Thursday's Child: Empowering Women Now?

Throughout the history of human existence, whenever a group of people live together, rules have been established to assist them in peaceful coexistence. It's an integral part of societal living, yet there is also a certain amount of brainwashing that goes with it. Men and women today are continually sent messages as to how they should look, act, and behave in order to gain success, a partner, and happiness. This plays out in our social media every day, and there comes a time when those messages become counter-intuitive to that societal peace.

Case in point:

I ran across this meme the other day from a group called "Empowering Women Now". It's a complete contradiction to that phrase.

Too often in western society, women have this message shoved down their collective throat on a daily basis. We're supposed to want a "fixer-upper", an "unfinished product", someone who is broken and can only be mended through our unconditional love. This is dangerous, not only to women, but to men as well.

 Women are given the message that broken men need them from a young age. How many times have young girls been told that boys who hit them, kick them, pull their hair, tease them, etc.. are just doing it because they like them? Society sets women up to take abuse and see it as something beautiful.

Young men are taught that women are weaker, and that being emotional is something for which they should be ashamed. "You hit like a girl!" "Run away and cry like a little girl!" Making the message clear that little girls are not to be emulated or admired.

To say that a woman is "afraid" to date a man who's a work in progress is outrageous. This is the exact type of message that so many feminists (both male and female) have been trying to overcome for so long.

So, this wild witch is going to empower both sexes right now with some words of hard-earned wisdom.

Young men: 

  • No one is responsible for your happiness but you. All human beings are a "work in progress", and you should foster your own intellectual and spiritual curiosity in order to mature and grow. 
  • Hitting, kicking, punching, teasing, and/or bullying young girls/women is for cowards. Be willing to express yourself through words. In truth, women have always loved the poets. 
  • It's not only okay to cry, it's highly encouraged and a physically/emotionally healthy thing to do.
  • Little girls hit and run very well. If you're ever accused of hitting (a baseball, preferably) or running like one, say, "Thank you!"
  • As you grow older, if you want a partner in life (male or female), find the things you have in common and do not expect this person to serve you or your needs. He/She should enhance your life, not complete you. You are complete as you stand right now.

Young women: 

  • Do not tolerate abuse from anyone. Boys who hit/kick/shove/tease you aren't worthy of your attention. If they can't use their words to talk to you, they aren't ready for someone as amazing as you.
  • Being a girl is a wonderful experience- don't allow anyone to tell you differently. You can be strong and sensitive. You can hit a baseball out of the park and run like the wind. You can cry over the death of a butterfly and sing its soul to the Otherworld. If someone thinks that's "silly" or "crazy", he/she isn't worthy of your time.
  • All human beings are a "work in progress"- what you really need to know is if his progress is on par with your own. You want a partner, not a project. 
  • You are needed- by the world, by your family, by your friends, by society. You're needed to be whole, strong, sassy, or silent as it suits you. But, you are not needed to be someone's doormat, punching bag, scapegoat, or emotional dumping ground. 
  • As you grow older, if you want a partner in life (male or female), find the things you have in common and do not believe that you have to fix this person or if you just loved him/her enough, this person would blossom into the guy/gal of your dreams. That's not how this works- it's not how ANY of this works. 

Empowering women now means teaching them not to fall for emotional blackmail, shaming, and worn-out societal memes that tell them to fix someone or support a partner who can't support him/herself. Men and women both need to be empowered to be strong and sensitive; and to continually strive to improve themselves as individuals first, then to find partners who are on the same wavelength. This is how a society is strengthened and improved. This is how we can live in peace.

Monday Meditation: The Art of Self-Care

We are nearing the end of the first month of our new year, and I'm already learning a lot about this theme of "living artfully." The first lesson has been in the art of self-care, which includes taking care of one's health.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism this month, after struggling for quite awhile with the symptoms, and chalking it up to "getting older" or "peri-menopause". One of my best friends has Hashimoto's disease (where the body attacks the thyroid, thinking it is a foreign object). She self-diagnosed years ago, and was forced to have to self-medicate due to inaccurate diagnoses from physicians. She and I had discussed the symptoms and I finally came to the conclusion that I may have an underactive thyroid. The unexplained weight gain, feeling tired all of the time, irregular menses, etc... were not simply me getting to a 'certain age', but part of a disease.

I went to the doctor and requested a thyroid panel. I was completely unaware of the impact our thyroid has on our bodies. My blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, iron content, et al.. were all out of whack. No wonder I was feeling so badly. When I shared my labs with my bff, she said, "How are you even walking upright with a TSH of 94?" My doctor immediately ordered a prescription for Nature-throid, and within a week, I was feeling much better. My skyrocketed bp went from 189/120 to 132/80, and my energy levels drastically increased. But, prescription drugs are not my only medicine.

I had to make a dietary change as well. I have to avoid gluten, and eat a high-protein, low-fat, low-carb diet going forward. My food also has to be my medicine.

Another lesson was that I must educate myself on my disease, and not just accept everything that a doctor says as the gospel. Hypothyroidism is under-diagnosed and misunderstood. I've learned from many who have this disease that doctors are grossly undereducated where this is concerned. I got lucky. My doctor is phenomenal. She knew exactly what tests to order, and what to do with me. Most patients go through an average of 2-3 doctors before finding one that is willing to listen and act accordingly.

Self-care also has to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of one's life. Hypothyroidism can cause depression and a feeling of malaise. It is important that I take care of my connections to the earth and to my own emotional well-being.

As I am gaining more energy, I feel more like working out and doing those physical activities which also bring me joy. Artful living is turning out to be a lot of work, but  worth it.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. I highly recommend that you take a moment to look at the 300 symptoms of hypothyroidism.  If you see yourself in those, get tested immediately. This is a dangerous disease, and people die from it daily. It can also morph into other diseases like lymphoma. It is hereditary, and therefore, my children and grandchildren will need to be on the lookout for its symptoms. After studying up on this, I firmly believe my grandmother had hypothyroidism, but was never diagnosed until it became lymphoma.

Your physical health is critical to your overall well-being. In Paganism, we pride ourselves on personal responsibility. We don't blame our issues on things like "original sin" or a "devil".  We embrace our choices and their consequences, and are admonished to consider those consequences when making choices. I would argue that our health is also part of that personal responsibility. If you aren't feeling well, take action to determine the root cause, and make changes accordingly.

It's something to consider...

Sláinte (to your good health!)

Farewell, Ziggy Goblin King

This morning, I woke up and began to rue the day I put the "Breaking News" app on my phone. The first thing I read this morning at 5am was that David Bowie had died, just two days after his 69th birthday. I haven't been able to shake the "SAD" since. The interwebs are filled with tributes and love, and we all know what we, the world, have lost.

I grew up with David Bowie all over the radio, television, movies, et al.. he expressed himself with his very existence. He was a work of art. His genuine embrace of his own "weirdness" gave so many people permission to do the same. He was brilliant, deep, and from all indications, a truly kind human being. Whatever creative endeavor he shared, we were enthralled with it, and with him.

He was able to reach across generational, political, cultural, and color lines because he blurred all of them with his presence. He was androgynous, beautiful, handsome, shiny, and unique.

On a day like today, we would say that the world is a little dimmer, but in truth, the night sky is filled with his starry presence and in his passing, he shines on brightly.

My favorite quote for today comes from Simon Pegg's twitter account:

"If you are sad today, just remember that the world is over 4 billion years' old, and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."

Yes, we are all the better for his having been here. I am reminded of the poem by Marianne Williamson in which she says,
 "... and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others"

That is just one of the many gifts that David Bowie gave us. We will miss our Ziggy Stardust Goblin King Man Who Sold the World, but we also know that he left a legacy and impact that so few of us will ever be able to do, all just by embracing who he was.

May his adventures continue to enthrall and embrace the next world he inhabits.

Monday Meditation: Of Eagles and Crows

I've been feeling a little out of sorts lately, particularly in my spiritual life. It's a sense of restlessness and disconnection that makes me question what it is I truly believe and what path I want to explore, if any. Over the holidays, I've put it on the back burner, not really wanting to deal with that right now, just wanting to clean up from the old year and prepare for the new.

Yesterday, my son and I were taking our dog for a walk, and one of my totems showed up, flying just overhead. My son said, "Mom, is that an eagle?" I absentmindedly replied, "M-hmm", while watching what this eagle was doing. My son said, "What's he doing all the way out here?"  He kept circling over my head in a more-or-less figure-8 pattern for a couple of minutes, and I said, "Being harassed by crows." One, then two, then four, then six crows showed up, tormenting him unmercifully. He eventually flew off, and the crows broke off their forcible escort, but I've been contemplating the meaning of that entire encounter since.

Eagle represents our connection to "Great Spirit" (or God/Goddess/Mystery, your choice of nomenclature gets inserted here).  Crows are not one of my totems, although I love them dearly.  Crow has many different representations, depending on the culture. For some, crow represents universal law. For others, they are either "good or bad" omens. They also represent The Morrigan, and I've had quite a few magical encounters with crows throughout my life.

In nature, crows are very territorial. This particular bunch ( I don't call them a 'murder'- the scientific name is 'flock') already dukes it out each week with the local hawks, who refuse to give up territory as well. Yesterday's encounter was the first time I'd seen an eagle in the area.

What does it all mean? I'm not exactly sure. I have some ideas. Clearly, I am being asked to address this disconnect I feel, and the struggle between the connection and the interpretation of that connection is evident through that interaction. It looks like a good time to cocoon for awhile and contemplate the lesson.

How about you? Do you ever see messages in nature? Do your totems speak to you like this or in another way? Post a comment or send me a message. I'd love to hear your story.

Sláinte! *

*Sláinte (pronounced SLAWN-shuh) means "to your good health" or as a general greeting/closing.

Good-bye Dauntless- Hello Artfulness :)

2015: The Year of Living Dauntlessly was a pretty darned good year. I chose to live by a theme, rather than set goals, and it really changed how I approached situations and life in general. Whenever I'd start to feel down, or upset by a challenge presented to me, I remembered my theme, and behaved accordingly. I also put my own twist on the jar idea; the one where you get a jar, put all of the good things that happened to you in it, and review at the end of the year.

I chose to write down each time I acted in accordance with my theme, instead. Then, I discovered that one of my friends, Sharon Rawson of Touch of the Goddess, makes jars- really PRETTY jars. So, I asked her if she would make me one. She did such a beautiful job on my "Dauntless" jar, that in November of 2015, I asked if she would make me a new one for this year's theme: The Year of Living Artfully. It's just as beautiful and creative as her first one. I only have one regret: I wish I had thought of this years ago.

How cool to have a beautiful collection of themed jars with your accomplishments for each inside! I suppose I'll have to stick around on this plane long enough to collect a few.. of course, this means that you, Sharon, have to do the same, sorry ;)

I've already begun the year by ordering some beautiful 2016 calendars with art and wisdom. One is already up in my home office. It features the artwork of Nicholas Kirsten Honshin, whose work is simply breathtaking. The other will go with me to work on Monday, and contains beautiful nature photography and the wisdom of Pema Chodron.

This weekend, I'll be working on creating a new site, now that I actually have my domain back (, and a new pinterest board with artful things I either like or want to try.  I'm already excited about exploring what it means to live an artful life.  I hope you'll check in with me occasionally to join in on this adventure.

How about you? What are your plans for this next year?

May your 2016 be filled with the blessings of peace, joy, adventure, good health and harmony.