Moving up

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Well my friends, I have been absent for some time again. Spring is just such a busy time of year for me. I don’t mean to make excuses, though I know that is exactly what it is. I just cannot resist being outside in the garden on these early, gorgeous days of Spring. It has been chaos the last few weeks, good chaos, but chaos, nonetheless. Today I am stopping in to let you know one of those chaotic details has been to purchase a website and move this blog. I have been working on it intermittently between planting and other Spring chores. I am far from being a tech guru, and it is not perfect yet, but that is where you will find my posts from now on. If you wish to continue to follow my adventures, you will need to head on over to countrysidedaydreamer.com. Thank you for following me this far! I hope to see you there!

Regrouping

img_1263-e1493141438594.jpgOh my friends, it has been some time, hasn’t it? I apologize for my absence. The last two weeks have been all about regrouping and redefining. I followed through with that big decision I was in the process of, and now that it has me on a new path, or possibly, back on my original path, I have had to step back and reevaluate my situation.

Overall, I am incredibly thrilled with the situation. I still needed to process and reevaluate. I have renewed excitement. I had most definitely strayed off course. Suddenly, my passions are back in the picture. What happened? Well, that non profit I started was due to a vision I received when I was saved. I was given a clear set of pictures of what it was supposed to look like. Founding a non profit is not what you would expect if you have not been through the process. One thing you may not realize, is that even though I founded it, did all the work, and raised all of the money, it does not belong to me. Once it becomes a non profit, it belongs to the state, and the board has all control. I am just the instrument for getting it done. Unfortunately, my board had a different vision of this foundation than I did, and I was becoming miserably burdened, chasing all those dead end roads, and getting no where. It was becoming something that I was once passionate about, but recently found myself waking up resenting. It was costing me a ton of money, It was playing on the co-dependency issues that I had learned how to resolve years ago. It was causing me a great deal more stress than I was willing to give to it. It was affecting my entire family negatively. And then one day my husband asked me what was up? Why was I avoiding this situation so much? What had changed that my passion had fizzled away. I gave him a lame but valid excuse, and then spent several days weighing this question in my mind. What I came to see was that God had given me a vision of a mission. In an attempt to follow through, I built this non profit. In the process of having a board that did not have the same vision and agenda as me, it became warped into something very different from what I had been shown. And I resented it. Deeply. I resented the way the board treated me. I resented the way that half of them snickered when I spoke of God giving me this mission, or the way they snottily told me that I should be asking my church for money because “thats what they do, isn’t it?”. I resented what they had turned it into, and I resented how they talked to me. It most certainly had become something very different than the mission I had been shown, and I needed out like my ability to breathe depended on it.

I asked them to dissolve it, they said no and called me at the last minute to tell me that I was not welcome at the meeting that would determine the fate of my “baby”. In somewhat of a “thanks for doing all the hard work, have a nice life”, goodbye, they just dismissed me from the foundation I had built. I felt betrayed. One of the people I trusted most in this world hurt me deeply. It took me a few days to process that betrayal, but ultimately I got through it. I asked them to at least change the name and let me keep the name and logo for my own mission as it had been presented to me, and they agreed. So in the end, I am not really out anything. I set up a non profit, and essentially had it stolen from me, but maybe it was what was meant to be. I have my doubts about their ability to maintain it, but I am content that I am no longer committed to it and that I am in a position to rebuild it, privately this time. I have to wait three months to reclaim use of the name, and maybe longer while they submit a name change to the government, but ultimately, I got to keep what was mine.

This whole process unlocked some doors I was feeling trapped behind, and ultimately renewed my passion for the original vision. That moment of betrayal had a hidden blessing in it, as they always do, and once again, my burdens have a way of teaching me who I am meant to be and why I am living the life that I am. I have been in an introspective space for months now, and I am becoming blatantly aware of things I feel helpless to explain to people. As I watch from my quiet little existence on the edge of society, the level of mental unhealth terrifies me. The pace of life at which people live astounds me, the toxicity of our society horrifies me, and I feel helpless. The problems are so intertwined, I do not know how you go about starting the process of fixing it. Shame. Lack of love. Poor mental health. All leading to a society that is lost and confused. A society that is hurting. What causes all this shame and lack of mental health. Oh good grief, where would we begin? Food, environmental toxins, poor parenting habits, the rat race, loss of community over a perceived need to do more, have more, and be more.

At what point does one step back and say “How do I fix this”? Where is that line that we cross in order to take control of our lives? How do we teach the inhabitants of this Earth about love, simplicity, gratitude, and lifting each other up? How do we reach the masses and teach them how to clean the toxicity from their lives. How do we get healthy skills taught to so many lost souls who just never had a chance to learn that life can be different. We can’t expect people to use skills they were never taught, so how do we most effectively get the information about healthy skills, to the masses? How many times have I tried to show people how to make these changes and choose healthy skills, only to hear “but, can’t, won’t”? How do we get people to see that it does not have to be the miserable existence that they believe they are doomed to? How do we get them to see that they are able to change things if they are able to listen openly and change their thought processes and behaviors? I am aching to see the state of societies mental health heal, and I do not know how to make the biggest impact that I can to affect the most people.

The answer always comes back to love. We must teach each other how to love in a healthy way. We need to create more love and teach others how to project it in everything they do. If we are creating anything other than love, we are not perpetuating mental health in the world. Shame, addiction, anxiety, and depression are rampant in this world. Disease is eating us alive. There is an epidemic happening, and there is a shortage of compassionate, empathetic, love inoculations. We desperately need to consciously decide how we will show someone love today. Genuine love. Not the image of love, but genuine, honest, sincere love. What skills can we gently teach people so that they too are able to create more love? I ache for the children who are growing up in this unhealthy society. I ache for the young adults who think that is normal. I ache for the old men and women who look around at this society and hang their heads in shame, and I ache for those of us in the middle somewhere, looking around wondering what in the hell happened to the world, and hearing a hundred answers come pouring in all at once, so deeply intertwined with each other that it is like untangling all of the chains in an old necklace drawer. Where does one even begin?

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Sometimes that tangle of chains seems impossible. We have to step away and look in at it later when our brain is calmer. Sometimes we break a chain or two in our impatience, but eventually we can usually untangle the mess. Today, I am looking at the tangle of chains that bind this society, and I am desperately seeking one loose chain to start unraveling. I am desperately seeking the answers to where I fit in most effectively for the purpose of untangling the chains that our society bares, like the weight of the world tying them down and keeping them prisoner in this crazy world we live in.

Where is the bolt cutter in my toolshed? Is it sharp enough for these chains? Is it ready to take on a task of epic proportions? As I toil away at my peaceful little existence, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and caring for my family, I am grateful for the blessings in abundance. As I dream of how I will grow this existence for us, I forget sometimes, how removed from typical society I am. I forget that this is an atypical existence that we have built. Until I try to talk to people about what it feels like to live with peace. Then I become blatantly aware of how atypical our existence is, and I feel desperate to help others understand that they too, can build there own personal atypical existence. One that honors them and who they were meant to be. That traditional social standards may at first make it look impossible, but that is an illusion. A consequence of being trained to think inside of a social parameter. Remember my old cars post a few weeks back? Its all about choosing to be genuine to ourselves despite societies perspective on the matter. Are you struggling with desperately wanting something that you “can’t” have? Are you wondering how to find your purpose? Are you unsure what to do next? Are you just unhappy and don’t know why? Where are you in identifying the things holding you back?

A technique that works well with cutting through this stigma of being trapped in our miserable situation is to list it. Start by stating your goal. What is it that you want? Write it down. Now in two columns, make lists. On one side, the issues holding you back. What is stopping you from having what you want? What roadblock is stopping you from taking that path. What chains are tying you down? In the second column, what are some solutions to each individual issue. Prioritize them. Decide which order they need to be addressed, and start seeking outside the box solutions. One at a time, check them off as you find solutions, and before you know it, you will find yourself in that place that you thought was impossible to get to.

What if you don’t even know what you want. There have been a few times in my work, that the person I am working with does not even know what they want, what they are passionate about. They just don’t want to be miserable any more but isn’t life just get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and do it again? What do you mean “passions”?

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How do you find your passions? If you don’t even know what you want, how on Earth do you go about creating it? Well, ask yourself this question. “What makes my heart beat fast?” What is it that shaped you? What affects you? When you scroll through facebook, or the news, what is it that catches your attention? There is a very good chance that those are your passions, and if you follow your passions, you will eventually be successful. I honestly had no idea that when I finally discovered my passions, they would be so much different than what I thought my childhood dreams were, and yet in many ways, my childhood dreams hinted at pieces of those passions. A great example is that I always knew that I loved writing, but I never could have predicted that it would be a vessel for helping people to heal. I grew up in a city and had no idea that I would base my entire adult life around creating a self sustainable homestead. I had no idea how much I love taking pictures, despite the many photography classes that I took and that I was a photographer for the high school yearbook. But, when I sit down and make a list of things I desperately want to achieve, I find that many of my passions have always been deeply ingrained in me, I just didn’t put together the pieces until I had hindsight for perspective. I had a special needs child, and helping kids grew in me. I was a single mom, and helping single parents became a seed in my garden of purpose. I worked in an animal shelter, and learned that I am passionate about humanitarian work. I got sick, and food became one of my passions. These became a driving forces, and somehow, it all fits perfectly into that long term goal. When I step back and look at the whole situation, using my hindsight, I see that life has always been setting me up to pursue my passions, and tie them all together in one big bow of service to community that leaves me feeling content and full of peace. Its a quiet life. An existence I could never have imagined as a child. I never foresaw myself pursuing a life of service to others. Until I was in it, and then I realized it is always what I wanted. To make the world a better place. In my own quiet little way, I am doing exactly that, and I am doing it with the tools that I was granted through passion. Passions I have always had, and passions that grew as a result of life and trying to “get there”. Chase the things that make your heart beat fast. Those are the areas of life we are called to. At some point they all tie together and become purpose.

What is your purpose, and what is holding you back? If you identify those things, you can identify a way to achieve the unachievable, and you can overcome the misery and pave a new path. Having a passionate dream to pursue renews hope, and renewed hope is, as far as I can tell, the only loose chain available in this tangle of chains that holds us back. As you unravel the passions, and renew the hope, the other chains will start to come loose and soon you will have unraveled all the chains and be able to see clearly how to move past the “can’t, but, won’t” of your passions and on to the changing of the world part.

If I can help you. If you have questions. If I can clarify anything further. Please let me know. The world needs more peace, love and healing, Those of us who know how to achieve it are responsible for teaching others how to have it as well. I know today’s post is less uplifting than typical of me, but if I can help one person to see that they can change their miserable situation, then it has been worth it.

The air is heavy with Spring rain. The fire crackles in the fireplace, and my babies are germinating like crazy. The homestead beckons. I love you all! Until next time…God bless.

Finding Hope

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Anyone who has read this blog even one time knows that I try very hard to keep it positive. I make a conscious effort to find the bright side of even the worst situations, because I know that our trials are blessings in disguise, if we are willing to grow from them. This week has been an exceptionally trying for me, and I have had no energy to fight for joy. I spent the last two days keeping to myself instead of fighting the blahs. I spent a great deal of time thinking to myself “How can I write something positive while I sit in this dreary mood?”

Some days it is much harder to find hope and positivity than others. For some reason this week is proving exceptionally trying, for no good reason at all. The little things that I normally take with a grain of salt are really weighing on me and I am struggling to shake them off. I look around at my life, and it is no better or worse than it was a week ago, but boy am I tired of gray skies and chilly weather. Starting to feel like a caged animal and I suspect that is contributing to my lack of positivity and joyful abundance. The weather says sun, but day after day, I wake up to chilly weather and gray skies. Expectation causes disappointment, and maybe the answer is to stop hoping the weather forecast will be right about sun one of these days.

Meanwhile, I need a way to get out of this funk, and maybe I am not alone. It occurs to me that maybe it would  be a good idea to highlight some ways that we can rise above the dreary blahs and create some joy and hope of our own. How do you go about making a difference in the world? Living in the country, and making it my business to avoid going to town as much as possible, makes it challenging at times, to find ways to spread joy to others. I often hear people express that they don’t have money to give to strangers when challenged to make a difference for someone. Today I want to challenge you to find a way that doesn’t involve monetary donations, to brighten someones day. It doesn’t have to be a stranger. People we know need their days brightened too. How can we be more present to hearing others needs, and taking a moment to try to perpetuate their needs being met, or even just give them a spark of hope in humankind to get them through the day?

Even perpetually positive people need a pick me up sometimes. They are not that way because they have no challenges. More often than not, they have learned how to rise above challenges, and find the bright side of their situation. I have found that my “inspirational people” posts have made a profound impact on the people I have chosen to highlight. People who are overcoming challenges, finding the bright side, and consciously trying to reside in a place of positivity. They need to hear that they are doing good too. Staying hopeful and positive can be real work at times. It doesn’t just come naturally. Even the most bright, cheerful, positive, and hopeful of us have to work at times, to hold on to that joy. To not be defeated by the harder parts of life that would hold us back if we weren’t fighting for the light is challenging at times. There are definitely days that it would be much easier to give in to the crappy attitude and overall blahs. Maybe you know a perpetually positive person who could use some kind words about how their attitude inspires you? A simple way to create more joy, and to help the joy creators to stay on task. There are days when it feels like people take joy for granted and assume that because we try to keep a smile on our faces, that we have no stressors or doubts. It always helps to hear a little validation that our joy makes a difference. A simple challenge. Find someone who inspires you and tell them that they make a difference in your life.

There are many little ways you can make a difference that have nothing at all to do with monetary donations. What about stopping to let someone in front of you? Be it a line at the post office or grocery store, or in the midst of heavy traffic? You might make someone mad. Someone who hasn’t seen the example of slowing down and making room for others. It is always a possibility. You have a choice to care about that or not. You get to choose if making a difference outweighs what others may think. A while back, I was at the post office in town. I rarely use the post offices in town because they are chaos. Madhouses with lines that don’t stop. Using a post office in town means allowing at least an extra half hour for errands, vs using the local office, which takes no more than five minutes, ever. However, occasionally I find myself needing to use one of the town post offices, and I always make sure to prep my brain for patience when I do. When I do have to go to town, I try to remember to pray for an opportunity to make a difference for someone while I am there. On this particular day, I had a long list of errands, and I was certain there would be a way for me to spread some joy. I went through my list, one item at a time, and as I stood for what felt like forever, in that post office line, I was pondering that I hadn’t yet received an opportunity to bless someone random. This was a long line. I think the entire wait was nearly an hour. Every employee was busy and it didn’t appear that things were going to pick up any time soon. This is also the office that deals in passports, so it has more traffic than the other branches do. After about half hour in the line, I was starting to get close enough to the counter that I could see what was happening at the counters. The line behind me had grown and was nearly out the door. I noticed a middle aged woman wandering around looking so lost and confused. I watched her for about five minutes, getting nowhere. She had no idea where she needed to be, and it seemed apparent that she did not want to get in that long line to wait to be told she belonged elsewhere. Without thinking twice about the people in line behind me, I invited her to stand in line in front of me. She looked taken aback and started to protest. I assured her that it was absolutely ok, that she looked confused, and that I was sure the people at the counter could quickly tell her where she needed to be. We talked for a few minutes. She accepted my offer and graciously stood in front of me in line. She thanked me three times before that line behind me occurred to me again. At some point I turned around to apologize if I had caused any inconvenience to those immediately behind me, and what I saw when I turned around was astounding. I saw warm smiles. Nods of approval. I got a whole lot of affirmation from all of those people who had been impatiently waiting in line. They were smiling?? talking to each other. The entire line had been impacted by this moment, and not in a negative way of having to wait an extra three minutes. A couple people smiled, nodded, assured me that it was just fine. I really started out just trying to make a difference for one person. And a profound difference I had made, just being friendly and kind to a stranger, but that energy overflowed to the people behind me. The air of impatience in the room had dissolved and people were talking to each other! I got approving smiles and nods. People were happy to see this good thing happening. They supported it, and the positivity spilled over and affected everyone in the room. If anyone was upset by my actions, I was none the wiser. I left that post office surprised at the immediate effect that one random act of kindness, on a single stranger, had on an entire room full of strangers. I have to hope that at least one of them was inspired to go do something nice for another stranger, somewhere else in their day,

The ways you can help change the world are numerous. They range in size from a tiny gesture, such as letting a little ole lady in line in front of you, to a huge act of sacrifice, like organizing a rummage sale and donating the proceeds to someone in need.

Maybe you see a mom with her arms full. Do you have a minute to help her to her car? Maybe you see a child acting out in the grocery store? Do you think “if that were my child…” or do you remember the days when your child was actually having that tantrum once upon a time? I have found that simply engaging the child can change the whole scene for that exacerbated mother who just wants to get through the grocery store and get out of there with her overtired child. I have yet to meet a parent who does not seem truly grateful when I distract their child from their tantrum. We don’t always have the choice to leave our children with someone else while we get the necessities for dinner. Empathy goes a whole lot further than judgement. Do you see someone in a wheelchair? Maybe you could offer to reach something on a high shelf for them?

Pick some wildflowers for a neighbor. Make an extra big batch of soup and share with someone, Hold a door or carry a bag. Simply smile and make eye contact. Plant some extra garden seeds to share with a neighbor, or bake some cookies to share with a stranger. There are unlimited ways to make a difference in this world. Share your extra eggs or veggie bounty. Tell someone something you find beautiful about them. Do you have extra jerky or meat from this years hunt? There is always someone hungry, or simply someone who is not blessed with the opportunity to have real, fresh food. You have any idea how tiresome it must be to eat McDonalds day in and day out, because you are homeless and that is what kind hearted people do, buy you some fast food. Certainly, any food is a blessing, and I have even recomended that people buy a book or two of gift certificates from the fast food places, to keep in their glove box and pass out to homeless people, and of course, we all know beggars cant be choosers, but I had an experience with a homeless man one time that shined a light on this for me. We had just bought groceries, and were headed through a drive through to get one of those all too sugary frozen coffee drinks that are a rare treat for us. I saw a man in the parking lot, and I almost ordered him food. Then it occurred to me. “I bet he gets sick of McDonalds”. My son agreed, and we quickly did a mental inventory of our groceries. I ordered him a spoon on my way through the drive though. We cruised over to him, and I told him that I would buy him McDonalds if he wanted, but that I had the thought he must get sick of it. He nodded so enthusiastically and quickly confirmed that he gets way too much of that nutrient devoid “food”. We dig through our bags. I gave him a yogurt and the spoon I had grabbed while getting our icy drinks. My son held open the donut box and let him choose his pick of the mixed dozen we had purchased. We gave him a few real food items. Cheese and some yogurt, a donut filled with jelly. We offered jerky but he didn’t really have any teeth and declined. We chatted with him for five minutes or so, wished him blessings, and headed on our way. It was evident that he was thrilled that someone considered maybe he had had his fill of cheap cheeseburgers and fries for the week, possibly for a lifetime. He also really seemed to appreciate that we took time just to talk to him, instead of just tossing a bag of food or a couple bucks his way.

I recently won a hundred dollar gift certificate to a higher priced local establishment. With my celiac, I can’t eat there. I carried that gift certificate around in my wallet for months, wondering what I would do with it. A couple weeks ago,  I was in the gas station, when I ran into a local business owner, working behind the counter. Now why would she need a second job, unless life was handing her lemons, despite her positive outlook, and it occurred to me to gift that restaurant meal to her. I had no expectations. I just wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate it, but a week later, when I was feeling some stress about a detail of our life, she showed up with an answer to that stress, completely unexpected, and changed the whole course of a week for me. Because when you spread joy, it comes back to you in unexpected ways.

We all have some hotel sample products around, don’t we? One really creative idea that I just love is to take old purses or cosmetics bags that you are done with, and fill them up with some of those hotel samples of soap and shampoo you have taking up space in a cabinet, and keep them in your car for when you see a homeless person. They need soap and toothpaste too. Or, if you are able to spend money to help, you could toss a granola bar, pouch of jerky, dried fruit, and a water bottle in there too.

There are countless ways to make a difference in peoples lives. Most of them require very little effort on our part for the amount of difference they make to another. It is true, smile at a stranger and they will be more inclined to smile at the next guy. Five minutes out of your day to impact a stranger can have so much more impact on the world than you may think, as they go on to share their joy in a contagious outbreak of loving words and gestures. Joy spreads rapidly if we take a moment to distribute it. All we have to do is plant a mustard seed of joy in the world, and it will grow into a great tree of loving actions and words beyond the scope of your site. You may never see the true reach of your loving actions, but I promise you that they will grow roots and branches that are abundant with fruits of spirit.

How can you spread some love and joy today? What seeds can you plant to nourish the world? There are many places to get ideas. A quick google search will bring up a plethora of websites completely dedicated to spreading kindness. I found a couple for you to start with. Being kind is not synonymous with spending money. There are more ways to be kind without money than most realize. Here are a few places to start. I would love to hear how you randomly spread kindness. I would love to hear your ideas for ways to change the world. I want to know how you nourish the spirit of others. Do you wander through life in a daze, just trying to get through the race today? Or are your eyes and ears alert, seeking ways to create some love and spread some joy?

If you are looking for more ways to spread some loving kindness, here are a few websites that might give you some creative ideas. Tell me what you come up with. Lets keep each other accountable for creating loving light.

http://www.spreadkindness.org/kindness-ideas

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

http://www.bradaronson.com/acts-of-kindness/

http://andthenwesaved.com/random-acts-of-kindness-ideas/

http://www.kindspring.org/ideas/

That should give you a good start at finding at least one way that you can make a difference today. I would love to hear how you plan to make a difference this week. God bless Ya’all. have a great day!

 

 

 

 

Moderation

One of my go to cliches is “Everything in moderation”. We all know this time tested adage holds truth, and its a truth I cling to. However, it is seed starting time in Montana, and I have to say, this is one area that I really suck at finding self control. Somewhat of a seed hoarder, I love the varieties that heirloom seeds offer. So many lovely colors and varieties that you will never see in a nursery, I can’t help myself when it comes to seeds. My favorite place to get seeds is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I just love the variety they offer, the staff is ridiculously helpful and friendly, and I love reading the description and history behind the seeds. This is a company that makes me feel like I am working with a family. Let me tell you, when I first discovered heirloom seeds, I was beside myself in shock and awe. I had no idea!! This is not a review. They have not offered me anything in exchange for my opinion. I just really love this company and will continue to shop through them as long as I have the option.

When my first order came from them, I was in 7th Heaven. I spread everything out on the floor, and took an outrageous number of pictures. I wanted all of my friends to see what they had been missing out on, and in my excitement, I had giant epiphanies about the mainstream food system, dumbed down and streamlined for mass production. Until I tried heirlooms tomatoes, I thought I didn’t even like tomatoes. Turns out I just don’t like supermarket tomatoes. The heirlooms from the garden are absolutely divine! Like candy! Who knew tomatoes came in black, yellow, purple, striped, speckled, spotted, you name it, they come in so many varieties, I want to try them all! This leaves me with a moderation problem. No matter how hard I try, I am just terrible at planting a reasonable number of tomatoes. Last time I scaled it back I ended up with 89 tomato plants! 89! What the heck is my little family of three gonna do with 89 tomato plants???? And yet, it was half the number I had planted the year before. Now anyone with any garden knowledge at all knows that this is just too many tomatoes for one small home garden to manage, and in the process, its seems like everything gets neglected. This year I limited myself to ten. Hubby and I sat down, and went through the pile of seeds, hemming and hawing over which varieties we would choose this year. It was hard. I have over twenty varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and I think they are all delightful. But, we did it. We narrowed it down to five varieties, and I am planting two of each. Wish me self control! Peppers present the same challenge, for the exact same reasons. I used self control. We picked five varieties. Today I am going to plant my tomato and pepper seeds. Thrilling! I am hellbent on keeping my numbers manageable this year.

Cucumbers. Watermelon. Squash and peas. Beans, radishes, and carrots. Without moderation, I will never fit all these goodies in my modest garden space. Oh how I look forward to planting time!

I am ready to put a few things outside, if this rain would give us a break. Last night, it snowed. Oh Spring in the Rockies is painstakingly slow to grace us, and cold and wet when it does. Still, I will take it. I am ready to get my hands in the soil, two days in a row. I am ready to get a full day in the garden without having to settle for taking advantage of moments between rain clouds. I am praying for the sun to grace us this week, more often than not.

I got a good nights sleep last night. I was asleep long before my normal late night hours, and I woke this morning ready to tackle the week with a fresh start. I am impatiently waiting for the frozen rain/frost mix to burn off, so I can get my hands in some dirt outside. The laundry is running, the chores got an early start too. All in all, I am anticipating a lovely, productive, fantastic Spring day. I am in this strange limbo right now, and it helps me to greet each day with an open heart, ready for whatever the day might offer. I love the flexibility of facing my day completely open to whatever possibilities might present. I love having no preconceived notion of what a successful day today might look like. There’s a sense of tranquility. A lack of rush or pressure. Opportunity to just breathe and take in all the sights and sounds of the day coming to life. The birds are vocally thankful for my birdfeeders today, and there is just something uplifting about waking up to what sounds like an entire forest of birds greeting me with appreciation for fresh seed and a new day.

And so, it is with appreciation for seed and a new day that I head into the week, full of awe and wonder for the adventures that will present themselves to me. I hope that the day presents you with abundant glory and joy. Have a blessed day!

 

Simple Pleasures. Blessed abundance.

As I sit here wondering what to chat about this morning, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by my blessings. I am so incredibly lucky to lead the life that I do! I have so many simply abundant blessings that I don’t even know where to begin. I gaze out the window at the expanse of land surrounding me. The clouds hang on the mountains in the distance and I have so much joy and appreciation for the rain. I just did all that transplanting this past few days, and I have been impatiently awaiting the Spring storms. There is something so refreshing about the Spring rain, encouraging new life, telling those roots to reach deep into their soil and find the nourishment to grow. The smell. Oh the fantastic smell that Spring rain brings! I could sit outside all day, just to smell the freshness of the cool rain. I wouldn’t get much done though, would I? So, i opt for stepping out every little while for a brand new fresh whiff. It’s so inspiring! So uplifting. The grass already has a new shade of green peeping up, just from the overnight moisture. I can’t wait to put on those lovely purple galoshers and head out to see how the transplants are doing. Or maybe today is a red galoshers day?

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Well, life took a detour one paragraph in, and I got distracted by a two and a half hour phone call. How blessed am I that I can just stop my day and take two and a half hours to just visit with one of my closest friends? This wasn’t a catching up call. We have been close since just out of high school, but I guess today we had some real stuff to chat about. Such an uplifting conversation, and while I started this post thinking about my blessings, they have just been highlighted and uplifted in this conversation that leaves me feeling invigorated about this blessed life I am living. My friend and I have grown together, raised kids together from different states, and just become who we are as individuals, together, over the years. We have had ups and downs, as any friendship will, but we stand the test of time through the good and the bad. As we both embark on new adventures this season, it is so refreshing to have a close friend, one who has seen it all, and see’s the great possibilities that the future holds for each of us. We are blessed to enjoy the little things and cry over the pain together, and she belongs on my list of things I am most thankful to be blessed with.

And now my husband is calling from his lunch break. How blessed am I to have such a fantastic man in my life? And that he has a fantastic job? And that on his short, half hour lunch break, it is me he is thinking of? Seriously, I can find blessing in abundance everywhere right now. I have a lovely adult teen son, who has never been in trouble in his life. I hear his voice coming from his room and am filled with gratitude for my family.

I have this lovely pack of pets, all very well behaved. Totally and completely in love with me. Three awesome rescue dogs, and two lovely cats. Also rescues. It is a blessing to be able to provide a safe, stable environment, for all of them. They are getting old. Every one of them has more than ten years of life lived, and its such a delight to see them still in good health and full of abundant energy for this wonderful Spring day.

While I was talking on the phone excitedly with my friend, about all the doors that seem to be opening and what ideas I have for the immediate future, the sun managed to burn off most of the clouds. Now it is damp, fresh, cool, crisp, bright, and sparkly out there. I wandered through quickly. Didn’t even bother with the purple galoshers. Everything has so much more green than it had yesterday! I found more asparagus popping up. In just a few short weeks we will be eating from the garden again. Oh sweet, Heavenly relief!

All this dwelling on blessings really hit hard last night. I was watching a recorded episodes of “Live free or die” and perusing YouTube videos of Glacier National Park all at once. Glacier National Park is to date, my favorite place on the planet. I think we are due an adventure up there soon. Thinking about taking a long weekend to head up to Glacier really got me thinking how blessed I am to live in this beautiful “last best place”. A place where wild still exists, and the race is just a bit slower than the rest of the country. I spent time reflecting on the fact that I am surrounded by beauty at every turn, but moreso, that I am just a short drive from both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Two of the most unique, amazing places that I have ever been are right in my back yard. That thought is what really got me thinking about the abundance of blessings in my life, and that thought got those blessings flooding my mind to a point of near overwhelm.

At the same time that I was browsing videos of Glacier and daydreaming about a road trip, I heard one of the “Live free or die” cast members start to talk about his relationship with fire. He was talking about how the majority of the population has no relationship with fire, and how they rely on it for daily life. How the majority of people’s relationship with fire consists of turning on a burner on the stove to cook dinner, if they even cook at all. For a moment, I considered that his off grid life has him so disconnected, that he doesn’t even realize that fire is a major component of plenty of peoples lives, and it started to sink in that he was indeed correct. I just happen to live differently from most people. I have a relationship with fire. I rely on fire to warm my home. I wake up to cold mornings and the first thing I do is start my fire. Before coffee. Before dogs get a potty. First, get the fire started. And it made me realize that I am coming along in this dream for a simpler, less rat raced life. I am not off grid. I am not at the level of simplicity that he is, but I am headed that direction, and again, perspective on how blessed my life is.

So, here I sit. Blessed beyond comprehension. I have this bountiful life. I have land around me, and a gorgeous horizon full of snowy mountain peaks. I have this lovely handful of pets distributed around my feet as I sit here writing my thoughts to share with whoever feels compelled to read them. I have a nice, juicy roast in the bean pot in the oven, and boy do I love my bean pots. I could write a whole post on them alone. If you ever get a chance to try one, don’t hesitate. They are fantastic. I have a delightful child who consistently makes me proud, in the next room, and a darling hubby who takes time out of working his tail off to provide for us, taking a moment to message me from work, just to say “Hi, how are you today?”

I have fully equipped and ready to stock beehives. I have a grand vegetable garden getting ready to start producing for the year. I have some of the freshest, cleanest well water that you could imagine. I live next to a river and get to watch birds of prey hunt over the pasture out my bay window. I have abundance! My house is warm. My closet is full. There is a big, hearty chunk of meat in the oven, and a hugely satisfying pot of soup on the stove to go with it.

I have Faith.

And, I am about to embark on yet another new adventure. My blessings can only grow with each new adventure, and already I am blessed with bounty that I never imagined for myself. Hard to believe I get to keep growing that bounty, but oh so exciting!! I am ready for this adventure. I am excited to walk through the coming days with my eyes and ears wide open. I can not wait to see what is next! I look forward to experiencing each moment. Isn’t that a blessing in itself? The excitement to experience each moment. I am thankful to see my blessings. I am thankful that I am not on a constant hamster wheel, trying to get more, more, more. Insight that I am not confined to that social structure may perhaps be the best blessing of all.

Often I hear people express that they would love a lifestyle like mine, but…..

but. can’t. won’t.

It makes me want to convince them that they can, while feeling a sense of sadness that my words are falling on deaf ears, because in their mind they have “but, can’t, won’t” for every statement I make. I know that it is a simple reorganization of priorities. The ability to look at your obstacles and brainstorm a way around them. Life is about the choices you make. I choose a simple, country life, but because I choose a simple, country life, I don’t choose the latest vehicle upgrade or the fanciest name brand clothes, and my cell phone might be going on three years old now. My laptop from which I write this post, has quirks that cause my cursor to jump all over the page, randomly, and I often have to delete and retype my words multiple times. I take time to download digital coupons to my grocery card, because those savings add up pretty fast and food is exorbitantly expensive. I cook my food, almost all of it, at home. I don’t keep up with the rat race, and it doesn’t occur to me, until someone who finds my way of life foreign, questions a factor.

I have this fabulously dependable little SUV that I purchased for six thousand dollars, eleven years ago. This was a particularly rough day for her, but she pulled through. I love that little beast. She is quirky, and she knows when someone that isn’t me gets behind her wheel. If you aren’t gentle with her, she locks up on you. She won’t let the key out of the ignition, or she refuses let you shift out of “Park” until you give her a friendly, loving jiggle. Countless times, my husband has looked at me with a sigh and said “I need you to get the key”. I don’t know why, but she usually lets go right away for me. A quirky, but dependable car, she has never failed to get me where I am going. Not. Once. Ever. She has taken me on long, winding, mountain drives. She has bounced in the mud off the beaten path in deep mountain terrain. She has rolled off the interstate at a mere twenty miles an hour, for over 15 miles, flashing her check engine light the entire way, but she never stops till she gets me to a safe place. She is paid for. Completely paid for. She qualifies for permanent registration. She has cheap auto insurance. And she is dependable. She is big enough to hold all of my pets, and has a high enough clearance on her to deal with some of the worst roads. She stood strong when a dodge Ram slid through an icy intersection and crashed smack into her front bumper, leaving me with not even a sore muscle to complain of. I really am thankful for this dependable little car.

I have never had anything but appreciation for this little car. And then one day, I went to an event. An old neighbor, and dear friend, invited us to an annual Fourth of July celebration. I had seen her every single year for this event, for the entirety of our relationship, but a few years ago, I pulled up in front of her house, and her response was the strangest thing. She got a quizzical look on her face, and said to me “Oh. your still driving that thing?”

She wasn’t being rude. She wasn’t being condescending. She was just genuinely shocked that I would still be driving this car. I replied “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”  and later that night it started to sink in. What is surprising about driving an older, dependable, paid for car? It is not in terrible shape, it is not a rust bucket. It has a bit of hail damage, but nothing horrendous.

Not long after that I had a similar experience with a client. I was giving him a ride to town. He had noticed that we own three older vehicles, none in terrible shape, but all old enough to qualify for permanent registration for several years now. We also own an old truck that we only really use for big jobs. As we were riding, he asks me, first, if he can clean my car for me for ten bucks, to which I said no. And then he went on to ask me why we didn’t trade in all of our “old, crappy cars” for a nice new one.

I giggle as I think of my response to him. The furthest answer from the truth, but how could I explain my entire philosophy of frugality to an adult teen child from a fairly well off family, living the epitome of the race? I said “you just asked me if you could clean this car for ten bucks, why would I want a brand new car for my pets and family to make filthy with hair and mud?”

It left him silent, but the two incidents, so close together, really shined a light on something about myself that I hadn’t really seen yet.

I don’t care.

I don’t care that I have the shiniest, trendiest new car. I care to have the peace of a sturdy, dependable car, that is paid for. It is wonderful to not have to rely on a bus to get me to the grocery store. I don’t care, if I get out of that car, and you think my jeans aren’t cool enough or that my purple galoshers don’t match my red hoodie. I don’t care at all that I no longer fit into this society by the standards of this society. I am not in this race, and I have no desire to beat anyone to the finish line. I am here to stroll through the adventure, stopping to smell the roses and enjoy the finer things in life. The blessing that is no car payment. The blessing that is comfort in my own skin. The blessing that is embracing who I am, finding a way to exit the race, and being happy to meander along, participating at a pace that allows me to enjoy the abundant gift of life.

I love the blessing to think for myself. To make decisions based on my understanding of a situation, and not because it is what society and my peers expect of me. It is too high pressure trying to live a life where others expectations are the goals you aim for, and today I reflect on the blessing that is me embracing me. In all my eccentric glory, I am simply grateful to be alive, and living an abundant lifestyle that suits me perfectly. I hope each and every one of you finds that kind of blessing and abundance in your lives. I hope with all of my heart that every one of you learns how to be their most abundant self, and experiences it to it’s fullest while on this Earth. Until next time my friends, don’t forget to embrace life in true authenticity. These are the moments that will matter most. Now go enjoy something simple!

Timing

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Isn’t timing everything? It occurs to me that with the onset of Spring, I open a new chapter of this book of life. It is fantastic outside, the hardiest of the perennials are starting to come up. I mean really popping up! Yesterday I saw my first asparagus spears. How incredibly thrilling! I have been in deep introspection the last few weeks, and this week it finally seems to be coming together and making sense. Such an incredible relief. I spent a lot of time in the garden this weekend, in my time of reflection. I moved a bunch of perennials from their pots, to a new permanent raised bed that hubby made for me last Fall. Every morning I wander out there and see a little more growth, as they embrace their fresh, new homes.  They are really taking off now. It invigorates me to see them digging their roots into the fresh, rich, new soil.

I feel fresh. I feel ready to take on a new chapter and turn the pages of the last one. I feel ready for closure, so that I may begin my journey down the next trail in my pathway.  I am really quite consumed the last couple of days, with thoughts on how a seemingly negative situation can really help us grow into the beautiful souls that we are meant to become. I have had many months to process my situation. I am not one to make rash decisions, and once I start talking out loud about something, it is safe to assume I have probably considered all of the details that I have available and have already made a decision based on the information I have. Like the plants in my garden, I am ready for a transplant into a more nourishing situation.

I made a big decision to take an abrupt left turn onto a new trail head. I am not abandoning the path that I was on, just taking a side path along the same route. The path I was on was twisting a different direction than my end goal, and I decided to stay on a route along that path, even if it was an off shoot of my original path, but to head in the direction that seems more likely to get me to my destination. The beaten path is not always the right path.

Life twists and turns. It is ever changing. That which does not bend in the wind will inevitably break. We must stay flexible if we wish to get anywhere. Often it is hardship after hardship, just for a glimpse of the magical. We have to climb rocks and scale mountains if we want to see the glorious sunset over the valley. We bump our shins, sometimes stumble through stinging nettle, and often encounter obstacles that wish to slow us down. We must use our critical thinking and survival skills to overcome these obstacles if we wish to continue forward to that glorious sunset. Sometimes we have to wander off the path to get some mud for that stinging nettle burn, but ultimately, if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we will crest that mountain.

I promised you that I was going to start writing about people who inspire me. In this period of introspection, I find myself thinking about my friend Katie. This woman is an inspiration like none you have met before. An ever beaming ray of light, who faces hardship with determination and infectious positivity. She doesn’t pretend that everything is peaches and cream all day long. She doesn’t hide her hurts and only share her joy. This woman is present. You can count on her to be living in the moment. Dark or light, she comes through true to herself and her work. When she hurts, she says so, while actively finding a way to turn that hurt into light and opportunity. She always manages to find a way to turn her pain into an opportunity to create light in the world. She reaches out and asks for love and light when she is knocked down. Just think about it. When she is down, rather than whining, complaining, and doing the ‘poor me’, she asks for love, light, and insight. She seeks conversations about the ways that others have overcome similar hurts. She reaches out to her sources of love. She grasps for the light, reaching with every ounce of energy she has on some days, just to grasp a ray. And every time she grasps, she compels others to put light into the world. We can never have too much love and light in our universe, and her optimism, even in the face of excruciating pain, is contagious.

 

She is a gleaming example for anyone who wishes to live a spiritually fulfilled life. She finds ways to see blessing in her hardship. She finds ways to use her hardship to bring more love and light into this world. She takes advantage of the moments when she isn’t facing her demons, to truly appreciate the simple things. Mud between your toes, the love of a great dog, the smell of fresh air, the ability to breathe another fine day. She has grand dreams and stops to enjoy the simple beauty that surrounds her in any given moment on her way to reaching those dreams. She is most definitely determined to make the very best of every moment she has been gifted.

She recognizes her limits. She honors her body. We live in this society that is next to impossible to keep up with. Many of us forget to honor our body and spirit. We get so caught up in the rat race that we forget that we need nourishment in the way of rest. Our bodies will scream for that nourishment until they get what they need. Katie has learned to listen to her body and honor it. When it screams for quiet, she quickly acknowledges that and gives it the down time it needs, without shaming herself for needing that break. Without forcing herself to try to be a part of the race. She finds ways to grow, even in her darkest hours.

When I was going through the hardest part of my healing process, I kept hearing “You are a survivor. You will be fine”. At some point, that brought up anger in me. I was tired of hearing “your a survivor”, and one day it came gushing out in a mad wave of rage. “I don’t want to be a survivor anymore. I want to LIVE!” I want to really experience and enjoy life, not just survive it. And I became determined to overcome survivorship. I was done with that label. I was going to be the poster girl for really living life. Nothing was going to stop me. I was going to find a way to stop surviving, and start living. For once and for all. Determined. New goal. I had to look at my obstacles, and use some outside the box brainstorming to find ways to overcome them, but I was committed. I was doing this. Time to shed the survivor skin, and start breathing every minute of air I was blessed with. Katie encompasses this for me. She is a real life version of this epiphany I had so many years ago. I am working hard to remember it every moment, but there are many, many times, that I am thankful for her as a reminder.

Some days it is hard. Some days I feel compelled to fall back into a pattern of stinkin thinkin, even if only for a moment. Somehow, it seems that when these moments hit, she shines through. Her light beams through my screen and reminds me that I have a goal. A simple goal. To live. In the truest, most honest and loving, sense of the word. To really embrace life, even on dark days. To remember to be thankful for the very gift of breath.

I have never met Katie in person, though I like to think that we would hit it off fabulously. She is truly one of the most inspiring women that I have ever met. I see her from an outside view of her world, and I wonder if she see’s the radiating light that I do? I wonder if she realizes what a profound impact she has on this world? Watching as she and her beautiful pup companion, Obi, travel down their path, is truly a gift. I am a fairly spiritually stable woman, and I am all too aware of how many people struggle to survive, every  single day. I consider the impact she makes on my life, and I wonder if she realizes what an astounding impact she must be making on the lives of so many people who are far less spiritually healthy. She lives by example, and she is a shining example of someone who really embraces the art of living each day.

We would all be better off with a Katie in our lives. Thank you, Katie, for filling the world with light. For being a shining source of inspiration. You keep doing you. It is just what we need more of in this world. Know that you are changing lives, and keep embracing that beautiful spirit of yours. If you would like more inspiration by Katie, you can check her out here.

*The photos of Katie and Obi belong to her. I have not yet been blessed to meet her in real life to take my own. All rights to the photos of Katie and her pup belong to her and may not be reproduced without her permission.

 

One door closes…

So a few days ago I told you I had been wrestling with a major life decision. I am pleased to say that I have made a decision, but I cannot tell you about it yet, because there are others involved who need to be notified of the change that is coming before I can disclose it publicly. I had alot of concern with this change, alot of coming to terms with perceived “failure” and what happened to kill my passion. What I found when I finally made a decision, was that I feel all around better. I talked to the folks whom I was worried would see this as a failure, or giving up, and they were so supportive, so I took the steps to start the ball rolling. And my goodness did it snowball fast! I talked to one of the parties involved, who took complete agreement with me. As worried as I was about how my supporters would respond, they have actually surprised me with how much more convicted they were about the issue than me. Meeting with that one woman led to a series of events that set the ball in motion. As it became clearer and clearer that this was happening, the relief started to grow into something I could not have anticipated. I found myself thanking God profusely for the answers, and the relief that came with them.

And then I found myself overwhelmed with affirmation and hope. I saw as moment after moment passed, that this was indeed the right decision. I found myself dreaming about new possibilities, and feeling like a cage door had been opened. I hadn’t even realized how much the issue had been affecting me until I faced it and felt the effects of it lightening everything about me. It was like my entire body was released. The decision has the potential to have a profoundly positive impact on every area of our lives. It frees us from a situation that I believed that we had to just make the best of for a bit longer. I would say, in many ways it feels like chains were broken. Suddenly, my hands are untied, and I have freedom to spend some time focusing on other priorities. I have been praying on this for so long now, I am so incredibly grateful to finally be released. Today, perspective is the best gift I could have asked for in my little world.

And so, armed with sharpened perspective today, I look forward to seeing what doors open as I leave this path behind me. I look forward to being able to focus on my writing. I am absolutely thrilled at the idea of simplifying even further. I have spent the last several years desiring and working to create a simplified existence. I have no interest in this current rat race, or the political environment that seems to go with it. I am saddened by the hurt and shame causing so much outrage in the world, and I am hopeful that this latest decision frees up more time and energy in my life to help people heal some of that hurt and find a more rational space to reside in. I find myself in a space of hope. I find myself looking forward to what the day brings, instead of dreading a task that i am supposed to feel joyful about. I find myself realizing that I had strayed off of Gods path for me, and never even realized it, and I think he has me straightened back out, or at least facing the proper path again.

One of the things that I wish to do is to start highlighting inspiring people in this blog. I wrote a piece a couple weeks ago about a woman who inspired me. It was just a whim but it had a profound impact on me. I have not stopped thinking about it since. I want to start regularly showcasing someone who has taken the challenge to overcome obstacles, and who chooses to do so with as much positivity as they can muster. I already have my next subject in mind. I reached out to her today, and got her permission. I think we can all benefit from highlighting infectious positivity, and I look forward to this new aspect of my blog. I look forward to telling you about her next week. Today, I have been easily distractable, and it has taken me hours to get through this post. It is way later in the day than I had hoped it would be as I finish up and start to feel anxious to head to the garden. Until next time, may you find your day full of blessings and joy! See you soon!