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Searching for a place

To lay my head

Not a mansion

Not a cave

Just a castle of my own

A place to call my home

Room to lay my weary head

A view outside the door

Rolling hills and trees abound

A creek perhaps just burbling by

Perhaps some fruit trees nearby

Just for us and not the bats

Perhaps cows and horses are near

Chickens too would not be too much

Just leave the rooster at home

No early morning crowing here

Just a place to lay my head

And move around under open skies

With room to turn around

Fresh air to breath

The sound of the breeze

Whispering through the trees

The only noise I hear

Except the sounds of wildlife passing by

Or visiting for a while

Peace and quiet reign here

In this place to call my own

Away from the maddening crowd

Where is my castle, where do you hide

Will I find you soon just by my side

Listening

To a heartfelt sigh.

~

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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Through the Looking Glass

image from gamesfortrainers.blogspot.com

“A good plan of today is better than a great plan of tomorrow. Look back with satisfaction and move forward with confidence.” – Ritu Ghatourey

As some of you may know, I am the director of a self-development program called Life Change 90. One of the tried and proven methods in self-development is the review phase.  For some it’s a lot easier than others.

For example: a single person may find it easy to schedule enough time to review the  month, quarter, half-year or year in the space of an afternoon up to a weekend. They have only themselves, as a rule, to concern themselves when they are scheduling the time and focusing on their results, achievements and next plans.

For a couple without children, it may be possible for them to do their individual reviews in a similar manner, but when they review their joint, couple oriented goals, they may need to schedule a weekend and for that they have the ability, without constraints, to go away for a weekend to really focus on where they want to head in the coming time frame.  I should also add that there are no limits with respect to the time frame when they are doing their plans. They can have short, mid-term and long-term plans. Some plans may stretch into a few years in the future or longer, it depends on what they are working towards.

Through the Looking Glass

image from projectavalon.net

However, when you think about a family, the parents of young children have the same aspirations with their goals but their time availability may be drastically curtailed. They are reliant on finding someone to look after their children for however long they can afford to get away. In this context, afford has several meanings, from financial to time and all manner of things in between. So for a couple, with children it may be a bigger challenge than for a single person – and then again, it may not.

However, I’d like to show you a specific example of how easy or difficult this can be.  Our children are all adults, we have the ‘empty nest’ syndrome, but that does not mean that we are time rich. Due to the limitations created by my health issues, finding time when I can truly focus on planning is severely restricted. That is, if I wish to be a contributing partner in the planning.  Add to this, the very real-time challenge presented to my husband who does so many other things to help me in the house and to ensure our relationship remains as vibrant as possible under the circumstances. (I help here too).

Through the Looking Glass

image from preparetochange.com

This weekend has been the first opportunity I, personally, have had when I have been able to give the time to this planning since before I became ‘really ill’.  We had made plans earlier, right up to the time when the wedding took place. However, since then, probably because of the extra stress I put myself under, I haven’t been up to the challenge of planning the next phase.  It’s also been a case of consolidating all that we had planned to that point and those things which were still in motion after that. But, we were ready for a review; it was simply awaiting my ‘availability.

I have to be honest, brutally honest; I really wasn’t totally behind the idea. I haven’t felt ‘good’ for quite a while, Christmas is just around the next weekend and I feel woefully under prepared.  That too is an exaggeration, but it is my reality. I happen to be one of those people who need to have everything arranged down to the last gasp.  Hence the series of heel taps I’ve had all day.

Getting away from home was a nightmare. Nothing wanted to work out right and we were later than we had planned.  Then we were held up in Brisbane when it should have been a quick stop. The traffic on the way to Tambourine was sluggish to say the least. By the time we arrived on the mountain I was tired, sore and not in the mood to start reviewing!  However, I’ve now had dinner, relaxed, watched a little TV, showered and feel ready to do what we came here for.  Tomorrow we start.  I’ll let you know how we go.

To Be Continued…………..

Ciao,  Susan

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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Love is in the air

Love is in the air

The love bug bit early this year (I think) and we have had the Eastern Rosellas back in the nesting box in the front garden.   Above is a photograph of one of last years parents feeding the almost full grown offspring.  Now we have the parents, their offspring from last year, (two birds) and a clutch of new babies.

We have been trying to guess how many were in the box since we didn’t want to disturb them. Mum and Dad have been flying madly to and fro and there was lots of cheeping from inside. Excitement has been rising as the weeks passed.

It was really tempting to get closer as the bird box is right above the King Orchid which was flowering spectacularly a short time ago.  In fact it was whilst photographing the orchid that we learned it was inhabited. There was an explosion of feathers from the bird box as one of the parents left in a hurry at being disturbed.

Have you ever had a surprise sitting there, waiting for the right time to be opened and you are so excited waiting to find out what is inside? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks.  When the chirping became louder we started seeing the parents and offspring almost stripping my Sandra Gordon Grevillea of the nectar. I thought it was beautiful that the young from last year returned and helped raise the next generation.

The only time there was any concern was the arrival of the local Currawongs. They are predatory birds and love getting the eggs from nests if they can. One particular day there were six hopping all over the tree during the day. I spent more time shooing them away than doing anything else.

So, we finally saw our little family, the fledgling, peeping out of the box. One quick shot and the head popped back inside again. We still had no idea if there were more babies inside and didn’t want to scare them  away. Peering through the bedroom window each time the chirping became load was an occupational hazard.

You can imagine our surprise when we found out we had more than one baby inside the box. We caught several beautiful shots of two heads popping up and down at the ‘mouth’ of the box.

Success – we finally got a great photo of the babies!

We have two!

We have two!

It was really difficult to get an idea of whether we were seeing the same two heads or perhaps more. Parents and young from last year seemed to be dashing to and fro so often we thought there may be more. The Currawongs were now no longer a problem and we had to be patient to find out exactly how big a brood was hiding in there.

Yet as always, the path of love, and life never runs smoothly. I was loathe to leave them because we thought they might be venturing outside at any time, but my doctors appointment was scheduled and I had to go away.  Peering through cross eyes at a bird box through a camera is a challenging task so I had to content myself with making sure they were there and waiting. But there was a mishap to come.

To remind you of the orchid in the tree…. and for Laurie, our Green tree frog who serenades us at the laundry door every night.

I couldn’t resist showing our Butcher birds who come caroling every morning.  We are Blessed to have such an abundance of beautiful wildlife at our doorstep.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy taking them. I love sharing the amazing life we have around us, especially when there may be a struggle going on inside. At least I can see straight, talk sensibly and have my fingers do the walking.  🙂

Next – An unexpected development.

Ciao, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013.

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image from creativepinkdesigns.blogspot.com

“Blessings be on this house,” Granny said, perfunctorily. It was always a good opening remark for a witch. It concentrated people’s minds on what other things might be on this house.”    ― Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

I seem to be saying this a great deal recently, but it has been a rugged week so far.  I’m not complaining, really, because having finally found a reason for a decade or more of ill-health which no doctor, specialist, alternative therapist and so on have been able to explain to me, I understood that getting well was going to be a rocky road.  The medications which I have to take are – well, not kind on my ‘fragile’ system, and killing off the wretched bugs causes its own misery. Yet, I have to acknowledge that these medicines are a Blessing in themselves.

I have my next batch of tablets to add to the first now and the combination simply increases the …… results. I am getting well, eventually, I simply have to weather the storm in the interim.  So the times when I feel totally wretched and ill, praying for the dreadful itching and vomiting etc to pass, may seem interminable at that time, but they do pass.  Then I can have some pleasant times, escapades if you like and I hold tight to those beautiful times when the bad ones strike.

Following absolutely awful mornings this week I have had afternoons filled with doctors visits and testing – I’m beginning to think it was more than a coincidence that we continually make new and fresh blood, if we didn’t I might be in a bit of a pickle by now! Now that is a true Blessing.

image from lauradoyle.org

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  ― Lao Tzu

I have been blessed in so many ways, my two wonderful children who have become adults I am proud to say, these are my little children; I have had wonderful parents who taught me to be the person I have become; brothers who are the family I grew up with; and above all I have been graced by the friendship and love of an incredible man who I adore and adores me and we will grow old together… in this world and the next.

During my challenging times he is there, holding my hand, running baths, making cups of tea or making light meals to make me smile and stay strong. He sees me at my worst and at my best and loves me just as I am. A brilliant and wonderful blessing!

Brunch in bed with home  brewed latte

Brunch in bed with home-brewed latte

Don’t you love the serviette to protect those yummy yolk dribbles? I was surprised by this after hours of struggling to wake up, between staggering into the bathroom and getting myself together …. just the ticket and delicious!

Yesterday was my birthday. With everything we  have had to do I had decided a quiet day was the best way to go. Such are the “best laid plans of mice and men (oft go astray” by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”.)… more tests needed!

So a trip up to the Gold Coast again and I was treated to a lovely lunch at one of our favourite coffee shops. The owner is such a sweetie who always goes out of his way to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. It’s really old-fashioned service and always appreciated. Just the ticket to strengthen my foundering reserves after the tests.

Yet the SURPRISE of the day – week – month was not to be unveiled until I reached home again. I was looking forward to a cup of tea (always makes me think  of the scene from “My Fair Lady” where Rex Harrison is plopping marbles into Audrey Hepburn’s mouth as she says “Cup of Tea” and he and the Colonel eat cakes and drink tea.) Just a whimsical side track!

Feet up and cup of French Earl Grey tea by my side, I was told to relax whilst a quick meal was whipped up by my husband. A short while later he appeared around the corner with a beautiful silver box in his hand and inside the most beautiful necklace and earrings. Just look at the fabulous colours. WOW!

Beautiful Drusy Quartz necklace and earrings

Beautiful Drusy Quartz necklace and earrings

Followed by the most delicious garlic prawns and stir fried veg with coconut cream dressing…. fabulous.

Garlic prawns and coconut cream stir fried veg.... delicious

Garlic prawns and coconut cream stir fried veg…. delicious

Followed by a tired and resting birthday girl, propped up in bed wearing her jewels.

Happy Birthday Blessings

Happy Birthday Blessings

So, despite the trials and travails which I am going through, there are countless things for which I am grateful and recognise as blessings. They are what I focus on when things are tough. They make the times in between easier to bear and make the better times even brighter. Sometimes its hard to get to that good place, and there are moments, sometimes hours when it’s not easy to reach a happy place, but eventually I get there and count my blessings and realise I can and will go on.

I have fantastic support and understanding beside me every step of the way.  I have riches far beyond measure and I am so incredibly grateful that I can see that know that I will never be alone in my struggle or life.

I have been blessed with a wonderful life.

Every positive thing in your life represents a single unique blessing. Every negative thing in your life has the opportunity to become a double blessing. For when you turn a negative into a positive, you gain twice. You are no longer burdened with the negative situation, and in addition to that you are strengthened by a new positive force”…    Author Unknown

I wish for you countless blessings to lighten your load.

Susan x

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“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”   Kristin Hannah, Summer Island

It seems that in the worst moments of our lives we have to deal with things which would best be left until we are more rational, less hghly emotional.  The Family Fortune or  the Family Inheritance is probably the single most divisive issue in many people’s lives. Why should this be?  One of the most awful and distressing periods in our lives has occurred, we have lost our last living parent. I know that for those who lose a child it is understood that there is nothing worse than your child passing before you do, but the inheritance only comes into play with the passing of your parents, and that is what we are referring to today.

Snapshots of the past

Snapshots of the past

I could wish that there was a different way to do things. I certainly wish I could impart some pearls of wisdom which might help everyone. There are some who are able to manage the process with the respect and dignity it deserves, and yet there are others who become  seemingly different people. I have seen people squabble over half used tubes of lipstick and in the same instance take valuable crystal and china awards, irreplaceable and family heirlooms, to the dump and smash each piece because they didn’t want anyone to have them. (Nor did they want them!) Personally,  I would have to question their mentality not just sentimentality.

Family thoughts

Family thoughts

I have heard some beautiful sentiments at this devastating time, and I have also been unfortunate enough to hear things I wish I had been able to avoid. Perhaps the most devastating is when one person feels they have a right to more than anyone else, they feel they “gave a part of their life” because they chose to live at home, not just for the sake of a parent and should be repaid for it. They believe they are “more deserving” than anyone else.  By its very nature it is abhorrent to me. Selfish not selfless.

On the Achille Lauro, travelling to Australia

On the Achille Lauro, traveling to Australia

Really, can dollars and cents, furniture or a house really bring back the person you are grieving for? Whilst everyone has a need for mementos and memorabilia to create the illusion of having them close, it is an illusion. Yet denial of those same “trinkets and baubles” can cause such a deep feeling of loss, a loss so profound that it can tear families apart. How can one member of a family decree they are more deserving than anyone else? If they think  these things are “trinkets and baubles” why do they need to refuse to share them? Why disparage them in such a vulgar way?

Uncle John and Grandad

Uncle John and Grandad

Family life is complex. Gifts are made from the heart, or that is my belief. It is only natural that if you have a special bond with an item you gave someone it would have more significance for you when you have lost them. Again, it is all an illusion, but profound, and being denied it because someone cannot let anything go is unconscionable.

Family memories

Family memories

The real Family Fortune are the pictures we have of our family, the instant conjurers of past memories we have shared together.  Some, like these, are the family history, those members of our extended family who we have met only briefly and not when they were this young. These are our parents’ memories, brought to life in these photos. For some of us we may never hav seen them before.

Beautiful memories

Beautiful memories

Images some have never seen which show relatives and loved ones in happy times.

My parents circa 1955

My parents circa 1955

The beginnings of our own family, treasured images to look back on.

Sweet and cute and daredevil tomboy!

Sweet and cute and daredevil tomboy!

I remember – I remember, an angel and a demon, but wasn’t I lovable? 🙂

Welsh memories

Welsh memories

We all want to remember the  holiday fun we had and these photos bring the stories back to life.  There is nothing more cruel than to deny anyone the joy of seeing and revisiting old memories or finding new ones.  No-one should be able to cut apart albums, remove photos and decide if they should be included in the Family Albums. Should they?

In fact, I believe, no single person should keep another from seeing what is part of your own history, or from changing the family chronology. If these mementos are lost, damaged beyond repair or destroyed then your history is lost also. Which one person in a family has the right to do that without consulting all of the family.

The “Inheritance” is important and always will be and MUST be shared equally, but the “Family Fortune” will always be these memories which are irreplaceable.  These are our past, present and will take our children and their children into the future creating a tapestry of family which is invaluable and MUST be preserved.

image from ylaww.blogspot.com

You will never stop the tears for they assuage the pain, but the small or large mementos are held close to the heart as a solid remembrance of the person we love and have lost.

May you relish every moment of joy and love of family life.

Blessings and love to all.   Susan xx

“We all grow up with the weight of history on us.  Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.”  ~Shirley Abbott

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Mum 1980

Mum 1980

There are many ways of looking at anniversaries, but the first has to be the type of anniversary which is occupying your mind.  The best, of course, are the happy ones, the birthdays, weddings, births, graduations, when you met THE ONE, special holidays and holiday travels. In fact there can be so many highlights in our lives which can become anniversaries.  Strictly speaking an anniversary is defined thus:-

anniversary is a day that commemorates or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event. For example, the first event is the initial occurrence or, if planned, the inaugural of the event. One year later would be the first anniversary of that event.

Today I am deep in remembrance of an anniversary which, in itself is not as happy as the others I mentioned. It hardly seems believable that today marks the fifth anniversary of my mothers passing. I’m beginning to wonder if time stands still at times, since I recall this anniversary as an event which happened only yesterday. It is however the first time I have publicly acknowledged it. My normal practise is to withdraw for silent communion with a lady I revered above all others. A lady who was not only my mother but my best friend, the person I would turn to first and foremost to share the joys and sadness which populated my life. We were as close as sisters and I loved that special bond. So close in so many ways.

She was stunning, breathtakingly beautiful, and to me, wise beyond anything I could have imagined. I hoped to emulate her example as I became older and have to trust I honour that. She was a small lady, barely 5′ tall, yet she had a presence which made her seem much taller, imposing is the word I would use. She had the most amazing deep auburn hair which shone like a molten coppery gold. I wished every day to have her hair, and those beautiful curls, rather than my straight and black brown hair. Still, my beautiful daughter has inherited those incredible auburn locks, despite the pain they caused her as a child, being called ” carrot top” or worse still “Red”.

Mum and Dad 1977

Mum and Dad 1977

My mother, Patricia, was petite in every way. On her death I inherited much of her jewellery.  Her fingers were so small I am unable to wear any of the rings, not even on my little finger!  That, for me at least, epitomised her, small  and petite but she had a strength of will which placed her amongst giants.

Unfortunately she was ill for many years. The day my son was born in 1982 she collapsed in Brisbane and shortly thereafter was told she had inoperable emphysema and chronic asthma. It was heartbreaking to receive such glorious news of her first grandchild and the sentence of a slow death at the same time.

It was her indomitable will which refused to allow her health to dominate her life until much later. She saw her only granddaughter born two years later in 1984. She often said they were the most precious treasures in her life, and she and Dad spoilt them as much as they could. As their only grandchildren they were spoilt, but not overly so, and they adored their grandparents in return.

It is ironic how the future turns out. The family was as prepared as you can be in these situations, but we were all shocked when Dad suddenly learned he was ill. Terminally ill. He  passed away in 1997 and left her bereft at his loss. We all were, since Dad had been Mum’s rock for so many years. Despite  knowing how strong-willed she was, her health deteriorating, I prepared myself for the worst.

It is a terrible thing for someone with an active and clever mind to be confined physically as she was, yet aware daily of what was happening to her. The frustration and humiliation, for her at least, were a constant raw wound to her pride. To me she always looked beautiful, but when her health stopped her from being able to care for herself the way she liked she withdrew more and more. Her enjoyment came from her grandchildren, her craftwork, which we shared and the long, daily conversations we had in between visits.

Graceful and always ready with a smile.

Graceful and always ready with a smile.

During the last six months of her life I was privileged  to care for her so that she could remain in her own home as long as possible. She had a horror of dying in hospital, alone without her family. This stemmed back to her own mother who did pass away in hospital shortly after Mum had left for the night.

We talked more than ever before, and as much as her failing lungs would allow. We had one last Christmas together in 2007 before she finally went into hospital, another hard decision in February 2008. The next two weeks are indelibly etched in my memory. The hospital called earlier each day, until I was being called at 4.30 am because she was calling for me. I thanked the “higher powers” that my children were teenagers who understood and willingly worked around this so that I could be there for their grandmother.

I tried to get her to eat, bathed her and got her into her fresh nightgown, and made sure she got the only medication they could give her to ease things – morphine!  How she hated that, but at least it enabled her to rest peacefully. It was heartbreaking watching my beautiful mother slowly lose that will to live, to finally simply want an end to the torment. Still she fought it every step of the way.

The Administrator for the hospice was kind and gentle, yet even so Mum didn’t want to go. She decided it meant it was the end and the day of the transfer has been carved in memory as one of the worst I can remember. It was hot and she hated the heat. It was crowded and noisy, which bothered her then. The warder wanted her to lie down which made her breathing worse, so that was another problem. The short transfer from the P.A.to Mt. Olivet seemed to take hours. Once there I bathed her and settled her in a fresh nightgown. She curled up like a child in her bed.

My brothers all came for a brief visit. I think I was the only one who realised we were saying goodbye. I wasn’t ready to leave , although it was much later than usual. Bombarded with urgings and cajoling from my three brothers I finally left, intending to have a quick shower to freshen up and return. As I walked through the door the phone was ringing.

My darling mother had passed away as I was driving home .

I knew how much she hated the sombreness of funerals so I arranged a white casket to be covered with her favourite flowers,  yellow roses and red carnations.

So, one stage of her life was finally over and, as a soul in a human body she is now enjoying the next stage if her life, pain-free, able to run and dance and move freely once more. I rejoice in her freedom again and know that missing her is a normal reaction, yet I am disappointed that believing as I do I still grieve. I grieve for myself, my loss and somehow that feels selfish.

I wish my mother an eternity of happiness and joy, free to dance and sing as she wanted. I believe that one day I will be able to talk to her again and I long for that day.

So today I will look through my albums and with a heart overflowing with love, remember a wonderful lady who was my mother, a woman who taught me so many things, and be eternally grateful that she is free and happy once more as I lay flowers on her physical resting place.

This is for you Mum. Thank you for making my life so wonderful.

image from MATTCLARK_01’s media

Ever your loving daughter, Susan xxxxxx

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image from comments.funmunch.com Where would we be without friendship?

“Somehow, not only for Christmas, But all the long year through, The joy that you give to others, Is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, The poor and lonely and sad, The more of your heart’s possessing, Returns to you glad.” — John Greenleaf Whittier

There are so many ideas on what Christmas “should” mean to everyone. I really don’t like the idea that “should” can enter into the reason why we think, feel believe or do something.  There has to be a more visceral reason behind our thoughts and actions, especially at such a time of year.

I know some people  are of the belief that the ‘true spirit’ of Christmas can only belong to those who are in real need. To some extent that may be true. I feel deeply for the many who will spend their Christmas season in hospitals or care due to ill-health. I won’t categorise the level of need or ill-health since that feels shallow, to me at least.

Is the person terminally ill with cancer any less in need than someone needing a transplant or a heart valve replacement or a small child with an acute allergic reaction needing a respirator to breath? I don’t think so.  Yet there are those who are suffering from any kind of mental disability for whom the very joy around Christmas adds to their depression or malaise.

image from facebook.com Happiness is….

Yet I can understand these people all too well and I am totally grateful that they have a chance to start the New Year better than they finish this one. I pray that is the case, although there is also a measure of sadness in that wish, since for them to be better someone else has to have found a worse ending.  Life is like that; what is given on one hand is also taken away on the other, and who am I to judge?

The other people I think of at this time are those who don’t really fall into this group.  Their ailments seem trivial in comparison and yet they can be as devastating in their own way.

The person with a chronic skin ailment who has to spend all summer hiding from the sunshine whilst the newscasters joyously tell us will be hotter and brighter than the day before. It must be demoralising for them. What about the person in chronic pain, stumbling around their home, trying desperately to get all in order for the ‘big day’ yet knowing that within a relatively few short hours they will be left alone in their pain with none the wiser. These people I also think of and wish an easier time for. These people know that there is no cure for them and cannot, even tenuously, hold onto a hope that help may be around the corner.

image from lessonsinashell.blogspot.com

Yet I have found that I can ‘gift’ to the world. In the same way I can spread gratitude around the world – by intention, then I can also spread love , happiness and friendship around the world – by intention.

I visualise a beautiful rainbow coloured sphere encircling the world, coming from my heart and covering the world. I chose rainbow colours to represent all the chakras, but also to help ‘fill up’ any chakra which was a little flat or empty. After I firmly have this vision of rainbow light covering the world I imagine it showering down on everyone in the world, bringing love, friendship and happiness.  It can also cover love, friendship and understanding for the self as well as for others, and also all the animals, plants, spirits, in fact anyone or thing inhabiting out little planet.

image from facebook.com

This is my small way of giving a gift to everyone on the planet. Of course the gratitude is also there, that I have so many wonderful people to be grateful for; that I have so many creatures on this planet to spread all this to also.  In my own small way I am also blessed because I can help to bring some peace and joy to everyone.

image from fineartamerica.com              Puppy love at it’s best

“It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.”    – Isabel Currier

May your Christmas be filled with love and laughter, peace and understanding and happiness to fill your heart the whole year through.  Bless ❤

(c) owls and orchids: Susan Jamieson

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