Saturday, November 6, 2010


Saucon Valley Autumn
This has been a year of changes for me; for the last 10 years, I enjoyed a certain rhythm of activity and contemplation, business and quiet.  My school-year days were spent teaching, interacting, communicating; as a normally introspective person, that level of activity was stressful for me, and the quiet time I enjoyed with the goats after school was a welcome transition to a few hours of quiet time each night, before my husband returned from work.

Things have changed.  Peter's position with a local university was cut due to grant cut-backs, and he's much more present in my life.  I can't think of anyone I'd rather share my life with. However, I'm finding it difficult to adjust to the absolute lack of contemplative time...quiet time with no human distractions.  Even the farm is fraught with activity; people come and go, ask questions, want to learn.  Peter helps me milk now, and the delicate dance of woman and goats has become a tango, complete with dramatic shifts and turns. I still work every day, tutor twice a week, milk the goats, and attend a grad class on Wednesday nights.  My personal time is limited. I try to find time for the people I love.  I hope they'll understand.

It's a changing lifestyle for me, this new, uninterrupted pace of interaction.  My body is reacting to the change with little anxiety attacks, interrupted sleep, irritable bowel and fibromialgia flare-ups.  And therein lies the title of this blog: Listening.

It's season's end, here in frosty Pennsylvania.  The last garden vegetables have been brought in, and all that remains are the hearty cole-crops and the indigenous herbs.  The latter have been calling to me lately; the lemon balm and mint, the few remaining leaves of the transplanted passion-flower, and the rambunctious parsley.  This morning, anticipating a difficult day (our goats showed signs of pink-eye last night, and today will be spent treating them), I woke in a back-wrenching, twitchy sweat at 4 AM.  The usual remedies (a glass of milk, a chapter of a novel, relocation to the couch) did nothing.  But I kept thinking of those herbs.

Lemon Balm
Two days ago, during my morning prep period, I read a bit about "A Course on Miracles", and since then have tried the first two exercises which allow you to reframe your assumptions.  I don't know if I'll continue the course or not, but I do know that I was more aware of my inner thoughts this morning, as those plant images kept coming to me.  At a certain point, it occurred to me that those very plants had exactly what I needed; they were calming, strengthening, antibacterial.  The infusion I made from the lemon balm, mint and passion flower immediately untied the knot in my back; and the parsley I picked several days ago will be going to the goats this morning.  It's just what they need.

So, in my transitioning rhythms, I'm learning something new: in those wee hours of the night, in those fleeting still moments, take the time to listen.  The answers are there.


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