Thinking about 2020-21-22.

During the pandemic, I heard someone say, “Every day is Blursday, because every day feels like the same day.” As I consider the landscape of Green Hope Farm Flower Essences at the end of this year, I feel like 2022 was morphed with 2020 and 2021 not so much as the same day but as an almost a continuous experience of constant change and adaptation for all of us here and everywhere.

When everything shut down in March of 2020, I found myself alone in the office doing all the jobs that five or sixth people usually did. I vastly overestimated my ability to do everything and dove into marathon days and nights in the office with misplaced confidence. By May I had a bad kidney infection that would not quit.

I always think of kidneys as being about feeling supported. Like so many, I found myself in a situation in which those who wanted to help me were tied up with their own challenges. The staff goddesses with grade school children found themselves home teaching school. There was no day care for the younger mothers so they too were home. I would have drafted the always helpful Jim, but he found himself running sixth grade from the kitchen table via one Zoom meeting after another. In retrospect that worked about as well as he expected. He is not sure his students learned anything except that they could go to the bathroom while on Zoom and enjoy the idea that they were sitting on the toilet while also in class.

After a couple months, we figured out shifts for Green Hope Farm staff to return to work. Vicki and Jen bubbled together and came in during the days. I worked at night. Lizzie bottled at odd hours when her kids were asleep. When summer staff goddess, Anna, chose not to attend college via Zoom in the fall of 2020 and took the year off, she came onboard and worked a full year with us. That was a fantastic help as Sam still couldn’t return to us. After about a year we were all back in the office with masks on.

The upheaval changed things here. I had run the business by staying a part of everything. Basically, I had a finger in every pie. For thirty years I spent my week days in the office and did the gardening in the early morning and on the weekends. One of the reasons why I didn’t ask myself if I could do five people’s jobs in March of 2020 is because I had always done too much. I felt so grateful to be working with Divinity, the Angels and Elementals that I was happy to do everything all the time. Not that they expected this of me. It was my idea to do too much.

When I got the kidney infection, I got the message that I had to do less. As we came back together, I knew it was time for me to let go of various responsibilities into the hands of the capable, trustworthy, sassy and lovable group of women who were here ready to take up the reins. I didn’t let go very gracefully. Frankly, it was disorienting to do less. One thing that really helped was specific inner guidance about what I WAS NOT supposed to do in the office. Being told “No! You don’t need to go into the office. The staff can do it.” over and over and over again helped me let go and settle in to a more humane schedule. Somedays though, it was very hard to follow my “nonmarching orders.” I really liked all the office jobs of visiting with people on email, writing notes on invoices and packing and decorating packages.

With more free time, I began to garden during the day when I fresh and energized. It was bliss to be able to keep going with a garden task when I wanted to versus having to stop until the next weekend. The guidance I received clarified my jobs as designing the gardens, planting the gardens, tending the gardens and of course, making the Flower Essences. The writing was also important. And now I had the time to think about the blog more and ponder long and hard what I wanted to write about. I could get really fired up about a topic!

I loved that I could rise at dawn and stay in the gardens as long as I wanted. I loved that I was still visiting with all of you via the blog. So many of you have been connected with us for decades. You are beloveds to me, and I think of you and your animals so often.

I kept one office job of making all our red shiso tincture, because I wanted some ongoing connection to the life of the office. Most days, I briefly visit the staff to check red shiso inventory, to catch up and to admire the enormous piles of outgoing orders. Order fulfillment is their ship to steer, and they are doing a fantastic job. When the staff goddesses took charge of this, they began to innovate. This has been wonderful. They represent different generations and that is so helpful to the ongoing life of the business. They also enjoy technology in a way foreign to me and love to explore new options for everything. This year, for example, they found a mail program that everyone likes better than Pitney Bowes. It’s called Pirate Ship. After too many years of beating our head against the walls with Pitney Bowes, everyone enjoys the sass as well as ease of using a company called Pirate Ship.

As I consider 2023, I know we will continue to incorporate the innovations of the younger generations of staff goddesses, and I am grateful for all the ways they are helping me go with the flow. I am also glad that there is still room for me to write long meandering blogs for those who still like to read something longer than a meme. In this way, I so look forward to continuing to connect with you in 2023.

The Resilience of Flower Essences ( and us too)

These last few weeks it’s been challenging to keep all the winter storms straight in my head. There have been storms that brought heavy snows. One delivered 20″ of wet snow overnight. Then there have been storms bringing a deluge of rain and flooding. There also have been wind storms. And like the rest of the country, the temperatures have gone up and down like a yoyo. Since these storms and dramatic weather shifts have piled up fast and furiously, it’s been hard to remember which storm brought which difficulty.

When I went to the grocery store last week in between major storms, shoppers in long holiday lines bantered about how many days they had been without power. The mood was humorous even giddy. People seemed to have abandoned their holiday expectations in favor of just rolling with it. Like so many of us in so many places, the crowd was going with the flow and not taking plans seriously. Everyone seemed happier and more relaxed than in holiday seasons past.

This was a good thing as by the next day, the lights were once more out across the region with everything shut down. We felt fortunate to have our woodstove to heats the house and to warm foods pulled from the freezer. We were especially glad for our stash of staff goddess Emily MacNamara’s enchilada sauce which she makes for her family’s farmstand in the summer. We try to be prepared for these situations, but the dogs were messing with our preparations. They plundered our pots of back up drinking water under the kitchen table which meant these pots got downgraded from potable to water available to flush toilets. Not to worry. There was always snow to melt and eat (just not the yellow snow).

Out in the gardens, the storms wreaked havoc. Trees broke, limbs broke and thick branches broke as the heavy snows bent and snapped garden shrubs and trees everywhere. The lilacs in particular took it on the chin, though things like our gorgeous smokebush were also flattened. A kind neighbor came and chainsawed the broken birch tree blocking our driveway. This left garden paths impassable with broken branches and the gardens in general a bewildering mess. For a day or two I just looked out the window and girded my loins for the clean up ahead.

When a big rain melted most of the snow, I took my handsaw out and began cutting down broken branches. First I tackled the Lilacs in the Arbor Garden, a garden which had already seen so much change in 2022. I hauled enormous limbs out into open space above the main vegetable. I did this until I realized I was just making another kind of mess to clean up.

Jim can’t take these branches to the bottom of our hayfield where they get composted. The whole field is icy from one of the rain storms. He could get the truck down there on some sort of wild sleigh ride, but he wouldn’t get it back up the hill and back to the driveway…… until maybe April. Finally I threw in my hand saw and accepted I have to just wait for spring to clean up the mess.

I had wanted to clean up so I could get a sense of exactly how different the gardens will be in the spring. Now I must let go of that need to know and rest in remembering how resilient living things are in this part of the world. All these shrubs and trees will recovery and grow back. It may take a few seasons, but it will happen.

As I considered this, it made me remember why this is a great climate for growing Flowers and making Flower Essences. Consider the Lilacs. The Lilac Flower Essence we make is vibrant and strong because the Lilacs here, all twenty or thirty varieties, have to be really tough to handle the weather. Broken branches won’t stop them from sending up new shoots next spring which will rapidly become flowering branches.

I take comfort in the fact that extreme weather is one reasons our Flower Essences are so high in vibration. Weak plants just don’t make it around here, only the really resilient and determined ones do, and this translates into Flower Essences that carrying the wisdom of their Flowers and also their great strength, life force, resilience, determination and desire to live and thrive.

I have sometimes wondered why it was here on this land in this climate of so much extreme weather that I was meant to make Green Hope Farm Flower Essences, but these storms remind me why. And when this insight isn’t quite enough to make me completely delighted with our long and gnarly winters of daily wind, snow, ice and cold, I can always pull up closer to our woodstove and leaf through seed catalogues.

Even now as the winds howl, it’s time to start designing the new year’s gardens to plant. Somehow I know the newly “pruned” gardens and all their Flowers will be wonderful and brimming with life force. And I will get to be back in them, free of crampons and barefoot instead, happily making Flower Essences from their abundant blossoms.

In the meantime, Sheba supervises the damage with her usual panache.

No Limits- Children, Animals and Flower Essences

One of the joys of working with Flower Essences is watching how children and animals embrace their gifts.

It has been my experience that children approach Flower Essences with enthusiasm, delight and confidence in Flower Esssences and in their ability to make the most of them.

Children like it when someone spritzes them with a mix of Flower Essences. They will dance around under the spray with joyful abandon. They also love it when they are set loose to make their own Flower Essence mix in their own bottle. They will select and mix Flower Essences with focus and clarity as if they have been making mixes from the beginning of time.

From babyhood, children will seek out Flower Essences when they feel in need. One of my children’s first words was “flower.” As a small toddler, Emily would say “flower” then open her mouth like a baby bird to receive drops of Flower Essences in her mouth. Now her children, nieces and nephews also reach for the Essences as do many visiting children.

Here Emily is using her skills as a second grade teacher to entertain the troops.

It is such fun when a new child visits, looks over our inventory of Flower Essences and then judiciously choses bottles. Children can read the energy of Flower Essences way before they can read their labels. If given a chance, they will flawlessly choose Flower Essences that address whatever is going on with them. I’ve seen so many children confidently choose what they need without a moment’s doubt. I have also gotten to read your many letters about children in your lives and how they use Flower Essences. We treasure all your stories.

I also remember so many instances when Flower Essences brought an immediate and noticeable shift in a child. Children’s work with Flower Essences is inspiring and aspirational. They don’t let ideas of limitation bog them down but recognize what the Flowers offer and embrace this fully.

Animals also approach Flower Essences with an attitude which both indicates they recognize the gifts of Flower Essences, and also that they know they deserve these gifts. Like children, they don’t limit their availability to the gifts of Flower Essences but soak them in fully.

Yes, I have witnessed sniffy cats who have to get used to the gifts of Flower Essences before cozying up to them, but in the vast majority of situations, cats, like other animals, make full use of the Flower Essences that they are offered. Animals recognize Flower Essences as healing energies they would have found in Nature if they were given full range to roam. When presented with these energies in a bottle form, they delight in their arrival.

Rescue animals sometimes take to Flower Essences differently than other animals because the damage done them by the human community has hurt their sense of the unlimited and supportive nature of life. This is one reason I am so grateful that so many of you and so many rescue organizations use our Flower Essences especially Abandonment & Abuse as over time, the shackles of these bindings can be dissolved and these dear ones can find a trusting relationship with life and with people again.

We do much work with the Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil, and it is one of so many projects that bring us to tears of joy as these dear elephants find their true nature again after lifetimes of incarceration.

To come at this idea of moving from limitation to the unlimited, I want to talk about a book I reread and reread. The book is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. I reread the book during December each year and try to finish it by the actual Solstice. I have probably read it twenty times and practically know it by heart, but I have no intention of stopping.

I have no other book that calls to me in quite the same way, and I spend a lot of time wondering what possesses me to reread this book year after year.

My current theory is that it has to do with this topic of limits. I love all of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books including her best known Shell Seekers, but I believe this is her wisest book. There is no plot synopsis that could do the book justice, but I offer a short one anyways. The book is about a group of people who unexpectedly find themselves staying in the same house in Scotland during the cold, dark month of December. Some are related and others are strangers. Each person in the book has experienced a shattering blow in their lives. Rosamunde doesn’t belabor this nor do the characters. but each of them must find great inner strength and courage to rise above their personal pain to take care of each other during this unexpected house party. My description may make this book sound trite and maybe a bit grim, but it’s not. The story is told through all the different characters perspective, and the reader falls in love with each of them. Some characters even fall in love with each other, but unlike many of her books (all of which I love), other kinds of love join romantic love in this story.

The characters are plucky and don’t take themselves too seriously. They acknowledge their wounds but try to get on with it using humor as one of their survival tools. Rosamunde always has wonderfully irritating minor characters who do their best to selfishly ruin everything, but in this book these characters are dealt with and move offstage. The people gathered are flawed but trying to accept their fates with grace and selflessness. Again, this sounds BORING but it’s not.

As I dive into Winter Solstice again this year, I have been thinking how each character in the book has been given problems that could limit their outlook and approach to their unexpected new lives. They could rest in bitterness and even justify their bitterness because they have all been through the wringer. However, the difficulties they see each other facing bring out their desire to rise above their own situations and become a sort of unlimited version of themselves. Life has tested their faith and they have consciously decided to embrace life anyways.

I have made this sound much more obvious and reductive than the story actually is. Rosamunde is at her most subtle here, which may be why I have had to read the book twenty times to even begin to have theories about what makes this a magical book.

In any case, Winter Solstice inspires me just as the beloved children and animals do to not get so tied to what I think of as limits in my life or in “reality” or in my view of humanity and just know we all can and will rise above our limits to be more full of love than we ever imagined.