Tag: life

The Little Redwood Buddha

Somewhere along the way my little book on Buddhism got lost and with it my little red Buddha.

But that little red Buddha didn’t stay lost.

In fact, he has a funny little way of popping up right when I need him.

Bumping Your Nose Against the Glass: Thoughts on Caregiving, Being Strong, and Self Care

You see them sparkle. They draw you in close. But before you know it, you’re bumping your face on an invisible barrier that keeps you from reaching them. Over and over you try to break through. If only you could touch one, hold one for a moment, you know you’ll feel worlds better. But you can’t. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t reach. The only thing you can feel is that enlarging hole in your self worth and a busted, bloody face.

That’s the major struggle of being a caregiver.

Keep Your Village, I Have My Witches

Before we start, I want to be honest. While kicking around the idea for this post in my head, the working title was “Keep Your Tribe, I Have My Witches”. It was a response to how the word “tribe” is used in popular culture.The more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I was with using that word. I don’t want to offend or insult anyone and I know the usage of that word does both. I don’t want to add to the appropriation.The word “village”, especially in connection with witchcraft lore, works just as well.

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Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal”.  Our need for comradery and connectedness is genetic. We, as animals, need each other. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Connecting with others, especially the “wrong” type of others, hurts us more than it helps. Finding the right crowd, the right circle to surround yourself with is so very important. And one of the hardest things you will ever do.

While I pride myself on being a nice person, I am not gregarious by nature. Not only am I a homebody, I’m an introvert who struggles with social anxiety. Honestly, maybe I am a homebody because of those things. Either way, I am not a social creature.

I also am not a collector of people. I know people who pride themselves on collecting friendships, like dead butterflies pinned in shadow boxes. I am not like that. I don’t need a huge chorus of yes wo/men. I feel like this does two things. It either feeds into a cult of personality or it devalues the quality of the friendships. I don’t want a group of fans following me around, regurgitating everything I say. I’m not Jim Jones. I don’t need a fellowship.

What I have, and what I’m exceptionally grateful for, is this small little circle of people who love and cherish me the same way I love and cherish them. What this group lacks in numbers, they make up for in true honest emotion.

From a young age, I was taught by my mother that love comes with strings. Every relationship was a maze through spiderwebs of obligations. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I learned that friendship doesn’t come with prerequisites. You just love each other. You support each other. You want the best for each other. It is not a tit for tat set up. No one keeps score. You both strive to be the best you can be and help the other person when they can’t be.
I’m lucky enough to surround myself with magical ladies who inspire me constantly. These women are my support network, my therapist, my comedians, my teachers. They surround me with love and set my creativity on fire. It’s because of them I’ve dived into researching and truly living my Craft. From books to articles to tarot cards in the mail, they have helped me find my true self.

It’s also because of them and their belief in me, I’m writing again. Their support and never-ending cheerleading is a huge part of why this blog and my recent accomplishments have happened. With them at my side, I’ve been able to trust in my abilities and pursue something I’ve enjoyed since I was young.

So while you may have a village, I have my coven. And for me, a tight group of inspiring and motivated friends is all I need.

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Dear Toxic Friend, This Is Goodbye.

I don’t know how to start this. Perhaps my hesitation is from this not being easy or enjoyable to write. So here goes.

This is my goodbye.

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This fragile relationship of ours is no longer good for me. You are no longer good for me. Your passive aggression taints every conversation we have, like second-hand smoke in a sweater.  Somehow, no matter what our conversation is about, you warp and bend it until it reflects light onto that one time, more than a decade ago, when I fell short in your eyes. Our friendship does not make me feel good about myself. If anything, it makes me feel like a scapegoat. I’ve worked really hard to grow as a person and to cast off the shame, guilt, and self-hatred that I carried from my childhood. I can not allow you to undo what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve tried to be a good friend. I’ve tried to honor your feelings and allow you to hold them. But you used your feelings as a weapon. It’s obvious that you still hold on to the anger and pain that befell you in the past. It’s obvious that this hot coal burned its way inside your body and took residence in your heart. While I am not one to tell someone to let go and move on, I feel that for us to have worked, you needed to calm that burn. I supplied apologies as a salve, but they never seemed to soothe enough for you.

You throw shade (as the kids say these days) and make remarks that seem to have no other point than to paint me as a villain and you my victim. They seem to suggest that all your hardships are because of the perceived slight you think I performed. Just to put it to bed, my actions back then were never malicious. You know this. I acted on what my soul called me to do. It was what I personally wanted for once, instead of what was wanted for me. I explain this to you so you understand, I was just trying to live my life. No one should be kept from that OR be made feel bad because of that. Its exhausting explaining time and time again that my actions were not personal attacks. I just wanted sovereignty.

I understand your life has had ups and downs. So has mine. Everyone’s has. I will not say that anyone has had it easier or harder than anyone else. We’ve all made choices and we all deal with their consequences. That being said, you really seem set on winning some imaginary Misery Olympics. I do not support and will not take part in such games. We should be celebrating each other’s successes, not trying to impress others with who hurts the most. Pain is not something that is measurable like that. While I am sorry that your experiences haven’t all been positive ones, I don’t feel that they should be things you wave at me in an attempt to make me feel bad for or to discredit my own.

For my own mental health, I can not allow you lay your sins on me and send me out into the wild any longer. I do not hate you. I do not dislike you. I would very, very much like for us to be close again. I would like for us to have the relationship we assumed we would. But I simply can not with things in their current state. I’m sorry we can’t be the friends we imagined we would always be.

Please have a good life. I wish nothing but the best for you. But I can accept nothing but the best for me.

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Why I’m Thankful For Prayers (even though I don’t believe in their God)

Growing up in the South, most conversations that involve tales of hardship end with a hug and one party saying to the other, “Well, we’ll be praying for you.”. As someone who doesn’t follow any of the branches of the Abrahamic faith that influences every bit of life below the Mason Dixon Line, even something as innocuous as prayers can get overwhelming. If I had a nickel for every time someone informed me that they were going to pray for me, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. It seems like everyone wants to include you in their conversations with the Lord. And really, I’m okay with that.

 

To a lot of believers down here, not being a Christian makes me an uncaring godless heathen. Which is funny because as a polytheist, I have more gods than fingers to count them on. And as a person, I’m an Empath. So I care. I care a whole hell of a lot. While I don’t think of prayer in the same way most Christians do, I believe there is something powerful in communicating with the beyond. When that communication is done for the betterment of someone else, no matter who is listening, it’s incredibly meaningful. Whether you’re talking to God like a Southern Baptist, taking part in your daily Salah, whispering to The Goddess, or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo there is something profoundly magical in the connectivity of that act of compassion.

To me, magic is all about energy. It’s about being connected to not only yourself and others around you, but to the Universe. So taking your energy and manifesting it into something positive for someone else is huge. It’s a big piece of everyday magic we all agree is powerful but we don’t talk about. It’s like telling someone to have a good day, wishing someone a happy birthday, or saying bless you after someone sneezes. It’s taking a bit of yourself and turning it into hope for someone else. That’s what prayer is for me.

I know it’s easy to think that the people praying for you are doing it only for themselves. And you know what, maybe they are. I’ve never inquired as to the rhyme and reason of someone’s prayers for me. I’m not naive enough to think that some of them weren’t straight up “Please Lord, help this girl find Jesus” ones. But, I’d be willing to bet you all my nickels mentioned earlier, a lot of them were for good outcomes. I’ve lit candles and cast circles for people who would have burned me at the stake for doing so hundreds of years ago. And I did those things out of love with the hope that they helped. And in the world we are living in right now, we all need all the help we can get to achieve a good, safe, and peaceful life.

So please, if you feel moved to do so, pray for me. Meditate for me. Chant for me. If my name and my situation are put upon you, do what feels right in your heart of hearts. Because I promise you, every time I feel that need, I will do so for you. I’ll just do it in my own way.

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Imperfection is Beautiful

A Lesson in Wabi-Sabi

The other day, while neglecting the roughly fifty-seven baskets of laundry that needed to be folded, I found this wonderful list of words that have beautiful meanings but not clear English definitions. It’s from 2014 and features the work of Ella Frances Sanders from her book, Lost in Translation. The illustrations are as beautiful as the words, each showcasing the pulchritude that we feel inside, but can’t quite describe.

The one that struck me the most was the Japanese word wabi-sabi.  

Wabi-Sabi centers on accepting that life is fleeting and that its imperfections are beautiful. If you remember my post here I am a proud agent of imperfection. It’s in my nature to have things that are chipped and broken, missing parts but still functioning. So I immediately connected with a worldview that pretty much says my acceptance of imperfection is not just the laziness I’ve been lead to believe.

 

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By ottmarliebert.com from Santa Fe, Turtle Island – White Pink Bowl, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

So what is wabi-sabi really? Probably one of the best explanations of the idea comes from Richard Powell: ““[w]abi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” While this might sound nihilistic as shit, it really isn’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard something so freeing and inspiring.  Let me break down why:  

NOTHING LAST

A roaring summer thunderstorm, your first kiss, the first time a baby says “Mama”, the jar of Nutella you hide in the cupboard to eat by the spoonful because said baby is now 9 years old and never stops saying “MAMA!”. All these things are fleeting. They exist and then they are gone. Their purpose is to be experienced. The thunderstorm inspires and connects you to the Earth. The kiss fills your heart and mind with oxytocin dripped love. The baby brings joy and purpose. The Nutella releases the stress that joy and purpose brings. The emotions they bring to you are beautiful because they are ephemeral. To experience the magic that is in a  beginning, you have to accept that there will be an end. It’s a bittersweet compromise. Being mindful enough to understand that all things have a finality helps you understand how important they truly are. It’s true for people too. Every person and every relationship in your life will eventually end, including yourself. Experience and love them now, in this moment because that is really all we have.

NOTHING IS FINISHED

Life is kind of like road construction here in South Carolina, it’s never finished. All things are a work in progress. Even if it looks complete, there are still pieces changing, ideas morphing, decay and regeneration happening. Nothing, not a building, an idea, an emotion or even a person is impervious to the changes in the world. So every decision we make, every storm we face changes who and what we are. Its uplifting to know that this is not our final form. No matter how bad things are currently, it is not the end of the story. The converse is also true. No matter how good things are, it is not the end of the story. With the burden of a final goal lifted we are free to continue learning, growing, and striving for better for our entire lives. We no longer have to worry about having to accomplish certain things by a certain time. I often struggle with feeling that the time I have to do certain things has run out. One of my deepest secrets is that I want to learn to dance and perform burlesque. For so long I’ve thought that since my age and station in life has meant I’ve missed my chance. But, if nothing is finished, then my chance is still on the table. And that fills me with hope.

NOTHING IS PERFECT

As much as I tout my love of imperfections, there was a time when I was forced to be perfect. In my young formative years, my mentally ill helicopter mother’s focus was on the perfection of my school work. But being the messy, head in the clouds, overly anxious and possibly ADD kid I was, that was never going to happen. I had too many ideas and too few chances to take them to get all the A’s she felt I should. I’m still trying to replace what was lost due to the price I paid for her expectations not being met. During this time, however, I did have one parent in my corner. , When I was bummed out and upset over not having everything come up aces, my dad would say “There was only one perfect person on the Earth, and they crucified him.” I took solace in those words then even if I didn’t quite understand them. Now, I totally understand what he was saying. Perfect is unattainable. Nothing, except for God himself, is perfect. And being perfect wasn’t even enough to save Him. (Sidenote: The Christian faith of my father obviously isn’t my jam these days. I do respect those that choose that path. You do you, fam. Just be nice and I’ll support ya)

If you accept that nothing in this world is perfect, its like life instantly becomes easier. The freedom in knowing that the world is going to be full of fuck ups no matter what you do lifts that blanket of stress clean off. It erases that compulsion to do things with only the end in mind and allows you to now enjoy the process.

 

And while we’re at it, I’d like to share this: Perfect is an illusion. Its a thing of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It’s a way to keep us plugging away without enjoying our life, hoping to achieve some magical happy ending. It keeps us unhappy, unsatisfied, and forever wanting more. If we banish the idea of perfection from our lives, we would be able to enjoy the beauty that is the mess and chaos that is life.

Fun fact: Wabi-Sabi is actually two words. Originally the word wabi referred to the loneliness of living in nature, away from society. Sabi embodied meanings that included  “chill”, “lean”, and “weathered”. (Unnessaccary sidenote: The meanings of “chill” and “lean” back then are nowhere near the definitions of them now. That “lean” Soulja Boy talks about is not the same type of “lean” ) Around the 14th century (and you thought this was new age hubbub didn’t you?) the words shifted and started having more positive connotations. The philosophy can be found in art, design, engineering and even the practice of the  Japanese tea ceremony.  

It’s not just a thought process, it’s a way of life.

One that I think is beautiful.

wabi sabi quotes

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