Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pragmatic Positivism*


Sadness. Depression. The Blues. 

"Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." ~r. rilke

Sometimes I feel like a lot of what is said on the interwebs is always spun to the positive. We only share the good stuff, which creates a false impression of the shiny world/lives we live. And while my life is lovely, please don’t be deluded by the glittery fa├žade. I have my own challenges. Life is not perfect. But I choose to be happy. I choose to find joy. And I’m working on surrounding myself with pragmatic positivism*.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, I find a lot of depressing souls out there on the interwebs. And maybe you have valid reasons to be depressed. Medical, financial, etc. I’m not going to dare to say otherwise because I don’t really know your situation. And I would never dare to belittle what you are or have gone through.

I’m not writing this to comment on that. I’m writing this to comment on resiliency and what you put out into the universe being reflected back at you.

In your darkest moments, when you feel the most alone I want to say that it will get better. If you feel dark and never take the time to find joy, but always just expect it to show up, it never will. However, I really do think, baring medical conditions, that happiness is a choice and that you have to actively choose it. It might not get better right away. And it might not get better the way you expect it to get better, or even want it to get better. But if you are resilient by nature, it will get better because you won't allow yourself to wallow indefinitely.

When I first moved away from the west coast, I really had a hard time finding my fit into the public pagan community. I just couldn't figure out why everyone else seemed to fit better than me. I’m a likeable gal, it’s a proven and verifiable fact, I've got some amazing friends, so why weren't people liking me, dang nabbit!?! Looking back, I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt that part of my challenges when it came to building community (not all of them), stemmed from the energy that I was putting out there, bemoaning my difficulties. Yes, yours truly was gauche enough to actually whine in public about how hard it was, how people don’t seem to notice me, about why was I a shadow that is so easily forgotten, especially given that I’m so loud and opinionated by nature?

Oh the ironies of it all now! I see it clearly. I see it in others. And I see my own response to this behaviour. Of course I wasn’t attracting positivity to me. Who in their right mind would want to take on my baggage, having just met me? I wouldn’t and don’t. 

So how do we break this cycle and bring positivity back into our life in order to draw people in and enrich our world. I think it all comes down to gratitude and seeing what you already have, right now, right in front of you, even in the darkest moments. And please, keep in mind that I write this knowing that it isn’t easy. I have struggled with depression. I have the scars and the lessons to go with it. And I know when the darkness strikes, that I have to pull myself out before I’m overwhelmed.

Here’s what I do: I watch people and try to see them with love. I look for the little things that remind me that people are essentially kind and caring. I look for the moment that someone holds the door for the mother or offers a seat to the elderly person on the metro. And yes, there are a shitload of inconsiderate jerks out there who fail to notice, or pretend not to notice others around them. But when you start looking for it, you start seeing it more and more. And it comes back to you because you take the time to see and express your gratitude for it, even if only in your head. And by extension you start to see love in the world more. And the Goddess at work through us. And you start to know the Goddess in the little things and that brings hope, and with hope, joy.

Maybe this isn’t what works for you. Maybe this is just my approach. But when I look at my life, yes, I see the crap :alcoholic biological father, critical and kind of cold mother, huge student loan debts, living in the broom closet because of my in-laws, living far from my nearest and dearest, moving to suburbia, the extra 30 lbs I now carry, the fact that I feel like it has taken me too long to figure my shit out, etc, etc, etc. But I also see the good stuff: an amazing stepdad who loves me like his own, a mother who taught me independence and freedom of religion, the great education I have, in-laws who are generous of heart, this amazing city and culture I live in, the home I’m building with my husband, my overall good health and the knee that is healing, and the fact that I am in a great place and living my dreams even if at a slower pace and differently than I had anticipated! And that makes it better. That’s what I focus on, which is why I see how truly amazing my life is.

So while I think it’s important to be honest and that it can’t all be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, I do think that a little pragmatic positivism can go a really long way. You want more friends, more community, & more joy: cast a “spell” over the way you’re thinking about the world you live in. 

Expect less, appreciate more. 

Find what makes your heart sing. Remember that the Goddess is alive and afoot. Seek her and him out in the small moments of joy, generosity, and compassion. Look for her love in the faces of strangers because the world is full of small kindnesses that often go unnoticed. 
  
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*pragmatic positivism: my term. Meaning that I know that it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows but that I’m still looking for the brighter side of things. The glass is half full and I’m lucky enough to have more juice in the fridge and water in the tap! Despite every challenge, debt, disappointment, I live in Canada, which makes me part of the worldwide 1% (even if I’m part of the 99% in Canada). I choose joy, love, and gratitude for what I do have even when what I don’t have often feels overwhelming. And I know that the hard times, even if they REALLY suck, only help make me appreciate the good times that much more.

This post might get me some heated flaming. I know that. But honestly, I'm just sick of the woe is me shit that is out there and felt the need to address it, constructively. There are always exceptions to the rules, and if you feel that you're one of them, so be it. I didn't address this to anyone in particular. It is a response to an ongoing observation I've had since joining the broader public pagan community (in person and online). Again, please let me reiterate: I didn't write this with "YOU" in mind. I didn't write this in response to anyone's posts, comments, etc. It's just been something that's been stewing for a while and I wrote it because I felt the need to put it out there. It's not an attack, comment on your choice per se, or a call to a flaming war. If you see yourself in this piece, that is because of your perception, not my intention. Hopefully I have made that as clear as clear can be via the interwebs!


Monday, January 30, 2012

This Week I Am {Jan 22-29, 2012}

This week has been quiet and has consisted of a lot of this:


Yes, there's wine and a candle and a whole lotta mess. Welcome to what my tidier crafting looks like! Seriously, I'm really not joking. My husband likes to refer to my craft room (cause I'm lucky enough to have one, more on the why later) as a craft bomb (which is why he gives me my own room-- it's not a generous thing on his part, but rather a mercenary act of containment.)

Anyways, as a whole, this is my week:


I'm actually trying to switch my daily practice to the evening, so that I can up my meditation time to 20 minutes (cause let's face it, I'm really not going to get up earlier to meditate... I'm not that disciplined). But on  top of that, trying to do my practice in the evening is meeting with a fair amount of resistance on my part. I'm giving myself a bit of leeway because I'm sick, but I'm going to have to start cracking the whip soon before I fall completely off the bandwagon! Don't worry... you're not alone out there, struggling with self-discipline. My biggest motivator is having a group of good people who keep me honest.

On the up side... this gives me time to catch up on posts in the morning before work (yes, I get up that early).

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Friday, January 27, 2012

excited

Ohhh, I'm excited. I've been a busy little bee on my end, working on a new project to share with you all!


Hopefully I'll get a big chunk of it done will be able to blog about it next week!

Until then, hope you have a fantabulous weekend!


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Meme Action


AlphaBetsy tagged me in a meme game. According to the rules I need to post 11 random things about me and answer her 11 questions. I'm also supposed to tag 11 others but I don't like tagging others... If you want to play, please feel free to do so and comment with a link to your site so others can read!  


I'll start with her questions:

1. What is your favourite children’s/cartoon character, and why?

For nostalgia’s sake, I have to say the Smurfs. I loved the Smurfs as a child. I even had Smurf pj’s. I even watched them in French. And speaking of French cartoons, I love the Barbapapas. In fact, watching it now I realize where my love of yurts and round houses came from. Totally from les Barbapapas! Who says TV can influence children?

2. Are you a tv watcher? What are your favourite shows?

Am I a TV watcher? Sadly, yes. I watch too much TV. My saving grace/excuse is that I watch it while crafting, and I spend a lot of time crafting!
Shows I’m watching now: Big Bang Theory, Grimm, Fringe, Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, Dexter, Being Erica, The United States of Tara, Whitney (because seriously, they could be me and my partner)…

Shows I have loved: Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica,  The X Files. You’re probably seeing a bit of theme here. I love fantasy and Sci Fi. Or things about socially inept people!  I’m not even going to look into why that might be!

3. Do you have a guilty pleasure? What is it? 

TV? Ice Cream. Shopping. In no particular order but about equally as guilty. Memes... which are a totally guilty pleasure that I like to indulge in but know that many hate so I keep them hidden!

4. Do you wear jewelry? Do you have a favorite piece? Why? 

Oh yes, I wear jewelry. I don’t plaster myself in the stuff but for some reason I’m particularly known for it. In gift exchanges people tend to buy me jewelry because they know it’s a safe purchase.  I’ve even had students who insist on giving gifts, who have bought me jewelry (costume, don’t worry) because they know I wear it regularly.

My favourite piece? Just one? Right now it has to be the amber bracelet that my Grandma gave to me, which originally belonged to her Grandmother. But there’s also that stunning piece that I bought at the outdoor market in New York 2 years ago and the upcycled silver lotus necklace my husband bought me… and….

5. How did you come to blogging?

I actually came to blogging a long time ago through a friend. I would say about 5-6 years ago.

6. What is your favorite way to unwind after a hard day?

Booze? Ok, I know, I'm NOT supposed to write that but honestly? A gin & tonic or glass of wine over a conversation/meal with my friends or my husband is just the best. Other things I do of the non alcoholic variety to unwind? Scrapbook. Paint.

7. If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world where would you go?

Again with the one choice. Morocco. No, Turkey. No, southern India. South of Spain. Thailand. 

8. If you could be a character in any book, which book would you be written into? What part would you play?

The spry, clever, but slightly devious female, like Rachel McAdams' character, Irene Adler, in Sherlock Holmes. Or Dorian from the Picture of Dorian Grey. Or one of the witches from an Anne Rice novel. I like the complex, not perfect character. I don't wanna be no goody two shoes. 

9. What is your favorite fairy tale, and why?

Little Red Riding Hood because I use it all the time with to illustrate the deeper meaning beyond "don't talk to strangers" when talking about writing a thesis/essay. I love the Freudian interpretation of how the story itself is a metaphor for girls coming of age and learning to recognize the dangers that their ripening sexuality now presents them with, from an educational perspective in understanding literary techniques being used to convey meaning. But really, Angela Carter's book, The Bloody Chamber is just the cat's meow when it comes to rewriting women into the fairy tale narrative/dialogue. Screw the Prince, I can rescue myself, dang nabbit!

10. Do you speak more than one language? What languages do you speak? What languages would you like to learn?

English, obviously. Mais je suis bilingue, donc je parle, ecris, et lis le francais aussi. No habla espagnol (dos cervasas por favor). I would love to learn Spanish and relearn Dutch. When I was a child I could speak: English, French, Polish, and Dutch. Now I only speak French and English. I should probably learn Slovenian because of my in-laws.

11. Have you read or watched Eat, Pray, Love? Where would you go to Eat? Pray? Love?

Yes, and Yes. 

Eat: India.

Pray: This is a toss up for me: either somewhere hot with beautiful landscapes and solitude spaces like I imagine Ethiopia to be, or somewhere in rural Thailand, or somewhere on the west coast, but away from home... so Oregon or Washington, by the sea.

Love: Vienna. Northern Italy. Paris.

Now on to 11 random bits about yours truly:

1. I almost dropped out of High School. Not because I wasn't capable but because I was bored senseless and hated school that much.

2. I now have a Master's degree and work in education!

3. I hate the colour Salmon. Or Puce. To the point that just the names make me cringe. Blech.

4. I've been a vegetarian for 19 years

5. I love to travel. It's the only thing in my life that I've ever been sure of. If you ask me what I want to do when I grow up, my answer is and was always: travel. If I could just travel, all of the time, I would. I'm not someone who needs a home base. I could live out of a suitcase forever, going from one place to another. Deciding to stay here, with my husband, was one of the hardest decisions for me to make because it meant not traveling the globe like I envisioned. And he knew that going in. That he would have to let me go in order to keep me. Since we've been married (2 years) I have gone away without him 6 times and away with him 3 times. I've had to learn to accept that I'm not like others this way. Travel is not a want, it is a need for me.

6. Most of my friends, not so secretly, fear that I'm going to one day drop everything and disappear.

7. I can't wear orange or yellow, or a lot of reds. They make me look sick. Like green/yellow in the face sick

8. I can't sit still or else I start yawning. I shift all the time. I fiddle. I do multiple things while watching movies, TV, etc.

9. I obsess over things. First it was my graduate thesis, then wedding planning, next crafting, the house, now babies. I'm kind of an all or nothing kind of gal.

10. I almost always take on more than I can handle. I have a history of working 3 jobs at once. And I had to force myself to stop. It was very hard for me when I first had all this extra time that I usually filled with work. So now I craft. I need projects. I know this makes me sound very type A, and in some ways I am... but I'm not really competitive so I'm not sure. I just need to be busy with things, active or quiet, doesn't matter.

11. I hate video games. That's right. I don't get them. They hold no interest to me. One of my husband's fondest New Year's memories is playing Guitar Hero with his close group of friends and their partners. I wanted to die. I was so bored out of my fricken mind. I play video games for all of 15 mins and I'm done. I have dated gamers who have tried. To no avail. I just don't see the appeal of it. It's like gambling to me: I have better things to do with my money and time. No offense to the gamers out there. I will just never be part of that club. Even though I love board games. Even though I love fantasy and sci fi. Even though I love Felicia Day and the Big Bang Theory.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

pagan art journaling {week 52}

This is it, the last week in a year long project! To be honest, I'm pretty impressed that I made it this far!

For the last weekly prompt, I opted for: As Above, So Below


If you squint (or click on the photo to enlarge it), you'll see that at the bottom of the page I've written: "the first step is completion and the last is beginning" which, for me, sort of captures part of the circular nature of the "As Above, So Below" concept. There's more to it, to be sure, but when I look at it through the lens of the Tree of Life, I very much see them being part of one another.


While I working on this page, I was thinking a lot about the ending of this project and what I wanted to do next. Of all my thoughts, this is what came out most clearly: I don't ever want to do 12x12 page art journaling again! Holy smokes people.. the size of the page gets a little daunting at times. So I am glad to see that come to a close! 52 weeks of such a huge canvas has been a mixed blessing (self-imposed of course).

On a more inspiring note though, I was thinking about how I've been using art to build community and see the divine in all of you. I believe that the God and Goddess are alive in all of us, and this project has been something of a reflection of that for me. Some topics have been complete road blocks for me... from picking the topic that week (no inspiration for a topic), to figuring out what to draw, to struggling with journaling that was either too simplistic or too secretive or too personal. And then, there were these moments of complete awe and inspiration that came through me, like a sign that the Gods are watching over me. For example, I chose the topic "Afterlife" the week before my biological father died, not even knowing he was sick.The timing was uncanny. And some of your comments and insights along the way have further cemented that feeling, for example when I was writing about the Guardians of the Watchtowers. It's been amazing to see how art can be a conduit for the divine, either as a means of transmission or of reception, especially .. or even if... the artist in question wasn't always feeling particularly inspired!

So even though I'm at the end of a journey, I feel like I'm right back where I began, only on another level, looking at the same question: how can art be a part of our spiritual practice and what can it bring to us as a means of contemplation, meditation, or communication with the Divine? And I think that that is particularly fitting as a question to mark the beginning and the end, and the end and the beginning of this year in light of the concept of "As Above, So Below."

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Week I am {Jan 16-22, 2012}

I feel like I haven't been here much lately. Odd, but true. I think it's because I've just been so busy with other crafts and such, and yet I haven't been writing about them here so it feels like I've been absent.

Whatever, I'm all about writing without obligation. This isn't a paid gig... no pressure!


On top of which... my jaunt back home left me sick. Sick as a dog sick. Sicker than I've been in a good long while. Yeah. You get the idea. It wasn't pretty. No sirree! Not pretty at all!

On the other hand though... it's been good for reading and quiet winter days inside. Hope you're all doing well on your end.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

pagan art journaling {week 51}

This week's prompt: self portrait


When thinking about this prompt, I knew that I wanted to capture more than just a self-portrait. I wanted to capture the roles I play and the roles others expect of me, both in my muggle world and my spiritual world.

I've been told that I am many things in my life: temperamental, moody, opinionated, outgoing, funny, patient, smart, an old soul, etc. In my practice I've been told that I'm intuitive but need to control too much so I suffocate my own abilities, I've been told that I know more than I'm willing to acknowledge or let out, I've been told that I'm a High Priestess who just doesn't recognize it yet. 


For me, I tell myself that I am a shy person who has worked hard to break free of my shyness (successfully I might add since most can't believe it of me), I am loyal, a complainer with an optimistic heart, I am kind, and that despite many hardships in my life, I am incredibly blessed. In fact, being blessed is something that ties into my spiritual narrative because even though I have struggled with the divine, I have always had, in those deep quiet moments of the soul, known that I am watched over. As a magical practitioner, I am analytic, but willing to suspend my disbelief in order to be open to the possibility, I am earnest if not always diligent, I'm always looking to find the best in others, and when I trust it, quite intuitive about things and people. I have rarely been wrong in my first impressions, even though I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

As I keep working on my path, I am trying to find a way to bridge the divide and bring each realm into realization in every moment. It's like one of my yoga teacher's once said, you have to bring your practice off your mat and into your life. Remember the peace that you get during practice and try to manifest it in your everyday world, especially when it's hard.

What about all of you? What are the roles you play or are given, both in your muggle life and in your magical life?
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

one year

Happy 1 year blogo-versary to me!

That's right, today marks the day that I officially launched this site out on the web. Before then, this space was somewhere else, and completely hidden from the public gaze. So if you've gone back and read old posts... they're unearthed, transferred posts from my private musings blog. Aradia's Cauldron the blog/project is 1, as of today!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Thanks for joining me along the way! I have loved all your comments, thoughts, insights, etc. It's been an amazing year.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Updates

Random update during my travels (random, sometimes personal, and definitely all over the place)!

Home

This week has been busy but rewarding, spending time revisiting old haunts, hanging on the beach, meeting an online friend, quality time with the famn damily, and perusing through old photos for future scrapbook projects.

The photos were a particularly nostalgic but bittersweet experience as I spent a good few hours going through my Grandma's photos, looking at my father when he was a child, talking about memories of him. On some level, I guess it was a goodbye of sort (he passed away at the end of August).

I was once told that if we move away from home we need to return to our home in order to reconnect at least once every 2 years in order to re-sync our energies. I don't know if it's true but in some ways it feels true. Walking the beach by my Grandparents home and reconnecting with my Dad's family this week has been a really grounding and soothing experience, one that has helped me feel like I've closed the door on my father's death.

This is the exact beach I grew up on and the view
from my Grandparents' backyard! I miss this beach.
That said, sometimes coming home is hard. I miss the ocean, mountains, and rain. I may be one of the very few people who will ever say that, but the mists and evergreens make me homesick and always will. This morning I was driving down Vancouver Island and saw a sunrise that just filled me with awe. It looked something like this (minus the artsy Orca):

Roy Henry Vickers
I love where I live now, it's lovely full of culture and energy and generally rocks. But I will always feel like the west coast is the most beautiful place in Canada. I know I'm biased but that's just a little how it goes! How can I not when I have the most amazing views?

Art Journals

But that said, onto totally different topics! I have figured out what my last two 52 weeks prompts will be! Yay. How can it be almost over? I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left. I know that all of the people who joined in have sort of left the project to the wayside, but thanks for joining when you did and I hope that you enjoyed the bits you did do.

At this point I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I know that I want to do something new but have yet to figure out what that will look like.

2012 Projects

What sort of projects have you opted to start or stop this year? I have opted to do Project Life, which so far seems life fun. I was in a scrapbook store on the island the other day and the lady there who was super nice,  really quite lovely,  said that by the time the year was done she was so sick of the project but she did it as a photo a day type of project, which is a bit overwhelming. I tried to do a 365 photo project, but honestly it was just huge and too much for me. I'm doing it as a more casual record so I hope that I won't find it quite so daunting.

I am particularly excited to do Project Life because this is the year that my husband and I plan on starting a family. I like the fact that this album will sort of be a record that starts with the start of our extending the family. Exciting, scary, but all in all, good!

So yeah, the other project this year is obviously making a baby. Oh yeah, baby, it's baby making time. [cue porn music]!  I know, too much information right? Oh well, I'm in a ramble and have probably lost most of my readers by now because this post is getting so long!

That's it for now. Hope 2012 is treating you well so far.




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pagan art journaling {week 50}

This week's prompt: affirmations


Ok, this week is a bit random but it was were the inspiration muse took me. So I went with it! I secretly like me some daily affirmations, even though I think they're cheesy. Go figure. I like being an oxymoron, or study in paradoxes, what can I say.


What are some of your spiritual quirks?


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Friday, January 6, 2012

this week I am {jan 1st - 6th}

This week... is a little shorter than a full week because I wanted to post a week update before flying away (see here if you missed that update)!


Now that the holiday rush is over (including college students and finals), I'm starting to feel excited and energetic again. Just in time for the new semester. Yay? I don't know what it is, maybe I'm determined to be a perpetual student, but the beginning of a semester always feels like a time of new energy and positivity.

And, while I was listening to her before, I'm currently obsessed with Florence and the Machine.



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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

pagan art journaling {week 49}

This week's prompt: influential pagans



Who has influenced you along the way? Who was the first, the most, and current pagan who influences or inspires you the most?


I decided to write about a past influence, because I spent a fair amount of time exploring the Reclaiming community and Feri tradition because of Starhawk. I may not agree with everything she says, but she had a huge influence on my early explorations down this path.

These days I have to admit that my influences are more Hermetic, Buddhist, or Hindu. Regardless of where my adventures have led me, I think that pagans who are willing to be out and outspoken have the potential of offering a lot to our community, even if sometimes we aren't pleased with what they say or represent. Why, you may ask? Because each and every one of us found our way here, due in large part, to those who were brave, foolish, or attention whores enough, to share their path with the world. (I wrote that tongue in cheek but I do have a fair amount of admiration for our outspoken voices).

So what about the rest of you? Who influenced or influences you?

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a new year


It's been a while: I feel like I went from blogging regularly, to regularly not blogging!

It's January now, and I'm sure everyone is all holiday'd out, but I said that I'd share my December Daily album, so I am. Here's a quick glance of what my December looked like.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Lucky for me, I have one! Woo hoo!

Thanks to my fantabulous husband, I go back to work for a day (because I have to be there for something related to my work dossier), only to take off for a week to go visit some of my nearest and dearest.

How sweet is that? I know, it's pretty fracken awesome!

In other news...

I decided to do another year of One Little Word. This year I chose the word balance.



The last year I wanted to nurture my creativity and I did so.... a little to the exclusion of all else. This year, I want to find balance in my life, between my creativity, family, friends, health, and spirituality. A tall order, perhaps, but one that I wanted to focus my energies on this year.

What about the rest of you? How were your holidays and what are your resolution(s) for the year ahead?

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