What’s in a Label?: Discovering My Sexual Orientation

As Pride Month approaches, I feel called to share a journey that took a very long road to its realizing. In all the things about myself that has taken time to understand, my sexual orientation was at the top of the list of most confusing.

Looking back, when I was really young (elementary school age) I was not afraid to experiment. I kissed boys, I kissed girls, I talked about what I thought sex was and would it possibly could be. The topic fascinated me! However, growing up in a highly religious environment (at home and at school), the topic was not easy for me to discuss with the grown ups. Whenever I did bring it up in mature company, I was usually left with at least some inkling of regret after the conversation had ended. The shame was too much to bear to continue to risk it further so, like many other children, I sought answers myself through peers or media. I actually learned a lot about the physics of sex but not enough about sexuality itself until much later.

There was always a stigma around homosexuality (as there tends to be in Christian settings) so I dared to not inquire about my urges towards other girls. This suspicion was solidified for me during the 6th grade. I came home with my boy crush written on my hand in pen. My mother asked me about it and I reluctantly explained. She responded with, “You are at the age now, huh? Well, I guess I should be glad you didn’t come home with some little girl’s name on you.” My instincts immediately told me that this was not a good time to come forward about my past girl-on-girl experiences.

I never felt like my sexual attraction truly conflicted with my spirituality but I learned to suppress it for social reasons. I suppressed it so well, in fact, I became a bit homophobic (projection, much?). Being around gay people made me rather uncomfortable and I found myself judging in a very stereotypical way (probably because my own tomboyish nature often caused people to perceive me as a lesbian which really annoyed me). This criticism didn’t last terribly long as I spent most of my teenage years in a very culturally diverse environment in which I gained friends and associates of various backgrounds and sexual orientations. However, it wasn’t until college that I became reintroduced to the idea of widening my own personal options.

Like many college kids do, I found out a lot about myself both in the classroom and the dorm room (if you catch my drift). By this time, I had never considered being with the same sex since my grade school days. I figured it was a developmental phase that had come and gone. Then, ironically enough, after several failed attempts at having a romantic relationships with guys, a good gay friend of my told me to consider trying women. I was shocked to hear his suggestion, wondering what it was about me that would prompt such an idea. Hadn’t I feminized myself up enough to be with any of my male counterparts? I eventually learned that wasn’t the point at all but that there was a side of myself, more obvious to everyone else at the time, that I had not been in touch with; a side that I had, in retrospect, apparently forgotten to some extent.

Years after graduating from college, I still had not acted on my friend’s recommendation. Luckily, I found the guy (or should I say he found me) who would become my husband and didn’t give it much more thought after a while. Yet, the question resurfaced between him and me – apparently he saw the same thing everyone else did. At first, I was aggravated that this notion had not yet died along with my frequent wear of sports gear and over-sized hoodies (because sexuality is all about the appearances, right?). Then, I had a serious reckoning with myself. Why would I be so aggravated if some part of it weren’t true? Why would the questioning linger in my mind like it did if there wasn’t a “question” in the first place?

And so, it took my fiance’s nudging to finally make me do some exploring back down memory lane. I came to realize that I was not acknowledging a part of myself because I was afraid of what it meant to be that. I was afraid it meant something more than just being myself or that my Self would have to live out loud in an uncomfortable and probably not fully accepted way. I’m glad to say now that I’ve come to terms with that – privately and publicly.

Thankfully, I live in a time where the concept of sexuality is expanding and while it is confusing and even upsetting for many traditionalist, it’s actually very relieving to those of us who have lived our lives in the previously undefined gray areas. As for my label, I currently accept bisexual heteromantic as most accurately describing my experience. At first I thought, “Oh god, I’m one of those people with an obnoxiously complicated sexual identifier”, then I thought, “Who cares?

I’ve come to figure that anyone who does will have to carry that burden on their own. I’ve already done that. I cannot say that I understand all the sexual walks of life just yet, and I may never. Nonetheless, I am learning that it’s most important that we give people the space to figure it out. And, if there is something in us that struggles to allow that, then the time may call for your own self-reckoning and I hope, if no one else does, you grant yourself that safe space.

Happy Pride Month!

My Prosperity Floor Wash Recipe

Much like spiritual baths serve the purpose of cleansing our physical and energetic bodies, floor washes serve the that purpose for our home and work spaces. Creating floor washes is a staple practice in the hoodoo tradition that was spread throughout America by African slaves as early as the 17th century. So what is who hoodoo exactly? Let’s get into some history.

Denied the right to outwardly practice the traditions of their homelands and tribes, slaves combined their African spirituality with what they learned of Native American herbalism and ancient folklore into one system. The folklore traditionally stems from European culture as it was forced upon them at the time. However, the slaves noticed the similarities between the European saints and African deities and, therefore, was able to satisfy their conquerors with the use of European images and names in place for discretion. Yet, as freedom of religion has evolved in America since, many modern hoodoo practitioners do not limit themselves to neither the African nor European pantheons.

In the cases of many modern practitioners, no one or any pantheon is acknowledged, rather than the invocation of ancestors and/or the spirits of the herbs used in the work. Flexibility is allowed here as this differs from person-to-person but there must be a personal clarity in order to get the most out it (as is the case with pretty much everything). Anyone may create a cleaning product from plants, but the intention that goes into it is the most important ingredient of all. It is also gives direction as to which material ingredients should be chosen for your concoction before starting. For instance, what you may use for a prosperity floor wash may be somewhat different than that of a love floor wash.

As for my prosperity floor wash, the ingredients may slightly change to accommodate what I have available to me or what I find may work better for me over time. Here is what I generally use:

Water (spring is preferred but the tap is fine if that’s all I have)
Roses (symbolic of love and beauty)
Lavender (for calm and cooperation)
Bay leaf (for protection and attraction of inner desires)
Fresh basil (a versatile herb used for purification, banishment and luck)
Tea tree oil (has antibacterial and antifungal properties; use for protection and purification)
Frankincense oil (has antiseptic and astringent properties; for spiritual and emotional healing)
A natural cleaning product of your choice (I am a fan of Dr. Bronner’s and Better Life products)

I place the intention into my mixture as it boils and stir it clockwise. I let it charge on my altar for a while and usually apply it in the hand-and-knee fashion, keeping my intentions clear the entire time. I could do better about crafting and using my washes more regularly but whenever I do it, the results are pretty amazing! I find the my home space is lighter and happier. I am more at peace and so is my family and our visitors when in the space. The areas in my life for which I set my prosperity intentions began flourishing, often in unexpected ways.

Again, it is perfectly okay to try out someone else’s recipe for starters, but it’s important to be open to trying out different herbs as you learn more and notice results. I, too, started out by trying out what I learned from other hoodoo practitioners but my personal craft has and continues to evolve in a way that is unique to me. I do not use measurements for my floor wash. Instead, I go by how much I have on-hand and how much I feel I need to use at the time. The more often you make your own, you will develop a intuition for what you prefer and what works best for you.

Have you made a hoodoo floor wash before? What ingredients have you tried?

One Up!: Three Things I’ve Learned from My First Year of Marriage

Last year, I wrote the article Why I Celebrate My Marriage Monthly to express the importance I felt in taking notice of the joy in my relationship for more than just once a year. As of April 2019, I have officially reached an entire year of legal matrimony and have collected a few valuable nuggets of wisdom along the way. It’s amazing how much a couple can be put through the test over the course of 365 days (give or take). Every day is a blend of challenge, celebration, and the downright mundane. However, even as humdrum as some days seems to be, there is always a take away.

Here are some things I’ve taken so far:

  • Nothing Prepares You For Marriage

Before saying, “I Do”, I did some homework. I wanted to know what to expect while being committed to someone for the rest of my life. I read articles, spoke to married couples and even chatted with divorcees for tips on what to avoid. I did my best to keep a positive attitude about everything and to immediately address any conflict head on as means of balance and resolution. My husband and I lived together for years before becoming engaged so I thought I had all the experience I needed to be prepared. I was wrong.

It did not matter how many years we were together prior to our marriage, things changed after the ceremony. There was a mental shift that took place when we realized that were proclaiming our union to everyone in such an official way. This turned up the heat when conflicts occurred and elevated our expectation for one another. Nothing prepared me for the life-threatening scares and hospital visits, the deeply heated debates, or the overwhelming joy I feel when he looks into my eyes and calls me “wife” with a big smile. So although it doesn’t hurt to do your research, just know that you’ll never really know how things will change.

  • There is No Such Thing as Equal

Fairness has always been a priority for me. I grew up in various environments – sometimes in a house full of family or just with my mother. Being an only child, I valued my space and belongings and respected that of others. When Marko and I moved in together, I made great efforts to make sure there was a “his and hers”. As a middle child, he was more indifferent which would infuriate me! He’d say, “There is no such thing as fair, babe. Things aren’t equal ” (while eating the last piece of my dessert portion). It took me forever to understand where he was coming from but I finally did.

It is no mystery that relationships thrive when there is give and take. The misconception, however, is that this exchange is split down the middle. The truth is that there is always sacrifice happening and usually someone is sacrificing more than the other at some point. Ideally, both parties will have their chance to be on the receiving end of this but the way it looks is likely to be very different than what you may expect and from what others are doing. While I was concerned about my husband drinking 90% of the juice in the fridge, he was also the main breadwinner at the time working overtime to pay the majority of the bills (so what I only get a cup of juice sometimes, water has less carbs anyway). To be clear, this has nothing to do with gender roles as our relationship dynamic is pretty unconventional in some ways. The point is that as life goes on together, priorities flex and sweating the small stuff only makes things more challenging. We tend to get more out of partnerships when we enjoy exchanging thoughtfully and wholeheartedly and focus less on quantity.L

  • Tune Out the Third Parties

Almost immediately after our wedding, Marko and I were bombarded with questions about when we were having children. Thankfully, he and I were on the same page of keeping that conversation and decision between him and me but it can be tough to block out, especially when the mean-well inquirers are family. We quickly realized that we would not allow ourselves to be pressured into choices that we were not ready for and would also be mindful about how much we share when we were going through things.

Advice from a select few can be insightful but it is important to have clear boundaries. You never fully know what others’ intentions are and what they are capable of with too much personal information about another’s relationship. This pretty much can be applied across the board, even for non-married couples.

Like any other transition, marriage takes willingness and adaptability. Although individual authenticity is greatly important, so is cooperation and compromise. So tell me, what is the biggest lesson you learned or challenge you faced in your first year of marriage?

Turmeric: The Golden Herb

Years ago I decided to make some changes to my health which included the use of various herbs in my diet. The earth providing such a wide variety of options for nutrients, I knew I would need to do some research. Book after book and article after article, I noticed that turmeric was almost always on the list, so I went for it. I experimented with it in food, homemade beverages and suggested it to anyone looking to start on their natural wellness journey. Before I knew it, I was having turmeric nearly daily for months when I noticed a few things:

  1. I do not get sick nearly as much as I used to. Every now and then I may experience a bit of “crud” but it is usually pretty slight and lasts for a short period of time, even during the flu seasons.
  2. Wounds heal faster. Between the paper-handling at work and playing with my puppy at home, I would inevitably end up with scratches, cuts and bruises. The scarring time has been significantly reduced and my skin, in general, is clearer and healthier.
  3. Weight management is easier. Drinking turmeric as a tea daily helps curve my appetite and support my digestive health.

So let’s talk about what makes this golden root so special …

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties.

Although inflammation is necessary to protect the body from infection, scientists are now concerned that low-level chronic inflammation may be a huge factor in the majority of Western illnesses, including atherosclerosis, obesity, and even cancer. Turmeric contains compounds that actively blocks inflammation-causing molecules, preventing the onset or worsening of numerous chronic diseases.

Turmeric is an antioxidant.

Much of the fear of growing old is the seemingly inevitable deterioration our bodies face, from wrinkles to poor bone health. We can thank free radicals and their oxidative damage for these effects. However, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and antioxidant enzyme promoter that neutralizes free radicals in the body.

Turmeric supports gut health.

Some of the aforementioned inflammatory diseases start with nutritional habits that cause stress on the digestive tract. The bioactive compounds in turmeric promote an overall healthy digestive system by not only reducing cholesterol but also relaxing the muscle walls of the intestine so it can it properly push food down. It can boost the secretion of stomach mucous to prevent acidic damage and helps prevents gas and bloating during digestion.

These are just some of the fantastic benefits of turmeric. No wonder it is one of the more popular medicinal herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is easy to use and has little to no side effects as long as not consumed excessively, much like anything else. However, it is recommended one always consult a doctor or nutritionist before changing diets, especially if there are any concerns about the side effects or possible allergies.

For those who have used turmeric, what is your favorite way to prepare it? What health benefits have you personally experienced? Please share in the comments.