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!!!
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.”
I can’t believe it’s the third Sunday of Advent. Christmas is getting closer and I am not ready — both physically and emotionally. There is just so much going on. And I realize, even with joy in my life, it does’t take away those moments of sadness of Christmases gone by. So join me today as I share with you how to handle the Christmas blues AND I have a great cookie recipe for you from a 12th century saint who swore her “cookies of joy” would heal a heart that is aching. Pull up a chair. Share with friends and family! And let me know if you make these cookies for a loved one feeling down this holiday. Blessings!
The Remedy for Election Fatigue (hint: it’s furry!)
I’m so tired of the political rhetoric, and I know I am not alone. And so, I invite you to step away from craziness of the world for some election fatigue relief as well as to hear the announcement I promised I would share with you. As always, thank you for coming to Old Stone Well Farm. Your support means a lot to me — and the chickens. Click on the video below. Share. Subscribe. Like. And drop me a note. I love to hear from you.
Dreams Require Baby Steps … And Listening to Your Life
After watching my stone mason “listen” to the stones in the creation of my 18th-century outdoor bake oven, I began realizing that for dreams inside our hearts to become true, we — as Frederick Buechner puts it — need to “listen to our lives.” Listening the leads to taking those important baby steps in making things happen. So I invite you to some to my Vermont farm as I pray about dreams, baby steps and listening. (You will also see my latest 18th-century hand-sewn creation!) So click on the video below. Stay awhile. Renew. Relax. Feel God’s Spirit! And I would love to hear what small baby step you might take this day in making your dreams come true!
Lately, I am right in line with the psalmist, who once asked why, o, soul, are you downcast? I thought a week away from Old Stone Well Farm would improve my spirit.
So, I went into the wooded area on the farm, up the hill named after a beloved Bernese Mountain dog who used to greet my day. I went to Sofie’s Hill to revisit a long-desired dream of creating a prayer area…perhaps, even a mountaintop chapel.
As I explored, I came to realize the reason for my heavy heart. So if you are feeling out of sorts today, or even if you aren’t, come and join me as I find healing in dreaming, pondering, praying and spending time amid the trees. Click on the video below. And know, that where ever your heart might be this day, you have an accidental country pastor, praying for and with you.
Writing deadlines are tight and I know I need to take time to breathe, to be in the God moment. But since I can’t fully do that right now, I took a few minutes to take note of the gifts all around me. I called it my “summer sabbatical” and while it wasn’t very long, it was just what my soul needed.
I share with you this day the importance of finding a pace that restores you, not wears you out. So take time to give thanks for this very moment…for it is a moment filled with beauty. (Click the video below to begins!)
Like, share, comment…and if you haven’t, subscribe and tell your friends about Old Stone Well Farm either here at Accidental Country Pastor or on YouTube — type in “Old Stone Well Farm” — and you will discover more than 100 videos there to enjoy!
I love hearing from so many of you who come, and I love seeing where in the country you are visiting from! So drop me a note!
Ever wonder where you truly belong? I have, and I have always been in awe of those who followed their hearts and chose to be in the world but not of it. My recent trip to Amish country in Pennsylvania reminded me of people like this, as did my time exploring the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
So come and join me here at my Vermont farm as I ponder some more — and share with you some of the music composed by the Ephrata Cloister.
(Sorry for a shortened time together … and my brief words to you today … I am sadly dealing with a sick chicken and my heart is just breaking. Trying hard to keep it together and focus on all the editing, writing, gardening, sewing, baking bread, etc. that I have on my plate.)
It’s joy Sunday, the day we light the pink candle around the Advent wreath and hear Scripture’s call to “rejoice, always!” It is also a day known as “Gaudete Sunday,” taking its name from the first line of an ancient hymn that was sung on this day that begins with the words “rejoice.”
But what is joy, and how do we find it even when life seems anything but joyful? And why the pink color for Advent? We will answer these questions here at the farm. (I will even explain that pink rose ornament that you see in the preview.)
And if you are curious as to what that ancient hymn sounds like, listen to the end for a snippet of it.
As always, thanks for spending this season of Advent with me here in Vermont.
I wasn’t sure how the disorganization happened nor how my to do lists multiplied like out of control rabbits, but this was the morning I was going to face the mess on my desk. As I looked at the unbelievable task before me, I felt panicky. The panic wasn’t that the piles of disorganization were symbolic of all the work I was facing. I was panicky because this wasn’t me. I was always the organized one.
Back in my Manhattan magazine days, I was the writer everyone looked at suspiciously because my desk was so neat. Each story deadline was clearly marked on my wall calendar. Each story assignment — notes, word count, a list of sources to call for quotes — all placed in its own manila folder. Sometimes I would go to the supply closet for a colored folder — red, yellow, blue or green — just to give my cubicle a pop of color. The files were placed in order of importance in a file holder. Next to my computer would be a yellow legal pad with the day’s tasks prioritized. The mail was in its own little pile and magazines that I would read along with my afternoon cup of coffee — were methodically stacked on the floor near my desk. Everything was under control. I was able to focus and be productive. I was able to breathe.
But now? What happened to that organized, in control person?
It seems these days I’m always behind the proverbial eight ball. I’m always being reminded of something that had fallen off of the 100th revision of that darn to do list. Deadlines that are circled on a calendar seem to come all too quickly. My heart races, leaving me dazed and confused, wondering where did the time go?
This morning I was going to take my life back by organizing every piece of paper before me. That’s when the answer to my gnawing question of what happened to me came. I picked up a blank notepad that was thrown into one of the many piles. Its cover read, “Do More of What Makes You Happy.”
It was then the stressed-to-the-max floodgates holding back tears broke open. The piles of disorganization weren’t because I was doing too much or that my workload was unrealistic. The piles of disorganization on my desk were telling me that I had forgotten to do more of what made me happy — what fed my soul, what renewed my spirits, what restored my creativity.
I had forgotten that it was okay to step away from deadlines and go for a hike. I had forgotten that when faced with writer’s block that worst thing you can do was force the words to come. Rather, when faced with the frightening feeling that you have finally run out of words, that’s when you need to do something that makes you happy. Yet instead of unfolding that beautiful material I recently purchased to make another quilt, I had imposed a “no fabric therapy” rule until the story was written. Where did that get me? Stressed out and still missing a deadline.
I realized that these past few months I haven’t done anything — let alone more of — the things that made me happy: cooking over an open fire outdoors, laying the foundation for my 18th century bread oven, tilling the soil to expand my garden, scouting out the future site for my chicken coop and perhaps even a goat pen, even writing more for this blog, Accidental Country Pastor.
I stared at the mess on my desk, admitting that I had become a “pandemic overachiever.” I have been trying to gain a sense of security, of certainty, of control in a world that is out of control by focusing on things that can be measured in terms of progress and productivity. I haven’t allowed time to dream, to play or just be. When was the last time I allowed myself to nap?
Another Zoom meeting invite? Sure, sign me up. After all, I can’t give the excuse that I am not available, right? I am home most of the time. Yet with Zoom meetings come the extra work of having to actually wash my hair and throw on some mascara. Back in the good old days, meetings with colleagues were done over the phone, which was a lot less hassle. Not only could I forego my primping (saving time to perhaps sew some quilt blocks together for that fabric therapy that is worth the cost of all the material I bought), but I also didn’t have the stress that comes with wondering, praying, holding my breath that my rural internet would not act up. Yes, that is a real stressor. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of an important presentation, only to have the screen freeze and the warning appear “Internet Connection Unstable.”
The projects that would have prevented the drought my soul was now in, had been pushed aside as I fell victim to “webinar binging,” seizing the opportunity to attend free seminars and classes companies and organizations were offering. I didn’t want to miss any valuable information on how to navigate this new world the pandemic has created. Instead of filling my head with knowledge, though, I was robbed of valuable hours of my time as many, not all, but many of the webinars didn’t live up to the promotional hype. After my million and one free webinar, it hit me. No one knows how to navigate this world we are in. Period. All we can do is find peace in the chaos and live with the ambiguity. All we can do is “do more of what makes you happy.”
I am a pandemic overachiever. My messy desk is a sign of that. This morning I was going to take back my life by organizing the mess so that I could be more productive and face those looming deadlines head on. The mess, though, is still there. The work to be done is still there. Yes, there are stories to write. Copy to edit. A sermon to prep for Sunday. There’s even a webinar I was scheduled to attend. But not today.
I have things to do that make me happy, that restore my soul, and that reconnect me to my authentic self, not the self I think this pandemic world wants. I have a quilt to work on. I have cream to churn into butter. I have a run on the rail trail to go on. I have a video to shoot for worship at Old Stone Well Farm, which I love doing.