Dec 31, 2011

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Phew!  Between Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Jack's graduation party last night, I am all partied out.  So my New Year's Eve celebration tonight will be a quiet night in, I think.  A couple of movies, some drinks, watch the ball drop, and get my midnight kiss.  Sounds good to me!

Hope everyone has a fabulous New Year!

Dec 29, 2011

30 before 31

I've been inpsired by a number of bloggers this year who came up with goal lists for the upcoming year - sort of like New Year's resolutions, but based around goals to finish before your birthday instead.  I liked Elizabeth's post about coming up with a 25 before 26 goal list (she also posted a 23 before 24 list a couple of years ago), and Jen's 30 by 30 list.  I just turned 30 earlier this month (ACK!  Sorry, I'm still not quite over the shock of that one yet).  I thought it would be a great idea to start off my 30s on a positive note by creating my own list of goals to finish before I turn 31 - they're meant to be easy to accomplish in the space of a year, though some are more serious and life-impacting than others.

So here it is - my 30 before 31 list!

  1. Make my blog more awesome and increase readership - Always working on this! :)  I moved to a better blogging platform, started a weekly feature to share pagan music, and I've now found a focus for my blog that most inspires me.  I also participated in Bloggiesta in March, which was super helpful.
  2. Get my 1st degree initiation - as it turns out, I was denied initiation and I was released from my coven as of March 24.  I'm still regrouping from that.
  3. Clean out my old room at my parents’ house - I made a big dent the last time I went home!
  4. Get a tattoo to commemorate finishing my 1st degree of the mark given to me by Gwynn Ap Nudd
  5. Take a real vacation with Jack (even if it’s only a weekend getaway)
  6. Get a new primary care physician - I had an appointment on 7/11.
  7. Get a rheumatologist
  8. Get back on migraine meds
  9. Talk to a doctor about getting on anxiety meds
  10. Take at least one creative writing class
  11. Break into freelance writing and/or editing
  12. Create a kick-ass writing portfolio
  13. Get a better, more fulfilling job
  14. Meet Jack’s parents
  15. Sell/donate more of my unwanted books, clothes, etc.
  16. Finish my British Columbia scrapbook
  17. Look into acupuncture - I found out my health insurance covers it now.  Score! 
  18. Get my college diploma framed
  19. Visit Gettysburg again
  20. Visit a museum that I’ve never visited before
  21. Organize a reunion for high school classmates in the DC area
  22. Sit down to cross-stitch once a week
  23. Learn a new craft
  24. Cook Thai-style chicken curry from scratch
  25. Get back into yoga
  26. Learn how to use my new camera to take better photos
  27. Grow my hair long again - well, it's growing.  Slowly.
  28. Learn new hairstyles for said long hair (other than braided or in a ponytail)
  29. Start an indoor herb garden - I have a kit and planted it a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately it's looking pretty sad, I don't think there will be many plants that mature.
  30. Go on a photoshoot in the park with Sha-na-na

Have you come up with a similar list?  Post it in the comments!

Dec 16, 2011

The Zen of cross-stitch

I just found out there is a Joann Fabric right across the street from my neighborhood, and they have cross-stitch supplies.

You guys, how did I not know this?? Now I can buy lots of cross-stitch thread and use all of my cross-stitch-ready towels and such, and fulfill my dreams of stitching up towels with silly and snarky messages a-la Subversive Cross Stitch.

But seriously, I love counted cross-stitch. It's so zen - so calming to the mind and body, to just relax into the rhythm of counting and stitching. It's really good for my anxiety since it helps quiet the mind. My Mom used to cross-stitch when I was a kid, which is how I got it in my head to try it. I need to do more of it, but my lack of access to supplies had limited me to kits that came with everything needed to complete a project. The kits are good, though, because they provide easy instructions on how to start, how to make the stitches needed for the project, etc. My first project was a colorful and relatively simple kit that taught me 3 basic stitches. The back is a mess, but I really like the result!

Tak Time cross-stitch 
Right now I'm working on a kit that, when finished, will show a puppy sleeping on a blanket with the words "Never underestimate the power of a nap." I've been working on this one for... well, let's just say I started it a long time ago :)

sleepy puppy cross-stitch 

So which crafts do you do to relax - what is your crafting zen? Let me know in the comments!

Dec 14, 2011

New camera

Last May, my trusty Olympus subcompact camera went missing at a party - it's likely that someone walked off with it, though it's anyone's guess if it was accidental or intentional. So I asked my parents to help out with the cost of a new, better camera as my birthday and Yule gift.

I tested out my new camera by taking photos of my altar, newly set up for the winter sabbats. The lit candle in the center is my Yule candle from last winter. As you can see from what little is left of it, it's been a rough year.

My altar, December 2011
Yes, my crystals asked to be arranged in the shape of a wave. Perhaps I was channeling the god of radio signals?

Also on my altar are (clockwise from bottom) 2 pieces of sacred jewelry, candles dedicated to the Goddess of Reflections and Mama Cocha, my tools, a stuffed tiger "fetish" of sorts protecting my chant journal and several tarot decks, and a flute gifted to me recently by a coven mate.

Hope everyone is having a good December. The solstice will be here in just a week, and then the days will start getting lighter again - hurray!

Dec 2, 2011

Sorry for my month-long disappearance. Honestly, too depressed and/or stressed to feel inspired enough to write.

I've also been re-evaluating the purpose of this blog. Perhaps it's too narrowly focused, and would benefit from being more broad in what I post here - like, being more about spirituality in general (with posts about depression/anxiety from a pagan perspective), rather than *just* depression/anxiety from a pagan perspective.

While I ponder that, have a funny but very poignant look at the cycle of depression from Hyperbole and a Half:

Oct 31, 2011

Samhain blessings

Blessed Samhain and happy new year to all my fellow pagans in the Northern Hemisphere! For those in the south, happy Beltane!

Right now I am drinking tea, watching cheesy Halloween movies like Teen Wolf and Queen of the Damned (later on I will watch Hocus Pocus), and giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. So far, only one kid has come costumeless - as is my policy, I gave her a hard time but gave her a piece of candy anyway.

Ah - I spoke too soon. A whole gaggle of teenage boys just showed up with no costumes. Seriously, is it so difficult to even put on a little spooky make-up? Borrow your sister's eyeliner if you have to. Sheesh.

Jack told me he's never seen Hocus Pocus and has no interest in watching it with me. Say what? It's like, practically a Halloween tradition to watch it. Bette Midler, Sara Jessica Parker ( "Amok! Amok amok amok!"), and Kathy Najimy as 3 sister witches running... well, amok in modern-day Salem - what's not to love?

Later I will raise a toast to my ancestors and departed loved ones, and leave a shot on the mantle for them. Hopefully we have some whiskey to leave for my Celtic ancestors. If not, I get the feeling both my Celtic and Germanic roots would appreciate the glory that is tequila. Hail to the ancestors!

What are your Samhain traditions?

Oct 19, 2011


I've been too tired and busy over the last week to really sit down and write in here. So instead, in light of my totally geeky Doctor Who reference last week, I thought I should share this video I found showcasing just how bananas about bananas Russel T. Davies is.

Oct 13, 2011

It's bananas

This week has seriously blown chunks. I've been realizing (and re-realizing) that there are serious problems with several important things in my life, including my job and my spiritual work. Also, the office has been having serious issues with internet and email connectivity, making it exceedingly difficult to do my work effectively. Suffice it to say, I'm having some serious anxiety and anger management issues because of it. I've been in quite the foul mood all week. Thank you, crazy brain, for making me blow up at my boyfriend just for making silly (and irritating) noises at me.

My cousins pretty much sum up how I feel about this week:


I've been trying to be nice to myself to at least balance things out, and possibly cheer myself up. Some of this involved pampering myself, deservedly so. So far this week:
  1. Holed up in my room with Hulu and a beer.
  2. Went to the salon and got my hair shampooed (the best part!), trimmed, and blow-dried (also quite nice). I seriously had to resist the urge to make happy noises while she was playing with my hair.
  3. Convinced my boyfriend to play with my hair while we watched Restaurant Impossible. And made lots of happy noises.
  4. Had a really delicious chocolate cupcake. Okay, two.
  5. Made myself a really big mug of hot chocolate. Seriously, this mug can hold about 2 normal mugs worth of hot chocolate, and that makes me so happy. I'm thoroughly enjoying that right now.
  6. Listened to my friends Peter and SarahKat on their podcast, We Like This Now. (You should go listen too. They're pretty awesome, and taste-test a new beer each week.)
I'm debating whether I should go to Target after work for some retail therapy. It would be kind of fun to have some new clothes to wear to a party I'm going to Saturday night. And it would seriously boost my step count for the 2011 Walk & Ride Challenge.

Alright, you know what? This calls for some serious pick-me-up music. As SarahKat said of this song, "that was bananas!" I like bananas. Bananas are good. Have some bananas.

Oct 6, 2011

Visions of the moon

Last year at my tradition's Yule ritual I had one of the most emotional and powerful ritual experiences of my life. Given the coming dark of the winter, I felt it a good time to share my experiences from this ritual.

In this ritual, we are visited by 3 aspecting priests/priestesses - the Raven of the Void, the White Lady, and the Sun King. The Raven compels us to dig deep and keen out all of the negativity from the past year, releasing it into the void. Then the White Lady and the Sun King help us to find our inner light to carry us through the next year.

The keening had me facing many of my demons. I cried and screamed like I never have before. I found myself experiencing, very powerfully, the vision of my depression - a dark, endless, turbulent pool filled with grasping beings pulling me down. Allowing myself to bring all of my pain to the surface for the keening, while cathartic, made it that much more difficult to free myself from it when it came time to find the light.

I don't even remember what the White Lady or Sun King said. I stood there quietly whimpering, trapped in this vision of drowning. Finally I called out on the astral for help. I saw the moon appear, and its reflection shone down on the water. Then the reflection of the moon solidified into a platform, with a ladder. A goddess' hand reached down from the sky and pulled me up onto the platform, and calmed the waters. I rested on the platform, shaken and battered and worn out, but at peace for the moment.

Image by peasap via Flickr

It's a good tool for a quick self-assessment of my emotional state. I bring up that vision and feel out where I am in that scenario - am I underwater? holding on to the platform? On the platform? Sitting here at my desk, I took a quick look with my inner eye and realized I'm actually sitting cross-legged on top of the platform, gazing up at the moon.

And when I'm feeling like I'm drowning, I can use the imagery of the moon platform to calm down and gather myself. Sometimes I can only grasp onto the side, or swim closer. It's even helpful just knowing it's there when I need it.

Oct 5, 2011

Use your pain to propel you forward

One year ago at Mabon, Hades (aspected by my high priest) recognized that I was drowning in my own emotional pain. He told me that I needed to use my pain to propel me forward.

Hades and Persephone

At the time I had no idea what this meant. How can the thing that's drowning you also move you forward? So I let it mull for a very long time.

I figured out recently that writing in this blog is how I am doing that. I'm using this blog as a tool to air out all that emotional crap and find new ways to heal and move on with my life. It's like when you're floundering in big waves at the beach - you use the forward movement of the waves to propel you back to shore.

Sep 28, 2011

Self care

As you can imagine I've been doing a lot of self care over the last couple of weeks, what with being so sick, twice. Lots of clear fluids, resting in bed w/ my old friend Hulu, applesauce, resting on the couch in front of the tv, pills, resting in my boyfriend's bed in front of his tv, oh and did i mention resting?

Also, letting Jack take care of me, too. He's such a sweetheart. He's been giving me lots of hugs and snuggles, kept checking on my temperature, fetched food and water for me when i was too tired to get off the couch. He even drove me to the urgent care center in Beltsville and then the pharmacy afterwards last night.

I've been thinking a lot about self care, and what techniques work (and don't work) for me, mostly in the context of my emotional health. Obviously, focusing on repeating, negative visions doesn't work. Fighting with my boyfriend doesn't work.

Sometimes I light a candle on my altar and pray to my gods to get me through.

One of my primary coping strategies has been similar to what i do when i'm sick - rest in front of the tv or Hulu to take my mind off things, comfort foods, tea. Chamomile is particularly calming to my nerves. If I want company, snuggling with Jack and letting him play with my hair or rub my feet are also soothing.

...Oh cheesus. I just realized that last paragraph reads too much like the reports I write for work. So with that, I think it's time to wrap up and go watch another episode of Hell's Kitchen. Maybe finally Elise will get kicked off and the drama will end..

Sep 27, 2011

Fact vs. Fiction

Things have been rough lately. I've managed to come down with 2 bad illnesses in the past 2 weeks - what was likely a viral UTI (no treatment for that one, joy) and strep throat, the latter of which left me with a high fever for 4 days, painful joints, swollen tonsils, throbbing lymph nodes, and a trip to urgent care. I felt like a walking, achy, raspy radiator.

old radiator 

I was actually rather frightened about what the fever meant, and I had a nice little panic attack - complete with repeating visions of being forced screaming into a spinal tap - about what would happen if I went to the hospital and what they would find.

Yeah, my mind can be a scary place sometimes. I still can't really separate out fact from fantasy - which visions are real, psychic visions? which are hallucinations brought on by depression, anxiety, fear, and imagination? This makes dealing with panic attacks even more difficult, because I become convinced that what I see will come to pass, particularly when I'm not thinking clearly.

I guess the best thing to do is not to dwell on them too much, particularly the negative ones. That only feeds my will into the energy of that pathway and makes it more likely to actually occur.

Sep 11, 2011


A blogging friend of mine recently posted about how she thinks she's finally figured out what kind of depression she has - atypical depression. Out of curiosity I started reading the Wikipedia article, to better understand what she's going through.

I was surprised to learn that there is a type of depression where you aren't sad all the time - positive events can lead to temporary improvements in mood. That "mood reactivity" has always been my experience, ever since the onset of my depression in college. Dancing, especially, always puts me in very high spirits. I mostly figured I had some form of bipolar disorder.

I am well aware of the problems of self-diagnosis, so mostly this just has me thinking thinky thoughts about what the heck might be going on inside my head.
Related links:

Sep 9, 2011

Borders raid, the second

Okay, I admit it. I went back to Borders today to see if there was anything left worth buying. With the going-out-of-business sale almost over, I figured there would be scant few books left. There were still a decent number of books, though I only found 2 pagan-y books, both not of interest.

I ended up finding 2 books that interested me, and I figured at 70% off I wasn't risking much by buying them. The first one is a novel called Blind Sight by Meg Howrey. According to the liner notes, it's about a teen learning the difference between truth and belief, using the tropes of an earthy spiritual mother and a glamorous Hollywood father.

The second book is a cookbook called Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prasad. It's all sorts of recipes that are grain-free, lactose-free, and sugar-free. Good stuff for detoxing, which I know is helpful for my mental and physical health. I've also been reading and hearing a lot about how gluten and casein are inflammatory proteins, and they can aggravate - and sometimes be the cause of - all sorts of physical and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, celiac disease, and fibromyalgia (to name a few). I think it would be of benefit to me to try reducing the amount of gluten and casein I ingest to see if it helps.

Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet 
I probably won't be going back to Borders before it closes for good. There wasn't much else I would want to peruse. Also, all the empty shelves make me a sad panda.

sad panda!

Sep 6, 2011

When anxiety attacks

My boyfriend J and I went up to stay at my parents' house this weekend so that we could attend my friend K's wedding.  And because my brain hates me, I was dealing with an escalating anxiety/panic cycle all day.  My heart was beating faster than normal, and I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about everything from the condition of my skin to which route I would take to drive home.  And I think my blood pressure was high - or maybe my hormones were all of out whack? - because I felt like I was getting hot flashes all day.

Then during the drive up, J and I had a very tense conversation that left me feeling hurt and attacked, when in fact I was saying some things that were somewhat irrational (but felt true at the time).

I really, really should have tried grounding myself to get it under control.  J even found my hematite in the car - I really should have taken that as a sign.  But of course, instead, I spent all day inwardly denying what was going on.  Gods, I am one stubborn Irishwoman.

Come bedtime, and I can't find the pillow I usually sleep on when I'm at my parents', my teddy bear (oh hush), or the books I had accidentally left there the last time.  Cue full-blown panic attack.  I started freaking out about how I wouldn't be able to sleep, and how I thought my Mom had thrown them away.  I scoured the whole house and couldn't find them (I was actually pretty thorough in my search - my Mom is just really good at "putting things away" in places that make no sense.)  Poor J bore the brunt of it, and I definitely kept him awake while I kept going in and out of the room looking for my things.  I think I finally found a pillow that was half-suitable and eventually fell asleep.

And that, my friends, is why you should always bring your own pillow when you visit your parents.

Aug 24, 2011

Some days are easier than others

Like when I work from home and get hugs and kisses from my boyfriend when he gets home, and my roommate does most of the cooking for dinner.

And some days there's a giant frikkin staircase in my way.

Let nothing stand in your way

Have you ever tried to walk up a giant frikkin staircase with bad arthritis in your knees? It hurts like hell. And sometimes you have to stop and rest a few times along the way, and then find the strength to keep on climbing those damn stairs.

Metaphor - I made one ;)

Aug 23, 2011

I feel the earth move under my feet

So, yes, you may have heard that the east coast experienced a moderate earthquake this afternoon. For those who didn't feel it, or don't follow the news (believe me, I don't blame you. It's just so damn depressing when it isn't making something out of nothing*), or didn't see news about it blow up Facebook - it was 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was in central-ish Virginia. Apparently it was felt as far north as Canada and as far south as the Carolinas.

Apparently there was also a 5.3 earthquake in Colorado. I guess that makes today "Earthquake Day?"

I was in the basement talking to my boyfriend when I heard and felt a deep rumble throughout the house. At first I thought it was a very large truck passing by and wondered aloud something to the effect of "What the hell??" Then my boyfriend pulled me into the nearest doorway and said very calmly, "It's an earthquake, dear." I don't know how he was so calm. The whole house was shaking rather violently, even the foundation!

I'm very glad I was home sick, rather than at work - which is on the 8th floor of my office building. I hear that it was way scarier for them.

Anyway, all is well with me and my household, dear readers. No injuries, and a quick inventory of the house revealed no damage to anything in the house (not even a fallen frame off the walls). Just shaken nerves.

*"Breaking news - water could kill you!!!!! The full story at 11."

Aug 18, 2011

In which I raid Borders

I was at Borders the other day, checking out their going-out-of-business sales (*sigh* Pardon me while I lament the loss of my favorite hangout.) I was looking for T. Thorn Coyle's Evolutionary Witchcraft or Kissing the Limitless, but neither were to be found. It was quite sad, really, how the sections with pagan-y books were so empty, and what little remained was terribly disorganized.

What I did find was a nice fabric-lined basket in which to put my CDs in the car. No more CDs flying every which way when I hit the brakes and getting lost under the seats!

Natural Relief for Anxiety 
I also found a book called Natural Relief for Anxiety: Complementary Strategies for Easing Fear, Panic, & Worry.* At 40% off! I've been looking for a book like this, but had so far come up empty-handed. (Maybe I was looking in the wrong parts of the bookstore?) A quick browse through the book showed some techniques like meditation that I've already explored with varying degrees of success (and varying degrees of commitment), and some I had not tried at all or even considered.

I'm looking forward to reading it! I'll be sure to share my review here, as well as discuss my experiences with any techniques I try.

* Yes, I totally added an Oxford comma into the title. Because nothing drives me crazy like a list of 3 or more things without an Oxford comma. Don't hate on me, Oxford comma haters.

Aug 14, 2011

Would you light my candle?

It's been a very rainy weekend here in Maryland. It's been downpouring on and off all morning. We certainly need it, though, because it's been a pretty dry summer. I'm sure the earth and its flora are rejoicing at the much-needed moisture. I don't mind the rain much, though. Something about the sound of rain falling lends itself to a quiet, reflective morning spent with a cuppa tea. Or two.

Goddess Tarot - 7 of Cups 
Last night was a full moon. I wasn't able to return to Philly for my coven's full moon ritual, so I used elements from the ritual to do something for myself for the full moon. I lit the candle dedicated to light goddess I work with, and read the Charge of the Goddess aloud to myself. I chose Starhawk's version because I tend to jibe with her way of wording things, and also for its use of vernacular English (no thee's and thou's). Then I pulled a card from the Goddess Tarot, which was a gift from one of my coven-mates. The card I pulled was the 7 of cups. I reflected on the image and got the impression that whatever progress I make in my personal work right now, there will also be darkness or sacrifices of some kind.

I left the candle burning until I went to sleep, and I decided to light it again this morning.

Candles have become really important to me in dealing with depression. Candles represent a light in the dark, the spark of the god's love and light that resides within us all. Even in my darkest times I've felt that spark within me, and held onto it with all my might, even when I was unable to breathe any more life into that spark. I burn candles to remind me of that spark. I also burn candles as a form of magick, to create more light within me. I usually like to light my Yule candle or my light goddess candle for this purpose, especially when I'm feeling particularly down.

candle flame 
Image by David NiBlack / Creative Commons Attribution License

Ah look - it seems the storm has passed, and the sunlight is returning to my little patch of the world. But first, maybe I'll have one more cuppa...
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