Dear Ladybug – 7/11/2014

thumb pulling up Ace of Hearts from a stack of playing cards

The image above is by Alan Cleaver.

READY FOR MORE

DEAR LADYBUG: So, I’m happily married and was also in a happy secondary relationship until recently. I’m having trouble getting over being dumped. Any advice to move forward? I’ve done some personal ritual, I have super supportive friends, and gave myself an appearance upgrade to help my self-esteem. I accept that this person and I are not getting back together. What now? It’s only been a few weeks, but I feel like I need to *do* something to move forward… Should I try online dating? Take more time to heal and clean out my closets? Let people know I’m looking? Ask someone out (I have no one currently in mind)? Help! — Heartbroken but Hopeful in Alameda, CA

DEAR HEARTBROKEN BUT HOPEFUL: First, I’d like to give you and your spouse kudos for staying happy while working together to tackle the frontier of polyamory. From what I’ve seen, this is a lifestyle that can be difficult to navigate due to it’s lack of normative societal role models and conventions, so I’m very glad to hear that you two are in a good place together. Also, I’m relieved to hear that you have “super supportive friends.” Between your spouse and your friends, it sounds like you have plenty of emotional support, which is just wonderful. Since you have so much love and support in your life, and since it sounds like you are doing due diligence towards your personal self care, I say go ahead and look for a new romance if you feel you want one. If you were trying to fill a void in yourself or seeking external validation, I’d caution you to turn inwards to self healing instead, but you sound ready to me. Looking for romance is a very personal endeavor. We are all so different in our tastes, needs and inclinations. Therefore, the best advice I can give is to do whatever feels fun and exciting towards that end (while remaining safe and on good terms with your partner, of course). If online dating seems like an intriguing adventure, go for it! If talking about it with people feels refreshing or useful, then gab away. Go with your gut instincts. Within you, you hold the compass to your own best path here, and your emotions will tell you when to strike while the iron is hot. If and when you feel fear, ask yourself whether this is the voice of caution keeping you safe, or whether it’s really the anticipation of change and new discovery quickening your pulse. If it’s the latter, go ahead and stretch yourself a little, reaching into the newness. That’s how adventurers find new lands, by pressing forward into the mystery, even when it’s a little awkward or frightening. As you seek and find that person who adds this desired dimension of love to your life, remember to remain in a state of attunement with and gratitude for your spouse, who is being steadfast in devotion. While getting dumped is never fun for anyone, it’s important to remind yourself whenever needed that you do have ample evidence of just how extremely lovable you are.

♥ Mama Ladybug

 

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Do you have a question for me about your life, my life or something random? Perhaps you want to know something about modern Paganism? Please submit your question here. Answers go live every Friday unless I get distracted by shiny objects.

 

Poll Results: Storytime!

Hi friends,

Last Friday, I posted a poll asking you all what I should write about next.  Since the first option (“Tell us about your online dating experiences so far”) was the juiciest, I figured that one would win.  It would have, actually, except someone out there… and I’m dying to know who… took the opportunity to play with the poll (as I welcomed you all to do so if you liked) and voted 10 times for me to write a fictional story.  I’m pretty sure it was the same person, anyway, since all the votes happened within 4 minutes of each other.  Here’s what it looked like on my end:

extra responses

 

Sorry, friends.  I know I said I’d add any extra responses to the poll so that you all could see them and vote again if you wanted to.  My follow through is not all that it could be, and, despite the best of intentions, sometimes I… ooh, shiny object!  Anyway, despite my distracted nature, this person managed to win the poll anyway simply by putting in a response over and over.  Whoever you are… you made my day!  All the warm and fuzzy feelings… so nice…  Someone likes my writing!  Yay!

Here’s what the final tally looks like…

the votes

 

So, there you have it.  Now, I just have to decide what to write about.  Do you have an idea?  Feel free to comment down below…

♥ Mama Ladybug

 

 

What’s New, Mama? (Poll!)

 

Cat wearing a slice of bread around its face

Breaded Cat. Image courtesy of pinguino k.

Hi friends,

While I’m here paying attention to my blog after a month of absence, it seemed like a good time to do another poll.  So… for all of you who like to get updates… what would you like to know?  I’ll write about it this weekend.  This poll closes Sunday at noon.  You can vote as many times as you want to for as many answers as you want to.  Also, you can add an answer of your own choosing if you like.  As soon as I see it, I’ll make sure everyone else can see it too, so you might want to check back from time to time in case there are new options to pick.  :)

 

♥ Mama Ladybug

 

 

 

Dear Ladybug – 6/27/2014

Hi friends,

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the “every Friday” Dear Ladybug schedule.  I’m not always the most consistent of all people, but I do LOVE writing this column.  So, here are the questions that have been marinating in my inbox for a month (so sorry!)…

comic showing mom trying to juggle cooking, childcare and work.

It’s hard to juggle everything.

CAREER MAMAS PLANNIN’ DA BABIES

DEAR LADYBUG:  I am a mother and I have always been a career woman.  My wife wants to go to nursing school and work on having more children at the same time.  I think this is a terrible idea.  I think we should wait until she is done with school.  But she insists it will be fine.  I don’t think that is true.  I don’t want to feel like a single parent.  – Career Mama in California

DEAR CAREER MAMA:  Hmm…  there are a lot of variables to consider when deciding whether or not to try for a baby.  One of these, as you know, is having enough time in the day to be a mom, wife, career woman, student, whatever and still get enough R&R to remain somewhat sane.  Based on your question, I have to assume that you are looking at all of these variables in your life together and you can see that they wouldn’t add up to a happy life if you introduced a new baby.  I’d say trust your wisdom here.  Adding a baby to an already stressful life can lead to depression and divorce, especially in cases of maternal isolation or financial strain.  My only caveat to this is to mention that if, for whatever reason (age, compromise, etc), you want to think about this some more with your wife, ask yourself how many people might be available to help you out so that you don’t feel all alone.  If you have family, blood or chosen, or close friends at the ready to be a part of this potential baby’s life, it might not be so bad.  That said, it is so much easier to go to school when there is no squalling newborn keeping you up all night, making it impossible to sleep and learn, and when there’s no daycare to pay for in addition to tuition.  It seems sensible to me to finish school first then have fun making da babies in a more relaxed, enjoyable and sustainable context.  It’s sweet, though, that she’s so ready to do this with you.  It says a lot about her high opinion of you and your relationship together, so offer your rebuttal to her with infinite tenderness, please.

♥♥♥

smoked ribs

Yummmmmy…..

SMOKIN’ GOOD TIMES

DEAR LADYBUG:  First off, I want to apologize, for I am going to make you hungry again. I L<3VE Pork Ribs. I really do! I like to take a slab of pork ribs and rub them down with my own special blend of rub. Then I smoke the pork ribs with hickory wood chunks for 5 to 6 hours. At the end, I brush on my home BBQ sauce. I put a lot of TLC into the ribs. Unfortunately, my wife don’t like ribs of any kind. To smoke and BBQ ribs is a long process. You must tend to the wood, check temperatures, and keep the water in the pan from boiling away. Given the cost of the hickory and work I put into these ribs, it is not feasible to smoke only a half slab. Eating the whole rack of ribs in a single sitting or the next day is way too much meat for me. I also tend to smoke foods when I know no company comes over. So Mama Ladybug… What should I do? — Smoked Out of Ribs, Cast Iron Sidhe in Crockett, CA.

DEAR CAST IRON SIDHE:  Throw a party!  Invite friends or family over and make a day out of it.  You can, for example, have an “open house” all afternoon and evening and let people swing by as they are able.  Just make sure to explain about the process and what you are serving in the invitation.  Drooling friends will crawl out of the woodwork to taste those yummy ribs.  Hey, you know, the 4th of July is coming up.  What’s better than smoked ribs, sparklers and beer?  If that won’t work, you could always bring them to someone else’s party or to a potluck.  Most meat eaters will be amazed and grateful for the contribution, especially if you explain what you did to make the ribs so crazy good.  While you’re at it, though, make a little something special just for your lovely wife, something you know she will enjoy, just so that she knows you think the world of her and want her to be happy (not feeling left out) in the midst of all the rib chow down.

♥♥♥

Well, that’s it for today!  Do you have any comments on the advice given above?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  Also, if you have a question for Dear Ladybug, here’s the place to submit it.  You can ask about anything at all regarding your life, my life or just the world in general.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do some research or pull a tarot card for you.  Answers go live on Fridays, and you stay anonymous!

♥ Mama Ladybug

 

 

 

Dear Ladybug – 5/30/2014

toddler in a cauldron

Be sure to remove toddlers from the pot before firing it up.

Cooking up some love…

DEAR LADYBUG:  I want to buy a large size “cauldron” style legged cast iron cooking pot. The only current version of these pots are the South African kind that are called “Potjie”. They are great for cooking a one pot/oven large meal for large groups (2 gal) to a small village (20 gal). You can roast meats and veggies together or use it for a large pot of “wet” food such as beans, stews, gumbo, etc. My problem is that I need a large group of people to cook for. Without a large group of people I can’t buy the large cast iron pot. Too add to the problem I need a fire pit to actually use one. See the dilemma? Please help my dilemma. — The Cast Iron Sidhe in Crockett, CA

a potjie from sqpr.net

a potjie from sqpr.net

DEAR CAST IRON SIDHE:  You are a sidhe after my own heart!  I myself cook primarily on cast iron skillets.  Ah, the beauty and timeless wonder of cast iron…  Your vision of cooking for the masses in this cauldron style pot sounds delicious, fascinating and economical.  It’s easy to imagine the casual but heartfelt bonding that could happen over a weekend camping trip focused around the medleys in your cooking pot.  

lots of food made in a potjie pot

Yum!

Finding a group of people shouldn’t be too difficult, since it sounds like you’re offering to cook and feed them, yes?  Everyone needs to eat, and the “exotic” nature of the pot should draw people out of sheer curiosity.  If your current selection of friends and loved ones isn’t adequate to the party you have in mind, you still have options.  For instance, you could meet people in the Bay Area Creative Cooking Meetup group and attend their outdoor BBQ large-scale picnic, or suggest a day of cast iron cooking outdoors together.  You could even start a new Meetup group based around cast iron cooking.  Another option would be to use Craigslist to search for other CI aficionados or to organize events.  I suspect, however, that your current network of people could probably work, since it’s yummy food we’re talking about here.  

Have you ever heard of burgoo?  Basically, it’s a stew that’s made communally out of whatever is on hand within a small community – especially from local gardens and wildlife (wildlife is obviously optional for most urban people, but for poor rural communities, it would be another story).  Traditionally, it’s a way of feeding a lot of people while preserving the dignity of impoverished families.  Burgoos often are the centerpoint of a social or fundraising event.  You could host a burgoo and use the food to center a larger goal, like a day long event that’s near to your heart.  You could use it as a fundraiser for a charity you admire.  The possibilities are endless, really.  Even if you just had a group of friends donating ingredients to the pot for a day long get together somewhere relaxing, that would be incredibly fun.  

51DGAH6zIkL

The fire pit dilemma has three solutions that I can see.  One is to search for a public venue with a fire pit.  Here is a list of options of places in the SF Bay Area reviewed on Yelp.  You’ll have to research the procedures and restrictions for each place, but at least it looks like there are a lot of places from which to choose.  It appears that the closest option to you is Marina Park in Emeryville.  I’ve been there before and can vouch that it’s a nice place with lovely views.  Another solution is… make a fire pit!  Yeah!  If you have room where you live or if you know someone who does, making a pit would take your project to the next level.  There are oodles of DIY fire pit instructionals online.  If you’re on Pinterest, a quick and dirty search will show you countless tutorials available with step-by-step photos.  Here is a list of 33 DIY fire pit ideas to get the wheels in your mind turning…  Have fun!!!  The last solution is to get one of the portable fire pits like the ones shown above and use it somewhere legal.   

Also, feel free to invite me!  ;-)

Two witches standing over a cauldron... One says "I only use local children."

Just for a laugh…

 

That’s it for this week!  Do you have a question for me about your life or mine?  Topics are up to you, and you stay anonymous.  Answers go live every Friday!  Here’s the form to submit.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

♥ Mama Ladybug

That’s Just Dandy!

Pollination of a dandelion by a bee.  Image courtesy of Guérin Nicolas.

Pollination of a dandelion by a bee. Image courtesy of Guérin Nicolas.

Hi friends,

The other day I made an impulse buy at Alameda Natural Grocery.  Actually, there were a few, which led me to realize I’ve been living beyond my means lately (*sigh*).  However, this one in particular is a real game changer.  It’s a coffee substitute called Dandy Blend.

Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Beverage with Dandelion -- 25 Pouches

Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Beverage with Dandelion — 25 Pouches

Truth be told, I had no idea it’s marketed as a coffee substitute.  Back when I was living with Rabbit, I’d seen it briefly in her kitchen cabinet before she ran out, was intrigued, but never tried it.  She recommended it highly, though.  I have heard that dandelion is supposed to be good for the liver and who knows what else, so I grabbed it off the shelf at the store to finally give this product a whirl.

Ingredients: extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root and beetroot.

Ingredients: extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root and beetroot.

Wow, is it tasty!  As I was drinking it – plain, mind you – I thought to myself…  Gosh, this is just as good as coffee, maybe even BETTER.  It has that… certain something… not just flavor but texture that coffee has.  See, every time I try to quit coffee, I wind up drinking tons of decaf because nothing else in the world seems to have the right grit to it. Once I’m over the caffeine withdrawal, it’s the chewy thickness of coffee that I crave.  No tea ever seems to match it.  No coffee substitute (I’ve tried many) seems to meet it either.  Dandy Blend, on the other hand, really hits the spot!  I see a light at the end of my coffee addiction tunnel!  I can totally picture drinking this stuff instead of coffee because I might actually prefer it.  The caffeine is inconsequential to me, to be honest.  I drink tons of coffee on a daily basis, but once I’m off of it, I don’t miss the caffeine much… just the taste and texture of my comforting hot drink.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Dandy Blend comes in various sizes, from individual serving pouches to 2 lb bags.  It’s also gluten free! My impulse buy was the box of 25 individual packets.  When I finish it, I think I might just get a 2 lb bag, which I’ll split up to keep some at home and some at work.

Dandy Blend 2 lb. Bag

Dandy Blend 2 lb. Bag

If the reviews on Amazon tell us anything, it’s that this product has quite the loyal and fervent customer base.  Have any of you tried this stuff?  Do you like it?  Please tell me all about it in the comments below.  I’d also love to hear about anyone’s journey with caffeine addiction and what you did or are doing to crack down on it.

♥♥♥

And… one last thing… Does anyone have a question for Dear Ladybug?  If so, you can submit questions here.  Answers go live every Friday!

Happy sipping!
♥ Mama Ladybug

 

 

 

Dear Ladybug – 5/23/2014

Hi friends!

Here is this week’s Dear Ladybug column.  I hope you enjoy it and, if so, might consider taking a moment to share it?  Also, if you have a question about your life or mine, please feel free to submit it.  Answers go live every Friday!

♥♥♥

The Conversation by Arnold Lakhovsky, 1935

The Conversation by Arnold Lakhovsky, 1935

DEEP TALKING

DEAR LADYBUG:  I have a problem of coming off very shallow. When in conversation with other people, I tend to talk about myself in the now or just come out with the funnies. In reality, I am a really deep person. I am a very social and deep person. My whole life took a sad twist when I developed a very serious medical problem. Once I was healed, I found myself pretty much taking care of the family. As a result, eight years were lost in my life. So, when I talk to people, I find myself not knowing what to talk about, for there is an eight year void in my life. So please, Mama Ladybug… What should I do so people will not think I am so shallow, when in real life I lost eight years of my life?  Namaste.  – Deep Shallow in Valona, CA

DEAR DEEP SHALLOW:  The best trick to being a great conversationalist is actually to talk about the other person.  The more you can do that, asking questions as you go along, the more the other person will love talking to you.  It’s actually a huge service to the other person.  It’s hard to find someone who can really listen, so if you can be that ear for others, you’ll score big in the conversation points.  Even better, if you can remember the details of what the person said and bring them up the next time you see them, that person will appreciate your listening all the more.  You can develop the skill of remembering the details just like you can develop any other skill.  It never hurts to write stuff down – like, for instance, in your contact notes on your phone – but it’s also helpful just to mentally review what your friend said at random times, which makes your brain wire it in better.  It might sound calculating to some, but it’s actually developing the art of being a good friend and a good conversationalist, so it’s anything but shallow.  In doing all this, you cultivate an atmosphere of sharing and trust, so that when the time comes for them to get curious about your past, you can feel more comfortable talking about what those eight years were like for you.  I’m guessing that, while those years feel largely like a void, there’s still residual thoughts, memories and feelings that are worth sharing with someone who would like to show you that they care.  

♥♥♥

photo of a Wiccan handfasting ritual

Wiccan handfasting ritual – photo by Solar of the ShahMai Network http://www.shahmai.org/

MERRY MEET, MERRY PART AND MERRY MEET AGAIN!

DEAR LADYBUG:  Are Wiccans the only ones that say ‘Merry Meet’, and ‘Merry Part’? — James in California

DEAR JAMES:  Lots of people who identify as Pagan and/or as a witch, but not necessarily as Wiccan, say those words.  Wiccans may well have first coined the phrase, quoting the Wiccan Rede, though I’m not 100% sure about that.  Wicca is a religion unto itself, with history, traditions and ways of doing things.  I myself am what you would call an “eclectic neopagan,” and so are a lot of people I know, which basically means that we amalgamate from various inspirations – like Wicca, at times –  and our own creativity to craft magic however seems right at the time.  It’s very DIY.

Here’s what we usually do in CAYA coven at the end of a ritual.  When everything is all wrapped up and the circle is open, one of the priest/esses says, “The circle is open but unbroken.  May the…,” and whoever wants to chimes in popcorn-style with words like:  Joy!  Love!  Creativity!  Laughter! and so on, and then the priest/ess continues, “… of the Goddess be ever in our hearts.  Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!”  Then a handful of giddy folks run around the middle of the circle widdershins three times while everyone else looks on in amusement.  Then we go eat our cakes and ale.  Good times!  

I’ll bet there are people who will read this who know way more than me about the origins of “Merry meet and merry part.”  Feel free to comment down below!  

♥♥♥

The bronze sculpture Diane appuyée sur un cerf (Diana with a Stag) by Jean Goujon c. 1549 in Nobelparken (the Nobel Park) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The bronze sculpture Diane appuyée sur un cerf (Diana with a Stag) by Jean Goujon c. 1549 in Nobelparken (the Nobel Park) in Stockholm, Sweden.

THE PRESENCE OF DEITY

DEAR LADYBUG:  What types of experiences have you had that have given you firm belief that a particular god/goddess was at hand? (This is a current interest of mine at the moment :-)) — Seeking Deity in California

DEAR SEEKING DEITY:  Here’s a story of an experience like what you’re describing.  The time was early in 2009.  I was soon to be ordained, soon to have my first child, and was looking for a firm sign from a goddess to take as my “Big Mama” goddess in what was then called the Amazon Priestess Tribe but is now the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe.  I didn’t want to just pick someone; I wanted her to pick me, too.  I felt that Diana was the right goddess via my own affinity to her, but I worried that the feelings might not be mutual, or that she might be too remote to take me on.  We the initiates and the Elderflowers (the women who started CAYA Coven) discussed looking for communication from deities in all the myriad ways this might happen to confirm our choices of dedication.  So, one day I asked Diana to show me if she was the right deity, or for the right deity to show herself, and went out into Nature to see what would happen.  My friend had chosen that moment to want to go watch the sunset from the North Bay coastline, so I went along, silently, reverently, telling the Universe that this was the time and the place to get this worked out.  

We parked the car along the road, maybe 15 minutes before the sun would start touching the horizon.  Then we climbed up a grassy hill to get to a utility embankment which we’d thought would make a nice vantage point.  It was that time of day, the golden hour, when everything turns beautiful and rose gold.  The sky was glorious.  Then, a herd of deer approached us out of nowhere, walking right by us without the slightest fear whatsoever.  I looked right into the eyes of one deer, who looked back at me knowingly then continued on with the others.  They were so close… maybe 20 feet away.  My heart just sang from amazement and awe, both of the sheer beauty of Nature and that I’d received a very clear sign.  Diana is definitely associated with deer, and I knew then that she really did want me.  As I sat on the hill and watched the sun go down, my inner voice was singing in delight and gratitude.

♥♥♥

That’s it for this week, friends!  Please share if you liked this.  Have a wonderful long weekend!

♥ Mama Ladybug

Dear Ladybug – 5/16/2014

Hi friends!  Welcome to another edition of Dear Ladybug.  Please feel free to comment down below if you have anything to add to my answers – or if you have any better ideas.  Thanks!

♥♥♥

My Spiritual Practices

CAYA Coven 2014 Daily Practice

CAYA Coven 2014 Daily Practice

DEAR LADYBUG:  What practices do you perform on a regular basis and why? –Anonymous in Alameda, CA

DEAR ANONYMOUS:  There are several, most of which I do as part of my priestess work:

Daily:

  • Ring a bell over my head.  All of the Wildflowers do this.  It is meant to open up our crown chakras and thus help us to receive wisdom.
  • Repeat this affirmation three times while looking in a mirror:  “I am brilliant, beautiful and funny.  I have lots and lots of money.”  Again, this is something that all the Wildflowers do, although our words are our own.  I picked these words to attract their reality.
  • Sing the CAYA Coven 2014 daily practice song.  This is something all the clergy, initiates and aspirants in CAYA do.  It’s like taking one’s spiritual vitamin in that is blesses the singer with so much added life zest, and it also serves to connect us to each other.  Here is a printable for you.
  • Recite my Bloodroot Honey self-blessing.  This is a way of ramping up my body’s vibration and expressing my gratitude to be alive and kicking.  Here is a printable version in case you or anyone has use for it.  All of the Bloodroot Honey priestesses have a self blessing that they recite daily or regularly.
  • Sibling practice.  I have the honor of having a little sister this year who is initiating in CAYA (hi, Lisa!).  All the big/little sibs have a practice together during the initiatory year.  Since we are both moms with a lot of demands on our time and attention, we both do an act of self care every day and while doing so, bless each other with R&R.  This way, we remember to take care of ourselves and increase each other’s benefit.
  • Tell my kids I love them and am grateful for them.  I do this every day without fail.  It’s not something I have to work to remember to do, unlike everything else I just listed – it just happens spontaneously and naturally.  However, it’s so very important that I’m including it here in this list.

Weekly:

I used to have weekly practices for all of my deities, but, to be honest, since I moved, I don’t keep them up anymore.  Therefore, I won’t describe them here, since that would be sort of dishonest at this point.  If and when this changes, I’ll write about it down the road.

Monthly:

At every dark moon for a year, I’m committed to doing personal magical work as part of my Advanced Wildflowers initiation.  You can read more about this here, here and here.  I plan to post my next update for this past dark moon tomorrow, so stay tuned!

♥♥♥

Lonely Traveler

suitcase with stickers

DEAR LADYBUG:  I’m traveling for work in a foreign country and I have been very lonely in my fancy hotel. There are a lot of barriers – cultural, language, and economic – that come in the way of making close bonds with folks outside of work. And of course, it’s always tricky to be close friends with people who are either your superiors or whom work under you. I’ve made one new, platonic female friend who is in a similar situation. We’ve had a great time over dinner and breakfast together. She’s leaving tomorrow and I fear that I’m going to be filled with grief and loneliness. I think I should go see the new Godzilla movie with some buddies from work to get my mind off of it. What do you think I should do? — Alone Again in Maharashtra, India

DEAR ALONE AGAIN:  Grief and loneliness are the sort of feelings that don’t easily go under the rug.  Trying to push them aside often just prolongs the pain.  So, go ahead and go watch Godzilla with your buddies, but do it because you’re working on your friendships and building a support network for yourself.  Your situation, extended travelling without a close companion, can magnify feelings of loneliness, but you probably have options you aren’t considering.  For instance, you could ask yourself if there’s anyone back home who would like to hear from you.  Have you talked to your family lately?  Are there any friends or relatives you could chat with on Skype?  Look through your contact list and look for some people who would love a check in.  Another tried and true method for coping with grief and loneliness is looking for people to help.  Could you volunteer where you are?  Watch for people who need assistance throughout your day and do what you can for them.  Have you seen this video?  It illustrates the point well.  Being of service to others goes a long way towards coping with sadness.  Finally, I urge you to do the work needed to feel whole and complete unto yourself.  By that, I do not mean that you should become an island, but instead commit yourself to learning to love and accept yourself, to doing the work needed to address your shadows, and to growing your inner strength.  Then you can develop relationships based on mutual affinity rather than trying to fill an empty spot inside.  No one can fill that hole for you.  You must feed it with your own awareness, growth and inner compassion.  

♥♥♥

Getting Happy in Her Skin

Disco Dancer  by Merlin2525

Disco Dancer by Merlin2525

DEAR LADYBUG:  I’ve had a couple of high stress years trying to balance the demands of full time work, married life, and grad school. I’m finishing grad school and realizing I’ve kind of done a terrible job taking care of myself. There’s been a lot of junk/fast food and many many sedentary hours in front of the computer studying and writing. I feel really uncomfortable in my body, which doesn’t work as well as it did before grad school. I’m fine with how I look, but don’t like feeling sluggish, weak, and sore all the time. I can’t afford fancy diet programs or a gym membership right now and was wondering if you had any advice on how to get my body back into working shape again.  – Unhappy In Her Skin in Crockett, CA

DEAR UNHAPPY IN HER SKIN:  First off, congratulations on finishing grad school!  Wow, that couldn’t have been easy what with working full time and being married, too.  No wonder some things had to go on the back burner.  My advice on getting back into a healthy groove is to start incorporating small, easy changes into your lifestyle, little bit by little bit, in achievable increments.  Here are some ideas:

  • Drink up!  Water, that is.  First and foremost, try to drink enough water every day.  
  • Get your zzz’s.  Did you know that chronic lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and other bodily ailments?  All that work you’ve been doing has cut into your sleep time, most likely.  So, get some much needed time in bed.  Speaking of which…
  • Get on top!  Ahem…  You’ve probably been too tired for romance of the athletic variety.  There’s no time like the present to re-ignite that flame.  Hey, it burns all sorts of calories and gets you back into your body in a very real way.  Go for it!
  • Know your cook.  Eating home-cooked food is a simple yet powerful way to return to a healthier balance.  Whether you cook it yourself or someone else you know makes the magic happen, home cooking goes a long way towards avoiding all the crap that is out there that makes your body miserable.  It’s pretty great for the ol’ pocketbook, too.  Maybe just eat out once a week or so.  You could visit friends for dinner or have friends over to recreate the restaurant fun sometimes, too.
  • Party dance!  While working out for 45 minutes would be nice, let’s be real and admit that fitting that into your schedule regularly at this point might be too much of a stretch or cause burnout.  Instead, finding ways to get moving in short bursts throughout the day whenever an opportunity arises will keep you on your feet and reconnecting with your energy.  One really fun way to do this is to stop what you’re doing and dance like it’s your birthday when a song you love comes on.  Get your spouse or a buddy to join you if you can.  Laugh!  Shake that booty!  Then go back to what you were doing.  Feel the glow?
  • Roll it.  I’ve heard multiple physical therapists say that if there’s just one thing you do for exercise, let it be foam rolling.  It apparently goes a long way toward keeping your muscles healthy and loose, like getting a stellar massage does.  I personally swear by it.  There are lots of tutorials on YouTube that you can watch for free.

I hope that’s some good information to get started!  When you feel like you’ve got these action points down, you could move on to something more rigorous if you feel the desire.  For now, though, keep your goals small and attainable to build back up your body’s natural energy.

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What to do with old mojo bags?

mojo bag

Mojo bag. Image by Patti Wigington

DEAR LADYBUG:  What should I do with aged mojo bags and ancient ritual take-a-ways? I hate to throw away magic, but I’ve got so many I can’t even remember what most of them were for.  – Bag Lady in Oakland, CA

DEAR BAG LADY:  You are all set for a dark moon adventure!  All that magic must have done it’s work.  When you get to the place where you no longer can remember what your old mojo bag or ritual takeaway was for (or it’s just old and no longer needed), you know the spell is complete and the ingredients are ready to move on to their next use.  When the moon is waning, or better yet, dark, it’s the perfect time to tend to this sort of business.  So, here’s what I suggest.  Gather up everything you don’t want anymore.  Take all of the organic, non-toxic matter and burn it in your cauldron or fire pit, or bury it in a place where it can safely decompose.  When you do so, you can sing, chant or speak something appropriate to express your gratitude for the gifts and the work and return the magic to nature.  If you have leftover ash, you can keep it if you like to save your ash for the year as some witches do, or you can bury it, toss it in flowing water, or just throw it away.  If there is anything from the bags that you’d like to keep, like any little charms or fancy stones, you can put those in your raw materials storage to go into a future spell.  If you’re worried about residual magic from the old spell, then store the items in salt for a moon.  They’ll be squeaky clean after that!  If you still have leftovers at this point, items that you can’t burn or bury and you don’t want to keep, take them to a crossroads and leave them there as an offering.  When you return from the crossroads, take a different route back.  This way, the magic can go wherever it needs to go.  Think of it like dropping the stuff off at a spiritual Greyhound station.  Most of all, have fun and be sure to keep a spirit of gratitude for so many blessings!  

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Do you have a question about your life or mine?  Feel free to ask!  Answers go live every Friday.  Also, please comment down below if you want to add anything to the conversations above.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

♥ Mama Ladybug

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