The Lowly Farmer on the Hill

Jeannie Bruenning

Tonight I find myself the lowly farmer on the hill. I have the title because my youngest offspring loves to fill every crack and crevice of her life with things she can take care of. Couple this with her desire to travel and it is why – tonight, I find myself the lowly farmer on the hill.

My other-half (better-half is up for debate and incase you are wondering, I’m winning), he is laid up with the gout – oh god it’s the gout – and is currently not very useful. With wine in one hand and list in my head, I am well prepared for what is to come.

Rain is forecasted and the chick-lets need to be moved. Chick-lets are the newest arrivals that are now somewhere between cute little balls of fuzz and big fat hens. They currently live in a small caged area that won’t keep them dry, thus the relocation. One by one I grab the small feathered frenzy and gently carry them to new safety; transfer their water and food and secure the top to avoid any escape. There is so much to think about as the lowly farmer on the hill.

Now it’s time to feed the Girls. The hen house is a bit down the hill, there’s no rush tonight, so me and my half filled glass of wine enjoy the walk. Feathers, heads, beaks, and squawking greet me. I scoop and sprinkle food on the ground for them and they respond like a bunch of old ladies at the dessert end of a buffet. I leave their quaint dwelling, secure the door, and look over to see the goat and sheep, otherwise known as The Boys. 

Buddy and Shaun have been working diligently on clearing the hill. There is an entire side that we’ve yet to explore because of the underbrush. New areas are coming to light every week and these two are making it happen. I set my glass down and determine which of the hoses is designed to reach their water bucket. They watch me and make their way over as soon as the water fills. I turn to quench the thirst of the olive trees planted along the path. I’m pleased and surprised to see they are surviving.

We have a guest on the hill and I figure this lowly farmer should say hello. She too is a writer, so we sit and talk about writing, and being creative, and life and death, and growing older, and it is delightful. We make plans to do it again. We say goodbye, and my empty glass escorts this lowly farmer across the driveway, past the Fairy Hole, and back home. 

As I walk, the night lights have all illuminated. Their glow is a blanket of peace that hovers over us. It’s magical. It makes me wonder, how did I get so lucky to be the lowly farmer on the hill…

The wisdom of a two-year-old

Living with a two-year-old is something you take for granted in your twenties and thirties. Having a two-year-old around in your late fifties brings new joys. 

Amelia was six months old when we moved on the hill. It was no surprise when one of her first words was, “Hi!” With six adults living here, there wasn’t room she entered without someone greeting her with “Hi Amelia!”

Amelia turned two in September. She already had a mouth full of teeth and a full vocabulary. Five word sentences, understanding concepts that are typically reserved for four-year-olds, counting, and color recognition was well under way.

Her brilliant mom got her on a sleeping regiment after realizing that this was going to be kid who fought sleep. Now, a snuggle, a story, a little song, and sleepy time is moments away. La La Lu from Lady and the Tramp is always her first request. However, this Christmas Amelia switched it up a bit. She would say, “You sing La La Lu and I’ll sing Jingle Bells.” This wasn’t easy to do – but we all gave it our best.

Amelia doesn’t waist words. When I can’t understand what she is saying, she simply slows down and over annunciates until I do.

I took notice the first time I heard, “I need a hug”. Instead of crying when she feels scared, afraid, hurt, or sad, she simply says, “I need a hug.” If mom or dad aren’t near, one of the rest of us will do. A good hug makes all the sadness, pain, or fear go away. 

The morning she and Nana found a lizard in the kitchen, they put it in a bag and set it free outside – free to find it’s mommy and daddy. Now, anytime Amelia sees someone who looks lost or lonely, she says, “He needs his mommy and daddy.” This includes Ratatouille as he is floating through the sewers, Alice as she is wandering through Wonderland, and the Grinch – who clearly needs a mommy to give him a hug. 

Empathy flows from this kid. She can immediately sense when someone is frustrated or sad and she’s there by their side, rubbing a shoulder, snuggling in close, giving a hug, wiping away tears, and sweetly saying, “It’s okay, I’m here.” 

I’m not sure we need anymore in life than what Amelia has already discovered:

  • hugs take away our fears and sadness 
  • everyone needs someone like a mommy and daddy 
  • singing before bed is good 
  • take the time to make sure you are understood

It also helps to be able to sing different songs at that the same time!

The Big Black Inner Tube

As a teen, my friends and I tubed down the Crystal River. It was a summertime favorite. We’d make the forty-five minute drive, park our cars in the gravel parking lot, pay our fee, get on a big green bus and be taken up the river. 

We excitedly exited the bus and made our way to the river bank where giant black inner tubes were tossed in the water.  Laughter and cheers would erupt as all who were watching ran into the rapids in hopes of catching a tube before it caught the current and floated on without us. Once a tube was captured, we’d jump on, wiggle our butts into the center, lay our heads back and float down the river. No paddles, no oars, we were swept away by the current. 

Imagine for a moment…

…while we were on the tubes, we began paddling against the current. Or, if we had been dropped off down stream and expected to make our way upstream. That would have taken great EFFORT. Such an effort most likely would have created anxiety because we weren’t getting anywhere. We would have been frustrated. By the end of the day, we would have felt as though we had failed. In contrast, allowing the current to guide us was relaxing, enjoyable and a peaceful journey.

I have come to understand that allowing God to guide us is just like allowing the current to carry us down the river. So the question is, in everyday life, how do we know when we’re paddling upstream or allowing the current to guide us?  

It’s easier than we think! We know this by our emotions. When we are striving to make something happen, when we are exerting our own effort, we feel frustrated, anxious and the fear of failure haunts us. Learning to trust that God will provide a current to guide us creates joy, excitement and peace.

EFFORT is different than action. Typically, when we are putting forth EFFORT, we are paddling up stream. We are working really hard and going nowhere. There’s a huge difference between floating down the river and paddling up it. 

ACTION is never an effort. Action comes out of motivation and inspiration, not out of obligation.

You have an idea, you think it through. You begin to develop a plan; you ponder and explore your options. When you feel this is something worth pursuing, you have a choice: Either you believe it’s all up to you to make it happen (effort); or, you wait and watch with great anticipation. When opportunity makes itself known, you spring into action, which will never feel like effort!

When we work out of EFFORT, rarely do the results equal the time and energy we’ve invested. There is usually a cost; this can be relationships, financial, stress or even our health. Effort equals work.

excerpt from Living Unstuck

Absolute on the Rocks

Absolute on the rocks

I grew up in a world that was primarily black and white. It consisted of many lists of absolutes. There were wrong and rights, goods and bads, dos and don’ts. We lived by the absolutes and we judged other’s accordingly. 

As a young adult, the lines between what was once black and white began to blur and life become much more gray. What may be wrong in one situation, was the ‘right thing to do’ in another. I found myself living a lot in the gray. 

Blame it on age, or experiences, or the need to find a deeper meaning in life, but as the old absolutes began to fade – colors began to fill my world’s gray canvas. 

As my adult children began families of their own and a new generation began to sprout, the gray faded rapidly as new colors of ideas, realities, and life bled through.

I can now count my absolutes on one hand:
  • If we are born, we will die.
  • God is love and ALL love comes from Him.
  • We harvest what we’ve planted.
  • We must remember what is good, or it be washed away with the bad.
  • No one will ever truly know what you are tasting…it is unique to you!

Allowing the black and white canvases of life to fade away is scary simply because it means we must let go of ideals and accept what is real. Those black and white canvases gives us the right to judge others, to find the errors of their ways, to correct other’s colorful worlds with our black and white brushes. 

Living in a world outside of black and white can feel messy and uncontrollable – it is also freeing and offers infinite possibilities. It opens our imaginations and broadens our understanding; it makes us wiser, more accepting, and alive.

Absolutes are still part of my life…but usually I prefer them on the rocks…with a twist.

That’s Not Evil!

Today I was searching for information about the book Girl, Wash Your Face by a young woman named Rachel Hollis. This is a best-selling book which I’ve seen but know very little about. I found what I was looking for and read about this best-seller. In my search, I also found a blog that was warning against this book.

Now my curiosity was sparked, “What could possibly be wrong with a book that encourages women to stop believing the negative things they’ve been told about themselves and focus on the good?” As I read through the warnings of the evil dangers in positive thinking, accepting others who are different than you, and dreaming big, I thought, “Hmmm, according to this definition of evil – I’m really, really bad!?”

Earlier this week I had seen a facebook post about evil that also caught my attention. It pointed out the danger of accepting what was once evil, making laws in favor of it, and so on and on and on.

This made me wonder, Who’s deciding what is Evil? Is there an Evil Meter? Or questionnaire? Is there an Evil Council that listens to individual cases and passes judgement?

I’m a preachers kid with almost 60 years of watching the definition of Evil change. When my mom was young, cards, movie theaters, and bingo were Evil. When I was a kid, dances, rock music and drinking were Evil. Before the 90s, divorce was Evil. Recently a group who apparently sit on the Evil Council decided that the show Good Omens was Evil. That should have been my first clue of my Evil demise – I love Good Omens and watch it at least once a month. 

The definition of Evil has gone through a lot of revision…but has it really? Or have we lost what Evil really looks like. I believe the Holocaust was Evil. I think sending young men and women into crowded places with bombs strapped to their bodies is Evil. When a young person open fires on innocent peers, Evil is at work. I’ve watched drugs take over a person’s being and believed it to be Evil. 

It has never dawned on me that thinking good thoughts, desiring to live joyfully, accepting those who aren’t like me, offering love unconditionally, or finding one’s potential had Evil connections. I guess that is because – they don’t. 

However, diminishing the heaviness of what defines Evil to include differences of opinions or beliefs or life choices also diminishes the weight of the consequences of Evil – and that may just possible be Evil at its finest. 

Check out my latest release; Caffeinated! Stories from behind the counter of your local cafe.

Dear to my heart: please read: Raun’s story

Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai | Prickly Pear

Somehow our littlest one has turned one. She’s a socialite and her first word was “HI”. It’s no wonder, because every room she enters has someone new greeting her saying, “Hi, Amelia!”

Since we moved into this multi-generational crazy world, I’ve found myself frequently saying, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.” It’s fun to say and a bit of a pressure release. 

Once Amelia began adding to her vocabulary with words such as dada, didi, baba, mama, I thought it was time for her to learn my new favorite saying. 

“What does Neenee say?” I’d ask. Then I’d throw my hands in the air, toss my head back and say, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.”

Amelia caught on quickly and “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai” became part of her vocabulary.

The other day I glanced into the kitchen just in time to see her straddling the high chair and counter top. I froze for a moment and then jumped in and grabbed her. Mom had turn away for just a moment and when she turned back and we shared the same shocked and horrified look.

Mom took Amelia in her arms and hugged her. Amelia tolerated the hug for just a moment then pulled back, looked over at me, tossed her head back and exclaimed, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai!”

…at least she knows how to use it!!