Quality of Life

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly.” (Thessalonians 1:2)

I have some important decisions to make here at The Herbal Hare Homestead, decisions that have me back in therapy. But that’s a good thing. Because they are decisions that I keep procrastinating about, decisions that may require some information before I can truly make them. And I’ve been spinning my wheels for so long, I don’t know which way is right.

Sound ambiguous?

It’s nothing compared to the ambiguity in my head.

I had my first fully-fledged panic attack a few weeks ago, complete with a tight chest, shortness of breath and I alternated between tears and rage. I came close to changing direction on the way to work and heading to the emergency room until I realized that, as I took a few deep breaths, the symptoms went away almost immediately. However, not taking any chances, I have since gone to the doctor. The doc did an EKG on me (electrocardiogram); the EKG came back with no concerns. He also ordered a stress test, which is coming up in about two weeks. I had one last summer and it came back fine; hopefully, this one will, too. But it has made me realize how unhealthy my current stress levels are. I keep talking about the books I’ve been writing, the homesteading plans I have, etc. and, if I keep running at this uncontrollable, breakneck speed, I’m not going to be here to realize these dreams. Or to enjoy them once they are a fait accompli.

And that’s just not acceptable.

Because, if I am not here to enjoy these dreams–or even to enjoy the journey towards them–what’s the point of having them? More, if my current stress levels are having such an impact on my life, then am I really living? As far as I know, though I do believe in reincarnation, this is the only life I am guaranteed to live. And there’s no way in knowing how many days this life is numbered. Only God has that answer.

I’ve been hearing myself over the last few weeks. I’m snappy, irritable, tired all the time. Poor Mom! She’s suddenly become roommates with Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs. That’s not fair to either of us. Again, not really living. And life is way too precious to waste being stressed out and miserable.

So, while I go through all of the health procedures to ensure that this isn’t something physical, I am also back in therapy. And this is the smartest decision I’ve been able to make in a long time. After hearing everything, my therapist has me back in for regular visits every two weeks with some “homework” in between. I actually felt much, much better with just one visit; I am looking forward to the next one.

As for the results? I give them to God; I’ve been neglecting Him a little lately, too. Also unacceptable. And He’s let me know with a panic attack. Time to stop, put aside the “little” things and remember what’s most important. I’m giving thanks for that anxiety/panic attack. Rock bottom can be a blessing; the only way to go is up and back on top.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Lenten Re-Cap

“The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary, the mother of James, went out and purchased embalming spices. Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance. But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone–a very heavy one-was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb–and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter.” (Mark 16:1-7)

I made a number of vows on Ash Wednesday (February 14th, Valentine’s Day–a serious celebration of love this year). One of them was that I would avoid social media. Amazingly, my blog posts have also been few and far between, though my blog was not targeted as “social media” when I made the vow. However, I can honestly say I did very well in keeping this vow. I peeked at one message from an aunt of mine as it was obvious it was an actual message rather than a joke or inspirational then politely reminded her that I had given up social media for Lent and she would have to contact me via phone or come visit until Easter. Otherwise, I stayed away from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What blog posts I did create automatically posted to my FB account when I hit “Publish”; ditto for the Treehugger news stories I shared. Neither required me to visit my social media sites as I have them linked. However, it’s funny. I didn’t really miss them. And I didn’t really miss much on them. I value my social media accounts primarily for keeping in touch with friends and family members who live too far away to make frequent visits between us. I may opt to keep my social media usage to a minimum going forward; less time wasted getting into the political hypes–whatever they may be this week.

I gave up sweets, desserts, etc.

FAILED

Miserably.

Albeit, I did significantly cut back and, the few times I fell off the wagon, so to speak, I made a valiant effort to get back on and keep trying again. But my sweet tooth won out quite a few times. Scary to think how addictive sugar is! (My waistline can certainly testify…)

I would avoid music videos except for 2 hours in the afternoon on my days’ off. That one tanked, too. However, I will add that I stayed predominantly in contemporary Christian and used the time to recharge my spiritual batteries instead. For King and Country’s version of “The Little Drummer Boy” is, in my not-so-humble opinion, so upbeat and uplifting that I don’t care if it is a Christmas carol; it’s worth listening to–and viewing their concert video footage–any time of year. And, no, it doesn’t really justify the broken vow. I’ll simply have to do better next time.

Lastly, I vowed to write 3 pages per day of my adult fiction novel. On this one, I rocked (insert stoked ego here). I have filled two college-ruled spiral-bound notebooks (one subject, approx. 100 pages each) full of scenes for my novel + many pages of a few others. Granted, some of these scenes may never see the light of day outside of their respective notebooks, but I plowed ahead anyway. There were only three nights where I didn’t pick up the notebook to write until bedtime and, on one such occasion, fell asleep mid-stride and two others, crashed before a word was written. Otherwise, I managed to do at least three pages; some days, more. Like many other writers, I am my own worst critic but mission accomplished. And I have every intention of continuing with the momentum. I’m looking forward to the day when I can post here that the first complete draft is, well, completed.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

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

Bass Ackwards

“I am confident in this, that the one who began a work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Despite working with computer and online technology for at least a couple of decades now, I still flub up every now and again. Part of it may be that whenever I go to a new site, new application, etc., I am more liable to just start following menu paths and clicking here and there as to read the actual instructions beforehand.

Such is the case with my new Patreon site. I was supposed to build suspense by posting little snippets of its launch on my social media sites, my blog, etc. Well, as I’ve given up social media for Lent, such a climatic approach would be nearly impossible anyway. So, I clicked the “Launch” button almost from the moment I first logged into the site. Needless to say, a quick visit, at this point, would be a little anticlimatic anyway; I haven’t downloaded much yet.

Bear with me; fiction, in the form of short stories, some poetry, some samples of business icons, etc. as well as paintings, drawings, knitted, hand-spun and hand-woven items will appear from time to time. Perhaps even some herbal products as time goes on. I’m still working it all out.

So, what is Patreon? “Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid.” We’re challenged to memorize that; I haven’t yet. It’s in a spiral-bound notebook for the moment. (Chuckle)

This menu path should bring you to my Patreon page if you’d like to check it out: https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

May God bless you & keep you!

PS If, for some reason, this doesn’t bring you to the site (may have to copy and paste in search engine), please post a comment below and I will check into it. Again, I’m still learning. Thank you for reading my blog…and for your patronage! =)

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!

Heart’s Desire

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians, 2:8-10)

I am struggling to put words to the page this morning. I gave up social media for Lent, not my blog; I don’t consider them the same thing. The idea was to give myself a little more time for writing. And, for the most part, it has worked. I’ve been able to put those 3 pages of my book together each night and I’m starting to see some real progress. That pushes me forward. And yet, the enemy of my soul keeps tempting me with those little pop-ups that say, “You’ve been tagged in a photo, a video, a post on Facebook by so-and-so.” What photo, video or post??? Inquiring minds want to know. And what further proof of how addicting social media really is!

I am determined not to break my Lenten vows this year.

No, it won’t make a difference in my salvation (please read the bit of Scripture at the start of this blog post). But it is a vow made to God. It’s like when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and some of his apostles, who were supposed to be keeping watch, fell asleep. I don’t want to fall asleep on this watch.

And so, I carry on.

However, the enemy certainly has some persuasive arguments. Like, it’s okay if I peek at that message as long as I don’t proceed to read the feed on my Facebook page, or someone else’s Facebook page.

Nope. Not working.

I’m still resisting…even if the temptation’s still there.

Ditto for the 3 pages of book each night. Last night was a push after spending 8 hours working on my final paper for class. The night before I actually fell asleep a few times over my notebook. I don’t have the time I used to have at the dealership so I have to squeak my book, blog posts and even quality time with the animals here on the homestead in around a 2 hour daily commute.

But still, I carry on.

I’ve been good about the music videos, too. In fact, I haven’t watched even one since the Lenten season started. I do miss that. As most of the bands I watch on YouTube are contemporary Christian, listening and watching their videos can be a nice little pick-me-up at the end of the week. The saving grace–no pun intended–is that I’m not getting so immersed in them that I neglect everything else.

Like writing.

Or homesteading.

My two heart’s desires.

Of course, for someone whose religion doesn’t follow any Lenten obligations, it may sound as if through these Lenten vows I’m still hoping to earn my way to salvation.

Nope.

If that were the case, we’d all be doomed. Lenten vows are often like New Year’s Resolutions; they keep for a week or two and then, as the struggle becomes too great, we often allow them to fall by the wayside. However, it is a good means of incorporating more awareness of Him in our daily lives. And that’s the best habit we can cultivate of all.

By the way, I have broken my vow to abstain from sweets: I had a frozen yogurt frappe on the way home from work the other day (complete with a single-serve plastic-lidded container and a straw; bad me!) and I couldn’t resist the free maple popcorn being offered for grabs at work. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying to resist future sweets; one can always readjust and reaffirm one’s resolve.

However, the measure of this broken vow may not necessarily be on the scale of one’s faith, or dedication to one’s vows, but on the scale of a different sort. Talk about your addictions.

May God bless you & keep you!

Embracing the Imperfect

“Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears in me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

We all have things that we could boast about without looking foolish. Maybe you’re one of the most brilliant surgeons in the country and have helped heal countless other people…or animals, if a veterinary surgeon. Maybe you’re an awesome cook. Or have a beautiful singing voice. Our gifts are countless. And, yes, since He gave you these gifts in the first place, He also uses them to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and bring joy to many.

But, guess what?

That surgeon is also late to every appointment. The cook is nipping the cooking sherry while whipping up the filet mignon. And the singer is dyslexic. Sort of makes all of their accomplishments that much more awe-inspiring, doesn’t it?

And that’s the point.

God doesn’t just use our gifts. He uses our imperfections, too. If everything ran smoothly all of the time, would we notice His miracles? Would we understand that it’s all about Him and not about us? If we were all perfect in every way, would we even think to worship God? So He uses our imperfections. He uses them to further His Kingdom. When we, who are broken, are made whole through Christ, it forces the unbeliever to take notice. Sure, they may scoff and sneer, especially if we give the credit where it’s due for our success. But they notice the accomplishment. And are amazed at the adversities overcome to achieve that success. They may not suddenly become believers. But there’s a seed planted. And God will cause it to bloom in His own time.

Do you notice something though? Despite whatever He helps us to accomplish in our lives, those thorns never really go away. I may be a minister, a writer, an artist and a homesteader. But I am also a survivor of child molestation, an eternal procrastinator and I’m perpetually running late, running behind. I’m terrified of flying. I deal with depression and anxiety, low self-esteem and confidence issues, acid reflux, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Psychological Disorder, and Chronic Epstein-Barr. I’m showing you my brokenness…and thanking Him for all of it: the gifts and the thorns. But especially the thorns. Because that’s what people need to see. Those thorns are blessings in disguise. And there are others with those same thorns in their sides who need to hear that they are not alone. So, whatever adversities you are working with, thank Him.

Because there’s a silver lining behind that cloud. There always is.

May God bless you & keep you!