Monday, September 30, 2013

A Little Self Care...

Breath hangs in the air,
and Life hangs in the balance.
Choose your adventure!

This is a post that I have been reluctant to write...for many reasons.

I don't remember deciding to be this reserved and stressed out, overweight and under adventured person I have become...

It isn't easy being vulnerable.
Stories and appearances can be more interesting than the truth.
I don't like to make decisions and fail - especially with such an important decision.
Most days I let life happen to me and go along with things - forgetting my goals and choices.

So here it is. I know now that I am gluten intolerant and can only have minimal amounts of dairy. The pain that both of them cause isn't worth it. It truly isn't. However, balancing this new way of eating - I have found that it's still super easy to eat crappy food that isn't good for me. Also - ridiculous amounts of stress just make stress eating worse.

Potato chips. Enough said. Enough eaten.

My decision - beginning October 1st - is to care for myself first. Before family, friends or work, I am going to start taking care of me. I know what to do, I've been reading and studying some of this for months (even years).

It's a very simple plan. If it isn't good for me, I'm done with it.

I'm starting simple with just adding in 1/2 hour of walking every day that I can, a time of sitting still every day in meditation, cutting out anything that is packaged or processed, and cutting back on that afternoon coffee. Simple, right?  Eat less and move more sounds easy, but there are so many factors involved with retraining our minds and habits.

A pretty miraculous thing happened with this gluten-free living - the pain of the Fibromyalgia has been much less, I can think clearly and the pain in my legs and feet (that kept me out of work last year and in physical therapy) is almost gone. A small amount of self care has taken care of a huge roadblock of the past. I'm interested in seeing what other roadblocks can be eliminated...

So I will try to sleep a little more (and probably better with less caffeine), and the weight loss that has started with eating gluten-free has given me encouragement to continue on. Now it is time to move more and continue strengthening!

Yesterday, I walked at least 5 (long) miles in a walk to raise money for cancer research and it was so much fun!  I would love to do more things like this. Let's just be honest - there was no "speed" in the walking I did yesterday. However, it was awesome!  It pushed me beyond what I thought I could do and to this decision to make changes.

My sister Kim, Me, my sister Amber, and niece Lilly <3

The reason I took the Permaculture course and got my certificate was because of how many people around me are food insecure and the need for sustainable food.

1 in 3 children in Worcester don't know where their next meal will come from.
A humbling realization when I think about how much extra I have consumed personally.

I would like to live in a way that honors the knowledge that I have about nutrition and living well.
I would like to live in a way that I consume only what is necessary. Food or otherwise.
I would like to create a sustainable life where I am. Food, energy, clothing, etc.
I would like to be less stressed out - and able to spend more quality time with the people I love.
I would like to be strong enough to contribute more to meet the needs I see around me.
I would like to have the energy and focus to show the gratitude I feel for the friends and family who make my life so inspirational and special.

And as far as my part in this living - I would like to live a very long time and have many more adventures!

I do not want to be a contributing factor to limiting length of my life...

Monday, September 23, 2013

The "Constant" Illusion

The garden is slowing down. We will probably have a frost tonight, and, just like that, Autumn is here. There are a few tomatoes that need to turn red, a couple of eggplant and some carrots left to harvest. A couple of beds of peas waiting to be picked and shucked and canned or frozen. We just picked a few more small sugar pumpkins that will make delicious, delicious pie someday soon.

These little sugar pumpkins came up on their own this year

Firewood is stacked in the driveway, and after the last of the veggies are picked out of the garden and a cover crop of oats is sown, only winter remains. Winter is a natural time of reflection and I am doing a lot of soul searching lately, thinking of what really matters to me, what direction I want my life to take, what I value.

The job I go to every day is changing. Co-workers are leaving, the way I interact with accounts will be different. A piece of it all will stay the same, but much of it will be different. I feel emotional about this. In my day to day - I forgot that things don't stay the same.

I am grateful to be employed and grateful for as long as it lasts. Let's be real about the economy isn't going well and many people are suffering - sometimes because they desperately need the necessities of survival, sometimes because they desire more than their share and more than what really would make them happy. This is for each person to work through, but I can tell you that my questions to myself are many.

Is this ______ necessary?
What do I truly need?
What is enough?
Am I appreciative and kind?
Do the people I love know how much I care about them?

There is an illusion that I buy into sometimes...that the things around me are constant and will never change. I think we, in general, can accept that children grow up and people age. Cars, houses and relationships break down at times and need repair.  But other times, we put blinders on and believe that situations - like our employment - are forever, that people will always be around and never die - that people will never hurt or disappoint us. Because I don't remember that life is constantly changing, when something major happens like death, divorce, unemployment or other accidents - I waste precious time adjusting and thinking about myself, rather than being prepared to help loved ones through those situations.

The blessing in this life is that it is constantly changing and yet, we often spend our days denying that change exists. People and situations flow in and out of our lives and if we are paying attention, there is something to learn from every one of them. My striving in the future will be to spend quality time with people and create memories. Money, people, things, jobs, cars, etc will enter and leave our lives many times - but memories are etched forever in our hearts and minds.

Every day dawns with the same potential for whatever adventure we choose!

Choose wisely and often and enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fruit Cobbler - Gluten Free

I found a great recipe for fruit cobbler here and made some changes.

One of our little trees fruited this year! We pruned off most of the fruit, let a few apples mature and are trying them out with this recipe.

Basically, you cut up whatever fruit you have on hand and put it in a cast iron skillet.
Press it down gently to fill in the spaces.

Mix topping ingredients together in a bowl and spread evenly over the fruit - gently pressing down to form a crust. If you are using very juicy fruit these measurements are fine - if the fruit is baking apples, I would double the recipe for a nice thick crust and double the butter.

I would like to try this with pumpkin and apples with pumpkin seeds in place of chopped nuts!

1/2 cup chopped nuts (you could easily use any type of seed here instead of nuts)
3/4 cups oats
1/4 cup coconut or regular butter
2 Tablespoons Coconut flour
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sustainable Firewood

There is a chill in the air this morning that makes me start dreaming of autumn walks and winter fires in our wood stove.

Living in the city in a 100x50 ft. lot doesn't allow for a place to grow our own firewood, so we have been on a quest to find someone who harvests firewood sustainably. Last year, the firewood was not harvested sustainably, and it was dumped in the driveway, covered with dirt and had to be stacked.  If we were working a larger piece of land full time, I wouldn't care about needing to stack wood, it would just be part of our normal work day. However, with both of us working full time, any time saver is helpful at this point.

We were able to find someone this year and had 3 cords of wood delivered from Broad Arrow Firewood. It is a mix of several different woods,  stacked on twelve pallets and is ready and waiting to be burned. It needs a bit more seasoning - so we will use the wood we have gathered and what has been given to us that is currently stored in the shed.

Each pallet is wrapped in a netted bag

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Permaculture Story

Although it seems like many, many years ago, my Permaculture story began in August 2010...

I was home for vacation in the beginning of August, looking at gardening videos on YouTube and came across a series of videos on Permaculture.  I don't remember who posted them, but I remember they featured Geoff Lawton and Bill Mollison and the Permaculture Institute in Australia. I found the first video and for every waking moment of that 7 days after (and since) I consumed whatever information I could find on Permaculture.

Based on those few videos, we planned the garden beds, dry river bed (swale) and the multitude of Perennial trees, bushes and vines. We started simply with just a couple of beds and have added steadily for the past 3 years. My thinking was that if we just kept adding, we could grow quite a bit of veggies, fruit, nuts and annuals each year.

Then something happened that was completely unexpected...

For the first time ever, the course in Australia was opened up on-line for people to take. People, like me, who could not go to Australia, but wanted so much to learn everything possible about Permaculture.  This design science, this sustainable living, this food security in an uncertain world - was open to me. The price was right and I signed up for what would change my life forever. Permaculture was already such a focus for me, I believe that everyone should have the ability to eat a variety of in season foods and food insecurity is an unnecessary condition of our current society.

I took the course, over the past few months, absorbed as much information as I could, took the quiz, and turned in my project to design a sustainable existence on our 100x50 ft. lot that we live on. Not only did I see the possibilities for us, I saw the possibilities for the world.

No one should be hungry...but instead, we have the answers to live in absolute abundance.

The past Tuesday, I realized another surreal and amazing event when Geoff Lawton came to UMass Amherst, (sponsored by the Permaculture programs there) and I was able to receive my certificate in person from Geoff. He spoke first of possibilities, of changes we can all make to create a different world around us - one of abundance.

When we arrived, we weren't sure where we were, but I turned and saw Ryan Harb and Geoff Lawton walking by, as well as Jonathan from the Permaculture Food Forest of Holyoke driving by (we have purchased many of our perennial plants from him). So we followed them to the room where Geoff was speaking.

I stayed after the talk and met Geoff and received my certificate in Permaculture.  One of the most important events in my life, by far. It's just the beginning, and now I have a certificate to teach Permaculture. I have a lot to learn still, and our experiments in this little yard are helping me to understand things on a bigger scale.

I am changed. Nothing will ever be the same. To have the solution and not act is inexcusable.

That being said, I have a lot to learn and will continue to move forward - experimenting with plants and annual garden beds in our garden, as well as keeping track of the perennial trees and vines, and learning so much from the small space we are working with.

I look forward to future adventures!

The pictures are a little blurry, but it doesn't change how much this means to me.

Thank you, Geoff.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rest and Healing

A week ago Monday, I was feeling really lousy and decided I would go to work anyway...
By 1:00 my head was on my desk, and I don't remember much more than that.

Fever was 101. My temp is usually 97.6 - so this was a high fever.

My doctor put me out of work - returning on Friday.
Friday may have been too soon.

This cold/virus/whatever was kicking my ass.

I haven't had a fever for YEARS. I don't remember how long. A really long time.

The moments I have gathered (and remembered) from the past 5 days:

Daytime television should mostly be outlawed for stealing brain cells.
As long as I stick with the cooking network/food network/HGTV I could learn something.

The middle of the night, crickets singing, is an amazingly detached an unreal place to be awake.
I remember being a kid and being up in the night to write. I wish I had been feverless and coherent enough to write this week because I was up through several nights, every couple of hours.

This past week, I did very little physically, and tried to just do the work I needed to and go home.

It's not the flu, it's just this miserable cold, which is better than last week, and hopefully on its way out!