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Monday, May 2, 2016

The 2016 Summer Reading List is coming!

I don't have any specific titles yet, but plans do include my son's copy of H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu, and my husband's copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. I will be sifting through my Amazon and Goodreads reading lists for more material. Stay tuned :) If you are interested in reading along with me, I begin chipping away at the Reading List on Memorial Day (May 30, the 'official' kickoff of summer here in the US). Here's to ice cold lemonade, shady reading nooks, and warm sunny summer days!



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blessed Walpurgisnacht! (Or Happy Beltane!)

'Tis May Eve, my dear friends, May Eve, that joyous, magickal, mystical night that brings us the blooming beauty of Spring! Thank you so much for spending National Poetry Month with me! I wish you all a wonderful May Day tomorrow!


Beltane Bride



Harken to the drums of the Beltane fire
Pounding out its rhythm as the flames leap higher
Dancing around it, your senses overcome
Moving with abandon in time with the drum

The longing in your belly starts to rise
Along with the passion that shows in your eyes
Sweat soaks your body, your bloods on fire
You tremble with the force of your raging desire

You start to chant the ancient rhyme
Calling to your lover “come to me, be mine
Come lie with me in the wildwood tonight
In honour of the Ancients, let us unite”

Then through the smoke and dancing flames you see
The one that you yearn for, wild, proud and free
Wearing the antlers of the horned god on his brow
He watches you intently, then gives you a bow

You, are his chosen one, he’ll lie with you this night
Deep in the forest under the stars shinning bright
Like the Lady and her Lord, you two will be as one
As you make love to the rhythm of the distant Beltane drum

The drums are now silent with the dawn of the new day
Your loving now more gentle, for no drum beat now holds sway
Buried deep within you, his fertile seed pours forth
With each powerful thrust of his, you feel its potent warmth

A Blessing was bestowed on you virgins both that night
By the Lady and the Lord, the only witness to your rite
Today is our Hand Fasting, he whispers softly at your side
I will love you for eternity, my beloved Beltane Bride.

Blessed Be



                         Happy Beltane (May Day) Poem  

                                ~Metal Gaia


 Between the twilight of spring and summer
The hunter has come for the may queen 
In fields of gold and beds of flower
He plows her land, so fertile and green

Erect the may pole
So we may dance 
The hunter has come, God is here! 
His crown the golden disk of sun 
Reigning in summer yet another year. 




The Beltane Chase
Traditional
Ladies:
I shall go as a wren in spring
With sorrow and sighing on silent wing
And I shall go in our Lady's name
Aye, till I come home again.
Men:
And we shall follow as falcons grey
And hunt thee cruelly as our prey
And we shall go in our Master's name
Aye, to fetch thee home again.
Ladies:
Then I shall go as a mouse in May
In the fields by night and cellars by day
And I shall go in our Lady's name
Aye, till I come home again.
Men:
But we shall follow as fat tom cats
And chase thee through the corn and vats
And we shall go in our Master's name
Aye, to fetch thee home again.
Ladies:
Then I shall go as an Autumn hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care
And I shall go in our Lady's name
Aye, till I come home again.
Men:
But we shall follow as swift grey hounds
And dog thy tracks by leaps and bounds
And we shall go in our Master's name
Aye, to fetch thee home again.
Ladies:
Then I shall go as a Winter trout
With sorrow sighing and mickle doubt
And I shall go in our Lady's name
Aye, till I come home again.
Men:
But we shall follow as otter's swift
And snare thee faster thou can'st shift
And we shall go in our Master's name
Aye, to fetch thee home again.
Ladies:
Aye, and I'll come home again.



Friday, April 29, 2016

Theodora Goss and my favorite faerie tale


Beauty to the Beast

Beauty to the Beast

by Theodora Goss

When I dare walk in fields, barefoot and tender,
trace thorns with my finger, swallow amber,
crawl into the badger’s chamber, comb
lightning’s loose hair in a crashing storm,
walk in a wolf’s eye, lie
naked on granite, ignore the curse
on the castle door, drive a tooth into the boar’s hide,
ride adders, tangle the horned horse,
when I dare watch the east
with unprotected eyes, then I dare love you, Beast.
Beauty and the Beast 2 by Walter Crane
(The illustration is by Walter Crane, from “Beauty and the Beast.”)

 https://theodoragosspoems.com

Ellie's Kitchen: Vegetarian Butter Chicken Stuffed Peppers With Mint Yogurt...though I'm not sure Gramma Ellie would have eaten this....

Tara from Suburble.com has some fabulous recipe ideas. Such as this one, that I will be making for dinner tomorrow, because it looks (and sounds!) great. I've never had butter chicken; my experience with Indian food is limited to the dal that I make and the one FABULOUS trip to India House Restaurant in Northampton, Mass that my husband and I took on our last wedding anniversary. (I am longing to return.) While I wait for that magical day to come again, I'll satisfy myself with food like this.

Vegetarian Butter Chicken Stuffed Peppers with Minted Sour Cream
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 medium sized bell peppers, with top 1/5th removed, including stem and seeds
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 package Patak's Butter Chicken for Two
  • 1 can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cup of plain greek yogurt
  • 3-4 sprigs of mint, finely minced
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a saucepan over medium, saute the onions and chickpeas until onions are translucent
  3. At the same time, boil a pot of water big enough to submerge the peppers
  4. Boil peppers for 5 minutes and then remove and turn upside down in order to drain
  5. Once onion is cooked, add rice and Butter Chicken sauce
  6. Saute for five minutes
  7. Place peppers into a baking dish, fill with butter chicken mixture
  8. Bake for 15 minutes
  9. While baking, mix mint with yogurt and put aside
  10. Finish peppers with a healthy dollop of yogurt and a sprig of mint, if you're fancy like that!

Does anyone have a favorite Indian dish? I'd love to check it out. Leave me a message in the comments. Thanks!!

We are nearing the end of National Poetry Month...

and one of these years I will manage to keep up with it. Four poems today, because I am four days behind. Tomorrow, May eve, will become a poetry extravaganza, tied up with preparations for Beltane and all things joyful.

Daisy Time
 
See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies' dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer's praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies. 


Ode on the Spring

By Thomas Gray

Lo! where the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
Fair Venus' train appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo's note,
The untaught harmony of spring:
While whisp'ring pleasure as they fly,
Cool zephyrs thro' the clear blue sky
Their gather'd fragrance fling.

Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader, browner shade;
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
O'er-canopies the glade,
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclin'd in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the crowd,
How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!

Still is the toiling hand of Care:
The panting herds repose:
Yet hark, how thro' the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honied spring,
And float amid the liquid noon:
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gaily-gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the sun.

To Contemplation's sober eye
Such is the race of man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the busy and the gay
But flutter thro' life's little day,
In fortune's varying colours drest:
Brush'd by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chill'd by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.

Methinks I hear in accents low
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist! and what art thou?
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glitt'ring female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone—
We frolic, while 'tis May.


Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day

By Delmore Schwartz

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,   
Metropolitan poetry here and there,   
In the park sit pauper and rentier,   
The screaming children, the motor-car   
Fugitive about us, running away,   
Between the worker and the millionaire   
Number provides all distances,   
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,   
Many great dears are taken away,   
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn ...)   
Besides the photo and the memory?
(... that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn ...)   
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days   
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run   
(This is the school in which they learn ...)   
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(... that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,   
But what they were then?
                                     No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,   
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)   
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn.


Lines Written in Early Spring

By William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?



Okay, a few more, just because.
 

Spring, the sweet spring

By Thomas Nashe

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!
            Spring, the sweet spring!



Spring

By Elfriede Jelinek

april breath
of  boyish red
the tongue crushes
strawberry dreams

                                  hack away wound
                                  and wound the fountain

and on the mouth
perspiration white
from someone's neck

a little tooth
has bit the finger
of  the bride the
                                  tabby yellow and sere
                                  howls

the red boy
from the gable flies
an animal hearkens
in his white throat
                                  his juice runs down
                                  pigeon thighs

a pale sweet spike
still sticks
in woman white
lard

an april breath
of  boyish red


Today

By Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.



In Perpetual Spring

By Amy Gerstler

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies   
and trip over the roots   
of a sweet gum tree,   
in search of medieval   
plants whose leaves,   
when they drop off   
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they   
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal   
human desire for peace   
with every other species   
wells up in you. The lion   
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,   
queen of the weeds, revives   
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt   
there is a leaf to cure it.
 
Okay...I'm done now! Enjoy the day, my friends!

Myddfai Reiki: 5 Unexpected Tricks for Replacing a Bad Habit with a Good One

5 Unexpected Tricks for Replacing a Bad Habit with a Good One


If you asked anyone how they managed to eliminate one of their old bad habits by replacing it with a good one, they might give you some vague answer like, “I just decided that I really wanted to do it,” or “I pushed myself.” While this may be true to them on the surface, it doesn’t give people like us any hints about what kind of mindset tricks they may have subconsciously used to do it.
Habit formation is an extremely personal endeavor, but there are some more specific ways you can increase your chances of success. In fact, some of the most effective tricks are pretty counterintuitive for most people. Here are just five you should consider.

Focus on a trigger rather than the habit itself.
If you want to eliminate your bad habit of plopping down on the couch after work to watch TV with a glass of wine in hand, you might say to yourself, “I’m going to start exercising for 30 minutes after work.” But focusing on the habitual change you want to make isn’t what’s going to get you to take action.
Instead, you need to establish a trigger point that gets you to take action. If you want to exercise after coming home from work, your trigger could be the point where you walk through your front door. Or it could be the point where you change out of your work clothes. So instead of simply telling yourself you’ll exercise after work, you can trigger yourself to take action by saying, ”As soon as I walk through my front door, I’m on my way to exercising.”

Take one extremely tiny action toward positive change.
 People often seek to change their habits because they want some sort of result. A focus on results means making changes substantial enough to start seeing progress in a reasonable amount of time, which is often uncomfortable to sustain day after day, week after week, and month after month. In fact, many of us greatly overestimate what we’re able to keep up with over the long run.
If you want to permanently replace a bad habit with a good one, aim to take one small action a day that only takes a few seconds or maybe a minute to complete. If it’s reading instead of watching TV, start with reading just one page of your book. If it’s flossing instead of ignoring your dental hygiene, start with just one tooth. You need to build the foundation of your habit first with a very small, impossible-to-not-do action first before trying to get real results.

Perceive difficult obstacles as valuable lessons.
Many of us have fixed mindsets, meaning we think we’re simply born with an unwavering level of talent, intelligence and other desirable traits needed for success. People with fixed mindsets see obstacles and their own mistakes as things that verify how capable or incapable they are of succeeding at something.
People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, see traits like talent and intelligence as things that can be developed over time through effort. If you have a fixed mindset, anything that gets in your way of performing your habit is likely to make you want to say “screw it” and quit. In contrast, people with growth mindsets recognize the hard stuff as things that will help them become better and develop more resilience.

Tell yourself you’re already a huge success.
The difference in wording may be subtle, but saying, “I want to successfully do [new habit],” is definitely not the same as saying, ”I am successful at doing [new habit].” By telling yourself what you want to do or what you want to become as if you’re already doing it or embodying it, you can reprogram your mind for success.
Your mind doesn’t care what’s real or fake in the moment, so even if you’re struggling to do a good job or feel confident in any new habit you’re trying to develop, your mind will start to believe you’re already a huge success if you just start talking to yourself as if you are. What you’re really doing here is simply using the power of positive affirmations to change your habits and make them stick.

Don’t get caught up in fantasizing.
Telling yourself you’re already successful can work, but that’s not always the case if it makes you get lost in fantasy land. One of the big reasons why visualization exercises don’t work so well for people who want to change is because they only visualize the positive outcome they want.
A UCLA study found that people who visualized themselves being involved in the process it takes to produce an outcome were more likely to stick with their new habits. To change your habits from bad to good, make sure you focus on the learning, the practicing, and the doing that will get you the results you’re looking for.

Habits can be tricky things to form and sustain, but with the above tips, you’ll be well ahead of everyone else struggling to simply force themselves to just do it.

Related Articles
How a Daily Journaling Ritual Could Make You Happier
5 Ways to Use the Spring Weather to Inspire Healthier Habits
5 Tips for People Who Just Can’t Seem to Stick to a Meditation Habit

Myddfai Reiki: 9 Hobbies Proven to Help Anxiety & Depression

9 Hobbies Proven to Help Anxiety & Depression

  • April 27, 2016
When it comes to addressing your depression and anxiety, working with your doctor on a treatment plan is wholly recommended—but that doesn’t mean your treatment plan should be comprised entirely of a traditional combo of therapy and medication.
Mental health professionals and researchers are increasingly recommending alternative therapies in conjunction with therapy and medication as treatment for depression and anxiety—and some of the activities proven to help may surprise you.

Playing Video Games
Gamer and author Jane McGonigal has called gaming “the neurological opposite of depression”—that’s because playing games activates parts of the brain that don’t usually get activated when you’re depressed—the ones associated with motivation, learning and goal orientation. And you don’t have to be a gamer to reap the benefits—if long, complex games aren’t your thing, think simple. Casual video games that are fun and easy to play in short increments have been shown to improve mood and decrease stress. McGonigal even created a game specifically to help increase your ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic.

Volunteering
You can help yourself by helping others, studies suggest. Not only does volunteer work improve physical health, research shows it can also counter depression and anxiety, especially in older adults.

Dancing
Bust a move. Whether you can dance circles around anyone on Dancing With the Stars or your talent is mostly confined to the Macarena and the Electric Slide, working up a sweat on the dance floor (or in your living room) has its perks. Research suggests that dance beneficially modulates concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, improving mood in those with mild depression.

Gardening
Got a green thumb? Use it to boost your mental health.Research shows that over time, gardening can decrease the severity of depression and reduce rumination, the tendency to repetitively think about upsetting things. Even keeping plants and flowers around can lower anxiety, increase relaxation, reduce perceived stress levels and reduce your chances of suffering from stress-related depression.
gardening helps depression

Playing An Instrument
You’ve probably noticed what a huge effect listening to music can have on your mood. Playing an instrument makes a major impact, too. A study of older adults taking piano lessons found that reading music and playing a music instrument decreased depression, induced a positive mood and improved psychological and physical quality of life.


Going to Art Museums
Art therapy dates back to the 1940s, but you don’t need to be handy with a paintbrush to get the benefits. Making art has been shown to boost mood, but so does viewing it. In fact, studies have shown such a direct link between the content of artwork and the brain’s response to pain, stress and anxiety that hospitals are starting to choose artwork that specifically promotes a sense of optimism and energy.

Hiking
If your version of hiking is just walking somewhat close to a tree, that’s fine, too. Numerous studies have found that just being out and about in nature has a ton of mental health benefits. Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity, according to experiments done in 24 forests across Japan. You don’t need to go that far, either—grab a friend and take a walk in a nearby park to lower perceived stress, lower depression and reduce obsessive, negative thoughts.

Exercise
Don’t worry, we won’t tell you to start training for a marathon—researchers say that anything from a 10-minute walk to a 45-minute walk can elevate a depressed mood, providing several hours of relief. Some research even suggests that regular exercise can be just as effective as medication for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in some people.

Partnering Up
Whether you’re drawing, dancing or hiking, amplify the effects of your favorite anxiety-reducing activity by inviting a friend to join you. Research shows that the presence of social support suppresses cortisol levels in response to stress, increasing calmness and decreasing anxiety.

Related:
Knitting Can Make You Happier and Healthier
10 Reasons to Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
13 Amazing Benefits of Walking