Would you really give someone the shirt off your back?

Image I got to go see my family in Georgia over Thanksgiving holidays and it was more than great We got there about 2 am Thursday morning and got home last night around 10:30)would have been 2 1/2 hours sooner, but then there were TRAFFIC JAMS)

So, Thanksgiving gives us the chance to to reflect for a whole month on what all we are thankful for, but the actual day.. Everyone is hanging around, getting ready to eat, visiting with friends and relatives they may or may not have seen in awhile. I love to watch people, just watch human interactions in general, so events like this provide me with a little time out where I can watch and think.

I overheard the expression,” You know her, she’ll give you the shirt right off her back.” I’ve heard the expression my whole life, but never really thought about it. Are there just he two kinds…? When it all boils down to it is that what we’re made of? Giving selflessly or keeping out of survival?

There are the people who will, with out a second thought give you the shirt off their back, with out regard for themselves or the fact they might need it later.. They’re not thinking giving may put them at odds with the elements and they may freeze or get wet or something.. They were only thinking of you at that moment, only you and the fact you needed a shirt and they had one to give, even if it came off their own back.

Then there are the people who would say no, I need my shirt. I will need the warmth and protection from the elements, that their survival, comfort, whatever is greater than yours. Maybe they justify..”That person should have been better prepared, had two shirts. If I give my shirt away I’ll freeze.” No one is saying either group is right or wrong, just that they exist. Both have their own pros and cons. Such as the person who gave away their shirt may freeze to death, but die happy because they feel their last move was to help someone else. Or the person who kept their shirt, survived the winter, but had to bury the woman who gave his child her shirt so that she may survive the winter as well.

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Mixed Emotions..

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Yesterday was a bad day for the urban farm. One of my neighbors has a Dodson who got off her runner. She got into our chain link fenced backyard and started attacking chickens. Michael saw it first, but it didn’t take the rest of us long to figure things out as he ran out the back door yelling. By this point the dog had Pepper, our 4 month old Barred Rock, down by the neck. If it wasn’t broken, it was close. There was a terrible hole in her neck. No, this was not supposed to be happening. This can’t be happening. It was and it got worse. Michael tried to grab Pepper away and Nikki, the dog, bit him. He kicked her at this point. We don’t know this dog. His hand bit, Pepper trying to stand, blood everywhere, kids screaming.. he kicked the dog off of her and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

The dog died instantly. Are you KIDDING me? This is really happening right now? The kids ran to see if the dog’s owners were home, while Michael had to put Pepper down. Her neck was broken. This is, was my favorite hen. She hasn’t even started laying yet. Why the HELL was that dog in my yard. I watched Michael hold her feet, slit her throat and hold her as the life drained away. She finally quit flapping. I mean I knew we would one day eat these chickens. We’ve been plotting the roosters death for weeks. But it wasn’t supposed to go like this. These were unnecessary deaths. Tears rolled downed my face.

Nikki’s owners weren’t home, but by now every neighborhood kid knows and a mass greeting when they did get home is exactly what I wanted to avoid. They have a little girl in fourth grade and a son in ninth. The dog was with them a lot and I knew was close to all of the family, that this would be really hard for them as well.And I just made friends with their mom, she offered to let Sydni ride to the bus stop not only when it rained or snowed , but every morning now that it had gotten cold. We had just passed down shoes, jeans and sweaters to Ashton, which worked out perfect. Why did this happen.. You know, I thought what if the dog hadn’t died. Pepper would just be dead. I wouldn’t worry they may be mad at Sydni for some weird reason. I’m so confused about this..

This is definitely one of the problems of urban farming. I grew up on a real farm and if any dog, no matter owner, even came into our yard, it would have been shot. They stress the animals at the very least. The owner would be saying they were sorry. I wouldn’t be feeling this bad. I’ve just beat myself up and that’s nothing compared to what Michael has felt. Even though his dad is one of those shoot on site and he doesn’t even have any animals. His answer is he has kids and I can’t argue with that either. And he would expect an apology for the bullet wasted as well. (He was the first person Michael called) We wanted to call animal control at first to make sure we weren’t liable for anything. I think I was just so freaked out. But then my second thought was I didn’t want the neighbors to get in any trouble because the dog was on no leash and it bit Michael. Torn.. word of the day. Why am I feeling so bad when this dog came into my fenced back yard, killed my chicken in front of my three kids and nobody said sorry to me when I must have apologized twenty times. But I do feel bad, I feel terrible and you know, I’m not really apologizing for Michael kicking the dog, but just that little girl’s dog is dead. Why was it out, geez. What a mess.

Dear Prudence.. Open up your eyes

ImageThis weekend I had the opportunity to go to the mountains to camp with some friends. So grateful for a few days of crisp mountain air, I was hoping for some clarity on some things rolling around in my head. All these new changes has put stress on my house and everyone in it. We know we are all doing the right thing and that it will get easier, but sometimes… it gets a little tense. Change is scary sometimes even for the right reasons. I wanted to get out of my own head for a day or two and see if I couldn’t gain a better perception, a simpler grip if you will. You can go through all the motions of anything and get it done, but if you don’t know why, you’ll never do it for the right reasons.

Example.. I can sell or give away all but the basics of my possessions to live a minimalist lifestyle. I know that’s what you do to get there, right? But if I deep down don’t want or understand a simple lifestyle, I’ll never be happy with what I have. The feeling of not having what I want or what I think I need to be happy will remain until I absorb the mindset of the minimalist. There’s the process itself and then there is the understanding.

I feel I really got some of the clarity I needed. Things became clearer than they have ever been to me. It’s all about being simple. I realized the answer is simple and beautiful. Doing for others because you want to, not because of a possible return. You have to get things right within yourself. Be peaceful and grateful and simple on the inside and your light will shine through. Wow, I’m in the middle of this epiphany that all I need is really inside me. If I’m good all the way through, I can handle anything that comes my way. To find that peace deep inside, you could be happy in a rainstorm. This is my life. No more getting angry or upset.  What does that do? Nothing and I realized how selfish that was. I control  my thoughts and actions.Helping other people, helping the environment around me.. These things in a constant will help me realize more the happiness that can come from within if I allow it.. No, not just allow it, but make more effort to repeat kind acts that bring happiness. I know this part is the understanding

“Simple living is abo…

“Simple living is about living deliberately. Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level. It’s about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully. Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals.”
~ Janet Luhrs

Check out her book on The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

Shelling peas in the September sun..

Methodically snapping the tip and pulling as far down the pod as I can, just like my Grandma King did. I turn it up-side down and start splitting it down the middle letting the peas fall in the shiny metal bowl in my lap. Just mindfully shelling.

Have you ever smiled when a wind blows by from nowhere. A sweet breeze to partner perfectly with the sunshine on your face. I did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Lifted my face, closed my eyes and smiled. It was a simple moment, a few seconds with an afterglow that made me feel like maybe everything will really be all right. The moments come more now, usually in the garden, almost always outside.

I haven’t shelled these peas since I would visit my great-grandmother, who we all called Grandma King, in the summers. My great uncle had a garden a couple blocks down from their small home in Pitts, GA. The first thing I would o when I got there was load up in Uncle Benny’s truck to check on the garden. Thinking back now, I knew he had been down there if not more than once that day, but was waiting to take me down there! I don’t remember much as after King passed, we didn’t visit as much. And when we did the garden had gotten smaller and smaller. I remember right off my older sister and cousin being jealous they didn’t get invited, not that they gave a hoot about Uncle Benny’s vegetables, just that they weren’t going.

We walked the rows looking, touching here and there, pulling off a damaged leaf or pointing out a bumble bee covered in pollen. I remember my favorite thing was to peel back the corn husks to see if the worms had gotten past the vegetable oil trick! When we got back, lunch was served then it was pecan picking time. It seems we were trying to fill a never ending bucket!! But we filled many and they sat on the porch in their 5 gallon glory til after supper when it was shelling time. Peas or pecans, your choice 🙂

Days there were repetitious in the most soothing of ways. You knew what to expect. Meals were served at the same times everyday. And you could count on certain things to always be on the table. Sliced tomatoes at lunch, fried cornbread with supper. I think of how I wish they were still here for me to reach out to, to ask so many questions. To send them pictures of my garden, I know they would be so proud..

Uncle Benny would always send us home with starter plants of tomatoes and peppers, which my mother would normally kill. Along with freezer bags of shelled pecans and my favorite peas. To know now the work it took to fill just one bag. How we took it for granted, not meaning to, of course, but all the same. Those same peas are $4.00 a pound at the Farmer’s market last time I checked. I think I paid $2.99 for a pack of pinkeyes that will take me through a couple growing seasons!

Sometimes I miss them so much, but other times I feel they are right here beside me kneeling in the garden, being part of the very energy that pushes these beautiful, bountiful plants from the soil.Ashes to Ashes means more to me now. Dust to Dust. They are here, just as all energy is everywhere. Never created or destroyed, only transfigured. I know now that I really never lost anyone. I visit them every time I walk in the garden or jog early morning in the woods. Every time I run my fingers through the soil, every time I feel a breeze right when I need it the most, they’re there.

I feel my uncle saying, keep it up, girl, I knew you’d be the one. My sweet great-grandmother sitting beside me shelling peas, just watching life around me. Being content just living simply..

Early wakeups..

I know people who never seem to have enough time in their day. Oh, how they could get this project done or spend more time with kids instead of handling daily chores when you come home. What if you could wake up a little earlier. Start small and before you know it you have an hour to yourself in the silence of the early morning. I personally feel one needs to ground themselves first thing of the day, so no matter what comes along, they are able to find and hold their center because they were just there that morning. Practice clearing your mind, listen to the house noises, this is your stolen time.. Find a spot in your mind where you can just sit, no conversations to keep up..
After go through some events from yesterday. You can picture them clearer, think about them now. Think about yesterday’s events, embrace the proud moments.. what was about that moment that made your heart swell. Can we do it again today? Think, was there a point you got angry frustrated? What action do you think bothers you the most? Is there anything you can do better next time?
I’ve started a journal. It was for blogs while away from home, but has turned into a powerful tool. I go to those pages and spill my beans. The sometimes edited version hits here. But it helps so much. Even if I don’t have anything to say and draw peace signs in the roots of cypress trees. (My favorite picture in my mind)
So find that hour or even 30 minutes that’s just yours, listen to your breaths, really try to clear your mind even of the best intentions and find yourself.

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