2016 Recap: part 1, Rhythms and How to Survive the Winter

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a good sum of me this year: walking barefoot in the rain, babywearing, with red hair

I like to recap the year for my own personal reflection; if this kind of post interests you, then enjoy! I do it for several reasons:

>>intentionally dwelling on the good, especially in the small things (#dailymagic)
>>a reminder that life is full of adventures even when I can’t be travelling the globe or spending days in the mountains  (little old midwest forces us to look closely sometimes :))
>>separating the bucket-list checkmarks from the habit-making, getting a better idea for what I want to delve more into in the coming year.
>>to hold myself accountable that I didn’t just sit on the couch watching Netflix all year
>>I also do this as a reference for myself. I use Instagram quite frequently as a creative outlet, as well as a way to document and process life in a succinct, manageable, and shareable way. Most links are to posts there.

My word of the year was Deep Work (two words I know! don’t care) and life definitely forced it on me – hey silver lining! Basically, through some very scary family health problems, living in other houses for almost two months due in part to those health problems (which -a note, the hosts were such a blessing), and tbh pretty much a mental breakdown brought on by fear and change and trial, it was a mess of a year. There were bright spots. In fact, I kept track of them precisely so that the 2016 I choose to remember is made up of more bright spots than not. These are some of those bright spots — I learned a LOT. And I mean more than just how to cope when things get tough. (Tho you can read about that here if you want.)

Also, some background on what compels my actions on this blog post. (Shortly after writing the post, I discovered the Rewild Yourself Podcast, and many a happy Wednesday was spent drinking in the knowledge from that podcast. I actually wrote the post BEFORE I discovered the podcast…I’d go as far as to say it was providential!? Maybe?) So here goes…

Things I Dabbled In: (aka tried once or twice)

rock climbing and bouldering
pottery
archery (and recurve bow – someday I dream of mastering this amazing tool)
woodburning
airbnb travel (including a glorious flat in my hometown!!)
handgun target practice
ultimate frisbee
grilling (without the help of a male :))
deer hunting
wakesurfing
pokemon go

Microadventures: (Which community building is an integral part)

art nights
fire towers in Wisconsin
hawkins hoop move/pizza nights on the farm
Spring hunting (see below)
swimming in Winona Lake
Mattias Ernst harmonica concert
county fair
weddings in meadows and campgrounds

Day hikes/day trips including:

charlie creek garden maze (wabash IN)
pontoon boat during winona lake sunset (perfect time for talks with good friends)
Pokagon
Mississenewa hikes
Mississenewa 1812
Erasmus Books in South Bend
Chain O’ Lakes

Weekend trips:

camping at Maumee Bay
mountains outside of Wasau Wisconsin
Toledo zoo

We also harbored a baby turtle for a time which was awesome because baby turtles are one of my favorite animals 🙂 (Caleb notes that its becuase they carry their homes on their backs – my favorite paradox)

Rhythms. (digging into more of the specifics of Deep Work)

I’m a creative person, an artist, but dear gracious do I muddle around if I don’t have some SERIOUS structure.  So rituals, traditions, and beauty-centric routines make my life a LOT more rich and less stressful. I thoroughly enjoyed longstanding traditions, like our friend group hobbit party on September 22, and observing Advent in a simple, weekly way (aka four beeswax candles and a reading a paragraph from the Book of Common Prayer each Sunday,) and participating in a Sedar dinner hosted by our church.

I also incorporated the need for structures, rhythms, and rituals with my values and what I view as a holistic life. A lot of these revolve around being outside more, but also others that nurture my writer side (like reading/letter writing), as well as what is often called “self care” but I usually just call “sanity” because I know what happens when I don’t intentionally make time to find and observe rituals that feed my soul and spirit.

The first one was walks in the woods. This is the single biggest habit shift I made: walking almost daily. I experienced hip pain while running for several months postpartum, and while getting treated for it (physical therapy), I filled in the need to move and be outside with walks out in the Winona Lake bike trails or other nearby parks, trails, and woods. I took Scout with me, wore her as often as possible (tho I do have a stroller I used when I really felt like covering ground). We started short, and worked up to barefoot hikes, long walks, and even cold weather walks. It became a very grounding ritual for both of us, (literally), especially when Scout was able to walk, and I learned a lot about myself during the process.

Another practice I really value is eating outside. So we picnicked, grilled out, ate dinners on our front or back stoop — anything we could to get outside. Food tastes better that way I think 🙂

An epiphany I had during the dog days of summer when it was too hot to walk was to, duh, go swimming in the lake a mile away! So we went swimming almost every day for a couple of weeks, until the weather started to cool off. It also helped Scout acclimate to water, which was a great benefit.

Watching sunrise and sunset is another habit I have just started that I want to cultivate in the coming year. (Apparently it has some amazing health benefits as well as being some of the best relaxation techniques that I know.) Just knowing the rhythms of the year and measuring time by seasons and sky is something I’ve always been fascinated by but marking time by moon phases and equinoxes is something that feels very grounding to me and I want to expand on that in the coming years. Only dabbled this year, observing the supermoon and winter solstice. (also note: not “dabbled” as in religious observances. I’m not into sun worship– Jesus is the only Son I’ll worship, thanks 🙂 )

Winter Plan:

Another element of the rhythms I cultivated this year were particularly centered around winter. For several years, I’ve HATED winter. Mostly because my body hurts when I don’t move, and I like to move most outside, and I don’t like being outside when I am cold and its ugly out. But that’s all stuff I can change, by starting with my stupid attitude. So, my goal this year was to LOVE winter. Not just like it. I had a plan: #howtothrivethe winter which involved getting myself outside more (see winter walks above) as well as embracing Swedish mysig inside – creating an atmosphere of beauty, coziness, health, and basically making your home environment a place you want to be. Candles, incense, other burning things (smoke and fire and pine smells) and Christmas trees all helped with that. As did good books, writing to a handful of pen pals (another awesome habit that really took off this year), consciously taking care of health, and morning rituals all helped with this.

Food 

Food is my favorite, so I have a lot of goals centered around it, as I already touched on above. I set some idealistic goals to source a majority of our food: localorganicsustainable zerowastewholefoodproperly prepareddelicious and affordable –whew yeah I’m an idealist. But my biggest goal was really just to stop relying on industrialized agriculture, after reading books like Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal  and Barbara Kingfisher’s Animal Vegetable Miracle. These books put flesh on a lot of vague hunches and intuitions I’d had over the years — giving me a why to several proclivities and idiosyncrasies I’ve had since childhood.

(Which by the way, industrialized agriculture is reliant on fossil fuel and produces exponentially more water waste, toxic byproducts, water usage etc. than we can personally in our households…so switching to local, organic, un-industrialized farm food is THE way to make the MOST change to your environment if you’re into going green. Also, the best way to be an activist is to align your actions with your values…which is the definition of integrity. This really shouldn’t be in parentheses, because it was one of my mottos this year. Nor should my other motto: the adventure begins when the plan falls apart, which took me most of the year to actually start living by. But, alas, parentheses is what they get at this juncture, although I’d happily converse with anyone who asks.)

Anyway. I also had a foray into eating to heal: 25 days on Whole 30 (I know…we broke it for cerulean charcuterie board. not even sorry at all.) and 25 days on the Autoimmune-paleo protocol. I would be happy to talk with anyone about these further if interested as well – both solid protocols that actually get results.

Ok so I’ve covered sustainable food sourcing and how it is good for the environment (and how I just like it and want to do it), and now I want to talk about community-building: I love the share mentality – in addition to just sharing food with people (I love any excuse to share food with others, especially outside (as I already mentioned, picnics and more picnics,  grilling out, grilling out again), but on the local front, WOW there are some great shares to be a part of in this community! I think it made a huge difference in the well-being of my soul this year. The biggest one was a workshare at Hawkins Farm – helping to butcher chickens  early on Saturday mornings. Some of the best conversations happen while pulling guts out of a chicken. 😛 Here are a few more:
Shared: (as in; part of a share or just shared because neighbors and community is awesome)
bread and milk
honey
flowers
library books
veg (in exchange for chicken help)
oats! (in exchange for help but I will buy more once I’m out too! So excited about the prospect of local organic grain)

I also tried to get in on things like farmer’s markets , u-picks (because I am a fruit snob:)

strawberries
cherries (for wedding pies!)
Raspberries and currants
Peaches

and foraged fairly often as well for:

pine pollen
elderberry flower
morels (unsuccessfully)
peaches! (from a local person who was willing to share!)
milkweed
apples (from a generous neighbor)
spring tips (inspired by Light Rail’s spruce and mint chai
decorations
wood sorrel

Spring water: This one gets its own paragraph. After discovering Rewild Yourself’s findaspring.com, I got really excited about sourcing raw, local, living spring water. (check out the podcasts or ask me for more info. Actually I’m planning on writing an essay about this at some point too). There was a lot of trial and error – the first spring i visited was full of iron (yuk), and the next one was an hour and a half away. The third was not open to the public. Finally, try four – I found my spring! And started coming up with a way to source it on a regular basis. .Next year I will cover the system I use, once I get it rolling more predictably.
So here are some the the springs I visited:

spring hunting in Ohio
Pokagon
my spring!!
my spring again

And Weston A Price esque foods I made/tried (and some I am trying to master)

kombucha
soaked oats
bone broth with chicken feet
bone marrow and organ meats
einkorn sourdough here and here
sauerkraut! (and discovered Kraut Source (the metal thing on top of the mason jar) in this process…we eat our kraut with burgers and its addicting. Caleb LOVES it. My post got shared on the @krautsource website which was pretty cool too.)
Here is one of my favorite meals that I made this year – almost everything locally sourced
flourless hazelnut cake

Here are just a few peeks at my thought process/system building regarding Weston A Price –another resource I can’t believe I didn’t know about earlier:)

fridge
counter

…aaand I need to wrap this up and save the rest for a part 2!? This is like a filing cabinet for my brain – if you’ve made it this far then we need to have coffee and chat! 😉

Next post will cover topics such as being a short-term redhead, zero waste, what I’ve learned from a year of being a mama, and my favorite “life hacks”…

 

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