Finding my soul

leaves

About fourteen years ago I was trying to figure out what was missing from my life. I was a full time teacher and it fulfilled me in many ways. I had a lovely home and did not want for much in material ways. My marriage was at that point pretty much over and I had become numb to the relationship. Most of my life I had been called a feminist. The current people that I was allowed to socialize with (gives you a hint about the marriage) called me a feminazi. In my younger years, I never accepted being told I could not do something because I was a woman. I had buried the strong female warrior that resided in me in order to survive in a very male supremacist social circle. Even the wives were all in agreement that women were subservient to men and they chastised me for rebelling and being as independent as I was. I became isolated and victimized. Fortunately, I got divorced. At the time, it was horrible but it was my salvation.

I look back and see that a door had opened.  I pursued alternative avenues for connection. At night on the weekends, I joined a group of divorced people in a chat room. Some of us splintered off and we met every weekend for over a year. I started taking classes at night and pursued learning about a path that resonated with me. All the people, male and female, who I was surrounding myself with were all Witches. The classes were in Wicca. I was learning about the Goddess.

Less than a year after I had moved into my new house, divorced and happy, I became very ill. I had five blood clots and one was very dangerously positioned near my heart. I have written about this before. After what was supposed to be open heart surgery, and they discovered all the clots were gone, I was placed in a room with a very sick woman. Turns out she was a Witch. At one point our hospital room was filled with several visiting Witches.

All of these events and connections were signs of the Goddess. I felt very strong back then and somehow I lost it. I have felt disconnect, frail and unsure for a long time. I needed to work through this and try different avenues of religion and practices to see where I fit. I honor all those who have influenced me and offered guidance.

My studies have brought me full circle and back to where I began.  But this time, it is not about Wicca. It is about being a Witch and what that really means. The media and other religious connotations and images are so absolutely wrong about what a Witch truly is. I did not get all of this even myself when I first was learning fourteen years ago. Finding the Goddess and being a Witch is about finding the soul of a woman. Even men have a feminine side. It is about strength and love. It is not about spells: anyone can cast a spell. It is about the Light within.  It is about connecting with the Earth Mother. It is about doing what is right. It is not about denouncing Jesus or God or bashing anyone or anything else. It is total acceptance, including self-acceptance and loving who we are. It is finding your soul.

If anyone would like to read an excellent book on this subject I highly recommend the following book. Do not be misled by the word Power, it is not what you think.

Power of the Witch. Cabot, Laurie (2013-12-18). Random House Publishing Group.

 

Sacred Space

morning 2014 We have returned from our second visit this year from The River. I want to share not only my pictures from this trip, but also a lesson I received about Sacred Space. I did not have a clue what Sacred Space meant until I was working with MarDrag in my ongoing lessons with her. She has taught me many, many things. Sacred Space to me is somewhere that I go, mentally, that is safe. It is the most safe space in the world. No harm, no danger, and no one else can be there unless I allow it. It is where I go to do a lot of the work I am doing on myself and where I go to pray and also send gratitude. It is mental and so it goes with me where ever I go.

long shot   However, there are places that can be sacred space that are physical and nature offers many opportunities for us to find them. The River is my sacred space where I go to recharge, find my spirit and soul, and release and heal. Often I draw upon this place in my head when I am stressed, and I have surrounded myself with photos in my office to focus on when I need to. The River is so special to me and I am so blessed that I have this to go to. I have been coming here to this spot now for many years.

edgewood from boat         Edgewood and cover from boat   The Edgewood Resort is located in Alexandria Bay. Many think of that town as a tourist trap. It is. The Resort itself sits on the opposite side of the Bay and is on its own land with a private road. It sits right on the river. The room we always get is the last room on the most distant part of the property overlooking a private cove. Most of the time we have this to ourselves as there is a pool on the property and many people do not come down this far. There is a rock ledge surrounding most of the cove. The water is gorgeous, but not really good for swimming as there is a lot of weeds. I will walk on the rocks and wade in. Most often, I walk to the back of the cove to where an old piece of dock remains. That is where I sit, with my legs in the water for hours. med dock  This spot to me is my sacred space.  The River offers many beautiful spots where you disconnect with all the garbage in our lives and reconnect with what is important. It is very difficult for me to leave at the end of our stay and so with the mental images and internal feelings I create, I can bring this sacred space to me anytime I need to.

Sometimes, I figure out some pretty important things about life while I am there. For example, life is not easy and there is always something coming at you. It used to create terrible fear within me, but I have learn to become much more resilient and go with the flow. From the geese, I have learned that no matter how you fly,            crooked flying            It is the landing that counts.

geeze td                     geeze t 1        geeze t 2rain   Rain will fall and there will be tough times.

But we can fly through it if we remember who we really are.                                   opsrey                                  c and friends       There are people to support us.

The sun does come out again. Namaste. sun set

 

 

 

All photos jdemeis@2014

August Garden

garden August 2014

Somehow so quickly, the summer has past. It was a cool and wet summer but the flowers loved it. I spent as much time as I could, which is never enough, sitting out and enjoying the beauty. This is my canvas and I paint  in spring with my flowers. Mother Earth fills in and takes over as the summer progresses. It is the first place I retreat to when I come home and I end my day out there. This is my garden at night.

At dusk

At dusk

The long view from my chair

The corner of the deck

The corner of the deck

View from my chair

View from my chair

View of my chair

View of my chair

During the day I have many visitors. I also have my favorite tree named Elgin in honor of Rising Hawk. Elgin gives me great advice.

Mrs. Bunny                       Elgin in the light

This weekend we leave for Sacred Ground. We are off to The River for a long week.

My meditation spot at the River

My meditation spot at the River

 

The suitcases are packed. However, I had to face this look all day. They know we are going. But they have their Auntie Carolyn to cuddle and smooch them up all day and every night and Uncle John, their favorite is coming over too. So they will be fine. However, I still had this face.

ms attitude

Namaste.

 

In honor of John

don  1

Two years ago I walked in to a physical therapist’s office not knowing at all what I was facing. I think back to that time in my life and it is hard to remember the fear and pain I was in all the time. It was so pervasive that I was unable to even sense how deep it was. I just lived with it. I did not know what flight, fight or freeze was and how the limbic system worked. I did not understand much of anything that was going to be presented to me in the following years. I had expectations of walking into his office and he would look at me, give me ten exercises and tell me to be on my way. “See ya next week.” I was so wrong.

Every week I would show up and like a terrified animal, I would wrap myself up as tight as I could get and almost cringe as I walked into the office or into his treatment room. I hated that yellow room. It scared me. But the daemons were all of my own making. It took months before he could even touch me to help me. Looking back it is hard to remember what it felt to be that scared all the time. It is hard to remember how hypervigilant I was all the time. I was a terrified human being whose bruises were apparent to everyone. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. No one knows how really bad it was except John, who stood at the edge of the rabbit hole and extended his hand. It was his pulling me up to the next level that allowed me to fight for myself and ask for more help. His investment in me gave me strength and hope, something no one else had ever done for me.

Something amazing happened. I began to trust him. It was his faith in me and the courage he gave me that allowed this healing to occur. I asked to heal and I made a commitment to work on healing. My wounds were very big, some so deep that I did not even know all the pieces. Together we would eradicate the fear as they surfaced and together we would face them. I spent hours writing and sending him my thoughts; pages and pages of it. He patiently would respond with encouragement and hope. It was his hope, his light that gave me the strength to continue.

And I did continue. I found other guides who joined my crusade to aide me. I would crash and burn continually. I literally fell on my face once, but I spent hours doing face plants in a metaphorical sense. I think back and I wonder why would anyone go through something like this? Well, like the chicken, I wanted to get to the other side. We even would fight as I thought I wanted something I felt he was not providing. He was wise and knew in time I would get what I needed. Like a young child, he nurtured me and showed me that my impatience was not a bad thing but I needed to learn to trust. I still struggle with this but I am so much better.

My wheel has turned and I continue to grow. I have been blessed with a new teacher who I connected with a year ago. She has taken me places I never would have dreamed of before I walked into that small office two years ago. I write this in an effort to encourage others who are as afraid as I was to seek help and support. I am hoping someday I will pay back all that I have received by helping others find the strength to heal. I will never have the words to express the extent of my gratitude for all those who have helped me.

Tomorrow is my last scheduled visit with John. It is bittersweet because he has been such a huge part of my life. But because of his work with me, I know it is time to move on. I am hoping he will let me see him periodically.

Mr. Borden, know this: I will love you eternally. My gratitude will be demonstrated by continuing to work and grow and not falter on this quest. I know I was a challenging windmill, sir. Never doubt your power and magic as you do possess these things. My light burns bright because of your light. It will be with me always. Thank you.

 

June and July garden views

Normally I write inside and I though I would show you where I write. In the summer, I move my laptop outside to the garden. I decided tonight to show pictures of the garden. There is another page I added to this blog which shows pictures of the garden in May. These are June and July shots. I spent a lot of time today giving plants a good trimming and weeding and we worked on the new rose bed. I love roses. For my birthday, my husband gave me a dozen and I had them next to me in my indoor spot.

writing spot

Birthday roses 6-15-14

 

I love to grow roses but I have very little sun. I put in one rose bush last year and it  gave me

eight beautiful roses. open roses  This year I added another one that makes abundant little ones.                                            new roses

Now to the rest of my garden, my paradise.

Garden to the left

  Garden to the left

Garden to the right

Garden to the right

This may look like a lot of work to maintain, but it is not.  Having said that, I can hardly move tonight but it is ok….it is a good hurting. I have the mulch put down and the only thing I do is water, mow and prune….. ok, and plant and weed.  The Rhododendron had a tough winter like us all and I did not have the normal blooms. The oldest one suffered freezer burn and I had to whack it back. But it is back completely and blooming. Joe and I  did put work on the lawn and put in new grass as we had nothing after winter. But we had heavy rains and it washed a lot of the seed down the hill. Matter of fact, the drain by our property has wonderful grass growing from it. The new stuff we put in way in back looks great.

Ms. Cookie

Ms. Cookie

The kids love the garden almost as much as Bishop did. I do have a planter in honor of the Bish.

Bishop's planter   Browny and Cooke spend as much time as they can playing and laying in the sun.Browny

This year I skipped growing tomatoes and went for herbs and lettuce. The lettuce is ready to be picked. herbs and dirt for the dogs

basil and catnip   And I am growing all different Basil and catnip for Magoo, our cat.

tiger liliesElgin and friend

                                                                                                          I love my garden.

Views from the River 6-2014

I decided to do something nice for myself and work on publishing some of my photos. I never get tired of sharing views from the River. This visit, there were a lot of babies to take pictures of. In the four days, I shot over 260 photos. Heron in the clouds

My favorite bird and totem is the Blue Heron. I shoot an extraordinary amount of them when I see them. I like this shot of the blue sky and the clouds. flying heron This one’s wings are a bit messed up. heron 2 Not this one. Magnificent. heron 4

I waited every morning to see one on the rock as traditionally there is usually one there. Finally on the fourth day she appeared. heron3 and then sailed off in front of me. I swear she knows I have a camera.

There were a lot of geese but not as many as in previous years. It was because the winter was so hard. I was wondering if the goose I named BW made it. I hope so. But here is Momma and her nursery. There were three different families that camped on the rocks below the room.

quiet nursery  nightsleeping babies

There were other Mommas.    Here is a turkey and an Osprey for Rising Hawk.

Mom Turkey       Hawk

Here is a grown up bunch of geese taking off.   I love the dance they do.    take off

This shot is where I go at least once a day to meditate and sit in the River. This time, the rocks were covered with slim and I slipped and found out how cold the water is in June. Fortunately I caught myself. I hope they dry up a bit before we go back.

my sitting spot  and this shot is the view when I sit up in bed. Every morning I am greeted with this view. view from bedAll photos copyright of Jdemeis @ 2014

 

Floating

roses

New rose bush 2013

I can believe it is Sunday again. This week went by very rapidly. Makes me sad to think we are already at the end of May. My favorite month and time of year is June. Not because it is my birthday month, which it is, but because it is the most beautiful month of the year. The weather is usually perfect. The animals are visible and have babies. There herons are here and at the River. My plants are in and it is primetime for my favorite flower, the rose. A beautiful rose will capture my heart and my breath. I have several bushes, some I just put in last year and some have been here forever, and all are doing terrific.

open roses
I see a lot of growth happening with friends and myself. I have talked about this with my Spiritual Counselor who said this was a real phenomenon. It seems like the heavy stagnant energy that has been with us for a long while seems to be lifting. I know personally, I had a horrible winter which brought on some real moments of angst and fear. I felt lost and angry in all my relationships and felt I had fallen off my path and into a deep muddy gulch. I cannot express how grateful I am for the strong hands of support that helped me out and guided and worked with me to get back on my way. I highly recommend working with a mentor, guide, counselor and being with people who have similar interests to help facilitate growth and healing.

flying geese 1
Now is a great time for many to shake off the dust from their feathers and start to fly in the direction they feel is their path. For myself, I was stuck on having hard concrete path to follow. I have found it does not work that way. It is very difficult for someone like me who has been totally goal oriented and based her life on measurable achievement to refocus. This is a whole different approach for me to let go and float. I equate it to being on the air filled float in a pool or stream and just letting it take you where it wants to go. You do not fight it and you do not control it. I have discovered that when I let go, I automatically drift in a direction that really is amazing and where I wanted to go all along.

1 kid jump
The trick is to be in the right place to start. That takes lots of work to drop off unneeded baggage and things that weigh us down. It takes trust. That is the float or foundation that supports the journey. That has been extremely hard for me. Not so much trusting others, but to trust myself and to believe in myself. When my float is full of trust and confidence I move along but when it is deflated for whatever reason, I slow down.

geese to cove
We have to build at least a body of work to float on. This is figuring out the things you want in life and casting off the things that no longer work. I think of this as finding the right stream or body of water to float in or on. I am still working on this but as part of trusting, it is also forming on its own. I think we discover small rapids and difficult passages our whole life, but when the trust is there and the foundation is strong, the stream flows easily again and we prevail.

Annuals one of many flats

Annuals one of many flats

In upstate New York, this weekend heralds the summer with many traditions. People open their pools. The garden centers are mobbed as people rush to get their annuals and vegetables. Very few people grow from seed here as the season is too short. Farmers are turning their fields and planting. My backyard becomes my sanctuary. Even this space represents the feeling of this period of transition. When the snow finally left the yard, we did not have a lick of grass in most places. It was a mud pit and barren. With a little work and trust, it is now a lush green carpet.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.

 

Small joys

Bishop in the old garden

Bishop in the old garden

The one thing I have found more in my life lately is small joys. Today was filled with small joys. I do not usually write two posts, but I had to tonight.

It seems that mornings have been filled with sadness for me lately. I have been very consistent with my meditation practice and it seems to help with sending whatever angst I bring from my dreams on their way. This morning, I sat and wrote and then after I posted, I meditated and all the feelings of …and I am not even sure what it is…. were gone. I proceeded to go outside and sit with the trees and birds. Ah, this is the music I longed for in the blowing and freezing wind this winter. The sun warmed me gently and slowly, the grip of worry, fear and sadness were totally gone.

I donned a support brace for my ankle and armed with my brand new rake, I began to clean the lawn of dried grasses, doggie presents, twigs and stones. After a while, my husband joined me as we had just purchased his and her rakes. The sun at that point was warm enough for me to hang the wash out on the line. I even changed into a sleeveless top and shorts and we worked until we had raked the whole back yard. We paused often to enjoy the sun and the doggies who cannot resist a lap.

With the lawn all raked and cleaned, we proceeded to empty the shed and bring all the garden ornaments out and in to their designated spots in the yard. My husband proudly put his whirligig into its spot and spun it a few times. We worked in tandem and in short order, the garden was alive again. It was amazing. The one ornamental shrub, which I have no idea what it is, was blooming. It is always the first and attracts many bees. The big trees are barely budding. Upon close inspection, I saw the very tiny nubs of new growth on my roses. The multiple wind chimes were singing in the soft breeze. At this point the dogs were worn out from running around and barking at passer-byes. They lay in the sun, one watching for any action, the other content to just close her eyes.

After we returned from dinner with my in-laws, we all raced outside to enjoy the garden and the sunset. The dogs, revitalized from their nap while we were gone, ran and played and then hopped up into our laps to sit and be adored. The sun slowly turned the crimson and both of us thought that the raked dirt seemed to have a green haze forming. Slowly the multiple solar lights blinked on and grew in their sparkling glow. We both sighed and talked about how nice it would be to spend our time not having to rush and get ready for work. It is coming in a few years. For now, as the sun set and the chill came over the garden fence, we headed in to prepare for the week.

The contentment and joy is so large in my heart right now. I am blessed in so many ways. I needed the connection of the soil to become grounded again. I needed the air and sun and the feel of the trees and my flowers coming back to me. My husband said that I am totally different after being in the garden all day. I said, “I have chlorophyll for blood.” Neither of us laughed as I think it is true. I am sore, I have a blister, and I am sunburned. I love it. The amazing thing is that the foot and ankle that was so awful all week is not swollen at all. I took the brace off early in the work as it was irritating. My husband even sees how special the garden is this year which is wonderful. I know we will be spending many hours enjoying it. Even though my trusted and beloved Bishop, who spent hours with me in the garden, is no longer here, I could sense him everywhere. The new pups fill it with a different energy and it is fine. I am so glad that winter is over. I am sure I will be boring everyone soon with pictures. – Namaste

The Present Moment Warrior

I feel like I am in a new arena of my learning. I had a pretty dark winter which is why I did not do much writing. Well I wrote, I just did not publish. This latest period of my life had been interesting though, but I am really hoping I am done with it and moving on. The stasis of depression was too deep.
Up here where I live, we have an abundance of grey days. I work in a grey office with no natural light. I have three incandescent lamps in my office so that I get some semblance of more natural light. I hate fluorescent which is what is predominant. The training rooms are the center most of the building, so they do not have any windows. I go in early so often and there is no daylight and up until recently, I leave in dark when I come home. And the snow is terrible. It is March 30 and it started to snow last night. We have about a foot on the ground and it is to continue all day. It was warm when the precipitation started, so there is a slick of ice on everything. My poor dogs where slipping all over the place and the little one could not get off the deck because the snow is too deep and heavy for her to navigate. backyard 3-30-14
I also have not been feeling the best. I have a condition brought on when I was given massive doses of drugs including steroids and chemo when I first was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. The combination was too much for my right kidney which decided to stop functioning. I was able to heal it some but only have 40% usage and that will be it. It is better than none. But because it is sluggish, it produces stones pretty regularly. Nothing else causes it. There are stones lodged in it that hopefully will never pass as they are too big. My other kidney is just fine and clear. I have gotten to the point where it is just something I live with. I have produced over thirty stones I have captured. For the past couple of weeks, I knew I was in the process of passing a stone as I can feel them traveling. This baby had knives in it.

Kidney stones 3-28-14

Kidney stones 3-28-14

This is my present moment. But I am choosing to find alternative things to focus on and it is making all the difference. Interestingly along with the misery I was subjecting myself to there has been a wonderful current of hope and happiness. I am choosing to focus on that. Yesterday morning I sat outside and listened to the birds. I love that so much. We had a few that were eyeing up the real estate for homes as I have many bird houses. I passed not one, but two kidney stones on Friday night and they were big. The feeling of relief and no pain is marvelous and I am so grateful they are out. It is Sunday and I do not have to go anywhere and hopefully they will have cleaned up the snow and ice more so by tomorrow it will not be hazardous driving. Meanwhile, the dogs and my husband can kick back all day. I have chores but those too are ok because I do not have to go anywhere.

Princess LaLa snoozing

Princess LaLa snoozing

Village plows

Village plows

I am beginning to define my present moment as what is good in it, not what is wrong. It is a challenge when I am so used to being negative. My brain automatically turns to that and I must recode and process differently. In all my reading I found out that being negative is quite normal. We are preprogrammed for that to keep us safe. I just went too far with it. Not that I caused it. But understanding all this created such a sense of relief and release of guilt and shame that allowed me to move on. I also know that it is fine to embrace the sad and disappointment of life too. There has to be balance with expression from both ends of the spectrum. It is ok to be upset, sad and even angry if you know there is another end of the pole to reach. Until I had all the pieces of the puzzle there was no way I would have been able to put things together.
I understand so much more now. I understand I had to face a lot of junk from my past in order to understand my present moment. But it is not what defines me. The old voices are wrong, the people who choose to see me in only one light are wrong. But I do not have to prove anything to anyone any longer. (Could I say any anymore?) You could not have told me this two years ago or even a month ago. I had to reach this on my own.
I am congratulating myself and saying one more thing. It is not original, others have said this to me and I did not believe them. I am certainly no wimp. I am a warrior. And I am getting stronger and braver every day.

Safety

Snow in the pines

Snow in the pines

I am to a new point in my path. I am not going to spend time here on the long and short of it as it is not relevant. It completely boils down to one thing. Feeling safe. Simple, right? Not so simple for me. My safety issue is huge and has led to chronic illness, relationship issues and the worse component; extremely low self-esteem. Because this issue is so pervasive, it has been right in front of me all this time without me being able to see it. Others have, but that does not matter. I have to see it for what it is. It is a huge nasty beast that needs to be put to sleep.

This past week, I have been so off kilter. It started Sunday when the weather reports started their screaming that a storm was coming. I love storms because I love Mother Earth. What I do not like is the idea of having to travel in a storm. If I can stay put, preferably in my own home, I am content to watch the fury from my chair, be it wind, lightening or even snow. But tell me I have to get into a car and face the idiots who do not have an ounce of safety in their head, and I am in a panic. The morning of the storm, I had worked myself up to being paralyzed and so I stayed home. Granted, there was no snow until about 9 am, but I knew in my heart that it was going to be awful. I was right.

Wind and snow abounds

Wind and snow abounds

I am never far from a panic attack of my own making. And let me explain something, my attacks are not like others where they visibly wring their hands and sweat. Mine manifest in a quiet inward way. But they are no less critical as someone who throws a tantrum or erupts. They are no less real than someone who is a war weary soldier. This is not a contest to see who has it the worse. No one wins. I have spent a copious amount of time and money trying to fix this issue. This weekend was a climax that has been coming for a while.

I did something I hardly ever do and that was nothing. Literally, I did nothing for a better part of the day. It took most of the morning and a round of quick grocery shopping to allow myself that freedom. It was a recommendation I put into place. It gave me a pause and it was a much needed pause.  I pulled my medicine cards and came up with a reading that said that this was exactly what I need to do and to continue this practice for a while. The butterfly card which was the first one I pulled was very telling. The center card was the blue heron, which is my totem, but it was upside down. The card read “come up for air. There are many layers of truth to understand, and wholeness is impossible in one dive.” I downloaded a phenomenal guided hypnosis tape, slapped on the headphones and retreated for about an hour and half. We then spent the rest of the evening watching great movies; all had a message I needed.

I am not sure what is next. I know this: I need to feel safe. I don’t. I need to fix that. Simple. I woke up this morning and before my feet had hit the ground, I had tightened my shoulders into a neck spasm thinking about the upcoming issues and scary events I have coming up. And, scary is indicative of the lack of safety I feel because to anyone else, they would not be scary. Feeling safe is not something I actually think I produced intentionally; I think it is just a conditional reaction. This is what needs to stop. The events are actually something I love doing, but are now tainted because of the layer of fear I have attached to it.

I also had inner rapid vibrations. This is my indicator that I am in transition. Being aware of all this is the first step. I think I have method that may be at least a partial remedy. I am not going to find resolve from someone else trying to fix this and I am not going to find safety in others until I can learn to feel safe with myself. I have tried to get others make me safe and it only has produced anger, frustration and disappointment. It has to be me. The other thing I know that is imperative to my healing is taking the time to stop, pause, breath and (dare I say it?) JUST BE.

Princess La La teaching Mommer to Just Be

Princess La La teaching Mommer to Just Be