Learning to Love the Body Authentic

When I was first starting to blog a couple years ago, I read a post from another Lokean Blogger about a meditation/journey she had.  She remarked about how every time she transformed her form in the journey, Loki had pushed her back into the same exact form that she had in life.  She talked about being extremely mad at him for doing so, because she hated her figure so much.  But Loki insisted, saying he wanted her as comfortable with her body in the physical form as she was with her mental form and abilities of shape changing.

When I read that, I remembered thinking, ‘yep, I’m going to have to do that someday too.’  Well, that day has come. But learning to love my form is happening in a much different way than what this blogger had to go through.  For me, there are additional facets of this that I must face.

As most who read this know, I have Fibromyalgia.  When I was first diagnosed, I thought I could handle the disease by simply decreasing the quantity of my activity, and taking longer rest periods.

Boy was I wrong!

It’s a lot more complicated than that.  Sometimes you can  push yourself, but more often doing activities becomes dependent on variables that must be considered before you do an activity.  Further, the more you push to do something, the more you can make the disease worse. That means the little bit of extra work you did in a martial arts class might mean you have permanently shortened the amount of energy you have every day for the rest of your life.

So my being comfortable with my body doesn’t just include the body issues (which also thanks to the fibro are on the forefront again).  It also includes becoming comfortable with what I can and cannot do.  I need to learn how to listen to my body more deeply than I ever have before to better understand what I can do, when I can push to do more and when I need to take time to rest more deeply.

It doesn’t stop there.  Fibromyalgia also messes with digestion and exacerbates other conditions.  This now means what is going into my body is just as important as what I do.  Eat the wrong thing, and the balance of the whole system can take weeks and even months to recover.

So in short, instead of just being comfortable with my body, I now must also be mindful of my movement, my eating, my rest and how I think and feel in order to deal with this disease properly and make the most out of what activities I can do.

I am not writing this to whine.  This is a challenge.  It’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever had to take on in my life.  I also know I don’t need to accept this challenge if I don’t want to.  I could simply go with what I can do at any given moment.  But if I want to lead a life that is the most authentic to my spirit, my morals and my beliefs, and if I want to become the best person I can or pursue any activity that needs any sort of training, and to fulfill my obligations, it is work I must do.  This to me, is what my Gods would want me to do.

 

So, what does being authentic to my body mean to me?

  • It means bowing out of my last martial arts class, for now.   But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to read up on the arts I have trained on and practice the techniques when my body allows me to.  Sure, I won’t be in a sparring ring as an opponent anytime soon; but perhaps with patience I can be there as a referee.  Or at the very least, I can support my husband and help him with forms and technique as he prepares for his own black belt boards in late summer.
  • Running slower, or doing a running/walking practice instead of straight running needs to be considered if I ever want to race again.  I could still complete races, but it may be much more walking than running depending on how my body feels that day, and I must be OK with that and not push anyway.
  • My sword practice needs to be equal amounts of reading about fencing and drills I can do alone; and I must not get upset about missing opportunities to cross blades with my sword brothers and sisters.  I have already beat myself up enough for the significant number of practices I’ve missed.   Even though historical fencing is lower impact than my other martial arts studies, it still takes a significant amount of energy to engage an opponent. I need to remember that.
  • I need to reconsider a personal eating plan.  Foods I once had no issue eating now bring stomach pain and days of being uncomfortable, which then eats into the stamina of the day.  My beloved two cups of coffee in the morning are in jeopardy as I find I am still having discomfort from drinking it even after switching to a lactose free creamer, and then to a non-dairy creamer.  Carb-laden foods like the gluten free pizza my husband and I both love are now on the chopping block once again, along with the infrequent serving of bacon we occasionally have with a weekend breakfast.  And as a caveat to this; I cannot just depend on a diet someone else puts together for me: Diets like Paleo, or FODMAP are good starting points, but they are not one size fits all with conditions like I have.
  • Finally, I need to become comfortable with my figure.  I have a ‘lovely’ area around my stomach that reacts like a natural ‘muffin top’. (when you wear tighter jeans and your skin pops over the top of your jeans like the top of a muffin – that’s a muffin top.  By the way, whomever decided to name a flap of skin after a calorie-laden baked good needs a right and proper curse.) It doesn’t matter if I am wearing tight pants or not; my body has made this natural hideousness on its own; and instead of pushing myself to lose weight and attempt to hide that area with slimmers and tops that flare out; I need to be comfortable with it.  This is the part that I think is going to be the hardest.

 

This sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  It does, until you realize what routine I kept prior to the onset of the fibromyalgia:

  • Two hours of Tae Kwon Do classes a week plus an hour of Hap Ki Do classes per week
  • 1.5 to two hours of yoga per week
  • Running twice a week, with one run being a distance run of 5 miles or more
  • Swimming a half mile to a mile a week
  • Weekday lunch walks done as fast as possible with a minimum of 2 miles completed each walk
  • Eating the bare minimum of calories I could (usually 1500-1800) to continue to lose as much fat as possible (Yep!  Way too little for the activity levels, I know.)

 

Perhaps I should be thankful for the Fibromyalgia in some ways.  It made me realize what I was doing to my body was torture and not healthy.  Sure, I was getting down in size.  But I realize now it wasn’t worth the panic over the calorie or not being able to get a workout in because of sickness.  And it absolutely wasn’t worth the fear that I had every morning of my pants not fitting well because of bloating or because I had gained weight.

It’s amazing what we put ourselves through for reasons like health, pushing through obstacles or to become better at something.  Sometimes in the effort we become taskmasters and beat ourselves down more than anyone else ever could.

And that is why being authentic is so important to me now.  Loki was right about the other blogger needing to be comfortable in her own form, and he’s right about me needing not only to be comfortable, but being able to understand and know my body now more than ever before.  This isn’t work that is going to happen overnight.  And it will probably take many months of understanding and then months trial and error to move my activity levels forward.

But like with any other task, it’s not going to get any easier or take less time until you get started.

Advertisements

Finding Gods of Compassion

Many times when I do readings I get the message to tell someone not to be so hard on themselves; to give themselves time to heal from the wounds that the world has given them.  And inevitably, the client (especially my deeply pagan clients) look at me with surprise.  They then proceed to tell me that their God is not the type to allow someone to wallow in pity.  Instead, they tell me their Gods and Goddesses are the type to push someone to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it.

I fully agree, to an extent.  As someone who feels very honored to have a relationship with Odin, I know first hand that there are Gods out there that want us to ‘get on with it’.  They want us to accept our shortcomings and grow up.

But that request to ‘grow up’ or ‘get over it’ isn’t the same as giving ourselves time to heal from the deep wounds that the world gives us. And in that aspect, I think that we are missing an important factor in the relationship with our Gods.  Although they want us to grow, Gods and Goddesses can also can be compassionate and supportive of us being compassionate for ourselves and for our fellow human beings. 

Now before you start getting weirded out by images of Odin sitting around a camp fire holding hands and singing, hear me out.

We know that during early periods of civilization the Gods moved around within pantheons a lot.  We know that at times one God usurped another when civilization changed.  Gods of the wildlands were replaced or altered to represent the fertile fields and of agriculture.  And in time, those Gods were also altered or replaced to represent war and protection from other civilizations thirsting for conquest.  I’m not going to get into all the specifics, but they are all there in the history books for anyone to see.  And this happened in many different civilizations.

The point that I’m trying to make is that the Gods changed when humanity needed them to.  And for thousands of years, humanity was OK with that.  In fact, in our current time, we have been known to modify our own practices to mold to our own needs.  And even from a reconstructionist pagan standpoint, we see that modification today.

For an example, let’s look at Beltane, the fertility festival celebrated by many pagans around the world.  This festival was originally a fertility rite, both for the fields and for fertility of our species.  We still see this holiday as a perfect time for couples to do fertility rites to get pregnant, but we recognize that the survival of the species because of lack of fertility is not as serious of an issue today as it was two thousand years ago.  We don’t need to utilize that rite to secure survival of our species.  In fact, I think we all can agree that there is an overabundance of humans now on the planet.

So what do we do with this fertility rite?  Do we stop celebrating it, or do we reframe it to our needs today?  What we find is that many pagans do a very good job of reframing it.  We still honor and remember those of long ago and why they celebrated Beltane, but instead of fertility for the fields and for our species, pagans might celebrate the rites to work towards the fertility of money, the fertility of ideas that would allow them to further their careers or the fertility of wisdom and aid with the goal of bettering themselves in some way in order to continue to honor the Gods on this plane of existence.  And I think we can all agree that the Gods worshiped during the height of Beltane haven’t abandoned us because we modified the rites to more clearly represent what our needs are in this day and age.

I’ve pointed out that we have modified rites to reflect our current culture, and I’ve also pointed out that the Gods have changed based on the needs of the population at the time.  Now what does all of this have to do with the Gods having compassion?

One of the biggest needs of the day in my mind is compassion.  Open your favorite social media site and I can guarantee you will find something in your feed that is argumentative.  You may also find something that will get you frustrated or even angry.  It’s a very easy example because it happens on a regular basis.  Want another?  Drive your daily commute, or just drive anywhere on a highway in fact.  We are human, we are going to get angry at the person who just jumped in front of us and slammed on their brakes, or who decided to drive in the faster lane of the road yet is going under the speed limit for some reason.

All of this anger has slowly built up over the years to the point where we are today.  For years we have let the anger fester in our minds and souls, causing us finally to lash out at ‘those’ type of people.  Those that don’t think like us, those that don’t act like us, or those that believe differently than us.  We have become a polarized world that praises ‘sticking it’ to the other person over trying to come up with a compromise.

It didn’t happen overnight.  And there are more root causes of the problem than anger, but built up anger is absolutely a part of the problem.  We hold anger for ourselves, hold anger for our lot in life, hold anger and jealousy at others for having more, or for getting more assistance than us.  The anger bubbles up at our politicians (who may deserve it from time to time) and causes us to lash out at others who disagree.  And to battle we go.

For many of us, we feel like we either have limited options.  We could either take a side and fight for it, get the heck out of the way of the arguing forces or be run over; a casualty of the environment that has been slowly forming over many years.

Any one of those stances is going to cause anyone to have battle damage.  And this isn’t even the worst of the battle damage we carry around.

Our upbringings aren’t always rosy.  Our relationships with others can become abusive.  Life has its traumas, and we endure each and every one of them, but they don’t leave us exactly how we were prior to the situation.  Sometimes the changes are physical; a scar appears where a wound once was.  Sometimes the wounds are emotional, and we end up hardening some to those around us.  But no matter if the wounds were physical or emotional, there is a spiritual component to the wound as well.  Hardened hearts change the outlook on our spirituality.  Perhaps we stop caring as much about helping those in need because we are bitter about our own circumstances.  Perhaps we end up angry at our Gods for allowing things to be the way they are.

The world is changing, it’s getting more rough edges, and because of it we are hardening more than we realize.  I’ve seen even the most compassionate of Shamans make critical comments against another in the current hardened climate.  And I know I’ve done it myself numerous times.

Yes, there are times when we must be hard.  Perhaps we must defend ourselves from those abusers or from those that would do us ill will.  That is important too.

But what do we do with all the pain, anger and battle damage that has struck at our core and dimmed our spirit?

Why not give it to the Gods as an offering of endurance?

Why not ask for their aid to heal properly so that our souls can shine again?

Why not ask for their strength to see situations with compassion in an effort to make the outcome less hardened?

This is different than just ‘getting on with it’.  There will be times in everyone’s life that the hardened edge they encounter is small enough that it does little damage.  That is when it is perfectly acceptable to hear from our Gods that we must just ‘get on with it’.

But what about when the hurts are so great that they affect our daily lives?  What about those who have suffered any form of abuse for any period of time?  What about the traumas of life that shake you to the very core?  I don’t believe the Gods want to just look at us and say, ‘get on with it’.  Sure, we may THINK that is what they want us to do, but perhaps that is how we are conditioned to believe.  We’ve had almost 2000 years of a religion that has given us the group mentality that we are scum and not worthy of taking time for ourselves.  This religion has told us for years that we are unworthy of healing or compassion, and that we have to grovel and beg for healing and forgiveness.

Christianity has provided us with a group mind and culture that says we are weak and lacking.  Advertising agencies have already picked up on this and used it to sell us products to make us feel better.  Many people start waking up, and reach to Pagan Gods and Goddesses, (the very ones we think tell us to ‘get over it’) in order to get out of that mindset, and that is fantastic.  But are we allowing our personal beliefs to also make us feel better, or make us worse in other places?

At the very least, consider that the Gods and Goddesses that you are willing to fight for, the Divinity that you know will fight by your side, is also a Divinity that would be willing to tend to the wounds that you received from the fight you fought together.  That isn’t an unreasonable request, and one that could easily happen on the battlefields of old.

And if you are willing to go that far, also consider that sometimes the wounds that you receive may put you out of the fight for a while, and perhaps your God or Goddess understands that better than you realize.  Recognize too that if you could no longer fight, the Gods and Goddesses were compassionate enough to give you a place to go after you passed this plane of existence.

In my own personal journeys with Odin and Loki, I’ve come to realize that they are accepting of me when I am at my best, but they also are accepting of me when I am at my weakest.  Loki especially encourages me to look at my areas of weakness and learn to make them strong, and he has shown me that brute strength is not enough to do that.  In order to become stronger, you also have to have compassion, you have to have the courage to allow yourself to be weak, and perhaps even show that weakness to others in order to allow them to help you find your strength.  Compassion allows us to accept who it is we are without the glamour or lies that we tell ourselves.  Compassion allows us to look at the wounds we have received in battle and honestly evaluate them to understand how we need to heal.  And compassion is what we need to recognize the true amount of time we need to do that.

If we can expect our Gods and Goddesses to accept our feats of strength as appropriate offerings, why not also allow our feats of courage and compassion to be offerings to them as well?  Especially in today’s world, it’s going to take a significantly larger amount of effort to show compassion than to follow the status quo.  In those times when compassion is most needed, wouldn’t it be a better offering to show that compassion since it does take so much more effort?

And if you were one of the millions in this world who has emotional, physical and spiritual wounds, don’t you think your Gods would want you to heal as well as you can from those wounds?  And in order to heal fully, don’t you think that you have to have compassion for yourself?  So why wouldn’t a God or Goddess not have compassion for you?  Wouldn’t they be proud of you, because they know you realize that fighting isn’t something that is going to allow you to heal properly?

Perhaps it’s time for us to shift our thinking.  Perhaps it’s time we honor our Gods and Goddesses with different offerings; acts of compassion and beauty.  Maybe we need to recognize that even though they may not seem like a form of divinity that would react with compassion, perhaps they at least have understanding of the compassion that we need to have for ourselves and each other.  And perhaps they already are ready to adapt to that compassion to help de-escalate the polarization of the world.

 

Awakenings: The Day After

I’m currently in week three of the program called “The Artist’s Way”.  This is a very successful program that allows artists of any medium to remove the blocks stopping them from achieving their greatest potential.  The program has been around for over 20 years and is very effective.  There have been quite a few popular writers who credit the book with allowing them to write their first bestsellers.

The Artist’s Way is a book you must be ready for.  Several years ago when I first received the book as a gift, I quickly realized that going through the book was something that would take a lot of work.  I wasn’t ready to put in the time and energy to do so.  Therefore, the book went onto a shelf, forgotten, until I was reminded of it again by the person who gifted me the book in the first place.  She decided to go through the program again, and was excited at the results of the first several weeks.  Encouraged by her words, I decided to give it a try again.  And I’m glad I did, as the book has become the next logical step for me on my spiritual journey.

The first two weeks of the program deal with the baggage that we pick up and carry in our lives.  That baggage stops us from opening our creative and spiritual outlets.  This is Shadow Work at its deepest levels.  The book encourages you to go into those moments of baggage; the moments where you felt crushed, belittled and beaten down to the point where you decided that it wasn’t worth trying anymore.  Once there, you work through them by doing the exercises spelled out in the book to let them go.  The more you work with these moments, the more you open yourself up to the possibilities of reaching deeper creative potential.  (Or, in some circles, one would call it reaching the divine energy within each of us and allowing it to come to the surface in creative endeavors.)

Now that I’ve gotten through weeks one and two, I can see more opportunities for me to start writing, something I haven’t done since my childhood.  Poems have started to flow from my thoughts, and I’ve been inspired to start writing fictional work again.  I’m excited that I’ve reached this point.  It’s very much like the first initiation into a bigger world of opportunity and wonder.

Now, on week three, the author speaks to some of the synchronicity that can happen during this stage of the program.  If we truly have stuck with the exercises and gone deep, we have released some of the blocks to our creativity.  Now the path is clearing and we are open to new things to come into our lives and change us for the better.   The author speaks to possibilities of a class opening up, meeting the right person to mentor us, or any number of opportunities that can happen once we are opening ourselves back up.

I’ve been here before.  You and countless others have also been here before.  This is where the Gods/The Universe/whatever creative force you believe in starts paving the way for you to make permanent and lasting changes in your life.  You have been given the first bites of how a higher state of energy feels; an amuse-bouche of the clarity, wisdom and connection you will have.  Here is the opportunity to become more authentic to yourself and to grow in power and strength.  This is a beautiful and exciting place to be.  This is the flash of insight and surge of power we get after an initiation.  This is the “a-HA” moment of realization.  This is the decision that is finally made, the opportunity and resources that become available, or even the push of another door closing that forces you on the path you were meant to walk.

Everything is aligning the right way and it’s all there for the taking.  But are you ready?  Are you ready for the hard work that happens after the spiritual awakening or the initiation?  Sure, we have the moment of clarity, we feel altered, more in tune with the earth or with the Gods.  We feel the power within our hands, we see the path and opportunities open before us and we want to feel this way for the rest of our lives.  But these opportunities aren’t going to stay open without work.

Whenever we are trying to better ourselves in anything – school, career, personal life, physical changes to our bodies – everything we attempt to change pushes us to come to a point like this.  Any time we try to make ourselves better we first start to uncover the path, and now we need to change the daily habits to allow us to walk that path, one foot at a time.

So, how do you start to walk that path?  Perhaps we must radically change the way we eat, live, move or work to keep that moment of clarity in the forefront of our mind.  Perhaps we need to figure out the best way for us to get rid of habits, or take the time to meditate on why we have the habit in the first place.  Perhaps we need to learn to trust the new energy in our bodies more and not be as reactive to the negativity of others.

We can even have help to do these things.  Perhaps a new app, a new piece of jewelry or an affirmation posted to our bathroom mirror is enough to engage that spiritual energy within us, to remind us of the place we opened to and dared to go.  Maybe checking in with a mentor or teacher is a possibility.  If we feel like we need help on this journey, we will get what we need to stay on the path, as long as we choose to keep trying.

But keep trying we must.  Just because we ask for a crutch or additional aids doesn’t mean we are not relieved of our own work.  We can try getting up earlier all we want to do the meditations or prayers of gratitude.  But the alarm clock will only get us up if we stop hitting the snooze button.

And we must be vigilant with our changes.  Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 21 days to get into a habit.  But drop that new habit, even for a day or two after those 21 days, and you may find yourself right back where you started.  No wonder most gyms in the United States get insanely busy in January, but die out in February.

The good news in this is that if we can’t make the change in habit or action, we will get another opportunity to do so.  Perhaps the class date will pass, perhaps the memory of the initiation falls away.  But another class will become available when you are ready.  The initiation energy and attunement is still there and still open, ready to be utilized.  If you have the will to keep trying, the opportunity will stay open.

Sometimes however the opportunity takes time to present itself again. I was reminded of “The Artists’ Way” about five years after I was first gifted the book.  I’m very glad I picked it up this time around.  And next time I hope I don’t have to wait another five years for the opportunity.

 

 

Photo from Deviant Art

Poem:  I Am

I finished writing this poem today and present it here for thoughts.  I am quite fond of it, although some people have read it and been uncomfortable with its expressions.

The poem speaks to my life.  I am coming to the end of a significant amount of Shadow work, and this is a celebration of that.  I have reclaimed and am healing shards of my soul, embraced many of my issues and wrestled with personal demons.  I feel like now I come from a place of power that was meant for me, if only I dared to come this far.

Perhaps that is why this poem makes people so uncomfortable.

 

 

I Am

I am the uncomfortable silence,
I am the calm before the storm.
A friend may partake in my peace
While the foe shall hear no alarm.

I am sister-wife of The Mad,
I am the daughter of Gangleri.
A friend shall enjoy my aid,
While the foe fearful of my company.

I am she who rests in nightmares,
I dance where others dare creep.
Do not think that I am defenseless
Attack me, and pain you shall reap

Is there still a question of my loyalty?
Do I still belong in the house I dwell?
Oh I assure you, the wolf within is quite content,
Yet ever willing to come out of my shell

I Won’t Give Up Hope

 

Many times when I visit her, my mother likes to start ranting about her feelings about politics and the generations of people after her own.  She is of the baby boomer generation, and, of course, is also a child of two of members of greatest generation (those who endured World War II).

Some of her most repeated gripes include the level of stamina between generations.  She feels the greatest generation was the strongest generation we ever had; in work ethics, in principals and in morality.  Her generation, she believes is strong as well, but not as strong as her parents.

And then, there are the Gen-Xers, the millennials and the other generations that followed. In her mind, we all have significant weaknesses, specifically when it comes to ethics and when we need to put in a hard day’s work.  She gets mad when I speak about the work that my husband and I do, how we don’t depend on anyone else but ourselves and haven’t for a very long time.  She also gets very mad when I talk about how there are a lot of very good people in this world – my age and younger – that happen to work harder and longer than I ever would.  Some of these people have done significant things to change the world.

My father tries to chime in too; but only to throw a more judgmental spin on things.  He believes everyone from California are just too liberal for their own good, and that there is such a thing called reverse racism.

My parents are role models to me, but not for the reason you think.  They are role models for me to learn what NOT to become.  But thanks to this election, I almost got there anyway.

All the way through the primary, I was one of those people who were posting about how one candidate is bad for the country.  I was posting about the concerns of racism, the bigotry, the narcissism, and on and on.  I became polarized on this candidate and his supporters.  I focused on how horrible things would be if this person was elected, and expected everyone else to see what it was that I saw.

This polarization made me miss something else entirely.  I missed the fact that people are scared.  They are genuinely afraid of how things were going, afraid of the change that the past 8 years has brought, and fueled by that fear, they came out in mass to vote.

Now yes, many people are going to pour over the data of this past election for years to come, many much smarter than I, and give other reasons why my candidate didn’t win.  But no matter what they say, however many years from now, they won’t remember the underlying fear that was carried in the hearts of Americans through this entire process.  They won’t remember the media that fueled that fear, the memes on Facebook and other social media.  The polarization, the ‘what ifs’, and everything else that went along with it.

Now I see one way my parents could get so carried away into their judgement and hate.  And now I’m doubly determined not to do the same.

I’m going to make more changes now so that I don’t become polarized again.  I’m putting filters in place on my social media sites, and am going to strictly limit my news intake from now on.  I’m going to do my best to check all sources as I go.  And most of all, I’m going to try to remember that we are all human first.

I’m not going to give up hope that people can still be helped, love can still win, and that we are all striving to be better.

I’m not going to give up hope that we are all doing the best we have with what we are given.

And I’m not going to give up hope on my country.

Don’t get me wrong, when I see bullying or actions against others I’m still going to call it out.  That is my duty now more than ever.  I still have to do what I feel is right.  But now, I have to consider other actions.  Those actions might be donating what I can to more organizations, volunteering my time, saying prayers, doing ritual and just doing more to carefully consider someone else’s opinion.

Now more than ever, we need to unite with each other, our community and try to step forward as a whole.

Photo from Deviant Art

The Importance of Limits

1a8536fc5c45a266265e31f4bf6aea6c.jpg

As I go throughout my life, I recognize more and more that I need limits.  Not only are they important in my physical life and in dealings with other people, but they are important in my spiritual life as well.

I am not the type of person to shy away from a challenge, especially when it pertains to my self-improvement.  I’ve done a lot of things toward the goal of making myself a better person over the years.  I’ve lost significant amounts of weight, quit smoking, quit eating things that were bad for me or that I was allergic to.   (I know that one is a given, but I know family members who refuse to give things up, even when they know it hurts them!) I’ve changed my demeanor to the point that I have had people who haven’t seen me for a while come up to me and tell me I am a totally different person than what they knew before.  The changes aren’t being driven from the outside.  Instead, I’ve always wondered how far I can push myself to change, and to see what those changes would do for me.

Self improvement is one of the very basic things that I believe the Gods want us to do in this lifetime; we have to deal with the things that we are given, deal with the things that we have done to ourselves, and of course, deal with the stuff that others do.  We have to get through all of this in order to get to the nature of who it is we are as human beings.  It is only then that we see the gifts that the Gods give us to use in service to ourselves and others.

To that end, I believe the Gods take an active role in pushing you further in this life.  They are going to give you opportunities to come to terms with things that are going on.  They are going to give you opportunities to deal with roadblocks you put in your own way.  And as a reward, they are going to give you keys to the different gifts that you hold inside of yourself.  And the more you push yourself, the more the Gods will push you to go deeper into your spiritual path.  In the end, what you do makes you better equiped to do their will on this planet.  It’s never more than you can handle, but they still give as much as you think you can take.

That’s where the limits come in.

I’m recognizing the days of ‘overhauling’ my personal nature are pretty much over.  At 41, I’m finally recognizing that I am enough, and that a lot of the mistakes, abuse and issues from my past are now dealt with.  And if they aren’t dealt with now, they are at least on their way to becoming dealt with.  But for a while there, I still kept piling on projects like I still needed a lot more work, and the Gods reciprocated by opening up other doors of possibility for me.

Finally, a couple months ago, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with stuff.  .  A friend of mine, after hearing about how in conversations with my Gods I was told about these possibilities, said to me that it was OK to say no.  That thought had never occurred to me before.  Say no to a God?  Seriously?

It took me some time to realize it was true.  And it’s all a part of self-care that I needed to do for myself now.

Now I understand.  My Gods want me to say ‘no’ from time to time.  It helps them know that I am putting my self-care first, something that is very important because of the physical maladies that I have to deal with on a day to day basis.  They want me to know that I can stand up for myself, whether it be to them or to someone else who is either imposing on my time or causing me undue stress and harm.

I have a bet too, that I’m not the only one that needs to say ‘no’ occasionally.  Gods, especially those in the Norse pantheon, don’t want us to bow and venerate them all of the time.  They want us to work with them, both to make ourselves better and to make this world a better place.  But the only way we can effectively enter a relationship with them and do that is if we are honest about our own limits.  It’s weird to think that we can say ‘no’, as I know many who worship in pantheist traditions don’t think that they can.  And those of us who were brought up in said traditions immediately carry that mindset of not being able to say ‘no’ to their polytheist practice.

Now that I have accepted it, I realize setting limits needs to happen frequently, and we need to be aware that they change.  As a sufferer of fibromyalgia, I am constantly reviewing my efforts to stay active.  And that means that if I want to pursue one activity, another one is going to suffer.  I have to be OK with that.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to drop the activity that suffers, but it does mean that it needs to go on hold for awhile.  This is the same with my spiritual practices.  I can’t spend an hour each day on practicing and reviewing the runes while also wanting to do a significant meditation practice and build a better spiritual gardening practice.  All of that takes time and energy, and with fibro, both of those are significantly limited.

Especially as we start to journey toward the Autumnal Equinox, I find my spiritual practices going back to focusing on balance.  Limits need to be created and maintained in order to find that balance.  We still aren’t through this extensive year of work yet; and I expect the next months until year’s end are going to be very productive on many different levels.  Reviewing and redefining my limits right now are going to go a long way to getting myself ready for the work ahead.

Photo from Deviant Art

Roles within Activism

peace_is_cheaper_by_agent217

This is a post I knew I needed to write, but yet it has taken me quite a long time to figure out what I wanted to say.

You see, I’ve had a very hard time with this subject.  As the media spews more hatred and death and people become more polarized, I’ve known that I need to start figuring out an action plan for me to help heal the world around me sooner rather than later.  I’ve realized that as human beings we can no longer be idle about who we are, what we believe and what we choose to do day in and day out.  We need to stop listening to others and act on what it is we believe deep down in our soul.

I’ve done the work of figuring out what I believe and what I will stand for. And while that work will never be fully done, I feel l can comfortably say what I am and what I am not.   Since I have come to that conclusion, I’ve had this deep nagging in my gut that tells me I need to figure out what to do with this knowledge.

I hear the frequent calls that other pagan blogs and by other people in the pagan community, “Become an activist!”  “Join a Protest!”  “Make your beliefs known to all and that you won’t stand for anything less anymore!” And those are good ideas, for some people.  There are people that can do that day in and day out, and I applaud them for that.  I know it is hard to be out there for your beliefs 100% of the time.  It’s even harder to keep that up and still do the things you need to in order to live.  But I already know I can’t do that.  It isn’t because I want to hide from what is going on around me.  It isn’t because I don’t want to fight for what it is I believe in.  It is because I recognize I am a highly sensitive individual, an empath and sufferer of fibromyalgia.  And I simply can’t do those same things.

I know there are a lot of people out there like me.  We recognize that when we are in a situation that is saturated in anger and hate – no matter where it is at or who it is directed to – we physically hurt from what we feel.  When we become passionate enough to speak up or defend something we see wrong, the raw emotion and power that we hold in our bodies and minds also threatens overwhelm us for hours or even days.  We feel anxiety over having to talk about our beliefs with someone that disagrees – not because we are afraid of speaking out, but because we know that the negative emotion that might leak from those we are talking to will hit our shields and stick like a nasty, dark film that is ever so hard to clean off.  And if we aren’t vigilant about keeping our energy clean, physical sickness is going to come very quickly.

People like me have to know their limits very well; We need to know when we are well enough to push through something, and when we have to immediately stop what we are doing because we are going to hit a mental and physical wall.  And if we try to decide to push against that wall, we know the consequences of that action will be felt for a significantly long time as our bodies, minds and spirits heal.

Now that would happen if someone like me was in the middle of a protest when they have reached their limit or are forced into feeling every emotion because what emotional shields they had are blown away?  What about someone like me who has limited energy and a fogged mind thanks to fibromyalgia being in a heated debate?  Or what about someone like me who is so overwhelmed with anger because they believe they are right that they start to lose their sense of logic? It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But I know any one of these scenarios could happen to me.  And if I put myself out there like I see other activists do, I would be the one getting the brunt of it and not be able to recover.

Don’t get me wrong – I still do what is needed.  I’ve done it in the past, and I can do it again.  I’ve pushed through that wall by gathering every bit of strength I can and used force of will make it through whatever situation needs to be taken care of.  And I have also paid the price for doing it.  The last time it happened I was down for a full month.  And another two months passed before I was back to the same strength and energy levels that I was before the situation occurred.  So I know I cannot properly take care of myself and still be an asset while I am on the ‘front line’ on a regular basis.

So that pretty much cancels any thought of keeping up in any activist group.  So what is it I can do?

I think I’m halfway to being where I want to be.  I know what it is I believe, and I don’t let anyone else tell me differently.  And I think the fact that I push to understand myself and listen is more rare than it seems.

I recently watched a TV Show called “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”.  In it, there was a clip of a young man, sitting next to his mother, who wanted to start a “Children for Trump” Group.  The video featured this kid going on and on about the virtues of Trump, how President Obama is Muslim, and lots of other statements that came directly out of sound bites from media reports and other politicians.  I’m not going to get into those beliefs, but I do want to point out something else that I think is even more concerning:

This kid was a clone of everything his mother wanted him to be.

He said the right things in her eyes, did the right things in her eyes, and was never taught to think for himself.  I bet you he lives in a comfort zone completed for him by his mother, and is most likely kept from anything that could sway his thinking to something that is outside what his mother wants him to believe or see.   He probably has never asked “why” he believes what he does, he just believes what he spoon is fed to him about what is going on in the world.

That is a big problem.

We need to understand why we have the beliefs we do and not just allow them to be spoon fed into our minds like this poor kid.  We need to question things, and obtain our own sources of information that we feel are right for us.  We also need to expect to be challenged in those beliefs and sources, but not in a negative way.  We need to have open conversations about things, and have the courage to change the belief patterns.

So basically, in order to help heal the divisions, we need to do some of what I talked about in my last post.  I firmly believe in what Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  If I want the world to be more understanding, I have to be more understanding.  If I want to understand why other people believe what they do, then I need to learn why they believe it.  We can’t be spoon-fed beliefs anymore.  We need to find what works for ourselves, and be ever willing to learn something new, even if it challenges the current belief system we have.

A couple months ago I would have thought that what it is I am doing – challenging my own belief systems to really dig deep into my own morals and beliefs – would be enough to be considered an activist in today’s world.

But I don’t think it is anymore.

I think it is a huge first step, and it would go a long way to healing many of the issues we see today, but it’s no longer enough.

So the question now becomes, what else can I do?  Give money?  Volunteer?  Or is it that if I am not on the ‘front line’ that I am not doing anything of value to the cause of stopping this polarization that we find ourselves in?  It’s a very tough question, and at this time I still don’t know how to answer it fully.  But perhaps the answer is different for each one of us.  Perhaps what I am doing is enough for me, and what someone who attends the protests is doing enough for them.  Perhaps those who cast spells or actively pray to make the world a better place is doing the best they can as well.

I know that if I see an issue, if I see someone who is bullying someone of a different religion or race I’m going to say something about it, and try to deescalate the situation if I can.  I know that if I hear something that is derogatory, I’m also going to speak up (and already have done that in my workplace more than once).  But perhaps that is all I am meant to do – to find the beliefs that settle my soul the best and to live by them.

It’s at least a good start.

I know that I still have to do some thinking on this topic.  The thought of being more active still stirs my soul for some reason.  Perhaps it is enough to have conversation about it, perhaps not.  but if I come up with any other ideas, I’ll write about them here.  And as always, thoughts are welcome.

Photo from Deviant Art