Welcome to the Cube Farm #21

So Im SERIOUSLY grumbly and have to vent. And yes I know this is a first world problem, and just what the F%$& ever…. OK?! Im worn out and aggravated, so if you don’t want to read my rant,  you have a mouse in your hand, USE IT!

For those of you not scared off by now…. Backstory….
I have been with my employer, a medical insurance payer/PPO for **24 yrs 6 mos and 8 days*** Sigh, yes I know, its freaking PATHETIC that I know that, similarly to how inmates know EXACTLY how long they’ve been in prison. <Hear my sarcasm?> So 24 1/2yrs…..  2.5 yrs into my career, when my 2nd child was born, instead of staying home to raise my tiny humans and working a night job; I was asked to pilot a home user program with 1 other employee. (A program which exists to this day mind, with I have no idea how many permanent, let alone temporary, home users, in how many different states/countries).

Then after 11.5 YEARS and various positions at home, I was pulled back into the office with my then QA partner, because though our entire jobs are computer based, AND, I live only 3 blocks from the office, so could WALK there in 15mins if they needed me (let alone drive over in 2min), for some reason it was imperative we be on site. Okaaaaaay, the youngest HAD started Kindergarten 5 mos earlier, so I guess they figured I was “done being a MOM” because, you know, there aren’t “eat lunch with your kid things”, or field trips, or class projects, or concerts and plays I might’ve wanted to attend for the youngest child, since I did for his brothers, but WHATEV, welcome to Corporate <company that shall remain nameless>, what are YOU thinking trying to put FAMILY first???

But I digress….. OK so I don’t remember what my original cube was like, because honestly for the first three years we were back onsite, I was so pissed about even BEING onsite (after I gave up the opportunity of a mgmt. position at our local hospital because my Director not 3 mos earlier had told me she “didn’t see there ever being a need for us to return to site”), that I swear Ive blocked it from my memory. Im sure it was a decent size cube because if it was bad Id remember. Regardless within 2 years I was moved into THIS happy joy joy place.

No sarcasm it was awesome. It was FREEZING (which is why the décor… it was a joke) but it was bright, and big, and me, my QA partner, and my work wifey were pretty dang happy there in our little corner for a few years.

Then we were moved back into Gen Pop, where I frankly didn’t last… it was MAX a 1.5 yrs before I was about to quit, and instead got moved to my current team instead, where after my 90 days training I was placed into this SWEET nirvana of a cube. Completely isolated by walls except for the entryway, it was total sunshiney BLISS, with my southern soul sister who bears my same name, being my wallmate.

And then in late 2016 for some reason <nameless company> tripped into a decorator’s timewarp and fell back into the 1970s. The “new” décor is not fresh and exciting, its dated and dark, and all the new lighting and white noise machines in the world cannot fix the fresh hell that is the CUBE FARM my team gets to move into on Wed (See header picture). Most of us have been with the company at least ten but probably 15 years by now, and instead of just getting us NEW cubes, equal size to what we had, to “update us”, they reduce the cube size and wall heights, so we have no overhead shelves, and we now have 1 file cabinet instead of 2? Really? REALLY?!? THIS is my new cube with NO EQUIPMENT YET…..


So forgetting the fact that we’re now on top of each other, with nothing to buffer the chatter of people on phones, typing etc anymore; where the HELL are we to put 10+ yrs worth of manuals and documents that you KNOW you are going to end up wanting me to find someday, huh? HUH?!?

So I petitioned to work from home again. Because nope! The anxiety and stress you’ve all seen me going through on this team the past 2.5 years has been enough to push me to breakdown ALREADY. To have to be bombarded by all of that chaos daily too, I just cant. None of us should have to…..  We didn’t need the space, we had empty cubes ALL OVER. We certainly didn’t need to spend the money because hello! that’s my profit sharing you’re cutting into Bub! People in offices shouldn’t get to make the decisions because they have NO IDEA what it feels like anymore to be cramped into cubes, where every window is taken by an OFFICE, so the entire floor has no natural light, and the temperature is controlled by the offices, so because THEY are hot WE are freezing. It is a terrible plan and its going to rattle alot of already really loose cages.

For those of you out there sucking up the cube farm life and doing it, kudos to you! But after having been home all those years, then spending most of the time back onsite in 2 awesome setups – I am soooo not staying in Gen Pop peeps. My time may just be getting short…… I mean Im already called the “<nameless company>> dinosaur” after all. Tick tick tick, methinks my retirement might be calling.

Resolutions 2017: “Little meaning – little relevancy bore”

just-say-no-to-new-year-resolutionsSooooo in the United States, the popular thing to do this time of year is to make “resolutions” right? You know, those promises you make to yourself, or others, to start a new project, break some habit, change your lifestyle, and become a new YOU. But REALLY?!?  As lifeforms who spent a millennia living life according to the cycles of the land, why oh why did we suddenly decide that WINTER, the fallowtide for the Northern hemisphere, when all around us is in various states decline and hibernation – even WITH global warming, is a great time to SEED something we want to eventually bud, blossom, and fruit?

Because it’s the first day of the year, you say? Numero Uno? Says who?  Historically the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians celebrated their “first day” on the Fall Equinox. The Jews mark the “head of the year” at Rosh Hashanah, which falls in late Sept, early October. Old Norse observed Vetrnætr, “Winters Night” in mid-October. And the Celts, following the Gaulish Coligny calendar, celebrate the first day of the lunisolar year as Samhain / Samonios, traditionally from sundown Oct 30th to sundown Nov 1st.  I mean, the end of fall, when the years toil is over and the storehouses are full, does seem to lend to a “good start” to the year, I have to admit. That saiiiiiid…..

Many cultures start the new year closer to what we in the Northern Hemisphere call the Spring Equinox.  The ancient Babylonians began the tradition, and so it makes sense that modern Iranians, Indians, Pakistani still do. The Balinese, and people of MANY smaller Central Asians countries do as well. From the religious perspective, a Spring new year is also observed by many Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Bahai; and in fact, until the reform of 153 BC, even the Romans (fathers of our Julian and Gregorian calendars) celebrated the new year at the Spring Equinox.

Sooooo, if you’re feeling the pressure to make some kind of “New Year’s” promise to yourself about the changes to come, forget it. Use the winter to introspect, meditate, and contemplate how your 2016 went. Formulate a plan on what you could do differently to achieve REALISTIC goals. Then in the SPRING, plant those seeds, when you might actually have the energy, drive, and WEATHER to help them grow strong and true enough to bear fruit!!! Now pass the Baileys and cheesecake, Ive got some movies to watch!

©RavenHarte 2016-2017

Forgiveness Is Overrated

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I have to admit that I have an unpopular take on forgiveness, especially given I am a clergy member, though of course I am a PAGAN clergy member, which may have something to do with it. I personally don’t think you HAVE to forgive other people to be able to get through an “injury” to the other side of it. Some things are not forgivable, they just aren’t, and to me that “society” tells us to “forgive those who trespass against us” because we will never be “truly free” or “truly healed” etc until we do, is bullshit. That to me is like saying a victim is responsible for making restitution to themselves for a crime committed by another. I think not.

As a Pagan, life is both white AND black to me. Bad things happen because they happen, and honestly they are usually the only parts of life which catalyze change, and allows us to mature and grow. From a reptilian brain perspective, we obsess over the events that cause us pain very specifically to ingrain the memory so deeply into the subconscious, into “shadow”, that if the same pattern emerges again in the future, the subconscious can immediately react, and “save” us from that pain happening again. Now that is not to say that Shadow reactions can’t jump up in ways that can be unhealthy, but a person who is aware and conscientious can recognize a reaction as Shadow, then contemplate what the alarm is trying to tell them, so they can then be more cautious and observant, to determine if a situation is repeating or not, and make decisions differently or not. So I think conditioning people to believe that we have to forgive something that our brains purposely evolved an early warning system to shield us from ever experiencing again, isn’t healthy. And making us feel guilty for NOT forgiving, for NOT letting go of our protection, isn’t always healthy for us either.

So do you have to forgive in order to get over/past/through something/someone? I don’t think so. What I council people in my classes to do is to first, let go of the word “forgive”. To me that word carries way too much expectation of some kind of miraculous 180 degree change of heart, and/or feeling of freedom, lightness, etc that may NEVER come about a situation or person who wounded us, even if we are able to work through the pain, even if we are able to “understand” how it happened. Instead I council my students to “get balance with” the person/people we feel “out of balance” with instead. And “getting balance” with something/someone, or “making peace” with it/them, is a very different thing to me than the modern connotation of forgiveness.

“Getting balance” for me is a point of neutrality, the middle way, a detachment from the burden of pain that is the collateral damage we are non-consensually saddled with when someone injures us. Here the objective is to work through the emotions of the situation by considering the situation from every angle, dissecting the words and actions of ALL parties, until your mind has enough information, enough understanding, that the heart/gut stops throwing pain about it anymore. But the key point to it is WORK. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, in fact sometimes all that time does is allow things to fester to the point of imminent destruction. However working on getting through it will at least make it easier to deal with day to day.

Of course for some people working it through to the point of “no pain” CAN open a door to allow positive emotion for the person/people who injured us to bubble back up, and real forgiveness can be born from that point. However to go in with that sole objective, forgiveness, is setting yourself up for failure, especially because there are ingredients that are necessary for REAL forgiveness, that not all of us are ever going to get. What are those?

#1. OWN IT – The person/people who caused the injury have to recognize that they HAVE harmed you and own it. Not just pay it lip service. They have to genuinely know so clearly within their own being that what THEY did caused you harm, that you can see they know it when they express to you what they think they have done. (You owning the part you played in your own pain, and in any pain you caused the others, is ALSO required here!)

#2. EXPRESS REMORSE – In recognizing they have injured you, the person/people who caused the injury have to actually feel remorse for having done it, and genuinely express their remorse for whatever part they played in the injury. Even better is if they are able to not only apologize, but explain to you WHY they feel sorry, because there is nothing worse than knowing that a person is not actually sorry for what they have done, just sorry that you KNOW they did it. When someone can express from their heart how much they regret that what they did hurt you and why, even if the person wouldn’t have done anything differently, it helps. Truly. (Your apologies for your part in the issue are required here too, even working out for yourself why you are sorry for the part you played in your own pain)

#3. RESTITUTION/REPARATION – The person/people who caused the injury have to be willing to “make things right”, to do whatever it takes for you to “get to peace” with the injury. So here is where the difference between being able to forgive people versus just “get balance” with them really comes into play. Often times even when someone knows they did wrong, admits it honestly, and is genuinely sorry and apologizes, if they are not willing to do ANYTHING to make it better for you, their “victim” of a sorts, true forgiveness isn’t possible. This is because some of what you need to even begin to get there, requires the other person/people to be willing to go there too. And even when the “injury” is something simple like denting your car, and you’re thinking reparation is something simple like, they agree to pay to fix it, the real work for true forgiveness is often the same as when the “injury” is much greater, like infidelity, truth and communication. Which means they have to not only make the obvious reparation of loss, they also have to agree to invest in the conversation needed for you to “get it” Agree to endure the incessant questions you will have about what they did, why, where their head was at, where their heart was at. Over and over sometimes, why, why, why, with anger and pain all mixed up in it. Two steps forward, 5 steps back sometimes, being willing to keep working and keep working, until…. you achieve peace.

So you see why true forgiveness is a rare bird. Too many people can’t even start at #1 honestly, and most people can’t see part #3 to the end. I don’t just mean the person/people “at fault” here either. Sometimes it’s the injured party who can’t do the work because they aren’t willing to see their part in their own pain yet, or can’t hear the truths the other people want to give them yet. Sometimes the “injured party” just flat out doesn’t want to have to give up being the “one who was wronged” because that place is a seat of power, especially if the person who injured them really cares about them, and wants “forgiveness”.

That seat of power is a place we all have within in us too. It’s the place where we hold contempt and judgment in the court of our own hearts, having convicted the perpetrator of our injury, thus condemning them as “the bad one”, which by default makes us the “good one”. It’s the place that let’s us pretend that we don’t have control over how much pain we feel over our injury, or how much we let it affect our lives, and worse the place that let’s us deny ownership over the decisions we made that led us to injury in the first place. Which are some of the reasons why I think we have been conditioned all these years to believe we have to “forgive”, so that we DON’T hold that power against others, or use that place to make excuses to and for ourselves. However it’s exactly the reason too that I think we need to FORGET about “forgiving”, and learn how to “get balance”, so that NO ONE get’s off easy. We each have to own our role in the pain, and we all have to work our own pain to it’s peace.

In the end, the oneness of peace/balance is really on us anyway. So if the person/people who injured you aren’t willing to do the work, ANY step of the work, it actually doesn’t have to matter. Your peace is about you, not them. You know what happened, from your perspective yes, but probably at least bit from the other perspectives too, if you are honest with yourself. So you work it through examining first your roles, objectively what you did right, what you did wrong, and your motivations for why (which includes what you have already been through in life, what makes you, YOU) and then you do the exact same work on each person who had a party to the injury. The words said, the actions, every bit of what caused the injury. And sure, examining motives may make you feel like you are “making excuses”, and sometimes you will be for yourself or them, but ALL of it is important to your own understanding about where your pain is coming from, where you have been deluding yourself, and where you have been seeing crystal clearly. And the more you see all sides, all perspectives, even the ugly sides, even the selfish perspectives, the more balance you will achieve with it, until one day it’s just… less… and then at some point it’s just… DONE. And forgiveness is not required to just be done.

©RavenHarte 7/27/14

You say Easter, I say Eostre … additional thoughts in the age of the meme.

1969362_10152213735805435_1129464109_nFirst, my original post on this topic is here  You Say Easter I Say Eostre. If you haven’t read it you might want to do that first, since I don’t revisit that material, this is a continuation of, and precursor to, kind of post

So let me reiterate something for those who haven’t ever read a post of mine before. I have been a practicing Pagan for almost 25yrs, leading a coven and teaching about Paganism to Pagan & non-Pagan alike for over 16yrs, though I am also an ordained reverend and a Kabbalist, so embrace all spiritual paths as necessary and valid for humans on this planet to connect to the Divine. Which is why I have to speak back up here regarding the FB wars about the Ishtar/Easter meme and the Christian counter “debunking Ishtar/Easter” meme, because it’s making me crazy.

A bit of advice I frequently give non-Christians is that it’s really probably not a good idea to assume the validity of the Christian perspective regarding the secular portion of ANY holiday that’s widely believed to be Christian in origin. The majority of Christians do not actually know (and many who do, do not accept) that Paganism and Christianity co-existed until the year 392AD, when Theodosius I passed legislation prohibiting Paganism, opening the door to the persecution we’ve fought TO THIS DAY, so there was a ton of cross-over between the two religions happening loooong before Christian conversion began. Most don’t care that we weren’t then, and aren’t now, willing converts either, which is why it took 102 years and finally the threat of death by Charlemagne to convert the Anglo-Saxons (one of the last hold out cultures against Christianity along with the Scottish) even though in 601 Pope Gregory had already specifically authorized Mellitus, one of his missionaries, to “appropriate the Pagan festivals and temples to Christian use” in order to convert them faster. The process was called ‘syncretism’, which is “the toleration and adoption of familiar pagan practices that would assume, with the passage of time, a Christian content.” Which, ahem, you see it has, perfectly.

So to speak directly to the debate on the memes. You do know that the practices we call Paganism today have existed since probably the Paleolithic era, but for sure since the Neolithic era, right? Which is ooooh only since like the 10th century BC. There wasn’t even such a beast as Monotheism in fact until around until around 586 BCE. So why does it surprise anyone that the spiritual practices that humans held for THOUSANDS of years couldn’t be eradicated by one religion, and instead had to be adopted and adapted instead? I mean seriously, even ole’ Yahweh himself didn’t deny the existence of other Gods people, He just said that His favored Jews were to stop worshipping them, and worship only Him, the one true G-d, if they wanted Him to deliver them from Egypt. And just who was Yahweh saying they had to deny then? El, Ba’al, and Asherah.

Now there IS a ton of debate in both the Christian and Jewish academic worlds about the 2 names, Asherah and Ashtoreth, in relation to Ba’al. Many coming to the conclusion that Asherah is simply the sacred grove the goddess Ashtoreth was worshipped within. However given that in repeated translations of the Bible both names have been associated as the goddess/queen who was Ba’al’s mate (though King James version eradicated the word Asherah altogether replacing it with “pillars”, “wood” etc) I think it’s fair to equate the two. A breakdown of those connections and biblical references can be found at this link, though their conclusion differs from mine: http://kukis.org/Doctrines/Ashtoreth.pdf

That said, if you research ANY of the goddesses of the pre-Christian era with the same correspondence to love, fertility etc, there is definitely enough archaeological and etymological evidence to suggest the below goddesses are likely all the same archetypal divinity figure, with the variation being particular to culture and derivation of origin myth, much like we see with most of the Celtic countries Pagan deity structures. Therefore the Canaanite Asherah (Athirat), who was called Ashertu in Ugaritic texts, and is the Phoenician Ashtart or Tanit-Ashtart, is likely also the Hebrew Ashtoreth /Ashtoret (which apparently comes from the Hebrew “astart” written as Astoret in older Bible translations because of the insertion of the vowels from the Hebrew word “boset” meaning “shame”, a method of insult used in the Books of Samuel) Ashtoreth is likened to the Arabian Athtar and Babylonian/Assyrian Ishtar (who was often related to Ashtart anyway), who the Egyptians called Astirati (hello Greek Astarte which refers back to the Hebrew word “Astart” as well) who is also likened to the Sumerian Inanna. Most of whom I relate to in my first post about Easter and Eostre. It’s all the same region folks, are we really trying to say these myths are not all interrelated, when we know the tribes were nomadic, bringing their beliefs to other cultures and intermingling them?

So let’s all just take a breath. MOST Christian holidays have Pagan festival celebrations attached to them, so what? Does the act of kids hunting for candy eggs and chocolate bunnies actually make the spiritual belief that Jesus rose from the dead invalid for you? Does it threaten the story somehow, shake your faith? I mean I’m Pagan and even *I* don’t believe that little Christian children are going to become Pagan one day because they were allowed to enjoy Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the Easter Bunny. And if you do, then isn’t it up to you to teach your kids what you want them to know about the holiday? To say to them, this is the reason we go to church and why this day is important to us spiritually, but THIS is just how we then have fun celebrating that? Because seriously the nit-picking about the origins of the kind of fun Christians are choosing to have AFTER their religious ceremony is a little ridiculous to me. And lest not forget that what you all are doing as “play”, we Pagans DO consider part of our sacred rites to the Divine, so if anyone should have all bunched up panties about it, shouldn’t it be us? Sheesh, go eat a Reeses egg or some Peeps, I promise you’ll feel a lot better about it.

©RavenHarte 2014-2015

The Power Of Laughter

laughter-infographicWith the holidays upon us and so many people frustrated, aggravated, and down thought Id post my short article on laughter for you all to enjoy 😀

It was once believed that the human laughter was what set us apart from other mammals. We actually learned to laugh before we ever developed methods of speech, between 2-4 million years ago. However mammals in general are social creatures, more so than birds, fish, etc and so they PLAY just like we do. Following this logic  scientists have known for some time, like DARWINIAN time, that primates do laugh, and postulate that other mammals did too, just not the way we thought, and not always for the same reasons humans do.  In fact in the 90s it was proven that rats will “laugh” if you tickle them, but strangely not mice – they are more solitary creatures though. See the article/video at http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/09/tickling-rats-for-science/

, Laughter for humans also tends to be a “social” construct, and having a sense of humor does seem to differentiate us from other mammals, even other humans. We are 30x more likely to laugh in a group situation than alone, over the same subject matter. Which is why comedies have laugh tracs, to stimulate your funny bone.  Talkers laugh more than listeners. Women laugh more than men. Psychologically laughter is a way we as humans signal our empathy and understanding and share intimacy and like-mindedness with the “many”. Our voices will even achieve harmonic resonance when laughing in a crowd. And human laughter is complex, we have many  distinctive kinds of laughs with different meanings from amusement to embarrassment to contempt. See this article for some of those http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rats-laugh-but-not-like-human

It is also can provide an emotional bridge, so laughter in a painful or distressing situation gives the brain a moment to decompress and refocus. Of course the chemical benefits of laughter can be found all over the internet so I won’t go into that here, but suffice it to say that a sign a relationship is floundering, is when you are no longer laughing together.

Laughter can not only bridge human gaps though, it also connects us to other species. Remember those rats, well they more closely bonded to the humans that tickled them, trying to instigate play more often from them etc. So all those times you just knew your dog was laughing at you, or with you, it probably was, and you can learn to join in… See the articles, and go out and have yourself a good hearty laugh!!!

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200911/do-dogs-laugh

©RavenHarte 12/21/13

Dealing with Suicide

Lillith Grey and I share many of the same passions and platforms, and so after I met her at CatalystCon in March, I began following her more closely. This article is a perfect example why. Probably the best thing I have ever read about the experience of a suicide within a community in which you lead/teach/hold responsibility. In fact to me, most of it applies to any unexpected death or accident/incident for which people feel responsible. I encourage everyone to read it!!!

Pretty Kitty Pages

Yesterday, in the middle of my workday, I learned that a member of our Leather family took her own life. Suicide is a choice that is exceptionally difficult to wrap our minds around, especially when the person isn’t around anymore to help us understand. It is the 10th leading cause of death in America, making it a serious threat to the well-being of people in our country. Because mental illness and mental health care are so stigmatized, and there is relatively little public dialogue about what suicide means and how it happens, it’s not a problem that is going to go away anytime soon.

The feelings that arise for survivors of suicide are complicated and uncomfortable, so if that’s the case for you, you’re not alone. You may be feeling responsibility, regret, anger, sorrow, guilt, or shame. You may be asking yourself “why?” over and over again, searching for answers…

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