Monday, May 25, 2015

Problems of turning 30

I haven't even been 30 for a week and I already feel like I'm lagging behind. I remember in my early and mid twenties when everyone was either getting married, settling down, graduating from college, getting full time jobs, having kids, or all of the above. I knew that life phase was coming, had learned about it in a college class, but it still stung a little. I thought it would pass by the time I turned thirty, but now there's a new wave of friends getting married (or remarried, as the case may be), having kids, getting jobs. Once again I feel left behind.

Logically, I know there is no good reason for this. I am not a huge failure. I am able to pay my own bills, keep my cats fed, and work on my relationships with friends. The only outstanding debt I have is to my parents, since they paid for my school, and hell, I'm even managing to pay them back right now. They are proud of me. My boyfriend is proud of me. My friends are even proud of me.

But none of this changes the fact that I constantly judge myself by society's standards. Sure, more people are getting married and having kids in their thirties. But there is still some stigma to it. It seems like that is only acceptable if you're working hard on your career (and I don't think a part time job counts). I don't want to feel negative about it, I want to be positive and happy for my friends. I have known for most of my life that my internal tune is different, and I thought that I had made peace with that. But I truly did think that I would have kids by now, that I would be on my way through an adoption and fostering process. It hurts to know that having kids might still be a long way off, because I have wanted kids since I was a teenager.

I know that I need to accept this feeling of nostalgic loss in order to move on and grow, but it's proving to be quite the challenge. I know that I will come out stronger for it in the long run. No challenge is presented to us unless the Universe deems us worthy. I just have to find reasons why I love my life (I get to work with kids, my friends let me play with their kids, I can always make my car payments, I only have to worry about feeding myself and my cats), and hold on to them.

This too shall pass, and I'm sure I will miss this life when I'm up all night with a screaming baby of my own.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

30 Things in 30 Years

Today is my birthday!!   I am officially "old" as society dictates, because I am no longer in my 20s (even though I can tell people that I am 22 and they believe me!).  I thought that I would dread this day coming, but I am actually extremely grateful.  I feel so old and mature in so many ways, and yet I feel so incredibly young.

My grandfather is 87 today.  I can't even imagine being 87, much as I could not imagine being 30 when I was 13.  I am so incredibly grateful for all the time that I have been given with him and my grandmother.  I'm sure at that age, it is incredibly easy to realize that every day is a gift.

That's what I want to concentrate on from here on out.  I don't want to focus on the negative things in life, I want to be able to see life as an incredible gift that has been given to me.  I always thought that crossing over into my 30s would be a bridge into something amazing, but now I realize that I have to make that something amazing.

So here are 30 things I have learned in my short life thus far; one for every year of my life.

  1. It's never too late to figure out what you want in life.  I still don't know, and I am trying very hard to revel in the journey along the way.
  2. A child's laughter (especially a kid under the age of 3) is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  It cheers my soul to hear them laughing.
  3. Magic exists.  We just have to believe that it does, because we are capable of wonderful things.
  4. Nature has the power to nourish the soul.  Not only does it provide the food we eat, but even just a short walk in the woods is enough to relax and ground you.
  5. Human beings are essentially good.  This is something that I discovered recently.  A lot of people are capable of heinous acts, but there is so much compassion and love out there too.
  6. You get more of what you focus on.  As I have worked to notice positive things, so my perspective has shifted.  Things that used to irritate me don't bother me anymore.  I am happier and seeing many more acts of kindness than I used to.
  7. Sometimes it takes longer for you to learn to ride a bike than other kids.  This doesn't mean that you're stupid.  Practice riding that bike until you get really good.
  8. Don't be afraid of falling.  Sometimes you fall off your bike a lot.  Sometimes you're 28 and forget how to apply your brakes.  Crap happens.  Just pick yourself up and carry on.
  9. Being tall is like having a superpower.  Not only can you aid your fellow citizens (by reaching things they can't) but it comes with its own kryptonite; buying pants.
  10. Compromising is not easy, but it is possible.  Know when to give in and when to stand your ground.
  11. Other people are less involved in you than they are in themselves.  This doesn't mean they don't care about you or that they're selfish, it just means they're human.
  12. Some of the most heartbreaking moments of my life have expanded my ability to feel joy.
  13. Just because you were 13 once doesn't mean you will be 13 always.
  14. Everyone still feels like an awkward teenager at some point.  Some are just much better at faking their way through it.
  15. School is just a way to pass time in your childhood.  Learning is something that you will do all your life.
  16. Relationships are a LOT more complicated than movies make them out to be.
  17. Alcohol, while it can enhance the fun that you're having, does not correlate directly to the amount of fun being had.  Some of the best nights of my life were alcohol free.
  18. Being friends (or in love) with someone does not mean automatic forgiveness.  You do need to say you're sorry (and mean it!).
  19. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean that it's right for you.  Do not give up on yourself because you're feeling left out.
  20. Family and friends share equal amounts of love in my heart; friends are the family that I have chosen.  
  21. You are ultimately your worst critic because you absorb everyone else's harsh words.  Be kind to someone instead of being critical.
  22. Going with the flow, thinking on your feet, and being confident are three of the greatest skills in life.  It takes a long time to master them.
  23. Sometimes people are awkward teenagers well into their 20s.  Watch out when they find themselves, because they will astound you every time.
  24. Being "nice" and being "kind" are two completely different things.
  25. Manners will enamor you to other people.  Always say please and thank you, especially to people in the service industry.
  26. People who treat you like crap are not worth your time.  If you stand up for yourself, they should not try to knock you back down.
  27. The things that are hardest in life come along to test your resolve.  Do not give in.  Stay true to who you are and you will be rewarded.
  28. Learn to cook.  It doesn't matter if it comes from a box, if it looks gross, if only you like it; as long as you think it's good, you can cook!
  29. Never let anyone pressure you into anything.  If it feels wrong, it probably is.
  30. Worry comes from thinking too much about the future.  The biggest secret is that the future never comes.  We are always in the present.

I am wiping my slate clean.  I am a new person.  I have a feeling that my 30th year of life is going to be incredibly magical.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Words Create Your Reality

I remember one of the best English classes that I ever had.  It was taught by an 83 year old professor, Dr. Matthews.  Despite the fact that he made us read Bartleby the Scrivener, he really helped me to understand that words create your reality.  This wasn't the first time I had heard this; I was probably 23, and I had seen "What the Bleep Do We Know" a couple years earlier.  But it was the first time that I truly understood.

A springtime picture of the college campus I went to.

He spoke about how words are expressions of thoughts, that your language and your interpretation of words defines how you think of things.  So, as an example, he told us that a friend of his never used the word "twilight" to describe what the sun was doing, because said friend thought "twilight" sounded like "toilet".  We all laughed (me especially, since I had just finished reading Breaking Dawn), but he continued to stress this point throughout class.  He basically wanted to impress upon us that metaphors and works of literature mean different things to different people based on personal experience.  Though I really resonated with the idea that words create your reality, I pretty much forgot about this lesson until just recently.

My coach told me the other day to get the word "need" out of my vocabulary.  Instead, I am to replace it with "I deserve".  I laughed because it feels weird for someone with incredibly low self-worth to be spouting off "I deserve to have a better job", or "I deserve to eat healthy today."  But then I remembered Dr. Matthews' lesson, and I started thinking about it.

What do animals (humans are animals) need to survive?  Food.  Water.  Shelter. (Sometimes) community.  And that's pretty much it.

Cats hide in boxes because they are seeking shelter.
 Those are the only things we truly need.  Everything else just enhances our journey across the earth.  Saying "I need" all the time makes it feel like our basic needs are not being met.  It feels like struggle and hardness.  It feels like desperation and lack.  And since you attract the things that you feel, saying "I need" attracts all these things.  I never, ever realized how much I said "I need".  "I need to go to the grocery store."  "I need to get over into the next lane."  "I need to stop worrying."  "I need to keep doing meditation."  Seriously.  Have your significant other or a close friend help you keep track of all the times you say "I need" in one day.  I bet it'll be more than you thought!

I decided to try replacing "I need" with "I deserve" yesterday.  Of course, it was hard to remember.  I started the day, "I need to meditate."  Then I replaced it with "I deserve to meditate."  Doesn't that make a huge difference?  Doesn't the first statement seem wishy and forlorn, whereas the second is more determined and resolute?  I couldn't believe it.  Of course, there were some points that I laughed with how ridiculous it sounded; "I deserve to get over into the next lane!"  "I deserve to go to the grocery store!"  But I also felt empowered.  I felt, for the first time, like I deserved to be the person I always dreamed about becoming.  I felt like it was possible to do all the things that turn me into "Future MJ".  I feel like I have raised my self-worth just by saying "I deserve".

Because when you deserve something, you do all the actions required to feel that way.  This is an incredibly powerful statement change.  Try it for a day and see how you feel at the end.

What things do you deserve?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How to make a Fairy Garden

I made this craft on May 1st, which is May Day.  Interestingly, this is also a day very much associated with fairies.  And since I love fairies, I decided what better way to celebrate with them than to plant a garden!  Fairies love gardens too.

Fairy Garden!
I got this present last year for my birthday.  I didn't plant it then not only because I didn't have time, and I was also worried about keeping plants alive.  I thought I had a black thumb of doom, and maybe I did for a while, but I have since learned how to keep my little green buddies alive.  I eagerly tore into the box and pulled out all the ingredients:
Everything you need!
The directions were the best part of the whole project.  Not only did they explain how to put together the container, but they gave instructions on how to care for the flowers, where to plant them, and why fairies like them.  The best part?  Their fairy mythology was spot on.  It wasn't a frilly Disneyfied Tinkerbell fairy history.  Granted, it also was not the dark and rather scary fairy history either, but it gave good and accurate information.

Step 1: Empty perlite into the bottom of the bin.
I emptied the perlite into the bottom of the potting container, and went looking for potting mix.  Instead of coming with potting mix, the kit came with two dried out-looking hockey pucks.  "What are these?" I asked myself.  Oh, apparently they are germination disks.  The next step said to fill the terrarium base with 4 cups of room temperature water.

One germination disk, before it has absorbed water.
 The only instruction problems that I had was that the perlite floated.  I was worried, since the instructions said it needed to stay at the bottom of the planter for drainage.  But it all worked out in the end.

Germination disk after water absorption.
I managed to scrape most of it off the disks and get it to the bottom of the container.  I don't think it matters that some of it was mixed in with the soil.

My hands got dirty during this process.  I love it.  I can't wait to do more gardening in the summer.  There is just something so satisfying about playing in the dirt, especially when creativity is involved!
Fairy gravel path
 I shaped a little path into the dirt, and even made a fairy mound (you can see it there on the left side).  Then I started to add the fairy gravel.  It came with the tiniest bag, and I thought I would use it all up and still need some more, so I grabbed my own bottles of crystals to add.

Turns out the crystals I added weren't necessary, as I had plenty of gravel to go around.  I added them anyway.  I didn't look up what they meant, I just added them, so here's what Healing Crystals For You says about each one: 

This stone has a distinct energy for strengthening psychic gifts... and will aid you to amplify gifts you already possess. It is also a strong psychic communication stone that will aid the expansion of a range of psychic powers.
Adventurine: Due to the Green Fuchsite within the stone, this lovely green crystal is one of the stones that will help you to make contact with elemental beings. Where you have plants growing will attract the members of the Devic kingdom.

(I didn't get a picture of the peridot that I used.) Using Peridot gemstones will increase your self esteem, and aid you to let go of guilt, felt from past experiences.  It may also help to create an increase in love, joy and bring improved emotional health.

This crystal offers protection from many types of negativity in the environment.
White Moonstone (again, no picture) carries the energy of the new moon at the height of its power, stimulating psychic perception, vision and dream work.

Super cool, right?  I totally didn't know what any of these crystals did before I tossed them on the fairy path, but I'm glad I chose these.  I'm sure the fairies that live with me are glad I chose them too!  I have no doubt that the plants will feed off this amazing mix of energies as they grow.

The glow-in-the-dark fairy came with the kit; I added some extra marbles and stones for decoration.
According to the directions, I had to decorate first, figure out where I wanted to put everything, and then plant my seeds.  I decided to find some more stones and some other decorations.  "Who wants to come live in my fairy terrarium?" I yelled, as I dug through my stone collection.  I found way more stones than I actually needed, since the terrarium is only about six inches in diameter.

I like the way it turned out; the gravel looks like a path, the thing in the middle looks like a bird bath!
I set my fairy up on the mound so that she could look out of the terrarium once everything was set up.  Then I gave her a "crystal ball" to gaze upon too.  The orange stone in the center right is a herkimer diamond, which are supposed to attract fairies as well.  I put away the stones I didn't use with an apology; but maybe I'll stick them out with my other plants once it's warm enough to put them on the balcony.

Then it was time to plant my seeds.  The kit came with four different types; Great Blue Lobelia, Clover, Thyme, and Evening primrose.

Tiny seeds!
Look at how dang small these seeds are!  I tossed all of them in the soil for good measure.  There were only four clover seeds, and they were barely twice this size.  It is amazing to think that everything a flower needs to grow is contained in something so small.

Then I put the seed markers near where I planted them.  I decided to keep them separated so they will grow in orderly patches.  I can always adjust, or maybe get more different seeds!
The dew of evening primroses gives fairies their magic powers of invisibility.
Evening Primrose went right next to my fairy, right on top of the mound where she can gather the dew as she pleases.  These plants like moist, well-drained soil and cooler weather (they are a spring flower after all).  Apparently they emit a phosphorescent light at night while blooming.  How cool is that?!

Lobelia attracts hummingbirds as well as fairies.
Great Blue Lobelia attracts good fairies to your garden.  I have to remember to remove the flowers after they have completed blooming.  They also like cooler weather.

Thyme will help to see fairies, but also can protect one from fairy mischief.
Thyme!  The boyfriend has thyme planted in his container garden.  Apparently in the 1600s, Scottish Highlanders would drink thyme tea to prevent nightmares.  It is considered to be a magical herb that is used in love spells (which is obviously why it's a staple in French cooking).  To prevent it from becoming woody, trim the flowers off once they have bloomed.  Hmm.  Not sure if I would want a woody plant in my terrarium or not.  We shall have to do some more research and find out!

Clover is a sacred fairy plant known to attract a variety of fairies.
I think clover is most associated with leprechauns (the wee folk!).  Four leaf clovers are known to break fairy spells.  I remember one summer at summer camp I found tons of four leaf clovers.  Nary a one before or since.  I like to believe that was the summer of magic. Apparently clover will germinate in a week and is easy to sprout.  I hope it takes over the spot that I planted it!

Then I watered my seeds (sprinkled water over the dirt with my fingers) and slapped the lid on.  Mini ecosystems are so cool!

A fully planted fairy garden, ready for some sunlight!!
And there you have it.  If you don't have your own kit, don't worry.  You can use lots of different things to make your own fairy gardens.  There are a lot of different plants that attract fairies too; a good rule of thumb is that if butterflies like it, fairies like it.

Don't worry too much if your first plants die on you.  Mine did that for the longest time.  Sometimes experience is really the best cure.  But it's hard to grow from seeds, so maybe it's a good idea to start with some little plants from Lowes first, just to build your confidence.

Happy planting!