Everyday life

I have a confession to make: I always shrugged off the concept of ‘being in the moment’. What does that mean, anyway? You have to plan ahead and dream and make things better, right? How can you do that if you are sitting in your own presence.

Here is one of the lessons I have learned lately: being in the now takes discipline and is probably the most  active way to live your life. I always pictured people who abide by this concept as being passive and just going where the wind takes them. But as I take time to understand myself and reconnect, I see ‘Now’ as a living entity.

Living in the ‘Now’ means that you have to do what is in front of you. You have to look at life honestly and see what needs to be done right now. And that calls for choices at every instant. For example, the most important thing right now for me, is to make sure that my family is safe and that they have all they need to grow. What that means concretely, is that for me to be able to do that, I have to be rested and have all the energy at my disposal. So I have decided to go to sleep early, sometimes at the same time as the kids if that’s what I need. That’s what needs to be done Now. It is my sacred duty. I choose to put other things aside because that is what ‘Now’ requires of me. So ‘living life in the moment’ calls us to make choices, to live actively and to not get lost in a hypothetical future.

Going back to being a ‘student’ has been a great exercise in humility. Why humility? Well, having written a book and having people consult with me and blogging etc… There is always the presumption that that is a great thing that I have to continue doing. What author does not want to keep publishing? I certainly do. I love writing more than anything else I have done in my work. But I had to also acknowledge the ego part of that and the fact that this moment was for reconnecting myself and reading the signs of what this moment is telling me. ‘Now’ requires something else of me and that there is no greater honor than to honor that commitment.
I am sure that you all have things that you feel you should do. The truth is that right now, there is only one thing you must do. You know what it is.

As mentioned previously, I am in a Student Cycle. I am taking this time to recenter on me and what I want to learn, where I want to go and so forth.

My starting point is peace and stillness, and although that sounds pretty straight forward, it takes so much discipline to just sit yourself down and breathe. I am not even talking about meditation. I am just sitting myself down and aligning back my energy within my physical body. Those of you who are sensitive to your own energy, you will notice that your energy body is often slightly peripheral to your physical body (Well, mine is, anyway) My energy center is always slightly in front and to the right of my physical. So I am making a point right now, as much as I can, to sit a few minutes to bring the two together. You wouldn’t believe how relaxing it is to ‘come back home’.

So, I am centering back on me. In this day and age, this sounds selfish. But I am the greatest instrument God/dess has given me. It needs to be in good working order.

In the process, I have learned a valuable lesson:

If you are happy, everyone is happy.

Think about it….

Fragaria × ananassa 'Chandler,' a short-day co...

Fragaria × ananassa ‘Chandler,’ a short-day commercial cultivar grown in California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who knows what makes a perfect day… Often times days start like any other and somehow everything falls into place to bring you peace and happiness.

We honored one of our family traditions today: We decreed a ‘Do whatever you want day.’ Once decreed, everyone in the family is free to do whatever they want. That means that the kids can watch TV all day if they want to and I close my eyes (and guilty feelings) to that. My husband usually migrates to the basement to work on his music. And usually, that means that I set out to do some of the following things: drawing, reading, writing or, joy of joys, taking a nap!

Well, that’s what I had in mind as the day began. I took out my stuff to work on some of my artwork. Somehow, it didn’t seem to jive today. I put it aside. I took out my laptop and tried to catch up on some emails. Then I thought, why don’t I do something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. I started to look for farms that deliver organic local produce. I signed up for a weekly basket. Food is the essence of health and family. I felt like I was something good for myself and for the whole world.

I suddenly felt inspired. I managed to tear the kids away from the TV to come and tear off some leaves off corn. We made muffins for the school snacks for the week. It felt so good doing that. Why should I buy a box of granola bars when we can have a fun time making muffins together, which take a few minutes to prepare, are healthier and cheaper to boot. As I looked in the fridge, I noticed a pint of local strawberries that I bought last week from the farmer’s market and that had been forgotten. All this as my husband casually says: ‘We are out of jam.’ A pint of old strawberries, a box of pectin and some sugar and voilà! I have two jars of strawberry jam on the counter. I was on fire! I look through the pantry and I see some much food that is just sitting there: peas, lentils, prunes, almond slivers, two bags of oatmeal (why do we have 2 bags of oatmeal?)…. I grab a bit of this, a bit of that… well, the short of it is that I have some granola roasting in the oven.

This day started out as something totally different. Somehow, the cool crisp air and the falling leaves spoke to me of cooking and preserving and turning inwards once more. September always brings me a burst of energy. There is so much to do! The fields yield their fruits and the animals prepare for the winter. So much to do! It was really fun to go back to basics, to look at what I have and create a family home from it. That’s what food is. It is family and it is life. And it was so much fun!

Now, if you’ll excuse me: I have to take my granola out of the oven.

So, we left on the 22nd of June to visit my husband’s family in Poland. I had just finished work a few hours before, picked up my son from his last day at school, zipped the suitcases and we were off! No time to think about what I hadn’t done or what I hadn’t packed. We took to the air and left everything behind.
We spent three weeks sitting in a little village, living to rhythm of somewhere else. We really went back to basics. There was a romantic charm to the daily routine: warming up water to wash ourselves and do dishes, doing the laundry early so it would have time to dry in the yard, having our tea together, washing and scraping the earth caked potatoes straight from the fields for lunch. After lunch, we would go to the river to swim. In the evening, we would play cards while nibbling on sandwiches and drinking beer. The routine, which essentially rotated around our basic needs: keeping clean and fed, was surprisingly soothing. Why is it that back home these things are such chores? Obviously, when you work all day, this becomes just ‘extra work’. Keeping house is a full-time job. I believe in the kind of feminism that strives for the recognition of what was typically seen as female.  I think that if those tasks were valued, we would find a way to make sure that a family can survive on one salary, since one of the parents (and I am not saying necessarily the woman) has full-time work taking care of the family’s basic needs.
It also dawned on me that there was something comforting in knowing exactly what you were supposed to do. Dishes had to be done, laundry had to be hung and food had to be prepared. There was no questions as to what to do. There were no decisions to make. Having leisure time is a relatively new occurrence. Our grandparents spent essentially all their time providing for their subsistence, whether by baking bread, making cheese, candles, butter, sewing clothes… Since the fifties, we have more time and we have to constantly decide what to do with that time. The options are endless and the responsibilities as well. We have to make decisions on educational activities for the kids, shop for life insurance, make eco-conscious choices, do yoga, be aware of world politics…. It is a never-ending stream of decisions that we have to make the minute we have a second to spare. It was nice for things to be simple and clear: bathing, laundry, food, rest…. We should try not to forget that life isn’t as complicated as we make. Of course, it is always easier to do that when you are on vacation!

My son started school today. OK, just Pre-K, but still it means a whole lot of changes for everyone. And change doesn’t always sit well with him. But that being said, I am happy to report that he had a spectacular day. His exhausted looking teacher told us he was the only one who didn’t cry. And he came out of the school yard saying ‘School is fun.’ That’s all you want to hear from a four year old.

I took the day off today to accompany him on his big day. After he had pretty much told us to go away, my husband and I had some quiet time to have breakfast together, shop for some new threads and debrief about this big day. When I came home, I prepared supper and cleaned up to give us a fresh start. As I was wiping the living room coffee table, I had a vision of what our house had looked like just a year ago. Last labor day weekend, we notarized the house, painted, moved in. I had (I kid you not) 200 boxes in my living room. In the weeks that followed, the kids started new daycares, my husband started university, I started a new job, lost that job and looked for a new one. I was trying to get the Christian Pagan Fellowship going, while trying to blog and write and answer emails from readers, because that is what I love to do and I couldn’t put it aside. I knew then that it was madness, but while you are in it, you just keep going and think it’s just the way it is. I look at the house now, with the new living room set, the pictures put up, the kids’ stuff everywhere. We weathered the storm and it feels good. I took a stick of incense to my altar and raised it to my icon of Our Lord and His Mother. Because I know I didn’t do it alone.

As we were all peacefully sitting around the supper table, I looked up and saw a haze hovering over an empty chair. I smiled briefly. Another confirmation that there is indeed something watching over us.

We had a beautiful time up north. The children were so excited to go on this great trek that we did not hear a peep out of them for the 2 day drive there. We took a break from the scorching Montreal heat and took in the fresh air. We took rides by the Great River, went to the beach and roasted marshmallows in the back yard. My dear husband baked us bread every day. It was plain goodness.

For the first time, I saw my son go out to talk to the other kids at the park. There must be something in him that says that these are his people. We met some of our old friends, spent evenings playing board games, catching up, sharing dreams like in the old days. We also met new people, people with incredible stories and unusual life paths. Every so often, the door would open and someone would just drop in to say hi. At work, it was a continuity of hugs and happiness at seeing old colleagues. It was a good time.
Going back also reminded me that I cannot be in two places at once. After two weeks, my daughter asked for her princess bike and for her friends from daycare. I looked at her and I realized that I had to build a home for my children. Being up north, I realized that I had to pour my heart into our new place, strengthen it, pour in the warmth and love that turns a house into a home. I realized that I treated our new house as a transition place. So many years as a traveling gyspsy does that. Where you live doesn’t really matter. But I saw our old house up north and I felt a twinge, something I have never felt about a home before. My son kept asking for the keys and about when we could go home. I knew exactly what he meant. I have to give the kids that same place here. I have to set down roots like a great, majestic Oak. This is not to say that I have said goodbye to the north. God willing, I will be going back for many years to come. But it is now the place I travel to. And here is the place I come home to.

It’s been a crazy weekend. Whereas last weekend was a dream come true, this weekend my son lost all composure. The culmination of the weekend was having to drag my screaming son across the park to get him to take a shower before going into the pool because the lifeguard said so. Not hot.

Of course, this sends me into a mind loop of what I did to mess things up and how I should make things better and a whole lot of anger at a system that doesn’t tolerate a child to stare out the window for 5 consecutive minutes. How do those other parents muster the authority to get their children to do what they want (well, at least in public….)? Well, I have said all this before. Recurrent theme in my life.

Today was better, even though my mind did race all day with a bunch of unwanted thoughts about what will happen in the future and why is this happening. As I put the children to bed, my son starts screaming. He tells me there is a monster. I proceeded to expel the said monster, but it wasn’t clear whether he wanted the monster stay or go. I asked him, ‘Can we call angels instead?’ His face softened and he said, ‘Yes, angels.’ So I called Raphael to bring us health and strength, Gabriel to bring us wisdom and inspiration, Michael to bring us courage and a thirst for justice and Uriel to bring us love and compassion. I then said the prayer to our guardian angels. And my son fell asleep.

From the next bed, my daughter calls me to hug her to sleep. As I lie down next to her, she looks at me and says ‘Prière’. Prayer. I start saying the familiar words of Our Father (which she almost knows by heart already) and a sudden wave of emotion took over me. I looked at her steady breathing. She is only two years old and already she has this sacred place that she can go to for comfort, the sacred place of a few rhythmic words that I weave around her. She then looked at me with her peachy smile and said, ‘Marie’. I continued my weaving with a string of Hail Mary’s, the rhythm of which lulled her to sleep. As I was saying these words of power, the gifts from our tradition, I felt four pillars take hold of each corner of my house. I realized then, with deep emotion, that it did not matter how I raised them. It didn’t matter what I said and how I got them to behave or if Super Nanny would be proud of me. More important than this, is that they grow up surrounded by the Great Source, in its all its faces and symbols and songs. I don’t even need to tell them about it. It is their gift of vision that will let them see the sacred in their own special way. Four pillars of strength for a sacred place. And me, the Mother, Priestess and Keeper of this place, weaving magic and peace and fortitude for all to behold. This I can handle.

Not to say that I may not lose my mind tomorrow. But for tonight, I give thanks to my Lord and Lady for the vision of my most cherished dream: a fortress, a sanctuary, a home.

You may have noticed that I have been less present on the blog, limiting myself to one weekly exercise and then sometimes not even that. I’ve been missing it terribly, but it’s all that has been allowed to me. I’m trying to live up to a code of honesty and that means that I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I was discussing this with my friend and fellow author Arin Murphy-Hiscock who understood the pressure that comes from writing. That pressure is self-imposed mostly in so far as I expect myself to live according to the highest possible ideals, because I write about the highest possible ideals: a spiritual life that uplifts everything we are.

The truth is that you and I are not different at all. I work a full-time job and struggle to do the best by my two kids, trying to live an honorable life and to share my love of Spirit with as many people as I can reach.

The truth is that I have had a horrifying past two weeks. I’ve been vague about the difficulties we were having at home, but why hide them? If we were honest about our hardships, maybe we would all have more compassion and we would all suffer much less. So, the last couple weeks have been excruciatingly painful. Some of you may have picked up that I am having some difficulties with my son, the love of my life. Well, the whole truth is that he doesn’t speak much yet and that he’s been pulling tantrums from hell pretty much non-stop for weeks now. He does nothing we say and just screams and hits and screams some more. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. All kids throw tantrums, right? And a lot of four-year-old’s have a problem with parental authority, right? And I have heard countless stories of late-talkers. It’s all true. But adding all these features together doesn’t look good. I have the medical people telling me they suspect an autism spectrum disorder. And my mother’s instincts telling me it’s not that. My husband and I trying to keep the boat afloat. Then someone mentioning Doreen Virtue’s crystal children. Could it be? And then another tantrum to throw all my hopes to the wind…. So many different opinions, so many thoughts spinning in my head, so many fears taking hold of my heart. In the mean time, I have broken down at work every single day for the past two weeks. Everything was so rocky. And to add a symbol to the mix, I lost a diamond earring that my husband had just given me for our 10 year anniversary. I was outside when I realized it was missing. Chances of finding it were slim. Another symbol that it was all going downhill…

But the worst part in all this, the absolute most terrifying thing was that I lost hope. Hope has always been my weapon. It got me through everything. I looked at my husband on Friday night and I could see in his eyes that he had lost it too. I felt dead inside. Empty and dead.

My parents kept the kids Friday night in hopes that we would resurrect somehow. One good night’s sleep helped and time together as well. I also was asked to go help out at the graduation ceremony at Crescent Moon School and for the Imbolc ritual, so I was looking forward to recharging in Brigit’s company. All we needed was a tiny spark of hope. I wasn’t asking for the full flame. Just a spark. Well, a spark comes from hitting two rocks together, so my husband and I set ourselves in motion. We re-arranged the kids’ room and moved furniture around, put up nice pictures  and set up their dreamcatchers. We felt good that we were doing something, not so powerless. As I was about to step out to go to the ritual, I stepped on something metallic. The back of my earring! My husband looked down and at his feet lay a tiny diamond stud. We looked at each other and felt a great blessing wash over us. What were the chances of us finding it a week later when it could have fallen anywhere?! Right there and right at that moment.

The point is that you always have to keep hoping. No matter what. No matter how hard it gets. Because you can lose a tiny crystal in the ocean of the world and it could still wash up at your feet.

I don’t know how things will proceed with my baby. I give you all a mission to remind me of what I just wrote, because I may need the reminder! In the mean time, please keep us in your prayers!

Love and light to you all!

I’d like to share a little story that happened last week.

Let’s just say that it’s been a tough week. On Thursday, my beloved son threw the tantrum of the century. I know, kids throw tantrums… But these are tantrums that make us question whether there is something very wrong with our baby boy. And it scares me to death.

A tantrum over a missing mitten. That’s all it was. But it took us a good hour to get over it. I was exhausted and emotionally worn thin. The universe had given me the small blessing of rain that day to hide the tears that I just couldn’t hold back anymore.

As I was standing at the bus stop, I felt someone get strangely close to me. I turned around to see a lovely black woman approaching me with an umbrella. “Would you like some shelter?” she said. I smiled at the wording. It meant so many things right there and then. I thanked her profusely for her kindness and said: “The truth is I have an umbrella in my bag.” I never use an umbrella. What’s a little rain but another way for God to touch us? She warned me about catching a cold and stepped back. I thanked her again and waited for the bus.

I replayed our brief conversation in my mind. Why am I ‘standing in the rain’ when I have what it takes to get out of it? I realized that I have all the tools necessary to get out of my situation. I just need to use my resources and keep going. Then it dawned on me: it was a black woman. Whenever I have been in real need, a dark skinned figure (whether real or in a dream) comes to me and gives me comfort, completely out of the blue.  Many years ago, my angel was revealed to me in my dreams. In my dreams, my angel has a dark bronze complexion. Here I was offered shelter by a black woman. Dark skinned like my guardian angel. An angel in the rain.

Angels are everywhere and they interact with us in ways that are familiar to us. I don’t know how others perceive them, but to me they have very distinct characteristics that alert me to their presence. The skin complexion is definitely the most obvious. There is also that vibration, like supersonic music, just beyond our hearing threshold. It’s hard to describe. Those who have read my book know that angels were my first access to the other realm. They were my first contact. They come in and out of my life bringing me messages and lessons.

I am better now and so is the rest of the family. The lesson is that you have to take shelter sometimes when it is offered and seek the help you need. Sometimes, you should take the easiest road because it is the simplest and most energy efficient way and because even warriors need to rest. So when my parents offered to keep the kids overnight to give us a chance to rest, I surrendered. When we picked them up, we were all refreshed. The kids needed a break from us too, I guess. Angels come in many guises, the most obvious is as grandparents!

May you walk with an angel of peace by your side!

OK. I challenge any Zen monk, priest, hermit or yogi to look after two whiny kids and keep their harmony and inner peace!

Jokes aside, I love my kids to death. I just can’t wait for my love, my boy, to start speaking. He is three months away from his fourth birthday and he barely speaks yet. It has been the central concern in my life for most of this year. I’m just praying that everything else is OK with him and that I am worrying for nothing. He is bright and loving, is a musical genius as far as I’m concerned and is great at every single sport he has tried. Communication is just not his thing and I don’t know how to break through to him. Whining for whining is one thing. Whining and screaming as a means of communication is a totally different story and it drives me bananas! It just underlines how hard it is for him to communicate and hits me right where it counts. I’d appreciate a little prayer if you can spare a moment. Of course, my sweet little girl imitates everything her brother does, so I get two screamers for the price of one. Plus, she figured that you don’t really need to be two to get into her assertive phase. So, it’s been that kind of weekend!

I haven’t posted anything this week. I’ve consecrated most of my spare time brainstorming the new book. It feels so good to be back in study mode! I’ve been browsing my experiences once more for lessons that may be helpful to others and have picked up books that I’ve been longing to read for a long time. It’s been nice.

I’ve also started a new job. The clinic I was supposed to work at closed my position after a week of me being there. It was unsettling to say the least, but it gave me time to really settle in. You have to see the opportunities life gives you, even when it seems rotten at first. Well, a few days after getting laid off, I got an email from a friend (who didn’t know I was out of work) saying that there was a new long-term care facility looking for an occupational therapist. This facility is 10 minutes from my house! So, I decided to give it a try. Long-term care is not my specialty at all. But the way this opportunity came my way, I figured that the universe has a very important lesson for me there. Maybe it’s time for me to look into the crone aspect. I’m sure I will learn a lot about compassion and spirit working with the elderly.

Lastly, we had a a great Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Autumn is giving us beautifully crisp weather and the leaves are a symphony of colors. There is a lot to be grateful for.

Blessed Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!

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