Releasing Judgment- An Easter Tale

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This Easter it was really important for me to get home to Savannah.  I just wanted to be with my family.  Spring is my husband’s busiest season so we decided the kids and I would make the trip without him.  Normally, this would not be an issue but we had an evening wedding to attend in Atlanta on Saturday and we had to get Malik (my oldest) back on campus for an 8am class on Monday. Talk about mission impossible!

But… I was determined.  And I have three pretty awesome kids (two of which are drivers) so as crazy as it may seem for us to hit the road at 9pm on Saturday and return at 9pm on Sunday, that is exactly what we did.

But let me back up a bit.

On a good day I wait until the last minute to get essentials for holidays.  Having just returned from the conference, I was in true rare form. Especially given that right before the conference I learned that I had been accepted into the Black and Latino Farmers Immersion program at Soul Fire Farm.  Add the additional level of social consciousness provided by the conference and springtime temperatures and my body just wanted to veg in the soil all week. Friday evening I realized I wasn’t prepared for a wedding or a road trip.  So I headed to the thrift store early Saturday morning. ;).

While I have taken on several new homesteading practices in recent years, thrifting, recycling, and up-cycling is something I’ve done my entire life. I’ve even indoctrinated my kids to the point that they choose the thrifting when spending their own money. It came as no surprise to them that their Easter best would be ‘gently used’.

I almost cried when I saw this. $3.99!!! Can you say continuous brew?

I almost cried when I saw this. $3.99!!! Can you say continuous brew?

During my haste, I came across a Facebook post of a hometown acquaintance. She was expressing her disdain for those who come to church only on holidays. She expressed that she stays home on those days to avoid dealing with those people.

WHOA! So thankful God doesn’t think that way!  As it turns out, (this year at least) me and my family are said people. I had forgotten some folks feel like that! I guess I was too focused on what this precious time with my family means to me. In recent years, my sister and I have taken turns  tearing up I-16 to get to each other. There are just moments when we know it is time. Leading praise and worship at her church is big part of who she is; I wanted to share that with her this holiday. Judgments be damned! ( I think Jesus is okay with me saying that -btw).

This did, however,  make me think of a spiritual practice I have.

When I notice a behavior that is hurtful or offensive, instead of becoming paralyzed (depressed or angry) by the pain of it, I allow myself to consider if I harbor any of that in my own spirit.  In this case, I started thinking about judgement.  What do I assume about others with limited information? How do I let my own issues seep into my views of others? How have I painted people with a broad stroke?

This is a powerful but difficult thing to do. To really sit with yourself. To consider your judgments without judgment.

So I acknowledged my issues and released them… almost immediately. I’ll continue to do this over and over.  It is a ‘working’ practice.

I love road trips with my kids. I am less distracted. We have great talks. This trip we talked about the resurrection; about rebirth and renewal in our own lives. We talked about Judas. We decided that despite his extreme slimy-ness, his role was critical to Jesus’ mission.

My take on the Easter basket this year.  A small shopping basket with road trip goodies for the kids.

My take on the Easter basket this year. A small shopping basket with road trip goodies for the kids.

So off to church we went. For me it was like riding a bike.  I knew the songs and fit right in with my sister and her praise team (or at least I like to think so- lol).  My kids are not as used to the ‘pew squats’ as Malik put it and we fumbled the offering… putting our donation in the benevolent offering. Oops. But the congregation was gracious and quite kind.

My lovely sister and Pastor McClendon.

My lovely sister and Pastor McClendon.

And like any good southern Easter service, there were tons of pictures taken.

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Every outfit thrifted… total cost: less than twenty smackers!

I think we put together nicely… what do you think?

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9 Signs You Might Be a Homesteader in Disguise (like me!)

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“It’s not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family, nature and community cohesion; a certain hostility toward luxury; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.”   JD Belanger, Countryside Magazine.

I’ve been practicing homesteading principles with my family for years (refer to my kombucha obsession as exhibit A). I’ve always known that I was a bit odd  but I always described myself as ‘practical’  ‘pragmatic’,  or ‘functional’.  Although I’ve been  following self-sufficiency pioneers like Kristen Michaelis (Food Renegade)  and Hannah Crum (Kombucha Kamp) for years, I didn’t fully identify with the movement until recently.  It wasn’t until I started hanging out with other homesteaders in my community did I realize that my lack of  livestock and green thumb didn’t exclude me.  As a matter of fact, there are plenty folks just like me!

Curious to know if you qualify? Here are a few signs that you might be a budding homesteader:

You have an urge to ‘grow’

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. It is doing quite well.

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. Time to re-pot!

A lot of people think that in order to be a homesteader you have to live on a farm, or at least have a garden and a few chickens. I live in a  suburban subdivision governed by a HOA that requires approval to change paint colors. But the urge to ‘grow’ is still there. I have a few medicinal plants and herbs growing around my house. How about you? Inside plants count too!

SN: Growing in your mindset also comes with the territory.

You find yourself gradually giving up on aesthetics

I used to wish I had more time fix myself (or my house) up… not so much any more. I have held on to some girlie behaviors (mani/pedis and tamed eyebrows specifically) but most days, I just go with the flow.   I will, however,  frantically throw things in closets if you say you are coming by.  Aside from that, I’ve willfully traded a clutter free home for scoby hotels and routine precise haircuts for weekly coconut oil treatments. Did any of that make sense? Yes?  Keep reading. 🙂

You are willing to embrace your own funk

This pairs nicely with letting go of appearances. Once I learned of the connections between the chemicals in most deodorants and disease, I decided I didn’t smell so bad after all. Ha!  Seriously, it is about much more than body odor.  Are you concerned about what you put on your body as much as what goes in your body? Do you find yourself wanting to find non toxic cleaning products to use in your home?  Pretty good chance you are one of us.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

You recycle, reuse and up-cycle

Do you shop at (and donate to) thrift stores? Is your recycling bin in competition with your trash? In our household, very few things make it to the dumpster. We compost, drink out of reused jars, and can tell you the name of every resale shop within a 10 mile radius.

You appreciate animals 

There are homesteaders who don’t eat meat and those who raise animals for food.  Regardless of the perspective, homesteaders value and respect the role animals play in a healthy society.

You value and support local businesses

Homesteading is about building community. At its core is supporting your neighbors. Do you find yourself getting excited when a mom and pop opens up shop? Does a little piece of you die when you see trees being cleared for yet another strip mall?

My new work boots Brand new from a local thrift store Score!

My new work boots. Unused from a local thrift store. Score!

You don’t believe in throwing food away

Activities like canning and dehydrating are closely connected with homesteading because they are typically practiced by those who grow/process (or purchase) a lot of food at one time.  However,even  if you find yourself taking a leftover chicken and making salad and then using the carcass to make broth, you have homesteading tendencies.

Our family's  version of kick the can. Composting in the City.

Our family’s version of kick the can. Composting in the city.

It is important that you know your neighbors

While sustainable living involves self-sufficiency, it is best achieved in a community. Are you that neighbor that always has a few eggs to give in a cooking emergency? Do you lend tools or your abilities to those around you?

You enjoy giving and/or receiving homemade gifts

Every year we make homemade sweets during the holidays. My kids also make jewelry, bath soaps, and furniture

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

throughout the year as gifts.  My best friend hand sews clothing and blankets for me and my kiddos and those are amongst our most prized possessions. Do you marvel at true craftsmanship? Do you spend more money and time then makes sense to give someone something you’ve made?  It’s okay. We all do it. 🙂

If I lived 1,000 years I would probably not catch up to the Kristens and  Hannahs of the world. It’s a good thing I am not trying! That is actually part the beauty of homesteading. It isn’t a competition. It is about supporting each other toward the common goal of self sufficiency.  We each have to define what that looks like to us.  For me, it looks like providing the best I can for my family and sharing all that I am with those around me… learning and growing every single day.  Oh and an occasional chai latte  with a bit of dark chocolate with sea salt.  Hey… it’s all about balance. 😉

Did you make it through the entire blog post?  I’m not an authority or anything, but I think you are in!