A Life Divided

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It must be the first day of hunting season.  I’m sitting in my kitchen, drinking my morning coffee and I hear a gun shot – one very loud one.  The hunting kind.  Not the sort of  “I got a new gun and I’m tryin’ her out” kind of shots we occasionally hear.  One single shot.  I wonder if it was our neighbor, Sam.  I wonder if he got a deer.  He aims for one per season – enough to fill his freezer and kindly spare a couple of pounds of meat for his neighbors, including us.

Teddy, our Great Pyr, is lying on the kitchen floor when the shot breaks the steady sound of morning crickets and cicadas.  He should be outside with the chickens and cows, but instead he lays on the cool, wood floor inside.  He has the biology of a guardian dog,  but came to us before we had the workings of a farm, so we are his flock – his human livestock.  The shot is enough to wake him and he runs to the door, barking his baritone that is enough to travel the back woods.  I open the door and off he goes, at a pace that surprises me he was asleep only moments before.

We didn’t hear gun shots when we lived in town.  We moved here and plenty changed, yet we still have traces of life in town inside of us.  I heard a woman say, regarding a man close to me, “he has one foot in heaven and one on Earth.”  I’d never heard anything that sounded so true.  A life divided.  Life on a farm, slightly removed from town but close enough to see the new, made-for-the-masses line of couture at Target.   One moment, I am barefoot in the garden or gutting a chicken, the next I am typing on my laptop.   These two lives can work together, it’s just trying to decide how the percentages split.

The humans on this farm, split between caring for the land and growing food and a grocery store that has it all waiting for us.  Our dogs, biologically-wired to protect others outside, yet have known the comfort of a cool floor indoors.   Our lives in this modern society, in the part of the world I live, are easy.  Boxes delivered to our front door the next day.  Groceries bagged and ready when we get to the market.  I sometimes wonder what life was like to have the responsibility of survival on one’s shoulders – to not have the choice of either growing my own food or driving to the large building to buy it.

I do know this – the days when I do the work are the days I feel best.  The mornings I get out of bed when it is still dark, my stomach muscles doing their best to convince me that I do not need to sit up from underneath the covers.  And yet, I somehow gather the courage each morning to ignore them, to put my feet on the ground,  to go outside to feed and water the sheep.   Joe takes care of the chickens.  The cool air in our lungs.  The sun making its purple/red appearance over the tree line.  My mind wants to talk me out of this each morning, but once I am outside, a feeling of resilience rises.  The feeling that we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and that sometimes the inventions of man are more than we need.

 

What If You Were Met With Love Instead?

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She rides closely to the back of the car and an angry face in the rearview mirror.

He comes downstairs in the morning and is curt and short.

She is angry that service is slow.

The instinct to push back comes first.  Give back what is given to you.  An angry gesture back to the driver, a curt and short reaction, an impatient response.

What if they were met with love instead?

What if instead of increasing the flame, it was diffused?

What if pain was met with love and patience, instead of ego versus ego?  Who is right and who is wrong and who is being treated unfairly and behaving in ways that disrespect who I am.

What if we let all of that go?  It is a burden too heavy to carry.

What if we met the pain that exists in the world with breath?  With patience and kindness and an attempt at understanding.  What if that was our default instead?

It is not easy.  It takes practice and patience and a letting-go of what our mind wants.

A practice:

Picture someone.  A person who has caused pain.  A person who holds anger.  A person you encountered in the past week that met you with hostility.  Close your eyes.  Hold that person in your mind’s eye.  Now send them love.  Say it out loud if you can: “I love you.”  Feel your breath.  Feel your heart beat.  Feel the love you are producing for them and for yourself.  A shift.  A release in any anger or resentment you may feel and an energy of love being sent to them.  A new lightness in the place of a heaviness you were not meant to carry.

When we meet others with love in their hostility, it cannot help but to diffuse the flame of anger and lighten the burden of ‘being right’ and ‘being respected’.

We are all made of the same cells, same earth, same energy.  As we send love to others, we cannot help but to be filled with that same love in return – and our Earth can begin to shift to one of peace and love, where there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, just us together in this collective experience of life.

 

 

 

 

 

The Voice in the Quiet

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There are times when my mind is busied, distracted with a mundane task it knows well but still occupies its time (driving, gardening, polishing metal), that another voice inside would speak up. What voice is this? Soul, spirit, the unconscious, angels, a muse? What I do know is it is a voice of counsel, of reassurance – one that seems to be smarter than the everyday mind of problem-solving. It knows there are no real problems. Sometimes I would feel it speaking up, and find a piece of paper to write it down – wanting to remember the wisdom it had to say. The above is one such instance.
We all have this voice. I have it no more than anyone else. No one has it more than another and it can be more easily heard when we stop distracting ourselves with information and breathe instead. Have a moment at a stop light, breathe. Waiting for the water to boil, breathe. Have a thought that makes you uncomfortable and feel the pull to pick up your phone, breathe. Breathe into the silence and the voice inside, wherever it comes from, will begin to grow clearer. And your own innate wisdom will come through with a resounding and clear voice to guide you on your path.

Let Go

 

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Let go of what you hold on to so tightly,
this tightrope of control you walk
when the ground below is there
to love and support you.

Let go.

Let go of what you hold on to –
the reasons conjured that give you
the false idea of safety.

Take a deep breath.

Breathe into life.
Know you are
loved and supported.

It is not for us to know
what tomorrow brings.
It is for us to find joy
in the moments of our life.

Feel led by what feels good.
Take action in joy.

The fears your mind creates
do no support you.
Let them go
and let the peace and love deep within

{that those fears suffocated}

carry you towards your freedom.

Living Without Expectation

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There is the five year plan, the ten year plan.  It is all well to plan if we find joy in it, but what if we did so without expectation?  What if we lived altogether without expectation?  What does that look like?  

It means joy in the action-taking, not in the preconceived idea of the outcome.  It means doing work that has joy in the doing, not in the outcome of the work once done.  It means creating truly from our souls without thought of who else will like it, who may judge it, or how many ‘likes’ it may receive.

The sculptor who sculpts in joy, the painter who paints in joy, the artist who creates in joy, will not quit the activity if they are dissatisfied with their piece when it is finished because the point of creating was the joy of creation, not in the object created.

If we run to lose weight, if we only work for money, if we only garden for the blossomed flower, then we will not stay with it, unless we ultimately find joy in the doing. 

What is an expectation of success to you?  Is it money or affluence?  Is it power?  Is it freedom?

Or what if the idea of “success” did not exist at all?

What if we had no idea of success as an outcome, but as a doing in joy and in love?  If we live through our hearts, this is possible.  If we live through our minds, there is always a problem to solve, a finished project to accomplish, a waiting of something to improve the present, for that is its job.  If there was no issue, no future goal envisioned or to obtain, then it knows no purpose for its survival.  

But if we live from our heart.  What does it look like to live from our heart? 

It looks like the runner running because they love the action and feel of their legs moving, their heart beating.

It looks like the caregiver loving their patient while taking their blood pressure.

It looks like the chef creating a dish for the love of nourishment and flavor and tasting sensations.

It looks like the parent loving watching their child play the sport they love, win or lose, college scholarship or one year of playing and finished.  No expectation.

Several minds are now saying, does that mean we do nothing that sounds like something we do not want to do?  Does that mean we only do things that always bring us joy?

This is a problem of the mind.  There is always joy in the present moment if we allow our minds to stop pushing us into the a different place than we are right now.  It could also be a conditioned thought that we must do work we do not find joy in to attain what we need.  Or that the activities we find joy in can not sustain us.  These are all false beliefs that our mind loves to hold on to.

When work is done solely through the mind, for an achievement or an imagined date of  ‘success’, it is all done for the receiving of love, of acceptance, of approval.

But when we live through our hearts, our mind has already received all of the love and acceptance and approval it will ever need.  And it is free to live in the experience of joy in doing, not in a future imagined date of accomplishment.

An Opening for Something New to Be Born

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When faced with a time that is full of change – a time of shift and rotation and unexpected turns of events – life can seem to have almost taken over and put us on a course that has taken us by surprise.  Change is a certainty, but we sometimes cannot prepare ourselves for what it is and how quickly it can occur.

Some words for souls going through this shift.

There is no need to worry.  For those of you who have space where there used to be none – a child growing and needing less, a career or relationship that is taking less time than it once did or coming to a close, a sudden or unexpected opening – take this, dear one,  as a time of rest.  Life is making room for growth. There is peace in this space if we choose it.  There is joy within and in the space you are currently residing, incubating the next phase of life that will find its way to you.

This is not a time of loss.  The love and energy that was there still is and will manifest itself to you in another form, for energy cannot be destroyed.  It is all available to you right now if we are open to the other forms it can take.  We choose whether to worry and block ourselves from the love and blessings that are preparing to flow in in other forms when we attempt to hold on to life the way it was.  What lived has run its course and is transitioning to something else.  Let it go.  Make room.  Beauty and love flow in in other forms.  Relax and accept.  Accept what is, accept yourself, accept your beautiful and honored place in the Universe.

Feel your breath.  Feel your heart beating.

See how they work for you without thinking, without effort.  They both continuously work for you, from the life force that continues to flow through you.  Know that goodness and love and joy will flow to you in this open space as though its your breath, as though it is the blood flowing to your fingers and toes.

Do not see lack or scarcity.  It is an illusion of the mind and not true.  Thank your mind for its effort in trying to solve the problem of its creation.  That it can rest.  All is well.

There is beauty in this space.  It is all for your highest good.  Allow the flow of life to carry you to this present moment, the love that resides there always, and the fullness of what is to come.

 

Golden God Nectar, or How to Make Chicken Bone Broth

I remember living on Indiana Avenue my sophomore year at Indiana University.  It was one of those sweet, little off-campus houses with a kitchen mostly used for holding cereal boxes and milk and reheating take-out Indian food.  I shared it with three other girls, and while we had a lot of fun together, sous chefs we were not.

That spring, I came down with the most awful cold.  I still remember it.  It was one of those colds that you begged your roommate to take a note to your Accounting professor because you were too ill to go to class on a day you knew you had to be there.  And it was also the days of no email and running to the computer lab at 11:45pm to print your paper before they closed at midnight, but whatever.  Go-ahead and bask in your Inkjet at home while I date myself over here.

Back to the story – I had a cold.  And one of my sweet roommates generously offered to make a bowl of chicken noodle soup for me.  Which is to say, she opened a can, plopped it into a bowl, pushed a few buttons, and brought it to me in bed.  To say I was thrilled is an understatement, because anyone loves being taken care of when they are sick.  But now, after all these years, I truly understand the “chicken noodle soup while sick” situation.

The broth.

It is so chockfull of vitamins and minerals- so much goodness.  It is good for joints, for your immune system, for your gut.  Homemade bone broth is truly the golden nectar of the Gods.  And once you have soup made with it, the stuff in the can or in the box at the grocery store pales in comparison.  I will sometimes have a hot cup of broth in the mornings, especially during the winter, if a scratchy throat presents itself.

So, here is my recipe for homemade chicken bone broth.

You will need:

-1 chicken carcass – I leave the neck attached, but if your is separated, go ahead and put that in the mix as well.
– any vegetables you want to throw in – I like to use carrots, celery, and onions.  No need to peel anything.  Simply wash and toss in.  All of those outer layers have goodness, too.
– garlic, about 4- 6 cloves
– chicken feet – not necessary, but a great addition.  If you buy your chicken from a local farmer, or go to a farmer’s market, there is a good chance they will have feet to sell you.
– herbs of choice – I usually just add thyme
– a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.  This aids in pulling the goodness out of the bones.
– filtered water

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Optional first step – If you do use chicken feet, they need to be prepped.   Our hens are free range, which means their feet get gross. The best option is to remove the skin.  So, we do a quick ten minute simmer on the stove to clean them and and loosen the skin so it can be peeled.  Place your chicken feet in a small pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes.  During this time, get a bowl of ice water ready.  At the ten minute mark, remove the feet and blanch them in the cold water.  Then, once cooled, peel the skin.  It should come off fairly easily.  Below, another pic of feet now peeled and vegetables ready to go into the pot.

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I know, the feet…gross, right?  But it’s SO good.

Now, we put all of it in a large stockpot or 6-qt slow cooker.  I prefer the slow cooker – this way, you can put everything in at night after you eat, set it on low, and let it go for the 24 hours it should have for maximum bone broth goodness.

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Now fill the pot roughly two inches below the top with water, put the lid on, turn on to low, and let go until the next evening.  Note:  Make sure to fill the pot as much as you can.  As the cooking progresses, some of the water will evaporate, so you want to make sure you have as much as possible in the pot.

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And that’s it until 24 hours later.

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Pull out a large bowl and scoop out the large pieces of veggies with tongs and a slotted spoon for small pieces.  (If you don’t currently compost, now is the perfect time to start!  These veggies are a perfect way to begin…maybe that should be a future post?)

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Then, I use my 2-cup measuring cup with a spout to pour the broth, through a sieve, into a large mason jar.

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And there you have it.  Delicious bone broth.

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So good.

I usually keep one large jar in the fridge for the aforementioned morning hot mugs or if I plan to make soup within the next couple of days.  Otherwise, I buy freezer quart bags, fill them with 1 cup of broth, lay the filled bags out on a cookie tray so they lie flat, then stick in the freezer for a day.  This way, they freeze evenly and thaw easily.  Then remove from the cookie sheet and keep in your freezer to store for future use.  Side note:  when pulling these bags out of the freezer to thaw, it’s always good to place the bags in a bowl.  Occasionally, a bag will pop a small hole and once thawed, your broth will be a puddle on your counter top.

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And there it is!  And here is to all of the delicious broth and chicken noodle soup in your future!