Tag Archives: Family

Rainy Days and Sundays

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The sun woke me early this morning. 

It’s always a welcome awakening. Shining through my east bedroom window the beam strikes the mirror (positioned to catch it) and light floods the entire room. For a few moments, I lay silent, letting the illumination fill me; it reaches into the shadowed corners of my psyche and I feel both hope and purpose propelling me to rise.

This morning, like most, I fed the cat, made my coffee and completed my morning devotionals, a changing mix including meditation, prayer, intentions, reading, and journaling. Now, I’m sitting in my quiet space and the clear sky has given way to gray clouds. I hear the sound of soft but steady rain and it evokes a different feeling than the sunrise, a calm sense of contentment and appreciation. I’m reassured that all I need is provided in balance, in light and dark, sunshine and rain, stars and moon in the black velvet night, joy and sorrow, growth and rest.

It’s not always so easy to remember this. Quiet mornings become busy days and the voices of doubt and fear speak louder to me than the silent proof all around me that the light always returns, the bounty of earth blooms every spring, that I live in a place and time where my needs are easily met, and my worries are mostly a foolish waste of my time in this life.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

~ Julian of Norwich

It’s sometimes difficult to wrap my brain around what the 14th-century holy woman intuited in her messages from the Saviour of her understanding, Jesus Christ. It’s not as simple as saying this too shall pass. I think more so it means that what we experience in our human existence as suffering—unmet need, loss, sorrow, pain, illness, and death, are as well in the fact of their existence as when they are overcome; all manner of things shall be well.

It’s from the sun and the rain that bounty grows, it’s from the adversity and the prosperity that we grow. All manner of things.

Each of us meets our metaphorical rainy days against the backdrop of our personal experience. I have buried four young men in our family, my step-son and three sons-in-law, the most recent just six months ago. The depth of that despair is now familiar to me and colors the lens of my perspective.

Friends wonder how I survive, how I go on. For some time, I thought I didn’t have a choice; the world goes on, the sun continues to rise every day, sometimes the rain falls. I am faced with the same challenges and triumphs I have encountered before, and will again in many guises.

But with such great loss, has come a gift of deeper insight. I now see that the joys and sorrow of life dress differently for everybody but are felt the same. I may be able to look at a mother who mourns the loss of a baby never held in her arms and know she cannot imagine the deeper sorrow of losing one she has known and watched grow, maybe to adulthood; it doesn’t matter because this is her greatest pain.

A parent or grandparent who has never stood at the graveside of a child they nurtured and protected, sees a future taken away by drug addiction or unwanted pregnancy, or debilitating illness or injury, and feels that loss as deeply. A spouse who cares for their dying partner, or one who watches, helpless as their marriage dies in divorce, each feel their pain as intensely.

Regardless of what measure they are dealt in, sorrow and joy are the two sides of the coin that is this life. They boil down to two known quantities—what am I afraid of, and what do I yearn for?

My fear of loss is great, it haunts me daily because I know how much more I could still lose, but the depth of that loss equally expands the boundaries of my yearning for joy, because I know how much more is still here within my reach.

A moment spent with my daughters in their otherwise busy lives, the mess of my grandchildren’s muddy boots in the entryway, the comfort of a warm cat sleeping in my lap, the light of the sun breaking through the clouds, all give me infinite joy. I have only to choose to embrace it.

That is how I go on, in sunshine or in shadow.


Family Recipes & Simple Magic

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Scrolling my social media today, I saw a photo of absolutely delicious looking meatballs in a saucy gravy. Someone had already asked for the recipe share.

“Sorry, It’s a secret recipe.”

When it comes to simple witchery at my house, most of it is in the kitchen. Literally, cooking is alchemy—a seemingly magical process of  combination, transformation and creation.

If you want an example, try combining milk, butter and sugar over heat. Depending on the temperature reached and briefly maintained, you’ll be rewarded with smooth caramel sauce, soft chewy caramels, melt in your mouth toffee, or (if you let it get too hot for too long), a hard-as a-rock, burnt mess and a pan you may as well recycle into a planter.

But there is something else that goes into the preparation of food, the final element of magic if you will, and that is the intention and energy of the cook. As with all magic, the more thought and mindfulness you give it, the better the results.

If you’ve made chicken soup for a soup-562163_640sick friend or family member, you are practicing kitchen magic. And why? Because even if all you do is open a can, add water and heat it up, you approach it with the intent to make somebody feel better. If you have a secret recipe,  add things like garlic, extra pepper and a dash of lemon juice—oh baby, there is no denying you are a kitchen witch!

That magic in cooking is especially present in traditional recipes handed down through generations, secret or not.

My grandmother’s peanut butter cookie recipe turns out delicious cookies every time, tender like shortbread (as opposed to soft and chewy), just the way I like them. Recently I wanted to make a batch and didn’t have all the ingredients I needed. I decided to practice a little kitchen magic of my own.

I was short on flour, but I had some finely ground almonds I’d processed for a paleo pancake I tried out. I added the almond meal to my flour to get me up to snuff. I was also short on butter, so I added some coconut oil. The batter seemed a bit loose, so I pulverized a cup of potato chips in the food processor and tossed that into the mix.

The potato chip magic is one I learned from my best friend’s mother as a young girl. They add a bit of bulk, a hint of salt, extra fat, and starch. Yeah, I know—but cookies aren’t exactly health food to begin with.

Talk about magical, those cookies disappeared!

Honestly, I have to say the little bit of tweaking, the personal energy I put into those cookies, elevated them beyond good to exceptional. I can’t give you the recipe because I didn’t accurately measure anything. If you have a peanut butter cookie recipe you like, and you consider yourself a kitchen witch, you’ll figure it out.

Chicken soup, pot roast, spaghetti sauce, bundt cake, and even Jello salad with tiny marshmallows; the meals you bring to your table, that once graced the tables of your ancestors, are magical. The act of preparing and partaking of them unite you through time and place.

Near the end of October and early November we have special days to honor our deceased loved ones—Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, All Souls Day and Día de los Muertos.  Try cooking up some of your traditional family favorites, and set an extra place at your table in remembrance of the generations that came before you and their love that created you. Honor them, and the nurturing and nourishing that has sustained you thus far.

~ Blessed Be Your Journey

Interested in learning more about Simple Witchery?

 


Living Dangerously

It’s my wedding anniversary today—16 years. That’s right, I chose to get married on the 13th, throwing superstition and caution to the wind. If that’s not enough, every so often our anniversary falls on Friday the 13th!

I suppose this tells people a lot about my character. Though appearance might suggest otherwise, I am not conventional. Caution has to come to me late, thanks to the laws of nature and physics requiring more prudent thought before action, for my own wellbeing. But that’s new for me.

I don’t conform. I like to be the odd duck, the square peg, the devil’s advocate. “But what if . . . ” is probably one of my favorite things to say. I like to challenge people and I like to be challenged. When I told my father I was going to be a writer (at age 22 with a husband and two small children in tow) his comment to me was, “You can’t even spell, how are you going to be a writer?”

I flirt with tempting fate. My father was right. My spelling prowess is mediocre at best. I seem to get tangled up in double consonants all the time. If I double them, chances are it’s wrong. When I don’t, that’s wrong too. Lately I’m having trouble with vowels—I had to look up consonant. My sister and I both begrudge menopause for eating away at our language skills, but that’s another story.

Anyway, hoping for a career in which spelling skill is essential (remember, this was before spell check) doesn’t seem like the best bet, but my father’s comment was the challenge I needed to succeed. He probably knew that. I don’t think there was any single person more proud of my success. I only wish I’d finished my novel before he died, especially since he inspired so much of the characterization of Pops.

Perhaps choosing a day for my wedding that many people attach to bad luck was just another challenge to me.

Perhaps it appeals to my shadow side, which is very much out there, alive and thriving.

Perhaps I just wanted to be sure my husband would never forget our anniversary.

Halloween was another consideration, with a masquerade ball for the reception. But I’m a (recovering) Catholic girl who made her first communion on that date, and then years later took her first lover on the same date. October 31 seemed like it had enough going on already.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 12.54.24 PMSo, today, I’ll celebrate my anniversary with dinner and drinks at a very nice restaurant, and then come home in time for a little midnight nosh with Hekate.

Yup, that’s normal for me.

 


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