Posted in Our Family

Death and Laughter

steve and lisaI can see her still, pixie sized, with soft blond hair just brushing her shoulders, and compassionate, smiling eyes swirling her wine glass.  I can see her in the vineyards, on the boat watching the whales, in her home watching inspirational television, in her Fiat driving around dressed smartly.  She was one of the wisest women I have ever had the great honor to be friends with.  She crossed the veil, with grace and hopes of not returning, last week.  She was in her late fifties.  Her husband, Steve, my friend for many years, will be driving through and stopping in to see me.  We shall cry and reminisce and drink wine in her honor.

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If you have followed me for awhile, they were the couple we used to visit in California every few years.  I wrote many notes and added many photographs of our adventures through wine country, the Red Wood forest, to the ocean.

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Our society doesn’t like to speak of death.  We are fearful and clearly do not want to accept it.  But telling your loved ones what you want can help ease the decision making in a bereaved spouse and children.  It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.  Death is the next great transition, the next path, it is all beautiful, and it can be spoken of with humor.

When my daughters were young I remember them clearly arguing in the back seat as we drove somewhere about my remains.

I will put her ashes in the compost pile so that she can grow into flowers and trees! The other retorted, No, I am putting her ashes in the lion cage at the zoo.  You know she always wanted to be near a lion!

“Excuse me, I am right here!” I said, all of us laughing.

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Saturday as Doug and I were driving, we thought of Lisa.  I told him when I die call Lauren!  She is a friend of mine who specializes in green funerals.  The last thing I need is to be filled up with chemicals and shoved into Mother Earth with a final “screw you” inside of my veins.  No, just put me in there as is so I can feed a tree and microorganisms without killing everything.  Or cremate me and put me in the lion cage.  That could be fun.

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Doug chimed in,

A deceased woman was seen floating on Minnequa lake on fire this morning in a Viking funeral.  Two men in kilts were arrested for disturbing the peace and public drunkenness.  The bagpipes were confiscated.  Three police officers- friends of the deceased- were arrested for drunkenness and attacking a police officer with a sword.  The deceased’s children were seen fleeing the scene. 

We laughed at this vibrant scene in our imaginations as we made our way to my brother’s St. Patrick’s day party.

My friend, Nancy, who was a great part of this blog as well, died at fifty-four years old and in her final decisions wanted a green burial.  She was buried on her land in a beautiful ceremony right in the path of the easement where the oil companies were going to come through.  She had the last laugh!

I turned to Doug and asked him seriously since he doesn’t speak too much of it, “What do you want?”  He was silent for a moment and then replied thoughtfully,

I have just one request.  I want you to prop me up in the first row and see how many people notice!

Well, that sent us into another round of laughter.

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We may not have written down exact plans, but we have the gist of it.  Death is not scary.  It is just another journey.  Save a little money for your burial, write down what you want, and then maybe plan a great reception in your honor complete with Mariachi and margaritas or your flaming corpse on the nearby lake.  Send yourself off proper.  And love those around you fiercely while they are alive.  I will sure miss Lisa.

 

Posted in Farming

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?

Posted in Our Family

A Letter To Young Parents…(to avoid the woulda, coulda, shouldas)

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Dear Parents of Small Children,

There are some things that are not told that should be told.  You may hear that time flies and you will be left alone, so enjoy your kids.  That is the extent of what we hear!  My youngest turned sixteen yesterday.  A brilliant young girl, soon to be a mama herself.  Quiet and serene.  We were always trying to make her talk more.  People still want her to talk more.  Do not people please!  These are your children and no matter what well meaning family or friends say, these are your children and they will turn out well by example and a lot of love.  Do not force them to be anything other than what they are.  I sometimes wish I were as quiet as Emily.  I often stick my foot in my mouth and wish I could just be quiet!

When the kids cut their own hair, laugh and take pictures.  When they cut their hair thirty times, laugh and take pictures.  She can cut her hair beautifully now and any and all making her feel bad from us or other well meaning family and friends was unnecessary and hurtful.  Let kids be!

Should they draw all over the walls, take a picture, laugh, and perhaps join them.  Maybe make a designated wall, maybe just get them a big sheet of paper, either way, paint is cheap.

Listen.  Sometimes it is hard when they are bantering on about crazy ideas, but don’t interrupt, just listen.

Don’t spank.  It is just you being mad and they know that.  They will never remember what they did wrong.

Be outside as much as possible.  Children thrive with sunshine, water, and air.  Just like plants, they grow…and smile, and become great nature people.  That is one thing I did right (I hope not the only!), no video games.  They would say they were bored, then have half the neighborhood out exploring creeks and parks, and having a great time while making memories and became closer siblings.

Dinner at the table as many evenings as possible with real food.  Not fake!  No processed lab stuff, real food.  Start a garden and have them help grow a few things so they know what real food is.  You would be surprised how many kids (and believe it or not, adults) do not know what meat actually is or where vegetables come from.

They will become teenagers and no one warns you of the utmost desperation you will feel, your powerlessness, your broken heart.  No one talks about this, but it happens to everyone.  But as soon as you feel like you have been crushed, smothered, and broken hearted enough, they will come out of it and love you even more.

And as they get older, do notice for yourself as we do, that we anxiously avoid any well meaning family member that feels they have to lecture us about our life every time they see us.  Past seventeen, your done.  Enjoy.  They are their own people!

Above all, even though you are human, try with all of your heart to say only nice things, only positive things, make lots of great memories, trips, holidays, family gatherings.  As many hugs and kisses as you can muster, even if they are naughty….none of it matters.  You will not remember it and if you do, you will laugh at the memory.

Just think….if they die tomorrow, will this matter today?  The answer is probably not.  I would love to go back and try again.  But I know now that is why grandmothers are amazing and so loving!  They figured it out!  This is our second chance at loving kids and not worrying about what we are doing right or wrong.

So dear parents, enjoy the journey!

Love, Katie

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