Monday, December 21, 2015

word for the wheel: yule

I've been really putting way too much thought into this, but I think it's probably a good sign as it means I'm off to a good start!

Here are some of my thoughts on taking my word and thinking about it in light of Yule sabbat:

View and download pdf here.

I haven't decided whether I want to art journal or scrapbook this as a process but I am going to document my answers in some form. In addition to the questions above, I'm also going to take some time to talk about what my word means to me, taking a bit from this post.

I'm doing this process for myself but since I am intent on sharing it, if you feel so inclined to join in, please do (now or at any point along the way). I'll create a fixed page feed and anyone who joins in and lets me know, can be added to the link so others can check out how the word for the wheel is playing out in your life this year.

Happy Yule and blessings for 2016.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

word of the year

Every year I pick a word for the year. Some years I see that word manifest in big ways,  other years less so. Some years I drop my word completely because it no longer speaks to me or because I'm not in the head space to really commit to the reflections.

I'm ok with that,  especially in the last few years that have just felt chaotic and fraught with upheaval and change.

I originally though I would choose a word like nurture again as it worked so well for me years ago. It was broad enough to encompass enough and yet focused enough to feel directive.

After a fair amount of thought though I have come to what I think I need most this year:


It's a word that speaks to me on so many levels right now. Healing a broken heart being the most obvious of course but in so many other ways too. I've spent midst of my life wearing my self-righteous anger and indignant feelings on my sleeve, hiding my heart away in safe places because of a fear of rejection. Suffice to say,  I have had my reasons and emerging from the worst rejection yet,  I refuse to let my life be defined by it.

I refuse to close my heart. I don't want to kick it away and carry my emotions hidden away,  not trusting that they will be safe in other's keeping.

More importantly, I'm at my best and happiest when I live with my heart open. And everything in my life seems to be challenging me to do it more often and to remind me that things flow better when I do. From work to my marriage. From my second degree teachings to my role as a mother.

Of course,  being the thinking witch that I am,  I find it fitting that I'm contemplating how to bring about a new focus,  birth of a new word, a new intention on the eve of Yule. That I'm thinking aboutt how I can wall this path,  cycling through the sabbats with this word manifest in my life,  willing it into being and nurturing it through the seasons. I'm thinking about how other bloggers, scrapbookers, etc, take up the challenge of their word through the year and rethinking it in light of my own particular path.

Dare I say it but I think I've figured out how I want to link the wheel of the year to my reflections on my word. Stay tuned if you're a fellow pagan wordie.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

december reflections: day 12

I'm terribly inconsistent with these kind of things but I do love them.

For today:

December Reflections  Photo that represents your best decision of 2015


We tore out a wall and added a bench and shelf. The project isn't finished but we finally have a decent entry way, which makes me super happy! Our entrance was super crowded and awkward. I took out the closet door but with a partial wall it still felt really cramped.

Work: changing jobs

My job had been in flux for a few years and I finally made the decision to change jobs. It's been the best decision ever. I'm so happy in my new job. And I get paid to sit with students and decorate ornaments or talk about leadership or plan retreats or work to being a refugee student over. It's amazing.

So best decisions of 2015.


Friday, December 11, 2015

yulemas through a child's eyes

We've been doing the Yulemas elf over here in Faye-land and it's be super fun! We're keeping it simple. Tito the Yule Elf brings Little Faye a chocolate surprise every morning. Little Faye has gotten to the point that he actually looks for his delivered box when he gets up, which I didn't think he'd understand.

Clearly I don't give my son nearly enough credit!

My mother once said to me that Christmas was for kids and only now do I fully comprehend what she meant during that conversation. Watching the holidays through my young son's eyes, celebrating the season for the first time that he really gets it? Seriously amazing. Like amazeballs amazing!

It brings the magic back into the season and makes it special. And it's not about the consumerism. It's about his joy over the small stuff. The lights. The chocolate. Santa (even if he doesn't understand who Santa is yet). The gatherings with friends and family.

Yup. This year Yulemas, despite all the hardships surrounding it this year (sick family members, my mom drama, striking at work), is truly magical. Even without the snow.

And I'm very thankful for that.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Reverb15: imagination

I miss blogging. Ever since I became a mother, it's been something that has slowly drifted off my radar as I shifted my focus and learned my new role in life. (Or rather, a new role, I should say, because I believe that I am more than just a mother and the feminist in me needs that to be acknowledged).

Point being, I miss the process of reflection, writing and nurturing creativity. My god, I miss nurturing creativity so much that when I have an opportunity to create I'm almost paralyzed by remembrance. Taking time out for creativity is a balm to my soul. Yes, really.

Far too often we sacrifice the things that really feed us, nourish us, in favour of busy. Smartphones, internet, lists, work, every day life dramas.

Yesterday I was driving home, licking my wounds, focused on narratives that only harm my soul, when I looked up at the sky and noticed the sun between the big, white, fluffy clouds. It was a simple moment but it reminded me that the world is beautiful and that I need to remember to see the beauty. To celebrate and embrace it.

Where am I going with all this? No where really I suppose. Just reflecting on how I fill my days with stuff at the expense of moments and thoughts and joy that make me happy. I forget to get outside. I forget to write. I forget to make art. I forget to let go of the shit that drives me crazy. The games that mean nothing in the long run (how good is the art created, how many people read what I write, that it's cold outside, etc, etc).

So this morning, when Kat McNally's #Reverb15 oracle reading came through my email, I wasn't entirely surprised to receive imaginationinstead of love. While I feel like I could use some more love, it's not really necessarily true. I do have a lot of love in my life. What I need is the stuff that nourishes my soul and makes me remember to be grateful for the love that I actually do have; to follow my bliss as it were and stop being afraid of my own demons. Because quite frankly, the past season has really been about me learning to face down my own fears and tell them to shut up; both professionally and personally.

So here I go into Reverb15 with the focus being on letting go and embracing the new places my imagination and creativity will lead me in the new year.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Yulemas Countdown

I'm so looking forward to the holidays this year. I didn't go all out for Halloween cause I was just burnt out but "Yulemas" is going to rock this turn of the wheel. Little Faye (he's getting bigger, no longer a baby), is totally gung ho about all the seasonal stuff and it's amazing.

We put up the holiday lights this week and he loves them. The drive home from work has turned into a new adventure in pointing out all the lights that are out and about along the way. Next weekend we're putting up the tree and I think he's going to love the lights in the house.

Tomorrow we start an advent calendar for the first time. I've decided to have a knock off elf, named Tito by Little Faye, who will deliver a box daily as Little Faye is a little too young to get the waiting to pull out the boxes.

I bought the countdown boxes at the end of season a few years ago (clearly I have a hoarding problem) and only finally decorated it this year. It's not perfect but given that it's going to be used by a toddler, it doesn't need to be. At the end of this season I'll look for a wooden one that will last past toddler-hood.

I debated starting it a bit earlier to coincide with the Solstice but in the end decided that it was ok to sync it with the 25th. The overlap is close enough and the point of the season is still there even if I let it be generally celebrated as Christmas.

I always find it somewhat challenging to blend the holidays in a way that still honours my own traditions. I suspect it's going to be a lifelong issue for me. But it's ok. As long as he learns the important stuff, that's what matters. The dates don't matter as much as the general themes and values.

Hopefully Little Faye loves his Tito the elf advent adventures!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

my subconscious at work

The subconscious is a funny thing. While I'm clearly having mommy issues, my dreams are filled with men doing me harm. How odd is that?

In fact, the next before last, I dreamt of my stepfather hanging off me in a way that was suffocating and 2 men I know acting as probation officers (not for me) who were giving my stepdad a tour while he was shackling me emotionally.

Last night I was a series of different women being stalked and attacked by this one man and woke up screaming as he tried to hunt me down to hack me into pieces.

On some level I get these dreams as being a continuation of the nightmares I had a child (I always had 2 reccuring nightmares that featured men and clearly stood in for my biological father figure) but these dreams are very different. I guess my inner child is rearing her head again in this process.

Speaking of the process, I have to say it's an odd place to be in. To be grieving but not really doing so publically. In fact, I have a blogger whom I read who is going through a separation and is sharing the process in a way that I don't feel entitled to. But emotionally it's kind of brutal to be wrapped up in grief and yet be holding it close to me and not sharing. It's not my nature and yet, while part of me wants to share it with everyone because it's kind of the only thing I am thinking about on some level, it's also something I don't want to share at all.

I don't want to have to explain. There is no reasonable explanation for it. Ultimately, no matter which way you look at it, my mother's choice is coldhearted and irrational. Other than wanting more attention (a whopping call every few months), I am not a demanding child. And yet, people struggle to understand in ways that make me feel like I either have to defend her so that I don't look bad or accept their pity because what else are they going to do?

I suppose a divorce brings the same dynamic but still, people can wrap their heads around couples falling out of love. Rejecting a child and grandchild for no reason other than not being capable of nurturing a relationship isn't really something people get. And they shouldn't! And I'm happy for others that they can't wrap their heads around it.

But how to walk around in the world, privately feeling like the walking wounded? That's the question I'm navigating at the moment. And clearly, I guess subliminaly, I am feeling a bit under attack in the process!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

reflections on new experiences

I'm trying to make time for art journaling in my life, no matter how simple it may be.

I always forget how much my artist date/journal soothes me and makes me calmer. It's a meditation that actually in many ways, lets my brain be still because I'm just doing the one thing.

I may have mentioned before that I work with Indigenous students on campus, doing anything from orientations and support for the students to education and sensitization for the larger community.

It's been a crazy roller coaster learning curve for me over the past 2 years. I grew up being told that it was not my place as a non native (now I'd insert the term settler) to try to go into the communities and "fix" things. I grew up with an overwhelming fear of offending and of appropriating a culture that is not mine. Ironically, I can say that that same fear of appropriation wasn't something I translated into other cultures until recently (it's beena  big year of learning over here in Faye land).

Why am I even mentioning this? Well because honestly, being in this position has meant that I find myself in situations where I can feel a bit uncomfortable. I end up collaborating and sharing experiences where I am the outsider again. I am aware of the privilege being extended to me and hyper conscious of the need to be conscientious while participating. It's an odd, yet beautiful combination that keeps me on my toes.

What I love most are the moments when I find parallels and realize that despite the form, I am in communication with the same source; that I am still praying to the God and Goddess; that the ritual is tapping into the same process I am familiar with only differently. These moments make me happy and sometimes, every now and again, when I'm with members of the local community, I sense (or am told) that there is a flash of recognition, of shared understanding.

And it's such a sacred gift when that happens.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Breaking up and words as mantras

I'm not going to lie, I'm looking forward to letting go of 2015. It's been a hard year and I'm looking forward to it ending.

I'm looking forward to letting go off all the insecurities this year has brought and fully embracing the new strengths I've gained.

It's been a while since I've really done a word for the year. I don't know if one word really has rung true for me in a while but this year,  starting now instead of new year,  I'm choosing to find word(s) that nourish me and remind me of my worth as a person.

I'm tired of letting the bad stuff define me. I'm tired of letting my insecurities kill me. And I'm letting go of all the things and people who are toxic to me. This includes my mother.

Truth be told,  I've broken up with my mother. It's been years coming. I've held on way longer than I would have had it been anyone other than my mother. I'm not going to lie. It's heartbreaking and I'm reeling from the hurt and anger. But it's finally done and now I'm going to focus on healing.

And like any other break up that I've gone through I'm sure there will be good and bad days. I'm sure it'll likely take years for the wounds to heal. I may write about it here as this is the safest place for me to do so. Oh the ironies of the Internet and the anonymity of it at times. Some days it makes my world feel too public,  others it provides the cloak I need to be honest.

So anyways,  that's a snippet of what has been going on in my life this year. I'm off to find a word that will nourish my soul and be a balm to my wounded heart in the months ahead; a mantra and prayer to remind me to live and love with an open heart.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sanctimommy and the smartphone

Recently a post showed up in my Facebook feed that left me feeling really cranky. Essentially the post talked about how a mom or down her smartphone and counted the times her children looked up for validation from her. She counted something life 23 times that she would have missed if she was on her phone.

I get her point. I know that I'm guilty of being on my phone too much. That I miss things. And I'm working on it.

But here's the thing. I'm doing the best that I can to balance it all and posts like this just feed the mama guilt. And I'm tired of the not good enough ever present mother that I'm meant to be.

Do you think moms of the past were always watching us?

I don't think so. In fact I'm damn sure they weren't. They were shipping us outside to play. Letting us explore the neighborhood.

They were knitting or sewing or cooking (looking down and not watching us to be sure). They were having coffee with other moms or taking care of other children.

I'm not sure why this generation,  my generation,  is so intent on telling us to be present for every single moment. To engage with our children 24/7, when while cooking wholesome meals,  do yoga,  maintain our self through friendships and other means,  craft elaborate cakes and home decor,  etc, etc and stick expects us to be sane.

Can we just stop?


Some days I'm more present than others. Some days I'm a better mama than others. But my child is always safe. I'm always there. And guaranteed,  while I might not catch every single glance for approval or acknowledgement,  I catch most and my child knows he is loved.

Can we stop judging and start supporting? Can we remember that is important that we try our best and that our children know we are here?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

yulemas crafted gifts

I don't know what it is about Fall, but as soon as the air starts getting cooler, I start wanting to knit/crochet.

Don't ask me to knit in the summer, but during the dark turns of the wheel, I'm all over it!

I'm currently crocheting a blanket for a friend for Yulemas. She's someone who I think could use a little extra tlc this holiday season so I started this quiet about 2 weeks ago. I'm trying to remember to infuse it with love as I work, in hopes that she will always feel loved and cared for when she uses it.

Hopefully I've given myself a decent timeline to get it down before the holidays. It's always a little tricky to plan a handmade gift that gets down in time for the season!

It's super soft and warm, so I am hoping that it'll do the trick. The pattern is very simple, meant for a beginner, but the yarn suggested for it is really not beginner friendly. I was about 60 rows in before I caught a mistake I was making. I was looping into the wrong loop in my half double crochet because it was too hard to see the extra hole in the yarn. Instead of starting over again, I opted to continue with the mistake as it'll make the blanket thicker and warmer. But yeah, not an easy wool to work with, despite being cozy, if you're not able to see stitches well in fluffy yarns!

Here's to hoping I get it finished in time and that it does the job it's meant to do!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Art journaling with crayola

Who said mamas couldn't art journal? Me?

Clearly I was mistaken!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

every day tales from a non sleeping mom

It's been a while. Such is life. Here's what's new in Faye-land:

I started a new position in the college I work at. I'm now in charge of student engagement, aboriginal students, intercultural activities and leadership, and sustainability. It's kind of a huge job and while it's awesome because I love all the elements in it, it's a huge learning curve and big enough to actually be 3 jobs. Budget cuts have led to it being all fit into one position. Lucky me!

In all seriousness though, it's a pretty amazing gig and it was time to change focus. I was getting bogged down in the dramas of my old office.

This is my cat. He says hello :)
Baby Faye turned 2 and decided to go through the worst sleep regression ever, paired with separation anxiety. It was bad. Like I wanted to tear my eyes out bad. But it's finally getting better again. Thank god! I was just saying how I was digging this motherhood gig, finally, wholeheartedly, and then BAM, I was hating it like nobody's business. I was literally going to work for 12 hours days on 3.5 hours of broken sleep. Nothing looks clear or good through that bleary-sleep-deprived lens. I was throwing myself some rather big pity parties. I'll own it!

I've lost 13lbs (which isn't much more than last time I wrote but I didn't gain during the bad month, so that's just plain amazing). I'm still working on finding a balanced, sustainable approach to health and fitness and everything else. Trying to get exercise in on a daily basis, but also make time for the things I love. That will likely get easier as Baby Faye settles back into a happy space.

I'm actually starting to feel the urge to make time for crafty stuff again, though I admit that I'm daunted by the idea of stepping foot in my craft space. It's kind of a disaster! Here's what creativity looks like these days:

My kid is obsessed with transport. It's redonkulous. Who knew trains and tractors were so damn exciting? I didn't!
Baby Faye loves drawing right now. Those purple "circles" make him very proud. He was sure to let me know that they are in fact circles. I can't believe he actually knows what circles are already. I'm constantly amazed by how much more he knows now than I expect. In fact, remembering that he understands more than he can communicate has been a big part of working through his emotional anxieties lately.

We painted the bathroom. It was white before but because it was so dark, it looked grey and blah. Hoping the fresh colour will perk things up. I want to add blues and green into the mix, like the image below
I want the space to have a fresh but Zen feel to it. But of course, that has to be done with a toddler who touches everything in mind! We have this huge bathroom (it's such a waste of space actually) that I'd like to make more practical and warm.

I'm also working on an entrance project to make our entry look something a bit more like this:

It's not an exact match, but it's the main point of inspiration for the entry way. We have a friend who will build the bench and shelf for us. Not sure about the colour yet. I'd it to be bold and make a statement. But not red. I've have enough red in my house! The wood will have a more antique feel to it. I'm excited. This is a project I've wanted done for a long time. I can't wait to share the finished project.


Friday, August 7, 2015

600th post

Hello lovelies. This is officially my 600th blog post and to celebrate, I thought I'd give something away!

I thought I'd share one of my favourite intro to Wicca books: Wicca the Ancient Way

Here's how you can win (and yes, I will send it anywhere in the world):

1. Leave a comment saying why you'd like to win the book
2. Tweet about the contest

Simple right? Enjoy. I'll make the draw the day after the new moon (aka Aug 14th 2015)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Currently Reading

I'm currently reading The Art and Practice of Astral Projection by Ophiel. It's an oldie, but a goodie. I checked out reviews on goodreads and a lot of people say that this is a great book for it's time, but I think it's a solid read even today.

Granted, I admit to not having read any other books on astral 5
projection, so perhaps I'm out of the loop.

The tone is fairly conversational and I think that's what I enjoy the most. It feels like I'm sitting down with a teacher who is explaining how to go about setting this up as a practice.

Added bonus, the pace and tone of it make it a very easy, quick read (which rocks on a mama of toddler's schedule). I have other books that have taken me forever to get through, but this one is likely going to be finished by the end of the week, which is pretty amazing for me these days in terms of occult, non fiction reading.

I'm almost halfway through it and am enjoying how the text is enriching my practice.

Also just finished reading The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey. It's a zombie dystopia novel (are there any other types of zombie novels?) set in England in what seems to be about 50 or so years in the future.

Humans have caught a bunch of young zombies who display intellectual activity and are teaching/experimenting on them when the base is attacked and 1 young girl zombie with genius IQ levels escapes with a small group of humans. Blah, blah, blah. Tensions ensue between divided human beliefs and the ethics of what is right. The story ends with a twist (which is revealed all over goodreads so be cautious is you read reviews).

I enjoyed it. It was a good summer read that I was able to pick up and put down easily over the week.

I was (still am?) reading The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi but I'm finding it hard to get through. Something about it just isn't speaking to me even though it's plotline is, in theory, totally something I should like.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Random Update

The summer months are in full swing and we're currently in the midst of a big heat wave. Despite the heat, I love summer. I love the water, evening bike rides and the backyard adventures. We've had some pretty epic storms. I love summer storms. I didn't grow up with storms like we have here (I guess we just don't have the heat and humidity on the west coast for them).

Baby Faye is talking up a storm these days and I'm loving 2. The first year was such a hard year for me so I'm thrilled that it just keeps getting better. People told me that it gets harder as they get older, but honestly, I call bull shit. For me personally, it got easier. Sure walking presented challenges. As did temper tantrums. But this talking child who tells me where his bobos are and what he doesn't want to eat or that he's tired, is simply amazing. He laughs and has his own unique personality and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I kind of hated the newborn stage and am infinitely glad to be out of it.

We celebrated his turning 2 with a summer bbq with friends and baby friends. We have an inflatable pool for him in the backyard (ok, for us too) and he had a blast in there with some of his friends (or rather, our friends' kids). I never thought that I would say this but watching him have so much fun just made the day for me. I was so happy to see him happy. He loves the water and is also starting to really play with others and it's amazing. He has a friend at daycare and gets along well with the daughter of a friend I made while on maternity leave in a mom group, and I love watching him interact with other kids now.

No doubts about it, this stage rocks and I don't care what others say. It gets easier.

Right now Montreal is hosting Just For Laughs and this year they had a Live Read of the Big Lebowski. I went with a few friends and it was a really fun night. I was most impressed by Mae Whitman, she nailed it. She pulled off like 4 different accents and characters and had me laughing. The other actors were great, but mad props to her in particular.

I've been working hard on weight loss and am down 10lbs.

The past week hasn't been great but I've maintained the loss so that's a positive. I still have another 50lbs to go, 20 to hit my first goal, but I'm pretty proud of my hard work this past 6 weeks.

I've spent a lot of time rethinking my food and getting more greens and less carbs into my daily diet. I'm a believer in carbs, don't get me wrong, but taking the time to really look at my nutrition made me realize just how carb heavy my diet was. I like carbs. No, I love carbs. And they are definitely my go-to food when I don't make a conscientious effort to prep food and be mindful about creating balanced meals.

I knew that I ate carbs before, but I didn't realize that I ate so many. So ironically, these days I'm actually eating more, but less.

The trip down nutrition lane has definitely re-affirmed my belief in moving away from processed foods in favour of whole foods. It can be more time consuming because you lose the convenience of buying pre-packaged foods, but I think it's worth it.

I'm still struggling to make time for creativity. These days creativity looks like this:

I do need to find time for it, but honestly, I can't do it all and I've accepted that. Finding balance is a challenge but, like I said, it is getting easier.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Completed Project: I-Cord

It's taken me forever to do, but it's finally completed:

It's a crocheted circle cord, 5 stitches, i-cord (link takes you to a lesson on how to make one of your own). It's massive. Like feet upon feet massive and thick like a rope. But it's done and ready to be gifted. I started it as a Yule gift if that gives you any idea of my timeline on things these days.

It's the second I've made. The first was for myself and mine was smaller and thinner (I think I did 3 stitches) but this one is for a much larger circle (as opposed to my personal circles) so it's fitting that it has more weight to it.


Friday, June 26, 2015

unpacking symbolism and the modern reader

One of the things that often gets talked about in my field of work (education) is that current readers/students seem to be losing the ability to think critically; that they are becoming decoders of information but not necessarily "understanders" of information.

photo credit: Day 24. via photopin
In other words, we, as a society, are becoming, potentially through the use of Internet and social media, readers who read for recognition and not necessarily comprehension.

We recognize what we read but we don't necessarily think about what the words themselves mean. And this is becoming more and more pronounced in younger generations who are used to skimming for ideas in blogs, web pages, texts, etc. As a whole, we are learning to look for main ideas, key points, and general synopsis without necessarily thinking about the bigger meanings behind the points or interconnections between them.

Of course there are going to be those who disagree with me. And there are always exceptions to the rule. But honestly, after working in education for 9+ years, I'm inclined to believe this is actually happening based on my personal experience with students and how much harder it is to help many students make analytical leaps in processing information.

Lately I've been thinking about what this means in terms of spiritual literacy. When we think about so much of our spiritual literature being allegorical or metaphorical in nature, decoding becomes a HUGE issue and lends itself to overly literal interpretations of said texts. That thought kind of scares me. And not just from an other spiritual perspective. It worries me in regards to pagan faiths too.

To read Crowley or Valiente without understanding the symbolic nature of what is described means never truly understanding the deeper meanings and mysteries being explored or depicted. I don't know how many times my teachers have brought my attention to some deeper interpretation of a text, one that I missed or didn't have the foundation knowledge for, that has blown me away.

Is this the role of a good teacher, especially nowadays when information is so readily available (seemingly so at least): to decode the symbolic narratives so that mythic illumination is possible? Is this work we can do alone or do we benefit more when we work together to unpack deeper meaning?

What do you think?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

yesterday's post, in art journal form...

2015 has been a hard year for me so far. Not in the sense of everything is falling apart kind of hard, but rather in that I've been struggling to make peace with some longstanding family issues and personal patterns of behaviour that have been blocking me. I honestly don't know that I'm any closer to finding that peace and balance, but I'm still trying.

On some level, I'd like to think that acknowledging that these issues exist and that I'm feeding my inner furies is part of the spiritual growth process but honestly, some days this feels more/less true than others. It's a 1 step forward, 1 step back, 2 forward, 1 back, 1 forward, 2 back kind of deal.

And that's ok. It's part of the journey.

I'm just trying, in the meantime, to nurture that journey with the teachings of my craft in order to do the best I can. While I am not always successful, I can say, without a doubt, that striving to remember my path in the hardest moments has helped me appreciate the teachings so much more as I realize how rich they are.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

belated solstice blessings

I don't know about you, but I am so happy that summer is here. It's been a long 2015 this year in Faye-land.
We finally finished our front yard. The hostas along the
drive were the last detail to be taken care of.

I'm transitioning into a new job in a few days (after much ado and bureaucracy, always fun) and working hard on getting back into shape. Both of which have really taken my focus away from blogging and crafting. When my energies haven't been sapped by the work dramas, my focus has been hard at work re-evaluating my attitudes towards food and fitness.

It's been a humbling process, I have to admit.

I've been facing some hard truths about my relationship with food and how lazy I let myself be. Because really, I can be quite lazy, which isn't a comfortable thing to admit to oneself! And the
cycle of laziness sort of feeds itself and becomes an ongoing pattern of socially accepted self-destructive behaviour.

While I was not sitting in front of the TV, vegging; I was sitting with a book (usually mind numbing drivel) and vegging instead. I was unhappy with stuff at work, with my weight, family dynamics, and even my marriage and instead of being present and doing the work, I was ignoring it all by escaping into pulp fiction.

You see, I'm a lit geek from way back (master degree in literature) who has an unhealthy relationship with fiction. I don't read. I binge read. On top of which, all too often, I read to escape and avoid my life, which only then makes me even more unsatisfied with my life.

Baby Faye works out with Mama
It's a vicious cycle and I've really spent the past 6 months battling with it. I feel like, for now, it's safe to say that I am making headway.

I am reading a book. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi, very, very slowly. Like painfully slowly for me (as in I get about 2 pages in, every few days slowly). At this rate, I'll be done it by fall. But that's ok.

In the meantime, I am exercising. Doing sit ups, squats, planks, and lunges daily (using 3 challenges from this site) in front of my son, who thinks it's a hoot. I am also doing 30 minute workouts on a regular basis at home (I'm working up to about 5 times a week). My body didn't appreciate the shift into a more active lifestyle and kicked back quite a bit, but I can happily say now that my squats are getting lower, my planks longer, and I'm doing way less modifications in the workout routine than before (push ups are still a week point for me, as are some ab exercises).

And then there's the food. Ah food. I never wanted to be one of those calorie counting ladies, obsessed with everything she puts in her mouth. I believe that quality of life is important. That it's ok to have a treat every now and again.

But if I am honest with myself, there is a fine line between enjoying a quality of life and letting it be an excuse, which is what I was doing. I was eating too many treats and I was far too addicted to sugar. So I'm working on. I'm counting stupid calories and watching my serving sizes. GRRR. But as much as it has become a bit all consuming, it's been illuminating.

I don't eat enough veggies. And I'm a vegetarian. I rely on way too many carbs. I crave sugar and fatty foods like nobody's business just before my period. I need to be better about getting more protein in my diet, which is challenging as a vegetarian. Not impossible, but challenging because often many veg friendly proteins are high in fats (hello beans, nuts). I actually rethought my commitment to vegetarianism. I ate meat. For the first time in 20 years. Local, bio, sustainable farmed meats (for the most part... fish is a challenge). I see merit in the 100 mile diet and this is a far more challenging choice as a vegetarian.

My foray into meat eating has taught me this:

I still love turkey. I hate chicken. I used to love chicken. I tried pork. My mother is allergic to pork so this was a first for me. It's pretty good but pungent. I tried salmon. I don't dig it. I just can't do red meat. To be honest, I can't really do any of it. When I say that I tried meat, I mean that I ate at most, 4 bites of any given meat. My tummy isn't super keen on it. My mind even less so. I don't think it's going to take. I just don't really enjoy meat. So I'm pretty sure that my commitment to 20 years of vegetarianism has been re-affirmed. Lentils are my friends. And even though beans make me toot, I like them.

Long story made sort of short: I've been doing a lot of rethinking about things in my life. I've been trying new things and growing (smaller hopefully). I'm being open to change and learning a lot from the things change brings my way. I'm eating more leafy greens and carrot sticks. I'm exercising and reading more healthily. It's still all a challenge. I'm doing the work even though some days it makes me cranky because I think it's important.

The catch of course is that I recognize that fitness and food can easily become a new obsession and I need to be careful about replacing one form of escapism for another.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

It's amazing, in a few short days (literally days), we've gone from -4C to +14C. It's quite something. We went on our first adventure to the river the other night. Watching Baby Faye's face as the geese landed on the water, I was once again I am reminded of why we chose to move out this way.

I am honestly beyond awed by my son's joy and general amazingness these days. I am so very happy that where we live with provide him with a slew of amazing childhood adventures to grew up to.

And can I just say, honestly, heart to heart here, that I am falling more and more in love with my son every day these days, which is just so flipping amazing after struggling so much during that first year.

I remember feeling, in those first months, so guilty because I didn't feel like I radiated maternal love. I felt raw and bitter. Overwhelmed and isolated. And most importantly, like I couldn't be honest about how I felt without being judged a bad mother because I wasn't over the moon with love for my child. I "knew" that I cared but I didn't feel the awe and love that so many mothers ascribed to the mother-child bond.

But my god do I feel it now. And it's amazing. Despite all the trials and tribulations of parenthood these days, I can finally say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love this kid like I've never loved anyone or anything else. That each day he fills me with awe and wonder (and often frustration too but that's a given).

I'm just amazed by him and the things he does and is learning. Seeing the world through his eyes is an absolute gift and I'm so very thankful for the joy he has brought into my life. This age, so far, is his best age yet. Even with the temper tantrums and terrible twos.

Before he was born, before I knew he was a boy, I dreamed of him at this age. He was a blonde, blue eyed, chubby cheeked boy, walking and holding my hand. I awoke from that dreaming knowing not only that we would have a boy, but that he would be just that, blonde, blue eyed with chubby cheeks. The other day, as I walked with him from daycare, I was totally overwhelmed by the realization that this is it, this is exactly the baby boy I dreamed of in that moment. He is the exact age of that little boy in my dream and he's such a joy. From the way he points his finger and tells us "don't you do that" to the way he lifts his bowl and says "more" to pasta and oranges or the way he rocks out on his toy guitar (I kid you not, he really rocks out and neither of us have any idea where he learned it from).

More importantly, I am just so utterly relieved to finally feel like I am truly over the postpartum anger that coloured much of my first year of motherhood. And having come so far from those days, I also feel like I can be much more honest about those days now without fear of how negative I sound or the judgement of others. I think women (and men) need to be more honest about how hard the early years are.

Ironically, there are those who are, but often you only find them much later, after you're already drowning in the days of new parenthood and looking for solace. People tell you that it gets better, easier, but in the eye of the storm it really doesn't feel like calmer days will ever come. But they do. I promise. 


shaking off the winter blues

I don't know if it was just a rough winter or if something was in the air, but this past season has been a very heavy one for so many people I know, myself included.

I'm so very relieved to see the grass again and the buds starting to grow on the trees around me. The birds are out, the geese have arrived, the deer are in the fields around me and we even saw a muskrat in our backyard recently.

It's a huge relief to start to feel like I'm shaking off the winter blues. Each sign of spring and summer has me feeling more and more lighter and capable of letting go of the weight that has been dragging me down the past few months.

Thank god for that.

It has been an earthy, material winter. I don't know if I have ever felt so tied to the material world as I have these past few months. Ironically, just as I'm looking forward to shedding the dullness and heaviness that can be associated with Earth, I'm about to launch into an earthy month of practice. Go figure.

Actually, I think it'll be a nice closing to a long, dark season; one that will remind me of the more balanced nature of Earth and help me find the virtues of the element. Good stuff.

Here's to better, sunnier and warmer days!


Friday, April 10, 2015

belonging to place

I've been thinking a lot about home lately. From having a sense of belonging and connection to a place to having connections to people.

Part of my day to day work has me working with students who have rather complex relationships with home as they are both Canadian and of another culture, which leaves them with a dualistic concept of home. Home is both here and elsewhere.

At the same time, I also work with Indigenous students and am saturated with ideas of a deep seated sense of land and belonging.

The irony behind the fact that I work with the First Peoples and the Settlers doesn't escape me.

If anything, the fact that I am constantly navigating narratives of belonging, culture and identity makes me hyper aware of how complex and nuanced these ideas of home are from individual to individual, group to group.

But it also means that I am thinking a lot about what home means to me personally. Is Montreal my home after 15 years or is the West Coast of BC my home? My last trip back left me feeling very disconnected with the place I have always thought of as home. I have finally become that "immigrant" or displaced person who no longer fits with her home. I carry a glorified, static image of what home was rather than the living place that it currently is. My narrative of BC is stuck in the past and to the identity I had when I lived there. My BC is the place of my 23 year old self.

And yet, with all of it's language politics and tensions, QC isn't really my home either even though it is becoming more and more my home with every passing year. I see how I am beginning to internalize the narratives of this space even as I long for the ocean back home. Which is such a weird space to be in.

I guess, on some level, because I keep dealing with these narratives of deep, long seated belonging to place (for example, the discovery of Haida artifacts below the water that date back 13,000 years and lend historical weight to the oral traditions that have been handed down through stories), I keep thinking about what it means to know deep down that you are a part of the land around you.

I am the child of an immigrants. I am first generation on my maternal side (though my Dutch ancestors can be traced back to the 1300s in a particular region in the Netherlands) and 5th generation on my paternal side. I have never had a deep sense of attachment to place as I have always had a very nomadic heart. I have never wanted nor longed for (until now maybe?) a sense of belonging to place, not really. The fact that I have "settled" in the place is surprising to all who know me and really a by-product of my life partner more than anything else. I practice a spiritual path that comes from immigrants and is made up of mostly Western magical traditions though it does have many Eastern influences in it.

I can't help but wondering lately though, what would it look like if I actually dug in and claimed this land as my own? What would it look like if I embraced some of the traditions of the people of this land? (Albeit of course, in a respectful, non appropriating kind of way). What are the traditions of the land here and what can they teach me in my practice?