Climate Crisis

I’m finally home from my epic journey to the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, ON. The Parliament was a week-long conference with religious and spiritual leaders, as well as scientists, from around the world.

I attended rituals, ceremonies, and workshops. One common theme predominated throughout the conference – climate change. The Indigenous peoples of the world don’t call it climate change, though. They call it climate crisis.

This past summer, Arch Priestess Belladonna Laveau of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church traveled around the United States on a World Love Tour, spreading the message of the Goddess Demeter. Her message is that our food is no longer nourishing us. Agriculture has been taken over by pharmaceutical companies whose purpose is to keep us sick, so that we have to spend more money on medicines. We need to take back our food sovereignty by growing our own food.

I’ll admit, I didn’t take Demeter’s message very seriously. I mean, I have tried to garden in the past, and I’m just not good at it. I’ve got too many other important responsibilities.

I took it a lot more seriously when I heard the same message repeated by First Nations elders and leaders from other spiritual traditions. None of these people had been to Demeter’s rituals, yet they were all sharing the same message: clean up our waters, and grow our own food. Some of them suggested going as far as everyone needing to become vegan right away.

Scientists agree that the climate is changing around the world at an alarming rate. Their research and data do not seem to be concerning the general population, so at Parliament, they asked the spiritual leaders to talk to their congregations in an effort to convey the seriousness of the situation.

Food is a very sensitive issue for a lot of people. There is a lot of shame and contradictory information about what we eat. I personally am not ready to become a vegan. I am not even sure I’m ready to plant a garden, though I am thinking about it. I AM willing to eat more local and organic food – shopping at the local butcher shop and farmers markets. Every little bit helps.

Below is the video I recorded at the end of the event. Make a change, even a small one. You really can make a difference!

Blessings,

Mary

Travel to Toronto

It’s been a whirlwind of a month. Lots of changes at work, organizing a Spirit Fair, and last weekend was Hekate’s Sickle Festival. I’ve been going pretty much non-stop all month.

As I write this, it is Sunday afternoon. I’m at the Tab, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, resting. Tonight we begin the drive to Toronto for the Parliament of World Religions. The others I am traveling with are at Puget Sound Pagan Pride. I’ve got first shift driving, so I’m resting today.

It’s not easy to rest. Part of me feels like I need to be doing something productive (and here I am writing a blog post…). I’ve given myself permission to rest, though. I NEED to rest. I can’t keep up the pace I’ve been going at forever.

I’m so excited to be spending two weeks with Bella and Dusty and Cassie. I’m looking forward to learning from religious leaders from all over the world. I’m grateful for this day to sleep and not have any responsibility, to recoup my energy even a little before the next big wave of activity.

I’ll be documenting my journey through Facebook Live videos on the WalksWithin page. I hope you’ll join me and tune in!

Blessings,

Mary

Choose Again

Just over a week ago, I worked on the load out for the Cirque du Soleil arena show in Victoria. It was a long afternoon and evening of pushing boxes so they could be loaded onto trucks. 22 semi trailers to be exact.

The work required steel toed boots. Let’s just say that my feet were not used to these boots. I got massive blisters on both my heels. So while I knocked it out of the park for my step goal on that day, I didn’t walk much the rest of the week. Heck, I could barely tolerate wearing shoes!

Last week also turned out to be quite the stress storm at work. We were down two staff members, and I suddenly had to be training someone rather than doing the rest of my work and getting ready to be gone for a while. (I’m going to Hekate’s Sickle Festival this weekend, and then to the Parliament of World Religions at the end of the month). Combine that with Dr. Pepper that just happened to be left over from a recent show, and I caved.

Very little walking, high amounts of sugar. Will-power = nil.

Add to that last minute preparations for a Spirit Fair that I organized this past weekend. It was not an easy time.

It’s all over now. I’m very proud that I got back to meeting and even exceeding my step goal on the weekend, and today (Monday) I turned down sugar. I opted for an herbal tea instead of a chai latte.

For me, this is a perfect example of choosing again. I could have let this experience completely derail my choices to eat less sugar and get more exercise. In the past, I absolutely would have. I would have gotten down on myself, and given up.

However, I have the opportunity to choose again every day. I chose a little differently on Sunday. I chose even more different on Monday. I may choose the opposite this weekend while I am at the Festival – I don’t know yet. It can be a temporary choice, a temporary setback.

We all have a choice, every single day. Are you choosing consciously?

Blessings,

Mary

Emotional Exhaustion

My apologies for not writing last week. I’m exhausted, especially emotionally. Yet there is no option to stop.

My Facebook feed has been filled with friends of mine sharing their stories of abuse and sexual assault. I don’t watch the news, but I know that it has been filled with the story of Kavanuagh’s nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

My heart is sick with the stories of my sisters (and brothers) including Christine Blasey Ford. I’ve debated whether it would be worthwhile for me to share my stories. For many, speaking out has been healing and empowering. For many others, hearing or reading about what others have experienced has been triggering.

It is not my intention to open anyone’s old wounds. I also do not feel the need to poke at my past experiences. I have forgiven my transgressors and taken away the power they once had over me. I choose not to give those people or events any more power by rehashing the experiences. They have paid their own price, and must answer to their Gods for their actions.

Witnessing is powerful, and it is tiring. Speaking up and fighting is also tiring. Attempting to convince people who have no idea the harm they have done is wrong is exhausting. Even more exhausting is fighting those who are desperate to remain in power at any cost.

It can be tempting to give up in the face of what looks like insurmountable odds. Why keep going if it seems like our actions and words make no difference? Is it worth the effort and the exhaustion?

YES.

Even if only one person’s experience is validated. Even if only one person opens their eyes and changes their mind. Even if only one person makes a different choice, one that values another person’s choice. It IS worth the effort.

If sharing your story empowers you, keep sharing. If you can only be a listening ear, listen. Support each other. Love each other.

VOTE. Your voice is powerful only if you use it.

Blessings,

Mary

Can’t talk, busy sewing!

I haven’t had a whole lot of free time lately. Between work, teaching classes, markets, ritual, walking to meet my step goal, and taking a moment here and there for myself… what was I talking about?

Oh right. I’ve finished one sweater coat, and started another. I have a costume to make for my son for Hekate’s Sickle Festival, and I’d really like to get at least one more sweater coat complete before the beginning of December, because we’re going to do a Christmas Market.

The challenge? Between now and then is Hekate’s Sickle Festival (there is still time to register…) and the Parliament of World Religions. I’m going to the Parliament of World Religions! I’m excited and nervous.

Regardless, I’m heading back to the cutting table and the sewing machine. Perhaps I’ll be more inspired to write next week…

Blessings,

Mary

Emotional Eating

This past week was an interesting one. Interesting as in let me crawl in my blanket fort and hide.

I experienced anxiety for the first time in ages. None of my usual coping mechanisms were working. I grounded. I worked on my shields. I breathed. I watched Netflix. I walked. In spite of being in the last week of my current Whole30, and not even really wanting sugar, I wanted junk food, and I wanted it BAD.

When I feel stressed, I eat. And you can tell the level of stress by the junk food that I eat. A little stress = chocolate. Moderate stress = chips and chocolate. High stress = Cool Ranch Doritos, Dr. Pepper, and peanut M&Ms. For the first time in over a year, I was at the Dr. Pepper and Doritos stress/anxiety level.

I’m committed to my Whole30, though. I wasn’t about to break the rules. And I had eaten a lovely lunch. I wasn’t even hungry. I sat in observation of myself, this craving that wasn’t coming from anything my body needed (not that it ever did NEED that crap).

It was distracting. (Isn’t that part of the problem with anxiety?) I couldn’t focus on work. Maybe I could go to the health food store around the corner and find some chocolate that wouldn’t break the rules. Though I knew that if I went out, I would end up with something less than healthy, and then I would feel guilty for giving in to junk.

I finally caved (kind of?) and ate some walnuts and dried apples, even though I wasn’t hungry. I’m glad I had a healthy option available. And I’m super proud of myself for not letting the craving get the better of me. I still ate my stress, but not nearly the same way I have in the past. Even better, I was able to observe my response, and make a choice rather than a reflex or habit response. It’s been quite the journey getting to this place, and I hope to continue the progress and move past this altogether.

Do you eat your emotions and stress, or do you starve them? How do you handle your cravings for things that aren’t good for you?

Blessings,

Mary

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