Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dream analysis 101

I attended a dream analysis workshop with my mom and her boss last night. The lady who holds these seminars is amazing and lovely. I've been analyzing my own dreams for years as a hobby, and I realized after attending this workshop that I really have a lot to learn. She has an office across town from my house, and I'm looking forward to attending more of her workshops and seminars.

I've been somewhat lax about recording my own dreams lately; in truth, I've rather ignored them. I'm approaching the seven year 'anniversary' of Colin's death and it's hard this year. He died just after our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I'm about to celebrate my two year wedding anniversary with Jeff. That sounds way more complicated than it really is.

I feel stupid having anxiety over this - I know Jeff isn't going to do the same thing. It's such a non-possibility that it doesn't even seem worth mentioning, but that isn't changing the fact that I'm filled with dread. I feel as though I'll be fine once our 2nd anniversary passes. In the meantime, I feel weighted down by the looming notion that everything I love will be destroyed again.

The closer Colin's death-day gets, the worse my dreams get; they're vividly graphic and it's the same series I started having just after he died. Colin, ruined from the gun-shot, running away from me. Beckoning me to follow him, then losing himself in the crowd; always checking to be sure I'm following after him, but staying just out of my range. He keeps his wounded side away from me, so I can't see it properly but I know what it looks like. It's like the monster I saw as a child - it wasn't there if I looked straight at it but I could see it out of the corner of my eye, taking shape and overwhelming me. That's how I see his wound - barely out of the corner of my eye, which is worse. I feel like if I could see it clearly, I could scream out my horror and be done with it, but my cries are locked in stasis.

The other dream is me and my friends in a circle - the original group of guy-friends I had back then: me, Colin, Jeff, Ross, Mark, and Rudy. We're sitting in a circle passing a joint among us. Colin takes the joint, takes a hit and passes it on. Then he shoots himself. Jeff hits the joint, passes it on, then he shoots himself. I realize then they all have guns in their hands. And they are systematically hitting this joint, passing it on, then shooting themselves in my circle. I'm the last one left. I have the joint, but no gun. And all my friends are dead in a circle around me and there's no one there to help me.

I wake up from these dreams screaming and sick to my stomach, feeling as though I'll throw up. Every year around the date of his death I feel like this - I have more dreams about him, I have anxiety and mild panic, I experience depression. Since I know why it's happening I can just ride it out but it seems more pronounced each year.

Last nights' dream workshop with Gabi re-motivated me to focus on my dreams again, and I'm hoping that if I spend some energy analyzing them and maybe gaining some insight (besides the obvious) about what I can do to alleviate this awful feeling I have, it won't be as bad.

In everything else that's going on, I'd almost forgotten that today would have been our nine year wedding anniversary. I don't know why I still think of our wedding anniversary after all this time, but I think it will always be with me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Planned Parenthood Funding


I ran across this post from BitchPHD today and wanted to re-post it.

If you care at all about providing low-cost or free birth-control to those who can't afford it, call.

If you care at all about allowing women to make informed, healthy choices regarding their reproductive rights, call.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cultivating rosemary


I've got some rosemary that I purchased for a meal that is about to go bad. I've dropped a sprig in a clay pot filled with water, but I'm not sure how it will do.

Three people I know have had very good luck growing rosemary in water, but I have been unsuccessful in doing so. I'm not sure if it's the lighting, or timing, or perhaps I have a black rosemary thumb. I've read several different websites that offer advice about growing rosemary and so far none of them suggest growing them in jars of water.

My yard gets about 6 hours of sunlight a day now and temperatures are very warm. I'm hoping this time I'll be lucky.

I dried some of the rosemary sprigs and put it in baby oil, to try to make some rosemary oil. I have got to stop using baby oil as a base. That's the stinkiest stuff ever.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Moving


My husband and I have decided to move to a new state. We live just on the border between Oregon and Washington. We're moving to Beaverton, Oregon to be closer to my job (which is now 30 miles away through some really awful traffic).

Luckily, I have a partner willing to make this change with me. My step-daughter is now 18 years old, and she's graduated high school. She's not a child any longer, so leaving now wouldn't feel like abandonment on our part. She's known for quite a while that we've been planning a move to Phoenix in the future, so I like to think she won't feel abandoned when we move to Beaverton.

I'm really looking forward to this change. I've been frustrated with my commute and my job and my life for a long time now; only lately has it really started becoming overwhelming.

I've been looking through housing guides, getting a feel for what type of housing we're looking at, prices of the area, and so on. It looks as though we'll be in an apartment for a short time, but we eventually want to buy a home in the area. I'm having a lot of fun looking at images of the houses currently on the market. Even though we won't be purchasing a home for several years, it's a lot of fun looking at pictures of rooms and thinking about what sort of curtains I'd hang, how I'd arrange my furniture, what colour rug I would put down ...

I never imagined myself as so domesticated and homey as to enjoy spending hours searching the internet for interior photographs of houses. Oddly enough, coming to the realization that I am so domesticated doesn't bother me either.

There was a time, not very long ago, when the thought of being one of those docile wives in an apron and a big, big smile would have me gulping beer down and watching football just to prove I wasn't all girly ...

Death as a catalyst for change


The thirteenth card of the major arcana of the Tarot signifies change, rebirth, renewal, transformation. In its reversed form, it means literal death and can signify a loss, destruction, or failure. Regardless of its positive or negative influence in your reading or on your life, this card means an end of things as you know them; an inevitable and unavoidable change in your life.

I've experienced life-changing death; my husband of two years committed suicide in our bedroom. Most people's automatic reaction to hearing this is negative. Death, especially that resulting from a suicide, has very negative connotations. But the event itself is neither negative nor positive. It's our personal reaction to the events which are negative or positive.

Death can be a great catalyst for change if one chooses to use it as such. My husband's death nearly drove me crazy. I dreamed of him nightly, and always he was ruined and bloody and running from me. During waking hours I could think of nothing else but the vision of him holding the gun to his head. The images and thoughts that plagued me would not fade; I have them seven years later.

It is only in the conscious choice of using his death as a catalyst for change that I feel less a slave to those images. I've chosen to view his death not only as the end of his life, but as the beginning of a new path for my own life. Every choice I make is affected by that suicide; every decision is run against the filter of that death. Truly, my entire being was changed in the minutes and days and months after Colin pulled the trigger that ended his life.

I have striven to find opportunities that were not available for me before. One thing that I do much more freely now than when he was alive is express my faith. I no longer feel it necessary to put my religion on a shelf out of sight. When we were first married I was perfectly willing to forgo practicing my religion because of his squeamishness about it. Now, I would never allow a man to influence my faith in that manner. After Colin's death I felt I needed my faith more than ever. What a way to exercise my new freedom. How ironic is that?

All the things that I either couldn't do, or things I subconsciously held myself back from doing, I did after he died. I grasped the opportunity to do things my own way, since I didn't have him there to help me make decisions. Every new choice I made, every new decision made alone, were constant reminders of what I no longer had. I felt a profound sense of emptiness and loneliness; at the same time, I felt as though I was taking the lead in my own life. I was making decisions, and changes, and following through on commitments, all on my own. I didn't simply exist as a widowed woman, but embraced my chance to remain alive and live my life according to what I wanted and did not want.

I've always felt that the religion of my child-hood left many important questions unanswered. What happens after we die? Our souls go to heaven to be with God. Why does God need our souls? It's not up to us to question or understand the motivation of God. Why not? Because we are not capable of understanding God. His mind is too vast, his being too complex. This is not acceptable for me, and it never has been. Following a pagan path offers me no more answers than previous paths. The difference for me is that I'm far more comfortable with the questions I have.

Death is a subject that is dealt with so strangely in the West. I don't feel that we're encouraged to explore our feelings towards death and dying; we're taught to shun death, to avoid speaking about it. We don't embrace death and we certainly don't talk about it. We teach our children that all things die but we don't encourage them to express their feelings about dead things. Adults often prevent children from attending funerals of departed loved ones out of an effort to protect them from that death. We live our lives entirely in an unconscious effort to avoid death, far beyond the point when it is practical to do so.

Often in American society we simply see death as another opponent. We feel only our own loss and sadness and don't fully recognize death for what it is: a part of the wheel of life and possibly a powerful catalyst for change.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cleaning out the negativity


I'm a lazy girl. I'd rather be doing many things other than cleaning. I am a part-time student; I play an on-line RPG; I am an avid reader; I study religion; I'm addicted to browsing the internet (thank you, Stumble Upon). All of these things are significantly more fun that cleaning house. I have three cats, one husband, and one teenager; my house gets messy. Admittedly, the teenager lives with her mother and only visits every other weekend - moreover, she's by far the least-messy of all of us. Still, the three-cats-and-a-husband more than make up for her tidiness.

For the nineteen years-and-ten-months I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, I've felt much animosity for the region. I don't see the beauty of the trees (so green) or the mountains (so white) or the free-from-smog sky (so grey). I see the overcast, dull, dreary, sopping wet environment that only a true Californian will see. I think I'm afflicted with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and because of the perpetually grey-and-rainy weather here, I experience "winter blues" for about ten months out of the year.

Lately, I've felt a very strong desire to clean. I think all the negativity that I've been feeling towards my immediate environment has finally brought me to my breaking point, and I want to clean out the physical, and meta-physical, negativity.

I start with one room at a time and a list. By listing what I want to accomplish, I can easily break down the task of cleaning into small, manageable pieces. By approaching the task of cleaning in this manner, I feel less overwhelmed than if I thought of cleaning the whole house all at once. Once each room is cleaned to my satisfaction, I start at the beginning and perform a smudging ritual; armed with my sage bundle I traverse each room and banish the negativity. I "sweep" the corners of dust, and of gloomy thoughts and darkness. With a clean room, lit candles, and a purifying scent in the air, I feel free to sit in my positively charged space and read my favourite novel.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recycling as a way of life


Of course I recycle, I'm from California! Paper, glass, metal ... the standard three. I recycled out of habit, not giving much thought to the process. As a modern pagan, I read everything I can get my hands on about being a modern pagan. Thanks to Llewellyn's yearly Wicca almanacs, I have the benefit of modern wisdom of new-age thinkers. Say what you will about Llewellyn publications (and believe me, I've heard it all), but I appreciate the opportunity to learn how other modern pagans live their lives. I get to hear opinions and get craft-trade information from people around the country that I never would have had the pleasure of speaking with in person. For that alone, I will continue to purchase Llewellyn's almanacs.

Something that modern pagans have in spades is advice about how to stay connected in today's society, and something that plays a very big role in many lives is the DIY-craze that's been sweeping the nation for the past 30+ years, which involves recycling and re-using. I've got the recycling down to a degree; re-using is rapidly becoming a way of life for me.

As I mentioned, I don't have a proper garden. But I do have potted plants and I'm trying my hand at growing tomatoes. In my research, I read about using coffee grounds and egg shells mixed in with the soil. Of course, I knew of this but being that I don't garden regularly, it hadn't occurred to me to utilize these household waste items when I began planting. My tomatoes are doing wonderfully, and with a healthy mixture of both coffee grounds and egg shells. I save glass jars and store the grounds within so that I'll always have a supply when I want to pot a plant.

Re-using newspaper as gift wrap has long been a practice in my family. The stock market pages are just as interesting as the comics when there's a gift inside. I re-use tissue and gift bags each year; my family always remembers this and takes special care not to throw these items away or tear into their gifts as bulls in china shoppes.

I re-use jars and bottles to store my oils and dried herbs. I often purchase items that comes in jars and bottles with a thought toward what I can use the jar for after it's empty. The jars that my vitamins come in are dark amber, and perfect for storing items that must be protected against UV rays. This saves me from having to purchase special jars later, and saves me from contributing that waste (even if it can be recycled).

Considering that there are only two of us in the house regularly, fresh herbs have often gone to waste in the past. I've begun planning meals with the herbs in mind that I'd like to use later in my practice; now, I use whatever portions appropriate for our meals and use the rest in ritual work before it spoils.

Not only do I feel better about my newly developed practice of re-using household items, it's much easier on my budget.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sharing the pagan experience


My husband is not pagan. He's wonderfully open-minded and generous towards my practice. He finds certain aspects interesting, and he's always willing to listen to me describe an experience or to participate in a discussion about my religion. I don't know quite what he believes, as he doesn't share my overwhelming compunction to natter on about it, but I know that he's likely the most open-minded non-pagan I know.

Though he's not pagan, I have found a way that I can share some small aspect of my faith with him. He's working on his communication skills lately, and has asked for my help. Armed with my faithful almanac, I've charted each day's colour correspondence, moon sign, lunar phase, and magical influence and what it all can mean for him. With his goal in mind, I've helped him develop a method for analyzing his own thoughts and behaviours so that he can gain more control over his emotional and verbal responses to external stimuli, using magical and mystical correspondences.

I find it rewarding that I can draw on my own practice to help him, even though he doesn't share the same faith. I feel proud to be married to someone who can accept guidance from a path he does not walk. I feel honoured to have as my partner a man who can acknowledge the value in something he does not personally believe in.

The [re]beginnings of meditation


It has been over-long since my last meditation. I take a few minutes when I am terribly stressed out or in extreme amounts of physical pain to do a few deep-breathing exercises, but real meditation has been scarce for me in the past year or so.

The setting: my newly cleaned kitchen. Sitting comfortably at my kitchen table in my ugliest and most comfortable brown pants, I have before me a small green bowl. It is filled with two pine cones, two leaves from a local tree, and a small sprig of pine needles. I've got a brown candle lit (a handmade gift from my mother) and the room is dim and cool. My husband has the three cats at the back of the house, and I am -for all intents- all by myself.

The goal: to get back in tune with my body; to realign that which is un-centered and off-balance within me. This meditation, the first in a long time, is marked by many distractions: my nasal passages are dry; I'm thirsty; my lips are chapped; I have to pee; my bangs are tickling my forehead; my knees hurt. Oy vey. I've just picked up the latest Shambhala Sun and read of a technique which involves allowing the mind to wander and gently recognizing that which is distracting with a word while guiding the mind back to one's breathing. I tried this, and it proved very difficult for me. I've been using meditation as a regular part of my practice for years; I have many techniques I've used and I've advised others about successful meditation, but the past year is the longest I've gone without really making time for regular meditations. I feel as though I'm starting all over, and it's somewhat discouraging. Tomorrow I'll pee, apply lip balm, take a sip of water, and trim my bangs before I start.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On being a modern pagan


I've been practicing some form of paganism or another since I was 15 years old. My 'practice' has seen many incarnations over the years, including some very dull spots. Only in the past seven years or so have I really felt connected to my spirituality; my former husband, now deceased, was made uncomfortable by Wicca when I first became open about my religion. He had been experiencing a crisis of faith his whole life, and wasn't comfortable with the idea of my completely renouncing Christ and Christianity. He had no faith of his own, and felt Christianity was nothing more than small-minded indoctrination, but when I offered him something different he was terrified. Because renouncing Christ was the one thing a person could do to get relegated to the fiery pit of hell. This didn't make sense to me, and (in my wee opinion) was simply evidence of his having been indoctrinated.

Colin's big concern was that he desperately wanted to believe but didn't. He felt his non-belief was damning and forever confined him to a place of discordant existence, out of touch with the "truth" of religion, and out of hope for relating to the rest of humanity. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get him to understand that he need not fear a place that he didn't fundamentally believe in.

While he wasn't rude enough to forbid me from practicing Wicca, he was not at all comfortable with it. Out of deference to him, I wasn't very open about my faith. Lack of nurturing that faith resulted in my practice falling off. After he died, I turned back to Wicca with a renewed sense of my own spirituality and a desperate desire to have some peace after his death.

Today, after seven years of continued practice, I face all the difficulties that a modern-day pagan faces. I cannot celebrate a solstice from sun-down to sun-up; I haven't the time to make wreaths at Yule; I cannot spend three days in a cemetery honouring my loved ones during the Days of the Dead (and truly, my departed loved ones do not reside in the ground); I don't have a community with which to share the fruits of my garden - indeed, I don't have a garden. You see, the rental community in which I live prohibits us from planting anything except in the 2-foot bed of bark dust around the perimeter of our homes. Nothing I'm interested in planting grows in bark-dust; I've tried.

So, what can I do? For starters, I'll use this blog as my own sacred space where I can chart my pagan journey, accept suggestions from the web community, and perhaps learn a thing or two about life in general.

Wish me luck.

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