What Life Belongs To

What Life Belongs To

Somehow it is well into 2018 already. February will be over before we know it, and I finally feel better, almost like myself again. I wonder where the fall and early winter went, or where I was for them.  I am glad to be here now. It feels a little like waking up from a dream, the scary or depressing kind that you are ready to leave behind.  The issues that came to light during my illness haven’t just gone away, so I must be diligent about continue to look at them: the need to be in control, to ask for and accept support, to be viewed as competent and in the know, the constant push to do more and be more. Maybe it helps just to have clarified the issues and to have called them out.  The work is not done, but perhaps there is a bit of a path now.

Skiing and walking outside these past few weeks, now that I feel up to it, has been a reminder that I am most content when being present with myself, others, and the natural things of the world. Moving through a snowy and quiet forest, tromping with my daughter around a blindingly white lake, following a deer path along an icy ridge-line, all while breathing in the cold and clear air — these things are what is real and what matters. It’s not the photo I take or the likes that it gets on instagram, or the new followers that it entices to join the crowd. It’s the actual experience.  This is obvious, but I think it’s easy for us to forget that in this social media driven culture that we have found ourselves fully invested in.  I need to check myself regularly – it’s so easy to get sucked into the allure of virtual validation.  Continue reading “What Life Belongs To”

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silence keepers

silence keepers

Sitting here, on the couch, listening to the clock tick, makes me wonder if I am afraid of silence; of being idle; of stillness.  I always encourage others to cultivate that empty space – that quiet well – for themselves, but do I do it for myself? The pull to constantly be reading or figuring out a problem or checking for a message or writing a blog post (*ahem) or vacuuming or making something better, or cleaner, or more worthwhile…the pull to be productive in some form – to be doing something, always – is strong.  Sometimes almost always, it’s too strong, and I give in to the pull; the allure of constant engagement or stimulation or growth or value creation.  The desire to always have something to show for how I am spending my time.  Proof of worth.  Validation that I am thinking or doing important things that matter.  Ensuring I am making something of myself.   Being the one who always knows the answer or who can figure it out, or refer you to someone who can. Continue reading “silence keepers”

Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges

Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges

Right now I am coaching almost all women, all who desire to lose weight, whether the goal is 5 or 75 pounds. They echo each other:

I want to feel good in my clothes.

I want to feel confident in my appearance.

I want to have more energy.

I want to keep up with my children, my job, my life.

I want to take up space in a way that feels right and good.

No one has actually said that last one, but it’s what I hear them all saying. We all want to matter, to feel like we are doing what we want to be doing.  We all want to feel like we have the confidence we need to live the life we have been given.  Continue reading “Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges”

Books and Farmer’s Markets

Books and Farmer’s Markets

I’m in my childhood hometown of Brookings, South Dakota this long labor day weekend.  This morning I ran down to the river banks of the Big Sioux, my legs remembering the hundreds of other times I’ve run down this road to start the day.  The wind hadn’t picked up yet, and the sun was glinting off the still wet with dew prairie grass and ditch sunflowers.  Even though the view on this little jog has changed over the years – the old gravel road now dead ends at the river, the bridge now years demolished; the two new huge houses on either side of the family homestead; the fences and new driveways where we used to roam free – despite these surface changes, the energy underneath, the whisper of the prairie as the world wakes up and the ancient undulation of the landscape, remains unchanged.  It’s always good to come home, even though I no longer live here.

But anyway, I came to release the first copies of Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth out into the world…or at least out into the hands of some folks of eastern South Dakota.  Yesterday I set up shop across from my dad’s Hillside Prairie Gardens booth at the farmer’s market, and it was an early morning of loading up the market van, helping dad set up all the veggies (hello tomato season!) into their display boxes, positioning the books so they looked inviting, and chatting with the other vendors.  There’s something about the farmer’s market.  It’s a good place to spend some time on a Saturday morning, and I always appreciate the opportunity to be part of the community that helped inform how I see the world.

I’ve had my author copies for a few weeks now, so having the physical books around was nothing new, but handing them over to people who came to purchase it was a little surreal.  As all authors probably say (or at least think at some point) I hope they like it and tell all of their friends.  I’m glad I chose to do the first release in this place.  Returning to your roots is usually a good choice, at least for me.

And people also like it when you give them free baked goods, so I baked a bunch of scones.

Because you really can’t beat a good book, a freshly made scone, and a hot cup of fair trade coffee.

Continue reading “Books and Farmer’s Markets”

Cured by Flowers

Cured by Flowers

Last evening I went out to pick the last of the day’s ripe blueberries, and as I was lingering in the garden enjoying the cool dusky air, I noticed the sunflowers.  In the last week, there are four of them that have grown almost as tall as me and are starting to show signs of blossoming.  Their heads are still tight in a bud, but you can tell they are eagerly waiting the day when they can show their petals to the sun and offer themselves to the world.

I just read an excerpt from the last chapter of Anatomy of a Rose, a book by Sharman Apt Russell, and it is about being cured by flowers.  She points out that for a long time flowers have been used as medicine – from prescription drugs that contain some part of a flowering plant to folk medicine, flowers have healing properties.  There are hundreds of ways to let plants, and specifically flowers, help our bodies heal: from evening primrose to sage to cornflower to prickly poppy, flowers have the power to cure what ails us.   Continue reading “Cured by Flowers”

Hiking Naked

Hiking Naked

Knocked off her feet after twenty years in public health nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and their thirteen-year-old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote mountain village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure; she yearned for the solitude of this community of eighty-five residents accessible only by boat, float plane, or hiking.  Hiking Naked chronicles Graville’s journey through questions about work and calling as well as how she coped with ordering groceries by mail, black bears outside her kitchen window, a forest fire that threatened the valley, and a flood that left the family stranded for three days.

It is an unusually sunny and warm day in mid-spring, and my spouse Nick and I are out on a state park trail near our home, enjoying the mild conditions after a long, cold Minnesota winter.  The air is laced with the subtle scent of blossoms, and a gentle breeze is inviting us to walk slowly and savor the moments as they unfold.  We aren’t in a hurry.  We aren’t feeling anxious or in need of anything. And then we come around the bend and see a naked man standing knee-deep in what is usually a dry creek bed, bathing. This year, due to a winter of above average snowfall, the creek is full to the brim with cold, clear water.  He doesn’t see us, and we hightail it backwards until he’s out of view, wait ten minutes, and then I make Nick check to see if he’s got any clothes on yet.  He does and we continue on the trail, smiling hello as we pass.   I still wonder if we or he would have been more uncomfortable had we announced our presence.   At any rate, I hope he had a refreshing dip, and I admire his courage to do what felt good at the time.   I have a feeling he doesn’t regret his decision to bathe in the creek that day. Continue reading “Hiking Naked”

Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

Writing a book takes a long time.  And then publishing it takes a little bit (i.e. a lot) longer.  But it’s worth the effort and the wait, I think, to have something tangible that says what you want it to say that you can hold in your hands and give to others.  It’s fair to say that yes, it does require using trees to print the books, but when your publisher is committed to ecological stewardship, that helps.  It also helps when your publisher is committed to putting forth publications that are meant to be returned to again and again, not thrown away after a quick read.  And when they donate a portion of all profits to a different charity every year.  Add the mission that the mainstream is not the only stream, and you have a pretty stellar combination.  Continue reading “Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth”