Thursday, September 29, 2016

Finding Joy

A very wise person that I know has a birthday soon. They've asked that instead of sending presents or random messages on Facebook that people instead take a selfie of themselves enjoying something that brings them joy. He's not the first to ask this - another wonderful person I know asked that for his birthday people post ice cream selfies (I am very sure that'll be a trending hashtag one of these days given how many people he knows) and it spread like wildfire.

The birthday is this weekend, and I'm excited for it - I'll be spending the weekend with my beloved doing I don't even know what, but whatever it is we'll be relaxing. Maybe the selfie will be me with my Kindle as I finish the next book in a series I'm reading. Maybe it will be me and my knitting. Maybe it'll just be the two of us and some nice glasses of wine. I don't know, but I do know that exercises like this are so very valuable.

See, things like this remind you to do something very important. They make you take stock of the things that bring you joy. When someone asks you to take a picture of yourself engaging in an activity that brings you joy, you start thinking about what'll be in that picture. How you'll take it. What project you'll be working on. And that starts you down the road of listing the things that bring you joy. The people, the places, the experiences, the hobbies.

And you know what? You end up with a pretty long list of things that bring you joy. And you smile thinking about those things.

And then the world isn't quite so bleak.

So here's my wish for you. Do it. Saturday, post a picture of yourself with something, someone, somewhere that brings you joy. (nothing crude or obscene everyone. Please. Keep it clean and happy.) But post it on Facebook and tag it #joy

OK? If not for me, for a really cool guy who's an inspiration for many and really does just want everyone to be happy.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Year Ago...

A year ago I was climbing a small mountain in Ireland, looking at the mist and dew with tears in my eyes and a pain in my heart that has lessened but not gone.

A year ago I stood in a place that spoke to the oldest parts of my soul and listened to the songs there.

A year ago I touched stones that tell stories to those who will listen, and I listened.

It's very fitting that it's so rainy this morning. The rain falls here and on Loughcrew. It obscures the rising sun here the way it does there. The similarities are beautiful and a lovely reminder of our connectedness.

You remember what it's like when you're new, right? The high holy days and the drive to have everything *just so* and the wrench in your gut when you don't quite hit the mark? Maybe you flubbed a line, maybe the bread didn't rise correctly, maybe the bonfire wasn't quite big enough... the complete and total devotion you give over to celebrating, to reminding those you can remind that your holy days are not their holy days, and all the to do that comes along with it. It's fun when you're new. It's your new path and like anything shiny and new you show it to everyone, give it the very best spot on your nightstand, carry it with you everywhere, and never let anyone forget it. 

When you've been at this for almost two decades though, the newness wears thin and you're left with the blunt reality of the path. It's never going to go just so all the time. There will always be a fly in the wine. There will always be a part of the bonfire that doesn't want to light. 

The Autumn Equinox has become a very important holy day for me. It didn't used to be, and honestly wasn't something I celebrated heavily when I was shiny and new. Lugnasad? You betcha! Samhain? OF COURSE!!! But the Equinox? I observed the day, but didn't celebrate it. I wouldn't bake for it, and I certainly didn't hold a Rite for it. I sought my transition days on the BIG ONES, not the little days. 

Wanna know a secret? The little ones are the best ones. Go outside and look around. Now remember that quote from the movie Troy: "Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again." It's true. I've spent a good deal of the last year learning to understand how I go through the grieving process and this quote has come to my mind a few times.

Why wasn't I celebrating the little ones? Why wasn't I honoring the moon each month in my own way? Why wasn't I celebrating EVERY DAY as the gift that it is? Each day is blessed. Each day can show us the turn of the Wheel. I bake because it's Friday, or because a loved one is coming over, or because I can. 

Be lovely. Celebrate the little days. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Big Weather

Big weather. It's a term I first heard when I lived near St. Louis and let me tell you, it's accurate. Big weather is exactly what you think it is - storms, winds, rains, lightening and thunder and skies in shades of color no sky you've ever seen has ever been.

Big weather devastates as often as it creates. I've been lucky enough to experience many kinds - I've seen a tornado form and touch down less than half a mile from me. I've stood in the rain of a tropical storm to make sure everyone got inside safely. I've helped hold down a tent at a campsite as a derecho hit us full force. I have been in a commercial plane as we flew a longer path around a thunderstorm super cell - watching the lightening inside the cloud was amazing.

Standing in the face of that sort of power is intoxicating. There is a healthy amount of fear of these events - big weather has killed after all - but with that fear comes the realization of how much we can learn from it all.

There are many, many spells that can be worked with storms. My favorite? Baking. Mixing and kneading and creating foods during the height of the storm really connects me with the power of nature around me. The resulting breads and pastries are imbued with that connection and these are foods that I don't share lightly.

I've made Storm Water before - it's simply water collected during a storm - and it's very useful for washing stones to charge them, blessing candles before a rite, or simply having in a shallow dish on your altar. It's not for drinking or baking/cooking with or for bathing in, it's not that kind of water. I have simmered it on the stove in a pan I have specifically for aromatics, adding herbs to achieve the scent I want in the room, but that's not for consumption.

This weekend there will be a LOT of big weather throughout the eastern coast, and I plan to use that energy wisely. I'll be cleaning, making space in the house for the new energy to come in, and baking of course.