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I’m new here…

“I’m new here”

These words illicit an enormous amount of fear and vulnerability for me.  As a young child we moved often;  as a result, walking through new experiences today takes effort, courage and faith. Let me tell you a quick story giving an example that I am not alone in what I need in these situations!

Recently Michael and I shared the day with a wonderful group at our Matching Pictures Workshop.  During one of the communication exercises a guest shared her experience attending a new yoga studio.  On her arrival she announced to the desk staff, “I’m new here.” The desk staff smiled and continued on with her duties.  She thought she shared that she was needing information, connection, and comfort, yet her perception was the receptionist was not very helpful.  woman on yoga matThe check-in process involved one of the new-fangled touch pads and there weren’t any directional signs for changing rooms or lockers. She announced again, “I have never been here before, how do I sign in?” Rather than explain how to sign in the receptionist walked to the front of the counter and quickly completed the sign in for her. Our friend expressed to us her feeling of embarrassment at this point in the interaction.  She then asked the woman where she should put her stuff during class. The desk staffer waved her arm in the direction of the wall of cubbies. So while this is an extreme example of “losing strategies” it is one worth sharing.  It is indicative of the daily conversations we have, in our heads and out loud with others that do not meet our needs.

The point of the exercise  at our workshop was  to show that we sometimes engage in “losing strategies” when we communicate, we make statements rather than asking for what we need. Our guest was able to relate how she did not get her needs met because she did not make a specific request. Part of Compassionate Communication is learning to identify what we are feeling and needing and making an appropriate request in order to get our needs met.

So here is the cool part. For those not aware I am a yoga teacher as well. I would like to think I am  a gracious and attentive teacher and host, especially in the yoga studio. And as I shared above, when it comes to new experiences I am very sensitive and empathetic to people’s vulnerability in  trying things for the first time. The next morning I was at the Connecticut Yoga Center preparing to teach my Sunday morning class and 3 new people arrived!  It was one of the students very first yoga class ever! The young woman walked up to the counter and said “I have never been here before.” My heart smiled! The example from our guest the day before was so fresh in my mind that I knew exactly what this new yoga student needed! She was making a  statement rather than asking for  what she needed- information, connection and comfort but because of my own practice with Compassionate Communication I was able to identify that.  I went around to the front of the counter and with a smile I explained to her how to sign in, then I took her by the arm, led her to the studio, showed her where everything was, and helped her set up her mat.  The look of relief and peace on her face indicated to me that her needs were met.

Helping the new woman sign in and feel comfortable at the yoga studio was the most important yoga I could have practiced that morning; connecting with another human being through empathy. Yoga means union, we are one, we feel the same feelings, we experience the same fears and joys. Compassionate Communication has taught me to express my needs appropriately so that I have the best opportunity in getting my needs met. It also teaches me to listen with empathy for the needs of others so that I may be of service in times of need.


Summer Bounty

It occurred to me that it is October.  My last post was some time in June. It’s like I totally disappeared during the summer. I wanted to share our humble attempts at urban homesteading – because we work full time, have a child in High school and want people to know it is possible to live a little more sustain-ably without a lot more effort.


A gift basket we were able to give

My “real” job is Move Coordinator for large school construction projects, which entails me working mostly during summers and during school vacations. It’s cool, I am used to it now. However…when you have a ginormous garden, several types of farm animals and keep bees, blogging about all of it takes a backseat.

We had some awesome successes and of course we made a few mistakes, harvesting things too soon for fear of “losing” the crop – which in this case we missed an entire second season of green bean growing because we pulled our plants out when we were expecting the crop to run out but because of our extremely hot summer but there was an entire second growth of green beans!

Our biggest success this summer was in canning.  We canned tomatoes, cukes, green beans, peaches, pears, apples, grape jelly and on and on. And yes, we had to do it almost every day.  But it was a choice we made. My awesome husband is so great at his “stickwithedness”, he would stay up sometimes until midnight finishing up the pressure canning before he went to bed. This was our biggest “goal” for our harvest – putting food by.

Mid summer harvest

Our first week of canning was a success!

Another disappointment was in our rabbit harvest.  We raise meat rabbits, and our kindles were very small this year. One in July with just four kits surviving, and another in September with just one kit surviving.  This was a “build-up” year for us, establishing a good set of Does – ideally six – so we did not intend to harvest all of them anyway – but we discovered after some research that the male sperm count gets really low during extreme heat. So even though we gave them shady, breezy, cool areas it was incredibly hot this summer. Not great for sperm production I guess. You learn something new every year.  So we have two new does to add to the mix, Fanny and Bandita. We are up to four. When we have six we will only breed them twice a year so they don’t “burn out”. This staggered schedule lengthens their life and is a much gentler breeding schedule.  Ultimately we want to be producing about 40 lbs of rabbit meat per litter x 6, that’s 240 lbs of rabbit a year- the plan is to keep the freezer full.

Our sweet potatoes TOOK OFF this year – apparently they LOVE heat! We will harvest those soon, probably late October and are hoping for somewhere around 300 lbs of sweet potatoes.  We also planted a five Butternut squash plants, and then had a few ‘volunteer” plants, so as of today we have about 40 butternut squash, all seasoned well and will keep for the whole winter!  Oddly we only had one zucchini plant, and it only gave us 4 zucchini! And no pumpkins…not even a volunteer.

sweet potatoes

The sweet potato garden

Our fall crops are exceptional! Fennel, turnips, beets, rutabaga, Swiss chard and of course the kale is in it’s prime. Our herb garden flourished, with the exception of our Rosemary – which did not grow. Not. One. Bit.


My personal favorite, spring clover honey.

We added three hives to our original two this year. Of those three, one survived and is super healthy! We extracted about 40 pounds of spring clover honey, and we will extract about 80 pounds of summer honey pretty soon.

Our laying hens are doing great! We added seven for a grand total of ten now and they are all laying the most beautiful rainbow of eggs every day.  My honey built them the grandest hen house this summer. Safe, winterized, easily cleanable and mobile!

Hen house

Dad is almost done with the coop for his girls!


Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

The asparagus and strawberries were wonderful. Our newly planted blueberries made it through the hot summer by the skin of their teeth – we shall see how they fare through the winter.

It is a daily love, like having another child that never grows up. But we love our little homestead – what I am even more grateful for is our children love our little farm.  Together we were able to participate in the restoration of our environment, our own health and be more in touch with the rhythm of the seasons.  It is truly a blessing! We could not do any of it without the pure grace of God. Truly, we depend on it.


Late summer brunch

We do it all so we can enjoy plates like this. Sauteed kale, Sweet potato hash, over medium eggs and sliced tomatoes. Yes please!