3Splitz Farm, giving

Quilted Pieces

The spring plants on the farm have done their work. Now we are barreling full bore into summer. Veggies are coming along. Zinnias and sunnies are sprouting. It’s all very exciting.

One of the truly interesting things I’ve discovered this year as a new farmer is how generous plant people can be. I’ve learned so much from being involved in farming communities online. From instagram to facebook and beyond, plant people are always sharing their successes and shortfalls. How to pinch certain flowers and why. What kind of spacing and setup to use in a garden. Arranging irrigation. Protecting against pests. So many people just lay it all out there and it’s wonderful. I read. I learn. I bookmark. We’ve bought tubers and seeds and seedlings from so many of these farmers. We grow from them, in our minds and in our soil. In turn, we pour what we are doing back into the community, hoping someone else is inspired or aided by the ups and downs of our farm’s development.

Another unexpected surprise is, the more I talk about the farm to friends and colleagues, the more people share stories, tidbits, and even actual plants with me. So many people have life stories about farming – summer at grandma’s farm, shelling peas on the porch. Farms and gardens bring up so many memories. Then there are friends at work who walk up to me and just hand me a bag of bulbs. “Here’s some elephant ears from my garden.” “I divided my iris this weekend and thought of you.” All these beauties are now growing in our ground, from the gardens of friends, family, and other farms from all over the country.

In my foray into self-taught art as a teen, I fell in love with quilts. I wanted to learn to quilt for a while but never did. I still admire the beauty and artistry in a well-made hand woven quilt. And although I appreciate a symmetrical pattern, my eye and heart is always drawn to the crazy quilts. All kinds of colors, mismatched pieces, not at all perfect. Instead, perfectly imperfect and unique. Little pieces all stitched together to make a beautiful whole.

I think of our farm as a crazy quilt on land. Pieces from all over. A little here a little there. Colorful, a little wild. Interesting. Unexpected. We have several patches of sunnies that are measured and in straight lines, but I’ve also put in a patch where I kind of just put things every which way. No measuring. Mixing seeds together. Maybe it will look like a terrible wreck. Or maybe it will be the wild, textured abundance that we are hoping for. It’s all coming together in a place that is distinctly ours. Nowhere else in the world quite like it.

giving, health

Quarantined

Recently I had a chance to interact with somebody on quarantine. It was an unusual situation.

A child was quarantined from school. Old enough to stay home alone but not really alone for a long time or under stress. Unlike the Home Alone movie, home alone meant digital schooling, meals and staying on task. That’s a lot for young kid on any given day. Today though, this is the world of Corona and everyone adjusts as needed.

For me the need was sitting in the driveway in my car just in case an emergency arose. It was an important job. Mom was in hospital for separate reason. Dad was tending to mom’s emergency. Older sibling had to do finals and handle her life. This was just one day. One interaction. I could bring my laptop and work remote. Not ideal but doable. 

This made me think about how fortunate I have been during Corona. How many obstacles I have dodged. Today my time was for another. I was happy to do it. 

While sitting in the driveway i reminisced about a friend watching my kids over the years. I was thinking how hard it is to get that fill in now when your kid is quarantined aka having cooties where one is faced not only with isolation but fear of the unknown and all the other drama that follows. Now who can you ask to care for your cootie-ridden kid?

How hard it is to ask for help when an unplanned emergency happens? A crisis doesn’t have a timeline. Listen to others who may indirectly show signs of needing help. Don’t assume all is a okay. Ask what you can do to help. Be persistent. Don’t wait for them to ask. They may never have the courage to ask. Be doggedly persistent to show you can help. Kindness is free.
Your offer of goodwill can go a long way. Don’t hesitate to help others.

giving

Life

A big sigh. A deep and hearty breath was expelled. A yawn. Another big sigh. A controlled exhale.

Here I am before bed. In my super comfy pjs. It’s late on a Friday night. No big plans on the calendar tonight as it’s been a long week. My adorable fluffy dog at my feet. The most loyal companion that ever did live. She missed me today. I had a Zoom call that took me away from her for a good bit midday and an errand in the afternoon. She missed me terribly. Oh, and I missed her too. Guilty as charged. All is good as we wind down for the evening. We are reunited and calm because we have each other. Just being present is what matters. Just being present. 

When one is present there is no worry. No anxiety. No stress. No silence. No wondering when one will be back. A calm. A reassurance. A beautifully peaceful place in time. Can you picture this in your mind?

As we have each other I think of many who miss loved ones or miss out on true connections or companionships. Life happens. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. I wish it was but there are more thorny paths in life than I care to share. However I will always find ways to shift to positivity in life.

I’m currently working with a person who is single raising a young child. This person is amazing in so many ways and is doing the best for their child. Sometimes the two that make the miracle end up being better apart. In this case it’s definitely for the best for many reasons.  As the single parent/child duo emerged from the thorny road they travelled for too long, the puzzle pieces were left scattered. Not just on a table. Literally scattered to the point one had to search high and low for the pieces to put them back together. This is life for them. Many twists, turns and more thorns. 

Unfortunately, a cheering squad is missing as they out the life puzzle back together. Maybe it’s the ex’s side who fails to show up for visits today. Maybe it’s the temporary accommodations at night.  Maybe it’s just the lonely road of single parenting another day. Maybe is the constant juggling act with school shutdowns and balancing work/home all by oneself thanks to Corona. Maybe it’s missing the parental figure that was lost before the grandchild arrived. So many obstacles. So little support. Or so it seems to the one carrying the heavy load.

Fortunately I am there. Jumping up and down, cheering from a far, offering a listening ear, and so much more. Today more than ever I recognize people need people. In many different ways at different times. Companionship, trust, love, loyalty and overall presence. It seems simple in concept but many miss opportunities be present for others. The chance to be present in life. Or be a present to that person in need.

For me, I feel the universe whispers to me at times. The special times when certain people around me need to have a friend. A support. An outsider looking in. A new perspective. An unbiased party. I am to others what my dog is to me. I may not be all snuggly, cute and fluffy but I’m purposeful in my undivided attention to the needs of others.

My dog is purposeful in her loyalty to me. She recognizes I care for her. I support her. Much like a child relies on a parent. A parent needs support at times as well. In the case above I mentioned the single parent scenario. Another scenario may be an aging parent who needs the support of their adult child. The support that is just being present. No parent wants to feel like they are a burden.

Do you have a friend to family member you could do a better job being present for? Why not make present and see how much that gift is appreciated?

friendship, giving

Listen Up!

I often talk about active listening skills in professional settings. I often challenge many participants (especially males) in those environments to engage in activities that test their ability to actively listen.

It may not be every male who can’t listen but it is definitely a higher number than women by far. I often think about the why of this…

Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human. Anyone can give quick advice when somebody has a problem but those who are actively listening can hear your emotion, feel your pain and generally connect with you. Listening takes time. Listening requires one to be patient.

When I think of my own life and frustrations, I think of how my spouse doesn’t listen a lot of time. Doesn’t engage or empathize with anyone who has an issue or struggle. This makes me think back to something my mom taught me at a young age. Never pass judgment on somebody until you have walked a day in their shoes.

In order to be supportive or helpful one has to be willing to set their own feelings to the side, get down on your level, listen and really relate to your issues or struggles. This doesn’t even have to occur face to face!

If you are struggling and you text your life partner, one would hope they could read your words and really listen to your hurt. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand that many close to me are grossly incapable of doing this. 

I think this honestly comes down to their inability to get down on your level. Feel the hurt. It’s a lack of genuineness. Ask yourself, who do your reach out to when you need to talk? Is it your mom? Your best friend? Your sibling? Your spouse? Who?

Then ask yourself who will listen to you when you feel troubled? Is it the same person? Maybe it’s more than one person. The point is you are never going to reach out to the person who lectures you, passes judgment on you, or just brushes you off.

In order to be a better listener you need to give of yourself. You need to put the phone down and listen to the person in front of you. Maybe you need to stop playing a video game to read the words of a loved one.

Today more than ever our words are powerful. In today’s digital world words are a big way of communicating. Sending a note of praise. Sending a text of good will. Even sending an emoji with a smile is positive communication. We are all capable but not everyone does it.
Positive communication opens the door for building trust. One day somebody may need you. They may need you to hear or read their words. They may need you when they are struggling.

If you are not capable of using your active listening skills you may never hear or read those words. It’s unfortunate that many I know struggle in this area. This why I am opting to write this post.

If one person can make a change based on this blog, I feel like I have made an impact. Listen up. Turn on your antennas. Today’s world is hectic and crazy. We are all busy. We are all trapped in a digital world. But we are all capable of listening to words spoken or words written or even emailed / texted if we just slow down, pause and think about what another is saying. 

Remember “tell me more” offers the one person with words hope that somebody is there to listen to them. Offering hope is free.

I know I am making it a point to listen more listen to all around me and I encourage you to do the same. It’s a new year. Why not make it a goal to be a better listener?

Listen up!

friendship, giving

Longest Night

When became an adult, got married, moved into a house and had kids (not necessarily in that order), I joined a Methodist church. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school, so this was a big change. One of the first new traditions I embraced was the Longest Night. Each year, on Winter Solstice, the Methodist church had a service that focused on the darker times of the past year. People came who had experienced loss, depression. grief.

At that point, I had recently lost my mother. I had a new baby, a new home, and was overwhelmed and heavy-hearted. I joined the bell choir and played for that service. That first year, I remember just crying through the whole thing.

As you can imagine, the service is not just about loss. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Once Solstice is over, brighter days are literally ahead. So the service is also about finding hope. About persistence. About the triumph of good and light.

I love symbolism so this service always meant a lot to me. I like the idea of things getting better. Of marking time. The cycle of increasing light. And it always comes just before Christmas, a time of frantic preparation. It is a moment to just be still and reflect.

I don’t attend that church these days, but I still take time to reflect every Solstice and remind myself that lighter days are ahead.

This year the Solstice seemed both especially poignant and especially necessary. COVID has wreaked havoc on many lives. So many in my circle have lost loved ones this year. Some due to COVID, others for other natural reasons, but COVID took away our ability to gather and mourn in the way we all want and need to. Still others are hunkered down at home to protect themselves and loved ones, which brings all the pain and challenge of isolation, disruption of routine, and more.

It has just been a heavy year.

I started hearing about the “Christmas Star” (or Great Conjunction) a few weeks before Solstice. Again, the symbolism of Solstice, this unique astronomical happening, and the stars were literally aligned.

I also had it in my mind to go caroling this year. I say every year I want to sing for people more (and not just the poor people at the gym who have to hear me sing along to the soundtrack when I’m squatting). I don’t know why I expect opportunities to be a backup singer for Yacht Rock Revue to fall out of the sky. This Solstice I see I need to create those opportunities.

Who could I bring some light to? We decided to visit two special Moms who have had challenging years, each in their own ways.

I loaded my car and started the night by going out to see the Christmas Star. I went to a parking lot in a remote park about 15 minutes from my house. I was surprised to find about 25 other cars in the lot, all there to view this planetary wonder. I just took some time to quietly look and think about this year and its gifts.

Then, it was over the river and through the woods to the first grandmother’s house. A couple of friends and family members joined in. We dressed silly, I brought my sleigh bells and song books, and off we set to spread some cheer. Our living room concerts brought laughter and tears, smiles and singing along. We took requests. We flubbed the lyrics and stumbled over melodies. We jingled our bells, giggled, swayed and twinkled. In the end, we brought cheer and good tidings and light. On the way to grandmother two’s house we saw lights and so many other holiday sights.

Both these women have lived through this challenging year. They’ve made the most of it. I hope we brought some light and hope to their lives this December. I know their smiles and delight lifted me up. As one of them put it, when we said our goodbyes, “same time next year!”

It’s a date.