Snow Falls Slowly On the Mountain

Hi there everyone. I’ve been taking things slow for a few days. I really miss the chances to just connect, to just simply be-without emotional necessity. I’ve been working fervently on several things all at once and I needed a chance to clear my head. So that is precisely what I did. And I really wanted to share my Ramadan experience in light of the recent attacks in Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. But now I think I want to do a little bit of introversion as far as blogs go. No expectations, just thoughts.

I love thunderstorms. That should surprise no one. I often compare my existence to storms, hurricanes and weather of assorted variety. But one of my favorite things is when I’m so connected to the storms. I believe that the thunder and lightning are the sky spirits speaking to us, and I whenever there is a big storm, I go out on my balcony and sing to them. And the coolest thing is that when I reach a really emotional part, a power chord or a really high note, the storm inevitably picks up with a momentary deluge, thunder clap or lightning show. It’s my very favorite thing about storms.

I spent Litha (summer solstice) in quiet meditation. -Here’s where I should probably give you the Campbell’s soup (condensed) version of some things.- So ever since I left the church some years ago, I haven’t found a way to pray without feeling like a monster. So when I say “pray” I very strictly mean “rejoice in my blessings” not “ask for things”. When I do have things to ask for, I light a blood candle and ask, no ceremonial “Please may I…” stuff. So just know that it is VERY unusual that I asked for guidance. I can talk about the particulars of my belief system later if people are interested.

I used a couple meditation videos for spirit guides and began my journey. I’d heard from several people that their guide came to them very quickly (or not at all) and either said nothing or gave them a present (like a gemstone or a kiss on the cheek). So I tried to mentally visualize my way through the exercise, trying not to focus on animals I dearly love, faces of ancestors and the like. So it was my great surprise when I was not greeted by a “realistic” looking spirit, but a great big stag made of dimly glowing light (I found a picture on Google). And when given the chance to speak, all he said was “Why do you seek that which cannot be found?” He nudged a small present (yellow box, red ribbon) towards me and inside it was hope, glowing like sunshine. And then he was gone.

Stag spirit animalOdd, I thought. And very peculiar-because I hadn’t really been searching for anything. So I asked a couple of spiritual leaders I trust, and they were helpful, but nothing really *stuck* so I waited a week or so and tried again. This time, it was the same stag, made of light. The meditation exercise I was listening to mentioned finding out their name, and I asked. “My name is Snow Falls Slowly on the Mountain” he said. “So it has been found, She Who Guides the Water.” That was the name he gave to me. I thought that was pretty nifty, thanked him for coming to me and ended my meditation.

So where does that leave me? Well, I’ve had some time to get everything sorted, and I think I have some answers.

That which I seek: myself
What cannot be found: the perfect version of myself, which fits into each niche perfectly
What I found: the perfect version of myself that I need, the one I deserve to love.
It took until today, when the storms rolled across the sky that I understood why he called me She Who Guides the Water. It’s the storms.
Yellow=creativity. Red=passion.
The stag of light is symbolic of a great change coming, a shift in life meant to be interpreted as a call to preparation.

I thought this was probably the nicest spiritual milestone I’ve come across. And I’m sure there are people out there who would love to break it down, as though my spiritual journey weren’t valid. It is, though. And I don’t want to spoil it, but I had a dream this morning about the specificity of that shift, and let’s just say, my future is looking bright indeed.

And what’s more? My application for the new apartment (or lease is just about up in this one) was approved-without a cosigner. Turns out, when I stop panicking every second of every day, life lets me focus on the positives. I have less than 3 weeks to get everything set for moving because ready or not, my life is changing.

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I’m probably going to do a double-post today. The next one will be more structured, more typical of “me”. But we’ll see I suppose. Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

What NO ONE Talks About

So I know that I’ve been pretty rant filled and political and those sorts of things, but I firmly believe it is for good reason. My goal each time I post something along the lines of Kesha or Bernie or even Suicide Awareness is that more people will become aware of some of the issues of today and take action. I will not apologize for my “editorials”, nor for the motives behind them. But today, i am both taking a personal and an activist stance for something that I believe needs to be addressed: menstruation.

Thaaaaat’s right, your favorite gift from the great mother, the one that turns your girlfriend, wife, mother or sister into a cranky, bloated, bleeding stressball once a month. But as always, that’s only one way to look at it.I’m here to bring some facts, some interesting thoughts and some ideas to the crimson issue.

moon

Menstruation, or moon time has been revered throughout the ages as a source of power for women. It is with this flushing of the uterus that many women have been accused of sorcery, devil worship and all sorts of magicks. It’s my favorite time to be a woman.

WHAT?

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That’s right. It’s my favorite thing about being a woman. No man on earth can do it, that makes it unique to my biological sex. And having a period is a sign of health. If you are malnourished, or have an eating disorder, chances are menstruation is one of the first things that stops.And you know what else? I find it empowering that I can survive bleeding each month and not dying. It makes me feel like a fierce viking warrior woman who’s just come from battle. Seriously. I see absolutely ZERO shame in my “monthly”. But here are some things you may not be aware of.

hygiene

Around the world, being a menstruating female is a bad thing. ” In rural Nepal, a similar practice occurs, where women are not allowed in their homes for fear that the gods will become angry and put a curse on the home and family leading to illness and problems.” (1) Small Mali villages have NO access to feminine hygiene products, and neither do villages in Senegal, Tanzania (it’s increasing here!), Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Guatemala, and a number of other countries with limited access. (2) And here in the United States? The impoverished aren’t afforded the luxury of feminine hygiene products, as “the food stamp programs in most US states do not even consider menstrual hygiene products as “essential items” (1). “Many girls are terrified by their first period. Because they lack  information, many girls believe they are ill or dying when they first menstruate.” (1) A year’s supply of tampons and pads costs upwards of $70 (3)!

I personally think it’s a little higher, depending on where you live and how much stuff you have to go through each month. $6.99 for a 36 count of Tampax Pearls, $4.39 for a 50 count of Kotex liners and $3.19 for a 22 count Always Maxi Pad (4). You’re supposed to change a pad every 3-4 hours, and a tampon every 4-8 hours. Suppose you have a 7 day period. (It’s math time!) And most of the time, if your flow is heavy, you use both a tampon and a pad, if not two tampons. (just keep that in mind, I’m getting there).

1 day of light bleeding

5 days of moderate to heavy bleeding

1 day of light bleeding

(and let’s be honest, add 2 more days of liners JUST IN CASE something happens)

So in total: 4 days of “light” and 5 days of “moderate to heavy”.

4 days * 24 hours = 96 hours / 4 hours = 24 times to change a pad (light days don’t need both pads and tampons)

5 days* 24 hours =120 hours / 4 hours =30 times to change BOTH.

So for ONE month you use: 24 liners, 30 pads and 30 tampons.

With the size boxes that I looked at, you’ll need to buy a grand total of about 11 months’ worth of “stuff” So the last bit of math is:

(11*6.99)+(11*4.39)+(11*3.19)=$160.27 USD (a little more than TWICE the quoted cost.)

That is NOT okay. For being a woman, who by the way has no choice over the matter to have or not have a period, that is a LOT of money to spend. And not to mention, do you know how much waste tampons and pads make? No? Well let me tell you.

“According to the new book Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of “pads, plugs, and applicators” in her lifetime.” (5)

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And now we reach the “story part”. So I had heard all of the information, and I knew that I really care for the environment, but I had never really thought about how something as basic as puberty might be destroying the earth. I mean, you literally don’t think about it. You just think, “Oh, well, I must bleed for a week, better not wear anything that might get damaged.” and go about your day. So on a coffee date one day, I walked past a CVS and decided I was going to do my part. Cue the DivaCup (6). I’d heard about these as a pretty recent fad, I figured they were just something that someone had thought up. And then it hit my news feed about the girl who got TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) for leaving a tampon in too long and I decided I needed to know what the craze was all about.

I have to admit, the first time using it was a little…frustrating. I didn’t know what I was doing, I felt kinda silly and I couldn’t get it right. But. A little research goes a long way. I found a fold, I managed to figure it all out, and now I’m saving myself so much money. AND I’m saving the environment.

blood

But that’s not enough. I have to be part of the message. We have to make menstruation something that’s talked about, something that women don’t have to be ashamed of. Did you know that’s the number one reason girls in impoverished countries drop out of school? Here’s a quote from a girl in Uganda:

“I used to use cloths that I would cut from my old T-shirts to keep the blood from staining my dresses, but they were not enough and blood would still stain my clothes,” she told a local NGO that visited her school to teach her how to make reusable pads.

“Boys used to laugh at me and I eventually simply stayed home whenever my periods started.” (7)

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Seriously. If we are going to end poverty, end gender inequality, we have to start talking about stuff like periods. Women should not feel ashamed that they are healthy. And they shouldn’t miss class because they have no access to hygiene products. Pads and tampons are not a luxury. Water is not a luxury. Education is not a luxury. We have to speak out.

Sources:

(1): Dignity Period

(2): Lipgloss and A Backpack

(3): New York Times

(4): Google Shopping For Hygiene

(5): Slate

(6): DivaCup

(7): Girl Effect

How Beautiful is the Rain

In a post that got deleted before it was published, I talked about how I was tired of the concrete jungles, the greys of the world and how I needed a chance to reconnect to the earth, to feel the grass in my toes and to find a balance in my soul. I grew solemn, the chance of that happening becoming increasingly apparent that I would have to wait. And I resolved myself to the fact that I would take a trip to a park or something. I knew I had to find a way out.

Sometimes you find a quote in your life that really impacts you-even if you don’t know it yet. For me, that quote came from the movie V for Vendetta. Evey had just come out of her captivity  and walked out on to the balcony with the line:

God is in the rain.

And when the thunder rolled in to my little apartment, the clouds growing darker and the skies hiding from the sun, I realized that my moment had come. I took the dog out quickly, before the thunder became too much and then I left him inside with my husband and ran outside. The lightning struck, the thunder rolled and the rain began to pour in waves. And the smile on my face could not have been any bigger. Now I am completely aware of the dangers of being outside in a storm, but I have danced with the lightning for years, and I do not believe that the thunder beings will hurt me. That’s a personal belief-not delusions.

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I realized that Evey was right. God is in the rain. And as I stood there, getting soaked through, I talked to him (and her). I asked and they answered. I thanked them for bringing me happiness, for finding a way to make me understand that I wasn’t alone. That I had the strength within me to battle my demons, to make a new start and to find my hope-wherever I put it.

For whatever reason, it became unacceptable for adults to dance in the puddles. There was an age when it was no longer what “ladies” do. But I have to be honest, each time the rain pours down, I feel myself being cleansed of all of the negativity and the anguish and the stress that I felt and being made new. And the thing is, I know to others I look silly. I look like I’m immature and irresponsible and wacky. But the way I see it, the only one who can decide if I’m being silly is me. And if dancing in the rain is how I communicate with my gods, then no one can take that away from me.

Rain

This past week has been rough. I’ve been dealing with some things that shall remain private, and it’s put some stress on my husband who has had to endure late night talks into the wee hours of the dawn and the constant need for help. He’s been a real hero about it and with his help, I rise stronger each time. So by the time the rain fell, I knew that it was sent for me.

I called and they heard me.

What an Effing Nightmare

I’m fat is the stupidest sentence on the whole damn planet. I am not a blob of blubber, just as I am not strep throat or bipolar. I have those things (except for strep-I have had but do not currently). Anywho, I have spent over a decade telling myself this stupid sentence. If you notice, I have no pictures of myself on this blog, I have maybe 3 selfies on Instagram and overall, I really don’t do photographs. But why? Because I’m still trying to figure out how to define myself according to rules which are not that sentence.

  (This picture drives me crazy. At least we’re active, dammit.)

 I have fat. Mostly a lot of it. It’s kind of a big deal. And I hate it. I’ve been weaning myself off of soda (Dr. Pepper is my weakness), and I added a small but intense workout to my daily routine. It’s planks, wall sits and low cardio. And I have chosen to be open and honest about it. Not because I want you all to laugh at me, but because I have a message that others need to hear.

  (These aren’t me, but I think they’re a pretty solid representation of the parts that I keep hidden.)

 I decided I’d had enough of being fluffy. I want to look healthy, not like I do now. I feel embarrassed, and it’s a great source of sadness. I made myself this way, but I also didn’t. I was put on the birth control that allows for 3 periods a year because mine were really painful. And while I was on that birth control, I gained 80 pounds. That’s 4 times more than I gained from mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. I stress ate and that didn’t help at all. But after that, I continued to be large and in charge. Only I wasn’t in charge. I was out of control.

  But what is it that I ate? Salads mostly. And coffee, soda, pizza, spaghetti. My calorie intake was between 1300 and 1600 per day, over half of that was drinks. I ordered low fat coffee from Starbucks if I chose to get anything other than tea. Even now, I eat maybe twice a day, I drink coffee like it’s going out of stock and I drink water, between 2 and 3 bottles a day (unless it’s a hard day and then only 1-which is bad, I know). My calorie intake recently has been between 1400 and 1650, with most of it being creamer and dinner. My breakfast is usually peanut butter toast. Is it super healthy? No. But I should not be obese.

Did that word startle you? It did me too. But it isn’t a death sentence unless you make it so. Which is where we find me this past week. I decided I was far too stressed and I was going to try to get into a regular workout routine. And so far, I’m doing great. But it’s because I know the shitty parts have to end sometime.

  (This is a plank. It’s also called pain.)

 It started out just feeling tired. I felt like my body was at the point of sheer exhaustion. Then came the nausea, the light headedness and the muscle pain. The latter I had expected but the first two I hadn’t. This came on slow and then got worse the more days that passed. Fast forward to today (Okay fine. Today is day 3, but I’m trying darn it!) and I feel like I can only keep water down. Food turns my stomach, I feel really icky on the inside and my muscles are aware that I mean business. And it was in that line of thought that I recalled watching several seasons of The Biggest Loser a few years back. A lot of the people were really sick while they were beginning their workout routines. I remember watching an episode where the woman had to keep stopping to puke because her body was detoxing.

  I brought this up to my husband and he reminded me that I hate eating fast food and that I always get salads and I should be fine. But the thoughts persisted. He asked if I wanted him to work out with me and I said:

No. It’s embarrassing.

He then asked why it was embarrassing that I was making myself into a better me. I shook my head and got down to business. 

  But really. Why is it that I felt like it was embarrassing that I struggle? I’m doing something. I’m trying, which is more than I can say for the old me. It’s really hard. I feel sick, my tummy hurts (because I’ve been doing abs) and I feel all around like a big ball of crap. But I’m already more dedicated than I was in the past, because I’m pushing through the pain and working out anyway. And yes, I still feel a little embarrassed that I can only hold a wall sit for a minute and a half before it feels like someone is sawing off my thighs or that I can only hold a plank for 30 seconds before my flabby arms buckle from stress. But you know what? I’m doing something about it. And maybe today I will go for 2 minutes straight, or learn how to use an elliptical. And the fact that I’m still trying is worth more than the pain.

  

Or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

What I want people to take away from this, more than anything is that it’s hard. Change always is. And we can sit around waiting for life to correct the travesties it has enacted upon us or we can get up and kick it in the face. I really hate working out. I hate running, I hate lifting, I hate all of it. But I’m not doing all this because I really want to look at the number on the scale and smile. I am, we are so much more than a number. I want to look myself in the eyes in the mirror and be attracted to myself. I want to learn how to take myself out on dates, and have the confidence to walk into the mall and get my hair done or my nails (am I even that person?!) without feeling like everyone is staring at me because my stomach is round. I want you to take away that this sucks worse than anything I’ve ever purposefully done to myself, but I turn my music up that much louder and scream over how much it hurts. Because if I want to be around to see all my reams come true, or to survive the zombie apocalypse, I’m going to need to practice my roar.

  

(I would like to thank Google for always having the pictures I need to make my point.)

I wish to be a duck

I had this thought on the way to work today and I tried to reason it out. I could not, were I a water fowl, live in safety. There are humans who bring their guns to kill me, there are animals who bring their teeth and claws for the sole purpose to eat me or my children, there are humans who fill my home with waste and sewage, making it impossible for me to live a healthy life.

But.

There is a layer of fat, which causes me to be warm. There are always other birds with which to herald out the news. There are feathers, which would, at a moment’s notice, carry me off to anywhere I please, without so much as a thought about money, security or planning. There is no lack of colors with which I am covered, some changing hue in the irridescence of the sun. There are ponds, like the one at which I currently perch, that I may bathe freely. There are trees to shelter me, to feed me. 

I could be free.

  
But then my thoughts return to the present, and I am caught with two legs and a heart filled with hope. I would give it all up, everything I hold dear, to free my heart, to free myself from these constraints of gravity. I would soar above the clouds and straight into bliss, for that is where I truly belong, not stuck here with my shoes in the earth, smelling the decay of the leaves and whispering to the squirrels that come to me for sustinance. But here I am, smiling as they sing the song of my people, trumpeting like downy angels. One day, my fellow travelers, I shall join you in the sky. But until then, perhaps I will find contentment in just breathing the same air.

I’m not suffering from delusions, but as Alice herself once said, “I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Truly though, would it not be fantastic to be a thing with cares so few and the power of wings?

In other news, I would also like to be a mermaid, but I seem to lack fins and that rant is for another day to come.

Thankfulness, Day 19

Nineteen is my favorite number. And although there are loads of things which are my favorite, I thought today’s post should be something special. So here goes.

Cool, crisp flowing sweetly

The hum of nature’s course

No one could ever deny the power

Of the unending force.

Maybe I should have done something a little more awesome. Like just come out and yell I FREAKING LOVE WATER.

But then again, maybe that doesn’t quite get it right either.

So today’s post is about water. There’s a quote (not sure who by) that goes something like “All things can be healed with salt water: sweat, tears or the ocean.” I love this quote, because for me, it is the most basic truth. Water is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s also the calmest of calms. It’s transformative and stationary. And water is magickal. As always, I have a story.

Once upon a time, I went to North Myrtle Beach. It was rainy the entire time, but that wasn’t so bad. From the parking garage, I could smell the salt water. It was something I had never before experienced. But my time was only just beginning. The first day we (myself and the group) went out to the ocean’s edge and I took a deep breath before removing my shoes and bolting for the water. It was freezing. But as the human body is a marvel, I acclimated and began to swim. I have a loose interpretation of swimming, as I didn’t go far-maybe 30ft.

It was the second day, when I woke up to see the sun, which led me to the most spiritual experience of my life. It’s my favorite story of all times. It was rainy, the waves were huge and not many people were out. I went (with a buddy) out in to the water, and just let myself drift. I went until I was nearly as far out as the boats and just stopped. My feet could not touch the bottom, the current was moving all around me and I have absolutely no idea how to swim (apart from keeping my head above water). I stopped and just began to breathe. Words cannot describe how it felt to be part of that moment. I sent out a prayer to the universe and just existed. My internal hum matched the roar of the waves and my heart thudded with each crash. I looked at the sky, smelled the salt and reached the closest thing to unadulterated bliss I may ever know. I looked back at the shore and couldn’t see the way people looked at the sea, or the way their hair was done or hear what they were saying. I was so far out that it felt like it was just the ocean and I. In that moment, I understood what life meant, and it really just wasn’t any more complicated than being alive. (Very zen, I know.) It sounds really crazy, but it’s exactly what I thought being religious would feel like. You know, the people always say they felt enraptured and convicted and moved? That’s only eclipsing how I felt in that moment. I went to sleep that night and the sound of the waves filled my ears and as I focused on my breathing, it was like the ocean was inside me too. 

Anyway, the story is much better in person. My point is that I never knew how powerful water could be until I was there, in that moment. And I am surrounded by water all day. Water bottles, water fountains, dishwater, toilet water, all kinds of things. But do I even appreciate it?

I started to after that moment. How many people do not have access to clean water? What kinds of trials do they face? How much water is wasted? How are we at 2015 and there are still people who have to choose between drinking water and taking a bath? I’m sorry the world has let you down. It’s time to rise up. Everyone deserves clean water. Everyone.