As autumn sets in and the cold weather blows through, I have been trying to keep my time occupied to avoid my normal seasonal depression and resistance to change. The days are shorter, the time change has, as usual, messed with my natural circadian rhythms, and I already miss the warmer weather and my garden. I just finished tucking it in for the winter, today, cleaning up the last few things that cannot withstand the freezing temperatures. A few weeks back I was able to mulch and cover my blueberries, plant and mulch the garlic, and pull out the remaining foliage that had finally frozen and died. Our growing season was a little longer than usual so it was nice to still have some outdoor maintenance to attend to in late October, early November other than raking leaves.
My mulching consisted of gathering leaves that had fallen in the front and backyard and piling them around where things like mint, grapes, lavender, lemon balm, yarrow, roses, and strawberries are going to be sleeping for the winter. There is one thing that still looks like it may be alive, and it is the ice pansies that grew in my herb garden this year. I also harvested my first rose hip from the Easy to Please, Floribunda, Rose which is the same plant I gathered and dried most of my rose petals from this summer and fall
The best part is that I have gained a new appreciation and love for this flower that I never had. Roses always seemed cliche, and I, for many years, resisted the conformity of being a girl who liked roses or wanted them gifted to me; I always preferred daisies. Now it is one of my favorite flowers and its beauty when dried was and is still my preference. It has been delightful and rewarding to see these beautiful flowers grow, be harvested, dried, and enjoyed for both art and tea. Soon the petals will be part of our new, as of last year, healthy/natural/herbal tradition for decorating Christmas cookies!
The other way that I have been trying to stay in good spirits as the weather is changing is by continuing to exercise and do yoga throughout the week and resisting the urge to overeat sweets and baked goods. Halloween is usually the start of bad habits that continue into the new year but thanks to my daughter’s new tradition, we were able to cut back significantly this year. There is a dentist in town that collects Halloween candy for the service men and women and sends it to them in care packages. They weigh the amount of candy and will give a dollar for each pound up to $5.00. She took in more than half of the candy her and my son received on Halloween and received $3.00 as well as, got her picture taken in her costume. She is always one for uniqueness on Halloween and this year she opted to be her favorite bird……………………..a pigeon and my son was a dragon.
I love to bake and have been roasting a few of my garden squashes and some pumpkins we got recently, pureeing the flesh, cooling, and filling freezer bags to save for closer to the holidays. I am trying to be conscientious about when and how much baking we do so as not to overindulge during the next few months. I eventually will be baking some pumpkin pies and bread with the squash I am saving. I also pre-made about 6 crusts a few weeks back and have those in the freezer as well, so it will be a fairly easy process once the time has arrived to start my holiday baking!
I had never grown squash before and luckily the growing season lasted a bit longer this year because my yard always fills with pesky cucumber beetles both spotted and striped about mid-summer. The plants were large enough and did not die but were definitely affected and slow to produce, but warmer temperatures into October allowed me to gather 5 large squash about 9-12″ long. My favorite thing about these is the seeds come out so easily compared to other squash. They are large and almost just come out on their own once baked.
The process I find easiest and most successful when baking, so that the squash/pumpkin cooks evenly, is heating the conventional oven to 350 degrees and just putting the entire squash/pumpkin in the oven on the rack without cutting it open or placing it in a pan. Then at about the hour mark I poke it with a knife to see if it is soft. The pan method with water always seems to over bake and get much waterier than desired. After cutting it open I first scrape the seeds out and then scrape the remaining flesh out, put just the flesh in a bowl by itself and mash it up, blend when cooled a bit, transfer by 1/2 cup full at a time to a freezer Ziploc bag (making sure it is completely cool by this point), label the bag with how many cups are in it, and freeze until needed. When baking time is on the horizon I just thaw some in the fridge for about 24 hours, knowing how much to take out since the bag is labeled with the amount of cups it contains, which makes it that much easier because it is already cooked and measured out!
As mentioned, the winter is a difficult time for me. It has been evident to me for many years that the weather changes are hard for me to handle; emotionally. That is one reason I am glad that I have begun a healthier, more active routine this year. Another thing that I plan to do is continue my monographs and herbal research. Since gardening is very consuming in the late spring through beginning of autumn, I made a mental note that the long winter months would be the perfect time to grow a deeper and more intimate relationship with the herbs I grew this summer. The first herb that I have began to draw and complete a new monograph for this last week is the Rose. Once I have completed this it will be my next post.
I also just finished reading, The Four Purposes of Life, by Dan Millman a few days ago and there was a surprise activity in this book that really intrigued me and led me to understanding something about myself that I had not really reflected on before. He requests that the reader discover what their birth number is by explaining the equation to figure it out or gives the option of going to his website calculator, and then discusses in further detail how this number gives us insight into our life’s purpose. When he was confronted by someone to do this himself, he actually took awhile until finally opening up to the idea. Once he finally decided to participate in the activity, after initially being skeptical of what he saw as more “numerology quackery,” and calculated his own birth number, he was able to learn the purpose behind what these numbers represent and how it could give him a clearer understanding of his life’s purpose. After using the life purpose calculator on his site: http://www.peacefulwarrior.com/life-purpose-calculator/, I discovered I am a 29/11 which translates to the description below:
“Those on the 29/11 life path are here to combine creative energy with higher principles and integrity, finding ways to apply their creativity in service of others, aligned with higher wisdom. Such higher wisdom is revealed by spiritual laws, especially the laws 29/11s are here to live and learn. All 29/11s, along with other double 1s, have tremendous creative potential. But because their primary life purpose represents a kind of mountain to climb, they may not feel as creative as others who aren’t working 1 energy and who have few pressing issues or obstacles in that arena. Some 29/11s are still “stuck” working the 2 or 9 issues that precede the 11, which may block their awareness of the abundant energy available to them. Many 29/11s are extremely creative, but they have trouble handling the energy. Before 29/11s can open the floodgates of their inborn creative potential, they have to find themselves—their center, identity, balance, and boundaries. 29/11s display extraordinary potential; when they face their issues with awareness and commitment, they are among the most creative people on the planet. The energy of 2 entails a form of cooperation with others, and 29/11s are born to support humanity in ways both large and small. Whether businesspeople or healers, construction workers or hairdressers, mail clerks or athletes, they have the potential to bring the spark of creativity to life through their work, their hobbies, or their family life.”
After reading this, the thing that surprised me the most, but not as much once I started to analyze/reflect on it more, was the creativity aspect to my purpose. It actually made me think of my sister who was the artist of the family and is the naturally creative one as well as, an amazing drawer. She struggled in school and was dyslexic, but she always excelled in art class and had great style (decor and clothing)! She became a beautician and specialized in nails, manicures and pedicures, after high school. She actually did exceptionally well during college and was as natural and gifted at her trade as my father was as a machinist. She was also 10 1/2 years older than me and when I started to draw and try to creatively express myself as a young child, the bar had been set by my sister, really altering my mom’s perception of what an average child’s abilities typically are. It also affected the personal expectations I had for myself.
I decided at a young age I really enjoyed art, but was not exceptional and never would be. This automatically made me feel inferior in this area of my life growing up and left me thinking I was not that creative, and definitely not deserving of the title: artist. As I’ve grown and experimented more with various outlets; writing, drawing, decorating, crafts, sewing (I made most of my daughter’s Halloween costume by hand), gardening, etc. I have grown to realize these past-times are so important to me and do exactly what is described above: bring the spark of creativity to life through work, hobbies, or family life. It is truly a therapy to me when I am engaging in something creative! I still continue to doubt myself though and can relate to the sentence above that states:
“Some 29/11s are still “stuck” working the 2 or 9 issues that precede the 11, which may block their awareness of the abundant energy available to them.”
My self-consciousness about pursuing a career path with a creative foundation all stems from my self-doubt about embarrassment, the possibility of negative results due to sharing inaccurate or harmful information/products, failing (even though I know there would be lessons learned and positive outcomes even from this), and disappointing myself and others. This is what ultimately keeps me from really pursuing anything in this area; wholeheartedly. My dream would ultimately come true if and once I was truly able to take what I love, as a creative expression of myself, and use it to help others while also being able to tun it into a lucrative career. Each day is a new opportunity to work towards this, and it is always in my sights as the future goal of all my efforts, time, and personal studies.
Wow, blogging sometimes just takes me on a writing journey I didn’t even realize was going to happen until my fingers start typing. I wanted to update my wonderful readers of some recent things I’ve been doing lately, and I hope it wasn’t too all over the place to follow! I so appreciate you visiting and taking the time to read my ongoing journal of life, herbal exploration, and tidbits of my personal reflections. Please feel free to share your thoughts and connect; I appreciate the interactions!
Have a wonderful day/night wherever you may be under this big sky we share on the same unique, miraculous, habitable planet spinning in space!
P.S. Sorry if you have gotten this post more than once in your email or feed but something happened after originally posting due to a glitch with my phone and the laptop I was using. Technology can really be frustrating and cause more problems than I would care to deal with sometimes. As always, thanks so much for reading!!