Lori Dake

Lori Dake is the founder of the "Clip for the Troops" campaign hosted by the Pagan Newswire Collective, which sends coupons to adopted military posts and bases overseas. Its purpose is to help military families in these locations stretch their budgets while facilitating positive Pagan awareness without proselytizing in any way. The idea is to collectively extend help nationwide as simple ordinary, good people out to do good the most direct and efficient ways possible. Lori has written for Warriors & Kin at least once each week since its inception on Beltane 2010. Each article presented provides a glimpse into her home life as well as various news and information Pagans involved with, or interested in, the military may find useful.

Mar 222014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! As I had mentioned to some, today’s posting is an important message. Yesterday, I read the following on my Facebook feed from PNC’s Facebook page:

We have an announcement of some sad news everyone: the technical difficulties that have plagued the site finally overcame my ability to fix them a few weeks ago and myself and the other volunteers helping to keep the PNC online have decided that we’re going to wind down our operations.

I’ll be helping to keep those blogs and bureaus that want to continue to produce content going during the transition so this doesn’t necessarily mean that the blogs and bureaus that you’ve been able to access here are going to completely disappear, only that the super-feed from the main PNC site is going to go away.

Thanks for your many years of support and I’ll continue to keep you informed during the changes regarding new sites that come online.

I already know that a few of the authors are going to continue writing over at the Patheos Pagan channel, so if you don’t already “like” and follow that site, now is probably a good time to do so!

- Dashifen

To color me surprised is one thing, but this just made me sad. So I started asking around what I needed to do. After talking to a few people, I made the decision that today would be the last post I write here.

But!!! This isn’t the end! No way! There really aren’t a whole lot of people covering the military side of Paganism, so I wouldn’t just do that. Some of you may recall last year I was asked to periodically write articles for PaganSquare which is run by the good people who bring us Witches and Pagans and SageWoman magazines. Considering SageWoman has been out 25 years now, that should make folks feel pretty confident in their dedication toward keeping news not just happening but remembered for all time.

One thing you will notice is I won’t be posting on the military news quite as often, perhaps only once a month. There will be some structure set in place so that each article will be specifically written in regards to news that involves Pagan military. But, because Anne Newkirk Niven (the main lady in charge of those wonderful magazines and PaganSquare!!) and I talked in depth over the phone on what it is I do each week, she felt it should be continued but split in two. That means I will indeed be posting each Saturday as always, but in two different areas. The latter will be for an upcoming feature on PaganSquare which is tentatively entitled Chicago Witch. I’ve lived here all my life, my parents grew up here, their parents, and their parents, too. I’ve been told I even have the Dennis Farina/Superfans accent. (Da Bearz!) And, I’ve been Pagan now for nearly twenty years, so the two together makes perfect sense. Okay Anne, no problem. I’m on it.

Also, I was emailed a copy of every post I’ve ever written here on Warriors & Kin. Anne asked I sort through them, and she will put up the “evergreen” articles for remembrance for all time. And here I thought I was going to have a leisurely weekend for a change. Nope!

So, while I won’t be posting here anymore, you will certainly be able to find me and my articles, be they for a military slant or a personal one, on PaganSquare – alongside over 150 other wonderful contributors who are all also Pagan. It’s a good thing to know when a door closes a window is always open, especially when the window is a pretty big one.

Thank you all in advance for continuing to read my articles and valuing my writing the last four years. You’re all awesome people. So as always, take care, and many blessings to you and yours!

Mar 152014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! This week has been a crazy one. It started with gorgeous, then an ice storm, then cold, then gorgeous and today – just a little below normal. Ostara is Thursday, so Winter needs to back the eff off already! I’ve been seeing green grass in spots, those tiny little nubs have popped up on the tree branches and the song birds have returned. So yes, I’m good and ready for putting my winter coat in the back closet – right next to the Yule decorations.

I’m not the only person who’s noticed the change in weather, because this week has been crazy busy for me. I signed a lease last night, I have another lease signing today, plus I have three applications on different apartments pending approval. People are really starting to come out of the woodwork, because my phone just won’t stop ringing. It’s a lot better than February, where I made my personal goal, but our broker was starting to get antsy. The truth of the matter is, February was ridiculously cold, and yeah, the entire month was under a Mercury retrograde. It was what it was, but now things are going into overdrive! And too, because I feel I’ve been doing this long enough, I feel pretty good about opening up a FB page about it. So if you’re interested, click here.

Oh, and there’s one other lease signing that happened on Wednesday, and it was the easiest one I’ve ever done. The place is a 1BR/1BA gut rehab, about 500 sq ft (so yeah, big bedroom and living room), still in progress (so everything will be brand new), with all utilities included, plus laundry in the building, at the Belmont Craigin/Portage Park neighborhood border – going for $695/mo. Oh, and the street parking is superb, it’s near lots of public transportation and grocery stores, plus the landlord is my favorite client – so yes, he’s a very good landlord. Sounds pretty nice, right? It’s glassblock windows too, so that’s a strong indication of central air, since there’s no way to put in window units. (In Chicago, central air is a big deal, and free heat is an even bigger one!)

The person who got the apartment… is Ryan! We’ve been waiting for so long for just the right place to come along, and Ryan got a raise the night before that. Not bad for a first apartment, eh? I remember my first apartment: It was a 2-room studio (separate galley kitchen and bath) above a 2-car garage, so that alone tells you how small it was. And, it was very 70s too, with tangerine cupboards and dark brown carpeting. Plus, there was a high iron content in the water, so the bathroom sink and tub were pure rust. I remember it took an entire bottle of Lime Away to make them white again. But it was MY space, and it went for $320/mo for all utilities including basic cable, so it was awesome for me. I tell ya – kids these days! They don’t have our struggles. Ha!

Once Ryan moves into his new apartment (and yeah, stress on the word NEW! Jeez!), we’ll be able to have our living room back, since that’s where he’s been camping out. But more importantly, Ron and I will once again be empty nesters and have to readjust to it just being the two of us again. The first time he went away was to go to the Army, and the second time, he moved in with grandma and chis cousin. But this time, it’s different, as the space is all his. (Yes, that means he can have girls over anytime he wants.) And, the main boss and his supervisor at his company really like him, too, so he’s lined up for several different promotions as they become available. We’re very proud of him!

Now because I’m in that area a lot, there’s a part of me that’s going to want to “pop in” and see if he needs anything. He doesn’t have a car yet, as he’s spending his savings on furniture first, so he’ll be hoofing it to the grocery store. I know, he can do this, but I like to be helpful. And, I told him with Mother’s Day in a couple of months, I’m expecting him to invite us over for a nice dinner. That’s plenty of time to get situated and learn his way around the kitchen more. (Which, it’s a lofty, modern layout, so the kitchen opens up to the living space, meaning there’s plenty of room for a kitchen island, and that one actually converts into a small breakfast bar.) No, no. Pull it back in. He can do his own shopping and pick out his own furniture.

Okay, well, that’s about all the time I have this week. I wish you all a wonderful first day of Spring! Take care, and many blessings to you and yours.

Mar 082014

tulips snow
I’m back, bitches!
(Wait. Would tulips say that? Yeah, they would!)

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! And yes, it’s a happy one indeed! My birthday celebration last Saturday was awesome. What’s funny too is the next morning when Ryan went to work, he took the paper crown and pennant to work, having people there run around and play with it. So while he was playing off as “too cool for school” while we were there, he sure had no problem being goofy around his peers. Ain’t that how things go?

Also, a couple days ago, I heard the cardinal’s Spring song, and yesterday, just about all the ice and snow melted! Sure, we’ll be getting some flakes up and down for the next couple of weeks, but every weather forecast I’m seeing has us teetering between 30 and 50F. Yes! It’s over! It’s over! It’s over!

This has been an especially hard winter on everyone. Except Florida. Eff you, Florida! (No, no. Take it back. You’re all right, Florida. Sometimes.) But seriously, I really am sick of Winter and am so glad to see the frost-bitten bags packing. It’s kind of like a house guest you reluctantly allowed to crash, only because you felt sorry for him, and then he greatly overstayed his welcome and took advantage of your hospitality. Get a job, Winter and GTFO!

And for the last time, get your damned shoes off my couch!

Needless to say, with Spring finally in the air, my spirit has been going into overdrive planning for warm days ahead – namely for seeing everyone again at PSG. I’ve been painting my tail off for my vending booth, plus I’ve been working extra hard so as to not worry about missing a week of work while I’m there. And, our annual visit with our CPA yesterday went well, too! And what’s funny about that is how I always get anxious about meeting with him, only to leave in a good mood – almost making me happy about paying taxes (no, no refunds for us). If our guy can do that, then yeah, he’s definitely worth the hour drive each way.

One painting idea I have on my list is specifically for our Warriors. There are a million directions I can take with that – incorporating Paganism with military service – but which one? As I posted a couple weeks ago, I want to do something special to be donated to the raffle, but I need your help with solidifying an idea and transferring it to canvas. Please take a moment to think about that and suggest an idea to me! I’d really appreciate it!

Now before people start thinking all I write is fluff these days, I did of course want to put in my two cents on what’s going on in Russia. First off: Crimea. What’s that/Where’s that? How do you pronounce it? (This meme helps and is a groaner.) Why should we care?

I’ve heard of it, thanks to this song, and I of course deemed it cool. The lyrics are brutal, natch, which of course I can sing (badly) note for note into my hair brush with an awful English accent. So back in the 80′s, before Teh Interwebz, I read an interview in a magazine, the kinds I used to cut the band pics out of and stick on my wall (it was in Rip! if I’m not mistaken), about what the song was about – and I actually looked it up at a library – and not for school stuff. Seriously. No shit. Dewey Decimal System and everything! LOL! That’s what we had to do back then. (This quickie article kind of explains what the Crimean War even was for all you young whipper snappers these days.) We Americans, we weren’t taught this in high school, as our timeline was focused on leading up to the Civil War (we got our own problems, doncha know). So, in my case, media to make it cool to learn about politics and war to the rescue! Yeah!

This is all you need to know about the Crimean War. It was bad ass in a brutal, massive loss of life sort of way. - Media

This is all you need to know about the Crimean War. It was bad ass in a brutal, massive loss of life sort of way. And no, this is not the Civil War, in spite of the cannons and swords in the background, because there’s a Union Jack flag, okay?
Sincerely, 80′s Pop Culture

Anyway, so cool – so the Crimean War was a bad ass war most Americans never even heard about, that set off a major chain of events of wars we actually have heard about (thanks to lots of movies and comic books) and which of those we deemed bad ass – because we won. USA! USA! USA! Got it. Crimea itself is a place most Americans probably didn’t know even existed until a couple months ago, due to scattered press mixed in with dual toilets at the Olympics. Duly noted; fair enough. So now why again are Americans supposed to give a shit about what’s going on over there? And whatever happened to that North Korea guyKim Dong Long* or whatever? Shouldn’t we be keeping tabs on him because of shit like this?

Welll… an easy answer is history can and will repeat itself if given the opportunity, usually due to apathy and/or ignorance. And yes, we should still be concerned about everything else going on in the world, because hey, we might have to get involved. The Me and Mine philosophy prevails, though I tweak it to Me and Mine first. Oh, and hey, if the President cares, that usually means we should pay attention. Now back to my two cents – what’s that? Honestly, I haven’t formed one fully, other than Putin needs to leave those people alone to do what they want to do and stop being pissy about it. But with the way he looks past the treatment of the gay community, which is widely assumed because he endorses it, leaving people alone to live and be happy is not on his agenda.

Well folks, I have showings starting bright and early this morning, and I’m still sitting here in my jersey and panties, so I need to get a move on! Thanks again for reading, and many blessings to you and yours!

* (Somewhat?) UnPC penis envy/dick jokes. Yes, I went there.

Mar 012014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! And as I mentioned last week, today is my 40th birthday, and I’m so gigged about going out tonight! Even the ATM wished me a happy birthday this week, which was nice and kind of creepy at the same time. (It will be really creepy when it starts commenting on my hair and clothing!) I’ve been dreading this particular birthday for several years, because I was raised that old = bad, and mean jokes (which now are recognized as bullying) were the way we expressed our love for each other. So of course, 40 = not just old but ancient. When our dad turned 40, my brother and I were especially cruel; we gave him a walker in a red bow, so I’ve been wondering when mine was going to be delivered. And to make it worse, I’ll add the back-story to where it came from:

My brother, who was in pique physical condition in high school, was hit by a car months before dad’s birthday while crossing the street. Because of that, he required a walker for a while. Coming back from the hospital, he was struggling to move an inch. At that point, a stereotypically decrepit old man, the crooked old man with the crooked smile no less, breezed past him with a cane. It made my brother’s efforts that much more pitiful, and he threw the walker to the ground in disgust. And of course, his frustration was found to be absolutely hysterical, so getting even was in the works. Hey! We put the fun in dysfunction!

So yeah, I’ve been dreading this day for a long time, and I know the “You are O-L-D!” phone call from my brother is coming. But now that it’s here, I’m genuinely okay with it. The guys are taking me out for my idea of the most awesome dinner ever, Mercury has officially gone direct yesterday morning, and Thursday, I heard a robin singing. All is almost well; Ms. Clairol is giving me the hint I’m no Rogue and cannot rock these white streaks like she can.

Which all of this has me asking a few questions for you all today:

- If you are on active duty, away from people you care about, how do you handle certain checkpoints in life? It’s hard enough to imagine being away from family and friends on your own birthday, but what if it’s the birthday of your children, especially the day of their birth? Does technology like Skype help you through?

- The older we get, especially if we broke or strained something, the less things tend to work. And yeah, we simply don’t look the same. Do you embrace your changes, fight them off or push them aside?

- How do your beliefs fit into “the new you”? Do you find yourself innately becoming more spirituality in-tune over the years or do you deliberately work harder to do so?

- It’s been said the general we (not the General Lee! Ha!) are ageists. After a certain point, has maintaining your social identity become more of a challenge? If so, at what point did you notice people treating you (slightly) less favorably, and what did you do about it?

- When some people think of veterans, they think of some old guys hanging out at the VFW, yammering on about the damn kids and whatnot. Well, except for ours, which was recently closed to make room for condos and will hopefully be reopening this month. (General public karaoke days are full of hipsters! LOL!) So my question is: What age of a person do you envision when you think of a veteran? If your response is “Any!”, how many of those hipsters do you think are vets? (My response: Check back on a member day!)

Before I leave and get ready for work (Yes! I’m working on my birthday even though I can take off whenever I want to!), I did want to remind folks about a little bet I made a while back that March, 2014 was going to feature some important news. I’ve called it as the month and year when there would be a Pagan Chaplain in the military, and I also saw it as when equal marriage would be a thing across the country.

On the former, we’ll just have to wait and see, as I don’t have any current information. On the latter, well, that seems to have some momentum. Kentucky, a very red state, may be recognizing same sex marriages from other states by the end of the month. And, Cook County, which is mostly right here in Chicago, as well as Champaign County, are allowing same sex marriages to occur before June.

I keep reminding folks about this little bet, because in my experience over the years, magic(k) begins and ends with visualization and intent. I may be more on the agnostic side of things when it comes to the religious aspect of Paganism, but this hardened cynic knows magick is a thing. I’ve seen my personal works manifest themselves exactly as I put them out there (sometimes with “I can laugh about it now” results), but on this magnitude, it will take all of us to set things into motion and keep it going!

That’s all I have for you all today. With just a little over three months away, I am so looking forward to seeing so many of you again at PSG. Of all the fests out there, it is by far my favorite, and it’s only a couple hours away! And this year, I’ll be selling my paintings, which you can see what I’ve done so far if you’re interested.

Take care, and many blessings to you and yours!

Feb 222014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! We have a solid month yet until Ostara, and I think this year, everyone is at least twice as antsy for Winter to truly be over. It didn’t help this week, we went from a mountain of snow, to a serious warm-up, then a ton of rain came down and caused stuff to flood, and now it’s back to Winter again. Usually folks don’t experience that much difference unless they’re constantly traveling for work or something. But, at least I was able to wear a skirt with tights and boots this week – I really missed that!

What I’m really gigged for is my birthday next week. I’ve been wanting to go to Medieval Times ever since the place was built years ago, and so for my 40th, that’s exactly what we’re doing. I was able to talk Ron into it, as I found 50% off coupons for each of us in exchange for food donations, so our bill came up to about the same as any other nice (but not excessive) night out. And, Ryan wanted me to get the full experience, so he sprung for the Celebration Package. I’ve read some sour reviews on the upgrade, but I read into them as well: People expected the moon for the extra $16 a pop, and they didn’t feel they got it, so they bitched. Me, I already know it’s going to be cheesy, and the food is probably decent but not fine dining, and yeah, they really want you there early so you’ll spend more money at the bar and gift shop. I get that, and I’m prepared for it.

Me – I love cheesy! I’m all about wearing the Burger King-ripoff paper crown, waving the “special” pennants everyone else will have, cheering for my knight based entirely upon color coding and not for any particular talent or trait, and making a slob of myself because there’s no silverware. (I’m planning on sneaking in extra napkins lol.) And yes, I also am going to push for the blue section just so I can do this:

Yup. This is going to be awesome!

In other words, I’m a big kid. (Ron said as much many times hehe.) So yeah, I know I’m going to have an awesome night with my guys, and I get to help my neighbors at the same time! Win-win!

I’m also really gigged this week, because someone had reached out to me for my artwork to help another group, Hope for the Day, who helps those who are contemplating suicide. Yes, someone contacted me about my artwork and not the other way around. It makes me feel pretty special that someone saw enough value in my work that it could help their group raise money. So yeah, I got my first official seal of approval as a professional artist, but the real test will be at PSG this summer. Needless to say, I really hope you all love my booth!

With that touch of validation and inspiration, what I would love to do is offer another painting. This time, I want to do it for PSG’s raffle with a Pagan military slant. Do you have any suggestions on a theme? Things to incorporate? Active duty, veterans, family – all? Symbolism? Basically, what I’m asking is if you were bidding on a painting to take home and hang up in your sacred space, what would make you plunk down some cash and cross your fingers? Please feel free to comment and share the idea with others. I really want to do something special – something that makes my heart sing while painting it as well as yours while gazing upon it.

Well, I have another journey to the south side today, and my first appointment is at 9:30, so I need to wrap things up. I look forward to hearing back from you!

Take care, and many blessings to you and yours!

Feb 152014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Did you work with the full moon last night? Some people who are single have called it Singles Awareness Day, but I have yet to buy into that. I know, I’m not being tolerant or whatever, but even the couple of years I was single after Ryan was born, mostly just dating but nothing serious, and of course when I was a kid, I always liked Valentine’s Day. As an adult, I see it as giving yourself a Valentine. I figure, if you can’t love yourself, as you are, right at this very second, then you don’t have much to give others. Rather, you expect somebody else to fill you up. Be happy with yourself and your current situation. Love it, even. It’s kind of like #3 of Mike Damone’s Five-Point Plan, but truly believing it:

Earlier this week, I was down on the south side doing showings, and I was having fun with it, even in spite of the heightened suspicion I created for being so out of place. Lots of hard, cold stares were directed at me, and one guy even came up to the window and started asking me who I was waiting for. (Ron thinks he was a neighborhood watch guy.) Some folks said that would have had them blasting pepper spray and burning rubber. Me, I was happy to be in a new neighborhood (for me, a Northsider) and to see different things. And, just driving around always makes me happy. I even took the streets back home the other day, just to see more newness. Like for example, there’s this one hill with a ridiculous incline, which I think is on 111th street a bit east of Western. Even a one degree incline here is rare, but one like that, where brakes are an absolute necessity? Nope! That stretch on Diversey between Austin and Narragansett is a gentle slope compared to that. And it was fun! Crossing bridges? Fun! Seeing dilapidated greystones and Victorians, wondering how they much have looked once upon a time? Fun! Watching snowflakes instantly melt on my windshield while sipping my tea and playing Freecell? Fun! And finding a cute grocery store shaped like a barn with really fresh avocados on sale in the dead of winter? Awesome! I just ignored the bleakness and took notice of the little things.

Part of what it reminded me of is when I was little (late 70s, early 80s) and Dad would stop at Maxwell Street to pick up sausage sandwiches with extra onions before heading into Comiskey Park. (Just like “Willis Tower” or “Macy’s”, I refuse to call it U.S. Cellular Field.) Even back then, you weren’t supposed to bring in outside food, but we did anyway, and I could barely finish one of them. Dad would have us sit in the car, windows rolled up, and specifically told us not to even look at anymore, much less talk to them. That was directed at me, because I had a (bad) habit of talking to complete strangers, particularly male adults. (Parents saw danger; I saw easy conversation.)

I always got bored at the game after the second inning, unless they shot fireworks for a home run, but leading up to that point was incredibly fun for me. Different food, different people, different neighborhood. Just different. The newness of it all, just like my experience this week. And yeah, to paraphrase Mike Damone, it is great!

In fact, going down there has stirred a touch of wanderlust. I can’t wait to go to PSG this year, taking a mix of expressway, routes and back roads just a couple hours west from here. I’m sick to death of Winter, but it’s almost over. We have another month tops, since the weather usually seems to be completely different by St. Paddy’s Day. I already have noticed subtle clues, like it getting dark at around 5pm instead of 4:30 and few more birds outside beside pigeons. But the real cue is when the cardinals sing their Spring song. That’s when I know it’s over. I’m really trying to be patient.

So my question for you this week is if you too at least try to live in the moment. And if so, what are the little things you pay close attention to? It must be so hard for our active duty troops to be stationed overseas, and I’ve been told numerous times just thinking of home is what gets/got them through it all. Sure, it’s easier now with computers being readily available, being able to instantly communicate with loved ones compared to waiting for the mail, but there’s no way can it ever compare to actually being at home. I often wondered if any of you astrally project while stationed, and if so, where you go. And if you do, do you tell anyone about your trips? And, to clue in your friends and family back home, what are some things you’d like to see in care packages? Things that remind you of home. Things that assist you with your spirituality. Things that help you appreciate the little things in life that make life worth living. Feel free to share!

Well, I have a hectic day today, so I need to start getting ready. I hope wherever you go, there you are. Take care, and many blessings to you and yours!

Feb 082014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! Welp, Mercury is once again in retrograde, and yeah, it’s already been causing a bit of chaos around here. Earlier this week, the furnace went out, and the maintenance guy said a new one may need to be installed. It’s working okay now, but we have a lot more Winter, and we may have less time. I can at least be happy we’re renters, and that’s part of what we pay rent for. Oh well, right?

And yesterday – that was a doosy! I had a couple cancellations, which allowed me time to swing by one of my places and check on the updating progress. It’s right around the corner from another place I had to go to, so I figured why not use my time effectively. The kitchen was completed, so I was able to snap a couple of fresh pictures. (It’s fun to compare differences! This is the updated kitchen verses how it originally looked.) When I left, I had a hard time getting out of the parking spot due to all of the snow (which was a struggle getting in it to begin with), so I clicked over the all-wheel drive feature and got out. Easy peasy like always. But when I turned onto the main street and hit the brakes… nothing. My foot went all the way down to the floor. I found myself driving straight onto a busy street!

I was very fortunate at that moment; there was no traffic or pedestrians. That corner is usually congested at that time of day, so I was very lucky. The only thing I could think of was to throw on the hazards and just let it coast. And, because I had three more showings around the corner and a lease signing at the same place (I continue to show until a lease is signed, right to the very end!), I tapped the gas just enough to allow me to coast over there. I know that building well, and the parking situation surrounding it (most importantly!), so I knew it would be a safe place to cruise into a legal spot. Let me tell you, that was the scariest driving experience I’ve ever had, only a couple blocks, and I’ve been driving for over twenty years.

It was a random, freak thing. The car was just at the shop at the beginning of last month for routine maintenance with a trusted mechanic, so it wasn’t something that happened from neglect. And, the brakes worked just fine fifteen minutes before. (Here’s all the ways your brakes can fail you.) What makes the most sense to me is when I was attempting to pull either in or out of that snow-packed parking spot, ice had cut my brake line as I was rocking back and forth, until I had eventually gave up and used the four-wheel. Why Chicago doesn’t plow alternate sides of the streets the same way they do street sweeping I’ll never understand.

Needless to say, I was going through all of the “What If?” scenarios in my head. OMG! I could have wrecked the car! Or, I could have drove straight into my client’s building! Or even the granddaddy of them all, I could have killed somebody! Amazingly though, I was able to pull myself together, deal with getting a tow (which hasn’t even happened yet, because they’re all crazy busy with dead batteries and accidents), and yeah, do those showings and the lease signing. Oh, and my hyper butt even got bored waiting on people in between, playing with the video feature on my phone, if you can believe it. And the whole time, I’ve been hoping it’s just the brake line, because that should be a quick and cheap fix. For me, no car = no job, so the faster (and cheaper!) the better.

My experience yesterday had me thinking about how the brain works during and after something scary like that happens. For me, my stress levels remained low because none of those “What Ifs” had happened. Even so, I was still pretty freaked out several hours later. I had to reschedule a bunch of important appointments I had for today, and I’m concerned about the repair cost. But, at least the tow will be covered since I have the premium AAA. There’s that, and I trust the tow truck driver, because my husband uses that guy for the fleet vehicles he manages and had never caused damage to them.

Last night, I had a nightmare about plowing into a woman with a stroller, but because I know everything is and will be fine, I can simply chalk it up to Mercury retrograde. I woke up, a bit disoriented, but I was able to I calm myself down rather easily. It’s something I can laugh off in a month, and I’ll be much more choosy with where I park from now on, even if ice wasn’t the reason. But for someone who did have such a horrible accident, those nightmares can last for years. Even with treatment, where the nightmares can be lessened and daily function can improve, such thoughts can linger on. For our service members, frightening moments can happen at any time, even during Basic. Sometimes, it can be something like temporary tinnitus from shooting a rifle incorrectly, something to learn from and laugh off, but sometimes, the worst case scenarios do happen.

It is because of the latter, where PTSD is an issue, that treatment is an absolute and immediate necessity. For those who have religious beliefs, including spirituality in treatment has been studied to be very effective. For Pagans who are on Active Duty, there aren’t any Chaplains of a direct Pagan persuasion, however, many installations do have Pagan groups and circles to attend. And of course, our troops can always contact their Elders back at home as well as the good folks at Circle Sanctuary. Patrick McCollum has been working tirelessly for Pagan Chaplaincy for years, and groups like A Circle of Warriors and The Valhallah Project are already helping those in need, Pagans and others alike.

All those I mentioned above, be they local clergy members or far-reaching groups, need our support, and our troops deserve our respect and love. Spiritual healing is a long-going and interpersonal journey, and it strengthens our Community as a whole. When I see articles like these, it’s a strong reminder how far our Community needs to go in terms of even acknowledging the many sacrifices our military members make. It is because of that sentiment alone I continue to write each week, hoping to enlighten at least one fellow Pagan of the great and many needs of our men and women and their families.

And with that, I thank you all. Take care, and many blessings to you and yours!

Feb 012014

This week, I simply want to wish you all the blessings of a promise (which I explained last week). So a blessed Imbolc/Candlemas/St Brigid’s Day/Groundhog Day to you all – whatever you prefer to call it. If anything else, I think we can all agree we’re hoping Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow tomorrow morning. And, for those of you who are into football, may your wings be hot, your beer cold and your team win.

But before I leave you, I would like to have you all watch just this portion of the State of the Union Address from earlier this week:

Thank you and bless you.

Take care everyone, and many blessings to you and yours.

Jan 252014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! It’s only eight days until Imbolc/Candlemas/Groundhog Day, and I’m pumped up about it. I call it all those names depending on who I’m addressing and which aspect of the holiday I’m referring, plus there’s one more. February 2nd is simply a promise – a promise the weather will get better and Spring is just around the corner. It just has to, right? It can’t be subzero forever, right? It’s 30F right now, but that will drop in a couple hours, back to awful yesterday, and the day before, and so on and so on, making this moment seem like a cruel joke. I feel like the cast in This Is the End, playing as themselves, questioning what they did to deserve all of this (never mind the people outside James Franco’s concrete mansion), when they’ve given the world so much joy via entertainment… well, not for free, but in exchange for piles and piles of cash, natch. (Psssst! Emma Watson as her badasss self wielding an axe. Worth it. Love it. Need more of it!)

And why do I say I feel like that? Because, while I don’t have a concrete mansion to shelter and protect me, I do have a lot more going for me than so many of my own neighbors (a.k.a., the people outside), so I really shouldn’t complain. So instead, I’ve been thinking of more ways to let them in, so to speak, without any expectations. One of the easiest things I have been doing, which anyone can do, is to acknowledge others. Smiling to – not at – people. Looking them in the eyes. Saying good morning. That sort of thing. You may think that’s weird so many people don’t automatically do that, but it’s so common, and it’s something I notice more in areas where the needle is pointing toward the have’s.

There’s an experiment meme making the rounds about what happens to cooked white rice stored in jars. It is prepared from the same pot, portioned out equally, stored in identical jars and in the same space. Each day, one jar is spoken to positively (“Thank you!”), the second is spoken to negatively (“You fool!”), and the control is not spoken to at all. Sounds silly, right? And besides, who speaks to food? Well, after a month, the positive jar still looked edible. The negative jar looked kind of gross, which is expected, and the third jar – the one given no attention at all – looked absolutely putrid. Seriously – that jar shouldn’t even be opened! Throw it into a deep fire pit and burn it!

The experiment is intended to promote positive thinking, but what I see is more about extending positivity we already have harnessed for ourselves and passing it onto others. The broker I work with is having us do a bunch of online mini seminars and assessments in order to help us become better real estate agents. Much of it deals with common sense stuff presented in a new way, and a big portion of it has to do with being positive and having a good attitude. (Makes sense: Why would you work with an asshole/idiot unless he/she has exactly what you need, you can’t get it anywhere else, and you’ve already done all of the research yourself?) Much of it may not have any interest to your day to day, but there were a few points he highlighted I wanted to share:

1) Jeff Gitomer said (he believes) only 1% of people are truly positive (like he is, natch). He said every time he closes (gets the sale), he goes out to the department store and buys himself something. And equally, every time he drops the ball, he goes out and treats himself. Not only does that sound crazy, but it also sounds like it could quickly become a very expensive habit. But he says he does this because either way, the final outcome makes him happy. Okay, I get that. Reward yourself for a job well done and do something that perks you up – but either way, that something should be the same thing. It’s certainly a better motivator than this:

Coffee is for closers!

2) Jeff also said the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word enthios, which he defined as “The God within”. I like that, and when I heard him say that in just that way, I felt it clearly resonated with my Pagan beliefs. Other definitions I located were similar, but not so concise and as inspirational as his. And going back to the cooked rice experiment, it has me thinking of how the positive jar (“Thank you!”) was not merely complimenting the rice, but in actuality, the person doing the complimenting was in fact projecting a touch of magic from within himself. The experiment seems to make a whole lot more sense now.

3) An eyebrow raiser for sure, a third point Jeff made was to avoid anything that doesn’t have to do with your mission (which, in this case, is being an awesome salesperson). With exception to what correlates to your mission, you shouldn’t read the papers, watch the news, talk to people and so on. I was thinking to myself that’s ridiculous, because we as human beings are all connected, and the Butterfly Effect is totally a thing! Science-y, even! But what I think he was trying to get at was paying attention to what really matters and what’s going to improve our day to day.

Now I love my celebrity gossip, especially when celebrities I can’t stand get taken down a few pegs. That’s one of my many forms of entertainment, which I suppose could be called the Nelson Effect, or more simply, schadenfreude. And here’s the thing, it has its place and time, and Jeff does make a valid point all of my Ha-Ha! finger-pointing doesn’t really do much for me other than make me feel a bit vindicated, if not superior. Referring back to the rice experiment, this would be the negative (“You fool!”) jar, which was gross but not completely disgusting. If the positive (“Thank you!”) jar reflects my enthusiasm, expressing my God(dess) within, what does the Nelson Effect project – that She is/I am a bitch? Touché.

So, and I know what some of you are thinking: What does all of this have to do with the military side of this Pagan news project? Don’t I go on enough of these unMilitary slants? Well, directly, not a whole lot. However, indirectly, relating to the Butterfly Effect, every little thing we do starts a chain of events. Perhaps doing little things, such as making eye contact, smiling and saying good morning, can be those little things our God(desses) within can make the world a better place. And if the world is a better place, even just a teeny tiny bit better, perhaps the God(dess) within one member of our military, active duty or vet, will be ignited. Just like yawning, smiling is infectious. If you yawn while making eye contact, that person will feel like you don’t care about them (like the ignored, the putrid jar), but if you smile, that person smiles, too… maybe just a little, and maybe only on the inside, but a smile all the same.

That’s all I have for today. Take care and many blessings to you and yours!

Jan 182014

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! How has the world been treating you this week? For me, I crossed a few more professional milestones, one of which I can talk about: My totals for 2013 increased by 40% over 2012. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of that, and I’m even more elated this was made known to me by the broker I work with. I knew I did better, but certainly not to that degree, but more importantly, I’m just happy the work I do is repeatedly acknowledged and appreciated. It means so much to me the people I work with thank me, give me credit and pass my name along to others. That alone makes all the difference; I’ve had some good jobs in the past but miserable doing them. Oh, and it’s nice to have a job where I can set my own hours, work from home in my jammies with very little boring, paper-pushing tasks involved, no office politics (even for the mere two to three hours a month I am there) and still make more money than at any job I’ve ever had before. Yup, that’s a combined benefit I rank higher than sick days or even a 401(k).

What’s up with Ryan? He’s a happy camper at his job, too. He left for work last night for a special overnight project and still hasn’t gotten home. They don’t ask a lot of people to work a shift like that, so I have a very strong feeling they’re grooming him for a full-time position which are only available to management. He just started there in October, which sounds crazy at first, but this is a company that’s gone from 30 to over 300 employees in just three years. And, they’re looking at expanding to a bigger location in the city but also opening a couple other locations in different parts of the country. If they go that route, Ryan would be a very good candidate to relocate. Yep, we’re really happy for him and proud of him.

I feel I would be there to support Ryan for any choice he’s made, even if they were stupid, awful or truly terrible ones. My dad disowned me the last ten years of his life over $180 that I offered to pay in a few days, and in that ten years, he missed a lot. He missed our wedding, as simple as it was, vacations and holidays over his stubborn bitterness. He died from lymphoma in March of 2005, missing his beloved White Sox winning the World Series (and the whole damned season in fact), and he died alone. Dad would have celebrated his 61st birthday this past Monday. And so because of that, there isn’t much Ryan could do to make me not want him in my life, though I have to wonder what that tipping point would be.

Some of you may laugh, some may roll your eyes or even scoff, and some may just chalk it up to being a human news aggregator that I have such bookmarks as People Magazine, World Net Daily and TMZ. Sure, I can rely on RSS feeds and what my varied Faceypages friends share, but I still like clicking through all my bookmark tabs and looking at the homepage headlines. Then again, I also read print newspapers, so maybe I’m just showing my age. I admit it – I like gossip! And I like designer fashion. And, if anything else, there’s always the deal that even a broken clock that is the Daily Mail can be right twice a day.

Well, this week’s broken clock is TMZ of all sources, as they got an exclusive on some rather disturbing photos I will NOT be posting.

Pics of Marines Burning Bodies Trigger U.S. Military Investigation [PHOTOS]

While I’m betting dollars to donuts TMZ got the exclusive because they paid the highest price, unlike the WikiLeaks-Assange-Manning deal that was supposedly done on pure principle, it’s hard not to see the relevance of the photos themselves. Oh, but this was in 2004 – a year into the war and only three years after 9/11 – when many Americans were of a “Fuck those guys!” mentality, perhaps not unlike Google employees’ response to the NSA snooping. And, these pictures were supposedly taken in Fallujah in 2004, which we all know was all shades of awful and the same year the four Blackwater contractors, civilians with kitchen supplies, were burned, dragged and hung. And, 2004 was also the same year where all those Iraqi torture pics and stories surfaced. Putting all that together, one may be inclined to ponder how much, if any, of a pass we can give the Marines in those photos. Oh, and that was back when enlistment requirements and standards were a lot more lax, because civilian jobs were more available than now and troops were getting killed and injured left and right.

With hindsight being 20/20, one can kind of put all of these things into perspective, but of course it also depends on when these photos were taken. A lot happens in a year. When were the Marines in the photos deployed? Under whose orders were the bodies burned? And so on. We can do the same reverse chronology with many atrocities. People were pissed. People wanted to get even, and the media certainly didn’t make things better. It also has me thinking: If one of the pictures TMZ released had been of our son, would that be the tipping point I mentioned above? Would I try to rationalize what the hell was going through his head? I would still love him of course, but would I be ashamed of him – not just disappointed? I try my absolute best to care for everyone equally – a homeless guy on Lower Wacker the same as I do our son – but that’s asking a whole lot. I don’t know random homeless people. I didn’t give birth to them, walk them to school, console them, nurture them.

And that’s my take-away from those pictures: I wonder how the people who love these Marines feel about what they have done. And more importantly, I wonder how those Marines feel about that. That’s ten years to think about something you’ve done that, with glancing at mere pictures, can easily be construed as inhuman. But one thing we don’t know is this: Of the bodies burned, who were the spirits that were once housed in those charred vessels? Were they monsters that deserved inhuman treatment? I don’t have the answer to that, but I will be pondering questions such as those for a while.

Let’s make things perfectly clear: I truly respect what it takes for each and every man and woman who has ever put on the uniform, be it by enlistment or draft. Yes, even the Marines in these photos. I honor that. However, as a civilian playing Captain Hindsight based on a smattering of photos sent to the highest bidder, I cannot respect what I’m seeing and feel, at least the ones where they’re grinning, they have disgraced the uniforms they’re wearing.

That’s all I have for you today. I promise next week’s article will be much more uplifting and vibrant as we approach Imbolc.

Take care, and many blessings to you and yours.