Friday, December 25, 2015

Celebrating Christmas as a Pagan

Christmas is here! I hope you have a very merry one.

I have been asked by a few if I celebrate Christmas since I am Pagan. Yes, I do but not the religious version.
Christmas, as I see it, has 2 different versions. There is the religious celebration in which the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Then there is the secular, or non-religious, version in which we celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus, Rudolph the red-nose reindeer, Frost the Snowman, etc. This is the one I celebrate.
Every Christmas season, Rit and I will go see Santa. We drive around the parks and neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights. Spartan and I put up and decorate a Christmas/Yule tree every year. Rit and I get our pictures done each year so that I can send out Christmas cards. On Christmas Eve, Rit and I will track Santa on the NORAD tracker as he crosses the globe. And Christmas morning we wake up and open the gifts Santa left us, followed my a trip to my parents' house for breakfast and more gifts.
For years after I had converted to Paganism, I continued to help out at my parents' church with organizing a giving tree drive to help families have a Christmas. We collected gifts, gift cards, donations to the food pantry, and more. Now, I have plans to work on knitting scarves and, once I learn how, hats and donate them to shelters.
This is how I, as a Pagan, celebrate Christmas. I spend it with the people I love and by trying to make the world a better place.

My religious celebration is Yule, which is celebrated on the Winter Solstice.  We celebrate the rebirth of the sun, the lengthening of days. It is considered a fire and feast celebration (ever wonder where the term Yule Log came from?). Hearths are set ablaze to warm the home. Feasts are served as the meat from the slaughtered cattle is considered fresh. One last feast to last until Ostara when the Spring Season returns. It is a time of celebration, a time for family.

Whether someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or just Happy Holidays, please take it in the spirit intended and wish them a wonderful season.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed Yule everyone!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

2015 Year in Review

It's hard to believe that 2015 is almost over and 2016 is nearly here. As I look back on 2015, I am amazed at all that happened this year.

My son, Rit, started preschool at the beginning of the year. Getting him on an IEP and into school has helped so much. While his speech does have a long way to go, it is better than it is. He has matured so much this year. I also feel like he is not as delayed developmentally as he was. He loves school. He was also diagnosed with ADHD this year. We already knew, but having the official paperwork allows us to get him the extra help he will need. 

Back in April, I started dating an amazing man, Thespian (from his love of theater). It's hard to believe that it has been 8 months so far. I feel very lucky to have him in my life. He has shown me what is to truly love and trust someone. Rit loves him too and that means so much to me. Whenever I'm on the phone with him, Rit will tell me "I want to talk to him!" and Thespian adores him too. I am looking forward to what the new year will bring for us. 
I was able to introduce him to OHRF this year which I enjoyed.  Thanks to him, I did karaoke for the first time this year too. Attending the Dickens Festival was so much fun. I was so glad that I was able to stay the entire day, and spend it with him. We are already discussing plans for next year, such as additional renfaires and perhaps getting to (finally) go to Mammoth Caves. 

Things my ex-husband continue to go well. With all of Rit's issues going on this year (IEP, ADHD, pre-school, etc) we have had to work together a lot to do what is best for Rit. People continue to be amazed that we are able to work together so well. For me, it all about putting Rit first. We are planning on co-hosting Rit's 5th birthday party next year actually. It does make me happy that we are able to do that. Now to figure out what to do for it! 

Another thing I did this year was learn to knit. This was a big deal for me because of my paralyzed hand. I have learned the basic knit and purl stitch, and with those the garter, stockinette, rib, and seed stitch. I have been making scarves for people as gifts this winter (5 done already, 6 to go!). Next I need to learn how to add and drop stitches so I can make things like shawls. After that it will be things like knitting on the round to make hats and mitts. I am really enjoying it. I have found it rather calming for those times my anxiety starts up, which studies show is not unusual for crochet and knitting. Focusing on counting stitches and rows can help interrupt the negative thoughts The rythmic actions of the hook or needles can help calm down a rapid mind. So it's actually great for people with bipolar! 

I think 2015 has been a great year overall for me. It makes me smile. And I look at the people in my life right now, those I consider my good friends, my best friends, my boyfriend, my son..... I am a very lucky wench.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Friends-giving 2015

Saturday was my annual Friends-giving dinner. It was amazing.
I started my prep about 12:30. My plan was was to get stuffing done by 1, and get the turkey stuffed and ready and in the oven by 2. Stuffing took longer than I thought, but the turkey didn't so the bird was in the oven just after 2. I spent a couple hours getting out bowls and spoons and prepping for the dinner (I ran out of serving spoons.....). About 4 I started making the rest of the stuffing (all told, I made 3 loaves worth of homemade stuffing) and got that in the oven about 5. My brother got to work on making the brown sugar glazed carrots. I helped with the croissants and corn. The turkey finished about 6, so I took it out and let it rest for 20 minutes. My brother carved the turkey this year, first year for him I believe. He did a great job. People started showing up about 6 and the dinner was set to start at 7. Everything was done just after 7, so my timing was spot on this year! All told, with the potluck people brought, we had:
Turkey (a 22lb turkey)
Stuffing (homemade and Stovetop for those who didn't like homemade)
Gravy
Corn (steamed and canned)
Brown-sugar glazed carrots
Greenbean casserole
Mashed potatoes
Scalloped potatoes
Mac n cheese
Cranberry sauce and jelly
Cinnamon Sugar Cheesecake
Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie
Cookies

We had plenty of food this year which I was very glad of. Prior years we cut it close on the food. And it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun too. There was a lot of laughing and fun conversation, and even introducing old friends to newer friends. I had a few people thank me for having the dinner again, and people raved about the turkey and the stuffing which I was proud of. It is the only time of year I make turkey.
The running joke still stands with me apparently finding the turkey with "birthing hips".
The night finally ended about 11.
This is what a perfect party is to me; just a bunch of friends getting together and having a good time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A new craft

Recently, I took up the task of learning to knit! It has been interesting as I have had to adapt a few things because of my paralyzed hand. But so far so good!
I have learned to cast on, do a knit stitch, a purl stitch, and cast off. I am right now teaching myself the seed stitch.
I am finding it overall relaxing to do, which is especially helpful with my anxiety. I can do it and feel productive, which can help with depression. I'm almost at the point where I can let my mind wander towards story ideas while I knit; two hobbies in one!
Some things I am still working on:
My cast-on stitch row does not look like what I see in other projects and I don't know why. The loops are far larger than I what I see. I think this is going to take more practice.
Also working on keeping even tension through the project. I am getting better, but again this is a practice thing.

So far I have only worked with aluminum needles. I am going to pick up a pair of bamboo needles to try, see how I like them. I would like to try actual wood needles too, but those appear to be harder to find. I am planning on trying out circular needles soon as well. That should be interesting!

My sister crochets, so I find it great that I am taking up the knitting (I cannot crochet due to the inability to hold the tension in the yarn doing the crochet process). I have many people cheering me on in this endeavor. They realize how big of a deal this is for me, and I love it that much more.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Suicide Prevention Month

It is suicide prevention month. I am seeing it all over Facebook, my friends saying to talk to them if you need help or just need an ear or whatever. Seeing all of that got me thinking and remembering.

Something that a lot of people might not know is that I was suicidal for about 10 years; from the time I was 16 until I found out I was pregnant with Rit at 26. I suffered from severe depression, and I still deal with my bipolar disorder. I made so many plans to end it all during that time, even attempted a couple. I want to share my experience, hoping to bring understanding to those who have not felt that despair and bring hope to those who continue to fight it every day.

When I think about those days now, it's hard to believe it was that bad for me. But I still remember them, the thoughts that went through my head. I was depressed and I couldn't explain why. Everyone kept asking me why and I would tell them I didn't know. To them there had to be reason, but the truth is there isn't. Sometimes you just are. I felt worthless. I felt like all I did was bring down the people around me, hurt those around me. How could anyone want to be around someone as ugly, as fat, as awkward, as undesirable as me? I was a burden to those around me. I hated myself. I truly felt that the world would be better off without me, that my friends would be happier without me, that they would be relieved by my death. I know it seems harsh, but that was how I felt. That was my "normal". When you have those kind of thoughts every day with no end in sight, is it really so far fetched to believe that we would want to stop it?
I tried anti-depressants but they didn't work. And the side effects scared me off of trying medication for a long time. It wasn't until I hit rock bottom with the bipolar disorder that I was willing to try again.
So what changed? The new medication was helping. It was stabilizing things. Then I became pregnant with my son and it changed my body chemistry. I still deal with the bipolar disorder, but it's become more manageable. I've felt true happiness, seen the light in the darkness. I do slip back into depression occasionally, but I don't have thoughts of ending it anymore. I want to live for my son, I want to see what the future brings for us.

Suicide is a major issue still. There is no quick, easy way to fix it.
If someone comes to you and tells you they are depressed and thinking of suicide, don't dismiss it. Don't say they are doing it just for the attention. They are not. They are fighting those thoughts and reaching out for help. Be there for them. Talk with them, but most importantly LISTEN.
Depression is not just something you can "snap out of". You can't "just be happy". It's a process. It's a chemical imbalance. It is a sickness. It's fighting to get up each day and make it through each day.
If someone talks about suicide, don't tell them they are being selfish. Don't try and guilt them by "reminding them of everyone who would be upset if they died". It won't help. That's what I was told repeatedly by people. All it did was make me feel worse. It didn't help. Because, honestly, I felt that by killing myself I was doing the people around me a favor. I wasn't being selfish in my mind. I always felt that the people saying that were the selfish ones, putting their feelings ahead of the person suffering, of the person fighting. Don't guilt them, assure them you are there for them. Let them know they matter to you, that they are important to you, that they aren't alone.
One of the big things I dealt with, and still deal with, is feeling like a burden to those around me. I know I can be difficult to be around at times, especially when going through an episode. I worry that people only are there for me because they feel sorry for me and pity me. When the depression hits hard, I wonder how anyone could love me.

I know I am one of the lucky ones. I battled the suicidal thoughts and I won. I still battle the depression occasionally. I still battle my bipolar swings too. But I also know the feeling of happiness, and I know I can feel it again. I know I have people who truly love me, and that is my lifeline when I have to do battle with the dark thoughts.
If you are fighting too, keep fighting. Keep fighting until you can find that light because it is there. Even if you can't see it yet, it's there.


There is a website called Depression Comix that has done a great job showing the difficulty of living with depression. I recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Accomplishments

A conversation with my boyfriend Thespian got me thinking... I am 31 years old. What have I accomplished in my life? I figure if I write it down, then I can always refer back to it if I start feeling down on myself.

I've been married, and divorced. It didn't break me. It made me stronger. I learned how to live on my own and how to be single and happy.
I am a mom. I have a son whom I love more than anything. It's proven to be a challenge, but it has shown me how much I am capable of too. Being a mom forces me to look at who I am and ask "Would he be proud of who I am? Is this the kind of role model I want for him?" It's a hell of a reality check.
I have modeled, and even been published. For someone with as many self-esteem and self-worth issues as I have had, this is a big thing. For the longest time, I didn't think I was pretty. Seriously. Then, when I started to see that I can be attractive, I still never thought I could be a model. And yet, I've worked with several photographers for different projects. I am not as successful at it as one of my friends, and sometimes its hard to not compare. But she also has the time to devote to the work it entails to be that successful. I do not. It still does not change the fact that I can say I have modeled, and loved it. As my friend said, success can be determined by the fact that photographers want to continue to work with you. And the ones I've worked with do.
I have a renfaire presence. This may not make much sense so I'll try to explain. When I go to a renfaire, I know someone or I am recognized. I'm not a stranger to people there. They know me enough to say my name and hug me. I have a network of people that I can say hi to and greet and be known. They know and trust me well enough and to pull me into a random booth and ask if I can watch it for a couple hours (which is what happened at KYRF this year). That says a lot.
I have an amazing group of friends, near and far. Those whom I consider my good friends and close friends are not large in number, but I know they care about me. I can turn to them when I need help, a shoulder to cry on, support, or someone to celebrate with. I didn't have that when I was younger. I was bullied, teased, and alone. Now....I'm loved.
To build upon that, I have a boyfriend who loves me for me. He supports me and makes me a priority in his life. And he reminds me that I have a lot to offer. He makes me happy, and with him I feel safe and loved.
Another accomplishment is my career and finances. I have a good job as an accountant. I make decent enough money that I can afford my house, the bills, groceries, etc and still have a bit to do fun things. I have worked hard to get where I am at and am proud of it.
I think, though, that my biggest accomplishment of all is that I am at a place in my life where I am happy. I mean truly happy. As someone who once suffered from suicide-level depression. who was teased and bullied through most of my schooling, and who once thought she was worth so little... to be at a place where I can look around me and say with complete sincerity that I love my life.... that is a big deal.

I think it's safe to say that I have accomplished quite a bit in my first 31 years on the planet. And I look forward to what the rest of my life brings.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Great Lakes Medieval Faire

This weekend a friend and I drove up to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire.
Friday evening we drove up. It took us about 5 hours since we stopped in Columbus for food. My friend and I talked a lot on the way up about a lot of different things. We really got to know more about each other, We got to our motel about 10:30. 
Yesterday we went to the Faire. It was a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of friends I know from Ohio and Kentucky Renaissance Festivals. My friend brought her dog since it's a pet friendly faire. She was dressed as a fairy and got a lot of attention. I think she was in heaven from it. There were a few times where we ran into someone and they commented "This is dog I have been hearing about!"
They have an elephant there and you can ride. I went ahead and had an ride on Tiny the Elephant. It was interesting and I certainly enjoyed the experience. It was also the first time I ever got to pet an elephant too. 
I picked up some souvenirs too. I got my usual mug and a t-shirt that says "You Can Tie Me Up Anytime" with an image of a corset. I also found a shop where I got a pewter, scented rose and a pewter statue of a ship. Fun little souvenirs of a fun time.
We walked all over. The only issue was the heat. There were several hours where the sun was out and bearing down on us.The heat zapped the energy out of me. We left about 4:30, which isn't that bad. It was about 5 when we finally pulled out of the parking lot. We were about an hour out when we stopped for dinner at Sonic. The service wasn't great and it took longer than expected. We didn't get home until 11 pm. I crashed pretty hard once I got settled.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Life update

Time for a life update I think.

Rit started preschool back in January on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for language and developmental delays. While it was hard to hear, ExH and I were glad that he would be getting the additional help he needed. They are now on summer break and he will be returning to preschool this fall. While he still has delays, we noticed him excelling in other areas. His speech is still unintelligible at times, but we are understanding him more often than not. He has also started saying complex words like America and Karate. I have also noticed that his sentence structure and concept skills are a lot better too. It is amazing to watch his mind work and grow.

As far as the dating life goes.... I am in a relationship. I am happy and loved, and he loves Rit as well. And yes, he is a rennie.

As I posted earlier this month, the Kentucky Renaissance Festival is happening. I have attended most weekends (I only missed one weekend). It has easily been the best season for me so far. I have had an amazing time and will be sad to see the season end.
Soon the Ohio Renaissance Festival will start and I will be busy again. The Festival changed ownership this year and they are already making some changes such as adding new acts and new events. Several of us are excited about the possibilities this change can bring.

Life continues to be a wild ride, but it keeps life from being boring.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Wins

Today the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is to be legal and licensed nationwide. I could not be happier about this. Everyone deserves the right to marry the person they love, regardless of gender, race, or religion.

Justice Kennedy, who was considered the swing vote, wrote:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.


I think these words will hold a lot of historical importance in the years to come. And I am proud to say that I was alive to see it happen.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Birthday weekend

Besides it being the opening weekend of the Kentucky Renaissance Festival, it was also my birthday weekend! And I have to say that it was amazing.
I got to watch the joust with the king, thanks to a friend of mine.
I was arrested and put in the stocks as well (official charge is my birthday). My own friends paid for me to go in the stocks!
I got to meet some new people and make some new friends. I got to see long time friends and people I love. I got hugs galore.

Saturday was a warm day. Not quite HOT, but not entirely comfortable either. I had my fan with me so that helped ease it quite a bit. My friends seemed to love me as I would randomly start fanning them.
Sunday was much cooler, though rainy and dreary as well. It was a much more subdued kind of day.

I could give a play by play of the weekend, but that would get boring real quick. It's something that must be experienced. However, one of my favorite quotes from the weekend:

Sheriff coming to arrest me "Well, I found you. You know what that means?"
Me: "I run?"

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Anniversary of the divorce

I had almost forgotten about it, until someone on a forum mentioned it was the 2 year anniversary of their divorce. I immediately thought back to what mine was and I realized it was 3 years ago today.
It's hard to believe that time has flown. We've been divorced longer than we were married. Yet, I feel like we get along better now than we did then. Funny how that works sometimes.
I'm in such a different place now that I don't even recognize the person I was. In some ways, I'm glad he had the affair. It gave me the strength to end it. It gave us both the chance to move on and be better people. It gave us the chance to be happier too.
I will never regret my marriage. It gave me a wonderful son, and it taught me a lot about myself. I feel like I am a better person for the experience.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bipolar episodes

This is one those hard things of life posts. Fair warning.

Yesterday I had a mild bipolar episode. I say mild because I did not go to either extreme, and having been there I know how they feel all too well. I realized it when writing a journal entry and I noticed that my thoughts were turning towards the self-depreciating ones. The thoughts of "Why do my friends want to be with someone like me? It's only a matter of time until they leave too." Yea, my thoughts get MEAN. I knew it was a mild episode because my rational brain kicked in and said "What are you thinking?? Stop that!". A battle of wills begun and the bipolar episode began. My heart was racing, my thoughts were racing, I had a hard time sitting still, and my emotions ranged from panic to anxiety to fear. Within a couple of hours, it was over (rational brain won).
I wondered what triggered the episode and my eyes fell on the container of jellybeans. I haven't had many; maybe a couple day. But built up over time it had caused a chemical response and triggered the episode (chocolate is ok for the most part. It is the pure sugar candies like jellybeans that I have to avoid). People underestimate just how much of a role diet can play in mental health. Sugar is something I need to be aware of. I found out that my great-grandmother also had an averse reaction to sugar. If she had it, it would be like she had full blown Alzheimers. When sugar free, she was clear headed.
After the episode, I was drained emotionally, mentally, and physically. I could not concentrate. I simply wanted to go home and sleep. But I had work, and a son to care for. I reached out to two friends of mine who know what it is like to go through something like this. And we talked. They were having a hard time too, so I listened to them as well. It was great to feel like they were there for me, and that I could be there for them. Never underestimate the power of "It's ok. I'm here for you." Just being able to feel not-alone can be the best thing. No need to try and fix an issue. Many can't be fixed with anything aside from time and support. Just listen. Just be there.