Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Friendship is a Blessing




So this week the topic is friends and friendships. I have always prided myself on being a good friend. In fact many people have told me that I hang on to people long after I should let them go. I feel that every person in my life holds or held a special place for as long as they were meant to, no matter why that person is no longer in my life…And let’s not kid, some people are not in my life for very obvious reasons, while some wandered away due to changes in beliefs, locations and lifestyle choices. It doesn’t mean we are not still connected it just means I no longer consider those people the true definition of a “friend.”



The definition of a friend by wiki standards is: is a relationship between two or more people who hold mutual affection for each other.



I keep my friends as long as I can, forever, if possible. I love all my friends for their faults, and their good qualities, their love, their laughter, their quirks, their tears…Everything. I try, as much as I can, to be a loyal companion for them. To be there with them through thick and thin, for whatever they need, and whatever hardships they face, or even if they just want to get pissed and talk about sex.


I have always been good at making friends; I can pretty much talk to anyone, so there has never been a shortage of awesome people in my life. Male, female, straight, gay, Christian, pagan and everything that falls in-between. In high school I was the mother hen of our little group and still take on that role a bit now that I am adult. I am the person my friends usually call when they need help or advice, a shoulder to cry on or someone to take them shopping, get them drunk or have coffee with when as one of my good friends says, “shit has gone down.”


You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Dale Carnegie



I have picked up my friends from bars when they were too drunk to drive, picked them up from hospitals, schools and police stations, I have carpooled, baby sat and held their babies after they were born. I have eaten, slept besides, camped, gossiped and danced with them. I have consoled, gone to funerals, listened to and told deep dark secrets, cleaned up vomit, held back hair, gone on vacation and laughed with these people. I have spoken out for and defended them, I have told them when they are full of shit, I have fed, housed, given money to, worshipped with, praised, been scared for, been proud of and had shame for them. Above all else I have loved them and I hope they have loved me, for most of them have done for me what I have for them.

Each of my friends has held a different role in my life and no one could replace them. I have given them all nicknames and special abilities to single them out in short stories and poems and some I have even tried to immortalize in my novels.

The conventional wisdom is that good friendships enhance an individual's sense of happiness and overall well-being, but a number of solid studies support the notion that strong social supports improve a woman's prospects for good health and longevity. Conversely, it has been shown that loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates.


There are many different types of friend ships that I have been proud to have in my almost 30 years of life.

I have had associates, allies, freenmies, and imaginary friend (or two lol), friends who are solely online, gay friends, straight male friends, friends I had sex with, friends I fell in love with, pen pals, regular friends, and best friends. Sometimes I have more than one best friend at a time. Many people don’t believe this is possible, but I do.

Urban Dictionary states a best friend is: Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you. In most cases they would take a bullet for you, coz it would be too painful to watch you get hurt.

I think I am lucky to be able to say I have had many best friends, sometimes more than one at a time, fulfilling different roles in different social circles. I can only hope I have been the best friend of many as well.

Friendships end, it is a fact of life. Whether it’s because of a disagreement, maybe a significant other, perhaps it was just time to move on. Friendships can end with a bang or a whimper, sometimes with no sound at all and sometimes with a shit load of drama. It is the good things, the memories; the lessons learned that we should take away with us, not the negative and not the bitterness.

I have said it before and I will say it again, you never run out of love, it is infinite and you can always make more, you can never have too many friends, too many people in your life that love you. If you do not have friends it is only through your own doing and the blame cannot lie with anyone but yourself.

Making a friend is easy

Keeping a friend, that’s the difficult part.

List of Famous Friends:


Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton (organized the women’s rights movement)

Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Harry Potter and Roland Weasley

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Han Solo and Chewbacca

C.S.Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien


Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.

Elbert Hubbard



Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Belated Valentine's Day and Family... So Love, really




First off congrats to me this blog has reached 1200 views!

So I know, sure a little late. But let’s talk about Valentine’s Day for the first half of this week’s blog (Have to get it in now, school starts tomorrow).

Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Everyone knows that, some people dread it, some people enjoy it. People get engaged on V-day, some get married. There are all kinds of traditions, which I will get into in a bit.

This was a pretty good V-day for me, actually. My boyfriend (You know the Librarian) got me red roses and lilies as well as the first season of Doctor Who (squeee!) and he took me out to dinner also. So for me this was a kick ass celebration a tons better than V-days in the past. Though I have gotten a series of nice and humorous gifts from the boys I have dated throughout the years.

I find myself torn on Valentine’s Day between irritation, because it seems to be such a forced holiday, and longing because it’s a holiday all about romance and I always find myself wishing for more.

The history of Valentine’s Day is actually quite interesting. There are many myths and legends surrounding the Saint this day is named after; Saint Valentine, or Valentinus. One myth is that he married young men who had been forbidden to marry since Emperor Claudius II had outlawed it, thinking that young single men made better soldiers then married ones. That particular Saint Valentine was put to death.

Another legend is that he married Christians and helped them escape Roman persecution.

However there are some pagan origins to also look at. Many believe that the Church placed St. Valentine’s Day in February to cover up the fact that a popular pagan holiday was usually celebrated at the same time. There was an ancient festival called Lupercalia, a fertility holiday to celebrate the Roman god Faunus, god of agriculture.



Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Here are some examples of how it differs from what we do in America:


Denmark- they swap what is called “lover’s cards” and candy snow drops



In Italy- couples traditionally announce their engagement on Valentine’s Day and sometimes have what is called a Spring Festival


Scotland- is celebrated by having a festival. At the festival there is an equal amount of young unmarried men and young unmarried ladies who get together, each of them writes on a piece of paper their name or a made up name, this is then rolled up. The names are placed in two hats and each person draws a piece of paper out of the hat. This having been done the company has been split up into so many couples, gifts are given to the young ladies and the young ladies would wear the name of their valentine over their heart or on their sleeve. Not everyone still does this.


My research found that basically it’s the same everywhere, however. People send flowers; give cards, poems, chocolates and gifts to express their love for each other. It’s a nice holiday when you really think about it, but I also see the stress it causes in those who do not have a special someone to share it with.


Love is all around, and it is infinite, you can always make more. This past weekend I was able to see a great example of love.


After dating for almost two years, I was invited to my boyfriend’s family home. A small little town that I loved from the moment we drove in. I come from a small town, surrounded by small towns so I was at once comfortable. I entered a home that felt like my own mother’s; warm and inviting. A mixture of the old and new covered in pictures of children in various stages of growth and heart felt well wishes.


I was happily surprised to have his family welcome me with open arms. They are very Mormon and I am not, so I was pretty nervous about how well I would be accepted. I brought cookies, bought myself a new outfit and had Boo tell me about a million stories just to make me feel better before hand. I didn’t need to; his mom and dad were very welcoming as were his brothers, sister, sisters in law and brother in law. I met his grandma, Aunts, cousins and about as much extended family as lived around them that was available.


It made me miss my own mother, watching his sister and mom interact and tease each other.


His family was loud and there was laughter, cooking and happiness for the whole weekend and I felt lucky to be a part of it. I was automatically lumped into their family as Boo’s mother said things like, “Renee is part of the clan now.” I don’t think I was bored once there were so many children and people constantly around. At the end his mom even told me I had to come again and this time bring my own children.


I love my mom and dad and my family is just like my boyfriend’s, except smaller. We are just as loud and funny and my mom’s house always smells good and allows me to breathe easier. However after having found out over facebook my sister is getting married, I was feeling a little depressed that my siblings and I are not close. So it did hurt a little to see how much my boy’s siblings love each other and enjoy each other’s company.


For me, being invited to my boyfriend’s nephew’s blessing was a huge step and had powerful meaning for me. It’s not my religion but I liked all the good feelings that their church was casting over this tiny new life and new member of their family. I can’t say I wasn’t bored after the blessing was over, cause I was, but it was a nice bored. Plus I got to sit next to Boo, hold his hand and people watch, two things I enjoy doing.


I was sad when we had to leave since most of his family wasn’t leaving until the next day, but alas I had to work. I can only hope one day when my children are grown up and they come home to visit that I can shower them with the same loving environment my own mother has given me, all my life and what I saw this last weekend.


Bright Blessings


Links

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day



http://www.stvalentines.net/traditions.htm



Friday, February 8, 2013

Witches.... Not Just for Burning

I am a witch… There I said it, and pretty much it is common knowledge. I am pagan. I am not monotheist, which means I believe in more than one God. I am not Christian. Does this make me a bad person? HELL NO



I believe that everyone has the right to believe in whatever they want as long as it’s not, you know, killing children, humping dogs…that sort of nasty shit. Who am I to say whose religion is correct or not? Maybe there isn’t a correct religion. I am of the personal belief that all religions are correct.


The heavens are infinite, just like love, so who is to say they can’t all exist? There are so many different kids of people, race, religion, sexuality, gender, so why not? I respect you and I pray and hope for respect back.


I have a lot of strong view points and as long as what you believe in doesn’t stomp on mine I pretty much don’t care. I do draw the line at being told my religion is wrong or evil. Especially by people who don’t know what they are talking about. I also draw the line at being told I am going to hell or that witches worship Satan.



I know you might not want to here this but:

1) Pagans do not believe in Satan, Satan is a Christian deity. We have our own thank you

2) Pagans do not believe in the Christian version of hell, sorry


My religion is earth and magic based with lots of different Pantheons and beliefs mixed in. I worship a mixing bag of Gods, mostly Greek, some Sumerian a few Egyptian. I don’t sacrifice goats, virgins or children.


Now this blog is not about my beliefs so that’s all I am going into right now on this subject aside from: I am happy I live in a country where I have this sort of religious freedom because I have found a trend in the past few years that sickens me.


Everyone knows about the Salem Witch Trials and other historic events where women were accused of witchcraft and killed. These women are almost NEVER real witches and just are coming under scrutiny because a) they are midwives or simple healers b) they have something someone else covets c) lack of education of the accusers and d) women being hated.


I had thought the last time a woman had been hurt because people called her a witch was decades ago.



I was wrong, so fucking wrong I want to cry.


In December of 2012 two brothers accused a 75 year old woman living in Ghana of witchcraft. They proceeded to lynch her and are now facing criminal charges.


In February 2012 a 40 year old mother of two was burned alive in Nepal after being accused of witchcraft.


In March of 2012 a woman in Nigeria was buried alive after being accused of witchcraft.


In November of 2012 a woman in Nigeria was burned alive because an oracle told a man she had killed his father.


In May of 2011 a woman accused of witchcraft in India was blinded with scissors.


Between January and November of 2011 16 women were murdered after being accused of witchcraft in Mozambique.


In December of 2011 a women in Saudi Arabia was beheaded after finding items proving “sorcery” in her home.


In May 2012 four women had their throats slit for practicing witchcraft in Jharkhand.


In March of 2012 40 men and women were gathered together and tortured based on accusations of being witches and wizards in Tamle. Thankfully not all of them were killed


August 3rd 2012 a man was killed in Lohardaga after being accused of practicing Black Magic


December 2011 a teenage boy was drowned after being accused of witch craft in East London.


And finally just this past week a 20 year old mother was burned alive on top a trash heap in Papua New Guinea after being accused of using magic to kill a little boy.


All I can say is WHAT THE FUCK? Yeah I know these are pretty much all third world countries. However, in this day an age it is ridiculous that these type of witch hunts still occur. This needs to end; killing someone because you think they used a magical force you cannot see to do you some sort of harm is crazy talk. People die; it doesn’t mean someone used magic on them, especially in countries where modern medicine is scarce.


It is a sad turn of events where women (and sometimes men) in these places need to be afraid of pissing off the wrong person because it could very well end with them being slaughtered with the label of “witch”



For a little interesting tidbit of the morbid kind:

In June of 2012 two skeletons were found in Bulgaria that were dated back to medieval times with iron stakes still in their chests. These were bodies of people found to be evil or vampires. Bulgaria has found about 100 skeletons of this type in the past few years. Apparently this type of fear is still alive in villages throughout Eastern Europe. People still dig up bodies to place a stake through their hearts and garlic around the bodies.



Links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/kepari-leniata-young-mother-burned-alive-mob-sorcery-papua-new-guinea_n_2638431.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2155602/Vampire-skeletons-impaled-iron-stakes-say-arent-just-film-fantasy.html#axzz2KKkJCwwb






Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Super Bowl and Birthdays




First off I wanna say GOOD GAME 49NERS!!! Sure the Raven’s beat us, but it was close and I had a great time watching the game!


My daughter’s birthday was the past weekend, and in the first half of the year a lot of people I know, including me, have birthdays. It really got me thinking about birthdays and how different people celebrate birthdays.

Growing up in my family the person whose birthday it was always got to pick where Mom and Dad took us for dinner. We got to have a party if we wanted one, my mom always got us a cake and we always got a couple presents on our birthday. Nothing too unique, I guess, basic stuff. I usually chose to have a slumber party with all my girlfriends and as I got older, my gay friends.

Now I just try to make my daughters birthdays as happy as I can. They usually get dinner of their choice (sometimes all week) a present and a party. I can’t think of anything specific we do EVERY year, aside from birthday acknowledgement.

 I always throw a kick ass party where everyone gets drunk for my own birthday and my best friend’s birthday. Last year I bought my boyfriend gifts and made his favorite meal at home, Pot Roast. So while I always celebrate them and try to make them fun and exciting I can’t think of any specific birthday traditions my family keeps with.

In my boy’s family on your birthday you didn’t have to do chores…That’s a nice tradition… I still had to. LOL

When my best friend was younger they always had pools parties because her grandparents had a pool, but as she got older birthdays were not a big deal.

Several of my friends throw elaborate parties for their kids, which is awesome and expensive.

Many of my friends answered questions of "what birthday traditions do you have" with answers like : dysfunctional. So sometimes birthdays are less joyful and more a time of stress and disapointment.

Countries and religions all over the world have traditions and superstitions about birthdays.

While most people celebrate their birthday, as the day they were born, in some cultures like Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox like Italy, Spain and France it is custom to celebrate your Name Day. Which is the celebration day of the Saint you are named after.

Birthdays came about because in ancient times your birthday was considered the day bad spirits could harm you, unless you were surrounded by your family and friends and their good wishes. Noise makers were used at these parties to scare away the bad spirits and blowing out candles came about because it was a way of sending a signal or message to the Gods. For a long time Christians would not celebrate birthday considering them a pagan belief system. (So like EVERY major holiday.)


In Judaism the boy’s 13th birthday and the girl’s 12th are very important, a celebration called a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is held. It means the child has reached religious maturity. They also give flowers to their own mothers since it is their Birth day also


Islam considers the celebration of birthdays to be a sin traditionally, but not everyone who practices Islamic faith holds to this belief.


Here are just some examples of how other cultures celebrate birthdays:



China- on their second birthday babies are placed in the center of a group of things and everyone waits to see what the child will pick up, what it reaches for helps tell the child’s future.



England- people celebrate birthdays with Fortune Telling Cakes. Objects like coins and things are baked into the cake and if you get a piece with a certain object it will predict your future.



Mexico- it sounds clichés but children in Mexico do celebrate their birthday with piñatas, though in Mexico it is filled with toys, money and candy. When girls turn 15 they have a special type of party to honor her.



India- children are taken to a shrine and are blessed on their birthday and then they have a meal with family that usually includes curry and a dessert called dudh pakh, a rice pudding. To receive a gift wrapped in black and white is considered bad luck.



Saudi Arabia- they do not usually celebrate birthdays due to religious beliefs.



Argentina – it is tradition to pull the ear lobe of the child for each year of their birthday. (I have a friend whose family actually DOES this. I guess it is similar to birthday spankings.)



Denmark- the Denmark flag is flown outside the house to show that someone inside is having a birthday. Also if you are not married by the time you are 30 friends and family give you peppermills (pepper shakers) to mark the occasion.



Egypt- they hang garlands called xeena that look like chains of snow flakes around the house.



Ghana- they eat a treat called oto made from sweet potato and eggs and play a game called Ampe.



Holland- certain birthday years are called “crown” years and on a “crown” year the child gets a extra large gift. “Crown” years are birthdays like 5, 10 and 15.



North Korea- if you are born on the 8th of July or 17 of December you change your birthday because those are the dates two of their leaders died.


Here is some fun Birthday Trivia:



Anne Frank’s diary was given to her as a 13th birthday present

William Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday

More people celebrate their birthday in August than any other month.

A Golden Birthday happens when your age and the date of the day you were born is the same. So mine would have been the year I turned three.

The world’s largest birthday cake was created in 1989 and weighed 128,238 pounds.

All in all birthdays are an interesting holiday to celebrate and while the concepts of most celebrations are the same, the way people choose to do so can differ, largely.

So from my home to yours Happy Birthday.


Links:


http://www.birthdaycelebrations.net/favorites.htm



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthdays#Birthdays_in_cultures_and_religions