Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Being a Stay At Home Mom

I really dislike being dependent.

At age 12, I started really resenting the fact that I was so dependent on my parents. I wanted to be as independent as possible, but became surly over the fact that I couldn't drive, couldn't live on my own, couldn't be hired to work, etc... As a homeschooler, I was already pretty much in charge of my own education, or at least I wasn't being micromanaged when it came to school. That responsibility made me happy. I just wished I could be entrusted with more decisions in my own life. This attitude lasted all through high school up until I moved out of my parent's house.

Now, I'm facing the same sort of resentment, and I'm really trying not to let it get to me. I'm a stay-at-home mom, which means I'm depending on my husband to provide financially for me while he is depending on me to watch our son, farm, and house.

I love being a stay-at-home mom! I love the independence that comes from setting my own hours, work schedule, and pace. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get a big project done despite a toddler running around and trying to ruin my efforts, and I love the flexibility of being able to take a trip to the grocery store or library on MY schedule. When I worked outside the home, I was miserable. I was micromanaged and I didn't get along well with my managers. I thought I did a good job and I certainly wasn't slacking, but I felt constantly watched, criticized, and judged. Often, I felt like expectations weren't clear and I therefore couldn't live up to them. Being a stay-at-home mom is a lot like homeschooling, I can get what I need to get done and not worry about the things that inevitably don't get done.

However, I really dislike the fact that I don't get paid for it! It rubs me the wrong way to have to ask my husband to pay for something. I hate asking for "his money" and I hate just taking "his money." And he hates it too! I know he feels like he has to constantly evaluate my purchases because he doesn't trust me to spend his money wisely. It's a big fat thorn in my dream job. And I'm not sure how to fix it, either. Hopefully, the farm will become prosperous enough to provide me with a little money of my own. Or, after the kids have grown a little, I could get a part time job or a home-based business. Or, my husband could just learn to TRUST me with OUR money... but I'm not sure if that will ever happen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Evening Loneliness

For some reason, lately in the evenings after I put my son to bed, I've been hit with a pretty substantial bout of loneliness. Sometimes I'll cuddle with my husband, but I still feel lonely. Intimacy doesn't quite seem as intimate as I would like, these days. I'm not sure what to do about it, because we have a great relationship with a good deal of cuddling, sex, and just playing around. He definitely does need his alone time, and with a demanding toddler, husband, and animals I should really be relishing my alone time as well. I just seem to crave something else.
Perhaps female companionship. I haven't really been tight with my friends lately. I can't ever find someone who I really connect with. But I lack the energy to drive somewhere and go "out" although it's probably what I need.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Set on fire, her dress rustles in the wind, the color of a brilliant sunset. Bold brazen red, inviting a kiss, painted on her lips. Her sister waits, a sensual tugging of her leaves, tiger-orange, painting stripes as she flutters coyly.

Next to her, in honey-gold, a sweet, demure promise whispers through the gathering. Branches blossoming with majestic jewelry, she flicks her wrist, her arm-bands glinting with the color of the sun... reflected, and mirrored, on her slender arms.

Standing in the back, a little shyly, young and modest, her gown remains a cool shade of green, brown tinting the edges, waving hesitently, eagerly. She waits, coloring the shadows with her rosy blush.

They laugh, a soft, whispery laugh, voices joined together by the chill wind, enlivening their dance. A ballroom, regal gowns and fluttering jewelry. Dressed in their finest, a marvelous celebration. Time to change, the sun is setting. Time to change, put down your pitchfork. Time to change, time to play.

She unfastens her necklace, throws it on the ground. Flutter, a brilliant streak of red, then brown. She casts off her jewelry, a brilliant sunset melting beyond the horizon. Gleefully, she tosses aside her golden yellow scarf, her bonfire-inspiring dress. The dance floor becomes a bed, filled with bright metallic gowns, shadowy green and brown undergarments. Wild abandon, they dance in the rush of the wind, the stark blue chill of the sky, naked branches lovely and vulnerable.

Naked, they celebrate. Finery forgotten, they sway to their own music, waving their naked limbs with carefree joy. A shiver in the cold, a titillating laugh stretching from root to tip. Nude, rough skin becoming one with the earth, settling into the background, drifting off into slumber. Time to change, come play with us, in the beautiful dance of Autumn.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You Can Be Anything You Want


This makes me mad. Angry. Fuming. When I first read that, I said "WTF?" in a loud, angry voice.

In case the link doesn't work or something, the gist of it is that someone supposedly took a picture of the backsides of Princess Letizia, First Lady of France Carla Bruni, and Michelle Obama as they were going up the stairs. The supposed Michelle Obama is a fake picture, but the premise is that the first two ladies had supermodel backsides, luxurious hair, and fashionable clothing, whereas Mrs. Obama looked frumpy. The words heading the picture were, "makes you proud, doesn't it?"

First of all, WTF?? OK now, let's analyze that statement and the picture. Apparently a country can only be proud of its female leaders if they look and dress like models? What about what these women stand up for? What about their intelligence, common sense, and practicality as leaders of your friggin country? I would, in fact, love a leader who didn't spend all her money on plastic surgery and designer clothing! To me, "frivolous spending" isn't a great motto to have while running a country. Maybe that's just me, though.

Or is the assumption that these women don't actually run the country? That their husbands or fathers are the ones actually running the country and these women have the job of maintaining a good public image and they don't actually do any real work? Hmmmm. Nnnnnnope, doesn't make me any less angry.

When we are little we are told "you can be anything you want to be." But this is a flat out lie. Women can be anything we want to be... as long as we look good doing it. If we are decidedly below average-looking, we get no respect. The only women men respect are both skilled and drop dead gorgeous. Gain a few pounds, or have the unhappy chance of being born with too big of a nose, and you are out of the running. You might get by with a decent job, but no one thinks you really deserve it. They would be much happier if a blonde bombshell took your position, even if you worked harder for it or are better at the actual job.

Let's face it. Women are always judged first on attractiveness, then on whatever other qualities they might possess. (Even by other women.) It's the symptom of a shallow society filled with shallow minds. Next time you look at an unattractive woman, refrain from thinking about her unattractiveness. Instead, try to see the beauty of her mind, her attitude, or her kindness.

Monday, September 13, 2010


The swirling colors radiate,
in their minds, young and open
Flowers dancing, blown about
on imaginary winds
Conjuring blue and yellow and forest green
When she sees only shade and shadow
or nothing at all
The dust of neglect,
the stink of old food
Hidden in cracks and crevices
that, to them, are canyons and caves
And unexplored wonders

Enmeshed in dreams,
seeking visions and adventure
The sofa becomes a mountain,
under rugs are hidden buried treasure

Walls are prison cages
and doors are meant to be flung wide
To the depths of the sunlight
weaving in and out between panes of glass
Unseen by a mother's eyes
as she simply closes the curtains
and hushes the children
Never knowing, in her stubborn grasp of reality
that it requires more imagination
to deny the dreams
than to embrace them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lady of Merciful Death

The wind blows strongly today, sweeping the pasture like a firm, persistent broom. It rattles the door to the barn, which creaks and groans in protest, the door to the window freely opening and closing in response to its insistent whisper. It flattens the grass, heavy with seed, and bends the tree branches, rattling the brittle wood like bones and catching the dying leaves, brushing them off the tree without afterthought.

With a heaviness, I walk toward the barn, resigning myself to what I might find.

For the last couple of days, a kitten has been slowly dying from "the sickness." A pretty little calico, who used to seem so strong and healthy, (and whom my stepdaughter named "Curious") suddenly stopped eating a couple days ago, and spent her time wandering around, mewing in frustration. Dismayed, I tried feeding her goats milk and re-uniting her with her mom, hoping she would start eating again. No, she wouldn't eat, or snuggle with her brother and sister and mother. Over the next couple of days she grew weaker, and her eyes became goopy and swollen shut with telltale signs of "the sickness". Yesterday, she could barely move her legs. I hoped she would die peacefully in her sleep in the night, and it seemed as if she had as I walked into the barn this morning, milk bucket in hand. Her limp little body lay outstretched and still, and I was glad that she had passed sooner rather than later.

Instead, about halfway through the milking, she woke up and started mewling pathetically in response to my voice. (I was yelling at the goats, as I usually do at milking-time.) I could plainly see that she was dying, and I remembered her brother, who had taken 3 days to die from "the sickness," once he had become too weak to move. He hadn't cried, however, just slept and waited to die. This little kitten was crying, the cry of a baby who expects you to do something about her problems. She couldn't move her body, just her head, which swung around as she yelled out, demanding some relief.

I did the only thing I could do for her. I "helped" her die, and then took her over to the "graveyard" behind the barn and laid her down by her brother. I wished it could have been less violent, quicker, less painful, even though I know that I did the best I could, and that crushing her head under a cement block was a much less painful way to go than lying in the barn for another day or two, crying for help and having no one answer. I fantasized about learning a secret way to simply sing an animal to sleep and then wait for it to pass peacefully, but death is not that simple.

The wind rustled the tiny body's fur, caressing it gently, as I stood guard while the soul fled, leaving behind a sad remnant of her long struggle, now lying in the midst of a grove of sumacs.

Sometimes killing is cruel, sometimes necessary, sometimes, in this case, a responsibility. In autumn, the wind comes, bringing a crisp refreshing chill, bringing the weight and responsibility of death to the farmer. Crops, carefully nurtured throughout the summer, must be harvested. Robust, happy animals must be slaughtered. Death is a word whispered on the breeze, hanging over the earth, which waits hungrily for its chance to feed on the dead. The Lady of the Dead makes her appearance, resigned, patient, merciful, with the weight of Life and Death on her shoulders. She and I share the same spirit, both standing in mourning over a garden of life that must too quickly wither, wielding the same sickle, the harvest weapon, waiting for the next red leaf to wither and the next small candle to flicker out.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Religious Pervasiveness

So far, I don't really belong to any religion. I consider myself "Pagan," because that's a nice, oblique term. "Pagans" aren't affiliated with any church, so I don't have to constantly defend the actions of some institution. It's not affiliated with any specific culture, so I don't have to follow the rules and traditions of that culture. It's not specific enough to include dogma, but it's specific enough to separate me from the Abrahamic religions. Basically, if the term was defined as "I believe what I believe, so just ask me if you want to know something specific, if not leave me in peace," then that would be OK with me.

But, I am glad, in a way, that a Pagan religion is not the dominant religion in America. (Examples of Pagan religions include Wicca, Asatru, Druidism, Ancient Greek Religion, etc...) If they were, they would probably be exploited by our corporate and political forces, and completely changed to fit the people-in-power's agenda.

Look at the Ancient Greek religion. It was usurped and changed by Roman leaders and turned into a justification for immorality, especially in government.

Look at the way Christianity is used by Americans to justify our own selfish point of view. How is Christianity used by the far right to justify the accumulation of wealth when the Bible clearly states that it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? How did "turn the other cheek" become "nuke the middle east?" I remember when WWJD bracelets were trendy... but who among us actually acts like Jesus? Christianity has thrived within our consumerist nation, infiltrating merchandise, reality T.V. shows, pop culture, and especially political media! The Christian "message" seems to be "conform." What ever happened to "love thy neighbor?" Doesn't really fit in today's so-called "Christian" culture. And of course I'm not even getting into all the prejudices and atrocities done in the name of Christ.

So, what would happen if the majority of people abandoned Christianity in favor of a minority religion like Wicca? Well, Wicca is normally about caring for the Earth, doing no harm to others, and celebrating the cycle of life. However, if the people in power embraced Wicca, all sorts of evil could be justified under that religion. Hoarding wealth could be justified by saying the equivalent of "my magic is more powerful than yours." Racism and intolerance could still be justified by saying we are "weeding out ignorance." Either men or women could be viewed as inferior- Wicca made popular could very well escalate the gender wars instead of eliminating it!

Something that I've observed by living on a farm... often a weak animal is picked on and ostracized. Maybe it's young and inexperienced and physically weaker than an animal in their prime of life. However, the "bully" gets sick or old or weakened somehow, and then the weak animal becomes the strong. However, instead of remembering how it felt to be picked on, it will instead become an even bigger bully than the first bully, and pick on anyone weaker than itself. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes it's better NOT to be in a position of power! I hear things like "if only America embraced the ideals of (insert philosophy or religion here) then we would have a better world!" I'm sorry, but I can't share your idealism. The hard truth is, that assholes will still act like assholes, no matter what label they say they embrace. After all, Christianity USED to be a minority religion, and under persecution character was formed. However, now that Christianity is pervasive, it has become the weak animal who became strong and bullied everyone else.

Unless we can learn from the past and learn to change ourselves to build better character, (instead of merely using a certain mindset to justify ourselves) then the world will never improve, no matter if we are Christian or Wiccan, Communist or Capitalist. If you are in a majority religion, take a good look at what your religion teaches and the life that you are living, and see whether or not you're just using your religion to get what you want. If you are in a minority religion, don't ever assume that more power or more press will mean a better life for you- it won't. Remember what it feels like to be oppressed and apply a better morality to those whom you have power over.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fearing Death

Why do humans fear death?

Is it because of the pain? Do we think that death will be even more painful than the worst pain we can imagine? I'm not so sure this is it. Logically, it's much, much more painful to be alive than dead. And dying often seems slow and painful but even more often seems quick. People who die in a car accident might not even feel anything because the events happen so quickly. Yet we do fear dying in a car accident, or being shot in the head, or other quick ways to die.

Do we fear death because of the change? Do human beings just naturally fear drastic changes, death being the most drastic of them all?

Or is it because what comes after death is a complete mystery? No one really knows what happens after death, and humans do have a tendency to fear the unknown. Anything could happen after death- we might find ourselves in the Christian Heaven, or back on earth as a reincarnation, frozen in time, or in a completely new dimension. Will it be like sleep? Will we be alone, or with other beings who have passed on? But even people who think they know exactly what happens still fear death. Maybe they are not as sure of their beliefs as they claim to be, or maybe they are afraid for a different reason.

Maybe it's because no one knows exactly how much of ourselves die when our bodies die. People speak of a "soul" that lives on after our bodies die, but what is a soul, really? Does a soul have thoughts even after all neurologic activity ceases in our brain? Do we carry our memories with us? Will we be able to feel any pain or emotion despite having no nerve cells? Will we have the ability to make decisions, free will? Will we have any awareness at all?

What about you? Do you fear death, and if so, why?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The second half of that day (that I wrote my last post) went significantly better than the beginning. I gained a little perspective. Basically, I got to spend some time with my sister and we saw a great show and talked to a friend and colleague a little bit, which helped me relax and enjoy the trip more. I realized something as I talked to my sister, who is comparing her options for after she finishes college. We all have a single basic priority in life, and it's that priority that keeps us grounded and keeps us from feeling like we are torn in all sorts of different directions.

For a lot of theater people, theater is their main priority. But, for me, there is no question. My family is my first and greatest priority, by a LONG shot. And I can do other things, like work, and theater, and farming, but my main priority is and will always be my family. Theater needs to be in my life, because I am an artist and I just cannot stop creating. But when theater and family conflict, my family will win, hands down, every time. It needs to be that way, because this is the life I chose to live, and for very good reasons.

Instead of envying my young, single, unattached colleagues, I simply saw their paths and mine diverge. I tried that life, I lived that life, and I was miserable. Simply, my son, husband, and baby-on-the-way give my life meaning, and without that meaning I would be lost and depressed. The world of theater is glamorous, but often shallow. As an artist, I often wondered what my purpose was, what gave my life value. I'm a lucky woman because now I KNOW what gives my life meaning. And, I'm fortunate in that I don't have to juggle a ton of things in order to survive. Many women need to balance work with family with personal interests, some need to balance work with children with relationships. I'm lucky that my children ARE my work and that I have a loving husband to support me.

Sure, I will always struggle with balancing my individual needs with my family's, because both are necessary and both are healthy. But I think I've grounded myself enough that I can look at my life and say that there is both value and beauty in what I do.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm just feeling kind of depressed right now. There are just so many frustrations I have about my current situation... not about my life in general... I'm pretty solid about my life in general, at least as solid as I've ever been... but about this play, going to Kansas City, etc... It seems as if I'm not contributing to this play as well as I would like, my presence seems to be hard for everyone to accept... to my sister, I am just another burden, to my host I am just another expense, to his girlfriend I am just another energy drain as she is the designated babysitter. To my son, I am absent too much, in my own mind I'm not getting out enough, to the rest of the cast I want to do too much (since they have been here a while and just want to sleep at this point whereas I have only been here 2 1/2 days). It just seems as if this is the day where no one is satisfied, and I'm left just wishing I didn't have to deal with anyone, that I drove myself down and paid for my own lodgings and had a baby that magically was fine with going to fringe shows. :p It makes me wonder how in the world I thought that this was something I could pull off? I hate being a burden to others, but at the same time if I weren't a burden, then ALL I would be doing all day was watching my son, an enjoyable activity in itself but certainly not why I came to Kansas City. Right now, I just want to get back to my husband and our farm where I know that I am loved and accepted even if it's not a very exciting life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mixed Feelings in KC

Hi y'all
I'm writing from Kansas City, Missouri, where my sister's theater troupe, SHARDS, is performing a play. I have quite a prominent role in the play, and am onstage most of the time, although pretty much everyone has a large role due to our small cast. I am having a good time, although there are mixed feelings involved. Mostly, I wish I was young and unattached and less, well, pregnant, so that I could go to a million shows and still have energy, and network with other actors and hang out with them after the performances. I wish I didn't have to spend so much time away from my son. I wish my husband could be here so that I could share the experience with him. I wish I were doing my own show instead of acting in my sister's show.

But the fact is, I don't belong in this world, and this saddens me quite a bit. To be honest with myself, I don't think I'm that great of an actress. I mean, I do alright, but I don't have whatever it takes to truly be a great actress. I do the best that I can and I'm always improving, and I genuinely enjoy doing it, but in an environment which separates the great from the mediocre, I'm definitely on the mediocre side. Also, I've realized, my networking skills are horrible. I guess it's gotten worse since I've been cooking this little bean in my womb, because that tends to make me more emotional and introspective, more inward-focused, whereas a good networker needs to be outward-focused. And I just can't relate to these people, not even on the superficial level. Geeky, yes I am, but not in the same way. Fun-loving, yes I am, but not in the same way. I just can't come up with jokes or clever things to say on the spur of the moment and my life situation makes me less able to relate to a more immature and spontaneous crowd. In other words, I feel old.

Yet, I need theater, in the same way that I need spring to come after a long winter. I need to be creative in an extroverted way. I need to collaborate, I need to write, I need to think, I need to perform, I need to be caught up in the music and motion and verbiage. But I will never be fully immersed, as I would need to be in order to thrive in a theatrical setting. I'll never fully belong because I'm just too different. How many actors/actresses are mothers of 2? How many live on a farm? How many pay no attention to pop culture? Is this a sort of high-school type thing that I'm just supposed to outgrow and I'm not (and therefore stunting my growth as a person)? If so, what else am I supposed to do? I can't just quit writing plays, acting in plays, admiring theater, wishing I could express myself as well as some of my more advanced comrades. If this is holding me back, then why do I feel myself expanding as I write, as I perform?

*sigh* Just another dilemma that I don't expect to solve anytime soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

PTTC Part 16: Empty Yourself Of Worries

"To survive as a parent
you must empty yourself
of your constant thinking,
planning, and worrying."

There was a webcomic I read once (Sinfest) which stated that "fear trumps hope." They demonstrated this by turning on the T.V. to the news, spreading rumors, doing research on natural disasters, the oil disaster, global warming, talking to Christians about Armageddon, showing military footage, etc...

As a parent, the information age is loaded with fearmongering. Parents are informed that you can't trust any stranger, that laypeople will try to abduct your children. There are crib recalls, toy recalls, food recalls... parents need to worry about BPA in plastic, lead paint, allergy-triggering foods, non-organic foods, organic foods, vaccine-preventable diseases, reactions to vaccines, chemicals, etc... Parents are worried about having toys in the baby's crib, choking hazards, making sure car seats are safe, and preventing SIDS.

Is it practical, useful, and beneficial to inform yourself? Of course! However as parents our fear, worry, and guilt can easily take over our lives. A mother's and father's protective instinct can easily go into overdrive, tempting them to never allow their child to play outside, eat foods with red dye, or be left alone with relatives.

I'm not advocating for perfect trust in the world. The world is an essentially untrustworthy place. However, parents need to overcome their compulsions to shelter their kids, otherwise we run the risk of an early death of heart attacks and high blood pressure, and taking all the joy out of life for our children. A child needs to be able to run barefoot through the grass, climb trees (at the risk of a broken limb), and enjoy a cool watermelon on a hot summer's day without his/her parents trying to comb through the fruit to remove all choking-hazard seeds.

The world can be a scary place, but it's also a very beautiful place. Show your child the beauty of it. And while you're at it, show yourself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is the Universe Friendly?

Just a little ramble...

It's said that Einstein once declared, "I think the most important question facing humanity is, 'is the universe a friendly place?' "

Some people describe the Universe as "friendly". In most religions, there is a God or spiritual force looking out for humanity as a whole, or certain individuals. Many people trust that "God has a plan," even when things don't turn out so well for us. Even many non-religious people believe in governing forces... "karma" or "destiny" are terms they use to describe the Divine, even when they don't believe in a conscious being called God or Goddess.

Some people describe the Universe as "unfriendly". They point to Darwin, and the idea that it's a "dog eat dog" world and that only the strong (or lucky, or resourceful) survive. Statistically, most living things that are born into this world die relatively young, and we all die sometime. The chances of our dying a "peaceful" death, of old age in our sleep, is a small one.

Of course, "friendly" and "unfriendly" are anthropomorphic terms. They describe how people see the Universe, not how the Universe actually operates. Of course there are both friendly and hostile elements to the Universe, but people generally choose one worldview over another and base their opinions and life on that. However, it's my understanding that in order to achieve a more balanced perspective, both viewpoints need to be considered as correct.

The Universe operates on natural selection. As an example: out of 10 kittens born last year to our fertile barn cat, only 2 survived their first year. 5 died of being smashed under a hay bale when they were only a couple weeks old. One kitten was snatched by a predator. One kitten suffered and died of pneumonia during the winter. Another disappeared unexpectedly one day. You can't explain the suffering and death of innocents- babies- if you believe that the Universe is entirely benevolent. I mean, you can, but you end up with illogical arguments or a twisted view of "God".

However, you can't also discount the tremendous amounts of good things that happen everyday. People find love and form families, baby animals play in the grass, dust and death are washed away in cooling, cleansing rains. Cats nap in the sun with a smile on their face. To some people, the world seems wholly useless and evil, but those people aren't looking at reality, either. Even pain and suffering sometimes brings about a strength of character or a heightened sense of compassion. There are some horrible atrocities that will never be explained or justified, so you can't say with all certainty that "the Universe is friendly." However you can't say "the Universe is unfriendly" either, because then you discount many wonderful aspects of life.

I think the idea that the Universe is either friendly or hostile arises when we blame or credit "God" or "Goddess" or "gods" or "forces" with the good/bad things that happen every day. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting belief in the Spiritual. I'm just saying that belief can easily delude people into thinking that everything that happens to you is because your life revolves around you. What is "bad" to one person is often "good" to another person. The kitten who died of predation at least made one other animal happy. The rest of them might seem like senseless deaths, but maybe that's because human beings look for a reason for everything. Even though we tend to agree that the earth revolves around the sun, and that the moon revolves around the earth, we still tend to think that everything that happens is either to our benefit or detriment. It may not be that way. Just because an event happens to us doesn't me it's about us. And yet that's how our perspective makes us see things. From that point of view, the Universe is both friendly and hostile, because our lives are made up of both beneficial and detrimental events.

However, looking at the grand scheme of things might not provide us with an answer. We might not find an overarching purpose for our lives, but we can at least understand that often what we do, or what is done to us, is not hostile, nor friendly. It simply is. For whatever reason, IF there is a reason. Sometimes there is a reason, and sometimes there isn't. I think if we can look at life from that perspective more often, we would ask "why is this happening to me?" less often, and take more responsibility for the impact of our own actions. I don't think anyone in the Universe is "looking out for me, specifically." I think it's up to me to look after myself and my loved ones, which is scary considering the amount of control I DON'T have over my own life.

And that's why this post is a ramble, not a sermon. I don't have any clear cut answers. I don't think my beliefs can give you hope, or make you despair. I don't think that anyone can know the answers, and if they think they do, I think they are just discounting aspects of reality. I don't know if Einstein had an opinion one way or another, but I do know that he asks a very good question.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

PTTC Part 15: Be Alert and Mindful

"Be ready in a moment
to let go of one plan
and embark on another
if your inner voice so urges."

I am part of a forum community online for mothers, and while we were pregnant, we discussed everything from how we were going to buy baby stuff to how we were going to handle crying babies to how we were going to discipline our children when they were older.

Then, when our babies got here, we were thrust into a different reality. Parents who said they would never let their babies cry in the crib tried every technique to try and get their babies to sleep. Then they just "gave up" and let the babies cry, and were surprised to learn that their babies would cry for a little while and then fall asleep on their own.

Parents who thought they would impose a strict schedule from day one soon found out that babies are immune to schedules and it worked better to work their schedules around the baby instead.

Personally, I would have loved to wear my baby in a sling, carrying him close to me while i walked or did housework, but my son HATED it! he would rather be set down while i did dishes nearby.

Parenthood is a job that requires constant flexibility, in fact that's one of the reasons I like it so much! :) Every day is a new day, what works for one child may not work for another, and something that worked one day might not work tomorrow. The best parents are adaptable, willing to try different strategies if their preferred strategy isn't working.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PTTC Part 14: Their Mysterious Origin

"Did your children really begin
with the union of your bodies?
Or is their origin more mysterious?

means no time,
no beginning,
no end.
Do your children,
who visit you in time,
really reside in eternity?

If you try to grasp them,
they slip away.
They are more than what you see and hear and feel.
They belong somewhere else
and only visit here.
So why do you worry?"

This is a very poetic verse to me. Personally, I believe that there is no beginning or end to life, that it is a continuum of lives, all lived differently. For now, my son has been given to me to care for, but I always have to remember that he doesn't exist in this time and place alone, he is an eternal being just passing through. If you are a Christian, you probably believe that "we are not of this world." I believe that we are, definitely, part of this world, but that we are also part of something larger, something that we are constantly trying to understand through our interactions here.

Children will not appreciate your trying to hold them here, static, in this moment in time. Children are even more fluid than adults, and their life is one constant transition. Parents need to be even more flexible because their children need your relationship with them to change over time. They can't be treated like an adult when they are just a child, they can't be treated like a child when they are just a baby, they can't be treated like a baby when they are a child, and they can't be treated like a child when they are an adult. A parent who tries to stop time is doing their child a disservice, because they refuse to acknowledge that time, and their child, need fluidity to thrive.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

PTTC Part 13: Fear Of Failure

"Your children do not learn from their successes.
They learn from their failures.
They must have complete permission to try
and fail,
and discover that they are still OK."

I used to be terrified of failure as a kid, so much so that I was afraid to try anything new! I somehow got the message that I needed to be perfect, and if I wasn't perfect I was a failure. This is actually a common belief, and one that is detrimental to teach children! Failure is not to be feared, because without failure we can't learn anything about ourselves. Let your children make small mistakes now, so that they learn that mistakes have consequences and might remember that before they make a big mistake later. Let them try something difficult, and fail, and learn that it's OK to mess up and that if you practice and are determined you will eventually succeed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Is Paganism?

A few people I've talked to online are interested in what Paganism is, because they don't know much on the subject. A few questions were asked, and this is how I answered them.

1. what leads a person to paganism?

Paganism is a broad term, the definition is "someone who does not worship the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim god(s)." Within Paganism, there are many different traditions, but generally Paganism has been associated with Pantheism, which means worship or belief in more than one god. A better term would be Earth-centered religions, which contrasts with Judeo-Christianity's human-centered religion. Pagans generally believe that all life, and the Earth itself, is to be revered, celebrated, and cherished. Pagans believe that human beings are not any "better" than animals or plants, we are all just different expressions of life, and therefore all beings on this earth should be treated with respect. Judeo-Christian religions believe that humans are "special" and set apart from the rest of this world. So therein lies the difference.

Personally, for me, after I left Christianity, I just read up on many different religions and did not find one particular one that meshed with my beliefs, although Native American religion was pretty close. I joined a community interested in things like Shamanism, ritual, yoga, and meditation and basically went from there, taking bits and pieces of each tradition until my beliefs were better defined, then I started leaning more toward one or two.

Judeo-Christian religions emphasize dogma, but Paganism doesn't, therefore someone who is interested in spiritual concepts but believes in mystical experiences and an all-encompassing worldview, rather than dogma and black and white views of good and evil/truth and untruth, will be more drawn to Paganism than other religions.

What tradition you follow will depend on your interests. For example, some people, like me, work within dreams and trances, so Shamanism appeals to me. Others like formalized ritual and group practice, so Wicca is more their style. Some people are drawn to a certain culture and their values, for example the Greek philosophy, culture, and concepts, and they are more likely to work with Greek deities. Some people are drawn to the warrior mindset and like working with Norse deities. A lot of people love worshiping in nature, and they might be drawn toward Druidism. People drawn toward African religions love using song and dance in worship. People drawn toward Shinto love contemplating life through stillness and reverence.

2. Does it involve god worship in the sense of the major monotheistic religions, or is the concept of worship different?

It depends on who you talk to. Most Pagans don't "worship" deities in the sense that they debase themselves in front of deities or think of deities as entities "outside" themselves. Most pagans that I know describe deities as aspects of themselves, or spirits, like different facets of the same jewel or different branches of the same tree. Generally Pagans don't tend to plead or beg with deities, rather they rely on their own transformation to bring about positive change. "Worship" is generally interchanged with "celebration" to describe what Pagans do. Most Pagans celebrate life, not "worship" per se, although some do, it just depends. People who have contact with spirits or deities generally do so in order to seek advice or personal transformation. Their relationship is not like master/slave, it's more like teacher/student, or very respected family. The idea is to learn from deities or spirits, not to let them control all aspects of your life. For many Pagans, the deities are simply different aspects of life, and by becoming more aware of them, we are both celebrating, learning, and transforming.

3. Is the faith comparable to how people speak of faith in God or is faith in pagan gods less literal?

"Faith" is a word that most Pagans won't use, simply because "faith" as defined by Christianity is belief in things not experienced, and most Pagans believe in things they do experience and are skeptical of things they are told by authority. Through ritual, trance, meditation, dream, etc... people "meet" deities or spirits and learn from them directly, instead of being told what they should believe, so there is very little "faith" involved. To contrast it with Judeo-Christian religions, Pagans don't believe things because that's what they are taught by authority is true. They believe things because it is in line with their personal experience.

Some see deities as separate entities, some see spirits as different forms of consciousness, some as concentration of energy, some as their "higher selves", some as symbols, some as expressions of one larger spirit which is called God, etc... There are many, many different views on the subject. Some would say that all the views are true, they are just different ways of looking at the world. So it varies tremendously. Each tradition will have its own view, but many are flexible to include other views. Paganism is generally very flexible and open to personal interpretation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Death, And Life

Today a friend of the family found his 20 (or so) year old son dead in their house. My sister knew the deceased and it's been a real shock to everyone. I can't imagine how the family is feeling, so if you pray or do healing rituals, I'd appreciate your thoughts going out to this family. The son's name was Justin.

Every time a person or animal that I know dies, I need to take a quiet moment and contemplate existence, the enormous paradox of life and death, celebration and mourning. I end up with a feeling of peace and sadness. I can't imagine losing my son or any of my loved ones. If that were to happen, I would do more than contemplate existence, I would probably seriously question everything that I know. I would wonder, is happiness even achievable? Is there any meaning to life, or are we just thrown around by the tides of life and swept under the sea at whim?

With distance, comes a more peaceful revelation about death. I'd met this man before, but I would never converse with him beyond a simple passing "hi," so my emotions are more of sympathy than sadness. I can look beyond the screen of raging emotions and see that there was both celebration and mourning in his life and death, and I remain sobered but at peace. Life and death are simply two sides of the same coin, separate but equally meaningful. I just hope I can remember this fact when it is time for my own family or friends to hold the hand of death. I doubt that I will feel peaceful, but I hope I can at least remember to celebrate their lives as well as mourn their deaths.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Healing of Our Water

At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy, our ocean is being polluted with this oil leak, in case you haven't heard (who hasn't??), and it's a damn shame that pollution this big will affect the environment on a large scale yet nothing will be done to correct the problems that generate it.

The human body is made up mostly of water. Without water, nothing would grow, we would all die, existence as we know it would cease to be. Drinking water is vital for your health, it provides cool refreshment and warm healing, ice, snow, steam, light rain and pouring waterfalls.

Water gives us our health and our very lives... and it also carries pollutants and chemicals. Those who have access to contaminated water lose their health and are prone to all sorts of ailments.

Please pray for the healing of earth's waters, please pray that earth's water will retain its purity, for it is the thing that sustains all life. And please respect the water that you drink and the water that's near you. Pay attention to what's in your water and pay attention to the actions that are helping or hurting our water.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

PTTC Part 12: A Quiet Place

"Constant stimulation
of your child's senses
creates insensitivity.
They see so much they become blind.
They hear so much they become deaf.
They taste so much they become nauseated.
They desire so much they become forever unsatisfied.

They do not come to know what truly satisfies."

This is an easy one for me, and a very very hard one for me, at the same time. It's easy because our house is a pretty relaxed and quiet house. Usually when there is chaos (and there is plenty of that!) it takes place during chores when I am outside. My home is a restful sort of place, and so NOT overstimulating. I often have to take my son outside to escape the boredom and so I can get stuff DONE.

However, the last two lines are what kills me. How can I model those last values for my son, when this is something I struggle with constantly? I'm a strong-willed creature, and full of unsatisfied desire. I constantly desire more... when I'm at home with my husband and son, I desire more social interaction. When I'm out and about I desire more time with my family. I desire home-grown foods and a wholesome lifestyle with plenty of personal space yet also desire to be near other people. I definitely have a "grass is greener" syndrome. Nowadays I find myself more satisfied with my life than ever before, but it's still very much a work in progress.

In fact, I think I'll write a little note to myself, saying "What you have is enough," and stick it up on the windowsill or something so that when I have a quiet moment I can read it and let it sink in.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Not Africa?

When a white person is interested in Japanese culture, nobody bats an eye. Traditional Chinese medicine is a popular interest among Westerners, Asian philosophies and martial arts are also admired, and of course there is anime.

When a white person is interested in Native American culture, it doesn't really surprise anyone. South or Central American culture is also often interesting to the layperson, Mexican culture is fairly integrated into American culture, pretty much any European country has its fans in America, and many people, although they wouldn't go out of their way to research it, would listen avidly to someone speaking of Pacific Island culture or many other less "mainstream" cultures.

So, that leaves the Middle East and Africa. Unless you are African-American or from the Middle East, it's not "in vogue" to be interested in those cultures. Middle Easterners have a bad rep in this day and age, and Africa is just kind of ignored by the masses, unless we are looking up news segments about grisly warfare and changing political structures. So when I tell people that I'm studying traditional African religion, I often get a puzzled look, and the sentence, "Why would you be interested in Africa? You're not black." hangs unsaid but very much present in the ether between us.

"Why not?" I want to reply. Why are African cultures so unappealing and ignored by white Americans? My guess is that there is still an implied separation between white and black people in this country. People still think of race in terms of "us" and "them." A lot of white people would be totally supportive of African-Americans researching African culture and expressing interest, but have no interest themselves. I'm not sure why this barrier exists less prominently between whites and Asian-Americans. Perhaps because Japan is on the technological up-and-up, and Africa is thought of as just another poverty-and-war-ridden "third world country" even though it's really a whole friggin' continent! Also a lot of white Americans feel a connection between themselves and Native Americans... understandable, since we are living on their land... however Africa is too far away to care about.

People interested in Africa are not going to find a lot about it in the mainstream. In college, my World History class barely mentioned it, my ethics class had nothing on it (even though we studied a few other cultural world views), there weren't even any electives dealing with the subject, even though there were other world culture classes, and many students attending were Sudanese. Even most African-Americans don't know much about Africa.

However, look deep inside yourself, and you'll find an inherent connection with Africa. After all, it is all of our "motherland" because it's where human beings originated from. Our souls are still connected to that big wide continent, even though our minds are busy being interested in other things. Go on Youtube and listen to some African drums and let your heartbeat mesh with the beat of the drums. Find a map of the continent and remember some of the country's names. Find one that catches your eye and look up a brief history. Find out what tribes lived in that country, go to google images, and type in "traditional _(tribe's name)__ dress (or art)" and admire the craftsmanship of a people largely forgotten by today's society.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fleshless Fire

fleshless fire
tornado of flame
yellow and orange and red

dance in me
dance through me
a ribbon of lifeforce
drawing me

so hot to the touch
so warm to my skin
so full, so free
in love and passion be manifest

this is myself
in sync with the world
the bonfire within
now given a voice
burning through my skin
you are set free

Wake Up Laughing

This morning the baby woke up at 5, so when he decided to take a nap at 7:30 I was more than willing to sleep as well! During my nap, I had a strange and funny dream.

Basically, I was a lesbian girl on the show Survivor, but they only allowed gay men to be on the show, not gay women. Well it wouldn't have been an issue except I was flirting with another girl on the island, so this straight white man was up in my face and got me kicked off the show because I rebuffed his flirtations. ;) Well I wanted to make it into a big controversy to get things changed and draw public attention to the fact that the show is discriminating, so I kept appealing to a higher court. Finally, I was being interviewed by this asshole reporter and he kept bringing other people off the island to interview, to try and gather evidence that I was, in fact, gay. (I wasn't admitting it but I wasn't masking anything I was doing, either.) I was having fun with this interview because it was obvious that the reporter was extremely homophobic and probably gay himself.

First he interviewed the angry white guy who got me kicked off, then he interviewed a good-looking gay black guy and kept asking him questions like, "what is wrong with your penis?" and "how ugly are your balls?" When the guy asked WTF? the reporter said that obviously you just took to men because women would be disgusted with your junk. (The reporter was basically Sue Sylvester (from the T.V. show Glee) only male.) I was pleased because the reporter's acting like an asshole would stir up even more controversy for my case.

Everyone there was so fed up with the reporter that we decided just to ignore him from that point on, so I started striking up a conversation with a black woman that was near me. We started talking about kids and then she said I reminded her about a song, and started singing it. I listened politely because the song started out kind of sappy and I'm not into sappy songs very much, but then she got to the chorus and shocked me. The song was overall very positive with the message that we need to push our kids into being their best, but the chorus used the imagery of pushing kids out of airplanes so they can fly. She sang "push behind them, baby, push them so they fall. Push behind them, baby, give them it all." It was so silly and ridiculous that I laughed out loud and woke myself up. :)

I love it when I have dreams that make me laugh, because then the whole day from that point on seems humorous and silly. I needed a silly day! Yeehaw!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Death, Or A Standstill in Time

Last night I had a dream that left a big impression. Lately, I've been having those sorts of dreams near a full moon.

In this dream, I was flying in an airplane with a bunch of people, and all of a sudden the plane took a nosedive straight for the ocean. Everyone was panicking as the plane spiraled out of control, but somehow I remained calm. It was scary, sure, but I didn't feel the same panic as those that surrounded me.

Then all of a sudden time stood still, just as the nose of the plane was about to hit the water of the ocean. It hadn't quite touched yet. All of the people and myself got out of the plane and started walking on the surface of the water! We wandered around, exploring this new phenomenon, when I spotted my dad among the crowd. I went over to him, and he went behind a wave as tall as myself, so that the wave separated us. My dad then pushed the wave over so that it was on top of me! I was inside the wave for a moment, but the water didn't even seem to touch me. I had time to think while I was inside the wave, and I thought, wow, I'm not even wet, and I'm inside an ocean wave yet outside of time! Then I went through the wave to the other side and saw my dad.

Then I got to thinking and I didn't understand how we could have stepped into a realm outside of time and be able to affect the environment (my dad was able to push the wave as if it were jello) yet not be affected by the environment (I didn't even get wet as I stepped inside the wave.) I wondered if we were all dead and the plane really did crash into the ocean, and I wondered how we would know for sure. Then I woke up.

Perhaps I did die, in the dream. And if so, I experienced a reality that was separate from everyday reality, yet still connected to this world. My whole dream took place in the span of maybe 2 or 3 seconds, yet so much happened. I wonder if, after death, we will experience time at all, or if everything we do will seem like it happens in a single second of time, or if we will just be outside of time altogether. This is not the first dream I've had in which I died, by the way, but I'm not even sure if I did die in the dream or if I somehow became part of another reality through some other means.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Creation Story

Once, long ago, the world was undefinable. Chaos twisted the world round and round gleefully, tangling the universe with questions that could not be answered, thoughts that could not form, and matter that could not take shape.

And in the center, sitting quizzically in the eye of the hurricane, was a small child. The child did not know how it was born or who birthed it or what it was supposed to do. It simply sat, and looked at the chaos and the void and the tangled roots of the universe, and it formed a tiny speck of wonder. This was the birth of curiosity.

With that curiosity, some tangles began to align themselves with other tangles and create little threads weaving in and out between other threads. The child watched this from its place in the center, and noticed the change intently, filled with wonder at the new happenings.

With this wonder, the threads began to weave in and out, creating tiny repetitive movements. Some movements were predictable, and created patterns. The child noticed the patterns, and was amazed and puzzled at how things were turning out.

With this puzzlement, the patterns became even more distinguishable. Some threads began sticking to each other and forming complex structures. The tangled dance of the Chaos began to intertwine with a graceful new dance... a dance which birthed many wondrous new rhythms and gyrations and intriguing new patterns.

There was so much for the little child to learn, and so much it did not understand. There were forms taking shape, and the child wanted to know more about these mysterious forms. There were sounds appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, and it wanted to know what they could possibly be. Colors and textures were emerging, vibrant and beautiful and longing to be understood.

With this longing, beauty slowly unfurled, coloring the new patterns with breathtaking delight. The child widened its eyes at all the things it saw and could not understand. Its ears widened to catch each new vibration. Its arms reached out, skin prickling with goosebumps, at the silky, furry, grainy sensations. Its nose breathed in every exotic aroma, and its tongue prickled with a strange desire... it wanted to explore every new wonder, it wanted to reach out and grab everything with its tiny hand and figure out what all of these beautiful patterns mean.

The child could no longer contain itself. Something was pushing, reaching out from inside the child's head, growing bigger and bigger, longing to break free.

"Why?" was all the child said. And with that the world was born.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Does Feminism Mean to You?

So, what does modern day feminism mean to you?

Obviously feminism advocates equal rights and opportunities for women. Some say we have accomplished those goals, some say they have yet to be accomplished.

I think they have yet to be accomplished. Women still make less money than men doing the same damn jobs, and the social pressure to be feminine is still there.

However, there's one aspect of feminism that makes the waters kind of muddy. And that is the exaltation of "masculine" over "feminine." In the past, feminism has made it clear that girls can be masculine and should be allowed to without social pressures. OK, as a woman who has more "masculine" tendencies than "feminine" ones, I'm down with that. I kick ass, I belch, I wear jeans and black t-shirts, etc... in a lot of ways I'm what feminists would call an "empowered woman." However, is masculinity really more desireable than femininity? Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I wonder. This has never been a problem for me before, but it is now. I feel like if the general public applauds my decision to focus on childrearing as a career, they are being chauvanistic. Why is that? Staying at home with my child is a perfectly feminist move for me, because it's the kind of job that makes me feel empowered and independent. However this is considered "feminine" and therefore "inferior" in the eyes of society.

What I mean by that is, girls who are "one of the guys" are often admired, while girls who are "one of the girls" are not. Girls who are ambitious or leaders are admired, while girls in a supportive role are not. And what about guys? Macho guys are still admired, but if a guy wants to do cheerleading or stay home with the kids, he is often ostracized for it. That's because masculinity is still exalted in society.

The next step in feminism, in my opinion, is the equaling out of both masculinity and femininity. And this cannot be accomplished by women alone. Guys also need to stand up for their right to do whatever interests them, whether or not it makes a lot of money or is traditionally "masculine." The gay movement is actually helping us accomplish this, because it's slowly becoming more acceptable for guys to act "girly" and for girls to act "butch."

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PTTC Part 11:The Still Point

"A pot has beautiful sides.
The emptiness inside
makes it useful.
Suggesting, guiding, teaching, and lecturing,
although well intentioned,
often creates confusion rather than clarity."

I like the pot analogy because there are spaces we are supposed to fill and spaces we should let remain empty. When I was younger, I would paint or draw with the intention of filling every blank space on the paper. When my drawing was "finished," it wasn't enough for me and I'd keep working it until I inevitably messed up and "ruined" the whole thing, or filled the paper to the brim and created a masterpiece of confusion.
Later, I learned about the importance of blank space in artistry. Often, it's not the spaces we fill, but the spaces we leave blank, that determines the power in a piece of art. I did not learn that lesson until way after adolescence and I'm only beginning to apply it to my life.

Some days, if I'm not reading book after book to my son, or giving him engaging new toys, or taking him outside and pointing to all the different things, I get panicky and somehow convince myself that I'm not being a good mom, and I'm not fostering a love of learning, because I'm just letting my child entertain himself while I do the dishes! This is far from the truth, but there is constant pressure on mothers to do everything right or else their children will grow up to be failures. Each child must be bilingual! Each child must learn to read at kindergarten! Kids need constant exposure to new environments! This is what a new mom is bombarded with, and it's hard to measure you're own parenting and NOT come up short!

However, do I really believe all this hype? If I did, my child would have every minute of every day scheduled with structured, parent-led learning. Why can't he explore on his own and learn things that interest HIM? Some kids have no interest in learning a second language, but love naming all the different kinds of insects. There are some things that a child must receive guidance on, but there are many more things that the child can learn at his own pace and in his own time. :) Great! Less stress for me!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

PTTC Part 10: As They Are

"Being with your children can be like meditating.
When you are with your child next,
forget the past,
forget the future,
and let your mind and heart come
to be where your body is."

Out of all the analogies, I've never heard parenting compared to meditating! It seems like, as a parent, i'm flying from one chaotic situation to the next with no time to be calm and center myself.
I suppose this can be achieved if I find the eye in the tornado and survey the chaos from there. Most parents become part of the chaos, trying to control it, trying to dispel it. Accepting chaos is a hard thing to do, for a human mind which values perfection. I personally do love chaos, but it's a challenge trying to get anything done in the day!

I suppose this verse is challenging me to find a position where I can see what's going on through the chaos, but not be part of the chaos myself. :)

I think it's also challenging me to keep my thoughts in the here and now. My mind tends to wander... and I like living in the realm of ideas and possibilities rather than what IS. I find solace in my intellectual and spiritual pursuits, but sometimes it becomes an escape from the mundane. I have to realize that the "mundane" reality is also filled with its miracles and joyous moments! I think that is the most poignant lesson I have been learning in the past year... the fact that I don't have to "escape" in order to experience something truly profound, I just have to spend a little time playing or working in awareness.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coming to Terms with my Lack of Omniscience

When I don't know something or can't do something, it frustrates me. Which is nothing new to humans in general, and considering all the things we'll never know/understand, and all the things we can never do, it makes life very frustrating! There are a million things I will never understand (like tax forms!!!) and a million things I cannot do (like fix my car or prepare a gourmet meal).

However people sometimes come up to me when viewing my artwork and say "oh wow, you have such skill!" And, when I'm talking, (or typing, usually,) people say things like "you're so wise and insightful." The problem is, I can't really accept this as true. Most of the time when I TRY to draw or paint, I end up with nothing. Or when I TRY to type/talk etc... I stumble on my words and can't think of a thing to say. However, what I'm good at, is channeling. Call it spirits, muses, the collective unconscious, whatever you will, it speaks to me and comes through in what I say sometimes, and through my art.

So I feel a little guilty accepting complements. When accepting complements like "oh you're so skillful, and wise" I just smile and say "thank you." Because if I try to deny them, people get offended... because they just tried to offer a piece of goodwill towards me and I am essentially denying it. And obviously I would be perpetuating a lie if I agreed with them. After all, no one gives complements like "oh, you channel so well" and "your muse must be so talented" and "congrats on being in tune with the universal unconscious!" Instead they just see the end result and think that it all came from me! Sorry to disappoint, you guys! I really don't have any special skill!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PTTC Part 9: Can You Make Room?

"Are your children "problems to be solved,"
or people to be loved?
Consider current problems with your children.
Can you create a space,
free from your own anxieties,
in which they are able to find their own way,
feeling your love,
but not your expectations?"

This piece can be taken symbolically, but I'm going to change it up and take it literally. :)
For the past week, I've been challenged to "create a space free from (my) own anxieties" for my son to play in! In other words, babyproofing. Soon he will be walking, and he is even now able to reach the 3rd shelf on the bookshelf and pretty much any low table. Keeping things safe is very much a challenge!
On the one hand, it's hard not to be overly anxious about this, because once my husband caught him eating soap! And once we turned our back for (literally) 5 minutes and he had climbed all the way up the stairs! Since we have wide doorway/stairway openings, none of our baby gates will fit, so it's easy to fall into the trap of anxiously following the boy around, taking away every thing he tries to explore and steering him toward places I'd rather he go.
On the other hand, it's also tempting to just throw out all furniture with sharp edges and turn this old farmhouse into one big "safe" play area. This would be my preferred method! I'd rather change the house to suit the baby then follow him around and not let him touch anything! But either method is impossible. Farm houses don't change their structure, and there's not enough storage to put away 5 bookshelves worth of books just so he can't grab one off the shelf and rip it to shreds.

Right now I'm very much challenged to create an environment where baby is safe to explore and mom is safe to turn her back every once in a while to get the dishes done! It's hard to see this stage of development as anything but a "problem to be solved." However, I'm also occasionally reminded about how fun this stage of development is. For example, when I give my son a noodle for the first time and he looks at it in puzzlement and starts playing with it, only to figure out quickly that it's also good for eating. Sometimes in the morning I just lie on the bed after nursing him and have a "conversation" with him, tickle him, play peek-a-boo (which he still doesn't really "get"), and make silly noises with his animal toys. Yes my son needs to be kept safe, but he needs my silly games and loving cuddles just as much. :) And that's the fun part.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mr. Deity

I'm watching Mr. Deity on mrdeity.com and I have to say that it is pretty awesome. :)

That is all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Strong North Wind

Today there is a strong North Wind blowing across the pasture. The grass is newly green and the sky is cloudy and gray, making the new spring greens look darker and deeper. The wind is very chill, as is the case for all strong North Winds that I remember.
The North is a place of cold, of restless waiting, of putting your nose to the grindstone, of patience and hard work. North Winds are usually biting and fierce, strong and cold, the kind of cold that reaches your skin and seeps through your bones no matter how many layers of clothes you are wearing.
In some ways I dislike North Wind days, in the same way that I dislike winter. Too much cold, too much obligatory work, too much waiting. However these days are not only necessary, but they bring relief and progress. Relief from the mental and emotional rollercoaster of starting new projects and finishing old ones, and progress from doing the "middle work" that needs to get done in order for me to finish my projects. I rarely start anything new or get anything completely finished on a North Wind day, but I usually make a lot of much-needed progress, and I often organize things. Quite often I get the things done that I have been putting off, because I just don't want to do them right now. I also tend to spend some time just snuggled up inside the house, drinking hot cocoa or taking a nap. (Since I couldn't get to sleep last night, I'll probably do some of this today!)

When the North Wind blows, remember winter and the rest it brings. Remember to have patience. (I need this lesson a lot!) Remember to get the things done that you have been putting off and work slowly but diligently.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PTTC part 8... Model Contentment

"To be a wise parent you must become like water.
It is content to nourish all it touches
without discrimination.
While people struggle to move up,
water flows joyfully down,
filling the low places."

Wow, how completely appropriate considering the past couple of days! It seems as if water, parenting, and blessings are a theme right now. :)

The second line, "it is content to nourish all it touches" brings to mind the various ways we become parents. We can give birth, bringing forth children from our own bodies and our own genetic material. These babies are born from a conscious desire to parent or from chance. Sometimes when you get pregnant, you get pregnant, only Life knows when it'll happen.

Some people become parents through circumstance. I have 2 great step-children that I never gave birth to, and who aren't part of my genetic makeup. They don't even live with us most of the year, but they are still family and I still love them.

Some people become parents through choice and deliberation. In my desire to learn more about fostering and adopting, I have made some friends who have adopted children, and these children are true products of a loving choice to bring a child into their family.

Some parents never have "children" but have nieces and nephews, students, other children who they care for temporarily or mentor, etc... Some give care to adults who are mentally "forever children." Some give care to elderly or animals! They are parents too, in a way.

The true meaning of motherhood and fatherhood is nurturing. Let's become better parents by striving to nurture all who come across us on our path!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mother of the Ocean

I had a very poignant dream last night.

I was not in the dream per se. I was simply observing. I saw this huge ocean at night-time, dark blue and gray and black, with huge house-sized waves. They gave the impression of being enormous and overwhelming, but not sinister in the least. In the water, small boats floated, and in each boat was a couple or sometimes a single person. They bobbed up and down on the water, waiting, but some of them were trying to paddle with their hands and essentially getting nowhere.

Suddenly, a swarm of small beings surged forward through the water, swimming through the waves at full speed and filling the ocean like a giant wave of fish. They were the tiny souls of babies. I watched as a few of them jumped out of the water into the loving arms of those who waited in the boats. Some of them swam on past the boats and some dived down into the depths of the ocean. There were so many children! It was a happy sight.

However some of the babies tried to go near the people who were trying to paddle in the boats, and they tried to jump in the boat but couldn't. The splashing made by their hands was drowning the babies! These couples were trying to grasp the babies and to maneuver the boat into a more favorable position but their efforts were drowning the very children that they were trying to grasp.

At that point I heard a voice, and I recognized it as the voice of the Mother of the Ocean. Unfortunately I can't remember the exact words of what She said, but it was something to the effect of, "Don't try to gain control, and wait patiently, lest you waste the blessings I am trying to give you."

Maferefun Yemaya!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feelin' Good

I just came back from my Ifa/Orisha class, and it seems like every time I go there, I leave feeling good... like I'm ready to roll, like I have friends and people I can relate to spiritually, like the Spirits are lurking just around the corner or sitting patiently in a chair next to me sipping their coffee and telling their stories.

I feel connected to the world.

I feel impatient, like my heart is jumping out of my chest and wanting to be heard.

I can relate mentally to the Orisha. I can relate emotionally. I can relate spiritually.

I can see the Warrior, the Shaman, the Trickster, the Teacher, intertwining in a story I want to listen to and repeat. I see a vivid and intricate web that I want to paint, a smooth, graceful motion that I want to perform as a kata (martial art form). I see the vivid colors, the complex concepts, the beautiful dance that the Ifa call prayer.

Yes, I want to be a part of the dance. I feel I already am. However there is so much I still need to learn. This is such a complex religion. But for the first time I feel no inner conflict. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But either way I think I'm finally getting somewhere. I have a destination, instead of just drifting. Maybe. I have trouble getting my hopes up too much. ;)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

PTTC part 7... Present for All

"You do not live your life
through your children.
Therefore they are free
to find their own true fulfillment."

Lately I'm finding the simple statements to be the most true. Instead of restricting your children to the life YOU want them to live, set them free to live their own lives.

Instead of driving them toward what YOU think would make them happy, let them find out for themselves whether certain things make them happy, or not. Ultimately, they need to learn how to live life according to their own unique needs and wants, not yours, or society's, or anyone else's.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PTTC part 5... Seeing to the Heart

"Above all, do not attack your child's behavior
and attempt to change it
by endless talking and scolding.
Stay at your center and look beneath the behavior
to the heart of the child.
There you will find only good.
When you see the heart
you will know what to do."

In a lot of instances, parents don't know what to do about a child's behavior. There are countless strategies and parenting methods for correcting "bad" behavior... do this, say this, don't do this, don't give in, don't say this, etc... It can leave a parent overwhelmed by the conflicting advice!
This verse says something simple: don't look at the child's behavior, look at the child. Many strategies that deal with a child's behavior don't fix the real problem (if there is one!) beneath the behavior, they only treat the symptoms. According to this passage, the first thing we should do when we see a behavior we don't like is to re-evaluate our own perception of the behavior! Is it something that will harm the child or those around him? Or is it a mere convenience for us? Is the child acting out because s/he is testing limits and needs to be shown the limits? Or is s/he simply curious or acting out of good intention?

People are too quick to label kids as "good" kids and "bad" kids. The truth is that kids are just kids, and acting out is their way of testing the waters, so that in the future they can learn from their mistakes. Let them learn, let them make mistakes, show them the consequences of mistakes but let them make mistakes in the first place. That is how children learn.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

PTTC part 4... Infinite Possibilities

"At birth your children are filled with possibilities.
It is not your job to limit these possibilities."

How simple to state, how hard to do! I can't count how many times I've heard people say "I only want the best for my child." However, what you consider "the best" and what your child does may differ dramatically! This is especially true in adolescence. It's easy to name a ton of qualities you want your child to have, and equally easy to name a ton that you DON'T want your child to have.

However, if you want your child to enter a high-paying profession, and discourage a lower paying profession, you are limiting him. If you want your child to go to an ivy-league college and discourage going to a community college (or not going to college at all!), you are limiting her. If you want your child to get married and start a family, you are limiting him. If you want your child to be straight, observe a specific religion, control who they hang out with, etc... you are limiting her. I find it very sad when parents think less of their children for choosing to be a truck driver instead of a doctor, or choosing to live in a small town instead of travel.

One of the main reasons I wanted children in the first place is because a child is full of limitless possibilities. I like to ask myself "what if my son is artistic?" or "what if my son marries a black woman?" or "what if my son travels to Asia?" Some possibilities are hard to think about, such as "what if my child does hard drugs and gets addicted?" or "what if my son spends time in prison?" I will do my best to see that my son makes choices based on not only himself and what feels good in the now, but what will impact him or others in the future. However when it comes to arbitrary things like lifestyles or interests, I will support him and try my best not to limit him in his choices.

Monday, March 1, 2010


There are certain points in my life, emphasized usually with depression and anxiousness, where I really seem to lose myself.
I'm going through one of those times right now. I recognize the loneliness, even though I'm surrounded by family and friends. The alienation from things I normally identify with. I come back to the old truth that there really is nowhere where I truly belong, as wonderful as my situation is. Rationally, I realize that my life is wonderful. I have a son whom I would die for, who fills my life with meaning and happiness. I have a husband who loves me and stays by my side. I have a roomy house, surrounded by animals, work to do and a little time for myself. Yes there are stresses (money!) and frustration (livestock!) but my life is overall very good.

However I can't internalize that fact. No matter what my husband does I keep thinking he really doesn't love me or want to spend time with me. I keep thinking that the only reason my son loves me is because i feed him, and that any old person would do. I keep thinking my life would be so much better if.... (and here I fantasize about some romanticized version of another life in another situation.)
These are not rational thoughts, and I know this. It doesn't stop me from alienating myself though. From believing, deep down in my soul, that I'm doing some thing wrong. That I'm somehow not living my life.

And I change my life somehow. Quit my job. Move. Take up a new hobby. Some sort of change, to help me find myself. So that I can think "maybe THIS is what I should be doing with my life." But eventually I get disenchanted with that as well and go back to my perpetual existential crisis.

This leads me to wonder, can I ever truly be content with my life? Will this feeling of separation and loneliness ever go away? What do I need to do to change, really, change for good? Not just change my position or circumstance, but change the true core problem that keeps me from living my life, fully integrated.

Change, true change, come and ground me.

PTTC part 3... Happiness is Contageous

Encourage your children's deepest joys,
not their superficial desires.
Praise their patience,
not their ambition.
Do not value the distractions and diversions
that masquerade as success.
They will learn to hear their own voice
instead of the noise of the crowd.

Parents often wonder how to keep their children from giving in to peer pressures? You can't always, but there are certain kids who will give in and there are those who will not.
The difference is, in part, the way you raise kids to think about themselves. If you always praise sucesses, and encourage children to be ambitious, then they will look for validation from their parents and their peers and society. They might also see themselves as always falling short of your expectations and develop a low self esteem.
The trick is to raise children who are secure in themselves and who make their own expectations, not blindly follow yours, or are diverted by their peers'. Listening to our own voices instead of those of society is a very, very hard thing to do. However as parents we can encourage our children to solve their own problems, instead of relying on us to solve them. This will build a good foundation of critical thinking and common sense.
A child doesn't need to be drilled to "Never take drugs! They'll ruin your life! If I ever catch you taking them..." etc...
Instead, they need to be taught how to think about their own actions and be allowed to make small mistakes so that they have practice solving problems. Letting a child stay up late at night once and then having them deal with the consequences the next morning is actually a good teaching tool, because then later you can say, "Remember how bad you felt the next morning after you stayed up so late? Sometimes things feel good for a little while but make you feel bad for a LONG while."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Value of Religion

This is not really a post, more like a provoking question.

What is the value of religion? If you are religious, why? If you are not, why?

Is religion important to society, to the individual, or to none?

PTTC part 2

PTTC stands for "Parent's Tao Te Ching" in case you didn't know. :)

"When you teach your children that certain things are good,
they are likely to call all different things bad.
If you teach them that certain things are beautiful,
they may see all other things as ugly....

Call birth, 'birth,'
and death, 'death,'
without seeing one as good
and the other as evil
and your children will be at home with life."

Such a profound thing to say, but how hard it is to do in real life! Humans are built with a strong emotional system, and evolutionarily, we are designed to consider some things "good" because they are beneficial to us, and some things "bad" because they are detrimental to us. Children take this to an even greater extreme because they are only beginning to develop empathy and see most things selfishly. For example a child will think that it's only fair to hit another child when they are mad, (because the other child obviously made them mad) but they understand that it's fundamentally unfair for the other child to hit them (regardless of what they did to provoke it!)

Even most adults are incapable of seeing past the ideas of "good" and "bad." An immature person sees the world selfishly, and uses people to get what he or she wants in the world. A more mature person protects his or her family and friends at the expense of others. A mature person does things to benefit his or her society or group as a whole. A perceptive person does things to benefit not only his or her own society, group, culture, or race, but the society of others as well. A wise person does things to benefit the whole world as a whole, including all life and even non-life, having respect for all things.

Some children are good role models for this. They treat their dolls as real people. They treat rocks as if they are living beings. They care for animals with the same respect they care for people, and cry at movie depictions of animals being killed. They make friends with poor people and rich people, black and white, real and imaginary, without discrimination.

But they will easily lose this empathy if adults model discrimination. The best parents are those who foster a balanced perspective, so that their children grow up without the labels "good" and "bad" to taint every experience they have.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Parent's Tao Te Ching

So I stumbled upon a book in a used book store called "The Parent's Tao Te Ching" by William Martin and thought I would pick it up and read it and then perhaps post my critique of some of the passages, or any thoughts that stemmed from my thought process while reading the book. My intention is to read a passage a day, but I'm a flexible person so I'm making no commitments. :) Sometimes if I'm too sleep-deprived, I'm not up to thinking deeply about anything. Also, if I read something and have nothing to say about it, I won't post it. No reason to, really, unless I feel compelled to post it without commentary anyway. :P (Of note: I'm not going to post the whole book, obviously, so if you like what you read, go buy the book.)

This is how the book begins...

"You can speak to your children of life,
but your words are not life itself.
You can show them what you see,
but your showing and their seeing
are forever different things.

You cannot speak to them of Divinity Itself.
But you can share with them
the millions of manifestations of this Reality
arrayed before them every moment.
Since these manifestations have their origin in Tao,
the visible will reveal the invisible to them."

For me, this portrays the wonderful revelation that kids learn by actions more than by listening to the spoken word. Personally, I could never have learned martial arts by verbal instruction alone. It's something that has to be worked through physically, observed, pondered, modified, and practiced over and over and over (without thinking about it too much!) in order to be effective and natural.
In the same way, I can speak about my personal experiences and hope someone gleans some bit of insight for them, or I can inspire them to go seek their own personal experiences. Which is more valuable? If I'm lucky I can do both, but I would place more value on inspiring others to seek their own truths than telling them what MY truths are. MY truths are valuable to me and, probably, only to me... but it is the seeking, the searching, the experience that makes those truths a reality. That's why I will never teach my son that I have all the answers or even that he can only find the answers in this book or that society or this priest or this religion. He has to look for his own manifestation of Tao (or Spirit, God, Truth, whatever you want to call it) in the world around him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ribbon of Healing

It seems as if a lot of people right around now are dealing with a lot of hurt, be it physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, etc...

During Imbolc, I received a ribbon of healing... it's literally a ribbon, blessed by Brigitte (Brigid, Bree, whatever you want to call her) and I think doing a healing ritual (basically sending positive energy and good thoughts) would be not only beneficial to all those of you who are hurting, but to me as well as I'm dealing with some issues of my own and rituals help me focus my mind and align myself with the bigger picture, resulting in my being less self absorbed and stressed out over my own petty concerns.

I already have a short list of specific people who I'm going to try and send healing energy to, but please let me know if you'd like to be added to the list, or you know someone who needs some healing right about now. You can message me privately if you'd rather do that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Old Testament/ New Testament

Many Christians say that they don't follow the laws of the Old Testament because now that Jesus has died for us, the OT laws are obsolete.

This might be what the church teaches, but Jesus himself? This is what he has to say:

(Matthew 5) 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(Luke 16) 17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

(Matthew 5)17"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

And of course Paul and John...

(Romans 3)31Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

(2 John) 6And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

So basically people need to keep the OT law down to the smallest letter ("tittle" in the King James). So how do Christians justify all the "unjust" or "unnecessary" laws of the OT like not having contact with a woman when she is on her period? Planting 2 different crops in the same field? Women wearing garments of 2 different kinds of fabric? What about all those laws that talk about killing unbelievers on sight, etc?

Personally, I don't understand why most Christians can't accept the idea that some points of the Bible are religious and some are cultural?