What Do You Do?

Today, I was in my little office. Some admin was done, a bit of cleaning, and then meeting a student to chat about Stuff.

One of the questions that was asked – and which is often asked of me – is what a Druid Priest actually does. And every time, I have to pause and think.

There wasn’t a moment when I suddenly looked around and realized ‘Wow, I’m a Priest!’ Rather, it was a process of doing the work and being called by that title, until I had to face up to the fact that I was Doing It.

I’ve written about it before in other places, and no doubt will do so again. But today, it got me thinking in a new way.

Yes, Priest-ing is looking after, guiding or otherwise holding space for folk. When working, I do that.

But as time has passed, and my health has created interesting new speed-bumps to life, I’m having to Priest to myself as well.

I’m very easily tired. I give my all, and it wears me out. I’m not going to stop doing that, by the way, so don’t ask! I willingly do what’s needed, saving some energy to get myself safely home, and then setting aside time to rest. But it’s the question of how best to recharge that’s been in my mind lately.

Doing things that I enjoy helps, certainly. Sometimes, distractions that make me laugh, such as comedy movies or television. Knitting, with its repetitive but focused creativity. Books – absolutely. If the right one can be found, total engagement as I let myself sink into that particular world for a while.

But I think more is needed now, otherwise I’m finding myself wiped out for longer each time. So perhaps ritualised ‘wind-down’ is needed more than ever – something I’ve tried before, but found difficult to get into the habit of.

I’ll no doubt explore this and natter about it as I move forward. But for today, the inspiration from another led me back to myself. Unusual, but needed, I think.

Holding the space to stop doing, and simply ponder…

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Surviving

This morning, I awoke in the throes of a panic attack. And it was HUGE. A whirlpool of chaos, sucking me down with constant thoughts of distress, failure, pain, hurt… And ultimately, the solid fact that You Cannot Do It.

Somehow, I managed to grab on to a lifeline in my mind (and a pillow in reality). Somehow I stepped out of that barrage of awfulness, managing to see it from the outside: a black hole of destruction, from which nothing good can emerge. But that wasn’t me.

I remembered who I was. I remembered how to breathe. I got up, found coffee. Showered, prepared for work.

I am now home, from a fast-paced, full day. Hectic and demanding, at top speed… But I did it. I Could, and Did. 

Someone spoke to me today of battling his own demons. Sharing made the tension fall away from his shoulders; as the session went on, his smile grew, until silly jokes were being shared instead. ‘I feel so much better for coming here.’

Battling for what is owed, for those I care for. ‘Go kick arse, Cat!’ Because they know I will.

Such words are worth more than gold. If the panic had won, I would not have heard them, because they may not have even been spoken. 

I survived today, and the demons did not win. Not just me, but those I touched with words, smiles… and a little Force Lightning.

😉

Transforming the Troll

Sometimes I truly am baffled by the negativity being shared by some people. On social media mostly, but in the news and the everyday ‘real’ world too.

From random comments which exist only to belittle, to bile-filled rants, to unbalanced rabble-rousing arguments… honestly, I often cannot fathom what the end goal is of those passing on such venom.

In Internet terms, it’s referred to as ‘trolling’, and I understand that people have now been successfully prosecuted for this (which is one way to deal with it). I’ve also heard ‘do not feed the trolls’ – do not respond, it just gives the bullies more fuel.

Because it’s not really a debate these people want, is it? It is fuel, to feed their vitriol, their anger and flaming hate which has nowhere else to go but out into the world. Reaction means they’ve succeeded, because they can see that their words had an effect.

Like any other public internet user, I’ve had my share of these nasties. Sometimes it hurts. But today, I was left pondering.

A negative comment, posted on a thread for no discernible reason other than to be negative. Nothing productive, just nastiness. From someone who’d previously been friendly, to boot.

So… what should I do? Laugh, perhaps, at the waste of that person’s time. I wasn’t really bothered, and can certainly move on with no ill effect. It’ll vanish in the morass of data soon enough.

But how about this: I take that negativity and transform it. I write about it here, using that tiny flame to become useful inspiration. To share my pondering about what twisted muse made that person post such a a thing publicly… and how to best react to it without ‘feeding’.

I’m seeing a lot of positive transformation going on today. From marches to bring about awareness of NHS privatisation, to a kind lady who helped me in the shops while raising funds for a women’s charity. To friends refusing the ‘ice-bucket challenge’ in favour of actively working for or donating to charity without all the unnecessary publicity (as I do). No guilt or dissension – active doing.

We could rant and rave, becoming trolls ourselves, warping our passion and genuine feeling into knee-jerk ravings. Or we could consider our words and then speak, listen, act. Inspiration, not guilt.

Which argument do you think will be listened to? Which words will be heard – the angry one-sided bile or the thoughtful, fair discussion? Your actions speak for you, after all. What messages are we putting out into the world?

So, to paraphrase my troll, perhaps I am up my own arse, only seeking publicity by my self-important witterings. You don’t need to tell me that by the way; I worry about how these posts sound all the time!

Or perhaps I’m simply doing my best, in my small way. Taking responsibility and attempting to help rather than knock down.

Which is, to me, the best response I can make.

Spirit Food

I’ve been working out this morning, running and moving weights, stretching and such. My body is now tired but feeling fitter and stronger. Time well spent.

However, I’m feeling tired in myself as well. I’ve been working a lot this week (and it’s not over yet!) – so how do we recharge our spirits after a hard workout?

My body feels better once it is fuelled and rested. No reason that mind and spirit cannot be maintained in a similar manner, as they are all interconnected. But it’s easy to neglect these areas, because while we feel the lack of energy when they’re run down, it’s harder to quantify what we can’t see.

We ‘work out’ our entire selves in different ways, after all, through stimulation, testing and exercises of various types. What’s the spiritual equivalent of a nice massage?

For me, it’s situational – whatever I feel that I need to do at a given moment. Sometimes that’s relaxing with a good novel; at other times, an interesting non-fiction book. Or knitting, from an easy garter-stitch mindless creation to an involved lacey work of art that demands focus. A nice meal with good company, or a quiet evening alone. We get to know ourselves and what we need best.

Sometimes others have to provide a ‘prescription’. Rest has to be enforced or help obtained; we have to call Stop, for the sake of our own wellbeing. As I’ve said before, it’s recognising our flows and riding them, ups and downs – not in a judgmental, positive/negative sense, but simply what life Is.

I’ve a long and busy day tomorrow. Today, jobs will get done – but with some healthy spirit recharging included as well.

Giving

Sometimes, people can be hard work. I love to spend time with others, but due to the nature and variety of People, there’ll be those who have alternate/opposing views, those whose understanding is very different to your own, and those with different ideas about what’s acceptable.

Broad terms, obviously. Sometimes, people can be frustrating, belligerent and stupid. Or just too ‘in your face’.

I’ve noticed this more since my books came out. People know me, but I don’t know them. They approach me to chat, which is wonderful, and I love it, as that’s where new friends are made. But sometimes, it can be rather overwhelming.

More often lately, I’ve felt the need to retreat, either to my own space or with those who know me well and provide company without demands. But too much of that can be unhelpful as well – the world seems even stranger when only viewed through the lense of the Internet.

Today, I worked hard. Lots of writing, making things, and generally Sorting Stuff Out. As I went, I realized – it was all for others. Everything I was doing for intentionally for a specific person. Which felt rather wonderful. I do my best, hoping that they’ll like it. It raises the bar.

And then the postlady arrived with a mysterious package. From one of my students – a beautiful image of a guardian that she’s spoken of often, drawn so evocatively that I was awed and deeply touched.

I think many creative people devalue their own work because they’re so close to it – there’s nothing special about something when you’ve spent hours swearing to make it just so (although the opposite is clearly true, artistic perspective can be warped and crazy).

But I came to a total full stop today, just gazing at this picture and feeling that connection with the lady who created it… words of thanks just aren’t enough. The work is unique and beautiful, because of the meaning behind it as well as the subject, the effort that’s gone into it, the intention and heart.

This is why I work. Not for the Stuff, or the thanks (although those are lovely!). For the relationship, the appreciation of what I’m doing and return of similar – the sharing of creative magic. My little community gives as well as takes. Overwhelming maybe – but generally with goodness, on a true and heartfelt level. That can be hard to grasp in this cynical world.

When those moments of connection come, I do try to hold on to them. I’m so glad that I have such good friends, that we work together to inspire each other. Know that you are honoured, truly.

I look forward to seeing what the Awen brings next, from within and without.

Returning

Here I am again  thank you for your patience, lovely reader! As I’ve said before, I knew this would happen. Summer is my busiest time, and there will be lulls in bloggery, due simply to Life. But this is about as a real as it gets – I’d rather be honest with my posting than force things under duress. This blog is to be written As It Comes to me. No pre-recorded work here!

And there has been much busyness. Handfastings, general work, heaps of travel… and recovery. This can sometimes be the hardest part, as I’d rather be getting on with something that sitting about. But rest is needed.

For the past week or so, my mind has simply not wanted to get on with ‘work’. I have the (kind of) luxury of being able to indulge that, being self-employed, but on the other hand, if I don’t get on, work doesn’t get done – simple as that. I have to prioritize.

But it’s not just always about the body needing rest. The mind and spirit need recharging as well, of course, and that’s very hard to quantify in time-slots or achievements.

So I’ve been letting things come as they wished, indeed. Knitting commissions and gifts, writing short articles, being there for those who’ve called. Still working, but gently.

The ups and downs have come and gone, as they will. From happiness to anger, enthusiasm to lethargy – I try to tap into each as it arrives, transforming it where I can, flowing with it if I can’t. Sometimes I’ve been overwhelmed. Surfacing again after such engulfment is the reward. I survived again.

This morning, I’m up and out the door with the dogs, enjoying the crisp air before the day properly begins. The birds are up, a few other dog-walkers and their friendly charges, but the peace of ‘early’ is so valuable to me. Time just spent being, without obligation or urgency.

And it’s possible anywhere – necessary, in fact. I used to take the time on the walk to work: from sitting quietly on the commuter train, to walking up the Thames (literally with the flow)… even being stuck in traffic more recently. Not exactly Zen, but in the moment, allowing the dreams and thoughts to come and go. That’s where ideas come from.

So here I am now, back at my laptop, tapping my thoughts. Inspiration for the day once again – and more writing ahead. We do what we have to, but these are our lives we’re living. The alternative is to stop, and so very much would be lost if we do.

We keep moving. Onward, as always.

Learning

Some days, I just want peace and quiet. On others, it turns out that this is not actually true at all – my brain just didn’t realize.

I’ve been working hard lately to catch up with work (after the usual busy weekend). Currently, my focus is on my students – both the year just gone and the year ahead. My Druidry course runs from/to June annually, so as this one finishes, the next begins.

Sometimes it’s hard to do homework, right? Well, it can be equally hard for the teacher to sit and focus on the marking. Especially with something as subjective and personal as Druidry.

But as soon as I begin, I find myself caught in the words of those who talk to me in their replies to my lessons. I’m told stories of childhood, hopes and fears, rants and personal doubts. While my students have a loose-knit ‘virtual’ group, the core work is very much one-to-one.

Druidry changes you, as you engage with it. I’m sure this is true of most spiritual (and vocational) paths, but I see it as it happens. It’s a privilege I’ve spoken of before, but it is also Priesting in its most basic form – teaching, guiding and supporting as needed, without being overbearing, pushy or judgmental.

Those who’ve stayed the course have been a joy to know, and I do hope that I’ll continue to be in touch with them in the future. For those just beginning, I’m intrigued all over again to see where the journey takes us. Some will find it’s not for them – that’s fine. Others will find it harder than they thought. I’ll still be here.

Some lessons take hours to read and write responses to; others much less. All tie together as a continuous story, a year of someone’s life. The teacher learns, together with the students. And while it is work (ie remuneration and effort are certainly involved!), every time I read those tales, I’m glad and grateful all over again.

Connection and relationship. Honour and joy. Inspiring.