My son, the wise one.

Lotus-FlowerYesterday while visiting with my son, Isaac, seemingly out of the blue he stated, “You’ve lost your center”.  It surprised me because I knew how I felt but didn’t realize it was so visible to others. He asked if I knew why.  And, in a way I do know why. But, I gave the standard answer “I’ve just got a lot going on”. Which is truthful but isn’t accurate.

Even as I responded he was smiling.  “It isn’t important what knocked you off your center; what’s important is getting back to it.”

Before going any further, let me clarify that when I write “my center” I’m referring to that happy, calm, content, amazing feeling you get when you are where you are supposed to be in your head, when your way of thinking is conducive to living a pleasing life.

Finding that calm isn’t always so easy.  Over the past handful of years I can remember only a few periods of time that I captured it and actually held onto it for a substantial period of time.  My son and I discussed this as well.  And he then asked me the guiding questions I’ve always directed at him and his sister, “What did you do to get there?”  The question was followed by a gentle nudge.  “Do those things again. You’ve stopped doing them; your head is in the wrong place,” he reminded me.

We all know this:  Unless you are a Buddhist monk living apart from the world, you’ve got to be able to accept that you’re going to lose focus in the day-to-day -especially if you are surrounded by others.  But what if it is also that you’re spending the majority of your time alone?  And I realized as we sat and talked that although I work hard at maintaining that sense of peace while I am working throughout my teaching year, I am not giving it the attention it needs when I am off.  I had mistakenly thought that it required no work, because after all, I am alone.  And shouldn’t it just come naturally then?

I’ve this thing I do called Day One. I use it any time I need to work on some personal goal. When I understand there is something within myself that I need to work on, I contemplate what changes need to be made. Then I make a list that includes what I’m doing wrong and what I can do to improve. Once I’ve identified my weaknesses and outlined my plan, I begin working toward it. That is Day One.  The first year I did this was when I learned to be kind to myself. I kept beating myself up every time I found myself sliding backward or just not making any gains at all. That’s when I created the “you can have as many Day Ones as you need without feeling guilty” rule.

So, I sit here making my list of the things I’m usually doing when I’ve captured my calm. They are so simple that one would think they are unimportant. Funny thing is that once I’ve gained that feeling of bliss, I start dropping these little things. We all do. We begin actively seeking out what we need to better our lives and then when life levels out, we feel better and jump back into the same hectic, full-speed-ahead lifestyle and Leave Those Things Behind.

Things I Will Do Today (or How I will Begin My Days)–based on the guiding question posed by my son, “What did you do to get there?”

  • Go for a long walk. And try not to daydream or make lists of what I will do when I am through walking. Being present and looking about; noticing nature.
  • Come home and be still for a little while before jumping into a home improvement project. Read a book for spiritual growth for thirty minutes and then something that is just for pleasure thirty minutes.
  • Eat a meal while doing nothing else.
  • Write something, anything. Just journal –but not notes on the phone it is cheating.
  • Give thanks for all I’ve been blessed with. You know –pray.
  • Eat a Snickers.

 

So…

Today

Is

Day

One

 

Wish me luck!

 

 

****

 

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethmcgrady

Join me and other Birmingham Bloggers! http://www.bhambloggers.com/

b hap bloggers pic

hOneY, you know I have a thing for you!

photo of bees and flowers to use                Why else would I leave 130 wild, eleven/twelve year old students and head for the hills of Eastaboga, Alabama?

That’s not exactly true.  I am drawn to the countryside like a bee to…  😉   The entire day, I thought of little else.  My father, the herbalist in the family has long lauded its praise.  He insists that local honey is best for all that ails you.

Even if it wasn’t healthy, what’s not to love?!

I met up with Justin Hill of Eastaboga Bee Company this afternoon after having missed him at Oxford’s fall festival & then again at the Anniston Farmer’s Market.  I first learned of his business on Twitter and was shocked to find there was a bee company so close to home.  When I called, a young man with the most beautiful Southern drawl answered the phone and graciously offered to show me his farm.

“If you get here early, I’ll let you help me feed the cows,” he promised.

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I turned off Mudd Street and traveled down a long dirt road, wondering if perhaps I was in the wrong place.  I parked out front, knocked at the door and paused before going back to wait at the car.  Brilliant Alabama sun shone down.  Even in October it can be stifling here in the South.  Surrounding fields, acre upon acre of pastureland, rolled like waves, steadily climbing and steepening behind the home place.  In the distance, I could just make out a white super; the air around it shimmered with movement.  I stood and filled my eyes –Alabama is such a beautiful place!  The tension created from being indoors all day began to slip away.

 pic field 2

I’d just begun to wonder if I’d been forgotten when I heard the far off sound of a motor.  Puffs of smoke rose across the pasture.  It was Justin driving a Polaris 570 Ranger.  He pulled up, drawled, “Climb in” and gladly, I did as I was told.  We quickly introduced ourselves, exchanged pleasantries, then rode, talked of bees … and fed the cows!  I shared my spot with Jake, Justin’s dog. (He reminded me so much of my childhood bird dog, Lemon, that I wanted to take him home!) Jake looked at him, obviously puzzled by the change in their daily feeding schedule.  Justin, a 4th generation farmer, works his family’s 300 acre cattle farm.

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Justin pulled over to show me a hardwood where he had captured a swarm the previous season.  I told Justin that before meeting, I searched the internet for current information on honeybees, apiary regulations and current statistics on Colony Collapse Disorder.  I had no idea that every hive had to be registered, or that beekeepers were required to submit a map marking all of their hives.  Justin patiently explained the ins and outs of his business and corrected several misconceptions I had about beekeeping.


use white boxes
pulling the framebee super

He pulled us closer to a nearby group of supers.  The bees carried on with their work, unfazed by the sound of the engine.  He explained that the black bees I helped rob in my younger years were not English bees, but rather Italian bees.  These were obviously much calmer.  I asked about the various colors of honey and he described being able to taste the difference in them based on the bees’ food source or when the honey was robbed from the hive.  We discussed at length the necessity of feeding new or struggling hives.  I discovered he currently tends over eighty supers!  In 2013 and 2014, Justin was chosen for the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Bee & Honey Division at the Young Farmers Leadership Conference.

justin photo

 

Before leaving, Justin invited me in to sample his new Honey Mustard and loaded me up with a handful of products available from the company’s website: Honey Hand Sanitizer, emollient hand & body lotions containing beeswax and shea butter, soaps, a honey infused lip balm and a leather conditioner comprised of both lanolin and beeswax.IMG_7881-Body_Butter-Eastaboga-1024x680

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In the coming season, the company is also scheduled to come out with a Honey Vinegar Sauce/Marinade… and Mead!  Justin’s degree in marketing from JSU is obviously coming in handy.  However, his ingenuity and a hard work ethic are just something he was born with!

If, like me, you are into honey and all its health benefits you must visit Eastaboga Bee Company’s website and check out the honey & the products: http://www.eastabogabeecompany.com

You can also find Justin on Twitter @EastabogaBeeCompany

Now, about that GREAT LOGO. The following excerpt is taken from Justin’s website.  He said he didn’t mind me sharing it at all!

bee

“The Tree & The Tractor”

How Heritage Became The Symbol Of Unwavering Quality….

What does an antique Oliver Tractor, with a tree growing through the middle of it, have in common with a bee company?

Justin Hill, Founder of the Eastaboga Bee Company, says it’s the opening chapter to the story of his family history.

“The love of farming in my family comes from generations back,” says Hill. “That Oliver Tractor with the tree growing out of it is the foremost symbol of my Great Grandfather, Elvin Hill. It marks the beginning of my family’s history of farming in Alabama.”

As the story goes, Elvin Hill farmed the lands across East Central Alabama in the late 1800s. After a long hard day of working the fields, Elvin parked his Oliver Tractor and returned home for dinner.  Before the meal could be served, Elvin Hill suffered a fatal heart attack.

The grieving Hill family left that Oliver Tractor in the spot where Elvin had parked it. It served as a monument of sorts, which represents the last life act of a great man and the leader of the Hill family.  As the months past, a small tree began to sprout from underneath. Through the years, the tree continued to grow, committing the Oliver Tractor to the very ground it was parked on.

 blue bees

Notes:

While colony loss has been noted and investigated for decades, the rise in numbers during 2006, 2007 (some beekeepers reported a loss of up to 80% of their colonies) created great concern for both apiculturists and agriculturalists.  It was then that the term Colony Collapse Disorder was coined.

Due to the large drop in U.S. hives from mites, disease, harsh weather, insecticides, etc. many farmers now “rent” honeybees for pollination. Thus, migratory beekeeping has become crucial to U.S. agriculture.  Many beekeepers earn more money from renting bees for pollination than for the production of honey.  The business is both necessary and lucrative. However, researchers are currently investigating migratory beekeeping’s effect on spreading viruses and mites.

*****

Elizabeth Mozley McGrady

We Share The Same Sky, a memoir  https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethmcgrady

Wanderlust ~a strong desire or impulse to wander, travel, explore the world…

“Not all those who wander are lost.” 
J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

I am equally envious and excited when I hear people taking off on adventures I have also yearned for.  Example -for years I’ve longed to hike the Appalachian Trail.  The AT runs from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine; is roughly 2,200 miles long and passes through 14 states.

Travis (my husband) and I have watched every documentary we can find on the subject.  And each time we do, we sit for hours afterward trying to plot out the HOW.  And, how is a huge thing!  It takes 6 months to hike the trail from end to end.  Six months –time away from family, jobs and paying the bills each month.  It also costs about 4 thousand dollars to finance the hike.  Finding a solution doesn’t seem possible.  Perhaps it is something we will postpone until retirement –like icing on the cake!

The fever hit again this morning when I came across an article on Yahoo Travel.  It is a great piece written by Julie Fast about the tragic loss of a friend and her quest along the Appalachian Trail.  The Amazing People I Met While Hiking the Appalachian Trail Changed My Life. Julie Fast‎. Oct‎ ‎06‎, ‎2014

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Finding peace in nature helped me to heal. (Photo: Julie Fast)

 

However, as much as I long to hike the AT, my favorite film/documentary about just getting out and experiencing the world remains 180° SOUTH!

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THE TRAILER http://www.180south.com/trailer.html

The film documents Jeff Johnson’s 2007 adventurous trek from California to Patagonia, a trip based on the earlier expedition of environmentalist Yvon Chouinard and his friend Doug Tomkins (founder of The North Face), taken in 1968.  Johnson’s expedition is meshed with footage from the first one.  A third component of the film is the inclusion of existing environmental issues discussed by Chouinard and Tomkins (almost 70 now) who continue to live their dream and relish a personal relationship with nature.  Doug and his wife Kris own and live on a 2.2 million acre reserve in both Chile and Argentina where they concentrate on a “defense of nature”. http://www.conservacionpatagonica.org

The film is indescribably good.  Appealing to both my love of the ocean and the mountains, it makes my heart yearn.  When I’ve had a really bad day I listen to the soundtrack in my car.  I’ve watched the documentary so many times that the association the music provides makes me happy within minutes.  In my mind’s eye, I can see Rapa Nui!

I know exactly what I’m watching when I get home tonight –right after I make a huge cold cut sandwich~

 

Wise beyond her years~

Quote

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.  Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see the people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”   Anne Frank

 

 grand tetons

 Photo: Copyright © Hanz en Henriette Meulenbroeks:   Outdek Amerika Nl 

The smallest change in schedule can be delightful~

4:50 a.m.

night-sky

Instead of my morning walk, I am up early to water the plants.  It is beyond dry and I’ve no intention of letting the trees and plants I’ve babied for six years go without a fight.

The stars are out and it is a brilliantly clear sky.  The wind has a chill to it and my heavy hunting jacket is necessary.  Its deep pockets give me a place to put my phone so I can keep up with the time; otherwise I’ll get into what I’m doing, begin to daydream and be out here all morning.  I have to be at work before the students begin to arrive at 7:20.

Sweet Alabama!  Today it is supposed to be in the low 80’s and that is a glorious thing.  The past few months have been unbearably hot.  Dead grass crunches beneath my work boots; it is an unpleasant sound.  Lowering my head, I put in a small request for a long, soaking rain.

There is something so calm and peaceful about being outside in the early morning when everyone else is still sleeping.  Well, actually many are not.

One day last week when my husband, Travis, and I could not sleep we got up at 2 a.m., started a pot of coffee and went for a long walk.  We were surprised at how many lights were on.  I could actually smell breakfast coming from the open windows of some.  But, the quiet, the black sky and brilliant stars with the wind gently blowing was both invigorating and calming.  We returned home, settled on the couch with coffee and books, read and chatted until it was time to ready for work.  It was as if I got an extra weekend morning in on a weekday.  The simple change in my schedule, the positive way we had begun the morning carried over into the day.

One little change…

 

WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir

small-photo-of-book-we-share-same-sky

 

https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethmcgrady

Night Sky Photo: http://www.rarewallpapers.cm

WORRY, EXPECTATIONS, CONTROL – OH, MY!

You wouldn’t carry around and nurture a rotten egg.

Yes, it is a silly thought, but it reminds me how foolish it is to worry, when worry accomplishes nothing.

For the most part I am a really happy person and I tend to wake up that way almost every day.  But, there are days that once I get going, I begin to WORRY.  And, there are other times when the blues strike for no apparent reason –not a sadness mind you, but rather a deep funk.  Thank goodness these are getting fewer and further between.

They say that women have a greater propensity for worrying than men, that we tend to over analyze things.  It’s something that once it hits, I have to get a hold on quickly.  I have learned to turn to two books: Change Your Thoughts –Change Your Life, Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Peace a Day at a Time, 365 Meditations for Wisdom and Serenity by Karen Casey.

books

Although, I am a Christian, I appreciate Buddhism’s lessons on kindness, generosity and self-love.  So picking up Dyer’s book and delving into it was a given.  It is an easy read, but if you read the lessons twice you gain a deeper meaning.  The other book, Karen Casey’s, I picked up without realizing that it is a book for AA.  I simply picked it up in the bookstore when the title caught my eye, flipped to a page, read it and was hooked!  Its lessons are so short and simple that it is hard to fathom the effect they have on your thinking.  Bookmarks now fill each and I’ve underlined and written in all the margins my thoughts and feelings, little phrases that sing to me.  Both books are filled with Biblical scripture as well; and like faith, neither are one dimensional.

If I am honest, my worrying has another component that I don’t like.  I call it the ugly cousin –CONTROL.  Trying to control even the smallest of things seems almost an addiction.  I know it is poisonous.  It can make what should be non-stressful situations stressFULL and can place a hardship on even the strongest relationships.  For example, because I am an extremely punctual person (a little OCD when it comes to time, I have multiple alarm clocks) I let what should be a minor irritant –waiting on someone for what I felt was an ungodly amount of time- almost ruin a friendship.  A girlfriend told me she would meet me at a specific time, and showed up 45 minutes late; she was smiling and chipper I might add.  I was beyond ill.  What I didn’t understand at that time was that I was the one with the problem, not her.  It was my expectations that caused the problem.

Give up expectations of others, stop worrying and just find something to smile about.

It is amazing how much of this I began to understand once I read Dyer’s and Casey’s books.  By changing the way I viewed things, I changed the way I felt.

book