“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” -John Muir

Hello friends,

(If you’re interested in the long version, aka, me spilling my guts and rambling about life’s lessons, click here. If you like things short and sweet, I am your worst nightmare.  But I have tried my very best here! But I really suck at keeping things short. So I guess I’ll beg – Will you please read this in entirety???) :)

This summer I have decided to pursue an interest of mine, which I’ve pretty much always had, but never had the courage or the wherewithal to do.  June-August 2014 I will be participating in a 3-month internship with an outdoor leadership and wilderness education company called Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM). There are three phases of the internship:

1) An 80-hour course, where I will earn a certification as a Wilderness First Responder.

2) The 40/40 Expedition. 40 days and 40 nights where I will be a student, where skills and experience are gained in backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, group dynamics and leadership. This will take place near Laramie, Wyoming.

3) I transition from being a student to being an intern, shadowing instructors who are paid guides on different trips throughout the remainder of the summer. This will take me to places like the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or the Grand Tetons.

When I discovered the program I knew right away I wanted to do it.  I had been looking up wilderness education programs for weeks last summer and almost gave up, figuring it was financially impossible. 80-90 day courses are between $12,500 and $15,000. The SROM 40/40 Course & Internship is $6,350.  Relatively speaking, this was a deal I couldn’t refuse. Also, the reason I am looking into outdoor education to begin with is because I want to become a qualified candidate to apply for wilderness therapy jobs.  SROM has more to offer than just acquisition of wilderness skills.  It is a values based program, with a focus on the symbolism and significance of “wilderness” in spiritual growth and formation, as well as a focus on authentic community, leadership development, the reward or risk, true education, and more great aspects. Most important to me, however, it that it is a relationship oriented program, and this is preferable to me because the reason I am looking into outdoor education to begin with was because I wanted to become a qualified candidate to apply for wilderness therapy jobs.  My experience teaching junior high and my immense love for those kids, my love for the outdoor work on the farm, the love for my recent  adventures in Wilderness Travel Course through the Sierra Club, and my enjoyment of my current job as a case-worker at a court ordered placement group home for delinquent teen boys and my love for these boys as well, are all great indicators to me that this is not a pipe dream, and I can really make this happen.

For three months I worked two jobs, seven days a week, and made myself a tight budget in order to invest in the gear needed for this trip, which costs over $2,500. Adding this to the tuition cost resulted in quite the daunting number. Fortunately, SROM has scholarship availability. However, in order to apply for a scholarship one also has to fundraise (which is awkward). They even request a general copy of the letter being sent out and a list of who it’s being sent to.  It’s more than humbling to ask people who I know are themselves struggling financially, to contribute to something I dream of doing.  I’ve been working hard to get a good chunk of this paid for myself, but it’s been tricky…even though I signed up for this last August, I decided in January it’d probably be a smarter, wiser move for me to stop this rolling stone business and put down roots.  So I quit that second job I had.  Why kill myself if I wasn’t saving for SROM? But a few weeks ago – it just hit me – I had to do it.  I emailed SROM that second and within minutes I heard back that, amazingly, although my spot was filled when I dropped out, someone had just dropped out days before.  There was one spot, but they were interviewing someone for it tomorrow. I secured it right then, and it truly felt like the right move for my life.

If you find within yourself a desire to contribute, anything will help. Seriously. In any case, thanks for reading, and hey, at least you got to catch up on me a little bit more. :)

Here’s the theme song of my life right now. So beautiful! ENJOY :)

Lots and lots of love to you!
Bethany Carreon

Click here if you can and want to help me out a bit. And very important: My Invoice Number is “INV-249″

“God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.” -John Muir

Amen brother.

Let me tell you all a story.  Gosh…I think it’s the story of my life. some of it. so far. (P.S. I’m listening to Explosions in the Sky’s third album, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. It’s a mighty nice soundtrack to go along with writing this. Wanna listen?)

When I was little, I remember wanting to be a couple things when I grew up, just like you. What were they, you ask? Why, a Native American Indian or a Pioneer-Settler, of course!  While we’re at it, let’s add that bad ass chick Karana, from Island of the Blue Dolphins, and her bad ass wild dog friend, Rontu. I remember vividly my repeated pretend play outside: I lived in the forest by myself, sometimes with my brothers and sisters, and had to go collect water, leaves and berries every day to survive. And of course, flowers to decorate my rustic log cabin. So anyway, when I grew up and got to college and everyone offered the advice of, “Think back to what you wanted to be when you were little,” my career aspirations didn’t help me much.

I was a very insecure child, teenager and young adult throughout my 20′s. I was very lost. I didn’t know who I was.  Do I now?  Do any of us?  Well, I see and know a-whole-freagin-lot more than I did 5 years ago.  God/the universe/life nearly killed me. Have you ever heard the quote, “Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn your lesson.” Oooooooh!  Whaddya know – I just googled it and it’s the 10th law of karma: The essence of this law states that “history repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.”  So yeah, God/the universe/life nearly killed me by bashing my head against the same horrible experience. But I’ve learned some pretty good lessons.  And I am trying to live out of them right now. In that way life right now is incredibly new and unique for me, because these lessons are freshly learned. Very new and never worn and lived out of…before now.

When I was young, I had eczema, a skin disorder. I think it’s an auto-immune thing. I’ve grown out of it, for the most part, though I may always have sensitive skin. But when I was little, it was pretty bad, and I don’t have any memories without it. In my very first memories, I was in shame. I was embarrassed. I was different. I was ugly. I wasn’t like everyone else. I was grosser than everyone else. And I would always be this way – this was who I am. I let it define me. I thought I was the runt of the litter, because I also lucked out with big ears and a birthmark.  I don’t give a rats ass about them now, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t always cock my head to the left so my hair would hang over the side of my face with the birthmark. I was constantly trying to hide. Hide my face. Hide my legs. This kinda thing doesn’t stay isolated – it translates to your whole self, you’re whole life. Shame. I lived in shame and didn’t realize how much. I was trying to hide my very core, so afraid that if people saw how ugly it was, I would never be loved.  I was doomed. And this was the subconscious nebulae that existed in me, that a person is formed from.  There’s plenty more than just what I mentioned here, that goes into my shame and the dysfunction I live with. But this info will suffice.

In my last therapy session… And really, who’s NOT in therapy? Oh you? You should be in therapy. You can go to mine. She might be the best in the world. I’ve referred gazillions of people to her, and all votes are in. She’s the best. Hit me up if you need one. She’s worth the drive. So anyway, in my last therapy session, I said I felt trapped blah blah blah. She says, “That word ‘trapped’ sounds like it’s coming from a little girl.” I sat in silence, just seeing if what she said meant anything. My eyes were already closed because we were doing some sort of exercise. Moments passed, and she was about to move on when she saw me flinch.  –Oh people, I am not a cryer. In fact, I need to cry more. I wish I COULD, but I can’t very easily. Once, I stabbed myself in the hand, on accident, when I was trying to dig the stem out of an apple. There was a lot going on in life, lots of pain, but being that I don’t cry much…it all stayed inside of me. Holy shit. I cried for so long and so hard. And not because my hand hurt. It was just a release, and once the floodgates opened due to a knife going an inch deep into the tissue between my thumb and my pointer finger, my soul was able to cry out its pains too. It was such a relief. It felt so good to cry it out. i probably felt like I lost 500 pounds. It was the best day of the summer. Hah! The funny thing is, I’m so serious. So anyway, back to therapy, she saw me flinch. — “What’s that?”  she asked. And, it’s hard to describe, but, my chest cavity was replaced with that of a tiny girl who felt sad and alone, less than human, unloved, and who had a rash. The same little girl who had a clear vision of how her life would go: the following was a repeated “knowledge” she had, or daydream if you will. One day a boy would fall in love with her when she was grown, and ask her to marry him. But she always wore pants, because she was hiding. She could trick the world into thinking she wasn’t less than human, but only if she could hide the disgustingness on her legs. The boy never saw her legs. She couldn’t possibly trick him any longer and only show him on their wedding night. So she showed him her rash, and he said to her, “Thank you for showing me that before you said yes. We can’t get married.” And he walked away.  She was devastated, but she understood. That’s why she showed him, after all; she figured as much.

This was my lot in life, I deeply believed as a child. This sort of belief, and others like it, were part of the nebulae of hopelessness and despair I was formed in, the cloud of particles and dust that are slowly pulled together by the gravity of time and experience, forming a person. We were all formed in our own nebulae, and that was one aspect of mine.

Back in Cynthia’s office, that flinch she saw on my face soon became a torrent of tears and gasps. And dammit! I don’t cry. But I couldn’t catch my breath. And when I finally did, and calmed down, she asked me to help her understand what just happened. The words inside me were, “I Never Felt Like I Had Any Options.” The script of my life was written.  I wouldn’t be loved. So I wouldn’t get happiness. I was definitely less than everyone else.  There was no point to have dreams for life. I didn’t dream of life or my future.  Ever.  Cynthia reminded me of my strengths and progress, and simply said, “I know you have it in you to figure out what options you DO indeed have.” The morning after this session is when I emailed SROM.  But that doesn’t make sense to you yet. You just have to read on.

So, you know that first paragraph I wrote? Those things should have been indicators to me of my authentic self’s interests and passions. You know, after high school I landed in a perfect place for me, a place that was really aligned with my core and my desires. Humboldt State University.  Beautiful Humboldt County. Redwoods. Ocean. Amazing! Outdoorsey people. Hikers. Campers. Backpackers. But I was too insecure. And my story was written. I wasn’t like them, as much as I wanted to be them. I was less than them. And I cowered. – “Them.” – It was no one specific, just the idea of the happy, brave and adventurous outdoorsey wilderness lover and explorer.

I had an intense and life-changing experience of God and his immense love in the redwoods that year. A very real and authentic experience. It was pivotal. I had been feeling depressed for a while, and a boy from the dorm next door who I had a huge crush on, had just died in a motorcycle accident 11 days earlier. I walked into the woods incredibly depressed, not knowing what to do with my life. I walked out of the woods feeling brand new.  Happy and light. And hopeful. I was known, and seen, and loved. AND, I realized that I wanted to work at an Outdoor Science Camp! I walked out of those woods knowing one thing I was interested in, that I could do with my life and be happy doing. At the time, I was pretty agnostic, and had all sorts of ideas about reincarnation and maybe there’s no God, etc, etc.  This experience made me believe not only is there an immense Being of Love, but also, it’s personal. Within months I was the most gung ho Catholic you had ever met (unless you went to Steubenville. I was on the lower tier of gung-ho-ness there. Thanks be to God. Mine was bad enough.) Don’t misunderstand me you Christ lovers! I love Logos too. I can admit that I love Logos, and the amazing, massively mysterious Being who is the Creator. But yeah, I have to admit, I am bitter at Catholicism, or my experience of it anyway. Let me explain.

My experience of God in the redwoods that day was very authentic. It was amazing.  But the faith that ensued was hijacked by my woundedness.  I left the woods that day, after my experience with God, knowing what I wanted to do.  But instead, I latched onto my new found faith to be a safety net, another mask to hide behind. And I kept hiding from my life. It was very subconscious, and I didn’t know I was doing it. The fault is mine and not God’s. Not the Church’s. But it’s a damn shame. Here I am, weeks before my 32nd birthday, and just starting to move in the direction of the realm of Outdoor Experience/Education. The farm was my first step in the right direction. Thank God for Green Edge Gardens – how I love you!

During my 20′s I studied Theology and went back for a Master’s that I paid for but never even finished because I finally realized I didn’t want to do it – whatever “it” even was. Teach, do Youth Ministry, become a nun. I don’t even know what my logic was in my 20′s. Holy hell. The logic of the lost and confused. And the logic of the hider. Anyway, I am now $ 40,000 in debt for that shit. When it was never what I wanted to do.  The faith, for me, became another thing to hide behind. It was hijacked by my wounded, scared, insecure, ashamed self. I need time to heal from that dysfunctional relationship before I can come back to it. But I’m not worried. And I tell you what, neither is God. But I do want to make it clear, to all my friends from FUS and Catholic land. I’m not trying to say it was all bad.  I’m just highlighting the unhealthiness of what my subconscious did. Lot’s of good came from my 20′s, and from being where I was that got me $40,000 in debt. Every single beautiful relationship, for example.  You, my friends from that time, are worth every penny. I love you and thank you for being with me in my journey of life.

I read two awesome quotes recently, that really spoke to me: “Life is meant to be lived with excitement. Follow your passion. Let the moment be alive. The world is waiting for your joy.” The other quote is: “It is only by you being you that you will find authenticity in your life. Once you start living the authentic you, everything starts to fall into place in your life.” I just really think the authentic me is….outside. And in nature. Living simply. The life most of us live doesn’t make sense to me.  Somehow it doesn’t compute. But touching the earth…I’m happiest there. And life makes more sense. And for a long time I chastised myself for that. I thought I was lazy and looking for a vacation. I felt like, “Bethany, wake the fuck up. You can’t expect to just freeload in life, and live your life outside! What are you, lazy and entitled or something?” But people DO.  Maybe I can make a living that way too. I’m at least gunna try, dagnabbit. And no, you’re not lazy and entitled, sweet Bethany! Your favorite job in life so far has been hauling around 40-90 pounds of vegetables, and shoveling compost and raking soil into beds, dunking vegetables into water for hours on end, sometimes in below freezing temps! Building greenhouses and raised beds!  That’s the thing – I love labor. I do.  Hahahaaaaa!!!  I remember driving in high school and looking down at my wrists and my hands on the steering wheel and thinking, “These hands were made for labor, for farmin’, for being a farmer’s wife.” – It’s amazing! I have always had this leaning….to nature, to simple and rustic living…and I never understood LA and OC or any other city or suburb for that matter. It’s just that I never knew how to listen to that proclivity in me, or understand what it meant.  Or rather, these other voices were too loud telling me their own story of truth for me to hear.

Sooooooo!!!  Actual point of the blog (besides telling you a story) is as follows!

This summer I have decided to pursue an interest of mine which, as you can see, I’ve pretty much always had, but didn’t understand because it was buried under a couple decades of shame, insecurities, fear, sadness, hopelessness, et-freakin-cetera.   Only now do I have the courage, self-knowledge or self-possession to go for it. 31, you have been the hardest year of my life, and catapulted me in the greatest direction. 28, you did the same. 28 shot me off into the farm. 31 is shooting me off into the wilderness!

June 2014 I will be participating in a 3-month internship with an outdoor leadership and wilderness education company called Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM). There are three phases of the internship:

1) The first 10 days consist of an 80-hour course, where I will earn a certification as a Wilderness First Responder.

2) The 40/40 Expedition. 40 days and 40 nights where I will be a student, gaining skills and experience in backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, group dynamics and leadership. This will take place in Wyoming.

3) I transition from being a student to being an intern, shadowing instructors who are paid guides on different trips throughout the remainder of the summer. This will take me to places like the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or the Grand Tetons.

When I discovered the program I knew right away I wanted to do it.  I had been looking up wilderness education programs for weeks last summer and almost gave up, figuring it was financially impossible. 80-90 day courses through programs like NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) are between $12,500 and $15,000. The SROM 40/40 Course & Internship is $6,350.  It is a Christian ministry, interestingly enough, and even though I am primarily interested in the outdoor training and experience, this being the least expensive one, BY FAR, I just had to go for it.  If anyone is familiar with Wyoming Catholic College, which has as requirements for graduation things such as: two 20 day backpacking trips, four 10 day trips, and equestrian experience (how amazing!), they use SROM guides to lead all their trips. So SROM has more to offer than just acquisition of wilderness skills.  It is a values based program, with a focus on the symbolism and significance of “wilderness” in spiritual growth and formation, as well as a focus on authentic community, leadership development, the reward or risk, true education, and more great aspects.

Most important to me, however, it that it is a relationship oriented program, and this is preferable to me because the reason I am looking into outdoor education to begin with was because I wanted to become a qualified candidate to apply for wilderness therapy jobs.  My experience teaching junior high and my immense love for those kids, my love for the outdoor work on the farm, the love for my recent  adventures in Wilderness Travel Course through the Sierra Club, and my enjoyment of my current job as a case-worker at a court ordered placement group home for delinquent teen boys and my love for these boys as well, are all great indicators to me that this is not a pipe dream, and I can really make this happen.

And you know, it may not. I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll end up working in the mail room of some company (which, oddly enough, believe it or not, has always been something I thought I’d like to do.  Post Office work. Weird, I know.) But, all I see is what’s right in front of me – and this is a possibility that for the first time in my life I am believing in for myself and embracing and going for.  And the thing is, I need help.

For three months I worked two jobs, seven days a week, and made myself a tight budget in order pay for the tuition and invest in the gear needed for this trip, which costs over $2,500. Adding this to the tuition cost resulted in quite the daunting number. Fortunately, SROM has scholarship availability, which I applied for. However, in order to apply for a scholarship one also has to fundraise (which is awkward). They even request a general copy of the letter being sent out and a list of who it’s being sent to.  It’s more than humbling to ask people who I also know are themselves probably struggling financially, to contribute to something I dream of doing.  I was working hard to get a good chunk of this paid for myself, but it’s been tricky…  –> Even though I signed up for this last August, I decided in January that it was probably a smarter, wiser move for me to stop this “rolling stone” business and put down roots.  But just a few weeks ago, life circumstances combined with my passion for personal growth and being true to myself, along with my passion for the wilderness brought about something. Remember that therapy session?  The next day it just hit me – I had to do this.  I emailed SROM that second and within minutes I heard back that, amazingly, although my spot was filled when I dropped out, someone had just dropped out days before; there was one spot, but they were interviewing someone for it tomorrow. I secured it right then, and it truly felt like it is the right move for my life.

I found out a couple days ago that I was awarded a scholarship for $2,540.00. I was so surprised at my reaction.  I wept and wept and wept. I had woken up so worried that morning, that I was making a bad decision, I was just hiding again, this was unwise and I was a fool. I became so worried about the finances and it seemed impossible. I was afraid I would’t get a scholarship, and then shame came a’knocking at my door and I felt like I couldn’t possibly fundraise – I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. This is just a flawed move – I don’t want anyone to see my flaws. Just like I never wanted anyone to see the flaws on my skin that was my rash. I had gone to bed happy and peaceful, and excited, thinking about SROM. But I woke up to so much anxiety in the morning. Then came the news of the scholarship, and I wept and wept and wept.

And something changed in me. I obviously don’t want to hide anymore. Here is my naked soul for all to read. I felt encouraged, emboldened on the right path. EVEN IF I END UP WORKING IN A MAILROOM.  Who cares. This is what I am going for.

If you find within yourself a desire to contribute, anything will help. Seriously. Anything. In any case, thanks for reading, and hey, at least you got to catch up on me a little bit more. :)

Here’s the theme song of my life right now. It’s so beautiful. ENJOY!

Lots and lots of love to you!
Bethany Carreon

Click here if you can and want to help me out a bit. And very important: My Invoice Number is “INV-249″

Part 2: The Quest for Meaning

“So… your adventures are over.” 

“Oh, no. To live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.”

Yes, yes.  I just quoted the movie Hook.  It is what has been in my mind though, in regards to all that I shall write about.  It is meaningful to me.  Maybe you will see why.

This decision happened soon after my last blog.  Over a month ago, now.  I just felt like I needed to sit with it for a while.  But people have been asking here and there, so I should let it be known.

Turns out, I won’t be going to Brazil after all.  Hmmmmm…..  I think the best way to explain will be to basically say what I told Heart’s Home.  Below I am copying the email I wrote to them.  Edited, though – mostly I added clarifying info.  But, as a nutshell, to those of you not interested in reading too much (but anyone interested in woundedness, psychology, the subconscious, the working of the human heart and mind, and how Christianity can be hijacked by woundedness and evil, read it.  You may find it interesting…):  I am 30 years old.  I have been roaming around from place to place, from job to job, from experience to experience, all of my adult life.  I have never felt a desire to stay anywhere.  There was always a feeling like Tom Petty’s song: “It’s time to move on, time to get goin’, and what lies ahead I have no way of knowin’.”  And I would look for the next thing that felt right.  Well, since fall and winter, I have grown to love it here more and more: my job, my coworkers, my friends;  I am in love with the nature here, the simplicity here, the culture here.  It took me a while to notice because I had never felt it before, but, I had a desire to stay put.  “Whoa!?  What?”  I’ve never felt that before.  And I was too scared to trust it at first because – well…  I can’t quite articulate why, actually.  But it was.   And I had to have a total breakdown of sorts in order to hear this part of me, which caused a pair of scales to fall from my eyes.

The following is a more detailed explanation of this decision, which I sent to my friends at Heart’s Home.

I am writing this email to tell you about some further discernment that has happened within me.  I shared, with you N., a little bit on the phone, when you asked how I was doing and what I was thinking, where my heart was, if there were any doubts, etc.  I spoke of how happy I have found myself in life recently: in this job, in this community, in this town, in my church here, and how that had actually caused questions in me.

Around late summer was when I started searching for the next step in life, I knew I wanted to somehow serve through relationship more than I was at the farm.  I didn’t have a sense of “home” where I was.  I didn’t feel like I could put down roots quite yet in life – which is a way I have always felt, anywhere I go.  I felt very strongly a need to do something new, and to move towards meaning – and so I followed that desire.  Almost immediately, I stumbled upon Heart’s Home. Gosh!  The mission and charism is my heart exactly.  I had a hard time believing that the fact that I found it at all, when I was looking for the next step in life, could be anything other than a powerful sign and indicator that it was what I should indeed do.

When I found myself growing in a feeling of “home” in my job and community, I found myself also questioning whether I wanted to go to Brazil.  However, I told myself, in these moments of questioning, that I had so much wanted to move towards meaning in my life and that my current happiness was merely circumstantial.  What if things changed and I wasn’t as happy here? Would there still be “meaning” for me here?  I reminded myself again and again that my happiness in the moment didn’t necessarily mean there was fulfilling meaning.   (Btw, I had recently read Victor Frankyl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, which deeply impacted me and was a great grace in my life this past summer).  I knew I was drawn to Heart’s Home and wanted to do it, and I didn’t want my own desire for happiness get in the way;  I wanted so much to be there for others who were struggling, because I know struggling too.  And I just desire so much to somehow bring light and love to people, especially people who are alone, who don’t know God in Himself or in the love of others.  So I kept on pushing through, knowing that Heart’s Home is something I was deeply attracted to, and I knew it would be a beautiful school for my soul.

All my adult life (the past 12 years) I have gone from place to place, from job to job, from experience to experience, never feeling in my heart a desire to stay anywhere, be it a job or a community.  Apart from college, I have never stayed anywhere for more than a year.  It was just the way it was – I couldn’t create in me a desire to settle anywhere, so I just kept searching.  Last week, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that finally, at 30 years old, I have found a job and a place and a community that I love and actually WANT to stay in.  It’s a new feeling; I’ve never felt it before.  It was hard to recognize and believe. This feeling really started growing in January, and has been growing ever since – causing great interior confusion about my decision for Heart’s Home.

N., after I talked to you on the phone, I found myself unable to make concrete steps towards fundraising or even learning Portuguese – which I had started a few weeks ago with great enthusiasm.  I ended up talking to my mother about it all.  She is a beautifully Catholic woman, who knows me through and through, who has been 100% supportive
of me doing Heart’s Home.  Throughout the course of our conversation, I realized a few things.

1) In the beginning, I simply desired to do Heart’s Home.  It was beautiful.  I needed a “next step” in life, and my heart was deeply attracted to it.  However, as my heart also became attracted to the idea of staying where I am, I started to experience real internal conflict.  I started to see that ‘fear’ was creeping into my decision making somehow.  A fear that, I was selfish for wanting to stay b/c I found happiness (and maybe even meaning?) where I am.  There was a fear that I would not be doing God’s will if I stayed.  A fear that I would make the wrong decision and ruin God’s plan for my future if I didn’t go. Basically, a strong fear that I was selfish and that I cannot and should not make choices for personal happiness. I noticed this thought pattern to be a trend in me, which has been there since my conversion…a belief that, when there was a decision to make, between two good things, two good things that I want, that my natural and simple, this base desire for my own happiness was totally untrustworthy, selfish and bad.

2) Once I recognized that fears had somehow entered in, I knew I wanted to work through them, because I did not want fear to be a part of my decision. Originally, it was not a part of my decision.   As I said, it only creeped in once there were two goods to compare. Once there was another good to choose from, that is when the fear popped up. In talking to my mother, I realized something huge in me.  That a very deep childhood wound always prevented me from choosing for happiness. As a young, young child, I “knew” that happiness was impossible for me because – to me – happiness is love, to be wanted and loved, 100%, and this wounded place in me “knew” I would always be an outcast and would never, ever be fully loved or wanted.  I JUST realized, when on the phone with my mother, that I think a strong drive must have arisen deep in my subconscious at an early age: a drive to protect myself from choosing happiness, only to be devastated to find out, again and again, that it was a hopeless thing to desire.  Because, again, my most wounded heart, my most core wound, believed that I would never, ever be fully loved or wanted.  The presence of this drive, this thought process was completely subconscious and hidden from me.  What I know now is that, when I had my conversion, this place in me very easily took on a spiritual mask, hijacking some beautiful truths of Christianity and twisting them, telling me that God’s will for me would always be the harder thing; would never be the thing that my heart desired at a simple place.  This would prevent me from choosing for happiness, from choosing to aspire for, hope for, move towards what my heart desires most, purely and simply.  And this prevention, my subconscious-wounded-self must have figured, would protect me from being devastated when I would, most assuredly, find that my deepest desires would never be fulfilled, since this is what it has been telling me since such a young age: “You will never be accepted, you will never be beautiful, you will never be wanted, you will never be loved completely, and thus, you will never be happy.  You are doomed.  So do not hope for happiness.  Do not try for it.”

Before I saw all this for what it was, I was merely aware of the fear and shame I felt in wanting to choose to stay, to follow this simple desire: “I am happy here.  Maybe it’s my home.  Maybe it’s what I want.”   This was a very frustrating tension in me, and it was so very familiar, for it has been with me all throughout my years of discerning religious life and discerning what it was I should do with my life.  I hadn’t felt this subconscious pull in years, but noticed it immediately in the turmoil I felt when talking to my mom about my confusions.  It was all too familiar.  And all too sick.  My mom prodded and questioned me, “Where does this come from?  Why do you feel that way?  When did you first believe these things?  How old were you?”  Etc. Etc.  And then it all came at once.  I wept, feeling the pain of this childhood wound in a way I had not in years and years.  I had actually forgotten how much I had hurt and how much I believed this horrible “truth.”  At that moment, I felt like scales fell from my eyes and I could see the interior confusions in me for what they really were.

Once I saw this subconscious lie and defense mechanism for what it was, things became much more clear to me.  I realized what a huge deal it is, that I finally and really, truly, want to stay in a job and a place, when I have never, ever in my life felt that way – not even at home with my family in CA (which is crazy to me!).  I finally feel like I may have found a home/job/career path/future for me, and a town I could settle in.  Once the fear and block were removed, I found a freedom and joy – not to say ‘no’ to Heart’s Home, but to say ‘yes’ to trying this new adventure of at least attempting, to settle, put down roots in a place that has begun to feel like home.  And I have been longing and searching and searching for a home and a path my whole life.  I don’t know if this is it for sure, but I feel like I at least have to see it through, this desire to stay where I am.  (Hence the Hook quote, btw: “To live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.”)

I hate changing my mind in front of everyone.  I feel like I have done it a lot in life.  I know I shouldn’t care – but I do.   Anyhow, something that has helped me greatly in that is this.  My own prophecy of sorts.  I read in my journal, something I wrote in September, even before I found Heart’s Home, but when I knew I wanted to do some sort of work helping people.  After writing about how I felt peace with this new decision I had come to on this September night in my cabin on the farm, to leave Green Edge soon and pursue Meaning, which for me, involved relationships and somehow loving and helping people, I wrote this: “This quest for meaning….it will never leave me, actually.  So, maybe I have nothing to worry about.  If I stumble upon something that gives meaning and purpose to my existence here and decide to stay, I don’t need to feel like I missed the boat, nor do I need to beat myself up for not following through with something I decide to do.  Wow – how freeing!  Just always follow where the quest for meaning leads me and guide me.  How beautiful.  How CL (Communion and Liberation).  I mean, THIS is correspondence.  I mean, gosh! ‘Meaning’…that’s ‘logos.’  Logos.  That’s Christ.  Follow the meaning and I’ll be ok.”

Heart’s Home is beautiful.  For what it’s worth, you can be a missionary until the age of 35.  I have 5 years to possibly do it.  But also, I want to still take part, to help and donate.  I want to read all the same spiritual writing I would if I were there.  I realized that, I am so drawn to the charism, but I am somewhat already living it, as best I can without the support of a religious community, right where I am.  I feel that this past year has been such a school for me.  God has tested my true Christianity: “Can you unconditionally love?  Without judging?  Without fear or anxiety (because a person may not Catholic or living a perfectly moral life) being a block to truly unconditional love?  Can you trust in my mercy and love, and just love them and pray to me for them?”  I live in an area with many non-Christians but feel a strength to authentically love Christ where I am, in me and in these people.  I LOVE the charism of Heart’s Home!  It is my heart!  I am more than a little sad to miss out on the communal and prayer life that a mission would have provided, and the lessons I assuredly would have learned, but I also feel a great peace in my decision to stay where I am.

I was nervous to write this email.  I felt shame.  I feel sorry.  I didn’t want to disappoint you two.  But at the end of this email, I am glad to see that I feel okay.  I don’t feel a fear of disapproval. But I am sorry, so very much, for such a late discernment, after committing!  I am truly very sorry about that!  I would love to include Heart’s Home in my monthly tithing, and to get a list of the spiritual reading that is done in Heart’s Home.  I would love to stay in touch, too.  I would love to stop by and visit, if I ever found myself in New York.  All these things! I want to live the charism.  Now that I am settling in my community, I plan to do things that I have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t done because of a feeling of transiency: e.g., taking Communion to the sick and homebound, and volunteering with the hospice in town.  I had been thinking about that for a long while, and am eager to look into it now that I am staying.

Friends, thank you so much for the gift of your hearts and lives to Heart’s Home.  I feel grateful to you, and great awe in the charism, and I know it’s a share in the Lord’s gratitude to you as well.  I am grateful for your presence and love with me, personally, over the course of the past few months since I visited.  Even now, I sense your unconditional love – something that all your friends do too, and something every human craves, and fears is not theirs.  And that is a miracle in this world.

God bless,


Part 1: Heart’s Home

My previous post ended with such a cliffhanger:  “Next blog…..yes I am loving my “now,” but where will I be going and what will I be doing in just 5 to 8 months…?”

For 4 months now, I have known, but not shared with many people at all, the next step of my life.  I wanted to be sure before I went public with it.  (Hahaha, that sounds so funny.)

Ok, I’ll just spit it out right here at the beginning – and then explain to you the movements of my heart and soul that led me to it.  (And, actually, I am realizing that it’s too late, I’m too tired, and that this post would be way too long for me to include both my decision and the facts about it, as well as, how my heart came to this decision…So, I will write a part 2 which will be me sharing that.)

In October, 2012, I will be going to Brooklyn, NY for a 2 week orientation with a beautiful Catholic organization called Heart’s Home/(or click here to see its “Charter”), at the end of which I will most likely fly into Salvador, Brazil.  I will be a missionary at a farm and Heart’s Home village near there.   Yes, come fall, Brazil will be my home for the next 2-years. I’ll leave at 30 and come back when I’m 32.  Wow.

This decision has been pretty heavily discerned.  It’s the craziest thing to me: I have never been drawn to missionary work, especially international missionary work!  I have actually said these words out loud before, several times in life: “I will never do missionary work.  It’s just not for me.”  I’m simply too much of a chicken.  At first, I decided, No way.  “Not doing another country and speaking another language.  Too scary.”  But this charism….it draws me.  It feels like it’s already a part of my heart.  After a few weeks, despite myself, I contacted Heart’s Home and asked how one would move towards looking into it.  The answer: a lengthy application, letters of recommendation, a Come and See weekend with one-on-one interviews and a taste of the life, further time of discernment and a letter finally giving an explanation of that discernment.  So, first I had to figure out if I even wanted to apply.  I did apply.  And then the weekend before Thanksgiving I traveled to New York for a Come-and-See.  Once they accepted me, I had to take some time to further discern my answer, and then fill out another couple pages, explaining my decision to them.  Only then, would they tell me where I would go (they have 57 different locations in 25 different countries).  And finally – I discerned a last time, in a final sort of way, before I really wanted to commit: to making this public, to learning Portuguese, to fundraising, to telling my job I will be leaving in the summertime.  But here I am…..pretty much fully discerned.  And I hate that word.  ;)  But I understand it much differently now than I ever did before.

Really quickly, I’d like to try my best to give an explanation of what Heart’s Home seeks to do, i.e., their mission.  One quick way to describe it is this: Just as Mother Therea wanted to go out and be with the poorest of the poor, Rev. Thierry de Roucy wanted to go out and be with the most suffering of the suffering.  At first, one will think that suffering means physical suffering, but taking a closer look at the human condition, one finds that the greatest suffering is suffering of the heart, a deep loneliness, and the greatest poverty is to not see any meaning in one’s life, or worth in one’s existence.

Hmmmm….at first I made a list of bullet points with info I gathered from the website, but it was so void of the spirit of it all.  I’ll still include that info, at the bottom.  But, more than anything, I want these words from the founder to explain it:  (And, oh my gosh you guys, Rev. Thierry de Roucy’s writing are BEAUTIFUL!  Here is a page of a bunch of articles written by him.  I have yet to read them all, but anything I have read by him thus far has been incredibly moving, and I look forward to reading more of his stuff.)

What upset me, at the start, was a cry: that of mil­lions of chil­dren. A cry some­times silent, but which tears the heart, for it comes from suf­fering touching the deepest recesses of a being.

The suf­fering is never raw, name­less, detached. It wounds a heart, dis­fig­ures a face. It injures a person.

It is the incred­ible suf­fering of this Vietnamese sem­i­narian shut up for sev­eral years in a black dun­geon, bat­tling day after day against going insane. It is the suf­fering of this young Argentinian, vio­lated from infancy, expelled from his home, vio­lated again, and sur­ren­dered to drugs and alcohol, unable to con­trol the ter­rible vio­lence he lives in. It is also the suf­fering of this little 14-year-old Colombian girl, preg­nant and waiting under the eyes of her pimp for her next client.

No one escapes the great law of suf­fering. Even one whose life seems happy expe­ri­ences his share of inner­most suf­fering.

Nevertheless, I have observed how the simple pres­ence of someone can relieve a wounded heart. Since the begin­ning of Heart’s Home, I have had the strong con­vic­tion that man’s greatest thirst is to have a friend that is a com­pas­sionate pres­ence.

Humanitarian works, indeed, are very con­cerned about an out­come, an effi­cacy, a pro­duc­tion. A human endeavor like Heart’s Home cannot have this ambi­tion. Its fruit­ful­ness cannot be mea­sured in num­bers.

The only mea­sure of suc­cess that God gives man is love. Thus, for us, serving the little one and the poor is to love them as God loves them, with all their suf­fer­ings, hatred, crit­i­cisms; it is to go beyond indif­fer­ence and accept being blessed; it is to be a pres­ence truly respectful of the other person’s freedom. In each encounter, one expe­ri­ences a mys­te­rious exchange. In the course of lis­tening, one reveals to the poor one his dig­nity. And we, in return, dis­cover the truth of who we are: the poor among the poor.

I put in bold letters those words that speak to my heart, but the ones that speak to my heart the most, I also underlined.  It’s been hard for me to try and describe the missionary work I intend to be doing.  Like Rev. Thierry said, it’s not quantitative.  I can’t tell people exactly what I’ll be doing.  I can’t say I’ll be bringing clean water to poor communities, or making sure the hungry are fed, or that I’ll be building shelters for people who have none.  I have been ashamed of myself for being ashamed that the work I want to do is not quanitative, if you can follow that.  It’s awful, and to me, such a sign of weak faith, to be embarrassed of wanting to do this.  Why do I care if people don’t understand, or think joining the Peace Corps would be more productive or better serve humanity?  All I know is that so many hearts hurt.  I pray for them often, these hearts that I love, but don’t know, but whom I still want to cradle in the love of my heart so as to console them…but I’m eager to spend a time of my life where that is the focus of my daily living.  My heart has always ached to know how much people suffer.  I care more about bringing love and consolation to someone, to being given the grace of helping them feel their worth and value, than I do about relieving a physical need.  Of course, ideally I’d like to do both!  But if I had to choose, I’d choose to soothe and love a person’s interior ache, to somehow quench their heart’s longings and point them in the direction of its fulfillment, rather than ease their bodily ache or longing.  Only the one who has suffered greatly, who has felt unloveable, who has felt alone, unheard, unknown, uncherished, like they live a life without meaning or worth – only this person knows the great value of a loving presence, of someone who is really listening, who really understands that their heart hurts, and who really cares.  I feel like that’s one of my great gifts.  One of my only gifts, even!  That when someone opens up to me, they find a place of some level of solace and compassion, and feel a little less alone in their pain.  And I know this is meaningful!

Now, I know I don’t need to travel to Brazil to do that; there are aching hearts everywhere.  But this is somewhat similar to Green Edge Gardens.  That is, I didn’t need to come to Ohio to dig in the dirt, water plants, and grow tomatoes.  But I wanted the whole experience.  To dive deeply into it.  And maybe that immersion would rub off on me, and I could take what I learn with me throughout life.  Heart’s Home is no different.  I want to be immersed in this…the spirituality, the giving of one’s self as one’s job.  (Many of you do that in your jobs, in your vocations, your marriages, your being a mother or father.  I don’t have that.)  Despite what people think (and believe me, they like to argue with me about this one, as if I don’t know ;) ) I am incredibly introverted, and feel painfully shy most times.  I can be awkward, and I have generally found casual conversation difficult in life.  I’m better at it now than I’ve ever been, but nevertheless, what I do best is connect at deep, heart levels.

I want to hear people’s stories…their true hearts…their pains….their fears…their insecurities…their pasts – everything that’s made them who they are.   For some odd reason, this is how I am wired!  And those conversations don’t happen (usually – but God knows they’ve happened with me) when you’re just meeting someone for the first time, or at a house party or barbeque. That’s part of what I mean when I say Heart’s Home seems to already be in my heart.  This one-on-one connecting with the suffering.  But, my point with the farming in Ohio was, I’d love to do things like prison ministry or working with the homeless, anything…but have always been too nervous, scared, shy, awkward.  So, another hope I have for Heart’s Home is that it’ll be a good chance for me to do those things that my introversion has always stopped me from doing with anyone outside my circle of friends, or those graced chance encounters.  And maybe that immersion would rub off on me, and I could take what I learn with me throughout life.  That is, I wouldn’t have to be so afraid of the awkwardness of my introversion and I could go to the prison; go to the homebound; be with the homeless.  I’m sure I’ll be stretched, and learn a lot.  It’ll be hard, and it’ll be great.  I am eager to continue this life I live, as clay in the hand of the Potter.  I deeply feel – deeply feel -  that He wants to use this time as further shaping and molding of my soul.  And what a worker of masterpieces He is!  I don’t want to pass up an opportunity like that.  ;)

Please keep checking in for updates.  I will soon start fundraising for this trip.  Aye yai yai!!  Talk about intimidating.  At any point along the way, if you know that you feel moved to help in anyway, or would like to help me and pass along the word, please comment, or email me at bethanycarreon@gmail.com.  I will gladly accept one time donations, but will be looking for people who will want to include Heart’s Home in part of their monthly tithing for the 2 years I am there.   I’ll be writing a more informative letter about that some time very soon.  –  Oh man, I love you all so much!  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading.  This weekend, I’ll explain the journey of my heart and why I even started searching for something like this at all.  So look for “Part 2: Here’s Me Sharing the Depths of My Heart.”

Ok, and I told you I’d also include those bullet points about Heart’s Home.  :)  So here are those.

  • The founder, Rev. Thierry de Roucy envi­sioned Heart’s Home as a pres­ence of warmth and con­so­la­tion to humanity as Mary was to her son Jesus at the foot of the Cross.” (Here’s how it came to him.)
  • Hearts Home “works to pro­mote a cul­ture of com­pas­sion around the world.”
  • Missionaries provide intimate, one-on-one support to individuals in some of the most deprived areas of the world;”  they seek to “befriend and assist poor and socially isolated people in the area.”
  • Heart’s Home is even a recognized presence in the United Nations because of their work for the dignity of the human person; and since recognized, HH has founded a house in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • “In 2000,” 10 years after it was formed in 1990, “Heart’s Home was offi­cially approved by the Church as a Private Association of the Faithful.”
  • Missionaries “vol­un­teer for 1 to 2 years within Heart’s Home to live com­pas­sion among the most suf­fering people, starting with the chil­dren.”  There are now, also, an order of priests, an order of nuns, consecrated lay individuals, and a “third order” type of thing, i.e., lay people living out the charism in their own lives.
  • They are close to Communion and Liberation (de Roucy and Giussani were friends! :) ) and the writings they read for spiritual reading range from Giussani, Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, Mother Teresa, Benedict XVI, Bl. John Paul II, as well as Rev. Thierry de Roucy’s, and more.
  • Every center has a Chapel with a tabernacle.  A communal Morning, Evening and Night Prayer is said; there is also daily Mass, Rosary and Holy Hour.

Let’s Play Catch-Up on the Last 7 Months :)

Wow…So my last post was 7 months ago!  Now, that’s a serious blogger, my friends.  ;)

I dunno, it just got hard to blog there for a while.  Because, A) I’m not a big blogger anyway; and B) There was so much going on for me interiorly, it was hard to know what to blog about; it felt odd writing about the work I was doing when there was so much I was trying to figure out – and pray about – inside.

So, What’s Been New on The Farm in the Past Seven Months?

  • We built 2 new greenhouses.  And I helped! (A little bit.)  There are now 10!
  • The fields were finally cleared! We’re now solely in the greenhouses!  Thank God!  Man, we were working outside, harvesting lettuce and other such vegetables, out in the raised beds, in weather just above freezing!!  The beds would be covered at night so the frost didn’t damage the plants, and when we uncovered and harvested, they would be wet.  But it’s 35 degrees out, your hands are wet and there would be a wind!  Oh man, it was really awful!!!  One day, in particular, we were harvesting out in the wind, it had to be in the mid 30′s, it snowed later in the day, and we’re out there with our bare hands harvesting dew-covered plants in the wind.  I mean, MAN!  I remember thinking that I had never been in that much pain in my life!  And we probably harvested for 3 hours.  The longest 3 hours in my life.  And after a while, my fingers were all fumbly and numb.  I was a little cared I was going to snip off my fingertips and not even know it.  I’d probably never been more relieved for the end of a day than that day!
  • I became Packing Room Manager and was given the responsibility of irrigation of all the greenhouses.  And…..became the “senior crew member.”  That is, because of the recent turnover, I am the full-time employee who’s been here the longest!  Yep, I’m in charge after the owner, and the manager!  (Just kidding – I’m not in charge at all.)
  • The crew shrunk.  Spring, Summer, Fall have 3 interns and 4 full timers.  Winter has just the 4 full timers.  But we get help from Kip, the owner (everyone’s favorite man on earth :) ) or from a few other employees that work in the mushroom house, the microgreen house, or in the office.
  • The CSA has grown!  I do believe last winter had about 98 CSA shares that we were packing on Tuesdays.  Now, it’s 151!!!
  • We’re currently getting applicants for the Summer 2012 Internship positions!  People who are turning in their cover letters and resumes, and coming to visit, just like I did last year.  In fact….I was here visiting EXACTLY one year ago.  I mean, February 19th, last year, I was in Ohio.  Crazy  :)

What’s Offered from The Farm in the Winter CSA?

We had some crops that were harvested in the Fall, which have been in storage, that we included at Farmers Market and in the CSA’s, like: winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots.

And we also have vegetables growing in the greenhouses and specialty houses: mushrooms, microgreens, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Collard greens, Mustard greens, Green Onions, Carrots, Lettuce, Arugula, Asian greens (like Petsai, Tatsoi, Mizuna), Pac Choi…  (Aaaaaand – I think that’s it!  :) )

And, Finally, What’s Been Up With Me, Personally?

I just gotta say, my two main co-workers have become two of my dearest friends!  I love them to DEATH!  Alicia is like a sister to me.  We’re so cute: we’ll talk and share serious stuff, and then we’ll joke and make fun of each other too.  Oh man, we laugh way too much.  It’s great, and I LOVE her!  :)  And then there’s Rob.  Oooooohh Rob!  Awww.  Well, we’re twin souls, for one.  And then, the guy just makes me LAUGH, like no one has in a long time!  It’s good to know I can find someone so funny in life.  We go back and forth in accents a lot, and it just cracks. me. up.  We have way too much fun together, all of us, most of the time.  It’s been so incredibly good for my soul and my heart to laugh and smile so much.  I have been more content in the last 4 months than I can remember being in a long time.  And I have these two to thank for it, in a big way.  And there’s Dan, of course, who I have always gotten along really well with and connected well with.  He was a friend from the beginning, and his friendship was a consolation for me from the start.   And there was also Maria, who I was so grateful to grow closer to before she left at Christmas.  My love for her grew with the affection of a big sister for a beautiful, vibrant, wise little sister.  And D, my fellow intern friend :) who’s there part time.  I love that girl.  Then there’s Kip and Becky, the owners, as beautiful and generous as ever.  Kip’s the most adorable man I know, after my own father….up there with a few of my favorite priests, and professors at FUS.  A treasured memory I have is just from last week, when, in thanksgiving for the St. Valentine’s Day card and treat I gave to him and Becky, I got a kiss on the top of my beanie-covered-head while I was eating my lunch and my mouth was full. ♥  Yes, Yes – I am very, very happy here.

So yeah, like I said, we have way too much fun together, “most of the time.”  :)  And then….some of the time, when any one of us is maybe grumpy or having a down day – well, I’ll speak for myself here…  I am amazed how much they love me anyway.  I mean, working on a farm is like being in a family!  More than most full time jobs, you are side-by-side, working with them, talking with them, laughing with them, sharing with them, problem solving with them, screwing up in front of them, having them point out your screw ups to you, having to point out things to them, exhausted with them, grumpy with them, soaking wet and cold with them.  Every day, all day!  And they can’t escape from you if you’re grumpy or sad or tired or hormonal.  And you would think that they’d get sick of you, annoyed by you, that the honeymoon would wear off and they’d decide that, actually, they don’t really like you that much at all!  And can’t believe that they have to see your face everyday!  Hahaha….well, that’s my fear, that’s how I feel after I have a grumpy day.  I have such shame in my grumpiness.  But I’ve been amazed by their friendship, and amazed by the over all love and support, patience and understanding, that is continually shown, especially after bad days like that.  Their love, all of their love for me, has been so beautiful to experience.  I don’t think they possibly know.  Or…..or, they know exactly what I mean, without me having to even tell them, because they hopefully experience all that I have.

Other news is that, having become a full-time employee and no longer being a seasonal intern, I had to find winter housing.  Those intern cabins aren’t insulated and have no way of being heated.  So I moved in November.  God blessed me with an absolutely amazing home.  This couple opened their home, their hearts and their family to me.  I rent a room at a house just 10 minutes from the farm!  So lucky.  I call them “My Ohio Family,” and they call me their “daughter.”  =)  I am blessed by their love, by their generousity, and by their depth.  I was starving for relationship, for deeper connection, for someone to know me and to invite me to know them.  And that’s what they do.  They not only share their home and food with me, but share their inner selves, their thoughts, their faith, their dreams, their pasts, their hurts, their hearts – and more – with me.  Man!  Their openness and relationship-orientedness, fed my soul so much, upon arriving.  And around that time was when my friendships on the farm, with my co-workers, were deepening too.  Yes….November was a good month, and was the start of many good months.  I got a family, a home, and my friendships started deepening.

But, by November, I had already fixed myself, pretty firmly in my soul, along a certain trajectory…  I’d like to share about this decision….   But that’s for another blog….I have a day off on Thursday and will try to share then.

A few more things on me, though!

I am in a Master Gardener class for Athens County.

I am learning Portuguese.

Lent is here, and I am gearing up to take this time seriously, to grow more mindful of God’s Presence within me, ….to grow in self-discipline so to give of myself, to love God and to love others, especially through prayer and fasting.

God is good.  I love Him.  I love my family – in CA and OH.  ;)  I miss my family in CA.  I miss my friends who are far away from me.   I love my farm.  I love those plants growing so perfectly in those beautifully linear beds.  I love my muddy boots and my muddy clothes.  I love every single one of my coworkers, named and un-named.  I love Athens, Ohio.  I love the people here, the restaurants here, the other farmers here, the localvore-ness here; the love for our planet and environment, here.  Indeed, now, more than any other time in my life, I am present in the now.  Content with where I am.  Enjoying each and every “today,” each and every “now.”   Just living in and loving my present moment.  Not to say my moods are always perfect, but I’ve never been able to be so content in the now before….I seemed to be always waiting for a future to come and make me more content.  It’s a good, good – very good – place I am in.

Next blog…..yes I am loving my “now,” but where will I be going and what will I be doing in just 5 to 8 months…?

Wood haulin’, muscles and pullin’ garlic for the harvest!

Ok, so it is quite official. I am a bad blogger.  But I am still going to try, especially on this day off (well, half day off.  We worked till 11 am).  Happy 4th of July!

So last week was a busy one!  Went to my 2nd dinner at Good Earth Farm on Tuesday night.  I hope to go every week, if possible.  It’s good to experience a little bit of family-like and Christian community.  (But dude, where’s the Catholic peeps at?!  Baaaah…)

Wood Haulin’ and Muscles

Then, Wednesday and Thursday, after work, I got $10/hour to help a friend cut his firewood for the winter.  His whole house is heated only by a wood stove, which is pretty neat to me.  So we went out to a neighbor’s property which he got permission to get logs from.  He brought his chainsaw and went to work on fallen trees.  We were on a steep hillside and it was my job to gather all the wood up and transport it down the hill.  It was exciting to me because he was impressed by my strength, = ) enough that he said something to me about it after our final day of working, and then to someone else, who told me about it.  Hahaha, YES!!  I always knew I was strong.  I used to compare my body to the skinny-minny girls in high school and be sad that I would never be that skinny….and I used to compare my wrists to other people’s wrists.  I have “big bones.”  I think they’re even bigger than John’s and Danny’s (my brothers)…..but I remember one day in high school, I was driving and looked at my wrists holding the steering wheel (the “big bones” that I hated) and said out loud to myself (hahaha!  Yes, it’s true), “I’m just strong.  And sturdy.  These wrists should be behind a plow.  I’d make a great farmer’s wife!”  Hahaha.

The other day a fellow intern was like, “You know, our muscles are getting bigger.”  And I flexed my arm and looked over and was like, “Wow!  You’re right!”  So of course, I took pictures.

My bicep: It's definitely grown in it's definition

Uhhh - it's actually kind of, ummm, scarily big, if you ask me

The Garlic Harvest

On Friday we harvested GARLIC!!!  Yaaaaaaay!  We had 5 rows of garlic planted, and the rows were about 50 yards long, I think (?).  I don’t know what the attachment on the tractor was, but it looked like a hook (and had the word “soil” in it) and they drove the tractor down each row so that the hook went right next to the of garlic and uprooted a bunch of the soil.  Then we pulled it out of the ground.

Dan on the tractor :)

You can see 4 rows of garlic to the right (further to the right are peppers) and piles of pulled garlic on the left...with greenhouses in the background ;)

Pullin' the garlic - it's pretty darn good lookin! :) Yay!

Piling it up

After pulling a row or two, we'd drive the truck down and throw the piles of garlic in the back. This is less than a quarter of the garlic! I wasn't there when the truck was FULL to take a picture =(

Yeeeaaah!! ;)

Kip and I =) ...and the garlic!

Harvesting garlic in the west field with the farm in the background

Copied from a website: “Garlic needs about 2 weeks to cure in order to prepare it for winter storage. Either hang it in bundles of 10-12 or place on mesh racks in an airy, ventilated drying shed. Your carport or barn works well for this purpose. Ensure a good airflow and protection from direct sunlight. Cured garlic is then trimmed to remove stalks, placed in containers and taken to storage. It can also be braided for convenience of storage and use.”

Kip laying the garlic out to cure

Me with all the garlic laying out to cure. I'm a sweaty beast, and this is after I stopped working for about an hour! (Shoulda seen me BEFORE!)

Yay for garlic. Can't wait to even have garlic from the farm to cook my dishes with! Yeeeaaahhh =)

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 11:25 am  Comments (4)  

Wow! Home is Two Places…

Sooooo, I have to admit, I was a tad worried after being back in the OC for a week and a half…

Worried that I would come back to Ohio and the farm and feel disenchanted, and somehow find that it’s not as great as I thought it was or made it out to be before.  Worried too, that I have become soft from not working and being in cool coastal weather.

But as the plane was descending lower and lower to  touch down on Ohio ground, I found my heart going flutter-flutter-flutter! and a smile glueing itself to my face as I watched the flow of farms passing below me.  The silos.  The fields.  The red barns.  The farm houses on dirt roads.  The forest on the unfarmed land.  Something in me just LOOOOOVES it!  I noticed the total spontaneity of my interior reactions, and was very glad.  Not that I needed this to be proved to me, but….none of this is by any means contrived, or forced in me.  I’m not just trying to be happy here or simply looking so hard to love something and be passionate about it.  It actually gives me joy.

And there’s more.  Once I landed in Ohio, I still had a 2 hour drive ahead of me to Athens, but was low on sleep.  I ended up driving way past a road I needed to take in order to go south to Athens, and instead, I drove straight east ,till I hit Zanesville, OH.  I was just driving, driving, driving, in a daze, listening to the music, and then I was like, “ZANESVILLE?!  WHAAAAT?”  So I had to stop somewhere that had wireless to get directions (because I can’t find my atlas – darn it!).  I was all grumpy that I was adding hours to my trip and wasting money on gas due to how checked out I was when I was driving.  I was quite upset with myself.  But then, it ended up being such a gift!  Because I drove through the most beautiful country!  The southeastern quadrant of Ohio is just GORGEOUS!  I love Appalachia!!  My frustration was very quickly blown away by the wind comin’ in my windows and swirling around me with its scent of trees and nature, and its wetness.  And the scenery was like ice cream for the soul: the hills and the trees and the clouds and the sunset.  Gee whiz!  It was so beautiful in fact, that my heart felt as if it might explode out of my chest and every once in a while my eyes got moist.  I wished everyone I cared about could be there with me and see how beautiful it is where I live!  I received the gift of a great drive home, and gratitude welled up within me that I am here.

Highway 329 is a little stretch of road between Trimble, OH and Amesville, OH that is just the prettiest land ever!  I’d love to live there one day.  Finally, I turned off 329, onto the dirt road that is home to my farm.  The first thing I did, before pulling into the driveway of the farm house, was to pull into the farm in the valley below.  In my flowing dress and flip flops I went from greenhouse to greenhouse to see how much everything had grown, laughing and talking to the plants (Hahha, I know!).  And I was amazed!!!  And…please know, everybody, that I by no means intend to honestly make this comparison, BUT…here I go anyway…it was like going home and seeing how much my nieces and nephews had grown.  I was all moved and almost teary eyed at seeing them again, hahaa!, and sad that I missed so much growth.  And as I walked from greenhouse to greenhouse I would stop and look all around me.  I swear to you – my heart felt so home as I looked all around me at the farm.  The hills, the greenery, the wildflowers.  The fireflies were just coming out for the evening.  Even the weeds were glorious to behold!!!

Yaaaay!  How great it is to feel home, even away from home.  : )

(But, work starts tomorrow, and I have yet to find out if I’ve become a softy….  ; )

Published in: on June 19, 2011 at 11:08 am  Comments (5)  

Farmageddon and GasLand – two great (and scary) documentaries



Link to the maker’s Vimeo website

Link to a blog about Farmageddon  — (I also entered a drawing to win organic grass-fed cheese on this site.  sweet!)


Also, have you seen the movie “GasLand” about fracking???  Another MUST SEE!

Here’s a link to that website: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

They also have this AWESOME page where they have made it SO EASY to write a letter to your government officials about the INSANE loophole in the Clean Water Act, where fracking companies are exempt.  Which makes NO SENSE.  Go here, to send such an email.  It literally took me like 2 minutes – I mean it when I said they made it easy.

Here’s the “About the Movie” text from the “Farmageddon” website…

“Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent ac-tion, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

“Filmmaker Kristin Canty’s quest to find healthy food for her four children turned into an educational journey to discover why access to these foods was being threatened. What she found were policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family-operated farms selling fresh foods to their communities. Instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems — most often the industrial food chain — policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and often drive out of business small farms that have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions.

“Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasona-bly burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.”


Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 7:46 am  Comments (1)  

Oooooooh! I want these books :)


Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm  Comments (2)  

Music can be a Window to the Soul, too

A random post…

I’m in a reflective mood.  It’s storming outside, so I can’t be out there (though I did lay down in the rain after work today for a while, listening to the thunder coming from up above, from all sorts of different directions, and listening to the rain falling on the greenhouses); I have $4.44 in the bank, so I can’t really go to town and get a drink or a tea, or anything.  I’ve already had my dinner and even made a creative dessert.  I finished a book that I started three days ago.  And my fellow intern, even, who lives in the neighboring cabin, is gone for the weekend.  So there’s not much to do.  And again, I find myself in a bit of a pensive and reflective mood.

Tonight I was drawn to a song that I first heard in October, when I went to see Mumford and Sons.  It’s a song by one of their headliners from that tour, King Charles.  Hahaa!  I remember, he walked out and looked….well….he looked a bit ridiculous, to be honest.  A huge head of dark hair, some of it dreadlocked, a creepy mustache, and wearing some sort of old style English get up, with very tight pants.  The crown sort of laughed at him and I felt awful.  But then, he started to play his guitar and sing, and we were all pretty much mesmerized.  He was amazing.  (And actually, pretty much beautiful.) Oh!! Here’s a picture of him and I from when I saw them AGAIN, the next week in Denver.  :)

Anyway, I was drawn to one of his songs tonight, which has kind of been this deeply and mystically comforting song for me since I bought his EP.  The song is called Tomorrow’s Fool.  Click here to hear it; let the page load and then press play (and then you might need to let it load a few seconds more).  The sound of the guitar in the beginning (and throughout) is enough for me; it just gets me for some reason, and puts my heart in this very peaceful, comforted and trusting place.  I enjoy the song and the lyrics very much already, but then, at minute 3:10, especially the first time I heard it, I was simply blewn away.  Man!….It felt like the hope of my heart was being put to music and words; it was what I needed to hear.  (And if you’ve read some past posts, then you know that I went through rough times since December.)  I played that song a lot throughout the first four months of 2011.  I guess you could say it was like a prayer for me – the act of faith that I didn’t feel capable of making with my mind and will – because, when this song played, and he belts out those lines at the end, again and again, I knew it was true and that it’s what my heart believed….even though, when the song wasn’t playing, all I felt was my soul lashing out in such disbelief, blame and aloneness.

So, yeah.  I played that song tonight.  Not because I was in a rough place again.  Just because I wanted to.  Because of that reflective mood, I guess.  It’s a happy song for me, and it’s very prayerful for me to listen to it.  Playing that song reminded me of another song that also spoke a lot of my heart during that dark time.  It’s a song by Mumford and Sons called “You Ain’t No Sailor” – here’s a link to it on YouTube.  For a few months I couldn’t always listen to Mumford and Sons.  It had a tendency to make me a bit naseaous.  It was kind of hit or miss.  But this song?  This song I could listen to, no matter what.  Hmmmm…..  What to say about this song.  It was a song about me.  About the myserious rut I had found myself in.  Surprised and dismayed though I was, because it was so disimilar to any sort of rut I had ever fallen into before, or any way I have dealt with pain and sadness in the last 10 years, it was a rut I saw myself embracing and running with.  And in the midst of this mysterious rut, as I call it (for those who are like, “What is Bethany talking about?”  Think, “What the Hell,” by Avril Livigne.  It was sort of the theme song of my life from December to March), in which I never stopped “going, going, going,” this song by Mumford was like hitting a wall.  In the midst of the whirlwind I was in, everything would stop and there’d be silence within me – like being in the eye of the storm of my heart – and this song was the cry at its core.  I saw where I currently was and I saw where I once was, and there was a cry of longing…”Will I ever be there again?”  Because, despite the fact that I had found some weird alter ego that ran around like Avril Livigne in her video and belted out the lyrics with her — (“Love hurts, whether it’s right or wrong… I can’t stop ’cause I’m having too much fun… Honestly, I just need to be a little crazy.  All my life I’ve been good, but now, I’m thinking ‘What the hell.’  All I want is to mess around, and I don’t really care about, If you love me, if you hate me, You can’t save me, baby.  All my life I’ve been good, but now, ‘What the hell’”) — and despite being crazy and “having so much fun,” and feeling like I was somehow “sticking it to the men in my life” (I think that’d be God and my ex), and also thinking I was proving to myself that I was beautiful, and loveable, and wanted…  Yeah, despite all that . . . It didn’t deeply satisfy . . . And it couldn’t provide the proof that my heart really wanted . . . And it didn’t stick it to those guys . . . And it didn’t fill me with any bit of lasting happiness, or any fullness of contentment or peace.

And at the eye of the storm, was this sad story:

(Here are the lyrics, and oddly, this was the story of my life for a few months, though not many people would believe it from knowing me the past 10 years.  I’ve italicized the words that mean most to me.)

“You Ain’t No Sailor”

Kate wasn’t in to moderation
Thats what led to her frustration
And the state of her crumbling heart
She says I’m not a girl for temperance
Though I know its at my heart’s expense
But a downward spiral has to have a rock bottom

She paints the walls blue and green
Singing about her lovers and dreams
And explains her helpless desperation
Take off your shoes
Unravel your blues
This place is full of beggars and choosers
But the consequence of her liberty was bad

Know thy self
She said as she guided me round the land of the dead
Introducing her friends stuck in the same mess
Ships might be built for sailing my love
And easels made for painting
But you ain’t no sailor and I, I can’t paint for shit.

My hearts wants to go one way
My mind don’t agree
Cause they, they have fallen out recently

She said
Will I praise again?
Oh will I praise again?
Oh will I praise again?
Will I, will I sing again?
Will I praise again?

I really love music…..

And I think I’m a bit of a story teller…..

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm  Comments (2)  

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