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.
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.
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.
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. 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, It is the landing that counts.
Rain will fall and there will be tough times.
But we can fly through it if we remember who we really are. There are people to support us.
The sun does come out again. Namaste.
All photos jdemeis@2014
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.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about a concept I have been reading about and talking with people about. This concept is why we are here. It is the purpose of the individual spiritual journey that so many are on, including me. But I am struggling with the whole process. Well actually, the struggle is the process. The concept is our higher purpose. Everyone has one, so I am told. But it is our duty to find or figure out what that is. Oh, just to add to the mix, do not try too hard or force the issue. Oh, and do not over think it. And sadly, some people miss it completely. I do not see why this has to be so hard.
There are people out there whose energy is so magnetic and they seem so composed and sure of themselves. And because everything has a polar opposite, we all know people who are so negative and unhappy; you wonder how they get through their day. Everything for them is a painful struggle. All of this is energy from within. It is a choice also. Sadly, humans have a natural predisposition towards negativity. We are programed early on to not trust as a safety mechanism. If we did not have this awareness, the big cute fluffy cat we walked up to snuggle with would eat us. That is what lions do. We learn as we grow to trust less and less and unfortunately, we also learn to feed the negativity. The human race has been infected with a virus of hate and consumption all in the name of safety. “If I get rid of the threats, I will be safe. Therefore, I must destroy.”
For me, safety is a huge issue. I understand how it has shaped my life. I understand how and why it is hard for me to trust and feel comfortable in new environments. But I also knew instinctively that I had to find a better way to live the remaining years of my life. Our world is such a beautiful environment and I am attached to the greenness of the earth and powers of water. Gaia is such a gift. I have turned away from TV completely and rarely digest any form of reporting such a paper or magazine. Even so, I am totally aware of the destruction and evil that is growing rapidly on our planet. Yet, I am not afraid. I am drawn to help fight and save this world, even if it is only in a small manner.
Now is the time when people need to find their higher purpose. We all have a higher power to help us find what that purpose is. Now is the time to activate. Now is the time to wake up. It will be like a ripple in the water. It will start small with each gentle kindness. And exponentially it will build a powerful force to help repel the unacceptable forces that are set on destruction. In our own small circles, which may be all we can affect, the actions of love and kindness will intertwine with other small circles and connect to grow. This will help to bring balance and hope to our world. Everyone counts and everyone matters. And everyone can choose to help. We may never eradicate evil but it is time to make things better one kindness at a time.
The process of living life has many challenges and they are unique to each person. What is also unique is how people deal with things. My way of dealing in the past has been to shut off in fear and respond in anger. It is a common response for people with PTSD. My physical body has a mind of its own and would perpetuate the situation with pain. It has taken me years to understand this and a lot of therapy and help from wonderful people. It has been explain thoroughly and with compassion and empathy. I am grateful and know I have been blessed to receive such support.
But the dilemmas keep coming and that’s life. Truly that it is what life is about. We are given situations on a continuum: some good, some bad, some great, some tragic and some just perplexing. We must keep going. I have learned this and understand that present moment is not an escape from reality and issues, it is dealing full on with the moment with the clear understanding it is only what is now, not what has been or will be. But that does not make it have any less impact.
I am also learning (not quite there) that I cannot control the outcome by trying to change others. The only person I have control over is me. I do not even have control over the situation. I must deal head on with whatever it is and know the one thing I can control is my reaction. My reaction is as unique as I am and they vary from situation and issue. My biggest hurdle is my safety level. This has been extremely difficult for me to get a handle on. Because I often do not feel safe, I react (and I was going to type poorly but that is not fair either) with the methods I know. I have to build my repertoire of reactions. And one of the reactions I am going to work on is not feeling guilty for not being perfect and having reactions.
So in answer to the issue I am facing currently and in response to the question what are you going to do about it: the answer is NOTHING. I am going to do nothing about it. I am going to let go of the tight grip I have and see what happens. I am clearly aware that my safety feels threatened and I need to evaluate if that is truly the situation. And that is all I am going to do. One reaction at a time.
It is pouring out and we have had a series of thunderstorms blow in tonight. I love storms, except blizzards when I have to go somewhere. It can snow if I can stay home. But I have a passion for thunderstorms. It fits my mood tonight. I am not sure why I am so stormy…ok, I do. But it is alright. I will get through this.
When someone like me goes through trying to negotiate life in the present moment, it takes an abundant amount of focus and stamina to stay in the present moment. After all this time of working things out, I still struggle with memories that haunt me. They are a mere vapor as opposed to the huge specters they used to be. But every once in a while, I get hooked up by their gossamer tentacles. This most recent visit is my father’s voice. In this case, it is not something about me as much as I hear myself sound like him. It is very disappointing that I hear my father’s anger and hatred in my own thoughts. I do not vocalize it, but I hear it in my head. An example of this is when I look at people and his judgment would pop in. I am not like him, but there is this moment when I hear his critical comment on EVERY thing. I think, “wow, I hope they do not see that on my face.” And if you know me, you know my face shows everything.
But there are times when I do make a judgment and then say it. I can be very opinionated. I gave up for a long time and went belly up. And people would roll over me as I suffered in silence. Now I do ask for my needs to be met and I also know when it is not my turn. But lately, I see there are times when I am too strong or too weak and finding balance is tough.
My dear friend told me that she was going through a phase of weird dreams. This weekend, the phase hit me. I had very lucid and mildly disturbing dreams. But I wake suddenly and feel the fear that was plaguing me in my dream. It is very frustrating to start your day with the first breath of morning being one of sadness or fear. This morning I actually had tears spill out of my eyes and I cannot tell you why. I think I shake it off, but then I know I have not as the day progresses. I am in a freeze and it manifests in my physically.
I am also in a learning phase again of my journey to connect more pieces of my mind, body and soul. I have come to a place of feeling blocked. All of this will pass eventually, but for now it is unpleasant. Much like the storms that are blowing through tonight, the day will break eventually and things will be better than before.
All photos @Jdemeis 2014 taken at the River
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.
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. This one’s wings are a bit messed up. Not this one. Magnificent.
I waited every morning to see one on the rock as traditionally there is usually one there. Finally on the fourth day she appeared. 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.
There were other Mommas. Here is a turkey and an Osprey for Rising Hawk.
Here is a grown up bunch of geese taking off. I love the dance they do.
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.
and this shot is the view when I sit up in bed. Every morning I am greeted with this view. All photos copyright of Jdemeis @ 2014
Well folks, it is finally here. Spring. I thought we would never get here. It is time to share my refuge and one of my sacred places. This is where I go in my head when I need to calm. It is so great to physically be able sit in my garden.
We had a long very cold winter. Some of my plants did not fair well. We had NO grass. We put down seed twice.
The bare yard before seed
We spent two weekends hand tilling and putting down seed. Mother Earth provided the rain. Boy did she. The canal by our house went over its banks. I have never heard of that happening from rain, but it indicates how much we got.
Rain that cause flooding
The dogs spend every moment they can outside. It took them a while to get used to the open door and freedom. But they run and play for hours. Their favorite thing is to beat each other up.
The doggies playing
The sound so fierce.
But in the end, they love each other. The Black and White one, Cookie, is the mother to Browny.
I still love you.
I love to just sit and look. This is the view.
View to the right
View to the left
I have started to plant my annuals.
Annuals one of many flats
The best part of my day is to climb into my chair and get quiet. Sometimes a dog will jump into my lap and snuggle. Other times, it is me and my praying tree, Elgin. I sit in the quiet sounds of the birds and wind. The bugs are not out yet. I do have to bring a blanket. Often I will slowly melt into the darkness. I look forward to many nights of thinking, prayer and reflection and meditation and the best: Peace.
Me in my chair: note feet.
Spring on Lake Ontario
It is time for my Sunday morning post. I used to write every day and although I enjoyed it, I turned the limited time I have before work into my time for meditation. It was a trade-off that has helped me to start my day with a little more calm and being a lot more grounded. I also have begun my nightly ritual of sitting in the garden and ending the day out there. We have not had a lot of nice weather lately and I feel cheated when it is too cold or raining, especially after the winter we had. Sunday is a perfect day to recap the newest steps and thinking from the previous week.
I am trying to reach a state which is what this recent part of my journey has been about. Homeostasis: the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function. I have been diligently working in many areas of my life to achieve this very difficult and sometimes elusive state. I have been reading and from my fellow bloggers, there seems to be a lot of us who are struggling with this. I wonder if it is actually a natural state or being human is made up of highs and lows. I think that is true, but there is a degree of height and depth that needs to be maintained in order to be whole and healthy.
The one thing that keeps the pendulum from erratically swinging is trust. I suck at trust. Anyone who has lived a life like mine would have issues with that. And it is not from living in the past either; it is living in the present completely and being aware. I have had to learn forms of protection and I am learning to instinctively know true danger in the present moment and what is a trigger from the past.
The next step I have taken is to let go. This has been very hard for me as the lack of control is frightening. But, I never really did have control, only the illusion. I am finding this hard because I have always been a goal setter and a scheduled achiever. The big issue is to feel safe and comfortable with simply trusting that the path will be laid out before me and it will be the right one. It does not help that I turn 60 in less than a month. I do not want to waste my precious life only to end up… see; I cannot go there as this only demonstrates my lack of trust that things will be fine. It is so easy to fall into this thinking. I am struggling with my mortality and the concept of being the big 6 0. However, I have never been so aware and my past is no longer a weight I lug around. There is freedom in the wisdom of letting go. Having a spiritual path is the greatest privilege of being human.
And speaking of traveling a spiritual path, I realized that although the last two years have been a concentrated effort working with mentors and support, this journey actually began when I was very young. At one point around the age of eight, I wanted to devote my life to God and become an Episcopal nun. I got very heavy into Christian studies at 15 in an attempt to find refuge from the storm of my home life. I joined youth groups and was very active in my church. My first real mentor was a priest friend who faded from my life around the time I was 27. He has returned to my circle in the past year as a support. When I was in my forties, I turned to a Pagan path and studied the ways of the Goddess. I have a blended approach now which has only been enhanced by the work and influence of my recent experiences and studies. I have been reading metaphysical authors such as Florence Shinn and Napoleon Hill for over fifteen years and belong to all kinds of email groups with varying degrees of spiritualism.
So I am not new to being spiritual. I am new to the healing and being more even. My path is actually very long and had many turns twists, pot holes, trenches, mud pits and mountains. There will be more of that as long as the Devine allows me to walk the path. The difference is that the holes are not so deep and the mountains are easier to get over. I am equipped with gear to get myself back on my way and the confidence to work through the ruts and tunnels…most of the time. I am human and have doubts, worries and fear still. I am very new to this trust thing and have to keep working until this becomes a solid piece of my knowledge and inner being. Most days I am up to the challenge. What is a new part of me is that I allow the down time to heal and gain strength to move on, as moving on is what I desire. And as the path I travel on steadies a bit more, I move on with my eyes and heart open, trusting myself, being aware and mindful of the great possibilities of life. Amen, So Mote it be, and Namaste.
In a healing path, there is no direct line to healing. There is no miracle cure that someone can give you and things will all be fine. It is a constant effort to find the place of continual acceptance which brings joy. Some equate the journey like an onion with multiple layers which we peel off one by one to expose the next layer. I rather think of the journey as a connected spiral that rotates upward. Each circle has items and many experiences we need to examine and decide whether we keep them or cast them off. On each spiral there are teachers, lovers and friends and those too we decide to keep or move on without. It is all natural and normal. If you do not cast off the things you no longer need the circle because heavy and will spin downward. The concept of casting things out of your current circle is known as letting go. It is the only process that allows healing from past hurts and disappointments that may clutter the path upward. It is necessary to move forward. But I want to include something that is crucial about letting go, because letting go is an art.
When people say “let it go” they mean well, but they are not the judge you need to listen to. Often someone may tell you to let go of something because you make them uncomfortable when you talk about it. Only you are the one that matters in the decision of letting things go. I caution anyone who has had a traumatic experience and works with someone who says simply “to let it go” and then expects that it will be accomplished so easily. The work is only started when you decide to let something go. The choice to let go is inconsequential as to the outcome of what you retain. See, every experience we have has a meaning, whether you choose to embrace that fact or not. To totally toss out some experience because it may have been a painful one is actually not going to ever happen. You cannot wipe out your life without consequences. You did live through the experience, it is your history. What needs to change is the reaction in the present moment. You cannot change what happened then; you can only change how you feel about the experience now. And feeling bad, angry, trapped, hurt, disappointed and so on to something that is over is wasted energy and will only slow the path to healing down. That is the work that takes time and effort and if you as lucky as I am, great support to help you.
There are things that have happened in my past that I have had to examine closely. They are not all nice and they are not all bad. The ones that had me in their clutches and were holding me back were the hardest ones to redefine. I cast off their hold, but not the lesson. I feel very strongly that what I have experienced is something set in front of me to learn about and then teach others. It has taken me over two years to grapple with their hold on me. And every day, something comes up new to work on. I accept that we are never truly done being human, which is what this is all about, until we are dead. But I have also learned new tools to deal with things that make the new challenges less traumatic. And that is because I do not bring everything from my past into my present. That is what letting go means. But I also do not tolerate or walk into the same situations. That is wisdom, and that too comes from letting go.