For Alan Day

A beloved community member passed away from this Earth yesterday, at the dark of the moon. Alan was a loving, magickal, fey, joyful, musical and fun person. He had also been through the depths of depression and emerged from that dark Underworld with much wisdom. He touched the lives of those of us who were blessed to know him, no matter how well or how fleetingly. His eyes literally sparkled with benevolent mischief and faerie dust. He facilitated creativity, healing, and community-building all around him. His twin teenage daughters carry the light of his energy and spirit. His family, friends and acquaintances will continue to work and play in his footsteps. Thank you, Alan. I know you’re now in a place where you can freely dance and drum, create and delight, and continue learning. Enjoy your new adventures! Blessed Be.

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

– spoken by Merlyn the Magician in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King

Wintry Darkness

It’s the dark of the moon tonight, and supposedly a wintry mix of weather besides. Today’s rain was expected to turn to snow. Our homeschool group, the Maine Wholeschoolers, was supposed to do our Midyear Review tonight. We canceled so folks wouldn’t have to drive in the snow, but this next phase of the storm hasn’t materialized yet.

For the review, Crow created and edited some awesome videos, using a stuffed ground squirrel as the main character and a bowl of nuts for him to purse. Our cat Mystick also plays a supporting role in one of them; too cute! ElvenTiger is going to perform a song she wrote, and also do a choreographed song and dance with a friend. We’ve rescheduled it, so they’ll still get a chance to share their creations.

Meanwhile, we’re having a quiet night at home instead. Quester made curry for dinner, and the kids and I have a batch of vegan carob chip cookies in the oven. I’m blogging, Quester is reading, Crow is playing with Star, ElvenTiger is chatting to me as I type, and the cats are lounging (of course!). I have a good book going, about Mary, Queen of Scots, and I’ll probably curl up and read, while Quester reads to the kids. All in all, a mellow evening!

Winter’s not so bad…

In the Raw

I’ve been looking into the benefits of eating a diet composed (in part or in full) of raw foods. My assumption was that this meant eating a lot of salads, carrot sticks and fruit. Yes, you do eat those things, but I was surprised and pleased to find that there are tons of delicious-sounding recipes and ideas available (links below if you’re interested).

Some friends and I are planning to start by going 50 percent raw. I think that’ll be easy – smoothies for breakfast and salad for lunch, along with trying some recipes and adding those to the warm vegan foods I enjoy for dinner. Quester pointed out that we already have a food dehydrator, given to us by his sister several years ago and stashed in the closet because we had no use for it at the time. With our plans for starting a vegetable garden this year, I’m looking forward to exploring a new way of nourishing myself.

It’s as if, unbeknownst to me, when I became a vegetarian nearly 15 years ago I stepped onto a continuum of food choices that lead to better and better health. At age 38, I feel healthier than ever before, I rarely get sick (knocking on wood) and I’m finally satisfied with my weight (a big deal for most women in this culture). And I didn’t do it by depriving myself of anything; healthy foods are delicious and succulent and full of exciting flavors. What more could I ask for?

Here are some links I’ve been exploring:

The Master Cleanse & Raw Food Site: My reading about the Master Cleanse (I am on day 10 today by the way) was what got me inspired to look into raw foods recently.

The Raw Food Coach: How to get started with raw foods.

Living and Raw Foods: Great recipes.

Gone Raw: Food forum with lots of reader recipes.

The Garden Diet: The website of a cool family with testimonials and a description of their diet and lifestyle.

Enthused by a Book

I just started reading an amazing and life-changing book: The Four-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris. I’m only three chapters into it, and already it’s helping me change my view on a lot of things. As goal 2 on my list of goals for this year indicates, I’m changing “what I do for a living” this year. Yet I would recommend this book even if you’re not considering that type of change. The author’s discussion of fears and why we choose inaction are mind-blowing. If you’ve ever put off a dream because you’re afraid of failure or the unknown, the questions in this book will give you a whole new perspective.

We are so often brainwashed by the culture around us; we think we “can’t” live our dreams if we don’t have the guarantee of earning a certain amount of money. That’s why I didn’t just become a writer in the first place! That was what I always wanted to do. I was taught, and I believed, that “no one can make a living through writing.” That is so obviously false that it now seems absurd to me. We create our own existence. If you try to be a writer while clinging to the belief that it won’t work financially, you’ll create that experience. If you instead change your beliefs and outlook, anything is possible! And even if you try it and it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped, at least you have done something new, experienced new things. There are *always* options. We create our own success, and even more importantly, our own definitions of success. Check it out.

Buzzing About Bees

As part of my plan to be at home more, I want to build beehives and work with a colony or two of honeybees. My primary motive is not to share their honey and beeswax, though I will be honored to do so, but to get to know the energy and spirit of these fascinating beings.

I used to be terrified of bees, or any flying stinging insect. At Girl Scout Camp when I was fairly young, I stepped on a nest of ground bees while returning from a hike, and ended up rolling down the hill, being stung all over by angry bees. It was a sleepover camp, so I didn’t have the comfort of Mom to soothe me. Being rather shy and sensitive, I took the basic medical treatment that was offered, and suffered the emotional effects on my own. That experience combined with a close run-in with yellow-jackets earlier in life left me fleeing from bees whenever one approached the area I was in.

My friend Luke is a natural friend to bees. He taught me to overcome my fear and panic at the sight of one. He showed me how to calmly and gently tell the bee “there are flowers over there,” and point to the nearest flowering plants. I was fascinated that they almost always understood this message, reading the energy that we sent along with our words.

Several years ago, I had a series of synchronicities about bees, which included finding individual bees lying on the ground on several walks. The 5 of swords in the Motherpeace Tarot deck, which I was using at the time, has a picture of a bee, symbolizing the negativity we associate with a “sting,” “hex” or “curse.” I worked to assimilate the lessons of that card, which at the time meant learning to maintain my equanimity without feeling defeated by every small “failure.” In the process, I realized that bees could be positive messengers, bringing me the reminder to be mindful and release my expectations.

The depiction of bees and beekeepers in Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing has also intrigued me since I first read it. I re-read the book last year, and was again captivated by the magick shared between the bees and the priestesses. Now that I won’t be working outside the home full-time (not to mention commuting) I’ll have time to explore this ancient relationship myself.

LM, BlackLion and I took a 2-hour beekeeping seminar last week. They are going to follow up with a session of bee classes, and I plan to purchase the book and read their notes (my current work schedule means I can’t attend the classes with them). Perhaps as soon as this spring, I’ll be welcoming bees to the homestead.

Blessed Bees!

A Birthday Tribute

Today is the day to celebrate ElvenTiger (that is her chosen magickal name, not what she goes by every day). My youngest child turns 9 years old! On the day she was born, we had a Nor’Easter snowstorm – and today, just as she’d predicted, we woke up to a very similar storm! She told me that because it snowed when she was born, having a snowstorm today means good luck for her and her loved ones. Sounds wonderful to me!

ElvenTiger is a beautiful and creative and fun young woman. She has blue eyes, red-blond hair which she is growing out, and is rather petite. She is kind, sweet, funny and quick to smile. She is determined, sometimes fiercely, and knows what she likes and doesn’t like (well, she is a Capricorn, with Sagittarius moon and Gemini rising). Most of the time she is calm and even-tempered, though she can get fiery when she’s upset; usually the catalyst is her brother, Crow.

Her interests include cooking, faeries, knitting, drawing, soccer, and music. She loves to sing, dance, and make up her own lyrics. She likes being read to, mostly fantasy stories and ones with talking animals. She loves cats and jewelry. ElvenTiger has several close friends of varying ages, kids and adults. She loves to hang out with her Grammy, and is also developing a magickal connection with Raven, who is also a Capricorn and a pagan. ElvenTiger is homeschooled, and is learning reading, math and many other things at her own pace, on her own timetable.

For her birthday celebration yesterday, we went ice skating at an indoor rink with friends. ElvenTiger skated around with her two close girlfriends. They had fun despite some falling. Then we went back home and had cake and ice cream. Grammy made her an awesome snowman cake! Then she unwrapped presents; she got lots of lovely gifts. The kids ran around and played and worked off all the sugar.

Today, her actual birthday, we are having a dinner and dessert of her choice: curried vegetables and rice, and whooppee pie cake. All of it is vegan, by the way. Then she’ll pick a game or two for us to play. A nice plan for a quiet snowy evening.

I’m so thankful for my sweet daughter ElvenTiger!!!

New Year, New Energy

I’ve noticed the shift of energy with the new calendar year (welcome, 2008!). It’s taking me a while to adjust to it, but now I seem to be settling into the groove.

While I don’t do “resolutions” per se, I do have some big and exciting goals that I’m focusing on this year. Here’s my list:

1. Writing! I will be a published co-author of at least two books this year. They are a vegan pagan cookbook, and “The Book of Ing.” I’ll also continue to write articles and personal journal entries, and of course websites. I’ll have more time to devote to it, thanks to:

2. Career change! Quester and I are going to trade roles this year. I’ll be the primary at-home parent, and he’ll be the primary breadwinner. I’m looking forward to unschooling with the kids, and doing my writing from home on my own schedule. BlackLion’s new schedule will allow us to have more time to write together, too.

3. Heart resonance. I’m reading a wonderful book that’s changing and inspiring my emotional life. (It’s called The HeartMath Solution, by Doc Childre and Howard Martin, and I very highly recommend it). I’m practicing the exercises, and integrating them so that I can access my heart’s wisdom all the time.

4. Healthy eating. I’m not a strict vegan, and during the holidays my standards tend to slip, as I share meals with non-vegans/non-vegetarians and indulge in sweets more often. The dairy and eggs sort of creep in there. Now I’m back to my usual vegan diet, and am cutting back on the sugars too.

5. Yoga. For some reason, 2007 wasn’t the year for me to do much yoga (after the previous two years, where I did it very regularly). I feel good when I do my yoga. So why wouldn’t I do it more? I will!

Holiday Greetings and a Quote

Holiday greetings to all! I’ve been away from the online world, mostly because my computer has been out of commission, but also because of the busy time with holiday preparations.

I’m very thankful for all the people in my life, and for all their love and caring. I’m thankful for the blessings of abundance that surround me. Thank you Universe!

We had a wonderful Winter Solstice ritual and celebration on Friday night with a small festive group of family and friends. The ritual was fun, and the feast was delicious. We didn’t have as many guests as we’ve had other years, and I enjoyed having a mellow gathering. Only four of us stayed up to keep the vigil; this was the first year that ElvenTiger has made it all night! We played games and ate candy and hung out by the fire.

Our Christmas celebration was also a lot of fun. We gathered at Mom’s on Christmas Eve for a yummy supper and to watch a movie. I also got to bond with her new kitten a bit. Then, on Christmas morning, we opened gifts at my house, had Christmas dinner and played with the new games and toys. The celebration continued into the evening, as Raven and BlackLion joined us to open gifts, have some munchies and play a game.

Then I took a shower and collapsed into bed. I tend to get caught up in doing too much to get ready for the winter holidays. While I wasn’t stressed out this year, I do feel tired, like I did too much and wore myself out a bit. I want to take some time to just relax and restore, and not have to accomplish anything.

Here’s a quote I found today that spoke to me of the importance of being present where and when you are:

“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”
– Maria Edgeworth

From Holiday Frenzy to Holiday Fun

Over the years, I’ve been gradually figuring out how to not only survive the holidays, but to thrive throughout the season. I’m lucky to have a Mom who loves this season, and so my holiday spirit is strong. Yet preparing for the holidays has certainly become a lot of work over the years, especially after having kids. We celebrate both Winter Solstice and Christmas, so we have multiple gatherings to prepare for and host.

Six or seven years ago, when the kids were small, it got really overwhelming and stressful, and I had to rethink the things I chose to do around the holidays. I want to cook and make cards and gifts and buy presents and decorate the house and all of that, but for the right reasons. I want to have fun, and put positive energy into what I’m doing, not be freaking out because there’s not enough time to “do it all.” As the saying goes, it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.

Ever since then, I’ve been gradually refining how I craft my experience of the winter holidays. First, I acknowledge that December is a busy time, and don’t try to do too much. I recognize that the preparation for the holidays is my creative project for the month, and try not to add others. Second, I make sure that I take time to have fun and relax. Some of my holiday preparations are relaxing, like making collage cards for my immediate family. I enjoy thinking of each individual as I work, creating a card that reflects their interests and personality. I also take time to read, which is my way of recharging. Third, I go easy on myself. I’m learning not to be so quick to judge myself when I don’t do a “good enough” job, or I eat sugar or don’t find time to exercise. Especially at this time of year, I “go with the flow” more and try to be in the moment, no matter what I’m doing.

If I do get overwhelmed or find myself getting stressed out, I have tools to release myself from those states of being. The major one is skillful use of lists. Having a long “to do” list can in itself be stressful, but if you prioritize the list and note when you’re going to work on each item, you can see the big picture and know that everything will get done. Next is asking for help. Especially now that the kids are older, they’re a big help with things like cooking and wrapping gifts. Not only that, it’s fun to do together! Putting on some Christmas music also keeps me in a cheerful mood, and reminds me of the fun of the season.

And finally, after preparing busily for events like the annual Winter Solstice ritual and celebration, or our family’s Christmas Day get-together, I consciously relax and enjoy myself. Spending time with friends and family is an essential part of the holiday season, and I look forward to those times, even as I enjoy curling up in a quiet moment to create unique gifts for them.