#letstalk about mental illness

Today is #letstalk day, raising awareness for, and ending the stigma against mental illness. Though I am personally not a fan of the Bell Corporation, I do strongly believe in this cause. I have a degree in psychology, and myself suffer from depression and anxiety. I am so thankful to have a wonderful support system, including a kind and compassionate family doctor. My mental health is well managed by a combination of tarot, mindfulness meditation, talk therapy, exercise, diet, social support, snuggles from my dog, my connection with nature, my gods and ancestors, and yes, medication. Mental illness is real illness.  It’s important to have many tools in my kit to stay healthy.  Meds are not “happy pills”.  I am neither high nor addicted.  My brain eats up the good stuff faster than average, so I take a low dose of an ssri medication to slow that down.  I’m the same me that I always was.  I still feel a wide range of emotions.  I am still able to cry when I am sad, or feel angry at injustice.  I am just the me who sleeps 7-8 hours a night.  I am the me who can enjoy life and the things I love to do.  I’m the me who doesn’t feel compelled to argue about every little stupid thing on the internet.  I am the me with a better sense of humour.  I am the me who no longer struggles with feelings of suicide.  I am a better mother, better friend, better tarot reader, better lover, and overall better human being when I employ these tools in my coping kit. 
If you are struggling with mental illness, please know that there are methods to manage your illness, and there is no shame in asking for help.  Mental illness is real illness, and in most cases, is treatable.  If one method doesn’t work, try another.  Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.
Here are some resources if you don’t know where to start.  These are local to London, Ontario, but google can give you services closer to you:
-your family doctor.  If you do not have a family doctor, google “London Ontario doctors accepting new patients” (or your own city and province).  You will get a list of qualified physicians in your area.  I wish that all doctors could be as amazing as mine, but I don’t think that she is accepting new patients right now.
-a friend.  Sometimes you don’t want to talk to a stranger.  But be aware that your friends may have not penciled in your crisis.  If one person doesn’t have availability right that second, it’s not personal.  Keep trying until you can find someone safe to talk to.  You are not alone.
-London Distress Line 519-667-6711
-Crisis Response 519-433-2023
-Sexual Assault Centre  519.438.2272
-Kids help phone 1-800-668-6868 This is for those under 18, but parents sometimes call to ask about their kids
-LGBT youth line  1.800.268.9688
-Daya counselling (offers geared to income) http://dayacounselling.on.ca/
-Therapists in London, Ontario https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapists/on/london
-cognitive behavioural therapy.  There are a wide range of books out there if you can’t get to a counsellor.  Cognitive behavioural therapy can be self lead, and includes a lot of homework and journaling.
Be well.

How I Eliminated the Weight

By popular demand:

I had got to the point where I had given up on losing weight.  I had resigned myself to a bitterness that I would always be big, and that fat was morally equal to skinny, so anything negative to be said about being big, was automatically fat shaming and was therefore coming from a horrible person.  But, as I began to see the toll that the excess weight was having on my body, I knew I needed to do something.  I was 272 lbs at my heaviest, and I blamed absolutely everything but my own behaviour.  But, I was ready for a change.  This is so key to weight loss.  You have to be ready.  You can’t make someone else be ready.

I had a few friends who had been very successful with weight loss through gastric bypass surgery, and I thought that was my only hope.  So, feeling out of options, I went to my doctor, who had been trying to get me to lose weight for years.  She was glad that I had come to her, but she said “This is major abdominal surgery that will affect you for the rest of your life.  There can be serious consequences.  I am not going to put you under the knife unless it is your only option.  We talked a lot about diet and exercise.  She diagnosed me with binge eating disorder and ADHD.  Much of my eating, especially late at night, was far more psychological than physical.  She placed me on an ADHD medication that is also successful at curbing compulsive eating.  She told me that I needed to eat more vegetables.  She said I can eat as many carrots and celery sticks as I want.  She also said “And I want you to move.  Every day.  I want you to sweat.  You don’t need an expensive gym membership.  Just find a video on TV and work out in your living room for a half hour.”

It was late spring.  It’s always easy to lose weight in the nice weather.  There are so many fresh and local fruits and vegetables.  It’s easy to go for a walk.  In fact, most of the exercise that I did was yard work- mowing, sawing, carrying logs, shovelling clay.  I tried to spend an hour outside every day.  I had a back injury in May, so some things were hard.  My sister helped with some mowing (thanks Lisa!).

I discovered that I didn’t like raw vegetables.  Salads were a very specific thing growing up, and the idea of choking down oily lettuce is very unappealing to me.  So, I ate cooked veggies- stir frys and soups.  I learned Lebanese cooking from a client.  To quote my sister- “fatoush does not give you a fat tush”.

I needed to take the religion out of food.  Many words in our culture around food are religious.  Words like cheat, indulge, sinful and guilty pleasure were taken out of my vocabulary.  Food is never “good” or “bad” (unless it is spoiled).  There are foods that are more in line with my goals, and there are foods that are less in line with my goals.  No food is evil.  So, I cut nothing out.  I still eat bread, butter, pizza, cupcakes.  I just eat fewer of those types of foods.  I eat at restaurants less.  I eat less processed foods and more fresh foods.  I shop at the Farmer’s Market.  I cook in bulk.  I spend less on food now than I ever did.

I needed to address my fear of starving.  I was homeless as a teen on three brief occasions, and lived on my own from age 16 on.  I was working part time, and in high school full time, but I was also subsidized by the government.  Being hungry was something that I experienced a lot as a teen.  I needed to learn that I was going to be okay if I was a little peckish, instead of compulsively shoving the quickest carb down my gullet to stave of hunger.  I learned how to fast.  Only once I made 54 hours, because I needed to prove to myself that I was not going to die.  After that, I only fast from dusk to dusk at the full and new moon, and on my 8 Holy days.  Every day, I fast for 16 hours, under the recommendation of my friend, Dr. Wendi Roscoe.  I am not a morning person, so if I can get a few extra minutes of sleep, it is golden!  So I have black tea for breakfast.  I have a good lunch about noon, with lots of plants and some protein.  And then I eat my dinner between 7:30 and 8pm.  That’s good for me.  I cut out late night eating.  If I am peckish after 8pm, I have a cup of peppermint tea.  If I am hungry after 10pm, I go to bed.

I think of food now as a budget.  I can budget money, why can’t I budget food?  I have a budget of 1200 calories a day, with 300 overdraft.  Going over 1500 is debt.  If I know I have an event coming up where I would like to enjoy something expensive, I save up a bit, maybe having a lighter lunch so that I can enjoy a cupcake.

I only have alcohol on weekends, and limit myself to 3 servings throughout the entire weekend.  A serving of wine is 200 calories, for 125 mL.  Most of us pour glasses that is 2 or 3 servings at a time.  I also started drinking better wine.

I am trained as a scientist, so I need data to be able to track progress.  I weigh myself daily (except for my monthly cycle).  For the most part, the scale tends to move in the right direction, even if a few 10ths of a pound a day.  If the scale goes in the other direction, I do not punish myself or feel guilty.  I ask, “what decisions have I been making over the past few days that are contributing to this?”  Did I eat a lot of salt?  Not drink water?  Have I had enough fibre?  Am I regular?  I can usually find a cause.  Then I ask myself “How can I make better decisions today?”  I can’t change the past.  I accept it, and I choose to work within my goals today.  I should be better at keeping track of my food intake, but I’m not.  I find that, if I have not been focusing on making high quality decisions, and the scale goes too much in the wrong direction, 5lbs is a lot easier to fix than 20.  I also write down my weight on a calendar that hangs in the bathroom every day.  I may feel stuck one week, but looking at the progression over several months can be a powerful motivation.

As of today I weigh 212 lbs- 60 lbs down from my heaviest.   My knees, ankles and hips feel better.  I can climb the stairs without getting winded.  I can do my muggle job more effectively by squeezing into smaller spaces, and I haven’t had a back injury since May.  I can shop in some “normal” stores, so I can buy clothes off the rack that are not overpriced “specialty clothes”.  I feel sexier than I have in a long time.  I like my body.  I am actually considering attending group sports events, where as in the past I was too ashamed to.

I have plateaued a bit.  but I am also not exercising as much with the weather changing.  Truth is, I actually HATE exercise.  It needs to feel like I am not wasting my time.  That’s why yard work is so good for me.  But in the winter, there is less to do.  Yes, shovelling is good exercise, but it doesn’t snow every day.  And when it gets really cold, it doesn’t snow at all.  A friend of mine has a business called “The Casual Athlete” where he makes exercise accessible for the non-athletic types.  I am going to set up a consult with him in the next two months to learn how I can better incorporate exercise into my daily life.  There are some home renos that I want to do over the winter that may keep me active.  But, budget will determine how many of those I can get done before spring.

My goal is to hit ONE-derland (under 200 lbs) before the end of the year.  12 lbs in under 7 weeks is reasonable.  Total weight loss goal is 104 lbs, which will take me to 168lbs, or what I weighed on my very first prenatal check up with my now 17 year old daughter.  I can’t call it baby weight when my baby is almost old enough to vote.

So, in conclusion, when asked how I lost the weight- When I was ready, under the supervision of my doctor, I ate more plants, but consumed less food over all, and I moved more.

Answers From Your Ancestors

I’ve been quite hesitant in the past to call myself a medium in the capacity of a tarot reader.  The word felt like a lot of pressure.  But I recently acquired a new EVP meter, and combined it with tarot to get some really amazing results.  Not only is the accuracy blowing me away, but the healing impact on the lives of my clients is simply astounding.


EVP stands for Electro Voice Phenomenon.  Through this device, words and phrases are picked up, and are thought to be associated with spirit activity.  Sometimes I get meaningful words.  On a few occasions, my grandmother and brother have spoken to me.  Other times I get nonsense, or at least, nothing that makes sense to me.  And then sometimes I get words or phrases intended to scare me, but that usually just makes me roll my eyes.  It’s clear that, in using this device, like a talking board, it is not a 101 activity.

I have given two of these readings so far.  Both had results that were powerfully meaningful to the client.  In the first one, the client was researching her heritage.  I was able to come up with names and dates that matched the research that she was doing. Also, how her ancestors can help her with her current goals.  In the second one, the client was interested in connecting with a loved on who had recently passed away.  Names came through of other family members. The personality of the lost loved one showed through clearly.  The client was profoundly moved, and in closing, had a plan to heal and move forward.  I was so honoured to be a part of such a moving and profound moment.

The Process:

So, I have decided to offer this service as a regular compliment.  This is only offered in person, in my tarot room.  I start and end each session with a banishing ritual known as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Then, a brief guided cleansing meditation.  This sets the right state for the reading and cleans up any residual energy, either from the outside daily stresses, or other spirits trying to take part.  This also ensures the safety and focus of both myself and the client.  I turn on the EVP and draw the 10 card Celtic Cross tarot spread.  The opening and closing rituals are part of the hour session.  In that time I can do several spreads, depending on the questions being asked.

Dealing with Grief and Emotions:  

Understandably, clients can find this an emotional experience.  It’s okay to cry.  There’s lots of Kleenex.  My ethical standpoint is to always be honest, but leave you better than how I found you.   I take the time and care to make sure that they are okay before you leave.  I see this service about healing- healing from grief, and healing generational wounds.  It is a responsibility not taken lightly.

This service is priced at the same rate as my other tarot reading sessions. I am offering one hour sessions at $80 at this point.  To book your session and connect with your ancestors, click on “Book a reading”.


Why I decided to eliminate the weight

Those who have seen me recently may notice that there is significantly less of me than there was 8 months ago.  In fact, there’s a whole 50 lbs less of me.  I feel better than I have in a long time.  Most people are happy for me.  But there are some who choose not to be.

When I first decided that I was going to drop the weight, someone whom I cared about greatly, and considered family, made a very public declaration that she simply would never support my, or anyone else’s weight loss, because losing weight was a form of fat shaming, and wishing to lose weight, or supporting anyone in making decisions that would lead to weight loss, was just vilifying fat people.  This could not be further from the truth about my motivation.

As I have mentioned in a previous entry, my muggle job is in health care, mostly working with seniors and the disabled.  I started to notice some very clear trends among my clients.  Not including my clients with degenerative, usually genetic, musculoskeletal diagnoses, (ie MS, ALS, Huntington’s, etc) or injury due to trauma (spinal cord, brain injury), my clients tended to fall into two categories.  There were the clients who needed a little bit of help into their 80s and 90s, but still went for daily walks, took part in swim clubs, went on ski trips.  These clients sometimes grew their own vegetables, had steel cut oats for breakfast every morning, enjoyed many fruits and vegetables every day, and only ate fried and sugary foods as a rare treat.  And then there were the clients who lived entirely sedentary lives in front of the television.  They were sometimes in their 50s and 60s, consumed a regime of fried and starchy foods, required help for the most basic of tasks, were far more prone to strokes, diabetes, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, and were generally unhappy people.  In talking with these people, if became clear that these patterns of food and exercise were well correlated with physical, mental and cognitive health in later years, and usually started earlier in life.  It really started me thinking on what kind of person I wanted to be in my senior years.

This isn’t new research.  We’ve known for decades that living a sedentary life with poor eating habits greatly increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other illnesses.  We’re also starting to find out how linked the brain is with the gut and circulatory system, and that lack of diet and exercise increases risk of age related dementia.  Not only that, but common sense shows that having an extra hundred pounds on the joints, is hard on the body.  Being overweight increases pain on the joints and muscles, and risk of sore knees, back, hips and ankles are common.  Lack of exercise is hard on the heart and lungs.

Doing my job was difficult.  I was always out of breath walking up stairs.  My back was always sore, and my hips and knees were starting to feel the effects of neglect.  I was constantly getting bruises from having to squeeze into smaller spaces.  This was not the life I wanted.  This was not the body I wanted.  I needed to take action.

I was always very critical of men who said things like “I want a woman who takes care of herself”.  I would scoff and say that it was a polite way of saying “No fat chicks”.  But I see that statement differently now.  I look at some of my clients who are still married after 50 or even 70 years, those who are still in love.  And since lifestyle is so correlated with longevity, I totally understood how, if someone had made healthy living a priority, they would want someone who was committed to growing older in the best way possible.  I also saw how, if someone was passionate about fitness and nutrition, they would want to share those activities with their lover.  They would want to go on bike tours of wineries, go mountain climbing, run marathons together.  They would not be compatible with a partner who was content to watch TV all day and eat junk food. What kind of relationship did I want?

In the past, I saw how so many people around me had excuses for being overweight- my PCOS, my thyroid, my genetics, my big bones, my ADHD.  But I also noticed that their lifestyle supported being overweight.  When your diet consists of french fries, and your exercise consists of a mad rush to find the remote, and this goes on for years, maybe it’s not the physical condition?  Maybe it’s learned helplessness?

I also see people around me who are changing their lives and making better choices.  My sister has PCOS, and with the help of a dietitian, and daily exercise, she has also lost over 50 lbs.  My friend Deb has lost over 100 lbs!  Mostly by walking and eating sensibly.  My roommate’s sister is getting in shape with the help of a personal trainer.  Changes are possible.

Look, I know that weight is an incredibly personal thing.  For years, I was not ready to lose the weight.  And some people never are.  I get that.  They are still morally and ethically good people.  Yes, it is possible to be obese and still be healthy.  But over time, this becomes more the exception than the rule.  I am trying to make up for lost time so that I can avoid the health issues and probably early death that comes with being obese.  I am trying to reprogram my entire life- mind, body and spirit, so that I can enjoy my senior years, and be active, happy and healthy.  I am trying to teach my child how to best care for her body- not because being fat is naughty and evil, but because I love my daughter enough to want her to avoid preventable serious health conditions.  All bodies are good bodies, but not all bodies can wipe their own butt, or shower themselves at age 65.

So, if someone in your life is trying to save their life by losing weight, if they are eating better and getting fit for all the right reasons, this is hard.  The best you can do as someone who loves them is to support them, encourage them and recognize their progress.  The least you can do is not try to actively sabotage them because of your own insecurities.

My Muggle Job

I joke often about my muggle job.  Of course, this is a reference to the Harry Potter ‘verse.  I have my magic job- tarot and all things around it, and my non-magic, or muggle job.  Some may wonder why I would have both.  My tarot business is growing nicely, and would be making more than my muggle job, if I was working at tarot only.  But, there are definite reasons why I do what I do.  I feel like many female entrepreneurs have a husband who works full time to support them and provide benefits while they build their career.  But I don’t even know if I would want that.  When one has been so independent for so long, the idea of having to lean on someone else, to be accountable with someone else’s money, just seems so alien.  I think I may actually like doing this by myself.  It’s fulfilling in ways that I never imagined.

My muggle job is as a home care personal support worker.  My contract states that I am not to talk about the job on social media, so I will not release the name of the company, or any client details, but I will talk about my experiences.

I have been working in health care for over a decade.  When I was deciding what career to take in my early 20s, I was lost.  My goals of being an artist and graphic designer didn’t pan out.  I can remember crying to my ex of “just tell me.  Just name off a career and I’ll do it. Please, I can’t do this!”  The very next day, my neighbour and I were passing on the sidewalk, and she said to me “I don’t know why I should tell you this, but I need to tell you that you should be a PSW.”  Okay.  That was it.  I very clearly asked for a sign, and I got it loud and clear.  My grandmother received such excellent care when I was young, as did my brother.  It was a way that I could give back.  It was a way that I could be of good in this world.

As the population of our country ages, there is more and more need for PSWs, and fewer and fewer students choosing to take the course.  It is a notoriously low paying, back breaking, pink ghetto, with no room for advancement.  Almost all jobs are part time, casual, on call.  In fact, my position with this company, this is the very first job in my life that I have had full time permanent work with benefits and paid vacation.  For someone who lived in poverty for 20 years, this is huge.  I have a stable pay cheque.  I have guaranteed hours.  I can take my kid to the dentist.  I can go to the dentist.  Stability is a powerful thing.  I am not in a hurry to give that up most days for the instability that a new business brings.  So I end up doing both.  Full time.  And working myself to exhaustion.  For example, Mondays are my “day off” and I am sitting here in rented office space finally blogging for the first time in way too long, after meetings in the morning, and a networking event right after.  Far too often, I am multi tasking on my phone while I should be giving my undivided attention to my clients or the road.  I never stop.  I am stressed, overtired, cranky and stretched thin.  Facebook becomes my only way to authentically connect with anyone outside work, and after being positive all day for my health care clients, and being positive all day for my tarot clients, I get chastised for “being too negative” when I vent and release to friends.

I call it “my muggle job”, but there is a lot of spiritual gratification that I get out of my work.  My specialty is palliative care.  I have been present at close to 100 deaths.  I cross them over when they die on my shift.  Not a lot of people can do that.  I absolutely notice when my clients are preparing for that journey into their next world, sometimes weeks or months before anyone else.  Right now I don’t do a lot of palliative care.  A lot of what I do right now is assisting seniors and other disabled people with what are called “activities of daily living” like showering, dressing, light meal prep, etc.  This enables seniors to stay in their home longer, where they want to be, and not in our already over crowded long term facility system.  I help seniors stay home, and I literally save our government millions.

I also find it very spiritually gratifying to work with the elderly.  As a Druid, honouring the elders is essential.  We think of this sometimes as only religious community elders, but for me, this means elders in our physical community.  The company I work for divides the city into quadrants, and tries to keep us close to our area whenever possible.  This means that many of my clients are literally my neighbours.  When I work my alternate weekends, sometimes I park at home and walk to my clients’ homes because they are so close.  I try to maintain professional boundaries, but over time, of course I come to care about and connect to my clients.  This isn’t a field that you go into if you don’t give a crap about people.  Both my grandmothers have passed away, my step-grandmother lives in another country and I have not seen her since I was 8.  I have no contact with my mother.  But I have a dozen grannies in the community.  It would be unprofessional for me to vent to them about my personal problems, but since so many of my hobbies are “old timey”, I often bring these problems to my clients.  Whether my bread won’t rise, my jelly won’t set, or I just can’t get that knitting stitch right, my older ladies always know the answer.  I really do love them, and if I quit my job, I really would miss them dearly.  There are absolutely days when I think “Ya know, I could just quit tarot and work with my ladies (like 80% of my clients are women) and be just fine”.

And then there are days where I don’t feel like that.

I started with this company about a year and a half ago, and when I did, it was a breath of fresh air from other home health care companies that I had worked for.  The operations manager at the time was a sweetheart with an open door policy.  Though he was of course, extremely busy, he really made us feel welcomed to come to him and talk to him about anything.  On weekends, if the office was short staffed he would even do shifts manning the phone lines.  If there was a problem, he was quick to respond.  The highest quality of care was expected for clients, but he took care of us.  My scheduler at the time was incredible!  I had worked for other places where the schedulers were disorganized, not overly bright, and didn’t really give a crap.  But this woman ran her desk like a well oiled machine.  She had a sign above her desk that quoted Richard Branson “Sometimes the client is not always right.  Take care of your staff, and they will take care of your clients.”  Or something of the like.  And I felt that every single day.

But about March, the time of my break up and back injury, both the OM, and the scheduler left for other positions.  A new OM took over, and her first move was to cut time and a half for working outside of our availability.  To be guaranteed full time hours, we need to give 100 hours per pay period of availability.  That averages a 10 hour day.  Every other week, I need to be available 60 hours a week.  That’s a lot!  I’m not paid for 60 hours.  But I am expected to be available 60 hours.  But, as our population ages, and there are fewer PSWs entering the field, there is always a shortage of staff.  Getting time and a half was a little extra incentive to pick up extra shifts, especially evenings and weekends.  On paper we make almost $20 an hour, which is much better than the wages paid when I graduated in 2013.  However, for most visits, we are only paid 45 minutes on the hour.  In that time, we are expected to shower, dress and feed many residents, often staying late on our own dime.  So, time and a half really helps out.  But, the new OM would rather subcontract the unfilled visits to staff based out of Kitchener, who do not know the clients, and get paid $15 an hour, out of the $25 or so that the other company probably charges.  This lead to a cascade effect.  Many visits go unfilled.  The clients are upset and complained.  They complained often to the schedulers who became stressed out.  The turnover for schedulers increased leading to less organization in the company.  PSWs quit because the entire schedule just became a clusterfuck.  So they were even more understaffed.  The HR people became overwhelmed trying to hire, and deal with the overworked injured workers, so they quit.  We’ve had 3 HR people come and go in 6 months.  Emails are no longer answered.  Not even timely, but at all.  I would say that 90% of my emails don’t even get read.  I have had a client in crisis for 6 weeks, and I have sent 6 high priority emails to a supervisor who has chosen not to acknowledge me.  I have been trying to get my daughter on my benefits since March and no one will get back to me.   The new schedulers sit at their desks with their phones off.  My WSIB claim from March has not been submitted yet, despite repeated emails to… gods, I don’t even know who to email anymore, so I just cc everyone in management in the hopes that SOMEONE reads it and gets back to me.  I escalated an issue once to the new OM because no one was returning my emails, and her response was to email my supervisor, cc me, and say “Please make sure this worker knows the chain of command around here”.  ‘This worker”?  Excuse me?  I’ll give her that the W in PSW does stand for Worker, but I’m a highly educated and experienced part of a health care team and on the front lines of community and patient care.  If not for “this worker” she wouldn’t even have a job.  I reported once to my supervisor that a client was palliative, and gave her the PPS score (palliative percentage scale).  She replied telling me that because I’m “Just a PSW” that I should not be assessing this measurement, that I should let the nurse who goes in there do it.  The nurse was a brand new graduate who specialized in wound care.  I am far more qualified to give this assessment than she was.  Overall, when I am dealing with my clients, almost all of them are wonderful and appreciate every single thing I do for them.  But when dealing with the office, it is clear that I am undervalued and unappreciated.  I have had neither a performance review nor a raise since I started.  I am smart.  I am experienced.  I have a car.  I speak clear English.  I could get another PSW job in an hour.  But I stay because I love my clients.

Both jobs give me a sense of balance between light and dark, which is important to me.  I have the light of tarot and counselling people as they enter new beginnings in their lives such as careers and love.  And I have the dark of death, dealing with people in the twilight of their life.  I make a tangible impact on people’s lives every day.  I know with evidence that I make the world a better place through both my magic and my muggle job. Working both these makes me whole.  What it doesn’t do is give me balance of time, as previously mentioned.  Or balance of health.  The career of a PSW is short lived.  Back injuries and burnout are common.  Pay is better than it was, but still lower than RNs and RPNs.  At 45 minutes on the hour, it’s hard to make a living wage.  It is physically grueling work where I literally deal with human feces every single day.  I know that my days as a PSW are limited because my body will give out.  I have lost about 50 lbs which will prolong my career a bit, but not until retirement.  Which is why I am building my tarot career to one day be full time.  But for now, I still do love my community grannies and am not ready to give them up.

The Family Reunion Gift From Tarot

About a year and a half ago, my friend Brad told me that he knew someone who was interested in tarot.  She owned a restaurant at the time across the street from his shop, and encouraged me to pop over and meet her some time.  I put it off for a while, then finally did go over to met Missy and talk about tarot.  We made friends quickly, and found we had a lot in common- more than either of us realized at the time.

One day, while my ex and I were there having a bite, she says to me “I think we’re related”.  And I’m thinking “yeah, yeah, in the grand scheme of things we’re all connected somehow.”  Then she asks “do you know Gail Brown?”.  Of course I knew Gail!  She was my aunt!  I hadn’t seen her since she moved out west many years ago.  But I remember going to her beach house and learning from her how to knit intarsia as a child.  Gail is Missy’s grandmother!  We used to play together at the beach in Ipperwash!  This new friend was my… what… 1st cousin twice removed?  Something like that.   I remember her being a bit of a snob back then, but she’s absolutely one of the kindest, most charismatic, friendly, empathetic person I’ve ever met- and a damned good cook to boot!

I started to learn so much about that side of the family.  My mom’s siblings were the product of several marriages and divorces, and were scattered all over the continent.  I knew my dad’s side of the family slightly better, but my dad’s sisters were all much older than he is, and my father is extremely introverted, so I was never really close with any of my cousins.  I heard my peers talk about growing up with their cousins, and I always felt like I missed out.  And now, I don’t have to.  Missy has a daughter about the same age as my daughter, and a sister, Jennifer, as well as other siblings I have yet to meet.

I have green eyes.  Both my parents have blue eyes.  All three of my siblings were born with blue eyes.  There were childhood jokes about how I was the juice man’s daughter (we had juice delivered weekly to the house, I’ll blog on that issue at some point).  Missy looked in my eyes once and saw her niece.  She showed me photos of her niece, and another cousin, and for the first time ever, I saw my eyes in another person and I looked like family.

I’ve learned a lot about family histories and family patterns.  I have no contact with my mother because, well, she’s a sociopath.  Everything to do with my mom was rejected by my sisters and I because we wanted so much to be nothing like her.  It turns out that Missy had an unfortunate run in with my mother when she tried to buy a used bed that was not in the condition that it was purported to be in.  Missy was nervous that I was going to be like my mom.  Luckily, I inherited my work ethic and morals from my dad.  Unfortunately, I also inherited his luck with dating.  My parents split when I was 18, and though my dad dated a bit on and off, My mom went from boyfriend to boyfriend, husband to husband, without skipping a beat, often with much overlap between the two.  I went 8 years between Ryan and Will without a serious relationship.  Turns out, this is kind of a pattern with that side of the family- not the chronic lying and cheating performed by my mother, but the never being single part.  Missy says that my aunt was always seeing someone new.  Missy has said that this is one of the first times in her life that she’s actually been single.  I’ve never really been able to hear anything about that side of the family.  I always wondered where my intuition came from, and it turns out, my maternal grandmother had gifts and an interest in tarot.  She was also an artist- something I have always felt alone in my family about.  My daughter has inherited this gift of art, too, and though she won’t admit it, the intuitive gift as well.

Some other patterns have been noted in that side of the family besides dating, art and tarot.  There’s a history of alcohol abuse, mental illness and suicide- issues that I have battled myself in the past.  Being aware of a genetic link makes these easier to cope with and treat.  I am no longer the depressed outcast of the family who requires medication.  I am not alone.  I belong.

There is another pattern that I’ve had a closer look at.  As previously mentioned, I have no relationship with my mother.  My maternal grandmother died when my mom was young.  My relationship with my own daughter is hanging by a thread.  When trying to find out about the wellbeing of family on that side that lives in Florida in the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, I found out that Jennifer has no relationship with her grandmother, my aunt.  There are at least four generations of women disconnected from their mothers.  I have no idea how far back this goes, but I have decided that it stops here.  My daughter and I have discussed it, and we are going to start counselling together.

All that from a shared interest in a deck of cards.

The Good Druid’s Garden August 2017

So glad to restart this series!  I missed doing this.  I mentally call it “The Flora and Fauna Report”

My back yard brings me so much pleasure!  Daniel and I parted ways on Ostara, and although we are still on good terms, I’m on my own with the gardening.  I was really good at managing the yard in May and June, and then July just got away from me.  Between the full time muggle job and the full time business, there’s not much time left over for gardening.  My teenager has been working at a summer camp, so she hasn’t been available, and my dad’s health is not well.  I have an amazing roommate, but she travels a lot, and when home, isn’t available often to help with yardwork.  My sister was helping me with mowing while my back was injured, but she has a life, too.  I may just need to hire a gardener.

The trumpet vine continues to be the bane of my existence.  In the past month, it has completely taken over the yard.  I should have enough headway made to give it a mow by tomorrow.  I really do need a better solution.

I decided to wait another year for the vegetable bed.  The soil was all clay, so next March or April I am going to replace the gate, and then April or May build a raised bed and have a square metre of good top soil delivered.  That will be so much better than digging through clay so dense that carrots couldn’t grow down more than 2 inches.  I prices tomato cages, and they were like $8 each!  So instead I am going to install a chain link fence and train tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc to grow into a living wall.  The living wall may wait another year.

All 5 of my trees survived the winter well and are thriving.  My service berry trees were a little touch and go as a kid had come by and ripped the top off.  I was watching, mom was walking beside her and did nothing, just broke the poor sapling in half while walking home from school.  But they are doing okay.  Too little for any fruit yet.  The tree that was labelled “cherry” gave me 5 beautiful peaches, which was an unexpected surprise.  I was told not to expect fruit for 10 years, and it was wonderful to get peaches the first year.  And the tree that was labelled “plum” has some sort of other strange berry growing, not sure if it’s edible.  I will have to contact reforest London with a photo.  I would still like to get a plum tree, apple tree and pear tree, as well as a Japanese maple for the front.  I have visions of growing all of my produce some day.  Not sure if I’ll be able to grow the 3-4 bushels of romas that I use every year for canning, but I can try.

My herb garden… funny story.  So, my herb garden has traditionally been the one garden that grows really well.  I have great soil there.  The weeds like it too!  So I was told to just put mulch down, and that will slow down the weeds.  So I dug my rows, planted seeds, and put a big ol’ thick layer of mulch on it.  The weeds slowed down, but almost none of my herbs came through.  I imagine next spring when I till up the mulch, all of my herbs will start sprouting in random places.

My client had an extra umbrella and some extra outdoor chair cushions and I have been putting them to good use.  I love sitting out there on my mornings off (getting rarer and rarer) as I sip tea and enjoy the crisper mornings.  I have a few cardinals in my yard who flutter back and forth between my neighbours’ two trees.  I wonder what my yard will look like in 20 years.  The houses in my neighbourhood are about 40 years old, and some of the maples and oaks are massive!  It makes me think about the progression of my life- how I was a homeless teenager, how often I went without food, how much I moved around, to now actually owning a nice, safe, comfortable home.  Even after being here for over four years, I finally am starting to feel secure in my own home.  I was unsure at first, as work was precarious, boyfriends and roommates were unreliable, and I kept thinking that I would be forced to sell.  I am so glad that I decided to stay.  This is the best investment that I have ever made.  Having a place to call home, my own castle, matters so much to me.  Especially when I am in my yard enjoying tea, or having a fire in the pit before bed, I am at home.

Lughnasadh is Important, Too!

Every year around Lughnasadh, there always seems to be a bunch of posts about this holiday, and how many Neo-Pagans don’t feel connected to this day, and therefore, skip it altogether.  The point of me writing this is not to tell you how to practice your religion, but rather to illustrate that a wheel of the year missing a major spoke may not stay much of a wheel for long.

What is Lughnasadh?  Lughnasadh (pronounced (Loo-NAH-Sa) is one of the four fire festivals in Druidry.  As Druids start their day the night before, Lughnasadh starts on the Eve of July 31st at dusk and lasts until dusk on August 1st.  It translates to “The Games of Lugh’s Mother”, and recognises her passing and his accomplishments through games, athletics, fire, storytelling and of course, feasting.

I fear that, one reason why so many don’t resonate with this holiday is because of its confusing with the Catholic Mass of Bread, or Lammas.  They may fall on the same day, but Lammas does not equal Lughnasadh.  When so many struggle to heal from trauma and conditioning from The Church, it’s understandable why a bunch of Pagans wanting to do a Catholic holiday may be a turn off.  Yes, of course, early Catholics borrowed heavily from their pagan predecessors, as many gods became saints, and many High Days became holy masses.  But Lughnasadh is not really one of them.

I think that the urge to skip Lughnasadh can also stem from a disconnect with the Earth.  In my neck of the woods, so to speak, in SouthWestern Ontario, we very clearly have eight seasons.  Being a Druid away from the land of my ancestors, it’s important to recognize these changes.  Most of today’s paganism is agrarian based, so simply looking around at what’s going on with our farmers is a key indication that something is different.  Dusk creeps up noticeably sooner than it did at Midsummer.  Early morning presents a nip in the air.  Cricket chirps have replaced the frog sounds at night.  And yes, much of our harvest is ready for the picking now, including grain.  I can see how a link with Lammas would be confusing.  Summer squashes, peppers and tomatoes are also ripe, as well as many other fresh produce that we’ve had to import for a year.  Our ancestors would have not had these at all, or would have had to pay much higher prices.  These foods are what we should eat at the post ritual feast.  Corn on the cob is a Lughnasadh favourite of mine.

So if you are celebrating solo, what could you do as a part of your ritual?

Baking bread is a Lammas thing, not Lugnasadh.   But if you want to do that, no one is stopping you.  Personally, I think it’s too hot to bake.

Today we celebrate Lugh and his mother. Lugh was the Skilled One, so anything that you are skilled at, you can do in his honour.

If you play an instrument, you can write or learn a new song about him.


We honour his mother through game and sport. Anything athletic and for fun. You could have a water fight, egg race, etc. Think Highland Games.

You can also honour the role of mothers and mother figures in your life, as Lugh honoured Tailtui.

Go to a farmer’s market and pick up some fresh local produce for tonight.

And of course, with any Celtic High Day, fire and feasting… and mead.

So you see, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Lughnasadh.  I’m not here to tell you how to practice your own faith, but perhaps if your only thoughts of this fantastic day are to skip it, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

New and Improved Website! (And a Tarot Sale)

Welcome to my new blog and website!  After waaaaaayyyyy too long with a server nightmare, corrupted files, tears and frustration, and eventually having to call my ex in to navigate, it became obvious that I needed to start my website from scratch.  It sucks to lose 300 subscribers, 6 years worth of blogging and some bangin’ SEO, but I’ll get it back.  My business is growing in leaps and bounds!  I can’t believe that it’s only been two years, and how much repeat business I get from clients who are happy with their results.  I’m so humbled to be able to to such good in this world.  The website still needs a little tweaking here and there, but at least it’s functional.

But, there’s another small hiccup.  My booking system will be down until Thursday.  At which point… WE NEED TO CELEBRATE!

So from Friday, July 28th- Thursday August 3rd, all tarot readings will be HALF OFF!

30 minutes- $25

60 minutes $40

Now that I have my website back, I really do need to start blogging again.  At my blog’s heyday, I got about 20 000 hits a year.  Not too shabby.  I have dreams of knocking out an entry a day, but that may be a little much at first.

Many thanks over the past few weeks to Sherry Simoes, Effy Wild, Cat Mira, Ed Corbett, Terrie Brookins, Paula Mould, Sarah Crocker and Daniel McMillan.