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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Untended Garden

Every year I assess my garden program, decide what is working and what needs to change. This process begins in the spring and continues through the dark of winter. I start early so changes can be made before I get overly invested in a process I can't continue.

This year I planted potatoes in their dedicated spot. I also included five gallon buckets of potatoes to insure a crop. I planted fewer tomatoes as I realized that I really don't care for them. I planted them for my children. None of my hot peppers survived the caterpillars, drought, or neglect. The green peppers were slow to grow, but when the temps became unbearable they bloomed and are set with fruit.

I planted an entire garden outside the back door on the deck thinking there would be no excuse for neglect. Each plant was tended with daily care. The result for all my work was pitiful. However, the sage and rosemary look nice, well, alive and growing.

This was my traditional gardening spot. This year I decided to try bag gardening again. That didn't happen, so I moved in five gallon buckets. Life got busy and I just let it go...

The squash and cucumber plants I tended so carefully were all destroyed by cut worms, at the base, inside the pots. There are butternut squash amongst the leaves and weeds maturing even now. And those are the first tomatoes harvested this season. Of course temperatures are expected to be in the 70s - not tomato growing weather.

Gardening is a huge exercise in letting go. Even with all my planning, I haven't been able to replicate a single year. Last year I was all about fresh produce ferments. We had so many peppers and zucchinis. The year before pumpkins and tomatoes. Prior years with millions of tomatoes convinced me they were not my favorites.

It's cool and rainy, after weeks of dryness. In the evenings, after the grandchildren have gone home or to sleep, I work a different process with varying degrees of success to show for my work.
Dark blue hat for the baby. Slippers with spa socks for my father. Yellow hat for DA, or me. Bows for DA, of course. I make hair bows in lots of colors then add beads and a clip.
Here's DA's new hat. Quite perfect, if I say so myself. Made of Caron Soft yarn. Her school colors are blue and yellow. You'll see lots of projects in those colors.
Scrunchies and hair bows. I found glow in the dark beads. I almost returned the beads, but finally got them to glow after exposure directly on the light bulb and them absolute darkness. I thought the sun would be easier. Did not work. Back to the light...

It's harder to post these days. JP runs from one moment of excitement to the next spectacular discovery. Cookie Monster is interesting from my lap, in front of the keyboard. Less so from the bouncy seat or her chair. During young one awake hours, my attention is fully occupied - chasing, moving, feeding, playing, and redirecting. "Clap. Clap. Clap your hands."

Make today a great day!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Altered Memories

My children have a habit of telling stories about me and the things I did to them that I swear are not true. More than that, I sometimes say that they are making things up. Then this morning, I remembered something I used to do to my children and thought, "How could any loving mother do that to her children?" And I am a loving mother. I always put the welfare of my children first. Yet, there it was, my memory of me doing something I would not want posted on Facebook.

It occurred to me how easily I recall my childhood and the ways I thought I had been mistreated. But when it comes to recalling my parenting, those memories are harder to access.  And because my children's memories do not match the image I have of myself I negate them.

Our memories are selective and reflective of our own subjective experiences. Much like the dozen witnesses who all see something different at the scene of an event, what we hold to be true is merely our perspective. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. 

I forgive ______ for not being what I needed them to be to me at that time. 

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.

Still letting go...


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh the things you will find...

...after you replace them, or
...while digging through closets...

I was searching for school supplies before we went out to shop. The only items I had on the list were yellow #2 pencils. But I found two containers of butter. I knew I had some, but since I couldn't find it, I bought more. What we have up there is avocado butter (about a third cup left), shea butter (easily more than a cup), cocoa butter, beeswax, and a small bottle of Crown Royal - saved for a special occasion. I'm not a fan, but it works well for a tincture or toddy.

Then I found...
This collection of herbs and resins. I looked all over for myrrh. Not pictured, but also discovered was a collection of meditation oils that include frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood.  There are bags of lavender flowers, tobacco, cedar, sage, and catnip. And copal. I fired up the charcoal and breathed in the thick sweet fragrance from another world.

I tore open the package of lavender flowers and they smelled fresh picked. I think we had better quality in the old days. Certainly better prices.
There were boxes filled with glass bottles and jars. Some new; others recycled. Bottles with stoppers and bulb syringes. Half ounce to eight ounce. I used to make and market aromatherapy oils, balms, and sprays. And I love pretty glass:
Above is algae powder which I am going to add to tonight's bath, more lavender flowers and painted glass bottles with glass stoppers (perfume bottles).  It looks like time for another Craigslist post. Or maybe eBay. Either way, I'm ready to let these go.

We bought the remainder of DA's school supplies for less than $10 and I will donate the other items on the 15th (to higher grades). I still have a ton of items to give away. It was fun remembering my life and times past. That's why we save stuff - to trigger memories. Pictures, music, ticket stubs, jewelry or bottles. It is easier to let go of items that are free of sentiment, so start there.

Here's to creating space, and loving it!



Saturday, August 3, 2013

And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

That's where we get stuck - we forget to ask for wisdom.

This week I reconnected with a roommate from thirty-seven years ago. We met, again, last week in the grocery store and spend almost an hour talking. It was fun and exciting to share life with someone on (what I thought) was a similar path. As I write this, perhaps we still are - the path of living at the fringe. In case you don't know, the farther you get from the median, the more diverse the thinking and living. We are, in fact, marginalized by choice.

After a few emails, we agreed to meet for tea at a local garden. I always prefer meeting in nature and near water. The conversation seems to flow more easily. Water is a good place for letting go as well. We talked. The tea discussion went well. Then she broke out the soapbox and began proselytizing. I listened politely. She stepped down. Kids. Family. Medical profession. SOAPBOX!!! I interjected.

Turns out she believes that her religious beliefs are the only true expression of God and that while others are sincere, they are wrong. Where have I heard that before? That busted open a big ole can of worms. She was not to be dissuaded. It was exactly like being with my family thirty-seven years ago. It was me. Thirty-seven years ago. I have changed. I see differently.

Lying in bed, unable to sleep, I began the Serenity Prayer. Reaching the last line, I realized I had gotten engaged in something I cannot change. She will shift in her time, but between us, if I choose to meet again, I do so knowing that I accept her just as she is.

Usually, religion and politics are off the table for me. Better to hold that line. Blessings, love, and gratitude are excellent topics of discussion. Check out my recent finds on food and other stuff, here.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I cannot tell a lie...

I am too busy to think most days. The baby (JP) is ten months old and crawls away faster than most people walk. She has learned to reach and pull and drag each an every precious item I have protected for years crashing down to the floor. That means when the girls come to visit, I am on my J O B! It is a constant challenge to engage both girls at the same time, or to settle one and play with the other. As they are both independent spirits, corralling is unappreciated.

I usually work on Wednesday and only shop for bread and yogurt. I was called off on both my commitments so I had time to search for the best bargains. I love to shop. LOVE IT!!! No matter how much I talk about living with less, I love to shop. So, I will talk about living with less money, rather than less stuff.

I bought the above pictured groceries for $36.00. Yes, there was a sale. That's how you get the best deals - shop the sales. Green Giant - buy four and pay $.99. I bought six.  Chex mix was part of that deal too. Tofu was on sale for $1.49/pound. That is an unbeatable price. We bake it and add to rice, salad, soup, or sandwiches. Eggs and cheese are staples. Oatmeal, as well. DA says she will eat pretzels with applesauce. It is hiding behind the tofu.

The point is to make the most of every dollar. Sort out what works for your household and invest the time in finding the bargain. I am blessed to have charge of my grand-daughters four or five days a week. They both eat enthusiastically. Thankfully, they enjoy a wide variety of foods.

On another note, I am quite pleased with Supplements and health foods inexpensive and free shipping and handling - with no minimum. I ordered Spectrum Chia Seeds and Chocolove (dark chocolate and ginger) both for $8.50. If you're paying retail for specialty supplies, you need a break. Here it is.

My last confessions are stuff. I have a scarf fetish. I have lots. I love them all. For a while, all I could think about was having more. Then I found an inexpensive way to both buy and share scarves with others - ebay! Affordable items, free shipping and the delay of waiting with the anticipation of arrival - a shopper's dream.

Finally, I found Battlestar Galactica Season 2.0 for $1.25 on Amazon. Wow!

Just so you know. I have watched BSG 2004 - 2009 three times. I re-read my books, some of them yearly. I watch reruns. I love the stories, the nuances, the lessons.

We (DA, JP, and I) mix a cup of Greek yogurt with an ounce of chia seeds and follow the Kratz Brothers into the wild or Commander Adama as he searches for earth.

I save where I can so I can splurge as I desire...

Where did you find your latest deal?

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tis a Gift to be Simple

I live up there. Tucked right in the middle. Surrounded by trees all around my home. It feels safe, warm, loving and comfortable.

Every Sunday, I wake, dress and enjoy a cup of coffee on the front porch, watching the birds at the feeder, listening to their chirps and songs. There are other sounds that draw my attention - the announcer from the high school ball field, early morning traffic, the occasional neighbor mowing or gardening. However, most people are not up early on Sunday mornings, so it's me and the birds.

Today I accept the blessings of a simple life.

I have every thing I need. (As a disclaimer, I am a pack rat. I work diligently to release stuff - reduce, reuse, and recycle; and avoid accumulation of additional "stuff.")

I have pared down my requirements. I now find that it doesn't actually serve for me to tell you how I live or what I choose because in reality, we each have to decide what our bare minimum is. I love to eat the exact same foods every day for weeks on end. I also love gourmet chocolate, and liquor.

I know what my distraction are - I can feel the pull of my attention to have, be or do more. When we are aware, we can actively decide what is healthiest for our lives. Does this really make sense (is it aligned with my goals) to engage in that activity or process?

I am comfortable with my discomfort. Whether I am delaying a purchase or walking an extra mile, I recognize that there are moments in life that feel like a challenge. I step up.

I have a vision for my life, my presence here - in this time. Some days I want things to be different. When I remember my mission statement, I open to my full potential of now.

Mission Statement?

A Mission Statement is a clear, concise statement of purpose. It is the reason for existence. It includes what actions will be taken to achieve the purpose. It is the predetermined statement of what you do, and why.

Long before I had heard the word minimalism and addressed the concept of simplicity, I wrote a Mission Statement:

"I am dedicated to supporting others on their journey to health and well-being, through education, information, and inspiration, radiating loving acceptance in each and every situation."

So I have the knowledge and supplies to support my Mission Statement. (Meaning, lots of stuff.) Just so you know, everything is not on the internet. Some information is still in books. OR, if is it available, you have to pay for it. Paying once is enough. And what is more satisfying than to pull a book from the shelf and find the reference you seek. Googling is not the same.

Tucked in the trees in the middle of the city is a womin reading and listening, growing and feeding the next generation of wimmin who will cherish the simplicity of the fruit of the earth. Children who will know that food comes from vines, bushes, or from deep in the soil.

My world is lush and abundant with life. Simplicity frees my attention to embrace and enjoy it all.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Modest Adjustments

In 1977, I left home wearing a long-line bra, brief style panties, undershirt, panty hose, panty girdle, slip, and a dress with fitted bodice (tie in back), Peter Pan collar, and three-quarter length sleeves (cuffed) that covered my body from suprasternal notch to eight inches below my knees. Not quite midi and far from maxi. Because that was the prevailing style in my wardrobe and because I had only five dollars a month to cover necessities, and because that was the way I was raised, I was modest.
Various styles of modesty from religious perspective
 One day I got a job, and bought some clothes. While away from home, I wore tight, form-fitting, figure flattering jeans and tops. I worked out. I learned to swim (in my homemade suit of polyester knit lined with a poly-cotton blend and measured below my knees). I ran, with a man, for the first time in my life. "Ran" as in both feet off the ground, not "floozie".

When I returned home, I covered up. Turns out if your bra is visible, you are naked. If your legs are bare, you are naked. If you're not wearing a slip, you are a tramp - just asking for it. I bought a half slip, and a jacket. My legs stayed bare. I had given up pantyhose.

As the years progressed, I gave up more and more clothing, until I was running through the woods hollering, "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!" After a bold taste of freedom, it is a rough road to confinement.

Yet, here I am. Rethinking modesty. Noticing a delight in being covered, protected. I have the image of the tents and cloths we lay over food at a picnic to keep the flies out. Years ago, I decided my deepest desire was to be a bearer of the light and to attract other light bearers into my life. I have gathered a lot of moths around. They are charmed by the light even if it leads to their ultimate demise.

My closet is filled with clothes that are less supportive of my rethinking than I had hoped. I have three long shirts with three-quarter length cuffed sleeves, a couple of knit tops that will work with a scarf at the neck, and a shrug. I need more choices, especially since I splurged and bought this most fab open neck, chest, back tunic that I have wanted for years.

Watching All American Muslim clips, I saw one woman wearing a shirt like mine with a pullover underneath. That could work. I get to wear the bright flowing colors and maintain my level of modesty. This is an interesting take on the various choices of practicing modesty, or not. The stories on Breaking Amish as just as diverse and varied. One of the interesting factors is that in Breaking Amish, even as the characters travel they are connected to other Amish from all over the country. I understand the feeling that you can't get away from the "opinions" of those who know where you come from.

I am finding my way. My own way. I bought three thin long sleeve tops and another pair of leggings. I already own long silk and rayon flowing skirts. I have wandered the streets with my skirts rising and falling in the breeze, brushing against my naked skin. It will be strange as I miss that sensation.

What does it matter?

We come into the world naked. When we are left to choose, we cover to the level of our comfort. When rules are imposed, we long to rebel. There comes a day when we can choose again. I can choose to run nekkid in the woods, sun freely on the cliffs, share with all creation what G-d gave me. Having walked that path and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I choose to cover. Today I choose modesty.

Modesty is always beautiful. - G.K. Chesterton

I am taking back what's mine from the fantasy of being yours.

Still on the journey...


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Be the Change

The stream returns.
Something happened earlier this year. I can't recall the exact moment I decided to change, but I did. I covered my hair. I started wearing wraps to work instead of allowing my locks to hang long.

Initially, it felt like fashion, but as I chose to cover each time I left the house, I could feel the commitment. I own dozen and dozens of scarves in solid and printed colors, so my options varied daily.

One day my co-worker asked if there was some significance to my head coverings. The truth was and is, that I realized hair, in all its forms of variation, causes attraction - at times, unwanted. Hair style, color, length, or lack, also invites opinions. My answer was that I was avoiding undue attention due to my hair.The other side of the story is that my hair is graying at the temples and I had not decided whether to color it or cut it all off. With it covered, no one would be the wiser. Hence, a new form of freedom and I am all about being free.

This month, May, I have been looking at modesty as intrigue. In a world where people are letting it all hang out, how about covering up? How do our relationships shift when we preserve some of the mystery? Modesty is an old concept, both socially and in my personal life. My family adhered to strict rules of modesty (in dress and presentation). It was a religious issue.

Today I am free of religious dictates for my life, so I cover on my own. It was a conspicuous experience. I work with Muslim women who practice hijab (modesty and privacy between men and unrelated women). I also work with conservative Christian women. I am neither. So, when I walk down the street with my head, neck and shoulders covered, I am an anomaly.

I feel peculiar. People look at me differently. They presume. They assume. They scold. "It's too hot for all that!"

I feel sacred. For the first time, I feel sanctified - set apart. Walking and praying seem more present, as if I am truly aware of not only the words, but my connection to them.

Driving covered, I am ashamed of the rage rising and spewing forth when I am cut off in traffic. I rethink the moment, recognizing that all is well and only my ego was assaulted. Still, I am reprimanded for my behavior. I expect to show up as understanding and forgiving every day. Being covered kept my attention on my intentions.

The biggest challenge came while I was shopping for liquor. Somehow it just didn't feel right to be buying alcohol while covered. I drink. I am free of any prohibitions against drinking alcohol. So, what's the deal?

Feel the feelings and keep on moving. That's what I've done this month. Having my head, neck and shoulders covered has refocused my attention. I reshaped the rest of my dress as well. I own plenty of clothing that covers my body. I wear them.

This is the best explanation I've heard for covering:

Think of your money. Would you leave it laying around for everyone to see, examine and handle? No. We put our money away. We keep it safe. away from prying eyes.

I am more precious than money. My body is sacred. I get to choose who has access, when and why.

I wish I were more comfortable covering completely outside of religious affiliation. It may come, or not. Today, I practice modesty as I represent individual freedom, choice, and intrigue. I'm taking back what's mine from the fantasy of being yours.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Space that I Seek

The story of love and relationship later on
must be the space I create...

More and more we celebrate yet another young (or not so young) person publicly identifying along the spectrum of gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, questioning or other.

On the road to exploration of identities, what happens to those who have marched, demonstrated, and campaigned only to find that in the realm of love what is most desired is choice?

Surely, one day it will not matter who we love, but until we reach a world free of labels, how do we negotiate relationships of attraction without buying into any cliques or cues?

Whisper in My Ear addresses these questions through the story of three women and their personal (though not unique) approaches to love and each other.

Can we love each other no matter what?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I have arrived! 2013!

And you, are you fully in this moment?

I thought I was. Wrong! I have been struggling with how things once were and how they are so not what I planned and how I have shown up, put out, held on, sacrificed, ached, cried, and bled for ... You name it - the cause, whatever that means.

Even though I have been absent from my blog, I have stayed committed to thinking, studying, considering and a frenzy of mental and emotional activity. I am intellectually productive and emotionally exhausted.

No matter where I've been, how I've felt, or what I've done, all things have conspired to bring me to Now. Finally, I release my resistance and agree to be here.

I have a long list of recommendations I want to offer so that you too can let go of what is holding you back from the present moment and the pure goodness - the okayness - of now. My last eye opener was the TV series Life on Mars (US). It's about a man who has an accident in 2008 and wakes up in 1973 with his memories intact. Besides the distress with displacement and disorientation, he is haunted by the memories of what was. One day he accepts that the present isn't so bad.

This is not a new journey for me. By now I have made over a dozen major shifts in my life. Some have found me more discombobulated than others, yet as I type, we are all aware that things have worked out fine - in fact, things are great. The fog of illusion distorts reality.

(My mantra) I quit my job to travel, drink beer, and write. That was 11.11.11. Wow! I just noticed that. I left for San Fran that day. I have returned almost every six months since - job or not. I drink less beer, by choice. I enjoy vodka and triple sec these days. I write.

Today I am working part-time two or three days a week. I have time for my grand-daughters and their friends. I am still editing that novel. I'm reaching the end of the process on general principle.

I pick up extra funds through surveys. Today I found twenty more sites to consider. I posted my review of the sites that pay me. Today's post is spurred by my excitement to investigate more ways of earning a living at home.

In reality, I have enough. However, DA and I are flying back to San Fran this spring. And, we are going to take a boat ride down the Mississippi, the Amtrak across the state, a day trip to the City Museum, and more. We will garden, cook, glue, and ferment.

I am looking at ways to finance the adventures of life. As I sort it out, I'll let you know. If you already know, please share your knowledge and experience with us.

May you be in good health and prosper!