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.