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”

Why To Embrace Wildness

Why To Embrace Wildness

Henry David Thoreau once wrote the words, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Though Thoreau lived in his cabin on the shores of Walden Pond many years ago, those words hold a deep truth. Wildness can mean so many different things to so many different people, but whatever it means to myriad humans across the globe, I have found embracing wildness to provide healing, inspiration, introspection and reason to explore. I have found wildness to be a foundation from which to do my work in the world, and I have found wildness to drive my choices as I tap into the potential of life on this beautiful earth. I have found wildness reason to cultivate community and exist in the world in a way that aligns with beauty and truth.

Here are 10 more reasons to embrace wildness, in all its forms, in the months to come. Because you just never know how making some little changes to your way of being might contribute to the healing of the planet. Continue reading “Why To Embrace Wildness”

5 Ways to Fall in Love With Winter

5 Ways to Fall in Love With Winter

It happens every year in many parts of the world. The days get shorter, the gardens get tilled under, the lawnmower goes into storage. Heavy coats and hats and sweaters get pulled out of storage, and chili starts sounding good again. Frost appears in the morning grass where dew used to be, and you can see your breath when you walk around the block. And then it snows. Winter is coming.

Granted, not every place on the earth sees harsh winter weather, but plenty of places have their fair share of cold and wind and dark.Daylight in the northern hemisphere wanes as the winter solstice approaches, and sometimes if we aren’t careful, whole days can go by without feeling any sun – however cold it might be – on our faces. Cabin fever sets in, and we start to wait for spring.

But…..maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. What if we could embrace whatever Mother Nature decides to dole out and made getting outside a priority no matter how cold or wet or snowy or dark it gets? I think it’s worth it to give old man winter a little love. Because a whole season with no natural light and letting a little cold weather keep us inside? Every year? No way, man. No. Way. Life’s too good to spend it waiting for summer. Continue reading “5 Ways to Fall in Love With Winter”

Practicing Gratitude in the Midst of Grief

Practicing Gratitude in the Midst of Grief

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them. ~Paulo Coelho

*Jane started coaching with me in 2010 or so.  She came into our coaching relationship as a former heart disease patient, just looking to keep up the healthy habits that she’d put into practice after a cardiac surgery ten years prior.  With a clean bill of health and the okay from her cardiologist to simply visit him annually for a regular check-up, her goals stemmed from the desire to support her husband in eating healthier as he struggled with some of his own health issues.  She embraced gardening, got really creative with whipping up interesting dishes from quinoa and millet, and loved to share her new finds with me in the realm of healthy eating.  She struggled with her goal to get to the gym even though she always felt better after going, and…

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Palpable Joy: A Mindful Thanksgiving

Palpable Joy: A Mindful Thanksgiving

It’s two days until Halloween in America.  If you’ve gone into any commercial establishment in the last few weeks, you’ve been bombarded with pumpkins of all sizes and materials, plastic decor of infinite variety, mountains of orange and black wrapped candy, and enough cheap costuming to clothe the entire country for a year.  The holiday season is about to begin in earnest as October gives way to the season of shopping, otherwise known as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Commercialism abounds, we get sucked into the frenzy even if we don’t like to shop, and good deals take our attention from being content with what we already have.  We eat too much too quickly and have more excuses than usual for why we can’t exercise.   For many of us, the holidays mean putting on weight, being stressed out, spending too much money and throwing in the towel until January.   Often times we are multi-tasking, working late to prepare for a few extra days off or packing frantically to visit the in-laws.  We get snippy with our children, our neighbors put up lights that are too bright and we hope the time goes quickly. It doesn’t feel like a time of celebration when the culture calls the shots.  We forget to be mindful and live in the present.  Continue reading “Palpable Joy: A Mindful Thanksgiving”

Tangerine Skies

Tangerine Skies

In the late fall of 2012, my daughter was 8 months old and didn’t care for the practice of sleeping. She wouldn’t take a bottle, and I was her only source of food and often times, comfort. The daylight hours were getting shorter, and the news headlines were getting more unsettling. Work days were tiring even without the extra challenge of never sleeping more than three hours at a time. There was plenty of anxiety, despair and disappointment to be found in all sorts of places if I wanted to find those things. I needed something to remind me of the good that underlays the challenges of life. So I started forcing myself to acknowledge the little slices of joy, even in the midst of struggle.   I dusted off an old journal and began writing down those little slices.

Looking back at the entries now, some days sounded pretty routine: “Witnessing the baby notice the world around her.”   Some days included events that will probably never be duplicated: “Watching a black bear cub ramble by my home office door and scramble up a dead tree and across the ravine in the back.” Some days were more challenging: “The contrast provided by people who see the world differently.” Most days celebrated the way a body can move: “Yoga. The way the combination of movement and breath brings focus.” And all days were punctuated by the vibrancy of the natural world: “Tangerine skies and evening shadows hinting at possibilities yet to come.” Continue reading “Tangerine Skies”

Jars of Bliss

Jars of Bliss

Red Brush Farms

On the surface, there’s not much going on with gardens in Minnesota right now.  It’s January, the temperature outside has been consistently below zero and the view up the hill to the field is awash with brown, gray and bright white.  The hoses are wound and covered with piles of snow, the berry bushes have turned brittle with the cold and the garlic that was planted a few months ago lays in wait for the spring thaw that is still months away.  A few seed catalogues have arrived, some pots have been moved to different spot in the garage and we continue to add to the compost pile at delight of the opossum that lives nearby, but activities like baking bread, starting fires in the wood stove, skiing around the lake and reading books dictate the flow of the days.  There is the coming season’s garden to plan, to be sure……

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A ‘Wild Dare’ for Thanksgiving

A ‘Wild Dare’ for Thanksgiving

 Here in the northland, after a lovely lingering fall, we have encountered the chill of winter, with days hovering in single digits, and winter clothing quickly pulled from summer storage. It’s also the week before Thanksgiving, which probably holds as many different expectations and feelings as there are people. What’s in common, though, is the suggestion of thankfulness. Of taking a moment, in the midst of all that fills our days, to share a meal and so share our thanks for all that graces our lives. 

~Chris Heeter

Ms. Heeter, in what she calls a wild dare, invites us to stretch beyond the usual things that get said around the Thanksgiving table:

See what you find, with an open heart and mind when you explore thankfulness. Notice the feel of sun on your face or the gift of words in a good book. See how deep you can go in your gratitude, not because you are “supposed to,” but because it’s intriguing, a daring and Wild thing to explore.

Of course we are thankful for good health, family, friends, and food, if we are fortunate enough to have those things.  But what goes unnoticed, even for those who are veterans at practicing gratitude?  Maybe it’s the feel of a warm oak-plank floor as the wood stove gets going late in the evening.  Maybe it’s the contrast that a chaotic barn provides to an extra clean house when you go out to feed the chickens before the holiday guests arrive for the long weekend.  Maybe it’s the gasp of frigid air into your lungs that pierces your attention and reminds you how extraordinary it is to experience life on a living earth that is full of change.  Maybe it’s the vivid red of a cardinal against a backdrop of pure white, framed by the boughs of an old evergreen.  Maybe it’s a heart that beats, a mind that seeks clarity and the presence of something bigger than yourself that carries you through the days and reminds you that you aren’t alone, no matter how many others say grace with you at your table.

may you see grace
wherever your eyes land.

May you need not look far
to feel the humbling knee-buckling delight
in being alive.

May this season of gratitude invite you to honor the abundance that is possible when you dare to look for it.

Rest In Gratitude

Rest In Gratitude

Red Brush Farms

A lot happens over the course of single season during the life of a garden. By November, the plants that produced all sorts of good things during the summer have become compost, the fields have been tilled under to mark the close of the growing season, and the leaves on the aspen trees have turned from green to gold. Enough food was grown to eat, to preserve and to sell. Abundance sprang from the soil and found its way out into the world. Pounds of produce were harvested and enjoyed.

There were some things that didn’t work, as there always are in farming and gardening.  Maybe there wasn’t enough mulch in some places, and the rows ended up being waist high grass by September. Perhaps the raspberries wanted more water than they got, or the cucumber beetles decided to feast on the melons. It’s likely that uses for cucumbers and…

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Mindfulness In A Culture That Invites Distraction

Mindfulness In A Culture That Invites Distraction

In wellness and life coaching, a fair amount of time is spent thinking and talking about “mindfulness,” or a state of active, open attention on the present, which includes observing thoughts and feelings from a distance without passing judgment. In our first world, corporate-driven culture, it’s something that is perhaps easy to talk and think about and harder to put into practice – after all, who has time to be mindful on a regular basis in the midst of to do lists, meetings, and the myriad of other items that punctuate our work days? Isn’t multitasking the only way to get everything done on time?  We need to make a profit!  Meet the bottom line!  Make that person happy!  And that one! And it all has to be efficient and productive!  Plus, if we don’t judge what’s going on during the day, how will we convey what we think is right?

Well, we might argue that when we practice being present and mindful in the moments as they pass, we do our jobs better and leave our work feeling grounded, instead of frazzled. We can have confidence that we didn’t miss something important due to trying to do everything at once, even if we didn’t get to the entire list. We can put our energy into the thing that’s right in front of us, and we can let things go when letting them go is going to serve best. We can stand witness to the events of the day that we can’t control, and we can take comfort in the fact that we did our very best to impact the world around us in a positive way.  Even if we have to let a few dollars go in the process.

I few months ago I sent a message to a client-one who’s been active and engaged in her process, and thus ready to put some energy into thinking about the questions posed to her about being more mindful. This was her response when I inquired about how her mindfulness practice was coming along:

Mindfulness has put me in better touch with my feelings. It’s making me more aware of my surroundings, especially regarding the senses (smell, touch, sound, etc.). I identify many more blessings and have taken the time to appreciate them. I enjoy journaling my observances. The journal was a great suggestion you gave me.

I am realizing that multi-tasking is not the way to go in most instances. I feel less stressed when I focus on one task at a time. When I reflect on what I completed, I feel I am accomplishing more each day. It feels great to pause and acknowledge what I’ve done instead of just moving on to the next thing for a continuous chain of to-dos’s which leaves me feeling depleted.

Mindfulness is definitely a new habit that I need more practice at in order to break through the old ways of thinking and doing things. It’s been like a new aerobics class or yoga position that is challenging to keep up with or to do at all until I gain conditioning, but it feels great to learn a new way that is so beneficial for me mentally and emotionally.

So as you go about your work days in the months to come, remember to allow yourself to stay present in what’s happening right now. Because after all, right now is the only moment that we can ever truly grasp.