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 10th 2016

Ash Wednesday, not a particularly important day unless you are part of the Christian faith. While I may not be in the realm of “practicing” anything these days, I still respect their traditions, as long as someone doesn’t try to cram them down my throat.

For today however, we are going to talk about reconnecting with nature. Even when I would have classified myself as a Christian (Methodist to be exact) I always felt this awe inspiring power in nature. As a kid I would go fishing with my cousin. We never caught much in the ponds near our house but it was still fun. As I grew older I became more of an inside person. I blame technology and too many books, along with the Carolina heat in the summer.

Shortly after moving to Wisconsin I enrolled in a university with the intention of becoming a high school English and Theater teacher. Yeah, I wanted to be that teacher. The one that assigns the 2000 word creative writing exercises then covers the grammar and spelling mistakes with red ink and an encouraging word to just “Keep writing, the rest is all in the editing.”

During one of my assignments in Creative Writing 101, we were tasked with finding a quiet spot in nature to reflect. In the midst of a snowy winter, I went deep down the cross country skiing/hiking trails on campus and found a relatively clean downed tree to sit upon. I was far enough away from any roads to forget I was even in the city. No cars could reach me where I was. I sat on this log and breathed the crisp air until my fingers and toes went numb. It was glorious.

I highly recommend finding a special place to do this same exercise and write down your impressions and feelings from the experience. Just dress warmly if you are doing this in a snow covered forest like I did.

Take care my Gentle Readers. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Feb 9th 2016

Ah, Gentle Readers, the start of Mardi Gras. A day known as Fat Tuesday, where parties and feasting abound. Where you are to indulge in all of the decadence you can handle. The last hurrah before the start of Lent, in Christian faith at least. While you may or may not proscribe to the ideas of Lent and giving something up, you can still use this time as a period of growth and development.

I remember in school we used to do silly things like give up chewing gum for Lent. A few couples I knew gave up kissing to see if their relationship could survive without that act of intimacy. I don’t recall specifically if they made it or not. Usually within a week we forgot about the whole thing and life went back to normal. Well, normal for teenagers in the mid to late 90s.

The act of forgoing something you enjoy for the sake of Lent always struck me as odd growing up. In my more limited world view at the time I heard the “Well you will appreciate it more the rest of the year” that goes with this. However, giving up something as silly as candy or chewing gum, doesn’t really bring about any personal growth. I think it would be more effective to do something positive. Like, commit to working out in some way every day to promote better health. Volunteering at least once a week at a nursing home or homeless shelter or animal shelter. Read more to expand your mind. These don’t have to be college textbooks filled with something you will never use. Pick up a joke book, or a cookbook, and broaden yourself in some small way.

As for me, I am going to make a nice drink and enjoy being with my family this evening. Then tomorrow, get back to working on my goals for the year. Have a great day my Gentle Readers. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Feb 7th 2016

Today, Gentle Readers, is a day of promise, of opportunity. Though Winter still has most of us (in the northern hemisphere) in her cold hands, there is an awakening of sorts occurring. Soon the weather will warm and new seeds will go into the ground. Perhaps in some areas this is already happening in preparation for the upcoming spring.

Spring is a time of renewal, of promise. So revisit those promises you made to yourself and keep moving forward into the new year.

Promise of Spring
The promise of Spring
Bringing forth newness of Life
In upcoming days

Plant your seeds with purpose
Nurture your hopes and dreams
For Life has much to show us
Dancing in moon or sun beams

Plant your seeds with care
With an eye towards your goals
Upon the horizon you stare
Watching as the tide rolls

Back and forth it goes
Carrying you ever on
The promise of Spring