Come Up and See Me…Make me Smile

I just finished loading up the car (with my husband’s help) with my little purple canopy, velvety drapes, cushions, my little tarot table, my traveling tarot pack, and my favorite water bottle.  I don’t know how on earth I’m going to unpack it much less set it all up. My fumbling about will probably be comical to watch. I’m very aware at this moment that tomorrow will be a real test on my back.

I’ll be spending the day at PaganFaire at the Washington County Fairgrounds (just outside of Portland) and I will be there doing tarot readings ALL DAY.

If you are in the area please stop by and say hi (whether you get a reading or not)! I’ll be the little purple booth with little twinkle lights and a big yellow sign that says “Tarot” so you can’t miss me. Also, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the organization putting on this festival.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

 

Salty Magick & Elven Speak

Here I sit at the dining room table in the midst of lovely chaos. The t.v. is turned up way too loud, the washer and dryer are both running simultaneously nearby, the kids are tossing a balloon back and forth, giggling while trying to keep it airborne (in some strange, made-up game only they know the rules to), my husband is animatedly discussing football plays with fellow coaches and all the while I am sipping on lavender chamomile tea wondering how on earth I’m going to get my lines memorized for the upcoming ritual I agreed to be a part of.

I’m in the thick of things because I became lonely after having shut myself in a quiet room, far removed from the action which (interestingly enough) proved to be no less distracting than the present moment. I’ve lit a candle to help remind me of the task at hand and, for some reason, I have found that if I sit facing towards said chaos that I am more able to focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve taken over the entire circumference of the dining table with my ritual notes from last night’s rehearsal, some files and a binder, along with my cellphone and laptop; not to mention way too many pens in varying shades of purple.

I kind of feel like the Queen Bee of the dining room, looking out over the workings of a household gone mad while I ramble on about the defining qualities of a sturdy potato chip interspersed with seemingly random words of an obscure and unique language.

“Rrrrruffles have rrridges…Rrrrruffles have rrridges…Rrrrruffles have rrridges…formenel…dorhiron……ennorath..…”

This strange babbling initially drew attention from the others but they’ve since moved on to more interesting things and have pretty much left me alone ever since.

I’m not completely bonkers (although I’m sure there are many that would be eager to challenge me on that), I’m simply supposed to learn how to speak a little bit of Elvish and I’m trying to practice rolling my r’s eloquently. Out of frustration I was about to call it quits when my eyes landed on a half-empty bag of Ruffles potato chips laying the kitchen counter flanked by empty bottles of hefeweizen (the by-products of having several football coaches in my house). I don’t know how I know this, maybe I saw it in a movie once, but “Rrrruffles have rrridges” was a way to practice those rolling r’s.

As most things of this nature, it all began innocently enough when I was asked to call the North at a Wiccan ritual that will be open to the public for this upcoming Spring Equinox.

I thought, oooh, I haven’t called a direction in a public ritual for quite a while, and I most certainly haven’t called North since…well…ever!! A picture immediately flashed in my mind…It would feel amazing to raise my arms to the sky as I invoked the Northern Watchtower, speaking freely from my heart and hopefully stirring the souls of those who heard my words as we welcomed in the grounding Earth energies; I could almost feel the winter North wind whipping my hair around wildly as leaves twirled and spiraled upward. Ah, the magick! But, I’m a practical witch, and a realist to boot, so I reigned in my imagination a bit (plus I already knew it was going to be indoors so the wild wind whipping my hair around was probably out).

I quickly answered with an enthusiastic “yes!” anyway, before learning little details like my invoking the Watcher of the Northern Tower would be done in both Elvish and English.

I never paid a lot of attention to Elvish unless it involved Legolas. Is that bad of me?

So I will learn my lines like the good Witch I aspire to be and not just because I care for, admire, and deeply respect the women who have worked so hard to create this ritual. I believe in the work we do and that public ritual can help create change for the better. I’m excited see how the community receives this well written ritual. It’s an interesting blend of The Blessed Realm and Goddess creation myths from around this world with some other interesting tidbits added. That’s the beauty of eclecticism.

Public rituals are unlike most of my solitary rituals where I can fly by the seat of my pants until it comes to the actual spellwork. On the contrary they are organized, well-planned events with a basic structure necessary in order to have a successful outcome that promotes religious tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness. A ritual for a large gathering of people in a shared public space needs to have that organization or it will quickly lose focus, scatter intentions, cause disinterest, or worst case scenario lead to friction and/or fear. I know from experience that there will already be enough of that from well meaning bible-thumpers trying to save our naughty souls from eternal damnation.

The beauty of individual self-expression lies within the center of Paganism and is vital to Spiritual Awareness and growth. It’s often found in drumming and meditation circles, solitary work, etc. This is where ideas form and inspiration grows. It’s where we find our voice and feel comfortable to finally having it be heard, sometimes for the very first time.

Large public rituals are similar in that they create a welcoming sacred space to everyone, regardless of gender, race, experience, faith, or culture. However they differ from drum circles and many types of mystical gatherings in that they have a central theme that weaves together a magickal story to be shared with the community through careful outlining of thought, action, and intent; the stuff magick is made of but in a specific order that can be easily carried out with (hopefully) few hiccups. They rely on building the energy through deep trust in the person you are holding hands with. The experience is a collective effort and no matter the level of experience, the energy naturally directs itself towards the Priestess acting as Centerpole. These people of diverse backgrounds who chose to be a part of the Circle will feel the release as it trembles the earth. There will be a quiet stillness that tingles the skin and stirs the soul as we connect with others through a collective consciousness and a shared understanding of the moment. Most bystanders will feel something too. Maybe there is something to this Magick thing after all.

Strangely enough, a half-empty bag filled with high fat, overly salty, virtually no nutrient value crumbs might just help me be a successful part of this amazing ritual. An extreme example of finding magick in the mundane, yet no less magickal.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Something Sweet; A Baking Tale of Woe

I will try my best to explain the painful, frustrating experience of trying to put together my daughter’s birthday cake.

And the unexpected outcome.

My youngest daughter just turned 10 and It’s a family tradition that I make everyone the cake they request on their birthday. I don’t really like to bake. It’s a science which means I have to follow some rules. I don’t like following rules. Luckily the requests that come in are usually pretty easy. However, a 10 year-old little girl is too big to want a pink princess cake again this year, but not quite old enough to realize that asking for a homemade Black Forest Cherry Cake was a little out of my comfort zone. But I knew that with some simple modifications I had this one in the bag. At least I hoped.

She must have read my mind because she pointed her finger at me with a sly smile on her face and said, “Homemade Momma. That means no Betty Crocker.” I was sure I saw a glint in her eye. Would she know? Probably. Damn. So I wasn’t going be able to get away with a boxed cake mix and can of cherry pie filling then dump it all in a bundt pan (which in my opinion is pretty good stuff). But I figured I could probably still cut a corner or two.

I inwardly cringed when she offered to help me individually pit the cherries. I thanked her but quickly pointed out (with relief) that cherries weren’t in season. She would have to settle for frozen pitted cherries in her dang cake. This was just getting worse and worse.

Did the bakery in town have Black Forest Cherry Cakes ready to go?

I was standing at the kitchen sink when I felt the warm sun peeking through the dark clouds. I closed my eyes and spoke gently to myself. “You can do this. Ground and center. Your feet are firmly planted on the earth beneath you. Feel the roots spread out from the soles of your feet…reach deep, deep into the soil and find your strength…pull that energy up through your body………

Later when I had finished gathering my wits about me, I found and read through my old recipe for the cake. Other than a boxed cake mix and canned cherries, there were a couple of other ingredients I would have to do without. Cake flour was one of them. (Do people really buy that stuff?) The other one was Kirsch, but I was the only one who would know it was missing anyway. I held onto a nearly full bottle of that stuff until about a month ago because it had done nothing but gather dust from the last time I made that cake; 14 years ago. If only I had waited a little longer because at that moment I could really have used a few shots of that stuff.

My littlest girl was turning 10 and if she wanted a Black Forest Freaking Cherry Cake then that’s what I was going to make for her; to the best of my ability. So suck it up Buttercup, I told myself.

I didn’t really believe she was expecting a perfect cake. In fact there’s probably no one who expected Black Forest Cherry Cake Perfection from me more than I expect it from myself. It’s why I cringed at the thought of making one of those cakes again in the first place.

It wasn’t going to be the end of the world if it didn’t look like a picture perfect Black Forest Cherry Cake because it might still taste good. I had to at least believe in that part.

And when things I cook or stuff that I make don’t turn out quite perfect I can usually just call them “Rustic” with some degree of success.

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So far so good…

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Smells divine!

 

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Chocolate whipped cream sounded better than just plain whipped cream for the filling. Besides, I don’t think the recipe said not to tweak the filling (where is that recipe anyway?)

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It’s taking a while. Even my faithful dog can’t wait around forever. Besides I don’t think she can stand the mess in the kitchen any longer and has decided to leave me. And lo and behold, there’s the recipe on the floor next to her. I wondered where that went…(I would eventually find it…after the cake was done).

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Not bad for the third layer. The chocolate frosting seems to be a little sticky, but I’m sure it’s fine. I’m not sure but at this point I think the recipe says I’m supposed to put one more layer of cake on. But first I must sneak a cherry. I think I deserve one.

When I was almost finished I set the cake in the fridge before the final touches because the whipped cream seemed to be getting a little warm and runny and the impromptu chocolate layer was becoming more and more sticky by the minute. I did my best not to panic reassuring myself that a little change in consistency was probably normal. While it chilled, I made some more whipped cream to frost the outside. Twenty minutes later when I removed the cake it was immediately clear that the cake wasn’t going to even come close to looking like it should. My 19 year-old son came over early for dinner and after one look at the cake said, “Oh man…well, just call it a ‘deconstructed’ Black Forest Cherry Cake.” Smartass. But wait, that was actually not a bad plan! But hope slowly faded as the cake began to fall apart even further right before our eyes. In a matter of minutes the cake had split into three uneven sections and though we did our best to try and save the dying cake, we were still quickly losing it to gravity.

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Please tell me this is all just a bad dream….

At the final attempt to push it back together I finally called it. “It’s over. We did all that we could.” I was looking through tears of frustration at the big mess and was sad that I failed my daughter’s request for a birthday cake. Never had I ever created such a mess of a cake as this. Not even close. But I sucked it up and piped on the rest of the whipped cream, filling in the holes as best as I could. I then took my nerve pain meds and went to bed with an ice pack while taking deep breaths and accepting my major screw-up.

But it was far from over. We still had to transfer the cake to the car and drive 20 minutes to my parent’s house where everyone was going to meet. (The only one that would be missing was my oldest daughter). I absolutely dreaded the unveiling of the disasterpiece so I made my husband do it.

My daughter stood next to him, excited to finally see her cake that I had spent the better part of the day on. Her sweet, accepting demeanor naturally came through because her reaction was of honesty, acceptance, and above all else, appreciation and gratitude. “That looks delicious Momma!” That’s why she’s so peculiarly amazing, my perfectly imperfect child who still comes in from playing outside with skinned knees and twigs tangled in her hair. A child with a passion for taking care of animals, and is not afraid to discuss how she feels about religion and politics with anyone who will listen. A daughter who will spend hours and hours reading, singing, or writing books about magickal animals.

The cake ended up more like a chocolate cherry/brownie (brownie because I got distracted and I think I forgot the baking soda) with chocolate frosting and whipped cream. A real mess but even I must admit, it was pretty darn good. Perfectly Imperfect. The fact there were no leftovers or any thrown in the garbage told me it wasn’t a total disaster after all.

I’ll probably keep a better eye on the recipe next time and hopefully that will make a difference.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Art of Distraction

I woke up at 6 a.m. to my hips and thighs aching, not unusual after a long weekend. I tossed and turned a bit, took my pain meds, then tried the heating pad. Today is a holiday for crying out loud, President’s Day to be exact, and I so badly wanted to sleep in with the rest of the family. But when I couldn’t stand it any longer I got out of bed, grabbed my laptop, and trudged my way to the living room where I reclined my reading chair and decided to look over the emails I (un)intentionally ignored over the weekend.

However, I tend to get sidetracked and an hour later I was perusing the White House Historical Association’s website, wondering how I got there in the first place. I traced it back (as best as I could remember) to it starting innocently enough on my MSN homepage. My intentions were good, but before I signed in to my email, I saw the evil slideshow that stopped me dead in my tracks, like always. First pause and click: “Meth in Bra Leads to $712m Seizure”. Then, “ Malawi Gets Its First Grammy Nomination, With Album by Prison Inmates”. Followed by a story about how a rescue dog became mayor. I mean, come on, I had to know how that happened. I was just about to shift gears when I saw “Strange Facts About Every American President.” So in honor of President’s Day I figured I should read it. You know, out of respect. That somehow led me to reading a tweet from Hillary Clinton, and somewhere between there and here I ended up reading useless facts about the White House. But did you know that the most famous of the White House ghosts is Abraham Lincoln? Well, if you didn’t, you do now.

I have yet to read one single email.

But I did manage to waste and hour of my life. But then again, I learned some things. And learning is good, right?

Finally I realized it was time to truly wake up to the day. I’d had my fill of both dark and uplifting news stories, tempting links to Wikipedia, and all the other website diversions that seem loosely joined for no other purpose than to keep me unfocused, emotional, numb, or all of those things at once. Or perhaps none of those things at all.

The sun is shining, at least for the moment, a promise of a productive day. I have a list of things I need to get done and as I mentally tick them off one by one I can only think of a few things on that list that is truly important today;

Get some vitamin D (which I am deficient in) by spending some time outside with the family. Maybe I’ll even hug a tree, and if I ask nicely maybe it will allow me to suck in some of its vitality. That sounds really good right about now.

Work on the quilt I’m making for my daughter’s birthday gift from me. I have two weeks to get it finished and for once I’d love to finish a project ahead of schedule instead of pulling a painful all-nighter.

Other important to-dos:

Take a nap.

Make some scones.

Eat a scone.

Straighten up my altar.

Play cards with the family.

Eat another scone.

Try not to take another nap.

Choose a working Tarot deck for the week.

That’s about it. I understand that some of these may seem like distractions from what I probably should be doing but I have the rest of the week to worry about those things I don’t really want to do. Like laundry. Blech. The way I see it at the moment is that If we all have clean underwear, it can wait another day. Besides, all of the other things “to-do” are necessary to set my Spirit straight and kick my butt in gear for the week. I hope.

What’s on your to-do list today? I hope you can find time and a willing tree to hug today too. We could all use and share the love.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

The Comfort Zone

You have probably heard that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Stretch your wings. Aim high and venture forth.

But honestly I don’t want to.

I like it here in our little house in the trees, where I can’t see the road, or neighbors, and where the deer bed down in the meadow at night. It’s comfortable, it’s isolated, and it’s far removed from the outside world. Yes, I am a hermit, one who imagines herself being just fine with living out here in the woods alone. Someday I want to be the crazy old woman in the forest with a big cauldron in her front yard and everyone will think I’m completely nuts. Even the UPS driver will wish I wasn’t on his delivery route. Of course I’ll have a few cats and a pet crow that likes to perch on my shoulder and whisper secrets in my ear.

And if that’s all I had for companionship I think I’d be alright. Besides, other than my cute cats and cool crow, I’d have myself to talk to.

Anyone like me who suffers with Social Anxiety Disorder, whether it’s from chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. can relate to what I’m saying and know how debilitating it can be.The truth for me is the longer I stay away from people and public places, the more I stress about doing so. The more I don’t want to. And there are more of us than people think there are.

Over the entire month of January I left the house for only what was necessary; my kids’ basketball practices & their Saturday games, which of course puts me in a social situation with other parents who (more times than not) are overly aggressive. I’ve been to doctor’s appointments, and the grocery store. That pretty much sums it up. I don’t think the art studio counts.

This is coming from a woman who traveled to Europe to meet up with her girlfriend back in the day. Wow, a lot has happened over the last 15 years.

But I ventured away from my house last night, just for fun, which was something I fought really hard against. I knew this outing would put me in a public setting that I wasn’t used to. It was far away from my comfort zone, like the little town 12 miles up the road. It wasn’t the elementary school gym and it wasn’t my doctor’s office. I was headed into the metropolis of busy freeways, lots of bridges, and narrow city streets. There would also be people. A lot of people. My level of anxiety was high when I put on my coat and several times I wondered if I could just maybe, somehow get out of it. But I sucked it up and spritzed on my best perfume then smiled at myself in the mirror because my husband and I were going on a date. The first one in many moons.

We saw a movie at a theater downtown then walked along Hawthorne where we spent way too much time in Powell’s Books. We skipped the trendy restaurants and Portland’s food trucks and finally settled in at our favorite burger joint. We both ordered pepper bacon cheeseburgers and waffle fries. We kinda shared a large milkshake- I say “kinda” because I slurped down way more than my fair so I could get the most (I’m bratty that way). It was an absolutely disgusting meal, and I enjoyed every bite.

It’s times like last night that I’m reminded of the good things that exist outside my comfort zone. There’s no guarantee in life that I won’t be in a car accident, mugged, or worse. But then again there’s no guarantee that I won’t slip and fall in my own home while holding scissors the wrong way or not get trampled by a deer (that actually injured me once, but that’s another story) while wandering along our trails.

Ask me today and I’ll tell you I’d love to see an old friend and catch up. Hell, I’ll even drive to the mall and do some shopping in the Macy’s store where that horrible shooting happened a few years ago. If I keep pushing myself, especially in times I don’t want to, I may begin seeing the world from beyond my comfort zone as somewhere I sometimes would rather be!

As much as the eccentric crazy old woman who lives deep in the forest spending her time conjuring magick and the occasional mayhem just to keep things interesting sounds fun, maybe I don’t really want to be alone. At least not yet.

But if I finally do find myself there I really hope I will have earned it. That I’ll have come full circle by venturing out of my comfort zone. I’ll travel and do great deeds. I’ll meet new people and hopefully share lots of laughter and joy. I’ll spend years and years loving my grandchildren, and teaching them the Ways of the Witch.

And there’s so much more. I want to give more time and energy to charity. I want to sew quilts for the newborns in the neonatal unit (I’ll never forget that small yet caring gesture from a stranger and how it gave me and Atticus so much comfort when he spent his first month of life there). I want to spend oodles and oodles of time with my husband, walking on the beach, playing chess, watching stupid movies, and laughing together until it hurts. And of course making love. A lot.

I want to see Greenland one day. I want to watch a play on Broadway. And while I’m at it, I want to have backstage passes to a Duran Duran concert and a private dinner~and stuff~with John Taylor (hey, a girl can dream)….He’s the one “free pass” *wink, wink* that my husband has given me, no questions asked. I only said okay because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings (another *wink, wink*). But gosh I love my man.

I want to keep making time for my watercolor painting and Soulcollage work. I want to continue guest speaking at Tarot workshops and at the University. I want to write a book. And I want to blog.

I suppose I have a lot of living I want to get done.

I know there will be bad bouts of pain where days and weeks will easily slip by, but I know that I have to fight to be a part of the outside world and push through my comfort zone once the pain episode subsides. Who knows? Maybe something greater than I ever thought possible will come out of it all. But before I get busy, I think I’ll go and call my friend and catch up. Maybe meet for lunch…. In the city.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Force of Nature

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I can’t believe that Imbolc is here which means we’re already halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Although it doesn’t really feel like it, the quickening of the earth has begun. To remind my kids (and myself) of this reawakening, I rummaged through the junk cabinet, you know, the one underneath the junk drawer, (no junk cabinet? I send great kudos to you, but you can’t convince me that you don’t have at least one junk drawer somewhere) and I found the crumpled paper bag at the very back. I’m not sure but I think I may have heard a chorus of angels because in that bag was the Holy Grail of possibilities and new beginnings. So out of the bag and onto the kitchen counter roll several small, strange looking brown blobs of promise.

And every year my kids will ask the same thing, “Are they dead?”

One of my favorite things to do a week or so before Imbolc is to force bulbs to grow in my kitchen window.

At the end of January that statement makes me feel so empowered! In midwinter I can’t do much of anything outside because of the thick mud and my little Summer herb garden seems like a distant memory. Sure, I’ll feed and water the houseplants but even they start to look sluggish. But believe you me, I will force those bulbs to grow!

And they do. They always do. Rain or shine, their vibrant green shoots will burst through the surface within days of planting, and before I know it they’re blooming with confidence and sheer force of will. And every year I am humbled by their elegant beauty, knowing full well I didn’t force them to do anything. I simply gave them a place to start and in return they shared their lovely blooms with me and my family.

That’s the power of Nature. All around us are reminders of Gaia’s strength, compassion, and never-ending gifts of beauty.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

 

This is How I Spent Most of my Day

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I’ve been enjoying one of my favorite novels all over again. I have many “favorites” across many genres but time travel and 1700’s Scottish Highlands were calling out to me.

Although I’ve had too many cups of Tazo today, it feels good to indulge myself in a world that I find easy to daydream about. Years ago this story opened my heart to the possibility of enjoying a fantasy/time travel/historical romance, which was something I had never before considered to be my “taste.” But my own little daydream was born within the pages of this book. It was a little seedling of fantasy that grew with my imagination, further fed by my new-found desires; ones I never even knew I had. Before I knew it I was daydreaming about wandering around a medieval Scottish castle where I purposefully stray from the tour group and sneak beyond the roped off area. This of course leads me to a mysterious chamber in which a time portal opens up (you see, it was waiting just for me) and, not surprisingly, I lose my balance, fall through and travel back in time. I reappear just outside the castle walls in the mid 1700’s. I’m immediately found by a big burly Scottish Highlander in a kilt who sweeps me off my feet and plants me on the back of his horse. I hold onto him tightly as he whisks me away to…..well I don’t always know where exactly….the locations vary….as do a lot of the other parts, but you get the gist.

Losing myself within the pages of what daydreams are made of is a good thing. At least until 3 p.m. when the kids return from school, running inside the house, dropping their backpacks on the floor, arguing about who’s more annoying, and complaining about how hungry they are. 

For me, revisiting those familiar characters and settings is an ongoing adventure because each time I return I find something new, like catching sight of a gem caught in a stained glass window. It’s a long, luxurious bubble bath for my soul, an extended Calgon moment I suppose. And until tomorrow, my bookmark will act as my tether to that other place.

So daydreams are encouraged! May you spend some time revisiting one of your favorite books too.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

 

 

Making Magick With Shel Silverstein & Chicken Noodle Soup

When the kids get sick I have a knee-jerk reaction to find out how I could have prevented it. The Goddess knows that I try and be a great mom, but the reality of it is I’m not perfect. My kids had the flu this week and I’m frustrated I couldn’t have prevented it.

It’s also a very difficult undertaking for me to care for my sick children in times of personal debilitating pain. This week has been one of those weeks, but somehow, I not sure exactly how, I’ve made it through. My children are well and finally back at school today and I think I’ll go ahead and collapse. Well, after I do a few things.

I’ll be somewhat functional today while I do a much needed load of laundry, (because Mount Washmore is gaining amazing altitude in the laundry room) catch up on correspondences, and empty the dishwasher. But then I’m going to relax. No, collapse. Well at least until 3:30.

I’m crossing my fingers the school doesn’t call because one of my kids starts feeling icky again, and I sure as hell hope that they don’t catch something else that may be going around.

I’ve known the most fastidious of germaphobes who still get sick. I myself am constantly making sure everyone washes their hands, eats reasonably healthy, and are active. I also make sure my kids stay home from school/social situations when they are sick so they aren’t spreading the illness to others. But some things just can’t be helped.

2015 flu season, commercial cleaning company, detroit office cleaning, detroit jantorial services, smart clean, cleaning for health, germs, dirty bathrooms

The awful thing was that I knew it was coming. Last week during my daughter’s basketball practice I watched as more than half the girls on her team were coughing and sniffling then handling the basketball, which was being bounced around from teammate to teammate. I inwardly cringed as the ball made its rounds, knowing that the germs were successful in finding new little hands to cling to.

As much as I tried to keep the right balance of vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc going, and as much as I charged and anointed my healing candles and surrounded my children with energy of protection, they still succumbed to the flu. My efforts failed. Am I truly so powerless? I mean, what kind of Witchy Momma am I?

At first I panicked. Then I cried. How was I going to care for my sick kids when I myself was on the verge of insanity from my pain? The area around my fusion and disc replacement was in knots, my sciatica was turned to high, and my fibromyalgia reacted to the stress with a vengeance. But I would do what I had to do, then my husband would take over when he got home from work (bring on the guilt, I think I can take it).

So the daily routine this week went like this:

I would be jolted awake by coughing fits after short bouts of painful sleep, but would take a deep calming breath and go and visit each child. I’d give out doses of honey if they asked, I’d spread globs of vicks vapo-rub on their feet while giving a quick tickle that made them squirm or smile just a bit before I put their socks back on. If needed, I would refill the humidifiers and add additional germ-killing essential oils, sometimes refreshing the cool rags for foreheads, and giving a dose of Tylenol if needed. I’d do all of this calmly and methodically then shuffle back to bed.

I spent a lot of the daytime sitting in the living room surrounded by sick kids with fever, coughing, and whining as my company. I wandered around picking up used Kleenex off the floor (no one could seem to hit the makeshift paper bag garbage can sitting right next to them) and would periodically go around the house wiping door handles, faucets, and light switches with an essential oil mix or just go ahead and heavy hit places with Lysol spray. I’d rinse the dishes, and maybe do a load of laundry. But when my body warned me to stop doing things, I listened and rested. At night my husband would give me a massage which caused tears to stream down my face, but as always, it ended up relieving some pain.

During a late Monday morning when my pain was at a steady level I took the opportunity to make a double batch of our favorite chicken noodle soup. We had it for lunch the first few days and we ate it with crackers while sitting on the sofa together watching old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Lassie while nodding off now and then.

When they’d get tired of watching Lassie save the day they’d come find me in my bedroom on the heating pad, our adjustable bed in the zero gravity position with the full body massage on (that bed was one of our best investments we made to help manage my pain). Usually by the time they found me I had been resting long enough and my afternoon medication had kicked in that they were welcome to climb into bed with me. We would read Shel Silverstein’s wacky poems over and over again or look through our family pictures on the laptop, revisiting their baby years, vacations, holidays, all of which brought smiles and occasional laughter. A much needed reprieve from misery.

By Monday afternoon and thereafter, I was having have them each take a warm but quick shower and change into clean pajamas. By then they would be tired again so back to the couch. During the late afternoon I reheated some of the soup broth and they sipped on it while settled in their own little makeshift nests of pillows and blankets on either end of the couch, zoning out in their little foggy orbits. Thankfully the television stayed off.

By Tuesday afternoon they began arguing. For lunch they finished off the soup. A good sign they were recovering!

By Wednesday their coughs had become considerably less often and there were very few wads of Kleenex on the floor.

By Thursday they were playing with toys and complaining about how bored they were.
I was relieved when they slept through the night and that their eyes were bright this morning and they were ready to go back to school. Thank you Dear Goddess! I too was feeling so much better that I even did a little happy cha-cha-cha in the kitchen after the school bus drove away. Yes, I definitely feel better.

It took many years of Mommyhood to finally understand that I needed to slow down the pace when caring for my sick kids. One of the things I wish I knew as a younger mom (way before I even had to deal with chronic pain) was to relax when caring for my sick kids. Of course I still worry and listen to my inner-mom intuition, but when I come from a place of calm I am better aware of whether they need more or less of something and can adjust accordingly. It also gives me the ability to send them healing energy more effectively. I can make sure they drink plenty of fluids and gently remind them to rest, then taking that opportunity to rest myself. I can read aloud to them when they don’t feel well enough to read on their own. We can even watch an old movie or t.v. show together even if we end up napping through some of it. And I can even find the opportunity to make chicken noodle soup.

The way my life is now, living with daily chronic pain, I know from experience that If I don’t slow down when I know I should then my pain level will spike to an unmanageable level causing all kinds of misery. My children can sense when Momma’s not okay, but I can do my best not to add additional stress to their recovery. If I repeatedly went down the checklist of things to do for children with the flu, constantly took their temperature, and tied to maintain a perfect house through it all, I would be a raving lunatic stressed out to the max, and believe me I’ve been there, done that. Now as an older mom with young children and pain issues I’d have to add delirious from pain to the stressed out lunatic description. Stress is ugly and will spread just as quickly and with as much stealth as the nasty virus that has invaded my children.

It’s important for me to find joy in the little things that we did this week. Yes, it’s awful that my kids were sick, and no, it wasn’t necessarily a productive week. However, we were blessed with those quiet moments to connect and to feel the love and healing that came from them. In the process, I ended up loving and caring for myself which gave me the strength to overcome the obstacle of pain. I really believe that love is the best medicine of all. The beautiful feeling we find in love that is given and received in times of need is above and beyond any magickal power you will ever have, ever want or ever even find.

Many Warm Blessings of Health on Your Journey )O(

homemade chicken noodle soup

Photo from Honey Bee’s Recipes

         Magickal Chicken Noodle & Herb Soup

This is my take on the basic chicken noodle soup recipe that I have tweaked over the years. It’s now a family favorite and staple during cold and flu season. It’s full of cold and flu fighting herbs and the potato thickens it just a bit. If you are worried about the amount of herbs being too strong, start with half the amount and adjust to your taste from there. It makes about 8 servings and is ready in about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup diced celery
12 cups chicken stock*
½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
3 cups diced cooked chicken meat

1 (8-ounce) package dried egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced potato
1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass**
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat drizzle in the olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and celery and cook in olive oil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and stir in chopped cooked chicken, dried egg noodles, carrots, potato, sea salt (optional), and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

*Take advantage of store bought rotisserie chicken for both the meat in this recipe and for making chicken stock for future recipes. After removing the meat, save the carcass to make chicken stock. Place the carcass in a large crock pot. Cut 3 whole celery stalks into thirds being sure to keep the leaves on the ends as they are full of flavor and place in pot. Then add 3 carrots cut into thirds. 2 medium onions quartered, 4 cloves of garlic, split, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 teaspoons sea salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Fill with enough water to fully cover the chicken. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and discard bones and vegetables. Store in refrigerator or freeze in gallon freezer bags.

***Lemongrass can usually be found in the produce section where the herbs are stocked. Our store sells it fresh as well as in a tube next to the ginger, tarragon, thyme, etc.

A New Journey for our Beloved Feathered Friend

My youngest daughter buried her pet parakeet today. She had received the blue budgie she named “Sweetheart” for her birthday two years ago after she begged, and begged, and begged for a bird. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to care for a bird because it needed more than just interaction, it also needed basic care and frequent cage cleaning. She insisted and promised that she was ready but I still had my doubts.

So I had her research the parakeet species and write a five paragraph essay on how to care for one and what her expectations were. She did a lot of research online and checked out all the library books she could find about them. What she ended up creating was two pages (which is pretty good for a second grader) filled with heartfelt words of persuasion (so persuasive that any and all spelling and grammatical errors were immediately and easily forgiven) so needless to say, she won what had become the “Battle of the Bird” hands-down.

And she stayed true to her words and was a brilliant pet budgie owner. There were no regrets and the entire family enjoyed her company.

There were no signs of any illness or distress at all. She was eating well, and played with us the night before, chirping to the t.v. and seemed content. And like any other night, my daughter took her to her bedroom and sat her on the perch next to her bed and read to her.

Then this morning I made the unpleasant and sad discovery. Luckily we were running late for school and I hadn’t had the chance to uncover her cage until the kids were off to school. It bought me some time to first figure out how I was going to tell my daughter Sweetheart was gone, to find a proper box, and think about how we were going to handle the final goodbye.

My husband broke the news to her and talked with her for a little while as she asked questions that he could readily answer in his special way because he is both a biologist and a druid.

She then came to me and climbed into bed and I held her and stroked her head as she cried. After some time we dried her tears and began the task of saying goodbye.

Her little coffin was a cedar box with a hinged lid that hadn’t yet been painted for one of my Tarot decks. We placed muslin in the bottom with cotton batting underneath. The bird was gently placed in the box and at our daughter’s request we left the two of them alone until she was ready to close the lid. She had taken a piece of millet (Sweetheart’s favorite treat) because she wanted to tuck it into the box with her bird. We found a spot under an umbrella shaped deciduous tree that is deeply shaded during the hot summer months. My husband used the shovel and began digging the hole then handed it to our daughter and we each took with the shovel. She placed the box into the earth and began covering the hole. My husband finished and smoothed the top.

She rewrote a prayer from the book “Circle Round” on an index card and read it out loud.

“Sweetheart, fellow traveler and my trusted friend. I am sad to see you go. I will miss your funny chirps, and your soft feathers. I will miss reading to you at night and will always smile when I think about how much you liked sitting on my shoulder and how you loved to have conversations with your own reflection in the bathroom mirror (we then went around and each of us shared something). May your journey be peaceful, happy, and free. As you join the great dance of creation, we thank the Goddess for your time with us, and we will hold you forever in our hearts.

Blessed Be”

We are going down to the creek bed tomorrow so that my daughter can find a special rock to use as a marker for Sweetheart’s grave.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Cherry Tarts~ Retro-Style

Mercury Retrograde.
It’s a time to say what I should have said when I felt what I meant to say. Or something like that.

Discombobulated anyone?

Just blame it on Mercury. Like the most of us tend to do.

 I’ve been on the alternative route long enough to have been duly warned of all the do’s and don’ts during this “troubling” time. I am well aware of the more-than-likely-mishaps and frustrating malfunctions, dumb misunderstandings and deals gone bad. I’ve been there, done that. And so have you.

 No need to fret, It’s just Mercury Retrograde doing it’s thing; and we all have our thing.

When things go awry like your printer takes a nosedive or you accidentally hit “send” when you really shouldn’t have then it’s time to pay more attention to the little wisps of luck in your life like getting out of a speeding ticket, finding a $20 bill in your coat pocket and then find the bakery is making your favorite cherry tarts again (I must admit I worked hard on making that wheel squeak).You know, the important stuff in the Grand Scheme of Things.

Besides, Mercury isn’t really moving backwards, it’s all just an optical illusion…but I really shouldn’t spoil the mood so I’ll stop there.

Life speeds by on its endless course and dear Mercury Retrograde can be that slap in the face you need in order to get a grip on life.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

The tarts are calling my name. Mercury Rocks!