Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Unfold in a Generous Way"

     For all of the things in my life that no longer have a place, church is one I've never needed to forgive.  It was exactly what I needed it to be, exactly when I needed it.  It was a place where I could come together with a group of people who had hearts of a similar nature and thus feel like I belonged somewhere- like I had this loving extended family.  I was drawn to the idea of community and love and helping one another achieve the highest form of healing.  And I was not forced by my parents to go.  On the contrary, I was the one who invited my dad and he became a part of the same church as well.  And though transformed, it has become what I need once again.  I'm not talking about the church as a building and a routine that is involved, but simply the edification that comes from encounters and (for me personally anyway) conversations with what Anne of Green Gables would call "bosom friends."  And just as she did, I'm beginning to find that there are far more in the world than I thought possible.


(Yes, I did just finally watch Anne of Green Gables for the first time ever, and I LOVED every moment!  I feel we have much in common.)

     I've come upon a time in my life where my reflection on who I was and who I am is coming full circle.  I spent a large portion of my younger years grasping on to any inkling of positivity I could find in the known world and thus running away from all negative emotions as if they were some plague I didn't want to catch.  I've spent a lot of time over-analyzing  those negative emotions when they've surfaced, as if they were some sort of equation that if I could only solve I'd be rid of once and for all.  I have tried to completely remove myself from a path I've seen so many in my family follow, that I began to misunderstand just what those emotions were really for.

     I do believe that there was a time when that is exactly what I needed- to cling to the positive and reject the negative.  But as I've grown, if nothing more than into adulthood, the role of those things has changed.  I went through an adventure in awareness around 25 years of age, and it felt phenomenal!  I began to understand who this person was, swamped with all of this internal clutter and chaos.  I began to understand the roots of why, even.  I was starting to get somewhere, and it felt good!  

     But still, there was what I feel was a misunderstanding of those negative emotions.  In becoming so aware, I also couldn't help but become so very self-analytical.  Though I had begun to understand, my focus was still on solving the equation as if something were wrong with it.  I had come this far toward healing, but my internal voice was still set to attack me.

     Then came a time of decline in my spiritual high.  I had other things to focus on.  I sort of leveled out, and let go of those revelations to go on and deal with changes in my life such as motherhood.  As someone who has never been too good at juggling, those things just were not able to co-exist for a while.  It actually took a series of rather intermittent explosive conversations with my lovely loving spouse to allow a path to open back toward healing self exploration.

     I now know that when I first started avoiding all of that chaos inside, it was meant to be that way for a time.  It was a mechanism within me that saved me from proverbial drowning.  I also now know that, in the transition into dealing with it all, though understanding had begun to illuminate my life, I was still clinging hard to the fact that in order to NOT become what I had seen in life as "defective" I had to find a way to squash it.  I had to find a path that would lead me to a place where those feelings would no longer be a part of who I was becoming.  I now know that I was not entirely wrong, but maybe a little misguided.  Though more open-minded, I was still clinging to the way I had always thought it to be, AND I was still focused on the NOT.

     Most importantly, of all of these things, I NOW KNOW that I HAD to have those feelings surface in order to know what I needed to forgive.  I really did try very hard to figure out what made me have those negative feelings and why.  I still believe it was and is an important part of any healing self exploration.  I knew I felt anger toward my mother for not being a source of comfort to me- EVER.  I knew I felt anger at her expectation of me to be some sort of comfort to her having not given that to me.  I knew I felt guilt at being upset, knowing that most of her hurt toward me had come from a place of hurting herself.  But I also knew I did not want to feel these things.

     My daughter is almost 2.  Before she was born, I found myself naturally taking inventory of who I was and what kind of role model I would be to this life I would become wholly responsible for.  Becoming a mother really causes you to take measure of yourself in a way you never have before.  It also causes you to re-prioritize; and re-prioritization is not always easy to accommodate when riding the coattails of guilt and self doubt.

     Only after Flora was born did I start to realize I didn't just feel sorry for my mother, but I truly was very angry with her.  I became accepting of these emotions, but still didn't like having them.  I still felt an obligation to try to be there for her and take care of her on what levels I was capable, but it conflicted with my feelings to put my daughter first.  It was as if my mother, too, was a child I had been trying to care for, and I no longer had the resources within me to do this job for both of them.  So, in my frustration, I let myself fully feel that anger toward my mother.  I gave in totally to self-pity as well.

     Then, after about a year of that (coming to the very recent past half year or so) I kept having these encounters that were pushing me to think more about my own personal truth.  I started to find myself again looking for that path toward healing.  A lot of the motivation came from the fact that I do not want Flora to pick up some of my more negative traits.  I consider those things: lack of organizational skills, lack of self-confidence, lack of internal peace, lack of decision-making skills,  lack, lack lack lack..... (you see where I'm going with this).

     This time, the path inward was taken at quite a hard angle.  I went so far inward that I was truly alone; so much so that my husband was feeling left out of our relationship.  I never meant to leave him out, but that is sometimes what happens when we become too self-centered; even if we are seemingly doing it for our own good (and what we think to be the good of others).  I wanted so badly to fix it ALL: how I was feeling, how he was feeling, how I didn't functioned with normal tasks on a daily basis (especially since all of these things are now in front of a very impressionable 1 1/2 year-old angel).  I had tried so hard to make myself the bearer of all the bad that I got stranded, and left someone very important to me in the same predicament.

     Then came the (so far) final explosion.  Thanks be to the ALL for pairing me with such an incredible partner.  This explosion was the catalyst that all of this transformation had been leading up to til this point.  I think we both felt lighter afterward, and I suddenly was able to not only gain a new perspective, but apply it!  It truly is easier said than done sometimes.  Sometimes you can know all of the right things to think and feel, and why, but the final step- the applying- is so hard to figure out.

     And while what few readers there are out there are wondering if I strayed from the path of my intent for this blog, I am now coming full circle.  I needed to truly know forgiveness within myself to be able to apply the healing mindset I knew I could have.  See, I learned a long time ago (coming around to that church thing, guys :D ) HOW to ask for forgiveness.  But I have only recently learned how to ACCEPT that forgiveness.

     So I've forgiven what I thought was wrong against me.  A lot of that has only come about because I now realize that in thinking it was wrong done to me I was actually feeling sorry for myself.  I have also forgiven myself for victimizing myself through those feelings.  I even took a day to experiment in not complaining out loud- AT ALL.  Talk about a life changer!

     This more peaceful path toward higher healing exploration started for me almost 2 weeks ago, and already I have had days that were trying; already I've had days where I failed the tests of my character.  But you know what?  I don't beat myself up over it any more.  I see it for what it is- and that is my soul's chosen path.  If something is suddenly out of my control, well being in control is really just an illusion anyway, right?  So why get so upset?  Maybe it's not going my way because that is not the way it was meant.  I finally understand what it is to "let go and let God"- as the saying goes.  

     And while I could wonder why I ever spent so much time worrying about it, I am now more than willing to just accept that it was the way it was meant to be to get me to this point.  May I never stray from this path! 

     I am currently very excited about what the future holds, and I in no way expect to always be on the smooth path (as I did before).  My husband and I feel stronger as a team than ever before (or at least in my book- I'll have to ask him what he thinks ;D ).  I can actually see my dreams coming true- and not just because I'm forcing myself to!

     I don't know when I'll feel the urge to sit and write like this again; it seems to come in spurts.  However, whoever in the universe comes across this, I hope it touches some kindred part of your soul that is traveling the path of this earth with me and all other living beings.  Please, also, feel free to share stories of your path whether you know me or not.  Bosom friends need only meet once to have an edifying effect on one another.  Thank you for existing :D



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Is Your Kid a Bad Kid......Or Are You Just a Self-Involved Parent?

     Yes, that's right.  I said it.  You may be a self involved parent.  You may not even realize it.  Does that make you a bad person?  No.  But I have a few things I want to say about it.

      I am writing this today because I think I just need a place and a way to talk about these things without feeling there would be some sort of personal confrontation over it.  It is something that is close to my heart as an issue.  I am a very emotional person- I just really feel things very deeply sometimes- so I always approach the way I look at things from that perspective (I just can't help it, you guys).  I can look at my life now, and look at my life as a child, and see from where some of my defectiveness internal conflict may have stemmed; so I suppose I feel more sensitive to that in others now that I am aware of it.

     This inner dialogue started today after a conversation I had with a parent and her boyfriend here at work.  Let me see if I can get the point across without writing a book (though I can't promise anything-haha!):  The woman comes in and is asking if I know of any programs that might help her daughter enjoy reading.  Apparently said daughter is in 4th grade and may end up failing.  At first I thought this was just about her daughter's reading skills, but the more the mother complained talked, the more I began to read into the situation.

     According to mom, this child "can do the work but is just lazy,"  likes to just "mess with her," will perform better for others (because when she's with mom she just wants mom to do the work for her), and hates to read.  According to the boyfriend, "she likes white people better"...... (I'm only throwing this in so you can hopefully grasp the ignorance.)

     The fact that she is still talking to me, and venting in this way, I can't help but to react to the situation as if she was asking me for help.  So I started putting my feelers out, asking questions like: "Do you think she's been made to feel inferior at school or in her learning environment?"  I never really got much of an answer, mostly just more complaining about the child.

     I do want to interject and say: I get it.  Sometimes a child plus all of the regular daily responsibilities of being an adult can be overwhelming.  Sometimes you just need to talk to someone and it doesn't even matter if they are listening- you just gotta blurt that garbage out.  Kudos!  It's way better to get it out and not lash it out at your child.  Sometimes I think parents really are just overwhelmed and they don't know what to do to control it, so it gets directed at the child.  I think this was a case of the latter.

     I based this mostly on the fact of mom's freely given info about herself- "I'm old school and I just ain't gonna put up with it.  I'll knock her out and she knows I'll knock her out.  I just don't have the patience when she starts doing that."- I ask, "Do you think she just needs more patience?"  Mom is kinda huffy, but not at me so much as her exasperation with the child.  Apparently having patience is not in mom's bag of tricks.

     I tell mom, "I'm not judging you, I just know that even though my sister and I were raised by the same parent- our mom wasn't around, our dad raised us- that we still had different ways of dealing with things.  I always sort of rolled with things, but, around the same age as your daughter, she started making bad grades and getting into trouble.  I didn't realize until I was in my 20s that my sister was not a bad kid, she just needed a different kind of attention than I did."

     Then, later, when she comes in with her daughter I get to see the interaction.  I don't think people always realize how much they tell on themselves with just simple words and gestures.  I see her talking down to her daughter; I see her literally smack her for asking to check out a book????  (Wasn't she WANTING her to get better at reading?)  Then I see, when I pull her away and ask her what she likes and I start showing her books that she might be interested in, she perks up.  She is VERY interested in what I'm showing her.  I almost see an excitement in her eyes.

     So, I give you this short story length situation just to come to this: every person is different.  Don't be so self involved that you can't see that your child may need something different than you did when you were raised.  "I'm just old school" is no longer a valid excuse for not being an emotionally supportive parent.  Also, when you say you have a bad kid (are you ready for this?  I'm gonna say it....)  YOU ARE TELLING ON YOURSELF.  You are telling whoever you are complaining to that you are too self involved to recognize the needs of your child/children.
   
     Whether 2 or 20, if someone is "acting out," there is something deeper and conflicting going on within them.  We may not be able to reach out and heal the whole world, but  I feel like it is our job as parents to be in tune to our child enough to recognize their individual needs.  I am not saying that a parent should never have "me time" or should be infinitely patient (I certainly know I'm not....).  I'm not saying you should be chastised if you want someone to watch your kid to have a night out, or if you want them to be quiet long enough to finish watching your favorite show.  I'm not saying you should be an emotional martyr.  I am saying that instead of approaching your child from the view of what is most convenient for you, you should approach them with the question "What is it that he/she needs from me?"

     You don't have to be a bad parent to not meet your child's emotional needs.  Sometimes I really do think it is just trial and error.  We can't always get it right on the money the first, second, or even third time; what we can do is stop and analyze the situation from the view point of the child.
 
    I mean, when we chose to have children, didn't we also acknowledge that our lives would no longer be totally in our control anymore?  Didn't we also step up to the plate to raise responsible and (hopefully) stable human beings?  I am not saying that we need to win the perfect parent award (does that even exist?).  I just would like more parents to be aware, and think, that if their child is getting out of control, maybe they should take a different approach instead of just trying to remedy the fact that it is inconvenient to them.

   
It just completely breaks my heart to see a child looking to the only anchor they have  (the parent) and to not see that parent doing what they can to secure that child's emotional vulnerabilities.  Like I said, I may just be more sensitive to it (and I am around a lot of parent/child interactions where I work so I may just see more of it), but it makes me hurt for a child when I see that.  Physical needs like food and shelter are not enough.  Every person, especially in childhood, should not just survive, but thrive.

So let's all try to be more sensitive to our children's needs.  Let's all take a step back and breathe when they throw that fit for the hundredth time while you're trying to finish supper and vacuuming at the same time, or when they hit puberty and all of a sudden you feel like the enemy.  Just because they are no longer an infant does not mean they know exactly how to communicate- or heck, even understand- their needs and emotions (I'm 30 and sometimes I STILL don't....)  So let's not take it personal and just ask ourselves "What does my child need from me?"

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Big Smiles Happy Moment

     I just wanted to share one of those over-the-top-smiled-so-big-made-my-face-hurt-happy moments.  Last night our Little Lady had two firsts that filled me with such joy that it has burst over and carried into today.


     I just love the mimicking stage.  It is so cute to watch them learn and grow and grapple with new words, actions, and even concepts.  So, unavoidably, Flora has really been getting into being helpful around the garden.

Let me tell you, she watered the heck out of those wheat grass seeds.

What kid doesn't love water play?

     So, anyhoo, this is what she did: 1) She put on her little rain boots all by herself (seriously guys, I didn't even notice she was doing it....).  Then she went and climbed up to the dining room table (NOT a first) and grabbed a packet of newly purchased seeds (purchased from here ), walked to the door and 2) said "Plant seeds!"

     We definitely have a little nature baby.  Hopefully she will grow to be a nature kid, and thus a nature person.  Our fingers are crossed!



Friday, April 17, 2015

A Brief Interlude

     So I've been away for quite some time now.  I could use excuses like: 1) I moved; and 2) I only recently reestablished internet at home.  However, it is probably better to just admit that I am a terribly inconsistent person.  I won't even cut my hair because I'm afraid I'll freak out when I get in the mood to do an up-do (but dang is it tempting sometimes......).

     A lot has happened in these last seven months: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, my mother-in-law moving in and putting her house up for sale, my mother-in-law moving back into her house and NOT having to sell it, found a site called Vinted, met a king snake on my stairs, Easter, ***SPRING SPRING SPRING*** and some plant sales, met a salamander...


     My wonderful husband has done so much work transforming our new yard into a yarden.

  (With only minimal help from Tuut)<3 i="">


He started back in the fall with the Fukuoka-style hugulkulture beds and has made a lot of progress this spring.  He has even started a little greenhouse out of some donated windows.


     We also got a membership with the Arbor Day Foundation and received some trees in the mail.  So our sustainable food forest and mini farm IS in the works you guys!

     Also, at about age 25 I went through an awakening of personal awareness and it was beautiful and wonderful and all things great,  I feel like I might be going through a second stage.  It is a little tougher this time, however, as I am aware of so much still, but feel like I have less control of it all.  I do think that a lot of things I've been dealing with internally for so long now are starting to surface, and though it is difficult, the growth from it all will be amazing.  I say all of that to say this:  this blog may become a small source of therapy for me.  So prepare for some things to get really real-haha!  I'm sure the transformation of both my home and of me and my family will be beautiful. :3

Well, until next time, happy spring everybody!!!! 


     

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Place Is So Lovely, It Kind of Makes Me Very Happy

     Today I went for a really nice stroll with my little lady love.  It felt so nice out.  There was a slight chill in the air even though the sun was shining bright.  The rout we took had lots of shade.  I couldn't help but revel in the feeling of an approaching Fall (*excitement*excitement*excitement*)

     I was paying particular attention to the types of plants and trees that were growing all around me as a study toward understanding the woodland that we'll be converting into food forest.  I've often felt a sense of wonder looking into any densely wooded or overgrown portion of land, but after watching this Geoff Lawton video on establishing food forests it peaked my interest a little more than usual.  Funny, how an idea can be a part of your make up, but suddenly something very simplistic brings its truth to the surface and the resulting feeling is almost like having an epiphany.

     At some point I stepped off of the road over to an area grown up with "weeds" and picked some fuzzy-looking purple flowers.  Tuut (it's a nickname we gave her-short for "tandertuut" which is just a funny way of saying tater tot....) really loved that I was being adventurous, giving me a sweet giggle and a huge smile.  So I let her hold the beautiful purple wild flowers for the duration of our trip.


     As we continued to walk, we turned a corner where stood a house with one large tree and one stump in the lawn.  My eye was particularly drawn to the stump, like it was something exotic, or maybe a place where something interesting could happen.  I realized that, to me, it was the only thing of interest in this yard.  Then, the way I felt looking at that stump-full of potentially interesting things and processes- surrounded by this oh-so-boring yard.... it immediately made me think of how I feel when I think of my childhood.  Then something just clicked for me.

     For the last four years, I've been learning more and more about nature, plants, growing things, becoming sustainable.  I've known for a while now that I've always loved the idea of living in a forest.  I used to actually joke that I must have been a fairy in a former life because I was so drawn to nature.  At some point walking down this current path it became apparent to me that if I couldn't get myself into a forest, I'd bring one to me. 

     So the idea of sustainability is very appealing to me because there is a sense of freedom that I believe must come along with it-monetarily if nothing else.  Then the idea of creating a forest that incorporates those principles is doubly so because it is the embodiment of an adventure every single day, a peaceful escape, on top of a means of becoming sustainable.

     About the time I started realizing that I wanted all of this I was also starting to understand more about my own most innermost workings.  I started to understand not only myself, but others.  The mistakes we make and why we make them; our sometimes somewhat skewed sense of pursuing happiness.  I started pulling things that had been buried down deep from childhood up to the surface. 

     Now, I don't want anyone thinking that I was the victim to anything particularly awful, but we all have had experiences at certain stages of development that set the mold for the person we will become.  Sometimes those experiences are traumatic, though.  And for something to be traumatic, it doesn't even have to be something extremely terrible; it just has to have a certain negative effect on our outlook of life at that particular time.  Some of these things we may not even remember.  I won't get into the long list of details on things that may or may not have effected me here, but suffice it to say I had to see and roll with some stuff as a child that I now realize I wouldn't want my own child to ever witness or deal with.  I spent most of my life thinking that I was ok with it, that it was normal to deal with these things and to be ok with them because they just happened.  To be honest, for a while I might have even been a little bit proud that I thought of myself as someone who could just adapt and move on.  And maybe I am.  But as I've come to know myself better and better over the years, I see some draw backs even to that.

     I say all of that to say this: thoughts of my childhood leave a sort of stale taste in the mouth of my memories.  I feel things like limitation and boredom; feelings like there was life to be lived that wasn't.  I was never deprived of the most basic needs; I had food, clothing, people who loved and cared for me, not much but some extra money to get to buy toys and go do things from time to time.  But I think I was missing out on childhood adventure.  I think even then the calling of nature was in my blood, willing me to explore it and find that adventure, but I had no clue it existed or even how to find it.  There were never any interesting spots of wilderness around me growing up.  I had one granddad that had a garden, but it was more so off limits to me than something I could have learned from.  

     So most of my time was spent watching movies and, as I got older, reading A LOT of fantasy novels. Eventually I began finding adventure in themed clothing: one day I was Gothic, the next punk, the next prairie, the next kawaii, and so on and on and on.  I became fatally attracted to cuteness and the supernatural.  I even went through a stage where I had the overwhelming sense of needing to buy everything that I found visually attractive ( I had a bit more money to blow and fewer priorities then....).  I realize now, the feeling I get when looking at a dense copse of trees or the harmonious rambling of a meadow, is the feeling I was always looking for in all of that.  And to some point it was fulfilled, but not without spending money time after time.  Because the feeling was always short-lived it never quite satisfied.

     And even today, as interested as I am in this idea, I feel like I should be RUNNING toward it, not just slowly ambling down the path.  But old habits die hard.  I still find myself torn sometimes-between the freedom and peacefulness that comes with living a simpler life and that surge of satisfaction that comes with buying some new decoration or article of fashion.  I'm not saying I should beat myself up about it, but sometimes I get frustrated with the fact that I spend my money on what isn't needed instead of just diving deeper into the marvelous adventure of nature.  I feel like I should be pursuing a peace that will last the test of time, instead of that instantaneous ziiing!

     I've been on my one month temporary lay-off this September we're in right now, and to be honest, it has been much much easier to focus on what really matters.  I think I tend to get overwhelmed with how much goes on around me when I get out and start mingling with the rest of the civilized world.  And considering I'm still very much draw to a good story, working at a library I continue adding books to my ever expanding list that must be read before I die-haha!  So in fewer words, I get side-tracked (to the point of overwhelming) easily by pretty, neat, and interesting things and ideas.  So I suppose I believe living a simpler life will also ease a lot of mental anxiety I put on myself.

     As I said starting out with this blog, part of my writing it is to find others, hopefully some in my area here in Etowah County or thereabouts, to have this sort of conversation with.  The more the merrier :D  I want to surround myself with people who love being plant nerds :)  I want to talk to people who enjoy watching things grow.  I want to share my awe over the many functions of plants most people consider obnoxious with someone other than just my husband and myself.  Don't get me wrong, I try.  But no one around me (on a regular basis anyway), other than my dear loving husband, truly gets enjoyment out of the conversation.  I'm usually just talking to hear myself talk when it comes to these sorts of things-haha!

     Well, at this point I'm just rambling.  I just had that nice little experience of on my walk today, and it prodded me into sharing much more of myself than I have previously.  For those who read this far, kudos to you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Black Locust: Poetic Goddess

                                              (Robinia pseudoacacia)

     As far as I can tell, these are very very important trees when establishing a food forest.  They definitely attract me with their flowers alone.  I'm like some small hummingbird wanting to take purchase in its drupes. Something about a cluster of flowers that hangs like that (*relaxing siiiigh*).  I also hear they are quite fragrant, which fits right into my "surrounded-by-super-fragrant-EVERYTHING" fantasy.
     Another thing that really intrigues me is that they are said to be very good wood for building things.  They are even legendary in this regard and are said to last 10 years longer than stone! In reality, the cut wood can last up to 500 years even in very wet conditions-much, much longer in dry.  The reason this is attractive to me is because I will hold on to my fantasy of "living-in-an-awesome-little-hobbit-hole-home-that-no-one-can-find" until I DIE!  Haha! (Those of you who have read my link to the WOFATI article will already understand.)
     And just for those of you who wonder where I may have picked up such an *inspirational* idea-the very specific "no-one-can-find" article of this fantasy-is from a Permies podcast where Paul was talking about someone actually evading government fining by telling them if they could find the home on his property, then they could fine him for it.  And guess what?!  They couldn't find it!  So I thought that was pretty amazing.
     So it's pretty, fragrant, and useful for woodworking.  That's great and all, but you may be wondering of what benefit it is to establishing a food forest.  Well, it turns out this beauty is also a nitrogen fixer.  On top of that, it is an expeditious grower-I'm thinking this can put it in the coppice category.  I'm continuing to look up all things Black Locust currently and will share the links I've found below; but if anyone has any of these on their property (especially if in or near Etowah County here in Alabama) and would like to share some information, stories of experience, or tips, please feel free to share.  Please and Thanks! :D

Black Locust-Plant of the Week

All Things Black Locust Forum @ Permies.com (bet you didn't realize I was being literal about that)

Black Locust-this one is chock full of info

All About Growing Youe Own Firewood

BEAUTIFUL!

Black Locust Permies Video

Plant Finder-Black Locust




Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Adventure Begins....In My Head....

     So now that we have this wonderful property, and we have this wonderful established woodland, I can't stop thinking about all the possibilities.  We plan to transform it somewhat in order to make it work for us food-wise.  However, it is very daunting to think about how to get in there and transform it little by little.  I mean, I've fantasized about this day, but now that there is so much room to work with, and so much to learn-experience to be had- it feels a little overwhelming.
     Where should I start?  What should I lop down?  What should I leave?  Identifying everything will be an adventure unto itself-haha!  And we can't really start that until winter because I think it would be too dangerous to do that while it is still warm.  We've already run into a yellow jacket nest in the middle of the front/side yard; and wasp nests abound around the house and shed.  Someone said they saw part of a snake skin in the shed as well....

(Picture of the ^shed^ between the Pecans.  This image is one they had up when they listed the property.  From this angle you can see the pasture off to the side.  This is facing the southeastern side of the property out back.)
     
     I don't just have to think about the kind of food I want to grow; I have to think about what would be good long term chop and drop fertilizer.  I have to think about the height and growth rate of different kinds of trees.  I have to sort of think about a changing landscape that I'll have to plant and maintain as I go.
     And jumping back to the yellow jackets, wasps nests, and potential snakes- this property both amazes and terrifies me-haha!  No one has lived in this house for at least a year and a half and there was a plethora of old rat poison and poop in the lower cabinets.  I love nature.  I want to coexist as equals with it.  I want it to teach me all of its secrets.  But right now the property seems so dangerous with all of its hidden hazards. 
     I want to make this a place where I can be surrounded by nature, but not be afraid of it.  I wonder, does anyone reading this have any advice on or experience with the conversion of the woodland into food forest?  Or any suggestions on how I can clean everything out and feel safe with minimal hazard to my person minus poisoning everything just to start fresh.
     What I'm most interested in is if someone has advice or suggestions that lives in or near my area, or an area that is similar.  This is Northeast Alabama-zone 8a or 8b or straddling the line thereabouts.  And also any knowledge of the types of plants I might find therein.  Any input or conversation is welcome.  
     I also posted something very similar to this on the Permies forum right here.  Feel free to hop over and see what kind of conversation we're having there as well.