Tuesday, August 18, 2020

July/August Home and Harvest Article

Hi all, in case you missed the sell out version of the July/August 2020 edition of Home and Harvest Magazine, here is my article:


Greetings Friends. As I write the July/August issue in mid-June, the world is in a bit of chaos and I’ve chosen to turn down the noise of the media and take a breather. Instead of watching the news, I sit outside sipping coffee in the early morning soaking up nature’s quiet soothing sounds.

I find by greeting the day with a prayer and a desire to make my little world a better place to live in any way that is within my power helps set the tone of my day.  As a new normal emerges and we are doing things we have never done before, our routine is different and sometimes life can feel very surreal. For me, more than ever, the fragility of life is in the forefront of my daily thoughts and actions. The day after I had submitted my article for the May/June on-line edition, my beloved sis-in-law, Denise passed away suddenly after a battle with cancer.  And it was another layer of grappling with a different look to life for my brother and the rest of our family.  If you knew Denise, her life was filled with helping others, both professionally and personally, she had a beautiful heart & soul. And I dedicate this article to Nini, as we called her. A life well lived – of: Joy. Perspectives. Volunteerism. Taking chances.

I remember one day when I was a kid, that it seemed so weird to wake up in your bedroom (we lived in a mobile home)  where the surroundings looked the same but looking outside, it was another new view.  We had moved yet again and my world didn’t look the same as it did the day before.  Kind of like now, don’t you think?   And then that optimistic kick-start of looking for the silver lining gets a hold in my mind and off I go. As a child, I’d go off to explore my new surroundings and get familiar with my new normal in a different town.  Three years ago, I moved from Genesee to Moscow and did the same thing, I explored my new area, got familiar with the landscape and neighbors and settled in to enjoy my new normal in a different town. And I feel like I’ve settled in quite nicely, it’s home. This vintage beauty of a farm house that overlooks fields and mountains fills this gal’s need for space, quiet, and a place to get dirt under your fingernails. I found my little piece of heaven, then along came my Mr. Right (Rod) who shares my love of simple rural living, family and embracing the beauty of life.  Currently we are “combining junk drawers “and he is in the process of moving to Moscow where he will join me full time.  We each have adult children who are happy that we have each other to get into mischief and most likely keeps us out of their hair.  lol  Plus we have a blended dog family who can be seen romping around the fields and or terrorizing the squirrels.  Rod also inherited my grand-angels and adores the kiddos.  And on one special week-end camping trip in June, the kiddos officially made him their “inherited grandpa”, of which they now refer to him as “Pops”.  This new status came complete with a certificate and a list of grandparent rules (i.e. always be fun, laugh at their jokes, they will laugh at his bad jokes, take them for ice cream, etc).     ~ Joy~ 

Today as I write this article, I’m perched on a hillside in sturdy Adirondack chairs (best yard-sale finds ever!)  Rod had decided a week prior that we needed a place to take in a new view.  What was amazing to me, was that I long as I had lived here, that I had never stopped to take in the sight from a top of my hillside. It took someone else’s vision to make a change and see life from a new vantage point.  It’s now  become our fav place to sit and admire a familiar, yet different view where coffee and sunrises or wine and sunsets are perfectly paired and savored.  And it hit home that in life, sometimes when I look at a situation, that changing the view of looking at things a certain way leads to a better mindset. ~Perspectives~

Sitting here watching the world come alive, I think back to a time in my life when I was a young parent living in Genesee and how a school meeting took me down a new pathway that firmly inserted me into the community.  I remember the school superintendent hosting a meeting at the beginning of the school year and asked those present to help the school get new playground equipment.  That idea kept rolling around in my brain and after I started pestering the school administrators about wanting to start the project, they held the first meeting and suggested I take the lead.  It was a win-win for them, they would get me out of their hair and hopefully get a new playground.   I had never chaired anything in my life before, but I said I’d do it even though I had absolutely no leadership skills or experience with fundraising.  Being young, na├»ve and goal driven, the 10 or so members of the dedicated group all had an end result of a new playground in our mind’s eye.   We called ourselves “The Playground Committee” as this was before there was a formal PTA was formed at our school.  We rolled up our sleeves and formed a game plan.  This was back in the 1990’s and we needed to raise $15,000 to buy the structure, gave ourselves 5 months to raise the money and 3 months to redo the playground.  This group which was made up of dedicated parents along with a first-grade teacher trusted me and my crazy ideas of how to fundraise.  Our moneymakers were a tacky prom (imagine the gaudiest outfits …. Ever!), a plant sale, a community dinner theater, a massive garage sale and the local farmer’s co-op donated pea seeds wherein the grade school kids decorated seed packets to sell. It was non-stop projects. The work was endless, as we all had day jobs, family, community/church obligations – yet we were all committed. The inside joke in our group was that property values next to my house were going down because no one wanted to live next to me, as I was known for giving anyone I saw the “opportunity to help our cause”.  Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but… ok maybe it was.  Regardless, in the end, we reached our financial goal, ordered the equipment and we worked every week-end assembling the equipment to transform the tired and dangerous playground into a safe and fun place for the kiddos.  The day before school started an SOS went out as we still needed sod.  The beauty of living in a farm community was that a local farmer donated his blue grass sod out of his field and multiple people showed up to help and together we laid sod under the headlights of all the trucks to finish the project the night before school started.  Sweet, but exhausting success.  A few weeks later, the superintendent held a ceremony to honor us and it was then we learned that we had accomplished something that two other times this had been attempted but failed. As I looked at this amazing group of parents and community members who banded together for a common cause, worked countless hours, sought outside help for technical skills beyond our skillset, and I understood the love for our kids, school and community.  To me, that message was powerful, step up when you saw a need to fix something and together people can make it better and succeed.  ~Volunteerism~

~Taking Chances~

As defined in the dictionary: To seize and make the most of opportunities as they present themselves.

If you think about it, this is something we do every single day and opportunities present themselves in all sorts of forms such as people, ideas, events and so on.  It permeates our daily life.  If I want to be creative and try a new recipe, I’m hoping it’s a keeper and doesn’t end up in the garbage as a failed experiment (yup… then you order pizza!).  Or it can be in the form of seeing a new way of doing things and taking the initiative to pitching an idea to my chairman.   Whether it be a new recipe, a new relationship, a new project, or a change of location or job, it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone into new territory. It’s about seizing those ordinary moments and seeing them in a different light and acting on it. Being an agent of change.  And there is courage in being vulnerable and taking the risk. If you succeed, so much the better, if you didn’t, then it should be viewed as an effort well tried.

And my hope is that if I am open about my life and maybe connect with you from the stories I tell from my own perfectly imperfect life, that maybe you will not feel alone or overwhelmed.  That maybe you will feel inspired to take that chance and go for the gusto which hopefully includes, finding joy, changing your perspective and make your world a little bit better through volunteerism.  For me my greatest fear is reaching the end of my life and having that regret for not taking that risk or showing up for my life in a way that matters. And that my friend, is the catalyst for keeping me moving forward following my moral compass in life and seeking a life well lived as best I can. Plus, I sincerely feel together we can be a beautiful agent of change wherein we show up for each other and our community. All my best, Gayle   Swheatfarmlife.net


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