Friday, March 29, 2013

New Glasses: Firmoo Review

Buy Cheap Prescription Eyeglasses Online, Reading Glasses, Fashion Eyewear on Firmoo.comI was approached a little while ago by Firmoo to do a product review for a pair of free glasses. Being a glasses wearing kind of gal, I couldn't resist even though product reviews aren't normally my thing.

I've purchased glasses online once before and was mostly happy with the experience (good service, but not thrilled with the frames on me), so I thought I'd take Firmoo up on their option so that I could get a pair of glasses I liked better than my previous online purchase.

That said, let me tell you a bit about the experience:

First: Picking glasses online is daunting. The first time I did it, I tried on several pairs (ok, like a kazillion) in stores, noting down the brands and styles I liked, only to go online and learn that the available styles were different, so I'd wasted a lot of energy on the endeavor. This time I didn't bother because I'd learned my lesson.

Also, having ordered with online before, I was familiar with entering all the required measurements/prescriptions, which made the process easier. Measuring the gap between your eyes or the size of the bridge of your nose is a bit daunting the first time around, but becomes much easier once you are familiar with the process. All this to say, if you decide to buy glasses online, be prepared for the first time around to be a bit confusing! That said, the Firmoo makes it fairly clear with pictures to help you out.

Bonus feature, if you upload a photo of yourself, you can sort of try them on beforehand! The trick is getting the right photo of yourself for the best impression. Be forewarned... this can become a bit of an addictive process!

 Ok, once I picked out frames... ordering the glasses was a bit of a hit and miss for me. This might have been partially because I was dealing with a coupon code, partially because every now and again I can be a bit of a computer Luddite if I can't use the back button. The back button wasn't an option once you made your request, hence the problem. This is the one area in the ordering process that I didn't like that much about the Firmoo site. I wanted to go back and change some options, only to realize that I had to erase the order and start again in order to make the adjustments. It was a minor thing, but a bit inconvenient.

After I got this part of the process sorted (the email service was good: I was answered back within a day when I wrote the agent offering me the promotion asking questions), my order was processed.

What I liked about the order process was that not only did they send me an email confirming my order, they also sent me an update to say that my order was processed and it was too late to change, as well as a just shipped email.

Time it all took? I ordered March 7th, got shipping confirmation March 14th, and had the same evening.

Other perks: the glasses came in a nice case, with a maintenance kit (including the little noseguards which actually broke off my last pair of glasses purchased online).

Overall impression: good. I would recommend them. These glasses are the ones I ordered. If you're interested in some new specs, Firmoo offers a First Pair Free program, so go check it out!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ostara Goals

Here's what's on the agenda for this turn of the wheel:

1. Spring Cleaning. In particular, spring cleaning my crafting & Wicca space. I've been really in the mood to purge my house. This might be part of the nesting prego instinct but honestly I want to become more minimalist as part of a move towards more conscientious consumerism. Less is more baby and I want my life choices and home to reflect this! There's a 40 days 40 bags challenge that intrigues me that I want to modify and take up for myself in my own home. So I'm setting a bit of a different goal: 1 bag a week (minimum) from now until Beltane (May 1st), so a minimum of 6 bags of goods going out (recycle, donate, or trash as the case may be based on the items in question). Obviously the first 2 are the top options!

Anyone interested in joining me. No official group, just a personal challenge to try to purge and reduce the clutter!

2. Purchase and plant my seedlings for my herbal, witchy garden. I've decided on Angelica, Rosemary, Basil, Lavender, Oregano, Vervain and Thyme as my starting point based on some of their magical and practical qualities in terms of the work and cooking that can be done with each of these items.

3. Consecrate my rune sticks and start using them. I'm looking forward to trying these out. I admit that I find the system simple, yet complex. I'll be sure to share once I get going with them.

4. Give making a Scrapbooked BOS another go (includes working on calligraphy and making ribbon bookmarks). I created a bunch of tea stained foundation pages ages ago, next up, some water marked nature prints. Yay for uber long weekends and fun new projects.

5. Daily cleaning ritual for the house based on something like this:

I'm going to modify the content for my own life, but I like the general premise of this.

Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project talks about how the little things like making our beds and decluttering our lives can be part of the process to help us feel happier in our lives, and I agree with her. I'm much happier when my house feels clean. That said, I don't want to become compulsive about it either, I just want a simple reminder of things to do, as I go, in order to stay on top of the mess. I'm going to try this system, see what works and doesn't work for me, and then modify it for Mr Faye and I. I'm thinking it would be fun to make it pretty (cause I like pretty things) like this but with the schedule there to be checked off:

Got this from Pinterest, but there's now track back link, sorry!

6. Pre-natal Fitness. I've been half-heartedly doing yoga at home via YogaGlo and it's great, but as I find myself getting bigger I feel the need for more activity to counter the tiredness that comes with the growing belly. Walking is still not a great option for another few weeks, so I've signed up for a pre-natal aquafit course. 

7. Drink more water and less juice. I've been drinking a lot of liquids lately and now that I've upped my liquid quantities, which is great, I need to be more conscientious about making sure that said liquid is more water based than juice based!

8. Finish reading Tolle's A New Earth. I'm actually really enjoying this book. I resisted it for a long time but I shouldn't have. Often I find that a lot of new age books are just re-packaging the same thing over and over again, so I don't bother. I don't know if it's the time in my life or the lessons I've been working on lately, but this book is happening for me just at the right time in my life. I love it when that happens!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Imbolc Goals Recap

Another turn of the wheel, another set of goals set and somewhat accomplished.

For Imbolc I set the following goals:

1. I'm signing up for a basic drawing course. I haven't taken art since elementary school. I'm stoked!

I signed up for the course, but it got cancelled. I was given an option to do it later but things got busy and the timing wasn't good so I postponed that option for another day. Alack, alas, this means I didn't achieve this goal but it wasn't for want of trying.

2. Keep up with my new morning routine (allow for modifications as needed because this is about making it my practice, not a set script)

Pinned ImageThis continues to be a hit and miss for me. I'm struggling to do this work, plain and simple. I don't know if this is for lack of commitment or because my mind is fixated on baby stuff and thus not into it. Either way, this continues to be a personal challenge.

3. Learn about magical herb gardening (as in, what 5-7 herbs should I start with this spring).

Woo hoo. Done! I'm going to grow angelica, rosemary, basil, lavender, oregano, vervain, and thyme in a planter that will look something like the image on your right.

4. Start using my Rune sticks (they arrived Thursday and are awesome).

Ok, I still haven't used them yet but that is in large part due to the fact that I'm waiting for the right lunar phase to consecrate them. It's coming soon..... 

5. Work on prompts for art journaling (ideally get everything pre-planned as far as in advance as I can manage without losing my marbles!

All my prompts are done and I'm a few pages ahead so I've got a good buffer zone. That said, I'm struggling a bit with the viability of this project for others. Last time I did this project there was much more interest. Ironically, although I was asked quite a bit about when the next round would be, interest this time around isn't that high. This could of course be due to several reasons:

  • Having lost my initial art journalers/readers
  • Timing for the people who would naturally be inclined to be involved
  • My own presentation of the project this time around
  • The fact that I had a much clearer underlying goal for the project last time and this time I'm less focused on that goal
  • The universe just not being in the space for it this time around
I suppose that my greatest insecurity this time around is the fear that I've alienated readers. Yeah, I hate writing that and admitting it because it makes me seem like a whiny bitch! That's right, I wrote that. Blech. Whatever. It's far too easy to get caught up in blogging popularity insecurities. I never started this blog with any expectations of popularity and so, when it sort of came in the form of a modest, attentive audience, it totally fed my ego. Now that it has quieted, my ego is reacting and I just need to get over that shit cause it's meaningless and a dumb game to play. It's ok that less people comment or that less people are jumping onboard with the project. I never expected it the first time so I shouldn't expect it this time. 

End of insecurity tangent, back to goal recap!

6. Get my butt to this amazing local art show featuring several dissident contemporary Chinese artists (many of whom have had their work banned in China)

I haven't gone yet, but I'm still planning on going. The show is on for until June, so I think it's a goal that I will role over.

7. The weather is warmer... sort of.... so it's time to start walking to the train again, which kills 2 birds: walking and eco sustainability!

Well my car went on the fritz so the universe made it impossible for me not do fulfill this goal. But inevitably I also ended up fulfilling another goal: a newer car, which somewhat undermines yet maintains said goal. My new car is more eco friendly in terms of fuel consumption and is used so it's not adding more to the manufacturing footprint. That said, I'm still driving so I still have a large carbon footprint even if it is reduced by the amount I drive or by my newer car's smaller footprint. 

8. Start working on the baby's nursery

We've started. Shelves in the closet are up and clothes are sorted. We haven't painted yet because the weather dropped again so we couldn't paint with open windows. It'll be something we'll have to put off a bit longer while we wait for spring to really settle in.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

paths to enlightenment: action or retreat

The other day I was working with a student on an essay comparing the idea of transcendence in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature. The student in question was struggling to articulate a clear thesis statement and was looking for help with that as well as how to organize and structure his points. He knew what he wanted to say: that Hesse sees transcendence as something to be attained through experiencing the world whereas Emerson sees it as something to be attained through retreating from the world. However, in the end, both see transcendence/enlightenment as being similar in nature once attained.
This morning, as I was relaxing in bed, my mind drifted back to this paper and the odd paradigm that it seems to present.

As a culture, the West tends to exoticize the East, seeing it’s mysticism as being based on renunciation and detachment. Think if you will, of the main tenets that we tend to fixate on in Yogic philosophy, Zen, or Buddhism. Each in their own way, from the Western perspective, seems to advocate this idea of stepping outside of the flow of life and becoming detached from the world. We think of the East and the wandering hermit, either in the Chinese mountains in his Buddhist robes (much like a traditional Northern Chinese landscape painting) of the wandering Yogi, dressed only in his dhoti cloth, living off the charity of the world around him. In each, we see, stereotypically, a vision of the male stepping outside of the day to day mundane world in his quest to find inner knowledge. After all, did Siddhartha himself not give up everything in his quest to know more?

And yet, what my student was presenting me with, was a very different vision. Instead of detaching completing from the world, Siddhartha stepped outside of his normal environment and then used his material, mundane experiences as the doorway to examining and understanding his own nature. In contrast, Emerson retreated from the public sphere completely in order to enter a world of contemplation in nature. Both stepped outside of their normal lives, but one stepped outside but stayed within the world whereas the other stepped outside and retreated from the world. I find it interesting that culturally we tend to value the 2nd option on some level as being the way towards enlightenment, but yet, fail to recognize that this is more often than not, our vision, not that of Eastern traditions. After all, while we find Buddhist monks living far away from the world, we also find them very often, very much part of the world. Hell, the Dalai Lama is on twitter. Is the Pope on twitter? (I’m being a bit tongue in cheek here people).

don't mind me, I'm just contemplating the universe for a moment...

I’m not saying that one path is better than another. In fact, I think that both paths are equally valid but that they might shed some intriguing insight onto the way we go about understanding the world and thus, our paths towards stepping outside of ourselves in order to see the world and ourselves within it.

Does our individualistic nature in the West (and increasingly more so in the global world village) lead us to seek enlightenment differently because we see it as an individual quest? Can we dare to say that more communal based societies with a concept of continuity through lifetimes might seek this enlightenment vastly differently? I think that in this day and age, saying something like this might be a bit reductive to take as is, but the underlying concept might be worth more thought if we shift it out of an East/West divide and think about it as something that varies from individual to individual in order to think about it in terms of a pagan path.

As pagans, do we seek enlightenment (or whatever word you prefer) through experience, retreat, or another means? Obviously I’m aware that I cannot possibly answer that question with any accuracy for all pagan paths. I can only speak to the way I see it, on my path at the moment. And what intrigues me right now is the idea that perhaps Wicca (my path) is fusing both concepts together as it attempts to unite mysticism and magic into a spiritual path, or the God and the Goddess if you prefer. There is always a balance of action and non-action, darkness and light, retreat and engagement, meditation and service within my line of Wicca.
The longer I walk this path, in this particular lineage, the more I come to see moments of retreat (meditation/contemplation) as being about learning myself better in order to be able to be more actively engaged in my world, without the trappings of my own ego wants and reactions. It’s a tall order, but I think very much a noble thing to strive for: acting in the world and trying to move beyond my own reactions to see things more clearly.

And while I’m so far from being there, that’s ok, the work itself is the journey, not the result.

I'm curious though, how do others see this journey? Is there a balance between retreat into contemplation and action without expectation? Is this something that is true on your own path or do you see things vastly differently?

Monday, March 25, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 8

This week's prompt: Doubts

We all have doubts from time to time; if not about our path then our practice, community, [fill in the blank with your own topic].

In my tradition we talk about how we don't have faith, we know.  I'll be honest, there are days that I find this easier to wrap my head around than others. Some days I don't feel the God and Goddess. Hell, forget days, some months or even years!

That said, I've always had a deep abiding knowledge that there is something, even if I can't define or feel it. The ways that I understand that something have changed and yet remained oddly enough, the same over the years. This knowledge has become more complex and yet at the same time, simpler.

I used to freak out when I went through my dark nights of the soul, moments of spiritual crisis, but I have since come to learn that no matter what, I always come out on the other end reaffirming my faith in there being something beyond simple human perception. And I've come to learn that sometimes, on the other side of these moments of inner reflection/crisis, I emerge with a deeper sense of faith because I've examined it once again only to step back and say, "Yup, I still know there's more. I might not know how to define or experience it right now, but I know there's more."

What about the rest of you? Do you think there is value in those moments of doubt or do you just hate when they come around?


Monday, March 18, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 7

This week's prompt: Quote

What quote inspires you?

I opted for the quote: "It will all work out in the end. If it hasn't, it's not the end." I don't know who said it, but I like it.

I think that I might just like this quote because it reflects my belief that at the end of something, we finally have the clarity to look back and say, ok... that wasn't so bad, I learned something in the midst of the chaos. I found something to take from the experience, even if it kind of sucked in the midst of it. You know?


Sunday, March 17, 2013

moving to bloglovin

So as many of you have already heard by now, Google Reader is shutting down as of July 1st, 2013.

While I love my Google Reader (hello all my blog feeds in one spot, without having to link to the kazillion sites I follow), I'm also sort of seeing this as a blessing in disguise/new beginning to be excited about.

I've been trying to clean out my Google Friends Connect for a long time now, to no avail, so this might be my solution.

On top of which, it offers some interesting ways of finding new blogs to explore. Any time someone subscribes to my blog, I get an email. Being the nosy little internet voyeur I am, I go and check out what they're reading, to see if there's any new blogs to add to my reading list.

So far I've been fairly frugal in my following, but I'm on the lookout!

Speaking of which, do you have any good recommendations? Blogs that you love and think I should be reading?

Oh, and if you're so inclined, please feel free to join me over at bloglovin!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

when a spell doesn't work

Life is funny sometimes...

I really wanted a midwife. Yes, I even did a spell for one. And I got one, sorta. I had a midwife for all of 3 minutes before a clerical glitch became apparent and my honesty led to me losing the midwife for reasons that are just too complicated and really rather too boring to explain.

Suffice to say, I was bummed.

Things that made it worse? Having someone tell me that the spell must not have worked because I had some sort of mental block/fear about having a midwife. That I undid my spell through honestly because of either my karma or fears. I just hate that attitude.  I hate that my honesty was used against me in this way.

I can't stand the whole "blame the victim" mentality that can be used in spiritual rhetoric sometimes. Sometimes cancer is just cancer, not some deep seated karmic/emotional repression. You know?

Don't let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.

Don't worry, I didn't take it to heart. I was just annoyed by it.

In the end though, I feel like the universe is looking out for me in the ways I need, even when I don't realize it.

Potential TMI Alert for some! Read with caution. 

I went to my doctor's appointment the other day and found out that I have 3 rather well developed uterine fibroids. Right now it's not a problem and I don't need to worry about them because they're not in the way but they have to be watched for too much growth. If they grow too much, it might mean having a c-section.

While having a c-section is not something I ever envisioned for myself, I'm ok with it being a potential if there's just cause for it. Ultimately I sort of feel like not getting a midwife is ok now because I would have been transferred to a doctor later in my pregnancy if the fibroids grow and a c-section in my future, or sent to the hospital in emergency care with an unknown doctor if the fibroids turned into a problem during labour.

So yeah, I feel very much like things can sometimes work out the way they need to, even if they're not the way we'd originally wanted them to. You know? And some spells work and then don't work for a reason.


Monday, March 11, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 6

This week's prompt: Grace

Dictionary definition: 

a: Disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency  
b: A charming or attractive trait or characteristic
c: A pleasing appearance or effect

I tend to shy away from this word because I associate it with Christianity. Why? Because of a Christian friend who bandied it about a lot but I find myself thinking about it a lot in the moment because of recent work events.

I won't go into the sordid details, suffice to say that my top boss (I have 3: supervisor, boss, and big boss) did something to me that was very disrespectful and professionally humiliating. I now find myself in a position at work where I am about to have to pay the price for this act, and I'm trying to figure out ways to handle the situation tactfully and gracefully (read with dignity).

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how to maintain dignity when someone rips the rug right out from under you, denying you the natural respect and dignity that you expect. The way I see it, I have a few options:

1. To scream bloody murder and make my feelings known
  •  The problem with this move is that I'd end up punishing my colleagues in the process, all of whom stand by me and are sympathetic to the situation. It would create a toxic work environment for me and ultimately, serve no purpose because I go on maternity leave in 4 months (for the non-Canadians out there, this means I'll be away from the office for about a year).
2. To leave
  • Again the whole pregnancy thing complicates this option but it is one I will explore when I return if I find the situation untenable. 
3. To find a compromise
  • I've tactfully expressed my feelings to my boss, though I don't think she grasps them or the insult she delivered (she's too busy seeing numbers and hierarchies to see the person (and team of people) at the other end of her decision) despite her claims that she deeply values me as an employee. Truthfully finding a compromise isn't really an option because I've lost any agency in the situation.
4. To see this as an opportunity to grow
  • They say that when one door closes, another opens and this is what I am trying to work on seeing right now. I'm trying to remember that the God and Goddess are looking out for me and that it will all work out as it needs to in the end.
In the meantime, I am struggling to find balance between my ego reaction (humiliation), my need to be empathetic to the person about to walk into the landmine that is my current work environment, and trusting that even if it feels like I have no agency right now that how I handle this moment and the choices that arise out of it, will set a new course for me in my career. It's up to me to decide what that course will be within the scope of my passions in education.

In these moments I often find it hard to remember to trust the process, but I'm working on it. I'm trying to remember that there are choices at every crossroad and that I have a choice. I can act with grace and integrity or with anger and resentment. The path I choose will determine my own destiny and the way forward. At this moment I am not only choosing to act with grace, I'm trying to conscientiously manifest grace instead of an ego reaction.

It's a lot easier said than done, but I'm working on it!


Friday, March 8, 2013

the weekend

Just a few things that I'm digging right now for your weekend consideration:

Baby Faye's foot!

I thought this mini album coupon book was a really sweet idea. I might have to try it out as a way to celebrate 7 years together with my partner (3 + married, 7 in total) as part of my One Little Word project for the month.

After Eco Yogini wrote about it, I mosied my way over to check it out and have since been addicted to the musical playlists featured on Songza

Interesting tidbits about colour

This useful photo about how much sugar is in our beverages (scary). I think I drink more water!


Monday, March 4, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 5

This week's prompt:Herbal Healing

Are you interested in herbal healing? Do you use herbs for magical and healing purposes? Can herbal magic/healing replace western medicine? Should it or should they work together? If you grow herbs for healing, what herbs do you grow? Do you have any special practices in relation to growing or harvesting said herbs?

Back when I was just a wee thing at 17/18 years old and really just finding myself spiritually on a pagan path (my god that's 18 years ago now), my good friend and I dreamed of opening a herbal new age shop. I was going to study holistic medicine and grow herbs and she was going to run a shop downstairs selling those herbal medicines and teaching things like belly dancing and chakra work. We even knew where we wanted to open the store, near the water, with a total Zen mellow Goddess loving vibe.

Yes, we were totally hippie teens!

But as Robert Frost wrote: "knowing how way leads on to way" I have since traveled different paths and never come back. Such is life. But now I find myself in a space where I'm thinking of herbal healing again, contemplating what I would grow, how I would grow it, once I have the time to grow my own garden. I've even started a dream list of garden inspiration. I'd like to say that I'll start it this summer but with Baby Faye's arrival, I'm sure that I'll need to hold off until next year. But the goal is there! I'm really keen to learn about magical herbal healing.


Friday, March 1, 2013

when the universe is trying to tell you something

It's not that easy to just sit back and ignore it, particularly when the universe seems to be pretty adamant about getting your attention...

I've been contemplating on theme these past few days as I art journal and something very interesting has revealed itself in the process.

First... I'm drawn to watery colours lately and I think it's to counterbalance the anger in my life that I'm having to address right now and the myriad of ways that it manifests itself in my day to day life, in my actions, my words, and my responses.

You see, I have been told that I am an angry person a few times (or rather a repressed angry person), which has left my confused on multiple levels.
  • I laugh a lot. I joke, I tease, and generally enjoy life... so how I can I be all that angry?
  • How on earth does the state of the world not make you angry, indignant, frustrated?
  • I don't really see myself as being angrier than others... am I deep in denial and not seeing myself clearly? I mean, I've gotten this comment a few times now so it's not so easily dismissed.
But then sometimes, as much as you want to dismiss people's comments... I mean, after all... they don't know you, not really... well the universe/gods/goddesses conspire to make you stand back and listen and think.

 Lately I've had a lot of things that have prompted me to think about anger:

  • the anger reaction I've been having to meditation since becoming pregnant
  • my relationship with my mother and the continual frustration I've been having when it comes to a lifelong conversation/hurt about her devaluing my moments of rite of passage
  • my expectations vs my reality
  • the increasing sense of alienation that I have with certain groups and the feeling that I am holding people away, not vice versa (because their efforts are tangible)
  • my dreams
  • my work environment and the need to step back and disengage from the drama in order to focus on the positive little bundle of joy that I am creating. I've really found myself reflecting a lot on reducing work toxicity in my life. I love my job, but work politics and bureaucracy, particularly the dictatorial politics going on around me lately have been a huge source of tension in my life over the past 2 years. Having a baby has made me really re-evaluate how I engage in the dynamic.
  • a recent reminder that I cannot control or change others' reactions or behaviours, I can only change the script from my end, as in changing how I engage and respond
  • some TV show saying something about how anger is usually a veil for hurt and it coming in a moment that I was nurturing some serious hurt/anger
  • my reaction to being told again that I was angry (it was pure resentful anger)

So I started art journaling and contemplating this idea of my repressed anger and it being purged in my practices during pregnancy and started noticing an odd trend. Over and over again I was drawing on watery elemental colours: orange and blue or just watery feeling tones. I'd start pages with greens and they'd morph into blues without conscious thought, as if water was encouraging me to purge out my hurts and let go of the anger.

And then this morning, just as I started making peace with the potential idea of my anger/hurt, I find one of the first blog posts in my blog stream from a blogger who isn't pagan in any way leading me to this link on very pagan inspired ritual for forgiveness. While this isn't "my ritual" it felt like a sign that maybe I need to create my own ritual cleansing to let go, move beyond, and forgive my hurts in order to let go of some anger.

Maybe a lot of people wouldn't see this all as some big cosmic lesson, but I do. I feel like the universe has been trying to tell me something for a while now, but only now are my eyes open wide enough and willing enough to see and accept it. And of course, the beauty of it is that now that I've accepted it, I feel calmer again and more positive about things that have been bothering me for a few months now. I don't know if I can heal all my hurts in one ritual, but I can start...