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“I champion the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the simple and the persecuted. I maintain that whosoever benefits or hurts a man benefits or hurts the whole species. I sought my liberty and the liberty of all, my happiness and the happiness of all. I wanted a roof for every family, bread for every mouth, education for every heart, light for every intellect. I am convinced that human history has not yet begun, that we find ourselves in the last period of the prehistoric. I see with the eyes of my soul how the sky is diffused with the rays of the new millennium.” – Bartolomeo Vanzetti (Anarchist suspected in murder and robbery along with another – Nicola Sacco. Both were convicted in one of the most controversial trials in the United States and executed in 1927.)

It is that simple.  When I left blogging here more than a year ago to pursue more work outside of my home, I was working under misconceived notions.  I was thinking that I could earn money and contribute to our family income.  I was thinking that it would help John have to work less hours outside of the home.  I was thinking that extra money would bring us things we needed and deserve.  I’d be lying to if I didn’t say that I had started feeling stifled at home because of various aspects of my personality.

What I know now is that it was a wasted effort.  I was leaving behind pursuits that would do so much to benefit my community and my family, in order to spend more time social networking, mailing letters, building websites, and writing newsletters for Birth True.  All of that time I spent, countless hours, with little to no return.  The clients I find are still typically word of mouth.  My amount of actual paying work did not increase.  The clients that were meant to find me still would have without those advertising efforts.  It is sad that we have to learn some things in ways that make us sacrifice so much.

Time… time that I’ll never get back with my girls.  Sure, I still homeschooled.  I still took them to activities.  There just wasn’t time for much else.  We weren’t outdoors as much.  I was frustrated more.  They played and I didn’t pay attention as often to where their minds were at.  Now, I have a 7 and 4 1/2 year old who need me just a little less.  It is precious – time.

But, it is ok.  I’ve learned lessons the hard way before and I have found that it is most often those lessons that produce the greatest results in us.  What I know now is that there is a term for what John and I set out to do when we moved back home.  Our mindset then was fresh, adventurous, and yet there were other couples all over the place doing the same thing for good reason.  It is radical homemaking.

I read two articles recently that grabbed my attention.  I was feeling called back to tradition, and into something new altogether at the same time.  Coming across those articles in the same period of time was no accident.  It was Creator sending a clear message to me.

The first article was by Charles Eisenstein called “Don’t Should on Us” in the magazine Pathways to Family Wellness.  I immediately related it to my birth advocacy and wrote about it on Birth True Blog.  Eisenstein write that our “selfish” interests, or what I took to mean our instinct to self preserve and thrive, directs us in three ways – choices that are simple, close to nature, and close to community.

The second article was by Shannon Hayes in Taproot Magazine and was called  “To Retreat or Engage”.  She explained how civic engagement happened within our duties in the home.  That by living the life we were making a huge impact.  Her article kicked the switch in my soul.  I knew exactly what Creator was calling me to do, and for once so many pieces of the last year fit perfectly in this vision.  So, I bought her book Radical Homemakers and am still reading it, devouring every word.

Hayes writes in Radical Homemakers that radical homemakers tend to be on a 3-step path:

  1. Renouncing
  2. Reclaiming
  3. Rebuilding

I am now re-entering the renouncing stage and I will move quickly I imagine into reclaiming and then back to rebuilding.

Entering the rebuilding phase did not preclude a return to the other phases.  The myriad stages of life are forever presenting new challenges that require everyone to occasionally retreat from the public sphere to regain skills and life balance and to critically evaluate the societal givens that they may have to consider at that time. – Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers

So, what am I renouncing this time.  Broader American consumerist culture had held a veil over my eyes.  I am renouncing my participation in it with renewed fervor.  I am not a contestant in the rat race and I am returning to the choice not to be.  Does that mean that I don’t value my work with women and babies?  Absolutely not!  I value it more than ever.  I’m just trusting that as I am needed I will be called upon.  I’ve also decided to take barter as a method of payment for my time and services.  Money doesn’t have to change hands for my work to be valued, and not only that, but it also makes my services accessible to most if not all those who are interested.  I’m stepping more fully into my place in my community, while also offering my services across the globe through the internet.

This whole thing culminated with my watching the film Sacco & Vanzetti the other night on Netflix.  Hearing the quote from Vanzetti that I began this post with, filled my heart.  We are missing so much in our society.  Happiness is not found in consumerism, materialism, or corporate manipulation of the people.  We are puppets as long as we participate.  We are leaving the prehistoric behind out of necessity.  A new paradigm for living is emerging.

I am being called back into my home, into tradition, to learn new skills, to be with my family, to be fully present for my community both locally and globally.  I’m so excited to continue to share this journey here.  These new plans I have.  I revamped the Birth True site today to reflect some of this new stuff.  Now, I’m going to put my efforts where it will have the most impact.

And… just for the brightest of reading experiences.  Guess who sits up on her own at 5 months?!  Gweneth Lenore.  Gotta love a clothes basket for safe supervised sitting fun!

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At Confluence Academy this week, we are taking a break from the routine studies to delve into some holiday fun.  The way we celebrate the Christmas season in the US has always been counter intuitive to me.  I miss the days of the winter spiral that we had in Louisville when we attended Parent/Child classes at the Waldorf School.  St. Nicholas and St. Lucia came by for a visit to our little homey classroom.  It was so cozy and introspective.

The rush and fuss of the holiday season often leaves me in tears.  Too much stress involved.  I don’t like feeling pulled and tugged.  Expectations are high.  We want to see all of our family, but it is hard to go to at least 3 different places in the course of 2 days.  That doesn’t include our own home.  There are always too many presents and I end up feeling more frustrated and guilty than blessed because we just can’t reciprocate and our space here is limited for bringing in more things for the girls.  It is my problem and not appropriate at all.  We are abundantly blessed.  It is the consumerism and the pressure that makes me feel like my head is a spinning top and my guts made of mush.  I don’t connect with this type of celebration at all.  I honestly do not think Jesus, Mother Nature, or St. Nicholas are bothered in the least by my rejection of it, because when they espoused this season they had a totally different thing in mind. I lackadaisically drift in and out of our families’ homes trying to keep an even keel.

The darkness and soft lights… the cold air… the gray blue sky… it makes me want to retreat.  I want to read books, drink warm drinks, eat hearty food, and make traditions with my daughters.  I want to breathe into the Truth of who we are – beings in the image of God, never lacking.

So, this week we are going to explore in our schooling things that are typically lost to us as we scramble to buy gifts, get to every expected location, and zip through it all barely conscious of why we are doing this in the first place.  We are going to look at the great stories, art, and timelessness of the season.

Tuesday, we explored The Nutcracker with this FREE unit.  We listened to an adaptation of the story on Story Nory, watched the ballet on YouTube, drew a nutcracker (see Deladis’s below), and read about Tchaikovsky.  We talked about composers and choreographers.  It was a good time.  Deladis has been humming the music since.

nutcracker

We discovered the story of the real Santa Claus – St. Nicholas – on a lovely website – St. Nicholas Center.  We read several of the stories.  Our favorite was – And Now We Call Him Santa Claus by Kay Tutt.  We did an drawing of St. Nick as well (again… Deladis’s is below).  Then, we went on a nature walk to gather decorations for the house – moss, evergreen twigs, rocks, seed puffs, and wood.  Tonight, we’ll eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate.

st.nick

We haven’t gotten around to putting up a tree this year with all the running around like chickens with no heads.  Sunday night, we decided not to put up one at all.  There isn’t the space right now, and I think we are going to go in a totally different direction with our decorating.  We are getting real, simple, light.  I think the fake tree will be going away beginning this season.

I think it is just right.

Our nativity set off with natural decor... moss, rocks, and wood chips.

Our nativity set off with natural decor… moss, rocks, and wood chips.

Our vine wreath decorated with evergreen twigs, red paper, scrub grass puffs, and old artificial flowers.

Our vine wreath decorated with evergreen twigs, red paper, scrub grass puffs, and old artificial flowers. 

We loved our time together.  I can’t believe it was 60 degrees out on Wednesday and today – Winter Solstice – it is snowing.

Checking out Eastern Hemlock twigs.

Checking out Eastern Hemlock twigs.

Thursday, we learned how to care for hermit crabs, since the girls will be getting one from us for Christmas.  They danced a Christmas performance at the area nursing home in the evening.  Today, we are learning about Winter Solstice.  Then… a much needed break from school.

Later, we’ll put up our stockings.  I’m going to read and do some more writing.  We are going inward.  Winter Solstice is drawing us inward with its snow and sleepy skies.

Maybe if I make a few reasonable adjustments, I’ll be able to enjoy my first new pair of tennis shoes in six years that I know my mother has under her tree.  I know I can manage. 🙂

“This is messy work. We cannot simply attend a meeting, carry a sign at a march, have our name listed in the minutes, make one or two follow-up phone calls, then give ourselves a pat on the back. Our efforts require experimentation, failure, learning curves, self-criticism, and the constant examination of new ideas. We cannot compartmentalize a little “civic corner” of our lives; rather, we have to examine every day how each of our actions can build a better, more nurturing society for everyone. And for the time being, until this new, life-serving economy is more fully developed, it may continue to go unnoticed, and it may receive a certain lack of respect. But true civic engagement is not about taking credit for a job well done. It is about making the world better for the next generation in an enduring way that honors our deepest beliefs and greatest hopes.” – Shannon Hayes (author of Radical Homemakers)

     This is why I have come back to blogging.  I’ve been away from here for more than a year now.  In that time, I have tried to grow my birthing business locally.  I have supported my husband in opening his own tattoo shop.  I have grown and given birth to another daughter (HBA2C) and gotten her through her first 4 months.  I have been schooling my oldest -Deladis – through 2nd grade.  I have been taking classes with Stephanie Dawn to become a Sacred Birth counselor.  Aside from homeschooling and giving birth, I have done a lot of things that were focused on growing us from outside of our home.  Growing us into a better financial stability.  I dared to dream of us living this life of radical separation from what is considered “mainstream” all the while having the income to support us repairing and expanding the cabin, getting a newer vehicle, affording health insurance for John and myself, and travelling with our girls.  I also still see myself as being able to contribute to the bettering of my community, region, state, and country through various efforts.
     It isn’t that I shouldn’t continue to dream of us having the income to do those things, or me the ability to be out in my community to make a difference.  Some of those things have to be done as my girls will continue to grow up and John and I will continue to grow older.  The problem comes with my patience.  I thought that if I worked super duper hard, those things would come.  The fact is, that working hard isn’t always the key to financial gain or even satisfaction.  I’ve found myself disappointed, disconnected (despite Facebook time – LOL), and wondering what all the effort is about.
     While I have made some pocket change, I haven’t contributed enough to our income to really matter all that much.  I enjoy my work so very much, and I feel like it is important work.  I know I am going to keep working when opportunities do arise, but what I know now is that those opportunities have to be ones that aren’t a strain to my efforts with my girls and something that consistently takes away time I should spend with my husband.  We chose to take a cut in income when we had Deladis.  Then, after Ivy was born, we chose to move home.  Both of those decisions were made because we felt that my being home was more important than having a lower middle class income and we felt we could more fully express ourselves and parent our children living back where we both began – southeastern, Kentucky.
   So, what I realize now is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, and that statement will never stop being cliche.  I won’t quit dreaming of those things that took my focus more to business and social networking, it is just that the path should be revised.  I should be patient.

Witch: And you, my dear, what an unexpected pleasure. It’s so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness.
Dorothy: What are you gonna do with my dog? Give him back to me.
Witch: All in good time, my little pretty. All in good time.
Dorothy: Oh please give me back my dog.
Witch: Certainly, certainly, when you give me those slippers.
Dorothy: But the Good Witch of the North told me not to.
Witch: Very well. (To her winged-monkey captain) Throw that basket in the river and drown him.
Dorothy: No, no. Here, you can have your old slippers but give me back Toto.
Witch: That’s a good little girl. I knew you’d see reason.

– The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I’ve seen reason.  But, as we all know, the witch loses in the end and so will frustration.  My work here at home with these girls is radical world change in the making.  Creating a lifestyle that presses boundaries, breaks walls, and reinvents the common experience, that is being the change.  Every day I am being the change.  Some days are better than others.  But, each day we should strive for balance.  Creator didn’t lead me down this path for naught.  What I have recognized is that each and every step is important, and it isn’t always going to be as I envision, nor will it always be in my time frame.  It isn’t going to look the same for me as it will others.  Each day is new and has its own work.  I have life and I have it abundantly.  I’m never left without, and to struggle to gain something I haven’t lost in the first place is pointless.

     So, I’m trading in the pointless for the things that matter.  I’m going back to our original vision, while bringing my work full circle into that vision.  There are women and families out there that can use my services.  They will find me and it will work out in amazing ways.  I can do what I so much enjoy – educating and supporting.  I don’t need to scroll down Facebook to socialize.  I can blog, and get to know people as I had done before here.  I can share our experience in full and read about the amazing things others are doing without getting disgusted at the pettiness.  (I’m not putting down Facebook.  Just looking to re-examine the overuse and wrong use of it.)  I can do what I enjoy so much – writing.  I’m going to play with my new baby who somehow is almost 5 months old already.  I’m going to listen to Deladis read and read to all three of them.  We are going to hike.  I’m going to cook good food.  I can do what I enjoy so much – being a wife and mother.  There will be yoga, and reading, decluttering, and music.  I can do what I know I will enjoy so much – make my home and body a sacred space.  I can.

Just wanted to stop in and say I’m back and will be blogging here regularly again.  My hiatus was important and very productive.  Please meet our newest daughter – Gweneth Lenore.  She was born here in the cabin in July.  These photos were taken by Trista Hickerson.  I don’t know how many of the folks who used to read here will see this, but I’m excited to be starting anew.  I have so much to write about and I’m looking forward to sharing and talking here with folks again.  If you are interested in reading my latest work you can find it here. http://www.dailyyonder.com/designing-post-coal-economy/2012/11/26/5508 🙂

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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