Posted in inspiration

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I watched the most inspirational and delightful movie the other night with my husband. Both of us tearing up, singing along, and enjoying every second. We didn’t know what to expect when we rented A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood but we knew it was about Mr. Rogers.

It was amazing how quickly I regressed forty years. I instantly remembered the puppets, I knew every word to the songs, my heart quickened upon seeing the sets. I used to think that Mr. Rogers could see me through the screen so I always quickly straightened the living room before he came through the front door. My granddaughter, at the same age, watches him still. Such a legacy.

During my Mr. Rogers watching days

I enjoyed the myth busting (not a sniper), and Tom Hank’s always stellar performance. What struck me was Fred Rogers’ ability to every day choose to make a difference and be present with people, to spread love and encouragement- not just on the set, but in every moment of the day. Even as he quietly prayed for each person that crossed his path by name.

I have written before that I’m not a huge fan of mass prayers for people in churches and social media posts, as if God only helps the most popular. But I do think there is great power in individually praying the name of a person. Garnering energy for them, sending them love, and helping to make their hopes a reality. In the book, Eat, Pray, Love, Liz prays for a loved one with all of her heart, on another continent, in a present, meaningful way during prayers of a different language, and that child was helped. I do pray for people by name, but I like the idea that was in Mr. Rogers of writing their names down so that each utterance is meaningful and no one is forgotten. I generally pray people’s names when I lay down to go to sleep.

I guess what the movie showed me is that there are many ways to help people. I always try to be a positive influence. I check in on the young people I adore and I try to be kind to everyone I meet. I don’t leave the house too often and I tend to feel that my only way of connection is through social media, but there are ways we can be influential without the use of the computer.

If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important.”

Fred Rogers

When you are with someone, be truly present. Do not pick up your phone. Do not let your mind wander. Focus on what that person is saying and who they are. This is a valuable moment. Instead of quickly deciding what you are going to say or interject, just listen. How many times do we wish that we could go back and listen to a loved one that has passed? How often do we feel listened to? Such a simple thing to be present with someone, and how powerful.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”.

Fred Rogers

Control your emotions. Social media and news thrill themselves by making us hysterical. And I am afraid it is far too easy to fall into it and to snap back cruel responses by fingertip. As the election gets closer, folks are going to get uglier. As more and more of our rights get threatened, people from both sides lash out from fear and anger and personal opinion. Let us avoid all that nonsense and only speak inspiration and joy. Truth and kindness. Fear never solved anything. Talk about your feelings in a personal way to someone you love.

It is really so simple, isn’t it? Do what you love. Do it well. Folks will be ushered into your life who need your love and encouragement, or whom you need. Always be kind. We never know what heartbreaks for fears others are experiencing at any given time. Pray for people quietly by name. Be present and appreciate people for exactly who they are. This world is certainly a better place because Fred Rogers was in it. And it is a better place because you are in it. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood today. I’m glad to be a part of it.

Posted in inspiration

Map of Purpose and Inspiration

My heart is a little heavy today, but I know why- it’s midwinter. All the dreaming of gardening and spring and trying to keep busy do not completely veil the wintertime blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. My mind wanders and ponders and when the mind is given too much berth it tends to get into trouble! I wonder about social media. I wonder about this blog. I wonder of my own worth and contribution to society. Then I quiet it down again with a gardening book and a cup of tea, thankful for the respite of winter and the rest before the miraculous madness of farming season.

What is the point of my being on facebook? It began as a way to reconnect with old friends. Which I did. And I never see them and few would even notice if I left facebook. I use it to promote my blog. What is the point of my blog? I like to think that my purpose is to inspire others. To help them bring the quiet simplicity of a handmade life into their own lives. To be able to walk softer on the planet. To find joy in an old fashioned lifestyle. It is particularly useful for highly sensitive people like myself. But, does it really make a difference at all? And then there is Instagram. Do sharing photos of our life really inspire anyone at all? Ah February. I will have my hands in the soil towards the end of next month.

My beautiful friend, Annie, lived with me two summers ago and helped me with the gardens, animals, and with canning and soap making, and was wonderful company to me.

In these moments of quiet insecurity when the sun still goes down way too early and the outdoors beckon but it is still too cold, and Vitamin D stores are low, minds do begin to wander. I believe what most of us are really worrying about is our purpose. Our contribution to the world. We receive so many blessings, are we returning them in a good way and are we appreciated? I tend to hermit myself into my home and adore the company of my animals to crowds and office buildings. I could easily fall into my only socialization being social media and this blog (though I have a handful of great friends, children, and a husband that won’t let me). But I do have a dream that I would love to see come true, though the universe would have to arrange it. Still, I believe it could happen. When a dream is put upon our hearts, it is map, a blueprint of our current purpose.

My friend, Ethan was my farm intern in 2014. We still keep in touch. He now farms in New York.

High school age and young twenties, I love their energy, their smiles, their hearts. I have such a desire to be a mentor, a friend, a surrogate mama to those that need someone to be there for them. I have a handful of past students and my children’s friends that consider me one of their mamas and I try to keep up with them. Make sure they feel loved. Make sure they have the encouragement they need to pursue their purpose.

I loved my daughter Shyanne working with me and teaching her the art of herbalism.

Over the last ten or so years my farm and homestead has revolved around how to make it profitable (or rather, how to survive), but now that my husband supports us, other ideas come forth. This is my biggest garden plan ever, my most ambitious homestead yet, and I will surely need help. I also want to share my skill set with the next generation so that they can feel secure in the fact that they could be subsistence farmers, homesteaders, nature restorers, and find peace in the soil of our sustenance. It could offer a safe place while they are learning by working with me. Have family style meals and be a positive influence and encouragement while working alongside future gardeners and friends.

I am so grateful to live this homestead life. This old fashioned, apron wearing, reading by oil lamp, warming myself by the woodstove, kitten on my lap, homegrown and handmade life, that I cannot help but share it. And hope that it brings inspiration.

Posted in Beauty/Health

Guard Your Mind (Your Best Life, day 1)

This subject was set to be written towards the end of the week, but after the nightmare I had last night, it jumped to today!

Guard Your Mind

When I was a teenager, it was exasperating for me and my friends that I was not allowed to watch anything over PG. Our television watching at home was limited to Disney and old movies. My mother would take any trashy book or tape away from me. She was strict. She was guarding my mind.

When you watch a movie or television show, or read a book or the news, it becomes a part of you. It winds itself into the fibers of your memory, your behavior, how you react to things. It can feed fear- even something you may have seen as a teenager. Or it can produce empathy and inspiration.

No News Is Good News

Since before the Civil War, the press has been playing the people. Ordinary news of regular folks and positive, uplifting news just doesn’t sell. Fear sells. Anger sells. Drama sells. It releases our cortisol, it stimulates our adrenals, we read it, hear it, and it becomes a part of us. Even if nearly all news is only half true or a perception of someone else. There is no reason to know the news. Trust me, you will know if we are invaded or if there is a fire nearby. Filling yourself with news, when you can do nothing about the situations therein, is a slow poison.

We watched “Murder on the Orient Express” last night. We watched the 1974 version because we enjoyed the new one. It was just enough to topple my peaceful sleep. Everything I had seen and read about murder came flushing forward in my dream. I watched as high schoolers murdered a young man. The child came to me and a few others to solve the crime and to stop them, but they turned on us and it was a scary dream filled with fear.

Granted, I am a highly sensitive person, and perhaps you don’t think the news, or scary movies, or dramatic books affect you. But they do find a way of accessing your dreams, opinions, and actions. What if you filled your mind with really great information? What if you ditched the news and used newspapers to fuel the wood stove? What if you chose to read inspirational books and great literature? What if you only watched positive and uplifting movies? What if we all filled our minds with poetry, animal sanctuaries, great art, nature, humor, and love? Our entire perception would change for the better. We wouldn’t live in fear and anxiety as much and we could contribute more inspiration and more light to the world around us.

Today, do what you need to do to guard your mind. It’s the first step to your best life.

Posted in Animals/Chickens

The Wishy-Washy Writer (and kindness to all)

This is the story of a wishy-washy writer (therefore all her business is out there confusing the world) and her battles with what is right, and what makes us well, and what serves the most people and animals, yet finding what is beneficial to us (because if we aren’t happy then we can’t inspire others).

This is the story of a wishy-washy writer who was vegetarian for twenty-seven years, vegan for two, then on-and-off again meat eater-then-vegan since. It is about this time each year that I become fiercely ill. My body absolutely rebels against its half a year of animal products. One year it felt like I had a hole in my stomach. One year the gout was terrible. Then there was the chronic swelling of my lymph nodes for over a year. Then the intense stomach issues. This year I am on my third week of hives and stomach issues. Every year in my journal I write, “Next time I want to start eating meat again…read this!” But alas, we inevitably go on vacation, go to a friend’s house, read a book about being a locavore or the poisons of processed food and we are back to a freezer full of meat, pretending to be pioneers until I get sick again and neither of us are feeling so hot.

Every year, I frantically erase all of the posts from the six months before. When I am vegan, I erase the posts about raising animals for meat and recipes. When I am a meat eater, I erase all the animal sanctuary posts. Vegans (even the word, vegan) can sound annoying and frantic and extreme. I have inspired a lot of people to become vegan over the years and those folks are adamant and heartfelt in their work. I feel the same but then I think it may be so hypocritical. We simply cannot go through this life without causing death to other species. From petroleum use to clearing farm fields, every time you pop an Advil, or buy plastic, we aide in the death of others.

It is easier to just consume animal products. Then you don’t have to be the annoying one at the holiday dinner or the irritated one at a restaurant. You don’t have to get creative trying to make goat cheese out of almonds. I want goats. I don’t necessarily look forward to milking. And in my heart I know that taking the baby away and then sending it to slaughter if it is a boy, and drinking the milk after my own mother’s breast milk has many decades past dried up, is probably weird, if not wrong, and probably not that healthy. I don’t know y’all. Does anyone else have these dilemmas constantly bantering in their heads and hearts?

After I get sick each year, after I take on a plant based diet again, I always get better. Every ailment that ails me heals itself on a plant-based diet. Every time I have meat on my plate, I have less room for antioxidant-rich grains, vegetables, proteins, and fruit. Can you be a locavore and eat a plant-based diet? (And if we are honest, are any of us really eating that local?)

Here is the thing, I don’t even like the feeling of eating gooey, greasy cheese and I don’t even like meat! But it is so easy in our society. On this farm, am I really going to look in the eyes of an infant or old farm animal and decide they are going to die? I don’t think it is right to kill elephants or horses or cats for food….in other places it is acceptable….why do I think some animals are just destined for the plate? I could never look in the eyes of a moose or or deer and pull the trigger to end its beautiful life. I don’t know. These are real battles in my heart and mind and the way a writer delves into those recesses of questioning is to write.

I wonder how many people have chronic illnesses that can be blamed on their food choices, but because it is so hard to change them in our society, they will never make that change or get well.

And wouldn’t I rather be an example of kindness to all?

(If you leave a comment, please make sure it is respectful. There are probably no right or wrong answers here!)

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

So You Want to Be a Homesteader (27 ways, a new series)

I read a blog post that talked about homesteading.  In it the author states that people in the city can say they are gardeners, can say they are homemakers, but cannot say that they are homesteaders.  I beg to differ.  I have homesteaded in the country, a small town, and in the city.  Our plan is to get back on land, but that does not change our lifestyle.  In fact, I believe we are actually more sustainable in the city.  We are just missing a well and a couple of goats.

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The word homesteading isn’t really a relevant word anymore because the government is not giving us parcels of land to try to live on for five years before we get to keep it.  So, we need to go by the new definition of homesteading and leave it open to everyone.  You can homestead anywhere.  Homesteading starts and ends with high self sufficiency, appreciation for the natural world, sustainability, community, health, and pride in hard work that we do ourselves.

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Homesteading can be done on any level, but as you grow your own food, chop your own wood, eat from your own root cellar, create your own medicines, it does get addictive.  This is a great lifestyle and one that anyone can incorporate into their lives.  The more aspects of it that you pick up, the more money you save, the healthier physiologically and psychologically you become, and things that are really important come to the forefront of life.  Family, food, security, counting blessings, and the good life.

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I have come up with a list of 27 ways to start homesteading.  27 aspects of homesteading that keep a heart humming, the fam fed, and the home fires burning.  Join me over the next month as I cover each one to inspire, teach, and swap ideas with you.  We will talk about searching for land, preserving, growing, animals, home arts, and more!

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27 Ways to Homestead

  1. Organic gardening
  2. Canning
  3. Fermenting
  4. Dehydrating food
  5. Smoking food
  6. Freezing food
  7. Raising chickens
  8. Fishing/Hunting
  9. Supporting local farmers
  10. Bread baking
  11. Cooking three meals a day
  12. Preparing simple, unprocessed food
  13. Sewing/Mending
  14. Crocheting
  15. Purchasing second hand
  16. Cheese making
  17. Generating your own electricity
  18. Generating your own heat
  19. Making your own medicine
  20. Making your own cleaning products
  21. Making your own body products
  22. Making homemade gifts and cards
  23. Free entertainment
  24. Learning to make everything from scratch
  25. Budgeting
  26. Using original homesteading items that last
  27. Learning from other homesteaders

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Go get yourself a cute apron and let’s get to work!  We are embarking on the good life.

Posted in Field Trips

Two Days in Santa Fe

I am sitting in a coffee shop on the Plaza enjoying a delicious brew in a corner booth overlooking the frost covered buildings and the vast sky that promises warmer weather today.

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I read a study that compared the frequencies of people and places and how we thrive best when matched with our own similar frequency level regarding people and lands.  According to the study, if you were to close your eyes and someone placed a stone from a place that you love in one hand and a stone from a place you do not like, you would notice the difference.  This place matches my frequency.  Whether crossing the Santa Fe Plaza or eating red chile in Socorro or driving though farm land or artist towns, this is my place.  One day…

I adore the architecture and the history here.  The traditional adobe with straw sticking through its ancient walls.  The oldest house in the United States is here and was built in 1598.  Down a small street next to San Miguel church (circa 1636) is the house and free museum.  I loved seeing the tortilla press (not too different than mine) and the stone used for grinding corn into meal (a bit different than my Vitamix) and the other items of the era.

There is a distinctive look to New Mexico.  It is all about the details here.  Punched tin, kivas, adobe, bright trim, murals, and vigas create textures, history, and art in the architecture and design here.

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We brought our granddaughter’s stuffed animal with us and have been capturing moments with it to the delight of Maryjane.

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Now I have seen the fake stuffed animal heads mounted on boards.  They are cheeky and kind of funny from a vegetarian perspective.  In fact, I have long had a stuffed moose head we named Moosletoe hanging in our living room.  One is funny; more than that might be over the top.  However, when I saw this rooster head I started giggling so much that the cashier started giggling, than Doug joined in, and the contagious laughter prompted his coming home with me.  He is hilarious.  Perhaps he will inspire my rooster, Bob, to behave himself.

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Amazing how ten days flies when on vacation.  Thanks for coming along with me, we’ll see you back at the farm!

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Posted in Field Trips

Birthday Travels Through the Southwest (and the year of learning and adventure)

As adults we don’t seem to celebrate birthdays with the same festivity as when we were children, but I think all birthdays are incredibly special.  Having lost many friends at a young age, I know that each birthday is a great time to reevaluate, reground, regroup, and to be filled with gratitude.  Each lesson leading into another great discovery and memories fill the spaces in our days and lives with those we love and experiences to treasure.

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Last year was my year of bravery.  I shaved off all of my hair for my birthday.  It was freeing and light and was like the world’s burdens had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Now of course I am trying to grow out with some semblance of normalcy!

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My birthday is Sunday.  This year is my year of adventure and learning.  My farm is ready to really increase food production with experiments, new gardens, and my greenhouse.  I am registered for school in the fall.  But before everything gets really amped up, we are going on a ten day trip through New Mexico and Arizona.

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We will be staying with our dear, dear friends, Monte and Erik, whom we haven’t seen since they moved away over three years ago.  My friend from high school (26 years since I have seen her) is down there, as is one of Doug’s (30 years), and my wonderful Great-Aunt Lila.  I have never been to Arizona and I am excited to see the land and the people.  There are restaurants, parks, and museums to discover!  Sun to soak up!  Glasses of wine to clink with dear ones.  The overnights to and from Arizona in New Mexico I look forward to and always savor.  Chimayo is calling me.  So, for the next ten days I will be reporting to you from the fabulous Southwest with inspirations, ideas, and life.

 

 

 

Posted in inspiration

IKIGAI; What is Your Purpose?

I read the most beautiful book this week.  It has helped me get my groove back.

I had decided last year as my business was failing that I would go back to school to be a chef (but it is hard to be a chef when you don’t use animal products and the busy catering description gave me anxiety).  So then I thought teaching.  I love teaching!  “What would you teach?” everyone asked.  Oh…anything.  Then I got the bill for the first semester and promptly dropped all classes.  I would be retired before I could pay off that degree.  I look around and I love and am fascinated by so much.  My friend is a surgical tech.  That sounds cool!  My friends are nurses.  I was a candy striper in high school.  I wanted to be a nurse.  I could maybe work somewhere or do something.  Anything.  But, I know my pattern.  I go get a job, become overwhelmed, am shocked at the measly paycheck, am behind on dishes for weeks, and then quit.  I am better at being an entrepreneur.  But that failed.  Again.  Last year.  And that is when I went off kilter.  I lost my purpose.  I was no longer a full time herbalist.  No longer a shop keeper.  No longer healing baby calves around the county that were sick because they just got picked up from auction.  Heck, I am not even in the country anymore.

And then my beloved aunt and grandma passed away, I became sick, I think my dear friend, Steve, in California killed himself, and I have been listless and depressed.  Which is not like me.  And something had to give.

It is amazing how a book can change your life.  So many books, so much literature, has changed my life.  And this week, this book, I am so grateful for.  I realized that everything I feel is stemmed from my losing my purpose.

IKIGAI; the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles is a beautifully written and researched tome.  The authors delve into the science and stories behind longevity and happiness, primarily in Japan, where the most super centenarians reside (over 100 years old).  What do they do?  What do they eat?  What are their days like?  I adore research and am very interested in the longevity studies and other cultures.  They touch on diet (tons of fresh vegetables, soy, and fish), social networks (lots of valued friends, social get-togethers, small amount of alcohol daily), spiritual health (honoring all of the spirits and their ancestors), and exercise (they move, not more strenuously, but all the time, biking and walking everywhere).  But the main thing that keeps these folks so alive and well is purpose.  Their IKIGAI.  If they know what that is, they have reason to get up every morning.

What is it that makes you spring out of bed in the morning?  What would you do even without pay?  What is your passion?  What could you talk about without hesitation?  What do you do naturally?  My aunt gave me this picture for Christmas.  I guess she knew.

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I am a writer.  I never have to think about writing this blog.  In fact, it bothers me to take days off but I want to make sure y’all can catch up!  I love writing; books, poetry, articles, snippets of thoughts…I am a writer.  It is my IKIGAI.  I get a modest payment every month from Amazon and the local museum that carries my books.  It won’t support us, but that doesn’t matter.  I am also a gardener, a farmer, a lover of animals.  I need a greenhouse.  I need to be around plants, and I need to grow my own food, and I need to be around animals.  Sanctuary.

After reading this lovely little book I realized that I do not need to have any new degrees, careers, or paths.   I am on it.  If I write every day.  If I take care of my chickens.  If I get into the garden.  I will be okay.  That is my IKIGAI.  And with that knowledge, I am free.  I have purpose.  What is your IKIGAI?

Read it!  It is a lovely book.

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

Decorating With Notes of Spring

The air has a slightly different feel to it.  A different scent.  The cold is still there.  I bundle up as I go out to do chores.  But there is a tinge of something else upon the morning breath.  Life.  Spring.  By all indications, it is still the dead of winter, but I sense it.  I sense the pulse of the earth strengthening and the awakening of the plant world beneath it all.  Spring is coming.

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Pick up miniature roses from the grocery store.  Water once a week.  They will live until you can transplant them outdoors.  I had miniature roses grow three feet high in the garden before!

My home is still in the dead of winter.  Warm blankets caress chairs and the furnace is on.  The sun shines like a spotlight through the closed windows, still low in the sky.  My spirit falls more easily into stress and I long to be in the garden.  To be outside with a book without wind chill.  What to do?  The only thing I can do is to introduce notes of spring into the house.

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Plants always infuse spring and life into a place.  These are the babies from my very large aloe.  Last week I transplanted them into a new pot.  Its wide berth lets them spill out and catch the sun, giving a warm desert feel to this corner.  The cheap pots at Walmart are usually my go-to.  I love their cheery celadon, rouge, and artist blue colors, but sometimes it is nice to get a special pot that reminds you of something you love.  In this case, the land of the southwest where my heart and inspiration dance.

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It still gets dark out early so candles are still throughout the house.  These Catholic prayer candles sans saints are perfect and long lasting.  I used an old Coca-Cola crate to hold them.

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Found bird nests and unique pieces of wood and stone are set carefully around the house to bring nature in.

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My Farmhouse sign (bought at Cracker Barrel of all places!) doesn’t have a place on the wall right now because I have all my own bright paintings up but it seems cheery on the floor against the wall amongst the geraniums and other plants.

I seem to collect things with bicycles on them.  Bicycles with baskets.  I love the idea of them.  I love the freedom of them.  The perk of being in the city.  The promise of warm breezes and exercise and French bread in the basket picked up from the bakery or fresh flowers.  I have coffee cups with bicycles with baskets that say things like “Do More of What Makes You Happy.”  My daughter, Shyanne, gave me a small bicycle statue.  So Doug gave me a bike for my birthday last year.  With a basket.  I only rode it a few times before the tires were inundated with goat heads.  But a kind friend came over three different times to fix my tires, fill them with fix a flat, put on my basket and other accouterments (a bell included!) and I am ready to take off on the first nice day without Nordic winds.  The bike had a place on the porch but I brought it in.  It adds notes of spring and whimsy to my living room.

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Lastly, I picked up a snazzy pair of bright galoshes.  Oh, spring, I hope to see you soon!

 

Posted in Holidays

2019- As the Wheel Turns

My friends, we are on the cusp of 2019.  It is not a new thing to be thinking of what we want to change, manifest, or release.  This is a wired into us.  Before the modern world, the people knew that the wheel was turning.  The twelve days of Christmas was originally the twelve days of Yule and it ended on the 1st of the month, right when the wheel turns.  It is the thick of winter, a time of deep contemplation.  A bright new beginning.  A time of rebirth from the solstice when the sun begins to shine a bit more each day.  The light in us grows ever more as well.

Halo (Icebow or gloriole).

My work is as an herbalist, a clairvoyant reader, medical intuitive, and spiritual guide.  This is an unusual time.  Most everyone is in great transformation.  It is as if the universe is plucking things right out of people’s hands; relationships, jobs, identities.  Our worst traits are being exposed to the sun in order to change.  Our paths are being laid out in drastic form.  It is best if we just release.

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We are in a time of great change.  We are in a time when the young have more intuitive and sensitive people among them and they are struggling to understand why they are the way they are and are looking for mentors…or masking medications.  We are all being called to find our path.  To release our bad habits, fears, and ego and to embrace a better sense of self.  2019 may be a miraculous year for us all.  There are whispers and questions in the air that need answers.

What relationships cause you pain and stress?

Are your food choices compassionate, healthy, and karmically sound?

Are you honoring your body with movement?

Are you honoring your spirituality by being open to listen to truths being taught to you?  Are you taking time to honor that which you believe in?

Are you emotionally taking wellness breaks?

Are you working yourself every minute of the day for the car payment, for the dishes to be done, for the endless errands and hours at work to be done?

Your passions and desires are the road map to your destiny.  What do you dream of?  What does your life look like in your ideal world?  Who are you with?  What do you do?

What fears need to be released?  What negative habits need to be let go of?  What regrets do you carry?  Forgiving yourself is as important as forgiving others.

Listen.  Be brave.  Let go.  Release.  Embrace.  Smile.  Hope.  Surround yourself with your tribe.  Take up yoga, or walking, or Zumba.  Eat food from the earth.  Open doors, compliment, teach.  Love!  Take hot baths, meditate, light candles, read books.  Make steps towards your goals.  Breathe.

Laugh.

The wheel is turning.  Let us become our brightest, truest, happiest, most intensely magnificent selves.

(Let’s say it is the end of your days, look back, is that how you want to live?)

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