Spell a Day – Feb 20th 2016

Today Gentle Readers we are working on growing closer to someone. I think this could be expanded beyond romantic interests. Our world could use a little growing closer to each other. So, in this spirit, I submit:

celebratedifferences
Borrowed this from a Blog I found, Me to the Power of We

I haven’t checked out the blog I found the image above on yet, but these words are especially important in our digital age. The world is a much smaller place than it was 300 years ago, at the beginning of the 1900s, or even just 34 years ago when I was born. The power of the internet and the speed of communication available today has opened the masses to peoples and cultures very different from our own. This should be a cause for joy and celebration. However, zealots of any sort can ruin this.

The United States of America has a long and checkered history when it comes to differences just within her own borders. Protestants and Catholics arguing over religion. Let’s not forget the Civil War. Technically it was State’s rights versus Central government, but let’s be honest, the bare bones of the conflict was over slavery. One group’s belief that they can own another person as property, either because of debt or because the person is different. Even today we have a broadening of acceptance for those that are different, yet zealots on either side cannot stop shouting their rhetoric long enough to just mind their own business.

Take one of the most zealot Presidential candidates we have for 2016, Ted Cruz. He actually said, “Gay Marriage leads to Christianity becoming hate speech”. How idiotic can you be? Because two men, or two women, want the same tax and secular benefits of a Man and Woman marriage has NOTHING to do with Christianity. This may be a country that has strong ties to Christianity, but we are not a religious country in the same way that some North African and many Middle Eastern countries are. As someone who has walked away from most organized religion, I think this is where people need a dose of “Mind your own damn business”.  If zealots of any religion (Christianity or otherwise) want to get involved in politics, they can start by paying taxes and giving up their tax exempt status. Once you start contributing other than to line an official’s pockets during campaign time, then you can start lobbying for laws. Until such a time as we are a theocracy, Shut the hell up. I agree with most of the teachings of Christianity/Judaism and even Islam. The three religions are not as different as the layman would believe. It is zealots who think that their interpretation is the only right interpretation that corrupt all three religions. I found this interesting article on some of the similarities between Christianity/Judaism/Islam.

I am not trying to get too political or religious here. I bring this all up to make a point: When we spend all this time railing against the small differences between people, we fail to see the similarities and celebrate the uniqueness in life. Just because someone may have some different views, or fall under a different category as you, it doesn’t mean that they are really all that different. In the words of each of the three major religions of the world, “peace be upon you” –  shalom aleichem in Judaism, pax vobiscum in Christianity, and salaam alaikum in Islam.  Until next time Gentle Readers, learn about your neighbors. Find that common ground (because I assure you it is there) and celebrate the differences instead of condemning them.

Spell a Day – Feb 19th 2016

cutitout
Courtesy of Write Your ScreenPlay Revision Tips

In the theme of a little more spring cleaning (thinking of yesterday’s Needs/Wants/Unimportant post), today it is time to Cut It Out. What is ‘it’ you ask? Great question my Gentle Readers. ‘It’ are the people, habits, or things in your life that are dragging down your happiness. They just aren’t worth the energy and effort wasted on them. Renew that resolution to quit smoking, or to get rid of the negative acquaintance you just can’t bring yourself to stop hanging out with. Misery loves company friends and if you let them drag you down you will just feel as miserable as they do.

Now, before I get blasted about cutting people from your life, recognize the type of people I am talking about. I don’t mean the good friend that is having a tough time. I am not talking about the friend that lost a loved one and is having a rough year. I am talking about the person in your social circle that seems to serve no purpose except to be negative. Perhaps they are a friend of a friend of a friend that just crept in and setup residence in your social neighborhood. You are under no obligation to solve their problems or make them happy. They have to want to be happy for themselves. Decline an invitation or two, or neglect to send one. Perhaps they will see what they are doing by their choice of attitude and make the steps necessary to change for the better. Some people just need that kick in the behind to jump start their own journey of betterment.

I leave you with this one last image, in honor of “Fuller House” bringing back some of the cast from “Full House” for those who are old enough to remember the show that gave rise to the Olsen Twins.

JoeyCutItOut.jpg

Spell a Day – Feb 18th 2016

Amazing how time flies doesn’t it Gentle Readers? I have once again fallen behind on these posts. I did manage to get three books read and reviewed, so there is that.

Today is about abundance and prosperity in your life. As Madonna said, we are living in a material world folks. Clutter clogs up our lives. I have boxes of stuff in my basement that I couldn’t even tell you what is down there, but NO WAY am I getting rid of it. That is just crazy talk. I might need that stuff at some point and then I would have to replace it. Remember when I said I don’t even know for sure what is in those boxes, yeah that is how this works.

If you focus on differentiating between your Needs and Wants, then you can spend your energy on things that will make you happier. In doing this, you will figure out what is not necessary or important in your life. Winter makes a great time to prioritize the “things” in your life and remove the clutter. Donate unwanted items to charity organizations that might have a use for them. You will feel better and remove stress from your life.

I suggest making a list, cliche’d I know, but visual aids lends accountability and help with being more honest about just where something belongs on the lists. You can be as vague or specific as you desire depending on how deep you want to go with this exercise. Clarifying what is important in your life is a small step to a better you in 2016. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Feb 17th 2016

Today, Gentle Readers, is about our furry friends and the cold winter months. Being the species obvious connection to the occult, today is geared more towards feral felines. Cats for the unknowing. I want to use this moment to speak about all animals in our care and maybe ones that are not in our care at all. The winter months can be brutal for animals in the wild, or domesticated ones kept outside at times. Be a responsible pet owner and make sure that your pets have adequate protection from the elements. This could mean a dog house with a heat lamp in extreme cold, or just find a way to keep the animal inside.

My larger dog, a lab mutt animal named Moose (more fitting than his original name of Yoda), is an odd duck at times. We had a couple of negative double digit wind chills in a row. I was home these days so other than for them to go to the bathroom I was keeping both dogs inside. Don’t tell my wife I was worried about the dogs, I have a rep to protect that the Moose and I are not friends.

Anyway, I let him out to go to the bathroom because he’s dancing around the house like a kid holding in their pee. Now that he is a few years old I don’t worry too much about him running off, especially when it is cold outside. So I close the back screen door and go into the kitchen to make myself something to drink. A couple minutes later I go to the door, expecting him to be waiting to come inside. Nope. He is in the outside kennel, just standing there waiting for me to close the gate.

I am dumbfounded at this moment. It is very cold, the wind is whistling through the trees, and this numbskull wants to hang out in the kennel. I don’t even have my shoes on so I am not going out there to close the gate so I just leave him out there. I left him there and went back to catching up on one of my DVR’d shows for about an hour. I then went to the back door, he is still sitting in the kennel like it is 80 degrees out. I call him and he looks at me like I am the crazy one. Finally after a little coaxing he decides coming back inside is the best option.

Sometimes I am not sure if he is right in the head, but he is loyal. This is a picture of him and his older sister Jedi. Yes. Their names are Jedi and Yoda. This is what happens when you let your Star Wars obsessed son name the pets in the house. We at one time had a hamster named Vader as well. Yes, as in Darth Vader. It was even all black, hence where it got its name from. Vader kept using the Force to break out of his cage. One time, we didn’t find him. I prefer to call these two, Moose and Squirrel.
mooseandsquirrelI hope everyone has a safe rest of winter out there and don’t forget to keep an eye on your pets. Until next time Gentle Readers.

Spell a Day – Feb 16th 2016

Let loose the hounds of war Gentle Readers. Today is about suiting up for war. Now, I have friends who participate in reenactments so for them, suiting up for war actually includes metal armor. What I am getting at here is more like mental armor. When you have a difficult situation, perhaps some sort of harassment or discrimination, that you have to escalate to the next level, it helps if you feel ‘armored up’ and ready to do battle. Doing this without a clear head is not advisable. This can be advisable in other aspects of life. A clear head is preferable to being heard as opposed to getting overly emotional and flying off the handle.

It pains me to say that I cannot find the quote that first came to mind when I read about today’s call to Mars (or Aries if you prefer) for his assistance. This quote goes something like “Emotion is the enemy of reason”. This speaks to the power that a calm and rational discourse can have for your case to be taken seriously. Being someone with a bit of an anger issue at times, some help staying calm is definitely right up my alley. I wear my emotions on my sleeve like a badge of honor most times.

I was also reminded of a Bible passage from a youth retreat I went to in my younger days.

Ephesians 6:11-18 King James Version (KJV)

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with Truth, and having on the breastplate of Righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I have often turned to this passage in my Bible at home even since I broke with organized Christian faith. I find that it is a powerful message, even if you don’t necessary believe in the whole God portion.

Being ‘girt with Truth’ is universal. Being truthful and honest in your dealings goes a long way.
Wearing the ‘breastplate of Righteousness’ doesn’t hurt either. This can be a tricky subject because other people’s morality and sense of justice may be different from yours. This can cause difficulties in itself, or outright hostility. (see every religious war EVER…)

Peace. An interesting concept. Peace can be defined as tranquility and quiet, or simply a cessation of war/conflict. I would like to think they are one and the same. Who doesn’t want to be prepared for peace when they enter war? You are going to war over some injustice, but once that wrong has been righted, it is time for peace and forgiveness. It is not a time for repercussions.

Faith. Sure there is faith in a higher power, but there is also faith in oneself and one’s personal ideals/beliefs and self worth. There are times where you are justified to ‘go to war’ over something or someone that has wronged you.

Salvation. Means different things to different religions. It doesn’t mean you have to be ‘saved’ from sin. It could simply be a means of preservation from harm, ruin, or loss. In this way, a ‘helmet of salvation’ could almost refer to keeping a level and cool head.

Now, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God is pretty clear what they are referring to. I think you could adapt this to non-religious speak by thinking about it in a different light. The Word of God is a set of ideals put to paper. You have your own convictions and moral compass, whether it is grounded in the Christian faith or some other moral code. I haven’t researched it but I am sure even the Flying Spaghetti Monster has some sort of guidelines adherents are supposed to live by. That is all the sword is. It is your firm belief in something. The part that makes you you. So don’t give up that weapon when you go to war.

I suppose I rambled on a bit but I enjoyed this topic and it is something that speaks to my heart and soul. I hope the next time you face a difficult trial Gentle Readers, that you will take up your armor and push through to a positive conclusion. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Feb 15th 2016

Today’s topic has to do with social standards and gender roles. Our contributor today says we should examine our beliefs regarding what is traditionally male and what is female, in all aspects of life. This could be clothing or predilections, or even societal norms.

I firmly believe that equality between the genders can exist, up to a certain point. Not to downplay females at all, but in general they are built slighter and with less muscle mass than the average male. There are exceptions on both ends of the spectrum and that’s where the water gets a bit muddy to make any sort of blanket statements. Someone who grew up seeing strong, dominant personality females would associate those traits with the female gender, finding a submissive female something of an abnormality. The inverse true with male stereotypes.

The contributor recommends attempting to dress as what we perceive to be the opposite of our chosen gender. I have nothing against cross dressing, but I am not sure I see the benefit. If you aren’t some sexist idiot you don’t have to cross dress to appreciate the differences between genders and know that, for the most part, there are no norms or stereotypes anymore. Women can be the breadwinner just as much as Men were in previous generations. I am neither threatened or pissed off about that. If I have a daughter I am going to encourage her to have whatever dreams she wants to have, regardless of it being a traditionally “male” job or role.

I guess in conclusion Gentle Readers, go forth and appreciate everyone, regardless of gender stereotypes or societal norms.

Spell a Day – Feb 14th 2016

Today Gentle Readers is the great celebration of love that is Valentine’s Day. Flower shops and chocolate makers rejoice. Jewelry stores and stuffed animal producers dance a little jig all the way to the bank with the hard earned money of love struck individuals. November sees an increase in births (well, I don’t know about that one for sure but it is still funny). The moral of the spell today is that today isn’t just about romantic love, but also about love of self. Appreciate yourself and, even if you are single, know that you are worthy of love.

For me, today has always had another special meaning. Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She would be 86 today if she had not passed away in 2012. Anyone who has seen previous posts knows that my grandmother meant everything to me. She helped raise my brothers and I. As her years waned I took care of her. Losing her was losing a part of my heart. Most of the time I couldn’t pinpoint my religious beliefs, but I am sure she is looking down on me. I just hope I am making her proud. I have shared poetry inspired by my grandmother before and today will be no exception. This one is a little sadder than the previous ones as today I feel a bit more melancholy.

Just Gone
An emptiness fills my soul
Pain, Blinding, no comfort at all
Seeking something to fill the hole
Left, inside, and my spirits fall
To lose one who was always there
Is a heavy burden to bear

Always supportive, never failing
Constant unchanging, solid standing
How do you go on when they leave
So suddenly you are forced to grieve
Your heart left desperately longing
For one more day, another sunrise to see

They vanish, never to be seen
They vanish, a heart torn all apart
They vanish, pain so deep and keen
They vanish, piercing a battered heart

Where do loved ones go?
When they leave our side
So much still for them to show
Tears flow like a rising tide
My heart, cries out against the truth
Her hand, cold in mine is the proof

 

I hope that you all will take the time today to tell the ones you love how you feel about them. It doesn’t matter if it is romantic love or just platonic. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

Spell a Day – Feb 13th 2016

Today’s topic is special in and of itself, but also because tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, is also my grandmother’s birthday. She would be turning 86 if she were still alive. Not a day goes by that I do not miss her and wonder what she would say about how my life has changed in the last few years since she left us here for the next great adventure.

Parentalia is an ancient Roman tradition where one honors their ancestors in some way. Many would visit the graves, bringing flowers and wine, to commune with their forefathers(and mothers) in a meaningful way. I think this is a lovely tradition. Since my grandmother passed I have tried to spend some time on her birthday to remember the lessons she taught me on the road to becoming who I am today. She was always filled with compassion and forgiveness for others, even when better judgement said the person felt no remorse for their actions. She always tried to see the good in people, especially her children and grandchildren. The world is a darker place for her departure.

I have shared this before but this is a poem I wrote when she was alive and we used to play cards in the morning when I got off from my third shift job.

Spending Time with My Grandma

There are mornings where I have a new pastime.
It involves a visit with my aging grandma.
We sit and talk and play a few hands of cards.
While I talk to her about my work and day,
she listens intently, always with a few kind words,
or a bit of advice to help me on my way.

Staying with my mom, she is right on the way
home from work. This new fun pastime
of mine is sometimes hard to put into words
what it truly means to me. When I visit grandma
she always tells me she misses me every day,
and is quick to bring out the deck of cards.

Her shaking, aged hands shuffle the cards,
everything on the table cleared out of the way.
With school and work I can only visit every few days,
but nothing can take away the joy of my pastime.
The time is precious that I spend with grandma,
and the hours spent is more important than any words.

We pass the time in laughs and exchanging of words,
shuffling, dealing, shuffling, and dealing the cards.
“I am going to beat you this time,” says my grandma,
getting three aces and clearing the cards out of the way.
I think she has as much fun as I do with our pastime.
With excitement I wait for the visits on those days.

When it is time for me to leave at the end of those days,
a sadness creeps into my heart. We put into brief words
the happiness and comfort that comes with our pastime.
The table has been reset, the scorecard and the cards
have been put in the drawer and out of the way.
With a hug I leave, saying, “I love you grandma.”

The time with my grandma on those special days,
will always outweigh the advice or the words,
or the little deck of cards of our favorite pastime.

Spend time with those loved ones that are getting on in age Gentle Readers. I would give up anything to play one more hand of cards with my grandmother.

Spell a Day – Feb 12th 2016

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say.

Beholder_by_Hungrysparrow
No no, not that kind of beholder, although Hungry Sparrow really captured this evil little D&D monster. You can find his artist page on Deviant Art by clicking here.

Today is about focusing on the beauty around us my Gentle Readers. Sometimes we get so lost in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind we forget to appreciate just what an amazing planet we inhabit.

There can be beauty all around us, from the little flower poking up through a city sidewalk, to a field of wildflowers. You can find beauty in the smile of your child and the laugh of your loved ones.

Take a moment today to stop and smell the roses my friends. Embrace the day and all the wondrous beauty around you.

Spell a Day – Feb 11th 2016

Today, Gentle Readers, is the topic of blessing your books. In most pagan religions this means blessing your Book of Shadows for protection.

I’m going a different way and putting out a call for suggestions of books to review in the upcoming weeks/months. I have a few more I am working my way through but I am always on the lookout for something new. I particularly enjoy science fiction/fantasy works. I recently read a space opera that was pretty good. I don’t have a lot of disposable income with the new baby on the way and I actually prefer ebooks at this time because I can carry them around on my phone. I am looking for smaller name authors. The big names get enough credit and this is about helping out small press or indie authors.

So let me know in the comments your suggestions. Links are helpful but a title and author name works in google search just as well.