Act Two: Chapter 17- My Life

There are many blogs out there that stay on point.  They do not veer into private matters or personal life.  This, my dear friends, is not one of them!  Geez, I even freely give out my address so folks will send me a Christmas card.  Now, I try to stay on subject, I really do; decorating, recipes, gardening, chickens, gatherings, et cetera.  But, this blog also acts a bit as my journal and sound board.  This is my network of international friends and loved ones.  I respect your notes, your thoughts, your own writings and lives.  I credit the success of this blog to the realism that comes from it.  You know me as well as anybody, even if we have never met.  This blog is about the real life of our family.  So, come on in and sit and spell and let me know your thoughts.

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Ah,  it was a beautiful day yesterday as Doug and I traversed three or so miles of rugged landscape through sweet smelling spruces and pine.  Across ledges looking out into the vast expanse of valleys and the city nestled below.  Crows veered ahead and the scent and feel of autumn was present on the warm day.  Last time I was there it was so dry you could hear the oak crying for the contents of our water bottles.  Since monsoon season, things have perked up and new growth was eminent and joyful.  And that, my friends, is where we are in our life at the moment.

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“You always panic when things are going really good,” my straight-forward cousin, Julie noted.  The beautiful ebb and flow of life freaks me out.

It didn’t used to.  Why, I used to taut go out on a limb, fly baby, fly!  Now, that we have lost everything a few times over and are settling into a rhythm, I tend to panic when not in survival mode.  Decisions become much bigger than they should be.  I plead to the universe for a clear and precise answer, preferably with details of the future, so that I can make a good decision that won’t land us destitute.

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The answer floats back from beyond…”what do YOU want?”  Do that, Sister.

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My incredibly hard working, intelligent husband got a huge promotion/job offer at work this week.  HUGE.

Our next act begins.  The next chapter.  Now, I have the amazing opportunity to be a homemaker.  I excel at this work.  We save a lot of money when I am home taking care of everything.  I am happy here.  Content.  Except that I desperately want to go back to school.  And I am all set to do so in January.  English and Anthropology to finish a degree from a long time ago.  I want to teach college…maybe high school.  I have always wanted to teach school.  Okay, so go back to school then, yes?

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To the tune of forty plus grand, y’all.  Now, last time I had a full scholarship.  I am a diligent and good student and can very possibly again get scholarships.  Will I like teaching?  What if I spend that much money and then don’t like it?  What if’s sound through the air like mischief in the making.

…what do YOU want?….

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I will be fifty when I get a job as a teacher.

I tell this story often, but when I was working as a caregiver a long time ago I took care of a lovely older woman who told me while I was trying to figure out if I should go to school or not (because I would be the ripe old age of 38 coming out), that time flies and I will be that age soon enough so why not be doing what I want to then?  Well, here we are again, just a different age when I get done.  I hate to add so much debt to us.  I hate the unknown.  (will I even be able to get a job?!)

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Our monsoon season has come and new growth is all around us.  I have the great gift of a being a woman in a free country, with a beautiful family, and a husband who wants me to be happy and follow what my heart says.  Of course, shutting off the chatter is half the battle.  Can’t hear a damn thing.

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…what do you want to do?…Let’s do that.

 

The Greatest Quotes

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When you think back on your life of quotes, those given to you, those read, which ones stand out to you?  Which ones offer direction for how you live?  Or simply whisper wisdom?  When I think on this question two quotes come to mind as the ones that ring loudest and most often.

I was caring for an elderly lady some years ago and told her that I wanted to be a veterinarian.  I later changed my mind and started an herbal line of medicines for animals instead but her advice is still relevant today.  I said something about being thirty-eight years old by the time I finished.

“You will be that age before you know it so you may as well be doing what you want.” she advised.

I started school but did not finish due to family responsibilities, costs, and life went on.  But now I would like to finish my teaching degree.  I would love to work with “spirited” kids.  Older teens to early twenties.  College maybe, high school likely.  Maybe a director of somewhere that encourages youth.  Or history.  Or culture.  By the time I get my master’s degree I will be forty-six years old at the very least.  Then Marsha’s words ring in my mind and I may as well see.  Why not?  I’ll be there soon enough.

Fast forward and I am sitting in the living room of a respected Native elder who has entrusted me with the words he wishes to share with his children.  I listen.  I want to be a bigger part of the Native community.  I want folks to know I make powerful medicine.  I want to have a sense of belonging.  What if I am not accepted?  I didn’t know if I needed invitations to places.  I didn’t know how to get involved.

“Just show up.” he said soundly.  “Just show up.”

So Doug and I took Maryjane to a Cherokee Circle meeting in Denver even though it was over an hour drive.  My best friend from middle and high school came with her family.  Her granddaughter is the very same age as Maryjane.  We showed up and were welcomed.  If we don’t embrace our culture it will be gone.  We have missed too many generations of traditions and community.  If not us, the grandmothers, then who?  So we showed up.  And it was wonderful.

What quotes have stayed with you?

Becoming an Herbalist

Congratulations Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine class of 2015!  Thirteen more herbalists have entered the world to help people.

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What happens when a woman gets the nerve to learn something new outside of her already hectic roles of motherhood, job force, home maker, and/or business owner, and spends three months in class?  You get a lot of crying and laughing and learning from each other, the teacher being no exception.  Should this be my last in-person class then I went out on a high note.  This was such a spectacular meeting of thirteen plus me and I count myself blessed to have learned so much from this group of eclectic ladies.

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I make no illusion to the fact that we have no idea where we will be anytime soon.  But what I do have to offer still is my correspondence course.  A compilation of chapters covering each body system, the herbs that are specific to that area, ten ways to turn them into medicine, aromatherapy, animal medicine, wild crafting, starting a business, and my time via phone or email to help the student succeed from anywhere in the world.  The student would have a full year to complete the course.  I have a gift to those of you that have wanted to take my Certified Herbalist Course through my school the Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine, class registration is from now until the end of July and the course has gone from $250 to now $100 and includes a free copy of my book “The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; the recipes of Garden Fairy Apothecary”.  Call or text 303-617-3370 to sign up.

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Keep learning, Folks!

Ending an Era to Make Dreams Come True (full time farmer and The Homesteading School at Pumpkin Hollow Farm)

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I write a lot about following dreams, taking chances, and working to bring goals to fruition.  It never fails to amaze me how when you start walking toward your dream, the doors naturally open and some close.  The universe conspires to bring everything into alignment, or “Everything works together for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28.  I am sure there are passages and sayings such as these in every culture and in many circles.  It is a fact that if you so desire something and start putting it out there that you want that goal, you will achieve it.  Passions are put in our hearts for a reason and I view them as a guide map of where my journey ought to go.

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Five years ago when Doug left his city job with the comfy pay and benefits and I closed my dance company so that we could go peddle Echinacea at markets with three children at home, it was scary.  How many bottles of medicine would we have to sell to survive?  But we took that leap of faith.  A shop came available.  The money appeared.  The customers came.  The shop closed.  The customers doubled.  For six total years we have had the great pleasure of meeting and helping literally thousands of people.  We have learned and dreamed and succeeded.  And now the few we have whispered to our crazy idea wonder why we would close a perfectly good business that brings in a good amount of income.

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I teach.  It’s what I do.  I stayed in at recess in second grade to teach younger kids how to read.  I taught modeling while I was a model.  I taught acting classes.  I taught dance classes.  I teach herbal classes.  I teach homesteading classes.  I want to teach and farm full time.  Well, with this lifestyle when I say full time I mean enough to get the bills paid and then spend some time in a hammock or writing!

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I have a strong passion for teaching people how to empower themselves with plant medicines.  To not be fearful of diseases in the news.  To not be afraid of broken wrists or high fevers.  Knowledge that was lost must be found and redistributed!  I want to teach all about herbalism.  If there is an underlying worry that the student will become my competition then I cannot be a proper teacher.  If I have to keep all of my tried and true recipes top secret then what good am I doing?  By closing my Apothecary I will be a far more effective teacher.  I also lowered the price of my classes.  I combined the additional Master’s class into the Certified Class for the price of the latter.  A much more comprehensive course at a reasonable price.  Our school is superior to many of the others.  I know this because I have had interns from other schools who knew nothing about practical uses of herbalism.  But I lowered my price to make it more accessible.

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I have a strong passion for homesteading.  I love the freedom of it.  I love having the option to go watch the sunset, then come in and make supper, after I play with the goats, and plant a few more kale seeds.  I love that we can live on a small enough number that it is somewhat easy to get the bills paid and still have plenty of time to be together and play and enjoy our farm.  I love teaching homesteading classes.  Because the second you teach someone how to can, you open up a whole new world of affordable, healthy eating.  If someone can make their own soap, they eliminate the need to purchase expensive soaps and do not need to worry about skin conditions and irritation.  Teach someone how to farm, and they don’t need to depend on the grocery store so much.  Teach someone how to do any of the skills I offer classes for and they save money and are more easily able to attain their goals.

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I have a strong passion for farming.  The soil on my fingers, caterpillars slinking by, birds singing, bees on the flowers near, providing food for myself and others.  I love the animals.  I love this life.

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In the summer I am often too busy to really enjoy any of it.  We do farmer’s markets all week, we make a year’s worth of medicines, we answer phone calls and emails, we fill product, we ship, we wild craft and harvest enough for the year, we preserve all of our own food.  Now we will be getting most of our own wood.  We have a larger space to farm.  We have more animals.  When do I have time to really pursue farming and teaching when I am so busy with the Apothecary and basic homesteading?

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Something had to go and it wasn’t the chickens!  So, June 1st I am closing my Apothecary.  I’ll still be around to help people in a pinch.  I can still work on a sprained ankle or have some salve on hand.  But the retail side will be gone.  I am going to really promote my classes, which will be the make or break of this crazy idea, and I will farm with all my heart and spirit and physical ability.  Doug by my side.

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And when you put something out there, listen.  As the wheels of the goal start turning and coming into being you will be able to feel if you are on the right path by how much resistance comes your way.  Yesterday, a gal that runs a market in Elizabeth asked me to come each week and teach a small class or demonstration and promote my school.  For free.  I had the best talk with my intern from last year who resides in New York.  He’s coming out for two months this summer to help us get this thing in full swing.  I’m on fire, folks!  I am so excited.

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One always thinks of the worst case scenarios which hardly ever come up.  What if we need to make more money? (get a part time job or sell something else)  What if a storm wipes out the gardens?  After any storm in life we get up and start over knowing that only good can come out of difficulty.  But life is short and dreams are big, so we may as well start following them now.  I have no doubt that come summer this blog will be reflecting that dream come true.

Now, it’s your turn, dear reader.  Write out that dream or goal, no matter how big or small.  Details, people!  Get it all out.  Now, are you really ready for it to come true?  You wouldn’t want to block your own goal!  Now, place it in the responses so that the wheel can start turning.  It’s going to be an exciting year!

The Life of a Healer- Part 7 (grandmothers and owls)

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As most readers figured out early on, Wildflower was the name my mother gave me as my Indian name when I was born.  I felt compelled to explain to folks what I do, as owning an Apothecary could mean anything from growing pot (we don’t) to being as screwy as the shop I ran into in Old Colorado City (virtual tinctures where the herbs never touch the liquid…uh, okay….), and healer…what does that mean?  But I found I could not tell how I became a healer or what I do without telling how we got here.  The miracles couldn’t be expressed without the rest of the story.  The last six chapters of this autobiography have rarely been uttered.  Why?  Fears of judgment, fears of folks thinking I was nuts, people thinking badly of me?  This is also the first time that I could relive the nightmare that was without having reoccurring dreams or tears.  I felt like I was writing about a past life or someone else’s life and it was quite a healing process.  I just had to write in third person.  It made it easier to get the memories out.  I do hope that it might reach someone out there who needs it.  Perhaps it will save a life, or encourage a young intuitive person, or bring faith and hope to those who need it.  Now, on with the rest of the story.

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Teachers come in and out of our lives seamlessly sharing their knowledge then moving on.  The first medicine person came up to my booth at the farmer’s market quite some years ago.  She had long grey hair and lived in her car traveling wherever the winds took her.  She was kooky enough to have a long conversation with my dog the first time she met him, yet psychic enough to know my family history before I did.  And she was there to teach me.  My son is more psychic than I am and things would happen, like Doug’s grandfather appearing to him after he died, or things would talk with him.  We could tell that there was lots of activity going on in our home in Parker and she came to help get it all out and quieted as it was really bothering my son.  She showed me how to smudge with sage and what to say to put a shield around the house.  She was the first person to tell me about the grandmother that looks over me and that she could see right next to me.  I was skeptical but was trying to be a good listener.  She told me the spirit grandmother was an American Indian.  Now, there had long been rumors of a bit of Indian blood in us and every part of my family has the one or two kids in the group that are darker than the rest.  Including two out of three of mine.  But, we had no proof, no names, and no idea what side of the family it was on.  The grandmother’s name was Mary and she stayed very close to me at all times, she said.

I am using the term Medicine person because in our culture that is what we would see them as.  But medicine women and men are essentially herbalists.  But there are many who are readers, shamans, and spiritual leaders and for the sake of this post, we’ll call them medicine people.  For they were medicine to me.

The Indian woman needed medicine for her dog and after giving her some cash and some medicines she was off to find another place.

A trip down genealogy lane and a little pressure on my grandfather revealed that his father who had committed suicide during the depression was Cherokee.  Then he stopped talking and said that it wasn’t enough to worry about.  His father’s mother’s name was Mary.

Did you know that being Native American was illegal until just a few decades ago?  You could go to jail, you have your land taken from you, your mother would have written on your birth certificate that you were white, and folks didn’t talk about family members.  This saddens me.  I am proud that I have this heritage.

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I also found a picture of my great grandma on the other side of the family who was Yeopim and who was forced into becoming a Quaker.  So both sides had this culture, and of course the Celtic side has a lot of herbalists in it too, so combined into me, it would explain a lot about why I could see ailments and lay hands on someone and feel where the initial injury was and then know how to repair it.  It gave me quite a lot of comfort.  I could use my abilities for more than knowing when the phone would ring.

The next medicine person had been one of my students.  I had a dream that she was my next teacher.  She looks white as most of us are all mixed up now genetically and I had no idea that she was a shaman or the things she had gone through to get to that point.  I didn’t know what she was to teach me either.  She taught me how to shield myself.  I really wanted to learn more cool stuff regarding healing but she was there to teach me how to create shields.  Many healers take a physical turn for the worst later in life after absorbing so much around them.  Healers, including myself, pick up emotions and physical feelings from everyone around them.  After years of this, the body can succumb.  It could very well be the reason my grandmother has had chronic pain for twenty years.  Protecting myself was my next lesson.  She showed me how to walk a medicine wheel praying in each direction and being humble to the Creator.  How to layer on shields around my physical self and how to turn off sound.  I can make someone’s voice muffled if I don’t want to hear everything they are saying.  I love listening to people.  I like comforting folks.  I am happy that people feel they can come to me and talk to me about anything, even if they hardly know me.  That is one of my gifts.  People feel compelled to tell me things and that is healing to them.  But it is the ones who complain non-stop that I have to shield myself from or I end up anxious and sometimes depressed.   It was a great gift to learn how to shield.

The next medicine person is still in my life and is a reader, a Catholic priest, and a hospice chaplain.  He is Hopi.  A calm spirit surrounds him.  He helped me when my friend died so suddenly.  He helped me understand the hypersensitivity that surrounds being a healer.  I cannot be under fluorescent lights very long.  I do not use overhead lighting at all.  Only oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights.  I love soft music but can’t be around loud noises, and the television drives me crazy.  I simply cannot handle the lights and sounds from it.  Large groups of people overwhelm me.

Many years ago he had done a reading for me that showed how our family was doing.  (Tarot cards are not necessarily of the devil, folks.  If used properly they are simply a tool in helping us see clearly.)  Andrew would very likely become a spiritual leader later on.  Shyanne was often pulled one way or another because of her peace keeping abilities and needed to make sure she didn’t end up in relationships that took advantage of her.  Emily was seen as a strong storm.  Strong willed and well balanced.  Doug and I would continue to grow stronger together and our business would prosper.  He also said that I had a direct connection to the Creator.  Everyone does, but that this was a bit different.  I was going to be used to help the Creator and would increase my healing abilities.  The most recent reading was astounding and powerful.  And exciting things are to come as I let go and let things occur and trust myself and my surroundings.

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The other current teacher probably doesn’t even know he is a teacher to me right now.  He also mentioned the grandmother at my side that is always making sure no one hurts me spiritually and helps me with the herbs.  He is perhaps the sixth person who has seen her without prompting.  He further described her and told me about her history matching where she lived to the ancestry I had been researching.  She was a healer but since it was illegal to practice Indian religions, and herbalism was often seen as part of that, so was therefore illegal, she kept it a secret.  A line of medicine women, a long family history of herbalism was passed down from person to person but all in secret.  Until one day someone was brought to the grandmother who needed desperate help and she healed him.  He told me how she dresses and it is the same as how I dress (long skirts, aprons, a bit old fashioned I suppose) and what she looked like.  It was how I saw her too.

This teacher is a religious leader, a representative for Indian affairs in the schools, and a Shaman, clearing spirits and negative entities from places and people.  He holds knowledge and language that is being lost and our Thanksgiving prayer this year was all the sweeter with his prayer in his Indian language.  At the Talking Circle he runs on Sundays I was given a gift not many people experience.  A ceremony.  A traditional ceremony to restore the spirit and strength of a healer.  It is well known that this year was monstrously difficult for me.  And as the feathers swooshed by the face, and the language floated through the air, and the protection was laid on me, I could feel my spirit soar and my strength regenerated.

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Through the years I have been able to better understand my gifts.  I know that these gifts are from the Creator, and are used to help people.  I understand myself by knowing my genetic makeup.  I understand why I am a little different but that it is not a bad thing.  I understand how to use my gifts to help folks live better lives and teach people how to heal themselves and their animals.  I empower people to not lose faith.  I live on a farm where the animals are safe.  The breezes are peaceful across the prairie.  The views are awe inspiring.  This is my respite.  My healing place.  We grow or wildcraft almost all of the sixty-plus herbs that we use in my medicines.  I am now learning more about the spiritual use of these same herbs.  For instance, Angelica is a hormone balancer yet also acts as protection from negative energies.  St. John’s Wort is named for St. John the Baptist and also creates a shield around a person while virtually stopping depression and anxiety.  Hawthorn heals heartbreaks as well as physically strengthens the outer muscle of the heart.

The owls have been here since we moved in and they are increasing.  They fly over my head into the nearest tree.  They are my spirit animal.  But they are also a sign of transition.  I am nowhere near my peak.  A woman does not come into her complete ability until her menses stop.  I have much to learn still and many people to reach.  I have folks to teach and inspire.  I have more plants to learn from and more teachers ahead of me.  And I am a teacher too.  The future looks bright.

http://gardenfairyapothecary.com  

Not Killing Cold Crops

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I was going to plant all the cold crops around St. Patrick’s day.  I heard you could.  But then I thought maybe we were moving so I didn’t.  Turns out I would have killed off everything if I had!  I think my friend/teacher/Master Gardener is determined to make a proper farmgirl out of me and help me actually grow stuff.  (As a proper farmgirl should be able to provide food for her family and not just adorable stunted plants that could feed gnomes.) Our lesson last week started with me telling her about my cold crop planting plans and she asked, “Did you take the soil temperature?”  …what?…no.

I have a candy thermometer, a baby thermometer, a root cellar thermometer, no thermometers for the dirt lying around.  That is going to change.

Cold crops can be planted when the soil is 45 degrees.  My cold crops consist of yummy peas, Swiss chard, kale, collards, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, potatoes, radishes, and broccoli.

Use milk cartons with their bottoms chopped off for cloches.  Put the screw top lid on at night and off during the day.  If I start my barrel of potatoes, use the trash can lid to cover at night.  Keep all the kids warm and tucked in while the night sky is still chilly.  During the day let them play and take in the sunshine.  In a few weeks I ought to be eating good, fresh spring fare.

She recommended that instead of continuing the soil pattern in the potato barrel (adding 6 inches of dirt every time the leaves stick up) add 6 inches of straw.  We are just trying to keep them in the dark.  Straw is lighter, easier to dig through.

She uses a drip line for 20 minutes daily.  I told her about my absolute loss of any common sense when it comes to watering.  So I am picking up a water level checker thing too.  Just so I know when to water or not.  I have not had any problems overwatering if she is watering 20 minutes a day, more in the summer.  More than 30 seconds of watering would do my garden wonders.

I also learned that you can drill tiny holes in a five gallon bucket and place it at the base of new trees (or old) and fill with water every time you pass with the hose.  It provides a steady drip of water to the thirsty roots.  Don’t my new orchard trees wish I had learned that last year?!

So, here’s the scoop.  We are looking at one last place that we really want after we get back from Santa Fe next week.  If we don’t get it, I will stop looking until fall.  Tis gardening season after all!  I will have Doug install the drip lines here in the crumbling raised beds and grow ridiculous amounts of food from heirloom seeds in riotous colors and hone my farmgirl skills thanks to Debbie.  I have another lesson in the morning!  And I’ll be off to get a dirt thermometer as well.