Friday, August 31, 2012

The farmer has left the farm

Only for the weekend. I'm headed off to Dallas to participate and be the cook for a zen meditation retreat (sesshin) I'm really excited and looking forward to the peace ahead. The farm is in the good hands of my partner Linda and she will get a little farm solitude which will be nice for her to.

I have a lot of meanering rolling around in my head right now. I started taking that class at Phillips Theologicle Seminary Its a series of classes called intereligious understanding. The first session is six classes on Native American religion and spirituality, first two classes, last one last night, mostly centered around language and history. The real history not the "white wash" version I'm accustom to. Its been difficult to know what to do with the injustices that have occured in this nation's past but that also contunu right now. So I'm chewing on some things. I share after they are digested a little, yea lucky you.

May your weekend be peaceful

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where am I?

I am a dreamer. I have been ever since I can remember. I was told once as a child that I had an over active imagination. I think this was meant to explain why I wasn’t doing well in school or why I didn’t clean my bedroom or why my parents felt I wasn’t listening or paying attention to things I ought to. Even though this statement was intended to be negative it did explain a lot. My imagination took me places I couldn’t go, and in many ways removed me from the turmoil that living in a little apartment with two recovering alcoholic parents presented. It allowed me to see a world that was imaginary but later would become possible.  As soon as I could read I would devour books, there I could mold my perception of the world outside of my own existence.

My imagination has allowed me to see obstacles as merely stumbling blocks. It has allowed me to experience boundless opportunity throughout my life.  I’ve taken risks and I’ve suffered the negative and positive consequences of them. I’ve questions my abilities and questioned my imagination and thought many times to myself that I need to settle down. Not dream so much. But that is something I can’t control. My imagination has helped me to survive. I can always see my way out of a dark place.

Sometimes sitting (Zen meditation practice) is difficult for me. Like most people my mind travels through time and space. I caught myself this morning in a situation three weeks from now. I laugh when this happens, but I’ll take several deep breaths and begin again, begin counting my breath. This morning was particularly difficult to stay present. Max, my little terrier decided to sit right next to me and attempt to find that pesky flea LOUDLY, he didn’t stop when I gave him a little shush, so a light whack did the trick. Then the sounds of traffic and wind rustling the trees and a sound I couldn’t identify invaded my breath and concentration. So I tried to pay close attention to all the sounds, then I traveled, imagined.

The farm is not a quiet place. It’s quieter a few times a day and those are the times I sit. 5:30am, 2pm , there are fewer sounds. Quiet is not a word you can use to describe a busy farm like this one. There is the rooster that sings out whenever he dam well pleases, the goats, the cows, the dogs and the cats. They are all busy living their life, in spite of my desire for quite. If I didn’t have any animals it would be much quieter but then the times that aren’t 5:30 and 2pm would be quiet too, and I think I would be quite lonely. The animals on this farm bring me great amounts of joy.

So this morning while my mind was traveling I stopped and I remembered what Thich Nhat Hanh would randomly ask one of his student  “where are you?” The student would smile. So with that, teacher to student my meditation would continue, exhalation; “where am I” Inhalation: “here” and I would allow myself to experience the present time and space. I am sitting on a soft cushion on a mat in the yurt, I am here. It’s almost 6am my right leg is falling asleep. I smell the coffee in the pot, I feel the air and temperature of the morning.  I am here. This is where I am”.

One of the many reasons I started Zen meditation is because I realize what a blessed and enchanted life I have. The present is the best place there is. I don’t want to miss any of this. Right in this moment I am alive. I’m typing away with Miya at my feet. The sun is coming up behind me. There is a warm cup of coffee on the desk. There is a hen with a healing sprained leg in the bathroom. There is no need to go anywhere.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting scared

Last night we did something we haven’t done in ages, walked the goats. It wasn’t intentional, but we had decided to take a walk after dinner as the sun was going out and seeing that there was still about an hour of light left, we opened up the gate so the goats could graze a little before bed. They came out excited to munch on what the rain helped to raise out of the soil and they were content until they noticed we were still walking, oh my! There would be none of that, so 18 goats (at least I think that’s how many we have) followed us walking and eating the mile up the road. We turned back and headed home and they lead the way. The moon now was bright in the sky and the western sky brimmed with the setting sun. This is the pastoral vision of the farm landscape that stays in my mind and I can’t not recognize how amazingly blessed I am to be exposed to this gift and be moved by it.

Yesterday was the most productive I have felt in weeks. I cleaned the chicken bus out, spread the droppings in the fallow area of the garden, I worked in the field getting the last little bit of the compost spread on the fall beds, got it tilled in and the beds re-shaped. Most was tractor work but I was a little worried I wouldn’t last because of the heat. I managed to get done what I absolutely had to by 3:30 and found myself on the couch for the next 30 minutes. I took good care of myself though, drank a tremendous amount of water and juice, ate a staggering amount of vegetables in various stages and I must say already I am seeing an improvement.  More of the same today.

I was thinking yesterday that I have always for the most part eaten well and very healthy foods, whole and real foods, but in the summers I am so busy I often will eat pretty bad. Lots of bread, and yes even fast food. I’m not ashamed to admit I will grab what is most convenient at the time just to stop the pangs of hunger even though I know it’s not the best choice I could be making. Hey I’m human. I got no problem with that.  I’m still really busy but suddenly I’ve changed. Made a complete turnaround in a matter of seconds, I went from eating a diet of bread and goat cheese and whatever else I could grab without thought or intention from a steady intentional diet of things I know will feed my organs, balance my insulin, reduce inflammation in my organs, help reduce my headaches, raise my energy level and brain function. Why? Cause I got scared.

Why does it take fear or a major health incident to move us to take what we put into our bodies seriously? I have no idea. When I started a meal delivery service when I first moved here my clientele were people who were either recovering or in the throes of a life threatening illness and their last ditch effort was to eat better, in hopes to try to heal and or repair their bodies. One thing I saw time after time, was it was often too late. See I know better but still had to get scared. I would like to think I am better than that but my own humanness and my own short comings humbles me and I feel grateful that I don’t have a life threatening disease. 

There are two podcasts that I enjoyed listening to recently that helped me understand a little what goes on in our head at times like these, one is To The Best of our Knowledge- Procrastination. And the other was an interview last Saturday On Fresh Air on Brain function, I’ll have to get more detail I actually only got to listen to a bit of it but what I heard that stuck with me was the inner fight we have constantly, with things like diet or alcoholism etc.  Very interesting and worth the listen.
That’s my meandering for the day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The day begins and ends

The last couple of mornings I’ve walked from the Yurt to the house through wet dewy ground, it’s wonderful! The sky still dark with just traces of a sunrise. My eyes scan the shadows and darkness for things that have changed from the previous morning. I don’t know what I expect to see, something out of place, out of the ordinary? A Coyote crouching waiting to pounce on a half-blind from darkness hen who is early to rise? But all is well, Ginger and Cosmo are guarding their area of the Pasture which is in front of the yurt so really guarding us and the other two Gergo and Elek tromping around who knows where until they get a whiff that we’re up and come bounding toward us like puppies which would be cute if they weren’t 120 pounds.

The day begins like this each dawn; Dogs are fed, the chilled milk from last night’s milking is poured into glass jars. The milk vat is cleaned, milk pails made ready. Clean and dry eggs placed in carton and put in the refrigerator. The dishwasher is emptied, and if there is time, cheese strained.  By this time it is now light and milking begins, eight goats stand in line and wait to come in, some mornings with no fuss at all and others try to charge the gate and force their way in the parlor.  Milking will usually take about 30 minutes from start to finish with the two of us. After milking, waters are filled and chickens are tossed some scratch. Time to make breakfast and return e-mails.

After breakfast I go about farm work.This is about eight O'clock. I either work in the garden or work in the barns. Today is chicken bus day, I’ll scrape and shovel out all the soiled wood chips and scrub the hen house out, put hay in the nesting boxes and new chips on the floor. Hopefully that will only take me a couple of hours, then I will work the rest of the day in the garden, spreading compost and preparing beds that must be planted in the next day or two. That should pretty much be all I am able to do. After that everything goes back to the beginning but backwards, starting at about 4:30; eggs are gathered chickens are tossed some scratch, all of the animal waters are filled, hay is fed. Then the chilled milk from morning gets put into jars and into the chiller, milk pails made ready and vat cleaned and eggs washed.  Then Eight goats stand in line sometimes it’s without drama sometimes they to storm the gate. I never know what kind of mood they will be in. The day wraps up around 7pm

After that the day is done, dinner is started. A quiet evening begins. When the sun is down and chickens go to roost we feed the cats and dogs. The alarm goes off at 5am

Monday, August 27, 2012

taking care

So... there has been a few things going on with me that has caused me to step back and re-evaluate my life a little. A few weeks back I think I had maybe a light case of heat stroke. Nothing life threatening but ever since I have felt terrible, stomach ache for hours after I eat and no energy. I started taking naps in the afternoon and that has help a little but you know when you get that feeling there is something just not right. I have that feeling. So over the weekend I decided to get quiet and bring awareness to my body to see if I could intuitively identify the problem and come up with a solution.

Diet of course came up for both Linda and I. I know I farm and vegetables should be coming out of my ears but that's not the case and the kinds of vegetables that are coming out of my ears are not especially nutrient dense. Cucumbers, okra, the last of the tomatoes some peppers and some volunteer arugula, well one can not live on this alone, so I have been supplementing my diet with more meat than I'm used to eating, lots and lots of bread and not the good kind either, just sliced wheat bread from wal-mart, I might spread some goat cheese on it or just butter but apparently its not flying because I feel like shit most of the time.

Feeling bad is not a state I am willing to remain in. I know the difference thankfully. Many people are so used to feeling bad that it becomes normal. I'm very sensitive to how I feel, how much energy I have and also my mood. Most of it especially in my case is perhaps diet. So Linda and I headed to whole foods yesterday and bought vegetables we didn't have yet; broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celery, carrots, diakon, celeriac, spinach, dandelion greens, adzuki beans, lentils, orange and papaya, black cherry juice, limes. besides Okra, a few cucumbers that are still making their way, those ingredients will be the basis of our diet. 

I have to admit its been a challenge for me not to feel like a failure because I have to buy vegetables for like the first time all season, but I have to do something and this makes sense so I am swallowing my pride here and shopping at Whole foods. The farmers markets have mostly the same things I do and what I really want and crave right now are cooler weather crops which I will have in about a month. But I don't think I can hold out.

For this week we'll eat mostly but not totally raw. The point is to level our insulin, and inflammation in our organs. Energy level, feeling better will be the positive consequences of that.I've also started back on my sitting routine, so each morning noon and evening I'll dedicate 20 minutes to meditation. That is a great gift I am able to give myself. This morning it was like being with an old friend, I slipped easily from one breath to the next. So I'm taking care of myself in ways that I know how. Hopefully I should see results soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Being liked might be over-rated

There is something that has been rolling around in my mind for some time. It’s on a feeling I got from someone who I felt was not being nice to me. As I thought about my feelings and tried to understand why I felt hurt by this person I finally came to the conclusion; you know what, being liked is overrated. What is the general reaction we have when someone is not only not nice but maybe they even seem rude and inappropriate? Well my response and one that I challenge is to be…well, I won’t say rude but maybe I won’t be kind, maybe I’ll be cold and not gift this person with a smile and my kindness. Like that will really get them.  So treat them the same as how I feel I’m being treated.
So I started thinking what my life would look and feel like if I didn’t care about being liked. If I was authentic and truthful without the fear that perhaps someone wouldn’t like me. What are the consequences of someone who acts only in hopes or with the expectation of being liked?

I can name two people that I have met who seemed extremely unfriendly and I can honestly say my first reaction was to wonder if they just didn’t like me. Then it becomes about me and my insecurities, fear and frankly authenticity, what would I do to “make” this person like me? How far would I be willing to go? Does it really matter if they like me or not?  We do our business and move on. 

But here is the moist center of the cake. Kindness.  Kindness is perhaps underrated.  So, should these people not be treated with kindness? What would happen if I was kind to rude or even mean people without the expectation or hope of being liked or to somehow change them?  Is that being too exposed, so vulnerable? The truth that I’ve come to recognize in myself is I have a strong desire to be liked and when I feel I’m not, I feel sad and hurt or I feel that I was treated bad, with disrespect. I get all ruffled and I my stomach feels tight and I even get a little angry at this person. 

Yea that’s right I can name two people, well one now I can cross off the list from an encounter with said rude person who became suddenly nice yesterday. I didn’t hold back my kindness I already figured she didn’t like me, but I thought this woman is so rude to people that chances are she has had customer after customer be rude right back or worse had customers be inauthentic just to try to get a smile or some kindness from this woman. And I’ll be honest I was thinking about it (being rude). But when I got up to the counter I just didn’t have it in me. That was the first time in four years this woman has ever smiled or laughed in my presents.   I don’t care if she likes me or not, no one is going to remove my ability to be kind and treat people with care and respect.  Being rude back is offering an empty plate of food, its food that comes up short of nutrients and substance. Kindness is fruitful and nutrient dense and feeds the right organs in the body, it’s moist, fertile. Kindness with the expectation of being liked is sugary and sticky and as you might get a little energy from it you can also end up with diabetes. 

So that’s my meandering for the day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

proving myself wrong

I noticed something last night as I walked to the yurt to go to bed. I noticed that I have become more and more familiar with the night sky. Every evening I look up, I am now recognizing stars and constellations, I may not know their name, but I’m getting to know them. I am noticing details about the moon and this star or that star. Where it is the dipper tonight? Last night it hit me as I looked at a triangle that caught my eye about four nights ago that now I have seen that triangle every night, I feel affection toward it. Like, Hi again, here we are.  As I read this I worry if it sounds like I’ve lost my mind. 

I’ve never felt familiar with the sky, I have always felt familiar with the earth, trees, grass, ocean and animals but the sky has seemed too big, too overwhelming to explore, until now. Now it seems part of my intimate life, part of my inner and outer world. I have become acutely aware that I am paying attention to things I had really never given much thought about.  There is a familiarity I feel now, but it’s always moving, we’re always moving. 

One thing farming has given me and taught me is to pay attention. Pay attention to the wind, the forecast the changes in daylight hours, soil temperature, the sounds, the rain, the humidity. Farming has taught me to see as much as my eyes can let in, and while I’m looking my brain is engaged. Farming has taught me to be present. When I started a zen meditation practice I realized that I already had developed some tools of attention, so my zen practice felt natural.  But my practice has helped to develop what I do with the information I receive, which did not feel natural. How would I react to what I was seeing yet had no control over? 

Over time I have eluded to some kind of spiritual practice, but I have felt like not only is that a deeply personal matter but one I’ve been on the fence about for some time now. It’s uncomfortable for me to confront my lack of clarity and biases of religious life and spirituality. I’ve been very angry about religion equating it to the opposite of good, rather closer to evil doing. The polarizing conversations  about abortion or women’s rights and  gay marriage, immigration, poverty and  taxes has separated me and caused me to look at religion as an us against them scenario and I just can’t accept that. I know there are bad folks out there that mean others harm, but I also know that the majority of people are trying to do good.  I think it’s fair to say that we are all in many ways operating and navigating this life through our own personal experience and of course the influence of those around us. 

I welcome learning and exploring things that I don’t understand. I am not interested in being right or proving anyone wrong, but I am interested in challenging my own ideas and thoughts.  Tonight I am starting a series of classes called interreligious understanding at Philips Theological Seminary. I am really looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the wildly diverse and rich religious communities that exist in our lives. I do recognize that my hopes are that I will see more good, more commonalities more reasons to love that to separate. I’m hoping to learn that not all people of religious faiths want to bring me suffering and pain because I am gay. That, I too can share the sacredness of living on this planet.

One thing I have come to learn about myself, when I think I'm really really right...well, usually I was wrong.