What Does This Time of Year Mean To You?

During this time of year, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, there are many different holidays that are celebrated depending on your faith or your family heritage. What does this time of year mean to you? Do you like it or does it make you feel stressed out? Do you have a strong sense of community or do you feel more alone than the rest of the year? Does it bring back fond childhood memories or does it bring feelings of sorrow and loss? I think over the years I have felt all of these various emotions at sometime or another during December.

If you go way back before the birth of Christianity; people celebrated holidays according to what they called the wheel of the year. Winter Solstice, which happens on approximately December 21st, was a celebration of the light returning. The days getting longer again. The wheel of the year was based on the farming year. This time of year was considered a time for rest and reflection. It was not a time to start new things, but rather a time to evaluate how the last year went and what to do differently when the Spring Equinox rolled around again and it was time to start preparing to plant the crops. That being said, many of our ancestors used this as a time to go inward. It is in such contrast to the busy hustle and bustle of the holiday season of today. For many this is the bushiest time of the year. Many people pick up seasonal jobs to pay for the gifts they have to buy. Holiday parties and get-togethers fill up all of your free time. There is shopping and baking to be done. Lists to make and check twice. Children are in holiday plays or other performances. It is all very busy and much more focused on community and others, rather than that inward journey.

Please be aware that if you are feeling like it is all too much, this just might be the ancestral roots within you. They may be calling to you to say; “shhhh, just be quiet for a bit now”. They may be asking that you rest, gather your strength, and prepare for the spring. Having clear communication with others, when it gets to much, can help you set boundaries for yourself around this. Have a dialog to clearly express what you need during this busy season. Perhaps you want to delay that get-together until after the first of the year, when your calendar is open. Maybe it is setting limits on gift giving or, as I said on a friends post, “giving the gift of not having to exchange gifts” with someone. You are not alone. Many people are feeling the stress and expectations this season places upon us. My hope for you is that with clear communication and firm boundaries, some of the stress of the holiday season can subside and you can return to reflecting on what does this season really mean to you. How do you best want to enjoy this season?  There is much beauty in this time of year. Find the peace to be able to enjoy it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May the peace of this holiday season infuse you to the core, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in our back yard

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Finding a Connection

Whether you use the word God, Universe, Creator, Spirit, or some other term we are all talking about the same thing, that force of life that is in all of us, that guiding force that lets us know there is something greater than ourselves that we are part of that. It is not something separate but something that connects us. For me, it is important to feel this connection. That does not happen by going through my mundane life, plodding along and checking the boxes. It takes an effort on my part to attend events, connect with others on the same spiritual path, and go to locations where I can feel that connection. This weekend I had just this sort of event on my calendar, because a friend had reached out and asked me to attend with her. I am so glad she did. It was an amazingly moving event that inspired us and left us fulfilled.

On Saturday night we went to a Kirtan. What is Kirtan? According to Courtney Amundson and Chi Johnson (the people lead the Kirtan we attended) “Kirtan, also called Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), is an ancient practice that stems from India. The call-and-response nature of Kirtan involves both performers and audience, setting a unique and sacred space that quiets the mind, reduces stress, and awakens your spirit within. Kirtan is open to all people, regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs!”  It was held in a beautiful space. A yoga studio in the lower level of the Compass Center in Stillwater, MN. The people in attendance ranged from an infant to seniors. Some people sat on the floor and others in chairs. The music was beautiful. The voices, raised together in song, created a beautifully energetic connection between all in attendance.

The music moved my body. As I sat on my yoga mat, I could not help but feel my body swaying in response the rhythms that filled the room. My voice raised signing/chanting the response to the call from the facilitators. I do not feel I have a gift for singing nor do it in public, but on this night, my voice would not be silent. I was a part of the communal energy. The vibration that resonated through the studio. The 3 month old infant was mesmerized by the music and her tiny foot also moved in response. The beauty of this experience even moved some to tears. When I had entered the room, my neck was tight, full of knots, and uncomfortable. It had been a harried day of trying to get projects completed, readying for the arrival of winter, and keeping promises to friends. I walked into this beautiful room, stressed from rushing about and with a headache. As the music and the voices were raised, as I was picked up within the loving, supportive vibrations and everything changed. The stress dropped away. The knots in my neck seemed to melt and released. The headache disappeared. I felt renewed. I felt energized. I felt connected.

I am grateful that my friend reached out to share this experience with us. I am blessed to have a husband who will try new things and is open to attending events like this with me. My life is magical. This spiritual adventure was one of the many blessings that flow into it everyday.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your life be filled with events that fill your cup in whatever way you need, as if by magic.

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Have You Heard of the Buy Nothing Movement?

I first time I heard of this amazing idea was when my friend Dawn mentioned it to me. At that time, there was not a group in my neighborhood, so I moved on from the idea. Later, when I relocated to a different neighborhood, I thought for sure there would be a group. Nope! How could this be? It is such an wonderful idea. So I decided to look into it further. What is Buy Nothing and what could I do about the lack of a group in my area?

The Buy Nothing Project is the idea, that instead of sending no longer needed stuff to the landfill, you can give it to your neighbors that need it for free. It is run as a private group on Facebook. Each group has defined neighborhoods with their streets set as boundaries. You can only belong to one group and only the group for the area you live within. There is a reason for this. The groups are intended to not only prevent usable items from heading to the landfills but also to help build community. It is encouraged, that when you pick up an item, you arrange a time when you and the gift-giver can meet. There by helping to build a community and helping neighbors get to know neighbors. This is such an amazing idea, right!?!

It is also possible for neighbors to borrow items from other neighbors or put up posts asking for something (maybe something someone no longer has need of). Gifts of service can also be given as well on the buy nothing site. Maybe someone needs help with lawn work or a ride somewhere. It truly is a community (and Site) of people just giving and helping one another.

So how could neither of my neighborhoods have this amazing group? I went to the website to see what could be done about this and I found my solution quickly. There was no one willing to be a administrator of the site in those areas. So I could volunteer to be the administrator of my local group if I wanted to start one there. I am pretty busy but I felt that this would be worth it.  I reached out through the website and volunteered. In no time at all I was starting my own neighborhood group. I worried if I would be able to grow the group large enough that it would become self-sustaining, healthy and active. I knew a few people in the group and had recently joined the My Neighborhood App. That was all it took! The group grew quickly and gifts began being shared freely and it took on a life of it’s own.  I am proud to say that my neighborhood Buy Nothing group currently has 270 members and counting.

Some groups are more interactive. Some run contests, which are fun. Like can you gift something everyday for some many days, would be one example. I read about another group where a whole wedding was planned and all items provided by the Buy Nothing Group! Wow! That is really great some random acts of kindness. It is also encouraged that the first to respond should not always get the item automatically, but rather people should comment why they were hoping for the item,  then a selection made for the person with the biggest need or the most interesting reason to get it.  Additionally those posting items are encouraged to tell a story about the item they are offering to their neighbors. Gratitude is always encouraged amongst the group. Freely expressing thanks for items received; is a beautiful way to keep the neighborhood vibration high and intentions pure. All of this is meant to continue to build strong a community and spread love.

Do you belong to a Buy Nothing Group? If not, it’s is worth looking into. If there is not one in your neighborhood, do what I did, volunteer to be the Administrator! There are resources and support people to help you and offer suggestions. I have found that being a Buy Nothing Administrator takes very little of my time and is very worth while.

Thank you for reading my Blog today. I wish you a lifetime filled with random acts of kindness, as if by magic.

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The Story of the Stone Buffalo

Emy and my adventures are mostly based in the BWCA (Boundary Water Canoe Area) but there was an earlier adventure. It also started with a Groupon, curiously. It was a kayak trip down the Mississippi. This was not a daunting journey that took days and multiple supplies. This was a leisurely paddle with the current for a few hours.
It was a beautiful sunny day. We were excited to get out and do something new together. I had done some canoeing and kayaking but this was our first joint voyage. We paddled along, enjoying the scenery and each others company. We talked about the environment and even sent some healing energy to the Mississippi. We wanted to help combat some of the pollution we feared was there. There was a little island in the middle of the river at one point. Feeling free and quite adventurous we decided to stop and explore. It was a small bit of land covered with trees. There was a little dirt path through the forest. Hiking on the path was a great way to stretch our legs after a couple hours in the kayaks. We came across a picnic table. We walked past it not thinking much about it. Emy wondered further into the woods but I felt drawn to the picnic table. On the table there was a small stone bison. I felt intuitively that the fairies had left it there for me. I excitedly told Emy about it and showed it to her.
When I got home I looked up the spiritual meaning of bison. I believe that when we notice animals (especially animals we don’t typically see) they come with a message for us. It is a way Spirit talks to us. When I look up the messages animal totems have for me, I trust my gut to guide me to the reason the animal showed up. Nothing about the stone bison really seemed like a strong message for me at the time. I kept it in a special place; I had a sense that it was a powerful gift.
Tonight as Emy and I were messaging back and forth about steps we are taking to get our books published, my phone autocorrected “vision” to “bison”. I was immediately reminded of the stone bison from all those years ago. I looked it up again to see what meaning or message it had for us now. The following list of words came up acquainted with the bison.

Abundance      Blessing      Community      Consistency      Goals
Gratitude      Manifestation      Prayer      Prosperity      Provision
Sacrifice      Service      Stability      Strength      Surrender

Since this evening had been focused on our efforts to get our books published, I feel that the message of the stone bison was about steps we could take to move our books forward. I find it so interesting that this gift was given to me so many years before the idea of the book or even the concept of the Adventure Sisters was born. Life is magical, if you trust it.
Do you have any similar stories? What magic have you noticed in your life?

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