Most Days

All my days start the same way, get up, cup of coffee and then dressed and out the door to do morning chores. Chores are feeding the animals, mostly sheep, two goats and five horses. While I am feeding those animals who will stay in pens all day hay, I am also filling water troughs with fresh water. In total the daily chores take about two hours. In the heat of summer, I will go out in the middle of the day to refill water troughs. Animals drink more water during the heat of summer than they do in winter.

July 2022 lambs

After morning chores are done I will start my other work. Other work is divided into two categories for me – house work and outside jobs. I am the cleaning person, the cook, bookkeeper and anything else that needs to be done. Outside jobs are usually associated with the animals, checking fences, repairing buildings or building fences and sheds, deworming, marking and weighing lambs. Outside jobs vary a lot, whatever needs done I need to work and get it done.

This year, I have decided to sell two horses. The horses need to be worked and ridden, as it has been years since they were ridden. This week I started the groundwork to be able to get in the saddle and ride. The groundwork is to remind them they were once trained to ride, and that is what we are going to do again. I wait until the horses have eaten there breakfast before starting to work with them.

One task is laundry I will start a load of laundry to wash in the morning, and dry the laundry in the evening hours. I wash in the morning when the temperature outside is not too hot, in order to save on electric energy. I dry in the evenings as the temperatures are dropping outside. In the winter, this helps to put heat in the house before we go to bed. Drying in the evenings, also helps to save on electricity.

There are many things during the day I do at certain times, in order to save on electricity. During the summer, we mostly cook outside on the grill, keeping the heat of cooking out of the house. In the winter, I will bake our bread instead of buying it, along with our meals. I have mastered using the BBQ grill for cooking casseroles, but not quit for baking bread. I am still working on that.

Most of my days are the same routine, morning chores, some cleaning of the house, working outside and when I take a break from outside to cool off, I work on an inside project.

My husband leaves for work at 5 am, and he returns about 4 pm. When he gets home we feed the dogs and do the evening chores of putting out hay and filling water troughs. It is in the evening I water my garden and different outside plants. Then I fix dinner, we eat, chill out watching a television show, and off to bed he goes at 8 pm. I stay up later, wash the dishes and work on the blogs and my novel. I will also work on projects provided I have enough light for what I am doing. Then off to bed I go.

Last year I removed a huge wooden deck, saving the lumber. We had a cement pad poured in the place of the deck. This year I have been working on constructing steps, so we can use the back door.

Most of my days are the same routine. There are times I have to doctor a sheep. And lambing times are always busy with little lambs being born. Most of the time I watch, not having to do anything to assist, just enjoying the process of a new life coming into the world. Am I in a rut? Perhaps, I am always busy working on something, and the projects are changing and different.

Some might consider my life boring as I am usually alone majority of the time working at home. I do not have weekend parties or visits from family often. There are not big goings on at the farm or in my life. Yet, I am happy in my place in life and what I do.

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Times of Evaluation

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I am one of those people who like to have a plan then follow the plan. Only thing, my life does not seem to follow the plan. This is true for most of us. We have plans of things we want to do and accomplish during our life, then life happens, plans change and sometimes just disappear. The changed plans are not bad, some changes in our lives are exciting.

Finding the true love, soul mate, person who completes you is often found unexpected. These are happy events in our lives, that do lend to a different plan. Unexpected promotions or job offers are happy received events that change the plans we have, perhaps moving things forward a little faster. Sometimes job opportunities are accompanied with having to relocate to a different area. Then there are those events in life that bring great joy, but were a total surprise.

In my family, my youngest daughter and her husband wanted another child, to be a sibling to their daughter and a happy addition to their family. Their plan was to have two children. My daughter became pregnant, went for an ultrasound and saw a surprise, three babies instead of one. The fact they were going to have triplets took a moment to digest the surprise. Triplets altered their plans slightly, and with joy they moved forward preparing for three babies instead of one.

Not all events are happy events, some events bring stress, hardship, and having to totally change what you are doing and the direction you are going. These events seem to be the ones we remember the most, I think because we have to make tough decisions and fight our way forward.

Seven years ago a huge event changed my plans and lifestyle. My husband went to work as usually, the company had a safety meeting every Thursday morning. When he arrived at the shop for the safety meeting, after being in the field in the early morning, he knew something was different, a sheriff car was parked in the parking lot. Everyone gathered for the safety meeting, only it was not a safety meeting. One of the directors of the company stepped up, greeted the group, then called out four names and said “you are no longer employed. The sheriff deputy will help you gather your personal belongings from the company truck and then you are to leave. ” He called to have me come and pick him up.

The paycheck stopped, but the bills kept arriving. We sold majority of the horses, keep three for personal horses to ride, praying we would not have to sell them. The end of our dreams and plans of raising horses. The plans for building a new house, sit on a shelf collecting dust. Six months we did not know if we were staying or moving, it all depended on where he found a job. We evaluated our situation, made decisions, shed tears, and moved forward.

How many of us evaluated our lives when we were in lockdowns due to Covid-19. Travel plans were changed or cancelled. Family seemed to be more important. There were births, graduations, weddings and funerals we were not allowed to attend. Items in the store were not available for purchase. Drastic changes to our lives, but not from any decision or choice we had made. Yet, we had to make changes to our plans and our lives.

Some forced to work from home, learned they enjoyed working from home and did not want to return to an office building to perform their duties. Others lost jobs and found new careers. Some businesses closed, others became mobile. The community I live in, has a mobile beautician as well as a mobile dog groomer.

Then there are life changes such as graduation from high school or college, getting married, and retirement. My husband and I are getting close to retirement. We are evaluating what we will be able to afford, what we should keep and what we are going to do when he retires. One thing is certain, our income will decrease dramatically when he retires.

One item we are working on now is to have the house and place paid off, no house payment. When he was laid off, we paid off all our debts except the house, the only debt we have. We made a decision to never have a credit card again, if we can not pay cash, then we do not get it.

amtolle

Busy with Life

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Life sometimes hits us with a mixture. This past week we have had a mixture of emotions. We are going through the “Circle of Life”. We are saying good-bye to one family member and prepping for the birth of another.

My husband’s sister is living her last few days. We have known for a few months she is diagnosed with cancer. He has visited her, they have talked. She knows he loves her, and he knows she loves him. She is ready to go to the place of peace, and be with their mother in heaven. Later this month or the beginning of next month the family will have a Celebration of Life for his sister.

A week or so back, we also learned one of my daughters is pregnant. When one of my children or their spouse is pregnant, we as a family celebrate. Only she is pregnant with triplets. “WOW” and “OH MY GOSH” are the first phases spoken when we tell someone she is carrying triplets. Then the next words are “Is she on fertility drugs?” The answer is no. Our family is being blessed with triplets.

My family loves babies and children. We as a family have always been excited and happy to welcome a new baby into the circle. We have had one set of identical twins, although one twin did not live long after birth due to complications during the pregnancy, twin to twin transfusion was the reason for the twin’s early death. We are excited about triplets being a part of our family.

Triplets equal three times everything. Three bassinets/cribs, three high chairs, three times the diapers and wipes, three times the formula as my daughter will not be able to breastfeed three babies. As a family we are talking, planning and purchasing the furniture items needed to start raising three children the same age.

Our lives revolve around the “Circle of Life”. Everyone goes through birth, growth and death. In the movie “Broken Trail”, Robert Duval is acting a character who says a line twice in the movie, “from birth to death, we travel between the eternities.” Our live is very short when compared to the time before our birth and the time after our death.

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This week we have faced death and birth and all the emotions they bring to us. Both are a celebration.

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“Spark of Joy”

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“Spark of Joy” comes from Marie Kondo. I was introduced to Marie Kondo and “Spark of Joy” through a Netflix series named “Tidying Up”. In the series Marie Kondo assisted people in “Tidying Up” their homes. These people sought her help to make changes in their homes. During the visits to assist them, Marie Kondo talked about joy and harmony being created in the home. One example stated was when we come home from a busy day at work, we are seeking a happy place, a place with harmony away from the chaos we were in. The things that surround us as we come home should give us a “Spark of Joy”. I watched the entire series, and even viewed some of the youtube videos of her assisting others or teaching how to fold clothes and organize.

I do not travel to work, but I do enjoy a quiet harmonious place to relax at the end of the day. I have post traumatic stress disorder with the main symptoms of depression, anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. I fight the depression daily. After watching this series, I decided to surround myself in my home with only those items that “spark joy” when I look at them.

I spent months sorting through each item, taking one room at a time. How does this item make me feel? Does this item create joy in my heart or dread? Sorting through took time and energy. Sometimes I would touch an item and get a flashback, quick answer, no joy there. Some items brought back a flood of pleasant memories, those items earned a front position of my eyesight. As the appearance of my home changed, I changed.

The process of going through everything in order to create a home of joy, harmony and peace, I decluttered my home and my life. There were things I had kept because someone gave them to me, feeling like I was unappreciative of their gift if I gave it away or disposed of it. Most of those items given that did not have pleasant feelings, the giver no longer is in my life. How would they know I had gotten rid of the gift? I was keeping things out of fear of offending someone that no longer came around. I had to change my thinking.

As I surrounded myself in my home with only items that brought joy, my depression lessened. I was not fighting a hard battle everyday to keep moving forward, the depression became an inconvenience that was easily moved aside as I went about my day.

Up until the time of watching the series on Netflix and changing my home, I had not thought I had to fight to keep my joy. I was of the thinking that you have joy or you do not. I learned to fight for the joy in my life and to keep it. I still fight depression, but the joy wins over most days. There is no cure for post traumatic stress disorder. But there are ways to lessen the impact and control this disorder has in my life, I just have to fight for it, and do some tidying up.

I took the tidying up step a little further than organizing a house and where I work in the barns and buildings. I applied it to activities I would do for others. I am a person who likes to help others. Sometimes when helping others there was no joy in what I was doing. I was good at the job, but there was no joy in helping the person. An example of one activity I stopped doing was making music cds for a friend who would lead the song services at church. I would copy their pre recorded song music in the order of the songs for the church service they were singing for each Sunday. This was very time consuming and I did not enjoy the work. I decided to really be helping a person as a gift, there should be joy in giving the gift, not what I was feeling. I gave my notice to the person that I was no longer going to do this for them. A huge weight came off my shoulders.

I still have to activities around the home that I do not much care for such as laundry. When I do the laundry, I am still looking for the “Spark of joy” as I fold each item of clothing and put them away.

Look for the “Spark of Joy” in your home and life.

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amtolle

Toxic

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The past week has been emotional for me. Mostly depression and anger have ruled the days. I do not like depression or anger to occupy my thoughts and especially my days. I thought I learned ample skills to stop or at least not let the depression get so bad. I had not had an episode of depression for three years, why now? But, there are triggers to this depression I do not know.

A phone call this past week set the gears in motion for depression. During these depression times I do not feel I am worthy of anyone’s love, there is shame, no self-worth.

The nightmares returned. Dreams in one night included snakes. I really do not like snakes. I was trying to get them out of my house. There were several dreams as I would wake up, then finally go back to sleep to dream about snakes in the house and me trying to get them out. The last dream my husband was trying to get them out with me.

That morning, during prayers, I was really wanting to know why the bad dreams, how to get rid of my depression episode and what had triggered everything. The thought that popped in my mind was “Spark of Joy”.

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Two years ago I watched on Netflix Marie Kondo demonstrating “Spark of Joy”. I went through my house using her methods and cleaned a lot of things out. The biggest change was photos. If a picture of someone or something did not bring me joy, that photo went in a box. I did not destroy any, only stored them in a box for other family members to take if they choose.

The next was to only surround myself with people who brought me joy. But how can you not be around people who are family? One family member treats me with extreme disrespect as well is not truthful with us. My husband made a decision. My husband does not make many decisions, he trusts me to make most of the decisions. He is not in the dark, as I am a verbal thinker, so he knows all the information before I make a decision. But when he does make a decision, as he puts it “his vote is the only one that counts”. He made the decision if this family member does not change the way they treat me and others, they are not allowed on our place and into our home. His reasoning is we work hard to have and keep joy in our home, and for others to experience the joy and harmony of our home when they visit. No one deserves to be treated in the fashion this particular family member treats everyone.

“Spark of Joy”, the dreams were trying to tell me to get rid of the snakes stealing my “spark of joy” in my life. It is very clear the phone call stole my joy. Today, my loving husband decided to vote. He loves his wife and does not like to see her in the state she has been in for almost a week. His vote, do not answer the phone calls or text messages anymore.

There are some relationships with people that are toxic to our self being. They take away our joy and replace that joy with shame, self worthlessness, feelings of stupidity and other negative feelings. The exposure to toxic people should be short. For my health, it is not good to be around toxic people, even if they are family.

I have found another trigger. Hopefully the next time I have an episode, I will recognize the trigger sooner, and remove the snakes from the house.

amtolle

Past

The past claws me back to a place I do not want to be.
The time of sorrows, unhappy joy, lies and deceit.
Be quiet, you do not know what you say.
Your stories are untrue, and there is no need to say.
Yet, the cloud of depression roles, I struggle to be free.
To the hem of a garment I cling to heal me from this curse.
No freedom in sight, no light I see, where can my life be.

A childhood of lies, deceit and stories untold.
When asked, the answer I give is truth.
Then I am told, to be quiet, not tell the truth but believe the lie,
You do not know what you see.
The truth you share is only your imagination.
Children are seen and not heard, their stories are lies,
Their eyes are ignorant.
How could they possibly know?
Stay in your corner, do not say, for your words are foolishness.
I have heard their words, I did as told, yet, I am the one alone.

Years go by, I call once a week or more.
Yet the lies continue and stories untold.
After desperate search, the truth revealed,
Moved to Arboles, to Texas or back home.
My struggle would have been easier if I was told up front.
But no, do not let me know.
Without the truth, the lies can be told.
Keep the truth in the closet, then no one will know.

The lies, deceit and stories untold.
Death arrives, no more maker of lies.
Rest In Peace
Now be still and let my sunshine glow.

I think I have finally gained ground, the sun I do see.
Years of silence, I am alone,
The company of spouse and children occupy time and space.
Only the claws reach forth again and plunged back into the dark sea.
I saw light and now the night.
Reaching forth to be free.
Like parrots learn for the master’s lips, so comes the words again,
Be quiet, do not speak, your stories are untold.
Why do you call? Why do you ask? Yet you do not want to hear.

Years of silence, then the call.
No time to talk, no time to share.
Only do not tell your stories untold.
We do not want to hear of lies, deceit and stories untold.

Why can I not be left alone?
Alone I have the light.
Alone I have the joy.
Alone I live in truth and light.
Loneliness does occupy, yet peace also abides.
The peace with self and universe.
Not childhood pain and torture.


Past stay away, and say no more.
Silence your cries of woe.
I do not want you to stay.
I am tired of lies, deceit and stories untold.
For peace of mind and soul rest felt,
I tell my stories true fold.
Leave me alone, to you I am no more.
The blame of a curse not mine.
Out of the closet I want to stay.

amtolle 3-23-2022

Birthdays

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Today is my husband’s birthday.

Another year older, and I hope a lot wiser.

For years, actually most of my life, I did not give much thought to my own birthday. It was another day, I received gifts, but no big celebration or fan fare. I began to believe that my birth nor my being was of much importance in the universe. My self worth was very low, I was unimportant and there was no need to celebrate me becoming older. Age is just a number, no need to acknowledge or celebrate one more year.

Then I joined the “Birthday Club” at a church I was attending. Each month we would celebrate not the birthday, but the fact a woman was born. When we signed up, we were to put our birthdate on the form so the organizer would make sure we were not acknowledging the fact we were born in the same month of our birth. I realized that my birth was important and a reason to celebrate.

Now I celebrate the birthdays of those I know. Those I can be with get a card and gift. I like to send flowers to my daughters. I mail cards and sometimes small gifts to my grandchildren. I want them to know I think they are important to me and I love them.

The day of our birth is special and unique as that is the very first day we greeted our parents, became a family, and said “Hello world, here I have arrived!” We should celebrate each year we have shared our lives with others, as others did not have some many years to share with others.

When I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate that I have survived as long as I have. Acknowledging all the health warnings for activities I did as a child, it is a miracle I am alive.

Yes, I drank from a garden hose, rode in the back of a pickup truck traveling the speed limit or more down the highway. As a child, the vehicles were not made with seatbelts. It is a wonder the baby boom generation even survived at all.

But I had a life of roaming anywhere I wanted, only had to be home for supper. I remember riding my bicycle down the gravel hill near home barefoot. We would go to the top of the hill and pedal as fast as we could, then let go of the handle bars plus put our feet up on the back fender of the rear wheel. On one run, I missed the back fender and my bare toes went into the rapidly spinning spokes. WIPE OUT! Nearly took my toe off in the spokes. Blood all over my toe and foot. Removed my toe nail off my big toe. My reaction, go into the house for a pair of shoes, and out the door to see if I could go faster. Have I gotten wiser as I have gotten older. I would love to try that stunt again, only I will keep my shoes on.

Birthdays celebrate the number of years you have shared your life with family, friends and others.

How to you feel about birthdays? I hope you feel they are worth celebrating. You being alive is worth celebrating.

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amtolle

The Super Power I Would Love to Have

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Super powers that ability to do something that others can not to make the world better, safer for those living there. The word super power brings images of Super Man, Captain America or Iron Man. Someone with the ability to defeat the bad and make the world better.

The super power I would like to have is healing. I would love to be able to go into a hospital and have everyone walk out whole with perfect health, especially children. Children are beginning life and for some it turns out to be a short life.

I do realize there comes a time when we all must die, it is the cycle of life, a necessary part of being. But for children to be sick and or die, is hard. I love children and want them to have a happy childhood, learning things and about life. For some children they learn to face death before they learn about life. I wish oh how I wish I had the power to change this for them.

Each and every one of us were given today. We woke up alive. What are our plans? Where will we go? Will we smile? Do we call someone to say “I love you”?

I had a very dear older friend who did not want flowers or plants at her funeral. She said,” if you are going to send flowers to my funeral, give them to me now, so I may enjoy them while I am alive. I can not smell them when I am dead.”

The day is here, the day is short… make the most of it !

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Smell and share the roses.

amtolle