“Homemade Holiday” aka Fodder for Therapists

Two words changed the holiday season for me. Two words that are about to give my children years of fodder for therapists, energy practitioners, rebirthers, and other helping professionals. These two words were, “Homemade Holiday.”

Just a few short weeks ago, and I mean like last week, the eldest son, aka Ben, suggested we have a “Homemade Holiday” with each of us making gifts for one another. In a moment of pure insanity, I agreed. I don’t know exactly why we were considered a quorum- after all there are six of us, but Ben and I made this decision without taking it to a vote. Suddenly all four children, Jim, and I were making each other presents.

You can see the fodder for therapists building already, can’t you?

To explain our rash decision, let me say in my defense that at the moment Ben made the suggestion, I was flooded with memories of childhood holidays in which I did crafts up in my bedroom. Dollhouse furniture held together with hot glue and masking tape, pomander balls moldering in a big bowl of cinnamon, knitted mittens with problem thumb gussets. Once I made coconut macaroons, but left out the coconut because I wasn’t a fan of coconut.

Standards were low and I cheerfully met them.

One of many problems with all these rosy memories was that I failed to realize it was like twelve minutes to Christmas Eve when Ben and I made our little plan. Additionally, there was the problem of actually having to work while simultaneously crafting.

When I had pigtails, I had time for leisurely crafting I was always making things up in my room. It was my signature activity. I probably had a stockpile of ornaments ready six months in advance of any holiday. I was a child prodigy of crafting and had Martha Stewart been out there, she would have had me on one of her TV specials.

Additionally, when I was a pig tailed waif poised for Martha Stewart Living, I didn’t have a fourteen year old son named Will who complained that none of the other children had suffered a “Homemade Christmas” when they were teenagers.

He had a point. He joined the family just as everyone ran out of steam for just about everything and some holidays his stocking has looked a bit peaked compared to say, the stocking that greeted first child Ben. In fact, someone rightly remembered that whereas toddler Ben actually got store bought presents, with toddler Will we just wrapped up stuff he already had and let him rip away at the wrapping paper.

But back to the present. There is no pitter patter of little feet this holiday because everyone has taken their big feet into seclusion to work on their projects. Ben doesn’t even seem to have time to answer the phone.

And for some bizarre reason (the main reason that is going to get my three younger children into round the clock therapy come January), I decided to tackle Ben’s present first. Once again, in my defense, he was the creator of “Homemade Holiday 2009” so I thought he merited my first craft effort.

Sadly, it was not an easy recipe for coconut free coconut macaroons. Sadly, I took on a project so labor intensive that Grandma Moses would have found it a challenge.


I decided to make Ben a braid rug. Have you ever made a braid rug? You can work for a week and have something that would barely cover a toilet seat.

Night after night, I cut strips of wool, braided them, then sewed them in a slowly growing circle. After a small eternity, I had a rug the size of a trash can lid. Meanwhile, nothing else was being crafted for the other members of the family. They watched me burn the midnight oil beavering away on Ben’s rug while they kept notes for their first therapy sessions in January, “My mother definitely loves Ben best.”

When the rug got to be a size that most people would recognize as a rug of some sorts, maybe one for small cats, I called it quits.

It was time to make deals with everyone else. First I told Jim to forget it. He could wait ’til his February birthday or beyond for any craft love from me. I also told Lizzy I was going to have to give her some sort of coupon for a project to be completed at a later date. She took it well. As I started to scramble to get something done for Emily, I also opted to cook some high volume goodies for Will to make it seem like there was actually something under the tree for him .

Sadly, what was meant to be an enormous tin of Caramel Corn for Will became a modest ziploc baggie of Caramel Corn because Will found the four trays of Caramel Corn I made for him and ate three of them. To his credit, he did ask me if I was saving the Caramel Corn for anyone. What could I say, “This is your main Christmas present.”

It’s really pathetic isn’t it? All I can say is, “Thank God for Santa.” He better come through for me this year because there are some serious present gaps to be filled. Let’s just hope he can wield a hot glue gun with the best of us crafters, but has more time management skills than me.


Elizabeth has been sharing with me her thoughts about issues of purpose, place, and community for her generation. I am hopeful that I will get her to write some blogs on these concerns early next year.

In the meantime, I find myself being inspired by moments, often unexpected, when these elements of purpose, place, and community pull themselves together in joyful unity.

It is hard to miss that Reina, a siberian husky, is made for our snowy world. Moment to moment she beautifully reflects the magic of finding one’s purpose and place and creating community as well.


There are prosaic things that suggest right place like the fact she never has to stop and chew the snow off her foot pads like our goldens, or the comical but also amazing way she can dig into the snow and find what she is looking for (98% of the time this appears to be dear poop).


But in truth, her every moment in the snow reflects a joyful alignment of where she is with who she is and I love how her joy has made the other dogs (and me) enjoy each other and the snow more than ever.

It’s dog community at its best, though sometimes Riley needs to break away and ask me for the refueling offered by a dog biscuit.

Yesterday brought another moment when I got to see someone else in an inspired and right place wallowing in inspired and joyful community.

As members of the chocolate tribe, all of us in the office decided to have our Christmas lunch at Burdick’s in Walpole, NH. It’s a wonderful place famous for its chocolate. Settling into our table, we noticed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at a nearby table with a lively group of companions. As Mr Burns is one of the people who helped create Burdicks, we were grateful to him for creating a welcoming place to celebrate each other (and chocolate).

And as we heard the exuberant conversation bursting from his table all through lunch, it was hard to miss the example he gave us of joyful purpose ( what great new topic beckons him onward in his work?), place ( this warm space he created for all of us), and community ( at his table and so many others there were friends he stopped to embrace on his way out).

That was nice! To have inspiration to keep evolving right purpose, right community in the right place come from several snowy walks with the dogs and a chocolate capped holiday lunch.


Here are the twenty somethings at our table with Ken Burns a dot at the back of the shot.

To Every Thing There is a Season

The Winter Solstice is close. For Green Hope Farm, this is the time when the Angels begin to share with us the plans for next year’s gardens and to offer us an overview about the ongoing mission of the farm and how this will play out in the next growing season. This year, I find myself looking forward to the Solstice with particular excitement and joy. I feel a heightened sense of anticipation because this fall has been full of a growing awareness of sea changes afoot.

To take a step back, when working with the Elemental and Angelic kingdoms, the year’s cycle begins in the fall at the autumn equinox. This begins the year for us because the autumn equinox offers a time to give input about the next growing season before the Angels formulate the plan for the next year. At the equinox, I talk to the Angels and Elementals involved in Green Hope Farm and share with them what I am thinking about, what I would like support with in the coming growing season, and most importantly, affirm my willingness to be one of the humans working to take the farm and Green Hope Farm Flower Essences forward in alignment with divine will. Then the Angels compose a plan that takes into account my input, a plan that becomes available for me to receive in meditation after the Winter Solstice.

This cycle is one of the reasons I find it very off putting to receive seed catalogs in the fall. I could order seeds now, but only in ignorance of what will energetically serve the farm next year. I regret that this instinctual understanding of this natural rhythm has now been lost to marketing pressures that deliver seed catalogs to us before Thanksgiving. I don’t know about your garden, but even with snow on the ground, I am still harvesting leeks, celeriac, kale, and brussels sprouts. Nothing feels right on any level to be planning next year’s gardens yet.

But back to the topic of a sea change coming. I can’t exactly remember what the Angels, Elementals and I talked about at the equinox, but in the weeks since, I have been aware of a lot of old structures falling way and some new ones vaguely taking shape on the horizon. I sense a bold new chapter about to unfold. As nothing about this chapter is clear, I am just enjoying this feeling of anticipation. It will be exciting to actually hear the Angels flesh out the plans after the Solstice, but right now, it is fun just to know changes, unexpected but also wonderfully right, are about to be unveiled.

I am not really impatient because in many ways the hints of change have been quite exciting enough. A small example of one sign involves my ongoing challenges with slugs. After wrestling mostly unsuccessfully with slugs for a number of years, I have been told that next season we are going to set up the gardens in a new way, shifting in response to both the slugs and the imbalances that the slugs represented. I do not know what this means in terms of gardening techniques, but as the slugs represent an imbalance of give and take, knowing there will be a change in our approach makes me deeply happy. As I await specifics about how we will deal with the literal slugs next season, I have already seen some shifts unfold in how the farm is evolving to deal with other kinds of slugs. For example, a long term imbalanced arrangement concerning our hay field has come to a timely end with us now in the position to get more out of this resource for the farm’s benefit.

Another enormous sea change happening here that I am sure is part of the Angelic long term planning for Green Hope Farm is the much greater presence of a younger generation now at work here. I find myself so excited at the new directions the farm is taking and will continue to take as this younger generation begins to implement their amazing new ideas about every aspect of Green Hope Farm and Green Hope Farm Flower Essences.

Again, I have no concrete information about how the younger generations involvement is going to expand in significance in the coming seasons, but I am relishing what already is. Three of the main six staffers are now twenty somethings. That is a big shift for us. And there are other signs we are moving towards greater service to a younger generation’s spiritual needs. In the past few months, we’ve noticed many more young people seeking the specific support offered by Elizabeth’s two Camino Flower Essence collections. It makes sense that the person making Essences for a younger generation’s spiritual tools would be of this generation.

Just as the collections of Flower Essences I have made have been defined by what spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical issues I wanted to solve in my own life and the lives of people coming of age when I did, Elizabeth’s new collections come out of a search for solutions to the issues confronting her and her generation. It has been incredibly exciting to see how this plays out in young people “finding” Green Hope Farm Essences just when they need them, oftentimes this being within moments of Elizabeth’s new Essences going online.

This week, I connected with the mother of a young boy having difficulties learning to read. This mother explained that her son also felt he heard too much noise in his school classroom even when the classroom was quiet. This sent a shiver of recognition down my spine as I recalled how Elizabeth did not really learn to read until fifth grade and how she needed our support to not see the energetic challenges of everyone in her classroom as “her” problems to solve. She too “heard too much” in a quiet classroom. I recalled how we helped a young Elizabeth with Flower Essences to find energetic boundaries that worked for her. I also realized that her new collection of Flower Essences, the Healer’s Toolbox, contain Flower Essences that broaden and strengthen our Flower Essence support for this young boy. Out of her own pain and suffering in the classroom and then her own maturation process had come Flower Essence gifts that strengthened Green Hope Farm’s initial Flower Essence gifts.

It was one of those moments when I got to see a hint of the overview, the amazing way that over the past two decades the challenges, the triumphs, the pain, the mistakes, the ups, the downs, the learning, and the joys of all of us here have woven together into a stronger and wiser offering of loving support for others.

I hope it was reassuring to his mother for me to say that first of all, her acknowledgment of the legitimacy of her son’s difficulties was going to help him immeasurably to move through these difficulties without shame or feeling crazy and that in holding him with kindness she opened the way for him to not only heal the issues he confronted, but turn around and use what he learned in the crucible of his own suffering to offer gifts of his own creation to yet a younger generation of souls coming up behind him.

Holiday Letter Syndrome

The last Thanksgiving dish has been washed and the turkey soup is finally gone.

It’s time to settle into the next holiday season, better known as the Holiday Letter Season. This season brings its own variation of Facebook Deflation Syndrome, but instead of being a long term chronic condition that can be re-activated on a daily, even hourly basis by just logging onto a computer, Holiday Letter Syndrome is an acute condition that begins now and ends sometime around the New Year.

To ease myself into Holiday Letter Syndrome, or HLS as I like to call it, I decided to recall some juicy tidbits from last year’s letters, then conjure up some responses to these snippets all in order to build up my stamina for the month ahead.

In response to, “After a whirlwind trek across India, Thailand, and Vietnam, I took a month long timeout in Tahiti.”

I say, “To keep myself in practice for visiting toddlers, I sometimes give myself a timeout in my own special chair right here in our house.”

In response to, “Last Christmas, our extended family took a holiday to the Red Sea for some fabulous snorkeling.”

I say, “We prefer the bewildering variety of marine life found in our neighbor’s above ground swimming pool.”

In response to, “There was a bidding war among publishers for my memoir and Oprah has already called.”

I say, ” I have Oprah on speed dial. Who cares if she never answers?”

In response to, “My daughter is dating a professional basketball player and he gave us season tickets for his games.”

I say, “My son likes the bounce our gravel driveway gives his lay-ups and we certainly like that we can watch him play hoop from the windows of our own home.”

In response to, “On a cruise to Antarctica, we were the guest lecturers speaking on the pressing need to save this beautiful continent from global warming.”

I say, “As part of my own recycling efforts, I now melt down PVC plastics to spin and knit into outdoor wear for my whole family. I even make overcoats for my dogs.”

In response to, “Last summer, my husband and three boys hiked Tibet to the base of Mt. Everest then they stopped off for a retreat in a nearby Buddhist monastery.”

I say, “Every four days all summer my husband mowed the lawn in a complicated mandala configuration. When endless rain made the grass grow several inches each night, he would celebrate the destruction of his latest mandala and welcome the opportunity to mow yet another and another and another unique mandala.

In response to, “We had an eighteen course dinner at the French Laundry where our son-in-law works.”

I say, “Here at the farm, we think a meal with less than forty courses is a rather modest effort.”

Well I think I am all warmed up. Time to go down to town to get the mail and get my HLS rolling.