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“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.
I’m so excited to share with you an article that was published in The Daily Yonder last week! I wrote it! Closing Maternity Wards: Costly and Risky… click on the picture below to read the article.
The article was also picked up on www.kentucky.com! There has been some discussion on both sites. I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to write this article for this publication. 🙂 I hope you will take a look if you get the time.
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
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 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. 🙂
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.
To be an Appalachian is to exist in the midst of stereotype (we aren’t the only people who do). You’ve read me going on about it here before. There’s no escaping it, even in the most unexpected places. I have lived with watching the perception of who I am change for a person as soon as I open my mouth and speak. And as much as that can tick me off, I must admit that I believe most stereotypes are made from the misunderstanding of truth. John believes it too, and it becomes apparent in his paintings. There is a part of us that is prideful of being in that state of misunderstanding – it is comfortable to us. It has been our way of life for generations.
One of the stereotypes that is very prominent in most Appalachians I know – at least in east Kentucky – is our fight. Our clannish ways. Our ability to hold a grudge. Our seeming lack of concern about getting physical if need be. Our willingness to stand up for what is right even when we know good and well it is wrong.
Every trait develops for a reason. We are evolutionary beings. We adapt ourselves to meet the needs of our environment both physical and emotional. Otherwise we’d have all died out long ago. I thank the Creator for that. My people in particular (as with many Appalachians) are Native American and European. In the specific combination of my family, it is Irish and Cherokee most abundantly. My native people were here for thousands of years. Here is there’s. Simply. My European ancestors dared to settle the frontier. They dared to go up in them mountains and stay. They were looking for home in landscape. They were looking for respect. They were looking for freedom to live the life they set out to live by coming to America, when they found in the early cities it was not the promised land and not as welcoming as they had expected.
My people entered the mountains with a fight in them. I will live by the standards I set for myself – and family, God, and myself is the only answering I am obligated to do. A way of life developed. We looked out for one another against those who came in from somewhere else. We fought for what we believed mattered.
In present day, I see our fight regrettably directed at the wrong situations. I see it serving its purpose in truth on rare occasion anymore. It is intolerably sad, so I put that in the back of my mind. But, right now, I am considering my fight. Physically I’ve been in one real fight, and two almost fights. I fought a boy in the fourth grade. My daddy had taught me a trick – see, and I used that trick, so it didn’t last very long. I had a bloody jaw. The almost fights were in 8th grade and college and those were fights for honor. Most of the fighting I did was on the basketball court. Us mountain girls were terrors on the hardwood. Not just for playing good ball, but because you didn’t want to get us too mad. We’d get you out of the way as best we could without a bad call by the ref, but if it couldn’t be avoided, we’d take one.
What normally could be a kind hearted compassionate person woman or man is turned by a speck at the first thought of honor or home being threatened whether it be their own or a family member’s. Gurney Norman read a story Friday night at the Seedtime on the Cumberland Literary Reading that got me to thinking about all this. The family of characters disapprove of their daddy’s/grand-daddy’s new marriage, and when grand-daddy also comes to despise it, his daughter goes to run the woman off in her dress, hat, and nice black pocketbook, threatening to get physical with her. We were all laughing and shaking our heads – get ’em girl. It was hilarious. A truly lovely story.
It is this passion about our right to live the life we choose, where we choose, and how we choose that drives so many of us. A life that is by no means a permanent fixture on this earth or even in our experience – our path. And sometimes it becomes so personal that we forget there is a bigger picture, other experiences and paths. A deep ingrained belief in respect for the “person”. It has most definitely ignited passions in me or at the very least fueled them. But, sometimes, when used in a way that is not appropriate it is more of a detriment than anything else. It’s true for all of us in these hills.
Yesterday, I made a decision. Whether it be a cause I believe in, something I feel I am supposed to be doing for people, or my perceived obligations in life, I’m approaching it differently. What makes me – me? How am I sure I’m doing the right things? It’s one of those things that you can’t really put into words, but, I’m believing it is the difference between fighting through life and flying. There comes a time when old ways of being leaves us stuck. They don’t serve us anymore. Putting them off doesn’t change who we are. There is always our basis – what we know already, and in relying on that most basic of basic we can take the risk, and open ourselves to something new. What we are doing right now is the result of the path we are taking, and how closely we are paying attention to where it leads, our mode of travel, and the true distractions along the way.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi
“And don’t expect it of anyone else…” Kelli (if I might add to Ghandi… :))