Healthy Habits

Content warning: diet speak, body speak

Habits and SnowThey say it takes 21 days to change a habit. And I definitely mean change a habit because you are almost always replacing one thing with something else. I’m busy replacing my old habit of eating sugar with eating more fruits and vegetables, and the habit of not exercising with going for walks.

The reason it takes 21 days is because you are creating new neural pathways. The first week is usually the most difficult, because forging the new pathway is like trudging through deep snow. It is hard work! And why would you want to cut a path through the deep snow, when there is a plowed walkway right over there?

The second week is a little easier. Now you’ve got a walkway started. It’s pretty narrow, and maybe the snowdrifts will still cover it up. The snow has continued falling and is starting to fill the old pathway, though it would still be easy to clear if you went back to it.

By the third week, the old pathway is really getting snowed in. You can still make it out, and the snow isn’t quite as packed in as the areas around it. The new pathway is definitely clearer now. Just a little more effort, and it becomes as easy to walk as the old one was when you started.

In theory, anyway. Some habits are tougher to “snow in” than others. For some habits, like sugar for example, your body and brain will pick up like you never left. I thought I had it under control, and before I knew it, sugar was ruling my life.

I’m just past the 21 day mark on the food habits, and just past 14 days on the walking habit. I had quite the interesting conversation with myself on my walk last night.

I *want* to make this change. I enjoy feeling healthier, and having more energy, and less pain. I enjoy my hands smooth and my skin clear. I would love to release some extra weight (never lose weight, because losing things is bad – psychology), not because I want to fit any beauty standards or BMI bull. Releasing weight means less inflammation and pain. It means more energy, and feeling more alive.

I feel like I’m committed to these choices in a way I haven’t been before. Now that I’ve made it two weeks hitting my step goal, I’ve increased it to keep stretching myself. It’s not much more, another 500 steps. Yet I have to work a little harder to get there. Tracking my progress also keeps me focused. The more days I achieve the goal in a row, the more motivated I am to keep up the momentum.

I’m looking forward to measuring my body and seeing the results there. It is strangely harder this time than it was last time. I want to see my progress, even though I am seeing progress in other areas.

Here’s to building, and maintaining, healthy habits.

Blessings,

Mary

Half Way There

Today is Day 16 of my current Whole30. I’m half-way through! I have to say, I’m struggling a bit more this time. Part of it is because I didn’t make a big pot of stew that I could turn to for lunches. And part of it is because I’ve removed a few more foods from my diet since the last time I did the Whole30. No more throwing some eggs on when I’m hungry – they are on my inflammatory foods list. And part of it, if I am honest with myself, is because I thought I could breeze through it.

Halfway signI’ve stretched the line twice so far – both times with soy. I know it is not Whole30 compliant, and I also know from my previous round that soy isn’t really a food that bothers me. I’ve been very strict about sugar though, and that is the one that is more important as far as I am concerned. At least for this body, it is.

I haven’t taken any measurements since starting, because the rules say not to. And as much as slimming down is wonderful, it’s not the main objective. I was a slave to sugar, and I need to reset from that. My body is my temple, and I was not treating it that way.

To that end, I’ve also started making my step goal a priority. I’ve hit it for nine days straight so far, which is really an accomplishment for me. It means that I have had to go for walks in my neighborhood when I didn’t move enough the rest of the day, like yesterday.

Yesterday was a sedentary day. Because I had the day off (thank you to my Union brothers and sisters), I took my time getting up, and worked on a sweater coat most of the day. Looking at my watch at twilight, I realized I had to go for a fairly long walk to make my goal. I didn’t want to. I really just wanted to get ready for bed. But I put my shoes on, and out I went.

Some days, I have just barely hit the target, taking one more walk around the house before going to bed to get the last few steps in. Other days, I’ve been well above 6500 steps. Not enough yet to raise the goal. I want to keep the consistency going first.

If I want to heal myself, I know that eating well and exercising are important. And I have to take baby steps, small changes over time add up to a big difference. If I try to do too much at once, it will be overwhelming, and I will stop again.

Here’s to building consistency.

Blessings,

Mary

Healer, Heal Thyself

Some of you may be familiar with “Spoon Theory“. In short, spoon theory says that when you live with a disability, you have a limited number of spoons, or energy to do things, each day. Some days, you have more, other days less. Some days you end up overextending and borrowing from the next day.

burning matchesThen I heard about matchstick theory. It resonated so much more with me than spoon theory. And lately, I’ve been burning my matches a lot. And fast.

It’s bringing up quite a conundrum for me. On the one hand, I was in a car accident when I was young, and I have lived with chronic pain ever since. A lot of the time, I can pretend like it never happened. As long as I don’t push myself too hard, that is. Even then, I don’t often know that I’ve pushed too hard until it is too late. Because when I am busy, and doing the work, I don’t notice the pain. Until I stop.

I’ve been told I’m going to have pain for the rest of my life. And when I’ve burned all my matches, and I’m in a lot of pain, that thought gets me down. I have trouble seeing past it.

On the other hand, I believe that I am capable of healing. Our bodies completely renew themselves every seven years. I believe that Jesus and Buddha and Muhammad were examples of our next stage of evolution, and that even in recent times there have been gifted individuals who have miraculous healing abilities.

I have tools like Reiki that I use regularly. I take supplements to rejuvenate my body. I stretch every day so that I can move (and I hurt more when I don’t stretch). I see a chiropractor regularly, and a massage therapist as often as I can afford one. I meditate. I clear my chakras, and envision myself healthy and whole.

And I haven’t found the magic fix yet.

There is so much societal shame around disability. We’re all supposed to be contributing members of society, working 40 hours a week to pay for food and shelter, working more to keep that shelter clean and tidy, volunteering our free time to a worthy cause, and make sure you go on dates to keep your romance alive! And if you can’t do all that, you’re lazy. For many, these standards are unattainable.

Even I can see it is unrealistic, yet I continue to push myself to do more and more, and get frustrated when I can’t do it all. There’s a part of me that is angry that I still experience pain, depressed that my body does not have the stamina it did when I was younger. I believe I can heal, so why haven’t I?

Because belief is hard to maintain in the face of pain. When my joints ache when I stand up, and it takes me a few steps to get steady on my feet; when the ache in my head has been there for days and I can’t turn my head without extra pain; when my body protests that 10,000 steps are too many; the idea of being pain-free seems like a pipe dream.

I won’t give up, though. I will keep stretching, and visualizing, and learning. And I WILL heal.

Blessings,

Mary

Whole30 Here We Go Again

I’ve been wanting to give up sugar again for a while. It’s the one thing I really struggle with. I even manage to go for a few days every once in a while, and I feel really good, and then I just can’t find the willpower to say no to that chai frappe or piece of chocolate.

Whole30 ChallengeI taught a Reiki Level 1 class this weekend. Part of the process is an attunement, followed by a 21-day cleanse. There’s no protocol for this cleanse. It’s very individual for each person what happens with the cleanse. I figured if I was going to be cleansing anyway, I might as well do it with intention.

This time, my son is doing it with me. It’s a bigger adjustment for him than it is for me, because really the only things I am cutting out are sugar and rice. I’ve already eliminated most of the other “no” items in the Whole30. Still, it is really wonderful to have someone here to support and be supported by.

A lot of my friends are following the keto diet. I’m really glad to see so many of them see the results they are looking for. I have a lot of resistance when it comes to keto. Every time I look into, it just doesn’t feel right for me. Part of it is because I can’t eat dairy. And yes, I know it is possible to eat keto non-dairy. However, it doesn’t feel right for me, and I have to listen to my body.

So Whole30 it is! I’m actually looking forward to seeing what this round brings me. Though I will miss the occasional Starbucks!

Blessings,

Mary

Bittersweet SMF(ony)

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life ~The Verve

Just over a week ago was the Lammas Monologues at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (#GODCON). This event is an opportunity to honor the Gods by showing off our talents, particularly the talents of invoking. It is also (essentially) the auditions for the festivals that the ATC puts on.

Demeter and KoreAnd this year was the first year I have attended and not presented a monologue. I’m feeling a little conflicted.

On the one hand, it was so amazing to get to watch everyone else strut their stuff. We have some amazingly talented people in our Church! And I didn’t have to come up with a costume, or worry about what I was going to say, or deal with performance anxiety. It was awesome!

On the other hand, I actually enjoy performing – the rush, the audience reaction, and being the center of attention for just a short time. I even received a message in my morning meditation while I was there, and had no way to really share it. Talk about bittersweet.

And… I chose this. Last year took a lot out of me. I pushed myself to exhaustion. I know I need a break. I also know that other people need the opportunity to shine, to learn these lessons and mysteries and step into their own power. So why am I sad?

I’m not even fully stepping away from Spring Mysteries. I’m still the ritual director, which means I still have to go to rehearsals, and I’m very much involved. It will be easier to focus on directing when I am not also playing a role. I can work on liaising with the technical crew. I don’t have to memorize any lines.

Logically, it is a great choice. It makes a ton of sense. Yet my heart is still a little heavy. Performing and invoking facilitating ritual experiences for people is like a drug. I want more.

I’ll still be doing some of that. And I will get to witness and experience the Mysteries in a way I haven’t for seven years.

Will you join me at Spring Mysteries? And Hekate’s Sickle Festival?

Blessings,

Mary

Family time!

This picture is from last year’s visit, when Mom and Dad renewed their vows.

Quick post today – my parents are visiting, so I have been spending as much time as I can with them while they are here. Unfortunately, I still have to work, however, Mom and I went to the spa on Saturday. I always love the Kingfisher Hydropath. And it is good to pamper ourselves once in a while.

Next weekend I will be off visiting my friends and spiritual family at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Mom and Dad are coming with us there. I love that my bio family gets along with my spiritual family!

Until next time,

Blessings,

Mary

Living the Nine of Pentacles

I call myself the Prosperity Priestess, and I want to let you in on a little secret. I’ve made mistakes when it comes to money. I mean, I’d love to say that I’m rolling in the dough and you can, too, if you just follow these easy steps…

pot of goldWell, that’s not true. If I said that, I’d be pitching you a pipe dream. I would be no better than a snake oil salesman. That’s just not in integrity for me.

The truth is, I’ve made bad investments. I’ve been in debt way over my head. I’ve worried how I’m going to pay all my bills. I still have moments when I engage in retail therapy. I will be the first to admit I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress.

Lately, I’ve really been feeling like I’m living the Nine of Pentacles. I’ve worked hard, and I’m at a place where I have some ease. Not a lot of ease, a little. Enough to not sweat the small stuff, anyway.

It’s a lot of work to maintain, though. Full time job, teaching in the evenings, reading tarot on the weekends, making the occasional sweater coat… It takes effort. And, it’s what I need to do (for now) to live the life I want to live.

For example, last weekend we went on a family trip. I had saved up some money, and I was prepared. At least, I thought I was. It is not cheap feeding six humans on a road trip! Especially when one of those humans (me) has food restrictions. So when the brakes also needed to be replaced on our vehicle this past week, and it was more expensive than anticipated, I almost panicked.

Almost. A few years ago, setbacks like this would have put me in a tail spin. I would have been freaking out, or getting depressed, or panicking, or all of the above. I didn’t fully trust the Universe to support me. I didn’t really believe there was more than enough. Oh, I said the words. I just didn’t live them.

Now, I’m a lot closer to living that. I feel the stress, and then I remind myself that I live in a supportive Universe, that I am worthy, and there IS more than enough. I remember that I don’t have to be the one to figure out the how – that’s not how manifestation works. I have to put the intention out there, hold a positive expectation, and use the tools and skills I have to work to make it happen.

I finished a sweater coat late Friday night to have ready for the weekend markets. I stayed up late, and got up early to make it to travel three hours to the market on Saturday. And lo and behold, that coat found it’s home this weekend, and we earned enough money to keep moving forward; to take a deep breath and not panic.

It has taken a lot of work to get to this place – a lot of work on myself, changing my beliefs and my mindset; and a lot of physical work at my job and my passion. I’m not where I would like to be. Yet. So I will keep doing the work and know that it gets better and better.

Wishing you lots of abundance and blessings,

Mary

Rites of Passage

It is wedding season, and one thing I LOVE about being ordained is performing handfasting (Pagan wedding) ceremonies. I don’t have the opportunity to perform them as often as I would like, yet this month I have been invited to perform two of them. Hooray!

age-cycle-womanThe first one was this past weekend, in the beautiful city of Kelowna in the interior of BC. My family took the weekend for a family trip, and visited my husband’s mother, and connect with a student of mine for an initiation. The next one is next week, near the beach on the Island. I’m looking forward to that one as well.

Marriage is a rite of passage, a celebration of the love between two people. The ceremony acknowledges that love, and shifts the relationship, affirming the commitment of the couple to each other, surrounded and witnessed by loved ones.

Because of one rite of passage, I missed another. The celebration of life for my friend Shelby, who crossed over several weeks ago, was also this weekend. That rite of passage was more for the people left behind than for Shelby.

We underestimate the importance of these rites of passage. Rites of passage change the participant, and mark a shift from one stage of life to the next. Marriage and death are obvious shifts. There are other moments in our lives that ought to be celebrated – birth, becoming an adult, achieving a big goal, separation from a partner, becoming a crone or sage… anything that feels significant.

Our society marks some of these moments – bachelor or bachelorette parties; baby showers; graduations; funerals. The goals, and endings (whether jobs or relationships), and aging – those we often let pass without recognition. And when we let them pass, we soon forget the importance of the lesson, or the things we went through to get where we are.

So mark those moments, as I did with my tattoo. I’m not saying you ought to get a tattoo at each of these points! Do *something* to acknowledge the moment. Go out for a nice meal. Light a candle and make an offering to the God or Goddess you feel most connected with. Throw a party. Make the moment special.

What moment would you like to recognize with a rite of passage?

Blessings,

Mary

When one is committed…

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this quote before, because I love it:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

– William Hutchison Murray

I have wanted to be a priestess ever since I read The Mists of Avalon in high school (thanks, Bill and Cole). Reading about Morgaine, and the House of Maidens, I wanted to go there. I even went to Glastonbury when I went to England in university. And yes, I *did* get up before dawn on Beltaine morning and climbed the Tor. Sadly, I did not cross through the mists. 🙁

Fast forward many years, and I am now a priestess. I’ve gone to school and received an Associate Degree in Wiccan Ministry. And I’ve been thinking about getting a priestess moon tattoo on my forehead. It’s a big step. There’s no hiding a facial tattoo. (I know, I know. Makeup. Bangs. There are totally ways to hide a tattoo on your forehead. Go with me here.)

So I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I would want it to mark a significant moment. Or maybe I ought to wait until I can retire. But that’s likely to be a long time off. I thought about getting it when I received my 3rd degree initiation. I wasn’t quite ready then. Like I said, it’s a big step.

A few weeks ago, I helped my friend Shelby cross over. Afterwards, I felt it was finally time, that I had earned it. The next question was when to actually do it. For such an important rite of passage, I didn’t want to just do it “next Tuesday”. I reached out to a friend of mine who is an astrologer over at Hestia’s Muse. Wendy gave me some great guidance, and I booked my appointment with Grey Owl Tattoo.

I asked three of my priestess friends to join me to support me through the process. Thankfully, Jenny at Grey Owl is quite spiritual, and was super accommodating with my request to make it a ritual. It probably helped that Cece put in a good word! They chanted to raise the energy, and I meditated and prayed my devotion to Goddess. Dawne even sang a song she wrote. It was powerful and moving and I felt so honored to be surrounded by powerful women. I’m so happy I got my moon tattoo. It’s empowering, and it feels so right for me. I know it’s not for everyone, though it is right for me. It was definitely a rite of passage that I am grateful I went through. I am committed to my path, and I look forward to Providence moving.

Blessings,
Mary

Patriotism Week

All week I was super excited to share with you about a rite of passage I went through last week. I even started writing the post. And then, I attended the Canada Day festivities…

flags Canada USIt was a lovely day! Vendors, food, live music, all the weather (seriously – it was cool and overcast in the morning, then hot, then rain, then wind, then sun and wind), and, of course, fireworks to end the night.

I had a booth, and we did pretty well. It was lovely to see my community gathered in celebration.

Then I started thinking, here we are celebrating our nation, and there are people who can’t celebrate. People who are locked in cages for trying to escape the atrocities at home. People who have been separated from their families. People who had their homes stolen from them. People who fear for their lives because of the color of their skin.

And it is hard to feel patriotic knowing that the leaders of your own country are doing these things. This isn’t some history book, or a nation half way around the globe that you can pretend it isn’t happening. This is here. At home. In countries that are supposed to hold freedom as their highest values.

Yes, you read that right. Countries. Canada is not immune to prejudice and atrocity. We are a country that stole land from the First Nations people, not unlike our cousins to the south. We ripped First Nations children away from their families and sent them to residential schools, abused them, and didn’t let them see their parents or speak their language. And before you say, “But Mary, that’s in the past. The government has apologized!” The majority of children in foster care in Canada are First Nations. We may not be locking them away in residential schools any longer, but we are still taking children away from their families.

I read stories every day about the suffering that we inflict on others because of our differences, and I feel so small and insignificant. What can I do that will make any significant difference?

Then I remember that I am not alone. I don’t have to change the world all by myself. However, I can’t do nothing. Doing nothing empowers the hatred. I can make a difference with small actions. I can be kind to everyone. I can reach out and support people in my own community. I can honor the land, and the people who were here before me (there are three First Nations bands in my city). I can speak out in support of diversity. I can talk to my local representatives and request that they take action. I can support those on the front lines who are doing the even tougher work.

Keep acting. Keep loving. Keep raising the vibration. Remember, we are all one, and THAT is something to celebrate!

Blessings,

Mary