Thursday, 30 June 2011

Self-responsibility: My Pagan Value

This month has been about Pagan Values for some of the blogosphere.  I had intended to take part and post a few things but babies and hospitals got in the way a little.  I shall probably post some things over the next month or so anyway as the topic is of great interest to me.

Central to my Pagan practices is the relationship I have with my surroundings.  I include my relationship with the Gods as part of my surroundings.  I attempt to live in harmony with those around me and part of that is being responsible for my actions and choices.

Self-responsibility is easy to talk about and theorise about but living it day by day is a lot harder.  To me it means accepting the consequences of my actions.  It also means that I control how I react to situations and the actions of others.  If I let someone control me then it's not that person who is at fault but me.  I have given away my responsibility, my power, to another.  If this is true then I can take that responsibility and power back if I choose too.

However, I need to be flexible as well.  If I do not give any responsibility then I can not share power with another and that is also a very lonely road.  I give responsibility and power to others, most notably my husband, and I call this trust.  I trust others with my responsibilities and they trust me with theirs.  This is responsibility for my emotions as well as my physical world.  In other words, I trust them not to willingly hurt my feelings and to not abuse our relationships.  If that person violates that trust, I must take back my responsibility for that relationship and not allow that person to continue to violate it.  This is self-responsibility in action, to my mind.

I guess what I am saying is that self-responsibility in my relationships is key to building harmony with my surroundings.  I feel this is an important Value for everyone but as a Pagan where we don't particularly have a guiding text or set of texts this is even more important.  Paganism, to me, is such an individual path that we need to be even more mindful of our Values and Principles.  I think that walking a path that is more individual requires more discipline as we have to make up our own minds and decide our own principles for faith.  Hang on, in other words, we are responsible for our own actions as Pagans.

This is why self-responsibility is so important, to my view, to my practice as a Pagan and as a person in general.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Brief update

Two weeks into babydom and I think my brain may actually be starting to re-emerge but Im not sure yet.  I've had ideas for posts here but when I come to sit down and write between feeds and whatnot the words have gone to sleep along with the baby.  We are working on going out today so I am hoping that some fresh air will help.  Fingers crossed, eh?

In other news: Cub now has a gazillion teddy bears and is putting on weight like a good 'un.  I'm not sure if these two things are related but there you go.  He is two weeks today and has put on 13ounces in that time.  Go Cub!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Joy Pockets

Wow, is it Friday already?  Yikes.  This week has been a little blurry.  This week has been lived pretty much on a day by day basis.  Having a baby really does make you focus on the present or at least on the few hours between feeds.

My Joy Pockets for this week are:

A sleeping baby!
Getting out of the hospital
Watching Daddy's face when he feeds his son.

Yes, this week I am a tad obsessed with the baby but I think that is understandable, don't you?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

When bottle feeding is baby-led parenting

While I was pregnant I stumbled upon the concept of attachment parenting and baby-led parenting.  I like the concept and I think I am becoming a baby-led parent.  This means that I will mindfully engage with my baby and follow their needs.  This does not mean that I will sacrifice my needs for my baby's but instead understand that my baby needs me to be me and that in order to fully meet my baby's needs I must balance those needs with my own.

Going hand in hand with this is the breastfeeding vs. formula/bottle feeding debate.  This has been a hot topic for a while on the internet.  I have seen some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the argument and some pretty inflamatory statements.  The general gist is that breastfeeding is natural and that formula was invented for when women couldn't breastfeed.  At the end of the day, I think that mother's make the decision that is right for them.  This post is not the place to rehash this debate.

Instead, I want to talk about how being a baby-led parent actually led me to bottle feeding.  Cub has a tongue-tie and breastfeeding is at best a trial and at worse a freaking nightmare.  Cub got to the point of hysteria every time we tried to latch.  End result, a baby losing weight and becoming jaundiced.  I could see he was becoming yellower and I decided that we needed to top up my meagre ability to express/breastfeed with formula food.  Feeding Cub from a cup was ok but he wore more than he drank and he got stressed as it took forever to get the food he wanted.  We kept trying to latch on and he got more and more stressed.

Finally, I had to take a step back.  Here was my lovely adorable baby who was getting stressed every time feeding time came up.  I was so tired from trying to settle my baby that I was starting to dread feeding time as well.  The idea of bottle feeding was tempting but I still wanted to breastfeed.  I knew that if I introduced the bottle then I probably wouldn't breastfeed.  Then it hit me.  I was putting my pride before my baby.  My desire to breastfeed was overpowering the real need.  My baby needed food.  How he got that food was really just not that important.  What was important was that he got something to give him fuel.  Cup feeding was still causing stress.  Breastfeeding was making him hysterical.  Bottle feeding was the alternative.

So, we opted to bottle feed the milk I was expressing anyway.  The first feed was impressive with the difference.  Gone was my hysterical, red faced baby.  Instead he stared up into my eyes with his gorgeous baby blues and watching everything around him.  He was a happier baby and is now putting back on the weight.  Listening to my baby's cues helped us to reach the best solution for all of us.  I hope I can remain in a place where I can listen to my baby and reach the best solution that way.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

New Kitten

I havent posted in over a week because I became a Mama Kitty this last week.  I was then stuck in hospital with no internet worth speaking of.  The Cub and I are fine and I eventually discharged myself in disgust for the lack of proper care.  Cub is simply adorable and that isnt just my biased opinion.  Everyone who has seen him agrees.

So, without further ado.  Here is the Cub.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Joy Pockets

I am restarting taking part in Joy Pockets from Holistic Mama.  The idea is that on a Friday or Saturday you post things that have brought you joy over the past week.  I love this idea.  It's good for reviewing your week in a positive light and is especially good when you have had a bad week.

So, here are my Joy Pockets for this week.

Ice cream on hot days
Being pampered by my husband
Celebrating many birthdays
Gorgeous fluffy reusable nappies being delivered
Finishing craft projects
Colouring in for grown ups

What are your Joy Pockets for this week?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pagan Values or the Values of a Pagan?

I found out yesterday that in the Blogosphere June is the month of the Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Event.  This event is in its third year and it dovetailed nicely into my last post and also into my thoughts at the moment.

Other bloggers have and will be looking at what Pagan Values are and I will probably post at some point on a similar vein.  However, I was thinking last night about whether my values brought me to Paganism or did I adopt them as a result of discovering Paganism.  And the answer is a little of both.

I was brought up to be responsible for my actions and to accept responsibility when I make a mistake.  I was also brought up to seek out my own answers rather than rely on others to give me an opinion.  Maybe my parents were different to others in their attitudes but they encouraged me to explore who I am and to be who I want to be and to not let others dictate my actions. Independent thought was highly prized in my family.

My values grew up around my experiences in childhood of being shown respect and offering respect in return.  Personal space was acknowledged and permission was sought before entering another person's room.  I remember being shocked when visiting my best friend's and her parents walked into her room without knocking.  The idea that anyone would do that was completely alien to me.  This sense of respect and self-responsibility has stuck with me throughout my life and Paganism, to me, incorporates those values.

I stumbled across Paganism about nine years (eek) ago.  I often think it found me rather than I found it.  I was drawn to it because I found a faith that answered that feeling of rightness.  My path has led me to look at different branches of Paganism but in all areas my own values matched with the values of that branch.  So, were my values Pagan in nature?  Yes.  Had I been a Pagan all the time I held those values? No.

I guess what I am saying is that my values played a huge part in becoming Pagan.  Those values influenced my choices and the way I view the world which in turn led me to a Pagan path.  Have I adopted different values as a result of being Pagan? Not really.  Instead, Paganism held me to solidify and understand my values and how those values fit into the context of my community - both Pagan and secular.  If I had never discovered Paganism would I understand myself as much? I really don't know but the encouragement I have found in Pagan Paths for self-exploration have certainly aided my understanding of my values and why I hold them.

So, my values are Pagan but they are also Pagan Values.  I get a sense of belonging from knowing my values are Pagan Values but I would have them regardless.  So maybe looking at Pagan Values is less about values and more about finding that sense of belonging?  And I think that may be the subject of another post.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Understanding from hate?

Some blogs I follow are currently taking part in a blog contest over at Circle of Moms and it's brought up some interesting insights for me.  There has been some hatefilled blog posts from participants as well as some amazing attempts at understanding.  Yes, it has become very extreme for some - including some death threats from what I have heard - but thing this is, it's actually creating a discourse.  Those who are being extreme are being seen as such and it appears that some bloggers are trying even harder to understand as a result.  There has been open admiration for the spirit of community that Pagans are showing each other and this is something to be celebrated.

Granted, it hasnt been a good ride and I suspect that jealousy has a lot to do with the viciousness (given that the current winner is a Pagan) but at the end of the day the Pagans are coming out as the 'better people'.  By coming together to support each other and refusing to take part in the mud-slinging Pagans are really demonstrating their faith.  The belief in community and spiritual strength being shown really does show Paganism in life and in blogging.

To me, Paganism is about a sense of community and living your life as honourably as possible.  By honourable, I mean treating other respectfully and working to maintain a harmony with the world around me.  That does include standing up for myself as needed but doing so in an understanding way and in a way that helps others to understand my position.  It is my personal belief that understanding comes through being willing to listen to others and being able to accept differences between people.

This competition has created some heated discussion but, at the end of the day, it has created discussion.  When the contest is over what will people remember?  The defamation or the strength of the Pagan community?  How many people that would never have looked at Paganism will have taken the time to look at the blogs in the contest and possibly even reached an understanding of it?  Maybe I'm just a happy optimist but I can't help but see the positives that may come out of all this.  This is not to ignore the strength of feeling of some of the bloggers but to try and see that even in their hatred they are forced to look at their own strengths and weaknesses and maybe gain a better understanding of themselves.

And, to this Pagan, there is no better outcome than a greater understanding of who you are and how you relate to your faith.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Don't Forget to Breathe

I'm not very good at waiting.  Patience is something I have to work at in many aspects of my life.  In some areas I have apparently infinite patience - most notably when people need my help - but in others, let's just say I want it and I want it NOW!

Right now, I want my baby here NOW and I want my kitchen and bathroom NOW.  I would prefer the kitchen and bathroom to be finished first but Im not sure if I will get my wish.

Ok... Here is the story.

I live in a rented flat.  I am now a whole week away from my due date.  Three weeks ago (meaning I was 36 weeks pregnant) we were informed that the landlord would be refitting our kitchen.  Fine, we thought.  Great!  We need a new kitchen.  Ours is/was looking a bit, well, crappy.  We figured yes it would be complicated with a new baby in the home but we would be fine as by then junior would be a couple months old.  Then we got the news... They were starting the refit the following week! And! We would be getting a new bathroom as well.  Cue a slightly (read: mildly hysterical, hormonal, pregnant woman) stressed out me.

My nesting instincts kicked in at about, oh, 24weeks.  Everything had to be in the right place. EVERYTHING.  I had a schedule for making sure this happened.  I had it all worked out when we would have the nursery finished, when we would rearrange the bedroom to make sure we could fit in a moses basket for the first few months and when we would make sure the living room was baby friendly.  It was a little mental to be honest but I felt happier with my list of things to do and my schedule of when it should be done.

Oh my do the Gods laugh when people make plans!

I had just started to get things just right when my living room had to stand in as a kitchen.  My nursery became the only place to put the bathroom things and the bedroom had to hold the hall furniture so that the builders could easily access everything.  I dealt with it the only way I could... I went to bed.  I admit it.  I pulled the covers over my head and, frankly, lost it.

Now, here I sit, waiting.  Waiting to get my home back.  Waiting for my baby to appear.  And just a little... fed up.  However, I am actually learning patience.  I am learning to live with the mess.  I'm trying to find the lesson in all this, maybe even enjoy it.  Until then... where is my bed? ;)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog?

I've been debating whether to blog again after Google ate my last blog.  I was having trouble finding the impetus to blog with all the exciting and involved things happening in my life at the time.  However, the last few days I have discovered something.  I need to write.

Blog entries were writing themselves in my head.  Ideas started popping up and the urge to write about them came back.  I need to take these ideas and put them down.  I maintained my old blog for 4 years before it met it's untimely demise.  I love the act of writing, of finding the words as they appear on the screen in front of me.  For the past six or so months the creativity that drives me has been somewhat distracted with other projects, including pregnancy, and I have missed writing.  The ideas just haven't been there.  Maybe I could have pulled something out the ether but I frankly didn't have the energy to spare to plug at it the way it would need.  So I gave myself permission to take a break.

I needed a break.  It's as simple as that.  I needed to take time to myself and to relax, to recoup my energy.  Now, I am a week away from giving birth (if the hospital is correct with my due date, but that's another story) and I have the urge to write again.  I have no idea where this blog will go and where the journey will lead me but that is ok.  I will no doubt burble on about my baby, my beliefs and my writing here but I am giving myself permission to relax and just see what turns up.  In my previous blog I felt I should showcase my writing and writing deep, meaningful entries and I think that contributed to my losing the urge to write.  It became a chore and not a joy.  Now, the joy has returned and I want to keep it going.

Here's to the journey!