windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mlp witch)
I decided to start sharing some of my collection here. Even if you aren't interested in My Little Pony, I think it is entertaining (and a little crazy) how there is a pony for every conceivable occasion. For instance, one of my favorite finds at Pony Fair this year--Love Token. While there've been several wedding-related ponies through the years, from brides and grooms to flower girls and little ring bearers, this one is my absolute favorite and was produced in the UK as part of their Romance Ponies collection. She's in such lovely condition! :)

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windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (treehugging graeme)
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While a peer with his birthdate won't be eligible to enter public Kindergarten until Fall of 2013, Graeme wanted to go to school so badly we began his formal homeschooling last month. We are making a concerted effort to document the everyday work we do together and I thought it would be fun to share some snapshots of that here!

Graeme is being taught five general subjects, areas of focus for me to make sure he's getting a thorough education. They are: Reading and Writing, Math and Measures, Science and Nature, Arts and Activities, and Compassion and the Craft. Compassion and the Craft probably sounds like every pagan-fearing parent's worst nightmare--but it is mostly about ethics, values, compassion, good citizenship, and being mindful in the world.

This month, in addition to the work we did each day at home, Graeme also participated in some outside events. He's enrolled in a preschool skills class at Gymboree for two hours a week where he gets to glue googly eyes onto things and jump around a play gym in his socked feet. He took a course at the local nature preserve, "Little Pioneers", where they tromped around in the woods for two hours a week and learned about the lifeways, conservation, and habitat of some area wildlife like skunks, turtles, opossums, snakes, ants, and frogs. He also just finished up the course year in Preballet I (a 45 minute class each week) with his spring dance recital. As always, we met up with our homeschooling group for some social and learning time, too.

For the past month, we've been working on an animal unit. My main objective, from an animal perspective, was to teach him the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates (or reinforce the notion as we'd taught it last year) and to teach him the general characteristics of the five (main) categories of vertebrates: amphibian, bird, fish, mammal, and reptile. We read books about animals and did all sorts of assorted animal worksheets. Not everything was about animals--but I tried to tie the concept in to animals for fun. We learned about map-reading with animals, the concept of graphs (how many pets does Joe have? how many pets does Sally have?), even the majority of our addition and subtraction worksheets had some contrived animal hook. The idea of the focused unit, at this age, is really just to keep me entertained. :)

We have had a wonderful time with it, though. Over the month, Graeme fulfilled the requirements to have our yard certified as a National Wildlife Foundation "Backyard Habitat" and got the certificate in his name to proudly prove it. We've added strategic brush piles, feeders, and now our new bird bath to increase the value of our suburban plot to local wildlife. We've seeded a big bed in the back yard with a colorful mix of bird and butterfly-attractive wildflowers. He fashioned a 'butterfly bar' to feed fruit-loving butterflies, hornets, and other animals and then made the food to stock it. Graeme's learned a bit about animal tracking (black bear, raccoon, opossum, skunk, turkey, gray wolf, great blue heron, and whitetailed deer tracks, specifically). We've had animal art projects and he's watched some videos about animals from the arctic to the orient.

On a more general front, Graeme's been working on his handwriting, his spelling, and his abilities in single-digit addition and subtraction the most. Any chance I had to convince him to write more--I did. :) This usually took the shape of crossword puzzles, secret codes, competitive write-the-word-I-say spelling bees, and greeting cards and notes to each other.

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Graeme's handmade metamorphosis poster--I helped him cut out some of the items since his scissor skills aren't great, but he drew and designed everything.

More images of his work under the cut... )

I've also made it a point to record the books that we're reading together every day. (Though who knows how many books Graeme is reading during his hours on the library floor with his feet up on the big comfy chair!) (I'm being massively unfair (and lazy) by only noting the authors, not the illustrators.) Some of our favorites this month have been:

Earth Mother (Ellen Jackson)
Earth Mother and Her Children (Sibylle von Olfers)
Elephant Prince: Story of Ganesh (Amy Noveski)
Forest Child (Marni McGee)
The Mother's Day Mice (Eve Bunting)
Our Family Tree (Lisa Westberg Peters)
Rabbit's Song (S.J. Tucker and Trudy Herring)
Room on the Broom (Julia Donaldson)
Something from Nothing (Phoebe Gilman)
Strega Nona Meets Her Match (Tomie dePaola)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (William Steig)
Too Many Fairies (Margaret Read MacDonald)
The Trouble with Dragons (Debi Gliori)
Ugly Vegetables (Grace Lin)
When the Earth Wakes (Ani Rucki)
Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak)
~~

As of yesterday, we've moved on to a Money unit. I anticipate a lemonade stand in Graeme's future! :)

Graeme, reading over my shoulder, says: "In my future? Me, a lemonade stand?"

Guess the cat's out of the bag on that one, huh? :D
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mlp witch)
Slowly, but surely, I'm making progress getting ready to vend at the My Little Pony Fair. I've bought a table the exact size of the vending tables so I can rehearse my set-up. My current plan is to build some foam core risers to display as many ponies as I can. I can't bring it on the plane, so I think I'll figure out the dimensions, test build one, and then plan to arrive in Orlando a day early so I can buy the materials I need to make an identical one there in my hotel room.

I dug through everything I have yesterday to make a rough count. I have about five shoeboxes filled with small accessories that need to be individually bagged, labeled, and priced. I also have about 378 ponies, at present, that I plan to bring to sell. Less than 200 of those have been cleaned, and only 125 have been given inventory numbers and logged. I have an enormous amount of restoration and months of hair conditioning that needs to be done between now and July. It's kinda crazy. On top of that, I'm still actively buying ponies, so by the time of the fair I expect to be vending *at least* 500 ponies on 5' x 30" of table. (Not to mention getting everything I need into suitcases and bringing three family members along with me.) It is fun to work on but also a bit 0_o. :D

I guess my next step is to design the foam core build, whip out my x-acto knife skills, and see how many ponies I can accommodate at a time that way. I also need to find a good place to buy pre-strung paper price tags and small ziplock bags for the accessories.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mlp mail)
Instead of talking about my rough week, I thought I'd rather ramble a bit about My Little Pony. Feel free to skip if you aren't a collector as well.

Vending at the Fair, Adding to my Collection, and Remembering What I Had as a Child )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (bunny)
It has been a happy (and splurgey) mail week. Yesterday, my box from Amazon came with the three print books of [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden's that I didn't have. I'm especially excited as I hadn't read Cage the Darlings or One Solstice Night from her Elora Bishop pen name in e-reader format, either. I read the first couple paragraphs of One Solstice Night aloud to Daniel straight out of the box--it was so charming and entertaining. I'm really looking forward to catching up on them.

I also got my box from The Fable Tribe's latest update. I'd sorta gone with the 'one of everything' mentality since there were so many new product types being debuted. I bought one of their floral crowns, which is all ivory and coral and bronzey brown and ideal for my auburn hair. I got a set of gold glitter Pixie Stars, a mini shrine, and two of the Glamourkin'd Faerie Foundlings figures. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the packages and saw how small and dainty everything was. Etsy descriptions with measurements don't mean much to me and from the pictures, I expected the Pixie Stars to be almost Glamourkin-sized and the Foundlings, I really had no idea. The little fawn I got is tiny. A-freakin-dorably so. He and the simplicity bunny fit so beautifully on my home and family themed window altar. I had no idea how many more I actually have room for! :D I knew the mini-shrine would be small, but I didn't appreciate how small it is. It makes the detailing that much more lovable. I'm thrilled.

It is kinda like an animal rescue story. I bought everything because of how great it looked in the photos online and because I believe in the cause but now I'm here to show you the photos of the happy rescues at home, adored and animated, magicked by their surroundings and the comfort of being wanted and loved and home safe and now mine. Everything is just *so* happy!

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More photos under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
How did I not know and why did nobody tell me?! Since last year's release of [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden's The Dark Wife, I've daydreamed about adding her books to my library, all alphabetized and official-like. There is absolutely nothing, with the exception possibly of attending my son's dance recital, that has the sort of swelling pride joy, thrill, and rightness with the world than seeing the books of friends on my shelves. I have, and love, [livejournal.com profile] lathriel's The Poppet and the Lune. [livejournal.com profile] radshaun, my best friend from high school, has copies of his The Deathday Letter shelved between Marguerite Henry and Eva Ibbotson. I have two copies of The Dark Wife--one signed by Sarah to me and the other signed by her generically for that day I meet someone who simply must receive my spare copy.

I'm not against ebooks, but neither do I love them. Daniel bought me a Kindle as a surprise birthday gift back in October and I've only charged and used it this week for the first time. I don't mind reading webpages, newspapers, journals electronically but I want physical copies of books. I don't want to see a digital photograph of something Graeme made in ceramics--I want the misshapen coil pot itself! I don't want to view my friends' publishing efforts--I want to hug them and stack them and alphabetize them and plant them on park benches and slip them into book exchange boxes around town. I want them to have substance and to live, live as only a print book can.

So, color me completely shocked to be toodling around on Amazon, buying Crumbs and Far for this new Kindle thingy and discovering that Sarah actually has more print books than just The Dark Wife. (I'd think I'd have known this. WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS?! Did you know this?)

I did some remedying of the situation. For $28, free shipping, I will soon receive huggable, autographable, shelvable copies of:
* Hallow's Eve: A Halloween Fairy Tale
* Cage the Darlings
and
* One Solstice Night
~*~

So, in other news from the ladies of the purple shuttered cottage, The Fable Tribe, their new shop on etsy, had a huge update last night. They unveiled a bunch of new products--little sparkly animal 'faerie foundling' figurines, floral crowns and hair flowers, a rainbow of glitterful star bobby pins, shrines and stamped clay altar pieces, and even large Glamourkin wall plaques. I watched some of the update as it happened and then ultimately went to sleep and revisited the shop at 4:00am when Elena woke up to nurse. Thanks to my phone and some impulse purchasing, I ended up with five of their new treasures. :D I got:

The Fable Tribe
This fairy crown to wear for Midsummer.

The Fable Tribe
"Embody Peace" Faerie Foundling

The Fable Tribe
"Cherish the Simple Things" Faerie Foundling

The Fable Tribe
Gold Pixie Stars

The Fable Tribe
Magic Mini Shrine
~~

If you bought anything, what did you pick up? :) I'm most excited about the foundlings and tucking them onto my windowsills with my vases of seaglass and other little treasures. That's become my altar to family and our home here.

Media List

Mar. 4th, 2012 04:16 pm
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
I've been watching...
Robin Hood (BBC) Season 3: Episodes 5, 6, & 7
Downton Abbey Season 2: All Episodes
Dog Town Season 1: Episodes 1, 3, & 5
Sense & Sensibility (BBC) (2008)
Northanger Abbey (2007)

Movies
The Help (2011) <---Easily one of the best movies I've ever seen, if not *the* best movie I've ever seen.

and reading...
ElfQuest Graphic Novel Compilations #4, 5, and 6
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (peace goddess)
photo-41


Most of you probably already know, but the creative and spiritual powerhouses behind Glamourkin have launched a new store on Etsy, The Fable Tribe to sell a greater variety of their handiwork. I was lucky earlier this month to get one of the first of their Spoon Glamourkins. Lucky, because I would have never bought one on my own.

(That's daring and shameful to admit of my best friends' work, yes? ;) I'll tell you why.)

I'm no fan of spoon crafts. Spoons drilled and marketed as clanking wind chimes or bent into awkward, uncomfortable spoon bangle bracelets disappoint me. I think the spoon is a perfected form all by itself. It is no more improved by being warped and twisted and repurposed than my great-grandmother's antique wedding dress would be improved by being cut into a hundred square dinner napkins. I am adamantly anti-spoon art. In my mind, spoons already are art.

So, you see, I would have never bought one of the Glamourkin spoon pendants out of my spoon-art prejudice and I would have never known what I was missing. The pendant I have, like all Glamourkins, has a spiritual richness and resonance that speaks to me. The color is astonishingly vibrant and jewel-like, flashing and sparking in the light, but the feel of it is mesmerizing. The weight and worry-stone smoothness of the bowl, resting against my heart on a long chain, the slick warmth of the epoxy under my thumb, the energy of all the hands that held it, all the life of the foods it carried, glowing comfortingly in an aura around the worn silver. It is perhaps the most magical item I've ever gotten from Glamourkin, in years of loyal patronage, and I would have dismissed it from the start, had I never seen one or carried one in person, as simply not-for-me.

Now I'm biding my time until I can afford one in that outrageously, joyously sparkle silver or gold. I can admit when I'm wrong--and I was wrong. Sometimes, sometimes, it turns out that the spoon can be improved upon and given a new, higher purpose in life. Once other people start to see and feel and experience these new Glamourkins in person, I know they won't be hanging around the shop very long.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mathdumb)
Tickets for the 2012 My Little Pony Fair go on sale tomorrow morning at 9am EST. Each year the Fair moves to a different city and this year it is in the (very accessible) world of Orlando, Florida. It is on July 7th and 8th at the Rosen Plaza Hotel and promises more My Little Pony stuff than you've ever seen in your life. I'll be vending there with Daniel and the kids. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
I have gotten some good recommendations from reading [livejournal.com profile] wanderlustlover's media consumed posts over the years. I thought I'd start something similar to open conversations about some of the things I am discovering. :)

Television
Robin Hood (BBC) 3.3, 3.4
This is my first time watching Robin Hood. I blazed through the first two seasons rather quickly during nursing and naptime sessions but have slowed down quite a bit with season three.

The Vampire Diaries 3.14, 3.15
Halfway through the third season and I'm still quite content with the show, the writing, the characters, and the pace. I appreciate the nods to the fans, like in the most recent episode when someone pointed out how 'annoying' it is that everyone always trips over themselves to save Elena--often with tragic consequences to everyone else. In the original trilogy, Elena was this golden child, up on a pedestal, and you had to wonder as a reader if she deserved that kind of treatment. In the show, too, you wonder how much any one girl could possibly be worth.

Movies
Persuasion (1995)
This is an old favorite of mine. The steadfast and reliable heroes always get me--so Captain Wentworth is a go-to for when I'm feeling low.

From Prada to Nada (2011)
I would have never watched this based on the title alone, but then I read that it was a somewhat faithful modern adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. It was absolutely endearing. The Marianne character was a bit snobbier than I like to imagine, but the whole thing overall was a big, cheerful, comfortingly Austen tale.

Books
Granddad's Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood
This illustrated children's book is wonderful. I discovered it by happy accident browsing in the clearance section of Half Price Books the other day when I was waiting for the books I'd brought in for sale to be evaluated. A boy's grandfather explains how everything on or part of the earth prays. Rivers pray, sparrows pray, people pray.

Each living thing gives
its life to the beauty of
all life, and that gift is
its prayer


I cried in the bookstore reading it and hope to find a copy at the library sometime soon to read it to Graeme. It isn't pagan, per se, but it does acknowledge the divine nature of all creation and animates the inanimate and allows the boy to find his grandfather (and peace) in the world's song after his death.

The Lion and the Mouse by Bernadette Watts
Such a fantastic take on Aesop's fable. The little mouse, because of love and confidence and hard work, saves the lion from a trap. As an environmental tale, it is an inspiring way of telling Graeme that he shouldn't believe people who tell him he is too little to make a difference. Indeed, of all the animals in the jungle, only the mouse was able to save the lion--though all tried.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.


~*~

I'm grateful for the webbed way the world works. I wished for produce, fresh fruits and vegetables, and they began to appear here and there. Without spending a dime, they rolled in to supplement our pantry at the end of the month. We hiked and were given apples, we volunteered and were rewarded with pounds of grapes that others said they couldn't use, we asked a question and walked away with day-old breads handmade and wholesome. I told my son, "I'm sorry, we don't have any oranges" and he said, "Yes we do! I know where they are!" and there, in a forgotten bowl in a closed-off room, they were. I can never predict how the Universe will meet my needs nor how I will be meeting others' needs around me, but somehow it does and I do and together, beautifully, things get better for all.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
"We have never wanted to be alone. But today, we are alone. We are more fragmented and isolated from one another than ever before. Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes it as 'a radical brokenness in all of existence.' We move at frantic speed, spinning out into greater isolation. We seek consolation in everything except each other. The entire world seems hypnotized in the wrong direction--encouraging us to love things rather than people, to embrace everything new without noticing what's lost or wrong, to choose fear instead of peace. We promise ourselves everything except each other. We've forgotten the source of true contentment and well-being."


~Margaret J. Wheatley in Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future


Today, I am especially thankful for the people in my life who generously lend inspiration and solace, love and encouragement, understanding and kindness. Because of you, I am never alone. Thank you for showing me the value of immaterial riches and pushing me to be better than I think myself capable.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)
On September 30th, [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin had their marriage formally and legally recognized by the state of New York. I'd missed out on their first wedding with Graeme as a newborn, so it was an honor and a joy and an unexpected second-chance that I was not only able to witness this (amazingly beautiful and sparkle-riffic) ceremony but to also participate as a bridemaid. Graeme, their goddess-son was asked to be the ring bearer. Summing the experience of this past week in a post is nearly impossible!

I realized on the plane ride home that watching Jenn and Sarah marry is the happiest day of my life. At my wedding, though I was a being of lightness and joy and sheer glowing and giddy euphoria, it still couldn't match how I felt when the minister pronounced, by the power invested in him by the great state of New York, that my dear and beloved friends were legally wife and wife. My wedding was a given. When I met Daniel, that first date, I knew I would marry him. No outside obstacle could keep the two of us apart once we'd found each other in the world. There's a calm serenity and certainty in that. With Jenn and Sarah, there were no such guarantees. They grew up in a country where same-sex marriages did not exist and even today, what they were granted is possible in only six states. It feels like a miracle, Love walking in the world, and a weight whose strain I didn't appreciate is gone from my shoulders. I do not have to worry about them anymore. What my friends, my dear family, that beloved beloved pair has now cannot be levered apart from the outside. They can spend the rest of their lives dreaming what to do together instead of daring to hope they can even be together. I'm flying with joy for them. Their wait for justice and acknowledgment is over.

I have very few photos from the festivities. Some gorgeous photos have been coming out from Laura Vasilion ([livejournal.com profile] twelvepetals) of Vasilion Photography who was the official photographer of the wedding. For example, she took this one!

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~*~

That said, onto the details of the week, the ceremony and more photos behind the cut! )

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Sarah and Jenn, I wish the two of you a long lifetime of love and shared dreams and bountiful blessings and endless possibilities together. <3 <3 <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (peace goddess)
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This lunar month, I'm studying the essence of White as part of my year with [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices. The work puts me into an interesting position because I know, before I've even gotten to the heart of the month's work, that White is one of those colors that calls me, that I serve already through Isis. I know that the balance between Black (and my work with Death) and with White (and my work with Isis) are central to my spiritual place. I know that so much of my Libran energy is about balancing those two essences, those two Truths, those two footholds in the world. I'm not sure where it will go but I've got the moon to discover that.

I don't know much about White as the author of Temple of the Twelve perceived/sculpted Her. I know within the story the main theme seemed to be innocence or purity reclaimed. In a WitchVox article she wrote about the Colors, [livejournal.com profile] elfinecstasy suggested those who serve White may "see grace, and angels, and...perhaps see [themselves] as crystalline at [their] center". The accompanying workbook to the first volume of the series suggests that those serving White might be judges, mediators, or philosophers. So I'd had a couple very logical, thought-filled days with White but none of it felt alive to me or flipped that insight switch of mine. How did this relate to me? What could I pull from the material that hadn't been said? That's the part of my spiritual process that just takes time and attention and a little bit of serendipity. Things have to percolate with me.

~*~

Three little snippets, parts of the stew... )

So that's where I've been. I was driving in the car and thinking about water and needing to Windex the inside of Graeme's window, smudged by little fingers, and Isis' voice clear as day said,

Do not close the Book of your Life. Only Death can do that.

Every day, a new white page. Every day, the chance to Create something. Every day, open to change everything about myself.

"I AM" is not static and yet, so often, I treat it as if it is. It's like I'm ready to write the back copy on my Life's Book. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a witch and priestess. I am afraid of drowning. I am out of shape. I am unhappy with some things in my life. I am inspired to do more to connect in my community. I am the victim of x, y, and z. I am certain of these things: _____________________. I am lonely. I am tired. I am disorganized.

That only applies if I keel over and die right here. In ten minutes, ten days, ten years--all of those strong I AM statements could have changed. I do not get to close the Book of my Life. I do not get to title it, come up with chapter headings, or even choose the photo for the front. I certainly don't get the job of summarizing what it says on the back. It is a fluid process and everyday is a new day to Create. I could choose to reclaim my innocence, renounce my fears, restructure my lifestyle, rename my beliefs. I could do anything with this perfect, unblemished, White page of new day before me.

There's no obligation to drag my "I AM"s with me. I don't have to be pigeon-holed into a life because it is what I know best. I don't have to write on the old pages--I get a new one every day (every moment, if I wanted). Fresh chances and a wide-open horizon of White.

I can never close the book. I don't know how it will end. I might wish or expect certain outcomes but I could have everything turn upside down today. Tomorrow, I start writing again through my actions, my intentions, and my connections. I toss the thread or wield the scissors. I Create or I Destroy.

White asks me to create myself anew each day. I am never too far down the path or hopeless, stained, scarred, irredeemable. I just flip to a new page and begin, anew, unblemished.

I AM is sacred, yes, but it can change at any moment. What new I AMs will I create today?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
IMG_0838


On my last day working with Yellow, I still don't have resolution to my housing limbo. I don't know if we'll have to move or not. I've realized that's part of the lesson--that inner sunshine, that safety net of daily practice, outreach, and gratitude must operate independently from my circumstances. I can't be grateful because things are going swimmingly or because hard times have passed--I have to continue to be grateful during those storms and trials. Yellow is about where I go when things turn hard and how my mind perceives the events in my life.

Everywhere I've looked this month, I've seen yellow flowers. I've bought them for myself at my local grocer and seen a variety of cheerfully bright wildflowers winking at me all over town. They're at the beach, where I've played with my son, and they're cultivated carefully in the bank parking lot, and they're tucked into the woodlands along our daily drives and walks. The blossoms in my own life, with Yellow, are blooming gently as well. We finally joined our local Unitarian Universalist church for services and found a community that welcomes my pagan beliefs and nurtures my drive for philanthropic work, belonging, and my need to be needed. It serves my husband and my son equally well. It's a strong thread in my safety net of sunshine. The homeschooling group I've joined is a great mom-resource for me and my new swap community here on LiveJournal is off to a warm and wonderful start. I'm a lifelong loner so this is fairly new territory for me to be so social and interconnected with others.

The final sermon of my U.U.-infused Yellow Month was about abundant thinking. Do we feel the warmth of our abundance every day or the chilling darkness of scarcity? Are we content and secure or do we feel that we've slipped behind in a race for resources? Do we cheer the successes and joys of those around us or do we harbor resentment and jealousy that they got something good and we did not? Are we trusting community to hold us or are we fighting an endless battle of survival alone? Do we live with hearts open or shielded and shelled? That frantic scarcity mindset, the basic belief that there is not enough to go around and so each individual (and maybe their loved ones) must compete against everyone and everything else to get theirs, to survive, has so damaged our communal and tribal lines. It divides people and divides groups. There are "us" and "them" divisions all over the place. With perceived lack, there isn't enough water, food, jobs, money, security, happiness, rights, attention, fame, beauty, talent, nor even salvation enough to go around. We think some will have it and others will not and we scramble, we scrabble, we compete--we ration, we hoard, we grasp. And it's killing us from spirit on out to physical reality.

There is enough to go around if we start to consider the difference between "enough for me" and "enough for we". There is enough abundance in the world if I can live without locking the bomb shelter doors behind me, if I can 'relax the reflex of grab', 'to love and not to hold'. The first step, beyond gratitude and the peaceful mindset of abundance and contentment, is to reconnect with community. What I've failed in is that I'm living as an island when I could be a strong and supportive, supported part of that vast tapestry of humanity. I can trust community to hold me when I need it and I can provide support when it is needed of me. When did the idea of becoming an individual become so central to the society I live in? When was it that neighbors could no longer pop next door for a borrowed cup of sugar, a shared treehouse, a communal lawn mower? When did it become so shameful to not be able to stand on your own two feet, alone, when all along what everyone has needed is the give and take, contributions and honest needs, of a community acting together? Together, if we expect abundance and trust there is enough and give and share and see what we have instead of what we lack, couldn't we thrive instead of just survive?

I came into the month feeling no bit of Yellow in my core. I couldn't relate to it. I've realized, though, that I couldn't relate because it is inherent to me. I haven't had to struggle and work with Yellow lessons. It is one of my super-powers and perhaps the one, more than anything, that has made me who I am.

The question is--what radical, life-changing things could I do with it?

Wendell Berry's poem, The Wisdom to Survive, was read during the service. I share it here. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
11. Earth-rise


Five weeks ago, we went as a family to visit the Unitarian Universalist church in our new neighborhood for the first time. We'd long hoped it would serve us as a center of social action, community spirit, and spiritual reflection but it has well surpassed my expectations. My purse is crammed with service bulletins, lettered over with hastily transcribed notes and quotes from the speakers, as I've been so driven to share my experiences there and, at the very least, to spend time better absorbing the wisdom I've found in such diverse and compassionate company.

My religious upbringing, what I'd heard about UU, and the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism below the cut... )
~*~

I go onto NBC's website and watch their Making a Difference videos because I am so drawn to witnessing and being inspired by the philanthropy and generosity of others and I cry at Hallmark ads and I'm just generally a mess when it comes to the topic of homelessness and hunger and food deserts and children without pajamas. You know me, so each week during the service I'm crying and sniffling and singing and writing notes at the speed of light to keep up with everything that can go into the soup to make me better, to encourage me to do more and be more and love more. Daniel is next to me, squeezing my hand at the parts that slay him and borrowing tissues from me. It has just been really, really an awesome resource to find. I never knew enough about the U.U.

The building is an organic, cave-like thing with small patterns of stained-glass petals sunk into the thick, earthy walls. The glass reflects the beauty of nature (bony fish, snowflakes, rainbows, trees, oceans, rock strata) as well as the concept of humanity's search for Truth. There is a rocket ship and planets, so many beautiful things and nothing of any recognizable religious symbolism or significance. It is all about nature, humanity, and the Universe. It's an amazing space conceived by members during their protests of the Vietnam War and the full-on rush of the 1960s Space Race.

Sculptured Wall

I'm just spiraling around and around and not getting where I wanted or intended to go with this post. :) I've spent too long not writing about this part of my life and now there feels like so much catching up to do! You may never read every word of this post--but I'll have at least put it to memory here for myself. :)

Here's some examples of the past few Sundays at the U.U. )

It has become a remarkable, significant part of my spiritual journey--of my paganism and my individual Path towards Truth. I'm glad I didn't let the word 'church' continue to color my impressions and taint the message of the place for me.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink heart birds)
As I'm sure most of you reading this know, my dear friends [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin are working feverishly to raise the money necessary to put on their wedding next month. If you'd like to help them or just treat yourself to something lovely, you can buy something from one of their cottage industries: Glamourkin book-based jewelry, Garden of Antheia fabric flower adornments, or Sarah's e-book and print publications.

Also, if you're a fan of foodie perfume oils, our mutual friend [livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan is selling a limited edition perfume on her Etsy shop with all profits going towards Sarah & Jenn's wedding fund. It's very nom. :)

~*~

So, in the interest of having the best shopping day ever helping these ladies out, I went on a bit of a spree solemn philanthropic mission the other day. I bought a bunch of Glamourkin pendants, some hair flowers, *and* a second bottle of the Sweetest Day perfume. My Glamourkins arrived and I'm just so in love with them! :) I bought some as gifts and some for myself--but these are mine.

I know some of you bought your own the last few weeks--I'd love to see what you got and hear what it was about that one that called to you. :)

Glamourkin
I love this Beauty and the Beast illustration, I connect with images of redheads as heroines, and I believe, absolutely, that love is not only the oldest but the most powerful magic.

Glamourkin
Strangely, two weeks in a row now, we've had the same reading in our Unitarian Universalist church service. It so moved me, I wrote part of it into the margins of the service program. It reads, in part, We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.....All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us. I love that image of community calling us to our best selves, of need calling us to our best selves, and so this pendant was absolutely perfect to crystallize and remember that teaching forever.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
0000bear

These two songs are at the top of my iTunes most-played list. I'd consider them personal anthems and insights into what makes me tick. (Gratitude, perspective, keep-goingness.)

1) Swim by Jack's Mannequin


2) Life is Sweet by Natalie Merchant
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
0000bear

I've answered many a question about my favorite books. I love Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon, Anne McCaffrey's DragonFlight and Walter Farley's Black Stallion. I came to paganism, or realized that my hard-won spiritual beliefs weren't as individual and uncommon as I thought at least, thanks to Kevin Sullivan's The Crystal Handbook and Scott Cunningham's Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner. I survived my late adolescent and teen years thanks to X-Men and Catwoman comic books and the paranormal romances of L.J. Smith. I love every wonderful word that Jane Austen ever wrote. I'd wholeheartedly recommend the work of Christopher Penczak to any current or potential magicworker.

But that'd all be repetition so I'll tell you something new by choosing four books that really speak to me as a pagan parent.

1) Celebrating the Great Mother: Earth Honoring Activities for Parents and Children by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw

2) Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill

3) Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
(Such a gorgeous, thoughtful storybook for children.)

4) The Next Place by Warren Hanson
(Another richly illustrated storybook, this pagan-friendly book explores 'the next place' we go after we die and what it might be like. If I had the money or the means, I'd buy a copy for every one of my friends regardless of their religious beliefs or if they had children. It is thought-provoking, colorful, and comforting.)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
It didn't take long after my first post on Yellow to start to get some traction with the concept of the color, to have an insight that got my feet firmly planted beneath me for the month. I went back to Temple of the Twelve and read the section where Caroline worked with Lady Yellow. She observed the embodied color for quite some time as she did rather cheerful, nurturing, outdoorsy sorts of things. She was active and involved in all sorts of things. Then, unexpectedly, Caroline was hurtled into the abyss of depression and helplessness and hopelessness. That's when I 'got it'.

I had this image of that abyss, that bottomless, lightless trap of despair that anyone could trip into in life and over mine, a safety net of woven, golden-yellow sunshine. I could hover over the pit, get a really good look of it, but the qualities of Yellow were protecting me from ever falling in. This protective net, I could see, was something I weave continuously as part of my daily practice. The strong threads of bright sunshine are spun from daily gratitude, taking care of my needs, making connections with positive people, doing work that feels important to me, finding humor in trying circumstances, choosing to Love instead of to Fear, getting outside into fresh breezes, soul-scouring sunshine, and renewing rainstorms. When I'm struggling emotionally or spiritually, I take time out to watch old movies, call my friends, write in my journal, eat natural/nutritious foods, exercise, get more sleep, take bubble baths. That helps tremendously but I know that the things I do on all the days when the abyss isn't threatening me are what really protect me from hurtling down into it on the days when it does. That safety net has to be there, in full repair, long before I ever need it.

I don't think much about Yellow, nor did I feel it was a color I resonated with, because I don't have a lack of it. It isn't something I have big swings with. It is always there to support me because of the small things I do each day. I was raised in a family where the net was important and everyone knew how to protect and produce their own through their efforts, their thoughts, and the company they kept.

The month, through seeming coincidence, has become wildly all about community for me and building new, supportive, positive community ties. I was accepted, after quite an application process, into a small group of homeschoolers in my area that have children my son's age. (Our first meeting was a tremendous success and I look forward to having all these new mom-friends in my life.) My husband and I finally attended local Unitarian Universalist church's service in our new hometown and found a sanctuary for our beliefs, our family, our desire to contribute and belong that supports my pagan faith. And finally, after years of being away from mail swaps, I created a new community [livejournal.com profile] starblessedswap that I'm filled with enthusiasm, hope, and plans for. It all feels wonderful, light and love, and connected and doubly so now that I'm visually, viscerally aware of what it is doing in my life, weaving tight that safety net of sunshine.

IMG_0609
Here I am, with my son, weaving part of that net by running through the sprinklers, shrieking, on a hot summer day. :)

I hope the rest of you are finding the month's lessons fulfilling. <3

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windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
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December 2015

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