Pagan Blog Project: H is for Herbs

When I was a baby witch, just learning my craft, I got really into herbs.

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Like REALLY into. 🙂

I had the classic Herb Book, which is likely still in my library somewhere!

I bought herbs at magick shops and food co-ops.

I had mason jars and containers full of herbs.

Cooking herbs.

Healing herbs.

Essential oils.

Tinctures.

I made my own incense.

I made massage oils and candles.

I made tea (technically tisanes) and potions.

Wet and dry potpourri.

Cordials.

I’m not much of a cook, but give me a shelf full of herbs and a pot of water, and I’ll mix something that smells good, at least.

At various times, I’ve had herb gardens.

Herbs are at the heart of magick for me. laurel-272961_640

In pretty much every culture, there has always been a healer, a witch, a wise one that knew the ways of plants and how to use them to ease suffering or to conjure dreams and visions.

And this is another thing that somewhere along the way I lost touch with.

I had an herb garden when C was a baby. When we lived in Washington, there was a huge herb farm nearby (which seems to have “retired” now).

But as we moved around, I had to leave behind living plants, or give up space on my shelves for things that had a higher priority.

I used up or got rid of my stash.

Eventually, all I had were the basic cooking herbs.

As our financial situation worsened, and my daughter grew, and my faith waned. . . I gave up my herbs. I gave up my magick.

Last summer when I was going to one of the local farmer’s markets, there were big bunches of purple basil and mint.

I brought them home and used some of the basil for a tomato sauce and mint to flavor my water, but I didn’t want to waste the huge bunch, so for the first time in a long, long time, I hung up my herbs to dry.

Weeks later, I was looking for my regular, old, bought-for-cooking dried basil and couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered, among my cluttered shelves, I had hanging this beautiful basil.

My mortar and pestle, if I still have them, are in storage, so I pulled the leaves off the stems into a bowl and rubbed the dried leaves between my hands to make them smaller.

As I was doing it, I wondered, “How did I ever get away from doing this?”

My hands smelled like fresh basil, and the taste of the herb was strong in my sauce.

Basil is for flying, faithful love, and drawing money to you.

I felt so good to be doing that simple thing. Refreshed.

One of my Core Desired Feelings is “Restored”.

I felt restored.

As my daughter is pretty much grown up now, and I’m rediscovering who I am without the “C’s mom” added to my name, I know that I need to bring the herbs back into my life.

I regret leaving them behind and not bringing my daughter up with the full appreciation of the art of herbal magick.

I don’t know if I can realistically fill up my shelves again the way I did in my early 20s, but I want to start again.

I wonder if the apartment complex will notice if I cut a few rosemary branches?

 

Some changes (or "In which I reveal my finances")

1. Tarot offerings – I originally wasn’t sure how I’d feel about doing readings remotely. I thought that I’d prefer to do live readings with Skype or Google + Hangouts, but found that I actually enjoy having the time to reflect, let the cards sit a bit, and then type up the readings. So, I changed it to offer all the readings by default as PDF files via email and mention that I can be available for the live readings as well.

I also added a longer 7-card reading at a low introductory price ($20), but all intro prices expire on April 30!

2. I added an Amazon Affiliate store. I’ve always linked to products on Amazon through my affiliate id., but it hasn’t converted into any sales. From now on, if I talk about something, particularly books, I’ll add that item to my store.

3. I want to expand the reach of my blog. Pretty much all my regular readers are personal friends. That’s great, and I love that you guys read, especially when you comment or talk to me on FB. Some of you have even bought readings already, and I’m so excited to do them for you. But my friends aren’t necessarily the target audience for things I want to do in the future. So, I want to reach more people.

I’m floundering a bit on what to focus the blog on. I’m doing more personal growth and spiritual work lately, and to me that seems to dovetail nicely with the mental health stuff I also talk about. But it seems that people don’t search for those terms together. I thought about toning down the mental heath stuff, but it’s so central to who I am and what I go through, that I don’t feel I can. So, I will still talk about my struggles with bipolar and in particular depression, but I’ll be adding more of the self-help/personal growth/spirituality stuff, too. I’ll try to make the post titles obvious as to which is which because some people like one more than the other.

4. Begging, money, stupid crap like that – Here’s the deal. . . Unemployment compensation ran out for me in January. Between tutoring, a tax refund, a few hours a week of research for a small company, and some help from Vocational Rehab (and now selling some readings), I’ve been . . . getting by. I’ve had to borrow gas money from the kid a couple times, which is embarrassing, and had her phone get turned off (for a day or two) a couple of times.

On May 1st, I get $733 for my VA disability payment, plus $532.24 from Voc Rehab. This is the only guaranteed income I have at the moment (and last week was the last week for getting work from the small company).

Starting May 1, rent is $700 plus I have to pay $133.33 for May, June and July for the pet deposit I sort of never paid. Management finally realized I have the cat (thanks to all the trouble with the A/C), and I’ve got to pay. The manager is allowing me three months to come up with it, but even that is a bit rough at the moment. Plus, I have to include the water bill (can’t find the bill at the moment, but it’s been running $55-68/mo) with my rent on the 1st. I still have a storage unit. I’ve been trying to whittle down what’s in there so we can get a smaller unit, but it’s slow going. The rent on that has gone up every year, and is now $164 – which is ridiculous. And yes, there is stuff in there that I do NOT want to get rid of. I *will* be in a 2-bedroom place again at some point and have the room for the stuff. So that’s:

$1265.24 coming in on the first and roughly (depending on the water bill) $1057.33 going right back out. Then there’s the $73 for the electric bill and the $100 on the internet bill (I’m a little behind on both), leaving me about only $35 for gas and groceries for the whole month. Now, final exams are coming up, so I’ll likely have some tutoring appointments to help out with that, but not nearly enough. And I have to pay for a CPR class (~$30) and $70 for my teaching credential.

June is interesting.

First, tutoring dries up in the summer. I usually have a couple of summer clients who are either repeating a class or trying to keep their skills up for the next one, but last summer, I ended up with only one for only part of the summer.

If I do pay for the CPR class and credential, then Voc Rehab will call me “employment ready” and I’ll be eligible for 2 months more of the subsistence allowance at the full rate of $725.78. So, that will help. But I have to be able to pay for the class and processing fee for the credential to get that.

So, yes, I guess I’m begging a bit. If I can’t land a job in the next couple of weeks (and I’m long-term unemployed, which makes it tough), I’m kinda screwed.

I’d so much rather earn the money through affiliate sales, tutoring and doing readings than have any more given to me. People have helped me out so much over the last several years, especially during times when I could not earn (applying for disability and doctors telling me not to work) but I’m still used to being independent. I’d rather earn than beg.

A couple of people have bought Leonie Dawson’s Incredible Year Workbook – THANK YOU! It now takes 2 months to get paid for that, but it seems to be pretty standard across affiliate programs and every little bit helps (for a reminder, I get 50% of anything bought on her site through my links). Since this is the only one of her products (and it’s the cheapest) that I’ve actually used, it’s the only thing I feel comfortable hawking, but if you like her stuff and want to buy anything else, it would help me out if you went through my link. I’m not sure how long the tracking cookie lasts, but at least 24 hours.

Also, I do have Google Adsense on this site (you may have noticed). To date, I’ve made a total of $22.22 from it. While that’s a very interesting number (not only for the repetition and palindrome, but in numerology 22 is a “master” number) but they don’t send a check until it hits $100. More eyes means more earning, so please, if you know anyone who might enjoy any of my themes or particular posts, I would appreciate you sharing it with them.

All this to say. .  . I’m adding a “Donate” button to the sidebar. This week a couple of fantastic people wanted to help me out, but didn’t want to get a reading, since they don’t believe in that kind of thing. I totally understand that. I know a lot of the people who read the blog are not remotely interested in some of the stuff I’m trying to hawk.

So, if that’s you, please hit the Donate button here or on the sidebar. It is through PayPal, and I do have a merchant account from back when I sold books a lot. $5 at a time adds up.




For some reason, I’m completely certain that come Fall, I’ll have a job. I don’t know why I’m that certain, but I am. I don’t know where it will be, or even if it will be teaching (I think so), but I’m certain. So, it’s a matter of getting through the summer to get to that job.

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Making a Switch?

For years I’ve been reading about how much more customizable WordPress is vs. Blogger. 

When I looked into it awhile back, I felt like WordPress was too complicated for what I was doing and not necessary.

Right now, I’m playing with the idea of moving it. This is private now, while I play and get to know it. 

I hope that within a few weeks (months?) I’ll move my Blogger over and find a new webhost for my webpage LifeUncalculated.com.

Eff "Some Day"!

I’m going through some pretty significant internal changes lately. And over the next year, the website will start to reflect that.

Years ago, in the depths of my depression, my friend N and I would discuss that SOME DAY parts of my life might make a good story as a foundation for “motivational speaking” [you know, like Tony Robbins] before they started calling it “life coaching”.

I mean, when you look at a broad-strokes description of the last 15 years or so, you get a disabled-vet-single-mother with bipolar disorder, crippled with depression, homeless at one point, fighting through and getting a degree and (soon!) a teaching credential, starting a new career and getting on her feet, and raising a talented kid that is graduating in the top 10% of her class.

Wow.

I need to take a moment to own that. Breathe into it.

Because when you put it like that, it sounds pretty freaking awesome. And that doesn’t feel like me.

Ok, so it took more than 10 years for all that to happen.

But it still happened.

And I always thought that maybe SOME DAY I could talk to people about that, and tell them to keep going when it’s hard, because even though it seems like it takes forever, it does get better. Or maybe write about it instead. Or use a book as a platform to start speaking. Something like that.

I thought that SOME DAY I could do that.

SOME DAY, when I’m successful enough.

SOME DAY, when I’m wise enough.

SOME DAY, when I’m strong enough.

SOME DAY, when I have a zillion credentials after my name.

SOME DAY, when I have the respect of my spiritual teachers.

SOME DAY. . . .

Out there, in the future.  . . SOME DAY.

And right now, there’s so much crashing in my head, screaming at me,

“Fuck SOME DAY. Do it NOW.”

Part of it is that I’ve been reading and listening to things like Leela Somaya at the Succulent, Savvy, & Soul-Full Business Revolution, and I joined the Wild Sisterhood, and of course, Leonie Dawson’s stuff.

But there’s more too it, too.

After all, I’ve been on Leonie’s email list since 2010. I’ve read Naomi Dunford a longer than that.

I’ve wanted to do something for a long time, but I didn’t know what.

Through the SSSBR, I’ve been (virtually) introduced to a ton of women that are doing this kind of thing. Helping people. Guiding people. And making a great living doing it.

And most of them started off simply.

There’s fear here, a lot of fear.

What if no one wants to listen to me? What if I can’t come up with the million dollar idea right away? What if I look/sound stupid? Other people are already doing this. I’m not unique. I can’t.

But in the interviews I’ve listened to or watched, every.last.one, they’ve felt these same fears. They still feel these same fears, even when they’re successful.

And none of them knew exactly what their key, signature message was going to be when they started.

Jeneth Blackert started by writing a small book about Seven Dragons. This tiny book talks about all those fears and gives them names, similar to Havi Brooks “Monsters”. I read it.

There’s nothing in that book I didn’t know already. I mean, maybe a slight new take on a technique or the names she gave the dragons, but the core info? I know already.

That’s coming up over and over for me. I’m looking at the ebooks and worksheets people are selling, and thinking, “I could totally do that!”

I remember all the times N and I went to the bookstore. She’ll go over to the Pagan/Magick/Witch shelf and pick up a few books, and say, “None of these are THE book I’m looking for.”

I started telling her, “You’re not going to find it until you write it.”

The closing lines of the Charge of the Goddess ring in my head:

know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not, unless you know the mystery: if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, then you shall never find it without.

That’s where I’m at.

I can’t keep looking to others to tell me what to do. I can’t keep asking “experts” what I should do.

I have to look within.

I’m jumping into something new, and building my wings on the way down.

I’m going to start asking you to share with your friends if I say something you think they can relate to or to sign up for the newsletter.

I promise that I’m still going to write the way I write, about what I’m going through, good and bad. Every post won’t turn into a sales pitch for something.

But other things will be changing.

I’ve started already.

I’m writing something. It’s not completely fleshed out yet, but I’m working on something (and mentioning it to get some accountability)

And next month, I start writing 3-4 posts per month for Invincible Summer to start reaching out to more people.

I’m terrified.

But I’m going to start anyway.

New name for the blog?

I’ve been contemplating changing the name of this blog, but I’d like some input from others.

The name was chosen to acknowledge the role my late stepfather tried to fill in my life. He and I had many conflicts while I was growing up, but I know now that he was trying to instill some important life skills in me, skills that I still lack.

That is still true, but I don’t know if the name of the blog really conveys what I’m trying to accomplish.

I’d like this to turn into a self-help place, like Zen Habits or becoming a happier, emotionally healthier person, like the Happiness Project.

The name doesn’t say that. The subtitle sort of does, and I’m trying to create tags that will. But I don’t know even where to start.

I’m thinking something like, “Creating a better me”?

I’d sort of like something cute and funny, but I have a hard time coming up with cute and funny.

So, I’m crowd-sourcing here. Anyone have any ideas? Please comment or reply to ishtar_diana at hotmail.com.

Learning to make money

When I was a kid and a teenager, I did a ton of things to try to make money. I sold stuff door to door (which I hated every second of). I spent weekends sitting in a booth at the flea market either for my mother or my grandfather. I baby sat. I house sat. Pet sat. Cleaned houses. At 15 a friend got me a job at an ice cream shop for ~10 hours a week. At minimum wage, which at the time was $3.35/hr. And at 16, I was working at McD’s. I spent every dime I made, and didn’t learn crap about saving, but I was making my own money whenever and however I could.

Even though we’ve been pretty darn poor at points, my daughter had not seemed to pick up on how to do this. I’ve tried to encourage her to walk dogs or baby sit or help little old ladies. She hasn’t been interested at all.

Over the summer, she was practicing doing really elaborate mehndi/henna designs. I told her how much money she could make if she tried doing them for other people. She didn’t want to hear it.

She started making friendship bracelets. Actually, she learned how ages ago, but recently started doing some really elaborate ones, and taking customized orders. I told her she should sell them. Other people told her she should sell them. She kept saying it was nothing and she just couldn’t sell them to her friends.

Finally, one of her friends, J, talked her into starting a business with it. They decided they’d sell the small plain ones for $3 and the bigger, more complicated ones for $5.

At tae kwon do, Master CW asked her to make a customized bracelet, and said that if she could do it in 2 days, he’d pay her $20.

FINALLY, she got excited about doing this. She finished it in the time period and got her $20. Then she took orders for several more customized bracelets from other kids at TKD.

She intended to stick to her $3 & $5 schedule. Master CW wouldn’t let her devalue herself like that. He talked the boys (yes, boys) that were ordering the bracelets into paying much more than she was comfortable with. I’m not sure how much, but I know it’s at least $8/per, customization more.

She’s got a long list of custom orders and some kids have pre-paid.

She’s getting excited about it.

She’s decided that she’s not going to sell hers at her own school, because J is selling them there. She doesn’t think it would be fair to charge some people $3-5 and charge other people $8+. So, to keep her higher prices, she’s going to sell them to people at TKD. Since most of the TKD kids go to other schools, then she’ll use them to sell some at the other schools.

I’ve also told her that if she builds up an inventory, I’ll reopen my Etsy page for her to sell them there. But I’m kinda thinking she needs her OWN Etsy page.

It’s been fun to watch this transition.