Category Archives: writing
There’s a blog that’s been spinning around in my head for the past week. It just won’t seem to come out. I’ve had time to work at it, and have found plenty of other things to do instead. I have tried to make it coalesce in my head, and have found myself dozing in my chair.
Now it’s Monday and I’ve got, nothing. The problem with procrastination is that it adds stress to what’s usually already a stressful situation. It anticipates things will get easier, but there is no basis in empiric evidence.
I’ve been putting off getting Orion a haircut. I keep thinking it will be nice enough to walk. Then it snows. This week there are temps predicted in the 70’s. (There are also temps predicted in the 30’s). If I wait, will that happen on the day when I have time? Will I feel up to it physically? Will I have overbooked myself?
I’m trying to get through my list of things “to do” without putting things off so long. Inevitably something slips through. I don’t get enough sleep and something falls off the list. I get stuck in traffic and time runs short. I am faced with something that HAS to be done RIGHT NOW and so the thing that’s been put off gets put off again.
He loves going on Weekend Ventures. They’ve changed their notification system for registering. I no longer have a piece of paper lying around that I have to keep moving (and therefore am continually reminded). I get an email and in less than a day it’s no longer on my screen. Out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t do it IMMEDIATELY and now I hope I’m not too late!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m traveling again this week. I’m going to present a workshop at Pantheacon. Today I’m feeling just a little overwhelmed because there’s so much still to do!
I have arrangements for hotel and my flights are booked, but I’ve given no thought to getting back and forth from the airport. I’ve got Orion covered and his meds sorted, but I still have to arrange his transportation and think about what else to put in his bag.
Karina will be staying with Orion for at least some of the time I’m gone. I suppose that means rather than entirely emptying the refrigerator I should give some thought to what they might eat. Do I trust that Karina will keep Minnie off of my bed or do I pack away the good blankets?
Then there is my own packing! Do I bring books to sell? How many? Which ones? Can I do that and keep my luggage under the weight limits? Packing for the workshop I’m presenting, and preparing for that, is its own little piece of extra, but exciting.
I’m sure some of my stress is because of what happened last year. The workshop I’m giving is the one I was planning on doing then. Having to cancel at the last-minute because of https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/a-big-wrench/ was more than a little discombobulating. I’m grateful to be doing well, healthy and able to go back this year!
It’s 11 F here and the temps are dropping. The high today in San Jose is 77 F. Packing and planning for what to wear on the plane is an interesting logistical dilemma. I will definitely throw in a swimsuit! I may have to pack a winter coat as well. That depends a lot on how I get back and forth to the airport which puts me back at the beginning of this post.
I need to just breathe. I need to remember I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again. I need to trust that whatever decisions I make will be fine. I need to remember that if I forget anything there’s a good chance there are stores in California.
See you at Pantheacon!
Past blogs about my experiences at Pantheacon:
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
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.
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.
I could choose to write about Father’s Day. I’m not worried about my father getting shot just going through his day. That’s Privilege. I could choose to write about the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year when the sun shines, illuminating things. Maybe I’ll just shine my light on a Difficult Topic, #BlackLivesMatter.
We are taught a very highly Edited version of history. I had no idea how important the AME church was, historically, until Obama started talking about it. I believe it is our personal responsibility to educate our selves on the things going on around us that the System would rather we ignore. This is not an easy task. It first requires an understanding that what we are taught isn’t the whole story.
The reason people who are educated in this area talk about systemic racism is because it is invisible and perpetuated by the system. This is not a new thing. I remember Kent State. The first time the National Guard opened fire on campus? No. The first time a white upper middle class student was killed. Yes.
I hear white people ask, “Why is it always about race?” Because when you have to live with it every day, you begin to realize it is inescapable. There is a reason that #BlackLivesMatter is not #AllLivesMatter. It is not because all lives shouldn’t matter, but because it’s clear that Black lives don’t.
There is a difference between not actively perpetuating the problem and helping to solve it. That difference starts with awareness. The things that are so common it’s easy not to even notice are often referred to as microaggressions.
Learning to recognize these in ourselves,
in the media, and in others is a big step towards simply validating the problem. Then the next step is to Speak Up.
I end where I started, encouraging self education. Each of these links takes you to places where you can hear different voices, and perhaps learn more. Additionally I recommend checking out my friend Crystal Blanton’s 30 Day Real Black History Challenge. She’s been doing this for several years so check out her archives as well.
Crystal was instrumental in the editing of the anthology Bringing Race to the Table:Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community. I have a small essay in that book, and I’m very proud to be a contributor. I recommend it to non-Pagans as well. The book is structured with a section on People of Color’s experiences, a section on History, and a section where ally’s speak. I think the material is widely applicable and sometimes it’s easier to hear if you have a little distance.
Thank you for reading.
Photos from Huffington Post
I’ve been delighted by the signs of change, of the turning seasons, in my neighborhood. I’m trying to notice more, to be more present with the small things. After all, the only thing that’s certain is change.
In my second book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective, I talk about Deities tapping on shoulders and making demands. I say that generally when that happens the Divine wants something done for them. I maintain that the attitude of “I’m the only one who can do this” is hubris. We can say no. Sometimes we know we shouldn’t, but we always can.
In my first book, Manifest Divinity, I talk about building relationship with the Divine. When we work on developing and maintaining relationship sometimes that tap on the shoulder becomes very personal. The “tap” that I’ve been getting for the past year, louder and louder, has been “Change or Die.” Now that can certainly be commentary on the political situation, on climate change, on conservation and resource use. But for me it seems very personal. The action items are directly about my health.
I have made many changes in my health related patterns over the years. I’ve studied nutritional theories and taken on dietary changes that make a difference. I’ve looked at exercise and movement, and physical therapy and had limited success. I’ve addressed mental health taking a hard look at my self sabotage, getting out of a bad marriage and examining my unhealthy communication patterns. But at this point the change being demanded is dramatic and fast, a line in the sand.
A friend of mine died unexpectedly last week. We’ve been out of touch for several years. We had a falling out because I wasn’t kind in speaking my mind and she wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say. Essential my message to her was, “Get help to change or die”. Now she’s gone. I don’t have any details, but I know she struggled with significant health issues for many years. Some of those issues are the same one’s I’m facing.
In my experience, when the Divine puts something into action there are usually multiple things being impacted. Often times we can only see one, especially at the beginning, but the Divine has a broader vision. Along the journey of carrying out the task we tend to touch many people, interact in many different ways in the world. We are often not aware of the impact that we have, but it can be profound.
Being friends with this woman, even for a short time out of the scope of our lives, had a profound impact. She was one of my inspirations to write. She was incredibly helpful, demanding clarity in my use of language when discussing spirituality. She gave me Ireland. We traveled together, because she needed a companion and I wanted to go. If I pronounce any Gaelic word correctly, it’s because of her. I am changed, simply because I knew her, and I will always be grateful for that.
But the time has clearly come for me to change as well. I have spent much of the last year exploring options to address my own multiple health issues. Although I recognize I have the choice to say no, I have chosen change. I have decided that I want to live and that I want to live more fully and actively than I have been able to do for some time. That definitely requires a dramatic change.
Sometime in July I am going to go through bariatric surgery. I’ll keep you posted where I can, and write more about my perspective and process. But if, in the next few months, I miss posting please hang in there with me. It’s easy to become overwhelmed looking at such big changes and trying to plan for all possible outcomes.
Both of my books are available in paperback or as e-books from Amazon.
Last week was an uphill week. The time change kicked me in the ass. Monday I missed yoga because the clock I was looking at was the one I hadn’t remembered to change over. Tuesday I was so tired I could barely get Orion out the door. I slept through my Dr. appointment. (Literally, I went back to bed.) Wednesday the alarm didn’t go off. I woke up spontaneously at 730 am, which would have been great the week before when it would have been right on time at 630! By Thursday I realized the week was almost gone and I hadn’t done anything to prepare for Paganicon. Friday started the convention, which of course threw what was left of my sleep schedule entirely out the window.
In the course of my sleep deprived daze I heard someone say, “What if instead of being angry at the weather I was grateful instead.” I actually think they said it to me weeks before when it was so cold but it finally sunk in. My women’s group is working with Hanuman this month. He helps us with our lessons by sending both good and bad energy. Then I saw Peg-o-leg’s blog about her struggle with her own pity party. When the universe sends the same message three times I start to pay attention.
I spent the weekend working at being grateful for everything that came across my path, good and bad. I’m trying to be grateful for all the time I’m spending in health care hell. I’m considering gratitude towards my physical limitations. Instead of grumbling about how many extra things I have to do making arrangements for Orion this week, I’m grateful his Dad is taking him so I can go to Paganicon unaccompanied.
The attitude adjustment made all the difference in the world. I still hurt, couldn’t do as much as I wanted, and didn’t get anywhere near enough sleep but it didn’t matter the same way. I got to spend time with my publisher Taylor Ellwood and his wife. When we were told there was a 40 minute wait for a table at dinner we took the opportunity to sneak over to the hotel and get them checked in. When we got back we were at the top of the list. My workshop was scheduled first thing Saturday morning. That meant only the people who really wanted to be there showed up, and it was a good-sized group. For a first time presentation it went really well and much of the feedback I got was that even after 90 min. at 9am they could have stayed and talked another hour or two.
I had a book signing with Taylor scheduled in the afternoon. My new book When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity-Based Perspective was released in time for the event! Because I was with Taylor I was introduced to a few other Immanion Press authors. The friend who came to help me was miserable with allergies, but her presence also brought folks over to say hi who may not have noticed us otherwise. I was debating going home for dinner when my friends hosting the Standing Stones hospitality suite realized they didn’t have trays to put cheese and crackers on. I volunteered to dash home for trays (this con is VERY close to my house) and came back just in time to get an invitation to dinner with my students.
I had a great time at Paganicon and felt really good about the marketing and presentation that I did. I was grateful to have the time with friends, old and new, to really sit and talk. I always enjoy the opportunity to learn new things and was delighted by the art featured in the Sacred Gallery space. I really do understand that sometimes the bad things really are a lot better than they look.
All that “understanding” doesn’t make it easy or automatic. I find pushing at gratitude an exercise in futility. Gratitude is something that requires opening up and accepting unconditionally. It is making room for the bounty of life to fill that open space. When facing frustration, practicing gratitude is a step back, taking time to breathe, letting go and allowing. When I achieve gratitude I know that anything is possible and that I will have all the support I need for whatever dreams may come.
So I continue to remind myself to be grateful, for everything. I remind myself to be grateful for the irritants, the frustrations, the stumbling blocks. I remind myself to be grateful for the pain and the heartache. I remind myself to be open to the possibility that it’s all for the best.
Maybe with enough practice I’ll be better at gratitude.
It seems early to consider things like New Years resolutions. (I don’t really work well with those anyway.) Still I seem to be getting lots of push from the Universe to review the past year and think about dreams, wishes and goals for the next. My women’s business group is working on creating our vision statements for 2014. Our Yule ritual planners have asked us to consider where we’ve been in this past year and what our hopes are for the next. Even visiting with old friends at the funeral last week and digging through the holiday ornaments put me in that reminiscent state of mind.
Luckily having a blog gives me a handy record of the past year. My first post in 2013 was about the family egg nog challenge. This year our “secret ingredient” is sugar. I have desert, which seems easy at first until you start thinking about having an impact after a full meal where every course features sugar in some form. All I’ll say is that this year I’m playing to win.
Then in February I took a trip to sunny California. Given our early sub-zero temperatures I’m looking forward to giving a workshop presentation at Pantheacon this year. March was Paganicon where Orion and I hosted the con suite. This year I’m seriously considering proposing a new workshop (that will likely cause much controversy – my middle name.) It’s good that I’m planning so many presentations since I’m really hoping my second book “When Gods Come Knocking: A Continuing Exploration of Relationship with the Divine” will be released (through Immanion Press) early in the year.
April and May were all about welcoming spring. I didn’t garden last year and I really hope to do at least a little in 2014. I also hope I’ll manage to get my taxes in early for a change. In June this year we had that big storm. I expect a little (metaphorical) storminess about that time in 2014 as well. Karina is turning 21 (my baby is all grown up!) and I’m planning to have bariatric surgery. My big wish for 2014 is to get my health back on track and that surgery will go a long way towards making it happen. My weight is aggravating my back problems to the point where some kind of surgery seems necessary. This one will potentially address more than one problem.
July and August were about adventures in camping. I’ll be recovering so it’s hard to say what will be possible in 2014, but I remember doing a lot of similar post-surgery travels in my 30’s so anything is possible. As we moved into the fall I got caught up in a rush of busy. I can hope for more of the same in 2014. Hopefully I’ll find some time out amidst the crazy. Maybe I’ll be editing my third book by then.
That will pretty much bring us around again to the holiday season. My wishes for next year are that my family will stay happy and healthy – and that I will myself on that bandwagon. I hope my writing influence expands out into the world and finds its audience. I also hope that my readers will find my work inspirational and affirming. I hope that I can do my part to make the world I live in a kind place and that we can live in beauty and bounty.
Thank you all for being with me this year. I hope you will continue to read, comment and share in the next.
Some of you know that I write a second blog. lisaspiralreads.
I set up a challenge for myself to do book reviews on 50 books over the course of the year. There is no particular consistency to that blog. I post when I feel like it on the books I feel like reviewing. I read books I don’t review. I review books from a wide variety of genre’s.
The book reviews I write are the kind I like to read. I don’t rate books. I’ll tell you a little bit about them and why I did or didn’t enjoy them. Sometimes I like the information. Sometimes I like the writing style. Sometimes I like the theme. Sometimes I like to disappear into a pulp romance.
I haven’t been to the library in a month. They keep sending me nasty notes about all the books I have that are now long over due. I’ve been piling them up waiting to write reviews. Followers of this blog know that my October lasted well into November and I barely caught up with myself before the holiday season started. I’ve been biting my fingernails hoping that I’ll be able to get those last few weeks worth of book reviews written.
When I actually looked today I realized I only needed to write one more to make my goal of 50 reviews for the year. The other 5 books sitting on the floor waiting to be reviewed could go back whether I wrote about them or not! I’ve been avoiding, and worrying and waiting for nothing.
How often do you get yourself all worked up over a “deadline” that you’ve actually already met?
A Pagan festival is a unique thing. Although there is certainly a sense of costume and play, unlike a Renaissance Fair the players are not acting a part. It is an experiment in tribal living, in being in the world the way we would like the world to be. It is a place where there is no need to hide, or explain, or be afraid of beliefs and practices often misunderstood in the working world.
Teo Bishop was one of the National Guests at this year’s Sacred Harvest Festival. His blog about this experience is posted on The Wild Hunt. We also had music and workshops from Kenny Klein whose views on Faerie, quite different from our whitewashed Disney, were well received. His books on the topic will greatly help the Pagans who work with these tricksy creatures. David Salisbury is another Pagan author and activist visiting the festival from the DC area.
I have known Kenny for over 20 years, but it was really nice to meet in person some of the people I’ve only known through their blogs. Does that count as meeting blogging buddies? It seems different somehow, both because of the nature of a festival and also because the Pagan blogging community is so much smaller than the blog-o-sphere in general. I already know I have more in common with these folks than just enjoying their writing. We’ve friends in common, whether or not we can point to them. There are always fewer than 6 degrees of separation among Pagans.
I wish I had a photo of Teo and Orion. Star Foster (developed the Pagan channel on Patheos and who I’ve known personally for a year) organized an early morning sing. Orion is a morning person and he loves to sing. Me, not so much – at least in the morning. So I made an arrangement with Star to get Orion to her workshop. She sent Teo. Apparently Teo and Orion had a grand time together sharing songs. Orion pulled out his German camp repertoire and serenaded the group with Der Vuglbeerbaam, lyrics adjusted for camp.
Orion and I also had the privilege of picking up Szmerelda when she came in from Chicago. Szmerelda is featured in Crystal Blanton’s anthology Shades of Faith. She is a visual artist and ritualist in the Chicago area. She is also delightful. When I found my tent filled with water the first time it was Szmerelda who jumped in and bailed me out. I had met Szmerelda briefly at Pantheacon in February so it was nice to get a chance to actually spend some time getting to know her.
Sacred Harvest Festival is all about the people. It’s sharing time and space under the beautiful oak trees. It’s talking about our beliefs and practices and plans. I presented a few (three) workshops and that was fun. It was the first time for all three and I find Sacred Harvest Festival a nice venue to try out new things. Got some great feedback too!
In spite of the rain in the tent and the back problems I’m glad we went. It’s revitalizing to make heart connections with people who share a love of nature and spirituality. It’s always a joy to see Orion having a grand time. My campmates and I made good food. I got treated like a queen visiting Cara’s camp at happy hour. (Her book is Martinis and Marshmallows: A Guide to Luxury Tent Camping.) And you know from last week I got packed up and sent off without a fuss. Now the back is slowly healing and the memories are only fond.