Saturday, January 27, 2018

Going Through A Rough Time

Some of my friends have been going through some challenges lately. These challenges are affecting their spirit and my heart goes out to you. :) It seems that this time of year brings some sadness to a lot of people - I've observed this lately and it makes me wonder what it is about the dead of winter that brings about rough times.

I know from experience that winter is not the best season for me to face a challenge. I get cabin fever and my joints and bones ache until April. Despite the cozy home I have made, I sometimes feel trapped. Add some kind of outside difficulty to the equation and it makes life very challenging!

Just remember, we weren't meant to climb glass mountains. Identifying what is out of your control and what is in your power to change; and accepting these things as truth can help you to be more understanding with yourself, give yourself a break and learn something new about yourself.

Choices can be difficult and we have every right to ponder them, and to feel every range of emotion these choices bring! But be kind to yourself. Make the courageous decision not to allow any negative emotion to linger. Life is too short and you deserve all the happiness in the world! :)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blue Moon Thoughts

One of two Blue Moons will be gracing us on January 31st of this year. The second one is at the beginning of March. Also, there is no full Moon in February...does that make anyone else feel a little weird? I don't know how I feel about that!

In the days and nights leading up to the Blue Moon, why not think of the phrase "once in a blue moon"? Think about something that you've been wanting to do, something you've been hesitant to try...and DO IT!!! 

Is there an opportunity knocking at your door that perhaps you aren't seeing? Or maybe ignoring? Don't have time for? What if you miss your chance? Why not go for it?

Some Blue Moon superstitions:

1. Ladies, please don't stare at a Blue Moon for too long, lore has it you will get pregnant and your child will be a monster! EEK! ;)

2. If you happen to look at the Blue Moon, fish a coin out of your pocket and gently turn it around in your hand for good luck.

3. If you are a gangster...yes, I'm talking to you, trust me, it's unlucky to rob a bank on the night of a Blue Moon, you will surely get caught!

One thing I've been really wanting to do is challenge myself creatively. When Michael mentioned his drawing challenge, it was the perfect time for me to seize the opportunity and I'm really enjoying the daily challenge. Is there something you've been wanting to do and lack the oomph? Is something hidden from you? I'll draw a card for you if you like, maybe it'll give you some ideas. :) Just let me know in the comments!

Something that's been on my mind for years now is adding more whimsy to my garden. I thought about putting together a "Fairy Garden" and adding some fairy lights in spots around the yard. I tried a butterfly and hummingbird garden as well as a Moon garden last year, but the weather was against me. I'm going to take a shot at planning and putting together some ideas to make my garden more magical this summer. Once in a Blue Moon is calling me! :)

2007 Blue Moon

Blue Moons have extraordinary healing energy. If you need some healing, call upon the Blue Moon for her energy. If you can be outside under the Blue Moon (even if the skies are cloudy) that's great! If not, just perch yourself by a window. Place your hand on the area where you need to heal and try to feel the pull of the Moon, it's quite powerful if you can quiet your mind and focus! If you have any kind of lavender around (candles, essential oils, flowers)...have these nearby to add to the charm.

And if you feel a little mellow, romantic or nostalgic, here is Elvis' version of Blue Moon, recorded in 1956...aah that voice! :) Of all the versions of Blue Moon out there, this is definitely my favourite! Enjoy the Blue Moon this month my friends and seize the day! :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Anxiety Post

Hi my friends! :)

This is a long post so feel free to skip over it if it doesn't apply to you! :)

I wanted to share with you details of the anxiety program that I've been following for the last few weeks because I've found a lot of relief! 

The program I followed was 8 lessons. It was theory, meditation and yoga. I've had a little bad luck with yoga injuries lately so I didn't do that part of the program. I did watch the videos, but I concentrated more on the theory and meditation.

Here is what I learned (4 exercises):

1. Short Quiet Meditations and Your Happy Place

Several times a day it's important to sit and meditate. It takes only minutes. You sit and be still. You start to feel every muscle from your jaw, up to your eyes, your ears...then down to your throat and lungs. You don't necessarily try to relax these muscles, but just be aware of them while you breathe deeply. If you want to try to relax them that's good, but only after you've noticed which areas are tense. The next step is to imagine a scene that brought you to such tremendous joy and focus on it. The idea is that if you train your body several times a day to slow down and focus, that any pent-up anxiety will be released.

In my case, I found that my jaw was horribly tight and so were my eyes; so I naturally focused on those areas and tried to relax them. My "happy moment" was Pavlov, our foster border collie, running like a mad man outside in the snow and loving every moment in the country. He looked so happy and free. He looked so confident and loved. That made my heart sing and I look back on that often. I've been doing this about 5 times a day, like I said, it just takes a few moments, but it helps me to be in the present, so anything that was nittering away at my brain dissolves.

2. Breathing In and Breathing Out

Inhalation brings energy to the body. It increases heart rate and gets the blood flowing. Exhalation releases hormones that promote relaxation, healing and feelings of harmony. The teacher had a fancy word for it...para...something or another, but basically the way we breathe sends different messages from the brain to the nervous system. When we deeply inhale and quickly exhale (as in the case of people under stress), we start to build up a lot of energy that can manifest into anxiety later in the day. We also release too much of the hormone cortisol through intense inhalation.

Cortisol is a good hormone to be released under times of high stress because it triggers the fight or flight mechanism in the body. If you're being chased down an alley - yes! You want that cortisol to help you out! But, like in my case, if you are prone to chronic stress and anxiety, too much cortisol can be very dangerous as it builds up in your system. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease....the list goes on. Basically stress can kill you.

In my case, the elevated levels of cortisol triggered my fight or flight response when it wasn't needed and unfortunately this caused a physical reaction that led to panic attacks. The hormone is released through your adrenal glands and prepares you for a physical fight or a fleeing "flight". If you have chronic stress and the cortisol builds has nowhere to go if you don't fight or flee. I've known this since 2003, but the only way I could manage it before was through tranquilizers.

3. Chest Breathing vs. Belly Breathing

People with anxiety tend to breathe out of their chests. These are not deep breaths, so the tendency is to inhale a lot more than we exhale.

With these two lessons (#'s 2 and 3) in mind, I focused on my breathing. I breathed very deeply, trying to do "belly breathing" instead of chest breathing. I also tried a 1:2 ratio of inhalation vs. exhalation...counting, say, to 5 on the inhale...then counting to 10 on the exhale. The near-immediate sense of calm I felt was amazing.

4. Your Ladder of Anxiety

It is important to establish your "ladder" of anxiety. The diagram that was shown was one of a person who was afraid of flying...which is a great example, but you can apply this to any situation that you know triggers your fear. So in the case of this person who has a fear of flying, the person starts with discomfort, and reaches full blown terror during the phase leading up to the flight:

1. Discomfort: Booking your flight (any idea of a fun vacation doesn't even register).
2. Restlessness: Waiting out the days before the flight.
3. Nervousness: Packing.
4. Anxiety: The drive to the airport.
5. Fear: Waiting for the boarding to start.
6. Fright: Sitting on the plane, waiting for take off.
7. Terror: The plane starts to move.
8. Panic: After terror, panic will stick with you until either you pass out or are on firm ground again...or if you take a pill. Some people need to do physical activity (like me, I pace around the house incessantly when I'm in panic mode)...and some people just lie down in bed and wait it out.

The lesson I learned is to identify the first three stages. Beyond that, the instructor was very realistic, he said "When you reach stage 4, Anxiety, do you really think you'll remember to think of your happy place, belly breathe and exhale deeply?" He said that if you can identify discomfort through to nervousness...that is the time to apply the first three lessons. 

For me, and I'm being a little vulnerable here...I'm terrified of choking to death. Okay, I said it. :) I've had trouble with swallowing and eating since I was about 8 years old. Sometimes food gets stuck in my esophagus; sometimes my throat refuses to work and I just simply cannot swallow. I've had many a gastroscopy (tube down the throat, talk about terror) and even got down to 88 pounds in 2002 when I couldn't swallow solids anymore due to stress. I was terrified of choking so I just stopped eating. 

So during the program, I really made an effort to put these lessons into practice. I observed my feelings for a few days and I discovered that one of my favourite places causes me the most discomfort. The kitchen. I noticed that as I was cooking and baking, I was in a good mind frame, but I felt a little tense, a little nervous. My hands shook and I started to feel stressed. I know this has a lot to do with the impending eating of the food. So now, when I'm in the kitchen and starting to feel a little nervous, I sit down and meditate, think of my happy place, belly breathe and intentionally exhale more than inhale.

Yowza. It works. For the last week or so, I haven't reached the fear stage of putting dinner on the table! I've had no problems swallowing or with food getting stuck.

The program is finished, but I'm definitely using the techniques I learned. And I'm continuing a daily 10-20 minute relaxation meditation as an ongoing method to promote relaxation. And now that I know what to do when I'm feeling nervous, I'm hoping these lesson will continue to be successful for me!

I am SO glad I found this program! I hope that this is useful to anyone reading it. Those who suffer this know how debilitating and frustrating it can be when you think you're doing all you can and it comes back without warning. I hope my experiences help someone who is suffering and needs some kind of help! xx

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tap Into Your Inner Muse!

I have had a burst of creativity lately! I've been painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, cooking and baking...I hope there is no end to this!! :) This is the second drawing in my daily drawing challenge. I'll post all of them weekly on my other blog! My theme this week is MONSTERS......aaaaah!

Today, in Pagan tradition, is the Festival of the Muses. Each year on this date, the invisible spirits that inspire and watch over all poets, musicians, and artists are honoured and filled with Goddess-inspired poetry, Pagan folk songs, art, music and dancing. Doesn't that sound lovely?

So how can you thank these muses? By letting loose the inner muse inside of you! What inspires you and makes you feel passionate? What brings you harmony and peace of mind? How can you express this? Through writing, drawing, baking, sculpting, thinking...creating? What is your favourite way to be creative?

I think that my inner-muse invokes a combination of peace and fear. Okay...I know that sounds warped lol...but let me explain...most of you know that I have a wild imagination and a macabre sense of creativity when it comes to a lot of my artwork...for example:

My Headless Horseman brings me a lot of joy...but I watch the movie with one hand over my eye! Fear! :) Healthy fear lol...but it is inspiring to me.

As for peace, well, most of my creativity comes from the life I've sculpted for myself. Living simply, living with love and getting back to basics. This is why I feel so creative when I'm in the kitchen, or when I'm creating a homemade wardrobe, painting...or when I plant seeds and write Tarot spreads. Where some women might feel it's not their thing, I do enjoy being a housewife/homemaker...whatever you want to call it! :) I feel peace of mind, knowing I'm "home" and it's cozy and comfy here. I wasn't very creative back in the days when I hated my living arrangements, something always got in the way of the harmony I longed for. Now that I have that harmony, my muse is bursting out!

I did a Tarot spread yesterday. One of the questions was "What are your two main sources of power that inspire your creativity?" I drew these two:

Innocence and Magick. I thought this was so cool. I definitely have that childlike innocence about me when I'm creating, and I find magick everywhere I look. Again, it's related to my imagination and my simple lovely life here. What about you? What powers your creativity?

I'm at it again! My inner sweet tooth/baking muse was knocking hard on my head this morning, reminding me that I had extra lemon curd from Alex's birthday Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie...since my goal this morning is to tap into that muse, I felt the need to make another one! :) This is going in the freezer for 12 hours then I'll add the meringue and we can celebrate the muse of creativity! :)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter Totem

I love symbolism of all types! I especially love the symbolism associated with animals. They teach us so much if we just pay attention. Do you have a favourite animal totem or spirit guide that is meaningful to you?

Back in 2004, I think my worst year on record, I couldn't even force myself to go outside. I did look out my back window every day and watch the birds in the woods. On one of my particularly miserable days, I was looking out the window in mid-winter and saw some tracks in the snow. Long story short, an adolescent bear had been sleeping under my back deck! I saw it one day emerging in the morning and walking back to the woods. This was frightening actually, we had bears up on the mountain often trying to get at the garbages, but steel boxes were put in place and they went away. I had to call the animal control department and they picked up the bear and brought him further up north.

This is around the time I started my spiritual journey. I did a lot of research on animal totems and to me this bear was giving me a sign to never give up and to be courageous. Whether the bear does this knowingly or not is a subjective belief. But I do love the messages each totem has to offer. And the bear's message could not have come at a more important time in my life.

I took this photo back in 2013. But I saw a similar bird today, the Woodpecker. The one I saw this morning had quite the mane on him! He was gorgeous and the dogs were just as star-struck as I was! We rarely see these birds outside of the woods, but this one was pecking away at all of the trees in the back yard. Then he just stopped and perched himself and looked at me. Kind of cool!

I took these photos back in 2014, the last time I saw a Woodpecker. They loved the suet feeder! This bird symbolizes opportunity knocking. Each tree he raps at is a door opening for new his case, maybe a new grub or worm!

Knock and keep knocking, seek and keep seeking, ask and keep asking, march to the beat of your own drum.

Woodpeckers will also find a suitable tree to hold their young. So they also represent the desire to have a home of your own, and to carve out the way and persist until you find it.

In colour symbolism, you could see the red on his mane as a wakening up of new ways to look at things...or new wisdom in general. Red is the colour of passion.

This bird has a lot of meaning for me today. Firstly, I'm proud to say that I've put into place an automatic transfer to a tax-free account. I also have budgeted for the next few years. Alex and I have a savings plan in place so that we will achieve home ownership. This is how we carved out the way! :)

And more importantly, this winter, I'd finally hit rock bottom with the anxiety. There were nights when it was so bad that I couldn't even swallow my food. For whatever reason my brain decided, nope, not tonight. You can cook the food, but you cannot eat it. It was quite devastating, especially around the holidays. And especially since it happens at random. This is what post-traumatic stress disorder does to a person unfortunately. 

The last few weeks I've been eye-ball deep in research, looking for new ways to fight this horrible thing that just loves to pop up every now and then.

I started a meditation program specifically for anxiety. It's VERY interesting. It's theory, breathing exercises and meditation. It's 8 classes and has links to lots of articles and yoga programs as well. I'll write a post about that in the future when I'm done with the program. I'm also on a new supplement which is chamomile and passionflower combined. I have increased my daily fish oils too. I'm spending an hour journaling also. I have my days very structured which brings me a lot of harmony. So far it's working pretty well.

But...and we all have these days...when I woke up this morning, I felt tired and achy and not in the mood to sit quietly for a meditation. The Woodpecker changed my mind. :) I'm making this year the year where I dump anxiety to the curb...or at least conquer it when it rears its ugly head. I don't have time for it anymore! :) I'll be putting out a few more suet feeders tomorrow to thank the Woodpecker for that important message this morning! I hope he comes back!

I used to have the attitude that all of these things I do is just too much to manage anxiety without pharmaceuticals, but I don't want to take them anymore. They are poison and just a band-aid anyway.  I managed to get off them so many years ago and I won't go back on them. The measures I'm taking for myself do take up a good few hours daily, but I accept that it's necessary and I feel the benefits already. I think that so many ills would be cured if we learned how to breathe properly, do some exercise and stretching, eat fresh foods, relax and be thoughtful every day. Our existence is body, mind and spirit and we need to take care of all of them to be in balance. What do you do to balance your life?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Number 16

January 16th...once upon a time when I was a kid, this would mean that spring weather was just 2 months away! That's when I lived in Montreal though. I actually remember Easter in the spring, wearing a spring outfit and of course, a nice hat for the Easter, not boots!! Well, our climate has changed a little since then. Now that I'm a good 3 hours north, I'd say spring was just 4 months around the corner lol...

I don't know too much about numerology, but I'm dabbling! :) From what I've learned, the number 16 is a karmic number, and people under its influence need to keep on the high road. They must develop will power and take positive action to overcome obstacles. 

So my question today is, do you believe in Karma? Do you feel that your actions will define the quality of your own life? Do you believe in fate or destiny? Do you believe in the Eastern philosophy that the state of your own Karma also includes the behaviours from a past life? you believe in "an eye for an eye"?

I definitely believe in Karma in my own life. I believe in "what goes around, comes around". This is a belief that has empowered me my entire life...especially under circumstances where I had zero input, control or defense. I always figured "they" would get what's coming to them one way or the other - and it gave me peace of mind.

I had a friend way back when. She was a terrible pessimist. She was also a racist. The things that came out of that girl's mouth could turn your stomach. She was quite rude and nasty and eventually, even the most compassionate of her friends just left her behind - me included. I just remember her always saying things like "I don't understand why I have such back luck. I'm a good person." Well, the jury is still out on that one. She wasn't a good person - she could be, but most of the time she let her negativity and cruel opinions get the better of her.

I think that what we put out to the Universe is what we attract back. But of course, there are exceptions to everything. I don't believe in black and white. I don't believe that children rule their own Karma. Sometimes bad things happen to them and they act out - not out of choice, but out of lack of life experience. And sometimes people have fallen victim to tragedies or illness when they are very good people. I believe that Karma is an adult philosophy and truth when people make choices. If I choose to be a bigot and hurt people who are of a different race, religion, gender, age or sexual orientation...solely based on ignorance or anger...then I would assume Karma would definitely come back and give me the same treatment in some other area of my life.

I try to live with kindness. I don't like people in general, but I won't choose to be cruel or rude to them. I will just choose not to interact with them. I prefer to show my kindness to animals and to the Earth. Karma also applies to the self. If you don't show yourself kindness, you will likely not get it in return.

There was a time in my life where I was very negative. Doom and gloom, hatred, anger and sickness...that combination was my entire existence. Some things I couldn't control, like the illness, but my attitude was something I could have worked much harder on. Those were some dark days, such misery! I feel like I wasted so much of my life on that negativity. Negative energy is a powerful dynamic. I can feel people's negative energy as though it was my own, and very intensely. It really challenges me at times - so I guess that's the number one reason why I avoid being around people.

But positive energy is just as powerful! There was a game I played with my friends when I was younger. We'd all lie on the floor, each one resting our heads on the other person's stomach. The game was called "Ha Ha". One person would start laughing and before you knew it, we'd all be laughing our heads off from the bobbing of our heads on the stomachs of our friends who were laughing hysterically. Positivity and laughter is catchy. :)

I've met cynics throughout my life who "poo poo" the power of positivity as though it was some form of mind-control or something!!  When I am super positive and send out that energy, I really do feel it coming back to me. If negative energy can affect people so strongly, why is it so hard to believe that positive energy couldn't do the same?  Do you have the same experience with positive energy?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Moon and Gardening

January Waning Moon Rising

I love my Canon camera! Most people try to take photos of the Moon at night, but if you're lucky enough, you can also see the Moon rising. Do you follow the Moon cycles? I'd love to read what they mean to you, and how you honour and celebrate them!

We are currently in the waning stage of the Moon (it's decreasing towards a New Moon on the 17th). If you want to do some self-improvement, it's a good time to think of ways to remove negative energy from your life. I personally try extra hard to be positive during a waning Moon; I do little rituals like burning sage to remove any lingering negativity that might be trapped in my home. If I feel a stronger negative energy somewhere specific, I'll fill a jar with water and vinegar and just leave it overnight to absorb any funny feeling I have in that area of my home. We live in a cottage that has been a rental since the early 1980's so many a soul has been through these walls. You just never know what is lingering, best to rid it when you feel it!

Here are some fun superstitions for the waning stage of the Moon:

- Eat some potatoes during this cycle, it will bring you protection! (we're having mashed taters with dinner tonight!)

- If you accidentally look over your left shoulder and see the waning moon, you'll have a prosperous month. If you cheat and look on purpose, it doesn't count! :)

- Don't ever point at a waning Moon, it brings bad luck.

Being self-sufficient, well, as much as possible, is a dream for me. I'm well on my way though. I started my first garden last summer and plan to continue to grow my food as much as I can. There is something so gratifying when you eat the food you've grown isn't there? :)

January 2015 Waning Moon

After two days of rain pouring down and 10C (50F) was a sloppy mess outside. Overnight the temperature dipped to -24C (-11F) and turned into a skating rink.'s a little milder but snowing. All I could think of (besides the impending shoveling) was spring, the garden and what I'll be planting soon in my window!

The benefits of gardening are beyond what I can list here. As many of you know, I live with depression and anxiety and I can attest that gardening brings a peace of mind to my life like no pharmaceutical ever did lol! I find it a deeply spiritual and rewarding hobby. I've learned a lot about Mother Earth in the last year, more than I knew! I've proven to myself that homegrown produce is pretty much all I can eat as well. After a summer of enjoying my own lettuce, I bought some Romaine in town and was sick all night. It's the same with most of the produce I buy at the store. If I don't peel it and cook it, I can't eat it.

I've really been interested in gardening by the Moon cycles lately. Have you ever done that? 

I've done some reading on this subject and it really interests me. The Moon influences the rise and fall of the tides, I don't think that can be debated. But the Moon's gravitational effect also affects the moisture in the soil. And this all depends on the cycle of the Moon. 

We naturally think that the Sun has the biggest effect on growth of our plants, but moonlight also affects leaf growth and sap flow inside the plants. 

The practice of gardening by the Moon is ancient and everywhere I read that gardeners have great success with this method.

2009 Harvest Waning Moon 

Last year I started my seedlings indoors in April. I think I'm going to follow the Moon cycles this year when I start the seedlings...and also when I'm ready for the outdoor planting. Why not give it a try? It just takes some planning! Here are the rules:

1. Crops that yield ABOVE ground should be planted during the Waxing Moon (New Moon To Full Moon) within these two categories:

a) The FIRST week of the Waxing Moon is especially good for crops that don't have seeds on the inside, like cabbage, spinach, celery and broccoli.

b) The SECOND week of the Waxing Moon is especially good for those crops that have seeds on the inside, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. Also for pitted fruits.

2. Crops that grow underground, the root veggies, like carrots, onions and potatoes should be planted during the Waning Moon (Full to New Moon).

3. Never plant anything on the day of the New Moon or the Full Moon.

What are your gardening plans this year? First time? Seasoned gardener? My friend Dianna and I are determined to grow some lettuces, tomatoes and herbs during our insane winters here in northern Canada...we figure the only way to do it is with a "grow light" set up, which is pricey. Are you lucky enough to have a year-round garden? Are you influenced by the Moon cycles? Do you do any cottage witchery or garden witchery to help your plants along? I'd love to read about it!! :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pet Messages

I wrote this Tarot spread for my friend Martha, such a wonderful, sweet and funny lady, who has recently had to say goodbye to her beloved cat Nacho. Martha: You can pick a card for each question and think about the message and the feeling you get. This is meant for Tarot but you can also use the Oracle decks. What's important is the feeling you get, and the positive aspects of each message. (Btw...I don't do reversed cards, I focus on positive only, I'm not into doom and gloom!!!) :)

The photo is of my own beloved pugs Winston and Spencer who have since passed away. We used to hang out at the duck pond every afternoon when I lived in Orford Quebec. This was a lovely area and has so many wonderful memories for me!

I believe that our deceased loved ones are always with us, either through their energies or through our memories. They are never forgotten. It's so hard to let go of the grief but that is just life as we know it - doesn't make it easier though.

I honour my two little monsters every day. I have photos of them by my side, I touch their urn and it brings back wonderful memories of the time I was blessed to have them in my life. Winston passed away at age 16. Spencer at age 19. I always used to joke that my Spencer was the man in my life who I had the longest and most loving relationship with! ;) Alex is trying to beat that record! ;)

My pugs taught me patience, unconditional love, silliness and responsibility. They taught me that an afternoon at the duck pond on a sunny day was much more gratifying than sitting in a dark room on the computer or watching television. They helped me keep promises. They comforted me and got me through the worst of the burnout and depression. They never asked for anything in return except some food, water and my love. They taught me that the love between a pet and his "fur mom" was the most wonderful feeling a person could feel.

I will never forget them. Every year on Samhain, I do a reading to connect with them. I will always remember them!

Do you have a similar story? Have you had to let go of a pet? Do you still feel their energy? We have five dogs now, and I say often to Alex "My gosh, Marlene reminds me of Winston!" or "Jack sounds like Spencer when he wants what I'm eating!"...they will always be with us, isn't that wonderful? :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Gifts of Winter

I will admit that I'm a finicky person when it comes to the seasons. Here in the Laurentians, I'm lucky enough to experience four seasons; though I find that spring and autumn are gradually getting shorter and we seem to be just having summer and winter lately!

Winter has a bad rap, I complain a LOT about the cold, the dark, the shoveling (my gosh, the shoveling...)...but in reality, I wouldn't have it any other way. :) I couldn't live in an area that didn't have winter the way I know it. I wrote this spread to try to find the good things about winter and what we can learn from them. Speaking of shoveling:

This is what my rental looked like in the winter of 2013. Snowed in? Nearly!! I cannot even begin to justify a complaint about shoveling when I remind myself of this (literal) pain in the neck lol! As the months crept by, the walkway got narrower and narrower lol...

When we think of the gifts of winter, it's good to use symbolism. Renewal is a big one. Rest, relaxation, thought, warmth and beauty are others. What symbols do you attach to winter? What about finding the good in the not-so uplifting symbols like darkness and cold?

Alex and I have created such a lovely home here that we feel very cozy and warm here. The chaos of the two extra dogs rattled us a bit this autumn!! But from that chaos came tranquility and even MORE love in this home!! 

Getting back to the Tarot spread...the biting truth that I need to learn and accept before the spring is that I have absolutely NO control over okay, that's extreme, but really the only thing I can control is my own mind. Just because I want something to happen; or someone to act in a certain way, doesn't mean it'll happen and I have to be okay with that. For the most part, I'm on board with this reality, but sometimes I fall into the trap...I wish that x, I wish that y, I wish that z. Wishing is fine, daydreaming and hoping for something is okay. But if it gets to the point where you become negative and lose appreciation for what you have in front of you...then it's time to rethink why you are so unhappy!

This is "Winky" (not his real name lol). :)))

Winky graced our bird feeder all winter last year. We saw him grow from a teeny little squirrel. I wonder if Winky will be back this winter? He was definitely a pure and beautiful animal who touched our lives last winter. There is so much beauty in Nature around us, I feel blessed that I'm able to take time to notice and appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is traditionally celebrated 12 days after the Winter Solstice. So tonight, we celebrate good health, prosperous crops for the new season and a closing down of the Yuletide feasting and celebrating. Though good luck is hoped for all crops, Twelfth Night was originally a Pagan celebration to wassail the orchards to encourage them to grow well and abundant fruit. Traditionally, people would bring apple/pear (or citrus) drinks in a Wassail Dish, and sprinkle the cider on the trees of the orchard. They would dance around the trees to encourage the beginning of the fruit trees waking up from their winter slumber. This would go on all day and night, wassailing every tree in every orchard in town.

After all of the feasting, it's a good idea to wind down the Yuletide season and celebrate the upcoming crop season with a healthy meal...followed by cake of course! :) Celtic Paganism celebrates the Oak King tonight. (For more information on the legend of the Oak King vs. the Holly King, here is a link with basic information.) Tradition is to bake and eat a "King Cake" (this is traditional for many religions and cultures).

Some Twelfth Night Folklore:

Whatever you dream tonight will come to pass over the next twelve months! (No crazy blind priest nightmares please!!!)

Don't go into the barn with new shoes tonight or you might bewitch the livestock. Better to freeze your toes and leave any new shoe at the barn door.

Light a fire and toss a few coins into it. The burnt coins will bring prosperity to the household for the entire year. (Just be sure not to spend them!)

To bless your land, light a candle and walk around the perimeter of your property today or tonight. This will chase off all evil spirits lingering and will bring luck to whatever you plant in the spring.

For Twelfth Night, Alex and I will have an array of leftovers from the last few night's feasts! I made an apple cake as my "King Cake" and we'll drink some Apple Cider Wassail also, as a toast to fruitful crops this season! There has been so much celebrating lately! It's been a lot of fun! :)

Happy Twelfth Night! :)

Element Card for Martha :)

Martha! :)

Here is your element card in relation to the New Year's "Take Charge" post. The question was:

What element represents what you need to take control of in 2018?

I chose my "Messages from your Animal Spirit Guides" oracle deck to draw your card, The Blue Heron. Your card symbolizes Air, which represents the mind, thought, observation; and mental health.

Besides contemplating on the element of Air; I thought it would be nice to have a message from the Oracle deck too.

More food for thought, the Blue Heron stands very well alone and when it needs to spread its wings, the Blue Heron spreads them with grandeur and majesty. :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

January Full Wolf Super Moon!

It is beautiful today. But oh my gosh is it COLD. Alex and I had a lovely New Year's Eve and I'll blog about that on Rain's Garden shortly! I got up early to watch the sun rise and welcome the new year, nearly froze my pants off! It definitely felt polar out there, but it was sunny all day with no wind, which  really brightened my spirits because weather lore states:

- No wind on January first indicates a dry, hot summer.

- On January first, no wind at all...a prosperous and happy new year for all.

After the summer we had last year, my gosh how much rain fell exactly???...I'm very encouraged that this coming spring and summer will be fantastic! I can't wait to get my fingers in the dirt and plant my garden this year!

I took this photo last night, the sky is beautiful! It's a pretty magical time of the year! We have a full moon tonight, the Wolf Moon. It's also a Super Moon, meaning the distance from the Moon and the Earth is as close as it can be. This brings a lot of great energy to those who are open to it! Even up north, we don't need any flashlights tonight, gosh the moon has been so bright the last few nights and I have definitely felt some strong energy.

If you are so inclined, this is a great time to ask the Moon for protection for your family and your home from the bitter January cold. It's also a time to be cautious. The Wolf Moon was named after hungry wolves that lurked in villages, looking for any food they could get. There is a strong message to listen to your gut feeling - it is usually spot on!

Some things to ponder tonight:

- Am I being my true self?
- Do I need to simplify my life?

De-cluttering is a great ritual for January. The winter months are a perfect time to relax and do some thinking; but also a fine time to try a new hobby or tap into your creativity. I'm always extra motivated this time of year to find even more creative frugal ways to live so that we can save more money towards our future home! Being creative doesn't always apply to arts and crafts. Think about how to be more creative and apply these ideas to improve your life.

If you want to read cards or just meditate on new beginnings, light a white candle (signifying renewal) and burn some lavender (for happiness and peace) or rosemary (for health and love). Most people don't have a wide array of incense to burn. I use essential oils in my new aromatherapy diffuser now, but before I had it, I just put oils or herbs and spices into a pot of boiling water and let it simmer in a bowl while I relaxed and focused on my thoughts.

Our Wolf: Charlie
Although I do try to focus on the positive all of the time, I do recognize that not everyone is having an easy life. We all go through that one time or another; some of us for far too long! I personally suffer from S.A.D. and awful cabin fever in the winter months up north, so I try to do everything I can to remain hopeful and positive. Here is a good thought for today and for the month of January:

If you feel weak and are ready to give up, think of the wolf who endures the frigid, hungry cold winter months. Spend as much time by a sunny window as you can. Howl if you need to and use your resourcefulness to keep warm and keep surviving. Spring is just around the corner!