I have created some beautiful things over this past year. With my hands. With my spirit. With my body. The latter that I speak of is of course Clara who is celebrating a year earthside today. Happy Birthday, Magic Baby. Other things that I’ve created have been as simple as a crocheted shawl, my favorite new apron made from some of my grandma’s old linens (stains and all~ stains that I cherish. After all, they hold stories of their own.) I’ve created beautiful herbal salves that I’ve gifted to others and used to heal my family. I’ve created friendships and bonds of sisterhood through my work at The Wild Soul. I’ve created meals, quilts, dolls. I’ve created memories. All in all I’d say it has been a wonderful and bountiful year.
And for everything this “maker” has made, I’ve learned an awful lot about loss and letting go. Whether they be physical objects, plans or goals, or even grand illusions of myself. Even people. Sometimes the releasing process is easier than I expected it to be. Other times I think on it day after day and still feel the empty spaces left behind.
Some of the people I’ve “lost” I’ve not actually lost at all~ my eldest child (and best friend coincidentally) left home leaving me so sad yet so proud as she makes her way in the big bold world. She continues to amaze me as she grows further along into her Self. My dear friend and neighbor moved away having taught me so much about opening my door to life and receiving love and community. She helped me remember what it was like to have and be a “next door neighbor”. I miss her so freaking much. I’m proud that she’s doing her thing though and just going for it. (Lessons for us all.) Super grateful that both these gems of women are just a phone call away.
I lost my grandmother. The matriarch of my family. She was the anchor that kept us grounded and the lighthouse that called us home. Her loss is felt more deeply of course because she has left the earth. My Papa suffers from dementia so we must experience her loss over and over again as he is continually reminded she is gone. Even as I write these words I feel grief welling up inside of me and there is no choice but to feel it and move on.
I’ve been witness to others losses as well. Connecting as human beings to that inevitable experience we all share.
I’ve let go of the illusion of control, as Clara has been sick time after time and no matter how I’ve tried I couldn’t seem to “fix” her. This is still a lesson as we do everything we can to find solutions. And through all of this the lessons keep coming. Opportunities for growth while practicing non attachment continue to present themselves. My connection to Leelu and even my husband has faltered as I’ve struggle through this year of loss. My relationship to my spunky 4 year old is stretched thin and I try everyday to mend it. No one told me that having a second child so close to the previous one would be heart breaking on so many levels. And I know now it is not just me. And I also know it shall pass. And it shall heal. It doesn’t make it easier to live it though. It has led to further letting go of the parts of myself~ the parts outside of myself that I can control. My work with The Wild Soul is on hold indefinitely as I learn my most important work ~the most beautiful creation I make~ is my home. My family. Because at the end of the day only one thing matters. When I ask myself, Did they feel LOVED today? The answer must be YES.
So as these dark spaces come down upon us fully, I am reminded of my shadow. I remember that the dark spaces are necessary. I am reminded that the trees must lose their leaves and bring their attention within. They must focus on their foundation, their roots, so that they can reemerge when their time comes again. And as this old calendar year fades away to the new, and the days gradually begin to regain momentum after the deepest, darkest night of the cycle, I make way for things to shine brighter and illuminate that which may not have been clear before.
I have heard of a practice that people do in place of the typical “new year’s resolution”, and that is to choose one word. One word that acts as a Mantra of sorts, a prayer, or a point of focus for the new year. I’m going to ride along on the bandwagon, but as is typical Brandi fashion, I’ll change it to suit.
My word (of course) is LOVE. My Mantra is “Soften to Love.”
And my three expressions of that love are these:
FAMILY~ Did they feel Loved today? (through my thoughts, my words, my actions)
HOME~ Did I create Love in my surroundings? (through the care and attention of my space, the beautifying, simplifying, and pure gratitude of my home)
SELF~ Did I nurture myself in some way, so that I may continue to nurture others. In other words, Did I fill my cup, too?
I know that I will continue to feel loss so that I may continue to be present and feel gratitude. The numbers passing on the calendar are just symbolic of change. The old year fading away making space for the new. What we choose to take from it is what matters. There is never an excuse to pass up an opportunity for growth. An opportunity for more love.
And as the darkness is at its deepest, my wish for you is that you take time to rest in the shadows. Light a candle and reflect on what is passing away. Each day that dawns new is another chance to Love. From here on, the light begins to grow, and your shadows will begin to take shape and your truth shall be illuminated.
The Love inside of you, inside of us all grows steadily brighter with the growing light.
As each day expands, so shall we.
Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy ALL Holy-days.
And a very Love filled new year.
What a beautiful weekend to celebrate the return of the Autumn season. We welcomed guests for the 3rd annual Urban Homestead Tour sponsored by Buckley’s Homestead Supply and Colorado Springs Urban Homesteading. There was an obvious change in this year’s conversation compared to the first tour. Whether it be chickens or gardens or goats, almost everyone that came through already had a piece of something or other going on in their neck of the woods. Urban homesteading and backyard farming are no longer anomalies. What a beautiful thing! I didn’t get any pictures from the tour this year but I’d like to thank everyone that came out. It was a joy and we can’t wait to see what you’re up to next year!
Meanwhile, another season is upon us and though the sun still shines down brightly, I am loving the cooler mornings and the signs of fall at my door. Though our food harvest is not large this year, we’ve gratefully lived and learned through yet another Colorado gardening season. We produced the most beautiful and tasty carrots I’ve ever experienced and eaten enough mustard greens to make even the toughest palette weep. Our hives are strong and I have good faith that they’ll make it through Winter and our goats and chicken are happy and healthy. Mostly in this time of harvest I am grateful for the community of family and friends that have been gathered. We are truly and beautifully coming together to create the Village. I love you. Thank you for your awesomeness.
Who knows where we’ll be this time next year. You might see us on the 4th annual Homestead Tour or visit us for a cob workshop on a bit more land. But what I do know is this: We’ll be working harder. We’ll be growing wiser. We will be waking everyday with gratitude and loving each other the best we can.
Happy Fall, Y’all.
Dig Deep. Share Joy. Live Inspired.
Susun Weed, herbalist and wise woman extraordinaire, refers to Plantain as “Plain Amazing”, though says that this humble plant prefers to be known as just “Plain Plantain”.
Recently I’ve been finding my path back to herbalism a joyful one. I take a walkabout and greet familiar herbs as old friends. Truly, it seems that once you establish a relationship with these plants (plants that most of my neighbors would deem noxious weeds), they become pieces of beauty and sources of hope in my everyday. Plantain has been that for me these last few weeks.
Known to many Native tribes as “White Man’s Foot” or “Englishman’s Foot” because it seemed to spring up wherever the early white settlers traveled, it was used to treat wounds of the skin like inflammation, cuts, and bruising, as well as for drawing out splinters and poison. They also used it internally to treat coughs, colds and bronchitis. The Navajo said Plantain is one of the life medicines. I like that. They would also use it in ceremony for protection.
Plantain is literally everywhere. Just look down. You can generally find one kind or another growing somewhere nearby. Here in Colorado it shows up early May and generally continues to spring up until August or later. We have two varieties in my yard. Broadleaf, which dominates, and a few Ribwort. The latter of which I wish we had more of because its thin leaves are useful band-aids. Most experts say either variety can be used for soothing irritated skin, (i.e. bug bites, rashes) and healing cuts and scrapes, among many other things.
The easiest way to utilize this amazing herb is as a “spit” poultice, which is just like it sounds. Grab a couple leaves, chew them slightly and apply to affected area. Wrap with a cloth or bandage, (or use the Ribwort leaf and the very stingy fiber to tie it on) and reapply every few hours. Plantain is awesome because it heals from the inside out. It will actually keep the wound open until all of the harmful matter inside is gone.
Dried Plantain will work as well, but fresh is best. I’m currently preparing an infusion for an ointment out of olive oil and fresh picked leaves. I started it on July’s full Thunder moon and will let it infuse until August’s new moon, allowing approximately 6 weeks to extract its magic. I’ll either keep it as an oil or add some beeswax to make a salve. It should keep for about a year. I’ll use it for skin conditions like diaper rash on the baby, itchy rashes or bites, cuts and scrapes, and for drawing out stingers or splinters.
This “plain plantain” is no slouch. She’s kinda the Goddess of wild plants in my book. Again, I’d say that fresh is best, but drying the leaves to keep around for winter colds and coughs could be wise. Plantain is taken internally to treat respiratory illnesses, bronchial infections and pneumonia. John Gallagher considers Plantain on of the “big 3″ for easily found healers, along with Dandelion and Chickweed. He spins a quote that says, “The laying on of leaves is very powerful medicine.” I love that. Another herbalist, Jim McDonald, says that Plantain is great for digestive health and when combined with Slippery Elm is good for leaky gut. He also suggests it for UTI especially when used with Cornsilk.
On the folklore side of things (we are Folkways Farm, after all) Plantain is an herb of Venus and was an important element in numerous charms and love divinations. In old German lore, Plantain embodied the souls who still sought the light after entering the Underworld. It’s hung in the home and car as an herb of protection.
“Plantain has a compassionate stability that finds opportunity for growth in every situation.” Hmm… we should all strive to live like Plantain.
In short: Plantain should be your go to first aid herb. If you’re outside in nature (as you should be), there is always a possibility for some kind of scratch, sting or sunburn. Use Plantain. That’s what she’s there for. And please, get to know her other healing properties. She’s got dozens, and is a safe herb in general that can be taken regularly.
And of course, Plantain is an excellent edible, best when the leaves are picked young. Chocked full of usefuls (B, C, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron and Potassium), it’s a must add if you’re out picking yard greens.
My husband and I are makers of things. Give me a sewing machine and some fabric and I can make you anything you want. Pretty much My husband is the same with a pile of wood and a jigsaw. Or a pile of clay and sand for that matter. (www.coloradocob.org) Even granite and a tile saw. You get the point.
He can do anything.
This works out quite well for me.
We have a list of tasks that are underway in this teeny home of ours. Many projects lie in our future, for even when we move on to the big farm, this little homestead will serve someone else quite well. We are constantly trying to make it better and more liveable for our growing family. The kitchen is ALWAYS undergoing some change. My next kitchen will be the heart of my home. I will sleep in it. No, really.
This is our most recent undertaking:
These shelves have gone through many incarnations. They used to be this bulky hutch type thing that we tore apart when we gutted the living room. This new phase is my favorite yet, and I believe will make a huge difference in our food storage system. This was their destiny, in fact. I’m sure of it. They so perfectly fit 1/2 gallon, quart, and pint mason jars. From the living room side I can see the contents of all of our grains, beans, herbs, flours, etc. I can see how full things are and when I need to refill. From the kitchen side I plan on chalkboard painting all of the lids so I can switch them up when I need to. I’ll label them all and organize them just so, easy peasy grab and go. I am crazy excited to get going on this.
It will take awhile to empty out the drawers and cabinets of dried food and herbs that will fill the shelves, but eventually it will happen. That will open up those spaces for dishes and such. Sigh, I can almost breathe again. This is all a part of the decluttering process. It’s a welcome addition to this little place.
A big fat thank you to my awesome hubby. Bulk storage shelves~ Check.
On to the next item on the honey-do list!
Niko was away this weekend, sharing his expertise on a cob cottage a few hours away. That left the girls and I to tend the home and farm. Daisy stuck around for the mornings so I didn’t have to take the littles to the barn for milking. Leelu is fine to wander in and out but I don’t like Clara having to breathe in all the hay and dust.
I’m continuously learning about being a parent. It’s truly an every day ~no, scratch that~ an every moment journey. Lessons of simplicity and the real juice of what matters. When it comes down to it, there isn’t much to really choose from in the tasks of living. There is feeding- humans and animals. There is sleeping. Everything else comes in as it can (even bathing, yep). Playing outside wins over inside during any sort of tolerable weather. Dishes, vacuuming, etc. all are moved to the back burner, to be done when there is time for “other”, which there is not much of. Household chores are attempted to be brought into family activity, as they should be. My littles will learn alongside me, I hope, and with joy not drudgery.
That’s one thing I’m working on. If I cannot have a positive attitude toward the task at hand, I must stop and move on to something else until my outlook has changed. I want to be that better, gracious person for my family.
Niko and I have talked about certain projects we’d like to take on in our homesteading life. Some are simple and straightforward. Others, more difficult. Eliminating packaging is a big one. Even buying in bulk comes with plastic most times. We’re working towards our own glass containers, and sewing my own cloth grain bags, all doable. Just need to set aside the time to get it in order.
A task I’ve set for myself is to re-establish my connection and relationship with healing herbs, starting with the ones in my own front yard. For the next couple weeks I’ll be focusing on Plantain, one of my favorites for its wild and unruly nature. This beautiful healer was known as “white man’s foot” by the first people, because it seemed to pop up where their feet disturbed the earth, which was practically everywhere. My friend Jen is going to take me on my first field trip to Costco tomorrow so I can buy a bulk amount of organic olive oil. I want to make a strong oil infusion of Plantain leaves before they disappear so we can benefit from her magic through the year. I’ll chronicle that journey as it unfolds. I see liniments and salves in our future.
Today is Monday and Niko and I have decided to try and give me this time every week without the kids for whatever it is that I need. One of the things I’d like to commit to is this. Folkways. Just a little touch in. No guarantee or pressure. But I’m going to try my best.
It still baffles me how people keep up with blogs. Parents especially. How. Do. You. Do. It? Seriously. There are those with more kids than I, more chores, more every day tasks of living that still manage to hold their own in cyberspace.
Obviously I am not one of them.
I’m not giving up, though. I’ve got something to contribute and eventually this little online hub of Folkways will have its rhythm. Until then, I’ll do what I can. Right now, this little check in (while the kids are napping) is what I can.
Summer is in full bloom here and we all find it hard to stay inside and in front of any kind of screen. Nature is too glorious to befriend and the sun on our skin feels like heaven. We’ll soak in what we can until the seasons change once again. Change is a key word around here, as it always seems to be. Change and contentment. Daisy has graduated and will soon move on to grand Daisy things. Leelu is a force to be reckoned with as she grows into daddy’s best sidekick and her own perfect little version of herself (almost 4 now). Clara just hit the 6 month mark and is beyond adorable. This may be my favorite baby stage. All smiles and grabby hands. She’s teething right now though so we’re not sleeping so great. Niko is beautiful and brilliant. As always. He’s spending the summer focused on the dirt (www.coloradocob.org) and away from the computer. That’s good for me because having him outside means things actually happen out there. I’m not so productive these days. I have 15 minutes here 15 minutes there. It’s an amazing thing what that man can accomplish. I’m thankful.
We just took a much needed road trip to my hometown in Florida. We are lucky to have some pretty awesome farmer friends, because when you live the farm life, even the urban style, vacations are few and far between. This wasn’t a vacation per say, as much as a quick visit to love on my grandparents. I love them so. It’s been 5 years + since we’ve been home so it was a first meeting for the little ones. It was a very special trip and I will cherish it.
It’s time to refocus on life now. There’s much to do. We’ll see how well I can touch in here. Thanks for hanging in with me.
There are those that say you are lucky to get one task checked off (outside of baby) in a day when you have a newborn in the house. I am indeed one of those. Thank goodness for the husband because while the house remains mostly chaotic, at least the farm animals are still alive. (Though yesterday he forgot to open one of the chicken coops until dusk ~ Yep. It seems even daddy gets baby brain.)
And when there is a toddler thrown into the mix… oh lawdy. Parents of multiple children, I Salute Thee.
So with the toddler (pretending) to nap and the baby sleeping (on top of me), what shall be my task of choice? To write. I could do the dishes. Sweep the floor. Sort the laundry. So many of the undone piling up. But no, I am choosing to spend time here, with my thoughts on paper to be typed up for you later (which is now). I can mindlessly fold clothes, but when my brain actually calls to be of use to something other than poop, I must respond my picking up the pen.
How’s that for an intro?
We are mid January now, so says my new taproot calendar, and really if it wasn’t for an upcoming workshop I was leading I would only barely know what day it was. Winter. That is what I would tell you. Outside the snow is coming down in droves. It’s beautiful. Last week the snow covered the ground for a whopping 3 days before it began to melt. How very rare for Colorado Springs and especially for the last few weeks where we have been experiencing the most bi-polarist weather yet. I’m over it. Just be winter already.
Our tree stares at me from a few feet away, sparkling in its beauty, waiting for the Holiday we have yet to celebrate. Soon, I promise.
And while certain things have been put on hold or left at a stand still, others are moving forward so rapidly we have to hold on because they will surely continue without us.
My workshop is in less than 2 weeks. 15 beautiful women entrusting me with their souls, while presently my own is adrift in the throes of motherhood. I know when the time comes, all will be well.
Niko is pursuing brilliance, as usual. He has a full cobbing schedule for this year and is planning some very exciting mud additions on our own homestead. For so long we’ve put off any remodeling or expansion to our old house because of the “big farm” dream, but now that things have changed again we shall really get back on track with our “Start Where You Are” focus, which of course, yes, we have been doing these many years, but shall revisit with deeper dedication. The dream farm WILL come. But we are here now and we will grow here first.
Baby is waking and toddler is crying. Must go.
As always, it’s been real, y’all. Thanks for listening.
The last day of 2014. I look back upon this year and know exactly where it went. Though time seemed to travel at warp speed, I know that it was just the same as any other year, just lived differently.
If I was to sum up the year passing in one word I would use “Strength”. It started out with strength as I was empowered as a woman and a teacher through other amazing women and truly saw into the power of sisterhood. I experienced the most difficult pregnancy of my 3 and witnessed a new strength in my husband, and grew stronger through the support of friends and family. I brought forth a strength that grew from release both due to the child I carried and the expectation of a dream that Niko and I mourned when that particular vision of it fell away, and strength of trust that all was as it should be for our future. And finally the strength in motherhood, as I delivered this sweet little girl into the hands of her father and aunt, while witnessing their own as they had full trust in receiving her.
I am excited about the turn of this calendar year as we have beautiful yet simple adventures on our horizon. I am grateful for the passing of one chapter to the next and grateful for the opportunities that this past year has brought me to learn from and grow.
I’ve never been one for resolutions at the new year. Perhaps because I recognize it passing with the end of the Harvest Season and the Solstice, and those bring with them their own traditions. But this year my sister Carrie Jo inspired me by her intention to leave things behind. She said instead of going into 2015 with expectations of goals, she would choose things not to take with her. I found this brilliant and very symbolic of the Solstice season we just past. And I thought I would do something similar that combined a bit of both.
What I’m leaving behind:
Fear. Anger. Expectations.
What I will bring in more of:
Love. Compassion. Trust. Courage. Patience. Joy.
I will welcome each day with this question:
“What will I do with this opportunity to love, trust, etc….?”
I will respond to challenges in the same way:
“What will I do with this opportunity for compassion, patience, etc…?”
I also saw an idea on Facebook (of course) that I shared with Daisy, and I think I’ll try for this because it stirs up gobs of gratitude, of which I’m a big fan. Throughout the new year, write down little things that happen that make you happy and put them in a jar. At the end of the 2015, take them out and review them to remind yourself of the beauty that unfolded in your year, no matter how simple… Things like your husband scraping your windshield, your neighbor bringing you food when your family was sick, your child’s first step, the turning of the leaves… sweet and simple things can remind us of the joys of being human and alive.
It’s hard to believe on days like today, that the Solstice is barely a week away. Though I suppose in Colorado we have more Winter days like this than many, which is one of the reasons I manage here. Having experienced many winters all over this country, and being originally a Southern bred Florida girl, Colorado seasons are preferred. I do love living with the seasons and though I can survive harsh winters, I much prefer mild ones such as these.
The Winter Solstice is my favorite Holy-day. Not just for the promise of light that it brings, but for the time of reflection that it offers. An opportunity to soak in the deep dark pool of darkness that is nurturing, healing, and transformational.
This year I need all 3.
The birth of our newest baby is any day now. It’s been a very challenging 9 months. Many changes have occurred and we’ve had to adapt and change with it. Dreams have been thrown asunder, leaving us with torn emotions and much contemplation. We’re still not exactly sure where we stand as the ground beneath our feet has been so shaken. But we are ok. Again, we are adapting. And relying on faith and trust to know that things are as they should be.
Right now we are enjoying each others company and preparing for this baby. Adding another human being to our tiny home, transforming our space as best we can to accommodate. After the baby comes, we’ll have Leelu and Daisy decorate a tree, something fun and exciting for the Little to look forward to when it might get difficult for her emotionally. New baby and all, sharing mommy. Though it will be a mild celebration this year, I am looking forward to it.
In other news Niko is looking forward to delving deeper into his cob work come Spring and I’ll be leading another session of Women’s Empowerment Workshops in February. It will be an emotional movement for me with a newborn, but all is well.
2015 is going to be a Live Big kinda year. I can feel it.
A blessed holiday season to you and yours.