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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.

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!

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!

Be still my beating heart

I finally felt good enough to bundle up and go for a walk about in the garden yesterday. It has been a few days and there were no signs of life last time I checked, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across these big, beautiful chives having popped up while I was flu ridden. I was so thrilled, I immediately ran back in the house for the camera and my galoshers. Upon further exploration, it was confirmed. Spring has officially sprung. What a lovely treat on the first day of the new season.

My health is finally improving, the weather is warming up. Life is showing signs of renewal. What a glorious day! Spring in the Rockies can be so hard sometimes. One day its sixty degrees, the next it is spitting snow at us. Today is a spitting snow kinda day, but it can’t steal my joy. I am so thrilled to see these babies popping up everywhere!

Hubby built me a huge raised perennial bed last fall and I cannot wait to get it planted! Its going to be so gorgeous!

I am struggling with a life changing decision this week. With letting one of my passions go, and what that looks like for me in terms of failure or success. What does God want me to do? What is the right path? I listen intently for any sign of what I should do, but this one is weighing heavy on me, and I don’t want to make any rash decisions while I am feeling so under the weather. Being ill for so long has a way of clouding ones judgement, and as I finally start to feel better I find myself looking at the issue again.

The one thing that I am certain of, is that I am seeking a smaller, simpler existence. At one time this passion fit perfectly into that goal, but it has been warped and changed to a degree that it no longer fits, it is affecting a relationship that I once valued immensely, and just generally causing wear and tear on my spirit. At what point do we decide to let go of a passion that we have worked so hard for, in order to keep the rest of our passions ablaze? For me, it has to be when said issue is affecting my ability to achieve the rest of my goals, and I fear I have reached that point. I pray that I find a way to resolve this issue, without leaving a piece of my heart behind with it. Meanwhile, as the clouds fade and the sun peeks through, it is far to glorious out today to sit in here stewing on it, so off to the garden I go. Until we meet again, have a glorious day, my friends!

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?

Rain

In my unquenchable thirst for sun, I forgot how much I love rain. In particular, Spring rain. There is a heaviness about the clouds that you don’t quite feel with snow, and it is delightfully heavy and wet out right now. The clouds are heavy with moisture, but the air is light and fresh. It is a great day for getting some indoor projects done. The crackle of the fire keeps it cozy in here, while I prepare for a day of unplanned projects and decluttering. Outside the sky is dark and the cool, steady rain washes winter away.

It was kind of a rough morning. While migraines were once a way of life for me, they have not been a problem since gluten detox. However, this morning I was rudely awakened at 4 am, clutching my head with the most outrageous migraine. It took me a few minutes to wake up enough to process what was going on and how to deal with it, but I eventually found my way to the medicine cabinet and tossed back a couple otc migraine pills. Thankfully, these work great for me most of the time and in about twenty minutes the all over throbbing started to dull and I was able to go back to sleep. A couple hours later I dragged my aching butt outta bed, wondering what the heck was going on with me today. I haven’t hurt like this in quite some time. And, strangely enough, the head junk seemed to finally be improving. I will take it. Anything to get rid of this face mess.

Waking up was a slow process this morning, as I got my coffee, started the fire, and began the basic necessities for the day. I grabbed my jacket to take the dogs out for the morning potty break, stepped out the front door, and it hit me. It nearly knocked me over. The delightfully fresh scent of Spring rain is heavy in the air. Immediately my sense were awakened. I felt my heart lift, my nose perked up. Every pore of me had been stimulated. Oh it smells so good! The smell of wet forest wafting in. The smell of cool, cleansing rain. The freshness of dust forced to subside. It was glorious. And suddenly, I was awake. And I understood my ache. It is a fair price to pay. A bit of moderate exercise should loosen me right up, and in exchange I get to smell the aroma of fresh Spring rain wafting through my nose and invigorating my senses today.

The first of the seedlings are coming up in the plant nursery, and I am thrilled to get more planted today. My brain is flipping through the possibilities for today like a rolodex. I am thrilled at some of the projects I can get done. I Have been prioritizing outside time since it started to warm up, and I am quite thrilled for a good excuse to turn on some music and get through a couple decluttering projects.

My Rhubarb is starting to peek up. The rain means that my daffodils, tulips, and asparagus won’t be far behind. Some of the hardiest of the perennial herbs are starting to show signs of life peeking from the base of them, and it feels like it is finally, really here. It is safe to allow myself to believe that Spring has sprung.

I am sure it will snow again, I am sure we will have freezing days again. But rain. Rain means the ground will thaw. Rain means the end of that long, cold, dreary, harsh winter is finally passing. Rain means life can survive outside again. Rain made my day. I wish there was a way for me to capture the scent of this day for you. I am going to get some seeds planted and projects done. I hope you find a way to enjoy this fine Spring day!

 

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!

Six months!

Spring has sprung in the Rocky Mountains and the hubby and I decided to celebrate this weekend by taking a long, rambling, meandering drive through the countryside. As we were rambling through the back roads, reflecting on the renewed hope of spring, it occurred to me. What a landmark I hit this weekend. I made it to the six month mark! Everything I read when I first went gluten free told me that I would start to feel better at the six month mark, but that it takes six months to two years to get all the contaminants out of my life and out of my body. Those numbers felt like forever six months ago. At first, I felt so much better after three days, and two weeks, and a month, without gluten, that I could not imagine a profound change at the six month mark, because I had already had my profound changes. Whoa! If only I had known that those giant adjustments were just the tip of the iceberg. This weekend, I was showing my hubby the Celiac rash and how much it had changed for the better this week. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I had hit the six month mark and that was probably why such a drastic healing difference. I am sure you guys get so sick of hearing me talk about gluten all the time, but I am truly troubled by the detrimental impact that  it has on everyone, and I am surprised it is still a viable food source honestly. I was telling my friend a few minutes ago how its similar to asking for a heroin cookie for snack. And about as good for you too. Its discouraging to see so many completely dependent on this so called food source, and completely ignorant to the effect it is having on them. Even more discouraging is that the medical tests to define it are unreliable at best. So, even once someone accepts that it may be hurting them, they go to the Dr. for confirmation and he tells them, nope, no gluten intolerance, and they go right back to their old ways. There are over 200 symptoms of gluten intolerance, and I do not know one single person who doesn’t have any of the symptoms.

The most common ones I see daily are anxiety (why hasn’t anyone stopped to ask why anxiety is an epidemic these days?), headaches, lack of focus, lethargy, weight problems, and just basic minor complaints all over the body that are unidentified but most likely related. You can do a simple google search and connect almost every disease out there to gluten simply by typing in “gluten intolerance and (insert ailment here)”. You will find that just about every single ailment on the planet is affected by gluten in a negative way. The stuff is horrid. And that is just the beginning of it. That does’t touch on things like nitrates and dyes and preservatives. It doesn’t go anywhere near talking about pesticides and genetically modifying our food sources. Our food is toxic and it is keeping us apathetic and miserable and I spend my days wondering how I can do something about it, so here I am, utilizing the only voice I know at the moment, to try to get your attention. It won’t stop if the people don’t know. In the six months that I have been gluten free, I have seen a huge change in the market. I am guessing that within ten to twenty years, the gluten will have been streamlined out of our diets altogether. Much like the FDA finally released information stating that vaccines CAN cause autism, I suspect that it won’t be but a few more years until they finally admit that gluten is toxic. There is twice the gluten free food available to me in the store than there was six months ago. The transition is happening, and it cant happen fast enough.

I know people roll their eyes at me, they think I am just another faddy foodie, jumping on the gluten free bandwagon. One guy in the grocery store not long ago, told me that gluten is good for you, that it “puts hair on your chest”. I wanted to tell him that he was right, being a hormone disruptor, it probably would put hair on my chest, but being a woman, I am not sure that is what I want in my food. I think the hardest thing for me to face, aside from breaking the addiction, was the concept that people would think I was high maintenance, a faddy foodie just making life hard for dining establishments. Trying to fit in. Oh I am an eccentric. I have never cared much about fitting in, and I had a lot of shame to face in this area. Now, I shamelessly go on and on about this toxin. It is so bad for us. For everyone. And never have I found a topic that people have more excuses for. The reality is, they don’t realize that their fear comes from addiction. They don’t realize how much better they can feel, and they are terrified of a life without gluten.

It is true that eating gluten free can be quite expensive, but I have thoughts on this also. That was one of my biggest excuses too. What I found is that I buy and waste way less food, and I appreciate the food I do have way more. I have also found that as I see the market for gluten free food increase, the prices go down. I can go to the specialty food aisle and buy a gluten free brand of pasta for five dollars, or I can look in the regular food aisles and find gluten free pasta made by the major name brands for a third to half the price as the “fancy” brands. Also, when I eat healthy food, I need way less. Gluten makes us feel full, but not because we are nourished. Eating whole foods, I require much less to feel and stay satisfied.

I have had a drive to grow my own food for some time now, but being gluten free increases that drive, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I want to reduce the cost of my groceries. Secondly, the garden food is so much tastier, and thirdly, gluten is everywhere. Because it has been modified to resist pests, it is often used in organic pesticides, which makes organic vegetables a risk for me. How does one find the lesser evil when being forced to choose between vegetables that may have gluten residue on them, or foregoing the chance of contamination, and giving in to pesticide ridden produce?

And so I grow. I grow and grow and grow, in an attempt to free myself from the vicious cycle of supermarket food and having to choose which food is the lesser evil. Isn’t that sad? That I have to decide which food is the lesser evil when I shop. That God gave us food as nourishment and medicine and when we buy groceries we are weighing the contamination and toxicity factors? A quick internet search on what the Bible says about genetically modifying our food will be eye opening. God gave us perfect food, and silly humans just had to go and change it up. When will we learn that we can’t do it better than God?

Oh, it is just that kind of day. I had a lovely ending to sum this piece up nicely, when wouldn’t you know, the site started acting up. It won’t save, it lost half the post when I tried to publish, and you know, all of the lessons that go against the whole point of this post, which is really convenience. It is all about patience. All about taking a deep breath and refusing to be defeated. All about exposing convenience for what it really is. Convenience is a lie. It does a good job at pretending to make life better, but it does the exact opposite. It steals our joy and gratitude. It dumbs down the senses.

Gluten is like that. It pretends we love it. It pretends to be a good thing. It sucks us into its grips and convinces us that life would not be better without it. Convenience doesn’t make life better, it just appears to do so. When we take time to do things well, to stop and be present, to be aware what we are putting into our lives and our bodies, that is what gives us a bountiful life. That is what gives us health and gratitude. How often is convenience toxic? How often is it a sacrifice for something better, healthier, or more nourishing?

Convenience has stolen our patience, and in doing so, it has stolen the joy from so many aspects of life. Convenience has trained us all into believing that we must go faster, try harder, climb higher.

I promise you, that if you choose a less convenient route, you will find yourself more fulfilled at the end of the day. Much like gluten makes us feel satisfied and full momentarily, then leaves us feeling empty and seeking more, so will convenience. So often people talk about wanting to just slow it down. The first way to tackle that is by foregoing the quick fixes and fast solutions. Patience gives us appreciation and humility.   It forces us to be present and to do things in healthier ways rather than compromising for a quick solution.  If you want to end your day feeling nourished, start by looking what conveniences you can forego. What compromises have you made in order to “fit it all in”?

The rise of illness, especially in the mental health field, is staggering. In a time when we have so much convenience, so much technology and information available to us, how does it make sense that we are sicker and unhappier than we have even been as a population? We are divided, hateful and shameful. Killing our brothers and sisters in the streets. Taking more than we are willing to give. Blaming and shaming everyone who doesn’t agree with us. In a time of plenty, people are getting less and less of their needs met. We get out what we put in. From our food, to our behaviors, everything is a result of what we put in. If our food is toxic, out bodies will be unhealthy. If our behavior is toxic, our relationships will be unhealthy. If convenience is our defining factor, entitlement will be what we get out of it.

How is convenience stealing from you? How can you take the time to prioritize foregoing one convenience for something richer and more fulfilling today? You will find that you have more gratitude, more fulfillment, and more humility at the end of the day. You will appreciate the fruits of your labor far more when you take the time to be present and make conscious decisions about the difference between convenient and healthy. Can you trade in your highly processed existence for one that is more fulfilling and nourishing?

 

Today’s the day

Good morning everyone!

I am so excited today! Yesterday I wrote about finding your passions and identifying the obstacles to overcome them. Today, I am going to talk about one of my passions, and the obstacles I had to overcome to get where I am today. Gardening. I absolutely love growing my food. It started as a whim, to be honest. I know, I know. Yesterday I told you that you couldn’t jump on every whim bandwagon that came your way and expect success. I was never aiming for “success” in my gardening adventures. It was just a little fun thing I could do on the side of my regular life. It certainly was never meant to be a business. Even now, it is what I would call a “hobby”, but it has become a grand passion of mine. When I started gardening, it was simply for fun. Because I loved growing houseplants. I lived in a tiny, rent controlled apartment, and I wasn’t planning on growing any produce. I just wanted more houseplants. I started a windowsill herb garden. I started with the basic herbs. Basil, thyme, the stuff every pre-packaged windowsill garden comes with. I had no idea that this little garden would start the adventure that it has, and I most certainly had no dreams of homesteading yet. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was still just surviving and trying to figure out how I would persevere as a single mom with no marketable work from home skills.

It started with an herb garden. I chuckle as I look at what that little whim grew into. Had I not chased that whim, I may have never realized the passion. I quickly realized how much I love growing things. We didn’t have a garden growing up. I had no idea how much I would love getting my hands into the dirt. I had no idea how thrilled I would be about seeing those tiny greens start to poke out of the soil. And now I wanted more. So much more. But there were obstacles, and plenty of them. In that tiny apartment of mine, Spring would come and I would find myself with no available surfaces, as they were all covered with little plant babies that I hoped to raise up. I did not have an option for planting outside. A third floor apartment, a container garden even felt like a long shot, with just a few small windows, how would I get light to everything? Not to mention, gardening really isn’t cheap, and I was living on a very, very tight “budget” (hardly a budget at all, less coming in than going out). Oh, I had obstacles. I was purchasing the cheapest seeds I could find. And I mean cheap. Twenty cents a pack. I didn’t know about organics or GMO’s yet. Just that I loved growing stuff and needed to do it on the cheap. I knew nothing about raising food, and my plants did not thrive the way house plants did. Some would grow long and spindly as they sought light. Some would shrivel up and die because I over or under watered them. I had a whole lot going on in my life and these tiny plants were for fun, not livelihood, which meant they got neglected when the storms whipped up. But I did not give up.

I started dating my best friend somewhere around this time. He likes to spoil me rotten, so from there my gardening passion took off, as he would spoil me with little gifts. He loves to make me smile. He loves to buy me things, and so my garden started to grow. Eventually, we got married and I moved in with him. Out of that tiny apartment, out of the city, and into a small country home. The land was rented, and we did not have a huge garden area, but for me, it was thrilling to have a piece of dirt I could plant in. I researched tiny gardens. I researched container growing. I looked for every way I could find to maximize my planting space, and by now the gardening bug had fully taken hold. I was officially a junky, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on just one more plant, just one more, two more. How many more can I possibly fit? Hubby continued to spoil me rotten, with things like a small greenhouse for mothers day, shipping containers that came in to work would become my raised beds (and let me add that they work amazing for this). However, dirt is not cheap. Of all things, who would have thought that dirt would be the thing keeping me from moving forward, and so I started looking for alternatives. Ways to get dirt aside from the local home improvement stores. I looked at composting and lasagna gardening. We purchased a little composter. I was so excited! I was gonna grow my own dirt. Oh what a surprise I had coming. Composting wasn’t just throw crap in a black bin and wait. Ohhhhh no. It is so much more than that. And so I went problem solving again. Eventually I came to understand composting and we replaced that stupid inefficient bin with a double barrel tumbling bin. Even that bin leaves something to be desired, and my next compost pile will most likely be a pallet structure. An enclosed bin just keeps too much of the elements out, and elements are a necessary part of breaking things down. Every step of the way, every new project, provided learning experiences. I went into gardening thinking it would be simple. Plant seeds, wait. Harvest. If only you could see how hard I am laughing at myself right now.

We lived out a few years in that home, but we needed more. After all this research, I was learning a lot about seeds, soil quality, and composting. I was learning tips, tricks and tidbits to help me along. Every single season I gained more knowledge. When I started, I knew nothing. I felt like it was so much information to take in that I would never succeed, and my garden would always be a whimsical failure. I was wrong, of course, because I had passion, and I put energy into it every day. When I found my compost to be stinky and slimy, I looked it up and found out why. When I had an bug infestation, I did the research to fix it. When my first heads of cabbage grew so big that they cracked, I thought a deer had gotten into them. I did not know the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. I had so much to learn. As the years passed, I learned a little bit more each time a problem arose. I still do. I also grew a longing for so much more. I felt like I would never have the garden I dreamed of. I also had started to learn about other parts of gardening while researching all these failures. I learned about honeybees. I learned about chickens. I finally came to realize that all I really wanted was a little homestead where I could raise my food and spend my “spare” time writing, crafting, sewing, cooking, and preserving food. I discovered I have an absolute passion for dehydrating, of all things. That passion grew so big that my in laws actually bought me a professional grade dehydrator a few years ago. I have four dehydrators now, and on harvest days of Fall, you can come in to find all four running. There is something so incredibly satisfying about all the jars of dehydrated goods in my cupboards, and they sure come in handy some days when I just haven’t gotten to the market in the middle of a winter storm. One day at a time, I learn a little more with each obstacle. Its been ten years now, and I have more information about gardening than I ever thought I would acquire, and still I learn more every single season. I still have plenty of obstacles to overcome every year. Deer. Bunnies. Mice. Bugs. Space. My husband can’t build me raised beds as fast as I can fill them. We can’t purchase enough soil or process enough compost to keep up with my growing passion. Our honeybees were victims of a freak cold snap. And as I meet each obstacle, I diligently search for solutions. Some are simple, traditional solutions, but most are outside the box thinking. This is Montana. We have a short growing season. Maybe you have heard of growing potatoes in tires? Well, I tried that and wasn’t a big fan, but in the process, I learned that while watermelons are incredibly difficult to grow in the ground here, they do fantastic in a stack of tires.

So, everyday I encounter obstacles, and every day I do some research and try new things to tackle them. Some things work, some don’t, and some just defy common sense and I ignore them completely. Like vinegar for weeds for example. Any understanding of soil quality at all would quickly dismiss this simple “life hack” from your gardening plans. Boiling water kills weeds, if you must pour something on them, but use caution not to get your little babies or they die too. I find that putting plastic down on the beds after fall harvest, and leaving it there until its time to plant in the ground in the spring,does and excellent job at deterring weeds. As far as I can tell, it is impossible to completely eliminate weeds, but you can get control of them. You can also cause weeds to grow where none were before. Disrupting the soil makes the ground quite conducive to weeds, and wind and wildlife means there is no way to absolutely keep them out. And, some herbs grow like weeds. A poorly placed mint or catnip plant will overtake your entire garden. There will always be obstacles to gardening success, and as long as this passion lives in me, I will always seek a way around them.

When I started growing, I focused on herbs and vegetables. I really could not understand why anyone would waste their time with silly flowers. Again, giggling at myself. Flowers are beautiful, they are the first thing to come up in the spring as we impatiently wait for the ground to thaw. They attract pollinators, and often deter pests. I understand, and my passion grows to the flower market.

Today I consider myself an experienced gardener. It took many, many years of daily perseverance and problem solving to get here though. I hit brick walls time and time again. I dream daily of a bigger garden, a bigger greenhouse. A heated greenhouse. More perennials. More annuals. One day, one season at a time, I slowly achieve these dreams. I slowly accept that soil quality and regular watering matter. I learned about seed quality and composting. I learned how to network to find good soil, rather than purchasing it by the bag. Last fall, a neighbor rancher and friend gave us a huge load of composted manure from his horse ranch and I have a giant new perennial bed just waiting for it to thaw so I can get out there and fill  it up. I spend all of the holiday season eagerly anticipating January, when I can finally justify pulling out my seed collection and picking my crop for the year. I was incredibly sick this year, and it did not get done until the middle of February, but now I have this big box of seeds taunting me. I look at it every day, waiting patiently for it to be time. Its frozen outside. The weather is blustery, and Spring just isn’t interested in gracing us with her presence this year. I learned the hard way that getting over excited and planting before it is time will only cost you plant babies as they overgrow their seedling planters. I learned the hard way, to keep my impatience in check and wait for the appropriate time to start my seedlings.

And today. Today my friends, it is time! Over the weekend, hubby and I set up the seedling nursery. Today I get to start planting my seeds. Today is the day I have been waiting so many long, cold dreary months for. Today I start the seedlings that require the longest growing season, and I am excited! Excited in a way words can not describe. Its time!!! Its time to get some of those babies in the dirt. We set up a glorious nursery this year, and I can not wait to see how they like their new light set up! I buy very little from the store. I start  the majority of my own seedlings. Onions are an exception, because I have yet to master growing them from seed. As you can imagine, growing everything from seed (which I recently realized is not how everyone, or even the majority, does it), takes a lot of space in the days before it gets warm enough to wean some seedlings out to the greenhouse as the days warm up slowly.

So, today is my day. Off I go to the nursery to play in the dirt and seeds. I can not wait to share pics of my babies with you as they pop out of the soil. I hope you too, can find a way to bring passion to your day. See you tomorrow!