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Loving Life

What does loving life mean to you? I believe that loving life has an individual meaning for everyone. My hope is that we all find and create the life that makes us feel fulfilled and whole. Well balanced comes to mind along with complete and utter joy in our hearts.

I am loving life more now than I ever have in all of my 54 plus years. I have a husband, best friend, lover and personal cheering squad all rolled into one individual. I believe this to be a rare creature and a special find. Lucky me! It almost seems mystical or fictional at times and yet he is real. I know ’cause I pinch him every now and then and he yells. Lol

I think it is a fantasy that we all grow up dreaming about. To have that special someone who fills your heart so full it almost feels like it’s not real. Like it is some kind of dream that you don’t want to wake from. If this is a dream for me, then I never want to wake up. I know this sounds kind of mushy, but after everything I have been through, I feel like I am truly blessed to have come out on top for once.

I live in one of, if not the most beautiful places on earth. The changes of the seasons are breathtaking to say the least.
Our winter snow storms have a beauty all their own. Especially when one is curled up around the wood stove, while listening to the crackling of the wood as it burns and watching the color of the dancing flames. Maybe with your companions, reading a great article or listening to your favorite piece of music while the snow falls outside the window creating a blanket of the purest white you will ever see. The spring brings with it the sweet nectar from the maple trees as they wake from their long sleep. As the sap runs up the trees to nourish, the frozen tree starts to thaw and grow beautiful green leaves that will shade you from the hot summer sun. Summer brings an abundance of new fruits and vegetables as well as the beautiful sunsets over the farmer’s fields and the many beaches and lakes that surround us. Fall, which is my absolute favorite time of year brings a bright palette portrait of bright orange, reds, and yellows mixed with a little green to complete it. The cooler temperatures bring on harvest and a welcomed reprieve from the heat of the summer.

As the seasons change it is a good reminder that all living things have a cycle. I watch these cycles progress in a much more appreciative manner now, knowing that I too have a cycle and that I can now enjoy watching as my own seasons change. I look in the mirror and see someone who has seen many seasons, and it shows. My past seasons have left many scars like an old maple tree that has lost a branch or two in a winter storm. The tree healed and keeps growing in spite of the reminding mark that the wound left behind, and so shall I. I have had many blessings in my life some of which brought to me by some very wonderful people and animals alike.

In addition to my many blessings, there have also been some undesired actions or situations from people. All of which taught me many great lessons, which I am grateful for. After all, to live is to learn.

I have been told that my life most likely will not last as long as someone who is in better health than I am. But, who knows, I have beat slim odds before. That said however, I feel blessed to have had the time to build and grow a truly loving family. One that I have chosen for myself. If I were to meet my last season, I would go into my long sleep happily.

Jam, Jelly, Berry and Missy are my cat family and I could not have asked for more loyal, loving, beautiful beings to share life with. They make me smile, laugh and most of all feel loved.

Hank, our 14 week old mastiff puppy has made me feel more alive with his active, loving and protective manner than I have felt in a long while. He is sassy, stubborn, smart, persistent, and very handsome. All qualities that I absolutely love about him. He is an amazing young dog and my hope is that I get to watch him grow and blossom into full adulthood. He is catching on to his training very quickly which is a good thing because he is already over 35lbs.

Miss Waffles our laying hen and Hank the puppy have become the best of friends. I couldn’t shake the feeling however, that in the evenings when it was time for her to go to sleep on her roost, that she was still feeling lonely. I have been on the hunt to find Waffles a couple of hen friends to keep her company especially as the cold winter weather approaches.
My search lead me to a couple of 3 year old laying hens that a good friend of mine had. She decided that because she only had two hens left that she would re-home them an no longer keep hens in her barn. This lead to them coming to live with us on our homestead. I am very pleased to announce that we now have the two girls to keep Waffles company. I have named them Juno and Pixie. They all seem to be getting along well and though it is still very new for them, they seem to love our clean barn, loads of land to hunt for tasty morsels and of course the odd treat from the kitchen. Hank the puppy, on the other hand, they still aren’t sure what to make of.

Waffles still comes to hang out with Hank and I when we’re doing our yard work, from time to time and even though Juno and Pixie are still settling in, I am sure they will come to love this place as much as I do.

My husband and I just had a lovely two weeks staycation together. We did some day trips in the truck and took our sidekick Hank along. We had a road trip to pick up a “new to us” wood cook stove for our off grid camp. I have already baked a batch of bread in it and I’m happy to say that it works beautifully! We also started to build a wood shed on the back of the camp. Which is something that we have wanted to do for some time. It is always a work in progress, but it’s definitely a labor of love! We also cleaned up and burnt some brush while milling some logs into boards for the wood shed roof and other building projects, over the past two weeks. We also went out on our ATV’s a couple of times and had a picnic at the river with a little fire to roast some locally made sausages. Which we served with open fire toasted homemade buns. One day, we took Hank to the beach to see if he liked the salt water but he didn’t seem very interested in the sand. I don’t think he liked the taste of it. I think he is a fresh water boy and will like the river much more!

Most of all we spent quality time on our homestead with our little family and made it a priority to be present in each moment and enjoy some time to rest.

Who could love life more, when it looks like all of this, I ask?

As Always,
Love Tanya Jean

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Piece of my Puzzle

I will start by saying that this summer has been the best summer of my life. It was full of fun, peace, love, and joy. What more could a kind soul ask for?

I made a choice at the beginning of the summer to relax and not put as much pressure on myself to be productive to the point of exhaustion. I decided to set and work toward small attainable goals. But, first and foremost I decided to enjoy and really be present in everything that I attempted.

I tried a new way of gardening this year which didn’t yield an abundance of food but I chalked it up to a learning experience. That said, I am very happy to have an easy and relaxed harvest season this year. The items that I did harvest will help out nicely with our winter food needs and grocery bill, in the long months of our Maritime winter. With my harvest duties and time requirements being a little lighter this year, I will have more time to enjoy the fall season. Which is my absolute favorite time of year!

We had more rain than usual this year in our portion of New Brunswick. Which had a contributing effect on the growth and yield in my gardens. I will not complain however. It seems to me that other parts of our Country and the world had far more devastating weather patterns to deal and live with. In my opinion, we are fortunate to have only had a rainy summer. Some parts of our Country had historic fires to cope with.

I made the most of the days that were sunny and beautiful and spent a great deal of time outdoors enjoying every second. It is amazing how much one’s degree of presence can improve one’s view on life.

I learned some new songs this year and in doing so pushed myself a few steps outside my comfort zone. Some of them really stretched my abilities and I am extremely pleased with the outcome. With my new songs, I attended some music gigs, outdoor parties and jams with the band and had a blast!

As I mentioned in my last post, I checked off some of the items on my bucket list this summer. In addition to those events, I also spent a fair amount of time out on my ATV enjoying nature and our wonderful New Brunswick trails with my husband and some great friends. Now that we are getting into the fall months, we have decided to make the most of the beauty of autumn here in our neck of the woods by planning some off-road day trips and excursions on our ATV’s and truck. This year, for the second year in a row, my husband is going to take two consecutive weeks of fall vacation to spend with me and our growing animal family.

Speaking of our growing animal family, I have a big announcement to make. After a lot of discussion, we have decided to get a puppy. We have been without a dog for the last few years, since my heart attack. This is mostly because I had it stuck in my head that we should not have any more dogs due to my health and mobility issues. This along with being told by my doctors that I most likely will not live as long as someone who has fully functioning heart, played on me. That said however, after the summer I have just had and how good I have been feeling, my outlook is now a little different. I have changed my thought patterns and done my best to look after both my physical and emotional health. I have decided to free myself from the good opinions of other people and do and experience the things that make me happy. Having a puppy makes me happy! It makes me extremely happy, in fact! I have sooooo missed having a dog friend in my life. Dogs have played a huge roll in my life ever since I was born and not having that kind of friendship over, the last few years, has always felt like something was missing. It was like putting a puzzle together only to get to the last spot and find that the final piece is missing… I just put the last piece into my puzzle and it is now complete.

My new little boy is a Mastiff. I have recently come to learn that there are 14 different types in the mastiff breed. My Hank has lineage from the Canary, Italian and Neapolitan mastiff blood lines. In my opinion, with the traits and characteristics of these three breeds combined in him, he makes the perfect boy for me. He was born on July 19th of this year and he has been with me for two weeks now. He is a sweet, goofy, silly, clumsy and loving little boy. I’m in total love with him and though my husband would not want me to say this or tell anyone about his soft side, he has grown quite fond of him as well. The family that I have chosen finally feels complete.

The way I look at it, even if something were to happen to me sooner rather than later, I have made the most of my opportunity to share happiness, love and life with such a beautiful creature. Hank already loves going for drives in our four wheel drive truck. He knows his name and is coming along nicely with his basic obedience commands. His is also doing very well with house training and adapting to our schedules and routines.

He already weighs almost 20 lbs and will end up weighing between 120 – 150 lbs once fully grown. We decided that a big dog would be best so that we can train him to be somewhat of a service dog for me. I fall a lot because of my mobility issues and he will be big enough to help me in my times of need. I still have bad days from time to time and having him here to help me will help to put my husband’s mind at ease, when he can’t be with me.

Hank is slowly gaining the trust of my girl Jam. She was used to dogs being around in her younger years and politely tells him when he is invading her space and comfort level. Jelly and Berry don’t really know what to make of him yet. They are cautious around him so I make sure that I carve out a little extra attention time for them both. I think this will help with the gradual association process nicely. Our outdoor friend Missy, who came from the farm across the road, is no stranger to the ways of dogs and puppies, as they too had dogs. Of course last but not least, Waffles the laying hen is standing her ground with him. Hank listens and responds well to me when we’re doing the chores in the morning, where she is concerned. This is especially good when he starts to get the zoomies and wants to play. Waffles starts to cluck and I tell him to leave her alone. He then will sit in front of her and almost hang his head in disappointment. It is really quite funny to watch. Waffles is the boss and puffs up to tell him when to back off. I am truly enjoying my life and the animal family that surrounds me.

I will keep you all posted on Hank and the rest of my little farm family. What I would like to ask all of you is this. Are there pieces of your puzzle missing? Which pieces are they? Have you ever thought about it? Or, do you have the right number of pieces, but some of them are just wedged into the wrong space. Maybe you have been working some pieces from a completely different puzzle? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

As always,
Love Tanya Jean

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Summer Fun

This summer has already been very full for us and we are only at the half way mark. My husband and I are having the best summer we have ever had together. I am living as though tomorrow is not promised. Mostly, well, because it’s not. Not for any of us, but maybe more in particular for me. I think that is fair to say. So, making the most of every day, is top priority for me, at this point in my life. How about you?

I have had a few small challenges with my vegetable growing so far this year, but my flowers are doing wonderfully.
I decided to plant most of my vegetables in the green house this year and we have had a warmer than usual year. That being said, I have had to water the plants more frequently and started to see some unwanted bugs pestering my crops and plants. I have since moved everything, except my beans and peas outdoors. They too may go out. I am observing them for a few more days. Moving the others out seems to have proven to be a beneficial strategy. I say this because now it seems that the larger bugs are consuming, or scaring off the smaller ones. Either way both the plants and I are happy. I am now starting to see more growth and the plants are looking more healthy. Hopefully I moved them out in time for them to produce a better yield. Fingers crossed. We love to eat fresh real food and have enjoyed the lettuce and Swiss chard so far. I am really looking forward to enjoying the rest of my bounty, once things are at their prime.

The tomatoes are coming along nicely, as well as the pumpkins, zucchini, squash and cucumbers. Although, I had to reseed the zucchini, squash and cucumbers do to a cucumber beetle party early in the spring. That said, everything seems to be growing and doing well now.

My brown eyed Suzie’s, and sunflowers are growing tall and the scarlet runner pole beans that I plant for decoration have really been attracting the hummingbirds. Our little piece of heaven is looking just so beautiful this year! I just love it! I can sit out for hours and just watch the birds and bees enjoying in sharing this beautiful space we have created.

For all of you that may be wondering, Waffles the laying hen, aka my shadow, is doing very well. She spends most of her day patrolling the yard and checking on Missy, our kitty friend, to make sure all is well. I can’t forget to tell you that she is also loving the taste of my gerber daisies. I love the beauty of them and Waffles seems to love the taste. We will have to compromise on the gerber daisies, I guess. She seems to leave the flowers alone but she absolutely loves the taste of the leaves. They look a little sparce right now, but they are surviving. I have put them up a little higher so she really has to work at getting to them. She is still laying a good size egg every two to three days. Honestly she could be laying more in some other unusual places because she is out all day, every day and I read they will sometimes do that. Regardless, I am pleased that she seems to be happy and healthy. I bring her in the porch with me sometimes, just to hang out and have some company. The indoor cats, Berry, Jelly and Jam don’t seem to mind. They all seem to co-exist quite well.

My husband and I have been very busy entertaining ourselves and playing lots of music with friends. The weather has been such that we have even been able to have a few evening fires in the pit in our patio area. We have had the opportunity to visit family and friends at their cottage on the water. The seals and fish are abundant this year and the scenery is beyond beautiful. Just the fact that we are able to go and visit and/or have visitors after the craziness of the pandemic over the last couple of years has been a real treat for me. I think I almost forgot what it was like to be social and socialize. But, it didn’t take me long to get back into the groove of it again.

Another highlight of the summer was a visit from a very dear friend from Ottawa, this year. She is someone who I consider to be like a sister to me. We have been friends since early childhood. In fact, she used to live just down the road from me when we were children and we have remained friends all these years. Her and another close childhood friend came out to our little oasis for a day visit and it was wonderful. The three of us talked like no time had passed and it felt like the old days. When we used to be young and foolish and act silly. In a way, even though we have all done a lot of living, for that day, time stood still.

We may all look a little older, but our attitudes and love for one another are still the same. That is something that time has not changed. It is one of my favorite memories of this summer and I will cherish that day always. We have all promised to make more of an effort to stay in touch on a more regular basis and get together as often as we can.

One thing I have learned is that time is precious and it is not something to be wasted. If you have loved ones, make an effort to make the most of the time you spend with them. My husband made a bucket list event come true for me this past weekend. I have always wanted to go tubing in the Miramichi River. A lot of my friends have gone and everyone always says that it was a blast. Well they weren’t kidding! We had a fantastic day! After my heart attack, I started to make a bucket list of things that I want to do or try. Beacause of my challenges of the last five years, I wasn’t able to participate in this type of event. It requires that you must be able to walk down a fairly steep hill to get the water and you must be able to get in and out of the tube. Especially at the end. When you reach the end of your three hour journey on the river. Then there is the walk back up another fairly steep hill to get to the bus pick up point. I’m happy to say with just a little assistance from my husband I was able to put a check mark beside this event on my list. Now that I have gone and had such a great experience. I really want to go again! Mabe it will become an annual event.

The weather was absolutely perfect, the scenery absolutely stunning and to experience it with my husband was the highlight of my summer. There were Canada geese resting and eating at different slightly cleared locations along the edges of the river. They were very calm and just basking in the beautiful sunshine. Also, the Salmon were feeding and jumping slightly out of the water to catch a tasty fly at some points on our trip. All of the living beings on the river that day, including the kayakers, the people on canoes and a few fellow tubers, were all enjoying the river, the beautiful day and the positive energy it all brought. The fresh warm clear air and water, had a very calming effect for all that were in and on the water that day.

I am so fortunate in so many ways. I have this chance to work on my bucket list and spend time with the people that mean the most to me, in this whole world. Not many people get a second chance to really live life the way it really should be lived. I may not get as many years to live as some people, but I will make damn sure that I make the most of what time I have left! Thanks to my love for the help and encouragement.

There is still a good amount of the summer left. So, I may not write many more posts until it is over. Because I am too busy enjoying every minute of it!

I will post more on my second half of summer adventures when I slow down a little. For now though, I hope that this post inspires you all to get out and live. Maybe even check a few items off of your own bucket list.

As Always,
Love Tanya Jean

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Restoration and Adaptation

This has been an interesting spring to say the least. In my neck of the woods, we have had temperatures in the thirties and then down to four degrees, Celsius. I can’t remember ever having to light a fire in our wood stove in June before. We have lived here twenty years and this is the first time that I have felt the damp, cold weather in such a drastic change. I was fooled by the early warm weather, for a couple of weeks. Some of you may remember from an earlier post, that I was starting some plants in the green house earlier than usual, this year. I did however transplant a few of my starter plants outside because they were getting root bound. It did shock them some but are starting to come along better now. I have had to cover them at night when the risk of frost is high. I still have my tomato plants that need to be transplanted very soon and moved outdoors but I am holding off until we get through this cold snap. Planting and keeping most of what I am growing in the green house this year, is proving to be the right choice. Considering how everything is growing so far, I believe my yields will exceed my expectations. I have already picked some lettuce for salads. We have also had a little bit of baby spinach and baby swiss chard.

The pots I planted wild flower seed in are coming along nicely. Hopefully the flowers will bloom before too much longer. I am so looking forward to the warm weather that brings with it the beautiful colors of fresh blossoms here in our little piece of heaven. This time of year I always take note of how vibrant the new shades of green are with the new growth. To me, it is a sign of restoration and renewal. The green that is showing now is the brightest it will be all season. This reminds me that all living things have a beginning and an end. All of life has a cycle.

I am sprucing up the yard by restoring some ornaments in the form of my painted rocks. I have had great joy over the years painting many rocks to brighten the yard. Until flowers come into bloom they add beautiful color. If the rocks have been in the sun they will fade over time.

This is one of the first rocks I painted over seven years ago. It lasted well but like most non living objects, it needed some restoration.

We as humans sometimes get so busy that we forget that life is a journey that needs to be savored. Sometimes even living beings need some restoration. Every step of our existence should be experienced, noted and appreciated for what it is. At times, we all need to restore ourselves in the way of adapting to new ways and or belief systems. I used to resist change and unpleasant experiences. The unpleasant parts of life happen and by accepting them rather than resisting them, I have found it easier to the lesson in them. Find the teaching moment as it were. I used to try to push through those unpleasant moments with great force and speed. Now, after all of my experiences in life, I have come to a place where I take the time to feel what is really happening and do my best to live it fully for that very reason. If I continued to file these experiences away and not feel the full effect, it comes back to haunt me. Then the teaching moment could be lost forever.

Speaking of unpleasant experiences, my little Tiny, one of our laying hens suddenly passed last Sunday. I found Tiny laying lifelessly on the ground, with Waffles nudging her, trying with all her might to lend the strength that she thought Tiny needed in order to be revived. Waffles was making distressing noises and it broke my heart to see them both in such a state.

I had felt a very unpleasant chill just moments before I found Tiny. I guess it must had been her heart giving out. She was old for a commercial laying hen and there were no signs of any other types of stress. Tiny just laid down and passed peacefully.

The commercial breed of laying hen we have are genetically designed to live producing an egg almost daily and because of this there life span tends to be shorter. I did not realize that there life span was going to be so short. I may have thought twice before getting them. Alternatively, I may have chose to get a heritage breed instead, although I have no regrets at all now. Tiny was only three years old.

As I rushed down to the barn, Waffles seemed to be in great distress watching her best friend pass. The noises she was making stopped as soon as I picked Tiny up. I could see in Waffles eyes she so hoped that there was something I could do for her friend. I was too late, she was gone and there was nothing I could do. I felt useless and extremely sad.

As I prepared Tiny’s body for burial, Waffles watched quietly. In her own way I believe she was saying good bye to her companion.

I have been told that laying hens have a brain the size of a raisin. Some would say that, it was just a laying hen, with no real empathy for the life that was lost. I, being the empath that I am, know that even though they have small brains they have individual personalities. They show affection and they also have enough intelligence to understand what has taken place. I have had enough hens to know that they recognize there favorite humans and hens alike. They feel a lot of the same emotions that humans do, in my opinion. Their long term memory may not be as long as a humans. Or is it? Regardless, it seems to me that there are some humans who can choose to forget some events, why can’t a hen do the same.

Waffles is by herself now and she seemed depressed. I could feel her sadness. She seemed lonely so I have been spending more time with her. She is enjoying the extra attention I have been giving her but I am not about to roost on the pole with her at night. With my balance, I would not be up there very long. Lol. I have taken an old stuffed animal down to the barn. Hens are weary of anything new.

One of Waffles favorite treats are a small portion of my homemade crumbled biscuit. I put a little on the floor beside the stuffed animal and she analyzed the situation for a few moments observing that the stuffed animal wasn’t motioning toward the delightful tidbits. Inch by inch, she moved closer, as her stomach was telling her, if you snooze you may loose. It wasn’t long before she was standing beside the stuffed animal and the treat was gone. Throughout the day I would periodically check on Waffles and her new buddy, most often Waffles would be standing beside this new odd little creature pruning herself and acting content.

As nightfall came, I tied the stuffed animal on the roosting poll close to Waffles’ regular spot is and sure enough when I went to close the barn up for the night, the two were side by side cuddled up nice and close keeping each other warm.

You are probably wondering why I don’t just go and get another hen. They are flock animals and need companionship, which I am fully aware of. I have decided that I will not have any more laying hens. Waffles is three years old now and it is hard to say how much longer she will be with us. She has stopped laying and it is for this reason I believe that her days may also be numbered, much like my own. To introduce another hen at this point would be too stressful for her and myself included.

Some would suggest to place her in another flock but I believe at her age she would get picked on and this is the only home she has ever known. I have always said that once an animal has a home here, to live with me, they will stay for the rest of their natural days.

I have loved having the hens more than I can express. I started out with twelve three years ago. They were excellent companions and good therapy for me. I named everyone and treated them with great care. As they passed I would bury them in our own pet cemetery on the property with a hand painted stone to mark there resting place. They were all my friends and family I choose for myself. As I get older, and after all I have been through, I take loosing a friend or a family member harder and harder each time. A piece of me dies every time I loose another one.

I have no way of knowing how long I will be on this spinning ball and I really do want to make the most of it. That being said having animal friends that require the kind of care that the hens do coupled with what I believe they should have puts me at a disadvantage for being able to partake in some adventures that are still on my list to do. I want to have the freedom to be able to experience all that life has to offer and seize all opportunities, here and now, in my last chapter.

Waffles is adapting and not totally alone because she also has Missy, our cat friend that decided to make this her home, who she visits frequently. The stuffed animal seems to be helping her night time blues. So I will do all I can to keep Waffles healthy and happy for the rest of her days.

To me, restoration and adaptation are all part of the cycle of life. Looking forward and not backwards is what both Waffles and I are trying to do. We will remember Tiny and celebrate her happy life as it was. We said our good byes to our friend and now it is time to make the most of the time we have left. As I watch the living world restore and grow, I try to restore and grow spiritually with every passing day. Making way for the new!

As Always,

Love Tanya Jean

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What does the word hero mean to you?? What is your definition of a hero??

I believe it is someone that goes above and beyond to help those in need. I believe it can be an animal or a person. My thought is that this individual is a highly empathic and caring individual. It is one who recongnizes the needs of others and simply acts. They do not hesistate and offer help, even if sometimes, in doing so they put themselves in harms way.

Who are your heros?? Ever thought about it?

My list of heros is a long one! I would like to start with the doctors, nurses, paramedics and therapists who have worked tirelessly coming to my aid over the last five years. Both, in my time of need then and as my need continues. I believe it takes a special person to be in these types of professions. They work long hours which takes them away from the people they share a life with. Also, they often times put themselves and potentially their health at risk to make sure others are well cared for and looked after. Even the first responder volunteer firefighters from our community have come to aid, when I needed urgent medical attention. In addition to my need, our community has had to call on them a time or two and they always answer without hesitation. I am extremely grateful and respectful of the work they do! Thank you!

I felt and heard so much love and compassion in every decision that was made to help me get better. Whether it was to comfort me in the late night hours because I was restless and in pain. Or, wether it was carefully changing one of dressings or administering one of my medications, these empathic medical professionals put all they had into helping me recover from such a life changing event. Many thanks to them all for the patience they possess and the care they gave. Thank you for being there for me, my hard working medical heros!

Others that have been heros to me have included my Grandparents on my Mother’s side. When I was young those wonderful old souls saved me, both mentally and physically, more times than I care to mention. Whether it was a hug, smile, kind word or just a place to lay my head, I could always count on them to save me. The time I spent with them was so very precious to me and will never forget the memories of their encouraging acts of kindness. May they both rest in peace. I miss you both dearly! Thank you for being there my blessed heros!

I have to say that I have also had many animal friends that I would consider heros, as well. When I needed to be woken because of something that was putting me in danger, a dream or even the pipes bursting in the bathroom and water was gushing everywhere, they were there. Or when a stranger came walking up the driveway, I was alerted before an unwanted surprise ended up right at the door. When my mind ran rampid with horrible thoughts they were there to lift my spirits, before I did something I couldn’t take back. Or, when I just simply needed a reminder that I mattered to someone they were always there. These times have been plentiful in my life and I thank you for being there in my time of need, my animal friends and heros!

My community of friends have been my heros as well. They unknowingly sent me a message or popped over for a visit when I needed it the most. They all ralleyed and sent me such positive energy, hope, prayers, well wishes and gifts when I needed to be reminded that I had a community I needed to get back too, when I was fighting for my life in the hospital. I worked so very hard to get back to my community. I fought with all my might. Thank you so much for being the heros, friends and family I have chosen! Thank you for giving me that strength, in my time of weakness!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my husbands family for the love, and support they have given through out all of my challenging times over the years. Love you all!

Bet you thought I was done, eh? There is the Canadian Maritimer coming out in me. Lol.

Well, I have saved the best hero for the last. My husband, partner in crime, and the absolute best man I know is my biggest hero of all. He is the light of my life and the beat of my heart. I know, it sounds a little cheesy right? But so very true! DW, you have always supported me in all my crazy ways of being. You have sacrificed your own wants and needs to make sure I had what I needed and never once asked for anything in return. You listened endlessly, to my rants and my sorrows lovingly. I respect you, your beliefs and your guidance when I asked for it and even when I didn’t. Hell, you taught me how to be a better more understanding person. You saved me physically and mentally so many times, I am not sure I could even put a number to it. DW, you have always put me first and I know it is because you truly love me for the crazy ass I am. My gratitude and thanking you somehow just doesn’t seem to be enough for all that you have given me. You are my very best friend and my biggest hero of all! My wish is that you receive all that you hope for in life and more. Because, to me, of anyone I know, you deserve it the most. I am so thankful that fate and or destiny brought us together and my life has been complete because you are in it. As the old saying goes, ’til death do us part. Well that has happened twice for us already and we are still here. Still together. Regardless, my hope is that the final death do us part doesn’t happen for a very long time. Thanks to you, however, we have had more time together than we both thought we might. Oh sweet time, it is a true gift when you are with your true love. This being said, if our time is up tomorrow know that we will find each other again in the after life, as we have been doing for all of time. My love, my hero.

So, I hope I have provoked some thought and encouraged some expression of gratitude in all of your minds, about your heros. Speaking to all of you, thank you for reading my thoughts and supporting me throughout my journey. It is so very comforting and healing to know that I am not alone!

I hope that you too know that you are not alone!

As Always,

Love Tanya Jean

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Fiddlehead Challenge

My husband and I are very fortunate to live in an area where we can forage one of my favorite foods in the whole world, maritime fiddleheads. Fiddleheads can be a challenge to forage due to a number of factors. The hardest part for me is my mobility issues. This is due to my foot drop and balance, or lack there of at times. Lol. In the locations where this delicacy can typically be found, there is usually a real obstacle course of reeds, bushes, stumps, washed up debris or drift wood and often times very uneven and slippery sandy ground. This being said, I wear good hiking boots that come well up onto my calf muscles to keep my feet and ankles from twisting and they are always laced up tight, right to the top. This year was the first time in fives years, since my heart attack, that I was strong enough and felt able to go out and participate in the harvest.

Another factor that makes fiddlehead foraging a challenge, for me, is the black flies. They and the fiddleheads wake up at the same time! Black flies are hungry little blood sucking insects that absolutely love the taste of, well, Me! As soon as I step outside, it’s like ringing a dinner bell for them. They seem to be thickest in places like the ones we frequent when foraging by the water or in the thick brush. The great thing is their life cycle usually only lasts until the end of June. But, in the meantime, if one is to remain unscathed from the blood sucking wrath of these plentiful little creatures, one must strategize and outsmart them.

The best of the season for fiddlehead foraging, in our area, typically starts around Mother’s day and goes for approximately a month or so. Depending on how much sun and heat we have at that time. My husband and I decided that we would get up earlier than the black flies this year to get a few hours of picking in, in the wee hours of a very cool Friday morning, before they woke. By mid-morning, as they started to appear, looking for breakfast, we had managed to pick almost 30lbs of this delightful delicacy. Which will be very tasty during the long cold and dark months of our New Brunswick winter.

As soon as the sun started to warm the earth, they took flight and their breakfast was found. I think most of it came from my flesh. At that point, it didn’t take us long to pack up our treasures, secure them to our ATV’s and head for safer ground. It is so hard to believe that such a small little creature could wreak such havoc on ones blood supply leaving behind such swollen, nasty and itchy welts. Well at least that’s how it is for me. Lol. They are a force to be reckoned with for sure. I feel bad for some of the wild life at this time of year, but at least they have their tricks to drive and repel the little blood suckers away.

The black flies seem to be unaffected by most bug sprays and repellants. It is not that I like using them but sometimes it is your only defense. If you can find one that works. In addition, they are so small that they can crawl right through the mesh, into my bug jacket. At least I think that’s how they get in there? Smoke seems to be the best deterrent. If one was to build a small “smudge” fire the smoke will drive or keep them away. This can sometimes be difficult to do, however, depending on how dry the spring has been, as burning can sometimes be restricted at this time of year in order to help prevent early season forest fires.

Most of the places where we go to pick fiddleheads can be a challenge to get to. Some of the areas that we frequent can only be accessed on foot or with an ATV. There are a couple of fiddlehead patches that were closely guarded secrets that were passed down to us from our elders. I believe they chose to share this with us because they knew we would respect the land and the bounty it provides. Just pick the fiddleheads and do not disturb anything else. Leave everything just as you found it, they would say. When picking fiddleheads one must be very careful, as there can be many poisonous plants that also grow close by. It can be very unpleasant to get into a patch of poison ivy before you’ve realized it, if you’re not paying attention.

So as you see, fiddlehead foraging can be challenging. Picking the fiddleheads is just part of the equation. There is much to be done before you actually get to enjoy eating them. Once you’ve picked them there is a process to successfully cleaning the brown paper like substance that is entangled in the coil. Because they grow in such sandy areas, usually along river banks or bog like areas, there can be a lot of dirt and bacteria caught up in these tightly wound little greens. Washing them thoroughly is extremely important and one should not eat them raw.

Once the fiddleheads are cleaned and washed you must boil them, until they are tender, before eating them. It usually takes a good twenty minutes to cook them completely. Sometimes depending on how dirty they are, or where you pick them, you may have to change the water at least once before completely finishing the process. I now of some folks who like to preserve them using the canning method which allows them to be stored in the pantry, to be enjoyed at a later date. Personally, I have always blanched them, put them in bags and placed them in the freezer. I find that this method is the best way to preserve the freshness, great taste and the high amount of antioxidants they possess, for my taste. I also like this method because a sandwich bag full makes a perfect portion size for one meal for my husband and I.

In my opinion, along with that of many others I have conversed with on the topic, fiddleheads are a superfood that are an important part of meal planning. They are also a high fiber food, which, for some reason, is now more important to me than it used to be. Lol. I used to crave having a big heaping helping of fiddleheads when I was in the hospital, after my heart attack. I believe my body was trying to tell me I needed the healing properties that they could provide. A big bowl of fiddleheads was one of my very first meal requests, upon arriving home from the hospital. Thankfully we had some blanched and frozen and even though they were out of season, I was able to satisfy my craving.

In foraging them yourself, fiddleheads are a fair amount of work but well worth it, in my opinion. You simply cannot beat the flavor and freshness, especially when they’re topped with some butter and/or a touch of vinegar. My husband likes the vinegar but I prefer just butter and a dash of salt. Doesn’t really sound super heart healthy I know, but with all of the work that goes into getting them to my plate, I think the health benefits outweigh the small amount of topping. My cardiologist always says, anything in moderation…

I hope that if any of you who have never tried fiddleheads and are now inspired, or maybe get the opportunity to do so, you will try them and please let me know if you enjoyed them as much as I do!

Stay healthy 🥰

As Always,
Love Tanya Jean

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Breaking The Cycle

I have learned many lessons throughout my 54 years and most of them the hard way. I suppose I will always continue to learn. But it seems that now, I lean a little more towards the path of least resistance. Learning, to me, means investing in the growth of one’s self. I believe that if we stop learning and stretching ourselves, we go from truly living to simply existing, and in my opinion, that is not living. I think I read this somewhere in my travels and it just seemed to make sense to me. Are we not here but to challenge and school ourselves? Our purpose is but to grow, and a human can not grow as an individual, unless we keep learning. That was a mouthful, but I think you get the point.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned, the hard way, is that hope can kill or make you seriously ill.

What I mean by hope can kill, is that hoping people will change to suit your wants or needs will never happen, and in my experience, the stress of that hoping can eventually kill you. Stress can literally cause physical illness. Hoping can cause stress, therefore enough stress, caused by hoping, can in fact kill. Well, at least I think that’s what it did to me. Especially after discovering Dr. Gabor Mate and studying his beliefs and teachings. There is more certainty in my mind now than ever before.

Dr. Mate has written several books on his theories and approach to healing, which are backed up by decades of science and research. If we do not stay true to ourselves, in the way of our wants and needs, it will manifest into some sort of illness. He also believes and has fact based research that would prove that a fetus inside a woman’s body can feel her stress and it can and will affect the fetus not only in the womb but also once the child is born. As well as later on in life.

I do not doubt for one second that my parents loved me. For me, the problem was the kind or type of love they were capable of giving. They were both so damaged, in many ways. It was these facts and my experience of life that led to my conscious decision to break the cycle.

I knew, deep down inside, that there could and most likely would be a good chance that, if I did have children, they too would be affected by the ripple effect of this cycle of damage. After all, how could I raise children if I could not even get my own shit together. I was a people pleaser and could never say “no”. To anyone. Ever. I ignored my own needs because I did not want to say no or disappoint anyone, with their wants or needs. I believe that the accumulative effects and damage from doing this actually killed me. Well, for thirty-five minutes. The first time. So, how could I, in good conscience, pass that on to another human??

I always said that my husband and I would love and do our best to raise children, if it ever happened. We both decided, however, that it was okay if it never did. I think that we both felt that it was just one of those things that was not meant to be. Or, did we??

Because we never had children, we were able to live a life together that not many people get to experience. I am grateful and very happy that we have had the opportunity, to build this life together.

On the other side of the coin, it is too late for us now. There are times when I day dream and wonder what it would have been like to experience having a child with my husband. I think he would have made an amazing Dad.

Not long after I start to day dream, however, reality sets in and I remember. I remember that even if I had been the best Mom ever and my husband was the best Dad, somehow that ripple effect would find my child. I don’t think after everything I have been through, I could live with myself if I thought for one second that my child would suffer even one moment of the life experience I have been through. So for me, it was a blessing. It was probably the one choice I truly made for myself.

We, as people, need to accept reality and change our life situations, according to our wants and desires, for ourselves. It is not right to try to change other people to suit you or your situation, regardless of the capacity. They are who they are and you are who you are. I think that we need to accept that if those two do not mesh, it cannot be forced or coaxed or even tortured into submission. Sure a person can play a role, for awhile, but in the end that role can only be played for so long before the true nature of the situation is revealed. Just simply hoping and wishing things were different, without taking action toward your desired results, will most often lead to disappointment and maybe even illness.

So, in my experience, I have learned that I need to accept people for who and what they are. Now with that in mind, if for one reason or another, that does not mesh well with my wants and desires, or my views, or moral compass. I must move on and continue searching for the company of those who do mesh with same the views and values that I feel are important. As an example, I do my best to live with intent and purpose that is meaningful to the betterment of all living beings. I can accept that there are beings in this world, that do not feel the same way. However, I choose not to form a close relationship with them, as our views differ, and that is okay. I can only do my part in the betterment of the world and giving energy to hoping that others will follow suit only takes away from my capacity to give.

In theory, if one was to spread love, then love is what will come back to one. I have felt this but only in the setting of a few like minded individuals.

Some people give by making music and what better feeling than to listen to a piece that you can totally relate to. Some people like to volunteer to help those in need. Some people like to create art and share in the joy of a beautiful piece. Some people like to write and spread their words of encouragement. Some people help nature to flourish. Whatever it is that calls to you, do it. Love will come back to you from all the right beings and those who can appreciate it. Spread the love it will heal you in ways you never thought imaginable. You will be doing your part to help human kind to heal this broken world and yourself at the same time. We may all be broken in some way and could use the healing power of love and a little empathy.

I understand why I feel so connected to animals. There is no second guessing how they feel about you. Animals either like you or they do not. Animals make no apologies for who or what they are. They are strong in there convictions and tell it the way it is. Animals do not play games with peoples emotions. They will give love freely if, they feel your energy and intentions are pure. If not, they will make every effort to remove themselves from the situation, quietly. Unless, of course, you pose a threat to them, their young or their survival.

I guess, in many ways, I have given life. Maybe not to my own offspring but to the idea of spreading love and compassion. Especially to those in need of it and especially to my animal friends.

Breaking the cycle of unwanted patterns may be hard. But I think it can be well worth it. Especially when you succeed in the end.

To me, these are some valuable lessons and observations.

Please be kind…

Love As Always,

Tanya Jean

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My Grammy… My Angel

Another Mother’s day has come and gone without you here. I can not begin to express how much I miss you and the way you were with me. I even miss those dry old scratchy hands you used to rub my back in such a soothing way. I know that sounds weird but even though the skin of those hard working hands was rough, the touch was soft, soothing and loving. When I was sick or even just having a hard time to sleep I could count on those incredibly healing hands to mend all that was wrong. Not to mention the long talks we would have about anything and everything. There was never any judgement just a loving ear to bend and an encouraging word if needed.

Mother’s day has been very hard for me since you passed. I miss your laugh and the way you used to lovingly scold Grampy. I can still hear you saying, “oh Eddy”, with the tone of a grin on your face. I clearly remember the way you used to be so meticulous in the way you kneaded your bread or cut vegetables for pickling or super.

I can still smell, even though I lost my sense of smell years ago, your turkey dinners and bacon cooking for a special morning breakfast on the weekends. You always took such care in preparing your meals and put a little touch of love in with every stir of the spoon.

What I wouldn’t give to be sitting in the living room with you watching one of your favorite daytime soaps or a good nature show listening to the clicking of your knitting needles. Every stitch so precise without even watching what you were doing. The beautiful afghans you had knit me still keep me warm and remind me of you everyday. Even my animal friends can feel the love of every stitch as they always pick one of many to cuddle up on. Those beautiful warm pieces of your art work is all I have left to hold on to you now. They wrap around me like you are sending me a hug from the heavenly afterlife you now reside in. I cling to them like they are my life line on a difficult day remembering you and what you might have said to me with encouragement.

I know you were sent to me in this life because I needed a living angel. Perhaps that was part of the reason we share part of the same name. I am proud to have your name in mine. I can only hope to live up to it. You have big shoes to fill for a short woman. I would like to think that I have your kind but broken heart. Thank you for your loving guidance and reigning in reality for me. You taught me many life lessons, and yet somehow, I feel that I still have more to learn.

I understand why you had to go even though it shocked me at the time. One day you were here and the next day just a memory of a great woman. I know you would not have wanted to go any other way and so I can respect your wishes. Grief can temporarily blind ones perspective when it is such a quick passing at a young age. You worked tirelessly to make sure your family was well looked after. It was time for the big long sleep and for you to reunite with loved ones that had passed. I know how much you must have missed them because I am sure it compares to how much I miss you now.

Know that my life was whole because you were in it, even if it was not for as long as I had hoped for. I want to thank you for being you and loving me. I know we will meet again in the afterlife. Until then, I can feel your presence in what remains of the working part of my heart. Love and miss you dearly Grammy. Rest well my heavenly angel.

As Always,

Love Tanya Jean

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Dreams & Nightmares

For me, there are dreams in both my conscious awakened state and during my sleep state. There are times when all I can do is think about what is to come next. What will the next chapter of my life bring. I dream about how the rest of my life can and/or will play out. It all seems so uncertain and worrysome, at times. For every one of us, I’m sure, not just me. I guess maybe I tend to think about it more now, given my health conditions and life expectancy, as a result of those conditions.

I like to dream about pleasant outcomes and then, out of nowhere, there comes that demon on my shoulder frequently and rudely invading my ever so pleasant day dreams. I do my best to knock the little demon bastard off my shoulder and stay on the positive train to happy town.

I guess it is inevitable, things do not always go as I would like them to. But sometimes, it seems, luck is with me and things do turn out favourably. I have learned to ask the question, what is it that I need to learn from this unfortunate situation or unpleasant circumstance? I do my best to remember that there is a learning or teaching moment in every single instance of unpleasantness and misfortune. Using this approach seems to help to keep the train on the right set of tracks, so to speak.

I have lived and seen both my positive dreams and my nightmares become reality, in an awakened and conscious state. My goal is to try not to look back, too often, at the undesired situations and circumstances and focus on the miracles and great wonders that I have experienced. This helps to keep me focused on what is important, for me, going forward.

I find it easier to deal with the waking dreams and nightmares than the sleep state ones. It would seem to me that there is a lot less control and rationality in my sleep state dreaming.

I can make sense of what I am day dreaming about. But, in my sleep state, I have no control or influence in just how crazy and out of control things can and do become. The sleep state dreaming affects my every day waking life. My dreams and nightmares linger, sometimes for days, and have a stinging or burning like quality to them.

I have some sleep state dreams that are pleasant. When I wake from a pleasant dream, I try my best to fall back to sleep so I can continue with it. More times than not, this fails and I find myself sad and unable to truly focus the next day. It seemed to be real and I was happy. After I wake from these dreams I usually lay in bed, wide awake, and unable to sleep. Mostly because I am sad that this pleasant dream was not real and I once again woke to pain and disappointment. A good example of this, is when I dream that I am with my grandparents, who both passed many years ago, and I am getting to have one more visit with them. One more opportunity to listen to them tell a story or hear them laugh or have just one more hug from them. It is something to hold onto. Something that can comfort me until I meet them again in the afterlife.

One of the dreams I have been having a lot lately is of my father. He is in my dream and he starts to say and do all the things that I so desperately wanted him to do when he was still alive. His passing this past year on December 26th was unusually difficult because of our estranged relationship. In my dreams, he attempts to be the father I had always hoped for but then, before I know it, I am awake and left feeling sad, lonely and broken hearted. There were so many hurtful things said and done and promises broken that another full lifetime would not or could not make up for it. But I have to say that I think I could have accepted how things were a little easier, if he hadn’t got his one last dig in. A self written ulige, read aloud by another, to drive the knife in just a little further. My poor beat up heart. I thought I had accepted the truth, so why am I still dreaming about this? Obviously it is some unhealed trauma that I still need to do some work on. I have to work so hard every day, just to live and be well. I don’t want to have to work at forgetting him anymore. Just go! Please!!

If I dream of something pleasant or comical my following day is productive and I am unstoppable. A view of the world and the opportunities in front of me is crystal clear. A good example of one of my favorite dreams is when I’m dreaming of riding my 1998 Honda 300 ATV. I so love that bike and at one point in my life it seemed that I would never be able to get on it again, never mind actually driving it. Through a big mud hole, by myself! That makes me very happy and my good mood is unbreakable after dreaming about it and especially after physically doing it!

The nightmares are the worst. I have been plagued with them my whole life. It is amazing that I have not died in the midst of these horrible episodes. My heart races and upon waking I feel extremely sick almost to the point of throwing up.

I dream vividly of personal and violent attacks, that feel so real, I swear I can feel the knife actually cutting my flesh and warm blood running down my extremities, from the wounds. The wound that is the most vivid and painful in these dreams is that of being burned alive and feeling the flesh melting away from my body.

I have dreams of being stuck in a run away elevator and it is racing to the depths of hell. It feels like there is no gravity and I am floating. I can’t find anything to hold on to. Then I feel my body slamming to the floor as the elevator stops and I wake as I feel the immense pain from the crushing fall.

The nightmare that is most horrifying to me is the one where I wake up, again, in the hospital, in the same way that I did after my heart attack. The doctor comes to me and says that, for me now, this is as good as it gets that I have only hours left to live. The hard part is not being able to say my goodbyes because there is not a soul there to say good bye too. Even if I was able to talk or move, this time, I am completely alone.

I could go on about my nightmares but I am sure you’re starting to develop a gruesome picture. I do not ever fall back to sleep after these kinds of nightmares. I can’t bear to..

As I’m sure you can imagine, I do not sleep well very often. I am grateful, however, for those nights when I do get a good night’s rest. I think the key is to practice good sleep hygiene and use self love practices as much as possible.

If any of you experience these same or similar situations, please be kind to yourselves. Look into some form of help. There is a wealth of knowledge, guidance and positive re-inforcement at your fingertips. You just need to take the fist step and perservere. I will and you can too!

We are all worth it and yes we ARE enough, even if others do not see it.

I want to end this post on a positive fun note so please watch the video.

As Always,

Love Tanya Jean

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Tiny Home Living with Big Dreams

Spring has sprung and even though it has been a little cool in my neck of the woods, I have still been able to start some of my plants in our green house. It has only been a few days since I started my first batch of seeds and though it was only six degrees Celsius outside yesterday, things are going well. I am very pleased that I am already starting to see the green growth of new life slowly pushing its way toward the heat and warmth of the sun. Our green house, which is the most recent addition to our tiny home, also doubles as a wood shed in the colder months of winter. Which can sometimes last five to six months, here in the NB snow belt.

The size of our time home, which was built on a concrete slab, is a whopping 624 square feet. For those of you who are familiar with concept of tiny homes, you will also know that we utilize every possible inch of space. We designed and built our home ourselves with help from some family and friends, some 20 years ago. Which was before tiny homes were a thing and became as popular as they are today. For once, we were ahead of a trend. Lol.

Though we did not know it at the time, this style and layout for our home, would later become a blessing with an added bonus. You see, because our home is all on one level, I was able to be released from the hospital and return home much sooner than originally anticipated. The added bonus was that, because everything is only one level, I was able move throughout our home and maneuver with my walker much easier, as my mobility was extremely poor at best, when I returned.

Tiny home living requires a lot of innovation and is not for everyone, but it suits my husband and I just fine. For the most part, our home is easy to keep clean and organized. Well except for the floors, depending on the time of year. I like that they are small and easily cleaned or mopped up. This is mostly because, during the spring thaw or the fall rains, they require constant attention. You see, there is usually an endless trail of cat paw prints and the odd husband foot print to be dealt with. Especially since the addition of an outdoor run for our indoor cats. Most of these paw prints are extra big and extra muddy, and are proudly provided by Jam(the homepage featured feline), with all of her extra and very absorbent toes. As far as the husband foot prints, well, what are you going to do? Lol

Another bonus to our tiny home is that it is easy to heat and easy to keep cool, depending on the year. We can get some crazy weather fluctuations here in the Maritimes. Our greenhouse was designed and built by my husband and I and was strategically placed on the south facing gable end of our home. We felt that this would allow us to make use of as much of the sun’s energy as possible, all year long. We cut and peeled all of the logs for both the frame and those to be milled into boards, from our own woodlot. My husband has a chainsaw mill which we used to mill our larger logs into boards to be used for flooring, strapping, doors and such. We then ordered some translucent panels to be placed on the roof and sides, which finished it off nicely I think. It makes a great warm or should I say hot place to grow all kinds of plants.

Our peppers absolutely love the heat and last year was our best crop ever, thanks to this new addition. In fact, all of the plants I started in the green house last year did really well. With that, I have decided that I am going to try growing more varieties and try keeping more plants inside the green house during the growing season this year. This will cut down on the amount of time I need to spend weeding and allow more space for wild flowers and herbs. I just love all of the wild flower mixtures we have been cultivating over the last couple of years, in our outdoor gardens and would like to extend that beauty as well as the nutrients available for the bees and hummingbirds. Of all of the different varieties of things that like to grow here, the brown eyed Susie’s are my absolute favourite!

I love gardening and it sure would be nice to have more food production with less weeding. It is something I find quite draining on those hot and humid summer days. By using more of the greenhouse during the season I believe I will achieve my goal. Another bonus to this approach is that the wildlife, who seem to love to dig up and snack on the freshly sown seeds and transplants, will have a real challenge in getting into the greenhouse this year. Lol

In addition to my green house strategy, all of the other plants that I put outside this year will have a chicken wire fencing all the way around them. This way Waffles and Tiny, our two laying hens, will be free to roam and hunt for their favorite bugs and treats, as they choose.

I’ll keep you all posted on how my plants are doing. I’m looking forward to having more time for fun and spending less time weeding this year. Especially on our brutally hot days. The pictures featured in this post are of some of our ongoing projects.

I hope they will inspire you to get out and enjoy nature!

As Always,
Love Tanya Jean