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You Best Be Living

Eagle lake 1-2

At my parents' house. (Taken early in the spring before the dock went in the water.)


Quite a few of you have asked how my father is doing, and given that I can’t seem to keep up with responding individually, I thought I’d share an update directly from him, in the form of a few sentences taken from a note he sent out to family and friends yesterday:


...the doctor informed us that this was not good, that I was not responding to treatment and again announced this was not good. Sue asked how much time I had and he said it was hard to tell. Sue asked again and he said maybe weeks. Weeks can be 2 or 52, I really don't know. I do know I feel fine.

(A section about specific lab results that I omitted.)

Please understand that I feel fine and still function, at least at a lower level. I water my plants every day and mow my lawn. I save the weed whacking for Jim and Dawn (dad’s brother and my sister); I want to make sure everyone has a good time. We had a lot of rain last week and the lake rose so I had water completely around the dock. I went to the dock with the Ranger, hooked up to it, and pulled it to dry land so I wouldn't have to make a running long jump to get on the dock. I then retied the boat as the lines were a little long.Yesterday I decided to go to a brook to fish, this brook is across the street from my house, about 4 miles in the woods. I got into the Ranger and off I went. When I got to the brook it was running pretty high and fast but there were areas I felt I could fish comfortably. I got out of the Ranger and started to put my 3wt fly rod together (I keep this rod in the Ranger all the time), immediately every fly in Aroostook County descended on me. I said no problem, I went to the glove box of the Ranger to get my bug spray that I keep there but no spray. At that point the flies from Aroostook County called in their cousins from New Brunswick so I did what any brave American Veteran would do, I waved the White Flag and got the hell out of there. 

Not able to fish, I came home and removed the window tint from my truck (too dark for the State of Maine). Today we will be taking the boat out and enjoying the lake.  

Dawn just came downstairs and let me know that it starts getting daylight here around 3:30 in the morning. I said, “isn't it great.”


This from a guy whose nurses thought that he would not make it through the weekend, three weeks ago. To be clear, my father would be the first to admit he is a stubborn pain in the ass who can be as ornery as the next Yankee, but not once in my life have I heard the man complain. Never has he wanted for more. He shows up, puts in his best work, and accepts that which is beyond his control. He might not like it, but he accepts it. Even more remarkable to me, he has known plenty of tragedy and strife and would be justified in feeling pissed off about things, but that’s not his way.  He’s always been a one foot in front of the other kind of guy, and it seems that will be his way until the end. Thank you for asking about him, and for your thoughts and prayers of comfort and peace.

Aunt ruth's party

Before I go, I’d like to share one more photo. This was taken a few weeks ago at Aunt Ruth’s 90th birthday party (one week after his nurses thought he'd leave this earthly plane). That’s my dad to her right, also in the photo are all of dad’s (living) siblings. We had just been up the weekend before, so could not make the ten hour trek back for this party, but I was glad to see dad felt up to venturing across the lake to celebrate our family’s matriarch. Never have I imagined a tiara would land on Aunt Ruth’s adorable head, but there you go. To think, just last fall she had a successful moose hunt, and on this day, it was all tiaras and libations, commemorating ninety trips around the sun. Both she and dad have taught us many things through their quiet ways. For me, one of the most important lessons being: If you’re still living, then you best be Living. 

Summer Soul Camp :: Online Retreat

Summer soul large graphic

 Begins July 17, 2017

~ Two Weeks ~


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Think of Summer Soul Camp as the place where old fashioned living meets our modern day desire to slow down and enjoy life's simple moments. Summer Soul Camp is a self-paced, two week online retreat - a place to celebrate the light and warmth that summertime brings. A place to savor the sunshine, linger into the evening, welcome creativity, and allow time for stillness and spontaneity. Every summer has a story, perhaps this retreat is a chapter in yours.

If you've enjoyed Hibernate, you'll find this workshop to be the perfect summertime compliment. Summer is fleeting, always gone too soon - gathering for two blissful weeks feels like the perfect length of time. 

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Each weekday of our retreat, content will be delivered through our private class website in the form of beautifully designed mini ebooks. In addition, there will be an interactive community to share ideas and experiences, if you choose. This workshop finds community both on our website, and in a private Facebook group. Each are optional.

You will pick and choose the projects, prompts, recipes and inspiration that speak to you, there is no need to do every little thing offered. Simply being with us in a way that fulfills you, is perfect.

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A peek inside Summer Soul Camp

  • we'll start things off by setting up "camp"
  • then we'll dig deep and create our own summer vision walls/boards
  • herbal healing: we'll make two of my favorite salves, one for general healing and one for itchy skin
  • we'll brew and blend nourishing summer elixirs: this will be set up as a beautiful ebook that you'll have permission to print and share as hostess gifts all summer long
  • establish your summer on the go basket: I'll be taking you inside mine, and helping you create your own
  • next we'll learn to make wild and purifying smudge sticks, and we'll discuss the many variations of plant materials that can be used as well as the why and how of smudging
  • settling in now, we'll develop a meditative mandala practice with items found in nature
  • you will find a step by step tutorial to make your own version of my newest bag design (photo below)
  • tasty recipes including a full "Concert on the Green" (or evening by the lake) summer menu
  • all of this and more will be peppered with seasonal essays, plus photography and writing prompts

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Summer Soul Camp is filled with ideas to help you connect deeply to the beauty of the season. A place where it feels perfectly normal, encouraged even, to linger under a shade tree, sipping lemonade and shelling peas all afternoon. While I love to fill my workshops with plenty of projects and ideas so you receive a wonderful value, I also hope you understand that these offerings can last a summer or longer. In our ten day camp, you may feel inspired to try only one or two of the projects and that is perfectly fine. After all, there needs to be plenty of time for staring at the sky in search of the perfect cloud unicorn.


If you'd like to include this as part of your summer story, please join us.

I'd love to attend camp with you!

Summer soul graphic small

Begins July 17, 2017

~ Two Weeks ~


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Bring a Friend: If you register noon (EST) on Thursday, June 22nd, you may invite a friend at no charge. Many people like to buddy up with someone and share the cost of the workshop (you'll need to set that up on your own as I am not able to split invoices). Please follow these simple instructions:

  1. One person registers. 
  2. Once registered, email me your guest's/friend's full name and email address by 6/27 to heatherbrug@gmail.com 
  3. I will add them to the roster and they will receive a brief welcome letter from me on 6/29. 

Summer soul blog 2

Beneath First Light


In the early morning I head to the garden and walk the rows. Here, mud finds its way into my coffee and sun onto my skin, some days before I've even spoken a word. I have this theory that if I tend 2-3 rows per day, I can stay on top of things. Like most theories, it works beautifully when actually implemented, but I tend to bounce between here and Vermont so some weeks it falls apart. Still, it’s a great practice to return to again and again. Reliable. The season is moving along and we continue to plant, but we’re always planting so that’s never really done until November when the garlic goes in. Rain’s held off for a week or so which means those tender starts and seeds need assistance. Our watering system is nothing more than a sprinkler moved around as needed. It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have and truthfully, we don’t water much other than the first couple weeks after planting any given seed or start, then we let the rain take over, which for the most part, we see at least one inch of weekly. Give or take. The last couple of mornings I’ve put the sprinkler to work as I plant or otherwise tend my daily rows, and both days I’ve been joined by the coolest little hummingbird who can’t seem to believe his good fortune of early morning sun showers. You’ve never seen such frolicking, dive-bombing, and mid-air summersaulting. It’s hysterical and brings me an unreasonable amount of joy. 

.     .     .

I’m four days out from quitting (personal) Facebook and I have no idea what’s going on in the world. It's a little alarming how much distance I feel between four days ago and now. World's apart. I didn’t think I was on Facebook that much, but it is where I followed news outlets and read daily happenings from around the world. I’m not entirely comfortable in this bubble. On the one hand, I’m happier. Not blissfully ignorant, more like: Wow, for the first time in ages I’m not constantly fending off rage and hopelessness. I’m not all that familiar with rage, and maybe what I’ve become acquainted with in recent months is not true rage, but as of late, “rage” has been a relentless abuser, a tsunami pummeling through my physical and spiritual being, manifesting in crippling ways. It’s been the worst kind of Groundhog Day. Not once has this rage felt constructive or motivating. Instead, I’ve felt depleted, mistrusting, and in the darkest moments, hopeless. Rage doesn’t work in the longterm. Maybe even the short-term.  

On the other hand, this new found freedom leaves me feeling useless and ill-informed. As if my own occasional political contributions to the echo chamber that is Facebook were somehow useful or informative. They weren’t. But my departure didn’t really have to do with that, or even with reading a variety of ideas and beliefs from friends and family. My departure was mostly prompted by Facebook’s practice of placing (to my mind) cruel and disturbing articles in my feed that people I know interacted with, either by commenting or “liking.” I’d see their comments and their “likes” and it was depressing as hell. I gather they feel the same about seeing my worldview plastered across their feed. So, I finally beat feet outta there. It was time, and it feels unbelievably good. (For the record, I don't have a moral dilemma with Facebook, it's fine and has it's place. You guys know I'm not one to pull up a pedestal so this is not me making any kind of social media proclamation. I'm just reflecting on one of the things that made the chopping block as I'm  figuring out some stuff, and regaining a sense of wellbeing that has diminished over the last several months.)

Now it’s just me and that hummingbird hanging out beneath first light. Both unaware of life beyond the garden rows, of the world on fire. The thing is, one of us is okay with that. Rightfully, he only cares about his next mid-air summersault under droplets of water, while the other member of this early morning duo feels like she’s leveraged her privilege by opting out and shutting down. She hopes there is a middle ground to be found. In the meantime, she is experiencing a kind of peace she hasn’t felt in a long time.

A Little Bunny that Could


I’d neglected a list of errands for longer than I could responsibly get away with. We needed more garden fencing, vodka for springtime tinctures, a few things at the co-op, and I had to return a phone charger that was less than two months old and already dead as a doornail. Forget planned obsolescence, the manufacturer didn’t even try for a brief window of function. My errand running took place on a rainy day, what’s one more after weeks of the same. At some point you can’t wait for the sun to shine and you just have to get on with it. Still, the mood out in the world reflected a tired people. 

I made my way into the phone charger store and approached the register. I hadn’t saved my receipt for the meager ten dollar item, but for some reason I did have the original packaging. Placing my failed purchase on the counter I told the woman standing across from me that I’d bought it not long ago and it already stopped working, could I exchange it for a different brand? She replied, “Oh, I could have told you it wasn’t working, I take at least five of these in return each week.” Come again? I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the end-cap display by the register, the very one I chose this charger from two months ago, was still present and fully stocked with bins of this known-to-malfunction device.

“You’d think the store would discontinue sale of this item, knowing how faulty it is.” 

“Yeah, you’d think.”

She pointed me in the direction of a charger that she was not in the habit of taking back in return. The cost was even a whole dollar less than the junk model. She pushed a bunch of buttons on her computer, asked for my photo ID and had me sign a slip with my full name, address, and phone number. I thought it was a lot of information exchanged for such a small thing. What do people returning computers go through? She said I was all set and apologized for my troubles. Sent me on my way. I hesitated, waiting for her to hand that one dollar difference over to me, but she didn’t. I know, it’s just a buck, but... it’s not their buck. I mentioned something about the charger I returned costing a dollar more than the one I was leaving with:

“Yes, but you didn’t have your receipt. “


“I realize that, but you acknowledged this is a faulty item, that you alone see several returns weekly... AND the store knowingly continues to sell something they know is problematic. I would think with or without a receipt, I would not be expected to absorb the difference here.”

“Yeah, you’d think.”

Nice girl to a fault, I did not want to call in the manager and cause a scene in front of the underpaid, likely over-skilled employee before me. So I left. 

I pulled onto the four lane road in front of the store, silently cursing my lack of options other than this one big-box office supply mecca, the need for this blasted phone in the first place, the pavement below me and while we're at it, the few thousand pounds of metal and plastic surrounding me. Just because. At the next stoplight, waiting compliantly for the light to change, I peered inside neighboring cars, confirming that yes, the world still seemed tired. Resigned. Suddenly, a bunny appeared on the edge of the road. Brave little guy had more hutzpah than the rest of us. Without law of the land dictating his passage, he bolted across the intersection, bouncing and hopping in the most haphazard way, dodging cars left and right, eyes fixed on the other side. Three hops forward... a few to the right.. backtrack... keep going... dash to the left... freeze... almost there... he made it! Nothing but a bunch of steel and pavement and this one adorable fur ball in the middle. That bunny persisted and took his chances and gosh darn it he made it. Down the embankment and out of sight now, I imagined him hopping his way back to the quiet comfort of home. Well done. 

Moments earlier I’d felt hardened and cynical. Now, I sat with tear-filled joy over a little bunny that could. I wondered if my fellow tired-looking humans at the intersection noticed his persistence and felt the same. I hoped so. The light turned green and I continued on, just one more creature trying to find their way home. 

Summer and Samaritans


Doing our best to settle into summer as only three adults with two cars, one internship, three jobs, one hockey schedule, living across two states can. In a totally not-zen way, of course. We’ll find our groove, but we’re not there yet. At least, I’m not there yet.

Like most everyone else in the northeast, we miss the sun and wouldn’t mind a little warmth on our skin. We push through with the garden and while the peas are enjoying a notably cool spring, tomatoes and peppers are curled up in a terribly sad state, wishing for a sleeping bag and maybe a campfire to warm their chilly bones. (Hang in there!)

Declining my invite to hang all summer in Vermont, Emily went ahead and landed a gubernatorial internship in addition to her full time job at debate camp. When I asked if she knew her tasks for the internship she replied, “Not exactly yet because we’ll be in contact as it gets closer, but I expressed interest in policy development and voter data.” So I guess she has no plans to make coffee runs and stuff envelopes. Well, if all of that gets old and she feels like hitting the trail, foraging for mushrooms, or soaking up the relatively demure Vermont sun with her mom, she knows where to find me.

It’s nice to have Emily home. Her first year away at college was a whirlwind, as these things tend to be, and I’ve not done a very good homeschool-mom-blogger job of covering all that. There is still much to write about from a home education perspective, because even though she is now immersed in mainstream institutional education, she is experiencing it through the lens of someone who’s only known complete freedom in learning. There is a lot to unpack there. I should spend some time hashing it out in this space. No promises though, because I tend to lose interest in a topic once I promise to write about it, but we’ll see.

My sister called a few moments ago and asked if I’d heard the news about what happened in Maine yesterday. Before I could hear “it’s good news,” my mind wandered to images of hate crimes or some other terrible thing, and in the same moment I was disappointed for having such an automated response. As it turns out, while dad was at treatment yesterday, a good samaritan in the form of his cousin’s paving company surprised mom and dad with a brand new driveway. A brand new driveway! Even expanded it a little in all the right places to ease mobility for this point in their lives. And for sure they took the pavement rightuptothehouse which is classic Northern Maine. Can you imagine such a gesture? There are good people everywhere, but man, it’s a different world up there. My sister and I aren’t sure if this was a family-wide conspiracy, or if dad’s cousin acted alone, either way we are overwhelmed with gratitude.

Driveway paved

Anyway. Cheers to settling into summer, and cheers to the good samaritans of the world.