Touching Earth

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In praise of fiber artist extraordinaire

Unearthing potatoes by hand for my first time this week, side by side with two lovely sisters, searching them (potatoes, not sisters) for insect damage, then plopping them with satisfying thunk in buckets. This is where I need to be. Where we all need to be. Touching Earth.

Being taught how to harvest chard and carrots properly by a student at Organic Farm School who saved two pigs from slaughter by purchasing them with her limited funds from working three jobs this year while attending school and going to other extreme measures to pay her tuition. Her example gives me hope as I volunteer in exchange for food and work late into the night to make up hours from doing what I love.

These are inspirations I carry with me in response to such calamitous and dire reporting this week out of the UN Climate Change Report and the media mantra telling me “We are more divided than ever.” My response to all of it is to know 100% I want to commit the rest of my life to organic farming even if it takes me longer than I’d like to raise funds, to participate in change needed to feed humanity healthfully, learn forgotten knowledge of my ancestors about living close to the Earth in my disconnected, high-tech, information age society, and to work my hardest to reveal and live from a place of inner unity when the world feels like it’s pulling apart at the seams.  I don’t want artificial intelligence. I want Earth’s intelligence.

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Vignola shawl – pattern by Plucky Knitter, wool from Fidalgo Artisan Yarns

Working in media allows me the insight to choose which narrative to focus on and constantly question who is benefiting from the narrative being told. I choose inner listening and doing anything in my power to remain whole, nonfragmented, honoring the core of what may be a human soul.

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This week’s knitspiration. Check out this co-op of 250 indigenous women in remote villages of Alaska doing amazing knit work:  Quiviut. It would be a wonderful thing to start a small group of knitters that could sell online, because my two hands are unable to produce enough fast enough to turn profit.

Sustainable Foodspiration. Check out this ambitious project to reclaim balanced way of eating and food production in indigenous food labs.

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Zebra plant native to Brazil, about to bloom in Pacific Northwest window

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Fall Montage

My favorite season. Time of fungi, Evergreen blackberry vine, and a deep bow to the gorgeous orb weaver master fiber artist.

Envisioning a time on Earth where sexual harassment/assault for anyone isn’t a thing, and humans can experience what it might be like to live where feminine energies (creative, intuitive, Earth-bound, life-conduit, unlimited) are supported and protected by male energies (direct action, logical, warrior, protector). We all can access these energies inside ourselves. Can we even imagine what it would feel like to live in a time of balance and respect? We are much more powerful than the public narratives in which we swim in this moment. Our culture is so unbalanced, hypersexualized, fantasy/escape, consumer driven, it’s often hard to see the forest for the trees. But if we pan out, we can see the fungus among us and ask ourselves for a better way.

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Bridge to a Crossroads

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A significant crossroads on the horizon is looming for me, and all this year I have set a toe in the water to explore a livelihood closer to my heart. What this has meant for now is pushing myself a bit to an edge, because the total of 10 hours each week I volunteer on farms and knitting/teaching I need to make up late into nights with paid work. Amazingly, household bills and winter heat cannot be paid in yarn and vegetables.

I am thrilled with working on farms because it’s a definite “yes” to work around hard-working people connected to Earth. I would like to have more understanding of all it takes to create healthy soil and irrigation and more botany, but even without classroom learning, I am amazed how subtly, bit by bit, harvesting various plants teaches me without words what to look for, how a ripe something or other feels or looks when ready.

My most significant insight this week is around duty. We all may have many life purposes, but duty can be part of that purpose. Even as I look forward to writing a new chapter in my life as my only child moves onward to her next chapter, I had some unrealistic idea in my head of starting all over as a 20-year-old in a leap from the nest moment. News flash. I am not 20-something, and the biggest commitment half of my adult life is to this child and nothing will change that. Even if she wants little to do with me at the moment (appropriate to her growth).

In short, I resolved for myself that some fantasy of finally freeing myself of the binds of my past continual work to support two people and move toward creating a life with more freedom, getting rid of all belongings and living a nomadic lifestyle to live on farms is not okay when my duty is to my child as well as myself.

I suddenly thought of myself as a young adult and how I would feel emotionally if my stable parent and home base evaporated. It may not even be a choice I can make financially to maintain a home base for her to visit in the same area she grew up since rents have tripled, but at least a space to visit is my goal for the next few years. This week, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in years who has a pet-free (essential for me), mother-in-law apartment with separate entrance I can afford, so I will hope something like this is available when my time comes to move.

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Meantime, I will keep on creating windows on a new life into my work schedule and see how far that takes me.

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String of Hearts plant next to Kyler Shawl

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Gratitude Walk in Hazardous Times

You know the air is bad when someone visits your small, rural, seaside town from China and tells you, “This reminds me of Beijing.”

After learning air quality where I am will be in the “very unhealthy” range the next few days thanks to this app on my phone – check it out for your location – I decided to go to the most pollution sequestering place I know among old growth trees to give thanks and record some green, cool images for a blessing in these days of fire.

Thank you moss, thank you ancient trees, thank you ferns, thank you cool underground spring at a time when 98% of my state is in drought. And thank you, thank you fire fighters who put their lives on the line to try to put out these raging fires.

I’m going to try an N-95 face mask while working outdoors this week. Here’s a good description of what masks work best for fire pollution.

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Community Supported Agriculture

Growing up in cities, I’d grown accustomed to vegetables coming from large grocery stores, even though I’ve bought organic produce for years and whenever funds allowed visited farmers markets. Then I first heard the term CSA two years ago among a group of people “in the know” and was too afraid to ask what it meant. Since many people do not seem aware of the concept when I mention it,  I thought I’d do a little post about the joy I get from doing a work trade for my vegetables in one CSA, and highlighting the program.

A CSA is like a subscription service, except you are paying it forward allowing the farmer to cover costs and plant seeds. Most I’ve researched allow you to split your payments for the growing season over several months rather than one up-front lump sum, and many allow work trade arrangements if you just ask. Extra hard-working hands are usually welcome on a farm. And nothing compares to the flavor, texture and nutrition of farm fresh rather than refrigerator trucked grocery shelf produce.

If you have your own plot of land and funds to establish a good watering, soil system, and animal-fence protection, then more power to you, but if you’re like me and don’t, checking out a CSA near you is a great way to get super fresh produce from the land while supporting a farmer in your region. More and more rural CSA programs are serving urban areas, and here is a link to find registered ones near you, though many are not registered, so word of mouth is also super:  Local Harvest

Whidbey Institute Westgarden Volunteer Days
(not a CSA, but a community garden nonetheless)

Organic Farm School, Whidbey Island – Open House
OFS has a CSA that delivers to Seattle!

As a vegan, I can (almost) never have too many vegetables. But I absolutely love the fact I can “pay” for them by working in the Earth and spending time in that magical connection that gives us so much more than economic value. Something truly of the spirit feeds us by working a patch of land.

12 Birches Farm, the CSA I work trade at weekly

Kids’ Veggie Creatures at Island County Fair

Fiber Arts – Island County Fair

  1. I want to learn to dye fiber. And spin fiber. And weave fiber. And create something from sheep to design to finished project. All in time….and money.
  2. Climate change project: Each day knit a garter ridge (two rows) based on temperature for the day, choose palate of cool to warm colors and make a blanket or scarf for a friend over a year – unless it’s too hot where you are for a blanket.
  3. Yes, I won “Best Knitting Adult” for my first entry since 4th grade in a county fair and now my mom can have her hat returned just in time for August heat….

Best Vegan Potluck dish ever to feed 15+ folks. Tomatoes, parsley, red onion, avocado, black beans sprinkled in cumin, corn, all over a bed of 2 cups dried cooked quinoa (trick to cooking quinoa = 1:1 ratio to water, bring to boil, then 10 minutes only on low, turn off heat and leave lid on another 10 minutes). Sprinkle entire rainbow with 2 squeezed limes, salt, pepper. Finely chop garlic, jalapeno pepper and cilantro on the side for those who want.

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HAPPY JULY!  (Mine has been full of color and life so far)

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I Am Free

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Freedom is in my hand

You know how the internet is. Next thing you know, you’re looking up Swahili proverbs and applying them to your life.

There is no one who does not make mistakes.

 

Yes, this one hits the nail on the head as far as my long journey to live an authentic life. We could all practice a little more self acceptance.

A frog has no feathers. Don’t be too demanding.

 

We all know who this refers to. Perhaps it insults the cow?

A fool is a person too, don’t say that person is a cow.

 

Love this one.

It is not necessary to blow out the other person’s lantern to let yours shine.

“I am free.” These three words keep running in my head over and over these days, a message my soul must need to be reminded of. I do not mean to compare my journey to anyone else’s much more arduous path, but this blog post is only to highlight some inspiration on the theme of freedom and what it means to me. I am realizing more and more I only need to claim it, and my freedom is there growing in my consciousness. It’s so easy to feel constrained or imprisoned by constant work and economic realities, by “the rigged system,” by “politics,” by gender norms, by relationships, by our own mind.  The more I take baby steps outside the framework in which I’ve lived for 25-30 years toward where my heart wants to be, the more freedom I experience.

I have no idea how financial or other success will be part of my freedom, but I’m going to continue expanding my life in this way, volunteering where I can between work where I can engage more parts of who I am and impact other lives, transitioning toward work I love honoring Earth. Is it possible to become an organic farmer without any money or land over age 50? We shall see. Great farm school happens to be in my backyard and hope to enroll by 2020 so that I leave the nest simultaneous to my child. Farm sitter or intern more likely in my future, but I love being physically exhausted at the end of my days, work among my plant nation friends, produce food that is healing for humans, my blood rushing with the magnetic pulse of Earth instead of WiFi, and not least, put my body where my mind and heart is on climate change. (Food production ranks #3 and #4 on top 100 solutions in Drawdown).

I visited my local Tilth Market today and soon after I arrived, some members of the Open Circle Singers broke into singing “Rolihlahla Mandela – Freedom is In Your Hand.” Which immediately brought me back to the moment I learned Mandela walked out of prison,  February 11, 1990, because at the time I had good friends among the South African in exile community and celebrated among them along with my friends from other African countries. And I couldn’t help but become teary, because I’ve been hearing an internal voice toward living an authentic life and the freedom that brings for a few weeks now.

 

A message we sorely need for these times in 2018.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

Images from a mindful walk today.

 

 

P.S. 07/18/18 – I honestly did not know it was Mandela’s 100th birthday celebration two days after I published this post, but his spirit was speaking to me this week. In that light, I will add this speech out of South Africa that I find provides a great overview of vision. (Start at 2:27 for Obama’s portion).

“It shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more. Instead of saying, ‘Wow, I got so much, who can I help? Who can I give more and more and more?’ That’s ambition, that’s impact, that’s influence. What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself. Where was I? I ad libbed. You get the point.”  ~ Barack Obama

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Sharing My Light

Saddened by first learning that suicide among middle aged American women spiked first time ever, then teen suicides and attempts doubling in the past decade, and most recently by Anthony Bourdain’s departure, two sides of a coin, depression and anxiety have become a super salient topic. I wrote the following paragraph in response to an online conversation about suicide and depression, and it was suggested I do share my light. So I will try.

“I went from being someone tried on every antidepressant there was over decades and told I needed to remain medicated for life in order to live, to being off pharmaceuticals for years without depression and gratitude for life. Since I work in media I’m aware of the epidemic and wish I could figure out how to bottle what steps I took to be healthy. But each person needs their own healing and I’ve been hesitant to preach or teach a solution. I do think shifts in focus are powerful retraining of destructive mind capacity inherent in us all, because what we focus on expands. Yes, there are many aspects of American “culture” that are sick, but at least for me, a focus on timeless elements the Earth provides which are bountiful in America is part of healing the disconnected heart.”

I’ve written about depression in this blog many times.

Here – What Helps

Here – Raveling

Here – Silent Happiness Lobby

Here – Love and Sadness

To recap my two cents if I could bottle a moment of teach and preach:

  • Becoming familiar with the part of yourself that can unconditionally love you no matter what can save you again and again. Meet this part of yourself. It exists in all of us.
  • Figure out what “habit scaffolding” you need to build in your life to maintain your balance, through trial and error. Once you find those things – walking daily, supportive nature connection practice, diet, meditation and creative practice for me – stay with them! Build them into your day in, day out, no matter how you feel on a given day, how great you are at talking yourself out of a habit, or where you are, and you will remain balanced in the face of whatever the universe throws at you. This does not mean rigidity. After all, scaffolding can shift with high winds, but at least you will have a framework that works for you.
  • Keep your focus on what works for you, because shifting your focus to what brings light outside and inside of you will expand that light.
  • Consider the possibility that food may be one of the most powerful pathways we have to control the chemical soup our physical bodies swim in and the impact this can have on our brains and mental health.
  • To feel more whole, take baby steps to heal a mind-body disconnect that can be caused by any number of traumatic experiences. My rift lasted decades until it recently felt healed. One book that especially helped me was In Touch: How to Tune Into The Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself. The next step for me is incorporating a leap from decades of frozen sedentary computer work to being physically engaged outdoors more and more of the time, regardless of income. I’m taking baby steps in that direction, granting myself freedom where I tend to see none possible due to economic constraints.
  • Consider the possibility “Nothing is wrong with you” and work from where you are. No perfection needed.

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