Monthly Archives: October 2011
So here it is, another Halloween, when ghosts and goblins, witches and vampires, superheros and villains come out of the woodwork.
We all grew up with stories that most witches were old, bent-over, wart-ridden women cackling over a big, black cauldron, dressed head-to-toe in black, whispering incantations and in general being the rotten egg. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of witchcraft and when I was little, I really, really wanted to be a witch – sans the warts. Through the years the mystique of witchcraft has always drawn me in, but due to my life’s path, never much got into learning more. Just recently, though, I discovered quite by accident that there exists a group who practices a way of life that I could totally get behind.
Like many people, I believed witchcraft meant spells and manipulation of the darker sides of nature, but last week, I was officially schooled in the ways of a Wiccan coven.
One of my friends, an incredible woman with a made-for-movie life, herself once part of a coven, set me straight. She confirmed what I thought, but also added another dimension.
So not like the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz, the women who make up a Wiccan coven are strong, independent, and powerful, both by nature and by way of the Wiccan practice. Powerful in their knowledge, powerful in their confidence.
Wicca, to those of you who are not familiar with this peaceful and harmonious way of life, is not actually witchcraft, though it draws from the tradition of witchcraft. It is a religion in and of itself that promotes balance and harmony with all that exists. It is a practice of free will and the appreciation of the elements of earth, fire, air, and water, and encourages the understanding and responsibility of ourselves. The members of the coven are healers and the potions that Wiccans create are tonics for headaches or other ailments, not for turning people into toads.
Yeah, I said. But what about dark magic? What about that?
There is that, she told me, as we cannot have light without dark, love without hate, a beginning without an end. Picture a triangle. One side represents light (positive), one side represents dark (negative), while within the coven, the High Priest or High Priestess occupies the vertex, the spot that encompasses both. Some members ride the positive side, embracing the earth’s energy, while others delve in the other side with rituals, blood sacrifices and the like. Most stand on either side of the line, finding balance between both sides.
My friend had found her coven, or rather it found her, and was a member of the group for eight years. She was going through a rough spot in her life, trying to find purpose, trying to find something to help her make sense of her life, when she was introduced to a coven where she lived. She found what she was looking for. Through her studies and years with the coven, she learned to find her core and stay centered under the most trying of circumstances. She learned how to read palms and auras, how to have out of body experiences, and how to use herbs to clear negative energy from her space.
Though she is no longer a member of a coven, she is still integrates what she learned into her own life. She is a healer and spiritual teacher. It is all about balance and maintaining equilibrium with nature. It’s all about light.
So on Halloween, if you see a witch, remember this…they are real, but it’s not all about cauldrons and broomsticks (although my friend said that upon becoming a member, they do make small brooms to place over their door in their home). It’s so much more than that.
She had them by the hundreds. They were everywhere, covering walls and displayed in china cabinets. She found them at estate sales, thrift stores, and on eBay.
Beaded purses. Clutches, reticules, pocket books. All of them. She had all sizes and shapes, mostly dating from 1800s and early 1900s. She couldn’t help herself.
I asked her why – why beaded purses? She had no particular reason, only that she could really relate to them somehow. They called to her.
For my youngest son, it’s the Civil War; my older son, medieval times; and my ex, the Wild West.
Castles, particularly from the 1400s, do it for me. Chills always roll through my body, my goosebumps have goosebumps, and my heart strings get stretched beyond their limits when I flip through pictures of castle ruins. That’s the period of time that resonates with me the most. Articles about Scottish clans from the 1100s send me back – somewhere, to a time I lived before.
On the other end of the spectrum, walking through an antique shop and coming face to face with one of those porcelain dolls has the opposite effect. There is something about the late 1700’s and those dolls that make me really uncomfortable – like creepy uncomfortable.
It is said that when we relate to an object, an era, or even a particular location, and it just triggers an inexplicable recognition within us, the reason is because we’ve owned it before, seen it before, or been there before. I’m talking past lives or parallel lives, depending on which school of thought you’re coming from.
The familiarity is etched in our DNA. We never forget.
So what about you? Do you ever get that déjà vu feeling, or have a passion about a certain place or time? Do antiques or heirlooms stir a familiar memory in your soul?
Since Sunday night at 5:20 p.m. to be exact. For about 36 hours now.
Though I had felt as if I had no parents for many, many years, this made it a hard core reality. I had shunned both of my parents long ago, never wanting to have anything to do with them (damn, I was so proud of myself, being so independent and all). My mother had died 17 years ago, but there was still another half of the parenting duo alive, and despite the fact that we were separated by hundreds of miles, my father was always there for me to ignore.
What a hollow victory this turned out to be.
A week ago my aunt Mary called from the hospice center where they had taken my father. Apparently what the doctors diagnosed five weeks ago as a urinary tract infection, turned out to be a stroke, and his condition had deteriorated since. It’s been a bit on the stressful side, due to my oldest brother’s immoral and illegal conduct – I’m setting that one aside for another blog…or a novel…**counting on fingers how many times he has tried to screw the family**…No. Definitely a novel.
I apologize, I digress.
So, last week my aunt called me from the hospice center to let me know my father was unresponsive. She offered to hold the phone up to his ear so I could say something to him. I hesitated, because I really had nothing to say. I had made my peace on my own, so what was left? But my brother was on his way out to Arizona from California, and once he got there, I knew I wouldn’t have another chance. I didn’t know what I could say. All I knew was that I didn’t want to have any regrets.
Death is a process, a very personal journey, and I wanted to respect that. So instead of taking the stance of daughter-to-father and get in his face, I decided to go toe-to-toe, soul-to-soul. I could see no other way.
Later my aunt would tell me that when I first spoke to him, with her cell phone to his ear, his labored breathing had slowed, as if to hear me better, and as I spoke, his eyes moved behind his lids. He had heard me.
I opened my heart up as wide as I could and tried to see the playing field for what it was. Completely off kilter. I was strong, healthy, with at least another 50 years with which to make good with myself. His body was shutting down. His life was coming to an end. Another soul, another incarnation, just waiting…waiting for whatever moment souls wait for before they let go.
I couldn’t even begin to question his life’s plan, because I don’t really even know my own. All I knew was that moment was not the time to speculate. That would be his job…once he had passed. Neither was it a time to judge, condemn, or hold a grudge. That never did any good anyway – in life or death.
So I said what I needed to say and told him good-bye, feeling as if there was so much more to say, regretting that I didn’t say more. But it didn’t matter. My brother had arrived at the hospice center, threw a hissy fit as only my 50-year-old brother can, and my aunt, my only connection to my father, left the hospice center for the last time.
A week had passed since then and each day my father did what he had to do to complete his life. I wish I knew what went on inside his head – so different, I’m sure, from what went on in mine.
To everyone who might ask, “Are you okay?” My answer is: I think I am. I feel a touch of sadness, perhaps for what never was and never could be – at least with any sort of normalcy. I feel cheated, like…This is it? Is that all I get? Born into a dysfunctional family, growing up in an abusive environment, separation, and then death? What the hell was that all about?
I’d released the hold he had on me, but his passing truly severed it. Now there is no going back. There is only moving forward.
You may be wondering what I said to him and, as always, my friends, I invite you into my head.
“Whether this was a part of the plan we agreed upon in Soul Place, or you just made really poor choices and went way off course, we both ended up in a place I wish we hadn’t. I’m sad for the years that could have been, happy for the years that weren’t.
I love your soul, but not your heart, because it never was with me. I trust you will find your lessons learned and the time here well spent. For now, Godspeed. I wish you well.
Say hi to Mom for me. I’ve tried, but with all the voices in my head, I can’t hear her say anything back.
I don’t know what else to say, so I guess I’ll say good-bye for now.
I’ll catch you on the flip side, Dad. I’ll catch you on the flip side.”
What does it sound like when a spirit breaks?
Is it similar to a snap, a rip, or is it like an explosion? Maybe it is better described as the imploding of self.
It’s indescribable, actually, but it is instantaneous. One minute we’re fine, the next minute we’re not.
I push myself hard in all areas of my life. There are only two speeds – fast and faster. I choose to pile my life’s plate until it spills over. It works for me. It is physically, mentally, and spiritually impossible for me to slow down.
And that’s why I run. It helps to consume that extra energy that tends to shoot out like missiles in all directions. Ironically, running is the only way I can get myself to tone the energy down somewhat before it builds back up again.
To top it all off, I tend to soak up the energy around me – positive and negative – and when I am already on the verge of erupting, this can lead to some serious danger levels. You know, kind of like that contraption that the Ghostbusters used to catch the ghosts?
One day, after a particularly challenging day of listening to my sons fight, their words bouncing off the walls of my small office, I felt the shift. Something was horribly wrong. Only once before did this happen, but it was so long ago, I didn’t recognize the signs.
I knew enough to cut the day short, but instead of heading to the sanctuary of my home and seeking refuge there, I instead headed to the lake where I met with a friend of mine. I knew my walls were cracking and this was probably not a good idea, but I went anyway.
We talked quite a bit about life, relationships, people, our past, and before I knew it, I told my friend things that I didn’t dare reveal to myself. Things that scared me, things that hurt. I unloaded it all, grateful that my friend didn’t turn away. After that there was nothing left for me to purge.
I went home feeling empty and beat up, so I crawled into bed and curled up under the covers for two hours. My son checked on my every 15 minutes, truly worried for me. Never had he seen me like this. Hell, even when I had pneumonia a few years back, I don’t even think the family knew I was sick. But this…this was more intense, more debilitating. I had broken. I had split open my tightly sealed lock box that had been fused shut with the heat from my pace.
My mind and body had told me all that I needed to know. I need to slow down and let go of some of the pressure.
Will I heed that advice? Probably not. I’ll take it into consideration, though. These things take time. But at least I know that, though I’m not fragile, I can break.
With all we have going on as writers, bloggers, mothers, fathers, day job workers, etc., how do we know when to draw the line? Do you take time to decompress before or after the meltdown? I’d love to hear from you! I think we all could use a little advice!
Do you know what the great thing about getting blog awards is? For me, it’s knowing that someone out there has read my blog and enjoys my writing enough to publicly announce it. What’s even better, is that one of the responsibilities of receiving these awards involves passing it on.
Well, my beautiful and totally off-the-wall friend, Diane Henders, has deemed me worthy of the Versatile Blogger Award. I adore this woman. She is the real thing. Read her bio and her FAQ. You’ll agree she’s one cool cat. Thank you, Diane!
The rules are that if you accept this award, you are committed to the following conditions:
1. Thank the person who shared the award with you by linking back to them in your post.
2. List seven things about yourself.
3. Pass this award to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know that you included them in your blog post.
About the requirement of listing seven random facts about me – I think by now most of you should already know quite a few. I’m not really sure what else might be remotely interesting, but to add to my list from the Blog on Fire Award and the Ten Random Facts About Me post, I’ll throw these in:
1. I eat broccoli just about every night. Just broccoli with salad dressing on it. Yeah, I’m pretty simple that way. (You know I don’t cook, right?)
2. I’m still waiting for that romance-novel style, soul-searing, knee-weakening, lose-myself-in sort of kiss… I’ve had many nice kisses, but not of this magnitude (Oh yeah, I’m a hopeless romantic.)
3. I went to Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, for a couple of years. Went in as a music major. Never finished, but had a hell of a great time.
4. I met my Italian tutor and now very good friend, Mirko, on Twitter, totally by chance. He has taught me so much already. Learning Italian through conversation is much more enjoyable than reading from a book. I cannot wait to make a trip to Italy. Grazie, Mirko. Sono grato. (I adore the way he calls me principessa.)
5. I’m not big on snow. I don’t ski and I’d rather not have to hide under more than one layer of clothing. But I’ve lived in snow country for 16 years of my life…and counting.
6. I’m an optimist. When it comes to people, I will give about a gazillion chances to prove themselves on just about anything, but after that, I’ll considering burning the friend card – maybe.
7. Okay…here’s where I am stuck…drawing a complete blank. Perhaps because I am tired (it’s 1:15 a.m.) or maybe there’s nothing else I can classify as even mention-worthy.
Now here’s the best part of this award. I am supposed to bring to the forefront 15 new blogs that I have found. To be honest, there are SO MANY great blogs out there (you hear that all the time, but it is true) even if I listed 115, I’d never even scratch the surface even a tiny bit.
I do offer you this list, however. I hope you will check out these amazing bloggers. The torch of the Versatile Blog award has officially been passed!
Debra Kristi offers a little bit of this, a little bit of that, from crafts to no-budget home improvements to random nuggets of her own wisdom.
Anthony V. Toscano. What can I say? His blogs are stories in and of themselves. It’s easy to get lost in his words. Sit back, have a cup of coffee or tea, a glass of wine or beer, and enjoy.
Jennifer Jensen brings to you tons of great info on writing and story prompts and brainstorming. A worthy stopover.
Serena Dracis. Wow. I totally dig on paranormal stuff, ghost haunting, and such. This blog gave me chills and I think it will for you as well. I’m so glad I’m following this one.
Nicole Maggi. Another excellent blogger. I got caught up in her discussions about Banned Book Week and other lively discussions. Oh, and did I mention she is a talented actress as well?
Ginger Calem. This blog was born just under a month ago by a very creative, finding-her-voice-in-the-blogging-world woman who passes time staying fit, being a mother and, writing. Welcome, Ginger!
Lena Corazon is huge on the ROW80 circuit, lifelong student, flash fiction writer, and all around Versatile Blogger! (Lena, how do you manage everything you do?)
Elle B puts out an intriguing blog celebrating the later bloomers in life whose various accomplishments themselves are worthy of awards. Check out Elle’s world! She is amazing!
Thanks again, Diane, for the opportunity to share myself and others. Let’s keep paying it forward in any way we can!
Body art is not for everyone. Many people tsk-tsk the symbols and flashy colors on every conceivable area of the body, shaking their head in wonderment at those of us who adorn our body with varying levels of self expression. Perhaps it’s the perceived defacing of the clean slate of our skin that shocks them. Perhaps it’s the fear of committing to something as permanent as ink nestled underneath the top layer of the skin. Perhaps they feel it somehow diminishes a person’s worthiness. I don’t know, and I don’t think they do either. Whenever I ask the reason behind their reluctance to embrace the art of tattooing, the answer is usually “I just don’t like it.”
But every tattoo has a story. Wherever a person was in their life, they had chosen a symbol to reflect that particular moment. It was the missing piece of the puzzle that fit perfectly into their soul at that moment in time. Tangible documentation – something a person can point to, touch, and remember it by. And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who told me that they regretted their choice.
Jill, an incredible woman, very close to my heart, has allowed me to share the story of her tattoos with you:
A good friend of my oldest son, got his first tattoo when he turned 17 – a tradition amongst the males in his family. They’ve had the family crest inked onto their chest, reflecting the pride in their clan.
As for me, my first tattoo was about 11 years ago. I had always wanted to get a one because I recognized I was reaching a point in my life when I was feeling a little bit bolder, a little bit rebellious, but was yet unable to make a stand. An armband with the yin-yang symbol represented my emerging side, but the names of my sons and then-husband reminded me of the commitments I had made.
My second was about a year and a half ago, when I released my first novel, Again. I had integrated the triskele into my story, and since the entire writing process was such a huge part of my life, I wanted to honor my efforts by having the same symbol inked on my right shoulder.
My third was actually yesterday. The decision to get another tattoo came right out of the blue. I was doing the day job thing, wishing that I wasn’t, sneaking peeks at Twitter and blogs, writing and reading comments – basically getting all wrapped up in the writing experience – and I was happy. Really, really happy. Not that I’m not normally happy. I mean, I have two incredible boys and a steady paycheck. I live in a nice community with incredible friends and beautiful surroundings. So, yeah. I’m good. But immersing myself in the world of writers and other artsy-type people just puts me in my really happy place and resonates deep within. Like I was born to do this. By diving into this world of writers, by writing my novel, I am one of them.
I wanted to stamp that on my hand, across my forehead, to remind myself of who I am,and to put it out to the universe and anyone else who will listen (anyone, that is, not already within my own circle of supportive, awesome, incredible brothers and sisters of Twitterville, Facebookland, and Blogopia). Mostly, though, it was for me. It was something I needed to do. So I did it. Thank you Crystalyn!
I share with you now my journey of yesterday. Photos, courtesy of my writing partner, Kathleen Mulroy. Ink job courtesy of Crystalyn.
So stay tuned for my next story. I’m in the process of designing my next tattoo, a symbol that is coming right out from my next novel. I just need to figure out where I’m going to put it…
So, tell me…do you like body art? Do you have many friends who have at least one? Would you ever consider getting one yourself (if you don’t already have one). I’d love to know!
A post by Amber West started the ball rolling, suggesting we go without that something extra for a week (such as Starbuck’s, eating out, movies, etc.) and instead putting that money towards a greater cause (such as St. Jude’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen For The Cure).
That was followed by another blog by Barbara McDowell about random kindness with giving our time and effort. It hit a soft spot in me and moved me to comment on her blog, sharing a story of something that happened to me earlier that evening. Or, should I say, to me and another person in my town.
A cashier at the local grocery store to be exact.
As this cashier was ringing up my purchases, I noticed that she looked like she was about to cry. I asked if she was all right and her response was a little mumbled, so I didn’t hear what she said. Of course, now the poor cashier was the center of attention as the others in line waited to see what happened, and rather than embarrass her, I just let it drop. After she scanned my Dark Chocolate Mounds candy bar, I picked it up and offered it to her, telling her that the chocolate would make her feel better. After a bit of hesitation, she agreed, but she still looked bummed out. So, after the groceries were stashed in the cart, I walked around to where she stood and pulled her into a hug – and she returned it whole-heartedly, like she really, really needed it.
And you know what? I needed it, too. Offering the only thing I had at that particular moment – human contact and love – to someone who obviously needed it, ironically filled me up, instead of depleting my energy. And I think we parted ways feeling pretty good.
It happens that way. The act of giving one’s self, time, energy, money – when given freely, it only grows. A kind word, a meaningful touch, or an encouraging smile, is sometimes all it takes to keep another person’s head above the muck just long enough for them to reach for a thread of hope.
I’ll never forget an incident many, many moons ago, when I was on the receiving end of such generosity.
When my boys were still very young, I was in a grocery store parking lot (what is it about grocery stores??), in a major downpour, trying to get the boys in their car seats before loading the groceries into the back of my car. I was making a quick rundown of everything I had bought, thinking to first grab the things that would be ruined by the rain. Before I had gotten through that list, a woman had approached and started loading my groceries into my car really, really fast, before pushing her own rain-soaked grocery cart towards her car several spaces down. I think I put one bag in my car to her five. Yeah, she was quick. When she was done, she had never looked back and never said a word.
I didn’t get a chance to thank her. I really wish I had.
It’s those little things we do for others – like holding doors open, picking up something that was dropped – that shows others that we are in tune with our surroundings, intently aware of them and what they might need at that moment. What a gift to give. It shows others that they are worthy of our time and effort. And who doesn’t love feeling worthy?
And that lady in the parking lot that helped me so many years ago?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
How about you? Are you compelled to offer random acts of kindness? How often do you see kindness around you? Let’s keep the momentum going, and strive to keep paying it forward!