Sunday morning solace

Later, I will do my review of the June 2020 Ipsy Glam bag. Probably today. No promises.

(But if you’re really into cosmetics and need to see an unboxing— here’s the YouTube video: June 2020 Glam Bag unboxing)

Because it’s Sunday. Sunday should be about family, pets, lovers or your religion. Wherever you find your peace and your wholeness.

With life bringing most people new challenges in 2020, and my life was no exception even before the Coronavirus pandemic (which is another discussion) and the much-needed societal realization that we have some major institutionalized issues in this country regarding race and other types of minorities.

But fear, and hope, and pluck, are all great equalizers. When emotions rise, it can lead to change and fight and passion.

I let the parakeets free fly this morning, which means Nala, my cockatoo, wanted yo stay with them and harass them and steal their food. (I think she has a chip on her shoulder that they can fly and she can’t.)

Opie, our three-legged cancer surviving cat, got out yesterday and returned for breakfast today.

I’m sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and some of the edible cookie dough my teenager daughter made yesterday. All four cats swirling around me.

It’s Flag Day, so I should raise Old Glory, but I’m too short to reach our flag post.

And I’m about to do my morning journal entry, hang the laundry on the clothesline and read some of The Fault in Our Stars. It’s the teenager’s favorite book and “the only book school couldn’t ruin.”

Why do Sundays end with stress? If Mondays bring so much anxiety, isn’t it a sign our outdated work system is killing us?

Wondering… wondering…

How can we survive better?

Friday morning musings

Once I finish this, I will be logging into work. I don’t expect it to be an easy day, but I expect it to be decent. And it’s Friday. I have a meeting tonight with… let’s just say a freelance “client” about some editing I am doing on a key project. A good project. A project that could have a positive impact on my community.

I know my posts lately have been lists and animal updates. I’ve been musing a lot about what parts of life really bring personal contentment— and how that has to mesh with corporate America’s expectation that we are the worker bees. We are judged by our productivity, which is defined not by the benefit to the greater good but as money pocketed by those fortunate enough to stand among the elite.

Coupled with these thoughts of critical theory against the capitalistic machine, I find myself musing over pleasure versus good and its contribution to wellness. Let me explain, if I can.

Yesterday, I had some work stress that I had anticipated. So I ordered a pizza to provide some feel-good endorphins to keep my focus away from the computer screen and the universe that exists there now. I had dressed for the office, thinking that would give me confidence in this stressful time.

Dressing up at the home office

It worked— but I was so cold I soon had to change.

By the end of the day, ALL of the food choices I had made had no real nutritional value.

  • Breakfast: coffee and chocolate chip muffin
  • Lunch: half a Little Caesars Pepperoni Cheeser Cheeser and Coke Zero
  • Dinner: regular size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Yuengling
Yes, I’m wearing footy pajamas in May

And now my weight is up. I’m about five pounds above my ideal weight now. But I look in the mirror and I see me. I don’t see five extra pounds.

They don’t lessen who I am.

But if I allow the cycle to continue, the pattern will negatively impact my health. So I need to chose.

Meanwhile today is warmer, but cloudy. I put on one of my favorite summer dresses and a cute cropped quasi-sweatshirt. I finished up the half and half so no more hot coffee. It’s free donut Friday at Dunkin if I leave the house. And the teenager has a fundraiser due today.

We need to clean this weekend, and the kittens gutted my one shelf in my closet (but they are so cute and give good cuddles so all is forgiven).

Maybe I have given you something to ponder. Happy Friday.

Wednesday Update With Mundane and Animal News

Good morning! So many little things have happened I will mention them here in case you are curious.

  • I have been wearing my Horus necklace so far this week— as “protection” and “healing” from stresses with a multitude of stresses at work. Today I am switching to my “keep going” amulet as my boss has added to my deadlines, moving up work I had planned to do in early June to a deadline of June 1.
  • I’m concerned about the shifting deadlines, because I have something like 40 hours of vacation time expiring at the end of June and I’ve been trying to get it approved since early March and my boss keeps saying she’s not comfortable approving it until she has more assurance my work will be done. I had asked to take the last week of April, but the pandemic shifted our work flow so I rescheduled to the end of May. I need the time off. My batteries are done.
  • But more pleasant things… Nala has been grooming my new haircut.

Nala grooming me

  • I am so sick of this cold May weather. I can’t get warm. I decided to wear my thickest winter socks and sweatpants today. I hate sweatpants but I hate cold more.
  • Fog spent last night locked on the sun porch. I was slightly sad that Fog didn’t say goodnight to me, but when only three cats turned up for breakfast I knew something was up. And— the big news— Fog is a boy. The teenager and I had questions about that cat’s anatomy for quite some time as “she” protected “her” belly and behaved with much modesty. But the teen and I both thought “she” had testicles, but couldn’t get a good look to see what was under the hood, so to speak. Last night, Fog took a bath in front of me, spread “her” legs, displayed “her” penis and washed it. No doubts now.
  • And Misty loves water. He’s absolutely mesmerized and loves to play in water.
  • I paid off my medical bills from 2019. Now I can tackle the remaining $850 I owe on my crown— the one that still isn’t right. The dentist will take a look after quarantine lifts. They quoted my husband’s insurance instead of mine and I don’t have coverage for a crown. As we have been separated for 10.5 months, I don’t have his dental insurance. But it was an emergency and they grabbed the wrong information. Luckily, they will let me pay in installments.
  • One of my work colleagues read my blog. I had sent him a link because we were discussing something and I referenced him… not sure I remember the exact details. He complimented me on my writing skills and called me clever and obviously intelligent. I’m touched that he took the time to read as much as he did and it made my day that he told me about it. He loved the reference to my daughter as “the teenager” as I do try to protect people’s privacy. So, I’m assigning him a nickname, too. He is now Mr. Accordian.

“Keep Going” Amulet

This is Me

First of all, let me put out there that I am not as confident as I appear in that photo. I’m almost 45. I have stretch marks, muffin top and I’ve never been stick thin (well, except for that summer I lost 30 pounds) but I’ve always tried to be healthy and strong.

I’ve had a baby. I’ve broken bones. I’ve struggled with anemia, cerebral palsy and on occasion anxiety. I’ve had great jobs I didn’t want to leave (ever) and bad jobs that I didn’t want to go to.

But like many of you, I keep going. I have shiny happy days, sleepy days, down days, days I just don’t want to end and days when I cry myself to sleep.

Today I chose this outfit as my warrior’s attire. I got the shirt and the necklace from The Attic in Bethlehem and let me tell you— I never would have bought this shirt if not for the state lockdown/pandemic.

I would have said, ‘hell, no, that’s way too skimpy.’

And left that shirt on the rack. But it looked so damn cute on the mannequin— which I think that mannequin has bigger boobs that me. No, wait. That shirt clearly looks tiny on the mannequin and my boobs are bigger.

Who wore it best?

But I decided to wear that shirt and I consider it a pledge of confidence to myself. NOTHING will intimidate me today. NO ONE will change how I feel about myself.

And I am adorable.

And to make it even more powerful, I wore my circle necklace also from The Attic. I have christened it my “keep going” amulet, because circles are round. They roll. They keep going. And this one is glittery and clear. Clear quartz is the stone used to purify things and recharge them.

Although it’s not quartz, it has a shine like quartz so I will use this necklace to remind me to keep going and keep my thoughts free of negative vibes.

New beginnings

Now bare with me for one more topic, I’m a little superstitious and as you can see I’m almost done with my journal. New chapters always begin at the end of my journal.

I’ve been working with Aspire for Autonomy for work, and I’ve been striking up some personal conversation with Darnell about helping with his organization. I’m impressed with his energy and hope to learn more about their goals.

Welcome Home Horus

So as I have mentioned—the teenager and I have made consignment shopping a pandemic sport. The Attic, a consignment shop in Bethlehem, has hosted live events and posted pictures of merchandise for sale on Facebook and Instagram.

See some of our precious mentions here:

Nothing Just Happens

Photography and musings on the visual arts

We have a jumper! (This post jumps around)

My teen and I love to peruse the Instagram offerings and direct message each other from various parts of the house about items we think the other will like.

I ordered a bunch of necklaces. I used to wear a necklace every day and my necklaces were always symbolic. The amber I bought to purify energy around me. The emerald that reminded me who I wanted to be. The Celtic knot pentacle pendant that reminded me of my heritage and my spirituality.

I stopped wearing necklaces because Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, thinks it’s a game to bite the chains in half. And I didn’t know what necklace fit anymore.

So I bought used jewelry.

Now the necklace on the bottom of the photo is my standard one with my pentacle, my amber and a charm my father gave me recently to remind me that he loves me.

But the others are from my Attic buying spree.

And I don’t know what made me buy Horus. I think I started with the red strands of tiny beads. Then that sparkly circle. And Horus was an impulse. (I had already paid my invoice when the Attic posted the Tiger’s Eye necklace.)

And the Tiger’s Eye I bought very intentionally for the stone’s properties as, to borrow from one random website, “A stone of protection, Tiger Eye may also bring good luck to the wearer. It has the power to focus the mind, promoting mental clarity, assisting us to resolve problems objectively and unclouded by emotions. Particularly useful for healing psychosomatic illnesses, dispelling fear and anxiety.” (Charms of Light)

I can use some focus and good luck.

But why Horus?

I saw the bird with the stone in his belly and thought he’d be homage to my flock. And I thought he looked Egyptian, so as a pagan and a former scholar of Africa, the attraction made sense.

But today as I got ready for work, I was overcome with the urge to know who my bird pendant was and the magical properties of turquoise.

So, turquoise: (from the same web site) “Turquoise is a purification stone. … Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilising mood swings and instilling inner calm. It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks. Turquoisepromotes self-realization and assists creative problem solving.

Are you noticing a theme? Albeit a coincidental one. This is what I mean about the universe sending tools and magical objects. (I posted about this concept in my witchcraft series: My previous witchcraft series)

So I googled Egyptian bird gods and found my falcon-man Horus. And this is what encyclopedia Brittanica told me:

“Horus, Egyptian Hor, Har, Her, or Heru, in ancient Egyptian religion, a god in the form of a falcon whose right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power and quintessence, and whose left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing. Falcon cults, which were in evidence from late predynastic times, were widespread in Egypt.

Perhaps my time of healing has begun.

Thank you to The Attic.

The little things (which include The Waltons)

It’s important on days when the world is fighting a pandemic or if your mood is not quite right to remember the bright spots.

  • The sun was bright. The air warm. My house windows open.
  • My daughter and I had a picnic on my bed at lunch.
  • My boss likes one of the projects I submitted today, which almost made it a good day.
  • Fog the kitten curled up in a tight little ball and slept in my lap. She looked like such a dainty baby.
  • My daughter— how I wish these days at home with her never had to end— cleaned the kitchen and made dinner AND shared a piece of her peanut butter Reese’s Easter Rabbit.
  • We watched another episode of the Waltons, a throw back to my daughter’s childhood and my own. We both envy the Norman Rockwell rural Americana depicted there. When she was a baby, I used to watch the Waltons while she nursed (with the sound on mute so she wouldn’t hear it and I put the subtitles on). As a preschooler, we would often watch an episode to settle down before bed. And the episode where Elizabeth broke her leg spurred a decade of my daughter having a fascination with broken legs. And a brief desire to be a surgeon. Her reaction to the show now is priceless— I never really thought about the fact that the Baldwin Sisters were alcoholics. That was one of her first observations.
  • Tomorrow the teenager plans to make banana bread.
  • My daughter had planned a cookie and coffee break for me today, but my work day (even a home) that my 9-plus hour stint at the computer didn’t allow it. So I hope we can try again tomorrow.
  • For those interested in the things the cat stowed in the couch series, I haven’t found much lately.

My pandemic gratitude list

Today one of the counties next to mine— the county where my dad lives, the county where a lot of my friends live—went on lockdown due to Covid-19. Governor’s orders.

It was day three for me of working from home and so far my average work day is 9 hours long. Not because I’m an undisciplined worker but because I work at a human services non-profit and the current health crisis impacts us as an agency and also intensifies the struggles of many of our clients.

So, I decided to revive a tradition my neighbor started with me when she first moved into my neighborhood. Every day we would text each other three things we were grateful for, and we did this for probably four months before the tradition died. The goal was to never repeat. And the items could be small. Like “I am grateful for dry socks.”

Today I’m going to share with you my pandemic gratitude list.

  1. I am grateful for my job. It’s stressful, and I often find myself overwhelmed but my colleagues are amazing, my agency does great work, and I know I am learning so many new things I would have never had the chance to learn otherwise.
  2. I am grateful for the reconnection happening because of the virus. Today a former colleague texted me. Yesterday a friend who moved to Florida telephoned. I hadn’t really communicated with them in probably six months, but people are trying to check in on others right now.
  3. I am grateful for medical professionals that care. I had one doctor call me today to say he was closing his face-to-face practice for a while because of the virus and he wanted to tell me himself and be sure I knew how to reach him if I needed him. That was very kind.
  4. I am grateful for these kittens. My human baby is going to be 16 in June. The kitten I got her for her birthday has just turned nine. It’s been a long time since we had any babies in the house. Their mischief makes me laugh and their cuddly baby selves are just heart warming.

5. I am grateful for cheap pizza. Like Little Caesars. And delivery chains like Dominos. As a stress food pizza and brownies and cool ranch Doritos never disappoint.

6. I am grateful to be more-or-less able-bodied. Yes, it can be difficult to deal with cerebral palsy. Yes, my S-1 joint gives me a lot of trouble and I wish I could afford all the chiropractor visits I need and a personal trainer to help motivate me to do my exercises but hey— it’s my body and we work well together most of the time.

7. I am grateful for eyeglasses. Without them, I would be lost.

8. I am grateful for electric blankets, thick comforters, pretty duvet covers, fluffy pillows and weighted blankets. Bed should be cozy.

9. I am grateful for birdsong. I never would have imagined the positive impact those parakeets would have on my bedroom. Their happy little chirps when the sun shines really brighten my day.

10. I am grateful for my family. That includes my wicked smart and super kind teenage daughter and her dad. He was altruistic enough to lend me his laptop when this pandemic began, so I could work from home without stealing our daughter’s laptop.

Feel free to comment below with your own pandemic gratitude list.

Walk on the Stirner Arts Trail

My friend Gayle invited the teenager and I to go for an appropriately socially distanced walk on Easton’s Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

The Arts Trail has added a new nature trail, some new art, a Qi Gong station, a labyrinth and a chime installation. So that was really fun.

I walked more today than I did in the last two days combined. Maybe three.

The teen

We also saw at least seven breeds of dogs so that was a delight. Frolicking puppies of every type.

But it was the best feeling when my daughter and I came upon the labyrinth and I explained the spiritual value of a labyrinth (and it turns out I managed to summarize exactly what the signs said).

It was like I got a redo on the vernal equinox.

So I brought into the labyrinth my recent stress and doubt, asking the universe to guide me.

My gift

And I repeated my mantra to the center of the labyrinth— and walked out my hands open to the receiving position ready to get answers. Or guidance.

At the altar

I feel refreshed.

For Gayle’s take on the adventure:

Fat Girl Walking on the KSAT

Just another Saturday

I woke up this morning worried about things I can’t control, and to a cat coughing up a hairball somewhere in the darkness of my room. It was 4 a.m. and to get myself back to sleep, I keep imagining a cleansing white light.

I imagined the white light getting brighter and brighter. It filled my house, came up my stairs and saturated my room. It brought me calm and helped me get to sleep.

I finally gave up on sleep around 7 a.m. but laid in bed until 7:30. I got up, fed the cats, started a load of laundry and cared for the birds.

Then I finished the first season of Hell’s Kitchen while folding clean laundry and hanging wet wash.

I had a piece of toast, put dishes away, washed the pots and pans, and scrubbed the kitchen counter (even the trivet and the toaster— have to periodically get those crumbs out of the toaster.)

And I found what could be very handy if COVID-19 ends up in my neighborhood: a bottle of Hibiclens the doctor told the teenager to use in the shower before her surgery in November.

My college professor neighbor and I had coffee on her porch, while I was clad in my African dress that I bought in Djibouti for my trip to Somalia.

I vacuumed the sun porch. Did some necessary paperwork. Gave Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, a shower. Scrubbed the tub, but not as well as I would have liked.

But I didn’t strip my bed or play with my new make up.

This evening my other neighbor took us to dinner at La Bella’s as a thank you for watching her dog.

Amazing Bread

The teenager decided to compliment our server every time she came to the table. I had chicken penne vodka. The child had seafood spaghetti vodka. The portions were ginormous and the seafood seemed good. I’m not a seafood fan.

See those bumpy calamari?

I think I’ll have enough leftovers for TWO lunches. As with the teen. And my neighbor. And then my neighbor took us to Owwowcow for ice cream. I got cinnamon bourbon.

The food was scrumptious but made me sad because I’m still having mild dental issues. My neighbor is looking at a root canal so we’re a good pair.

And now we’re home. Roomba is vacuuming my bedroom.

The teen is trying cone incense for the first time. She tried to pick natural varieties that wouldn’t burn my eyes and sinuses. She asked me what to burn, so we went for the cleansing sandalwood— vanilla sandalwood to be exact.

I used to use sandalwood soap to bathe before I practiced rituals and vanilla is a very pure, comforting flavor and scent to me.

I asked the teen, who now has her own altar with her own selected candles on it, why do you burn incense?

She answered, “because it clears my sinuses and helps me focus.”

Good girl, I thought.

The Power of Symbols

In my recent discussions of spirituality and witchcraft, a comment from one of my followers (Olivia) pointed out that it makes sense that items that are on an altar should be very personal.

That got me thinking about what makes a symbol powerful.

Items on an altar are symbols of the energies we wish to attract.

So, sure there are certain traditional masculine symbols if you wish to attract that type of energy: phallic symbols and the sun for example. Just like the bowls and the moon are traditionally female.

Those symbols are based on associations most people understand and to which they can relate.

Other symbols retain their power because people imbue them with collective thoughts. Think of the cross; it’s a powerful icon because a massive amount of people having agreed on its meaning for centuries.

For some, the cross inspires hope and love and a promise. Others might associate it with guilt and bigotry.

But most people on this planet know it.

The American flag also evokes such strong associations.

That’s why, when considering what you believe and what symbols hold power, and what that power is, the most important part of the equation is what you hold most dear in your heart.

That will carry the power.