"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Archive for June, 2012

Stewardship and The Five I’s

Fern GulleyMost of our land is designated as a Stewardship Forest which means that any actions we take to conserve and manage are done in a way that improves the quality and productivity of our woodlands for future generations.

Curious about what being in stewardship to a forest means, I began researching forestry and farming and discovered there is a name for what we have in mind to do – agroforestry.

Forest farming is an agroforestry practice characterized by the four “I’s”- Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive management of an existing forested ecosystem wherein forest health is of paramount concern.

What I found most interesting and what sparked a huge aha moment for me was the characterization using the four “I’s” – Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive. These were the same principles I was already using within the practices of my own personal growth. For my personal practice however, there is a fifth I – Inspiration.

These four characterizations alone each have their own essence of power, however when combined with inspiration it all began to click together. To me this felt like an affirmation of being on the right path. I began to see how honoring my inner voice, or the voice of my spirit, sparks a feeling of inspiration which in turn sparks creativity which then moves me to begin to take action.

I discovered that taking action is only effective and done with ease when the intention of the actions are aligned with the essence of my calling. As I begin to move forward the process of integration begins.

Personally, this is the space where new beliefs principles and practices are blended, or integrated into my current ones. It is where I recognize the aspects of me that are, or have been, on automatic pilot and assess whether those things serve me to be the best me that I can be. I then choose my own programming from that point forward, integrating it into my daily practice, a process which requires both embracing and letting go.

Look to the LightIn the forest it is the space where the intention or vision for the forest requires human interaction. Some actions, such as the selective cutting of trees to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor bringing sleeping seeds to life are both intensive and interactive. This interaction is part of assisting it to be while some actions are passive and without human interaction, allowing it to be.

And so for me, the four I’s were transformed into the five I’s – Inspired, Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive.  These principles or characterizations became SEEDS that when applied not just in stewardship to a forest yet in all aspects of my life, are supporting and assisting with moving from a state of surviving into a life thriving … in harmony and oneness with mother earth – HOME.

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

“…been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, everything changes and my thoughts they get scattered but I think it’s about … forgiveness … forgiveness … even if you don’t love me any more …” ~ Don Henley

The Heart of the Matter is a 3D project that was inspired by some of the gifts I have received on my personal journey of growing and evolving. I find that the most effective medicine for the times when I am feeling an ‘inner unrest’ that requires time for reflection to ‘sort it all out’ is to take that time out in nature. Being in nature takes many forms such as tending the garden or walking on the beach however, one of my favorite places to sit and be quiet with me is under a large, old maple tree in the woods near my home.

I often seek the solace of nature when I am experiencing emotional turmoil. It can feel overwhelming to experience the many things I cannot control about my life and my relationships. Sitting still and allowing the peaceful perfection of the natural world to act as my safety net I find that I am able to ground myself and allow that peace to resonate within me. Sitting quietly under the maple tree assists me to let go of the extraneous things that distract me and to go deeper into truth to get to the heart of whatever is currently bothering me … to get to the Heart of the Matter.

Here there are no ringing phones, no knocks on the door, no emails to read or write … no external chatter. My inner ‘to-do’ list is put away for a while. Here I am able to let go of the world and its demands and I create the space to allow my sometimes seemingly incessant inner chatter to be quiet.

The Heart of the MatterA tree in the forest has no option for moving on to greener pastures when the going gets tough. It must grow where it is planted. There are many things we can learn from this growing while standing still. The development of this project revealed several insights which led to the evolution from “March 2011 Tree” into “The Heart of the Matter”.  One set of insights came in listening to Don Henley sing.

I reflected on forgiveness for a while asking to know what it really means to forgive. Forgiveness on the deepest level would mean that my emotional response when thinking about something that brings me a sense of pain would instead bring a sense of peace. Forgiveness would mean that I would truly understand … to know like I know like I know … no matter how painful something may have felt in the past, the pain can be healed and the wound can disappear. This has already happened with some of my formerly painful emotional responses. My body no longer acts in fear. I am at peace. I am now simply required to expand that feeling into other painful situations.

There are still some ways in which I have not truly forgiven. Here in this place of resisting forgiveness there is a connectedness to being right. Does forgiveness mean that I was wrong? Does forgiveness mean that my pain was not real? Does forgiveness mean that the other was right in what they did or said? Does forgiveness require letting go of justice?

Early one morning as I sat processing and reflecting on some of these questions around forgiveness my son Josh played a song from his phone that he said I just had to hear. The song asked … well, I will quote the lyrics here…
_____________________
What Would You Say by Trailer Choir
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Qhgvn1gak&feature=share

what if the moment came and
you knew your life was down to minutes
lighter’s flame was all you had to see
and you found a pen and torn up piece of paper
and a note was all you could leave

13 men felt trapped in a mine in West Virginia,
only one made it out alive
but their love lives on in the words
I can not wait to see you on the other side

what would you say(x2)
(CHORUS)
in the lines on a page from the life that you made
could you write it with no regrets
would you know in yourself you gave somebody else
all the love that you had inside
right down to your last breath

would you tell your momma thank you for the way you love me
daddy don’t cry everything’s gonna be ok
would you tell your little boy that
you’ll be watching him from up in heaven,
you’ll never miss one game

what would you say(x2)
(CHORUS)
in the lines on a page from the life that you made
could you write it with no regrets
would you know in yourself you gave somebody else
all the love that you had inside
right down to your last breath

what would you say

(CHORUS)
in the lines on a page from the life that you made
could you write it with no regrets
would you know in yourself you gave somebody else
all the love that you had inside
right down to your last breath

what if the moment came and
you knew your life was down to minutes
_____________________

The first few lines of the song brought tears to my eyes and before long I was sobbing as wave after wave of emotion swept over me. I felt the purest of truths hit me deep in my chest and spread with a peaceful warmth throughout my body. Here in this unexpected emotional journey I touched the Heart of the Matter.

What if the moment came and I knew my life was down to minutes?

What would I say?

Love, Accept, Forgive - Begin with you - Start Now

Love, Accept, Forgive – Begin with you – Start Now

What would YOU say?

Moving Toward a Dream

My husband Jeff and I have shared the dream of owning a farm almost since the day we met, nearly 31 years ago. When we would talk about our future farm and what it would be like, we described it pretty much like most people would describe a farm. Big house, barns, fences, storage silos, endless fields where large tractors are used to plant, cultivate and harvest vast expanses of corn and hay. So it’s a bit curious that the land we purchased looks nothing like that.

Autumn Pond

Autumn Pond – October 2006

Our “farm” is not a traditional farm at all and is really not at all like the dream as we had envisioned it, however it’s so, so much more. It is wooded wetlands – swamp – consisting of approximately 100 acres of forest, 4 cleared acres and a 4 acre pond. There were no buildings, no fences and no vast fields waiting to be planted but it really didn’t seem to matter. It spoke to us just as it was. We were enchanted by it. No, it didn’t fit the picture we had painted of our dream but we felt called to live, to be and to explore … right here.

Sweet Gum Leaf

Sweet Gum Leaf – October 2006

The two and a half year process of purchasing the land was a challenge that also brought many unexpected gifts. We discovered that the rules, regulations and criteria we had to meet to build a home here were, at their core, about protecting the resource value of the land. We were exposed to new terms in relation to describing and defining our land. Some examples are; transition area, habitat, nesting area, endangered, threatened, ordinary resource value vs. exceptional resource value, upland, wetland, and riparian.

Graceful Grass

Graceful Grass – October 2006

What all that means is that our land is defined as a portion of a larger area of wetland or swampland which acts as a filter for the water running through it. It’s a transition area; a buffer between the higher land elevations and the point where land ends and water begins. It is home to  native plant species such as various grasses, rushes and sedges, milkweed, several species of aster, fern, orchid, mints, mosses, and various trees and shrubs. This combination of greenery provides habitat for wildlife including bear, deer, fox, coyote, beaver, raccoon, rabbits, squirrels, eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, hummingbirds, turtles, frogs and snakes, serves as a stopping point for migratory birds and as a pollen and nectar source for important insect pollinators such as native bees, butterflies and honey bees.

What it all means for us is that by having a dream and moving toward it we’ve landed at a place that we hadn’t anticipated. It isn’t “less than” or “better than”, it’s just different and unique. We were open to hearing and following the call. We allowed ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the land itself vs being locked into a dream that could only be manifested as the vision of a farm we had described for three decades. Our dream is not necessarily manifesting as we had imagined but it is already revealing itself to be so much bigger than we had ever anticipated.

Autumn Meadow

Autumn Meadow – October 2006

In the process of moving toward the dream we’ve pretty much turned our ideas and beliefs about farming upside down. We have discovered aspects of agriculture that we weren’t aware existed before this journey. As an added bonus, integrating new beliefs about agriculture has also somehow curiously revealed things of ourselves that we had forgotten or had been out of touch with for a very long time. Aspects of ourselves that when explored or revealed become like a sort of nourishment to the manifesting of the dream. Assisting it to unfold and blossom before us, petal by petal.

St. John's Wort in Abundance

St. John’s Wort in Abundance – October 2006

We’ve been given the opportunity to turn our beliefs about ourselves upside down a bit as well. What began as a desire to survive by growing things and living off the land has been transformed into a calling to live in stewardship to the land. In this we are watching and participating, moving forward and sitting still. In some cases we are assisting it to be and in others we are letting it be. In the “doing” or “not doing” we are moving from living a life of simply surviving into a life of absolutely thriving.

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