On Accountability and Enough

The Wheel turns whether I notice it or not. Half a year gone. Four holidays have passed.

My Beltane alter was colourful, full of hope and joy. It was bright and happy, just as the holiday was meant to be celebrated. My heart was full, and I felt blessed. I spent time posting ideas for future alters to Pintrest, excited about what I could create in the months ahead.

Then the waters came., and my Summer Solstice alter was left behind in the rush of evacuation. I spent the holiday itself glued to technology, trying to glean the truth amongst the grains of rumour and speculation. I greeted the sun, praying its arrival would herald the end of the rains. And then I travelled, and was fortunate enough to find a space where I could honour the water without dread.

My Lammas alter was subdued. While the waters had spared my home, that which I had to harvest was meager compared to earlier years. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with issues of sustainability, with alternative income streams, with sharing and gifting versus owning and consuming.

We’re now at Fall Equinox, and my alter contains small crochet leaves, a reflection* of my ongoing sustainablity concerns. I light the candle, breathe deeply, and open myself to the unknown. I ask for blessings for myself and for others who are struggling. I let myself feel despair even as I open myself to hope.2013-09-27 08.22.47

The Wheel turns whether I notice it or not. It turns if I have intentation or not. It turns if my practice grows from that intention or not. It turns even as the questions tumble from my mind.

I question to whom I am accountable: If I create an alter and stand before it, honouring the turning of the wheel, is that enough? If I write about my experience here, is that enough? If I organize circles of others, if I give my time and energy to support local pagan groups, if my words are published, is that enough? If I teach my son to honour the old ways, if I sing songs, if I bake and craft and share my blessings with others, is that enough?

I question what I am expecting in return: If I am blessed with a roof over my head and food on my table, is that enough? If I am able to buy my son a warm coat without sacrificing our food budget for the month, is that enough? If I am able to recognize that I am no longer carless by choice,** but by circumstance, and it has not changed my ability to move around the city, is that enough? If I remember that abundance is here and the Path is right, is that enough?

I question, and the Wheel turns, and I light a candle. Blessed Be.

* I crochet when I’m panicked about financial things, to in some way convince myself that if all is a wash I’ll at least have a stack of hats to sell.

** I actually question if I was ever really carless by choice, but that’s the subject for another blog post.

Now, Abundance

“What do you have now?” Peter Block

I’ve been focused on the idea of abundance in the past week, mainly as I spent a large chunk of my time cleaning/purging/organizing my craft* closet.¬† As items were unearthed from boxes and bags, I realized not only how many talents/memories I had left buried with their physical representations (anyone remember Friendly Plastic?) but also how much of myself I had discarded in pursuit of something external. The process became part excavation (of Self that had been) and part inspiration (of Self that could be), and evolved into ritual as each item was taken out, honoured, and embraced or discarded as it should have been long ago.

In the end, I realized that I have enough “things” in the closet to complete, easily, 75% of the ideas of my “I could make and sell/gift this” list. I was particularly excited to find a large stash of FIMO, dollhouse miniature dishes/trays/baskets, and completed items that I had not even realized I still had, putting me ahead of where I wanted to be, inventory-wise, by this date. So yes, this process helped me to feel abundant, because I can start planned projects now, not later; because I have items already completed, not just in progress; and because I remembered that I can do this kind of work too.

Abundance can be defined in many ways. For me, abundance is not just wealth, but an opportunity for choice. Reconnecting with this aspect of my Self says that I may be making a different choice, but abundance is here and the Path is right. Blessed Be!

Breathe

I’m very good at distracting myself with to-do lists. I’ve only been home (aka back from holidays) for one week, and already I’ve grocery shopped (3 times in one day, a new record, and also the source of several near-extreme couponing moments), read about 500 pages on adult education and democracy, cleaned my kitchen, baked cookies… meh, you get the idea. I’m the queen of to-do – and when the list of have-dones gets this long, there inevitably comes a moment of panic.

That moment came up earlier today, thanks to this article found via my Facebook feed: Life in the Red, in which the cycle of unemployment and poverty conspire in such a way that I could see myself heading down the exact same path now that I’m figuring out what happens next, work-wise. So, panic.

Fortunately, as the queen of to-do I also have a to-do list for when this panic hits. (Yes, it’s a little OCD, but what isn’t in my life these days?)

First, breathe. A lot. Outside, where the trees are. Feel.  Connect with Goddess and the Earth.

Second, come back inside. Light a candle on the alter. Breathe some more. Feel. Connect with Goddess and the Self.

Third, pick up something at random and read Her words. Today it’s from the latest SageWoman magazine:

It is not so important to know what you will do in any particular given situation. The crucial thing is to know that you will be able to do something. To have faith in your own instincts and intuition to figure it out as you go along. To believe in your good intentions and your courage to do whatever is called for. Donna Henes, Queen of My Self

 

 Blessed Be.

 

The Snow is Not

 

The snow is not the only source of cold this morning.

I stood at my window this morning and watched

As a man stood, silent, smoking amidst the snow

With a bag of collected bottles and cans at this feet.

And I cursed the interlocking systems of oppression

That kept me from inviting him in from the cold

That kept him in a position most likely not of his choosing

That kept us as strangers for this moment

And perhaps for a thousand moments to come.

The snow is not the only source of cold this morning.

Let’s Think Bigger, or What’s Our Vision for Canada?

There’s been a lot in the media this week about the federal government’s decision to cut the number of family reunification visas that they will be issuing for parents/grandparents from 16,000 to 11,000. Most of the concern seems to be around the cost to Canada as these people age and receive benefits, specifically:
  • CPP: In order to receive benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a person has to have contributed to the program through payroll taxes. The benefits are calculated based on how long a person has contributed and at what rate, so it is really based on a person’s work experience in Canada. (There are problems with this, of course, such as the role of stay-at-home parents in the system, but that’s for another blog post.)
  • OAS/GIS: Old Age Security (OAS) provides you with a “modest” pension that starts when you turn 65, but you have to live in Canada for 10 years in order to qualify.The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides additional income to low income people who already qualify for the OAS (10 years in Canada). The rates for both are dismally low, with a maximum monthly benefit of about $1,200 a month – if you’ve lived in Canada for 40 years after the age of 18. Benefits are reduced for those who’ve lived here less.
  • Other Benefits: There is an Allowance or Allowance for the Survivor for those aged 60-64 whose spouses are collecting or who collected OAS. People receiving this allowance have to be in a low income bracket, have to be a Canadian citizen or legal resident and have to have lived in Canada for 10 years.
Personally, I see this as a bigger story than just numbers (just like I see the secondary suite debate as a bigger debate than parking and neighbourhood density, which is also another blog post). The impact of caring for aging parents on a family is enough of a task; putting legal barriers in the way of family responsibilities just adds to the stress. And it’s not just permanent immigration – trying to bring a family member here for a wedding or celebration has also become an almost impossible task for many immigrants. (If a family member has applied to immigrate, they are not allowed to visit until that claim is dealt with. The current wait for a claim to be resolved is 13 years. What’s happened in the last 13 years that you would have missed?)
As the population of the world ages, this is an issue we’re going to see again and again. As a country, we need to develop better ways of addressing the needs of seniors, their families and the greater communities in which they live.  The debate needs to be bigger than money – it needs to be about values and ethics and how we support each other in creating a better future for all. The vision needs to include how seniors age in community and how we support families as they address the needs of aging parents and grandparents – and it needs to include how we’re going to pay for that support. I’m not immune to the funding debates. I’m just not willing to have them be the only thing guiding my thought process.  
(Cross-posted at the Bow Cliff Blog, where we’re sharing our programs, services and opinions about growing older.  Check it out!)

Proud to Be Pink

I confess, I’m a buton-a-holic – but that’s the topic for another blog post.

On today’s to-do list: order a button from Spacing Toronto.
If you missed it, here’s Don Cherry’s speech (at the Torontoist) that he delivered at Toronto City Council’s recent swearing-in, which explains why several people on my social media feed are also ordering buttons.
Oh, and insert celebratory “Our Mayor/Council Rocks” post here: they lowered the cost of low income transit passes! 
(Cross-posted at Zero-Fare Canada who kindly invited me to post with them. Go check them out!)