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Seasons of stillness

What a Spring! With the change of seasons, comes opportunity for personal reflection. This has been one long winter, and one Spring that has been a long time coming. We finally got two days in a row of better than 60 degree temps. Yard work has begun, the perennials have started to emerge. It is time for outside Spring cleaning. Just in the nick of time too, because I was losing my mind being cooped up in the house so long.

So many changes in store for us this season. The fledgling has flown the coop. I have resigned from the non-profit group that I founded, and am about to embark on a brand new adventure. It is time to start focusing on my future, now that my son has successfully set off in pursuit of his. My dreams have been moved to the front burner, and I could not be more thrilled about it. I have so many ideas about what the future holds for us, and the good we can do in it. Today my mind is just overflowing with possibilities and thoughts about what might be in store. I feel like I have twelve paths in front of me, and I am just not quite sure which to explore first. A lot of personal exploration in the season that is upon us.

I can clearly see my roles changing. I went from working with special needs adolescents and low income families, to becoming a mentor for young women and young couples. It is a refreshing change, I must say. I can’t quite sum it up into words yet, as I have just come to the realization recently. All I really know for sure, is that it is refreshing to be working with a different group of people.

I discovered a charity recently that I fell in love with. As a bit of a fabric hoarder, I can not resist clearance fabric and I have totes and totes of it. Now I have a use. the charity is called Dress a girl around the world, and their mission is to make simple dresses for orphans around the world. It is a fabulous charity, and I am thrilled to be doing something so near and dear to my heart. I have made three dresses so far, and look forward to making many more. My goal is 100.

 

Once they are made, I can send them to the organization and they will have a volunteer deliver them to an orphanage in an impoverished region of the world. I love everything that this charity stands for, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to make dresses for a long time to come.

I have decided not to garden this year. As my home has become to large for me now that my child has grown and moved, and my spare room is not necessary for clients to stay in, we are looking to downsize. Because a move is imminent, I will spend the summer tearing down my garden and getting ready to move it, instead. I still have a lot of perennials coming up though. Strawberries and Asparagus, flowers and succulents, a few parsnips that I planted last year, some volunteer bunching onions that did not come up for me last year, and of course, dependable chives as usual.  You will just have to ignore my weeds. We have only had two decent days here this Spring so far, and I just haven’t gotten to them. I have a few more that should come as it warms a bit more, but I will let my perennials be until we find a place, and hope like heck that it is a good time to transplant when we do. We need less lawn and bedrooms, and more usable space for our bee’s and chickens and ranch life. A change is in our near future. A big one, and I have no idea what step is next.

I started doing some online work, and all of the money I make goes directly to paying off past debt. What a Godsend it has been. I am hoping this is the door that makes it possible for us to finally buy that little slice of Montana that we will call our own. I am so ready to settle down into a permanent little, off the beaten path piece of land. I have big dreams, and most of them require semi permanence, or at least more than I am able to do on this little piece. This house is more than we need, we are required to expend way more energy on lawn than seems morally acceptable to me, and I think it is wasteful, what happens on this piece of rental property. I don’t own it though, so it is not up to me. Away we must go. Finding a suitable replacement piece is proving difficult. A huge growth spurt in the valley has left housing costs astronomically high, and the ability to get away from the crowds, increasingly difficult. And so the search continues.

Balancing my time is proving challenging to me. I feel like I have a lot of irons in the fire, and no idea how to time it so they are get the right amount of attention. The hubby and I have been doing a lot of good work lately, and are feeling the repercussions of that now. But I have faith, and am just going to keep doing what I am doing. I know that I am here to produce love for those in need. I will do so as long as I am able. Meanwhile, I have plenty of problems of my own that require solving, and I know I have to act on them, I am just at a loss as to where to start, or maybe, which path I need to head down.

And so, meandering I will go. Right now, I am going to meander myself back out to the Spring clean up, while the sun shines warm and bright. I wish you all the loveliest of days. Until next time my friends.

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Expectation

Good day my friends, and Happy New Years to you all. I hope that you have safe and cozy plans with loved ones today. I am so incredibly ready for the new year to begin. My goals and dreams are within sight and I have had plenty of the routine disrupting holiday chaos. I am ready to hunker down, get back on focus, and inch my way toward those dreams without constant interruption. So close that I can almost smell and taste them. My mind is focused on a singular mission. Disruptions annoy me. I realize that I am out of line here and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about expectation this week.
Expectations. Sigh. Such a burden. A thief of joy and peace. Expectations steal our control. They steal everything worthwhile and fill us with disappointment.
I know what sustainable peace and contentment look like. I know what true, organic, deep rooted happiness feels like. The kind that even tragedy can’t really break or steal from you. And, that is how I am able to be 100% confident making this claim. Expectation is the enemy of peace and contentment. It spans the entirety of our lives. And when our expectations aren’t met, we are disappointed. We feel betrayed and we start a vicious cycle of negative thoughts. It is such a hard cycle to break, and it is a constant battle in practice. Here I am today, fighting this expectation demon that I learned how to overcome more than ten years ago. It is always trying to get in. The only way to control it is to be aware of it and physically take control of my thoughts. For me this means writing. It has been building in me for a few weeks now, but it was not until yesterday that I realized that it was disappointment causing my lack of patience. I have trained myself how to look at my emotions and recognize them, and trace them like a paper trail,  back to their foundations.
It became clear for me a couple of days ago. I posted on Facebook about being a safe place and that my door is always open. Almost immediately my phone started ringing with people in tragedy. People who needed a friend. And they all had the same problem. Different versions of it, of course, but the situations all led back to one issue. Expectation. Each of them expected a different scenario than they got, and each of them was putting responsibility for their emotional well being on that expectation.
Our emotional well being is our responsibility and ours alone. It is not our husband, roommate, coworkers, children’s, or anyone else’s job to ensure that we are emotionally stable. The responsibility belongs to us as individuals.
As the week draws on, I get more and more calls, messages, and endless conversations, about how someone is ruining another persons joy.
Let me repeat. Expectation ruins our joy. Not other people. Not situations. Just our own personal expectations.
It started as a feeling of loneliness. My phone was ringing all day long, and somehow I felt alone. I am pretty used to this feeling, and didn’t think a whole lot of it. it just happens sometimes. No biggie. No sadness. Just content quiet in my own space.
And then the phone started interrupting my quiet, and suddenly my quiet alone became a nagging sense of duty.
One after another, people started calling in need. Lacking patience and empathy, I navigated these conversations to the best of my ability, but underneath it all I had a sense of impatience and intolerance.
Underneath it all I was developing some expectation.
At first I felt guilty, that I had put up this post on Facebook offering a safe space, and then when people came calling on it, I didn’t necessarily make them feel better. Soon though, I was starting to feel anger. I know, that when I am starting to feel anger, I am failing to recognize and deal with the emotion that is causing it. So, I stopped. I asked myself why I was angry. The rush of responses in my head was clear as a bell and easily definable. I was hurt and disappointed, and I could tell you exactly why.
As it snowballed and grew into anger and sarcastic judgement that just gushed out of me when my husband got home from work, I knew I had to do something about it. Thankfully I recognize that he is not causing this. He is one of the few that I actually do feel I can share with. It was the fact that I needed to vent it to him that got my attention.
So I started processing out loud. Well, lets see. I was contacted by multiple people in the last 48 hours. The majority of them wanted to vent to me. They asked my advice, but when I gave it, I received a whole lot of “but, can’t, won’t” in response. All of them lacked the ability to see that they came to me about themselves, but that they really did not want to talk about themselves. They wanted to talk about how other were affecting them. They had no interest in truth, or me. When I contradicted what they wanted to hear, they abruptly ended the conversation. It is evident they want me to build them up with what they want to hear, because if I say anything that conflicts what they want to hear, they suddenly have to go, or give me excuses why that advice doesn’t apply to this particular situation. None of them took the time to ask me how I was. None of them even wondered out loud a single time, if my life was on track, or if I myself may have something going on too.
Thankfully, the only thing I have going on is a little expectation disappointment, and that is pretty easy to resolve.
You see, I had an expectation that people wanted to hear my perspective, and that they would at least hear it, rather than block me out when there is no easy answer or when it is not what they want to hear. I had an expectation that a friend who asked if they could come over to talk was on their way, when I put away my project to get ready for their visit, so when two hours later, I had to message and ask if they were still coming, it is fair to say that I had some expectation disappointment that they had no respect for my time. I had some expectation disappointment because I expected to get back what I gave to each situation. I expected that if people were going to interrupt my work for their personal drama, that they could at least be bothered to ask how I was doing.
I mentioned this to a friend this morning, and her response was, “well that seems valid”.
I told her it was absolutely not valid.
And then I had to stop and think. Is it possible that this is valid pain and disappointment? Am I beating myself up and refusing to validate myself?
I decided it was not valid. I know what contentment looks like. Content, happy, well adjusted, emotionally stable people, do not place expectation upon others. Plain and simple. Well adjusted people accept others for who they are.
I have had four conversations this week with people who are upset that their partner is not who they want them to be. That their partner has changed and isn’t the same person they were in the beginning. To that I say “so have you”. You are not the person you were when you became a team, and neither are they. People change, constantly. They grow, they gain perspective, priorities change, responsibilities affect our lifestyles, traumas change us at the core. Every. Single. Person. We all change. No one remains the same, and we would be handed an awful sentence to have it any other way. A prison within our own selves. We need to change, we need to grow. Life would not throw us curve balls if we were not meant to learn from them and become a better version of ourselves.
An expectation that I come across regularly in my work, is that people believe that when they do the work to achieve happiness, that suddenly life gets easier. That less hard stuff happens. I see defeat when that is not the case. Happiness is not about life throwing less curve balls, it is about how well you swing at them. How many can you knock out of the park? In other words, its not the pitch that matters, its the swing. The bat is in your hands. Will you hit the ball coming at you? Will you duck and let it hit the ump? Or will you stand proud with determination, say “I got this” and knock that ball out of the park? Happiness isn’t about less curve balls. It is about your attitude as they fly at you.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there is no room for hurt in a happy life. Hurt, grief, terrible things, are all going to happen to you. We were given emotions for a reason, and it wasn’t to push them down. It was to use them in a healthy way, to help us process a situation, and then to move through them into a functional solution.
If you lose a child, you are absolutely not going to just smile your way through it. If you get a horrible diagnosis or a loved one does, it will hurt. There is just no way around that.
It does not change the fact that you are still responsible for your own emotional health. You can get through tragedy and trauma in emotionally healthy ways. It does not have to be the end all be all that defines you.
The only way to overcome expectation disappointment, is to ditch the expectation. Its called acceptance. It doesn’t come with but’s attached.
Acceptance. It’s a doozy.
Acceptance is realizing and accepting that people are as unique as their fingerprints. That each of us will have our very own set of standards. We may agree with a majority on a lot of those standards, but at some point, you are going to find a standard difference with any single person you come across. No two people are the same, and our standards are as unique as our fingerprints. At some point, every single person will fail to live up to your expectation. And when they do, you will be hurt. It is not because they did anything to you. It is because they did what was right for them, and you took it personally that it was not the same thing that was right to you.
Your partner is going to grow and change as you face life together, and not in the same ways as you. It is your choice to accept who they are becoming and support them, or to try to change them back into your expectation of them. If you decide to try to change them back into who they are no longer, you will be disappointed every time, for you are not letting them be who they are growing into. You are refusing to let them mature into the future version of themselves. The problem with this, is that they are going to continue to change, and your expectations are going to continue to be unmet, and you are going to grow more distant and disappointed in the relationship. It is your choice to focus on the good and support that; or you can focus on the changes that you don’t like, and dwell in that cesspool. The choice, and emotional responsibility, lie with you.
What you may see as a negative change, others may see as a positive. When you are busy pointing fingers at the ways others have failed you, you are blind to the ways that you are failing them.
If we want emotional stability. Happiness. The ability to hold on to peace, even when the bad things happen, then we must look inside ourselves. Your partner, your parents, your friends and loved ones can not provide this for you. As a matter of fact, if they try, it will end up hurting everyone involved.
Codependency comes from a focus on fixing others rather than working on ourselves. I have fought a long, hard battle with codependency, and it rears its ugly head from time to time. Thankfully I can quickly identify it and reign it in. Occasionally it makes me quite intolerant of other peoples bahviors, and I have to check myself.
If there is one thing I am 100% sure of, it is that I am responsible for my emotional stability, and if I am behaving as a codependant, and angry that people aren’t behaving the way that I think they should be, I need a great big reality check.
It is me who is in the wrong here.
It is me who is trying to control others behaviors. (In this instance, I have not actually talked to any of the people about it. I have not tried to control them outwardly or directly, but in my mind, I am upset that they have not behaved in a specific way. That they have not lived up to “my standards”).
How incredibly selfish and egotistical is this??
It is the ugliest part of me.
The part of me that thinks that I somehow know what is the best way for someone to behave according to my personal set of standards. It is my most selfish and ugly part, and I had to think long and hard to talk myself into coming here today and admitting to you all that I have been “shoulding all over” my loved ones.
The situation is causing me pain. Enough pain to distract me from my focus and goals. Enough that I actually took the time to waste my precious hubby time complaining about it. That I let it interrupt my work, and my chores, and my general well being. Shame on me! So here I sit with a decision to make about how to deal with all this expectation disappointment that I have. Clearly I can not carry on with hurt feelings that another person was not behaving within my set of standards. How do I resolve this conflict within me? On the one hand, I am feeling quite taken for granted and unheard. On the other hand, I can not control the way other people react or behave toward me. As far as I can tell, I can choose to confront them individually, but this is just more of me telling them how I expect them to behave, and that I was disappointed that they didn’t meet my standard. I can accept that they are all very good people, and that there are areas in life where different experiences have caused us to have different norms and standards, and let go of my expectation. I can accept that their behavior is a reflection on them, not me. I can face that I may be taking something personally that isn’t personal at all.
I can employ empathy. This is the tool that works best for me. Everyone is different, but I find that if I try to put myself in their shoes, I can empathize it away. Sometimes it is hard, others it is glaringly obvious and simple. While I have used the example before, it still works so well that I will use it again.
Road Rage.
How do you feel when someone is driving too slow, not using a blinker, or doing some other random thing that you don’t find acceptable? Did the man in a big hurry behind you suddenly pass you, cut in front of you and make a sharp turn without his blinker? Oh what an ass, right?
Or is that right?                                                                                                  There are two sides of this scenario to consider. First. How he is behaving, and second, how you respond. His behavior seems erratic, maybe even dangerous. Heck even if he simply followed all the rules but forgot to use his blinker you might find yourself annoyed, right?? How do you respond? Do you slow down? Give him some space, recognize that he is clearly a threat to your well being and create a little buffer room around you? Do you lay on the horn? Flip him the bird? Do you roll down your window and scream angry things at him or even speed up to prove a point?
Remember, happiness is in the eye of the beholder. It happens when you create it. You have split second choices to make. How will you respond to him? If you get angry, defensive, and respond in any unloving way, are you taking the time to put yourself in his shoes? Have you ever needed a pass? Have you ever made a mistake driving? Do you know why he is driving like that? Have you considered that his youngest child may have just been in a severe car accident, or that his wife may be in preterm labor? Is it possible that his mother just fell down the stairs and he is temporarily out of his mind with fear?
Or will you spread anger? If you flip him the bird, scream at him, and act in an irate fashion, will it improve the situation. Will he even notice? Will it affect him at all, or will it just ruin your day? Will you go to work and rant and rave about him to everyone you see? Will you ruin their moment with your negativity too? The only person your anger really affects is you, and the people that you spew your ugly onto. And it never affects them for the better.
Think about it again. What will you do when he cuts you off in his mad panic?
How will you respond.
The choice is yours.
In this exact same way, you have control over your emotional stability.
In every situation. It is your choice. How will you handle it? Will you be the love? The light? The empathy? Will you choose to accept them? Will you accept people who behave in a way that does not meet your expectations? How will you resolve unmet expectations within yourself? Will you give them a little space to be them and not take it personally?
The other choice leads to disappointment. It leads to heartache and unmet expectation.
How will I deal with the hurt feelings of my friends not meeting my expectations? I will remind myself that they are good friends, who have been there for me in the past and are going through a hard time and need my empathy right now. Or I will stop answering their calls, stop giving them my time. If I evaluate the health of the relationship and find that I am being disappointed over and over again, I can surmise that said person and I are like oil and water, and I can choose to spend less time with them. It does not mean that I have to have hard feelings or that I am judging them. It simply means that I am reclaiming control of my emotional well being. I am going to be me. I am going to let them be them. If our paths are meant to cross, they will, and if not, then I am much better off not wasting my life dwelling on the pain of the relationship. Best to break that chain and move forward.
What I won’t do, is compromise my integrity to meet their expectations. I won’t lie to them, so that I can make them feel better by telling them what they want to hear or pampering their swollen ego. I won’t validate blame and accusation. Excuses will quickly bring out the blunt and honest part of me.
I had some guilt about this. About being impatient with excuses and calling fallacies where I perceived them. I am certain I hurt some feelings. I am certain the receiver was expecting a different response from me and is quite upset with me that my answer did not meet expectation, and I am certain it happened with more than one conversation.
I chewed on that guilt for a minute. And then I let it go. I have not done anyone wrong. I was only being me. I did not change who I was to meet their expectation, because I know that that is a recipe for a miserable life. I simply was myself. If their response to me being myself and saying what I see in response to the question hurt or angered them, then much like I needed to evaluate my expectations to resolve my anger,so do they. I am not responsible for their emotional well being and how they respond to me is as much their choice as how I respond to them.
And so, to all of my friends who felt that I was talking about you today, I may have been. Its possible. But I have resolved my expectation. I will be here when you can resolve yours. I have no hard feelings or ill will toward you. I only want the best for each and every one of you. And that is why I can not feed this demon. It is why I can not say what you want to hear. As long as this demon is being fed, it will grow and grow until it consumes you (if it isn’t already). I refuse to feed that expectation demon. I am sorry that you are hurting, and I will do my best to summon empathy. I will not feed the destructive demon that is blame. It is up to you to take responsibility for your own emotional well being.
It can mean any number of things. Maybe you need to decide to get a therapist or some meds for a chemical imbalance, maybe you need to stop talking to someone or consider an alternative to your current living situation. It may require a drastic change on your part. But you, and only you, can achieve peace in your life. And accepting that you can not change others, so how you react to them is key, really goes a long, long way down that path to sustainable peace.

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Bring on the Healing

I am feeling compelled to write, but struggling to get back into the routine of it. Once upon a time, I tried to stay out of politics. However, lately it seems that politics are the thing that spur me to share the most. I have alot to say, and am going to try to do so, without offending anyone. I also realize that I can’t please all the people, all the time, and I have accepted that I have some very hard things to present to the world, things that are bound to get some negative feedback.

 

I have always known that the overwhelming amount of sexual assault that I have lived with in my life would eventually lead to me speaking out about it one day. I have always been nervous for the day that I spoke about it publicly for the first time. I have always thought that I was working my way to that “some day”. Well, I guess that time came and went without me really even noticing, as I published my post several months back about the subject of sexual abuse. I have always spoken freely with my friends and family about what I have been through, but public was a big step, one I was nervous about taking, and then didn’t even realize I had taken already.

So, enter Monday. I open my facebook account, to see the first post of the #metoo campaign. I read it. It registered. I scrolled two posts, and started seeing the plethora of #metoo’s.

I closed my phone.

I sobbed.

Deep.

Hard.

Painful.

Shock sobs.

For about thirty seconds. Maybe even a minute.

And then I stopped. I thought, “Wait? Why am I crying like this?”

It isn’t surprising. It isn’t shocking. I know full well, just how many people have been raped, molested, sexually assaulted in one way or another.

After a few minutes of contemplation. I realized it was relief. Pure, hard, painful, relief. For the first time, people are getting this off their chest. They are opening their hearts to the vulnerability of speaking out. They are done tolerating this crap. They  are aware of how unaware people are, and they are trying to change it. It is everything I ever hoped to do for even just one woman, and it is reaching the masses.

While I am a survivor that fully supports this campaign, as with anything that is controversial, I of course, expected to see some backlash. And it didn’t take long. I want to address some of that backlash, along with some of the wonderful positives that I have seen emerge.

“Victim Mentality”

Are you kidding me??? Anyone who thinks that saying “me too” is victim mentality, fully misses the point of this campaign. I am a survivor, that is true. But a victim. No. I do not consider myself a victim. The bravery required to come out with this information on a public page, where the very people whom you never wanted to tell your dirty little secret to, they are all going to know. They are all going to look at me different. They may even look at me as if I think I am a victim, or seeking attention. However, I think that this is an important issue to address, so I will hesitantly type me too, and press send, waiting for the backlash. It takes strength, courage, and a desire to help stop this madness, to admit that you have been sexually assaulted. It is easy to tell strangers what happened. Not so much the ones you have to answer to and see daily. It is not a campaign for the weak.

Which brings me to “the whiners”

People of both genders who say that this campaign is full of crybabies and whiners who want attention. (Good grief, why would anyone want to belong to this club?) People who are saying that because someone groped you on a bus or you overheard something cringy, that is not a valid reason to claim #metoo. That those folks are just hopping on a political agenda, trying to fit in and get attention. To toughen up and get over it. Well, since I have been brutally and physically assaulted repeatedly,  I feel comfortable stating my opinion that it’s ok. I don’t mind that these people are laying claim to it. I care that the conversation has been started. I care that it is coming up in peoples living rooms. That people are having discussions with their family and friends, about what it means. About where the boundaries lie. About what constitutes assault, molest, and harassment. Our survivors need to be able to speak, if we are ever to educate our would be perpetrators. What makes it our job to draw the line in the sand about what is allowed to hurt and what we are supposed to shrug off? Everyone is different, and people are allowed to be hurt by whatever it is that gets them. Wether it is a cringy comment on a public transportation system, or full blown “hold you down and take what I want” kind of situation. If it hurts, it hurts. To tell someone to get over it? That is what perpetrates victim mentality. It is so important that it bares repeating. Telling someone to shut up and shove that crap down, “just get over it” THAT is what causes victim mentality. As a survivor of brutal sexual assault, it does not offend me that anyone posts “me too”, because they have a right to hurt. Just because it isn’t the trauma I endured, doesn’t mean it wasn’t trauma to them. Again, who decides which trauma is enough trauma to talk about it? We ALL need to be talking about it. It happens. To moms, brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins. Your family has been affected by sexual assault somewhere. I guarantee it.

Names. This is the most asinine thing I have heard in a long time. If you cant tell us the name you must be making it up or looking for attention. Excuse me???? I can tell you a hundred reasons why names are irrelevant. First of all, if you are looking for names as proof, rather than listening to the message, then this is probably lost on you. I was held down and raped, when I was twelve. A good friends older brother. I kicked and fought and screamed, but he was just physically stronger than me. Then there was the family member who molested me from the time I was ten, to the time I was seventeen. Another time, a man I barely knew, in a mutual group of friends, took an opportunity when we were alone, to hold my face down on his member and insult me. I wish I had bitten it! Why didn’t I think of that then? Also, there was the time I was at a costume party with a group of very close friends, and a stranger walked up and grabbed my arm, very hard, trying to pull me away from my friends. This time I fought back, and when he threw me on the ground, a well trained martial artist in that group jumped to my rescue. Would knowing their names make my experience more real for you? Because they were plenty real to me, even when I did not know their names. Why do their names matter? The ones whose names I do know, will just bring shame to their families. Innocent children and siblings who don’t deserve that shame, and honestly, couple of guys in there, I didn’t know their names. What would it change if I did? Some of these survivors are scared. They could lose their jobs, family, or friends if they named their abuser. Some are in legal proceedings and prohibited from giving names. Why are survivors being attacked for not sharing the most private details of their abuse? Its hard enough just seeing all the “me too” posts. Some of them had to work up the courage for days to just post those two simple words. Why are we drilling them? Why are we questioning their motive? Nobody wants to belong to this club.When I found healing, I quit playing the “blame game”. It doesn’t matter who did it. It matters that it happened.

I once considered myself a victim. I once asked “why me?” And then I had years of therapy, found my peace, and became a survivor. I do not prescribe to a victim mentality, and I am excited that this campaign may open the door for others to find their peace. Maybe some are still living in victim mentality, and they want that to stop, and that is why they took this one, first, tiny step  of admitting it happened to them too, but a good portion of these people are survivors, and are speaking up because they want the ones who are still victims to feel safe starting the healing journey. I know that is my hope. That just one person will see my “me too” and feel safe enough to approach and confide in me. And you know what?

My phone has been blowing up nonstop.

It is working.

People want help.

People are asking me to help them overcome this.

And I am thrilled to oblige them. At any level of trauma. I don’t care if it was words, molest, brutal assault. Healing the shame in this society is the first step to getting a healthy community back, and I am happy to help anyone who wants to heal their shame. If you are tired of being a victim, and looking for a safe place to become a survivor, I am here.

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Yellow Leaves. Season of change.

20930196_10213794251472926_904458707_o.jpgGood day my friends! What a lovely day it is! Fall is just around the corner. Just a little over a month away. Last week I saw the first yellow leaves. The fire season has been an outrageous one this year, and the cooler temps and occasional rain showers bring moments of relief from the smoke. Summer is slowing down. I am watching the parents of school aged children prepare for back to school, and only one more set of guests before the season starts to really wind down for me.

I have been so busy going with the flow, and quietly watching the unfoldings around me. What a bittersweet thought stream as I get some down time to process all I have seen and done in the last couple months.

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This summer has been a strange cycle of welcomes and good byes. A continuous cycle of visitors coming, and locals going. One of my besties moved away this summer. Over the course of the last two years, all of my besties have moved away. I made three new friends this winter. One moved away today, the other two were going to move last month but changed their minds at the last minute. I look around at the growth explosion that is about to happen in our tiny community, and I am ready to move away too. I am just waiting. Waiting on direction. Waiting for the answers to become clear.

I had a vision, a dream for our future. I guess I still do, but it has morphed so much in the last year that I need to spend some real quality time sitting back and considering the next step. While the goal remains the same, the details are ever changing. I have a deep sense that I am missing a simple but critical detail. The detail that opens my eyes and shows me what I am looking for.

She took the horses this morning. Maybe that is why I feel lost. We were getting so close. I was appreciating our newfound friendship, but she was giving me more than friendship. She was expanding my knowledge of horses. The reason this whole farm adventure began. I do not know how to imagine a future without horses in my life. I keep telling myself, that it will be ok. That maybe the pasture opening up will provide us with new opportunity, but truth be told, I will gaze at that barn wistfully every day until there are horses in there again.

The moment that Pistol and I bonded. That beautiful stubborn Arlene. And sweet Phoney Baloney. They will always have precious memories in my heart. Possibly the thing I will miss most though, is their dear person. We thought alike. We embraced our eccentricities in a similar fashion. We shared a mutual, understood, love of the equine. Nothing else mattered. No Judgement. No expectations. Just an understanding that being around these delightfully gentle beasts is really what its all about. What matters. Horse people know. The rest will probably not understand. I guess its an equine thing.

My mind is on land, and cabins. It flows constantly with thoughts of the barn at sunrise, and the ruckus of farm animals waking up in the morning. A big garden, an orchard, and a new set of hives. Visions of preserves, stacked high and deep in the pantry, mesh with ideas about extensive opportunity. Yet, I find myself sitting here, sorting thoughts, wondering what it is that I need to really focus on today.

I feel compelled to write, despite a lack of organization about my thoughts. Despite a lack of anything profound to say.

I guess I just need to marinate.

Politics have got me feeling like I am watching from Mars. Has everyone lost their ever loving minds? What the hell is going on? If someone had used a time machine to show me today’s headlines, twenty years ago, I would have denied the plausibility of it, and yet here we stand.

Environment? Where would I begin? I have developed a passion for fighting a toxic environment. I am not talking about this grand planet. Not the way you might be thinking when you read the word environment. I am talking about our immediate environments. The places we reside. The places we visit. The people and things that we surround ourselves with. The food we consume. The air we breathe. The relationships we make. The stimuli that affect us every day. The fact that mental and physical unhealth has become the norm. That has become my personal mission. I intend to undo as much of the toxicity in this environment as I am physically able to. I intend to help others learn how to remove the toxicity from their lives. I intend to help as many people as I possibly can, to see that these issues are not government issues, they are personal accountability issues, and that we are far more capable of solving them, without the governments help, than with their meddling hands in the cookie jar.

I want to help the masses to understand that their anxiety and depression are not life sentences. I want to help people learn the skills that allow them to make healthy, non toxic choices, for their environment.

I never saw myself as the voice of reason before, but today, I want to help people see that they are missing the meaning of life. I want to teach them how to stop worrying, judging, running, and suffering. I want to teach them about acceptance and the choices we make. I want to show people their worth. Not only because it aches to see people hurting, but because if we could all see our worth, then we would know that we can do something about this crap show we are watching.

I see our worth. I see your worth. I see my worth. If only you knew your own strength, mountains would be moving. Life is hard. I think that is the point of it, actually. Life is hard for everyone. Every. Single. Person. People are working with the tools they have, and while most are quick to offer well meaning advice, few are prepared to loan out their tools. You can’t fix broken without the right tools. And somewhere along the line, every single one of us gets chips, and wear and tear, simply from a lifetime of use. Broken is the norm. But we can have a healthy kind of broken. A kind of broken that strengthens us. Heals us. Grows us into beautiful. A kind of broken that, when all the pieces come together, forms a glorious mosaic. A true work of art. I want to teach people that art. I ache, and long, to help people see the beauty in that masterpiece.

Just when I think I know where I need to meet people, along comes some weird political backslide, and I realize that this project of fixing the world, that I apparently have decided to take on, is getting bigger than my shoulders can distribute the weight of.

How do I spread the message that it comes back to environment? The environment that we create for ourselves. The food we put in our bodies, the inter personal relations that we may or may not have developed, in this tech driven society. Relationship is getting lost. We desperately need to turn to our environments. We desperately need to shake a neighbors hand, remember where food is supposed to come from. We need to change our focus. The solutions that we have in the box with us aren’t working, and its time we reach outside the box and find some alternatives. Its time we lend a hand to a neighbor. Its time we stop talking and start doing. Its time for us to become present in our lives folks. Its time to take a good, hard look at ourselves and decide if we are perpetuating hate, darkness, division and negativity, or are we seeking solution, accepting the situation and problem solving. Each and every single one of us needs to step back three steps, decide if we are putting more ugly in the world, or if we are part of the solution.

We need to self evaluate. We need to take our own thoughts apart just like we dissect the media and the politicians. We need to dig all those ugly skeletons out of our own closets, and decide if we are going to purge or perpetuate them. I see so many, quick to judge those in charge, demanding to get what they want, regardless of what side, calling the other side lunatics, and pointing out every human error, mistake, or misjudgement.

I would love to see what you have in your closet. Would you be willing to put it under public scrutiny, for the world to condemn? I certainly wouldn’t. I live an honest life, and I have reached a point in my life where I am rarely ashamed of my behavior, but I still have skeletons, and I will continue to make mistakes, because I am imperfect. Perfection would be a horrible goal to strive for. With no chance of attaining that goal, it would be a set up for failure.

We have to stop screaming at everyone else to fix this. We have to do it. We have to start right now. We don’t have a minute to spare. What can you do to remove some toxicity from your environment, today? (Hint* It helps to remember that the opposite of toxicity is wholesome).

Do one thing today. Just one thing. To start the very daunting task of removing the toxicity from your immediate environment. Maybe tomorrow you will feel compelled to do two. At any rate, if we each remove one toxic factor from our life today, the world becomes a much cleaner place overnight. There is a snowball effect. It is contagious. Hold a door, shake a hand. Smile and wave. Share a brownie with your neighbor. Run an errand for the elderly couple down the road. Start being the change you wish to see, rather than hollering at others to be responsible for those changes, and you will be shocked the difference you can make. Your words, your actions. They can be a source of loving light in this world, or they can be a source of divisive hatred. What do you choose?

 

 

 

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Family. Love. Gratitude. Eagles. Adventure. And Gemstones. How our prayers affect us.

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Hello My friends.  Once again I come to you, apologetic for my absence. Summer just takes so much energy, that I can barely keep up with responsibility, much less find time to sit in the quiet and write. This summer is particularly crazy, and I know my myself well. I know that I have to honor my body to keep myself healthy, and when I see myself faced with months of endless activity, travel,  and guests, it can freak me out a little. Add a fairly new Celiac diagnosis in there and Summer fun becomes quite an overwhelming series of events. As Spring was winding up and my Summer calendar was getting more and more cluttered, I decided that this year, I am going with the flow. I will remember to give my body what it needs so that I can be my best me. I will remember that I do not enjoy the rat race, that I finally broke myself of that feeling “I wish life would just slow down some”, and learned how to apply it. That my friends, extended family, and guests are still part of that race, and that it is ok for me to tell them I need a nap, and can not fathom a fourth day in town this week. It is so freeing. So liberating, to honor my body even when people whom I long to please are going faster than me. But, what I found even more fulfilling, was that my loved ones accepted and respected my decision to honor my bodies needs despite a desire to run with them. After weeks and weeks of running and doing and hosting, I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and so full of gratitude that is overflows out my eyes daily. Yes, this is how I explain my big emotions to people who don’t really understand why I am crying. Look, I am a small woman, with huge emotions, and I just cannot contain them all. Love, Gratitude, Appreciation, they leak out my face in the same way that sadness, hurt, and disappointment do. I easily overwhelm with emotion, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I recognize that emotions are a gift we are meant to use, and I am especially thankful that the majority of mine are on the pleasant end of the spectrum anymore.

My brain feels like it is full of word soup. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and such a peace in my spirit lately. I often find myself looking for a place to start when attempting to teach someone how to break the cycles of anxiety and mental unhealth. It is truth that happiness is our choice, but if no one ever taught you the skills to be happy, how can you possibly believe that? I have come to recognize that when we tell people that happiness is their choice, we have to be prepared to offer some guidance on how to make that choice. I often start by asking people what their passion is. We can’t get to an end goal if we don’t know what it is, and often, following your passion is what brings people real joy in life. I have found that my passion stems from things that at one point burdened me, and it is because of this, that I believe that our burdens are our blessings in disguise. Because the things that have been my biggest obstacles have all led me to understand my calling here on Earth. They have become the things that I am passionate about.

My in-laws were here last week, and my Father in law stated with a chuckle, that I was a passionate person. I doubt that he knows how greatly his simple comment impacted me. One of the greatest compliments of my life. I hope to live with passion and full of love every single day that I breathe. Lately, my passions have slightly adjusted the path that I am on. With the Celiac diagnosis, I have become very educated about food, and the state of our current food system. I believe that diet is going to be a major factor to overcome in order to see mental unhealth resolution, and I have become strongly passionate about the quality of the food our system is providing.

I have had to admit that I am a feminist. That one was hard. The term makes me cringe. I do not want to be lumped into that group. The word feminist evokes images of pink pussy hats, and leather strap wearing women grabbing their crotches publicly, and I just don’t fit in that category at all. In my brain, those images are the demoralization of femininity. So, I have learned to accept that I am a moderately conservative Christian feminist. I am happy to submit to my husband, because he honors me. Because we honor each other, and  to refuse to submit to him would be to refuse to compromise. He compromises, supports, listens, and submits himself to me at least as often as I am asked to do the same for him, and I gladly accept the role as his partner. That means we both submit. But as a woman, I am honored in this home, by this man, and by his family. Feminist is a hard word for me, but the fact is, I had to accept it, because I have developed a strong passion for teaching women that they do not have to live with these hurts and shame triggers. They are not condemned to a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Honestly, I am happy to help men too, I just find that less of them reach out. Maybe that is because I am married and don’t often strike up conversations with random men. I can’t be sure. I just know that if anyone, male or female, wants to heal, I am happy to start them down the path. The fact that 90% of the people I work with are females lumps me into that feminist category. That and the fact that I feel a strong sense of desire to help men understand how vulnerable women feel most of the time. As we grow in our marriage together, my husband, who is a good Christian man, has a beautiful relationship with Christ, and would never knowingly hurt or intimidate another person, has been a spotlight shining on the issue of female vulnerability. He showed me something that we are missing as women, in our quest to feel safe and respected with our men. His willingness to let me bounce ideas off him, and to share about feminine vulnerability, things would never have crossed his male mind, has shown me that we are failing to teach men what women need.

I speak openly about the hurts I have endured in life, the addictions, abuses, rapes and molest that had a part in forming the woman I am today. The shame that I had to overcome to heal them, and the blessings they turned out to be as I shed the shame that kept me bound to unhealth. I have a passion burning in my soul to help women see that they don’t have to live with this shame and lack of self-worth. That it is not their burden to carry, and that they may be able to use it as a gift to help another woman shed these chains one day. But, I am learning that we need to educate men. They need to be taught how to make us feel safe in their presence. That we live in a society where women drop f-bombs right alongside the men, and where women scream of being treated equally, and  somewhere along the lines, men forgot that women are sensitive, That we are the healers and nurturers of the planet. That this is why the old farmers took it to the barn. They knew their women were gentle spirits, and they wanted to keep it that way. Somewhere along the line, dads lost the skill of teaching their boys how to treat a woman. And the only way they can know what we need, is for someone to teach it to them. I speak openly so that we can heal hurts, but in the process I have come to see that most men are just blatantly unaware of how their words and actions are perceived so much differently in a woman’s mind, than from a male perspective. We need to learn how to communicate with the opposite sex. We need to grasp and accept that men and women are wired very differently, with skill sets that are meant to compliment each other, but we must learn to recognize the different ways in which we are programmed, in order to find healthy communication amongst ourselves. We need to recognize what we are doing to men as well as women. Feminism speaks to women being treated as equals. This is a matter of perspective. I never want to be seen as the same as my husband, but there is no question in his mind, or mine, that we are equals. We were brought together to balance one another. To use our strengths and weaknesses together to become something better, but we are far from the same. In the process of fighting for equality, it would do all of us women some good to step back and look at the way men are being shamed in this society. It’s possible that we would have healthier men if we spent less time calling them names and shaming them as the inferior gender, and more time helping them to understand why we feel vulnerable, and teaching them how we actually deserve and need to be treated for both parties to get their needs met in a healthy way. It is possible that our men would be better equipped to respect us, if we quit shaming them all day long, and started respectfully educating them.

This all started with passions. Like I said, word soup. What I have observed in myself in the recent months, is that my passions have changed slightly. I have developed this passion for food, and I have put clearer definitions around my passion to help others heal and grow into a life of gratitude and positive, love filled, thought patterns. I have become consumed with a passion for showing people that the government can’t fix this. We have to. And we have to start in our own backyards. I have developed a passion for teaching people about a peaceful spirit, a gratitude filled soul, and an ability to go with the flow of life, with arms open to opportunity and blessing.

Recently, I had a friend advise me to pray for what I wanted, and to pray specifically. While this is a common Christian thought, and I have heard it many times, I spent an incredible amount of time dwelling upon it this weekend, while I was being overwhelmed with tears of gratitude for the immense amount of blessings that I could never have imagined in my life, as little as ten years ago. I immediately told her that I disagree with her philosophy of praying specifically. After hanging up, I had to spend a good deal of time considering if that was really how I felt or a knee jerk reaction. I decided that I disagree with her. I do not necessarily think that it is in our best interest to pray for the specifics of what we want. Here’s why. I went through years begging God for a good man, convinced that I would never be anything without one. God didn’t give me that good man. I had to learn how to be happy and healthy without a man. Once I mastered stability without a man, I prayed to never have one again. I was so happy alone, why did I need a man to hold me back and cause undue burden and compromise in my life. Almost immediately upon reaching that place where I had no desire for a man to impede on my happiness, they started beating my door down, and I wanted nothing to do with any of them. But my best friend persisted. He stuck around and kept knocking when I shooed them all away. I finally submitted to dating him, after a very long discussion about whether our futures looked like they could go down the same path. I had my mission from God at this point, and no man was going to come between that mission and my future. I gave in. With much resistance, I slowly tore down that wall and let him in. So I prayed for a good marriage, one that would outlast time. What I got was a wonderful husband, one whom I just can’t even imagine life without. Through the years our connection gets stronger and stronger, and I wonder how I ever fought the notion of dating him. I have spent a lot of time this weekend considering that I asked for a good husband, eventually. I did not ask for excellent in-laws. I did not ask for aunt and uncle in laws who would think of me as they are traveling around the country in their rv. I did not ask for an extended family that would open their arms for me and accept me like they had known me all my life. God gifted me with so much more than I asked for. What if I had prayed specifically. And what if He answered those prayers? I would be missing out on so much. I would have limited the gifts that He could bless me with. I can think of a hundred times in my life when I asked God for one thing and He gave me more. I would be a fool to limit myself by praying for specificity, when He sees so much more for me than I do. I pray for my dreams, but not in a specific way. In a way that allows Him to give me so much more than I could dream of. That is how I spent my weekend. Overjoyed with tearful gratitude that I finally learned that God see’s more for me than I do, and that I need to be careful not to limit my prayers by being too specific. I stand by my original comment. I do not think that we should focus too hard on praying specifically. God knows the gist of my dreams, but I am open to whatever blessings that He see’s for me. If I am so busy watching for what I asked for specifically, I am likely to miss the real answer and gifts right under my nose. If I am filled with expectation about what that blessing should look like, I may find myself disappointed with something that I may otherwise accept with open arms and gratitude. This is why, I personally, do not feel compelled to pray with specificity, but rather to let God know the gist of my dreams,  keep my arms open to receive His gifts, and pray for His will in my life. The result is astounding. It’s not even so much that He gives me more blessings, just that my eyes are open much wider to recognize them.

This weekend, hubby and I went to a celebration of life in a town a few hours away. I went into it just completely open to adventure and blessing. It was a last minute decision, and I don’t necessarily prefer last minute overnight trips, but I was determined not to ruin opportunities for blessing with a bad attitude, so exhausted and overwhelmed, I just gave it to God. I decided to just go with the flow, let life happen, and keep my eyes open to opportunity. Oh the weekend that ensued was filled with so many blessings, I don’t even know how to begin thanking Him for it all.

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The hotels were full. We ended up in a slightly more expensive hotel than we normally might have stayed in. When I got there, you know how hotels are clumped together in certain areas. What I found was firetrucks. The hotels were full because there were firefighters from all over the country, and they gave up their livelihoods, the comfort of their beds, the warmth of their wives food, and the smiles of their children, to risk their lives for my home. They set it all aside to fight for us. I was immediately filled with overwhelming gratitude at the chance to witness that. It set the tone for my entire weekend. I spent my time dwelling on the blessing that is self-sacrifice to help us fight fire. I dwelled on this family, so much more than I ever asked for, and how they continue to surprise me with their loving support. Beyond my husband, beyond my Mother and Father in-laws, to my uncle and cousin in laws, they treat me as part of the family.  I am just overjoyed with gratitude at this point. The adventure unfolds. The celebration of life gets over fairly early and hubby and I head back to our room, where we decide that TV in a hotel room just isn’t what we are looking for. We decide an adventure is in order, and we decide to walk to the nearest grocery store for some fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Its only two miles. Nothing really. We wound through parking lots and back alleys. We hopped train tracks. While my husband has pretty much always been a country boy, I myself grew up in the city, and it was so fun to step back into it for just one night. The train yard was nostalgically comfortable for me. Walking on a bike path talking about my experiences on them as a child. It was just such a nice adventure. The next day we told our family about it, and my mother in law chimed in with the quip “adventure is what you make of it”. It is so true. We had so much fun on a simple walk to the store, dodging sprinklers and finding ways to stay off the main road. We got ourselves some healthy food for breakfast, and had a lovely walk back.

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The next morning was church. Lately, I get the same message every time I go to church, and it is something that I need to face but am intimidated by. I love this family so much that, at a busy restaurant, and through tears of intimidation and fear but recognition that ‘I got the memo, God’, I was able to tell them all about it, and they offered a solution that brought tears of relief! It felt so good to finally tell someone that I was struggling with it and confused at the same time. What a relief that they had a safe, simple answer. Another moment for tears of gratitude and acceptance. For a safe place to lay my concerns, and for a family that supports my desire to feel safe in Gods love. That has been a hard battle for me, and their support means so much more than they could possibly know.

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After Church, someone recommended a restaurant that I cannot safely eat in. No one was the least bit hurt or offended when the hubby and I both passionately declared NO! at the exact same time, they just picked something else. No biggie. Everyone was quickly on board and willing to accommodate my needs. I cried all the way there, at the family I had been gifted, and their giant, accepting hearts.  We ate a lovely meal together, I confessed my fear about the memo God has been sending too loud to ignore, we enjoyed family and fellowship, and then they invited us sapphire mining. Sapphires are my birthstone, and a rare type of Sapphire, called the yogo, is native only to Montana and very dear to me. I love this stone so much that we had diamonds replaced with yogo sapphires in my wedding ring. You can imagine my delight at this point, right? So of course we jump right on board that train. It is an hour drive, and hubby and I get some time to chat about the events of the weekend. I am a ridiculous, sobbing mess. I am so overwhelmed with love and gratitude at this point, there is just no hiding my tears. I cried most of the way there. When I got there, I wiped my sloppy face, took a deep breath, and told my in-laws that I was overwhelmed by their love and acceptance and to just ignore me, I am fine. I know that it is ridiculous, but I am so thankful for the ability to feel love and gratitude on such an enormous scale. Sapphire hunting was an absolute blast, I am pretty sure I am addicted. We had plans to drive the 72 miles south to see the eclipse on our anniversary, but we have decided we would rather spend the weekend in a mining town, digging for the little gems in life. The gems aren’t worth any money. Most are too small to bother with, but the time hovering over a table having quiet conversation with my husband, digging for shiny gems in a pile of gravel, was worth more to me than any gem I may ever find on a hunt. It summed up the entirety of the weekend for me. It extends beyond the weekend into all of life. There are a ton of gems in life, surrounded by dirt and gravel and mud. We can quietly seek the gems to be overjoyed about, or we can get distracted by the gravel and clay. We finished up our bucket of gravel as they were closing, gave our parting hugs, and went our separate ways. Hubby and I ended up making most of the trip home on dirt roads that ran alongside the freeway. A three and a half hour drive took us from 11 am till nearly 11 pm. We don’t regret one second of it. It is actually pretty normal behavior for us. We are in no hurry. Life will meet us where we are. On a past adventure of a similar caliber, we had found a gigantic nest. We had hopes of being able to find it again, and to our delight, we were not only lucky enough to find it, but to be able to spend some time watching the Golden Eagle family inhabiting it. We snacked on the food we had left in our cooler from breakfast, watched the Eagles for a bit, and then slowly meandered the rest of the way home. 20747608_10213727518244637_1199317062_o

I went to bed exhausted, emotionally spent, and so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that nothing could have brought me down. I am still looking back in awe and thinking “What if I had simply prayed to survive this weekend?” “What if I had prayed for a specific chains of events?” I believe that I would have had a very different experience. I am convinced, that we need to open our arms to Gods will for us, without putting expectation upon Him. That we need to try to focus on what He would have for us, rather than what we want. He just has so many hidden gems that we may never see if we blind ourselves with expectation and specificity. I woke up to the first of my Heirloom Blue Berry tomatoes.

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What happens when social accountability becomes personal responsibility?

 

 

Well folks, It has been quite some time since I have posted. I know, I know, I made a promise to write consistently. I have no excuse. I extend my sincerest apologies. Meanwhile, Spring has sprung, and I am one busy bee in the yard and garden. Resigning from the non profit may have been the very best choice I have made in quite some time. The burden off my shoulders is immense. I finally feel free to work on the things that I feel called to do. My intention all along was to do those things through the non profit, but somewhere along the lines, it veered off course into something other than the dream that  I so clearly envisioned. In the months that have unfolded since I left the non profit, I have really been in a quiet place of contemplation. I am out here in the country, making a conscious effort to step away from the rat race. In the process, I find myself quietly watching the world go around from such a different perspective. If you have read my blog at any time in the past, you probably know that I try to stay away from politics. However, on the other side of that coin, I have a strong drive to help people find lasting joy and contentment. My reason for procrastinating my writing is not that I have been busy, though I could easily use that one. My reason for procrastination is intimidation, confusion, and a general feeling of helplessness. I am intimidated at the task of putting a name on all of the hurt in this world. Defining it. I see so many overlapping factors, its hard to break it into pieces and cover the whole scene. I am confused because I am trying to sort out all of those overlapping features, and there is a ton of information that all leads me back to the same several questions. How did we get here? What is with all the anxiety? How do we solve this? Can we solve this? How did all this shame and trauma develop? What happened to logic and rational thinking? Why can’t people see that they are stuck in this horrible place, and that they can change it? How do I help people see that they CAN indeed change it? My helplessness comes from a feeling that people are so overwhelmed in chaos and anxiety, that my words fall on deaf ears as I am met with simple replies that indicate not a word was actually comprehended or believed.

Today, I am going to try to face this beast that has been churning in my mind for months now.

My friends, how have we come to this place? The most pressing thing on my mind is the fact that anxiety has become the norm. Anxiety is typically a feeling of loss of control. An overwhelming rush of “what if’s” that renders one paralyzed with irrational fears. How have we gotten to a place where that is the normal state of mind? I am serious. Look around you. Think about your loved ones. How many are riddled with anxiety? Mental health as a whole is on the decline at exponentially alarming rates, but lets just look at anxiety alone, because it often accompanies any other mental health issue, and because it is rampant. Nearly everyone knows this feeling and knows many people who live consumed by it, day in and day out. The key to solving a problem is to figure out what is causing it. What is causing all of this anxiety? Is it our mainstream food? Is it our pace of life and the pressure to keep up with it? It is our economy or the politics we are surrounded with every day? Is it a lack of God? Is it lack of meaningful personal relationships? Is it because our society is forming an environment that, in an attempt to not offend anyone, is offending everyone? Is it that our lack of willingness to take accountability for ourselves is causing us to place expectations on the people around us to ensure our happiness? Is it because we spend so much time looking at and for the negatives around us, that we train our brain to see them first, and eventually only them?

Its clear to every single human on this planet that we are in a state of worldwide turmoil. Fighting, hatred, and ugly are becoming the dominating forces in the world, division is rampant, both in our country, and in the world. Honestly is a lost quality and empathy is close on its heels.  We have come to believe the lie that the answer lies in government. There are about half a million people who hold elected positions in America, and roughly 325 million citizens of this great country. Why are we giving them so much of our time? That is precious time that we could be using to change the state of our nation. It is pretty much general knowledge at this point, that if you spend your time focusing on negatives, you will instinctively think the worst first, and if you focus on the positives, the bright side tends to present in our minds. What I see when I step back and just watch, is that we are all too focused on the negatives. We have let fear and anxiety overrule logical thought. When logical thought and ration go out the window, and fear and anxiety drive us, it reflects in our behavior, both towards ourselves and others. It takes away our ability to problem solve. We are smart people, folks. We do not need the government to solve this for us. We can solve this because we are the masses, and if we stop attacking each other over our disagreements about government, and start treating humans as individuals who are also just trying to survive this life, we could, and would, make progress. If we stop focusing our thoughts on hate, we can find ways to put a halt to it.  Like a child having a tantrum. When children don’t get what they want, they cry and scream and throw a fit. If we reward this behavior by giving it attention, it becomes a louder, angrier fit next time. Why are we giving the hate so much attention? And if we are going to give the hate attention, then why not in a constructive, logical, problem solving way, instead of loud, embarrassing tantrums?

But it is not just a simple as ignoring the negatives and refusing to give the hate attention. It is an overlapping mess of peoples unmet needs, and unmet needs lead to bad behavior if people do not have the skills to get those needs met one way or another. Our stagnancy is a giant part of the problem. In a world that moves faster than any other time in history, our bodies are more stagnant than ever. The amount of neglect we have shown our bodies in an attempt to keep up with the race is astounding. We are an overweight nation. I am not fat shaming here guys. We all have health issues, for some, many these days, it is weight. Being overweight has become as normal as anxiety. For many, there are medical reasons, and for many more, it is stagnancy. Our bodies aren’t meant to be stagnant  in front of a computer. We are meant to perform physical activity every day, and when we don’t, it changes the balance of hormones and metabolism in our bodies. The technology age has removed much of the previously necessary exercise from our lives, and now we have to make a conscious decision to get up and move several times a day. Our food and healthcare systems are in a state of disarray. Without diet and medical needs met, it becomes increasingly difficult to function as a productive member of society.  Our financial system is broken, our economy is a mess. Leaving people without their needs met once again, and once again, making it very difficult to be a functional member of society. We need to look within folks. We cannot rely on government to fix this for us. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to take action, not scream at elected officials to fix it. We need to reach out to our neighbors. There are so many people, as diverse as our fingerprints, in this world. All with different passions and drives. If we all put just a little bit of effort into those things that pull our heartstrings, everyone’s needs could get met. But as we drift further and further into a chaotic place, we feel we have less and less control, and more and more that we need to scream louder to the government, about the injustices of the world and that it is their job to fix it all. They are the minority folks, and we the people are the majority. We need to come together and behave in rational ways, and we can fix this. The more we put on the government to fix, the less control we have, and the more chaotic it will get. It is on US. How can you reach out today and attempt to be part of a logical, rational, proactive change? I am not talking about protesting and marching in the streets. They are ways of screaming at the government that we expect change. That we expect someone other than ourselves to fix this. We could be spending that time, energy, and resources on being the someone who fixes it. Now, I am a writer. Don’t for one minute think that I am saying that we need to stop doing those things. Freedom of speech and expression is a right that everyone deserves. I am merely suggesting that while those things say what we feel, they don’t actually change our situation. If we put that energy to a more positive, constructive use, we could be the ones to solve the problem.

We are the consumers. We tolerate toxic food by purchasing it. We tolerate this ridiculous healthcare law, by purchasing exorbitantly high health insurance premiums. We rant and rave about fake news channels, as we watch them. Now Obviously, we can’t just quit buying food, or following laws, or even making an attempt to get some valid news. But, we can come together and brainstorm ways to address these issues within our communities. We can find outside the box solutions to most of what we face as evils today. And, as the consumer, we can be the most profound effect that the world has seen. We can be the change that we wish to see.

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I don’t have all the answers to solving these problems, but I do know for sure that if we slow down, resist the pressure of the race, and make more personal connections, that we can be the change that everyone is screaming for. I know that a group of people can get together at a local community center and decide to work together to create a new model to live by. I know that solutions can be found if we put our brains together instead of fighting each other. I know that this is going to continue to get exponentially worse until we are forced to do just that. Can we barter with our neighbors to meet our food needs and resist the toxic system that is currently in place? I grow produce, Joe here has chickens and goats, and Dave down the road has a large herd of cattle (this is an example, not real people). How can we come together to trade so that everyone has their fair share of healthy food, while everyone works to contribute? Its not a matter of one supporting the other. I am not suggesting a socialist setup. I am suggesting bartering. Resisting the green wherever we can. I would happily give up some of my fancy blueberry tomatoes in exchange for a dozen eggs or trade jerky for compost, with the horse rancher down the road. Everyone gets “paid” except for corrupt big business. Our local businesses are supported and our community begins to thrive, as we get to know each other over an egg and tomato trade. When we know each other, we are more forgiving of each other. We see each other as individuals and empathy comes back in the door. If you live in the city, you may be thinking that this wouldn’t work for you. I beg to differ. It is a different set of solutions, but food is not our only need. It is a matter of coming together with our communities, figuring out the needs, how we as individuals are equipped to meet them, and how we can be the ones to solve this within our communities, rather than expecting the government to do it for us. Maybe you don’t garden, or raise meat animals, but you have skills. Maybe you sew. We need clothes and blankets. Maybe you have a trade. Things need to be fixed and replaced. You do have value, and I suspect that not realizing this simple fact is causing much of the burden. What is your value, how can you use it to resist the mainstream systems that are keeping us focused on hate? Maybe you can get your healthy, non mainstream food, by digging a trench or painting a house or sewing a blanket. Save the greens for the things that are not yet available through barter. Maybe for a healthcare solution, we get a group of medical professionals in the community together who work for trade, outside of their practices. I don’t really know all the laws on that, and I am sure there are many details that would need ironing out, but that is what the brainstorming group is for. I am not suggesting that these scenarios are the answer to all of our problems, I am suggesting that if we as individuals, set aside the hate and division that is being caused by unmet needs and shame, we can get together and brainstorm ways that we as communities can be accountable for getting those needs met. It may not solve political problems at first, but ultimately, politics is about consumerism, and we are the consumers. If we refuse to consume what they are selling, they will be forced to change products or go out of business. It seems so simple, but we constantly find excuses why it wont work. Lets stop saying “But, can’t wont” and start finding the “I can and I will” that is so necessary if we really want to be the change we wish to see.

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Regrouping

img_1263-e1493141438594.jpgOh my friends, it has been some time, hasn’t it? I apologize for my absence. The last two weeks have been all about regrouping and redefining. I followed through with that big decision I was in the process of, and now that it has me on a new path, or possibly, back on my original path, I have had to step back and reevaluate my situation.

Overall, I am incredibly thrilled with the situation. I still needed to process and reevaluate. I have renewed excitement. I had most definitely strayed off course. Suddenly, my passions are back in the picture. What happened? Well, that non profit I started was due to a vision I received when I was saved. I was given a clear set of pictures of what it was supposed to look like. Founding a non profit is not what you would expect if you have not been through the process. One thing you may not realize, is that even though I founded it, did all the work, and raised all of the money, it does not belong to me. Once it becomes a non profit, it belongs to the state, and the board has all control. I am just the instrument for getting it done. Unfortunately, my board had a different vision of this foundation than I did, and I was becoming miserably burdened, chasing all those dead end roads, and getting no where. It was becoming something that I was once passionate about, but recently found myself waking up resenting. It was costing me a ton of money, It was playing on the co-dependency issues that I had learned how to resolve years ago. It was causing me a great deal more stress than I was willing to give to it. It was affecting my entire family negatively. And then one day my husband asked me what was up? Why was I avoiding this situation so much? What had changed that my passion had fizzled away. I gave him a lame but valid excuse, and then spent several days weighing this question in my mind. What I came to see was that God had given me a vision of a mission. In an attempt to follow through, I built this non profit. In the process of having a board that did not have the same vision and agenda as me, it became warped into something very different from what I had been shown. And I resented it. Deeply. I resented the way the board treated me. I resented the way that half of them snickered when I spoke of God giving me this mission, or the way they snottily told me that I should be asking my church for money because “thats what they do, isn’t it?”. I resented what they had turned it into, and I resented how they talked to me. It most certainly had become something very different than the mission I had been shown, and I needed out like my ability to breathe depended on it.

I asked them to dissolve it, they said no and called me at the last minute to tell me that I was not welcome at the meeting that would determine the fate of my “baby”. In somewhat of a “thanks for doing all the hard work, have a nice life”, goodbye, they just dismissed me from the foundation I had built. I felt betrayed. One of the people I trusted most in this world hurt me deeply. It took me a few days to process that betrayal, but ultimately I got through it. I asked them to at least change the name and let me keep the name and logo for my own mission as it had been presented to me, and they agreed. So in the end, I am not really out anything. I set up a non profit, and essentially had it stolen from me, but maybe it was what was meant to be. I have my doubts about their ability to maintain it, but I am content that I am no longer committed to it and that I am in a position to rebuild it, privately this time. I have to wait three months to reclaim use of the name, and maybe longer while they submit a name change to the government, but ultimately, I got to keep what was mine.

This whole process unlocked some doors I was feeling trapped behind, and ultimately renewed my passion for the original vision. That moment of betrayal had a hidden blessing in it, as they always do, and once again, my burdens have a way of teaching me who I am meant to be and why I am living the life that I am. I have been in an introspective space for months now, and I am becoming blatantly aware of things I feel helpless to explain to people. As I watch from my quiet little existence on the edge of society, the level of mental unhealth terrifies me. The pace of life at which people live astounds me, the toxicity of our society horrifies me, and I feel helpless. The problems are so intertwined, I do not know how you go about starting the process of fixing it. Shame. Lack of love. Poor mental health. All leading to a society that is lost and confused. A society that is hurting. What causes all this shame and lack of mental health. Oh good grief, where would we begin? Food, environmental toxins, poor parenting habits, the rat race, loss of community over a perceived need to do more, have more, and be more.

At what point does one step back and say “How do I fix this”? Where is that line that we cross in order to take control of our lives? How do we teach the inhabitants of this Earth about love, simplicity, gratitude, and lifting each other up? How do we reach the masses and teach them how to clean the toxicity from their lives. How do we get healthy skills taught to so many lost souls who just never had a chance to learn that life can be different. We can’t expect people to use skills they were never taught, so how do we most effectively get the information about healthy skills, to the masses? How many times have I tried to show people how to make these changes and choose healthy skills, only to hear “but, can’t, won’t”? How do we get people to see that it does not have to be the miserable existence that they believe they are doomed to? How do we get them to see that they are able to change things if they are able to listen openly and change their thought processes and behaviors? I am aching to see the state of societies mental health heal, and I do not know how to make the biggest impact that I can to affect the most people.

The answer always comes back to love. We must teach each other how to love in a healthy way. We need to create more love and teach others how to project it in everything they do. If we are creating anything other than love, we are not perpetuating mental health in the world. Shame, addiction, anxiety, and depression are rampant in this world. Disease is eating us alive. There is an epidemic happening, and there is a shortage of compassionate, empathetic, love inoculations. We desperately need to consciously decide how we will show someone love today. Genuine love. Not the image of love, but genuine, honest, sincere love. What skills can we gently teach people so that they too are able to create more love? I ache for the children who are growing up in this unhealthy society. I ache for the young adults who think that is normal. I ache for the old men and women who look around at this society and hang their heads in shame, and I ache for those of us in the middle somewhere, looking around wondering what in the hell happened to the world, and hearing a hundred answers come pouring in all at once, so deeply intertwined with each other that it is like untangling all of the chains in an old necklace drawer. Where does one even begin?

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Sometimes that tangle of chains seems impossible. We have to step away and look in at it later when our brain is calmer. Sometimes we break a chain or two in our impatience, but eventually we can usually untangle the mess. Today, I am looking at the tangle of chains that bind this society, and I am desperately seeking one loose chain to start unraveling. I am desperately seeking the answers to where I fit in most effectively for the purpose of untangling the chains that our society bares, like the weight of the world tying them down and keeping them prisoner in this crazy world we live in.

Where is the bolt cutter in my toolshed? Is it sharp enough for these chains? Is it ready to take on a task of epic proportions? As I toil away at my peaceful little existence, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and caring for my family, I am grateful for the blessings in abundance. As I dream of how I will grow this existence for us, I forget sometimes, how removed from typical society I am. I forget that this is an atypical existence that we have built. Until I try to talk to people about what it feels like to live with peace. Then I become blatantly aware of how atypical our existence is, and I feel desperate to help others understand that they too, can build there own personal atypical existence. One that honors them and who they were meant to be. That traditional social standards may at first make it look impossible, but that is an illusion. A consequence of being trained to think inside of a social parameter. Remember my old cars post a few weeks back? Its all about choosing to be genuine to ourselves despite societies perspective on the matter. Are you struggling with desperately wanting something that you “can’t” have? Are you wondering how to find your purpose? Are you unsure what to do next? Are you just unhappy and don’t know why? Where are you in identifying the things holding you back?

A technique that works well with cutting through this stigma of being trapped in our miserable situation is to list it. Start by stating your goal. What is it that you want? Write it down. Now in two columns, make lists. On one side, the issues holding you back. What is stopping you from having what you want? What roadblock is stopping you from taking that path. What chains are tying you down? In the second column, what are some solutions to each individual issue. Prioritize them. Decide which order they need to be addressed, and start seeking outside the box solutions. One at a time, check them off as you find solutions, and before you know it, you will find yourself in that place that you thought was impossible to get to.

What if you don’t even know what you want. There have been a few times in my work, that the person I am working with does not even know what they want, what they are passionate about. They just don’t want to be miserable any more but isn’t life just get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and do it again? What do you mean “passions”?

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How do you find your passions? If you don’t even know what you want, how on Earth do you go about creating it? Well, ask yourself this question. “What makes my heart beat fast?” What is it that shaped you? What affects you? When you scroll through facebook, or the news, what is it that catches your attention? There is a very good chance that those are your passions, and if you follow your passions, you will eventually be successful. I honestly had no idea that when I finally discovered my passions, they would be so much different than what I thought my childhood dreams were, and yet in many ways, my childhood dreams hinted at pieces of those passions. A great example is that I always knew that I loved writing, but I never could have predicted that it would be a vessel for helping people to heal. I grew up in a city and had no idea that I would base my entire adult life around creating a self sustainable homestead. I had no idea how much I love taking pictures, despite the many photography classes that I took and that I was a photographer for the high school yearbook. But, when I sit down and make a list of things I desperately want to achieve, I find that many of my passions have always been deeply ingrained in me, I just didn’t put together the pieces until I had hindsight for perspective. I had a special needs child, and helping kids grew in me. I was a single mom, and helping single parents became a seed in my garden of purpose. I worked in an animal shelter, and learned that I am passionate about humanitarian work. I got sick, and food became one of my passions. These became a driving forces, and somehow, it all fits perfectly into that long term goal. When I step back and look at the whole situation, using my hindsight, I see that life has always been setting me up to pursue my passions, and tie them all together in one big bow of service to community that leaves me feeling content and full of peace. Its a quiet life. An existence I could never have imagined as a child. I never foresaw myself pursuing a life of service to others. Until I was in it, and then I realized it is always what I wanted. To make the world a better place. In my own quiet little way, I am doing exactly that, and I am doing it with the tools that I was granted through passion. Passions I have always had, and passions that grew as a result of life and trying to “get there”. Chase the things that make your heart beat fast. Those are the areas of life we are called to. At some point they all tie together and become purpose.

What is your purpose, and what is holding you back? If you identify those things, you can identify a way to achieve the unachievable, and you can overcome the misery and pave a new path. Having a passionate dream to pursue renews hope, and renewed hope is, as far as I can tell, the only loose chain available in this tangle of chains that holds us back. As you unravel the passions, and renew the hope, the other chains will start to come loose and soon you will have unraveled all the chains and be able to see clearly how to move past the “can’t, but, won’t” of your passions and on to the changing of the world part.

If I can help you. If you have questions. If I can clarify anything further. Please let me know. The world needs more peace, love and healing, Those of us who know how to achieve it are responsible for teaching others how to have it as well. I know today’s post is less uplifting than typical of me, but if I can help one person to see that they can change their miserable situation, then it has been worth it.

The air is heavy with Spring rain. The fire crackles in the fireplace, and my babies are germinating like crazy. The homestead beckons. I love you all! Until next time…God bless.

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Finding Hope

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Anyone who has read this blog even one time knows that I try very hard to keep it positive. I make a conscious effort to find the bright side of even the worst situations, because I know that our trials are blessings in disguise, if we are willing to grow from them. This week has been an exceptionally trying for me, and I have had no energy to fight for joy. I spent the last two days keeping to myself instead of fighting the blahs. I spent a great deal of time thinking to myself “How can I write something positive while I sit in this dreary mood?”

Some days it is much harder to find hope and positivity than others. For some reason this week is proving exceptionally trying, for no good reason at all. The little things that I normally take with a grain of salt are really weighing on me and I am struggling to shake them off. I look around at my life, and it is no better or worse than it was a week ago, but boy am I tired of gray skies and chilly weather. Starting to feel like a caged animal and I suspect that is contributing to my lack of positivity and joyful abundance. The weather says sun, but day after day, I wake up to chilly weather and gray skies. Expectation causes disappointment, and maybe the answer is to stop hoping the weather forecast will be right about sun one of these days.

Meanwhile, I need a way to get out of this funk, and maybe I am not alone. It occurs to me that maybe it would  be a good idea to highlight some ways that we can rise above the dreary blahs and create some joy and hope of our own. How do you go about making a difference in the world? Living in the country, and making it my business to avoid going to town as much as possible, makes it challenging at times, to find ways to spread joy to others. I often hear people express that they don’t have money to give to strangers when challenged to make a difference for someone. Today I want to challenge you to find a way that doesn’t involve monetary donations, to brighten someones day. It doesn’t have to be a stranger. People we know need their days brightened too. How can we be more present to hearing others needs, and taking a moment to try to perpetuate their needs being met, or even just give them a spark of hope in humankind to get them through the day?

Even perpetually positive people need a pick me up sometimes. They are not that way because they have no challenges. More often than not, they have learned how to rise above challenges, and find the bright side of their situation. I have found that my “inspirational people” posts have made a profound impact on the people I have chosen to highlight. People who are overcoming challenges, finding the bright side, and consciously trying to reside in a place of positivity. They need to hear that they are doing good too. Staying hopeful and positive can be real work at times. It doesn’t just come naturally. Even the most bright, cheerful, positive, and hopeful of us have to work at times, to hold on to that joy. To not be defeated by the harder parts of life that would hold us back if we weren’t fighting for the light is challenging at times. There are definitely days that it would be much easier to give in to the crappy attitude and overall blahs. Maybe you know a perpetually positive person who could use some kind words about how their attitude inspires you? A simple way to create more joy, and to help the joy creators to stay on task. There are days when it feels like people take joy for granted and assume that because we try to keep a smile on our faces, that we have no stressors or doubts. It always helps to hear a little validation that our joy makes a difference. A simple challenge. Find someone who inspires you and tell them that they make a difference in your life.

There are many little ways you can make a difference that have nothing at all to do with monetary donations. What about stopping to let someone in front of you? Be it a line at the post office or grocery store, or in the midst of heavy traffic? You might make someone mad. Someone who hasn’t seen the example of slowing down and making room for others. It is always a possibility. You have a choice to care about that or not. You get to choose if making a difference outweighs what others may think. A while back, I was at the post office in town. I rarely use the post offices in town because they are chaos. Madhouses with lines that don’t stop. Using a post office in town means allowing at least an extra half hour for errands, vs using the local office, which takes no more than five minutes, ever. However, occasionally I find myself needing to use one of the town post offices, and I always make sure to prep my brain for patience when I do. When I do have to go to town, I try to remember to pray for an opportunity to make a difference for someone while I am there. On this particular day, I had a long list of errands, and I was certain there would be a way for me to spread some joy. I went through my list, one item at a time, and as I stood for what felt like forever, in that post office line, I was pondering that I hadn’t yet received an opportunity to bless someone random. This was a long line. I think the entire wait was nearly an hour. Every employee was busy and it didn’t appear that things were going to pick up any time soon. This is also the office that deals in passports, so it has more traffic than the other branches do. After about half hour in the line, I was starting to get close enough to the counter that I could see what was happening at the counters. The line behind me had grown and was nearly out the door. I noticed a middle aged woman wandering around looking so lost and confused. I watched her for about five minutes, getting nowhere. She had no idea where she needed to be, and it seemed apparent that she did not want to get in that long line to wait to be told she belonged elsewhere. Without thinking twice about the people in line behind me, I invited her to stand in line in front of me. She looked taken aback and started to protest. I assured her that it was absolutely ok, that she looked confused, and that I was sure the people at the counter could quickly tell her where she needed to be. We talked for a few minutes. She accepted my offer and graciously stood in front of me in line. She thanked me three times before that line behind me occurred to me again. At some point I turned around to apologize if I had caused any inconvenience to those immediately behind me, and what I saw when I turned around was astounding. I saw warm smiles. Nods of approval. I got a whole lot of affirmation from all of those people who had been impatiently waiting in line. They were smiling?? talking to each other. The entire line had been impacted by this moment, and not in a negative way of having to wait an extra three minutes. A couple people smiled, nodded, assured me that it was just fine. I really started out just trying to make a difference for one person. And a profound difference I had made, just being friendly and kind to a stranger, but that energy overflowed to the people behind me. The air of impatience in the room had dissolved and people were talking to each other! I got approving smiles and nods. People were happy to see this good thing happening. They supported it, and the positivity spilled over and affected everyone in the room. If anyone was upset by my actions, I was none the wiser. I left that post office surprised at the immediate effect that one random act of kindness, on a single stranger, had on an entire room full of strangers. I have to hope that at least one of them was inspired to go do something nice for another stranger, somewhere else in their day,

The ways you can help change the world are numerous. They range in size from a tiny gesture, such as letting a little ole lady in line in front of you, to a huge act of sacrifice, like organizing a rummage sale and donating the proceeds to someone in need.

Maybe you see a mom with her arms full. Do you have a minute to help her to her car? Maybe you see a child acting out in the grocery store? Do you think “if that were my child…” or do you remember the days when your child was actually having that tantrum once upon a time? I have found that simply engaging the child can change the whole scene for that exacerbated mother who just wants to get through the grocery store and get out of there with her overtired child. I have yet to meet a parent who does not seem truly grateful when I distract their child from their tantrum. We don’t always have the choice to leave our children with someone else while we get the necessities for dinner. Empathy goes a whole lot further than judgement. Do you see someone in a wheelchair? Maybe you could offer to reach something on a high shelf for them?

Pick some wildflowers for a neighbor. Make an extra big batch of soup and share with someone, Hold a door or carry a bag. Simply smile and make eye contact. Plant some extra garden seeds to share with a neighbor, or bake some cookies to share with a stranger. There are unlimited ways to make a difference in this world. Share your extra eggs or veggie bounty. Tell someone something you find beautiful about them. Do you have extra jerky or meat from this years hunt? There is always someone hungry, or simply someone who is not blessed with the opportunity to have real, fresh food. You have any idea how tiresome it must be to eat McDonalds day in and day out, because you are homeless and that is what kind hearted people do, buy you some fast food. Certainly, any food is a blessing, and I have even recomended that people buy a book or two of gift certificates from the fast food places, to keep in their glove box and pass out to homeless people, and of course, we all know beggars cant be choosers, but I had an experience with a homeless man one time that shined a light on this for me. We had just bought groceries, and were headed through a drive through to get one of those all too sugary frozen coffee drinks that are a rare treat for us. I saw a man in the parking lot, and I almost ordered him food. Then it occurred to me. “I bet he gets sick of McDonalds”. My son agreed, and we quickly did a mental inventory of our groceries. I ordered him a spoon on my way through the drive though. We cruised over to him, and I told him that I would buy him McDonalds if he wanted, but that I had the thought he must get sick of it. He nodded so enthusiastically and quickly confirmed that he gets way too much of that nutrient devoid “food”. We dig through our bags. I gave him a yogurt and the spoon I had grabbed while getting our icy drinks. My son held open the donut box and let him choose his pick of the mixed dozen we had purchased. We gave him a few real food items. Cheese and some yogurt, a donut filled with jelly. We offered jerky but he didn’t really have any teeth and declined. We chatted with him for five minutes or so, wished him blessings, and headed on our way. It was evident that he was thrilled that someone considered maybe he had had his fill of cheap cheeseburgers and fries for the week, possibly for a lifetime. He also really seemed to appreciate that we took time just to talk to him, instead of just tossing a bag of food or a couple bucks his way.

I recently won a hundred dollar gift certificate to a higher priced local establishment. With my celiac, I can’t eat there. I carried that gift certificate around in my wallet for months, wondering what I would do with it. A couple weeks ago,  I was in the gas station, when I ran into a local business owner, working behind the counter. Now why would she need a second job, unless life was handing her lemons, despite her positive outlook, and it occurred to me to gift that restaurant meal to her. I had no expectations. I just wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate it, but a week later, when I was feeling some stress about a detail of our life, she showed up with an answer to that stress, completely unexpected, and changed the whole course of a week for me. Because when you spread joy, it comes back to you in unexpected ways.

We all have some hotel sample products around, don’t we? One really creative idea that I just love is to take old purses or cosmetics bags that you are done with, and fill them up with some of those hotel samples of soap and shampoo you have taking up space in a cabinet, and keep them in your car for when you see a homeless person. They need soap and toothpaste too. Or, if you are able to spend money to help, you could toss a granola bar, pouch of jerky, dried fruit, and a water bottle in there too.

There are countless ways to make a difference in peoples lives. Most of them require very little effort on our part for the amount of difference they make to another. It is true, smile at a stranger and they will be more inclined to smile at the next guy. Five minutes out of your day to impact a stranger can have so much more impact on the world than you may think, as they go on to share their joy in a contagious outbreak of loving words and gestures. Joy spreads rapidly if we take a moment to distribute it. All we have to do is plant a mustard seed of joy in the world, and it will grow into a great tree of loving actions and words beyond the scope of your site. You may never see the true reach of your loving actions, but I promise you that they will grow roots and branches that are abundant with fruits of spirit.

How can you spread some love and joy today? What seeds can you plant to nourish the world? There are many places to get ideas. A quick google search will bring up a plethora of websites completely dedicated to spreading kindness. I found a couple for you to start with. Being kind is not synonymous with spending money. There are more ways to be kind without money than most realize. Here are a few places to start. I would love to hear how you randomly spread kindness. I would love to hear your ideas for ways to change the world. I want to know how you nourish the spirit of others. Do you wander through life in a daze, just trying to get through the race today? Or are your eyes and ears alert, seeking ways to create some love and spread some joy?

If you are looking for more ways to spread some loving kindness, here are a few websites that might give you some creative ideas. Tell me what you come up with. Lets keep each other accountable for creating loving light.

http://www.spreadkindness.org/kindness-ideas

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

103 Random Acts of Kindness – Ideas to Inspire Kindness

134 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness

http://www.kindspring.org/ideas/

That should give you a good start at finding at least one way that you can make a difference today. I would love to hear how you plan to make a difference this week. God bless Ya’all. have a great day!

 

 

 

 

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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.

Posted on

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!