The Key to Happiness

If you’ve spent any time anywhere (whether online or in bookstores, etc.) looking at self-help material, you no doubt encountered probably dozens of titles about the ‘secret to happiness.’ It is something that we, as a society, endlessly struggle to try to find, spending probably millions of dollars on everything from books, CDs/mp3s, retreats, gurus, diets, exercise programs or personal trainers, spa treatments, clothes, drugs – you name it. In an amazon search I just did simply typing in “secret to happiness”, there were just over 6,000 results. I had no idea happiness was such a profitable market. And if you’ve spent any time here in blogland, you’ll find tons of New Agers promising that certain crystals or meditations or whatnot will get you there or an explanation of the achievement of happiness that reads like a doctoral thesis on quantum physics. If quantum physics is happy at you, fabulous! But I promise you don’t need to learn it if you don’t already study it to be happy.Now, in spite of being a joy-filled person by nature (for which I am enormously grateful), I still have a tendency to get in my own way. I still get cranky and moody and irritable and bitchy and just, well, lost. And while I have learned a lot – particularly over the course of the last 5+ years – one of the things I’ve learned is that I know very little. And I’ve reached a point where I am pretty okay with that. I’m happy to marvel at the mystery of the Universe and enjoy the part I play in it. There are, though, two things that I Know that I Know – the key to happiness being one of them – and it is my great joy to share them with you here today. In plain English. For free!

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

courtesy of stock.xchng

1) What you focus on grows.

2) Gratitude is the key to happiness.

 

Yup. It’s that simple. It just figures that something so seemingly elusive is so simple to find. Now, note that I said simple – not easy. There’s a difference. Simple means uncomplicated. It is not the antonym for difficult.

 

As for the first one – the phrase ‘law of attraction’ probably springs to mind. I haven’t read any of Abraham Hicks material and I may be one of the few Pagans out there in the world who has not read “The Secret” – mostly because I’d already learned the principle from my Teacher. If you haven’t read either of these yourself, you don’t really need to if you just remember #1 up there (I know I personally have a hard time taking anyone who uses the word ‘vortex’ seriously, so if that’s you, too, you’re not alone). That’s the gist of it. Of course, if you want to do some reading, feel free! The bottom line is that the fundamental principle of ‘what you focus on grows’ is NOT froo-froo, New Age fluff. No, that part’s for real. I imagine if you take a hard look through your life and be painfully honest with yourself, you will find it to be true.

 

As for the second one – the expression of genuine gratitude is the fastest way to shift any negative or purely destructive energy and bring it into balance. Balance is our Natural, dynamic state. Everyone’s. When you connect with your Natural way of Being, happiness follows. When I express genuine gratitude, I direct my commentary to my particular conceptualization of the Divine (Momma and Papa), but don’t worry – we’re not going to leave the Atheists out there in the cold. Simply stating, “I am grateful for *fill in the blank*” totally works, as long as you’re genuine. And these don’t need to be earth-shaking sentiments. In fact, it’s being grateful for the little things that I’ve found just amps it up. Blue skies. Flowers that smell yummy. Coffee. Indoor plumbing. Stinky French cheese (I don’t have any in my fridge at the moment, but I’m grateful it exists in the world). Cigarettes. Hot water. African black face soap (it is the shit for combination skin). How it smells right after it rains. Coffee. Body glitter. Baby giggles (if you don’t know any babies, go to youtube). Youtube. Kittens. Deep, belly laughs. The internet. The color magenta. Picnics. Sleeping in. Really awesome sex. Traffic lights turning green right as I approach an intersection. Have I mentioned coffee?  Just try it. For two weeks, write down a minimum of 20 things you’re grateful for every day. Every day, no exceptions. And you need to be genuinely grateful for each and every thing you write down. If you have a hard time with that part, take a moment for each one and imagine what the world (or your world) would be like if that didn’t exist. I’d like to take a moment to remind you that I said this was simple, not easy.

 

If you manage your two weeks having been genuinely expressing gratitude for at least 20 things every day, I think you’ll find that at the end of your two weeks, you’ll be a hell of a lot happier than you are right now. And if you’re pretty happy now, imagine how much happier you’ll be incorporating this practice into your routine! And it’s cumulative! It just keeps building. Perhaps you’re remembering a part in the beginning of my post where I said I still get bitchy and cranky, etc. and wondering why you should buy into this stuff I’m saying if I still experience moments where I’m lacking happiness. Have you ever gone to a gym after either having never been to one or there being a pretty long lapse of time between visits? You head over to the free weights, pick up the 10, 20, or 50 lb-ers (some weight that you think would be manageable) and start doing reps. But your muscles aren’t accustomed to working that hard. They tire. Pretty quickly. And, by the way, you’re wearing a weighted suit when you do all this. You can only build that muscle so fast without your body shaking and collapsing in protest. It’s the same king of thing here. The weighted suit you’re wearing is all of the shit piled on top of who you really are, your True Self. The more you “work out,” the closer you come to Balance, the more you start to shed pieces of that suit which, in turn, makes working out easier, which then means you shed more of that suit, and it’s an amazing and magical cycle. It’ll kick your ass 100 ways to Sunday – I won’t lie about that – but if you persevere, you’ll get to where it is you want to be. And you can start it with the simple expression of genuine gratitude.

Reality blogging – in the Truest sense

I try to be a very tolerant person. I think it’s a good quality to possess and express and consider it a key ingredient in the recipe for world peace. But I find I have little to no tolerance for “reality TV.”  I consider the phrase a misnomer. In my experience, and when I have forced myself to sit down and watch it (mostly when it was first introduced to our cinematic existence), I concluded little other than it being an unecessarily excessive drama-filled production; a caricature of the human experience. And because I place such an enormous value on Truth, any time I encounter or hear about it, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that makes me want to spit. So I do my best to avoid it, not wanting to waste energy.

Though somewhat less potent, my response to what I consider “reality blogging” is similar. It’s something I’ve written about (here) before, but apparently, I’m not quite done with it, so here I am again. Before I continue, I think it’s important for me to clarify that I am, by Nature, an Idealist. I am Joy-filled and Innocent (in the Truest sense of the word). I am not a cynic. Nor am I pessimistic. Really. So throughout the remainder of this post when I’m discussing these kind of blogs, it’s important for me to communicate my distaste for them does not come from that place.

I am all for positivity and positive thinking and energy and the laws of attraction and Love and Gratitude. They are sources of hope and healing and, seriously, I conclude that there’s not enough of any of them in the world; that if there were more of them, the world (and everyone in it) would be more healed and, in general, better. Not the kind of better that leads to debates about superiority or inferiority or judgment, but the kind of better that only compares each person with that person. Better as in more a manifestation of their True Selves.

Now, it is damn hard work to get to that place of True Self and certainly to live from there. I know because I’m working on it. And instead of things getting easier the further I go, they seem to get more challenging as I root through all the shit that’s piled on top of Who I Really Am in an effort to get rid of it. Yet, I find I am also filled with more resources to be able to move through that process, and the rewards are great. The “reality blogs” that frustrate me are the ones that are fairytale-esque, the ones that are only positivity, that show only the light-filled portion of that journey or only the “end” of it.

Perhaps you’re wondering why, if I’m all Joy-filled and Hopeful, something that’s so positive bothers me so much. I’ve been wondering that myself, and here is what I’ve come up with: Those blogs are the air brushed and glamour shot photos of the pursuit of self-actualization. As a Witch and a person, I have dedicated myself to being an instrument of healing in the world. Healing – synonymous with self-actualization, for in self-actualization we heal all that is not our Truest Self – is not easy. Healing is messy and painful and uncomfortable and takes far longer than anyone ever wants it to (anyone who has actually attempted to pursue psychological, spiritual, emotional, or even serious physical healing will attest to that).  Because I have committed myself to being an instrument of healing (and perhaps because of my professional training as a counselor), I think anyone considering healing should have fully informed consent before they begin. They need to know how much it’s going to suck in the middle, how it will probably get worse before it gets better (and that’s a good sign!), how it will be a process and, depending on the nature of the healing, a lifelong pursuit. So these blogs that only showcase the “end product” or the light half of the adventure serve as false advertising, mystify the process and possibly create disillusionment in anyone who reads them who is considering healing. Such disillusionment can be downright damaging, sometimes irreparably so because if one person comes across a blog like that and tries to pursue healing and then runs smack into the actual Reality of the process, the consequences – and I’m NOT being dramatic here – can be as severe as to be literally deadly. I don’t understand something, though. The question I have for those bloggers who paint such an unrealistic picture of healing and growing is this: if you actually grew or healed or are pursuing growth and healing, then I can guarantee you did or are working at it – why would you exclude the actual work part from what you share?  Do you not realize that in doing so, you dishonor not only the process itself, but your Self as well as the progress you have made and are making? How can anyone share in your triumph with you when you don’t talk about what it was or is that you’re triumphing over?

Now, to be clear, I’m not advocating anyone be a fount of negativity or talk about nothing BUT their trials or obstacles without following that up with how they moved through them. But if you’re going to blog about a pursuit of growth or healing, then I think you have the responsibility to your readers – whether your readers number 5 or 5, 000 – to be honest and real, to include the dark as well as the light. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that movies or books based on true stories are so much more powerful and meaningful than those that aren’t. So even though it can be hard, even when it might not paint the prettiest picture of you, I encourage any bloggers writing about growth and healing to include those moments of stumbling, those moments that seem less-than-beautiful if not downright ugly.

It is our imperfections that make us perfect and beautiful.

Perhaps you think that I take this whole blogging thing too seriously and are saying to yourself, “Blogs are for entertainment – Who looks to them for a life-changing experience? Get a grip, lady and chill out.” But I’ve looked to blogs for that very reason, for connection with others, to try to find out if I was the only one who had experiences like those I’ve had, if there was truly hope out there, if anyone who’d had similar problems had made it through to some better place. When we are dying of thirst, we will hunt feverishly, almost maniacally, for any source to quench us, to sustain us; and, when the internet provides immediate access and connection to a host of the world’s population, surely someone out there could offer us the life-giving substance we so desperately need. And we can stay anonymous so no one will know how we struggle and where we fall short! So, if one has access, what better place to look?

In light of all of that, I commit to you that I will never try to gloss over or sugar coat the healing process, the process of unfolding and becoming my True Self; I will share my struggles (though not wallow in them) with you and I will share how I move through them. I will be honest and authentic and seek to inspire encouragement and hope. And I welcome dialogue, your stories, your feedback, your input, so while I certainly appreciate all the “likes” for my posts, if you feel moved to do so, please do comment. I genuinely want to know what you think and how you’re doing, and if I can be of any help, I am honored to share in your journey.

Stirring the pot

We recently moved, and because the process of the move was a little slower than I would have liked and frought with a number of obstacles magically overcome (I am speaking literally there), I had a lot of opportunity to ask some big questions and spend some time in serious reflection.

My parents were on my mind a lot at that time and, consequently, my religious upbringing and my current spiritual affiliation. I’ve written a lot about my parents and being raised in a conservative Christian household, so I won’t rehash that here. Spirituality and spiritual differences is one of the huge points of contention between my parents and myself and is one of several thorns in the side of our relationship (my non-heterosexual orientation and polyamorous lifestyle rank right up there as well).  I’m not sure which of those three they’re most concerned will damn my soul to a firey oblivion, but in all seriousness I imagine it’s a big fear of theirs that I (obviously) do not share. So during this period of transition, I found myself pondering the Christian “answer” to eternal life/’salvation’ engrained in me since before I could remember: inviting Jesus into one’s heart and accepting him as one’s ‘savior’ knowing that is not something I will share with them.

Now, I left the Church about 10 years ago when it stopped making sense to me and I found my spiritual home in Witchcraft and Paganism; however, I spent more than the first half of my life practicing that religion so I’m pretty well-versed in it and its doctrine. Regardless of whether one chooses to believe the Bible’s “divinely inspired origin” as Christians contend (which doesn’t really matter to me personally either way – lots of books contain valuable information, insight and Truth), for the sake of empathizing with my parents, I tried to step into those particular shoes during my time of introspection and reflection. I thought about how JC almost always spoke in metaphors and parables. And I concluded that where a lot of Christians miss the boat is that they forget this tendency of his and take what appear to be simple words literally. The thing is, just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they are/were intended to be interpreted concretely. I thought about the various traits that JC embodied – Love, Compassion, Mercy, Kindness, Faith, Hope, etc. – and I came to the conclusion that was what he meant with that whole, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” bit. That the goal was to integrate those characteristics and traits into one’s self and spirit, to plant them, let them take root, grow, and bloom. I happen to think that those characteristics are pretty awesome and the Goddess and God embody them and have told me I should as well. So, despite the different paths we may take to get there, my parents and I could very well end up on the same page as far as they’re concerned.

Witchcraft is a mystery religion. It is very straightforward in its identification about that. Having practiced a mystery path for about 10 years now, I have a certain calmness and level of tolerance for ambiguity that I have experienced some others as not having, which brings me to my second major realization: All religions are mystery religions. Some are just more straightforward about declaring and owning it. The thing is, because of the fact that we’re spiritual beings having a human experience, part of that human experience is the not knowing. The Big Three (and any number of other organized religions) can try to take as much mystery out of it all they want through the creation of rules, guidelines, by-laws, etc., but I think they do a disservice to their followers as a result.

I’m not saying that all the leaders of those faiths behave in such a way. I think a huge part of the problem comes from not distinguishing the difference between religion and spirituality – one is man-made and the other is Divinely gifted, respectively. The former is supposed to be a vehicle for connecting with and expressing the latter, though that is sadly not often reality. The ones who pitch the rules and religion over the spirituality are like used car salesmen; and, most (though certainly not all) of the buyers out there either don’t know enough, don’t want or are too lazy to ask questions. These religious leaders (because when they behave this way, I don’t think they deserve the title of ‘spiritual leaders’ seeing as they’re not engaging Spiritual Truth) make it seem clean, clear-cut, concrete, and straightforward with no grey area; however, in spite of all the rules and regulations, there are still inconsistencies, still contradictions, still unanswerable questions, uncertainty and the unknown. It’s like a redacted car fax report. There is still mystery. There will always be mystery.

Most people, though, fear the unknown, so they buy into the idea that it’s not really there – that those redacted sections aren’t important – and immerse themselves in the following of the aforementioned rules, regulations, and routine. They tell themselves that they have a step-by-step formula to follow. But here’s where it gets a bit dodgier – because there are inconsistencies and contradictions, they can sort through and choose which pieces they like and which ones are easiest for them and then ignore the rest (hello, KKK, nazis, scary-ass cults and other zealous fundamental sub-groups). And all of this serves the purpose of making them feel better about who they are and where their soul will go when their body dies. Really, I think that those literalist practitioners of the Big Three and other rigid organized religions are just as uncertain as the rest of us – whether you follow some other spiritual path or not. They just cling tighter to the routine when those pesky questions that pull at the rest of us about the mystery all around us dog them in order to avoid facing the questions head on and to ease the existential anxiety the lack of answers leaves with them.

But I don’t think the answer is in trying to avoid those questions, trying to escape that faceless opponent who’s one hell of  a grappler. I know it’s scary, but engaging with the Divine and Its Mystery, I am convinced, is always better than not. So if you’re struggling – whatever your path and affiliation may be – your best bet, I think, is one of two options: A) Scream, fight against, resist, cuss, kick and claw that mystery till your throat is raw and your hands and knees are bloody. If you’ve tried that course and it hasn’t gotten you what you’re looking for, try this on for size: B) Embrace that Mystery, lean into it even more. Instead of trying to fight and resist that nameless, faceless, mysterious figure, let it pin you to the ground and stare straight into your soul. Then give it a big, passionate, and sloppy kiss. Follow that kiss up with the innocent giggle of a new lover. Stare right back and ask it what it wants. Then, Listen.

It’s getting to be that time of year

We just celebrated Litha here at our house, and as a precursor to the celebration, I asked my wife/Teacher to have a review with me so we could go over together all the lessons that I’ve been focusing on (or not, as it was in some areas) since our last Samhain. I don’t know what it’s like for other Witches (and if you’re a practicing Witch reading this, feel free to chime in here and tell me about your experience because I really am curious), but for the Witches in our house, if we haven’t worked through our individual life/spiritual lessons enough throughout the year the result is that October sucks. A lot. What happens is that the Universe dredges up all those lessons and shoves them in our faces all at once to give us 30 days to work on them, move through them, and complete them all before the end of the year.

If it’s hard for you to imagine what that might be like, you can think of it like this: Imagine that you’ve only straightened up your house all year long. You haven’t ever really cleaned it. So that first day of October, then, all the dirt, grime, crap, dust, moldy-refrigerator science projects that never got thrown away, etc. rains down from above to cover everything and everyone. And you have 30 days to clean up 335 days of putrid and disgusting crap and get it to a sparkling shine.  To put it in perhaps even more understandably concrete terms, think about this: Have you ever had one of those days where everything that could go wrong seems to do just that? But you also happen to be super hormonal and you have the flu and food poisoning. Oh, and just to keep things interesting, you still have to keep living your life per usual. No calling in sick. That’s what October is like around here if we haven’t worked on our shit. That’s what October has been like for me for the past few years. And in the event that we can’t get it all cleaned up by the end of those thirty days, the mess not only stays but more gets added to it so that the crappiness of October stretches out for, well, it’s been known to stretch out for the entire next year.

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about all that with the intention of throwing a glorified pity party. As far as I specifically (meaning my personal shit) am concerned, it’s been my own damn fault for slacking and no one is responsible for that but me. Thankfully, I’d like to think I’ve gotten rather smarter this year. Hence the requested review.

I am happy and grateful to report that there are some areas where I’ve made considerable progress. Unfortunately, there are also some areas that I’ve either completely or at least mostly neglected. One of those is the area of self-discipline (Who – me? Ms. I-write-on-my-blog-once-every-few-months? Yup. My bad). To remedy this situation, I am (yet again) creating a schedule for myself. Schedules are great for improving self-discipline – especially if you’re like me and take immense joy from getting to cross things off to-do lists. Especially when you really don’t feel like doing them (I like to think those times get double points in the self-discipline column).

Among my list of daily activities I will be completing (see – positive thinking – I have grown!) I have included writing. Whether it’s journaling, writing here, or working on my book I am determined to write for an hour a day. Today is day 2 of my adopting this new practice. So, I intend for this to translate into an increasing number of posts here.

Wherever you are in your own journey and lessons, I hope this finds you well. Blessed be.

Exes: An Update

Well, I couldn’t write that last post about J and not update you when there’s updating to be done!

He stuck in my head. Since I had the dream, I just kept thinking about him. I’m sure it helped that my wife has just begun a secondary relationship and so there was (and is) New Relationship Energy (NRE) floating around the house like crazy (you know, that exciting and bubbling mix of energy when you begin a new relationship that’s like a bright and effervescent prosecco?  In poly circles, we call that NRE). And in our house this year, Papa’s return since Yule has manifested in an abundance of sexual energy that has us giggling while we shake our heads and remind each other that no, it’s really not Beltane, despite the fact that it feels like it on an energetic level. That probably contributed also.

So, on my birthday (the 26th), I decided to check in with my new pendulum (an adorable little sunshiney carnelian) about responding to the last message he’d sent me on linked in (in 2008). It practically screamed ‘yes’ to me, and my insides erupted in a frenzy of fluttering like a handful of faeries hyped up on jolt cola. After I managed to calm myself down a bit, I set to work forming a short and concise (hard to imagine, but yes, I am capable of this when necessary and with great effort) attempt at reaching out and clicked ‘send.’

I’m going to pause here to inform you, in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, that I am a girly girl. Not to great extremes (I don’t get manicures and pedicures, I don’t have an innate sense that enables me to distinguish between Prada, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana and the various seasons and years of their lines, I don’t keep up with celeb gossip, etc.), but I am girly, and I know it. Unfortunately, the combination of girliness and having to wait for a response from an old flame makes for a potentially diabolical combination. Thus was I spinning in circles in my head wondering if he would make me wait three years before responding like I had or fantasizing about his immediate response asking me where I was so that he could catch the first flight here and make passionate and crazy love to me as soon as was humanly possible or wondering if he was married or if he still wore that badge of arrogant asshole on his sleeve proudly or what our babies would look like or if he still used his linked in account and what if he didn’t and didn’t get my message or what if I wasn’t meant to reconnect with him since he was my heroine and could I handle it better this time than a decade ago, etc., etc. You see?  Crazy.

He responded I think a day and a half (or so) later. Believe it or not, I had not been profusely checking my email over the course of that time. I had vowed to myself that I would not let myself become that consumed because it would be imbalanced. When I saw the bold letters forming his name on my gmail inbox screen, everything within me hitched for half a moment. Exhaling, I tentatively laid my hand over my mouse and clicked. Within the first five sentences, I was reassured that he had ripped off the arrogant asshole badge. As I moved on to the second paragraph, though, my feet figuratively flew out from underneath me. He was married. I summoned my strength, swallowed, and managed to finish reading the remainder of the message. When I had gotten to the last word and his salutation, I felt like a forgotten balloon three days after a party. Three-quarters of the way deflated, I quietly called for my wife, and she read over my shoulder.

Now, my wife is not girly. Whether it’s because she’s old as dirt (on a soul-level), is a healer, or whatever, she simply doesn’t have girl friends. Most of the relationships she begins with other woman (of the platonic variety), typically end up with her being their healer and them not knowing how to maintain multiple-role relationships and still be a friend. So my wife has never had girl friends. What’s interesting (and highly amusing to me) is that since my wife has begun this secondary relationship, she has started to become girly. Yet, because this is totally foreign territory to her, she doesn’t know how to do the “girl friend thing” in situations such as the one in which I found myself. I am incredibly blessed that my wife is who she is and that our relationship is what it is because she was, in the midst of confessing she had no idea how to help me or what to do as I stared numbly at the screen, promising me everything from cursing him till he was dead or making his penis fall off to getting me ice cream to just squishing me to…etc. And when she wasn’t saying that, she was simply repeating these words, “comforting words, hug-hug, squish-squish, lick-lick-thrust-thrust, comforting words.” It was adorable.

I did finally break down and start crying and snotting a little while later. In the end, I determined I needed to shop (see, girly), and so we went to Target and spent my gift card from my parents on an adorable new shir, skirt, and some awesome body lotion. A few days later, I determined that it seemed as though J had accomplished what I had always hoped for him: to strip away all the bull shit and be the amazing person I knew was buried under there somewhere that I had caught occasional glimpses of. I comprised a response that I think managed to be authentic in its joy for him and confirm for him that he was accurate in that I had departed very far from the space I was in when he knew me last without verbally vomitting any of the details of that departure for him (I mean, come on, how would you react if the ex of yours came out and said that their sexual orientation had changed, that they were in a totally unconventional relationship, and that they were a practicing Witch?  It’s a little overwhelming even for the most open-minded of people and hard to communicate all at once without seeming aggressive).

I haven’t received any further communication from him, and I actually feel okay about that. If there still is unfinished business between us, we’ll either tend to it at some point before either of us die or just try again in another life. One thing that this whole situation did help me to realize is that I am not interested at this point in my life in relationships that don’t have that soul-level connection and substance to them. Romantic, platonic, whatever. This is something of a break-through for me, and one that I’m glad I’ve made because now that I know that, I can clearly communicate this desire to the Universe and Momma and Papa.

Exes and Ohs

I had a dream last night that my ex was in. Not just any ex. You know, the ex. I think most of us have (usually) one of these. Whether it was the one who broke your heart the most, the one who made you the craziest, the one who got away, etc., (or perhaps some combination of all of the above). When I was talking to my wife about my dream and my ex’s resurfacing in my subconscious this morning (he has a habit of doing that every once in a while, and I have yet to concretely figure out why), our fourteen year old came and sat down with us. As we were trying to explain why this particular ex was a bigger deal than any of my other exes, my wife seemed to sum it up perfectly.

“He’s like her heroine,” she told our daughter. I’ve talked about this ex -we’ll just call him J here – with my wife in great detail, so she knew exactly what the dream had stirred up for me and a good idea of where my thoughts were wandering.

I sat with that idea for a few minutes and decided it was probably pretty accurate. While it’s true that my “relationship” with J ended almost a decade ago and I like to think I’ve gotten smarter since then, I got stupid around him, just like people do on heroine. Heroine is not one of those drugs that you can try once and only do occasionally. Smart people check themselves into rehab after doing heroine once.  I was not smart then. It took me a long time to get smart.  One look from him, and I would be gone. I had melted into a puddle on the floor.  I paid for witnessing and sharing in the infrequent bursts of brilliance when his true self emerged by letting him play me and treat me poorly. He broke my heart more times than I remember, and I willingly submitted to it until I decided not to anymore. I used to say that he would be amazing if not for that small personality flaw of being an arrogant asshole. Those moments of brilliance were pretty incredible. It took me a little while to realize I was completely in love with him and then it took me even longer to quit him cold turkey. Even after I had, I would know when he was near or in town. I would know shortly before he tried to contact me (which he did several times, despite my having said I never wanted to hear from him again). The connection I had with him was one for which I have few words. And I knew him. I realized years later after I began studying Witchcraft and Paganism that I have known him life times upon life times before. I’m not sure what lessons we were meant to teach each other and help each other learn this time around, but it feels like we still have unfinished business. I will forever be grateful to him for helping me to find my Fire – because it took a shit ton of it for me to be able to leave him and cut myself off.

So when I woke this morning from the dream with visions of his dark, shoulder length wavy hair, turquoise and hazel eyes, broad shoulders, chiseled cheek bones, and heart-shaped lips in my mind, I just shook my head and chuckled. This was an atypical reaction for me. When I’ve dreamt about him in the past, I’ve woken up angry or frustrated or sad (and, of course, horny). But this morning was different. As I sat with the difference, I realized that, Oh, despite all of the shit he’d piled on top of who he truly was and how much he had hurt me, I was still in love with him. And not the “in love with him to the point where I would allow myself to get stupid again” kind because that is not love. It can get tangled up with love, but it’s not the same thing. And I certainly was not, nor am I now, in love with the shit piled on top of his essence. It’s his essence that I will probably always be in love with.  And the packaging for that essence this time around just flat does it for me. I’m a total sucker for dark hair and light eyes to begin with but add in the broad shoulders, put some wave in the hair, and toss in some sculpted cheekbones, and I’m done. And in that moment of realization, probably for the first time, I did not try to fight being in love with him. I just accepted it. Accepting didn’t mean I had to contact him, to try to rebuild or recreate some kind of relationship with him on any level. I just sat with it and acknowledged that it was.

After I’d gotten myself coffee, I looked him up on facebook for the first time without feeling guilty or like I was betraying myself. He doesn’t look very different. I did not message him or friend request him, much to the disappointment of our 14 yr old. I don’t remember what I told her when she asked why – that might have been when my wife pointed out he was my heroine. As I drove to work, though, I thought about it. The only reason at the moment I would have for contacting him would be an ambiguous curiosity, and while flirting with the idea of doing so in my head is one thing (and mildly entertaining), I’ve decided without clearer intention than that, the only possible thing I could create from doing so would be a hot mess. I certainly don’t need any of those right now. So instead, I will enjoy this knowing that I am still in love and that I can simply accept it. And I will marvel that I can indeed be in love with two people at once (I hadn’t been sure this was entirely possible for me). And I will enjoy this reignited spark of my sexuality that visions of J stirred up. 😉

Autumn reflections

Perhaps the title of this post is a bit confusing for you provided that it’s the beginning of September and here in north Florida, fall is a ways off still (though you wouldn’t know it by today where the sky is gently overcast, the temperature is probably in the low 70s, and there isn’t a lick of humidity in the air). The day before yesterday I woke up, got myself coffee, and headed out to our back patio per my usual routine. As soon as I had sat down and taken a deep breath, my senses were overwhelmed by Fall. It didn’t matter that it was probably 75-80 degrees outside and sunny here. Superimposed over that reality in such tangibility that it left me literally breathless was a deeper one. One in which I could smell crisp leaves recently fallen from trees, apple cider, bonfires, and pumpkin pie; one in which I could see and hear those leaves – on trees and being whisked along the ground and those bonfires; one in which I could taste that apple cider and that scent of autumn in the air around me; one in which I could feel the crisp and cool fall breeze along my skin; and, one in which I could feel that pull as the year, for Witches such as myself, begins to come to a close and the pull of the darkness of the coming winter starts to overcome the length and lightness of the days of summer.

For the last several years toward the very end of July and beginning of August, I have felt the undercurrent of fall beneath the summer that still was in full swing start to slowly rise to the surface. I have had moments, as well, of that kind of superimposed vision of seeing the leaves of trees around me in their fall attire when, in the moment, they were actually still in their stunning summer green. But I have never before experienced being so tuned in to the cycle of the year so as to experience the coming autumn on every sensory level like I did several days ago. It was as if Nature opened herself up and invited me to partake of her magic. I have had “witchy” moments and experiences before, but nothing at this level of primal energy and certainly not solo – completely unaided by my Teacher, other witches, or a coven. I sat for a good 10-15 minutes, silent, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, in utter and complete awe and gratitude. Still, when I think of it now, I am humbled to have been granted that experience. No amount of ‘thank yous’ could suffice, and so I take a moment to simply be in deep reverence.

As a Witch, this time of year is about the Harvest. Mabon is approaching in the next weeks, the second of three harvest festivals of our year. It is a time both of celebration of what we have learned, what we have manifested, what we have been blessed with this past year, as well as a time to reflect on the work that remains in front of us before the last harvest sabbat and the end of the year at Samhain. Come October 1st, at least for me and my family, that work that remains can be felt as a tangible burden on our shoulders, an almost oppressive energy (depending on what is left to do and learn) that continues to grow until the end of the month. It can be, in some ways, a month full of “those days” where it seems that every obstacle that could come up in our path does because the Goddess and God are presenting us with last-minute opportunities to move through those lessons and be able to leave them behind us as the year ends.

This entire past year has felt like an October as my family and I have faced trial and challenge and crisis one right after another. You can imagine how much I am looking forward to bringing the year to a close! And yet, as I shift my mindset into that of bringing in the harvest as I reflect on what I have learned, how I have grown, and what remains for me to learn in the time left, I have created for myself a place of peace and gratitude (something I can count among the things I have learned this year) in which to do that work. Among other things, I still have some work to do on money shit. I also have some figuring out that needs to take place about the differences between intimacy, sex, and romance and where my needs lie within those three. And I need to actively embrace compassion as far as my parents are concerned if I am to find any healing for that relationship. I’m sure there’s more (there usually is 😉 ), and that’s all right.