Finding Time

This is actually a post about Yoga. Or maybe it's about what I think it means to honor the Goddess with my life. Maybe I'm just talking about how hard it is to take time out of my day for me... and how I connect that with being female in this time and place. Maybe it's something else all together. As I wrote it, the post just kept getting longer and longer... I think I'm worried that I didn't share this lesson well enough, or that I'm talking to people who only exist in my head... I'm worried that I will sound pitiful, or worse-- preachy... I sometimes think that we, as women, often have too hard a time recognizing our own wisdom and our own worth... So I'm not going to cut this one down to a more manageable size. I think it's important. Whatever it is.

See, there's this list of "someday" goals in my head. The ones I never do find time to commit to-- ones that don't put food on the table, a roof over my head, and don't benefit anyone but me. This is where I keep my desires like spending a whole week at a bed-and-breakfast on the beach, instead of using my vacation time and money on a trip to Michigan with my family every year... The list that has my wish to learn how to make bread-- good old hearty nutty flavorful bread. My desire for a gym membership ended up on this list, too. With a limited income, a weekly lunch with the people I love is just more important, for the price. And I still haven't found energy or supplies to build that Navajo Loom I want to play with-- nor research what kind of string I'd need to warp it with. Come to think of it-- when would I have time?

I'm not willing to give up my sleep-- the whole "get up 30 minutes earlier" plan just sounds like a way to substitute one healthy thing for another when I hear it. Less sleep, but more exercise... is that really helping me? Or less sleep but more time to write, more time to meditate, more time for a walk every day, more time to fix a healthy lunch before I go to work-- Suddenly I wonder if I shouldn't just be staying up all night to find the extra time I want for ALL the things I want to enjoy in my day!

So I'm not going to give up sleep to improve my life. That's an oxymoron waiting to happen. But I do want to include more good stuff in the time that I'm awake (and fewer morons). Maybe I don't need as much time checking email before I start my day. Maybe I don't need as much time watching movies to unwind at night before bed. Maybe I need to start out slowly. Maybe I already have.

I found a book on Yoga-- it has a 5-minute routine in it. And once I made time for five minutes of yoga in my morning prep... it wasn't so hard to move up to the 15-minute version the book also offers. Heck! I might eventually work my way up to the 90-minute yoga routine the book includes before the year is gone! And I found a book called Gardener's Yoga, by Veronica D'Orazio (Sasquatch Books, 2006).

The book is split into three sections. The first section is a preparation for working the earth, and coincidentally contains about ten minutes of "getting started" Yoga poses. The second section is another ten minutes of Yoga, this time geared toward stretching out the kinks that come from all that weeding and squatting down. The last ten minute section is for the end of the day, to help your body relax after hard work. I love how well the poses flow into one another, and I love how well they are integrated into the seasons and the phases of the garden.

I've realized that the hard part about taking care of me has always been getting started. I've had trouble committing myself to spending large chunks of my time doing selfish things. And in my head, I thought of the things I want to do just for me-- like Yoga and writing and meditating and weaving... I've thought of them as a selfish way to spend my time. But on the days I do them, I'm a better worker at my day job, and I grow stronger as a person. I feel healthy, and I have more patience with the world. So for now, I may only spend ten minutes doing Yoga in the morning, but I'm learning to feel good about that. I see it as a foundation for more good things to grow from. I'm learning that taking good care of me has a good impact on the people around me, too. It's not wrong to love and care for myself. In fact, nobody else can do it better.

Even better, I've learned that there are specific poses in Yoga that are meant to unblock and open a body's Chakras-- and I'm incorporating some of the poses for stimulating the First Chakra into my routine. Maybe I didn't have to find the time so much as I had to convince myself that I am worth spending quality time on. ...And that I don't have to start doing it all at once. I certainly didn't learn that one from my mother, or my ex-husband. In fact, most women I know have a very hard time (there's that word again!!) doing things for themselves in a consistent way. There's always something more important they could be doing. But here's the challenge-- if YOU don't think you're important, nobody else will either. And that is wrong. You are important. Worth doing good things for.

I don't mean the extra chocolate bar when you've had a bad day... (well, not JUST that!) I mean that 20 minutes of uninterrupted meditation in a quiet room every night so you can sleep comfortably. I mean that hour on the phone with your family or your best friend who moved away five years ago-- every weekend, without trying to multi-task while you talk. I mean the five minutes you spend standing still to enjoy the beauty of a tree, and just BREATHE for a minute, as you rush between buildings, meetings, and soccer practice every afternoon. I mean that 10 minutes I'm spending on my Yoga every morning before work, and the effort it takes to keep a clean spot on the floor big enough to do it in. I mean refusing to stay up that extra half an hour at night to get everyone else ready for the next day-- while they sleep.

Somehow, we've learned that the job must be done right, and we're the only ones who can do the job that way. Somehow, we've agreed to take on the responsibility for the success or failure of every dream our family (even our society) has-- without including our dreams on the list. We take the leftovers. We take the hand-me-down computer. We don't ask for someone to do their share of the chores-- we ask them to help us out a little with the chores we do. We make the kids' lunch and work a 60 hour week. We scrimp and save our pennies so someone else can have their heart's desire. Someone who already spent their pennies on something frivolous and fun.

I don't mean to dishonor our sacrifices, and I know this isn't everyone's reality. I actually hold a great respect for the importance of compassion, of love. But that's just it. Compassion, Love, long-term planning, Sharing and Giving are IMPORTANT, and WORTHY OF RESPECT. And another thing I've learned-- from my own life and from watching those I love-- is that if we continue to give and give without ever replenishing ourselves, we burn out, and we eventually have nothing left to give to anyone.

So-- please-- make a difference in your own quality of life, long-term. Like ten minutes of Yoga before breakfast, or ten minutes of solitude before bed. Now that I've learned how to find the time, I am determined not to lose it again. I want to enjoy my life. I want to experience abundance so that I can share it whole-heartedly, without running dry. I want to honor the Goddess by honoring myself, and the women around me. I'm worth it. She's worth it. You're worth it. Slow down, and give yourself time to recharge.

I am doing my best to honor my Goddess, the Great Spirit, with my life. I want to be my best self while I do it, and that means loving myself just as much as I love everyone else. That means it's okay to put my own needs first. To ensure that I have the strength and endurance to be there when others need me. It's okay to teach by my example that compassion and respect belong to everyone, not just an exclusive few.

So... What will you find time for today?... what about tomorrow?


For Every Season a Purpose...

There's an old song that my parents used to listen to about how everything and time turns turns turns, and for every season there is a purpose, for everything... At least, that's my vague memory of it. My parents were fringe hippies, and are now in denial about it all. At least when their daughter might hear them.

And I really think this is a great time, and it is serving an important purpose. On many levels. We're coming up on Midsummer-- on the Summer Solstice. We celebrate our parents on their special days. We celebrate the turning of the Earth, and the longest day of Sun. We're coming to the fulcrum of change. On this day, traditionally, bonfires are lit, and couples dance around them and leap over the flames for good luck and prosperity. They celebrate courage and fire and the importance of the hearth and the home, around which the rest of our lives spin. From Spring Maiden to Summer Mother to Fall Crone to Winter's rest-- around and around we go.

Coincidentally, I've been doing a bit of deep research on Wisdom, on Hestia (Goddess of the Hearth) and Athena and a host of other central Goddess figures from the Ancient Past. Astarte, Inanna, Ishtar, Saraswati and others. Midsummer is a celebration of the Goddess, and a celebration of Abundance. An opportunity to ground ourselves in the warmth and the strength of the Harvest and the central hearth. I learned that Hestia is the One who receives first and last offerings-- always. Every altar and offering fire was considered a hearth, and Hestia-- who was first and last daughter of the ancient gods, and both oldest and youngest sister of Zeus-- Hestia's right was to receive the first of any offering or any meal or any honor.

Without grounding ourselves, without being centered around our home hearth (whether our childhood home, the home we created for ourselves as adults, or the core grounded center of our being-- the deep red of the root chakra at the bottom of our spine)-- Without that strong base on which to build, our lives would be only dreams and ideas and wishes and wind. Every chakra-- every sense and energy center in our bodies-- is important. But MOST important is our individual connection to Mother Earth-- to our root and our foundation of being, of existence.

Following this train of reasoning and awareness (it may not be yours, but it makes sense to me), I suddenly remembered that my journey into Paganism and into self-hood started with my root chakra. I was searching for a way to feel sturdy on my feet. My whole life was new, with only a few blocks for a foundation and the rubble of my old life laying all around. (divorce, move, new job, buy a mattress and a chair, start going to school...)

I found a book about Chakras on sale, and picked it up. It reminded me of the wise woman (my Aunt) who had once been my anchor, so I took the book home and began to read. I realized that I felt no connection to my physical world-- to my reality-- and I started to follow many of the book's suggestions about unblocking the first chakra, about strengthening my roots and my spiritual/energy foundation. This led me to remember my wise Aunt's work with Essential Oils, with crystals and rocks. And that, my friends, is how everything started. One random book.

It was exactly what I needed. More books followed the first, and I learned that there were names for the things I believed, for the energies I sensed and the ideas I had about how one could truly connect with Spirit. Other people had the same ideas, and had more knowledge to share with me-- via their books-- me, to whom each thing was somehow new. I became caught up in my journey of exploration. I studied herbs, crystals, oils, symbols, tarot cards and trees. My intellectual and spiritual world expanded. And I forgot about my root, my need for a sturdy foundation.

So here we are, nearly two years later. About to celebrate the foundation of society-- the Earth, her Bounty, the Goddess who gives us Life and Courage and Love, and the Fire that gives us light, heat, and a place to call home. And I am reminded of my own beginning steps along this path. I am reminded that my own foundations still need attention. I've been dreaming of my ideal job, living on student loans, and wishing for something amazing to happen. I've been searching for a job (which means I'd finally live someplace intentional-- have a home; I'd finally have a livable income-- have security and a way to create the things I've only dreamed; I'd finally have started a career-- have a foundation for my future to grow from) ...I've been searching for a job for six months. Granted, part of that time was spent still in school, but it's been long enough for something good to manifest.

I just couldn't figure out what was missing. Why all my aspirations remained as dust in the wind, and none of my grand plans seemed to work out in real life. But that's the thing of it. I may have built a foundation of education, of knowledge and ideas (all related to the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chakras)-- but I didn't build a physical foundation, I didn't ground and center my dreams and my efforts in reality-- not even my Spirit had a solid grounding. How could I hope to build a fine big (earth-friendly) structure if I didn't have anything to build it ON?! So I've returned to my Root Chakra practices. I'm unblocking my connection and my Earth Energy. I'm choosing to embody my dreams in a very real sense, and I look forward to experiencing the results.

Best wishes this Season, to you and yours. May your harvest be plentiful, your family strong, and your dreams of a beautiful future grounded in the reality of today.