Sunday, May 12, 2013
Happy mother's day! Whether your kids walk on two legs or four, may your day be filled with happiness, and far less poop than mine has encountered already today. I woke up around 1am sneezing and congested. My allergies were in full-blown beast mode. I couldn't breathe, my nose was leaking like a sive, and my throat and inner ears were itching like crazy. Nothing like trying to blow your nose quietly in the middle of the night, while praying nobody else wakes up. After I managed to at least halfway clear my sinuses, I went back to bed. Hope came bounding into the room at precisely 5:56am, requesting breakfast and asking when I would hold true to the promise I made yesterday to curl her hair. I did everything I could to convince her to go back to bed, but if you know Hope, you know once she's up, so is the rest of the world. So I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and handed her a bag of mini-muffins and a cup of milk, then settled into my recliner to try to catch a few more z's before the rest of the house woke up. Just as I started to pass out, my phone started buzzing with "Happy Mother's Day" texts from my friends and family on the east coast. I love you guys, but HELLO, time difference. LOL So at that point I figured trying for more sleep was useless. I convinced Tim to run out to get me some coffee, but had to ask him at least a half a dozen times until he finally put pants on and then wound up convincing his sister (who is currently living with us) to drive him there. Hope hitched a ride and I got excited for a second thinking I could maybe actually grab half an hour of precious sleep while they were gone... until on her way out, Hope yelled, "MOM! Ray's awake!" And once again, my dreams were shattered. I got Raylan out of bed, brought him downstairs, and he started asking for ice cream for breakfast. Yeah, right. But once the rest of the members of the household had left, I caved in and let him have three little bites. Instantly, his mouth turned blue from the stain of the ice cream, and I knew once Hope got home, we'd be busted. I tried to get him to promise to keep this our little secret, but at 2, you never know what he's going to say. So I wasn't going to hold my breath. Tim, Kristian, and Hope got home with coffee and McDonald's breakfast, so I passed out McMuffins and then cleaned up and started a load of laundry. Tim went out back to work in the shop, and Raylan announced panicked that he had to go potty. So I jumped up and ran to the bathroom with him. We've been potty training for a while, and it's still hit or miss with him, so I hurredly yanked his sleep boxers and pull-up down and situated him onto his potty chair. That's when I smelled it. Poop. I got excited! Finally! Poop in the potty was huge progress! Except.. it wasn't IN the potty. It was on the floor. And on his leg... and the wall, and the potty chair... as well as in his pants, stuck to the bottom of his foot, and as he realized what was happening and reached down, also on his hand. It was poopocalypse 2013. I yelled for help, and Kristian and Hope did run-bys, throwing wipes and diapers and extra clothes into the bathroom for me. I spent the better part of half an hour scrubbing poop off of every bathroom service as well as my son, and then disinfecting everything in sight. Happy mother's day. Nothing says "I love you" like poop everywhere.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Yesterday I got a new cell phone. My old one has been on it's last leg for a while, and I have made it last as long as I could, but it doesn't even want to let me answer messages or shut off alarms anymore, so it was time. As I was transferring all of my information from the old phone to the new one, I realized that there was one thing I could not transfer over that I was also not ready to part with. It's a text message from Desi. The last few conversations we'd had and her final goodbye to me before she took her life this past August. I read that message every so often, as morbid as it seems. I go back and look at it and I miss her. She was my very best friend, the one person who never judged me for anything, was always there when I needed her (despite the distance), and who I believe with all my heart was my soulmate. So I did what anyone in this day in age would do, I reached out to my friends on Facebook for ideas on how to hold onto that text message. Unfortunately, none of the ideas worked and the best thing I could come up with was to take pictures of the message thread on the old phone with the new phone. I suppose that will have to do. Many of my friends and family members left nice comments and heartfelt virtual hugs on my post, which felt very supportive and understanding. It's an unfortunate truth that many of the people showing their support for MY loss have experienced very similar losses through suicide in the past year as well. Just as I was about to fall asleep for the night, I got one more comment to my Facebook post. This one was anything but supportive and encouraging - it was downright rude and uncalled for. Someone I've known for many years, who I've shown constant support to throughout his recently troubled past, was going on and on about how suicide was selfish and that Desi had no respect or regard for the feelings of those she left behind. He went on to ask how any of the other commenters could possibly feel grief over her death or be supportive and understanding of my grief, and then went into a full rant on all of the things he'd been through in the past few years and look at him, he was still standing. Truth be told, he's been through a lot. But what he said was downright disrespectful and hurtful, so I deleted the comment and sent him a private message telling him that while each person has a right to their opinions, I did not appreciate his inappropriate post. He came unglued. I tried a few more ways to politely explain to him that while it's easy to judge from the outside of a situation, he didn't know Desi, he didn't know any of the facts, and that while even with the pile of tragedy she'd faced in her life, suicide was not the answer, what's done is done and her death doesn't make those left behind hurt any less than those left after any other kind of death. He was not having it. He went on the attack and once he had me spewing profanities, I knew it was better to stop and just delete/block him altogether. That's what brings me to this blog. What do people think gives them the right to diminish death by suicide as something less tragic and painful for the friends and family left behind in comparison to any other type of death? Do you think people hurt more if thier loved one is murdered on the street in cold blood as opposed to dying peacefully of old age, safe and warm in their bed? Death is inevitable. We know it's coming, we just usually don't know when. Life is about establishing relationships with other people, and when those people's lives end, the living ache and yearn for more time with the ones they lost. It doesn't matter how the death occured, or who was responsible. The end result is that one life is gone and the lives of the people connected to that person are forever changed. Sure, suicide is a choice. People choose it every day. They feel trapped, backed into a corner, left with no other options. Of course I don't condone it, and like most people, I agree that it's just not the answer. But as someone who has been suicidal myself at least once in my life, I get it. And I can tell you, that the belief that suicidal people only think about themselves and don't have any regard for the people who will grieve for them when they are gone is the furthest thing from the truth. It's ALL they think about. And then that adds to the pain they're already in and the deed is done. We, the survivors, don't have to agree with it, we don't have to accept it as a good enough reason for a life to have ended. But we still hurt. We still grieve. We still have a big empty hole in our lives that cannot be filled by anyone or anything else. So before you pop off your opinion that suicide is selfish, take a minute and think about how you would feel if the tables were turned. If someone told you that you needed to quit whining about your poor dead grandmother because she was old, so you should've seen it coming, how would you feel? If I just took your grief and tried to make you feel like you didn't have a right to feel that way, you'd be pissed. So don't judge what you don't understand. Don't add to the pile of crap that someone is already going through by spewing your opinions on how thier pain is unjustified. You don't get a trophy or medal that says, "Congratulations, you did better at life than these other people". Everyone has their problems and they are all handled in different ways. The only life you're responsible for the actions of, is your own. Period. You can judge yourself as fairly or as harshly as you like. But owning the same pair of shoes as someone else is not the same as walking a mile in thiers. Be considerate of the feelings and the grieving process of those affected by suicide. Regardless of what you may think of the act itself, the life lost still has a profound affect on others and belittling the way in which death took someone is not going to score you any points with anyone. 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' so say the Christians. Time to practice what you preach, folks. So what SHOULD you say when someone you know loses a friend via suicide? The standard "I'm sorry for your loss", "let me know if you need anything", and "I'm here if you need to talk" will suffice. Keep your opinions on the matter out of the conversation. Don't compare your long list of struggles to the reasons the deceasaed may or may not have given for why they took matters into their own hands. Don't judge. Because you don't know. That's the cold hard truth about it. You DON'T know.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
While it seems most Pagans take a very Democratic stance when it comes to politics, I do not feel I fit entirely in either party. I have morals, values and strong beliefs that are on both sides of the political fence. I support Gay marriage and am 100% against gun control. I believe this country is a big fat mess right now. I do NOT like Obama but I don't think Romney was cut out for the presidency either. In all honesty, I think our only hope of getting America back to being the best country in the world is to change our laws to elect TWO presidents into office simultaneously. No more VPs, just two equally powered co-presidents, one from either of the two major parties, who must agree on everything that comes across their desks or it cannot be processed. It sounds like a lot of work, and a lot of delay, I know. But in all fairness, how long are we up to now with trying to solve the national budget? Giving one party supreme power over the other doesn't work for anyone. One more big enough government change and we're about to watch this country tear itself apart with another "civil" war. The only way to solve the problems we're facing is to stop making the same mistakes. The other day I got a message from a friend of mine asking me if I had meant to re-post a political comment on facebook, because she didn't agree with it. It turned out I hadn't meant to share it at all, I had clicked it on accident while scrolling through my page in the waiting room at the doctor's office. But it brought a whole new issue into light for me. Being a Republican doesn't mean you HAVE TO oppose Gay marriage. Being a Democrat doesn't mean you HAVE TO support gun control. Just because the party you identify youself as part of favors one side of the spectrum doesn't mean you need to blindly follow suit. Each sector of political figures has valid points about certain areas and there's nothing wrong with agreeing what they have to say even if they're from a party that you don't agree with one single other item on. Forcing two people in power to come to a compromise and agreement over those big issues will help the American public to learn to do the same. Then we really could become the FREE country we have been claiming to be forever. That's just my opinion.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I have been using Paypal to buy and sell stuff on Ebay since... practically forever. I believe my sign-up date was in 2001. So let's say 12 years, for good measure. During that time, I have had zero complaints. Zero. No returns, no requested refunds, no negative feedback on Ebay. I have, however, credited money back to clients with a note that shipping cost less than anticipated. You know what all that means to Paypal? Nothing. Not a darn thing. 2 years ago, due to a loan modification gone awry, I lost my house and had to file bankruptcy to protect myself. My perfect credit went right down the drain. I have been struggling to claw my way back into a decent looking score ever since. Paypal doesn't care that I have never had a single problem with transactions through them. They don't care that although my credit score is below the national average, I make all of my bill payments on time. All they care about is the word: Bankruptcy. When I opened my webstore this year, I had to upgrade from a simple Paypal account to a merchant account - so that I could accept credit card payments securely as a business. I have to PAY Paypal a monthly fee to use this service. They took it upon themselves to check my credit report and decided that since I had a bankruptcy, TWO YEARS AGO, I was a liability to their other clients. They assumed that a bankruptcy in my past made me a common criminal, out to steal money from unsuspecting internet shoppers. And because of that, they placed what's called a "Rolling Reserve" on my account. They hold 20% of every transaction in an account I can't touch, for 90 days. EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION. Let's recap. They're charging me $15 a month to use their merchant services. They charge 3.5% of all transactions to keep for themselves. And they're holding 20% of each of MY sales in their account, gathering interest THAT THEY KEEP, for 90 days at a time. I have called and raised holy hell several times. Once, I even got a rep to release half of the money they were holding. They still have over $200 locked up that I can't use, even in an emergency situation. I just got off the phone with one of the top-line supervisors at Paypal. I told him (in some not-very-nice words) exactly how I felt about the entire situation. I expressed to him that I have had over 300 transactions through Paypal since January 1 of this year - all of which resulted in positive feedback and happy customers. He agreed that I had performed above the average seller, and agreed to see if there was anything he could do to eliminate the rolling reserve hold. After 30 minutes on hold, he returned to the line and told me that he was 'very sorry, but Paypal will not stop holding 20% of my funds until at least June'. In June, he claims my account will be re-evaluated, at which time they will check my credit score again and determine whether or not I am still a 'liability to their clients'. I am stuck at this point, but I can tell you that if they don't knock this crap off by the time I am re-evaluated, I will get in the car and drive to Paypal headquarters and refuse to leave until they either give me all of the funds they're holding, plus interest, or take me to jail. Frustrated doesn't begin to describe my feelings right now.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I guess I never put a lot of thought into how to keep the scaries out of the house because I don't believe in negative energies. But... I can see where kids could feel scared about things they see, sense & feel, because they don't understand it. Lately, a lot of my friends have been asking me for tips and tricks to cleanse their homes and help their kids sleep better at night because so many of their kids seem to have a bad case of the heebiejeebies. Here's a list of my favorite ideas and instructions on how to complete them. I've tried to word these for use in any form of faith, and to make them easy to understand for kids of any age. 1. Smudge, smudge, smudge. Anyone can do it. There's several options. You can purchase a white sage smudge wand, light the end on fire, blow out the flame, and then fan the smoke around any area that your child feels is scary, while saying things like "every energy and being must leave us at peace", "Only love, peace and harmony may remain here", etc. You can say whatever you'd like, just get your point accross that it's time for all energies to vacate and not return. If you're not a fan of the smoke that comes along with traditional smudging methods, you can pick up some white sage smudge mist spray through my webstore, www.mamaemsworld.com and get all the same effects without the smoke or lingering smells. I highly recommend it for people with small children, breathing issues, or indoor pets. 2. Be loud, and be vocal! Teach your child that he or she has full control over the energy that invades is or her space. By yelling out that the scary thing must leave, and never come back, he or she is drawing an invisible line in the sand and standing their ground that they will not allow the energy to torment them or scare them anymore. As a parent, you should follow suit. Yell out "You cannot stay here if you continue to scare little Tommy! This is your final warning!" Be firm. Sme energies don't understand that they're scaring the child and a good stern talking-to will calm things right down. 3. Surround your child in white light. Tell your child to close their eyes and imagine blowing a bubble filled with bright, white light. Tell them to blow it bigger and bigger until their whole body is surrounded by it. Tell them to use their mind to make it glow as bright as they can. Explain that this bubble is pure protection from any outside influence, and that nothing can penetrate it. The walls are made of solid rock, and the light scares away the monsters. The bubble will stay around them while they sleep and only pop when they get up in the morning and the scary things are gone for the day. If you've got your own method on keeping the scaries out, I'd love to hear it!
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
My 2 year old son was up at 4am today. He was whiney and clingy, and I knew he wasn't ready to be up yet. Okay, okay, I wasn't ready to be up yet. So I got a warm fuzzy throw and we snuggled under it in the rocker-recliner. I was rocking that big old squeeky chair and patting Ray's butt to see if I could knock him out again, but with all the racket in the kitchen of Tim trying to get ready for work, it was pretty unsuccessful. Finally, a few minutes after Tim rushed out the door, Ray's little eyes closed and he started to snore. That's when I realized I was stuck there while my coffee was busy filling the air with it's warm aroma in the other room. Every time I tried to reposition myself to gently place Ray on the chair, he'd start to wake up. So I gave in and thought maybe I could catch a few z's myself. Just as I started to fade into dreamland, my hell raiser of a cat started pawing at the blinds on the window right next to my chair. I waved my hand at him and he ran off into the darkness, only to return for rounds 3, 4 and 5. So I figured he wanted me to come back to bed like I normally do, and I gently stood up and carried my 30-something pound tank of a little boy to my room. I placed him on Tim's side of the king sized bed, and climbed into my own side. The cat jumped up and snuggled between us, happy that his request had been satisfied. Within minutes, I had a cat paw on my stomach, a kid's foot in my rib cage, and Ray's tiny fist on my forehead. He had wormed all the way over to my side of the bed and was working on pushing me off of it. So I gave up. I wadded up my blanket so that he wouldn't fall off the bed and I came back into the living room and sat with my cup of coffee, working on today's tarot card readings. I snuck in to check on Ray about an hour later, and he and the cat were sleeping peacefully, sprawled across the center of the bed. At least SOMEONE got some sleep this morning! Ah, such is the life of a mom.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Peace and quiet are precious commodities. So why is it so hard to just sit still and enjoy the few precious moments of it that I get? Tim's still at work - he put in 15 hours yesterday and is up to almost 10 today. My mom stopped by and picked up the kids about two hours ago to play at her house. I was so excited to have some quiet alone time! I thought about a long hot bubble bath with a glass of wine, but after looking at the pile of toys in the tub and dreading what might be lurking under the suction-cup-anti-slip froggies stuck to the bottom, I decided against it. I will admit, I relaxed a bit while putting on my makeup and I walked around the house pantsless for a while, munching on the last of the Girl Scout cookies. But the whole "chillout" feeling ended pretty quickly because the next thing I knew, I was throwing in a load of laundry, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor, vacuuming the living room, and putting toys away. WTF, right? I should be enjoying my alone time, having a beer and vegging out on the couch. I work from home, so I spend every waking moment with my kids. It's a constant barrage of "mommy I have to go potty" and "he's looking at me again". Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my kids for the world, but it will be really nice when they're both in school and I get a little break every day. I spend those precious seconds after I get them in their car seats and close the doors to the van mentally prepping myself to be locked in a confined space with all the whining and begging for happy meals and car-trip questions like "are we there yet?" and "can we eat somewhere?" and then I take a deep breath and get in. But when I'm faced with at least a few hours of total alone time, I can't even let myself watch an entire tv show without feeling like I'm being counterproductive. Is it just a mom thing? It's frustrating.
Monday, March 11, 2013
About a week ago, I got a request for a Tarot card reading from a guy who wanted to know whether or not he had passed a big math test to qualify to become a CPA. I told him I don't like to answer YES or NO questions because that's not exactly how the cards work. I offered him a refund. He refused and insisted on the reading. I consulted the cards, and then gave him this answer: 'I really can't get a clear answer. It looks like you either just barely passed or missed it by a very slim margin. I'm sorry, that's all I've got.' He emailed me yesterday with this response: 'I just wanted you to know that you were way off on your prediction. I needed 70 points to pass and I only got 65.' My immediate thought was, Dude, 5 points is a narrow margin, which is exactly what I said. If you can't do math, perhaps a position as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is not for you. Sometimes it's so hard not to let sarcasm get the best of you!
Somebody once said that one of the best qualites that people can can have is the ability to laugh at themselves. I don't know who, and I'm too focused to look it up right now. But boy oh boy do I spend a lot of time laughing at myself. I do dumb things. Once, I almost superglued my eye shut. I'm not kidding. (I blogged about this a long, long time ago, back in the days of Myspace. See below!) The photo above, is me. It was a few years ago when I was still working in the office. We got a flier in the mail that day for vision care, and I carefully cut eye holes in it and then held it up to my face every time someone walked by my desk that day. When the person walking by laughed, I laughed. My friend Jodi laughed so hard that I went into a fit of uncontrollable hysterics and nearly hyperventilated. I couldn't catch my breath. It was completely ridiculous. I'm incredibly clumbsy. I dropped an unopened can of soda once, and it exploded all over my kitchen, even hitting the ceiling. I was so worried about the dark soda staining the white ceiling, that I scrambled to clean that before I starteds cleaning anything else, and almost fell off the countertop when I slipped in a puddle of soda. I broke my ankle in three places... walking. And if those weren't enough reasons to laugh at myself, I'm also a total dork. I make stupid jokes all the time, and I am the FIRST one to laugh at them. I can't even tell a joke to another person without cracking up halfway through it. I tell my kids all the time, that the sooner they get used to the fact that they were born into a family of weirdos, the less embarrassed they'll get. Last summer, on the way to an Iron Maiden concert, my husband made a comment about the driver in front of us not using his blinker. I asked which one. Tim answered "the old man, in the 5.0" and I looked right at him and asked, "with the ragtop down so his hair can blow?" I was already laughing when he said, "Don't, I beg you..." and then of course, I busted into a full rap session of 'Ice Ice Baby', and all he could do was roll his eyes and laugh. I'm goofy in the head, and I ain't afraid to show it... show it... I'm dorky and I know it... Here's the blog from back in the day (2006) about the super glue. Enjoy. Okay so the other night, I'm getting ready to jump in the tub to relax, since nobody's home to bother me.... and I realize that my nail is lifting. So, I go locate a tube of super glue, and I'm working on trying to get the nozzle of the super glue under my fingernail, when all of a sudden, I see a stream of clear liquid shooting toward my eyes. I jammed my eyes shut and scrunched up my face.... and narrowly missed having super glue get into my eyes. Unfortunately, it did get all over my face. My skin was glued together everwhere that I had any creases - my forehead, my nose, my laugh lines around my eyes, everywhere. I had one eye glued shut, eyelashes glued together, my eyebrows were glued to my forehead.... it sucked. It took hours of soaking my face in hot water and peeling layers of skin mixed with super glue off of my face, arms and chest. I wound up having to sacrifice half of one eyebrow, several eyelashes, and at least 2-3 layers of skin on my nose and above one eye. I am thankful that it didn't get IN my eyes, but... this still royally sucks. So in the mean time, until my eyebrow grows back, I'm trying to pencil it in - all the while trying not to look too surprised or angry. I hope they grow back fast! Til next time, watch out for the Super Glue! It really does BOND SKIN INSTANTLY! And it hurts like a bitch to get it off of your skin once it does!
This is my four-year-old daughter, Hope. Next week I have to register her for Kindergarten. I've been both looking forward to and dreading this moment since the day she was born. All of the areas that I've screwed up in are about to be highlighted when she's in the environment of other children and adults who are would-be strangers. She'll undoubtably utter the occasional bad word, pick her nose or fart in front of the teacher at least once, and I'll get several parent-teacher conference calls asking me to control her level of sarcasm. Not to mention, she takes great pride in telling literally anyone who will listen that her mom is a witch and she plans to grow up to be one as well. Thankfully, we've met and become friends with another Pagan mom & same age daughter duo who live right around the corner from us. So even in this tiny and highly Christian town, Hope won't be the only witchling to be in her class - let alone her school. She and her little buddy ought to provoke more than a few eyebrow raises with the tales they're sure to tell about their mothers practicing spellcraft, doing tarot readings, and at least in Hope's case - talking to the dead. She won't even start attending school until the fall and I'm already feeling the pressure of more than likely becoming the "weirdo" parent that the members of the PTA can't stop talking about. I don't have any choice in the matter. I'm very public about who I am and what I believe, and since I opened the metaphysical webstore, it's not like I could change my mind and try to hide from the public at this point. Not that I'd want to... I'm just making a point. I really hope that by continuing to be open and honest about my faith, it will encourage the other kids and parents to ask questions and get educated, while also helping them learn that even though my religion doesn't reflect what they're used to, I am a pretty "normal" person. I'm a wife, and a mom - I work a regular job as well as running my own business. I have a borderline unhealthy addiction to Pinterest and Facebook. (If you ask my husband, he'll tell you I've crossed that border to the dark side, there's no question is HIS mind.) I watch tv and cook and clean and do laundry and grocery shop, just like everybody else. I will not put up a fight or suggest that the word "God" be taken out of the flag salute, or that "Christmas break" or "Easter vacation" be refered to as something less Christian such as Winter & Spring breaks. In all honesty, none of that bothers me and I have no desire to try to change it. Of course I believe in religious equality and expect the school and faculty to accept that we do not practice those exact holidays in our household in the same ways they're used to. In a perfect world, I would love for the school to invite my friend and I to talk about the way WE do things, as an educational assembly for the kids. I remember when I was in Kindergarten, many years ago, one of the girls in my class was a Native American Pagan, and her family was invited to the class to teach us all a rain dance and educate the students and faculty about the beliefs of their tribe. But today we do not live in a perfect world, so I'll settle for social acceptance without judgement. Fingers crossed.
Monday, February 18, 2013
I wasn't going to respond to the segment on Fox News regarding Paganism and Wicca this morning, because I hadn't even seen it. But all of the websites I follow and Facebook pages I work with were buzzing about it, so I located the clip online and watched it a few times, so I could really be sure of what I had seen and heard. Yes, Fox News gave inaccurate information about the Pagan and Wiccan holidays, indicated that all Pagans and Wiccans practice witchcraft, and scoffed at the fact that the University of Missouri had made it part of their schedule to allow days off for Sabbats. It was unprofessional of them not to do their research and give accurate facts. However, I urge you to think about a few things. Paganism and Wicca have come a long way in terms of being publicly and federally recognized as "real" religions in the past 20 years. The public is becoming more curious and it is our duty to educate them on what being a Pagan or Wiccan really means, so that they don't continue to believe (and teach others) the old stereotypes. We do not sacrifice children or animals. We do not ALL dance naked in the pale moonlight, though some do enjoy doing so. (My neighbors would not appreciate it, I'm sure!) Not all Pagans & Wiccans practice witchcraft, and not all who claim to be witches are Pagan or Wiccan. Some people will freak out at the following statement, but I will say it anyway: There are MANY Christian witches. MANY. Now here's why you may not believe that: the common misconception about witchcraft is that it is practiced by putting hexes and curses on people and forcing people to fall in love, etc. The fact is, the majority of witchcraft consists of meditation, focusing energy, and asking the gods/goddesses to assist in directing things to go as we wish, as long as it will harm no one in the process. Other religions, including Christianity, use prayer to do the same exact thing. Christians ask Jesus or God to help them with what they want to accomplish, to direct them on their correct path in their daily life, and to heal the sick. It's important that we make this comparison known! It's the same thing, just done in a different way. This concept is exactly what I used to build the communication and conversation between myself and my own family and friends when I "came out of the broom closet" about 10 years ago. I had already been practicing in secret for 5 years, and knew that I had to tell everyone eventually, and that it may not be easy. My parents had raised my siblings and I in a Christian-based but non church-going household. We were not forced to believe anything, but both parents were raised in divisions of Christianity and so of course there was an influence of Christ in our upbringing. We were always encouraged to find our own paths in life as well as religion, and all three of us kids experiemented with several divisions of Christian churches while growing up, trying to find the right balance. I am the oldest of the three. I had "imaginary" friends as a child - I would tell people about these people in detail, including what they looked like, what kinds of cars and pets they had, and what they did for work. At the time, my parents dismissed this as most parents do, deciding it was all part of the common "imaginary friends" phase that most children go through. As I got older, the churches I would attend on my own, as well as teachers and friends would tell me that seeing people that others could not see was "wrong" and "fantasy" rather than reality. So I did my best to ignore the people I continued to see and sense around me. By the time I started high school, I started to realize that the people I was seeing were not going to go away, because they were in fact, real people. I did my best to shut myself off from seeing them, because as every teenager does, I just wanted to fit in and be "normal". After attending several churches (Lutheran, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Catholic, etc) I was left feeling confused and questioning whether or not there was something mentally wrong with me. I could not find anyone who would accept that I had some kind of ability to see and communicate with spirits, and I was tired of being told that if I didn't stop talking like that, I would be condemned to hell. That just wasn't going to work for me. I wound up at the public library, studying all forms of religion, including Buddhism, Hinduism, VooDoo, etc. All I wanted to do was find something that explained what I was going through. I read several books about mediums and white magick, and then one day in the library, a book literally fell off the shelf into my hands. I wish I could remember the title, but I know it had something to do with "A Journey Through Paganism" - I read three pages right there in the aisle, and I knew I was "home". When I finally took the plunge, years later, and told my parents about it, they had a lot of questions. I explained to them that I still beleived everything I did before, but that I had a different way of practicing that, and that I "prayed" a different way. I explained that I still believed in God, but that where there is one, there must also be a balance, so I also believed in a Goddess. After many more conversations, where we clarified and debunked those old stereotypes, my parents were supportive and encouraging to what I believe. If you are a Wiccan or a Pagan, you have undoubtably read the old rede, which includes that you should be silent of your path - meaning you should not tell anyone about your faith, so that you cannot be judged or have it held against you. I will never follow that rede again. The only way to make it known to the masses that we are real people with a real religion, and we are not a joke to be poked at or made fun of, is to be LOUD! Talk about your faith. Don't ever try to force it on anyone, and be respectful of those who decline to hear about it. We all know how it feels to have Christianity shoved down our throats at inopportune times, so be careful not to take that route. People ask me all the time, why I decided to write a book about my life (Simple! I need to help others understand that I am every bit as "normal" as they are, despite being a Pagan, a witch, and a medium!) why I make public videos answering questions about my faith, (so that people can learn the TRUTH and not rely on stereotypes!) and why I choose to run a metaphysical business in a mosty Christian town. (So that others who are still living silently can know that they are not alone out here and that it's okay to speak up - as well as because it's hard to find supplies for rituals (church-like celebrations) and spellwork (like consentrated prayer) at reasonable costs. It's unfortunate that there are so many people out there trying to take advantage of the Pagan & Wiccan community by selling supplies at outrageous costs, just to make a buck. America was founded on the principle of helping your fellow man. That's why my prices are so low. Getting the general public to understand and accept who we are and what we believe is not an easy battle, but trust me when I tell you that people WANT to know. I do a lot of craft fairs and events where I have a booth set up, with my business name proudly displayed and my products right out in the open. The response from the public is overwhelmingly good. They have so many questions, and are happy to purchase things to experiment with, and take my business card to tell a friend about me. The curiousity is there. Feed it! When I was in high school, it was still scoffed at for Jewish people to be out of school for their holidays, since the rest of us had to be there. And that wasn't very long ago! We are making progress in America to accept the beliefs of religions that are not our own, but we can't stop where we are. Be accepting and ask questions to educate yourself on faiths that you do not understand. Don't put down anyone else's beliefs just because they are not your own, and don't repeat or encourage stereotypes. If you are a parent and your child tells you that they are experimenting with alternative religions, encourage them! Learn TOGTHER! You don't have to convert, but it won't hurt you to learn what OTHERS believe! All parents want their children to be happy. If your child is happy being a Pagan or Wiccan rather than a Christian, there's nothing wrong with that. They love you, regardless of what you beleive, and you should do the same for them. The ONLY way to stop more of the nonsense that Fox News exhibited in their segment this morning from occuring is to educate others of the real facts. So no more hiding! Come out and be proud of who you are. Use your common sense on how flamboyant you should or should not be in certain circumstances. Something that has worked for me for the past 10 years of being openly Pagan, was wearing my pentacle necklace out in public. Because the pentacle and pentagram are so often assumed to be part of devil worship (which Pagans & Wiccans do not believe in, by the way!), I got asked about it quite often. I explained that it is a symbol of protection and love in the Pagan faith. This opened a dialogue of Q&A between not only friends and family, but also complete strangers. You'd be surprised how often I am complimented on it's beauty before I am asked what it means. I won't like to you and tell you that I don't still sometimes wonder if putting my "witchy" things out of sight would be smart in certain situations. A year ago, the property management company that I rent my home from sent me a letter telling me that it was time for my routine home inspection. I had a week to make sure the house was ready for them to inspect and make sure that there weren't pipes leaking under the house or any other kind of water, fire or smoke damage not visible from the outside. I had my altar set up in my formal living room - just a smal table with candles, my cauldron, and some small religious pieces. I walked by it every day that week and thought maybe I should put everything in a closet until the inspection was over. I went to my favorite Pagan community website (www.facebook.com/thepaganmama) and asked for thoughts and advice from my fellow Pagans all over the world. The majority response was that if Christians wouldn't feel the need to put away thier crosses, crucifixes, and altars, I shouldn't either. So I left it. The inspector didn't even look twice when he walked through. This year, when he came back, I had finally decorated the house fully - and believe me, there is every indication, in almost every room, that is is the home of a witch. The inspector walked through again, complimented a few of my pieces, grinned at my book collection in the hallway bookcase, and wished me well until next time. I truely believe that my being open with it, and proud of it, is what made it "no big deal" to the inspector. So trust me when I say, that the world is constantly changing, and we'll continue to become more public, more prevolent, and more understood with time. I'll leave you with that thought today, and I encourage you to ask questions, comment and discuss this post. I'll do my best to respond. To keep in touch with my daily works, you can become a fan of my facebook page here: www.facebook.com/readingsbymamaem Follow me on twitter here: @MagickByMamaEm View my webstore here: www.mamaemsworld.com and watch my videos here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0RiNRgad4PjHOjOuXHvApg Until next time, XOXO Mama Em