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.

Pa and His Present

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Two of my favorite people in my world are celebrating their birthdays.  My beautiful granddaughter, Maryjane Rose, who adds so much sunshine and love to our family arrived five years ago this morning.  It was a snowy March day and we were snowed into the hospital.  The next morning dawned bright as Pa celebrated his birthday with a stuffed animal from the gift shop and a new baby girl.

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“What should we get Pa for his birthday?” I asked Maryjane while we were shopping.  She looked at me blankly.  “Nothing,” she replied seriously, “am his present!”  She is all of our present.  She brought our family closer than we could imagine.  She is such a lovely soul.

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And so the next few days will be filled with festivities.  We believe in celebrating birthdays to the max around here because each day is not guaranteed and each year is truly a gift. And each soul in our lives truly matter.  Each day with these two loves of mine give me more joy than I can type.

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I am thankful.  Maryjane and grammie

Join me in sending some love and good wishes across the line to Doug and Maryjane.  Happy birthday you two!

Geraniums Mean Home. Geraniums Mean Love.

JpegThe memory of walking up the steps to my great-grandmother’s bungalow as a young girl is still vivid to me now.  Every summer the wide, cement porch railing would be filled with geraniums.  The lush greenery topped with clusters of brightly colored flowers waved in the warm air.  Geraniums mean welcome to me.

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I have a dream of going to Italy.  One day.  One day.  In all of the pictures I see of Italy, there they are.  The trailing, fiery red blooms hugging ancient stones and leading the way to the cucina door.  Geraniums.  Geraniums mean home to me.

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I gathered them at the farmer’s market years ago.  These are maybe five years old.  They have grown and become enormous specimens.  They have followed us on our adventures and hog the south window.  They wait for late spring like I do to be set back out on the porch.  Geraniums mean sit a spell and relax to me.

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Today is our wedding anniversary.  I heard him sneak out of the house at 4:00 am.  Past the geraniums that were still asleep, but I was not.  He drove all over town looking for a place that was open so he could bring me flowers before heading to work at five.  He says I have made this house a home.  Our forever home. I have filled it with flowers and unusual plants.  Poinsettias bloom red in the windows.  Towering aloes and tiny bamboo.  I want to make this house a home to him because he has made it home for me.

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As he approaches the door after a day of work and passes the pots of geraniums I hope they speak of home.  When guests arrive and marvel at their display of bright pinks and romantic reds, I hope they feel welcome.  One day we will travel to Italy and see the geraniums and think of ours at home.  We shall sit on the porch and count our blessings, sweet tea in hand, and watch as the geraniums reach for the sun and glimmer in the summer day.  And when I am passed, I hope the sight of geraniums reminds my grandchildren of climbing the steps to a place they were loved.  Geraniums mean love.

 

A Birthday Wish for Shyanne

shyAs I get older the things I treasure are fewer but hold more intensity.  Relationships tend to take precedence in life these days.  The sacredness of being on this life journey with another soul is so breathtakingly beautiful and I have such gratitude for those who have chosen to stay in my life and partake in it.

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One of my very best friends has a birthday today.  All birthdays are a gift.  And the birthday of a very close friend is even more special.  We talk every day, no secrets, we build each other up, we straighten each other up, we are equals, and we enjoy each other’s company.  We are business partners and have spent the last twenty-two years (very likely longer though…pretty certain she was my mother in my last life!) building that love and companionship.

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Shyanne during her very favorite time of year!

This young woman has always been an old soul.  Her kindness and her empathy are evident and she is a powerful plant medicine maker and healer.  She is gorgeous on the outside and just as shining and lovely on the inside.  I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to have given birth to that little girl-now woman- 22 years ago.

My wish for my Shyanne Mae is that she has a lovely day and a year filled with dreams coming true.  Possibilities unfolding.  Laughter ringing.  And peace enfolding her every desire and path on her journey.  I wish her a year of great love.

Happy Birthday Shyanne!  (my Pumpkin, Dad’s Cupcake)  Always our baby, forever my friend.

Before You Give to a Charity (really helping those in need)

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‘Tis the time of year for charities.  To give to those less fortunate.  To share some of our blessings.

We often gave money to organizations that helped the homeless.  Then we became homeless ourselves after losing our rented farm.  We opted not to go on welfare, but rather to work very hard to get jobs and get back on our feet.  About this time two years ago we were out of money and hungry.  You can only eat so many dollar burritos from Taco Bell with found change.  We looked into getting a food basket from a local charity that distributed them.  I didn’t have a coat, I was freezing.  We were really struggling and not a single organization could or would help us.  They gave everything to the “poorest” in the county.  Well, you couldn’t have been poorer than us at that moment.  You have to work pretty dang hard to be the poorest in the county.  You have to get on welfare and food stamps, and you can’t try to find work or you would lose your pay out every month.  No thanks.

Then we have the homeless organizations that we gave to.  Those are intended to serve the perfectly able folks with signs-who make more money than anyone I know- on the corners of busy streets.  We did a farmer’s market for years in a park that was popular with the homeless.  They stole, took drugs in the park, excitedly went and got free food from the food kitchen, and had no desire to change their lives.  Or they wouldn’t be homeless anymore.  It was a lifestyle they chose.  They were the first to admit it.  And that really surprised us.

Now, this all sounds a little harsh, but let me be clear, there are people out there that need your help.  They just don’t have cardboard signs and are working hard to try and make it.  They are the elderly on your block who would love company and a meal with someone.  It’s the single mom who can’t afford new coats for her swiftly growing children.  It’s the friend at work whose wife is sick and they need help with meals and cleaning the house but would never ask.  There are people all around you who could use a bit of charity and mercy and help.

Only a few cents goes to the people large charities serve.  If you were to just look around you could have a much more powerful impact, make a personal connection, and strengthen the community you are in.  I will forever be grateful to my old neighbors who showed up at my shop with a box of home canned food, squash, a winter coat, and a hug.

Before you write a check to a big charity, look around and see if anyone near you could use a little holiday help.  We all need a little help here and there.

(Thank you to all of our friends that pitched in back then with money, a place to stay, a dinner, and hugs.  We never imagined we would have been in that situation.  Amazing how much can change in such a short time. We are really grateful for all we have now.)

 

Compassion For Even the Smallest

 

tinyTiny Timothina had a bad day.  When we returned from our show last night we thought she was dead.  The other chicks were running over her.  Her wing and one leg were stretched out.  “Mama, I think we lost the runt,” Doug said sadly.  We saw her move though and there was life and hope.

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She was smaller than the other chicks and just wasn’t thriving.  We put her in her own small box with mini bowls of food and water and turned the light on her.  The next morning she was still alive though still laying on her side.  I put her in my shirt and rocked her as I had my coffee and checked emails.

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When we came home from our show tonight she was laying in her water dish and not well.  I held her again until she died.

That happens, it is hit or miss with chicks.  They are hatched then shipped all over the nation within twenty-four hours and sometimes for no reason we find that the chick (or grown chicken) has died of Sudden Chickie Death Syndrome (we made that up, don’t google it).

Each and every animal that comes through our farms is precious to us.  A live spirit.  A soul that came from the same universal energy source we did.  Their life is important.  Many an experienced farmer might just throw the chick away or put them in another box and walk away.  But we have brought many a chick back from the brink of death.  Ginger was practically decapitated when we found her, various chicks brought back by sitting on my lap watching television lived long lives.

So, do not give up hope on your weakened animals.  They may die, but you can hold them as their spirit is released.  We send love to each and every creature we have the honor of being around.  And this returns to us.

A Wedding to Remember

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Renewing our wedding vows and inviting friends and family to help us bless our new home was amazing.  There were just enough chairs, even though the air turned cold and windy, for the hour or so before and during the ceremony it was clear and a touch warm.  The sun shone down on us with approval as bagpipe music filled the air transporting this little blue collar town into Scotland.  People I expected didn’t make it and those I didn’t expect came with smiles on.  It was all quite perfect.  My husband looked fine in his kilt and sporran and his vows touched my heart, his eyes filling with tears.  I read him mine.  Maryjane was adamant about being the wedding planner.  She stayed in our bedroom as we dressed, ordering my friend, Pat, around as she fastened Doug’s belt, and zipped up my dress.  Maryjane declared herself both ring bearer and flower girl.

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Our friend, Cliff, a blacksmith, member of the Renaissance Scots, and a respected police officer, told the story of the anvil.  The blacksmith was usually educated and was the judge in many matters.  Young people went to the blacksmith to be married.  After our vows and exchanged rings he rang the anvil.  Then the kiss.  Not the giddy kiss of a new couple just getting married, but a sincere kiss of passion and friendship from years spent forging a life together.  We were grateful that Cliff performed the ceremony.

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At 8:00 in the morning our daughter, Emily, showed up with bags and serving dishes and prepared to cater the event.  My children are grown now and this is the first time that I did not have to do anything.  The house smelled so amazing and the aromas of chilies and spices wafted through the door welcoming guests.  Her tacos and salsa were amazing.  I have never had tofu tacos that tasted so wonderful.  At the end Kathleen and Ingrid donned a few of my vintage aprons and set to work cleaning up everything.  Our good friend, Alvin, takes amazing photographs and we were honored that he was there to take all of these.  Shyanne made a cake to remember.  My daughter has been baking our cakes for the past decade.  This one was my favorite.  Lemon cake with lavender frosting.

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Many of my favorite people were there (I missed my son) and it was a fun time for all.  My brother and his family, my great uncle and aunt Norris and Pat, family, children, great friends, all wishing us good will and helping bless the new life in front of us.

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‘Twas a lovely day and I will leave you readers with the blessing that completed our ceremony with a link to see a clip of our amazing bagpiper, Neil, at his finest.  May you all experience the love and support that we received on that special day.

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Emily Lynn at Twenty

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This little girl will forever be our little girl.  She is often mistaken as her sister’s twin, she adores her brother and sister, she is a loyal and generous friend, and an inspiring mother, and forever our baby.

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Today our quiet and enchanting youngest child turns twenty.  Hard to believe all of our children are in their twenties now!  (Seems truly that Doug and I were in our twenties but a minute ago.)  I am proud of how this amazing, feisty, fun child has become an amazing, feisty, fun, and elegant young woman.  We are so lucky that we were chosen to be her parents.  That we got to raise this smiley red head.  That she is our baby.  Our life has been so much better because of it.

I have learned so much from this young woman with her wit and strength, her independence and her grace, she is a fine example.  Today I wish my Emily Lynn peace in the chaos of life.  The ability to see past bills, and work, and people, and modern life and see the enchantment and joy of the every day.  To see that everything passes (rather quickly) and to take a moment to breathe in youth, and stars, and flowers, and hiking trails, and that she sees all of her dreams come true.

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Happy Birthday Baby Girl.  Dad and I love you soooo much!  I am proud to call you my daughter and friend.

Life with Squirrels

 

squirrelWe have never been known to have underfed animals, and that goes for wildlife too.  Where most folks purchase squirrel proof feeders and shoo them away, we set out welcome signs.  We have a long history with squirrels.

It started with me as a child and teenager at the park feeding them and talking with them.  I didn’t think it strange, I still believed everyone spoke to animals.  Our first home we had together in Parker had a lot of squirrels, one particular was named Pierre, and he had a large bowl that we kept on the table in the back yard filled with bird seed and squirrel food.  The birds could still get to it and we didn’t have to mess with feeders.  One time we heard him yelling so we looked out our window.  There he was with his empty bowl.  He caught sight of us, showed us the empty bowl, then threw it on the ground.  Yes, squirrels are not much better than toddlers, I am afraid.

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We moved to Elbert county, and to our surprise found that there were hardly any squirrels!  We had one that visited us on the porch in the mornings as we had our coffee when we lived in Elizabeth.  His name was Pedro.  When we moved to Kiowa, there were even less!  We were delighted when we noted the squirrel nest in the tree near the road.  Unfortunately one baby fell out of the nest.  I carried him in my shirt tending to him, trying to bring him back to health.  But, I fear he had too much internal damage.  As I gently held him on my lap swinging in the back yard he had a seizure, scared me so that I tossed him.  I felt so bad, I held him close to me again crying as he passed into the next world.

You may have noticed we are not particularly scared of rabies.  Rabies is one of those rampant fears that is actually quite rare in reality.  No one seems to be scared of dogs and cats or people.  They could all be carriers!

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A few months back Shyanne brought to the shop a squirrel that she had rescued from the street.  We didn’t think he would live the night.  His held was tilted to one side and he made slow circles when he tried to walk.  We thought it was spinal, but began to believe it was neurological.  Every day without fail, the squirrel allowed Shyanne to give him his medicine.  We make very good animal medicines, and he received his twice daily doses of Arthritis and Anti-Parasite.  He took to us rather well, particularly Shyanne.  She could be seen out on her smoke break in the back with a squirrel playing at her feet.  Every day he wandered further and further, she would just call him and he came prancing back to her, gaining strength each day.

Soon he was well and we knew it was time to release him as he looked at us as captors instead of friends.  Shyanne drove him to a nearby state park and released him.  She sat on a rock watching as he climbed a tree, came back to her, climbed a tree, fell out, climbed a tree, looked at her with thanks, and was gone.  Through tears she made her way back to her car.

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Healing animals is one of our favorite aspects of our work.  We are glad that we did not raise our children to fear animals.  We adore these creatures that share the earth with us and they have made our lives so much lovelier, even the wild ones.

On our new homestead here, there are two rather fat squirrels that have been working very hard, despite the black birds, to build a nest in a hole in the tree outside our kitchen window.  We leave them bits of toast and greet them.  Perhaps we will have some young ones scampering around the yard and house.  I better get a bigger bowl.