Love deeply. Laugh. Cry. Talk to God. Be realistic about the to-do list. Stay in touch. Hug. Dream. Smile. Break Bread often with Family. Spend Time with your Girlfriends. Shop til you Drop! Extend Grace. Be Quick to Forgive and Slow to Anger. Walk. Breathe. Sing. Dance. Read. Eat Chocolate. Savor a Good Glass of Wine. Wiggle your Toes. Sleep well. Life is Good!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Continuing Education .... not just for the professional type!

1. a house, esp. a farmhouse, and outbuildings.
2. a person's or family's residence, which comprises the land, house, and outbuildings, and in most states is exempt from forced sale to meet debts.
3. the place you rest your head ... and declare, for tax purposes.

1. to claim, settle and farm a parcel of land.

The word itself conjures up an image in the mind not unlike the above photo (source unknown).

The last couple of years I've become familiar with a lot of new-to-me buzzwords.  Juicing (not as in sports enhancement).  Homesteading.  Foraging.  Charcuterie.  Organic.  Dehydrating.  Alternative (heathcare, cleaning products, toiletries, ....).  Drying Racks.  Cheese-Making.  Rain Water Catchment.  I learned more about old buzzwords I'd already incorporated into our lives.  Composting.  Vertical Gardening.  Square Foot Gardening.  Rotation Gardening.  Bread baking.  Meat grinding.  And, 're-growing' more celery, ginger, scallions, and a whole lot more food from the scrap ends!  Who knew?!!

It may seem like an enormous pile of contradictions. I'm in no way professing to be an all-organic, fair-trade, eco-friendly, never-gonna-buy-anything-made-in-China, carry my own 'green' bag to grocery kinda gal.  I've made a hodge-podge of eclectic choices and incorporated many changes ... slowly, subtly, sporadically ... into our life the last few years.  We will always be consumers to some extent or another. I still prefer the old light bulbs.  I still use the dryer.  Though I do use a drying rack during the less rainy seasons and have turned to using woolen dryer balls in lieu of dryer sheets.  I don't have chickens or goats, or raise rabbits.  Though we do eat wild boar and venison and pheasant because my husband hunts.  We catch the fish we eat too.  I want to learn how to make the best pasta, the best cheese, the best sausage, the best pizza.   Though we still occasionally frequent our favorite local restaurants.  I still drive an SUV (eight years old and paid for).  I still take my dogs to the groomers for baths.  I still use a dry-cleaning service ... not for dry cleaning but for laundry of my husbands shirts.  I am contemplating returning to the ironing board, but for now, I have too many other irons in the fire!  :-)

Why?  Well, it's simple, really.  Because I can.  I do it because I can, not because I have to.  Not because I can afford to.  Because I can learn to do it before I have to do it ... and before I can't afford other options.  Because I honor my grandmother by using many of the skills she taught me when I was younger.  I do it because I want to.  It's not easier.  We all know it's easier to run to the doctor when we feel ill.  To get a shot.  To pop a pill.  Or, to just grab a pesticide or commercial weed killer, instead of  mixing up a safer, equally effective alternative.  But, easy isn't always better.  The better (for me) way takes more time, skill and discipline ... a day filled with shortcuts.  I learned that for the first time when I decided to home school 14 years ago.  And, when I decided to learn and try alternative measures for a few health issues.  I'm still learning.  I still take shortcuts ... but I'm more selective; more mindful.

I've started paying attention.  You know how it goes?  Life gets far to busy to be concerned with what's going on in the news.  Prices have been going up the last few years at the grocery store.  Big time!  That alone re-energized the gardener in me.  Learning about GMOs and organics further motivated me to start canning and preserving what we grow and what I can acquire from local gardeners.  Healthcare is fast changing.  I've avoided gallbladder surgery, bone spur surgery and rotator cuff surgery by seeking alternative routes.  I didn't share that to boast, but simply to say 'there is always a better way' ... unless you find yourself in an emergency and unable to speak up ... being at the mercy of the healthcare system  ... which is not all bad.  Conventional medicine and procedures do have their place in times of emergencies and life threatening situations.  That's another blog post altogether!

One should never be so comfortable, confident and complacent to think hard times won't fall upon them.  I have friends who've lost jobs.  And, friends who've had to re-invent themselves because the labors they offered have become a lower priority as people make cuts in their budgets.  I've seen many, many businesses close.  Businesses which have been around for 30 years or for only two.  Some, who's temporary entitlement incomes have been reduced.  Many who's weekly paychecks have recently had huge, ragged bites taken from them.  We've had our own 'Rob Peter to pay Paul' moments.  Hardships penetrate all of our lives.  A little learning goes a long way in keeping one afloat.  Learning helps one to be prepared for leaner times.  But, what good is learning without practical application?   One must learn not only from books, but from trial and error.  I've made many mistakes along the way ... learning curves.  Making mistakes is part of incorporating the newly learned skill into the eating, breathing and walking day-to-day routines.  This is how gardening is mastered; how baking is taken to new levels; how health is improved; how we learn to depend on ourselves and our faith more.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things,
trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, 
changing yourself, changing your world.

You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, 
you're Doing Something.

Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect,
whatever it is: art or love or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do It.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

~ Neil Gaiman ~

Be where you are.
It's your own journey.
Do it, or simply ... don't.  

UPDATE 9/7/2013:   I still use the drying rack ... indoors and out (dryer is rarely used anymore! That alone cut nearly $100 off each of our summer power bills compared to last year)!   We no longer use the dry cleaner to take care of my husband's shirts.  I iron them all now.  That cut a $50/month expense!   I'm baking sourdough weekly (perfect for diabetic husband), canning, gardening and whatever else I take a notion to learn!

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