Taking the Extremism out of Veganism

What is the first thing you think of when you think of the word vegan?  I think of craziness.  I think of mobs of people pushing their way into health food stores yelling.  I think of anger.  I am vegan.  But the word vegan makes me nervous.

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Just like any group, there will be those that have to force their ideas on others in order to create what they feel is right, whether that be religion or lifestyle or opinion.  I understand it.  I just think there are better ways.  Because veganism is really a peaceful, beautiful thing.  My husband said that when I posted on Instagram and then on my farm facebook page the other day that we are vegan and opening a sanctuary we would lose followers.  We did.  The word vegan makes people nervous.

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Others have changed the term to plant based diet.  A benign term that means lots of delicious plants and denotes more of a health food approach then a save the cow message.  I told the teller at my bank that I was plant based and she looked at me very confused.  “I’m vegan,” I corrected.  “Oooh,” she answered, “what do you eat?”

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My friend is in the trenches.  She and a group of dedicated, emotional, loving people go out to cities all over the country.  They stand on street corners with masks on, wearing all black, holding televisions that display the atrocious way that animals become meat.  Blood, fear, and reality fills the screen.  Videos of these events show people walking briskly by.  Does empathy enter any of the bystanders?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  They go out to factory farms and create an unnerving presence.  They rescued a hundred turkeys before Thanksgiving.  The thing is, that when I see my friend, the violence and the plight has so greatly affected her.  Her emotional wellbeing.  Her eyes.  I worry that it is slowly destroying her.

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I have been on both sides.  So, I know that anything anyone told me while I had my blinders on when I was farming would not have changed my mind.  Only I can change my mind.  I taught herbalism for many years and a plant based diet was a central part of my teachings because you can only heal symptoms for so long before you have to look at diet and lifestyle.  I am surprised still how many of those students became vegan.  At least one or two a class.  Including the aforementioned friend.  Friends have sanctuaries now.  My writings whisper and inspire.  My friends know I am vegan.  I make amazing food.  They make amazing food for me.  No one is being forced to do anything.  Most people do not want to harm animals.  They can only eat meat because they can’t see the suffering, the crying, the blood.  They don’t see families, they see packages.  But sometimes people want to see what this is all about.

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So if you want to try veganism, keep these things in mind:

1- You don’t have to tell anyone.  You can just do your thing.  I didn’t want to cause harm.  I know there are cow parts in my tires and I still drive.  I know there is no way to completely avoid it all but I can be vegan.  My anxiety has notched down to near nothing.  Depression is not an issue.  Karmically I feel better.  I love animals.  Why would I want to consume them?  I smell like death when I eat them.  Plants create vibrancy.  But I don’t have to wear a PETA shirt to the grocery store.  I can inspire in my own way.

2- Don’t go out and buy new leather shoes, but the old boots you been wearing, keep wearing them.  Throwing them in a landfill doesn’t bring that cow back.  Be reasonable but be mindful moving forward.

3- Just peek at the labels of cleaning, beauty and bath products and make sure they are vegan and didn’t test on animals.  Goodness knows, no one wants dogs and rabbits to be stabbed and tortured in the name of good eyelashes.

4- You don’t have to go no-oil, no sugar, no gluten, only whole foods vegan.  The health benefits of giving up animal products is huge.  Knowing that you saved one more animal.  One more animal.  That is enough. You can use veggie meat along with your veggies and fresh bread and glass of wine.  There are no rules.  The meat and cheese substitutes out there are awesome.  No better time to be vegan.

5- Follow farm sanctuaries on Instagram or facebook.  The animals speak for themselves.  Know that you are saving hundreds of animals in your lifetime from pain and slaughter.  Watch some documentaries if you don’t know what goes on.  Don’t be tricked by the term “humane meat.” There is no such thing.  You are also helping the environment, your health, and so much more just by one simple, light decision.

Let’s take the craziness out of veganism and replace it with compassion.  I am Animal Friendly!

 

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.

What if There Were Four? (a joyful family tale)

fam 3And then they thought, “Why, we should be four.  Four holds infinite love at its door.”

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But first there was one.  She is our youngest daughter, Emily, and she is ever so much fun.

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Then there were two.  And no one stole my heart faster than you know who…

I became a Grammie and Doug became a Pa and we looked at those two girls with great love and awe.

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Then they met Reed, handsome and strong.  Of course, for years Emily had known him all along.  Maryjane sized him up and thought long and decided they’d keep him from now on.

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Then they were three, as happy as can be.  They saw concerts and learned yoga and climbed mountains and had fun.  They fought and made up and became closer and one.  They made a home and a family and are as cute as can be as three.

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“But what if we were four?” they whispered in the dark.  The spirits of the world gathered and the Creator went to work.  They sent a little soul that fit the mold that would give them the role of parents of two.

And so our family grows and grows and hearts are full and celebrations begun.  Oh this will be ever fun!  November 24th…

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10 Ways to Be Happier

Happiness.  Happiness is one of those things that can elude as quickly as it comes.  Particularly now that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is settling into our bones and spirits, are there ways to assure happiness?  To establish a sort of hardly wavering inner peace?

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Here are some things that can be incorporated into our lives to help make happiness a more prevalent constant.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.  Write down five things each morning or night (Or by golly if it’s that bad, day and night!) that you are thankful for.  I did not think this would work but am amazed at how such a simple act can really change one’s attitude.  It will begin simple and perhaps grumbly or rather broad.  Thanks for my catThanks for my coffee.  I am thankful for my family.  But it will quickly turn into I am thankful for the soft fur of my cat against my cheek.  For the early morning sunrise and the strong cup of coffee to revive me.  For the sweet texts that I receive from so and so… There is much to be thankful for.

2. Meditate in the mornings.  Seriously, meditate for 25 seconds. Whatever.  I look out at the beautiful mountain peak with ribbons of lavender and rose iced across its tall stature and close my eyes.  I think of a word.  Light.  Peace.  Love.  Forgiveness.  I try not to venture off of that word.  Deep breaths.  It changes the whole game.  Yoga is a great practice to add to this.

3. Become self reliant.  Listen, it would have been real easy for Doug and I to fall into the depths of despair for a much longer span of time.  We could have gone on government assistance, picked up our food stamps, and done the whole woe is me for a lot longer.  But instead we became determined.  We have the ability to work and we work hard.  Doug got a job.  He was not able to get back into the well paying field he was in.  He is working for slightly more than minimum wage.  We opened the shop on faith.  After being homeless for seven months it would have been easy to lose faith.  Don’t lose faith.  And don’t lose faith in yourself!  We are buying fresh, delicious food.  We got an apartment.  We gave up a car.  We are making it work.  It would be too easy to keep up the blame game and feel sorry for ourselves.  Happiness reveals itself in self reliance.

4. Become the Queen of Swords.  Okay, this one might require a bit of explaining. I have a dear friend, a Hopi elder, a wise man, who explained to me that I am imbalanced.  When making a decision I will first consider the feelings of not just everyone around but the impact on dogs in Italy and the children of Kenya.  I will worry everything to death.  What will my decisions cause?  I then will consider my passions.  I will finally think of what is the best decision for me and then lastly money.  I need to be the Queen of Swords! he says.  I must balance my decisions.  To make a swift and sound decision that benefits myself is unheard of to me.  But important. We give until we are depleted. We must begin to make decisions based on our own needs.  If we are well and balanced everything else around us will fall in line.  It is NOT our responsibility to ensure happiness and fairness or to take care of the entire world for everyone.  It is only our responsibility to live our life fully, be kind, and take care of ourselves first so that we can care practically and fully for others.

5. Do more of what you love.  Instead of being so busy caring for others, making ends meet, doing chores, doing what we think we ought to be doing, we ought to be coloring, or painting, or gardening, or singing karaoke, or eating out, or hiking, or…. We are not guaranteed 84.5 years.  Each breath, each moment is an opportunity to do what we love.

6. Get outside.  Therapy is cheaper in nature.  Get outside, walk along Mother Nature’s trails, listen to the birds, see an eagle fly, smell a ponderosa tree while the sap is rising, watch chipmunks scatter, smell the rain coming, touch a fuzzy mullein leaf.  Know that our life’s problems are rather mundane and we are connected to all things.

7. Connect with Spirit.  Your idea of God, Creator, or Spirit is exactly right.  Your connection with Spirit is written in each of your cells.  Worship with smudge herbs and a feather, with the Bible, with a candle, with a whisper of thanks, or by picking up trash.  Be connected.  Whatever your version is.

8.  Surround yourself with folks that inspire you, who love you, who make you happy.  Just because you are related to someone does not mean you have to have them in your life.  Our people enter our lives in many ways.  Since we only have so much time to offer, spend it with those that bring you up.

9.  Spend time with an animal.  A pet can truly bring joy and peace.  We take our minds off of ourselves for a moment every time we stroke the soft fur of a purring cat or take a happy dog for a walk.

10.  Watch what you put in your body.  Its mineral and vitamin content, or lack or, it’s source, it’s way of getting to you, all make a difference.  Eating powerful food gives you power.  Our mood can be directly related to the candy bar we ate instead of the avocado.  There are also herbs that help with anxiety and more severe sadness.  Find a real herbalist to make them for you (not a health food store).  St. John’s Wort, Borage, and Lemon Balm are just a few.

These are tried and true ways to add joy to your life.  To ensure happiness.  It is easier to get back to happiness when we are wavering or side tracked once you incorporate these.  Start with just a few.  Add more on.  Do what you can but ensure that happiness becomes a part of your life.  You are worth it.

 

 

 

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.

Daily Bits of Happiness, Added Silliness, and If You Had No Fear…What Would Your Life Look Like?

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More and more of my to-do lists include things that will make me happy.  Instead of working myself to death over say, dishes, I want to include more day to day activities that bring a smile to my face.  Like smelling the orange blossoms in my window.

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My daughter gave me this journal a few days ago.  I love its cork-like cover and its simple but profound words.

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Do one thing every day that makes you happy.  Enjoy a cocktail on the porch watching the sunset.  Read a great book.  Be with the ones you love.  Take a walk.  Indulge in a bit of chocolate.  Dream big.

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We have done a great job of creating a life here that brings us profound happiness.  There are horses and mules that come to greet me at the fence line in the evenings.  There is peace and quiet and good water and sustenance to be had here.  It is spiritual medicine out here.  We live great and we help people for a living.  We spend a lot of time together and we get to be near our granddaughter often.  We talk to our children often.  We live a great and happy life.

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I have worked hard to incorporate more silliness into my day to day.  It does not come naturally to me!  I was the oldest.  I have always been responsible.  I am more serious than silly.  My husband is the ultimate goofy person.  Lord, if he needed another job a comedian would be suitable.  He is a happy-go-lucky man and it rubs off on me.  Laughing and silliness should be a part of our day to day.

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I may be forty years old, but I have lived through much more.  I realize that life is whatever you make it.  This journey is to be taken lightly!  We are to love the Creator and our fellow creatures that share this Earth with us.  We are meant to be happy.

The passions that are put in our hearts are there for a reason.  A bit of a guide map, if you will.  What do you dream of?  What do you want to accomplish and do?  How can you get to that point?  If you had no fear, what would you do?  It’s scary just saying it.  Maybe it is skydiving or something like moving to Brazil.

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If I had no fear…

I would sell my Apothecary.  There, I said it.  I don’t utter it because I don’t want folks to think that I am not putting as much effort into it.  My recipes are amazing.  And I believe that my medicine is the best out there.  I really do.  I think it is stronger than pharmaceuticals.  I feel blessed that we have been able to help virtually thousands and thousands of people around the world over the years.  That was my calling and I achieved that.  But new whispers are being quieted in my spirit.

If I had no fear I would sell my apothecary, my recipes, my name, my website, and I would teach the buyer everything they need to know to pick up where we are right now and run with it.  We have a huge client base.  Doug looks terrified when I say these things.  How will we make a living?

I don’t know but I know that I want to farm.  I want to throw myself into farming.  And teaching.  I love teaching!  I want to keep my Herbalist School and my Homesteading School.  If we got enough to live for a year or two from the sale (this hypothetical sale…do people even buy businesses anymore?) we would have enough. We could see where the Creator leads us.  I think there is something around the corner.  It’s exciting and terrifying and often seems completely preposterous.  But so did closing my dance company to become an herbalist.

A few things come to mind…when I wake up I am not excited to make medicine and fill orders anymore.  I am excited to get outdoors, to be in the soil, to teach students, to share my enthusiasm, to grow fresh food.

And while we’re at it, I want to publish a book.

Alright, now it’s your turn.  How will you add some silliness to your day?  What will you do today that makes you happy?  And if you had to fear…what would you do?

How To Become a Homesteader-Part 1- Finances

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Our homesteading school garners a lot of interest and folks of all walks of life are more and more interested in leaving the rat race and joining the simple life.  Most people have a romanticized view of what homesteading looks like, but the good news is, most of those images are true.  It is lovely to live so simply and to not worry as much and to have more freedom with time.

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We have a lot of people, friends and family, ask how to get to this point.  How do you achieve the homestead?  How do you get your own place, your own farmstead?  How do you leave your job?  How do you walk away from your lifestyle?

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Here is the very first thing that one has to realize, grasp, and accept before they pursue this lifestyle.  You must be prepared to give up your way of life.  You must be prepared to give up a lot of things, a lot of comforts, a lot, in order to get away with living this way.  But you get much, much more in return.

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1. Regarding Work- unless you are independently wealthy or are expecting an inheritance, you’ll need to make an income.  There are a lot of people with “regular” jobs looking to escape to this lifestyle but do not want to give up the RV payment, the car payment, the cable package, the all electric run home, the big house, et cetera.  But, a lot of times the reason that people want to become homesteaders is to get away from those rat race jobs!  To not be reliant on others to keep them employed.  To not work 40+ hours a week breaking their backs and then expect to be able to go do chores and call in to work if a sick lamb is born.  Homesteading is about being your own boss.

There are the few that enjoy homesteading on the weekends or love their corporate jobs.  This is more about those of you that want to choose what you do from day to day, who want to live closer to nature, and who want to be less reliant on the system, and have faith in their abilities to provide for themselves.

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There is a new wave of entrepreneurs coming up.  People are realizing that four year college is not the answer most of the time for our young folk.  Heading into their adult lives with debt is not a great way to start out.  Trade schools are rising in popularity and for good reason.  There are few people my age that know how to fix plumbing, who can do carpentry, or who can fix their own cars.  We all got used to hiring people and that is expensive.  But if these young people can grab some of the training and jobs out there to do these things they can work for themselves and make a fair income.  Not just young people, if you need a new career, look into trade work.  If you know how to do these things, focus your energies on these skills to make a homestead income.

I have friends that make their entire living off of farming.  One needs less bills in order to achieve that.  We make a very nice living (it may be considered poverty level, but it works for us!) making and selling herbal medicines and teaching.

If you get your bills down low enough, an enjoyable part time job might be sufficient.

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2. Bills- Do you need a cable package?  Do you need television?  Do you need internet?  Can you use free wifi somewhere?  Get your bills down as low as you can on paper and then you will see how much you need to make per month.  Forget the five year plan, the “when we get this paid off” plan, “when we retire” plan.  Life is short, life is waiting, act soon!

Take away preconceived notions.  You do not need to own a lot of land to homestead.  Find a cheap rental with a friendly landlord.

As you get involved in this lifestyle you will find that you will meet more and more likeminded people.  Homesteaders are an amazing community of people that are always willing to help with advice and expertise and who love to barter!

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3. Debt- It seems impossible to get rid of the debt we accumulated through student loans and losing our house from our previous lifestyle but we certainly aren’t adding any more to it!  We do not use credit cards.  We do not take on debt.  We highly recommend the Dave Ramsey program.  Assume that if you can’t afford it today, you can’t afford it later!  A cash based budget is easier to keep track of.

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4. Rely on Yourself- Learn how to make alternative medicines.  They are every bit as effective as pharmaceuticals.  Barter for what you need if possible.  Preserve as much food as possible.  Heat your home with wood if possible.  Make a list of where your money goes….doctors, grocery stores, clothing stores, et cetera, and see what you can do for yourself.  Break it down even further.  Crackers on your grocery list?  Learn to make them!

It is empowering and takes some stress off of you if you can do it yourself.

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5.  Learn New Skills- Can you get a book on how to make home repairs?  Can you learn to build a fence?  Can you learn to make antibiotics?  Can you learn to can?

Yes you can!

This is the first step in successfully becoming a homesteader and leaving the status quo behind.

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We get to babysit our granddaughter while our daughter is at work part time because we make our own schedules.  We have so much fun with that little munchkin.  We have time to run around with our animals and enjoy the views here.  We have few worries here.  We are in control of our life and is there anything sweeter than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Glimpse of Farm, Family, Life

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We went and visited our friends, Lisa, Lance, Brandon, and Brett, on their homestead.  Maryjane is such a little animal lover and horse whisperer already.  Her friend, Tuvia (Lisa and Lance’s grandson) was there to play with her and together they visited with cows, chickens, horses, and dogs.  A farm girl in the works!

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The aftermath of the cold was sobering but not surprising.  Everything in the cold frame was gone.  I just received this cold frame as a barter for a class so I am still new to it.  Should I have packed it with straw?  Covered it with a blanket?  Brought everything in?

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The bees activity couldn’t help but remind me of Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”.  “Bring out your dead…” kept ringing in my mind as the bees studiously brought out dozens of dead bees, one still moving.  “I’m not dead yet!”

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We went to a lovely birthday celebration for my future son-in-law and Maryjane’s daddy, Bret.  It was his 18th birthday.  This young man is just wonderful.  He is a devoted partner to my youngest daughter, Emily, and a doting father, who I rather fear is going to spoil that little girl rotten (if Grammie and Papa don’t beat him to it!).  He is finishing high school and going to college full time to be a diesel mechanic.  Very proud of the family they have become.  It was fun getting together with his rather large family at a nice restaurant and celebrating.

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Doug and Bret
Bret and Maryjane
Bret and Maryjane
Me and Emily
Me and Emily
Lots of family
Lots of family
Bret's brother, Bailey and I try out taking a selfie.
Bret’s brother, Bailey and I try to take a selfie.
My girls
My girls
Cutie petutie.
Cutie petutie.

Outdoors temperatures have rose to the thirties and forties and it feels like a heat wave!  I sat outside for a moment with my face to the sun taking in the warmth and the light.  I love the sun.  The animals are cuddling together to keep the warmth and all is well and peaceful at our little farm.

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I hope this finds you, dear reader, safe and warm and healthy in your own homestead.  And with less than a week before Thanksgiving, I ought to turn off the Christmas music, and start preparing for the Thanksgiving meal.  I am blessed to have friends and a few of the kids joining us this year.  We all have much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

 

Ten Secrets to Living a Simple and Enchanted Life

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1. Notice Something New in Nature Every Day. 

This could be while walking down a city sidewalk to work or in your own field of hay.  Take a moment to smell the air, see the different colors that nature has painted that moment, listen for birds, see butterflies flitting by, spy nests, and laugh at squirrels.

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2. Do More of What Makes You Happy.

I have a large coffee mug that I picked up in California with this saying on it.  It pleases me and reminds me of a fundamental right, we can do what makes us happy.  I spent too many years doing what I was “supposed” to do.  Make people happy, do the proper thing, work hard, stay married (second times a charm), go to funerals, weddings, parties, events, stay friends with the same draining people.  Slowly the creative, enchanted side of me started to leave.  Stuck in the world of what I should do, left little room for what I wanted to do.  Even though folks say you should do everything you have to do now to do what you want later, I have seen too many times that later doesn’t always come.  No telling how long my lifespan is and I intend to do what I want now.  If I am not incredibly close with the person I have no desire to go to funerals, or other hooplas.  I will work for myself even if that means less luxuries.  My luxury is my garden and baby goats and my warm bed at night.

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3. Do Not Turn Down Opportunities or Invitations.

Not the same thing as #2!  When I was at a market last Saturday a young woman asked quietly if I might like to come over for tea sometime.  She lives in the trailer park across the street and is rather enchanted by my gardens.  The hermit side of me would immediately dash such a notion.  I am very busy!  But, to meet someone new, to learn something new, to share your life for a moment with another spirit walking the same journey, one never knows what positive spin on one’s life this could take.  Invitations for wine and tea, walks, and new friends add glints of happiness and layers of memories upon our lives.

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4. Adopt an Animal.

Whether it be a kitten or a chicken, a dog or a goat, animals of all kinds add a certain pleasure to our lives that cannot be replicated with anything else.  To run your fingers through a warm cat’s fur, or laugh at a chicken running by with a worm, to hug a crying baby goat who needs attention, or to take a tremendously happy dog on a walk, to stroke the neck of a beautiful steed, or hold a baby duckling in your hand.  These are exhalation moments.  Ones that bring the swirling world to a brief stop and time revolves around the animals that rely on you for care.  My house may sometimes smell of cat boxes or worse, the dog may have gas, chicken poop may stick to our shoes, and there may be hay in my apron pockets, but I do not ever foresee Doug and I not having furry kids.  They enhance our life far too much.

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5. Do Not Worry About What Other Folks Think.

Particularly family and friends.  Sometimes peer pressure can be hurtful and cause worry.  I do not care that we live in a little run down, cute house on rented property with all these animals.  Years ago I had to stop caring what folks thought about us taking our kids out of the public school system and teaching them ourselves.  They are intelligent, well educated, eloquent grown children.  I do not care what people say about Maryjane not having vaccinations.  She is the smartest fifteen month old I have ever met.  I do not care if people snicker and think I sell pot.  I prefer St. John’s Wort, myself.  I do not care that my skirts are old and kind of ripped.  That I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily.  What happens is when you decide this is your life and this is how you want it or this is how it is, old friends and family back off and new friends and family step forward and your entire inner circle changes to like minded people or just people that really love you for who you are.  I adore my inner circle.

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6. Plant a Seed.

A pot on the balcony will do.  Or a large garden if you wish.  But plant a seed or bring home an already planted strawberry plant or basil plant.  Do something so that you can taste a bit of fresh food each day.  Fresh food energizes the body and spirit and keeps us healthy and enthralled with unique flavors and textures.  A garden or potted balcony is a lovely place to contemplate one’s life and days.  To be thankful and to enjoy a cup of coffee.

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7. Pen a Letter.

I write to my pen pals while Doug is shooting pool.  In a darkened hundred year old building that has been a saloon for perhaps all of that time, I am surrounded by old ranchers and Vietnam vets who wonder out loud (and loudly), “What are you doing?”  No matter how many times I tell them I am writing a letter, they reply, “No one writes letters anymore.”  How enjoyable to open the mailbox to find a letter.  A real one.  Folded crisp paper, carefully scripted beginning turned illegible near the end as we try to write everything on our minds and happenings before our hands tire too much.  A stamp and a carefully addressed envelopes heading to destinations that I have not yet seen.  Write to an old friend or aunt that would enjoy the antiquated pleasure of a letter.

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8. Turn off the Television.

For heaven’s sake.  Turn off the television.  Do not use it as a babysitter.  Do not let the kids play video games.  Awake your husband.  Get un-addicted from television shows.  So much nonsense out there taking root in our psyches.  If you need to relax, a drink and a book on the porch is lovely.  A walk is even better.  A walk with your spouse is time to talk and hold hands.  A knitting project awaits.  So do homemade cookies.  A spot in the garden with drawing paper.  A telephone call to an old friend, or sister.  Time is elusive.  Invite the neighbor over for laughs.  Be present.

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9. Get Outside.

Can you walk to work, or the mailbox?  Can you get outside on your lunch hour?  Can you sit outside and have lunch?  Dinner?  The outdoors is where our spirits can breathe.  The stresses of life melt away.  Enchantment begins.  Watch a sunrise…or sunset.  Smell a flower.  Feel earth between your toes.  Sit in the grass.  Or just take a walk.  Every moment outdoors fuels creativity and stress reduction.  We were never meant to be cooped up indoors.

My grandma and I when my grandparents came out to see the new place.

10. Notice and Memorize Moments.

We had our annual party Saturday night.  Rodney came over with the karaoke system.  Tents and twinkly lights were erected and the cocktails and great potluck food were enjoyed to the sound of singing and the rodeo going on in the fairgrounds.  Fireworks lit up the night later.  Every time I am in a place with people, whether it be at my brother’s wedding last week or at the party Saturday, I take a moment to look around, take it all in.  Who knows how much longer I will have my grandparents, or more surprisingly, how long my friends may be here.  Losing Nancy so suddenly this last spring left a hole in my heart and I am more apt to notice and enjoy the moment.  The first annual party without her.  I did not worry if everyone had a drink or a plate of food.  Or if everyone was having fun or if I was being a good hostess. I just sat back and noticed people laughing, caught up with everyone, appreciated everyone there.  Gave hugs, sang, watched the sunset, was thankful for all these good friends.

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Enchantment and creativity are found all around us and in our hearts we want to be carefree.  I hope you will find freedom and more glints of happiness and life moments with each passing day.  See you on the porch!

 

 

Face to the Sun (early crops and prayers)

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This is my favorite sculpture.  It was created by Roxanne Swentzell.  I could not bring the statue home but I was able to obtain this greeting card from her gallery in New Mexico and I keep it on my secretary.  It emanates my favorite feeling.  Face upturned, worries decreasing as I feel the warm sun on my face.  Even the pumpkins speak to me as my farm’s name is Pumpkin Hollow Farm!

Today will be seventy degrees here in Kiowa, Colorado and I intend to do just this.  To lift my face to the heavens whispering prayers of thanks and soaking up that beautiful sunshine and warmth.  I will plant the early crops today.  Radishes, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and lettuces I will give extra fervent prayers to as I need them in three weeks for our first farmer’s market.  The bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli will take a bit longer.  Spring peas, snap peas, snow peas will go in buckets up against the house with a makeshift trellis behind them to give them something to play on.

With my hands once again in the dirt, the worries and sorrows of winter will be past and the present power of nature and new beginnings will pour forth as the water showers the awakening soil.  I will breathe deep, be thankful, and infuse life into the soil as it infuses life into my soul.

Happy Easter everyone.  This was my favorite song as a child sitting in church in my hat and beautiful Easter dress, content.

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it…..”