Friday, November 29, 2019

November Personal Update: Vow Renewal, the Familiars, and the Future of Witchy Words


Well hello there, fellow Witchy Words readers! It's been quite some time since we've had a chance to just chat, hasn't it?  Back in April, I decided to take a hiatus from blogging and I honestly didn't know if I'd be coming back.  Even then, I haven't made a personal update since January, so I have essentially a whole year to talk about here.  I'm mostly going to cover major changes in this entry, but I'll also talk about where I'm taking the blog over the next few years as well.  Let's dive in!

The Vow Renewal

I may have mentioned in passing last year that my husband and I decided to host a vow renewal for our 10-years married, 15-years together anniversary.  In April of 2018, we realized that May 4th, 2019 landed on a Saturday.  We decided that our 15-years together anniversary just after our 10-year wedding anniversary in September 2018 would be a perfect date to celebrate.  Those of you who follow me on social media may have even seen some of the photos, but here's a whole slew from the day!





All the tulle you see was cut from my dress, which was originally floor-length.  I had it shortened to tea-length to make it a bit less formal.  The agate slices were actually made from resin with a friend's help.  If I ever have to work with resin again, it'll be far too soon.



We walked down the aisle with pictures of us from when we were younger.  My picture is from our first date.  His was from our wedding.



Of course, we included Artie as he brought us our new rings.


My husband's new ring is tungsten but had a rose gold plated interior.  My new ring is a rose gold vine with flowers studded with diamonds and a pearl as the main "stone."






All the flowers were the silk flowers from our original wedding hand-painted to match our vow renewal.



We had breakfast served while we took photos, then returned to cut the cake and serve donuts.  My husband and I aren't much for breakfast, so a single donut was more than enough.





The vow renewal itself was "officiated" by my old boss and dear friend who knew us since our relationship first started.  My husband's original best man and my dear friend from college gave speeches during the reception.  We had two tarot readers and a caricature artist, mimosas and wine tastings, and some gentle music provided by a DJ.  Just a mellow, lazy Saturday morning - just the way we liked it!

Our Second Honeymoon


When we got married in 2008, we definitely didn't have the money to take a major vacation.  Instead, my husband and I traveled to the next city over and spent less than three days there before returning to work.  This time, we decided to go all out.  I told my husband that I would take care of the vow renewal if he planned the vacation - and plan he did!

We spent a week in a cabin located in a sleepy little Colorado mountain town.






We walked around the Monarch Mountain area and drove through Poncha Pass, generally enjoying the springtime mountain views.


But even the view right from our cabin was incredible.


We did several wine and beer tastings, ate some incredible food, and shopped in their downtown area where I picked up my very first tarot deck ever.

 

You might be surprised to know that, after being a witch for nearly 20 years, I've never been very into tarot.  That being said, this particular deck, The Luminous Void, just called to me.  It also played a large role in helping me through my crisis of faith.  I'm very connected to this deck, though I'm still learning it.



But mostly, we just relaxed at the cabin, watched movies, caught up on some reading, and slept a whole bunch.


On our last few days there, it dumped nearly 9 inches of snow on us, which gave us the opportunity to use the hot tub in the snow.  I was all for this.



It's hard to see it in the pictures, but it's still actively snowing.  My husband's hair got frozen, which we found absolutely hilarious.  We probably spent hours going back and forth from the hot tub in sub-freezing temperatures.


It was incredibly hard to leave.  I've learned very quickly that I'm definitely a mountain/forest witch and I absolutely loved Colorado.  But we had to return to real life.


Upon returning home, we found a gift from the same friend that helped me with the resin slices on our table.



This adorable box contained pictures from every aspect of our vow renewal.  I now have it sitting on an altar to mine and my husband's marriage.

My Husband Quit His Job

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my husband has been struggling with his job for many years.  He worked as an IT project manager at a local manufacturing company.  The only IT person for a staff of 250+, he managed not only the factory but multiple other buildings and was constantly on call.  He would regularly work 7 am - 7 pm, then spend all evening until 2-4 am on the phone, rarely getting sleep or even so much as a break.  We couldn't go to dinner together or do much of anything in the evenings because he was so busy with work. They tried to force him to go out of town right before our vow renewal during the most crucial stages of getting things rounded up.  During our vacation, they even tried to call him numerous times while we were up in the mountains with very little signal and no way to actually solve anything.  It was a pretty toxic environment.

Since January, he had been actively searching for a job but had no time to really put towards the search.  We actually speculated that there would be no way for him to go to an interview either. 

On our drive back, my husband turned to me and said, "I... I think I have to quit."

He put in his resignation when we returned from the trip and officially quit his job on May 31st.  As of June 1st, I became the sole income of the house.

Because we hoped to find him a job within the first few months, we opened up the search nationwide.  For a while, we thought we might be moving out of KC. He had several phone interviews across the nation, from California to Virginia.  We even flew out to a couple of them, but none panned out.

One month.  Two months. Three months. Four months went by.  He was applying for upwards of 20 jobs a day, interviewing nearly every day, and collaborating with numerous recruitment agencies.  His resume was solid, his skillset was great, and his asking salary was spot on according to these agencies.  They even said he interviewed very well, but the offers never came in.  

Those of you who kept up with previous personal updates know that I work as a caricature artist.  I'm an independent contractor for a number of agencies working specifically in the event entertainment industry.  


I've been incredibly lucky that I've usually had a second income to back me up (aside from a few times my husband was laid off during the recession and, even then, he found jobs pretty quickly).  Fortunately, I've never been unemployed myself but I've rarely known moments where we don't have two incomes.  I'm not going to lie: I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of my husband being unemployed for an extended period of time.  We had savings or we would've never taken the leap, but my income?  It's not a fixed thing.  It varies depending on the number of events I work a month and nothing is guaranteed.  It's a fantastic job that keeps me busy usually more than full time but I've never been forced to find out if I could support both of us, our five pets, a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, a new car, and my husband's student loans totally on my own.

And it turns out?  I totally can!


I had my suspicions.  I technically bought our house.  I paid the downpayment and the inspection.  I elected to pay a massive downpayment on my car so my loan would be smaller.  I've actually bought all of our cars.  But until you're thrown into the fire, you don't really know, right?  I'm so thrilled to know, with total certainty, that I am a successful artist.  And you know what?  I'm damn proud of myself for it.


Also, to quell any fears, my husband did, in fact, find a new job.  He started in late October.  So far, it's exactly what we've been looking for.  He works 8-5 and is only on call for one out of every seven weeks because the company has an IT staff of seven.  It's also a step in the direction he's been wanting to go.  His previous job seemed to be priming him for employee management, but he's been wanting to specialize instead.  He now works as an application support engineer with ample opportunity for specializing.

The only thing is that it is across the city and technically across the state line.  If he truly likes it and we're certain he'll be staying with it long-term, it's very likely that we'll be saving up to buy a new house in the next 3-5 years.  That's much sooner than I'd planned on moving out of Rhoeas Hearth but also, I'm not necessarily upset about that.  Moving to the other side of the city might be the kind of change I need.  Besides, most of my gigs are on that side of the city, so it'd make my drive times much shorter in the long run.

So good news on that front!

The Familiars/Pets

Many of you have asked about the familiars/pets.  I'll give you a pet-by-pet breakdown here in a second but let's start by saying that all five are happy and healthy.  We had a few health issues but no big health scares over the past year and they're all doing well, including our parrot, Iris.  Now on to the individual updates!

Artemis


Once back from the vow renewal, Artie got his own photoshoot as a partial donation to our local pet shelter.




We also took him to our local dog park a few times.


We did find a couple of extra lumps on his tail and under his front leg (armpit-ish area), but they all turned out to be benign lipomas.


I went ahead and had those removed because of his history of having a cancerous mast cell tumor.  I want to make sure that I can't confuse a new lump for an old one, so it's simply a precaution.



As usual, Artie played the pumpkin monster to my witch costume as we handed out candy for Halloween.  I think Halloween is his favorite holiday because it involves kids and attention.


Otherwise, he's had a pretty chill life.

Zeus


Zeus did have a minor constipation issue during the past year that involved him going to the emergency vet eventually, but otherwise, he's been pretty well.


Zeus is a super laid-back cat so there's rarely much to update about him.  Which is good!  I'd rather have no updates than big ones when it comes to the cats.

Hermes


Like Zeus, there's not much to update about Hermes.


I do think it's funny that he's struggling with how loud Iris is given that he was previously the loudest member of our household.  He frequently "grumbles" when she gets too loud and I have to remind him that, not too long ago, the other familiars would complain about him.


But, other than that, nothing new.

Apollo


Apollo, my lovable derp, is still my lovable derp as always.


We did have an incident with a night terror in August where he accidentally tore across my face and shoulder.  I panicked because, at the time, we didn't have health insurance and I really thought he ripped my eyelid.



Everything ended up being fine but I do feel like, eventually, we need to nail down exactly what's going on with him.  Like, yes, I love him for everything he is but why is he so derpy?  We don't really have an answer for that.


He also has no real psychological reason to have night terrors.  We've raised him since six weeks old.  The reason he sleeps on his back so frequently is that he's never known fear in our household.  So I'm not sure what caused him to tear out, full claws, from a dead sleep.


Other than that incident, though, he's been just fine!

Iris


Despite the hilarity of the above drawing which, to some extent, is still true, our Angry Avocado is becoming quite the sweet honeydew.


In January, we finally got the all-clear for all of her infections.  We finally have a healthy birb!



In February, we built her a massive playground around my desk that allows her to climb from my monitor in front of the window all the way around to the door.


In early April, we began officially molting and completed that by the end of May.


We learned that she definitely does not handle the Fourth of July very well as she spent most the night with us in the bedroom panicked (but look at how healthy her new feathers look!!  And her pants are full!).


The entire time we've had Iris, she's been deeply afraid of water.  To bathe her, we've had to burrito her and dip her in a bowl of room temperature water.  But recently (as in, just the end of October), she started showing an interest in joining me in the shower.  She even began to get excited and started flapping her wings!  


And at the beginning of this month, she officially took a bath in the shower all on her own for the very first time!  


She's still hesitant about water - she'll jump in and out of the shower even though I've put her perch only just barely touching the water - but she gets herself fully wet and groomed.  I'm so ridiculously proud of her.  This is a huge step forward in trust, not just of me, but of her environment.


She has come a very, very long way from the timid, fearful, angry parrot we adopted.  Iris has really blossomed, especially in these last few months, as an eager participant in our family.  I'm so glad we adopted her. <3

And, for your enjoyment, here are some pictures of groups of the pets:









Now that we've gotten all the personal stuff out of the way, let's talk about the blog!

Why I Returned to Witchy Words

When I put Witchy Words on hiatus in April, I did so for my mental health.  It wasn't just the crisis of faith or the harassment, either. I hadn't actively written anything for the blog since early February and every passing day that I didn't tackle writing made me feel worse.  I would constantly pull up Blogger and stare at a blinking cursor until I eventually just closed it.  I didn't even really know how to put into words what was going on in my head.

Being an avid writer who can't write is infuriating.  It took me 70 days to figure out that I had to walk away if I had any hopes of salvaging my love of writing, let alone the blog itself given that I came out the other side of my crisis of faith still a witch.  And honestly?  Those 70 days are way less than the reality.  The reality is that I'd been struggling with Witchy Words since 2018.  I had hoped that things would change if I kept pressing forward.  But, as I said in my first article back, "faking it until you make it" doesn't really work in a crisis of faith.

When I left, I truly didn't think I was going to come back.  And, to be fair, I had plenty of stuff to fill my time.  I spent most of February through May prepping for the vow renewal.  Then, my husband's unemployment meant I couldn't say no to a single gig from the end of May on.  I love my job but I am burned out, as would be expected after four and a half months of non-stop go.

In August, despite doing well since my husband's unemployment, my anxiety officially began to ramp up over finances.  I was afraid that I would need to dip into savings if my job slowed down in October as it usually does (it didn't) and my husband was still unemployed (he wasn't).  I started culling back expenses and one of the services I hadn't unsubscribed from was my P.O. box for Witchy Words.  I went to the mail office with every intention of clearing it out of junk mail and closing the box entirely.

What I didn't expect was to find actual mail in it.  Specifically, a letter about the end of my blog.  

In the letter, reader Stephanie from Texas expressed great sadness over the loss of Witchy Words.  They thanked me for my guidance over the years and wished me well. My summary does it absolutely no justice, but it was an incredibly moving letter.

Instead of closing my P.O. box that day, I just... left.  I took the letter to my local cafe and read it several more times.  I took it home and pinned it to my office board.  I read it over and over again.

Because of everything that happened since my hiatus, my crisis of faith had mostly been relegated to therapy sessions.  I hadn't had to deal with it outside of weekly hour stints and only if it was at the forefront of my mind, which it often wasn't.  Now I had to actually face it in real life.  Was I still in limbo?

Over the next week, I mulled over every aspect and found, to my surprise, that I really did want to return to Witchy Words.  I wondered whether my desire to come back was just attention-seeking.  Was I only doing it for the views?  Was I just that addicted to blogging and social media?

Because what good is facing the light if I'm not examining the shadow?

But it wasn't like my P.O. box was overflowing with letters.  It wasn't like I received mass comments every day about my leaving.  This was a single letter.  I had had a big enough impact on, at very least, this one reader that they sit down and wrote me a physical letter to my P.O. box.

What if, even if my crisis of faith, I still had something worth writing?  Something worth reading?  What if, even for just one person, my voice could be useful?

And that specifically is what my return boiled down to.  I am a Virgo decan 2, an ISTJ on the MBTI.  I am, above everything, a helper type.  I want, truly want, to help.  While I love my job, it doesn't exactly "give back."  I'm, frankly, spoiled rotten when it comes to career.  It's a selfish job choice.  I don't have many opportunities to give in the way that I want to.

That's why I started a coven.  That's why I created the novice program through that coven.   I would have been just as happy helping a teacher or aiding in a coven, but that wasn't an opportunity.  There weren't any strictly-witchcraft covens.  Most of my area covens were Wiccan, and I am most decidedly not.  If it wasn't available, I was going to create the availability, even if it failed miserably. My coven was my way of giving back, and I no longer had that.

But through Witchy Words, I can do just that.

So I'm back.

The Future of Witchy Words

When I decided to come back to Witchy Words, I wanted to do so in moderation.  In the past, I've produced two articles a week on top of leading a coven and participating in the community.  My life outside of work was devoured by witchcraft.  It could have been one of the many reasons I burned out.  So, when I looked at my calendar upon my return, I decided that writing an article a week was doable.  From here on out, you can expect a new article every Friday, as voted on in the survey by readers of the blog.  That also includes personal updates, though I'll be scaling them back to once every two months - both because I've halved the number of articles I'm producing and because I just don't think I'll have much to update on every single month.

In February, when I stopped writing, I had numerous series that were left uncompleted, from thrifty altars to essential gemstones and more.  I don't like to leave series incomplete.  For 2020, I will be writing to complete those series.  That's part of the reason I gave myself over 50 days to return to the blog.  I even participated in NaNoWriMo this month and currently have all the essential articles for 2020 down to thrifty altars and personal updates written.  I wanted to create a backlog of articles so I couldn't fall behind again.  My goal is to complete major series I started at the beginning of 2019. This includes:

A Shadow Work Series
13 Essential Gemstones
13 Essential Herbs
Retrograde Survival Guide Infographs
Sabbat Listing Posts
A Meet the Familiars Series

Because I'm writing half the articles I typically do, it's difficult to cram this many series into one year.  A few, such as the herbs and retrograde survival guides, will extend into next year.

For the next few months, I won't have to worry about writing anything beyond personal updates and thrifty altars, giving me the opportunity to simply enjoy Witchy Words as is.  Come March, I'll be returning to the grind to work on articles for 2021.  In fact, I already have March's writing calendar planned out sans five articles.  That will leave me with one big series of 12 articles and 9 more articles to tackle in November.

Something you can look forward to in 2021 is a total rebranding of Witchy Words to more closely match my current practice.  I've enjoyed the pink and purple hues, the pearls, the 1950s glitter stars, and the brushy, cursive fonts since 2014.  That being said, I think those align more closely with my previous focus on hosting sabbat celebrations, creating pretty altars, and having aesthetic cups of tea.  My practice really isn't that anymore.  I'm working with a graphic designer this round - not just myself - to create something more honed in on my practice, which I'm hoping to unveil at the start of 2021.  A new change for a new year!

As of right now, that's the sum of my plans.  I'm always open to any article suggestions you may have in comments or on social media, of course, and I'll be hosting an official giveaway for article feedback in October.  Plus, you never know when I might just host a random giveaway.  Owning a parrot means I can't use paraffin wax, incense, or essential oils, and being a prior coven coordinator/HPS thrice-over means that I have a lot of that stuff on hand.  There's no reason why any of that should go to waste, so I certainly see a few small giveaways in the future.


See you in the next personal update, witches!

22 comments:

  1. Great post!! Love all the photos!! Glad to see you back ❤️

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  2. I have am so glad you found your way back. You have truly helped guide me in my path and i adore each of your animals. Plus you always make me laugh. Xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much! I greatly appreciate it. Plus, what's witchcraft without a little laughter every now and then? :)

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  3. I enjoyed the update and loved the vow renewal and pet photos! Good to see you back. :)

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  4. Welcome back Marietta! It's so nice to see things coming together for you. I for one have missed Witchy Words look forward to it's reinvention! xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Teash! While it's still most certainly witchcraft, my path and thus my blog has been heading this way for a long time, I think. Somewhere during my "Martha Stewart of Witchcraft" years, I took a hard left but I never changed my blog's structure on that. Now I have to go back to that intersection and drag my blog kicking and screaming with me, lol.

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    2. "Martha Stewart of Witchcraft". I'm dead. Lol.

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  5. Yay! I'm glad you're back and figuring out a way to avoid burnout.

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    1. Thank you so much, Serena! While the realization of the history and figures of witchcraft played a huge role in my crisis of faith (easily 70-80%), a small part was definitely burnout. I was just exhausted by witchcraft for a while. My only breaks were work where I *couldn't* be a witch. If this blog is my fun hobbyist project, it shouldn't feel like so much darn work! I'm excited to see where it's going.

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  6. I noticed on your Tumblr that the #1 item on your wishlist is comments on your blog entries. It got me thinking to back when you announced your hiatus, that my big regret had been that I never really commented on your posts, despite being a reader for over a year. Perhaps I was afraid that I wouldn't have anything valuable to add to the conversation as a very novice practitioner. But I'm glad you're back in the swing of things, and I can now properly express my appreciation. Again, welcome back!

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    1. Even if I hadn't come back, no regrets! I know there are a lot of readers out there that struggle with the exact same thing. I DEFINITELY lurk more than comment on blogs, so guilty as charged. As a blogger, though, it sometimes feels like you're screaming into the void. It's amazing what a little writer-reader connection can do. It's part of what brought me back to blogging, in the end.

      That being said, I really appreciate the comments. They do mean a lot to me! Glad to know I'm not just chucking articles into the proverbial internet shredder, lol. Thank you so much!

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  7. This comment is a bit delayed, but I LOVED the update! Your vow renewal was beautiful, your fur/feather babies warm my heart, and I am super excited for all the great content you have planned to roll out. (((HUGS)))

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    1. Not delayed at all! Thank you so much, Randi! I'm super excited to move forward with the next phase.

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  8. glad to hear your health and pet health are doing well (love Iris infogram LOL) I knew when I started wishcraft that i wasn't going to use essence or oil because I have a very sensitive cat. but one of my local witch who has her own store, she made me those sage spray so I just...spray with intent lol. Are you going to do your life wheel and plan article again? Or you are going to keep that private?

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  9. I am glad to hear your health and animal health are doing great! I really like Iris infographic lol that made me laugh. I don't use any oil, or essence in my practice either, I knew form the start I wasn't going to use any since one of my cat is very sensitive. So one of my local witch who has a shop, she made me those sage spray so that I can just...spray with intent lol. it doesnt effect my cat so far, but I dont over use it either. I mostly carry it with me so that I can spray at the office or me before I do a tarot reading. Are you going to do the life wheel articles like previous year or going to keep it private this year? I love seeing peoples plan and how they are going to tackle their obstacles, I find it very motivating.

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    1. Thank you so much! The pet memes were a ton of fun to do. The Iris one gets me every time and I drew the darn thing, lol!

      Not using incense/oils/paraffin is very new to me - even after having Iris for a year and a half. I still technically can use them in the ritual room when she's in her cage for the night as it's so far away from her and well-ventilated enough that it doesn't matter. I'd like to cut it entirely, however, and am working towards that. It's so hard because beeswax/palm wax candles are expensive and I can't picture my practice without candles, so I'm going to have to figure something out.

      I don't have my goals posts on the schedule because I've cut down my posts by half. I do have the end-of-the-year "This is Me" post, so I may do something with that. I honestly still have my goal targets for 2018 up on the side panel so I haven't been very proactive about that part of the blog, lol.

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  10. Late to the party, but I am SO glad you are back!

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  11. I love your post! I'm so glad you're back. It's funny to think that despite all my good intentions that I put out in the world it was an old-fashioned little note in the mail that made a wonderful difference. I'm so happy for you! Blessed be. Stephanie - your friend in Texas

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    1. Sometimes, the smallest pebble can have the biggest ripples. For me, that pebble wasn't that small. I can't tell you how much I appreciate personal correspondence with my readers - a little comment or two here and there, or a note in the mail really brightens my day. Your letter in particular hit the right spot in me at just the right time with the right words I think I needed to hear (or read). So seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much, Stephanie!

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