Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I am of the opinion that it just might be the ultimate mission of our lives to discover and continually do the things that "light" us up. Now that term might be vague, but I suppose it could be explained as whatever brings a grin to your lips, whatever you really look forward to, whatever gives you energy to go out and do other good things, whatever inspires you, whatever kicks your ass and leaves you hungry for more. Ever since I finished college I've been on a quest to encounter such things as these, and to subsequently participate in as many of them as possible. I have mentioned some of my discoveries here like farming, like participating in intentional community, like activism... but there are others as well. And the whole point of this blog entry is to communicate to the world-wide-web that there was an abundance of light in my weekend.

On Friday and Saturday night, I stayed at home. Staying at home is a wonderful thing. I love it. I hadn't had a night at home in weeks, and I went to bed early, I watched the first season of Breaking Bad, I baked and baked and cooked, I caught-up with my family... it was such a joy to just be. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing is my favorite thing to do.

And cooking! I do, I love to cook, but I really love to cook when I have the time to plan out a menu, to gather my ingredients and prepare them with care and intention. During my past few busybusy weeks I've done very little cooking. I've mostly been mooching left-overs off of my parents' meals and buying carrots and apples and kombucha to supplement. But this weekend I planed and I baked 4 varieties of cookies, made hummus and baba ghannouj, braised cabbage, red russian kale salad, a great deal of tea... it was just what the doctor ordered. (Maybe not the cookies, actually... but the act of preparing them, you know.)

In previous posts I've mentioned the farm that I work on and the farm that I was hoping to start with the coffee shop where I also work. The coffee shop farm has not yet begun, and the farm where I currently work has had little need of my physical labor for the past couple of months, so my "farming" has mostly consisted of packaging squash blossoms, scrubbing the dirt off of melons and butternut squash, and making hundreds of bunches of mixed flowers for farmers market. Now this is all well and good, but it has also meant that I've had little connection to the earth or to growing things. I have felt the diminishing of my light. But I met a boy named Braden at the farmers market on Saturday and he invited me to come garden with him and his friends on Sunday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. And I went. And it blew my mind(!) I remembered how well a shovel fits into my hands, how much I love working in the dirt and how well suited my body is for physical labor. I filled wheel barrows with manure, I built berms, I moved river rock, I weeded... and I made some new friends. As of now I'm planning on renting a plot on the front lawn of this "growhouse," so that I can participate in the growth things, the feeding of people, and the rekindling of my light in this in-between time of life.

I also spoke Spanish on Friday and Saturday. Speaking Spanish never ceases to light me up these days.

There are other things that come to mind too, other things that give me "light" that I did not participate in this weekend. A few are: Going to the movies, Finishing a book, Making a Cappuccino, Sharing in Eucharist, Giving gifts, Singing, Going out to breakfast, Smiling at strangers, Learning, Making friendship bracelets... and so many more. So here's to more of these things! I may work 50 hour plus work weeks for little more than minimum wage, but at least I can say, "Hello, my name is Casey and as you can see, I'm beaming." My life is FULL! I am blessed to have discovered some of those things that make life worth living.

And I'd like to end with a question: What lights you up? (I'd love it if you posted a response!)


Sunday, October 31, 2010


I was warned before returning home by many whom I love and respect that I would need to guard my time. When one moves to a new place with the intention of getting involved, getting "busy," one inevitably forfeits a great deal of free time. Upon arrival I immediately dove into finding work, into attempting to make friends, into healing myself and growing in every way possible, and that has taken a toll. I am coming-up against a wall and am arriving at a place where I need a break. But there is no break in sight.

My work-week has slowly been increasing from 40 hours a week, to 45, and is now plateauing at somewhere between 50 and 55. Such work hours are completely manageable for many people, but so much time on the job(s) is becoming increasingly crippling for me. I spent most of last week either dreaming about sleep or being annoyed with someone or something. I couldn't stand my attitude, but could not find a way to change it. All I knew was that this was not my typical modus operandi. I am rarely upset, rarely spiteful or angry, yet after Tuesday of last week that was all I could feel. I found that I was missing my life in California, all of my friends, everything that I was involved in. I wanted the farm. I wanted my sisterfriends. I wanted Mountainside and Monrovia. I had completely forgotten why I had moved home.

It took a serendipitous run-in with an Episcopalian priest, Debbie Noonan, at a farmers market and a subsequent coffee date and conversation to remind me of what I am doing here and why I chose Phoenix. I am here to follow my vocation, to work hand and hand with a church and a community to bring people together through the growing of food. That is why I am here and that is what I want to do. I might have two jobs, but they are just jobs. They are not my work. I must have time for my work, especially if that work is not a part of my job. So I don't know how it will happen, but I need to choose a church community, to make connections, and to start following my vocation. I need to be growing things. Though I work on and with a farm, I rarely am involved in the process of growing and harvesting food. And I need to be involved in that process not only for myself, but for the benefit of those who are in my community. I can only be good for my community when I am involved in things which give me life. Growing food gives me life. It is something that must be done.

So if anyone reads this, I ask that you help hold me accountable. Please ask me if I have grown anything this week, or if I have attended church, or if I have been reading, or researching farming/growing methods. This busy job-ing way of life isn't sustainable for me, at least not without land, or food, or sharing the harvest. I want to be involved in Life again, but I must find the courage to stand-up for it. This community here deserves better of me, and I know that I owe more to myself.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

dance dance revolution

This post is straight and to the point. What I have to say is this:

Just dance already!

You know that you want to dance often: when you're listening to music in your car, when you're in a shop or restaurant and the latest Kanye song comes on the radio, when you're at a show, when anyone brings up Michael Jackson in conversation...

So just do it!

Tonight I attended the most joyful, movement-inspiring concert of my life. I mean, there were dancers on stage, the lead singer took a break from playing his many instruments for dancing interludes, there were moments of jumping. It was a full on dance celebration! And with the exception of 4 people during the second to last song, not a person dared to leave to leave his/her seat to "boogie to the beat of... America" (a direct quote).

Perhaps it's not my place to say any of this because I wasn't one of the 4 brave souls who took a stand, who rhythmically leapt out of their seats, who declared, "Yes! I am inspired to move and I will celebrate with you, Sufjan!" Oh how I wish that I had, and I honestly believe that I will from now on. Answering the call to dance would have been the only way that this evening could have been improved upon, so next time, I'm going for "best evening EVER." You too could have the best evening EVER. You just got get up off yo' ass, and dance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

growingbuilding a familycommunityhome

Today I went over to my boss's home to take a look at his backyard. We decided that on labor day weekend, we're going to bulldoze about a third of his third acre, and prepare it for food production. We are going to grow a garden, a garden that will feed us, and his family, and our co-workers, and the folks who pass through our little coffee kitchen. This is the first real step I have taken in trying to find a place here, a community. I'm going to actually start something in my hometown. I am not sure I've ever started anything here before.

It's exciting. There are so many possibilities. We are going to grow squash and herbs and beets and carrots and maybe some lettuces. We are going to locally source our compost. In the winter we're going to expand the garden and we're going to grow three varieties of kale (yes, you read correctly), and cauliflower and broccoli and more varieties of carrots and some brussel sprouts and spinach and lettuce and komatsuna and onions and garlic... oh, the list goes on and on. It's an experiment, like all gardens. And I'm particularly thrilled because this garden will integrate many parts of my life that have felt fractionated. I'll be growing food on property owned by my friend, who has invited me to participate in his church body, and that food will go to feed people at our place of work, the excess will go to friends and family and local food pantries, and I will be able to implement farming advice and techniques that I have learned and will continue to learn from Maya, my farmer friend and other "boss." Connectedness! It's all happening. Who would have thought that Arizona could be this place for me, a place where I could be grounded, where I could have a community and "belong?"

At this point, I cannot know whether or not this will be my home forever, but I cannot deny that Arizona is becoming my "place," for now. Roots are developing. It may be hot, almost unbearably so. The vast majority of the population may be raging conservatives. But there are glimmers of hope, these little communities that are increasing in numbers daily, that are forming a guerrilla movement of positive change. What a blessing it is to have found several of these communities already, and to feel invited to engage with them, to become a part of what they are doing and how they are living. It is still lonely here, but I feel that beginning to change. I am finding solace in afternoons spent in books, evenings with my family, occasional dates with old friends, and opportunities to make even more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

tuesday: harvest (with bad back), and packingpacking
wednesday: farmers market, csa harvest, thurs. farmers market harvest, and dinner with ched and elaine and friends
thursday: finish farmers market harvest, csa deliveries, farmers market, and packingpacking
friday: saturday farmers market harvest, weeding, organizing seeds and writing-up my "how-tos" of farm responsibilities, meet dad, dinner with soƱadores sin fronteras, and sleep (maybe)
saturday: loading for farmers market, packingpacking with dad, nonviolence training in the afternoon, ched and elaine party late afternoon, dinner with dad
sunday: packingpacking, saying bye to dad, brunch at madelaine's, cleaning the farm house, final abundant table service, eucharistic meal, sleep (definitely)
monday: youth groups, csa harvest, weeding, packing, farewell dinner with seth and anna
tuesday: youth groups, farm meeting, csa deliveries, farmers market harvest, weeding, farewell dinner with ched and elaine
wednesday: farmers market, thursday farmers market harvest, final packing, dinner with sisterfriends, and the end of working at join the farm!/abundant table farm project
thursday: packingpacking my car, farewells, ted and judy, morrises and debusscheres, and off.

just a week, just a little over a week.
so full.
feels like college graduation all over again.
feels like i want to avoid and run away and sleep and watch netflix instant viewing (and not read books because books are too real)
so soon back to arizona.