Monday, November 23, 2015

Dark, Difficult Love

I did something I rarely do. I sat at the TV flipping through the 'holiday happy love' junk. Dozens and dozens of sappy situations to feed our emotions (and our discontentment). Every channel offered 'the spark', the glow, that tingly feel good thing that is suppose to be love.

Not one to deny those loves exist, I am one to say those moments are not constant. The warm, fuzzy emotion of love is fleeting, even occasional in real life. Images given to us by media and entertainment toy with us, pressing us to believe that is the one and only true love.

Love is a choice; an action; a daily thought that is tested and tried- pushed to its limits. Love challenges us to look at the deepest parts of ourselves and face what we often choose to hide. Our vanities and virtues are tested by love-
                   as we are placed in a place of humility for the needs of another
                        as we stand back for another to make their own choices no matter the outcome
                             as we look past the mirror and see the darkest parts of ourselves
                                  as we face who we are forced to reckon with that darkness and move forward.

Over the many years of my life, the pain and test of dark, deep love has surfaced and subsided. So many times it pushes me to places in my heart I dare not look (nor do I want to). Some moments creep up on you, some hit you like a bus:
                    as our dreams are not reality and others don't play by 'our rules
                           as our spouses are imperfect and flawed (as we are) choosing a path we didn't
                                  as our children grow and make choices and mistakes of their own
                                        as loved ones come to a place of need.

There is a beauty in choosing this dark, difficult love; in submitting to it, facing it, and working through the fire it brings. Nothing compares to the emotion, pain, and joy found here. When the dark moments pass, sweet release reveals the precious, secret reality:
                        there is no greater love that this
                                  there is no easy path to it
                                           there is no more precious a gift that to be given the opportunity to love
                                                     in the dark, difficult, humble and gracious

Monday, October 12, 2015

Decluttering the Homestead

Time gathers things- or, maybe it's better to say 'we gather things with time'. Either way, the reality is.. clutter happens.. and a homestead is a clutter magnet! Over time space becomes filled with this and that- the things we said we will get to later. Items that fell to the wayside and the wayside crept closer and closer to the door. You get the point.

This month's focus on my homestead is declutter: use it or remove it.

The goal: break the homestead into zones and clear the zone.

Repurpose, recycle, reclaim- but do not let it remain!

We are twelve days into this month and let me just say this is hard! One: it's ragweed season so I am battling out the histamine drip while trying to decide keep or cull. Two: emotions and doubt play tricks with your mind as you try to decide in there is any use for 'that old thing' (OTC allergy meds are not conducive to mental clarity!). Three: not everyone in the house is on board with my manic urge to purge.

Since the allergies are winning, my focus turned inward these past few days. Closets, pantries and drawers are the starting line. So far the upstairs spare room (now the sewing room) has been gone through- though I can't say it is clutter free since it is packed floor to ceiling with outgrown baby items. Does every grandparent's house have a baby stuff stash?

From there I pressed on to the downstairs spare room- now the grandbaby room. Despite the toys it is in pretty good shape- if only I could figure out how to make the art table/supplies less messy looking. Wait, why? Aren't all creative, artsy people a bit messy? My room is now where I'm at. Then pantries and cabinets. The house is only one small piece though.
We have a barn, well house, storage shed, greenhouse- four poultry pens, three gardens, three pastures- not to mention the place where the trailers set, the 'bone yard' and the dreaded place where all clutter goes to multiply and mock me..the shop! The magnitude of this mess makes me dizzy. Standing in the drive at the end of my work day causes me to ask myself why I didn't start sooner. I know the answer- it is a pain!

The plan?

Burn the fallen trees - or re-purpose them in the goat pen (they are dropping like crazy right now).
Recycle the metal- damaged metal objects are now being piled on a trailer for a little trip.
Trash the trash- determining what is truly trash is the object of many grumblings. (keeping it real)
Thin the 'herd'- metaphorically, of course. Here we are focusing on downsizing or simplifying the chores: barn, gardens, and pasture care. There are less hands on the homestead, so time to re-evaluate what we focus our energies on.
Finally, there are some areas of disrepair that need a tune up. My goal is to fix those fence 'patches' and make things easier for me to handle on my own... calf panels are this girl's best friend. (If only I could find a gate solution as wonderful as calf panels).

Will I get this all decluttered by November- oh, honey, I doubt it, but there's no reason not to be ambitious!

Now, before I get distracted again (or my sinuses clog up), better go bag some more stuff from the closet!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Detox or Purification: My Experience with Healing Baths for When We are Ill

Detox: the removal of toxic substances from a living organism.

Purification: to clean of foreign elements or pollution.

Imagine a long soak in warm, soothing water; the aroma of ginger and clove paired with lemon and mint tickle every breath. Your scalp tingles a bit and your skin drinks up every mineral as muscles relax all the way to the bone. Sigh. A sip of herbal tea warms you deep inside as you smile in gentle peace.
That is a healing, restorative bath- and they are delicious!

The purpose of such bathing is to draw out what has slowed our body; elements from the environment, preservatives from a meal, or illness from the body. Many believe it helps with metal overload or environmental chemical absorption. Overall, the healing bath is meant not only to remove, but to restore as well; rich minerals, vitamins, herbal plant properties, and deep hydration.

What are they used for:
hydration, restoration, aide in detox, relieve migraines or tension headaches, allergies, PCOS or female stagnation, digestion, and stress

How are they used:
warm water as you tolerate, soak 20-45 minutes or until the water cools, sip tea or water to keep internal hydration, dark or dim atmosphere

When are the used:
as needed or up to three times a week (more often is generally only recommended during times of extreme malady)

My study into healing baths spurred from my migraines- I knew a steamy shower or relaxing bath seemed to really help ease the symptoms. I also knew from my herbal studies that many herbs and oils gave relief. The search to put them together led me to page after page of 'detoxifying baths', purification bathing, and herbal steeping. I admit some of it seemed rather far out there, but there was a common practicality to them. Draw out and soak in. The experimentation began.
The first 'recipe' I tried was simple: magnesium salts, sodium bicarbonate, with thieves oil in the warmest water I could tolerate 20 minutes. Pure joy! It relieved my symptoms and offered a refreshing feeling (relaxed and restful). I tried the bath several times after that, not only when I was facing a migraine, but also when I was worn down, exposed to stress or illness, traveling, and even when I had just 'gotten off track'.

Not being one to settle, I dug deeper into the study of healing baths to find there are a plethora of bath recipes and methods: vinegars, minerals, clays, herbals, essential oils and even some with tea. What works for what symptom varies as much as the herbalists and practitioners who write them. It can be a bit confusing. As an herbalist studying holistic nutrition and healing, I like to cater my bath elements to the need or symptom: thieves blends for illness; kava or chamomile for relaxation; and a steeped vinegar bath for when my body seems out of balance. Unless you are under the consultation of a practitioner or you are a studying herbalist yourself, the basic recipe is most likely best.

The most basic recipe I have found:
2 handfuls of magnesium salts or flakes
1 handful sodium bicarbonate
warm water
20-45 minutes
dim lighting with a mild tea such as mint or kava, or simply water

essential oils
herbal vinegars
herbs steeped in your bath (I do bag mine as I dislike cleaning the tub afterward)
bentonite clay

Notes from my journal:
often my body sweats a bit after the bath, so give yourself time to rest and dress lightly (about 30 minutes or and hour)
it is not to apply lotions to the skin as your pores are very open
eating afterward may upset your stomach (remember- detoxing)

This week ragweed bloomed in my area- not at all pleasant for me. An herbal bath, some herbal tea, and plenty of restful reading are on the agenda!
Wishing you wellness during this allergy season:)

I am not a medical doctor. This information is for educational purposes only. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Balance of Being

Lately I find myself struggling to find the balance as our season in life changes. Isn't it amazing how you can finally start to get your footing in a stage, then wham! everything dumps over and we start again. In only a few short years we have gone from a bustling homestead full of teens, to an empty home with a grand baby.

When our children became adults, a whole new need for balance came with it. While we are still there parents, and forever will be, we are not their boss- nor should we be. There is need for balance to maintain a healthy relationship without hindering their independence. When asked by a parent how this is done I simply responded- it looks different to all of us.

For me, there is a tendency to tell them how to do it (not very balancing). As you can imagine this tends to grind nerves and set distance between us. Putting into practice the balance of being available without being in the way has helped quite a bit. I'm not saying there aren't times when a bit of 'motherly direction' slips out, but occasional is better received than constant.

Along with balancing our advice and directions, I found our time needs balanced. When they first left, they seemed more eager to come home for a weekend. Time as shown them visiting less and less, as is natural with growing independence, Not expecting them to drop everything and come over is part of the balance of respecting their space and their schedule.

Grand-parenting is another delicate balance to practice. New mommies don't necessarily take well to constant advice. Being available and willing to let them come to me when they are ready (if at all) is hard, but again, balancing. I can not tell you how hard I find it to sit back and remain silent sometimes (I'm sure it happened when I was a young mom too).

The last balancing I am finding these days is the balance of aging family. Giving our aging or declining families their space, independence, and integrity is hard. I am a do-er, a fixer.. I do not sit back and wait very well. My nature is to jump in and get it done, but that can tip the scale quickly. It isn't easy to let them decide they need help, but it does transition more smoothly if we do.

My empty-ing nest is a new challenge; one I am trying to balance gracefully. So far I have spent a great deal of time crying, praying and most often distracting myself with projects. In the end, I realize the only contentment I will find is in seeking the balance of being where I am, with who I am, for the purpose of what I am.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get More In Your Day- Movement

This week has challenged me; I am a mover. Anyone who knows me understands that sitting for hours is not conducive to my personality; even at my desk I am moving thanks to my stability ball 'office chair'. The problem this week? I am in a master specialist training requiring me to sit through several hours of lectures. It made me realize, many people do sit for hours on end be it work, choice, or physical restriction (often times I hear people do not realize they have sat for a long period due to distractions/entertainment).

Chatting with my fellow students during meals, I discovered not only are people often not moving, they are challenged with ideas to get moving more. Concerns over opportunity, safety, and the all out interest, or lack of, seem to be common. I love a challenge. It's time for some creative movement that is safe, flexible with our schedule, and not mind numbing.

My personal 'move it more's' challenge:

On the job:

* Parking lot
   Many of us have heard to park farther from our destination- that's fine, but let's take this a bit further and spread it throughout our day.
   I say, walk the parking lot! Every time I take a convenience break (potty) I take a stroll around the parking lot. This hint of sunshine and fresh air offer a wonderfully stimulating brain break.

* Stairs
   I didn't have stairs available to me in either of my locations, but if you have them use them. Stirring the cardio system is excellent for mental clarity and focus.

* Stability ball
   Stability balls offer core strength and gentle movement without being disruptive to the office environment. If you have a private office, gentle stretches can also help with long hours of desk time. (more to come in another post) My stability ball was not with me and I could tell; shoulders and back were sore and stiff after hours of sitting.

Once the day is over:

* Stop off at:
   The gym: Stopping off on the way home is much easier than leaving once you have arrived home.
   A park: Frugal and easy, parks are all over the place. As long as it is still light outside, a brisk walk is quick and easy.
   Trails: We have a few trails in our area and some subdivisions have walking paths. They are great.
^^^^I keep a spare pair of shoes and some 'walking clothes' in the car just in case I am not dressed for a walk.

* Play
   If you go home to children or a dog, play with them! Ben was very eager to walk, fetch, tug, and play with me when I made it home. Play is an excellent way to move and to enjoy our family.
   No pets or kids- play anyway. Shoot hoops, toss or kick a ball at a net, visit a batting cage, maybe even just swing a little while- it's fun!

* Garden
   My garden chores are never done, offering me an opportunity for some movement every time I visit it. Walk through, pick a weed, pluck some pests, and water it- all great moving activities.

So what's the point? We could all use more activity in our day, and our schedules don't make it easy. This month my focus professionally and personally is to find more simple, effective, safe, ways to get moving and share it with others.
Did I do all of these things? You bet. I promise not to share it unless I have done it!
What's your way to get more movement in your day?