Frost Covered Staghorn Sumac

Today is the shortest day of the year for us northerners, and tomorrow the days begin to get incrementally longer. What a year it has been! Has every recent blog started with this statement? It sure feels like it. For me, here at Wildmoon Homesteading, it has been a slog interspersed with moments of beauty, laughter, love and epiphanies. Looking back on the summer in the garden, it feels amazing that it happened at all. Yet the tending of it sustained me through the strangeness. The doing, moving my body, feeling the heat, noticing the smallest things, has kept me sane. My perceptions expanded and my understanding of connections grew immensely, and continues to deepen; while my physical world shrunk to just a few locations outside of home. I think this actually allowed many of us the safe space to find new understanding and compassion for people different than ourselves, to read more, and branch out in new ways, even if just internally.

As the days turned gray and cold in the fall, I could feel the difficulty in finding joy in much of anything. It felt like my usual methods just wouldn’t do it under these unusual circumstances. I strung up holiday lights outside by October, safely road-tripped to my mom’s in Florida for some serious sunshine, and on the drive home fully immersed myself in amazing podcasts. I had always felt like I didn’t really have the time to listen before, like it was a distraction from my life, even though I knew there were so may amazing people sharing nuggets of wisdom that I would enjoy. Now, these podcasts are my inspiration, what feeds my brain and heart and keeps me motivated. So I thought I would share my favorite ones with you here in case you need some inspiration too.

ALL THE PODCASTS!

It started with Brene Brown and her podcast Unlocking Us. I don’t love every single one, but most are incredible and helpful. Her latest podcast project Dare To Lead is amazing so far. If we want to change the world for the better (which we do!) then we need leaders. And this is the kind of leaders we want to be and need. It’s what we’ve known we’ve needed, in our bosses, in our politicians, in our teachers, in ourselves; but never forming the words that encompass it and not seeing it very often in people. Count on Brene to find the words and not sugar coat it.

My newest favorite is Emergence Magazine Podcast. Every episode resonates deep in my bones. It’s the stories I need and the land and spirit connection we all silently crave more of. Their tagline is ecology, culture and spirituality, and they remind us of the importance of place, our history and those that were here before.

A daily enjoyment is the podcast Heart Wisdom with Jack Kornfield. Since my first days of visiting Zen centers and listening to Dharma talks in the 90s, I have enjoyed the tone and cadence that many Zen teachers have when speaking. Jack Kornfield has that voice. It holds your attention in the most subtle way, with teachings so simple from every day moments, and next thing you know – POW – your mind is blown and heart opened with a new perception, just like that. Start with this one Right Effort Loving Awareness. You’ll love it!

My favorite foodie/cooking podcast is The Splendid Table. I’ll admit I haven’t looked for any other cooking podcasts yet, and I’m sure there are a zillion out there. It’s finding that voice and rhythm, subject and angle that works right for you. Lastly, the podcasts The Doctor’s Farmacy with Mark Hyman, discussing all things super healthy, Covid support, and sustainable agriculture methods; and Travel with Rick Steves. He did a beautiful one on Christmas celebrations around the world, and it felt like I could see and feel these beautiful places, imagining being in Venice for Christmas one day or Santa Fe. The world is still out there and we will be able to explore in person again one day soon. Until then, these stories help us create and dream.

I have also returned to crock pot cooking. I have never done as much of this as I would like in past winters, but this winter I am newly inspired. I haven’t had the energy for the multi dish meal after more cooking than I have ever done in a year, so single dish meals is it. The latest is with a whole chicken, anise, cloves, smoked paprika, onions, garlic, celery, bay, basil and salt and pepper. It’s hearty, warming and the cloves and anise give it a holiday flavor.

Onions & Potatoes
The crock is loaded!
Baby Bay Tree

How are you seeking the light this year? What new ways have you discovered that bring you some joy in these hard times? Now, more than ever, these connections matter. Share in the comments or email me. I love to hear from you!

Whatever you do to celebrate the holidays, be kind and know you are loved.

Happy Solstice!

With love, Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson

I live with my husband, Jeff (jeffjosephwoodworker.com) on 34 beautiful acres in upstate New York. We share the dream of living "the good life" as described by Helen and Scott Nearing in their book by the same title. We have been refining that process at this location since 2003. I've been practicing the art of living well and close to Mother Earth with the help of teachers such as Tom Brown Jr., Carlos Castaneda, Lynn Andrews, John Jeavons, Scott & Helen Nearing, Jon Young and many herbalists including my first teacher Donna d'Terra. Join me as the adventure continues on many levels...

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Danielle Smith

    Suzanne,

    I was so happy to see Brene Brown as one of your first picks for podcasts! I think I already told you about podcasts I enjoy, but here are some, All my relations and This Land. I love everything Brene. I also love everything Suzanne! Love reading your updates and also seeing pictures of the land.

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