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Minnie would be more content if I’d leave her alone during nap-time

I think a lot about what it means to me to be happy, to be content, and to be satisfied.  I don’t spend a lot of time appreciating my successes or taking in the feeling of a job well done.  I suppose I could do some psychological speculation about why that is, why I don’t “allow” myself to enjoy success.  What it comes down to is I’m always looking for the next thing.

My daughter, Karina, has been very verbal about bringing all of this to my attention over the years.  She doesn’t appreciate it when she struggles to make me happy, or to meet an expectation only to get “Now that that is out of the way……….”  Her, “Hey!  Wait just one minute.” has forced me many times to stop and honestly acknowledge her efforts.  This is why I really need a gratitude practice.

Orion and I at the movies. I still need practice at the selfie.

This weekend was a simple, easy, uneventful weekend.  Orion and I did a few things.   We saw the new Spiderman movie.  He got a haircut and his beard trimmed.  We kept an eye on Minnie (Karina’s dog).  I puttered a bit in the kitchen.  There was a conference call for event planning committee and the beginnings of organizing things to bring.  I stayed up late and finished a couple of books.  I slept in until I was ready to get up.

Reviewing the week, thinking about what I was going to write in my blog, I realized that this was contentment.  Not too much, not too little, but a just right weekend.  Then I realized that part of the reason I could feel that contentment (rather than pressure, or resentment, or disappointment, or exhaustion) was because I had the previous weekend off.

I went into this week well rested.  I’m feeling good.  I have a list of things “to do” but feel like I’m making progress and not overwhelmed.  I had a good balance of things I wanted to do and things I needed to do.  And the things I needed to do I appreciated being able to do.

Post hair-cut Orion is very pleased about “looking sharp”

This coming week I’m gearing up for a whirlwind.  The event, Earth Conclave, is on the schedule.  I know I won’t get a blog in next Monday (maybe Tuesday).  I’m excited and nervous and hoping I have left myself enough time to put what I’ll need together.

But…. I don’t have to pack up Orion for the weekend.  That’s taken care of with the new schedule.  I don’t have to worry about not being able to get through.  I have a health reserve going in.  I may be on the committee, but it’s not “my show”.  I’m not cooking,  I’m not “in charge” of anything.  I’ve volunteered to facilitate a few things on the schedule, but I know this group (and my skill set) and it won’t be difficult.

This is where gratitude is easy for me.  I haven’t always been able to do these things, or do them without too much effort.  I am very grateful to have the opportunity, and the support, to be able to do them again.



The solar system at the center and the signs of the zodiac in a circle around the edge.

The solar system at the center and the signs of the zodiac in a circle around the edge.

Dancing With the Stars is on TV as background music for dinner tonight, but it’s nothing like the dancing with the stars I’ve been doing.  I spent the weekend (Thursday through Sunday) at Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin with The Earth Conclave.  Since the theme for the weekend was astrology, I’ve been much more poetically dancing with the stars.

The Earth Conclave is a non-profit that devotes itself to an exploration of harmony in diversity with the natural world as it’s model.  We work to deepen our relationships with each other and with the natural world around us.  Often this expression takes an artistic and spiritual bent.  The Conclave puts on two weekend events a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, around a theme.  As a community we follow the event team and support the work of maintaining our community and deepening our understanding.

It sounds very deep and intense, and I suppose it is.  More importantly though it’s fun.  This is the most incredible group of loving and accepting and welcoming people I know.  Though many of them are very scholarly, they are also very artistic and patient and committed to that idea that diversity makes us stronger.  Everyone who comes has something to offer and there are plenty of opportunities to share those skills.

The community helping prepare a meal, with art about the signs posted on the freezer.

The community helping prepare a meal, with art about the signs posted on the freezer.

I’ve been involved with Earth Conclave since the turn of the century. (There’s a fun phrase!)  Because of the work and travel I’ve been doing with writing and because of my physical limitations I’ve taken the last few years off.  I can’t convey how nice it was to be back.  Everything’s not the same (there’s a new stove in the kitchen) but it felt very much like coming home.  This is a crowd that’s watched me react to cinnamon (I’m anaphylactic) and so when I show up they make some serious accommodations.  Gayla, who was in charge of the kitchen, said “As much as I like cooking with cinnamon, it’s still nicer to have you here.”

The four astrologers who took on the challenge of presenting the content for this Conclave did an incredible job.  They opted not to teach astrology, but to go with the heart of Conclave and help us develop relationships with the signs and planets.  We walked through the world as each of the inner planets, feeling in our bodies the qualities those planets symbolize in astrology.  We spent time in a room with the solar system at its center and the signs of the zodiac around the outside of our circle.  It was easier to see the aspects and relationships when they were so much a part of everything we did.  When we all went to stand under our sun sign it was nice to see there was someone present to represent every sign of the zodiac.

Michael headed the team of astrologers.  He's dressed as Saturn decorating for the feast.

Michael headed the team of astrologers. He’s dressed as Saturn decorating for the feast.

One of the funnest parts of the weekend was the Saturday night feast.  We were all encouraged to dress as planets, or signs or objects of the heavens, and we did.  We dressed up the dinning room with lights and glitter and had an enormous feast of greek food.  It was beautiful, and outrageous, and a lot of fun.

I’m not new to astrology, but I would never call myself an astrologer.  We all helped each other through the material, reading our charts, identifying our sun and moon signs.  Everyone learned something, even the professionals, because they each have their own point of view.  Sometimes it was just an off-handed comment that made all the difference in understanding or that opened up a new way to look at things.  We were not limited to a list of traits and associations, but got to notice how the moon might be different from one person, or one element to the next.

I was more worn out by the end of the weekend than I expected.  That’s part of why the blog is late.  I also am still so full and processing the things that I learned that I can’t speak clearly about it.  I can always say that Conclave is a wonder-filled experience with incredibly kind and talented people and always worth the effort to go.  I’m so glad I went back.

Me and Teri (another of the astrologers) both dressed as Neptune.

Me and Teri (another of the astrologers) both dressed as Neptune.

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. (  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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