Just…Summer

Summer solstice is just past. I wanted to have a smart outdoor ritual this year, but life got in the way (and so did some cool, rainy weather) so it was the typical “light a candle” kind of thing.

It’s still High Summer and for me that means getting outside as much as possible. Maybe that is really my ritual – being present in nature.

Twice a day, I walk through our local park. Twenty years ago they planted a group of trees on one side. Today, I call it my grove. There’s a buckeye tree there that pre-dates the other trees and I greet this one in particular each time I walk that path. It’s an old tree with knots and holes in the big trunk.

There’s a group of turkey vultures in our neighborhood. They inhabit one particular tree and in the mornings when the sun hits a certain level, they spread their wings, like a giant greeting of the day. I love to watch them ride the air currents. Yesterday, I saw one sitting in my neighbor’s yard, making the other birds crazy. Turkey vulture did not care.

The garden is blooming and I planted some herbs in containers so I can take them to work in the fall.

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“Take your plant to work day” LOL. I’m leaving the oregano in the ground, but used containers for rosemary, thyme and sage.

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I considered trying to bring a basil inside – it’s my favorite herb – but I’m not sure that’s going to work. Still thinking on that.

This summer is definitely cooler than our last two. It’s reached the 80’s a couple times, but we’ve had an almost daily wind (more than a breeze) that makes it feel cooler. I’m a hot weather girl, so if it were mid-90’s with a wind, that would be great. it’s also been rainy – all of this was in the 2017 Old Farmer’s Almanac, so I will definitely get the 2018 edition.

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We did not plant tomatoes. The last couple years I didn’t can. I miss having the smell of the tomatoes when I open the jars. There’s a large flea market a couple towns away where they have really nice produce, last year people were offering boxes of bruised tomatoes for $7 at the end of the season, so I plan on canning again.

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My favorite thing about summer is enjoying the backyard, watching the clouds from the lounge chair and sitting under our trees when it gets really warm.  What’s your favorite summer thing?

 

Compassion

I work for a Jewish Federation. Needless to say, the last several months have been harrowing. My building has not yet been threatened, but our people feel fear. For many, it reopens the horror of the Shoah – the Holocaust. For all of us, it shows us that hate and anti-Semitism has blossomed into overt acts.

I remember the first time I saw a camp tattoo on an old woman’s wrinkled arm. Nothing speaks louder than that silent moment of horror.

Nonetheless, there are still acts of kindness.

This morning we found a brown paper bag at the door and assumed the worst. There was writing on it.

“My wife and I found this at a flea market. It was in a box marked ‘Jew stuff.’ We didn’t think that was right. We felt it should be given to a place where it would be respected.”

Inside was a tefillin.

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The black boxes and wraps are tefillin.

These are sacred prayer items.

From the Chabad website: Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment.

My boss called the number on the package to thank the gentleman. He drove almost two hours to bring this to our building. He said he was offended to see a box labeled “Jew stuff” and like most Americans, he was angry at the hate speech and what it has spawned.

And he took action.

Elie Wiesel said :

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

 

Today my world felt a little less oppressive. I hope you have a moment of grace like this too.

 

Ancestors Again

 

 

ancestorsI journeyed to my ancestors for help, again, since I am looking to break some family karma or patterns. This is how I did this, in case you want to try it at home.

Just like a mediation, I go to my ancestor altar and quiet my mind. I deepen my breath. In my mind, I ask my guide anubis for this journey to take me to the Hall of Ancestors. We walk to a large open space. My guide tells me to state my full name and intention. “I am asking the ancestors who have lived well and gone on successfully, and who have information that will help me bridge the resent I hold on my sister and mother, to please come forward and assist me.” I stated the surnames of my four grandparents, and felt four “lines” generate from my words. I was drawn to the far-left line and felt pulled along it, backward in time.

At some point, the movement stopped and I met an ancestor of that line.

Here is the hard part if you’re new to this (it’s hard for me too). I witnessed a scene that I didn’t understand at first. The important part of doing this, is to keep with the scene as long as you can, but to ask the guide who is with you, to please clarify what you are seeing and why you are seeing it.

Many times in the past, I did not do this because I felt I should understand what I was shown, because if they were showing me, I should be smart enough to get it, right?

Wrong. It’s not about smart, it’s about understanding that images and symbols are not easily understand at first glance.

What my ancestor showed me may or may not help me understand why I resent my sister’s attitude more than I resent my brother’s complete aversion to our mom. This may be an on-going conversation I have to have with whatever allies I can work with, to release this and move forward. My ancestor did ask me to light a candle for her,candles and I will take care of this. Just a note too, when you ask any ally for help also ask them if there’s anything you can do for them.  Both times I’ve received answers, the ancestor has asked for candles to be lit. I am so luck they didn’t ask for say, a bull to be sacrificed at the full moon.  Levity, there!

Summary 

  • Get quiet
  • Ask your guide to take you to Hall of Ancestors
  • State your name and intention
  • Ask appropriate ancestor to come forward
  • Converse
  • Thank and ask if you can do anything for them

 

 

 

On Winter and Re calibrating

I have been slacking from blogging.

The holidays tend to run roughshod over other activities – and it’s not that we really do a lot of partying. On the contrary, the entire winter season is basically a giant hibernation for us, with the holidays providing some additional food and drink.

So it’s pretty typical for me to cut back and go within. The last two winters were spent caring for dad and mom, plus last year I was cleaning out their house and getting it sold. I realized while I was doing “all that” that it was also an excuse to not “do” for me: I let my Type A, goal-driven self take over. On the plus side the house was sold by the end of March. On the negative side, I was so driven by the need to move mom, and sell the house, that I ultimately locked up my neck and mentally, my mind wouldn’t turn off.

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That’s one of those habits (mind running overtime) you’re supposed to use meditation, yoga and exercise to take care of. Which I had done. Before dad got sick.

This is how I meditated last year: *me sitting still. Breath in slowly Breath out..momhasdoctorappointment…Ihavemeetingsthreenights…breathedammit….goddamitwherearemysiblingsinthis…breathe…myneckiskillingme…breath…okdone*

To my credit, I logged 4 miles a day walking until the weather changed last fall, and lost about 10 lbs, which I’ve kept off over this winter. Change is incremental. I know all the good I did when I felt well enough, got me through the stress.

But stress is addictive – when you’re wound up in the Fight of Flight mode, it feels somehow wrong to not be keyed up.

Which brings me back the winter hibernation. I have downloaded a bunch of silly mysteries and spent a lot time just losing myself in them, trying to re calibrate my brain, because I think that’s part of the problem. (Plus no lie, the election caused an inordinate amount of anxiety and stress. I know I’m not alone here.) But – what is inside me: my mind and emotions, can be realigned with a better, more balanced outlook.

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Just like my worry about mom’s finances and her house, it helped to take action. And even if it seems un-productive to read little mysteries, it does retrain my brain to follow a different thought pattern. It’s a slow process and sometimes it still feels “normal” to worry and follow threads of “if this happens, I will do X”.  Still, recognizing what I am doing, is the first step to changing that habit.

 

 

 

Hawthorn

 

Previously I wrote about finding your answers in everyday situations (Sidewalk Oracles). I want to show you an example from this past week.

There are several things going on for me. One is my drive to lower my blood pressure through natural means. The other is a somewhat eternal question about “Am I on the right path” (and its sister concern: “Am I ever enough?” lots of post on my previous blog about this.)

Clearly this blood pressure thing is front and center on my mind, basically because I’m ticked at my doctor over increasing meds, and I have a bad case of “I’ll show you.” So – obviously my high emotion is going to manifest something, but I don’t want the high emotion to translate into higher BP.

I researched additional techniques for lowering blood pressure and came across Hawthorn. A trip to the local natural foods store did not result in Hawthorn tincture, my preferred method of taking supplement. The helpful person did turn me onto Magnesium to try first. That didn’t do anything notable to my numbers.

Since I am also working with ancestors, and this time of year is especially fertile for that, I laid it out there for them, and especially for the deity energy of Cailleach, who I am working with. In meditation, she asked for red berries.

Walking through our park, I saw a tree with red berries. Luckily, one of the branches had fallen, and I respectfully asked to take a few for an offering. I felt “yes” and took a small amount. When I got home, I put them on the headdress of the Ancestor Doll.

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Before Berries – sorry forgot to take picture this morning.

Mission accomplished.

Later that night, I had a dream that included 3 men from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) coming into a room I where I was working. They were bathed in a golden light. They had their guns drawn, and at first I thought this was a problem. Their leader – I heard “Daveed”  but forget the last name, asked me for my credentials (or something like that) and after I named them, he was fine. It’s pretty typical to answer questions for a Gatekeeper when you are questing or when you are going to different levels of existence.

There was more to the dream, but the upshot seemed to be that these people were here for my protection.

This is the second dream event with men bathed in golden light who were protecting me.

I was excited (in the dream I haul this Daveed to my dad, because I want to show him I have a friend.) but unsure of any other meaning.

The next morning while Penny pulled us on our walk, Brother Turkey Buzzard flew low then perched on a roof. He opened his wings for the morning sun salutation they perform (In the early mornings, vultures often will sit with their wings spread wide, increasing the surface area of their bodies so that the sun can more easily warm them. This is called the “horaltic pose”.)

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And then we spotted a dozen of them in the trees behind the house. One by one they opened their wings, facing the “conductor” buzzard. We were completely mesmerized. And Turkey Vulture is one of my allies.

I knew it was sign, but because my guides know I am Miss Doubting Thomas, there were two more signs. For some reason, I went through my mom’s Catholic Missal and it opened immediately to St Therese of Liseux’s feast date – October 3 – which happened to be that day. The eulogy for my aunt fell out too – her passing date was also October 3.

Now, interpreting these three events – the Turkey Vulture, St Therese and Aunt Florence – all pointed to spiritual answers for me. Mom always venerated St. Therese and my grandmother’s middle name, and mine, are Theresa. I would say they are supporting me in my spiritual endeavors and letting me know they have my back.

I think the dream also reflects this protection, although in a slightly different way.

I wondered what the red berries were, that I picked for Cailleach. They were Hawthorn. Can you see the coincidence with my interest in Hawthorn for blood pressure? Never in a million years would I have randomly grabbed some berries off a tree, without prompting from a dream.

And, I believe the golden IDF men were plant spirits as well, in this case Hawthorn.

From Druidry.org: Hawthorns often stand over holy wells, also traditional thresholds of the Otherworld, where pilgrims festoon them with ribbons, rags and other votive offerings. A sacred hawthorn hung over the St. Patrick’s Stone on an island in the River Shannon and filled its hollow with dew, which had great healing powers. St. Bridget’s Well in Cork also collected the dew from an ancient faery thorn above it.

So, the take-away here is, all signs are personal to us. Mine will not be the same as yours, which is why it’s important to work with your signs and not give up. Be aware, but understand that it takes time to figure all this out. Also, you can take the girl out of the Catholic Church, but you can’t take all the Catholic stuff out of the girl. Again, personal to me, my symbology contains Catholic elements.

 

 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post…

So this is off-topic for me.

In August I had to have a biopsy – and everything is fine, no worries.

But it raised more questions for me about my doctor’s practice and what it means to be pro-active in light of insurance costs and the level of support you may or not receive for being pro-active.

To save space, I’m going to bullet-point a timeline

July 

  • Mammogram shows “something” and I have to repeat it.
  • My physician, a breast cancer survivor, tells me it could be microcalcification but protocol would be radiation and chemo (Tamoxifil) for 5 years. But it might not be.
  • All I hear is “chemo and radiation” and that my hair won’t fall out. I worry about what happens to mom if something happens to me. (Yes, overreaction)

August

  • Meet with surgeon, he is very reasonable and says 80/20 it’s nothing but needs to be biopsied because I haven’t had a mammogram in six years.
  • I refuse to be shamed, and remind him he just told me that it could’ve been there six years ago or six weeks ago. And that there is no history in my family. I am feeling confident this is not cancer.
  • Show up for what is billed to me as a simple biopsy with a local anesthesia. I am clamped to the table. After 35 minutes they determine they cannot do it like this because the microcalcifications lie on a blood vessel.
  • Leave hospital and get to work. Get phone call my mom’s fallen and rush her to the other hospital where we spend the day in the ER
  • Worry about what is going on with mom’s falling every two weeks, email brother and sister to please either come home and be with mom while I am out of commission (sister) or visit her and be able to take her to ER if necessary (brother.)
  • Receive self-help cd’s from sister, with cheery note that Universe will reward me for caring for my parents. Brother refuses. Period.
  • Write letter to Staff Nurse at mom’s facility, explaining situation and asking them to call my cousin in emergency. Cousin agrees to spend day with mom.
  • Show up for surgery. Get a guide wire inserted with a local (1 hour  Boob Ka Boob! They do not think I am funny) wait 3 hours for surgery (1 hour).
  • Surgeon tells my husband nothing to lose sleep over, which I am thankful for because I believed it was just an anomaly and husband was quietly freaking out)
  • Nurse calls the next day to see how I am, I say great, taking some Tylenol because pain meds are too strong. She demurs, and says I should take Advil, then I can still take the Hydrocodone. Mmmmm. No.
  • I am glad I am ok, but starting to get ticked.
  • Nurse calls and confirms the micros are “benign” but warns me that the doctor will explain what this means when I see him. Her tone of voice was a little ominous.
  • Getting more ticked because I know what “benign” means, and because I researched microcalcifications before they cut.
  • Visit surgeon who asks if nurse told me results. I say “yep, all good under the hood.” He chuckles then tells me about actuarial tables that give percentage of chance of cancer and why insurance won’t pay for MRI for me. Because, you know. I’m healthy, but still need to get a six month mammogram.
  • Visit my regular doctor. We disagree on how this all happened with the biopsy. She notes my blood pressure still higher than she likes, changes my .5 Lisinipril to .10. I say nothing because I am done with this.

I check my blood pressure all weekend – it is 133/82.

So that’s a lot of bullet points. The upshot for me is, since my regular doctor joined some large network, and went to computer/digital formats, the service aspect has fallen off. This was a woman who previously cheered and supported my holistic approach to my health. Now she is writing a higher rx for something that is probably the result of my own frustration and anger. Her nurse asked me if I had ever had a biopsy and if I was going to do the bone density testing. I hardly knew how to answer that. “Yes, I had a biopsy two weeks ago.” “What kind” she didn’t bother to look up from her computer.I wondered if I was supposed to tell her they cut, or they couldn’t do the one with the local – I forgot the name. “The kind where they check for cancer.”  “No, where” “Breast” So, yeah, I’m irritated. This is the office that ordered it six weeks ago, when I was in there.

I am not at all advocating you stop any rx without consulting your doctor. But for me, increasing this rx means it will be harder to get off of it. My plan is to cut the pills in half, monitor my BP and find a naturopath to use any herbs that may help. This is a personal decision and your experience may be different!

However, I cannot go along with something that makes me feel like I’m being funneled into an insurance and health system that only looks at the bottom line or actuarial tables for my care. I am very disappointed, but I am angry too.

 

Dream Guidance, a Process

I am following up on an exercise in Robert Moss’s book Conscious Dreaming. I am only a couple chapters into the book so this isn’t a book review, just an example of an exercise and how I am working with it.

One of the reasons I am working more fully with my dreams at this time, is an effort to heal the anger and frustration that is simmering within me. This is a result of parental caretaking over that last two years, dealing with medical and insurance paperwork, and a lifetime of people pleasing/not saying “no”/not believing in myself patterns.

So I am incubating dreams on this subject of healing that pattern. I am boiling the situation down to this phrase “I want direction and guidance on healing the anger and self-deprecating patterns in order to fully enjoy my life.” That actually took some time to figure out.

Let me stop right here and say that in this book, Mr. Moss will do exactly this: state the problem he wishes to receive guidance on, then he proceeds to tell us the symbols and coincidences that validate the dream or answer his questions. He says that the answers may not come immediately, but the answers he receives are clear to him, and provide guidance. What he doesn’t write, is about all the symbols and signs that are false-starts. I am telling you this because I don’t want anyone to think that I get instant perfect answers. No one does, and Mr. Moss doesn’t write about all the “maybe this” “maybe that” signs that appear. That would be boring and confusing.

So, the first two nights of dreaming had a pattern of “tables.” The first night had a black and red one that I loved that was empty, and while I was admiring it, a tall woman snapped at me that I wasn’t paying attention to her. The second night, there were many tables involved in my work, all filled with lovely crafts made by others, but with no room for me.

*My take on this is trying to find “my” table for myself – my space.

Now last night was a horse of different color.

I have always titled my dreams, written them out, then recorded any feelings that they evoked at the time I dreamed them. This is in line with the exercise in the book. So, here is:

Peggy Lost the Fighting Tarantulas.

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My friend Peggy from work, is in a kitchen space that looks very similar to the one in the house I grew up in. The lighting is dim, it feels like evening. I am watching Peggy crouch down. She has two tarantulas, one dark and one that is tan and brown. She wants them to fight. I am hyper alert, but totally still because I do not like spiders and what is she doing with two tarantulas, anyway?

The tarantulas are pretty much ignoring each other, then with her hand, she brushes the tan one into the dark one to provoke a fight. The two bristle and show their fangs and grow to the size of baseballs.

I internally want to scream and feel my eyes growing wide at this.
Something in the other room distracts me. In my old house, this is the dining room area, and I am aware of people in the dining and living rooms. I step out to deal with something, then return. Peggy has lost sight of the tarantulas. “Oh well” she shrugs. She steps away. Now I am very worried. Where are they? In what crevice or dark corner are they lurking?

The people have made these crochet/knitted type of barriers, they are about 18” tall and are to fit across each of the three doorways. I am holding a bright blue one, with three doll heads and strands of yarn hanging down. We hope the tarantulas will come out and get on these yarn barriers and be caught.

  • I am afraid of spiders,
  • My friend Peggy is notoriously unorganized and lets daily tasks slide in favor of reading or anything else. In her defense, she did have a small stroke a couple years ago.
  • I know the shamanic meaning of tarantula includes trusting your intuition, balancing strength and weakness.
  • I don’t care. I am still afraid of spiders.
  • I am highly organized and efficient
  • I am afraid of conflict but will fight for what I believe in
  • Then I will be exhausted and second-guess myself.

In following up on your dreams – since this was less than clear to me, probably because of my throbbing fear of tarantulas – I stated my intention that the first odd thing I saw, would be an answer to what the dream meant.  This is where it gets tricky. I am now alert for signs. On my dawn patrol walk I encountered:

  • A nice looking young man running with no shirt on. Very unusual but not at all sure this meant anything.
  • Man teaching his German Shepherd to fetch and come. My first thought “You have to leash your dog in this park, glad I didn’t bring Miss Penny.” Only fit my OCD problem with following rules.
  • I wore tan outfit to work, I just realized this as I am writing, am I the tarantula?

 

I am going to marinate this for awhile and see if my dream is showing me that I have gotten pushed into some “fight or flight” adrenaline over home stuff or old stuff. Tonight I will ask for clarification on this. I appreciate the dream showing me what is, but I want to see the guidance. It’s a process, so I am not giving up on this theme. I really want the Universe to show me some Out-Of-Box thinking to get my life back on a joyful track.

 

Today’s Oracles

For the past couple days I have been asking for signs about things on my mind.

Today I forgot to do that, but because I am open to hearing and seeing signs (see Sidewalk Oracles from yesterday) I recognized three signs.

I hit “shuffle” on my playlist when I drove to work and the first three songs were:

Changes in Latitude, Jimmy Buffet

You’ll Never Walk Alone, Rogers and Hammerstein

Pocketful of Sunshine, Natasha Bedingfield

This is pretty typical of how I receive oracles – through music. I remember shortly after my dad died, I turned on the radio and “My Special Angel” came on first.

Totally not surprised that I was answered,  but I said “yes! thank you!”

I definitely am working on changing my attitude, thank you ancestors and spirits for supporting me, and it is indeed a beautiful sunny day. But even if were cloudy, the sunshine comes from within.

 

 

 

More Ancestors

I continue my exploration down the Ancestor Lane.

A couple weeks ago I randomly thought of my grandfather’s two brothers. They both died pretty young, one before my mom was born, so that’s the early thirties. Other than names, I had no information on them. I sat with the “random thought” for a day or so to see where this might lead. Sometimes these things go away.

It didn’t. It didn’t become a full-blown mania, like the time I emailed my great-aunt’s picture to about 30 convents in the Ohio/ Pennsylvania area, in my quest to find out more about her.

But, the thought persisted.

When I stopped to visit my mom, I asked her about these men. She said John died quite young and Anthony and Jeff (my grandpa) were close. She remembered him being around when they lived in Dayton during her first grade. But, he died shortly after. She had no real memory of his looks or voice.

When in doubt, I ask for direction. In my experience, long-dead relatives don’t just pop in to say hello, they generally need something, or recognize YOU need something. Since these gentlemen had been gone awhile, that may be why my impressions from them were extremely subtle, but strong enough for their energy to be recognized.  I have a lot of beloved dead, as do we all, but there was enough of …something… for me to discern them.

monasteryAnyway, after a few days I had the thought to go to the local monastery and light a white candle for each of them. Why this action? I played 20 questions a couple times, mentally asking “how about this?” “what about if I do that?” The candle at the monastery brought a peaceful reaction. Again, nothing was really strong about this experience. The monastery worked, I think, because the family was Irish Catholic and a couple of the women were nuns.

Why do the dead contact us?

In my case, I am looking for help to release some patterns that may (or may not) be a family pattern. I like to keep an open mind, after all. And so far, I’m not getting relief from my “go-to” practices: exercise, breathing, reading, meditating, pretending nothing is wrong. So – I am asking the ancestors for guidance. It is not surprising to receive not-so-random thoughts. They inspire me to be aware of help. Shortly after this experience, I dreamed I was being chased, near the house I grew up in. The scene shifted to the inside, where two men, back-lit by golden light, were there to protect me.

What does honoring the Ancestors entail?

I have an Ancestor Altar on my sacred tools altar. Yes, I am doubling up, but it’s a space issue. Three altars are a lot for one room. Anyway, in the dedicated ancestor space are items that mean something to me, most of them came from journeying. Every morning, since early summer, I sit with the ancestors, those of my blood, of my spirit and of my soul. I smudge the area with Palo Santo smoke and thank them for living well, and dying well, and for the guidance they give me. I am the result of a thousand acts of love. As we all are. And it’s in both of our best interests for me to succeed in my life. Then I ask them to guide me in releasing these patterns. I have a particular Tarot Deck that I draw cards from when I am with them. It’s like a Cliff Notes version of a conversation.

A second experience

My second venture with the ancestors was with my Grandmother Anna. This is my dad’s mom. She died two months before I was born. This is kind of funny: she died in 1958 and I am going to be 58 on my next birthday, so it’s been 58 years since she walked this plane.  I had never been to her grave. One reason was, I thought she was buried in a different cemetery, and it wasn’t all that close. I used to visit the beloved dead on my birthday, to give thanks and honor them. Of course, that’s the day before Halloween, so a win for me that the veil is thin around that time of year.

Anyway, I used Gravefinder.com to find her correct cemetery and Google maps to get me there on my lunch hour. I took her white carnations. It was actually a lovely headstone, and talking to her brought some tears up, so there’s some healing there.

She actually came to me in a dream shortly after my dad died. She was quite radiant, so I know she crossed over well and I have confidence that she will give me proper guidance as I move forward.

What does this mean?

It means the dead are never removed from us. The ancestors have a vested interest in our well-being, and can be a valuable source of support and guidance. A caveat: not all ancestors lived or died well. Discernment is the key when you call on ancestors, just as with any entity from the spirit world.