Day 20: Track and Respond to Triggers 

Day 20 

Track and Respond to Triggers 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of...  

Most nights around 5:30 PM, I start dinner; this is when I am most likely to be triggered; I feel the weight of the day upon me, overwhelm takes over, and without a built-in Pause, I frequently flail. I have noticed this also happens when we are off our regular routine. I am now aware that even on happy occasions like Mother's Day, when my schedule changes, I am vulnerable to be triggered. One tactic that has helped me enormously is knowing my triggers. I have done this by tracking my moods at the end of the day in what I call my Steady Joy Tracker (SJT). In the front part of my Steady Joy Tracker I have a list of Trigger Responders. If I am triggered, I literally open my SJT, read through the strategies, and apply one that will bring me back to Steady. 

Now that I have been tracking for years, I see the patterns in my triggers and can anticipate most of them before I feel out of control.  

My recent known triggers: 

  1. Anything, other than pumping my own gas, that has to do with my car: oil change, service, new tires, getting an inspection sticker. 
  2. Any school or social function if I am going alone: concert, conference, PTO, meeting, yoga. 
  3. Preparing food in front of people, I am ok if we are cooking together, but I feel judged when I am doing it alone. 
  4. The few hours before something I am hosting begins. 
  5. Anytime I can hear my husband preparing food for himself, I feel like I am the one who should be doing it and he often asks me simple questions, but I feel judged. 
  6. Driving when I do not know where I am going in traffic or big cities. I like to drive long distances on open roads.  
  7. Most all types of speaking on the phone, except for with my sister, Jodi. 
  8. When my children or someone I love is in pain; I am an empath and truly feel their pain. When my children whine and complain randomly, I literally feel my chest tightening and I cannot breathe. 

When I am feeling Triggered or know I am about to, I first try to remove myself from the situation and partake in one of my Trigger Responders: 

  1. Pause, walk, kitchen yoga. 
  2. Go to the bathroom and wash my hands. 
  3. Ask for what I need: space, help, a hug. 
  4. Engage: play a game with Coleman, ask my children questions, call my sister, text Rachel or Carrie.  
  5. Create: weathered and worthy drawing, doodle, t and t prep, which is cutting out pictures, or make a collage. 
  6. Engage media: play Wordscapes on my phone, read, watch a show, browse the web. 
  7. Chew gum, ice, suck on a cherry blow pop. 
  8. Clean while listening to something.

I heart Spotify: things I listen to when triggered: 

  1. Abraham  
  2. Bashar 
  3. Podcasts 
  4. Disney instrumental piano 
  5. Glee songs 
  6. Catholic Hymns 
  7. Deva Premal 
  8. Chanting 

There is a fine line between distraction and avoidance. Sometimes my days look quite different than planned, I must shovel for hours because of a storm, someone is sick or needs extra attention because of school or work or just because of life! Sometimes Melly pays a visit and stays too long; I become uninspired and sluggish and want to binge watch Netflix or reread Dystopian YA trilogies. And sometimes I give in, or more accurately, I feel like I am suffocating and incapable of accessing my toolkit; I don’t engage, I function, doing the bare minimum as a parent, but enough that I pray my children don’t notice. Eventually, my mood and the moon will wane, I will Pause to catch my breath, be motivated to reach for a Steady Joy strategy in my toolkit, the momentum picks-up, and Melly finally lifts off. There is an eternal ebb and flow, fortunately now, my lifestyle steers me back to Steady.  

How do you Track and Respond to Your Triggers? 

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Day 19: Commune with Nature 

Day 19 

Commune with Nature 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

Although I consider Steady Joy to be a lifestyle choice and not a religion, I do think of the outdoors as my church. I have always felt closest to Source when I am surrounded by nature. My most favorite activity is to take a walk in the woods whether it be alone, with my husband, as a family or with friends. For 15 years we lived in Cape Cod, MA where I would walk in our neighborhood often with my three children or have art picnics in our back yard or play at the beach. Our family moved to Minnesota in January of 2016. At first the freezing temperatures prohibited me from being outside as often as I would have liked. We were fortunate to have a home with a ton of windows; despite not being able to feel Mother Nature, sitting in my Sacred Space, I was still able to appreciate Her Beauty and Light. Eventually I just layered up and walked around one of the lakes near our home. We moved back to a different area of Massachusetts in 2018; I am blessed to have quickly become close friends with a woman who enjoys walking in the woods as much as I do! 

When I walk alone, I always Pause with a deep breath and absorb my surroundings. Throughout my walk I look for my Symbols as well as other natural delights. Walking alone outdoors is the best medicine for both my mental and physical health, I can feel the vitamin D energizing me!  

When I was a child living on Long Island, New York, I did not enjoy doing yard work, at all! My siblings and I would joke how our stepmother treated us like indentured servants. When my husband and I bought our first home, a child came soon after. I was still uninterested in caring for our yard. Every time I tried; I felt this deep resentment. When we moved to Minnesota, we had a beautiful, well maintained, structured yard. There was a set template and our children were a bit older, I started to enjoy caring for the outside of our home. Now in Massachusetts we have an overwhelmingly interesting and large yard; I have grown to love my hands in the dirt and am doing my best to keep it looking good.  

Ideas for Communing with Nature: 

  1. Create kindness rocks for your own garden or go on a walk and distribute them for others to find. 
  2. Exercise outdoors: walk, jog, skate, ride, swim, kayak, stretch, do yoga, paddle, rock climb, 
  3. Go for a scenic drive with all the windows open. 
  4. Lay on the ground and feel the heartbeat of Gaia. 
  5. Watch birds and woodland creatures either outside or from a window. 
  6. Visit a beach, pond, lake, forest, nature preserve, nature sanctuary, nature museum. When searching for new destinations to visit and walk I realized there are many different names for a nature center! 
  7. Meditate or Pause outside. 
  8. Stargaze: use a telescope to see the Moon, Planets, and beyond. 

How do you commune with nature? 

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Day 18: Cultivate a Relationship with the Divine 

Day 18 

Cultivate a Relationship with the Divine 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

One of the most supportive tools for me in creating a more intimate connection with Source has been Tarot. There are many divination tools to choose from such as oracle cards, runes, crystals, or beads. It is not the actual token that holds the power, it is the act of opening myself up to a broader way of thinking that gives me deeper access to my intuition. When I trust myself more, I feel I make better decisions, and that leads me to expanded Joy. 

In 2010, on my 40th birthday, my sister took me to Newport, RI for the weekend to celebrate. We were walking down Thames Street looking for a place to eat when I saw a tarot reader sign in a window. I mentioned how I always wanted to experience a Tarot reading and my sister encouraged us to have one done. The Tarot reading for me was astonishingly accurate and even years later manifestations were happening that the reader had foretold. The moment I got home from our trip I bought my own Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck. Immediately, I began studying Tarot and reading daily for myself. As I grew more confident, I started reading for friends and family. I do not consider myself a psychic. I have an intimate relationship with my Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck, and I have always been very artistic and empathetic. When sharing a Tarot reading, I offer clarity; I reflect a person’s own vibration back to them. 

Once I became more familiar with my cards, I tried reading different spreads, but it just did not feel comfortable for me. I made up my own spread that I have been using ever since. I always ensure my cards are face up, I do not read reverse cards. After grounding myself in my Sacred Space through breathing and incense, I shuffle my deck, then I choose one card from the top of the deck, one from the bottom, and one in the middle. I write down my interpretation after each card. I find the cards consistently play off one another. 

In the beginning, I was very intimidated by my cards, especially ones that looked scary to me like the 10 of Swords which has a figure on the ground being impaled by 10 Swords. A few years into my Tarot journey I was going through a dark season and decided to pull out any cards that scared me. I was using Tarot as a tool for guidance and I did not want to be triggered into feeling like I was choosing bad cards. Vetting my cards was extremely helpful. A few months later I added the scary cards back in and I began the process of challenging myself to interpret each card in a positive way. Eventually I arrived at a place where every card I pull offers me hopeful guidance. I now see the Ten of Swords as a polite way of saying: You are stuck in your pattern of thought; let it go and move on, a new cycle is about to begin! 

My Tarot deck is displayed in a decorative box encompassed by tiny treasures from my children, gemstones, and a wedding picture of my paternal grandparents. Journaling my intentions will often reveal a question or hope I have for the day. I hold in my heart a combination of desires depending upon the season: my children taking a test, my husband traveling, or due to my anxiety, I often ask for extra support from Tarot if I must interact with people in an unusual way. 

In October 2014 a long-time blogging friend, who lives across the country from me, commented on Facebook that she needed clarity about a situation in her life. I messaged her and asked if I could do a tarot card reading for her. I told her I would write my guidance in a letter and mail it to her. That whole day, until I had time alone to do her reading, I thought about ways to make the reading extra special. I decided I would make her an intuitive art card much like the ones I had been making for myself during the Lunar Phases for the past fifteen years. When I sat to do her reading, I experienced a shift inside of me. I felt like I was doing something I had been called to do. After picking three cards for her, the writing came effortlessly; I could hear and feel from Tarot what my friend needed. I wrote down my thoughts in a journal, transcribed them into a letter, sorted through my collage supplies I had accumulated, and let Tarot guide me to choosing images to convey the message my friend most needed. I put her letter into a little trunk I had created on the backside of the recycled 5 x 7 postcard I had used to make the collage which included a mini photocopy of the three Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot cards I had chosen for her. 

Interpreting Tarot through collage resonates with me more than reading to someone face to face. As an empath, there have been times I have felt too intense of an emotion coming from my querent. I love transforming scraps of paper and ephemeral from my life into intuitive art cards. Soon after that reading for my friend, I created a website and began making personal Trunk and Tarot collages that I have mailed to people all over the world. 

When I moved to Minnesota in 2016, I began attending a women’s circle that eventually led me to creating Trunk and Tarot Gatherings. Trunk and Tarot Gatherings are a whimsical, fresh way to connect and circle together, while receiving clarity and insights through collage. Facilitating my own gatherings has truly been a magical experience for me. You can find out more at trunkandtarot.com 

When I first bought my Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck in 2010, I would choose a card a day, look it up on the internet, and write down my findings. After a few years, I created a tool for myself that I give out at my Trunk and Tarot Gatherings. My interpretations are based on my own experience with my Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck and research I have done on numerology. I have also added reading playing cards to my Tarot tool and include playing cards in my Trunk and Tarot gatherings. I keep a copy of my Tarot tool inside my journal and use it every morning.  

Today I drew the Queen of Wands. If you look on the Tarot tool you will see the words associated with Queen are nurturing, intuition, and inner strength. The words associated with Wands are fire, red, south, passion, magic, summer, and days. My starting point is to write all those words in my journal and then based on what type of guidance I am requesting from Tarot; I feel Tarot will answer me. Today I asked for clarity while writing this book. I was beyond excited to have the Queen of Wands show up. What an amazing sign from the Universe!  

 

Trunk and Tarot Tool 

Suit 

Pentacles 

Cups 

Swords 

Wands 

Element 

earth 

Water 

Air 

Fire 

symbol 

diamonds 

hearts 

clubs 

spades 

Color 

green 

blue 

yellow 

red 

Direction 

north 

west 

east 

south 

Essence 

actions 

manifestations 

intuitions 

emotions 

communication 

thoughts 

passion 

magic 

Season 

winter 

autumn 

spring 

summer 

Duration 

years 

months 

weeks 

days 

 

for cards above 9: reduce each number down to a single digit 

example:  The Sun XIX = 19 = 1 +9 = 10 = 1 + 0 = 1 

Ace/1 

2/II 

3/III 

4/IV 

5/V 

an invitation 

to be open 

a portal 

balance 

crossroads 

flexibility 

collaboration 

contemplation 

bonding 

stability 

stay the course 

satisfaction 

help is on the way 

investigate 

transformation 

6/VI 

7/VII 

8/VIII 

9/IX 

10/X 

sympathy 

hope 

self-compassion 

reflect 

trust yourself 

be bold 

movement 

diligence 

potential 

to be held in high esteem 

resiliency 

closure 

culmination 

success 

redundancy 

0 

Page 

Knight 

Queen 

King 

innocence 

free spirit 

ready to be ready 

new 

a beginning 

childlike enthusiasm 

swift results 

take-action 

messenger 

nurturing 

intuition 

inner strength 

dominance 

control 

provider 

 

Other interesting tools that you can research and maybe use to connect with the Divine are: 

  1. Crystals, Crystal Ball 
  2. Astrology, Numerology 
  3. Hanging Pendulum or Pendulum board, Dowsing Rod 
  4. Scrying bowl, scrying glass 
  5. Spirit boards or Ouija boards 
  6. Tarot, Oracle, Angel Cards 
  7. Runes set, Polyhedral dice, I-Ching Coins 
  8. Reading Palms or Tea leaves or Auras 

How do you connect with your divinity? 

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Day 17: Affirm your Sanctions 

Day 17 

Affirm your Sanctions 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

 Sanctions are phrases that remind us of Steady Joy. They are affirmations and permission slips to love who we are; they are similar to mantras. Sanctions were part of my original SJFT I completed every morning, but now I create a list of Sanctions sometimes when I am feeling triggered or I recall them and repeat them when I am anxious or trying to fall asleep.  

8 of  My Sanctions: 

  1. All is well. 
  2. There is no truth, only perspective. 
  3. Things are always working out for me. 
  4. The Universe has my back. 
  5. Peace be with me. 
  6. I call Light to me; I call Light to me now. 
  7. We are All One 
  8. Nothing is Wasted. 

What Sanctions do you want to affirm? 

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Day 16: Document Your Journey 

Day 16 

Document Your Journey 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

I cannot imagine life without writing it down. I do not remember a time when I did not translate experiences and feelings into words and images on a page. When I was 16 my stepmother punished me when she found a spiral notebook in the back of my closet full of the enormous range of perceptions a human heart encompasses. When my older sister at college heard about the incident, she bought me my first cloth covered journal. In our attic today, there are bins and bins of filled journals, often gifted to me from my sister who has always championed my words and my heart.  

Although I know journaling is not for everyone, I encourage you to explore different ways you can document your journey. I have kept many different types of journals, each with its own flavor and color. I do not find it helpful to write about all the junk that goes on in my head. I tried the morning mind dump technique, but for me, it perpetuates my negative emotions. I keep my thoughts and writing light: my observations of the sky, appreciate for the comfort and beauty of my Sacred Space, and I count my blessings for things like the wellness and love of my family and my deep connection to Source. I doodle and set intentions for a good day. There are times something grabs hold of my attention and I am not able to easily let it go. When that happens, I do journal whatever I am feeling, even if it does not feel good, but I write it out until I'm able to get to a better feeling place. In general, writing helps me feel more Joy because it slows my thought process down causing me to savor all the good in my life.  

Since 2006, once a year around Lughnasa, one of the Sabbats that falls on August 1, I have an art picnic and write in my annual birthday journal. It is interesting and fun to celebrate the past, dream, and plan. Some years my children have scribbled and helped me draw or create a collage. In 2019 I added a pocket to house cards and little mementos. 

There is a plethora of ways to document your journey if keeping a journal does not resonate with you. I know sometimes it can be daunting to have your personal thoughts available for others to see. I have reminded my family that my writings are a snapshot of how I feel in the moment, often do not reflect a bigger picture, and they might be offended or not understand or misinterpret what they are reading. 

Ideas to document your journey: 

  1. Paper journal, theme journal that asks questions, visual or sketch journal. 
  2. Send yourself letters and/or postcards and keep them in a book or folder. 
  3. Use your phone note app or a photo a day app, send yourself emails or texts on a separate account. 
  4. Blog or a vlog, video diary on social media, create your own hashtag; you can also create a private account just for you. 
  5. Keep and/or display collections: to do lists, tickets, wrappers, receipts, nature items like shells from every beach you have been to, rocks, or dry flowers. 
  6. Use an accordion folder with tabs, a jar, or a box to hold keepsakes, I have many that I have collaged. 
  7. Create playlists for each season of life and keep them in an audio folder. 
  8. Make your photos into a paper album; there are so many companies that do this now, it is no longer expensive. 

How do you document your journey? 

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Day 15: Wear a Talisman 

Day 15 

Wear a Talisman 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

I am very deliberate when I get dressed; I had to when I was a retail manager, but now as primarily a Homemaker, I know it is important how I see myself in the mirror. Even when I am home alone, I like to put on mascara and lipstick, to wear skirts or dresses because they are the most comfortable for me. I have always loved to wear jewelry, not flashy expensive jewelry, but pieces that have meaning behind them. When deciding on my jewelry, I see each piece as a Talisman: a powerful tool to foster intimacy between myself and the giver or of who/what the object reminds me of. 

It does not have to be jewelry, it could be a coin in your pocket, a barrette in your hair, a certain belt or scarf, but some type of Talisman will remind you to Pause and set an intention. Most often I choose a necklace with silver charms as my Talisman, I rotate wearing a combination of: a pendant with my 3 children’s birth dates on it, a feather for our baby that was never born, a Hamsa or Moonstone, a wishbone, and a diamond cross that was my paternal Grandmother's. In 2019 my husband gifted me a necklace with a waning crescent moon and a heart. It is now one of my favorites. In all my Weathered and Worthy illustrations, each woman is wearing the same necklace, she represents all the facets of Woman in many, many incarnations. When I look in the mirror or feel my charms, I Pause deeply; I feel a breath whispering...you are loved, you are Worthy, you deserve to experience Steady Joy. 

Talisman suggestions: 

  1. Jewelry: ring, bracelet, necklace, charm, earrings, pins 
  2. Something in your pocket: crystal, stone, bead, charm, coin 
  3. Belt 
  4. Hair accessories: barrettes, ribbons, ties, sticks 
  5. Cuff links, tie clip 
  6. Makeup: drawing a symbol on yourself, temporary tattoo, face gems 
  7. Glasses 
  8. Piece of clothing: socks, underwear, scarf 

What is your Talisman and what does it whisper to you? 

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Day 14: Record Your Touchstones 

Day 14 

Record Your Touchstones 

 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

Touchstones are Steady Joy stories that remind us the Universe has our back. A Touchstone could be something small like the time you found a great parking spot or big like the way you met your best friend. Touchstones were part of my original SJFT I completed every morning, but now I create a list of Touchstones when I am feeling triggered. 

Sometimes I create a list of memories that always give me a lift when I think about them: 

  1. Coleman’s easy birth. 
  2. Taylor Swift Red Concert with Jodi and our girls. 
  3. Meeting Sean in Hawaii. 
  4. Cora throwing me a surprise Baby Shower  
  5. Jodi taking me to RI for my 40th birthday. 
  6. Quahog dinner at Nana and Papa’s. 
  7. Renting cabins in Minnesota (Duluth). 
  8. Eating at Rain then seeing Jesus Christ Superstar with Jodi and our Mommy. 

Sometimes my lists of favorites are just about what happened the day before. I like creating these lists because it is another way to document my journey and smile at the memory.  

8 Touchstones (taken from a list in 2013) 

  1. My coffee was extra yummy because I added some cocoa on top!
    2. Coleman slept through the night.
    3. Gorgeous weather yesterday. Sunny, clear skies, but smells like fall. 
    4. A long walk around the neighborhood with Ethan, Maggie, and Coleman. 
    5. Making fairy houses in the park with the kids and Ava. 
    6. Family breakfast at the table. Even though I already ate it was nice to be together. 
    7. Ethan created original ships with his Legos. 
    8. Maggie made a million Rainbow Loom accessories. 

 

Sometimes I create a theme touchstone list, for example, my favorite soundtracks: 

  1. Jesus Christ Superstar 
  2. Dear Evan Hanson 
  3. Hamilton 
  4. Spring Awakening 
  5. Wicked 
  6. Shrek the Musical 
  7. Beauty and the Beast 
  8. Rudderless 
     

Touchstone list suggestions: 

  1. Favorite quotes 
  2. Favorite songs 
  3. Favorite meals 
  4. Favorite books 
  5. Favorite experiences 
  6. Favorite board games 
  7. Favorite traditions 
  8. Favorite articles of clothing 

What are your Touchstones? 

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Day 13: Observe and Celebrate Sacred Seasons 

Day 13 

Observe and Celebrate Sacred Seasons 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

Forever I have been exploring other faiths in my heart. When I began to dive deeper into how to experience a more intimate connection with Source, no pre-existing framework felt authentic for me. I am a Knower. I passionately Know that for me the core of Life is about Joy, Love, Kindness, and Expressing our Authentic Creativity. All Knowers intrinsically strive to maintain a feeling of Steady Joy. The way to consistently experience Steady Joy is through our intimate connection to Source (God, Inner-being) We all need reminders and tools to stay in the realm of Steady Joy. 

My explorations brought me to Paganism. There are as many sects of Paganism as there are any other major religion; all with their own history, beliefs, and rituals. I read and researched blogs, books, and articles to gain my knowledge. I do not count myself as an expert or feel there is one right way. Everyone must decide for themselves what path they feel called to follow or whether they want to pioneer their own. Ardent Pagan is the name I made up to express how I observe and celebrate the sacred seasons of life. Although the dictionary definition of pagan means a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions, I do not consider Ardent Pagan my religion. Ardent Pagan is one piece of my Steady Joy lifestyle.  

In 2013 I read in depth about the Wheel of the Year and immediately knew I would integrate Observing and Celebrating these holy days into my life. Within mine and my husband’s large Catholic extended families we still recognize the other traditional holidays like Christmas with Santa and Easter Baskets filled with candy, but as a nuclear family we also celebrate the eight solar cycles that make up Wheel of the Year. I like the structure of having specific days that I am encouraged to praise and rejoice in Mother Nature. 

The seasonal festivals that make up the Wheel of the Year are broken down into 8 Sabbats: 

Samhain - 10/31 
Yule - 12/19 
Imbolc- 2/2 
Ostara – 3/20 
Beltane – 5/1 
Litha – 6/21 
Lughnasadh – 8/2 
Mabon – 9/23 

Throughout my time as a facilitator, I have been frequently asked how I integrated being an Ardent Pagan into my life. Over the years my observation and celebration style has evolved but the intention of honoring the solar cycles are the same. 

Samhain  
Celebrated: ~ November 1st 
Significance: The final harvest before the long winter. The day the veil between the physical and nonphysical is the thinnest. Celebration of death as a Continuation of Life. A time to honor our ancestors and embrace the darker half of the year. 
On My Inaugural Altar: black scarf, mementos from the deceased; a silver tray from my paternal grandmother and a glass vessel from my maternal, white candles. 
My Inaugural Tradition: passing bread around the table, each taking a piece and remembering someone who past that year, an extra place setting for loved ones who are no longer in their physical bodies. 

Yule 
Celebrated: ~ December 20th 
Significance: The winter solstice. The shortest day of the year with the shortest hours of daylight. After Yule, we celebrate the sun returning. 
On My Inaugural Altar: White and silver cloth napkin, glass tray with Yule log and snippets from our Christmas tree, white and silver candles. 
My Inaugural Tradition: At our Yule dinner feast we all took turns writing in black permanent marker on the Yule log our intention for the year. This can be a great time to pick your word of the year. We created our Yule Log from last year’s Christmas Tree. The Yule log took center stage on our festive table. After I moved the Yule log to my altar. 

Imbolc  
Celebrated: ~ February 1st 
Significance: Marks the midpoint between winter and spring. 
On My Inaugural Altar: angel from my grandmother, white candles, white wedding candle in gold holder, metal bucket filled with sea salt, feathers, small Buddha. 
My Inaugural Tradition: Burned the Yule log in our fireplace, made bird seed ornaments with the children and friends then hung them on our Christmas tree that we kept on our back deck. 

Ostara  
Celebrated: ~ March 20th 
Significance: Celebration of the Spring Equinox. Hours of day and night are equal. 
On My Inaugural Altar: Black and white candles to represent day and night, blue baby quilt to represent new life, fresh flowers, Willow tree angel with a sunflower, shell full of seeds. 
My Inaugural Tradition: Deep cleaning my altar area. Painting eggs, meals together with family and friends. 

Beltane 
Celebrated: ~ May 1st 
Significance: Honoring Life, the halfway point of the year, the veil between the worlds is thin, a time of cleansing, the summer overtakes the winter. 
On My Inaugural Altar: Red, white, roses, baskets, arrows, horns, lances, cherries, oats, milk, honey. 
My Inaugural Tradition: smudging our home with the windows open, holding a fire outside, eating fruit, building fairy houses. 

Litha 
Celebrated: ~ June 21st 
Significance: Longest day of the year, the sun is at its highest point before slipping into darkness, middle of summer, Summer solstice 
On My Inaugural Altar: Yellow and blue cloth, blue horse, yellow candles, lavender candles, a clean, light feeling. 
My Inaugural Tradition: Creating a festive table, giving each family member a candle. Lighting the candle and saying our intention for the summer, dinner together. 
Other ways to Celebrate: Going to a farmer’s market hosting an outdoor party, creating an altar outside. 

Lughnasadh 
Celebrated: ~ August 1st 
Significance: Celebration of the harvest, a time to be thankful for abundance. 
On My Inaugural Altar: white, blue, green covering, shells, gifts from the sea, red candles to rep the upcoming harvest, wings, a dried sunflower, ocean water. 
My Inaugural Tradition: beer with dinner, harvest foods from the farmer’s market: chicken with squash and micro-greens, grilled parmesan bread. Family walk on the beach, first born gathering Full Blue Moon water. 

Mabon 
Celebrated: ~ September 21st 
Significance: Autumn Equinox. The days and nights are equal. 
On My Inaugural Altar: brown, red, gold, horn of plenty, leaves 
My Inaugural Tradition: Elaborate meal, making lists of what you are thankful for. 

 
Each seasonal festival is based on the position of the sun and therefore the actual date changes sometimes by a day or two from year to year. There is a wealth of information available online regarding the Wheel of the Year and the folklore behind each turn. I always give my children the option of participating in whatever ceremony I have conjured. I focus on the seasonal aspect of each Sabbat and how the ritual invokes intimacy into my life. Some of my favorite ways of celebrating are making bird seed ornaments at Imbolc, cooking a meal from ingredients bought at a farmer’s market on Litha, and writing our intentions for the year on our Yule log during Winter Solstice. The awareness and Pause in recognizing the seasons give me something to plan, to look forward to, and then commune with Source and family on that day. Connection and Celebration sustains my feelings of Steady Joy. 

Each morning I draw the current moon’s phase in my everyday journal while sitting in my Sacred Space and in the evening, I draw it again in my Steady Joy Tracker. Drawing the moon gives me an opportunity to Pause and ponder on how the moon's cycle affects my own.  

A moon's basic cycle lasts 29.5 days: 

new moon (not visible) ~ Observation: cleanse, smudge, and begin something new 
waxing crescent ~ organize 
first quarter (half a moon) ~ take action 
waxing gibbous ~ check in 
full moon ~ Celebration: Create (collage) 
waning gibbous ~ release 
third quarter ~ be gentle, have grace 
waning crescent ~ return to stillness 

To honor the Moon’s phase, I use a water vessel that I keep on my main altar. My water vessel is a glass candy dish that was my maternal Grandmother, Sip's. I fill it with water or snow and leave it on our back deck during the New and Full Moon. The ritual reminds me to Pause, be present, and breathe Her in. When we lived on Cape Cod, we would often go for a family walk on the beach during the Full Moon. Another way I have honored the moon is to create an intention collage during the Full or New Moon to call forth the energy I want to sustain during that time.  

The following are the Moon names I like and use. Sometimes the name changes based on the way each Moon falls in a month, for example, the Harvest Moon is the one closest to the autumn equinox, it is usually in September, but sometimes it is in October. A Blue Moon occurs when there are two Full Moons in the same month, the second one will be called Blue Moon. A Black Moon occurs when there are two New Moons in the same month, the second one is called a Black Moon. 

January – Full Wolf Moon 
February – Full Bone Moon 
March – Full Crow Moon 
April – Full Pink Moon 
May – Full Flower Moon 
June – Full Strawberry Moon 
July - Full Buck Moon 
August - Full Sturgeon Moon 
September -Full Corn (usually Harvest) Moon 
October - Full Hunter Moon 
November - Full Beaver Moon 
December -Full Cold Moon 

Observing the moon daily fosters an intentional intimate Pause between myself and Source. 

How do you Observe and Celebrate the Sacred Seasons? 

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Day 12: Know What You Need to Thrive 

Day 12 

Know What You Need to Thrive 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

When fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her home the summer of 2018, a family member commented to me how selfish it was for her to take her own life, if she was that depressed, she had a responsibility to her child to get help. I Paused; I tried to explain, without giving away I had experienced suicidal ideation most of my life, Kate Spade was probably not able to access the tools needed in the moment to save herself. 

The truth is accessing the tools to extricate oneself from the symptoms of mental illness is often challenging. Finding a supportive, qualified counselor you resonate with and trust who takes your insurance to teach you those tools is frequently a laborious process. Emotional and mental wellbeing is subtle and searching for a counselor can be quite daunting. Revealing to a stranger your innermost secrets and fears when you already have anxiety, trust issues, or in the midst of a crisis can feel insurmountable, you worry how this person perceives you: What if they tell other people? What if they want to hospitalize me? What if they do more damage? 

Outwardly most people would describe me as an optimistic, happy, perky person; unfortunately, I never felt safe enough with anyone to share the depth of my anxiety and depression. I moved 18 times throughout my twenties for a variety of reasons to different states and cities. Wherever I have lived, I tried to stay in therapy, which mostly focused on coping with my anxiety and letting go of my past, but I did not continue to see a therapist once I settled down in Massachusetts. With the development of my Steady Joy toolkit, my emotional and mental health persevered through the years of balancing caring for our three children, jobs, and aspirations, and at times we thrived. In my early forties I realized I was not able to access my toolkit and sought a therapist. In therapy we sorted more of my past and some marital issues, but we did not discuss my depression. Moving to Minnesota in 2016 for my husband's job sparked one of the darkest episodes I have experienced; with the support of my Steady Joy toolkit, I pushed off from that bottom and survived. 

Up until I was 48, I did not take medication. I feel I was born with my mental challenges and the early trauma of my parents' divorce and how it was handled triggered something inside of me. I do not think my illness is curable, but it is treatable. Since I was 11, I have interacted with mental health professionals, even when I was told by my stepmother, I should be talking to a priest instead. When we moved back to Massachusetts at the end of 2018, I was unable to find relief from Melly. I white-knuckled through my anxiety and an increased sense of gloom; I felt disorientated, angry, and at times did not want to exist. I tried to hide my despair from my family and engage my Steady Joy toolkit; I did enjoy some bright spots during those difficult months: meeting a good friend in our new neighborhood, gathering with family, and setting up our home. After ten months of actively searching, I connected with a therapist who suggested I see a Psychiatric Nurse and consider medication. Although I felt confident in the research I had done and advice I had received, I was extremely hesitant to take medication. Desperate to feel relief, eventually, I went on a small dose of a generic form of Zoloft. Sertraline is an antidepressant belonging to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Over time, we increased my dosage until we found the right amount for me. 

Taking Sertraline has been life-altering. I felt skeptical about embracing my consistently good mood in the beginning, and to know the stable feelings could last. I have now been on Sertraline for over a year. I see my therapist regularly and check in with the Psychiatric Nurse when needed. I am fortunate that the only side effects have been dry mouth and a little nausea. I am still me; I sometimes experience feelings of anxiety and depression. Sertraline helps me from spiraling down; I can systematically implement the strategies in my Steady Joy toolkit and make more solid decisions. Trusting myself has led to expanded confidence and increased intimacy in my relationships. My current therapist I found through a combination of information from my insurance provider and www.psychologytoday.com. I am fortunate to have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and they have an easy to navigate website. If you are new to searching, be prepared it may take a while. I heard back from several therapists that they were not accepting new patients. I also have met with therapists and immediately knew I did not wish to see them again. It is not always easy to hold on while simultaneously reaching out, but know you deserve to experience Steady Joy. 

When my two oldest were toddlers, I would begin molding my writings into structured content, but then Melly would come to visit and by the time she lifted off I would lose my momentum. In 2008 I sold a Blurb workbook and an e-course on Etsy titled, Creating in the Midst: a 12 Week Guide to Sustaining Conscious Joy. The workbook I made from my collage art and featured several of the strategies currently in my Steady Joy toolkit. I ran the sold-out course twice. I was not seeing a therapist at the time. When Melly arrived, I could not sustain Joy because I was not being honest with myself about what I needed. I do not feel medication is the right choice for everyone, but for me, the perfect combination is utilizing my Steady Joy toolkit, seeing a therapist regularly, and taking medication; I need all 3 to thrive.  

Here is a list of ways to find a therapist. Remember to shop around, get several names, and trust your intuition as it might take a bit to find a match. Many therapists offer appointments on the phone or over video. Persevere, good professional help can improve your quality of life. 

  1. Websites on the internet like pschologytoday.com, webmd.com, findgrouptherapy.com. 
  2. Your insurance company, there is usually a number on the back of your card or search for their website online. 
  3. School resources: guidance counselor, school psychologist.  
  4. Human Resource Department or Employee Assistant Department at your job. 
  5. Referral from a doctor.  
  6. Ask around friends, family, neighbors. 
  7. Look for private groups on social media and ask for referrals. 
  8. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 

I wish I would have read about the different types of therapy before I began looking for a therapist. Because I have struggled with finding a therapist I just usually mold to whatever the therapist is used to. Now that I have been exposed to several different types of therapy, I have developed preferences. I encourage you to research therapies to see which one might be a good fit.  

 Here are is a list to start from: 

  1. Decide on what type of therapy you need or want: individual, family, group, or a combination.  
  2. ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 
  3. Psychodynamic: Traditional Talk Therapy 
  4. IFS: Internal family Systems 
  5. DBT: Dialectical Behavior Therapy 
  6. CBT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy 
  7. Interpersonal Therapy 
  8. Music, Play, Light, or Art Therapy 

 

What do you need to thrive? 

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Day 11: Express Your Creativity 

Day 11 

Express Your Creativity 

Pause 

breathe in for a count of... 

hold for a count of ... 

breathe out for a count of ... 

hold for a count of... 

I believe there is a Maker inside of all of us. Once you discover what medium you love, give yourself the time, permission, and space to play. I adore expressing my creativity, I do it all day long: I like to write, I like to make crafts, I like to doodle, I like to color, I like to cook, I like to draw. My most favorite way to express my creativity is to create a collage. Collage transforms my ideas, desires, and highest intentions into the visible. I collect scraps from my world; tickets from an event, a picture from a cereal box, a piece of string, a tag, a bit of wrapping paper, a cut out from a catalog, drawings from my children, and glue them onto a postcard, canvas, or notebook with a few added embellishments like transfers, glitter, and stickers. I keep all my supplies accessible in my Sacred Space so when the opportunity and inspiration align, I can dive right in. All my collages are made with love and intentions, and sometimes a child snuggled up next to me. 

I am more Joyful when I feel balanced, when I am choosing a variety of activities throughout my day: creating art, playing with my children, cooking, reading, just being. When I am aware of my time, I make more balanced choices. One way I stay aware is by engaging my creativity. I am an avid Maker. Making and intending are interwoven together for me. Daily I carve out time to create, usually in the form of drawing, collage, writing, or crafting. My creations always have an intention tied to them, such as creating a collage for my word of the year, making birdseed ornaments for Imbolc, or a completing a creative assignment for an e-course or group that I am participating in. I love to listen to podcasts while I create; many of my podcast choices can be found on weatheredandworthy.com 

Recently, I have expressed my Creativity by: 

  1. Writing and creating the cover for Weathered and Worthy Wisdom. 
  2. Rearranging my Sacred Space. 
  3. Planting wildflowers and pumpkins. 
  4. Baking shortbread bars with rhubarb from our garden. 
  5. Making sock bunnies with Coleman. 
  6. Doodling. 
  7. Experimenting in the kitchen; pasta with Bolognese sauce, sticky ribs, new salad ingredients. 
  8. Collaging the cover of my journal. 

 

Ideas of ways to express your creativity I have gathered from friends and family: 

  1. Home improvement projects 
  2. Playing a musical instrument 
  3. Videography/photography 
  4. Party planning 
  5. Crafting: knitting, crocheting, embroidering, weaving, felting, origami, sculpting, beading, screen printing 
  6. Writing: songs, poetry, letters, stories  
  7. Upcycling clothes 
  8. Create an independent business: selling online at Etsy, DePop, or Red Bubble. 

How do you express your creativity? 

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