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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!

Not the rain

248548_1025585354150995_3181269488808223055_nA few days ago, I posted about the rain. How I woke up sore and achy and then realized that is was glorious rain causing my aches. Oh how mistaken I was! As the day progressed, it did not take long to figure out that there was no way the rain was causing this pain to keep getting worse and worse. When the chills hit I realized I needed to take my temperature. I was so wrong about the rain. Turns out flu was causing my pain. Boy, I just cannot get a break. So, I spent the last several days in a blanket on my couch trying to recover from this latest germ warfare on my body, and finally, last night, I ate. I slept more than two hours consecutively, and I feel like healing is in my cards for today. Far from 100%, but able to function, and thankful for that.

While I was laying around feeling like death might be creeping into my bones, my little seedlings had a chance to germinate and I am so incredibly excited to see my babies starting to come up. First day of Spring seems like a great day to get a few more seeds in some dirt and I am really quite thrilled about this. Hoping and praying I can summon the energy. I am loving the Spring rain, despite my longing for sun. The sun just makes me feel guilty right now because I am too ill to go outside and take advantage of it. I am ready though, to get a little exercise in. This morning, an old dog wandered through, and then decided to hang out. Friendly at least, I got his info and called his people. Both at work in town, I hiked the half mile to their house, and locked both of their dogs back up behind two gates. Now mind you, I was in slippers, and it is muddy out. What a sight I must be to passers by. Before I even made it back up my driveway this dog is bounding up behind me again. Took him back home and locked him in the house. The walk was exhausting but boy did it get some congestion moving.

It also left me quite introspective. How blessed am I to live in a place where you can still leave your door unlocked? Our home is the first thing you see when you come down this little country road. Its not discreet or set back or private in the least. We live next to a river and the traffic at the fishing access is busy, especially as Spring arrives and people are looking to get out of the house. We lock our doors when we are not home. And we are armed when we get up to check bumps in the night. That is just how it is out here. You may be able to enter the house, but its unlikely that you will leave the same way you got in. Life is different in the mountains. We gotta take care of each other. We still rely on community. There is no room to be completely independent from your community out here. Our neighbors are our allies, because they have to be. We watch. We quickly notice when things are out of sorts or when someone doesn’t seem like they belong, and there is no hesitation to confront that out of sorts person on the neighbors land.

After a few days of laying around, not being able to do much but watch tv and peruse social media, this strikes me as a particularly blessed place to be right now. I try so hard not to write about politics, but don’t let that fool you, I have plenty of thoughts on them. We are living in a time when neighbors are being very un-neighborly. I have never seen this country so divided. It brings up so many thoughts in me. I don’t even know where to begin. It is frustrating to feel like there is not one singe dependable news source out there. Everything is biased one way or another, and people want to believe that their side is right and the other side is a bunch of ignoramus sheeple.

Life is not black and white. It is gray, with a lot of color mixed in. It is not right or left. It is not Democratic or Republican. It is some fine balance in the middle, and it is blowing my mind how few people seem to be willing to use their rational brain and see that. People I once admired, looked up to, thought of as intelligent, have lost all of my respect for their emotionally driven rants. People are letting politics consume them like a cancer. People I once saw as rational are now spending every waking moment on Facebook, feeding into the political frenzy. Calling each other names and devoting their lives to spewing ugly facts about the opposition. People are living in a state of hate and dwelling in a state of ugly. People have become consumed with negativity. It is heartbreaking. It is lonely. It is disgusting. At times it is laughable. It shows a grand lack of self satisfaction, and it shows a huge lack of accountability in people. The two go hand in hand.

I consistently talk about being the change you wish to see in your life. Well, this goes for the world too. There is no question my stance on this. We need to be accountable for fixing what is wrong with our lives, and no one will do it for us. This holds true with government as well. They are not responsible for fixing our lives. To all the people in an uproar about government funding, I would ask, why not put all those resources and energy to work building a non profit to make up the gap? Why not grow an extra plot of garden to donate to a local food program? Why not get a group of like minded folks together and start a program to compensate for the things you feel that the govt should be giving us? They have to take our hard earned wages to give us those things, and have you looked at your taxes lately? They are taking a lot!

I have lived on welfare. I know what socialism looks like, and I will be the first to tell you it is a miserable existence. I do not understand how anyone who can read even one article about socialism could support it. In a socialist society, you don’t get to succeed. You don’t get to get ahead. You get the bare minimum. For perspective, the TANF program (temporary assistance to needy families), provides a family of two with an income of $317.00 per month, and in order to qualify for that check, you are required to put in 35 verifiable hours a week, of either community service, job searching, or work. If you are working, the wage you receive goes against the TANF payment and it is reduced until you no longer qualify. Let me repeat that. 35 hours a week, for $317.00 a month. That is what socialism looks like. There is no opportunity to get ahead. Save for a vacation. Buy a home. Upgrade your car. Medicaid is a joke. It covers basic medical care, but unless your under 18, you will not get glasses or dental work done. Even if you are approved for those things by medicaid, they pay so awful that no Drs of those trades will accept it for adults. Socialism guarantees equality. We will be equally impoverished, no matter how hard we work or don’t.

People who are satisfied with their lives do not expect others to take care of them, and when I see people ranting about how the government should be taking care of them, all I hear is “my life is miserable and I want someone else to fix it for me”. When did we become such an entitled society? It makes me so sad to see people fighting over the petty things that they are, rather than brainstorming solutions that don’t require government intervention. It makes me sad to see people becoming consumed with finding more negative things to say about each other, spending their hours looking for ways to prove each others facts to be false. It has got to be a dark, miserable, existence, to spend your days desperately seeking one more negative about the president, or his cabinet, or his opposition. This is far from one sided. We are becoming consumed with darkness as an entire society. We are being driven by unhealthy, unstable, negative emotion, rather than logic and common sense. We are pointing fingers rather than scratching our heads together. For Pete’s sake we are turning our back on our own families, friends, and neighbors, to fight for half truths that have no direct bearing on our personal lives.

I am not a cold, heartless, bitch, I am a humanitarian by nature, and that is exactly why I know that we do not need the government to take care of us. I have done so many humanitarian jobs, in so many different fields, that I am absolutely positive that it is possible for us to take care of the sick, the needy, and the down and out, without the governments help at all. We need to be accountable to ourselves if we care to make a difference in this world. We need to be accountable to our own lives, and our own happiness, if we are going to be successful in taking care of our broken and destitute. If we learned to take some of the negative energy we are wasting on blaming the government, and the people who do not hold the same beliefs as we do, and turn it into productive ideas on how to solve some of those problems on a local level, we can be the change we are screaming for. But screaming for it won’t get it done. It won’t change anything. We have to take action. We have to brainstorm solutions. Put all that negative energy into a positive action. Grow some extra garden, clean out your closet and donate some clothes you no longer care for, to a homeless shelter. Volunteer at a food bank or community kitchen. Hold a community rummage sale and donate the funds where you see fit. Whatever your passion is. Whatever you are screaming and complaining about. Find a way to get your foot in that door and start doing something about it on a community level. It will be so much more productive than bickering all day and focusing on finding negatives to back your hate. And just think, for every new non profit that someone starts, to overcome some problem, dozens more opportunities to donate your time and money and energy to making a change open up. Maybe if the government cuts some funding, we can keep some of those hard earned wages, and decide which cause we want it to go to. Do you really want the government to decide which programs your money goes to? Wouldn’t it be better in your hands? With you deciding which cause should get your hard earned money?  Do you really want to trust that they are doing what they say they will with your money? Do you really think that they are doing a good job allocating it? Wouldn’t you be better prepared to allocate that fundage if you could do a little research and decide the best place to make a difference? It is just my opinion, but I think we could do way more good with less government funding, and more personal control of how we advocate our resources.

I don’t want to talk about specific issues, I am intentionally avoiding them, but consider any one of the political issues that we face today regarding government spending, and I bet if you spent just a few minutes thinking about it, you could think of a way to support said cause without requiring the government to micromanage it for you. Take some accountability for the changes you want to see, instead of screaming at the government to be accountable for it, and I guarantee that you will see a great deal more joy and satisfaction in your life. You will sleep better at night, and you will have made a difference in the world, instead of just propagating hate and wasting your days and hours dwelling on someone else fixing all that is wrong and injust in the world. Stepping down off my soapbox now. I hope today finds you well, and that you are able to find a way to make a difference today. I hope that you, my dear reader, are not one who is focused on the negative, but if you are, I pray that you are able to see this and find a way to turn that hate into something that results in something great. No one is gonna fix this for us, folks. We must be the change we wish to see. We need less blame and hate, and more love and problem solving. More government is not the answer. More personal accountability is what will make us a great society. How can you spend five minutes making the world a better place today?

The vision

IMG_1088Good Morning my friends! Today I wanna talk about my “vision board”. I put it in quotes because for some reason that I haven’t quite identified yet, the term “vision board” is not quite comfortable for me, but I have not found the word that is, nor the reason for my discomfort with the prior. Whatever the case, it has made a profound impact on my daily approach and I want to share that with you.

I have this giant list of passions. I feel that life is too short to possibly fit all the things I want to experience in, and I have much to accomplish in this lifetime. Some of those things are optional, if I get to them, but most feel critical, before I die I must achieve as many as possible. I find that I have so many passions, that I often get caught up in one and neglect the rest, or I lose myself in daydreams about what the future will look like once I accomplish them. Its self defeating and I had to find a way to overcome it. I have been struggling with balancing my time as I work from home, try to manage the home, and start a non profit. I have Bible studies to do and beads to string and quilts to sew. I have a garden to plant and a home to maintain. I have a homestead to work on, and a start up non profit that serves several niches of people and animals that have slipped through the cracks. I have a book to write about healing and joy. I have a family and lovely handful of pets to remember not to neglect while I chase my dreams. There is no shortage of passion in my life.

The problem of having the dreams and goals of ten people, is that it can become quite difficult to prioritize, balance, and stay on track to accomplishing them all. For some time, I made giant lists. Every night. Hundreds of to-do’s. My goal was never to cross them all off in one day. I would do what I could, then redo the list each night before bed and start again the following day. The problem was that this list was never done. Ever. There was a grand lack of satisfaction with this list. Being ill for a few months has made it nearly impossible to imagine tackling a list that size, and I just ran out of will power for these lists. So, I started a new kind of list. Instead of writing what I wanted to get done, I started keeping a list of things I had achieved that day. This was brilliant. My family gets my evenings. All of them. I put away the computer, make dinner, forego any unresolved chores for the day, and just spend a few hours with them. It is a priority that fell naturally into place and when hubby sits down after work and says “how was your day?” I have a direct answer for him. I don’t forget to tell him things that I wanted to share, my list makes this time of evening so much more satisfying and pleasant. It gives me freedom to see all I have done this day and to set aside anxieties about productivity and just enjoy my family.

Still, I struggled with staying on task. I found myself looking for a quick fix,  feeling impatient about the longings of my life, and looking for an answer in daydreams. Simply longing to be doing it now, instead of what I was doing, would send me into an unproductive cycle of daydreaming instead of doing. And so comes the “vision board”. January rolled around. I was aware of this cycle of daydreaming that was holding me back. I was aware of the lack of balance in my scheduling each day, and I was desperately seeking a solution to both. Looking inside and outside of the box, under every flap, I just kept coming up empty.

I don’t make New Years Resolutions. I think that is just self defeating. If I want to make a change that badly, it should not depend on the day of the year I did something and I should not make a goal just to say I did something for New Years. I have never been a conformist. Maybe resolving not to make New Years Resolutions is just my subconscious way of fighting needless conformity. I really don’t know. But, I needed a change. Somewhere along the line I learned about these vision boards. I had always been skeptical. I mean, how could simply putting your dreams on a board really affect the outcome? Well, I  decided to give it a try. I was so sick and it was New Years week. With the holidays over and everyone returning to work, it was a good time to give this a shot. I took my time. I had a lot to organize. Just tossing it all up there on a board wasn’t gonna help any. I made a list (because we all know I need lists at this point). I drew a sketch of how I wanted to lay out that list on the board, so things could overlap and priorities could be made with the size of each section in mind. It ended up looking like a big sun, so I went with it.

And then I started my board. I got out all the scrapping materials I might want to use. I found a perfect sized piece of cardboard and I covered it with pretty paper. I put my sections on with “rays” of sun. I had eight sections in total. In the middle of it all, the center of the sun, I glued a big picture of a beautiful dream home. The rest of my goals went into the sections surrounding the center. They consisted of the following categories: God. Writing. Sewing. Crafting/Creating. Gardening. Livestock. Food preservation. And Business development,  for both my husband and I. For the next several days, I tediously cut, pasted and organized these dreams into a picture of a truly satisfying sense of my passions. Many times it just felt like I was doing more of the precious time wasting, daydreaming and longing. Making a collage of my dreams rather than chasing them. Thankfully, I was sick enough to allow it, since I couldn’t really do anything else, and the “vision board” came to fruition.

I set that board in a prominent place in my living room where I have no choice but to look at it daily. I can not believe the change! I don’t really know how to explain it, but my life looks completely different, in just three short months, and I won’t let you forget that I have been sick for the duration of it. Sicker than I have ever been, for longer than I have ever been, and still my productivity is at the strongest it has ever been. The change blows my mind. I still manage to keep the simplified pace of life that I have worked so hard to create for myself, and in many ways, this board helped to further that goal of slowing it down. My house is cleaner than it has ever been. My garden and yard are getting the care that I always want to give them, but struggle to consistently maintain. I have balanced my responsibilities between all of the dreams and goals that I have prioritized right now. I am making more progress on all of them, consistently, than I ever have before. Like everybody, I have household chores ‘nemesis’, and those are even all caught up. I find extra time for purging and decluttering, and I still have as much, if not more, down time, than ever before. My stress level is lower, and I can’t remember the last time I wasted time daydreaming on stuff I could be doing. My family has noticed, my friends have noticed. I have to be honest, that board changed my life. I was so skeptical, but I gave it a shot. I am so thankful that I did. I can’t imagine having made it this far, this fast, without it. Especially with all this mucous clogging up my brains. It keeps me on task. It reminds me. I have things to do. I have heights to reach. I can’t stop now. It helps me find the ambition to just get up and spend ten minutes on one thing, when I just really don’t want to do the tedious right now. Then ten minutes more, and ten more. Before I know it, my list of “have done’s” for the day is always satisfying by the time hubby gets home. Dinners are earlier and family time is more appreciated. I spend alot less time nagging at my family for help, and simply state the one or two things that I need them to do. The difference is astounding. I will continue to make a new board each year as my dreams are achieved and evolve. I will recommend it to my friends, and if you are even a little intrigued, I seriously recommend you try it. What do you have to lose? I lost alot. I lost a big chunk of unproductivity. I lost a huge pile of clutter. I lost the mess that used to embarrass me each time someone came in. I lost the big pile of clean, unfolded clothes that were always so hard for me to get to. I lost the neurotic, unorganized feeling. I lost a whole lot. The things that replaced the stuff I lost are exactly what I was looking for.

Are you ready to start your vision board? How can I help you? No matter what you do, have fun with it. Do a good job. You need it to motivate and inspire you so you aren’t compelled to waste time looking for motivation and inspiration elsewhere. I would love to see what you come up with!

Answered prayers

election-blog-meme

Good day, my friends! I hope today finds you well. It has been a few days since our last encounter, and my brain is just swimming with thoughts. So many things I would like to talk about today, choosing one subject is hard. Bare with me if I jump around a bit. First, a disclaimer. I did not make that meme, and I don’t know who did, but it sure feels perfect for today.

Its been kind of a rough winter here. Who am I kidding? Its been one of our toughest seasons ever. I have been really sick since December. I have tried every remedy that I can find, from conventional medicine and antibiotics, to every alternative treatment I can find. I am finally feeling a bit of relief with my last two remedies, the two I was most apprehensive to try and yet, they seem to be working better than everything else, and so, while they make me nervous due to lack of scientific backing (I like to research things before I put them in my body), I may have finally found a routine that works. Sweet Heavenly relief!

Its been an exceptionally long, harsh, cold winter for us. It has gotten so trying. Being a single income family, we can’t afford for hubby to be ill. Just two days of illness set us back quite a bit, and the challenge of heating this big old home has proven to be a lesson in patience and perseverance this Winter. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. The days are slowly warming up, and we were blessed to receive a cord of wood from our wood company, out of the kindness of their hearts. I cried with inexplicable gratitude for answered prayers this weekend. Somehow, with patience and trust, we are going to survive this winter. The end is in sight.

We spent the weekend processing wood and setting up the seedling nursery. Its time! Yay! Time to start seedlings. My all time favorite season. I used to volley between Fall and Spring as my favorite seasons, but Spring is starting to prevail, because I spend most of the winter impatiently waiting for planting time. Something so satisfying about watching those little seeds pop up out of the soil. Longing for the day I can start to harvest the fruits of these precious babies. My mouth waters at the thought of fresh garden produce.

I find myself lamenting on so many blessings, and so incredibly grateful for answered prayers. For faith and patience. I find myself wondering if any of you felt compelled to look into the ways your food is processed after my last post. Do you want to hear more about food? Do you want to hear about some of the natural remedies I prescribe to? What do you want to talk about? I find myself flooded with topics. We can talk about homesteading, simplifying and slowing down (yes, it IS possible), alternative remedies? What is in your food? I certainly don’t want to talk about politics, although I could rant about them for some time right now. We can talk about special needs, natural remedies, food processing and gardening. We can talk about crafts and sewing or homemade body products, without all the chemicals. For that matter, we can talk about the many ways to reduce the chemicals in your environment. I have so many passions, we can talk about just about anything you can think of.

I am all over the place.

Scattered.

Overwhelmed with important subjects.

What do YOU want to talk about?

What can we explore together?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and exploring whatever topics you are interested in, together. I look forward to meeting you and talking to you. I look forward to finding ways to help each other grow into the most loving, positive, joyful forces we can be. How can I help you expand your joy? I have committed to prioritizing this blog. It is time, and God has made that clear to me, so what shall we chat about? I can’t wait to see what you come up with for me. Until we meet again, much love, my friends, and may your days be filled with the loving light of God.

Where does your food come from?

Hello my friends! I hope today finds you comfortable and full of gratitude. I am thinking about food today. I am full of humility and gratitude as I thank God for the birds that we slaughtered today. I found myself in a spiral of thought about food. Specifically our relationship with our food. I wonder how much the world would change if people still had to slaughter their own food?
This isn’t the first time the notion has crossed my mind. It started with the garden. I started out as a whim gardener. I had lots of houseplants, I really loved growing stuff. I lived in a small rent controlled apartment and the best I could hope for when I started was a small windowsill herb garden. Each year my passion for growing food grew. It grew into an obsession. I went from buying the cheapest seeds and soil I could find, to an understanding of why I want to grow heirloom vegetables and the importance of quality soil. I discovered the variety that heirlooms offer, as well as sustainability. I discovered square foot gardening and lasagna gardening and raised bed gardening. I discovered how much better food grown in a garden tastes than the options available in our mainstreamed food system. I finally figured out why vegetables in the store taste so bland!
As I was learning about all this gardening business, I was also making a good friend with his own organic sustainable farm. Some of my favorite days are the ones we get to go to the goat farm. While there we are often blessed to be able to pick up some fresh eggs, unpasteurized milk, and butter. Delightful heavy cream butter. Some days he has so much milk that we get to bring enough home to make our own butter. A real treat! I learned how much differently my body responds to fresh food. To eggs straight from the coop, to fresh that day milk. I quickly saw and tasted the difference in all of these products, but what surprised me even more was the difference in how my body responded. No rumbling tummy from the eggs or dairy. No bloating or needing to run to the restroom after eating the eggs or drinking the milk. As a matter of fact. No fog, no bog. I actually could eat these foods and still feel good afterwards.
The best part though, is meeting the animals. Seeing the life they live. Knowing that they were raised happy and having met them, pet their heads, learned their names, I developed a relationship with my food. It is astounding how that changes you. The humility and gratitude that goes into seeing the life that provided your next meal. In knowing its name. My milk came from a cow with a name. My eggs came from the best lifestyle a chicken could hope for. That smoked goat? I knew his mom. If you have experience with having a relationship with your food, I am sure you understand this. As I talked with friends from the city today, and saw their response to the notion we were slaughtering our food, so many things occurred to me. One told me she would starve if she had to kill her own food. One told me she didn’t like cooking, it was too much work.
I have made no secret of the fact that I recently discovered that I have Celiac disease. I have done immeasurable research into gluten and of course that led me to a whole new world of trying to understand highly refined processed food. It is astounding to try to have a conversation with someone who does not have any education about highly refined foods. I remember being one of those people. The same eye rolls, and reasons why I could never eat a healthy, unrefined diet. Oh I wish I had listened sooner! The things I have learned would turn you off the grocery stores forever. Even organic vegetables run the risk of being contaminated with gluten, because it is used in organic pesticides. And if you take five minutes to do a quick perusal about gluten, you will never see food the same again. Plain and simple, it is easy information to find, the refined, mass produced food system that feeds our mainstream is toxic.
I find that the general population doesn’t want to know why watermelon doesn’t taste as good as it did twenty years ago. Why you can only buy orange carrots. Why all tomatoes are red. People don’t want to know that their boxed instant meals are killing them. People have no idea how bad bread smells once you quit eating it. Multiple people have referred to the smell of fresh baked bread. Little do they know that they are conditioned to enjoy that smell because they are addicted to the food. Break the addiction and it is actually a fairly repulsive odor. I can barely stand the bread aisle without gagging some days, and going into a fast food place that bakes their own bread is absolutely repulsive. Worse than the bread aisle. A smell I once thought I would die without, I now do everything in my power to avoid. When I first went gluten free, I tried hard to replace my breads. What I have found is that without the gluten, I actually don’t like bread, and it takes up so much space in my belly that I waste room for the good fresh foods I am trying to eat with it. I just don’t want bread anymore. Not even on my hamburgers. When I do find myself craving a little bread type product, crackers fill the need. The fluffier it is, the less I seem to enjoy it anymore.
So, what is your relationship with your food? The question presents itself in a day and age when society is struggling to find unity. A time when blessings are taken for granted and healthy food is a burdensome task. As I humbly thanked God for the lives of these birds this morning, I found myself wondering what would happen to society if we were all more connected to our food. What if we had to see the life drain out of its eyes? What if we had to count on the weather for our winter stores? What if we had to work with our neighbors to ensure that everyone in the community ate that day? What if we traded goat milk for eggs? And what if we had to barter with our neighbors for goods they produced and we didn’t? What if we had to survive a winter with meager pickings because it was a hot dry summer, or because a late season hail storm came through? What if we couldn’t just pop a frozen pizza in the oven and had to cook all of our food? What would happen to the dynamics of family, and community? Be honest, how many of you feel compelled to pray for your food each night? And how do you think that would change if you were responsible for the life that was feeding you? What if you had to give those chickens their scraps every morning, and build fences to keep the predators out while still allowing them ample play space? What if you had to go to sleep on a frigid cold night thinking about whether your animals were warm enough or not? Would this change your perspective of your food, and your neighbors? Would you take less for granted? Would you feel humility smack you in the face each day? What would it do to societies overall sense of entitlement, to not be able to turn up your nose and say “Cooking is too much work”? How would long hours in the sun weeding the garden, and long hot fall days canning vegetables and jam in the kitchen, change the way you see your food?
Somewhere deep in my heart, I have a notion that having a relationship with our food again would change everything. That we would have a whole new outlook on life, that we would choose different battles, and find ourselves with a whole new perspective. I believe it would increase our humility and gratitude. I think it would change our societies and communities, and I think we might see people get healthy again. This one simple notion, that you can, and possibly even should, have a relationship with your food, holds so many implications that I think it could change the downward spiral we are seeing in our world. I think it would change people to the core of who they are. I think it would strengthen communities and relationships. I think it would increase empathy and I think those are just a couple of the profound impacts. The health implications are huge. Food is meant to nourish you, not poison you. Imagine the breakthrough in both physical and mental health if we changed how we think about food as a whole. Finances would change, status would shift. The world would become unrecognizable compared to the world we live in today. Just imagine, what a relationship with your food could do in your heart and spirit, and then multiply it the world over. The changes we would see are remarkable to even fantasize at.
I hope I have left you thinking about food. Specifically, your relationship with food. I hope this rambling inspires you to think about what you are eating, and how it is affecting you. If you make one small change today, you will be surprised how different your diet looks in five years. baby steps. You cant change it all overnight. But one small change today will lead you to profound changes down the road. Today, I leave these words with hopes that you too want to find humility and gratitude and a healthy relationship with your nourishment. God bless, my friends! Until next time.
 

New property

For days I have been dying to jump on here and give you folks an update, but I am so wonderfully overwhelmed, that it is hard to figure out where to start. Lots has changed since my last post. We moved into a larger space and the business is finally really taking off. Spring is so busy around here. Getting all the plants in the garden, getting business structured for this house and set up, networking new clients and jumping through all the red tape that comes with owning a business, its keeping me busy, but the best part today is the bee’s. The bee’s are absolutely amazing. Phenomenal. Indescribably cool.  I am proud of them for making their way over the house to the pear tree on the very first day. They are so smart. The buzz that they make is so relaxing it’s nearly cathartic. The closest I can come to describing them is that it must be a tiny glimpse at what standing next to God would feel like. Senses overwhelmed with joy, there is a deep earthy scent surrounding them, like concentrated honey I suppose, and the hum, oh the hum, such an overwhelming sense of calm the hum instills. Its really just like all is right with the world and you can feel the creation in them. Amazing creatures for sure!

This wonderful new space has come with many of its own quirks. We love it here, there is a general sense of peace that we have lacked until this point. It feels the opposite of our last place. It is bright, sunny, cheerful, tidy, peaceful, relaxing and good to come home to. There is a sense of freedom with not having neighbors close by, like no one will complain about my compost bin and bees. However, there is a landlord to appease, and this particular landlord REALLY cares what the lawn looks like. Ok, I am fine with that, I enjoy doing lawncare, should be fun. Here is where things get interesting. Mowing was fairly successful, although I am using a tiny push mower to mow a three acre yard, and quite frankly, its alot more like mowing pasture than yard. Cant wait to get my hands on a riding mower, or even an industrial sized push mower. For now, we make do with what we have and hope that someone needs to replace and old one soon or something. If I was a superstitious woman I would cross my fingers, but instead I will pray pray that God hears my landlord demanding a neatly kept lawn and find a way to equip us with the things we need to keep her happy. I finished mowing half the yard, and went to get the trimmer, only to find that it is not only broken, but electric, and this house doesn’t come with outlets on the outside. Now what? How does one weed eat a three acre yard with extension cords? So, Father, please hear my prayer for a gas powered trimmer too! Lol, I feel so thankful that He has blessed us with this place, but it leaves me begging him for the supplies I need to manage it effectively. I am not picky, happy to take hand me downs it should be an easy task for Him and I together. I have received the business cards I ordered, Thank you MOM, for all your hard work on those!  Business license is in the mail, and bee’s are happily installed in their hives. Garden is long overdo for cool season crops and that is high on my agenda. Greenhouse plants are thriving wonderfully, and I really have no complaints, just blessings. I have discovered a wonderful program called Bountiful Baskets, and if it is available in your area I highly recommend you try it out. http://bountifulbaskets.org/ . I order a basket of vegetables every Monday and pick it up on Saturday. It’s a great deal. They try to include six types of fruit and six types of veggies in each basket, and there are add-ons available as well. As an average, I save approximately 30-40 dollars a week on produce using this program. My son is snacking almost exclusively on fruits and vegetables, which is a lovely change for us, and my Husband appreciates all the new foods I am making because I have new vegetables that I wouldn’t normally buy or that I would buy only when planned in a meal. I cant stress enough how lovely the program has been so far. I have participated three times now, and I am anxiously awaiting picking up my third basket on Saturday. One thing we have effectively done is learned to go to the store far less often than we used to, also a nice change. I am processing foods at home, making healthy food choices, and learning to ferment even.  I started my first batch of Kombucha last Thursday. Yesterday I was able to put up 6 lbs of strawberries and a few lbs of venison jerky. Today I am making squash chips, which I, for some reason, am having an incredibly difficult time with. They just wont come out right. Either mushy or burnt, no happy medium. I followed the very simple instructions to a T, even confirmed with a girlfriend who makes them, and she said hers turned out wonderful. Still, I am struggling through it and hoping to master the process by the time I have worked through these three squash. Any tips would be appreciated.

I am dealing with the professional aspects of being a caregiver. Of reminding myself that I have no business judging others parenting styles, that I too make plenty of mistakes. I am learning how to turn this tiny service into a business that requires contracts and medical release forms, and I am even in the process of getting my business insurance, just waiting on the call back to activate it. I am so busy that my muscles ache from lack of sleep. Still, I am happy. Pleased that I am given the opportunity, and that we found a house that suits us as well as it does.

This house is expensive. Very expensive. I am not sure how, but we manage to scrape it together every month. I do know how, Thank you Father! I look forward to a time when we are ready to look at purchasing a  place of our own, but happy to be renters for now. So much less burden than owning. I have been working on fundraising opportunities for the ranch. As small as it is, they are limited, and spreading the word is hard. I will post a couple links, and if any of you feel so compelled to vote for me (it only takes a minute), or share my funding page with others, I would be eternally appreciative! The first fundraising site that I have been using is GoFundMe. Its an online site where a person can create a site asking for help with specific items. I have raised a little money through there, and recently updated our wishlist for things we need now. The link to my site there is: http://www.gofundme.com/obn80.

The second site I am using at the moment, is Intuits WISH program, where they grant 15 people a wish for their small business. The prize is $5000 towards your wish. It would be a blessing if you would vote for me there. You can vote once a day, and they are granting one wish a day for 15 business days. 6 have already been granted. To find my page there you search for rocky mountain rescue ranch. I have been most successful finding it when using all lowercase letters. https://www.loveourlocalbusiness.com/. I also applied for a couple of grants online and of course entered the Mother Earth News drawing for the chicken coop. One can hope, right? Meanwhile, I have been keeping my eyes and ears peeled for any ranch materials and lawncare equipment that we can source almost anywhere, thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist and freecycle are all on my list of places to find ranch goodies! Yesterday I found a dog run free in someones driveway. I went to the door, explained my husband had the truck, and could we come back for it. he told me to take the free sign and hardware so no one took it, but by the time husband got back to take the panels, someone had snagged them. Talk about bummer, AND, i now have dog kennel hardware, and no kennel panels, while the person who took the panels has no hardware. Talk about bum deal! Was quite excited to have found a cage to put around chicken coop or bees to protect from predators at night. Felt that God was just handing me goodies, but it was snatched away as soon as it fell in my lap. Not meant to be I guess. Husband is doing some work for a friend who needs an air conditioner, and while we own four of them, we both hate air conditioning and have never installed them, so he may trade us a piece of lawncare equipment for an air conditioner. It would be a fantastic trade for all involved. I am living and working in a trading circuit and I love it, but I also pray hard for the financial freedom to purchase the things we cannot trade for.

I can’t get over the bee’s. I approached my husband tentatively about wanting to keep bee’s probably three years ago. I figured he would think I was nuts, and that I had enough crazy hobbies, but instead he embraced the idea, which is great, because he needs a hobby badly. Regardless, The time has come, bee’s are here. I was so excited, but from his reaction I would say that I have to give in and let the bee’s be his. Of course everything is ours, and one cannot own nature, but, he has taken to them like a bunch of babies, even named them Bob. Grin. I still can’t get over how amazing they are. How proud of them I feel when I see them do something phenomenal. Oh I wish I could put into words the calm and content they bring. I love that I can sit on my porch ten feet from the pear tree, listening to hundreds of bee’s joyfully collecting pollen from those blossoms. They don’t even notice us. The first night, they were incredibly active, and we kept a close watch on them. There is a distinctive distance you can be to the hive where they pretend you dont exist, but the minute you cross that boundary, inquisitive guards swarm you, sniffing curiously, as if to ask if I am friend or foe. One of my friends imagined it to be empowering, but I would say it is the exact opposite, profoundly humbling. We have had bees for a few days, and I am sure that we are hooked for life. Never have I seen something bring such joy to my husband, and I feel quite the same. Even my sensory challenged son, who cannot stand bugs above all else, came and hung out with us with no bee suit. Thousands of bees swarming around our heads and not one sting. Amazing! Hubby and I are borrowing bee suits from our bee mentors, but son is impatiently begging for one of his own so that he may participate in the handling of these fine critters. They are clearly one of Gods finer creations.

I give up on the squash chips. I failed that challenge and not looking back, happily. I am going to have to try something different. Nothing is working. So, in the past couple months, we have had a few challenges, but all in all, Rocky Mountain Rescue Ranch is finally taking off. We have simplified our lives greatly, and yet they are busier than ever. Loving life, counting our blessings, and facing one challenge at a time. It is so uplifting to finally see it all coming together. Until next time, many blessings my friends!

Peace and satisfaction (or daydreams of my ranch)

Hey Friends!

It has been so long! So much has happened, and so many details, that are just really not worth it. I am finally feeling the drive to write again. Lately it has been tough. Been angry about my little friends cancer, frustrated with my current home situation, and looking to get this rescue ranch off the ground. I have had a myriad of epiphanies, and we are so close to moving forward. Things are great with my family, but we are dying to move into a ranch where we can expand the business. Our current home is a money pit, it sucks so much from us in upkeep, we cant seem to save a penny to move forward. Its coming though. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The finances may finally be there for us. I had a big week of epiphanies that I am not trying to start a business. The business has been operating for quite some time now, I am just looking to expand it to a larger venue. That was a pretty big day for me.

I am fighting illness. Have had the flu twice since Christmas, and now what appears to be pneumonia. I am treating it with homeopathics and I feel quite a bit better. I am on a one track mindset to get this ranch up and running, I can see, smell, hear, feel, and taste every aspect of it. I have daydreams of in-laws at Christmas and kids in the yard. I can smell the woodstove and see the beautiful rows of jars stacked up all neatly in my pantry. Images of orchard trees dance in my head. I see rows and rows of beautiful raised beds full of tomatoes and peppers and every other veggie I can think of. I hear the cluck cluck of the chics as I take them their scraps, and I hear the hooves of horses hurrying to the barn for their grain.

I smell the dew on the early morning ground, and the coffee and breakfast in the kitchen. I see people milling around, a safe place, a social and joyous place. I look forward to feeding the masses on a big ole ranch table.

I can hear the music of the farm, wafting in the background, as I meander through my daily routines, and greet my various wards of the day. I can hear the whir of the dehydrator, and the chirp of the birds, meshing to make one beautiful song.

I look forward to the simplicity of growing my veggies, all of them, not to mention it is the end of January, and I have gardening on the brain any way.

I am making a cough syrup. No science to it really, just honey, onion, garlic, cayenne, and ginger, simmered till the onions are soft and strained. it sounds surprisingly delightful. Some say honey loses some of its health value when cooked slowly, others say it enhances it. i am not really sure either way, but I don’t know how else to infuse it quickly, so I may just try making the non cooked version over the next couple weeks, and compare. The non cooked version is impractical for immediate relief of illness. I have illness now.

As far as RMRR goes, I have made tons of headway, and going down in the next week or two to register the business officially. I have a functional business plan, a beautiful logo,and I am working with a realtor looking for a contract for deed place that we can start off in. The realtor thought that with my mission we could find someone willing to do contract for deed, which would not only guarantee a few years of rent go to the principle on my home, but also that we wold not have to move the business in three or four years when we are ready to buy. That would be ideal, here’s hoping we can work it out. It would also be in the best interest of a seller with an empty house that is not moving, as they would be generating some income off the property in the meantime.

My thoughts move swiftly these days, and now I am onto envisioning a huge sunflower patch for the birds. I never had an interest in growing flowers, till it dawned on me that they are functional, more than just pretty. So many flowers, so many uses. This dream of mine is so close to reality, it gets hard to breath sometimes. SO very soon, I will be able to say “I did it” all buy myself, as a single mom with a special needs child, I made my dreams come true. Its breathtaking to think about.

I remember fondly, how great it felt to be working hard on the ranch. It is my goal to feel as good as I did then, with the added benefit   of knowing why my child is so unique to boot. I worked hard, had great muscle structure, ate well, slept well, went to bed exhausted, with the satisfaction of putting in a good, honest, hard days work. I was hungry at mealtime, and tired at bedtime. My body felt good from working hard day in and day out, doing things that I loved to be doing. I love the way ranch life stays the same on a basic level, but changes so fluidly from day to day. One day fences, the next a paint job. It’s never dull or boring. Always something new. Such a simple sense of satisfaction in knowing you spent the day tending Gods Earth and feeding His animals. Such a great sense of achievement when you tuck the animals in for the night, make sure the gates are all closed up tight and the tomatoes got enough water. The quiet that surrounds you as you prepare to bed down for the night, the sound of the coyotes in the distance the you know your animals are protected from. It is so rewarding and peaceful. Such a great sense of simple satisfaction overwhelms, as one drifts off into deep, restful slumber, knowing full well that in a few short hours, it all starts again.

I long for winter days in front of the sewing machine, the smell of a roast slowly baking in the oven. Its all so close I can feel it, and I am at peace for the moment. It has been a long journey, getting this piece of peace, but it is a wonderful and satisfying feeling. I truly look forward to sharing the adventures to come with you. In the meantime, have a blessed evening. Rest well.