Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year, New Look

Happy New Year to all my family, friends and random readers! I hope that 2013 has been gentler to you than it has been to me, although, in spite of the tumult around me, I am faring well. I will get into a bit more detail in later posts. Suffice it to say I am living a bit of a country song right now, but since I am a fan of country music, I know that as long as I keep a hopping fiddle tune in my head and a dance in my step, I'll be golden.

As you can see, I changed the picture in the header. For years I have been wanting the idyllic cottage/cabin/farmhouse somewhere in some woods. It doesn't seem like that is going to happen all too soon and so I have decided to put up a picture of my village, the place I serve.

Philadelphia's skyline on a cold winter morning.
Photo By: Jarrod Bruner
                                               
There you have it folks the Philly skyline in Winter. Ain't she a beaut? My city. Every morning when I get off the train, I just get so dang happy just being there. There is an excitement and a joy that fills when I'm downtown. I've even found the Red Tail Hawk that lives there near Independence Hall, not to mention all the flora I have discovered in the cracks of the sidewalk. I've been inspired and touched by the people and most times, most folks just make me smile. This is my village and I am one of it's wise women. With a city this big you can be sure there are many of us. You know how to find me and you'll recognize me when you see me.

Trust me, you'll know. I'm the one smiling.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Cold night.
Cold, endless night.
Filled with anticipation I venture out.
Anticipation that fills my heart with the hope of things to come.
Snow crackling 'neath my feet. Bright Moon blessing my way.
Cold night.
Cold, endless night.
The path not clear and yet I am walking.
Anticipation that fills my heart with the hope of things to come.
Wind placing sharp kisses on my cheek. Wise Owl calls the way.
Cold night.
Cold, endless night.
Growing, faintly I begin to see.
Anticipation that fills my heart with the hope of things to come.
The sun reborn, growing ever brighter. The Light guides my way.
Night cannot endure forever.

~Village Wise Woman



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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where is G-d?

I am in pain, much like most of the United States is in pain. It is of a surety that every parent hugged their dear children tighter yesterday. My heart exploded from the heart ache and tears flowed this morning for the parents who lost children and all the families and friends affected. Life will simply never be the same for them. Never. And there are no answers. None to satisfy at least.

And then I see this. An offering of, I imagine, a very well meaning person trying to make a statement.


I have to be honest and tell you how much I dislike this saying every time I have seen it. I dislike it with a passion and anger that makes me feel like I want to scream at the person quoting it and shake my fists at the  heavens. There are many levels of absurdity to me in this statement  but I am going to simply rant about what I see.

Regardless of whether G-d is 'allowed' in schools or not,  to have Him saying violence occurs because He is not allowed in, strikes me as a ridiculous excuse not to mention a heartless attempt at agenda. G-d either is omnipotent, or He isn't. If there is to be belief and faith it cannot be contingent upon whether the public schools allow or disallow prayer. To state that such things occur because He is not allowed in the schools via prayer or what have you, is to state there are limits to His power and influence.

I should think that G-d is far greater than laws and limitations of said laws. People who believe should not be using this as a response or excuse for such violent atrocities. It by no means comforts and it simply isn't the truth. G-d is indeed allowed in schools in as much as there are children who believe in every school in the United States. Moreover, I am sure there were many children and adults praying that day. Praying, pleading, and begging for help from above.

I am in no way saying I have an answer, for surely I do not and nightmarish events such as what has recently occurred shake me to the depth of my soul. I have no answers. I do have lots of questions. Regardless, I cannot and will not accept such a simplistic statement as an excuse.

I therefore offer a paraphrase of the words of the shiva house. A meager offering of words in the face of such tragedy, but it is written with the love in my heart: May G-d comfort the families of Sandy Hook elementary among all the mourners of the United States. May they receive healing and may somehow, some way, some light come from this darkness. I do not know how this can or will happen. Again I have no answers. But this is the stuff of faith. It may seem senseless and perhaps even pointless but at times like these, all we seem to have.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chanukah Thoughts

There are times when the darkness surrounding me seems all too much. When I dare to watch or read the news I become more than convinced that we are going to hell in a hand basket complete with rocket boosters. As far as the media and, it appears, the majority opinion is concerned, it is completely hopeless. Couple that with all the apocalyptic movies, the sensationalism of Mayan 2012 and of course let us not forget the zombie apocalypse, I am not sure why we all aren't  curled up in a fetal position in the corner rocking frantically waiting for the end to finish us.

I think of darkness. Dark moonless nights. Late nights in Maine where there is no ambient light and the copious stars in the sky give me a feeling of being swallowed up completely. Even there, when the porch light is out, it is not utterly dark.

I think of myself. When the dark cloud of despair covers me like a heavy, uncomfortable blanket threatening to suffocate me between my sobs. Even then, when all seems lost, it is not utterly dark.

Because all is not as it seems. The lies around us, although overwhelming and even at times debilitating, are just that, lies. Lies of the media. Lies of sensationalism. Lies that we even tell ourselves. I am not saying that the darkness doesn't exist, of course it does. But it is most certainly not as bad as the lies we seem all too eager to embrace. Even the darkness that dwells within each one of us is most assuredly not as bleak as we berate ourselves for.

How can I be so sure?

Enter Chanukah. Each night we add one more candle. Each night gradually bringing more light into the world. Gently, gradually and quietly we begin to dispel the darkness. All that from one single candle and voila, the darkness is no more. Small and little. Seems to be a recurring theme in Chanukah. Small Maccabee army defeating the great Greek army complete with elephants. One small jar of oil lasting eight days. One little light lighting all eight candles. One small and little light.

As I sit with my menorah and gaze at it's beauty, the warmth of it's light instills me with the reminder that all is never as it seems, particularly if what seems is permeated with darkness. The light within me, however small at times it may be, is still a light and that small light is all it takes to dispel the darkness.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.




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Thursday, December 6, 2012

All in the Day of the Life


You ever have one of those days?

No, not one of those days, one of those perfect I-am-in-my-element-and-know-who-I-am days.

For some time I have been a bit sad about the fact that, although I love my job as a preschool teacher, I felt it prevented me from doing all the other cool stuff I am supposed to be doing. You know, all that Village Wise Woman-y stuff. And since I need an income, having not yet invested in my vardo so I can take it on the road, I need a job that generates said income.

It reminded me of when I was a young mother and I could not so all those 'things' I wanted to do because I was raising my children, you know things like reading books, going to the bathroom by myself and the like.

Always missing out. Not that I would have changed it for the world, but why couldn't I have my cake and eat it too. And why can't I now?

Well, the obvious answer is I can. And the fact is, I do. This past Sunday reminded me of this truth.

It was that kind of a day, that I previously mentioned. It was a day started at 4:30am (my favorite time of the day) filled with laundry, clean rooms, yoga , belly dance, and ended at Red Tent where I facilitated a baby blessing, created a tree of life henna on the expectant mama and shared in the sweet sisterhood of the Red Tent. I truly felt I was living my life, the life I am supposed to lead. It's how I feel when I run off in the middle of the night to attend a birth. It's so exciting and fulfills me in such a way I cannot explain! I drove home and wondered why every day couldn't be like this day.



The next day I woke up, said modah ani and began my day. Still feeling high from the previous day, my heart was filled with gratitude and I wondered what this particular day would have in store. I continued with this path of gratitude and was grateful for all that came my way. The warm shawl I placed on my shoulders, my loyal pets following me around the house and of course my early morning coffee.This gratitude began to create a realization within me that all of my days are days filled with that Village Wise Woman-y stuff. The stuff of crying children and comforting hugs. Of dishes and trying to find a cure for my dog's tumor. Of text messages and early morning chats. Of journals and blogs. All of it, every last seemingly mundane, gotta do it moment, is a moment of me living my life the way I am supposed to be living it. Every moment of every day I am  fulfilling my mission on this planet. I am of the village and my village is all of you, whatever it is or however my connection to you is. This thought causes me great joy and fills my heart with tremendous satisfaction.



So with these thoughts in mind, I ask you dear reader/friend/sister, to look at your own life and find the places where you are manifesting and living your dreams.Where are you fulfilling your life's mission? This particular part of the journey you are on is there to teach and reveal it to you. Find all that you are grateful for and see if it doesn't help you begin to realize that all is happening now and set into motion now for you to live your heart's desire...now.

Blessings and joy in the journey!




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Sunday, December 2, 2012

When Less is Truly More and Turns into a December Challenge


I. love. coffee.

Mind you, it's not just a mere get myself into wake-up mode and move kinda love. No, it's more of a "I worship at your altar, oh goddess caffeina" kinda love. I enjoying the ritual of preparing the coffee and I eagerly await the first glub-glubs of the brewing process. When I begin to hear the gentle trickle of the coffee entering the urn, my excitement increases knowing soon I shall be partaking of the holy elixir. Eagerly I pour a cup adding just a pinch of sugar and cream so as not to disturb the wonderful bitterness of my first morning mug. Breathing it all in I drink...and I drink...and I drank until the coffee seemed to no longer be my friendly goddess but more of a annoying lover who certainly tasted lovely and dark at first but then began to slowly grow more and more bitter and eventually became an upset in my stomach.

Oh, the joys of a sensitive stomach.

So, what's a girl to do? I really and truly enjoy coffee. I tried tea, chai and other hot beverages but none could replace my true love. At least not in the morning. I did cut out coffee during the day, only occasionally having an afternoon cup.

Cup.

Ah, there is the rub! I was not drinking cups of coffee. I was drinking mugs and not even standard 12 oz. size mugs, they were more like 16 oz. sizes. If you consider that the coffee makers of today are still based on the old 6 oz. size coffee cup and I was using a 12-16oz mug, I was drinking twice the amount of coffee I probably should have been. And unfortunately, that became painfully obvious on occasion. I began to think about the 6 oz. measurement and what a coffee cup actually was. I started to look through my cabinents and discovered that among my many tea cups I owned two actual coffee cups.
This is a tea cup. Note the wide top that tapers to a narrow bottom and small handle designed to accommodate simply a finger. Stock picture of the Royal Albert tea set I have. (PS. If my children are reading this feel free to add to the collection you started for me. :-)  ) 


These are coffee cups. Note the higher, vertical sides, not as wide mouth and larger handle to accommodate two fingers.After making my discovery I wondered at the possibilities of being able to still enjoy my beloved coffee but with less of it.  I decided to employ my newly found coffee cups and to retire the mega-sized mugs. (Not entirely mind you. I still indulge in my mega doses of chamomile, mint or ginger tea ) I began to realize that, in this case, less was most definitely more. I began to find myself relaxing into my smaller cup, savoring it even more than I did before. I did not guzzle my coffee because, I was only allowing myself two of these petite indulgences. It has become quite enjoyable, not to mention the fact my tummy is much happier and I am no longer on uber-hyper drive.


I wonder, my dear friends if the same isn't true in most cases. Doesn't it seem to make sense that if we only had a small quality amount of most things we would appreciate it and savor it more? Isn't it better to own one amazing and warm coat than ten flimsy, albeit cute coats? I follow this with shoes. I own less and less these days, having moved far from my Imelda Marcos days, and have about 4 pairs of shoes that make me and my feet very happy. Mind you, I pay good money for them, but the quality is worth it. They last me each about three years and so in the long run they are far cheaper than buying 4 pairs of $20 shoes. What about in the case of food? Could this idea of less is more help in the cases of food addictions or compulsions? What if we honored and loved ourselves so much that we only gave ourselves the absolute best that we could afford. For some of us, that may not be much, but what if it was the best. Consider this, even if you cannot buy the finest, organic, free range, free trade food, you could create a meal placing it lovingly on a plate, and then carrying it over to your table/altar you place it upon a napkin or place mat. Light a candle for that matter! Imagine the possibilities of that love affair! Slowly eating your food. Tasting it. Yes, I do believe less is very much more in this case. 

Considering my own words I think I shall put my money where my mouth is and begin my own "less is more" challenge. Throughout this month of December, where the world seems hell bent on buying and consuming, I shall begin a practice of less is more. For me this will be small practices. Eating smaller amounts of food on small plates. Eating slower and paying attention. Spending less time on social media sites, and more time here sharing with you. I am not completely sure how this work it's way out to be quite honest, but hey, if we learn even a little bit, than that will indeed be more than what we had. And yes, you read that correctly, I did say we. If you are so inclined, join me this month. Make a comment and share what you are choosing to do and what your experiences are. You can always post on my facebook page or here on the blog, or you can even email me! But do let me know if you are going to join me. I'd love to know I have company on the journey. 

Blessings!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Sacred Domesticity

You could chalk it up to the stars I was born under. Cancerian/Moonchildren are known to love their homes dearly, though some could call it a simlple, albeit minor case of agoraphobia. I myself just relish the warm and snug feeling of my home. One would imagine that as much as I love my home, homemaking would be my easiest and finest joy. Well, it is...now. When I was younger it was not, not by a long shot. In my early days of motherhood I lacked the skills and the balance to raise children and keep a tidy home. Since I could not do both, I focused on raising my children because as the poem goes:


"The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep."

That was my story then. And it made sense, but there were many times thankfully where I could get my house in order, especially as my children grew older. But truth be told, I never reached the level of 'domestic goddess'. Oh, without a doubt I wanted to, but work outside the home and/or the stresses of life could overwhelm me in such a way that I would become paralyzed by the mere thought of dusting. My heart would ache and my mind become depressed when my home would be in disarray.  Try as I might, I could not find my rhythm. I tried every housekeeping tip I could find, read all the time management books, I even attempted to follow the wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday...rhythm but to no avail. 

One of the things I particularly enjoyed doing after I did finally have my home clean and in order was to light candles and sometimes incense.  I would sit satisfied in the  soft light, breathing in the heady aromas and feel the pride of a job well done.  I came to realize this was a signal to me of my ritual of cleaning. I began to wonder if I reversed the process, would I attain the same results. I began to light candles before  I would clean, even if I was just doing dishes. I would pause for a second and think or say aloud, "I am going to clean my home." I found I had the motivation now to do it, and even more than motivation I felt a sacredness now to my work. It was more than just house cleaning, it felt like I was creating a sacred space, and that space was my home. 

Last evening, I washed the play silks my students enjoy in the classroom. They had finished line drying and I folded them to take them back to school. But as I folded and looked at the wrinkled, careless fabric I decided to iron them. I pulled out the iron and before I set my hand to the task, I lit a candle. I began to iron each silk and as I watch the heat from the iron magically remove every wrinkle I thought of my students and found myself directing energy and love to them and to my classroom. I found myself praying for my own life, hoping the wrinkles of my life will be smoothed out gently (and on low heat). I realized once again the sacredness and spirituality of the simple, day to day, domestic duties. 

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