Category Archives: daily practice

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.

Bad Example

My Dad has been home from the hospital for over a week now and they are starting to find their routine.  I on the other hand am struggling to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

Anyone who’s ever been through a trauma knows some surprise at finding that, although for you time seemed to stop, the rest of the world didn’t.   It’s not that I’ve had my head in the sand.  I’ve done some grocery shopping, some reading, some cleaning, some laundry.  Orion is going to his day program bathed, dressed for the weather, and with a packed lunch.

I’ve kept up with my blog.  I’ve officiated at the coven’s Lammas circle.  I baked a pie.  What I haven’t done is pay the bills, return library books before they’ve become overdue, and turn in the end of the month time cards.  The lawn really needs mowing.  Weeding is not even on the list!

Daily practice for me is often my cue to pay attention to my choices.  It’s an opportunity for me to accept the responsibilities I’d rather avoid and reframe them as part of my spiritual practice.

Paying the bills may not seem like a particularly spiritual pursuit.  However, “a witch’s power is her word” so if I’ve incurred a debt that obligation is tied to my personal power.  I also recognize money as a form of energy, it ebbs and flows.  As I send it out I hope it will return three-fold (in value anyway).

Maintaining good financial practices does pay back.  I got a call from one of my creditors.  I’ve had a long-term relationship and always paid my bills on time.  They didn’t get a payment and wondered what happened.  I’m pretty sure I sent it, but maybe not.  In any case it’s taken care of now, and because of the history I wasn’t charged extra.

So I’d best get on my ritual gear.  I should pull out my magic wand (pen) and get writing.  Visa isn’t going to wait!

Anniversary

Throwback selfie

Throwback selfie

I was thinking this month was my 3 year blogging anniversary.  I actually started blogging in 2011!  Typical of me.

My “history” has never been strong on the numbers.  I often don’t even know how old I am.  (I’m not willing to do the math.)  My children keep track, and I’ll ask them if I need a number.  Orion is happy to tell anybody how old I am.  Not sure I appreciate that as much as I could.

I was 23 for 3 years.  Really, it was a number I could remember and an age I believed in.  I even had an argument with my ex about it.  I was filling out a form, or he was, and needed my age – 23.  We went back and forth at some volume in public.  He finally turned to me calmly and said, “Which one of us knows how old we are?”  ooops.

Blogging is getting harder to do.  I am not looking forward to writing the way I was at the beginning.  I often find myself struggling for a topic.  I don’t think I’m ready to give it up, but in this next year I may be more willing to take an occasional break.  Maybe not.  I’ve been surprised before.

Readers have come and gone.  Not many of you comment, and so sometimes I wonder if I’m making sense.  On the other hand I continue to get more likes and followers.  I’m really grateful for my readers.  It’s been delightful getting to know those of you who take the time to write little notes.  It’s been encouraging to see small shifts in readership.

Blogging has been part of my daily practice routine.  Writing it requires being aware of what is happening in my life.  It requires being willing to step back and refine those moments, magical and mundane, into words.  It requires being challenged to open up and share my actual thoughts and feelings.  It requires being vulnerable and present.

I hope that I have, at least occasionally, succeeded.

Thank you for reading!

Grateful

Navajo pot

Navajo pot

As we come up on Thanksgiving my Facebook feed is starting to fill up with commentary about “The real history of Thanksgiving.”   Most of it is true, and most of it I am familiar with.  America was built on the backs of people who shared their labor and their knowledge.  Rather than responding with gratitude, our white European fore bearers appropriated their gifts and made sure their stories written out of history.

So I want to take some time to be grateful.   I am grateful to be able to live on this bounteous beautiful land.

Pitaloosie Salia - Cape Dorset

Pitaloosie Salia – Cape Dorset

I am grateful for wild rice, and corn, and pumpkins and all the food that is indigenous.  I’m grateful to see tribal people standing up for their land rights against fracking and pipeline building, knowing how destructive those technologies are to the environment.  I’m grateful for the people who share the history not taught in our schools and who tell the stories of the downtrodden.

Ginger jars and bowl

Ginger jars and bowl

I’m grateful for the immigrant cultures that have brought so much variety to my life.  I’m grateful for fried rice and tortillas and collard greens.

Christine Ntakirutimana - Rwanda

Christine Ntakirutimana – Rwanda

I’m grateful for print and color patterns and architectural wonders that were never a part of my European heritage.  I’m grateful for literature with points of view that are different from my own, but which make it easier for me to shift my own perspective.  I’m grateful for the music, the meditation, and the technologies that make my life easier and more pleasant.

Hmong migration story

Hmong migration story

I have been blessed in my life with the opportunity to travel.  I have been in positions to decorate my home with artwork from other cultures.  I have had the opportunity to work and play and truly get to know people whose upbringing was very different from my own.

East Indian blanket

East Indian blanket

I’ve recently started an online meditation series Headspace.  As I move through the meditation lessons they ask me to reflect on who else benefits from my practicing these techniques.  Trying to build a business speaking on spirituality I ask myself, “who do I serve?  Who needs to hear what I have to say?”

I think the cultures and people who supported the development of this country had that attitude.

“How can I help?  Who can I serve?”

I think our culture has an attitude of “What do I get out of it?”   I’d rather live with the former.

Polynesian mask

Polynesian mask

I’m grateful for the opportunity to try.

Crafting

PART_1413213481581_20141013_101451Last week was time again for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University in Minnesota.  I’ve done quite a few blogs on this conference and my experiences at it.  (There’s a list of links at the end of this post.)  I don’t see any reason this year should be different.

I didn’t take pictures this year.  I thought about it.  I know the mantra of public speakers is “document, document, document” and still I couldn’t bring myself to dig out my cell phone and snap a reasonable shot.   Maybe it was because the fall colors were somewhat muted this year.  It’s still a beautiful drive especially along the Minnesota River valley, but it wasn’t “vibrant”.   Maybe it’s was because this years conference seemed slightly under-populated.  There just didn’t seem to be as many attendees, merchants or even energy as there has been in previous years.  Maybe (and this is the story I’m telling myself) I just wanted  to be in the moment.

For all of the underwhelming impression, it was a really good conference this year.  The keynote speaker, Layli Maparyan, was very dynamic.   She packed an impressive amount of information and hopefulness into her presentation.  She definitely set the conference off to a great start.

The prayer beads that start the workshop "Daily Practice Sucks"

The prayer beads that start the workshop “Daily Practice Sucks”

An event like this provides the universe an opportunity to send me messages, and this year was no exception.  I gave my workshop Daily Practice Sucks twice, and in both sessions I was asked if I ever did workshops on making prayer beads.  This is something I’ve been kicking around, but it was nice to learn that there is a desire out there.  In fact I keep getting the “ping” that I need to be doing more with crafting and creative projects.

I am so very resistant to arts and crafts that this is a real challenge for me.  There is a phrase that suggests “leaning in” to those things that challenge you.  Apparently I’m looking at a year of leaning in.  One of the workshop proposals I sent to Pantheacon involved a long term art project.  I took a handmade card making class at Gilda’s Club where I volunteer.  Last week my GOM girls had me playing with clay.  Just in case I missed the point, as I was packing for the weekend my prayer beads broke and I had to restring them.

Genesha

Genesha

Perhaps I can attribute that “dullness” I experienced as simply my resistance to what the universe is offering me.  I can choose to lean in and stretch my own boundaries or I can live in a “toned down” vision of what’s possible.  I’ll even admit that there is some appeal to calm, predictable, and low-key but I know in my heart there is only one choice I can make.    I guess I’ll roll up my sleeves and try my hand at some crafts.

 

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/grandmothers/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/conference/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/pain/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/daily-practice/

 

 

Attention

As much as I love food I’ve always been a casual eater.   I eat when I read.  I eat watching TV.  I go to a party and sit next to the food while I chat with everyone who walks by.  I grab pickles and olives off the table before everyone sits down.  I lick the spoons.

As I progress out of a totally liquid diet into eating pap I have found out the hard way that these behaviors have got to stop.  Don’t feel bad for me.  I’m thrilled to have an egg, or some cottage cheese.  Spices aren’t a problem so bland is not an option.  Paying attention is also not an option.

my one egg omelette with spinach, shallots and feta.  I couldn't eat it all.

My one egg omelette with spinach, shallots and feta. I couldn’t eat it all.

I don’t even remember what I was doing.  I could have been reading, talking to Orion, watching TV, reaching for my computer.  It doesn’t really matter.  I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating.   I did all the right things.  I measured and weighed portions.  I put everything (like there was a lot!) on a small plate.  I ate one bite at a time (I think – here’s where the attention part creeps in.)

I don’t know if I ate too much or too fast or both.   Before I was finished with my doled out portion I knew I was in trouble.  I’ve been avoiding that “too much” place.  Everyone I know who’s had this surgery says that it’s horrible and not worth it.  They’re right.   I knew I needed to go there once.  Now I have and I’m happy to avoid doing it again!

I tried everything to settle myself down.  To deal with the pain.  To deal with the “hot flashes”, it almost feels like coming down with a fever the body is working so hard to do too much.  I walked.  I tossed what was left on the plate.  I rubbed my belly.  It took a half an hour, but I was finally defeated and headed for the bathroom.

In retrospect it could have been my food choices as well.  The fish was a little firm rather than flakey.  Figs might not be the best bet for a side, with all those little seeds.  I’ve taken a half step back.  I’m sticking to things that look a little more like baby food and a little less like small gourmet portions.  Eventually I’ll get there, but not just yet.  First I need to focus on paying attention.

What am I going to do with the rest of these figs?

What am I going to do with the rest of these figs?

There is so much out in the world about Mindfulness.  There are writings about meditating and about being present in the moment.  These are not easy things for anyone used to multi-tasking through their days.  But these are also the things that have become necessary for me to be successful in this process.  It’s time to be more aware of my body.  It’s time to be more aware of how I am actually feeling.  It’s time to give up the notion of meeting a “goal” and simply respond appropriately in the moment.

The work is only beginning.

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