So it’s the final day of my write 31 days in October. I didn’t end up writing everyday because I wasn’t sure if we’d have enough internet time to make it through the month, but thankfully we did. It was surprisingly easier this year to write than last year’s write 31 days project. I thought I would write more about my herbal studies, but other life stuff got in the way. There was a presentation on cannabis at my last herbal class that I found interesting that at some point I’d like to share on the blog, but for now it can wait. In two weeks time I’ll go to my last herbal class, and I’ll present on verbascum thapsus (mullein). I’m planning on making mullein vapor chest rub, mullein cough syrup, and some dried mullein leaves to infuse for tea. I’ll be focusing on finishing up my final project and will most likely go back to writing only once or twice a month. We’ll see how things go. Happy Halloween!
We went to the park today after Zoey’s dentist appointment. It was a day of “firsts” for the kids. Zane walked across the rope bridge (not the one pictured above) by himself and Zoey swung across two monkey bars all by herself. I feel very proud when my kids are brave enough to try new things. I don’t remember being a brave child, so I’m glad that I’m not passing on my fears to them.
I meant to take photos of the trees Stephen planted today. We bought two Cedar of Lebanon trees and two Silver Linden trees from Horizon Herbs. I made some willow tea to pour over the soil where the trees are planted. Willow has natural rooting hormone chemicals. Hopefully that will help get them established. Sometime soon I’ll take a photograph of the trees.
And lastly, seeing my little guy wear these button down shirts is one of my favorite things this month. I told him he’s wearing a shirt like daddy so of course he likes wearing them now. It’s funny how no matter where we are, my children can somehow identify the sound of a backhoe. We were stopped on the road this morning (there is a lot of roadwork being done), and Zane started making a grunting noise then said a word that sounded vaguely like “backhoe.” Sure enough, there was a backhoe just down the road. I guess it makes sense considering that they hear the backhoe on our ranch almost everyday. There’s a good chance Zane will learn how to use the backhoe before his father does. That could be a good thing. Put the kid to work, right?
I’m reading this book called Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s an enjoyable read so far. In the beginning pages, the main character shares some insight about her relationship with her mother and it got me thinking. Hoffman writes:
For most of my life, I had hoped my mother would see me. That one day she’d open her eyes and, as if a rush of sunlight had poured into a darkened room, she’d see who I was, not the shadow of what I wasn’t.
I’m grateful that although my mom and I don’t always agree on things, I feel that she respects who I’ve become. I want to be that mother to Zoey and Zane. I think I’ve written about this before, and I keep coming back to this idea of letting them be who they are, not trying to change who they might develop into. Of course, I want to instill positive values within them, but their likes and dislikes are their own to choose. I have no place to try to mold them into being who I want them to be other than loving, kind, generous, respectful individuals. It saddens me when I see parents who are still trying to change their adult children into their vision of who they want their children to be. They will live their whole life, and will they ever really see their children for who they are and respect the choices they’ve made? The mistakes as well as the successes? Everyone, whether they know it or not, wants to be seen as they truly are. When we are able to really see others as they are, we come to realize there is little that separates us. This reminds me of the word Namaste, which is often either a greeting or closing in yoga, that I’ve heard translated as “I see you, and you see me, and we are one.”
Day One of practicing letting go of control. As I drove down our dirt road with Zane to head down into town, I stopped at the front gate as a truck was already entering. We had planned to go to the park as usual to play at the playground and have a picnic lunch before going to pick up Zoey from school. As the truck pulled up next to my car and I was about to tell him I would close the gate for him, he told me my left rear tire was flat. I got out and looked and sure enough it was flat. He offered to fill it up with air, and I gladly accepted. I expressed to him my gratefulness that he saw the flat tire and told me before I attempted to drive down the mountain and my tire blew out. After he filled up the tire with air, I slowly drove back home. A change of plans.
This past weekend was my second to last herbal class weekend. We meet again in three weeks for our final weekend together. Throughout our nine months together we have discussed the archetypes of maiden, mother/middlewoman, and elder/crone/wise woman. As we find ourselves in autumn, moving towards winter, we naturally discussed the later stages of a woman’s life–the elder/wise woman years. Our teacher Donna summarized each archetype as “A maiden meet her wisdom, a middlewoman practices her wisdom, and a crone keeps her wisdom within.”
Towards the end of our discussion on how older women are viewed in our culture, we had a “letting go” ritual. On a piece of mushroom paper Donna had made (mushrooms being great decomposers), we wrote what we felt we needed to let go of in our life right now. I wrote down “the need to control.” It causes me so much stress in my life when I try to control how my children will act, how my day will unfold, and so many other little things in my life. The wisdom deep within me knows that it is senseless and unnecessary to be so rigid. And so these are the years for me to practice letting go of holding on so tight to the reins that really are just imaginary anyway. After writing down our symbol or words on the paper, we took turns burning the paper and throwing it in the cast iron pot to burn.
I was listening to the Sparkle Story “Someone Else’s Dragon” earlier today in which the mother has her daughter practice a ritual of letting go of the fears she has taken on that are not hers. It got me thinking about rituals. I was thinking how growing up in the Catholic Church I was awed by the ritual of the Eucharist. I knew something magical was happening when the alter boy or girl rang the bells as the priest held up the Eucharist. I remember the times when I felt the Holy Spirit very present in the Church, knowing the host and wine truly became Christ’s body and blood. And in more recent years, as I’ve attended Mass sporadically in various churches, the ritual has lost its power for me. I don’t think it’s because I’ve lost my belief, but rather I felt a disconnection from the community around me. I think what feels different about the circle of women I join each month is that despite our various beliefs, we hold the space with love for each other. There are so many churches I’ve visited in recent years that have felt so empty, and I wonder if it’s because the people have forgotten how to really connect and love one another. And so I choose now to practice other rituals, some of my own making, because wisdom resides in all of us.
I spent the morning at Vichy Springs for a massage and then a hike. I forgot my bathing suit and wasn’t able to go in the mineral baths, but I’ll definitely have to return sometime soon.
I was reading an article in the October/November issue of Paleo Magazine about “risk muscle.” You use it by trying new things. The article quotes Warren Buffett as saying risk “comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” In my 38 years of living, I’m trying more and more to challenge myself to do things that are a little out of my comfort zone. Today it was hiking alone. Even around our property I get a little scared of encountering a wild animal. But then I pretend to be brave, do the thing that scares me, and I survive and feel stronger. If I’ve learned anything in 38 years, it’s that I must keep growing and pushing myself to live life to the fullest. The article talked about how using your risk muscle looks different for everyone. For me it’s hiking alone, and driving home in the dark. For my mama, maybe it’s taking that yoga class at the gym. No matter how old you are, my birthday wish for you is that you try something new today even if you don’t know what you are doing. Go for it anyway. See what happens.
I spent the last hour trying to upload photographs to make a poster collage of mullein for my herbal class final project. What a headache websites can be sometimes. I’d rather not be on the computer late at night, but it seems to be the only time I have to myself to write. Early mornings never seem to work because somehow the kids just know I’m awake and they wake up, too.
Because I’m always full of random thoughts and random poems–here’s the last stanza of Pablo Neruda’s poem October Fullness:
It pleased me to grow with the morning,
to bathe in the sun, in the great joy
of sun, salt, sea-light and wave,
and in that unwinding of the foam
my heart began to move,
growing in that essential spasm,
and dying away as it seeped into the sand.
On the drive back home today, Zoey wanted her water bottle but it was in the door of the car where neither she nor I could reach. So I handed her my water bottle. She took a sip then said to me, “This water tastes like you.” I thought for a second then responded that I had eaten kale chips moments before. She said to me in reply, “No, it tastes like your skin.”
Zane refused to eat his dinner tonight. I made pork chops, applesauce from our apples growing in the orchard, broccolette, and leftover rice with cauliflower. While Stephen was doing dishes I was eating the rest of the applesauce out of the pot. Zane saw me and grunted that he wanted some. I went over to his plate and showed him how he had applesauce on his own dinner plate to eat. He shook his head no. So like any smart mama would do, I dumped his applesauce from his plate and put it in the pot and proceeded to feed him directly from the pot. And he ate it. And I added pork to the fork with the applesauce and he ate that, too.
We’ve decided Zoey will do my hair for my brother’s wedding next month. Here’s the updo she is working on.
It’s been awhile since I posted photographs of what’s happening up at the main house building site. Just below where the A-frame will sit, we had a concrete bunker put in.
There will be all glass in the front of the bunker looking out to the valley below with a patio above. We’ve talked about the bunker being a space where we could show movies or I could do yoga. Perhaps a pool table, who knows?
The two Steves who are working on our house attempted to have the A-frame beams lifted last week with the telehandler, or as we call it “the Green Machine,” but the tele handler wasn’t able to position the beams far enough over on the foundation. So the Steves are building all the beams, and then we’ll have a crane come to lift them. The beams are about 30 feet long and weigh about 600 pounds to give you an idea of their size.
It was a day of confusion and misunderstanding. I found this photo I took of the river by the house we stayed in up in Washington last month. I like looking at photographs of moving water as a reminder that change always comes. My emotions are all mixed up tonight. I was sitting in front of the bookcase in our bedroom and I found this book Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., that I read years back when I was working as a hospice social worker. I highly recommend this book. It’s one of those books you could read over and over again. Here’s the beginning paragraph of her chapter called “Endbeginnings:”
I was thirty-five years old before I understood that there is no ending without a beginning. That beginnings and endings are always right up against each other. Nothing ever ends without something else beginning or begins without something else ending. Perhaps this would be easier to remember if we had a word for it. Something like “end begin,” or “beginend.”