The New Year is already well into our rear-view mirror, but I feel like I'm just getting a grip on all the ways I want to challenge myself this year and expand that little bubble of comfort that can become so safe, so familiar, and...well, so boring. Yawn. Here are three specific ways I am attempting to stretch myself and grow my skill set and understanding in the months ahead:
I am reading through the Bible, start to finish. I am 50 years old and have been in the church since my embryonic days, and I have never read God's Word in its entirety. This is the year. I am accomplishing this goal with some fabulous support, and I absolutely love and recommend this resource! Thank you to my friend, Shelly, for introducing it to me. It's called The Bible Recap and is hosted daily by a woman named Tara-Leigh Cobble. Since January 1, I've read all of Genesis and Job, and I'm now in Exodus - learning something new every day while appreciating and understanding God's Word and loving Him more and more as the weeks pass. I'm hooked for sure and have no plans (and not even a temptation) to slow down or stop. I haven't missed a day! The Bible Recap is a wonderful complement to another resource I discovered last year - The BEMA Podcast. Check them both out - the Bible and its timeless truths will come alive in ways you can't imagine, and you won't regret a single second of the time invested. His Word is living and active and so very relevant!
I am learning how to mill my own organic grains. My wonderful husband blessed me with a grain mill for Christmas, and last week my first shipment of organic grains (about 6 different kinds) arrived at a delivery site just down the road from my home, thanks to Azure Standard. Today I made my very first loaf of wheat bread with such simple ingredients - freshly milled wheat, olive oil, salt, honey, water, and yeast. The smell in my kitchen was divine, and my family couldn't stop commenting on how good it tasted. There was something truly sacred about the process. This was a really important step in my own health journey...undoing some of the faulty (or at least incomplete) dogma I've been stubbornly wedded to for almost a decade. I no longer believe grains are inherently bad; however, what we've done to them with our modern practices has stripped them of their nutrients and made them deleterious to our health. So I'm kicking it back old school and grinding untainted grains in the comfort of my own kitchen. In the days to come, I hope to create whole grain muffins, buckwheat pancakes, cornbread, cinnamon-raisin bread, and maybe even homemade pasta and... GASP - donuts! Hard to believe these thoughts are coming out of my head after so many years of avoiding anything resembling a grain-based product. Sadly I don't think I personally will be able to enjoy anything made from wheat, but that doesn't mean my family and friends can't, and I remain hopeful that I will uncover new information one day that might make wheat an option for me again. I encourage you to check out this video (it's a long one so plan to listen in chunks) to learn more about the history of grains, they ways they've been unjustly maligned, and how they can be part of a nutritious whole foods diet. I learned so much! Thanks to my friend and colleague, Mary, for encouraging me down this path.
I am intentionally pulling away from social media and writing a bi-monthly newsletter instead. In fact, just yesterday I hit SEND on my first edition, and wow, did it feel great! Facebook has been such an efficient and easy tool to reach a lot of people at the click of the button, but I really want to pour my best efforts into people who are eager to learn and willing to make that small commitment of subscribing and reading with intention. If you missed the announcements on social media but would like to subscribe, just shoot me a message with your email address. For now I'm planning to publish the first and third Saturdays of every month, with maybe a bonus edition every now and then. Each one will contain at least one Taft-tested recipe, announcements for upcoming local events and learning opportunities, and a specific health challenge for my readers. I can't remember a time when I did not enjoy purposeful writing, and my hope is that this new endeavor better prepares me to write a book one day soon. It's definitely on my Bucket List, and I believe GO TIME is drawing near. Got a book topic or title for me? Send it my way please, because that's the part of the process that has me stumped.
There are quite a few other goals I'm aiming for this year - most of them are home and garden related. A few years ago, I printed this list of old fashioned skills from The Prairie Homestead, and today I rediscovered it taped inside one of my kitchen cabinets. What a satisfying moment as I skimmed the list and noticed that I have indeed been learning a lot of new skills in addition to all my usual daily tasks. But there are many more I want to attempt, and I feel like 2024 is going to be a year of firsts. Why don't you join me? We can share our successes as well as our flops. IT'S ALL GOOD, because change is good and growth is good!