Monday, November 30, 2009

Moon Baskets

Wow, can you believe it? Thanksgiving has come and gone...and Christmas is right around the corner. Yesterday we had the last of our yearly turkey. I make a 'mean' turkey soup. It is so good that I have a co-worker who is at me all year about 'when am I going to make it and bring her some.' Believe it or not, we only have turkey once a year. It's not that we don't like it; we love it, but it just seems that there is so much of it, and it lasts for days, that if I make it more than once a year, it gets boring. But, that's me and my feelings.

I have always enjoyed 'making things' around the holiday season. I love giving creative gifts. For a few years everyone on my list got homemade scarves, hats, and mittens. Then, it was cookies. I would buy these pretty little boxes, bows, and tissue papers and fill them with homemade cookies. I would choose a day close to Christmas when I would take a sick day. Then, the night before my 'sick day' I would stay up baking all types of cookies, about 50 dozen or more.

After we moved to a place with a kitchen far too small to tackle such a huge baking job, I concentrated on my beadwork. All the females on my list got beaded necklasses and earrings to match. Men were given gift sets of soaps, colognes, etc. But, after a few years, my eyes got too bad to do much in the way of beadwork, so I discovered gift baskets. I love the creativity that you can put into them. For example, I love to give gifts. And, I have always given small gifts to my co-workers. For them, I don't spend much, but I buy small Christmas bags, then go plowing through the 99 cent store for little Christmas trinkets. Last years bags included a tree ornament, a fancy candle, a Christmas lollipop, and a small, small box of Christmas chocolates which I found for $1.00 each.

I love to give gift baskets at showers, birthdays, and Christmas. And for Christmas, I always find a special theme, and Moon Baskets are especially fun. Everything I put into the basket has something to do with the Moon. For example, you can put together a Moon Bath Basket filled with moon-inspired gifts such as a loofah sponge or washcloth with a picture of the Moon on it, a bar of coconut milk along with coconut shampoo, a coconut soap and bubble bath, a coconut scented candle, and an avocado face mask. Coconut, Hyssop, cucumber, avocado and hibiscus are all ruled astrologically by the moon so any of the other scents can be substituted for the coconut.

Other items that can be added to baskets are a cup or a mug with a Moonscape on it, some stationery with the Moon on it, a Moon Christmas ornament, a candle with a Moon on it, a hibiscus or watermelon tea with a corresponding incense stick, a New Age music CD, fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, kale, melons, rosemary...all ruled by the Moon. You can include a lunar calendar, a poem, Moon stickers...the list is endless. Allow your imagination to run wild as you fill the baskets. I always wrap my Moon baskets in a clear or silver based plastic and top with a silver bow.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guidance Meditation

Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably. Close your eyes and gently breathe into yourself until your mind and body quiet down. Now, become aware of your heart...breathe. Just keep on breathing until your mind and body are still.

Allow yourself to become aware of a question you might have or some area in your life where you need guidance. Breathe in with the question until you feel calm and have separated yourself from any answer or sense of direction that you may already have become attached to. Once you know you are no longer attached, allow the question to resurface again. Breathe and feel inside of your body. Consider an option and allow your body a chance to respond. Then, consider another option and again, notice how your body responds. If you have another option, consider it now. Notice your body's reaction. The positive or neutral reaction is usually the best course. Give thanks for your realization.

Now, breathe deeply and exhale through your mouth. Wiggle your fingers and toes; then, gently open your eyes.

This meditation was not what I had originally been planning to share today, but since I will be dealing with a decision today, I figured this would be a great time for me to share this mediation with you. Things sometimes pop up in our lives, and we need to sometimes make a difficult decision. Sometimes we also tend to jump into the first answer that comes to mind and only realize when it is too late, that we have made a wrong decision...which is why it is important for us to take time to meditate on our answer/response.

As most of you know, I have been working on my Druid classes with The New Order of Druids. It's been three years now, and I have completed the Bardic section and am halfway through the Ovate course. Then, on Friday I attempted to post my latest lesson and find the website and the college gone...Yes, GONE. Thinking it a computer glitch, I tried again yesterday. There is no more website. I already emailed a school contact, but had no response so I emailed my ex-mentor who had just retired. I asked if the college was gone. Her response was, "I don't know. I haven't heard anything since I left. I only know that the site was hacked." So, what does that mean? What does it mean to us students who somehow have been left out in the cold without words as to what is going on? If the school does come back up, how do I feel about returning after their, what I consider, irresponsible treatment of students? After all, it has been three days since I emailed the only connection I had at the school...and no response. Sadly, I cannot even get into my old lessons and grades.

And what do I do at this point? There are several Druid orders that I can apply to, but these orders are not the same as a semester at college. Each order follows their own ways and leanings be it Reconstructionism, Celtic history, Earth magic and psychology(NOD). In other words, they are all so different, it is just a matter of my transferring over. It may be a matter of "starting all over" and after three years of work, do I really want to do that? But, I have enjoyed the learning experience, and it all brings me closer to my ancestors.

So, as you can see, I have several difficult decisions that I have to make. Do I start over elsewhere or do I just let my studies go?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Yule Log


These days many a Christmas dinner table features a Yule log...often and iced cake. We have one each year, but ours is sliced at midnight on Christmas Eve for luck. It's my own little tradition...and superstition. It was never a part of my childhood, and I don't ever remember having a Yule log cake and actually, I don't even remember when or how it started...it just started. Needless to say, the Yule log tradition actually comes from ancient Scandinavia whre at Juul, or the Winter Solstice, people used to kindle large bonfire in honor of Thor, and below you will find some Yule log superstitions from days gone by.

On Christmas Eve in old England, it was a custom to drag a huge log into the hall of the manorial home...where it was then let with a piece of the previous year's Yule log. It was believe that this smaller piece of wood, when kept in the cellar, would protect the home from fire. The flame of the Yule log was believed to burn out past wrongs, and it was considered very bad luck if a squinting person, a flat-footed woman, or a bare-footed person entered the hall when the fire was burning.

One form of ancient Yule log was the Devonshire type called an Ashton Faggot; this was a bundle of ash sticks bound with nine ash hoops. On Christmas Eve, the farm laborers would drag the faggot by two horses to their master's home where everyone, rich and poor, would celebrate the day with fun and games such as apple bobbing, sack races, and jumping for cake which were suspended from the ceiling. And whenever one of the ash hoops opened in the fire, the master had to provide a fresh bowl of cider.

And finally, in Cornwall, the log was called the Mock; it was a special holiday for the children who would be able to say up till midnight and drink to the mock.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Decision time

Ah, serentity...the day after Thanksgiving...a time to recuperate from the hectic pace of the holiday...or so it should be. I've decided that I wanted to get everything accomplished today that I would have done over the weekend, so up til now I have been pretty busy. And on my feet a bit too much. My fibro is now acting up, but I have learned to deal with it.

So, how was Thanksgiving for those who celebrated yesterday? I can't believe how quickly it came and went. All those days of preparation, and it comes and goes in a flash. But it was all well worth it. Had a nice quiet day with hubbie and my two boys. After dinner, my eldest took a snooze which enabled me to spend some quality time with my youngest who I don't see as often. He's been having some pretty serious health issues...sadly stemming from some poor health habits on his part. Namely, smoking and over-eating all of the wrong foods. So now, at age 27 he has emphysema in the early stages and heart issues. We had a really good heart-to-heart, and I do hope I talked some sense into him. I hope he was 'really' hearing what I was saying and not just 'yessing' me. Oh, and I even got to call a dear friend whose health hasn't been well lately.

Later, after dessert...an ultra-rich Napoleon Cake...brought by my youngest...my boys went out to visit some friends, and found myself with some much-needed down time. I did a lot of thinking about what was important to me and what I no longer needed to carry with me. I guess you could say I did some house-cleaning of the soul. And of course, the subject of my blogs came up. Blogging has become an important part of my life. Where do I want to go from here? Do I want to change things? Avalon Revisited and Celtic Dreamscape both stem from a couple of my now defunct Yahoo groups. Of course, they can be combined into one group, but do I really want that? No. I do know that when I finish the last Chapter of Andrew Lang's book for Avalon, I will take a break from books...too long and time consuming...and there is so much else to write about. I want to liven up Celtic Dreamscape.

I am also into dreamwork and inner child work. I do a lot of this with my clients as well as done work with this in my own life, but where would it go? Would it be a new blog, or could I include it in either Moontides or or an Inner Journey? And many bloggers seem to have their blogs far more organized than mine...especialy Moontides which is a hodgepodge of stuff. Should I organize more with like a poetry day? A day for a spell or a meditation? And so on and so forth.

Oh, decisions, decisions, decisions!!!! Nothing's been decided yet. Looking to everyone for some help. What do you think I should do? How can I improve? Or is the haphazard way it is put together okay.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
To have the first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood--
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood--
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

(Lydia Maria Child, 1844)

Oh what memories!!! I used to love sing this song at Thanksgiving time. There was a time when I knew the whole thing by heart. Thanksgiving also seemed to be colder back then, and I remember playing out in my grandparent's backyard until the dinner was done. The ground was always frozen--not soggy and warm like today-- as I dashed about riding my trusty broom.

I was thinking of traditions today, and one tradition that I haven't changed is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Ironically, I live here in the city, but have never seen it in person. But, the one thing that stands out year after year is the arrival of Santa. To me and to millions of others, when Santa arrives at the Macy's parade, the holiday season begins.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful day.
Mary

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Wishes


I was trying to think about what I was going to write today. I knew it had to be something simple, because I don't have much time since today we have an annual Thanksgiving party for our clients. For some, this is the only Thanksgiving they will have. It was a really special day. We brought out the karaoke machine, and they had a great time trying to beat each other with the score....(Then I got up there and everyone took off)....Just kidding!!! Then, we served them a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and carrots with pumpkin pie for desert. It really gives you a good feeling when you do something nice for others.

This morning I was asked to run one of the groups, and to be honest, I am usually not even here that early on a Wednesday. Today I usually work 11am to 7pm...and being the day before Thanksgiving, everyone always does something on gratitude, but not in the traditional way. I wanted more than "What are you grateful for?" because truthfully, many of our clients don't feel grateful, and they will be quick to tell you. They've lost their homes, their families, they live in a shelter, no money, no job, etc. I wanted something more inspiration for them, something that offers a sense of hope. So, I dug through my files and found a little something I would also like to share with you.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. If you find a way to be thankful for your troubles, they can become your blessings.

Be thankful you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times; during those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you are tired and weary, because it means that your have made a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your day be filled with love, joy, peace, and happiness.
Mary




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

The soft, gray dawn of Thanksgiving Day
Has parted the curtains of night,
And the world awakes with its hopes and fears,
Beginning its life of smiles and tears
With the new-born morning's light.

There are cheerful hearts and lives that are glad
Which wake to this day of praise;
There are those whose hearts for a weary while
Have long forgotten the joy and smile
Of life's sunshiny days.

Some of us walk in sun-lit paths
Where flowers grow bright and fair;
And some of us tread with tired feet
Where shadow and sorrow daily meet,
And the flowers of life are rare.

Let those who gather the joys of life
So easily day by day,
Remember the lives that are grieved and sad,
And remembering, strive to make them glad,
And lighten the somber gray.

Which hints the hearts of the lonely poor,
And hides from their eyes of light
That God hath given to shine for all,
As over the world the sunbeams fall
To scatter the shades of night.

(By Mary Dow Brine 1816-1913)




Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gift of Friendship

"Little girl...Little girl...Can you come out to play? Gosh, those words were spoken 56 years ago, but I can still hear them clear as if it was yesterday. We'd just moved into our first home, and I was settling into my new room when I heard her calling me. Kathleen was my first ever friend, and the bonds we struck that day were to last through the decade. We stuck together like glue...friends forever....or so we thought. We'd just entered high school when Kathy's parents bought a new and larger home...in another town clear across the state. For awhile, we continued to keep in touch, but gradually our contacts became less and less frequent...until the time came when our ties were severed forever for as we neared our late teens, both of us were headed in different directions. Kathleen was the intellectual, the college bound girl while I was the one who had some wild oats to sow before I settled down. The last I heard of Kathleen she was headed off to college, and I was headed to make my mark in New York.

Friendships can be our most enduring and important relationships. It can last a lifetime as we travel the journey of life together, or it may simply run its course, but leave us with memories that we will cherish forever. Friendship plays an important role in our lives. A friend can help us to grow, to make us more than we were. They can alter our lives in the profoundest of ways and introduce us to things we have never been a part of. We can share our experiences, the very fabric of our souls. Friends help us to overcome the challenges we face at different stages in our lives.

I have never really had very many true friends, and those that I have had, I have truly come to appreciate. I've had many 'acquaintances' , but acquaintances come and go. Sadly, there were times in my life that I sacrificed 'me' in order to make a friend...but was that really a friend? I think not. I often wondered why I didn't have so many friends while those around me seemed to be swamped by them, and then I realized that it wasn't that they had so many friends. It was just that they happened to 'know a lot of people.'

True friendship isn't something that we should take lightly; it is a gift, a gift that lasts forever. Kathleen may have been physically gone from my life for many a year, but she will always remain in my heart. The path to life is 'connection' with others. So, as this holiday rolls around, my newly found blog friends, give yourself the gift of thinking about the special friendships which have nourished you throughout your life. Treasure them for they all came into our lives for a reason.

No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence.--George Eliot

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Goddess Box

I have taken many different courses throughout my lifetime , and I have to tell you, one of my favorites was Granny Moon's Goddess course. A fun part of this course was putting together our own Goddess Box. I wish I had a picture of mine that I can show you, but sadly, I have to admit, we have to be one of the few households in the country without a camera. Ours broke awhile ago, and we have just had no need to replace it. If necessary, we just go out and buy a disposable.

You can make your own Goddess Box to keep all of your treasures in...things that make you "YOU". First, find a box...or make one...that you find attractive. You can decorate your box with pictures, baubles, charms, stones...whatever make "YOU' happy because this box is yours alone. And, preferably, during the next Full Moon, you can begin to put all your special treasures inside--a family picture, seashells, charms, stones, a greeting card that you love--anything that is special to you.

Make sure to get yourself a box of cute stationaryand some cinnamon oil, which, by the way, has a nice powerful energy as well as leave your Goddess Box with a great scent each time you open it. Now, write down all your wishes, hopes, dreams and goals....one on each paper. Then, dab each page with a drop of cinnamon oil: It is important that you fold the paper, make sure the folds are going toward you. This aids in your accomplishing your goals.

Finally, place your box in the light of the Full Moon--either outdoors or on a window sill-- and allow it soak up all of those Full Moon blessings.

And, don't forget, you can and should continue to add little trinkets to your box. Perhaps a shiny rock you find in your garden or walking along the street, a poem you have written or a letter someone wrote to you...anything that has meaning to you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Woman's Prayer


Great Spirit, I am Mother.
I was made by You so that the image of Your love
Could be brought into existence.
May I always carry with me
The Sacredness of this honour.

Creator, I am Daughter.
I am the learner of the Traditions.
May I carry them forward
So that the Elders and Ancestors
Will be remembered for all time.

Make-Of-All-Things, I am Sister.
Through me, may my brothers be shown
The manner in whcih I am to be respected.
May I join with my sisters in strength and power as a Healing Shield.
So that they will no longer bear the stain of abuse.
Niskam, I am Committed Partner:
One who shares her spirit,
But is wise to remember never to give it away,
Lest it become lost,
And the two become less than one.

I am Woman.
Hear me.
Welal'in
Ta'ho!

Native American (Mi'kmaq)

I hope you enjoyed this. I found it the other day when I was sorting things in my computer room. About two years ago, I took a course in Cherokee Wisdom and this poem came with the reading materials. It gives me goose bumps whenever I read it.

Needless to say, my village is up, and I give myself about an hour more of work, and the house will be just about set for the holidays. It's a good feeling to have it done. Actually, what took the most time was the usual--book sorting. I'd have a box all set, and then remember something in it that I wanted...and when I would get that out, I would see something else...But, it's done now...and it's not exactly as if I were getting rid of them. They are only packed away until after the holidays.

So, for now it is back to work. Won't get done sitting here. Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Creating Balance


Oh, my, what a morning! I decided that this week I was going to keep these three vacation days I had taken to recuperate from the dentist...even though my appointment was cancelled. I'll just take a few more days in December. It's my ttime, and believe me, I have more than earned it. Talk about a workaholic. That's me. Last week when my appointment was cancelled, I cancelled my vacation days and went to work. Not this time. No-sir-ee!!! Time to take care of me. We counselors have one of the highest rates of burnout...and I can feel it coming on...and it's not that I don't have the time. But, ask me if I took the day to rest! Ha!!! What? Me rest? I can always find something to do.

So, here I am setting up my tree and getting the shelves ready for my village which in 11 years of adding a few peices each year, has almost reached the unmanageable stage....add to that the fact that books have to be packed away to make room for it...and you are looking at a major project. Not only do I have to box them and put them in the closet, but I also have to sort through them because there are some books I just KNOW I am going to need...so the sorting can take me hours. Ah, decisions, decisions, decisions. And it never fails, no matter how much time I take in deciding which book stays and which goes, there will come a time during the holiday season that I am going to want one of the ones that I packed away.

But you have to love the season. The part I love the most is family getting together...and I think that is why it was so important for me to get the decorations up before Thanksgiving. My youngest son, who has just been diagnosed with heart problems and hasn't been here for the holidays in four years so this year has to be special. And lately, I have becoming somewhat melancholy during the holidays....I have been missing my family.

But, Christmas, family, the holidays....that's not exactly what I had in mind today. Actually, having these days off work has made me realize that I need more balance in my life. Most of us do have occasional problems creating a life of balance in which we are nourished by our activities, not depleted. I realized today that I have fogotten how to take care of me. All this work could have waited; I still have 3 more days off after this...so why am I pushing myself beyond the brink to complete it all today. I have worked so hard for so long that I don't know how to slow myself down, and I know it is time to work on that. Burnout doesn't only happen on the job; it can happen at home, too. So, before I go to bed tonight I plan on completing this little exercise I give to my clients. This fun little activity is designed to help you pinpoint those moments where your life gives you energy and where it takes more than you get back.

Draw a large circle and slice it like a pie into 8 or more wedges...depending on how many aspects of your life you want to look at.

Label each of these wedges with an aspect of your life--family, health, friends, money, work, creativity, fun, personal growth, spiritual interests, etc.

Color in each wedge from the center point outward, approximating how much fulfillment you find in each life area. Your wheel may now look more like a small circle; this is telling you that there is room to expand in all directions. Or...you may be seeing and oval shape or a flat tire meaning some aspects of your life are out of balance.

Now choose one are that needs bolstering or that simply draws you to it. Write down strategies that will help you to become more fulfilled in that area of your life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Letting Go of Fear


Gosh, what a reprieve! I had an appointment this afternoon at the dentist to have my wisdom tooth removed , but the dentist had a personal emergency, and my appointment is cancelled. This is the second week in a row that it has been cancelled on the dentist's end...and because I see things like this as omens....I am feeling it was just not meant to be...not at this time...not just before Thanksgiving. I know it will have to be done, but it doesn't ache and can wait until after the holiday.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I've a precision partial being made to replace the one I have. When I say precision, it is truly precision. There are hooks in the back, no wires, and no one knows I have one. They look exactly like your own teeth, but they do not last so long. One wrong bite and that's it....cannot be repaired like a regular partial. Unfortunately, many years ago my jaw was broken in an auto accident, and the hospital that wired my jaw used wires too large and cracked several teeth...Top that with a union dentist who got hold of me about 30 years ago and botched up root canals and pulled teeth which didn't have to be pulled which is bad on its own, but top that with breaking them off and leaving roots which had to be removed almost 30 years later. So you see, not even half of my top teeth are mine and being that this is precision it not only takes lots of time and visits, but also, if even ONE tooth is removed, it may not stay in...thereby ruining my Thanksgiving. This is only a scenerio, mind you, but when you factor in that the unexpected happened two weeks in a row, there must be a reason.

Needless to say, my teeth are actually not what I really planned on talking about today, but they do factor in to the subject--fear---for try as I may, I have never been able to go to the dentist and act in a dignified manner. Actually, it starts before I even get there--the tears, the trembling body---I revert back to a small child when I go to the dentist....and knowing that I am going to have a tooth extracted? Oh, gosh, the fear starts the night before. So last night when I got home from work I went looking for a meditation or ritual to help me through the day, and I would like to share a meditation I found in one of my old, old books.

Letting Go of Fear

Picture yourself floating peacefully down a gentle stream. All you need do is to breath, relax, and go with the flow.


Suddenly, you become conscious of your situation. Frightened, overwhelmed with 'what if's' your body tenses. You begin to thrash around, franticlly looking for something to grab onto.


You panic so hard that you start to go under. Then you remember--you're working too hard at this. You don't need to panic. All you need to do is breathe, relax, and go with the flow. You won't drown.


Panic is our great enemy.


We don't need to become desperate. If overwhelming problems appear in our life, we need to stop struggling. We can tread water for a bit, until our equilibrium returns. Then we can go back to flowating peacefully down the gentle stream. It is our stream. It is a safe stream. Our course has been charted. All is well.


Today I will relax, breathe, and go with the flow.


(From "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie C 1990, Hazelden Foundation)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stormy Day

Although the sun is shining, and it is such a beautiful day outdoors, somehow I am not feeling intune with the world around me today. It has been one of those days here at my job...a stormy day, indeed ; hence, I am hours late with my posts and, alas, my mind has been in a fog as I try to sort out the events of the day. Nothing violent, nothing earth-shattering...just an aura that will not fade away. I have seen clients take on these moods and 'act out' during the time the Moon is full, but at a Dark Moon? I have to say, this is a first for me. And since I cannot think clearly, my mind has turned to poetry which has always been known to clear the cobwebs. Here is one I read which reminds me of the world around me today.

Love is Enough

Love is enough; thought the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass'd over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.

(By William Morris 1834-1896)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dreaming of the Old West




I'd like to begin by thanking you all for your kind responses to my post yesterday. My grandmother was a very special woman...perhaps she was so wise because she was already a crone when I was born, but she was also a mother figure to me, someone who was always there for me when my own mother was too busy. I spent so much time at grandma's house, I can still close my eyes picture it today. And I can also remember the good times I had. Such wonderful childhood fun, but was this fun and the fantasies that went along with it just that? Or was there something more to it. Could I have been given a clue as to a past life?



I was obsessed with old west...cowboys, horses, the old saloons....everything about it...and it was all so vivid to me. As a child I spent hours and hours outdoors riding my trusty horse...Sowdy. Where the name came from, I do not know....and my Sowdy was really nothing more than my grandmother's old brown broom, but it was so special to me. I rode that horse broom all afternoon and when the rains came, I moved my play into the basement which became an old saloon. I played about the old west with both my paper dolls and my dolls. I rarely played anything else. I had a whole scenerio which I went over each night before I went to sleep, and once I fell asleep, the old west filtered in. It was never cowboys and Indians, though. It was just about a person and the life they lived, nothing more. And to me, it was real.



It may be nothing more than a lonely child's fantasy play, but the truth is, that many of the fantasies that we acted out in our childhood play were an outward expression about oneself. Could it be that some of our childhood play fantasies expressed an idea that came from a time before our birth? Can they really have their source in a previous life? The famous psychologist Carl Jung believed so. In his book "Memories, Dreams and Reflections" he writes that, as a boy, he recalled in great detail that he was once an old man in the 18th century. Great book, by the way. I love Jung and am so intrigued with his idea of the archetypes.



They also say that up until a certain age children can remember bits and pieces of former lives which possibly explains our invisible friends. But parents and other well-meaning figures in our lives determine that these are ideas we have to let go so as we grow up, our past life memories fade away. I am just wondering what your ideas are on this subject, and if you have any childhood play fantasies you would like to share.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Am I as Wise as She?


Better to be alone than in bad company.--Thomas Fuller

As I enter into the cronehood of my life, I sometimes wonder if I will ever be as wise as the crone who mentored me. My grandmother married at a fairly late age--39--for a woman in her era. So, by the time I was born she was already 66 and a wise old Crone. I spent a lot of time with her and grandpa so I benefitted from her wisdom in ways I never realized until fairly recently when my own aging process began. And every once in awhile, something happens, my feelings get hurt or someone says something critical of something I have done, and suddenly I realize that that little girl is still somewhere inside of me; I am a Maiden, a Mother, and a Crone. And when that little girl, Maiden, part of me appears, it is grandma's wisdom I run to.

Yesterday, that little girl reared her head again, sending me into a tizzy, and as always, grandma was there for me, but not until I had worked myself up over something that wasn't even there....and if it was, it just wasn't worth it, but that's part of the way she taught me...to learn by experience. She never tried to run my life for me, but allowed me to make my mistakes and to learn from them.

A bit about me. I was an only child. Most people think of us only children as spoiled, and usually, as soon as someone hears that I have no siblings it is: "Oh, so you must be spoiled.' Heck, I am guilty of the same thoughts when I meet another only child. Granted, there are spoiled children, but more often than not, we are the ones who are pushed beyond our limits...and we grow up as lonely children. I know I did...so much so that I vowed when I had my son that he would have a brother or sister. I was so lonely when I was growing up that EVERYONE had to be my friend, and I would make sure I did whatever necessary to make sure that they liked me.

So, when this new girl moved into the house right next to my grandparents, I immediately began wooing her, but try as I might, she wanted no part of me. Sometime I would just sit and cry when she shunned my offer of friendship; other times I tried to buy it...with candy and other treats...And grandma sat and watched....until one day when I was about to give my favorite doll to this little girl. It was then that grandma took me by the arm and dragged me into the house...kicking and screaming. And once it was all out of me, she quietly said, "I am sorry that you have been hurt, but this is probably only the first of many times you will be hurt...because not everyone is going to like you, and not everyone is supposed to like you. If you can remember that, you will be blessed...because when you stop wasting your precious time on those who don't want to be your friend, you have that much 'more' time to spend with those who care you."

Wise words indeed!!! I not only remembered them when I raised my boys, but also when the little girl in me appears. I am not going to go into the whole story, but yesterday I came across someone who didn't like me...setting off that old self-defeating belief that everyone has to like me. So, I offered kind words, cookies...sat and pouted, did everything but cry...and she still didn't want to be my friend. And as I was sitting there pouting, I remembered the lesson learned a long, long time ago. She didn't have to like me; it wasn't meant to be. So, instead of wasting anymore time on this person, I instead sat down and wrote a nice long letter to a special friend.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th


Friday the 13th!!! Does anyone believe that this is a bad luck day anymore? Well, I am sorry to say they do. I have a friend I have known for years. She is so afraid of this day that she always takes a day off from work; she won't leave the house for anything...not even to celebrate her sister's birthday last year. And there are many more like her out there. It is a day when we find people re-arranging their travel plans, delaying surgical procedures, or just pulling the covers up and staying in bed until Saturday, the 14th rolls around. They are all afraid that something bad is going to happen to them.

There are a number of different theories about the origin of this being considered an unlucky day. The early theories claim that in the ancient religion, Valhalla (home of the gods) had twelve guests for a feast when a 13th, Loki, the God of Deceit, turned up uninvited and arranged for Hod, God of Darkness, to slay Baldur, God of joy and gladness. As a result, the Earth was plunged into a period of darkness and mourning. For Christians, thirteen was the number at the Last Supper when Judas betrayed Jesus. Furthermore, Adam and Eve were said to be expelled from the Garden of Eden on a Friday, and Noah's flood also began on a Friday.

Nevertheless, this superstition is taken quite seriously. Did you know that more than 80 percent of high-rises do not have a 13th floor? Or that airports skip the 13th gate while airplanes have no 13th aisle? Italians do not have the number 13 in their national lottery. Hospitals and hotels usually have no room number 13. Used to be in my superstitious days that I could never leave off on a book on page 13. I either had to stop on page 11 or read through page 14...but that was then, and this is now.

Who knows the one about breaking a mirror? Seven years bad luck. Well, if that was the case, I've broken enough mirrors to bring me bad luck through several lifetimes. Or stepping on a crack? What about finding a penny face up on the ground? Pick it up, and you will have good luck. And black cats walking in front of you. How could such a beautiful creature possibly bring one bad luck? I do have to admit to one superstition....I will not walk under a ladder. I wish I could tell you I had a rational reason for this like a fear that it will fall on me, but alas, I must admit, it's really a fear of bad luck that keeps me from doing it. Fortunately, though that's my only superstition, and since I don't come into contact with ladders on a regular basis, it is one I can easily deal with.....Knock on Wood!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From A City Window

Margaret E. Sangster is one of my favorite 19th century authors and editors, and although she published books, articles, and poems, she is perhaps best known for her work as the editor of Harper's Bazaar. She was born Margaret Munson on February 22, 1838 in New Rochelle, New York. She was born into a deeply religious family and most of her schooling was done at home.

She obviously had an inborn talent for writing, and at the tender age of 17, her first short story "Little Janney" was published, and she won a commission to write 100 children's stories. She gave up writing when she married George Sangster in 1858; he died in 1871, and she once again turned to writing. Soon thereafter, she became a magazine editor to "Hearth and Home"...while she continued sending articles to to other magazines. In 1889, she became the editor of "Harper's Bazaar" where she remained until the magazine failed in 1899. But, there was always work for such a talented writer and for many years she was ranked as one of America's most popular poets.

She died in South Orange, New Jersey on June 2, 1912. Below is one of favorites. Enjoy.

FROM A CITY WINDOW

The dust is thick on the city street,
The smoke on the city sky
Hangs dense and gray at the close of day--
And the city crowds surge by
With heavy feet through the summer heat
Like a sluggish sullen tide;--
But hand in hand through a magic land
We are wandering side by side.

From somewhere, dear, there's a magic land
On the shores of a silver sea;
And there is a boat with turquoise sails--
With sails that are wide and free;
A boat that is whirling through the spray,
That is coming for you and me.

Somewhere, dear, there's a singing breeze
That creeps through the laughing air
To the wide-flung boughs of a blue-black tree--
It touches your joyous hair;
And the touch of it is as soft and light
As a baby's lisping prayer.

Somewhere, dear, there's a bit of beach
Where the sand is warm and white;
Where the sky seems lose and the drifting clouds
Are tenderly, warmly bright.
And there is a ship with turquoise sails,
With sails like a living light!

Ah, the ship is bring us dreams come true,
And hopes that are all dew-kissed;
It is bringing us day that are all aglow
With Scarlet and amethyst;...
Bringing us faith to find our way
Through a world that is wrapped in mist.

Our window looks on the city street,
We can glimpse the city sky;
But our hearths are gay at the close of day.
Though the tired crowds pass by
With heavy feet through the blinding heat,
Like a sullen, sluggish tide...
For hand in hand through a magic land,
We are wandering side by side.

(By Margaret E. Sangster)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

May we forever remember those who fought and gave their lives so that we may remain free and pray for those across the oceans who are fighting for our freedoms today. May the Goddess bless you all.

I wanted to share a little something with you. Margaret Sangster is one of my favorite poets, but I have to warn you ahead of time....This is a real tear-jerker, but it says so much about those who fought and gave their lives for us.

When War Came

War came, one day, and drew us close together.

Although it swept us many miles apart;

The love that lay as lightly as a feather,

Now rests, a precious weight, upon my heart.

And all the dreams I dreamed for just the dreaming,

Have taken on a meaning that is new;

And somehow all the lonely world is seeming

To cry aloud my aching need of you.



Because you were so much a part of living,

Like sunshine and the freshness of the air,

The priceless gift of faith that you were giving,

Seemed small to me. Scarce knowing you were there

I took your heart-strings in my careless fingers,

And played a song as light as summer dew,

And yet, today, its wistful echo lingers

And fills an empty world with thoughts of you.



I did not think that I would ever miss you,

I did not dream the time would ever come to be

When I would long to touch your hand--to kiss you

To hear your voice say tender words to me.

I did not know that I would wonder whether

My head would rest, once more against your heart....

War came, my dear, and swept us close together,

Although it swept us many miles apart.

(By Margaret Elizabeth Sangster 1838-1912)

In Memorial

Many thanks to you for fighting for my freedom....a descendant you never met will never forget you. The following gravesites are of my ancestors who fought in the various wars to keep us free. I know there are many, many more, but I am grateful to Find a Grave which allowed me to find these few. And to that special volunteer who remembers all the veterans with an online memorial, I thank you.

William List, WWII

Joseph J. Holley, WWII



James Charles Holley, WWII



Joseph W. Holley

William Prescott, Cammander at the Battle of Bunker Hill



Thompson Pollard, Civil War


William E.List, Korean and Vietnam Wars


Mark Walton. Revolutionary War Hero




David Pollard Civil War





Captain Peter Dickerson , Revolutionary War Hero


















Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nature Practice

In today's society we live in such a fast-paced world that we seldom have time to stop and pay attention to the beauty of the landscape around us. I know with myself that it used to be when I get off from work, all I want to do is go home, kick off my shoes, have some dinner, and prop myself in front of the television or the computer. I was just too tired for anything else. But, since I've begun with my Druid classes, I have learned not only to pay attention to my surroundings, but also how to slow down and allow the serenity to take hold...to commune with nature around me. Suddenly, it is not JUST as tree, a flower, a stone...it is a living being with spirit and soul. Below I have posted a simple little exercise that even us urbanites can indulge in. I am also a great one for writing. I've always kept journals around which contain everything from what I did on a certain day to the feelings and emotions that I was going through at the time. I think it is important to write things down so I am forever suggesting journals and writing.

As you move through your day, find some time to take note of the world of nature around you. Slow down and sit in the presence of a tree, a plant....even a house plant....and feel the wind across your face as the weather shifts. Begin to pay a deeper attention to your surroundings. Write about your observations . Describe your journey through the day...going to work, shopping, watching the sunrise or sunset, working in your yard. Where was the Moon in her monthly passage? What was the weather like?

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Perfect Ending to the Weekend


I had a wonderful evening last night. I had become rather negligent in my Ovate studies, and this weekend decided I had to put my foot down or I would never complete it. I'd been doing wonderfully with my studies and enjoying them very much, but then hubbie took ill, and I took a short break because I just couldn't concentrate, but short breaks with me can become ultra long breaks or permanent breaks if I am not careful. So, this weekend I decided that it was time to knuckle down and get back into the swing of things, and I am so glad that I did. These classes mean so much to me and bring me so much closer to my ancestors...as well as helping me to develop a closeness with the land.

The Awareness Practice I worked on last night was of Place Bonding, of getting out in nature and becoming aware of self as part of this place. You know, this is not easy for the urban dweller, but I am blessed to be not only 20 minutes from the beach, but I also have a huge back yard. Well, since it was too late to head out to the beach, I went out into my backyard...and felt as if I had somehow stepped into the Otherworld. It was so quiet, peaceful, serene. The huge tree, normally teeming with life, stood silent, dark.. a huge shadow in the corner of the yard, it branches reaches out in a gentle embrace. I think I really needed to lose myself for awhile; I've had far too much stress hanging over my head and the beauty of nature is one of the best stress relievers that I know. I had a I lost all track of time during my meditation, and it was nearly 11 before I went back into the house and for the first time in I don't know how long, I fell into a deep, restful sleep. I was at peace.

Throughout the coming weeks I plan to be sharing some of these wonderful little meditations with you.

The Leaves are Falling; so am I;
The few late flowers have moisture in the eye;
So have I too.
Scarcely on any bough is heard
Joyous, or even unjoyous, bird
The whole wood through.
Winter may come; he brings but nigher
His circle (yearly narrowing) to the fire
Where old friends meet:
Let him; now heaven is overcast,
And spring and summer both are past,
And all things sweet.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Footsteps of the Past

Our Celtic ancestors were aware of both the invisible and the visible world and did not share our modern belief of death as being a total separation. In their worldview, time was endless, a connecting thread which enabled us, the living, to feel the wise and loving presence of the ancestors, and those who had departed continued to care deeply about their descendants--weeping with them when troubled and celebrating their good fortunes.

In today's world, we have lost that sense of connection with our ancestors. That great sense of clanship is missing. As a nation, we seek security, not tradition. We have lost that sense of continuity with the truths of the tribe and the sacred conncection with the land. We don't know who we are because we don't know where and who we came from. Is it any wonder that many of us feel rootless and seek restlessly outside of ourselves to find our way home?

So why not take a little time today...or in the near future to write down everything you know about your family. Begin with yourself and work backward through your parents, grandpareents, and so on...as far back as you can go. Make sure to include dates and places of birth as well as marriage and death. Talk or write to other family members, especially the older ones. It is surprising how many memories the may have...as well as old letters, photes, diaries, etc.


This is the only photo I have of myself as a little girl. It was out at our country home. The two gentlemen are my dad and his twin brother.

My beloved 2nd great grandmother, Constance Mary Hazel(12/10/1880-3/3/1956) Born in Stalham, Norfolk, England; died in Dover, Morris, New Jersey.


Charles Hazel (1857-1918) Barton Turf, Norfolk, England. This was my second great grandfather, Richard's brother, Charles, who worked with marionettes. Although I have no photos of Richard as he died so young, I can get some idea here with Charles.



William Hazel (1825-1900) Born in Barton Turf, Norfolk, England; died in Smallburgh, Norfolk, England. Isn't this photo amazing?




Philemon Dickerson (01/11/1788-12/10/1862). He was the brother of United States Senator Mahlon Dickerson. Philemon was a Congressional Representative from New Jersey 1833-1836;
Governor of New Jersey 1836-1837; Served as a judge in the District Court in New Jersey until his death.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Meditation for a Quiet Moment

The following meditation is an adaption from my nature exercises in my Druid course and a meditation I have done throughout the years. I find it helpful in times when I am stressed and searching for serenity.

Imagine that you are walking down a forest path during late autumn. The leaves have fallen and are crunching beneath your feet with every step you take. Feel the cool crisp air on your face. Take a deep breath in, then exhale sharply. Now, take another deep breath in and exhale out slowly. Now, directly in front of you, you see that a deer is waiting with a ray of sunshine beaming down on it. And, as you approach the deer, you find yourself also surrounded in the warmth of this light, and you remember a time when you were safe and joyful--a happy moment, a peaceful time when you felt that you were loved. Let this feeling and memory take over your entire being; stay with this wonderful sensation; breath slowly and deeply.

Stay as long as you like, and when you are ready, make sure you thank the deer for helping you bring forth the bliss and as you walk back out of the forest, notice the light of love which is now glowing both within and around you. You may open your eyes and be in the present. Bring this gift of love and life to everyone you encounter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Can You Do With an Ornery Ghost?


I have a ghost in my house. Yes, a ghost. If you notice, I chose an unhappy face because my ghost seems to be somewhat unhappy right now...and I must say, she is quite a bit ornery to boot. First, let me explain.

We moved into the house where we now live in 1998. I live on the first floor of a home probably about 150 years old. I'm actually guessing at that. I know nothing about the history of the house. So, nine years ago when we moved in and finally got settled, all was fine and dandy....until. We had three radios in the home...our clock radio in the bedroom, our stereo system in the living room, and my sons had their stereo system. Well, after a couple weeks, the radios started acting up. Each night around 2 am a different radio would start blasting. We would never know which one was going to go off...but the entire household would be woken...that's how loud they were (even though we turned them down when we went to bed). Hubbie got so mad one night that he tossed the clock radio across the room and still it played.

Then, after about a month, it stopped...and we all began living together in peace and harmony. I knew my ghost was still there because sometimes I would feel her sit on the bed...and, of course, my cat sees her. Minga watches her all the time. And, I know she is a female because I can smell her cologne when she passes by.

And now, for some strange reason, the radios are starting again. Only this time, it is more than the radios...the alarm clocks are going off, too. And, my question is...why? Why now...after all this time? What set her off now, I do not know. But deal with her I must. There has obviously been some change that she doesn't like. I'll just have to find out what it is.

Ghosts

The ghosts that come from out the years,
Dream-winged and purged of passion's fears,
Troop round me now as oft before,
In love to lead my footsteps o'er
The paths my heart of heart endears.

What hope-wreathed joy on joy appears
What bloomy cheeks no anguish sears,
What vasty skies wherein to soar,
O time of old!

Their voices die upon mine ears,
I cry to them, but no one hears,
While other ghosts around me pour--
The ghosts of Now that madly roar,
And mock my unrelieving tears,
O time of old!

(Edward Robeson Taylor 1838-1923)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Easy Earth Goddess Spell


For centuries, the agricultural goddesses were honored at this time of the year by our ancestors who believed that they controlled the changing seasons and the cycles of death and rebirth. This Earth Goddess Spell is one of transformatation and should be started now, just as we enter the dark season and before the frost touches the ground. This is such an accessible spell that even us city-dwellers can do this one.


Fill a small flowerpot with rich topsoil or potting mix. Charge the soil with life force by leaving it in the Sun for a day. Then, bring it indoors or leave in a potting shed over the winter. Place a goddess symbol, such as a corn doillie, beside the pot. Touch the soil occasionally as you think of what it is you wish to change in your life. And in the spring, whenever the time feels right, start your favorite herb or flower seeds in the pot; then transplant in the garden. As the plants grow, your wish will be fulfilled.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To the Moon


Just wanted to share a little poem I found which was written over a thousand years ago.

The Autumn drawing up along the Night,
Amidst mankind the Moon casts shadows bright.
The Toad sinks not amid the Milky Way.
His elixirs the Hare pounds on for aye.

All brings but sorrow to my heart sincere!
And makes my whitening hair more white appear.
O'er the earth resound loud war's alarms.
Illume no more, oh Moon! these traitors arms.
(By Du Fu (712-770)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Women in My Life

As part of my Samhain ritual, I especially played homage to the women of my life...and as I honored each of them, one by one, I realized that I am who I am today because of them. And what I discovered was, as they used to say, "I come from strong stock." Each and every woman on my ancestral tree has faced some type of adversity and chosen not to back down from it.

Take my dad's great grandmother, Harriet, born 1859, for example. She was born to a poor family in Norfolk, England. She married Richard in 1880 and bore my great grandmother, Constance Mary on December 10, 1880 in Stalham, England. Richard died of 'wasting disease' on May 23, 1881. Harriet remarried before 1885, and she, her new husband, and Constance Mary came to the United States...making her the first of her family to venture across the ocean and start a life in the new world. Her second husband, John, died in 1910.

Constance Mary lost her dad when she was only a few months old. She married my great great granddad, Ralph, in 1901. She and Ralph had 5 children; her first child died in 1912 at age 10. Ralph died on July 30, 1918 leaving Constance with four children to raise on her own. And, not only did Constance raise those four children, she also raised my dad and his twin brother when their mom and dad couldn't take care of them anymore. Son, Harry, my granddad, was an alcoholic and died of liver disease in 1956, a few months after Constance died of heart failure.

Sadly, I never met either of these two women. Although I have never been able to find out what happened to Harriet after John's death, I know that one day I will find her. Constance Mary was still alive, and I am sure I met her one time in my life. My mom, for some reason, kept me away from my dad's family. But, ironically, it is Constance Mary who I feel remains at my side. It is her presence that I feel.

And that bring me to my maternal grandmother, Lauvenia, born August 4, 1881. She was such a special lady in my life, and I loved her so. Lauvenia was 13 years older than my granddad. I am not too sure, but I don't think a woman's being that much older than her husband was such a common occurrence at the time.

And that leaves my mom, a woman far ahead of her time. My mom was such a strong lady; she knew what she wanted and did what she had to do to accomplish her goal. She had wanted more children, but sadly I was the only one; she had four miscarriages. My mom worked all her life to buy the home she always dreamed of, making me one of the original latch-key kids, and I am sure she must of taken a lot of flack about it. That just wasn't done in those days. While growing up, I always felt badly that I would go home to an empty house, but I realize now that mom did what she had to do, and it never meant that she loved me any less.

And there are so many others far too numerous to mention. I'm sure you all have women like these in your life, and it would be great to hear about them. Thanks for letting me share about mine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do You Believe in Miracles?

The Wheel continues to turn from Dark to Light and back to Dark again...and the days begin to grow short. The gentle breezes of the summer months will soon be changing into the cold, winter's gales. The daylight is weak now, and the darkness is getting stronger as the days pass by. We are entering a time of introspection, of solitude. It is a time to remember those we have lost and to contemplate our direction for the coming year. And as I continue to emotionally recuperatefrom Samhain, I have been thinking back over my life and those I am missing...and those who never leave my side...for I know that there is always someone with me.

Years ago, many, many years ago, I suffered from sleep apnea. It was such a scary feeling...waking in the middle of the night and not being able to catch my breath. My first reaction would be to sit bolt upright in my bed...and eventually my breath would return...until that one night. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I woke with my usual attack...only this time it didn't seem so usual. It was far worse...and I was sure that the end was near. My boys. My youngest was fast asleep in his crib and the oldest was barely five. My boys needed me. But, I couldn't get my breath back for anything...and as my lips began to tingle, I my eyes were drawn to the hallway, and there, standing in my doorway was a woman. I couldn't see her face, but I just knew she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was all dressed in a white gown...and my eyes were riveted on her. And as I looked at her, my breath gradually began coming back...and as it did...she began to fade away. She was gone when I began breathing normally.

To this day, I am unsure of what happened that night and who she was. Was She an angel? Was She the goddess? Was She an ancestor? This I will probably never know...but I've never forgotten her in all these years...and how she saved my life. And...I never had another attack.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Seven Daughters

November is here, and it ushers in the rising of Pleiades (above) which is a small cluster of bright stars located in the constellation of Taurus. The seven brightest stars are also known as "The Seven Daughter of the Sea." The Greek myth says that there were once seven maidens who came ashore and fell madly in love with the seven sons of a great chieftain. But, their love was not returned, and one by one, they died. Their seven spirits rose into the sky where they can still be seen on northern winter evenings, clustering together in their sorrow.

Oh what a wonderful evening I had last night. Very quiet. Sadly no children came for 'trick or treat' but that was expected. I live in a Hasidic neighborhood, and they don't celebrate Halloween. They have a holiday during the year which appears to be similar...where the children are dressed in costume and go door to door, but I don't recall what it is called. My son went to a Halloween party and that left hubbie and me home alone. Hubbie really doesn't celebrate Samhain, but he respects my wish to celebrate...and also knows that probably by the end of the evening I will be in an emotional state. You see, I come from a very small family; I am an only child...and my family has all passed...so I cherish the time that I spend with them. I baked some Soul Cakes and then set up my ancestral altar. I was actually wishing 'someone' would ring my doorbell because I really wanted to give out the Soul Cakes, but since no one did, I will take them to work with me tomorrow and give them to the homeless whose ranks are sadly...increasing.

During last night's ritual I felt the presence of some special guests and all in all, it was a very heartfelt evening for me. Mom, Dad...my first dog, Susie...grandparents...all were there...and for one special night, I wasn't alone anymore. Of course, I am not really alone...I have hubbie and my two boys...but there is no one left of my past. But, a new year is beginning...and with it, a time to forge new memories...to spend time with my new friends...and those who have passed on, but stay with me always.

Hope you all had a blessed evening.