It's hard. At times it feels near impossible. The doubts, the questions, the loneliness... Come to think of it this sounds an awful lot like parenting outside the mainstream, or even in general. So shouldn't we be accustomed to this? Shouldn't this be an easy thing to slip into? Not quite. As Mormon women we are use to community within our faith. We are use to having like-minded people all around us, to having some place to turn (physically and otherwise), to having our beliefs and practices accepted and understood by the masses more or less and even spoken about on TV 4 days out of the year. But now? Now that we have added, shifted, become something else? Now what?
I think the doubt is what plagues me the most. I look around me and I don't see very many people at all combining these beliefs and practices with their Mormondom. A handful, tops. And it worries me. "What if I'm all wrong? What if this is bad?" as if more people being involved would make it all the more legitimate. But it wouldn't, so why am I doing this to myself? Plain and simple- it's change. In change we grasp at anything to make it familiar. Community, as Mormons, would offer just that.
But this isn't a post about the need for community or a call to gather more fully together. Believe it or not this is a post about making it on one's own. Because at the end of the day who do we answer to but ourselves and God? We're the odd ducks, the "different", the "others". The key to walking the blended path is to embrace that. To own it. To love it. Not to say we shouldn't ever have community but just that we can't look to others to validate our ways.
But how can we manage this?
Dig deep. Get to know (and love) yourself. Enjoy your own company. Build confidence.
We are blessed in this day and age and from where we stand now, open to so much more, to have the tools necessary to do all of the above right within our reach. Meditate. Chant. Dance. Sing. Gaze into your own eyes infront of a mirror. All of these are simple rituals that could be made more elaborate if you wish or just treated as a 5 minute addition to your day but powerful rituals that bring you into yourself, that bring you home.
Something clicked in me a little bit ago that knocked me into self-acceptance. It has been a long time coming- lots of work to not working on it at all to even marinating in my own self-loathing for who I am. I fully admit I didn't come to this on my own. There are wonderful people in this world with a gift for helping you to reach down into your soul and pull yourself to your feet and one of those people is Francesca DeGrandis. I first heard about her when I saw her book Goddess Initiation at my local Waldon's bookstore. That was near 10 years ago (my goodness, I feel old!) and since then I have used the tools she had given me in both GI and Be A Goddess through many spiritual journeys. From being Wiccan to Dianic to a devout Mormon to a crisses of faith to where I stand now. I realized the other day why that is- because Francesca is all about the blended path. She doesn't say it outright, she doesn't offer a how-to on walking the blended path specifically, she merely challenges us and teaches us to be us. Live fully as who we are and that has stuck with me.
In her latest book Share My Insanity (which I highly recommend for anyone who is an "oddity") she opens with this:
"Just trust your own definition of innovative. Originality can be an inclusive—not exclusive—concept. For example, your uniqueness might express itself in the way you manage the family’s household budget, get the kids to school on time, and raise happy children. “Us plain folk” have plenty of our own special ways."(emphasis added by me)
My point is that though we have to learn to stand on our own this still does not happen in a vacuum. Open your eyes, ears, and heart to the experiences and advice of others. Take what you can use and leave the rest and make sure to be aware of what it is you can use, what does work for you. Trust yourself, your own understanding of things. Don't place that same trust in others because, in truth, they don't know what it is you need. But don't shun them, either. There is a balance that has to be struck but it's in that balance that the real magic happens- when the light goes on and we begin to grow into ourselves, fully.
All of this rambling to set out a personal "how-to" on walking the blended path. Or, more accurately, what I have found to work for me...
Understand that you are alone yet joined by many in that.
Be humble enough to learn from others.
Be confident enough to learn from yourself.
Realize the paradoxes all around you and let them work with and within you.
Embrace your "crazy".
These aren't my rules as much as they are things I remind myself of as often as possible. And it works wonders, if you can believe it.