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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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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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Be still my beating heart

I finally felt good enough to bundle up and go for a walk about in the garden yesterday. It has been a few days and there were no signs of life last time I checked, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across these big, beautiful chives having popped up while I was flu ridden. I was so thrilled, I immediately ran back in the house for the camera and my galoshers. Upon further exploration, it was confirmed. Spring has officially sprung. What a lovely treat on the first day of the new season.

My health is finally improving, the weather is warming up. Life is showing signs of renewal. What a glorious day! Spring in the Rockies can be so hard sometimes. One day its sixty degrees, the next it is spitting snow at us. Today is a spitting snow kinda day, but it can’t steal my joy. I am so thrilled to see these babies popping up everywhere!

Hubby built me a huge raised perennial bed last fall and I cannot wait to get it planted! Its going to be so gorgeous!

I am struggling with a life changing decision this week. With letting one of my passions go, and what that looks like for me in terms of failure or success. What does God want me to do? What is the right path? I listen intently for any sign of what I should do, but this one is weighing heavy on me, and I don’t want to make any rash decisions while I am feeling so under the weather. Being ill for so long has a way of clouding ones judgement, and as I finally start to feel better I find myself looking at the issue again.

The one thing that I am certain of, is that I am seeking a smaller, simpler existence. At one time this passion fit perfectly into that goal, but it has been warped and changed to a degree that it no longer fits, it is affecting a relationship that I once valued immensely, and just generally causing wear and tear on my spirit. At what point do we decide to let go of a passion that we have worked so hard for, in order to keep the rest of our passions ablaze? For me, it has to be when said issue is affecting my ability to achieve the rest of my goals, and I fear I have reached that point. I pray that I find a way to resolve this issue, without leaving a piece of my heart behind with it. Meanwhile, as the clouds fade and the sun peeks through, it is far to glorious out today to sit in here stewing on it, so off to the garden I go. Until we meet again, have a glorious day, my friends!

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Not the rain

248548_1025585354150995_3181269488808223055_nA few days ago, I posted about the rain. How I woke up sore and achy and then realized that is was glorious rain causing my aches. Oh how mistaken I was! As the day progressed, it did not take long to figure out that there was no way the rain was causing this pain to keep getting worse and worse. When the chills hit I realized I needed to take my temperature. I was so wrong about the rain. Turns out flu was causing my pain. Boy, I just cannot get a break. So, I spent the last several days in a blanket on my couch trying to recover from this latest germ warfare on my body, and finally, last night, I ate. I slept more than two hours consecutively, and I feel like healing is in my cards for today. Far from 100%, but able to function, and thankful for that.

While I was laying around feeling like death might be creeping into my bones, my little seedlings had a chance to germinate and I am so incredibly excited to see my babies starting to come up. First day of Spring seems like a great day to get a few more seeds in some dirt and I am really quite thrilled about this. Hoping and praying I can summon the energy. I am loving the Spring rain, despite my longing for sun. The sun just makes me feel guilty right now because I am too ill to go outside and take advantage of it. I am ready though, to get a little exercise in. This morning, an old dog wandered through, and then decided to hang out. Friendly at least, I got his info and called his people. Both at work in town, I hiked the half mile to their house, and locked both of their dogs back up behind two gates. Now mind you, I was in slippers, and it is muddy out. What a sight I must be to passers by. Before I even made it back up my driveway this dog is bounding up behind me again. Took him back home and locked him in the house. The walk was exhausting but boy did it get some congestion moving.

It also left me quite introspective. How blessed am I to live in a place where you can still leave your door unlocked? Our home is the first thing you see when you come down this little country road. Its not discreet or set back or private in the least. We live next to a river and the traffic at the fishing access is busy, especially as Spring arrives and people are looking to get out of the house. We lock our doors when we are not home. And we are armed when we get up to check bumps in the night. That is just how it is out here. You may be able to enter the house, but its unlikely that you will leave the same way you got in. Life is different in the mountains. We gotta take care of each other. We still rely on community. There is no room to be completely independent from your community out here. Our neighbors are our allies, because they have to be. We watch. We quickly notice when things are out of sorts or when someone doesn’t seem like they belong, and there is no hesitation to confront that out of sorts person on the neighbors land.

After a few days of laying around, not being able to do much but watch tv and peruse social media, this strikes me as a particularly blessed place to be right now. I try so hard not to write about politics, but don’t let that fool you, I have plenty of thoughts on them. We are living in a time when neighbors are being very un-neighborly. I have never seen this country so divided. It brings up so many thoughts in me. I don’t even know where to begin. It is frustrating to feel like there is not one singe dependable news source out there. Everything is biased one way or another, and people want to believe that their side is right and the other side is a bunch of ignoramus sheeple.

Life is not black and white. It is gray, with a lot of color mixed in. It is not right or left. It is not Democratic or Republican. It is some fine balance in the middle, and it is blowing my mind how few people seem to be willing to use their rational brain and see that. People I once admired, looked up to, thought of as intelligent, have lost all of my respect for their emotionally driven rants. People are letting politics consume them like a cancer. People I once saw as rational are now spending every waking moment on Facebook, feeding into the political frenzy. Calling each other names and devoting their lives to spewing ugly facts about the opposition. People are living in a state of hate and dwelling in a state of ugly. People have become consumed with negativity. It is heartbreaking. It is lonely. It is disgusting. At times it is laughable. It shows a grand lack of self satisfaction, and it shows a huge lack of accountability in people. The two go hand in hand.

I consistently talk about being the change you wish to see in your life. Well, this goes for the world too. There is no question my stance on this. We need to be accountable for fixing what is wrong with our lives, and no one will do it for us. This holds true with government as well. They are not responsible for fixing our lives. To all the people in an uproar about government funding, I would ask, why not put all those resources and energy to work building a non profit to make up the gap? Why not grow an extra plot of garden to donate to a local food program? Why not get a group of like minded folks together and start a program to compensate for the things you feel that the govt should be giving us? They have to take our hard earned wages to give us those things, and have you looked at your taxes lately? They are taking a lot!

I have lived on welfare. I know what socialism looks like, and I will be the first to tell you it is a miserable existence. I do not understand how anyone who can read even one article about socialism could support it. In a socialist society, you don’t get to succeed. You don’t get to get ahead. You get the bare minimum. For perspective, the TANF program (temporary assistance to needy families), provides a family of two with an income of $317.00 per month, and in order to qualify for that check, you are required to put in 35 verifiable hours a week, of either community service, job searching, or work. If you are working, the wage you receive goes against the TANF payment and it is reduced until you no longer qualify. Let me repeat that. 35 hours a week, for $317.00 a month. That is what socialism looks like. There is no opportunity to get ahead. Save for a vacation. Buy a home. Upgrade your car. Medicaid is a joke. It covers basic medical care, but unless your under 18, you will not get glasses or dental work done. Even if you are approved for those things by medicaid, they pay so awful that no Drs of those trades will accept it for adults. Socialism guarantees equality. We will be equally impoverished, no matter how hard we work or don’t.

People who are satisfied with their lives do not expect others to take care of them, and when I see people ranting about how the government should be taking care of them, all I hear is “my life is miserable and I want someone else to fix it for me”. When did we become such an entitled society? It makes me so sad to see people fighting over the petty things that they are, rather than brainstorming solutions that don’t require government intervention. It makes me sad to see people becoming consumed with finding more negative things to say about each other, spending their hours looking for ways to prove each others facts to be false. It has got to be a dark, miserable, existence, to spend your days desperately seeking one more negative about the president, or his cabinet, or his opposition. This is far from one sided. We are becoming consumed with darkness as an entire society. We are being driven by unhealthy, unstable, negative emotion, rather than logic and common sense. We are pointing fingers rather than scratching our heads together. For Pete’s sake we are turning our back on our own families, friends, and neighbors, to fight for half truths that have no direct bearing on our personal lives.

I am not a cold, heartless, bitch, I am a humanitarian by nature, and that is exactly why I know that we do not need the government to take care of us. I have done so many humanitarian jobs, in so many different fields, that I am absolutely positive that it is possible for us to take care of the sick, the needy, and the down and out, without the governments help at all. We need to be accountable to ourselves if we care to make a difference in this world. We need to be accountable to our own lives, and our own happiness, if we are going to be successful in taking care of our broken and destitute. If we learned to take some of the negative energy we are wasting on blaming the government, and the people who do not hold the same beliefs as we do, and turn it into productive ideas on how to solve some of those problems on a local level, we can be the change we are screaming for. But screaming for it won’t get it done. It won’t change anything. We have to take action. We have to brainstorm solutions. Put all that negative energy into a positive action. Grow some extra garden, clean out your closet and donate some clothes you no longer care for, to a homeless shelter. Volunteer at a food bank or community kitchen. Hold a community rummage sale and donate the funds where you see fit. Whatever your passion is. Whatever you are screaming and complaining about. Find a way to get your foot in that door and start doing something about it on a community level. It will be so much more productive than bickering all day and focusing on finding negatives to back your hate. And just think, for every new non profit that someone starts, to overcome some problem, dozens more opportunities to donate your time and money and energy to making a change open up. Maybe if the government cuts some funding, we can keep some of those hard earned wages, and decide which cause we want it to go to. Do you really want the government to decide which programs your money goes to? Wouldn’t it be better in your hands? With you deciding which cause should get your hard earned money?  Do you really want to trust that they are doing what they say they will with your money? Do you really think that they are doing a good job allocating it? Wouldn’t you be better prepared to allocate that fundage if you could do a little research and decide the best place to make a difference? It is just my opinion, but I think we could do way more good with less government funding, and more personal control of how we advocate our resources.

I don’t want to talk about specific issues, I am intentionally avoiding them, but consider any one of the political issues that we face today regarding government spending, and I bet if you spent just a few minutes thinking about it, you could think of a way to support said cause without requiring the government to micromanage it for you. Take some accountability for the changes you want to see, instead of screaming at the government to be accountable for it, and I guarantee that you will see a great deal more joy and satisfaction in your life. You will sleep better at night, and you will have made a difference in the world, instead of just propagating hate and wasting your days and hours dwelling on someone else fixing all that is wrong and injust in the world. Stepping down off my soapbox now. I hope today finds you well, and that you are able to find a way to make a difference today. I hope that you, my dear reader, are not one who is focused on the negative, but if you are, I pray that you are able to see this and find a way to turn that hate into something that results in something great. No one is gonna fix this for us, folks. We must be the change we wish to see. We need less blame and hate, and more love and problem solving. More government is not the answer. More personal accountability is what will make us a great society. How can you spend five minutes making the world a better place today?

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The vision

IMG_1088Good Morning my friends! Today I wanna talk about my “vision board”. I put it in quotes because for some reason that I haven’t quite identified yet, the term “vision board” is not quite comfortable for me, but I have not found the word that is, nor the reason for my discomfort with the prior. Whatever the case, it has made a profound impact on my daily approach and I want to share that with you.

I have this giant list of passions. I feel that life is too short to possibly fit all the things I want to experience in, and I have much to accomplish in this lifetime. Some of those things are optional, if I get to them, but most feel critical, before I die I must achieve as many as possible. I find that I have so many passions, that I often get caught up in one and neglect the rest, or I lose myself in daydreams about what the future will look like once I accomplish them. Its self defeating and I had to find a way to overcome it. I have been struggling with balancing my time as I work from home, try to manage the home, and start a non profit. I have Bible studies to do and beads to string and quilts to sew. I have a garden to plant and a home to maintain. I have a homestead to work on, and a start up non profit that serves several niches of people and animals that have slipped through the cracks. I have a book to write about healing and joy. I have a family and lovely handful of pets to remember not to neglect while I chase my dreams. There is no shortage of passion in my life.

The problem of having the dreams and goals of ten people, is that it can become quite difficult to prioritize, balance, and stay on track to accomplishing them all. For some time, I made giant lists. Every night. Hundreds of to-do’s. My goal was never to cross them all off in one day. I would do what I could, then redo the list each night before bed and start again the following day. The problem was that this list was never done. Ever. There was a grand lack of satisfaction with this list. Being ill for a few months has made it nearly impossible to imagine tackling a list that size, and I just ran out of will power for these lists. So, I started a new kind of list. Instead of writing what I wanted to get done, I started keeping a list of things I had achieved that day. This was brilliant. My family gets my evenings. All of them. I put away the computer, make dinner, forego any unresolved chores for the day, and just spend a few hours with them. It is a priority that fell naturally into place and when hubby sits down after work and says “how was your day?” I have a direct answer for him. I don’t forget to tell him things that I wanted to share, my list makes this time of evening so much more satisfying and pleasant. It gives me freedom to see all I have done this day and to set aside anxieties about productivity and just enjoy my family.

Still, I struggled with staying on task. I found myself looking for a quick fix,  feeling impatient about the longings of my life, and looking for an answer in daydreams. Simply longing to be doing it now, instead of what I was doing, would send me into an unproductive cycle of daydreaming instead of doing. And so comes the “vision board”. January rolled around. I was aware of this cycle of daydreaming that was holding me back. I was aware of the lack of balance in my scheduling each day, and I was desperately seeking a solution to both. Looking inside and outside of the box, under every flap, I just kept coming up empty.

I don’t make New Years Resolutions. I think that is just self defeating. If I want to make a change that badly, it should not depend on the day of the year I did something and I should not make a goal just to say I did something for New Years. I have never been a conformist. Maybe resolving not to make New Years Resolutions is just my subconscious way of fighting needless conformity. I really don’t know. But, I needed a change. Somewhere along the line I learned about these vision boards. I had always been skeptical. I mean, how could simply putting your dreams on a board really affect the outcome? Well, I  decided to give it a try. I was so sick and it was New Years week. With the holidays over and everyone returning to work, it was a good time to give this a shot. I took my time. I had a lot to organize. Just tossing it all up there on a board wasn’t gonna help any. I made a list (because we all know I need lists at this point). I drew a sketch of how I wanted to lay out that list on the board, so things could overlap and priorities could be made with the size of each section in mind. It ended up looking like a big sun, so I went with it.

And then I started my board. I got out all the scrapping materials I might want to use. I found a perfect sized piece of cardboard and I covered it with pretty paper. I put my sections on with “rays” of sun. I had eight sections in total. In the middle of it all, the center of the sun, I glued a big picture of a beautiful dream home. The rest of my goals went into the sections surrounding the center. They consisted of the following categories: God. Writing. Sewing. Crafting/Creating. Gardening. Livestock. Food preservation. And Business development,  for both my husband and I. For the next several days, I tediously cut, pasted and organized these dreams into a picture of a truly satisfying sense of my passions. Many times it just felt like I was doing more of the precious time wasting, daydreaming and longing. Making a collage of my dreams rather than chasing them. Thankfully, I was sick enough to allow it, since I couldn’t really do anything else, and the “vision board” came to fruition.

I set that board in a prominent place in my living room where I have no choice but to look at it daily. I can not believe the change! I don’t really know how to explain it, but my life looks completely different, in just three short months, and I won’t let you forget that I have been sick for the duration of it. Sicker than I have ever been, for longer than I have ever been, and still my productivity is at the strongest it has ever been. The change blows my mind. I still manage to keep the simplified pace of life that I have worked so hard to create for myself, and in many ways, this board helped to further that goal of slowing it down. My house is cleaner than it has ever been. My garden and yard are getting the care that I always want to give them, but struggle to consistently maintain. I have balanced my responsibilities between all of the dreams and goals that I have prioritized right now. I am making more progress on all of them, consistently, than I ever have before. Like everybody, I have household chores ‘nemesis’, and those are even all caught up. I find extra time for purging and decluttering, and I still have as much, if not more, down time, than ever before. My stress level is lower, and I can’t remember the last time I wasted time daydreaming on stuff I could be doing. My family has noticed, my friends have noticed. I have to be honest, that board changed my life. I was so skeptical, but I gave it a shot. I am so thankful that I did. I can’t imagine having made it this far, this fast, without it. Especially with all this mucous clogging up my brains. It keeps me on task. It reminds me. I have things to do. I have heights to reach. I can’t stop now. It helps me find the ambition to just get up and spend ten minutes on one thing, when I just really don’t want to do the tedious right now. Then ten minutes more, and ten more. Before I know it, my list of “have done’s” for the day is always satisfying by the time hubby gets home. Dinners are earlier and family time is more appreciated. I spend alot less time nagging at my family for help, and simply state the one or two things that I need them to do. The difference is astounding. I will continue to make a new board each year as my dreams are achieved and evolve. I will recommend it to my friends, and if you are even a little intrigued, I seriously recommend you try it. What do you have to lose? I lost alot. I lost a big chunk of unproductivity. I lost a huge pile of clutter. I lost the mess that used to embarrass me each time someone came in. I lost the big pile of clean, unfolded clothes that were always so hard for me to get to. I lost the neurotic, unorganized feeling. I lost a whole lot. The things that replaced the stuff I lost are exactly what I was looking for.

Are you ready to start your vision board? How can I help you? No matter what you do, have fun with it. Do a good job. You need it to motivate and inspire you so you aren’t compelled to waste time looking for motivation and inspiration elsewhere. I would love to see what you come up with!

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Six months!

Spring has sprung in the Rocky Mountains and the hubby and I decided to celebrate this weekend by taking a long, rambling, meandering drive through the countryside. As we were rambling through the back roads, reflecting on the renewed hope of spring, it occurred to me. What a landmark I hit this weekend. I made it to the six month mark! Everything I read when I first went gluten free told me that I would start to feel better at the six month mark, but that it takes six months to two years to get all the contaminants out of my life and out of my body. Those numbers felt like forever six months ago. At first, I felt so much better after three days, and two weeks, and a month, without gluten, that I could not imagine a profound change at the six month mark, because I had already had my profound changes. Whoa! If only I had known that those giant adjustments were just the tip of the iceberg. This weekend, I was showing my hubby the Celiac rash and how much it had changed for the better this week. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I had hit the six month mark and that was probably why such a drastic healing difference. I am sure you guys get so sick of hearing me talk about gluten all the time, but I am truly troubled by the detrimental impact that  it has on everyone, and I am surprised it is still a viable food source honestly. I was telling my friend a few minutes ago how its similar to asking for a heroin cookie for snack. And about as good for you too. Its discouraging to see so many completely dependent on this so called food source, and completely ignorant to the effect it is having on them. Even more discouraging is that the medical tests to define it are unreliable at best. So, even once someone accepts that it may be hurting them, they go to the Dr. for confirmation and he tells them, nope, no gluten intolerance, and they go right back to their old ways. There are over 200 symptoms of gluten intolerance, and I do not know one single person who doesn’t have any of the symptoms.

The most common ones I see daily are anxiety (why hasn’t anyone stopped to ask why anxiety is an epidemic these days?), headaches, lack of focus, lethargy, weight problems, and just basic minor complaints all over the body that are unidentified but most likely related. You can do a simple google search and connect almost every disease out there to gluten simply by typing in “gluten intolerance and (insert ailment here)”. You will find that just about every single ailment on the planet is affected by gluten in a negative way. The stuff is horrid. And that is just the beginning of it. That does’t touch on things like nitrates and dyes and preservatives. It doesn’t go anywhere near talking about pesticides and genetically modifying our food sources. Our food is toxic and it is keeping us apathetic and miserable and I spend my days wondering how I can do something about it, so here I am, utilizing the only voice I know at the moment, to try to get your attention. It won’t stop if the people don’t know. In the six months that I have been gluten free, I have seen a huge change in the market. I am guessing that within ten to twenty years, the gluten will have been streamlined out of our diets altogether. Much like the FDA finally released information stating that vaccines CAN cause autism, I suspect that it won’t be but a few more years until they finally admit that gluten is toxic. There is twice the gluten free food available to me in the store than there was six months ago. The transition is happening, and it cant happen fast enough.

I know people roll their eyes at me, they think I am just another faddy foodie, jumping on the gluten free bandwagon. One guy in the grocery store not long ago, told me that gluten is good for you, that it “puts hair on your chest”. I wanted to tell him that he was right, being a hormone disruptor, it probably would put hair on my chest, but being a woman, I am not sure that is what I want in my food. I think the hardest thing for me to face, aside from breaking the addiction, was the concept that people would think I was high maintenance, a faddy foodie just making life hard for dining establishments. Trying to fit in. Oh I am an eccentric. I have never cared much about fitting in, and I had a lot of shame to face in this area. Now, I shamelessly go on and on about this toxin. It is so bad for us. For everyone. And never have I found a topic that people have more excuses for. The reality is, they don’t realize that their fear comes from addiction. They don’t realize how much better they can feel, and they are terrified of a life without gluten.

It is true that eating gluten free can be quite expensive, but I have thoughts on this also. That was one of my biggest excuses too. What I found is that I buy and waste way less food, and I appreciate the food I do have way more. I have also found that as I see the market for gluten free food increase, the prices go down. I can go to the specialty food aisle and buy a gluten free brand of pasta for five dollars, or I can look in the regular food aisles and find gluten free pasta made by the major name brands for a third to half the price as the “fancy” brands. Also, when I eat healthy food, I need way less. Gluten makes us feel full, but not because we are nourished. Eating whole foods, I require much less to feel and stay satisfied.

I have had a drive to grow my own food for some time now, but being gluten free increases that drive, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I want to reduce the cost of my groceries. Secondly, the garden food is so much tastier, and thirdly, gluten is everywhere. Because it has been modified to resist pests, it is often used in organic pesticides, which makes organic vegetables a risk for me. How does one find the lesser evil when being forced to choose between vegetables that may have gluten residue on them, or foregoing the chance of contamination, and giving in to pesticide ridden produce?

And so I grow. I grow and grow and grow, in an attempt to free myself from the vicious cycle of supermarket food and having to choose which food is the lesser evil. Isn’t that sad? That I have to decide which food is the lesser evil when I shop. That God gave us food as nourishment and medicine and when we buy groceries we are weighing the contamination and toxicity factors? A quick internet search on what the Bible says about genetically modifying our food will be eye opening. God gave us perfect food, and silly humans just had to go and change it up. When will we learn that we can’t do it better than God?

Oh, it is just that kind of day. I had a lovely ending to sum this piece up nicely, when wouldn’t you know, the site started acting up. It won’t save, it lost half the post when I tried to publish, and you know, all of the lessons that go against the whole point of this post, which is really convenience. It is all about patience. All about taking a deep breath and refusing to be defeated. All about exposing convenience for what it really is. Convenience is a lie. It does a good job at pretending to make life better, but it does the exact opposite. It steals our joy and gratitude. It dumbs down the senses.

Gluten is like that. It pretends we love it. It pretends to be a good thing. It sucks us into its grips and convinces us that life would not be better without it. Convenience doesn’t make life better, it just appears to do so. When we take time to do things well, to stop and be present, to be aware what we are putting into our lives and our bodies, that is what gives us a bountiful life. That is what gives us health and gratitude. How often is convenience toxic? How often is it a sacrifice for something better, healthier, or more nourishing?

Convenience has stolen our patience, and in doing so, it has stolen the joy from so many aspects of life. Convenience has trained us all into believing that we must go faster, try harder, climb higher.

I promise you, that if you choose a less convenient route, you will find yourself more fulfilled at the end of the day. Much like gluten makes us feel satisfied and full momentarily, then leaves us feeling empty and seeking more, so will convenience. So often people talk about wanting to just slow it down. The first way to tackle that is by foregoing the quick fixes and fast solutions. Patience gives us appreciation and humility.   It forces us to be present and to do things in healthier ways rather than compromising for a quick solution.  If you want to end your day feeling nourished, start by looking what conveniences you can forego. What compromises have you made in order to “fit it all in”?

The rise of illness, especially in the mental health field, is staggering. In a time when we have so much convenience, so much technology and information available to us, how does it make sense that we are sicker and unhappier than we have even been as a population? We are divided, hateful and shameful. Killing our brothers and sisters in the streets. Taking more than we are willing to give. Blaming and shaming everyone who doesn’t agree with us. In a time of plenty, people are getting less and less of their needs met. We get out what we put in. From our food, to our behaviors, everything is a result of what we put in. If our food is toxic, out bodies will be unhealthy. If our behavior is toxic, our relationships will be unhealthy. If convenience is our defining factor, entitlement will be what we get out of it.

How is convenience stealing from you? How can you take the time to prioritize foregoing one convenience for something richer and more fulfilling today? You will find that you have more gratitude, more fulfillment, and more humility at the end of the day. You will appreciate the fruits of your labor far more when you take the time to be present and make conscious decisions about the difference between convenient and healthy. Can you trade in your highly processed existence for one that is more fulfilling and nourishing?