Monday, October 21, 2013

ritual in community

I'm pagan - I lean toward the nature worshipper/shaman/druid side of paganism if you are looking for a label or two. I believe much of life and many of the things I do in it are ritual of a sort. Knitting, spinning, listening to music, cooking, etc. all have their places in my spirituality. I try very hard to be mindful in the things I do because that mindfulness opens me up to gratitude which helps open me up to the Divine in all things. That is my religion - love, hope and gratitude.

I've had a very varied and personal spiritual journey and I do not regret any of it. I'm where I am now and who I am now because of the various spiritual paths I have journeyed for a time. I've explored my spirituality publicly and privately, though recently my journey has been very solitary.

I've had the distinct pleasure, in the last month or so, to join some other very special people in public ritual on a couple of occasions. I used to be part of a wonderful group of people in community and I drifted away from them and until I had the chance to spend some time with them again, I hadn't realized how much I missed being part of a community.

I miss my friend Jenn terribly, but I wouldn't change a moment of the past year we had together. Not only was I lucky enough to reconnect with her, but I was welcomed into and became part of a wonderful community of folks who came together to support her and each other as she journeyed toward death. Now she has moved on and some of us have found ways to support each other and celebrate her.

I miss her and I still hurt, but I'm so very grateful that Jenn came back into my life and reminded me how important community is. Not only that, but she showed me that I'm worthy of being part of a community - I do have something to offer. If nothing else I have hope and love to share.

I miss celebrating the Divine with a group of like minded people. I miss learning about myself and my surroundings with others. I miss teaching through my experience and self. Perhaps it's time for me to find some time for myself to spend with others again.  Maybe it's time to slowly begin to allow myself to trust.

Monday, October 14, 2013

social networking

Halloween is coming up and one of my online communities on Facebook is having a Halloween party celebrating one of our favorite couples Chrolli. I'm pretty excited to spend some time with my friends celebrating together, sharing videos, pictures and stories. As a matter of fact I'm considering writing some fanfiction for the occasion myself.

I'm very active on Facebook and have come to appreciate the friendships I've developed. Many of them were found through communities like my Chrolli community. I have found some of my closest friends through groups that follow gay couples in the international television viewing audience. I consider myself very lucky to have found them. Especially those I've met through Chrolli (Christian and Olli from VL) and DeRo (Deniz and Roman from AWZ). These two fictional couples from German television have introduced me to people that have stuck through me through some of the most challenging times of my life.

I've also been lucky enough to have people from my spiritual/pagan community come forward when I was suffering. These are some of my few local friends and my day to day contact with them is also through the internet. I interact most often with people, even if it's just sharing pictures and quotes with each other, online. I know I can reach out to them to ask for support of a spiritual and mental nature and they will be there for me and allow me to be there for them.

One of the things that strikes me about social networking and the way I now interact with people is that when I'm tempted to pull away from life, I have these people's influence in my living room staring me in the face. It's harder to cut myself off from others now. That seems kind of counter intuitive I admit, but it's the truth. I've been hurt by people who I considered friends in the recent past and pulled away from almost all my friends because of it. Facebook has kept me in contact with people and has even led me back to people from my past that still care about me. I wouldn't know that they still wanted to be in my life if it wasn't for the internet. I'd be completely alone with just beloved hubby and my kids to count on.

The flip side to this is that I've started to have a hard time interacting with people physically in person. I just don't know how to act - how to talk to people. This is one of the drawbacks I guess. There needs to be a balance I suppose, but to be honest, if it wasn't for social media, specifically Facebook, I probably wouldn't interact with others at all. I'd only interact with my immediate family and the strangers I come in contact with in the supermarket, the farm market and the yarn store.

I'm truly grateful for my friends on Facebook both local and from far away. I'm grateful that Facebook brought me back to my friend Jenn so that I could be there for her the last year of her life. I was also lucky enough to reconnected with others from that support system. I'm blessed, truly.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Today I'm feeling invisible. The alarming part is that I feel as if I deserve to be invisible. I'm not sure where these feelings of inadequacy are coming from. I went to an internet OA meeting today and that seemed to help. At least I didn't feel so alone.

I've really distanced myself from most of the people in my life over the last couple of years, so I suppose this feeling of being lonely is my own fault. Most of my relationships with friends now occur online and while I'm thankful for those friendships, right now I just need a hug. My friend Jenn was one of the few people I've been able to open up to a bit and now she is gone.

I guess part of me feels as though I don't deserve to have any friends. I'm spending a lot of time in self reflection and that means in my experience beating myself up. Now, I know there are wonderful things about me, but I'm doubting all of them not to mention just having a hard time remembering them.

I've worked hard over the last few years to battle and win against depression. These feelings remind me very much of that battle. My usual tools just aren't cutting it. Maybe my grief is just overshadowing my feelings of self worth. I need to remember that I'm allowed to be sad and that doesn't mean I'm going to automatically sink into depression.

All I want to do recently is knit and watch movies and tv shows on Netflix.  On one hand I'm almost done with a sweater for myself, but on the other my interactions with my family and few friends is strained.

I seem to have lost my ability to interact normally with people and that bothers me. I've become painfully shy and if folks aren't willing to come to me I'm not likely to interact at all. When did this happen? It snuck up on me over the last few years.

I'm so grateful for my family. My beloved husband and my beautiful children keep me going. They remind me that I have a beautiful heart that it knows how to love unconditionally. Now I'm going to go back to my knitting cuz that's all I really want to do.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

knitting as a spiritual practice

As most of you know a dear friend passed over recently and I've been grieving. I'm sort of still in a weird place. Yesterday was my birthday and I started a post for all of you and then just had to abandon it because I just wasn't in the right head space. That led me to think about how I've been coping and what has helped to keep my grounded. I realized that the thing I've been counting on most is my knitting.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Knitting, a spiritual practice? Yes. Knitting keeps the hands busy and leaves the mind open to other things. The repetitive motion can lower the heart rate and bring one close to a meditative state. With all the feelings that have been coursing through my body and mind, I've found myself almost constantly knitting while I think about my feelings and about my dear friend and her family and friends.

I was working on a pair of socks when she passed. Here they are

I call them my Jenn socks because they are purple, her favorite color, and knitting them helped me cope with losing her. She also really loved receiving hand knit socks from me so there is that connection as well. I think she'd like them and I'm planning on wearing them to her celebration of life party this coming Sunday. I love them - they are toasty and soft and I probably would have given them to her for her upcoming birthday.

After those I immediately started a cowl that I use as a sort of topless hat to hold back my dreads, then I knit some socks for my daughter.

For my birthday yesterday my beloved husband took me to the yarn shop to buy yarn for a sweater for me. Here it is:

I'm already over half way done with the first sleeve - I always start with a sleeve - I use it as a gauge swatch so I don't feel as those I've wasted time knitting on something other than my project, but I can still easily pull it out and start over if my gauge is off. (gauge is the size of the stitches for those of you who may be interested)

Anyway, I think I'm babbling a bit. Back to the point. Knitting has been an important hobby for me for years now - I had to give up for awhile because of carpal tunnel, but I had surgery and can knit again. I'm so glad I can. Right now I spend a lot of time hanging out with the kids, listening to music (I just got a Michael Franti album - Jenn's favorite) and knitting. I think about my feelings, about my friends and I process my grief and in the end I have a beautiful handmade object that personifies my feelings, actions and thoughts. It's pretty profound for me. These handknit items are like living prayers and I'm so grateful to them for helping me through a challenging time in my life.