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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Growing

Over the past month, I’ve shifted my 7- day work schedule to squeeze in more and more freedom. The amazing thing is somehow this has helped me earn more rather than less, because I feel more productive when working, even still 7 days a week.

I’m trading weekly work on an organic farm for food, because 1) I love organic vegetables, 2) the difference in my entire being when I’m outdoors and active compared to sitting in front of my computer screen has become too hard to ignore or deny any longer than 25 years. I’ve been a great denier. It was heavenly today to get to feed some sheep a bounty of wintered over kale. Yay sheep!! The only animal I’m not allergic to on a farm.

My dream for my big looming transition to a different life post living with child next year, hopefully in Habitat housing or tiny rental, is evolving into working part-time on a farm even if $12/hr and part-time transcribing. But we’ll see as time closes in.

I also started offering to teach anyone to knit so I can share the coping and creative tool that’s brought me to a place of peace over and over during trying times of any kind. My KNIT HAPPENS project will hopefully garner enough 8×8 squares from the community to make a blanket that can be auctioned to support the rent monies on the space where I teach each week.

Life is beautiful and full, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens when people make choices to live in any way “against the grain.” For me to choose to return to solitude and the natural world for strength instead of partnership, for any woman choosing not to have children (or man, but expectations seem higher for women), for anyone choosing anything that helps them feel at peace in themselves versus what is expected of them by others, I value this quality.

I hope I can enter the later years of my life working in ways aligned with sustainable practices that honor Earth and community while choosing as much solitude as I need to feel whole.

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Daydream

We interrupt this weekend’s 20 hours of transcribing to bring you this daydream from reality almost too good to be true.

Part of my spiritual practice is to visit this tree often in different weather and times. No burden is too big for it to hold, and I’m grateful for its presence.

PS. What does it say about my auditory processing if I simultaneously hear Laurel and Yanny equally? Maybe I’ve been in the right career all these years.

 

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Expressions of Great Mother

Breathing in joy from Earth every day rain or shine. Always remember this is simple inborn technology that heals us.

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