windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)

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)

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)
Day Four of trying to post something and/or access LJ. Here goes!


So far, this has been the biggest mental challenge of the meme for me. I found something like 17 definitions for "want" in the dictionary ranging from wishes to deficiencies. My initial reaction, though, is that I want for nothing in my life. I would like to have more of some things--more financial security, more time, continued health--but I lack nothing vital. I have access to water, food, and shelter. I have loved ones and companionship. I am sound of mind and body.

Secondly, it occurs to me after a few days of thinking about the nature of 'wants' that if I really, sincerely wanted something I would be taking active steps to attain it. I'd be saving up or making compromises or planning my way to it. Saying "I want to win the lottery" but never buying tickets, for instance, is just me saying something would be nice and I wouldn't turn it down if it happened to me. "I want to be in better physical shape" without making a commitment to the diet and exercise it takes to achieve that is again, insincere. It seems lazy--like me making a grand order off the Universe's menu without being willing to go into the kitchen and cook it myself. Not a want but something I'd take and devour if someone else handed it to me, if it cost me nothing to have.

What does that leave me beyond those big, humanitarian wishes for other people, animals, or the world at large? Do those count as personal 'wants'? If so, doesn't everyone want those, by default, rendering this question entirely impersonal? Do I really need to tell you that I wish for world peace, environmental restoration, animal welfare, universal kindness and food for all? That's not something I'm lacking but something the entire world, as a whole, is lacking.

Maybe I've over-thought this--but I'm an unabashed air sign.

I don't have seven wants. I can't even think of one that meets my criteria. I have everything I need and I'm enormously grateful for it.
windinthemaples: (kind)
For the past two years (2009 and 2008), I've spent time looking back over my journal, my photographs, and my calendar to remember just what it was the past year delivered into my life. It is a recap and an act of acknowledgment and gratitude. This year I have just as many things to be thankful for. Thank you, 2010, for delivering all of these moments of unexpected clarity, unconditional love, challenge and perfectly imperfect existence to me and allowing me to spend this year with those who enrich my life so thoroughly. But seriously, 2010, you kicked my butt and raked me over the coals and while I wouldn't want to trade these experiences, I'd rather not repeat them. Okay? :)


January was such a difficult month. We'd driven down, over the Christmas break, to South Florida to begin our experiment in snowbirding for the winter. I got food poisoning on the drive down and we were forced to cancel a trip to Disney World. Once ensconced at my mom's vacant condo, that food poisoning morphed into the worst illness I've ever experienced. I was sick for weeks and nothing seemed to shake it. We realized, a bit too late, that Daniel realistically had to travel 5 days a week to keep up with work demands, so we got to spend very little time with him. My aunt and cousin, who became our new neighbors, never wanted to visit (especially with me being mysteriously ill), so I was profoundly alone. And sick.

A few weeks in, I woke up with the worst back/ovary pain of my life. I was pretty sure I was dying. Thankfully, that was Daniel's night of the week to be with us and he got me to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with a severe urinary tract infection and a kidney stone about the size of a marble. Clearing up the UTI eliminated my pain and I didn't have the support I needed to go about surgery for my kidney stone, so I stepped firmly into 'necessary denial' and went about my life as best I could. I hoped maybe the stone would magically disintegrate or lie dormant for years. (It didn't.)

There were pluses to a month in Florida. Graeme flourished under the warm sun and wide horizons of a suburban, outdoor existence. We played at the beach and the park. He rode his tricycle along the palm-lined sidewalks. We went to visit the animals recuperating at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. We taught him how to play tee ball in the yard (our first experience with a yard!) and he got a baby bed and slept alone for the first time. Everything about him glowed. His vocabulary began to accelerate dramatically. He was deeply happy.


I tried, in vain, to get myself untangled from a mess with PayPal over my inadvertent use of a "Donate" button to raise money to buy pajamas for The Pajama Program. It never worked. I couldn't escape the red tape but in the process my efforts to collect and donate 500 warm pajamas was derailed--deflated. It was an emotional defeat I just didn't get over easily.

A Month-by-Month Recap with Photos Under the Cut )

What in the world will 2011 hold?

I can't imagine.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
I dream of turning the tide from indifference to compassion-- swimming upstream through people going about their business until they notice my destination, my intention, and swing wide to join me.

I dream of bringing children home, opening the door to their very own bedroom, opening my heart, opening my arms and saying, "I've waited my entire life to find you, to love you, to adopt you into our family. Welcome home, dearheart."

I dream of bringing my children with me around the world and supporting them in their vast and varied interests.

I dream of a life of philanthropy. Putting shoes on feet, food on plates, books in hands, school supplies in backpacks, warm pajamas on children, smiles on faces, hope in hearts.

I dream of buying damaged/farmed/cleared land and restoring it, replanting it to be a haven for wildlife, simple living, and permaculture experimentation.

I dream of having a big, beautiful home where the guest rooms stand waiting and there are always wildflowers or evergreen boughs in vases on tables.

I dream of organizing and running a little storefront. Something sweet and lovely, where I can make lists and tie bows and punch keys on my cash register.

I dream of living a long, healthy life surrounded by those I love and being able to express my own love, devotion, and life's philosophy through service and kind acts.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
1) I believe that all creation is a reflection of the creator. Masculine and feminine, creative and destructive, ever-recycling forms of energy and embodiment. More than that, I believe that all creation is *part* of the creator. Every thing, every body is sacred and divine. I share the same essence of eternal connection and Love with every tree, every human, every fish, every breath of air, every sunrise, every animal, everything that has and is and will ever be and even that which is never expressed here and present, physically, upon the Earth.

2) I believe in the reincarnation of the Soul as a form of lifetimes long learning and spiritual evolution.

3) I believe that we are challenged, every day, to choose to act out of Love instead of acting, instinctually, out of Fear. I believe that pride, anger, guilt, impatience, rage, annoyance, brutality, envy, and other emotions that steal our sense of center and calm are manifestations of hidden Fear and disconnection from the whole.

4) I believe that religions are an arbitrary human construct, invented by humans as a form of social control, reassurance and "us/them" division, but that the philosophical spirituality behind them reveals many great Truths. I do not believe that any one religion, including mine, is right. I want everyone to have the chance to find the path that brings them to a place of Love and compassionate connection with those around them.

5) I believe that all that is, is divine. It follows, for me, that each person is capable of embodying the divine and gently reshaping the reality they live in. I believe that we have access to knowledge and extraordinary abilities from both past lives and between-life states of peace and review. I believe that our minds create our circumstances and that there is magick, yes, but no more powerful magick than gratitude, patience, and optimism. There are no limits, I believe, in the power of Love unleashed, fearlessly, in the world.

6) Likewise, Fear unleashed in the world by broken, lost, disconnected individuals is truly horrific to behold. I believe that war, crime and environmental destruction are symptoms of disconnection from our divine, immortal roots. I do not believe these are our natural states of being, but expressed moments of insane grief, hard-heartedness and wild, irrational fear.

7) I believe that parenting is a sacred duty, the honor of being entrusted to care for and protect another Soul in their most vulnerable state of embodiment.

8) I believe we choose the moment of our rebirths carefully, knowing ahead of time what challenges and burdens our lives will provide us to learn from. I know, though it can be hard to trust, that my Higher Self chose every hard circumstance and loss for me, trusting in our ability, together, to grow through those experiences. So in life, I try to trust, to adapt, and to cheerfully pilot the rough waters and appreciate the moments of sudden sunbeams and steadfast comradery. It all goes back to gratitude for me, which is an extraordinarily transformative off-shoot of Love.

Mine is a personal spirituality which can be best be defined by the motto, "In Gratitude--Peace and Plenty."
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
1. Favorite childhood book?
I inherited my father's old copy of The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craick and absolutely adored it. You can even read it online these days, right here on GoogleReader. There isn't one clear answer for me to this question, so here's the first that came to mind. :)

2. What are you reading right now?
Nothing! I've been unable/unwilling/uninterested in reading since I had my kidney surgery. I'm too focused on the swing from mental stillness to reading/writing astrology reports and back.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None, currently.

4. Bad book habit?
I judge books by their covers.

5. What do you currently have checked out from the library?
Nothing! I returned about ten I Spy books for Graeme last week, though.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. I'm a purist.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One at a time with fiction and a few at a time with non-fiction.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read more YA than I used to because my friends read (and write) so much in the genre.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?):
Smoky and the Feast of Mabon, a pagan children's book by Cat Valente and W. Lyon Martin (illust.) broke my heart. I'd waited for months to see that book come out and found it to be almost incomprehensible, poorly illustrated and entirely uninspired.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?
I was most inspired by A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship With Nature by James William Gibson.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
To a certain extent, I'm pretty adventurous but I won't continue to read anything I don't enjoy in some way. My life's too short to waste leisure time with things I don't like.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Spiritual, self-help, history, anthropology, biography, YA, female-driven sci-fi, distopian

13. Can you read on the bus?
No, I'm too busy trying not to miss my stop!

14. Favorite place to read?
Propped up in bed with a plate of bread and margarine.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'm wary about lending my books out because I'm so particular about the condition I keep them in. Spine creases and paper crinkles make me cringe a little, so if I'm going to lend a book, chances are very good that I'll just give it away entirely.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
It has happened in extreme circumstances, I guess, but I can almost always find a piece of scrap paper or *something* to mark my pages with.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
In certain textbooks, books I was analyzing for class, or inspirational books--I have.

18. Not even with text books?
Yes! Especially in textbooks.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. Though this isn't much of a competition.

20. What makes you love a book?
Lovable, inspiring characters and a sense of escapism.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I'm reading through something that seems relevant to someone I know, I'll often mention it to them once I'm done.

22. Favorite genre?
Science fiction with female leads.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Hmm. I guess I wish I read (and enjoyed) poetry more.

24. Favorite biography?
Black Elk Speaks. Does that count?

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes! I love books, especially, that are geared towards counseling issues.

26. Favorite cookbook?
While it fails, utterly, in being vegan I am captivated by a cookbook that Tasha Tudor illustrated that has such a celebratory, traditional charm called New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook: Receipts for Very Special Occasions from 1968 by a Mary Mason Campbell.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
One inspiring book I read was called God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi by Rabbi Jamie Korngold.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Sourdough bread with margarine.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Hype didn't ruin it but Breaking Dawn, the forth book in the Twilight series, was really bad.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't read professional reviews.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think it is important to give an unbiased opinion of a book, particularly if a review site has nothing "AAAAA+! Great!" reviews for something I hated. I'm stymied now by knowing a few published authors and understanding how devastating and painful a harsh review can be to them.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French or Ancient Egyptian

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?
Probably my physics textbooks. ;)

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
Something on potty training? I don't know. I don't get intimidated by books.

35. Favorite Poet?
...see #23...

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
As a child, I maxed out my limit every week. Now I'm down to about 10 and they are almost all children's books for Graeme.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Sometimes. The most recent was Laurell K. Hamilton's Flirt that my husband brought home thinking I'd read while I was convalescing. I knew I didn't have the stomach for anymore of her bad writing trip! :D

38. Favorite fictional character?
Scarlett O'Hara

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Damon from the Vampire Diaries

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Usually just guidebooks or histories of the place I'm visiting.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
I think I'm in one of those phases right now. It has been a few weeks since I had the mental focus to sit down and read something longer than a newspaper article.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Bible. I tried to be a good Christian as a child, really tried to read it every night before bed, and would start at the beginning of the Bible about every year but I never got much past Exodus.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?
I'm extremely distracted by books in need of further editing.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Black Stallion

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Can't think of anything!

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never! I may start reading the first page, but I never jump ahead or flip through and randomly read a passage.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Bad/nonexistent editing, unkind or immoral main character, gratuitous sexual content

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I used to have my library carefully alphabetized before most of our books and bookshelves went into storage. I'd love to do that again. :)

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
The half of me that likes simplicity loves to give them away. The pack rat voice, however, wants to keep and alphabetize them all into a grand home library!

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?
The Harry Potter series. When something is universally loved, I get suspicious. I'm sure they're enjoyable, but I've been avoiding them deliberately.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Joanna Campbell's The Wild Mustang.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
We were forced to read Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon in high school and it became my favorite book! :)

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
The Forest of Hands and Teeth and its follow-up, The Dead-Tossed Waves. I expected a lot more from such an interesting pitch.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Jane Austen!
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
To those of you who bravely stepped forward and withstood the scorching spotlight of a natal chart interpretation at my hands, you'll see that I value fairness above all. :) So below, under the cut, is a study of my own astrological essence, written as much as possible from the perspective of an outside observer relying solely on astrological evidence. It's me--warts and all.

For those of you who haven't had one done, here's a sample of just what I do with about twenty hours of blood, sweat, and tears. :) :D

witch's stars

A Witch's Stars: The Astrological Essence of Rachel Melcher

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to study and comment upon your natal chart. It has been an honor. I came to astrology, reluctantly, through newspaper horoscopes. I hated the idea that there were only twelve kinds of people in the world and yet couldn't help but feel some sense of identifying with "my sign". True astrology, though, is so much more complex and interesting! So complex, in fact, that the geometry and details of someone's natal chart will not be duplicated for 25,000 years! You are essentially one-of-a-kind and the gifts from the Universe at your birth, your Witch's Stars, are not the same as anyone else's. You are uniquely suited to fill a need in the world, endowed with your own super-powers and set upon the path of your own spiritual evolution. Everything you started this life with is reflected in your natal chart and now the question is--what will you do with it? :)

My Astrological Report--Under the Cut )

windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
(by way of [ profile] willow_cabin, [ profile] rubymulligan, and others. :) )

Outside my window…
the wind is picking up,rattling the palm fronds, and sounding like the ocean.

I am thinking…
today is the day I vacuum, do a few loads of laundry, and finally cook that purple cauliflower from the green market.

I am thankful for…
my life as it is and as it could be and the extraordinary, inspirational, talented people who play a part in it.

From the kitchen…
I can almost hear the plotting of the sugar ants planning their return.

I am wearing…
my pajamas, including my heart spiral "Life is Good" boxers, and my glasses.

I am creating…
scrawled lists and brainstorm pages for my upcoming parenting website.

I am going…
to the library today to pick up books they've ordered for me on garbage, Mother Earth, and subsistence living.

I am reading…
dozens of pagan-appropriate children's picture books. By far, my favorite find so far has been Linda Glaser's (with illustrations by Elisa Kleven) Our Big Home: An Earth Poem.

I am praying…
for guidance in divining and fulfilling my best potential as a human being.

I am hearing…
the murmur of air traffic, tires on wet pavement, and the saw and rustle of wind-tossed trees.

Around the house…
there are a lot of little things demanding my attention. Also, many unexpected bits of crayon and chalk artwork. ;)

One of my favorite things…
is being awake over an hour before my son. Such luxury! Such quiet! :D

A few plans for the rest of the week…
~reuniting with my hubby on Friday night before he leaves again Sunday
~reading more and beginning the writing process for my website plans
~taking the time to work on my overdue Outer Temple homework as well as reading the latest monthly packet from Diana's Grove.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (color couple)
Flashback:  Olympic Peninsula

Five years ago, Daniel and I married. Our friends and family had traveled to Orlando and we exchanged vows with a view of Cinderella's Castle right over the officiant's shoulder. It felt like an homage to our own 'happily ever after' aspirations.

We met in the fall of 2002. Daniel was only a few months away from leaving a job he hated in West Palm Beach, FL. I was dating a string of guys who would never be close friends. I answered a personal ad on Yahoo! because it made me laugh and a month or so later met the man in question for a quick drink. That drink led to dinner and hours of conversation. The next morning, he called me and invited me out to the art museum to take in a photography exhibit. He walked out of work early to go. We were dating.

When he told me he had taken a job in Chicago, I cried the whole drive home. I was devastated. My mom encouraged me to attempt a long-distance relationship and we did--neither one of us wanted to date anyone else. I was back in college and spent every spare weekend and break that I could with him in Chicago. When hurricanes were bearing down on us in Florida, he'd fly down to help secure the house and stock up on supplies. He bought all my tickets, otherwise I'd never have been able to afford the travel. We finally, mutually, admitted our love for each other in a dive bar called the Thirsty Brain and celebrated our giddiness at a corner diner over greasy french fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. That December, for my winter break, he took me to Europe and then home to meet his family. By spring break, we were engaged. I finished my degrees and moved to Chicago in time for New Year's Eve of 2005. On March 5th, we married.

Flashback:  Our Wedding Day

Flashback:  Venice

Daniel still makes me laugh. He is my best friend, my staunchest supporter, and my protector. He never fails. He knows my flaws more than any person on earth and yet still has me up on a pedestal, seeing me as something more than I ever give myself credit for. He's dependable, reliable, trustworthy in a way that I've never experienced before. He is the one running below, holding the kite string, keeping me grounded and safe and yet letting me fly. He is everything, the foundation of our family, and most of all, the love, the companion I'm blessed to have in life.

Happy Anniversary, Love. Here's to the hope for many, many, many more years of love and life together.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mathdumb)
I've spent the past two days watching the first season of Dollhouse, a gift [ profile] rubymulligan enabled me with for Yule. A lot of my friends have told me I needed to watch it, but I was resistant for a long time to the idea of watching Eliza Dushku acting like a sexy librarian and then a sexy waitress and then a sexy arms dealer. It sounded *so* lame. I stand corrected. It is a pretty damn entertaining series. I dare to say it is Whedon's best.

So that, and some new folks on my friends list, and some discussions of books with [ profile] mermaiden and [ profile] willow_cabin has led me to making lists. If you're asking, these are my favorites, my must-watch, must-read, must-hear list. Tell me yours!

Television Favorites
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
The Vampire Diaries
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Tudors

Past Television Favorites
The Muppet Show
The Young Indiana Jones

Favorite Books/Series
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Soulmate by L.J. Smith
Gaia Girls series by Lee Welles
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Circle of Three series by Isobel Bird
The Next Place by Warren Hanson
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Brave Little Parrot by Rafe Martin
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss
The Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant

Favorite Movies
Sense and Sensibility
The Long, Long Trailer
The Muppet Movie
Dangerous Beauty
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Gone With the Wind
Romancing the Stone
Bride and Prejudice
The Princess Bride
Top Gun
How to Marry a Millionaire
Dirty Dancing

Favorite Music
This feels impossible. I think you can't go wrong with Natalie Merchant, U2, Dave Matthews Band, Snow Patrol, Peter Gabriel, Sting or Amanda Palmer.

Especially Natalie Merchant. :D
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
01. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I left Graeme at home with Daniel for a couple weekends; I traveled alone with rental car and hotel and all those grown-up details; I saw the Grand Canyon.

02. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm not really a resolutions kind of girl. I'd say the year exceeded my expectations in all ways. :)

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nobody in my close, daily life but some folks I feel I know fairly well on LiveJournal did.

04. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My across the hall neighbor died unexpectedly last month.

05. What countries did you visit?

Canada and the Bahamas.

More questions, memories, and photos under the cut. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
1. Elaborate on your default icon.
It is a long-armed self-portrait of me, my husband, and my son that we took laying in a giant pile of leaves at the Morton Arboretum this fall. We were having the most perfect day and finding that ocean of leaves to swim in was more fun than anything I could have imagined. I love the photo because it captures us all mid-laugh, mid-roll, and is a perfect little square window into our family life together. :)

2. What's your current relationship status?

Read more... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
[ profile] mermaiden gave me these questions to answer. If you're of a mind to answer some of your own, comment below and I'll whip some up for you. :)

Tell me your perfect day, waking to sleeping. What would you do, who would you see, where would you go? Where would you be in life?

My perfect day is Yule day in the not-too-distant future. I wake up, well-rested, a couple hours before the rest of the household and use that delicious alone-time to check my email and have a quiet breakfast of toast and tea. Once my husband and child(ren) are awake, we're quick to get ready and out the door, where we drive to a food pantry I've had a hand in organizing and running. We spend the whole morning as a family, dispensing canned foods and hugs and heavy boxes of wrapped gifts to the clients. They are all extended family to us.

Daniel takes child(ren) to the park to play and take Solstice photographs while I stay behind to finish a great, inspirational book while soaking in a hot tub. I have plenty of time to reflect on the meaning of Yule and thoughts of what I want to accomplish in the next year. I have solitude in which to dress and annoint myself with a warm, spicy perfume that sings of the season.

We get back together at the house, that beautiful spacious house with all the windows and trees outside. Our friends and family, who live nearby, start arriving with vegan dishes for our Solstice potluck. Music is on the stereo and the whole place fills with the comforting sounds of dishes clinking, children laughing and drumming, and the smart crackle of a fire in the fireplace. We'll spend the afternoon feasting communally and working on cute little crafts with the children. We'll bake and cut spiced dough ornaments for the tree and create birdfeeders, hay stacks, and salt licks as offerings for the animals wintering outside. At some point, we'll all move outside, securely wrapped in warm blankets, for a ritual. I'll have the time to sing a chant and see the eyes of each person in that circle, all beloved friends and family, and plenty of time to soak in the energy of that moment. We'll finally break off on our own to meditate in the last minutes of darkness before sunrise. The children will be snug in bed and everyone will scatter to their own places, singly or in pairs or family units. In this perfect day, I'll find a spot to sit on the dunes at the edge of the sea, completely warm and cocooned in my blankets, and I will watch as the sky transforms from darkness to that glorious pink and gold of daybreak. I will sing to the Sun and feel joy and gratitude to my very bones.

I'm going to cheat and extend my perfect day to a day and a half.

After sunrise, I'll rejoin my friends and family indoors where we can be warm and safe as we join our sleeping children for a few hours of rest. We'll wake up to the smell of a late breakfast cooking and the sounds of caroling from the livelier folks in our group. We'll all open gifts, curled up under the tree with all its dear little handmade ornaments, and share, if we choose, sacred moments from our time alone the night before. The children will run around the house whooping and leaping, handmade capes tied around their shoulders, sharing their new gifts with each other. Everyone is invited to stay as long as they like, maybe even days of gentle community and celebration.

What one thing in this lifetime do you want to accomplish more than anything?
More than anything, I want to live a life of inspiring philanthropy and vision. I want to have the world be a better place because I lived in it, to have people feeling more positive about humanity, embodied life, and the goodness inherent in it all.

What bit of advice would you give your 15 year old self?
The teasing means nothing. After high school, those girls will lose their looks while you grow into yours and ten years later they'll all be befriending you on this wacky thing called Facebook. Hang on--this is certainly *not* the best time of your life.

If Graeme could only take one thing away from the years growing up, what would you want it to be?
Only one thing? Love fearlessly. If I get a few more things, I'd want him to understand the power of doing the right thing and the unshakeable depth of Daniel and I's love for him.

What part of your life do you think the Goddess is strongest in, reminds you of Her the most, resonates with Her?
Service to others. Any variety, this is when I feel most plugged-in to the Divine.

The H Word

Jul. 16th, 2009 10:25 am
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (horse&girl)
Leave me a comment and I will give you a letter.
Then, write 10 things that you love starting with that letter.
Post the list in your journal.
Give out letters to your commenters in return.

[ profile] mermaiden gave me the letter "H".

1. Horses
I wasn't fortunate enough to grow up around horses, but I grew up immersed in stories of my mom's childhood horse adventures and those fictional ones I could find in the likes of The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and The Saddle Club. Every horse book in the library, every book at the used book store that had anything to do with horses, I read over and over again. I memorized horse care manuals and confirmation standards in my free time. I collected and loved on My Little Pony, Breyer, and even She-Ra and Barbie's noble, crayola-hued horses. The best part of moving to Florida when I was ten years old was that it afforded me the first opportunity to ride, at a trail riding livery stable. I cannot think of an animal on this earth that I love and feel more of a soul connection to than the horse. I was also born in the Year of the Horse. :)

2. Holidays
I love celebrating holidays as holy days, days where my focus can shift both inward and outward, where the small details of meals and decoration and clothing become imbued with care and love in a way that I don't always remember to do in my day-to-day life, and where I'm given free rein and ample excuse to give gifts to those I love.

3. Hearts
I love hearts. I love them as a symbol for love--romantic love, familial love, world love, compassionate love, perfect love. I think, for me, that the heart is a sacred symbol and a very happy one besides. :)

4. Happiness
For me, happiness is a state achieved when I'm properly grounded, acting in accordance with my moral and spiritual compass, and living life in a grateful, optimistic way. I strive for happiness, even in crappo situations, and try to surround myself with people who have the same kind of emotional, energetic wiring.

5. History
If there was room for a number 11, I'd have added "humanity". I love history because it is the fascinating story of people--both in groups and singly. I'm interested in material culture and I'm interested in the ways in which our religious mores inform our societies' unique developmental paths, but I'm most interested in history as a window into the soul, collective and singly, of humanity.

6. Homemade
Food, gifts, clothing, bath products, paintings. I love the artisan-joy of homemade things. I love buying them and knowing that somewhere, that purchase may have made someone's day or reaffirmed in them a sense of their own creative worth.

7. Heroes
I love people whose hearts are filled with compassion, who are steeled with courage, who do the uncommon thing to make the world a better place. They inspire me and I celebrate their vision and commitment.

8. Hiking
I love to be outside, I love to see new places, I love to take walks--so really, hiking is the best of those worlds.

9. Harmony
Both musical and interpersonal, for me harmony is about creating something beautiful by balancing both my own individual needs, wants, and talents with those of someone else. I'm a Libra sun sign, so I find I have a lot of yearning to reach a state of harmony and balance with those around me. I do believe the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, if working in natural, supportive concert together.

Daniel introduced me to hummus when we first met and beyond into a whole slew of international, vegan-friendly cuisines. So, I guess hummus is not only really yummy as condiment, but is also a symbol of that opening world of mine where I moved to being happily, globally vegan.


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

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