Sunday, December 1, 2013

Winter Solstice Circle


Since the Winter Solstice is coming up, I decided to jot down my notes and ideas about a Winter Solstice Circle.  We had a great time with this circle in 2012.  The intent was to have it outside with a fire, but it was way too windy, so we had it indoors and had a fire in the fireplace.  It was lovely and there was definitely a feeling of connection with my wonderful women friends.

The intent is to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a circle of friends.  It happened to be, for me, a circle of women friends but could easily include anyone you wish.  My circle of friends is so diverse that this celebration did not have any specific religious direction.

I did send out an e mail note in advance.  A friend was having a party on the night of the Winter Solstice and this was a perfect time to also have a Winter Solstice Circle, but I wanted everyone to know in advance in case they wanted to bring something for the circle.  It said something like this:

On December 21 I will be organizing a Winter Solstice Circle, all are invited to attend and encouraged to participate.  We will be creating a Yule Log, I will provide everything needed but if you would like to look in your own yard for dried flowers, holly, pine sprigs, dried grasses etc, to add to the Yule Log, please bring it all along to share!

We will also be creating prayer sticks for the upcoming year, I will be bringing everything you need for this, but if you have a particular stick in mind bring that with you, as well as anything special to decorate your prayer stick, markers, yarn, lace, leather, paint etc.

During the Circle there will be time for everyone to share,  if you have  special poem, prayer, letter, song, etc that you would like to share with the all of us, that would be a wonderful addition.  

Also, if you would like, bring a long something to add to our Winter Solstice Altar.  I will provide the foundation but let's make it special by adding personal touches, stones, jewelry, a feather, key ring candle etc.  These items will add to the altar, soak up all the wonderful positive energy of our friends and can return home with you, to bring you joy throughout the year!  

There will be a pot luck meal following so bring a dish to share and we can eat and chat into the night!

I wanted everyone to be able to participate and make this circle time special for all of us.  Plus I am NOT a public speaker so I did not want to do much "talking".  You could easily make it a more formal invitation, handwritten even, what a nice touch that would be.

Sage the Space

I started the evening by arriving just a bit early, and I saged the space.  I brought a sage bundle and burned that over a shell, to collect any embers or ashes that might fall, walked around the room clockwise and just said to myself "all negative energy is rid from this space, making room for all the light and love of our circle of women friends".  You could use loose sage burned in a dish or shell.  If you do not have any sage bundles in your home town you can easily get these online.  One resource is the Incense Warehouse.

Yule Log

After that I set up the yule log at one end of the table.  To make the base for a Yule Log I took an oak log section, about the size you would put on a fire, and wrapped twine around it.  Oak is a strong wood said to bring healing, strength and wisdom. Fastened the twine at one end then spiraled the twine down the Oak, wrapped it a couple of times at the opposite end and spiraled it back up the Oak log.  This created lots of places for everyone to stick leaves, flowers etc under the twine.  I also placed a basket by the Yule Log full or dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, grasses etc from my yard, for everyone to use as they wanted.  As people arrived this was a nice activity.  The women decorated the log chatted, and gathered.
Our 2013 Yule Log, I decided to make it early so I would have a picture for this post.

The Yule log symbolizes the end of the darkness, welcoming in the light, rebirth.

The 2012 Yule Log all decorated, just beautiful!


Prayer Stick

Then we moved into making prayer sticks.  I brought out all the items I had with me and we took our sticks and used paints or markers to write on the stick our prayers/wishes/desires for the upcoming year.  This could also be done after the Circle time as a conclusion.  I brought out beads, yarn, twine, fabric, leather, feathers etc for decorations.  Participants took the prayer stick home and "planted" it outside so that the feathers/yarn/fabric fly in the wind, as the wind blows it will take your prayers/wishes into the universe.

Creating Sacred Space

Now we set up our altar, creating our sacred space.  Such a nice time to get everyone participating, I explained as I went, why we were putting certain things on the altar and where. I started out with a table big enough for everyone, or you could place the altar in the center of the floor, and sit on pillows.   I began with a nice piece of fabric.  Last year I brought a nice piece of black velvet I had on hand, and I brought a white scarf to place under the black fabric in the center.  I used these colors to represent the dark and light symbolic in so many solstice celebrations.  But you could easily use any colors you like that are symbolic of this season.  Use the cold colors of winter (white, silver, blue), add in colors that represent the sun (golds, reds, oranges), also you could try greens that represent the holly.  That is a great start.  Next I added in a black and white candle, to represent the dark/light, God/Goddess, the complementary energies that make up the universe, however you would like to see it, to the center of the altar.  And I also added a candle in the center to represent the celebration, so something in the colors of the season, maybe blue, red or green.  In 2012 I chose to use my Circle of Friends Candle, as the center candle, lore says that whenever friends gather around a fire their friendship will be strengthened, so I thought that was appropriate.

That formed the center of our circle.  I added a small dish holding salt,  which represented the element of the earth...stability, birth and wisdom.  This was placed to the west, on our alter.  I had a chalice or cup of water.....which welcomed cleansing,  and healing into the circle.  This was placed in the south.  In the north we had incense, which was lit, representing air, it welcomed intellect and intelligence into our circle.  And to the East we had a small candle for fire...change and transformation.  We were grateful for all the elements and welcomed them openly into our circle.

I added some holly branches, as holly rules the winter and brings protection, to our altar, and then invited everyone to add their own personal additions.  These can be stones, jewelry, a book, etc.  Anything that would add a touch of *you* to the circle.  These additions sat on our altar throughout the circle and absorbed all the positive energy and love of the night.  Then returned home with the owner so that they could, at any moment, bring themselves a piece of that love and light, when they needed or wanted it.

Part of the 2012 altar

As we were creating the circle I sort of talked my way through it so that everyone knew why I had chosen each item on the altar, they could help if they liked or just sit and watch.  I also passed around the sage bundle so everyone could sage themselves or each other.  Just releasing any negative energy so that only positive vibrations, love and light entered the circle.
Our family altar for Winter Solstice 2013, we have not yet added our personal items, but I wanted a picture.


The Celebration

I started by talking about the winter solstice, briefly.  That year I said "We are here tonight with our sister friends to observe the winter solstice.  A celebration to lure the sun back and welcome its return.  We honor the darkness and mystery of life from which new creation emerges.  And we say thank you to all stages and seasons of our lives." I also recited a poem about the winter solstice.  You can find lots of those with an Internet search on "Winter Solstice Poetry".  Here are a couple of nice sites:
1.  Winter Solstice Poetry and Celtic Mid-Winter Poetry
2.  A Collection of Yule Poetry

We then opened the circle for anyone else to share, some shared poetry, thoughts about the season, songs, chants etc.  Not everyone shared and that was OK.

We followed this by lighting candles.  I had a white taper candle for everyone.  (just remember safety with candles).  I lit my candle from the center candle on our altar and then the next person in the circle lit their candle from my flame, and the flame was passed around the circle from woman to woman until every one's candle was lit,  welcoming the light, and sharing it with each other.  We then shared one or two things we were grateful for, or blessed by from the year passing, and one or two things we were looking forward to with the coming year.  Again not everyone shared and that was OK.

Since we were indoors we then extinguished our candles, and I found a nice guided meditation to close our circle. I like ended with a meditation as it added a way to bring us back to all focusing on the same thing, and being still and quite as we end the evening circle.  You can do an internet search for Yule meditation and you will find a few.  Or search for a guided meditation and you will find many that will appropriate for your gathering.   The Chopra Center has some on audio you may like, and you would not have to do the talking. The Buddha Net site has some that are written out that you may enjoy.  Or you can make up your own.

Once we ended with meditation we put the Yule Log on the fire and had a nice pot luck supper chatting, watching the fire and enjoying the evening together.

The 2012 Yule Log burning

That is the synopsis of our winter solstice circle.  It was very nice, lasted probably 1 1/2 hours, followed by eating and chatting. Feel free to use any part of this that appeals to you, or none of it.   This was simple, easy to prepare for in advance, we shared a lot during the circle,  and made our connection stronger.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Round Robin Afghans

Have you ever participated in a round robin project?  That is one where a group of people start a project, and this project is passed around from person to person, each adding their own touch.  I have participated in several, a quilting round robin, and an art journal type of round robin.  Well, I just participated in a crochet round robin.  It turned out amazingly beautiful!

I have a group of great friends, we all homeschool or have homeschooled in the past.  We get together for an art day, once a month, and after the art day winds down we hang out just talking, having snacks and tea.  The kids may watch a movie or play video games or just talk.  But most of us moms will bring a project to work on, generally knitting or crocheting, as that is just so portable.  One art day we were all sitting around the table drinking tea and working on our own projects, talking about yarn.  Somehow the conversation evolved and we were talking about extra yarn, our yarn stash and we created this project.  Had no idea how it would turn out but it sounded interesting.  Here is the project: there were 7 of us, and we each went home and started an afghan, crochet, to measure 36 inches long, each of us started with a base of 6 inches.  So our first stripe measured 36 inches by 6 inches.  We brought all of those back the next month at art day, where we switched afghans. The next person added another 6 inches to the project.  In the end each person gets the afghan they started back, and it measured 42 inches (6 inches X 7 people) X 36 inches.

Among the 7 of us there were different skill levels.  Some chose to use the same crochet stitch for all afghans, some chose a variety of stitches, all different colors.  Some asked the owner of the afghan what colors they preferred, some based the color choice around what was already added to the afghan.  It was just amazing, and it was so interesting to see what everyone was choosing, how it wove into the different afghans, and how each afghan turned out so different even though the same 7 people worked on them all.

This round robin took us about 8 months to complete.  Then we decided to top it all off with our own yarn crawl.  Two friends couldn't make the yarn crawl but the five of us that did make it, had a wonderful and exhausting day.  We started off stopping at O Suzannah's Yarn in Morganton, NC.  Very nice yarn shop, great atmosphere, areas to sit, lots of different weight yarn, and some wonderful yarns in vibrant colors.  I love small local yarn shops, just such a great variety of hand spun, hand dyed, yarns.  Yarns you can't find at places like A C Moore, or Michael's.
O Suzannah's Yarn in Morganton


Our second stop was in Black Mountain NC, and can I say the day was a little chilly but the view going up the mountain was, as always, beautiful.  The Black Mountain Yarn shop is very cute, they also have space to sit and knit.  Again, they also have yarn in such vibrant colors, and textures.  Great variety.  This store also had books, magazines and patterns, which I enjoy. It's nice to look through magazines and get ideas.  Very nice shop.
Black Mountain Yarn Shop


Third stop was on Wall Street in Asheville, NC.  We stopped for lunch first and then headed to the yarn shop.  Purl's yarn has a nice cozy area in the middle of the shop to sit.  I thought it was a bit crowded feeling and not as many vibrant hand dyed yarns.  They did have a selection of locally spun yarns, that was nice.  It was a little more difficult to see everything in this shop as it was a little cramped, but they did have a nice selection and some of the yarns were cheaper than other stores, for the same yarn.

Purl's Yarn in Asheville


Last stop was The Knitting Diva.  The address is still Asheville but it is almost in Weaverville.  Very nice shop, Great selection of different yarns, and they also sell some art.  I fell in love with a mermaid painting, just peaceful and beautiful!  They had some different yarns, different textures, eyelash types of yarns etc.

The Knitting Diva also in Asheville

9 hours of yarn.  It was overwhelming at times (so much beautiful yarn...so little time), it was so much fun just being out for the day with amazing friends, chatting, eating, looking at yarn, looking at our afghans.  Some of the shop owners were really excited for us, almost as excited as we were, they helped us match yarn, took pictures, and loved the idea of the round robin.

After returning home, before heading to bed, I took the time to look over the yarn I bought, feeling it, thinking about it, imagining how my afghan would turn out after I put a boarder around it.  I had to think about what color, what stitch I would use as my boarder.  I wanted it to be just perfect, like arms reaching around all the love of my friends and holding it close.  And I know each time I snuggle up under that special afghan, I will think of each of my friends, look at the piece each friend added, and just feel surrounded by such positive energy, holding me close.

My completed afghan!  So special!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marriage

OK have you seen the article floating around, about marriage.  OK I know there are lots of them.  But this one I have seen posted by my friends on facebook several times lately.  Here is the link:  Marriage is not for Me.   OK you should read it first, it is not what you think.  He explains that marriage is not for him, marriage is for the other person, his wife.

I wanted to share this on my blog because I disagree with parts of what he wrote.  Yes the sentiment is nice and oh so self-sacrificing.  

This is some of what I find isn't for me.  He writes that his dad says "You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy."   But I don't think you can "make" anyone happy.  Can you?  Is an emotion something you can force on someone else.  I don't believe anyone can *make* me happy.  I didn't marry my husband to make him happy (or I would have married the first person to come along) .

Also he writes:  "No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. "  I disagree with that as well.  I don't think it is just about the other person.  I think it IS about me too.  I am not a martyr.  My hopes, dreams, needs and wants are important as well.  And I know my husband cares just as much about my hopes and dreams (shared and individual) as I do his. And he cares about his own hopes, dreams, needs and wants as well.  I think it might be really boring if he never cared about his own goals, desires, passions, needs or wants.

For us it is about a relationship not  being a martyr.  It is as much about me as it is about him and our children.  We work together, we work individually.  We all have our desires, and we have an open, welcoming environment where we feel free to express those needs and wants, knowing they will be held with the greatest care.  And that each of us will do what is in our power to help bring those to reality.

I don't disagree that it is team work.  I do care about my husband, and what he wants.  And I do want to see his wants and needs met, his dreams work, his passions flourish.

The author does go on to say: "my side of the marriage had become all about me."  So I do get part of what he is trying to say.  That you can't be completely selfish.  I do agree with that.  That is true with any kind of mutual relationship.  Every one's wants, needs, desires, and passions must be considered and held high.  

So rather than hijacking a facebook status with my own thoughts and opinions, I decided to share here.  Take what you want, leave the rest, find something you agree, or disagree with, that is fine.  But there it is.  DH and I have been married for 20 happy years, so what we are doing is working beautifully for us.  


Friday, October 18, 2013

Circle of Friends


I have such a wonderful circle of friends.  They so enrich my life, in ways they probably don't realize.  A circle of women friends, women of all ages, in all stages of life, with such a diversity of backgrounds, histories, spiritual journeys.  It has been a wish of mine, for some time, to find ways to bring us closer, bond us together, connect on deeper levels.  Maybe this stems from losing my mother at such a vital age, when I seemed to need her so much, her insight, her wisdom.  I have two brothers and two sons, so really my women friends are the only real female connections in my life at this moment in time.

I wanted to create a circle ceremony.  A spiritual circle where we could talk, bond, come together with one specific idea/theme/or purpose in mind.  Not a set schedule but just periodically throughout the year.  When there was a need or desire to connect.

I had an idea of what I wanted to provide as a framework.  For a foundation so everyone could contribute their own gifts toward something good, something powerful, something nourishing to the soul.  I didn't want there to be a "leader".

I tried searching online and reading a few books, but really found nothing that fit.  Maybe some just aren't comfortable sharing how their own women's circles work, are created, or the foundation they use for sharing in this way.  Maybe I just wasn't searching in the right places.  But that has brought me here.  Over the next few weeks I hope to share what has worked for us.  The framework I created.  Feel free to use these with your own circle of women, change things around, add/delete, make it your own.  But for some this may be a great starting point.  Something to inspire you to bring your friendships to a deeper level, create community, build a village for this and future generations.  So be looking for that as I type it all out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Southeast Women's Herbal Conference


Another herbal conference has come and gone.  It was so beautiful up in Black Mountain this time of year.  Chilly in the morning but warming up so nicely, it was so lovely to sit in session soaking up all the wisdom, then move to the chairs by the lake and soak up all the warm sunshine!  I learn more and more each year as I deepen my own herbal practice.  This year was no different.  I will say that one of the highlights for me was listing to Susun Weed.  Just such a wise, caring, energetic spirit.  She seemed to really connect with the audience, no matter how large, and was truly engaging and caring.  Her knowledge just soaks into you without any effort.  She could talk on any subject with ease, interjecting just the perfect number of personal stories, songs, and tips.   She has an ability to just sense what the audience needs and reach down into your soul and leave that healing touch!  I want to hear more from her!!

I have listened to/watched youtube videos with Susun Weed, read her books, read her web site, poured over articles by Susun, but it doesn't begin to compare with the in person experience.  I see she will be at the Florida Herbal Conference in February 2014.  I encourage anyone able, to go listen to her in person, it will be a session you will not soon forget!

I can't wait for next year.  And for those eager to participate, I see the dates have been set!  October 10-12, 2014.  See you all in Black Mountain!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Scattered Life Collective

You can find more about the Scattered Life Collective at Cynthia's Blog, and please join in, I really enjoy seeing what everyone is doing, thinking, feeling at this moment.

My week in review and reflection:
Time:  6:39 pm
On the menu: Spaghetti squash with onion, kale and pesto!  SMELLS SO DELICIOUS!
Out the window: The sun is starting to go down on a gorgeous day, it wasn't real hot, there was a little breeze, just a nice day.

Reading:  The same books, haven't had a whole lot of time this week for reading, but I intend to rectify that and MAKE time for reading this coming week!  Right now I am reading Women Who Run with the Wolves, as well as Duma Key and Goddesses: Ancient Wisdom for Times of Change. 

Listening to:  Not a whole lot this week, a mix from my ipod, of course I love Randy Wood.  And his song "That's Why We Have Braids.'   Might give you a chuckle.


Watching:  OK we went to see the new Riddick 3 movie, and we are watching the newest season of Criminal Minds that just came out on netflix.  I am also re-watching the Merlin series, because it is just so "magical"
 LOVE IT!



Good things this week:
~I have a new craft space in the laundry room.  It isn't like it sounds, our laundry room is large, and it used to hold our exercise equipment.  We found a new home for the equipment so I now have two tables for myself, and a HUGE set of shelves to organize all my "stuff".  
~A rain free week.  Well almost, we did have a couple of down pours, but the left just as quickly as they arrived.  It is nice to see the sun for more than 5 minutes.
~A little bit cooler temperatures, I can feel fall coming on. 
~Feeling at ease with things.  
~Spending time with my boys, talking, and just connecting.

Looking forward to:
~Spending more time in my new space.  I am loving it already, but there is so much room to grow.
~Watching more Merlin
~Starting my Art Journal this week
~More elliptical, as walking is just aggravating my ankle

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Scattered Life Collective

Been having trouble blogging, just so many things rolling around in my head and in my life right now, hard to get it down in a blog post.  But this is just the jump start I need.  You can go to the Original Scattered Life Post to see others.

My week in review and reflection:
Current time: 8:44 am

On the menu:  I haven't even thought this far yet.  For breakfast probably a banana and a chai, supper will be out to eat with a wonderful friend..Can't Wait!  Love great conversation, laughing, and just having a freeform kind of evening.

Out the window:  I can see the sparkling grass as the sun hits the dew, just rising above the peak of the house.  Sunshine again, YAY!!  Seems like we have had so much rain lately that I love to look out in the morning and see SUN.  Another plus....no hens are out of the fencing!



Listening: Lately I have been listening to Natasha Bedingfield, especially Unwritten.  Just seems so pertinent right now.



Watching:  So right now my youngest, Phillip (16) and I are waiting for Insidious 2 to come out in theaters.  AND since we have not seen the first Insidious, that DVD is sitting by the TV waiting for us!!  Oh the joys of having a teen that loves scary movies. I loved horror types of movies as a teen but haven't really watched them in years, now that my youngest is enjoying horror movies I get to venture into that realm again!

Good things:  ~My weeks are always filled with good things.  So this week I really enjoyed spending time with friends at homeschool art day.  It seems like so many of my friends were there this month!
~Picking apples with dh, Jackson, and my oldest son, Dallen.
~Guacamole/movie night on Sunday.  Can't even remember what we watched but love the family time!
~Starting Guinevere in the Goddess course I am taking, this should be fun!
~Returning to my daily cuppa chai, can't beat that in the morning.
~More sunshine so far this week than all of the summer added together
~Out of my walking boot and my right ankle feeling OK
~Returning to yoga and meditation, two practices that I work on and leave and come back to over time.
~Letting go of unwanted hurt

Looking forward to:
~Seeing Insidious with my youngest son, Phillip
~Working on an art journal, new for me
~Delving deeper into my soulcollage card creating
~Returning to longer walks
~Seeing my round robin afghan when it is completed
~Organizing a "friends" yarn crawl to our favorite yarn shops around Western NC
~Daily talks with my oldest, Dallen, about his creations.
~Time with Jackson

"Your success and happiness lies in you.  Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." ~Helen Keller

Monday, August 12, 2013

Outdoor Altar

This is a project I started in just one day, simple, easy to start and will continue to evolve over the years.  It was inspired by the Goddess Course I am taking right now but I would highly encourage everyone to think more about using outdoor spaces.  I have an indoor altar, it is small, not as much space indoor for me to create an altar.  But outdoor there is so much space, and I love being outside in my gardens, rocking and knitting, having a cuppa tea.  This altar, although not in the shade is near one of my shaded gardens.  

For this project I used two plant pots and turned them over and just put a board across the top.  This particular board was from a tree that fell in our field.  Jackson harvested a good chunk that was not rotten, or termite eaten and cut it into rough boards, not for anything in particular but just because it was such a beautiful piece of wood, and smelled so wonderful!  That was it, that was how I started and that is how anyone can start.  We did have this old glass door in the garage, been in there for years, so I dusted it off.  I think it is missing at least one glass pane, but that is fine.  I am using the door to hand chimes and decorations as well as to put up pictures that I love.  My altar is under cover just a little bit so it will get some rain, but not a direct hit, I imagine I will have to change out pictures as they weather, or my mood changes, LOL.  I brought out some items I had inside to add to my altar, and I also have a fairy house on my altar, which I will probably move to the ground as I add items to my altar.  We will see how things work out.  The painting to the side is just something I doodled, it was an old cabinet door we had hanging around (have I mentioned I am married to a wanna be hoarder).  

My next purchase is a bench, just something small, I saw some concrete ones down the road, need to stop sometime.  And I also want to make a kneeling cushion.  I think this will be a great place to meditate in the mornings.  When I fractured my ankle back in....oh....2008 I think, my daily meditation practice went by the way side. I know, that was the perfect time to delve in deeper into practice as I was confined to the couch for a good deal of time.  But with all the commotion, surgery, etc, things like "how do I get to the kitchen to make us all some lunch" to precedence over meditation in the moment.  But I am back to daily meditation, it feels so good to be back there.  OK that is the topic for another post.  Here are pictures of my outdoor altar, if anyone decides to make one of their own please post pictures on your blog and let me know, I love looking at what other people create!!



Thursday, August 8, 2013

I can feel a shift coming!

You know those life moments when you can just feel a big shift coming?  Not the little decisions we make on a daily basis but the big shifts that just change us, who we are or how we see the world.  Yeah those shifts!  I can feel one coming my way.

A month ago I started a Goddess Course, I have taken one before and we studied three Goddesses and it was really wonderful, learned so much, and applied much to my daily life.   This Goddess Course started out working with the Mother Mary, as a Goddess, not with all the religious dogma attached, or maybe cutting through the religious dogma.  I just couldn't feel it, not on any deep or emotional level.  I couldn't relate to the Mother Mary, I wasn't taking anything in, I wasn't feeling her.  And that was OK for me.  I just assumed it was because of my Christian upbringing, we only really thought of Mary at Christmas, didn't really delve into all aspects of her life as an individual, but really only the mother of Christ.  But all this is OK, we all think, feel, and see things through our own lenses, our own experiences, and none of it is wrong or right, it is what it is.  I was content to work through this aspect of the course, listening to what others are feeling and letting my experience with Mary be what it was.

Yesterday afternoon I started thinking about my own mother.  One of those moments that come from time to time, when I REALLY miss her.  As of today, it has been 18 years 2 months 1 day since I was playing with my not yet one year old son on the floor of our apartment on the army base in Augsburg, Germany, in the early afternoon when my dad called and told me he thought my mom was killed in a car accident.  My world changed on that day.  And starting yesterday I cried and cried and am still crying this morning.  I just miss her so much right now and I am feeling sorry for myself.  It will pass, I know it will, it always does.  I used to call my mom and talk with her all the time, for hours.  She knew me from the beginning, knew every inch of me, knew me inside and out, and loved me so very unconditionally, as only a mother can.  I asked her advice on everything.  And since that point in time, when my dad called, I have had to do that for myself.  I no longer have a mother to comfort me, to be able to give me advice from her point of view, as someone who really knew me.  I have great friends, and I also have a great family, and I have had people, over the years, offer to share their mother, to be the person I could call for advice, and I know they love me and mean well, but it just is not the same.

I was never able to share the joys of being a mom with my mother, I never knew her on that level, I was never able to share the experience of buying our first house, of having our second son, or moving back to the states and deciding where to live, watching our boys grow up to such amazing young men.  I have not had her here to ask advice over the years, to share frustrations and losses.  I have not had her here to rub my back or play with my hair and tell me "everything is going to be OK", that "if a good thing is meant to be it will be there in the morning so take a minute and think about it", or :everything will turn out how it is supposed to be".  I miss those things.  When she spoke them I REALLY believed it, after all she knew from the start.

For 18 years 2 months 1 day, I have had to be there person for myself, tell myself that "everything is going to be OK", "to take a minute to think about things because if it was meant to be for me, it will be there in the morning."  I have had to really trust my own instincts on parenting, and relationships.  I have learned to lean on myself more.  I have really had to be my own parent, as best I can.

And now as I sit here crying even more and grieving the loss of my mother, and everything that I haven't had over the years, I think, maybe that is what Mary is trying to teach me.  Maybe it isn't all the religious baggage keeping me from really connecting with her, maybe it is losing my own mother that prevents that.  Maybe I have been my own mother so much over the years I am not ready for Mother Mary to comfort me.  Maybe in the future I will be able to feel her and connect with her on a deeper level.  Or maybe I am feeling her on that deeper level now.

Much to think about, and, as I said before, I know this moment will pass, I just need to sit with it for now and grieve all that I have lost out on.  All that my boys have lost out on. Let this big shift happen in my life, cause I can feel it, whatever it is bringing. It will make me stronger, it will make me a better parent, a better person and in the future, I know, it will happen again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kali and Yemaya

I took these photos for another purpose but thought it was a great opportunity to share them with all of you.  Several months ago I participated in a Goddess seminar series.  It was a wonderful, in depth look at three goddesses and I really loved this time working with them, researching them, learning from them, learning all the good things they had to share.

After working with two of the Goddesses I decided to make a necklace that represents each, and I wear the necklace when I feel I need that particular energy in my life at that moment, just a reminder of all the Goddess has to offer, and the ways in which she can work for and with me.  This is the necklace honoring Kali, Goddess of destruction (among other things).



And this is the necklace I created to honor Yemaya, Goddess of beginnings, and rebirth.



I really enjoyed the process of making these necklaces.  I had thought about it for quite a while before I even went searching for beads.  Just mulling the idea over in my head, and my heart, figuring out what they would look like, what they would feel like.  When I made my trip(s) to the bead store in Morganton, Beads and Other Fancy Stuff, I really had an idea in mind but was also open to letting the beads speak.  Just feeling them and sitting with the colors and feelings for a while.  I actually made several trips and I would leave saying that "I will know when I find the right beads" and of course the women there always agreed with me, the right beads would just be there and make themselves known when the time was right.  I picked up the beads for the Yemaya necklace a few here and there over time.  And found the Kali ones all at once, they just jumped out.  Sounds just like Kali to me.  I still hadn't found the center beads yet, but knew they would come.  Then one day I noticed a glass case that was sitting kind of low, about knee height, under the cash register and other displays. I had never even noticed this display before as there is so much on top, it really obstructs your line of sight, but this shine of silver caught my eye and I just knew those were my beads calling.  When they were brought out of the display case I could tell they were just what I wanted.  You could feel their wonderful Goddess energy from the start.  When I turned over the card they were actually named Kali and the Mermaid.  So they were there calling to me!  How wonderful is that.  I knew the right beads would present themselves at just the right time.  And here they are, in all their beauty!

There is another Goddess series coming up starting July 8. If you are at all interested I think last minute registration is still open!  Join me, I will be there!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sun Rise

Just a couple of pics of the sunrise after the winter solstice.  Then I promise, back to the present moment.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Yule/Winter Solstice Celebration

I know this is wayyyy past date, but it was such a wonderful circle I wanted to post about it.  This was the very first time I have ever shared a circle with my friends, and been sort of leading the circle.  My oracle card for the day was to share my gifts with family and friends, so how appropriate, a gentle nudge to spread out, and share.

We have family circles all the time, but never one with friends.  This year a friend planned a party on the winter solstice so I asked if we could bring our celebration with us and share, for those interested.  My boys did not participate this year, they were with their friends having fun. That was a little sad, but I realize that time with friends doing things you love is such a happy time.  Many of my friends participated.  We had a circle, created a sacred space, had candles, and each person brought something close to them to add to our altar and bless the space.  We shared poems, readings, thoughts for the upcoming year, lit candles and had a nice time sharing and being together.

We did decorate and burn a yule log, so that was wonderful. It just turned out so beautiful, and burned so brightly!  Here are a few pictures from our evening.




I am so grateful to have such amazing, open, sharing friends.  And I hope we can share more circles in the future!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gratitude

I am having a hard time being completely joyful this morning.  After the Boston Marathon bombing, yes I was sad for those that were experiencing loss.  I know what it is like to experience loss, but can only imagine experiencing it that tragically, and in the public eye as well.  And don't get me wrong I am happy that the final suspect is in custody, I think the Boston PD and everyone else involved did an amazing job.

BUT I am not resting peacefully and I need to work today to find that place again.  My dh was glued to the TV yesterday from the time he arrived home from work.  I couldn't watch it.  I tuned in for a few minutes twice yesterday to catch updates on what was going on.  But I couldn't watch it over and over and over again.  I just kept thinking that this boy was my oldest sons age.  Actually just a little older as my oldest will be 19 in July.  I kept thinking how scared he must be, how sad he must be at the loss of his brother, how alone he must feel without family around.

I don't know why he did what he did, or anything really about this boy, but he is my sons age.  And someone, somewhere loves him.

So I am grateful this day that my boys are home, safe, and sleeping in their own beds. Grateful I am here to love them and care for them, and that they feel that love every day.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Foggy Morning

I took these pictures earlier in January, it was such a sunny morning and the fog was thick!  It looked beautiful and creepy at the same time.  I love these kind of mornings, although I do enjoy when the fog burns off and we have a wonderfully sunny, nice, work-in-the-garden type of day.  I see these mornings more frequently now than a few years ago.  When the puppies arrived, back a few years, I had to switch my sleeping, and became an early riser.  And am still an early riser, LOL.  So seeing these types of mornings when everything is quiet and still outside is a side of the day that still amazes me.




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Popcorn Afghan Pattern



I made this small Afghan at Christmas for a friend's mother. She is in a care facility and I know it can get chilly this time of year.  It's not really a popcorn stitch but it kind of looked like popcorn. It is a really easy pattern for the base of it, and I will probably be using it again.  I used the LARGEST circular needle I have and I think I could have used an even larger one and been fine. So pick out the largest circular needle you have.  I doubled my yard, so it took 2 of the one pound skeins of Red Heart yarn.  I cast on 75 stitches, using both skeins and double yarn, but I think next time I will make it larger and use probably 125 stitches.  Then you knit one, purl one all the way across for the first row.  Then you knit one, purl one for row 2.  EVERY ROW IS THE SAME. Can't beat that.  So however many stitches you decide to cast on just make it an odd number and you are all set.  Here is a closer look:



The pattern is very striking up close.  For the edging I changed color, and decided to crochet some.  So I did a reverse crochet around the edge to give it a little texture, that is the stitch that almost looks like rope.  I crocheted three reverse crochet stitches in each corner.  Then I did just a row of single crochet, again three stitches in each corner so the corners turn right and don't curl up.  Then to finish it off I did a shell stitch, 5 double crochets in one stitch, then skip 2 stitches, then 5 double crochets in one stitch, skip 2 stitches etc.  For the corners I just kind of played with each corner to make it lay flat, skipping only one stitch on each side of the corner shell or added a few extra double crochets to the corner shell, or you can see in the first picture I put two shells close together, until it was flat and looked like a nice corner.

Easy, and fun, and fast, and pretty!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

November

OK I am up to November with my pictures now.  This picture is of my son Dallen.  Two major events for him this year, as he turned 18.  He signed up for Selective Service and he registered to vote.  Amazing how fast they grow up!  And even more fantastic is that it is a presidential election!  How cool is that.  He is such a conscientious, thoughtful citizen.  He looked up the sample ballot for our county online then he and I looked up every single candidate, in every single race and read about each and every one.  He and I both had printed out the sample ballot so we could check the people we each wanted to vote for, and take that in with us.  It even brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy, to watch him cast his ballot.  Here in Burke County NC it is all computerized, so it was easy.  We voted early so it was in and out.  Waited in line maybe 15 seconds.  And he was so proud to be voting.

(Dallen after voting in his first election)


In stark contrast I was at the Driver's License Office today and heard a young woman next to me, she was renewing her driver's license.  The man behind the desk asked her if she was registered to vote, she said no. He asked her if she wanted to register to vote, she again said no.  Sigh.  I have to believe that people know what is best for themselves.  So maybe it is a good thing she isn't voting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snow Boarding and Accomplishments

This is, I believe, the third year the boys have been snow boarding, and this year they are really seeing their efforts pay off. This is really one of the only sports that they have both taken an interest in, worked on and kept up.  I have seen progress over time, but sometimes I don't think they see the progress.  It looks so easy when you see someone glide down the slopes doing tricks, turning around, coming to an award winning (by my standard) stop, spraying snow up in an arching wave you could surf on.  It just looks so effortless.  And I can totally understand the bit of discouragement as it isn't so easy just starting out.  But they have really stuck with it, no pressure at all from me or their dad, but out of a desire to get better.  And today I could revel in their joy as they really saw the progress they have made.  Turns are easier, getting better every time we make that trip up the mountain.  They were just so...so....happy, and I love watching them feel so confident, and proud of themselves.

These are some of the moments that add to the richness of my life.  It also reinforces my belief that I don't need to "push" my children into anything, or to finish anything.  That when they find something interesting, by their own definition, their own inner voice will drive them on.  Their on self motivation is more than enough.  Their hard work is meaningful to them, and their progress joy-filled.  Something we can all celebrate with them.  What a wonderful self directed, passionate life.

Sorry no pictures today, too busy watching my wonderful, joyful  boys glide down the mountain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Halloween

OK I am trying to catch up on my blogging, many pictures, saved over time.  So now I want to blog just a minute about one of my most favorite days of the year.  A celebration of friends.  Our dear friends have a Halloween party and we go, have fun, laugh (lots) and just enjoy each other's company, everyone, all ages, coming and going, great food, even better friends.

Dallen went as a zombie of sorts this year, Phil was some character from Minecraft, I am not sure what he just tells me the idea and I help make it happen.  Jackson was an alien.  Me, I go as an exhausted, mom, celebrating the joy of her boys.





Monday, January 21, 2013

Southeast Women's Herbal Conference

OMG, what a weekend.  I loved this conference even more.  It was kind of an eye opener.  I think I mentioned last year that years ago, when my boys were younger, I was reading about herbs and making some of my own tinctures and oils.  I put that all away as they got older because we are homeschooling, and contrary to the name, we do NOT stay home, LOL.  Just too busy, and my herbs took the back burner.  Last year really inspired me to get my herbs back out and I am so thankful to my good friend, Teri, for encouraging me to go last year.  Well since last year I have been making my own tinctures, oils, infusions, salves and the like. Just so much fun and really learning about the different herbs as I go and add to my knowledge base.  

(That's my friend Nancy in the picture....Hi Nancy!)

The few months prior to this year's conference I have been focusing more on herbs that can be found locally.  Which is amazing to me, how much is out there in my own back yard.  Attending the conference this year was an eye opener of a different sort.  Last year I kind of stayed in the basic classes, my friend was a moderator in that room, and I stayed there, learned a lot, was inspired, met some wonderful people.  Well I thought I would do the same thing this year.  So I started off in a basic class.  And quickly realized that I already knew what they were talking about.  It was still a great class but...well...basic.  So the next session I ventured into the advanced class, outside the door was a sign that said everyone was welcome but it was expected that you already have a basic understanding of herbalism and/or a background in medicine.  UH OH!  OK so I felt I had a basic knowledge of herbalism, but was my knowledge TOO basic, LOL.  And I was a nurse, but that was many moons ago.  

I decided to try it out anyway, just sit in the back and if it was way over my head, I could scoot out the back door without even being noticed.  I soon realized that this WAS the place for me.  I learned so much and really could sit and listen to Dr Joey Noe all day.  She is absolutely wonderful, knowledgeable  and a great teacher.  I sure hope they have her back again next year.  I stayed in the advanced track for the rest of the conference, and it was great.  It is amazing, I have always thought of myself as a beginner, still learning the basics.  

I am planning on attending again next year!  Maybe I will get my nerve up to go into the red tent.  LOL.  It is such a step for an introvert like myself.  I did watch the Red Tent movie, which was wonderful, and I highly recommend.  I am excited to see that Susun Weed will be speaking next year.  I think I have seen all the youtube videos that mention Susun Weed, as well as subscribe to her channel, and read her web site. I have been drinking nourishing herbal infusions for the past year and feeling great.  

Anyway that was my experience at the herbal conference, I encourage anyone interested in herbs, to attend. The registration page isn't up yet, but I see that the scholarship and work exchange info is up.  I will be there so look for me!