Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Like to Believe it's Magic

I hit all the green lights on the way home from the store yesterday.  All of them.  I started thinking about how nice it would be to just get home, and so I decided to manifest that energy.  And I did it.  I couldn't believe it.

Call it coincidence if you like, but for me, there is no such thing as coincidence.  I firmly believe, through evidence garnered over the past seven months, that we do indeed create our own realities.

I started the year in a pretty bad place.  I was working two part time jobs, and barely making ends meet every month, even though I was working a total of 45 hours between the two places.  Misery permeated me.  This may have had something to do with working a drive through in terribly chilly weather (I am a flamingo, not a penguin!), but I wasn't happy.  I loved the people that I worked with, but I really disliked the job (working in food service is about as awesome as you think).  I continued down in this negative spiral, and because of this, my toes kept ramming themselves into doorjambs, cat litter trays, baseboards... pretty much anything that had a corner, my toes would find it.  This was a daily occurrence, sometimes a multiple daily occurrence.

Then one day, I walked into a cat litter tray hard enough to break my little toe.  I couldn't walk on it that night, I could barely walk the next couple days.  Broken toes hurt.  If you've never had one, you have no idea how much you use your feet every day, just by walking.  All the ligaments and tendons and muscles in your feet are connected.  I was relegated to crutches for at least a week, and I couldn't work at Starbucks with crutches.

I managed to get two blessed weeks off of my Starbucks job.  I didn't have to go to bed with the sun, or rise in the pitch-blackness of January's 4am.  I didn't have to monitor my caffeine intake after 2:00pm for fear that I wouldn't get to sleep at 9:00 (sleep is extremely important to me).

I decided to try something new.  I'd been dabbling with the Law of Attraction since I saw "What the Bleep Do We Know?", and had read The Secret recently, and started following Teal Swan and Abraham Hicks on Youtube, but never truly applied the concepts to my life.  So I decided to start.  Because I was unable to see all the things I was truly grateful for, I decided that I wanted to being a gratitude journal.

I began writing in it on January 18th, 2015, and wrote in it religiously, every night before I went to sleep.  I wrote down what feelings I was experiencing or had experienced throughout the day, as well as 10 things I was grateful for.  They started off as being "in the moment" things, like how much I enjoyed getting kitty kisses, or how warm my blankets were in the cold room.  That was fine, because I literally could not see the bigger things.  I was blinded by my own negativity.

Over time, it got easier.  That's because I literally rewired my brain.

We tend to get caught up in a negativity spiral.  It's easy.  You're having a bad day because Starbucks ran out of Pumpkin Spice.  You had to wait in the drive through line.  Someone cuts you off in traffic on the way to work.  Your supervisor is a hard-ass and wants you to work extra hard.  Your significant other gets mad because you have to work late.  Your cat pukes on your favorite shoes.  Everyone on Facebook is having a magnificent time in their perfect lives.  You stub your toe getting into bed.  You're in a foul mood when you go to sleep, so you're probably not in the best of moods when you wake up.  Then it happens all over again.

Even the news does this.  Negative headlines draw more people than fluffy and positive ones. If you are talking with your friend, and said friend starts complaining, you begin to complain too.  You commiserate together (my Starbucks friends and I did this a lot whenever we were out together off work time).  It's easier to see the bad things and dwell upon that mood than it is to change your brain and look for the good things.

But now, because I have been noticing more and more positivity in my life, I have come to acquire more and more positivity in my life.  Even though my car got totaled in June, I kept my sense of humor.  I tried to think of positive things.  Even though that day seemed like it would undo me, I pushed onwards.  If I let myself get caught up in the bad feelings, I would never break free.  It wasn't easy.  Dealing with releasing negative things never is.  But I have overcome a lot.

Does that mean that I am 100% happy and positive all the time, no matter what?  Hell no, I'm not a robot, I'm a dang human!  But I do consider myself, over all, a happier and more positive person now than I did even three months ago.

So what does this all have to do with getting all the green traffic lights?  It's easy.  The happier you are, the more good things you attract to you.  We are like magnets (although I really, really hate this analogy because magnetic poles attract opposite magnetic poles so it doesn't work in this situation but I haven't been able to think of a better comparison yet); we attract things to us.  Have you ever heard "Your vibe attracts your tribe"?  Why do you think celebrities hang out with other celebrities and millionaires with other millionaires?  It's not just that they have things in common to talk about.  It's that the brain waves they put off, their "vibration" is attracting those others to them.  So if you put out good vibes into the universe, you get good vibes back.  And once you start turning those vibes into intentions, you get the manifestation of those intentions.

So I was feeling good coming home from the store yesterday, and decided that I wanted only green lights at the seven traffic lights between me and my apartment.  And I got seven green lights in a row.

We are all magical like this.  You just have to believe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I tried to do a 30 Day Yoga Challenge.  I failed, completely and utterly about a week into it  Not because I hate yoga or because it's not for me, but because I keep making excuses.  I keep thinking, "Oh, I can do it later," or "Oh look, eight seasons of Bones on Netflix!  Let's power watch as many episodes as humanly possible!"

My boyfriend once told me, "Everyone wants to have lost weight, no one wants to lose weight."  At this point though, I'm not terribly concerned with weight.  Weight is only relationship of my body to this gravitational source.  I don't weigh myself regularly, especially because my weight can fluctuate as much as 10 pounds every day, depending on what I eat and how much water I drink.

Right now, I am more concerned with becoming strong.  If only I was perfect at yoga and it wasn't so damn hard to Chatarunga (literally cannot bear that much weight on my arms, so I tend to not-so-gracefully flop to the floor like a dolphin hopping onto the landing pad at Sea World).

Yep.  That's familiar. (Link is to picture source)
I am more concerned with surviving an eventual zombie apocalypse than whether I ever weigh 175 pounds (add about 20 pounds to that and that's where my average is).  And even that concern is outweighed by the great Void which is the Internet.  Hmm, Facebook?  Netflix?  Pinterest?  This is not healthy, I know.  I have tried to limit my TV intake, but horrid habits are hell to break.

What about doing yoga or exercises while the TV is on?  I was doing all right with that when I was marathoning Scrubs for the third time, but if there is a show or movie I haven't seen before, I tend to pay more attention to it than I do to my workouts.  So I end up lying on the floor and watching TV.  Bust.

This wouldn't be so bad, but I have translated this into my writing as well.  I am finding more and more alternatives to writing my own novels, poetry, blog posts, you name it.  I long for the last days of my undergraduate degree when I didn't have Netflix or even cable, just the same old, tired shows and movies that I had watched more than a few times.  I was writing like crazy, due to 16 credit hours of English classes, and all I can remember is the fun that I was having.  Sure, I hated Shelley (I mean hated everything by him except "Ozymandias"), and I really didn't do much for my American Lit survey.  But when I think about that point in my life, I realize that I was pretty well balanced.

A friend of mine introduced me to the idea of the medicine wheel, and this is something that I have been thinking about more and more lately.  There are four quadrants, and each represents a part of existence.  North is mental, East is spiritual, South is emotional, West is physical.

Note how the cardinal directions complement each other.  South is ruled by emotions and is balanced by the North, the practical and mental.  Your physical being balances your spiritual being.  Spirit and emotion cannot exist without balance from physical and mental aspects as well.

No wonder I was so balanced that last quarter of college.  I was mentally engaged in reading poems, writing papers and relearning French.  I was physically active by riding my bike at least three miles (round trip) to class, and I even worked out on occasion at home (because it was easy).  I was emotionally stable because I had friends to rely on (although here, I remember I was chasing after a guy I had no business to even be interested in, but I'm pretty sure that was just me working out my emotional baggage).  And I was spiritually active because of said friend who introduced me to this concept.  I had everything working for me, no side really outweighed each other.  Sure, I was stressed from taking 20 credit hours and working 20 hours at a fast food job, had little to no money, and didn't always eat the best food, but I felt incredibly accomplished when that quarter was over.  I had done it, I had kicked butt at it.  I'd even achieved all A's and B's in all my classes (despite a couple questionably long absences from a few of them).

I have to think of some way to hold myself accountable; I don't want to get up super early in the morning to go and work out.  I want to be able to ride my bike and not worry that crazy Columbus drivers will try to run me off the road (there I go, making excuses again).  I need to get off my butt and get into a Sun Salutation. (There I go using the words "want" and "need" again.  Didn't I write a blog post on how you shouldn't do that?  Oh yeah, I did.)

This is my current conundrum (poetry book title, aaah, I should so use that!).  Despite my positive headspace, I am not really in a positive action space yet.  I really do deserve to be there.  Perhaps that should be my affirmation for the next few weeks; "I deserve it."  I wonder how that statement will draw the determined lady out of this unbalanced dolphin?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Nature Walk

This summer has been so incredibly rainy.  I have no problem with thunderstorms; in fact, there is nothing I love more than sitting on the back deck and watching the dark clouds roll in across an otherwise bright sky.  Mmm, that dark bank of clouds that shrouds the world in darkness, then flash . . . KABOOM! and the heavens open up.  But if it's just a piddling little rain shower, I get antsy and claustrophobic, especially if there are so many days in a row of them.

That's why, when the sun comes out, I get outside.  It doesn't matter if there's just a tiny hole punched in a cloud with the barest flirt of blue sky shining through; as long as there is a sunbeam nearby, I go outside.

On the 17th, we had a nice little thundershower followed by a bright burst of sunshine. (Note.  All these pictures were taken then, as I had intended to write this blog post on that day.  Here we are, nine days later, and I have just now gotten around to writing this dang thing.  This should give you a glimpse into the incredible procrastination that is my life right now.)  I had been stuck in the office all day so I immediately ran outside, determined to go on a nature walk.

Remember in spring, when I said that a naturalist will probably say whatever season they're in is their favorite season?  Nope.  I very much disliked summer on this day.  Why? you might ask?


I had completely discounted the fact that mosquitos will swarm anything that moves right after a rainfall.  So I ended up putting my shirt over my face in an attempt to ward off those mini hell beasts.

Not perfect, but not getting eaten!
The place that I went walking has a nice enclosed and wooded pathway with plenty of standing water puddles for those bloodsuckers to breed in.  They still swarmed, but I only ended up with three bites.  Hooray!! (I also had the foresight to wear jeans that day, hooray!)

This box elder maple tree already has its seeds formed!  Maple trees have a double "helicopter" seed, which is why, even though this tree has a compound leaf that looks nothing like a maple, it's still in the maple family.

I can't wait for fall to come so I can start tossing them into the air.  Whee!
Do you see the background, how it's so much more lush and full than it was in spring?  No off-roading for me today, unfortunately.  Not without a severe threat of poison ivy.

Then I saw the horse chestnut tree (or is it a buckeye?).  Remember the pink cone-shaped flowers?  This is the nut that they produce!  The inside of the spiny shell is a buckeye nut.  No, you can't eat it, and no, it doesn't taste like peanut butter and chocolate.  Those are candy, this is a real nut.  They will probably be ripe come August.

Horse chestnuts!
I will have to remember to pick some of these in the fall to show everyone, because they're pretty cool.

Queen Anne's Lace is out in abundance at this time of the year.  Also known as wild carrot, this flower sports a long taproot that can be eaten.  Just be wary; it can easily be confused with poison hemlock, which is what a lot of settlers died from.

Queen Anne's Lace

 You can really see how the green plants are taking over the underbrush.  This happens every year around this time, which is the second reason I like spring better; I can go off the path and gallivant around in the woods without worrying that I've wandered into a deadly bog of mosquitoes.

I do like summer though.  Sometimes I like to pretend that I am wandering through a jungle.  An hour after rainfall and it's probably not far from what a real jungle would feel like; air so humid it's thick as soup, the threat of malaria, an orangutan demanding the secret of fire.

The "Jungle"
Well, okay, there was no orangutan this time, but I did see two fawns with spots still on their butts crash through the undergrowth.  I tried to catch them on camera but was too distracted the first time and not expecting the second one.  Sigh.  This is why I like plants so much; they don't really move!

 Speaking of wild edibles, I found this delightful plant snagging at my jeans as I hurried on my desperate-to-be-free-from-mosquitoes way.  I felt hungry, and I wanted to pop some of these refreshing-looking berries into my mouth.  Leaves of three, let it be?  Pshaw, you're too timid.

As you should be!  Never, ever, ever eat anything that you're not 100% sure what it is.  Poison ivy does indeed have leaves of three, and it also has red berries.  However, it does not have thorns, and these leaves are too serrated to be poison ivy.  This is black raspberry (their stems are square, whereas blackberry is round and has a whitish powder over top) and is perfectly safe to eat.  But I like to leave some food for wildlife, so I left it be.  Besides, the berries weren't ripe yet and would have been awfully bitter.

Then I found my favorite plant.  I know, I probably have about twenty favorite plants.  But this one is my most favorite out of all of them.  Not only does it have some medicinal qualities, it has the best seeds ever.
Spotted touch-me-not
Jewelweed!  Also known as touch-me-not, this little plant packs a great punch against poison ivy.  Its sap contains miracle juice that helps to relieve itchy bug bites or poison ivy rashes.  You just have to be careful when picking it because it grows in the same places as poison ivy (Ay, there's the rub).  The seeds are tightly packed explosion packets in the fall; one touch can send the seeds ricocheting in any direction.  I love to find this plant in the fall and yell "boing!" whenever I release the seed capsules.  Hours of entertainment.

No seeds were there for me this time, and a miasma of mosquitoes flew out at me from where the jewelweed sat, so I hurried away, hoped that the heat of the sun would chase the little buggers off.

No such luck.  So instead, I turned my attention back to the plants, and found this interesting little bug happily sunning himself on a stand of milkweed.

Isn't he a cutie?  I have no idea what he is; probably one of the 40-something species of specialized milkweed eaters.  He's the same color as a monarch butterfly though, did you notice that? (there are a couple of different colored beetles in the flowers . . . and they're doing it.  Shhh, you'll embarrass them!)

Milkweed is so named because of the milky sap that flows out when you break a leaf off.  I have read that it is edible, however, the same toxins that make monarch butterflies taste yucky to predators will eventually make you sick, so I don't recommend eating it.  Once it hardens in the fall, the fibrous material inside can be harvested and made into rope.

There, you're one step ahead of your neighbor should the zombie apocalypse hit us.

As I was leaving the park, ushered out by my brand new mosquito BFFs, I saw a bird fly into a tree.  Since I missed out on catching the fawns on camera, I decided to try to catch this bad boy.

I'm not even mad that he decided to show me his butt.  I got a picture of a songbird, something I've been trying to do all year.  Unfortunately, he did not come and save me from my mosquito friends, so I had to flee to the relative safety of my car.

Still, it was a pretty good summer nature walk.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Magnetic Clarity

I got a job offer today.  I knew that I would, knew I was a shoe-in.  No one can resist my enthusiasm, let alone people who work at a camp.  (I am an enthusiasm plague.)  The job was for a position that would assist with off-season programming like high ropes, low ropes, nature walks, all sorts of science-y programs for schoolkids, plus a living history underground railroad program where the kids get to be slaves on the underground railroad and see what it was really like.  I was able to visit the camp grounds during the interview and get a tour of the place, see what it would be like to work there.  I got so excited because this job was so right up my alley and I really, really wanted to accept.

I could teach kids all about this pine tree, which is what I love to do!
I turned it down.
If you've read this blog or you know me, you're probably thinking, "What?" I know, I even surprised myself.
The pay wasn't what I needed, and the commute was pretty long (hour and a half).  Still, I thought about maybe trying to do it anyway, since it was a full time gig, which is way better than my current job.  I honestly wanted to just throw caution to the wind and do whatever makes me deliriously happy.  But I couldn't do it.
As I drove home today, I was reminded of a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Kelli Cooper.  She does a lot of blogging about the Law of Attraction (if you don't know what that is, look into it because it's amazing).  I read her post called Signs What You Want is On the Way a while ago, set it on the back burner, and only remembered it today, after I got a voicemail from the camp, asking me if I wanted the position.
I fretted over this decision for a good long time, thought that if I turned it down, I would be telling the Universe that I valued money, my boyfriend, my apartment in Ohio more than I valued the kind of work I would be able to do.   Luckily, it doesn't work like that.

Kelli says, "Ah, the ‘almost’ manifestations. These can really start to mess with your mind. You set an intention to get something, and you attract a situation that is not quite what you wanted. It has some good points, but there are some elements that don’t sit quite well."
That 100% describes this situation.  I realized, as I thought over Kelli's blog post, that I get to choose.  That this means that the Universe is bringing me close to what I want, and I get to decide the specifics.  I get to choose whether or not to take the long commute and not perfect pay.  If I chose not to take the job, I would be sending a signal to the Universe which says, "Thank you, but this is not exactly what I want".

She goes on to say, "You are creating your reality, and as such, you get to decide whether something that pops in is something you want or something you don’t. You get to be discerning. There is never just one shot, or one opportunity. There are infinite.  When you start manifesting stuff like this, it shows you are moving closer for sure."
I liken this situation to a rainbow.  (Yay metaphors!)
See how it's brighter in the dark clouds?
 So I'm at the mid-point of the rainbow in this picture.  Even though I might feel like this job is what I want, it's not exactly what I want.  I have to slide down the rainbow clarifying as I go in order to get exactly what I want.  Only then will it show up clearly in my life.  Also the slide will get faster and faster, until I crash-land in the trees (which, let's face it, is exactly where I want to be).

All this momentum that I'm building is so darn exciting.

Oh, by the way, I did get another offer, to work for an outdoorsy preschool as their number one substitute teacher this fall.  And that one I did accept, without hesitation.

Everything happens for a reason.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Itchy Hell Bites and Bodywash

When I was a teenager, I worked at a summer camp.  It was a beautiful place, and the summers were so much fun that I tend to gloss over the uglier facts of what it was like to work there.  As the months march later and later into July and August, and especially since this June was so rainy, I am reminded of the only big reason that I disliked the job.


Little hell biters, I called them.  They buzzed in my ear, they bit me everywhere.  Everywhere.  In six years of working at summer camps, there is literally not one square inch on my body I did not get bitten.  Eyelids.  Bellybutton (yes, I have an innie).  Buttcheeks.  Toes, fingers, armpits.  Name a body part.  Yep, got one there.  I actually counted my bites before I went to camp one year.  During staff week, I managed 161 mosquito bites.  In just a week.  And I was wearing mosquito repellent.  Granted, it does wear off during the course of the day, and I usually put it on in the mornings.  Then came hiking and sweating and pool time, so by dinner, I was infested again.

Luckily, in 2004, halfway through my last year working at Scout camp, my mom gave me a different kind of body wash.  I don't remember much about it except that it was green and had a very, very light scent.  I think it may have been cucumber mint.  I started using that and immediately the mosquito bites dropped off.  It could have been because of the weather (I don't remember if 2004 was more rainy or dry), but I'd never experienced this before.

According to Wikipedia, "Typically, both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and plant juices, but in many species the mouthparts of the females are adapted for piercing the skin of animal hosts and sucking their blood."  Hmm, interesting, isn't it?  Both male and female mosquitoes drink nectar.  But only the females are the ones that drink blood because, "Both plant materials and blood are useful sources of energy in the form of sugars, and blood also supplies more concentrated nutrients, such as lipids, but the most important function of blood meals is to obtain proteins as materials for egg production."  Basically, females mosquitoes need to suck your blood in order to lay eggs because the proteins in blood are good for making eggs.

I never knew that male mosquitoes drank nectar until college, but it wasn't until a few years ago, when I started working outside in mosquito-drenched vernal pools that I finally put two and two together.  I had just gone to the Body Shop and gotten a honeysuckle scrub.  Needless to say, I was eaten alive.  I read up on what attracts mosquitoes.  Apparently, body wash is not taken into account on most sites, although perfume is.  But if you're buying things because you like that the scent sticks around for a while (ie Bath and Body Works), isn't that basically the same thing as perfume?

This doesn't mean switching your body wash will 100% get rid of all the mosquitoes in your life.  After all, according to WebMD, 85% of what attracts mosquitoes is genetic.  But it could help reduce the amount of bites you receive.  I am not completely immune to them; I have about five bites from two days of playing outside with kids.  But that's about 20 less than I would have received from summer camp, and it's also without using DEET repellent (which is the only thing that used to work before).

I use Alba Botanica's Sparkling Mint body wash.  I have also used Avalon Organics Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner.  These work for me and my body chemistry.  I have also used a mixture of peppermint oil and coconut oil as a repellent, when I went back to visit the Scout camp I used to work at.  Four bites, when I was expecting at least twenty.

Obviously this body wash hypothesis of mine needs more research, so sciencey people, get out there and do it!  I don't exactly have the resources or facilities to perform such an experiment.  Let me know what your results are!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Do Something You Love

I have loved Renaissance Faires ever since I went to my first one at 17 years old.  A friend of mine couldn't believe that I had never gone, and so talked me into attending with her.  We watched a mud show, a sword fighting show and a joust.  Everything was amazing, from the costumes to the shops, and even the food.  I went back nearly every year.

Now, I have two friends who regularly work faires; one is in a guild that works one specific location, and other travels around, gets to be a fairy and help decorate others with henna at different faires.  Every time they speak of their experiences, I get a pang of jealousy.  I told myself in college that I didn't have time to work and go to school and find a way to be a part of the Renaissance Faire.  I didn't have the talent or the money to acquire costumes.  I kept telling myself "I can't".

My feelings toward working at a Renaissance Faire are deeply tied into my feelings for working for a summer camp; at least for the monetary aspect.  "I can't afford it" regularly crosses through my mind.  But it has become clear to me, very clear, in the past few months, that I should not be working for money.  That is acceptable for others to do, but not for me.  I should be working for the love of something, and money will follow.  This is an incredibly hard rationale for me to make, especially with all the images and ideas toward that society throws at us.  But I've always sort of known that I would never be happy unless I was doing something that I loved.

I've never loved anything, except summer camp, like I love Renaissance Faires.  I mean, you get to step back in history for a day (except without all the gross hygiene and plague issues).  It's the best of both worlds.  Anyone can be whatever they want; princesses, noblemen, wenches, bellydancers, scullery maids, even fairies and furries.  I have loved the outfits of Renaissance faires for a long time.  Seeing others in costumes just makes me want to don long dresses and bodices and run around like a crazy person.  And every kind of costume is accepted at a Ren Faire.

So now all I have to do is convince myself that "I can."  I am a creative person, I can figure a way to design or sew my own clothes.  I can wrap my own jewelry.  I can talk to my friends about how they got started doing what they do.  If it's something I love, something I have wanted to do ever since I was a teenager, then why should I keep blocking myself from doing it?