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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.
“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:
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!
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.
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 finally got hold of the camera, took some pictures, and then let Deladis take some on her own. I’m going to share our last few weeks with you mostly in pictures.
Easter, Redbuds, and Dogwoods – The Tale not Found in the Bible
Today is Good Friday for Christian believers and others who are inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ.
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:10-11
Jesus accepted what was for what it was. He lived the Now and He realized the essence of His being protected by Father God. My maternal grandmother taught me that the redbud and dogwood trees represent some significant things in this story. They grow wild in these hills. Many plant them in their yard.
The redbud was once a large tree with large white blossoms. Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hung himself on one of these large trees. It shriveled up and the blossoms turned pink with their shame.
The dogwood represents the events of The Holy Week. You can read more about how by clicking these statements.Spring has gotten into my being more this year than ever in my life. I have never been fond of rainy up and down weather, but this year the beauty of creation has been recognized as a gift in the core of who I am. The most beautiful part of the redbud and dogwood story is that they bloom around the same time, the redbud a bit ahead of the dogwood.
Deladis Won a Blue Ribbon at the Homeschool Science Fair for her Tree Project!
She worked so so hard! I can’t believe this is a kindergartener’s work!
It’s Electric – Boogie-Woogie-Woogie
The Chickens – Photos by Deladis Rose – Titles by Mommy
And Finally – The Mole Killer – Not for the Squeamish – Photo by Deladis Rose
Not in his goals, but in his transitions is man great.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is the hardest transition between seasons I think I have ever experienced. Honestly, it is wearing me out. Yesterday, it was around 76 degrees. I was in shorts, babysitting my nephews, skipping rocks in the creek, and picnicking. Today, it is going from blue sky to dark gray before it pours rain or spits of hail. It is about 35 – 40 degrees. The wind is blowing heavily like it is trying too hard to clear something away. Something that just doesn’t want to budge.
My life is transitioning right now too. To what, I’m not exactly sure. My soul is ready, but my mind is hanging on. Nervous to release old patterns of thought. Getting disappointed over the same old things like we haven’t learned that lesson already. Like it matters at all, really. Coming back to this blog was part of this transition. A space to not promote anything. A space that is not a business. A space where being “professional” isn’t necessary. A space just to be me.
Yet, I think that is what all areas of my life is craving. Just for me to be me and not to worry about what that means to other people. We are all lit off the same spark, anyway. Either it is meant for my path to cross yours or it isn’t. I believe my Creator is in control regardless of what appears to be real. Therefore, to worry over future, or results, or how someone feels about something I’ve written, a fact I share, or an opinion I hold (until someone cares to try to change my mind :)), is not important. In fact, it is wasted energy. Why haven’t I completely accepted that into my reality. That is fact. I know this to be Truth.
I’m working on relaxing and I’m not doing all that horrible with it. I’m focusing on whatever presents in my day, my girls. I should probably look a little more at housecleaning (always). The rest (or unrest) – the waiting to hear if a piece I was asked to write has been accepted, waiting to have my first online client (Birth True Childbirth Education – Online Classes), the wondering what I should best do next, I’m trying to not consider as much. Some days are better than others.
I took a course recently called Birth Heaven Now! through a great woman named, Stephanie Dawn, as a training for my childbirth education/doula work, and really enjoyed everything about it. So much of what I learned through that course applies to my entire life and not just my work. The focus on balance. How can I give anyone my best if I am not caring for myself? If I am worrying? If I am working too hard, or struggling through something that really isn’t a fit? It is true for everything. One of the topics being excellent self-care. I’ve been doing ok with that. I’ve come to realize how caring for myself too can change everything about everything.
What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? – 1 Corinthian 6:19
Yet, again, there is that nagging of the old “self” rushing through my me time – contemplating my day, my week, my year, conversations I’ve had, conversations I plan to have, things I hope to do, things I have done. I’m in transition. I’m leaving that all behind. Transitions take time. And yet, what is time?
If what Emerson says is true, then I’m not waiting out a transition to see new life bloom on the other side. Life is now. Right now. Right now in whatever it brings can be great. Not me. Not you. Us. I am. We are. And not great in the sense that we feel accomplished, or we got published, or our child was actually able to identify his/her numbers passed 10 today, but great because of who we are. We are children of the Divine.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28