Relocating

I’ve been absent from the PBP for a few weeks. I said I’d get at least one entry done per letter, but I failed. I failed because I bought a house, and have been absolutely swamped both physically and mentally with moving, or relocating.

I have dreamed of buying a house for many years, but it took me a little while to get financially and geographically stable enough to do so. I thought when I finally bought one it would be completely joyous and exciting, but as it turned out, that was unfortunately not the case. It’s actually been very difficult and traumatic, and I’m not sure why.

We (my husband and I) were in a rental house that we really loved. We sort of stumbled into that house, then ended up staying there almost four years. In those years I didn’t realize how we managed to achieve a somewhat country feel even though we live in Houston, and the house was in a typical suburban neighborhood. Something about how the neighborhood was placed and where our house was located within it gave it a little bit of a country feel. The rental was for sale, but we discussed it and decided there were some things we’d like to get in a house that were not in the rental.

I saw about ten houses, and we put an offer on one that we ended up retracting because it turned out to be in the floodway, and flood insurance was not something we could afford. In the meantime, on my birthday we looked at a house that turned out to have my birthday as an address. Crazy. I will say, the numbers are flipped. My birthday is 2775 and the house address is 7527, but I still saw it as a sign. And remember, we looked at the house on my birthday.

I really liked the house while my husband gave it an OK rating. But we were both on the same page in that we weren’t as into the neighborhood, and the house is not tucked away on a side street but instead sits on a busier through street.

But after looking at a number of houses my head was telling me this was the one to go for. It checked pretty much all the boxes, and living in Houston there is really no way to live in the country if you don’t want to spend hours commuting each day. We’re also in a pretty low price point so I knew I’d have to pick and choose about what is really important to me in a house. This house has a great backyard and floor plan, two things that were at the top of the list.

Long story short, we bought it. I like the house, but I’m not head over heals, and pulling out of the rental house has been brutal on me emotionally, and I can’t explain why. It’s felt like a break-up, and I feel like I’m in mourning over the rental house. I’ve ended up shedding a lot of tears, and there are probably still a few more to come.

I’ve been such a gypsy that besides my childhood, I’ve never lived in the same dwelling for as long as we were in that rental. It was also the best place I’ve ever lived besides my childhood homes. Perhaps this has something to do with why it’s been so difficult to pull my energy out of that house.

Also, the process of moving completely turned my life upside down. Throughout the ordeal I questioned my decision to move many times, and kept asking myself why I was doing this. We didn’t have to move, we were only doing it because for many years I really wanted to own my home.

Side note in case you’re wondering…. Yes, I’m “married”, but not legally married. We said vows to each other at a Rainbow Gathering, but never did any legal paperwork. My husband helped with the down payment and we split the mortgage, but I bought the house. It’s all in my name because he did not want to lay bare like you have to do going through the mortgage approval process. So I took one for the team, and I will say, it was absolutely brutal. Even my realtor said he’d never gone through a closing like mine. Yay. It was difficult to get though it without throwing in the towel, but by that point I had spent a lot of money on options, good faith money, and home inspections.

So why am I talking about this as part of the PBP? Because to me its all been part of my spirituality. The crazy numerology on the house, the process of transferring my energy from one place to another and making this house feel like mine, and the deep pain I’ve felt leaving the old house behind. I’ve questioned myself and my decision, and I’ve been really disappointed that I haven’t found more joy. I hope that’s simply because the physical act of moving has been so difficult as we have way too much stuff. So far it’s just been weeks of intense labor, and I haven’t had any real opportunity to enjoy my new house, or even settle in. We’re almost out of the rental, but at the new house it’s just a sea of boxes that we are living out of, and the light at the end of the tunnel is very far away.

But I will do my best to stay positive, and focus my thinking into the idea that I did make the right decision. After all, it is my birthday house, and I have to admit that had a lot to do with me getting this house. I felt the universe was trying to tell me something, and I do pay attention to signs like that. Hopefully it doesn’t all turn around and bite me in the ass.

And just when I bought a house, just when I felt like I could stay in my current job for a very long time, a job posting in another city came up. I am a dance professor, and I have said for years if a dance position at this one particular university ever opens up I will apply. And guess what… I’ve owned this house for one month, and surprise, that position is open. Sigh. And yes, I am applying for it. We’ll see what the universe has to say about this turn of events….

Quitting

Alright, I’ve already confessed about my lapse in the PBP. If you really care why, check out my post on relocating. But I do want to take a moment to revisit “Q”, a letter I missed. Just for the record, I completely skipped “O”, “P” and “Q”, and I had a pretty good “P” topic, but never mind. However, I am going to take a moment to go back and share my thoughts on quitting.

Generally, quitting, or being a quitter, is totally frowned upon. But I’d like to say, sometimes it’s alright to quit, and sometimes it’s the best decision. Knowing when to say no, or quit a project or some such thing, I actually see as a skill. No, I am not saying be a quitter; rather, know when it is in your best interest to quit.

Examples? I was writing a textbook, and then things got all out of whack. I was having trouble with how it would be piloted, and the writing had become so stressful and all consuming that I was loosing sleep, and it was seeping into all areas of my life. So I quit. I called the publisher and said I just cannot do this right now. I figured that’d be it, but surprisingly they worked with me. They gave me a number of months off, and then we reset the publishing schedule to be something I could better handle.

Another one? I am a college dance professor and adult beginning ice-skater. The skating director at the rink asked if I wanted to teach dance for figure skaters at the rink in exchange for free lessons and ice time. Sure I said. Well, that totally sucked. The air conditioning in the dance studio was broken, and keep in mind it was summer in Houston. We’re talking about 90 plus degree days with humidity around 80%. The room was tiny, and although I had taught kids for many years, after teaching college for almost ten years I had just lost the desire to work with children. Teaching that class was absolutely miserable. I hated doing it and I’m sure the kids could feel it, so I quit. I did it in the best way possible because I still skate at that rink, and I didn’t want to mess up my relationship with everyone there. And it all worked out for the best, and I am so glad I quit that teaching gig. Although, I quit so gracefully that the skating director still approaches me all the time to see if I’m interested in teaching classes again.

Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I think it is a skill to recognize when quitting is the best option. And let me be clear, I do not think it is good to be a quitter. That is, someone who quits projects and whatnot all the time. I think quitting is an extreme decision, and should be used very sparingly. The skill lies in knowing when to quit, and knowing when it is truly the best option.

Night Swimming

If you make it through this post without getting the R.E.M. song stuck in your head you’re lucky… or don’t know the song.

Night swimming… an activity I find to be very magical, and somewhat rare. There’s something really special about swimming in a dark body of water lit only by the moon and the stars. The water is ripe to absorb the moon magic, allowing one to bathe in the spiritual waters. I guess that’s waxing a bit poetic…

But really, I love swimming at night, and jump at any opportunity to do so.

Until I moved to Texas in 2005 I always lived in cold places where the natural bodies of water were generally fed by snowmelt. Brrr. It was cold to swim during the day, let alone at night. So I was only able to experience the magic of night swimming on very rare occasions, with one major exception. My grandmother lived in Phoenix and we frequently went to her townhouse, which had a beautiful community pool. I remember from an early age going to the pool at night with my parents and/or grandmother. My parents and grandma are/were pool people, so going to the pool multiple times a day was commonplace.

I felt the magic of night swimming in my youth during all those nights at the pool. And I think it’s pretty cool that my parents regularly enjoyed the activity with me. Phoenix is crazy hot in the summer, and I vividly remember getting to go to the pool after dinner, or after whatever evening activity we did. The cool water took the heat out of my body, and the quiet water made me ready for bed. My parents still keep up the practice as they now live in Phoenix, and have their own pool. Last summer when I was there we swam just about every night. After whatever evening activity we did, we came home and got in the pool and stayed there awhile. After that it was time for bed. In many ways my non-pagan parents imbued me with the gift of night swimming, and all those magical nights in the pool have stayed with me into my adulthood.

Pool magic is a bit different than that of a natural body of water. Part of the pool magic is in the lights, and for a really magical experience, the pool sprinklers. The best was swimming in Phoenix when a thunderstorm was in the distance. Talk about rare… watching lightning at night while swimming…profound. Of course the storm had to be pretty far off, but in a place like Phoenix you can see a lot of sky at once, so it was completely possible to swim and watch lightning at the same time.

This all reminds me of a place that made for great night swimming. The Verde Hot Springs near Camp Verde, AZ. They are natural hot springs that require a nice little hike to get to. The lore I heard was something of a resort was built up around them specifically for mobsters in the 1940’s. I have no idea if that’s true, but the springs were once “built up”. They have seats carved into them, and the main pools are paved. Some are even carved out in a cave where bats live. You can actually sit in the spring and look at the bats…it’s borderline creepy cool. The place is all in a bit of a ruin state, which only enhances the mystery, lore, and the magic. There is also a pool with a hut built around it. Over the decades hundreds of people have left their art on the walls of the hut, adding to the spirit of the pools. And the many visitors to the spring have left rock cairns, peace signs, and various rock art on the bank across from the pools. This also has built up the magic of the place, and all this spirit is truly palpable.

I was lucky enough to swim in those pools at night a few times, and every one was its own unique, magical experience.

Walking back to camp at night is a different story. One filled with rattlesnakes and night creatures, but I’ll just leave you to speculate on how that went down.

I now am the proud owner of my very own ring pool, and you better believe I’ll be coming back to that in a couple letters, as my ring pool is a magic brew all it’s own. BTW, a ring pool is a portable pool made of pliable plastic. The top is a ring you blow-up so it helps to float up the walls, that’s why it’s called a ring-pool.

So now I can night swim whenever I want. One can even buy all sorts of fun lights for above ground pools, and I have a nice collection. One advantage to the above ground pool is I can change the lights to match and heighten the magic. I have a bunch of ideas for good magic that can be done in a little private pool like that. I’ll share more when we get to “P” for what else? Pool.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what the night swimming magic is. The calm, the dark, the mystery, the sky… something in the combination of all these things make night swimming a magical experience that I can’t describe in words. R.E.M. understands, and they’re here to help me out a bit-

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked
These things they go away
Replaced by every day

Nightswimming,
remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit around the fairest sun?

 

From Maiden to Mother

It’s been a bit difficult for me to transition from maiden to mother, and I think I dragged my heels quite a bit. I can really relate to the maiden archetype, and I think I am just young at heart. I often make the statement, I’m not mature enough for this, or, I never grew up properly. What I mean when I say this is quite often I feel like I’m not a proper adult. I think I got stuck in my mid-twenties. Sometimes I feel I never made it past the age of five.

I believe in reincarnation, and I think I am a young soul. That is, I don’t think my soul has reincarnated very many times. We often hear someone referred to as an “old soul”, but that is not me. I’m the opposite.

I just turned 39, so by age I have really been in the mother status for a few years. But I still easily stay up until 3:00 am and sleep until 11:00, I love toys, particularly My Little Pony, I love light movies and cartoons, I hate cooking and cleaning and am just not that interested in home making, I can still hang at an all-night dance party, I don’t like “boring” things, which in my world (among other things) are plays, the symphony, and sitting around talking. And I don’t want kids.

That last statement is a big one, and one that was not easy to arrive at. But honestly, I never pictured myself with kids. I thought maybe I’d want them eventually, but that feeling never came. Every so often I’ll have a fleeting moment where I think it’d be cute to have a three year old running around, but fleeting it is. Listening to my friends tell me about how they yearned for kids and were completely driven to have them affirms for me that kids are not my path. I have never felt that kind of feeling or longing in my body towards having a child of my own.

It took multiple years for me to even make the statement I’m not having kids. Really only in the last year have my husband and I truly begun to acknowledge that kids are not really in our cards. I know this is rough for our parents, because they really want grandkids, but they understand their desire to have grandkids is not a good reason for us to have kids.

The absolute lack of desire to have kids fuels my feelings of maidenhood. I love my child-free life. I have a good job and I love the freedom I have in my life. Some people would see my decision as being very selfish, but is it really? I am acknowledging that kids are not for me. I also do not think I’d be a particularly great mother. Isn’t it better to acknowledge this rather than have a kid because I feel that’s what society expects me to do?

Yes, I’m selfish! I have a great life that I worked very hard to get. In the summer I sleep until 11, then I get up and do whatever the heck I want. Maybe I’ll clean a little, maybe I’ll play on the computer, maybe I’ll go ice-skating, maybe I’ll take a dip in the pool, the possibilities are endless, and I relish that I have a life and career that allows me this level of freedom. I love my husband and my career, and I am very driven to make art, and I do just that. I think the love and dedication I pour into my artistic endeavors will sustain me into old age. I’m good with having to move into a home when I can no longer take care of myself. I don’t see the need to have a child just so I can call on them when I’m old and feeble.

Yes, being a woman I do have some mom instincts, but I fulfill those in different ways. I teach dance in a college, and this allows me to get close to my students. I guide them, advise them, and in many cases love them. Yes, it’s all fleeting as inevitably they graduate (or drop out) and leave. But then a new crop comes in. Having these students to nurture stimulates my mom gene just enough. I can advise, love, and mentor, but I do not have to raise them.

I have a dance company, and most of the dancers are substantially younger than me. I work closely with them and have to provide a lot of love and guidance, and they love me back. Some of them have been in the company for five+ years so we have a tight bond. They often call me mom.

And there are my animal babies, which I can’t even describe the level of love I have for them. I know it’s not the same as the love a mother has for a human child, but it’s pretty damn strong! They are my children, plain and simple.

But, all in all, I know I have made the transition to mother. I can stay in touch with the maiden, but I have grown-up, and have made many grown-up decisions to get me where I am.

Interestingly, I’m not scarred of becoming the crone. I identify more with the image of an old lady knitting in the rocking chair than with the image of the mother with kids running around.

This post is truly not meant to offend anyone with kids or the desire to have kids. I know that is a path many women want to take, and I have no issue with that. Of course I want people to have kids if they want them! I’m just speaking from the less common viewpoint of not ever feeling my biological clock go off and sound the kid alarm.

I have lived a good life, and I have become the mother, but my mother takes a slightly different shape. And mother does not have to mean kids. There are many ways to fit the mother role without having kids of my own. I may have been slow to accept this, but accept it I have.

The Love Sheet

For many years I have attended the annual Rainbow Gathering, held in a variety of national forests throughout the United States. In short summary, the Rainbow family is a world-wide group of individuals (anyone can be in the family) who hold gatherings of various sizes all over the globe. The purpose (in a very small nutshell) is to allow people to come together to celebrate peace, the earth, and each other. The gatherings are held in the woods, and there is no electricity, bathrooms, running water, or facilities of any kind. At a big annual gathering the attendance can get to be over 20,000 people, and it is a very wild experience to see how that many people can come together and live in the woods for a week.

But this post is not about Rainbow gatherings or the Rainbow family per se, although I may visit that topic when we get to “R”. Instead, this post is about something that came from the Rainbow family, the love sheet.

Brother Love, a long-time Rainbow, used to spend his time at the annual gathering collecting as many responses as he could about “love is…”. He simply handed various Rainbow’s a notebook and people added their response to “love is…”. He would also have a stack of the responses from the previous gathering that he would hand out to all interested individuals. Then the following year he would put together the new responses and share the new sheet while collecting the new responses.

Unfortunately Brother Love left this world in 2008. At the gathering that year my husband took it upon himself to create a love sheet and distribute it in Brother Love’s memory. To make the sheet he simply compiled responses from the many love sheets he received at various past gatherings.

The love sheet is a very beautiful expression of love from hundreds of Rainbows. Yes, it is a little on the fluffy bunny side, but it is honest, and it is a true sampling of hundreds of voices. I hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to add your “love is…” in the comments.

 

Love is supreme and unconditional, 100%, a true passion for the spectrum of intense emotion, the “Big Bang”.

Love is the true all, more than we can express with simple words, Love is care, Be kind and don’t be mean to anybody, a fountain of youth, a tingle, trust, Oh, be swift to love; make haste to be kind. It is finding someone who balances you, in the air, the greatest commandment, critical and necessary, the only thing worth striving for, non-duality, colors – music – absolute beauty – and wonder, something amazing, life and why hearts beat,

Love is a big gas station with cheap gas and a hundred pumps

Love is the feeling you get when you are having a bad day and someone gives you a bright smile, like rapids and leaves,

Love is like a sweet onion and every gathering I shed another flaky layer, all there is.

Doggie love is a good butt scratch, the unexplainable, ever expanding, when your body tingles, when your family surrounds you, the Heartbeat, universal, the internal light we share with each other, unstoppable, respecting all people,

Love is acceptance no matter what, no fear, Jah, pieces of a quilt coming together to make a warm work of art, electric explosions of unlimited power peacefully wrapped in white wings, appreciation,

Love is the root of all things, hearing that first Welcome Home, compassion for all that are suffering, Love is using informal cooperation to achieve its objectives, dignity in oneself, fills you and makes you whole, having a good time,

Love is having good manners, fruit: a tree spends all year creating it so that it may feed its family and friends, letting go with grace, knowing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, knowing that what goes around comes around, mentally liberating, modesty, mindful, like a seed, organic, purity, captivating,

Love is maintaining close cooperation with others involved, acting as a good host to prevent potential problems, Love is powerful, perseverance, playfulness, reflecting light, stress relief, respecting and valuing the ways of others, selfless,

Love is (my boy friend) letting me blow my nose on his shirt, always opening knowing and feeling pure light pulsing out of I and I and I, seeing poetry and romance in every moment, healing,

Love is that all-encompassing energy that unites humans, Love is the sugar that coats the fear of life’s salty roads, total spiritual bonding, when you feel whole for the first time in a new way, a non commercial activity, the mother finch flying home with a grasshopper, enough to make you cry – but beautiful enough to dry your tears before they fall, pure wisdom flowing, service to humanity, a beautiful smile shining on everyone you meet, the eye which sees the whole circle, wide open,

Love is wild and respectful, your mom, stays with you wherever you go and seems to keep you alive, the enchantment of things, and destruction of loneliness, the cause of immense joy and immense pain,

Love is the flowers, trusting no matter what the situation, feeding your family, a rose, a rock, Love is being a good example, thinking of how the world feels to the person next to you and hoping they are feeling the yummy bliss of the universe’s sweet milk,

Love is knowing what irritates you and laughing about it, a way of finding common ground, always there and it always works, balance, Love is virtuous, vulnerable, honesty and mutual trust, safety first for everyone,

Love is paying attention, something that can be used to start fires, taking care of the earth, nature, everything in the world that you want plus infinity,

Love is Elvis, a dance, my puppy (Noodles), Love is bursting from your heart right now, Love is the urge to merge, light shining from the inside, your voice, your actions and intentions,

Love is a mystery that cannot be solved alone, when you and someone can stand toe to toe and battle each other out and then turn back to back and take on the world, following your passion, not attached – but always included, free, perfect love casts out fear, when you say we love you to everyone including the rangers and realize we are all family, everlasting, The LOVE is strong in this one,

Love is being rich in spirit, the harmonious hum of dance and song to which we all belong, the laughter of a little child, remembering, listening to your spiritual guides (everyone), Love is cherishing the differences as well as the things that are the same, living and being beauty, being happy in the silence, Love means you are really hot, being true to yourself,

Love is: not going thirsty, knowing you are not alone, giving others room to grow, laughter and joy, like the stars in the sky – bright beauty and light forever, understanding that words mean different things to different people, brainstorming, seeking peace,

Love is our life’s blood, the courage to stand up against the madness threatening all life, compost, my religion and the only law to obey, people who pick up trash,

Love is letting a chipmunk steal my pecans, sharing the air – we breathe unity, the spice that makes this life stew nice, bliss, being good, where all things come together as one thing, seeing all as blessings and being a blessing to all, caring about you, clothing the truth in beauty, patient and waits for an answer, expanding your circle to include everything you know about, sensitive to another’s wants,

Love is tolerance, and the view from the top of the mountain, my momma creating me into this world to experience you fine people, cooking breakfast with elders,

Love is a simple solution to complex problems,

Love is… (fill in the blank)

My husband’s statement he included on this particular love sheet: These words were gathered from a rainbow of loving souls camping in the forests, perhaps enjoying nature, frolicking, living, loving, and/or praying for world peace and healing. Consider rereading these words slowly or a few words at a time and feeling if they have a place in your heart. Be the love that you want to see in the world. This love sheet is in loving memory of Brother Love. We will miss your wisdom and leadership. We are all coming home someday to sit with you at the ultimate heart-song circle. I can’t wait to hear what you say when you get THAT feather!

 

Kachina

The San Francisco Peaks- For many years this is the view of the peaks I saw everyday.

The San Francisco Peaks- For many years this is the view of the peaks I saw everyday.

Bummer. I got my cast off, but my wrist fracture is not healed so I’m stuck in a brace and still can’t type worth a damn. Once again I will have to keep it on the short side, and share the work of others in an effort to not entirely miss the letter “K”. Here goes…

Growing up in Northern Arizona I was fortunate to have regular contact with Native Americans, mostly Navaho and Hopi. I even took Navaho as a language in community college, but that is a different story….. I did learn in that class that there is no letter “J” in the Navaho language, and thusly, at least according to the instructor who was Navaho, the Navaho people tend to prefer the “H spelling. Navajo vs. Navaho…but I digress.

Kachina March by John Steele

Kachina March by John Steele

This post is about kachinas, something I have been somewhat familiar with for most of my life as I grew up seeing kachina dolls for sale in every tourist store. From early on I was told they were representations of the Hopi spirit deities, and the real kachinas lived in the San Francisco Peaks, the mountains in whose shadow I grew up. I later found out that during certain times of the year the kachinas actually came into the Hopi villages to dance.

And of course all this information is a white girl version of facts. Even the name, kachina, is a white version. The Hopi people prefer the more traditional spelling and pronunciation, katsina. As I have slowly discovered through Native American friends, there is usually a white, touristy version of things and then there’s the version true to Indian culture. There is a wide world of watered-down tourist kachina lore out there, and Kachina Dolls From Arizona KachinasI must admit I am drawn to it. More than anything I love to buy kachina dolls, which traditionally were simple carvings of the spirits that became very elaborate as time progressed. Surely the tourists influenced the development and creation of the fancier kachina dolls, and now a well-made kachina doll costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But lucky me, there are many cheap versions out there and these are the ones I can afford.

Regardless of whether they’re tourist versions or not, I think they’re cool. I have many representations of gods and goddesses from various cultures throughout the house, and I love to see how different cultures represent their deities.

Really I don’t know how much justice I can do to a conversation on kachinas as I know only a small portion of the story and would simply be sharing facts learned on the web. To save my wrist on the typing, let me provide you with a link to a good description of the kachinas. Please, if you’ve made it this far take a moment to look at it here.

Kiva Kachina Dance by Ray Naha

Kiva Kachina Dance by Ray Naha

And the next time you’re in the American southwest keep an eye out for the kachinas!

Junk Oracle

During the last PBP I participated in in 2012 I read a great post about making a junk oracle. The author discussed how one could use various toys, treasures, and other tid-bits lying around the house to craft a very fun divination tool. I was instantly intrigued and very soon after began putting together my own junk oracle.

Since the original post is so good, and since I still have a cast on my arm making it very cumbersome to type, for this “J” post I am simply sharing the original post, plus one other good write-up I found about the junk oracle.

Here is the post I read two years ago and liked so much: Cat’s Journal- Junk Oracle

Here is another good article I found: Tarot Reflections- Junk Oracle

I hope this inspires some of you out there to try it out. I think it’s a fabulous way to make use of those random objects we all have lying around the house.

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