Category Archives: daily practice

Routine

There’s no internet at my parent’s house. But they are still there and I’m grateful for the time we have.

Routines, we all have them.  From the little rituals that get us going in the morning to the major cleaning, exercising, and vacation planning our routines help us get things done.  The problem is that we can be assured that our routines will, at some point, be disrupted.

Disruptions come in many forms.  An illness or injury can throw routines into a jumble.  Taking a trip or having guests will put pressure on our schedules.  Even something as simple as a change in the weather, or season, can throw a routine into chaos.

I feel as though I’ve been living in the land of disrupted routines.  Even when I think I have a handle on it something else seems to rear its ugly head and throw me off my balance.  I’ve been out of town (and not in a restful, renewing or inspiring way).  I’ve been dealing with allergies (spring is early this year).  I’m back into the remodeling project and even just planning has me throwing my hands in the air screaming.

I’m always willing to put off the routine to spend time with old friends.

I’ve missed two weeks of blogging.  The first week I new I was likely to miss.  Out of town and no internet handy it was unlikely I would get to it and didn’t make it a priority.  The second week I was still reeling from the effects of having my routines disrupted, again and again.

I talk about Daily Practice a lot.  Although Daily Practice can be part of the routine, I make a distinction for it.  Daily Practice, for me, is a small action with a big impact.  When I take up a Daily Practice it becomes a top priority, a commitment.  Daily Practice requires an attention, and often an attitude shift.

In the crazy of my world, with my routines all a jumble, I hold on to my Daily Practice like a lifeline.  I may not be as efficient, or effective, but I still do it.  I may not manage to get it done in it’s “normal” timeframe, but I still do it.  I may start with “oh shit, I have to do that.”  but I do it.

Spring coming early isn’t all bad. It does make me smile.

This is one of the many reasons for taking up Daily Practice.  Those small things can keep us going when we are physically, emotionally, and mentally out of sorts.  They become a foundation from which we can build a new routine.  They are a simple constant in an ever changing complex world.

Overwhelmed

photo by Nick Gatel   popupbackpacker.com

photo by Nick Gatel popupbackpacker.com

Yesterday was one of those days when I needed to give myself points just for getting dressed.   I meant to post a blog.  I had started one about a weekend worth of celebrations.    I had started one about the immigration ban.  I had started one about Imbolc and the winter thaw.   I just couldn’t manage to bring any of those topics into a coherent, cohesive whole.

I needed an ostrich day.  A day to curl up and put my head in the sand.  A day to pretend the world didn’t matter.  I didn’t talk to friends.  I didn’t get to my “to do” list.  I stuck my head in a book, turned on Netflix, and played games on the computer.

We all need an occasional day like that.   Right now there are many people who are practicing civil disobedience.  There are many people who are truly threatened by the political climate.  There are many who are suffering cognitive dissonance working to convince themselves that what they see, what they say,  means something else.  My Facebook feed is full of posts saying “maybe I should take a break from Facebook”

Sometimes we need to just take the time and space to actually feel our feelings.  There can be so much going on in our lives that our emotions become a jumble and we don’t know where we stand or what we think.  Allowing ourselves a moment to come back to our own center, without being battered about by our circumstances, can recharge us.   Taking time can allows us to be more effective in the world.

Unfortunately, sometimes those ostrich days make me feel worse rather than better.  It’s too easy to get into the cycle of self blame and guilt.  It’s easy to start thinking of all “better” ways to have used the time.  We live in a culture that has no patience for this kind of “time out”, and we carry that culture with us into our “time out” space.

It’s my Daily Practice that gets me through.   I get dressed.  Then, since I’m dressed I might throw in a load of laundry or run out to the mailbox.   I make my bed.  Then, since I really appreciate having the bed made I might tidy up someplace else in the house.   I do my language lesson.  Then, since I really do want a vacation, I might balance the checkbook or pack a bag or make a fun meal or even just tend to my seasonal spaces.

Doing the small Daily Practices I know I’m not lost in a hole.  I am not entirely overwhelmed.  I’m just taking some time out.  Doing the Daily Practices I have a springboard to reconnect, to move forward.  Doing the Daily Practices I am reminded to have compassion for myself.  I am reminded to appreciate what I do, and accept that I can not accomplish everything.

Daily Practice becomes a kindness to myself.  Doing Daily Practice is a magical act of transformation.  It’s not always apparent that Daily Practice is doing anything.  (That’s one of the reason “Daily Practice Sucks”)  But ultimately we practice so that when we need something to be easy, when we don’t have the time or energy, when we are looking for a lifeline we have the Daily Practice to lean on.

Maintenance

At least driving makes me work harder at keeping the inside clean!

At least driving makes me work harder at keeping the inside clean!

My car was due for an oil change.  Overdue technically, but not by much.   I have always been diligent about the oil change maintenance.

Thing is, technology is changed.   When I first bought the car, the first time I took it in for an oil change I was told the rules are different.  With new systems and synthetic oils instead of 3 months/3,000 miles it is annually or 10,000 miles.   I can’t keep track of that!

But now I’m driving for Uber and Lyft and racking up the miles on my car.  It seems like I’m back at about 3 months.  Maybe that’s just my perception.  Maybe I’m reaching for the familiar.  In any case I took the car in for routine maintenance.

Which of course got me thinking about maintenance.  In my home there are places that I’m pretty good about doing routine things:  laundry, dishes, paying the bills.  There are things that are beyond me (My kitchen cupboards are empty, but still almost a year later falling off the walls.  Don’t talk to me about banks!)  There are a lot of things that fall in between (like cleaning the oven and scrubbing the floors).

I thought about the blog I wrote last week, and reconnecting with friends.  Relationships require a certain amount of maintenance as well.  I’m not great about keeping in touch.  I’m less likely to make a call just to say hi.  On the other hand I’m likely to show up in an emergency or send a hand written note in a get well card.  Different skills sets I suppose.

Then I thought about general health maintenance.  The annual physicals got crammed in between Thanksgiving and New Years.  The letters keep coming from the insurance companies about which of my prescriptions they’ve decided not to cover.  I’m still doing allergy shots.  I do have some long term maintenance things here.  Mammograms and colonoscopies are not even annual events any more.  The rules change.

I come back to daily practice.  When I’m doing daily practice maintenance seems to get done, both on the long and short term.  When I let daily practice slide, everything seems to go downhill along with it.  When the rules change sometimes the daily practice needs to change, but that’s different from letting it go altogether.

Life happens.  Entropy happens.  Maintenance is necessary and unavoidable.  So I work on keeping up the calendar and consulting it daily.  I work on tucking in a small home maintenance job daily.  I juggle my appointments and phone calls and try to be available for my friends.

Small jobs, like packing up the holiday decorations.....

Small jobs, like packing up the holiday decorations…..

I also remember that the alternative to maintenance is crisis.  I don’t need that.  Maintaining to avoid it is worth a little gratitude.  Maybe a daily practice worth.

Author

resized_20161022_171951It’s been awhile since I’ve really felt like an author.  My first book is out of print.  The last few years I’ve been contributing to anthologies rather than writing on my own themes.  I’ve had a hard time making the space to work on my next book.  Life happens.

This past weekend, though, has been a writers week for me.   On Friday I attended Women of Words.   I’ve been a member of this amazingly supportive writers group for over a year, but I’ve had to miss meetings the last few months.  It’s great to feel “back on track.”

Then, as my regular readers know, I went to the Minnesota State University, Mankato Women and Spirituality Conference.  I spent most of the weekend vending my books (and the anthologies) and being “seen” as a writer.  I also gave a well attended workshop on Daily Practice (the next book).

my view for most of the weekend

my view for most of the weekend

There were some gems that dropped into my ears over the course of the weekend.   Some of them were immediately useful.  Others I’m still digesting.  I’ll share.

One of the Women of Words said that when you go to sell your books you need to have the expectation that they will sell.   Now that seems self evident, but I know I have set up vending with “Maybe I’ll sell a few books” in my head.  Not this time, and it made a significant difference in my sales.

The conference keynote speaker, Daisy Hernandez, talked about the power of memoir.  How when we share those personal stories we often find they are much bigger than we are.  In telling our own stories we tell a human story, a culture story, and there are at least elements of that story that belong in other people’s stories as well.  It’s hard for me to share those personal stories, but I know when I do my books are better for it.

My table was across from the artist who drew the cards in the Spirit of Archetypes divination deck.  I drew the Martyr card.   These cards carry “illuminated” and “shadow” meanings.  The shadow of the martyr is exactly what you think.  The illuminated archetype is about conviction and commitment to a purpose.   Like being an author and owning it.

Speaking about Daily Practice

Speaking about Daily Practice

When I speak about Daily Practice, and especially when I speak to women I have to address the issue of “How do I put myself first?”.  This comes across in a lot of ways.  It can be about time.  It can be about priorities.  It can be about reluctance to do self care.  It’s a very prevalent theme when I converse with people about their issues with Daily Practice and it’s certainly been one of my issues as well.

One of the suggestions I give to people who can’t seem to “do it for ourselves” is to dedicate the practice to the Divine.  Make your practice devotional, take a sacred vow to do the practice, add a gratitude component.  Essentially I recommend heightening the perceived value of the practice beyond just something we do for ourselves.

So… it finally occurs to me on the drive home to LISTEN to some of the things that come out of my own mouth.  What if marketing and promotion (the necessary and my least favorite parts of this job) were sacred service?  What if all marketing and promoting was about opening a channel for the Divine to inspire more people?   This one I’m still chewing on, but it tastes a whole lot better with this kind of seasoning.

Samhein/Halloween is New Year for Wiccans.  I’m feeling well packed for a new start.

Resolve

20160522_190956Resolve:  verb  with obj. ] settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter): the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days.

The solution to the problem in the kitchen is clearly to do a remodel.

no obj. ] decide firmly on a course of action: [ with infinitive ] :  she resolved to call Dana as soon as she got home.

That means calling contractors and getting bids to take to the bank to get a loan.

chiefly Chemistry separate or cause to be separated into components.

Components:  Contractor, Banker, Clear the deed, Subordinate city loan, housing for Orion and I while the work goes on.

So far, so good.

Got some tomatoes caged

Got some tomatoes caged

• no obj. ] (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns.

Contractors don’t want to waste their time writing up a bid on work that I 1. May not be able to afford or 2. May hire someone else for

The season is upon us and contractors already have work (with a GO) lined up.

There is probably more to do than I can afford and I have to prioritize.

This isn’t going to happen quickly.

The contractors who could do the work faster have larger teams/businesses and also larger prices.

The peony (and other perennials) need some attention!

The peony (and other perennials) need some attention!

Resolve: noun firm determination to do something: she received information that strengthened her resolve | she intended to stick to her initial resolve.

The only way this is going to happen is if I just keep plugging away at it.

Actually my whole life seems a little like this right now.  I put the gardening on hold, not knowing what will be torn up.  I can’t take it so I spent the weekend planting.  I’ve mostly got things in containers, so they could be moved.  But if this isn’t going to start until August I want tomatoes and basil!

The lawn has been mowed. That required having the tractor overhauled.  The blades needed sharpening and there was a nut that disappeared.

The hose has a huge hole in it.  It actually has for sometime.  I bought a new hose long enough ago I can’t remember.  I dug it out of the garage and hooked it up.  It actually reaches everything!  (Bonus, it doesn’t leak.)

Bills still need to be paid, and credit cards paid off – going back to the issues with the bank.  I need to find time to write, time to garden, time to tend to Orion, time out for myself.

It all comes down to resolve.

I still have a ways to go

I still have a ways to go

When the sun is shining and the breeze is keeping the bugs away I have to remember not to play hookey from my life.   I also have to remember to take a minute and appreciate the day.

I resolve to do both!

 

Definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary

Paganicon Weekend

Still bad at selfless. Trying to find the next workshop

Still bad at the selfie. Trying to find the next workshop

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend and it may take me a bit to come back into my regular routine.   Paganicon happened, which was fun and exciting. I did a presentation on Friday.   It was well attended and I got some very positive feedback.   I have to think it went well.

Ran into Sandy in the vendor room. I knew her from the Priestess Show on Blog talk Radio. We finally got to meet in person! (she took this one)

Ran into Sandy in the vendor room. I knew her from the Priestess Show on Blog talk Radio. We finally got to meet in person! (she took this one)

I spent plenty of time socializing on Friday.  This is a local convention, but it’s getting some buzz on the National scale.  Some of the guests and folks coming in from out-of-town are good friends.  It’s always nice to have the opportunity to touch base in person with those long distance relationships.

Saturday was our political district convention.  Both Orion and I were delegates.   This year Orion is excited about politics and I’m feeling fit enough to make it possible for him to participate at this level.  We struggle with accessibility in these venues.  On caucus night it was the crowds.  For the district convention it was the convention set up itself.

I don't have photos from the political convention but here's Orion at dinner with one of our long distance friends Crystal Blanton.

I don’t have photos from the political convention but here’s Orion at dinner with one of our long distance friends (and also from the Priestess Show) Crystal Blanton.

The building this district historically uses for its convention is technically ADA accessible.   There is a ramp and an elevator.  There are handicapped stalls in the bathrooms.   However the signage is horrible.

To make matters worse the convention was in the auditorium.   You may know most auditorium seating has a small designated area to accommodate wheelchairs.  Depending on the auditorium they may or may not have seating near them for companions.  But at a political convention the rules require that delegates sit in their precincts – not in the special seats on the other side of the room.

We found a spot in a little used aisle.   Little used because the door to that aisle was locked the entire day.  Every time we left we had to get someone to go around and let us back in.   The lighting was horrible.  I had eye fatigue and a burgeoning headache from trying to read the amendments.  Orion is legally blind.  He can read, but he needs good lighting.   I drained my cell phone battery using the flashlight.

I begged someone to take this for me. Not sure I've had my coffee yet!

I begged someone to take this for me. Not sure I’ve had my coffee yet!

In spite of being worn out we swung by Paganicon after the political convention.   It gave Orion a chance to visit with some of his friends.  He picked up a beautiful drum that he’s enjoying.   Orion has an inherent sense of rhythm and perfect pitch.

Sunday morning I was back at Paganicon to do a book signing.  It went pretty well for me after one of the organizers kindly found me a decent cup of coffee to get me through.  I spent the afternoon actually attending the convention, going to workshops and participating in rituals.

It was a good weekend.  I couldn’t have done so much, and at that pace, 3 years ago.   I am so grateful to be able to do these kinds of things again, and to be able to do them with Orion in tow.

Great panel on social justice and systemic issues!

Great panel on social justice and systemic issues (like accessibility)!

 

I was talking about my bariatric surgery and the outcomes with some folks I hadn’t seen for awhile.  These are people who have been in that internal debate about their own weight issues.  I said that I think part of my success is because I’m not focused on the weight or the numbers as much as I’m focused on the things I can do.

I can get down on the floor and up again.  I can go up and down the stairs.  I can walk from one end of the convention to the other and not sit down.  I can stand for my entire presentation and still manage to pack my stuff up when I’m done.  Gratitude keeps me on track.  Excitement about what I can do keeps me pushing to do more.

 

Packing and Unpacking

They're falling off the walls AND falling apart!

They’re falling off the walls AND falling apart!

As I pack boxes, clearing out my kitchen so that “someday” I can get those cabinets replaced (and a few other things taken care of besides) I find myself disheartened.   There is so much to do that it can seem overwhelming.  There isn’t even a start date, much less and end goal in sight.

I’m talking to contractors, talking with bankers, packing boxes and still the day-to-day life goes on.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  Many of my friends have been sick with the spring crud.  Several families I know are experiencing the family member in the hospital in critical condition trauma .   It’s not as though my kitchen is entirely worthless.  I’ve managed to deliver a few meals since I started packing things away.

I’m grateful that I have the time to be helpful to my friends in need.  I’m grateful to be healthy enough to face the tasks of the day.  I’m grateful it’s not Orion in the hospital this time, or me.  I’m grateful for the unseasonably warm weather.  I’m grateful for the blossoms on my jasmine plant.

I have a blooming begonia too!

I have a blooming begonia too!

As I go through my things and pack them away I find myself unpacking old issues that I apparently still carry around.  There have been moments where I’ve caught myself in a memory vortex.  I’ve run into out dated cans and remembered my parents moving out of their “forever” house into their retirement home in the North Woods.  I’ve come across baby spoons and sippy cups and remembered both the child who used them and the one who didn’t.   I dug up cookie cutters and remembered back when I’d bake for large events.

Packing is bittersweet.   I’m trying to keep it reasonable with a one box a day goal.  I’m trying to remember this is an opportunity to declutter.   I can use this to bring more tranquility into my home.  But right now it doesn’t feel tranquil.

Except boxes.  I could bring home more boxes.

Except boxes. I could bring home more boxes.

I’m shopping this week with a friend of my parents.  I chauffeur her around to run errands.  Occasionally I pick something up for myself along the way. Now I have to resist.  I can’t be bringing new things in, knowing I’ll just be packing them away.  New things are for later.  Right now it’s time to pack up the things I’m keeping and to unpack the things it’s time to let go of.

March is a long month, and this week is only half way through.  Best wishes for more sunshine and spring awakening!1

Mind the Gap

Happy birthday to me!  I started the week ready to celebrate.  There were meetings, cake, cupcakes and not enough protein.  I neglected to take photos.  I’ve always believed that the older you get the longer you get to celebrate.  I do have plans for high tea this week along with a dinner out with the kids.

Mind the Gap!  It doesn't look too bad

Mind the Gap! It doesn’t look too bad

There seems to be a gap, a gap between expectations and reality, a gap between celebrating and aging.  I’m a year past my last brush with cancer.  I’m celebrating.  I’m grateful.  I’m thinner, have more energy, get a lot more accomplished and have better general health.  I’m also ordering off the senior’s menu.

I’ve chosen to apply my birthday celebration logic to bridge the gap.  Every time this year I order off a senior menu I’m officially celebrating my birthday.  WOO HOO!   Honestly, the smaller portions make a lot more sense post bariatric surgery than they would have without it.  Another thing to be grateful for!

Gap number two is the time vs money gap.   There is a saying if you have the time you don’t have the money, if you have the money you don’t have the time.  I have found this to be generally true, although lately I’m feeling like I don’t have either.  Clearly I need another round of rescheduling and rearranging priorities.

Of course there are spots where the gap is considerably worse!

Of course there are spots where the gap is considerably worse!

I’ve started seriously working on my next book – about Daily Practice.  You would think that if I’m writing about it I ought to be able to put some of those things I’m writing about into play.  That helps with the time piece, but doesn’t address the money part.   I’m afraid if I go out looking for the part-time job that would bridge the money gap I’ll lose the time I’m spending writing.  Such a dilemma!

I could also write like a mad fiend and then work like crazy to promote the new book.  I could create opportunities to speak on the topic, and get paid for it.  I could invest in my new lifestyle vision.    It sure sounds good on paper!

The time vs money dilemma runs me headlong into the third gap.  Which is an actual gap – as my kitchen cupboards are slowly falling off the wall.   I’m looking at a major expense, no two ways about it.  My kitchen was “old” when we moved in 23 years ago.  It needs a serious remodel.  Lot’s of planning (and time) and potentially moving for a bit.  Certainly there is deciding what stays out and what gets packed away.

Until you begin to realize all the cabinets are falling off the wall!

Until you begin to realize all the cabinets are falling off the wall!

Disruptions happen, it’s part of life. Finding the way to stay on our feet, keep moving forward, continuing our Daily Practice, that’s balance.  It’s an active word.  It’s about making choices.   So I go back to the first gap and decide I’m old enough to have earned a new kitchen for my birthday.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy Imbolc

20160201_105835I’ve written several posts on this Sabbat in the past (links at the bottom).  It’s the time of year when we notice the days are getting longer.  Back before artificial light cows and hens stopped producing in the dark time of the year so it is a time to celebrate the return of eggs and milk.  Many animals are at the “birthing” time in their cycle.  It’s a good time to start things.

For many people who make New Years Resolutions it’s the time to recognize failure.   This is why I don’t do New Years Resolutions any more. Who needs to beat themselves up?  Not me!  But it is a good time for me to recognize where I need to get “back on track”.20160201_110101

Sunshine and winter thaw is a good motivator.   But I’ve got an even better one.  My copies of Pagan Leadership Anthology: An Exploration of Leadership and Community in Paganism and Polytheism  came in the mail!

This anthology, edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood and published by Immanion Press, includes a piece I wrote.   That’s where I need to get “back on track”.   I’ve kept up with the blog, but have been actively avoiding other writing – for no good reason.

Getting the books in the mail reminds me “I am a writer!”   I have authored 2 books  (Manifest Divinity and When Gods Come Knocking) and have published works in 3 anthologies (Pagan Leadership, Bringing Race to the Table, and Rooted in the Body Seeking the Soul).   Writers Write!book_when_gods_come_knocking_small-1 Manifest Divinity Front Cover hi res

The season marks the time to get back into the daily practice of writing.  For me, I find that it helps to set aside a particular amount of time I MUST write each day (with an eye to when I might squeeze that in).   The amount of time can be minuscule.  10 min, 20 min, an hour, how much doesn’t matter.   I need to sit down and do it.  Once I start I’ll write until I’m done, sometimes all day.  It’s the getting started where I need help.bringing race to the tableRooted in the Body

This time of year is the “housekeeping” time of year.   What have you been avoiding that really needs to be done?   Just do it.   Think of it as preparing the way for spring.

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/hope-2/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/stir-crazy/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/bonus-blog/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/light/

 

The Party’s Over

The party is over

The party is over

The holidays are over, at least for most of us, and it’s time to get back to the daily grind.  I suppose those New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to help with that.  All those good intentions with the opportunity to put them into play.   I don’t bother with them anymore.  They seem to just lead to great disappointment when, by February, I’ve forgotten them completely.

There are still leftovers in the fridge.  The last of the sweets are around the house.  The decorations get packed up this coming weekend.  It’s cold, and dark, and a little bit sad to see all the sparkle go away.  Resolutions don’t do it for me, but this is the time of year when I lean heavily on Daily

Decorations need to come down

Decorations need to come down

Practice.

Daily Practice can mean a lot of things.  A diet requires daily practice, as does an exercise program (or physical therapy).  Most spiritual systems encourage some sort of daily practice.  Writing, learning a new language, honing a skill all good candidates for daily practice.  And I’ve done them all, at least for a while.

When it’s dark, and a little depressing I use daily practice to “prime the pump”.   I find some very small thing that’s easy to do, even if I have to quick do it before I go to bed because I’ve forgotten or put it off all day.  Then I just commit to doing it.

Lately my daily practice has been making the bed.  This is not a hardship.  I have a duvet (and right now an extra blanket/bedspread).  There are no hospital corners involved.  All it takes is a quick tidy.  I can do it in less than a minute.  There is no excuse not to make my bed.  I just never did it before.

Thank you to those who followed and prayed on the Wounded Knee Anniversary!  Moving Forward in a Sacred Way certainly warrants Daily Practice!

Thank you to those who followed and prayed on the Wounded Knee Anniversary! Moving Forward in a Sacred Way certainly warrants Daily Practice!

This one small thing doesn’t seem like a spiritual practice.  It doesn’t look like much of anything, but it makes a huge difference in my day.  Every time I walk into my room and see my bed made it makes me smile.  It makes me feel special, like I care about myself.  It makes me want to be better at all the other things that need doing.

It does exactly what I’m looking for from Daily Practice at this time of year.  It gets me started on the right foot.  It sets me up for a productive day.  It primes the pump.

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