Early Books That Inspired My Path (fiction)

This is just the beginning. If you follow this blog, you will be immersed in book recommendations and reviews. Books have been a constant in my life since I was very little. One of my first memories is of my father’s bookshelf. I remember sitting in front of it for long periods of time, looking at the covers of his fantasy and science fiction books, wishing that I could read the stories that lie behind the covers. Years later, I spent hours lost in the landscapes found inside.

I will admit that I love fiction best. It is my guilty pleasure. My escape. My release from being a grown up with boring responsibilities like cleaning the house and paying bills. Although fantasy and sci-fi are great escapes, I do love novels with a message for my soul. Stories that teach and inspire are my favorites.

Weeks ago, I knew I had to write a piece about my books. I began to take notes as I remembered books from my past but never had time to sit down and write. Yesterday, I saw that one of my favorite authors just published a blog about books that inspired her. It is a completely different list than mine…you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite book list.

I will start with my list of fiction inspiration from my teen years. These are some of the books that have  inspired the way I think, feel, and move in the world. I suppose every book we read alters us a little. Every captivating story sinks into our soul and changes some aspect of ourselves. The books I read as a child should probably be mentioned too, as most of them involve magic of some kind, but I will save that for another day.

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury  Required reading in school and finally a story that resonated with my young, open eyes. This is the world we are becoming.  Books are banned. Media has taken over. Everyone walks around with ear buds. Walls of homes become flat screen televisions. Everything is faster. A character awakens to the truth…

“Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. see the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that . Shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.”  

…and the natural world becomes refuge…  “He stood breathing, and the more he breathed the land in, the more he was filled up with all the details of the land. He was not empty. There was more than enough here to fill him. There would always be more than enough.”   

As I look over the book again I find a highlighted quote, “When they give you lined paper, write the other way.”   This must have been my subconscious  mantra during my teen years.

 

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   WE by Evgeny Zamyatin – The original dystopian future novel. Citizens trade freedom for material comforts. People live in glass houses protected from the less civilized creatures of the world, sterile and safe. Heart and soul are replaced with logic and numbers. Characters wake up and think, wonder, suppose, and love. They are accused of “developing a soul”; a serious medical condition.

Brave New World, 1984, Level 7, Eye of the Heron, and Anthem- I’m going to clump these all together here. They are dystopian novels. They warn us of what could be if we as a society fail to open our eyes, and actively step up and lead ourselves and our fellow men into freedom.

 

books2The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield – This book, more than any other, altered my life.  I was a teen when I read it. My mother was dying of cancer and I was starting to believe  that my lack of faith in the fundamental Baptist religion that I was raised in  was not going to send my soul into a hell of eternal burning and “gnashing of teeth”.

The book is written simply so that “the masses” will “get it”.. However, it resonated with my young self on many levels. It is essentially about the shifting consciousness of the planet. The story follows an American who travels to Peru to search for  pieces of a mysterious, secret manuscript that contains ancient, spiritual wisdom. There are 9 insights that he discovers in the scattered manuscript. In summary, they are:

  1. A spiritual awakening is occurring in humans. We are realizing that there is more to our lives than everyday routines. Meaningful coincidences seem to be sending us messages and leading us in a certain direction.
  2. Here we take a long look at our history. We see how we left behind the mystical, the magic for a more scientific worldview.
  3. We live in a universe of dynamic energy not just a simple, material one. Every living thing has a field of energy we can sense and intuit.
  4. Humans consistently find themselves cut off from the greater source of energy and can feel weak and insecure. We sometimes manipulate others into giving us attention, thus their energy. The natural world is full of pure energy to give us.
  5. Learning how to connect with this divine energy benefits us and helps us grow. This insight teaches of mystical, or enlightened experiences one can have.
  6. We can learn to identify when we lose our inner connection. We find that we each have a particular pattern or “game” we play out to manipulate others. Our parents’ pattern greatly influenced ours. We learn to identify the  constant victim or poor me, aloof, critic, and intimidator.
  7. Dreams are significant on our path. They help us on our personal mission. Discovering that mission enhances the flow of coincidences, dreams, and intuitions.
  8. We can increase our intuition and guiding synchronicity by uplifting every person that we interact with. Learn to see the beauty in every person. It is especially important to truly see children.
  9. Humans will move into a higher energy state. As we all grow into helping each other so that no one is in survival mode anymore and can focus on their personal missions, we will all evolve.

I would recommend it for teens or people just starting down the path of spiritual awakening.

 

books3Mutant Message From Down Under by, Marlo Morgan- Another book that I read while quite young. It is an account of a lady who takes a journey with Australian Aborigines and bears witness to their simplistic, beautiful way of living in harmony with the natural world. It is a story, written simply. Aware  adults might criticize this book for many reasons. However, it touched me when I was at an influential age.

“Our words, our actions must constantly set the stage for the life we wish to lead.”  

 

books4Ishmael by Daniel Quinn- I still like this author. He has several other books written after this one that further explain his view. Ishmael is a simple book that teens can read. It involves a gorilla  teacher and a human pupil who take a look at the story of mankind.

“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will ACT like lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.” 

This book describes how society has enslaved us in an unnatural state of existence since the beginning of the agricultural revolution with a story. The story tells us that we are separate from the natural world. That we need to build walls and use the natural world for our survival and comfort. It is a warning that we need to adopt a new story for humankind before it is too late.

“You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live… I think there are many among you who would be glad to release the world from captivity… This is what prevents them: They’re unable to find the bars of the cage.”  

 

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Spirit Song by, Mary Summer Rain- This book is labeled as fiction. It is supposed to be a true account of Mary’s mentorship with a blind Chippewa medicine woman named No Eyes. Mary was her last student and was handed down much native wisdom involving the spirit and the earth. She has several other books which follow Spirit Song.

I must have been around 18 when I started reading Mary Summer Rain’s books. They were my introduction to native shamanism, wild crafting, herbal medicine, and dream work. I enjoyed them much more than Carlos Castaneda’s books; they were easier to digest and resonated with me in a way his did not.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

Forget Disneyland, Give me Raw Earth

The Red River Gorge. The name itself gets my heart pumping faster and fiercer!  I was first introduced to this wondrous place in Kentucky when I was 18 years old. That was over half a lifetime ago. Pre-motherhood, I would drive the 3 hours to “The Gorge” whenever I could. Some months, it would be every weekend. Hot summer days, gorgeous autumn weekends, cold and snowy nights… It was my sanctuary and my playground.

My Gorge was filled with climbing, caving, dangerous heights, and pushing my body to keep up with my thrilled spirit! Days spent hiking/climbing rigorous trails that left me speechless and empty of thought at the top… Meditation at it’s finest. Nights under stars, watching storms from recess caves, under waterfalls, where the Adena Indians once slept…At one with all.

Now I am a mother of teenagers. I did spend time at The Gorge when my 3 kiddie cats were little, on the low trails, frolicking with butterflies. We slept in a tent.  But my soul and body craved more. I craved My Gorge. Now that 2 of my children are teens, I am able to go re-wild! Re connect. This month, I took my 15 year old daughter on her first backpacking trip there, sleeping in a recess cave. It was my son’s second trip. We now live almost 5 hours away in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Still, nothing compares.

Some teens just crave adventure and risk taking. A way to escape the insanity of  schooling and anxiety of becoming an adult in a monotonous, pointless society. Some teens turn to drugs and alcohol and reckless behavior to find it.  My children have found it in roughing it in the wild.  They have found it in Their Gorge.

Camping in itself is always a great family bonding experience.  Backpacking  all of your gear down a crevice with class 5 climbing moves  into a recess cave AKA “rock house” to spend the night safe from the windstorm picking up, can lead to serious bonding.  Building a “wall” to protect us from the dust waves during the windstorm was a good time.  My daughter providing relief (to me AND her brother and uncle) in the form of sparkling, peppermint lotion and lemon lip balm as our skin dried up like prunes in the dusty wind, was hilarious.

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This is the view  from my sleeping bag in a secret rock house.  In the summer, it is an amazing feeling with the cool air from the rocks catching the warm breezes as you settle in your nest just as the birds do.  This time it got down to 30 degrees.  We have pretty decent sleeping bags but it wasn’t the most comfortable night…and our toothpaste was frozen in the morning.

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Chimney climb                                    Half Moon rock scramble

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Indian Stairway (handholds carved by native Americans long ago) and a crevice leading to a cave on top of a mountain called Cloud Splitter.

And then there’s The River Cave…. What a rush, what a feeling, deep down in the earth…pitch black. Working your body in ways it has never been worked before…twisting, and climbing, and slithering… wet, damp, cool, quiet… knowing that pounds and pounds of earth sit above you… people hike far above you… Truly in the heart of the earth, you can feel it beat… hear your own join in sync….

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…and then the moment you see the light at the end…feel a warm breeze touch your cheek… and see the climb out… do you really want to leave this sacred space to rejoin the rest of the world?

 

 

Wild Violet Syrup and Dandelion Pancakes with Children

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Roses are red, violets are…well… purple! Although they can also be white with delicately thin purple stripes on their petals. Wild violets, also called Common Blue Violets, are one of the first flowers of spring and one of the few that many children can identify. The heart shaped leaves of the violet make it easy to find even when they are not flowering. They grow in shady, moist areas in most of the United States and are quite a nutritious, healing treat for our bodies.
Violet’s rich color in the spring, draws our attention downwards, towards the earth.  Children, being much  closer to the earth, are naturally attracted to these flowers.   I have watched countless children use violets to make  “magic flower medicine”  during their play.  How delighted they are when they learn that they can pick the  blossoms and eat them!
Wild violet blossoms and leaves are full of vitamin C  and assist the liver in producing vitamin A. Like the spring rain, violet moistens and cools, acting as a gentle laxative for children. Dry throats are soothed with violet tea and the pain of boils and burns is relieved with a poultice made from the leaves.
Wild Violet Syrup Recipe
On a dry, spring day, bring the children in your lives to an area where wild violets are flourishing. Guide them to pick the flowers gently and gather them in a basket.  Make certain that the land is chemical free and far from a road. Don’t worry about picking too much as the purple blossoms of the violet are not it’s reproductive part. You can pick violet syrup2as many blossoms as you like, and it does not hurt the plant at all; it just grows more blossoms!  I try to pick enough to fill a pint sized Mason jar.
When home, fill a glass jar with the violets. If you have any left over, throw them in a salad! Cover the blossoms with boiling water and let sit overnight to infuse. Strain the violets the next day and you will have a pretty, deep blue liquid. To each cup of  the violet extract, let a child add ½ of the juice of a lemon and watch the magic! The blue water turns bright pink!!! Add 2 cups of organic sugar (per cup of extract) and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and keep simmering until it is thickened (about 10 minutes). Pour into a glass jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Now that you have this delightful syrup recipe, you are going to need something to drizzle it on. What better food to place under syrup than pancakes!?  Dandelion pancakes, that is! Dandelions bloom all summer, but are most abundant during spring. dandlieo
Dandelions have been my favorite flower since I was a child. They are like small sunshines gracing the green grass with happiness. They are also one of the first flowers of spring that children are allowed to pick with abandon. The bright yellow flowers are usually used to paint their faces and arms or made into crowns fit for a fairy queen!  These amazing blossoms are also a wonderful source of nutrition.
All parts of dandelions are edible.  The leaves contain iron, calcium, vitamin C as absorbic acid, vitamin   K, and the vitamin B complex.  The blossoms in tea have been known to help with headaches, stomachaches, and menstrual cramps. Applied to the chests of young girls with developing breasts, dandelion compresses can help relieve the soreness.  Herbalists also use all parts of the dandelion to help support those with depression. calliop
Dandelion Pancake Recipe

Harvest a  full  jar of flowers after the morning dew has dried. Share with the children that bees love dandelions, too!  Be sure that when harvesting you  leave a few for them, especially in early spring when there aren’t many other types of blossoms available.
Ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat flour,   3 tsp baking powder,   ¼ tsp sea salt ,  ¾ tsp cinnamon,  1 Tbsp powdered flax seed,  3 Tbsp water,   ¾ cup soy milk , 2 Tbsp applesauce, 1 tsp vanilla extract,  dandelion blossoms
Pull the dandelion blossoms out of the green base of the flower so that there are many little petals. Mix together all dry ingredients first, then add all of the wet ingredients.  ddanddnBlend together until smooth.  Pour batter onto a hot griddle and sprinkle with extra flower petals.  Cook until tops are bubbling and then flip. You can sprinkle this side with petals if you wish, too. Cook until golden brown.
You can always throw dandelion petals into ANY pancake recipe, as well as muffin and cookie batter!
Enjoy foraging for wild foods with the young ones in your life! You will be giving them quite a gift as they connect with the plants that grow on their earth in such a practical way.

*This article was used by Kristen Taylor of  Bee Green Foods in her  Wild Edible Online Course in 2015. Check her website out! She makes the most delicious, healthy chocolates and more!!!

New Beginnings

 

Out here it all falls away. I become myself again among the mosses. My mind begins to rest as my heart is free to bloom. There is always a feeling of coming home when I enter the forest.

I feel the lines on my face soften. My senses awaken. As my eyes take in my surroundings, I am filled with awe. The delicate gills of the white mushroom, the tiny snail slowly crawling up the tree, lichen glowing against the dark logs leaves me spellbound. Words are hard to formulate when I am in the midst of such beauty.

The wind gently plays with my hair and brushes my cheek, softer than any lover. Sunlight finds it’s way between the pine boughs and sinks into my being. And the trees…

Should I put my pen down? The trees have no words. Our language isn’t rich enough to describe what the trees whisper to my soul. It can only be heard with the heart.

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After much prompting (from friends and spirit), I am beginning a blog. I don’t know how it will go as  I have very little free time! I also tend to wait until I have something perfect to say to begin writing. I wanted to wait until I was in the right frame of mind to write my first blog ever to begin this. BUT, I still have to memorize songs and verses for my class tomorrow, put away laundry for the coming week, and pack lunches tonight. This coming week, besides working, I have to take my oldest to get her drivers permit, take 2 kids to the dentist, stay late for a staff meeting, and prepare for a backpacking trip for my son’s birthday next weekend. Whew!

There is never a “perfect” time in my life! I am finally realizing that that is okay. I am raising 3 kiddos alone and impacting the world in my own way through teaching and being fully present in my life. My blog will reflect this because it is my truth. I am a busy mommy, teacher, adventurer, wildcrafting, wool working,  light spreading, warrior!