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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.
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.
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.
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.
We loved our time together. I can’t believe it was 60 degrees out on Wednesday and today – Winter Solstice – it is snowing.
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)
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.
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.
Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… Those words were the mantra of my time spent in early new motherhood when we lived in Louisville. We have never bought cable or satelitte since we’ve been married, but we were excited when we got almost 7 channels on our TV with a regular antennae. I love KET, all the versions. I grew up watching KET (Kentucky Educational Television) and the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) programming they aired. Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, The Write Channel, were staples of my education, and I have to say it is a huge part of what gave me the courage to call myself a writer. A huge part of who I am as a person.
Deladis was about 2 years old when she was watching evening programming with me as I rocked her to sleep. Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… flowed out of the television and Deladis repeated the words with the same cadence and tone as it was spoken by the narrator. My eyes welled with tears. It was one of the first times I realized that she heard words like I do. Hearing those words spoken in that way for that KET advertisement made me proud to be a Kentuckian. I loved hearing them, and in them Deladis heard the same value. KET and PBS produce such a quality programming, which is so hard to find now days.
Now, that we live back in the hills, we don’t get any channels. We watch television and movies through Netflix. I watch KET/PBS anytime I get the chance – renting their shows through Netflix and watching for free online through their websites. Public broadcasting is still such a part of our lives through radio as well. NPR and PRI programming through WEKU and are my chosen sources for news, education, and entertainment in the car and at home. Not only that, but WMMT (Mountain Community Radio) is our community’s (Appalachia’s) leading source for programming that is at the heart of our culture and community. I host a show on there once a month called Mountain Talk.
It was only a week or so ago, when no radio was playing, or TV going, Deladis broke out in her play as perfect as a radio announcer and said – “P…R…I… Public Radio International.” I felt the tears well again. Her gorgeous child’s voice, hearing words so beautifully. It’s an awesome thing for me as her mother to hear.
So, right now my heart hurts over the funding cuts proposed by our Congress to all public broadcasting – radio and television. It would mean the end of so many of the shows I value so much. Not only have they proposed this but also complete cuts of funding for preventing teen and unplanned young adult pregnancy programs, and cutbacks for initiatives geared toward maternal and child health. I have no clue what is going on here. I understand we need to budget, but there are so many programs wasting government money, not to mention the government itself, that I can’t see justification in cuts such as these. I don’t like to get political here, but in this case I have to write on it. Funding cuts for the arts, public broadcasting, family health, education, etc… really???
Read KET’s urgent plea here. Make your voice heard. Mr. Fred Rogers isn’t around to do it for us this time as he did in 1969. Can someone… can we fill his shoes?
I think I’m coming back to this space to write again. I’ve got a lot going on, so I don’t know how consistent I will be in posting, but I do miss my readers. I also miss having this space to share my day to day with my girls and my grandbabies in the future. Have you seen these new blog books you can get printed? 🙂 I’m going to do that. The next new post will be around St. Valentine’s Day. 🙂
I just wanted to stop in and share with anyone who might still be lurking around here or stopping in that I made it into the Winter Issue of Still: The Journal! I have a short story included called “No Part of This”. Silas House is the fiction editor of this journal, so I was overjoyed to have made it in. 🙂
“Quietness is indeed a sign of strength. But quietness may also help one to achieve strength.”
-Franz Kafka (1883-1924)