Halloween – Samhain in Disguise

Halloween is based on the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This festival took place between the bounties of a fall filled with harvest and plenty; and the winter where hardship, short days and long cold nights would be the norm. This was the last celebration before day-time was short and the nights were long. In ancient times, winter was a dangerous time when lack of food and disease would stalk the people. Death was common, but winter was especially precarious.

Samhain was celebrated with bonfires, feasting, and other various activities. There was the belief that at Samhain the veil between the living and the dead was thinned.  Bonfires were lit in order to ward off the roaming ghosts that could kill the unwary. Once full dark fell, people were encouraged to stay either near the fires, or indoors. Gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery went along with the festival.

As this celebration continued past Catholic times, the church sought to Christianize it by creating All Hallows’ Eve. The Church stated that this was to be a time of honoring saints and martyrs. However, like most of the Churches decrees, the people retained some of the Pagan aspects of the festival. Eventually All Hollows’ Eve evolved into Halloween and lost its Christian overtones. Now we simply celebrate by dressing up and eating candy. Is Paganism in our bones?

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Reading to Children

My son recently told me that my reading to him and his sister when they were young was the best thing I ever did for them. He particularly loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of course, I read those books when both my kids were way too young. He was probably 6 and his sister was 3 when I started The Lord of the Rings. However, I believe that there comes a time in a child’s life when the mother is tired of reading “age appropriate” books, and decides to read what they themselves want to hear. Or maybe that was just me, but seriously, how many times can you read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? I think six times was my limit.

What was so great about these books is that my kids both have a fabulous vocabulary. In fact, when I home schooled, The Lord of the Rings was where I got their vocab words for the week; well, that and Shakespeare. And speaking of Shakespeare we also would have insult fights based on Shakespeare’s fantastic insults that pepper his works. Not only were they introduced to the Bard, they could insult with the best of them! Always a good skill to have. You never know when you’ll need a clever, inventive insult.

If you don’t read to your kids every night, you should definitely start. We had great talks about the characters and plots of the books I read to them. It was a wonderful way to find out what they thought of my own favorite characters. The best thing for me was that we were able to go on adventures together without leaving the house. Reading to your children is a great bonding experience. I’m so glad that I spent that time reading to them.

Journaling

Like many people, I journal. I don’t write nearly as often as I’d like to, but I do keep a journal and try to write my thoughts, etc. down at least once a month. It helps me to sort out my feelings, keep track of my goals, and figure out where I stand on many issues.

I also use journaling as a way to sort through issues that I find too upsetting to talk about with anyone else. When I haven’t written in my journal in a while, I begin to feel upset. I find that I really need that outlet. As a child my diary was full of all the petty (and not so petty) injustices that go along with being young. Now my journaling can be full of frustration; but also full of ideas for solutions.

Over the years, I’ve also realized that some problems happen over and over again, and have found ways to rectify that (if I can). The patterns that emerge when reading over old journals can be a scary proposition. Sometimes it feels like I’m not getting anywhere, that I’m just running in the same place on my little wheel.

However, journaling has been found to have some health benefits. http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

In this article, some of the benefits include strengthening your immune cells, can decrease symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. There is also evidence that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with those events. If you can reduce your stress, that in turn can help your physical conditions. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest that you do. I find it to be very helpful to write down my thoughts, work through my problems and hopefully find a solution. Sometimes the process can take a few months to work out, but I find that I feel better once I’ve written in my journal. Do you journal, and if so, have you found it to be helpful?

Five Things I Loved About This Week

Since I’ve been feeling a little down, I thought that I’d end the week on a happy note and list all the things that were great.

1. Spreading Veganism 

I met a man at BJ’s this week who was working at one of those stations where you get to sample food. When he asked me if I’d like a sample, I said sure, if it’s Vegan. Well, he actually had a Vegan option, I loved it -Potato and Onion Pirogi’s- what’s not to love? As I was eating my sample, he told me that he’s given up milk and cheese, “because people shouldn’t drink another animal’s milk.” I was so happy that I asked him if I could give him a hug; which I did! He told me that he still eats meat, but only a little, and he’s thinking of giving it up completely. He’s worried about his health, and as he’s getting older thinks he should take better care of what he puts in his body. Happy happy happy!

2.  Spreading Veganism

I’m back to taking my late morning walks! Yes, yes, yes! I can’t believe how much I missed it. The crisp fall air, the dodging of the falling acorns and back walnuts – how I missed them all. I’m not quite up to the usual length, but I am getting there. Yay me!

3. Unexpected Surprises 

I’ve discovered that Classico Jars are actually Mason jars. Did you know this? While I was washing a jar, the label came off, and there it was – a Mason jar! I’m now using them for food storage. Less recycling in my bin, and I’ve gotten rid of almost all of my plastic food storage.

4. Books

Bookstores are awesome. I went to the Mall with my daughter on Wednesday (not my favorite thing to do), but I got to spend about an hour visiting the books. So many books, so little time!

5. First Fires of the Season

Fires are great. This being New England, we’ve had nights down to 28° and needed a fire. How cozy and warm. I had forgotten how happy looking at the flames could make me. Also, after one too many cool nights, how nice it is to be warm.

So, there’s my list. The five things that I loved about this week. Hope you had many things that you loved about this week.

Stepping Back and Going Forward

Sometimes we have to step backward in order to move forward. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Ever since I injured my foot, I’ve literally been knocked off my feet, and forced to rethink a number of things. I have spent most of my life taking my body for granted and using it in any number of ways that have totally disregarded caring for it. I’ve always used my body for hard labor, from completely shoveling snow from my driveway and sidewalk myself from the age of seven; to hauling 6’ X 6’ Sheetrock up three flights of stairs. That would be fine if I had also let myself soak in the tub afterward, or taken the aches and pains into consideration. However, like a lot of people, I never did. While my husband was away working in Russia and I was home alone with two small children, I also shoveled the driveway; hauled and stacked huge piles of wood; and made the kindling.  Again, with little to no downtime, treating my body as an endless commodity that would never wear out.

Now I’m at the other end of the spectrum, and am being made aware that I’ve repeatedly injured my body due to my own stubbornness. I truly thought that I’d never get to this point. The point where my body has had enough, and now has forced me into a degree of rest. For a number of years I’ve been denying that I’m indeed getting one year older every year on my birthday. Imagine the surprise of that! I planned that this would never happen to me, and that I’d stay 35 forever. So much for plans, I guess.

So, now that I’m forced to sit down and stop, I’m finding that I can’t stand it! I want to go for a walk. I want to get outside and into nature. Books can only occupy me for so long! That one was a shock, to tell you the truth. I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed my walks, nor how important they were to me. What am I going to do now? I’m going to modify my workouts, soak my foot, and hope for the best. What else is there? And, need I say it? Getting older really really sucks!

Changing My Goals

I talked about my toe injury on Wednesday, and now I have to admit that my thoughts of getting back into my usual routine by Monday are just not going to happen. I’m pretty sure that the toenail is going away, and that it’ll be a while before I can get back to normal. So, what to do? I’ve decided to embrace a more expansive Yoga practice and maybe even get out my old Pilates DVD.

I’ve found myself becoming lazier as the week has gone on, and yesterday realized that I’m going to lose all the gains I’ve made if I don’t do something. My motivation has gone out the window; and I really haven’t gotten anything done this week. The sad thing is that I haven’t even taken care of my injured toe, either. Tuesday night was the first time since Saturday that I even soaked my foot. I think I was under the impression if I ignored it, the problem would miraculously go away. As this is my usual way of dealing with anything about myself, I realized it was stupid and decided to go back to doing what I can to help the situation.

So, I’ll let you know if I can even do an expanded Yoga workout. I haven’t done Pilates in years, but hope it will be beneficial. Injuries suck!