Tuesday, December 31, 2013

one little word 2014: health

Every year, for the past 3 years, I've chosen a word to set the tone for the year. The first year I chose nurture, then balance, and finally story.

baby Faye & I have big goals this year
Nurture was all about nurturing creativity. I really started this blog (instead of dabbling) that year. I started thinking about ways to nurture both my creative and spiritual self through community in 2009. I think that I leapt in, somewhat too quickly, in my enthusiasm in at times burned bridges because I hadn't sussed out the lay of the land yet. But it was a good year, full of rewards and lessons learned.

Balance was about trying to find a better balance between the leaps I'd taken and my every day life (work, marriage, coven, creativity). I honestly lost sight of this word and while I don't know that I failed per se, I definitely didn't find the balance I set out to find.

Story was the perfect word for 2013 as our story as a family changed drastically this year. The first half of the year was about preparing and also making time to do things together as a couple before Baby Faye arrived. From going to a roller derby show to prepping the nursery and brunches to art gallery exhibits the first half of this year's story was full of fun adventures. The second half was expectedly less adventurous in the typical sense of the word but still quite the roller coaster ride.

This year I'm choosing Health as my focus of the year. I would like to have health in a few aspects of my life, namely: physical, spiritual, and financial.

  • Physical: I haven't mentioned it here (other than in a reply to a comment) but during and post pregnancy, I've learned that I have gallstones and a few other minor health issues that have left me thinking a lot about my overall health. The gallstones were a bit of a surprise because honestly as a vegetarian my diet isn't so fatty that it was an expected health condition. But closer analysis at my eating habits and my sedentary lifestyle over the past few years has me more aware of how things need to change in that regard if I want to be actively involved in my son's life, particularly as an older mom. So 2014 is a year of rethinking my eating, exercise and overall physical health. My husband is on board as he is also looking at his own health and realizing that he wants to be in better health for our son. We're meal planning, trying to eat more real foods, and trying to clean up our eating habits. I'm not sure what he plans to do for physical exercise but one thing at a time.
  • Financial: Gah. I hate money. I hate thinking about it or talking about it but there you have it. By the end of 2014 I want to have next to nothing on my credit card and plan on reducing my credit limit significantly as it only gets me into trouble. Every. Single. Time! So each time that I reduce my debt there, I'm calling the credit card company and getting them to lower the limit. This is the year of limited spending. Less on crafts, less on clothing, less on everything!
  • Spiritual: This is a  little vaguer. For now it involves carving out some daily rituals that nurture my sense of spiritual well being as I move away from coven/community based spirituality. It involves opening myself up to the universe and trusting that if I listen, I will find what I need, as I need it. And with that, one of my big goals towards establishing spiritual health is working on uniting my everyday self with my spiritual self. I'm so tired and frustrated by the schism that marks my spiritual nature. I'm exhausted by downplaying or neutralizing my spiritual path in order to make it politely comfortable and acceptable for others. So this year, the goal is to find ways unite my spiritual path with my daily life in ways that won't have people telling me that they just assume I'm an Atheist because I don't seem to have a religion. This has created what feels like a wound in my psyche and it's got to go. 
So those are my health goals for the year ahead. What are yours? 




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Monday, December 30, 2013

Yule and the stories I'll tell Baby Faye about this holiday

As a pagan mom in a mixed faith family, I've spent a great deal of time this holiday season thinking about the stories I'm going to tell Baby Faye about this season as he grows. Admittedly I've spent a great deal of time this season with my knickers in a knot, freaking out about my space in a family that doesn't share my beliefs and tends to override them.

It's not been an easy month.

I mentioned earlier that I was given a rather fun moment of enlightenment via a Mini Cooper car ad, but me being me, and prone to a great deal of angst, epiphany moments don't ever completely chill the woe beast in me. I'm a complex, over-thinker by nature. It is what it is, and I've made my peace with it, even if it means I always take the hard or long way to come to terms with my life lessons.

Anyways, that's not really what I want to think about at the moment. What I'm contemplating are stories that talk about Yule from a pagan perspective. I'd like to find a good children's book that does a nice job of talking about the season in a way that is mainly pagan but also respectful of Christianity as my son is going to be exposed to both. Ideally I'd like the story to show the overlap of the two, in a way that shows that no matter what you believe, there is a core truth there and that's the important thing.

Anyone have any good recommendations? Cause I'm thinking that if I can't find it, I might have to figure out a way to create it for my son.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

practicing practice

If you'd seen my practice/craft room lately, you'd not be surprised by my confession that my creativity and practice have sort of taken a backseat to the chaos that feels like my daily life. This is partly due to the fact that holiday crafting took over, but honestly, it was a longer process that lead to the chaos that currently is.

view from my creative/practice space

With that in mind, I've been slowly trying to work my way through the dumping grounds that my space has become of late so that I can get back on track again with my rituals of creativity and meditation. I feel like trying to build a practice in the space, as it is with it's clutter, would be completely counter-intuitive to my aspirations.

I'm trying to take a conscientious approach to how I bring these elements back into my life as I feel that they are so important to me but an area that I have struggled with during the past year due to pregnancy, motherhood, and various spiritual crises.

Over the past months I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want my practice to look like these days. More thinking than doing, partly due to the nature of baby Faye's erratic schedule, partly due to my own erratic mind. Cleaning out the space feels a bit like cleaning out my erratic mind, make room for spirit and creativity to creep back in.

I'll admit that I'm a little nervous about it. I'm worried about making it work, creating something that is uniquely my own and making it stick. This morning, as I was reading T. Thorn Coyle's Crafting a Daily Practice, she wrote this, which really spoke to where I am at, at this moment: "Can we think of our time commitments as a practice, rather than an end product or chore." I feel like it's so easy to get caught up in the idea of where I should be, what I should be doing, rather than being present in the now, doing the work for the work's sake, and appreciate what that brings into my life every day instead of what the long term goals might be.

So as I clean up my space, I'm trying to take the time to be present in the act, remembering that sometimes just making the space is a worthy practice, imperfect in nature, but perfect as it is, and that is just fine. Right now, instead of trying to carve out the perfect practice, I'm just practicing, figuring things out and that act is sacred in and of itself.


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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

yule crafting extravaganza

Phew, I've been busy these days! I'm trying to make this a crafty Yuletide season, which means that yours truly has had her hands occupied for weeks now! Between baby, baking, stitching, gluing, etc., it's been a festive chaos.

Here are a few of my creations:

Handmade Holiday Cards:


First Holiday Ornament:


For the grandparents, brother, godparents, us.... and then custom made ones for friends in gold, green, pink, blue, etc. Thinking about selling these in my etsy shop next year. I just need to convince my husband and father in law that they totally want to cut that many wood blocks for me!

Homemade chai (delicious)



Next time I make it, I think I'll make it in bulk and can it as the recipe doesn't have a long shelf life apparently. But overall, it tastes delicious and was a hit with the friend I gave it to.

Added perk, the house smelled yummy and festive while simmering.

Aprons for my nephews:


These are still a work in progress (and full of mistakes but my nephews are forgiving).  They've become interested in Master Chef Jr so we're giving them cookbooks and aprons. Hopefully they'll like them!

Cookies:


I've actually turned this amazing feat and formed a community of mothers in my area. Women I don't know that I would necessarily have befriended outside of motherhood, but an amazing wealth of support and friendship, in person (not online), to help me get through the bumps of motherhood. Such a blessing and an answer to a call that I put out to the universe in my darker hours.

And last but not least, decorating our home for the holidays:


Kitty Faye, as always, was in the midst of it all, determined to be seen and loved, and most importantly, not forgotten because Baby Faye has taken her spot in the limelight. Yes, we are nurturing a bit of furbaby jealousy these days! Thankfully Baby Faye is becoming a bit less dependent (as in he'll play with his toys on our rainbow floors - which, as one friend puts it, looks like a rainbow vomited in our living room - she has the matching set) so now there's more time for kitty love.

That said, I hope you all had a lovely full moon and that your days as the light gets ready to become stronger again, feel full of love and hope.

Blessings of the season.


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Monday, December 2, 2013

how the universe conspires to teach yours truly via a Mini Cooper ad

Don't you just love it when it feels like the universe (gods) conspire to deliver you the one perfect life lesson through the most random sequence of events and/or people?

I know I do.

Recently I've had myself all tangled up in knots over what has felt like a blocked conversation with my husband over the Christian vs Pagan holidays at this time of year.

As a new mom, but even beyond that, as a new family/home owner, I have this burning desire to carve out some of the traditions that will define this season for us together in our home, with our family, as a family.

This has created a fair bit of anxiety in me lately because honestly, it is so easy for all of my practices to get shoved under the rug in the face of family traditions, his and mine, and the easier surface traditions of society and the season. After all, I love Christmas and always have. I love lighting the advent candles every Sunday leading up to Christmas. I love advent calendars. I love the lights and the songs, etc, etc.

But what do you do when you're a pagan and you're trying to make sure that the holidays don't just become all about the Christian celebration? It's easy to fall into that trap because let's face it, most of us (not all) have families who follow the Christian celebration (even if they celebrate it secularly).

So what does all this have to do with the universe conspiring to hand deliver a message to yours truly?

Background context? I suppose I could just get to the point and tell the damn story already though, couldn't I?

Ok, point of context: yours truly was freaking out about holiday traditions and feeling the need to assert/insert herself and her traditions into the season but struggling to find ways that would flow.

After meditating on it (didn't work, just got pissier with Mr Faye), I turned to my best friend to hash it out. She listened patiently and then said, "I had an interesting conversation with my Dad today that I think can help".

Here's the gist of it:

Her Dad's boyfriend is studying marketing and he came home to talk to her Dad about the advertising campaign for the mini Cooper being all based on being different, ie selling difference as an identity of choice.


Now the boyfriend really didn't take the conversation beyond the commentary on the branding being done. But this conversation between partners led to my best friend and her Dad having a conversation about our obsession as a society with being different only to ultimately end up being the same in the end. Because we all want to be unique, and many of us actively seek out to not be the norm, only to create a new norm.

Once upon a time, it wasn't normal to have tattoos. Now it's almost a rite of passage and abnormal not to have tattoos. Or piercings. Or funky hair colors. [insert whatever new common trend you can think of].

Ultimately the point he was making to her was that we need to question why we are seeking the different. Is it to rebel against what is, or is it to stand up for something that is genuinely important.

So after my freak out, my best friend pointed out this: is the 21st vs the 25th that important? Or is the meaning and message more important. Or because she's all about the self-help counselling stuff: the feeling that is being manifested (seriously, I miss BC and my BC hippie/yuppie world).

And it was like the gates opened and the weight lifted from my chest. Because I was fighting over peanuts. In the end, the traditions that we create will matter more in terms of the meanings we teach and imbue in them than the dates we choose to celebrate them on. I don't need to make it about the Solstice vs Christmas. It can be both, intertwined, in an easy flowing exchange. I don't have to fight so hard to assert myself, I'm already there.

And somehow, an ad campaign for a car, and the perfect timing and openness of each person in the chain of conversation, led to me having my epiphany and receiving the message I needed to hear.

Fuck I love how the Universe works. I really do. The answers are there if you're open to them. I just tend to be so busy beating my head against the brick wall that I miss them. But not today. So thank you. I feel truly blessed and awed by it all.

Here's hoping that the Universe is flowing well in your pocket of the world. Much love and season's blessings as the light and days prepare to lengthen again.

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