Let’s Get Lost

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You would probably have to be living under a rock to have missed the wide variety of items boasting the quote, “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”, all marketed at the adventurous 20-30 year old traveler or hippie dreamer not that completely unlike myself.

Never being one to follow trend though, and often one to buck trends, even if I like them, on principle; I smiled noncommittally towards that woodsy mug expressing the sentiment and went about my day without much thought.

It wasn’t until later, when I found myself so completely in a place in life where I felt so swimmingly, water-over-my-head lost that my thoughts returned to it. Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost. There is the direct implication that being lost is undesirable. “I may be wandering but that doesn’t mean I’m… LOST.” That would be terrible, right?

Who wants to be lost? It implies lack of planning; it implies time wasted; it implies being in a place other than where you should be.

Or does it?

What if…

Being lost means redirection into an exciting unexplored territory. Being lost means the original plan resulted in this much better divinely appointed plan. Being lost means being exactly where you should be just not where you thought that was. Being lost means something exciting is about to happen.

When we wander into unknown waters and the water rushes over our heads and it is scary because we didn’t expect to be here and don’t know how to breathe here, we can bristle at the inconvenience or we can realize that swimming feels really nice and quite possibly much better than our original idea to sit on the shore that day.

Because, my friends, there is great freedom in letting a day fall into place as it will and enjoying it. There is great joy when we see in hindsight that the turn that felt wrong, led us to the place where our soul needed to be.

This year has been a year of “lost” for me. I needed to say goodbye to a very unhealthy relationship and in doing so, found myself a single mother to my six very young children and may I tell you that I very quickly felt those waters rush right over my head?

I laid in my childhood bed at my parent’s house, wrapped in my great grandmother’s quilt and thought, “I am so lost.”

“This isn’t where I am supposed to be right now.”

“I am wasting so much time going backwards! Here I am at 32 years old, back living with my parents until I get my feet underneath me again. I have lost my way.”

But then I want to tell you about what I saw when I stopped flailing in the water and let go of the safety raft that I had been clinging to.

I rediscovered passions that I had long since let fall to the wayside.

I forged amazing new relationships that became a grounding element in our life.

I allowed myself to dream again.

And I realized that swimming can be really good. I realized that I don’t need earth beneath my feet. That the journey can be so much more beautiful when I let go.

I still have in-over-my-head days. I am not going to tell you that I am not still treading water and gasping for air sometimes because that would be a lie. But I am going to tell you that I am wandering AND I am lost and some days it is truly incredible!

I have come to realize that forging through a forest on my own is more enjoyable than following the hiking trail.

Wasted time? I didn’t regress back to childhood living in my parent’s home to start all over again. The new path dumped me out right where I needed to be in life. Where I am today is perfect. Life isn’t a linear progression. It brought me to where I needed to be in a way that staying on the path that I had been on would never have.

It is a good place to be- being lost. It is a place of openness. A place of discovery.

So let’s get lost. We can wander and get lost and forge our own paths.

Let’s imprint that on our brushed leather travel journal.

“Let’s Get Lost”

Because losing leads to finding.

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Watering at Twilight

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There is an enchanting time of evening that I enjoy, after I put the little babies down to slumber and my big ones grab fruit bars and head out to the swing set. Some call it twilight, which I think says it just right. A bluish, heavy coat of light covers everything as far as I can see; the temperature dips a bit; and quiet wraps around me like a blanket as I pull out the hose into my garden to shower my raised beds with cool spray.

 

I could put in irrigation tape like most gardener and farmer friends of mine but then I think I would miss something of my time there. The water droplets sparkle as they shoot through the air. The sound is rhythmic and calming as I give each bed a good soak. I imagine them drinking it all in at the end of a hot day like I sit with my coffee or tea at the kitchen table after we return inside. A refreshing time of rest.

 

I walk through the paths inspecting each bed. I think night is the best time for catching any pests that might want to make our family’s food their own. I squish a Japanese beetle here and some cabbage worms there while sending a cursory glance towards the neighboring homestead’s felines who seem to think my raspberry bush beds are their own personal litter box. I remove a few yellowed leaves from a Rutger’s tomato plant and check the cayenne peppers for signs of reddening. Though my very favorite thing to do is run my fingers through my chocolate mint and inhale the scent or rub a sprig of thyme on my neck and carry the fragrance inside with me for the night.

 

I linger there awhile, pulling stray weeds, enjoying the solace and then finally fleeing indoors from what I refer to as the “thorns of twilight” but most folks around here simply call “skeeters”. My two oldest tromp inside with sticky, happy faces and dirt stains covering their clothes and knees from their digging explorations and play in the turtle habitat. Up the stairs we all go and into the tub for them to have a good soak of their own. Tucked into their beds with books; I sneak downstairs, upright an overturned stool or stuff a few dolls under my arm to prop back on the toy shelf. I fold a couch blanket or two and then start the kettle heating for a cup of tea with some of the lemon balm I brought inside with me from the herb bed.

 

As I sip, I peer out the window at my now darkened garden and smile. Fireflies illuminate sections here and there and I am reminded how fleeting this season is. Before long, harvest will be here and my nightly ritual will become a sweet summer memory filed away until the seed catalogs start appearing in my mailbox and I dream of them once again.

 

 

Reclaiming Home

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Harvest season is a whirlwind of activity that completes our seasons of outside-centered work and play and brings us back indoors. It is a time to reconnect, to prepare the home for its shining role as protector, gatherer, and familiar comfort.

 

It is a natural ebb and flow of seasons. A going out and a coming in. A sending out and a welcome return.

 

There are signs of outside scattered within my walls. Muddy footprints cling to the floor near the back door; smiling pink cheeked faces sticky with the juice from freshly picked apples line the sides of our wood table creating leaf rubbings and acorn babies; and each morning I wonder if today will be the day to bring the first cut logs inside to light and warm our home.

 

I have never been much for spring cleaning. I always have grand intentions, fling open the windows, and scatter a few spring blossoms in jars on windowsills hoping for the motivation to clean every corner and cranny. Winter cleaning happens each year, though, as we prepare for a window of time when our world will revolve inside four walls packed full of the all the warming smells and goodness that winter brings.

 

The children and I look forward to bringing up the boxes of wool throws and flannel sheets. The copper kettle gets a cleaning and shines on top of the stove while the earthen mugs are carefully unwrapped and hung as the lighter, vintage teacups get packed in tissue nests. The kitchen floor gets a thorough scrubbing to remove all traces of the dirt caked shoes that traveled in and out with the season’s bounty for canning, drying and freezing. The very act of preserving and filling shelves for winter sets the tone- a bringing in, a setting up.

 

As the darkness invades sooner each evening, blankets are pulled out for fort building. Even the children carry the urge to draw closer, to hibernate in small spaces and read for hours on end. My favorite read aloud novels come out in the winter. Some so well loved, the covers are missing, the pages yellowed and musty, with familiar lines recited in unity.

 

It is fitting that many of the year’s traditions occur during this time of closeness. They root us to our past, present and future. We slow down; we nurse illness; we snuggle; we bake; we knit; we create. Most importantly we reclaim what is really important. We reconnect with loved ones who come from far and near to gather. We enjoy just being together. We take pleasure in simple domestic tasks that happen daily but are rarely slowed down enough to do mindfully. We reclaim what it means to be home.

Tea Dance

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This tea dance of ours is about more than just tea, it is a connection that spans generations.

 

My daughter barrels through the back door, three sprigs of red clover clutched in her grubby hands, proudly taking them to the kitchen sink for rinsing. We bruise them and add them to the gallon jar with lemon balm clusters and silvery red raspberry leaves. A swirl of sweet local honey and the bubbling hot water is poured over top causing the warm glass to appear frosted with steam. Gently we rock the jar between our hands, using a tea towel to avoid scalding, and we watch the water become permeated with a greenish brown hue. The steep time used to drag on, eyes peeking over the counter, darting back and forth between the darkening water and the clock. This reason birthed a ritual for our steep time. We call it our Tea Dance.

Tea Dance is blend somewhere between an anticipation-filled rain dance and a traditional rhythmic tea ceremony. My tea timer plays a slow, Orient-inspired piece that signals the steep time’s end with jubilant chimes. We sway, circle, lift our hands, roll, and giggle as we wait; twirling circles in celebration once the chimes ring out. I unscrew the lid, a puff of hot water vapor escaping; pouring the liquid through our strainers perched delicately over warmed soup mugs. We breathe it in: sweet and earthy, smooth and nutritive, grown with love.

This tea dance of ours is about more than just tea, it is a connection that spans generations. Listening to my daughter ramble on about the medicinal qualities of plantain or watching her face light up when she comes in with exactly the right herb we need for a custom tea blend or meal, I watch the things that cause my heart to quicken or calm in joy and peace take residence in her own and smile. We don’t talk about that connection so much as feel it as we sway around the kitchen, inhale the herbal scents picked for steeping and snuggle in our rocker, mugs in hand enjoying the warmth and each other.

Groundhog Day

 

It’s 5:30 am and my littlest one, Clementine, wakes for her breakfast.  I nurse her and then tuck her back into her nest of soft muslin swaddles in her swing.  As I get her all settled, I hear my second youngest, John, stirring in his bed and starting to call out for me, “Mama! Mama!”

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It is no time at all before a sleepy Ruthie and her twin sister Anna, come plodding down the hall towards the kitchen.

“My tummy is rumbling, Mama.  It needs pancakes,” Ruth reasons.

I start my water heating for tea, listening to the familiar bubbling of the machine and after steeping some cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove and star anise in my mug, fill my Secura with milk for steaming and frothing.

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I pour some ghee on the griddle and prepare the batter.  I throw in a little of this or that depending on what I have on hand.  Some soaked blueberries or almonds.  A dusting of powdery white.  Breakfast is served and I head to my computer.

I am working hard to limit my computer time to email correspondence and posting in the morning and writing after the little ones go down to bed.  This serves as my time to catch up and connect.

At some point during this time, my oldest two~ Ara and James, drag their bodies into the kitchen and slunk down into chairs.
“Good Morning!”  I try to spark a smile.  Blank faces stare back at me.

After they have filled their bellies with some breakfast, it is time to close up the laptop and venture out.  We change our clothing, brush teeth and ready hair.  These may seem like simple tasks but when you perform them x7 it seems that time stands still.

I pass out the vitamins, we go on a shoe hunt and then barrel out the door.  Time walking in nature grounds us all.  They run through patches of sunlight and show me their dew covered feet~ they shed their shoes the second we pause somewhere, of course~ and we gather pinecones or stop to examine baby turtles.

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After such excursions, we should probably all take baths but as we bring our treasures back home, I prepare John for his morning nap and then nurse my sweet Clementine on the back porch while the others play in the yard.

Ara records a video documentary of herself giving advice on herbs and takes viewers on an herb walk through my garden.

applemint

“And this is mint.  Mint is great if you have an upset stomach or need to cool off,” she informs them.  Some day I am going to watch my not so little baby girl hosting some well loved show on HGTV.

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James torments his sisters.  Squeals of play punctuate their play and even though they act annoyed with him, anyone can see the joy all over their faces as they are the target of his silliness.

“It’s too hot. I’m melting,” signals that outdoor time is coming to a close and we head indoors to cool off and start lunch.

As I heat up the skillet, Ara looks through what veggies we have on hand to add to our Kitchari that day.  It looks like today will be sugar snap peas, carrots and some onion.

We sing our thanksgiving and they shovel food into their bodies like they haven’t eaten in months.  I am always surprised how fast two large skillets of food can disappear, though at this point~ I shouldn’t be.

Rest time for all as the littlest two are waking up and needing attention.  I serve John his lunch in his highchair after the plates and cups from the others have been taken over to the sink. We make silly faces and I try to push through the afternoon sleepiness that settles in my body while I sit at the table with him.

After an hour or so of low activity my twins usually fall into slumber right where they are at.  Curled up on the couch or in a ball right in the middle of the floor.  I marvel at how they can sleep that way all the while being thankful that they can!

My oldest two start schoolwork and join me at the table.  They roll out white clay for letters and numbers or we read aloud an amusing series or adventure.

My favorite part of the day comes when my one year old takes his afternoon nap and my twins are still snoozing.  I read from the pages as my oldest massages my head and does hairstyles.
“Mama, you have read that same sentence three times.  I think you are falling asleep.”  Oops.  Pushing on…

Dinner prep needs to happen and sleepy heads are waking from naps.

“We’re starving Mama!,” come their cries.

“I’m working on it,” comes my response.  I actually really love to cook when my brain is able to do so mindfully and isn’t pulled 17 different directions.

We light our table candle and sing our thanksgiving.  Rituals that mark the time and ground the day.

We might take an evening stroll after dinner or have a family movie night.  We might play outside and catch fireflies or snuggle on the couch and watch a kid talent show.  Sometimes, we have car races or when I am really brave~ we paint.

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And after the fun our bedtime ritual begins.

The tub fills with lavender bubbles.  Way too much water makes its way out of the bathtub and then we end with towel swaddled clean skin and yummy smelling shampoo heads.  We cuddle and get in cozy jammies.  We read and tuck in.

James pulls out his seek n’ finds and Ara her novel.  I pull the laptop out and settle down to write or read or, in this season, bounce a fussy baby who doesn’t like evening much.  James and Ara have recently taken an interest in giving massages with the body oils I am trialing and perfecting for my company.  I like their newest interest :).  I happily volunteer to be the recipient.

And then they reluctantly head towards their covers and I gratefully and exhaustedly welcome mine.  I shut my eyes and, of course, am met with infant cries.  So I pull her close and we drift off to sleep.  Just to start again in about 6 hours.

Some days it seems to drag out forever and others fly by like a dream and I realize like anything else, it all depends on my frame of mind. So today, I choose joy and I choose to be present and I choose to be thankful.

A Walk To Awaken

There is something about taking a walk through the woods that summons thoughts of childhood. Is there anything more magical than stumbling upon a door in the side of a hill overgrown with ivy, or a long deserted cabin nestled amidst a grove of cedars?

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When I was a young girl, I used to search out groupings of evergreens where I would set up my home. The first task was to sweep the dirt floor and define the “walls” with old sheets and blankets. There was the typical set of domestic tools to accomplish my tasks: an old chipped mug, an apron, and several bowls and plates for baking lovely earth pies. Of course while the pies were baking I had quite a selection of well-loved books that I would bring for stealing away to my second story- high up in the sap covered limbs of my enchanted world.

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Now older, I have a home of my own in which I am blessed to live out the continuation of those childhood fantasies. I no longer feel the need to play house in the woods of my dreams; however, there is still magic to be held in the woods for me these days. As I watch my children create worlds of their own making in places where I once did the same, I relive the wonder through them. After reading to them countless editions of Beatrix Potter’s whimsical works, I half expect Squirrel Nutkin to join us on our romps or Miss Tiggiewinkle to appear in the grove to collect my children’s play laundry. As we pass that door in the side of the hill, I imagine that I smell the “singey” scent of her ironing Tom Titmouse’s little dicky shirtfronts.

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There is a special awareness that occurs in the woods for the young and not-so-young alike.   The stillness there centers our thoughts, directing them swiftly towards reflection or creation. The atmosphere lends easily to remembering the past, grounding us in the present and inspiring us for the future.

As much as I can appreciate such quiet self-reflection, I believe the best part of immersing ourselves in nature is when our thoughts shift from our lives to something outside of ourselves. We are stilled to hear God speak, to stand in awe of the intricate lives of all that is growing and breathing around us. The ants diligently work underneath ceilings of crisp leaves. The birds compose achingly sweet melodies, mostly unnoticed by human ears.

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If you look hard enough, perhaps you too will find yourself noticing little Jenny Wren and her wine stained tablecloth; and was it your imagination or did that bunny that just crossed your path seem to be collecting lavender for old Mrs. Rabbit’s special tobacco blend? Perhaps, you have also noticed the puddle ducks, head down in the pond, searching for the kitten’s pinafores and tuckers?

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