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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?

 

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Mind Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Today’s the day

Good morning everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dancing in the rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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