I like Valentine’s Day as much as the next cynical person. I will bitch and moan about how it’s a made up BS “holiday” all the while happily going out for heart shaped pizza with my love.
One thing I am rather rabid about though, is self love.
I like to use this day to check in on myself and my progress, in what is my most important relationship. Me + Me.
The relationship I have with myself is evolving and improving every day. I didn’t always have the best love for me and some days I’m better at it than others but I’ve learned to never give up on myself. I hope this reminder post to myself and the memes and quotes I’m going to spam you with, encourages the same, in you.
Our walk through the Maasai Village led us further afield over a narrow path to the top of a small slope. Below us was our home for the night, staying within the protective walls of our host family.
Now full. disclosure. This is something I would NEVER normally do. Had it been an advertised part of my trip I would have not booked the trip. Seriously. To me, the whole idea of visiting a village like this is not unlike a human zoo and I have a major problem with that. Also, I’m an introvert. I am hugely uncomfortable with forced interactions with humans. This whole thing wasn’t supposed to be part of our tour but it was changed at the last minute for reasons unknown to us. We decided as a group to just trust and go with the flow, which is what we did. Our last experience in a village was respectful so we were expecting (and trusting) that this one would be the same but we ALL had ethical questions running through our minds about the whole thing.
The elder whom was hosting us, introduced us to his family. One wife and five children! It was the one wife part that was unusual. In the first village the wives were surprised that we didn’t share one husband and here we were, surprised that this gent had but one wife 🙂
We settled in with a hot drink…
And were then invited to watch them kill and process a lamb, in honour of …us.
We’d been offered this before and politely declined this but something must have been lost in translation. A lot of us were vegetarians and the rest, very sensitive people , so things got tense in our little tent! But our voices were heard -kind of- and we were led up the hill out of earshot while the goat was slaughtered.
Whilst on the hill, we stood around listening to the sounds of the cows and lucky goats. Every herd has a different bell so that each community member can tell by sound, who’s livestock belong to whom! I thought that was interesting and clever. The animals were like music 🙂
Once the coast was clear, so to speak, we were invited to come back and visit a lady who had just had a baby. Our guide suggested this to us and we actually refused at first because…. holy crap! She JUST had a baby. That felt so intrusive! The opposite of what we were going for. Elijah pressed and pressed then went and asked her because we would not go without her permission, and having gotten it, he led us to her home.
We ended up having to crouch and turn sideways to get into the new mum’s boma. That’s how narrow the passageway was. It was jet black inside and smoky as fuck. I started to panic and withdrew from the line of ladies all holding hands. They went in without me. They later said they couldn’t see much because they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces. And this Maasai woman had had her baby in there! Wow. Much respect.
While they were in the boma, I was surrounded by a huge group of kids. Another lady had decided to stay back so I wasn’t alone, and she was not having a time. A large group of kids can be very overwhelming. I was grateful for her company, because what happened next was really upsetting for BOTH of us.
In my past life I was a special needs teacher. I’m comfortable around kids, large groups of kids so I just put on my teacher hat and went to work. It was all great fun! The kids were full of laughs and then they started asking us for stuff, which we didn’t have- nor would have given anyway- Then, they got grabby. Going so far as to poke around in our pockets looking for treats and when it was clear there was nothing for them, they became angry and the whole mood changed.
We turned to one another and with a nod, walked away. The change was so quick and it was made very clear that tourist visits were having a negative effect on those kids. We were doing harm. However unintentional, our visit to their home was doing harm. The exact thing we feared.
Our evening was spent with the rest of ladies talking about ethics and impact, how begging culture begets dependency, in between learning how meat is roasted over an open fire and a song and dance performance, where I am proud to say I have been told I have a beautiful singing voice, ha ha.
We tried to enjoy our evening but found we just couldn’t. The whole thing felt wrong. Where else was the negative impact of tourism being felt? How else were we harming?
I believe strongly in ethical, sustainable tourism that empowers and improves the lives of locals. I do. And I really feel its not up to me to decide what that looks like. Or what is right and what is wrong, for other people who invite people into their lives so graciously. So I’m really conflicted about all of this. I just know that I have to live by my moral compass and its screaming at me about the whole thing. Even months later.
I hear some changes have been made to the tour so as to have less of an impact, and that’s really positive. Time will tell. The whole experience was an eye opener.
We woke up the next morning and took our leave, feeling humbled by the generosity of the people who’d hosted us and eager to start our next adventure.
I love Mondays. This one in particular because it’s the start of the first full week in January and the first full week of 2019. ( Technically, Sunday is the first day of the week, but whatevs! )
I feel like I need a rest from all the resting I did over Yule. The Hubs and I became one with the couch and it was AWESOME! I’ve never been able to just be so this was HUGE for me. I finally learned how to rest. A great achievement.
Did you make any intentions? I have two:
Be Kind To Myself.
I’m pretty awesome everywhere else so that’s all I need.
Ha Ha Ha!
Ok. I’m pretty average. The truth is I view this time of year with mixed thoughts. On the one hand I like the idea of a fresh start. As humans, we love our clean slates, the chance to symbolically start anew. On the other hand, sometimes this time of year can feel like an assault.
YOU ARE FLAWED. YOU NEED TO FIX SOMETHING!
Meh. I’m just not about that. It encourages perfectionism and I’m not down with that. Perfectionism is anxiety in disguise. I have enough of that on my own. I don’t need to willfully add anymore.
So. Today I bring you this:
I’m going to celebrate learning how to rest and making it through my yearly dark days. How about you?
Every year I choose a word or a phrase to use as a short of guidepost and inspiration for the upcoming 365 days.
In the past my focus has been on love and truth. One year I did fun and last year I chose a phrase – I don’t know- to help me with uncertainty.
This year I choose trust. And as soon as I choose the word, an opportunity to practice it was presented to me.
Two, actually. I just LOVE that!
I was in the mall, one frequented by the elderly.( You know the type ) When a slightly unkempt man started to make a fuss. Talking to himself in distress ” This is JUST great!” he says, throwing his hands up in the air. I kept walking, ignoring him because the dude seems a little unhinged. Something was off.
Well of course dude approaches me. They always do. I’m a magnet for weirdos. ” Excuse me?!” Fuck. I keep walking but raise an eyebrow at him and off he goes! Into a long spiel about how he’s called the police numerous times and is getting no help and he’s lost this and he’s lost that and he really needs help. Its a bullshit, cockeyed story. Dude is trying to scam me for money. I cut straight to the chase ” You want money?” Yeah, he nods at me. “Not gonna happen. The bus driver might let you on for free if you ask nicely though” and off I go. Trusting in my wisdom and not falling for his nonsense, I alerted security and they called the cops, so yay for that!
Now, I’m used to trusting my wisdom when it comes to situations like that. I have plenty of practice! ( The stories I could tell … ) What I’m not skilled at is trusting in the opposite direction. Trusting that other humans mean well.
Enter opportunity numero dos!
I’m sitting at the bus station, minding my business when the older lady beside me strikes up a conversation. We start yapping. Soon we’re fast friends, older versions of drunk girls in bathroom bars. Ha ha!
Her bus comes and she reaches into her bag and pulls out another bag, filled with obviously homemade doughnuts. ” Take these. I made them this morning and tucked them in my bag to give to someone along the way” she says to me kindly. I graciously accept, touched by sweetness and pop them in my own bag. Off she goes. Her name was Olga.
Now OLD Lael, would have tossed that bag of treats straight in the garbage. How would she know if they were safe to eat or not, right? Yeah, Olga seemed lovely and kind but could I really be sure? Nope.
Here’s the thing though: We can NEVER really be sure. About anything. Or anyone. Nothing is in our control. Nothing is certain. Now was I going to toss the doughnuts OR use this neat encounter to practice my 2019 word?
Being the bad ass soul warrior that I am, I leapt at the chance to trust. Also, doughnuts!
They were delicious and perfectly safe. I didn’t die. I didn’t get food poisoning. I enjoyed a treat from a new friend and felt the shackles loosen a bit from around my heart.
So yes, I engaged in an act of trust with another human but more importantly, I engaged in an act of trust with MYSELF.
I trusted that I was a good judge of character in that moment. I trusted my instincts and I trusted my intellect. I trusted my HEART.
I aim to do more of that in 2019. I’m just so curious to see where else this word takes me.
How about you? Do you chose a word for the new year? Do tell?!
We made it! Well, some of us. Its such a gift to live to see another day.
I honestly feel really uncomfortable saying that. I know for a fact a lot of people don’t think another day is a gift. Another day of suffering. Woohoo. *eye roll. Shelter, food and safety would be the real gift. Good health would be another.
I live with someone who thinks his life has gone on way too long and considers death, the real gift. The impulse to scold him or try and “inspire” him to change his mind is strong. I’ve since learned its actually pretty fucking hurtful, annoying and not the least bit helpful to do so. Not to mention totally disrespectful and reeking of my good privilege. Gah!
How’s this: If you’re happy and grateful to have another day, YAY! Let’s do this!
If having another day brings you nothing but sorrow and suffering. I’m sorry. May you be free from suffering. I love you.
You all know what camp I’m in! I am excited and grateful for another day, another week, another month , another year. Hopefully I get all those!
You see, I’ve got some plans 🙂 Some things I’m looking forward to.
Its six months until Lune, my birthday month. One whole month devoted to Moi. An entire month of intentionally devoting my days to the joy of being me in this world. I highly recommend all people celebrate themselves this way. 1. its fun 2. the very act of doing so shows others that you know you are worthy of respect and love 3. you get to act the fool for a month and GET AWAY WITH IT 4. you totally deserve it! 5. It really fosters a loving relationship with yourself, over time. You might feel silly at first but it wont be long before you’re planning fucking trips to Europe for your 50th. 6. It spills out positively in other areas of your life.
Planning my garden. I want to grown some more unusual -for me- things this year. And I cannot wait to eat the shit out of my asparagus patch ❤
Being all creative. I’ve got an idea for some paintings and some bracelets and some scarves and some decorations and some rocks…
Book Club! We’ve got some good books picked out and the ladies in the club are just the BEST. I’m excited to get to know them better. I’m excited for more fun and shenanigans!
Mr. OV and Ms. Sassafras turn one and five. I’m excited to watch them as they grow and develop further.
Walking and hiking in nicer weather. Our winter thus far has been lovely! If only people would CLEAR THE FUCKING ICE OFF THEIR SIDEWALKS! Ahem. Sorry. I’m looking forward to stress free walking and hikes in the woods.
Our road trip to a little mountain town and a couple of zips on a coaster!
Getting back on my Hubs motorcycle. It feels so good to zoom through the warm air with nothing between me and the sky but my clothing.
All the little holidays and celebrations that are coming up.
Family dinner, lunches and brunches.
Meals out with friends.
My big solo trip to one of my favourite places on Earth. Just me, my ocean and my trees. Back to my Sea Witch roots 🙂
Opening up my big jar of good memories for the year.
Becoming my own boss. I mean I am, already. I just don’t get paid for it. Ha ha. I’m talking about earning all the moola as my own boss.
More bird song. Kinda like more cow bell.
Every new recipe I’m going to try.
Every new drink the coffee places bring out this year.
More time with the people who love me.
The funny memes that make me laugh, the inspirational quotes that shore me up and the poems that empower me.
The moments of wonder in Nature that stop me and fill my heart and soul.
Lazy days of reading.
Hectic days of doing ALL THE THINGS!
Camping. Hopefully. If we get a new hoopty or fix the old one.
Becoming stronger, stable and more bendy.
Those weird little moments in life that make you think and feel.
Geesh! I could go on and on 🙂 Now, its your turn! What are you looking forward to?
Where and how were you most helpful in this world?
What brought out a sense a wonder in you ?
What was your greatest mistake?
What was your greatest success?
What scared the crap out of you?
When were you brave?
How did you best love yourself?
How did you best love others?
Name one embarrassing moment!
Brag about one thing shamelessly
What was your biggest lesson in 2018?
I love lists and I love reflecting. Won’t you join me in doing so? Take my questions and answer them here or on your own blog. (Please be sure to link back to me so I can see them!)
Name the hardest thing you experienced this year? Choosing between people I liked, loved even, and my strong moral code. The choosing wasn’t hard, I knew what I was doing was right, it was hard because I went against the wishes of people and that hurt them. My work child and her mum, especially.
Name the easiest! Spending time with and loving the stuffing out of my grandbabies. Enjoying my pets and finally having enough in me to give them their due!
What friendships inspired you the most? I have a friend, I met at work who is the softest, kindest, least judgemental person on the planet. Just being with her, is like being in a perma-hug. We’ve never been close but this year, she really figured prominently in my life with her kind words and her soothing way of being. She inspired me to keep opening myself up to softness and vulnerability.
Where and how were you most helpful in this world? With people. My main agenda in life is to inspire, empower and encourage others. I am your biggest fan. A perpetual cheerleader.
What brought out a sense a wonder in you ? Nature. Always Nature. In particular the sky and the animals I met in Tanzania.
What was your greatest mistake? Staying at my job longer than my expiration date and living in the past.
What was your greatest success? Quitting my job to shock of EVERYONE who knows me and travelling as my weird and witchy self 🙂
What scared the crap out of you? Flying into and landing at an airport in a wee plane, sideways. All skitchy and out of control!
When were you brave? All of last year. Every day. Living each moment. Experiencing the unknown.
How did you best love yourself? I spent the last year, keeping my promises, listening to my body, heart, soul and mind and really cultivating boundaries and a personal code of honour.
How did you best love others? I have tried my best to become a better listener and to love people exactly as they are.
Name one embarrassing moment! Ha! The time I got “trapped ” in a washroom in Amsterdam behind a door I was pushing on when I should have been pulling. It had a very strong magnet as well as a lock so when I did try to pull it, I wasn’t using enough force. I called out to the loooong line of ladies waiting in the common area and they assisted me. *groan!
Brag about one thing shamelessly! I am brave, kind, loving and wise. I am a badass divine being of light. (You are too)
What was your biggest lesson in 2018? You have to take full responsibility for your life and everything in it. Your experience is entirely up to you. You own you. You owe you. Blaming other people is just a waste of your precious time. If you want something YOU have to make it happen. YOU are responsible for your own happiness…your own … everything!
I’m somewhat Witchy these days and a lot of my traditions really stem from my heathen/pagan/nature worshippin’ ways. The older I get, the more “me” I become, which is most interesting because sometimes I look at myself and think – Who ARE you anyway?- Its most fun to become one’s truest self.
My Yule starts with the Solstice, which takes place in the northern hemisphere on December 21, 2018 at ohhh….3:23 PM. My first order of business:
Wake and thank Chaos and Order for bringing back the light.
Watch the sun rise, from beginning to end.
Light ALL my candles and do a happy dance at 3:23 PM. I always feel so grateful for the slow and steady return of longer days. I am a fair weather person with a wonky brain, the returning light means I’ll suffer less and enjoy more.
Enjoy a special meal, something “earthy”. For me this is anything with mushrooms but it has to be healthy. I was going to make a hot mushroom salad this year but my Hubs is not keen on that so we’re having mushroom pizza, ha ha. Sometimes in life you have to compromise. We’ll have the salad another day and besides I’d really rather have something I don’t have to cook, on a Friday night after grocery shopping anyway!
I watch the sunset from beginning to end no matter where I am.
In the evening, by candlelight, I have myself a sit, and then reflect upon the dark, the light and set my intentions for the next seasons. I promptly forget then five seconds after I’m done but still…I think they swim around in there and affect positive change somehow.
My dream for this day is to have a yard big enough to have a bonfire in. One day….oh! And while we’re dreaming, I’d also love a fireplace or woodstove for a Yule log too. Next year I’m going to make a buche de noel because … cake!! AND because the buche de noel takes the place of the Yule log which was kept burning all night on Solstice’s past. It has a really cool history.
There all sorts of Pagan traditions mixed in amongst the Christmas stuff … a little fact I take great pleasure in, especially when I hear all the nonsense about the so called war on Christmas.
Little by little Yule is coming back to life in my family. More and more people I know are celebrating it as such too. We have to do the things that have meaning to our lives. Celebrating the Holidays as they are now was slowly killing off my soul. Screw that!
How do you celebrate? Are you a cultural renegade too? What traditions do you have that are not of the norm?