Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Children's Books of 2014

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Some of my favorite bloggers have been compiling lists of their favorite books of the year (which means my "to read" list is growing). I have read quite a few great books myself this year, but for some reason, the ones that stand out most are children's books. I loved so many children's stories this year. They were sweet, fun, wholesome, and beautifully illustrated.

So that's what I want to share.

First, a couple of notes: 1) These books may or may not have been published in 2014. I just happened to discover them this year. 2) I have provided Amazon affiliate links for each book. This is just so you can easily learn more about the book. If you happen to purchase using these links, Amazon may send a small amount my way which I will put toward blog expenses.

Now, on with the list!

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This book actually was newly published this year and is enchanting (as anything with unicorn in the title might suggest). Uni is a unicorn who believes that maybe, just maybe, little girls are real. I know... *swoon*

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
My friend handed me this book in a library saying it looked like one I might like. She was right. After reading it, I immediately ordered a copy to add to our own library. In it Ramon is discouraged from drawing by his big brother, until his sister points out that his picture of a vase may not be perfect, but it is "vase-ish." Ramon goes on to create all sorts of ish drawings.

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal, if that wasn't evident already. This magical book is about a girl who plants a kiss, then watches it grow. As if Amy penning the story wasn't enough, Peter H. Reynolds illustrated it.

Oliver's Tree by Kit Chase
A sweet story with equally sweet illustrations wherein woodland creatures help their elephant friend find a tree he can play in. As you might imagine, this is a tough task.

The Night Pirates: Pop-Up Adventure by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright
A fun adventure where a boy's house becomes the facade of a pirate ship sneaking around. Be sure to get the pop-up version because the pop-up creations are surprisingly elaborate at times and add to the magic of the story.

Kipper's A to Z: An Alphabet Adventure by Mick Inkpen
Kipper is a favorite in our family and this book wonderfully covers the alphabet while actually having a plot (as opposed to "A is for Apple").

Of course I read many wonderful children's books with my son this year, but these were my favorites. What are your favorite stories?

My Favorite Books This Year

Which may or may not have been published this year, but this is the year I happened to read them.

Nonfiction

This I Know by Susannah Conway
I love this memoir. Her words and her photos combine to create a beautiful exploration of how we get through life. This is the book I recommend most from this list. (See my review of it here.)

The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron
Whether you think you need to lose weight or not, this is a great book to get you thinking about the way you eat and how it affects you.

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss
A find your purpose sort of book with the approach of studying and finding your archetypes. I enjoyed learning about the archetypes and seeing how they fit me (or didn't).

Fiction

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
A magical house helps women trying to find themselves. I loved the characters in this story

When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler
While reading this story, I sometimes liked it and sometimes questioned whether I liked it. The fact of the matter is, though, I thought about it long after I'd finished it (and three more after it). I've continued analyzing and comparing characters and wondering about Rebecca's contentment.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Decent story throughout, but great because of the end. That's all I will say.

 

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dreaming on 2015 (and a new offering)

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Are you thinking about 2015? Me, too. This is the time of year where I reflect on the closing year and the one to come. What lessons did I learn? What do I want to learn? What do I want to practice?

Part of my reflecting on the coming year is a medicine card reading. Twelve cards - one for each month - that give me something to think about. What energy might the new year bring? How will I be able to use that energy or learn from it?

Medicine cards are my choice for this type of reading because the animals help me feel connected to the earth and the energies they represent help me look at things in a new light.

I note my cards and their meanings in my planning journal (I use Susannah Conway's Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook and I highly recommend it. It's free, so go print yours!). I think about what kind of flow might happen if I took advantage of these energies throughout the year.

Then at the beginning of each month I study the message of that month's card. I think about how it applies in my own life, how I might use the message to better myself or a situation I'm in. It's a beautiful way to bring myself back to mindfulness and to think about things from a different perspective.

This is a practice I have enjoyed for years as a way to welcome the new year and the fresh start it represents.

For the first time ever, I am offering personal year-ahead medicine card readings. Twelve cards pulled just for you to use however you wish in dreaming about 2015.

When you purchase a reading, within 2 days (or possibly 3 if it spans a weekend) I will send you an email with a photograph of your personal cards and an explanation of each month's card. You may wish to print the email and tuck it in your own planning journal or fill them in on the oracle pages of your planning workbook if you are using something like Susannah Conway's workbook.

Sound interesting? Buy your 2015 medicine card reading here. You may also want to give one as a gift. Just a thought.

Happy dreaming!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winner of the Inner Alchemy Giveaway

MindyTsonas-IACair buttonWe have a winner!

In her interview last week, Mindy Tsonas graciously offered a spot in her upcoming Inner Alchemy circle beginning in January.

I enjoyed Mindy's Inner Alchemy: Earth Coven this fall and will be joining again for the Air Coven (thank you, Mindy!).

So... who will be joining me?

Well, here's how I decided. There were two comments: Paola commented first and Alina second. So I assigned Paola to odd numbers and Alina to even and rolled a die. Number three came up.

Congratulations, Paola! I can't wait to have you by my side in the Air Coven. Watch for an email from me.

For full details on Inner Alchemy: Air Coven and to register, head over here to say YES to the adventure.

 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Interview: Mindy Tsonas

How about another interview? I am so enjoying these. I love to see how everyone answers the same five questions in different ways.

Today's guest is Mindy Tsonas- a Wish Alchemist, Life Artist, and Feminist Girl Guide on the path of wild discovery and deep integration.

I recently "met" (online, as it were) Mindy through her Inner Alchemy: Earth Coven course where we made our own beautiful decks. You know, I love my oracle decks! Incidentally, Mindy is giving away a spot in January's Inner Alchemy: Air Coven to one Live Wonderstruck reader. Keep reading for details on how to enter!

Mindy's spirit came through as calm and gentle. I couldn't wait to introduce her here to all of you. Please welcome Mindy.

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I am always wonderstruck by the magic of kindred community. It never ceases to amaze me how one connection can lead to something new and exciting, and by reaching out and putting yourself out there, real friendships and collaborations can be born! It's truly the foundation of my creative life, and I couldn't me more grateful for such wonderful energy, especially in my Inner Alchemy Circles where we are creating so much magic together!

What part of your day are you grateful for? 

I am most grateful for my mornings. I am a creature who thrives on routine and alone time. Once my kids are of to school and stillness descends on my usually noisy and chaotic house, I feel myself hit my stride and the creative juices start to flow. It's my best time to write and do my work, and it is also the time I love to dream and pour all my energy into making them happen.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it? 

The hardest part of my day is in the waning hours from about 5 til about 7pm. My kids are tired and hungry, there is homework and laundry and dishes to be done, sometimes overflow of work - it's the usual stuff of life. I try to make it more manageable by putting on music or letting my youngest help me cook dinner and making it fun. We get outside whenever possible, and walk to the beach to break up the energy, as we all find being in nature to be really grounding and calming.

What do you wish your were more conscious of? 

I practice being present to my life as much as possible. It's never perfect and always a challenge to really be in the moment with whatever is in front of you, but I am working on this kind of daily consciousness and attention to the small things. I find the more I can move through my world this way, the more ease there is in my day to day, but there are always bumps along the way.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

I usually am very focused on work related things that are my passion and calling. It is harder for me to keep that passion in harmony with family and friends and other commitments. Since I love what I do and work for myself, it can be a challenge for me to stay focused on the totality of my life. It's not a bad problem to have, to love what you do, and I do not believe in the idea of balance as I think it's an ideal that can set us up for failure, but I do try to stay focused on the big picture by creating clear boundaries around work and making plenty of time for other joyful pursuits. I love teaching my kids to follow their dreams, as we live it together one day at a time!

MindyTsonas-IACair button Giveaway!

Mindy has generously offered a free spot in her upcoming Inner Alchemy online course to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight Eastern time on Sunday, December 7th.

In the New Year, on the first Full Moon, we will gather in our creative coven to honor AIR!

This season brings a new story... Animal Spirits and Archetypes

We are embracing wide open energy of emerging intuition

Our online gathering, January 4-17, 2015, will be centered around making your own one-of-a-kind Air Alchemy Deck. You'll be guided with stirring prompts and easy how-to's to create and infuse each of your cards with insight and deep personal meaning.  A keepsake and record of all of your soulwork will be collected and compiled in your beautiful, downloadable Inner Alchemy workbook, new this year! You will also learn unique ways to use these cards as a powerful tool in your creative life and work.
You will be accompanied by a gorgeous group of guides:

 



Heather A.Mattern * Jessica Borgan * Lisa Field Elliot * Julie Gibbons * Lisa Lister * Renee Magnusson * C. Delia Mulrooney * Amanda Oaks * Leah Piken Kolidas * Rachael Rice * Andrea Scher * Mindy Tsonas*

For full details and to register, head over here to say YES to the adventure.

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Sherri jumping in here again to say I joined Mindy for the fall Inner Alchemy course and it was amazing. You don't need to consider yourself an artist, nor do you need to have experience reading cards. I cannot stress this enough- no experience necessary! Mindy and her fellow guides will walk you through everything and the participants are so encouraging and welcoming. So leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway or follow the link Mindy provided to sign up. I will be there, too!

About Mindy:

Mindy Tsonas is a Wish Alchemist, Life Artist, and Feminist Girl Guide on the path of wild discovery and deep integration. Unabashed creativity, authentic sexuality, and daring personal alchemy are her touchstones. By sharing her own story, work and adventures, she carves out sacred space to honor the hard conversations that lead to better understanding and kinder self knowledge. She is a provocateur and heart-centered healer who is passionate about learning to trust the truth of our own desires. Find out more at www.mindytsonas.org

 

Update December 8, 2014: The giveaway is now closed. Here is the winner announcement.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Interview: Suzie the Foodie

Thanksgiving is upon us as I'm sure you are well aware. (If you live in the United States, that is. For my friends around the world, keep reading anyway. This isn't just about that.)

I feel like I'm digressing already. Let's get back on track. The point is we have gratitude and food on our minds, so this interview is perfectly timed. I'm kind of excited about it. (Okay, really excited about it.)

Today's guest is Suzie Ridler, also known as Suzie the Foodie. She's kind of awesome. And there's a recipe at the end in case you're looking for a yummy dessert for tomorrow's feast. (Told you... awesome.)

Meet Suzie.

SuzieRidler4What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I have been wonderstruck by my recently weird obsession with all things foodie retro. Dishes, cookbooks, kitchen artwork complete with mushrooms and lots of orange. It shocks me because in the 70s all those things drove me crazy! Now I see the innocence and charm of the time period and it makes me feel at home. I am also obsessed with adding colour to my kitchen which used to be just glass, wood and stainless steel. I am realizing that as a foodie, individuality is important to me. Not just when it comes to the food but with the presentation. It is not quite there on my blog yet but I am getting there.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I am so grateful for the afternoon after my blogging and daily walk when I get to have fun in my kitchen. It is usually the best time for taking photographs and I never know what I am going to do. Hence lots of "kitchen adventures" (AKA realizing you do not have an ingredient halfway through the process) brew up in the afternoons but that is part of my story with food.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

When 4 pm hits, my energy absolutely crashes. I have fibromyalgia and that is when I usually hit the couch until dinner time. Lately I have been trying to avoid the couch at that time of day and make sure I am anywhere where I can not lie down and see how I feel. If I really need the rest, I will rest. But if I feel OK, maybe I can shoot a kitchen video.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

In some ways I really wish I was more conscious of a focus when it comes to food. I honestly have no idea what I am going to do in my kitchen each day until I am in there and then I just follow the energy. As a result, my food writing and photography are completely random but sometimes I wonder if it would be smarter to target a particular foodie project. When I do though, I get hopelessly depressed. I seem to thrive on freedom so no focus yet and it has been over five years of food blogging!

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

SuzieRidler2I love learning and sharing but I think what is truly important to me is to share my story and truth. If a recipe was hard and frustrating, I tell the story. I want to entertain, inspire and include others in what is going on in my kitchen and life. It is not always positive but it is always true. There is no energy in lies and just writing a recipe bores the hell out of me.

It's me, Sherri, jumping in here. Check this out. It's our first interview that came with a recipe: White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. You know, in case you're still working on your menu for tomorrow. (Or if you thought you were finished until you saw that.) Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

SuzieRidler1About Suzie Ridler:

Suzie Ridler is known as Suzie the Foodie and has been having foodie adventures in her kitchen for over five years. She is a writer, photographer, product reviewer and rebel.

Follow Suzie here:
www.suziethefoodie.com
YouTube: suziethefoodie
Facebook: @suziethefoodie
Twitter: @suzieridler
Pinterest: @suziethefoodie

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Post-deadline Afterglow

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Hello, world. I’ve missed you. Okay, so it’s only been two weeks since my last post, but it feels a lot longer.

I had three editing projects all due within a week of each other, so as the deadlines approached I ducked further into my cave, shutting off the world, ignoring phone calls, missing friends. It was a time of buckling down and doing what needed to be done, even if it meant my three-year-old watched a lot of TV while I worked.

Yesterday was the last of the three deadlines and it was glorious. I spent the morning doing back-to-back loads of laundry, cleaning my kitchen, paying bills, completing preschool paperwork. Okay, I realize that may not sound glorious, but it was. I find that when I’ve been in my cave of work, the everyday minutiae of housework is gratifying.

Midday I settled in with a blanket on a sunny couch for a 15-minute nap. Usually that short amount of time wouldn’t be enough for me to fall asleep so it would be frustrating, but yesterday in the post-deadline afterglow I must have gone right out.

In the afternoon I soaked up the warm 70-degree weather (a welcome change from the bitter low 30s we had last week) while my son played in his sandbox.

The mail brought the new Bella Grace magazine and an artsy deck of oracle cards. I’m pretty certain the universe was trying to help me celebrate.

Last night my husband and I went grocery shopping to get our final needs for Thanksgiving (another box checked off), then we worked together on a new soup recipe (which was delicious). We cuddled on the couch and watched a few episodes of Warehouse 13 and after putting my son to bed, I took a bubble bath and read on my new Kindle.

By nighttime, the cold that has been mildly afflicting me for the last two weeks turned into a full-on sore throat and this morning, I definitely feel it coming on with a vengeance. But even that doesn’t bother me too much because at least it remained small while I had to work and gave me a day of catch-up and rest before hitting harder.

The point is this: everyday life is sweet. In the afterglow of deadlines that is extra apparent. And I’m thankful that the universe gave me just the day I needed to reconnect with the sweetness.

Today I’ll settle in with warm drinks, leftover soup, and the exhale of accomplishment.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Flecks #30

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As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning and celebrating.

Things I learned this week:



  • Wordpress hates me, I think. After 20 minutes working on a post, it produced an error and lost my work. Grrrr. Lesson: Type the post elsewhere first, then paste it into Wordpress.

  • How to clean my washing machine. (I'm not sure how it gets so gross to begin with, but for now it looks almost new.)

  • The motor vehicle building is quick to get through on a rainy day.

  • I can write more than I think I can.


Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • My husband is back safely from his business trip.

  • Starting a new online course called Write Your Freakin' Heart (+ guts) Out.

  • Writing. I've done a fair amount of it this week.

  • So much progress on an editing job.

  • Exploring a neighboring town which I drive through all the time, but never really visit. (The above photograph of chairs is from there.)


Things that are resonating with me:


AnnapurnaLivingI've spent a lot of time this week on Annapurna Living, a site launched Monday by Carrie-Ann Moss. (Remember Trinity from Matrix? Yes, that Carrie-Ann Moss.) Her goal with the site is to nourish, uplift, and inspire the fierce, feminine soul.

Yes.

A bunch of amazing women are contributing, including Alisha Sommer who graced us with an interview earlier this year. Incidentally, one of my goals is to be a contributor.

The Wild Surrender of Motherhood by Carrie-Ann Moss in which she says, "As children, we do not remember so much what we had or did not have, but we will remember the spirit of our mother, we will remember the feeling of her happiness, the feeling of her ability to love us and to be joyful." This is a good reminder for me on how to live right.

The Secret Life of Vulnerability by Hillary Rain wherein she says, "To be vulnerable is to allow for the possibility of suffering. But it’s also to allow for the possibility of living. We can’t have one without the other."

Your turn:


What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Through the Eyes of a Child (more photos from Jonas)

Remember a few weeks ago when I realized how much fun it was to hand my camera to my three-year-old and see the world through his eyes? Well, I'm still doing it.

Here are some highlights from Jonas's latest photo shoots...

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That's real life, folks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Interview: Stefanie Modri

Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives. Which is exactly why I love this interview series.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Stefanie Modri. Stefanie is an obstetrics nurse and founder of The American Garden Tool Co. which, as the name implies, sells all American-made garden tools.

She has taught me a lot about organic gardening and is brilliantly helping Jeff and I dream up plans for our new farm. (Incidentally, our husbands went to high school and college together, so I have them to thank for meeting this fascinating woman. Thanks, guys!)

Meet Stefanie.

StefanieModriWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I asked my husband to help me answer this and he said, "Honey, you are constantly wonderstruck!" He's right. I am. I guess I'll choose the most recent wonderstruck event--the process of moving a house down the street, around the corner, wherever, but without it all falling apart. Just the concept of up and moving a whole house has intrigued me for years. 

Recently, we were in Cape May, New Jersey. The Angel by the Sea bed and breakfast, I learned, used to be one big house further away from the beach. At one point, the home was moved to be closer to the beach. However, it was so large that it had to be cut into two halves to successfully move it. What looks like two homes joined by a walkway is actually one big home, split and settled further apart than it originally was. I am fascinated that a house doesn't shift and become an utter wreck by the time it lands in its new destination.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Since I work night shift, I am thankful when I am able to sleep in my own bed at night. Often times, I want to tell others to be thankful for sleeping in their bed at night, every night. However, it wouldn't really mean anything to them if they never have to work at night away from their home. I am also thankful to have a husband readily available every morning to help get our children to school on time and safely.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

I think the only part that is tough is the after school homework and getting dinner ready time. I have come to deal with it better by 1) trying to have a part of the dinner prepared before they come home from school, 2) shutting off technology and not making phone calls or doing business work during the after school time, and 3) sitting next to the kids when they do their work, rather than just hovering over and visiting them while they work. The kids and I can stay on task better this way and we each have less distractions. Plus, I can watch them do their work, which helps to catch mistakes they may make and can help them to improve their learning.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

The faces I make. I know I make faces. I don't have a poker face. I would also like to be more conscious of the odd things I say. I am just being me but I may not always realize how my words are being interpreted.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Lists, lists and more lists. I balance being a wife, mother of two, commuting nurse, business owner, writer, community member and several other roles by making blocked lists of the different segments of my life. I take a piece of paper, fold it into eight sections and title each section. The lists of goals/what needs to get done for each section help me to stay focused and not get overwhelmed. Otherwise, the list looks like it is 50 items long! I also take long baths and naps, early and often. I don't indulge in expensive gifts for myself but I do like to vacation. Ultimately, I try to think about what I will be happy about when I die. I am happy to spend time with my whole family and I try to do things that I completely enjoy, even if I am not perfect at doing them.

StefanieModri3cropAbout Stefanie Modri:

I have been an obstetrics nurse for over 16 years, have lived in Hawaii, love to travel to Europe and enjoy running my company, The American Garden Tool Co. I have completed two sprint triathlons: the first one, I came in second to last; the second one, third to last. I had a blast doing each of them, and met my goal to just finish and have fun--even if I only started training a few weeks beforehand.

I am married and have two kids. And I knew I was going to marry him the moment I saw him 17 years ago. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Collecting Soul Samples

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As you may already know from last week's post, my husband and I recently collected soil samples at our new farm.

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A few times during the afternoon, I typed on my phone about it. Every time I did so, the oh-so-helpful spellcheck changed it to "soul sample."

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And while having to fix it repeatedly was frustrating, I was struck by the sentiment. Because when I am at the farm, I feel my soul cup filling.

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I feel connection and peace. I am truly collecting soul samples.

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How lucky we are to have found this space.

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How much luckier we will be to call it home.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Flecks #29

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As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning and celebrating.

Things I learned this week:



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Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • Halloween! I experienced my first trunk-or-treat. My friend Laura and I went in on a trunk together. Her husband lent his drawing skills for this Great Pumpkin theme.


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Happy Halloween!

Your turn:


What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

 

 

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Colors of Fall

I don't have a lot to say today. Nothing really. Sometimes being wonderstruck is more about seeing. And when you're seeing what we're seeing, how could you feel anything but?

Here is how we are experiencing fall in New Jersey.

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Plus, a few from the farm...

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Mother Nature is dressed in her finest. And that, my friends, is worth seeing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interview: Sonia Marsh

Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives. Which is exactly why I love this interview series.

This week we are visited by Sonia Marsh, author of the award-winning Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, and the founder and editor of the My Gutsy Story® Anthology series, the latest of which will be released on November 1st. Be sure to check out the details at the end of this post.

Now, please welcome Sonia.

SoniaMarshWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

This might come as a shock to those who know me online, but my life has taken a dramatic change since my marriage is ending after 28 years. What has surprised me more than anything, and left me “wonderstruck,” is the amazing support I’ve received from so many people. I had forgotten how kind people truly are, and how willing they are to help. Thanks to not being afraid to ask people, and to all my networking, I’ve found a beautiful room to rent in a peaceful location, with an older lady from Germany, who is energetic, travels, works online, and helps me as a daughter. I am so happy I found her as my life is moving in the direction I have wanted for a long time.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I love each part of my day for various reasons.

The morning, for my cup of coffee and the gym where I love to work out and chat with friends.
I enjoy what I do as far as coaching writers on how to promote their books, helping doctors with their blogs and social media, house-sitting, and always thinking of what can I create next as a job for me, or write about.

I enjoy networking events and attending workshops and learning more and meeting new people.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

The middle of the night is the toughest for me. When I wake up and think about all the things I have to do the next day, and wonder if I can get them all done.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

I am always thinking of global events rather than simply on what’s going on in my own life. I want to make a difference internationally.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

I follow who I am, and I am who I am. Of course I have faults, but I only focus on my tasks and where I hope to be in the future. I love people and learning from different cultures, so my daily routine is geared towards reaching my goals, but not in an organized and rigid way, just in a “natural” way for me.

About Sonia Marsh:

SoniaMarshBookCoverBesides being an award-winning author as aforementioned, Sonia is the “Gutsy” book coach for authors who are not celebrities with a disposable six-figure budget to publish and market their books.

Her new book--the second My Gutsy Story® Anthology: Inspirational Short Stories About Taking Chances and Changing Your Life--launches on November 1st. Sign up to join the launch where there will be a PBS-SoCal TV moderator, a panel of interesting authors, wine, appetizers and raffle prizes.​

Find Sonia here:

Website: http://soniamarsh.com
E-mail: sonia@soniamarsh.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GutsyWriter
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GutsyLiving
Join My Facebook Group: Gutsy Indie Publishers
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GutsyLiving
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/soniamarsh/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Gutsywriter
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/soniamarsh/

Monday, October 27, 2014

Soil Testing and Learning What I Don't Know

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The scariest thing about going from hobby gardener to farm owner is that I feel like I need to know things now. Things that I don't know. In fact, I don't even know what I don't know.

Right now if my tomatoes don't come up, I say, "that sucks," and move on with my day. Last year when a groundhog ate my entire garden, I was upset. It was wasted work, but at least I could go to the grocery store.

At the farm, things will be different. Because we are hoping to grow and preserve more food for ourselves and also sell our harvests, the trial and error approach I'm used to taking is less practical.

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So right now I'm learning everything I can. I'm talking to organic certification specialists, conservation specialists, and I'm looking for experienced farmers willing to answer dumb questions.

I've signed up for a two-day bionutrient workshop. It's probably important to mention that last week is the first time I heard the term bionutrient. This course is supposed to teach me how to analyze soil samples, naturally enrich the earth, and have a productive growing season.

This means, of course, that I need to get the soil tested. Which means I needed to collect soil samples. Which means I needed to learn how to collect soil samples.

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After a call to my local Agway, some online searching, and watching a helpful video from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, I loaded up the truck and Jeff and I headed to the farm.

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We spent the afternoon going from field to field. We moved top soil, dug down six inches, and collected samples in a bucket. After collecting multiple scoops from a single field, we mixed the soil in the bucket to get a representative sample, filled a sandwich baggie, and labeled it. Then we repeated this process in each of five fields.

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Then we played a little dirtball baseball. Because we could.

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My next step is to fill out some paperwork and ship the samples off to a testing facility. When the bionutrient workshop rolls around, I'll learn how to read the reports and how to act on the results. I hope.

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I almost let not knowing how to test my soil keep me from signing up for this workshop. Thankfully I ignored that fear voice and realized the point of going to the workshop is because I don't know. I need to learn.

And I will. I will keep going, keep trying, keep asking. I will learn how to farm.

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