All posts by Molly

Taking Care of the Hive

One of my mother wounds is rarely feeling free of tension when I say no.  The best way to deal with my raging alcoholic mother, even when she was sober, was to stay small, stay compliant and say yes to whatever she wanted from me.

Who knows what I would have wanted to be or wanted to express outside of her environment, but I grew up within it as a people pleaser, and more specifically, someone fine tuned to try and please my never satisfied mother.  She just never liked me.  It started off poorly at my birth when she was disappointed I was a girl and went on until her death when she disinherited me.

Needless to say, the wounds from this mother have been a source of a lot of deep sorrow but also a lot of growth. Taking back my power has been exhilarating as well as painful.  Not being compliant, not toeing the line, not stifling my truth, not staying small: each act of defiance has helped heal the wounds that generations of women in my family and every family carry.  Each act of defiance has released me into a greater sense of self.

Defying my family of origin and my mother in particular took me into my own resources, that deep well within us all, and took me to the God within.  I am so grateful for this.

And yes, I feel compassion for my mother who was carrying her own immense mother wounds.  But this compassion lives inside me alongside the conviction that it was not okay what she did to me and I do not have to deny this truth to cover for her failings.

One thing that took a long time to address was the mother wound of self care.  My mother left me no room for self care.  She couldn’t even be bothered to hold the bottles that fed me. She propped them with pillows and left me to it..  My parents would laughingly tell stories of the doctor telling my mother that I was not gaining enough weight and was too polite a baby. I learned early to stay small and make few demands.

But I was a person, as we all are, with needs and wild, fiery life flowing through me. As I got older, I realized I could have a secret life  of doing what I wanted as long as I was home in time to do my chores before dinner. I wandered the forests and imagined a different life. Sometimes I lived it.  Completely unsupervised in my secret life, I learned to drive a car when I was nine.  My best friend Lynn and I would drive her family’s old Studebaker up and down a strip in her back field,  We could get “Old Foolish Carriage” up to 30 mph down one straightaway.  I am sure it was the act of a loving God when the front axle broke, and the car died.

As life unfurled, I continued to balance out the expression of my inner zest better than my need for self care.  Life at home felt like a coffin, but away from home I continued to explore things that I was truly passionate about and committed to them fully.  Later I declared my truths to one and all and stood by them even as there was intense criticism about my choices.  My spiritual search started in earnest when I began my own family in my twenties. My father thought my spiritual choices and life work meant I worked for the devil.  My mother just called me crazy.

By the time my family of origin devolved into the new low of my youngest drug crazed and violent brother threatening to kill me and my children while the rest of my family of origin looked the other way, I found my mother and father’s behavior dark but not unexpected.  I had patched together my own way to live my life and go for my truth.  I grieved at what I had never had from them- love or even safety- but I continued on, not looking to them for help.  I followed through on the cultural taboo of breaking off with them completely in order to use what energy I had to protect myself and my own family.

Some mother wounds were a bit more slippery to see and resolve, and self care was one of these.  When I look back on the orthopedic injuries I have had- I broke my left arm and wrist into dozens of pieces in 2012 and then did the same thing to my right arm four years later- I see that these were opportunities to heal the original drama of not having parents that cared for my physical being when I was a child.  I may have mentioned this before, but when the orthopedic surgeon looked at the x-rays of my break in 2012, the first thing she said was that I had broken my arm previously, and it had not been set properly.  When she said this, I had some deep awareness that this happened when I was four. It didn’t set right because I was not taken to a doctor.  I also have broken ribs and broken bones in my feet that healed wrong. It pierces me with sorrow that little Molly navigated broken bones all alone.

With the more recent arm breaks, my recuperations were a chance for me to receive love and care from the people around me now and also learn to slow down and inner mother myself in my recovery. It was also a chance to let go of the kind of self vigilance I have had since birth and learn to trust that in the life I had created for myself I had surrounded myself with people that would care for me when I couldn’t care for myself. AND THEY DID.

I am in my sixties now and through my second Saturn return.  For me, the territory of this Saturn return was a return to the concern of  self care.  The last few years have called me to pare away more lingering “a nice daughter does this” ie “a nice daughter doesn’t have time to take care of herself because she is busy taking care of everyone else” The paring away means I am free to follow through on what I believe to be my purposes here with more reverence and more discernment, more joy and more space.

Life gives us so many opportunities to examine what it is we believe is important and what needs to be discarded.  The old dragon mother dialog of shoulds becomes increasingly unhelpful,  but mercifully, life constantly highlights these old chestnuts and helps us to discard them. No is always a vital word for women and a sentence in its entirety, but this comes home to me more and more as I am aware my time is not infinite as Molly Sheehan.

Yesterday was a small victory for me and my ease with the word No.  A fellow beekeeper came to my door wanting me to contribute honey from our two hives so she could fulfill a contract she had with a local organization,  I told her I did not have the honey for this.  I could have added nor do I have the interest as this organization has been a patriarchal bastion of pain and suffering for all of my family.  She pressed me, saying it was bee sisterhood and the bees could give more honey now.  This is way past when I harvest honey from our bees.  At this point my whole focus is on getting the hives through the winter and this means ample honey for them.  I felt my niggling old mother wound of being nice, sharing at my own expense, but it was exhilarating to just say no.

And so I did.

I’ve got my M back!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmany, Mmmmmmmmmmany Mmmmmmmercis to mmmmmmmy mmmmmarvelous Tech Fairy who mmmmmeandered mmmmmost mmmmmmmedmorably through mmmmmmmy blog and mmmmmost mmmmomentously mmmmmmade mmmmmmincemeat of mmmmmmmmy mmmmmmmmmmechanical mmmmmmmmalfuctions.


A Keyboard’s Last Hurrah

In the office the computers are all newly upgraded with improved networking and the newest Filemaker programs to keep our files purring along.  A man came for two days to sit and watch the swirly buttons swirl while things were upgrading.

I never imagined a life where I would use any of these words including the really imprecise ones like swirly buttons.

Meanwhile in my little office area, tucked a bit out of the fray in a corner of the original office building, there was trouble in Denmark.

Way back in the beginning of the growing season, the keyboard on my computer stopped making “m”s.  In a bemused sort of grandmotherly way, I wondered what Grace or me, had spilled on the keyboard.  Snacks are the price to pay for having her fix computer things for me.  She is five and already has an advanced degree in computer science.

Being a bit of a disorganized thrifty person, I thought it would be manageable fun  to see how much auto-correct would correct when I typed without an “m”.  Not that much, as it turned out.

I also tried to play a game of sending emails and doing FB posts that didn’t have the letter “m” in them:  Tweaks like changing, “Happy May morning” to ” Happy Spring”. That sort of ridiculous management of a problem that from the start required a new keyboard.

When I was growing up, I was frequently told this story about a family group who were wringing their hands trying to solve the problem of what to do with a cup of coffee that someone had inadvertently put a teaspoon of salt into.   When everyone  failed to solve the problem of the salt in the cup of coffee, “the lady from Philadelphia” suggests throwing out the cup of coffee and getting a fresh cup. This was the full story, I kid you not.

I never really got why this story was told so often. And who the heck was the lady from Philadelphia?  But maybe had I cracked the secret wisdom of this story, I would have grasped sooner that there was only one solution to my dying keyboard. And a simple one.

I needed a new keyboard.

Sadly “simple” did not end up being the right adjective for what came next.

Now committed to a new keyboard, I started to bug all of the other members of the household to buy this new keyboard.  I could have gone to the computer store myself, but I never seem to have the necessary details or know what I am talking about.  I am happy to pay, but someone else needs to translate my confused requests.

No one was biting.  They had their own lives, after all.

I was growing a bit testy desperate as more keyboard letters were fritzing out, and it was harder to work around the gaps. The letter “u” was gone and so was “7” then mainstays “s” and “r” flew the coop. Each day fewer letters worked.  What WAS it that Grace or I had spilled?

At long last, St. Jim went to the computer place to get a new keyboard for me, but HE WAS TURNED AWAY.  My computer was too old for a new keyboard to work on without some system upgrades. Perhaps I had been ignoring those upgrade notices in the right hand corner of the screen a bit too long.

Five year old computer = dinoasaur.

Weeks passed.  There were always other things calling besides FB or blog posts.  Weeds for example.

And let’s face it.  People dodge and run when they see me coming at them with a computer problem. Our webmaster, Ben, for example.  He probably wakes up every Monday with that Monday morning feeling because he knows that Monday mornings = list from his mother of computer glitches to fix ASAP- Happy Monday Ben!

Anyways, when I did pin down a tech diva or two (you know who you are), they told me things like, “It may be too old for these upgrades to make a difference.” My response, “Well let’s find out.  Won’t one of you sit down and push the necessary buttons.”

I know I should learn how to upgrade things myself.  It’s sort of like changing a flat tire.  I kind of can do it.  I have actually done it once, maybe twice, but really, isn’t that enough? Do I really need to know what to do with those messages that keep flashing on computers, phones and every gizmo I encounter with upgrade options.  How long can I click “Remind me later” and have things keep functioning?

Can’t you get it dear gizmo? I’m needed down by the compost heap.

Then we began to receive messages on the office email: Was everything alright at Green Hope Farm? Where were the FB posts? Someone even wanted to know if I was dead.

No, just technologically impaired by volition really

The only thing that needs recycling/burial right now is the keyboard.

Anyways, that is where the situation sits today. If anyone in my family is reading this post, won’t you please upgrade my computer? Then I can access all the photos living on my computer and decorate blog posts like this one with photos of things other than technology.

I may let FB go, but I like posting photos on the blog. Please dear tech saavy relatives, please upgrade my computer. I will even give you credit. Here.  With a gorgeous photo of the Flower of your choice if the deer have not eaten them. Please? Someone? Hello? Hello?


Molly Swears Off

I am swearing off my complaints.

I am not going to complain about the deer anymore.  There are plenty of Flowers.

This is what I saw when I took a quick walk around the gardens this morning.

Flower bliss.

The Game

So much of my life this summer has felt like a game in which I’m aware I’m playing a game, but I have no idea the rules or what is happening on the board.

It helps me to know it’s a game.  It helps me to remember the game didn’t come with a rule book, so I don’t have to feel badly that I lost it.  It helps me to know that we don’t get cash at the beginning of the game, we get cluelessness.

Being clueless and knowing it has its advantages.  It made me look for wise teachers  and by the grace of Divinity, I found some.  Turns out they were whispering in my heart all along.  They were NOT that guy in the mountains.


Part of me wants fun beach party bingo as game activities or as one of my spiritual helpers calls, “a personality picnic” all the time, but I listen better when the game’s afoot with mayhem challenges versus non-stop fluffy fun. Though I try to say thank you a lot when I have fun in an effort to change the plot of the game so that more fun is included.

Even when I am begging for answers, my spiritual helpers don’t explain the game fully. Maybe that is one of the rules of the game.  I’ll get the rule book when I don’t need it anymore.

So I go back to the things I know for sure: the  game’s afoot and I have allies.  We all do.

I recently heard someone say that the secret of a happy life was to lower the gratitude threshold.  Maybe THAT is the game???

You see how even when I know that no one is going to tell me the precise nature of the game,  I still ask leading questions.

This summer, the damage the deer are doing is so over the top that its impossible to miss that this is the game of this summer.  This damage is the gift to be grateful for.  Exactly why remains to be seen.

I remind myself that this is as productive a learning summer as two summers ago when the gardens were spilling forth lavish amounts of Flowers for Emily Sheehan’s wedding including the Flowers in these photos.

Meanwhile, this summer, take a look at my bean harvest from our 220′ spiral of bush beans and three bean towers of pole beans.

They were good, all nine of them shared among five of us, but really, did the deer need to eat ALL the rest?

Or look at the Venus Garden.

This garden is the garden where we stick in a twig and a towering specimen of 10,000 Flowers springs up almost overnight. This year it IS twigs as each night the deer come through to make sure not a single leaf stays undamaged and not a Flower bud survives.

So in the spirit of what I think is maybe the game….

I am grateful for the nine beans. Yum!

I am grateful that deer don’t like the taste of Red Shiso.

I am grateful for deer medicine, and we have heaps of it.

I am grateful for Wildflowers like this Titan Orchid that I found on a woodswalk this week, shining its light so strong it positively glowed.

I am grateful for the ways the deer deflate my vanities.

I am grateful that the deer can’t eat my sense of humor.

I am grateful that fall will come then winter and spring, and I will get to begin a new chapter in the game and sow new gardens.  Is this the right time to ask for fewer deer?