Is a peaceful heart and peaceful mind possible in this wacky world? I’m waxing philosophical today. I hope you find this podcast educational and entertaining at the very least.
As always, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every week. I truly appreciate you all so much.
- Homestead Life Updates
- Peaceful Heart – Peaceful Mind
- Parmesan Peas
Homestead Life Updates
Herd Shares – When you purchase part of our herd you will benefit from fresh milk and yogurt in the summer with cheese and butter available year-round. Your cows graze each and every day on lush green pasture and freshly baled hay in the winter. They live a life a peace and tranquility in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plan a trip to the farm to visit them and see how we care for and manage them. Go to www.peacefulheartfarm.com/virginia-herd-shares for more information.
We have only three lambs this year. Speak up now and claim a half or a whole or forever hold your peace. Well at least until next year.
Same with the beef. This may be your last chance for beef raise on our homestead. We are streamlining our cattle operation to be strictly dairy. In the future, you’ll have to purchase a young calf and raise it up for beef on your own.
Choices, choices, choices. We are constantly faced with hard choices these days.
Should we get more Jersey cows or stick with the Normandes? New opportunities seem to continually present themselves. I’m leaning more towards sticking with the Normandes. Sure, Butter, the Jersey, is giving more milk, but we can breed for higher milk production. It is the temperament of the Normande that is so compelling. And the dual milk/beef characteristics. We have the option of selling every single calf we birth on the farm. But we can also keep one as needed for our own use as beef. Normande beef is superb. Yeah, I’m leaning toward keeping the Normandes central and the two Jersey girls will be the cream on top. (That’s a dairy pun.) Corny, I know.
Choices again. As we move forward at the farmer’s market, the interest in lamb is increasing. That’s another dilemma. I only have so much time in a day. At this point, my days are consumed with milking, making cheese and marketing milk and cheese. Scott and I have discussed significantly reducing the other animal populations. Specifically, the goats and sheep. It’s another task in my already overcrowded schedule to market those specialty meats. Who knew we would be faced with these kinds of choices? We love all of our animals. However, I have 10 lambs to sell next year. Will I have the time to do it effectively? Or will we fall into the trap that so many other small farmers do? Will we end up selling them at a loss just to make room for more that get sold at a loss again? Not likely. We are aware of the dilemma and are addressing it. But there it is. The choice is always before us of what we do with our time.
How much garden is the right amount of garden? If I don’t have a garden at all, then I must spend money at the market to make up the difference. Part of the choice of living the homestead life is the simplicity and living on less. It becomes like drinking water, a necessary part of your life. Else you go back to the rat race of spending the hours you currently use to garden with working for someone else. Nah, I think I’ll pass on that. Yeah, the garden will likely endure.
Not much in the way of updates there. We continually have choices to make, but for right now we have Normande cows, goats, sheep, donkey’s and quail – and a very large garden and orchard. Those will remain as they are and we will power through. Oh yeah, we can’t forget the bees. But we do. They are going fine on their own. One day we will rob some honey. But not today.
I’ll bet you guys have similar choices. Should you move to the country and build a homestead or create peace in your life right where you are and visit us every chance you get? Either will bring peace to your life. It’s always your choice is it not?
Peaceful Heart – Peaceful Mind
How does one get a peaceful heart? That’s a deep subject. I’ve worked on it for years and I continue to work on it. Maintaining peace, both inner and outer, is a full-time job – a lifetime job. There are techniques that help. Different choices can be made that will help. Self-discipline with your thoughts and mind helps. There are lots of things that can be done.
Here at Peaceful Heart Farm, we are constantly reminded of the desire for peace because of our name. What you think about becomes your life. We think about peace a lot. Living in the environment we do helps also. But it is not required. Not everyone can live the life we do – or even desires to live as we do. Having peaceful surroundings is not a prerequisite for experiencing peace. I must say, for us, it certainly helps. Whenever you get tired of the rat race and just want to escape to the country, you might have to make plans, drive a certain distance, hope that it is as you remembered, and so on. For Scott and me it is a matter of waking up in the morning and going outside to do morning chores and we are immersed in it – for the most part. We have awakened to disasters – animals we love may be ill and die. We lost Dora earlier this year. That was not pleasant and it disturbed my peace. But we move on.
Technique and Practice
One technique that I believe helps more than any other is maintaining a positive attitude. Looking on the bright side is another way to put it. I know it sounds trite and it is. The reason it is trite is it is ancient wisdom that works remarkably well. The idea has been passed down through the ages. Maintaining a positive attitude has endured because it works.
With practice, it becomes more and more a daily routine. Something happens, you choose to the see the positive. I know, I know, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. And truly there are some experiences that have no easily identifiable up-side. The loss of a loved one comes to mind. Sure, you can intellectually tell yourself over and over that they are in a better place. They are no longer in pain. The suffering is over and so on. But that does not take away the deep grief that grips your heart for quite a long time. But these are the exception to the rule. Most of our negative ideas about anything in our daily life are interpretations that we put on events. These interpretations are based on our beliefs, perception of the facts and past experiences. Yes. They are choices we are making. And you can get out of it.
A key phrase I put in there is “perception of the facts”. Likely you believe that facts are facts. (And there is truth in that.) Yet there is so much that we accept as fact that in reality is based in false perceptions. Our senses can fool us but we believe them anyway. It can become a kind of mind-reading that we believe to be fact. We make our belief that something is true into absolute knowledge that something is true. Confirmation bias is the common way of identifying the resulting misinformation.
Let’s say you are sure someone frowned at you because they don’t like you. Or you assume they are judging your weight, or your appearance, or your whatever. It is an illusion. One hundred percent of the time, it is an illusion. Truly, you have no idea what they think of you. In fact, they may not have even be truly aware of their surroundings and therefore are not thinking of you at all. Here’s an example.
Many years ago, I was standing in line at a grocery store. At the young age of 20 something, I had very little self-awareness. My thoughts ran wild and I lived in my own little world, often completely unaware of those around me. Surrounded by people, I would be in my own bubble of thoughts, floating along like a bit of flotsam on a river. Rolling along merrily without a care in the world – or at least completely unaware of what I cared about.
So, I’m in the grocery store checkout line and behind me a lady accidentally bumped into me. As a natural reaction, you would turn around, right? Just to see who it was. I turned around to look at her. I will never forget her reaction. She apologized profusely. Over and over she apologized. I frightened the bejesus out of her because of the look on my face. She said I looked so angry that she thought I was about to hit her. I apologized to her. To this day, I have no idea what I was thinking but it had absolutely nothing to do with her. Who knows what negative idea was roaming around in my head that day?
Two things came to my awareness from that experience. Number one, I saw that I needed to pay attention to my thoughts and how I displayed them on my face. Open anger at the world displayed in an unconscious manner was not how I wanted to live my life. It was not how I wanted others to know me. And number two, I began to wonder how many times I had assumed I knew what someone was thinking based on the expression on their face as they looked at me – or looked in my direction. What if they were not even looking at me but at someone else, or simply staring blindly in my direction. What if I was the farthest thing from their thoughts? How many times had I judged myself based on an inaccurate perception? And today, I recognize how self-centered that idea actually is. In reality, the most normal thing in the world is for every person to be spending so much thought energy on worrying about what someone else thinks of them to even consider making a judgement about what to think of the person in their field of vision.
One positive effect of that experience was that I purposefully trained myself to automatically smile at everyone I meet. It made an amazing difference in my life. I wanted to reflect to others that they are loved. No matter what they are thinking inside their very busy head. I wanted them to know that they are loved and that life is worth smiling about. Not everyone responds positively, but most do. Perhaps I made a small difference in their life. I can hope.
Personal Responsibility and Judgement
To make the transition to living a peaceful life, you have to stop thinking it’s somebody else’s fault. You have to stop thinking it is anyone else’s fault. There is no fault. Your life is a continuously playing video in your head. Whatever you think and believe shapes your reality. Think on something long enough and believe it hard enough and it becomes your reality. The good, the bad and the ugly. Take a care. The risks you take, the actions you perform, and your everyday experience of reality shape your life.
If you spend your time judging everything negatively, your life will continually reflect that negativity back to you. Here’s an example. A small one. Let’s say you are having a wonderful day. You are optimistic. Life is going along as you planned and you are content and peaceful. Now you stub your toe. Not enough to break anything, but hard enough to make you yelp. Perhaps you will take a moment to sit down and examine the damage. No blood, but perhaps a bruise will arise later. In this circumstance, the pain will dissipate fairly rapidly.
Now imagine you have that angry face that I just described. You are not even aware of the negativity that is boiling just under the surface. And you stub your toe in the same way. What is the result? Perhaps you start cursing to high heavens. Perhaps you scream loudly. You sit down and cradle your foot and begin to examine your toe. You howl and moan and curse because of the pain, your stupidity for not watching where you were going. Maybe someone left something in your path, you weren’t paying attention, and it caused you pain. But in your mind, it is the fault of the person who left it in your path. The pain, the wrath, the unhappiness, the negativity, the lack of peace can last a long time. Perhaps you feel a momentary jolt of happiness. Someone else did you wrong and that makes you right or righteous. But this is a very, very short-lived and fleeting experience. You may not even be aware of it, yet it is there. That brief experience – that split second of feeling good about yourself because you are better than someone else or they were wrong and you were right. Petty, egoic ideas that so often run wild in our minds.
That guy is fat. Her dress is rumpled. This other person is really stupid and slow and so on. He or she is a loser. Who left that tricycle in the walkway right where someone might trip on it? The more you make these kinds of judgements, the more you are going to separate yourself, the less peace you will have. And yes. You will feel good for an instant, a split second, because you’ll feel good about yourself. You will think, “I’m better than that” or “I’m better than them.” But later you are going to feel lonely. Later you are going to continue to see negativity everywhere. Your world is constantly reflecting your own negativity about yourself back at you. It is a never-ending cycle until YOU change. Not the other person. YOU.
Reality is neutral. Reality has no judgements. Reality simply is. To a tree or a chair or that door you stubbed your toe on, there is no concept of right or wrong. There is no good or bad. You are born. You embark on a journey of sensory experiences. There are lights, colors and sounds. And how you choose to interpret that is up to you. How you interpret them IS your life. You have that choice.
Happiness is a Choice
Peace and happiness are choices. Love is a choice. If you believe it’s a choice, then you can start working on it. You can affect your life. Life is peace because you choose to remain peaceful. Because reality is neutral, I can’t tell you how to find peace. It is your own conditionings, judgements and out of control thoughts that create the experience of unhappiness. You have to fix it for yourself.
Start with believing it is possible. Just because you are miserable today, does not mean that you must be miserable for the rest of your life. Perhaps you have dreams that seem out of reach. You may believe you will never get what you want in life. Sure enough. You will never get what you want in life. Your life will continually reflect that negativity back to you. “See, I knew I would never get that job,” you say. While all the while you unconsciously presented yourself as a loser to the interviewer. After all, in order for you to fulfill your vision of negativity, the pieces must be in place. On the other hand, if you went to the interview with confidence (even if you were faking it), your chances of landing the job just improved 10-fold or a 100-fold.
Let’s say you are looking for your dream property to live your idyllic life in the country. You have a specific budget in mind. There are specific activities you want to do on your homestead so infrastructure to support that ideal need to be in place. And then there are the optional things that you would like to have but they are not absolutely required. Once you have that idea in place, you set out on your journey to find the perfect place. You may look at fifty or a hundred or more properties. It’s easy to become discouraged. This one is the right price but no buildings. This one has buildings but they are not usable. The perfect one comes up and someone underbids you and steals it right out from under your nose. These things can lead to greater negativity and more feelings of “I’ll never get what I want.” The cards are stacked against me. And so on.
But you have to believe it’s possible. For much of my life, I was miserable and now I’m happy. I’m content. For the most part, I’m peaceful. And it’s not just the homestead. I got most of the way there before moving here permanently. I think that on the outside, it didn’t look like it. There were so many challenges. Listen to my podcast “Our Virginia Life” where I talk about the crazy path we took to get here.
How did I develop greater peace before the homestead? One thing was getting older. I just realized that life is short the time to live is now. Each step toward my ideal is where peace and happiness exist and nowhere else. I can see the future when I reflect, but I don’t focus there exclusively else I miss the wonder of today.
Confucius has a great saying. “Every man has two lives and the second starts when he realizes he has just one.” It’s your unlimited desires that are clouding your peace and happiness. Have desires, of course. But be mindful of your life as it exists today. Marvel at it. Fill your mind with the wonder of this moment. Isn’t it truly amazing that you even made it this far?
Change is gradual. It’s ongoing. It’s very personal. You have to decide it’s a priority. In everything that happens you can look at the bright side of things. Literally train yourself to think positively. There are always at least two ways you can see everything. As I mentioned earlier, there are some things that create acute suffering. Let’s put those aside for the moment and focus on every day experiences. You have the ability to slowly work through every negative judgement that you have until you see the positive in it. As you practice, it becomes second nature to you.
A Clear Mind. What’s That?
What you want to have is a clear mind. You want to let go of thoughts. Here’s an idea that you may not have noticed. Happy thoughts disappear out of your head automatically. It’s very easy to let go of them. On the other hand, negative thoughts linger. They play themselves out over and over and over. Normal daily experiences will trigger them and the record starts playing again. Over and over and over. We don’t let go.
When you develop the skill to interpret the positive in everything – and you learn to do it quickly, you let it go. You let it go quickly and easily and you are on to the next joyful and positive thought. How do you do that? The usual stuff you have likely heard throughout your life. Get out in the sun. Spend more time in nature. Learn to smile more. Learn to hug more. Create outward representations of happiness. These actions are feedback loops. You are literally choosing to experience happiness and your world reflects it. Reality still contains every single aspect of negativity also. All you have to do is look for it. Reality contains it all, but it is your mind that is judging it all.
Watch your mind. Watch your mind all day long as often as you think of it. Do not judge it. Do not try to control it. This is literally what it means to meditate 24/7. Watch your own thoughts like you would watch anything else in the outside world. Ask yourself, “why am I having that thought?” “Does that serve me anymore?” “Is that conditioning from when I was 10 years old?”
Beware of “why am I having that thought? Is there something wrong with me? Should I be thinking something else?” And so on. That’s not the same thing. That kind of thinking is a disease that keeps you from being happy. Let’s say your mind is just running and running, imagining what you are going to say to this person or that person when next you Meet. Perhaps you start rehearsing what you will say to that person – you may even rehearse speaking to them about how your mind is running on and on imagining what you are going to say to them. This is kind of thinking indicates a habitual thought pattern. You may think it is out of your control. It is not.
This line of thinking comes from the desire to sound smart. Not the desire to be smart. The desire to sound smart whether you know what you are talking about or not. It is a skill that was perfected at an earlier time in your life. That practiced skill hardwires you to always rehearse things to ensure you always sound smart. Literally, it’s a disease that keeps you from being happy. When you can see it – when you can realize that truth, when you understand it, your mind will naturally calm down. When you get there, you will stop rehearsing as much, though it will still be a trained habit. It will still clutter your mind from time to time. Keep at it. Note it. Be happy you noted it and it disappears.
You don’t have to live out in the country on a lovely homestead to be peaceful and happy. I won’t deny it makes it much easier for me. It makes it much easier to maintain, though there are still many things that can disturb my peace. Scott and I chasing escaped goats comes to mind. We often disagree on the best approach to getting those guys back inside a fence. Afterwards, I choose to love him and he choose to love me – even though we both may have treated the other poorly during the crisis. Peace in our hearts is regained – re-established.
Maybe someday peace will never elude us. I don’t know. Would we be bored then?
Peas are not exactly peace but close. Especially peas straight out of the garden. And don’t forget that wonderful cheese. You can use frozen peas if you need to. However, this time of year, fresh peas make all the difference in the world. Here’s what you need.
What you need:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 small shallots, sliced
- 1-pound fresh peas, (14 oz bag of frozen, thawed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- black pepper to taste
What to Do:
- Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of the salt and cook until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the peas and remaining salt and cook until the peas are soft but still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and toss.
- Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and black pepper. Serve hot.
That’s it. Let that flavor of fresh peas bring peace to your tongue and tummy.
Life is about choice. We choose happiness. We choose peace. We choose love. I hope my words helped you gained some insight into how you can add just a little more peace to your life. And you’ll certainly want to add those lovely fresh peas to your life. Visit us at the Wytheville Farmer’s Market. We have dairy not peas, but others will be there with their lovingly grown products. Visit us and visit them. We look forward to meeting you.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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