When The Holiday Season Is Hard

When The Holiday Season Is Hard

Yesterday, a dear friend told me about how hard it is to leave through this season of so much family stuff when her family of origin was the source of intense, prolonged abuse and a continued world of denial.

Someone else I love feels a profound level of anxiety associated with the travel that often comes this time of year.

Others of us – me included – miss people so intensely that even the best moments come with an ache of absence.

We miss people. We wish our families were different, more healthy, more complete, more like Hallmark.  We ache for partners or children. We want to slow down or speed up just to get past the first of January.

So if this is you this season, may I be a small voice of affirmation. May you find the space you need to grieve, to ache, to wish, to rest, to seek, to find, to hope, and even to fear. May you be surrounded by people who give you this space and who trust that your hurt doesn’t need to dampen their joy. May you see light in the tiniest of candles, and may the shadows grow smaller in that light.

Most of all, may you know you are loved, deeply and richly, for all of who you are in these hard days.

We are doing a little holiday giveaway on Instagram and Facebook. You can win a set of our farm mugs, a packet of seeds from our garden, an electronic copy of my book God’s Whisper Manifesto, and a code for a 30% discount at our Etsy shop.

A Giveaway from God's Whisper Farm
Meander, the reluctant model.

Just click these Instagram or Facebook links to get all the details. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from God's Whisper FarmIn a few hours, we’ll have chainsaws running to take down the trees that the goats have girdled in the back of the farmhouse, and the Macy’s Parade will be playing in the family room.  Another basset hound will join our two, and it will be the kind of delightful chaos that comes when people who love each other gather.

Now, though, everyone but me is asleep, and the coals of the wood stove are glowing orange. I’m thinking of my mom in new, hard ways this year as we try to have a baby. Last night, I dreamed she and I were talking about clothes, sitting at a diner somewhere. I woke up aching and happy. She died six years ago tomorrow, on the day that was then Thanksgiving.

I’m thinking too of the people of Standing Rock, people for whom Thanksgiving may not be – may never have been – a happy holiday.

I’m praying for us all, for a true peace and warmth in our hearts that surpasses both understanding and our own gain. I’m praying for celebration and grieving, sometimes in the same measure on the same day. I’m praying for the laughter of a child to grace this home.

May you have a Thanksgiving that gives you all you need, and if you are alone and can make it to the farmhouse, dinner is at 1pm.


Holy and Hard – The Moving Begins

This morning, we had our first near frost, and the Great Pyr puppies were frisky – as if the cold dances in their blood. . . I completely understand.  (Meander, however, is tucked under a blanket on the couch snoring.)

Packing Tape and Wine - Moving Tools
Moving Tools. (See the name on the bottle?)

In about an hour, dear friends will arrive to help us make the first of many trips from here to the new farm, and I am both eager and sad.  It will be as hard to leave this place as it will be joyous to move to the new one.

I have poured myself into this land – with raised garden beds and a chicken coop and a shop, with trails cleared and land brought back from wilderness.  I have healed here, and I have married here.  Forever, this place will be sacred to me.

Yet, I go to the new farm with deep eagerness – for it will be the place both Philip and I build.  Much of this farm was mine – my dreams, especially – but in this new place, we will dream together. And for that – more than anything – I am excited.

But I am also eager to take what we have learned here and use it there.  I want to spread the goat feeders out more so there’s less butting and be sure to get shelter over their mineral feeder.  I want to use wood chips from day one on our chicken poop boards, and be sure to get great straw for the laying boxes.  I want to get cover crop on the garden asap to help keep weeds down and feed the soil . . . and so much more.

In very real ways, this new place is a continuation of this old place.  Even as it is a new beginning . . . a new beginning that will have new adventures and maybe new animals. Mom’s dearest friend pointed out that we really need a pig since our town is called Radiant –  you know so that the pig can bear witness as Wilbur did for Charlotte’s web. And I still dream of alpacas and learning to spin.  (Maybe I’ll get a spinning wheel and start practicing.)  Plus, we want to grow sweet corn, something we haven’t tried here and get our asparagus hill in the ground.

Plus, there are new stories there. When we arrive at the farm on Monday night to check out the house before coming back here to care for the animals, I will talk to the hill and pour out a libation of memory for the people enslaved there – a way of honoring and telling them that I will know as much as I can about their lives in time.  It feels like a way to carry the sacred to this new place.

So today, I load wheelbarrows and post-hole diggers with a mix of joy and grief.  And I remember that this is life – holy and hard and beautiful beyond measure.



Great Expectation and Quiet Grief – Moving the Farm

In just over a month, we will be carrying the farm dream about 60 miles north, to our new farmstead.  Still God’s Whisper farm – in name and dream – just at a new location on a quieter road with a little more land and much more usable pasture.  MA8170560_4

Oh, and a 210 year old farmhouse with two front doors.

We will pack up 6 goats, 14 chickens, 2 guineas, 3 dogs, 5 cats, and 2 humans and begin again – and hopefully for the final time – in Madison County, where I have to resist comments about bridges all the time, even though I’ve never read the book or seen the movie.

Two nights ago, I stood at the top of the hill behind the house and stared out over the mountains I have come to love and I felt the tears.  I didn’t really think I would ever leave here, and yet, we are leaving, and yet, that is very good.

The driveway at the new farm
The driveway.

My wise friend Shelva talks so well of grieving, about how change requires we grieve the old to make way for the new, and I am ever grateful to her for that gift, for the reminder that it’s okay to cry about leaving something even in the midst of the deep excitement about what’s ahead.  So when the tears come, I let them because if I feel sadness then surely I did not care about this place, and I so care.

My hope is that someone who needs respite and healing, who wants to continue the restoration of this land and themselves will come here and find what they need, as I did.  (If you know someone for whom this place might be a home for a while or forever, please do share the real estate listing.)

The New Workshop
Philip’s Workshop

In ways I cannot even articulate, I know our time here is done. We have restored the land, brought it health and life, and it has healed me deeply, fully, giving me space and work to form the strength of scars and to build the hope of dreams.

Writer's Office
My new office

Now, we move on to a place closer to Philip’s work, to a space with pasture and deep history, and the glow of a town named Radiant.  Tomorrow, we will stop at the historical society there and learn what we can about our new home, and I will think about ways to tell it’s story and intertwine the tale with ours.

I am eager to live where the sound of cars is minimal, and the smell of grass profound. I want to name all the cows in the pasture next door and walk with them to the historic cemetery next door.  I am eager to sit by my office window and see the chickens scratch and watch the goats frolic out our bedroom window.  I cannot wait.  Truly.

But for this month, I dwell in expectation and in the quietness of grief.  A month of life, true, hard, lovely.


The Bride Tries to Repair the Mower

Yesterday, I was lying in my yard with my hand around the black rubber handle of a socket wrench as I tried to fix Vulcan, the riding mower.  5213879678

This is not how I expected I’d be spending my wedding week.

Actually, to be more precise, this is not how our culture has taught me to expect my wedding week. Instead, I’m supposed to be flouncing (which is something I never really do from day to day) to spa appointments and luncheons or laying back on a chaise lounge with cucumber slices on my eyes.  Clearly, this is what David Tutera’s brides do.

And while it might be nice to be flouncing for a few days, that’s not really me.  Me is more riding the mower in the fall cool day wearing a hoodie whose seams have long ago given up.  Me is washing the windows and then staring out them for long moments in awe of the bounty that I live among.  Me is trying to decide if it’s crazy to make a loaf of fresh wheat bread for everyone who will be around this place this weekend.

Yesterday, I had a moment when I resented having to try and tighten a mower blade (which I broke, incidentally), and another moment when the ache to have my mom here nearly knocked me off my feet.  This is not how it’s supposed to be, I thought.

But today, with a night of rest between me and the grass seed pressed into my cheek and a mower ready to rumble (Philip is a genius), I recognize this week for what it is – perfect.  Hard and busy and also full of moments like this one, where a wren cackles from the front porch and a pup sleeps on a pillow next to me.  Moments when I know, that this life, of wrenches and grief and the dogwoods just painted burgandy is absolutely right.

Hard, perfect, and powerful – my ideal wedding week.


Mom’s Garden And The Wedding

This coming weekend, we are going to finish our shade patio at the front of the farmhouse.  Dad is bringing over a skid steer, and we’ll load in soil (and lengthen the space for the barn at the same time.)  Then, we’ll mulch it all and plant ferns and bleeding hearts.  169191509

It will be my mom’s garden, and it will be my way of remembering her as part of our wedding. 

At the wedding, on that day of great joy, we will not have a tribute to her, except for something small and private I will carry with me of hers.  I cannot tell you how much I miss her, how much I wish she could have known Philip, how much I ache for her to be there on that day.

But that day, we will put aside all those feelings as best we can and celebrate.  I simply do not want to call forth grief on that precious, joyous day.

So please know that I remember my mom, that I want her with me so desperately, but please, don’t tell me you know she’d like to be there or say something pithy about how’s she’s watching.  Just know that I miss her and spend some time in her garden out front, if you will.

And recommend shade-loving plants, too.  We’ll have painted ferns – Mom’s favorites – and some hosta, too.  I’d love other ideas, though. What do you recommend?