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Mind Control

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Good morning my friends. I often talk about happiness being a choice, and how we need to learn to sharpen our tools to make it possible to choose happiness. I think perhaps the most important factor in this equation is guarding our thoughts, so I thought maybe we could touch on that today. This may be the singlemost important factor in choosing joy, simply because it sets you up to sharpen all of the tools necessary to choosing contentment.

So what does it mean to control your thoughts? I am sure many are reading this thinking “I can’t help what pops into my head”. But, you can. I hope to show you how to do that today. Negative thoughts are always bound to pop up. The enemy at work. The enemy lying to you. But you can overrule them. You can decide that they are lies and you can push them out. It is a critical skill and if you want to master happiness and sustainable contentedness, then it is a tool you must start sharpening right now. It is not as hard as it sounds, and like any skill, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes, until eventually it is habit to look for the positives. To find yourself on the brighter side of any given situation. It is rising above the negativity and lies, and choosing to find a reason not to succumb to them.

It is the action of rejecting the “poor me”. Let me see if I can give an example or two. I know a mom. She has three beautiful, healthy children. She has a loving partner who is there for her. She owns her home. I am sure she has many, many other blessings (a car, food, clothes, and a three month surplus of diapers stacked in her kids bedroom, are just a few examples that come to mind). But, she only see’s her “poor me”. Consistently she talks about how miserable her life is. How she lacks worth and how no one cares for her. I happen to know her family very well, and there is no truth to this. They love her, support her, and are there for her every time they can be. However, if she wants something and there is no one there to comply, she starts projecting shame and blame on those very people who love her so unconditionally. So, healthy people learn to draw boundaries. If there is a day that someone draws a boundary and can’t drop their lives to come give her what she perceives as a “need”, she freaks out, publicly and loudly, about how awful her family treats her and how no one is there for her and blah blah blah. It is quite tiresome to read day in and day out actually.

What she doesn’t realize is that she has a choice. She can choose to take that one little moment where she didn’t get exactly what she wanted, hate and blame the world for not giving her what she wants, and spend the day in a miserable rage about how no one loves her and everyone sucks, or she can chase out those lies. I know her family very well. I have seen how much they do for her, how much they care for her, and how proud of her they are. It is her choice, and hers alone to handle this situation as she see’s fit. However, its possible that she would have a whole lot more joy in her life if she could approach it more like “Oh dang, everyone has to work today. Its really too bad that no one can watch the girls while I run to the store. I am so thankful that I don’t have to do this alone every time”. Or “Crap, mom the babies sick and I really need some toilet paper, no one around to help right now. I would be so thankful if you could grab me a pack after work”. Instead, we all get a tirade about how no one loves her, everyone hates her, she can’t count on anyone, and everyone can screw off. Somehow, I don’t see that public tirade making many want to help her in the future, and so, her stinking thinking defines how tomorrow will go. How things will go next time she needs help. Our thoughts control where we end up. Somehow we need to let go of the notion that life is out to get us when it doesn’t go exactly as planned, and figure out how to find a blessing in it. If we constantly put down the ones who can’t just drop everything and be there for us every single time we ask, how much will they help us in the future? Who will even want to be around us? And our thoughts perpetuate a future. If we spend our days looking at unfortunate events as just that, no more, no less, we can find gratitude and a bright side to it.

Now, on the contrary. Add a bit of gratitude and patience to the situation and it becomes an entirely different path. A little perspective, if I may. What if she turned that shame filled pity party into gratitude. “Oh thank God I have so many people on my side. One of them will be off work in just a few short hours and can help me then”. It isn’t life and death, and if it is, then 911 is the appropriate answer. If she was showing gratitude, then perhaps someone would be happy to help just as soon as they had time. And the cycle continues. Show people you appreciate them, and they will continue to help you. Shame them, and they will walk away. A simple, but obvious example of how our thoughts determine our future.

If we spend our days focused on the “can’t, but, won’t” thought process, we never will. But if we spend our days in the “can, yes, will” thought processes, eventually, success will be ours. Its just simple fact. It may not seem true when you are stuck in the stinkin thinking mindframe, but with a little practice, you can force yourself to overcome this mindset. I am positive of this, because there was a time in my life that stinkin thinkin was all I knew. I was sure that God hated me, the whole world was against me, I couldn’t count on anyone, and I would always fail. Moments of joy were fleeting and always stolen by the enemy and his lies. It constantly felt like “one step forward, ten back”. My life was full of words like “never” and “no one”. Poor me. I would let my emotions consume me. Disappointment felt like defeat. Let me tell you, the two are not one and the same.

The choice belongs to you and you alone. Do you choose to let your emotions rule you? To define your reality? Or can you step outside of the box and see the bigger picture? Is the situation going to kill you? If not, there is a good chance that you might be overreacting. This is training in our brain, and like any habit, it takes hard work and determination to overcome it, but it is still a habit, and habits can be changed. For me, It looked like years and years of therapy and hard work. I had to learn how the amygdala worked and some days no matter what I tried,  I could not force those emotions into a reasonable place, until I learned to walk. For me, the only way I could find to break that pattern was to physically force it away. This was perhaps one of the hardest things I ever had to learn to force myself to do. When you are full of rage and shame and pity, there is nothing you want less than to bundle up your kids and go for a brisk walk. Heck, even without the kids, it can be so incredibly hard to pick yourself up and decide you will not tolerate these awful thoughts for one more minute. The thing about stinkin thinkin, and being so consumed by an emotional response, is that you are essentially in “fight or flight” mode. Our body pumps chemicals into our body that tell us to fight or flee when our situation seems unhealthy. This mechanism is intended to be of short duration, just long enough to get us to safety. When we are stuck in an emotionally driven state, these chemicals pump constantly and are very unhealthy for us. Walking forces them to stop pumping. A brisk walk, or any other exercise that gets your heart rate elevated for at least twenty minutes, signals to your amygdala that the threat has passed, and triggers rational thought. When it becomes habit to live in this emotionally controlled state, we can’t always just talk ourselves down. For me, it took many weeks of forcing myself to get that heart pumping every time the negative thoughts overwhelmed me. I had to retrain my brain that that was not how we were going to live. I had to train my brain to do something different than what it was doing. I had to teach it that the amygdala is not for every day use, it is for emergencies only. Fight or flight. Life or death. When your every day thoughts are controlled by emotion, it becomes pretty clear that you must retrain your brain in order to see a change. No one wants to go around with a “poor me, life sucks and will never get better” attitude, but until you choose to physically take control of it, that is all you will get out of life.

If you want to thrive. If you want to choose joy, then you have to kick out the “can’t, but, won’t” attitude, and physically force new thought processes. Exercise is the most effective tool I know for this. The first two or three times it will be hard. Your pissed. You don’t wanna walk. You want to live in this self righteous, “screw everyone” place. It feels justified. You feel like “why should I have to be the one to change?” Well. Reality is simple. If you want your life to change, only you can make it happen. You can not expect others to do it for you. Its so hard to get up and force yourself out of that self righteous place, find some humility, and decide to walk. But after a few times, the relief you feel becomes apparent, and there comes a day when it is the only solution. When pity isn’t an option and you must walk now. I can already hear it. “BUT I CANT walk now. I have the kids. Its snowing. My foot hurts”. Well, there is the “but, can’t won’t” that I speak of. As long as you are making excuses, nothing will change. Do some sit ups. Jumping jacks? Jump on the bed. Yoga or Tai Chi. Turn on some music and dance. There is always an exercise you can do. Always. Stop making excuses and find one that will work for you right now. That is how you take control of being emotionally and irrationally driven. Nothing works faster. Nothing works better. Your brain learns new behaviors and soon you walk because you want to. Because it feels good and your body knows the relief of stopping the fight or flight mechanism physically. It becomes a longing to walk, just to control the thoughts. Eventually, your brain retrains effectively and you don’t need this at all. Eventually, you get to exercise simply because you want to. Eventually you learn to react with reason and patience and gratitude. Eventually you overcome the stinkin thinkin and are able to apply the positive thoughts without a forced mechanism at all.

And one day, you will wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or life will throw you a curve ball, and rather than freaking out and allowing your emotions to dictate your behavior, you will have the skills to let your behavior dictate your emotions. You will assess a situation with ration and reason. You will have control over your mind and be able to tell those stinking thoughts go away, and you will identify the reasons that they are lies. You are the only person who can affect the changes in your life. If you walk around all day thinking “poor me, life sucks” well, simply put, life is bound to keep sucking. You will walk around defeated and ineffective. You will waste your time ranting and raving about situations that are “beyond your control”, and then later, dwelling on the shame and embarrassment of your tantrum. If you force yourself to consider your blessings, it only stands to reason that your life will be blessed. No one can change your life’s circumstances for you. You must be the change you wish to see. If you want joy and blessings, then you must be willing to see them in your life. If you want to feel good, then you must choose to feel good. We all have the choice. We can wake up and spend our day dwelling on the burdens, or we can wake up and chase those negatives away with gratitude for our blessings. If you have trained your brain to focus on the negatives, to be controlled by emotion, then you must reprogram your thoughts. Sometimes it takes actual, physical effort, not just mind control. Sometimes you have to get your heart rate up long enough to chase those awful thoughts from your mind, and allow rational ones in. And sometimes this takes a physical routine for days and weeks on end to reprogram you, but only you can decide how you want your brain to work and do something about it. Only you can decide to be the change you wish to see in your life, and take the steps required. Happiness is your choice, but it isn’t just about choosing. Sometimes it is about reprogramming. It is about accountability and taking control of your own life. The choice is yours. What will you choose?

 

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Today’s the day

Good morning everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dancing in the rain

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This meme was made by a friend of mine. I have watched the last couple years, as she has gone from struggling with her place in the world, to being a success and an inspiration for women entrepreneurs everywhere. While I have no desire to discuss the “day without women” happening today, I think this is a great opportunity to honor the women of this world who are choosing to rise above it.

How many of us feel like we are stuck? Like we have been dealt a hand that can’t win? How many of us look at our circumstances and think that we have no options, no chance to better ourselves? That certainly is what it felt like for me. Here I was a single mom with a special needs child. A situation that is most certainly not conducive to working outside the home, but what marketable skills did I have for working from home? Especially with so many doctors and specialists and appointments all the time? And yet, how could I not work? It didn’t feel like I had any options at all. But slowly, things fell into place. I didn’t see it happening at first. It was just doing a favor for another family going through a similar situation to mine. But slowly, as the days unfolded, it became apparent that I did have marketable skills. I was an expert in raising a special needs child, and poverty taught me everything I needed to know about the system and how to thrive in it in order to be free of it. Turns out these are incredibly valuable skills, and they have empowered me to have the insight to teach others how to dance in the rain, something I have loved doing since I was just a wee girl.

A good storm leaves everything feeling refreshed. Isn’t that what we want the storms of life to do? They should refresh us, give us another reason to keep fighting. Every obstacle that we overcome just adds to our beauty. I can truly say that if not for my obstacles, I would not be the beautiful, positive woman I am today. Hindsight allows me to look back and see how strong I am.  Had someone told me twenty years ago, that I would weather this messy storm and come out better for it, I would not have believed them, and yet, here I am today, knowing full well that I have worth and a reason for being here. Refreshed. Knowing that I was put on this Earth to make a difference for others. To lead them through murky waters and help them find the freshness that comes after the storm. I often talk about sharpening the tools in your shed so that you are prepared to weather any storm. What does that look like?

It starts with identifying your goals. I have met women who don’t even have goals. They are so unaware of their worth that they only exist to parent and wife. Oh how that breaks my heart! So lets back up one step. Do you even know what your goals are? If not, then today is the day to start figuring out what you deserve. I always ask my clients to start by telling me their goals. If they can’t, then we back up to their passions. Start here. Make yourself a list. What are you passionate about. If you had no obstacles, unlimited funds, and total freedom to do whatever you want, what would you spend your time doing? If you want to be successful, you cant just jump on every whim bandwagon that comes your way. There is no overnight get rich quick scheme that works. You need to pick one or two passions and stick with them. Some days you will feel defeated and want to quit. Some days people will make you feel like you aren’t doing a “real” job. Let those people live their lives, and you just keep following your passion. Passion is what will keep you focused on your dreams. Pick something you just can’t live without. What do you feel most strongly about? What do you think about every single day? It must be something  that you feel passionate about in order to keep you focused on the end goal. Write down five or ten passions. Decide which ones you think you can work towards right now. For me, I have so many passions, I had to make a vision board just to keep them all organized and keep my priorities realistic. Do you have your list? Ok next step.

Identify your obstacles. What keeps you from making those passions a part of your reality? Once you have identified your passions and obstacles, its all downhill from there. You can look at your obstacles, one at a time, and find outside the box solutions. What works for society, and other people, may not be what works for you, but that doesn’t mean that you are doomed. It means, just like raising a special needs child, that we look for unconventional ways to make life work with us. Raising a special needs child isn’t about “fixing” them. ( For the record, there is absolutely nothing that needs “fixing” about these beautiful souls. Rather we could learn much from them). Raising a special needs child is about figuring out how to make their world keep spinning, in a separate rotation than the rest of the planet, while bringing synchronicity to the two worlds. It is about overcoming obstacles with outside the box, non traditional solutions. If parents of special needs children all over the planet can do this, then so can you. Identifying the goals and obstacles are the first steps to overcoming them. From there, you can pick one obstacle at a time and start the outside the box brainstorming. How can you overcome each obstacle? One at a time. Don’t try to tackle the whole world today, just pick one.

Some days we are on top of the world, and other days it feels like we may never reach our goals, The simple fact is, if you keep putting into it, you will eventually get something out of it. You can’t put energy into something every single day and not see a result. Maybe you don’t see it today, but you will one day. You will look back at those baby steps you started taking as a leap of faith, and maybe even as a last ditch effort to find your worth, and you will see that each baby step brought you a little bit closer to the end goal. Just keep trying!

This meme today. I met this woman through facebook a while back. Maybe two years or so ago. I doubt she has any idea what an inspiration she has been to me. When we met, it was because of a struggle she was going through of her own. Not my place to disclose. I felt like an idiot reaching out to her. I felt that I was probably overstepping my boundaries, but something just wouldn’t let me ignore it. I had to let her know that I was all too familiar with her struggle and that at very least, she wasn’t alone. There are others out there who get it. As time has passed, I have watched her to overcome those struggles, and any new ones that present. What she doesn’t realize is that with each struggle she overcomes, she becomes more and more beautiful to me. I imagine I am not the only woman who feels this way. She is so strong, such an inspiration, but when I met her, I don’t think she was feeling that way at all. I watched as she slowly took on those obstacles, one baby step at a time. I have seen her overcome them time and again, and I have seen her find passion and pursue it. What a difference it has made in how she projects herself. I watch her struggle with ups and downs, and continue to prevail. I believe this is because she found her passion, at least one of them, and put everything she has into bringing it to fruition, while juggling a busy family life and all of the other little storms life throws her way. She doesn’t let the obstacles slow her down, she moves around them. She is truly an inspiration and I think we could all learn a little something from her. When it rains, she kicks off her shoes to dance in the puddles. I am truly thankful for her, and for overcoming that fear of reaching out to her. Today, while I was sitting here thinking about what to write about, I saw this meme come up on Facebook, and it was just the perfect theme for the day. I got her permission to share her links, and I hope that you are inspired by her too. Check out her business. Throw some support her way. She is working very diligently to overcome the obstacles, and she deserves our support. The transformation I have seen in her since she embarked on this path should be an inspiration to all of us. Lets show her some love. You might be surprised how she inspires you to find your passions in the process. At least check her out. Lets band together, on this “day without women” and lift each other up in loving support. It’s international womens day, and I, for one, will be honoring the beauty of strong women, not boycotting my role. What do you have to lose? Today is a day to kick off your shoes, dance in the rain, and celebrate the worth you didn’t realize was hiding in each and every one of you. Thank you Sandy! Thank you for being a positive light in my life. Thank you for being beautiful and following your passions. Thank you for sharing the struggles as you do so, and keeping it real for us. I think you are amazing, and I will be dancing in the rain today, thinking of you, and all the women like you, who are brave enough to take on the obstacles.

You can find Sandy and her passions here on Facebook, and here is her website. Lets do this peeps! Lets lift each other up and show the world our beauty! Together we can move mountains. Together we can overcome. Please let me know if there is a way I can help you find ways past your obstacles. Meanwhile. Don’t forget to dance in the rain!

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Answered prayers

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Good day, my friends! I hope today finds you well. It has been a few days since our last encounter, and my brain is just swimming with thoughts. So many things I would like to talk about today, choosing one subject is hard. Bare with me if I jump around a bit. First, a disclaimer. I did not make that meme, and I don’t know who did, but it sure feels perfect for today.

Its been kind of a rough winter here. Who am I kidding? Its been one of our toughest seasons ever. I have been really sick since December. I have tried every remedy that I can find, from conventional medicine and antibiotics, to every alternative treatment I can find. I am finally feeling a bit of relief with my last two remedies, the two I was most apprehensive to try and yet, they seem to be working better than everything else, and so, while they make me nervous due to lack of scientific backing (I like to research things before I put them in my body), I may have finally found a routine that works. Sweet Heavenly relief!

Its been an exceptionally long, harsh, cold winter for us. It has gotten so trying. Being a single income family, we can’t afford for hubby to be ill. Just two days of illness set us back quite a bit, and the challenge of heating this big old home has proven to be a lesson in patience and perseverance this Winter. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. The days are slowly warming up, and we were blessed to receive a cord of wood from our wood company, out of the kindness of their hearts. I cried with inexplicable gratitude for answered prayers this weekend. Somehow, with patience and trust, we are going to survive this winter. The end is in sight.

We spent the weekend processing wood and setting up the seedling nursery. Its time! Yay! Time to start seedlings. My all time favorite season. I used to volley between Fall and Spring as my favorite seasons, but Spring is starting to prevail, because I spend most of the winter impatiently waiting for planting time. Something so satisfying about watching those little seeds pop up out of the soil. Longing for the day I can start to harvest the fruits of these precious babies. My mouth waters at the thought of fresh garden produce.

I find myself lamenting on so many blessings, and so incredibly grateful for answered prayers. For faith and patience. I find myself wondering if any of you felt compelled to look into the ways your food is processed after my last post. Do you want to hear more about food? Do you want to hear about some of the natural remedies I prescribe to? What do you want to talk about? I find myself flooded with topics. We can talk about homesteading, simplifying and slowing down (yes, it IS possible), alternative remedies? What is in your food? I certainly don’t want to talk about politics, although I could rant about them for some time right now. We can talk about special needs, natural remedies, food processing and gardening. We can talk about crafts and sewing or homemade body products, without all the chemicals. For that matter, we can talk about the many ways to reduce the chemicals in your environment. I have so many passions, we can talk about just about anything you can think of.

I am all over the place.

Scattered.

Overwhelmed with important subjects.

What do YOU want to talk about?

What can we explore together?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and exploring whatever topics you are interested in, together. I look forward to meeting you and talking to you. I look forward to finding ways to help each other grow into the most loving, positive, joyful forces we can be. How can I help you expand your joy? I have committed to prioritizing this blog. It is time, and God has made that clear to me, so what shall we chat about? I can’t wait to see what you come up with for me. Until we meet again, much love, my friends, and may your days be filled with the loving light of God.

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Living my words

Good morning and happy Monday, my friends. Its been a few days but I haven’t forgotten you. Just been busy living my words. It was barely moments after my last post that I started getting big, messy gifts from God. One thing after another, they were piling up faster than I could open them. Boy did I find myself having to remember everything I just wrote for you. There reaches a point where there is just nothing you can do but give it to God and trust that He will carry you, and that is where I found myself on Friday afternoon. One baby step at a time, I asked God to lead me through the solutions. We managed to tackle a pretty heavy load of messily wrapped packages this weekend, and here I sit, fresh, rejuvenated, and ready to start the week with a good attitude and full of hope. It left me feeling full of gratitude, and gratitude is one of the tools I feel is needed to have lasting joy, so lets talk about that today.

Giant burdensome blessings have a way of helping us grow our gratitude, but only if we choose it. I could sit around crying about the mountain of challenges that seemed to show up all at once. There was a time in my life that I had forgotten how to see the bright side, and that is exactly what I would have done. I would have cried, ranted, complained, whined, and basically had a pity party, to anyone who would listen. Once upon a time not so long ago. But, today I have tools. I have tools of choice, and one of those is gratitude. I can not tell you what a difference it makes to fight the pity with gratitude. You have something to be thankful for, of that I am sure. You are alive, breathing, and reading this right now, aren’t you? Finding gratitude has a lot to do with the little things. On days when things feel so hard, that you have to force yourself to find gratitude, this can be challenging, and that is why it is your choice. You can choose to feel sorry for yourself. Why me? Poor me? Oh life is always out to get me! Or, you can make the conscious choice to focus on other things. Is the sun shining today? Do you have clothes on your back? Did you have the luxury of coffee with your breakfast today? For that matter, did you have breakfast? Do you have a healthy child (even if they are attached to your hip when you just need a minute of quiet). Are you a comfortable temperature? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, and the thousands more just like it that I could ask, then you too are blessed, my dear. You just have to choose it. You may have to look hard, but you can find hundreds of blessings in your day, week, month and life.

Recognizing your blessings can be a real challenge, especially if you are already feeling defeated by life. Thankfully, this is one of those tools that, the more you use it, the sharper it gets. That may be one of the best things about preparing a good strong tool shed. All of the tools for joy are unique in that the more you use them, the sharper they get. And you can do things, simple things, to help you remember to choose gratitude. I am a big fan of “notes to self”. More than once I have recommended that clients write themselves reminders. Post it notes are cheap, but if you don’t have any, a simple piece of scratch paper will do. Maybe you have some scrapbook supplies and want to make them pretty. Whatever will motivate you to read them. Make yourself reminders, and stick them anywhere that you are apt to read them.  You have to start where you are at. My notes to self look much different than they did ten years ago. Back then, I had to remind myself simple things. To remember that I am loved. To be thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my mouth, and a car to drive. Having spent some time with a two year old, couch surfing, I know what nothing looks like, but even in those times, I had friends who would let us sleep under their roof. I had this beautiful child to go through this journey with. I didn’t know how to appreciate it at the time, unfortunately. I often say that I try to live without regrets, but if there is one thing I would change about my life, it is the lack of gratitude and perspective when I was a young mother. I realize that there is a point to growing and learning as you age, and that a young mother can’t expect to know all that, but boy would it have had a profound impact on the quality of life that I was able to provide for my child. Gratitude takes the focus off the negative. You really are what you think about. If you spend all day focused on the horrors in a negative light, you will always be a “poor me”. If you must focus on the negatives, then change how you see them. What can you do to change them? If you focus on the positives and the problem solving aspect of them, you will be the change you wish to see. We really do live where our mind dwells, and luckily, we do have a choice to dwell where we want to live. I read all kinds of articles about how anxiety and depression cannot be healed. How they can’t be controlled. How they are a result of chemical imbalance, and it frustrates the crap out of me. I lived with anxiety, bipolar disorder, severe depression. They are not life sentences and I am living proof. You are not doomed to a life of meds and fighting every day. You don’t have to be a survivor forever. At some point you can just live. There are other ways. You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of pharmaceutical care. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti mental health meds. I used them, and if they are helping you stay above water, you should too. What I am saying is, use the opportunity. The blessing of access to pharmaceuticals, to help you get stronger. To help you take the edge off while you develop the tools. But don’t just rely on them. Use the time to get some healthy tools for choosing your happiness. Use the time to learn what people mean when they say happiness is your choice. Get a therapist. Read some self help books. Focus on the things that are blessings in your life. I had several different therapists over the years, and each taught me different skills. If you aren’t comfortable with your therapist, don’t feel bad admitting that it isn’t a good match, and finding a new one. Going to therapy doesn’t mean that you are crazy. Every single one of us has shame triggers, and it is my belief that every single one of us could benefit from some therapy in our lives. Some people need six months, some need six years, but every single one of us has hang ups. The ones who face them are the ones who will see change in their lives. I know that anyone who has been told that there is nothing they can do about their anxiety thinks I am unempathetic and don’t understand right now, but I promise you, I have been in those shoes. I too, was told I would take medication for the rest of my life to control my emotions. I had no choice but to pursue therapy with my child, and this is how I learned that wasn’t truth. It felt like the doctors were right when I was in the midst of it, but with perseverance, I learned that meds are not the only way to stay above water. In fact, there are much better ways. The meds just took the edge off long enough for me to find strength to fight. You are strong enough too! I know you are! I am happy to take the journey with you if you want a little help, or just someone else in your court cheering you on. You got this!

What do you want to change?  The easiest place to start is to write it down. Get yourself a little notebook and write down the things you want to change. The things you don’t love about yourself or your life, and lets get cracking at how to overcome them. Goals. Obstacles. Problem solving. It applies to every area of life. Think outside the box. Realize that your individuality is Gods plan and try to worry less about what others will think and find what is right for you. The other day I wore some fuzzy pants to the store. Far too thick to be pajamas yet not really public appropriate in that they look like house pants. I looked down at myself, and started checking out the other shoppers in the store to see if anyone else might be there with less than socially acceptable pants on. For about 30 seconds. Then I had a very loud thought. “I am covered. Since when do I care if society likes my pants? I am not here to fit the norms, I am here to get groceries”. I have been sick for months and getting myself to the store a half hour away was a huge blessing. I had to choose. Let anxiety about my pants distract me from my task, and probably be much less efficient about it, or let it go and get about my shopping. I don’t have time to be anxious about my clothes being acceptable for everyone else. It was my choice to let that anxiety go and get back to my grocery list. I promise, with practice, you can learn it too. It is a long, arduous road, but boy, when you get to the destination, you are so glad you didn’t wait another day to start the journey. Happiness, and sustainable peace, don’t happen overnight, but they can be yours if you are willing to put in the time and energy. Start by finding as many things as you can in your life to be thankful for, and lets move forward from there. Until next time, Godspeed my friends.

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Commitment/Hindsight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As the wind blows

Wind is not my favorite of the elements. While I recognize the importance of it, I find it truly unsettling and disruptive. Today we have 65 mph wind gusts and I find that even within the protection of these walls, it is wreaking havoc on my focus. As I find myself confined to my warm and cozy home, again I find myself in a place of reflection. I don’t make New Years resolutions. I think I have mentioned that before. This year, however, I decided to do things a little differently. No resolution. But a new approach. I have had these huge dreams on my plate for years now, and each year that passes I find myself longing more and more to achieve them. I have spent so much time daydreaming about the things that I want to change, with no idea how to do so, but to at least stay focused on them, and because I just don’t know what else to do with myself sometimes when the longing gets bigger than the drive. This year, I was sick on New Years. I have learned fairly recently, to honor my body when it speaks to me, so I wrote off an entire week to relaxing and making a plan of attack for this year. How was I going to achieve more of my goals than I had in previous years. How was I going to make this my most productive year I have had yet? How was I going to practice what I preach and stay committed to being the change I want to see in the world? How was I going to manage my time so that I could maximize my productivity on so many callings. My joys are abundant. I love my work with the non profit. I love my work writing and helping people heal. I love teaching people how to choose joy. I love my garden and the start of my small homestead. I love my crafting and sewing. I have an abundance of blessings and skills to put to use. How do I better manage my time so that one doesn’t get left behind while I am focusing on another. How do I make myself stop binge writing to do the dishes and vacuum the floor? How do I balance my time between the aforementioned gifts? So, I spent that first week of January making a vision board.

I could rest, daydream, and craft all at once. Whats not to like? Also, I had high hopes that this vision board would keep me on task. Unfortunately, I have spent the majority of this winter under the weather, and yet somehow, I have managed to be more productive than at any time previous. Even on my worst feeling days I found productivity. Somehow, despite months of compromised health and productivity, I have managed to be more on task than ever before. Yep. I love my vision board. I may even make a “resolution” to make a new one for each new year that I am blessed to experience. I find myself lamenting at how productive I would be if I were feeling 100%. Oh how I am looking forward to that! Meanwhile, I am thrilled at the difference it has made for me even with this never ending respiratory crap. My laundry is caught up. My dishes are all done every night after dinner. My home is clean and I could invite guests in at any time without being embarrassed by the mess. This is a huge accomplishment for me. And making my bed. Do you make you make your bed every day? If not, I recommend you try it for just one week. Even if it is the only thing you accomplish for the day, it will change your perspective. I don’t have words to explain it, but I promise you, it changes your entire outlook. I have a hunch why this is, but no definitive theory. I read an article many, many years ago about the rooms of our home reflecting the “rooms” of our spirit, and how each room in our house is a reflection of how we prioritize and treat ourselves. The bedroom was the room that pointed to caring for your inner self, and I suspect that making the bed as a priority each day is somehow representative of self care. This is just a hunch, and most likely because I have no other explanation for why it makes such a tremendous difference in my attitude, to take the five minutes to make my bed every day.

My vision board reminds me daily, that I aim to accomplish much with my time on Earth, and that I must sacrifice five minutes of daydreaming to make my bed, another five to sweep the floor, and so on and so forth. I aim to give God the credit for all that I do manage to accomplish, for without Him I am nothing. I would still be lost in the dark unaware of my worth. It is only because of Gods love that I am able to carry out these missions of mine. If not for the love of Christ, I would still be flailing in the dark wondering “why me?” all day long. And so, He gets a section at the top of the board. In the center is the dream home I picture, and around it I divided the board as if suns rays were the dividers. I placed each dream and goal in a strategic area of the board, and allowed for one section to overlap another. I placed fitting scripture in each section of the board, so that I will remember to give God the credit and to choose a positive attitude on the hardest days. One of the goals that I have committed to, is trying to write more every day. God gave me a gift of words, and an understanding of the recipe for unwavering love and contentment. It would be such a shame to waste those gifts just because I have poor time management skills. My vision board was a commitment to better manage my time and to stay on one of the many tasks at hand in the most balanced way I could find, while giving God the credit for rescuing me from the dark, and leading me in light.

And so, I recognize that I have made a half-hearted attempt to maintain this blog. That I have kept it to myself out of, well, if I am honest, a lack of self esteem and a fear of judgement. Many years have passed since I first started this blog, and many changes have come to pass. I have finally decided that it is time to focus on my words, and that over the next few weeks and months I will strive to be more diligent about the message of love that I am supposed to be spreading. I have gotten a grip on the ‘burdens’ that were overwhelming me, and it is time to move this blog to a front burner. It is time for me to start prioritizing the message of love and joy. I will make better attempts to be here consistently and to create a daily writing routine. Our world needs less hate, and a lot more love, and this is one thing I can do about that. I am determined. I will do my best to be consistently here. Candid and honest. I want more from my life. I am not a financially motivated person. I am motivated by love. Specifically, Gods great love. I am motivated by helping others to find and understand Gods great love, and my first priority and goal here, is to spread it to anyone who wants to hear it. I look forward to finally prioritizing this part of my journey, I can’t wait to see where it takes us! And while this crazy wind has prevented me from spending that hour I planned for garden prep, it opened up an hour for me to be here. There is a blessing in EVERY cloud. See you soon, my friends. God bless.

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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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Faith. Patience. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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