Monthly Archives: October 2015

Honor Your Darkness – A Poem

Honor your darkness,

Your shadows,

Your depths.

Honor the place in you that only you know about.

Honor the place that you fear.

Honor that which is in you.

For within the depth of the darkness,

We find our light.

We know not what light is,

Without the dark.

We know not elation

Without the needed tribulation.

Not all of it is Rainbows and Starlight,

But without the rain,

we have no rainbows.

Without the dark of night,

Stars are invisible.

So honor your darkness.

Honor the genesis of your rainbow.

Honor yourself.

Inside.

Outside.

All sides.

Chicken Divan – A Family Favorite

A friend of mine gave me this recipe.  It is FANTASTIC.  I really like it, as does everyone in my family, including my 3 year old.

I’ve made a few changes to the original, but it is so simple, and yummy.

Ingredients:

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cover the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking dish with the shredded chicken. IMG_0566
  3. Cover that with the partially cooked florets (cook these for about half the time you usually do)IMG_0573
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayo, condensed soup, and  1/2 cup of cheese.IMG_0567IMG_0569
  5. Spread this on top of the chicken and broccoli.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining half cup of cheese over the casserole.IMG_0578
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.IMG_0580
  8. Serve over rice.  (Rice how-to here)

Notes:

As you can see from the pictures, I basically just cover the bottom of the dish with chicken and layer the broccoli over.  As you make it, you may find you like more or less chicken or broccoli.  Again, it’s up to you and what you like.  That’s one of the big pluses of cooking for yourself.

The flavors in the soup is so delicious I find I don’t need to add any extra spices.  The brand is made of whole natural ingredients.  You are not eating chemical soup with this, you are still eating real food. So if you are looking for a good replacement for your Campbell’s Cream of Whatever, I highly recommend these soups.

Honor Your Light – A Poem

It’s undeniable:

When you’re lit up.

When you honor that which lights you up.

You light up more.

You light up those around you.

So honor your light,

Honor your joy,

Do what makes your soul soar,

Your belly fill with butterflies

and Your Spirit Roar.

You Jump.

Not knowing if you’ll be caught,

but knowing the ride will be worth it.

No

Matter

the

Outcome.

Honor your light.

 

Stop Trying to Convince Yourself

I recently published a post about how good everything is waking up early, living in the country and living my dream:  “I Get To

I still stand by this post.  Sometimes the day-to-day is a drag and we have to remind ourselves of how lucky and blessed we are.

But sometimes, we spend so much time “focusing on the positive” and “looking at the bright side” that we are blind to the fact that the choices we are currently making are not serving us, and therefore, not serving the world around us.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look for ways that we are blessed every day in every way.

What I am saying is that we need to be honest with ourselves when certain life choices aren’t working.  And when they aren’t working, we need make the changes needed to live the best life we can possibly live.

And I truly believe that each and every one of us has an inner barometer.  If we are quiet with ourselves, we absolutely know what is right for us.  The right path to take.  The right decisions to make when it comes to living your absolute purpose.  What will make you the most happy.

Because, as the Dali Lama says, “The purpose of life is to be happy.”  A deep, true sense of happy.  Not the sleeping in, eating-too-much, drinking-too-much-kind-of-happy.  The kind of happy where you feel quietly fulfilled.  The kind of happy that you feel when you lose yourself in nature.  When I take a deep breath on a cool crisp day in Autumn, everything falls away, and I am just happy.

And in quietness, we know what we need, and what we need to let go.

So if our whole being is expending energy to convince ourselves that we are happy, and seeking the light in our continual heartbreak, perhaps it is time for a change.  Instead of using coping mechanism after coping mechanism, what if we left the cause of the pain?  That way, we can focus our energies and our love for a greater good, our greater calling; instead of focusing it on our grief.

Although, there are times when we do just have to endure, and reach down deep and use coping mechanism after coping mechanism.

But what if..

Your kid or spouse is sick?

Endure. But you knew that.  In your quiet moments, you know you are meant to support and love and be there.

I’m not saying stop doing challenging things.  I’m saying move away from doing things that suck the life and love out of you. Move towards things that bring you light and joy.

Personal Example:

Running is a challenge.  I’m slow.  I’ve had stress fractures and have never placed in any race I’ve ever been in.  Getting out the door is a struggle, but it’s also a wonderful experience.  I feel more alive and more like me when I’m doing it and after I’ve done it.  More running make me happier.  It is a challenge,  but I’m not spending energy convincing myself I love it.  Once I have to use my energy to convince myself that running is wonderful, when I feel it just is not for me, I give myself permission to move on.

I am not defined by the activities that I participate in.  If I decide to quit running I am still me.  But right now, it is one of the things that gives me joy.

Walking away from what sucks us dry is a beautiful, powerful and smart thing to do.  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of courage.

Another way to look at this:

I have two bachelors degrees: One in applied Mathematics, and one in Economics.

In Economics, there is a theory is called “Sunk Costs“.  This theory applies to decision making in all cases.  However, most of the time, it is cited in business decisions.  The idea is that when making a decision,  look at the pros and cons currently in front of you, do not consider what has already been invested into a project.  A sunk cost is a cost that has already been invested and cannot be recovered.

For example: You buy a car that turns out to be a lemon.  You have made $1,000 of repairs and a week later, you find out you need to make another $500 worth of repairs.  When making the decision of whether or not to spend another $500 for repairs, the initial $1,000 should not be considered.  That $1,000 is a sunk cost and cannot be recovered, no matter what decisions are made. So if it is a good decision to invest $500 in car, it is good regardless of the $1,000 spent a week earlier.

A more personal example: I have spent time and money (and a lot of ego), wrapped up in homesteading.  I defined myself to be a homesteader.  It is what I strove to be.   I read and yearned.  I bought canning supplies and books.  But one day, I found that homesteading felt like a burden.  So, after much thought (quiet time, and more listening to myself actually), I decided to let myself drift away from it.  The fact that I spent huge amounts of time and effort in the pursuit of homesteading did not influence the fact that it was no longer fulfilling me as it once did.  The time and efforts I put into homesteading were sunk costs.

It is important to listen to our heart in our decision making process.  Our heart knows best when you are open to listen to its truth.

The reality is that the truth that you are seeking is already in you.

 

The Power of Moving On

As you saw from My Not So Simple Confession, I’ve decided to change gears in my life a little bit, for  now.

I’ve allowed for myself to switch directions a bit.  And I’ve given myself the freedom to go back.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and it certainly wasn’t the hardest time I’ve done this.

Switching directions, without getting mad at myself is incredibly freeing.

It also helps me to see myself for myself.  I’m not a gardener, or a writer, or a runner.  I am a person who does those things.  When I stop doing one of those things, I’m still me.

The me-ness of me hasn’t changed.

The most difficult change I ever made in my life was quitting grad school.

I had dreamed of getting my PhD and teaching on the college level.  I dreamed of being called “Doctor Reeder”.  These were all labels that I held dearly to my identity.

But when I got to graduate school in Iowa, I was miserable and I was lonely.  I had no friends, and the study of economics was getting boring to me. And getting your PhD is an insanely intense pursuit.

If I quit, it seemed I had failed. I had nothing to go back to. But I was miserable in Iowa.

I traveled back to Pennsylvania from Iowa for my Christmas break and had a lovely time.  While on break, I agonized about what to do, with no clear answer.

I went to a party at my friend’s parents’ house.  While there, I talk to my friend’s mom, and told her I was thinking about quitting grad school and coming home.

I was expecting disappointment, judgement, or overall let down.  But do you know what I got?

I got a huge hug.  She said to me, “Oh, Julia, we would love to have you home!”.

That’s what I needed to hear.  No one cared about my degree.  No one that mattered anyway.  I would still be me, even if I gave up one of the biggest defining parts of my life.

Her love gave me the courage to move forward and do what I needed to do in order to be happy.

I was able to move on.

This lesson has allowed me to move through other parts of my life more seamlessly.

Continuing to do something or be in a relationship just because it defines you can be comfortable, but it’s also soul crushing and heavy.  Moving on from that soul crushing project or job or relationship can be difficult and terrifying, but so freeing.

And the more freedom you give yourself to move on, the more freedom you allow yourself to become the best version of yourself.  And that seems to make other transitions easier.

Your Life is Your Biggest Work of Art

Living deliberately.  Not going with the flow.

Choosing what’s right for you, because it’s right for you.

Or choosing it because it’s comfortable, even if it’s wrong for you.

No Matter what,

It’s your choice.

Your life is a work of art.

It’s your greatest, ultimate creation.

The small decisions you make everyday add up to one big creation in the end.

No matter what you chose or how you decide,

It’s yours.

No one else’s.

Like a painter, who selects brushes, colors, paint types and strokes.

Most decisions small and some large, all adding to one large creation.

That’s life.

You are responsible for your own life, and your own creation in the end.

My Not So Simple Confession

Some Facts:

I am an enthusiastic, all-in, 100% kind of person.

I have not posted on here in a while.

I have been neglecting my garden. On purpose.

I have been having a lot of fun lately, and am okay with both of the above facts.

My story:

Background:

I was in love with the idea of homesteading.  I still am.  But given that I am such an “all-in” kind of person, the second we moved to our mini-homestead, I got to work.  Within weeks of moving in, I had a large garden planned, I had chickens ordered, and my dreams were going BIG.

In fact, I’m staring at a paper where I posted my goals as a homesteader.  One of my goals was to supply 50% of our food needs.  I don’t think I got really close, but most of our meals contained at least one ingredient (and sometimes most of its ingredients) from our land.  While this gave ( and gives) me a great sense of pride and fulfillment, I felt like I was lacking something in my life.

My life was filled with working a full-time, high-stakes, high-stress job, and still is.  And then when I got off of work, I had a constant to-do list.  I had to pull the weeds, I had to plant the seeds, I had to harvest, then I had to be sure to process the harvest so it wouldn’t go to waste.  I always felt behind and I always felt like I was failing. Failing as a homesteader, Failing as a mom, Failing as a wife.

My garden began to feel like I was never done.  Never good enough.  It felt heavy.  It felt like a burden.  But it also felt good to eat from my garden.  My pride was swelling.  My ego was full.  From gardening? From eating off your land?  Yes, it was almost 100% ego driven.

The breaking point(s):

This happened in stages.  I started to feel weighed down.  Even if I wasn’t working on the chickens or working on the garden.  and when I wasn’t doing that, I was feeling guilty.

Stress of Meat Chickens:

We had a fox in the area.  This is a very similar story to the hawk from last year.  The fox would get through our electric fence, God knows how, and attack a chicken.  The fox must not have been big enough to actually pull the chicken, just big enough to hurt them.  So the fox would attack.  I would hear the awful  noise of a chicken in pain in the early morning hours.

This noise is almost indescribable, but it’s clear that the animal is in pain.  This first time this happened was at 5 am.  I had to butcher the chicken.  It was just about time to butcher it anyway.  but I was not prepared.  I was late to work and emotionally exhausted.

I had butchered a chicken before, but it was with the help of my dad, and I was a little more prepared for this. The actual taking of the chickens’ life was peaceful, and I know the chicken was not in pain.  On the other side of the coin, when I had to butcher the chicken that was attacked by the fox, it was clear the chicken was in pain.  It was so sad to hear, and my heart wept.  I cried when I was finished.  The images haunted me throughout the day.

I had no choice but to butcher the chicken.

Then, the fox struck again, but must have been able to drag the chicken off.  This was easier to deal with.

I stopped sleeping well.  I was always on alert for that fox.  Many times, I would hear an odd sound outside, and wake up in the middle of the night to run outside to try and scare a fox away.

To set the stage:  My husband and kid went on a weekend trip away, so  I had planned to butcher chickens.  Not something I was looking forward to, but something that had to be done. If you’re going to raise them, butchering them is part of it.

A week after the last strike, it was a blue  moon.  My husband and child were gone for the weekend, and I was home alone.  It was Saturday, around 2 am, and I was planning on butchering on Saturday, by myself.  I was sad that I would be butchering the next day and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I woke up to that awful sound. I hoped I was wrong.  But when I checked two chickens were injured and one was dead, but still warm to the touch.

My butchering had to start right then and there.  I started with the most injured chicken, did the next most injured.  When they were done, I processed the dead one.  It was sad and exhausting.  When I was done, I had no emotional energy left.  AND I had five more chickens that needed to be butchered.

I waited a week and butchered them.

At that point, I was so emotionally exhausted, I ordered a turkey from Ledamete Farm and named the two we were raising for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We now have two turkey pets: Priscilla and Turkey Lurky.  They entertain us and help provide a richer soundtrack of country living with their gobbling.

Lack of Adventure:

Before we moved to the country, we were rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking. I was running and biking and had a fulfilling yoga practice.  Moving here, I cast those activities off, and focused on homesteading.  While I enjoy(ed) it, I felt so one dimensional.  I felt like I was missing a part of me.

So I made a decision:

Something’s got to give. I can’t have it ALL.  My job, being a good mom, my homestead, my blog, my adventure.  I had to determine what made me me.  What made me tick.  What lit me up, made me feel alive.

What can I talk about all night?

What makes my heart happy?

What am I doing when I feel drunk off life?

And I came to a conclusion.  I have a few loves in my life: I love my family.  They are a source of deep joy.  I love adventure, activity and the outdoors.  I feel whole and like my truest self in that arena.  I love to express myself through written word.  Even if no one EVER reads it.

I have some likes: Gardening, cooking, homesteading.

And I have some needs: My job.

And I have to give something up.  I need to do what makes me happiest.  That way I can be the best mom, wife and person I can be. My best shot at living out my mission statement is to be as genuine as I know how.  And right now, I genuinely need a break from homesteading seriously.

Now what?

I’m going to keep on keeping on.  I’m going to continue to blog it up.  Although my topics may be a bit less focused on homesteading.  I’m going to continue to have my adventures: running, climbing, kayaking.

and I’m going to continue to be my most honest self, leave myself open to coming back to homesteading, and I’m going continue to share my journey with you, if you are so interested.

Thank you for coming along!