Giving and Taking

So, I’m reading this book right now. It’s called A Little Life [affiliate] by Hanya Yanagihara. Ever since I saw it for the first time at the book store I felt drawn to it. I don’t know why. It’s really, really long. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a very slow reader. So I try not to get drawn to books that are 720 pages. But here we are. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I drove to the store just to buy this book to read while I was at the laundromat. I’ve been reading it for hours at a time since Friday and I’m almost 1/4 of the way through.

So I’m going to write to you about how I’m feeling about this book knowing full well that my thoughts and feelings about certain characters absolutely will change as time goes on.

There’s this one character named Jude. And I hate that I relate to him more than anyone else. Or maybe everyone relates to him the most? I kind of doubt it but there’s a lot of him that echoes so much about how I feel a lot of the time. I really don’t like it, either, because Jude’s character is kind of the foil of his roommate, Willem. Willem is tall and blonde and beautiful and open and kind and generous. Jude is… a physical wreck. He’s an emotional brick wall. He’s filled with secrets and silence and nevertheless everyone loves him so much.

The thing about Jude is that he has a secret. I don’t know what it is yet. There have been allusions to what it might be but nevertheless, one of Jude’s most defining characteristics–at least at this point, is that he never divulges any personal information about himself. He doesn’t want anyone–not even his deepest most loving friends, to know what happened to him when he was a kid. He’s very aware of how much he takes from other people and is forever keeping track of what he owes to them. And he is forever in awe of the way that other people will hand over so much information about themselves so freely to one another.

Now, on the surface, there’s not a lot that Jude and I have in common. But the chapters that focus on him, for some reason, feel like they’re about me. I don’t know why I hold tightly to him except that we have similar defense mechanisms. Jude and I–we want to know our people intimately. We’re afraid to speak up. We’re afraid to ask about things we don’t know about. We both work so hard to appear to be fine that we miss out on true, full experiences.

There’s this one habit that I have–something leftover from childhood that still creeps up. No, it doesn’t creep up. It lives at the front of my mind and I have to actively battle it. Every day, when I remember to. It’s this part of me that is so afraid of getting things wrong or being seen as someone who doesn’t understand something. I’ve been doing this since I was a 5th grader in math class when my exasperated tutor would show me flash cards and I would roll my eyes and pretend like this particular math problem was too easy to even consider answering. I have never passed a math class on my own merit–even after I was in college and was trying my absolute best. I skated by on the kindness of befuddled teachers who couldn’t bear the thought of keeping me from graduation on account of the fact that I couldn’t grasp Algebra 1.

This hits me in relationships, too. I feel like there have been times where I’m just easing by on limited amount of information–forgetting how much people love to be asked about themselves. I do this thing where I assume that someone is going to give me as much information as they’re comfortable with and asking follow up questions is prying, nosy and insensitive. But that’s just not how it always goes. I feel like I’m too old to be learning basic aspects of friendship but here we are. I’m grateful to be learning them at some point.

Some of my closest friends are here because we’ve lived so much life together. But my newer friends, ones I’ve known for a year or two, it only hit me recently how little I know about them. I know how they see things politically. I know how they parent. I know that they are generous with their love and time. I know that we’re similar enough to get along and take care of one another and maybe I just figure that these friendships will live themselves into intimate knowledge of one another. And they will–of course they will. But the way I guard myself and expect others to want to do the same isn’t going to foster any sort of intimacy. I don’t want to be like Jude. I want to know and be known. I can’t wait to get back home and read more–I hope he gets to know this part of life.

So, I’m working hard at not letting fear get in the way of letting me life a full, intimate life. I’m divulging more information than I’m wont to do even though I feel so self conscious and self-absorbed when I feel like I’m talking too much. I’m asking people more about themselves. I am reminding myself that people want to know me as much as I want to know them. Digging deeper is okay–it’s important. It’s not an imposition–and if it is, my friend will tell me. Because friends.

This feels like basic stuff. Kind of embarrassing to even put out there. But these are the lessons I’m learning lately and if I’m living open and honest so that you can, too. It’s part of it.

What are you learning, lately?

XOXO, Lib

 

A Pep Talk For When You Need One

You’re having feelings. So many feelings. Maybe even too many feelings. And if you’re anything like me, too many feelings feels an awful lot like none at all.


You might be doing that thing where you’re trying to rush the process. You might be fighting against the waves that are crashing all over you and that’s okay. That’s your impulse to stay alive. That’s okay but it’s important to know that you will get very tired very quickly. Can I make a suggestion? Just get the attention of someone else who is on shore. Sometimes just knowing that someone can see you drowning will revitalize something inside of you to focus, stop flailing, and do what you need to do to get to shore. That person might even have a life vest to throw out to you when you’re close enough to grab it.

And you just barely get up on shore and you flop down in the sand–on your back, spread eagle, vulnerable as all hell but breathing is the only priority right now. Your muscles are weak and your throat is burning but even by the time that you catch your breath, you’re in the process of getting up. Because your impulse is to live. Your body wants to keep itself alive despite the ache. Your spirit wants to keep itself alive. Despite the ache.

Yesterday my friend Sherilyn said, “It’s all part of being human to both resist and embrace it.”

Embrace it.

Let me tell you about the ache: It’s a sacred time. As long as you’re aching, you’re in a rare space and you’re going to want to pretend it’s not there. But lean into it. Learn from it. Rip yourself open in this achey time and gather all the knowledge and self-awareness that you can. Get your pay day. It’s part of it. I won’t walk through it without a payoff. None of this is for free. You can’t pay any kind of money for this sort of an education.

And I’m not going to hide my grief from you or anyone. I don’t–you don’t benefit from pretending that everything is fine. I’m not going to hunker down until I feel all better so that all you’ll see in this space is a well thought out, mature, healed woman. It’s for you. All of this is for you. I’m mining gold and I’m passing it out like candy and beads.

You have moved mountains, before, and you’re going to do it again so why not now?

XOXO, Lib

This is how I know we’ll be okay.

You know how I know we’re going to be okay? It’s because you’re so good at giving me space to be myself. You’re excited to see who I turn into. No one’s ever been on my team the way that you are for as long as you have been. Even when it feels like things are a little bit too big. Even when it feels like we might burst and all these years that we’ve devoted to one another will get washed away–even then. You tell me what you’re afraid of and what I’m afraid of too. You say, “I don’t want that to happen.” And we both hold on a little tighter.
Part of the thing about a long term friendship, though, is that “holding on tighter” actually means to loosen your grip. We stay together because we stay elastic, flexible, and able to move without losing our own shape. We are that perfect pair of jeans infused with just enough spandex to keep your ass looking great but not so tight that we’re uncomfortable.
This is how I know we’ll be okay.

There are things in this world that, no matter how much I love the person who is saying them to me, the my instinct is just that flat mouth, wide-eyed emoji. And when a person is laying their heart out for me like that, I can’t just allow myself to respond that way. My care for them is what drives me to dig just a little bit deeper. To move past my initial instincts and reach down, in that moment, and practice being the kind of woman that I want to be. Do I want to be reactive or do I want to be the kind of person who invites the wholeness of the other person into the conversation? Because discomfort is a part of life and it’s easy to overcome. Just takes a little shift.
A lot of my life was spent working on the appearance of things it’s the soil where I was rooted. Everything was great so long as we had happy smiles and clean counter tops and we said polite things to one another. But under the surface, there were ants and anger problems that we dealt with in toxic ways–aerosol sprays and avoidance. Wipe it away. Pretend it was never here.

My favorite people to be around, these days, are the ones who are able to accept the contradictions of life. We can have clean counters and we can get ants in the summer–that’s a thing that happens all the time. That’s a thing that has no bearing on us as a people. We can smile and feel angry, too. One doesn’t counteract the other. You can hold both. You have two hands. And even more than that.
The past few years have been the most achingly happy of my entire life but they’ve not come without unimaginable pain.
I used to keep my soul so under wraps. It was private, a thing just for those closest to me. Just for those who had earned access to my heart.

Except–it grows when you give it away. Rip a piece off, hand it to someone, it’ll grow back. Really–it does. Try it. It’s worth it. That person might not know what to do with it, sure. But someone else might find a way to hold it with their own. Smoosh it together and create something new–just the two of you. Until someone else comes along.
The universal They is always telling you to guard your heart but I’m not there. That’s why I’m ripping open for you, here. I don’t know everyone reading this. I do know some people who are reading this–some of those are people that I am angry at or people that I would avoid eye contact with if we were in the grocery store. But that’s the practice, isn’t it? Right now, that’s my practice. Here, hold a piece of me. There are enough careful and grateful hands that I can spare a little extra.

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So when someone tells me a thing about themselves that causes me to react, I want to take a step back. Sometimes that means responding in a way that isn’t coming that naturally to me, so that I can practice being the kind of person that I want to be. Sometimes in the moment, that’s the right thing to do.
And then go home and think.
I don’t want to think about the ways that my reaction was right. I don’t want to think about the ways that the other person is wrong. I don’t want to hold judgement.
I want to know myself. I want to know where that feeling came from. Where did my guard come from and why did it try to block me so hard? What’s keeping me from reaching out to my friend and holding this piece of her heart that she was so brave to hand to me?
And then I want to grab it. And I want to smoosh it into mine and let it live there, something brand new. And I want to go forward and keep handing it out to the other people that I love. And in time maybe we’ll all have a piece of one another.
This is how I know we’ll be okay.

XOXO, Lib

The Growing Season: Simple Abundance Farm

I met Maggie maybe a year and a half ago? I saw her from across the circle at a local meetup for a Facebook group that we both happened to be a part of. From the minute she introduced herself I was so drawn to her. “Friendship crush” is the only phrase I’ve ever found to describe this feeling. Have you had this? The way she spoke about her husband (seriously, when I interviewed her for this piece, I asked her how long they’d been married and she said, “2 years 8 months 1 week 17 hours and 50 minutes!”), the organic farm they were dreaming of starting, and her passion for their Bahá’í faith just had me feeling like I needed to know this person more. And I definitely told her as much that day. It was a little embarrassing but I threw self consciousness to the wind and it paid off.

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Since that first meeting, Maggie and Adam (her husband whom I did eventually meet) really did start that organic farm and they’ve added to their family with little baby Arlo who was born on New Year’s Day of 2017. I wanted to talk to you about the he story of Simple Abundance Farm and I was so grateful that Maggie was willing to let me interview her. But the story of the farm is a story about Maggie and Adam. So we’ll start there.

“I am grateful for every minute [Adam and I] get to spend together! We met and became friends in high school, playing folk music on the front porch of Adam’s parents’ house. But then didn’t start dating until I was a senior in college. We were together for a year until we were engaged and then during our engagement moved to Key West, Florida were we lived and worked for about a year until we were married there on July 26, 2014! I am so grateful for Adam, he is my most favorite person in the world! We are so blessed to have each other to experience life with and support each other in growing to be the best versions of ourselves.” So this feels like the kind of thing that most people have to say about their partners–but Adam and Maggie are so in love with and excited by one another. It’s the most genuine, non-gushy truth I could ever possibly vouch for. And I know it’s true because they are in love with and excited by almost every person that they encounter. I’ve seen this in action time and time again. The Pounds’ are people who demonstrate presence and appreciation everywhere they go.

After they were married, Adam and Maggie spent about three months traveling around the country–experiencing the way that other people live, dreaming about how they wanted to live, and sorting out how they’d spend their lives living out their values. During this time, they realized that they really wanted to experience organic farming. Why organic? “Organic farming encompassed many of the things we were both passionate about such as our love for the outdoors, being in a close relationship to the things that sustain and give us life, being stewards of the earth, knowing how and where our food comes from, the community that farming can create, etc.” One little hitch, though: Maggie told me that neither of them had ever had so much as a vegetable garden! So they sought advice and decided to apply for an internship on an organic farm.

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That’s how they ended up in Carnation, Washington at Present Tense Farm–a four-acre organic vegetable farm. “[We were] working with the two farmers, and learning every aspect of the farm, such as seeding, planting, weeding, irrigation, harvesting, washing, working farmers markets, and so so so much more!” They interned there for about seven months and fell in love with it. They knew, for sure, that this was what they wanted to pursue when they moved back to Hutchinson, KS. Occasionally they, and other interns, would visit other farms to talk and learn from different perspectives. One day they were in another farmer’s home and they saw a sampler hanging on the wall–on it were stitched the words “simple abundance”. “From that moment, Adam and I knew this encompassed what we wanted our farm to convey.” And that’s where they got the name.

I was wondering what the very first steps towards making this dream a reality were and Maggie told me that it started with daydreaming. What if we all took our daydreams so seriously? They started looking at Google Earth images of Hutchinson, imagining where might be a good spot for their little organic, urban farm.

Their first season started in 2016 with Adam building shelves in their basement. They attached some growing lamps and connected a hose for watering and they were in business with micro greens! “While we grew a few vegetables outdoors in our front yard, most of last year’s sales were grown on the size of about a sheet and a half of plywood.” Last year, they sold three different types of micro greens at the Farmer’s Market. As a consumer of their product, I was super duper hooked on their radish and sunflower micro greens–tossing them into just about every salad I made last summer.

I asked Maggie what it is that keeps the passion fires burning for Simple Abundance. Her response was so beautiful I couldn’t possibly boil it down for you so here’s her word-for-word answer:
“Something I try to always remember is that we are spiritual beings having a material experience. I believe that our purpose here is to develop our spiritual selves, to nourish and strengthen our souls through the lives that we lead during our time on this earth. I try to view everything through this lens, which doesn’t always happen and is not always easy. Our goal with Simple Abundance farm is to remind ourselves and our community that if we are stewards of the earth and look for ways to live in harmony and balance with one another, then we can provide for each other and live in so much abundance. The quote ‘Live simply so that others may simply live,’ comes to mind. I think that Adam and I have found that feeling rich and nourished comes from a hard day’s work, from sharing a homegrown meal with family and friends, from holding our son while he experiences his first Kansas thunder storm, it comes from Adam playing his banjo while Arlo and I listen, and from sitting together by the fire in the evening under the stars. This is when we feel we are simply living in abundance.”

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Spring is in full-swing and Simple Abundance has entered into its second season. As time goes on, I’m going to reach out to these guys a few more times to check in on how their growing season is going. This is part one, we’ll meet up with the Pounds Family in several weeks to see how things are progressing with their family and the farm.

In the meantime–are there any questions that you have for them?


This is the first installment in a brand new series called The Growing Season. The Growing Season is dedicated to the beginnings, middles, and maybe even ends of projects. When we start something new, we often have the ultimate goal in mind and want to rush through the sacred beginning and middle work. This series exists to celebrate the whole process–not just the end result.

Extra special thank you to Blue Muse Photography for supplying all of these photos!

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April Things

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I started Dia&Co this month! I got my first shipment, and did an unboxing on my Instagram stories (and if I do say so myself, you guys loved it). It was so fun and I had no idea that I liked being on camera that much. I’ll film all of my unboxings from now on just because it’s fun and because you guys seem to really love it, too.  I’m here to serve you.
Use my affiliate link and you might get a little something something for signing up (though I make no promises on that because I’m a little unclear on what your benefits would be–just keeping it real, you guys).

I picked up this book. I grabbed it from Bluebird Books in Hutchinson because I was looking for a spring-y memoir. And also because I am a huge sucker for those little book-review cards that they scatter around the store to tell you “someone who works here has read this and they love it”!
Also, reminder, the Virtual Book Club is reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! We’re spreading it out over two months, though, because we didn’t realize how long it is and how busy we all are.

I realize that Easter is over but check out Tieghan’s GORGEOUS Easter brunch menu. I love her site so much–she makes everything look easy and so, so drool-worthy.

Try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial What are you listening to? I’m into this brand new Father John Misty album, Pure Comedy. Also I’m jamming on the new John Mayer album as I write this.

Rhubarb is in season! I’m making a batch of rhubarb liqueur right now. Just chop up a bunch of rhubarb, fill a large jar and then add 2 cups of powdered sugar and 500 ml cheap vodka. Keep it on the counter. Shake it every day for 4 weeks and then you’ve got yourself a delicious mixer. I thought about adding ginger in there with it but decided to keep it pure. I’m going to be adding it to ginger beer though, for sure. Maybe a rhubarb mule type situation? What would you do? I can’t wait to play around with it.
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Kalene did an incredible two-week series called Doers and Makers. My favorite part was all the writing she did and the way that she connected the work other people are doing to what’s going on in her own life. It was so personal and so exciting. She collected all of her writing and photos (and a write up about me, even!) in one place right here.
Also, earlier this week she did a huge giveaway that featured a painting done by yours truly. I’ve been getting a few commissions for paintings, lately, and it’s really exciting to me.

Fat Girl Flow is showing us that plus size people can rock miniskirts.

Tsh Oxenreider has a brand new book out (I loved Tales from a Blue Bike)

And finally: I’ve been trying to make sure that I’m advertising with more fair-trade and ethically practicing businesses. So take a look at my side bar and go check out some cool websites. I’m super pumped about GlobeIn. I think that it’s a great place for wedding gifts–since we’ve officially entered wedding season. Plus: a subscription service!

What’s new with you this month? I want to hear all about it. Do you have a bunch of weddings to attend this spring/ summer?

XOXO, Lib

Things I’ve written this month:
You Don’t Need More Balance in Your Life
Digging for Truth in Rubble
I’ve Found My Why

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