Pushing myself

As I mentioned in my holy crap, everyone is LOOKING AT ME post: It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path they’re sharing with you, to know yourself, to trust in your relationship with them. I continued to say that, it’s up to them (and you, and for me this means it’s mostly up to them) when, where, and how to push. Pushing, like everything else in the path, is going to look different for everyone, and no one not walking the path can really truly know what is pushing one’s comfort zone and what is not. My example is always: leaving my house is pushing my comfort zone. The fact that I open the door and leave every day does not ever make it easy. Having a job, in which I interact with different people five to six days a week pushes my comfort zone — the panic is almost always keyed up and ready to fly — and it never gets *easy*. (and is, in fact, part of why I do leave the house every day, why I do have a job in the public sector: to keep leaving the house be possible, despite the discomfort. It only gets worse if I don’t go outside that door.)

But that’s not the only way in which I need to push myself, and since I’ve got the subject on the brain, I figured I’d share. What else does pushing myself look like?

I’ve lamented here before about how non-observant I’ve become since the move. There are a number of contributing factors that I can point to, and they are all of them valid. Losing family members during the move, plus the stress of moving. Down time to recover from said stress and wanting to get depression under control. A new found freedom in not living quite as hand-to-mouth as we had been since moving to Oregon. My injury. Corbie’s injury (the copy-cat!) Sassy’s death. My grandfather’s illness and death, work and family drama . . . but all that? That’s life, that’s living, that exactly what I don’t want to come in between me and connecting with my gods and spirits. I want to embrace all these things, I want them to be interconnected, I want to bring the sacred into the mundane, and for a while, even for a long while, I was doing that. And then, I stopped.

Part of the problem has always been, ever since Beth and I began living together, a conflict between our approaches to ritual and festivals. Except for when Yule rolls around, my approach in incredibly informal when dealing with “immediate Family”. When it’s just me, this isn’t a problem. Light candle. Sit or stand. Present offerings. Turn inward and commune, all without speaking. When it involves more than just Beth and I, I’m able to be more external with my worship — you have to be, in a group setting, and I’ve had no problem with that. When it’s Beth and I? Beth and I is, in my head, the same as just me, and so we’ve struggled. Before we even left Philly we’d resorted to doing our own things mostly separately, and at the time that worked, but it’s stopped working. Neither of us are happy with it and so, beginning last night, we’ve begun to change that.

Speaking with various people about monthly-or-more observed festivals (specifically Hecate’s deipnon and, oddly, the Jewish erev shabbos) lately, I realized that I want something that’s every month. Specifically, erev shabbos has moved me. It’s a beautiful ritual, the coming together of family, a ritualized dinner, a sharing of life.

Except, you know. We’re not Jewish. But, taking a page from Odin’s book, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other people and their practices (see?) and, after talking it over, Beth and I decided that we wanted something similar. So, last night, we had our first Full Moon festival, with a simply (and deliciously — Beth, you rock!) cooked dinner, flowers, the setting up of our ‘hearth shrine’ — something we had in our older places that didn’t quite ever get established in our newest apartment, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until it was up again), and then, dinner spent centered around that space, talking, laughing, sharing our night somewhat formally with our gods and spirits. We have plans of making it more formal, even, or at least, having more ritual involved, but we started simply so as to not make the task daunting. Over-planning can be as bad as under-planning.

It may sound silly, yes? Obvious, even. But, in this, I pushed myself. We had a formal meal blessing. I got home from work, showered, and even got prettied-up — including a new headscarf! I think it’s been over a year since I bought a new one. I am a notoriously bad influence on Beth, in this regard. If I’m staying home and having a festival or small ritual for Poseidon, I rarely “dress up”. It’s just me! It’s just him! And — here’s a good example of pushing even if they aren’t insisting that you do — he certainly doesn’t seem to mind. My clothes are clean, I’m clean, my headspace is in the right place, and I’m there. We commune, we connect, it’s all good. Beth has picked this habit up from me, and she’s suffered for it; she needs more than just that.

Last night, instead of getting into clean “around the house” clothes (which are, by their nature, comfortable and, yes, a tad shabby, or, well loved) I dressed as though we were going out. It helped me into a more formal mindspace, and I approached the shrine in that space, and it’s uncomfortable, incredibly uncomfortable for me. That’s why my default is to not do it. (In the past, I would have swung all the way over into, “He responded favorably, he obviously prefers this, this isn’t who I am, he obviously doesn’t want *me*” which may be why I’m reluctant to do so. A history of ingrained wrong-thoughts, there.) But, I did do it, and it was uncomfortable and hard . . . and extremely rewarding. And, also, something that many of you are likely saying, “What is so surprising about that? What is so hard about putting on going-out-of-the-house-for-ritual clothing? Isn’t it obvious? Where’s the pushing in that? That’s not pushing, that’s just obvious!” And that’s my point, that’s why “It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path they’re sharing with you, to know yourself, to trust in your relationship with them,” is so important and needs to be stressed. It’s your path. It’s my path. It’s our paths we’re walking with our gods and spirits, and only by knowing ourselves, and them, can we walk our paths fully.

(pictures and some details of festival forth-coming)

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14 thoughts on “Pushing myself

  1. I totally get what you mean about it looking different for everyone. I tend towards the extremes, either very formal ritual (like Deipnon and Noumenia) or nonexistent (like most of the rest of the month). Because if I’m not going to light bunches of candles and pour all kinds of libations, then why bother, right? *sigh* I know it’s idiotic, but there it is. Your full moon celebration sounds lovely!

    • It’s not idiotic (of course, nothing *you* do is idiotic, but then I am biased in your favor) but it’s very easy to come to that mindset. And, if it works for you, great! But if not, then, you know, change it. (Not you personally. The general you).

      Also (((hugs))) just cuz.

  2. I’ve never quite understood it, but it seems like most people don’t attach any significance to their clothes. They wear whatever is expected of them (by the situation, by current fashion, etc.) and don’t think much of it. A thousand times worse if you’re female, then people expect that getting all prettied up is all sorts of fun for you, what could be better than that. Express any sort of reservations and they just don’t get it.

    I feel no call personally to push myself in those direction. But I do get why its uncomfortable and hard to do.

    Your full moon plans do sound nice.

    • Speaking for me personally, my clothes used to be about not attracting attention. So I definitely put thought into dressing, but possibly not the way people would think I did/wanted me to/etc. These days, thought does go into it, if I’m leaving the house. Beth and I were talking about it today, though: one does tend to do things differently if one is having company over, even if one is still relatively laid back with intimate, well-loved company. This was the equivalent to last night, here. Again, it sounds incredibly obvious and possibly stupid to say publicly, but it made a difference for me. A huge difference, even. It’s made my home feel homier.

  3. Reblogged this on Eating the Hearts and commented:
    Another great post from Naiadis, illustrating how pushing past your comfort zones may not look the same for you as it does for the next person.

    As a quick example of my own, the monthly full moon ritual/dinner we inaugurated on Friday night was not a challenge in the least for me; I love to get dressed up for ritual and spend time with my gods and spirits in a more formal setting and I’ve missed doing that. The blue hair, on the other hand–THAT is a comfort zone buster for me. It really is different for everyone, and while I would DEFINITELY say it’s important to keep striving to push past your limitations (and I say that even as someone with fibromyalgia; if I didn’t push past my limitations every day I’d never leave my bed), what constitutes that for YOU should be dictated by your gods and spirits, and not by other people (no matter how experienced and/or well-meaning).

    Ahem. *Gets off soapbox (for now)*

    • Another great example of how, for all that we have in common, you and I have some vast differences, too.

      The blue hair is gorgeous.

  4. Another wonderful post. I too have wanted to push myself when it comes to ritual with Loki. We’re so laid back that I almost forget the sacred parts of our relationship. I like the idea of dressing up at least once a month–even every Saturday for that’s His day, and making myself beautiful for Him. The last time I cooked for Him was for our little wedding ritual and that is pushing myself. I’m a very insecure and inexperienced cook but I know Loki loved the salmon I made Him because it was hard for me to cook for my Husband. He deserves a good meal cooked by His adoring and beautiful wife every once in a while.

    • We’re so laid back that I almost forget the sacred parts of our relationship.

      I can relate to this so very, very much.

      There are so many good things that go into cooking a meal for our gods. Even for cooking for other humans, at it’s most basic level, cooking, offering of food, of nourishment, sharing of one’s life, is extraordinarily generous. Easy to get away from that idea in our world of convenience not-quite-foods, unfortunately, but still very much true. Add to that the concept that the gods are not mortal, are not flesh, do not need food in order to survive, the act is that much more powerful and giving.

  5. Thank you for this post. I find that I want to push myself and dedicate myself more to my Mister, but I don’t always know how. You’ve given me a few ideas.

  6. I think it is great that you two chose to do something a bit more special and unifying in your particular family/household. I am usually big into the Noumenia for this myself 🙂 There is nothing wrong with having an assortment of different types of rituals of course, and many of my more regular ones throughout the month have a bit less pomp than the Noumenia or the major festivals *grin*

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