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Politics of food

Good morning my friends!

I hope this morning finds you full of blessings and joy. The Spring fever continues here, but today it seems that there may be a little sun.  What is more thrilling, however, is the lack of wind. Oh I know wind is important, but boy does it disrupt me to the core. I didn’t bring a subject to the table today. I imagine that is because politics are on my mind, and I rarely discuss politics here. I find myself needing to process some thoughts though, and this seems like just as good a place as any.

You are probably thinking, “Oh crap, not here too”. But fear not. It is not my intention to discuss the president, his cabinet or followers, or any other aspect of the current political minefield. I am thinking about other politics. That being said, it is the division in this country that has me feeling a need to process, without a safe place to do so. Anything I say that is politically charged has the potential for the negative feedback that I come here to avoid. I do think that the government has much to gain from dividing us. I do believe that the only thing that is going to unite us is a major catastrophe. I do lean a little to the paranoid side when I look around at our current situation. I have never been the doomsayer type, I tend to think on the positive side of things. That being said, this tin hat I am wearing lately is getting pretty comfortable.

What I am stuck on is the mental health side of things. I think the real problem we are seeing is a lack of mental health. Lately I have been pondering the reasons that our overall mental health is so low. As far as I can tell, this is environmentally driven. I am not talking about global warming here. What I mean is that our environments have become so toxic that is becomes difficult for people to get their basic needs met.

Food. Its such a huge issue, lets start there. We have modified our food system so drastically that it hardly seems like food anymore. The last couple of days I have seen a lot of comments on social media about children, ten and eleven years old, having full blown anxiety attacks. This troubles me so much. What is happening in our world that ten and eleven year old children have that much to worry about? Anxiety is for adults! And even the occurrence of adult anxiety has risen so much that it is clear there is at least one underlying factor. I think it starts with diet. I wanted some affirmation of this, so I asked my kid. When he was a child, I ate just like the rest of the country. We relied on a highly refined diet. For several reasons. It was how I was raised. It was all I knew. It seemed (and is) far cheaper. Convenience, and being a busy, tired, overworked single mom made this really seem like the only path available. And frankly, I was young, fairly physically healthy, and just saw the whole food craze as a foodie fad. My child had sensory issues, I lived in apartment complexes that didn’t allow for me to discover the joy that is gardening. Or so I thought. In the last few years though, I have seen the light. Over and over in all of his different therapies, people would recommend I change my child’s diet to affect his multiple neurological disorders. Of course, at this time in my life, I just felt that they had no idea how impossible that would be for me to pull off, given our special set of circumstances. Sigh. Good ole hindsight. If only I knew then what I know now. My health forced me to eat my words. Around my mid thirties, it seemed like my life went to hell in a hand-basket. I remember being a child. A teen. And watching my mom put on a pair of rollerblades. At the time I was active in gymnastics and a fairly coordinated child. Naive. But coordinated. I recalled thinking something to the effect of “I will never be that clumsy” HaHaHa. Naive is the perfect word. Let me tell you. I think I was 34 when I decided to get a pair of rollerblades to exercise my dogs, and let me also tell you that I flashed right back to that childhood moment. Only this time, I was my mom. My child was watching me flail around clumsily on a pair of rollerblades for the first time in what must have been fifteen or twenty years. Ahhhh hindsight. And this is when it hit me. I am not the young spry thing I once was, and if I didn’t get my butt on the health bandwagon, I was going to be one very unhappy old lady. I learned about walking and exercise, and I started herb gardening, but I was still totally in the dark about my eating habits, and I honestly just didn’t even think that buying whole and organic foods was even an option. My instincts told me that genetically modifying food was dangerous, but it was only instinct and emotion. I had no facts to back it all up.

In this time I had found stability, and met a fantastic man who had become my best friend over the years. It was easy to be friends, there was no pressure. We just weren’t each others “type”, and so it was easy to accept each other for exactly who we were. You know where this is leading right? I married that man. Turns out we were exactly each others “type”, we just had to grow up and figure it out. The point is, that as we went through the days and weeks and months together, we started to notice things. He had a hard job and his hands were hurting him far more than a young mans hands should hurt. I did some research and made him a homemade hand cream to help ease the pain. We started noticing other pains that seemed illogical. Gentle touches from him physically hurt my muscles. I was slowly losing focus and ambition. I was once an active social person, and while I was perfectly content and satisfied, I kept lamenting, “If I didn’t know better, I would self diagnose with depression”.  The problem was, I wasn’t emotionally depressed. Something else must be going on. All the while I was slowly becoming aware of toxins. I had started making homemade body products, and while I loved feeling like I was eliminating toxins, I really didn’t understand yet and for me it was about what I was creating. It was like cooking, or baking, or crafting. A joy. A source of fun. I still did not understand how much I would end up desiring this as a way of life. I went about my life. One day at a time, growing foggier, more sluggish, seeing all types of little aches and pains that just didn’t make sense for my age, and little by little, I learned about environmental toxins.

I am interested in so many things, that I am constantly on some kind of new learning adventure. I absolutely love creating things, from food to crafts, my interests vary greatly. I am curious by nature. I want to know about everything I can. Knowledge is power, but more importantly, life is short and knowledge allows me to get the most out of the short time I do have here. I am honestly baffled by people who are content to sit with the knowledge they have, and not have a desire to expand it. Remember a few days ago when I talked about hindsight? Well, through the years of raising a special needs child, actively seeking mental and physical health for both of us, I learned a whole lot of tidbits here and there about environmental toxicity, and it all came together for me just a few short months ago. I got my boy healthy and well adjusted. We worked hard and saw a lot of specialists, but we were living around illness, not fighting it. Recently, my husbands business partner learned that he had an autoimmune disorder and they started researching food and toxins, as he was told that diet change was the only answer to his newfound pain. This is a story that could take a post of its own. For today, lets just say it was an adventure in starvation and food deprivation as they learned how to eat whole foods on the road.

We learned about our food system. The horrors that we learned about, piled on top of the tidbits that we had already become aware of in our quest to figure out why my health was declining so rapidly. And, we halfheartedly followed a whole food diet. We were learning things about our food that were hard to hear, and harder to believe. Nitrates? Used as hog poison? Seriously? What are they doing in our food??? Dyes, pesticides, hormones, Sulphates, preservatives, emulsifiers. Not only are we poisoning ourselves, half the time it is just to make our food look nice. On top of adding all these things to our food, we are also genetically modifying it. Now I don’t care what you believe as far as creation goes, it still stands to reason that we are tampering with a system that was not meant to be tampered with. Food was never meant to hurt us. It was meant to nourish us, in many instances, even be medicine to heal us. As I set my sights on a small homestead, and started taking the steps to be more self sufficient, I also gained tidbits about the commercialized, processed, way of life I had been living. The life most Americans are still living. I will never forget the day the lightbulb came on about freshness. It was late Fall, my in laws were visiting, and I had purchased some beets to roast with our dinner. I took one bite, and I can still feel my face scrunch up. Hubby took notice and asked what was wrong. I told him the beets taste awful and asked why they were so flavorless? As the answer  occurred to him, his face turned to compassion and with a knowing grin he gently replied “Honey, these beets did not come from your garden”

And it was sinking in. I had discovered ferments and ancient food preservation. I had learned about soil quality and the streamlining of produce in the markets. I had learned about the difference in the quality of fresh farm eggs compared to store bought eggs, of any variety. Don’t go buy the expensive, fancy organic, vegetarian, store eggs looking for the difference. You won’t find it. Rather, seek some locally produced eggs, just once, and you will see the difference. You will also see that it is worth every penny of the price increase.

Back to the business partner. As the guys tried to follow a whole diet on the road, we tried to continue that practice at home, on the weekends. They learned more about food. I learned more about food. The dangers hidden in our mainstream food system were presenting around every corner now. But this was my husbands journey, and when he left on Monday, I went right back to my less healthy habits. After being gluten deprived for three days (they were on an elimination diet, and grains are not part of the first month), as soon as he left, I went on a binge. Waffles, Bagels, grilled cheese. You name it. If it was bread, I wanted some. That first night I had the worst migraine, and I started to see what gluten was doing. Though at this point I still had no idea that I would soon find out that I had Celiac disease. I believe that this halfhearted elimination is what led me there. Taking it away, then giving it back like a vicious cycle, my body responded out loud. If you have Celiac, you probably know what Dermatitis Herpeteformis is. It took me over a year to figure out what that damned rash was! I tried everything I could think of to treat the darn thing. From essential oils to medicated OTC creams. I tried everything. Nothing helped. Heat, stress, and Iodine of all things, aggravated it. When I finally found out what it was, I stopped all treatments and strictly avoided gluten. Within three days I was seeing more relief in this rash than I had seen with any previous treatment. And so, I dove into learning about gluten. Good grief! Gluten hurts everyone! Whether you realize it or not. Do a five minute search and you will be horrified at what you learn! It is in everything. It targets opiate receptors. Your reluctance to be learn about gluten, that comes from physical addiction. We have overdosed ourselves with gluten. Some studies say it is due to genetically modifying it. Some say it is the pesticides that are found on it from the farming practices. I suspect it is a little of both. Think about it. comfort foods are typically baked goods. Why do you suppose that is? Go look for yourself, don’t take my word on it.

Our diet has changed drastically, in the form of tiny baby steps. One day I learned about ferments. One day I learned about fresh eggs. One day I learned about streamlined produce, and slowly, with baby steps our diet changed. Unrecognizable from ten years ago. After seeing multiple comments on Facebook this week about children having anxiety attacks, I started thinking about what could be causing this. My own child was diagnosed with severe anxiety, but I chalked it up to his other neuro disorders, and his dad being gone. He had a fairly stressful childhood as we both battled for stability. Never really thought much about it until recently. So Last night, as I was dwelling on this, I asked him if he had noticed a difference in his anxiety levels since our diet changed. He is an adult now, and no longer on anxiety meds, and his answer was still yes.

This is the tip of the iceberg. We live in a fast paced society, where convenience is equated with success. I was going to write about basic needs, pace of society, and diet. I was going to write about how technology has affected our perspective of convenience and instant gratification. I was going to talk about exercise, wiggly kids and heavywork. I had a lot of environmental issues in mind as I started this post. However, I think that the topic of food has taken enough of your precious time. I keep going back to the food. I think our food is a major component in the lack of physical and mental health we see today. Peoples basic need for real nourishment cannot be met in this toxic food system. Maybe food is enough for today. It is a big topic. Maybe you will feel inspired to look into it a little. Maybe you will look up just one preservative or one dye to see how it is affecting you and your family. I think I will save the other environmental toxins for another day. Today, I hope you humor me, and go learn one detail about where your food comes from, and what might be being added to it. You just might find yourself inclined to take a baby step. Alternately, for a fast glimpse at the streamlining of our food system, take a gander at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed web page for an idea how little variety is left in our mainstream food. It may shock you to see the variety you are missing out on. At very least, it is fascinating to see some of the produce that you never even knew existed. I love reading the stories about where some of the most unique seeds come from. Who knew? Certainly not me. I hope I haven’t bored you with my food system rant. I hope you feel inspired to learn something new today, and I hope you will join me tomorrow, as I try to dissect some of the environmental issues that are causing such a breakdown in so many people. Have a most blessed day, and eat something healthy!

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Commitment/Hindsight

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So I have made a commitment to you, my friends. I made a decision to put my gift of words to use and make a point of staying consistent with it. I promised you that I was going to be here, sharing uplifting words and insights with you, on a consistent basis. Well, it only stands to reason that after a commitment like that, my normally overactive brain, decides its time to go blank. I have spent two days wondering what on Earth to write about. Now if you know me at all, you know I love to research. I have a host of knowledge on all types of subjects, and can learn about any subject I don’t know. I had considered just picking a topic out of the bag and doing some research and doing an essay type entry for the day, but that didn’t sound appealing either. In the end, I decided to just come write and see what God has for me to say today. I decided I would ask you what you want to read about? What topics do you feel compelled to think or learn about right now?  I fit in the “Jane of all trades, master of none” category. This used to be bothersome for me. It made me feel like I had no skills that were marketable. That there would always be someone better at every skill I had and  that I would always come in second best or mediocre with my talents. It is a good thing I am not very competitive. In retrospect, I see all kinds of value in this very defining personality trait, and especially as I get older and come to realize what I really want out of life, this is a blessing, but it took hindsight and healing to see that.

Hindsight. What an amazing tool it is! Hindsight helped me heal more than any other single factor. When I was able to look at the obstacles I had overcome. As I look back at those oh so difficult days, I am reminded that hindsight is the tool that helped me to trust God more than any other tool I could find in my extensive bag of tricks. Let me back up a little bit. I, like most of you, had a few really trying issues to face in my childhood. As a child, I hid behind a smile. Behind the gift of finding the bright side. I always told myself, and others, “I have a roof over my head. I have clothes on my back. I have food in my mouth. I have a family that loves me. I am warm. I am not beaten. I have it better than a good portion of the population of the world” I smiled big. The more I hurt, the bigger my smile. Crying. that wasn’t going to work for me. Self pity. No thank you. I lived behind a mask of denial. Little did I know that those tools for finding excuses to not hurt would end up being some of my greatest gifts later in life. Oh I would have to move mountains to see the blessing in them, but for my youth, they were just the coping skill I needed. Unhealthy at the time, but today, one of my most abundant blessings! I knew how to choose joy all along, I just didn’t understand how the tool worked and instead of using it properly, I was using it to hide from healing.  I spent years in therapy, learning to fill my tool shed with new, shiny, well oiled tools. Ones that would prepare me for any breakdown. Ones that would allow me to fix any malfunction in my life. I learned about faith, patience, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude, but not in that order, more like, little overlapping bits, all at once. I learned about intention and about being able to choose my joy. All the tools we need to sustain lasting contentment. But hindsight is the one that made trusting the process possible.

Hindsight was the tangible. The rest were just theories, but hindsight proved that they were true. That childhood of convincing myself I had it so much better than so many others, well, that backfired when I hit 19 and ran away to another state. By this time I had started dabbling in some less than savory behaviors and  the unchecked shame that had been building in my youth was in full control of my emotions. At 19, my world turned upside down and inside out. A combination of things affected my emotions and for the first time, I was officially depressed. I had no idea yet. I just thought, “poor me! I got a really crappy deck of cards”. I also started an oral contraceptive at this point in my life.As a disclaimer, I believe that this oral contraceptive played a huge role in the drastic change in my personality and behaviors at this time, but I would not make the connection until years later, when I was 36 and stopped taking birth control. This is a subject for another time. I feel strongly that tri-cyclic oral contraceptives mimic bipolar disorder in many women, and I have a few reasons for believing this, I just don’t know who you talk to about getting this kind of study done, and neither did the doctors and mental health professionals whom I discussed it with.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I think my birth control pills caused this issue, just that they forced it to the surface where I couldn’t hide behind that big old smile anymore. I spent the next 15 or 16 years wrestling bipolar disorder. Depression, and all of the emotions that come with this diagnosis. I searched for fulfillment in all the wrong places. I projected and blamed others for my misery. I asked “why me” a billion times over. I did not have God in my life, and from the little I learned about Him as a child, I didn’t want or need Him, or more judgement, in my life. I became a single mother. I moved halfway across the country away from all those people and places I believed were making me miserable. I jumped from one whim obsession to another. I cried and blamed and asked “why me” when each of those whims failed. When life hit me hard, I raged on the phone to anyone who would listen. I cried. I screamed. I used all the “but, can’t won’t” excuses I could find. Such a shame looking back, I was awful. I had no idea. No one told me I could change this. Well. I take that back. Alot of people told me I could, they just didn’t teach me how. When you are in a broken cycle of shame and self destruction, and people tell you that happiness is a choice, but don’t teach you how to choose it, you just think they are an ignorant person who is clueless to your very real life struggles and that it desperately feels that you have no control, how could you possibly force life to give you joy.  In a way, it helps to perpetuate the “can’t, but, won’t” attitude. I lost so much respect, so many potentially great relationships, over people telling my that happiness was my choice, and then not showing me how that was possible. They were all “idiots” who had no idea what it was to be a broken single mother with a special needs child and no marketable skills. They were clueless to my plight. At least, that is how it felt at the time. Today, I would not call them idiots, or judge them at all, because I have learned that acceptance is critical in choosing joy, but I would advise them, if you are going to tell someone that happiness is a choice, don’t say it and turn your back to walk away. Teach them what that phrase means instead of just sounding like an unempathetic fool who doesn’t “get it”. To someone who doesn’t have the tools to choose joy, that is exactly how you come across. Condescending and haughty. “Joy can be yours too, if you just choose it”. Clearly, a person in this state of mind does not have the tools to choose it, or they would be doing so. This kind of advice with no follow up just feels like judgement and lack of understanding, to the person who does not have the tools for choosing joy.

But I digress. We are talking about hindsight today. Understanding the journey is an important part of hindsight. You have to just imagine some of the trials I faced as a single mother, with a special needs child, facing dropping out of college, bipolar disorder, and poverty. Most days it felt the world was out to get me, and that nothing would ever go my way or be on my side. I overreacted to every tiny detail of my life. I had no idea what patience was, or that I could be the change I wanted to see in my life. Here I was, in low income housing. A disgusting, gray, poverty stricken, moldy, housing complex. I was surrounded by people with habits at least as unhealthy as my own, many much less healthy than even my pathetic self was. There wasn’t anyone around to show me what healthy looked like, or how to attain it for myself. I struggled through one day after another. As I left school, I found myself without a source of income and somehow, just at the perfect time, God opened a door for me. I didn’t realize that it would forever alter the course of my life. It was a foreign world. One I had never dared to even peek into before. I took that ranch job 26 miles from home because I didn’t think I had any other options. Little did I know, that it was God intervening. It was God saying “It is time for you to see me, my darling child.” Don’t get me wrong. This didn’t happen overnight. I spent years in that barn with my mentor, crying over the wrongs and injustices of my poor pathetic life. And he was so patient with me. He didn’t shame me. He did not judge me. He did not condemn me. He gently guided me with patience, understanding, empathy, and I am sure a plethora of prayers that I never heard him utter. He may never know how truly grateful I am to him, for showing me what a spirit in love with Christ looks like, and for showing me that the God of my childhood was not the reality of God at all. For his prayers for my salvation. I had rejected God for one reason. He was not rational. The God I was introduced to as a child was presented as a hateful, mean, judgmental creature, much like I imagine the enemy to be. I was not willing to embrace that God. But this God. The one my good friend was showing me. Not telling me about. He obviously told me some things about God, but it was his behavior and demeanor that showed me the truth about God. I pray that God rewards him when he gets to Heaven. That man saved my life! By being a shining example of Gods love, he saved me from myself. He opened my heart and made it possible for me to receive Jesus and forgiveness. Its all a new book from there. Day in and day out he patiently dealt with my ugliness, because, I imagine, that is what God told him to do. I don’t know that he will ever realize how much he changed my life, or how thankful I will always be to him for that. I have told him, in the best human words I can find, but the gratitude goes so far beyond what words can say.

And we finally get to hindsight. After a few years of this man’s mentorship, I started to think that maybe I could have this joy? Maybe I could be enough for God? Maybe God wasn’t punishing me for being alive after all? Maybe God didn’t think I was awful? Could this be real? Oh I wanted it to be. I felt the longing in my heart to be good enough for God. I slowly let my guard down. I finally found the courage to step through the doors of a church. I was scared. I was timid. I hadn’t told a single one of my friends. I went out of necessity. A bargain I made with myself out of a desperate need for financial assistance, I made an excuse to take myself to church three times before I would turn to them for help. It is hindsight that allows me to see how I was pulled through that door. I loved what I found. A whole congregation of people who were trying to emanate this spirit I had seen in my mentor. A thing I had only once seen before in my life, in my grandma, that I was too young and lost to recognize at the time. A simple, loving desire, to love because He first loved them. Tears well up as I get to this part. As I think about that overwhelming love. As I remember back to the day that I gave Him my heart and soul and desperately, quietly hoped that He would accept them. Hindsight. On the day I was saved, He gave me a gift of hindsight. He showed me how every obstacle was indeed a blessing. That the bigger the obstacle, the more He was preparing me, gifting me, leading me the way that He wanted me to go. I had no idea I was already fulfilling my mission on Earth. I had no idea I was developing a set of skills that would prepare me for His exact assignment for me. He showed me how He allowed me to feel lost in the dark over and over again, so that I could understand the light, and most importantly, I realized that He had been beside me the entire time, I just wasn’t looking for him. I often find myself telling people ” God will carry you through the dark, but He resides in the light, and to see Him you must turn to it”. You can not dwell on the darkness, and expect to see light. You must open the door to it. He won’t leave you in the dark, but you have to choose to turn to His light. What I saw, when I opened the door to light, was hindsight. It was every time that I thought I was on the edge of falling into the deepest chasm you can imagine, always, at the last minute, something grabbed me and held me from the plunge. I always managed to get by. I always managed to have a warm home and food in my belly. Somehow, against all odds, I always managed to come out of those extremely emotional battles, and survive to fight another day. Time and time again, He let me feel the brink of destruction and pulled me back just in the nick of time. Little did I know that this was a blessing. That every trial He allowed me to face was a gift. That He was teaching me, so that I could teach someone else, what hindsight is. How it allows for trust. How it allows us to see every burden from a different perspective and how it teaches us to trust Him. He let me stumble. He let me fall, just like any good parent would. He let me learn the hard lessons that all children need to grow, and He was right there to kiss my knee when I stumbled. Pick me up when I fell. He never let me face it alone. Even if I couldn’t see Him, He was right there, opening doors for me before I walked smack right into them. And on that glorious day when I opened my eyes to Him, He showed me with hindsight, that He had always been there, waiting for me to open my eyes to Him. That all along He had been blessing me. Carrying me, opening doors and paving paths for me. This hindsight taught me many things, but most importantly, it showed me that I could always trust Him. That even when it hurts, He has a reason, He is still here, and good will come from it. Ultimately, He taught me with hindsight, that burden is our biggest blessing, that our most important gifts come in packages that look like a four year old wrapped them. With struggle. Messy. But beautiful. Too much tape in one corner, not enough paper on the back. The messier the wrapping, the more precious the gift. God showed me, with hindsight, that I could always trust Him to pull me through, and that the messiest packages will hold the most precious gifts. This is how hindsight helped me to heal. To trust God, and to find patience in the darkest of days. I now see my burdens as gifts that I can’t quite recognize yet, but I know that as I come through them, and get some hindsight, God will once again reveal the beauty of His ways to me. That feeling is priceless. It allows me to face situations calmly. Rationally. Without shame and worthlessness. Patiently. The tools for joy overlap and reinforce each other. Hindsight really makes a profound impact on patience, as well as all of the other tools for choosing joy. Hindsight made it possible for me to trust God. I know that I could not have this lasting joy and contentment, through the daily ups and downs, without trust for God. I am full of gratitude for hindsight, and for the gift of understanding what it means. I cannot imagine a complete, functional toolshed, without a nice sharp “hindsight” in it.

So, it looks like I found some words today. I knew they were in there somewhere. I hope your day is full of hindsight, and the wisdom and calm it brings as you meander through your routine today. I pray your day is full of peace, contentment, and gratitude as you ponder the blessings of your burdens. Much love, my friends. See you soon!

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!

Faith. Patience. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

I have a confession. I have found the key to happiness. It is such a simple concept, and yet, so hard to wrap your mind around. Today, I feel compelled to try to put it out there, and if just one persons grasps it, I am content. I have spent years, searching for answers, healing past hurts and traumas, seeking therapy and soul searching. I have explored many spiritual outlets, I spent many years as an unhappy single parent to an undiagnosed special needs child. I went from being the most responsible 16 year old you ever met, to being a complete failure as a parent and woman. I hit rock bottom. I blamed others. I looked at others behaviors and said things like “I am a better person than them, so why am I doing so horrible and they get all the breaks?” Guilty as charged! I also believe deeply in accountability for oneself, and while I am not proud of my behaviors and judgements and blame, I also own my responsibility for it. I sought redemption from myself at every intersection, in every doorway. I saw many, many therapists. Two of whom made big impacts with little statements. I have talked about these life altering statements before, but have never put them all together in one sentence. I was talking about a friend today about Faith, Patience, Acceptance, and Forgiveness. I was like, “can’t you see, its the key to happiness?” I decided it needed to be processed further, and here we sit. I truly believe that anyone who can deeply grasp these four concepts can find true, peaceful, contented, happiness. When you truly sit back and evaluate the people in your life who are happy, you find find that they have things in common. It is not money, a bigger house, more or less kids, a nicer car. It is far less tangible than that. I hope to help you define those attributes that a genuinely happy person consists of.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have good days and bad. What that means is that I enjoy the blessings and trouble free days more than I ever have, and even though I still have “weather” in my life, I am content that I will survive the storm, and when it is all said and done and I look back at the damage, I will have wonderful things to show for it. What I am trying to say is that I have peace. That no matter what happens, I am at rest in my spirit and soul. I know that this too really shall pass and I am going to come out better for whatever turmoils I face. I know that I am cared for and loved. I understand how to validate rather than control people. I have learned how to accept people for who they are, and that they are only using the tools they have. You cannot expect any more than that from someone. Clearly, the secret to happiness is a hard subject, and I keep wanting to get distracted, take a little side road, but those side roads are irrelevant, as they come naturally with learning the key to happiness. Bear with me as I try to stay on a straight path here.

Lets just start with Faith. It took me years and years of hard legwork to find the pieces of this puzzle, that when assembled, equals happiness. I hope to save you some of the work. You have to be open to Faith. Faith is key. I am a Christian. I studied many faiths, and this is the one that fit for me. One part of me feels obligated to tell you that Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIGHT, but the part of me that deeply understands that journey, will not let myself push that on you, so just understand this. Having FAITH, it gets you through. It helps you understand that you are not alone, that you are loved, that you have an army at your side, that no matter how low you feel, how alone it may seem, how misunderstood you may feel; someone, something, somewhere, gets it to the core. It gives you strength, vision, drive, and desire to please and live a good, honest life. It holds you up when you cannot hold yourself. Wherever you find your faith, you won’t find happiness until you learn to trust it completely. You have to one hundred percent fully submit yourself to it, trust it, and let it be your light. Without Faith, you will struggle to achieve the other three goals.

Which brings us to patience. Patience, as anyone who owns an ounce of it will tell you, is completely dependent on Faith. It is like a ragged board that takes years and years of trials, tribulations, errors, and mistakes, to sand smooth. It is often difficult  even for those most practiced in it. It is the ability to let go and just believe that it will be ok, that this too shall pass. It is the knowledge that everything works out with time. That there is a grand plan and it you will get there. Patience gets us through tragedy, heartache, and loss. It gets us through joy and festivity. It is difficult to sit and wait for this feeling to pass, for that joy to come. It is human nature to want it NOW! Teaching ourselves how to breath through it, how to slow down and take a long look at it, will save us so much frustration and energy. Being able to let the anxiety go and just Accept that things will work the way they are supposed to, or that your child will eventually go to bed, or that that job will come when it is supposed to, that is all a part of Patience  and in order to have patience, we have to have Acceptance.

Acceptance of what is, what has been, and what is to come. Acceptance of everything that is real. We have to accept our Faith, wholeheartedly, believe we will be taken care of by our greater good. We have to accept the mistakes that people in our lives have made, and realize that all we can work with is the tools we have, and we all have different tools. We have to accept that our crimes are no more or less heinous than our neighbors and mothers and fathers, only different. If we all had the same tools, and lack thereof, imagine the chaos in the world. It takes all different types of tools to get all different types of tasks done. It certainly takes different tools to be a banker or doctor, than to be a respite care provider or dog handler, and with each tool, you have strengths and weaknesses. Sure you can pound a nail with the back of a wrench if you have to, but it would be so much more efficient to use a hammer. In the same sense, good luck adhering a screw with a hammer. It could probably be done by force, but it causes way more stress than using the appropriate tool. People are the same. Each has tools, and all tools have uses, some work better than others for certain tasks, but none is more valuable than then next, depending on the task at hand. Asking a banker to handle special needs kids is like asking a dog walker to run a bank. The sooner you understand that we are all doing our best with the tools we have, the sooner you will truly and deeply understand Forgiveness. When you have Forgiveness, you have completed the puzzle, and every relationship in your life will thrive. You will find peace and contentment no matter what storm is brewing. You will know that your shelter will keep you safe from the storm, and that you have the appropriate tools to clean up the mess afterwards. You will find genuine happiness.

Forgiveness is HARD! Forgiveness is such a simple concept, that I think we spend all day overthinking it. Forgiveness doesnt come with “buts”. “I have forgiven him BUT…”. It doesnt come with blame. It doesnt come with anything but acceptance of the offending action. It is a sensitive but important subject. Lets talk about moms. In my understanding from therapy, and from what I have observed working with people, it is natural to blame our moms. Mom is hard, its sensitive. Dont get defensive and Say BUT MY MOM REALLY WAS …… whatever it was that you think she did to you. Your mom loves you!  No matter what mistakes she made, no matter how many failures. I PROMISE you, she loves you. She may hate herself, but she loves you. She did her best. She worked with the tools she had. She never, ever wanted to fail you. It was not once ever a dream of hers to let you down. Forgive her, she is only human! Accept that she worked with the tools she had. Every mother, every father, every single human being on this planet, makes mistakes, and works with the tools they have. We all strive to be good people, even those who are not perceived that way. When someone fails at doing morally “correct” (from OUR perspective), it is because, sometime, somewhere, a tool they desperately needed, failed them. Accept them, have compassion for whatever on Earth it was that could have gone wrong to perceive that behavior as ok. Question your own perspective. Is your moral solid, maybe you are judging someone for something others find completely acceptable.  We are all different. We all have certain size tool shed, some better equipped than others. Let others have dull tools, and you will feel more compelled to help them sharpen, and less compelled to condemn them. When you accept peoples actions and behaviors intrinsically, forgiveness comes naturally.

There are, of course, little details that come naturally in the developing of these habits, that fit in the puzzle, but focusing on them is not pertinent, as they will come naturally as you grasp the former. Empathy, understanding shame and validation, letting the little things go, are all examples of skills you will naturally grow, as you travel and explore the road to happiness with only those four directional signs. You can see how one naturally leads to the other, and how it is an impossible puzzle if one piece is missing. I encourage you to think about these things with an open mind. Allow them to grow in your heart and in your head. It only takes a seed of faith to grow a tree full of life. Start with Faith and allow yourself to breath the fresh air of relief that comes with this journey! May you find many blessings along the way!

Ahhh, my friends, Fall is here. Well, this feels more like Winter, quite frankly. It has been snowing almost all week, and been quite beautiful at that. I have enjoyed every single flake that I have seen fall. There is so much going on, and I have been absent this last few days, but I found a moment to take a deep breath, and so, here I am. I had my eye on a place, and was feeling quite apprehensive about it, despite the fact that it was perfect for our needs. I had asked for them to work with me on a move in date, for Dec. 1, but she really wanted to rent it by Nov. 1. I knew we would not be ready by then, so I told her that if it was available on Dec. 1 we would take it, and if not, we would find something else. Today, I very apprehensively checked the rentals section, afraid that I would be devastated if it had been rented. Much to my surprise, when I looked and it was not there, I felt a huge sense of relief. Not only do I not have to worry about coming up with nearly 4000 dollars for December 1, but the Holidays are a terrible time to move, and ideally, January 1, would be a great move in date. I don’t believe in New years resolutions, but I do believe in new beginnings, and how fitting would it be to start the rescue ranch the first of the new year? Shocked and overwhelmed at the sense of relief that I have, waiting till January First, and oh, how pleased my husband will be to find that we dont have to move during the holidays. I have until January first to tie up some loose ends, and that is also a huge relief, plus, I just cannot packing this place up in a month, I just cannot fathom doing that, on top of everything else I am doing. We have a spay/neuter event on Nov. 10, that I am an on the planning committee for, and I have a potluck for my little friend with cancer tomorrow. I also have all this RMRR stuff I am trying to do, and a cancer awareness cookbook, and a few other fundraising type things. Good heavens. I feel like never in my life have I been attracted to technology, but never in my life, have I wanted a piece of equipment so badly. I feel a need to buy a tablet. Silly, I know. I have three different committees that I am on, a lot of meetings that I go to, and clients that I need to be able to bill on the go, and I am feeling like a tablet would go a long way in helping me organize it all, and keep it portable. I also have my Bible study to move forward on and well…its all a lot of details, really. Needless to say, I have been busy. Very, very busy. I definitely feel that it would be a business expense, but I am saving every penny, so I can get us into a ranch. I have made do with paper and pen this far in my life, never even really wanted anything but paper and pen, but dang, my binder has a lot of stinkin sections…its not very portable anymore, and well…you see where I am going with this. Anyway, I just might do it. Have to talk it over with the hubby, but I think it makes actual sense.

I have a lot on my mind with three non profits on my plate, and one just waiting in the wings for me to make time for them. I have business licenses and other connections to make. I have a whole lot of details going on. I am trying to do many, many things with my time, and my brain cannot see a list. It sees three lists, swirling around atop and below each other. A tornado of lists, if I may. I have tried to list them all, but the papers just stack up and I cant remember what I have written and what I still need. How do I get all of these details organized?

Once I get the three non-profits organized, I reach a place where I start thinking past them, to what comes after the event is established, and again find myself with a barage of details. Primarily with RMRR. I feel that as soon as I find a place, I need to start planning the respite and foster programs. I need to have everything in place for those to start right away, I need to plan the gardens and farmers market programs, quickly, cause planting is in march, at least for seed sets. I need to plan the RMRR store, and resource programs quickly also. Chickens won’t be far off, once spring rolls around it will be time to get them going. It feels like the next six months is going to be a blur, and yet, I have been waiting so long for this  that I am just as thrilled and patient as can be. Mostly, I am probably just too overwhelmed to be impatient. I can only assume God is using this opportunity to teach me how to juggle the many non-profit programs of my own that I intend to build. I finally found the courage today to make a phone call that I have been dreading. Nothing scary about it at all, I just couldn’t make myself call. Feels good to have faced that beast, and it turned out to be the kitten I thought it would be. Phew, check one more big one off the list.

I have this series of ideas I want to blog about. I learned a lot in therapy, and I think that a lot of people would be alot happier, if only they could grasp a few of these concepts. I also have some ideas about God and the Bible that I would like to share, some unique perspectives, I suppose. I feel as though I should do a “therapy” series. Maybe a “God” series. I certainly feel as though I should blog about some of the more important lessons I learned. A post specifically about being a “special needs mommy”. I always talk about my special needs child,a nd my special needs clients, but never do I talk about the ways in which I relate with these children, and I would like to explore the dynamic that happens when you learn just how easy it can be to “mentor” a special needs child when you understand treating people as individuals and letting go of expectations. I want to post about blame, and shame, and how we all like to think its “mom’s fault”. I would like to blog about shame, expectations, and codependency. I want to talk about the tools we have, and the “lizard brain”, or amygdala. I want to share a concept that was shared with me, and one that I heard someone repeat the concept to, in a very simple way, and how we all have different perceptions. I want to write a letter to all of the folks that I know who are fighting and fighting against simple, honest, real answers. To those who refuse to see whats in front of them, to the “can’t, won’t, but” folks out there. I want to make a plea for Jesus Christ, to those who have been shown, in such a misrepresentative way, what bits and pieces of the Bible say. I want to do so without condemning any organized religion. I want to talk about what it means to love Jesus,and quite frankly, a tiny bit of the anger of the denomination I was primarily raised in, well, that comes through, and I don’t wish to offend anyone. I want to talk to you about health, food, exercise, and a natural way of life, the way God intended.  So much I want to talk with you all about. Where does one start? What do you all want to read about? What are you curious about? Well, friends. Today, you can see, my mind is in a flurry. There is much that wants out, and the avenues for release are scarce at the moment. Until next time my friends…may your thoughts be organized and your days be blessed!

Co-dependency

Ahhh…..

What a relief yesterday ended up being. In my crabby post yesterday, I spent a good deal of time complaining about helpless people. I actually had a really great, and enlightening day yesterday. I talk every once in a while about things a therapist has said to me. It is no secret I spent many years in therapy. I am not ashamed. Should I be? I don’t think so. Yesterday was a codependency focused day for me, and I have a lot of insight to share today from it. Bear with me if this gets a little drawn out. I have battled codependency my whole adult life, and I assume most of childhood, although I didn’t recognize it. I tried therapy a few times, but they just gave me meds, some of which made it way worse. No one ever called it codependency, until much later. It was called bi-polar disorder. It started when I was 19. One day I woke up, realized that I had had a hard life, and that I had never once cried about it, and man did that open a floodgate. It took years to get that floodgate closed, but I finally did, with the help of two very special therapists, and Jesus. Oh, yeah, and getting off the tri-cyclic birth control. I would like to take a minute to say something VERY IMPORTANT HERE.  If you are on a tri-cyclic birth control pill, and have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, consider stopping them right away. Most likely that is what is causing your problems. It took me forever to figure it out. I started on a very popular birth control pill when I was 19. I have easy cycles, never a problem, and other than realizing I had bi-polar disorder, nothing significant happened. So, a few years back, I stopped taking birth control, and ALL of the symptoms of bi-polar disorder went away. I mentioned this to a friend, and she made the comment that she noticed she didnt need her bi-polar meds any more either, but hadn’t put it together with stopping birth control pills, but that after thinking about it they directly coincided. Here is my thought on the matter. Bi-polar disorder is when you cycle through abnormally strong emotions really fast. One week, manic happy and productive, one week maybe just blahs, and one week severe depression. A therapist explained to me that people have daily “weather”. Normal weather patterns change a little from day to day, but they never go from blizzard to monsoon. Bi-polar emotions go from blizzard to monsoon in moments flat. I think, and I am not a doc or a research scientist, but here is the logic for me. Tri-cyclic pills are three different hormone levels, then a hormone free week. Lets look at the pregnant lady for a classic example of what messing with hormones will do for a persons emotions. I am guessing, that as the hormone levels change each week, they affect our moods drastically, and mimic bi-polar disorder. If anyone out there is a research scientist, I would love to see this study done. So much bi-polar in the world would likely be solved if not for the hormonal birth control pills. Or, at least, if people were diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, they could try removing the hormones before just accepting that they are mentally unhealthy and spending a life in therapy trying to get control of something that could be avoided altogether, or spending years taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers to offset the effects of the birth control? So, how does this affect my post on co-dependency? Well, in a bi-polar cycle, you are not thinking healthy things, and that just made my co-dependent behaviors that much worse. Not only was I co-dependent, I was emotionally crippled.

So, emotionally crippled, and the young adult emerging from a broken nest, I started my journey. Oh dear. What comes next is twenty very ugly years of me fighting and fighting to regain a sense of the self I lost to that tattered young soul. I did my rebelling and experimenting, I may as well be real about it. I am not ashamed of what I have done in my life. Some of it, I might do differently, given the chance, but I am not ashamed of it. I stumbled through my teens and at a young twenty something, I decided I wanted to be a single mom. Deep in my heart, I knew it was wrong, and I had no idea what was driving this desire. I took it up with the two women I admired the most, and both got excited and said “if anyone can do it, you can”. I went home baffled. I remember thinking “what? No one thinks this is a bad idea? ” I swear I was dying for someone to tell me what a bad idea it was, but nobody did. I went home, got rid of the very great boyfriend I had, and went on a search for the biggest loser I could find, hoping to get a baby, and that the man would leave before it was born (ridiculous, I know, but I was young, dumb, and emotionally compromised). Just to be fair, I did tell the man I wanted a baby, we made the decision to try together, and I did try to make it work with him. As an adult, with a nearly grown child, I understand all of this better now, but it was not till years later when I made a comment to my very “mature” Christian mentor, that I didnt know why I chose to be a singe parent, and he looked at me in utter confusion and said “you don’t?” “I do”. He then proceeded to tell me to look at how the men in my life had treated me, and how, no wonder I would not want one in my child’s life. I have never been the type of person to say that because one or two men hurt me, they are all bad, but clearly my subconscious thought that somewhere, and how incredibly intuitive of my mentor? Understand quickly, that I have been sexually offended by several men in my life, as a child, before I ever even knew what sex was. Again, not my fault, and I am not ashamed of what others did to me that I could not control. People tend to get all sorry for me when I tell them what happened in my childhood. Please don’t. I don’t feel sorry for me. Every single thing that happened was a lesson to turn me into someone who can do wonderful work for God. Everything happens for a reason, and I would not be this girl that I respect and admire today if not for my hardships, and we ALL have hardships. I think yours were as hard as you think mine were. It was ultimately the therapy for my sons special needs that got me where I needed to be. And on that note, you can learn all the healthy behaviors you need to deal with any human being at all, if you just learn what a special needs child requires. Everything about raising a special needs child requires that you look at them as an individual, and treat the behaviors accordingly. If every person in this world was treated the way I was taught to treat special needs kids, holy cow, the world would be an unimaginably healthy and joyful, validated place. The skills transfer to every human beings basic rights. We dont honor the typical human beings rights, but with a special needs child, it is the ONLY way to make progress, and you learn about meeting basic rights. ALL of my relationships have improved since I learned how to validate, give choices, hand over some control of the situation, choose important battles, not ones that don’t matter. Raising an Aspergers kid is where it is at if you want to learn how to relate to people in a way that is healthy for all involved. The skills you learn taking care of special needs kids will last you a lifetime.

So, back to the topic at hand. Co-dependency. Do you know what it is? I thought I did, and there was no way that was me, I was so independent, I couldn’t be co-dependent.  HA! What a fool I was for thinking I knew something. Oh, I knew what co-dependency was alright, I was living a life full of it, but I had no idea that that was what co-dependency actually was. Co-dependency is a deep and intricate “disorder”. Most people don’t even recognize it till a therapist tells them to get the book “Codependent No More”, by Melody Beatty. I know many co-dependents whose lives have been changed by that book. I keep a copy on my shelf too. You open that book, thinking “what can this book possibly offer me?”, and then it changes your life.  http://www.amazon.com/Codependent-No-More-Controlling-Yourself/dp/0894864025

For simplicity sake, here is the Wikipedia definition of co-dependency. It is a good way to sum up the basics for those who are unfamiliar with the disease. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency

All this background is getting me somewhere, I promise.  So, I spent years behaving like a classic co-dependant. I could not for the life of me figure out why people wouldn’t treat me the way I treated them. I was offended when I was told I was controlling people, but the book put it in a perspective that made me understand what that meant. I leaned about “shoulding all over” myself and others because of co-dependency. I learned that taking care of others is NOT the best way to get ones OWN needs met, and I started trying to take care of myself instead of taking care of everyone else. I had to draw some serious lines in the sand, and it felt cold and callous, but also, so liberating to learn how to put myself first for once. What? I am allowed to meet MY OWN needs? That is weird. I spent years and years in therapy, learning healthy patterns and behaviors, crying about how wronged I have been, just feeling defeated, not good enough, a huge failure, but the answer was bi-polar, and meds, which never helped enough to make life feel good. Once I was given a the above book as an assignment for therapy, it all started to change. I put up limits on how much people could ask of me, I started finding little ways to meet my needs first, and I learned how to say NO to people, which was the hardest part and I still struggle with it from time to time, and in those instances, co-dependency rears its ugly head in just a small way, in my life. I am so aware of it now, that I take control and stop the behavior as soon as I recognize it, but I made it through all of yesterday, before I realized that there were a trickle or two of co-dependency in my behavior, leading me to feel those very same feelings I had so long ago when I did not recognize the behaviors.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s never full blown co-dependency ever any more, just little tiny things that build up when I forget to say no to them, and yes to my needs. Yesterday was all about that for me. If you read yesterdays blog, you know I spent a good chunk of my morning arguing with a very clearly unhealthy co-dependent in my life. I was so angry I was shaking, and told her so, but it just kept going, on and on and on, till I couldn’t take it any more. I spent hours trying to convince her that a therapist could help her with the codependency and she should get help, all the while, letting this girls terrible attitude have a profound effect on my cause she wouldn’t do what I kept telling her was right (if you are at all familiar with co-dependency, you are now rolling on the floor in laughter at the irony of that situation). Still didn’t recognize my co-dependent behaviors of the day, but it continues. My best friend in the world is consumed by her tragedies right now, and I get that. When I try to offer a solution, or advice, I get nothing but “i am not ready to start the healing process yet”. I think that is so unfair. She called me the other day, and I was bawling my eyes out. She didn’t even notice, and proceeded to talk about how emotional she was, yet, she is not ready to change anything, just wants me to carry the burden till she is ready, still, is completely unaware of me. These one sided relationships are VERY co-dependent, and I was feeling pretty angry and hurt. She wanted to stop and visit, but I said NO. Oh, here it is, the magic word that saves me from myself. No. such a simple word, but for some, so hard to learn. I have now said NO, to the co-dependent trying to control me,  and to the person I feel is taking a little advantage of me. I have one or two more big issues to face in my co-dependent battle day. I have been on a spay/neuter task force commitee for years. I love it. I love working with the surgered dogs. I am good with the sick, the needy, the scared, and a natural leader at heart, so it is a good position for me, however, I imagine due to a lot of this co-dependency, I tend to get quite insubordinate when my morals are challenged, and I know it is something I have to work on, meanwhile, its still true. Well, the last several events, I have been feeling quite insubordinate, and as though a lot of responsibility and blame that are not my weights to carry, are landing on my shoulders. It has been a huge stressor, because I really love doing it, but it was clearly taking a huge toll on me, by the way my demeanor went all bi-polar every time it came up. I am talking happy to hurricane in seconds flat. That is a great, big, red warning flag for me, when something causes my now under control emotions to do that. Yesterday, while I was taking back my sanity, I said NO to them too. Oh, that one felt so good! I have been bearing that pressure for far too long now, and what a relief it was to say, “I just cannot do what you are asking of me any more”. I spent my entire day lecturing a close relative about being co-dependent, and at the end of the day, I looked back and realize that I spent the entire day using tools out of my bag of healed co-dependency tricks. I may have fought that battle and won, but every once in a while, the behaviors pop up and get me when I am not watching  for them. I spent my day trying to get some peace and renewal, from taking care of everyone else the last two weeks, and at the end of it all, I look back and think, man, I “should have” recognized this all much sooner this time. Oh well, I recognized it and moved forward. I apologized for being so callous and cold, explained where I was coming from, said I still felt the same way but I could have said it much nicer. I didn’t take it back, just apologized for my method of delivery. I was angry and bitter at what felt like, and still does feel like, several very one sided relationships in my life. The difference today, is that I have a choice between letting those one sided relationships make me feel terrible, or balancing out how much time I spend doing for others compared to doing for me, and how much time I spend doing for others who never notice it. Its all about the choices I make. Not how they treat me, how I choose to be treated. All I have to do is simply choose to treat me better and put less priority on others well being, and I will be ok. I have been trying to put me first, for some time now, and if you follow in the posts, you know that, but always, someone “needs” something from me, and my needs get put off till tomorrow, and tomorrow, there is always something, and my needs just keep getting pushed back further and further, till I have a day like yesterday, where I lock myself in the house and refuse to talk to anyone. I have to be ok with telling someone that I cant listen to her cry today, or that I am happy to listen and understand, but I need a turn to cry too.  There are lots of therapists in this valley. They get paid to do what I do as a co-dependent, and quite frankly, its ok for me to turn folks away or offer a good therapists number if I cant carry their burden that day. Oh so hard to remember that I can say no to the people I love, and that they will still love me, and they will enjoy me more if I take the time to keep me healthy. Learning to say no when someone says they need me has been incredibly difficult, but I am getting it. Yesterady, I said no in a big way to the things that were sapping the energy from me and wearing me down. It was refreshing and uplifting, and I even found time to focus on my Bible study.

A little while back, I started a womens Bible study group on facebook. The first study we chose was on faith. Funny, cause I have strong, very strong, faith. This last couple months though, my faith has been weak. I know He is here with me, but I feel disspaointed in the lack of assitance He is offering me. I had my little tantrum, but then, as I was taking back my peace, I realized in one very brightly lit moment, that I knew I wold be attacked when I started the Bible study, I knew my faith was struggling, but that it would be ok, but it never, ever occurred to me till yesterday, when I finally could see clearly again, that my faith was being attacked because I started a womens Bible study on FAITH of all things. That one made me laugh pretty hard too. I apologized to my good Father, for being such a spoiled little brat, and asked Him to protect my faith while I lead these women through the study. At the end of the day, I looked back, realized I had broken the co-dependent patterns I hadn’t even realized that I was allowing again, figured out why I was having issues with God, and went to bed peaceful, uplifted, hopeful, and spiritually healthy again. Oh what a day it was. Today, I am armed with a new perspective, and I am looking forward to what the day might bring. I am looking forward to continued healing and growth. I wish you all many blessings on your journey. Until next time my friends…

Movin’ right along

So, I made myself this ridiculous list, you know, best case scenario, everything I would like to have done before I leave. What I would like to come home to. So far, I have shocked myself and completed the ridiculous list two nights in a row now. Wonderful! I feel a bit like bragging today. My mom is always telling me that I have the best dogs she has ever met. I kinda laugh, and think to myself, “she must not know any REALLY good dogs, like a working dog”. I have met some really good dogs in my time. Regardless, the point here is that I am so proud of my mutts this afternoon. I bathed them often when they were younger, but it has been quite some time since I have subjected them to any bathing aside from the quick, cold well-water bath when they roll in a stinky fresh cow-pie. Today, they had to have baths to travel this week. Mom’s house is not located on a ranch, and she would not be thrilled with stinky dogs, and my car is clean, I don’t want stinky dogs either (they really aren’t very stinky dogs, or they woulda had a bath). My point…let me get back to it. I asked them who wanted to go first, and Buttercup stepped right up. She followed me to the bathroom, and when I clicked my fingers above the tub and said good girl, come on, she climbed right in. She proceeded to tolerate the bath with her tail between her legs. She stayed, I didn’t even have to close the bathroom door, not once, through all three dogs. Oh so proud. I then dried her off and asked who was next. Moon sat so pretty in front of me, ears down, nose up, like he was just saying “I can be a good dog mom, let me show you”. So, same thing, One click and a command and in he went. terrified. His legs shook while I massaged and bathed him. I am extra careful not to traumatize them with wild face washing. He also, stayed the entire time. They finished up, and the little dog, the one I thought for sure would make me chase him down, wrestle him in, close the door, and hold him there, starts barking at me, like “don’t forget me”. One more time, same command, same action. So proud of these three. So flattered that despite the fear they each obviously exhibited, each one trusted me on the first command, each one stayed put covered in suds and water when I asked them to. Such good doggies! I am proud of them, as you can clearly see. And, a little surprised. I thought for sure one of them would give me resistance, instead, each of them took their turn, and then jumped back in on the next guys turn. Good Mutts!

They are so cute when they get out of the bath, all fresh and frisky, they wanna run around rubbing on anything they can find, and they are excited, maybe cause they just got a full body massage and one on one praise from alpha for the last twenty minutes? All I know is that they are like children on a playground after the bath, and that they are so dang proud of themselves! Brings me joy!

I am moving right along on my lists.  Bathing the dogs was a big one! Glad its done. House is nearly clean, laundry nearly done, dishes, well, you know dishes. Last night I harvested a half a ton of raspberries. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but dang, there were an overwhelming number of them. Had a very interesting conversation with a friend who is a new believer and being convicted to the core. I love watching that happen! Also had to control an urge to bite when a good and trusted friend attacked Christians publicly on facebook. On my fingers, I angrily started ticking off answers to her rant. 1 Blah blah blah. 2. Blah blah blah…you get the point. I got to seven before I calmed down. I never answered on facebook, but I did tell her I would like to talk to her about it in person. I decided that I had to journal about it, and get the angry, defensive, me in check, and handle it much more diplomatically than just checking off points at her, and accusing her of being as judgmental as the people she is accusing. It threw me for a loop, because she is one of my closest friends. Ugh! The beauty of my close friendships is that the best ones include honesty and candidness, so it will be fine I am sure.

As the responsibilities I need to tackle before we leave wind down, and departure time nears, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I am excited. I have some gypsy in my soul, and my feet haven’t wandered so far in a long time. I have been quite settled for many years now, and a nice long trip out on the open road is long overdue. I am thrilled to be going to see my mom, don”t get me wrong, but at this moment in time, the thing I can’t get over is how excited I am to hear the road under my wheels, to smell the changes in the air as we move from one climate to the next, on through it, and into another one. I am in anticipation over what my now nearly grown son will think of some of the landmarks that he was too young to comprehend the last time we were through there. Oh, how I am looking forward to the experience of the road nearly as much as I am looking forward to sitting on mom’s couch, enjoying her company, and watching the mutts frolic in the backyard with her little mini aussie.

Lots to do, I better head off here, and get my behind movin. Many blessings, friends!