Well my friends here at Old Stone Well Farm, I just had to be with you for the start of Holy Week. Yes, it’s Palm Sunday and once again I am waving the pussy willows rather than palms — a very European tradition. But these pussy willows are extra special this year as I found them in the farm’s burn pile. Yes, new life can emerge from the ashes and rubble. Just a little background to today’s video. As many of you know, I have many projects that I am working on right now. This video almost didn’t happen because I was swamped (I was on a newspaper assignment for a good part of the day and had just finished filing my story and pictures!). But I felt a tug at my heart to be with you. So, I filmed this in my old beat up jeans and running shoes and I didn’t even bother with an extra coat of mascara. May you find hope today in your burn piles! Thank you for being part of Old Stone Well Farm. I can’t wait to celebrate Easter with you.
I took a muddy drive up Two Top Mountain the other day to prepare for the season of Lent with the monks of New Skete in Cambridge, New York. I did this because I realized we often focus our Lenten journeys on preparing ourselves for Easter, but what if we spent a little bit of time preparing our hearts for the actual 40 days. So that is what I am going to do as I seek some quiet prayer time and ponder two questions we should ask ourselves before embarking on our Lenten adventure.
P.S. I also share with you my one Fat Tuesday indulgence that the nuns here are famous for!
It’s Valentine’s Day and, of course, I am celebrating the 18th-century way.
Yes, love was celebrated by our forefathers and mothers with love notes being a favorite token to give to sweethearts.
The love notes were often in the way of puzzle purses, popular in the 18th and 19th century.
Join me as I share with you not only this tradition, but why I encourage you to send yourself a love note this day! Yes, send yourself a Valentine’s Day message. It’s not selfish, it’s important to love ourselves.
There’s a farm up the road from me that has a mural that reminded me of the primitive paintings found in southern France in 1940.
I got to thinking about were these drawings ancient vision boards? Were they inspiration for a primitive people, helping them to aspire to something greater in life? More importantly, what inspires us?
I know for me if I were to create a vision board it would be full of sketches of 18th-century houses. I share an interesting one with you as well. (So click below to watch!)
What would be your “cave painting”? How do we keep reaching for the unreachable? Come and join me here in Vermont and discover how you might find your inspiration today!
And if you watch the video on YouTube, please go to my channel and like, leave a comment and share and subscribe. We are growing here at Old Stone Well Farm, and I couldn’t do it without friends like you.
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.
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.”
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!
The beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace,” celebrates 250 years on Jan. 1. It was in 1773 that John Newton wrote the song to accompany his New Year’s Day sermon. I can’t think of a better way to ring in 2023 then remembering the power of grace in our lives and why we need to really say good-bye to the past and embrace the new day God has for us. So come and join me at my 18th-century Vermont home that I have lovingly named, Old Stone Well Farm. Let’s start this new year together, and with the courage to keep moving onward. Blessings!