What’s the “Baptist Wall” in Your Life?

 

store

A few years ago I was visiting an old beau in North Carolina. We were not far from Raleigh when I saw an ABC liquor store on the side of the road, all by itself. It was odd because the store was a one-storey structure, with a long wall protruding from its right side. There was room for two or three cars to park behind this wall and a door on the side so that people could park and enter the liquor store without being seen from the street. How strange, I thought, and how incredibly clandestine.

I asked my friend what on earth was the purpose of making a liquor store like that. He said, “Oh, that’s what people around here call a Baptist Wall”. He explained to me that there in the extreme Bible Belt of the United States, many religious denominations prohibited their citizens from indulging in alcohol. So these walls were built to prevent people on the street from seeing who was entering the liquor store. It showed the hypocrisy of a denomination whose members publicly opposed alcohol consumption but privately indulged.

hypocrite

I laughed at his explanation because this Canadian couldn’t imagine why anyone would need to be secretive about trips to the liquor store. But in the South, especially in North Carolina, the first state to enact Prohibition, it was a fact from the past. Imagine, I thought, people had to hide behind a wall to do something they wouldn’t dare in the open. And while we were talking, a woman in a nice looking car drove up behind the wall and entered the liquor store from the side. WOW!

Since that time I’ve asked many people if they had ever heard of a Baptist Wall, and to date, no one has. I’ve searched the internet but there is no sign of it there, except for on a forum someone was explaining what a Baptist wall is. Perhaps the ‘powers that be’ have removed all evidence of it online. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.

That got me to thinking about Baptist Walls and secrets. How sometimes we are one way in public and a completely different persona when at home where no one sees us. Have you ever heard someone say, “If you really knew me, you probably wouldn’t like me.”

Do you have a Baptist Wall in your life? What are you hiding from your friends and family? Sometimes we hide who we really are because we think people wouldn’t like us if they knew certain things about us. I’ve found the opposite to be true. When people have learned some things about me, it has opened conversation about problems in their own life. Sometimes letting yourself be vulnerable makes you more real to the people around you.

Why not just be yourself? After all, as the saying goes, ‘Everyone else is taken.’

 

 

The Deadly Stress

stress2

 

There’s never a dull moment, never a down time in my life, it seems. We have been in Hilton Head, SC for about five weeks now, and as it often happens, my health takes a nosedive as soon as I stop to rest.

After a month of December with stressful events at my church I was left quite drained and unmotivated, depressed actually. I did manage to get my mojo going again a couple of days before all the family arrived for Christmas celebrations, and then I sped into high gear.

I don’t know why I still think I have to be supermom, the Christmas fairy and Martha Stewart all rolled into one, but that’s what I attempt when my grown children come home for Christmas. The food traditions, the stocking traditions, the drawing on the revered tablecloth, I did it all and barely lived to tell the tale. This, coupled with four 2 ½ hour round  trips back and forth from the airport in some intense weather, all on the heels of December’s earlier events became more than I could handle. I mean, I handled it on the outside and thought I was doing pretty well. But inside I was not handling it. Don’t get me wrong- I loved every moment with my family. I think I just need to tone things down a bit and be easier on myself.

I am 64, not 44 or 34, but I keep thinking I can do everything I always did. Was I in for a rude awakening!

We took the last bunch to the airport on December 29th and then rushed home to shut down the house, pack the suitcases and car, clean out the fridge, clean the bathrooms, change beds and in general, get ready to drive three days to Hilton Head Island for three months. At 5AM on December 30 we left, in sub zero temperatures.

Once we arrived and settled in to the condo that has become our second home, bought the first grocery order and let everyone know we had arrived safely, the two of us collapsed. And about a week later I got sick.

What do you know; I had these suspiciously familiar symptoms with accompanying rash that a trip to the doctor confirmed as shingles…again. I had shingles three years ago as a result of intense stress in my life, and I swore that it would never happen again.

Well it did.

Compounding the distress was another rash all over my body that was not shingles. Two trips to the doctor never did give me an explanation of what it was. Probably more evidence of my body just telling me to rest and stop taking on things that I’m not able to handle any more, and to stop taking myself so seriously. A series of Prednisone and cortisone cream helped to finally get things under control after several days.

This latest illness is a warning but also a signpost for me to take stock of my life and what’s left of it.

So when people ask me if Dave and I are enjoying our ‘vacation’ in South Carolina, I have to qualify that it is not a ‘vacation’. We are living in SC for three months. And then I have to say that I have been sick once again, kicking myself in the a$$ once again for letting it happen. I am finally learning that I have to pull back and say ‘no’ to things that drag me down, stress me and make me sick.

Stress-Quotes-5-min

 

A Busy Writing Crafting Autumn

Have you noticed that I haven’t written anything here for the past couple of months? I’ve been busy writing, but not here. The Valley Harvester, a small local paper that is a part of the Halifax Chronicle Herald has asked me to write an article every month for them. Since they have the rights to the articles that I send them, I cannot post them here. But I can give you a link to them. Here are a couple:

http://thechronicleherald.ca/valleyharvester/1502106-put-yourself-in-another’s-shoes

 

http://thechronicleherald.ca/valleyharvester/1494383-the-joy-of-living-through-facebook

It has been interesting writing about something and then actually seeing it in the newspaper, with my name attached! You could say it makes me more aware of the wider audience than here in the blog, and so I’m editing more and trying harder.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting emails from friends in Newfoundland congratulating me on getting published in The Evening Telegram in St. John’s and The Western Star in Corner Brook! Apparently that’s what they meant when they said they have the ‘rights’ to my articles- they can be picked up by an affiliate newspaper. A humbling but exciting experience to be sure.

But I miss writing here!

Also I have been taking a writing course the past couple of months, Jeff Brown’s Writing Your Way Home, and I’ve been doing a lot more writing for it. It’s mostly been learning to find my ‘writer’s voice’ and to get more into the nitty gritty of my sometimes messy life. It has actually changed the way I see myself as a writer, which is not a bad thing.

In the meantime I have been doing the usual Autumn craft shows with my lavender wares front and center. I did a great show in Antigonish in September, a two day juried show. After much fear and trepidation, I showed up and had the best show of my life! I will go back next year, if they will have me. It was called Windfall Fine Art and Handcraft Market, and was well organized, well publicized and well attended. People loved my lavender things, but in particular the Lavender Body Butter and Lavender and Wheat Eye Pillows.

cream

Then I’ve had a couple more shows in October and November, one left in December and that will be it for another year. I have to say, it’s been rewarding as people call for repeat orders of body butter and I’m quickly selling out.

I hope you’re having a great fall!

Christine

Home Alone…

I don’t know about you, but I need, no I crave alone time. It seems that the busier life gets and the more I am around people, the greater the need for some serious quiet time. Until a few days ago I did not have a day to myself since last December; that was eight months ago.

When I find myself getting edgy, annoyed, reclusive and tired I know its time for a little self imposed retreat. But how do you get a retreat when you don’t live alone? Do you go away somewhere? Do you hide in your office for three days? That’s not much fun.

There was a great need for me to be alone for a few days at home, not having to talk, answer the phone, go out or make plans. I felt that if I didn’t get that time I would explode. Thank God I have a husband who, even though he does not have this need, he understands.

So three days ago Dave left to spend a few days with family while I stayed home alone. The calendar was cleared, there were no appointments, engagements, obligations or plans of any sort.

The first day I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I didn’t do anything. I didn’t make the bed, didn’t get dressed, washed or any of the usual routines. I sat on the couch and knit. Then I made a shake and prepared some food for one. I read, wrote, and binge watched a series on the benefits of a ketogenic diet. For the longest time I listened to the birds singing, dogs barking in the distance and the sound of the fridge cutting in. Before calling it a night, I got dressed and went out for a long walk.

img_0624

 

On day two I did more of the same and finished an article I was writing for a local newspaper. Yes, someone thought enough of my writing to ask me to submit a monthly article for the Valley Harvester. It was wonderful to have a long quiet time to gather thoughts and put them to paper.

In the afternoon a friend dropped over for an order of my Lavender Body Butter and we chatted for a few minutes. And in the evening I did go out with friends to a local restaurant, had a few laughs, and a great meal with wonderful company. My normal self would have just declined the invitation because Dave was out of town, but I decided that I could handle this outing, and was glad I did.

I think I was starting to relax and decompress.

Day three saw me picking blueberries that have ripened on my jealously guarded bushes in the front yard and trimming a row of lavender bushes in preparation for a small autumn flowering. I got into a book I was reading in the afternoon and then promptly fell asleep on the couch- an unusual occurrence for me. I thought that by now I would be feeling lonely but I was doing just fine and totally enjoying the lack of scheduling and planning.

img_0628

Later on I worked on a few lavender crafts for the upcoming Fall shows. I have a big one in September- the Windfall Fine Art and Handicraft Market in Antigonish, NS. It seemed that I was just meandering from one activity to another in total bliss.

 

Today is my last day alone and I find myself sitting on the couch coloring- – yes, coloring! The few days alone have done their work; I am relaxed, mentally clearer and ready for Dave’s return.

img_0623

Have you ever done a little retreat like that? Or not like that? What do you do when life gets too busy?

 

SaveSave

A Busy Lavender Week

With all the lavender harvesting, drying and wreath making going on around here, things are in full swing for what’s coming up next: my first juried craft show! Up to this point I have only participated in craft shows at schools and community centers, but this year I have decided to do something different.

The Windfall Fine Art and Handcraft Market takes place in Antigonish NS in September at the Keating Center on St FX campus. It is a juried show, which means that you apply to have a spot and then your work is judged on its merit, originality and suitability for the show. I applied and was accepted! Yay me!

So now I have to make sure I have enough merchandise to sell at this well advertised two day show. I have been making my products in larger quantities than before for the past few weeks and I’ll give you a sneak peek at a couple of my most popular items.

I make this whipped Lavender Body Butter that is becoming more and more popular each year. Most of my customers are looking for natural products and this really fits the bill without additives or chemicals. It contains shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and lavender essential oil. That’s it. I as well as several of my customers use this body butter as a facial foundation cream. It takes a few minutes for the skin to absorb; its well worth the wait because you’re using pure food grade cream. After several months of use, people agree that their complexion has never been smoother and more nourished.

img_0555

Filling jars with body butter in my kitchen.

img_0614

An afternoon’s work ready to be capped and boxed.

img_0615

All set to go!

One other item I have been making the past week is wreaths. They have to be made while the lavender is fresh and then it dries right on the wreath. Dried lavender is too fragile for all the manipulation required for wreath making. People ask me all the time if the dried lavender smells good and I have to tell them that no, it has no smell. In order to have that wonderful lavender scent, the flower has to be squeezed or crushed, releasing the essential oil that is contained therein. You can’t really do that with a dried lavender wreath or bouquet because you would destroy it. So these things are purely ornamental.

The wreaths you see here are still in the process of drying. Once they are completely dry I will embellish them with dried miniature roses and some grasses.

img_0613

First the fresh lavender is put into little bundles.

 

img_0616

Then it is wired onto a grapevine wreath form.

img_0612

Et voila! One finished wreath.

img_0617

Here are some of the wreaths, almost dry now, and soon will be ready to embellish with dried mini roses and some grasses.

There are several other items in the works: lavender and wheat eye pillows, sachets, tub tea and a few more. I’ll keep you posted.

What a busy week it’s been!

After the Pruning Comes the Harvest

People around here who know me know that I love lavender. It all started in 2009 when I went out looking for my first job in 20 years and ended up working at a lavender farm in St Eustache, Quebec. It was a rough time in my life, post-divorce, and I couldn’t imagine anything better than working with lavender to calm me down. I loved my job so much that when I moved to Nova Scotia the next year, having a lavender farm of my own was the logical next step.

Well, it is actually a lavender hobby farm, as there are about 80 mature plants that cover the front lawn. These plants have gone through maturing and pruning over the past seven years, just as I have- – and we both have grown stronger as a result.

Growing lavender has been a calming, maturing, learning, patience-practicing and beautiful part of my life and I am grateful. After the rough winter of 2015 when it just did not stop snowing, the plants took a beating. Did you know that the biggest enemy of growing lavender is having its roots sit in water? That’s what happened after that winter. So last year I noticed a lot of old wood and dead branches on many of the plants and decided to give them a ruthless pruning.

As Spring came on this year I was anxious to see what would result from that pruning…and I wasn’t disappointed.

Here are a few pics taken this past week as I harvested the lavender for some special projects coming up.

I will share them with you in the coming weeks!

img_0575

Ahh…lavender!

img_0582

Oh Yeah!

img_0585

Lavender tied in bundles and ready to dry.

img_0592

Lavender drying in the basement, with fans working overtime to circulate the air.

img_0573

Happy Canada Day!

img_0598

Cutting, bundling, tying…

Joyful Connections

Our time in Hilton Head is winding down…in one week Dave and I will begin the three-day journey back to Nova Scotia. The hope is that by the time we get home, winter in the Valley will be but a cold, frozen memory.

I am so grateful for the time Dave and I are able to have in the South these past three winters. The sunshine has been wonderful for brightening the spirit and feeling healthy. In fact, for several years before we started going south for a few months I suffered greatly from SAD—seasonal affective disorder, although for a long time I just thought I was depressed. I guess it wasn’t normal to stand in front of the living room window in January and cry for the greyness of my world. In the South, even when it is cold outside, usually the sun is shining and that’s all that matters to me.

This is the first winter in three that I have not been sick; two years ago I suffered from shingles during my time here, and last year I arrived with Bells palsy, so when I say I’m grateful, I really am.

I’m grateful for the increased health I’ve experienced in the past six months! I still have my moments of insomnia and low energy, but overall things are much better.

I have said that I believe JOY and happiness in life comes from connection and relationship, not from possessions, outings and workplace successes. What’s the point of having all those things if you don’t have someone to share it all with, someone who really cares? I’ve missed my friends, my groups and my church while basking in the sunshine and getting healthy. My Knitting Ninnies have had to move on without me; things have been happening in my church that I am disconnected from, and my friends have been busy doing their own thing.

How I have missed them all!

But there have been joyful connections here in Hilton Head. Dave and I have had a surprising connection with a couple of beautiful souls from France. Jan (pronounced ‘yawn’) and Ada (pronounced ‘ah-dah’) hold court at a coffee shop we call the ‘office’ from 11 to 12 every day, drinking their espresso from tiny cups that were bought just for them. A few times a week we join them and several other displaced Northerners. Can you believe Jan is 90 and Ada is 88? They remind me of my parents! They are well read, quick witted and about as opinionated as anyone else, and we have some good conversations at the office most days. They walk on the beach as well.

In fact, the first year Dave and I were in Hilton Head, we saw an older man walking on the beach. He wore a fur vest and leather pants (it was a cold winter, even down here), and his hair was longish and combed straight back. I said to Dave that he looked like he was French. Sure enough, when we met Jan at the coffee shop, he turned out to be that same man and he is indeed from France!

jan

For the first couple of years Ada used to laugh at me for all my thrift shopping, until one day in January I showed up at the office wearing a beautiful blouse. She loved it and when I told her I got it at a thrift shop she said, “The only problem with that blouse is that it should be me wearing it.” I showed her where and how to shop at the Bargain Box, the best thrift shop on the island. Now she sports a few beautiful blouses of her own.

Jan and Ada bring joy to my life every day! My prayer is that they will be able to come back next year.