Live in Love

When my husband and I traveled to New Mexico this spring, we stopped at church rummage sale. (Isn’t this what everyone does on vacation!?) Out in front of the church was a spiral contemplation garden. We had never experienced one before, so we gave it a try. I sat on a nearby bench and watched as he journeyed to the center and back out again. 
Then it was my turn. 
The guidance on the sign said to hold a question or concern with which we needed clarity in our minds as we walked the spiral path inward and back out again. My mind usually races with a thousand things from which I can't choose because I want to be certain I choose the exact right thing. So, I decided to focus on nothing and try to let whatever was going to come to me, come.
I put one foot in front of the other letting the sounds of traffic and passers by fade away, focusing on the shapes of the rocks in my path, the crunching sound of them under my feet, the warmth of the Taos sun on my shoulders. Before I knew it, everything I had entered the garden with fell away and I was at the center. Still not quite sure of the message I was seeking, I looked up. 
What I saw was my husband sitting patiently on the bench where I sat moments before, waiting. He was reading something, probably one of the shop brochures we had picked up along the way. He was allowing me the time and space I needed to find whatever it was I was looking for in that moment. 
That was when it hit me. 
Be in love. 
My heart warmed and my eyes welled up.
Be in love. 
Don't just love or be in love with something or someone. Be in love, live in it. See what is right before you and always with you. It is a choice, as I wrote about here on another day. 
We had gone to New Mexico seeking space and clarity and reconnection after facing the painful loss of a pregnancy. I was angry and struggling and trying to not harbor bitterness and resentment in my heart. I needed space, time away to find some sense of peace again. Somehow I knew in the mountains and the wide open spaces of New Mexico I could find what I was looking for, and though I didn’t know exactly what that was, I knew I would recognize it when I found it. 
I had been missing out on what I had right before me. The ability to see beauty and love in my life was clouded by the loss of what should have been, but is not. 
I was no longer going to miss present joy and love, for the past or the future.
I began to feel peace again and the vastness of the landscape expanded my soul, giving it space to both settle and soar.


Be Open to the Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Following Your Heart is Hard Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Out of the Eclipse

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


Bem General's Heart

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

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

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

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

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