13 June 2017

Calling All Ingalls.....and Waltons

I spend a lot of my time feeling like I belong somewhere like Walnut Grove, co-habitating with my Charles Ingalls, spending my time in the fields, carrying my eggs to the Olsons and picking out some pretty new fabric to make some new clothes for my family. Except my Mrs. Olson is a total sweetheart and not at all that pretentious lady depicted in the series.
My ancestors lived somewhere between the Ingalls and the Waltons, not only living off the land and sustaining themselves with their own gardens and fruit trees, but also taking care of all their elders who also lived with them, and the others in the community who needed it (my Great Grandmother, a midwife, delivered all the babies in our part of Cumberland & Adams County "but her own"). A much simpler time for sure. One that, again, I often wish to be a part of.
But I digress. Right now I have a few breakers turned off (two weeks now since I can't seem to get a second or third estimate because out of a literal dozen different electric contractors, I either can't get a call back, they're busy, or Camp Hill is just too far for them to drive from - HA! those pansies would never have survived my Gardners to Harrisburg commute for TWENTY YEARS).
I digress again.
It's fine because I really don't need light in my bedroom at the moment because by the time it's dark I'm ready to sleep any way. And I don't usually bring electronics into my room. We're done in the kitchen by the time the light is down so I don't really need that light either. I have too much stuff to do outside in my yard and by the time I'm done with everything (including dinner and the dishes) I don't have time to sit in my living room and knit or read, so I don't need that either. I don't have a dryer and have hung my clothes to dry for about three years now so no big deal there either. Washer is still good. Fridge still hooked up. I do still have access to showering, so at least we're clean.
And now, they've torn up the road, and it's totally like Walnut Grove coming in and out. It's caused me to slow down on my lead foot and truly take my time on the drive today. I guess it'll be like this all week.
The point of all this? I keep saying I'm ready to get off the grid. The universe is certainly listening to my messages.

22 May 2017

Monday Morning Musings

I wonder how we would view ourselves if we were to actually see, in some tangible form, the things that we expend our energy on.  I imagine my day as a jar and at the end of the day it is full of all the things that I have spent my time on, and images of people I have spent my time with during the day.  Does my jar sparkle?  Does light emit from it like a firefly?  Or is it grey and mucky while the bright points are hidden inside beneath a cloud of fog?

What's in your jar?



19 May 2017

More Open


It's always there, you just have to look for it.  The opportunity to take a breath, to notice, to calm, to literally just *be*.

This moment is one that brings me calm every day.  It's a routine that we've become accustomed to.  Every time we drive past this spot, we stop and take a moment to say hello to our friends.  Occasionally they are on the other side of the field, and if we stop they will usually come right over.  There is a cow too, and he's become curious lately, but still a little apprehensive.

We allow the peace to enter.

We allow ourselves to slow down.

We allow the present moment in.

I've noticed how this moment makes me feel.  Most of the time we stop and at least one of the boys gets out to truly share space with them, but even when it's nothing more than a drive-by hello of sorts where we slow to a crawl and yell "Hello Friends!" or "Doooooonnkey!" out the window, this moment has been teaching me presence all along.  It's been probably two years that we have been doing this, but I make the time for it nearly every day now, and I feel the peace it brings me.

This is where the magic happens.  This is life.  This is the medicine that truly helps to heal me.

17 May 2017

Open


Nature is a bounty for life lessons, providing us with metaphors everywhere, if we are awake enough to see them.  The changing seasons each bring us "classes" of their own, that teach us patience, perseverance, strength, and vulnerability as we are continually given challenges in life that test what we learn.

I've never witnessed the poppy in this seemingly suspended state.  I've watched these beauties bloom every year for as long as I can remember, yet I seem to have only captured them in every other state. First, being completely held tight inside the safety of their pod; second, in full glorious bloom; or after, as they shed the paper-thin petals to the ground around them.

I've been thinking about boundaries and openness lately, and have been looking not only at how both are present in my own life, but also in where they could be improved upon.  In the past few years I have certainly become much more present in my world.  I pay much closer attention to how I react, the things that I make time for, the things I don't make time for, where I expend my energy to.  As a Libra it's always been a constant striving for balance, but after 40 years on this earth I'm finally coming to realize that there is no such thing as balance.  Balance doesn't exist because there will always be something taking the back burner while you focus your attention to something else.  And one thing will always get more time and attention than another.

The amount of time that this poppy spends giving us something beautiful to look at and admire is so short in the span of an entire year.  And at this moment she seems to hold steady, trying to muster all her strength to open up and be completely seen.  It's such a short moment, and you never see her turn back.  She doesn't open halfway up and then decide "Nah, I'm going back in my pod."  Nature always completes its' process.

Perhaps that's where feelings of being "stuck" come from.  Having things undone.
The things that are never said.  The things that are begun but never finished.  The things that finish before they even start.  The things that unravel and are left in the corner of the closet until we have the time (or energy) to pick it up again.  The things that we never open up enough to give our energy to.  Being open is being vulnerable.  And even though everything that blooms dies in the end, it still blooms. Even if it doesn't bloom quite perfectly, it still blooms.

Where can you bloom?


07 May 2017

In Bloom

This time of year is one that finds me taking random walks around my property multiple times a day.  Some mornings I walk outside with my dog and stare around in amazement at how my yard can seem to have transformed overnight.  My crocus were quite early this year, putting on their show in March and closing the curtain practically before April even came.  The daffodils lasted most of April and gave way to the lilacs that produced profusely this year.



My lilacs are my most beloved as they hold many memories from my entire lifetime here on this property.  One bush in particular I spent more than 15 hours freeing from debris and dead branches, while also very carefully pruning it where it asked me to. It has been there as long as I can remember and last year it was practically suffocated by poison ivy, which I'm horribly allergic to.  But I persisted, very carefully, and it rewarded my care by providing me with a bush full of beautiful, full, magenta blooms that graced me with their presence for a couple weeks. I was very careful not to over clip as there is a reciprocity in also enjoying the blooms where they blossom and not taking more than what nature permits.  My kitchen smelled lovely for a couple weeks while a selection from four blossoming bushes graced my table.

As the lilacs have mostly dropped the curtain on their act, the play is far from over as the peonies are holding tight inside their buds in wait of their turn to take stage.  I spent some time clearing this area out this year too and it's looking to be grateful as well.  These always look and smell so amazing and are one of the plants that I usually only bring one or two blossoms inside from.  Somehow I look upon them in all their blossoming beauty and feel guilty for taking away from their show.


There is an area covered with poppies that will pop out of their fuzzy little pods and take on their orange, tissue papery brilliance most likely by the end of the week.  My children seem to love these the most.  


The last that I noticed on my walk around this evening was the All-Spice, which I wasn't really sure what it was until today, only that it smelled amazing and also required a ton of time as some pretty heavily creeping mile-a-minute tried to suffocate it last year.  It's also in the middle of its' bloom.


In a week or two I will have the Mock-Orange bushes which are right outside of my kitchen window. They make washing dishes a total joy when they're blooming.

I've been here for 8 years now and can't believe how fast this time has gone by.  Conversely, it's sometimes embarrassing that it's taken me this long to finally start caring for it like my grandmother and father did.  Granted, I have a fairly busy life, but one always has choices in what keeps them busy.  And tending to the earth will give you lessons in many things if you allow it.





01 May 2017

Boundaries


Clearly my wisteria isn't very good with boundaries, but she sure has a lovely way of being untamed. I guess once the curtain closes on her springtime act, I'll at least pull her out of the areas that she really shouldn't be, but for now I'm enjoying the show.

I've found that nature has a way of showing me what I need to work on in my own life.  The metaphors are there on a daily basis, and it sometimes takes a while for me to get the message.  In terms of this lovely plant, the lessons it has been teaching me are endless, but at the moment it's heavy on the boundaries and taming the part of me that ignores the ones that I consistently attempt to put up for myself.

Perhaps I need to work harder at not looking at my boundaries as something that I need to make out of an impenetrable material, but more so a material that is flexible in its' firmness.  Something that can bend on occasion.  Something that can allow things in while blocking others.

Much like the wisteria which can be an absolutely gorgeous and perfectly tamed creature if you give it the proper attention in the proper areas.  On the contrary, if you don't, she will eat your house.

Much like life.



13 April 2017

What's Stopping You



I recently saw a photo of a seemingly empty storefront with the following statement lettered on the sign above it:

What do you do?
What could you do?
What's stopping you?

These are questions I started asking myself daily.  Most often they come out when I'm faced with a challenge.  And it could be any manner of challenge from garden planning, or a knitting project I want to take on to the book I've been writing for longer than I'm willing to admit now.  Answering those questions is a much deeper challenge than actually moving forward with the act of taking on the projects however, for the act of *doing* requires much less energy than the countless hours spent analyzing the questions.  But let's look at the questions, at least for a moment.

What do I do?  I sit here staring at this pattern, thinking about how many new-to-me stitches there are in it and I wonder whether I will struggle with learning or figuring them out.  I wonder whether I will have to ask someone more experienced than me for help, or search for a video that will assist me.  I wonder whether I will screw up and have to start over.  Or worse; what if I screw up and it's so far into the project that backing out a row or two (or three *gasp*!) is a better option than starting over (because all knitters know how much fun backing out is). And then there's the wondering if I will feel like a failure and hate myself for not being able to do it.

What could I do?  I could read through the pattern, gather the materials needed and just begin the project.  I could tackle each part of it as it comes.  If I run into a stitch I have never done before, I can search the vast amount of assistance available on the web and in the more experienced friends and community I have.  I could remind myself of the projects I've tackled up to this point, the challenges that I've surpassed, and the skills and experienced I've gained by completing each one.  Or the shorter version: I could just figure out what needs to be done and do it.

What's stopping me?  Fear.  Always fear.  But I always find if I ignore the fear, push past it and just skip to the second question, it's always much simpler a task than I ever feared it would be during the process of asking the questions.  And the payoff is better. Certainly easier with creative projects than matters of the heart, but the end result is usually the same.

I've found that these lessons learned in knitting often become quite handy in real life situations.  We so often cause ourselves more frustration by agonizing over the what if's than we would if we just move forward in some way.  The challenges will come and be dealt with and moved on from. And they will leave behind them gained wisdom. The more time spent thinking that we aren't capable of something, the more chance we have of convincing ourselves we aren't capable.  Sometimes it's better just to trust that we are, indeed capable.

This doesn't mean that we should make decisions without thinking, or weighing the options, but if we start asking ourselves these three simple questions, perhaps we'll find there is much more we can do.

16 February 2017

Balancing Calm



A short few moments ago I was taking some time to quiet my mind.  I had just finished reading this blog post and was thinking about how much I could relate to the talk of learning to be calm.  I was thinking about how I am still learning how to act, rationally, with sincere and deep thought, rather than reacting through emotions.  And as the Universe seems to always do, it decided to test me in what it was just trying to teach me.

It's moments like this that I am the most thankful for.  At 40 years in, I am constantly aware.  I have never felt so aware in life as I am at this point.  All the situations I find myself faced with, whether they be simple, tough, passing or constant, I am conscious and aware.

I see the mirrors placed in front of me daily and I see my own self reflected back at me.  I take that wisdom and I thank the Creator for continuing to remind me of my own humanness.

I see the places where I could turn those mirrors around and I have been working rather hard at not doing it.  For it is not my place to point fingers and as I have learned, the Universe has a way of showing people what they need to see.  Repeatedly.  Over and over until they learn.  It's not my responsibility to do so, and if there is any lesson I am most grateful to be still learning, it is that one.

I am responsible for myself.

I am not responsible to show everyone where they fuck up.  And I can much more easily lend my compassion in those places than lend my judgment.

Judgment is not mine to give to anyone other than myself.

The following quote is from the blog post I linked to above:

"When everything falls to pieces or when someone treats me terribly or when I don’t get my way in life or when I suffer total failure…I want to remain calm.  Beyond practicing calmness, I want to find myself in the habit of immediately moving into a problem solving state of mind — I want to find myself recognizing the disaster and instead of reacting emotionally, I want to fluidly engage my ability to critically think and logically process my way through a dilemma."

This is Grace. Grace is my ultimate goal in most areas of my life.  Grace is how I would like to choose to always present myself to whatever comes in my path.  Grace is how we should all be responding to each other.

There is a very fine line in finding the balance between having that Grace and ensuring that you are appropriately heard.



11 January 2017

Writing Is Easy......

There are multiple versions of this quote, but it seems that the most widely accepted seems to be this one from Hemingway. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

I've also found this one, from Gene Fowler, "Writing is easy: All you do it sit staring at blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

There are also multiple references to 'popping open a vein' and bleeding.  Regardless, they are all true.  Sometimes I bring about terrible cases of anxiety just by attempting to write.

"WHY WHY WHY won't the words just fucking form at the end of this pen (or pencil, or marker, or fingertips) as I type?  I want to write so badly.  Just a moment ago I had a head full of things that were waiting to be written.  Now I'm sitting here staring at this paper/screen and nothing is coming.  Why is nothing coming out?  Where did the words all go?  I'm wasting my time.  I should just do laundry. Or dishes. Or knit. At least that's more productive than sitting here waiting for something that's not going to happen.  But what if I put away the paper and start the dishes and then it hits me again?"

Other times it goes all the way to self-loathing.

"You really suck.  Why do you even try?  You know that your brain isn't shutting off enough to do this so you might as well just pick up your knitting and watch something on Netflix that will distract you from all the things you really want to do.  You know, let someone else entertain you so that you don't have to work through this block. Just fucking give it up already.  No one is reading your blog, no one is going to want to read your stupid book.  Although there is a heinous murder involved, so of course people love that kind of drama.  No just give up."

And round and round it goes.

There are moments, however, that the proverbial vein does pop wide open.  And it bleeds, and bleeds, and bleeds, and before long there are pages and pages and the anxiety and self-loathing are suffocated and drowning in all the blood, and there are guts all over the paper.  As if months of thoughts and ideas come swimming to the surface and is let out like a teenager who has been grounded for months is finally free from their restriction.

Both feelings are intense.  Which makes writing not easy at all.  Even when it is.  It feels good when the flow comes, but when you are writing about things you experienced that weren't really pleasant, you have to go back to those places and feel those things all again.  And even though it feels good to let them out, there's an enormous crash afterwards.

Writing is fucking hard.

03 January 2017

Focused

As I work to live more intentionally, one way in which I can always improve is by writing more.  Not only in terms of intentional writing (i.e. the majority of blog posts that include specific topics, or the book(s) that I'm writing) but also in terms of freewriting.  I am working at creating more space to share my views of the world around me, my own direct world, and the thoughts that swirl around in my head at any given moment.  I could carry around a journal and spend more time jotting things down in it than most people spend checking their social media status's.

Speaking of.  I'm on my second day without facebook.  I deactivated my account upon hitting my pillow the night of New Years Day.  Yesterday there was an immediate difference in how I navigated my day and it's not much different than getting off sugar.

I woke up to my alarm and took my dog out (and didn't post about it on facebook).  I then went back to sleep and thought how nice it was to be able to just lay back down and relax, with just my thoughts, not looking at anything on my phone.  I didn't post or write about that anywhere either.  I just enjoyed the moments.

When I did wake up, I worked at making my breakfast.  Eggs, with some chopped onions and tatsoi left over from my last CSA pick up and rosemary that I grew over the summer right outside my door.  I shredded some cheese on top and sat down at my kitchen table to enjoy it.  I did snap a photo but then put the phone back down and ate.  Just me, the food, and my head.

As I ate, I thought about getting chickens so I could gather my own eggs and where on the property I could easily put them, and how many I would need to feed my immediate family unit. I thought about what is going to be in the next share from my CSA and whether I could start another batch of rosemary on my kitchen windowsill.  I thought about how much I love cheese and wondered what other types would taste good on an omelette. Quite enjoyable to sit in calmness, with those thoughts, but overwhelming when you watch a couple hundred people tell you about it all at once.  And, it's nice to just enjoy it myself, without feeling like those same couple hundred people care to know what I'm thinking as I enjoy my breakfast.  I like to take note of my observations and thoughts, but if others wish to read them, they can certainly find them here, intentionally, on their own.

I'm also wondering if that is a part of what makes an interaction or conversation more enjoyable.  If one intentionally seeks out another opinion on a subject, are they more likely to engage than if a topic just appears in front of them.  Certainly if we have the time to engage, we would be more likely to seek to hold more intentional conversations.  And by not trying to keep up with the minute details of hundreds of peoples every day lives on multiple modes of media, we can more readily enjoy those conversations and topics that truly spark our passions.

The more time I spend with just me and my head, the more I realize it really isn't a bad place.  And with less outside opinion and thought coming at me by the dozens, it's a much calmer place too.

I think I'm going to enjoy this.  Now, time to head home for lunch.

About Me

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30something mother of twin boys. lover of nature. steward of the earth. artist in heart. always creating, always learning. always growing. understanding sometimes to a fault. the grass is always greener where i'm standing.