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Have a Good Day

The end of a good day

I’ve been listening to some of my friends talk about the notion of acknowledging “Today was a good day”.   It’s something that one of them noticed in a series about living in Alaska.  People, who are essentially living on the edge of subsistence, finish up their day with that little affirmation, “Today was a good day.”

We speculated about whether this is an Alaska thing.  I suggested it might just be something that shifts when you’re living on the edge.  I equated it to the Native American “Today is a good day to die.”

My friends are using this affirmation to see if it shifts their world view.  They think it does.  It changes the way they approach their days.  It started me thinking about what makes a day a good day.

A day sailing is a good day

I’ve certainly had days where if I managed to get dressed or showered that was a good day.  I’ve had days where just being alive at the end of the day meant it was a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve gotten all kinds of things accomplished be a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve been of service be a good day.

It’s interesting to me that there isn’t any kind of personal standard for a good day.  I like that.  I like that there is room for a good day no matter what kind of shape I might be in.  I like that I can have a good day just taking care of me as well as having a good day helping out someone else.

Captain Beth ( WIMNsail.net ) pulling out of the Marina – sharing in someone else’s passion is always a good day

In thinking about a good day there is something that does stand out for me.  A good day is active rather than passive.  I don’t mean that there needs to be a lot of activity.  I can have a good day curled up reading.  But there is a big difference between choosing to spend the day reading and sitting down for a break and having the day disappear.

There’s something about a good day that requires attention being paid to the day.  A good day demands engagement at some level.  Perhaps that is the change my friends are observing.  By using the affirmation they find themselves paying more attention to their days.  Being more appreciative, living in gratitude for each day, is certainly a positive life change.

Maybe I’ll give this good day thing a try.

On or in the water sounds like a good day to me.

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.

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!

Prayer Beads

I do a workshop called “Daily Practice Sucks”.   Daily practice is one of those things that most religious practices encourage in one form or another.  Some people are great at daily practice.  They find their thing and they run with it.  They get a lot out of it and it really helps.

Other people are like me.  We struggle with doing daily practice.  It doesn’t matter how long I do something, I never seem to get to that point people talk about where I hit the “zone”.  I don’t become addicted to exercise, or feel horrible enough without my daily yoga to keep  at it.  I have been doing this spirituality stuff for a long time and I’ve tried a lot of things.

In my book (Manifest Divinity published by Immanion press and available in print or e-book from Amazon) I give exercises to help people achieve a stronger relationship with the Divine – as they choose to define that.  I suggest doing daily practice.  It works, it helps, it’s great.  I’m just really bad at it.

The workshop I give addresses a lot of the problems people have with daily practice.  In a smaller group (which is my preference) I can go through and address individuals about what they are hoping to achieve from their daily practice.  We can discuss what they currently do, or don’t do.  I love doing this workshop.  I always learn something new.  I love sharing ideas.  Best of all people come in saying they don’t have a daily practice and they leave saying “I have a daily practice.”

Earth Conclave Prayer Beads

One of the things I do in the workshop is share some of my own practices.  When I was at the Women and Spirituality Conference last month in Mankato I promised I’d post one of those practices on line.  This gets us back to the title of this week’s blog – Prayer Beads.

Prayer beads are something I learned to work with from the folks at the Earth Conclave. (http://www.earthconclave.org)  They are useful for a lot of different kinds of prayers.  People make prayer beads in many cultures and religious structures from Buddhism to Catholicism.  It makes remembering prayers easier.  It’s fun, portable and pretty.  They can be a very powerful tool for doing daily practice.

Making your own set allows you to personalize the prayer to suit your particular needs.  If you want to do a set of prayer beads for health, the people you pray for always, you can do that.  You can even add extra strings for those occasions when something extra arises.  You can make prayer beads to create sacred space.  You can make prayer beads to honor the ancestors.  You can make a prayer of gratitude into prayer beads and then wear them as a necklace to remind you to walk in gratitude throughout the day.  They are a great tool.

I wrote a prayer and made up a set of prayer beads.  I said my prayer in my workshop and got the requests to post it. So here it is, my on again off again daily practice prayer bead prayer:

I am Golden

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

I choose to live in Gratitude

I am grateful for the Earth and the gifts and tools of Earth

I am grateful for the Air and the gifts and tools of Air

I am grateful for the Fire and the gifts and tools of Fire

I am grateful for the Water and the gifts and tools of Water

I am grateful for the Bounty in my life

I am all things and all things are me

I am a magical child of the Gods

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

I choose to live in Love and surrounded by Love

I pray in Love and Light

Holding True to my own Heart

I pray for the Earth that sustains and nurtures me

I pray for my Patron Deities

I pray for Myself

I pray for the Waters that quench my Desires

I pray for my Totems

I pray for my Family

I pray for the Fires that warm and move me

I pray for the Ancestors that love me beyond all reason and support me in my work

I pray for my Clan

I pray for the Air, breath of life that inspires me

I pray for the Mysterious Ones who cross my path to aid and teach me

I pray for my Community

I Blossom in a sea of Love

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

Blessed Be

My Prayer beads

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