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.

The Good Life Map

Isn’t life interesting?  How it changes and ebbs and flows from one experience to another?  Always opening doors to dreams and lessons and then moving us through to the next bend.  It all can be breathtakingly beautiful in its innate simplicity and flow.

I went for a job interview yesterday.  I got it, but realized that I really do not want to go back to working the same old things I have done off and on since I was sixteen.  I gave my apothecary to my daughter, Shyanne.  Yes, I am tired of expensive printers, and labels, and sales taxes, and such but I gave it to her because I can think of no better gift to give her than a career and a set business.

“I don’t know what I can do.  I need to do something!” I mentioned to a friend over coffee about jobs.  “You can always teach,” was her reply.

I had said (oh, how many times have I said things and then changed my mind?!) that I didn’t want to teach anymore.  Why?  Because my classes are three months long!  It then occurred to me that I made that up, I can change it!  Ha!  We forget our own power of decision.  I will be teaching a six week Certified Herbalist Course.  I’ll start each week with tea, a bit of ceremony and camaraderie.  They will learn all the important things they need.  Ditch the text book.  Teach them real herbalism.  Make it less expensive so it can help more people.  And it helps me.

We often forget the power of decisions.  We can manifest anything we wish, but we are also at the mercy of fate.  So, make simple changes to make your life better, and breathe.  Your gifts are your map to your good life.

Finding Your Passion and Current Purpose-part 1

20180128_141816-EFFECTSHave you ever wondered what is next?  Where your path is leading?  What you will become next?  Some people work a career their entire life and then retire.  Some raise children and become entrepreneurs, like myself.  I have reinvented what I do so many times because I have so many interests but they all really dance around each other.  They are all interconnected.

I breathe in the cool morning air as the sunrise reaches rose pink across the winter sky and crows hover about.

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I lead an enchanted life of miraculous happenings, unusual animal and bird sightings, healings, and things happen to us that just do not make sense in the cookie cutter mind of our world.  This thrills me.  But there must be a reason why I see these things.  Experience these things.

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I have an influential voice.  That comes with responsibility to make sure that I am speaking and teaching what is compassionate and what is beautiful and what is real.  Before bed I ask my ancestors and friends to help me see answers to what is next.  The pictures in my dreams are always of me leading a group.  Or of me being a type of Martha Stewart with a compassionate twist.  I love creating; whether it be gardens or art or words or great food or inspiration or encouragement or a new life.

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The Universe has seemingly freed up some time for me.  I have time to do something.  I teach herbalism courses and shaman courses and I write and help with the shop and answer the apothecary phone and help people.  I’ll be on a radio show next week talking about my herbalism and plants in homesteading and promoting my book, Homesteader Pharmacy (click to see on Amazon).

There is more though.  I am on the cusp of something.  I am not just an herbalist.  Our goal is to pay off debt this year.  I want to work towards getting a farm and animal sanctuary in the future, but in the here and now….ideas swirl overhead like dust devils but don’t quite land.

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I fill my time just fine and come summer I will be really busy with gardens and wildcrafting and markets but there is just something below the surface that ties in everything that I do.  Something to give me purpose.  I have been working on a book for the past year.  I put it aside in order to write a novel.  I wrote said novel but I can’t say I am a great fiction writer.  I am a non-fiction writer.  This book keeps bobbing to the surface.  It just needs some dedication.  Writing a few hours a day has to make the to-do list.

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I know I am more than just an herbalist.  It used to consume twenty-four hours a day for me but my daughter has taken on most of the work.  Finding my other passions and moments of inspiration are what I need to ponder.  Something to tie them all together…

Now, where are you on your journey?

Embracing One’s True Gifts (and the bloodline medicine girl)

And in all the world enchantment remains as our true gifts flow through our veins.

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I suppose I really did think that everyone could do what I do.  I assumed that I could also do what others could do.  Surely I could learn to play the guitar well and walk around sounding like Joni Mitchell.  I played the piano for twenty years and cannot remember a single tune.  No Carol King career for me.  I love my art work until I am next to other artists.  Then mine looks a little fifth grade.  I can do a lot of things if I work terribly hard and then I will grow bored of them and wander off, for they are not my true gift.

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Plants are my passion.  I live, breathe, dream, create, and work around plants, specifically in medicine.  I have a green thumb after never giving up and I can grow anything in a pot or in the soil of the prairie.  But my real magic is in making plants into medicine.  This is very humbling, very honoring, and I am a little awestruck at the magic of it all.

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Over the years I have seen people working so hard, trying to learn herbalism, and it doesn’t quite work out, and then they wander off to pursue their true gifts.

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It changes everything when you know that you have a true gift for something.  A responsibility even.  The idea of multiple stores or hiring employees goes out the window if I am the vessel that makes the medicine work.  I would never sell it wholesale.  The importance of working one on one with people is so important to the craft.  I so respect the plants and their medicine, as well as the people and animals I care for.  Out of all the gifts I could have been given, I am deeply honored and slightly insanely passionate about being a plant healer.

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There are lots of gifts flowing through both sides of my family line, the blood line of varying types of healers, and they can all garden like it is second nature.  I am the first plant healer in awhile.

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In every culture there was a medicine person.  Many households knew minor remedies but there was one person who knew the plants and their medicines intimately, who could handle the bigger issues.  Not everyone could do it.  The odds of having it in one’s bloodline and as their gift was really quite rare.  Just as all gifts are.

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Shyanne Mae has really grown up since this blog first started.  She has become an amazing young woman.  She read my entire text book, did all of the assignments, passed the test, made an effective medicine for her father, and learned to work the shop in twenty-four hours.  She said she had an epiphany.  She was in love with the plants too.  Granted she grew up with this lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean she would fall into the enchantment of its gifts and lessons.  You can imagine my excitement that my daughter is working with me side by side to develop medicines for our community and beyond.

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So, I may not ever become a Rockette, or a folk musician, or even a proper artist, but I am embracing my gift and all the emotions that go with it, and am so happy to share the gift with my child.

What is your true gift?

How to Become a Homesteader-Part 5-Community

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In this “How to Become a Homesteader” series we have talked about leaving the rat race for greener pastures, eliminating a lot of unnecessary bills and cutting others.  We have lowered our need for so much income and found a good trade or homestead job that we can bring in what little we do need.  We have discussed farm animals and heating with wood and with telling time on a cuckoo clock.  We have figured what skills we ought to pick up and we are ready to roll.  But there is one very important aspect to becoming a homesteader.  Community.  It seems that would be opposite to what we are trying to achieve.  We want to be self reliant, grow our own food, take care of ourselves, and have less fear.  But, what we are really doing is becoming less reliant on big corporations and more reliant on ourselves and each other.  That is how we were made.

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When you become a homesteader you will naturally attract and meet other homesteaders.  Each has something to offer. It is one big circle out here.  A gentleman took my herbalist classes who has a tree service who got us our first cords of wood and will provide me with wood chips.  He is teaching me more and more about wild plants.  I make herbal medicines and Doug fixes computers but we need some help learning how to build things and with cars.  We have found more and more people that need what we have and can offer what we need.

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Even our friends who aren’t homesteaders, per se, have like minded ideas.  Rodney used to have a large garden before arthritis made it difficult.  Rodney Sr. can fix many things and is very creative.  Kat would love to have chickens and a small homestead.  Sandy and Bill have lots of chickens and a mad goose near their gardens.  Monte and Erik have food, water, and other necessities in case of emergency.

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Monte and Erik, our dear, dear long time friends, are moving across the country next month.  This is a couple that has a framed painting from Emily that she drew when she was six on the wall among their fine art.  The kids used to call them Uncle Monte and Uncle Erik.  We have traveled with them and they were among the first at the hospital when Maryjane was born.  Eating and drinking and watching the Superbowl at their house with all the kids was bittersweet this year.

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In a fit of silliness at the end we planned our ideal homestead and what we can all do. Bret is a hunter and is going to school for mechanics, Dillon (Shyanne’s long time boyfriend) works in construction and can help us build things on this imaginary homestead.  Shyanne is an amazing baker.  I volunteered to grow the gardens and make the medicine.  “I’ll be the bartender!” Erik says and across the room Andy says, “I’ll grow the weed!”  and everyone cheered.

Despite the fact that some of us don’t smoke weed (our son is an executive at a dispensary), and Monte and Erik are moving to Washington DC, and our kids probably don’t want to live that close to us, we enjoyed imagining the possibility.  There is comfort in being near close friends and family and a need to be near others.  The old saying still rings true, “Many hands make light work.”  And since each of us has our own gifts and talents, we can come together to provide a completely self reliant community.