Six Years of Farmgirl School (and the adventure continues)

1005625_697090816973051_350125397_nSix years ago today I sat down and wrote my first blog post.  I had just recently heard of blogging.  I was writing regular columns in a few local newspapers but I was excited to take my words onto a bigger scene.  Even if I didn’t get any followers, I would enjoy typing away in the morning while watching out my window, holding a cup of coffee and watching the chickens play.  We were still fairly novice at everything from chickens to growing lettuce so the blog has chronicled our vast and adventurous journey and the life of a family, and inadvertently has become a comprehensive site to find out how to do everything from making witch hazel to milking goats.  My “How to Make Chokecherry Wine” has had thousands of views over the years.  Tomorrow, we will bottle homemade mead.

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This photo was used in an article in the Washington Post about our family.

I remember seeing a blog that had five hundred followers.  I could not believe it.  500!  I wondered what that would be like.  This morning I have one thousand, one hundred, and two followers.  Over 142,000 people have read my blog since I began this journaling journey six years ago in a rented farmhouse with nary an idea of how much to water crops.  We’ve come a long way!

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Maryjane
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Ayla

Six years ago I was preparing for my first granddaughter to arrive.  Today my second granddaughter is twelve days old.  Many people watched as we moved to what we thought was our forever farm, only to become homeless.  You cheered us on as we got back on our feet and purchased a home of our own with a third of an acre and a chicken coop.  You have watched me make friends, mourned over deaths with me, read as we created new businesses, patted us on the back as they closed, shared holidays with us. laughed with me, and befriended me.

Turns out that folks don’t keep blogs going for very long, maybe just a few years.  I love blogging.  Anyone who enjoys writing ought to start a blog.  It is easy and so restorative.  I just want to thank all the readers out there right now for giving me an ear, a place to be, for following along on this Farmgirl adventure.  It is far more fun to write for an audience.

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I read through the November posts from 2012.  The first ones.  Man, that’s some funny stuff.  Typos and all.  (Amazing how much one can edit and still overlook typos!)  Thanks for purchasing my books. (AuthorKatieSanders.com) I have seven, but Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101, which covered our first few years and my memoir, The Making of a Medicine Woman are near and dear.  I will have a second Farmgirl School book out by the end of next year.  We have much to discuss about urban farming and lots of projects to do!  (Let us turn the back porch into a greenhouse.  Should we get ducks?  Let’s make a walk-through arbor with pumpkins and twinkly lights!)  Oh friends, six years later, we are just getting started.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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Sleepover with a newborn goat at Grammie’s house.

If you have been a follower since the beginning please make a comment.  Here’s to another six years of living the good life.

A Sneak Peak for Blog Readers

We have been busy putting the final touches on my new book and scheduling events and book signings.

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I am both nervous and excited.  To expose the shadow side of things -of people- is to rile up defenses.  To illuminate the things that one has experienced that may seem different to society is to set one’s spirit out in the light.  To write one’s memoir is to be brave.

“So why write it?” I have been asked.  Because I am a writer.  I have no choice but to write.  I get up, I breathe, I write.  In that order.

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This book may expose the shadows (which I had to fight very hard to release my self-imposed secrecy of) but its main job is to illuminate the path for others.

“Why is this book important?” I ask myself, as if I am already being interviewed by Oprah.

Because silence is suffocating and we have stopped talking.  Our children no longer look to the skies and recognize eagles.  Our young people have no idea why they carry around feelings of knowing and intuition.  They suffer from anxiety and low self esteem.  The healers of old stayed quiet out of fear.  To stay quiet is to let hundreds- if not thousands- of highly sensitives, intuitives, medicine people continue to try to be normal.  To take anti-depressants (which lead to suicide in Intuitives).  To possibly never take their place among the people as the seers, light workers, healers, and powerful workers is to allow the darkness to remain as a fog over the world that desperately needs every generation of medicine people to rise. 

My book is now available on Amazon.  I am offering the opportunity to my amazing blog readers to be the first to own this book.  It is on Kindle and in paperback.

I am honored to have been chosen to experience it and to write it.  Wado!

How to Accept the Challenge of Living Fully and Embrace Destiny

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

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

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

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

What are you afraid of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Be Brave Before the People

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There is a reason that it has taken me so long to write this book.

Coqui Ashui,” my friend and Comanche elder would say.  “Be brave before the people.”  To write one’s life story is indeed brave.  To divulge every secret means that relationships may be altered.  Unrepairable.  A good book will leave the reader filled with emotion.  By challenging beliefs and opening up my spirit to the world, I risk leaving myself open to criticism and backlash.

Yet, the resounding voice in my head pushed me forward.  I must write these words.  There are folks out there like me that may find comfort from knowing that there is an entire tribe of us that span the world but we were all taught to be quiet.  Quiet about neglect, about abuse, about abilities and gifts, and enchanted happenings and brilliant triumph and peace.  And we all need the lessons of medicine people from different walks of life.

I originally wrote a book that was a point by point way of embracing the beauty of the world and living to one’s fullest.  However, it came out like a text book.  I wrote my story as if it were a novel.  That way I didn’t have to be afraid.  It came out shallow and devoid of life.  I am nervous, but it is written now.  The whole story.  The whole beautiful, amazing story.  It was healing and inspiring to write.  I loved reliving my lessons with the Native American medicine people, and seeing just how enchanted our life is.  The birds that flock around us and the eagles that circle our house.  The owls.  The people we have met.  The lessons I have learned.  The path to now.  It is all lovely and part of a bigger plan.  I am humbled and honored.

The witches, the wise ones, the medicine people, the psychics, the lovers of the enchanted world, the ones trying to be normal, those that are too sensitive, the beautiful healers and wisdom keepers…they will be not be silent any longer.

Coqui Ashui

May 1st.

The Dance of Medicine and Wisdom Keepers…writing my life story

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I finished my book.

Two years ago, exactly, I was sitting in my friends’ living room in San Diego.  I loved visiting Lisa and Steve.  Over glasses of wine we discussed future, the spirit world, wisdom, and a book I should write.

“You should write it on the beach!” Lisa suggested.  How lovely that would be.

“I could be on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday!” I exclaimed.

The book came to me in pieces but then our financial stress made me put it away.  It came back in a novel form and I didn’t like it so I put it away.

In many books that I have read, spirits help put ideas into one’s head.  As soon as Lisa died, my book came to me in a torrent of rapid fire typing.  It was finished in two and a half weeks.  It is being edited now.

Living my own life again through writing about it was quite the emotional rollercoaster.  I was faced with being honest about people in my life.  Seeing the truth of matters.  Of reliving abusive situations, of struggle, of triumph, and love.  The lessons that I have learned along the way from my mentors and my friends and the earth have been staggering, and beautiful, and have led me to this place where I am now.  As a healer.

After I finished, I opened a cupboard and a memorial bracelet for my friend, Nancy fell out.  I haven’t seen it in a long time.  I can feel Kat’s presence.  I know that my friends beyond the veil helped me write this book and I hope it will help others, or at the very least, entertain.

This is the book I have been waiting to write.  I already have a book signing scheduled.  I hope to have many more. I am grateful.

The Making of a Medicine Woman coming soon….(still working on a subtitle!)  May 1st.

The Medicine Woman Memoirs

wild 23“I had the best day today,” I told my husband when he called me on his way home from work yesterday.

“Oh yea, what did you do?”

“I went to see Maryjane’s dance class and then had lunch with our girls.  And I wrote most of the day.”

I am writing my memoir.  I am my own worst critic.  Aren’t you a little young to be writing your memoirs?  What makes you so special that you should write a book about your life?  They might be voices from my past that just keep following me around.

I am writing my memoir.  I realize that most people have not experienced many of the things I have like working and learning from Native American elders and seeing miracles and healings and dozens of eagles circling my house.  Most people don’t look at others and see tumors and broken hearts and see where the break in the bone is.  I am a medical intuitive and am very psychic.

On the other hand, there are a fair amount of people like me that feel alone or do not understand their situations.  There are folks who were not nurtured as children, or who are stuck in abusive relationships, or who are highly sensitive to everything and those that are clairvoyant, and those young people that are desperately trying to be “normal” and society has labeled them mentally ill or ADD.  There are people that need to know they are important and special and need to know how to embrace, understand, and move forward with their great gifts.

There are a million reasons why I need to write my memoir.  And I am.  It is flowing out of my fingertips faster than I can write and I am fascinated by what is coming out.  I feel like a bystander transcribing a medicine woman’s journals.  We are going to talk about that?  Oh yea, I remember when that happened.  Oh, those were good times.  Yes, talk about that, that was scary…amazing…beautiful…devastating…real.

I want to blog about planting potatoes and spring crops and spring herbal remedies and changes but I cannot.  I am writing my memoir and it is fascinating and the Universe is quite insistent that it get done.  I cannot wait to share it with you.  Right now I need another cup of coffee and I will begin my new day’s work, writing.

Mims at Nineteen

I believe that many folks follow this blog, not just for the farming how-to, but because it has become a saga, a non-fiction novel of sorts!  Our family memoirs.  Y’all watched as the kids went through teen years and became adults.  You were there when our granddaughter was born.  When we were at the top of our game and when we were box and under bridge shopping.  You have been there through it all.  So, I have to share my daughter’s birthday too.  Emily (the marvelous miss mims) is nineteen.  How did my youngest child, with the strawberry blonde ponytail and green eyes and mischievous, delightful personality become nineteen?  She is an amazing mother, a devoted daughter, and anyone that knows this young woman is lucky indeed.  So, happy birthday to my beautiful baby girl.  May this year bring you every happiness and enchantment.

Excerpts From My Honeymoon Memoirs (and never ending adventures)

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2003…It’s seventy degrees, slight breeze.  I look out and see nothing but navy blue with white foam spreading sporadically.  Glorious!  I did not, for the first time in my life, wake up last night. The rocking of the boat knocked me into restful bliss!  The sky, right now, is cloudy with patches of blue, the air is sweet, and salty, and clean…

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We went to a beautiful theater, large with lush red sofas and small tables set in front with art work of Renoir pasted upon them.  Large windmills two stories high perched on the sides of the stage, millions of lights.  A big band played and we danced up a storm in front of a partially filled theater on stage.  I have married my soul mate!…

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Jamaica…exuberant, vibrant floral trees, one hundred foot high bamboo, everything tropical and lush.  The mountain was scattered with mansions and cinderblock homes in no particular order.  Children bathing in the stream.  The sound of birdsong, the smell of rain and earth, hot sun, tropical flowers, dark skinned beauties (with no dental care), and another world…Doug was offered drugs four times…

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We are quite famous on this ship.  We are stopped several times a day and complimented on our dancing and singing.  We are sweetly referred to as the Honeymooners though it wasn’t really announced that we are.  We were told we have stars in our eyes…

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Cayman is the opposite of Jamaica, sparkling clean, English influence, professional souvenir shops, more expensive, but still breathtakingly beautiful…a lot of tame stingrays swept briskly and familiarly along our sides and legs.  We fed them squid, and with a strong suction, they slurped it out of our fist.  They are incredibly soft, four feet across, magnificent animals…

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We went to the top of the ship, to the top deck, under the stars looking out across the water, and danced to Doug singing “When I’m Sixty-Four” without another soul around…

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We rode horseback in Cozumel in the sweltering heat through Mayan ruins which were rather fascinating.  My horse had a mind of her own and didn’t like Doug’s horse.  The foliage was very much like ours.  The difference was the hundreds of iguanas freely crossing the streets, trails, running about as frequently as squirrels!…

Overall, the places we have visited are beautiful and colorful, different and exciting.  But nothing beats Colorado’s charming mountain towns, swimming in the hot springs, and the houses down sixth avenue are still the prettiest I have seen.

I am sitting on the veranda once more waiting for Doug to take me on more adventures…

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My, what adventures we’ve had!  I look forward to many, many more….

We were to go on a trip to the mountains this weekend for our anniversary but it looks like we will be snowed in.  As long as I am with him, I will be happy. 

The Spookable Home

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I love decorating, I love holidays.  I do not have a vacation home, or a weekend home, I barely get the rent paid on this beauty.  Our home is our retreat and I want it to be fun and whimsical!

My bear holds a candle to greet folks coming by in the evening.
My bear holds a candle to greet folks coming by in the evening.

My decorating style momentarily would have to be deemed Vintage Farmhouse Adobe.  My Halloween decorating style would have to called Charming Spook.

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We have always loved Halloween around here.  Not the scary, gory, stay up all night watching horror movies kind, but the Charlie Brown pumpkin patch, Martha Stewart deco, stay up all night watching Winnie the Pooh Halloween kind of spooky.

A line of small pumpkins and a cauldron greet visitors.
A line of small pumpkins and a cauldron greet visitors.

When the kids were little we plastered the walls with cardboard cutouts and fake spider webs.  Boxes of costumes stood at the ready to be worn any day during October.  The kids would come home from school one day to the house filled with scary music (Mickey Mouse Halloween tape) and I would be at the stove stirring a pot of Witch’s Brew with my witch hat on.  A large cardboard cutout of a witch hung above the dining room table on her broom and we called her grandma.  Every square inch of house decorated with something charmingly scary.

Last year's scarecrow with Bret (Emily's boyfriend), Emily (in blue), Shyanne, and Andrew.
Last year’s scarecrow with Bret (Emily’s boyfriend), Emily (in blue), Shyanne, and Andrew.

We go to a historic park that puts on a pumpkin patch and festival every year.  And I mean, every year.  We are taking Maryjane for the first time this year.  Sadly, Andrew will be in Tennessee for the weekend with his friend and will miss our yearly outing.  Last year, the house was oddly empty.  The kids were here, but not here.  Too old to play witches, the recipe for my witch’s brew already known (apple cider heated with pumpkin pie spice), and trick or treating with mom and dad out of the question, we had a sad holiday.  We didn’t decorate much.  The kids never came home to carve pumpkins.  We left a large bowl of candy on the stoop and went to Red Lobster.  It was depressing.

Maryjane in her new costume.
Maryjane in her new costume.

This year, the kids are still not here but I want the house to emanate Halloween as Doug and I love it too.  And when the kids do come by, particularly Maryjane, there will be whimsical fun for all.  I started by planting a very large pumpkin patch spanning the entire front yard.  It is now full of orange orbs and dying leaves.  Very spooky.  A simple sign stating it to be haunted is all it takes to make it fit the holiday.  I left the corn stalks up because they just scream spooky evening with their tall shadows in the dark.

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We don’t have the walls plastered with cardboard or window clings.  We may not have five carved pumpkins.  But, I did want to have an air of spooky fun throughout the house.  This can be easily done with just a few touches.

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I like to decorate with a mix of vintage touches, natural elements, and lights.  I abhor overhead lighting.  My every day oil lamps and candles play the part of old Halloween house just fine.  A few pieces we have picked up over the years like miniature cauldrons, metal signs, and dark candelabras help bring the spirit of the season in without it looking cluttered or cheesy.

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A leaf covered table cloth and a generous scattering of pumpkins help make the place feel like Autumn.

My favorite decorations are my two black cats, Clara and Booboo.
My favorite decorations are my two black cats, Clara and Booboo.

Getting those blankets out and throwing them haphazardly over seating, a black cat, and a pile of books invites people to curl up and relax.

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Indian corn on the table, orange twinkly lights, and pumpkin pie spice coffee.  Happy Spooking!