Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Renaissance Woman

You may have heard the term "Renaissance Man," applied to someone who dabbles in many different pursuits. While there is certainly something to be said for those who apply themselves to one skill and become a master at it, I am more of a "Renaissance Woman," myself. Life is fascinating, with so many different things to learn and practice. I enjoy exploring a variety of hobbies and activities.

Even in my previous career in public broadcasting, my job evolved gradually, such that I was doing many different tasks each week. Now, as a self-employed homeschooling Mom, my schedule is very flexible. On any given day, I might be working on one of my writing projects, learning about investing, doing math with Dryst, riding bikes with the family, doing an art project with ElvenTiger, gardening, reading about quantum physics...and of course there is the ever-present housework.

Of course, the challenge of pursuing this lifestyle is that of "getting things done." If I was focused exclusively on finishing my book of essays on Pagan living, it would probably be done and sent off to the publishers. But I prefer to find balance in each moment, day by day, because I've learned that the process is what's most important to me. In projects, as in life, I prefer to enjoy the journey rather than worry about the results. That doesn't mean that I don't have goals, and complete tasks. It does mean, though, that I'm focusing on being joyful no matter what I'm doing in each moment.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Spiritual Teachers

I am listening to an audio book that an online friend gave me, "A Thousand Names for Joy" by Byron Katie. It's awesome! She intersperses quotes from the Tao Te Ching, but this quote is actually from Katie herself:

"I don't ever see myself as a spiritual teacher. Of course, you can use me by asking me a question. I answer you. You hear what you think I say, and you set yourself free, or not. I am your projection. I am, for you, no more and no less than your story of me. You tell the story of how I am wonderful, or how I'm terrible. You see me as an enlightened being and make me into an all-knowing guru or faerie godmother. Or you see me as a Pollyanna-ish New Age flake, or simply as a good friend. You give me to you or you take me from you... I know what I am. I know what I'm not."

If you want to find out more about Byron Katie, click here. As for some thoughts on New Age practices and how they fit with my Pagan spirituality, I wrote an article about it, which you can find here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What We've Been Up To

It's been a busy and fun April so far! Here's an update.

On the last day of March, our homeschool group had its annual Midyear Review, which is comprised of presentations by the kids on something they've been working on this school year. Each kid chooses a topic or skill that they're excited about and shares it with the group. This year we had 14 kids presenting! It was a fun evening.

Dryst introduced the group to his new blog, Gameophyle. Check it out!

ElvenTiger performed a song she'd written, with the Feline Drummers as backup percussion.

She also wrapped up her basketball season. Her team went undefeated. Here are the first-place champions! Yay! (ElvenTiger is on the far right of the front row).

After the game, she celebrated with friends. One of her sweet best friends bought her a cake and decorated it!

Next for ElvenTiger will be travel soccer, starting this summer. She's already signed up.

Dryst has started lacrosse season, and he has a scrimmage tomorrow. He's still finishing up the indoor soccer season, too.

Math, art, and English classes are going well, as is our new 4-H club. Dryst was elected Vice President of our 4-H group. We've started watching another season of Dancing With the Stars with my Mom. We took a field trip to USM's Knap-In, put on by the anthropology students. Dryst made a flint arrow and learned to start a fire without matches.

Last week my brother gave us tickets to the "Stars on Ice" show, so we got to see Olympic figure skaters doing their routines. We went with some friends and had a wonderful time.

I've been doing a lot of yoga, writing, bike riding, contemplation, and reading. BlackLion and I are studying personal finances and investing. We're about to take a seminar called "Learn to Be Rich," presented by Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Academy. And I've been jogging - yes, jogging. Dryst and I have started running together. I went to a lovely spring mini-retreat yesterday at Sun Salutations Yoga and Wellness. And I've set up my Air altar:

Friday, April 02, 2010

Spring Inspirations

I'm glad and relieved about the coming of the spring and the month of April. It was a long, hard winter for me. Yes, the weather was relatively mild up here in Maine, but in my own personal weather system it was often quite stormy. The blue skies and fresh air are quite refreshing.

In my Elements Study Group, we're making the transition from exploring Earth to experiencing Air. Dryst said he thinks that spring should focus on water instead, since there's so much of it, but to me, the fresh spring breezes help bring in the new energies of this fertile season. This week I've experienced some of the shadow side of Air, in the form of miscommunication and misunderstanding, but I've also focused on breathing, and doing some writing. I woke up this morning with a fragment of a poem, and will see if the rest of it wants to come up for Air, too.

Here's a Christine Kane article I find inspiring and wanted to share with you. Despite the title, I think it would be useful to men as well as women. I particularly love her statement that "I’m convinced that all suffering comes from judgment." Check it out: "The Nine Skills Every Woman Should Master." Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Belong Here

"Wanting to belong is when we get into trouble. The wanting is the beginning of control and distortion and inauthenticity. This wanting comes from our programming that we don't belong. In order for us to internalize that concept we have to be told somewhere along the way that because of what we say or what we do or how we be we don't belong. The truth is we already belong. Our very presence dictates it so. We belong in this world, here we are. We already belong and by knowing this deeply within, by feeling it deeply our communication is authentic and real and fearless. By feeling this deeply we love ourselves and we are free to love everyone else."
- Josha Grant

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Free Fashion

I love the way the unschooled kids I know enjoy showing their style through the clothing they wear. Rather than compete with their peers for the latest brand-name trendy outfits, they express themselves artistically. They like to shop at thrift stores, and homemade clothes are especially cool.

This post was inspired by what ElvenTiger was wearing on her feet when we left for basketball the other night:

Here's another example:

And another, with a homemade vest and scarf that Grammy made her for her birthday:

And as a bonus, here's a picture of ElvenTiger with her best girlfriends at her birthday party:

Come to think of it, some of the Moms have a creative, unconventional clothing style, too. Hmm, I'll have to capture them in some pictures!

P.S. This photo uploading thing hasn't gotten any easier yet. It still took half an hour to upload these four photos. And I wasn't even using Facebook. Geesh! Any tips?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Despite today's slightly cooler weather, the sun is out and Spring is definitely in the air. I've been getting out for walks almost every day (except when it's pouring rain - I just don't like the feeling of soggy wet clothing, ick!). It's too soon to do much in the garden, but we're making some plans. We need to wait until the lower half of the garden has absorbed the standing water still there from the past couple of heavy rainstorms, but then maybe we can plant some greens.

The kids have been spending more time outside, too. Dryst has his lacrosse stick out and is doing some practicing. Sign-ups are this weekend, and the season starts in mid-April. In the meantime, he's finishing up his indoor soccer season, with games every Saturday. He's started a brand-new blog, called Gameophyle, which will be unveiled next week. He's doing a presentation on it for our homeschool group's Midyear Review. I'll post some information about it here when it's officially unveiled.

ElvenTiger is very busy with the end of her basketball season. She has the last of the regular-season games tonight, then a weekend tournament and more than a week of playoffs. She scored her first basket of the season this week! She's on a 5th and 6th grade team, so the older girls are usually the star players, but she played in a tournament where they split the kids up by age, and was able to score. She's also writing songs, one of which she'll be performing at the Midyear Review. ElvenTiger has been taking walks with me, and also building faerie houses in the yard.

The work on Feline Dreamers, our business, is moving along well. We met with our artist friend to finalize the artwork for the website yesterday, and are working with our web designer. We're currently writing an e-book, to be offered for free when we launch the site. We'll also have a weekly e-zine available to those who wish to sign up.

I guess that's all the Spring news for now. I'm off to do some laundry, to be hung out on the line so it can absorb the sunlight and wind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm In the News!

I was recently interviewed by the wonderful Pagan priestess Keri Alley for the Bangor Paganism Examiner. Keri is a writer, organizer and whirlwind of joy. The article she wrote, as part of her series of interviews for Women's History Month, has just been posted.

If you're interested, you can read it by clicking here. Thanks, Keri!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blog Renovation Thoughts

I'm going to be doing some updates to this blog pretty soon. First, I'm moving it over to live on the Feline Dreamers website, as part of the redesign and updates we're doing there. As part of that process, I thought I'd update the look of the blog and also add some different types of content.

Over on the sidebar, I currently have a "What I'm Reading" section where I'm able to do little mini book reviews. As an avid reader, I thought it might be fun to add full-length book reviews as part of the blog. I could do one each week, or every other week. What do you think? The types of books I read most often are: fantasy and sci fi, modern novels, young adult fiction (with the kids), books on spirituality (Paganism, Eastern philosophy, self-help, etc.) and homeschooling, some classic literature, and a smattering of other stuff that randomly grabs my attention. Would you, O Faithful Blog Reader, be interested in a regular book review post from me?

I've also wanted to include more pictures, though for some reason the whole process of getting pictures from my digital camera into the laptop and posted up on the web seems to always take at least twice as long as I think it should. Maybe I can somehow streamline the process, and thus have more incentive to get photos posted.

If you have any other ideas about what you'd like to see here, please let me know!

Friday, March 12, 2010

March Madness

I have an interesting and challenging relationship with the month of March. I thought it was just me, but recently there was a post on one of my homeschooling e-lists about this very thing. I guess I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to make it through that last little bit of winter, until it's time to plant gardens, go for hikes, and do other warm-weather activities.

The transition from summer to fall is much easier for me. I was born in September, and love the harvest months and the slow progression toward winter. But for some reason, the crawl from winter to spring leaves me feeling tired and dull. I came up with a metaphor for it: I'm a night owl. I love to be up at night, doing creative things, and sleep in the next morning. Spring is like the morning part of the year. I feel groggy and disoriented at first. Can't I just sleep until June?

This March, at least, it seems a bit easier to get outside, as there's less snow and cold (at least thus far). I've been out for walks for the past few days in row, which has helped lift my spirits, both from the exercise and the connection with Nature. And I do have some good books to keep me company as I snuggle in and wait for my own energies to pick up on the feeling of spring.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Yoga for the Earth Element

The following is a slightly-modified article I wrote for presentation to my Elements Study Group this past weekend. We've been exploring the Earth element, and to me the body-mind connection of yoga fit in well. I presented the article, then led them through a half-hour of gentle yoga. Most everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Yoga, a Sanskrit word, translates as “to yoke” or “to unite.” It has been practiced for at least 4,000 years, maybe longer, and originated in what is now India. Yoga is a philosophy, not a religion. I find it fits well with my Pagan spirituality. The purpose of yoga is to unite opposites – first body and mind, then individual and universal consciousness – and thus bring us into balance.

The philosophy of yoga was described in “The Yoga Sutra” of Patanjali in approximately 200 A.D. He detailed an 8-limbed path that is the basic framework of the practice of yoga.

These are the 8 limbs of the path to yoga:

“1. Yama : Universal morality
2. Niyama : Personal observances
3. Asanas : Body postures
4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana [or energy]
5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine”

(the above list is excerpted from the article “The Eight Limbs, The Core of Yoga” by William J.D. Doran, found here)

In our gentle yoga session for the Earth element we focused on some basic asanas, or postures, and some pranayama, or breathing exercises.

Asanas were originally created as a series of physical exercises to build endurance, flexibility and strength for yogis who spent many long hours in seated meditation. They also help calm the mind’s chatter and enable us to focus within. I find that asanas enable me to move from being “head-centered,” or looking at the world through Talking Self, into a deeper connection with my body. Thus I move into a more direct experience of being part of Mother Earth. That’s why I associate it with the Earth element.

Pranayama teaches us to use the breath to move energy, which is also a common practice in Pagan traditions. In the use of breath, it would seem to be closely related to Air, yet I also find it very grounding and Earthy. Pranayama helps us to connect our personal energy to where we are right now, in space and time. It helps us to be present in this spot on the Earth.

Here are a few resources for further exploration:

“The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice” by T. K. V. Desikachar
“Living Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide for Daily Life” by George Feuerstein
“The Secret of the Yamas : A Spiritual Guide to Yoga” by John McAfee

Yoga Journal. A great magazine, and their website also has lots of terrific information.

“The Eight Limbs, The Core of Yoga” by William J.D. Doran,
Yoga Basics,
Treeleaf Zendo has a useful interactive meditation timer,

Monday, March 01, 2010

Social Butterflies

On one of the homeschooling e-mail lists I read, this one based in my local community, a parent whose family is new to homeschooling was asking about "the big S" - socialization. It's well known among homeschoolers that this is the most common concern that non-homeschoolers have about your kids' well-being: “How will they get enough social time?”

As those of us who went to public school can remember if we think about it, there really isn't much time for socializing there. Sure, there's lunch time and recess. But beyond that, you're supposed to be quiet, sitting in your seat and focusing on the work at hand. The social time comes during after-school activities or when visiting friends at their houses. Perhaps those who wonder about socialization are really asking: “How will your kids make friends?”

For our family, this hasn't been a problem. When the kids were quite young, we joined a homeschool group that meets every week. The primary goal during that time is for the kids to hang out and play with each other, and they've made some strong and lasting friendships. A few families have been in the group for years, and others come and go, providing the opportunity to meet new kids. Also, our kids are friends with people of a wide variety of ages. In “real life,” most people have friends who aren't the same age, despite being “socialized” in school to only hang out with people born during the same year.

Dryst and ElvenTiger have also made friends by being on sports teams. My kids are very into sports, but other homeschoolers meet friends at dance or gymnastic classes, dojos, theater productions, art studios, or scouting groups. Homeschoolers often meet other families with kids through attending gatherings as part of their religion. Some families do this by joining a church - we are Pagan so we attend (and host) community gatherings celebrating the Solstices, Equinoxes, and other holidays.

And we make friends and acquaintances of all ages just by being out and about in the community throughout the week. At the chiropractor, the dentist, the supermarket, the library, our local farm stand, restaurants, the mechanic - everywhere they go, the kids are talking to people and learning to be social.

My kids are at the age now where being in regular contact with friends is very important. They often have sleepovers, attend birthday parties, and plan get-togethers. Dryst plays online video games with his buddies, and ElvenTiger likes to do Skype calls with a couple of her best girl friends. They both keep in touch (and play games) with their friends on Facebook. Our homeschool group has branched out over the years, as all the kids have grown, and now, beyond the regular weekly gathering, we have classes, field trips, a skiing/snowboarding club, a 4-H club, and more.

So don't worry about homeschooled kids and socialization - most of the ones I know are quite the social butterflies!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Typical Dinner Conversation

Dryst: "Do you think the gods pee?"

A moment of quiet as family members ponder the question.

Mom: "What do *you* think?"

Dryst: "I think they don't *have* to pee, but they probably want to sometimes."