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October 11th, 2009

when the universe has other ideas in mind @ 11:08 pm

So, hi.  Remember how I told you we were moving to NC, and then we went and moved here?  Right, so, we might be moving again.  Things are just not working out the way we planned.  TH (the husband) has had a rough transition into the new job and it has not been at all what we thought.  We really expected to see each other more, and it was a key factor in deciding to move here.  He really wants to see the witchlet* grow up, and that is not really how it is going with the new job. 

Also, moving here has put our priorities into realignment.  Our TV broke in the move, and it has become less and less important to replace it.  We have a big beautiful house, but no one to visit us here.  We have started to eat a lot more fresh food, more whole grains, less meat, use more organic, local, sustainable resources.  We walk and bike everywhere (I'm in much better shape than when I left MD, that is one good thing that has happened in NC!).  The witchlet and the dog and I are outside in the yard/garden/park for hours each day.  We miss our family terribly, especially the witchlet's grandparents and my young cousins.  We miss our friends, and though I am happy for them, my heart breaks a little each time I hear about their exciting plans being put into action for forming a coven.  TH works for a soul-less, racist company that destroys the earth and celebrates it daily.  

We are ready for a change.  We want to embrace the healthy aspects of our new life - less tv and commercialism, more sustainable, ecologically friendly food, shelter, transportation and jobs.  Our new plan is to move back to MD (or even PA) as soon as we can sell our house here and find a job (or two) back home.  We want to buy a few acres, and build a very tiny, totally green home.  Did I mention that we want to build it ourselves?  With an architect's assistance of course, but we've been doing a lot of research, and we think we can make this work.  TH wants to find an IT job, but with a company that does green networking, or rebuilds ecosystems or something more aligned with our values.  I don't want to find a job in social work right now, but I'll do what I can to make this dream work.  In the meantime, I am starting an Etsy business (link to come in a week or so), where I will sell totally green pagan journals (or blank Book of Shadows) made from handmade recycled paper and hand embroidered covers (from recycled materials), along with other items.  We hope that it will bring in some income, and allow me to stay home with the witchlet as much as possible.  In one of the books we've been reading lately, a woman wrote, "I can honestly say that I prefer having my father around the house to having my father's money.  My dad taught me carpentry, and car repair.  It's more precious than money."  That phrase has stuck with me all week, and I know that my most important job right now is to raise a responsible little person.  I just don't want to do it here.  

So, positive energy, prayers, support would be appreciated.  There is a lot that needs to come together at or around the same time and it will take a lot of coordination that is beyond our control.  I'll keep you posted.           

*Really our daughter can choose any faith she wants and we are only vaguely raising her in a Wiccan tradition, but witchlet works as her name on here!

start at the beginning @ 11:01 pm


A pagan list that I am on here in NC is very active and I have posted limited things there.  A self-described "newb" posted recently asking, "How did you get started on your path and how long have you been practicing? What (or who) sparked your interest in it and how did you get started?"  For some reason, I felt called to respond and wrote a long piece.  I'm going to re-post it here. 

I don’t know that I ever shared these answers with this group, even though the question has come around a few times in the short time I’ve been on this list.  And, yes, I’ve been quiet for a while.  There has been a lot going on in our lives, but it has been interesting to lurk on here while the sparks fly.  

Like everyone else, it seems, I started elsewhere.  I was raised in a loving, affirming Catholic community, and was extremely involved in youth ministry and Sunday school and was even a Catholic schoolgirl for a number of years.  Ha!  When I started pulling apart the theology as I studied for my Catechist Certification (late high school), I felt very conflicted.   My main issues were the lack of roles for women in the church and the treatment of gays and lesbians.  I also did not always feel the deep connection to the Divine in Mass the way I did in the great outdoors, or even in the rituals we created in youth group or with friends in the backyard.  I knew I needed something else to get closer to the Divine, but continued with the church. 

In early college, my not-yet boyfriend (now husband) mentioned Paganism in passing, and it sort of rocked my world.  Here was the Divine presented in terms I could get down with, and even though I didn’t know what more was to come, it certainly sounded interesting.  The following spring, I took a course called Search for Meaning (I was a double major – Religious Studies and Social Work) and the professor presented many obscure and/or marginalized religions in an exceptionally respectful manner, including Wicca.  An excerpt of Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon was assigned reading!  I actually missed the lecture on Wicca due to the funeral of a dear friend, but this forced me to stop by the professor’s office to ask more questions, and he gave me his personal copy of Drawing Down the Moon.  As I read the book, I knew I had come home.  (Re-reading it now, I wonder how I got through the dry history parts in the beginning, but the rest of the magick is still there for me.)  As a side note, that professor is still a close friend and confidant, and I actually spoke to one of his Search for Meaning classes a few years back about my path in Wicca.  He is a good man and good for the American alternative spirituality community.

So, once I found a name for what I believed, I still had a lot to figure out.  I spent the next few years doing moon rituals on my own here and there, and reading everything I could get my hands on.  At that time, I read a lot of Scott Cunningham and Starhawk.  I tried Ray Buckland and Silver Ravenwolf, but couldn’t get into them.  Earth Prayers, a collection of earth based prayers or meditations, was also really important to me.  The public face of my religion turned to the Episcopalian Church (long story, but at least we were with one of the gay-friendly churches and a hippy priest) and then a Quaker meeting (another long story, but I tend toward the pacifist side of things, so it fit for a time). 

In the fall of 2002, having graduated from college and married that sort of pagan (now Buddhist), I went online in the middle of some dark October night determined to find someone else to celebrate Samhain with.  I found a group that was practically in my backyard in Pennsylvania (and had been spitting distance from my college) and recruited a brave friend to go with me to the local Unitarian Universalist Church for their open Samhain celebration.  It turned out that the church merely hosted this group, an “Outer Court” group that swelled to around 200 in it’s heyday (it is still going strong with around 50-75 people at most opens).  From there I did a two month Wicca 101, many workshops, formal and informal ritual, and eventually was initiated into a coven that hived from the coven that started all of this.

The group itself had Gardenarian, Alexandrian and Protean lineage, though my coven eventually most identified itself as Protean.  I could not bear to jump into the fray with the recent discussion on this list about the differences between the traditions as I have definitely had painful experiences there.  I must say though that no one had ever told me I could not call myself Wiccan unless I was Gardenarian, just that we weren’t “family”.    

And that is just the beginning of my journey into Wicca.  I’ve lived in two states since then, and waded a strange course through both the Trad in-fighting over degrees/lineage and the lovely souls who respect me just for following a strong ethical path.  I've also faced the difficulties of finding people to connect with when pagans are still quite often a clandestine people.  Not to mention I’m now trying to raise a little witchlet, to whom I want to give all the love, beauty, light, dancing, drumming, yoga, reading, herbs, flowers, mud, rocks, sunshine and rain that the gods can grant us in the short time we have here in the magick of childhood.  Now the authors I tend toward are Dianne Sylvan, Judy Harrow, Ronald Hutton, and every herbal textbook I can lay hands on. 

Oh, and belly dance!  Dance, especially tribal belly dance, has been huge in my spiritual path.  There is nothing that brings me closer to the Goddess than ecstatic dance, and that has been part of my path from the beginning..  Gabrielle Roth, her book, her music, her movement meditation. 

Baby crying, must go.  This is more than long enough . . . probably more than you wanted to know . . .

August 29th, 2009

Finding Home @ 10:51 am

The past few weeks have been packed with unpacking in our new home!  It has been a tremendous undertaking to unpack a whole house with a toddler and a dog underfoot who are constantly trying to explore new territory as far from me as possible or trying to crawl up my legs to get as close to me as possible.  Usually at the same time and in opposite directions.  I have endured some gentle teasing from people who wondered why I would be planting a garden when I can’t find clean socks or towels (or my dog for that matter), but ultimately this new place is starting to feel like home because my hands have touched the earth first and found missing boxes later.    

There are a few more major projects to complete, but in another week or two, we should be able to settle into a routine.  Once we get to that time, I am looking forward to learning this land.  There are so many unfamiliar trees in our yard, and each seems to have a story to tell.  I have a journal that I am keeping about the herbs I’ve planted.  I also have the start of the sun/shadow pattern in the yard, and I will continue to record when things sprout, bloom and fade as the wheel turns.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the many trees and birds and yes, even bugs that live here with us. 

In addition, I have now met with the priestess and priest of a local coven twice, and things seem quite promising.  They are warm and kind and favor spirit over tradition, which is very much what I am looking for in a coven.  They have asked good questions and given me good answers to my questions.  Some of the things I am seeking are a focus on personal transformation, but a community focus as well.  As an earth-based tradition, I want a group that works to come into union with the seasons and cycles on a personal level and works to protect the Earth.  It seems that this group would fulfill that desire!  I will keep you posted as things evolve.  


August 2nd, 2009

The first harvest @ 10:19 pm

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Well, we have been here one month and the journey is well under way.  In that time we have met about three people who we hope will turn into friends.  We found a house to buy.  We have started to develop a new daily routine that includes a lot more walking and swimming and outdoor time (and I’ve lost eight pounds!).  We have begun the process of finding a spiritual home. 

We attended the Unitarian Universalist church here a couple weeks ago, and despite it’s church-i-ness, the message was right on, and it made me hopeful that we could find some like-minded souls there.  And the fact that it is so close to our new house, just makes it all the sweeter.  Once we are settled, I am hopeful that getting up early on a Sunday morning will feel more appealing. 

Lammas was a draw for me this weekend.  Yesterday, I went to the farmers market here and bought about a million herbs for pennies.  Granted, many of them are leggy and a little sad because they have grown too large for their pots, but I think they will be much happier when placed in my new garden and planters this coming week.  I really did not think that I would be able to find these plants this late in the season, but in the window here, I have many of the plants that were in my old garden.  Rosemary, Basil (Thai and African), Yarrow, Thyme, Chives, Patchouli, Oregano, Sage, Rue, Parsley, plus a few new ones, Echinacea, Dusty Miller, Tarragon, and a whole bunch of succulents for the strawberry pot.  (Last fall I killed all of the succulents because I left them on the porch through the first frost.  I was too busy doing something else; what could that be?  Oh yeah, feeding that baby!)  There’s ferns and purple sweet potato vine, and one plant that I can’t identify and I can’t remember why I bought it. That will be something to research in the coming weeks.

I plan to plant them here with the intention of setting down roots and using the power of the growing season to “grow” our lives in so many ways.  With the longer growing season, they will have much longer to take root before frost comes.  So, my personal celebration of Lammas is different from the harvest I usually take at this time, but I am feeling invigorated and energized and excited about the prospect of learning about the nature of this new land. 

On the flip-side, we tried to attend Lammas today with one of the groups I had found online.  According to their website, they normally meet for Sabbats near one pavilion in the park, but today they were meeting “near an antique locomotive” near the entrance in the park.  The gathering was from 1-5, with ritual at 3PM.  We arrived at the locomotive at 1, in the sprinkling rain.  No one was there or even anywhere in the vicinity. 

We played at the nearby playground for a little while, putting the baby in the swing and watching her laugh.  We decided to walk over to the pavilion that was mentioned for past Sabbats and walked through the park and discovered a gorgeous pond and introduced our daughter to the local ducks.  It was quite funny to hear her say “duck” for the first time in an appropriate context.  We found the pavilion and watched as various people stopped there over the next hour or so, but none of them (except maybe the long haired guitar player) appeared to be remotely pagan.  As it neared 3PM, the rain was beginning to clear and more and more people came to the park.  A Frisbee game started near the pavilion and kids rode around and around on their scooters.  Even if we could find the pagan group, I was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the idea of holding ritual in such a public and populated place.  How can I get to that altered state of consciousness if I’m so aware of being a spectacle? 

We walked back to the front of the park and as we got back into our car, we saw that the group was forming right there at the locomotive, in plain sight of the playground, the parking lot, and anyone entering the park.  There were a handful of people under a tent with an altar and other familiar tools, and I knew then that this was not the celebration for me or my family.  We left the park sort of downtrodden.  I asked TH if I was being too sensitive because I am not accustomed to being “out of the broomcloset”, but he said he certainly would not be able to have a deep spiritual experience in the public eye. 

This group also helps host the Pagan Pride Day in the same park, and I feel like that might be more appropriate.  A festival is different from a ritual.  It is ok if other people watch or come in because spiritual work is not being done.  We will probably check out the festival when the time comes, but in the meantime, a much smaller, more private group (the one that wants to meet 3 times before allowing me to a Sabbat) is starting to have greater appeal.  I am hoping to meet the priestess this Friday and I am awaiting her reply. 

As my former coven sister Iris wrote about this week, there are challenges to practicing alone when you have grown accustomed to working in a group.  I’m not ready to jump into a coven, but I definitely want to start the process of getting to know potential coven mates or move on to the next group.  Wish me luck.  Happy Lammas and harvesting to you all!     

July 28th, 2009

Raising a witchlet @ 11:24 pm


One of the challenges of my new life is how to raise my daughter spiritually.  She is my greatest joy, and every day is a balance in teaching her the things I want her to know, and helping her to become her own individual.  Tall order for a little person who is not quite a year old yet. 

We’ll talk about the challenges of raising a child in an “alternative” religion later on, but right now, I am just concerned with how to get through the day.  Some days at this age, and at this stage in our lives (between homes and without community), seem to blend together, and whole days go by and I wonder if I really have done anything of value.  I want to give my daughter every opportunity for viewing beauty in the world, but how do you really do that? 

At the end of each day I ask, did we read any books today?  Yes.  Did we spend any time outside today?  Dog-walking and pool time help with making this a resounding yes.  Did we listen to any music today?  Usually, but sometimes it is crappy (the radio stations here are not so good).  That is something to work on.  Did we dance today?  Not enough.  Did we giggle today?  We could always do more of that.  Did we eat healthy food today or try a new fruit or vegetable?  I am proud to say I can honestly answer yes to those questions most days, as North Carolina has awesome farmers markets.  How many times did I say something encouraging and how many times did I say no?  That is an important balance I’m getting better at since I realized that one of her first words was ‘no’.  How much magick did I share with her today?  We do need to start a  regular meditation practice together, but how can I incorporate more magickal moments into everyday life?  Did I teach her enough about love from my actions and example?  More, more and always more.

Tonight she did not want to sit in her highchair to eat dinner as the lightening flashed and the thunder rumbled.  I told her that she had no need to be afraid, but she did not stop fussing until I picked her up.  I carried her outside to the porch at our end of the building and pointed at the lightening and said, “See, pretty.  It’s pretty.”  She looked at me like I was crazy.  I said, “Listen, the thunder is like when your auntie plays the drum.”  She did tap my shoulder the same way that she taps the drum, so she must have understood something.  Slowly the rain grew quieter and she became less and less anxious.  We went back inside and she returned to her normal self, even as the storm whipped up again.  She learned to change her fears through understanding and that was magick 101 for an infant.  I think that is enough religion for one day.             

July 27th, 2009

I'm baaaaaack . . . @ 12:08 am

Wow.  I said I would be back someday.  I just didn’t think it would be over a year later.  My, how things have changed.  I’m a mama now. Still a witch, but now a solitary witch.  My old coven is no more.  Even if I wanted to go back to them, I can’t.  I quit my job. I live in North Carolina.  Few transformations could be more complete.  Oh yeah, and then I cut my hair off and got my nose pierced.  And we are buying a house, like this week. 

So why did I come back now?  I’m at an exciting, terrifying, totally unexpected point in my journey.  Never in a million years did I think I would be able to quit my full time job to stay home with my daughter.  Never did I think that I would move to another state again, let alone a state so far from ‘home’.  The world is unfamiliar and new again, and opportunities abound. 

I have spent countless hours online (thank the gods for the internet) looking for Wiccan and Pagan groups in the area.  Some have not panned out, too far, too weird, just plain inactive.  But a few have really peaked my interest.  There’s the women’s full moon circle at the Unitarian Universalist church, which is practically in our (soon-to-be) backyard.  There’s the open group that meets in a local park downtown (in public!) for Sabbats and a few workshops throughout the year.  They are intellectual and interesting online; we’ll see how they are in person and whether anyone shows up to protest.  There’s the coven that is based about 30 minutes outside the city, that wants to meet me three times in a public place (coffee shop) before allowing me to join them for a Sabbat.  This is the South after all, and in some regards, I guess some Wiccans are even more clandestine than what I am used to. 

This journal will get back to what it’s original purpose was, to be a record of my spiritual journey after the initial ecstasy wore off.  I’ll try to write down what happens with each of my encounters as I start over.  And too, it will be a record of what happens next.  I’m taking a break from social work, and I don’t know what will happen next.  There’s that Religious Studies degree that I’ve never done anything with.  Maybe once I start writing again on a regular basis, I’ll feel more confident and can start to explore some professional opportunities.  I’m also really interested in taking some classes with Cherry Hill seminary or with Starhawk’s school, both of which can be done online (during naptime?). 

Of course, there are also the day-to-day tasks of witchery that will be different now.  In the coming months, I’ll be setting up our first real home, planting nearly half an acre, and raising a little witchlet with all the music, dancing, reading, nature walks, and yoga that I wish to give her.  Here’s to writing it all down as we go along.   

June 28th, 2008

update @ 01:14 pm

So, my friend wrote me recently making a comment about how this blog was dead, and I guess it has been defunct for a little while.  A lot has happened, but most of it has been great.  I started a new blog on our baby-to-be website.  I won't post the link here as it has lots of pictures and family stuff, and well, I just want to keep the two separate for now.  If I know you, you've probably already received the link, but if you haven't, feel free to email me and I'll send you a link. 

In any case, pregnancy has certainly changed the course of my spiritual path.  I made the very difficult, but important decision to leave my coven, Stone Circle, that is based in Pennsylvania.  The drives twice a month were wearing on me, and a middle of the night run in with a herd of deer, a fox, a rabbit, and a cat almost didn't make an impact on me until I also had a run in with a police officer for speeding (that was all in the same drive home).  I'm just too tired to drive that much anymore.  I also think that the maternal nesting instinct is requiring me to set down spiritual roots closer to home.  Some of my closest friends here in Baltimore are forming a coven in the next year, and it just seems to make sense that I make the transition to working here.  I had always intended to finish my third degree with Stone Circle at some point, but I think that if I tried to do that, it might be a decade away or more, as my life will become inundated with baby responsibilities and just as that will let up, soccer practice and violin lessons will start, and perhaps another baby, and life and more life.  In any case, I think driving will become more complicated for a long while. 

In the meantime, I've had to start a new individual spiritual practice which has been challenging and nurturing all at once.  I'm learning patience with myself, and exploring some areas that I had been putting off for a while - creating art in magickal space, silent meditations, journaling as spiritual practice, taking a different, more laid back approach to spiritual gardening.  It has been good. 

I also missed Midsummer in PA due to not having someone to drive with me.  There were some weird medical warning signs a few weeks back with the pregnancy that could point to a way early delivery.  Even though we're not due until mid-August, and even though the warning signs are lessening, I'm still trying to be cautious (read: trying to be a good mom) and I didn't want to drive alone.  As it turned out, my potential ride-mates were unavailable at the last minute, and I just couldn't go.  It was terribly disappointing, as I don't anticipate getting back up there until Yule at this point, but also a lesson in learning limitations now. 

Our Blessingway ritual is coming up soon, and hopefully circle friends from PA will be joining us here for that, so that there is some sense of celebration together before the world is overtaken (as it should be) by baby. 

Another spiritual development to share before closing, I finally returned to the ocean last weekend for the first time since the great Terribleness.  I think I had imagined that the ocean would forever be raging, and built it into a scary and mighty powerful being in my mind.  I was so surprised that when we arrived that the ocean was gentle and rocking, the nurturing friend it had always been to me.  I cried for a while, and TH had to remind me that "there was never any malice in it" toward our family.  It was too cold to get in, and that seemed a challenge best left to another day anyway, but sitting on the beach all day was a good first step in healing.  I want our baby to know the joy and peace I found in the ocean as a child, but in time, she will also have to know the destructive side as well.  Our little pagan baby in the making. 

I'll be back.  At some point. 

March 9th, 2008

Joy @ 07:01 pm


I can't stop smiling.  Maybe it is because I just got back from my first pre-natal yoga class, and I'm totally energized.  Maybe it is the Peach Mango Salsa I'm practically drinking right now.  Maybe it was the nice long walk in the sunshine today with the dog, and the fact that it is still light out now at 7PM!  Maybe it is looking forward to the walks this week after work, or the pre-natal dance class I have on Tuesday (also totally energizing and full of lovely mamas).  Maybe it is because I have not been thinking about leading Ostara next weekend, and so I haven't had time to be nervous.  Maybe it is because I spent all day yesterday with the young cousins, exchanging their labor for our computer (as arranged by their mom), and we finally, finally, got the office/junk room cleared out for a nursery.  There's not much in there besides a rocking chair and a few neutrally colored (green and yellow) blankets and clothes given to us by friends and family, but now there is space to visualize and dream about what will be.  It was almost a more spiritual exercise than the need for physical space.  Maybe my smiling has to do with the dozens of snow drops blooming in the herb garden or the green tips of many dozens of tulips and hyacinth and crocus and Easter lilies poking up through the dead leaves.  I could almost smell springtime!  Maybe it's my current reading material, the Witch of Portobello, which is an unexpected page turner.  Or perhaps it is the little foot or fist that keeps kicking my bladder and other essential organs, since I am feeling more confident that it is not my digestion that makes these little taps and flutters.  Maybe it's all just pregnancy hormones that have finally decided to agree with me in a very delightful way.  In any case, I'm having a happy, joy-filled day, and I am wishing you all many blessings and joys as well!        

February 22nd, 2008

Changes @ 07:32 pm

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As promised, we have ch-ch-ch-changes to announce.  A few weeks ago, a new creature entered our lives.  A beautiful Husky now shares space with us.  He’s full-grown, but still a puppy through and through.  He’s cuddly, trusting, and totally hilarious.  He’s teachable, he’s sweet.  He also chews up everything in sight, and has broken one leash already with his unbelievable strength.  Even with the challenges of raising a young dog, I am so very happy.  Living with this young boy has shown me how naive I was to take in our last dog.  There is not an aggressive bone in this dog’s body and things I took as normal are not even a thought with my husky.  I had so much hidden anxiety when people came to visit with our last dog, and I was on constant alert to protect people from dog bites.  But with this sweet boy, I have no worries.  He might exfoliate your face with his sandpaper licks, but he listens when you push him off (if, for some reason you would prefer your own loofah!).  What a sweet change to bring into our lives after such sadness!  

It’s also a joy to return to daily walks.  As my belly grows, and the nausea has finally, finally ended, I’m really enjoying pregnancy and learning how my body is changing.  As movement is my favorite meditation, feeling strong and healthy as this baby grows was very important to me.  Being so sick and losing my walking companion during December made me feel even crappier, but I’m finding myself back on the path to normal, albeit a new and exciting normal.  

I may have to give up the idea of teaching dance class right now, though.  I thought it was such a great idea, but lately it feels like I barely have time to do the stuff I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.  I realized how ridiculous it was when I tried to schedule dinner with a friend, and it seemed that we just could not pick a date anytime soon.  And, then I think of all the other friends I have tried to make plans with and fell through on.  I just don’t know if I can commit to one more night of class and another night of planning each week.  Not right now anyway.  Perhaps, though, I could start teaching after the baby is born.  (I know you are laughing right now!)  But maybe a long time after the baby is born?!?  In the meantime, I’ve found a drop-in prenatal dance class that will be taught in the coming weeks by another belly dancer.  

Tonight I was supposed to be at my covenstead in PA for my second degree elevation.  With the yucky weather however, we decided to delay another week.  This has been a long, long, long time in coming, but another great “change” that is part of the great year 2008.  So far, this year is the light that was at the end of a long and winding tunnel.  The other night I was supposed to gather for a full moon ritual here, and the weather also caused some re-scheduling for that night as well, but I was able to spend the night reading and meditating on this next step under the lunar eclipse.  In this process, I’ve learned to stop for the turn of the seasons.  And this winter has been no exception.  I missed Imbolc with my community in PA again this year due to weather, and this week has been a cozy week, though less social and active than I had planned.

I’m looking forward to a cozy weekend of sewing (I need a new ritual dress that I’ll be able to wear in the coming months that will allow me to dance and allow for my growing girth), finishing one book and starting another I’ve been looking forward to, and cuddling with the pup and the husband, and of course, with baby!    

February 12th, 2008

Vote, vote, vote! @ 06:29 pm


So, I wrote that last post this morning in a rush before running out the door.  I get really passionate about the right to vote, and as I drove to work, I tried think back as to why.  By the time I got to work, I was wiping away tears after remembering the day it became so important to me. 

Sometime in 1993 or 1994, my little brother became close friends with a little boy at school who was biracial (not at all unusual in our neighborhood, but important to the story).  Our parents became friends and we often spent time with them at ball games and our moms talked as they waited for the kids to come out from school.  One afternoon I was waiting with my mom for my brother to come out of school, and we talked with "Leah" as we waited.  Leah proudly announced that day that she had voted.  My mom, distracted by a thousand other things said, "Oh, ok," not realizing what had truly happened.  I immediately said congratulations, and Leah grabbed my hand with tears in her eyes and in her gentle, musical voice she said, "thank you."  I started to cry as well because I knew what this meant to her. 

WIth that same lilting voice, I had heard countless stories over the past year of the beatings and harassment she had received in her home country of South Africa for falling in love with a man of the wrong color.   She was a black South African, and her husband was a white American.  She had told of the times when no one came to her aid as women shoved their shopping carts into her at the neighborhood grocery store, and times when even the police made nasty comments as she walked down the street.   No one defended her right to love who she chose, and she had no vote, no voice to create change. 

And today, with the end of apartheid, she was finally granted the right to vote in her own country.  Though she was residing here with her husband as he finished his second doctorate at the university here, she was able to vote by absentee ballot.   She  was still her sweet and forgiving self, but she held herself differently now, with dignity, with pride. 

I know that it was not that long ago that such grand changes happened here in our country as well, but this is the moment that it all came home to me.  Now, for the first time since I've become legal to vote, I'm feeling like a patriot.  I found a candidate who inspires me because of who he is, and not because I hate him less than the other guy (how I've voted the last few elections, because gosh darn it, I was going to exercise that right to vote).   I was so thrilled to cast my vote tonight, and the ice storm did not deter me or any of the other people who were skating across the parking lot.  In fact, I strategized with another woman on the best way to get up/down the ice covered steps to the lower parking lot because the upper lot at the high school was already filled.

So even if you are not in love with Barack the same way I am, and even if you are in love with someone else this election year, I encourage you to take advantage of your privilege and right to vote.  I'll write more soon about the ch-ch-ch-changes going on here.