Historically, I f*&#ing hate November. Daylight savings ends, the trees are bare, the weather gets frigid and rainy. Ugh!
Not to mention it is the month that my father, my papa, and two of my uncles died in past years. Plus it is the birthday month for my nana and my best friend’s mother, both of whom died. Plus there’s Veterans Day and the Marine Corp birthday, both of which remind me of my father, who, as I mentioned, died in November, in 2007.
Also right around now it so ridiculously, painfully busy at work. It might be better this year because of some developments in the way things are conducted, but it will still be busy, just maybe not as overwhelmingly so.
That’s why for November, it seems every day there’s some morose reminder of the death and decay, both with the browning leaves and the holidays and death days. Not to mention the fact that the Thanksgiving story is based on a myth that masks the genocide and systemic racism against American Indigenous peoples. Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for the Wampanoag.
Given all that, I have come to dread November. To just loathe the whole month. Because of this personal historic loathing of November, I’ve decided to reframe the month. And so this year, and hopefully each year going forward, I’m going to spend each day of November concentrating on things I am grateful for. I will post to Instagram and Facebook each day, and do my best to get those post onto Tumblr and this blog as well.
If you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the month of November as well, feel free to join me in my effort to #FillNovemberWithGratitude
Maxx was in my very first group of students my first year as a full-time classroom teacher, when I taught high school at Lisbon High over 20 years ago. He was a great person. The news that he is one of the victims who died in the horrific mass shooting in Lewiston is so shocking and so devastating.
Spirituality and Spiritual Practice in Times of Grief
As things would have it, another former student of mine from the LHS class of ’06, is also a witch and posted this Hekate graphic on her social media. It was exactly what I needed to see in this time of deep shock and grief.
I evoke various goddesses each day at the end of my daily “Morning Pages.” — Morning Pages are a practice from the book, “The Artist’s Way.” You take 3 pages to just cogitate and expatiate AKA a “brain dump.” After I do that, though, I then take some more pages to write down the following:
3 things I’m grateful for
3 things I’m looking forward to
what deities I wish to evoke to help guide my day
When I speak of evoking deities, I am not thinking of celestial beings in the clouds looking down upon us. Instead, I consider them as archetypes within our consciousness and subconscious, whose essence or spirit we wish to call to mind in order to have the most mindful, connected day we can live.
Every day, my list starts off with Brigid, who I am–in essence–named after, and Hekate, the goddess of witches. I call on Hekate to help me infuse my day with my spiritual practice. I consider her the goddess of self-assuredness, self-identity, self-esteem, and sense of self. I also consider her the goddess of smashing the MFing patriarchy. Her misalignment in traditional mythologies makes her the representation of this ultimate goal of my existence.
I find the more connected I am to my spirutal practice and spiritual identity as a witch, the more connected I am to the world at large and the specific day unfolding. When I don’t take the time to do these daily practices, I feel instead like a hamster on a wheel, spinning in place and merely plodding along rather than purposefullying living my life.
It’s been difficult for me to journal these past days since the shooting though. Putting everything down in words on this blog and in my journals forces me out of the shock mode I’ve been in since Wednesday night at 9pm, when I got the first news by text of what was unfolding in my former home. I have not been as regimented as I normally am. I’m still doing some writing, some meditating, some rituals of calming and reflection. But it’s hard to go into one’s mind in traumatic times like this.
I will keep at it though, because I know it is what nourishes me. I received many hugs from my fellow UU church members, after I shared my sorrow during Joys and Sorrows. Hugs are good.
I Don’t Really Want to Go Here Right Now but I Have to Say It: I Have and Always Will Hate Guns
Our mental health services and infrastructure need a huge amount of support, funding, and promotion. People of all kinds needs to be more assuredly enabled to address and process their vulnerabilities and emotions. Having a gun, statistically speaking, makes you less safe and more likely to suffer from gun violence, either through accidents, suicide, or homicide. We are the only nation in the world with the epidemic of mass shootings, because we are the only nation with the ludicrously lax gun laws. I hate guns. I was raised to hate them, and I agree wholeheartedly with my father, a Vietnam Marine Corp veteran, who instilled in us a loathing of guns. The NRA and gun manufacturers’ stronghold on our gun laws at the state and federal level is an abomination. I attribute this all to the kyriarchy, aka the patriarchy, which fills people’s minds with the notion that we are more free and more safe with unfettered access to guns. We are not. I’m writing this on my blog, but not really on social media because I do not want to debate people in that online platform about this issue. The only thing I plan to do is work even more diligently at the local level to get better gun safety laws in place in my home state of Rhode Island.
Life in Lewiston, 2001-2004
I want to wrap up this long post with a personal story about how meaningful this city of Maine is for me.
I moved to Lewiston all by myself as a young grown up, aged 23, in September 2001–another month fraught with tragedy. The only person I knew was my college BFF, Jenny. I left in 2004 having met hundreds of people. I made dear connections with students and colleagues in education, from Freeport and Lisbon.
Like many others I have vibrant memories from early adulthood going to the recreational places like Schemengees and Spare Time, sites of the shooting. Lewiston offers these type of places to the whole surrounding area, as the second biggest city in Maine. Mostly I used the Blue Goose as my Cheers but each one of these taverns and recreation spots of Lewiston have a special place in the social lives of the people in the area.
And most importantly, I found extra family and lots of lifelong friends from my 3 years in Lewiston.
One night from my apartment on Russell Street, I had a conversation with my Gramma out in San Francisco. She let me know that my father “was born in Florida but he was conceived in Lewiston, Maine.” I was delighted by this TMI. It must have explained why I always felt at home–my dad was “from” there.