Life

Lammas draws near…


So, Lammas (aka Lughnasadh) is roughly 5 days away.  I have a few ideas on how I plan to celebrate, which mostly depend upon me baking bread.  To be honest, I haven’t made bread in a while, and my last endeavor didn’t turn out so well.  I should probably hunt down my bread machine, that will help immensely in the kneading/rising parts of the process.

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I have a hard time this time of year.  The nature of Lammas is all about sacrifice, and not necessarily in a “sacrifice something living” sort of thing, though I’m sure there are some faiths out there that have a sacrifice of some sort.  But that is not what this is about.  The nature of sacrifice is really about giving up something important to you for the greater good of your family or community (or world).  I mean, I’ve sacrificed a lot over the years, and most of the time, I’m okay with that.  Sometimes, I am a little envious of people who still have the things I gave up, but it doesn’t change the depth of my sacrifice or the importance of why I gave something up.

This year, I’m having a hard time settling down on what sacrifice I’ve made in my life this year.  Or if I even have sacrificed anything.

What am I celebrating this Lammas season?  Why am I celebrating Lammas?  I suppose when I get down to it, I celebrate and honor this sabbat for the sacrifice of the Lord of the Harvest, who dies in order to bless the crops and ensure a fruitful harvest.  I suppose it doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people, but there are a lot of dying/resurrection deities found the world over.  Dionysus from Greek myth, Osiris from Egypt… Jesus from Christianity.  Each of these deities made a sacrifice of some sort for the betterment of the people.  Though in the case of Dionysus, I think it was more he was killed three times and reborn each time to eventually become the God of Vineyards, Grape Harvest, Wine, Ritual Madness, Fertility and more.

Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity.  Osiris was sacrificed and became the God was Slain and Risen.

There are many more who fit this archetype.

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So my friend came up with the idea of me baking bread and I think I’m going to make a bread man and “sacrifice” him in an act of sympathetic ritual.  I might even use the freshly made jam as his “blood” when I eat the bread.

I also want to make blackberry cobbler.  I am really craving some blackberry cobbler right now.  Mmmm.

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I’m feeling super random today, so I will be off now.  Though, in other news, my Wheel of the Year page (the original one) is back up and running again.  I decided maintaining my own domain is just not something I can keep up with at the moment, so back to my old site I go! It looks faboo, so I am pleased!

Ta for now!

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life, Paganism, Sabbats

Pre-Beltaine Weekend


Well, here we are, the weekend right before Beltaine.  Though I suppose it depends on your tradition or group as to when you celebrate Beltaine.  Most pagans that I know of tend to celebrate usually on April 30-May 1, though traditionally, I believe it’s May 1st… hence why we have May Day.

So let’s talk about Beltaine, shall we?

Beltaine is associated with the return of Spring and full blown fertility. The name for Beltaine is thought to be derived from the Irish Gaelic ‘Bealtaine’ or the Scottish Gaelic ‘Bealtuinn’, meaning ‘Bel-fire’, the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). Other names for Beltaine include: Cetsamhain (‘opposite Samhain’), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church’s name). This last name came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people’s allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross). There’s also the Floralia (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1) which celebrates the Roman Goddess of Flowers.

The God is usually seen as the Horned King at this time, and coming into His mature power, begins His rule over the Light half of the year.

This is the second of the four fire festivals, and  this is often a time of self-discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth. May morning is also considered a magical time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health. Its is said that any Maiden that bathes in this water will have a fair complexion for the following year.

Beltaine marks the start of summer according to the old calendars, and is a time for feasting, merry-making, celebration, and joy. It is a time to look outward and forward to the future, and to prepare for the warm summer months ahead. It is also a time for love, union and the sacred marriage which honors the fertility of the Earth.

Today, the sun is shining, I’ve got my Beltaine playlist playing and I am putting together my plans for my celebration.  I just got the latest in a series of “Sabbat Boxes” the other day and I am rather pleased with this sabbats offerings.  It’s all crystal magick, which is totally awesome, and it even came with a mini-crystal grid kit, which I will admit, I’ve never done any Crystal Grid work.  I’m excited to try it out and learn a new method of working magick.

My menu is coming along nicely.  My little Facebook vote went over well and the winner for the main dish is Balsamic Chicken with an Orange Glaze.  I’ll be serving steamed asparagus with chives and chive blossoms, a fresh garden salad, fruit and of course, May Wine!  I’m looking forward to celebrating this year.

My ritual focus is going to be on healing, particularly I will be working on healing my own issues with self-esteem and doubt.  These might seem to be mental hang ups, but I assure you this is very much a physical thing as they are primarily connected with my body image.  Beltaine isn’t just fertility my friends, it is a sensual, physical celebration and often people hear Beltaine and think “oh it’s that pagan sex holiday”, which yeah, sex can be part of it, it isn’t a taboo thing and sex can be a very sacred, spiritual experience.  But the core of this is being comfortable in our own skin.  Loving not just others, but ourselves above all else.  We must learn to love ourselves in order to know how to truly love another.

Some Ideas for Community Focus for Beltaine

Community rituals should focus on the joy and passion of the season, but take it deeper. Engage all five senses, make your ritual sensual. We are bringing the upper and lower Worlds together, much like the Goddess and God join in Union.

Try to incorporate rituals of healing damaged body images, as Beltaine is a perfect time to remind us that all are beautiful, all are desirable, and all deserve joy and happiness.

And with that, I leave you with this gem of a song, about the May celebrations in the Cornish town of Padstow.

Many Beltaine Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life, Paganism, Sabbats

A Week from Beltane


Probably one of the most famous, popular and fun of the pagan Sabbats, we are now a week away from Beltane!  As I’ve written before (on various platforms) in our modern times, we see and feel echoes from days long ago in May Day celebrations.  Though, as we move ever forward, our quaint practices from decades ago fade from more mainstream practices.  I can remember making May baskets in school when I was a child, filling them with flowers (most crepe paper flowers).  My grandmother tells me that when she was a child, the May baskets would be left on the door of a neighbors house to give them a nice surprise.

Now, we’re afraid of our neighbors.  Now, we’re afraid of offending someone so we banish any sort of holidays, because Goddess forbid our kids learn anything about anything outside of their own families traditions and practices.  It’s kind of sad.

But that’s not the point of this post.  We are a week away from one of the biggest sabbats of the year and I’ve got very little planned for it.  About the only thing set in stone for the menu is the May Wine I’ll be preparing since I checked my sweet little woodruff plant and it will bloom in time for the holiday. I’m really looking forward to that, last year when I made it, everyone seemed to like it, so yay!

I’m still trying to decide what my main dish will be, I’m thinking Medallions of Pork with Riesling sauce OR Balsamic Chicken with an Orange Glaze.  Both sound good, and at this point, I can’t care what the kids will think, because they never eat anything I make anymore, haha.  For the side dish, I can’t decide if I want to make Spanakopita or Asparagus with Chives and Blossoms.  Or maybe both.  Actually, I think that’s a great idea and I will make both.  Now what to do for dessert? There are like a million recipes for various Beltane themed desserts, so I guess it’s whatever floats my boat.

Oh.  Wait.  I know.  Last year I had a recipe for Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Vanilla Bourbon drizzle.  It was amazing.  Then a couple months later, I was watching Fixate with Beachbody onDemand and boom! There it was, almost the exact same recipe and I knew it was meant to be.  I think I will do that.

Okay, that’s out of the way, time to decide on the ritual.

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Typically, Beltaine is revered as a holiday of fertility, love and lust.  As the old saying goes “Hooray, hooray! ’tis the first of May! Outdoor diddling starts today!” or at least that’s what my Grandmother said it was, many people focus on the physical aspects of this day.  I used to go to the Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA) Beltane event whenever I could (though that group is disbanded and I haven’t yet found another public event to attend)  and I remember vividly a few years ago (wrote about it, here, too!) attending a ritual lead by a male Dianic priest who invoked Lilith as a goddess of sexual healing.  I’ve been to a ritual invoking Pan and Aphrodite and I’ve been a part of an incredible Beltane ritual play that involved a love chase between the Goddess Flora and the God Faunus.

These days, I am content to spend my sabbats in quiet contemplation, though I confess, I feel a stirring in my heart when it comes to Beltane and a desire to celebrate with others of like mind.

I think this year I will spend my Beltane, not with ritual, but with fun.  It’s not always about serious ritual, and sometimes, saying “I’m just going to play” is a great way to spend a sabbat.  The Goddess says “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”, so perhaps I will (weather pending) spend the day at the park and have a picnic.

Oooh.  I like that.

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Seriously, this is amazing!

 

Now for the Fixate Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone (found on Beachbody ondemand)

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • ½ medium orange, orange peel finely grated (orange zest), juice reserved
  • 2 tsp. Kentucky bourbon
  • 2 medium peaches (preferably late-season freestones)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Beat together mascarpone and extract in a small bowl; refrigerate, covered.
  2. To make maple bourbon sauce, combine maple syrup, orange peel, orange juice, and bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly (being careful not to burn it), for approximately 5 minutes, or until sauce is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Coat grill with spray. Preheat grill (or cast iron grill pan) on high.
  4. Cut peaches in half; remove stones.
  5. Grill peaches, flesh side down, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until you can see juices bubbling beneath the skin, flesh is slightly charred, and peaches are soft to their core. Place peaches on a serving platter.
  6. Fill each peach center with about 2 heaping teaspoons of mascarpone mixture; drizzle with maple sauce.
  7. If desired, top each with a few crystals of fleur de sel (or any large, flaky salt) and enjoy!

TIPS:

  • For a kid-friendly version, skip the maple bourbon sauce and drizzle the grilled peaches with plain maple syrup or honey.
  • When possible, use Freestone peaches (available mid-June through August) since their stones can be easily removed. If using regular peaches, be sure to split them along their equator, not lengthwise, and remove the stone with a sharp paring knife.
  • If you don’t have a grill, you can arrange peaches flesh side up on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 10 to 12 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn!

buds

Many Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Food, Life, Paganism, Sabbats

BeachBody Super Saturday (on a Sunday in Seattle)


supersunday4So last weekend was the quarterly Beachbody Super Saturday event.  Which for those of us in the Seattle area, was actually on a Sunday.  It was cool.  I’ve never been to one of them before and my coach kept encouraging me to attend one.  The last couple events were on days that were just not conducive to things we had going on with the family, so I wasn’t able to attend them.  This time, I made it a point that I was going to go, that I needed to go, and it was going to be my “me” time.

I admit I was really nervous.  I am very much an introvert, and I also suffer from social anxiety disorder.  I know, I know, it seems strange that I have those issues, but trust me, it’s not pretty at times.  I was still bound and determined to go, and I talked to my coach about what to expect.  I knew from doing a bit of research and poking around the NW Coach facebook page that they had a couple guest speakers for the event, there would be a Shakeology bar, a live workout and a couple other cool things, so I was starting to get excited to try a few things I’ve never gotten a chance to do before.

Word was starting to get around that BeachBody had new things coming out and there was a huge buzz about what it could be. Was it new fitness programs? New Shakeology flavors? A new huge sale? What could it be?!

Turns out, it was the first two: but doubled! Not only was it just one new program, but TWO! One from a new trainer, Chris Downing, called “Shift Shop”.  It is a progressive program over a three week time period that honestly looks like it will kick my ass.  I think I might die, haha! But it also looks kind of fun so I want to try it.  The second program is by trainer Leandro Carvalho (the guy who created Brazilian Butt Lift workout series) called You v2.  I had no idea what to expect upon seeing this announcement until we saw the video promotion for it.  Holy oh my goddess! What did I just see? One of the ladies turned around and whispered “he’s like the Beachbody version of Richard Simmons” and after seeing that video, I agree.  That man has more energy than my 4 year old nieces and it was hilarious to me.  So it’s a dance workout, and it looks fairly low impact, so it might be a good option for people new to fitness, or who need a lower intensity program and it looked interesting.  I totally felt my age though when he said the routines were done to his favorite classic hits from the 90s and 2000s.  Like dude, it wasn’t THAT long ago.   That program comes out next month and I am looking forward to trying it out and sharing my thoughts on it.

The other huge news? New Vegan options for Shakeology! Vegan Vanilla is one people have been asking about for ages and to add to the line up, Vegan Cafe Latte Shakeology. I am super jazzed about trying both of those new flavors on my next “Shakeology Days of Flavor” event.  Used to be 7 days, for the 7 flavors, but now it’s going to be a 9 day event, so whoohoo!

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of it all.  The guest speakers.  I swear, it was like they were talking to me, about me. This woman started telling her story, how she became a mom, young, the challenges of making ends meet.  The dark thoughts that would come when she felt hopeless.  It felt like it was my story she was telling.  I had my oldest when I had just barely turned 20, my fiance was still 19 at the time.  We were young and unsure of ourselves, and honestly, neither of us knew who we were as separate individuals.  It was hard.  I used to starve myself to stay thin before I got pregnant.  Gained a ton of weight during pregnancy (to my midwife’s joy) and while I lost weight after my son was born, I still had a really unhealthy relationship with food.  I was dealing with mental illness, untreated and I hated exercise.

Seriously, though. I hated exercise, since I was a kid.  P.E. was my own personal hell and I would do anything to get out of it.  I was overjoyed when in high school I got to have my P.E. classes waived because I walked more than 20 minutes to school and walked more than 20 minutes home (under a mile away from school, you find your own way there).

My second and third sons brought more weight, more depression and more of a funk than ever before.  I finally got treatment for my bipolar disorder, but I just sat there doing nothing.  I didn’t have any skills beyond being a receptionist or a barista, and let’s be honest, when you have young children, it’s hard to find work that allows you to be with them.  Of course we discovered the youngest had behavioral issues along the way, so that certainly put the halt on me working outside the home.

So I sat and did nothing.

Then one day, I had a friend who said “hey try this with me!” and I bought my first BeachBody program, 21 Day Fix.  It was amazing.  I felt great and was losing weight.  But life being what it is and stress and everything under the sun happened and I let it fall to the wayside.  Last May, I decided to try again, and this time… THIS time I wasn’t going to quit.  I’m tired of starting over, so I won’t give up.

This woman spoke about looking for the “Secret Sauce” of success.  She looked around at all the people around her who were living successful happy lives and said “Why not me?”

Indeed, why not me?

So she looked and searched and hoped to find the secret sauce and eventually realized this one truth – SHE was the Secret Sauce.  It was with her the whole time, she just needed to see it.  Her story was one that was able to give people hope.  She had hard times, and she worked hard to turn it all around.  She just bought her first home.  She’s going on real vacations with her family, and she’s doing something she loves – helping people.

I sat there and listened to her story and I saw myself in her.  I look around and I see all my old friends from school, and new friends and I see them happy and successful and I was bitter about it.  I was ashamed of my life.  We aren’t well off.  We struggle a lot.  Simple things like “oh no, my kid needs glasses” is a huge expenditure for us and it’s one we struggled with making happen.  Gas in the car to go places, little things add up.  $5 doesn’t seem like a lot unless you have zero dollars, then it’s a fortune.  I kept asking “why not me?” I also looked for the secret sauce.

But hearing her say “YOU are the secret sauce! We are ALL the secret sauce”, struck a cord in me.  I have so many hopes and dreams, ideas and thoughts, things I want to make a reality.  I have skills I can use to reach those goals, but I don’t use them.  Why the hell not?  I love helping people.  It’s kind of my thing.  I do a lot of volunteer work with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts because it’s something I feel passion for.  I love seeing my boys and their friends experience new things and learning new skills, and getting a chance to be a part of that is something I love.  I volunteer with my Craft Tradition, because it is another thing I feel passionate about.  I love my Tradition, I love what I learned, I love the friends I’ve made in my time there.

I love helping my friends and family when they need something that I am able to do for them.  It’s not much, but the little things here and there that I can do, I do to the best of my ability.  There’s no one else in the world who can be me, so why can’t I be the best me there is?

We all know I share much of my life here on this blog.  I’m totally okay with that, though I know most people find it stupid, foolish or whatever.  My life is an open book for the most part.  I share my struggles, my triumphs, my fears, hopes, rants and rages. I share it all, because somewhere out there, my story resonates with someone else and I am their hope.

I like knowing that.

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#seattlesupersunday

The final thing that we did was the live workout.  Holy crap.  That was an experience!  A mash-up of three programs, with over a hundred people in attendance.  Wow.  The programs were all ones I’ve never actually tried before so it was a little crazy!  The first was from Chalene Johnson, Turbo Fire.  I’m not even sure I can remember what the heck we were doing just that, wow, it was fast and I felt like I was on fire, lol.  The next was I believe, the Insanity program by Shaun T.  I KNOW I have no idea what I was doing and half the time I kept getting confused about which arm was moving where and you want me to what now with my legs?!  Finally, there was Cize, also by Shaun T, but by that time, the other lovely lady we were with, her baby was tired and ready to go home, so we left before that one.  But holy crap.  It was hard.  I was sore in places I didn’t know you could be sore in.  I had a freaking BLAST! It was so much fun, and yes it was totally out of my comfort zone, but well worth it for the experience.  I can hardly wait for the next one in September.

Also worth noting, I finally had a chance to try one of the Beachbody performance line products, Energize.  Wow.  I like it.  It was like a burst of caffeine, without the let down once it wears off.  It was tingly, and bubbly like a soda, without the sugar and other crap in it.  I liked it.

So all in all, I learned a lot at the Super Saturday (on a Sunday!) event and it was pretty amazing to spend the day with two incredible ladies, and a room full of other inspiring and awesome people.  I’m looking forward to taking steps to better my life and my situation.  It takes time, it takes hard work and patience, but it will happen.  Just you see.

In the meantime, I’ll still be here with my random ramblings, though there will be more ramblings about my new passion for being healthy.  It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, and honestly, it really fits with my pagan and proud lifestyle, so BONUS! Haha!

Anyway, that’s enough of this for the day, I’ll be back tomorrow with my Beltane ritual ideas and things I’m planning for.

Have a great day and many blessings,

~ Ravenna

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Happy Super Sunday Seattle #rockyourpurpose

Categories: Fitness, Life

It’s been a year…


Wow.  I guess sometimes, life really does get a little crazy from time to time.  It’s been over a year since I last wrote here.  Lots of things happened.  Our remodel went well, though we never did get to remodeling the living room, and did a partial remodel in the kitchen.  Either way, the bathroom looks amazing, haha.

My youngest finished his school year last year with flying colors and he did really well at the new school.  Thank all the gods that we are forever done with his previous school. This year was a little harder.  They program brought in all new teachers and let’s just say the kids had a hard time adjusting to change.  See, kids with varying degrees of behavioral challenges really don’t react well to change, and I swear it was like Lord of the Flies in that classroom.  It was actually really bad, there was a day I had to come get my son because he was being suspended (it happens a lot for him) and when I got to the school, five of the ten students were sequestered somewhere else in the building, while another two sat in the principal’s office, one was being walked up by the vice-principal to the office, and then I went to the main classroom to find my child.  They had him in a side classroom to sequester him from the ring-leader.  The ring leader thought the whole mess was hilarious, running around the class free-rein, laughing and hollering.  He had hidden my son’s shoes.  I walked in, told my boy to get his shoes and looked the other child in the eyes and said “This is not funny.  No one else is laughing.  You know better than to behave like this.” He opened his mouth to say something and I pulled an Austin Powers “shh” on him and continued.  “You are not allowed at my house any more.  I am disappointed in you, and I will be calling your mother.”  It wasn’t really my place, but hot damn if I wasn’t irritated by the whole thing.

It took a few more months for things to calm down, and now we’re doing much better.  My son is spending more time in his general education class, though the majority of his time is still spent in the behavior class. He’s doing well, and for that I am extremely grateful.

My oldest is having his own set of growing pains.  Girls, school and everything else makes for super fun times for all.  He’s still a great kid, just has some fairly normal teen boy issues.  We deal with it the best that we can and know that it too shall pass.

The other son is now in middle school and we discovered recently needed glasses, so now he’s got them.  So far, so good.  It’s going to take some adjustment getting used to seeing him wear them, though, haha.  He looks great in them, which is a plus, I’m hoping he won’t get teased at school.  He’s also playing cello this year and is advanced classes at his school (finally!) which keeps him busy.  He is also developing his own set of normal pre-teen boy issues, which is exasperating to be honest.  But again, this too shall pass in time.

I finished my Witchcraft V class back in October, it was a long journey, but well worth it.  I learned so much from those classes and it was hard at times, facing myself and growing from my own challenges, battling my own inner demons.  It’s funny, but as I look back on my lessons, I realize that with each lesson, there was a theme, and my life paralleled those lessons.  For example, when we did the Aries lesson, it was Aries the Warrior and I had to face some pretty ugly issues from my past that called on me to be a Warrior.  For Virgo, the Servant, I learned what service really was.

My father became very ill over the summer.  Truth is, he was sick for a long time, though he never told us exactly what was wrong with him.  His roommate finally managed to wrangle our numbers (my sister and I) and called us to tell us how worried he was.  My fiance and I drove down to where my dad was living and we saw how bad it was.  I begged him to go to the doctor, he said “there’s no coming back from this.”  He hated doctors and refused to listen.  When we drove home, I cried and raged at my fiance because I didn’t want to see my daddy like that.  One week later, his roommate called again, and it was really bad.  I drove down on a Friday in early September during rush hour and my dad was mostly unconscious and pretty incoherent when he was conscious.  I called 9-1-1 and had him involuntarily committed to the local hospital.  As I sat with my father that first night and they moved him from the ER to a room, and I watched them clean him up, suck the fluid from his lungs and try to give him medicine as he yelled, it hurt.  He spent most of the time unconscious, but the few times he was awake, I asked him not to be mad at me for making him go to the hospital.  I said “I love you daddy” and he said “I love you, too.” Those were the last words I heard him say.  They moved him to the ICU the next day and the doctors told me “multiple organ failure” and things like “sodium levels are bad, it’s hard to fix that when it’s this bad.” and finally, “he has pneumonia, there’s nothing more we can do, except make him comfortable.”  I called my brother, and my sister in Boston and told them to come as soon as they could.  I called my dad’s sister and had them come, too.  I mostly stayed with my dad for the entire time he was in the hospital, only going home to change my clothes and take a nap.  Finally, five days after he was admitted to the hospital, my father took his last breath and I watched the life leave this man.

I’ve never watched someone die.

It sucked that it was my daddy.

But I learned about the true meaning of service.  As I watched those doctors and nurses caring for the sick and the dying, even when they were yelled at, cursed at, had things thrown at them, the level of caring and compassion was one I rarely witnessed before.  When they said “I’m sorry”, they meant it.  Knowing he wasn’t going to survive, they made him comfortable and cared for him.  They served the greater good.  They wept with us when my dad died, and I know that they felt my pain and they served us, the survivors with the same love and compassion.  I learned how to be a servant for the greater good.

I miss my dad.  We had him cremated and when I picked up the scattering box with his ashes, I held it close to me, and cried bitter, angry tears.  It was an ugly cry.  Everything that was my daddy was in a box.  I also learned the power of the “go fuck yourself” to people who tried telling me how to grieve, who told me that my process wasn’t good enough.  But it was, for me, and that is what matters.

My dad’s birthday came in November and I set a framed picture by my bed, sent the children to school and crept back into bed to cry ugly tears again. My birthday was before his and I cried then, too, because I realized I wasn’t going to get a silly phone call from him to wish me a happy birthday, and I’ll never get one again.

I imagine, as Father’s day comes closer, it will be hard for me, and I will cry big, ugly tears again.  Hell, I’m feeling weepy just writing this post and thinking about him.  There is still much to do and I’m having a hard time getting a hold of his former roommate, who moved shortly after my dad’s death as it was painful for him to stay where they lived.  He has all my dad’s things, and all the paperwork I need to settle his affairs.  Hopefully, I can get that going soon, because it weighs heavily on my mind.

I still miss my daddy.  I think I always will.

Finally, to catch up, back in December I started a new, slightly crazy fitness journey.  I am a BeachBody coach, which means that I can help people reach their own fitness and health goals.  I enjoy it, and it makes me happy to help people.

My favorite programs are the ones put together by fitness trainer, Autumn Calabrese.  Her programs are amazing and deliver the results she promises. The journey was she took about 50,000 of us through all four of her programs, starting with 21 Day Fix, then Master’s Chisel, 21 Day Fix Extreme (it’s extreme, I promise you.  I thought I was going to die, haha) and finally the dance workout Country Heat.  It took us about 3 1/2 months.  It was hard, and there were days I wanted to give up, but I stuck to it.  It was actually a LOT of fun.  I made a few new friends and I lost some weight while I was at it.  Ten pound doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me, it was a great start.  I lost more in inches though – seventeen total inches gone! That is a huge deal and I am so proud of myself for sticking to it.

I’m doing a new program now, called Core de Force and it different.  It’s heavily based in MMA/Muay Thai and it is an intense workout.  I have sore muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles!  But I am getting stronger.

I’m eating better, the portion control containers that Autumn developed is now being used throughout the various BeachBody programs, mostly, because it WORKS, really works.  Not like that “It Works!” stuff, but all natural, clean eating.  I still eat everything I love, just in smarter portions, which is something I really appreciate.  It’s not a diet – it’s lifestyle change for the better.

I feel better.  I look better. I have more energy and I feel less yucky when I eat because I don’t eat as much crap.  I like it.  I’m going to stick with it.  I encourage everyone to give it a try, you never know what you’ll find and it isn’t always about weight loss, sometimes we just want to feel better in our own skin.  I am a product of the product and if this is something that speaks to you – drop me a message.  I can help set you up to reach your goals. Or you can hit me up at my coach website www.BeachbodyCoach.com/smlehnert, let’s talk.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.

So I guess that’s all from me for now, next up is to start planning for this year’s Beltane celebration.  This year, I’m going to let you all vote on what is going to be on my menu! I did it last year on Facebook and it was a huge hit, so I can hardly wait to do it again!

In the mean time, I wish you all many blessings,

~ (Ravenna) Stephanie

Categories: Life

Imbolc – Season of Renewal


Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Another sabbat, the Wheel turns and a new season is ready to greet us.  The land is still sleepy, blanketed in cold and snow in many places.  There are still some signs of the coming spring, and we know that the light has returned by noticing the Sun is awake longer and longer every day since Yule.  The air is fresh and crisp, still containing a cleansing bite.

It is a time of renewal, of purification, of initiation.  A time to clean out the old and make way for the new that we know is coming to us.

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In my household this year, we are in the midst of a remodel.  It’s not the ideal time of year for this project to be happening, this much we are aware of.  But circumstances led us to the discovery of a massive leak in our roof which has caused some of the supporting beams in the walls of a couple rooms in the house to be damaged badly, and are forcing us to repair the damages.  While we’re at it, we might as well make it look nicer than it has in a long, long time.  We started with my mother-in-laws room.  The walls were wet in some places because of the leak.  So we replaced the walls.  Painted them and made them beautiful.  We ripped out the old carpet to discover the original hardwood flooring still intact and in excellent condition.  So we sanded it, buffed it out, polished it to a glorious shine.  Bought a nice throw rug and turned it into a quaint sanctuary for her to enjoy.  It certainly made the room look even larger, which is always a bonus.

The next step was the bathroom, which we’re still working on.  The floor was rotted in some place and so were the back two walls.  So it’s all torn apart while we get those fixed.  We will follow it with new walls, new flooring, new bathtub, new sink and toilet.  There will be beautiful new tiles with a lovely mosaic design.  I’m excited for it.  Our living room will be the final room (though maybe the kitchen later down the road) at this point.  We now know the original hardwood stands throughout the house, so all the old carpet is coming out in order to showcase our beautiful flooring.  The walls will be painted, new shelves and bookshelves.  A new 3-tiered toy box for the children to keep their toys and games organized.  A smaller computer desk I believe would be nice as well.  Fewer places for me to hid my little knick knacks and baubles.  I’ll have to organize them, too.

Since this is the season of renewal and purification, I’ve been doing small rituals of room blessings and simple spells to aid us in our work.  Truth be told, I haven’t done much, the heavy work is being done by the menfolk, while I am left with the task of going through all the clutter and things we don’t need.  And there is a lot of that, trust me.  It’s a daunting task, and to be honest, I kind of lose the will to live looking at all the junk we have aquired over the years.  But downsize we must!  I have to just keep reminding myself how much better it will all look in the end, how much better we will feel and how much more inviting our home will be.

Many members in the house don’t agree or follow my religious beliefs, but I think it’s just a matter of perspective and misunderstanding for them.  I will continue with my blessings, my chants and simple spells and rituals.  I will remove the stagnant energy and use this season to breathe new life into everything.

It’s time for some change.  I have to work with them, instead of against them.  I have to quit bucking against the men when they tell me what to do, because in this case, it isn’t about sexism or them holding lordship over me, but about them asking me to partner with them, to help them reach their goals, much like I should be all along.

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I’ve been ranting a lot in the past, and I think while I will always be the random Ravenna we all know and love, it’s time for me to show how much I’ve grown up.  Because I most certainly have.  There was so much pain and angst written here, and it bled through to all my readers, to which I thank you for all your support.  I’ve been working hard to build more patience in life, to let the little things roll off my back, because wasting the time being angry, is just that – wasting time.  I have better things to think and worry about.

My Witchcraft V class is coming along really well, too.  I’m loving every moment of it, and it is HARD.  There are assignments where I have to take a good long look at myself and be truly honest with myself.  Where I have to admit to things, even though they made me uncomfortable.  One assignment is called the “I Use List” where we listed all the things we use and how we use them.  For me I added things like “I use music to help shift my moods and make me happy.  I use the internet for entertainment as well as education.” The one that bothered me was “I use people to make myself feel better about my life.” It just sounded wrong, like I was using people for the sake of using them, the same as any other tool.  But it isn’t quite like that.  I use people as friends, as comrades and in some cases I guess as enemies, and they all help me make my life better.  Whether it is listen to me as I rant and rave about the injustice of life, or they give me advice and wisdom to better my life, even to remind me that I am not an evil person who does evil things.  I use people.  It still sounds wrong, but it was the truth and so I included it.  In the end I was praised for that bravery of being so honest about myself.  My next assignment is “I Connect” and I’m still working on that one.  I know it will come together the way it needs to be and I am okay with that.  In the end, this course will change my life for the better, and has already changed my life.

It’s worth all the hard work.

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I’m still planning my main Imbolc ritual, I’ve got an idea in place, it’s just a matter of getting it set up and performing the ritual.  I’m pretty excited about it, so that’s always a plus.  I shall be purifying and renewing myself this year.  I will wash myself clean of the things that bogged me down last year and start fresh.

I plan to make a small feast for it, too.  The menu isn’t quite set yet, but again, I have some ideas.  It’s still cold out, so I’m thinking hearty comfort foods.  Maybe a shepherd’s pie.  Some fresh bread and homemade butter.  One of our jams that we preserved over the summer.  It will be nice to celebrate again.  But it will be a quiet one, not quite the same frantic energy of the earlier winter holidays.  Like I said, Mother Earth is still sleepy, not quite ready to awaken and green the land.  But She is waking, just a little.

I’ve been thinking about music again. Creating playlists that fit the sabbat.  There are quite a few songs that I enjoy and fit very strongly with the season.  A few old favorites and a couple new ones as well.

Brighid’s Kiss by La Lugh is one of the new ones that I’m enjoying very much.  The singer died some years ago, but this song remains for us to enjoy.  It’s quite beautiful.

Alive! by Omnia this one has been a favorite of mine since I believe 2010 or so.  It makes me want to get up and move and dance.  To get my blood flowing and awaken myself to greet the slumbering Goddess and young Sun God.

Music feeds the soul.  It gives nourishment, much like the maiden Goddess offers nourishment to the young God and to the earth itself as she awakens from her long sleep throughout the cold of winter.

Let us dance and awaken the Mother my friends! Let us renew our Selves and allow the energies of new life and growth welcome into us!

sleeping mother earthWelcome to the Maiden Goddess as She wakes and stretches Her hands across the land, bringing a gentle greening.  Let the fires of Inspiration, Healing and the Forge of Creation burn brightly within us all!  Let the blessings of Brighid be welcomed into our hearts and lives!

Blessed be my friends, have a Happy and Joyful Imbolc this year! May you all be blessed with joy, happiness, abundance and good health.

Much love,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life, Paganism, Sabbats

Feeling a little too stressed out…


It’s been building for a while, actually.  I know this blog gets linked to my facebook, and at this point I could give a flying fig who sees or reads this.  It’s MY turn to rant!!

I have a large family.  I am the oldest girl in a group of 15 grandchildren.  I was also the first to have children of my own.  My youngest cousin is younger than my middle son, though not by much.

I love my family and have hundreds of happy memories of all of them, from random visits, to huge family gatherings for holidays or summer vacation.  Those were some good times.

There was always a little drama involved though, I mean, NINE aunts and uncles (and their spouses) and 13 cousins? It’s hard for there not to be some drama there. It’s part of being in a family.

In my mid-teens we had a bout of even greater drama, and it kind of fractured (okay not kind of, it totally obliterated it) family relationships.  The next few years saw us all struggling to find our new happy medium and some of us *cough cough* me *cough cough* had a hard time with it.  I had lost something really important to me, and I wound up looking to replace that relationship in whatever way I could.  I was a little out of control, though not surprisingly, not too out of control.  I stopped paying attention to what was most important (school) and gave everything I had into my friends.  I didn’t go to school.  I dropped out, I tried to kill myself, more than once.  I had an unhealthy obsession with my boyfriend and picked up some bad habits from him (cigarettes, alcohol).  When I finally got a clue about Life, I had already done something I needed to face the consequences to.  I wound up pregnant.  For those that know me, NO I didn’t do it on purpose!! My god, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that said to me!  You don’t know what happened.  The night I found out, it was to prove my mom wrong.  I was SURE I was late because I was super stressed at having just lost my job.  So I took that test, ready to say “See? Not pregnant!!” But upon seeing the results of that little test, at 19 years old, my life changed.  My boyfriend and I went to the clinic the next day for an actual doctor’s test.  I cried.  I cried a lot, they offered me counseling to “look at my options”.  I walked away saying I would think about it.  And I did.  I changed my life because I was going to be a mother.

My friends were supportive, and so was my family (or so I thought, some of them were) and I was ready to make it work somehow.  My son was born and it was the happiest day of my life.  I had never seen anything more pure and wonderful in my life until I laid eyes upon him.

I went back to school for him.  I went to college for him.  I gave up my freedom for him.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Right before I finished my last year of college, I found out I was pregnant again.  I was in disbelief.  I had been taking my birth control, sure I was stressed and there was other drama going on, but what the heck? I took 5 home tests before I saw my doctor.  I took an incomplete in my classes for him, and knew I would go back.  At least that’s what I told myself.  I got a job that I hated.  I dealt with really pissed off people over the phone for shit pay everyday of the week and sometimes on Saturday.  It sucked.  Eventually, I had to leave that job, especially when it became apparent that the company profits were going up the CEO’s nose.  No shit, I saw it and quit the next day.  As much as that job sucked though, I loved my co-workers and cried when I left.

Then I started to really unravel.  Let it be said, that from my mid-teens (when Big Drama happened) I had become increasingly unstable, emotionally.  My Grams took me to a shrink, I saw that woman 2x a week for 3 months, and at the end the shrink told me that I was nuts and needed medication.  My Grams said hell no and we left.

But when my then 2 children were 5 and 2 years old, I had a psychotic break.  I would cry over nothing, rage at the world, I thought about suicide a LOT.  I heard news from my boyfriend I didn’t want to hear and the wave of anguish was so great that my friend in Hoodsport called me 5 minutes later to ask about the “disturbance in the force” that she felt.  It was crazy actually.  I had hung up the phone and then she was calling, no time for me to say anything to anyone.  I kept spiraling.  My one friend, whom I give massive credit to for saving my life, would make a crack here and there whenever I would say something suicidal to her.  I mentioned to her once I wondered if eating a whole bottle of tylenol pm would kill me.  She said no, but I would spend the rest of the night puking (actually it can, btw) but after that we had Real Talk and she encouraged me to go see a doctor.  I did, and I was afraid.  But when the doctor and I sat and talked about what was going on, she told me I had an illness.  A real one, that was treatable.  I could find my happy medium again.  Bipolar disorder is not a fun diagnosis, but I cried with relief that day, because I believed I was losing my mind. Instead I found hope.  A month later another friend of mine calls me and asks “Are you pregnant?” Me: “Noooo. Absolutely not.  Wait.  Are you vibing me?” Her:
“Nooooooo….” I went right out an bought a test and wouldn’t you know! Pregnant!!

I guess I should have read the pamphlet for my new medication a little better.  Turns out it causes BC to be ineffective.  Yay.

Almost died having my last one, so he really was my last one.  It’s now 15 years since that day I found out I was pregnant the first time.  Lot of mistakes made, lessons learned and trials to be overcome.  That’s Life.  I never did get to go back an finish my degree, and now so much time has gone by, I think I’d like to do something different.  I don’t know.  Having the bipolar diagnosis certainly explained a LOT of things to me about my earlier years.  Turns out it manifests in the teen years, so right around that Big Drama, I started manifesting.  My boyfriend (we manage to work things out) now fiance has never known me when I was “normal”.

So what is the point of my story? So let’s get back to that family I was talking about earlier.  My grandfather was disappointed but loved my oldest son, he unfortunately passed away before the second was born, but he would have loved him too.  One of my uncles died after my first was born, and I will forever hold dear to my heart the day he came to meet my son the first time.  My uncle had cancer you see.  So he was bald, and weakened.  But he was filled with life that day, didn’t even wait for the car to fully stop before he was jumping out and saying “Where’s that baby? Where’s my new nephew?” and he swooped up my son in his arms, held him so gently and said “look! we’re twins!”

When he died, we had a memorial for him.  I brought my infant son with me.  A family member asked to hold him, and then said to me: “Your son is a bastard child and will burn in hell you know.”  Say what now? Wow, well isn’t that such a wonderful and ever so Christian-like thing to say to a young mother and her beautiful little boy.

I didn’t talk to that branch of the family for a long time after that.  In fact, I had nothing to do with them until the day I walked into the hospital room where my grandfather lay dying, pregnant with my second child and begging him not to die.

Now it’s many years later, and I get all kinds of comments about my life.  I have all kinds of comments to offer others about their lives.  My comments stem from a “Been there, done that. Please don’t go that route!” attempt to try and make someone see the colossal trainwreck they are headed for.  “Keep out of trouble, stay in school, get a job, get settled in your own skin.” Those are things that I tend to say, a lot.  Now it’s getting to “quit fucking whining you stupid brat and grow the fuck up! Life is hard! It’s not fair! Stay in school, quit bitching about yoga pants and put your nose to the grind.  Get a job, a career that you will love.  Worry about the rest after that.”

But wouldn’t you know, I’ve got those family members waiting in the wings.  Ready to defend their special snowflake by “putting me in my place.”  I had an aunt, while very drunk, tell me, in front of my teen son that she thinks the worst thing I ever did in life was have my children.  Wow, well.  I didn’t hate you before, but now I’m pretty damn close to it.  I spend way more time than I should reassuring my children that they are loved and wanted.  That they are NOT mistakes.

They are getting older now, and comprehend a lot more than people give them credit for.  I just recently unfriended someone who has been close to the family for years because she called me a freeloading slut.  Well fuck you very much.  She later private messaged me and called me a coward for unfriending her.  Nope.  It’s called being an adult and choosing not to play.  Now, I’ve got another family member calling my children mistakes.  Calling me a freeloader.  Again, fuck you very much.  You don’t know me, you know what you hear through the family grapevine.  I don’t need you and my kids don’t need you.  You don’t deserve the privilege of knowing my amazing boys.  Who are a GIFT from the gods.

I will not tolerate any negative comments about my boys.  From ANYONE.  This is the last warning.  There will be no more forgiveness given for this offense.  I am better than that.  I choose to walk away (yes, even from “family”) rather than listen to you try to convince me of where you think I went wrong in life.

Peace,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life

Back in the Swing of Things, plus some cool things!


So here we are again, back to school time! The boys all started a couple weeks ago, so we’re finally settled into our schedules which is good.  I’m pretty hopeful this year will bring some good things our way! Gosh, I’m not even sure what to write about right at the moment!

autumnlnOh wait! I know!!  Ravenna’s Wheel of the Year has MOVED! To it’s own domain!!  Oh my gosh! I’m so excited! It took me a while last night to get the domain and hosting company up and running and most of today transferring files and pages from the old site to the new one.  I’ve got some cool things in store for the new domain, I’ve finally got a lot more freedom to stretch my creative wings, so YAY!!

The old site is still up and running, but I’m going to gradually start pointing people to the new one, and hopefully once I figure out who all is linked to pages of mine, I will be able to get the word out about ravennaangelline.com.  Needless to say, I’m pretty happy and pleased with the starting results.  It can only get better!

autumnlnSo yeah, not much going on tonight, like I said just sprucing up the website, thought I’d add the new links here and watching me some slap happy dancing on Dancing with the Stars… if only my hips would cooperate with me so I could dance like that.

autumnlnMabon/Autumnal Equinox is coming up around the corner as well… I’ve got some new stuff brewing there and some awesome recipes that I am excited to try out.  I love being able to create delicious foods for my friends and family, though Goddess only knows that I don’t get much opportunity for that these days.  Sometimes it sucks being a solitary witch.  Yes, I have a lot of freedom in my practice and worship, but I honestly very much miss working with a group.  I keep hoping that maybe someday I’ll come across another group that I mix well with, but it’s hard to say.  Every group is different and there are some out there that I just don’t meld with.  *sighs* It’s alright.  I know I don’t need a group to practice my Craft… I just miss it sometimes.

autumnlnOkay, so that’s all tonight, I’ll be back again to share with you later!

Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life

Not sure why there’s an ugly camel…


Seriously? What the fuck is up with wordpress? That is an UGLY ass camel as my header, and where the feck did my background go? Why did you go and change my stuff and leave me unable to change it? Not cool WordPress, not cool.

Change it back!

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life

Today is a GOOD day!


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This is what I woke up to today.  It’s everywhere.  All over facebook, twitter, tumblr… whatever social networking you are on.  There are rainbows EVERYWHERE.  And I freaking LOVE it!!

*dances happily*

Now, before I get too carried away, allow me to clarify myself.  I am straight.  I have always been so.  But I am also an ally to those in the LGBTQ community.  I am beyond thrilled that today, in an historic move, the Supreme Court of the United States voted that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional.  Which means, that marriage for those who are LGBTQ is legal in all 50 states.  WOOHOO!

However, some people are not rejoicing in this news and it makes me kind of sad.  Seriously.  Why is it such a big deal if someone wants to get married to another person who is the same gender?  How does that honestly impact your life in any real way?  Gay marriage is NOT going to destroy the sanctity of marriage.  In fact, it might solidify it more.  In truth, marriage it not really treated as a sacred thing these days.  When you think about it, you take these vows – to love, honor and cherish, through good and bad, rich or poor, sickness and health – and very, very few people take them seriously.  You take a vow of fidelity, to stay true to your partner and not sneaking around to cheat on your spouse.  Or hell, not even sneaking, just plain ole’ cheating!  I know a man who is on his 3rd marriage (granted his first 2 marriages lasted for 20 years each, but his cheating ways were what caused those 2 divorces), and we’re already taking bets as to when divorce #3 happens.  It’s kind of sad, because we know this man pretty well, and we can already see him getting caught in little lies here and there.  And some stupid ones, too.  Like telling his then fiance that my boyfriend and I were married, then calling me to ask when we got married.  It was kind of confusing because I was like “Um, we’re not married.  We’ve never been married – to anyone!” He was like “Yes you guys did get married! It was a few years ago!” My reply was “Well, we were supposed to get married before Finn was born, but if I recall, you talked him out of it!”  It was a stupid lie, and I just don’t understand it.  I guess it was to try and show new wife to be that his family was a good, solid, Christian family.  Ummm. No.  For one, I’m pagan and proud of it, and for two, he’s probably one of the worst Christians I’ve ever met.  Fake.  So sad.  But sooner or later, the new wife will figure it out and she’ll leave too.  I wouldn’t blame her a single bit.  Even if she annoys me with her ultra conservative thoughts and ideals.  She’s still reasonably nice.  I’m not sure she knows I’m pagan yet… it hasn’t really come up in conversation, so I just let it be.

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Anyway, so today marks a great day in US history, as the day the supreme court said that no longer would we treat gays and lesbians or anyone else as second class citizens.  Years from now, people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.  They will look back like we do now, when we see pictures and video clips and learn the history of the civil rights movement, and wonder why people were so stupid.  Back when my father was a child, it was against the law for a black person to marry a white person.  Which is stupid.  When my grandmother was a young child, women were just barely given the right to vote.  Who knows what sort of thing will get people all hot and bothered in the future?  The times they are a-changing.  I think we’re finally taking steps in the right direction.

Today is a day that validates the young men and women who are growing up now, who are just coming into the knowledge of who they are and want to be, who realize their sexuality isn’t the “norm” and don’t have to be as afraid that society will shun them.  There will always be bigots out there.  There will always be the few who still cry up in outrage, and sadly there will still be parents who reject their children over this.  This is the time that we can gather those children up, hug them tight and say “WE still love you for you!” and heal the damaged hearts and minds of the wounded souls who just want to follow their hearts.

My son has a friend, they’ve been friends for ages now, and we call that boy “other son” (we have a lot of “other sons” really) because he’s become practically family.  He called us up not long ago and pushing aside fear of rejection, bravely came out to us.  The genuine, true blue fear that he would be rejected and ridiculed for his sexual orientation was there.  My son’s reaction? “Cool dude. So you wanna go on xbox live or what?” My reaction were feelings of joy and pride for them both.  For my son to accept him, and for other son for being so brave.  We still love him to pieces and honestly I want to meet his boyfriend, whom I’ve heard nothing but good things about (he has to pass the other mom test, lol).

We can rejoice because today, we are all a little more equal.  It’s a good thing.

I’m 34 years old.  I’ve been with the same man for 18 years, he was my first.  We’ve had a couple breakups here and there (jeez guys, we were 16 when we got together!) but we always wind up back together again.  For a lot of reasons, too.  Mostly, it’s like we’re two magnets who can’t help but be pulled to one another.  I love him, and he loves me.  We’ve never been married, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think we ever will, no matter how much I want the pretty dress and the gathering of my friends to witness a life-long commitment.  He doesn’t (I think he’s afraid of it).  We have three beautiful children together, and we’re mostly happy.  Because we’re a heterosexual couple, we’ve always had the right to marry.  But my gay friends who have been in relationships just as long as I have, didn’t have that right, no matter what state they reside in, until today.  So I will rejoice with them.

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Of course there are still things that will squick me out… but those are things that transcend gender and sexuality.  I firmly believe that you should NOT be making out or pawing all over one another in public – regardless who you are with.  I don’t want to see a woman practically devouring a man’s face in public, and I don’t want to see man devouring another man’s face either.  I think that sort of thing is best left for privacy.  But that’s just me.  I’m not an exhibitionist.  I also don’t like seeing skimpy clothing on ladies either.  Why? It’s not a matter of slut shaming or anything like that, and I think a woman should wear what makes her comfortable.  Just not at the expense of my 7 year old asking why that girl’s hoo-haw is showing.  Seriously, girls, your shorts should have an inseam that is more than 1 inch.  I don’t want to see your butt cheeks, and I don’t want to see your lady bits.  Men, pull up your fucking pants!  If I want to look at a man’s underwear, I will happily look at my boyfriend’s underpants.  Yeesh.  But that is not the point of this blog post.  One thing at a time, I guess.

So yeah, I am happy today.  The sun is shining brightly (it’s hotter than Hades out there, I swear), my kids aren’t trying to kill one another and I got me a nice cold glass of Pepsi sitting next to me.  Today is a GOOD day!  To my friends and those who are like family in the LGBTQ community, congratulations you guys!! I fucking love you and I celebrate this victory with you!

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Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Life

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