Uncertainty and The Sphere of Agriculture

“A course of this kind naturally makes many demands, for it will show us to what an extent the interests of Agriculture are bound up with those of the widest circles of human existence and that there is scarcely a single sphere of life which has not some relation to Agriculture.” From Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lecture I, 1924

I talk to people all day long as a physical therapist, as a lactation consultant, as a parenting and homeschooling consultant, and I think there is a lot of despair and unsettled feelings related to overall background of life right now:

The pandemic.

Political situations.

Gun violence.

The economic situation

The rates of depression, anxiety, suicide in young children

I told my husband the other day that sometimes I feel like we are watching Rome fall, but instead of the Roman roads crumbling and eventually castles and fiefdoms are taking over, now there is retreating into an increasingly physically isolated but interconnected digital world. We saw this during the pandemic with a necessary shift to everything being online, but I think the other thing we saw is that this gave people the ability to move out of cities and find increased acreage/ land due to the ability to work remotely.

So, when people ask me how I think we are going to deal with the things going on in the world, I can’t help but wonder if some of it will be healed by agriculture and coming back to the land. There is nothing like healing emotional and mental anguish with working on the land, being in nature.

Many of us are homesteading in whatever capacity that means to us, whether we are on acres of land or in an apartment. Many people I know have three months or more of water and food stocked up just in case job situations change or the supply chain runs short. Most of the farmers I know believe that hay and grain will be hard to come by this fall and winter, which in turn will affect food prices.

I think the other positive thing that has happened is people are living smaller – Instagram is full of families taking to the road in RV’s or living on boats. Mobility is a good thing, and while full time RV living has been around for years, I think the numbers have really gone up in the past few years. People are opting out of a mortage and instead living simply. They get to be in nature, and pursue hiking, biking, travel, and being together. I think this trend will continue and since housing prices are high, it may end up being a typical way for young couples to start out as well.

So, I often meditate on the fact that we can as a people be healed if only we could return to simpler ways and into nature. I read an article this morning about expats retiring in other countries and one thing they were distressed about was having a beautiful ocean –and sitting on their surfboard or walking the beach and seeing all the plastic float around them.

Live smaller, live simply.

Reduce, recylce, reuse.

If you have land, grow something, nurture something and as we do this people will be healed and nurtured.

So instead of bemoaning the current state of the background of life, I often find the small and still voice – what can I do in nature today? What can I grow today? What can I do where I am right now?

Blessings,

Carrie

A Rhythm of Self-Care

Recently a friend and I made a list of what we wanted to see in our own self-care. Self-care is the basis of family life and because we carry much of the labor and emotional holding for the family (and even more if you are educating your children at home).

I would like to say that I put myself first and do these things before I start my day, but honestly self-care is still kind of squished in around work, homeschooling, farm life, parenting. Many times I have to jump out of bed and get ready for work or dive into farm chores.

It helps me to look at targets in self-care for the whole week, not by day, because it’s easy to miss things on any given day and feel badly. I will confess it is much easier now that my children are older. If you are looking to garner self-care and your children are very small, I think you need very bite-sized pieces that take 10 minutes or under multiple times a day or you need to have help to watch your children in order to have a bigger piece of time. Some pieces of self-care you can have your children do with you! I know for me, my husband traveled all week long for years when our children were small, and having three children of varying ages didn’t seem feasible to really ask someone for help a lot.

This is my self-care list:

My absolute daily things:

Prayer and meditation. I start every morning with affirmations that I hand wrote for myself. This started when I had a lot of uptick in anxious thoughts and it was helpful. I also read Psalm 91 outloud at the beginning and end of the day. I usually listen to Meditation Mountain on Spotify in the car.

Water. I use a stainless steel water bottle and carry it around.

Dry brushing. This can be hit or miss for me.

Supplements. I have a small and manageable list of supplements that I have found helpful for being older. I tried to have more supplements and use a pill box, but that was overwhelming and I still would often forget to take them so I just pared my list down to the essentials.

Exercise and move – this is actually fairly easy to hit on the days I do the horse care, but other days I need to plan a bit more for this. The days that I work and see patients in office I usually don’t exercise because I have the commuting time, notes to write, and I am mentally exhausted. Just being honest.

Happy Music 🙂 Again, easier to listen to adult music now that my children are all ages almost 13 and up!

Read books! I read daily.

Talk to my close friends.

End the day early. We have a pretty quiet house at night usually. In the winter we usually do night check around 9 or so, but in the summer it’s easy to do chores right after dinner and be done for the night.

The other things (daily if I can, weekly if not):

Food Prep- I do prep things every few days typically and put in the refrigerator. Sometimes this is just chopping up fruits and putting them in mason jars so things are visible, pan roasting veggies and having those on hand, making chia seed pudding or overnight oats, or it can be prepping an entire meal I can put in the crock pot or instant pot.

Napping/resting. On the days I am home, I still like a quiet time after lunch and on the weekends, I like to nap if I can.

Spiritual – worship on most Sundays, and I have a smaller group on Thursday mornings. Both have online options which can be helpful since our place of worship is about forty minutes away.

Date Night! Now that our children are older, we can go out by ourselves and it’s easy. I love Thursday nights for date night. Thursdays are such a good day of the week for me!

Writing and painting. This requires being alone and focusing, so this is much easier than when my children were small.

What kinds of self-care things do you love to do? I would love to hear from you.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

July Round -Up!

I almost missed posting this monthly round up for July (almost), but here we are! July has been a busy month for us on the farm. We pulled some honey, we have switched over some leasors on some of our horses, we have been shuffling a horse that needed training, acquired two barn kitties, graded some land, finished some more fencing and started some seeds for fall.

The only thing we really celebrated in July was July Fourth (by staying home with our horses, but we could see fireworks for the town miles away from our pasture. I hope you had a happy Fourth of July for those of you celebrating it.

July used to be a month of complete doldrums for me with the intense heat and being exhausted from being outside every day with small children. Then it became a month of doing homeschooling consultations, which lifted my spirits! Now I am mainly working outside the home, and still doing some consultations, which is great fun. I am looking forward to sunflowers and some lake trips.

July Fun Round Up!

Are you thinking about summer menu planning?  I have a back post on July Menu Planning to grab!

Ideas Of Things to Do With Children:

  • Fourth of July decorating; patriotic crafts
  • Find traditional patriotic American music to listen to!
  • Go to Independence Day parades!
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Drying herbs and making things from herbs
  • Picking produce; canning and preserving
  • Earth looms and weaving could be lovely; see my summer Pinterest board for even more craft ideas

Ideas for the Home:

  • Going through the school room or school area and cleaning out
  • Ordering art supplies and new resources for the next school year
  • Making new seasonal things for the home
  • Changing out toys if you are on a toy rotation for smaller children

Our Family Life and Homeschooling Fun!:

Our 21 year old is headed back to university and will work four straight semesters through before she graduates. She had a wonderful opportunity to go to Greece early this summer with a tour from university and then later in the summer to France with her boyfriend and his family. She had a well-traveled summer!

Our middle child is headed into senior year at her hybrid high school and looking at colleges. Applications open August 1st. She already had a large scholarship offer, so we will see what decisions she makes.

Our youngest has been busy sailing, doing things with 4H, and riding horses. He went to an overnight camp associated with our church for a week that was a lot of fun and fostered some good friendships. I am working on seventh grade for him now, even though I sometimes vacillate at this point as to whether he should go to full time school or not. However, the Waldorf Curriculum is so beautiful it is hard to give up! I have my blocks planned out along with some extra work in math and spelling. It’s going to be an amazing year!

Self Care

I feel pretty good health wise lately despite the busyness of life. There are some essential check points I put in my schedule for my health including prayer and affirmations, drinking much more water than I used to, eating more fish and more plants, and scheduling out some time to exercise just for me (although we get plenty of physical work on the farm!) and this seems to have been helpful.

Artistic Endeavors

I am trying to write a little more again. I went through a phase where I just felt like being on the farm and thinking I didn’t have much left to say with children nearly grown but here I am again! 🙂 I have some plans for watercolor painting so that should be fun.

Great Reading

I am re-reading Betty Staley’s “:Between Form and Freedom: a practical guide for the teenaged years” which is always a treat!

Please tell me what you are up to! Happy July, family.

Blessings,
Carrie

Supporting the 15/16 Year Change and Beyond

Our oldest two children are 17 and almost 21 (in a few short weeks). Through them, I can listen to the things that they have observed in their relationships with others outside the family. They have mentioned addiction and a high level of depression and anxiety and other mental health disorders are prevalent in many of the people their age that they meet.

There really are no easy fixes as I think this demonstrates challenges with our entire society as children are born and grow up, from the baseline of our food and drinking water all the way to a lack of supportive community in raising children. Then, the individuality of each situation is superimposed on this background for even more factors.

We don’t often talk about raising teenagers, except sometimes society bemoans younger generations in general terms. The teenagers I have met are such intelligent, sensitive young adults. I don’t wish to bemoan this generation of children at all! The purpose of my life’s work has been geared toward helping parents be healthy and helping families be healthy. So, in supporting these young people in the years of the 15/16 change into the early 20s, what are the best things we can do to help?

Betty Staley writes in her book, “Between Form and Freedom: A practical guide to the teenaged years” that, “They (teenagers) feel they have to impress those around them, but they are not sure who they are. To find out, young teenagers put on many different masks. The response to each mask gives the teenager clues to the acceptability of one personality type and another. Thus, the youngster decides whether to adopt a particular way of behaving. The teenager turns to the peers to define behavior.” (page 192). This becomes less important after the 15/16 year old change, author Staley points out, but also that children can become “stuck” in adolescence and sometimes need a new setting to start over.

Staley writes, “For healthy emotional development, adolescents need a protective circle of support. This circle should include their family, their school, their religious leaders, and their community. However, with the breakdown of the family, de-personalization of the schools, weakening of religious ties and instability of the community, teenagers do not have a protective circle.”

So, several things come to mind for me in supporting today’s teenagers.

I think one idea is to help the teenager develop a sense of self-worth, self-esteem, respect for oneself. This is easier said than done. Emotional maturity takes a long time, but I think the more we can dial things down and involve less competitiveness and pressure, the more the teenager can let their “real self” emerge.

If your teenager wants to bounce back against whatever they think their family stands for, to be the opposite, I often feel this is actually a continuation of earlier development where children want to do what they want to do that ties back into that emotional maturity piece. We can teach our young adults that we can slow down and think about decisions, know pros and cons, and then though we have to live with the outcomes. That responsibility piece is often hard to learn, and also to feel comfortable in making wrong decisions and mistakes.

The second idea is to see how big a protective circle you need. If your children are in school, I am in favor of smaller school settings rather than the large high schools with 900 students in a graduating class. Are their teachers, coaches, friends and friends’ parents helpful? Do they listen to your teenager? At this age, teenagers can certainly take instruction and learn from people they don’t necessarily like, but it is important to have a circle that does understand and listen.

Within your family, can you help them find their place? Betty Staley writes on page 194, “They are not children and they are not adults. Most of what they want to do when they are fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen is illegal or unadvisable, yet they are being urged to do it anyway.” (referencing media images). Instead of pushing our early teenagers ahead to the late teenaged or college aged activities, see if there is anything you can hold back for past the 15/16 change that makes sense within your family structure.

Artistic pursuits can be so helpful for this age if that is an option. The arts nourish the soul, and promote individualism in a unique way and through the unique voice of their creator.

Betty Staley writes about how adolescence can be a loss. It means leaving childhood behind, adjusting to bodily changes, losing childhood innocence, losing dependence upon parents. So, we need to be open to helping guide our children through stressful times, and really listening. Communication skills and communication coaching are valuable in this way for our teenagers.

The thing that has been the most helpful in our family, outside of spending a lot of time together, has been a connection with nature. We did this primarily through horses, but also did plenty of camping , being outside in general, 4H and things like that..

What things come to your mind in supporting early teens, teens in that 15/16 change, and in our older teens and young adults? Would love to hear from you.

Blessings and peace,
Carrie