Life is Good

Ah, glorious May!  Gorgeous weather (at long last!), the end of academic year (whew!), and the start of summer fun (YAY!).  Late spring is definitely my favorite time of year!

I’ve come out of my April fog of confusing emotions, a heavy work load, and killer allergies, and I’m now soaking up all the warmth and positive energy of the blossoming spring.  Yes, life is good!

The new baby is blossoming, as well.  Not only is she (yes, another girl!!!) healthy and very active, but everything looks perfectly fine with the placenta now!  I just switched over to my midwife’s care and I’m thrilled to be planning for another home birth!

I know I remained pretty quiet in April when I intended to get blogging again, but I promise I do have a good excuse!  I put all of my energy into working hard on a fantastic self-improvement program that has really helped me prioritize my life goals and improve my life balance.  As a result, I’m now feeling much more on keel and refreshed.  I can’t wait to share more about my experience later in the week!

Oh, and I have one last thing to share:  today is the last day to get 50% off Lisa Byrne’s fantastic “Designed for Wellness” Course!  This is an incredible deal on an incredible course!  I took it last year (click to read about my experience!) and the healthy habits it helped me bring into my life have made a world of difference for my daily energy and happiness levels.  What are you waiting for?  Check it out!

Posted in Health and Fitness, Pregnancy and Birth, Self-Care, Wellness | Leave a comment

Surviving Pregnancy Exhaustion

As promised, here’s my Guide to Surviving Pregnancy Exhaustion!

I’d venture to guess that most women who have been pregnant can relate to the awful fatigue of the first trimester. (And if you have been pregnant and you can’t relate, then I envy you!)  Somewhere around 7 weeks, you suddenly feel like you have the worst flu of your life – you know, the aches, the tiredness, and the feeling that you couldn’t possibly manage to drag yourself out of bed if your life depended on it.  It hits and it lasts… for weeks, sometimes months.

And if you’re unlucky enough to simultaneously suffer from fatigue and morning sickness, or worse, hyperemesis gravidarum (been there), feeling like crap doesn’t even begin to describe you.

When you get the flu, you can call out sick and let the dishes pile up for a few days, then you feel better and get back on your way.

But when you have flu-like symptoms that last weeks or months and you feel completely wiped out, what are you supposed to do?  You probably can’t quit your job or take extended time off, and if you already have kids or a partner at home, you certainly can’t call out sick from your job as Mom and/or Wife.

Bottom line: it sucks.  But it IS survivable with some sacrifices and changes in mindset.  Here’s what I’ve learned in dealing with fatigue and sickness in my five tours of duty through the first trimester:

DON’T push yourself.

Your energy is low because of the raging torrent of hormones running through you forcing your body to make drastic changes, not to mention that cute little critter that is leeching off of you so it can keep growing like a weed.

You are supposed to feel tired during pregnancy!  It’s nature’s way of making you slow down and take good care of yourself.  So take a cue from your body and take it easy!  Get plenty of sleep (while you still can), eat a healthy diet of whole foods (or whatever you can actually keep down), and get some light exercise (for an energy boost later) – but only when you feel up to it.  Don’t push yourself hard!

Enter survival mode and drastically lower your expectations.

Yep, I’m telling you to do only what is absolutely necessary for survival.  Quit caring about doing things right and make peace with the bare minimum.  (Yeah, this is really hard for us A students, but as a teacher I can appreciate that there is a time and a place for a D-.)  Eat, sleep, shower, go to work, make sure your bills are paid and your kids/pets are fed and clean… but only put in as much effort as will get the job done, and ignore pretty much anything not on the “survival” list.

Your house won’t collapse around you if you don’t clean it every single day.  Child services won’t take your kids from you for asking someone else to drive them to karate, or even for feeding them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner (if you can stomach the smell of peanut butter, that is!).  Who cares if Martha Stewart would faint from horror if she dropped by your house?  Once you’re feeling better, you can impress her all you want, but for now, the bare minimum will suffice while you reserve your limited supply of energy.

Drop commitments left and right.

Really evaluate every commitment you have.  Anything that’s not necessary in some way goes.  (And remember, “necessary” is very subjective – that prenatal yoga class just might be necessary for your sanity, so stay it should.)  If you can live without it temporarily, do it.  That gardening class, that 6 hour trip to your sister-in-law’s, even blogging (ahem) can often be put on hold.  Committees, clubs, and events will probably still go on with or without your immediate presence.  Don’t bother with anything that isn’t necessary or immensely important to you.  And don’t take on any new commitments unless you are absolutely sure you will feel up to honoring it.

Promise to return once you feel better (if you want to) but realize that you could be talking about anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, or, if you’re particularly unlucky (like yours truly), you could be talking about an entire year or more (taking into consideration things like a full 9 months of HG and recurrent dehydration, mandatory bed rest, debilitating symphysis pubis disorder, plus many months of postpartum thyroiditis or recurring cases of shingles to deal with after the baby arrives…  Did I mention I’m unlucky when it comes to pregnancy-related nuisances?  But I digress…).  The point is to take a break from obligations for a while and to re-evaluate their importance when you do feel better.  Just don’t be surprised if by then your priorities have changed and you don’t want to re-commit.  It happens!

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

Enlist the help of family and friends.  Can your husband wash dishes or do laundry?  (Fortunately, mine can!  He does the majority of both even when I’m not pregnant!  I did get lucky in the husband department, at least.)  Can your kids help with the yard work?  Can your friend drop by the post office for you?  Can someone else in the office run up that flight of stairs to make copies when the photocopier is down?  Ask nicely, but be prepared to pull the guilt card if necessary.

Don’t be afraid of seeming weak or lazy.  You are neither, as you will prove once the baby comes and you impress everyone with how you can simultaneously juggle dishes, laundry, gardening, and broken copy machines one-handed, all while nursing the baby, and on only 3 hours of sleep.  (You only think I’m joking…)  Let people think what they will for now, as long as you’re taking care good care of yourself and not overdoing things.

Ignore guilt.

Don’t beat yourself up for vacuuming half as often or ditching PTA meetings or making your family chip in more or talking your way out of an extra project at work.  Remind yourself that you need to be as healthy as possible for both your sake and the baby’s sake – and part of that means staying well-rested and relaxed.

Don’t give a second thought to things that might feel like indulgences, but are really more like necessities – such as insisting on sleeping in when possible, and enjoying a relaxing day hanging out with a friend when you’re feeling up to it, and just vegetating on the couch on those days when that’s all it’s physically possible to do.  There will be days when you’ll get absolutely nothing done because you’re too sick and tired and weak to move, but remember that resting really is productive during pregnancy!

Know that there IS an end in sight.

The end might be weeks, or months, or even a year away, but the fatigue and sickness won’t last forever.  Things will eventually return to normal and you can pick back up where you left off or start off in a new direction.

If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression related to extreme symptoms (been there, too), it’s especially important to remind yourself that things will return to normal eventually.  It’s so hard to believe when you’re dealing with the awfulness of it, but knowing that others have survived can make it easier.  I promise that there is an end.  I can guarantee I wouldn’t have signed back up for this after the first time if there wasn’t.

Feed your soul.

It’s so important to take care of your emotional and spiritual health, especially when you’re feeling crappy for an extended period of time.  Figure out what relaxes and nourishes you – and do it.  If you just don’t have the energy to do things that usually lift you up, experiment with things like meditation and yoga or simple crafts.  At the very least, arrange for some alone time to just soak up some peace and quiet so you can relax and connect with that precious baby who is so worth all of this.

 

Posted in Pregnancy and Birth | 3 Comments

Bittersweet Week

I mentioned a few days ago that this upcoming week would be bittersweet and I promised I’d get around to explaining why.  Well, here’s the reason:

April 1 would have been my due date.

Was.  Should have been.  Is no longer.

If I hadn’t miscarried in the fall, I’d probably be holding that sweet baby in my arms at this very moment. It just breaks my heart to think about it.

And yet…

On Friday, April 6, I have my big 20 week ultrasound.

Yep, I’ll get to see THIS sweet baby again (for the 5th time) and hopefully find out whether “it” is really a “he” or a “she” (a matter of utmost importance to my 3 year old).

And I’m hoping against all hopes that we’ll find out that everything is OK with the baby and with the placenta.  It’s been a stressful couple of months of dealing with a large subchorionic hemorrhage and all of the bleeding and anxiety it’s caused. I’ve tried not worry too much because I did have a SCH with my first pregnancy (although much smaller and much earlier) and everything turned out fine.  They’re actually pretty common and many resolve without further issue.  But this one showed up later than usual, and when we finally confirmed it on an ultrasound last month (after several weeks of suspecting that was what was the problem), we saw that it was surprisingly large and a big part of it extended underneath the placenta, which I learned could cause issues with the placenta properly attaching and developing.  My OB seemed positive about the odds that it would resolve satisfactorily, but with my track record of losses, I can’t help being a little worried.  Or maybe more than a little.  Honestly, I won’t relax until I see proof that it’s improved.  And I hope nothing else is wrong, or even suspected to be wrong.  I can’t take many more scares of the “we can’t find the heartbeat” kind like I had in February.  (Talk about deja vu, ugh!)  Like I mentioned before, it’s been a nerve-wracking couple of months.

So on one hand, I have a very big reminder of my still-recent loss, while on the other, I have excitement mixed with worry about this baby that I so desperately want to be safe and healthy.

What a jumbled mess of emotions.

I miss the babies I’ve lost.  My heart aches for them every day.  But if I hadn’t lost the first baby, I wouldn’t have Danica.  And if I hadn’t lost the last baby, I wouldn’t have this one.  I’m simultaneously sad and happy, which I find confusing and overwhelming.  And crazy pregnancy hormones aren’t helping matters.

But the good news is that if everything looks OK with this ultrasound, I should be transferred to my midwife’s care right away.  And then I can spend the second half of the pregnancy feeling more relaxed and looking forward to another fantastic home birth.

I just have to get through this week.  And hope for the best.

 

 

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ABC’s of Me

For something fun to get my writing juices flowing again, I thought I’d borrow the ABC’s of Me topic that I saw over at Pragmatic Mom.  I just changed up some of the prompts to fit me better.

Age: 32, which also happens to be my lucky number!

Bedtime: Late, sometimes REALLY late.  Honestly, I’m lucky if I switch the light off by 1am.  I blame the books I read.  They just don’t let me put them down.

Cats: 3 of them, all males, all adopted, and all a constant test of my sanity.

Drive: Subaru Forester.  Yeah, I’m one of THOSE New Englanders who loves them some Subaru!

Exercise: I hate strenuous exercise and weight machines.  With a passion.  But I love walking for exercise.  And doing yoga.  The relaxing, stretching, strengthening kind, not the inhuman, I-need-a-chiropractor-to-safely-get me-out-of-this-pose kind.

Favorite color: Red.  I love it, especially paired with gold.  Which probably explains why my bedroom is entirely decked out in red and gold, other than the black furniture.  Yep, right down to the metallic gold walls and the red/gold brocaded comforter.  It sounds odd, but it looks really elegant.

Glasses or contacts: Almost always glasses.  I used to wear contacts, but I hate the feeling of something stuck in my eye.  And it’s nice having one less thing to take care of.  Even if I do look like a dork in glasses.

Height: Somewhere between 5’9″ and 5’10″.  Yeah, I’m tall, but I’ve actually shrunk a little over the years.  I swear my boobs bow me over at least an inch.  It’s not physically possible to stand upright any more.

Instruments that you play: Flute, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone (yes, really!), various percussion pit instruments, and a little piano/keyboard.  Can you tell I was a band geek?

Job Title: Depending on the moment, I’m Adjunct Faculty (fancy term for “Part-Time, Un-tenured, Underpaid College Professor”), Ball and Chain (more commonly referred to as “Queen of the Harpies” – and if anyone gets the Fawlty Towers reference, score 10 points), Mom (pronounced in a drawn-out whine), or CEO/CFO of the household.

Kids: I’m currently doing my civic duty to produce exactly 2.5 kids.  Come August, I guess we’ll have exceeded our quota.  My older daughter is 3 (soon to be 4) and my younger daughter is 18 months.  The next baby’s gender is anyone’s guess.

Lollipop flavor: Lemon.  Or pretty much anything fruity.  I love fruity sweet stuff.

Mantra: “Keep on swimming” and “It is what it is.”  I do better saying them than living by them, but I’m working on it.

Nickname: Well, aside from my husband calling me “Queen of the Harpies,” my grandparents always called me “Jake.”  Oh, and my husband also calls me “Limbs Akimbo” because I’m such a klutz and end up elbowing him in the face every time I do something crazy like roll over in bed.

Occupations you’ve held: Teacher, tutor, retail manager, waitress, grocery store cashier.  Typical stuff.

Power or superpower you wish you had: The ability to freeze time.  There just are NOT enough hours in the day.  And kids grow up WAY too fast.

Quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss.  One of those things I have to remind myself of daily.

Right or Left Handed: Right, but I can do most tasks nearly as well with my left.

Season you love: I honestly love them all equally.  I can’t imagine living in a place where there aren’t four distinct seasons.

Task you dread: Cleaning anything icky.  That includes toilets, bathtubs, nasty leftover containers, and anything containing the bodily fluids that inevitably come along with having 3 cats, 2 kids, and a husband.

Unusual talent: I can wiggle my ears.  And I can contort my arms in weird ways.  I’m just talented like that.

Vegetables you hate: Most of them.  I’m really, really not a veggie person beyond salad veggies and very tame ones like peas and green beans.

What makes you run late: I’m almost always on time, except when I have something really important to get to, and then I’m inevitably stuck behind a logging truck on a two lane road in a no passing zone.  One of the joys of living in New Hampshire.

X-rays you’ve had: So many that I should, by all rights, have turned into a mutant or a glowing puddle of mush or something.  It’s probably safer to count the body parts that haven’t been x-rayed.  Hmm, shoulders and neck?  I think that’s about it… Yeah, I was a total klutz as a kid… and I haven’t gotten much better as an adult.

Yummy food that you make: Ummm, at this point, I’m not so sure that anyone would call anything I make “yummy,” but I’m working on that…

Zoo animal: Definitely polar bears.  Can’t get enough of them!  (As evidenced by my polar bear stuffed animal collection that looks rather odd in my elegant red-and-gold bedroom.)

So now for the quiz: for those of you who know me well – learn anything new?

Photo Credit: zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I’m baaaaaack!

Yeah, I’ve been MIA.  For two whole months!  Did you miss me?  Did you even notice?  (Maybe you shouldn’t answer that!)

It’s been a crazy couple of months.  Spring semester started and I was up to my neck in grading, not to mention side projects, I began my first grad course, I got stuck in the vortex of potty training, and – oh, yeah – I was mired in the utter exhaustion, sickness, and stress of the first half of one of my typically nerve-wracking pregnancies.  I was honestly too tired and sick to even think about blogging for a while there.

But I survived – and I’m starting to actually feel human again!  My work load is mostly under control now. The grad course is off to a good start.  The kids are doing things more independently by the day – including my 3-year-old using the potty all by herself, whew!  Food actually looks, sounds, and smells appealing again.  I finally have some energy and motivation back.  So far, things are looking better with the pregnancy issues.  (I’ll know more next week after my 20 week ultrasound.)  And I’m having a lot of pregnancy-related hip and SPD pain, so I now have plenty of sitting-down time to kill.

And so here I am – ready to dust off my poor, neglected blog!  I want to get back into a regular posting routine for April, but please bear with me while I ease back into it.  This week, in particular, will be challenging (for reasons I’ll share later).

Stay tuned for: pregnancy news (Boy or girl?  Give me your best guess in the comments!), my guide for surviving pregnancy exhaustion, a return to the Pagan Blog Project, and my adventures in the upcoming Creative Goddess e-course April group journey (which really couldn’t have come at a better time – the early coming of spring has me itching to create!).  It should be a fun month!

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Sharing a Birthday

It’s my birthday, but my birthday just isn’t the same any more.

It’s not that I’m getting old and grumpy about the birthdays piling up.  (In fact, I wouldn’t trade my years of experience for anything!)

It’s not even that I’ve lost my childhood enthusiasm for birthdays.  (I most definitely haven’t!)

It’s that my birthday is now lonely.

You see, I was born on my grandfather’s birthday.  It was a special bond that we shared.  Almost every year of my childhood, we celebrated together.  We opened gifts together.  We blew out candles together.  We made all kinds of mischief together.  It was our day to share.

Once, when I was six or seven years old, he teased me by saying I had “stolen” his birthday.  I tearfully offered to give it back and pick a different birthday.  He laughed with that familiar twinkle in his eye, gave me a big hug, and said he couldn’t be happier to share his birthday with me.  It was our day to share.

As I got older and went off to college, we still celebrated together.  He always called me on the morning of January 31 with my grandmother on the other phone.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to each other, always ending in a fit of giggles.  It was still our day to share.

But not any more.

My grandfather passed away suddenly in 2007.  He was so healthy, so full of life, and yet his death was so quick and unexpected that none of us had a chance to say goodbye.

That first birthday after his death was tough.  Instead of him calling me that morning, it was my grandmother, alone.  She still sang to me, but I could feel the pain of her loss as she did.  My heart broke for her.  I felt lonely on my birthday, but I knew she was lonely every day.  It was impossible to celebrate that year.

It’s gotten a little better.  Time does heal wounds.

The sadness of losing him eases a little with each passing year, but my birthday never fails to dredge up a jumble of emotions and memories.  There always seems to be a damper on the celebrations.

But not this year.

This year, for the first time, my three-year-old daughter is “super excited” about my birthday.  She’s been counting down the days for weeks.  (She even wanted to make an advent-type calendar for the countdown!)  How can I feel lonely when I’m surrounded by an amazing family just itching to celebrate?

Yes, the days of sharing my birthday with my grandfather are gone, but I remind myself of how lucky I was to have that bond in the first place.

So this year, I will celebrate with my own family and begin a new tradition: telling the kids the stories of the birthdays I shared with my grandfather.  I think I’ll begin with the year he convinced me a pair of underwear was really a birthday hat.  Yeah, we took turns wearing the “hat” and posing for pictures.  (In my defense, I was only six!)  My daughter will surely get a kick out of that story.

Grandpop, if you’re watching, I hope it makes you smile.

Photo Credit: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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B is for Book of Shadows

This is my third article in the year-long Pagan Blog Project series.  Click here to see all of my articles in this series.

In brainstorming a topic for the letter “B,” one of my first ideas was to write on my personal Book of Shadows.  I discarded the idea almost immediately, but I found my thoughts kept returning to it as the days passed until I felt compelled to choose the topic.

The reason I discarded the idea in the first place is because I haven’t really used my Book of Shadows in years.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I haven’t used my original Book of Shadows in year, but I have used a ”Book” of Shadows.

Allow me to explain the evolution of my Book of Shadows.

Book of Shadows version 1.0

When I first discovered Wicca, I read just about every beginning Wicca book I could find.  And in every one of them, I was instructed to create a Book of Shadows – pronto.

Now a Book of Shadows, for those who don’t know, is basically a self-created notebook of Wiccan information and rituals.  It chronicles a Wiccan’s learning and practices and serves as a unique reference book.  (Covens also have their own Books of Shadows, but I’m a solitary practitioner, so I’ll just be discussing my own personal Book of Shadows here.)

As I dove into learning more on Wicca, it quickly became apparent that I needed to take the advice of those authors and start my own Book of Shadows, both for learning and record-keeping purposes.  I acquired a big, black, blank book and decorated the cover by hand with a pentacle and moons and stars.  (See it in the photo above.)

This Book served me well through my early years.  I divided it into sections for Correspondences, Gods/Goddesses, Rituals, Sabbats, Glossary of Terms, Tarot, Stones, and Oils/Incense/Herbs.  As I learned new material and began creating my own spells and rituals, I faithfully added it all to my Book – hand-written, of course.  For years, I found it very pleasing.

Unfortunately, this book’s binding was not expandable, and I began to run out of room in some sections. Eventually just opening my Book of Shadows caused an avalanche of paper to attack me as all the additional unbound pages, spells, and artwork that didn’t fit and got tucked into the book inevitably fell out.

Frustrated, I gave up on my Book of Shadows.  I still referenced it from time to time, but it mostly collected dust.  I knew that nstead of adding to my existing Book, I needed better solution.  A binder didn’t feel right to me, and I couldn’t bear the thought of transferring everything from my existing Book into a bigger book.  I wasn’t quite sure what my ideal solution was, but I knew I needed to come up with something different in the meantime.

Book of Shadows version 2.0

And boy did I venture into the realm of “different.”  At the time, I happened to be taking several online courses at The Pagan Online Campus (back in its heyday) and I had a wealth of digital material from my classes saved into folders on my hard drive.  That inspired me to keep a digital Book of Shadows, and it turned out to be a great interim solution.

I was no longer limited by the number of pages in my book, and I could save as many files, links, clippings, and my own original typed work as I wanted.  I added sections for all of my studies from Astrology to Shamanism.  And best of all, I could organize and reorganize the “book” to my heart’s content, thanks to the simplicity of virtual file folders and OneNote.

I have used my digital Book of Shadows for about six years now and while it’s been great from time-saving and organizational perspectives, I’ve actually grown less and less fond of it as time has passed.

Why?  Because it’s just not the same as a physical Book of Shadows.  It just doesn’t feel the same.

I miss being able to flip through the pages of my book, reading things I had forgotten that I had written.  Now I have to open documents to see anything, and it’s rare that I bother to open more than the one I am looking for at the time.

I also miss hand-writing my material.  Yes, I suffered through many hand cramps as I diligently copied or wrote page after page, but there is something special about scribing your own book and reading back the words in your own handwriting.  It’s also convenient and magical to perform rituals using your own Book.  With my virtual Book of Shadows, I must endure Times New Roman on a bright screen and tote printouts to my altar.

No, this is definitely not a permanent solution.

Book of Shadows version 3.0

Fortunately, I already have plans for my next Book of Shadows.  I thought long and hard about it and worked out the kinks with my original Book of Shadows - and I think this next version will be a keeper.

In the near(ish) future, I will create a scrapbook-style Book of Shadows.  The book itself will be a leather-covered, post-bound album.  The advantage of using a postbound album is that it is endlessly expandable and the pages are removable for resorting and editing.

I also plan to use plastic page protectors to safely hold my pages.  Plastic isn’t pretty, but it is very functional for ensuring a long life for my precious pages.  I will no longer have to fear spills, drips, splatters, smudges, or tears.

And the part I’m most excited about: I’m a scrapbooker, so I would like to use my talents to make my Book of Shadows not only a book of information, but a book of art in my own style, as well.  I envision pages that are a marriage of design and text, of color and content.  Since I conceived this idea a couple of years ago, I’ve been stashing away papers and embellishments that would be perfect in certain sections of my new Book of Shadows.

I’m excited to have these plans set for my next Book of Shadows, but I’m patiently waiting until I have the time and energy to take on such a massive, fun project.  And once I start it, I hope to use it for the rest of my life.

If you have a Book of Shadows, what form does it take?  Are you satisfied with it?  Please share in the comments!

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Tarot Talk Tuesday: Queen of Pentacles

Queen of Pentacles from The DruidCraft Tarot

 

For my first Tarot Talk Tuesday topic (holy alliteration, Batman!), I decided to discuss the Queen of Pentacles.  This was an easy choice; the energy of the Queen of Pentacles has predominated in my life for the past year.  Here are my thoughts on this powerful lady.

The Queen of Pentacles is matronly, earthy, and practical.  The household is her kingdom and over it she rules with affection, authority, and attention to detail.  She’s firm yet nurturing, graceful but not afraid to get her hands dirty, hard-working yet content, and equally comfortable doing household chores and balancing the family checkbook.  She’s down-to-Earth, no-nonsense, and very reliable.  She’s also a major source of life and growth, encouraging growth in everything from pets and kids to the garden and the bank account.  She’s the ultimate mother, homemaker, and home economist, like June Cleaver, Carol Brady and Martha Stewart wrapped up in one.

Queens of Pentacles have always played a positive supporting role in my life.  Growing up, I revered my aunt/Godmother, the most earthy, motherly, grounded, and business-minded person I have met to date. I have fond memories of her with bare feet and wild hair, a baby on her hip, taking a break from cooking to take a call from a customer, all while patiently enduring sticky hugs from my slightly older cousins.   From an early age, I decided that was the kind of mother I wanted to be.

In college, I met one of my current best friends, a natural domestic goddess.  From cooking to gardening, crafting to mothering, she’s got it all down to an art, without any apparent effort.  She’s a fount of knowledge and inspiration for an aspiring Queen of Pentacles like me.

Yes, I would love to be a Queen of Pentacles.  As a work-from-home mother of two little ones, home and family is definitely the focus of my life, but until recently I’d never been the nurturing, domestic type.  I’m very crafty and practical – a good start – but I’ve always struggled with being content with mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning, being patient enough to foster growth in a garden or in other people, and being satisfied with making the household my primary focus.

Having my first child taught me how to be patient and nurturing.  Having my second child made me realize the importance of those mundane tasks in running a smooth, organized household.  But the skills didn’t come naturally – I’ve spent the past year seeking them out.

Early last year, I asked to be blessed with the energy of the Queen of Pentacles.  For the first time, I really tried to learn how to bake, cook, clean efficiently, organize, garden, and keep a firm hand on the finances.  And for the first time, I started to feel some semblance of peace and a modicum of control over the household.  I have a long way to go yet to achieve grace and fluidity of the Queen of Pentacles, but the domestic energy she has lent to me over the past year has convinced me that I do have it in me to some day be a Queen of Pentacles myself.

Are you a Queen of Pentacles?  Do you have a Queen of Pentacles in your life?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Introducing: Tarot Talk Tuesdays!

I love Tarot.

I love the symbolism, the archetypes, and the history of Tarot.  I love the artwork, the huge variety of themes, the feel of the cards in my hands.  And I love the interpretation – opening myself to communication with the Divine through my own intuition and perception.

I live Tarot.

For seven years, Tarot has played an important role in my life.  I have studied decks, collected decks, and done more readings than I could possibly count.  For much of that time, I’ve read daily, even if I only have time for a simple one-card draw.  My reading has provided early warnings, helped me gain insight into difficult situations, and sparked new ideas and inspiration.  I learn something about myself with each and every reading.

And yet I don’t talk much about Tarot.

For a long time, I was afraid that people wouldn’t take me seriously.  By profession, I am a university math teacher.  People generally expect me to be logical and intellectual rather than intuitive, perceptive, and open-minded.  I wasn’t sure how my hobby would be received, so I kept quiet about it.

After a few years, when I began feeling comfortable enough to mention my passion to some selected friends, their initial reactions usually ranged from laughing as if I were make a joke to scorn that I would believe in such things to horror that I’d involve myself in something like that (whatever that meant).  I did have some wonderfully positive responses from surprising people, and some of the others did eventually change their tune, but I found those initial negative reactions to be very discouraging, so I kept my guard.

Even now, I’m still not completely comfortable talking about Tarot in person.  Instead of risking the frustration of a negative response, I usually prefer to just keep my interests to myself.  I don’t like performing readings on demand to “prove” my reading ability or that Tarot works.  I like reading for others, but for my own comfort, I mostly limit my offers to read to my husband and close friends – people who genuinely appreciate it.

I do, however, get a thrill out of talking about Tarot with open-minded folks online.  I’ve been a member of the Aeclectic Tarot forums since 2007 and I’ve spent many an hour discussing all sorts of Tarot-y things from symbolism to deck creation. And since joining the Goddess Circle in December, I’ve enjoyed starting up some Tarot discussions there, too.  It’s a fun topic!

That got me thinking: Tarot talk lights me up, so why don’t I blog about it?  Why not, indeed!

And so I’d like to introduce my first regular blog series: Tarot Talk Tuesdays!

Every Tuesday, I’ll write about something related to Tarot.  I have no set direction in mind for this series, so my articles could touch on anything: history, symbolism, archetypes, particular cards, particular decks, particular artists, spreads, the act of reading, or whatever else I might be inspired by.

I’m so excited to share my passion for Tarot with this new series!

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A is for Air

I turn to the East:
The realm of Air,
Where Swords cut through to truth.
Here, the Fool walks toward the precipice,
Ready to begin his journey.Welcome East, Winds of Knowledge!
Blessed be!
 
- from A Tarot Quarter Call, source unknown*

Air can seem such an intangible thing, and yet its power is amazing.

We can’t physically see Air, but it surrounds us always, and it is absolutely essential to our survival.

As humans, we understand the life-sustaining power of Air. Without it, we would die in mere minutes.

Anyone who has ever tried to stand upright in a strong gale can attest to the raw power of Air. So can anyone who has experienced the destruction of wind during a storm, or anyone who has seen the awesome effects of wind erosion on seemingly-indestructible rock.

Yes, the power of Air is very real. And as with all of the Elements, its power should be deeply respected.

In a magical sense, Air is just as powerful.

Air represents intellect, knowledge, thoughts, communication, and truth. The thoughts that pop in your head – that’s Air blowing ideas into your mind. The words that you vocalize and someone else hears – Air, as well, providing the bridge for communication. And the lies that are exposed – that’s Air cutting straight through to the truth.

Do you have a sharp intellect? Or an analytical or imaginative mind? Are you a good communicator or writer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are probably strongly attuned to Air.

In ritual, Air usually corresponds to the East, to the Athame, and to the color yellow. On the altar, Air is often represented by incense because the smoke reveals currents of air and the scent travels through the air. In calling the Quarters, Air is usually the first Element invoked or invited. In Tarot, Air corresponds to the suit of Swords, representing the mind and communication


Meditation for Air

My very first meditation experience focused on the Elements, beginning with Air. At the time, I struggled a great deal with quieting my mind enough to meditate, so I was delighted to find that by focusing on the physical manifestations of the Elements, I was able to transition into a place of inner quiet. Years later, Elemental meditations are still my favorite and I’ve created my own meditations that I use to attune myself to the Five Elements. Today I will share my Air meditation with you.

Choose a quiet location for this exercise. Try to choose an outdoor spot, or near an open window, or somewhere with a draft or gently-blowing fan nearby – anywhere with a soft-to-moderate flow of Air.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Begin to breathe deeply and slowly. As you inhale, feel the fresh air enter your nose, fill your lungs, and purify your body. As you exhale, feel the air whooshing out of your mouth or nose, carrying with it all the impurities in your body. Feel how it is cool as it enters your body and how warm it is as it leaves.

Now feel the air on your skin. Does it feel cool? warm? Is the movement of the air gentle, like a breeze? stronger, like a gust?

As you feel the movement of Air, let your mind take you to a pleasant location where the wind gently blows on you. Don’t force the imagery; let the feeling of the air on your skin carry you away into your scene. Savor the sensations the air creates on your skin and allow the air to breathe images into your mind.

See the effects of the wind. Perhaps ripples form on the surface of water, or a kite soars on an updraft. Maybe a pinwheel spins in a child’s hand, or streamers dance in the air, or clouds race across the sky. Take a few moments to enjoy the beauty of Air.

Listen to the effects of the wind. Do you hear a gentle breath of air? a whistling keen? a powerful rush? What other sounds are created by the wind? Do you hear wind chimes tinkling? a flag snapping? leaves rustling? Take a few moments to enjoy the music of Air.

Smell the scents being carried to you on the wind. Do you smell the salt of the sea? the acrid smell of a coming storm? Did you catch a whiff of something delicious being cooked? Or perhaps the scent of wildflowers? Take a few moments to savor the scents of Air.

Remain in your scene as long as you wish. When you are ready to leave, again focus on your breath, deep and slow, and feel the wind from your scene gently blowing on you as you slowly return to your body’s physical location.

Continue to breathe slowly as you become more aware of your body. Thank the Element of Air for sustaining and cleansing your body, for providing delights to your senses and for sharpening your mind. Slowly open your eyes and feel the purifying effects of Air around and inside you.



* I like to give credit where credit is due, but I do not know the author of A Tarot Quarter Call.  I came across it a number of years ago on the blog Asiya’s Shadows, but credit was neither claimed nor attributed.  It has also been published without credit in “How to Read Tarot in 7 Easy Steps” by Frances Osborne.

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