Mother Earth News Fair

Today, we are off on an adventure.

We are road-tripping to Belton, Texas for the Mother Earth News Fair!

I am super excited that is so close (close is relative in Texas).

It almost seems epiphanous in light of the changes I am working on: zero-waste, a vegetable garden, healthier eating, a more minimalist lifestyle…

…trying to be more comfortable with who I am and working to worry less about what others think and more about being true to what I believe

Plus, a road trip!

But no junk food.

That’ll be a challenge.

Challenge is good…

Peace.

The Work of My Hands

“The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs’. They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future.  But real life takes place in the here and now”  – Henri Nouwen

 

I wanted to put in a garden this year.  I had hoped for a greenhouse.  I’d planned on building numerous raised beds and filling them with the compost I was making and then planting seeds.  I’d intended to have all my existing beds weeded and dug and ready for spring.

There is no greenhouse.  Two raised beds are built but not filled with soil.  They lean against the side of the house. There are weeds in my garden beds.

I ought to have gotten more done.  If I’d gotten these things accomplished, I would be ready for the garden that I had hoped for and envisioned…

But now, today, I have a choice.  I can work with what I have here and now and choose to place my seeds into soil…

or leave the seeds

in their packages

in the shoe box

on the shelf

in the cabinet

in the dining room

in the dark

where they will surely not sprout and grow.

How many other aspects of my life does this same thought process apply to?

Brushes not dipped into paint create nothing.

Blog posts not written can’t be read.

Cards not created and mailed can’t be received.

Art cards not imagined, created and shared can’t be found.

How often does my fear of imperfection or failure or rejection keep me from trying?

I have all the “seeds” I need both literally and figuratively…

seeds and soil and canvases and paint and ideas…

I also have fear and anxiety and doubts…

It is my choice to make…

Dwell on the mistakes and rejections of the past?

Anticipate with fear and anxiety the future?

Or do the work of my hands in the here and now with the potential to bring a little hope and beauty and light into the world?

Today I choose to believe in the potential of the seed to sprout and take root and grow and bless the world.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Goodbye isn’t Simple (and probably should be)

I said goodbye to my little earthworm friends today.  For those of you who are new to my blog you can read about them here:

https://faithacrestudio.com/2015/05/21/lets-do-this/

or for the short version – I had an earthworm farm.

When we started working on the kitchen, the worm bucket moved to the living room.  Today, as I tripped over it (again), it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember feeding them recently.  Please don’t report me to the SPCA…they are fine.  Quite content as far as I can tell – busily breaking down newspaper, eating worm slaw, pooping castings and thinking earthworm thoughts (whatever those might be).

My thought process went something like this:

  • I have earthworms in my living room.
  • I’m okay with that.
  • But, I’m forgetting to feed them regularly.
  • I don’t have a garden.
  • I’d like to have a garden.
  • If I did have a garden, it would be rotting from all the rain.  And the drought will return like normal eventually.
  • This is not the year that I’m going to garden.  It’s too late to plant and the beds aren’t ready.  Realistically, gardening is not a good idea this year.
  • Why do I have earthworms then?
  • They were great to have last year when our home school group planted a butterfly garden at the library.  They enriched the beds and the kids thought they were fun (and educational).  That was good.
  • They are in the living room and I am tripping on them.
  • I really enjoyed them and even wrote a post about them.
  • Hmmm.  “Enjoyed”  I didn’t say I enjoy them.  I used the past tense.  Maybe it’s time to let them go.
  • The chickens would enjoy some for lunch.
  • Ewww.  That would be cruel. Well, not really – the whole cycle of life thing.  I could set them free where the chickens would have to hunt them down.  Give the worms a fighting (or digging) chance.
  • Maybe I should just move them to the corner until I make a decision.
  • Having earthworms was fun.
  • Maybe I should make a decision.
  • I could always get more earthworms if I let them go and realize that I’ve given away an important piece of my life.
  • They aren’t really gone if I set them free.  Earthworms deserve to be free out in the big wide world.
  • Unless they get eaten by chickens.
  • “Normal” people don’t have this much trouble making a freakin’ decision.
  • “Normal” people probably don’t have earthworms in their living room.
  • What is normal anyway?
  • Set the earthworms free, already.
  • Sigh.  Sometimes I can be a real idiot.  All this for a bucket of earthworms.  Why do I make life so hard?

This type of conversation happens more often than I’m comfortable with sharing.  I’m sharing anyway (obviously).  I suspect that I’m not the only one with this problem.

For the record, I feel relieved that the earthworm bucket is no longer in the living room.  I don’t think it was the earthworms that I was having trouble letting go of.  If we want to get all psychological about it, I’m probably having trouble letting go of what the earthworms represented for me…

A bountiful garden that nourished my family.  A beautiful and orderly vegetable patch that was bursting with produce thriving on hand-made trellises.  Not a weed in sight.  Organic of course.

Lush flowering plants growing in abundance in the front yard.  The envy of all the neighbors as they cruise our cul-de-sac and see the “Yard of the Month” sign.

Stop!  That sounds like an issue of Country Living magazine.  Perhaps I’m being unrealistic – say it isn’t so!

That’s a lot to expect from a bucket of earthworms.  They are better off now that I set them free!  How could they live up to those expectations?

Holy crap!  How can I live up to those expectations?

The only place that grass will grow in my yard is in the flower bed.  You can’t argue with Bermuda grass – it grows where it wants and can’t be stopped.  It likes my flower bed.  I quit arguing with it years ago.   I have weeds and fire ants and some junk that I’m working on getting rid of.  With all the rain we’ve had, we’re barely keeping the grass mowed.

Gardens are a dream – a good dream, but a dream nonetheless.  It will happen eventually, but in a more realistic version.  I’m working on it.

But first things first.  I decluttered the earthworms.   I made a decision.

One step at a time….

 

 

 

 

Progress!

Being normal is hard work –  today it’s not the “holding it all together” kind of work, but actual physical labor.

I’m definitely feeling better and have been toiling in the great outdoors.  Our yard/land is not the worst looking in the neighborhood, but it’s not the best either.  I’m not trying to win “yard of the month”, but I definitely have improvement written in on my list.

When we moved our home in we didn’t have them clear the whole lot.  I thought I would prefer a slightly natural look.  Slightly natural around here quickly turns into overgrown and a fire hazard.  We’ve had a really wet spring, but most years we have to be wary of wildfires.  I’m hoping to eventually get all the cedars and cactus cleared off and our beautiful oaks trimmed up.  That takes more money, skill, and effort than I’m capable of so right now I’m working on mowing down the tall grass, shrubs and grape vines.  Yesterday we hauled off the last of the big scrap metal pile and earned $50 dollars.  The big mess on the side of the house is gone.  I mowed the weeds down today and burned a huge pile of debris.

So much progress – and a lot more to do.  But, it already looks so much better.

The chicks have been moved outdoors so all twelve are scratching around and being happy chickens.  The oldest ones are transitioning to scratch grain instead of starter feed.  We are supplementing with kitchen and yard scraps.  The coop is right next to the compost piles and garden so we have a great little eco-system going.  A great combination of clippings, scraps, food waste, manure and egg production.  Well, no actual eggs yet, but we’re getting there!

Yard work this morning.  Errands with my daughter this afternoon and a bit of de-cluttering thrown in for good measure.

One of my readers suggested that there might be a bit of fear involved in my change plan and strategy.  Fear of what change might bring and look like in my life.  I have definitely been giving that some thought and am including it in my future plans for decluttering and simplifying.

I do struggle with change a lot.  I’m going to start thinking through what might change for the better if I get rid of something…for example, dishes.  We have a lot of guest/family we share meals with and that’s definitely important to me, but the dirty dishes are always out of control around here.  That doesn’t promote simplicity at all when you can’t easily prepare a healthy meal because of the mess.

What would it look like to only have the dishes we need for the standard number of folks around the table – 5 family almost always here and 4 sometimes family here.  9 plates, bowls, etc.  Any folks over that number and we switch to paper.  I know it’s not environmentally friendly, but it might be an equitable trade-off for right now.  The paper plates would be stored seperately and we would encourage each other to wash a dish when you need one.  A no-brainer, I know, but I seem to be challenged when it comes to the obvious stuff.

I think it all comes down to peeling off layers of belongings.  The change is slow, but I just gotta keep trying.  One day it seems as if I’ve totally gotten rid of everything I can in an area. Then a bit later I  re-evaluate and assess and clear out some more.

Small steps equal progress towards the home and life I hope for…

Let’s Do This!

I don’t normally do two posts in a day, but I am so excited!

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was reading a blog about gardening.  I can’t remember which one (but that’s not really important).  There was an article about worm composting.

Yep, worms

I already compost and have two bins:  a fast one and a slow one.  IMAG0606

The fast one is a fancy bin actually designed for composting and has vents and a lid and everything.  I fill it in the proper proportions – layering wet and dry stuff the way you are supposed to.

The other one is a piece of leftover fencing.  In that one, I throw everything else.  Weeds, paper, kitchen stuff, yard debris, whatever.

It’s pretty dry here – until the last couple of months we’ve been in a drought – so composting is a challenge.  It’s hard to keep things wet enough and then there’s the fire ants.

When I came across the idea of worm composting or vermicomposting, I was interested.  I kind of just like earthworms.

I won’t share the instructions because they are all over the internet.  I pretty much followed the general idea.  I didn’t buy the exact worms that you are supposed to use because they can be pricey for my current budget (what budget?)  I just bought a distant cousin (fishing worms from Wal-Mart).  IMAG0604 (1)IMAG0599

 IMAG0602

And it’s working!   I now have several generations of earthworms.  Not only are they still alive…they are reproducing.  The top bucket is full enough that I need to add a third.

Some ideas don’t work.  But sometimes they do and that makes the trying worthwhile.

I don’t anticipate that I’ll be living off the land anytime soon…pretty sure that I don’t ever want to labor that hard…but it’s fun to plant a seed and grow something that you can eat.

Or to buy six worms and end up with lots of worm babies and awesome worm poop for the garden!

Muddying Up the Water

When I started documenting my personal journey towards a more intentional, simple and peaceful life on this blog, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go.

I honestly had no idea what this blog might have to do with the journey.  I felt a need to reach out in community and to find some like-minded individuals who might journey with me.  I didn’t really have any expectations that anyone would “like” what I had to share or that anyone would “follow” me.

In fact, I thought quite the opposite – I couldn’t fathom that anyone would be interested in what I had to say.  But I was afraid to start a blog, and facing fear was my challenge at the time…so I wrote.  Some folks like what I have to say.  Some have even chosen to  hit “follow”.  And I am grateful for the affirmation.  I’ve gone to every blog and “met” the writer.  I’m struck by the fact, that on the surface, many of us don’t seem to have much in common at all…not age, occupation, country, gender…nothing that commonly brings folks together.

But, we do have something important in common.  We are all searchers and seekers with a belief that things can be better – and a desire to make it so.  We are different and the same.

I had believed, in the beginning, that this blog would find a focus and generally tend towards one topic more than any others. That has not been the case.  It reflects all the interests (and distractions) that make up my life.

I am deliberately not traveling down a straight highway for this journey.  I want to walk off the beaten path and follow rabbit trails along the way.  I want to believe that I am not too old to give up on dreams and aspirations.  I want to continue to learn new things and make choices that bring me happiness and peace.  I anticipate that I will make mistakes and more than a few choices that are not the right fit.  I will become discouraged and disheartened.

And I will find joy and discover that I am capable of accomplishing things beyond what I expected.

That being said, many of the things I need to accomplish along the way are mundane, difficult and challenging.  Not fun at all.

Sometimes solving one problem worsens another.  It muddies the water.  It makes it difficult to see that any progress is being made at all.  It’s hard to remember to take a step back and regain perspective.  To remember to focus on the whole journey and not just one portion of it.  Sometimes I get lost or hit an unmovable obstacle and have to turn around and retrace my steps to find a new way – a way that takes me towards the goal.  Sometimes it feels like I’m going the wrong direction entirely.

I’ve decided to create a plan – a sort of map that will help guide my journey.   Sort of like a business plan, but not so boring.  It will have to include pictures and colors and lists.   Maybe a journal or a big canvas to hang on the wall.  Just something to help when I can’t see clearly.  A plan. In writing.  That’s the next step.  It probably should have been the first step, but….

I’ve brainstormed of list of things that need to be accomplished and/or that I want to explore during the next days, weeks, months, years…  Remember, I’m brainstorming here!  And, not in any particular order:

  • Get out of debt and get our financial status on solid footing
  • Continue de-cluttering until our home “feels right” and then maintain
  • Continually evaluate our living space and whether it’s meeting our needs (size, location, etc.)
  • Homeschooling my last kiddo and preparing her for life
  • Explore gardening and self-sufficient living
  • Art, art and more art – creating, sharing, exhibiting and selling????
  • Improving and maintaining my health
  • Contributing to making the world a better place
  • Staying connected with family and friends
  • Having more fun
  • Work at being at peace with who I am and who I can become
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Letting go of fear

Not a complete list – I’m sure I’ll think of more.

A pause in the journey to let the muddied water settle.  Then to continue on – one step at a time.