Friday, August 10, 2012

A Spiritual Journey

A friend recently published a blog about her struggles with her spiritual path. It made me think of the path that I have walked,. I was raised in the Episcopal church. At various times I have sung in the choir or been an acolyte. Looking back I can see that I was looking for a connection with the Divine that just wasn't there. In 1982 I read The Mist of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. That introduced me to the idea of multiple deities and more important the concept of a goddess. This was also a time when I was struggling with a crisis of faith. I was trying to get pregnant for a second time and having all kinds of problems only to be told that I was sterile. I went to the priest of the church we attended and got nothing but platitudes along the line of "well, it's god's will."Even though I felt guilty I started turning the goddess.
We moved to Houston, Texas and the path continued. This time it was my son who pushed me further along the path. We took him to church and he asked questions about why things were the way they were, why we did what we did and what the prayers meant. I couldn't answer him. Raising a child you try to teach right from wrong and that wrong actions result in punishment of some kind. That didn't go well with the church teachings that you can do pretty much anything you and want and as long as you repent it's all forgiven.

Then we moved to York, PA. My son and I both love books. We found a bookstore that was going out of business so all the books were greatly discounted. I picked up a book about Witchcraft by Cunningham. A year later on the day of the full moon in April, 1987 I formally left the church when I did a self dedication to Wicca. On a side note it's also when I learned that cinnamon oil is not good for annointing skin -- it burns.

For me that was like coming home. I felt like the thing I had been looking for in the church was there. The concept of a duality, a god and goddess and a connection to nature fit me. Also, the concept of karma, that whatever you do comes back to you at least three times over.

Since that time, some 25 years ago I have continued to learn and grow. I have studied not only Wicca but many different religions. I know now some of the problems I had with the church was the way it is cut off from nature. I see the world in much the same way some Native American tribes do, that it is a great web and everything is connected.

I know this makes it sound like I had an easy transition from the church to Paganism but it was all white light and fluffy bunnies. Like many I grew up with the concept that witches were in league with the devil. As a teenager I had a tarot deck and when the reading turned out to be accurate I was convinced it was evil and got rid of it. I struggled with guilt when I first acknowledged the goddess sure that the Christian god was going to do something horrible to me for straying from the church.

Nor has my path as a Pagan been easy. My path is one that teaches that the individual is responsible for what happens to them. It is either karma or a lesson to be learned. It's much easier to put credit or blame on a god or devil than to take responsibility for self. It's easier to be a sheep and just follow the rest of the flock than to think for yourself. I am a firm believer in choices, in each person choosing the path that is right for them, which is another problem I have with any religion that claims to be the one and only true path and tries to shove it down everyone's throat.

Long before I chose my path I studies meditation with a Zen Buddhist. Something he said stuck with me. He said the Divine is like the top of a mountain. There are many paths up the mountain. It doesn't matter which path you take, just that you are on one.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rights and Common Sense

Whatever happened to common sense? Is it truly gone? There are days when I really wonder. Last night before work I saw part of a King of the Hill where Hank and Bobby get involved in a program called Straight Arrows. The problem with the program was the person running it didn't want any of the kids to get hurt so they learned how to make a fire with fake fires. Instead of real pocket knives they were given toy knives. It seemed like so much concern was on safety that they overlooked basic common sense. I see the same type of thing everyday at work.
I'm a caregiver working with the elderly in a facility. Our job there is to provide the best possible care we can for those in the facility. What we can and can't do is strictly governed by state regulations and Resident Rights. The problem is how these are interpreted. Recently we had a meeting where we were basically told that an elderly person has the right to fall out of bed and hurt themselves. This holds true even in the person is very confused and does not seem to understand that certain behaviors can be harmful to themselves. The problem is further complicated by administration that refuses to truly listen to the caregivers who deal with the situation on a daily basis. The solution given to this particular problem was totally impractical under the current system.
Another problem that I have seen over and over deals with abuse. There is all kinds of media concerning Elder Abuse, but I have yet to see anything on the abuse that caregivers have to put up with on a regular basis. I have seen caregivers hit, kicked, slapped, pinched, spit on, scratched and more. Even when this is reported to those higher up nothing is done. The unspoken message is it's all part of the job. Is there any common sense in this?
I've seen it reported that caregivers are some of the most underpaid workers. We all want to the best for our elderly and want to see that they get the best possible care, but at what cost. I'm a caregiver because I chose to be, because I truly care about those I take care of everyday. I could make much better money in another job but I wouldn't find the satisfaction I find in this one... most days.
Since I have been doing this job I have seen roughly a 90% turnover in the basic working staff. From business classes I know that if most businesses saw that kind of turnover they would look to see what was causing such a turnover. But the attitude these days, not only where I work, but in many businesses is, so what, we can always hire more, in this economy there is always someone to take the job. Whatever happened to wanting to provide the best possible workers? These days it just seems to be as long as the person does the minimal job and doesn't cause problems then they are good.
In conclusion, I'll take a phrase from one of my favorite childrens books, I just got through a terrible, no good, very bad day, I think I'll move to Australia.

Monday, April 26, 2010

One Last Dance

Her body moved silently to the music. A faint smile touched her lips. Her eyes were half closed as she slowly danced around the room. Life is perfect, she thought, I'm loved and all is well. Nothing would ever change; nothing would ever be as it once was . . . After the disaster of a first marriage, Casey had accepted a life alone and was at peace with that decision. It didn't stop her from being lonely. On a dull evening, when she was feeling particularly lonely Casey sat down at her computer and started checking out local bulletin boards. This was way before the Internet and World Wide Web. Those you chatted with tended to be local and much, much smaller groups. None of the sites she found appealed to her until she found Stanley's Steamboat Stop.

Like the others she had seen, Stanley's had the usual rooms devoted to a variety of topics, but it also had one listed that sounded different. This particular room was called The Meadow. In addition to a screen name, those who populated this room also took on a fictional persona. Most of it revolved around the antics of Mouse, who was forever trying to steal food from The Farmer's garden and getting stomped for it. One of the other rooms was devoted to lively debate and discussion and was here that The Farmer excelled. With a rapier sharp wit and intelligence, The Farmer regularly dissected challengers. Through him Casey learned to think through her arguments and to present her case in a logical and straight forward manner.

Before long Casey went from sending one or two messages to sending dozens. Most to the public rooms, but many were private messages to and from Mouse. Each night when she logged on and saw the new messages a ray of happiness went through her. It seemed that she had finally found friends.

Winter slipped by and so did Spring. She watched with delight as Mouse slipped in and out of the Garden, got stomped and The Farmer got zapped by the Fairy Godmother who protected Mouse. Casey enjoyed the debates, some she won, some she lost, but each was a learning experience. Mouse offered his phone number but she was still to insecure to dare to call him. Written words seemed much, much safer.

Casey found the people even more fun in person than they were online. They ate, drank, talked and laughed until darkness forced the picnic to an end. An exploding watermelon was only one of the many memories built that day. By the time she finally drove home, Casey had agreed to a date with Mouse. She had learned his real name, but would think of him as Mouse for months more to come. Their first date was a huge success, especially when he held her close in a dance near the end of the date. It was the first of many dances.

A year later at the second annual Stanley's Steamboat Stop picnic Mouse surprised them all by dropping to one knee and proposing. A blushing Casey agreed to marry him, to the cheers of all those present. She couldn't imagine being any happier, it was as if all the bad from her childhood had never happened.

When Casey was nine she was verbally and emotionally abused by her teacher and classmates. Problems at home deepened the problem, although years later she could not remember exactly what had happened. All Casey knew was she was alienated. Once full of confidence with lots of friends, she retreated inside of herself, inside of a bubble where no one could cause her harm. It was a lonely existence but preferable to risking her heart, risking being ridiculed, being laughed at. So while other children developed social skills, learned to be and make friends, Casey stayed within the world of her imagination, safe and secure. The one joy she shared with other children was a wishing star. Like so many others she would make a wish, only her wish was always the same, that someday, someone would love her. Now, so many years later, it all seemed to be coming true.

But it wasn't meant to be. Casey had no way to know that the same lack of skills that kept her apart from most other people would also keep her from being able to bond as a wife. She tried, but something just wasn't there. Two years after they were married, Mouse told her that he had found someone else, that he didn't love her anymore. Casey, her heart shattered coped in the only way she knew how.

Her body moved silently to the music. A faint smile touched her lips. Her eyes were half closed as she slowly danced around the room. Life is perfect, she thought, I'm loved and all is well. Nothing would ever, change, nothing would ever be as it once was. A nurse peered into the open door at the vacant eyed woman who moved to music only the dancer could hear.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Once upon a time I thought that all cats were more or less the same -- four legged furred companions. That was before I was introduced to the idea that every so often, if you are very lucky you might find a special cat, a bud or a girlfriend. I am extremely lucky in that I have both a bud cat and a girlfriend cat.

Kit, is my special girlfriend cat. She decided that the first day that she met me. She was born under the trailer of a friend. At a very early age, Kit lost her mother as was adopted by the owner of the trailer. This wonderful and generous person bottle fed Kit and her siblings. The first time I saw Kit she fit into my hand. Before going to see her I was convinced that I didn't need another cat and was not going to adopt another one. That all changed the first time I held her. I picked up this tiny little kitten, held her to my chest and she purred. A tiny ball of fur purring in my hand, purred her way into my heart.

Before Kit I was not a big fan of female cats. I didn't think they had the personality that a male cat shows. Kit showed me just how wrong I was about female cats. She has more than enough personality for ten cats. From the first day she came to live with me, Kit let me know how it was going to be and that she now ruled the house. It was her house and I just got to share it with her.

I soon learned that she was more than just another cat. Kit had decided that we were going to be girlfriends and do all that things that girlfriends do together. She is seldom far from my side when I am home. If she thinks I need her special attention she will glue herself to my chest and touch her face to mine purring the whole time. It doesn't matter what kind of a day I've had, one minute with her purring in my arms is enough to brighten the darkest day.

Kit expects to share things with me as well, like my meals. She's not above trying to take food off my plate if I'm a little slow in sharing. To her way of thinking, that's what girlfriends do, they share. Other than being my girlfriend, Kit gave me another great gift, she gave me my cat bud and familiar, Steel, but that's a post for another day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Co-worker from hell

I think just about everyone either works with or has worked with someone who makes your life a living hell. I'm fortunate in that I only have to work with this person four days out of the month. He has been the bane of my existence since he started. Back in March I was having a bad day and refused to do something he wanted me to do. He had stated that he didn't think it was fair that one person did that particular job all the time. I had done it the day before and now he was telling, not asking, telling me to do it again. I refused, he wrote me up.
For me this was the last straw. I'm been a victim of verbal/emotional abuse most of my life and I had finally had it with this one person making me feel like shit. Added to that he lied on my yearly review which would have cost me my raise, except the company decided that no one would get a raise. I filed an official complaint and the real hell started.

I think I understand now why some victims of abuse fail to report it or if they do fail to follow through. I was made to feel like I was the one in the wrong. I was accused of working not working independently, of working too independently, of not being a team player and of being too much of a team player, all at the same time. I'm good at my job but I fail to see how I could be so many contradictory things. Added to this I was told that not only was thing being said by the person I had a problem with it was also being said by one of my superiors from the rest of the days. There are two people who are superior to me that I work with the bulk of the time. I'm comfortable enough with them that I went to one and asked if she had said negative things about me. She said she hadn't and neither had the other person. While I can't prove it, I know that someone stabbed me in the back.

The night before a big meeting with me, the one I accused, the head of my department and the head of personal, when I'm trying to stay positive she tried to knock me down. She was making comments about how they were right and I was guilty of what I was accused of. This is a person who has already quit her job and is leaving in less than two weeks for a new job. Although I have no solid proof, I know with every molecule of my being that she stabbed me in the back. If the two I work with the most had both backed me up, I think it would have gone differently.

I did agree that I would not discuss what went on in the final meeting and I will not. What I will say is we all agreed to be nice and try to work civilly with each other. I have a feeling that the one I accused feels he one. For my part I don't think there is a winner. I don't know that the situation will change. I will do what I have to do and try not to stress. As to the one who caused the problem, for as long as he works at this place there will be a letter in his file that says he lied and abused a co-worker.


I am the dancer's shadow
Each move she makes, I copy
Each spin, each twirl, each step
I make as well.

But when darkness falls
And the shadows rule
I am no longer the dancer's shadow
I am the Shadow Dancer.

No longer constrained by mortal flaws
I flow, I move, I dance
More brilliantly than any human
Could dare to mimic.

Then daylight comes
And the shadows flee to dark corners and crevices
Once again, I am the dancer's shadow
But only until dark

And only until the day I am free.

March 1988