I Welcome the Silences

Skinny Love by Birdysunclouds

“And while she never felt quite normal, she just loved too much. Choosing to see the world through her heart, instead of her eyes.”

*******

I welcome the silence this morning just as I did last night after my home was empty and calm.  The fireplace cast shadows over the destroyed living room and in that place I found quiet solitude and reflections from the last year.  The big moments hit my thoughts first and the smaller ones trickled through like snow melting drip by drip in my mind.

Last night, out of the 12 plates I was using; my brother grabbed the last one and it was covered in bugs, it was disgusting (a year in the attic). We all sat at the table (unknowing this) with our plated food and he came, sat down with an empty plate of bugs. (Life, HA!)

There was a fire on my dining room table last night (a burning candle and wrapping paper) and in the chaos of it all and of course, after it was out…I had to laugh.  Life can change in a blink of an eye. HA!

People can be in your life and then their gone.  Life and death. Feelings of being lost or stuck, wondering who you? And then a fleck of sunlight peaks its delicate ray through the dark clouds and something changes. Maybe you jump off that cliff, go with your gut, take a leap of faith with a job change, meet someone that changes your perspective on the world, make a dream come true, get engaged, publish a book, take a risk you normally wouldn’t, meet someone you feel that gives you that spark (it’s real, it’s raw-pay attention to it), graduations, marriages, children; there is so much life to live.  So many places to see and things to do. As I get older I realize I want to have more experiences, I don’t need anything…there are so many other people who actually “need” in this world…in a strange way I feel that this is exactly what I need…. experiences, more of them…act on the experiences I crave and desire.  I want to experience life through helping others daily…make that be one hell of new year’s resolution (and of course, 15 pull-ups, 40 box jumps and 40 burpees at Crossfit)!

In my selfishness I want to pack a bag, throwing the camping gear in the car and just go…. just drive…. just explore…leave my camera at home (yes, I said that!) and breathe in the moments that I find myself soaking in, exist in them, actually feel “life” …. make the word “adventure” …an action word (for you, literary peeps)!!  Here is my last selfish thought…. when I get back from that trip without being on a schedule I want to fill that same backpack with clean clothes and start over on a plane and actually go to places on my soul’s list…help build a school, be an aide where there has been a natural disaster…. help them rebuild…. things happen everywhere every day and I want to give…give everything that I have to somewhere or someone in need; this is a great desire of mine. Other places: Africa, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Bali, Ireland, Nepal, Iceland, Paris (see where my mother was born), Australia (where my sister was born), oh’ backpack across Europe living simply day to day with no plan, oh’ and join the Coast Guard!!

Anybody in??

*******

(Back to last night.) A room of laughter can easily be turned into worry and fraught as people are too worried about who started the fire rather than get that shit out of my house…burnt paper dusted the carpet and tiled floors. Celebrating with family and friends doesn’t need to be just be on those scheduled days on the calendar. Most people will never give those up for “tradition” sake. But why not get off the forged path ahead and be spontaneous…do something different. Be together to just be.  Be together for no reason.  Be together for an hour two. Sneak off take that trip, commit and go for it, take that leap.  Live!

All we have the moments we exist in!  If you think about today, Christmas…really think about how long this day is; 24 hours, right!?!  But how long does this day actually feel to you?  Does it feel like it drags on and on? Year after year it flies by so fast, we hurry through this day not purposefully but because there is just so much too this day. Many days in life feel this way. Take that leap, experience more, when you feel moved to jump, do it, adventure, take the moments, steal them if you too, give them back in another way but do give them back, karma baby.

*******

“And while she never felt quite normal, she just loved too much. Choosing to see the world through her heart, instead of her eyes.”

Not All Gifts are Wrapped…

pinkie-fingerI spent time with a friend yesterday morning, we exchanged gifts, chatted, drank coffee, and laughed. Family members stopped by and as I watched the kids buzz around together, I realized that although the gifts were wonderful and thoughtfully planned, in that moment – just existing was the best part of the morning.  Laughing, a few tears, the huge Christmas tree in the corner, everything was beautiful but the beauty of being in that moment was just being there together.

It felt like home, sitting and talking with her.   And playing with her youngest; the most precious little guy…I am blessed to be his Godmother and when I think of the rest of her children there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them.

This amazing human being, I have known for awhile. Our kids played soccer together years ago and it was their unique bond that I was gifted with this new friend.  She isn’t the kind of friend who is going to come into my life at the time- it is convenient for her, no way! This is going to last for life! I will be in a walker with my dentures, my polyester pants and still will knock on her door and she on mine. She is the kind of human being that everyone should be so lucky in her presence.

I don’t know if everyone will understand this or admit to it but friendships at my age are hard to come by and it’s the people I choose and (they choose me) that is so important. Sometimes you just meet someone and it clicks and a precious seed is nurtured and a friendship begins to grow.  For me, friends are no longer about the quantity you have but rather the quality of the relationships you have together.  I have said it before but (the tribe) you create for yourself is a protective shell.  Sometimes you meet people and there is just a spark, neither parties understand it but there is this magnetic pull that keeps you coming back together.

It is a gift to know this woman.

 

 

Moments

Photograph by Nickelback

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I watch my kids whirl around me as if I’m in the center of a tornado, standing still. I watch them growing and circling me in an upward spiral going faster and faster and I simply cannot keep up.

I spend so much time not missing events: packing football pads, muddy cleats, backpacks that I can barely lift, now basketballs, building animal cells out of Styrofoam, “trying” to help with common core math, who needs new shoes, new math binders, conferences; there is so much “stuff” that kids need, use, and want but when it comes right down to it – the best thing I can give them is my love, my heart, teach them to be kind, polite, and well-mannered young men.  Beyond that, simply being with them in all their moments. My hope is that by loving them, it teaches them how to reciprocate love to others.

I realize now and can see clearly what was happening in my idea of a beautiful childhood.  I was loved and cared for in such a way, I was sheltered from the monsters under the bed. I couldn’t have asked for or been blessed with better parents, I love my siblings and I know whatever the status of our relationship is, in any day – everyone in my family would show up and I have NO doubt about that.  This gives me an incredible amount of courage and strength.

I am able to see life in a different way now.  A beautifully complicated mess of opportunities.  Living in the moments we have, today, tomorrow, and what happens in the next two hours or this evening.  We have choices to make and in those choices we choose to live in those moments or sit complacent and think about what they could’ve been like.   In my strongest and weakest moments, I strive to master perfection in these choices.  But this is where I have begun to see life and myself differently.  We all have these moments that can have an impact on our lives, that we will remember forever or maybe just an ember that blows from the campfire and disappears into the night. But I write to keep my moments, insignificant or not, alive.  I feel alive everyday through my moments and how I choose to use them!!

******

When the twins were born, I can remember Cole’s entire hand holding the tip of my pinkie and being too afraid to even touch Austin.  Their chests concave, literally skin and bones, and the ventilators helping them to breathe. I was terrified, so terrified if they would live of die in those moments.

In nearly a month my twins will be 13 and damn, I am so proud and have been blessed by God that these two miracles are in my life. And seriously, where the hell have the years gone??

This morning, the house was in shambles, Christmas lights reflecting in windows, I was doing laundry, writing checks for the next sport (basketball), lacing new shoes, feeding the dog, loading the dishwasher, and like every morning trying to get Cole out of the shower (he never fails to take every ounce of hot water) and my heart was full.  Yes, this happens mostly every morning sometimes the tasks change but the basic idea is always the same.

Life can change from day to day. What you choose to do with your day is up to you but somewhere remember there are people out there who in their current state cannot control what is happening. Everyone needs time to digest, make a plan, and decide what is best for them and their families.

Go after what you want, remember where you came from and who helped you get there, don’t look back because we cannot change the past, if you want something different – something you feel compelled to do or change from your history – change it now, if you need a kick in ass to get you moving, I am sure you know someone who is ready and willing! And maybe if something or someone catches you off guard in a moment and you let yourself be with whatever it is; you may learn more than you ever thought you could. It could possibly change your entire perspective on life.

It’s Been Awhile

0bbf3c536ed968a7be8fa69315951ec7It’s been awhile.  Harvest is always a terribly busy time.  Every year I tell myself, “I got this” and every year near the end of harvest, I am trying to keep my head just above water for me to breath and the statement “I thought, I had this” always comes rushing back.  After nine years, I still feel this. I write things down every year in my own secret “diary” so to speak, of ways I think I can prepare for the next year, what I could have done different this season, and I honestly have not perfected it yet.  I don’t know if I ever will but I wasn’t raised to be a quitter. There is always hope for next year and I have eight months give or take, to make a new plan.

Inevitably everyone can apply this feeling, this sense of drowning– in their lives, careers, next chapters, finances, and relationships, etc. At some point, I believe most adults have felt this way in their lives. But it is up to each of us to decide whether we will sink or float.  Sometimes it can be an agonizingly long process because the decisions need to be weighed equally, both sides need to be looked at and mentally calculated with precision and the time comes when we have to un-tie the cement blocks around our ankles and kick like hell to get our heads above water.

And as the tip of our nose, lips, chin, eyes open and we gasp for that first breath…that is the moment our decision has been made (take the leap, shit or get off the pot, or whatever reference works for you) is where instinctively, we know which decision we are going with…of course, there will be an adjustment period but moving forward with our gut feelings is what we all should pay a little more attention too.

Once we take that first step, we may be knee deep in the dark unchartered waters pulling those cement blocks forward again but our heads are above water.  We have chosen and in that choice we all begin to create a different and new sense of comfort.

There is an infinite amount of decisions and choices we can make in our lives, they will affect the people around us and that is always something to consider but in my last days I would hope that my decisions were unselfishly chosen, my family always felt love from me, that I never intentionally tried to hurt someone, and most of all, that I was proud of the way I lived.

Grandpa’s Orchard

Pick up your copy for the holidays @ Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com,

Desperado Boutique in Bend, OR., The Find, Monmouth, OR.

Grandpa’s Orchard: Based on a True Story of an Oregon Family Farm –June 21, 2016

by Darcy Thomas Kirk (Author)

Hardcover $20.00   –     Paperback $14.00  (Amazon.com)

Every year on the hazelnut farm, magic happens. It’s a place where stories, music, good food, family, and friends come together year round–but as summer comes to an end, things begin to change. On this working farm, the boys watch Dad and Grandpa do the tasks that need to be done as they head to the arbor to play, climb trees, and dream up new adventures.

The totes are stacked high on the farm, and the tractor and harvester are ready for Mother Nature’s sign. Even the young boys know that great care must be taken to keep the orchard floor clean and prepared for when the nights become cooler and the nuts begin to fall. Suddenly, harvest time begins and so too the flurry of activity on the farm!

Grandpa and Dad are hardworking farmers who have learned how to care for the land. They pass on respect of the hazelnut farm, the place they call home, to the next generation as youngsters watch and grow like the trees on their family farm. Someday, these little boys will be the adults, and then, it will be their turn to work hard and care for the Earth’s many treasures.

“A fun portrayal of a multi-generational farming family and farm life told from a youngster’s perspective. Grandpa’s passion for farming and desire to pass on the tradition is genuine and heartfelt.”

–TJ Hafner, third-generation family farmer, agronomist

 

How I Found Oregon Agriculture

 

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the secretary of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares this gift with all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!  But not for my dad and mom…what a beautiful moment!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for a few days. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here, family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son built an air conditioner and resurrected a 25-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how; and all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and he now has a working air conditioner and his very own working Weed-Wacker!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to anyone who asks.  Sometimes, I hear myself talking I have to smile because I in no way thought I would be this passionate and have the knowledge I do about farming and agriculture.  My sister often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students I taught learned, and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that “ahh, ha” moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to know where their food comes from.

When we look back at the decisions we have made in the past, it always seems that people claim their vision is 20/20 now, this isn’t always so for me. Working at Oregon AITC was more than a job.  It became my passion, my expertise, it gave me the access to teach students all over Oregon. Every day was inspiring in a classroom because I was inspiring students. I cannot put into words what it felt like when students had the “wow” and “ahh, ha” moments when I was teaching about agriculture.  If I had the opportunity to be involved with teaching students about Oregon Agriculture in the way I did for seven years, I would jump at the chance.

The “What Is” Scenario…

 

beautiful-red-umbrella-rain-wallpaper-desktop1Life is a funny thing, I constantly am re-writing my life – discovering new things every day and the people I surround myself with has a lot to do with these new discoveries? Life is ever changing and the fluidity of the life “just is,” there is always something happening, right?  To me, to you, to the next person you walk past.  And none of us truly know what any one person is going through whether it be a great new promotion at work or they have been told that they are losing their battle with cancer. There are so many “what if’s” and I need to work on letting go of the “what if’s” scenario and become focused on the “what is” scenario.

Life is constant…moving in and out, ebbs and flows, high tide and low tides, sorrow and great joy, and there is a lot of truth and a lot of lies, but if life wasn’t this way we would all be standing in quick sand letting our lives and experiences slowly disappear. My experiences shape who I am and why I believe in the things I do. However, there is a time and place an opportunity presents itself to me to help someone else with sharing my experience with them.  This is a very valuable trait….to open up and really get raw with someone else (let your soul become raw) when you feel the need, when you feel moved to do so and for me…it’s a very distinct feeling and I know it right away. Sure, I could breeze past these opportunities but down to my core, I WANT and DESIRE the need to help others.

I let myself overthink situations, things people say, and read into words I take completely wrong (that, I believe to be a common trait for a writer), this only speaks more to why I am pondering and starting to figure out to simply, let more shit go.

Don’t get me wrong, I am who I am and therefore parts of me will always just be as they are. Change is possible and you have to let yourself become aware of how you are truly feeling.  Be “raw” with yourself!

Some of the things I value about myself are: my desire to always be the best version of myself, the value of family is huge…my tribe (these are the ones I know I could run to no matter what trouble or situation and they would be next to me no matter what), I love hard and I love deeply, I am passionate, I believe the best in people unless they show me otherwise, I also believe in second chances, relationships MUST be nurtured or they can crack and break. There is give and take to everything, I NEED to be more courageous…. I do have hot buttons…. if you want to go there with me…game on! If you want to mess with family, my children, or be disrespectful…game on!!

 

 “Become aware that there are no

accidents in our intelligent universe.

Realize that everything that shows up

In your life has something to teach you.

Appreciate everyone and everything in your life.

                                                -W.D.

Writing and Photography

There are days when I struggle to put pen to paper or fingers to my laptop. I am drawn to be creative, to do something that will mean something to others.  I don’t need recognition at all.  Its that look people have/get when I am working on something whether it be a book or in my photographs. I feel truly inspired and blessed by both of these creative outputs.

My first love is writing but I am lucky enough to have two first loves.  Photography is my second. Last year around this time I left my job of seven years where I had spent those years using my cameras (I have four) whether it be a farmer in his crop, photos of the the way a certain crop is harvest, or portraits that my job required.  I am passionate about agriculture photography because it is so important to Oregon and my home is surrounded by at least 10 different crops.  We as farmers and individuals must take care of our soil and crops to feed the world.  I am passionate about that as our population continues to grow!

I have been taking photographs for almost 10 years.  I was given my first Nikon D90 by my dad for Christmas.  Every chance I had I would take his camera and start shooting so I guess it seemed fitting to get me a camera of my own.

Right away, I started taking photos.  I started with people, portraits, families, weddings, candid’s and natural landscapes.  Candid’s are so beautiful because if I can catch a glimpse into someone’s life without them knowing the moment I capture is full of hope and truth.

My dad and I started shooting weddings together about eight years ago.  It was an amazing experience-two things I loved all wrapped up in someone else’s day filled with love.  Although those days were long and we had some demanding couples and brides – I spent the entire day laughing with my dad and taking photos.  Those were some amazing days I will never forget.

I started to do more family, individual, anniversary, bridal showers, babies on my own time.  Call me stupid but I didn’t do it for the money (I rarely charged people), I did it for the love of photography.  I would have a lot more money if I would have changed more or at least half what most photographers charge.

I am so passionate about photography and on rare days my camera trumps my writing if I can’t find the words but taking off by foot or in my car with my camera always leads me back to my writing.  So, my passion for writing and photographs are deeply rooted and wrap around each other. Writing is my first love!

“Writing allows me to taste life twice.”

-Anais Nin

 

 

 

 

 

I

All You Need Is Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage…

Tackle football has now been added to the mix for my boys, along with 7th grade, and the amount of homework has tripled at least.

I pick my boys up every evening after practice. I have seen them for years play organized sports on many fields. The first day I saw them playing in full pads and helmets, I felt as if I was run over by a train that smashed through my chest.  I had a mom moment, if you are a mom you have had these moments.

All of a sudden my chest was heavy, I took a long deep breath in, and blinked rapidly to fight back the tears.  I wasn’t sad, upset, or frustrated—I was proud and wondered, how the hell did we get here?  WTF, they were just in diapers. And, will I be able to watch them get pummeled into the ground when someone else’s child is running full speed ahead toward either of them.

Okay, okay…I know my kids are not in the NFL but in my mind, that’s what I see…you know, the replays of the NFL tackles on game day where the feed is played in slow motion so every one can say, “damn, that was a hard hit”.  Their first game is next Wednesday and they are so excited…I am terrified! We will have to wait and see how that plays out…

I am told this is a rite of passage for kids…it kicks off their future years in sports that will carry them through until high school. I can already picture the excitement on their faces on game day.

I can still remember all of those days I had in school. I remember playing as a team and working together, what it felt like to when we won and also, when we lost.  Juggling homework, a job, and sports made me work even harder through school, it taught me how to balance my time and it forced me to be responsible to figure out what worked for me to keep all of it organized.

I know, my kids are no where near graduation day. However, each day that passes they get closer and I have to trust more that I have instilled in them what is right and what is wrong, to think about the decisions they make on a daily basis because that decision can have a positive or negative outcome (which they have to face either way). And well, for this momma I need to suck it up a bit and realize they will keep growing and nothing I do or say is going to stop that. No matter what happens next Wednesday on field, I will be one proud momma! But, every day between now and that day, I need to get my shit together because this will be the first of many games and I don’t want to be the crazy mom in the bleachers crying and cheering on the team!

 

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

                                                                                                            -Benjamin Mee

Early Readers…

Children read to learn – even when they are reading fantasy, nonsense, light verse, comics or the copy on the cereal box, they are expanding their minds all the time, enlarging their vocabulary, making discoveries – it is all new to them.

    – Jane Austen