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Our Green Acre Giveaway! And Awkward High School Stories & Pictures

12 Dec

ourgreenacregivaway

Giveaway is closed! Congrats to Jenn R., our winner! 

Misty was my first friend at my new school. For a girl like me who had spent the majority of her life moving from state to state every few years, making a friend at a new school on their first day of class was like a real life scene from Sweet Valley High minus the blonde skinny chicks on the cover.

We met in 8th grade PE class (Okay, not exactly high school, but close enough.) Is there anything more dreadful to a cordinationally-challenged klutz like me than standing there waiting to be picked for basketball on your fist day of school. I still get all splotchy on my neck thinking about it.

I was so bad at basketball! And in this small town school being bad at basketball meant that you were unpopular, or at the very least, not popular with the people who thought that being good at basketball mattered – which was like 85 percent of the school.

Misty, though, unlike me, was good enough at basketball for it not to strike fear in her bowels as she approached PE class – meaning should could catch the ball, dribble to the other side of the court and make a shot, without falling over herself.

I, on the other hand, came to fear the ball. If and when it was thrown at me (which was very, very rare) it was more likely to bounce off of my head (happened once, I promise, I am not lying) than actually land in my hands.

Our entire graduating class of 1995. All of us a pure and precious as the wind-driven snow.

The entire graduating class of 1995 – as pure and precious as the wind-driven snow.

I digress.

Misty had something else going for her beside her basketball chops that I did not – something which gave her major street cred at our rural high school. She was born and raised in the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains. Her family had settled the land six generations ago and her heritage in Newton County was (and still is) as long and deep and the very Buffalo river which runs through its foothills.

Misty and her daughter selling their awesome goodies at the Newton County Farmer's Market.

Misty and her daughter selling their goodies at the Newton County Farmer’s Market.

Today, Misty is an organic farmer and doer of all things good at Our Green Acre. And I do mean ALL THINGS (said in thunderous god-like voice). Her farm provides quality pasture raised organic large black hogs, beef, raw milk, chickens, honey, eggs, and produce.

Not only does she have a full on running organic farm that she handles entirely on her own, and the biggest pantry filled with the largest amount of home-made canned goods on the planet, she also makes soaps, and body scrubs, tinctures, essential oil potions –  you name it, she makes it.

And I’m not done yet, she also owns and runs Steel Creek Cabins – vacation cabins that her family built by the sweat of their own brow. You can see them here.

You want to know what the clincher of all clinchers is? She harvests her own beeswax from her own bees? Who does that?! I mean can that even be done?

Anyway, as you can tell, I think Misty is awesome and I want you to feel her awesomeness with me!

Because when another woman knocks it out of the park, we should all be proud! Way to represent! When I meet a woman who brings so much to the table, I’m full on doing a happy dance inside and I get inspired to let my little light shine too.

hot roll

white sox misty

You know what else is great about Misty besides her white socks? She’s generous! Meaning, she’s giving away some of her amazing products to share with you.

So here’s what is up for grabs in this giveaway (white socks not included):

Boo Boo Balm:  This healing salve is full of herb infused oil that promotes healing of chaffed skin, inflamed skin, cuts, scrapes, burns or just as an intense hand, elbow & feet treatment. Ingredients: raw local honey; olive oil infused with st. john’s wort, comfrey and calendula petals; organic beeswax; coconut oil; raw cocoa butter; organic shea butter; orange essential oil. 5oz jar of Boo Boo Balms sells for $12.

Chest rub: This chest rub is an all natural alternative to Vic’s Vapor Rub that works wonders.  Full of infused herbs (horehound, mullein, peppermint, thyme and calendula) and essential oils (wintergreen, rosemary and melaluca) this rub not only soothes, but helps heal chest congestion issues.   5oz jars of Chest Rub sells for $12.

Beer & Herbs Soap:  All natural and zero animal fats, these soaps are made from coconut, palm, olive & rape seed oil. Scented with essential oils (young living) and made with all natural ingredients, there’s no artificial anything! Because fragrance oils are not used, the soaps do not have a heavy or overwhelming smell. Soaps sell for $5.

Lip balm: With ingredients like organic cocoa butter, organic beeswax, coconut oil and essential oils you can’t go wrong. Protective for the wind & cold, and luxurious during warm weather too, this lip balm is amazing.  Each tube is hand filled, labeled and shrink-wrapped by Misty in her home.  Tubes are made from 35% recycled material.  Lip balm sells for $3.

Here's what you can win!

Here’s what you can win!

One lucky person gets all of this and it could be you! Here’s how to win: 
(I’m a little old-fashioned with giveaways so it’s all about “earning comments” which will increase your chance to win. I will tally up the comments and use a number generator to select a winner.) Here’s how to earn your comments:

First:

Comment on this blog post, (if you tell me your worst PE story I’ll love you forever), that counts as one entry.

Second:

Friend request Our Green Acres and you earn an additional comment on this post.

Third:

Share this post on your Facebook page and you’ll earn another entry.

So, that gives you three possible entries.

The giveaway winner will be chosen, contacted through email, and announced on my Facebook page, Tuesday morning, December 17th.

Discount Code for those who can’t be bothered with a giveaway:
Misty also sells amazing sugar scrubs, lotion bars and more soaps than you can imagine. So if you want some awesome stocking stuffers for the naturally minded friend you love, or for yourself, and giveaways annoy you, then just go straight for the gold, and get you some right now, here’s the link: ourgreenacre. When you place your order include “GIVEAWAY10%” to get your ten percent discount from Our Green Acres. Email your orders to Misty at: misty@ourgreenacre.com.  

Good luck!

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Writer’s Block & What The Newtown Tragedy Taught Me About Love

25 Jan

Claude Monet Weeping Willow

Writer’s Block

Type, type, type. Delete, delete, delete. Over and again. Rinse and Repeat. Writer’s block (or rather, idealism) has brought some long silence on this blog. I’m sorry about that silence – well, mostly.

I have a running list of everything I want to write about. These topics deserve to be written about, they need to be honored with that quiet meditation that occurs when we pour out our words, when those thoughts come spilling all out of us like a cup of milk turned over by clumsy hands onto a clean table-cloth – slowly bleeding into the crisp linen.

That’s how I want writing to feel to me, but instead …

She feels like a weeping willow billowing in the wind, back and forth, and back and forth, sad and constant. The leaves ever so gently trace up against my window calling me to come and sit under her branches. And I cannot, because the effort it takes to leave the safety of my home is too much for me.

What will happen when I really listen and when I really share? I’m scared to write out the lessons that I hear my heart speaking to me for in doing so I become responsible to them. And so the weeping willow surrenders to the wind, and I am inside keeping my hands busy and my mind occupied.

I’m too tightly coiled up to let go and write.

When you fly with your guitar it’s a good idea to loosen the strings before getting on the plane. The changes in temperature can cause the wood to flex and if the strings are wound too tight and the air is too cold, the neck can break (from the stress of the coiled strings). Lately, I feel like that guitar at a high, cold altitude, and I need to uncoil my strings.

So here goes:

Newtown Tragedy

I spent a week in utter shock over the Newtown shooting. Finally, one night (after a few days of being immersed in the media of it all) I stayed up till one in the morning sobbing with a fisted and clenched ache in my gut and the taste of rust in my bruised mouth. Peter sat and listened to me describe my anger, my shock, my horror, my anger, and then my anger again.

I described to him one teacher’s story of how she hid in the closet, and gathered all those tiny children to her and told them she loved them, because if they were all going to die so violently she wanted the last thing for those babies to remember was that they were loved. O.MY.GOD.

What a moment of desperate grief I felt when I imagined myself in her shoes, when I imagined my own child(ren) in that closet with her and … then finally I came tumbling off the edge of my anger and allowed grief to come up and out – like a fountain of sadness. After that, somehow a small token of peace came to me.

This heroic woman, facing unfathomable fear, understood the power of love. Scripture speaks of a perfect love which is so encompassing, so ravishing that it quenches every ounce of fear around it – consuming fear with a tidal wave of love.

In that moment of facing unmeasurable fear, that Newtown teacher choose unmeasurable love of even greater proportions. In a moment of suffocating fear, she knew the answer was love, love, love … and she gave that tender love to those children, to our children, and even to me.

Choose Love

I want to choose love instead of fear. I want to do this.

I know I have been choosing fear, but I want to choose love. Love is hard to give and even harder to find, and it seems like fear is so accessible and easy to live in. But this year, as I stand on the horizon of 2013, I hope I have the strength of heart choose love. To choose optimism. To choose gratitude.

To find the quiet, unwavering voice of love even in the lion’s roar of fear.

I know I need to stop what I’m doing and sit for a while under the weeping willow. I know I need to lean my head back and rest it against the strength of that tree and close my eyes and listen to the wind move slowly between her leaves.

I may need to weep, and then weep some more, but then at the end of the weeping, when the tears have washed my soul, perhaps I will see a little more clearly that in the end there is love – and it is enough.

So be it.

Quiet the heart, stop wringing the hands, stand still and see – there is love. And I will choose it. (and even write about it)

I Didn’t Have A Voice

11 Nov

This is a reflective piece that I wrote on August 7th, 2012, my 35th birthday. I’m finally feeling ready to share it.

There was a time during my early to mid 20s that I suffered with a recurring dream. In the dream I was chewing an oversized piece of gum. The wad of gum was so large and bulky I could barely chew it; it filled my mouth to the point that it prevented me from speaking. The gum was so painfully crammed in that I couldn’t even open my mouth wide enough to spit it out. I remember waking from those dreams with a sense of regret and remorse. What was a I doing with a piece of gum that large in my mouth and more importantly why didn’t I just simply reach in and take it out of my mouth?
….

I know a woman who recently for her 50-something birthday got the Hebrew word “voice” tattooed on the inside of her wrist, because she told me, as she held her arm up in the air showing me the dark inked-in word on her skin, “I didn’t have a voice when I was young, but I have one now.” I was left with chills. What a powerful statement.

Perhaps that’s what 35 is giving me, a voice. Perhaps, after living life a little more the lessons I’ve learned from being worn down and broken in by love have brought me the bravery I’ve needed to reach up and take that oversized piece of gum out of my mouth and really speak my heart.

(Cue Alanis song here…okay not really, but I just thought I would make the comparison before you did.)

Thank you life. Thank you age. Thank you struggles and heartbreak and victory. Thank you faith and floundering. Thank you disbelief and questioning. Thank you cynicism and hope. Thank you messed up emotions. Thank you burned down bridges. Thank you friends who held me to it. Thank you marriage. Thank you motherhood. Thank you brazenness. Thank you strength to choose gratitude. Thank you persistent spirit of love. Thank you forgiveness. Thank you anger. Thank you healing. Thank you mistakes and lessons. Thank you experience. Thank you unpaved roads. Thank you music and song. Thank you childbirth and rebirth. Thank you compassion. Thank you earth and sun and sky. Thank you voice that hovered over the waters of my soul and said let there be life.

May 35 bring life and more life. May I live abundantly with hope and perseverance, may I reach up and place my hand on the harp that I hung on the Willow. May 35 be a year of getting my groove back on.

May my voice speak with love, gratitude and wisdom. Thank you 35 for giving me a voice. I hope to use it.

A Painful Childhood Memory Casts Light on My Quest As a Mother

6 Sep

Do you remember the first time you felt less than perfect? I remember it well. It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade. The apartment complex where we lived had a pool and I was there splashing around in the cool water on that blazing hot day in Oklahoma.

Another two girls were there enjoying the pool, as well. I had seen them here and there at the apartment’s playground. However these girls never spoke to me. They were tied together at the hips and seemed only interested in boys and each other. They both reeked of lofty pre-teen coolness. Their confidence matched their long, lean, and tanned frames.

I had no idea what it really meant to be jealous. All I knew was that they were not like me and that’s what made them so fascinating. They looked like sisters with their honey blond hair, green eyes, and matching black, yellow and pink suits with holes cut out in the middle showing off their flat bellies. (Nod if you remember those hideous suits from the 80s.)

I was standing on the edge of the pool, plugging my nose with my fingers, trying to work up the nerve to jump in the deep end. They were there jumping in and out like Greek Olympians. At one point they were playing just a few feet away from me. I couldn’t help it, I was blatantly and wistfully staring at them.

They ran over to their mothers, who were larger more developed cut-outs of the girls. Both moms were smeared in baby oil, reading cheap drug store novels, drinking soda and adjusting their tiny, string bikinis to avoid tan lines. How strange to have mothers who wore bikinis and read paperback books with bare-chested men pictured on the covers, I thought to myself.

I wasn’t allowed to wear a bikini and my mother would certainly never wear one, either. My mother, after all, wore long denim skirts, read the Bible and played guitar. This other version of a ‘mother’ was confusing to my 10-year-old brain.

That was the first moment I felt it – the painful awareness of being less than perfect. In a flash it washed over me, and my fascination with these girls turned into my own self-loathing.

Just then the young girls seemed to notice me staring at them. One nudged the other and walked over to me. She scrunched up her nose, puffed her stomach full of air until it rounded out just like mine. Then she lowered her chin to her chest, bowed her legs and mockingly plugged her nose. The other girl pointed her finger in my direction and through her laughter said, “Now you look just like her.” Her friend responded with, “I just need an ugly swim suit!” Squeals of laughter ensued at my expense.

That was the first moment I felt it – the painful awareness of being less than perfect. In a flash it washed over me, and my fascination with these girls turned into my own self-loathing. I looked down at my stomach, pooching out like a little melon underneath my light pink, butterfly printed suit. My short white legs were framed at the hips with the pink ruffles that were sown into the lower half of the suit.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to immediately go home and throw my suit away. This bathing suit was meant for babies. Why can’t my stomach be flat? Why can’t I get tan and tall? Why can’t I swim without plugging my nose? I held back the tears and felt humiliation creeping up through my stiffened body. I walked over to the other side of the pool and never looked their way again.

As an adult standing back surveying this childhood memory, I can see the painful value of that particular experience. I now understand the dynamics of what occurred on that summer day in Tulsa by the pool. However, as a child experiencing that moment, all I felt was inadequate and desperately hurt.

In reflection, I understand those girls were not children, not in the way that I was. My body, unlike theirs, still reflected that I was a child –  with its distended belly, chubby thighs, and flat chest. Unlike these girls, I hadn’t started puberty and I wouldn’t for at least another few years. I had no idea what puberty even was.

Today, as a mother of a daughter, I look back at that memory and ask what it can teach me. What sits inside those recollections that will help me empower my own daughter with the tools she needs to thrive as a young girl?

Today, as a mother of a daughter, I look back at that memory and ask what it can teach me. What sits inside those recollections that will help me empower my own daughter with the tools she needs to thrive as a young girl? What can I teach her to prevent the power of negative objectification from shaping her emotions about herself? What can I teach my daughter to prevent her from mistreating others who look differently than her. (I remind myself not to cling too tightly to my own childhood memories. I don’t want to project my experiences of being the underdog on to my daughter.)

I have another memory that also shapes me. Several of us high school girls were getting dressed in the locker room after gym. Beth was standing near the mirror, enjoying her reflection. With a sweet smile on her face, she said out loud to all of us, “I love how I look! I’ve always been happy with myself. I don’t know why, but I dont’ really struggle with being insecure.”

I practically had to pick up my jaw from the floor. Who says that out loud? What would give her the right to say such a thing? How cocky! How annoying. I literally rolled my eyes to the back of my head when she said that. Of course, she felt that way, I thought to myself. Look at her, she’s gorgeous! If I were that pretty, I would probably feel that way too. For some reason, I still felt like that ten-year-old at the pool with the round belly and chubby thighs. How would I ever break out of that insecurity?

Personally, it took time. It took claiming my body as my own through my long fitness/health journey that began 8 years ago. It takes practice, it takes training my mind in the same way that one trains their body. I will not give space to dark thoughts of myself. This is not who I am. I am loved, I am cherished. I am valuable just as I am.

Today, I see Beth’s statement differently. What a victory to be in that stage of life and feel so loving towards yourself! What can I do so that I can encourage my daughter to love herself and be confident in her own skin?

In light of these questions I’m reading a book called 101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body, by Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr. I’m really enjoying this book. Not only is it insightful for me in my own quest to love my body, but there’s a lot of great tips in there that I hope to put into practice for Zoe.

Put a Nice Mirror in Your Daughter’s Room

One simple tip is to buy your daughter, at the appropriate age, a nice full-length mirror. Put the mirror in her room, and make sure that the lighting is gentle and soft. (Who doesn’t love a well-lit mirror! Imagine the lighting in a high-end dressing room!) This will allow her the space to explore her new, changing body in the privacy of her own room, and it will also give her the chance to see her outfits in the morning before school under a more flattering perspective.(Rather than a hard to see bathroom mirror that’s usually under harsh lighting.)

Send Your Daughter to School With a Blush Bag

Another tip Richardson and Rehr offer is to send your daughter to school with a “blush bag.” This bag is a small, cute pouch filled with emergency items that your daughter can keep in her locker that could save the day. In it you might place pads or tampons, travel size deodorant, a tube of concealer, a small bottle of gel or hair spray, a comb, q-tips, safety pins, breath mints, needle and thread, spot remover, and a roll of quarters. (I’m sure the idea here is to adapt the blush bag to fit your child’s needs.) I like those suggestions. I think I would have loved a sweet little bag like that for my locker.

Some of the Chapters in the Book Focus on the Following Topics:

  • Give her permission to love her body.
  • Model a healthy body image.
  • Don’t make aging sound like a curse.
  • Come to terms with any envy you may feel about other women’s bodies.
  • Understand where your body ends and hers begins.
  • Strengthen her against the power of advertising.
  • Take time to learn and teach on early puberty.

This book has certainly got me thinking. It’s never too young to consider how to approach this with our children. (Boys need to learn how to value themselves as well. Another book I’m reading is Raising Cain, Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.) What practices have you adpopted to help your children learn to love their bodies?

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