Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Sometimes I do things just because I am expected to, even if it isn't the best thing to do in the long run. Do I alway realize it?  No.  When/If I do realize it, do a always change my actions?  Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also "No" -- but, I do try to make adjustments as much as possible.

Sometimes, it just makes life easier if I give others what they want or expect -- for me, that is, not necessarily others.  I struggle with anxiety issues (have for years) and sometimes I find that what is best for my stress levels is not exactly the best way forward for others.  I recently realized (with the help of a good friend) that I was allowing others to require documentation from me that they did not have any legal right to ask for.  I was buying into the popular belief that 1) I was required to have such documentation and 2) that they had the right to ask for proof of that documentation.  By carrying around such information and making it available, I was supporting the position that it was required.  But, more importantly, I was making it difficult for the next person that happened along.

By providing the documentation when it was requested, I was making my life easier.  I was able to avoid any kind of confrontation and did not have to deal with the stress and anxiety that such exchanges can produce in me.  But, what about the next person who comes along and then has to deal with the expectation that my compliance helped to strengthen?  By making my life easier, I was actually making the lives of others more difficult.  In this particular situation, I am happy to say that I have changed my actions.  I hope that I am able to do that more frequently than not.

Expectations can be difficult to ignore -- even if they are not the right thing to do!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Giveaway and An Elusive Ritual

First, I want to call everyone's attention to Mother Moon's First Year of Blogging Anniversary!  She is celebrating with a great giveaway (actually THREE).  Check out her giveaway post for the details (or click on the button to the left).  While you are there, be sure to check out her blog - she has a wonderful knack for writing about just the thing you need to hear (or maybe that is just me -- but check it out and see).

The other thing that I wanted to share is another segment in my "Not Paganism 101" series.  For those who are just joining me, this series is an attempt at identifying a 'next step' option in Pagan practice.  It shares some of the ways that I manage to incorporate my spirituality into my daily practice.  It tries to go beyond the elementary information provided in most books on the various Pagan paths that are out there.  While my experiences may not be the right next step for you, hopefully they will provide a seed that you can take and transplant into your own lives and allow to grow in a way that nurtures your spiritual path.

Okay -- enough of the disclaimer . . . on to the sharing!

This weekend a friend of mine had a birthday and, to celebrate, invited a few people over for the evening.  It was a very small gathering and, though all of us were friends of the Birthday Girl, many of us had never met each other.  Despite this, we all got along wonderfully and had some very interesting and 'deep' discussions.  On top of that, the party took place in a lovely canopied area which was open to the outside.  At one point, the skies opened and we had a wonderful summer rainstorm complete with thunder and lightening.  For me, this entire evening was what I will call an Elusive Ritual.  

Why and Elusive Ritual?  Because there is no one thing that happened that most people would identify as ritualistic.  If you were to speak to anyone that was in attendance that evening, I feel confident that NONE of them would describe the evening as ritualistic in any way -- and most would not even describe it as a spiritual experience.  But to me, the entire evening from start to finish was a spiritual, and even ritualistic, experience.  All of us were there to celebrate the life of a particular individual; all of us were forming connections and really 'being' with each other; despite many of us being complete or mostly strangers, no one left without giving every other person a heartfelt hug (not the 'lean toward each other but touch as little as possible' hug); we spoke of things like religion, charity, and loves; we teased each other; we laughed; we ate; we truly experienced each other with open hearts and non-judgmental hearts.  How is that not a spiritual experience??  The inclusion on the rain, lightening, and thunder did nothing to dampen our spirits -- in fact, we all reveled in the experience -- even when some of us got a little wet.

One thing that I just remembered seems significant, though I am not sure of its meaning yet . . . the party was out in the middle of no where with little nearby for at least a mile.  Despite that, we found a young kitten on the property.  When I say young, I am talking about 7-8 weeks.  She had a great set of lungs on her.  Maybe she was escaping the coyotes, maybe she was just wandering -- regardless, she was rescued and will likely find a wonderful home.

So, for me, that party was a spiritual experience.  Even without drawing a circle, I was in a sacred space.  Even without a formal structure, we celebrated and acknowledged our connections.  For me, this was an example of how ritual can be present in my life even when no one around me is actually aware of it.  Have you ever experienced an Elusive Ritual?  I would love to hear about your mundane sacred experience . . .

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

'Tuning In'

Sobeit over at In the Mists of Avalon uploaded a post titled Metaphor as Life where she states: As living human beings, we all have the ability to tune in to our inner guidance system and gain perspective in our present circumstances.  She then provides a list of questions we can all use to help us 'tune in' that, based on her post, look like they may originate from The Celtic Spirit by Caitlin Matthews.  So, I thought I would give it a go here . . . especially since I have begun working on my revisions (again) and am finding it very challenging.

First question: How do I describe myself in my present circumstances? What do I feel like? (For example, 'powerless, like a car with a dead battery'; unheard, like someone singing in a hail storm'; 'over-burdened, like a head of state.')  
Impotent!  As I return to this project, I find that I am running into the same difficulties.  I am, once again staring at a blinking curser . . . I see a blank space waiting to be filled.

Next question:  How would I describe my normal sense of spiritual connection? (For example, 'like receiving Morse code in a foreign language'; 'nurturing and strong, like bathing in a hot pool')
Normally, my spiritual connection feels very solid and steady -- like a large, boulder deeply imbedded in the earth.  Usually, it is a very stabilizing and grounding thing in my life.

Third question:  What is the nature of help that my spiritual allies can bring to me now? What do I need? (For example, 'space and time'; 'a beautiful and deserted beach in the sun')
Inspiration; a return of my ability to translate my thoughts and understanding into the written word; help in fulfilling the academic requirements before me.  Images that come to mind are the Hierophant and a lit lightbulb.

Final question:  How do I envisage my return to a place of clear understanding? (Draw upon the images and metaphors that you graphically describe in your earlier responses. Meditate upon the help you need right now. Let your own metaphors give you guidance and support.)
Well now, THAT would be the problem!  I have tried many techniques and none have worked.  Yet, I still keep plugging away . . .  Anyone have any thoughts?

So, what does this all tell me about my present circumstances?  Hmmm . . .  maybe some meditation on the subject is in order . . . 

What do you do when you get writer's block -- specifically "academic" writer's block.  I seem to be able to write, in general . . . except when it comes to my dissertation!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Check this out!

Recently, I learned of a wonderful new organization called Paws and Stripes.  It is dedicated to pairing Rescue Dogs and returning Veterans with various disabilities and impairments that are a result of their service to the United States.  It then provides for the training of both the four- and two-legged members of that pair until they become a strong Service Dog/Companion Partnership.  Regardless of your position on the military activities of this country, these men and women deserve an opportunity to re-enter society.  As the website says; "Paws and Stripes strives to bring peace and normalcy to the lives of our nation's heroes and see that homeless dogs not only find a loving home, but a new purpose in life."

Not only does this organization provide loving and dedicated animals with a great home and an amazing job, it also helps some very deserving men and women to heal, gain strength, and regain confidence and independence.  Yes, the earth is crying out but so are many men and women who have experienced trauma and tragedy in the service of the United States.  As a witch, I honestly believe that it is not just my responsibility to care for Mother Earth, but to also care for everything on Her.  Paws and Stripes addresses two very important issues (canine overpopulation and disabled Veterans) and provides a wonderful solution to these difficult problems.

This may be a shameless plug, but who cares!  Take a look at this great organization.  If you have a Disabled Veteran in your family, or if you know of someone who does, PLEASE tell them about Paws and Stripes.  It may be the best thing that you ever do for them and will be a wonderful way of thanking them for everything that they have sacrificed for their country and its citizens.  The cause is awesome and the trainers they are using are fabulous!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Living in the NOW

I was reading Art from My Heart the other day . . .

(brief pause for a shameless plug -- go check out Marie's creations!  She has a knack for embodying the spiritual in her pieces and makes beautiful custom pieces upon request)

and saw this quote:

"May today there be peace within you. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Apparently a friend of hers sent it to her with the instructions to pass it on.  Regardless of its ultimate origins, these words express a state of being that is both healthy and empowering.  Some of my best times in life have been when I have truly managed to live those words -- and some of my worst have been when I have completely forgotten to live in the moment, at peace, and 'in love'.  

I find it helps if I take a little time each day to appreciate  . . . anything . . . everything . . . at least one thing.  Most often I do this while walking the dog.  Usually this works best for me because there is always something that I see that triggers my appreciation.  It seems that these particular thoughts of appreciation and contentment are sparked in me through movement rather than stillness.  Meditation in my life is a very different thing.  Sitting quietly, in silence -- just being and breathing -- is more about grounding and overcoming the stresses of the day.  But it is when walking the dog or digging in the garden that I am able to embrace where and who I am and be joyful.

What do you do to live these very important words?  Do you realize it in stillness?  In those brief moments between wakefulness and sleep?  Pounding the living daylights out of a body bag?  Running a marathon?  We are all such diverse creatures -- what moments work for you?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Which is the greater offense?

Well, blogger being down last week (yes, I was one of the lucky few who was affected) apparently threw off my schedule!  I could have sworn that I posted mid-week, but when I sat down to prepare my weekend post, I discovered that I have not posted since Monday -- oops!  Interestingly enough, this discovery is relevant to my intended topic for today (gotta luv the whole serendipity thing!).

Recently, due to unexpected circumstance, I had to neglect my blogosphere "responsibilities".  I put the word responsibilities in quotes because, I vacillate back and forth between feeling an obligation to post with some regularity and feeling that blogging needs to be a relaxing outlet form me (at least at this stage).  I must admit that, the longer I did not post, the more my feelings leaned toward the 'failing to fulfill an obligation' side of things.  Interestingly, discovering that I had 'missed' my mid-week post this week didn't really bother me.  Maybe it has something to do with intent -- when I was 'gone' for a month, I made conscious decisions not to post because I was either sick or playing catch up; this week I didn't choose not to post, it just didn't happen!  Yeah, even analyzing the different reactions in myself, it doesn't exactly make complete sense -- but then brainstorming on the fly doesn't alway make sense at first.  So, I will let that percolate for a bit and see what brews . . .

As I frantically attempted to catch up with all of the blogs that I was following, it became clear that I was not alone.  For various reasons, a number of bloggers had not posted to their blogs -- some were ill, some had experienced life situations that required their focused attention, and some had just needed some solitude.  Regardless of the reason, as I read those "touch base" posts, I realized that, for many, a failure to post was not the initial concern.  Sure, apologies were made and explanations given.  But, as I read the blogs of those who had not posted as much as they would have liked, their concern tended to be centered on their inability to keep up with reading and/or commenting on the blogs that they regularly followed.  

I must admit that I was daunted by the number of posts that I had not been able to read.  Apparently, Google Reader stops counting at 1000 unread posts and for days all I saw was 1000+ for DAYS!  On top of that, I have different accounts and pretty much all of them had 1000+ unread posts.  I admit, I skimmed more posts than I would have liked.  But, I really wanted to support my fellow bloggers by reading what they had taken the time to write and put out there for others to ponder.  That felt like a very important thing to do.

So, what is more important to you: keeping a regular posting schedule or staying on top of reading the blogs that you follow -- and why?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Support, Energy, Prayers, etc. . . .

Well, I’m ready!

This is a big week!  I begin working on a project that is very important for a number of reasons and has run into obstacle after obstacle for the past three (YIKES!) years!  I have put myself in a financial position that will allow me to treat this project as if it is a full time job.  Of course, finances will be very tight, but ultimately I believe it will be worth it.  I have produced a work schedule and have either weekly or bimonthly goals, depending on the aspect of the project being focused on, and plan on working for forty hours each week on it.  As each goal is reached, that week ‘s (or two) of work will be submitted for review.  Ultimately, the whole thing should be finished and ready to go sometime in October.  Actually, the whole thing will be sent in for review by the end of September, but it will take time for it to be reviewed – and then there might be final revisions needed. 

With all of these preparations, you would think that I have this thing all figured out . . . but here is the thing . . . while I have managed to eliminate many of the things that have interfered with my ability to work on and complete this project, there is one thing that I have not been able to remove.  What could that be, you ask?  Frankly, it is the demands of family.  In the past, I have tried very hard to make sure that the needs of family are met while putting boundaries in place.  Things like saying, “Ok, I can help you do ________ until noon, and then I need to work on my revisions.”  This has proven to be ineffective because that deadline is not respected and I have been a wimp and not enforced it. 

So, here is where I need the help.  Anything that anyone out there can do to help me to be firm in my resolve to work on this project for forty hours a week and not allow family demands to step all over my goal would be greatly appreciated.  I find it difficult to set these kinds of boundaries (which is funny, because I am quite good at it in other situations!).  It is my hope that my family will respect my need to complete this project – but I also need to be prepared if they do not.  The fact is, this is pretty much the last chance I will be given to finish this – if I don’t manage to stick to this last schedule – well, you get the idea.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers over the next few months and I will most likely keep you posted (after all, how can I not blog about this if that is my main focus!).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Just Gotta Laugh . . .

Today was one of those days that we all have . . . anything that could go wrong did go wrong.  People were stomping all over my last nerve pretty much all day.  I managed to get very little of what I had planned done (though I did manage to get some things done -- just not what I had planned).  Everything took about 3 times longer than anticipated.  I admit, I found myself getting more and more frustrated as the day went on -- even my normal coping techniques failed me.  Then, as was inevitable, the incident that was the final straw happened.  But, instead of exploding, all I could do was LAUGH!

As I look back on the day, I realize that each annoying event was really quite minor but for some reason today they had a much greater impact than it would have normally.  It makes me wonder what was going on astrologically because I was obviously completely out of whack.  It was not until the absurdity of the day hit me that I started to loosen up.  Hey, we all have them . . . and we have a choice . . . are we going to blow a gasket or do we (eventually) manage to shrug it off and say "You Just Gotta Laugh!"?

Here is hoping that everyone manages to laugh more times than not!

An 'Aha' Moment!

Recently, I wandered over to Divining Women and read a post that gave me some idea of why I have been feeling so on edge lately.  I was wondering why such minor things were causing such internal violent reactions.  So violent that they were seeping out and affecting my reactions to everyday life challenges.  Thank you Not Hannah!  I was beginning to think that I was going insane!

Finally, I made the connection!  I was reacting to all of the horror, rage, and frustration that has become heightened as the oil continues to GUSH into the Gulf.  That, combined with the distress, fear, and deaths of all of those beloved creatures, has been gnawing away at me -- getting worse and worse each day.  I find I have no patience; I am angry; I am snappy and irritable.  

I knew all about the oil spill, of course, but have diligently avoided all of the imagery that is out there.  Hearing about it is bad enough.  If 9/11 taught me anything it was that seeing horrible images over and over again plays havoc with my psyche -- so, whenever possible I refrain from viewing such horrible sights.  I remember the images from the Exxon Valdez incident all those years ago -- I don't need to see beautiful creatures in such distress again -- it was horrible enough the first time and in the years since I have actually gotten more sensitive to these kinds of things, not less.  Just hearing about what is happening tears at my emotions -- I would  become hysterical if I actually saw what was happening!  The few images I have seen were horrific and are seared into my brain as it is.  

I commend all of you who can and do view those horrible sights over and over again.  I just can't do it without risking severe, debilitating depression.  I will be meeting at the water on the New Moon and helping our Mother to heal from this horrible, toxic event.