutes a very small little girl with curly, black hair arrived into the arms of her mother.  Daddy swelled with pride.  Pa and Auntie Shyanne cried.  Mama sobbed with joy.  I smiled and welcomed the new little one to our family.  We are ten now in our tribe.  Over a hundred in families that we gained through the children’s partners and our own extended families.  There is truly nothing more important to me than our family.

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And Ayla Mae was born.  A new little medicine woman in our line.

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Maryjane bounced into the room accompanied by her grandma.  She held a stack of papers that she had composed a song in scribbles on and immediately went to singing to her new baby sister.

Those near and dear came in to call.  Ayla has our family birthmark.  She has her daddy’s ears and nose.  She is so beautiful.  I caught my breath and held her close through the night letting mama and daddy sleep some.  And in the quiet of that dimmed hospital room, that precious heartbeat next to mine, I felt the immensity of it all, the blessings that fill my life and this family that we have helped create.  A Thanksgiving gift. (And an anniversary one as well!)

Ayla Mae Thompson

November 14, 2018

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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. 

Our Lady of the Goats

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.

Farmgirl Advice for a Happier Life

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1- Just because you are very good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.  You can always reinvent what your life looks like.

2- Life is meant to be experienced.  There is no one purpose. You will have plenty of time to ponder the meaning of the universe, right now be human and experience life.

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3- Change is never easy.  Allow yourself to mourn.  But keep that glimmer of hope because the best is yet to come and closed doors lead to wide open opportunities.

4- Quiet your chattering mind.  Tune into the activity around you.  As I sit here on the porch on this lovely late summer day I watch a mouse quietly approach the bird seed and begin to nibble as dozens of finches take flight, their silhouettes artful in the filtered light.  I listen to the crickets’ songs of summer and feel the cooling breeze on my skin before the dog days of summer heat that is to set in later.  There is a much bigger world than what is going on in our minds.

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5- Listen to your passions and follow their road.  Do not try and figure out where they go, just follow their lead.

6- See people’s spirits.  See them as children.  Banish ignorance.  Don’t give into fear.

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7- Release the past.  Past relationships, events, hurts, happenings, eras.  Leave them behind with a blessing and move forward.  Cut the ribbons that keep you bound.  Fly.

8- Be enchanted.  Life is brief and blissful.  It is what we make it.  It is what we create.  A large black bird lands on a trellis next to me.  He is fascinating in his mottled browns and blacks and tussled feathers.  I wonder if he was born this very year.  The glorious blue jays screech their joyful song across treetops.

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9- Have faith.  Know that you were not just dropped on this earth without lifelines.  Fear is the lack of faith.

10- Treat yourself with care, my dears, and follow your heart.

How to Accept the Challenge of Living Fully and Embrace Destiny

ninjaThe biggest challenge is living life in the fullest right now.  To be neither in the past nor the future.  To face fears as one experiences them.  To constantly reassess one’s temperaments and ideals, perceptions and reactions to become a better, kinder, more graceful person who lives with great compassion.  To find what destiny was designed for us and follow the cues of passion and interest to find where we make the very most difference in the world.

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Writing a memoir was a profound experience for me because I was able to start at the beginning of this life journey and walk through it.  I saw myself at three years old, at eleven years old, I watched as I experienced bliss, intense sadness, confusion, joy, and I nodded at each character that has helped mold me in my life, from my mother to my mentors.  I was able to see, understand, forgive, embrace, appreciate, and release.  I highly recommend that you purchase a journal and begin telling your tale.  Everyone has a message and a life of lessons to share.

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When one finds themselves fretting about the future or reliving a memory in the past, try to pull yourself to this moment.  I believe the reason I love great food, cooking, and the mysteries of wine is because it makes me grounded.  It forces me to use my human senses.  Otherwise I am always flitting about spiritually or stuck in my head.  Balance is needed.  Try to close your eyes and smell, hear, touch, breathe, taste.  Hear the birds.  See the colors of nature out the window.  Feel the breeze on your skin.  Taste the tannins in a cup of tea.  Feel the air fill your lungs.  Put your hands together in front of your heart and feel gratitude.  This acts as a reset and brings you back to now.

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In my book, The Making of a Medicine Woman; the Memoirs of Bird Woman, that is soon to be released, I experience facing fears.  You will always have to face your fears.  They will keep coming until you do.  My fear has always been of ghosts and bad spirits.  Nightmares from when I was very young and stories that haunted me (I should not have watched “The Exorcist”) through adulthood kept me from doing the work that I do.  I lived in haunted house after haunted house and had experience after experience until finally I turned around and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore.

What are you afraid of?

On my birthday I posted some crazy what-if’s.  What if I stopped writing out a to-do list, what anything get done?  My fear of not being productive enough prompts me to write elaborate lists.  I stopped writing them for a week.  And sure enough, not a dang thing got done!  So the lists are back, just smaller.

I wondered if I stopped worrying about money if it would come easier.  Our income didn’t increase but once I stepped back and stopped worrying, I realized we make enough.

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I wondered what it would be like to shave my head.  It felt like a beautifully symbolic new beginning.  A spiritual oath.  A bit of freedom (from tangles, hair products, and dye).  But what if people thought I had cancer?  (White girls with shaved heads are unfortunately assumed to be ill if they have very short hair, it turns out…)  Well, sure enough, lots of messages came pouring in and strangers walked up to me and asked if I were ill.  I dealt with the fear straight on with a smile.  And I LOVE my hair.  I don’t look in the mirror much now.  It certainly is freeing.

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Challenge yourself!  That is another way to live fully.  What do you want to do with your life?  How can you become a better person?  How can you live more compassionately?  How can you spread your light to the world?

Maybe open doors for people.  Give some leeway on the highway.  Give hugs, compliments, forgiveness, and small gifts.  Give of yourself.  Laugh.  Notice.  Be here.  Follow your desires.

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If you are not happy, figure out why.  It’s time to live your destiny and your birthright of joy.  Joy follows when you are following your highest self and living for now.

 

A Thanksgiving Tale

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The hazy golden dusk illuminated the sky behind their silhouettes in the cool evening air.  The cars stopped and the elegant family of deer crossed.  The leader had a staggering limp.  Yet the two does stayed at her flank and did not attempt to cross quickly or ahead of her.  The large buck, his antlers glorious and scenic against the autumn backdrop of mountains and sunset color, stayed back with the two infants as they gingerly crossed.

In the chaos of a grocery store I stood looking seriously at disposable pans when an elder gentleman approached softly.

“Are you going to make a turkey?” he asked.

I smiled at the man whose dark tilted eyes revealed close to a century of memories and Thanksgivings.  His wife had fallen, he said.  Thank the Lord she was home from the nursing home and rehab but she still couldn’t walk good.  And well, his hip was killing him but he thought he’d come out and get a few things.  A package of frozen hash browns and a plastic container of diced watermelon well out of season sat in his cart.  One of his children was going to bring them a Thanksgiving feast.

He pulled from his inner pocket a photograph of his son to show me.  Two photos, actually, side by side on a funeral program.  A handsome young man in a navy uniform and one of the young man as a joyful middle aged man.

“This is my boy,” he says.  “He got sick from the war and died.”  He didn’t elaborate.  He just folded the three year old paper and placed it back into his inner pocket.  “Once he died my wife and I went downhill.”

Now, the crowds in the aisles bustling with noisy carts and lines of folks faded as I watched him hobble away.

The family of deer safely crossed and nimbly flitted through the fencing.  They stood together grazing in the golden field.

May we all keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts tomorrow.  I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Secret Power of Gratitude

20171031_182428This is the time of year that we speak of gratitude.  Gratitude is a secret ingredient to a happy and content life.  Even if it seems like not one more thing could go wrong, simply sitting still with a cup of tea, the sun on one’s face, or even just with eyes closed, thinking of the things we are really grateful for changes the energy around us.  We exhale.  We smile.  We know it’s going to be alright.

20171012_111725Fear is the opposite of gratitude.  Fear is based on losing something.  If we just flip the wheel and see the things we do have, we can change our attitude, therefore our perception, therefore our life, and the feeling is contagious.

20171022_134338Every day for the next three weeks consciously do something to encourage gratitude.  Some ideas might be:

Call a relative you would like to visit with.

Make a huge pot of soup and invite neighbors or friends over.

Drink a green juice to help heal your body.

Write a poem about the sunrise.

Compliment a stranger.

Do something towards a dream or goal you have.

Put some money in a coffee can and start an emergency fund at home, little by little.

Do a twenty minute yoga video.

Meditate quietly on all the things you love about yourself.  About your life.  About your circumstances.  Allow yourself to grieve and then watch the grief fly off on an imaginary butterfly.  Allow peace to come back into your heart.  Smile.

Walk in nature.  Really, this does wonders!  Walk around the block even.  Get out and be near Mother Earth and the great vast sky, and the trees.  Laugh at squirrels.  Listen to your footsteps.

Write a letter, hug your loved ones, eat nourishing food, breathe deeply, watch the sunrise and sunset, turn off the news, stretch, smile, live.  Gratitude for our health, our loved ones, our life, our experiences, our time with those passed, food, shelter, clothing, animals, friends, candlelight, joy….all these things remember.

20171011_124929Whisper “thank you” often.

I am thankful for my readers.

A Guide to Renewing Your Vows

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We have been thinking about renewing our vows for some time now.  We decided to wait until we had a home of our own.  A celebration in itself coupled with a renewal of love and new beginnings.  We have certainly lived through all of our promises…through sickness and health…through richer and poorer…and have come out stronger than ever.  There were times of great sadness.  But the times of great joy and a life together lived with excitement and courage has reigned prevalent.  We share a friendship and a bond with more great memories than we can recollect.

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We had a lovely wedding.  As many weddings go, we planned for months, spent our life savings (and a good chunk of my in-laws’ savings), I became Bridezilla (crying bitterly over the greens in my flowers…I plead insanity), and then a snow storm hit and everyone skedaddled out of there promptly after the meal.  It was a blur but we were married.

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This time is different.  A bit of fun, a bit of whimsy, without expectations.  That is what makes things stressful.  Expectations.

1. This time we have no idea who is coming.  We invited to our joint house warming/vow renewal one hundred and thirty people.  Most have not responded.  It doesn’t matter.  Those that want to be a part of the ceremony and stand by us will be there.  I expect roughly forty, but perhaps not all for the vows.  I rented twenty chairs for a buck a piece.  The couches and miscellaneous chairs will fill in.  We do not need everything to match.  Just invite your favorite folks and let it roll.  Do not be hurt if certain people do not come.  We are all on many journeys.  We cannot possibly handle everyone’s schedule.

2. Have fun!  We are having a traditional Scottish wedding.  Why not?  Our friend is coming down with his bagpipes.  Our Renaissance friend is doing the ceremony complete with anvil.  Doug is wearing a kilt.  I am wearing my original wedding dress (which was my mother’s wedding dress when she renewed her vows) with corset, slips, and plaid beneath to show through.  I’ll pick up roses or something from the grocery store tonight.

3. Ask family and friends to help.  Our daughter, Shyanne, is making the cake.  Our other daughter, Emily, is taking care of all the food.  Shyanne is a master baker and has her own baking company, A Witch and  Whisk.  Emily wants to open her own restaurant.  She has been in the business for five years.  She is setting up a taco bar.  My friend, Alvin, is doing the photos.  He is an amazing photographer.  My mother-in-law is making some delicious desserts.  Fruit infused waters make an inexpensive and delicious drink.  Homemade chokecherry wine and beers for toasts.

4. Go with the flow.  It always feels like Spring in Pueblo but it is not going to be particularly warm tomorrow to my great dismay.  Somewhere between 35 and 45 degrees in the morning.  The sun always makes it feel warmer.  We may not know until morning if the ceremony will be outside or inside.  The bagpipes should be outside!  Folks can grab a couple of chairs and we can move them where we wish.  Take weather and the flow of the day with a smile and a heart of gratitude.

5. Gratitude.  That is the key.  Be happy there is a celebration to be had!  Loved ones made a point of being there in a world of busyness.  There is food and drink and laughter.  And bagpipes.  Can’t get better than that!

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Next week I will share with you the celebration in pictures.  Perhaps it is time for you to plan a celebration of your own?  They do make life ever sweet.