YouTube Junkie

“We toss the coin, but it is the Lord who controls its decision.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Who would have thought that life could change so much in the blink of an eye. I know that sounds like a cliche; it is. I’m not sure what I would have–could have–done differently. I fell while going out to shovel the driveway in anticipation of work the next day. Sure, I could see the ice coating the driveway but, in order to shovel myself out, I had to navigate over it.

Now I’m laid up.

Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity. The mortgage is behind. I’ve been knocking on every housing assistance door in Connecticut. Mom & I have visited a couple of local food pantries to get by until I’m back to work. I put up a Go Fund Me campaign to see if I can generate help with the bills/mortgage that way. And I am grateful to the friends who have been generous in their support; it is appreciated far more than you can ever imagine. I’m still looking at a hefty mortgage payment in three days that I don’t have adequate funds to pay.

But I’m taking it on faith. Either He will provide the means in time. Or He won’t…because maybe He’s forcing me into a decision I haven’t quite been able to make. I’ve spent the better part of 9 years’ oscillating between selling out and relocating (which might just mean closer to my work in Massachusetts) or finding another part-time income to help supplement…provided I can get back to work next month. My medical leave has been extended another month until the third week of March. Of course, part of that oscillation has been the very honest two years of unemployment, followed by 6 years of underemployment. It’s only been a little over a year that I finally found a full-time position. So, in short, the financial means to relocate hasn’t been here…anymore than the means of providing the most basic cost of living. I was still playing “catch-up” when my accident happened.

Okay…so some of that wallowing factor is still happening here…

And yet, it’s not crippling me completely. I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon knocking on those doors I mentioned earlier, filling out applications, etc. to see if there’s something to help preserve this would-be homestead…either here, or in a new location. We have to allow for processing time though. So…

…in the meantime…

When I’m not writing, working on my novel, I’ve become a bit of a YouTube junkie. Having my left arm in a brace means my activity levels are pretty low. Where my days’ off, especially in winter when farm activities are pretty minimal anyway (outside of feeding), used to be spent watching gardening shows on YouTube (Jon Kohler’s Growing Your Greens: BBC2 Gardener’s World with Monty Don; Charles Dowding’s No-Dig Gardening), now I’m expanding. Roots and Refuge Homestead. Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. The Urban Farmer with Curtis Stone. Living Big in a Tiny House. Tiny House Living. I’ve watched videos on raising angora rabbits, angora goats, silkworms, and training border collies to herd the sheep I don’t have land enough to raise.

Yet…

In addition, Mom & I have had a lot of laughs watching Late Night with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And ooh-ing and aah-ing over agility competitions where, most of the time, the border collies rock! I’ve watched interviews with old “idols”: Kevin Von Erich (pro-wrestler); Rik Emmett (frontman, Triumph); Jane Seymour. The latter happened to be a walk-through with her researching what became of two of her aunts during The Holocaust; it was actually quite interesting. And she gave a bit of advice in one interview about how her mother always taught her that when you’re down and have nothing to give, you give more. I’m paraphrasing but, in essence, her mother was big on giving back, of giving help to someone else in need. By doing so, you open the door to resolving your own problems. That one’s been taken to heart quite a bit. I’m looking for ways that I can do just that.

Lastly, I’m feeling like a kid watching MTV again. Music videos. This weekend it was some 80’s, early-90’s music that I haven’t heard in a long time: Powerstation; Platinum Blonde; Andy Taylor; Triumph; April Wine; Concrete Blonde, etc.

Of course, the nostalgia conjured up by this music does sort of feed the wallowing factor a bit. I remember my dreams back then and how I gave up on them. I have no desire to give up on the current ones. Ironically, in remembering, it also feeds my determination to hold on to the current dreams; I’m not getting any younger.

Maybe in a month’s time that first draft…well…let’s not jinx it by giving voice to it.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be so grateful if you would share my Go Fund Me link with your friends, family, acquaintances and readers. https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

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One Day At A Time

“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3,4)

I’m holding onto these words of encouragement. As I navigate through this forced convalesce, and watch the bills pile up, and receive letters from the new mortgage company threatening foreclosure, and the bank account getting smaller, the above passage from Scripture reminds me that He really is in control…and my faith tells me He has a plan.

Even if I can’t see it.

I’ve been on the fence about whether to sell and find land/farm in another location, somewhere a little more manageable from a financial standpoint, but also more acreage, less house. The logical, human side of my brain says, if I do default, what are my chances of being able to purchase again? I need to keep up on everything to build my credit score up. Yes, I can see that dream farm somewhere in upper-state New York, or Maine. But my “day” job is in Massachusetts. Logic is saying it’s all beyond my reach. That I need to really push back, commit to staying. And trust that He’ll get me over this rapidly-growing bump in the road.

My faith says to trust in Him…regardless of the outcome. Though it all looks impossible, nothing is impossible with God. He is not bound by human rules of equity and credit scores. And, if the opposite is His will for me, then He’ll provide whatever I need to make the next mortgage payment, car payment, etc.

He’s teaching me patience…I say this while I rail and chafe against both my limited mobility–and my limited cash flow.

More importantly, He’s teaching me to truly put my trust in Him. I have too much of a grasping nature, holding on too tightly to what I have. In short, He’s teaching me to let go.

Can I do it? This one’s a tough one. I don’t like not being in control (as if!)…or at least feeling as if I’m in control.

So, I take a deep breath…

And wait…

And fret…as only I know how to do.

And keep reminding myself that, even if I can’t see the outcome at all, He’s got this. And His ways are always perfect.

May God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-15506107597-500376eb83394fe0&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

The Follow-Up Visit

“Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)

I am an Herbalist, Reflexologist, Reiki Master Teacher and Touch for Health practitioner. While I believe very strongly in the effectiveness–and safety–of holistic health, there are times when I am grateful we also have allopathic medicine (what most would term “traditional” medicine, though herbs and some of these other modalities have a much longer tradition of use…). These last couple of weeks have been some of those times.

This morning was the follow-up visit with the doc after my trip to the ER two weeks’ ago. No real surprises. I had severe heat exhaustion. She reiterated the ER doctor’s recommendations of resting more, drinking lots of fluids–including some Pedialyte, or Gatorade, while working–and added that I might benefit from some sort of broth that contains a little sodium to reduce the occasional dizziness I’m still having if I stand/sit, or move about, too fast. She also reiterated that it may take some time for my body to recuperate.

She knows me well.

I have blogged before about being a terrible patient. In short, I don’t have the patience to be a good patient. My mind is always running a mile a minute, thinking of the next item on my “To Do” list…the list I make and re-create regularly but seldom ever look at. (Chuckle) It’s simply a tool for creating a false sense of law and order in an otherwise chaotic life. And serves, on a darker side of things, as a tool for berating and mentally, emotionally beating up on myself for all of the things on that list I haven’t accomplished, or completed, yet.

Fortunately, I’m learning to make shorter lists; they’re easier to complete.

And I’m following both the doc’s, and my therapist’s, advice to be good to myself. Blogging/writing is one of those ways I am accomplishing that. This is life’s breath for me, being able to share thoughts and feelings; promote environmental awareness and alternative health approaches; give advice on frugal and/or simple living; campaign for animal and human rights, and, most importantly, write those stories weaving in and out of the clutter of that chaotic mile-a-minute mind. I haven’t quite mastered getting to bed at a reasonable hour yet but I am working on it; I tend to be a night owl…while also thriving on very early morning risings. Not a good combo when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Not a good combo under any circumstances.

Amazingly, on those nights when I do get proper rest, and on those days when I allow myself to chill out and not be so hard on myself, I tend to get more done. I’m more focused. I have more energy. Amazing, how much energy gets wasted on stress…and almost always on the little things in life. We all know this. How many times do we hear/read something about the importance of sleep? Ditto for reducing our stress. We know it. But we seem to need a constant reminder of it, even as the constant repetition becomes stressful in itself…like that fly buzzing about your head when you’re indulging in a cat nap…

Of course, there was another reason I went to see the doc.

The new health insurance policy at work does not cover doctors in Connecticut, only Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It’s good on one level–I get to visit my therapist in Providence regularly again (another means of taking better care of myself). But I had to find a doctor in their plan.

And I’m not sure how I feel about him.

My one visit with him, he ordered an EKG. I’ve been having severe anxiety attacks. He got the results back while I was still in his office and told me everything looked fine but he would like me to have a stress test. The doc I visited this morning did a stress test on me two summers ago; it came back fine. But I’m okay with walking the treadmill again; a lot can happen in two years’ time. However, though my EKG looked fine, the new doc prescribed nitroglycerin. Why? If everything looks ‘fine’, why do I need this prescription? Needless to say, he did the opposite of what he probably intended and stressed me out more: what isn’t he telling me??? So I went back to my long-time physician and asked her about the stress test she gave me. Her jaw dropping when I told her he prescribed nitro for me gave me the answer I was seeking. According to her, I should be the poster child for what a 50-something-year-old’s numbers should be. She also gave me a copy of the stress test results. This doesn’t mean that I won’t still take that stress test the new doc wants, but I will certainly be getting that second opinion afterwards; that’s another thing we hear about that we should do, over and again.

May God bless you & keep you!

A Sustainable Life

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but also everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

I’m searching for that one thing to take root and hold. That side hustle, as some may call it, that will help to supplement what I earn at my “day” job. Perhaps it is many things: writing, blogging, art, crafts. Perhaps it is even a return to doing some Reflexology, Reiki and/or Touch for Health on the side. If I had a safe place to practice, I might be tempted. And it is certainly a goal to eventually have a room set aside here at home for a holistic health practice in the future. But, for now, it isn’t possible.

One step at a time…

That is my dream: a sustainable homestead. Not just sustainable in being as environmentally-friendly as possible (although that is one definition and certainly part of the dream), but sustainable on a financial scale, too. I am working towards that day when I can earn a living for and from myself, rather than someone else. A day when this homestead provides an income (or many), along with writing and artwork. But it will take a while to get there, I’m thinking.

And it will never happen as long as I keep focusing on Self.

What can I do as a writer to help others? To fulfill a need or a longing? What can I do as an artist? Or a homesteader for the same? How may I use my talents to serve Him better, His children better? Those are the questions I should be asking. And it shouldn’t matter the outcome. I.e. whether or not it sustains me because my faith tells me to trust Him; He is already providing for my needs. Can He use me to provide for others? To teach? To listen? To share? For too long now I have been operating from a place of want. It’s time to change the way I look at things. I used to say the line from Jewel’s “Deep Water” about my “standard of living somehow got stuck on survive” reflected my way of life. I’m taking a leaf out of Casting Crown’s book now, “It’s time for us to more than just survive; we were made to thrive!”

You can’t get more sustainable than that.

May God bless you & keep you!

Hall, J. M. (2014). “Thrive.” Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Kilcher, J. (1998). “Deep Water.” EMI Music Publishing.

https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

How to Let Go and Let God

“Now to Him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I know nothing is greater than God. But, for some reason, I continue to take back the struggle, thinking, for some unfathomable reason, that I can handle things better than He can. Or maybe that scarred and abused little girl inside of me is still envisioning a vengeful God ready to strike at any moment. So, when I pray for that help, there’s still a part of me holding back, protecting myself from further harm.

I’m not worthy. He doesn’t love me. I have to earn His love…and I haven’t earned it. I’m not good enough.
I’m asking too much. Those gifts are for other people, not me…etc. etc. etc.

The proverbial tapes play over and again in my head. How do I shut them off long enough to ever get ahead? To find that promised peace?

Well, maybe the answer’s in the question: I. See? I’m still trying to take control. I can’t shut off the tapes that the enemy plays. But He can.

Of course, I have to ask. And some days, I’m so mired in my Bad Luck Schlepp-rock mood, I can’t see beyond that proverbial forest through the trees. It’s only after I’ve wallowed painfully in “wowsy wowsy woo woo” for however long that I even think to ask sometimes. Really?

And then there’s those days when everything just seems to get heaped upon me by the shovelful. In truth, that seems to be a steady theme in recent years. And, while it may sound as if I’m still wallowing in that self-pity, the truth is that I’m sinking fast. And I’m hoping that this sinking is part of His plan for that something so much greater that I keep hearing about.

Maybe if I swallow that infernal pride…so, here’s the rub:

Over 10 years ago I started homesteading here. I was still working in the corporate world then but also working two part-time jobs and taking clients in reflexology on the side. That being said, it didn’t leave me much time for homesteading endeavors but, somehow, I still managed. Along the way, I started thinking about relocating. I set my sights on Maine. One Friday I got in the car and drove to Maine with enough money in my corporate 401K to put a down-payment on a piece of property. I came back on Monday to find that my 401K had been pretty much wiped out. This was the start of the Great Recession. I had to let the property go. Shortly thereafter, I lost one of the part-time gigs; there wasn’t enough work. Then 10 months’ later, I lost the full-time corporate position as a part of a corporate downsizing; my position was outsourced to another country. Then 6 months’ later the second part-time gig let me go as they couldn’t afford to pay any help anymore. And, of course, with so many others in similar situations, the reflexology dried up, too.

Still, I was at least able to collect unemployment. And I remained hopeful that I would find something new to sustain us (me and the homestead, of course).

One year went by. Then two. The 99 weeks of unemployment insurance dried up. Despite the loss of the 401K mentioned earlier, I had re-built it considerably before the corporate position ended. I lived on that for another 6 months while still looking for full-time employment.

And then the 401K ran out, too.

By then, I had two seasonal, part-time jobs (all that I could find at the time) and had started a pet and farm sitting business. Clients were spotty; not too many people were traveling for their own economic reasons. But the occasional call came through. I started building a reputation as a reliable person. I also began getting a few clients now and again in Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health.

Despite all of this effort to stay afloat, I missed one mortgage payment. And then another. To make a long story short, I eventually received a foreclosure notice. It was a near thing but I managed to get into a mortgage assistance program with my state’s housing authority. They put me back topside and I’ve been making steady payments to them every month for 5 years. They, in turn, are sending those payments to my mortgage company. This is, sadly, a loan that I will eventually be amortized into a new mortgage payment once I’m working full-time and able to make the payments on my own.

And, yes, I am working full-time again–finally–but what I earn is not quite enough for that refinance.

With the two hour commute, the college courses to earn my degree (another hopeful endeavor), etc. I gave up pet and farm sitting. It wasn’t steady enough and my time has been severely curtailed with everything else in my life. I’ve also nixed the holistic health practice as the rent for a room in a spa, insurance premiums, and re-certifications make it more a drain than a fill. But, again, I’ve been making steady payments and staying on top.

Or so I thought.

I received another foreclosure notice again. It appears the mortgage company raised my payment due to tax and insurance increases and, though I sent the housing authority notification of the change, they have not adjusted accordingly.

I’m ready to give in to despair. But I also feel a calling to use this hardship as a way to build my faith. I’m going to trust Him. I’m going to trust that He has this, that He will work it for some good. And, in saying, praise Him even in this storm. But I feel a bout of “wowsy wowsy woo woo” settling over me again. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

May God bless you & keep you!

My Apologies for the Delay…

Good morning (or whatever time of day it is in your part of the world…)

In the middle of some major “renovations” here on this blog. As soon as they are completed, I will certainly include more information about them. For the time being, I thank everyone for their patience. New content will be added soon.

In the meantime, keep working towards that faith-filled, sustainable and compassionate future. We CAN be the change we wish to see in the world.

May God bless you & keep you!