Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's Medicine: Love and Loss

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Today I met with some of my heart family to finally gift one another with Solstice presents. Michele, Kat, Angelia, vanessa and I met at the Saffron Grill and proceeded to fill up on delicious food, delightful presents and an abundance of laughter. It felt so good to be out together, enjoying a meal and each other's company with equal relish. For me, it was what Yule is all about. I am so incredibly blessed by the people who I love and love me in return, even when I have my crabby pants on. I basked in Love's glory today and it was good.

Upon my return home, I discovered Littlefoot had become even weaker. She's having difficulty walking across the floor and seems very confused. Yet when I hold her, all she does is lean against me and gently purr. She doesn't seem to be suffering, just very, very tired. I'll be sleeping on the love seat tonight, with a candle next to my Bastet statue. It would be such a blessing if she was able to journey quietly on her own yet I know that may not be her choice. The Loss comes from knowing that a bit of my heart will go with her when she's gone. She's been with Paul and I from almost the very beginning of our relationship- in some sense she's our first adopted child. Almost seventeen years ago, this little furry kitten wandered into our life and growled at us. She was so feral that she'd growl at us while she ate. We had no idea she would not only live this long but thrive and in the end become an incredibly loving companion. She has lived a good life and I take comfort in knowing that. It doesn't quite dull the ache, though...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Medicine: Listening and Service

What a many layered day today. I was gifted with a strong sense of Service all day at work and it really helped me feel like what I was doing truly mattered. Not only what I did but how I did it made a big difference for people today. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to make someone's day go smoother and have them leave with a smile on their face. There were plenty of moments that I could have been quite a sourpuss about and yet I wasn't feeling that way at all. It was good. Listening came through several times today. I understand that I struggle with living outside my means. Intellectually I understand how this is not a pattern I wish to continue doing. Yet I could hardly wait to get off work so I could head out to Half Price Books "just to browse a bit," I told myself. Yet I felt uneasy about this choice, knowing I really don't need more books and in fact I'm clearing out more each day. It helps knowing that I have more than enough of everything I need in my life, even will power and even when I don't think I do. I recognize this itch to consume is based on some other lack in my life and I'm treating myself gently lightly. It's OK to want something, it's not OK to always have it and that sort of thing.

Instead of shopping, I came home. And discovered that the neighborhood cat, whom we've dubbed Creamsicle, was pounding on our back door as if the world was ending. I've not seen hear around for several weeks, maybe even a couple months. Having her behave so desperately made me wonder if she was all right. I put some food out for her and pet her only to discover she was skin and bones! She's not exactly a lightweight, or at least wasn't the last time I checked. We think she may have been locked in someone's garage or shed during the bad weather. After a bath (she was so flea-bitten that the water ran red) and some canned food and water, she's comfortably ensconced in our spare room. She's terribly weak and assuming she recovers we will be either integrating her into our household or finding another home for her. There is no way she's going back out into the world after this. This is the second time in the 8 years we've lived here that she's been in such poor condition. The first time involved an untreated chest abscess, which we took her to the vet for once we figured out her owners (if she has any) weren't going to do a darn thing. I'll see how she's doing tomorrow. We have a vet coming to ease Littlefoot into her next life Friday (she is declining more rapidly now and is hardly eating at all), so we may have her check out Creamsicle as well since she is here. I lit some incense on my Bastet altar tonight for both of them and it helps that I know She will be watching over her children...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Today's Medicine: Independence

Sacred Sunday is a fitting name for today: we had a substantial amount of sunshine, for the first time in a while. It was quite invigorating. It's been over a week since I drove my car, so my first order of business was to take a shovel to the slush and ice barrier to the entrance of our driveway. What a mess! I brought it down to a more manageable level and made my attempt to leave my cozy house to get some groceries and a couple gift items for my family. Success! It took me three times but I made it out the drive and I was on my way. It felt really good to drive around town, go to the library to pick up some local birding books and then head north to my father's house on Camano Island (We'd had to delay our Yule celebrations due to the dreadful weather.) The main roads were pretty darn clear, thank gods. And I got to thinking about how happy I was to putter down the road, listening to Mari Boine yoiking her heart out.

I know I'm an independent sort. I can be quite catlike if I put my mind to it and sometimes even when I don't. I'm not exactly contrary, at least I'm not much of the time. I just don't care for too many constraints on my time/energy/space/whatever. It sometimes conflicts with having an open heart and being in service to others. I've learned a bit about my need for Independence this month. Having Mother Nature put her foot down and keep most of our region in deep snow for a couple weeks has helped me remember how to go with the flow and not grip the idea of "I'm in control of this situation" so firmly. Today I recognized that my joyful feelings were directly tied to whether or not I felt I was free to do what I wanted. I've a sneaking suspicion that I'll get to revisit this lesson again more than once over the Winter season. Ah, the joys of learning opportunities...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's Medicine: Fallow Time

Due to dangerous road conditions I was unable to get to work today. This meant that I spent the day doing a few household chores and re-reading one of my fantasy favorites, the Redemption of Althalus by David Eddings. To be honest, wasn't a very satisfying sort of day. I know some days are like that and I accept that each day has it's blessings and challenges. I just don't like feeling of my day slipping through my fingers. So I remind myself not to fret, to just go with the flow and take care of the things I can take care of. No need to get in a tizzy fit about it, especially since I know those don't help so much.

Mostly I felt like I was in a fog, much like the weather outside. Kind of hazy, not really focused and a bit murky. Yesterday I dreamed of flying all over the place and that my toes kept getting tangled in telephone/power lines. And I had to avoid all the machines flying in the air with me. This morning I dreamed that our house was on a bluff that overlooked the ocean. In that ocean I saw a bunch of humpback whales cresting out of the water. Suddenly I realized that some of the whales were in fact orcas and there was one in particular that was as huge as my house. It was stunning and beautiful and I knew I had to find a way to climb the cliffside down to the beach to see them up close. Waking up from that sort of dream will make a person a bit hazy, I guess. Perhaps some good sleep tonight chase the cobwebs away...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's Medicine: Service

I've been reading Frank MacEowen's "The Celtic Way of Seeing: Meditations on the Irish Spirit Wheel" and reflecting on the connection between Sovereignty and Service. The concept that leadership is directly linked to how you serve those around you evokes a resounding 'Yes!" within my heart and mind. It's the difference between what some call the big "I" and the little "i." Because if you are truly serving others, there is no place for ego. And if you are a true leader, you have confidence but not overbearing pride in your abilities. I don't know if I'm saying that quite right, but as much of my life, these musings are a work in progress.

I have a reminder on my fridge that says: Service Is Not About Comfort. I heard the quote at one of the workshops held by Orion Foxwood at Pantheacon a couple years ago. It's true too. I always know when Service is coming up in my life. My ego starts wrestling with my observer self and it's often a toss up when it comes to the winner. Thank goodness my observer self usually prevails. Usually. I feel so blessed when Service comes easily and so small when I'm resisting. And boy can I resist it! It's funny, I can usually feel it in my body when I'm my heart, mind and action are in conflict with one another. There is a tightness in my chest and throat and I feel anxious and unsettled. Once I surrender to the path of the heart, allow the action support the feeling that I know to be true, my brain usually capitulates and it all goes well. And yet I still have those moments of resistance. And I wonder when I will allow that medicine to firmly take hold within so that I may bring it more fully into the world...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Today's Medicine: Enjoying What Is

It is all about perspective.

'nuf said.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Today's Medicine: Simple Joys

My life is so rich, so abundant with love, passion and joy. It has it's shadow places too, where doubt, cynicism, apathy and fear live. Yet I know the murky corners of my life do not define me, they are merely lessons to be learned and understandings to be known. The richness is balanced by the decay and I'm grateful that it is so.

Simple Joy means just that: taking joy in the simple things in life. It means that I don't choose to complicate a situation or dress it up. It means authentic joy that comes from the heart. It it experienced both actively and passively. I have a sense of joy when my kitchen is tidy and clean. Joy comes when I sit with a contented kitty on my lap. It comes when people smile after a warm cookie from the oven, a comforting cup of tea and a good conversation. It's that spark that ignites compassion within myself, towards myself and others. I am much more tender when I feel that joy.

When I'm out of balance with the world, with myself, I lose that Simple Joy. I start bitching about the little things in life that aren't going exactly as I planned. Everything takes on a shade of gray. I participate in bashing the world along with all the other unhappy people around me. And I'm so incredibly weary of my life. Simple Joy helps me face the shadow places within myself with grace and humor. It gives me a burst of energy to begin propelling myself out of that murky underground.

I gather my soul at the hearth-fires of Winter,
warmth of welcome upon my lips,
warmth of rest upon my hands,
warmth of nurture upon my being
May the souls of all beings
be wrapped in the warmth of night
till Winter's dawning.
-Caitlin Matthews, from Celtic Devotional

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today's Medicine: Tenderness

This is my sly and shy boy, Kemu. He's one of our two Russian Blues. When he were a wee little tyke, he and his brother Koodori were feral. A friend trapped them, along with their mother and other brother. I told her I would re-home them, not realizing it was my home that I was speaking of. These boys had a rough start in life and even 8 years later they are skittish and shy. Since Kemu is a bully (and because I caught him spraying sometime last year), he gets to spend his time in my office. It's not so bad- it's a large bedroom and we have put a cat window attached to the outside of the house so he and his room mate Mogget (the other Russian Blue, who also is a bully and was caught spraying, funny that) can hang out behind an enormous rhododendron bush. They seem to enjoy one another's company and they get visits from the other kitties on occasion. Once our kitty saturation levels go down a bit, I will see about integrating them back into the rest of the house. We have a screen door on my office, which allows them so they don't feel completely isolated. They both like to climb up the door and yowl, just to see if I'll come visit. Brat cats. The Tenderness struck me today when Kemu was napping and he allowed me to put my arms around him and rub my face on his back. Mind you, this is the cat who wouldn't let anyone touch him a couple years ago. If you looked at him funny he would run away. The fact he allowed me to snuggle with him, that he purred his enjoyment so loud, just melts my heart. It helps me understand that Fear can be overcome. I don't expect he will ever be a love bug that constantly yearns for attention. But those moments when he rubs his face on my own are precious gifts that I will treasure throughout my life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Today's Medicine: Nourishment

It's another cold and snow-ridden day out there. I awoke at 5:45am to the sound of my phone beeping that I had a text message. It said, "Clinic closed today." I smiled a big sleepy smile and drifted back into sleep. A guilt free snow-day to spend however I wished!

As I've noted before, time has been a bit wonky in the past week. It was the same today and I realized that I'm spending much of my days like my retreats at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR. During my retreats there, I tended to do whatever I felt called to do: read, sleep, soak, eat or write. I've got more things to add to the mix here, but those 5 things are a core of my unstructured time. I find I am less willing to relax into that flow when I'm at home, mostly because there is always a metric ton of stuff that needs doing. Of course, since I am focusing on simplifying things around here, I am hopeful to change that pattern of behaviour.

For me, nourishment is a many layered thing. At it's most basic level it is food that feeds my belly-belly and my mouth belly. (You know- the mouth belly is the one that keeps wanting to eat even when your belly belly is almost bursting.) It's also those people and things that bring me alive. It's soft, warm, and happily purring kitty fur against my skin. It's holding the eyes of someone who is opening their heart to me. It's the scent of sage, cedar and copal in my smudge shell. It's being held tenderly by the ones I love. And giving them hugs in return. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Since I've been feeling delinquent in my diet these days, I made applesauce, potato/cheddar soup and a huge salad for dinner. I also made some interesting lemon frittatas that I may or may not make again. They are tasty but I can't really eat deep fried food anymore. I know they were enjoyed by the other people in the house and I can see them being a special treat a couple times a year. I also spent much of my day either napping or dozing. Gotta love going with the flow...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today's Medicine: Slowing Down and Paying Attention

Sacred Sunday

This was the scene at my house this morning. I wasn't snowing when I rolled off the couch just after 7:15 this morning but it started up again in the early afternoon. It hasn't let up since. We've about a foot and a half of glorious snow and I can't imagine that it will let up enough for me to brave the roads to work tomorrow. Yay for snow days! I've spent most of today tying up just a few loose ends and resting. It's been a thoughtful day and some that have wandered through my head are:
-I'm not drinking enough fluids. With the bitter cold and wind, I really need to make sure I drink extra water, tea and juices. Especially since the cough is still lingering and I'd really like to be done with it now, thanks. My psoriasis hasn't gotten better but it's also not gotten worse, so that's a mixed blessing. Thank goodness for soaking baths and honey.
-With the weather being so bad, we've been living off what's in the pantry and freezers. It's made me realize that we do have plenty of food and I can indeed create nummy things for us to eat out of what we have. I've been more resourceful this past week than I've been in a loooong time. It was good to use what we have instead of being consumed by our instant gratification: IE, 24 hour grocery stores 5 minutes away from home.
-There is a sense of timelessness to Winter weather like this. Even though the day felt incredibly short due to limited sunlight hours, I feel like it also lasted at least half again as long as it did. Yay for time wonkiness!
-The birds on the back deck are incredibly distracting and yet there is no way I'm moving the bird feeders. For one thing the cats would be very displeased- they like their entertainment. I catch myself gazing at them for 20 minutes at a time, usually when I'm on my way to accomplish some household task. I find this amusing and can't help but think of Mercedes Lackey. In her Elemental Master novels, she talks about how Air elementals, Slyphs, can be dangerously distracting to those allied with Air. After noticing how much of a time suck it is to watch those lovely winged folk outside my back door, I can't help but agree.
-Note to self: Do Ceremony. Often. And if I have planned to do one, Just Do It. Don't procrastinate- I will feel much lighter for doing it.
-Naps are evil in a terribly delicious way. Especially in Winter. And cats are consummate con-artists. "Come on.. you know you want to lay down for just a minute. I really need my belly rubbed. Ooo.. bring that blanket over here too." The next thing I knew, it was 3 hours later and the sky was dark. Blasted beautiful felines.
The thing is, I truly enjoy slowing down and savoring my daily life. It's been such a long time since I've had a chance to do so that I'm not sure exactly how to let it flow gracefully. I guess that's part of the lesson too- if I don't allow myself the down time, how can I expect to remember? I know that slowing down and going with the flow allows me to be more rested, more compassionate with myself and others and I tend to accomplish a lot more than I planned. So I'm taking this Winter break to heart and resetting some parameters in my life. We'll see what happens once the snow melts and my life tries to speed up again. Because there is no doubt in my mind that it will make the attempt...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today's Medicine: Faith and Action Pants

*wry grin* That's what I get for thinking I'll get another day off. At 6:45 this morning I awoke to my boss saying, "I'm sorry" over the phone. Apparently the other Saturday person couldn't get out of her driveway. So I rolled out of bed, which was filled with many protesting kitties, and got myself ready. It didn't take long physically- I can get ready for work in under a half hour. And since the office didn't open until 9am, I had plenty of time. Mostly I was girding myself for what was certain to be an interesting commute. It turned out not nearly as bad as I'd thought it would be. It was icy, yes. It was slow going, yes. But I got there in less than half an hour and arrived with plenty of time to spare. The day went smoothly enough. We had no clinician so my other co-worker and I had to call and reschedule all the patients. A handful still showed up but no terrible problems to resolve. I left at 4 and was home by 4:45, well in advance of the storm that started brewing about 5:30 or so. Maybe I would have enjoyed another day at home rather than going to work. But it builds good employment karma to go in when others are unable and we got a lot of filing done. It also gives me some leeway if the roads are terrible in the coming week, which is something I'm really not going to worry about. It's not like I can do much about the weather anyway, other than to enjoy it as much as I can.

Faith has been coming into play in several different ways today. First, when I drove to work and home. I had to have Faith that I would be able to handle my car on compact snow and ice, something with which I have little experience. I feel like that challenge was successfully dealt with and I have gained some confidence. Last night Paul said he and his friend Eugene were going to go play in the snow with their ATVs. In the mountains outside of Sultan, which is about 20 miles east of here. Needless to say that I started getting a wee bit anxious. Of course they are always careful and a blast. No injuries occurred. They got home safe and sound and were playing games when I got home from work. Now Paul is taking Eugene to his place in Seattle and I'm fretting all over again. It's started snowing and the wind has been steadily growing. I have plenty of confidence in Paul's driving abilities- he is one of the most capable drivers I know. And yet I am concerned that some unexpected action will occur and he will get hurt. To remedy this I take a deep breath, remember that there isn't much I can do. I can hold gently to the thought that he is OK and pray that his guides and guardians are watching over him during his journey home. And trust in his capability to handle whatever comes up.

Faith is a funny thing. The best way for me to practice Faith is to weave it with positive action and thoughts into a shield (a cloak?) that helps me get through whatever challenge is in front of me. I don't rely completely on Faith- it's always backed up with Logic and Humor. Logic because I realize that Faith needs the backing of forward momentum to get something accomplished, which usually begins with the question, "How can I make this happen?" Humor helps me stay afloat when Faith is failing and helps me maintain perspective on a potentially anxious/panic-stricken situation. And as I write that, I hear Paul's voice say, "Hello?" as he comes through the garage door. Funny how things work like that.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Medicine: Stillness

As I fed and watered my bunnies in their outdoor hutch today, I paused for a moment and savored the sound of stillness. For many moments there were no cars driving past, just the sound of birds twittering in the trees and the snow shifting on branches. In the distance I could hear a dull roar of Highway 2, but no other sounds of civilization intruded upon my reflections. It was exquisite. It also made me realize that my heart longs for that kind of stillness and that I would most likely be more in balance if I acquired it on a daily basis. I'm wondering if I can begin a routine where I get up earlier and sit outside with a cuppa something hot and drink in the silence around me. It being full Winter now, I'm not sure if my inner Bear will agree with that sort of shift but I may try it for a week or two and see how I feel.

I also reflected today on how this deep Winter weather gives us all an opportunity to live as our ancestors did, at least a little bit. They didn't go out unless completely necessary. They stayed indoors, telling stories, doing crafts, playing or listening to music. None of this rush and bustle, this crazy path we think we have to run until we lose ourselves. I did venture out for a short while today, to get some groceries and cat litter. By the end of that hour or so I was exhausted. The people drove as if they had the hounds of Hell on their heels. Many shoppers had a frantic energy that reflected their panic at the possibility of not getting shopping done before Christmas. Others had a blank look that obviously came from being over-extended and overwhelmed. It was with great relief that we pulled back into our cozy home and I took a short nap with the kitties to rejuvenate. I am so grateful not to be sucked into that desperate stream of humanity. Tomorrow I am on call for work, which is a step up because I thought I was working. If all goes well, I'll be staying home once more, reading, writing and getting more things sorted. It will be Solstice Eve and I will most likely be doing an all night vigil. I have an Honoring Silence candle from Zena Moon Candles that I'll be burning. It seems quite fitting...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today's Medicine: Rest and Letting Go

I slept like a Bear today. I didn't roll out of bed until after 11am. I had plenty of odd dreamings too. Gotta love that subconscious of mine. Since we had more snow, I felt no compunction to get out of my pajamas at all and spent the day tidying as well going through my home and letting go of things I no longer needed.

My altars got a good dusting and clearing as well as a bit of rearranging. I have a Kuan Yin altar in my bathroom and I realized that my 4th Chakra/Heart Center candle would fit nicely there. I also placed a small blue dragon and a compassion candle there as well. My Guide altar really needed some clearing- it's been a while since I added or removed items that no longer fit. It is much less cluttered now. In the last couple years I made my own major arcana tarot cards and put up the ones I want to focus in my 40th year: The Moon and The Wheel of Fortune. I need the daily reminder. :)

I also cleared and tidied my altar to Kali. I've had mixed responses to my Kali altar. She's quite fierce and yet I sense a deep underlying compassion to Her as well. She and I had an interesting interaction the other night, where I surrendered to a rather brutal decapitation. I was sooooo resistant yet I also knew it was in my best interest to do so. And I got the impression She would wait as long as I needed to screw up the courage to do so. Oddly enough it wasn't as scary as it sounded and I feel like it helped move some things that have been stuck for a very long time. I'm incredibly grateful for that.

Letting Go is a medicine I try to practice on a daily basis. It's not easy. It's not always pretty. Yet it always feels right. One of the things I have in my living room is a wall hanging with a quote accredited to the Dalai Lama:

In the end what matters most is
How well did you live?
How well did you love?
And how well did you learn to let go?

I love the simplicity of it. If I don't learn anything else in this lifetime, in the end I hope I can answer those three questions...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's Medicine: Going With the Flow

There isn't anything quite like an unplanned day to force me to go with the flow. Since we were expecting more snow late last night, I knew there was a chance the roads around our home would be less than optimal upon waking. When I awoke at 6:15, it was to the now familiar sight of snow covered ground with no road showing. Since we're still considered unincorporated Snohomish County, our roads are usually some of the last to be sanded and today was no different. I called my boss and we decided I would keep her posted on the status of the roads and go from there. When I called in at 12:30 to say the roads were finally starting to slush, she told me there is likely ice beneath that slush and it was better that I stay home than get in an accident. I certainly hope I kept the glee from my voice when I told her that was fine by me but I'm betting she figured it out anyway. That left me with a day without structure and I settled in to decide how I would spend that precious time.
It's funny- I used to be able to handle unstructured time with grace and joy. Of late, I've felt a bit anxious and rushed, as if I think I need to make sure I spend the time wisely. As if there were any other way to spend an unplanned day! What I needed to keep in the front of my brain (which tries to kill me on a regular basis) was that no matter what I did with my day, it was a bonus. I wasn't at work (I love my job but we all enjoy a break now and again), I wasn't dodging insane drivers on icy roads, I wasn't fighting mobs at a grocery store or gift shoppe. Today was Extra Credit. No matter what else, today was to be enjoyed. Period. And I did so.
Moments of spontaneous joy balanced the anxiety throughout the day. I baked cookies (macadamia/white chocolate for Paul, pecan/mini chocolate chip snowballs for Michele), made a ham and cheese quiche for Michele, wrote a couple of letters, wrapped some presents and petted the cats. That last bit I did A LOT. They really enjoy it when I'm home. Right now I have corn casserole and chili cooking for my dinner and I am sorting through some books to see if I really want to keep them. Although part of me wants to jump in and depopulate the house of every single non-essential item (essential being key to my spiritual/physical and emotional health), I realize that is not my best option. I'm taking it a bit slower than that, getting through stuff each day. Small changes are lasting changes, at least that's what I've been told. Some days I believe it and others, well, those are left unmentioned. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today's Medicine: Patience

It's a crystalline world out there- the weather has been in the teens and twenties. We expect more snow this evening, perhaps enough that our office will be closed tomorrow and I'll get to stay home and work on more on letting go of things that do not make me feel alive. I've got plenty of things to sort through, that's for sure, both in my head and in my environment.

With the deepening Winter weather, Patience has certainly made it's presence known. From taking careful steps on the icy walkway to the post office on my lunch to the slow commute home from work, I've been constantly reminded to take a deep breath and be present in the moment. As the stress of the holidays makes those around me raw, I have to consciously choose to disengage from their frantic and anxious energy. Of course I could always throw in the towel, and allow the frazzled energy around me to force (or seduce) me onto a similar path. It's always easier to react to the person yelling at me on the phone about something I have no control over and didn't want to be involved with in the first place. It's more difficult to keep an even keel when the waters around me are turbulent. And yet, for the most part, I'm managing to do so. Remembering to apply an ample dose of gentle humor seems to do the trick and if that doesn't work, I pull out the big guns: I Fake It Until I Make It. Of course I don't always keep the edge off my tongue but we all have our human moments/hours/days/years. It all comes down to saying what I mean and doing what I say. And I guess I'm learning to be patient with myself as well. Imagine that. It only took 40 years to be at peace (and poke fun at) my imperfection. *snort*

One of the things that keeps coming back to me is from the last day of an ancestral medicine retreat I attended in June and again in early December. It's an exercise in forgiveness that I think I may find useful in the coming weeks and years. It's credited to Maryphyllis Horn and I place it here in the hopes that it will help others as well as help me remember to be patient with myself and others.

"I ______ forgive you________ for all the harms, both real and imagined, known and unknown, intentional and unintentional, that you have done to me from the beginning of time to the present. And I release you from all of these."

"I accept your forgiveness of me, for all the harms, both real and imagined, known and unknown, intentional and unintentional, that I have done to you from the beginning of time to the present. And I accept your release of me from all of these."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today's Medicine: Endurance

I got lots of play time with my observer self today. Between the icy roads and my paranoia of having to drive on them, my co-workers even greater paranoia and constant commentary on how fearful the ice was making them and a bad case of foggy brain, it was definitely a day to endure. I have to say it wasn't all bad. I had moments of wonder as well: the Olympics were gorgeous, the icicles hanging from just about everywhere were very pretty and I really enjoyed watching the birds eat their breakfasts. So it's never really all bad.

I'm going to explore how open-hearted I can be this week, especially during stressful circumstances. Answering the phone in a short tone of voice really isn't helpful to anyone. Remembering that I'm only responsible for me is probably the most useful tool I have right now. Probably the best way to do this is to give reign to my Hermit tendencies and allow myself whatever time I need to be still and listen. I think that will allow me to be fully present during the times I am with others. I think I will enjoy having Wednesday off, assuming the weather is as bad as they are predicting. Until then, I'm taking a deep breath and a strong cup of tea. That always seems to help.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today's Medicine: Nature and Limitations

It's a beauty filled Sacred Sunday. This is the view I see from my dining room. Actually, first I see the back deck, which is filled with birds of all sizes chowing down on bird seed. I'm so glad I put bird feeders out there. I love watching the variety of winged ones that flock to the feeders. And although they are incredibly noisy, I love the stellar jays. They are quite stunning.
We don't often get snow in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, this is the first real Winter weather we've had this year. Waking up to a world blanketed in white was truly delightful. Especially since I didn't feel up to going out anywhere anyway. Pacific NW drivers aren't exactly used to driving in any level of snow and it really shows. Add to it the stresses of the upcoming holidays and staying home looks really good. I took some pictures to share with others and to help me remember the stillness and beauty of a winter morning.
Limitations came in when I started coughing more today. I've had bronchitis for over two weeks now and I thought I was through most of it. Ha- shows what I know! The colder weather has triggered a cough and an achy tiredness today, which has been less present the past couple of days. I'm thinking some more honey, spice and ginger concoction will help. And sleep. When my body says it really doesn't want to do much, I get a bit anxious and restless. I realize it's directly linked to how much my brain thinks I "SHOULD" be doing. Actively choosing to rest instead of plunging into housework is counter to my internal wiring, which is why it's so important that I slow down and allow my body to feel what it's feeling. It's that whole heart/brain/body in alignment lesson again. I expect tonight will be an early one. After eating the oatmeal I'm cooking for dinner, I think I will write a bit and then curl up with a cat or two and get some sleep. And see what wonders tomorrow will bring!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today's Medicine: Release and Reflection

I've started dubbing the 7th day of the week as Simple Saturday. I'm doing my best to remember to Keep It Simple, Silly. I baked today, which always brings me pleasure. It's especially wonderful when I try out a new recipe and it turns out well. Today's experiment was a cardamom (or cardamon, depending on your spelling) coffee cake, taken from an old recipe book given to my mother from her mother. I've already decided it will go into my personal recipe book and I can see how tweaking it a bit could produce some other delicious things, like a lemon blueberry coffee cake. Yum.

Release actually came through late last night, as I was reading Frank MacEowen's "The Celtic Way of Seeing: Meditations on the Irish Spirit Wheel." In talking about the center of the wheel, he uses a quote from the poet David Whyte: "Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you." I love it when quotes stop me in my tracks. I immediately looked around my bathroom, for I was in the bath when this stunning epiphany happened, and started looking at the things around me. I immediately discovered at least 10 things which fell into the "too small" category and grinned to myself. There things that clearly mattered quite a lot to me and this revelation helped me see them with different eyes. As soon as I got out of the bath I started filling a box with those things I no longer felt were necessary. And I continued that practice as I puttered around the house throughout the day today. It was intriguing to see the things I was willing to release and to notice the non-negotiable items. I am curious to see where this process leads.

Reflection came to me on many levels. Since Paul and Michele were both out and about today, I decided to do some smudging and clearing of our home. I can do this when they are here but I find I am more likely to do the work if I don't feel like I'm imposing on them or have their energies in the mix. I like to do a smudging during the week or so after a full moon, to sweep the slate clean and set the energy of our home back to a lighter place. I realized that even though I consider myself more of a spiritual being than the average person, I don't always remember how helpful it is to burn sage, cedar and copal. It seems to me that I really ought to practice it on a regular basis instead of putting it off until I think I really need it. I realized that it's just another practice of preventive care. It makes sense to clear myself of heavy energy on a regular basis instead of waiting until I feel so down that I can't hardly stand myself. I also found it interesting that I was reminded yet again that practicing preventive care, whether it be in health, spiritual or financial matters, has always been difficult for me. At least until the Universe slaps me down and then I finally figure out what I'm supposed to be learning in the first place...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Today's Medicine: Joy and Responsibility

You wouldn't think that these things could be compatible yet they are quite harmonious medicine when taken together. When I read the Winter storm warnings for the weekend, I knew I had to get some stuff done today. My outdoor bunny cages needed tending and the water faucets needed to be insulated. Fortunately both of these things were done in short order and I could tend to the other things that needed doing, mainly running out to mail the overseas parcels for my pen-pals. I also ordered some Yule gifts and sorted through the ones that needed wrapping. I managed to get some light re-reading of Phule's Company by Robert Aspirin in as well. I'd forgotten how much I love that series and the first book in particular.

Responsibility feels so heavy sometimes, prideful and righteous. It also feels just, satisfying and simply right. When it comes to responsibility, I have a tendency to overcompensate. I tend to take on things that would sort themselves out without my interference, thank you very much. That said, it's not always a bad thing to have an overactive responsibility gene. It means that I often get things done and especially when nobody else is willing to step up to do them. It also means that I'll make myself do the things I don't want to do, though sometimes my stubborn nature presents quite an obstacle. I can sometimes shift that heavy stubborn energy so that it works towards a positive outcome and it works in tandem with my sense of responsibility. But only sometimes. There are two ways I feel I am most irresponsible: one revolves around financial choices and the other centers around my health choices. In both cases I feel I have more room to maneuver than I really do and it often bites me in the behind. Those two things have been warps in the weaving of my life for many years now. Perhaps I'll begin to truly untangle those patterns this year...

Joy has been spontaneous and very much present this past week. I don't know if it's due to the holy-days approaching, which always give me a boost, or if I am simply allowing it to flow into the parts of myself that so desperately need it. Perhaps it's a bit of both. Or neither. Or all of the above including things I haven't even considered! All I know for sure is that it's linked to my heart center, which feels open and full at the same time. And that, I think, is exactly how it should be.

Everyday Medicine

Why on earth would I create a blog when the internet is filled to the burstings with ramblings of people from around the world? What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said more eloquently and to the point? And what exactly do I mean by Everyday Medicine anyway?

Medicine has many meanings, including "any substance or substances used in treating disease or illness; medicament; remedy." (taken from www.dictionary.com) Sometimes it cures, sometimes it just combats an illness and sometimes it doesn't work at all. I believe each and every person has some value, some medicine, that they bring to the world. I also believe that everyone has the ability to make the world a better place and in doing even the smallest thing, healing occurs. This healing may not always be visible to the naked eye but it occurs nonetheless. And this world needs all the healing it can get.

I created this blog because I wanted a space to reflect on the medicine I see working in the world, the medicine that comes to me on it's own or through others around me. Every day I see people working to make this world a better place and often it's not even a conscious choice: they do it by simply walking with grace, often with joy. I want to bring that sort of light to the people around me. As Ella Wheeler Wilcox said so well, "Love much. Earth has enough of bitter in it."

I hope to post about the medicine that comes through to me each day. And in that way, maybe I'll be able to see the patterns as they are woven into the tapestry of my life. I hope I can see how I be softer, or stronger, with myself as well as others. I am hoping it will strengthen my writing discipline and inspire me to write more often. I am seeking illumination as well as shadows. And a gentle humor to help me temper the more challenging aspects of this human life...