burn to shine

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it is okay. That we are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

 may day, new beginnings

It is nearly summer solstice. We, our family, here on this farm, are traveling through this season without farming for an income any longer. We are traveling around the circle of the seasons and so much is the same while so much is different.The intense push, hard in all the ways, that last season gave us to finally let that business go, that one-time dream, one-time call, has settled. The egos have survived, even when they thought they might not. Letting go has usually been something I feel I do so gracefully. But this was hard. Really hard.

Mostly because we always think we have to be something. We were farmers. We were farmers for our community. It was a big part of the way we moved inside our space. It had been our life for eight years. Our plan for more like thirteen years. And I like change. I embrace change. I daydream about change. But this threw me to the wolves. I couldn’t see clearly. I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure after so long holding sure like a hostage in my tightening chest and it was frightening. I somehow thought our world was going to crumble. That things were breaking.

And yet, that isn’t all the way true. What I really knew, so very deeply, was that our world was going to expand. That breaking it was necessary to enlarge it. That we needed so desperately to move on. And, goodness, the world has grown and we keep growing and our farm is still here and we are still here. Growing food for our family, spreading compost out all over our beaten hearts and healing some of the parts of life that had, like much of our farm, been neglected and overgrown.

The story is so cliche it kills me.

Farming.

It is such good honest work. It means something know matter what. And it is also so fucking hard. The money is too thin and too bare even though you are putting your heart and soul into that dirt. The awareness of the true cost, the labor, that all food is born of, is mostly lost to really all of us, even my silly farm kids living this life. There is so much to write about this. How to make the small-scale sustainable farm sustainable, for the farmers? Nourishing and not depleting, for the farmers? So many pieces still to puzzle out in this movement. I have essays going and so much to say and so much I still want to discover about something I truly believed in and hate feeling jaded about.

But here we are in June. And after all that revolutioning, inside and out, we are basking for now in the glory. The glory of a new path. Writing about farming and gardening for my family, I can still do this. I can tell the stories that are mine to tell in the hopes that we all keep moving forward. Not just the small farm and farmer, but us, the people, connected here on earth through the clay that clings to our skin and through time and space by the crying or bubbling of the stars inside us. The threads woven by words told true and with an open heart have a power of their own. They create a net that can hold us all on this journey into a new world.

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it will be okay. It can be uncomfortable. It should be uncomfortable. But it can be okay. We are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

Burned. Grown back. It happens, and we can fight it or find our selves more truly and lovingly inside the flames.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Let’s burn to shine.

Together.

may day,new beginnings

thick in the mystery of it all

loveImagine, here, the longest, sweetest, exhale of all. Every bit of tension in the shoulders, the low back, the stomach, released. Summer has gone.

Not that fall doesn’t come with its own troubles, especially when big changes take place that land you, once again, (always, I worry), under the weight of financial stress. But the fog, the cool night air, it wraps its arms around me, this house, slowly finding order from the chaos of the busy farm season, the children, all of us, it seems, and there is a comfort there. We keep moving forward, truly we do, but always in our own slow, steady way, always coming back to our center, which revolves around each other, our relationships, our duty and care for one another. It is hard, at times, when I want things to be easy, but then I remember, it probably isn’t easy for anyone, life, not if you are actively engaged in the living of it, anyway.

But it is in those tough spots we rub up against throughout our lives that we usually find the most meaning, our own meaning, if we are looking for it. I’ve answered a million questions that stalked me this summer just by facing the fire of it all. And for someone like me, that’s what I am here to do, so I can be fully present and wide open to the flow of life through and around me, so I can be of use to this world in the ways that I find laid out before me.

What am I really rambling about, anyway?

So much, and so little, I suppose.

This year, this year of the horse, has been nothing short of the wild ride I could feel it mounting to be back in January. And as challenging as it was for me, for the people in my life I love most of all, and as challenging as it continues to be, I find the ride and all of the ups and downs that come with it all worth it all.

Because I can’t imagine it another way. Static doesn’t hold much appeal over here and besides, we know and hold onto the fact that there is no arrival, it is all about the movement and what we choose to do with the moment that matters in this game. So, worry and joy live side by side, trial and bliss. We keep moving because life is moving. We live fully in the fog in the fall, we face the sun in the summer. We stand in the fire come winter, so we can rebirth ourselves each spring. We grow, wild, here on this farm. Together, apart, thick in the mystery of it all.

insight, follow your dream, mindful living, intentional living, conscious living, inner work, small farming, writing, life learning

on winter solstice

b&woak4First one toe, then another.

The day begins.

 

A sun to worship, the ancients rejoice.

I hear it, subtle, but there.

A louder song, a promise born, faintly,

in the wind.

 

And why?

 

First one breath, then another.

Not the first day of,

but midway through.

Midway to

the fresh and green and day you’ve been waiting for.

 

Sometimes me, sometimes you.

Spiralling in can take an eternity, and in the dark, what to hold onto,

this?

 

Yes.

This–

if we are just a microcosm of this macro cosmos,

then know,

and know well,

that there will always be light–always–

(and dark)

again.

 

And again.

And again.

And again.

the dead like orange

calendula, el dia de los muertos, the veil is thin, november, fall, winter, remembering

This time of year is strange, the beginning of a long exhale.  Much needed, but still so different from the short pants of summer’s sprint/marathon.  When you’ve been busy, slowing down feels clumsy, and at the top of such breaths, the one you were at first grasping to take and now fumbling into, you don’t always remember how it goes.  You don’t fully let go into it until all the leaves have fallen and some of the litter on the ground begins to turn back into the very stuff it first came from.  It is as slow a process as the season that beckons it.

But in the midst of this awkward stumble, the start of the celebrating of the dark cycle of the year starts up and helps things along.  Right away, with the perfectly wild, silly, and fun night that is Halloween, there is some loosening.  For me, the line up of celebrations from now through epiphany– celebrations rooted in ancient cultures, deepened and strengthened liturgically through time–even though they are now nearly devoid of meaning, these celebrations, for me, are placed in our calender for a reason, and I always try to really let the joy, warmth, and light they were meant to bring our homes and our hearts flood the waters just as the waters outdoors do the same.   On All Hallows’ Eve, I find that sweetness is a genuine impulse, that our community takes kindly to opening its doors to strangers, that we smile and laugh and share with each other freely under the guise of this, in my book, hallowed evening.  I take it, gobble it up, that shared frivolity, the calling of the night to revel, together.  The candy, and candy companies, kind of make me want to chuck the baby out with the bathwater, but I don’t.  I find a way to celebrate despite our modern day conundrum.

And I like to keep the momentum going over the next few days for el dia de los muertos.  Calling together my mother and father, whose deaths were a hard four days apart and left me breathless in grief only to really teach me how to hold on to this life more properly, we share memories of them and my husband’s family, people my children have never really known, but whom he and I have, and whom we love dearly.  It is a wonderful tradition.

And although I don’t know whether the veils really are thin between the worlds of the departed and this fully beating one at this time of year, I do know that the world around us is dying unto itself like it does every autumn and winter, and that it as natural a time as any to really give this beautiful part of the life cycle some of our loving attention.  If we look around us to a world gone quieter knowing that it is just one part of a circular pattern, we can celebrate how proper and right the design is.  We long for winter when it comes.  It was first celebrating this holiday the November after my folks passed away that brought a blanket of peace to my heavy heart.   It is a celebration that removes the fear we have of death, such a good thing to learn early on.  I don’t want to be afraid to die, and I really don’t want my children to be afraid of it either, of losing their loved ones or themselves.  It seems such a pity.  My mother was so afraid to go, it broke my heart.  And so, we talk about it lightly and matter of factly and sweetly, because it is just as true and good as the birth of a new soul.  And it is sweet, the remembering, even if it is bitter-sweet.

So even though we don’t really expect our dead to join us in the evening, and we don’t really put out treats to literally feed their wandering souls, we do keep at this to feed our own.

But this year was different.  I had my moments.  Washing vegetables outside, after dark, alone in the wash station, I couldn’t quit the impulse to look behind me.  I kept thinking about my father, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was standing there, in the shadows.  Peeking back, over my shoulder, shuddering, repeat.  And then, I would laugh at myself, because I have just started re-watching Lost with my oldest son and I kept thinking that all of that first season suspense was really going to my head.

But still.

On the night my father passed away, as I laid down in the dark to sleep, I prayed so hard that I would not be visited by him in any way, shape, or form.  I don’t know why I felt the need, I just did.  And I had the same feeling those few nights when I had that sensation to look over my shoulder.  No, no, no.  I don’t want a visit.

Some ghosts are better left buried.

And yet, I can’t bury him.  I decided sometime last winter that I was going to write a book, part childhood memoir, part philosophy of living.  I love writing, will always write, want to write more, write for a living, write, and write, and write some more–it is an important part of my journey here in this life.  But, I have always sworn that I would never write a book.  The commitment– sheesh!  I always felt too lazy to write anything that length.  The poignant creative non-fiction essay was my sweet spot.  But laying in bed one night, it came to me, clear as day, the whole thing.  And even though the work on it has been slow, it is there, and it will happen, and morph and change and one day see the light, even if that light is just the shine of my own two eyes.  I believe that.

But to write about your childhood means to write about your parents, and as I work on this, as I start to bring life to these stories, my father, much as he did for so much of my life, takes up all the space.  And I find myself wondering, why?  Why would I only consider that my father would be standing there, behind me, when the two worlds we share might be mingling?  Why isn’t my mother’s the name on my lips?  Why not her, so sweet, so angelic?  Why am I not begging for a visit from her?

I keep hearing myself tell stories about my life centered around my dad, and I keep finding myself wanting to find a way to tell the story of my mother, too.  I hate that I have to go back and find that story, that it isn’t the one that stuck.  I may have been better off if it had.  But that story is its own mess of misfortune, so it is just as complicated to get a hold of as it is hard loosening the grip of my father’s story from my fingers.  I’m not sure if I can.

They say the dead like orange.

So, after putting away our costumes this year, we picked some calendula blossoms and put them on the table in honor of our dearly departed.  But this year, I didn’t get out the many pictures of my father.   This year, I didn’t reminisce with my children about their wild and wonderful Grandpa Roger.  I didn’t do much, at all, raising of the dead.  Instead, I let the kids–well, mostly my daughter–ask questions and draw portraits and tell the stories they knew and kept it at that.   My daughter, she feels her ties to all her family, here and there, so deeply, and her boundless love felt more pure and even for this year’s celebration.  I was too in the thick of my mind to do things properly.

I had just one thing I needed to do, alone, to ease those thoughts running through the roads of my mind, one thing to quiet down the noise, to move forward this year into the dark.

I went out into the cold, November night and knelt by the fig tree where we spread my mother’s ashes, the tree that just won’t produce any fruit, and I secretly whispered into the chill, thin air, “I’m so sorry, Mom.  I hope you like the flowers.”