Journal

What is it like to be you?

What is it like to be you?  We inhabitants of planet earth could do well to continually ask this question.

To the opposing side, the ones who are “surely in the wrong”:  What is it like to be you?

To the microscopic sea creatures, the bleached out coral reefs, the seagull who has swallowed too many discarded plastic bits: What is it like to be you?

To the coal miners, the line men, the operators of fracking sites and off shore oil rigs, the families who depend on fossil fuels and all the systems that are steeped in acquiring the earth’s underground resources, selling them, and using them: What is it like to be you?  Continue reading “What is it like to be you?”

Prairie Wind

A trip to South Dakota.  Coming home, here, to the prairie, a place where I go when I don’t know what else to do; where I go when I need to reset and reclaim my center. A place to be absorbed back into the land that taught me how to be alive, how to pay attention, how to see beauty in the ordinary, in the fleeting. Somehow it’s a place of enchantment and magic, even as the population and sprawl grows, as I get older, as the trees get bigger while others fall, as fences and houses go up where I used to roam free.  Under all of that remains the hummus of my youth. I may never live here permanently again, yet part of me will always be found here on this prairie hillside. Continue reading “Prairie Wind”

Remembering How To Live

The real challenge is, and has always been, remembering how to live. ~Ian Mackenzie

This morning the thermometer on the back deck says -9 when I walk into the kitchen to feed the cats after rolling out of bed.  I haven’t been getting up in a very timely manner lately: No work schedule, the sun not rising until 7:50am, plus frigid temperatures means there’s not a lot of incentive for getting up early.  At some point, this will probably shift, but for now, it is what it is.  I’m trying not to fight with myself over the little things. But this lack of routine is throwing me off balance, and sometimes I feel like I have forgotten how to live in the modern world of appointments, deadlines, meetings, phone calls, and quality assurance programs. Continue reading “Remembering How To Live”

Year In Review: Really?

Yes, this is a post about 2016, a classic “year in review” run-down, a “hey look at me, this is what happened in my life” kind of post.  Because this is my website, so I can do this sort of thing.  If you have a website, maybe you can do the same.  If you don’t have a website, you could even do this on a piece of paper.  The point is to find the clarity in the messes, the good among the catastrophe, and the pattern that flows through the chaos.

Danielle LaPorte posed five questions to herself, and they seem like good ones to ask as I reflect on the past year.  So I’ll go ahead and borrow them — here they are: Continue reading “Year In Review: Really?”

Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn

Yesterday I took to the woods in the afternoon.  It’s the first week in about ten years when I don’t have any sort of schedule.  There is no work calendar hovering in the background, I’m not on vacation for a certain amount of time, there are no appointments to plan around.  I’m a free agent, at least for now.  So I did what I do when I can do whatever I want – I went to the woods.

Going to the woods is what I tend to do when I am feeling melancholy, unsure, anxious, or angry.  It’s a place to go when I’m grieving, wondering, lamenting, or stewing about something outside of my control.  Basically, going to the woods (or prairie, or ocean, or any other natural area) is healing.  It’s a place to go in celebration as well, but lately, its role in my days has been one of holding space for what needs to rise from the ashes of what has recently burnt away.  Continue reading “Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn”

Prairie Grown: From Calendar to Cookbook

About five years ago, I got the idea that it might be fun to make a seasonal calendar of farm photos for my family who had just ramped up their gardening game, offering a small CSA to the community and getting back into farmer’s market selling after some time away.  And then for awhile I thought that instead of a calendar, maybe I’d make it into some sort of pamphlet, or maybe put the calendar photos together with some anecdotes from my family plus a recipe or two and have them bound at the local printing store.  And then I thought, hmm, maybe I should add another story or two, and a few more recipes and be more intentional about what photos to include.  At that point my conglomeration of stories and recipes was starting to be a little book like and I thought, “Maybe it should be a book instead of a pamphlet.” But the thought of all the design work, plus trying to format and put the content together in a way that looked right that self publishing requires was daunting, and I put the idea down for awhile.  After another year went by, I picked the project back up and explored a hybrid publisher – they do the editing, design, formatting, and printing for you if they think your work is quality enough to have on their imprint.  The catch is that there’s a steep price tag if you are accepted…..they quoted me $5, 500 to complete the project.   Ha!  Back to the drawing board. Continue reading “Prairie Grown: From Calendar to Cookbook”

A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in.  There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.)  People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old.  There are many things to lament.  But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well.  Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”

A New Better Off: Living the Good Life

Courtney E. Martin, in her new book called The New Better Off argues that our society is moving away from what was once considered “the good life.”  For years, people said things like “well, I want my kids to be better off than I was,” and often times that meant hoping those kids got a steadier job, or a nicer/bigger house, or into a better financial situation.  But perhaps there’s a cost to putting all of life’s meaning under the old definition of “better off.”  In her introduction Martin says,

…what’s more, some of the things we have associated with success actually endanger our health [and leave us unhappy.] Underneath the appearance of uplift, a complex [success] story weighs us down. This could play out in a number of ways…like when people set aside authentic career ambitions in favor of more lucrative paths; or when a father knows his colleagues better than he does his own kids; or a mother leans in so hard she falls flat on her face.  Pressure and debt, missed get togethers, living for the weekend, living someone else’s dream. “Better off” left uninterrogated, can be fucking dangerous.

Continue reading “A New Better Off: Living the Good Life”

Make America Great Again

Recently America reclaimed its preference of having a rich white man as the president, and this time he is an outspoken millionaire business man turned reality TV star who unabashedly encourages bigotry, racism, sexism, and myriad other isms and things that can potentially lead to oppression, violence, and the glorification of hatred as a viable option for change.  People who did not vote for Mr. Trump feel everything from blindsided to sorrowful to angry to depressed to resigned to hopeless.  People who did vote for him [likely] feel everything from elated to vindicated to satisfied to safe to, I daresay,  confused.  I imagine that people everywhere, no matter how they voted, or even if they didn’t vote, feel the enormity of what has been brought to the surface in the last few days.  Mr. Trump got as far as he did in the election because he feeds into all of the insecurities that a large portion of Americans have, from unemployment to national security to big government.  He feeds the fears, and fear, when fed, grows without bounds.  Unprocessed fear allows people to act in ways they wouldn’t normally act, and brings out the parts that usually stay in the shadows.  And when you can invite someone who has been afraid into feeling safe and righteous instead, even if it means inciting violence and rage, and even if they don’t agree with some (or most) of what you stand for, often times, you win their loyalty.  Continue reading “Make America Great Again”