Purple Rain


A few days ago, a dear friend of mine shared a thoughtful post on the death of Prince.   His name is Aaron Conrad and he is a very talented writer…he has a gift to capture meaning and as I encourage my children daily ‘to use his words’.  His post resonated deeply with many of the Generation X’rs on Facebook – the kids of the 80’s – the last generation of children that grew up before helmets, sunscreen, DEET free bug spray, organic food, year round sports, technology, and my goodness the absolute fear of everything that has been mainlined into our culture today.

Some people call this a generation gap,  but I think it is bigger.  Never in the history of the world (ok maybe that is a bit dramatic – lets just say in the recent centuries) have we gone under such a huge shift in how we live than with the advent of computers and handheld devices.  We are still adjusting and by “WE” I mean us.  I don’t know if we will ever truly catch up to their life and I would imagine it will take our culture a few decades as well.  The kids of this generation know no different and that sometimes saddens me.  I feel like my husband and I are hanging on by our fingernails to maintain & preserve many of the ideas we cherished from our childhood…many of the memories I believe our kids will never experience.

Aaron was reflecting how the death of Prince was not only mourning a piece of death of our childhood, but also an invitation to think about our past.  Prince, in our day, was considered so ‘raunchy’ or ‘racey’ (along with Madonna) – which by todays standards,  were tame. Do you remember when George Michael’s “I want your Sex?” came out??    Whatever your musical preference was/is, these artists define or become the soundtrack for most of our high school and young adult years.  I bet we could each create a master mix tape of each decade of our lives – right?   Speaking of mix tapes, do any of you remember having your cassette tape in your boom box with the record and pause button pushed down and just waiting for the radio to play your favorite songs to ‘catch it’?

I can not hear any song off of the Purple Rain CASSETTE and not trigger a memory! Seriously, I can not remember where I parked my car this morning, but I could probably tell you in order the songs on the Purple Rain cassette side A & B!   I can still recall driving in Jenny Waye’s little red car screaming “Little Red Chevette” when Prince came on the radio (I know not on Purple Rain album).   My goodness, remembering belting out the anthem “Purple Rain”…these songs take us back…to a more simple time when we were allowed to have freedom.  We were the last generation that were allowed and expected to play outside, all day.  We came in when the street lights came on.  We were not monitored to death and had freedom to explore and most importantly, I remember, having TIME to be kids…tons of it…kids don’t seem to have time these days and many already mimick  our hectic adult lives, too.  I know it wasn’t perfect, I have scars internally and externally to prove it – but, as my friend Terry said, it was just such a ‘simple’ time and sometimes I miss it.

The other day, my family was watching an episode of The Goldbergs (a sitcom based on the 80’s) and in one scene the middle son hops on his banana seat bike and takes off down the street with his friends at dusk — no helmet, knee/elbow pads or phone and one friend riding on the handlebars!  Our girls collectively yelled, “MAN! You all were lucky!  That looks so fun!” And, you know what?  I totally agree.


My friend Aaron and I 1980something – high school – note Aaron’s INXS shirt..he snuck out of school to buy me tickets to this concert which he was not allowed to go to and had a t-shirt to prove it!

Edible Landscapes


Botanical Gardens at UNC. Butterflies – the ultimate testimony to transformation.


Eventually,  I will be writing more about the process and how our family decided to modify a property in Raleigh, NC and as a family multigenerational live together in what we affectionately call, ‘Lakeshore Farms’.   We also, jokingly call it ‘The Compound’.  My mother-in-law hates the term, but for some reason, it has stuck with our family & friends. We are three generations of family living together on a 1 acre lakeside property.  After about two years of discussion and thought, all three of our families decided that we no longer wished to maintain our independent homes any longer and combine our resources to reduce waste, consumption, save time & money (all three households will be mortgage free in 5 years!), build & strengthen our personal relationships and be proactive in how to best partner parents as they approach their twilight years. We even built a tiny house on the property as well!


The Spring Pollen arrives… our kids leave us messages on our patio furniture.  darling, right? lol.


We moved into our home less than a year ago – June 2015.  One of my favorite things to experience when you move into a new home, is just observing, watching, discovering your yard the first time during a new season. The seasons, nature, so rhythmically can resonate or call to our deepest internal landscape.   To observe what flowers, plants, trees bloom and grow throughout the year; to enjoy your own personal national geographic, and watch what animals reside in your habitat and how and when they visit.  We have fox, deer, fish, dragonflies, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, so many birds, fish and more.  To watch & pay attention how the sunlight & moonlight, in the different seasons, dance on the property and infuse your home…observing how the different weather patterns interact with your home.  To become familiar with the sounds of your new neighborhood & yard.


The photos below are of the Lakeshore Orchard – peach, pear, apple & persimmon trees budding.

Spring, I have am discovering, is nothing short of magical at the Compound.  Just as we cycle out of the quiet, internal, cold, reflective time of winter our yards and souls are awakening, budding and bursting with color for a new season.  It is a time for action, reawaking, beauty, planting of seeds and new ways of being, getting outside, more light…Watching trees and flowers and insects/animals that have been dormant all winter ‘wake up’ or begin budding with their young healthy buds and leaves naturally lifts our spirits and, like the big trees,  allow us to bloom and sprout new growth, too.  I am sitting here visioning myself standing tall like a tree with small bright green buds emerging from my hands and arms and a beautiful array of flowers sprouting from my head!

The photos below are the Lakeshore Poolside blueberry, raspberry, strawberry & tomato plants for snacking.

In deep contrast to my previous chemically maintained manicured lawn (which I loved for different reasons) I have completely fallen in love and am smitten with our natural landscape and what we call an ‘edible landscape’.   While we do have a few flower pots around the pool and decks & a wildflower hill,  the majority of our yard is edible! Last night, we were outside at dusk and, oh my, we found a small family of baby bunnies living under part of our deck and they were sneaking out and enjoying some edible landscape, too!  So precious.   I never thought I would ever live like this, but it totally rocks!  No matter where you live, an apartment with a small window or out in the country, an edible landscape can provide such a natural beauty and healthy edible produce year round.

Pictured below:  horseradish, grapes and more images of poolside Berry Hill.

Any time we talk about adding anything to our property – we have created a Lakeshore HOA – where we meet and discuss any changes, issues or ideas as a group, we always try to only plant things that are not only attractive, but edible.  There is nothing better than watching the girls swimming in the pool, jumping out, picking some blueberries, raspberries (I never knew there was a ‘p’ in raspberries, weird) or tomatoes and canon balling back in the water.  Best snacks, ever!  Maybe consider adding at least one edible item to your yard, deck,  or balcony this year.

In one of the groups I am a member of, the Homeschool Alliance, we were challenged to go out in to our yard and try to identify every tree/shrub/plant.  If you feel inspired, I would say grab your iPhone or electronic device, get outside and have fun discovering your yard…see what you can find!   Post some pictures!  I would love to see what you discover – photography of the Spring and clouds are some of my favorite images.  Post your images at my Facebook page ‘rockonliving’ for us all to enjoy.

This is also a great time to visit your local botanical garden.  Or, if you will be going on vacation, google and check out if your destination has any gardens at your holiday destination.  Happy Spring!  I hope this is an awesome time of personal growth and activity too!  Cheers to you!


Next project…planting the garden…




Poetry Tea Time


“Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories.  It’s about sharing.  It’s about honesty.  It’s about identity.”  Louise Fresco

Poetry Tea Time is a family tradition we have been enjoying in our home this year. Some of you know that I homeschool my girls and I use the Bravewriter Lifestyle as a blueprint or song book for not only my school, but our life (I will be creating an entire page/section dedicated to the Bravewriter Lifestyle).

While Bravewriter philosophy centers primarily around homeschool families, it is completely applicable to every family desiring more connection to one another.  And, ‘family’ being whomever we embrace into our intimate circle of life – it could be good friends, grandchildren, neighbors, etc.  While we  primarily began using it as a means to add some enchantment to our literature education (Poetry  Tea Time Tuesdays!), Poetry Teatime has started to take a life on of its own!  Like a tree, it is starting to take roots and spread into other aspects of our life too.


For Easter, each girl received their own 2 cup teapot with ‘tealight’ warmers.

We just had our first ‘family’ Poetry Tea Time this week.  My husband’s Aunt was visiting from New York and after spending the day at the art museum, we ended with a Poetry Tea Time at our home.  When I first suggested I would pass a poem around the table and everyone could take turns reading a stanza, I could sense some reluctance – this quickly passed and by the end, everyone was actually excitedly anticipating their turn to read.  I sat there witnessing three generations of woman sitting around the table, ages 6-70, sharing tea & treats, reading Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and others.  There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a 6 year old reading poetry! IMG_2306


Poetry Tea time is a  magical way for a parent, grandparent, or good friends to add a moment of intimacy and connection.  I enjoy using my mother’s ‘good china’ – real tea cups & saucers; sometimes I have the girl’s pick flowers from the yard; we use pretty table clothes.  I started simple and Poetry-Tea time is organically growing.  You can think outside traditional tea times and use hot chocolate, lemonade, do it outside, do it at night with only candles lit, enjoy baking treats with the children in anticipation of Tea-time, build a fort/tent and go inside and read, surprise them one morning before school…Nothing will grab the attention of little people as a dark house, candles lit with treats and poems…children love treats!

How you do it doesn’t really matter, it is why…the desire to be able to hit the life ‘pause’ button to be present, turn off the technology, look at each other face-to-face and at low cost – connect.  Go for it!  Today!  Go set a pretty table, put a blanket in your yard, pour some tea or lemonade, buy or make a little treat, download, check out from the library or dust off a poetry book from your shelf and let the magic happen…


Aunt Nancy & the Girls – creating memories & connections.



Here are a few tips:

  1.  Plan ahead.  Pick a day for your Teatime and gather your supplies.
  2.  Select a few poems to share.
  3. Let the kids enjoy themselves, let them spill tea, put three spoons of sugar in their cups, let them talk in British accents…have fun.

For more ideas and images of Julie Bogarts Bravewriter Lifestyle – Poetry Teatime culture visit her beautiful,  recently (this week) launched Poetry Teatime Website http://www.poetryteatime.com.

I would LOVE to see images of your Teatimes!  Visit my Facebook Page ‘rockonliving’ and please share!!  🙂