Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I got out to my nature space today. I could tell right off that the river was much higher then before. The snow must be melting off in the distant mountains. As I walked along the path a flash of color caught my eye, and I looked up to see the first Western Oriole of the year. I stood for a while and listened to it's beautiful song. When the performance was over I walked on. Getting to my usual sitting spot I found it over flowing with water from the swollen river. I decided to walk a little farther and find a new spot. I saw an old fallen tree with a new tree growing over the bones of it's brother providing shade and I felt it would be nice, though there was not much of a view from the high growing underbrush.
I ducked off the path and took a seat in the mini-grove. I was soon rewarded with the appearance of three very small birds on a nearby branch and a shower of Cotton wood cotton that floated all around us like little miniature fairies. The birds twilled for a short while and then moved on. I thought of the dead mouse I found on the path. It was uneaten, another victim of the well fed Ferrel cat population I deduced. I like cats as much as the next person, but I really dislike Farrel cats, and I believe they should be destroyed, and most certainly not fed and allowed to thrive. They are killing machines, and do unmeasurable damage to native species. Even if you feed them, they still kill. You can take away it's hunger, but not it's impulse to kill.
I took three sticks of incense from my crane bag, lit them, and gently placed them in the sandy soil. I offered them as a gift to the nature spirits. I watched rabbits, and lizards. I saw ants busily doing what ants do. I heard a red tailed hawk in the distance. I felt the nature spirits all around. It was wonderful. The wind tickled my face and teased my long hair. As the incense burned to the sand I heard an unusual peep, and peeked through the underbrush. I was rewarded with a visit from a family of quail. I smiled and wished them well and told the to be wary of the cats. Farrel cats are hell on quail. As I got up to head back I heard the hawk cry out again. I know he's looking for a nice rabbit, but maybe he'll find Farrel cat on the menu. Yeah, I'd be ok with that.
Who are my ancestors? This is a question I have struggled with on and off for such a long time, and in all honesty I suspect it will be one that I will continue to struggle with for years to come, though recently through ADF things have gotten significantly better.
I grew up in a small town in Oregon with my mother and father and one sister, and that’s it. No aunts or uncles, no cousins, no grandparents to speak of. See my parents were originally from Wisconsin and that is where my extended family still lived. What’s more, my parents did nothing to gap the distance other then the occasional phone call on a holiday. As a child I never thought to question it. As a young adult I began to feel the absence, and now that I am beginning my mid life I think I understand the reasons behind it. My father did not have a good relationship with his father. I think my father thought to protect my sister and I by keeping a distance between his children and his father. Nor do I think my father was close to his siblings. Thus I can count the number of times I have met my aunt and uncle and cousins on one hand. Nor does my father speak of his childhood much and not at all of his extended family. As for my mother’s side, well I suspect much of the same, though she has told me a few more stories then my father. Still I have no faces to put to the stories, nor much of a context for them. For many years I have pondered who my family line is, how I got this last name. Not much in the way of answers has been forth coming. Thus when it comes to honoring the ancestors of my blood, I always feel a disconnect. I feel at a loss compared to the connection my wife seems to have. I do honor them though, the best way I can. Since becoming a druid I have in fact called on one blood ancestor for help with my schooling. Great Grandpa McFarland. I am told he was a pharmacist on my mother’s side of the family. I knew I was going to have trouble understanding Chemistry. I feel that he did help me, and I finished the class with an A…barely, but still an A.
Since joining ADF my definition of ancestor has grown. Now I have other ancestors to honor. Ancestors whom I actually know and can call upon, tell stories about and honor. Hart-kin. Those whom we love but may not be blood. Hearth-kin, those to whom I share a spiritual path and connection. These two things have really helped me get a better sense of where I come from, who I am, my place in this world, and what I am doing here. I honor my hearth-kin and have felt them answer. Most my heart-kin are still living, but one in particular has died, and have honored him ever Samhain ever since. I have been honoring my heath-kin as well. This past Samhain, though I never met him, I publicly honored Boneawits. I have read one of his books, and I carry forward his teachings and beliefs by being a member of ADF.
Thus has ADF helped me find a better more fulfilling relationship with my ancestors.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I had a new and interesting experience last night. I was having a dream, I can't remember it, but I remember thinking that it was the spirit of a once living person, though I don't recall ever knowing them, trying to give me a message. At the time I got the message, but then woke with a start in time to see the bed room door swing open a bit then shut. Not all the way shut, and it wasn't shut tight to start with. However in the year and a half I have been living here I have never seen the bedroom door do that. I believe it was the spirit leaving. I then fell back to sleep. Sadly, when I woke up for good, I remember the incident but no clue as to the message. I should have written it down.
On another note, I have been studying my Ogham and I am starting to get a better feel for it. However the last two three Ogham readings I have done have been difficult to interpret.
I have not heard from the other long term care facility that I applied at as of yet. I'll give them another week. I did follow up with a phone call. I have had an easier time of late at the place I am currently working, because I am getting to do one-on-one care for a resident. This is very easy, and enjoyable. Though last night I was forced to use pillow covers to do perineal care with since the facility ran out of both wash cloths AND towels. yeah that bad.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A few days have passed since my last post. A few things have changed, both internally and externally. Internally, I have had a shift. I have come to realize that some times excellence and perfection are NOT the same thing. I can give excellent care at my current place of employment without giving perfect care. The reality is that I will never be able to give the quality of care I want to each person. One idea my b'loved water witch shared with me is to rotate who gets the best care I can if I don't have time to give it to them all. I have also had a change in mindset when it comes to being on the clock. I am used to being self employed. It has taken some time to realize that showing up to work 1/2 hour early doesn't really work to my benefit since I don't get paid for it.
As for the poor managment. Well, I can't change that. I can only try and be like water and flow with the tides. I have accepted that so long as I work at this place its going to be a constant annoyance. However, I don't plan to work their long. I haven't heard from the other long term care facility where I turned in a Resume. I do have good news though. I got word from the College that the denial letters for the nursing program went out a week ago...and I haven't gotten one yet! It's still not a certainty, but yes I do have my hopes up!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
"What the hell have I just stepped in?!" Thi is what I am asking myself as of this week. I am miserable at this new job, and it's not the work, it's the place. It has taken me a few days to figure this out. For a while I wasn't sure if my growing disdain for going to work, the kind that causes my guts to twist up when I start getting ready, was from the work or the place. I now have total clearity on that. I did not want to work nor need to work full time at this place. Yet here I am working full time without the benefits. CNA's and other support staff are quiting. The state and fedral assessors are coming in again because the building failed its survay earlier this year. First they don't call me in to work when I was avialable making others work double shifts and now they try to schedual me on my days off without a word to me or bothering to ask. I only found out because another co-worker mentioned that I was on the schedual for my day off a few minuiets before I clocked off and went home. I was pissed. I left messages and NO I didn't work. I am here writing this blog. =>
I love taking care of people, especially the elderly. I find joy in making thier beds, giving them showers, helping them eat, even the butt wiping doesn't bother me. What bothers me is this: The company won't or can't put enough CNA's on a shift so that we can give complete care at the residents pace. Let me try and break this down further. I was given the care of 10 residents, 8 of those were what we call "total care" that means they can't do anything for themselves. Not eating, dressing, moving, toileting, getting out of a chair to the bed...nothing. Of those 8 total care 7 of them were in advanced stages of dementia. This means they never remmber me, where they are or what I am doing. They fight the care I am trying to give them because they can no longer understand. Some times I have to get help just to have some one hold their hands so I can get a new brief (diaper) on them. Because of the schedual I have to get them all ready for bed in 2 1/2 hours. OH and then I get to chart about the days activities. There were 4 other CNA's shift last night, their loads were not better, some maybe worse. If I were to give all 10 residents an equal amount of time, I have 13minuetes and 80 secends per resident to get ready for bed. How long does it take you to get ready for bed? Oh sure you can probably do it in that time, I can too, but do you? How long would you take if you are old and sore, sickly and don't move fast? Now imagine you can't go to the bathroom on your own and have to have some one do that for you as well as pick clothes, put clothes away etc. Thirteen minuetes isn't near long enough. Thus with no other option we cut corners. No one gets thier teeth brushed at night, probably not during the day either. No one gets to wash thier face or hands (unless they were digging in their pooh.) Some of the residents require mechanical lifts to get into and out of bed. Great, takes longer. Even longer when the damn things don't work right.
So my frustration is that there are to many residents and not enough CNA's to be able to give the care these folk deserve. Every day I leave feeling drained, exhausted because I have busted my ass, and yet I feel a failure. Add on top of that a D.S.D who is imcompitent and administration that only wants to make as much profit as possible by keeping employees over worked and residents with the bare minnimum care.
So what does all this have to do with spiritiuality? I have done a lot of meditation, today I go clear that it wasn't the care giving I didn't like. I love it. It brings joy to my heart...when I can do it RIGHT. It's the conditions I am being forced to work under. I prayed to Bridgit. I asked her to help me find some where else. Somewhere I am supported to do real care that meets my standards. Within a few minuetes I got a text from my wife who had a lead on another facility, closer to home, that is looking for CNA's. I am going to go check it out and pick up an application.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
It's hard to believe that Beltainne is closing upon me once again. It seem just like a few weeks ago I celebrated last years Beltainne. Beltainne is one of my most favorite of the Sabbots. I have always thought that the word "Beltainne" translates best as "The fire of Bel", Bel being the sun god. It is fitting to honor this god at this time of the year as this is when he really seems to step up into his power and sends his life giving forces to the great mother Danu to make life spring forth. I bet it was easy for ancients to get into a celebratory mood this time of year. The days are warm and comfortable again, wild game and edibles are everywhere, so food is plentiful. There would be much to enjoy. I too find it easy to get into a celebratory mood for this sabbat. A time to rejoice in life. To let the hair down and sing a bawdy song! Time to drink mead in a glass from between the breasts! To me Beltainne is about loving life and living that. It's about drinking from the well of the five senses. Not a sip, not a cup, but to plunge one's head deep and drink deep. It's the sabbot of new life!
Growing up we didn't have a celebration at this time of year, so I don't have any traditions that I will carry over from my childhood. There are plenty of others in folklore that we can draw from however. Mostly I just like to have a feast with friends, music, drumming circle, and a fire. I don't drink as a rule except from a horn on occasion during ritual. This beltaine I think I'll have some mead and a few sips of the kitchen witches home brewed cordial. I now many people have sex on Beltaine, and I would be one of them for sure, though last year my b'loved and I hosted the celebration at our home (and again this year), and people didn't leave till 1:30am and we were too tired! After sleeping though, there was much love to be had late the next morning!
The may pole is another common tradition of this time of year that stretches back to the days of our ancestors, though it's exact history has been lost in time as well as it's original meanings, it has, it seems taken on the meaning of a phallic symbol and a fertility celebration.
Flowers bursting, grass deep greening,
river bulging, bee buzzing
fruit tree ripening,
I know the time of Beltaine!
new leaves crowning, air pollen scented,
Ewes lambing, cattle calving
all things sun kissed once again,
I know the time of Beltaine!
Mead drinking, warmth making,
feast eating, may pole circling,
late night love making,
I know the time of Beltaine!
Beltaine is about celebrating life in it's glory. What ever that means to each individual. Some might like to hike, or camp, others might be a small dinner with a few friends, or if your like me it means inviting LOTS of people over, having a ritual, a huge feast, drinking, drumming, dancing and love making.
Monday, April 11, 2011
never, ever try and meditate after ingesting a lot of caffine. Not a good time. Mostly a waist of time. I woke up the other morning with a Migrain coming on. I took some Excedrine Migrain medicine that is loaded with caffine. For many people I suppose they wouldn't notice as thier body is allready used to high doses of caffine. I, however, tend to avoid caffine in my diet so when I do get a high dose it really get all twittery, jumpy, and all around restless. Trying to meditate under these conditions was to much for me, and I cut it short.
Aside from the above, my meditations continue with regularity. I have done the earth mother working only twice so far. I had intended to do it more. Certain realities of my new work as a CNA in a long term care facility have hit home, and have me feeling down and I strugle with the quality of care I want to give vs. the quality of care I am able to give due to being forced to care for to many residents. I am hoping that meditation will help me cope with this stressor.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Dictionary.com defines Perseverance as:–noun
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
This matches very closely with the ADF definition which is:
Drive, the motivation to pursue goals, even when that pursuit becomes difficult.
Perseverance is a most excellent virtue. A virtue that any one can chose to develop. There are many examples of perseverance in our lives. Just think of the people around you and in your life, which of them is displaying perseverance? Who isn't? Perseverance is simply about not giving up. Some times it's about reaching a lofty goal like "enlightenment", other times it about getting out of bed in the morning.
Perseverance, however, is blind. It needs to be tempered with vision and wisdom. With out vision and wisdom to temper perseverance and give it direction a person will quickly find themselves persevering in a way that is harmful for themselves or others. An example is the workout addict, who, despite his body breaking down, persists in exercising to the point of self harm. Men who bike so much to the point of infertility from the bike seat, to woman who stop menstruation due to a lack of body fat. Yet it may be these same people who need this kind of perseverance to finish first.
I have displayed perseverance and wisdom recently in my job. In the last 48 hours I have logged 24 hours of work with only 5 hours of sleep. As I was starting my double shift yesterday, the scheduler asked me if I wanted to work another double shift today. I told her no. To have said yes would have been harmful to my body, and relationships. I was already pushing my thresh hold as it was. I put in a 16 hour day with only two 30 minuet breaks. I persevered. I had not seen my step-daughter in 24 hours, and barely gotten to speak with my wife. Perseverance is one thing, but all things must have balance. No amount of money would be worth the damage both physically and relationship wise that it would have incurred to work another double.
I think one the greatest acts of perseverance I have ever learned about is the story of Aron Lee Ralston. While climbing and bouldering, he got his arm trapped by a boulder. Though he made a gross error by not telling any one where he was, he persevered. After 5 days trapped and dehydrated, he cut off his arm with a dull pocket knife, and hiked to safety. Perseverance and pure intestinal fortitude saved his life, where many others would have simply given up and died.
Perseverance is a powerful virtue to have. It can be used daily, in real life. Yet at the same time it is the virtue of "last resort". When all else has fled, wisdom, courage, vision, hospitality, ect., when all else goes wrong and things are "FUBAR" it is perseverance that will get a person through it and back to a better place.