Category Archives: seasonal

Little Things

hyacinth are peeking up in my garden

It was a grey and cold and rainy week.  I’ve got a chill that I can’t seem to shake, even when the sun peeks its head out.  I’m doing all the “celebration of spring” things you might expect, but I’m still not feeling it.

This is actually the hardest time of the year for many traditional peoples.  The stores are gone and the new food, spring’s promise, has not actually arrived.  Pulling the sap from the trees was probably originally an act of desperation.  Weather transitions are not easy either, and in Minnesota those transitions can swing very broadly and with little warning.  60 degrees one day and snow the next is not unheard of here.

Ran across this shrine down by the river.

I’m trying to pay attention and really honor the small things.  The little delights and surprises in my days.  I met a friend last week and she said, “Do you want to go out for lunch?”   YES!    I made a lovely venison stew and brought it to share for dinner with another friend.  I threw colored eggs in the river (a magical act that’s part of my Tradition’s practices for the season) and came across a lovely shrine.  I think it’s Hanuman the Hindu God who represents devotion and intellect.   Hmmmmm……..

I also saw a bunny in a knot of wood.   It made me smile, after all it is the season.  I picked up my pastel colored M&M’s the last time I went to the store and I’ve been eyeing the Cadbury eggs.

Bunny in the wood

This morning I went to http://gildasclubtwincities.org for the Euro Cafe Social.  What a treat to have breakfast made for me.  This is an occasional event for members to meet and get to know each other.  The origins of the Euro Cafe were with a member, who most of us knew as Uncle Jack.  He lobbied for more social events and cooked for the first several Euro Cafe’s.

Uncle Jack loved to cook, had a great sense of humor and always had a hug for anyone who needed it.  He was the one who noticed the day I got my diagnosis of endometrial cancer.  He didn’t ask what was going on, just if I needed anything and gave me the hug I asked for unconditionally.  Working at Gilda’s we do lose members to cancer, but Jack’s memory will live on and I’m honored to have known him.

Ryan making crepes for breakfast

That sweet bitter sweet is very much my mood of late.  It’s how I’m feeling about the changing seasons and about the world in general.  Talking to people it seems like it’s a feeling that’s going around.   How are you coping?

Inspiration

It is the spring equinox, when day and night are of equal length.  We’ve had such odd weather I’m not sure if spring is coming or going.   I’m looking at the celebration of new beginnings and feeling like I need a little inspiration.

I spent the weekend going outward for inspiration.  I went to my writers group and listened to these amazing women talk about their plans for their books and their writing.  I left feeling better, but it was St. Patrick’s Day and that seemed to be what filled the air.

I also went to Paganicon, the local convention.  I saw old friends, attended a few workshops, and escorted Orion around.  I didn’t present this year.  He really wanted to go, so this year it was his convention.  One of the unique things about Paganicon is the exhibition of Pagan artists, sponsored by the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists.  There were some beautiful pieces this year.

I left the convention with some ideas about things I’d like to plant in my life this new year.  I just don’t have clarity about how I want that to work.  On the way home the weather turned again.  The sun was shining and it was 55 degrees out.  It really felt like spring.

I decided to follow an impulse and stopped to buy flowers.  I brought them home and put them around my house.  They are my inspiration.  They are a little sign that spring is really on its way.  They make me smile.

What is your inspiration?

 

Previous blogs about the spring equinox and about Paganicon:

Emotions

Happy Spring

Spring Fever

30 degrees

Paganicon Weekend

Paganicon

Grateful

 

Daylight Savings

Daylight savings time is kicking my ass.   I am not a snooze alarm fan.  However, given the opportunity I will occasionally go back to bed for 10 minutes, or 20, or 40…….    This morning I still want to go back to bed even though I’ve been really up for over an hour.

Daylight savings time is a great example of our country ignoring the facts in favor of a belief.  With daylight savings we don’t even share a common belief!  We just all have our rationalizations.  We have daylight savings because it’s better for the school children to wait for the morning bus in the light.  We have daylight savings because it save energy.  We have daylight savings because it’s better for the farmers.  We have daylight savings so that there is more daylight during our waking hours.  We have daylight savings because it “saves” daylight.

I call bullshit!   Sure it’s better for kids to wait for busses in the light rather than in the darkness.  But weigh that against bus drivers whose internal clocks are all messed up and whose sleep schedule has been disrupted.  Maybe daylight savings saves energy, maybe it doesn’t.  Turning off the lights when we’re not using them probably saves a lot more.  How much energy do we waste making our kids drive over to change the clocks on the electronics for us because we can’t figure out how to do it ourselves?

As for “the farmers” there are centuries of farmers doing what they need to do when they need to do it, regardless of the time of day.  Furthermore I know (and so does anyone whose pets expect to be fed at a certain time of day) that animals are not cool with us arbitrarily changing the schedule.  Frankly, humans are not cool with this arbitrary change of the schedule.  The entire nation has jet lag.  Coffee shops across the country have sales because they know the regular one cup isn’t going to cut it today.

I’d say it’s probably worse because of the weather.  We got a blanket of snow yesterday.  But spring and fall weather is always variable!  The stress of the seasonal changes aren’t enough, so let’s add another random factor into the mix?  Does that sound like a good plan?

But we stick with Daylight savings, because we’ve “always done it that way” (also not true) or because we believe one of those crazy rationalizations.  I’d say “wake up people” except that I can’t wake up.  My sleep schedule’s out of wack and all I want to do is curl up and go back to bed.

Happy Birthday to ME!

This is my parents at Thanksgiving. Silly me didn't take photos when I was up.

This is my parents at Thanksgiving. Silly me didn’t take photos when I was up.

I’ve maintained for some time now that the older I get the longer I get to celebrate.  This year I’m pushing that edge with everything I’ve got.   I’ve got a lot to celebrate!

I feel good.  There have been many years where I haven’t.  Two years ago I was recovering from surgery.  Five years ago I couldn’t move.  25 years ago (or was it 26) my birthday party felt like a wake because I was in chemotherapy.  Feeling good, willing to go out, having fun finding dress-up clothes, those are all worth celebrating.

I still have family.  I started celebrating my birthday at the beginning of the month when I made a cake and packed it up to my parent’s house.  My Mom and I share a fondness for german chocolate and a homemade cake is particularly appreciated by both of us.  At this point neither of us needs a cake to ourselves so we share.  Her birthday is in December and mine is the end of February so there is usually a freezer involved along the way.  Having her around to share and appreciate the cake she taught me to make is definitely worth celebrating.

Karina, Orion, and Dakota took me out for restaurant week.

Karina, Orion, and Dakota took me out for restaurant week.

My kids seem to like spending time with me.  I got Orion buying me flowers for valentine’s day and Karina’s “step-son” picking out roses for Oma’s birthday.  We all went out to dinner (restaurant week falls close enough to my birthday to make that easier).  Karina has also just said “hey, want to go out for drinks” and swept me up late night just because it’s my birthday.  Orion and I have been to the movies, twice, and he’s also joined me out to brunch with friends.  All worth celebrating.

My friends are finding time to “catch-up”  I’ve had three brunches this month.  I’ve had lunch and a trip to the Swedish Museum.  I’ve had dinner with some old friends, and am still making plans into March.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the telephone.  Birthday presents have appeared unexpectedly.  I have acquired a significant amount of birthday cheesecake.  It’s really nice to know that people I care about are thinking about me.  It’s great to touch base and reconnect.  I’m not good at reaching out so having people reach out to me is very much worth celebrating.

The Swedish Institute is beautiful and the immigrant and refugee exhibits were powerful!

The Swedish Institute is beautiful and the immigrant and refugee exhibits were powerful!

I know that extending my birthday celebration means sometimes I decide it’s about me when really it’s not.  Today (Monday 27th) I’m having “birthday breakfast” at Gilda’s Club.  It’s really the monthly “Euro-Cafe Social”, but hey for me it’s birthday breakfast.  I’ll get to visit with people I work with and when I call it birthday breakfast they’ll all say happy birthday.

It feels good to be acknowledged and it gives me a lot of reason to be grateful.  I have places to go, things to do and people to do them with.  I have generous friends and family.  I have enough energy to go out and enough control to bring home leftovers.   Extending the celebration means I get to really spend time with people rather than being overwhelmed by a crowd at one big bash.  I am truly blessed.

Happy birthday to me.

Birthday cheesecake from a friend. I didn't have to make it so no complaints.

Birthday cheesecake from a friend. I didn’t have to make it so no complaints.

 

2017

resized_20161231_190721It’s a New Year!

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for a lot of reasons.  The biggest is that I don’t keep them, so why make them.  Not that I object to having goals and dreams, but that success builds on success.

I’m much happier with big dreams and small achievable goals than with the notion of creating a resolution for change at a time of year when I’m already reeling.  I find it difficult to start something new at the same time that I’m trying to re-coop – (physically and financially) from the holiday hoopla.

This particular year, this particular “cultural transition” from 2016 to 2017 has been filled with a lot of public angst.  The notion that 2016 was “so bad” that 2017 “has to be better”.   I’ve always been reluctant to tempt fate that way.

There’s a lot of fear going into 2017.  I’ve written about a shift in tone in human interactions.  I’ve talked about the disenfranchised who feel particularly targeted and threatened by the new political climate.  I’ve got personal fears as well, with aging parents and tightening purse strings.  My “safety nets” are not what they used to be.

Our host with a wonderful root vegetable bisque

Our host with a wonderful root vegetable bisque

Sometimes I think I talk because I need to hear what I am saying.   I talk (and write) a lot about practicing gratitude to fight depression.  Fortunately I got to spend New Years Eve with some lovely people who chose to apply that practice.

It was an event designed to set the tone for 2017.  The dinner guests were chosen specifically to suit our host’s preferences.  No one was there “just because”.   The decor was elegant, the food abundant, exotic, and heart warmingly delicious, and the atmosphere both festive and a little nostalgic.  There was warmth and laughter and acceptance and I was grateful to be included.

When the champagne was poured we went around the table and each had to talk about something wonderful that happened for them in 2016.  There were several people who had milestone moments that they could point to.  A few of the guests spoke of unexpected opportunities that had become available to them.  Clearly, Facebook memes aside, not everyone had a horrible year.

I didn’t have a “horrible” year either, but I did have a really difficult time finding something to be grateful for.  Then I stopped going over the events of the year that I recalled (most of which were attached in some way to a funeral) and looked at the room.

The chef extrodinaire (and my daughter :)  )

The chef extrodinaire (and my daughter 🙂 )

I got to have a night out.   I got to have a few days without Orion in tow.   I got to have a beautiful fancy dinner that I didn’t have to pay for.  I got to have an opportunity to dig up the dress-up clothes.   I got to reconnect with a friend (our host) and acknowledge that connection with hope to deepen our relationship in the future.  I got to have fun.   I got to be in the room.

Then I looked back at the year at all the other friends I’ve connected with.  I looked at the new friendships I’ve worked at strengthening.  I looked at all the “rooms” where I’ve had the privilege of being included.  There have been a lot.  Even those funerals provided opportunities for me to reconnect.

This is what I’m grateful for and what I hope to find more of in 2017.  Connection.

Desert - a butterscotch silk with sparkles.   Hope 2017 sparkles as well.

Desert – a butterscotch silk with sparkles. Hope 2017 sparkles as well.

Happy New Year!

‘Tis the Season

resized_20161207_093548It’s cold and it’s dark.  Thanksgiving was late, so it feels like the other holidays are coming early.  I’m having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit – for any of the holidays.   Yule is fast approaching.  The winter solstice, the longest night of the year, is this week.   All I want to do is crawl under the covers.

Maybe it’s the politics.  Maybe it’s the news stories.  Maybe it’s just a general sense that certain people feel like they now have permission to be rude, racist, misogynistic and all together nasty.  It definitely feels like the longest night.

The thing is, most of the winter holidays are celebrations of hope.  They are a coming together of families, of communities.  Many of them are directly linked to survival, either as an acknowledgement of the ancestors surviving or as a sacred working towards surviving the rest of the winter.

41182543-jewish-holiday-hanukkah-celebration-with-vintage-menorahBoth Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrate the faith, perseverance and fortitude of ancestors in the face of insurmountable odds.  Even the Christmas story has Mary and Joseph finding shelter where there was none to be had.   If our ancestors beat the odds, so can we.  We have their support, their example, and when our own faith wains we can lean on theirs.

The Islamic calendar is lunar, without some of the “corrections” in the Jewish calendar that keep festivals seasonal.  Currently Muslims are also celebrating the birth of the prophet, not Jesus but Mohammad.  Along with the longest night comes the birth of the sun.  In Christianity the savior is born.  There is hope in the metaphor of birth.  There is potential for something better to come along.  There is a new way of approaching the world being born.resized_20161218_142133

During the longest night people came together to share stories.  Like Hans Christian Anderson’s the Little Match Girl they create visions of the futures they wanted to see.  Dreams of sugarplums dance in their heads.  They’re visited by ghosts, ancestors, departed friends, spirits with teaching visions.  Hearth fires are tended, and gifts are exchanged.

In O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi it is the wise (or foolish) sacrifice that is a gift of love.  Yet some of the pressure of our season is that consumer culture that measures how much or how many above how thoughtful, how generous.  Finding the “right” gifts, or making them, is often how I come to the spirit of this season.  And again, this year that has been more difficult.

I’m finding more seasonal joy in sharing a protein bar with a homeless man on the street corner than in exchanging packages.  I’m finding more seasonal joy in being able to encourage a teen I’m driving to school than in writing a holiday letter.  I had more fun shopping for my women’s group ritual (where the presents represented themes rather than being for specific people) than I had baking for the family.resized_20161219_102719

I’m hoping for the hope.  I’m leaning heavily on tradition to see me through.  I’m going through the motions, believing that movement brings movement.  I am reminded of being 9 months pregnant, miserable, impatient and not really knowing what the future would bring.

Let the bells ring out.  May joy and peace be shared with all.  May love and kindness fill the world and vanquish cruelty and hatred.  May you all have a blessed holiday season.

 

Previous blogs about Yuletide:

Yuletide Greetings

Gifting

Holidays

Merry Merry

War on Christmas

 

Giving Thanks

 

The Tower card from the Morgan-Greer Tarot

The Tower card from the Morgan-Greer Tarot

Gratitude is difficult when the world seems to be falling down around our heads.  It is difficult to find gratitude in crisis.  It is difficult to find gratitude when we feel threatened.  It is difficult to find gratitude under stress.  But it is especially during these challenges when we need  gratitude the most.

Practicing gratitude is uplifting.  Even seeing people who seem to have less than we do being grateful can be inspiring.  Knowing what we have to be grateful for is like finding a lifeline in a troubled sea.  When we most need something to hang on to, an active practice of gratitude gives us just that.

Thanksgiving is a highly charged holiday.  There are the family dynamics.  Mixed families, blended families, new relationships create conflict over who gets to be with who when.  There is finding table talk that doesn’t push buttons, make judgements, and generate huge arguments.  There is the food both, expectations and execution, and issues of tradition versus lifestyle.

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris 1863-1930

The First Thanksgiving
Jean Louis Gerome Ferris
1863-1930

Thanksgiving is also highly charged politically.  Not just with the family table, but the actual nature of the holiday itself.  What we celebrate is the coming together of the European settlers and the Native Americans.  The reality of that relationship is not nearly as peaceful or generous.  Even now at Standing Rock Native Americans on their land with their supporters are being treated in ways that have the United Nations, the ACLU, and Amnesty International making statements against our government’s actions.

I am reminded again about the power of gratitude, and so I write reminding you.   Let’s all take a moment, many moments, this week and dig deep into the things we do have to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am grateful for all the people who work peacefully and diligently to preserve my civil rights, my breathable air, and my drinkable water.

I am grateful for all the people who work to ensure I have good, healthy food available to me especially all winter long.

I am grateful for all the people who are actively kind to others, who help those in need, who work with populations (in prisons, the mentally ill, impoverished families etc.) that I am not equipped to help.

I am grateful for the small opportunities I have to do my part to bring kindness, and caring, and loving support into the world.

I am grateful for the support I receive (from family, friends and strangers) just to be able to function in this world.

I am grateful to have a platform and readers who support my work. – Thank you!

What are you grateful for?

The right to vote

part_1414966271790_20141102_161041As someone who works with ancestral spirits it is important for me to acknowledge that my ancestors put themselves on the line so that I would have the right to have a voice in how my life would be governed.

In fact everyone in this country has the right to vote because some ancestor put their lives on the line for that right.

If you are a white male landowner you have the right to vote because we fought for independence from hereditary kingship.   Right to vote 1776.

If you are a white male who does not own land, but who is strongly in support of states rights when you got the right to vote varied considerably.  This was a state by state decision and the last state finally came in almost 100 years after the revolution.  Right to vote 1856.

If you are a Native American you pretty much didn’t have the right to vote until you’d been educated away from your people.  The boarding school era, where children were ripped from their homes and sent away to school where they were given Christian names and punished for speaking their native languages was from the late 1800 into the 1900’s.   Congress granted the right to vote in 1924, but again some states maintained their right to prevent natives from voting and did (despite congress) until after WWII.  Right to vote 1957.

27 Sep 1948, New Mexico --- Federal courts ruled in favor of granting Native Americans the right to register and vote.  The New Mexico State Constitution had previously denied voting rights to those who did not pay property taxes while living on reservations lands. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

27 Sep 1948, New Mexico — Federal courts ruled in favor of granting Native Americans the right to register and vote. The New Mexico State Constitution had previously denied voting rights to those who did not pay property taxes while living on reservations lands. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

If you are female (and I am) you may have relatives born without the right to vote.  Women fought for the right to vote for over 70 years.  In the musical Hamilton the Skyler sisters are determined to make Jefferson include women in the rewrite.  Abigail Adams wrote to her husband “Don’t forget the women.”  The suffragettes  were beaten, jailed, ostracized and ridiculed.  These women were feminists and that word still has degrading implications.  Right to vote 1920.

If you are black in this country you are still struggling for your right to vote in some states.  Although blacks officially gained the right to vote in 1870 there were many barriers placed to keep them from the polls.  Plantation owners intimidated their workers and refused to allow time off or transportation.  Polling places required fees (often waived for poor whites and increased for middle class blacks) to vote.  There were “intelligence tests” demanded for registration.

The voting rights act of 1965 – which required a filibuster to pass congress – eliminated those discriminatory practices.  Unfortunately in 2013 the Supreme Court decided that the voting rights act was no longer relevant or necessary.   Some of the contention in this election and much of the concern we hear from the United Nations is because of the indication new versions of Jim Crow voter restrictions are being put into place.   Right to vote 1965-2013.  Currently depends on State and circumstances.

Peaceful protesters in the Jim Crow south

Peaceful protesters in the Jim Crow south

Immigrants have the right to vote (based on the above factors) when they become citizens of the United States.  However, the reality is that at the polls and in registering they need to prove that citizenship.  Again this is regulated by the states and that means that many natural born citizens who “look” like immigrants can and are being harassed at the polls.  Right to vote requires proof of citizenship.

So please, honor the ancestors and if you have the right to vote exercise that right.

Trick or Treat

part_1414966271790_20141102_161041

Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Halloween on a Monday!   It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight.  Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.

 

 

 

This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer.  We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me.   It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles.   I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

 

 

Karina threw her first big party in the new house.  Halloween Housewarming.  (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday).  It was a smash.  She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, "poison" apples and a birthday pie.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, “poison” apples and a birthday pie.

 

 

 

I did my part the day before.  We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go.  She still has most of my chairs.  Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well.   It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

 

 

 

Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday.  The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally.  Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.

Even Orion's Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

Even Orion’s Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.

Ancestors and Descendants

Legacy

 

 

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.

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