Monday, August 26, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 30

This week's prompt: Rites of Passage

What elements do you think are necessary in a rite of passage? What rites of passage have had the most meaning for you and why?

I'm not one for rites of passage. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think they're really important I just struggle with them and tend to avoid them like the plague.

For example, I attended neither my BA or MA graduation ceremonies. I did High School and that was enough. I tried to avoid having a conventional wedding shower, opting instead for something far more low key. And I vetoed having a baby shower.

Why? Simply because rites of passage always leave me feeling disappointed. I build them up too much. I have stupid internal conversations with myself about this, telling myself not to expect too much, only to still hold hope for some big life changing moment that will inevitably never be realized because honestly, how could it be in the context of what is traditional?

A rite of passage in our traditional modern context centers around people gathering, food, and gifts, none of which really encourage transformation or even necessarily much celebration of said transformation. I think, as I am about to write this, that I have fully become my mother's daughter, in that while I also want the hoopla that society has taught me to expect, more than anything I want the meaning back. I want less things and more stories. I want less consumerism and more thought.

I want less expectation and more appreciation.

And I want to remember to have the grace and open-heartedness to remember that from the people I love the most.

What do I mean by that?

Just this: that I can be moved to tears by the actions of people when I don't expect things from them, fully appreciating the kindness and thoughtfulness of their actions, the same actions that those nearest and dearest to me make all the time but that I don't see clearly because with friendship/family and familiarity comes the fact that I expect things and thus, take them for granted when I get them.

For example, my coworkers hosted a baby shower for me. I walked out of my office and saw all that they did and almost burst into tears. Shh, don't tell them.

Why was I moved to tears? Because I walked out of my office to see tables set with flowers, a diaper cake, a full spread of food, a beautifully hand made sign, etc., and honestly I never expected so much from them. Ever. In fact, I was uncomfortable in some ways by how much had been done because I felt bad that we hadn't done as much for my male colleague when he had his son. I didn't know what to do with their generosity.

But here's the thing, I would never have had the same level of reaction if my friends had done the same. And that's just not right and bears some thought in terms of how I build up expectations towards others.

My reaction, up till now, has been to scrupulously avoid all rites of passage in order to avoid really dealing with this side of myself honestly. The kicker... is that I was recently reminded that in so doing, I deny the people nearest me the means of expressing their own joy and celebration over the big things happening in my life.

I really am a complex beast aren't I?

Suffice to say, my good friend V put me in my place and "demanded" that she be able to celebrate baby with me. In so doing, she gave me an unexpected gift, life lesson, and profound rite of passage that I had been looking for. I may never be a woman who wants to celebrate transitions in conventional ways and I may never fully find balance within my own reactions/actions in regards to my expectations and appreciation (though I am working on it), but I am also someone who is grateful for doing some of the fun traditions out there to celebrate the birth of baby Faye.

things you don't know about your body until you add henna: belly button is off-centered. who knew?

So thank you V and work ladies who organized my work shower. Between the 3 of you, intentionally or not, you gave me an amazing rite of passage that forced me to grow, examine, and celebrate. I am truly grateful for the gift.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

a little scrapbooked gratitude

Slowly but surely I'm finding small ways to bring creativity back into my "routine". For the moment that means working on a traditional scrapbook layout a week, based on a prompt from Ali Edward's Hello Story course.

I only started in week 5, but I knew going in that this was likely to be the case. Last week I wrote about motherhood and the choice to be or not to be. This week I went a little simpler with a page about gratitude, something that very much ties into things I like to talk about in this space, so I thought I'd share it. You know, just cause I'm a sharing kind of gal:

I'm actually trying to use up things that I never use but have in my stash because of kits or gifts, hence the orange and wood grain, which are trendy but not really my thing per se. You know?

The last few weeks have been a rough transition, full of ups and downs that have brought out the best and worst of me. Somewhere along the way, because of the chaos, I've stopped remembering to take time to jot down at least one thing that I'm grateful for. And let's face it, that's totally ok given where I'm at and even before Baby Faye came around, my entries were a little lackluster because the scope of my world had narrowed down so much while I hovered around home, huge, ripe and waiting for his arrival.

I haven't started writing things down again, but I am getting back into the headspace of trying to remember to be more grateful. In hard times like these, gratitude is sometimes what makes the difference between seeing the glass half empty or half full. Lately I've had too many half empty days. It's time to change that.

So what are you grateful today?

Today I'm grateful for:

  • Dancing to the Pixies with my son as I bounced him to sleep (Monkey gone to Heaven is surprisingly a bounce friend dance song).
  • Finally figuring out what the little hut in the middle of no where is for (it's a pee/lunch break spot for city bus drivers)
  • That I have done 2 days of exercise (walking and crunches etc.). 
  • Mr Faye is out buying groceries and being a supportive baby daddy/husband
  • That after a few rough days, Baby Faye is sleeping and eating well today 
  • The fact that I'm starting to take steps that widen the scope of my baby mama world... listening to podcasts, reading blogs again, chatting with new friends, having people over and actually venturing out to see others. It's big. I don't do stay at home well. It's going to be a long year and I can tell it's vital for me to get out and about for my mental health.
And finally.... that I've had a chance to visit this space again. It feels like it's been a while. 


Monday, August 19, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 29

This week's prompt: Nudity in Ritual

Do you think nudity in ritual is necessary? Old fashioned? A distraction? What role do you think it plays in your practice?

I have mixed feelings about nudity in practice. On one level I think it's completely unnecessary because it creates distraction, on another, I see how the journey of moving past our hang ups about body can serve as a vital lesson in letting go of "ego".

For my own work, nudity is not something that I practice in ritual, in group or alone, but I see how clothing can contribute to the boundaries and rhetoric of otherness that comes through comparison and the unknown. For example, how many women walk into rooms and immediately assess where they fit on the scale of the skinniest, chubbiest, prettiest, or ugliest in the room? On some levels, taking off clothing would aggravate this head game, but on others, over time hopefully, seeing other women in all their glory, would help us remember that all of our bodies are beautiful, unique, and yet the same. Though I think, given how deeply ingrained this self-talk is, this process would take a great many of us (male or female) a long time to let go of, and as such, I am grateful that it is not something I need to work on in my practice with others.

I recognize my own struggle with this issue and although I am saddened by it, I also accept it and am grateful that it isn't part of my public/shared spiritual journey. There is a great divide for me between what I can wrap my head around mentally and what I can process, in the moment, emotionally. Thus for me, nudity in ritual is not an option, which doesn't mean that on some level, I don't wish that it were; that I was more evolved to be at peace with it in my life. But alas, I am not, so this pagan will be keeping her robes on for now!


Monday, August 12, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 28

This week's prompt: Burnout

How do you deal with burnout, especially if you're a crafty, blogging type of person? Or how do you deal with burnout in your practice, when things stagnate?

If you spend any time observing any group, from bloggers to teachers, to anyone in between, I think it's easy to notice that things tend to cycle through periods of energy and stagnation.

What I'm curious about is what people do when they're feeling that burnout. Do you completely shift your focus and try something new? Do you just take a break? Or do you have a different approach?

For me personally, I think it's a combination of the three, depending on the level of the burnout. When it comes to creativity, sometimes I just need to step back and let it go for a bit, from reading to doing. Eventually I always find my way back.

What I find particularly interesting though, is that I don't tend to go through these cycles alone. It seems like they are collective experiences, that sync with others, depending on who you're attuned with at the moment. I think it would be cosmically amazing if I could attribute them to seasons or phases in the astrological calendar, but so far I haven't managed to find such a pattern. Instead, I find, it just seems to be linked to collective group consciousness, shared between people who are inter-connected, often unbeknownst to them, simply by virtue of sharing similar patterns of thought in their lives (I notice this especially in bloggers when they are inter-connected through the blogs they read, but also in colleagues or friend circles, particularly those with shared overlapping interests).

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but I find this an interesting realization of Jung's collective unconscious at work in our daily lives.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

seeing the divine in the dark moments

Motherhood has been something of an interesting life lesson thus far...

I tweeted the other day that I had started talking to my son about the God/Goddess. This wasn't something I expected to do but it also happened in such a way that I felt that it was a profound, albeit probably quite obvious, experience for me.

You see, I'm sort of an instant gratification, type A kind of girl. That may or may not come across in this blog; I certainly make no effort to hide it but sometimes representations on the interwebs distort presentation. That said, I knew the first 6 weeks of parenthood were going to be particularly rough for me: the lack of sleep, being at baby's beck and call, learning baby, etc., were all going to be challenging for me. And they are.

What I didn't expect to struggle with, hell, what I never thought about, was the struggle to adapt to my life becoming all about eating, sleeping, and changing diapers.... meaning that my life would be reduced to such elemental needs that I would find myself bored by the inescapable monotony of my days. The routine that defies routine just enough to make it impossible in the first weeks to feel normal or to do the things that make life feel normal and the impact that would have on me as an individual.

There is limited time to create, to pursue my pleasures (reading, writing, chatting with friends) because inevitably, the moment I start and get into a grove, baby Faye is up and in need of the boob. Which is fine. And expected.

But then there are the moments when he is very colicky and I cannot find the solution for him, which is normal and something experienced by parents everywhere (unless you're insanely blessed). And in those moments, on the days where I feel completely alienated from my "me-ness" it becomes harder to remember to see my little man as the blessing he is, or as another incarnation of the God. And I find that it is in those moments that my practice becomes the most important.

This is what my first spiritual conversation with my son was about: forgiveness, patience, and remembering our higher nature with the help of the God/Goddess. Sitting in the moonlight, breast feeding my son, talking to him about my need to forgive and have patience with myself; his need to forgive and have patience with me as we struggle through these first few months (and the rest of our lives) getting to know each other, remembering to honour the divine in each other, was not something I expected to find myself doing a week and a half into our relationship!

And yet it felt right. And it is what keeps carrying me through those difficult moments. It is my mantra in the midst of the storm of post partum hormones and rediscovery of self within this new role.

Just as the God and Goddess are all about the love, I look at my son, in good and bad moments and remind myself: do it out of love, for love, modeled after the Divine and in service to them, and it helps me stay calm in the moments I most want to throw up my arms and cry.

But just in case you think it's all bad... it's not. There are lots of great moments that fill me with awe...


Monday, August 5, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 27

This week's prompt: Hope

How does hope play into your belief system?

How powerful do you think hope is? I have to admit that I have a hard time with hope. I mean, I hope, but I also constantly have an internal dialogue about getting my hopes up to far. I fear the let down. And yet, I am working on accepting that sometimes the let down serves a purpose all of it's own. And that if I fall, I will be caught.

And that sometimes, hope and taking the leap based on hope, can lead to just the most amazing things...