going for gold

creating meaningful celebrations without significant cash outlay is another piece of the lifestyle puzzle here for our family. 

sadly, it seems the cultural norm for all holidays, birthdays included, is to buy something, often buy a lot of somethings. lately it seems more and more folks are steering away from thoughtful investments in time that often result in gifts steeped in meaning, we find ourselves trying to do just the opposite. with most holidays here on the farm, we try to do things, we try to make things, we try to somehow capture the essence of the day without a lot of buying, without getting sucked into the consumerism that so defines these times.IMG_5777

so last week came my birthday. i knew there was a lot of baking and creating going on behind closed doors, but nothing could have prepared me for the delights of the day.


one year ago to celebrate my birthday we dyed our first yarn blue. it was a day full of glory, one that couldn’t be recreated.


this year, while still heavy in a dyeing frenzy, we decided to go for another shade. the anniversary of my birth dawned and on that foggy fall day we headed to the fields of goldenrod surrounding the farm and picked ourselves about 6 pounds of flowering heads. with book in hand and high hopes for nature’s best yellow, we  plunged into a celebratory day of dining and dyeing, laughing and working: celebrating my birthday.


the day, the yarn, it was all too perfect.




I’d give you a sample of my to-do list, but it’s spread out across three notebooks and a clip board.

Really, things are a little outrageous right now.

But I can see the way ahead, and though the road is full of rocks and steep hills, there is a way, and I know we’ll make it.

The Biodynamic Conference is this weekend.  That’s NOW. (Don’t be shy – come on out.)  This is a good thing, cause that means there’s not much more I can do besides show up and love on everybody there.  That’s the best part.  I’m exhausted by it, but in the most wonderful way.

Then there are the gardens.  Time to put them to bed.  We harvested the sweet potatoes and they are tremendous.  There are still some cowpeas to pick, the garlic to plant, the trellises and tomato cages to pull down, the herb garden to weed, onions to string up for storage, remay to unroll, cover crops to sow, and a couple more experimental crops to oversee (more on that later), but we’re getting there.

weedy herbs

I’d like to make some echinacea tincture – it’s going to be some work to get to it.

Of course, all that has to be done before my Fellow Man departs for his next round of assisting at the AVI Yoga Teacher Training.  For two weeks.  Oh my.

And then there’s the sale in Cookeville, for my Other Mother’s estate.  That’s a different level of doing, in-town, running around, packing and moving and feeling the waves of emotion that accompany this kind of work, inside and out.

I haven’t listed the work of making beds, sweeping floors, cooking meals, or doing dishes.  Or homeschooling, or knocking those cobwebs off the windows that really need cleaning, or reading Goodnight Moon five more times before dinner.levon squash

So, when I manage to roll out of bed for the few minutes of the morning before the kids notice I’m gone, it’s fair to say there’s already a lot on my mind.  Getting quiet in myself is no small task.  But I have to try.

Amazingly, even a little effort goes a long way.  When I can grab a few minutes for a short personal self-care ritual in the morning, a little yoga snack, breathing, prayer, and mindfulness, my day feels more focused, and my capacity to live and love is better actualized.

I believe that the little bit of yoga, meditation, prayer time leads me to have better discernment.

Used to be, I didn’t like that word.  Discernment.  It felt negative, even judgmental.  But my mind is opening to its possibilities now.

I have too many things to do.  I cannot do them all in one day, or even many days.  Choosing the most important and effective use of my time and life’s energy is a function of discernment.  It’s not that some things don’t deserve to be done, and done well.  They all need my attention.  But with a discerning mind, I can know and accept that the weedy herb bed will wait a little longer, because doing more weeding now will make for a later dinner, a later bed-time and a stressed out family.  I can discern that, as much as I would like to wash the window screens, sweeping the crumbs from the floor is more important because there’s also a load of laundry to be done and Lulah and I really need to do some reading together.

And what I really love is that, even though it’s gaze is unwavering, the discerning mind can also be compassionate.  I don’t feel like a slouch or beat myself up, when I start the day with focus.  From that quiet place inside, fixed steady in the quiet of the morning, I can let go of what cannot be done in the day, and add it to another list, after the weekend has passed.  I’m not just running willy-nilly from one job to another, never feeling like anything gets done well enough, soon enough.  Of course there are days when that happens, but it’s certainly not comfortable.

I hope you can find this for yourself, too.  You don’t need an intermediary to have some peace.  It’s always there for you, if you can take a step toward it.  Make a place for yourself where you can safely sit in the cave of your heart, and from there, walk clearly into your day, whatever it may bring.okra sun


today is my birthday. as this day dawns and unfolds i hold in my heart deep gratitude for so much, so many. for all the people whose lives have touched mine, however fleeting or enduring. for all those paths i have crossed, the shared moments, the faces, the places. for the richness of my 47 years. i am so thankful.