Thursday, March 26, 2020

Finding Our Routine



We have been quarantined at our home for about 3 weeks. Lizzie had shingles for the first week which kept us home before the pandemic was announced. The first week we adjusted to being home together again. Mostly doing yard work and cleaning up our property. The second week we started to investigate what our homeschool options might be (waiting for the schools to make decisions and send out announcements), and settling into not having any schedules outside of the house. This third week is finding us more at ease. We are all feeling less anxious and finding the pattern of how we will all live together,

We are blessed. Our home is large enough that we have a lot of room to spread out. I feel this is important to note because this is a luxury and I don't want anyone to think we are doing any of this in a small home with no property. In my effort to be more authentic this is relevant because I don't ever want anyone to feel they are less because they are not coping or doing better by reading my words. When we decided to buy this home we wanted it to be large enough to extend rooms to those who may need it. We have reached our capacity with my oldest daughter renting a room from us, as well as, her friend and my sister. This is wonderful, especially during this time. We have so many helping hands, adults to help with chores and schoolwork, and a community filled with laughter and chatter. As long as our renters are not working they will not be paying rent. I feel this is extremely important at this time. We are all hoping their jobs are there when this is over, but nobody really knows what will recover and what won't. Cory and I have decided to alleviate the stress of rent. In return, they are all helping around the house. Thank you!

Cory is still working. He has worked from home for many years and this will not change. He is still able to provide for our family in all the same ways as before. This feels weird. We are seeing so much loss around us and yet, we are still maintaining (for now). This is giving us many opportunities to give back to our community. We have donated sleeping bags and tents to the homeless in our are. We are providing food for those impacted by not having jobs. We are sharing our eggs. I have spent the last few days contacting local farms and fishermen to order our meats from them. We are trying to use all local small businesses to carry out our daily needs if there are any. They have all delivered to our home with the greatest care of social distancing. I am making masks. We are trying to do our part.

We are working steadily on our garden. We are trying to grow enough food to share with 5 families. This will be more work but we feel this is a need we can help fulfill in our community and with our neighbors. I am learning a lot, quite quickly, about growing seeds, compost, and planters. We are reusing and repurposing a lot of trash to make them into small greenhouses and seedling containers. We are sourcing, again from local farmers, starters to help with this process too.  We are learning to use wood ash from our fireplace to help and benefit the garden. We are using all of our old coffee grounds to help the garden too.

Our dishwasher died a week ago. At first, it stressed me out, but then it was a blessing. We were able to reach out to our local friends who own a furniture store and buy one. They will deliver it today at the bottom of our stairs and we will install it. Cory took our old dishwasher apart three times trying to fix it. He learned a thing or two about installing dishwashers. LOL Our kids are learning to minimize dishes, to rinse, and to wash. All the things I did as a stay at home mom for my family. We are all helping with the workload and it feels amazing.

The homesteading pull is real and has been for many years. This is just reinforcing all those years of feeling this was a part of who I am.

Homeschooling. Oh, where to begin. I never in a thousand years thought I would be homeschooling again. EVER. Here we are though. The strange thing is, Cory and I have been talking about homeschooling for the past three months. Nothing long term, just for 3-6 months so we could travel and take the kids on the road (remember we lived in our motorhome for one year with our older kids). We want to do this again with our younger two. I started researching and seriously thinking about my options, and BAM! Just like that, here we are. I'm not sure I like how the universe forced me into a decision I was already making for myself (wink, wink). Anyways, our schools have chatted with us very little about any future plans. Cory and I understand this huge burden but I would have liked to have seen a little more from our area. When we reached out to the teachers about any type of work, we were told they are not allowed to issue anything until further notice. Now, keep in mind, I am not a school fanatic with my kids. We will be unschooling with an emphasis on reading, writing, science, and math, BUT I think the kid's moral would have been lifted if the teachers would reach out a bit more to the students. JUST MY OPINION. This is all unchartered territory for everyone involved.

We officially took our kids out of the public sector for the remaining year. If they go back it will not be until January of 2021. Again, this is not because of the pandemic. We were already planning on taking Sept-Dec 2020 off to travel the US or overseas. This event just pushed us into this decision sooner than later.

NOW, WHAT? Well, I feel good. I was nervous at first, but the last few weeks have been really good. Especially watching Isabella and Finnley working together. The homeschooling will work out because the three of us have made some decisions together of how we will move forward. We will all help each other and work as a team. If this is all we learn, then I am okay with that.

As our daily lives continue to evolve and unfold into new routines. I am seeing a change in our home. People are more relaxed. We are building great bonds.

Our bay across the house is CLEAR!. This is the first time in 5 years we have looked down from the road and been able to see through the water. I can't begin to tell you how happy that has made us feel. This stopping of the world is allowing the Earth to heal just a little bit.

This is the silver lining I am choosing to take away from all of this. Our families and the Earth needed something to give, and this might be what makes us stronger and awaken to what is important. I dread the loss of life. I hate to see the sorrow and pain from around the world. It breaks my heart to think this event is altering so many lives and causing pain. Emotionally, I can only confide to myself, that this is the yin and yang of life. We must give and take. This virus is giving and taking. Both are a blessing and a trial. Both are painful and joyful.

We will each interpret the meaning and understanding of what is going on around us a little differently. Years from now the take away will also be different. For now, I am trying to record my thoughts and experiences. It is through a collective response and outpouring that we will learn from all of this for future events and understanding. The changes that are taking place are palatable. I can feel it. This is why I am writing so much more. I want to be able to read my responses and thoughts years down the road. I am too overwhelmed to remember everything. Writing helps. 

Have a great day, despite this pandemic. We will rise together stronger and smarter.

Sherron



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thinking Outside the Box for Cooking Substitutes


We are all home cooks now. WOW, what a turn of events. I knew all that cooking would come in handy and now I am serving a small army of kids and adults in my home. What really has come in handy is using ingredients that are non-traditional and having success with them.  I have included my favorites and how I use each of them.

I thought I would share a few substitutions with everyone which might help those of us who are trying to stay home and use what we have and make things from scratch. Of course, there will be a need for ingredients and it is up to you to source those. We are doing our best to grow as much of our food as we can this year. We are looking to friends and neighbors who hunt and fish to possibly work out a trading system for eggs or other types of exchanges (with very minimal social interacting). We are trying to figure out what we can harvest in our own yard and behind our house in the woods (blueberries, blackberries, chanterelles, herbs, etc). We are trying to stay confined and use what we already have on hand or in our pantry.

This requires us to think outside the box, to give up some of our favorite foods, to change our taste buds, and to possibly learn a few new tricks in the kitchen. Over the years I have cooked almost everything from scratch. I have done this because I enjoy cooking, I have sensitivities to almost everything prepackaged, and I believe it is a better way to feed our bodies---this is just my opinion, everyone has their own reasons as to why they do what they do, these are mine.

Below I will list some links to my favorite homemade foods we use in our home. Please reach out if you have any questions. Often there are substitutions that can be made if you don't have the exact recommended ingredient.  I am sharing some of my own recipes, along with recipes I use by other bloggers. I will not be sharing photos, just links. My time is limited and I think we can all appreciate a more direct approach instead of long, story-filled posts.

1. Aquafaba.  I used this numerous times to make mayonnaise and use it as an egg replacement. You do not have to only use garbanzo beans, I use a variety of bean liquid and get the same results. there are a lot of recipes that you can use aquafaba for. I am not overly skilled at the more refined uses and recipes.

https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2017/08/aquafaba-mayonnaise-vegan.html
https://www.americastestkitchen.com/guides/vegan/what-is-aquafaba

2. Non-Dairy Milk. I use a variety of non-dairy milk products for most of my baking needs. I prefer oat milk, but I have successfully made nut milk in the past. I have used cashews and almonds.

Almond: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-almond-milk/
Cashew: https://cookieandkate.com/cashew-milk-recipe/
Rice: https://minimalistbaker.com/make-rice-milk/
Oat: https://minimalistbaker.com/make-oat-milk/

3. Cashew Cream. I use this for sour cream, as a soup thickener, as a base for dips, or a spread on a bagel. When baked it can be made into a hot-dip too. It has many variations. The recipe below shares with you how I made it and how I baked it into a recipe.

https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2017/09/vegan-tomato-tart-with-cashew-cream.html

I will add more items as I remember them. AGAIN, there is a lot going on in my home with a full house and I am having to readjust my normal routine.

The list below are a few things I use if I can't find what I am looking for at the store or on Amazon. I have had to switch to these things more and more in the last few weeks because the "regular" products are not currently available.

1. Nutritional Yeast. This product can be used as a cheesy flavor. I have made macaroni and cheese with it, as well as adding it to cashew cream to make a cheesy spread.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-nutritional-yeast-3376833

2. Amino Acids by Braggs. I use this to add a "beef" like flavoring to stews, mushrooms, and soups. It is also used as a substitute for soy sauce.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-braggs-liquid-aminos-3376805

3. Guar Gum/Xanthan Gum. I use this as a binding agent for baked goods and bread when baking gluten-free. NOTE: You can find an assortment of baked goods without this ingredient, but it does help when making bread. I found it interesting that in the stores I could not buy or find regular wheat flour and only gluten-free flours (rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, etc). These work well when blended and work even better with a binding agent like guar gum.

https://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/recipes/guar-gum-vs-xanthan-gum/
My gluten-free bread recipe: https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2011/06/9-gf-flat-bread.html

4. Unrefined Coconut Oil and other Oil Sources. I use this in place of butter in baked goods, pie crust, and as an oil to deep fry our foods. I prefer to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil when I can, but the flavor doesn't always lend itself to some baked goods. I order this oil by the bucket on Amazon. It is too expensive in the store (in my opinion). I have made tallow before too using beef bones. It is very strong in flavor and should be used sparingly.

Homemade Lard: https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2014/07/homemade-lard.html

5. Monk Fruit Powder. I use this in place of sugar. It takes granules to make anything sweet and can be stretched for a long period of time. It is expensive, but again a little bit goes a long way. I have this in my food storage because it will work in a pinch. Again, this is thinking outside of the box if you cannot find something you normally use. I don't have a reliable link to share with you about monk fruit. I suggest you do some research before you purchase.

6. Greek Yogurt. Yogurt is easy to make at home. I use this in place of sour cream in most of my recipes.

How to make yogurt: https://wellnessmama.com/59276/yogurt-recipe/
Vegan Yogurt in an Instapot: https://amindfullmom.com/instant-pot-coconut-milk-yogurt/
Greek Yogurt: https://www.liveeatlearn.com/greek-yogurt/

7. Lime Powder. I bought this for the first time last month to replace fresh lime and to provide some vitamin C to my kids in case we cannot get fresh lemons, limes, or oranges. I love it! I have used it in place of lime for tuna poke, guacamole, and a chicken dish. THIS IS NOT AN AD.

I use a brand I found on Amazon: ORGANIC LIME POWDER BY MICROINGREDIENTS SUPERFOOD.

8. Chia Seeds. These can be used in place of an egg or used to make jelly. I have used the chia egg a lot in baking but never made the jelly. I am hoping to try the jelly this summer with our blackberries.

How to make a chia egg. https://minimalistbaker.com/make-chia-egg/
Recipe for Strawberry Chia Jelly. https://cookieandkate.com/berry-chia-seed-jam-recipe/


Well, this is a start. It covers a few substitutes for milk, eggs, bread, sweetener, and oil.

I hope this update is helpful and will come in handy if you find yourself in need of a substitute.


If you have any suggestions or items you have used with success, as a substitute, please leave in the comments section, along with a link and I will add it to this list.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Rain, Rain, Please Don't Go Away


We enjoyed a week of sunshine and used it to the best of our abilities by working in our yard and working on the house. Yesterday we transplanted blueberry bushes and iris bulbs, put potatoes in the ground, and uncovered our strawberries from last year. We moved our chicken yard and tended to their beds. We trimmed bushes to provide more sunshine for the garden. Our blackberries are being trained to go around the garden so we can pick them a bit more easily. We are trying to get our family as prepared as possible to live off of the food in our yard and the neighboring woods.

Then it rained and we smiled.

I have spent a great deal of my life learning about herbs, mushrooms, wild fruits and berries, flowering plants, and gardening in preparation for a situation like the one we are in today. Not because I am a survivalist or someone who believes the end of the world is around the corner, but because I have lived through many natural disasters and being prepared is of great importance, peace of mind, and a way to help those around you.

Today our governor has issued a shut-in.  Oregon is now in a situation where we only leave for food, medical needs, prescriptions, and essential jobs. Our family has been lucky enough to stand through this strain and follow the request from a few weeks ago to stay home. Then it was a request, now it is an executive order.  Cory works from home and his job is still going strong. We can only hope this stays true for the remainder of this situation.

The rain came. It is so needed for a variety of reasons. Fires. We live in an area that has seen less and less rain over the last 20 years and the fear of fire is becoming a serious issue for us. When we have visitors to our town (which this should slow down effective today) the fear is always there. We have a small fire department. The rain will also deter people from visiting the beach, we hope. Not only will the rain keep visitors from coming to our town, but it will hopefully keep locals indoors too. For the most part, our locals are a community of like-minded people when it comes to the virus, but we have a few that feel this not a real "pandemic".

With the rain comes the opportunity for us to work inside. All those projects I keep putting off are now being finished. All those craft projects I want to work on are now being pulled out of the closet. We are making masks for our family and medical friends, our post lady, and my sister who still has to drive the school bus to deliver food to our kids in town. I am cooking...every...day...like I am feeding a small army.

We have 7 people in our home currently and it so appreciated. To have so many adults to help with lifting, shoveling, moving, and in helping with the little kids, has been the best part of this experience so far.

These daily updates are helping me to process a lot of the emotions and feelings I am having and will continue to have. It all feels like a dream to me some days. In fact, I wake up and forget for a minute and then I am reminded with the news that our lives have changed forever. We watched a movie with a crowded tree lot (a Christmas movie) and we looked at each other and wondered, "will we ever do that again". Of course, I know we will. Will we? Oh, this is a strange time in our world. One where I am happy and one where I am sad at the same time. One where I am relieved to have a slower schedule but stressed about my kids who are not working at the moment. So many changes with little answers or guidance other than history.

Rain. We need it and want it. It is a necessary force of nature that will hopefully allow us to stay fire-free, encourage a lower tourist number, keep our creeks and streams full, and provide us with an opportunity to finish and stary new projects inside. Rain, rain, please don't go away quite yet. We need you.

Take care friends. If you need a place to talk, leave a message and I will respond. I find it fascinating to read the stories of others and how they are responding to the pandemic. My experience is only of my slow life here at the beach with my family, but the world is filled with stories and we all have a place in this chapter of our history.

Have a great Monday!

Sherron

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Stay Home, Please!



I live in a small community with a large population of elderly people. We love them. They provide a great deal of art support, mentor possibilities, and insight. We lean on them to teach our local art classes, to learn the history of our community, and to remind us of what a gift it is to reach the age of wisdom.

I didn't use to think this way. I took for granted the ability to age and to become older, but more and more of my friends are not making it to their 50's and 60's. They are succumbing to illness, mostly cancer. Now, when I see an elderly couple, especially those that are couples, it stirs more emotion within my heart, I smile to myself, and I think of how precious life is. They made it.

Their lives are precious and need to be preserved, as do all the lives in my small community. We don't have the facilities to handle an over-burden medical situation that a larger city might have access to. We are limited on our grocery supplies, feed for our animals, and gas.

We have shared our beaches with the world every single day. All of Oregon beaches are open to the public and we love that they are enjoyed by millions of people each year. We gladly do this because we know how fun the beach is, how healing her waters are, how joyful a get-a-way is, but now is not the time. Now is the time to stay home. Shelter in.

This past weekend was the start of spring break in Oregon. Our beaches filled up. Our parks are full. Stores were packed. Our town is trying to unite as a community to help our fellow Newportians weather the virus storm, unemployment, no school, and other issues. We cannot do this with an additional 10-15 thousand visitors. Please, go home.

Use this time to reconnect, clean, garden, read a book, get caught up on your favorite TV show, build something, do a puzzle, learn a new craft or skill, play an instrument....stay home and use this time to do all the things we bitch and moan about not having the time to do!

We are.

I have been so impressed with my family. We are working together to prepare our garden, the yard, our sitting area outside, the fire pit, and the inside of our home. We have become a team. I cannot tell you how happy this is making my momma heart explode with love and joy. I am watching the older kids help the younger kids, the younger kids offering to help the adults, the adults lifting up each other. We laughed so hard this morning about a silly joke. It's the first time we have laughed as a group over a joke in a long time.

Our lives were too busy before. I admit we did that to ourselves. This time is allowing us to reevaluate what is important and what is not.

The US is not getting out of this situation without death and sorrow for some families. It's a fact. We will all be affected by this in some way. Find the compassion and empathy to put aside the urge, if this applies to you, to not travel except for essential items. Don't travel to small communities because you need to getaway. This is not a vacation. This is a time to unite as a human race and to try and stop this virus from stealing from our lives important people who we need and mean the world to us.

Stay home, please.

If you are staying home, thank you.

Thank you for doing your best to make this situation stay manageable for our healthcare workers. Thank you for listening to your local governments. Thank you for stepping up for your families. Thank you for working from home. Thank you for stopping your life for a short time to help the world combat this virus. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Thank you! 

Kids, I love you! When you are older and your kids ask about this, oh the story you will have to tell. A story that, I hope, is one with a happy ending for our family. I also hope I am there to listen to you tell it. I hope your Dad and I are able to say we did the best we could and we survived the Coronavirus. I hope with all my heart this to be true.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Don't Stop Trying



Yesterday. It seems so long ago as my days all roll into one long day. I don't look at the calendar anymore. There are no appointments, no rehearsals, no playdates, no shopping days, and the list goes on. I'm not sad. I am relieved. I am happy to have this time to sleep more, spend it with the kids, organize my house, and get back to nature. Is this what it takes to return to a less-stress life? A pandemic? There has to be a greater lesson in all of this and I hope when my grandkids read about this time in our life from my journals and this blog. I hope they know that we were trying to stay positive in a horrible situation, we tried to become as self-sufficient as we could, we tried to stay inside and allow social distancing to stop this horrible virus.

I hope they know we tried.

We are trying.

This week has been all over the board with preparation, emotions, and busywork. Some of the things we are trying to wrap up are getting our garden ready. We bought seeds and starters. We are completely quarantined in our home and plan on being this way for some time. We will be growing our own food this summer and relying on the water to provide us with crab, fish, and shell food. We have enough dry goods to last a while but not forever. We are hoping this virus will slow down but nobody has a crystal ball and food is essential to our survival. Half of our small community lost their jobs this week. We don't live in a big city. We depend on tourism to live, if people don't come, then what? Our part is to take the burden off of an already hard situation. One way of doing this will be to feed our own family and provide food for others in our neighborhood.

I am making masks. Today I will pull out my fabric and make 10 masks for my family. If I have more time  (which I should next week) then I will make masks until my fabric is all gone for our hospital and required personnel in different capacities. This is in case my family becomes ill and we have to take care of someone, even if they have a cold. We will try to contain our own illnesses so that others will not become sick with anything! We are watching our friends have to make some serious decisions about health-related issues because healthcare is overwhelmed with our future care needs. Specifically pushing off cancer treatments, canceling dental appointments, and checkups for internal issues.  We are trying to be more mindful of those around us and take care of our own bodies and minds.

We have written up all of our passwords, printed documents, talked about "what if we get it", made a plan of where to quarantine those in our family for those who may get it, talked about last rights, burial situations, taken cash out for emergencies, filled up our cars with gas, and committed to staying home. We will not go out unless we absolutely have to and then it will only be one person. Cory and I will not be doing anything together. If someone is sick, one of us will take care of them. If we need to go to the store, one of us will go. Our kids come first and losing both parents (if it gets that bad and we hope it doesn't) is something neither of us wants them to experience.

We are trying to be prepared.

On Monday I was worried, by Wednesday I was centered and ready to live the life of a pioneer, and yesterday, well, I was scared. I was worried. I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I cried for the first time. All of this is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. None of us really know what to expect, we just know it will get worse before it gets better.  I am allowing myself to process these emotions and not try to hide them. It's okay to be sad and then pick yourself up. It is okay to laugh one minute and then cry. It is okay to create a fun afternoon for your kids and then work in the morning. It is okay to over-prepare and then rest for a day. It is okay to homeschool or not homeschool. It is okay to take time for yourself to process this information. I

t is okay. It will be okay.

Kids, keep trying. Don't ever stop trying. This applies to yourself, your education, your jobs, your relationships, your crafts and skills, your desires and passions, and most of all, to the Universe. Don't stop trying to be mindful of the beautiful place you live, the choices you make, and how you decide to prepare yourself for any situation. Try to be self-sufficient, stay out of debt, get your education, find a great community of family and friends, find love, find humor in life, slow down, and live a full life which is balanced and full of charity, empathy, and an open heart.

Trying doesn't always lead to success, but I am not convinced that is the end goal anyway. I think trying is about experimenting, thinking outside the box, creating a blueprint and then changing it as you go. Trying is an attitude, a motion moving forward, an attempt to become better.

Please don't stop trying.







Friday, March 20, 2020

Be True to Yourself



Yesterday was a great day at home. Our kids helped in the yard, we cleaned up the firepit, trimmed some trees, and absorbed the sun. Yesterday I wrote a post that hit a few chords of "sensitivity" with some of my readers. Thank you for your feedback and unfollow. It was a blessing.

I have been so afraid for years, while writing this blog, to be myself out of fear of offending someone or having others feel attacked. I am mindful of the power of my words and how others might interpret my writing. This fear has held me back, it has created a weird bubble. Yesterday I laughed so hard when I read the harsh "words" thrown at me for a simple sentence of frustration, and belief. It was my opinion. I have been afraid to write my truth. My understanding of my belief system and value system. I fucking hate the power of fear and how it can control our lives.

So today is a new day. This virus, your comment (I'm looking at you anonymous reader) has given me a new lease on life and my words. I don't give a fuck. I am entitled to my own value system and my own opinion. I am allowed to be myself, even on this platform. I am not writing to make anyone feel better about their political views or belief system. I am a firm believer in being true to yourself, but for some reason, I lost that with this blog. I lost my voice. I lost my value system because I was trying to be neutral. I was trying to protect my abuser. I was trying to protect a family of narcissistic bullies. I was trying to be liked.  I don't care if you like me or not. This blog is for people who enjoy food, art, travel, love life, who have a community mentality, who love their neighbors, who value others' differences, who are inclusive, and who don't get offended because I don't believe exactly as you do.

My experiences have brought me to who I am today. Just like your experiences have brought you to where you are. I have lived through tragedy, illness, death, job loss, religious crisis, and mental health issues...just like so many of the people around me and here. These are the things that make us different, that mold us, and allow us to be EMPATHETIC to others.

So kids, listen. Listen and learn. People will judge you your whole life for doing everything. EVERYTHING! Develop an idea that "you do you" and "they do them"...then accept differences. Enjoy the uniqueness that we each are allowed to be. Find those people who accept and love you for being true to you. You will attract your community if you let others see the true YOU. This does not mean you have to sacrifice your self to please others. It is not our job to worry about what others think about your choices. I have spent my whole life worrying about how my actions will affect others to the point that it has paralyzed me. If THEY feel uncomfortable...they leave. If THEY don't like what you say...they leave or unfollow.  We are responsible for our own actions, and there will be consequences, but THEY are in charge of changing, leaving, setting limits, and going elsewhere too. I have had to do this myself. It's called adulting and sometimes it is the hardest decision and others times it is a feeling of relief. We are in charge of being the best we can, learning from others, and listening to our value system. Correcting any flaws we have. Changing any harm we do to others. It's a system of giving and taking.

There are people who are just givers and there are takers. Learn the difference in others and find the balance in yourself. Be true to yourself and your community will rise out of the ashes.

Hang in their friends and thank you for the comments.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Enjoy Today




I'm not sure what to write. I'm not sure what to share. I just know that I will begin writing more. Not for you, not for me, but for my kids. I want my kids to understand that our life, as we know it, has changed forever. It's crazy to believe this or recognize it, but it has.

We are nearing the end of our first week of no school, one member in our family has already lost their job, one person is working more than ever, and two are being told they will get paid through this process. Uncertainty is around every corner.

Our family, from the first day President Trump mentioned in his first remarks that "everything is fine", we knew it wasn't. And now? It isn't. Thank goodness we followed our gut and went with what we read through his bullshit.

Today I woke up deciding to write more, do less restricted school work, and to love more. We are not guaranteed anything. This virus is moving quickly and no one is exempt. I worry about my son who is in another city. I worry about my young daughters. I worry about my husband who is on medications. I worry about me. I worry about my sister who is a cancer survivor. I worry about my oldest daughter who feels a great responsibility to protect her parents because she is afraid of losing us.

I used to worry about writing to much, too personally, to raw, to whatever. I'm so tired of worrying about what others think, what they want, what they will interpret, and what they wish to be offended by. Today starts a new day for me. I will write every day. I will write my thoughts, my fears, my hopes, dreams, and my life.

To be honest, this all feels so expected. I feel like my whole life I have been preparing for this kind of situation. I am a fighter and a survivor.

I won't over-edit, I won't second guess...I will just write.  Follow along if you wish or unfollow. It is that simple. I love my readers and I love to respond to questions and thoughts, but I won't pander to anyone anymore for the sake of a follower. I am writing to my children and their children.

My first bit is to simply enjoy today. Enjoy the simple beauties of this Earth. Enjoy your family. Enjoy the little things. I look around and see my world-changing and I want nothing more than to protect my family from what is happening, but it seems like an uphill battle. I am choosing today to simply appreciate the beach, our health, our ability to have become debt-free over the last year, the joy we feel for the warm sun, the love of our chickens who are giving us eggs each day, and so many other things. My kids are still asleep. This is my time to appreciate the fact that I can still write, have a positive attitude, love them, teach them, and show them how to endure hard situations.

I've said this before and I will continue to say it, "it's not the struggle that matters but how you handle the pressure and the stress which details our future lives". We are showing compassion to others by offering help and mindfulness. We are allowing all the feelings to be explored. We are coming together as a community to share this burden.

I don't know what the future holds and maybe I don't want to know. Maybe it is too grave to fully understand, but I can control today and how I choose to move forward. Today we will enjoy it.

Enjoy today Rye, Drake, Isabella, and Finnley.

Love, Mom




Friday, January 24, 2020

Why Keep a Journal? #artiststoolbox


"Get Lost in Your Art"
For Sale: 30X40 on canvas. Mixed Media.  Contact me for shipping and pricing.

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2. Join the email list on the home page. 
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Journaling is a great way to unlock your passions, dreams, authenticity, and soul.  I began journaling as a kid. I remember sharing stories of frustrating experiences and highlights of my life. My journal was a way for me to express my experiences.

What I am learning is that journaling is more than just a place to park our experiences. It is a place to learn to grow, to listen to your heart, to make lists, to challenge yourself, to become better, to address challenges, to feel safe, to define your future, to think big.

Ultimately, a journal is a place for you to be whole. A journal should be a safe place for you to unlock what drives you, holds your attention, and defines your passion. A key to your future greatness.

I find time each day to write in my journal. I write when I can. Ideally, the morning is best, but let's be real, I have kids and a morning filled with rushing and running. I don't let this keep me from my goal of daily journal writing. I keep my journal with me. I pull it out waiting to pick kids up after school, in the grocery store, getting coffee, parked at the beach, or waiting. I spend a lot of time waiting for my family.

Writing is addictive. Journaling is binding to our souls because writing in our journals allows our voices to be heard, shared, and expressed in ways that are creative, raw, authentic, and fluid. No one can argue with your words. No one can change your mind. No one can interrupt you. It's YOU time.

Journaling is YOUR TIME.  A time to be real. It's YOU time.

Writing is an opportunity to release what is inside your heart, soul, and mind. It is fundamental to well-being. When we release our desires we release tension. We release burdens. We release energy. We invite change, results, passions, and dreams to come to fruition.


Writing in our journals allows us to be heard, for us to focus on goals, to challenge our own words, to put into writing things we don't have the heart to speak out loud. A journal allows us to honor our truth.

Journaling gives you a chance to be real with yourself. To be honest with the strains of life.

I encourage you to pick up a pencil/pen and start writing. I try to write for 20 minutes a day. I use small journals because I feel accomplished when I fill one up. I no longer write in those thick fancy journals. I buy journals that are in packages of 4-6, have maybe 70 pages, are light enough to carry in my purse, and which feel like a small part of my soul. I usually write 3-4 pages a day. Sometimes it is just a paragraph. Life happens and I get busy, but my goal is to write every day, and I do.

Challenge yourself to write for a week. See if you feel better, feel inspired, feel less burdened, feel more insightful, and feel authentic.  Do you feel better? Is your head more clear? Are you hearing any new inspirations trickle out through your writing?

If you're not sure where to start or how,  HERE is a link to guide you through the process.

Let's get started.

1.    Find a journal.  I like something simple and with a limited number of pages.
2.    Set aside time each day. 
3.    Set a timer. (Only if your time is limited, otherwise, write until you stop.)
4.    Let your mind roam, wander, explore, and then write it ALL down. 
5.    Writer's block? Keep going!
6.    Write sentences or just words, write fast or write slow...just write!  Let it out.
7.    Don't worry. Don't feel guilty. Don't erase your words.
8.    Be authentic. 
9.    Be truthful.
10.  Return each day.

Have fun with journaling. Let your mind explore the inner thoughts of your soul. I promise this one thing will expand your artistic world if you use it every day. Every night I ask the universe to unfold a new key to my success. To channel my soul into the words for my journal. You will be amazed at what you will uncover, discover, and learn.

GOOD LUCK!



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My Book List for 2020

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
All About Love by Bell Hooks
Walking in this World by Julia Cameron 
The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD 
Living, Loving, and Learning by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D (New Book added this week)

*This is not an ad. I do not make any money off of the links above.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

How do we Change the Rules of our Lives?


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2. Join the email list on the home page. 
3. Explore recipes.  Number one recipe on my blog: Jalapeno Popper Dip
4. To leave a comment click on the title of this article, and then scroll to the bottom of the article. All Comments are monitored and will be posted soon.
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Have you ever just thrown a wish or a thought out to the Universe to see what happens?

Putting your intentions into motion to see what manifests in our lives might sound scary. Some days it is, but on other days, your intentions are heard, seen, and you get answers. This is how I find peace in my world. I accept that there is an energy that exists to help and guide us when we ask for it. I am always surprised at what I find, at what I didn't know I needed, and how the words written by others have shaped the person I am today. Ask for what you need. Ask your spiritual "guides or God" for the things you need. Put what you want out into the Universe and see what happens. This is the first step in changing the rules of your life.

I was scrolling through a few Instagram accounts and stumbled upon Jackie Cantwells. She had a long post about the decision she has made to live an authentic life and to be herself. She describes how freeing it feels. She describes how she changed the rules of her life to fit her authentic self.

One area of focus she discusses is challenging the rules. This really made me stop and think for a day or two. We are surrounded by rules. The key is knowing which ones to follow and which ones to pass. There are rules for safety, crowd control, political movements, financial situations, parenting, our places of employment, partnerships of marriage and relationships, etc... In her message, she is discussing the rules we make for our life or life plan. 

We are over-loaded with rules and shoulds and musts which were mostly instilled upon us at an early age by parents, teachers, church clergy, and employers. Rules can consume us if we are not careful.

Rules are necessary, but some rules can be changed or revised. Getting to a certain age (like myself) I became over-burden with my earlier life plan rules. I made a change. I consciously had to rewrite how I was going to live my life. I wanted it to include happiness, adventure, travel, my family, employment on my terms, and a sense of purpose. I personally was tired of going through the motions of my life, but not on my own terms.

I am not one to often say that rules need to be broken. I don't make a habit of breaking rules. But the rules for my life plan? That is different. My life today looks much different than it did when I lived with my parents, from when I was newly married, from when I had my first child and my first job. I will challenge life path rules because they are usually rules I didn't always get to choose. Some things I chose but changed my mind or left behind. Religion and politics come to mind. My views today are different from my 20-year-old self. I rebooted and started new. I rewrote the rules for my life.



Life rules are some of the heaviest and hardest to break and rewrite. Often, the way we live our lives is because someone we loved influenced us at an earlier age.  Changing a view, thought, or action may feel like a betrayal. It may cause others to cringe. It is hard. Change is hard.

Below are a few suggestions I have chosen to do in my own life. Of course, we are all unique and come from a variety of backgrounds and environments. What would you add to this conversation? What changes are helping you to live a more authentic life? Have you been met with resistance from others? Are you happier? 

Please leave comments and let's start a discussion about living our most authentic life.

Become comfortable with being misunderstood.  Change is hardest when it involves other people, especially those we love the most. To be your authentic self requires a person to be willing to put themselves first.  I read this in Walking in this World by Julia Cameron.  It is so true. To be authentic and the rule-maker of your life, you have to be willing to be misunderstood. Why? Because people will challenge you and your goals, values, and self. You have to be okay with being okay with having thoughts, ideas, values, and goals that don't meet the needs of those around you.

Reset boundaries. We have walls and boundaries from early in our youth. It is how we protected ourselves from getting hurt and becoming vulnerable. Being vulnerable with our authenticity as we get older doesn't get easier, but it does become necessary. The older I get the more I believe this to be true. In my 50's I have attracted the right people into my life because I chose to put myself and my needs first. What has this approach done for me? It allowed me to feel fulfilled, to feel heard, to balance my life better, and to be a better mom, friend, and wife. It forced me to stop projecting my wants onto other people. When I decided to listen to my desires and wants, I became less codependent on others. I stopped projecting my happiness onto others. I became more independent.

Set goals. Keep a journal. I write three pages every morning. Write out your goals. Make a vision board. Tell a friend. Practice positive affirmations to allow yourself to be open to new goals and visions of your life. Start small. Work towards those goals to create the life you want with the rules you made.

Listen.  Turn off the radio and TV. Put your phone down. Find a quiet place and listen. Listen to the young child that wants to be heard, to the person who wants to be active, the inner being who wants to try something new, the individual who wants to change the rules but doesn't know where to begin.

Find your inner voice. Not the voice in your head that holds onto the negative biases, but the voice of you longing to do certain things, the promptings to be a certain way, the authenticity of YOU.

Connect with nature. We hear this a lot and it is true. Fresh air is a clearing process. Walking on a trail, along the shores, up a mountain, or riding your bike, scootering, or swimming are suggestions.

You will need to rise to your best self to live your best life, which means:

You make your own life plan rules. 

I am far from being completely transitioned to my authentic self. I can tell you, though, I am almost there. I feel alive and vivid. I feel full of life and adventure. I see myself as valid, important, and satisfied. I don't feel vacant, left behind, empty, or unsatisfied. My family gets the best of me. I encourage them to be their authentic selves too. Together we are creating a platform in our home of loving each other as unique, diversified, and whole people.

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My Book List for 2020

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
All About Love by Bell Hooks
Walking in this World by Julia Cameron 
The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD (New to list)

*This is not an ad. I do not make any money off of the links above.
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Thursday, January 9, 2020

It's Okay to be a High-Achiever



After I wrote,  Breathe in 2020  last week, I received some beautiful feedback from friends. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I believe we are here to encourage, motivate, love, and unite each other when we can and to the best of our abilities.

One comment I received was from a friend who mentioned I was a hummingbird, like what Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned in her youtube talk, Don't Chase Your Passion and Maybe You'll Find It. Like a hummingbird, I tend to bounce around from project to project or idea to idea. Watch below:


This got me thinking about something else I read recently, the phrase "high-achieving person". In my mind, a hummingbird, among the bird species, is a very high achieving pollinator.

What does high-achieving mean? I read this term for the first time, last week while perusing one of my favorite Instagram people in the world. Her name is Danielle, and she is an OB/GYN and a mom and so many other things. You can find her HERE at Mamadoctorjones. She gives everyone permission to do hard things, to accomplish your goals, and to multi-task. She encourages non-judgment, stimulates excellent conversations about having babies, and supports the mindset of accomplishing all types of things, while simultaneously, being a mom, working, and existing with hobbies and volunteer work. Did you notice I used the word AND? She considers herself a high-achieving person and wants to share with others, if we feel connected to this phrase, that it's okay to identify this way.

This is not to say that if you can't do all of these things...you are less.
This is not saying....you are broken, subpar, or less because you can't do all of these things.

Read those two statements again, if you need to.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

I know many people who are doing the best they can while working and/or staying home, but there are a few you might wonder to yourself if they sleep, eat, or even slow down? "They" being the people on social media, or playgroup, or at the school PTA meeting. Those who seem to do it all, all the time. "They" appear to do everything. But do they? Maybe. Just maybe they do a lot of things because they identify as a high-achieving personality.

People who are high achieving come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and ethnicity. Some do it as a single person, some as a family person, and some are divorced, married, or in between. What I am trying to say is there isn't a formula or a box you can put a person in who feels they are a high-achiever. It is who they are. They exist in a state of high energy, high expectations, and an ability to multi-task at a high level. (I know all about the studies on multitasking and how we as humans don't do this well.)

Again, this doesn't mean these individuals are doing something better, it simply means, and quite possibly, this is who they are as an individual. I know for me personally, I have tried to slow down and do less. You know what? It makes me unhappy. I feel better while busy. I feel better being a hummingbird than a jackhammer.

On the flip side of the activity, we do slow down, we get tired, and we feel exhausted at times. We struggle, like everyone else, to balance and juggle the many hands that we have in the cookie jar (and eat cookies once in a while). We argue with our selves about fitness, eating, education, political strife, and volunteering more. We wrestle with the same issues that other people experience, this does not make us different. We might be unique. We might appear to have all of our shit together. We might be on the verge of exploding. Just like all moms, women, and people. We are not different in our thoughts and motivations when it comes to our family's success, our own success, and our efforts placed at worthy causes.

High achieving people don't come in one size either. I have friends that are running multiple companies, who are serving on several boards, and who are taking care of grandkids/kids while going to school, working full-time, and rocking the "significant other" hat. The idea of a high-achieving person, to me, is someone who has a little extra energy each day, we can't stand to not be busy most of the time (we still like vacations), and we sense there is a purpose.

I guess what I am saying is if you identify as such-- it's okay. If you don't--it's okay. We need all types of personalities to help this world run and function, for our families to operate, and for creative souls to continue to "pollinate" the world with their gifts and talents.

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:

Are you a jackhammer or a hummingbird? Do you identify as a high-achieving person? What are some of your talents and gifts? How do you share your knowledge? Are you an artist? 

What would you add to this discussion? What do you agree or disagree with? Let's explore this topic together. Leave your comments below.

My Book List for 2020

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer
A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
All About Love by Bell Hooks
Walking in this World by Julia Cameron (NEW TO LIST)

*This is not an ad. I do not make any money off of the links above.



Friday, January 3, 2020

Breathe in 2020

This painting is for sale. It is an original on 30X40 canvas painted with acrylic. I painted this after having an especially challenging week and realizing I needed to breathe more and slow down. Air is an element I like to capture. Please email if interested in purchasing or leave a comment.  

Breathe
is a word I want to hold onto for 2020. I have spent a lot of time this past year learning to breathe for my soul. What does that mean? Well, to me, it means understanding my internal rhythms and listening to my inner voice, following my desires and passions, and saying yes more.

One of my passions is art. I have dabbled in art for many years and found myself wavering between having a hobby and hustling for a profession. This past year I allowed myself to say yes to hard things, specifically putting myself in front of the public eye. I have always struggled with perfectionism and outside perceptions. This paralyzed my mental state on many occasions.

How did I change this? By saying yes to hard things that made me feel uncomfortable.  Saying YES forced me to step outside my comfort zone. I learned to accept my failings, I accepted a lower standard, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Last January I was given the opportunity to be in a play with my daughter. This is something I thought would be fun (for about 5 minutes) and then I panicked. There was no way I could do this, who did I think I was. I had never acted before. I immediately tried to wiggle myself out of this situation, but the director said no. He needed me, he had faith in me, and it was a small part (non-verbal--which turned into 3 speaking parts).  I went to every rehearsal "faking it". I faked it until I made it. I acted my heart out and I loved every second of the performance. It was fun!

Fast forward to the summer and I get a phone call from the same director. He had a show. (oh, great) but I listened, and to my surprise, I was offered the lead role. WHAT? OH MY GOD! I said yes.

Again, I panicked and called him back. He again said, "no, you can do this." How does this happen? By saying yes and breathing (a lot)!

We have to get outside of our comfort zone to live a life we want. We have to accept our abilities and listen to those around us who SEE our potential. Get outside our heads and into our souls.

Here's the thing, I always wanted to act. I always felt like I could do a good job. I secretly wanted this. It wasn't until I jumped without a safety net and things turned out way better than I could have ever expected. This led me to say yes to my art too. Being a performer is fantastic, but being an artist and expressing myself on canvas was the lucky charm in this whole story. This year I will pattern my life after my desire to be an artist.

So, this year. I am breathing in more YES, more opportunity, and more soulful passion about what I desire and want. I am an actor, I am an artist, and I am enough to be both.

2020 is going to be a great year.

SAY YES to 2020

Books I read in 2019 that helped me to say YES to my desires, passions, and soul:

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer
A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
All About Love by Bell Hooks


*This is not an ad. I do not make any money off of the links above.


Finding Our Routine

We have been quarantined at our home for about 3 weeks. Lizzie had shingles for the first week which kept us home before the pandemic ...