On the Marblemount Homestead blog, Corina Sahlin has been teaching and inspiring people to live more wholesome, healthy, simpler lives. Marblemount Homestead is a beautiful place in the North Cascade mountains, and the Sahlin family's homestead and sanctuary in the wilderness.
When you have three children, like us, it might be easy to forget about the relationship with your spouse. You're so focused on raising these kids and keep them more or less alive that your offspring becomes the number one priority.
Many couples forget about nurturing the bond with each other.
When our kids were really little, I often freaked out because it felt like Steve and I were only roommates, co-existing merely to organize playdates, figure out who will take the trash out, or who has to deal with the babies when they scream in the middle of the night.
During our 16 years of raising kids so far, we figured out that we better make our relationship a priority as well. We are lucky to have Steve's parents: they LIVE for their grandkids and are eager to take care of them for a week while Steve and I go away. (Thank you, Donna and John!!!!!)
So last week, Steve and I went to Sedona, Arizona, where we biked, hiked, ate our hearts out, and re-connected as a couple.
Have you ever been to Sedona, the land of red rocks and energy vortexes? We were here before twice when we took road trips as a family.
I's a special place for outdoor enthusiasts, especially when you're used to lush Pacific Northwest landscapes. In Arizona, there are desert plants and animals, different rocks and soil, and amazing sunshine.
Except as soon as Steve and I got there, a winter storm moved through. We spent our first day hiking in the rain, which was incredibly awesome, because nobody was on the trail.
I'm still feeling pretty high from our trip.
It's hard to describe the beauty with words, so I'm just going to let the pictures talk for themselves.
Sigh... You know what I mean? Gorgeous, right?
We got to visit with our friends from Flagstaff as well, so that was an incredible treat.
And the great thing about travelling is coming home, realizing how much you miss your kids, and then getting re-absorbed into the whirlwind of family life again.
The kids had a wonderful time with their grandparents.
Let me show you some pictures of the time before we left: Thanksgiving with Donna and John, knitting with Gramma, and our family dressed up for our friend's Sweet 16 party.
How was your Thanksgiving?
Also, I'd love to hear from you what you do to keep your relationship with your significant other alive and well. Go ahead and share in the comments!
Exhale with me, will ya? I got some good news, and two other breathe-worthy reports on the horizon.
First things first. Many of you have been sending me your love, energy, prayers and light. It worked, people!
I saw the cardiologist on Wednesday to follow up on my diagnosis of Bigeminy (irregular heartbeat), and she said it's nothing dangerous, just a nuisance. A nuisance!!!
My heart is fine, and whatever I've been doing to regulate my heartbeat has worked. (Stress reduction, supplements like Coenzyme Q10, Hawthorne, Lemon Balm and Nettle tea, Gaba).
Also, I gave up all chocolate, coffee and alcohol. I'm the most boring wholesome person on the planet. Kill me now. No, seriously, I'm happy that I'm fine.
What a wakeup call! I have realized that I'm not 20 years old any more, and that I need to let go of some things. The goats went first, and although I miss them, I feel freer, less stressed about having to deal with all the milk.
Steve and I have been talking more about what directions to take with Marblemount Homestead. I'll tell you more about that in the following weeks.
Now the other news. You know how our homeschooled kids went to public school one and a half years ago? It's a small country school in a rural setting, with lots of teachers and administrators who care, but also a place with severe problems.
Many kids don't have mothers at all. There are lots of drugs, too much trauma and abuse. There's not enough money for the resources these kids need, and many kids are out of control and act out in the classroom.
It's heartbreaking for the kids, and it's incredibly tough for the teachers. I've heard reports of out-of-control classrooms, kids jumping on their desks, throwing shoes, disrespecting the adults.
My son Luke is in a middle school class that's especially wild. He is doing well socially and academically, but he's bored and annoyed. There are no AP classes. He's tired of wasting time at school in an environment that's so crazy-making.
So we will homeschool him again. He will still spend time with friends and play sports at school, but we're taking over the academics, so he can learn properly. He won't have to ride the school bus for three hours a day, leave the house at dark and return at dark.
He'll be able to focus on school work, and then build mountain bike trails and play music for the rest of the day.
I have so much respect for the teachers at our little school. Many of them care tremendously. We received emails from Luke's teachers and other leaders at the school, imploring us to re-consider pulling our son out of school. But Luke's mind is made up.
So starting in the middle of January, I'll have a kid at home again.
Kai will continue the semester, and then do "Running Start" at the community college.
Eva will continue as well. She's doing great in the elementary school. Our superintendent cares about the kids and programs, and he's implementing a lot of great things, which hopefully will make things better for the kids further down the line.
Another huge shift in our lives is my new job. Yes, a job! I'll work from home as a professional programs specialist for Feminine Power, the organization where I received my coaching and leadership training.
I will make my own hours while empowering, coaching and sponsoring women to step up their leadership. Because I tell ya, this world needs us women to uplevel.
Cool, right? I'm excited and feel honored that I was handpicked for this job by some of the women I admire most in this world!
So there you have it. Lots of news, lots of movement, lots of change.
Let me finish this post with pictures of the past couple of weeks.
~~ A visit to Bellingham:
~~~ First frost and last harvest:
~~~ Record rain fall (we had 3.75 inches in one single day!!!), but also some gorgeous sunny days, and walks with friends:
Alive with Possibility ~ Corina interviews Julia Schneider - YouTube
Here is a heartfelt interview about a very unique and super effective way to learn about why you might be struggling in life. It has to do with attachment styles. In this interview with Corina Sahlin (that's me!) and Julia Schneider, you will learn how four very different attachment styles influence your life, how they have created pain, and how you can heal that.
If you want to go deeper, Julia Schneider offers a program where you can learn this and more: - How to hear, understand and deeply trust your intuition. - How to manifest the kind of a life that you truly desire. - How to effectively overcome and transform self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviour patterns. - How to cultivate and sustain healthy lifestyle habits that will support you in truly thriving and flourishing in every area of your life. - How to cultivate and sustain incredible and life-changing relationships with the people in your life. - How to work in your Zone of Genius effortlessly and on a consistent basis. - How to evoke and effectively utilize your authentic feminine power. - How to generate the kind of support that you need in order to powerfully co-create your destiny. - So much more!
When we bought our land 16 years ago, we knew we wanted an orchard. So after clearing land, we planted a bunch of little trees: apples, cherries, pears, plums...
You have to be patient with an orchard - it takes a while to establish. But we have been reaping the benefits of our fruit tree labor for a while now.
Case in point: this year alone, we pressed cider on three different occasions, with hundreds of pounds of apples from our place.
Some of this is getting made into hard cider, lots of it is frozen for juice.
This is a job for a few people at a time: some are picking apples, some are washing them, and some feed the apples into the chute.
Then the cut-up pieces are being transferred into the pressing chamber, and the handle gets cranked.
And then comes the tasting, where people elbow each other out of the way to stick a cup under the steady stream of fragrant cider flowing forth, exclaiming how good it tastes.
Also, enough containers need to be rounded up for fitting all this golden liquid. After filling them all to the brim, there's cleanup.
As it often happens in our wilderness neighborhood on a weekend, people tend to stop by to visit, and of course, they get pulled into the cider making operation, much to the delight of all the little ones.
Come along and see what happens on a day like this!
Picking apples, and getting the ones on the ground before the bear and deer eat them
Feeding the apples into the cutting chute
It helps to have willing and enthusiastic helpers
Putting the cut-up apples into the pressing container
Ha! Suckers! You thought you would stop by for a chill visit? Well, so much for leisure and relaxing!
The kids love to eat this foam. Better than ice cream.
Filling the containers
Besides harvesting all the fruit from our orchard, we also got all the food out of the garden. Pumpkins, squashes, gone-to-seed lettuce for the chickens, the rest of the cucumbers...
Now all that's left is Swiss Chard, Kale, and Collards greens, plus lots of carrots and beets in the ground.
Last week, I put the garden to bed. I really like covering the soil to protect all the lovely soil organisms and micro critters in there, so I either sow green manure or spread straw. (Not hay, since it has weeds.)
Now that the weather has shifted to almost-frost, rain and storms, the time for hibernation has begun.
Hibernating for me means plenty of knitting and spinning.
I've been on a sock-knitting kick, since it's moderately mindless and relaxing, and oh-so-necessary in a house full of active people who need socks. All. The. Time.
Last week I went to the Northwest Fiber Fusion event and bought a gorgeous batt of wool that made my heart rate speed up when I saw it. I'm spinning it into yarn for a hat and fingerless mittens. I think they will be gorgeous.
Now it's your turn. Leave me a comment in the comment section below and tell me what hibernating looks like for you.
So you gals and guys are blowing my mind. I can't tell you how touched I am about the overwhelming response to my recent health scare post. I received so many wonderful, positive messages, helpful advice, and even a sincere offer to pay for some of my tests!
Honestly, y'all are just too nice, and you are making my heart happy. And that's what we want: my heart to be happy.
I'm going to see a cardiologist in the middle of November to track my strange irregular heartbeat issue. I still think it's anxiety and stress.
I've been de-stressing, slowing down, knitting a lot, enjoying the heck out of my family and friends, and making nettle and lemon balm tea, plus a tea called "Happy Heart" from Mountain Rose Herbs.
I'm also taking Hawthorne and Coenzyme Q 10. Let's see if I can love my heart back to a normal heart beat with all these lifestyle and nutritional changes, shall we?
Another wonderful therapy that's good for my heart is spending time with my family and friends, preferably in a beautiful natural spot. A couple of week ago, my honey and I drove over the pass to the East side to hike Goat Peak, with a fire lookout on top.
On the drive up to the trailhead, we met not a goat, but a cow.
Last week, two of my dear girlfriends and I hiked to another beautiful spot called Peek-a-boo Lake, off the Mountain Loop Highway.
These are friends I've known for a long time. We've seen each other through a lot, including attending our kids' births, supporting each other through sicknesses, and attending each others' weddings.
Part of my getting-healthy-scheme is making time for friends. It feels so nourishing and supportive, so life-sustaining and important.
We hiked, chatted, gorged ourselves with wild blueberries that were already half frozen on the hillsides, sunned ourselves at the fairy tale lake, and enjoyed the solitude (except the solitary fisherman who seemed very taken aback by three chattering girls and even more pissed off when my dog ate his lunch. It's true. I felt terrible about it).
Ahhhh, my friends, autumn is fully underway. Mushrooms are popping up everywhere, foliage is gorgeous, temperatures are dropping, the garden is fully harvested, cider is being pressed...
But since this post is already too long, I'll have to show it all to you another time.
For now, I'll leave you with images of fall...
Hope you are doing well, and thanks for being such an awesome reader and supporter of yours truly. Truly, it means a lot.
These past two weeks have been some of the scariest of my life. Usually, I take my health for granted, because I am super energetic and robust. But when I went for a routine checkup, my doctor hit me with three concerns that made me dizzy and scared.
Two of them have been resolved, and it's fine.
But the third one has been heart stopping. Literally.
When the doctor listened to my heart, she told me that she really wants me to see a cardiologist. ME??? Healthy, vibrant, athletic ME? I thought I would faint right there when she told me my heart has a very concerning rhythm.
I've been feeling my chest thump in funny ways for months, but I've been to busy, distracted, or in denial the whole time.
Long story short, after an EKG and echocardiogram, the authorities established that I have a condition called Bigeminy, which causes my heart to beat irregularly. They want me to do a five-day test where I wear a “Zio patch” that monitors my heart activity the whole time, but my insurance doesn't cover it, so I'm still waiting to hear what the next step is.
Here's what I believe: I have put myself under so much non-stop stress, that my heart is doing this thing. I think that if (or when) I slow down, relax, de-stress and do less, my heart will in time find its normal rhythm. At least that's what I hope, and from my research, this is what can happen.
So I sold my goats.
Having raised goats for 15 years, milking them, making cheese, and basically playing with baby goats as my mental health therapy, these animals have been a part of my identity for a long time. You can imagine how sad I am. But it's nice to not have to go out to the barn every day, deal with the milk, cleanup and responsibility.
It's heartbreaking. Pun intended.
So that's where I'm at right now.
Keeping my head in the right place, knowing that I AM healthy.
Knowing that I have to slow down.
I've been working so relentlessly for so many years, and the thing is: I love everything I do! But with raising three kids, having a varied homestead where we grow a lot of our food, preserving and dealing with all the bounty, teaching retreats, and being a life coach for women, marketing and promoting ... it gets to be too much.
This summer alone I've done more stuff than when I was 20 years old. And I'm now 46, so age is another factor.
This summer, I canned many gallons of food: applesauce, pickled beets and dilly beans, chicken, peaches, nectarines, jam, tomato sauce ...
I hate seeing food go to waste, so I want to deal with it all.
And then there's the harvesting, wildcrafting, cooking, baking, medicine making...
And the chickens and egg collecting and cleaning out their droppings...
I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about all the chores. Like I said, I LOVE what I do. I love it!!!
But I need to start thinking about my priorities. What is most important to me? What can I let go of?
One of the stressful things about this summer was the smoke from the wildfires. Finding time to be outside doing what we love was a challenge.
So whenever there was no smoke and we had the day off, we hopped on bikes, boats or on our feet and enjoyed our beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.
Mountain biking to Cutthroat Lake, searching for lost hiker Sam Sayers at Vesper Peak, paddling on the Skagit River, going to the Methow Valley...
These activities all restore my soul. And I realize this is all active stuff, which creates a different kind of stress on the body.
I guess I'll have to buy me some yarn so I can sit and knit, yes?
Another thing that happened this year was the guys' fishing trip to Alaska. My husband Steve took our two boys fishing in Cordova on Prince Williams Sound.
They brought back 200 pounds of fish, which will feed us for the rest of the year.
The boys had to miss a few days of school, which was fine with them!
They came home happy, tired and filled with stories. One of them (and it's not a fishing tale, I guarantee you!) was about a Grizzly bear that got too close for comfort, walked towards them and caused my guys to flee, leaving behind their backpacks and gear.
When they came back the next morning, the Grizzly had eaten all the fish my boys caught and left on the stringer.
I'll leave you with these words:
~ Don't worry about me. I feel in my heart that I'm absolutely fine.
~ If I get any comments like "How dare you sell off your goats! You are cruel!", I swear I will delete and block that person.
~ As part of shifting my priorities, I want to invite you to join my Patreon site. On this site, I create content that's interesting, inspirational and educational to you (movies about homesteading, recipes, tutorials). It means that you can pay as little as $1 or as much as $20 a month to support my writing, movie making and all the time I put into offering you content.
I am totally in denial, which is hard to do because I'm typing this wearing a wool sweater, snuggled under a fleece blanket. I am going to have to face the facts, namely that it is fall.
When I went through August's summer photos to put them on the blog, I realized how little I shared with you from our most glorious, productive month because we were insanely busy.
So that's why I want to share the pictures with you now. I look at the images of us swimming in creeks, rivers, and the ocean, while currently shivering under my fleece blanket, and I marvel at how much time we spent by the water in this droughty, hot month.
But don't be fooled. We didn't just play by the water all summer long.
Oh no! One of the reasons I'm feeling fried is because we packed so much food preserving in. I have to do a separate post about it, but for now, here are some highlights.
~ Harvesting potatoes with my crew
~ Gathering apples and pressing them into apple cider
~ Collecting eggs from our chickens
~ Picking figs and making them into fig jam
~ Harvesting tons of vegetables from the garden and cooking, pickling and canning them
We also slaughtered our 20 meat chickens. Our kids have to help with this task every year.
I can't tell you how much social media interaction I got on the photo of Kai dipping a dead chicken in the hot water.
Most people were pretty positive about it, but there were some folks that freaked out and told me I was cruel for making my kids help with killing chickens.
To this I say: we don't run a petting zoo around here. We raise some animals for meat, and my kids know that they will end up as such. ("They" being the chickens. Not the kids).
Since my children eat, they have to help. They don't mind at all. In fact, Luke takes pride in telling people at our homesteading and wilderness retreats in great detail how to pull out guts from a dead, still warm chicken.
We are homesteaders. We get dirty. We get bloody. We grow and raise our food, and our kids know that chickens don't come from the supermarket neatly wrapped in plastic. There's blood and guts involved, yo!
I will leave you with some fun images in case you are traumatized by dead chicken pictures.
The one below is Luke and me on a mountain bike ride. He's dragging me up and down some vicious hills and teaches me mountain bike slang, like "Shred the gnar, dude."
I'm trying to shred, people, I really am.
This one was a particularly lovely sunset. Or it might have been a sunrise.
And lastly, some of our plums. There's more to come.