Pockets of the Future Blog

Striving to live now as all will live in the future.

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    Three Ennobling Truths Contained in “My Friend Within”

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from our Bamboo Grove Press blog.

    It appears to be a small thing, really, to make the switch from focusing on an external God somewhere off in the distance to an internal God or Friend that is right there in your heart as your constant companion. In reality, however, having made this small change is what has brought us so many great Masters, saints, prophets and mystics. All the Masters of the major religions made this small switch from believing in an externalized God to finding and merging with the God that existed within them. Each of these Masters brought some transformational quality to the human experience which has benefited us all. After thinking about this, the questions then become, “What would the world be like if all of the people who inhabited it made that same adjustment and formed a minute by minute connection with the Divinity within? What if the world were populated by saints and Masters? What if we had a society of Buddha’s, Christ’s and Krishna’s? What would such a world be like?”

    This small adjustment from an externally viewed God to an internally experienced God would change just about everything within the human condition. It would be like how land mammal ancestors of whales and dolphins, after living for thousands of years in both the worlds of water and land, finally took their permanent plunge into the sea. Since making that shift, they have thrived as kings of the ocean. It was perhaps a small adjustment over a period of years such that each succeeding generation lived more and more in the sea until, finally, they became sea mammals. However they did it, their land existence soon became a faded memory.

    As we humans currently face a multitude of self-inflicted problems, we can see all around us the many success stories of other creatures that successfully adjusted themselves to a new way of living out of sheer necessity. Unfortunately, humans do not seem to be there yet. Rather we are still looking to change the world around us. We are still trying to impose our collective will on the world while we ourselves remain relatively unchanged. It is obvious that our orientation to the world isn’t viable and yet we still expect the world to change rather than us. The majority of us still seem to think that by winning political or economic or military power, we can continue to force our way and continue to enjoy our vast array of comforts. This is incorrect.

    Fourteen years ago I was introduced to the Sahaj Marg raja yogic practice and given the wonderful opportunity to meditate on Divine light in my heart. It seemed like a foreign thing to do at first and I did not know what to expect. As the years went by, however, I began to see more and more changes in myself from meditating in this way. My patience and tolerance levels increased. My ability to solve problems and choose the right path was enhanced. My ability to bear pain increased. Spiritually based opportunities increasingly presented themselves to me while unhealthy elements in my life seemed to just dry up and blow away. Significant and beneficial people started to populate my life helping me farther along the spiritual path. I no longer felt lonely or depressed as there was always my eternal Friend within to accompany me during dark times. When I regressed into old negative patterns, something quickly pulled me back onto the proper road. And perhaps most significantly, my capacity to love grew from the very first day and has continued to grow ever since.

    There were many material changes since I started Sahaj Marg as well including marriage to a fellow practitioner of this system as well as the grand appearance of six children. There was my family’s eventual move back to the country and the subsequent wholesale plunge into a more natural way of life. There were other material changes too in those early years as I earned both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The former had eluded me for twelve years and three colleges prior to my starting the Sahaj Marg internal meditation on Divinity within. So for me the internal and external growth that came as a result of being guided to connect with an internal God was both astounding and, in some ways, even miraculous.

    It is very distressing to me that most if not all religious and spiritual movements eventually seem to steer people away from connecting with the divinity within. Instead they often settle into teaching complex and often counter-productive methods for reaching God. However, living in connection with our eternal Friend within is our birthright and the key to our becoming all that we can be. It also frustrates me that the world leadership employs externally-based methods to pacify the populous rather than encouraging people to seek answers within. It is only the latter, to our way of thinking here at Bamboo Grove Press and Pockets of the Future, that can provide real solutions to the problems of life.

    So for my wife and me there is only one lasting answer to our current predicament and that is for us all to put a large investment into connecting with the part of us that is eternally connected to all and everything. It is imperative that the world’s peoples develop the Divine instrument of their hearts and let their eternal Friend within guide them in all decisions big and small. For us, then, the path is very clear. If human beings are going to survive and develop into what they were destined to become, then we have to make the subtle yet profound shift from begging an external God to deliver to us our desired lifestyle to a new orientation of connecting with the God or Friend within and, therefore, allowing ourselves to be guided from within towards our best life.

    So in this spirit we are happy to release our first book, My Friend Within, for general publication. This short, colorful picture book for children presents three simple ideas:

    1. God is in everything,
    2. Most personally, God is within the child themselves, and
    3. God is the child’s eternal Friend.

    The ideas seem simple and straightforward enough but consider this - the worldwide acceptance of even one of these ideas would change human experience profoundly for the good. If we collectively accepted that God was within everything and we lived and breathed this principle, it would be difficult to impossible to abuse other people, animals, the world or anything else. We would see God in all and everything and, therefore, when in the act of mistreating any aspect of the world around us we would see that it was God we were mistreating and stop ourselves.

    The case would be similar if we saw and connected with the God that is seated personally within us. Whenever we mistreated ourselves and made self-defeating or self-sabotaging decisions, we would see that we were only punishing ourselves by cutting ourselves off from the Divinity within us. By contrast as we deepened our inner relationship, we would want to consult the God within in us before making decisions or pursuing courses of action. Our hearts would cry out to us if we were about to do something wrong just as our hearts would sing to us as we followed a proper course of action. The responsibility for our lives would not rest upon the mercy of an externalized God but within our own system. We would be responsible. We would recognize that we were responsible.

    Lastly if we accepted that God was our eternal Friend, our whole perception of our world and our situation would be transformed. The hostile lens through which we see an evil world inhabited by evil people would not last in the face of the new knowledge that there is a benevolent God within us that only wants the best for each of us. Demons would now be viewed as helpers who were placed there by our Friend for our benefit. Problems would become blessings, and everything that we received good or bad would be received as Divine gifts from our Divine friend. We would believe that everything comes from God and since God is our Friend, then everything that He gives to us is for our greater good. There have existed souls in this world who have taken this perspective and they have inspired great movements and improved the human condition greatly. Their examples pointed towards a path all could eventually take. Given our current dilemmas, there is no better time than now for us all to step onto that path.

    So we are releasing our first book containing these three ennobling ideas now as it is patently obvious that there is no time to lose. And our first book is directed towards young children because there is no better time to get started with this important inner work than at the beginning of one’s life.

    We are also making available a free lesson plan/activity book to accompany My Friend Within for parents and teachers to use to help pull out this knowledge that already exists within the child. We are all born knowing that God is within all and everything and most importantly within us and that he is also our beloved Friend. We only need some gentle guidance to help these truths emerge from within us. I hope parents of all religions, races, and ages will purchase this book, undertake the simple accompanying activities and lessons with their children, and start them solidly on this wonderful path of becoming the best person they can be. Then these children can in turn go on to help create the best world that humans can create.

    Please help us spread the word about My Friend Within and the free lesson plan so that many may benefit from it. Thank you.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,


    My Friend Within cover


    My Friend Within - Our First Bamboo Grove Press Release!

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from our Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    We are very pleased to announce our first Bamboo Grove Press book release!


    My Friend Within cover

    My Friend Within encourages children to follow their natural yearning to find God seated in the center or heart of all things, including themselves, and to take delight in the mysteries of spirituality. The appealing art work and simple, rhythmic text provide a gentle way to spark an awareness of what is deeply rooted inside all of us. As children embrace the idea that “God, my Friend, is within me,” they are setting the cornerstone of the foundation for their future spiritual lives. (From the back cover)


    Here my husband Paul Romano, author and illustrator, sits down to talk briefly about the timeless messages waiting for children in My Friend Within and why we chose this particular book to be our first publication. We feel, and it is our daily experience, that the ideas contained in My Friend Within are the single most important principles to reinforce in children in order to prepare them for a vibrant spiritual future during rocky, uncertain times.

    My Friend Within is also just plain fun and contains many opportunities for conversation and exploration. In the video, Paul talks about the fun we had as a family developing the complementary lesson plan we are offering with My Friend Within, out of our desire to support parents, teachers and children as much as we possibly can.


    For more information on how to purchase My Friend Within, please visit our E-store.

    We hope My Friend Within benefits your family as much as it has benefited ours and that you will join us in helping children everywhere become adults who act based upon the promptings of their Friend within.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,


    Sharing Our Passion for Living a Natural Life Through Bamboo Grove Press

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross-posted from our Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    My husband and I were raised with pretty much the same attitudes as any other middle class Americans. Yet somehow, we ended up here. Where is here? Well, we are out in the country with six children, an assortment of rare breed dairy cows and goats, chickens, a garden and so on. Here also includes baking in an outdoor wood-fired earth oven, taking showers in an outdoor bamboo shower (during the summer!), hand washing our laundry (all year), making all of our food from scratch, building all of our outbuildings from scratch and so on. Furthermore, here includes homeschooling, heartfelt meditation, ongoing scriptural studies and daily relationship building in a very intimate family setting. And, honestly, it feels like we have only just gotten started.

    So how did we end up here? We ended up here because my husband and I share a passion for answering the question “What does it mean to live a natural life?”

    What does that even mean … a natural life?

    Discovering answers to this question endlessly fascinates us here. It challenges us, inspires us and constantly reshapes our thoughts and actions. Let’s see, living a natural life surely includes eating locally grown, organic produce and learning to tough out humid summers without air conditioning. Right? What else? It surely includes being willing to use our hands to carry out the tasks of daily living and living with far fewer possessions than is the norm. Yes. What else? We think it seems to include stepping away from cities and disengaging from a wide range of urban attitudes and dependencies. Definitely yes. But still - what is all of this? Does living a natural life go beyond lifestyle concerns and economic choices? Why do so many people crave “a natural life” and yet not know how to create one? And how did our passion for this question get us here?

    What we have realized after years of considering these questions is that living a natural life means living according to the Original Design. It means that we live contentedly (obediently even) within the supports and guidelines of “natural laws.” It means that we are willing to scrap virtually everything we have been led to believe is true or necessary for a successful life and aude sapere - dare to think - for ourselves. Dare to think fearlessly, creatively, In harmony with each other, by looking within for answers, and, most of all, in faith.

    There is an Original Design for humans and human life on this sweet, green Earth. We only have to keep editing and editing and editing out what we humans invented over millennium until we find what the Creator designed for us and in us in the first place. Pretty much everything works better according to original plans and instructions, yes? This is no less true of human beings. And this is rather less a statement about technology than it is about inner attitudes and ways of acting.

    Being passionate about something brings an inherent discipline and responsibility with it. As I read this morning:

    Anything you don’t give your life to is not worth doing. Swami Vivekananda said, “Give me men of passion.” Passion does not mean sexual passion; it means a passionate nature, that if I do this, I must do it perfectly. I must do it as well as I can. I must do it now. And promises do not constitute work. He who wants to give must give now. Youth: A Time of Promise and for Effort, vol. 2, p.157 P. Rajagopalachari

    Our passion for this ongoing process of discovering what a natural life can be has brought us such a deep feeling of well being and has provided so much “grist for the mill” for our growth that we have for some time now felt a likewise passion for sharing what we are discovering with the many other uncomfortable people who also crave a natural life. It is for this reason that we write extensively on our Pockets of the Future blog and share photos, videos and information there and on our POTF web site. We are pleased that so many people are finding these resources useful for expanding and re-shaping their lives. But we are restless to do more.

    As such, my husband and I are very pleased to announce the launch of our family-based publishing business - Bamboo Grove Press. Through Bamboo Grove Press, we will have the means to share much more of what we have been blessed with and what we have discovered during our own transformation. We will be able to share our delight in family life, our complete dependence upon a spiritual perspective, and the fruit of skill building in many areas. I am happy to say that we will be publishing books for children as well as for adults. (We even have a game in mind but we will see how that goes.) We will just generally be leaving as complete a paper trail as possible so that the many people who will be increasingly craving a natural life themselves will be able to have companions in their homes on their book shelves. While remolding oneself and one’s family life into a life that is more natural brings ease and contentment, it is nevertheless a profound transformation to undergo during otherwise hostile and uncertain times. Companions, friends, associates can help so much. We want to be that, to the extent that we are able, for brothers and sisters now and in the future.

    Last week, P. Rajagopalachari advised a group of young people to:

    Be Natural, Be Fearless and Have Faith

    It is on that basis that we present Bamboo Grove Press for your consideration.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,



    As Long as We are Hand Washing Laundry, Why Not Consider This Too?

    Posted by pockets

    I am not a moody person and I don’t wake up in moods per se. But I do sometimes wake up with some kind of call to arms such as “I have to write this,” or “Let’s get rid of stuff,” or “Let’s try ________ today!”

    The idea I woke up with the other day, I cannot just implement off the bat. It will require family enthusiasm as well as strategizing. But I figure I might as well share the idea and some resources with you all in case you can implement it right away. In any case, it is something I am finding very interesting to think about, to mull over, to imagine in the future of the family.

    How about living without refrigeration??

    I know this is kind of radical. And the many “large family” lists and web sites and so on I have been reading for years and years all extol the many benefits of going in exactly the opposite direction, i.e. cooking in bulk and then loading up multiple freezers and refrigerators with spare parts for future meals.There is great utility in this approach. Cooking enough for eight or ten or more people requires enormous amounts of time and planning. It is a significant time-saver to be able to cook up a double batch of beans, say, and then freeze half of them for a future time-crunched dinnertime. I have been doing this for years and, in fact, often wish I had been doing this even more than I have been.

    So no refrigerator at all? Hmmm….

    Well, I know it can be done because it always was done by everybody and often is done today by many people all over the world. Just like hand washing laundry, see? There really is a choice - we just have been unconscious of it because we are so accustomed to the mechanized, technology-driven, whenever possible use a machine to fill in the gaps that require having to exert physical effort or having to adjust to natural ebbs and flows approach. But if we set that particular calculus aside (or change the values of the variables for which we are calculating), we discover that we actually have a choice. If we were to stop and honestly consider this choice of keeping food in a cold, metal box or not, what would we choose?

    Some background reading is in order here! Here are a few of the articles I have been reading since the “no refrigeration” idea popped into my head.

    Don’t Fight Room Temperature - What’s in Your Fridge Does Not Need to Be There
    This is a brief summary of the some of the flow of the “no frig” way of thinking in the last couple of years. A great introduction.

    No Refrigerator - for 30 years
    This was apparently a seminal article from a most interesting blog, Little Blog in The Big Woods. Do investigate this blog for other interesting perspectives.

    We Make Do Without a Refrigerator - South central Texas homesteaders have learned to survive without a fridge and urge you to do the same, regardless of geography
    This is from a 1976 issue of Mother Earth News.

    Living Without a Refrigerator The no refrigeration section is at the bottom of the page.
    This thoughtful bit is written by Jim Conrad, naturalist and world traveler.

    Living Without a Fridge
    This article is from the British GoSelfSufficient site.

    I am always interested in how becoming more “self-sufficient” invariably increases awareness and shifts our rhythms significantly, sometimes dramatically. Along those lines, there are a few observations from these articles that I have been thinking a lot about:

    My experience is that when you have a refrigerator you develop addictions to foods and drinks that are richer, more caloric and more sense-deadening than need be. You don’t know your senses are dead until you have been free of your addictions for some time and find that foods and drinks you thought were bland and characterless begin pleasing in subtle ways. You don’t know how wonderful a cool drink is until you’ve been away from ice awhile.

    It’s beautiful to see wholesome grains, fruits and vegetables on shelves in my daily living space, not sealed inside a vibrating metal box… It’s liberating to not have to pay for the electricity and maintenance having a refrigerator demands.

    And it contributes to my spiritual well-being to know that I no longer require a kitchen with a refrigerator humming away every hour of the day sending out this message to power producers: “More, more, more, send me more electricity, no matter what the cost or consequences… ” Jim Conrad

    I can imagine the truth of this. The less I need, the better I feel. It is just so liberating to be able to do without. Or rather, it is just so liberating to be able to do with what Nature provides. There is always a lesson in it.

    By living without a fridge you will be more in touch with the food you eat. You will be much healthier as a result of eating fresher food, and you are less likely to waste food if you do not have a fridge to store it in (you will not buy it in the first place). GoSelfSufficient

    This would definitely apply to me. Somehow as I get older I become more and more of a “If I can’t actually see it, it no longer exists in my mind,” person. If I see the broccoli, I will remember the broccoli. If it is locked up tightly in a drawer in a refrigerator, well … then all bets are off.

    Much of the rest of what folks use refrigerators for clearly comes under the category of “luxury”. Ice cream; beer, pop.

    Would you be better off if they weren’t so handy? If you’re like me, if the ice cream is there- I’ll eat it. Then buy more. How much of our obesity epidemic is due to having a handy supply of treats in the fridge- all the time? …

    This, potentially, is a big deal. Refrigerator lust is one of the things driving huge energy use increases in the developing world- everybody wants one; it proves you’re modern.

    If we start a movement here in the Overdeveloped World to get RID of them in homes (sure, the restaurants, the stores, need them) - some folks in the OverdevelopING World would pay attention- and perhaps put the brakes on their country’s rush to refrigerate. Maybe.

    I’ve worked in China- in places where the nearest refrigerator was probably 100 miles away. Guess what? They manage just fine- and don’t “need” it, until you tell them they do. Little Blog in The Big Woods

    We don’t have any those luxuries anyway although I would probably be happy to have to gobble up some ice cream all in one sitting once a year or so! Imagine having the nearest refrigerator 100 miles away. That implies so many things.

    Makin’ do without a refrigerator isn’t easy at first. Like riding a bike, however, “it’s simple once you know how”. Mother Earth News

    I really, really want to know how to make do without a refrigerator and then always know how. I think that would be great and I want to learn the lessons just waiting for us within such a shift. I don’t know when, but I am sure we will try this. We are hard at work right now on a very big project which we will be telling you all about next week but maybe after that…? If we could be wild enough to start hand washing laundry just before cold weather sets in, perhaps we could be prudent enough to start going without a refrigerator when the great out-of-doors could make a suitable substitute on most days anyway.

    I will keep you posted.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,


    Feeling Connected Through Hand Washing Laundry

    Posted by pockets

    Hand washing laundry is as ancient a practice as wearing clothes made of fabric. Furthermore, and perhaps very surprising to Americans who generally only know about washing machines and will travel miles to use one if necessary, millions of people all over the world still wash their clothing by hand.

    While using water is a constant across time and cultures, other aspects vary. Agitating or bending and twisting the fabric to help loosen dirt is accomplished in ways as varied as rubbing and twisting, beating against a rock, beating the fabric with a wooden bat, or using a washboard. Additions that help the water work more effectively have ranged over time from fermented urine (used extensively by the Romans; it was the ammonia salts in it that helped whiten togas) to soaproot to handmade laundry soap to modern day chemical based detergents.

    Regardless of which method people are using to hand wash their laundry, I know that no matter when I am hand washing my family’s laundry, people all over the world are also hand washing theirs. My imagination wanders to the various cultures I know something about. I wonder about the lives of all the people squatting down over water and soap, working, working, working to get their clothes clean. I think about their hand movements. I think about how they often are washing together in groups. I think about how their children are hanging about or helping or playing. Images go through my mind and prayers go through my heart. I feel a deep sense of connectedness to brothers and sisters all over this fair green planet, all using her resources of water and sun and time to clean away the grime of every day life. With practiced movements and ceaseless conversations about the shared sufferings and shared celebrations of community life, people everywhere use their minds and hands to accomplish the sublime task of getting just a little bit cleaner.

    Two Sundays ago, I spent a couple of hours going through videos on YouTube that show people from around the world hand washing their laundry. I really enjoyed watching all of them and I learned a great deal from them as well. A few particular images were before my mind’s eye the last time I did our laundry. Those images kept me company and added a deep resonance to my somewhat arduous task. I could hear the laughter from far away and feel the tears and only wonder at the grace of the movements. Down below are links to a few of the videos I discovered. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and for those of you who wash your laundry by hand already, I hope you feel your sense of connection expand greatly. After all, we are all trying to get clean and Nature, as always, provides the necessities.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    The Ukraine - such vigorous use of a washboard!

    Nicaragua and Brazil - The image of the girl laughing in the one from Nicaragua stays with me.

    Various locations in Africa -

    This one from Bangledesh pulls at the heart strings -

    The Philippines -

    Here are some from China. Notice how nicely the little girl does her share of the work in the first video -

    And, finally, here are several from India. Notice the very beautiful hand movements you can see in so many of them -

    And this last one from India with a mother and child playing together -


    Ten Ways Hand Washing Laundry is Similar to Homeschooling

    Posted by pockets

    Like many of the “living simply” tasks I am learning to do around the homestead, I find that hand washing laundry is done at a pace and with a physical rhythm that encourages contemplation. Also because water is involved, I find that my thoughts really flow. One of the trains of thought that has come to me through several washing sessions has to do with the myriad ways that hand washing laundry is similar to homeschooling. While homeschooling is much more common now than it used to be, hand washing laundry is not yet common again here in the United States. As a matter of fact, I have seen a number of people who engage in homeschooling decrying those who also engage in hand washing laundry. This is kind of interesting because most folks nowadays would decry both with no thought of distinguishing between the two. So stepping back a bit, what can I say from experience are some of the similarities between hand washing laundry and homeschooling?

    1. Both activities require that you re-arrange your life in ways that run counter to the dictates of the modern materials/money economy. Interestingly, since these are both age old activities, practicing them at this point in history requires bold thinking, self-discipline and a creative approach to problem solving.

    2. Both are giant steps towards self-sufficiency. All benefits that accrue from becoming more self sufficient in one’s daily activities flow from both hand washing laundry and homeschooling.

    3. With both, you build skills that you will never forget and would never otherwise learn. Once you know how to teach a child to read or how to wash their dress to sparkling cleanness with your very own hands, you will always know how to do those things and will be able to do them anywhere, any time.

    4. Both homeschooling and hand washing laundry create the space to pray about and devote yourself in service to the needs of others. As such both are, therefore, character building and have tremendous potential to deepen the bonds between family members as well as members of the community.

    5. Both hand washing laundry and homeschooling are greatly enhanced if approached from a “teamwork” perspective. If the family works as a team to clean clothes or as a team to discover what it even means to be “educated” and works as a team to become truly educated together, then adventure, beauty, love and Divine inspiration may be your constant supports as you undertake either of these daily activities of life.

    6. Carried out with awareness, both homeschooling and hand washing laundry demand fewer natural resources than conventional approaches to either education or laundering.

    7. Hand washing laundry and homeschooling are both pathways to discovery and connection. People undertake both all over the world so a brotherly feeling of connection is waiting there to be experienced. I will write more about this aspect in another post. Furthermore, simple truths have been hidden away gradually and, at times, willfully by those promulgating the conventional approaches. How many people know now that you can get clothes much cleaner on your own than by using washing machines? How many people know now that a loving parent can teach their children how to read? How many people know now that artificial chemicals and so-called fragrances are the opposite of clean? How many people know now that education is best conducted in an atmosphere of wonder and love? Peeling away conventional attitudes and approaches to both laundering and educating can lead to delightful and unanticipated discoveries.

    8. We are hardwired to find satisfaction in primary labor, i.e. the kind of work that is directly related to survival and real, natural life. Our economic engine is predicated upon us turning our backs on our true natures. It forcefully keeps us lulled in a state of perpetual forgetfulness about our true abilities and our higher purpose. However, I can say from vivid personal experience that taking the time to become reacquainted with the primary labors of life brings peaceful satisfaction brimming to the surface and spilling over into smiles, affectionate touches and contented sighs. The sight of honestly clean clothes ruffling in a breeze, the sound of milk hitting the milk pail, the experience of a child’s understanding blooming before your eyes are experiences that are wonderfully fresh and yet deeply remembered. There really is no substitute. The more of these activities you can include in your daily life, the more satisfied and confident you may feel.

    9. Both hand washing laundry and homeschooling increase flexibility and expand your range of choices. Now if a person’s goal is to engage in secondary labor (i.e. most jobs which are sort of made up and have nothing to do with creating food or clothes or shelter), to earn ever more money, to increase prestige and to have more things, then - no - neither hand washing laundry nor home educating are the way to go because they dramatically decrease the flexibility needed for those sorts of endeavors. However, if living a natural, unassuming, deeply intimate, conserving sort of life is your goal then both hand washing laundry and homeschooling expand your options considerably. You can wash clothes based upon the weather. You can wash inside or outside. You can work alone or with others. You can decide how much elbow grease to put into a particular stain or pair of work jeans or not. You can use equipment or not. You can make small adjustments throughout the process because you are consciously a part of the entire process. It is the same with homeschooling. You can choose educational goals, content, scheduling, exact location… everything. You get to choose everything based upon your style as teacher, the propensities and learning styles of the students, budget, other daily tasks that must be accomplished, spiritual goals or not and so on. As any of these conditions change, you are free to change with them because while doing it yourself is more work, doing it yourself comes largely free of institutional rigidity and hindrances. You are flexible and free to respond to inspiration.

    10. One of the most startling similarities between hand washing laundry and homeschooling is the wildly successful outcome that comes from giving individual attention. With both activities, individual attention is perhaps the greatest key to success. Examining each item of clothing in the bright light of the sun, assessing what sort of treatment it needs and then supplying said treatment is the key to keeping everything in the best possible condition and making it last the longest. Prayerfully considering the needs and aptitudes of each child and then stretching as a parent/teacher to meet those needs and aptitudes goes further in making it possible for each child to become what they should become than anything else. Simple systems carried out with modest resources generally encourage the magnifying glass of the human mind to be pointed towards the needful. Improved outcomes nearly always follow.

    Honestly, I find striving to live simply a gold mine of ideas, discoveries, insights, and opportunities. This seems to be true no matter what the “living simply” activity is (and is one of the biggest secrets of our times I might add). In any case, it is certainly true with both hand washing laundry and homeschooling. May we all boldly and yet humbly step away from institutional thinking and discover what we can through the profitable use of our own hearts, minds and hands.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,


    Our Methods and Tools for Hand Washing Laundry (w/ videos)

    Posted by pockets

    We have been hand washing all of our laundry for about six weeks now and it is going pretty well. We are still fine tuning how we do things but we do have enough of an effective system going to share what we have learned so far.

    Equipment: For our wash tubs, we are using two large Rubbermaid bins. We use these simply because we already had them. Having used them all this time, however, I can say that we are looking forward to getting some real wash tubs some day - preferably ones on legs. Anyway, we use the two large Rubbermaid storage bins for washing and scrubbing (which my husband set up on cinder blocks for me to help spare my back) and we use two 5 gallon paint/food storage plastic pails with bale handles for the two rinses. You can get these at hardware stores. We find them to be a perfect size and the handle is really helpful for hauling the water away to dump on select garden locations.

    For agitating the wash and rinse water, we are very happy using the Rapid Washer from Lehman’s. It works much, much better than a regular hardware store plunger as it moves much more water with each plunge and it fits perfectly into the 5 gallon pails. You occasionally need to use a mallet to pound the handle back down into the metal head of the plunger.

    Rapid Washer

    For scrubbing, we are using a glass washboard also purchased from Lehman’s. They note that the glass washboards last the longest and that they are by far their best seller so I went for one of those. I have always been “stain removal” challenged. I don’t like using chemicals and I have never found anything that really works all that well at removing stains anyway so I just sort of gave up ages ago. Using a bar of soap, water, a washboard and elbow grease, however, is like magic. Honestly! So many stains just disappear before your very eyes. I have read others comment upon the fact that items they would have otherwise thrown away were saved through the ministrations of a washboard and a few minutes of vigorous effort. The washboard at the bottom left of the photo is the one we use. (I might mention here that brass washboards are used primarily as musical instruments, in case you were wondering.)


    Wringing as much water as possible out of each item shortens drying time dramatically. I read many comments here and there on the web about women wrecking their hands and wrists from years of wringing out clothes. Well, one of my wrists is already wrecked so official equipment was called for. I bought this wringer which Lehman’s sells but got it here instead for about $70 less. Apparently these wringers are used at car washes so you can find them for sale through various businesses other than just Amish ones.


    I am still using (infinitesimally) small quantities at a time of Charlie’s soap for washing. I use so little at a time now that I think my remaining supply will last for another six months at least. However, when the bottom of the container is finally in sight, I will start making my own laundry soap. As for the bar soap to use for removing stains, I still don’t have a good bar I like yet. I will grab a bar of Dr. Bronner’s or something the next chance I get. Someday I intend to make my own laundry bar soap. Someday…

    Method: To fill the bins and pails in our outdoor laundry room, my husband rigged up a hose that goes from the utility sink in the basement through a hole in a window screen and out to the outdoor laundry room. I am very grateful to be able to wash everything with warm water that I am neither heating myself nor hauling. It is not always easy running up and down the basement steps to turn the water on and off in a timely fashion but, hey, the children perform that task admirably. So our method is as follows:

    1. Fill one bin about a third of the way (too full and we get soaked when plunging). Fill the other bin just six inches deep or so and place the washboard at one end and the bar of soap at the other. Fill the 5 gallon pails about halfway. Put maybe a 1/4 tsp. of Charlie’s soap in and swish it around so that it is well mixed.

    2. Sort the laundry to be washed by color, heaviness and dirtiness. Put the cleanest, lightest clothes into the wash water first. Plunge a bit and let soak a little if there is time. Then plunge vigorously for two to three minutes. I have read that you should agitate the clothes and water for 10 minutes, but I just don’t strength enough in me to do that frankly. If any item is stained, toss it into the washboard bin.

    3. Squeeze the clothes out and toss into the first rinse pail. Agitate enthusiastically for 25 plunges or so. Squeeze out thoroughly and toss into second rinse pail and repeat. Wring out and toss into a basket of clothes waiting to go through the wringer. Rinsing at least twice is a big deal and the key to success to ending up with sparkling clean laundry. Sometimes we have to rinse certain items more times than twice. We always try to find a balance between clean rinse water, water conservation and reasonable time investment.

    4. Work through any clothes that have been tossed into the washboard bin. Rub a very small amount of soap onto any stains or dirty areas and rub vigorously on the washboard. Rinse and toss into first rinse pail. I want to emphasize the hint to not use too much bar soap for this exercise. Rinsing out excess soap is trying and wasteful.

    5. Put all items through the wringer. It helps to wring things out in some kind of order so that you can keep the wringer at the same setting. You want it as tight as you can get it for thin things like dish towels and shirts and so on. But you loosen it to wring out things like thick bath towels or jeans or jackets. I have learned to put many items through the wringer two or three times in a row to get them really quite dry. If you fold the item in half, it not only effectively increases the pressure and effectiveness of the wringer, it has the effect of pressing the item. We are now lining up three dish towels together at a time, folding them in half and putting them through the wringer all at once several times. They come out looking ironed and they dry on the line in a hurry. This is a good place in the whole laundry process to experiment to discover more effective methods Cheaper By the Dozen style.

    6. Hang everything to dry and feel more satisfied from doing a load of wash than you ever thought possible.

    7. Definitely include all family members in this weekly event. Children gain strength and precision. Husband’s feel good lending their broad shoulders. Bonding ensues. Teamwork issues are spotted and ironed out. And then everyone gets to feel incredibly satisfied surveying the family laundry tidily hung from the lines and gently flapping in the breeze.

    8. Once the hand done, real soap-cleaned, individually wrung, sun-dried laundry is brought inside on a regular basis, you may notice two positive effects in your home. The first is that everyone will make darn sure that these heroically cleaned clothes are put away double time. The second is that family members may automatically start generating less laundry due to the subtle, natural process known variously as the awareness raising, consciousness expanding, gratitude generating affects of hard work.

    To spend some leisurely time with us as we do our laundry together outside, sit back and watch the following videos. Oh, and on the fifth video my husband shares some great thoughts about the moderation that arises naturally from working within natural systems and resources. I really appreciate what he has to say there.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,


    How We Became an Outdoor Hand Washing Laundry Family

    Posted by pockets

    Years and years ago, I read a brief article in Countryside magazine written by a woman who washed her laundry by hand. She explained that her wringer washer was set up outside next to a creek and she rhapsodized about washing clothes to the melodies of bird song. The image created in my mind by her writing and experience has stayed with me to this day. Washing clothes outside by hand seemed so refreshing and satisfying, by her report, and I secretly wanted to experience this for myself.

    Quite a few years later - oh about four years ago or so - our washing machine broke. I very timidly showed my husband the wringer washer in Lehman’s and wondered aloud about replacing our washer with that? He very spontaneously and energetically let me know that the idea was nuts and the next day we went together to find a nice, normal, serviceable, inexpensive washing machine. In the years that followed which included moving and setting up our first homestead, I was grateful to him for making that call because there was already just so much work to do. However, my very odd secret wish to wash our laundry by hand outside never went totally away. However I didn’t have time to think about it so it didn’t matter.

    A few years passed which saw us move again and set up this homestead. No end to the work. Yikes. So tired. Yikes. And then a few months ago, I stumbled upon several wonderful blogs such as Lentils and Rice, Ante Family Agrarians, A Process Driven Wife. These headed-towards-off-the-grid living ladies were all starting to wash their laundry by hand! Interesting. Here, for instance, is the Laundry Adventures category at Lentils and Rice. I think I discovered all of this when she was at about here and Kris Ante was about here. They both had nice simple explanations about how they were doing their laundry, together with clear photographs and rave reviews about the results of their labors. My husband happened to be sitting in the room while I read through these posts (and I should mention here that we had just had our washing machine flood the basement due to human error, if I recall correctly). I said, “Oh look, these woman are washing their laundry by hand with plungers and buckets.” He glanced at the photos, jumped to his feet and said, “You wanna try it?” “Well, uh, it just so happens that I do,” I replied barely keeping up with him as he dashed down to the basement to grab empty containers, a plunger and the laundry bin.

    My husband’s enthusiastic approach to doing our first load of hand washing was to dump everything in the laundry basket into the wash water. Ahem … some running of colors ensued which gave rise to his clever invention of dying shirts with good old Virginia clay. I will have to post about that sometime because he turned his very nice, but now red streaked, Lands End shirt a gorgeous color. It looks great on him. Anyway, we washed and we hung to dry and it was fun. We agreed to try again another day.

    A day or two later we tried another load. This time time rather too many clothes were dumped in all at once and that created its own sort of difficulty. I clearly needed to take this task in hand and study out how to do it the most effectively. We got through that load, however, and I went off to do a little more research on hand washing protocol. Right around this time, our washing machine again flooded the basement only with no human error involved. To this day, we have no idea why it flooded. There was a washing machine left here in this house which we had used for quite a while. My husband took out our old machine and hooked up the “left here” machine. To our astonishment (read that as anguished astonishment because the clean up involved was no laughing matter), this machine also flooded the basement. Several inches of water covered almost the entire basement floor. We have no idea why.

    It appeared that what started out as sort of a lark quickly became an activity we were sort of pushed into doing full time. No money, no washing machines, plenty of dirty clothes, and several blog posts full of hand washing inspiration added up to officially becoming a hand washing family. Paul and I shook our heads and simply got organized. Hand washing the family laundry was obviously here to stay.

    For various reasons, we had to sell our little Toyota at this time. That was kind of a hard decision to make but one of the things we decided to do with the proceeds was purchase official hand washing equipment. Doing the laundry for eight people on a farm is not a lightweight chore and I was going to need all the help I could get. I will share what I got and where I got it in a separate post.

    We have washed all of our laundry by hand for about six weeks now I guess. Almost all of it has been done outside in what I call our “outdoor laundry room.” It was kind of tough for me at first because it was so physically grueling. My joints are far too loose. All the pounding and other repetitive motions did a number on my joints plus bending over so much did a number on my back. I hate feeling too weak to accomplish an essential task so I looked forward to gaining strength and a positive rhythm with time. I just hung in there.

    I am pleased to say that actually we have all gained strength and a nice rhythm from doing the laundry together outside. The children can and do help a lot. Some of them can even do quite a bit of it on their own. Sometimes my husband helps and that is really great. The other day he and I worked together outside for a long while, plunging and rinsing and wringing and hanging. It was so pleasant to be out in the sunshine and bird song working together quietly on a mutually shared task. Very beautiful. A very natural way to spend time. And the quiet was lovely.

    The latest development is that he and I took our trusty old pick-up truck to town today and bought a half ton of gravel. The “floor” of the laundry room was getting too muddy and I have wanted to put gravel down in several other key spots, like in front of the hen house, for a long while so off we went. Our ten year old has been steadily shoveling out the gravel for hours now so we have a utilitarian floor covering for our outdoor laundry room as well as a margin of safety in front of hen house, milking barn and gates.

    Our next development will be to shift laundry operations to the basement when it gets too cold outside. We get the hot water for doing our laundry from the faucet down there anyway. And we have a second wood burning stove Paul is going to hook up so that it will be warm and toasty for both the laundress and the drying clothes. We have yet to figure out a way to install the wringer down there. We will have to see how that aspect works out.

    Robin Brashear of Prepare and Pray fame told me that they lived near Amish families when they lived in Wisconsin a while back. It was apparently not uncommon for them to build laundry rooms off the side of their houses with water, a drain and a wood burning stove. It gets mighty, mighty cold there in the winter so they found a way to do their laundry with the same methods but under shelter. So while it does not get quite that cold here usually, we will be doing something similar in the basement.

    I have several more posts to go about this topic of hand washing laundry so I will see you there!

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,


    A Daily Dose of Light of Sunrise

    Posted by pockets

    At about sunrise on these fall mornings, I am in the kitchen every day making the first of several breakfasts that get served up through the course of the morning around here. Yesterday morning as I was moving about the kitchen, I glanced out our large south-facing window and could just see the blazing pink of a sunrise out of the corner of my eye. I never open up the east facing windows in the dining room this early because the shades and blinds make too much noise and I don’t want to wake anyone. So often this flash of pink out of the corner of my eye is all I see of the sunrise.

    As it got just a little bit lighter, I glanced out again and noticed one of our Nigerian Dwarf does standing up on the large compost heap at the back of the pen quietly facing the sunrise. I stopped in my tracks and stood gazing at her. She was suffused with the achingly delicate light of a November sunrise in the mountains. It struck me that she was being nourished by this light, that she was drinking it in.

    I realized that one large qualitative difference between her life and mine is that she is out there being nourished by sunrises and sunsets every single day. She doesn’t see glances of them through windows. She doesn’t surmise that a sunrise took place hours after the fact when she is led out to the spring house to be milked. She doesn’t lose consciousness of sunrises for days at a time due to her work schedule. She isn’t taken by surprise by the sudden dark because she missed seeing the sun set on a particular evening. No. She is a recipient of every sunrise and every sunset the earth has to offer throughout her life. She is out in them, under them, with them. She is painted by them, drenched by them, regulated by them, strengthened by them, lightened by them. Our Nigerian doe and the earthly cycles that support her are one, each giving meaning to the other in some subtle way.

    While I am frequently consciously grateful for having a house that provides us with shelter and a sense of place, I also sometimes feel caged by the very walls that keep me warm and dry. I long to be physically strong enough and mentally free enough to spend more of my day feeling Nature and less of it thinking about or observing Nature.

    I want my whole being to be physically soaked by the achingly delicate light of a November sunrise. I want any consciousness of separation or difference to vanish with the fully experienced sunset. I want to unlock the secrets of natural law and natural rhythms and be strong enough to live them, no matter what they are. Perhaps a daily dose of light-of-sunrise will help me live more naturally. Perhaps a daily dose of withdrawing-of-the-light will soften and strengthen me and help me live more deeply.

    Perhaps Nature is already providing exactly what we need, in the doses and timings that we need, to become what we are meant to be. Perhaps all we need to do is step outside at the right times in order to go within and go within at the right times in order to be able to truly step outside.

    November sunrise

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,


    Leslie’s Wonderous 50th Birthday

    Posted by pockets

    My wife, Leslie, is someone who never gets the proper credit or celebration she deserves. Born into a family where she was abused and scapegoated by both parents, her achievements and self-esteem were always undermined and negated. Furthermore, she was born on Halloween and so always had to share her birthday with trick-or-treaters. Her birth was never properly celebrated. On top of that two of our children were born on consecutive Mother’s Days and our last child was born on May 17th so there are three major birthdays right around Mother’s Day in our family. Again she does not get the time and attention she deserves even on the given day for mothers here in the US.

    Typically on Halloween I have been responsible for creating a good Halloween for the children and blending that with a birthday celebration for Leslie. Leslie has tweaked how we celebrate Halloween to make it more natural and seasonal but I have been the one to implement most of the arrangements. Having to combine the two events has led to a good deal of holiday stress and a mixed result in the desired outcome of both events. This year, however, was different.

    Last spring and summer, events revealed to Leslie and myself that the abusive, scapegoating dynamics that existed in her original family were still having a very negative effect on Leslie’s health and well being. In mid-summer her parents were given a choice to either take responsibility for their actions or lose the privilege of contact with Leslie and the rest of this family. They chose to give up contact. We will have more blog posts and videos on this subject in the future as they will perhaps be of value to others who have also been abused.

    As Leslie’s 50th birthday was approaching, the condition of her parents’ disappearance was something that was obviously going to come to a head as being the oldest in her family, her 50th birthday was not only a milestone in her own life but in the lives of her parents and the rest of her family. So I reasoned that as her birthday approached, Leslie’s awareness that she was not loved by her parents was going to perhaps become painful. While this was probably inevitable, no one wants to see their loved ones suffer so I started thinking about what to do.

    We have never had the material resources available to create the extravagant birthday celebrations common in our country and as our homesteading and natural living work have expanded, the time and energy needed to go into birthdays and holidays have been greatly reduced anyway. For example, now Leslie’s birthday and Halloween take place in the midst of a whole host of other chores and commitments, such as milking and tending to the animals as well as homeschooling and writing commitments. This year with Leslie’s adrenal fatigue recovery being my primary focus and then the unexpected addition of remodeling our house to effectively incorporate a wood burning stove plus the labor intensive addition of doing all of our laundry by hand also commanding considerable time and attention, I felt that I had very little left for Halloween and Leslie’s birthday.

    I made the decision to not celebrate Halloween at all this year - not even our way - and to try to pull something out of nowhere for Leslie so that she could have a nourishing 50th birthday. When we told the kids about no Halloween this year, they did not complain or even show any hint of disappointment which was great. Then a few ideas began to come to me about how to make this milestone birthday special for my wife.

    A few weeks ago I had the idea to get the old game Operation for Leslie as she had enjoyed playing with it as a kid - perhaps because she had always wanted to be a doctor. I was not sure how she would feel about me spending money on a game for her but it was meant to be. We were at a second hand store in our town one day. I was in the used toy room with the kids. I looked up at the games and there was Operation for 50¢. A week or so later there was another Operation game at the same store for the same price. I bought them both as I thought that there was a good chance that with all the small pieces in this game, many of them would probably be lost and the games might not be in good working order. But to my surprise a few days before Leslie’s birthday, the kids and I went through the games and found that both of them worked and had most of the pieces. Both also came with working batteries. We were able to put together a complete working game. This was great as Leslie had been hesitant to cancel Halloween but agreed to it when she came up with the idea of the family perhaps playing a game together that night. She just wanted the family to do something fun together. On Leslie’s birthday Operation came through. There is nothing better than giving an adult a game they enjoyed when they were a kid and then giving them the opportunity to play it with their children. On Leslie’s special night, this held true and everyone enjoyed operating on the electrically charged patient.

    Other things started to come together as well. About a month before Leslie’s birthday, Anna and Faith ran into the office very excited about a present they were making for their mother’s birthday. They told me I could not know what it was. I thought it would be a drawing or a bracelet or something like that. What it turned out to be was a finger puppet play they adapted from one of Leslie’s favorite children’s books, Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow. The book is about how Pelle, a young Swedish boy, trades various chores with his grandmothers, mother and local tradesmen so that he can get his wool carded, spun, woven and tailored into a new suit.

    The timing turned out to be remarkable. Just a few days before they put this play on for Leslie’s birthday, Leslie and both girls learned something of how to card and spin wool at Mabry Mill during the time Will was having his blacksmithing lesson. It suddenly became a shared goal of theirs to start carding and spinning here at home. The play itself was pure joy and Leslie was captivated by it. I could see by Anna’s and Faith’s excitement as they set up the stage that the play was going to be great so I asked them if I should videotape it. They said, “Definitely.”

    Both Carolyn and Rowan also had ideas of individualized presents for their mother. Carolyn put a poem from one of Leslie’s favorite poets, Kabir, to music and sang it for her. Rowan made a snowman out of wood in wood shop at school and then used his woodburning kit at home to burn in a face and features. He is a great artist and did a really nice job. Leslie also received a timely gift of two bottles of sesame oil from a long time family friend, fellow Sahaj Marg practitioner and current Pockets of the Future blog and website reader.

    However the biggest gift, in my mind, stemmed from an earlier experience that happened during my birthday last summer. Leslie had had the children draw me pictures of things they wished for me. Here are their pictures:

    This a tree that Andrew drew. None of us can remember why he drew this but as it has turned out, we have really needed wood for our wood burning stove and for posts for our meditation building.

    This is a watch Faith drew as we lost our clock in the living room when our DVD player was hit by lightening. She spent a long time drawing the picture, especially the books on the bookshelf. As I later thought about it, she was giving me the wish of time which is something that Leslie and I both need.

    In this picture Anna makes her commitment to have the living room be picked up by evening for a year. She includes a variety of hearts in her work. Since that time Anna has taken to making cornbread, pancakes, bread, kefir, feta cheese and other meals. She also has taken a great interest in serving meals to the family. This has freed Leslie and me up a little bit to do other things as well as relieved some of the pressure surrounding meal times.

    In this picture, Will’s birthday wish for me was that our 1986 Ford pick-up truck would be running again. Of all the pictures, this one had the biggest effect on me when I looked at it. It felt as if a subtle switch was thrown somewhere and that truck would actually run again. It was great that Will came up with this idea on his own because it meant that he realized that getting the truck to run again was really important. Up to that point, the truck had gone through a painful dying process stalling out at first and then having some electrical problems. I tried to put a new starter in but there was a bolt that was completely frozen in place and on and on. It seemed like the truck was essentially dead and would never run again.

    We basically cannot manage the homestead without a sturdy pick-up and many projects, including the completion of our meditation building, can only move forward with us having a truck. But last spring every time it seemed like we could get it fixed, something else came up or the truck itself showed no signs of cooperation. It seemed like the truck was dead and wanted to remain so. Then two months or so after Will’s insightful birthday wish, the truck was fixed and is now running again. In fact it is running better now than when we first bought it. A lot of events had to unfold for things to come together for the truck to be repaired, including a lot changes in our lives like remodeling the house to put in a wood burning stove that increased the vacuum of need that pulled that truck back from the dead.

    So this event changed my conception of what a birthday wish could be for another person. In the case of our children, they have no monetary resources or ability to shop for something but they do have something much more valuable: purity of heart, and the innocence of genuine goodwill for their family members. As our family moves from the world of wishes to the world of needs, we are constantly rewriting the way we do things like celebrate holidays and all of the other consumerism based training we have all received. This fruitful rewriting is now applying to birthdays as well.

    So I took the birthday wish exercise a bit further. I sat down with our four younger kids and asked them what they thought their mom needed and what they thought they would like to wish for her. They came up with ideas and then went about the business of bringing their ideas into existence by drawing a blueprint of what they wanted their mother to have. All things start as an idea and then through thought become a plan or blue print. By giving her a picture of their idea, they were taking the first step towards the materialization of their wishes for her. They were giving the gift of a possibility that will grow into a reality in due course.

    What better gift is there than to pray for the fulfillment of someone else’s need? To do this, the children had to take a vested interest in another person, the gift receiver, and they also had to take an interest in a particular project. They were volunteering to form a partnership they will be a part of to make their gift come about for their mom. When their drawn and colored wishes come to life, they will look at them and remember the picture and the intention. They will experience the spark they lit to make this birthday wish come true turning into a reality. It is not only a valuable gift but a valuable life lesson. So here are their pictures:

    Andrew wished for a garden for his mom. He drew beds of squash, lettuce and spinach respectively.

    When we went to Mabry Mill last week for Will’s blacksmithing tutorial, Leslie got to see and hear a spinning wheel at work. She immediately felt a sense of well being watching and hearing the wool being spun into yarn and resolved to have a spinning wheel some day. Knowing this, Faith drew her mom working at her very own spinning wheel for her birthday wish.

    Anna chose to draw her mom an orchard. This orchard also includes blueberry and raspberry bushes - all of which Leslie wants to create here.

    Will, the person who is training our Will to be a blacksmith, told us last week about his wife Joanna. Among other things, Joanna apparently has great expertise in making goat milk soap. Leslie was very excited to learn this because making soap, and goat milk soap in particular, is a skill she has been wanting to learn for years. Will and Joanna will be coming to visit us soon and Leslie can’t wait to learn more from Joanna. It is interesting that Leslie has been wanting to make soap for years and now it seems this need is about to become a reality. So Will chose this for his birthday wish for his mom.

    So as it turned out, this was Leslie’s best birthday ever. In my observation, this birthday was powered completely by love. Often birthdays and holidays become a mix of past training and family obligations with the real meaning of the celebration no longer in the forefront of anyone’s consciousness. The real meaning of celebrating someone’s birthday is that you are celebrating the persons birth. You are saying, “I am happy you were born.” You are grateful to God for bringing that person into your life and you acknowledge that they themselves are a gift to you. So this is how Leslie’s 50th birthday was celebrated. By removing those who did not view her as a gift and who were not grateful for her birth and by removing the distractions and other unnecessary additions to the day, we were able to convey the true essence of our love and appreciation for her. And that’s what people really want to feel on their birthday or any other day - love and appreciation. Nothing fills a void in one’s heart like love.

    All the best,