Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Bookworms' Salvation

The cold damp winter and spring days seemed eternally dark, and endlessly dreary, trapping me indoors with only my thoughts and my loneliness. Living in rustic conditions with little or no modern conveniences made this even more difficult to bear. The acrid smell of kerosene lamps and wood smoke, combined with the ever present mildew-y tent smell permeated the air.  The days brightening only just a little in the hours between dawn and dusk, if there was a sun break it was barely able to penetrate through the thick moss covered trees under which our little shack was built. The Drip, drip, dripping of the rain on the yurt roof, mirroring the drip, drip, dripping of my dark thoughts.  Thoughts of hopelessness, betrayal, confusion, and sadness.
I was sinking.
In these days I did not see light or hope, I saw hypocrisy, hopelessness, and a betrayal. I was let down by nearly every adult in whose care I was entrusted. Fatherless, sexually abused, and virtually orphaned by a mother lost in her own struggle for survival and raising my young siblings, I felt invisible and unprotected; I was left to flounder without guidance, and to deal with heart wrenching grief over the loss of my innocence alone. My grief and loneliness was so complete I couldn’t see how it would ever be different.  There was no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that I could foresee.
I did my best to escape these thoughts, these conditions I was surrounded by, with my books. Stacks and stacks of books, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, whatever I could get my hands on. The smell, the weight, the feel of these books in my hands was such a great comfort to me during these dark times.  They were a means to elude my own reality and dive into someone else’s. I would submerge myself in someone else’s story, someone else’s grief, fantasy, joy, or triumph.
I found solace and escape curled up under my blankets with a cup of hot tea, lost in the pages of a new found novel.  I would slip away into some elaborate tale, or fanciful adventure. I was encouraged by the likes of Anne Frank and Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Tom, and their perseverance in the face of enormous adversity.  I would also lose myself in the fantastical pages of Narnia or The Hobbit, and other such fantasies. In this way I would pass these dark days one by one, and soon my days became brighter. I learned to cope with my circumstances, looking forward to a future I knew could be different. Hope was finally something I could grasp.
I must have spent hundreds of hours reading, escaping, and surviving. Reading saved my life. I owe a great deal to a great many authors who inspired me to look beyond myself, whose words lifted me up and carried me on. The stories that enlightened and encouraged me. The little truths and bits of wisdom I found in the thousands and thousands of pages I read.  
Literature played a significant role in restoring my faith in humanity, made me look outside myself, helped to me educate myself and gave me the confidence to pick myself up and carry on.  I still find great comfort in the written word, both in putting pen to paper, and turning the pages of a book to see what new knowledge it has to teach me, or just to plain old escape into another world.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ever Changing Current

My sons at the edge of the Smith River in the Redwoods

The one constant in my life has been change, and change has often represented loss. As I have grown older and wiser I appreciate how these things have shaped me and created character. I love people; their differences, similarities, weaknesses, and strengths. I sometimes identify heavily with someone experiencing a particularly painful loss or change and something in me wants hold them and let them know, while this doesn't feel good right now, It will soon be better than before! Change teaches us lessons that will help us learn and grow. That is, if we are living with our eyes open.

Losing the Love Family Ranch for instance, seemed at first a minor blow…before realizing what it would do to our hearts and traditions. It was our place to gather, where we went when we were lonely, or to celebrate, this place held our roots, quite literally holding the Family together. It didn't take long to see the damage that was done by losing this place. People, traditions, and even beliefs all changed. It was a very clear example of the power of change.

I have lost many things, innocence, friends, family, and even places…some things are harder to take than others, but we carry on don't we? I have learned the hard way, made mistakes I knew I was making but somehow felt compelled to continue, but I learned and I grew, and I didn’t look back and think “what if”…”what if” isn’t going to get you anywhere, it’s “Doing” that takes you places.

I still have my family and friends but we are changed, and I’m not going to mourn what once was, but instead take the opportunity to build my friendships and family anew. It’s a great chance to throw out all the rubbish and start fresh.

I love this process, and in a way thank my hippie upbringing for making it a more natural process for me. Nothing was constant, where we lived, who we lived with, nothing. I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing. I like to know to some extent what happens next, but I'm also confident that change will come, I can deal with it, even embrace it at times.

I believe people, places, and experiences, flow through us like rivers, changing us just a little, just as rivers slowly carve through their landscapes forming them anew. We cannot hang on to any of it, or we would turn stagnant and dull and eventually dry up.

That’s what it means to “Go with Flow” it can't be stopped so we may as well try to enjoy the ride, weather the white waters, and enjoy it when the water is calm. One thing you can count on for sure is change will come, the choice is ours to let it tear us down or build us up…I know what I choose.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ramblings of a Hippie Foodie

Our Tiny veggie Garden Apple trees in the back and Blueberries to the  right

Eating mass produced food is a 3 pronged assault on your wellbeing, any one of these should be enough for you to at least try to transform your eating habits.
1. Mega meat farmers dump untold amounts of toxins into our environment as do farmers of plant crops such as corn, soy, wheat, sugar and many more. These are POISON!  I'm sure we don't even know the long term detriment to the environment and our health some of these toxins will cause. 
2. Cruelty to farm animals is common practice, caging the creatures inhumanely for most of their lives before slaughter, cutting off body parts, and treating them like a commodity instead of living creatures. (supporting these practices should be depressing for you)
3. The amount of meat and processed food such as sugar and corn syrup we consume is making us fat and sick. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are running rampant...I'm not sure if you realise these things are much less of an issue in some cultures purely because of diet!
I am not perfect in my eating habits but things can be done to reduce your personal impact.
We saw these poor chickens in transport on our last family road trip

•Grow a little of your own food (awesome if you get enough yield to share with your neighbors!) Tiny little gardens can be grown on decks, patios and even the grassy patch between the sidewalk and street! This is a helpful website

•Buy locally grown organic produce and meat, and buy in bulk, it's cheaper and there is less packaging (I participate in a small food club where we jointly purchase from this company and have it delivered to one of our homes.  Most of their products are locally grown, organic and fair trade. Check them out here: if you live in the big city where you have access to a good co op, you won’t need this)

•Become a less-meatarian or vegetarian (I have perfected some delicious no meat dishes, and try to have them at least 3 or 4 times a week and we try to buy organic meat or purchase it directly from our local farmer.  Invest in a chest freezer!)

Simple. If we all adjust a little bit it will have a big impact on the whole. And who knows...maybe just maybe these huge food conglomerates will listen to us!
Here is an article that is very eye opening
And one I just read on Facebook addressing the fact that changes can be made on a legislative level as was done in other countries. Our government seems to need a tremendous amount of pressure from the people to counteract the dollars they receive from the huge food producing companies and companies such as Monsanto.

Also movies to watch 
Food Inc.
Forks over Knives 

Lastly...This woman is an inspiration! Check her out. She has a great youtube video too

Eat with your eyes open. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Just" A Stay Home Mom

“Just a stay home mom”, say that to my sister in law and you are likely to get an earful, and I dare say I agree.  There is really no such thing as “Just” a stay home mom, what we do encompasses so much more. Without going into the litany of things we are responsible for doing I will say it’s pretty thankless much of the time.
Somehow our society has evolved to a point where parenting and homemaking are regarded as less than important, because you can't put a dollar value on those things can you?  Spending your days scraping something sticky off the kitchen floor with your thumbnail (trying hard not to contemplate what it might be) while simultaneously arguing with your teen about his plans for the weekend and explaining to your elementary school child…”yes, it’s ok to wear miss matched socks today, I am behind on laundry”.  The toast is burning, and each child is wanting something different in their lunch. Plus, they hate each other and are on the verge of boxing most of the time.
 And this is before your day gets going in earnest.
There is no pay raise, (HA! There is no pay at all!) No health benefits, social stimulation or peer recognition. Before you get all envious of being able to stay home, think about the stigma our social structure has put on this position. I have even heard my very own child say to me “why don't you get a real job mom”. That stung. Parroting back the negative messages he picked up from god knows where, regarding what it means to be someone who is not gainfully employed. (Apparently my little cottage industry I engage in to make ends meet doesn’t have much value either.) And before you start in on how rewarding it is, take in consideration, depression and unhappiness is higher in stay at home moms than working mothers or women without children.
Is it because of the work? Are children that terrible? Is vacuum cleaning so horribly offensive? The fact that our job has no end and beginning?  I think not. It’s almost purely the lack of support from our dollar obsessed society, and lack of social stimulation and respect.   It is because it is “Thankless”.
I love my children, I love my domestic inspirations, when everything is order I feel accomplished, but I am not “just a stay home mom” I am more than that, I have an entire life outside of being domestic, personal dreams and desires, which are often sacrificed for my family and home, and all I ask for is what everyone really wants…A little respect. So please, with mother’s day right around the corner, thank your local stay at home mom, she will appreciate it.