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Merry Meet & Thank you for visiting!
This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Friday, January 31, 2014

Update: Being Overwhelmed & Seasonal Depression

January is just about over, we're actually able to start counting down the hours until February starts.  And I have to admit, I am feeling like quite the little failure here!  I have made some great goals, and I made the first steps to achieving them. But with the onset of the Holidays last month, then the flu that my entire family had for more than a week this month and now with the kids' school schedule all messed up due to the freezing temperatures and way to much snow, I've all but stopped progressing.

Each and every year I deal with the same issues.  I start out well, I have good intentions, I make a plan, I even start working on it... Then January comes and I burn out.  I have Fibromyalgia. So the winter is both depressing and painful for me. January and February are the hardest months for me over all.  They are the coldest months of the year where I am, and thanks to ridiculous weather there is little to no structure or schedule - which I desperately need.

I all to easily slip back in to old habits and, more than anything, just want to climb back in bed and stay there til May.  I have a short temper, I'm extremely irritable, and overly stressed... I'm depressed and find myself spacing out and unable to focus.  And it's really hard to kick this.  More than any other time of the year, I need to be able to focus on moving forward now. But that feels like an impossibility.

So all this means it's time to revamp and jump-start my goals.  I've found that breaking down my goals in to smaller, more manageable goals is a must, otherwise I'm dooming myself to fail.

Seasonal depression, and depression in general, is easy to get caught up in.  You don't always realize what's happening til you've slid so far backwards that you feel there is no way out. And unlike nearly any other illness, depression makes you not want to fight back. You just want to curl up under a big fluffy blanket and give up. You stop talking to others, the sound of the phone becomes painful.  Your children become super annoying. And the last thing you want to do is listen to your spouses stories about work. If you allow it, depression will ruin your life.

Thankfully, I know the signs. I've dealt with it year after year for as long as I can remember.  And thankfully, I'm BiPolar, so I've been able to realize the difference between my up and down times. To some degree I can control my "down days" by keeping a good healthy diet. The problem comes in though when I get in a rut, the last thing I care about is healthy food...  I want grease, fat, salt & sugar!  And words like carrot become taboo in my house!

Because of this, I've decided it's a good idea to not only continue to work on creating and living a healthy diet, but to add "create frozen meals" to my goal list.  I need to focus on making foods while I'm feeling good, that can be easily heated for dinners later in the month, when I'm not feeling well.

Unfortunately I didn't do that a month ago when I wasn't feeling like this.  Now I feel like I can't possibly get caught up to where I want to be and I really don't feel like I care if I do.  Truth is, I know I care, which in some ways makes me feel worse because I feel like I'm failing myself.

I guess, since I know I'm falling behind, and I know I'm dealing with depression, I haven't really failed at all.  What's that saying? "Knowing is 9/10 of the battle"?!?  Well, I know, so that part of the battle is over.  Now I need to get down to solving the issues and getting back on track.

I have tripped up, but so long as I get back on my feet, I can not truly fail! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I am a Bitch

A few days back I was reading a blog from one of the "Feminist" pages I follow on Facebook.  The post was talking about how demeaning the term Bitch is, and how it should not be tolerated in ANY form or use.  The author felt that when a man is called a bitch, he's being called a low, weak woman, and she equated the term with numerous racial epitaphs as if they were even comparable.

Now, first, let me say I have never understood why women - or people in general - feel the need to get so upset over name calling.  Quite frankly, I've been called some really horrid things over the years, but seriously, Sticks & Stones people!  I tend to assume that if someone's only argument against what I do or say is to call me names, they must not have an argument worth worrying about in the first place.

But lets talk about the term BITCH for a moment...  When is it used? What does it really mean?  I think most people at this point understand that the term "Bitch" actually means (if we were to look it up) a female Dog.  I guess, if you're not a dog lover, being called a dog could be insulting. But what are dogs and what is the difference between male and female dogs?  Well, dogs are, in my opinion, beautiful creatures, descendants from the wolf.  Nobel, strong, and powerful - none of which I am very insulted by.  They're highly intelligent and work much harder than most humans will - which is why we use them for everything from pulling sleighs, to herding sheep, goats & cattle, to finding lost children, and now, they're even used to detect cancers...  Fact is, dogs are our most beloved pets for a reason, and it's not because they're lazy, weak, dirty or sneaky...  And while male dogs may seem more vicious than females (generally) try and take the puppies of a female dog and you will learn quite quickly how vicious they can be.  Unlike male dogs who will generally bark at anything, females tend to be quieter, more reserved, right up to the moment that they feel you have over stepped, then they will eat your face!

Now think for a moment about when the term Bitch is used to describe a woman...  Usually, it's when she's standing up, speaking her mind, possibly at the expense of someone elses feelings.  The term "Bitching" has evolved to mean complaining, but when someone is referred to as a Bitch, it's not because they're simply complaining, it's usually because she is making herself and her feelings known.  A Bitch is a woman who doesn't allow herself to be walked on, someone who understands that she is the only one who will ensure that her and hers are stood up for and cared for. She's a woman who has strong opinions and isn't afraid to speak up about what she believes is right or wrong.

Just like that female dog who will attack rather than allow you to harm her puppies or her home, a Bitch, is a woman who doesn't lay down and allow herself, her friends, her children, etc, to be walked on.  Yes, a Bitch may be willing to hurt others to get hers, but she's not out to hurt people just to hurt them, she's simply ensuring her own are cared for.

So yes, I am a Bitch. I'm more than proud of that fact!  I say what needs said!  I will stand up for what I believe and to ensure that me and mine are cared for, protected and get what we deserve!  I will not allow you to take advantage of those I love, or quite frankly those I feel I should be working to care for.  What I say may come off as brash or insulting from time to time, but that's not my goal. I am strong and proud, and I don't back down just because someone else may confront me.  I am willing to fight for what is mine, and I have no issue fighting for others!  I am a Bitch, and I am NOT insulted by that term.  I embrace it.  I wear it proudly!  Clearly, the term means a woman with strength, pride, and a willingness to fight for what is right.  Maybe that's something others find insulting, but not me!  I am not a quiet, sweet little woman.  I am not someone who will sit in the background when a voice is needed in front.  I am not someone who keeps her views to herself.  I am a Bitch - and I LOVE it!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Cost of Working...

 Over the years I have done it ALL!  I have done the 9-5 job thing, I have had home based jobs and home based businesses and now, I'm working to start my own business. Because of all that, I belong to quite a few different types of "home based work" groups.  At least once a week I see people asking questions looking for ways to work from home.  Inevitably all the women with home based businesses jump on these posts attempting to recruit new people for their company and their teams.  And then there will be posts from the skeptics that believe you can only earn money if you go out and get a job, and work for someone else 40 hours a week...  I have heard all the excuses and all the myths about working from home. What I want to talk about right now though is one of the many pieces of mis-information out there. The idea that you should never have an investment to make money...

This idea comes from a real and understandable fear of being scammed. There are many many scams out there and trust me, even I have lost money to them. So, I do understand this fear. However, any small amount of research on a company or product will get you an understanding of it's legitimacy. If a company asks you for money to work FOR them, or for them to give you information, chances are, it's a scam. If a company can not provide someone to talk to you one on one, chances are, it's a scam. 

However having a start-up and overhead fee alone and in itself doesn't actually constitute a scam. In fact, ALL jobs have a cost! Every single one of them! If someone tells you that it's free to work, chances are, they have never really thought about what they are actually paying to have their job. 

Here are some great examples of what I am talking about:

Work Outside the Home:
My husband works 40 hours a week outside the home.  His "start-up costs" to get the job he has now were around $350.  Now, he has an average monthly overhead of around $75.  Now, chances are you are wondering why he is working for a company that is costing him so much - It must be a scam...  No, it's no scam. He works for a very legit company, making soil and other agricultural products.   

So, why does he have an overhead and start up? Well, when you start a new job outside the home you have a cost for new clothes, shoes, office supplies, background checks and in some cases a parking pass... For my husband that included buying new steel toe boots ($100), a physical ($75), drug & background clearances ($150), and other new clothes.  Now, what about that overhead? Well, lets add up his cost to work each month. He usually walks to work, so we don't have to worry about gas, but on days when he is needed at the companies second location, he has to drive or take the bus, both of course cost a few dollars, but we won't count that here... He works four 10 hour days each week (sometimes 5 or 6 days) and  he needs to eat lunch while he's there. With an average cost of $5 a day, he's paying about $80 a month for lunch. He also has to pay for his uniforms each month, which is an additional $20.  So his monthly overhead is about $100 in total. 

However, I want to also note that that $100 a month doesn't take in to account things like additional clothes - he works outside with heavy and dangerous machines, so he needs to have good boots, warm gloves, sweat shirts, a good coat, long underwear, etc...  And he also has an "office" job built in to what he does because he's a supervisor, so he has to pay for things like pens, staples, and other office supplies as well.  His bosses also tend to email him his work orders and call him with orders & info all day and night, even on days he doesn't work. So he has to have a good smart phone plan too. Then there's coffee and "hot hands" to help keep him moving even when he's outside in sub-freezing weather at 4am.  If you take all that in to account there is around an extra $60-$75 (some months more) a month tacked on to the $100... 

As you see, even the average 9 to 5 JOB has start up and overhead!

Work At Home Jobs:
We have all heard over and over that work at home jobs are all scams. You can't make money from home. Well, this just isn't true. There are hundreds of very legit companies that are willing to pay for you to work from home. However this doesn't come without cost either. In most cases these companies are willing to pay you on a per-hour basis for phone work or a per job basis for transcription or some kind of typing work. With both of these there are going to be rules and regulations from the company. 

But what cost could there be? While it is true that you should NEVER be charged from these companies for the opportunity to work there are many legitimate costs that do come with working for these companies. Most of them will require that you purchase a specific headset for phone calls or that you have a certain program. These will cost you some money, however it's usually going to be about only $20 or so. The other major cost that tends to come up with these companies is that in cases where you are required to be on the phone (customer service or telemarketing) you are usually required to have a quiet background. This means that although you are home, if you have small children you will need to hire someone to care for them while you work. Sitter costs can be anywhere between a few dollars an hour to the $20 a day range. There is also an occasional cost of drug screens or background checks with these companies as well. 

Plus, you are going to be required to have a home phone line and Internet connection with these. So, cutting the internet to help save money, isn't an option here. This cost is also one that should be added in when figuring out the cost of a home JOB.

Home Based Business:There are thousands of home based business companies out there. These give you the opportunity to own an operate a home based franchise. Although the word franchise is rarely used to describe them, that's exactly what they are. You will always have some kind of out of pocket cost with these, however the difference with a home based business and a home based job is that with a business, all and any costs you have (even assumed ones) are tax deductible, so you can actually save money on your taxes just because you have a business.

But what are the costs and why are they there? Well, each company is going to have different costs. But I can still explain why they are there and what they are for. A start up cost with the company will cover a number of things. Usually it will cover the cost of paying someone to put all the legal paperwork of adding you as a franchise owner. It will also cover the cost of any supplies you will need to start your business. If the company is in sales of a product you will usually need to pay for samples, catalogs, order forms, and websites... All of these things cost money. You will also have some kind of overhead. Now, if the company itself does not have a monthly or yearly overhead cost, that doesn't mean there won't be one. Eventually you are going to need more samples, brochures, paperwork. You will also need things like office supplies, business cards, flyers and advertising. If you have a website, this two costs money. 

Now, as I said all the costs with a home business will actually come off your taxes. While this is also the case with a regular job and home based job, there are many more things with a business that become deductible. A great example is gas. If you have a car and a home business, you have the right to keep track of your miles used to advertise your business. SO, if you go to WalMart to hang flyers and do your kids back to school shopping, you have the right to report those miles to the government as a business expense... Come tax time these miles will add up and you pay WAY less in taxes. This kind of thing just can't happen with a job! 

Business Franchise:
Out of home business franchises such as Papa John's or McDonald's are going to have a HUGE cost to start, to keep and of course to run. In most cases they will also earn you a much higher amount of money, but not in all. The average Subway, for example, brings in an average of only $25K a year. Not really the "big bucks" that most people would expect out of a franchise. And some of them can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to start.

Mom & Pop Business: 
This is a business that you and/or your family start. From Family Bakeries to Small Retail Shops, they all have costs. Of course they will each come with different and specific costs to have and run. Building or Space rental or mortgage, supplies for basic business to the products to line the selves, employees to electricity... There are many many costs to a mom and pop shop. But they do come with the same business related tax deductions as home businesses, so although there is a great cost, you will earn some or most of it back.

As you can see, all jobs and or businesses carry a cost. Be it the regular 9-5 or a work at home opportunity you come across online... They all have a cost! Expect it! If you are one of the thousands of people that are looking to work from home but are afraid of being scammed and keep hearing that a job should be free... It just doesn't work that way! You CAN make money from home but as with any other opportunity it will have a cost. 

Your best bet is to find a company that you think you could like. Talk to a real person and check them out on www.RipOffReport.com You will get straight to the point as to who is and isn't a real company or opportunity. You should also find out if they are partnered with any other companies or organizations that would prove their legitimacy. And if all else fails - log on here and ask around! 

No matter what you choose, good luck! And Gods Bless!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Anti-Rape Wear?

Over the last few years I have seen more and more Anti-Rape devices coming out on the market.  It seems as the issue of rape is being tackled more, everyone wants to find an "easy" solution.  Quite frankly, some of these are clearly doomed to fail, but I like the fact that we are attempting - on a world wide scale - to solve the issue of rape.  Unfortunately there are still those (many of which in power) who prefer to fall back on the old idea that if an individual is raped they deserved it or at least did something to "ask for it" at the time.  But even in countries where rape was once a way of life, the people are fighting back against such ideas and giving women the tools to defend themselves. It's still not a perfect solution, rape still occurs on an hourly basis - actually, more than that. And there are still places in the world where a raped woman can be punished - either domestically or criminally. But it IS getting better, with many countries now even criminalizing spousal rape.

Like I said, numerous Anti-Rape devices have been invented. Some, like the chastity belt are either completely useless, or stop the wearers ability to use the bathroom. Others, such as those pictured here, are meant to be worn internally and damage the rapist upon entry.  The issue with these tends to be that in order for them to work, the woman must be penetrated. Additionally, if they are not cleaned properly after each use, they can cause vaginal infections.  So not only do they NOT actually prevent rape, but they can in fact cause injury to the wearer, AND, they are in fact, and unfortunately, illegal in some places.  So it's time for something that's practical, easy to use and in fact, keeps women safe. And finally, it seems there may be an option out there worth taking notice of!

AR Wear is a new company, still in the "pre-launch" stage with a goal of creating a new Anti-Rape line of Underwear and Running Shorts which are both comfortable and attractive, but which actually deter rapists!  The challenge was not just to create underwear, but to create something that was easy to wear, could be worn beneath nearly any piece of "regular" clothing, and that worked all at the same time. As you'll see in this video, it seems they may have achieved their goal!

While the company is NOT yet open for sales, they are in the process of doing so.  I will make sure to post order/purchase information the moment I have it!  Few subjects touch me as deeply as rape.  So this is something I WILL be watching and WILL make sure to keep everyone posted on!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Can we fix the world?

It seems sometimes like there is so much wrong with this world that it can't possibly all be fixed.  I asked the following question on my One Witch's Wonderland Facebook page once and was so overwhelmed with the diversity of answers, I was unsure how to approach them all.  What was that question?  It was simply:  "If you could fix just ONE issue in the world, what would it be?"  Answers ranged from the obvious - Hunger & Child Abuse - to those I didn't expect - The Medical System & Spine Damage.  And I think it's all to easy to think of a thousand different "issues" with the world. The medical system, the food system, the banking system, the water system, the education system, the transportation system, the energy systems... ALL BROKEN!  ALL of them!

How sad! We have become a world filled with so much excess, yet we're all drowning in debt, not just financial debt, we're poor in just about every face of our lives.  We have MILLIONS of extra calories sold on store shelves, yet, the majority of us are teetering on the edge of malnutrition.  We then bolster our "health" by taking innumerable amounts of "Supplements," Vitamins, Steroids and Medications, most of which not only aren't doing the good we want them too, but they're damaging us by filling our systems with yet MORE harmful chemicals.  They aren't helping us, they're killing us!  Even the the vitamins meant to help keep our children healthy are full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives which are all mixed with TONS of sugar!

One of the most popular Children's Vitamins contains such ingredients as sorbitol (a sweetener), gelatin (binding agent), pregelatinized starch (thickener), stearic acid (saturated fat), carrageenan (stabalizer made from seaweed), hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean & castor), FD&C Red #40 Lake, Yellow #6 Lake and Blue #2 Lake (All Dyes), aspartame (sweetener), xylitol (sugar alcohol), sucrose (table sugar), and of course numerous forms of chemically and naturally derived vitamins and minerals.  SO, in the process of giving our children vitamins to help their growth and immune system we're feeding them some incredibly nasty ingredients, some of which have rather well known health risks - especially for children.

If all that wasn't enough, we poison our air, water & soil simply in the way we grow and farm food, produce products & chemicals (including those used for "healthcare), transport everything from one place to another, and how we power it all.  Add to that the damage our financial system causes by producing a world with the "Bigger, Better, Faster, MORE..." attitude is in charge - starving the little guy and allowing big business & banks to control everything we see, hear and trust.  Even the organizations which are meant to keep us safe - the EPA, CDC, FDA, etc. - are bought and sold by financial interest groups or corporations out to make more money rather than build a solid healthy society.

So the question is, can it be fixed?  And if so, how? People all over the world understand the flaws in the systems we have now, but most feel powerless to change things. The idea is that the little guy can't make big changes. And many people fall prey to the idea that the systems we have can't be changed because to do so would collapse the world as it stands today.

Fortunately, however, the facts clearly show that we CAN make the changes needed. Moreover, we MUST make these changes, otherwise we are dooming our children and grandchildren to live in a world where they are not only unhealthy, but where they are starving! Starving for food, starving for energy, starving for health!  We are dooming them to a society where there are essentially two classes, the very rich, and the very poor. Those who make the rules and those who are forced to follow, or starve. In fact, it's a society the world has seen before, and one that we have fought hard to leave behind. But one that we are now creating again.

So if things can be fixed, how? And how can we go from talking about making change, to actually making change?  Well, first, we need to accept that change is NEVER made quickly.  Yes, we went from being earth bound to having the gift of flight in a single take-off, but it took YEARS to create the first workable flying machine!  In fact, Leonardo DeVinci designed numerous flying and gliding machines circa 1050 A.D.  but the first successful flight did not happen until the Write Brother's took off in 1903. So we didn't really go from earth bound to flight in a single day, the fact is it took 900 years (maybe more) for the idea of machine based flight became a reality and changed our world.  Now, just 100 years later, we see flight, not as a marvel, but as a an every day thing, as normal and natural as drinking water or eating bread.

You're probably thinking at this point, why is this woman yammering on about DeVinci and Airplanes? We're supposed to be talking about changing the world.  Well, I'm not yammering, I'm attempting to make a point.  Change, although it may appear to happen quickly, in fact takes generations to take hold.  And the changes we want - no, NEED - to make aren't going to be any different!  So the first step is to accept that. CHANGE TAKES TIME!

Once we accept that change isn't going to happen over night, we can really get down to working on HOW to make those changes.  Once we understand that those changes are going to take YEARS of work - as individuals and as a society - to truly take hold, we can finally come together and do that work!

Okay, we know it's going to take work and time... But what do we do? HOW do we do it?  Well, first and foremost, we have to fix the food!  If we fix the food, all else will follow.  Sounds to simple? Sounds like a way to easy answer?  Well, in some ways, it is.  Fixing the food systems will NOT completely fix the world. BUT, fixing our food systems will create positive changes - HUGE CHANGES - in our overall health, which then makes positive changes in our medical system, and it will help clean up our air, water & soils, it will create LESS poverty, and encourage societies which live together rather than simply having individuals living near one another.  Of course when societies live together rather than as nearby individuals, crime rates drop.  This isn't fantasy, it's basic statistics.  People raised in, or living in, societies where the community is close, are more likely to seek education and work towards the betterment of all and are less likely to fall prey to lifestyles involving crime and addiction.  Moreover, fixing our food system LOWERS our dependence on fossil fuels by cutting the amount of chemicals used, cutting the fuel costs for delivery systems and cutting the "processing" that happens to the food itself - ALL of which requires fossil fuels in one way or another.

So let's see...  Fix Food = Fix Healthcare = Fix Fossil Fuels = Fix Crime?!?!?  That can't be right.   How can simply changing how we eat really make all those changes?  Believe it or not, it's not difficult to see.

Look here -
If we stop eating food that's soaked in chemicals by leaning towards Organic and Processed foods, we cut out the need for those chemicals, the fuel and waste associated with creating, delivering and using those chemicals and the damage done to the water, air and soils by those chemicals.  Additionally, we create a food system that actually feeds our bodies and our minds the way they need to be fed rather than simply gorging ourselves on empty calories and poisoning ourselves.  This also cuts out the need for all those added supplements, vitamins, steroids and a great deal of the medications that we take now to keep us "healthy." Thus cutting the production and use of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and artificial vitamins & minerals.  And by supporting locally grown and organic foods we are not just supporting big corporations, but whole communities - in most cases, our own.  Stronger communities have less poverty, less crime and are over all, better places to live, encouraging people to work together to maintain healthy lives. Plus, healthy bodies are needed to support healthy minds. So the better a child's (or adult's) health, the higher that child's grades, attention and self esteem, making it more likely that they will excel in their education and careers - and of course making their future brighter.

So you see how our food system touches everything around us.  When food is produced by farms that spray them with toxins, trucked to packing plants that wrap them in plastic and add preservatives and then trucked again to sit on store shelves for weeks until they're bought, the amount amount of waste damages every part of our world.  In fact, if we ONLY looked at the amount of Pesticides used, forgetting other chemicals and fuels used in Agra-Businesses today, I believe most people would be shocked to see the numbers.

Unfortunately I do NOT have the numbers for our most recent years.  But according to the EPA, in the 2006-2007 growing seasons the US (alone) used 1.1 Billion (with a B) pounds of pesticides!  That works out to about 5 pounds per every man, woman and child in the country!  That's 5 pounds of pesticides - which remember are meant to kill - that you, your loved ones and your children are eating, breathing and drinking each year.  Can you imagine?

Okay, I get the fact that there is more to the worlds problems than food.  But Food is at the front of most of them. And food can fix many more. It's the biggest issue we have.  And once fixed, we have the ability to move on to other issues. It may seem to easy. "Food can't fix slavery," you say. "Food can't fix war" you counter...  And in some ways, you are right.  BUT, In a world where good food is the standard, a world where people are healthy - mind and body - and a world where communities are strong and connected, people have the power to come together and solve these other issues. So no, fixing food isn't going to fix everything. But it's a HUGE first step! And it's a must do! It's not something we really have the option to continue to ignore, because the longer things go the way they are now, the sicker we get and the shorter our children's lives will be. And most of all, the more power and strength Big Agra-business, Big Pharma and Big Fuel companies continue to gain, controlling everything we do.

So yes, I'm big on food. And I'm big on health. But aren't we all? Who doesn't want to be healthy and well fed? Who doesn't want their children to be healthy and well fed? And yes, I completely believe the food system is the FIRST focus we need to come together on if we are really going to change the world.  Once our food system is fixed, we will have the tools and ability to come together and fix all our other issues. I have no doubt.

Alright, I'm yammering, but I hope the point I'm trying to make is clear. Our FIRST priority needs to be food. We ALL need to be working hard to not just change the way we shop, but change the way we eat.  Organic, Whole Foods should be our goal. And although it may take longer than we want to get to that point, so long as we are still moving forward, we're doing it right.

So here's the goals we should be working towards - 1. NO processed or artificial foods!   2. NO GMO Foods.  3. Cook Your OWN Foods. 4. Grow & Preserve Your Own Food (as much as possible)  5. Build local Organic Whole Food Networks & Relationships.  6. Teach Children the importance of healthy food.  7. Use only Organic & Whole Foods.  8. Strengthen Local Farming Network and Build Organic Farmers Markets  9. Create laws - local and national - that protect local Farms and individual Gardens rather than destroy them. 10. Create laws that REQUIRE transparency from Agra-Business Companies as well as "supplement" and vitamin companies.

Is it a big job? Yes! Is it going to happen over night? Nope!  But can we achieve it? YES! Can we make it a world wide goal and still succeed? YES!  But first, you have to quit reading and get moving!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another Baby Dead, Another Excuse Made

At least once a week, sometimes more, I get a story like this one in my inbox:

And quite frankly, I'm tired of seeing them.  Not only are parents like this man having to bury their children, which no parent should have to do, but they are then facing court, prison, and sometimes worse public opinion.  Why? Because even though doctors know vaccines can cause bleeding in the brain and other "Shaken Baby" injuries identically to those which can occur from shaking, they prefer to assume the baby has been shaken.  Yes, there are those horrid parents who actually shake their child and kill them. BUT, any time a child dies the entire picture needs to be looked at. 

In this case, this child's symptoms showed up BEFORE the alleged shaking.  And those symptoms are documented, this isn't a case where the accused is coming up with all these things after the fact in an attempt to defend themselves.  Nope, the medical evidence is all there.

So why is this man sitting in prison? For the same reason as so many other parents.  Because the very medical system that relies on over medication and vaccination for it's income, is responsible for testifying in a courtroom about their safety.  Most doctors have no real education about vaccines, all they know is what they were told in school and by the vaccine companies. That's the equivalent of having an infomercial host tell you all the flaws with the product... Not going to happen! 

And unfortunately, the only defense these poor parents have is to say "I didn't do it." And hope they have the cash for a good lawyer.  If they don't, they can face spending the rest of their life behind bars.  

So what needs to be done here?  We have to continue to educate not just ourselves, but those around us.  Anyone could potentially land on the jury of one of these cases, so everyone needs to understand that vaccines can cause the same signs and symptoms of SBS.  

More than that, we need to start holding the medical community responsible for the deaths and injuries they cause.  How many times have I heard "Vaccines don't kill people," all the while deaths like this are chalked up to "abuse" or "Shaken Baby" instead of vaccines.  Fact is, vaccines do kill people, mostly children & elderly, which is bad enough. But what adds insult to injury is the fact that more often than not, the vaccines which took their lives are never blamed, instead blaming phantom injuries, illnesses or worse, creating abuse scenarios. 

At first glance, I suppose it doesn't seem to matter.  I mean, regardless of where the blame lays, death can not be fixed.  And I suppose too, that that's where the doctors stand. They have been taught that vaccines are good, so they don't want to admit to deaths or injuries because it may discourage the population from getting them. Or, I'm sure in some cases, they honestly don't believe the vaccines are able to injure or kill, and so, they look for other places to put the blame. However, I fear it does matter where the blame goes!  Vaccines are meant - at least originally - to help people. But when they are causing more harm than good, hiding the truth is not the best option for anyone. Instead, it harms the individuals and leads to the injuries of more and more people. 

It's not like we haven't seen this before.  Numerous medications have been removed from the market because of the damage they were found to cause after the fact.  Early cases of injury from those medications were often blamed on illness and/or injuries from other things as well. But once the cause of them was discovered people caught on, law suits followed and the medications were removed from shelves.  Unfortunately the vaccine companies are - currently - untouchable, they can not be held legally accountable for the injuries or deaths encountered from the use of their products.  

So why is it different here? Why are vaccines not being blamed when they should be? Why were other medications able to be blamed and removed from the system but the vaccines are not?  It's simple. Once one vaccine is shown to be a failure, and taken off the market the entire "vaccine system" is broken and doomed to fail. A complete failure in the vaccine market would cost the medical system TRILLIONS of dollars each year and all but take down the system we currently have.  

Now, while I understand WHY a complete collapse of our current medical system is a bad thing.  I also understand that continuing to damage and kill innocent people isn't a good option either.  While I would love to see vaccines (and many other medications) simply removed from our system, more than that I want to see our system changed.  I want to see a system based on health and healing, not financial gain. And I understand that it can't happen over night. BUT in my opinion, the FIRST step to having that system is to stop hiding behind lies and place the blame for vaccine & medication injuries and death where they belong. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Going Organic on a Budget?

I'm chatting with someone on my facebook page and she said she doesn't buy organic because it's so expensive, and she just can't afford it.  To some extent, I completely understand what she's saying. Our diets are far from 100% organic. BUT, I'm all about small steps.  We have a budget of just over $100/week for food - for 5 people.  Work it out over a month and we get around $16/day for groceries...  That's really nothing!  So we have to really budget things. And frankly, I am not as good at it as I would like to be.  But making changes is about small steps, and that's what I'm doing.

With any change, the goal comes before the plan.  My long term goal is to have a diet based on Whole Foods - Organic, Local and Fresh!  As for a plan, it's a little more complicated than I wish it was, but if I'm going to make this work, I can't just decide to completely change everything...

So here it is -

Step 1 - Make a Rotating Menu
Create a 6wk Menu. Each day consists of 3 meals and 2 snacks.  In the beginning simply focusing on getting the menu together, not necessarily on making sure it's full of organic whole foods.

Step 2- Creating Healthy Recipes
Once the menu is planned - really while it's being planned - Work on how to make these meals & snacks in healthy ways which are at least 50-75% Fruit & Veg.

For example, my family loves Cheeseburger Mac.  In most homes that would mean, pasta, ground meat and cheese sauce. In my home that means ground venison, whole wheat pasta, onions, bell peppers, mixed veggies (mix of peas, green beans, corn, carrots, and lima beans), cheese and cauliflower puree (which is my cheese sauce base).  It hits ALL the same notes as Boxed Cheeseburger Mac, but it's a much healthier version! NO chemicals, no preservatives!  And once you add a salad as a first course, you get a recipe that's 75% Veggie, which is WAY better than any meat, cheese & pasta dish out there!

Step 3 - Making a Shopping List
Menu planned, recipes written... Now compile a shopping list for the entire 6wk menu.  Why make a list for all 6wks?  Because if you want to go "low cost" you have to watch sales and at least attempt to use coupons when you can. Since most healthy foods don't have coupons when you do get them, they're worth using. BUT, if you don't have a clear idea of what you need both this week and in the near future, you can't really take advantage of the best sales.

My shopping list looks like this:
Item Name
Whole Wheat Macaroni
Brown Rice

Each week shop for THAT WEEK, but if you find the items that you need on sale, you can purchase what you need for this week and future weeks as well. This helps you to stay organized, know what you need and keep costs down.

The only thing that you don't want to buy this way is fresh fruits & veggies. The reason for that is because they aren't going to keep for 6wks. So instead only purchase what you'll will need for the next 3-4 days and make use of the sales by keeping snacks, muffin recipes and "first courses" like soup or salads open rather than stick to any one recipe.  For example, a mid-morning snack is could be sliced fruit or veggies, so whatever is on sale that week is what you'd use. And when you have a dinner planned with a "side salad" use the fruits & veggies on sale to create your salad rather than having the same thing every time. This also helps to keep things "fresh" and not feel like you're eating the same salad every other night.

**Our local grocery store even marks down the "USE TODAY" fruits & veggies, so I tend to stop in and go through them almost every day and use that to determine our snacks and whatnot.  This week I got 8 pounds of cauliflower for $6!  Since I use Cauliflower as a base for my cheese sauce and cream soups and add it to my mashed potatoes, I brought it home, pureed it and froze it, now I'll have it when I need it and it's not on sale. They do something similar with meat - offering any 5 packages of nearly out dates meat for $20. Usually I can get really great cuts of meat for very low prices.  IF your local grocery doesn't do this, find out who to talk to about buying the out of date stuff. Many of them will sell it at a discount so they don't have to lose all their profit, you just have to ask.**

Step 4 - Replace
Once you have your diet filled with all the healthy foods you love, it's time to work on replacing them with higher quality, organic and local ingredients.  It may take some time, but in the end it's very much worth it.  And don't fret if it doesn't happen all at once or if you occasionally go "back" to the conventional stuff. No one is perfect, even if we would like to think that we are.

Finding organic, local products isn't always as easy as we would like either. But often times if take the time to find it, it can turn out to be cheaper than the stuff in the stores!  The down side is you often have to buy in bulk, which not everyone is ready for - but if you have a long term (6-8 wk) menu & list laid out, you can easily see what you need and what you have and you'll be ready for "bulk" items.

Local meat, honey, dairy, eggs, fruits & veggies will often fluctuate with the seasons.  So in the beginning it may be difficult to find a groove.  But the more you deal with, and get to know, local growers and farmers the more you'll learn to work with both your menu, and their seasonal have and have-nots.  You'll also learn, over time, what recipes fit what seasons best and be able to bend your menu accordingly.

There are some things that you'll always end up going to the grocery store for though - unless you want to start (and this is a good idea by the way) making your own pastas, breads, cereals, condiments, and so on...  So when it comes to these products, experiment a little bit. Find companies you can trust!  Find organic products that are sold right in your grocery or see what you can find on sites like Amazon. Often times you can buy the stuff in bulk on Amazon at a cut price.

For example - I am a "spice snob." I have gotten to the point where I only buy from one of three companies when it comes to spices. They are ALL Organic and I nearly always buy in bulk because it's cheaper.  In fact, comparing the prices to the "Brands" I see on the shelves, I usually end up paying LESS!

So shop around, find good solid products at good prices! They DO exist! Here are some of the brands we love:

  • Cascadian Farms - USDA Cert. Organic breakfast bars, cereals, frozen veggies, fruits spreads and more. I have found this brand at WalMart, Giant Eagle and other local grocery stores.   I do NOT recommend buying this one though Amazon, as the prices there are nearly twice what you'll pay in the grocery. WalMart.com however offers the cereals starting at $3/box. 
  • Simply Organic - USDA Cert. Organic Spices, Salts and Baking Products. Again, these are available in many grocery stores. At first glance they seem to be more expensive than conventional brands, BUT you can print manufacturers coupons from their website. Plus you can order straight from their website.  Simply Organic also has an Amazon Storefront which allows you to order their products (often at less than what is listed on their own website!)
  • Bob's Red Mill - USDA Cert Organic Whole Grain cereals, flours, oats, flax & chia seeds,  mixes and more!  I will say, I have found Bob's to be slightly more expensive than the other stuff. But once you taste it, you will NEVER go back! They are available in most grocery stores, allow purchase direct from their website and are an Amazon seller as well.  
  • Annie's Homegrown - While not all of Annie's products are organic, the majority are.  However, even those which are not organic are free of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors AND they are all GMO free!  The best part is that their products lines mirror those of more conventional companies - dinner kits, snack crackers & mixes (perfect for lunches & parties alike), dressings & sauces, and lots of kid friendly stuff like gummies. I've found Annie's in most grocery stores, and they are available at great prices - my kids love their Organic Mac & Cheese and it's actually cheaper than Kraft!  Again, you can order from their website and they are an Amazon seller as well. 
These are just some examples of the products we have found.  I've also discovered that "Discount Grocery" stores have now started to get their own organic food lines. If you have an Aldi near you, I can tell you I've been finding more and more USDA Cert. Organic foods in their isles - including fresh fruits & veggies - at "discounted prices."  My local grocery store has bananas at $.59/lb. Aldi has Organic Bananas at $.49/lb.  So not only is it organic, but it's cheaper than the conventional option! So check discount places near you and see what they have, you may be shocked!

Step 5 - Grow & Preserve

If you don't already have a garden, now it the time to start one.  Growing at least some of the fruits, veggies, herbs, and possibly even grains that your family eats can greatly impact your budget and your health - both in a good way!

Start small and choose produce that you know you will use. For us, the number one item (besides herbs) is Tomatoes! We eat tons of them, literally. Spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, sloppy joe sauce, pizza sauce, salads, sandwiches...  You name it, we have tomatoes in it - just don't tell my kids or husband who claim to "hate tomatoes." Other ones that we usually grow are bell & hot peppers, green beans and grapes.

Excess produce from your garden can be preserved by drying, canning and/or freezing. And leaning to do these things is very much worth it!  Making your own Spaghetti and Pizza Sauces with your own home grown Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and Herbs is without a doubt one of the best feelings in the world! And when you compare the price of a jar of sauce from the store to the home grown price, there is a HUGE difference!

Many people are intimidated by the idea of canning. But there are so many time tested recipes out there now that there is no reason to fear!  Find a good recipe and give it a go. It's very much worth it!

And if you have friends or family - or a local gardening group - around, talk to them about swapping surplus produce or canned products. It's a great way to expand your options!  Some gardening groups even get together for "preserving parties" if they have somewhere to do it. Picture your kitchen full of wonderful ladies all gathered around the cauldron... I mean stove, mixing up their favorite recipes and canning them up. Sharing recipes, knowledge and friendship... Sounds like heaven to me!

This seems like a long project. And truth be told, it is! It's a life long project! Because it's not a diet or a temporary change, it's a new way - or I suppose a very old way - of life. Where food is whole and natural. Where it brings people happiness and health. And yes, it is work. But when you love what you're doing, is it ever really work? More so, it's worth it. It's giving your body the best it's ever had. It's giving your children the best start. And it's creating a way of life that can, and should, be passed down - creating a little bit of a healthier world in the process!

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Best Busy Morning Tool & An Easy, Healthy Recipe Too!

My mornings generally consist of me running around like a headless chicken attempting to get myself and three children up, fed, dressed, packed & prepared and out the door before 8am.  And lets face it, when one kid can't find his book-bag and the other can't find his shoe and you're happy to just get the third on the potty before she pees on your floor, you don't have time to worry about making a healthy breakfast!

At the same time, we all know how important breakfast is.  Even more so, we know how important a healthy breakfast is.  But when your options are either get up even earlier to make a good healthy breakfast or end up eating pop-tarts on the way out the door, you have to find a middle road.  I wanted to have a hot, healthy breakfast that was not going to take me all morning to make or take them long to eat.  So what was my first thought?  Muffins!  But then I remembered, my oven is broke (long story) and they take nearly an hour in my counter top "electric oven." So I had to come up with another option.

Luckily I came across a "Cupcake Maker" by Sunbeam online one day, and it changed my life - or at least my mornings!  Now I plug in the machine, go wake the kids up, come back and drop in cupcake liners and batter and close the lid. In about 15mins, our muffins are finished and breakfast is on! It seriously couldn't be any easier.

There are lots of these "cupcake makers" on the market, but I have to tell you, this one was the best I found. MOST make only "mini" cupcakes or muffins, while this one makes regular sized ones. Which is great because it means I only have to make one batch (6 muffins) each morning.

And as for the batter, I make that up a on Sundays, it keeps in the fridge for up to a week without any issues.  So it's always ready when we are.  We've tried a number of different muffins, but this - so far - is our favorite!  These are super simple to make!  In fact, my 3 year old helps me make them nearly every week - if SHE can do it, you can too! Hell, if you read all this you've already proven that you can do things beyond her abilities - remember, she's 3.

**And remember, use all organic ingredients for the healthiest product!**

Peanut-Butter Banana Morning Muffins
  • 5 Ripe Bananas
  • 1/2c Peanut Butter* (We prefer super chunky)
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1egg
  • 1 1/2c Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2Tbls Chocolate Syrup  (organic & HFCS free)
  • 1/4c Flax Seed (optional)
*Peanut Butter can easily be subbed with whatever Nut Butter your family prefers OR Nut Free Wow-Butter.

  1. Roughly mash bananas. Don't worry about making them smooth.
  2. Into the bananas , mix in Peanut Butter, Egg, Vanilla, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Chocolate Syrup.
  3. Finally mix in Whole Wheat Flour a 1/2 cup at a time.  If adding Flax Seed, stir it in last. 
  4. IF you're baking these the old fashioned way, put them in a 350* oven for 12-15 minutes.  In my Cupcake Maker, they take between 10 and 14 mins depending on how full I fill the liners. 
Dried Fruits and chopped nuts can easily be added to this recipe to make any number of varieties.  We've tried dried cherries, apples, cranberries, raisins and a few others. For the most part, we've liked them all, so play around with whatever you have in the house, you may be shocked what you like.  Just make sure to stir in your additions at the end so they don't get to broken up by your mixer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Should Evidence Overrule Faith?

A few days back I was wasting time on Facebook when I found a comment about Religion stating that "Evidence is greater than Faith." The entirety of this comment's talked about how invalid faith is in today's world because we have science and evidence and no longer need it.  But this comment really struck me, I understand the posters viewpoint, but I find it greatly lacking.

My counter point is this -- Faith is not the issue. Faith is empowering.  It is faith that drives us to get up each morning. It's faith that allows us to love others.  It's what allows us to know that whatever we put out mind to, we can do.   The greatest example I can give my husband and I.  In 2006, my husband was struggling with drug addiction.  He went in to a rehab facility, but I knew the statistics of addiction relapse.  I knew that there is no such thing as "cured" when it comes to addiction.  Once an addict, always an addict.  But I knew my husband too. I knew he was strong.  And I knew if he truly wanted to make the change, he would.  But I had to have not only the faith that he would get clean, but that he really wanted to change and that he would stay clean long term.  Most women would resign themselves to being married to an addict, knowing and believing that he would go right back to the "old life" when he got home, or they would understand that he wouldn't change and they'd get out.  Either way, most women wouldn't stand by their man honestly believing their husband would fail and that addiction would win.  And the statistics say they would be right.  But I knew better. I had a great faith in my husband.  And although I always had the knowledge that things could go back to the way they were before, I never allowed that to shake my faith in him.  Today, he has been clean for just under 7 years. He has never had a relapse, never "fallen off the wagon." Against all odds, my husband has been clean 7 years now, as I always had faith that he would!

Thought to have been long extinct,
 the Coelacanth was discovered alive in 1938.
Evidence on the other hand, is questionable. I'm not saying we shouldn't accept evidence, but clearly we need to have faith that the source of such evidence is credible, and even then, there is a chance that they got it wrong.  There are any number of examples that I could turn to here...  But the one that comes to mind fastest is the Coelacanth.  The Coelacanth is an ancient fish, a relative of the lung fish, which was believed to have gone extinct in the end of the Creataceous.  Museums all over the world displayed fossil remains along with this information.  Scientific evidence all pointed to the extinction of this animal.  BUT, as it turns out, the fish was alive and well off the coast and in rivers of South Africa.  Until it was discovered in 1939 though, scientists, educators, museums, text books and so on, all taught that this creature was long gone.  Their belief was fully based on fossil evidence that they had, coupled with the fact that there was no valid proof to the contrary.

Of course there are a great many examples of times when the evidence was right, so it shouldn't be ignored. That's not where I'm going.  I'm simply saying that evidence should not be accepted blindly.  And with that - we go back to the idea of faith.  The problem with faith is NOT faith itself.  The problem with faith is BLIND FAITH.  Whether that blind faith is in a religion or science, it's dangerous.  Blind faith in religion has lead to persecution, religious wars, and murder.  Blind faith in science has lead to chemically laced foods, medically induced illnesses and disabilities, chemical warfare, cloning, and genetic engineering.

Faith itself, is not the issue. Especially when that faith is based on experience - even when that experience leaves no quantifiable proof.  Not everything out there can be weighed, measured and photographed.  But to discount those things which we have no measurable proof of simply because we do not have that proof is foolish in itself.  For example, science teaches us that there is no soul, no spirit, no after-life.  However, if you've seen a spirit or a ghost for yourself, felt it's touch, and heard it's voice, well, to disbelieve based purely on the fact that you have no physical proof which you can study doesn't make sense.  There are times when "proof" or "evidence" which can be shared with others is not altogether possible, but one should never discount their own experiences.  Those experiences, even though they can not be "proven" to others, are - or should be - your evidence, your reason for faith.

So you see, whether we are discussing spiritual or personal issues, basing your beliefs purely on "Evidence" still takes faith. Without faith, even evidence is useless.  And basing your beliefs on someone else's "evidence" disregarding even your own experiences is more than foolish, it's dangerous!

Above all, keep an open mind and remember to question both your faith and your evidence.  Remember that perfection does not exist and even the most solidly seeming "proof" can be flawed. Evidence, without faith, is useless and Faith, without evidence (even that which is based on personal experience) is often greatly misplaced!

PhotoCredit:  Gerard Lacz/Animals Animals -- Earth Scenes

Monday, January 13, 2014

Does the US have laws about the Separation of Church & State?

This is something that often comes up, especially when we start talking Politics on my One Witches Wonderland Facebook page.  People are always so quick to jump on the "Separation" bandwagon. But here's the thing that most people don't understand. While there ARE laws concerning religious freedom there is NO law requiring the separation of Church and State.

So where does this idea come from?  Well, it refers to a statement made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter written in 1802, in reference to the First Amendment.
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
And while Jefferson believed in a solid separation between church and state, he was not talking about an all or nothing society which is what the statement is usually used to describe now.  Instead he was referring to the laws which were already in place which limit the government's roll in religion by not allowing an "official religion" to be established or by stopping individuals from exercising their faith however they so wish. There is however, no mention of which religious observations, ornamentation or practices may or may not be carried out by government organisations or entities.  What does this mean? It means that if Congress opens with a Christian Prayer each day, they are NOT violating any laws - even if there are non-Christians sitting among them...  It also means government buildings - including schools, hospitals, offices, etc - have the right to display religious depictions or statements (such as the Judeo-Christian 10 Commandments) and do NOT have to include everyone...  There have been additional laws, such as a ban on public school led prayer, which have created minor limits on these things, BUT, each of those laws are in addition to, not included in the First Amendment and are currently the ONLY laws requiring any limitation of religion in governmental buildings or organizations.

Is this a "fair" way to do things?  In my opinion it's not.  If we are going to have a society based on the ideal of religious freedom, we must not appear to have preferences on a governmental level.  Instead I believe we should be adopting a true Separation of Church and State statute.  We are a country with many faiths.  It would be an impossibility to properly honor each faith equally, so we shouldn't be honoring any!

What it comes down to is the old idea of "give an inch and they'll take a mile."  Small things like displaying the 10 commandments really don't hurt anyone.  In all honesty, most people don't even notice or care that they're there, they just walk past.  BUT, here's the issue. Small things like that easily and often become a point of leverage when it's time to talk laws, community statutes or legal movements.  For example, when arguing the issue of the Death Penalty, natural death advocates often refer to the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" commandment and often make mention of it's common placement in court houses and other government buildings.  **Of course those same activists tend to happily ignore Biblical death penalty laws, but that's another issue**

The other issue is purely on a legal level.  When laws based on religious beliefs limit the freedoms of those outside of that religious group, they are in fact unconstitutional. Unfortunately, once they are in place, it can be hard to get rid of them.  In this issue there are plenty of examples, the ones that come to mind first concern marriage, but go well beyond there and exist on both local and federal levels.  Here however, I will focus on marriage because it's the most obvious example.

When I mention marriage, I am not simply referring to same sex issues, but also plural issues.  Both same sex marriage and plural marriages are illegal based on religious beliefs.  However, not everyone's religious beliefs include such exclusions.  As a Pagan, my religion not only supports same sex and plural marriage, but encourages individuals to decide what type of relationship is the best fit for them - no matter how "non-traditional" it may be.  Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints* (Fundamentalist Mormons) encourage polygamist marriages.  And sexuality has been shown NOT to be a chosen issue, but a biological one.

Having laws limiting marriage to one man and one women is in fact "prohibiting the free exercise" of FLDS followers, Pagans and other groups which support and/or encourage non-traditional marriage, making these laws unconstitutional. Which is why these laws are now being fought. But think of what a world we would have had if they never would have been made. It may be hard to picture, but few things are as beautiful as acceptance! So had these laws never been made, had same sex couples been able to marry all along, we wouldn't be fighting these laws now. Instead, generations of people would have grown up with an entirely different outlook on same sex couples - and sexuality in general.  Moreover, plural families - of all types - would not be seen as "strange" or risk the loss of children over having additional partners.

Of course, this is just a single example. But others could easily be explored.  So what it comes down to is if laws are being created with the beliefs or statutes of a single faith in mind they are going to limit the practice of other faiths, breaking that promise of free exercise.  Instead laws should be based on the idea of keeping individuals safe and healthy.

I will say however that I DO recognize that there are possibly religious beliefs which MUST be made illegal in order to keep individuals safe and healthy!  And I fully support laws which the safety of the individual are upheld over the freedom to practice a religious belief. BUT, the only time where such laws should be made, in my opinion, is where the free practice of religion endangers the safety or freedom of children (under 18) or non-practicing individuals or where lives are endangered. If a member of a religion makes a choice to risk their health or freedom because of religion, that should be their choice, however they should not have the right to choose to risk the health or freedom of those outside the faith or of those who do not have the ability to make such choices (mentally disabled, minors, etc.) Of course I tend to have that belief when it comes to ANYTHING, religiously based or not.

*I want to make a point to mention here that when I refer to Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints I am NOT referring to the Warren Jeff's led cult by the same name, but the FLDS religious group.  There IS a difference and not all FLDS believers are members of a dangerous cult it's those individuals to whom I am referring.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Changes - How to & Tips

This is the time of year when everyone wants to focus on making big changes in their lives.  More gym memberships are sold in January than any other month of the year!  And there is a reason for that. As a whole people tend to recognize January, the beginning of a New Calendar Year as a time of new starts, a time to shake off the old and ready for the new. The problem with this thinking though is that it's easy to slip and slide back in to old ways and forget all the changes we vowed to make - until next year...  As a witch it's my view that each day is a new beginning and a time for change. Each Sabbat marks a "new period" through the year and each Esbat a "new phase."  If I wanted to get down to the hour I could even say that as each day proceeds so do the energies around us, making each moment brand new and ready for change...

Does this mean I am somehow immune to back sliding on my vows to change? Not a chance! I am the queen of backsliding! But I'm also the queen of planning.  I am famous for making plans and then getting so overwhelmed by the "how to" phase that I quit.  Thankfully, I made this realization prior to making my latest "resolutions."

Like many Witches I view Samhain (Halloween) as the "New Year" and  I generally only celebrate the Calendar New Year as I would any other change of months - with a flip of the calendar.  So I make my resolutions at Samhain as well. This year, like most people, I made resolutions to get healthy, fix my debt & finances, and get organized...  BUT, the difference between my resolutions and those of many people is that 2 months have passed since I made them, and I have NOT failed at them yet!  Yes, I have backslid. I've had good days and bad days. But I have not given them up. Each new day is a new opportunity to get it right.

What am I doing different this year than every other? And what am I doing different than most people?  Well, I think the biggest difference is that instead of attempting to make BIG changes in my life, I've created a "year plan" - which is similar to the "5 year plan" idea accept that it's only 1 year...  

Instead of simply saying "I'm never eating white sugar again!" and attempting to cut one whole thing out of my life, I have broken my ultimate goal - getting healthy - up in to smaller achievable goals.  Yes, eventually I want to cut out white sugar and flour entirely... BUT, making such a huge change all in one day is just setting myself up to fail. So instead, I chose to make a goal of using whole wheat flour when baking & cooking and trying other sweeteners in place of sugar.  Other goals I've made this year include cutting my meat consumption to ONE meal a day and going vegetarian ONE day a week...  Cutting the amount of Take-Out or Eat Out days to one every 3wks or less...  Working out EVERY DAY...  Drinking more water... NOT spending money on stuff we don't NEED... Getting, and keeping, my house clean and organized...  Paying off debt and keeping the bills paid on time...  Etc.  BUT I can't do any of these things in one swoop! They take time. All change does, or at least all lasting change does.

So since Samhain I've been working on quite a few changes. And to the casual observer it may not seem like I've made much headway. But as the person living it, I can tell you it's been HUGE!  I'm still having "bad days" quite a lot more than I would like to admit! And I'm still struggling. But I am not giving up. Each day is a new chance for me to get it right. Each hour is a new chance for me to do better. Sure, maybe I had a leftover hamburger for breakfast, but that's no reason why I can't have a salad for lunch and an apple for a snack.  Maybe I came home and dropped my bags on the bed and never went back to put everything away, but that doesn't mean I can't do it now. Maybe I even spent money on crap we didn't need at the grocery store, leaving us short for bill money, but that doesn't mean I can't do better next time.

What advice would I give to those wanting to make the same life altering changes I'm attempting (and succeeding) to make?

  1. Don't bog yourself down with huge goals. Make your "big" goals long term goals instead of trying to make big changes all at once. Try breaking BIG goals - like weight loss - down in to small manageable "mini-goals."  
  2. Don't give up! Just because you didn't do so great this morning, or yesterday, or even all last week, today is a new day and it's time to start again.
  3. Keep a journal!  This is a huge one!  Make a journal listing your goals for the year and then for each month (or period depending on the goal) written in the front.  Each day go back, review your goal for that month/period and write down your thoughts.  How did you do? How do you feel about your goal and how you are doing to keep it? Also, what did you do that day? You may even (as I do) add things like Moon phase, Mooncycle (if you're female) and other information that be helpful. This will not only help to keep you accountable to yourself, but will allow you to see patterns. Maybe you do better at keeping up on dietary changes at certain times of the month or at certain points in your cycle, so maybe you should work harder at other times, or make allowances at those times, etc.
    **I even created a small blog. Although I'm not keeping up with it daily it's a great way to help myself share my journey and stay focused & accountable.**
  4. Find a buddy.  Not everyone will have the same goals and not everyone will go about making the changes in the same way. BUT if you have a close friend that is willing to be your "change buddy" and help keep you accountable it can be a big help!  A support system can make or break times of change. 
  5. BUY STICKY NOTES!  It may sound strange, but sticky notes are awesome! Place notes of encouragement everywhere and "reminders" here and there where you need them too! A note with your goal weight stuck on the fridge can go a long way to helping you make better choices when snacking! 
  6. Make a schedule -- In fact, make a few.  Make a long term schedule with your goals and when you want to take the "next step." But also make a daily or weekly schedule as well. Keeping yourself on-track is much easier when you have your day organized. If your goals are health or fitness related, creating a menu can help as well. 
You did not get where you are over night.  So assume that changes are going to take just as long.  And remember, it takes 6-8 weeks to make, or break, a habit. So give yourself AT LEAST that long to achieve small goals and even longer for big changes.  

So, if you're one of the MILLIONS of individuals who made a New Years Resolution 2 weeks ago and already sees themselves sliding backwards - or feel like you've already failed. Maybe it's time to just "revamp" your goals.

**I'll be posting about specific goals and how to help yourself achieve them over the next week or two.  If you don't see what you're looking for, let me know and I'll make sure I add it to the schedule!  And as always, I LOVE Comments! Add your tips and ideas and let me know what you think of mine... 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What's Wrong With Utopia?

Utopia is defined as "a place of ideal perfection." In many religions the idea of Utopia is not one of myth, but simply something which has yet to take place. When I was growing up I was taught that after Armageddon the world would become a Perfect Paradise Earth where all life would live together in peace and harmony. We were taught there would be no death, anger, sadness, illness, conflict or negativity of any kind. It's very understandable why people would be drawn to such beliefs and promises. But is there any real validity to such claims? Is there any reason to see any truth to the idea that such a Utopia could ever even exist? In simple terms... No. 

We live in a world of balance. Dark and Light. Black and White. Good and Evil. You can't have one without the other. If you would, the balance would be thrown off and we would spiral in to dangerously out of control. Good would inherently envelop evil and the two would become indistinct, most likely we would start to see extreme repercussions to any actions or thoughts which were seen as anything less than perfect.

Now, those who believe in such a Utopia would argue that there is no need for dark, as God can give us a world of pure perfection. This is what I was taught for a great part of my life. However, this too does not quite fit. The simple basic understanding that Free Will will always provide people with their own feelings, thoughts and understandings defines that we will always have at least moments of disagreements, even small ones. In a true Utopia, a truly perfect world, conflict could not exist, not even on a minimal level. Yet, free will dictates that each of us will have our own tastes, likes and dislikes, feelings and beliefs any of which will and do lead to disagreements. 

Additionally we have to try and imagine this Utopia... If it is a place of ideal perfection, who gets to define what perfection is? A world of perfection in my mind is greatly different to that of some of my readers, and certainly to that of my mother or millions, possibly trillions of other people throughout the world. 

I imagine a world of equality, yet individuality. A world where persons of differing races, sexualities, gender identifications, beliefs, and so on were able to live together with complete acceptance of one another. A world where fear based solely on the differences was simply non-existent. Of course I would add to that a world with no violence, no illness, no hunger, and no need... A world where people had complete love, trust and respect for all forms of life - human, animal and plant...And a world were our Governments were in fact out for the best of the people as a whole... 

But even in that description which I just jotted down, I know there are those, possibly those reading this, that would say "No, that's not quite right." My point being that what is "perfection" is relative! So how could a world with Trillions of individuals be perfect for all of them? That old adage about never being able to make everyone happy, is completely and totally true!

Regardless of free will and differing opinions though, Utopia isn't something that could work out. We need the Bad, to truly appreciate the Blessings. We need to know illness, to appreciate health. We need the occasional pain, to fully enjoy pleasure. It's just nature. Now, it's easy to think "We don't NEED murder, sickness, rape or any of the other horrid things that go on in the world" but the truth is, we do. We NEED passion, we need purpose, and we need growth. and although a great love does give us these things, we simply can't learn all our life lessons in pleasureful ways. More than that we have to understand that death is important, on a physical and a spiritual level. And even in a life without pain, illness and so on, we still would feel the pain of death, if at least we want to progress, if we want to truly grow and evolve. 

I wish I could say I believed the purpose of life was simply to live happy healthy non-discript lives. But I don't believe that. I know better, and if you've made it this far through my blog, I'm pretty sure you do too.  Pain, as the old saying goes, is a great teacher - in many ways, the ultimate teacher. 

In the end, Utopia sounds like a great idea - happiness, pain free, no worries - but then when you realize that the price, as it so often does, doesn't equal the reward, maybe it's not the greatest idea after all! Sure, I would love to see a perfect world, but the idea of being trapped in someone else's perfect world or worse yet being stuck, unable to grow or move up and on, isn't really my idea of perfect in any way shape or form! I'll take free will and the opportunity to move on, grow and mature over just about any ideal Utopia theory! 

*This blog post was originally published on my One Witch's Wonderland Blog which has since closed.*

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Home made Zit Zapper

I am 30 years old and for the first time I'm struggling with acne. It's worse than when I was a teenager. For the most part I don't let it get to me, but there are times when I just can't stand it. And I figure as I my children get older, at least ONE of them will have to face pimples now and then through school... SO, when this recipe came to me I though, "That's awesome!"  Now, I just have to try it!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Immune Boosting Cold & Flu Tea

Cold winter weather and all that comes with it, tend to lead to lowered immune systems and then, colds & flues. It's this time of year, most than any other that my body needs a boost! So I make sure I always have a batch of Cold & Flu tea made up. It's great to drink when I feel those early symptoms kick in, but it's also wonderful as a daily immunity boost!

To make tea, blend:
  • 1/4c dried echinacea leaves
  • 1/4c dried peppermint leaves
  • 1/4c dried lemon balm leaves
  • 3T dried elderberries
This recipe makes about 24 cups. 

I got this recipe and more from:


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