As the year comes to an end and I reflect on what has been accomplished, I have to say the best part of it all was the summer months. A time of warmth, gardening, passions, spending time with my family and enjoying the beauty of both my gardens. The herbs I collected, dried, and stored were most rewarding this winter when we brought them to the table and made beautiful cookies. As we were gathered and talking about this new and unique tradition that we started last year, I realized how it is not common for everyone to be thinking ahead in summer to their plans for Christmas, but it is natural for me. I’m a planner and even though it was months away, my patience did not get the best of me and was well worth the wait!
There was so much enjoyment and accomplishment in making tinctures and infusions this year and learning and discovering more about how to utilize my herbs. My knowledge grew and I was able to gift my herbs in several different ways to family members for Christmas….
We are now considering the idea of trying to build a small business around selling some of these herbal remedies but there is definitely a lot more to learn and consider. It would also mean having to gather supplies from more than just my personal herb garden. One thing I realize after having stored my herbs for the winter and making bottles upon bottles of tinctures and oil infusions is that once I started using them and gifting them; they quickly start to deplete, and it would take A LOT to be able to stock shelves throughout the year. My next goal is to learn, research, and compile some ideas for professional labels. My husband has been selling some of his antiques locally and the shop owner suggested I sell some tinctures there, so proper labeling is essential. Hopefully I can start small at the shop, see how they do, and expand after I have some knowledge of their popularity.
The other accomplishment this year is finishing a rough draft of my father’s story and submitting it to a local publisher. This was one of the most difficult things for me to do and unfortunately, did not have the ending I had hoped for. The more I re-read and edited it, the more I questioned whether or not I should even bother. Then after talking to the husband and wife team that was willing to accept a digital copy of what I had up to that point, back in June, it was decided that the time had come to hand it off and allow another set of eyes or two look at it. When speaking with Bonnie and Mike from M&B Global Solutions they let me know that they would take a look at it for free and just give me some feedback; telling me that it would not be immediate because there were other projects they were working on. That was in June and at this point I have accepted that it is most likely going nowhere.
This memoir is so dear to my heart that even handing it off and realizing there will be criticism and a lot of hard work to get it to where it needs to be for publishing was risky; for my soul. I know I should contact them back to follow-up, but it is so difficult for me to face, and even after I hit the send button it was apparent to me that if they never contacted me back it would be a sign for me to just forget about it. The story will remain in the computer, possibly one day being printed into a small book, and gifted to a family member or friend, but that is probably it. It’s just too difficult to be the only one who truly cares about the story enough to make the efforts and sacrifices to actually publish it. Maybe one day, but not this last year or probably even within the next 10. At least there is something written and put into as structured and succinct of a story as possible. Writing it down and having a completed draft at least means there is something to leave for my children and even though I felt, at times, it should be more than that, this is definitely most important. One day I will try to read it again and maybe even have another set of eyes edit it for me.
I did accomplish reading more books this past year than I had in awhile. It was not a lot but more than normal and I did it of my own freewill and based on my own desires and because of persistence. Reading while exercising has also been a really great motivation! The latest one is almost done and it is titled: Positive Pushing; How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child by Jim Taylor, PH.D. Since my daughter has a varying personality from mine and sometimes it is difficult for me to figure out what the best tactics and approaches are best for encouraging good habits (responsibility, follow through, commitment) as she gets older and closer to her teenage years, I decided to try and learn what a doctor suggests. This book has been a wonderful learning tool and reassures me that many of my natural tendencies are on track, but there is some room for improvement.
It also has me reflecting a lot on my childhood, how I was raised and even has helped me come to some realizations about my husband and how his upbringing has molded him into the person/parent that he is. Since my mother-in-law lives next door and her tendencies are presented to me weekly, sometimes daily, there are many instances where this book has led to analyzations of how, from what I know, she was raised and how this affected her approaches to parenting. My assessments are also based on the many conversations my husband and I have had about his childhood as well as, my observations of how she talks and interacts with my children.
I would highly recommend this book to any parent wanting a great guide for self-reflection and realistic, well thought out and researched advice on how to focus your attention and support on your child’s efforts, rewarding those efforts, and positive reinforcement that encourages independence; confidence; and healthy commitment throughout their life.
The lessons in this book also connect back to my issues pursuing the completion of my memoir. It helps me to understand why I have hesitations at allowing myself to be vulnerable when it comes to trying to accomplish this goal. The perfectionist in me, stemming from being rewarded too much as a child on my accomplishments rather than my efforts, creates internal barriers and hesitations once there are hurdles that become difficult to face or overcome. There were many instances as a child that I would get close to becoming really great at something, but my tendencies were to quit before anyone figured out I wasn’t as good as it appeared; as if luck was the real reason for my success. Other times I just lost the initiative to keep persisting. When a false sense of conclusion presented itself, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to get better or improve and work towards the actual finality, I withdrew. It’s hard to break habits that are ingrained in us and that is why it is my goal, as a parent, to work on how and when I encourage and reward my children’s efforts and goals. This will remain with them throughout their lives and the healthier they are, physically and mentally, the more likely they are to succeed in whatever they pursue.
Another new tradition we enjoyed as a family this year was reflecting on the Winter Solstice. It was one of the nicest, most relaxing nights we’ve had as a family since the cold has set in. We turned all the lights off, lit candles, and I read a few excerpts from Gibran’s A Spiritual Treasury. All the selected readings were from the section: On Ecology, Nature, and the Environment. The first was by: Thoughts and Meditations and the other two were both from Nymphs of the Valley. Amazingly the children loved turning the lights off, especially my son who was mesmerized by the “dancing candles;” as he put it. There is such a calmness and simplicity that occurs when all the technology and electricity are turned off. We read, reflected, and played dominoes together. It was magical!
I leave you with my favorite reading of the night by Nymphs of the Valley: