Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gladness Factor

Maleficent from Disney Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Trickster Moon - Where do life's lessons sneak up on us/surprise us, and how can we greet these lessons with receptivity instead of resistance?  CAYA Moon Question

"Into the house where joy lives, happiness will gladly come."  ~ Japanese Proverb

"The most waisted day is one without laughter." - ee cummings.

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way they're supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.” ~ Goldie Hawn

The Gladness Factor (GF) was “discovered” as an essential for being a Fairy Godmother in the late 1990s by Dr. Leticia Foon.  Most traditionalists have scoffed at her discovery, because GF was always perceived important through oral tradition.  Foon just wrote it down and gave it a name which instantly professionalized it in peer reviewed journals.  Current students majoring in Western Fairy Godmothering now are required a minimum of three levels to help increase and maintain their GF skill set.     


Maypole Dance
Foon states GF predates 900 AD coming from both the English and Norse Fairy Godmother traditions (Note: Foon hasn't studied other traditions).  Paintings from this period hint that singing and dancing are important components for increasing the intensity of GF.   It wasn’t until the Elizabethan period did twirling and skipping became an aspect of GF.  This can be best illustrated in Shakespeare’s play Midsummer’ Night Dream.  Foon developed several GF exercises lifted from Eleanor Porter’s 1913 book Pollyanna.


Researchers have shown that deficiencies in GF can lead to misery, cynicism and exhaustion.  It can be best illustrated in the case study of Maleficent, now associated with the Sleeping Beauty tragedy.  If we look at the beginning of Maleficent career, her personnel file shows that she had high levels of enthusiasm, team player, and had the knack to solve problems where other’s didn’t seem to find them.  She was written up twice for singing staccato happy songs, because they caused a disruption in the office.  Also noted was she’d work overtime without meal breaks or going to the bathroom in order to get the job done.  We find that around twenty years into the Fairy Godmother business, there was a change in Maleficent’s personality.  She became more isolated.  Her annual review states: “She lost her nimbleness and flexibility when waving her wand.”  She seemed exhausted and cranky at staff meetings.  She had taken to leaving notes on the bathroom like: wash your hands and close the door.  We have learned her change was due to the work climate: reduction in resources, endless requests that agency couldn’t compensate for and a management attitude: if you want to keep your job you need to be tough and committed enough to suck it up.  The cumulative toll at the worksite and the oversight by the King and Queen were the straw that broke the camels’ back so to speak.  It drove Maleficent to curse rather than provide a blessing. 


Understanding trauma and how it affects us is important.  Trauma has a way of sucking the GF out of our lives.  One way is to take back lunch. 

My co-worker retired almost a year ago.  One thing I’ve noticed is I’m eating more and more at my desk.  I’m catching up with e-mails while eating my salad, soup, and yogurt.  J always made me step away from my desk and eat somewhere else. 

I’ve decided to be part of the take back lunchmovement as a way of break in what I do.  To put my work back into perspective.


How is this spiritual?  If you can’t laugh or sing songs, even out of tune with staccatos – how are you going to make magic?  How are you going to see possibilities?


Resource to learn more about trauma - required read for all Fairy Godmothers:

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others

Friday, March 22, 2013

Forsythia – let there be flowering

Maker's Moon - What wants to be conceived/born/shaped/made from our own minds/hearts/loins/hands? - CAYA Moon Question

"Forsythia is pure joy.  There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of saddness or even knowledge in forsythia.  Pure, undiluted, untouched joy."  ~ Anne Morrow Lindberg

I woke up today and the weather guy was droning on about “weekend of snow.”   There is a nice thin layer of cake frosting covering my car windshield and if this was January, I’d be smiling, but not so much now in March.  Then my son looked out the window and groaned:  “You’ve got to be kidding.” 
This past week I crunched across the community garden to our plot to bless it.  When I dug in to plant my egg, I quickly discovered that the top soil is still pretty much frozen.  This is very different from last year when we were having sweatshirt weather and the weeds were already up. 
My Grandmother use to say:  “Three more snow falls after the forsythia bloom.”  I went to where my Forsythia are and and and …. No green, no green buds only twigs sticking up out the ground.  Disappointed I tramped back into the house.  Yes, the robins are singing and the rain sometimes smells like spring and the crocuses and snowdrops are blooming, and the trees all appear ready with their buds, but not the forsythia .  Ohio this year is having a traditional winter season.
I admit.  I was spoiled by last year’s early spring weather that started in February. 
As a CCWWW, I have a love of nature and a passion for the wild and elemental.  These are a reminder that all creation is a gift from the divine.  These are a reminder that I’m just one piece that is interconnected.  I'm longing to lay in the grass and watch the summer wind blow the leaves. 
Let there be new flowering

let there be new flowering
in the fields let the fields
turn mellow for the men
let the men keep tender
through the time let the time
be wrested from the war
let the war be won
let love be
at the end
Potential tomato plants
Part of my practice as a CCWWW is growing my own vegetables and herbs. It is having a relationship with the devias or spirits of the garden and plants. My garden is a special place were we can meet. It is a place where I have learned many things that are magical.  It is in the garden that I learned about the tomato love spell.
Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow: sun, light, water and dirt.  And, it ceases to amazes me that some people have never seen a tomato plant growing in a garden.  These same people have told me they have never felt their fuzzy vines or smelled their distinct fragrance when brushed against.  They have never taken a bite out of a sun riped tomato.  They haven't held their tiny seeds in their hand.  (Maybe this is what intimidates people from growing them?)
I want to make sure we're all on the same page.  In Ohio, you don’t get tomatoes off the vine from your garden until end of June (maybe) July and August definitely.   It takes about 40-50 days to get tomatoes ripened off the vine according to the package and Ohio Cooperative Extension.  It also takes a specific type of weather – hot during the day and cooler during the evening. 
Tomatoes are part of a big family of plants known scientifically as Solanaceae or to gardeners the nightshade family.    Below are some of the cousins, and as in all families some are good to have around (edible) and some are toxic.
Mandragora (mandrake), Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Lycium barbarum (wolfberry), Physalis philadelphica (tomatillo) , Physalis peruviana (Cape gooseberry flower), Capsicum (chili pepper, bell pepper), Solanum (potato, tomato, eggplant), Nicotiana (tobacco), and Petunia
If you are thinking of “making” your own tomato plants - you need about 8 weeks to get those seeds ready.  I usually count 8 weeks back from US Mother’s Day – so now is the time for Central Ohians.  Mother’s Day Weekend has been usually our last known heavy frost day.  Tomato plants are annuals here in Ohio and don’t like the cold.    Here's a map of the world for planting times.
You start the seeds in plastic trays purchased from your local garden shop – or you can reuse the plastic lettuce containers and cardboard egg cartons.  You fill the trays (egg cartons) with dampened sterile soil mix. And plant the seeds.  I’m using a heirloom mix this year.  The seed containers should be placed in a southern facing window.  What is nice about the plastic lettuce containers is that they have a lid.  The egg carton can be cut down to fit the lettuce container and the lid creates a mini greenhouse that is waterproof.     

Before planting the seeds I thank the soil, thank the water, thank the sun and thank the seeds for the tomatoes that will help feed my family.

To be continued……..

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ēostre/Vernal Equinox - Joyful Vows for Water

Walk between the raindrops by Donald Fagen

The River of Dreams by Billy Joel

CAYA is focusing on the element of water this year. I have decided to go along for the rafting ride by using their themes for my wheel celebrations.

Last Friday, S and I were standing on the porch after book club.  It had just started to rain softly.  I took a breath in and smiled.  The rain had finely changed its wintery scent.  I looked over at S and said:  “Smell, spring is here.  The rain has changed.”  We moved out from under the porch and into the rain, both breathing in its earthy fragrance. 

I was listening to NPR this past week.  The US Federal EPA put out their report on mercury levels in lakes, rivers and streams.  Ohio’s rivers were on the list.  There were officials playing down the report and others stating it wasn’t strong enough.  There was a group discussing how much this clean­-up was going to cost and how much the burden of cost was placed on businesses for preventive mechanism.  Health officials told about health conditions due to mercury exposure: neuropathies, hypertension, and kidney failure and memory loss.  

This story to me is familiar.  It reminds me of the stories that preluded the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire.  The river had been polluted for decades from industries along the river.  Cleveland became associated with water pollution.  But one thing the public forgets, this was the tipping point.  People put aside their differences and the nation developed and implemented clean water standards.   


Stink Spirit before the bath and soon to
reveal that it is actually ancient river spirit
All the Stuff that came out of the River Spirit
In Hiyao Miyazaki’s animated movie Spirited Away (2001), a stink spirit comes into the bathhouse.  The main character, Chihiro is forced to take care of it by treating it with respect and by giving it a bath regardless of the smell.  Chihiro showers the spirit with clean water and realizes that something isn’t right.  She begins pulling on what appears to be a stick piercing its side.  The stick turns into chains, bike, car…. And the stink spirit is transformed into an ancient river spirit.    We learn that water pollution has done this to the spirit of the river.     The spirit rewards Chihiro’s kindness with a healing biscuit.


We can all agree water is essential to life.  However, I believe many in my country have forgotten the joy that comes from having clean water.  We stick our glass under the faucet and take a drink.  It’s automatic like blinking.  It’s just like our easy access to a flushing toilet and a hot shower.  Call it taking it for granted or it’s something we don’t have to be concerned about – it’s something only those other places have to worry about.  Places where contaminated water cause severe diarrhea and death from Cholera, dysentery and parasites happens daily.  

I know several people who have been a part of the Marion Shallow Well Project in Malawi.   The purpose this project is to bring clean water by installing a shallow well and a pump in rural villages.   The overall project costs around $400 (US Dollars) and $5.00-10.00 yearly for maintenance.  The wells are built and maintained by the villagers.  The Project assists with the materials and training they can’t afford.  One of my friends described the celebrations that occurred every time when the clean water came out of the well for the first time – dancing, singing, music making and feasts.  There were joyful tears from parents who didn’t have to worry anymore for their children.       

I have been following the blogger AskaWolfSong – author of Stone Soup and Heart Song.  Her posts describe how our waters are becoming so polluted and we need to sit-up and take action to help the spirit of our planet.  Recently, I read her essay about how the First Nations are calling for international healing prayers for our waters.  It is distressing to learn that our waters are becoming so polluted from farm run-off, industry and our unwanted stuff (i.e., plastic water bottles, Styrofoam cups, pop cans, and plastic bags). 

I think back to the Cuyahoga River Fire.  There is no joy in water without life.    

AskaWolfSong shared this wonderful concert by R. Carlos Nakai with me from Youtube recording.

R. Carlos Nakai at National Geographic's "Water Is Life" celebration on Martha's Vineyard. THIS FULL ONE-HOUR version includes rare video of Nakai sharing his LIVING PHILOSOPHY about the evolution of humankind and the flute music of various civilizations through time - along with an expanded selection of his Native American Flute music to flow with this celebratory water event

Vow: Solemnly promise to do a specified thing ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Joyful: Feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

My joyful vow this year for water is to appreciate it more.  When it rains this summer, put the umbrella down or put my feet in a cold steam and give thanks.  I’ll be mindful each time I take a drink that I can drink safely.  I also vow to save $5.00 a week for others to have the joy I have.  The money will be placed under my CAYA “water jar” and shared with the Marian Shallow Well Project at the end of the year. 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Friendship – starting with yourself

Girl Looking in The Mirror by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1912)
Maker's Moon - What wants to be conceived/born/shaped/made from our own minds/hearts/loins/hands? - CAYA Moon Question

“We are not humans having spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having human experiences.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” ~ William Shakespeare

To be a friend is hard work.  To be friends with yourself is even harder work.  I believe I heard this from my creative journaling teacher Nettie.  If not, it would be something she would say. 

This week I’ve started this blog entry over twice, because the theme “friendship with yourself” kept coming up.  You might say I got zapped by it from 6 different places this week:  Hildegard mandalaclass, 21 Day Meditation Challenge, Wild Woman Project, Findhorn Inspirational message, my New Moon Goddess Card of the month, and a fragment from a Hallmark Channel Movie due to channel surfing between basketball games.  Since I’m a firm believer in the law of synchronicity; I scraped the gardening piece for this topic. 

When I talk about being a friend to yourself, I’m not talking about being a narcissist.  That type of self-love in which one believes that they’re better than others and have a desire to tear others down in order to feel successful.  No, the one I’m talking about is giving yourself the same compassion that you give to others you are deeply in love with.  This was the message I kept getting zapped with.

Audacity: 1.bold courage; daring   2.shameless or brazen boldness; insolence ~ Webster New College Dictionary.


It has been my experience that the foundation of magic is belief.  You must believe in order to create or make something.  And, you must continue to believe all the way to the end.  More often than not, we find that our creative and magical endeavors become prey to sabotage by our own inner voices.  These voices have a way of squashing our passion and what ends up happening is the majority of our spells, creations and ideas our sitting in the basement in a box unfinished.

In talking to friends this week about the inner voices, we all came to the same conclusion.  We’d never say the things our inner voices say to someone that we love.  And, we’d probably wouldn’t say this to someone we don’t like.   My voices revolve around not being able to complete projects, perfectionism and fear that I’ll be rejected, self-judgment, education lacking by not having taken the right course work or involved with the right project.  These all seem to twist and haggle inside my head to the point I often stop.  Bottom line, I’d never say these things to a friend; I’d do the opposite.  I’d cheer them on.

March’s New Moon Wild Woman Project theme focused on having the audacity or courage to love ourselves.  We used one of Louise Hay’s mirror exercises.   The exercise asks us to call to mind a person that we deeply love.  We were to imagine looking in their eyes with compassion.  The last part of the exercise was to look into the mirror and with the same look of compassion see ourselves.  When I did this, my heart was crushed because I have never done this.  I have never looked into my eyes with that same look of charity. 

Kristin Neff, Ph.D. writes in her book about how self-esteem and self-compassion are intertwined.  Her research showed that a person with high self-esteem didn’t berate themselves when they were failing.  They did the opposite, they were kind to themselves.  These people in her research were able to embrace themselves with all their flaws and outperformed the opposite group.  Neff describes the science behind this.  When we berate ourselves with our inner critics, the flight and fight hormones are released.  Despite what our culture says, these hormones don’t drive us to the finish line they make us angry and cripple us from moving forward.  When we treat ourselves with kindness and sympathy, endorphins are released and we feel motivated to try again.  The endorphins make us feel good. 

Neff also found that the more we were able to keep our hearts opened for ourselves, the more we have available to give others and pursue our creativity.  She states that when the critics pop up 1) we should face them and tell them to soften.  Then provide kind, empathetic words to ourselves.  2) To look at the full picture and ask: how am I the same as others?  (e.g., Yes, I haven’t gotten this spell down pat but others have been here like me.)  3) Practice mindfulness and being in the present. 

Hawaiian Prayer
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you, I love you.

This prayer was shared by one of my mandala classmates when I began describing how I was critical of my mandalas.  I was wishing to soften my judgment.  This is the prayer she tells herself when her inner critics begin to talk. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Embers – la Chispa

Juliette Gordon Low center founder of Girl Scouts
Maker’s Moon – What wants to be conveived/born/shaped/made from our own minds/hearts/loins/hands?CAYA’s Moon Question

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without spiritual life” Buddha

 O ignis Spiritus by Hildegard of Bingen

"Scouting rises within you and inspires you to put forth your best."  Juliette Gordon Low

According to Mrs. Z, in order to make a good campfire you need: patience, a good foundation, fuel and a mechanism to start it.  Oh and using safety precautions. 

Mrs. Z was my Girl Scouts Leader from juniors through senior scouting.  She was a hands-on leader – meaning everything we did she did.  My first fire building experience started with a 30 minute training walk in the woods.   We gathered three different types of fuel: tinder, kindling (finger to wrist size), and fuel (bigger that your wrist).  She was very keen on the “bleached out wood.”  This type of wood was found without its bark on the floor of the forest.  It appeared to me looking more bone like in color.   Mrs. Z described how this particular kind of wood had been aged and now had a minimum amount of moisture in it.  This would allow it to burn well.  Mrs. Z also liked it because it didn’t give off a lot of smoke. We would next bring the wood back and stacked in its categories next to the bucket of water which of course was several feel away from the stone circle campfire. 

Mrs. Z was a purist.  She didn’t believe in chemicals to start a fire.  Her idea of a Girl Scout was someone who was concerned about the air and taking care of nature to show to our Grandchildren.  This would always lead to a discussion about factories and acid rain falling in Western PA and the poor Cuyahoga River catching fire.  We were to use one of the following, dryer lint, pine needles or saved wood shavings from making marshmallow sticks to get the fire going.  Her favorite fire structure – the tipi. 

I was always amazed at how Mrs. Z had a knack at getting the fire started from something unsuccessful.  I can still picture her blowing gently on the embers.  Coaxing it with a little more lint to leap up and ignite the rest of the wood.  She’d rebuild the wood structure to let more oxygen in giving the revived embers the best wood - that “bleached out wood.”


O Comforting Fire of Spirit
By Hildegard of Bingen

O comforting fire of Spirit,
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.
Holy you are in giving life to All.

Holy you are in anointing
those who are not whole;
Holy you are in cleansing
a festering wound.

O sacred breath,
O fire of love,
O sweetest taste in my breast
which fills my heart
with a fine aroma of virtues


Sometimes my creative spirit becomes like an ember dying.  It’s a half burnt wood with a tiny glow that’s just hanging.  The reality is that my creativity hasn’t gone away.  I haven’t tended it by giving it fuel or a gentle puff of air to get it going.  I haven’t found space to allow it to grow.  Often, I’ve allowed the nasty voices to get in the way that extinguish my creative passion.

The same can be said about my spirituality.  I find it easy to conform to other’s truth rather than lacing up my hiking boots for my own unique journey.     

Sometimes you don’t know where your journey will take you.  Last year I became a member of the PBP, and I’ve been lead through many different twists and turns.  I accredit my 2013 Lenten study of Hildegard, creativity and mandala making from a fellow PBP.  It was through them I read a quote about the sacredness of nature and I followed it back to the source.  I crossed over through a door to a community made up of women from many different traditions.  They were discussing and practicing creativity and spirituality.  It was a group I never knew existed.

A new type of wood has been laid.  The fire is crackling.    


Fire in the forge that
 shapes and tempers.

Fire of the hearth that
 nourishes and heals.

Fire in the head that
 incites and inspires.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fish Fries – Lenten Journey 2013

I’ve been a little parched and in need of some nice gentle rain – Hildegard speak.  Despite the crisis at work, my family and I have journeyed off to two more Lenten fish fries.  I’ve sought out nourishment for my body but also boost for my spirit.  I’m going to a church event right?

The original intent for eating fish during Lent was about fasting from the flesh of meat.  This is done in memory of Christ.  But, what is the real purpose of these fish fries?  Keep the fishy smell out of your house?  According to the Knights of Columbus, it is a way to bring families together and provide a social for parishioners.  To me this could be viewed as another way of saying party?  Yes, I know the Lenten season is all about self-reflecting on our dark areas.  Having a party could be perceived as not conducting ourselves in the right spirit of Lent.  Or is it? 
My church has been studying Luke. If you don’t know much about this guy, long story short, it is believed that he was an Antiochian Doctor.  He is accredited for writing his Gospel (Luke) and Acts and followed Paul on several trips.  His body parts, like many of the saints are stored in several locations throughout the world.   Despite this, what strikes me about Dr. Luke's writings is 1) he was a man who was a great story teller and 2) he was all about having a party. 

Dr. Luke’s stories, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son, both end with a party.  The story is an analogy about one having lost their connection to the Divine.  When they find their way back, Motherfather Spirit throws this blow out party.  I’ve been wondering – couldn’t a fish fry during Lent be an occasion to throw a party. This party’s purpose would be to uplift the spirit for those of us who are lost, confused, hurt, sad, stressed (name your emotion) and who have found their way back to Motherfather Spirit.  The party would be welcoming and joyful time to give to others. 
Okay just a thought. 


A Jewish Blessing
Mi-sheberakh avoteinu v’imoteinu, Avraham v’Sarah, Yitzhak v’Rivkah, Ya’akov, Rachel v’Leah hu y’varekh et (insert names here) v’yavi aleihem refuat hanefesh u’refuat haguf yachad im kol cholei amo Yisrael. Barukh atah Hashem, rofeh ha’cholim.

May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon (insert names here), a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care they are entrusted be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround them be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in their care. And may they be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing.

Last Friday, 2/22 T and I went to 71916.  This appears to be a much smaller congregation that 18151222 and run by the Knights of Columbus members.  The men showed a friendly comradely.  71916 is a very basic fish fry: fried fish, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and a wide assortment of fries (i.e., regular, pepper and cheesy) or bake potato.  The coleslaw was definitely better than 18151222.  The fish had more of a beer batter and was a little oily to my taste.  T felt that the mac and cheese was a little soggy.  We accredited this to being one of the last customers.   Dessert?  Texas Sheet Cake.  The frosting was melted into the moist cake.  I immediately thought of my mother-in-law’s cake.      
The highlight of the evening was being invited into the sanctuary.  I’ve never have explored for Wow sites in Columbus, but here it was.  The door open and you could feel the energy across your face.  T pulled me back and asked if I felt it.  I wanted to stay, but we needed to pick up Z.

At 7193, they’ve changed things up.  Instead of a fish fry, this congregation holds an all you can eat pasta “fry.”  Z had been anticipating this “fry” by not eating anything after school in order to have room to go for seconds.  He told me it was to get his money’s worth.  They served baked Ziti with a mild tomato sauce, bow-tie Alfredo, Mac and Cheese, green beans with onion, salad and bread.  Everything was very tasty and carbo rich.  The dessert table was filled with baked goods.  The lady wearing a green apron labeled “women’s circle” told me they were from the best cooks in the county.  T chose a cherry pie and I had a chocolate marbled cake with chocolate butter cream.  Yum.      
Out of the three churches, I’d have to say this had the most “party like” feel.  People were more willing to say hello and talk to you.  Maybe it was how the tables were arranged: long close rows where you couldn’t help but bump into people. 


 “The great sea ...”
By Uvavnuk Uvavnuk
Translated By Jane Hirshfield

The great sea
frees me, moves me,
as a strong river carries a weed.
Earth and her strong winds
move me, take me away,
and my soul is swept up in joy.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Maker's Moon - What wants to be conceived/born/shaped/made from our own minds/hearts/loins/hands? - Caya's Moon Questions

Enthusiasm today isn’t the enthusiasm of the past.  The word has changed its definition.  Today we know it as having great interest, excitement and enjoyment in what we do.  Many would agree with me it is a needed ingredient if you are trying to create something crafty or not.   But, the original definition meant that one was inspired or possessed by the Divine or to be in private communication with the holy.

Cassandra was said to have enthusiasm after being in the presence of Apollo.    And, when she chose not to have sex with him ­ - he cursed her.  Cassie’s prophesies would never be believed.  In fact, Homer writes that she was scorned.


BEMS @ 2013
This past week I don’t think I have had much enthusiasm for anything.  My life has been consumed by a crisis at work.  This crisis has drained my creative side to the point of being parched.  I’m barely able to appear on paper, much less keep up with my mandala drawing class and knit. 
The following mandalas you might say have had divine intervention.  I have had to force my self to pick up the colored pencils rather than stick my nose in a book - the easy less effort way to deal with stress.  I was enthusiastic when I drew them.  Motherfather Spirit was the driving force - not me.