Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to live.





From the time I was very young, I knew I was beautiful and I knew I was smart. I knew this because Grandma told me every chance she had. I grew up confident. “Hey there you beautiful girl!” She would exclaim as I walked in the door as a little girl, an awkward adolescent, and as a grown woman. Always in awe of how clever she felt I was, I heard nothing but praise from her. I know that I was not the sole recipient of these proclamations, I shared them with my sisters, my cousins, my parents, my aunts, with anyone and everyone that Grandma loved. And she loved so many, she made friends so quickly. Her sweet uplifting remarks were always genuine though, no matter how often or for whom they were made. Grandma saw the beauty in people and she rejoiced in it.
She was hardworking farm girl who was grateful for and generous with what she had. She and Grandpa were constantly feeding people, always baking and keeping the pantry well stocked, always caring for and nourishing others in body and soul. Grandma had the quickest wit, pulling jokes out of nowhere. She was a wonderful storyteller and shared her history with us. She loved a game of cards, loved the banter, loved to table talk, loved to remind us that if you’re not going to have any fun you might as well stay home, and heck, most of the time that’s pretty fun too. She was always right about that, because she knew the secret—you make your own fun. You revel in every moment this life gives you.
As my daughter begins her life, we say a heart breaking good-bye to her Great-Grandma Raether, inspired by her, a woman who lived life better than anyone I know. Her days filled with joy, laughter, friendship and generosity. She embodied love and happiness. There is so much she has taught me that I will share with my beautiful girl Bea. She has given us this greatest gift, to see life for all the beauty it holds, to find that beauty in others, and to give it back to them.
With the biggest smile she would toast us “Here’s hoping you live forever, and I never die.” Your vibrant spirit will live on forever—we will share that special part of us that is you with everyone we meet.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Almost 2 Years

So much can happen in 2 years.  So much GOOD.


It starts with this guy.  One year ago tomorrow, on February 16th, 2013, (my older sister's birthday) we decided to get married.
Around this time I was accepted to the University of Minnesota's Masters of Public Health program, with a focus on Community Health Promotion.


I found an urban farm to work at this past summer.


In June of 2013, we bought a lovely Minneapolis bungalow.


 We lost Buster the previous May to heart failure and we miss him dearly.  Shortly we moved in to the new house, we decided to share our home again with a furry friend, and we adopted a kitten which we named Ivan. 


My newest niece, Miss Ellie Jean (my little bean) was born to my younger sister and brother, in August.

  
And she's wonderful, just like her cousin Lexi.


Who is getting so big, and will be a fantastic big sister this spring when her baby brothers arrive.


October 12th, 2013.  We made our promises in front of the people we love.
I became Mrs. Kara Guerra.  A lucky to lady to have this man and a fun new rhyming name.


And NOW.... We are excited to meet this little sprout of ours this August, 2014.

SO much GOOD.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Switching Gears.

I ride my bike around town a lot. Coasting downhills, easing up them, looking all around me... --as needed, I switch gears... it's freedom.

I stopped writing at the end of October. I was about to move to the farm. And I did. I moved. ...I started to.

I started to move to my family farm and something happened in me, --something that had been building in me for weeks. I was so lost, --trying to follow conflicting emotions in turn --at such a loss for direction. Those last weeks of my farm internship, this dream of mine was being realized --but I wasn't sure it was my dream anymore. I left work on Halloween night from one farm for the other. I was to spend my first night in my new home. My Grandparent's farmhouse waited empty for me. I was excited as I left, car full.

As a I drove through the sunsetting landscape, my excitement sank with the light. Driving into town, a place I loved to visit--where family was close by, friendly faces, memories, history, nostalgia, the farm, my dreams--all that brought me there. But what I felt was alone, unprepared and lost. This was a wonderful place and I was lucky to be there--but, as it turned out, I didn't believe it was where I belonged.

It was a difficult decision to make, and easy when I really listened to my feelings--the move didn't feel right. I couldn't help but feel the guilt and the failure. Ever lucky me though, I had/(have) the world's best-EVER support system. And with those truly amazing people and a little time, I found a path.

I've found home again in Minneapolis. I'm working towards a new kind of work for me, something I believe in. I will always grow things, I will always make things, and though you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, you can't take the Wisconsin out of the girl--I will always and forever be from Wisconsin-- but our neighbor, Minnesota, has found its own place in my heart (excepting their sports teams.) I have love here. And I have community that I've built here. And brand, shiny new dreams....

"For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

So here are a few things that I've been up to:

being--with family.
watching her grow--so fast.
skiing. Birkie #2 --and surprising myself.
catching my first ever, trout --magical.


And of course,
--making.
I just finished these lovely, reversible (I hope, super functional) dresses for some VERY special small ladies. (One has even yet to arrive!) The pattern is so fun and quick--I think I'll be making more soon as I know many deserving little ones. The Pattern is from Owly Baby, the Emma Dress.

I will sign off with a video that graces us with a way of thinking that makes me feel like nothing that can happen can be so bad... --if we just embrace gratitude...
I hope, --and I'm grateful.

May All Beings Be Happy

In safety and in bliss, may all beings be happy.
Whatever beings there may be, be they weak or strong,
Excepting none; short, tall or middle sized,
Large or small, seen or unseen,
Dwelling far or near, born or yet to be born,
May they all be happy.

- a Buddhist prayer

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anywhere.

As often it does, my favorite blog struck a cord with me here and now. Here's a link to SoulePapa's most recent post:

What I've Lost, What I've Found


Since introduced to it, I have always thought that I wanted this life that my favorite bloggers SouleMama, SoulePapa and their littles have led. Their blog is one of the things that inspired me to do the farm internship--that, and wanting to have a goat, work outside, homestead, be self-sufficient...

I've always wanted to use my hands while I use my brain, always a doodler--my high school English teacher gave me a pipe cleaner to form while I listened to the days lesson...
--But you go through life, you go through school, wondering what you should be, searching for that special spot you fill with what you've been given. When you pull out the things that you love most of all those gifts-- you start to see the direction you will go.

So I tried many majors in college.... in the end I studied Philosophy, I have always been obsessed with my own mind, the thoughts in it, those of others, what it all means, what is good, evil, ethical...? I found never-ending questions, no sure answers--and I found that I never want to stop learning, asking, seeking. I love the hunt and it is endless. I gathered a mindful of meaningful mystery.

But then there were my restless hands.

So I went to design school. To work my hands, to draw, to construct, to sew, to create something tangible--something achievable, something simple and useful and beautiful. I found skills, creativity, tools. I felt equipped. --And I went out into the world.

Then of course you must find work. You must share your knowledge, your skills, develop them--you must contribute, learn and contribute more. And you must make money... to support yourself, to support all of us working towards this one enormous greater good.

But it never felt right. The good wasn't the great ideal I had worked up inside me.
I am, to great impossible lengths, an idealist. A dreamer.

So I found it hard to settle in. Anywhere.

Now I've ended up here--done with an eye-opening, soul-sending-reeling experience that was all my own. This farm life was in fact, romanticized (yes, idealized.) I don't want SouleMama's life--or anyone else's. I want my own, wonderful life. What I wanted was the joy that she found in each day. And I had that. I have that. I have always had that. It's always been with me. And it seems so unbearably simple that it's incredibly hard to believe that I didn't realize it.

So now I move to the family farm--a long-time dream of mine, wrapped up in ideals. I intend to use the experience as one of continued learning for as long or as short as it might make sense. I will find joy there in the new experiences, as I will find it everywhere else I go, always. And I hope I go places I haven't even dreamt of and find joy in the most unexpected ways.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chickens in the City

Look at these cute chickens! Don't they look happy? These gals have a wonderful home in Minneapolis with my chicken-keeping friends that I think oh-so highly of.
They have a lovely coop...
delicious greens to eat...
All kinds of love.

And they have neighbors!
Another set of ladies who live a short walk away are cared for by some more awesome, chicken-keeping friends.
They also have a lovely coop...
and enjoy flocking together in the backyard.
Pretty lucky girls.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bur.

It's getting to where I can say it's cold now. (I am COLD. I feel a bit guilty about the word "cold," in my family, we prefer the term "refreshing..." --I am COLD.) Whether we're out in the wind harvesting or in the packing shed washing the harvest, there is a definite chill that sets into your bones. Living here as an intern, I have a bit of my ego wrapped up in being tough. ....but as I sit here, writing this in the very drafty, not heated or insulated granary --suddenly I hear rain --that's not going to help things. Wet and cold is, well, wet and cold. Wet and cold and having lifted crates full of root vegetables and tubers much of the day --that will knock you out. I'm caring less about my tough caliber and I'm more and more excited to be in comfort very very soon.

So let us remember warmer times.... Friday I de-cobbed corn. (Interested in making a corncob pipe? I have a source.) I found a new appreciation for corn flour. This antique de-cobber is amazing, but for any volume, very, very time consuming--I did this for 3 plus hours and made a small dent.
video
Lucky me though, there was NPR to listen to and lots to think about --and it may have been a monotonous task, but this corn is beautiful to look at...
This last one, it may as well be the fall-time sky.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Adventuring

Any good adventure story will make apparent that triumphant endings are just not triumphant at all if there is nothing to overcome. Scary, but exciting... the potential of the possibilities! And when you know all is well and right, it is oh so rewarding. This summer I've learned that some things are too important not to be patient for, too important to allow impulses. You just have to wait for things to grow into what they're going to be, through the sun and rain, there's no way to speed it up--life will take the time it needs. Patience is easy when you finally figure out what those important things really are. I am so happy to know what is most important to me. And happy for the journey behind and ahead, the clarity going forward and the adventure of it all.

I've found out that the most amazing thing about this planet, is the people that are on it.

This past weekend was again, full of these people. Staying with friends (the best--just the best people) in the city again I discovered a whole new part of Minneapolis I never knew existed in their neighborhood. It is full of incredible things all kinds of fantastic people are doing. I lived in Minneapolis for 5 years and learned I still have so much new to be inspired by--and I am. So here's a short tour of just some of what we saw during our bicycle travel --the best kind:
so many colorful murals telling stories
the work of an amazing program I would love to be involved in someday: Youth Farm
a new Fire Arts Center --I would love to try this
maybe the coolest, was Leonardo's Basement
I've never heard of this place before and it looked super cool. They teach kids about designing and building art with science and technology--I want in.

the random--I always love this stuff
I think it's a dinosaur?....

Lastly an afghan blanket bomb--a form of yarn-bombing I hadn't yet seen--very pretty.

People are just out there, doing inspiring things all the time. I aspire to be one of them.

Someone smart told me lately,
"Focus on what you want because if you focus on what you don't want, that's what you'll get." I'm ready to focus.