Re-inventing yourself and your craft

Every now and again, it’s important to stand still and take a look at how you are doing. Yes, really. Not only health-wise, but much, much broader and deeper. Starting with ‘do you still like the way you look’ and ending… I don’t know where yet, but I’ve arrived at ‘what would you like your spiritual practice to look like’. Along the way, I am effectively re-inventing myself and the way I work. Because I take my time for it, I’m convinced it will work better, making me happier as a result! Who wouldn’t want that? In the meantime, though, you might have noticed the blog being somewhat silent. With taking a look at yourself, you also uncover things you are not happy about at all (like my current job-status…). In my case, I didn’t feel like writing during this period. However, most of it is now over and back on track, so I’ll start posting again!

I’d like to give you three examples of what I did and how it helped me. You might also want to try out some these options 🙂

Shopping for clothes can take me forever, because I don’t know what suits me, and I have often bought clothes that either didn’t really fit or that eventually didn’t really suit me. Since that is quite important, both for my feelings of self-esteem and for my job interviews, I decided to change this! I took an online colour-analysis to discover what colour clothes I would probably look best in. Turns out that with my blond hair, light blue eyes and skin that easily gets sunburned, I am a light summer type, so I look best in soft pastels (yes, I tried it and it’s actually true). Anything but hard, clear colours, actually. I also looked at my body type, which is athletic with quite broad shoulders. I might be able to tone this down by wearing drapey clothes or soft-shouldered clothes. Since my wardrobe needed some new additions for autumn and winter, I went shopping and put this new knowledge into practice. I got a bordeaux tunic that I love, and a blue-ish sweater that hugs my body and shows of my waist. I also decided to get a few good, fitting bras. Turns out I’ve been wearing the wrong size for ages (though this is what the tests used to say). So I am perfectly happy now with how I clothe myself and I love seeing myself in the mirror in these new outfits!

My days were jumbled, with email overflowing, no clear structure to my days, notes in notebooks all around the house. I am now working on a routine so I can get this all in check. Recently, I rediscovered Evernote, a note-taking app that stores your notes in the cloud and lets you access them from all kinds of devices. I am using it now to try and go paperless, clearing the mess from notes all over the house. The papers I do still need are filed in organizers that I can easily find, so I don’t have to go searching for one particular note anymore. I either pick up the right organizer or use Evernote’s search functions. I am trying to create a daily planning in Evernote as well, not exactly like Getting Things Done, but something similar that I think will work for me. Each day, I want to produce several notes: one dealing with how I slept, for how long, whether I had any dreams and how I feel when I wake up, another with all my meetings, to do’s and planned time for self-improvement, and a third with stuff I want to remember or track over time (number of steps I walked each day, what I ate, what fitness things I did, what I really enjoyed today etc.). I will keep a paper diary as well, but Evernote will provide me with prompts, so I know something to fill my diary with. And I can always take a picture of the diary pages and put that into Evernote. This will also include some blogging prompts 🙂

Spirituality is somewhat important to me. As a witch, I want to celebrate nature, honour the Gods and Goddesses and get to know (and improve) myself to enhance my spiritual practice. But in reality, I barely have a spiritual practice. I very much like my altar, but I have it in a room that we barely use, surrounded by clutter and it is not directly visible from the hallway because there is a desk chair in front of it, which actually annoys me most. This again makes that I do not go and sit at my altar and meditate, do spells or rituals or that I am reminded of my path. And I dislike that feeling. With Evernote, I am challenging myself to enhance my spiritual practice and make it how I would like it. This means I want to meditate every week, speak out gratitude daily, craft something (and cook something special) every sabbat and esbat and observe nature daily. And, most importantly, I want to learn more and create my own knowledge base. 

By doing these three things and more, I am getting back on track. It takes some hard work, but it’s good to re-invent yourself every now and again. And as you meditate and get to ‘know thyself’, you might realize you are at the crossroads again, with the possibility to stray from the path and change yourself.

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Lightning in the clouds

We’ve had very hot weather the past week, with temperatures over 30 degrees centigrade. Without exception, this kind of weather is followed by rain and lightning storms. We had the rain early in the evening, when the sky darkened and all the water the clouds held was released within minutes (or so it felt). The lightning surrounded us later, when it was already dark. That allowed me to film it (sorry if it’s very dark, I don’t yet know how to change that when filming with my smartphone). Though I’ve seen lightning before, I’d never seen lightning lighting up the clouds like this before, not live anyway. We were spellbound and we were not the only ones: I saw several distinct flashes not coming from lightning but from cameras, trying to capture the moment supreme. Hope you enjoy the sight of lighting in the clouds!

My walking challenge

Do you ever take a walk outside? My husband and I rarely do. We have a four-day walking event our club organizes where we walk 5 kilometers four evening in a row… but that’s about it. During the previous week, THE four-day in Holland took place for the 97th time. Almost 50,000 people, not only from the Netherlands but also from America, Sweden and many other countries, take part in one of the biggest walking events in Europe.

30, 40 or 50 kilometers a day, starting between 4 and 7 am. Four days in a row. About 900 people drop out every day. They haven’t trained for it, they have blisters or sprained ankles or they can’t cope with the heat. Mentally or physically, they weren’t prepared for the challenge the four-day poses.

I’m very proud of my sisters-in-law and my father-in-law, because they completed the four-day! And I have to admit: I envy them. They have had a week they’ll never forget, and completed quite a physical challenge. So, you won’t be surprised that my husband and I have decided we want to enter too. The four-day of 2013 has ended, but for us, the four-day of 2014 has already begun!

We have started our training yesterday with a 15 kilometer walk through the forest. It was a green route starting and ending at the same train-station, an initiative of a single man who creates about 2 routes every week. If you are in the Netherlands, try one (route description in Dutch), because the routes are very enjoyable! Ours took us through three different forests and a lovely heathland. The heather wasn’t flowering yet, but I could imagine it turning completely purple in a few weeks. And the smell of the forest! That mossy, pine tree smell that’s actually difficult to define. The mosaic of light and shadow as a result of sunlight through the trees is quite magical… I felt in place.

My challenge in training for the 2014 four-day: take walks through nature every week. Be it for pure enjoyment, to gather fruits and herbs or to walk as fast as possible, I’m sure I can do this and add another dimension to my training.

Hulshorsterzand Hendriksbos Middelhart Westeindse Heide

 

Habemus Papam

Let me begin to say that no, I’m not a Catholic and as such do not believe in the Pope as God’s representative on Earth. One cannot deny, however, the major influence of the Pope in the religious world. Look only at the number of people on St Peter’s square, waiting for the white smoke to appear. And look at the joy on the faces of all those Catholics after the new Pope has been announced.

File:Saint Francis statue in garden.jpgHabemus Papam, the traditional Latin phrase indicating a new Pope has been elected. Habemus Papam Franciscum, as cardinal Bergoglio has chosen the name of the holy Francis of Assisi. He once assisted the poor and needing, was very tolerant of the Islam and even lived with the Saracens during the times of the crusades. Francis of Assisi was a very loving man, believing that service to God meant sharing the lives and work of others.  Even though he was definitely Catholic, there are some more Pagan or even worldly aspects to his beliefs and practice. He believed personal development was very important and placed great value in nature as God’s creation. He even wrote the Canticle of the Sun:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

Pope Francis the first seems likely to follow a similar path. He is the first Pope since the 8th century from outside Europe, coming from South America, where approximately 30% of all Catholics live. In his hometown, he was known to travel by bus, mingling with the people, sharing their lives. He washed the feet of AIDS patients, caring for them. Most important perhaps: even as newly elected Pope, he remains a simple man. Many people have commented on his humble “Buona sera” used to greet the collected people on St Peter’s square, which, in my opinion, shows his connection to ‘ordinary people’. The traditional “Urbi et orbi” (for the city [of Rome] and the world), where the second part often meant only the Catholic world, has been restored by this Pope to include everyone. So Catholic or pagan, black or white, homo- or heterosexual…

Habemus Papam

 

Autumn feelings

Colleges have started again, and since I have started my master, I have extremely little spare time. Almost all I can do is read, read and read some more in order to pass all the subjects at the earliest moment possible. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make a blog post very often, but I will try to keep you informed on what moves me.

As I was sitting in the library yesterday for reading various articles, someone started playing the piano. At the same time I looked outside and saw the storm raging. The sky was dark and I could see the leafs of trees blown in front of the window. On the way home I saw more leafs lying on the ground. I hadn’t noticed all the spiders that have already made a web, but obviously I did now.
All in all I realised it’s almost autumn already, and I’m looking forward to it! It’s always so cosy inside when outside the weather is horrible to be in. In addition autumn means the indoor korfball season is not far away and I like it better than the outdoor season! And autumn means Mabon, thanking the earth for the abundance of food, naturally by preparing dishes that use the fruits of the earth.

I have started thinking of my Mabon celebration. If the weather allows it, I will go picking apples and pears in a nearby orchard. Otherwise we’ll stay at home. For my ritual I know I’m going to do something with candles and the equal day and night in addition to celebrating the harvest. It will be one of the first celebrations where I plan to do a ritual other than just looking at nature and honouring it in silence. I’m really looking forward to it!

The joy of a rainstorm

Rain

Rain (Photo credit: tchandok)

Have you experienced this before? It’s warm and sticky outside and the earth simply screams for a rainstorm to cool everything and clear the air. Especially in summer I can long for a storm after a few great, warm days. Today was such a day. You couldn’t go outside without beginning to sweat instantly. The air was moist and almost difficult to breathe in. But not any more.

The wind got stronger, rushing through the trees and hurling leaves up into the air. The sky was grey and darkened even more and a few seconds later bucketfuls of water came pouring down. The sound of streaming water, of drops ticking on the roof, of trees rustling. I went outside and stood on my balcony, enjoying the sight and the sound and the fresh feel of the rainstorm. Nature is so powerful!
After only 10 minutes it stopped raining, but the pressure outside had gone and the air was clear. I felt great and somehow cleansed by the smell and sound and sight of the storm.

The joy of a rainstorm… have you experienced it?