Be Open to the Moments

It has been a while since I read the poem that I found pasted to the door of the room we made our first treatment room. While family was in town over the weekend, I was giving them a tour of the Farm Spa and paused to read it with them. I told them the story about how and when I discovered it, and what an amazing gift it was to discover it in that way at that exact time. 

I don't know why sometimes we are given those little gifts, but I love the moments in which they come. Little reassurances that we are on the right path. A magical little window in time through which I can see clearly.

One of my favorite lines, "When we open our hearts and our dreams up to see."
That's the trick, when we open. And, we have the power and choice to open those windows, those moments in time exist because we are open to see them. That's the thing I am constantly learning. That's the place where I want to live, to always dwell in a space where my heart and my dreams are open. Open to love, and truth, and boldness, and dreams. 

"Don't let the dream stealers take it from you
Know in your heart what you're doing is right
Fix firmly your goals and keep them in sight."

If I've heard once, I've heard a thousand times my mother say, "Be strong in your convictions." And every time I feel my heart tug, my soul want to do just that. 

How can I be bold, and firm, and strong, and open, and a dreamer all at once? Yet these are the qualities it takes to do the work of our heart, our passion, that which we were created to do. In many ways it makes perfect sense that these qualities are what it takes to do that work. It also makes perfect sense when I think back to all the times I've doubted and struggled. Dreams and the boldness to follow them comes from being firmly grounded in their true purpose. That purpose is what must be fixed firmly in sight, always. That purpose is what must be constantly defined and held in truth and love.

If you've ever read any of Marianne Williamson's work, she speaks about love being the only truth.  I believe this too, and love is all that remains.


Following Your Heart is Hard Work

Work is a very individual act. How we define it, how we quantify it, how we give it meaning, how we value it; these are all important perspectives in the discussion of work.  In a family who works, at their jobs, in their free time, out of necessity, for fun, to busy our hands and quiet our minds, for the joy of accomplishment, because it is what we do. Work is also the topic of many of our discussions. We discuss simple things like our latest project or progress as well as the very definition of what we want our everyday work to be. How will it shape our lives into that of something meaningful? How will our children view our work, our life’s accomplishments, what will it mean to them and all those who come after? Does it really make a difference? Is it all worth it?

Is it all worth it? That is the one I ask myself on a nearly daily basis. My work requires hard labor sometimes, heartbreaking losses sometimes, repetitive monotony sometimes, big risks sometimes, financial hardships sometimes, and love always.

I put my heart into everything I do. Most days it feels good.

There is a creativity to all of it whether its figuring out just the right combination of essential oils for a bath scrub, designing store fixtures out of stuff we already have, using what’s in the pantry to get dinner on the table, or finding solutions to keep our animals safe and healthy.

Sometimes the creativity is what drives me and challenges me; sometimes the creativity is what threatens me and makes me feel the most vulnerable. 

People talk about working in the flow, a place where things come together and move forward with ease. I think I feel this in many aspects of my work, but it is still work. Hard work. Hard because I have to feel that what I’m doing is the right thing, the thing that’s gonna take me somewhere, somewhere I’ll be glad to have gone. Hard because sometimes, it’s just physically hard work. Hard because someone is gonna be critical and say it doesn’t matter, and I have to know it does.

I was talking with a friend recently about how hard it is to put out into the world something with a piece of your heart in it. I told her how much I struggle with feeling so vulnerable and anxious. She said to let those feelings drive you. Feel them. She said what I’ve heard other creatives and entrepreneurs say, feel those feelings and let them push you to do your best. Even suggesting that the times when she didn’t feel the nervousness and anxiousness, she didn’t perform as well.

Work is hard, life is hard, but the more heart I give it, the more it means, the more it is worth, the more love and feeling and happiness and goodness it is.


Out of the Eclipse

In spirit of the lunar eclipse this morning, I am posting a series of before and after photos of Bem General. If you were able witness the beauty of transformation this morning from the faint darkened glow of the eclipsed moon fade slowly back into full brightness, you may perhaps find similarities in these photos. With every forward step we take, life's breath comes back into the space.

I can feel it awakening, calling, and readying for more.

The before photos are from one of our first events featuring resale and consignment goods. The after photos are of our evolution into a Vintage Rental, Venue, Farm Spa, and Artisan and Farm Goods Store.


The ceiling color was taken back to a Vintage Beadboard White, before years of cigarette smoke accumulated. This much brighter color reflects light from the new industrial inspired IKEA fixtures. Walls were covered in a lighter version of our SchoolHouse Slate custom chalkboard paint.


Schoolhouse Slate covered walls provide a backdrop for the original enamel green store shelves and artisan goods they now hold.


Our SchoolHouse Slate walls proudly tell a bit of the artists' and artisans'  stories behind the goods they produce.


Warm green paint and a salvaged door wall create an inviting reflexoloy and massage space in one of the Farm Spa treatment rooms.

An original light fixture freed from layers of cigarette tar and retrofitted with a mason jar lights the space.


Farm Spa Green sets the tone for serenity, covering the original and pallet clad dividing walls of the remaining four spa rooms.


The Farm Spa sitting room with it's salvage door wall, vintage wingbacks, and artisan table by Cooper Woodworking.

Visit bemgeneral.com for more information on booking a spa session or event.


Bem General's Heart

Our general store is located in a small farming community called Bem. It’s a place where people are from. A place people come back to, if only for the ice cream at the Bem Church picnic. Bem Church recently celebrated it’s 145th anniversary with a Heritage Day. Members arrived in period clothing, letters and spoken word were heard from past clergy, and many stories told of family and friends through the years. Members whose families had founded the church were recognized. What a fun and fascinating day! I’m continually amazed by the rich history of our community. 

People often come into the store and ask me if I’m from here and my answer is always yes, and no. My family is from here now, but hasn’t been here for generations; I think at least 3 generations is the requirement to be considered from here. ;) I do have many memories of the store as a child as do all the members of our community who frequented what was then Kreter Store. When giving a tour of our Farm Spa, one of my favorite memories to recall is that I and my two cousins took piano lessons in what is now one of our massage rooms. I tell about how the Farm Spa used to be the living quarters and our massage room was the living room, and the piano sat on that wall right there. I still picture it there sometimes when I step into that room, with the metronome ticking away. 

Working in a place with such rich history, that houses so many memories, the good country childhood kind of memories, is something I am very grateful for. Bem is the kind of place that makes your heart sing, it’s the kind of place you feel. It’s the kind of place you love that stays with you forever, whether you’re just passing through, from here, or FROM here. 

All these things and more are why I feel so passionate about bringing the healing arts work and local food work that I and my fellow practitioners and farmers do, to life here. At the heart of Bem is community, the strength of it’s community is service. What we do here at Bem General is serve in a healing way, in a nourishing way, and in a creative way. We have fun, we laugh, and we gather. 

I invite you to make time to experience Bem and bring a friend. We’d love to have you!
I’d also love to hear some of your stories (even if we’ve heard them before, tell us again, here) they never grow old. Comment below with a favorite memory, recent or not. 


Moving and Being

I moved the cows yesterday, closer to the house. I love having them in the front pasture where I can look up from the kitchen sink and see them grazing or napping in the sun. 

Just in time too, my Cricket should be calving very soon. When I went to gather them up yesterday, she was lazily lounging in the afternoon sun. I scratched her behind the ear and then laid across her back and petted her mile-wide belly. She is my favorite girl, don’t tell the others. She is the one that instantly makes me smile. She is the one that always calls back first when I call to the herd. Actually, most of the time she calls me first. Isn’t that the way it goes though, with animals and kids? They train us much better than we train them. I promise, she knows the sound of my truck and my voice instantly. It’s impossible not to smile when I look up and see those big brown Jersey eyes already trained on me, waiting to see what I might bring. 

Cricket was my first Jersey calf, she was love at first sight. Honestly, all my girls have been. Last year was her first year calving and she had a rough time. She still-birthed two beautiful little bulls, and was down for a day. My heart was broken for a bit. But, then she got back up and became one of my easiest milkers yet. 

This year I’m anticipating a better outcome. There’s not much in life that brings more joy, happiness, and contentment than a healthy beautiful baby on the ground. Well maybe fresh milk, butter, yogurt, cheese…they can make me pretty happy too.

I realized when I went out to gather the girls yesterday, that these are the joyful moments that keep me going. I was dreading it a bit, not for any  reason in particular. I love being with my cows. But, in the moments before heading out, it was just another thing on my To-Do-List which, by the way, seems to grow exponentially. It’s crazy to me how at times, even the things I love to do, are clouded with dread and infiltrated by procrastination. Over and over again I fight this same battle! I’m not exactly sure why, maybe I’m just really lazy at heart and have a severe case of denial about it. I’m cleverly disguised as a productive, responsible adult…I don’t know. 

I do know, however, taking action is the only thing that cures it. When I stop thinking and do, I’m miraculously cured of the dread and overwhelm. Suddenly I’m in those joyful moments that do make the work worth it. I’m reminded that this is one of the things I love most about farming and living in the country, there’s an abundance of laborious work. (did I just say that!) Really though, nothing clears my head and cures my overwhelm like work. Work that I don’t really have to think about. Work that once started, just flows. Through the freedom of movement, I can begin to think again and dream and be. 

           Miss Cricket, Beauty Queen


Pink Flamingo Smoothie

2 C TAZO scarlet citrus rooibos tea
3 T coconut oil
1 T or packet gelatin
1 C unsweetened grape juice 
juice from 1 lime


Brew 1 tea bag scarlet citrus tea in 2 cups hot water, remove bag. Dissolve gelatin in warm tea. Dissolve coconut oil in warm tea/gelatin mixture. Add all ingredients except ice to blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Add ice to fill blender, blend until smooth. Garnish with lime and enjoy!


Resistance and Gratitude

Chores! Why do I sometimes feel like I'm the only one who does them? Right now my bathrooms desperately need to be cleaned, especially the master, and I just don't wanna do it!
So here it goes, instead of feeling put upon to clean a filthy dirty bathroom, I'm going to be grateful that I have a chore to do which gives me purpose and in the end joy, because I LOVE a clean bathroom.
I'm making room for gratitude.
I recently cleaned out our closet and had the same feelings about it. Clothes were scattered everywhere, I had to dig through a pile on the shelf every morning for underwear and turn a blind eye to the piles of unused shoes and clothes that filled the corners.
After removing everything we no longer needed or wore, there's space! When I open the door to my closet in the morning I feel happy and peaceful instead of agitated and overwhelmed. I love my closet now and that's just a closet, imagine how a whole room feels!
I know the idea here is simple, and definitely not new, but I have to stop and think sometimes about why I get so resistant to doing the simple things that need done. I can be pretty good at putting my blinders on and moving through a space without taking the care that it needs, when I get busy or am rushing. The mistake I make is feeling like I'm the only one. Life is busy. Physically taking time to put effort into simple chores gives my brain time to slow down.
Often the perspective I gain through these intentional chores (while it may feel like pulling teeth sometimes) has potential for as much a source of joy as the end result.
On this morning I am grateful for the ability to provide clean bathrooms and closets for myself and my family.
It's the little things ;)