Friday, April 19, 2019

Philosophical and Practical, Easy Indoor Plant Care Guide. Renewal. An Ode to Plants for Health, Well Being and the Ways of Being ALIVE.

Spring is all about rejuvenation. Since my abode is home to more than 73 plants, I thought I would share a few tips for caring for them. Besides my quirky habit of singing or putting on music for my plants (yea I do that) the rest of my care tips are generally quite practical. Music influences morals, choices and why can it not influence a plant? On a Scientific level, when you sing to your plant you are releasing carbon dioxide, which it absorbs, creates photosynthesis and gives better oxygen back to you. From a mystical perspective, the vibrations of exchange, alchemy of belonging and enjoyment play a part.

14 years ago I killed every plant accidentally that entered the home. I would have been astounded and disbelieving if someone would have showed me my future self and home. Anam Cara (our home) is a dream come true for me, but, as with plants, it took learning, care, time and change to BECOME. We have had our Winters but Eostre still arrives with all it's full fertility, renewal and moveable feasts of celebration. Thus, the cycles of plant life also bring forth healing and hope. With a little help (and care guide) we can access this more easily.

1. Watering plants weekly on a set day to keep them in the "Goldilocks zone." Not too dry and not too soggy but just right is the biggest indicator on if your plant will survive. Water less in the winter. A good rule of thumb is, if the soil feels wet to the touch, leave the watering another few days and check again. In the summer the plants may need a little more water, especially those in hot, southern, facing windows. Sometimes my southern greens require a bit of an extra drink on plus 30 C days... don't we all? The symbolism is heavy with living, ethics and ethos. "When you like a flower, you pluck it, but when you love a flower, you water it daily."- Buddha

2. Add a fertilizer to the watering a few times each season. It will smell a bit earthy but it's worth it. Kind of like the smell of exertion after any worthy pursuit. It's a Stoic mentality.

3. At least twice a year gather: - Gloves - Scissors - A plastic bag - Cinnamon - Diagnostic book like "How to Not Kill Your Houseplants. (Click)" Then proceed to work through all the plants in each room of the house, looking at the leaves and soil for diagnosis. Be a Derrida. But only for a moment because it's not the healthiest long term. Deconstruct. Look for any suspicious spots, diseases or bugs. The information has helped me figure out time and again if I should save the plants or pitch them. If I could save them, I washed them off with hand soap and water, trimmed off any bad parts, and gently sprinkled cinnamon on any soil that was mouldy, sooty, or has white tufts on it. (First I remove the top of that soil and dispose of it, before adding the cinnamon.) My youngest son mentioned this process is like the "Basket of Apples Analogy" of Rene Descartes. I was impressed with his association! I wish I would have naturally thought of it!

4. Cinnamon is not just an anti fungal, virus fighting spice for humans- plants like to too. Plus, Cinnamon makes the home smell delicious bringing an Epicurean element to indoor gardening. Plants that are perfectly healthy do not need cinnamon but plants prone to wetter soil, fungus or white mossy tufts should have cinnamon applied. Large ferns tend to smell and I also use cinnamon on them a couple times a year.

The old adage "roots before branches" applies to plants, thus look for root rot (This is also where the book comes in handy.) Throw infected plants in your outdoor fire circle. Root rot is not like Persephone. It can not rise from it's underworld experience. You can't save plants that traverse this road. Root rot may also be the reason you detect a faint smell in your home on and off. When you dispose of root rot, you will begin to recognize it by smell and touch. The roots will come out of the pot slimy and thick with soggy soil and the smell will be overwhelming once out of the pot. Don't try to dry it out or re pot it. Just thank the plant for the part it played in keeping your home healthy. Socrates knew when to drink the poison instead of living an old man's exiled existence for a few bitter years longer. I prefer the analogy to be applied to plants and not people, but the example popped into my head.

5. Trim off any leaves that have black spots or are naturally falling away to make way for new growth. It's a growth mindset applied to planting. The diagnostic book cited above will help you decide whether you are wasting time trying to keep the plant or not. Some insects are easy to get rid of with a simple rinsing in the shower with cold to warm soapy water. Don't shock the plant with extreme temperatures. Try not to soak the soil. It's tricky business. With my larger plants I actually take a bowl of warm soapy water to them and wash off each leaf. This is time consuming and can be frustrating because it's tough not to get the walls or other room decor wet despite valiant efforts. I only partake in this exercise with the plants that can not be moved. Every two years is enough for me at times, because it is time consuming and does not feel very satisfying once all the work is done. I'm not that dedicated. William James wrote, "The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook." Maybe that can apply to mediocre dust too?

While plants DO collect dust, think of that dust circulating in your air and least it is stuck to the plant and the plant is still filtering and renewing the oxygen in the home. It's not Diogenes Syndrome to leave a bit of dust. That said, rewards are numerous for nurturance. (The Diogenes and Nurturance references were also additions from my 11 year old.) I have noticed my plants are perkier, seemingly sighing in relief of being less burdened, once I wash them off. I will say to my family, "They seem to be silently singing. I can FEEL the difference in them." And my children usually respond with, "We told you that instead of a crazy cat lady, you are a crazy plant lady." I treat plants like living things because they technically are. I am astounded at their innate abilities. For instance, the crawling vines of a Sweetheart Plant can sense directions to go in the room where they will be supported. They literally reach out for shelves. I have found branches twining around books or inside of frames or sticking into wooden ceiling beams. I am in awe of their intelligence, ingenuity and creative BEING. That said, they do appreciate direction, places to crawl up or harnesses to grow them in the direction that is wished. My youngest, who in his own right, is a little Philosopher, also added to this paragraph by saying, "That is like the Reach of Thought, ya know? Reaching for stabilized answers in the abstract." My jaw dropped. I admit I had to look up Reach of Thought again. Those were his exact words...Yea, he is Eleven! His favourite topic is Philosophy and he astounds me with his daily Philosophical admonitions and additions to our lives.

6. Dispose of trimmings in a plastic bag and seal up tightly to dispose of separately in your waste basket. OR burn them immediately. DO NOT expose them to your other plants (indoor or outdoor.) Wash your hands between different species of plants or infected ones plus your tools (like scissors), wash the pots with hot soapy water that had infected plants and do not just throw the discarded, diseased pieces outside because they can affect your outdoor plants too depending. It's good physical practice to symbolize emotional boundaries. At least, that is what I do, so that the whole process doesn't depress me too much. Everything has it's season. "In the depth of winter, I finally learned in me that there was an invincible summer."- Albert Camus

7. Transplant any house plants that need more potting room once a year. Wear gloves if you have allergies or are working with poisonous plants or disease. Just wash off with soapy water or change them between plantings. Mini roses that may seem dead can often thrive once they are transplanted outside. It is worth a shot. "An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."- Friedrich Engels. We had four plants that we thought were completely dead but they grew into lovely blooms during the Summer outside. Rebirth. Replanting. Sometimes we just need a new place to become. Roses are also prone to spider mites. They also tend to die due to disease from the store. If the plant even has one minor yellow spot on the leaves it means it will be fully "dried up" from disease within a few days to weeks. Which is not your fault. The plant already was contaminated. Most of our roses that have survived have been in the southern facing windows or down in the basement which has lots of natural sunlight.

8. The best time to trim back indoor plants is also in the Spring and Autumn. Even if they live indoors they still have their own inner timetable. Plants have the ability to sense their seasons. A Kant Intuitive process people would also be wise to contemplate.

9. Certain species are more prone to spider mites or diseases. If you have a tough time keeping a plant alive, avoid that species and pick something resilient. Usually the more poisonous plants are resilient. If you don't have pets or kids who eat plants, the toxic ones are great at cleaning the air. Peace Lilies are one of my favourite toxic plants. They can grow large, beautifully purify and I love their name ... The peace factor has a bit of a boundary and shouldn't be consumed. It has self protection embedded in it's leaves...I feel that says something about Peace... "The question is not 'Can they Reason' nor 'Can they talk?' but 'Can they suffer?"- Jeremy Bentham.

10. Enjoy the process. The rule of magic and home decor also applies to plants. The Rule of Three. Plants actually feed off each other's oxygen and tend to live longer if they are near another plant. If your plant keeps dying it may simply just need some company nearby...that is, if you have watered it properly and placed it in the right spot. As Socrates asked his student, "Is it True? Is it Good? Is it Useful?" Apply that to plants...Are they watered true? Are they in a good spot? Are they feeling useful interacting with other species?

Also, since we are on the topic...the Meme below is how I feel about people who spray their yards and dandelions. Not only for what deterioration the sprays add to my autoimmune diseases (and then I have to keep my windows shut on gorgeous days!) and the ill health effects studied and proven, but for what they also do to the surrounding environment and Bees. Every year my husband has to stop me from writing in to our local paper (and having my neighbours hate me even more and brand me more of a Witch) to give all the research, facts and alternatives to spray. I will admit to enraged rants at least once every spring which is probably why my family says I share a scary resemblance to the picture below. In this regard, I am a Cynic philosopher believing that one should live a life of virtue in agreement with nature... not conspiring against it with deliberate poisons. 

If you can't already tell, I do view my plants like philosophical friends. They teach me about patience, gentleness, quality care and the importance of BEING. Plants support my health, provide me with fresh air and perspectives, and give beauty while providing solitude and privacy. Recently a UPS delivery guy caught a glimpse of inside our entryway and gasped, "Your home! It is SO ALIVE."

I loved that phrase. Our home is alive...even though it is comprised of a bunch of books, decor, colour and plants...but wait...colour IS alive. It brings out emotion. Books ARE alive with ideas, alternative lives to live, and stories to BECOME. Decor is alive with design, desires, and expression. Plants have minds of their own in the sense that they behave in certain ways. I once read that the definition of having a mind is to be able to represent the world in a certain capacity. I have seen the sophistication of plant "behaviour" in many ways. As Baruch Spinoza writes, "Being is to persevere in it's Being."

I am always sad when my plants die. That said, it's easy to move on and replace them in some capacities, and plant complexity has not been studied by me...yet. It is something on my "to do list" of reading. Until then, I can say that regardless, indoor plants add an "aliveness" to my life that is worth taking care of. I like to cultivate an aesthetic attitude to what is surrounding me. To dignify with duty, beauty and care...

Here is to Radiant Dawn, Green Life, and the Up- Springing of Light!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Personality: "Goddesses in EveryWoman Archetypes." Myth, Gloria Steinem, Typology, Greek Myths, Christianity, Hestia and Aphrodite

Eros and Psyche (artist on bottom corner)

Jean Bolen, MD, is a Psychiatrist and Jungian Typologist, who wrote the book, "Goddesses In Every Woman- Powerful Archetypes In Women's Lives." (CLICK) In the updated introduction of the book, Gloria Steinem wrote; "The Authors sensitive analysis of archetypes takes them out of their patriarchal framework of simple exploits and gives them back to us as a larger than life but believable real women. From now on, for instance, when I am longing for one of those magical spontaneous conversations in which the whole becomes far more than the sum of its parts, within each person improvising as in music, I might hit on one of the qualities of Aphrodite. When I need to retreat to the hearth and contemplation, Hestia could lead the way. When I lack the courage to face conflict on behalf of myself or other women, Artemis is a good woman to remember. It no longer matters which comes first, the reality or the imagining of reality. As Jean Houston writes in the Possible Human, 'I have always thought of myth as something that never was but is always happening.' As we lead ourselves out of unequal societies, gods and goddesses may become one and the same. In the meantime, this book offers us new paths to take, new was to see and to become. You may find a myth that will evoke reality in you."

Our family is obsessed with Greek Myths, because most of Classic Literature, Fairytales and Stories in culture find their rooting in the standard Myth Archetypes. Once myth becomes familiar, one can see the patterns over and over again in many life situations. Great literature can be traced back to Western Tradition and Myth. As a fun series, our family also adores Rick Riordan's modern 'Percy Jackson' twists on myth. The Archetypes invoke important lessons and deep thought.

Eros and Psyche Statue

One of my favourite myths is of Eros and Psyche and her four symbolic tests. My favourite Greek Goddesses in the past have been Hestia and Athena, although all the mythical Gods/ Goddesses have lessons to take from. Thus, I was excited about Bolens' book. I found it a little dry in parts, so I skimmed each chapter, looking for my primary type, however, each section had intriguing information. I would recommend the read for anyone interested in Personality Study.

The general theory is that each of us have a little of all the Archetypes, but have primarily one or two that rule our dominant personality. Once we are familiar with them, we can then try to rebalance ourselves when we need to. Speaking as a woman, this applies to me in roles of motherhood, marriage or career. As with any personality typing, it is a tool, to be used, to discover and ponder more depths in the psyche of self.

I was surprised that my primary archetype was NOT at all what I thought it would be. Usually I can accurately predict my results for personality tests. I flipped through the book and began with whom I thought I would be (Hestia.) While I could relate to aspects, her description did not fully encapsulate whom I am. Especially the part that said she wasn't a strong personality presence. Next, I searched the Athena chapter and again, her type would probably be along with Hestia in a secondary position, but there were no "Ah ha!" moments. Next, I searched Demeter, Hera (although there were aspects of her that seemed to work too), Persephone and Artemis...and all of them were not my primary driver. There was only one left, and I was getting frustrated. I sighed aloud to my husband, "I guess I finally have found a typing system I do not come out strongly in. There is NO WAY I will be this last one. It's Aphrodite."

My husband snorted, "Are you kidding me? Anyone who closely knows you would pick Aphrodite as your primary goddess. I could have saved you a lot of work as that would have been my first choice for you."

I was appalled. I guess I am a little biased about Aphrodite because of how she is always depicted in media, either naked, shallow ish, insanely curvy, and devious. However, as I read the chapter I pretty much held my breath at each paragraph. Because it was eerily accurate. And I was wrong about Aphrodite. I also grew up in a Christian setting and Aphrodite types are NOT encouraged, so part of my qualm was my internal judging belief system.

Aphrodite Statue

I couldn't fully relate to any of the Virgin or the Vulnerable goddesses. Aphrodite is the only Alchemical Goddess. She does not belong in either group. She has similarities but was not victimized and she valued emotional experience with others more than independence.

"Aphrodite seeks to consummate relationships and generate new life. This archetype may be expressed through physical intercourse or through a creative process. What she seeks differs from what the virgin goddesses seek, but she is like them in being able to focus on what is personally meaningful to her; others cannot divert her away from her goal. And in that what she values is solely subjective and cannot be measured in terms of achievement or recognitions. Aphrodite is (paradoxically) most similar to anonymous, Introverted Hestia- who on the surface is the goddess most unlike Aphrodite."- Jean Bolen

Hestia is my favourite mythical goddess - we have a symbol of her in our home (pictured above) even though she never had any tributes in her likeness. The hearth stood for her because she was considered the guardian of hearth and home. She symbolizes the importance of HOME. When I read the paragraph above I finally realized why I am drawn to Hestia. She suits my Introversion and focus on Hearth, unlike Aphrodite who seems Extroverted thus why I also mistyped myself. Although perhaps my Aphrodite result is why I can come across even more Extroverted than INFJ's can typically come across? Because of my strong, inner Aphrodite, maybe I seem more extroverted even though I am the Introverted of Introverts? I do enjoy people, connections and some sensory aspects of life. I could see how this could get confusing.

I was born to create. I can not handle stale moments in life where creativity is squelched. I am constantly painting my home, re decorating, writing, learning a new skill, connecting, researching, making, and creating, creating, creating. This last year I confused my desire to have more babies with the inner need to create. I am also a sensual being, despite the fact that Sensory as an INFJ/ Autistic spells trouble for me often. And perhaps this attribute FINALLY explains why I differ from most INFJs and Autistics a bit more in this regard. There is an aspect of sensuality I need to thrive. I also do not need to do any of these pursuits for recognition. Most people do not even see what I create on a daily basis. It is not about achievement for me either. For me it is the process. (A good book on this topic would be 'Time to Make' by Ginger Hendrix CLICK.)

"When Aphrodite influences a relationship, her effect is not limited to the romantic or the sexual. Platonic love, soul connection, deep friendship, rapport, and empathic understanding are all expressions of love. Whenever growth is generated, a vision supported, potential developed, a spark of creativity encouraged- as can happen in mentoring, counselling, parenting, directing, teaching, editing, and doing psychotherapy and analysis- then Aphrodite is there, affecting both people involved."- Jean Bolen

That paragraph invoked an enthusiastic, "Yes!" To which my husband asked curiously, "What?" I read out loud again, excitedly adding, "She just summed up everything I love in a nutshell!" Amused he smiled, "I still am blown away that you did not consider Aphrodite. Think of all your blog posts and conversations- what is always the focus? Love, Beauty, Creativity and Understanding. And for outer aspects, Honey, look at all the pictures on the side of your blog. You are comfortable with sensuality."

I gaped at him and adamantly replied, "Those are TAME compared to what I could do or what is found all over the net. Besides the goal for those pictures is to express an inner part of myself I can not normally express. It is about finding the right angle and feeling pretty from a certain lens. I often say that I can't live up to some of my own pictures! You know that!"

He replied, "Even without make up and angles I am drawn to you, but besides that point, you do give off a comfortability within the sensual. You are ok with proper expressions of beauty. You dislike it when they are distorted with porn or negatively used. You are most appalled at sexual violence, not just from an ordinary lens, but because to you, sexuality mimics compassionate passion and a lust for all of LIFE. To disuse it, to you, is ultimately profane and enrages you more than most. You like to focus on emotional COMBINED with intellectual. You are, above all, focused on pathways to the heart. Of course you are my Aphrodite. I am shocked that you are shocked at this. Also look at your home, Love! That statue you have treasured for over a decade? It's one of your favourite aspects in our home and I've always thought she symbolized both you and Aphrodite." (Pictured below.)

I also mistakenly believed that one had to be "Marilyn Monroe pretty" to be Aphrodite. I have an odd face. I can be striking with the right lighting, make up and photo angle, but in every day conversation, my big face, huge smile and interesting features would not be called gorgeous. I thought there would be NO WAY I would be an Aphrodite and I was pompous if I even considered it. Another misconception. "...The Aphrodite archetype creates a personal charisma- a magnetism or electricity- that combined with physical attributes, makes a woman an 'Aphrodite.'  When Aphrodite is an active part of a plain woman, the woman does not draw men to her from across the room...Those who come close, however, find her engaging and charming (when she wants to be or is interested.) Many rather ordinary looking women with Aphrodite qualities attract others with the magnetic warmth of their personalities and their natural, unselfconscious sensuality."

Another aspect of Aphrodite is her innocence and joy within her relationship to children. Pictured above "Aphrodite women like children and vice versa."- Jean Bolen. Aphrodite types can draw out good behaviour with charm. That explains most of my life. Children generally like me and even the most misbehaved children tend to mind themselves when they are with me. My children have also remarked that I bring sunshine (if I am in the mood to do so) and they adore my charisma. Charisma is actually a nickname I was given by several acquaintances. My mother once remarked, "Your children clearly adore you. Not just LOVE but are dedicated and adore you and forgive you all ills." The paragraph above finally described why. On a side note- this does not sit well with a few people in my circles. Once it was insinuated I manipulated my children into being so dedicated and loving me and I was devastated. I cried, questioned myself, had conversations with my husband and carefully listened to my children's feedback with every interaction I had. My husband eventually comforted with, "Babe, they are jealous. They can not understand how easily it comes to you so they think it is manipulative. Just be yourself. Be You. Don't worry about what they say. Your due justice will be yours and theirs will be theirs." It was good advice and since then I have decided not to hide the fact that my children adore me and that I adore them. I used to downplay it a bit but have decided to try to just LIVE it instead.

Statue of Lady Justice (whom I also LOVE)

In all honesty, I was hoping to get Athena first as my result, it seems less...patriarchal? Sensual? Wrong? "When sensuality and sexuality in women are degraded- as in Judeo- Christian, Moslem and other patriarchal cultures, the woman who embodies Aphrodite as the lover is considered a temptress or whore. Thus, this archetype, if expressed, can put the woman at odds with standards of morality. Aphrodite women may be ostracized."- Jean Bolen.

I was censored a lot growing up. I often would be found kneeling on the ground for the male teachers in school to measure my skirt length from my knee. Yes, this was a practice. I would often be sent home because my outfits were too tight. Honestly, I was not sexually active and wished to save myself for the ultimate love of my life. Nor was I trying to be a temptress in theory. Not only did I have some naiveté, but I was actually just expressing myself in a way that felt natural to me. It was more about me, than others. I liked lovely outfits and I preferred the way Marilyn Monroe walked so I modelled my walk after her. It wasn't so much about attention as it was expression, freedom, autonomy, and an inward need to express outward.

Over time, some of this aspect in myself became stifled. I could relate to the paragraphs about parents and Aphrodite daughters, along with the relationships with women. I had very strong relationships with some people, while others seemed to hate me right off the bat. Apparently this is common, especially with anyone who is uncomfortable or opposed to expressions of sensuality ( however tame.) Marriage is sacred to me (perhaps my inner Hera?) and I have luckily found my match, so I would not be as prone to wander as most Aphrodite's are, but I DO like to explore general relationships. I like to deepen them and then allow them distance fairly easily.

I also tend to have a brand of feminism that doesn't appeal to most feminists. Because I still like to validate men, make them feel worthy...I feel this way about BOTH female and male. However, I am also against the patriarchy. "Aphrodite’s wound: Patriarchy, threatened by her ‘power’ over men, have attempted in every way to restrict, confine, label and demote her from her Queenly position. Furthermore, Aphrodite and Demeter were not allowed to co-mingle in the patriarchal order (in other words, whore and wife had to be kept separate). Aphrodite also experiences alienation from the other goddesses. Media exploitation of Aphrodite’s sacred image--and the resulting schizophrenic urges to both deny [censorship] sensual beauty & pleasure while crudely lusting [graphically degrading pornography], alienation from the body, and a deep fear of intimacy [virtual- reality sex on the Internet/telephone sex]. As a result of advertising, mainstream women feel incapable of ‘measuring up’ to the image of feminine beauty; while men compare the appearance of the available woman in their midst to the suggested glamorized image of beauty sold to them by the media. The psychological consequences of denying Aphrodite any real place in the culture lead to: vilifying her image and then substituting the Virgin Mary for worship; replacing the ‘flesh-and-blood’ woman who possesses a body with the worship of a ‘Virgin’ mother, cut off from physical love; paranoia of witches and subsequent, systematic massacring of mature, independent, autonomous women followed, as a result." ( Found HERE.)

Yes, my aversions are rooted strongly in the paragraph above. Autonomy, interaction, beauty, consummation of the physical or creativity are all worthy pursuits in life and should not be desecrated. My wound definitely is described in that paragraph.

Aphrodite (artist unknown)

I love to indulge my children, as Aphrodite mothers are prone to do. I also enjoy buying beautiful things, sometimes not within our means, another Achilles heal of Aphrodite. Both the pitfalls and the strengths were relatable. The only exception was extreme Extroversion, but in every other type I am an Introvert and aptly so. Oh and of course, I cannot relate to being "the other woman" due to my serious levels of commitment and finding the love of my life at age 17. So there is also that.

The Labours of Psyche by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope 1873

My other misconception was that Aphrodite was not wise. She is relational- she brings people together with a focus on love. But now I ask myself, 'How is that not wise?' Not only that, but Aphrodite gave Psyche her four challenges to keep Eros, and those challenges symbolically were steeped in wisdom. Task One was sorting the seeds which represents "an inward task, requiring that a woman look honestly within, sift through her feelings, values, and motives and separate what is truly important from what is insignificant."- Jean Bolen. Task Two was Acquiring the Golden Fleece "without destroying Psyche was a metaphor for the task of gaining power and remaining a compassionate person."- Jean Bolen. Task Three Filling the Crystal Flask represents the "circular flow of life" and also the power of perspective. Task Four was Learning to Say No. "until a woman can say no to her particular susceptibility, she cannot determine her own life course. Through the four tasks, Psyche evolves. She develops capabilities and strengths as her courage and determination are tested, Yet, despite all she acquires, her basic nature and priorities remain unchanged; she values a love relationship, risks everything for it, and wins."- Jean Bolen

My husband is my Eros. I value our love relationship and risk all for it. And thus far, I have won. Probably why the Psyche tale is one of my favourites, along with Hestia's concept of Hearth and Home. I think I have an Aphrodite followed by a Hestia/ Athena/Hera combo. (See HERE for a briefing on all the types.) Aphrodite gives a few more happier endings than most of the other God myths, although she has her fair share of distressing tales, and I enjoy a happy love story.

"What happens at the end of myth? Eros and Psyche are reunited, their marriage is honoured on Mount Olympus and Psyche bears a daughter named Joy...note that after proving her courage and competency, the heroine does not go riding off into the sunset by herself, like the archetypal cowboy hero. Nor is she cast into the mold of the conquering hero. Union, reunion and home are where her journey ends."- Jean Bolen.  I think it is perfection that the daughter is named Joy. Because I sincerely find that relationships rooted in love bring the utmost joy to life.

I also love that at the end of each journey, Hestia and Home awaits. "The individuation of journey- the psychological quest for wholeness- ends in the union of opposites; the inner marriage of "masculine" and "feminine" aspects of personality....said more abstractly and without assigning gender, the journey toward wholeness results in having the ability to be both active and receptive, autonomous and intimate, to work and to Love..."- Jean Bolen.

What a beautiful balance to be in life! My life is all I have to give and within that, I will DARE to live, until the very last. Giving something of myself while also celebrating and honouring self. At my core I believe in beauty, creating, love and understanding. In the end, I come back to my home, to my ordinary, even during or after the struggles, and that I also value and infuse with these characteristics.

"All seem rather unspectacular endings- paralleling real life...the heroine who fended off hostile attacks, reclaimed her power, and struggled with goddesses, may seem similarly ordinary at peace with herself. Like the hobbit at home in the shire, however, she does not know if or when a new adventure that will test her well being or announce itself."- Jean Bolen

I am now willing to add Aphrodite to my Personality/ Typology results. I was resistant and came in with my own judgements, but I am getting used to the idea. I am still taken back at how strongly she describes me, and my husband is still shocked that I was surprised. I'm surprised I was taken by surprise within my own persona! But this understanding adds another layer to how I can be my best self in the world we both create and find ourselves in. New adventures will arrive to test my character. But during the calm I hope to continue to embrace the love of life and the life of home.

* ALL quotes taken from the Introduction and End chapters of  "Goddesses in Everywoman. Powerful Archetypes In Women's Lives" by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD. CLICK HERE. I HIGHLY recommend this book to browse for your own type and see patterns, downsides and positives, to add to the complex picture that is YOU.

Song Choice 1: Back In November, way before I discovered Aphrodite, my insightful friend Glynis wrote this to me when I was struggling with the baby conundrum: "Even thinking about having a baby caused this to happen to your physical body: of swords, grief, and internal battle, the need to defend itself ( autoimmune problems.)Your body was giving hints that it wasn't willing to go that route. And so it turned on you because what it wanted was a creative expression but did not want to go through the physical aspects of being pregnant and going through hormonal changes, and the postpartum period which would have left your mind still wanting to create because if the root of the issue was creation, and the wrong route for you would have been taken, there would have been a setback and possibly would have meant strife within the family, as well as your body itself as it tried to externalize what you were internalizing. Your soul is asking you to listen for a muse. She is saying, you have work to do. Commit to that work. Commit to bringing more and more creativity into your life, give birth to your ideas because they start as seeds but if they are not fed and watered then they will shrivel up and die. Commit to being creative in ways that are unique to you and to what will feed you and when you notice changes in your body, any sign of the five of swords, you'll know it's not time for that idea, or that it's the wrong idea, completely. To have faith in your skills. It says to believe in yourself, in your dreams, in whatever work you decide to do in the creative realm. The root of the matter is and what can you do: Dare to dream, dare to create. Dare to follow your heart not only in your mind, but in your actions.  You have been called to do these things by your very own soul. And of course it is daring to dream and daring to create and about being brave in following your heart, I'm including a song you know well. Dare to Live by Andrea Pocelli and Laura Pausini" Glynis' wisdom, along with the rest of her words I did not include, had me crying with the accuracy. I still wasn't ready to activate the truth and longed for a baby in the meantime, but now I see clearly why I needed her voice. Her wisdom gave me patience and hope. And it ties into this post.

Song Choice 2: There are many songs I could choose for this post but I could NOT stop humming this song as I was writing. High Above Me- Everclear n ( I did spend some of my teenhood in the nineties after all!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Four Things I Do When My Life Falls Apart; Grieving, Gratitude, Chapter Endings, Glee and Music.

"There are three things I do when my life falls apart. Number one I cry my eyes out and dry up my heart. Not until I do this will my new life start. So that's the first thing I do when my life falls apart."- Jason Mraz

1. Grieving for people, places, dreams, or lost possibilities demands a certain level of acknowledgement in the form of tears at some point. Some of us cry more than others, but until we can actually have a moment to leak our loss out of our body, we have not fully dried up our heart of it's weeping wound. I don't cry the first few days of loss usually. If I do it's later than most and in weird spurts. However, on and off for a few weeks after an event, I allow myself moments to be triggered to cry. I listen to songs that will help bring them on so that I can cry out the pain and leave that empty space open for new emotions. Enneagram type 4's are especially gifted in acknowledging "darker emotions." It is said that our dark linings are often the happier emotions for other types ( joy, comfortability ect.) and we are comfortable with expressions of grief, anger, sadness ect. Perhaps that is why point two comes fairly easily to me?

"The second thing I do is I close both of my eyes and say my thanks you's to each and every moment of my life. I go where I know the love is and let it fill me up inside. Gathering my strength from sorrow- I'm glad to be alive. Things are looking up. I know above the clouds the sun is shinning. Things are looking up. Love is still the answer I'm relying on..."- Jason Mraz

2.  The lyrics from the song above "3 Things" By Jason Mraz is so on point. After I have cried, a crucial step for moving onward is to be grateful. To try to see all the thank you moments beyond any negative or anger or loss. Because that love can fill up where the tears were. Go where the love is- because surprisingly love is often around you in hidden or obvious places, or maybe love is on the way. I truly do gather strength from sorrow and it always makes me glad that at least I am alive to feel this moment too. Love is the answer I rely on, and when love is there, life can be viewed through the sunshine lens of full support.

"The third thing that I do now when my world caves in, is I pause I take a breath, and bow, and I let the chapter end. I design my future bright, not by where my life has been, and I try, try, try again. Yes I try, try, try, I try again."- Jason Mraz

3. This is an important part. To PAUSE. To bow towards the audience for the last curtain call and see the chapter as only part of the story. To realize that once you walk off that stage, a new beginning is waiting. And that the future does not have to be based on the past at all. While the past influences where we are and helps build a foundation, those who remain stuck within their bitterness or "should be's" can not BECOME. We must try again. We must go onward. We must forget to a point. Enough to move forward without dark roots. We must forgive and also see the beauty. To breathe in what was, and to acknowledge and breathe it out. We are so much more than our past and once we have been grateful for it in point two and savoured what we had, it's time to take that final bow.

Even in the small events; like when my grandmother whom resembles most of my childhood concept of HOME, comes to visit and I have to say goodbye at the end. Each time it is painful. She is the only person who can illicit public tears from me and whom I get choked up saying goodbye to. That has been constant since childhood. Each time I PAUSE and honour the chapter she just played in. Because she is HOME in many ways, I have to remember that I carry her onward, into my own becoming. Her INTJ persona fits so nicely with my INFJ and we share quirks. My husband often says I will be a version of her when I am older and he is so honoured to hopefully witness that (I think his words were "Can't wait" as he adores her...but I can wait because each moment is precious with her in it too.) Each bow, and end of chapters of life can feel frequent, in large events and small, and to be aware of this, honour, and breathe them in, is a gift.

"I know behind the dark the sun is is still the answer I'm relying on."- Jason Mraz

The fourth thing that I do is listen to the lyrics of songs and go back to Glee, to remind me of whom I am and how to be ME. "We feel, we hear, your pain, your fear. But we're here to say. Who you are- Is OK. And you don't have to go through this on your own. You're not alone. You have more friends than you know. Some who surround you. Some you are destined to meet. You'll have more love in your life. Don't let go. Take your time. Take it slow. Those who love you the most may need more time to grow. It's gonna be OK. You have more friends than you know." -Glee

4. Glee is my strength when I am weak and often my voice when I can't speak. I honestly count some of the songs, episodes and characters of Glee as part of my life story. Because various episodes of Glee shaped me that much and make me feel things that I don't often feel anywhere else. I probably grieved more when Glee ended than most of my life relationships- because it was a PART of ME. It expressed so much of my soul, that as an Autistic person, was not easily expressed otherwise. I often felt the writers knew me, my brain and all my interests. It intrinsically became me. Music and lyrics have always been part of the way the Universe speaks to me and loves me and how I express love. As an INFJ music IS language, but being Autistic gives that fact another level...and Enneagram 4's also tend to speak through music- so thus Glee was an excellent fit for me.

At the end of the day, I have to know I am loved by ME. That no matter where I go in life, or with whom, how I conduct myself, and BE in the world, defines me. That is where the love is. And if I have that, I will always have pieces of love surrounding. And that is a beautiful concept. A beautiful mess of BEING.

"Be brave. Be strong. You are loved. YOU BELONG. Some day soon, you will see, you're exactly who you're supposed to be. And you don't have to go through this on your own. You're NOT alone. You have more friends than you know. Some who surround you. Some you are destined to meet. You have more love in your life. Don't let go. Give it time. Take it slow. Those who love you the most may need more time to grow. It's going to be ok. You have more friends than you know."- Glee

"Be who you are. Learn to forgive. It's not about who you love but how you live."- Glee

It's not only about whom you love. Life is also about how you love. And if you bear the how, you can bear almost any why. I have been emptied and filled up again. Life is breathing in fresh air. I am finding that whom I am, attracts love, life, and gifts of belonging. Whom I am also begets struggle, normal life consequences, beginnings and ends...but within that, I know, even in solitary states, I am not alone. I have more friends than I know, some surrounding me and some in my destiny. I also have my own friendship within myself.

My husband brought me home another gift yesterday with the words, "I saw this necklace and it was you- so witchy, so deep green reminding me of your magic within. I want you to know I am your best friend and you are worth SO much." Another friend heard that and said, "What a kind gift and such a YOU gift." When our souls are validated and SEEN, it's also another bonus in life.

Things are looking up. "Be Brave. Be strong. You are Loved. You Belong. Someday soon, you will see, you're exactly who you're supposed to be..."- Glee**

Song Choice: 3 Things- Jason Mraz

** You Have More Friends Than You Know- Glee

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Are Those the People Who Feed You? Called to Question Gatherings. Home Tours and The Beauty of Sharing.

We host a gathering in our home on and off to which we bring speakers to a small community. We pay the fuel but ask they speak for free if it is a topic they are passionate about, with a question and answer at the end. We have had a variety of speakers, some whom are in demand, yet are humble enough to come out and speak to a gathering of about ten to eighteen people of varied opinions and religious backgrounds. It's been encouraging to see the capability and willingness to share stories from the human collective. Recently we had a University Psychologist who offered to come back for a fourth time because he enjoyed it so much. We joked that he just liked studying us and our home!

We got on the topic of why he chose to accept an invite from a stranger and he replied, "It was an intriguing idea. Even in my home in the Netherlands this is an unusual idea that is not often given. Especially that you are open to all topics and it's not tied to a religious or anti religious agenda. I thought, why not? Then I came and your home is so welcoming and unusual, the people are all unique in that they are so different in belief but respectful in approach, and I enjoyed sharing with people who were interested."

His travelling buddy added, "My friends in Europe now know about your home on google maps and when I found out he was speaking for a third time, I got so excited to come back here! It's such a refreshing place of strangers connecting and understanding in a setting that is unusual and welcoming. I want to take pictures of your house and send them into a magazine. I do photography and can assure you there is not a lot seen like your home. And your concept of being called to question ideas, possibilities and make room to share stories in a safe place is fantastic. In fact, I think I want to start groups like this when I settle down and my friends in Europe were interested in the idea too."

We joked back, "Hey, we can be our own cult of franchises!" We were kidding because one of the topics was cults and thus the joke. The gathering is about freedom and sharing ideas in a safe place from any belief system.

We asked the professor if anyone else in his department would be interested in speaking. He replied, "Actually I have spoken to many of my colleagues about this. I find it funny because a few people have asked me, 'Are those the people who feed you? I think we have heard of that!' "

We laughed. I'll explain why... We offer paltry snacks and some wine. In our email invite we DO offer a cooked meal. But most of our speakers do not take us up on that naturally. I wouldn't if the tables were reversed. It's a brave act to eat at a stranger's speak at one too. However, another professor of Philosophy at the same University had spoken three years ago and ate supper with us and a guest. Word spread.

My husband and I think that it is ironic that we are known as the "people who feed others" because on a daily level at home, we struggle to feed our own family due to our issues with food. We dislike sharing meals at other people's homes unless it is our parents (and even then we sometimes prefer to eat our own stuff if we are on another frequent elimination diet) and we also rarely feed meals to others. All of our meals are home cooked and my husband could have been a Chef - if I do say so myself. He makes all of our sustenance and is required to feed our autistic guts (which are more sensitive.) All in all, our food is often delicious and nutritious but still a struggle daily to figure out! We do, however, provide snacks, wine and coffee often. It is easier for us.

So to be known as "the people who feed you" is astounding. But then I stepped back from the literal statement and realized, "Actually we do feed minds, feed souls, feed the hunger of loneliness and the hunger for knowledge. These gatherings feed love, sharing and understanding. They feed a need for discussion and dialogue within places of unique healing and facilitating. We DO feed people."

My husband came up with the idea of "Called to Question" more than seven years ago. He wrote an article to the paper as an invite. Honestly, some family members gave him flack for that, but it was one of the bravest decisions he made. And since then we have hosted many years of speakers. Each time we usually have one new face, a few regulars, and then an ebb and flow of attendees. But ALWAYS, even if they never attend again, we get profuse thank you's. We have had a range of belief systems. Once we had a Mennonite in attendance (whom had to attend in secret) and our speaker was Nathan Phelps, an Atheist and estranged son of Fred Phelps (the fundamentalist who picketed) who talked about Gay rights. What struck us was that afterwards our Mennonite guest confided, "I didn't know atheists could be kind. He was one of the most thoughtful people I have met, so gentle mannered, so forgiving, so full of intelligence. I was taught that Atheists could not be like that. I have never met an atheist and hearing him speak and share his story has given me a lot to think about." THAT is what it is all about for us. People being able to hear completely opposite thoughts of their own or stories that they wouldn't naturally hear from another human being offline. It's important because it is in person, with tone, inflection and facial expressions to show the range of feeling, human kindness, and beauty.

We have had speakers who are fundamentalist Christian too, but have been kind, willing to dialogue and are able to hold a conversation without anger, but still present their perspectives. We feel showing a range of topics and not limiting to topics we affiliate with, is important. In fact, most of the speakers do not represent what we believe, although there may be facets. Most of the questions stay on topic, even if they do stray to personal beliefs at times, my husband is amazing at keeping things on point if the speaker is less gifted in that area. Although most of our speakers are gifted in neutralizing, staying on topic or bringing it back around, and giving people a listening ear. It's mostly about respect. It's kind of like a home based Ted Talk with feedback at the end and a little conversation, wine and possibly a home tour!

Our home tours are often an event. We are used to them because my grandmother and her friends are proud of our home so over the years we have been asked to give tours to virtual strangers or relatives we don't really know. There is the odd time I say no because I am not comfortable, but generally our home tours are an actual thing. It's kind of odd but also satisfying. I LOVE the reactions. Often we naturally ask if a person wants a tour the first time they walk in. Seeing our entryway they are already curious and usually respond with a resounding yes! Although sometimes they look weirded out but that soon turns into astounded curiosity. It's rare we don't get some sort of reaction because we took a normal, boring bi level that looks perfectly small and ordinary from the outside and maximized it's space and made it creative. Some of the statements that have stuck with me are:

"You're home is so ALIVE." That one was from a Fed Ex agent who happened to glance inside the entry. His eyes widened and he out blurted my favourite exclamation of all. 'ALIVE' - I love that sentiment. I wish that a home being alive would be the usual not the abnormal.

"From the outside it looks smaller than what fits inside. You use every bit of space well. " (I particularly liked that one because the guy was a Realtor and he was astounded at our space planning.)

"Are you an Architect and Designer? Your husband is a very talented carpenter. But who came up with the planning of design, colour and the spacing?" Design was a hobby of mine when we knew we were going to make a basement and tear out rooms upstairs to make a sun room/rec library. I studied Sarah Susanka's 'The Not So Big House' series for years pre internet. (Well, there was Internet but we didn't have it in our home yet.) When I put my mind to something I am passionate about I take it to University level learning at home. I seek out peer reviewed resources and become a 'layman version' of the profession. Thus, I have had 3 designers in my home, one painter, and one architect. ALL of them noticed certain features and thought I had gone to school to plan this. I cherish the compliments because they show two things: You don't have to attend school to be good at something. And chances are, that if you just try in life, try to make, because our souls are MEANT to MAKE and create, the pay offs can be large. I am very different from an official designer. I am too lax and don't apply most rules. Plus, it's not as much of an obsession anymore and has been downgraded to a hobby. In another life, I think I may have gone into Architectural design. I LOVED planning out a home. Sometimes I make new home Reno plans just for fun. I adore Renos. Unfortunately I am not talented like my husband in actually drawing plans and doing the math nor ambitious enough to put the time in to learn it, but I like drawing crappy plans and having him know what I mean and he makes it come fully alive on paper.

I loved learning about lighting, how to raise a ceiling, where to place windows and light fixtures. I am still annoyed at a few mistakes the original top floor came with, as well as a few I made during the Reno phase, but in general I am happy with it overall.

"Your husband should be in high demand for Carpentry. He could make a killing in the city doing the detailed work or fireplaces or ... ect. ect." Honestly, he would hate that. He had a hard enough time on our home and he prefers loads of space and time to make mistakes. He IS talented. He prefers giving his time to home. We have heard statements like, "You could be so much more." Or some such nonsense. We already ARE.

"Home design is a trend but you take it to the next level in a homey way. Yours is quirky yet classy. How can those two concepts even work together? But it does."

"You could be featured in a magazine. It is such a different approach to home living!"

"I feel at home here. Like I wouldn't make my home like this but I feel welcomed. I almost feel that love and feel like I can be fully comfortable." (We get that statement almost every time.)

"You have created something unique here. I could spend hours looking at all the stuff."

"It looks like Pier One exploded." Ha ha. I'm a Maximalist not a Minimalist...and hated the minimalist movement for myself, although at other's homes, if they love it - I love it. But I find that an empty space is aching to be filled.

"How many hours do you spend dusting and watering plants?" We get this statement a lot too. The answer is half an hour weekly for plants and half an hour each, for a family of five, dividing the house for dusting.

"How is it possible to have all seasons in your home? Yet somehow it works? I see Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter decor along with some of the larger holiday themes. It should feel weird. It should feel wrong, but it's cohesive. It's oddly satisfying."

"I would love to stay here. It feels like a resort. Like a soul nurturing resort where the people get to feel HOME, read in a cozy chair with loads of options, shower in a beautiful double shower, enjoy the indoor world of plants without going outside but have the feeling of a sunroom, and layer on the multiple throw blankets. How is it that you have a fireplace in every single room? It is the epitome of Hygge."

And that statement is why we host 'Called to Questions' in our home. We have been offered alternative spaces to grow. We could grow and make it bigger. But bigger is not always better. Reaching more people can be nice, but we would lose out on part of the charm. The environment is part of the reason the conversations flow. We have seen the magical affect our odd home has on people. Immediately they are subdued, sleepy or put at ease...because it is that comfortable. And that provides peace. I often say that half of the world's issues could be solved with beautiful spaces, beautiful homes that provide people with respite so that they don't need a vacation from their own lives, lovingly nurturing medical places that speed up healing, and thought out business models with loads of plants, colour, art, and personality.

I feel that this is mostly all owed to my husband. His big controversial ideas often bring healing. He causes quite a stir but often the dissension is far smaller than the amount of GOOD that comes later. His unconventional ways provide respite for those in need. His willingness to put himself out there for criticism provides others with hope. I honestly had a hard time with the idea, being an Introvert, but I wanted him to realize his dreams. I am glad I took the risk. He also made my ideas into a reality and his talent in making things work, is astounding. I love sharing my home as it's like sharing a piece of my quirky soul, and I like people working towards harmony.

The beauty of sharing brings peace.

"Are those the people that feed you?" What a lovely question. What a sentiment to live up to! In thought or deed.

To peace;
This is one of our family anthems. Enjoy! Home- Philip Phillips "Settle down, it will all be clear, Don't pay no mind to the demons that fill you with fear.Trouble it might drag you down, if you get lost you can always be found. Just know you're not alone. I'm gonna make this place your home... "