Monday, December 31, 2012

A Milestone...

Magick NumberSixteen years ago I was holding this precious child in my arms as I drifted in and out of sleep. She was warm and took such small breaths that I would watch to be sure she was still with me. The pregnancy had been filled with the worst of emotions and the saddest of thoughts. Out of all of my pregnancies, this was the most stressful physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I made decisions and went back on them. Then I doubted myself and the final decision.

Brianna was born in a rush of tears and heartache. I was afraid I'd look at her and feel nothing at all. Instead, the nurse laid this tiny being on my chest and asked if I wanted to cut her cord. I couldn't even speak for the Love that suddenly overwhelmed all my senses. All my fears fell away as I looked into her face. I felt that she touched my very soul at that moment.

Now there is this young woman who stands eye to eye with me growing everyday into the adult woman she will become. I fear some of her choices. I lose sleep over some of her actions. I've cried and lamented over the things she has done.

I have not regretted one single moment. Not one.

Beautiful girlAs time passes I'm more and more proud of her actions. I'm hopeful for her future. I am filled with the Love she has brought to my life. Above all, I am filled with gratitude that she is part of my life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spinning of time

Day twelveTime spins in such a strange fashion lately. Days go by with barely a thought while moments stand out sharply, filling my mind with detail. For example, I can recall the texture, taste, aroma, and emotions that I experienced when I baked a cheesecake in my new springform pan (a gift last weekend), and yet, the knowledge that it was last weekend feels strange.

I have no profound words on this blustery morning. No pearls of wisdom. Only the thought that time is spiraling faster and faster and yet seems to be going nowhere at all. I wonder if this feeling has been experienced by humans since the beginning of our existence. I wonder if these thoughts are only a recycling of the contemplations of our ancestors.

It is certainly possible.

On this day, commonly celebrated by some to be the shortest day, I will be thinking about the people in my life (past and present) and will hold them in my heart for the greatest good.  May they all be blessed.

Namasté.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Milestone

They're taking over!Today I am a mother of a twenty-one year old. That feels so strange to type out, even though I have known it was coming. And fast.

I think back at the days before he made the choice to go into the Marines and the tension in the house was enough to choke on. There were days when I was ready to ask Kevin to take this kid out of my house because I wanted to throttle him. So many times it was Kevin's advice and clear-headed thinking that got us through those times. I never did have my son go stay with someone else, and I think it was the knowledge that I could, if it got too bad.

Don't get me wrong, there were other days when we'd be awake long into the night talking about philosophy, religion, politics, life, and more. There were days when the laughter rang out through the house and filled it with sunshine. Those, truly, are the days I focus on the most.

Great smile!Do I think he's now a man simply because he reached an age? No. Quite simply, my son took many steps to becoming a man. One of the most significant ones was in early December, 2009. This crazy-haired kid with the chains on his pants asked me to sign the papers giving him permission to join the Corps before his birthday. Even with all of the fears I had, with all the doubts, I knew, above all else, that I was proud of this young man.

Do I still think about the little boy that he once was? Of course! There is no way not to. But mostly I think about the future that is filled with possibilities for this wonderful young man. And I smile, even through the bittersweet tears of my heart.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Memories and memories

RootsThe last two days have been filled with memories of events in my life. And they haunt me still and make me wonder what happened to those days. And what will happen in the future.

Yesterday... twenty-six years ago I was home alone and heard a knock on the door. I wasn't supposed to answer the door, even at the age of sixteen, but I knew it was important. So I did. It was the mailman with the certificate from the department of education saying that I'd passed my GED. I was thrilled! And was sitting in a college classroom in January. That first semester was amazing! I had to take several prerequisites and most of them were my choice. Ancient Religions and Mythology, Interpersonal Communications, and Psychology 101. I loved them all. I met people who were shocked that I was so young, and others who didn't seem to care. I got an A++ on the first essay I'd ever written (about the correlation of the religious stories told around the world). People read my poetry and gave me criticisms and praises in equal measure. I even had something put into the campus newsletter.

It was  a heady time for me and I felt like I was right where I belonged. I excelled that first semester and soaked everything up like a sponge. It wasn't until later, when I took the classes I was told to take, that I began to see college as a chore. I cared nothing for CAD (computer-aided drafting), BASIC, or COBOL. I trudged through those classes, finishing the assignments and still getting good grades, but the sparkle had gone from the world. That hurt, but I thought it was just how things were supposed to be.

Today... thirty-two years ago, I watched my mother's face drain of color when there was a news story on the radio. Someone very important to her, and therefore to me, had just been shot. Then, what seemed like an eon later, was pronounced dead. I don't remember anyone else in the room when that news came across the air, but I remember that my mom just sat there with tears coursing down her face, unchecked. She made no sobbing noises, but there was such a feel of sorrow to her that I wanted to take it all away.

I knew who John Lennon was, of course. My mother sang his songs to me while she played her guitar. She told me about how Imagine was on the radio while she was pregnant with me. And how he strove for peace during the troubled times we lived in. I knew he was more important to us than the president (yes, judge if you will, that's what I believed at the time.)

Tomorrow... Brianna and I picked out a tree yesterday and laughed as we tried to keep it upright. It was only after we got it home that we realized that the trunk was crooked and the whole thing was unbalanced. But we enjoyed the attempts to secure it in the base, and the moment when we realized that there weren't enough lights to really do the tree justice, and the time spent deciding where the ornaments should be placed.

And I wonder what memories will be carried forward into her adulthood. What will she look back on and smile? Or cry? Will she see me as I'd like her to see me? Or will time paint a different picture? And how will Anthony remember me to his children? Will he think I was a great woman? Or just someone who did what she had to do? Will they see their childhoods filled with magic? Or will they see them as filled with struggle?

I won't know, of course. All I can really hope is that I am there, sharing those memories with them. Sharing the laughter, and the solemn moments.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Winterized...

Some of the windows have their plastic in place (the others are newer and don't need it), the snow shovels and bucket of salt are in the entry, the back porch is cleared off for easier shoveling, and the furnace filter is cleaned. The house is about as winterized as it's going to be.

As for myself, my pens are refilled, my notebook is close to my desk, my textbooks are ready to be read, and my candles are blessed and ready for lighting. I plan to use these longer nights to think, to meditate, to dream, to plan, to rest before the light.

I had an interesting thing happen the other day... I heard a line in a song ("You've seen this all before, life left on the shore") and I had an image come to mind. Not one of me standing on a shore, but on a mountain with clouds coming up the edge of the earth on which I stood. Instead of wanting to dive into the water I knew I wanted to leap off and fly. I know that might sound strange to those who know that I really don't like being in a plane, but it was completely different. I wanted to take that last step and know that I was able to ride the winds, soar closer to the sun and moon, spin around, drop like a hailstone, then swoop back up in a steady and peaceful flight. All with my own wings knowing that I was filled with the infinite possibilities of the Universe.

There is something holding me back, and I plan to use my pondering and journaling to figure out what it is and the best way to get past it. And I will. Or, I will learn that it's just something that I can't figure out and I will get past it anyway. Regardless, I will fly.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Matriarchs...

Nine SquareLately I've been thinking about my ancestors. Tonight I want to focus on the women. I am thinking about the men as well, but I'm not ready to write about them yet.

 What do I say here? My mother was a mystery to me. I can honestly say that there was never a time that I understood her for longer than a brief instance, then the clarity drifted away as she moved into the next mood. Was she cruel? Sometimes. Did she teach me a lot? Yes, but not in the way I think she meant to. Do I miss her now? More often than I used to.

I will start with what I knew for sure. She was born in 1951 in October. She had 1 sister about 12 years younger than she was. Her dad (Grandpa) raced cars and took the family camping and worked in a well-paying job. Her mother (Grandma) made her wear white gloves and dresses. She was in Girl Scouts for a lot of years. She didn't like Barbie (in fact she was given one when they first came out, my grandmother sold it at a yard sale, still in the box for a quarter back in the mid-eighties). She married my Dad in late 1970 or early 1971 and gave birth to me in September 1971. She had my brother in October 1974. She was divorced sometime after that. She had bone cancer from way back. Married R. McDowell in mid 70's. One finger amputated (don't know when), sternum replaced in early 70's, hysterectomy in late 70's/early 80's, left humerus replaced around '84, continued surgeries on that for a couple years, until a steady decline in the combination of healthy blood cells caused complications and she passed away in early 1994. Does that all sound rather impersonal? Yes, well, even while writing it up there, my own emotions took a little roller-coaster ride.

I have many memories of my mother. They tend to fall into two categories - Before and After. If someone were to ask me "Before/after what?" I wouldn't be able to tell them a specific time. I'm including some things that sum up a little of how I think about the before and after:

There was a time when my mother was like a Goddess to me. She showed us all the wonders of the world around us. When I think about that time I remember being very happy. We made apple jelly and canned our veggies. We hung our clothes out on the line, milked our goat and had fresh eggs most mornings. I remember having a box full of chicks in the living room with a warming light attached to it while the winds were blowing outside. We made our own ice cream and our Christmas presents were home-made gifts. I learned what the phrase "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" really means (yes, they really do run around for a little while with no head). We lived simply and I was so very happy.

There were days, when we lived in Tennessee, that I thought our lives were perfect. We got fresh sausage and bushels of apples from one of the neighbors in trade for some work. There was a huge oak tree outside my bedroom window and when the storms would come in I would watch the branches blowing around. She let me put my bed near the window after I told her I wanted the tree to watch over my dreams. She'd told me something like that and it stuck in my young head. She played with us. And when she was teaching us it still felt like playing. She once gave me a stack of fabric triangles and told me to use all of them and make a large square. After I figured it out, she threaded a needle and showed me how to make a quilt block that looked like a pinwheel. She showed us how to determine what animal had passed our little creek by the way the prints were shaped. She made a tipi out of sheets and ran out one afternoon to save it when a storm hit. She showed us how to make pressed flowers and leaves and then showed us how to make them into gifts for our family. She taught me to crochet and to repair my own clothes. She taught me the difference between iris roots and daffodil bulbs. She showed me how to milk a goat and not spill the milk. We would go for walks in the woods and she'd show us the shelf mushrooms on the trees and would explain how the faeries would sit there in the sunlight and moonlight when there weren't any humans around. She showed us how to find faery rings (where there are violets growing in a circle in the woods) and tell us how the faeries would dance in the middle. She also let me know that dreaming was something to cherish and laying out in the grass watching the world go by wasn't such a bad way to spend the afternoon. I learned to memorize poems and even put them to music if I wanted to. I learned that it is okay to go against authority if you believe in what you are making a stand for. She taught me that sometimes we have to back down even when we know that we are right and they are wrong, for the sake of safety and harmony. ~ All this happened while I was only eight years old.

I don't know what the financial situation was, but I really felt my mother was truly happy too. She played her guitar for us indoors and out. She helped us build a shelter out of branches that could withstand the winds and taught us how to make fires. She showed us animal tracks and taught us how to tell the differences between most of them. She laughed with us while we picked weeds in our garden. She let me help with the milking and gathering the eggs. She was barefoot most of the time and her clothes were soft and comfortable (I can remember peasant style tops and long skirts). She just seemed to be happy.

I can remember the beauty of the irises and daffodils in our front yard and the dogwood trees when we'd go for walks. The gentle way the mists would rise in the mornings and the amazing strength in the thunderstorms that came in so fast we barely had time to take the clothes off the line. I can see clearly the morning when we got to go outside on Mother's Day, before the sun was even up and see the new baby goat who had arrived some time in the night. I can actually still feel the huge oak tree on my back as I sat against it in the summer and read my books, or just daydreamed. If I listen hard enough I can hear our squeals of laughter as Maggie (the baby goat) ran around with us and stepped on our toes when she got close to us.

My dad-growing-up (R. McDowell) was going to leave us at one point. I think that was when she began to change and not be so happy. We moved to Arizona (not the first or the last time) shortly after that and she began wearing regular clothes with a bra and started smoking again and smiled less. Was it him? Did he ask her to stop being "hippy-fied" as he so often called her? Did he tell her she should stop being so free? That she should try harder to "fit in"? Did he tell her that was the only way he would stay with her? I wish I knew. I only know that she never felt comfortable around the McDowell family and they (mostly the women) always seemed to exclude her in anything they did. Sure, we were invited to things, but even as young as I was I felt we were separate.

I think of her choices differently now than I did when I was younger. She had fewer options than I do. True, we both had two children and we were both single moms, but she knew she would die because of cancer and would have no one to take her children. She also didn't have the same job options I've had. Not to say I've had a lot of skills in the workplace, but I grew up in a different era. She was "supposed to" grow up and get married, even with the revolutions going on at the time. I was raised to grow up and make a difference... even after we moved to Arizona the last time, even with her underlying anger and sadness she still pushed me to not rely on anyone for anything. Perhaps that was why she was so very disappointed when I married Bruce. I became a stay at home mom and didn't even think about working outside the home. I felt so much anger toward her at the time - how could she push me to be independent when she relied on my dad for everything and had so few friends of her own? What gave her the right to want me to be single and not have kids when she didn't live that way?

I think I know now. She wanted me to know, without a doubt, that I had the strength to do it on my own without having to rely so heavily on someone else. Without having to follow their rules. I do know that. I've taken care of my children in the years past with no financial help from anyone, not even child support (although that did start coming in a couple years ago). I do not doubt that I will have an alpaca ranch one day. I know I can do it. I wonder if she ever thought of my dad, or any man, as her partner. Someone she could work with to build the dreams she had.

I believe with all my heart that she has been watching over me. My own daughter has seen her even though my mother died nearly three years before Brianna was born. I believe she protected me during my car accident and I believe she still nudges me when I am not thinking clearly.

There are days I truly miss her and wish she were here so I could share some part of my life with her.

Here is a letter I wrote to her some time ago:
The day's essence drifts through the memories in my mind, blowing the dust from thoughts I haven't touched in countless ages. Where are you now? • I miss you sometimes. My children will never know your magick. Are there gnomes where you are? Do the fairies still dance in the sacred moonlight? • I do try to give them a part of what you gave to me through the years: Strength, Wisdom, Courage. Can you see us now? Do you watch over us? I remember how you showed me what to do if I ever got lost in the woods. • I am lost now.

What compass do I use to find my way? What stars should I look to for guidance? How do I find my way now? Mom, are you there? 

Now, I believe I have a partner, my children are nearly grown, I have a business that I really enjoy and have come to love the people I've met online. Now, I can appreciate the strength it must have taken my mom to stay quiet and conform to someone else's standards so her children would have a home. Now I can remember her with love and not with anger. Now... Now I am proud that she was my Mom.

---

I grew up knowing my maternal grandmother. She was a petite, bustling woman who always seemed pulled together. Even when she was wearing denim and a t-shirt, she was more elegant than any other woman I know. I can't remember a moment when she sat doing nothing at all. Her voice was soft and sweet, and I don't remember a harsh word coming from her. She was very creative, too. Ceramics, crochet, sewing, quilting, painting, floral arranging... I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of them right now. I now only have a few of her quilts and nothing more. This makes me more sad than I realized. One of the quilts will need to be restored. It's being passed to my son since it was made the year he was born.

We spent holidays in Payson with my grandparents and I always liked the way their house smelled. Not the cloying rose-scent that another grandmother's house always had, but a fresh blend of pine and sage and lavender. The houses that I remember weren't overly cluttered, either. There were various trinkets from their life together; animals carved from Mt. St. Helen's ash, jade carvings, Grandpa's trophies, Grandma's paintings. All of these things were precious and never seemed like they were just "stuff".

I miss her. I know that she's no longer suffering and missing her daughter and husband, who both went before her. I know that she's not lonely anymore. But, I miss her.

---

I also remember visiting my great-grandmother once. Her name was Katie Rose. I think I was only 5 or so when we visited her and I remember that her house seemed dark. Dark wood furniture, dark wood trim around her house, velvet curtains over the windows. She was small and seemed so old to me then even though she was probably only 71 or so.  I don't know when she died, but then, I couldn't tell you the year anyone died (I have to do the math when I think of when my mom died... Anthony was 3 years old.) I just don't remember those things.

Oh! I cannot believe this thought never occurred to me before this moment. My mother, grandmother, great-grandmother... all are gone. That is such a weird feeling. Not a comfortable one at that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pushing through...

This hasn't been the best of months for me, but neither is it the worst. Things have just felt out of sync for a while. I've been spending a lot of time in thought and in journaling. Both seemed to have been helping.

I've also been doing what I can to stay focused. Some of that involves my candles. You see, when I light them, there is an intention. Sometimes it's for another person's healing. Sometimes it's for a positive outcome. And sometimes it's just for me.

These candle holders are very special to me. The stone on the left was found at Tonto Creek, Arizona many years ago. The one on the right was found at Blue Rock, Ohio on a camping trip with my kids. The half-log was from a tree that I had a (very) small part in bringing down and will forever remind me of climbing a very steep hill with Brianna. If it wasn't for Kevin's help I would probably still be trying to figure out how to drill through stone. And I'd still be trying to get the holes into the wood.

It's not always easy accepting help from others, especially from one who respects my strengths. But I've learned that the help isn't taking anything away from Me. And I've learned that it doesn't diminish the level of respect. It's even been pointed out to me that it only enhances the wonder of Life. And, on a very personal level, it makes these items feel a little more like a gift than they already were.



This morning, as I've done several mornings, I stepped outside to enjoy the hush of the dawn. This time I was rewarded with some beautiful and fragile frost. I say fragile because even as I came near, the warmth from my breath began melting it away. And it reminded me that time really is precious. Sometimes I forget that. I wish for a "fast-forward" through a tough situation, or long days without a smile, or long months of a financial struggle. I forget that even these dark days are what our memories are made of. And I try a little harder to remember that I am truly grateful for each day I am alive.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Quiet space

FireThere are times when an outside influence causes me to pull away from the world. Yes, I know all the sayings about not letting others influence the way you feel and I know that you should push the negative feelings away. But there are times when I don't seem to have that ability. Right now feels like one of those times.

Time. Time to work. Time to watch the kids grow up. Time to mourn the lack of time spent with loved ones. Time to worry about where I will be a year from now. Time to worry about physical issues.

When is it too late to do something? That was part of a discussion this weekend and I didn't have a clear answer when it was asked. I don't really have one now either, but I have feelings about it. I've been waiting for certain things to happen and it's starting to reach a point where I'm going to have to just come to terms that they won't happen. It's getting to that point of being too late.

True, there are other things to fill those empty spaces, and I am trying to focus on those. Still, it doesn't lessen the pain of the empty space.

I don't have any passion for writing today, so I'm going to leave this for now. Is this post "on Fire"? No, more like the last wisps of smoke trailing to the sky.

But I am a Phoenix and I will rise again as soon as these embers are burned out.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Forgiveness

Some of you may know that I consider this time of the year as the beginning. For anyone wondering about it, I'll try to explain my feelings. It started with reading about Paganism and how the beginning of the year was around Samhain (Halloween). I thought about it a lot before I could accept it. But then it occurred to me to think about it in terms of Life.

We begin in darkness, so to begin the year in the darker time seems to make sense. The shorter days can give us the time to think about the way we want our lives to be, the way we want our Selves to be. We can use the overcast days to gather our strength in Spirit and understanding. We can use the time to learn more about our thoughts and dreams. To really turn corners on learning to forgive the ones we love. And even the ones we don't love. Then, when we have had the chance to work through things internally, we burst free with the sunshine and new life around us in Spring.

Does that make sense?

Right now I'm learning about Love and Forgiveness. Many times over the last decade I have been shown what it means to be loved. And to be forgiven. And yet, how can I truly believe myself to be forgiven if I cannot find it in me to forgive my own self? There are things in my past which I am ashamed of. Selfish actions that hurt others around me and caused them to lose faith in me. I've professed love for someone then walked away without a backward glance. I've belittled people and treated them shabbily only to laugh at their tears. I've justified my actions then scorned others for doing the same. Sometimes when I think about all of that, it scares me a little to know that I was such a person.

And yet... I think I did learn from some of that. I think I did grow beyond that smallness inside. Until I second guess myself, then I wonder if I'm still causing the same level of damage I once did.

There is a person in my life who has taught me about forgiveness. I am constantly amazed at their ability to forgive even some of the most painful actions other people have committed. Even me. They inspire me to be more forgiving of myself and of others. And that, my friends, is one of the things I'll be focusing on as the days grow shorter.




For this new year, I have found freedom.  Freedom from judging myself or others.  Freedom from feeling like I am not smart enough, nice enough, whatever enough. I  honor the Light within me that shines strong enough to guide me. I pick myself up when I stumble. I accept the help of the ones who love me with grace and gratitude. I allow myself to grow into the shining Being I am capable of becoming. I am filled with the knowledge that this is how my Creatrix wills me to be. I believe in Me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Passing thoughts...

PathwayThere are times in my life when I feel as if I am filled with the knowledge that time is passing and there is nothing to stop it. During these times I worry a little that I've not spent my time wisely. I worry that I will only leave behind sadness. I understand that we are not to know these things, but I would like to have the knowledge that I have touched lives in a positive way. I know that all seems a little maudlin, but there it is.

This is an odd time of the year for me. A lot of loss and sorrows and heartbreak has occurred this time of the year. And it seems to bring me down each year, too. This year I am striving for something better. I won't get the fire that I'd hoped to have, but I have several candles and now have a lovely bit of wood to work into a special candle holder that will last me many years. The wood came from an ash tree that had already died, but I still had thoughts of gratitude for the use of it.

The Ash is said to be an excellent wood for promoting brain activity. Its magick aids in communication, intelligence, wisdom, and promotes curiosity. Used in ritual applications, it is said to remove mental blockages and aid in the promotion of word use and understanding and increase spiritual love and health.

See? Pretty cool. I'll be working on smoothing and preparing it later. It will take a while, though.

So... why am I doing this? Because this is a good year. No, I'm not conjuring that up or anything like that, but it is. There have been no great sorrows with the people most dear to me, no losses, no heartbreaks. And for that, I am most gratitude-filled.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Winner...

Early yesterday it was pointed out to me that I was leading a group in a special way. And yet, in all honesty, I do not think of myself as a leader. Not by any stretch. Sometimes I want to shrink back into anonymity and watch the world from my little corner of the world. But knowing that some of my ideas are helping others? Knowing that the simple things that I put here are any kind of inspiration? I know that I can't go back to my shelter. At least not permanently. Once in a while when I need to ground myself, yes, but only until I can breath again.

My trip to Asheville helped me more than I can ever express. The energy of the people there. The peace of the home I was in. The deep strength of the mountains. All of that showed me just how far I'd fallen since moving to this town. I'd lost a lot of vitality and the ability to see my own Light on a regular basis. I only saw it in tiny glimpses and it seemed so feeble. Some people would tell me that I was an inspiration to them, but I felt like they must be blind... I couldn't see it for myself. Especially when I could hold so much animosity toward some other human beings on the fringes of my life.


The workouts are helping. My new determination is helping. The handful of women in my group is also helping. In this effort I'm also finding the strength to fight against the concession that wants to rise up and just accept what "is". I am finding the strength to walk away from the situations that do not help me grow.

When I look at myself in the mirror I sometimes see the most beautiful Being there is because I can see the radiance of Spirit shining through my eyes. That's not conceit, it's just there. Other times I see a tired woman struggling to make it to the end of the day so she can escape into the oblivion of sleep. I strive to see the Shining One much more often.

And now? Even though it is the end of the day, I have a commitment to my Self, and I need to get out there on that bike and pedal for the last 30 minutes of exercise for the day. Because I deserve this. I am the winner.



Friday, October 12, 2012

A lesson...

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. "
~ Bertrand Russell

On Monday I posted about some people not gathering all the facts about an issue before they started fighting about it. I truly thought that my post would be read, thought about, and maybe, just maybe, discussed in a mature fashion. Only on a very tiny scale did that happen. And the rest?

My inbox was filled with comments from liberals and conservatives telling me how wrong I was, how stupid I was, how close-minded I was. There were messages of hate, messages of accusations, and messages telling me to hang myself (from an anonymous commenter). I even had a few of my customers let me know that they could no longer purchase from one who was "with the other side".

Wow.

I can honestly say that all of it stunned me. I like to think that people are capable of disagreeing with someone without turning to hatred. Perhaps I am putting too much faith in the world in general. What seems funny to me is that I wasn't attacking any political party, only the fact that people were arguing with the wrong information.

I've lost customers, I've lost a few people from my friend list on Facebook and Ravelry, I probably even lost a few people who had "favorited" my shop on Etsy.

Am I still hurting over this? Yes, actually, I am. I can take comfort in the fact that the people I've welcomed into my home have not turned away. I can take comfort that the people I call my "Fiberly" are still my friends. And most important of all, I can take comfort in knowing that I spoke up with intelligence and facts, and that the ones spouting hatred really don't matter.

Monday, October 08, 2012

We are better, right?

October 12, 2012 - Comments have been closed on this post.

First, if my information is incorrect, please feel free to send me a message to let me know. You can comment below and I'll get it in my inbox.

-

Yes, I get upset when people don't check facts before they start trashing "the other side". I know everyone is up in arms about the whole PBS/cut funding comments, but many are arguing with the wrong information.

I see arguments that Sesame Workshop is making enough money to be counted as a "one-percenter" (actually the comment was Big Bird), but those people didn't stop to think that PBS and SW (formerly CTW) are not the same entity. I also see arguments that the shows will all be canceled and PBS will be shut down, but that's not necessarily the case, either.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (created in 1967) provides about 15-20% of the funding for many public broadcasting organizations (such as PBS and NPR). Where does the rest come from? Private membership donations AND individual people. Yes, those annoying telethons and pledge drives are ways for the average person to donate to PBS. That's me. And many of you.

Ideas? I have a few... for people who can organize a car wash (although the weather is starting to get a little cold for that), wash cars and raise money for PBS. You run a restaurant? Donate all the proceeds from a day's worth of sales to PBS. You work outside of the home? Donate 10% of your paycheck to PBS. Donate here.

Will it be easy? Of course not, but I would like to believe that we are a better nation and will work toward building a better country.

Will I be putting my money where my mouth is? Yes, I certainly will. For all the sales I make during the month of October, through my shop (Alina Shea Creations), I will donate 5% of my profits to PBS.

And, no, I don't watch PBS anymore. I got rid of my television quite a while ago and haven't missed it since.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Catching up...

Beautiful flowersI have so many thoughts still swirling around and I meant to get them all written out earlier. Instead I got busy with a few things, had a cold (which always makes me feel a bit disconnected), and generally have not had much of a chance to sit down and write.

Being in Asheville was amazing! From the absolute breath-taking beauty, to the small peaceful moments, I loved it all. I hope I can convey some of that now.

One of the most simple things I enjoyed was the fact that everyone called me Shayla. There was no hesitation, no forgetting, no confusion. I was Shayla to them and that's just the way it was. I know that it's still something people around here are getting used to. I know that some will always think of me as Shannon. The ones who matter most to me are trying and will keep trying because they know how important it is to me. There are some folks who don't "get it" but they make the effort anyway and that means a lot to me, too. But to have my chosen name come from so many people naturally? Well, that felt like a gift.

Nearly every day I went out onto the front porch before the sun rose and enjoyed the morning hush. There is something so peaceful about knowing that the place you are is compatible with your own energy. Mountains have always been that way for me. Even in Colorado, when I was very young, I could feel how much more my spirit resonated with the land. I think it will always be that way with mountains. The desert was beautiful and I liked much of it, especially how attentive you had to be to your surroundings. This area? Well, the marshlands are nice. But the mountains! Oh, how my heart sings when I'm in the mountains!

I also tried new foods nearly every day. Asparagus tips, Indian food, Chinese food, and so many other things that I can't even remember them all. I just know that when April cooked, I ate whatever she gave me. When she or Kam took me out to eat I tried something new. I didn't have any negative reactions to anything I had and was sure I'd have a lot to work off when I returned home (in fact, I actually lost 4 pounds while I was there). Oh! And I had a chai latte and decided that I just might like that more than coffee.

Knitting happened every day, too. Whether I was sitting in a cafe, on the front porch, in the back yard, in the room off the kitchen, or in the room that I called mine, yarn and sticks were usually in my hands. I even knitted a little at the studio after April put me through one of her classes. I finished a scarf, started another, finished socks, and worked on my shawl.

On my birthday I was able to talk with the most important people. It still felt a little odd to not see them, but it was okay. I still don't really think of myself as having a birthday at all, but then... I've felt like that for many years now. I feel so much more vibrant than I did when I was 30 that it seems more like I'm going back in time. Or, perhaps, it's just that I'm more aware of Life. Regardless, I am truly happy that I feel so good.

And, for our picnic on Mount Mitchell, it seemed that the day was made for us. The sun peeked out just as we were starting lunch. And, most awesome of all, we heard a raven calling before it flew over us. Then it returned just a short time later, so close that we could hear the wind rushing over its wings. A truly powerful moment.

And now I am back in Sandusky and things are somewhat back to normal. I took the kittens and Nala to a shelter so I have the use of my back rooms again. I got the dyepots steaming and filling the house with the smell of alpaca & wool. I have fallen asleep with thoughts of my loved ones and woken in the wee smas with the same people on my mind. I've begun a few new projects (one of which is clearing out some stuff from the house) and finished a few others. I've thought about my journal (haven't sat down to write in it yet) and other important areas that still need attending. I've realized that my jeans barely fit me (they stay up for a short time after pulling them from the dryer, after that I need to pull them up frequently) and that I don't have a dress to wear to a wedding (all I had are now too big) and that I'm happy about that, too.

Mostly, I have been thinking about how good my life is sometimes. And that I love the people I choose to have in it.

Namasté.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Not just a day...

A beautiful dayI woke this morning feeling a little sore and stiff from yesterday's run but also feeling more alive than I did a decade ago. How interesting it is to me that, with all that has happened since I moved to Ohio, I don't feel worn down and at the end of my rope. Instead I feel fabulous.

This trip has been so good for my Spirit. I've been here in the mountains, breathing in the peace and beauty, learning a little more about the town itself, listening to the messages in the rain. And I've started to dream just a little bit once again. Dreams of where I can be what I can do, and hopes for my future. I didn't realize this, but I needed this time away from the place I live.

Yesterday I ran/walked in the Asheville 5k and really did a lot better than I thought I would. There were several hills and even though I walked most of them, it still felt awesome when they called my name right before I crossed the line. Afterward, there was a post-running party and that ended up being this wonderful evening filled with laughter, food and music.

I don't know what is on today's agenda, but I've already been writing up a storm. Perhaps in all this peace I will find some of the answers I need.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a fabulous day. I already know that the first day of being 41 will be great. And, I am looking forward to whatever wonders this year holds for me.

Also, the picture is from the last time I was here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A moment...

There are moments when a line from a movie or a song will come to mind and will make me think about where I once was and where I thought I'd be and where I am. When that mood hits me I wonder why. Why now? When I have a lot of good things going on and more good things on the horizon, why is this mood trying to invade?

Perhaps it is normal  for someone my age to look at the road they've been on and wonder why they're not further along. Maybe it's a typical passage for us to go through. It may be a standard occurrence to question our accomplishments.

How many times do we evaluate and reevaluate the life we want? How many times do we question our decisions and try to regain some of what we felt was lost? How many times do we recreate our path?

Don't get me wrong; I am grateful for many of the blessings I have. Not counting loved ones (because their presence goes without saying), I have a growing business, I have good health, I have people all over this planet who I would love to visit, I have a home and pets and friends. I have the gift of creativity and a talent for working out solutions to odd problems. I have so many blessings.

But there are moments when I remember other things that I once took for granted.
And I was audacious... I was. And then...
I grew tired of struggling against... everything. I stopped doing some of the things I enjoyed. I forgot that my Spirit was bright and beautiful. And I just survived each day.

There was no burst of inspiration. No moment of clarity. Just little things here and there. Someone reaching out to me and taking my hand. Someone telling me that they believed in me. Someone opening their home to me. Many someones joining together in friendship. These are the things that have helped me through the rough times. These are the things that help me to remember where I'm heading.

May you all be blessed with such moments.

(The line is from the movie "Hope Floats".)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Radio silence...

I heard a story early Monday and decided to make an observance of how fast the story would spread. I kept an eye out on Facebook and Google+. I watched for stirrings of anger and outrage and sorrow. I waited for the indignant protests from all parties and, yes, even the pointing of fingers.

Nothing happened.

Here is a story of the people who lost their lives. These were good people. Their families' lives are now shattered with the shooting in their place of worship on Sunday. Yes, that says Sunday. It's now two days later. Two days and the only thing I've seen on any social networking site was a picture. Just one. This morning.

In my head I'm wondering what the hell is wrong with our media that this story didn't make it huge. Where are the headlines? Where are the left wing liberals shouting for gun control? Where are the right wing conservatives defending the right to bear arms? Where are the atheists with the "I told you so" attitude saying something about religious nuts? Where are the religious nuts shouting about sanctity of houses of worship?

But in my heart I'm wondering how many people read the story and just let it go.

It seems so much more important to shout about Chik-fil-a and to cheer about contraception and to snub someone for being liberal or conservative and to scoff at someone because they believe in a Higher Power and to gossip about celebrities and to brag about the latest gadget they got.

I feel like crying. And hitting something. Instead, I'm going to go wash dishes.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sad

StormI was going to let this go, but I'm seeing more and more people (who are supposed to be intelligent) spreading hate and I can't understand it. How is supporting hatred good for our country? For this whole planet? And yet, I see people posting stories about how yesterday's "cause" is how the voting is going to be? One person actually said that it wasn't about religion, it's about the cause. No, it's about not stopping to think that you are in this tirade against other human beings. Does it really affect your life because your neighbor is homosexual? Or heterosexual? Or bisexual? Or any other prefix? Is this the most worthy cause you can throw your money at? Is this the way you want your children and grandchildren to remember you? How about your Creator? Is this how you want them to see you?

I am so glad the people I call friends are more loving than that. In fact, I'm immensely grateful that I've got friends who are of many religions or of no religion who accept that everyone is different.

As angry as this may make some of you, I see yesterday's show of hatred and the resulting comments just as negative as throwing a party because a man, who did atrocious things and whose followers also did those things, was killed last May. I really want to believe that the human race will rise above all of this, but I'm starting to lose hope.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;

But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.


James W Foley (only two stanzas)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Simplicity?

I expressed a bit of frustration a few days ago to a loved one about the placement of Pagan holidays on calenders and, especially, almanacs. I realize that it's just easier to have the holidays on set days each year, but if someone is following "tradition" shouldn't the holidays be moved accordingly? For example, the calendars show that today is Lughnasadh (aka Lammas, or First Harvest), yet the sun isn't 15 degrees Leo until next Tuesday.

And that brings me to another question for myself: does it matter? Will the world fall apart if I follow a stricter method of figuring the Sabbats? Will I fall apart if I follow the printing on the calendar? The simple answer is no, of course not.

And so, I will smile when I see the pretty pictures and well wishes posted in the social sites and I may even repost a couple of them. Then, when it's the right day for me, I will celebrate with fresh breads and grains and early fruits.

Blessings, World. May your days be filled with sweetness.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trying to focus...

My Blue WorldI will admit that there are days I'd much rather stay in bed. I know that's not a positive mental attitude, but there it is. A lot of this summer's mornings have been like that because of the daycare. When kids arrive at 4:45, it's hard to start the day early enough for some time to myself. Yes, they go right to sleep, but there is a part of me always listening for them to wake & need me. This takes its toll on meditation and other things. I've begun meditating before going to bed instead. For the mornings, I study and watch the class videos for the crystal course. I also do my chains in the mornings, but the treadmill... well, I'm still working on that one. By the time they leave for the day (as late as 6:45pm) I've already used up most of my energy. Somehow I need to get this figured out.

In other news, Anthony is home on leave. Well, he's in town. He did spend the first weekend with us and I've seen him a couple times since that. This is typical and I pretty much expected nothing different. I can't help but wonder how his visits would be if we didn't live in this town anymore.

There are other things going on in my life and in my mind that really don't have a place here. I feel things are in a weird state of flux and I can't see the road clearly. I am doing my best to stay focused on the important aspects and let go of the other stuff. For now, I can hear the crickets chirping and the birds are beginning to sing. I will remember that every day is a beautiful day.

(The picture is from SirWiseOwl. Check out his other pictures, too.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Passing summer

photoAs the summer progresses I think about the strangeness of time passing. There are days when it seems the time is drawn out, long and tedious. Other times it seems like it can't possibly be so fleeting.

I'm learning a lot lately. About crystals, about meditation, about Me. My journal has some random entries, but mostly it's the sheets of paper where I pour out the anger and fears onto that get my attention. Many of those sheets have been buried while some have been burned. Why do I do this? Because that Rage I once spoke of is still there, just below the surface, and I don't want it spilling out to hurt people I care about. The Earth can take the words and dissolve them into nothing, fire can turn them into ashes. And no one's heart gets broken.

I've also learned that extended, intense competition stresses me a little. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or something I need to overcome. We'll see. I know that I feel so energetic when a new event starts, but then, after a bit of time, I just want it to be finished. I prefer to do things at my own pace and with my own spark. Still, it has been fun.

I hope you all have a wonderful day, filled with beauty and smiles.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Deletion

There are many times in my life when I forget that my words will hurt someone. And that if my words are passive-aggressive, they will most likely hurt the wrong person. That's precisely what happened with one of my blog posts. The person I was talking about had no clue, while a person very dear to me saw my words on here as being directed at them.

This is one reason why it's so very important to think about what we write on blogs, on social websites, in forums, wherever. Because it really does affect people. And not always the people you want to affect.

The post is now deleted. I only wish it were as simple to delete the hurt along with it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

La Sombra de mi Espíritu

24: Shadow PlayIt lies within us all, yet we do our best to ignore it. To hide from it.We only focus on the light and the goodness. But that shadow is there, contrasting greatly with what we try to show the world.

So... what do we do about it? I think we need to face it. Face it and, perhaps, embrace it.

In so many teachings, we are told to search out our Higher Self. To rise above our base. And yet, it is the basal nature of our humanity that gives us a foundation. It's that foundation that gives us a sturdy platform to stand on. It's that platform that allows us to reach higher. If all we do is focus on the higher part of our Spirit, we will lose touch with our foundation. Then we will falter.

May you all be able to find balance with your Shadow.
I'd like to thank acwmaiden for her awesomely perfect picture for today. Please click on the image and take a look at the rest of her work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Intentions

As I wait for the workday to begin I think over the last 48 hours. I think about intentions and actions and how they coincide. Or go opposite directions.

I learned a lesson about myself yesterday. One that I knew before but had forgotten. I'm not going to share it here, I'll only say that I prefer my Higher Self. And that sometimes other people forgive me easier than I forgive me.

On a brighter note, I have a couple of special projects going on right now. One is to finish a pair of socks for a friend, another is to start a pair of socks for me (unless they are too tight, then they'll go to someone else). I also have some special colors to dye for the shop. There is one project that is just for me. The socks are part of Tour de Sock, and that's a great cause and lots of fun with other knitters. The dyeing is for the business (also me, but for the business).

The project just for me? Putting a flower of life onto a cloth to use in my Spiritual workings. I printed out the design on four sheets of paper (yes, it's that big) and will be transferring it to the fabric later today. Once the initial lines are drawn, I will begin filling in the colors. Each step will be with intention and focus. I may do more than one cloth, but I'm not going to think about that just yet.

Well, the daycare kids will be here any moment. I hope you all have a great day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

In a Lifetime...

So, a momentous event occurred last night and I got to watch it through the wonders of the internet. Oddly enough, very few of my circle of friends seemed that interested.

I think back on the astronomical events that I've witnessed (and remember) and it's a humbling thought. Halley's Comet when I was about 15, the discovery of a comet by Gene Shoemaker & his wife, Carolyn (I think in 1993, Anthony was pretty young), another comet discovery in early 1996 by a man in Japan (I can only remember that his first name was Yuji), eclipses, conjunctions, and so much more that I can't remember dates about. It is interesting to think about just how tiny humans really are.

In more earthly news, I've had my very first Reiki session. It was interesting to go through and wasn't at all what I'd thought it might be. I didn't really have any expectations so, when some emotions rose to the surface, I was a bit surprised. Still, I think it was good to get some of those memories out in the open.

What's on the agenda now? Well, there are several things I want to learn about. Now would be a good time for it all. There are some courses I can take online that focus on the things I'm interested in. I wouldn't get a degree or anything like that, but I'd take them just for the sake of learning. Like what? Well, astronomy, for starters. Also some philosophy, some religion, even physics. What good would the course do for me? Only give me more knowledge. Nothing more. Well, and the ability to answer more questions in trivia games.

The house is so quiet again this morning. Brianna has spent the last couple of nights with a friend. I'm trying to tell myself that I'll get used to the silence and the stillness of the house, but there are moments when I truly dread the day she moves out. For purely selfish reasons, but the feeling is there.

Time to turn on the coffee pot and get the day started. Dyeing, knitting, listening to a book... maybe signing up for a course or two.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Repairs...

Spiral #2 The Missing 'Bit'
Nothing brings a sense of dread to my stomach like a trip to the dentist. I don't even know why, since I've never had horrible experiences with them. But no matter how much I use my breathing techniques, no matter what music I listen to, my shoulders tense, my muscles tighten, and my pulse rises. Crazy, isn't it?

I'm hoping this time is different since the dentist is different. She's a younger woman of Indian descent and was very professional and personable the last time I went in.

I'll bring my knitting, of course. Just a washcloth that I can easily put aside when it's time.

I think the biggest challenge with this visit is my treadmill time. There isn't enough time for breakfast, treadmill, and a shower before I go (yes, I could have planned better) and I'm not sure how I'll feel when I get back. We'll see how it all goes.

In other news, I started a book recently by Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth). This was given to me by a lovely friend and there are some interesting points in it. I won't go into detail right now, but it's a good book to make you think a little more about what You really are. Not who you are, but what you are.

Well, time for me to get day-clothes on. I hope you all have a lovely day!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bitten

Yes, I broke my own rule: Don't touch the outdoor cats unless you're ready to catch them to get them fixed.

She was out there when I took some yarn out to finish drying in the breeze. She didn't run away like she normally does so I decided to talk to her. This time she came halfway across the yard and was talking back to me. I sat down on the porch to see if she'd come closer and she did. All the way up to me. She kept butting her head into my hands and meowing in a deep voice. I couldn't hear if she was purring, but her tail was straight up and fluffy. She seemed pretty happy that someone was paying attention to her.

Then I broke another rule: Never touch a pregnant female's belly without permission. And she bit me pretty hard. I should have expected it. And I felt so bad that I'd caused her to feel defensive while she's in this condition. (I did wash my hand pretty thoroughly, used peroxide, and my salve.)

I know that I could catch her now and have her fixed (it costs more while the cat is pregnant, but they will do it). But... I can't. I know that some would argue that the kittens may just starve to death anyway and that, if they survive, they'd end up being feral cats, too. And some might argue that feral cats don't have the same sense of being that housecats do. But... I can't. She's pregnant. Every bit of her is preparing for the coming of those kittens. She's far enough along that she probably already picked out a place to have them. I just cannot catch her, put her through the worst terror of her life only to have her wake up a day later and not have her kittens still inside her.

Judge me if you will, but I can't do that.

So what will I do when the kittens are born? Well, if she lets me anywhere near them, I will do my best to befriend them all and find them homes. It certainly won't be the first litter I've done that for.

-

In other news... I realized that Brianna will be a sophomore in a week. What a wonderful mix of emotions that caused! Shock, of course, then happiness for her, then happiness for me.

Then a realization that I've still got a long way to go to stay on track for my own dreams. And that filled me with some pretty powerful emotions, too.

I hope you all find your balance.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Writings

IrisWhat a glorious ability! To put one's thoughts and dreams and fears into a form that can be revisited again and again. Sometimes the revisiting hurts when you reread words that you'd penned years ago. And sometimes it makes you smile.

I've been doing a lot of writing over the last couple of days. And reading. And discovering more about myself. And deciding what should be laid to rest and what should be rekindled.

Life is a wondrous thing and there are so many ways of looking at beauty and feeling good about things. All we need to do is to be open to them. We need to listen when the Universe is telling us that something won't work and that it's time to look for a different way.

When we were kids we were taught a song... well, lots of songs, but this one was special. For me it was "Goin' on a Squeegie Hunt", for many of you it might have been something different. In the song we are met with dozens of obstacles. Boulders, rivers, fields of wheat, just about everything a child's mind could think of that we'd have to trek past to find the squeegie (and, no, I still don't know what that is). With each obstacle it was up to the singer to figure out ways to pass. Around the boulder, swim the river, through the field. And, of course, we made the appropriate sounds and motions as we sang. It was fun. At the end, we found the scary squeegie and had to race back past all the things we'd encountered in reverse order.

Now, I look at all the things we must get past and I realize that we don't stop to think about the best way, we just barge through. I think it's time to stop and really think about how to get through things. How can a person get past the financial issues they may be facing? The relationship hurts? The loneliness of children growing up? The emptiness when loved ones are gone?

We are not machines, built to trudge ahead with no regard to our hearts. We are humans, created to love, laugh, cry, dream, believe, weep, dance, sorrow, celebrate, and so much more.

We need to find the ways to be human in these things.

I hope you can find those ways.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Struggle

There are just some days when it's harder to hold onto the faith that everything will be okay. I know, in my head, that things will even out and the sparkle of the day will return. I can tell myself that the weeks of brightness weren't an aberration and that they will return. I can push myself to believe that the smiles and easy-going laughter were not the exception, but were the normal.

But when it stops abruptly, when the world just seems dismal, when it seems there isn't anywhere to turn for comfort... it is hard to keep believing.

Yes, this is where some of my moments have been. I don't share all the negative stuff simply because I think the world has enough and doesn't need mine added to it. Today, though... today feels like there is an attack coming from all fronts and I stand in the middle, doing my best to battle it all. And keeping that smile plastered to my face so that the rest of the world doesn't see how hard I'm struggling to stay on my feet. To stay cheerful. To stay positively focused on the good things.

Days like this the simple gift of knowing that I do have people out there who love me, is the only thing that keeps me going.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Storms...

Last night there was supposed to be an amazing storm. Even though I was worried about the safety of a loved one, I wanted crashing thunder and a torrential downpour. Instead it was a fairly steady rain that was more soothing than cathartic. I needed the powerful storm last night. Yes, I'll admit there were tears shed yesterday and I wanted to wash some of that hurt away. It's hard when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. And a storm would have helped ground me a bit.

Ah well, I can't control the weather, can I?

This is the second morning I've woken this early and it's a little interesting. I didn't feel tired throughout the day yesterday (even though I had a crying headache) and I'm hoping today will be the same. I have a lot of errands to run and don't want to lose my "oomph" before I've finished them all. I'll be taking some knitting with me, of course. I am finally knitting with the yarn that Pacasha (of Younger Yarn) sent to me. These socks are going to be awesome.

I have a lot in mind for crafting, but I'll leave that for later in the day. In the meantime, my focus will be on making sure all my paperwork is in order for all the changes being made. Registering my business, new IDs, update banking information, and so much more. One item on my list is a passport, but that will be happening around my birthday. What will I use it for if I can't even bring myself to get on a plane? Well, that's one of the changes coming up. I don't know where I'll go, but I'm determined to go somewhere this year. On a plane. Hopefully not by myself, though.

It's almost time to have my blood tested again. At the end of this month it will have been 6 months. I'm not nearly as nervous as I first thought I'd be. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good about the prospect. After all, I've eliminated almost all sugars and starches from my foods, I've been working out mostly regularly (there have been some times when it falls by the wayside, but never longer than a few days), and I've been meditating more (relieves stress). Yes, there are still areas in my life that cause me a great deal of stress, but I'm managing them much better, I think.

Now it's time to get those socks started so I can start the morning routine. I hope you all have a blessed day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts...

Illume

How is it that a person can cry about someone they have never met, never talked with on the phone, and only have shared a smattering of emails?

That is where I am right now. A woman I would call a friend has been going through some major crap and my heart breaks for her struggle and for her pain. There is no cure, only ways to help battle the pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and everything else that has become a part of her daily life.

For a brief moment I felt guilty at my good fortune. I am strong, healthy, and my life is filled with many blessings. I'm getting stronger daily. My body is getting healthier daily. I believe that I will walk the path on the Tor one day. And I felt guilty.

I think I know that she would shake her head at that and tell me not to. And that also makes me want to cry. I believe she's happy for me. For all the good things happening in my life. For all the progress I've shared with her in this short time we've known each other. For my happiness. And, even though I am in tears over this, I know that she would be disappointed in me, such as our friendship is, if I stopped living my life to my best ability.

~

I had to stop for a bit since this wasn't going how I'd planned when I sat down. The plan was to write about my sacred spaces and how I create them. I'll save that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Time vs. Age

Beautiful Blossoms

I wrote an email to a friend yesterday to send her birthday wishes and it occurred to me that I had no idea how old she was. I gave it a little thought and figured she was probably a little younger than me.  If I'd thought about it more I might have come to a different conclusion, after all, her kids are fully grown and have been on their own for a few years. When I read her answer this morning I started thinking about how old I am. Forty years, six months and eighteen days have passed since I was born. That seems like a lot. But when I look at how I feel and how my life is improving almost daily I realize that my age is very different. I don't really feel much older than I did when I was twenty-eight.

I'm sure it helps that I eliminated toxic chemicals from my home several years ago, along with a lot of the toiletries we had. I'm sure it helps that I've had a mostly healthy diet for the greater part of my adulthood. I'm sure it helps that I'm eating better now than I ever have.

I thought about this some more as I pedaled away on that bike. I wasn't concerned with my heart health a decade ago. I ran at the park with the kids, walked to the grocery store, danced in the living room... but that was about it. Now? I am sitting my bottom on that seat almost daily and sweating until it drips from my elbows. A decade ago I might have laughed at people who did that.

I think some of the most important factors are the ones that include my friends & loved ones. The support and energy they send out to me, whether through prayers, hugs, texts, emails, whatever, has probably helped me more than anything else to keep my feeling so vibrant and alive.

Even when I'm plagued with nightly dreams that are bad enough to wake me with a scream caught in my throat, I know that they are out there, caring about me, thinking about me, and inspiring me.

I'm sure there is a lot of scientific proof that friends are good for you. I'm in full agreement. Choose your friends wisely, be sure they make you smile, push you a little beyond your limits, cheer for your triumphs and sorrow for your tears. As time passes, I truly think your age will remain untouched.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I wonder...

Big brakes

I wonder about the future of this country so many times lately. Everywhere I turn there is anger and people shouting to be heard. There are causes that break my heart and other that make me cringe. There are people claiming to be tolerant, while sneering at other people's different views. When will it end? What kind of place will we be handing over to our children? To our grandchildren? Will they do a better job of saving the last vestiges of sanity?

I've done my best to stay out of the political arguments since I know that naught will come of it but anger and more shouting. Even in the people I think of as intelligent, there is still that need to be heard and, so, more shouting. I think the internet makes us feel that we can say what we like and we forget that there are people on the other end. Real people, with homes and lives and loved ones. The vitriol is a little frightening at times. It breeds more hate.

I will say this: It's just as wrong to tell someone that they lack intelligence because they believe in a Higher Power as it is to tell someone that they can't make decisions about their reproductive organs because they are female.

Please, when you go about your day, and you read all the articles and the comments, stop and think about how you will really affect your friends when you post your own comments. This is our world. I, for one, would rather it was filled with intelligent debate than mindless bickering.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy words

Words


Spring certainly seems to be here! I've been able to go for a walk, spend time in the back yard and even put the screens on the windows. I know, I know, we might still get a cold day, but I doubt it will be so cold that I'll regret the screens. I love being able to open the windows and let a fresher breeze come through. It feels like it's blowing away all the stale winter air.

Brianna got her first pair of track shoes today. She seems pretty happy about it and smiled when we got them. I am proud of her. She's worked through the conditioning and the training and really seems to be proud of herself, too. And, she called herself a runner today. That brought a huge smile to my face.

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Quiet...

The house has been filled with a certain energy for the last couple weeks. Excitement for a visit, the happiness of arrival, the warmth of family time. And now the house is filled with a different energy. An emptiness that makes me want to whisper instead of talk normally. And  makes me want to lay down and go back to sleep. But there is a feeling of gratitude as well. The time was well spent for the most part. He's got a good head on his shoulders and a strong heart. I miss him already, but I'm so happy for the fact that he's on his own journey.

So, now what? I think it's time to turn on the music and get on the bike. Knitting is a requirement, of course.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Family time

Thistle in the Sunshine

This past weekend has been one filled with love and laughter and I know that I will cherish the memories of it for the rest of my days. From the outside this might have all been seen as "boring" or something along those lines, but anyone who knows me, knows that the time I spend with my children and with Kevin are more special than mere words can describe.

Thursday was mostly spent just hanging out with Anthony at the mall. It was nice having that time alone with him, learning the changes in him, learning to see him as an adult. That's not always an easy thing to do, of course, but I think I'm getting better.

Friday was a wonderful family dinner with all of us. When was the last time the four of us were together? I don't know... a long time ago. We laughed at some old memories (like being slapped with butter), shared some new smiles (Father Guido), and enjoyed a new game of Munchkin. Falling asleep that night felt so peaceful and I knew that part of that was having my loved ones all together.

Saturday started with a smile and just got better as the day progressed. When I woke enough to stay awake, the kids and I got some time together. How interesting it is to see the changes in each of them over the last year! As the time continues to pass, I know things will keep changing and growing and I hope to always have the strength to see those changes as positive. Later in the day Brianna went to a friend's house while the rest of us went to dinner. I think that was one of the first times I really stopped to think about how the future will be when both of my kids are adults. It made me smile, and wistful. I don't know what that future will hold, but I am a bit comforted knowing that I won't be traveling alone.

Through this time, thoughts have been swirling around my head of the future, of the past, of the present. Of tears, of joy, of love. Of triumphs, of fears, of life. And through it all my heart is filled with the knowledge that it is all good.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reflections...

Mystery flowers in the sun



Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Now, I certainly do not pretend to know much about the whole practice, but I did do a little reading over the years. From my limited knowledge, Lent seems to be a time of quieting your soul so that you are closer to God. You refrain from indulgences and vices in order to fill the time with prayer and mindfulness. In a way (as I see it), it's a time to de-tox your body and mind so that you can be on a more spiritual path. How can that be a negative thing?

I have heard, over the years, how people are giving up chocolate or alcohol or whatever, for lent. They complain about how long the time is and how hard it will be. I used to wonder why they would give up anything at all if that's how they felt. From my point of view, it seemed that they were doing it grudgingly and that just doesn't make sense. Shouldn't an action that will bring you closer to your God be done joyfully? I think it should.

As many of you know, I do not follow the Christian path, but the thought of setting aside a period of time to reconnect with Spirit, to cleanse your Self of toxins, to learn to be more fully in the moment all seems like a really good idea. Some of my Pagan friends would shake their heads that I'm borrowing from the Christians and some of my Christian friends might just laugh. The Atheists? They'll probably just raise an eyebrow and wonder if I'm just not right in the head. Regardless, I know that my friends are cool folks anyway.

So, what am I going to do? I'm taking a page from another blog and following the daily questions listed there. I won't be looking over her answers since I want this to be wholly my thoughts with no other influence. And, I won't be posting them online. Instead my musings will be handwritten in a journal. I believe that gives them more energy.

On another note!

I spent the morning in the kitchen playing. No, not with yarns and dyes this time, but with actual food. Amazing, isn't it? I had three recipes I wanted to try out and some healthy ingredients. Some are organic like the quinoa, mushrooms, cacao nibs, and coconut milk. Others are just normal stuff.


This is a Vietnamese eggplant dish called Ca Tim Kho To. It is a lot more simple than the recipe led me to believe. I got the recipe from a friend along with a cool skein of yarn. (She has an Etsy shop here.) I had to make a couple changes to the original recipe (I didn't use rice and don't have fish sauce), but I do like how it turned out. I don't know if anyone else here will like it, but I now have two containers in the fridge for lunch or dinner.

 I was more than a little nervous about using these things I'd never even heard of before. Like sriracha sauce. I had no clue what that even was, but I picked up a bottle all the same. When I opened it the smell reminded my of red hot sauce. The sesame oil was a little like roasted seeds or something.



As you can see, I used quinoa instead of rice, and next time I will use sprouted lentils. For the record, I didn't use the chopsticks to eat this since I'm not that good at using them.

This was just a tiny serving since I knew that I'd be trying other foods this morning, too. The sauce wasn't too spicy for me and I actually liked it quite a bit. I think I cooked the eggplant a little too long so I will keep a closer eye on that next time. I may also add more garlic. I think if this was served over a bed of brown rice or even white rice, I might be able to get others to try it a little easier. After all, the quinoa might be a little too much, especially since the eggplant alone creates a couple of turned up noses. Hopefully the flavor will help with that.



 The next thing I tried was homemade hot chocolate made with coconut milk, ground cacao nibs, and stevia. I loosely based my concoction on recipes found online so that I had a base to start with. I will say this up front: I did not grind all the nibs by hand. I was going to but after several minutes with little progress I got out the little electric grinder I have.



This is probably not something most people would like. The nibs weren't completely ground so there were bits in the drink. I liked them in there. This drink reminded me a little of a chocolate shop in Asheville, NC and I am determined to keep trying. Next time I will use regular milk and will actually purchase some cacao powder. Well, not right away, perhaps before next winter. In the meantime I will try this with some of the cocoa powder (yes, there is a slight difference) that Brianna has on her shelf.
  The last recipe wasn't really a recipe at all. Instead it was  a way for me to throw together several things I like, just in a different presentation. Here you can see the chopped kale, onions, a little chicken broth and a spice blend with 22 various spices in it (they're all antioxidant).
The mushrooms didn't quite fit into the small pan I have, so I cut the rest of them into smaller pieces before sautéing them. These smell a little richer than the simple white mushrooms I usually use.
After I added the mushrooms to the kale I let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so. Once the kale started to get slightly limp I turned off the stove and let it sit for a while before adding the rest of the quinoa.


Here is a tiny portion again. I actually liked this better than the eggplant. I can think of many things to add to this such as meats, other veggies, different spices, and so much more. The good thing? It's all healthy stuff.

I will be putting this into more containers so that I have a couple choices over the next few days. I don't like going into the kitchen with the knowledge that I need to eat but don't have the time to prepare something at the moment. This way (just like my bean soups and chili), I just grab something and heat it up.

Well, it's past time for me to get on that bike. I hope you're all having a wonderful day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Don't believe it...

108: Happy Yule!
"There are people who go after your humanity, Sister. That tell you the light in your heart is a weakness. Don't believe it. It's an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of virtue." Father Brendan Flynn in the movie Doubt

That line grabbed my heart so swiftly that I wanted to write it down right away. So, the movie was paused so I could do just that (thank you). I knew that I needed to write about how it affected me.

There have been times in my life when I felt that someone was attacking the light in my heart. Attacking my actions and twisting them into something ugly. I felt the things I was doing (and had been doing) were all of a sudden taken from their special place filled with Love, and tossed out into a barren field, left to burn in the harsh desert sun. Am I being dramatic? Perhaps, but that is a part of me, too. If someone chooses to tear me down because of that, then I will do my best to send them healing energy.

How can I tell the world that if we hold onto that Light, hold it sacred and safe, that we are even closer to Spirit? How do I tell them not to let others determine how special we are? Not just the people who would try cutting us down, but the media as well. If we rise above what we hear each day, if we can keep our own inner Light glowing with Love and Strength, if we can let go of the things and people who cause us harm, what wondrous vitality we could achieve!

Hold onto your heart, and to your Spirit. Hold onto what makes you sacred. If someone tries to cause you harm, remember that you hold the key to your own beauty and Life.