It's a beautiful sunny day today, but still cold enough that the heavy blanket of snow (6-8 inches, although it looks like less here) that fell Friday night and Saturday morning is still fully intact. Apologies for the cellphone pic, but here you can see those gorgeous blue shadows on the snow, as well as the narcissus (just about to explode into bloom) on the left, big feathery yarrow on the right, and the little tiny pot to the far right containing some broadleaf plantain rescued from downtown Durham.
Two more days till Imbolc/Candlemas/Lady Day/Brigid's Day/whatever you like to call it! It's going to be my second witchy birthday so I'm trying to plan something a little bigger than just lighting candles and incense and reading a little poetry, as my rituals mostly are these days. Still don't have a circle or such-like to celebrate with, but I'm already planning a family meal (a custard, braided bread, carrots in calendula-butter (poor man's saffron), and some sort of protein, as I still have to think about nutrition) in honor of Brigid, even if it's only I and the Baird blood in Amam's veins that realise it.
I'm also planning on participating in the 5th Annual Cyberspace Poetry Slam! Heard about it from Joanna Colbert of the Gaian Tarot, who's also got a picture up of her gorgeously decorated Imbolc altar, so I highly recommend you check it out. Basically, the Slam is about all and any bloggers who want to do so putting up a piece of poetry in honor of Brigid, Imbolc, Spring, or the like (can be yours or just a bit you like, as I will do) anytime during February 2nd. If you choose to do this, I suggest you leave a comment on Joanna's post about the subject linking to your post - she wants to do a network sort of thing.
This made it into my other blog first, but I though it deserved to be put here as well. I'm not changing any phrasings or anything, for fear that I lose some of the correct details. Here it goes:
After lunch I was reading and fell asleep. Among other, less vivid things, I dreamed that I met with Boss F and told her what I really thought: that after a year and a half of pulling my hair out, losing sleep and weight (unintentionally, that is) and jeopardizing relationships over the stress from learning how to do my job well, I both knew how to run the place better than anyone, including she and her husband, and was being unfairly passed over for what I deserved. And since all of this was the case, I told her, I wouldn't be seeing her again.
After that, I dreamed that we were on a road trip, delivering furniture or something like that - Papa was driving and the rest of us were in the back of the truck, holding things down from sliding. Then something happened out in the mountains - the trailer came unhitched, perhaps - and we had to stop.
We went into an old abandoned farmhouse - plastered white walls, caked with soil and in need of a good scrub and repaint; wooden floors, lovingly sanded and finished and covered with woven rugs. The sun was setting and we carried candles around the house, exploring the three floors of the layout.
It was built into the side of a hill, with steep stairwells up and down taking up most of the space in the first room we entered. Upstairs, we could see a bathroom with a huge old claw-footed tub, and bedrooms clustered beyond. Downstairs was a cellar on level with the ground on the other side of the house, still stocked with shallow boxes filled with sand to store potatoes and apples, and heavy wooden doors leading out into a small dusty yard bounded by kitchen gardens, with fields and forests beyond. On the main level, as on the other two, the two wings of the house - great room, complete with a fireplace, ready with wood stacked beside it; and kitchen, with a large wood-burning stove, once-bright patterns painted on the walls and dry herbs and garlic still dangling within easy reach - reached forward to the left and right.
It's hard to explain how the footprint of the house was laid out, but try this: hold your arms out, at right angles to each other, and at 45 degrees to the center line of your body, as though you are turning your back to a cold wind and protecting someone in front of you. This "crooked" design kept the house protected the house from cold northern winds and created a small, sheltered microclimate at the back of the house, toward the south.
I know this is a long tangential post for what is still supposed to be just a food and exercise log, but it's very important that I write these details down and not forget them. This is what I need to do, and this is where I need to go. It's where I will be.
I'm trying as hard as I can to cement these pictures and ideas in my head, not to lose them as I do with so many (sleeping and waking) dreams. Oh Mama, help me out with this.
That's the real question, isn't it? The big one that everyone struggles with, silently or aloud. Some of us answer it. You can see it in their smile, the glint in their eyes, the way they move their hands when describing what they do and who they are. They've beaten the System - that terrifying, shapeless entity whose entire purpose is to hold down the common man and force him into one of 6 billion pigeonholes.
The rest of us can either endlessly envy them, imagining ourselves stuck where we are by the nonexistent virtues of a heartless system where work is done for the purpose of being finished...
...or we can join them.
What do you want from life?
This question seems just as big and just as unanswerable, but it's a little easier to come up with general concepts, as we all really want the same thing. Health. Happiness. Safety. Security.
The problem, then, becomes how to obtain and nurture these qualities in our own lives. Very, very few people ever completely succeed. There's always something to trade or give up, or else the need to play along with the System just enough to avoid being noticed as an anomaly and stamped out.
But most of us never even get close to having to worry about that.
In my dreams, both sleeping and waking, I am happy. I know what lies beneath the walls of my home because I built them up from nothing but raw materials and waiting space. I sink my hands into cold, barren earth and call on my Mother to help me pull forth from it lush, green, healing-filled life. I take this life and give it freely to all those around me who are in desperate need of it, and take in return only what they ask to give me out of gratitude and love. Every morning, I wake in the arms of my best-beloved, who has chosen me as their One as I have chosen them. I am not threatened by any Man, Beast or System - not because they never threaten me, but because I have the confidence, knowledge and power to turn away all threats to me and mine. I am secure in my body and mind; in my home and land and my ability to keep them; in the love shared between me and my dear ones; in the dreams my Mother gives me and in the life that flows through me from everything and back into everything.
And now the third question arises. Which reality is the true one? To misquote a bit of ancient wisdom, am I a sad girl occasionally dreaming that she is happy, or a happy girl dreaming that she is sad?
So here it is, my "New Year's" post, albeit 10 days after the actual event. I'm not sure if I want to ponder what that says about how well I'm doing on leaving my bad habits in last year. But then again, I'm actually writing one now, instead of just doing nothing and pretending to ignore the matter, as is my wont with the uncomfortable truths in my life.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I always seem to have the very best of plans and intentions - I excel at daydreaming and list-making like none other! - but only a very small amount of those plans, if any, actually come to fruition. The last time I was notably, measurably successful at any kind of venture was back in high school, when I had (quite literally) no friends and the only way to escape the black caverns of my own mind was to pour myself completely into my schoolwork. I've since changed immensely as a person - I have friends, I smile, I talk, I'm not afraid of my own thoughts any more - but I still don't feel that I have the ability to balance success in work, school and other pursuits with being happy.
That is not to say that I'm not still trying, however. And I feel like right now (oh gods, let's hope it lasts) I'm really trying harder than I have for a long time to make everything work together. T came down to visit for about a week at the beginning of Jan, and he's so driven and focused on what he wants that I can't help but be a little swept along by it. The problem, however, is how to take that feeling and translate it to something I can carry on by myself - how to make this really a habit, not just an effect he has on me.
Then again, he might be using me in the same way that I'm using him - as an inspiration to work harder towards a future that we are now thinking of as something that will be ours. He's called me his muse before, and on this most recent visit, he told me that I'm his Reason.
I can deal with that.
But anyways, let's get back to the matter at hand. As a guide for my resolutions, I've once again chosen that doyenne of all things inspirational and paganish, Dianne Sylvan. Her latest post (as of this writing) gives a pretty clear way of organizing the year's goals in a way that should make more sense to me than a static list of all things I want accomplished by next Jan. Here goes:
1. Dump 2009. For me, this lies mainly in training myself out of all the bad habits and into new ones. The biggest change I need to make in this area is in seeking outside help - I'm asking my parents to ask me for weekly updates on school, among other things. Honestly, this is rather distasteful to me - I'm 24, I should be able to do things like this on my own! - but recent evidence has shown that I'm still not ready to rely entirely on myself for motivation. I need outside support while I'm working, praise when I succeed and shame when I fail in order to motivate me to better face the next challenge. The hardest part in shifting my mindset from last year to this one is the actual asking for help.
2. Come up with a theme word or phrase for what you want to manifest in 2010. This was probably the easiest part in knowing what I want to do, but the hardest in figuring out how to describe it. This year, I want to make the shift to relying on myself - for fiscal matters, for motivation to action of all kinds. I suppose the best way I can think now to say it is that I want to grow up. I'm not terribly satisfied with that, though, so it may change.
3. Break it down into a few manageable goals. This is easier. I want to be self-sufficient, self-motivating and successful in the areas of money, health, school and my personal life and pursuits. Breakdown continues below.
4. Taking those themes and intentions, create a prayer or set of affirmations for 2010. Sorry, internet, but this one isn't getting shared. It's between me and my Mama.
5. Think of your plans for the year as a set of nested circles. Start by listing daily habits you want to stick with for the new year, no matter how small or silly-seeming. List time!
Save all tip money to be counted and a use decided for it at the end of the month
Take vitamins! Omega 3-6-9 (3/day), ginko (4/day) and Vitamin C (1000 mg) at least
Drink 8 c of water, preferably with ACV
Take almonds to work
Have at least one good helping of veggies, preferably fresh, in every meal
10 minutes on inbox every day
30 minutes (preferably more; whatever can be spared) at altar: writing in BOS, adding to or organizing grimoire, cleaning, decorating, ritual, intentional meditation or just sitting and thinking
30 min (at least) exercising every day: anything from a brisk walk in street clothes to a full hour of Crossfit and a run afterward. Commute time does not count
Consume some herbal concoction every day: anything from a tb of dandelion to replace some coffee to a full infusion
Have the kitchen tidy before I go to bed
It's a lot, but each one isn't really that hard to do; the hardest ones will be the time-related ones, if this year's work schedule is anything like last year's. But I think I can hack it.
6. The second circle would be a weekly plan
Spend at least an hour (if that much is needed) reading in depth and responding to all emails and other messages
Drink an infusion in the morning instead of coffee 3 days a week
3 hours per week of herbwork: study and research or writing and compiling knowledge
3 hours per week of knitting! That's actually sitting down with yarn and needles, not just browsing patterns
2 hours per week organising documents and papers from work
Physically visit or meet up with or have a long (30+ minutes) phone conversation with at least 2 friends per week, not counting T, as that's a given
Make yoghurt once a week
Bake something once a week, preferably whole-grain bread (i.e. rarely cookies and the like)
Finish all school assignments assigned and due in the following week on the Saturday before
Do laundry once a week
Clean out my car once a week
Plan meals and go food shopping once a week
Write at least one blog post per week
When weather permits, do at least 4 hours of garden work per week
7. The third circle could be monthly
Write and follow a monthly budget, covering gas, food/necessities, bills/loan payments and vanities/entertainment and putting a certain amount by to save for T's visits, with every extra penny going into savings
Do a ritual for all the esbats and new moons, even if it's just 15 minutes of lighting candles and reading poetry
Do a full, top-to-bottom cleaning of my spaces (bedroom, bathroom, car) every month, including sweeping or vacuuming, dusting & polishing and washing bedspreads and curtains
For every sabbat, redecorate my altar and make a family meal to tie into the event
Bring accumulated tip money to work and change it to large bills; depending on how well I've stuck to my budget for the month, either deposit all into savings or deposit half and spend the rest
Twice a month, take time for a visit of considerable length to a library, museum, planetarium or something of that nature
8. The fourth, then, would be your yearlong goals and intentions which you could try to synch up with the seasons if you were so moved: Winter for planning, Spring for beginning, Summer for action, Autumn for completion and release, and so on. Winter
Make a storyboard of how I wish the year would go, using photographs out of magazines
Set up my etsy account to start selling: shop design and descriptions and at least 10 possible items to sell
Decide on a provider and buy car insurance
Track my spending, particularly on gas and food, and figure out how much I would need to entirely provide for food on my own
Run 5 miles
Start completing projects and putting them in the etsy shop - have 20 in the shop by summer
Obtain one of those college fridges and start eating only the food that I buy as much as possible (with the exception of intentionally communal family dinners)
Run 10 miles
Begin aggressive marketing for the shop: flyers or online ads, selling through local stores
Begin actively looking for an apartment in town to move into at the beginning of the school year (and possibly a roommate as well)
Run a half-marathon
Move into an apartment
Keep up with the shop
Run 15 miles
General Year-long Goals
Develop and stick to a budget that accounts for all necessities and some small splurges, but where the main focus is on savings
Develop and stick to an eating plan that is healthily balanced while being as cheap as possible
Develop and stick to an exercise plan that moves progressively forward and strives for new goals with each one met
Write at least 50 in-depth entries in my personal herb book
Write or compile rituals for every sabbat, esbat and new moon in my grimoire
Get all As in school
Keep at least one houseplant growing all year
Phew! Thanks for reading all of that, those who did. Now for the hard part. Right now, I'm off to make some tea.