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This morning after three days of not leaving the cabin, we welcomed a guest for breakfast. He came to get tattooed by John and to experience our mountain music all the way from Sweden. We have the pleasure of hosting him on the holler for a few days! Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to clean myself or the house in these days, I got over my initial embarrassment and hosted him at our table. It was pretty awesome to get a firsthand account of a country we rarely hear of here in the US, or at least Kentucky. I had so many questions and we conversed quite a bit about what would be the typical curiosities – daily life, education, religion, politics, etc… Our conversation confirmed a lot of what I suspected and taught me a lot as well. He was so respectful and personable. I utterly enjoyed having him here with us. I can say, if there is anything I want to do and have yet done in this life, it is to host more people at my table and to see more of our world. I want to have more conversations like the one I had this morning. I want to see what is past the Mississippi. What is beyond Huntsville, Alabama. What lies above Ohio. I want to see Mexico. Hang out in Canada, and ultimately cross the pond.
There is so much more to understand about the realities of a human existence. Of what works and does not work. I think if we are to make opportunities and a brighter reality for our children, we have so much to learn. The American way isn’t the end all to be all for sure. I mean we can’t even agree on what the American way is anymore. Congress is having too many my way or the highway arguments. Honestly, our politics are gross to me right now. Taking what works from respectably functioning countries and combining those things would be a great way to approach setting up a society.
Did you know that Sweden is kind of like Alaska right now? 1 hour of daylight! Imagine that!
The only thing I won’t be taking with me when I pass on are my children. They will have their own time to leave the planet. So, they are my work – my lasting contribution. I have to keep reminding myself of this because if I don’t I easily get caught up in trying to accomplish things. I just add more and more to my plate when I should continue to remove things from it. What Creator has meant for me to do will always find me. It is so easy to waste time on meaningless things!
Today, I had a firsthand account of one man’s experience in Sweden. An hour’s long conversation gave me a little insight. It is such a rare opportunity. This blog is the firsthand account of one mountain mother’s life in rural Kentucky. Thanks for spending your time with me. Those who write as well, thank you for sharing. Hopefully, we can continue to learn from each other and form a consciousness of gratitude, interdependence, and blessing.
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 🙂
So, I’m going to do it. I’m going to document this time in my life right here. As strange as it may be, I think it will be more beneficial than detrimental. I’m a pretty upfront kind of gal. I’ll answer pretty much any question I’m asked, but lately you just don’t know who is doing the asking – or should I say reading. Anyway, I have decide not to care, and go on with it. You hear about employers trolling Facebook to get a sense of who you are, checking your credit score, and then deciding – nope they’re all sorts of crazy. Honestly, we all have our quirks, hangups, and bad habits. We are human.
In trying to figure out the whys of these new feelings I’m having, I am looking into what I know to be right with things. Maybe, this will help me know where not to look. Actually, I’m a step ahead of this post, but I’m starting here. What do I still feel is right with life?
- I love being a wife and mother. I feel guilty about the quality of which I am doing this job lately, but I know it is a job I was meant to do.
- I believe we were right to come home to the mountains. I get lonely, and I miss my sister and best friend (Ariana) so much. But, there is not another right place for my family right now. Exciting things are and will continue to happen here, and the Haywoods were meant to be a part of it.
- I am glad I started working. I love my job, and all the facets that it has come to fruition in. This is another aspect that I can often come to question, but in the long run, I think I’m one of those women who needs to work.
- I’m excited about our new family business. That I don’t question at all. 🙂
- I still believe that God works in mysterious ways, and I am right in admitting that I ain’t the best in working through the difficult questions.
That is where I am. That is what we’ll keep. The rest is up to a revamping. It’s almost exciting, though working on self stuff is always the hardest work. Getting motivated is the first obstacle to tackle.
I vaguely remember being aware of this show “thirtysomething” that ran from 1987-1991 as a kid.
I’d love to be able to watch it now. All my life, I thought that when I reached my thirties I would have become comfortable in my skin, and be able to just live through the ups and downs without worrying about trying to discover myself. Almost 3 years into my thirties, I have found that this is not the truth. In fact, I sometimes feel as if I’ve lost bits of myself that were/are really, really important.
It seems like Oprah or somebody said that 50 is the new 30. I sure hope I don’t have nearly 20 more years before I’m settled in who I am and am supposed to be in this world. Lord help me if that’s true.
I haven’t been writing here much because, honestly, so much has changed. I don’t want to disappoint my readership. There is no garden to report about. No exciting adventures for the summer. I haven’t been hiking this year. It’s simply the daily grind, and I’m struggling even with that. I’m searching. I’m in search party mode. Flashlights out. Calling… calling a name with no answer… not giving up. I won’t sleep until I’m found.
I am very much enjoying my work and the folks I’m working with. It is a light in this time, and I think its important work. I’m pretty dedicated to it. John is opening a tattoo parlor and fine art gallery on Main St. in Whitesburg beginning tomorrow! That’s exciting.
Otherwise… everything is up in the air. I’m wondering when I am able to break the surface and reach that air, who I will be. I’m wondering if I will be brave enough to write about it here.
2010 proved to be a very trying year for us. I was almost glad to see it go. 2011 has already proved to bring with it great change. Not only in our lifestyle and goals, but for me – my very being. The end of 2010 had us reconsidering everything. Our bank account was hacked and we lost all our money. Ivy got really sick, and we found out we had E.Coli in our drinking water and coliforms in our well water. Ivy is still dealing with stomach issues because of that. I am taking the girls to my mother’s or John’s mother’s for their baths, and we are drinking store bought water now. We re-evaluated our money making efforts, and had made a plan when the Lord blessed us both with new more regular jobs! Mine being one I can do mostly from home.
It has been really hard promoting my birth work in that it takes great, constant effort. I get tired of the promoting part. I love the work, and am working on some decisions to make things a bit more clear for me goals wise. I have been so absorbed in getting my name out there, that I didn’t expect at all getting my first two (what I would consider larger scale) publications back to back earlier this year! It was an awesome surprise. It blessed my heart immensely.
So, what I am trying to say is… it is a time of cleaning out. Before I briefly ended the blog last summer, I had began a post called Wake Up and Prioritize. I don’t think I ever really did that then, and I forgot that realization all together, making summer a struggle for me. I’ve come back around now, and I think I’m at a place where I can actually act on that realization.
I’m looking at things with fresh eyes. Doing a lot of reading of some good philosophical and spiritual texts. I am learning what isn’t serving me or my family. Sometimes it is hard to let go of activities that you have pursued with great momentum. When I left the blog, I thought I’d spend less time on the computer – I spent more. It was mostly researching for my work and trying online advertising like – Facebook. Since being more active on Facebook, I have had trouble with mental chatter (though I know Facebook isn’t the only reason, and probably not the biggest). It’s kind of like the news feed on Facebook, except through my mind and my own thoughts (well, that’s arguable too… 🙂 ). I don’t know really how well being on Facebook has benefited me personally – business wise maybe somewhat, though I do value some of the business things/connections I do/have there greatly. A Facebook friend shared this link not too long ago – 30 Day Facebook Fast. I just read it today, and he makes some really, really good points. I had been thinking of pulling back before I read this, but I’m pretty sure I will now from my personal page. I will keep up with my business page and another responsibility, and see what changes. Then, I’ll look closer at any benefits having a regular business presence there has, and go from there.
I’m looking at this because balancing homelife (mothering, housekeeping, homesteading, and homeschooling) with a career life (birth business, advocacy, and writing) is hard. It is hard to prioritize those things. On one hand, you want to say homelife always comes first. On the other, if I don’t work very hard at the career life we might get wiped out again financially and with no health insurance, and some debt, that is not something that you easily recover from. Plus, I do like my “career” life. I think my work is important work. Something that brings fulfillment and enjoyment. That’s what I’ve always said is important when thinking about what you will do as a job the rest of your life. Not, how much money you can make. Then, my children will only be children once. My biggest responsibility is to them, their well-being (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) and their livelihood. I love them, and they deserve the best of me. I then come to the answer – a perfect balance.
Our lifestyle is a bit unique, but it fits John and I. We’ve never “conformed” all that well, and finding our place and what we can contribute has been a journey we’ve enjoyed. I’m thankful that I still live a life that leaves room to explore, begin new things, to change. I’m not stuck in any place.
So, on top of reconsidering the benefits of Facebook, I’ve been doing other things. Once again, cleaning out the cabin – except this time in a more drastic way. If we haven’t used it in a few years, or if it isn’t an heirloom – it’s out. Not selling, not trying to find homes for things, but just sending them away to a place where if someone needs them they can be obtained for free. I’m also writing out daily/weekly goals. Reading the Bible in a year. Recommiting to my role as wife and mother, and looking at what I hope for my birth work with self respect, needs of women, and the needs of my community in mind. For my work, that might mean changes in form or approach. For my mothering that means working hard to be fully present in the now. I’m feeling relieved. I think that is why I came back here. This is a thoughtful place.
I’ve been away from here for awhile with my regular posts, and I am coming back now for the final time – indefinitely. It is time for me to destress and focus on the things in life that make me feel peaceful and truly happy. For the most part, being on the computer isn’t one of them. I’m prioritizing and right now, I’ve idenitified some ways to cut back without cutting anything I enjoy out. It’s really important that I take it seriously. My computer time is limited to 1 1/2 hours a day, which is more than enough to keep up with online advertising for my birth work, researching homeschooling for the girls, and typing the stories and articles that will be the focus of my writing for awhile. I’ve come to a point where I feel better expressing myself through my more formal writing – my short stories, my novels, and I’m branching out into essay and articles, but all for publications. I don’t know how successful I will be at it, but I have hope. I love doing it. I’m feeling good about being less personally an open book, and more creatively one.
I may come back to blogging one day about our lives, but I think it will be in a more professional way. Maybe a more journalistic way. Doing the radio piece made me realize I really enjoy documentary storytelling. I’m going to be working on some more stories for the Community Correspondence Core, hopefully. I will continue blogging on my birth blog.
For those of you whom I call friends, we will not be out of touch I know. And I hope we will continue to meet on the haunts where we first discovered one another. 🙂 Email is something I will always check, and I will be around. It’s really a bittersweet time for me. I’m excited about changes I’m making to my life, but there was a huge part of me that enjoyed sharing it here. However, I think it’s time for me to bow out. I think it the best choice. 🙂
We will still be homeschooling, homesteading, living and being in our east Kentucky mountains. I will be playing with my girls, baking bread, enjoying the fall breeze, and spending time with God in yoga and my day to day. I will keep this site online as well for awhile, until I find a way to do something with the posts I feel have been important in the broader scope. The rest I will print off for us.
Please enjoy these Appalachian blogs and stories:
I will post here if I get a new more permanent website for my writing promotion as well. I may blog on such a site from time to time.
Thank you for reading my work, and supporting my life. I’ve appreciated your words this year and a half.
Be blessed and adieu…
Yesterday, we went on a trip spearheaded by illustrious Nathan Hall to tour the Abingdon, Virginia Farmer’s Market and the organic farm of Anthony Flaccavento. He is the director of Appalachian Sustainable Development, an organization that supports local economy, especially in the form of sustainable agriculture and local eating. Flaccavento along with others in the area brought about a change in the local economy of a region of Appalachia that is an inspiration to folks living in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. Opposed to common thought, not all of Appalachia is filled with coal nor is dealing with the results of surface mining (strip mining or mountaintop removal – all other words for it). The questions for us in the coalfields being whether a coal economy is serving us now, or whether it will provide an economy for us in the future. However, many Appalachian towns are looking to rebuild or redevelop their local economies in order to provide opportunities for their citizens and to keep their towns alive and thriving. Some see the answer as being the urbanization of Appalachia, or the move to a more universal American pop culture for all. Others see Appalachia surviving on a more modern version of going back to its roots, and that is where the Haywood’s fall.
Hello, this is me, and I will be your tour guide for this adventure showing some of the possibilities for a future for the residents of eastern Kentucky.
This is Nathan Hall, the brains and organizer of the adventure without which folks like me would not be able to focus enough to pull this sort of thing off. 🙂
He’s fixing to be a world traveller soon, to learn more about sustainable economies throughout the world. He’ll be leaving the holler on July 22nd and will be blogging about his adventures at There and Back. My greatest wish for the year without him is that John and I can continue to move forward with all the biggness that has come about at The Confluence this year.
Our first stop in Abingdon was the Farmer’s Market. It was lovely to see such a bustling place in a small town. There were about 60-80 vendors. It warmed my heart to see that many of them were family operations with the children fully involved and content to be there.
All of these were area farmer’s, merchants, food businesses, and crafts people. One farmer recently said he makes $30,000 a year off of a little more than an acre of veggies. That would be a nice living for our family. The ownership of your own livlihood is a great thing.
There was a wide variety of things represented there both organic and conventional.
The market is completely ran by the growers/vendors, but is supported by the city. The market is its own entity with its own board.
Next, we took a lunch at Harvest’s Table, a restaurant running on the influence of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In the foyer, local artists, writers, musicians, and crafts people are supported through the selling of their wares. The food is all local and seasonal. I had the corn and tomato salad with a garnish of fruit and goat cheese. It was so yummy! I didn’t expect it to be when I saw it, but it was. Another interesting thing was all of the soups were chilled for summer – cantaloupe, cucumber, and gazpacho.
After eating, we went out to Anthony’s farm.
The farm was not tremendously large, but it was much bigger than what we are attempting at this time. Flaccavento has employees and interns on the farm. He is certified organic, and uses methods that I have never seen before to achieve store quality results. I’m used to traditional, personal gardening techniques, and it was all a little overwhelming and intimidating. We are definitely not ready for large scale production, but we can work up to producing for more than just our family, learning as we go and following the market.
Flaccavento and other farmers sell to area grocery stores, restaurants, and at the Farmer’s Market. They have developed a distribution center called Appalachian Harvest that works with grocery stores and some restaurants.
It was most definitely an motivating trip. John says we’ll be old before we see any kind of business result from our work. He insists we must build slowly, and on that point I agree. But, I think with focused work, we can begin to broaden our views sooner rather than later. I have dreams, and a lot of the time they leave me pining for the grass is greener rigormoroar. I see us working side by side on something that brings us even more together. Making our living through our own two hands, enjoying the land, and using our talents in a more relaxed way. Creating something to pass on to our girls. I try to live in the present. I try.
I typically don’t like to cross my birth blog with this one, but this issue is close to my heart as a mama, and I think it is a crucial one to think about as a country. What is motivating the opposing sides on this issue, and what can a constructive dialogue look like between the two? It is important to our discussion on improving our maternal and neonatal outcomes in this country. There is no excuse that we, who supposedly has top-notch medical care available to all citizens, has such a poor outcome for our mother and babies. No excuse at all.
We see now that we do not live by acquiring, gaining, or achieving. We live by Grace;…
-Joel S. Goldsmith, The Infinite Way
This week I learned some things. I learned that peace starts inside. I learned that once we know better that negative reactions are a choice. Struggle in many ways is also a choice. I don’t know if readers of this blog come here to read about spirituality, yoga, or personal growth. I reckon most of you come here to read about Appalachia and mountain folks (if I go by my search engine hits), or copperhead snakes. But, this blog documents our lives, and at this point it is as much for me and my girls as it is for those reading. I’m putting the truth of our life out there into the regions of cyberspace and that is also a choice. When you visit here you are reading the journey of an Appalachian woman born and raised, whose family has been here for many generations. You are getting true Appalachia, folks. Is it how you thought it would be?
Thursday, I came home from the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School with the girls. Ivy hadn’t had a real nap since Monday. I laid her down since she fell asleep in the truck. I started my yoga practice as Deladis played. I needed this time. About ten minutes in, Ivy wakes up crying every breath. Nothing wrong, just not happy and tired. I try to continue to practice, hoping that she will soon get woke up enough to practice too or play. Then, the power goes out. It has been out so much this week. The wind blows and it is out for hours. 😦 It comes back on, and I restart my DVD. About two minutes later the power is out again. I lay down. Ivy grabs my head and shakes it back and forth. I feel my body tense. I feel myself wanting to cry. I begin to whine – “just a few minutes girls.” I was tired. I was all touched out. I was frustrated.
Inside, a voice spoke to me. STOP. This is not the way. Whatever I was perceiving as a wrong was not a wrong. It wasn’t the end of my world. I could whine and raise my voice, lament my ruined practice, or I could do something else. I called my mother to watch the girls and I went to yoga in town. I ran to yoga.
I met my needs and I met the girls needs with one decision that saved me a whole evening of being disheartened and aggravating to the girls. Five other women were at the studio that evening, each coming with their own reason to practice. Each coming with their own weight of the day, but all with a bit of joy and release in their hearts. It was a beautiful practice. We laughed. We relaxed. We loved. We released. I particularly enjoyed Lord of the Dance asana.
This is not me, but feel like my pose resembled this one. Yoga is not efforting. Yoga is not struggling. It is relying on what you know to free you to take the risk of stepping into the unknown. I can change bad habits. I can change my attitude. I can live with simple means in abundance of Grace. In Luke chapter 15 verse 31, the father of the prodigal son explains to his oldest son who remained with him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” God, The Creator, The Universe, The Collective Unconscious, whatever name you have for the Supreme Existence/Being is always with us, even when we choose to separate ourselves. All that is, is ours. Not finite material things, but simple being. Very simple being. And that is enough. That is what is lasting into infinity.
I’m so excited because before I was so out of touch with options that in situations where it seemed that struggle was inevitable, I fell right into that way of being. I became struggle with all my heart and soul. I didn’t hear the Spirit within. I was deaf to the voice. I hear the voice now. Eventhough, it is still easier to fall into old patterns. I hear the voice. I hear it! I’m finding the yoga. The union. The living to the full capacity of who I am. I’m very excited about what that might mean for my life. What miserable ways of being I might be released from. Not that anything is any better, but that I am present.
This week John and I are both working at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. I am co-teaching Kids on the Creek, and John is the faculty coordinator. Both of the girls are attending this year, and are with me in Kids on the Creek. It’s a busy and exhausting week. So many personalities in one place, lots of music and dancing, smiling, and fun. It is in its 9th year.
It seems though that our family always has a bit of a crisis during the time of the music school. Last year it was our van breaking down. This year, it is the dogs killing the diddles (chicks). They have killed two, and yesterday, we realized that we had to get the mama and the remaining seven into the old coop for safety. They have been totally free ranging since they were born. We hadn’t been able to touch their mother since she left the coop months ago. I figured I’d have to have John to help me catch all of them. In fact, I wasn’t even going to try without him. His duties keep him at the school from morning until wee morning, and we see him in glimpses. I had resigned to grieve the diddles and resent the dogs.
Deladis on the other hand, resigned to get the chickens into the coop come hell or high water last night. After a thunderstorm that knocked the power out, Deladis chased the diddles all around the yard in the steady rain. Ivy was asleep inside. When I stepped onto the front porch to check on Deladis, I realized she was catching them! She had a diddle in her hands. She handed it off to me and I rushed it to the coop. When I returned, she handed me another diddle. “Get the mama,” I said.
They were all huddled under the front porch, and it takes quite a bit for me to maneuver under there, so I wasn’t too hopeful that Deladis could get her hands on the mama, but I knew that if she were caught, the diddles would be easier. “Oh, she’s pecking me!” I hear. Then, I see my four year old turn around, her arms full of hen. “Hang on!” I say. We rush her to the coop, and proceed to round up the last five diddles.
The proud look on her face said it all. Her eyes round and wide. Her smile open and full. “I did it, Mama,” she said. “Are you happy at me?” She was determined to get those chickens to safety with or without her daddy, and that she did. I was beyond joyful at her accomplishment. She did something I thought wasn’t doable. Something I thought it would take our man to help us with. Deladis taught me something last night.
What/Who am I waiting on? I have been waiting on John to have time for barn repairs for months, so we could move the chickens down there once again. I have been working so hard on advertising my birth work that I have neglected my housekeeping and writing. I have been waiting on acceptance to a known literary journal before sending off the collection of stories to small presses for consideration. I’ve been submitting those stories for two years. I have 25,000 words on a novel that I am waiting for time to finish. There’s no waiting. There is just now. Now. Right now. There is nothing that exists to wait for. All that is, is present now.
Miss Angie, over at The Artist, The Mom, and mine and Deladis’s former Parent/Child (Waldorf) teacher told me once that I was exhibiting some sanguine traits. At the time I thought – no way. But, I couldn’t just put it off. She had really studied the temperaments after all. She gave us an article on parenting and temperaments. I thought – sure, I’ll accept melancholic, even choleric, but sanguine? I had always thought, if only I had some sanguine tendencies. I am not the life of the party by any means. I’m lucky if I can approach you for conversation after knowing you for some time. I’m one of those who gets shy and ducks in and out of store aisles trying to avoid eye contact. Not because I don’t love conversation, or crave it even, but when I’m not prepared for it, it is very hard for me to initiate. I want to be assured that someone wants to talk to me before I approach them. I also remember things, and have been notoriously good and holding grudges (though not any more. What a blessing!). I have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don’t go declaring most of them everywhere, and in most situations my opinions aren’t such that it makes me dislike anyone or confront anyone.
However, I see what she means in that I have my hands in so much at once. My focus changes so often, I don’t think I give anything time to really be what it is going to be. Just go through this blog and you will see that I have this and that then that and this on my mind. Does it mean that I need to find just one thing? Does it mean that I need to give up my little work for the important work of mother and homemaker, so I can do those better than I am now? I don’t think so. I really don’t.
I think it just means that I need to focus on what needs to be done in any given day. What work do I wake to? What work lends itself well to the feelings of the day – mine and the girls? Does it mean that I will take the conventional approach to things? No, I’ve never been conventional. Does it mean that the path I had set out on will be the one that gets me to where I am going? Nope. In fact, I think it is most doubtful. I need to always consider alternatives. Always consider now.
I wonder if I can do the work down at the barn. I wonder. I wonder how much time and advertising to put into my birth work. I wonder which small press I should query first. I wonder what it will be like to pick up my novel again. I’ve been wanting to switch this blog over to one that will allow me to do the Amazon Affiliates program, and post links to my book when it is published by a small press or myself. I wonder if I’m computer literate enough. I wonder. Deladis didn’t sit and wonder. She just did it because it needed done.