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What is Your Compass?

July 6, 2020

When we think of a compass we think direction. True north comes to mind and finding a path to where we want to be. Sometimes that direction isn’t always just physical.

compass on brown wooden table

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When we think about where we’re going that also takes into account where we’ve been. Home. That may change and further changes mean it was once and won’t be again. Growing up in Illinois there were imagination pictures of what Kentucky or other areas looked like, usually in relation to horses. Or Scotland, long an interest and I’m not sure if Border collies or the Bay City Rollers started it actually. Living in Washington it seemed ideal – weather, activities…but it changed and was no longer my ideal. I still miss what it was but the compass isn’t there…it was a stop on the journey. A decade of memories and people and mistakes but not a life.

orange chrysanthemum flowers in closeup photo

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A compass doesn’t always define the path. It tells us the direction but not the details. Oklahoma was home for a while and a big part of my heart will always be there. Alas, “north” was not there either. So it meant a venture west which worked for my sister but not so much for me. Good things there but not home for sure.

South wasn’t on my consideration of anything on the compass yet I live in Alabama. And while the compass can point north it tells direction not time. For now…Alabama is home. It has been for 15 years next month and with the time has come peace. Direction has come from people as well as a compass. If we look at that we find what, often, has been there all along. Being true to yourself is important too. Peace. I haven’t yet found that 100% I can say I love myself but most of the time can say I hate myself less…and sometimes flashes of better show. Maybe in another decade!

A poster on the wall reminds me life is a journey not a race. We think when we have *this* we’ll be happy but landfills are full of things people thought would make them happy or save time or be the one thing that changes their path. We choose our path. We don’t choose how much time we have or many other things but we choose how we deal with this thing called life.

I like myself in this life enough to not settle for empty promises and questionable loyalty. In that I have seen flashes of love at times. Some might say that is conceited…but we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t have love how do we give it? It’s no different than if I had a thousand dollars I’d give it to you…but don’t have a thousand dollars so…! So often we treat ourselves and those close worse than we’d treat a stranger. The things we say would be rude to say to a stranger…but is it less to be said in our homes?

Find your compass. Your north. Start your journey. We’ve crossed paths and it’s good.

One Step Forward…

July 5, 2020

What happened to June?! POOF! I had plans to do a special post on the 8th as it was five years since the storm. So many changes. So many things to do and just me to do it!

There’s the blog. Weeding the garden. Harvesting, bagging, taking things to the market. Dealing with bugs. Taking care of the dogs, the house, trying to deal with not getting too far into my own head, Connor being away from home, planning for new things, dealing with day to day issues, running errands, helping neighbors who couldn’t get out much…add in the Covid19 issue and a few others and shake the heck out of it. Add some loss and for the first time not really feeling like writing.

Then all of a sudden it’s….July!! Connor turned 22 on the 3rd…does not seem possible! Getting through the not wanting to write when writing has been refuge for decades has been hard even with a long list of things to talk about. No one wants to read boo hoo day after day! Ack!

So it has been a case of back up a step, regroup, boo hoo in private and keep going forward. We all have to do that at times, so it’s not special. The details may be different but it’s still deal with it and go forward.

It’s July. Independence day weekend. Step forward. Who’s with me?

USA Thankful

May 24, 2020

There are many critics of the USA. There are those who have benefited from America’s people and opportunities and are incredibly thankful for being an adopted American.

I am thankful for being born here. No it’s not a perfect place. There are many cases where it seems an unfair deal is presented. Yet it is a place that people have, and will, die for. It is a place where despite paying that price, it can be not seen as important to say the pledge, to sing the anthem or put the flag on the veteran’s grave we honor this weekend. It’s not a sale or a BBQ but a tribute to those like Troy. It’s to remember those in the family who willingly signed up to go do things they couldn’t speak of when they came home.

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LCpl Troy Nealey

I am thankful to live in a country we have the reasonable chance of working hard and getting rewarded for it. I am thankful to not be targeted for death for being a woman. I am thankful for when I see a bag of garbage along the road we can think it’s a bag of garbage not an explosive devise to kill us. There are risks everywhere but opportunity too. We aren’t required to practice a certain religion or confined to a certain job whether we like it or not. We can start homeless or new to the country and make a life.

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Family pictorial of veterans and a couple others.

I am thankful for America and those who served to keep her free. I am thankful for much.

Final Date

May 22, 2020

When you walk through a cemetery you see dates. A birth date and a death date and in between is a dash…a story that you don’t have full knowledge of. We usually don’t have a final date mapped out before hand. Some just think it’s someday. Others, sadly, decide today is the day. Some call them selfish, losers or some other insult, like that helps.

From 1988 to now there have been many good things, and some not so good things, in my life. I never pictured living, let alone settling, in Alabama. Washington was home then but struggles were many.

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Depression affects millions of people in the USA and too often it’s hidden. Shame. Not wanting pity. Figuring no one cares. The reasons for hiding it are many and those hiding are often seen as happy people. Those left behind say “if only he’d reached out” or “I didn’t know she was depressed” or feel guilt at missing signs and “too busy” to listen. Perhaps it’s one rejection too many…perhaps it’s just feeling like you never measure up…or not wanting to be a burden on family or friends.

This year started with the loss of a friend…the latest name in many that have unfortunately been lost to a faceless rival that takes loved ones and leaves questions. Why?

I’m thinking about 1988 for a reason today. The people who would be missed. The people who would be asking why. The guilt some would feel when it’s not about them at all but a way to stop the hurt…the not measuring up…the never quite being good enough no matter what was done. My friend played the Opry the week he died…success isn’t enough. Robin Williams was loved by people the world over but personal connections are needed not just fickle, faceless crowds. And in 1988 somehow there was still more for me to do here because it didn’t succeed.

The highs and bottomless lows the last decade haven’t brought me to the same measure but for different reasons. After a hospital stay and starting counseling there was a question posed. If you had to call someone at 2 a.m. who would be be…and I couldn’t think of a single name. None I would want to bother. None I thought would pick up the phone so why try it and get one more round of silence.

The next…who would it affect. That was a bit longer list. Parents. Maybe a few people but mostly life would go on and a few months or years later it’d be like not being here at all. Today both of those lists are a little longer…and so much has happened since 1988. Not all good and some of it I slap messed up. I don’t know when that final date will be but it wasn’t 1988. It wasn’t 2006.  It wasn’t 2014. It wasn’t 2019.

Look around you…share a word of encouragement. A small kindness or a phone call just because. If you know someone struggling with depression don’t just assume it’ll go away. It won’t. From 1988 to now it hasn’t. It makes you think you have then taps the shoulder and says “guess what I’m still here!” Be it support groups or counseling or just talking…LISTENING. Be there, be present, put the phone down and listen.

You never know the real difference it can make. It might be someone you planned to call tomorrow. It might be someone you were going to take to lunch next week. It might be someone you promised to do something with and you got interrupted and just got busy so didn’t call. Words do matter. Actions matter. Lies matter. Betrayal matters.

Life matters. Cherish it.

Retreat!

May 21, 2020

Retreat can mean go back. Most would say it’s unproductive to retreat. Going back is…but how about going forward? What if a mini vacation was possible without going anywhere? What if the way forward was a little bit of a break…a retreat? This has been a progression here. Sometimes it seems like more back than forward but persistence matters!

It’s a place to find comfort. It’s a shady spot for a break on a hot day and a warm fire on a cold night. It’s a warm meal and a dry place to sleep. This brings a peace of mind that is beyond money. There is a difference between comfort and lazy.

red and black plaid blanket on hammock

Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

If we don’t care for ourselves who will? Caring can be among friends, family and acquaintances. When we have no way to go forward and people come forward to help, we find where our support is. We can also have our own support at times. Find those things that we enjoy, or used to enjoy, and taking time to just enjoy it.

 Sometimes life can bring drama. Drama brings issues that can affect health. The solution…calm. Peaceful calm to help restore rattled nerves even if just long enough to have a cup of tea.

It takes money to get by in the world but there’s some things money just can’t provide entirely. Many have money and talk to impress others with how much they spent on one thing or another. The opposite…priceless treasures. The peace that comes from having a pantry that is stocked. The priceless gift of safety.

The last thing is the retreat from the din of city. Sirens, shots, arguments, chaos. Precious silence. Watching fireflies in the night sky on a hot summer night. Sitting with friends and a guitar, or voices interrupting the night with laughter and sharing. Or just watching the fire in a pit.

These things are an invaluable retreat. We all should have that.

SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – C

May 20, 2020

There are many C words that come to mind for me. Charolais was the type of cattle we had growing up. But random C words are different from past alone.

Years ago when those Charolais cattle were bought it was a beginning to carve out a spot in purebred cattle. Bulls were sold in the Midwest and after leaving home it was an effort to carve out a place in other parts of the industry. Currently, it’s carving out a little bit of a spot at the farmer’s market producing food on this little spot. So much improvement is needed and it seems so slow…but leads to some of the other C words chosen.

Cozy is but one of the quests. A retreat room, a kitchen, a spot outside, a protected retreat spot outside. Cozy. It need not be lavish or expensive…it can’t be! But a place to be under the shade on a summer day or a break on a spring morning…oh yes! Cozy is good.

person holding green glass bottle

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Candid – frank, straightforward, truthful. We all want that but too often isn’t given to us. Sometimes there’s the illusion of honesty but it really isn’t. It’s senseless to not be honest, especially about things that are going to be revealed. It seems it’s either deliberate cruelty or undermining confidence…or both. There is no point to lying about things in the blog…the truth is too easily seen. False fronts are only kept up for so long. Deliberately setting up something for months that isn’t true has been done and hurts…why do that to someone?

Calling when you say is one way to fall into that, or not. Sometimes things happen. But sometimes it’s just carelessness in promising to do something there’s no intention of doing…to what end?Sometimes just a call to say hi or see how you’re doing eliminates feeling invisible. With quarantine due to Covid19 and other sometimes self imposed things preventing getting out as much as intended it’s nice to know someone cares.

There’s a lot of C words coming up! The last is control. Dishonesty gives the illusion of control but in an honest situation it’s not about control. Too many people don’t get that. They think calling to let someone know they’re running late is control…but it’s consideration! If I can’t rely on your word I can’t count on you in good times and not so good. It comes back in that when you need something maybe I’m not motivated to go that extra mile because it don’t matter. Friendships, relationships, so much more shouldn’t be about control, and communication helps tremendously.

Balance, reliable, real friends are treasures.

Roots and Heritage

May 19, 2020

Inheritance can be thought of as financial. Trust funds and property seem to come to mind which makes shadows over more important things that should be more valued than they are.

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Storm marked but surviving.

Roots are important. A plant with poor root growth fails to thrive. Deep roots bring nutrition from deep in the earth and additional water to the plant. Roots provide stability to larger plants and trees. They insure trees weather the wind and storms that come. The old prairies are said to have grown taller than a horse and the roots needed to sustain such growth are what made plows necessary to break up the land for crops.

But roots are only part of what is needed. Heritage is history. Heritage heirlooms have been maintained for decades, with some tracing back over 100 years. An example is the Mortgage Lifter tomato, said to have supported a gentleman with paying his mortgage off selling plants for $1 each. Many of the heirloom varieties have stood the test of time. Livestock have old varieties too…valued for multiple traits before specialist traits were needed. The Dominique chicken can provide eggs for a family and the cockerels provide Sunday dinners. The Brown Swiss of old were cattle for milk and bull calves could be fed out for meat or trained for oxen. Power on the farm was not just horses.

Heritage and roots have value beyond the farm. Lives hold stories of heritage and roots. Family stories, too often lost in today’s world, have heritage and roots sometimes tracing to another country. Names on a genealogy page have stories that shouldn’t be lost. Maybe like the midwife with a written record of an entire area’s births. Maybe stories of history witnessed or just something that happened that changed much.

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The Wittmeyer barn

We need to remember heritage and treasure roots. Hold onto it. Remember it. Record it. Pass it to family in the next generation. Learn from the last generation and the one before.

Changes

May 17, 2020

It’s been a series of changes for several years. Big changes. Obvious changes. Visible changes. Now other changes begin.

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Six feet dwarfed by one of the tree roots. Two are down

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There was major upheaval almost five years ago when trees fell on the mobile. A 16 year old was in changes of his own…and personal changes for me. Now he heads for a new chapter in his life and I, too, must adapt and allow mistakes, success and other developments on his own. It’s always a measure of trying to protect them but we can’t really do that. The damage was visible and extensive.

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Connor working on some raised beds, late fall 2014

The changes was location, attitudes, life. A lot of work has gone into present…and so often it seems like one step forward three steps back. Connor has put a lot of work into it from unloading materials to building fences to tilling to wiring and much more. It has been with tears and frustration at time as life lessons are always big. There’s the “composting toilet” made that will remain here as long as I do not for long term use but because Connor and Xavier made it in what is remembered as a comedy routine. Xavier is, sadly, gone, and now Connor moves to further independence. Memories. The little things are the big things sometimes.

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It’s easy to look at changes in Connor but harder to look at changes in me. There have been many and not without speed bumps as well. That’s ongoing and after 10 years trying support Connor, it’s been clear at time there’s others who have filled a measure of importance that seemed to pull further away. Time will tell that reality and it in itself holds changes.

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It the end it’s one spot of time. It’s changed immensely the last five years…what will the next five hold? Hang on.

Opening Day at the Farmer’s Market

May 16, 2020

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It is the time of year for beginnings and the Walker county farmer’s market is one. A few photos of the day!

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SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – B

May 13, 2020

Another letter this week and another set of words. They’re random…they’re applied or a viewpoint…a chance of not being totally serious all the time. Let’s go with B words!

Brilliant can be taken many ways.  I’m seeing it here as a bright future. It’s settled. It’s sunny. It’s solid. It’s a little bit odd but who doesn’t like a sunbeam?!

Blink – or don’t blink. Time goes so fast and can speed up at any time. This weekend Connor will be headed to military training and it seems like just a couple blinks since he was 11 years old and came to Alabama. But then it seems like a few days ago since I was in many other situations.

orange chrysanthemum flowers in closeup photo

Photo by Deva Darshan on Pexels.com

Bliss has increased around the SlowMoneyFarm corner of the world. Not fancy. Contentment with what is. It doesn’t take a lot, A homemade meal, a dry place to sleep and a place to hang out. Sometimes it’s just being creative for a while.

Bitter is something many hold onto…but is better left alone. Drop it…put it down and walk away. Don’t pick it up. Don’t hold onto it. Bitter is often like taking something toxic and hoping to harm someone else. They’ve moved on. Find a way to do the same and be happy.

Bumble happens. Bumble a situation. Bumble a plan. Bumbles happen. Laugh. Cry. Forgive. Don’t hang on to being bumbling either. Move on!

It’s been an up and down week. These five words have come through at different times. What comes next? Stay tuned!

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