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These Dreams…

“As a hungry man dreams of eating, but is still hungry, and as a thirsty man dreams of drinking, but is still faint from thirst when he wakes up, so your enemies will dream of victorious conquest, but all to no avail.” (Isaiah 29:8)

I am grateful for this Covid-19 shutdown.

No, I haven’t lost my marbles. I know people are sick, dying, or have lost loved ones to this pandemic. I would be an insensitive clod to be grateful for that. Far too many people also don’t know where their next meal, or rent/mortgage payment, is coming from while they wait until it is truly safe to venture out again in numbers greater than 10. Without some serious assistance from our government, which doesn’t seem to be forthcoming anytime soon, far too many people are at risk of losing their homes. I’m not grateful for that either.

What I am grateful for is the stop of nearly everything “normal” in life.

You see, somehow along the line my life got “stuck” in survival mode. It’s been driven by purpose, by necessity, by the sheer panic that a potential foreclosure can instill in someone. Yes, I write my blog, my book, take care of my animals during “normal” times. Mom and I play games together, too, when there isn’t a pandemic.

But I don’t “stop”.

I can’t remember the last time I just sat and listened to music. Not while I’m playing games or doing housework, but just sat and listened. And dreamed. I can’t remember the last time that I woke up without an alarm and got to lay there and…yes, dream. Where do I want to go? What do I really want to do this day?




Planning for the future…

During this crazy pandemic, I’ve actually been thinking about a future again. I’m looking at what I have, where I want to go, and allowing myself to dream about it…sort of like I did when I was a young girl just starting out in life with everything open before me. That is a gift, if we will only choose to look at it as such.

No, I don’t plan on wasting a whole day doing nothing but dreaming, but allowing one’s self to dream from time to time, actually opens our imagination. We start thinking about making the impossible, well, possible.

So, what do I dream about? What do I see when that imagination opens up?

Besides a few novels gracing the best sellers’ list, I’m imagining how my whole front lawn is going to look once I’m done landscaping. I’m envisioning all manner of herbs, small fruits, vegetables and flowers…a veritable food and medicinal forest. I’m seeing a stand along the roadside with cut flowers, herbs and plants for sale. I’m imagining that other half-acre fenced in and providing more ranging space for the goats, chickens and ducks. I see an agility course and several Border and Bearded Collies, and Welsh Corgis, running through lickety-split. I’m dreaming of a Great Wheel, a loom and a loom tool (another type of spinning wheel), and a number of Angora rabbits and goats providing fiber for spinning and weaving.

Sometimes, though, that dream isn’t here, but in another place…kind of murky and undefined, but larger, with room for more goats, and sheep. I see some greenhouses for growing spices, like cardamom and turmeric, year-round. I’m envisioning an aquaponics’ system and racks of microgreens and sprouts. When I’m really being far out, I see a greenhouse full of mulberries and silkworms…and the necessary apparatus for spinning their silken threads. I’m thinking of a thriving Reflexology practice–not just the occasional client–and herb classes hosted in my own extensive herb garden.

More, I dream of hosting potlucks and quiet nights spent with loved ones around a campfire.

Yes, all of this probably demands more energy, time, etc. than I have these days. This run-down, ramshackle abode has become a money pit; it would take too much to make such happen. Or would it? Maybe what it needs is simply for me to take a few more steps forward…and to really start thinking about that transition from impossible to possible.

That’s another thing to be thankful for: I have some time on my hands to do some of the work for those things I can do here and now. And I’m being honest enough with myself that I may not get all that I’d like to accomplish done, but I can certainly make a dent in it.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying not having to make a mad dash through life. We’ve got to take the silver linings where we can find them.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Stay tuned…

…our regularly scheduled program will be back as soon as I’ve finished my final exam this week! =)

Stay safe, stay healthy…May God bless you & keep you!

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Rare Indulgences

“So I decided that there was nothing better for a man to do than to enjoy his food and drink, and his job. Then I realized that even this pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy apart from Him? For God gives those who please Him wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away from him and gives it to those who please Him. So here, too, we see an example of foolishly chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

I am enjoying the luxury of long fingernails. As a Reflexologist, long nails are a no-no. Even a slight white tip on the end of a nail can put a world of hurt into the client, who has carefully put their feet (or hands) into your hands for treatment. I have been on the receiving end so I understand wholeheartedly what those long nails feel like navigating the “map” of your feet. However, in this forced shutdown, Reflexology is the no-no. It requires physical contact. So, I’ve been letting my nails grow…just because I can. I’ve stopped just short of picking up a bottle of toxic nail polish at the grocery store when next I visit it.

(Yes, we all have our vanities.)

I haven’t played guitar in ages. Picking it up again would be a much more worthy endeavor than growing my nails. And, if I was playing right now, I would be cutting my nails off so that I could actually play…and play well. However, I know that once I return to work, even if it is a part-time position, I would not be able to keep my practice up. As an online student, my classwork has not diminished and that takes precedence until I graduate later this year.

So, I’m catering to this vanity…for at least as long as we are in quarantine. Or until I get too frustrated with hitting more than one key as I type away on the keyboard in creating this blog post. It has been a long time since I’ve indulged myself with something so frivolous. And, while a part of me is saying, “Wow! Look at these hands. They actually look pretty and feminine for a change”, another part of me is also thinking, “Arrrgh! I just had to re-type that sentence twice because of these vanities.” And don’t even look at these hands after I’ve been digging in the garden dirt or, like yesterday, cleaning out a goat barn.

And, yes, the subject of this post is equally frivolous. I mean, really, what does any of this have to do with homesteading. Or herbs. Or frugality. Or social issues. What does it have to do with faith?

However, from a healing perspective, I would say that this forced shutdown has shined a light on something I typically neglect: ME. And I’m not necessarily talking about indulging a few vanities. In the last few weeks, I’ve indulged myself with the occasional nap, spent much more quality time with Mom, read some awesome books, and had time to explore some plot development for my own novel-in-the-works. Because I’m one of the lucky ones right now who has been receiving a paycheck even though I’m not at work, I can relax for a moment and simply enjoy life…albeit without the usual social interactions that constitute day-to-day life. I’ve been able to get things done on the homestead that have been pressing…and that are usually done with an underlying angst pushing me to “get ‘er done” before I have to go back to work on Monday. No, I’m not lamenting work. I like what I do at the library…and the ladies I work with; no issues there. However, I’m looking on the bright side of this pandemic and seeing all of the things I can do that I seldom have time for in “normal” times. It’s been a lot more productive an attitude than the constant worry and stress that started this shutdown…and peppered every blog post since mid-March.

Here’s to hoping that every one of you reading this is having just as restful and productive a time during this pandemic as I am. I would be delighted if you would share in the comments below how you’re using this extra leisure time. Stay safe and healthy!

May God bless you & keep you!

Animals, Appreciation, Environment, Faith, Gratitude, Healing, Herbs, Holistic Health, Homesteading, Prayer, Reflexology, Reiki, Self-esteem, Self-improvement, Touch for Health

Closer to Home

“After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you His eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. To Him be all power over all things forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10, 11)

Well, I got the job.

I’m a little stunned because it happened so fast, but it feels good to have someone believe in me so quickly. Granted, it’s part-time–at least to start–but it’s also steady income without the stress of being a temp where the proverbial rug can get pulled out from under me at any given moment. Will it be enough to turn this mortgage thing around? It’s too early to tell. If I’m being completely honest, probably not. But it’s better than “temp” and both the pay rate and the hours will increase after the 3 month probationary period. The real beauty is I’m within easy walking distance from home. That’s a significant savings on gasoline and car maintenance. It’s also healthier for both me and the planet.

Oh. I guess I am getting ahead of myself. So just what is this new job?

Funny you should ask.

The writer gets to feed her other passion: I’m the new town librarian/library clerk (positions are combined due to budgetary constraints). Soon, one of my own stories will be gracing their shelves. For now, I get to be surrounded by others’ literary works, the printed page, the smell of crisp-musty miracles…for isn’t the imagination a miracle in itself?

And, while I may have part-time hours (at least in the beginning), I don’t intend to be idle. I have long dreamed of having a designated space for giving treatments in Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health. Most spas, health clubs, and even some doctor’s offices, rent space for holistic health treatments but there’s usually a rent on the space. In northeastern Connecticut, that rent averages around $300-$400 a month. And, despite the expense, the space isn’t all yours. You have to share it with others in the field so that your own personal stamp cannot be marked. I dream of hosting on-going food drives to help support the local food pantries and giving people a discount on their treatments when they bring in valid non-perishables and even pet food for the animal shelters. I long to host prayer meetings and maybe start a writer’s workshop. It will also be classroom space for when I finally have my garden landscaped for teaching herbs. I have the space. It just requires some elbow grease to make it happen.

So that’s where I am tonight.

There is some sorrow mixed. I had high hopes that the temp position I’m currently working would become permanent (or semi-permanent; there’s no such thing as a permanent job). I’ve been working with some incredibly awesome people, many of whom have become friends. But I’ve also been feeling a little like the horse having the carrot dangled before him: promises of a sweet reward that I can never obtain. I can’t catch up on my finances with promises. I need steady. And I’m putting my trust firmly in Him that whatever decision I make in this endeavor is exactly the right one to align with His plans for me, that I’m right where He wants me to be.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Plans and Resolutions

“He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him. That is why he is not afraid, but can calmly face his foes.” (Psalms 112:7-8)

Is it boldness or foolishness that has me saying, “I’m doing it this year!” when things seem so uncertain? I suppose it depends on your viewpoint.

Of course, what does “doing it” mean exactly? Besides working on–and, hopefully, completing–my book, I’m looking to open my own holistic health center. I have visions of starting small by offering treatments in Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health, and eventually, growing into herbal consultations, workshops and classes. I’m seeing a greenhouse in a few years for growing spices and warmth-loving herbs like turmeric and cardamom. I’m seeing microgreens and sprouts. Cut flowers. A large walking wheel (spinning wheel) and a smaller bobbin winder spinning wheel and a loom. I’m seeing straw hats made from rye straw I hope to grow myself eventually. And beehives buzzing with healthy activity.

On a humbler note, I’m also seeing prayer meetings. Food and clothing drives. A community center where all are welcome…no matter where you come from, your beliefs, the color of your skin, your orientation, or socio-economic status. Having been down and out so long, I am well aware of how so many people are struggling today. Giving back in some way would be a blessing.

No, it won’t all happen this year but I keep waiting until I’m better settled, so to speak. Maybe He’s telling me to trust Him to just take a few initial steps. Do what I can right now with what I have. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I just need to take the steps…despite my quivering insides and doubting Thomas beliefs about myself.

The worst thing that can happen is I may lose the house in another year.

There are contingency plans of possible relocation to a less expensive part of the country. I’m not really happy at the prospect; I’d rather stay close to family and friends, my church community, etc. I’m not sure how I’ll do in a strange place. But maybe He’s asking me to step outside that comfort zone.

He usually does. It’s up to me, again, to trust Him with the outcome.

However, I refuse to make a resolution; I’m liable to break it on principle. And, I believe it was Mother Teresa who said, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” These are all just suggestions…along with the open heart and mind to whatever possibilities He has in store. Here’s to some first steps.

May God bless you & keep you!

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We’re Hurting…It’s THAT Simple

“I walked by the field of a certain lazy fellow and saw that it was overgrown with thorns, and covered with weeds; and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked, I learned this lesson: ‘A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest’ means that poverty will break in upon you suddenly like a robber, and violently like a bandit” (Proverbs 24:28-34)

My overgrown yard is intentional. Any thorns found come from stands of wild blackberries that I allow to grow–albeit with some pruning and careful maintenance to keep them from completely overtaking everything else–and the “weeds” are actually wild herbs like mullein (Verbascum thapsis), dandelion (Taraxicum officinalis) and red clover (Trifolium pratense), all of which have medicinal properties and are allowed to grow for that reason.

However, the above piece of Scripture does play into the common mindset about a yard that is seemingly unkempt: that the person who lives in that particular home is lazy. We never stop to consider that they are struggling in some way. They could be elderly with no children or grandchildren to help them (or maybe it’s their kids and grandkids who are too lazy/busy to help…). They could be disabled. They could be overwhelmed with bigger responsibilities–like an aging parent, whose home they are taking care of in absence of their own. Maybe they’re single and struggle to keep up alone. They could be a young couple fallen on hard times…or an aging couple with health issues. And, in each of these cases, they likely cannot afford to hire out. There are myriad reasons why someone’s home may not be ready for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens‘ magazine. Yet we judge…as the author of this Proverb did.

No, it’s not really a criticism of the Bible itself. I’m guessing, because He knows our hearts, that the subject who prompted this Proverb was truly a lazy body and slept all day, not getting a lick of work done. And, in my present struggles, I can honestly admit to allowing overwhelm and despair to win-out in the ambition department, from time to time, as I struggle to get back on my financial feet. But we cannot use this Scripture to judge every single soul whose dwelling is less than our stellar expectations. Such a judgment smacks of, well, judgment but also, materialism.

Who decided what is “pristine” and what is “unkempt” in our society? Why does the rolling green, blunt-cut lawn, with its host of chemicals polluting our soil, our water supply, even the air we breathe, constitute acceptable when the unkempt space, one that seldom sees even a carbon monoxide-guzzling lawnmower, equals unacceptable? That pristine lawn, sadly, smacks of prestige. It’s a carryover from the English monarchy who had rolling green lawns surrounding their estates. However, England’s climate is more suitable for such…without the costly (in both dollars and environmental costs) expense of maintaining that lawn.

And, sadly, this mindset carries over into every other aspect of our lives. How often–and I’m owning my bad in this department myself–do we judge that person because they’re standing in line at a food pantry or breadline? By the low-income neighborhood they live in? By the clothes they wear? The car they drive? Or the public transportation they use because they can’t (or refuse to) afford the cost of an auto of their own? How often do we make assumptions based upon religion, color of skin, gender identity, country of origin, or even one’s weight? How often do we write a chapter of another person’s story with our judgments and assumptions?

Back in 2008, I worked three jobs + treated clients in Reflexology, Reiki, and Touch for Health to stay afloat. I lost the first part-time gig in late-2008, the full-time, corporate position in November 2009, and six months’ later, the part-time gig at a laundromat. This was during the economic crash. My clients also felt the pain of that crisis and stopped coming in for treatments. Thankfully, President Obama extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks while struggling to create jobs for people. We’re only now starting to feel the benefits of those efforts…and we’re still seeing mostly part-time, minimum wage, seasonal and/or temporary positions (at least here in New England). However, even with the extension of benefits, I was forced to live off of my 401K while I continued to search for work to sustain me and mine. I found plenty of the aforementioned part-time gigs but they haven’t been enough to keep me afloat. I was forced to rely on mortgage assistance for a number of years. Finally, in 2017, I found a full-time position. It required a long commute, which ate up any money I might’ve been able to save for a rainy day, and was barely above minimum wage, but I loved what I did. The mortgage assistance had just run out, and I had made my first full mortgage payment without the assistance, when I slipped on the ice and fractured my shoulder. Now I’m behind on mortgage payments again…and it doesn’t look good. I worked a seasonal job throughout the summer. Now I’m working a temporary position, which looks promising on the full-time spectrum, but I’m not banking on anything yet.

Even if I get the position, there’s no guarantee that my mortgage company will do another modification to get me right-side up again. So I’m socking away every spare penny I can earn to try to keep foreclosure from happening…but it’s not easy. And I’ll admit to being scared down to the very tips of my toes. I feel like I’m in a race that maybe I can’t win.

Maybe He doesn’t want me to win this one. Maybe He wants me to relocate. Maybe He has plans for me to be somewhere else and that’s why I’m no longer thriving here.

I get asked that one a lot: why don’t you move if things are so rough where you are?

The answer is simple: if I had the kind of money it would require to start over, I would also have the kind of money I need to catch up on my mortgage. And, with everything in default, how likely are my chances of buying another property in another state where I don’t have any job at all? And rents are just as prohibitive. This is a farm. I have animals to consider. I have my elderly mother living with me. Trust me…the free spirit would love to find land somewhere, put up a tiny cabin and live completely off-grid. Maybe, as I save and squirrel everything away, if push comes to shove, I’ll have enough to buy that piece of land.

But that’s a big “if”. I’m not banking on that either.

So I’m hurting right now. And the blog posts have been spotty at best. I feel like they’ve been a constant variation on the same theme most of this year, and if I hate redundancy, I don’t wish to bore my readers by catering to redundancy…in any form. So, I’ve refrained.

But maybe that’s where I’m wrong.

Writing this blog post this morning has actually been a sort of therapy. I can pour out my heart. And, while it may backlash somewhere along the way, or repel others (I’m thinking of that breadline I mentioned in the beginning…), I’m laying myself open anyway in the hopes that someone will read this and know of a resource I hadn’t considered that might help me get back up and running. Keep me in your prayers. Or, at the very least, please share the Go Fund Me campaign link that I’ve included below. Perhaps it will reach the right person willing and able to help…with my heart-felt gratitude for each and every prayer, share, suggestion, etc.

We’re not meant to struggle alone. We’re meant to be a community. Yet, when we’re hurting like this, we tend to retreat inward…as I have been doing. Though I cannot see the faces of my readers, my head is down in shame that somehow I have brought this all upon myself. Somehow, I caused a financial crisis throughout a whole nation…or intentionally hurt myself so I could “get a little more sleep, a little more slumber” and fold my “hands to rest”. But there is no rest in my heart right now…only angst.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Gratitude for Community

“Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2)

I’m feeling so grateful today. My church community is helping out with my situation and words cannot describe how grateful I am. There’s been an onslaught of emotions: hope, joy, relief…and, yes, even a little shame and embarrassment. The last vestiges of an attempt to hang onto pride…or maybe the adversary’s feeble attempts to keep pride’s hold on me.

But Jesus will always be stronger. God’s got this. So, take that, adversary!

There’s something to be said for community. Maybe that is the lesson He wants me to learn (above and beyond the pride thing…).

I’ve always dreamed of living like a hermit in the woods, the whole “Walden” thing. My dream home is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, and living like it’s still the 19th century. Maybe there’s something to it. Solitude and simplicity are needed for a healthy life balance, but without fellowship with others, what’s the point? And even Henry David Thoreau wrote about visitors to his little cabin in the woods. We need both. If I can hang on to this place, or if He wants me to sock this money away for a potential move, either way, I want my homestead to be a welcoming place: for family gatherings; for friends sitting around a campfire at night; for prayer meetings; for knitting, sewing, quilting circles; for clients to have their treatments; for hosting classes about herbs, 19th century skills, and no-dig gardening…and even a refuge for those caught in the eye of their own personal storms.

I’ve blogged before about how I crave solitude like flowers crave the sun and rain. And it’s true. I’m the classic introvert. Too many people, too often, and I start to feel a little sick at heart. I retreat inward. Not because I’m anti-social, but because that’s how it is for an introvert. For an introvert, too much social time quickly becomes overwhelming. We enjoy time with our loved ones, and even strangers, but the introvert greatly needs that balance between solitude and socialization to keep recharging.

However, over the last decade, I’ve taken solitude to a whole new level. Some of it has been the 2 years of unemployment, followed by 8 years of severe underemployment. When socializing equals an event that requires an entrance fee, I’ve often had to reconsider. Some of it though–most of it–has been the depression that often comes with that same unemployment/underemployment. Due to a lack of steady and adequate funds, the house, the grounds, even myself, have started looking neglected. There’s also a lot of emotional baggage attached from the last “romantic” relationship I was in, that was anything but romantic, that has had me drawing the curtains tight and shutting out the world.

And, boy, does the adversary feed on that!

In many ways, though I’m not living in the middle of nowhere, I’ve allowed myself to become almost as isolated as if I was living in the middle of nowhere. And isolation is defeating. The neglect becomes indifference becomes more depression becomes more neglect becomes more indifference…until the effort to dig yourself out of this vicious cycle becomes so overwhelming, you don’t know where to turn, where to start. That’s where the hopelessness sets in.

And loneliness.


Even bitterness.

Thank God, literally, for the fellowship He’s blessed me with! It started with certain friends and co-workers reaching out with a helping hand over the last several months. This time, it was a church member who saw my Go Fund Me campaign and brought it to the attention of our priest. And, truly, though the financial help is a blessing and appreciated, the true blessing is knowing how many people out there care enough to help. I’m overwhelmed…but in a good way.

I’ve been sitting back here, feeling sorry for myself, indulging the adversary with my “cares” and “woes” and getting nowhere in life. Today I’m feeling hope for the first time in a very long time. Yes, there’s still a risk of losing the homestead. I still missed the deadline for the second installment on the modification trial period and I don’t know where that leaves me. However, I’m that much closer to meeting the back payments owed. Or to engaging an attorney who can help me get back on track again. It’s help to tide us over until I’m working again…or to help us start over on a new homestead. I’m leaving it in His hands to decide, praying for His guidance regarding the best course of action.

Our God truly is an awesome God. Thank you! To everyone who has been moved to help, to share, to pass along the information. I don’t feel quite so alone anymore. And that’s the greatest blessing of all.

I hope everyone reading this is as blessed with community as I am.

May God bless you & keep you!