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.

On Falling

Cause when you’re falling / I can’t tell which way is down
When you’re falling / I can’t tell which way is down
I keep seeing all those things
My feet don’t touch the ground
(Afro Celt Sound System, via PaganRadioNetwork)

The first snow is falling. The Equinox trappings have been cleared from the alter, and a single candle is lit to mark the passage from one sacred moment to another. The alter – truly a family one, now that Xander is starting his journey on the path – will soon be covered in photos, poems and mementoes of those who have gone before us. Our list grows every year, and even so there are moments of gratitude that this name or that soul has not yet passed to the next world.

For me, this season is not only about mourning the ancestors, but also for mourning what could have been. This is especially sharp for me at the moment as my professional life has been rocked by change so deep and scarring that I don’t know what comes next.

When someone is mourning, we try to comfort them. At some point the comfort becomes discomfort – Why are you still sad? – and we’re left to fall on our own. We learn to hide the sadness within ourselves, to act as if everything is fine.

Everything is not fine.

The first snow continues to fall.

Which way is down?

Ready for 2012?

While it’ll be an unusually uneventful annum for you, with your wacky ruler Uranus rollin’ into Aries in early March you can expect the first. The first what? Well, that would depend on you. Whatever untried desire you’ve so far been ignorin’, spring 2012 is the time for explorin’! FFWD

Photobombed, Xander-style.

My Twitter/Facebook feeds seem to have an overarching theme tonight: 2011 sucked, bring on 2012 already! I’ll admit that 2011 was an extremely challenging year for me, what with taking on a new position, struggling through a masters’ class on grounded theory, being elected to two new boards and still making time to parent/game/eat/sleep as needed (or not, as the case may be). But I don’t feel that 2011 was a particularly hard or terrible year in my corner of the world.

3 Things for Calgary

Now 2012 could be a stressful year – or it could be a year filled with opportunity My new position will continue to push people’s boundaries about collaboration, community building and leadership, but I anticipate continued support from current partners and the opportunity to develop new supports through an increased staff team. I have to complete two masters courses this year, with one focused on organizational development starting in a few days (I’m already behind on my pre-reading – only 1500 pages to go), but completing them will bring me two classes closer to attaining my degree. My life seems to be spent in meetings, but I’m excited about what the boards will be doing this year (including the upcoming Project Ploughshares Calgary workshop “Non-Violent Cultures – from Antiquity to Contemporary Times”  and a spring Federation of Canadian Carsharing Cooperatives conference in Winnipeg, which happily coincides with my father’s 70th birthday).

CSRS "Dream a Little Dream" Event

Meeting the new year with gratitude, acknowledging that nothing gets done without hard work, and setting clear personal goals so that I don’t lose sight of what matters – these are the strategies that will help me thrive, not just survive in 2012. I’m looking forward to visits with family and friends, listening to good music and having Xander make me a meal from what he learns in his food and fashion class. I have a lot of great books to read, movies to watch and music to enjoy.  And I can’t wait to see what “the first” is going to turn out to be. Any ideas?

Blessed Solstice!

Hail to you the longest night of all the turning year!
Awake the resurrecting light that banishes despair.
For now the tide will start to turn and night will yield to day
And the waning year will shed its skin and cast the dark away.  
Yule is come now beat the drum and light the Solstice flame 

Tonight we’ll sing a hymn of praise for the Sun returns again.

– Jaiya, Yule is Come

(Also, check out this awesome photo of the lunar eclipse taken by Mark Zaugg. Xander and I went out to witness the event – what a magical night for creating the world as we want it to be!)

31 Days to a Brand New Blog: Day 9

Yes, it’s not actually Day 9 (Write a “How To” Post) but I’m catching up on posts* I’ve missed. Going back to the post on my purpose statement, I wanted to post something that covered “the personal is political” aspect of my writing. And so:

How To Help Your Kids Change the World

Xander helping Alderman Ceci cut the ribbon on the Calgary Peace Pole, September 2009.

Little Changes Add Up

Out of all the changes that happened when I became a single mom in March 2008, I didn’t think “not buying a car” would have the most impact. Joining Calgary Carshare has led to all kinds of changes: less shopping (especially in big-box stores), more transit/walking/biking (especially because Xander’s school and out-of-school-care are so close) and more volunteering (first as a member and then as a board member). Xander is a big fan of carsharing and we have a great time discussing alternative transportation models (including my “retirement home”: a rainbow-coloured school-bus that runs on recycled french fry oil – his proposal, not mine).

Take Them With You
Xander comes to board meetings with me, he volunteers at tables/events with me, and he comes to protests with me. He’ll be attending the Nenshi for Mayor orientation later this week and he’s requested his own tshirt so he can participate in events. He’s a familiar face at Bow Cliff Seniors, where his Wii-skills and weeding-skills are in demand. Sometimes I don’t attend things because he’s with me, or I reschedule them for times when he’s in school, after-school care or with his father, but most of the time he’s there with me. And I know this works first hand: I have several memories of volunteering with both my parents!

Xander and I at the Calgary Anti-Prorogation Rally, January 2010.

Explain Things So They Understand Why
Kids have questions and we (sometimes) have answers. Tell the truth, but in a way that your kids understand. Talk about why you feel something is right/wrong and why others don’t. And be honest when you don’t have the answers; kids can sense when you’re putting them on. Encourage them to do their own research and form their own opinions.

Have Fun!
Changing the world is hard work, but every revolution needs a dance party or two. One of our “new favourite” events is the Bow River Flow – a street party celebrating human-powered transportation. Next Sunday we’ll be volunteering for Calgary Carshare at the Bike Check-In and also wandering the streets looking for a game of snakes and ladders. Hope to see you there!

Come join the parade!