adventures in candle making.

So lately I’ve been getting more in touch with my crafty side. A side I have long been neglecting, even though it’s been crying out to be fed. It all started with me picking up cross stitching again, and buying some very funny and adorable patterns:

And then I decided to take a painting class, something I had wanted to do for a long time, but wouldn’t dare, because my elementary school art teacher told me I was “bad at art”:

And now, I found a new venture to explore: Candle Making.

Yup, I’m that girl now.

Early today, I stopped by my sister’s house. She’s a master crafter herself and just so happened to have some candle scents for me to use in my experiment:

I also said hi to my cat nephew Sven:

After a few quick stops at Goodwill, Joann Fabric’s and Michael’s, I had all the supplies I needed to practice making a few candles of my own.

I decided that I would start this experiment by repurposing some old glassware from Goodwill (only 99 cents per jar!), saving me a few bucks so I could splurge on the soy wax I wanted from Michael’s.

And after some scent experimentation and wax melting, I ended up with some pretty starter candles:

The candle scents from left to right are: Sugar Cookie; Orange Mango Strawberry; Lemongrass Eucalyptus.

This just might be my new favorite hobby ūüôā

-C

Last night’s weird dream: ancient tea.

I have a proclivity for very unusual dreams.  Extremely vivid, surreal scenarios, often with multiple complex storylines.

Last night, I woke up abruptly in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep after experiencing a dream that was rather odd:

***

I walk into a very plain, white, unadorned kitchen and start pulling various ingredients out of the cabinets.  Before long, the counter is full of various herbs, containers and appliances.

Suddenly, a man, dressed in a long white tunic walks in and asks me “What are you making?”

Even though I had no idea who this man was, I was not disturbed by his presence and responded “Oh, I’m making this ancient tea I keep hearing about”.

“I know how to make that, I’ll show you”, he responds.

The strange man starts grabbing certain ingredients and a white electric kettle from the cabinet, and brews the tea.

After a few moments, he takes a sip.

“Can I try it?”, I ask.

“No, it’s not ready yet”, he replies. He adds a few more ingredients and brews it again.

“Now?”, I ask again.

“No”.

This goes on for several rounds. My impatience grows as he tweaks the tea, brewing it again and again.

Eventually, my frustration boils over.

“I want to try the tea now!”, I yell at the strange man.

“Your hard work and love and care will pay off. But you have to be patient. You have to wait”.

He sips the tea. And I wake up.

-C

dropping baggage & welcoming 2018.

For years, I’ve sworn off the entire idea of New Year’s resolutions.¬† They often feel so trite, futile even.¬† Perhaps you’ve witnessed how packed the gym is the first two weeks of the new year, only to eventually return back to normal.¬† Or maybe you’ve noticed a new musical instrument, leaning inconspicuously in the corner of your friend’s apartment, unused, unlearned, slowly collecting dust.¬† Another casualty of unfocused, New Year excitement.

The unfortunate, unspoken truth is, if you had to wait until the stroke of midnight to start your goal, you probably didn’t want it.

I know this personally as I have been that New Year’s resolution fanatic, guilty of walking past that pile of brand new unused workout gear day after day, letting perfectly good bundles of kale rot in the refrigerator and…what did I ever do with that mandolin I just knew I was going to master?

***

If you’ve visited my blog in the past, you’ve read about this introspective journey I’ve been on the past few years.¬† It’s involved a lot of reflecting on past events, some of them exciting, some of them unpleasant.¬† It’s also involved me taking a hard, uncomfortable look at my habits, thought patterns and emotional reactions.¬† Purging resentments, validating past hurts and disappointments, but also gradually letting them go.¬† The whole process has been a little messy, even painful at times.

But ultimately, I feel a better, stronger, more resilient self emerging in the process.

***

This past month, instead of picking goals to start on January 1, I decided that I should start focusing on what I really want out of life.  The experiences, careers, friendships and general energy I want to surround me.  I became devoted to cleansing negativity from my life, but also being grateful for all of the positive things I already have and looking forward to all the exciting things emerging for me in the future.

In essence, I had to drop a lot of old baggage before I even got close to the New Year.

So, dear friends, instead of your New Year’s resolutions, what did you leave behind in 2017?¬† And what are you looking forward to in 2018?

Now to go look for that damn mandolin…

-C

Night terrors.

Night terrors.

For a lot of people, this phrase means absolutely nothing. For me, it’s been a plague to my well-being and health for several years.

For the first time in a long time, I had the unfortunate experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a feeling of intense dread – sweating, crying, fearing that I was in peril and thinking that I was in danger of dying.

This routine is so familiar to me.  Checking every door and window, ensuring that my domicile is secure.  Making sure that I am safe.

My last horrible dream prompted me to go to the gun range to learn how to defend myself.  I considered buying a rifle.  These nightmares are no joke, I promise you.

I sat up last night, listening for the attacker that wasn’t there, trying, in vain, to coddle myself, reminding myself that he doesn’t know where I live. ¬†Telling myself that he can’t find me.

Thank the Universe.

Safety is an often forgotten luxury.  In these moments of intense anxiety, trying desperately to remember that I now have a family of loved ones who will work to protect me, I have to tell myself that these nightmares are fleeting.  Strength comes from overcoming this darkness and fighting the fear that sometimes plagues my mind.

One day, I hope these nightmares will go away. ¬†I didn’t ask to be on the receiving end of an abusive relationship, but I know that every time I share my story, I weaken his hold over my life. ¬†I strengthen a woman who is experiencing something similar. I know that my words have power and meaning, and that I can bring positive change, even in my darkest moments.

This morning, I am thankful for this night terror.  I am thankful for this opportunity to share my darkest secret with you all.  If I can rise from the most horrible and haunting experience of my life, I know you can too.

Your eternal friend,
-c

survivor’s guilt.

Sophomore year of college, I had the pleasure of living with one of the sweetest, brightest people I have ever met.   Christine was a force to be reckoned with.  A phenomenal singer with a bubbling personality and a lust for life.

Christine and I were basically the Odd Couple. I would encourage her to go to class, eat vegetables and study for exams. ¬†She would encourage me to party more, stay out later and enjoy life. ¬†Neither of us took the other’s advice.

Christine ended up dropping out of school, later that year, due to medical issues.  Around that time, we ended up having a falling out Рa situation too lengthy to recant here.

And then a few years ago, Christine died of a heroin overdose. ¬†I didn’t know she was using heroin. ¬†I didn’t know she was struggling. ¬†I hadn’t seen her in a long time, so I wasn’t sure what she had been up to. ¬†But for whatever reason, I felt nothing but guilt when I found out. ¬†Somehow, I was responsible. ¬†This voice in the back of my head would say “If you were a better friend, she wouldn’t be dead”.

Life milestones would come and go. ¬†A promotion here. ¬†An apartment there. ¬†A new beau. ¬†A trip to a new city. ¬†And the guilt would set in. ¬†I’m getting to enjoy things she never got to. ¬†“You could have saved her. ¬†You failed”.

It took years for me to finally realize that her death wasn’t my fault.

Thankfully, that survivor’s guilt that has been weighing on my neck like a millstone, has started to fall away. ¬†Instead of guilt, I have decided to live a life of¬†love.¬† Spreading joy, positivity, baked goods and happiness whenever and wherever I can. ¬†While I hope and pray that my friends know they can come to me anytime, day or night, 24/7 if they need help, I know now that is also their right not to.

The one thing Christine taught me while she was alive was to live in the moment and not dwell on the past.  While this is certainly a struggle for me, I view every day as an opportunity to live a good life, in her memory.

For you, Christine,
-C

darkness.

As you may have read in yesterday’s guest post, the theme I picked for this weekend is renewal, rebirth and resurrection.

Although I’m not a Christian, I spent a considerable portion of my adult life studying Christian theology, the Bible, comparative religions and Eastern philosophies. ¬†I’m a theology nerd, amongst other things.

It hit me when I woke up this morning that in the Christian liturgical calendar, today is Holy Saturday Рthe day that Jesus lay in the tomb after the crucifixion.  For Christians across the globe, this is essentially a day of anticipation of the joy of Resurrection Day (Easter).

I find it fitting, in a way, that in this story, there is a period of darkness that comes right before the miracle.  Darkness, not only for Jesus in the tomb, but a period of emotional darkness for all of those who followed him.

It can be so easy, when we look back through the chapters of our lives, to forget the sadness, grief, angst or suffering that came before our biggest moments of joy, growth or healing.

Today, I invite you to reflect on a period of darkness in your life.  Instead of mourning that time, I ask that you think about how that time gave way to something greater and, just for a brief moment, express a little gratitude for that time of sorrow.

The light is coming,
-C

guest post: A Long and Winding Road

Recently, I asked a few of my fellow writer friends to contribute guest posts for this holiday weekend with the theme of renewal, rebirth and resurrection. As you read the entries this Easter weekend, I invite you to think of a time in your life when you had to start over or make a significant change.  Was it a long time coming?  Or was it unexpected and sudden?  Was this many years ago?  Or is it happening right now?

Today’s post comes from a good friend and colleague¬†who has asked to remain anonymous. ¬†Please enjoy their entry “A Long and Winding Road”.

-C

A Long and Winding Road

road

 

One of the beautiful and scary things about life is how many possibilities we have each day. It is beautiful, because each moment we literally have an infinite amount of decisions we can make. The terrifying part? We literally have an infinite number of roads we can take.

I was recently reminded of this due to my living situation needing to change in the next couple of months. It has awakened the inner reminder of how important it is to examine my life, and reexamine, similar to a hiker and their relationship with a compass. Am I living a life I feel called to, or just one I am able to. What brings me joy? Do I spend time doing the things that bring me joy? Who am I helping day-to-day? How did I pack into the stream of life? These are just some of the questions I use for those inner surveys.

The life I want to live, is not always the life I am currently living. My path has definitely been a long and winding one. The last year has been full of sadness and grief, and as I have started to come out of this place, it has given me a new perspective. With the gift of time, I am grateful for how the last calendar year has played out.

As a past contributor to CYLFriday.com I feel called to carry on a tradition this Good Friday. We always had a call to action, and this week, who are you becoming? Take some time today, and take an inventory of your life, good, bad, and indifferent. What area of your life do you want to change? Share some of your thoughts and ideas in the comment section.

 

death, regret & lessons from the end.

Just as I started writing today’s blog post my phone started buzzing. ¬†They finally found him, but it was too late. ¬†He had passed away. ¬†This young man, who I did not have the pleasure of knowing very well, was kind of like a distant sibling. ¬†What we shared in common was our love and appreciation for our “second Mom” Tracie, a phenomenal woman who¬†has a wide web of young people she has nurtured and mentored over the years. ¬†We were both proud members of that extended family.

The last time I saw him was several months ago in Philly.  He showed me pictures of his daughter, telling me how much he loved her.  We told stories and shared some laughs.  He introduced me to his beautiful and equally sweet girlfriend.  We all talked about the past, overcoming obstacles and planning for the future.

Originally, this post was going to be a reflection on my time volunteering in hospice. But I¬†think the one, big, life transforming lesson I’ve learned, both from hospice work and from mourning the passing of friends and family members, is the same:

We all have the tendency to spend way too much of our precious time and energy on the wrong shit.

A lot of people ask me what kinds of things the dying talk about as they near the end. God? Heaven? Hell?  In my experience, rarely.

My patients mostly talk about how much they adore their children and grandchildren. ¬†Their pets. ¬†How they love knitting, but can’t do it so much anymore because of arthritis. ¬†The time they accidentally drank moonshine. ¬†Family. Friends. Fun.

But also, lots of regret: the grudges held entirely too long, the friendships that could have been mended, the marriages that could have been saved, the fear that held them back from finding joy.

“I wish I had spent more time with my family.”

“I regret not making up with that friend.”

“I should have told my father I forgave him. ¬†Now it’s too late.”

As an atheist, I don’t know if anything waits for us on the other side of death’s door, but I do know that we have this moment, right now. ¬†Our time on this earth is finite. Sometimes we see the end approaching and sometimes we don’t. ¬†But either way, I hope we can all spend a little more time creating great memories, spending quality time with our family and friends, forgiving trespasses and loving each other fully, without fear.

Love.
-C

hello writing, my old friend

Welcome to my newest experiment: a place for me to share my musings on life, death, human nature, purpose and the biggest mysteries of the universe.¬† Of course, such an endeavor wouldn’t be complete without pretty pictures of things I like to bake and decorate (and give away at the office, lest I eat them).¬† And of course, let’s not kid ourselves, there’s going to be pictures of puppies.

Lots and lots of puppies.

Originally, this site sprang out of my desire to practice my HTML and CSS.¬† Thankfully, when I was picking my sister’s brain about a fun way to do so, she reminded me that I miss writing regularly. Here I am.

So stay awhile, watch this site change and develop as I shake the cobwebs off of both my writing and coding and (hopefully) be mildly entertained by my amateur cupcakes and even more amateur philosophy.

With love,
-C