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Where does your food come from?

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

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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!

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Peace and satisfaction (or daydreams of my ranch)

Hey Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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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!

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The kitchen

Oh good Heavens. The kitchen is TOUGH. It’s hard to even take the things out of the kitchen for some reason. Not sure why I am having so much more trouble on the kitchen than anywhere else I have been, but dang, it’s like pulling teeth, trying to stay focused in that room. I was thinking I should have taken before and after pics for you guys, but oh well! I spent a little time lamenting yesterday, on the irony that my house has some pretty big rooms in it. Particularly the bedrooms and living room. Unfortunately, the rooms I use most, the office, dining, and kitchen, are all tiny, and have the most stuff. I have faith that it will all fit because I have thrown away A LOT of stuff. Know anyone that needs a George Foreman grill? I joke, of course. I mean, I am just not willing to keep it in a stack by my door while I wait for it to be claimed…off to the thrift store, where it can do some good for someone else. The back end of my little SUV is quickly filling up with stuff for donation, and it is so satisfying when I take a box to the car to be forgotten till the next time I pass Goodwill. It felt good to sit in my beautiful, clutter free, dining room, to have dinner with my boys last night…Oh we all loved the nice clean room so much! The kitchen, I hope, will be done today. I have a few piles I need to sort through, things like storage containers I am no longer using for the junk they were holding, but don’t want to get rid of them till the whole house is done, in case I need to downsize something into a different container or something. Man, when this house is done, I am gonna give someone a virtual organization store. I have a TON of empty storage containers now, and I can only anticipate I will have more as I go. I LOVE empty. I am excited. Every day, every project, leaves me with a whole new set of inspiring thoughts. Because this house was already quite stuffed when I moved in, I am finding all kinds of cool things that I didn’t even know I had. Things I have never even seen before. I found an antique apple corer/peeler in a silverware drawer, buried at the bottom, under the things I use frequently. I had to ask my husband what it was, and if we could store it with the antiques instead of in the kitchen…but it was cool. I also found an electric knife that was made some time before 1962, if I had to guess… it was that telling green and cream color from the good ole days. I am afraid to plug it in. The male plug was even made way differently than they are now, also very neat, and low and behold, I DO have a friend who wants THAT, of all things. So, I have found some really great and useful things, and some very nostalgic things, and well, some crap I just cant believe is still kicking around here from the sixties or later. I wasn’t here (on Earth) in the sixties, just so we are clear. It’s not that I mind getting old, I just am not yet. This stuff had to belong to my hubby’s grandmother. It would be neat to get the story behind some of it. Out of curiosity, I even checked to see if the knife has any worth, and I cannot find one, at all…so maybe it does. Too late now, I gave it away already….don’t really care that much, just want my house clean.

Nope, good ole ETSY. I found one and it looks like it’s worth about twenty bucks. Glad I gave it away. Anyway, this project has been so inspiring. I have more ambition for this declutter project than I ever imagined I would have, and dang if it is not going great. I am nearly halfway done, and still full steam, with a few hang-ups in the kitchen. I have managed to keep the rooms that are done, clutter free in the process of doing other rooms, and I just cannot wait till its done! I feel pretty manic, except that I have felt this way more and more intensely as I get further through the house, and so far no crash or burn stage. Oh I hope I can continue to sustain this very routine thing I have going on now. It’s great to sleep at night, and work during the day. It has been so many years, I can barely remember that time before I had a son with three sleep disorders and slept like a normal person. I did at one point in my life, but my child changed all that, and I have not had a normal sleep schedule forever, but I do again, and that feels SO GOOD! This morning it was light our when I woke up and I jumped up in a panic. somehow I slept through both of my alarms and my husbands also. It was 8 am. OH CRAP! Under no circumstances should the sun be up before me. That means late…

The chaos ensues as I work through this madness, but I am just so convinced that it is a means to an end, and that despite the additional chaos of emptying a room into the living room to declutter it and put it away correctly, when it is all said and done, I will feel very calm, focused, and serene. I will be more productive. I have been longing for a citrus juicer for some time now…guess what I found that my mother in law left?  A citrus juicer. Saving money too…see, it is so worth it. I feel like my thoughts are racing, all running together, my fingers barely move as fast as my thoughts, and my fingers move pretty fast most days. I have so many wonderful ideas. As much as I love the routine of sleeping and waking a regular schedule, I cannot wait till my routine does not include the chaos of emptying and decluttering a room while I wait for the steam cleaned floor to dry so I can put back the keepers. I thought the kitchen would be one of the easiest rooms. No carpet to steam clean, nothing on the floor, just cupboards to sort through. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. It is so hard to go in there and empty the cupboards and carpets, that I will do almost anything to avoid it. I just want it done so badly, as soon as I realize I have walked away, I go back and make myself put stuff in a box like a robot if I have to….it will get done, and I think I have finally cleared everything out…ugh! Now I gotta sort it and put it back. And so it goes, I have done enough avoiding this morning. Time to hit the piles…wish me luck. Hope I don’t get lost in there (just kidding, it’s not that bad. none of the piles are bigger than me…). Until next time, my friends, many blessings to you all!

 

 

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Over-stuffed

OK friends, time for some bitter, ugly, truth. I am making a life change, a big one, and I have to share, and to do so, I have to tell you some secrets. I decided I will bare all for a moment, let you have a peek at the private life of me, and well, if it inspires just one person, it was all worth it. Just hang with me as I let my guard down and show you some real, raw, me. I know that I have mentioned clutter before, but you don’t know how far it goes. I hate to say it, but I think between my husband and I, we are teetering on the brink of being able to call ourselves hoarders. That freaks me out. It all began several years ago. He and I were both raised very frugally, if it can be re-used or recycled, don’t throw it out. Also, being ever conscious of the growing concerns with out earth, its hard to throw anything out these days, for fear of making more problems, better to re-use it, save money and the planet, right? Ok, so back to where it starts. You now know that both sets of parents taught us to save it if we can. One is going through some clutter issues herself, so sends us as much of it as she thinks we can use. Her heart is in the right place, but I cannot manage it all. Anyway, So, My husband inherited a LOT of family stuff, as well as the stuff he had on his own, and the stuff my son and I had. When we merged our lives, the amount of STUFF became overwhelming. It doesn’t fit in our space. I have tried and tried for years, to find ways to organize, rearrange, and sort through all the stuff, but I get no-where. The clutter holds me back, keeps me from focusing, gives me a constant feeling of chaos and loss of control, but I am only one person, and it is the mostly unwanted stuff of seven people. UGH! Too stinkin much stuff. So, I made a huge decision this week. I decided that one room at a time, one week at a time, I am going to purge the room, pull everything out. EVERYTHING. I am sorting through it one piece at a time. I am sorting into want, garbage, don’t want, let hubby decide…and if he keeps, find a home for, I have piles and piles of stuff going out of my house. I have thrown away three contractors bags of stuff, given away hundreds of pounds of stuff to people who consider it treasure, rather than trash. I have lost at least two hundred pounds this week and it feels AWESOME!   My office got new carpet for my birthday, and I started there. I pulled it all out, and I confess, I still have a small pile to go through, but it was so easy to throw stuff away once the room was empty. I decided which furniture to put back, cleaned it all up, and then restocked it. It was easy to look at the new office, and look at the item in my hand, and say…I dont want to put this back in there…is it garbage, does it go in a different room, or should it belong to someone else. I have a big box of books to take to the used book store, and I feel as though I have control in that one little space. I LOVE IT! This week I start the kitchen and dining area. I think that the office and that area are the two most cluttered, overwhelmed spaces I have ever had to function in and they drive me nuts. I think I will have more control of everything in my life, I will be better at budgeting and I will be able to focus on the things I enjoy without the threat of chaos at any moment in the back of my mind. I am convinced that I will sleep better, and be more productive every day. I have had three days of clean, organized office, and I can already feel a difference in my spirit. I never wanted stuff. I have always been free of that burden, able to drop what I have at a thrift store and head out with a backpack on my back. As a parent, I don’t feel quite that free, nor do I have a real desire to take off like that. I enjoy my soft bed and hot shower, however, I don’t need a whole bunch of stuff to enjoy it, as a matter of fact, all this stuff is killing my spirit, but I never knew how to get a grip on it till last week when I finally got fed up, set my hubby down, and talked it out with him. He has been so supportive and helpful. Had the whole week off work and spent it helping me declutter…start over actually. Its wonderful! I recommend it if you struggle with the clutter of stuff. Once the room is the way you want it, its easy to say…ewww, why do I have this?

So, I have set a one room/one week goal. I aim to do a room a week. I think that the hardest two rooms will take that long, and the rest should be much quicker. I intend to take a day to steam clean each room also, so I have to allow for a day to move it all out and a day to clean it good, then I can start sorting and re-organizing it. Oh the freedom is wonderful. Everyone who comes in my house goes out with a big bag of stuff and it feels GREAT!

So, I ate a meal one time, I was over-stuffed, like too much food on Thanksgiving. It was awful, disgusting, and I hurt for hours. It ruined my appetite and I never ate like that again. I had dieted for years to no avail, but after that binge meal, my appetite changed so much that I lost thirty pounds naturally and have been stuck at a very healthy weight, maybe even a tiny bit underweight, since that day in 1994. The clutter in my home feels like that meal, like I am overstuffed and I never want to feel this way again…out it goes, anything that I haven’t used or can replace for under fifty bucks (within reason, obviously, I am keeping my wedding dress…).

I am making my husband take accountability for all the crap he and his family have shoved to the side over the years, and if he doesn’t want it he has to call his mom or it goes to goodwill. If I am not tied to it, he better claim it if he doesn’t want it to be re-homed or trashed. I am putting my foot down. He is gone at work all week, and I am responsible for the bills and budget, the meals, the home. I cannot manage it like this, and I am really unhappy trying, so here it is. Do you want it or should it go in the trash? Decide today, or I decide for you. I am so happy that he is being supportive in the whole endeavor, and I cannot wait till my home, the entire thing, feels as serene as my office does now. If I get rid of 200 pounds of crap per room (which I have far exceeded with the office) I will lose almost 2000 pounds of crap this next few weeks. Can you imagine? That is a lot of junk. I think I will get rid of more than that, but that is my goal! It might be hard to get rid of two hundred pounds each in the bathrooms, but I can make up for it in other area’s I am sure!

ANd, as for keeping up the energy to keep going with it…wow that Apple Cider Vinegar does good things. I spent a couple weeks drinking it, feeling kinda crappy, detoxing, and tired and grumpy. I now feel a WHOLE lot better in many ways, but I am sleeping like a champ. I have always slept well, but usually not till two or three am. Now, I am tired at ten thirty at night. I get up at five or six am, work hard all day, and get tons done, and fall into bed exhausted at ten o’clock, to wind down and wait for my child to sleep so I can. It’s amazing how normal and regular I feel. I also LOVE that. My dishes are done every night, I don’t look around saying, “I don’t feel like dealing with this today”. I am attacking the chaos in a nearly manic way, and staying charged, rather than binge cleaning and burning out. I have sustained. I am not binge cleaning, well, kinda, but not really. I stop to eat, I sleep the most normal hours ever, and I clean when I am awake. My aim is to get it cleaned and sorted enough that I can sit on my couch and put my feet up and sip a cup of tea without feeling anxiety that I should be cleaning. I have a two month goal. I will keep you all posted. Meanwhile…many blesssings my friends! Till next time…

 

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And…back again

Well, I have landed safely back at my home, and WOW! My brain is full of culture shock! I can’t even begin to process, I have tried to fathom writing it out, and I just can’t wrap my brain around anything, it seems. My best girl bud is gonna come over and process through some of it with me, and I am hoping that an interactive conversation about the things weighing heavy on my mind will help my find order in my head again. I am full of symbolism and imagery, but those things don’t put order to the feelings and thoughts I am processing through. I am more thankful than ever for my mountain life. I learned one thing for sure this week, or had it confirmed at least. I am mountianfolk to the core, and so is my son.

He and I had a lovely vacation. Probably the best trip to the place I used to call home that I have ever had, however, it was still a place that I was very happy to leave. I am thankful for mountains, and the way of life up here. That renewed a lot of my Christian spirit and left me ever so thankful to our dear Creator. I have an overwhelming mix of gratitude and peace, all wrapped up with some icky stuff that place left in me, and I am trying to sort through all of that, hold on the the peace, throw away the icky, make sense of it all, and move forward with my life, like I was so anxious to do before I left.

I had an experience on the reservation that broke my heart, but touched something, and all of a sudden I want to add to my rescue ranch plans. I am not sure how, but I have to find a way to get involved with animal rescue on the reservations. We saw a couple dogs, wild dogs, with porcupine quills in their noses. There is no animal control to call, and those poor dogs are eating trash out of garbage cans at a truck stop. It grabbed a heartstring very deeply, and I think I was supposed to have that helpless feeling, supposed to see those dogs, and supposed to help make a difference in that way. I don’t know but it breaks my heart so badly that I have to do something. I spent the evening thinking about those two dogs, who I could send after them, how I could get them help, and I just could not come up with a reasonable solution, and a task force dream is born. I will be praying very deeply on that issue. I can feel the desire to plan and move forward breaking through the fog that is my thought process, and it feels good. Slowly, the reality of my dreams and desires is coming back to me. Why does that place trigger the feelings it does, even after my demons have been confronted and I no longer dread going there? I was so happy to go back, after having faced my demons. Nothing at all to dread about the place, and yet, three days in and I was desperate for mountain air. It was the best trip back ever. We had a great time, did many fun things, had an incredible time with my son. Bonded like crazy with my sister. Didn’t get to spend near enough time with mom, but kinda anticipated that. I enjoyed my visit, all the while, desperate for mountain air and mountain folk. I am so incredibly thankful for my life!

I guess I get to spend the next few days untangling the wiring in my head, but I anticipate great discoveries about myself in the process. Looking forward to down time and the ability to process moving forward….until next time my friends, many blessings!

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Landed

Well, I made it home. Driving was uneventful, and I am so proud of my son. What a road warrior! He rode in the car with me for 22 hours, and didn’t complain once. He learned how to be co-pilot, and how to read a map, and I gotta say, he did excellent. Vacation is vacation, as usual. We are having a fabulous time. I am enjoying seeing my family so much, and it is the first time I have really been back here since I have outgrown my childhood demons. It is nice, different than the atmosphere I am used to, and I suppose I am having a little bit of culture shock.  I am not quite ready to go home yet, still lots I wanna see and do before I go, but I tell you what, I have some serious anticipation and excitement about getting home. Summer will be wrapping up, kids all over the country are already back in school, and we are fortunate to start later than most. I suppose that is great right now. Its less than fabulous when everyone is out of school and we are still going, but I think it has something to do with the growing season where I live. We plant late and so harvest time is a little later too.

I have big plans for when we get home, although I did decide to extend the trip by a day and spend more time in the hills. I am looking forward to getting my boy ready for school, doing the school shopping and working out routines. I am really excited about buckling down and looking for that rescue ranch. I am looking forward to really focusing on my farmers market aspect of things, and getting some creating done. I completely dropped the ball on my facebook Bible Study, and looking forward to getting that up and running again.

I have had a headache for the last two days. Not sure what is causing it. I am looking forward to writing a long update, but having trouble putting it all in focus from the midst of it. About a million thoughts are running through my head. I am processing things like, coming home for the first time in ten years. The differences, and what has not changed. I am thinking about what I am going to do when I get home, how it feels like we made it through this crazy summer, and it almost feels like I am going home to a fresh start.  That leaves me with tons of anticipatory thoughts. I am looking forward to finding that ranch, and a new church to go with it, I feel SO alienated from my own church, and it has been so long that I have been there, well, I want church, but not sure where to go, and not comfortable in my own. The reasons I am not comfortable in my own have been so long past now ( I think it has been three or four months at least) that I can barely remember what they are, well, not true, but I do feel like they are less raw, those wounds, than they were. Still, I just don’t feel like they are the family that I once perceived them to be.

Anyway, it has been a fabulous week. I have had a lovely time, and I look forward to  a few more days of it. I also look forward to the rest of my travels and tourism with my son, and a great fresh start when I get home. Many blessing my friends! Till next time…

 

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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!

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Ready to go…

Oh my goodness! What a fabulous few days it has been since I have last written. I have two girls, on the same page, who think so differently, and they are going through the same types of things. They both turn to me for an ear to listen, and I love sharing my perspective! I always learn so much, and I can always find a time in the conversation when perspective changes. It is incredibly rewarding, and God equips me with words I could never have found on my own. Some of the profound things I come up with in these conversations shock me, and I know it can only be God, equipping me with the words that they need.  It is as much intended as a lesson for me as my conversational counterpart, I believe.

I have been inundated with little tidbits of good news today. My weekend was fabulous. Far too fast, and I actually got tears in my eyes and had to get another good long hug when my hubby left this time, but he surprised my be telling me that if he got a weekend off, he would come visit me at my moms, which is only a half hour further away than our home, its just the other direction. Awesome!

A cousin whom I admire deeply also informed me that she had plans to try to fly out, and ride back with me. Her home is at the halfway point, and it would be nice to have her with for the first part of the trip!

My cats nasty, nasty wound is clearing up very nicely. I was worried for a few days that I may have screwed her up for life, but the scab fell off and it is healing beautifully. I have always had a good instinct for these things, and I know when I need a vet, and what I can probably hack. I had a moment of worry there for a minute, but it passed and she looks great.

I spent the day working on preparations for my trip home on Friday. I got a lot done. My car is in top notch shape, got a tune up and oil change, and my boy and I spent the day detailing it and cleaning it up nice. Perfect, its all ready to go. I am checking the chores off the list and moving forward with my preparations. It should be a good week, and it should fly by. It was a hundred and six degrees today, and I am beat. Cleaning the car in the hot sun will wear you out quickly!

My house is pretty clean, just a little maintenance to get it up to par for a vacation. Made arrangements for a plant and cat sitter, and I am getting everything in order to leave for an extended period. It will be nice to come home to a clean, organized home!  A fresh start to routine and moving forward with rescue ranch plans!.

I really look forward to traveling with my son! He and I have not taken a big road trip since he was very little, and it should be quite the adventure! I hope to do some poking around in the Black Hills,and see some touristy type stuff that I would not normally stop for. I will be sure to take lots of pictures!

It has been a long, productive day, and I am exhausted. Many blessings friends…until next time.