Kindergarten (Circa 1969) and already full of stories!

Kindergarten (Circa 1969) and already full of stories!

About shefa

I've been called many names over the years; nicknames, some unmentionables, and a few legal name changes but the ones that stuck are the Red Bone Gypsy and Aunt Pippi. It explains quite a bit about my journey and my identity.

I also consider myself a "late bloomer," beginning to embrace my many passions only after all the babies became young adults.  I can spend hours talking about folkways, foodways, the healing power of creativity and community, creating safe and welcoming spaces, nostalgia and life review, rural & agrarian living and using it all as tools for self-awareness, compassion and transformation. 

Since May 2018, I have been living a life-long dream. I own a farmhouse, barn, lambing shed, a root cellar, feed house, dairy house, outhouse and 20- acres in rural America.  I recognize not many folks actually leave modern life behind and move into the rural wild, alone, without any homesteading experience and as a mature (over 50) woman, who, like the house, is in need of some repair. I don’t have cable television. If not for my WiFi service, my cell would be useless. Only the main floor is heated and, this first winter, I insulated my water pipes by piling bails of straw against the outside wall. I suspect I’ll be doing this for a few years to come. Many may dream of making the big ditch but often surrender to feeling foolish, dangerous, an overall bad decision. As draconian as it sounds, I needed it to survive. Something major had to change and I always knew it started with returning to the homeplace my soul ached for. I found it in bucolic Potomac Highlands, WV.

When it came time to name the land, I played with a few options including Walnut Grove from the Little House series since the property’s front yard is lined with 3 guardian black walnut trees. Ultimately, I settled on SpitFire Hollow because there's a lot of she-wolf gumption coming to these grounds!

Most days are spent taking photos, dabbling in encaustics and assemblage, collecting stories, caring for some special critters, tending a garden, sprucing up SpitFire Hollow, teaching documentary arts and working on social justice issues through community engagement and empowerment. As the founding director, documentarian & folklorist of Roots & Reasons StoryWorks, LLC, I'm fortunate enough to integrate my personal and professional life.

However, on this website, I simply share a portion of my blessings.  You are invited to stay and take all the time you need. It is my hope you leave better off - whether that's inspired, more at peace, or better convinced that dreams do come true, even if we have to wait a bit until you can truly live them.

By the way, my name is both Hebrew and Arabic.  In Hebrew (pronounced Shay-Fuh) it means to receive abundance only Divinity can bestow.  In Arabic (pronounced Chef-Ah), it means "to heal."  Whichever way you chose to pronounce it, I wish you both!

Shefa

Shefa Nola Benoit, Documentarian & Folklorist (AKA The Red Bone Gypsy)

Shefa Nola Benoit, Documentarian & Folklorist (AKA The Red Bone Gypsy)