Monday, August 16, 2010

Family Values

As I was walking out of work today, a coworker and I were talking about this past week. She asked if I had fun, and I said, "of course, I was the only girl in a room full of men." She asked if any were cute, and I said, "yes, one was very attractive, but they were all married."

Now, this coworker is very young, but that still doesn't excuse her comment. She replied "that doesn't matter in this day and age."

Suffice it to say that I was floored. I replied that it mattered to me, as I'm a huge supporter of marriage and I thought she needed to rethink her stance. It bothered me deeply. It still does, as you can see from my post here tonight when I should be packing and cleaning out my car for my trip to Georgia.

That got me thinking about family values and where we are heading "in this day and age."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vision Questing

I think that if you take the last two days and compare them to the last two quarters, I have posted more on facebook and this blog cumulatively. Ha ha ha. I guess I just was emotionally exhausted and needed a break. I am feeling rather lazy these last two days. Lots going on and I'm just wiped. Every once in a while, you have to cut back on the work you do and just sit in a hammock and let it ride for a day or two. This post may make you all wonder what I've been smoking. I swear, nothing.

Carl Jung said that every 7 to 10 years people go through transitional periods in their lives where they question what they've done, who they are, and make adjustments along the way so they end their lives exactly where they were supposed to be.

A friend recently asked me about my Vision Quest. Many in my family know of my Vision Quest a few years ago. Most do not understand it. Why did I go to Texas, undergo a sweat lodge ceremony where I underwent grueling heat prior to climbing to the top of a mountain, to sleep under the stars, alone in the wilderness with no food or water in 100 degree heat during the day and below 0 at night for four days and three nights?

If I told you, you still wouldn't understand.

Suffice it to say that like many of us, I was looking for answers. Coupled with the fact that I like to try new things. When life knocks and gives me an opportunity, I take it and to hell with the reasons why. I figure it's all going to shake out in the end anyway, and most of you will forget what I did within a few weeks. 'Oh, that's that crazy Elaine again, just going off on another flaky adventure.'

And of course, true to form, I got more questions than answers. It's taken me a few years to answer even a few of those questions. Most of them are very personal, so I'll share here what did happen that is not so personal.

When I was preparing for my Vision Quest, I was told that through change in focus, intent, environment and diet, the quester enters a highly sensitive state of bodily awareness and is subjected to lucid dreams. So, for two weeks prior, I fasted and meditated and thought on life.

When I climbed to the top of the mountain, at the highest point I could find, I was given four words to meditate on. Stillness - Empty - Surrender - Beauty

I'm reading through my journal now and remembering it all. Some of the visions I had were visual. Some were auditory, such as the early morning just before dawn when I awoke to the sounds of claws trying to claw through my mattress pad to get to me. I was afraid to move. It was so real. I could hear the echo of a cavern and nails on a board and stone underneath me. I just knew that something was trying to get through to me. It ended like every vision did, with me falling fast asleep, so deeply that I could not awaken if I tried. Many times I did, but I could not awaken.

Most of the time, I just slept. I had a feeling that was part of my vision, the sleep. Someone was telling me to relax a little, take it easy more often, and get some rest for goodness sake.

There was the one time when I had a kinesthetic experience where I was sleeping and someone yanked, hard, on my right foot as I lay there.

Oddly enough, I never wrote down my big vision, just all the little ones that led up to it. How the animals came so close to me, and the birds would literally come and surround me in the morning and sing for me. (they would come just to the few trees around me and sing their hearts out) It was like they were curious about what I was doing there. I wrote that all down, but never my vision that led to my Indian name. I held it close to the vest for a few years now. I was told not to share it until I felt ready to. That time is now. I've gone through a sort of rebirth these last few months, culminating this past week where I have finally decided to reemerge.

My actual vision, the one that gave me my name, was all things combined. It was auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Not only that, but I also found physical signs when it was all done.

Here it is, in short form. I was sitting up, looking out over the trees, and a mountain lion approached me. He walked slowly and deliberately, but I was not afraid. He looked deep into my eyes as he approached and came and sat at my feet, looking up at me, much like my dog does when looking for a treat. He laid his head in my lap and we sat there. I can't remember if I stroked him or if we just enjoyed each others company. Finally, he looked up at me after a very long time, and just gave me a very sad, very sorrowful look and I had an understanding. I just knew that he was saying he was very sorry for what he had to do to me, but it was necessary. I looked down at him and told him "go, do what you must." He took left his paw and put it on my right thigh, looking at me all the while with love. Then he unsheathed his claws and swiped down my leg, from inner thigh to outer leg near my knee. It was painful and it bled. Then I slept. When I awoke, near my foot I found what looked to be a large paw print in the sand. A large pad with four toes, very clearly defined, and larger than my hand. Just one print, and very, very clear. So clear that I wondered if someone was playing a trick on me, but I was the only one up there, and no one else knew that I would have had a vision of a mountain lion.

Then my vision returned to me and a coyote playfully approached me, bouncing and bounding. She came to me and saw my blood and felt my pain and came to clean my wounds. She licked my wounds and they healed. I slept again, and when I awoke, she was back with a pup, and he was wounded. He had a broken leg. I repaired the leg and she was thankful to me for my help, and they went away. As he ran, he healed and the bandages fell away.

That's it, that's my vision. It resulted in the longest Indian name the Medicine Man had ever given anyone. Ask me in person and I will share my name, but I will not do it over the internet.

It took me two years now to figure out some of the meaning in this vision. It is so very clear to me now, and looking at it, you can see why it just looks like crazy mumbo jumbo. I believe I know who the mountain lion was now, but I still await the trickster, the coyote, to come and heal me.

For now, I sit here with my leg splayed open waiting for her.

Am I losing you all yet? LOL

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Leadership and Change

Those who have never loved and been loved by an animal, have a part of their soul yet unawakened. - Unknown

This past week, I had been selected for one of the highest honors at my workplace. I was selected to spend a week at Leadership Training Institute. I and seventeen others began the week learning about change, how to institute it and how to manage it, and then went on to learn team building, leadership and other motivational things. I met some very interesting people, and some of us decided we would maintain the friendships we built. Others of us will be meeting to continue to mentor each other.

One of the most fun facts for me was that I was the only girl there. Those of you that know me, know how much fun that was for lil ol hyper-competitive me.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite things I pulled away from this was that I was witness to five amazing smiles. Yes, honestly, it was the smiles that I remember most as I sit here re-living it in true Pisces form.

And I'll tell you why. Smiles define a person.

5. We have one man, who had a serious look as he tried to pay attention to the material, and then would see the humor and let out a burst of air and then a smile would break out. As I watched him, it seemed that the smile often surprised him and that was half the joke.
4. We had one man who I work with frequently, and is just known as a nice guy. He's always smiling, and everyone always loves him who meets him. You don't even have to get to know this guy to know he's just a NICE GUY. You know? He has a young baby and life is good for him, and I pray for him that nothing ever changes, and that life continues to bring him good fortune and joy.
3. The man who brought our food and took care of us had an amazing, brilliant smile that lit up his face. He loved his family, people, and his job. As one instructor mentioned, sarcasm is our number one export in New England, and this man had it in spades. He didn't even know me but instantly saw in me another sarcastic, full of life person and we spent the week getting to know each other and ribbing each other. His favorite moment, I bet, was when I was trying to get out to explore the gardens and he had to explain how to open the door. Oh, boy, was that a trip - don't ever ask a sarcastic man how to get out of a building.
2. There was a man there from Hong Kong and Thailand, although he himself was Vietnamese. He sat next to me on the first day and said at the beginning of the week that his goal was to get to know each person in the room. And he meant it, not just their names, but who they were. He started each day SHOUTING into the mirror "Have a happy day" and explained that a good day was not good enough, he needed to have a happy day. When he smiled, his whole body vibrated with energy just looking to get out and hit you with positivity. He loved people and loved meeting them and it showed, and you couldn't help but love him. He was my second favorite character from the week.
1. My favorite man and also my favorite smile was a Scotsman, and an amazing man. He was so, so serious, and then suddenly and surprisingly, this 1,000 watt smile would break out and I would just feel the joy rising in me from my gut, and I would have to smile with him. When I did, the joy I felt was just completely throughout my body. He had smiling eyes, like we Irish like to talk about, and I never did quite figure out what color they were. :) I found myself hoping and wishing that he would speak more often just so I could hear his melodic accent. (Which was not Scottish, by the way)

I was impressed with him for many reasons, but one was because one of my main drivers in life is continuous self improvement. This man in the short week I got to know a little about him shared a few "faults" about himself in an honest and refreshing way. He was there to learn, and he did not accept mediocrity. Some of the others seemed to want to allow it in during some of the exercises for the sake of simplicity and ease. He is a more surprising and interesting individual than I believe he gives himself credit for. Although I bet his wife is fully aware of how amazing he is. Of all the men there, I found myself continually noticing the many similarities between us, and perhaps that's why I liked him so well. Don't we typically get drawn to those who are most like us?

So, perhaps I'll post some lessons about leadership some time soon. Right now, I have to walk my dogs and then go on a huge, long bike ride out in the woods of New Hampshire with friends to try to burn off some of those calories from the amazing quantities of food they shoved into us this past week.

I'll post the pictures of the event when I receive them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it - Mark Twain

Sometimes when you think your problems are so great, something happens and you realize how small they are. My farmer friend has been working for two years on a dream house on her 200 acre property, only to have it hit by lightning and burn to the ground. Each month, she sends out a newsletter, and in true fashion, she sandwiched that devastating news in with the other news she had to report. Baby lambs born, turkeys taunting the coyotes while her useless but cute dogs sat at the house just watching from afar, her son winning game ball for the Jimmy Fund, oh, and my house burned down. While my friends and family are amazed at my chipper attitude and ability to take life in stride and keep on going with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step... I think if my dream house burned down, I'd have to have a little bit of a meltdown.

Well, the yard is quieter and getting cleaned up and built up again. Next on the list of items to address is a chicken aviary to keep them confined most of the day, to keep my yard from being their dirt bath haven. LOL. I have plans for some top soil to be delivered at the end of August, which gives me a strict deadline to get it done. I'll post pictures of that project. If anyone has plans, feel free to send them along.

School is starting soon for myself and the children. As usual, it will be a challenge to get it all together, but so exciting at the same time.

Well, I know that wasn't too exciting, but I just really wanted to put a post up here soon. I'll make the next one more thought out and exciting, I promise. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The turkeys are gone!

The turkeys are FINALLY GONE!

I can finally regain my yard. I'll be going out with a new friend to the farmer's market this weekend where one of my farmer friends will be bringing me new herbal plants to begin the long, hard process of bringing my yard back to the lush, green, peaceful place where I can lay in my hammock, drink beer and listen to the birds sing rather than take a dust bath every time the wind blows.

Those of you with poultry know what that means. :)

I'll also be heading to another friend's farm where they have allowed me to have full range of their 100 acres to roam and search out wild food. I'll be teaching as I go, so it will be fun to pass along the information to other people besides my very attentive husband.

And good news! I'm heading back to school again. Finally going to finish my pre-med degree so that I can begin the long process of applying to medical schools. Things have suddenly turned around! Thank you to my angel for offering to pay for my last three classes. I'm the only biology and chemistry tutor at my school that has been attending classes and honor society meetings for TEN YEARS. LOL

That's all folks. Keep those neural pathways exercised.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Regaining control of my yard

The turkeys have eaten everything in my yard. Gobs of medicinal and culinary herbs painstakingly gathered through my travels and inquiries over many years. My family garden where I planted all the favorite flowers of those loved ones both here and gone on. It's time to regain my yard, and control of my sanity. The turkeys will be gone and eaten up this week, as long as the heat holds off so I can butcher them in relative comfort. I will have to can most of them, since the freezer space is at a premium.

While working on my yard and landscaping, I will be building a chicken aviary with the help of my friend, a woodworker. Thank you to his wife for loaning him out to me yet again. (Good friends are like good books, you keep going back to them. This same friend will come over this weekend to help me change my brakes since my car is desperately in need of stopping power and I haven't maintained my own vehicle for 10 years or more.) Remember, ladies, every woman should know how to change a tire, and check their oil. Real women know how to change the oil and reset calipers.

Once the poultry is gone and transformed into eatable form, I will attempt to regain my yard. It's hard work and I feel for those single women out there, I know how they feel - to work a sixty hour week, come home to make dinner, clean up, drive the kids around, play games with them, help with the homework, take care of the pets, and then stay up past everyone else's bedtime to clean and try to get ahead on tomorrow's meal preparation. I will miss my stepkids desperately this summer, but it's good for them to get away right now to get away from their pain, and it will be good for me to get caught up on the deferred maintenance around here.

Stay tuned everyone. I will be taking on chores this summer such as putting on a new roof (yes, all by my lonesome... anyone want to volunteer to help me?), powerwashing the house and deck, building a new deck, building an aviary, planting a new lawn (Lord, please help this one stick), and renewing and reclaiming my gardens. Not having to worry about cooking and picking up after anyone (well, other than my other two teenagers, DSS20 and husband, of course) and shopping for food will do wonders for my to do list.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wild foods season is here

I'm back. Took a long time off. Sorry all.

It's elderflower fritter time. I have been searching out the best bushes for years now, and I have them recorded in my GPS device so I can just find them when I need them. Doing that with all my wild foods.

1 C flour, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t baking powder, 3/4 c milk, 2 eggs, beat all together, dip flowers, fry. Make sure not to eat the green stems.

Also, milkweed flower buds can still be had. Daylily flowers, pickerel weed, ramps, yum yum yum. Cattails are coming soon. Sadly, Japanese knotweed is past. However, the daisy leaves are still good and you can still get some salad greens such as stinging nettle or goosefoot.

I'll start posting again now that the season is here and I have more time.