Celebrating What Makes Us All Mothers

Today is Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate and honor our mothers and our status as a mother. It is a beautiful day to honor the feminine.

What about those women who aren’t mothers? What does this day mean if your mother has passed away? What about the people who don’t have a good relationship with their mother? What about women whose children have passed away? For many women, Mother’s Day is a day filled with pain, loss, or feelings of just plain being left out or not being good enough.

I’ve heard people tell women who struggle on Mother’s Day to just get over it, that they should just deal with the fact that the women who do so much for us get one day. I am horrified every time I hear this. Not all mothers deserve to be honored, and many women who are not mothers do need to be recognized for their contributions.

While I think it is a great idea to honor the woman who gave you birth if you choose to do that, I think that we all have reason to celebrate and honor the values and nature of women. We need to celebrate what makes women unique. I’ve come to realize that Mother’s Day isn’t just about celebrating mothers. Or, at least it shouldn’t be. It’s a day to celebrate the divinity of women, our natures, and what makes us the creatures that bring life into this world. And all women do bring life into the world- not just those who physically give birth to children. Every woman nurtures something, children (her own or those who are birthed by others), herself, ideas- it doesn’t matter. Women nurture. That is worth celebrating.

What is a mother? A mother is creates, nurtures, builds up, disciplines, and loves her child. If you take out the biological or adoptive factors, being a mother is about a relationship. In this capacity, all women are mothers. Each of us has created something or is in the process of creating something. It doesn’t have to be another human being. We use our feminine nature to provide and gift ideas and project to the world. That’s what makes a mother. So, go out and celebrate the feminine- regardless of your status as a mother or the relationship you have with your mother. You are worthy, and you deserve it!

~Chaya Levana

When Sorry Is Not An Apology

When you hear someone say “I’m sorry” do you automatically think that they are apologizing for having done something wrong? Does the meaning of what they said depend on the context of the situation? When I’ve done something wrong I do say I’m sorry, but I also say that when I haven’t done anything wrong at all. 

Take for instance the following scenario. I am out with a friend who tells me that she has had a terrible day. It started when her alarm didn’t go off and she woke up late. She had to rush to get ready for work, and had to speed in order to make it to the office on time. She had a critical meeting with a client mid morning that she totally flubbed and as a result, her company lost a major deal. Her boss ended up yelling at her for this loss and blaming her. He ended up giving her grunt work assignments for the rest of the month. When she got home she burned dinner and ended up having to call for pizza for her family. 

Upon hearing this I responded, “I’m so sorry.” My friend looked at me and said, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s not your fault.” That’s right. It’s not my fault and I wasn’t apologizing. I was expressing my empathy for my friend’s situation. 

What confuses me about this is the prevalence of it. It seems like with the passing of time more and more people confuse a simple empathetic expression as a taking on of personal responsibility. I’ve even heard it from my mother- her telling me to stop apologizing for everything. 

I would say that this is a cultural thing, but it happens to more than just me and with friends who live all over. I’ve had discussions with friends who say this same thing happens to them with people confusing their empathy for an apology. 

Are we as a society losing our ability to feel empathy for others? In some ways I think so, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I really don’t know what is at play here. I had someone tell me once that instead of saying I’m sorry I should say I feel bad for you. I think that takes on a patronizing tone. I’d much rather someone tell me they are sorry for what I’m going through than to tell me they feel bad for me. So, should I just say “I feel sorry for what you are going through” instead of “I’m sorry”? Maybe. But that seems overly formal in some situations. 

Perhaps I’m overthinking this completely, but I don’t think so. I just think that we all, myself included, should react to what someone actually says and not just a knee jerk reaction to what we hear. Have an actual conversation instead of reacting to statements. It’s more difficult that way, but immensely more rewarding. 

Purim, Witches, and Jews- Oh My!

This week Jews will be celebrating the minor holiday of Purim. I’ve spent some time this weekend preparing for the holiday, and I’ve done quite a bit of thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities between Jews and witches. 

For those of you who don’t know, Purim is the holiday that celebrates and commemorates the events described in the biblical book of Esther. No matter what your religious views, I urge you to read this story if you haven’t done so. It’s relatively short- ten chapters- and is full of tons of intrigue: beauty pageants, murder plots, jealousy, revenge. You know, all the good stuff. 

But, if you don’t want to read it, allow me to give you a brief overview. The setting is ancient Persia, ruled by Xerxes and his queen: Vashti. Xerxes has a party that lasts a week and when everyone is drunk he demands that Vashti come out wearing her crown. Well, the thing is, he wanted to have her come and and wear only her crown. She refused. In an attempt to thwart other Persian wives from refusing their husbands, Xerxes has Vashti banished (perhaps even murdered). He then declares that there will be a type of beauty pageant to replace her. All the eligible virgins in the kingdom are either sent or kidnapped and brought to the palace where they endure 6 months of preparation. Then each young women has one night with the King and he chooses Esther to be his bride. Everyone else becomes part of his harem. Now, Esther is Jewish, but at the urging of her uncle Mordechai she has kept this secret. At the same time, Xerxes’ second in command, an evil man named Haman really hates the Jews. One day he is coming out of the palace and Mordechai, who is a scribe, refuses to bow down to him. This infuriates Haman who talks Xerxes into giving him his signet ring. This means that Haman has the right to make laws and seal them with the king’s ring at which point they can’t be undone. So, he gathers all the scribes and tells them that in one year everyone in the kingdom will rise up and murder the Jews. While all the other scribes are busy sending the message here and yon, Mordechai secretly goes to Queen Esther and tells her that now is the time to reveal that she is a Jew. Well, even the Queen can’t approach the King unless he sends for her, and he hasn’t. But, Esther decides that she will do it anyway. She goes before the King hoping he won’t kill her. He doesn’t and asks her what she wants. She invites him to a banquet- three actually- before revealing that she is a Jew and that Haman wants to kill them all. Xerxes is mad. In between all this Haman has built a gallows to hang Mordechai because he really hates him. Well, Xerxes is so mad that he has Haman killed on the gallows he built. Then, Xerxes promotes Mordechai to second in command and gives him the ring. Since Haman’s law can’t be undone, Mordechai makes a law that on the appointed day when everyone attacks the Jews, the Jews are allowed to fight back. And that’s what happens. The Jews win. There’s a big party. We recreate it every year. We eat little triangle shaped cookies called Hamantaschen which means Haman’s ears. The End. 

So, how are Jews and witches alike? Persecution. Both groups have been persecuted. Witches are persecuted for being in league with the Devil, and Jews have been accused of the same. Hate is such a strong emotion that goes way beyond being a simple emotion. Witches and Jews both have been murdered for existing. There are other groups who are persecuted as well, but, for the most part, that persecution isn’t predicated on religion or spirituality. Christians and Muslims both have been as well. Sadly, most of these four groups persecute each other. 

What I find fascinating is the history of Judaism that includes witchcraft and magic at it’s roots. Modern Judaism would balk at the thought that our religion has a basis in witchcraft, but I argue that we do. I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say, many Jewish practices and beliefs are founded in magic. Perhaps witches and Jews should work together, reach across the divide and join hands in facing hate. Some of us already do. You can’t be Jewitch and hate part of yourself. 

Embarking on a New Path

We have all heard the saying that when one door closes another one opens. Not only have we heard it, but for the most part, we know from personal experience that it is true. But, knowing something and living it out can be two different things. We can know that better things are coming, but it can still be extremely difficult to give up the old way of doing things. Familiarity breeds comfort. This is something I have been learning this week. (I didn’t start out this blog to talk about what I’m specifically learning, but that’s what it has turned in to the past few weeks!) For the past year and a half I have been working with one of my spiritual teachers. This week I have felt a huge call to stop my classes. This isn’t because I am not learning from her- I am learning so much! Actually, this feeling has been off and on for the past two months and I have continuously talked myself into continuing the program I am taking. 

The past few days have been filled with me seriously having the feeling that I need to move onto a new path. But, there is one aspect of the program that I will really miss. Even my husband, who is not into all the woo that I am has said he doesn’t want me to stop taking my classes. (So sweet of him to support me in this way). I have debated all weekend over whether or not I need to continue. The program I am enrolled in is shamanic in nature and has a strong focus on astrology. Both of these topics are ones that I have wanted to explore more in depth. When I was talking to my husband I told him that I could continue with the astrology on my on through personal study of books (I’m a librarian so I have access to pretty much anything!) But, the shamanism is something that I have really been struggling with because it’s not something I can really learn on my own. I need to learn it from someone else. 

Well, today I was in a class when I learned that beginning this fall, another one of my teachers is going to be offering a two year shamanism program. This program will be one hundred percent focused on shamanism (which is the path I know I’m supposed to be on) and I won’t have to be in a program with information that I don’t need. This isn’t to say I’m not learning from everything in my current program, I just don’t think that it is all what I need right now. And the part that is I can get elsewhere. 

Another positive of the upcoming program is that I can take this program in person. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with online classes. I take online classes and I teach online classes. But, some programs of study are better transmitted in an in person setting where you have physical access between the teacher and the student. Shamanism is one of those things. 

So, I do think that I have my answer and that I need to bow out of my current program. I am going to miss it, but I think that in the meantime between now and when this new program begins I am going to more than have my hands full with this business. I have several new programs that I’m going to be launching over the next few months, and I think that I will be able to use my time to focus on offering ways to help each of you heal and grow as I have been. My program has already been paid through March so I have one last month, but after that, I will be embarking on preparing myself for a new path. 

Choose Your Perspective

Sometimes perspective is everything. You know, how you see something, how it appears to you when you look at it? Perception is not always reality. Recently I saw a photo that reminded me of this. Actually, it was two photos- both from April 2018. The first is of Prince William flipping off the press after the birth of his son, Prince Louis. The second is of Prince William holding up three fingers. You can view them here. In actuality, both photos are of the same moment, one just happens to be from a different perspective.

I’ve had a hard lesson in this over the past week. I have been dealing with some issues in my life that are less than pleasant. In all honesty, they are things that have left me quite miserable and depressed. I’ve never been one to battle with depression, not even when my late husband passed away. But, this winter I’ve really been dealing with it. I know what the issues are, and sadly they are not things that I can control. Anyway, not only have I been miserable and depressed, but I’ve been angry and lashing out at the person who could do something about it. Earlier this week I was almost at the point of breakdown from extreme frustration and hatred.

And that’s when it hit me. Maybe I am to blame. Wait, what? I’m not the cause of my misery. I can’t control the situation that is making me feel this way. It’s not my fault. But, maybe it is. No, I can’t control or change the situation, but I can control how I react to it. I don’t have to let it get me bitter. I don’t have to let it make me angry. And over the past few days I’ve been trying to do just that and change my attitude. I can’t change my situation, and the person who can change the situation has some issues that they are in need of working through. Perhaps if I’m more patient and understanding this person will be more likely to make the necessary changes in their life. Maybe not. But, my whining and nagging about it will not make things any better.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Our ego gets in the way and we focus on ourselves and our own point of view. But, when the ego is in control we are rarely seeing things as they truly are. I am learning that when I feel slighted and wronged I need to act by taking a step back and getting my ego out of the way before I react and things go sour.

Doing the Hard Things

Sometimes you just have to do things that you know are hard. You know it’s going to be painful, but you also know that not doing it will cause even more hurt and pain in the long run. This is especially hard for empathic people because we don’t ever want to cause someone pain- not ourselves and not other people. But, as grown ups we know that there are times that the best course of action, the one taken in love, will cause pain, and that’s when we do it. 

I had to do something like that this week. I have been struggling in my personal relationship with someone I’m close to. Part of my process in healing myself this year is to heal my interpersonal relationships. This person is important to me, and as such, I want to live in clean relationship with this person. 

I have agonized over this relationship for awhile now, because while we are great friends and love one another, this person and I have also been dealing with our own personal issues that have been encroaching on our relationship with one another. I don’t want that and want a healthy and happy relationship. Our friendship is dear to me, and I want it to continue. I knew that I needed to talk to this person, but I also knew that doing so was going to be painful for both of us. This friend does not like conflict, and I’ll admit that I don’t either. But, the fact of the matter is, our friendship has been nothing but conflict lately. While my friend has tried to ignore the conflict by acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I couldn’t continue on like that. Even knowing that our friendship would likely end if I didn’t make the effort to talk wasn’t enough to get me going. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. And, I knew that by hurting my friend’s feelings I would be causing myself pain, too. 

Finally this week I decided to bite  the bullet. I decided I would talk to my friend. And I did. And it was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I have done in a long time. And it did cause pain and hurt feelings. But, I’m glad I did it. It’s like ripping a band-aid off. You know it’s going to hurt but it will be more painful if you go slowly. 

So, I did it. I caused the pain and frustration and initiated a talk. I can’t say that everything is sunshine and roses now, but at least right now my friend knows how I feel. We have a lot of things to deal with in this relationship if we want to continue being friends, but at least both of our feelings are out in the open. 

And that’s the thing. I can’t promise that everything will be instantaneously great if you do the difficult things. I can’t even promise that they will be great in the end. Things might completely fall apart. But, if that happens then it is meant to be what happened and will ultimately be for the highest good of those involved. A broken and ended relationship of any kind can be for your best good if it brings an end to a toxic relationship that can’t be healed. 

In the end, you can’t force another person to want to heal. You can’t make them ascend to a higher vibrational field. You can only work on yourself. You can do the difficult thing and reach out to work on a relationship, but if the other person doesn’t want to you may need to walk away. It is not easy to do this. It is painful. But by not doing the painful thing you are ensuring you will vibrate on a lower plane. 

 

You’re Not The Right Kind

If you happen to live in a community (or ever have in the past) with a Jewish Community Center, then you know what their slogan is: Everyone is welcome at the JCC. That’s what they say, anyway. I wouldn’t  know. I wouldn’t know because I’m afraid to go to the JCC to even see if I’d be welcome. I’m not afraid to go to the JCC because I’m fat and out of shape and need to exercise. No. That’s all true, but it’s not why I’m afraid to go. I’m not afraid to go because I fear being laughed at for being fat and out of shape. That one’s not true. I’m so past that at this point in my life. No. My fear is much more practical. You see, I’m afraid to go to the JCC because I’m afraid I will not be welcome.

Wait. What?

Yes, you read that right. I’m afraid to go to the JCC because I’m afraid I won’t be welcome. This fear isn’t completely random and unfounded. My fear is grounded in the fact that I am not welcome in synagogues, and if I’m not welcome in synagogues why would I be welcome at the JCC? You see, my fear is logical.

To be fair, I am welcome in synagogues. My husband, on the other hand, is not. He isn’t welcome because he isn’t the “right kind” of Jew. My husband is messianic.

If you’re a Jew this is where you are probably saying, “Hold it. Stop right there. We agree. Your husband isn’t the right kind of Jew. In fact, he isn’t a Jew at all.”

And this is where I beg to differ. He was born a Jew, so he will always be a Jew. A born Jew can be agnostic and still a Jew. A born Jew can be Buddhist and still be a Jew. A born Jew can be anything and still be a Jew because Judaism is as much an ethnicity as it is a religion- perhaps even more so. However, a born Jew can’t be a Christian and still be a Jew.

First of all, this double standard doesn’t even make sense to me. I mean, I understand all the history and animosity between Christians and Jews. I really do. I just don’t get the complete hatred of an entire group of people- especially when it’s Jews who are doing that hating.

I’m not going to get into the whole messianic thing. What I do want to say is that no matter what your views on it are, in the end, why aren’t Jews and messianics welcomed in synagogues as interfaith families? My husband could be flat out Christian and be welcome. He just can’t be messianic and be welcome.

The thing is, if he isn’t welcome in synagogue then I’m not welcome. I refuse to go if my husband isn’t welcome to go with me. It’s not some anti-feminist thing. It’s a family thing. You know, Jews are supposed to be about family? Well, I just want to worship with my family.

As a convert I don’t have a long family history (not even a short one) of Jewish tradition. My days as a Jew began on May 12, 2016 (not including the study and preparation and lifestyle changes that preceded formal conversion). I would like to be active in my Jewish community, but I won’t. Not unless something changes.

I can’t say he isn’t welcome in any synagogue. The Reform temple where I converted welcomes him, but we now live in a different state now. The synagogues here don’t welcome him.

So, I am a Jew- no one questions that. But I am a Jew who really wants to attend services but doesn’t. All I can think of is Hillel. He is known for summing up the entire Torah by saying, “What is hateful to you, don’t do to your companion”. Aren’t we all companions on this planet?  As Jews, don’t we know what it feels like to be marginalized? Why, then, do we do it to others and even ourselves?

As for the JCC, maybe I would be welcome there. Maybe even my husband would be. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be brave and check it out. Somehow I’m not so sure.

Thankfully, as a witch, I can practice my Judaism at home and not feel completely abandoned. Prior to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 AD, Judaism as a religion was practiced at home with certain festivals requiring trips to the Temple. But, aside from those required trips, the religion was practiced in the home with families. It was after the Temple was destroyed and more and more Jews were living in the diaspora that the religious aspects of Judaism began to be focused in the synagogue.

Most witches prefer to celebrate and honor the old ways. I do. So, I am grateful that my chosen religion was founded on worshipping in the home. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that today Jews gather to worship publicly and I would enjoy being able to gather with them. I guess I should just count my blessings. If they were aware that I’m a Jewish witch, then they probably wouldn’t accept me either. Maybe I shouldn’t judge and I should test those waters. I won’t, though.

What I will do is point out that we should all be a lot more tolerant of each other’s spiritual beliefs. In the end, most of our beliefs are the same when they are boiled down to their essential elements. A few days ago I saw a meme which listed the Golden Rule from various religions. If you take the time to study comparative religions you will see that in the end, no matter what deity we invoke, no matter what we call ourselves, no matter where we believe power and change comes from, in the end we all believe that we are the same and are required to love each other. If we all ultimately believe the same thing, why do we focus so much time and energy in trying to tell each other that we are wrong in our beliefs and that if we don’t all believe the exact same thing that some of us will end up suffering for it? I don’t understand.

Perhaps we need to spend some time in some serious soul searching to see if we truly believe what we claim to believe. We have all heard the maxim that actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me. I hope you show me love.  

 

Never Forget. Never Again

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day which commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp and extermination center. 

Do you know how many people died during the Holocaust? Many people are aware of the six million Jews who died. They were not the only ones. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, a total of approximately 20 million people died. That number includes the approximate 17,303,900 known deaths as well as the undetermined numbers of certain groups of people. Who were all of these people?

  • Jews
  • Soviet Civilians
  • Soviet prisoners of war
  • Polish civilians
  • Serb civilians
  • disabled individuals
  • Roma
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Repeat criminal offenders
  • German political opponents
  • Homosexuals

You can read more about this here

I’m going to include here a piece I wrote in November 2015. It has been just over three years and we are still no closer to finding an answer to this question. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that we must never forget the horror of what happened to 20 million people. I do know that when we say “Never Again” that it is exactly what we mean. This atrocity can never happen again. We must make sure that it doesn’t. And it doesn’t just apply to Jews. While Jews were the largest single group who died in the Holocaust, there were 14 million non-Jews who perished. Never again means never again…for anyone. 

Here is my piece from 2015:

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the #Syrianrefugees issue. I can understand both points of view when it comes to deciding if the USA and individual states should admit refugees. I really can. It’s not an easy decision no matter which way you look at it. On one hand you have innocent people trying to flee hellish conditions just to be able to stay alive. On the other hand, you have a real threat of terrorism from a small percentage of those people. Or at least we have a potential threat.

The one thing that weighs heavy on my mind is something that I’m sure many people get tired of hearing. The Holocaust. This has happened before. European refugees attempting to flee to the USA and being denied entrance. Lest we forget, in 1939, 937 refugees fled Hamburg, Germany for Havana, Cuba aboard the MS St. Louis. When they arrived in Havana, only 28 passengers were allowed to disembark and enter Cuba. The remaining passengers were denied entry.

After leaving Cuban waters, the St. Louis sailed so close to Florida that the passengers could see the lights of Miami. They begged President Roosevelt to grant entry to the US, but he didn’t even respond. The St. Louis was sent back to Europe with 908 passengers. Great Britain admitted 288 refugees and the remainder were admitted to continental European countries. Of those 620 refugees admitted to the European mainland, 532 were trapped when Hitler invaded Western Europe. Ultimately 254 of those people died in the Holocaust.

Two hundred fifty four lives that could have been spared. Think about that. It seems like such a small number compared to the millions of people who died, but 254 more people could have lived. Imagine what their decedents could have done. Decedents who were never born. I know a beautiful woman who lives because her mother was put on the kinder transport to England while her other family members were on the St. Louis. If I remember correctly, they landed in Holland, but were part of those who ultimately died. Just thinking about it makes me cry.

We can not continue to live a life ruled by xenophobia. We have to do our best to make the world a better place. Yes, terrorism is real. Yes, we need to be mindful of those who we allow in our country. But that goes for anyone, not just refugees. 254 people died in the Holocaust because of American antisemitism and xenophobia. Jewish people say “Never Again”. We all should say never again. But we shouldn’t just mean never again for Jews. We should mean never again for all people. I’m not saying we should just admit anyone. But saying refugees should be vetted isn’t enough. We need to have some real dialogue about what can honestly be done, what can truly work. This isn’t the time for ideals. It’s the time for making real choices. Will we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past or will we be better people this time around and do the right thing? I’m not saying what the right thing is. I don’t know. I really don’t. But we have to stop being ruled by fear and start living out compassion and love for our fellow man.

If you want to read more about the tragedy of the St. Louis, please go to this page on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

10 Self Care Strategies

Last week I blogged about being thankful for yourself. You can read that here. One way to be thankful for yourself is to practice self care. I used to think of self care in terms of big sweeping measures such as a bubble bath with flowers or a massage. Those are good things and they are acts of self care. In fact, I had a massage yesterday and it was bliss. Massages are an act of self care that I swear by and make them a regular part of my self love routine.

However, I have found that self care does not need to be fancy. Often, the little things that you do for yourself often make a big difference in how you feel. So, I have come up with the following ten ideas for self care that are simple, every day acts. They don’t cost anything, or don’t have to depending on how you incorporate them into your life.

Pick one of these or all of these. Incorporate some of them into your life and see how they make you feel. If you already do some of these pick some more. The more self care you practice the better you will feel.

Focus on the now. 

Don’t live your life in the past or in the future. Take each moment as it comes to you. Worrying about the past or future only robs you of the pleasure that can be found in the current moment. The past can’t be changed. The future is often not nearly as bad as we worry it will be. Live in the now and face each moment and day as it comes.

Spend time in silence. 

Our brains are over stimulated  most of the time. We have televisions, computers, phones, and a plethora of other devices that are constantly streaming information at us. It’s no wonder that we have a difficult time relaxing. Spend time in silence. Yes, I mean time without talking, but I also mean brain silence. Take time away from the constant stream of information. Quieting your mind will lead to a wide range of positive changes in your body and mood.

Move.

Find some type of physical activity that you enjoy. I am the first person to admit that I hate to exercise. But moving your body does wonders to improve your mood and how you feel physically. I have taken up yoga and it has made me feel so good. I’m not good at it- yet. But I do it. Actually, over the past two months I haven’t been able to go to my weekly class because of my husband’s health issues. I miss it. I miss it more than I thought I would. I knew I would miss the people, but I didn’t know I’d miss the physical activity. I can’t wait to go back.

Meditate. 

This goes hand in hand with spending time in silence. When you quiet your mind it makes it easier to meditate. It doesn’t matter how you meditate. You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and your fingers touching saying “om” over and over. You can, but you don’t have to. Meditation can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. The simplest form of meditation is being mindful of your breathing. Take slow deep breaths and focus on the inhale and exhale. Do this for as long as you like.

Do things that bring you joy. 

It doesn’t really matter what you do for self care. If it’s something you enjoy than it is caring for yourself. I’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress lately. On top of all that I’ve started writing a novel this month. It is Work with a capital W. In addition to my full time job, and launching this business I’m writing a freaking novel! But I enjoy it. Yes, it’s difficult. But there is a joy I get from disciplining myself to sit down and write something every day. Sometimes I reach my daily goal and sometimes I don’t. But I write something every day. And that brings me joy. Find something you enjoy doing and then go do it. That is self care.

Eat the “bad” foods. 

There are so many people who cut out foods they love because they are bad for them. Carbs. Fat. Sugar. Cholesterol. Whatever. Constantly trying to change what you eat to fit an ideal- even health- brings misery. I’m not saying not to be mindful of your health. Definitely be mindful of your health. But don’t ban entire food groups. No food is bad. Just eat in moderation. Of course, if you have an allergy you have to not eat it. Or, if you eschew certain foods for religious reasons (I do), then I’m not talking about that either. But if it’s a food you would normally eat but don’t because you think it’s “bad”, go ahead. Eat it. Just be mindful of it.

Forgive. 

We’ve all heard the cliche about not forgiving someone only hurts you, not the one you won’t forgive. Or how harboring un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting on the other person to die. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is some truth in all cliches. I’m not saying it’s easy to forgive. I’m not saying you have to forgive if you’re not ready. I struggle with that one myself. What I am saying is that when you choose to forgive someone it does absolutely nothing for them, but it lightens the burden that you carry. Plus, not forgiving someone is living in the past, clinging to the hurt. So, you can’t live in the now and refuse to forgive.

Do nothing.

Yes, that’s right. Don’t. Do. Anything. Set aside some time, be it a day, a few hours, whatever, and do absolutely nothing. Some religions have an entire day that was designed for this. Some people choose to do it while others don’t. But, if you set aside a regular time to do nothing then it helps you to be more productive when you actually get back to doing something. Besides, doing nothing isn’t actually doing nothing. It’s taking care of yourself. And that’s something.

Be spiritual. 

I don’t care if you practice a religion or not. I don’t care if you believe in a higher power or not. Everyone can, and should, be spiritual. Find something outside of yourself that brings meaning to your life. If you find meaning in helping others then go out of your way to be helpful. That is a spiritual practice. If you’re more traditional and follow a religion, do so in a mindful way. Don’t just blindly follow what your religion dictates. Take time to contemplate the teachings and customs. That is spirituality. Finding meaning outside of yourself and connecting to that meaning will bring you an inner peace beyond measure.

Be yourself. 

Above all else be true to who you are. The worst kind of self loathing is derived from trying to fit your life into someone else’s mold. I spent many years of my life rejecting my true self and I was miserable. I was actually pretty good at living according to other people’s expectations. But deep inside my life was chaos. I have physical and emotional issues that I carry to this day that are the result of trying to fit a mold I wasn’t born for. When I decided to be me no matter what I reached a point where I could heal. It’s not easy, but I’m slowly getting there. And I have found that the absolute best self care is to be who I was meant to be.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

Babies. They get me every time. I always wanted babies- even when I said I didn’t I secretly did. I don’t have any children. I see my friends having babies and I’m genuinely happy for them. But, I have to admit that I’m just a wee bit envious as well.

When we are children we all have a vision of what we want our adult lives to be like. Here is how my vision went: I would be thin and beautiful. I would have tons of friends and be in a sorority in college. I would graduate college and become a teacher. I would meet the love of my life and get married. We would have two children: a boy and a girl in that order. We would have a dog and a cat and live in the suburbs in a house with a white picket fence. Our children would be well behaved and loving children. We would continue to have tons of friends and socialize all the time. We would grow old together and have at least 50 years of wedded bliss before my husband passed away with me soon following from a broken lonely heart. Seriously. That was my life plan when I was ten.

So, at 38 years old, how much of that has actually come to pass? Let’s see. I’m not thin, but I am beautiful. I struggle with that sometimes, but ultimately I do think I’m beautiful. I’m not a social person by nature. Well, let me rephrase that. I am a very social person but I’m also extremely shy. I don’t make friends easily, and as a result I have very few friends. I have tons of acquaintances, but very few friends. I was in a sorority in college, and am a firm believer that sisterhood is for life. I was a teacher, but not straight out of college. It took 12 years after college before I became a teacher. And guess what. I HATED it. Literally, couldn’t stand it and left the profession after three miserable years. I am married, but this is my third marriage, and I seriously doubt we will be growing old together. He happens to be 24 years older than me, so he likely will die before I do. I just hope I don’t follow soon after. Sorry ten year old self. You will thank me for that one. My second husband passed away. He was six years younger than me, and passed away. That’s life and it happens. We die. But back to my rehash of how my childhood life plan turned out. Like I said, I don’t have those 2 children. I do have a dog, but no cat. So, out of a life plan that consisted of 15-20 points only 2.5 of those came to pass.

If you judge the success of your life based on how things line up with a childhood plan then my life is a miserable failure. And I will admit that I sometimes struggle and think that. When I stumble across old childhood friends on Facebook and see how their lives turned out it sometimes makes me sad to think I wanted that life but didn’t get it. But I try really hard not to dwell on that. I remind myself of the beautiful life that I do have.

The life I envisioned for myself was a childish fantasy. That’s not to say that people who are living that life are childish. Not by a long shot. But see, that life was not for me. My guides have a higher calling for me than to live that life. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but there is something in store for me that is so beyond that life that I can’t even imagine it. If I had gotten my fantasy adult life there is something out there that I would miss out on. You see, my life is magical. You heard it. Magical. I’m 38 and on my third marriage. My husband is a disabled senior citizen. I work full time, but it’s in a field I love. While it’s not an easy job I love it. And, I’m also cultivating this magical corner of the universe.

My childhood life plan was not the life of my authentic self. And that’s the key to remember. That fantasy was based on the me that I thought I needed to be, the me I tried so hard and so long to be. I tried to be popular and was not. I tried to be a Christian, and I’m not. I lived so many years of my life trying to fit the mold that I was raised to be. And i have nothing but love for my family, but that life is not me. I have finally embraced the authentic me. And I am happy. I am happy because I can be who I am here to be and I can accomplish whatever it is that I am here to accomplish. I have a loving husband who supports me. He doesn’t understand my path completely, but he supports me on that path. And for all of this I have to say that I am beyond happy. I am content.

So, no. Sometimes we don’t get the life we always wanted. But we get the life we need. We get the life we are meant to live. Those of us who are living what others consider to be a failed life can remember that we have not failed. Our lives are full of destiny and a lot of magic.