Monday, July 29, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 26

This week's prompt: Next Step

What is the next step for you in your practice?

I have good intuition, not that you'd know that by meeting me or listening to me talk. I'm an over-analyzer. And let me tell you, over-analysis is the death knoll of intuition!

All my life I have been told that I'm an excellent judge of character. There is nothing behind this skill that I can explain. I just know. I have a good radar. I give people a chance. But don't get me wrong, when you meet me I'm not going to come across as this open hearted, warm person. Most people find me very aloof when they meet me. So it's not a skill that has made me a better person or has enriched my life per se. I write this because I want it to be clear that I'm not trying to boast.

It is what it is. And it's a skill that I struggle with a lot, actually, because of my analytical nature. I can be a jarring blend of leaping based on gut instincts, and dissecting things to their minute last detail, to the point of leaving your head spinning.

So why am I telling you all this? Because working on trusting my intuition is something that has been a process for me. Right now, trusting my intuition means that I am working on my ability to guess what image is on the other side of the card through my ability to sense and decode what I'm sensing. I find the need to shift between analysis and intuition in this process to be incredibly frustrating but invigorating at the same time. I'm working on trying to find the line between where one skill set steps in and the other steps out. And let me tell you, the line isn't a clear one.

What I am learning though, is that the longer I sit with something, the more likely I am to cross the line. My initial, first impressions, though murky, can only be pushed so far for clarity before I fall into over thinking things. If I can't make sense of something quickly in my intuitive work, time will not make it better. At least not at this stage of my practice. I am however, noticing that the more I work on it, the longer I seem to be able to maintain the balance between the two, which makes it a very rewarding practice for me because it is teaching me a lot about my own nature as well as my magical practice.

What skill/step are you wanting to work on?


Monday, July 22, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 25

This week's prompt: Self-fulfilling prophecies

How much credence do you put into the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies? What do you think is the connection between them and magic, if any?

I think there is a difference between magic and self-fulfilling prophecies, on some level, but it's less marked than we might tend to think. I believe that we cast spells every day with our beliefs in what will be, which in essence is much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some days those beliefs come true, some they don't, depending on the forces at work outside of us.

For example, I believe that I am smart. I don't always come across that way and I don't use my smarts as much as I could in my day to day life. But I know I'm a smart cookie. As such, I expect that when I do use my smarts, I will generally succeed in the things I do. And I do. For the most part. I haven't lived a life that is particularly more blessed than anyone else's. In fact, I have had a great many challenges to overcome in my life. And yet, I have successfully managed to be the first member of my family, on both sides, to attain a post graduate degree (and even an Bachelor's degree in large part). I found work quickly after school and have managed to pay off most of my student loan (only 2 years to go). I work in a job that caters to my desire to continue to learn more every day. In many ways all of this has been realized by the fact that I have worked hard to be where I am at, but it is also partly due to my belief that I am capable and deserving of such a life. Thus, when opportunities came my way, I seized them and made the most of them.

Most of us would never think of this as being a spell or even necessarily a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I do. In my life things could have very easily gone the other way. Very easily. I could have been a high school drop out. I was about this [...] close to it at age 16. And for all that I love my family, it was me and me alone who pulled myself out of this situation and changed my destiny through pure force of belief that I was more than what I was letting myself be. I believed I would go on to leave my small town home behind me and travel the world, be educated, and do more than what others expected of me. And I did.

This same belief system still influences many of my daily choices and practices, both negatively and positively. And I'm not so naive as to imply that just because we believe something, that it will be. I'm just naive enough to say that it's worth a try because I believe that the power of a knowing type of belief is the most effective spell of all. After all, casting a spell is all about willing things to be. If you believe that they will be, then there's a much greater chance that they will come to pass (baring mitigating factors of course) and thus, a self-fulfilling prophecy can be both a negative/positive new age gloss over the every day magic we practice in our lives.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

baby Faye is here

Baby Faye has arrived. Nothing about his arrival was anything like I had expected but in the end it doesn't matter. He's here and he's amazing:

This is likely the only picture of him I'll share on this blog, for privacy's sake. But I couldn't resist cause I'm a new, proud Mama of a Moon Child. Truly one of the best experiences of my life, despite the rough labour, complications, and recovery.

And with that I'm off to enjoy falling head over heels in love with him.


Monday, July 15, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 24

This week's prompt: Harm None

This is such a common quote within the pagan community. Do you adhere to it? Do you believe in it? What does it mean to you and how do you practice it if you do?

In many ways, I think it is absolutely impossible to harm none. Nothing in our modern lifestyle is conducive to living outside the realm of harm. From the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the homes we live in, we are causing "harm" on a daily basis.

Why do I bother even exploring this idea then? Because I think that some take this maxim too literally or not literally enough. I think it's impossible to harm none, but that a reduction of harm is a goal worthy of aspiring to as long as we don't become sanctimonious in the process. The minute we become sanctimonious, I think we have started a whole new level of harm, one that is worse than just measuring our carbon footprint and finding it wanting.

I'm going to on a tangent here, so bear with me.

I always sign off my posts with the word Namaste. Why? Because I love the simple elegance of recognizing the divine in our counterparts. In fact, I think it is a wonderful reminder to see the people around us, whether we like them or agree with them or not, as being part of the divine. They are just as much the God and Goddess as you and I, even if they may not be aware of it (or perhaps too aware of it).

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a reminder that I find easy to remember. The student who sits in front of me, fully self-entitled, expecting me to do the work for him/her, isn't winning any "thou art divine" medals from me. Nor do I find it easy to see my Mother-in-Law as divine, particularly when she starts up on her emotional passive aggression. Hell no, in fact, I veer so far from remembering her divinity that you'd never believe that I think it's even possible that she is a manifestation of the divine.

And yet, every now and again, namaste or harm none, pops up in my daily awareness and I try yet again, to seek out ways to honour their divinity (while still respecting the necessary self-preservation boundaries) by letting them walk their own paths. This doesn't mean that I don't muck it up or that I don't work on ways of sharing my own views with them. But rather, I accept that their realities are real to them and equally valid for them.

For me, this is what harm none has come to mean. It's not a vegetarian or environmental rant, albeit I do admit to doing these things from time to time, I'm not perfect, but rather, it's an acceptance that the other's path and beliefs are just as valid as mine, even if they rub me the wrong way! Harm none has come to mean, in some ways, taking a less confrontational path, stepping back and letting the other be, and just plain old minding my business. (That said, I'm not about to let people walk all over me either... don't worry). I'm just working on finding the middle ground more in order to foster understanding and a shared space on some level.

If you want to eat meat or shop at Walmart, those are your decisions and I'm not going to judge you for them because there are a myriad of reasons for your choices. However, if I want to raise my son as a vegetarian, I'm going to ask you not to judge my choices either. If we can't see eye to eye, I'm just going to walk away because the ensuing conversation will cause more harm than good for both of us. Thus, I recognize that we are both entitled to that basic level of respect, which is what, right now, harm none means to me. It might change, but for now...


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

the count down ends and the count up begins...

Dutifully drinking my red raspberry leaf tea, drinking copious amounts of pineapple juice/eating tons of pineapple, working on some energy practices to accelerate the process, amongst other things.

The baby's room is ready, my Mom arrives later today,  all the diapers are prepped, meals are frozen, I even baked in advance for visitors.

I've crocheted 3 baby caps (2 beanies, 1 bear hat), and a kimono sweater. I've started dreaming about life with Baby Faye and finally feel like it's really real and that I'm excited about meeting him now.

But there is a wait ahead. A very normal, happens to tons of women, wait ahead. Which for this instant gratification girl, is something of a lesson. I actually read this lovely article about the wait being a time of spiritual preparation for motherhood, which was totally what I needed to be reminded of at the moment.

But that said. I'm ready. Or rather, we're as ready as we can be. After several long months of trying to wrap my head around this thing called motherhood, I finally feel like I can do this. And that I can do it without completely losing myself in the process, which is something that held me back from motherhood for a long time. Now I'm just waiting for Baby Faye to catch up and for my body to be ready.

Fingers crossed though that he comes sooner than later so that he can spend some time getting to know his Grandma before she has to go home and so that we can do this birth naturally, without medical inductions/interventions. I really want to be able to have a birth that is as natural, holistic and zen (as a birth can be) as possible, despite the fact that I couldn't have a midwife because there aren't enough in my region.

If things suddenly change and I'm busy with life on the other side of the waiting game, I wish you all a lovely summer. There are art journaling posts scheduled until the end of August, but that may or may not be all you hear from me for a while.

To quote Mr Faye: "We'll see how it goes."


Monday, July 8, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 23

This week's prompt: Beauty

What makes something or someone beautiful to you? What makes an experience beautiful?

A few years back (about 6 years as I write this), I traveled to India (the northern part) and visited Sarnath, just outside of Varanasi, the location where the Buddha is said to have given his first sermon. This leg of my journey was a complex juxtaposition of beauty and degradation for me. It was the place on my journey where I found the most spiritual peace and also the most discomfort. And the ruins at Sarnath were no different in their expression of high and low contemplation.

And yet, in Sarnath I found one of my most profound moments of inner beauty in a small moment. In the gardens at Sarnath I saw my first lotus flower (real one, growing naturally, in water, right in front of me). The water was murky and full of pond scum. When I pulled out my camera to document the moment and the flower, I found that my camera batteries had died. So instead, that moment remains forever locked in my memory, a mental snapshot that may or may not be accurate of what was really there, and yet, all the more beautiful and memorable in it's impermanence. Something about the location, the moment and timing of those dead batteries felt so perfect to me. A lesson from Buddha himself, a lesson from the journey or universe, if you will.

Instead of holding on, I had to let go.

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but those moments of profound, yet simple awakening, are beautiful to me. No, not in the conventional sense of beauty in a painting or person, but in a spiritual sense. And ironically, I have always found that they come out of moments of muck (like the muck from which the lotus flower grows). Beauty is quoted as being "in the eye of the beholder" and spiritually speaking, I think that nothing could be truer. To someone else, my dead battery moment would just be an inconvenience, but for me, it was an epiphany. And it's moments like that, that remind me of the intricate and simple beauty of the universe around us, the gods/goddesses, and the sacredness of the spiritual experience.

I wish many such personal moments of beauty upon you (and myself...)!


Friday, July 5, 2013

Learning Things the Long Way

Sometimes I think that I'm constantly relearning or remembering the same lessons in life. For me, this seems to be the constant reminder that I need to spend a regular amount of time in nature in order to feel content and connected with myself, community, and the people I love.

I know this is a truth in my life. An absolute if you will. And yet, I constantly lose sight of it.

This morning I got up and went for a walk to the water (about 20 mins away at my current pace of waddling) and then just spent an hour sitting, meditating, and observing the water and life around it.

Wednesday night I asked Mr Faye to venture out for a jaunt along the water.

I'm puffy, my feet are swollen and the humidity is killing me right now. But even with all that said and done, getting out by the water is exactly what I need. Alas, I cannot swim in the water around me (I miss my home so much sometimes), so contemplating life next to water is the next best thing.

I feel inspired and energized. I want to create again and get back into my daily meditation practice.

I didn't set any goals for myself for this turn of the wheel but I think I might have to set just one: to get outside more often. To walk and be in nature on a more regular basis. I think it'll make the transition into motherhood smoother and help me keep track of my spirituality more while I'm juggling said transition.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

life around here: a vegetarian foodie's paradise

You know, I blindly thought that once I started my maternity leave, I would be blogging and crafting up a storm.

Sometimes life has a funny way of teaching you (me) a lesson on expectations. For the past week I've spent more time sleeping than I think I ever have in my life, including my first trimester (probably because I'm home and can get away with it whereas I couldn't in my first trimester at work). Suffice to say, my busy napping schedule has left little time for an excess of productivity and I've had to learn to make peace with my body's desire to slow down. We've been hashing out a compromise and I think we may have found a balance, finally.

We'll see how things go this week!

That said, there have been some fun changes in Faye land.

We bought plants from a local nursery (they grow things locally) and planted a garden in our front yard:

The cat has been getting a lot of quality cuddle time:

It's actually sort of interesting, she is very good about not climbing up on my belly. Instead she tucks herself under, beside, below the big belly. She also hovers around me a lot these days. If I ever had any doubts that she knows I'm pregnant, her reaction to recent events (baby Faye spending some quality time in my rib cage to the point of me hurling my cookies) has reaffirmed that she is in the know. She is almost mothering me in an odd, catlike manner. It's cute and totally endearing and also makes me a little nervous about what her reaction will be when the "invader" usurps her territory!

I've been trying out a lot of new recipes:

Vietnamese spring rolls. I really need to work on my rolling technique but otherwise they were ok. Not the favourite thing I cooked this week.

That prize would go to these:

Ginger Garlic Tofu. So delicious. I always struggle with cooking tofu. I know it's all about the seasoning but I struggle to get the seasoning right. These are definitely right. Mr Faye even went back for seconds and he never does that when it comes to plain, seasoned tofu. (He'll eat the tofu when blended into a main dish, like small cubes in a stir fry, or fake veggie meat products, but otherwise he's not a tofu fan cause he finds it heavy). So I'm pleased that I found this recipe here: Mary Makes Dinner

We also tried Terriyaki Garlic Tofu Kebabs:

They were ok, nothing amazing. Mr Faye complained about the size of the tofu (see above) but dosed in teriyaki sauce, he was ok with them.

I also did a little baking on a cooler day:

Chocolate chip and Oatmeal Raisin cookies. I added cinnamon and clove, which added a little something something to the cookies. I've never had oatmeal cookies with clove in them before and they were a nice variation on a standard recipe. Hopefully I'll be able to freeze about half of the stash so that if and when people come over after Baby Faye's arrival I'll have a small something to offer them. Nothing big or high maintenance but enough so that I won't feel like a bad host (I know this isn't something I need to worry about but it's my nature so I'm just dealing with it ahead of time).

We also tried a new curry:

Mushroom Chickpea Coconut Curry. It was good. The drawback was that most of the flavour really relied on the red chili spice so it wasn't as savory as we expected. In the future I'd play a little more with spices in it to make it a bit more dense in terms of flavour.

Another favourite new find was this salad:

Thai Inspired Cucumber Salad with Roasted Chickpeas. I found the recipe for the roasted chickpeas on Chow. It was a good salad, perfect for a hot summer day. The drawback was that the chickpeas need to be in the oven (400) for about 30-40 minutes, which isn't ideal for a hot day. So if you decide to try it, roast the chickpeas on a cooler day or early in the day. It was a hit though and will definitely be on the menu again this summer.

It's actually been really fun to be able to experiment with new foods and expand our menu. A couple of weeks ago we tried a lot of more Mexican inspired dishes, and last week we seemed to gravitate more towards Thai/Asian cuisine. I love that there are so many amazing flavours you can play with, even as a vegetarian (which seems to be something that really boggles the minds of non-vegetarians with little experience cooking foods outside of a traditional European/North American palate).

Lest you think that all I did was sleep and eat, I did create this little kimono style crochet jumper:

I still have to weave in and finish off the loose ends, but I figured that if I was going to spend so much time napping and vegging on the couch that I need to accomplish a little something. It's so tiny that it kind of freaks me out! Mr Faye finds it a bit girly so I might give it to my friend who had a baby a little while ago (if it still fits her), we'll see.

So that's what I've been up to lately, while being quiet on the blogging front. More productive than I thought when I look back on it, but still less busy than I expected to be.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

another month of gratitude: june calendar

I haven't been talking much about this project this month, but I'm still going strong with the gratitude journal. Here's what I did for June:

I have to say that I love this practice. Especially when I do it that night (sometimes I get sidetracked and do it a day or 2 later). I find that when I do it the same day, I find an infinite amount of things to be thankful for that I never expected.

I intend to attempt to keep up this practice during this month, but we'll see how things go with Baby Faye making his appearance. Things may need to shift and that's ok.


Monday, July 1, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 22

This week's prompt: Happiness

What defines or creates happiness in your life? What is the difference between happiness and contentment for you?

I see contentment as being vastly different than happiness, and yet, contentment does encompass happiness. For me, happiness is part of the emotional upswing though, whereas contentment is more stable, in the middle ground.

I used to think that happiness was better than contentment, now I'm not so sure. Now I wonder if I may have underestimated contentment.

Don't get me wrong, I still strive for happiness in life. It's just that I see the value of contentment because with it comes a different type of inner balance. Happiness feels more like a high cycle, whereas attaining contentment is more about an even keel state of joy. As I get older, this becomes more and more appealing to me and my practice. Ironically, as I embrace contentment more and more, I find myself much happier in life. I suppose I might even dare to say that contentment might actually be the path to true happiness.