Friends, there won’t be a new video today. With temperatures yesterday negative zero, I found myself not motivated to do anything — even think. In a way it was freeing to have a day to just curl up with quilts and books all for the sake of “staying warm.” That’s when I wondered, why is it we often need an excuse to spend a day napping and reading? Why do we need to justify our stepping back from the world?
As you know, I am working on my addiction to productivity and busyness. Somedays I make progress. Some days I regress. But I am committed to getting to a place where life is full of peace and “in-the-moment” moments. I want to be always be open to the awareness of the gifts all around that are begging for us to receive and embrace.
So today, I leave you with the sounds of birds chirping as the sun tries hard to get us out of a deep freeze. I leave with the amazing owl that was just a few feet away from our little house, sitting in the tree and making my chickens very nervous. (I believe this might have been the bird of prey that snatched little Nugget.) I leave with the image of beeswax candles burning as I begin to make another batch of candles. (To my friends, Ken and Wendy, you will be getting one! And I am happy to report, the candles that were stuck in the mold the other day have all been successfully removed — one blessing to the -15 degree morning we had.)
As I sign off, I urge you to no longer feel you have to justify slowing down and being in the moment. Lean your ear toward the bird’s song and let its melody restore a tired soul. Open your eyes to what hides in the tree and perhaps stare back at a majestic owl who does indeed look like it has wisdom to impart. And never give up when at first you fail at something. I’ve learned that there is always another opportunity to try again. (I have my candles burning to remind me of that.)
I will see you soon at Old Stone Well Farm. Till then.
While many are watching the groundhog’s prediction for either more winter or an early spring, here at the farm I am thinking about the original “Groundhog’s Day” — the celebration of Candlemas Day. Feb. 2 was the day to take down the Christmas decorations, have your candles blessed and observe the dedication of Jesus in the temple. There was also an old saying that judging by the way your candles burned one could tell if winter would linger or leave. Join me as I step into the past, making candles and embracing Candlemas.
My wintering continues and how better to pause and reflect than to dig into the readings of Saint Brigid. Her life touched so many people with love, charity and compassion. I wonder how will my life touch others?
And since Brigid’s feast day is Feb. 1, I thought how appropriate to try my hand at making cheese. She is, after all, the patron saint of dairy farmers and cheesemakers.
I hope you enjoy your time at the farm with me. It is a blessing to have you part of this growing community.
Well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit, but I did have a few holy moments today in the kitchen as I tried my hand at making homemade farmer’s cheese. First, I had no idea how easy it was to make! Secondly, I didn’t realize all the God moments I would have as I thought about the cheese making process. February 1 is the feast day for St. Brigid, an Irish saint who happens to be the saint of dairy famers. So I thought it would fun to make some cheese together, learn a bit about Brigid and discover how we all need a “catalyst” in our life to make something wonderful happen.
New video will be coming Jan. 29. Till then, here’s a preview.
I am in a season of wintering — retreating, slowing down, and vowing to not feel guilty taking those much-needed naps. What is wintering? Come to the farm and explore with me how rest is the recovery we need and which leads to discovery of who we are and the things that give us joy.
Also, I share my new 18th-century rope bed!!! It is perfect in this pre-Revolutionary War home.
On a personal note, it was such a joy making this video. I found so much peace and it actually helped me to embrace slowing down as a way of life. I pray it helps you create a life that makes room for more of God’s grace. As always, thank you for being part of Old Stone Well Farm! You are a blessing. And please share with others!!!
Friends, I am so excited that after many years wanting a rope bed, I finally found one! It is going to perfect for the season of “wintering” that I am in. So, just a preview of what’s to come here at the farm on Jan. 22, as I explore why seasonal slumbering is so important for our souls! How will you “winter”?
I didn’t realize how much I was losing a bit of my soul these past few months. But I was.
Looking back, I should have paid attention to that brief moment in October when, after taking a few vacation days from my former magazine job, I felt a strange sensation that I didn’t know I had grown numb to. I felt true joy.
I wasn’t doing anything special to conjure joy. If anything, the moment was quite mundane. I was crunching through the autumn leaves when suddenly I stopped to drink in the earthy perfume Mother Nature was spritzing me with.
As I stood there silently, inhaling deeply, I heard a still small voice whisper: Go deeper into the woods. This is where you will find life.
When I shared this with close friends and family, a question of concern was always asked. “That’s great, Donna, but how will you make a living?”
And so, that powerful and profound moment in the woods passed all too quickly. I was soon back to an existence that looked good on paper and that the world stamped with its approval. But if I dared to listen, and listen carefully, I could hear the disturbing sounds of a soul being sucked. It is not pretty. Maybe that’s why we often try to ignore it filling our every second with shallow affirmations.
As many of you know, I am now free from that existence. And while the question of how will I make a living hovers over me like a storm cloud, I know that beyond that cloud is a rainbow waiting to appear. (Just maybe, too, that proverbial pot of gold!)
My days are now filled with wrangling in a rambunctious puppy and feeding the remaining four chickens (yes, I lost little Nugget the other day to what I believe was a hawk).
I am loving the mundane and no longer see it as failure to produce, achieve or earn. I still do fight the urge to “do” — to send out resumes, follow up on job leads, to search for opportunities. While I know I need to do that, I also know that the most important task right now is to “patiently wait for the Lord, who will put a new song of praise in my mouth,” as I paraphrase my favorite piece of scripture, Psalm 40.
Michelangelo once said that “genius is eternal patience.” As someone whose creative spirit has garnered a paycheck all her life, I take comfort in his words. Everything takes time — and trust — trust in the God who made us each unique and blessed us with gifts to bless the world. So we can’t rush genius nor all those beautiful God plans. Don’t fret. Something will take shape — in God’s time.
So I wait. And as I do, the realization that the only way to live is being true to yourself grows stronger each day. I have ideas. I have dreams. Many of them seem far fetched. But when you send the far fetched off to God, they no longer seem silly — or impossible. They suddenly start becoming doable divine opportunities that not only bring joy to your soul, but joy to others in this world so desperate to smile and laugh again.
Pulitzer prize poet Mary Oliver once asked a very important question in her poem, “The Summer Day.” It’s a question I believe we all need to ask ourselves not only in soul-sucking seasons of life, but each and every day. That is, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
For those struggling this day, wondering why you are not feeling “right” or feeling a heaviness in your heart, step back, breathe, pray…and take a hard look at what might be causing it. And then dare to make a change. Dare to start living your one wild and precious life.
For me, that life is shaping up to be turning my back more on modern society and all of its power plays and drama. Life is too short, my friends.
I am inviting that still small voice beckoning me deeper into those real and metaphorical woods to tell me more, for I am listening. I am listening to what makes my heart sing and my soul dance. My life is dancing again as I master churning butter, stenciling walls with 18th-century correct designs, hand sewing an 18th-century round gown, making candles and baking bread over a fire. But I am not done.
Just recently, I have added to my Colonial life skill dreams and goals — or what I am now seeing as the “real Donna” beginning to emerge — to include beekeeping, weaving, spinning and making cheese.
If all goes well, by the end of this year, I will be making bread in my outdoor bake oven, churning butter, aging cheese, collecting honey and eggs and perhaps even weaving a blanket for warmth on those bitter cold Vermont nights. (Stay tuned for my adventures in accomplishing these things, as they will be featured in our time together at Old Stone Well Farm. Videos will resume shortly!)
This is how I want to live my one wild and precious life. How these pieces of my soul that bring me joy will turn into a paycheck is in the hands of a greater power who has never let me fall. For now, I trust and relish the soft sighs of a contented soul.
What about you?
What will you do with the one wild and precious life God has given you?
Take a moment to just “be.” Pray. Ponder. And click the video below to perhaps guide you in a meditation moment…or as I like to say, to give you a “monk moment.”
Friends, our time together at Old Stone Well Farm will be delayed a day or two. Since the holidays — and since getting Fritz, our puppy — life has been a bit crazy. I have so many thoughts I want to share with you, as well as so many beautiful Vermont God moments.
But they will have to wait because…drumroll…I am preaching this morning at a sweet little Reformed church in my area which has been looking for a pastor for years. How this all came about is truly a God moment that I will share with you soon. Right now, though, I think I am still in awe and processing this God moment.
This opportunity really happened out of the blue. God works like that. So it seems — out of the blue. I know. I know. God is in control and has all things planned, but to us mere mortals, it often seems like God is silent for days, week, months and even years. So when blessings come or better yet those blessed assurances wrap their loving arms around us, it seems like they come out of the blue.
I guess that’s because we are not good waiting on the Lord. We’re not good at trusting that God is at work in our lives. Well, I have to get moving here and get ready to meet this congregation and see where God is leading us both.
So, stay tuned. And a new video will come shortly!
One week into a new year and that means two feast days on the church calendar — Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord. At my 18th-century Vermont home, though, I am embracing two new traditions as I focus on how to better be a blessing to others in 2023.
Join me as I chalk the doors and toast my old apple tree as I wassail in the orchard!
What would your life look like this year once you realize that you are blessed to be a blessing? Let me know! Share, comment…and pass the video below others. Old Stone Well Farm YouTube channel is growing and I can’t wait to see where God will take us all this year!