Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in Review, A Personal Perspective

Well, I must say that 2010 has been the worst year I have had in a long time.  It has been mired by personal tragedy, illness, death, and a never-ending stream of struggles.  I look forward to 2011, because I believe that it will be one of my best years so far.  That having been said, I felt like offering my personal perspective on some of the events that happened around the world in 2010.  I know there is alot I left out, but lets just work with what I could remember.  And just as a disclaimer, I am not out to offend anyone but my opinion tends to insult at least a few people at any given time.  Sorry.

The United Nations designated 2010 as the International Year of Youth.  I suppose I am still in my youth, although 27 feels older every day. 

On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port Au Prince, Haiti.  As happens many times, people all over the world pretend that other countries like this are all a bad dream, that a place so poverty-stricken could not possibly exist in the 21st century.  But that day, we learned once again that places like Haiti are everywhere.  The world poured aid and money into Haiti to help the millions who were made homeless by the earthquake.  Now in December, most people don't remember why Haiti was in the news.  Most didn't even think twice about the country, or the fact that famine and disease now run rampant, just like colonial times.

On April 14, Eyjafjallajokull erupted. I know the name sounds like someone had marbles in their mouth.  I pride myself on being the only English speaking person within a 1,000 miles who could properly pronounce that name.  I speak of the Icelandic volcano that wrecked havoc on Northern Europe.  Flights were canceled and thousands of people were stranded without any indication of if and when the volcano would ease up.  I personally took great satisfaction in this event.  Man sometimes grows too power-hungry and arrogant and needs to be reminded of where they stand in the grand scheme.  Life eventually returned to normal and most people forgot all about that lonely volcano in the land of fire and ice.

6 days after the volcano erupted, tragedy struck closer to home.  On April 20, an explosion on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused the worst oil spill that has been seen since Exxon Mobil.  There isn't much I can say about this.  It made me sick and it made me hate these big businesses who sacrifice everything in the name of capitalism.  The picture speaks for itself.

On a more positive subject, from June 11 through July 11 the world marveled once again at World Cup Soccer.  As an American, I wasn't raised with soccer.  I was raised on 'football' instead of 'futbol'.  However, I enjoy futbol much more than any other sport.  It also helps that I speak and understand Spanish.  I tried to watch the World Cup as narrated by British commentators and it lacked the passion necessary to narrate the game.  But the Spanish commentators were much more lively.  GGGGOOOOOLLLLL!  I love it!  And the final game was incredible.  The entire tournament was full of amazing plays, sexy players, and intense rivalry.  Spain triumphed in the end, Spain are the only team that has won the World Cup title after losing its opening game. Spain are only the second team to win a World Cup outside their own continent. Spain is also the first European team to win the World Cup outside of Europe.

The last event of 2010 that really inspired me was the Total Lunar Eclipse on December 21.  I am always awed by these celestial events, but this one was more special than most.  It occurred on the Winter Solstice, a Holy Day to my faith. This is the first time such a thing has happened since 1638.  And lucky me, I could see the whole thing from my bedroom window, sparing me from having to stand outside in freezing temperatures.

Some notable people died this year as well.  Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer at the age of 67.  Originally, the announcement of his death was a hoax.  But sadly within a few hours of the posting, it was revealed to be true.  And people really took it hard.  One commentator on Blabbermouth went as far as posting the following: "Nostradamus foretold the death of Dio as the final sign of the apocalypse: "When the keeper of dragons and rainbows passes from this world, so shall this world pass into darkness and fire.""
Not sure I would stretch it that far, but humans have a wild imagination.  Also dead this year:  Leslie Nielson, Elizabeth Edwards, Gary Coleman, and Dennis Hopper.  May the all find peace.

The top grossing movies of 2010 were: Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland*, HP and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, Inception, Shrek Forever After*, Twilight: Eclipse*, Iron Man 2, Despicable Me*, How to Train Your Dragon*, Clash of the Titans*.  The ones with asterisks next to them are ones I saw.  I don't have the energy to write much in the way of opinions for them, except to say that 2010 was a slow year for movies.  2011 promises to be full of must-see films that I look forward to seeing!

2011, one more year until 2012.  I have an opinion about this 'end of the year' stuff in regards to 2012, but I will save it for another entry.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My faith

My faith is a tricky thing to explain.  Even if you are open to other perspectives, its sometimes hard to understand another's faith because its not your own and you cannot read another's mind.  So, I am going to attempt to write a thing or two about my faith.  This is a faith I came to on my own.  I was not raised in this faith and I was never exposed to it as a child, although I now know that it was there and it was just waiting for a name. 

As a child, I loved to be outside.  If there was a tree near, I would climb it.  If the weather was nice, I would be outside playing or just sitting (or laying) in the grass.  When it rained, I loved to be outside and feel it falling on my face.  Somehow, all of the things in nature felt special to me.  They held a special place in my heart.  I loved the field trips to the petting zoo, I loved my teacher's bucket full of tadpoles.  At the age of 9, I took my first hiking trip.  It was in Whiskeytown, Northern CA.  I was at a week-long environmental camp in the woods.  This was my first experience walking in the wild.  I learned how to swim on this trip.  I learned in a pool at the base of a waterfall.  I was awestricken at the awesomeness of the nature around me.  All of the experiences in the natural world helped to cement my faith.  I have never been and never will be an atheist.  There is a Creator and whoever they are, they did a marvelous job! 

By the time I entered middle school, I was exploring religion.  I didn't have much exposure to it at home, so I was curious (naturally ;)) My grandmother had ordered me a Bible correspondence course, so I worked on it and it was good to learn something I didn't know before.  It was the course that set me on my path.  I joined a church with some friends from my school.  Over the next several years, I attended services with friends at most of the denominations.  It was my home church that helped to make up my mind about Christianity.  I was encouraged to ignore everything about the world, including my 'earthly' parents.  When my family wanted to go out and do something, I would argue and say no because I had Missionettes.  The youth pastor of that church used money and field trips as a way to keep us near the church.  It wasn't until a few years later (after I left the church) that I discovered that he was a child molester.  He was molesting the other girls in our youth group.

But please be aware, this isn't the only thing that turned me away from Christianity.  People often tell me that I should not blame the whole faith for the fault of one.  And that is true.  But many different things happened of the years that have shown me that there are other ways to express yourself and believe.  As a result of my time in the Christian faith, I became fanatical.  I believed that there is only two ways in the world, God or the Devil.  I even believed that kissing before marriage was a sin.  So, after leaving the church I went the only way I thought I could go, to the Devil.  I bought and read the Satanic Bible.  But, as an extension of Christianity, it didn't make any sense to me.  To me, Christianity and Satanism are opposite sides of the same coin. 

So after becoming hopeless with either faith, I became confused.  I knew their was Something, I could feel it all around me.  I could feel it in the wind, in the sun on my face, in the rain.  I could hear it in the sea, in the thunder.  I could see it all around me.  My love of history and my curiosity eventually led me to learn that the Old Faiths were alive and well, albeit not completely 'mainstream'.  Paganism is where I found my home. 

My various experiences in my brief life have cemented me as a polytheist.  I have not chosen one type of Paganism over the other.  I have studied most of them in great depth, and they all hold truth and common denominators.  Each God is representative of the next, and they intertwine.  And I believe very strongly that you do not necessarily have to ask for Their help.  They help those who really want to be helped, even if you don't ask. 

Isis came to me at a time in my life when I was learning how to be a wife and mother.  I didn't have a good example to learn from growing up.  But Isis gave me comfort and guidance and I believe very strongly that She has helped me become the loving wife and mother I now am. 

Thor came to me at a time in my life when I was learning how to channel my inner strength into positive venues.  I remember the exact moment I met Thor.  I was still living at home in Texas.  There was a thunderstorm coming.  I had loved thunderstorms for as long as I could remember.  I remember seeing it coming and feeling so much energy, it was exhilarating.  So I sat in the storm with the rain coming down and I held my sword in my lap and gave myself to the experience.  From that time on, I manage to stay strong when the world walks all over me.

These things may not make sense to anyone, maybe some of it makes sense to you, but thats the beauty of it.  Its my faith and its the one thing in the world that cannot be taken away from me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My post-Christmas Vision

Christmas Day was very hard for me.  It was a bittersweet time for the following reasons: This was the first year in several years that we actually bought a Christmas tree and had the means to fill it with presents.  My daughter's received a lot of very useful presents and they enjoyed themselves.  It wasn't very festive for me though.  I didn't receive anything, but worse than not getting anything material was the horrible feeling of emptiness I felt.  I have just lost my brother to suicide and my aunt to a rapid brain cancer.  I had a lot of stress related to our car repair.  And on Christmas Eve, I began to get sick.  I don't know what it was, but it was probably just a little stomach virus, followed by my surprise menstrual cycle that doesn't cooperate, and now I have some sort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome episode.  I feel physically terrible, mentally exhausted, and in need of a huge spiritual boost.  I comfort myself reading the Icelandic Sagas and the posts on my friend's Isis facebook page.  And this is where the story turns.

The day after Christmas in the wee hours of the morning, I began to dream.  I saw myself completely rearranging my house.  The computer and desk were moved to my bedroom and the major furniture in the attic was moved away and the attic was transformed into a sacred space.  I saw myself sitting there in silence and receiving the peace I had prayed for. 

So, acting on this vision, me and my husband moved the computer and desk, which now sits in my bedroom.  And I am trying to muster the strength to clean out the attic and donate what doesn't belong.  I plan to build an altar up there and make it a place I can go for quiet and for peace.  This will be the first time in almost 3 years that I have had an altar to pray at.  According to my faith, I do not need an altar to pray or to worship.  I prefer to do these things outdoors and in the woods, but this time of year I prefer to not stand in the cold.  Its selfish, I know.  And the altar is less of a place to worship than it is a place of meditation.  On it, I will place items that will help me to focus the positive influences in my life.  I will place my statue of Isis, who reassures me that I am a good mother and I can survive anything.  I will place my statue of a muscled man, who I have likened to Thor, and who has taught me to channel my inner strength into positive ventures.  I can also place things like artificial flowers to remind myself of the coming spring, a bowl of water to remind me of the soothing motions of the sea, and other things that may inspire me over time. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Its Been A Long Time

I have rediscovered my blog! I cannot believe it has been over a year since I last wrote here. I think I need to start writing again, I really need it. In an effort to shorten the update of the last year, I am going to make a list of everything that has happened over the last year and if you want to know more specifics, drop me a line.
I last wrote in August 2009. It is now December 2010, the day after Christmas.
We moved out of our small 1 bedroom apartment and into a 2 bedroom row house with a yard and a finished attic, now I am much more comfortable.
My oldest daughter survived kindergarten and did very well academically. Her PTSD gave us some trouble, but she has responded well to therapy. My youngest daughter is in her second year of Head Start and she loves school. It will be her turn for kindergarten next year and she is as excited as I am. In November of this year, my brother Robert committed suicide. Two weeks ago, my Aunt died from brain cancer. She was only diagnosed a few months ago, and it had an almost immediate effect. So with all of the grief I have endured, it wasn't a very nice Christmas. I just got over a stomach virus, so I spent part of the day in bed, feeling sad and too tired to do much of anything.

Over the last year, I attended therapy on a weekly basis and I attended a support group for women with depression. Everything was going great and I felt for the first time in years that I had my depression under control. I quite taking medication about a year ago in an effort to conceive child number three. Now, a year later I have learned that I have a condition called PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and my chances of having a child are next to nothing. I have also had to quite therapy since my health insurance has ran out and there is no cheap insurance available. And my support group is also no more, since I cannot take my children with me and I have no one available to watch them. My husband switched jobs, which makes us more or less financially stable, but still underemployed.

My children are more or less behaved. Their behavior has improved over this last year, and there are slightly more respondent to simple requests made of them and they help me more around the house. They are even excited sometimes to learn how to do new things like dishes or helping me cook. My little one Selene is especially helpful and has such a beautiful heart. She will serve people drinks, even if they don't ask for them, and she will defend her older sister will a fierceness that is very becoming of her warrior side. She is my little Valkyrie. I am proud of the way my girls are growing up. There is still much to teach them and many dangers in the world to prepare them for.

I know that 2011 will be a much better year, and I see myself doing great things next year. When the girls start school in the fall, I will be going to college to study Respiratory Therapy, which after two years can land me in a career make 50K a year. I cannot wait to finally break the chains of poverty. I deserve it!