Goddess of the Week: Lemanja

You know what you would be doing if you were in exotic Rio de Janeiro right now? You'd be joining millions of revelers at the Copacabana Beach and ringing in the New Year with fireworks, dancing and gifts to the goddess Lemanja. You would set your gifts right on the waves in hopes that this ocean goddess, originally brought to the Americas by African slaves and known as Yemaja, would grant you your new year's wishes.

Of course, in my part of the world we do things a little differently. We paste flowers, seeds and all manner of verdant things on parade floats. Then--if we are bold and much, much younger--we spend all night on a city street and throw tortillas at passing cars. In the morning, we--the bolder, younger ones of us--shuffle off to port-a-potties and watch our gigantic and mechanized tributes to nature glide down the street: beacons of the cleanliness and alertness we now crave.

Those of us who are older and wiser make nice with the local Lemanjas. They get you inside access to the spectacle. You can watch people actually decorating the floats, and you don't get whacked with a tortilla, which is really how you want to start your New Year.

Happy New Year everyone!

And thanks to Petrea, who has more pictures here. This goddess is for you.


Goddess of the Week

A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...Image via WikipediaThe goddesses are handing this week over to the baby Jesus, for, as I like to tell my children this time of year, there is no ME in baby Jesus. And, as my younger daughter--initials MEF--reminds me in turn, "Yeah, well there is in ME."

Merry Christmas, everyone.
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Late to the party, as usual, I am only now getting around to doing something suggested I do last week: ask you all for a good deed.

Jess told me about Matthew, who is dying, whose brother has already died, who is eleven years old. He has a rare neurological disease called Leigh's disease. My daughter, as you might know, has her own neurological condition, epilepsy. So my heart is in my throat. Here's what I want you to know: this is hard for this boy, but think for a minute about how hard it is for his parents. Know this: it's harder than what you imagined.

Matthew, like several other children with terminal diseases before him, would love it if you sent him a Christmas card.

Here's his address.

Matthew Mickelson Butman
PO Box 1865
Wylie, TX, 75089

And here is more about his story.

Count your blessings, people. Count them. (And don't blame him for that last name. It's not his fault.)


Holiday Eating Tips

Marcella's fudgeImage via WikipediaOk. We're in the thick of things now, people. I'm talking cookies, fudge, cake, egg nog, candy, all your basic sugar-fat holiday death bombs are yours for the taking.

The question is: How can you strategize your gorging? How can you make the most of the many eating opportunities presented to you?

It's all about two little words: shelf life. Exactly what is your window of opportunity for eating things before they get either stale or just plain disgusting? The shorter the window, the sooner you want to attack.

Look at that alcohol-drenched fruitcake from Aunt Winona. That puppy is as pickled as a cucumber. You can hold on to that until Easter. It'll still be good. The trifle from your pal Maisy? The homemade cake from cousin Doug? Double-fist spoons right now. Those things might not make it until lunch. Homemade cookies and fudge? Good news! They taste just as good frozen! So you can parcel them out at your plumping leisure.

Once you've considered shelf life, half the battle to protect your bulge is over, but there is still the greatest danger of all to watch out for: family members. There are two kinds of families: the kind who will eat your special most beloved short-shelf-life apple pie that you have set aside just for yourself to enjoy with a cup of tea at a magical moment of quiet, and those who will leave it alone. If you live with the later, well fa-la-la happy Christmas miracle to you. If you live with the former, either eat fast or disguise your pie by covering it in foil smeared with gravy or marked "broccoli casserole." Cunning must be your friend, otherwise you'll die thin and bitter.

Christmas is the time of miracles, people! Believing that nibbling on small quantities all day long negates their calories since they aren't actually meals makes it so! Also, definitely avoid Grinchy-articles like this. They are clearly part of the anti-Christmas conspiracy. Boo! Hiss!
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Goddess of the Week: the Vila

The Children of Lir, transformed into swans in...Image via WikipediaJess wants one goddess for luck, one for fitness, and one for advancing one's career and oneself. Well, Jess, I'm giving you a whole parcel of goddesses. In fact, I'm giving an army of fierce warrior goddesses. I'm giving you the Vila. The Vila are Polish nymphs, and--remember--nymphs are minor goddesses.

Believed to be the spirits of frivolous women who couldn't get their acts together in this life, the Vila travel between earth and the heavens spreading mischief and good deeds; it all depends upon how you approach them and how they're feeling.

The Vila are shape shifters. They can be trees, birds, wolves, you name it. It's this shape shifting thing that I want you to focus on, Jess. The great thing about shape shifters is that they always possess the resources they need to reach their goals, whether those goals have to do with getting in shape or succeeding professionally. And--being fierce warrior goddesses--they can also kick butt if someone tells them that their inner resources are lame. Their inner resources are NOT lame. Their inner resources can transform them from trees into wolves in, like, five seconds. So, want you really want to do, Jess, is channel some Vila so that you can sort-of shape shift when you need to and as you need to. That way you've got your luck, you've got your fitness; you've got your career stuff. Basically, you've got it all! So how can you lose?

Channel the Vila: When you are moving out of your comfort zone, when you are trying to accomplish many different things; when you would like to shape shift into a tree, which is really how I'm hoping I come back in my next life. But remember, approach the Vila carefully. They can be pretty bad-ass, and you don't want some shape shifter messing with you mojo. All, I'm saying is use a little respect, people. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Need a goddess: I've got oodles and oodles of goddesses! They are just waiting for you. Post a comment detailing your need. I'll see what I can do.
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My Lucky Week

Whammy! The All-New Press Your LuckImage via Wikipedia1. Younger daughter turns 13. (Cha-Ching!)
2. Tweak my back.
3. Starter dies. (Cha-Ching!)
4. Obsess over lost dog that I found and took to humane society.
5. Flat tire. (Discover I need all new tires. Cha-Ching!)
6. Husband out of town.
7. Back still tweaked.

But that's ok because...

I signed with a literary agent. (To read the first chapter of my novel The Goddess Lounge go here.) Wish me luck as we try and find it a publisher in January.

Good must always be balanced by bad. That's the universe, baby.
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Goddess of the Week: Fides

Green turtles, Chelonia mydas in Tide pool in KonaImage via WikipediaPasadena Adjacent needs a goddess for rebuilding trust. She needs Fides, the Roman goddess of trust.

Mostly, Fides represented public trust. Her temple was built on the Capitol, where the Roman Senate signed treaties and documents. Fides was supposed to make sure that people could have faith in the signers and that the signers could have faith in each other. Her priests wore gloves and they were really into turtles. Go figure.

Whether it comes to trusting Roman Senators or BFF's, however, I think we all know that trust is hard earned and easily lost. Take my friend Callae, who I love. One time she recommended this book. We'll just call it: The Book.

"Oh, I love The Book! The Book is so so good! Here! Read my copy of The Book," she said.

Friends, I cannot tell you how much I hated The Book. This was when I still felt compelled to finish every book I started. So even though I hated The Book, I kept reading the book, and I felt bitter and angry both at The Book and at Callae. For the life of me, I could not figure out how my friend could possibly think I would like The Book. Did she know me at all? I had TRUSTED her. I had BELIEVED in her. And she let me down. That's the way it is with trust. It's there, and then it's not, unless you do the hard work of rebuilding it. Am I ready to read something else Callae suggests? Hmmmmm. I'm not sure I can answer that.

So, PA, the question is, with or without Fides, are you ready to start rebuilding the bonds of trust between you and your friend with indiscriminate shopping sense? Are you ready to let her own Black Friday and Cyber Monday no matter what that means big-screen-TV wise? Can you go there? If so, channel Fides. If not, channel Fides anyway. Life is short, and we need all the friends we can get.

Channel Fides: When trust is necessary in both your personal and your public life and when misunderstandings interfere with the faith you have in others.

Need a goddess: What are you waiting for? Post a comment detailing your need. I'll see what I can do. It's free people! Free!
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Books to Give and Get

Cover of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See,...Cover via AmazonWhile the good people of the world may be finishing up their holiday buying and wrapping presents about now, some of us are just getting started. Here are my favorite books of the last year in the hopes that someone you know might like them too, for, as per my last post, if we work together we can handle this season with a minimum of chaos and a maximum of butter and wine (not necessarily in that pairing).

1. Drift by Victoria Patterson. Described as a modern-day Edith Wharton, Patterson is a writer to watch. The short stories in this debut collection are so gorgeously written and the characters are so real and flawlessly constructed that, being me, I ended up feeling sorry for myself because I knew that, in my wildest dreams, I would never be able to write anything this good. Intense and dark, you'll feel yourself pulled into the undertow, but you'll be glad you let yourself go. Apparently she has a novel coming out in March. I might have to hate her.

2. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Normally, I would not have gotten near these young adult novels about a dystopia where teens are forced to fight to the death. But my daughter made me read them, and--I'm telling you, people--I haven't had so much fun reading in years. The books are fraught full of danger and excitement, but there is also a sweet, sweet romance featuring a hero that is almost Mr. Darcy good. I loved them.

3. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. Ok. Let me put on my crazy-dog-lady hat. I love anything that helps me understand my dog. Enough said. Written by a New Yorker staff writer who went off and got a PhD in (I think) neuroscience, this book explains why your dog does what she does and why that makes her so lovable.

4. Eat: Los Angeles. I won this--HA--at one of my favorite LA blogs, u want 2 Go-Go, and I have found it so practical and fun for so many food-related things. Best of all, it's arranged geographically so I never need to read about restaurants on the westside of LA if all I really want to know is a good place to eat that's close to home. (Stupid LA Times west-centric Food section.) A 2011 edition is now available.

5. In the Face of Fear: Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Times, edited by Barry Boyce, et all. Having evolved into a woman who lives by the Carrie Fisher mantra, "Cry all you want; you'll pee less," I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff. Featuring essays by the Dalai Lama and other writers inspired by Buddhist wisdom, this is a good book to have by your bedside when you're caught in the whirlpool of chaos and anxiety.
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Goddess of the Week: Gyhldeptis

Formosan Sika Deer, Cervus nippon taioanusImage via WikipediaDo you hear that? That wet sort of sucking sound that is pulling you into the frenzy of the holidays? Are you exhausted already? You need Gyhldeptis.

Gyhldeptis is a forest goddess of the Tlinget and Haida peoples of Western Canada and Southern Alaska. Here's her story:

Once there was this whirlpool that was making everyone insane. It was crazy spinning and whirling all over the place. It was tearing up forests. It was swallowing ships and people. It was a big mess and a big time suck because, obviously, it was messing with traffic, and NO ONE was doing anything about it because everyone was all, "Blah, blah, blah I'm so busy. I'm so tired. I'm so not even believing in the whole "whirlpool" political correctness conspiracy.

So, one day, Gyhldeptis does what any smart goddess would do: she has a party. She invites the ice, the mountains, the trees--all the big players in town--to a feast. She puts out a nice cheese spread, some wine. Butter. And when everyone's all nice and full she says, "Aren't you tired of that whirlpool? Isn't it exhausting just enduring it? Doesn't it mess with your nice mossy hair and your cool glacial smile?"

Everyone had to agree that the whirlpool was a big pain and that it was a total drag wondering if a big old swath of whirly-wet-wind was going to cut out a chunk of freeway thus prolonging your commute.

"Together," said Gyhldeptis, "I bet we could turn that whirlwind into a charming, picturesque stream. A really cute one with, like, salmon and frolicking deer."

And so they did!

Gyldeptis reminds us that whatever whirlwind threatens to unwound us, with the right support, we can turn it into a flowing stream. Icy and cold perhaps it will remain, but less overwhelming, less chaotic. And, this time of year in particular, what we really need is support, not chaos. So relax. Think: Flowing stream. Frolicking Deer. End of chaos.

Channel this goddess: When you are at the mall and you can't find parking, when you are cooking for 12 and you have no wine, when everybody wants to whirlwind you. Remember: Flowing stream. Frolicking deer. End of chaos.

Need a goddess: The queue is wide open! Make your holiday request today! It's free! And you need a goddess. Trust me. You do.
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