cedar_grove: (Storm)
I have spent several weeks in contemplation of when, for me, the new year should begin, or perhaps has already begun. I tell myself this, and not that it is procrastination against the beginning of an undertaking, or perhaps the opposite, a wish for a precipitous beginning of said undertaking. The fact remains, I have questioned, and still question when a new year begins for an individual. When does it begin for me?

As a Wiccan, should my new year have begun in November, as Samhain passed us into the gathering season of winter, or did my new year begin almost a month later with the start of a journey that has led me to the threshold upon which I now stand – or may even have unknowingly passed beyond already? Did my personal new year begin as a new year of my life began with my birthday on December 11th or with the new solar year, and returning light at Yule? Or should I simply do as most folk seem to do and say my new undertaking will begin with the new calendar year as 2016 gives way to 2017?

There are so many conventions that we follow, cultural and religious, and some that fall into both categories. The notion of the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ have never appealed to me, and not just because many (if not most of the people I personally know) give up on those resolutions soon after making them – myself included in the past. Perhaps that’s why, through this soul searching, I have shied away from that option, and why I questioned in the first place.

Through my introspection, not just of recent days, but of many months, perhaps even years – and extrospection (though Google tells me that even though technically this is the anonym of introspection, it is rarely used), I have discovered a thing or two. This is the point at which I feel I must type the disclaimer that, if you think this part of my journal entry is about you, well… that’s your prerogative, I suppose, but this is my journal, and these are my observations. However, as the saying goes, if the cap fits… or the shoe fits, then… be Cinderella if you must.

There are too many people out there who can’t, or perhaps worse, refuse to see past the end of their own garden path. Such people trap themselves in their own misery, and as prisoners lash out at those around them, transferring their misery and negativity to people who are merely trying to help them realize their own state of being. I’ve been an enabler of such behaviors for the sake of a quiet life, because the gods know that when I’ve tried to do otherwise, all holy hell has broken loose.

Loyalty, like charity, must begin at home. Blind loyalty to other people or beliefs or any other thing that one can be loyal to is often self-destructive. Loyalty to someone or something that reinforces or promotes self-deprecation or a negative self-image, no matter who or what that someone or something is; what part that person or something else plays in your life, is an act of cowardice, not loyalty, and ultimately damaging for you and for others in your life.  As with love, if you cannot love yourself, you cannot properly love others – if you cannot be loyal to yourself, then your loyalty to others is misguided at best.

Ignoring the wise words of good friends and loved ones is just plain stupid and can only lead to trouble and pain. You might think your reasons for arguing the point (inwardly or outwardly) are good and valid reasons, but experience and hindsight will always come around like a two-headed dog to bite you on the ass. When that happens, you know the people that had your best interests at heart when they spoke the advice because, while they might remind you of what they said, they’ll never say, “I told you so,” and will just be there in quiet support while you find your feet after being knocked on your smarting backside.

There’s great sadness in the realization that sometimes, people will – by their own thoughts and actions – disqualify themselves from certain parts they have played in your life, and you can fight and flail all you like to keep them there because you want them there, but if that want isn’t truly and unconditionally matched, there’s little you can do but create a negative and toxic situation for the both of you that is ultimately damaging. Conversely, people can sometimes surprise you. When you least expect it, with a single word, or a short message, people you might have once been close to, that you didn’t even realize you missed, can give you a boost when you’re at your lowest ebb, and remind you that they’re still there.

In all of the above, I’m drawn to, and feel the need to also share a story that was given to me as a ‘lesson’ by one of those wise friends many, many years ago - a wonderful man by the name of Alawn Tickhill - who told me the Story of the Sparrow – and you can find it here.

So… anyway, the conclusion I came to, is that really and ultimately, when and why I start the undertaking is entirely up to me. Also, it’s no big secret what the undertaking is.  It’s just that I’ve been wanting to do more journal writing for a very long time now, and I thought, well, with a new year, it might be time to start this journaling journey.  I’d like to say I’ll write every day. Even though that might be my intent, I know that sometimes life is going to get in the way. I also know that’s perfectly fine.

What I write, how often I write, and why I write – well, those things are my prerogative and my responsibility too.
cedar_grove: (Default)

There are three women, wisest in the world.
They live beneath a vast spreading ash-tree.
One is Urth, the second Verthandi, and the third
is called Skuld, the elf-queen. They are the future
and the past, they are the present with its potential
and its history. They are fate, they are fortune,
they are the laws of cause and consequence.
Our lives are bounded by these laws. Your fate,
my fate, the fate of nations - all are in their hands.

--Scandinavian Poetic Edda

Similarly, we must continually sift through our experiences, determining which patters we will find productive to continue and which should be eliminated. At any point in time, we have the power to conrol the future.

Except that we don't - not always... and rarely to the extent, or in the directions that we often need - otherwise there wouldn't exist such phrases as, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,' because if we had the power to conrol the future, we wouldn't have lemons in that... unless of course we chose the lemons, which begs the question... Did I know how tough this was going to be and choose it anyway? There were things I knew and things I didn't know going into the experience, that's for sure... and I've found that my experiences were matched by another colleague's, in almost the same way. One thing that makes 'dealing' with everything that much more difficult is feeling like I'm not understood, that my feelings are not valid somehow... *shrug* I don't know; that it should all be someone easier. Not the first time I've been 'away from home' right?

So I examine the experience, one thing at a time and in all honesty, put it out there... take what you will, or not:
Uploading my CV to the website was something I did, but didn't expect to hear anything from anyone. These websites work for other people, right?

The first time the guy called, I turned him down out of hand. Yes it was because of the commitment to Cruisetrek. When he called back five minutes later, to give the news of the short term of the contract, I was still afraid to consider it. But many irons in the fire, and something had to turn up... and I was at a stage where I was desperate to work. I was struggling for money, my reputation with people in my family, people who cared about me was suffering. Patience and the ability to help me; support me, by those that love me was suffering, wearing thin and my own self esteem was right at rock bottom. So I said I would consider it - and there began the roller coaster ride that led me here.

The interview wasn't like anything I'd ever experienced. Hindsight tells me the decision had been made on the strength of my CV alone. I don't think I was asked a single question you expect at interview... educational practise, classroom management, underlying Philosophy, nothing... and was practically told on that occasion he would make the offer. That was Tuesday. The offer was made on Wednesday.

Thursday I spent so very much of the day back and forth in a state between indecision and panic, certainty and tears because I couldn't do it. I must have swung back and forth between whether I was going to accept the job or not. Obviously I did. And then the real fears set in. And I didn't want to let anyone down by changing the decision, by going back on what I'd said I would do, and all of the postitives it would bring.

I had four days. Four day to decide what I might need in a place I had no clue about - to decide what was important to take and what I could leave behind, and a limited amount of space to take what I needed. Four days to prepare mentally, and emotionally for being away from everyone I love, everyone that gives me strength, and not knowing when or how we would talk to or see each other. I buried all of that... tried to embrace the experience instead of acknowledging and accepting that fear, and working through it in the best way possible in those 4 days. Was it pride? Did I not want to appear weak?

I flew to Cairo. I was told that I would be met by someone from the school. In my naivety I was expecting someone from the SLT... even another teacher, no... it was a driver. A strange Egyptian man who spoke little English. To contextualise this also - it was 11 at night. I spent over an hour believing I was being kidnapped - sold into slavery or something. Of course I wasn't. I was taken to the hotel where I was being put up for 3 nights... while I got 'settled' with the person that the head teacher had said would share with me.

It. didn't. happen. Not that way at all. Because the housing agent the school uses to find the apartments couldn't find us one where we wanted to be. The girl and I that were going to be sharing were left to fend for ourselves. Okay for her, she was already in an apartment, I was nowhere. Another staff member whirlwinded me along, took me under her 'wing' as it were, helped find somewhere for the girl and I, and things I needed - a friend to a degree, though that's another story. The other girl decided she didn't want to move from her original apartment into another one in the same area. She'd wanted to share because it was a different area. I was left in the lurch again. It turned out all right, in a way, as I have my own place, and the girl I was to share with left in a hurry only a few days later, but that's not the point. The point is, my early experiencee was less than ideal, heightened the fear and left me defensive and closed off - to everything and everyone, and I don't think I've ever truly come out of that. Sure I have moments... moments when I dare to do things, and in those moments I feel almost almost normal, but they are few and far between. The rest of the time I'm stuck in this... twilight zone of just throwing myself into the job at work, coming home to talk to the one I love in the evening, and knowing that I'm doing at least something for our family... I don't want brownie points, mostly because I hate the way I've been with everyone. The way it's all affected me, I feel that weakness that I never watned to feel in the first place. I should be better than this. I shouldn't be affected by this. And I know that's a hard line to take as well, and there will be people out there saying I should give myself a break, but when something like this has changed me in the way it has I can't accept that. I won't.

And just in the spirit of open honesty, to have everything out in the open, there isn't a week gone past where I haven't cried on at least three or four days... sometimes crying myself to sleep. Not for sympathy or 'poor me' do I say this - just because it is. I cry for being lonely, yes, self pity, but worse - I cry because I am hurting the one I love instead of making her feel loved. I cry for her pain.
cedar_grove: (Default)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

I will always have fears, but I need not be my
Fears, for I have other places within myself
from which to speak and act.

--Parker J Palmer

No feeling takes over our lives more suddenly or more completely than fear.

I act and speak (or don't speak) out of fear far too often... and don't even get me started on my 'fear' of authority. I'm 43 years old, and put an authority figure in front of me, and I become a gibbering three year old. What bugs me is that I can't figure where that fear came from. The others, yeah... but that one..?

My dad was often forceful, but... I wouldn't say that he was overly so. I was never slapped or spanked as a child, except for one single time – and I can remember that vividly – and that was my mother that slapped me around the face.

There was one short period in time where my mother and father had a wobble in the marriage. Dad left for not very long... (I can't clearly recall for how long, but I don't think it was more than a week)... but during that time, being the daddy's girl that I am, I missed him terribly. I was having a 'grown up child's' tantrum in front of mum, saying that I wanted daddy – I suppose, in hindsight, it could have seemed like I was blaming her for his not being there. We were in the kitchen and she slapped my face to shut me up. It's the only time I can recall that either of my parents ever slapped me... and for that reason it was very effective... but it is certainly not cause enough for me to be as afraid of authority figures as I am.

My fear of authority even goes so deep as to have hampered my own exerting of authority at one time or another... certainly in my adult life anyway. Sure I can be 'bossy' from time to time – but that's different to having, and exercising authority over others. I'm uncomfortable doing it – though I have in both my personal and professional lives, been in positions of authority – so I try to temper it with a mandate of 'shared responsibility.' Works to a degree, but sometimes you just have to put your foot down.

I remember very clearly, when I was running my first Wiccan Circle, having some problems with discipline among the members, and I remember writing Alawn (my mentor/initiator) at the time, only to receive a letter back that was as much a slap on the wrist as it was encouragement. He simply asked, "Are you the High Priestess of this Circle or not?" I knew by the question that it was time to take up the rod of authority and use it.

My other big fear is a fear of failure – which let's face it, is a fear that most of us have at some point or another, to varying degrees. It's a fear that stops a lot of us from trying to do something... or makes us feel like our efforts are inadequate even before we have begun... I think I sometimes flicker between both. Couple that with my bloody minded independence and inability to ask for help and it's a wonder I'm not a useless mess all the time. Afraid to fail, too independent to ask for help that might help me succeed... LOL... but somehow I manage... not always gracefully, to deal with my fears or at least find a way around them.

Other fears... bugs, ticks, (yeah I know ticks are bugs, but they get their own category), and spiders... I deal because I have to. It's a different kind of dealing – a different kind of courage, (mostly based on common sense – some of those things could hurt me if I'm not careful, and I don't always know which ones).

One fear I don't deal with at all well... and that's my fear of hurting the ones I love, (my guy, my friends, family), of pushing them away, of them leaving me alone... this is the most self destructive of the fears, because in trying to avoid the hurting – I often do or say things that hurt more. In trying to protect them from 'imagined' hurts, I'm clumsy and end up conjuring hurts that were not there in the first place. This is the fear that I need to address the most... that I need to banish the most... and honestly the answer is in the trust I have for these people and their love for me. In trusting them to understand me when I am honest and straightforward, to know where I'm coming from with what I say and do, I'm sure we could, together, eliminate that fear from me and from them.
cedar_grove: (carolina)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

Who sees all beings in his own Self
and his own Self in all beings,
loses all fear.

--The Isa Upanishad

If we could only see the bee, or the bird, or our enemy as a brief living center like ourselves, we could let them go on their way without pulling us into opposition.

I totally get the sentiment that the author meant when he talked about the yellow jacket and the impulse he used to have, because of his mother, to swat the little buggers whenever they came near, and also that this wasn't really the point of what he was saying – he wasn't espousing the yellow-jacket's right to life and all that, just the view that we shouldn't really see ourselves in opposition to any living creature, but for me this entry has a totally other meaning right now.

About to head out to NC, I'm getting ready to face a few things – some, I will confess with a can of Raid in my hand, (or a big rolled up newspaper). The spiders have to go. There are no two ways about it. I will not have my guy being uncomfortable with them being around. Mir makes no secret of the fact that she is scared of spiders, so it's my job to rid the house of them wherever and whenever I find them, their cobwebs too, and I don't at all mind doing it.

For myself, though, two big 'fears' if you like make some of the things I want for us to do while I'm there a daunting thought. First of all there are the stinging things. They are 'bigger' and 'better' than our weedy little yellow jackets over here in the UK… and being allergic to stings, I'll run if a buzzing thing buzzes near me – and if I'm by myself, it has to be the Raid. The other thing that really really makes my flesh creep, just the thought of them, are the deer ticks. It's not just the fact of the diseases they carry, just… ugh! I can't even…

Anyway – I want to be able to lie in the hammock, or in the grass with Mir as we read together, and spend long summer days outside on the weekend and in the evenings. We can keep the mosquitoes at bay with the 'Off' lamps, but what about those pesky ticks? It's the one and only thing I'm really going to have to work on, because those long summer days are for being out in the fresh air!


Mar. 31st, 2011 10:07 pm
cedar_grove: (Default)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

As the sun cannot withhold its light,
we cannot withhold what feels real.

It is so simple and yet so brave to say that we are hurt when we are hurt, that we are sad when we are sad, that we are scared when we are scared. In very direct and daily ways, this energy of realness-this mana-changed situations because the immediate expression of our truth released light and warmth that influences the life we are a part of. This is the way our spirit shines.

I'm not a brave person. I'm the first to admit that. Perhaps that's why I stopped saying such things... because it hurts more when you've been that brave and haven't been taken notice of - or have been castigated for it, which is even worse. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to write about today. I've covered it to death elsewhere, and I wanted to think of one of those things that I haven't said, that I've been keeping bottled inside, which actually I realised in the very early hours of this morning.

I don't think I'd actually been asleep for long, and I don't know what woke me, or what I was dreaming about but... it was dark. I mean really dark. Living in the city, with a lot of light polution, I don't get that very often... and having a street light or two right outside of my window, even with the curtains closed, it's never completely dark... but when I woke, the street lights were out, and it was very very dark.

I came to admit something to myself... something I've previously realised, but kind of swept away, dismissed, denied.

I'm afraid of the dark.

Feels silly. Only little kids are afraid of the dark. There's nothing there in the dark that's not there in the light... right? And it's really silly to stay in the middle of your bed so that whatever's down there on the floor, within reach of the edge of it doesn't get you...

But that's what I found myself doing, for several long minutes actually - I have no idea how long exactly, because of course I have no clock in my room, have to rely on my phone to see what time it is, and to do that I have to reach out past the end of my bed and... it was dark.

I calmed down after a while... so whether it was just made more accute by whatever it was I was dreaming about before I woke up, I don't know, but the feeling was there.

I'm afraid of the dark - and if there's an atmosphere too - forget it. It's a shame though, because I don't much enjoy the light polution either.

However, give me starlight, and moonlight... now that is beautiful, right there.

Sometimes I think I'm a very confused kind of person.


cedar_grove: (Default)

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