Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in the DiLuzio Home

I find myself at the close of yet another year gone by too quickly. So many schedules to keep track of, appointments to make, places to go. It seems that the rat race never ends. It's like that everywhere, and our home is no exception. So, let's catch up with the family and see what we've been doing for 2012.

Jim, the resident King of the Castle with me as his Queen, continues his work at HP. There are always several projects going to keep him busy, but that's a good thing. Big business, of course, still makes me shake my head, but we are ever so blessed that he is employed and gets to work from home. At home, he is the most awesome dad, with the kids enjoying their nightly "torture" of being tickled until they have completely collapsed on the floor and lack the ability to stand just prior to heading to bed.

Shiori is now a junior in high school. (WHO allowed that one?) She has also started driving and loves her little red mini Cooper convertible. She continues on with her passion for cooking and baking and all things culinary. She is looking forward to 2013 when her Spring semester will include Advanced Food Prep classes and her probationary period of always needing to drive with an adult in the car will end. Shiori is becoming quite the beautiful young woman and all of her siblings look up to her.

Sabrina, now 9, is in the fourth grade at a newly built school. She is thoroughly enjoying her time there and the new friends she is making as kids from a few different schools have now been re-districted to come to the new school. In the spring she played softball, and I'm pretty sure she is looking forward to that again this coming spring 2013. Sabrina takes every opportunity to try to emulate her older sister, Shiori, when she can.

Sophia, now 7, is currently in second grade and loving school-life at Delaware School for the Deaf. This school year marks her fourth year at our state's deaf school. The class sizes are much smaller than other public, or even private, schools and this allows for greater attention and focus. Her reading skills are crazy. At the beginning of the year she had a sight-word vocabulary comprehension at a sixth grade-level and she currently reads on a third grade level. She excels in many areas and wants to be a scientist when she grows up. She also played softball this year on the same team as her sister and looks forward to Spring 2013. Sophia is quite the unique individual with her own sense of timing and humor.

Xander, also 7, began first grade this Fall as his birthday falls later in the year. He is excelling in school, is incredibly smart and challenges his teachers (in a good way). He continues his love of soccer and has moved up to the older league where they actually now keep score. He is quite comical and keeps us all laughing. Soccer for him comes twice a year in Spring and Fall. Xander truly enjoys being the oldest of the three boys and having two younger brothers to look up to him.

Calvin, just now 6 as of December, is currently in Kindergarten, also at a newly built school. He is loving school, is very respectful and is currently ahead of reading goals. His teacher informs us that he is very bright and works very hard. I can honestly say I was concerned just because he can be a rough and tumble kind of kid and incredibly stubborn, but his teacher has said he is nothing short of an absolute delight to have in class. In fact, he is apparently quite the comic relief, but does his work when assigned.

Anthony, who turned 2 this year, amazed us all. Prior to turning two years old, he decided to potty-train himself completely and all at once. His was definitely the easiest, and most-enjoyable potty-training experience of all. If only all children were that easy and determined. Anthony continues to grow in leaps and bounds and, while he relishes his time at home with his mama, gets excited just thinking about going to school like his siblings. He wants so very much to do the same things that they are doing. Being the youngest of six has its advantages as Anthony has learned so much from his older siblings.

As for me, I am still loving my role as a stay-at-home mom. Some days are hectic, others relaxed. It's never dull though. I started writing for the Pagan Children's e-zine, The Pooka Pages. I consider it a great honor to have been asked to contribute. I continue broadcasting on Cauldron FM, and love my two shows. I get much enjoyment from both and relish in the fact that both of my radio shows are quite different from each other. While one allows me to take on my role as teacher, the other gets to bring out my more opinionated side. In August, I performed my first wedding as a legally ordained minister. Becoming ordained was something I was called to back when I was a child, just as the Pagan path and the Goddess had called to me back then. I take my role as a clergy-woman seriously and push myself to never stop learning, reading, and applying knowledge. Within this role, I have also felt the call to become a Sacred Pregnancy Instructor. This will allow me to continue my ministry and to attend to women and their babies in a different way in which I can walk them through a course during their pregnancy that centers around them and the sacred nature of their pregnancy. My initial training course is coming up in February and I am incredibly excited for this opportunity.

As a family, we have a love of going to the bowling alley. Three of the children have their own bowling balls, and even little Anthony finds it to be great fun. The library, especially in the Summer, is another enjoyable adventure for us. the kids love the Summer Reading Program and challenge themselves to read as much as humanly possible.

We are looking forward to 2013. There is no looking back, right? So, onward we go. Despite any troubles or stumbling blocks from 2012, we are all here in one piece and standing strong. We wish all of you a most wonderful and prosperous New Year.

BRING ON 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

For the Love of an Ocarina (or Music to Stir the Soul)

No, this won't be a huge post. I won't be proliferating about this or that. Honestly, I'm trying to ease myself back into being accustomed to writing just for the sake of writing, not necessarily for anyone, cause, or thing. I write. I love to write. I always have. It moves my soul. It will always be a part of me.

There are many things that can move a soul, cause someone to spring to action, or just help them acknowledge the Divine that lives within us and all things. Recently a friend introduced me to the ocarina. An ocarina, for those that do not know, is a wind instrument. It reminds me of wooden flutes and pan pipes; it definitely has the allure of those too. I fell in love the minute I heard the ocarina play. My friend gave me a link to someone playing "Over Misty Mountains Cold" (from The Hobbit) on an ocarina; on several different ones, actually, and the guitar. The sound was so gorgeous, so moving, so soul stirring. Now, ages ago, I took flute lessons (another wind instrument) and succeeded in coming to the realization that it wasn't for me (You can read that as I sucked at it and thusly it was a "fail" experience.), and gave it up. My younger sister is the most amazing flute and piccolo player though. :)

Something about the ocarina (and oy are there many varieties to choose from) called me back to give another go at a wind instrument. Now, I had never thought I would have one in my hands so quickly. It came to me talking to my husband one night and we were looking at different ones. He began to wonder how easily the instrument could be played. Mind you, this is the guy who can play 5 instruments or so. Personally, I thought he was taking an interest. Little did I know, he turned right around and ordered one for me until I opened it last night during our Yule celebrations.

Immediately I tried to figure it out. In fact, I spent two hours after I put the kids to bed just playing. I completely love this instrument. It speaks to my soul and the sound is incredible. I have fund all sorts of songs I am intent on learning, as well as several songs that I am working on mastering. Yes, I said mastering. I don't want to sound like a third grader attempting to play "Hot Cross Buns" on a recorder with a bunch of other third graders at a school concert while the parents all seem to listen intently while inside their minds are screaming "Will this ever end? Please stop the torture!" I don't want to just "muddle through," but, rather, I want to master it as best as I can, so the music is fluid and I am easily moving from note to note.

For me, there is something soul-soothing about the ocarina. It lifts my spirits, speaks to my soul, and moves me. Music can be like that for me, in general, but never have I found it in the love of an instrument. Now I have.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend Reflections

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,'s all over and unavoidable; the news, Facebook, the radio, blog posts such as this, Twitter, everywhere. Frankly, unless you are unplugged and out of touch with humanity and the world, then chances are you know what happened. Twenty-six lives lost, of those were 20 very innocent little children. No, I do not recognize the mother of the shooter, or the shooter, as being included in those lives lost because I feel they do not need the recognition. I am talking about the children and the staff at Sandy Hook whose only crime was going to school that day. And every one of those 26 deserve to be here today.

This is something that has rocked not just the nation, but the world. I am a mother of six children, 4 of which would have attended that school had that been the area we lived in. For me, a tragedy like this cuts deep, deep into my soul. Newtown, CT needs to heal, as well as the Nation, and so does the world. Apart from Westboro Baptist Church, I have yet to hear a person say that any of those 26 deserved it. No. They did not. However, it happened. Newtown, CT may as well have been Anytown, USA because it COULD have happened anywhere.

Now you hear the people screaming -- NO MORE GUNS! STRICTER GUN LAWS! MORE GUN CONTROL! Well, I'm going to say this plain and simple for all THIS IS NOT A GUN CONTROL ISSUE!!!!! When do we realize that it's not about the guns? If it wasn't a gun, it would have been a knife, an explosive device, or any number of things that can be used to inflict injury and death. Guns aren't killing people. People are killing people, and that's the whole of it. People have been killing people for ages. It isn't anything new. Take away the guns, and those who wish to kill just find another means. Stop blaming guns. Stop blaming inanimate objects for that matter.

There are those that are pointing the finger at the Autism Community with wild-haired beliefs that autism causes mass murderers. Ummm, really? I think not. And if they don't blame autism, people will point the finger at bi-polar, schizophrenia, or any number of other issues. Stop pointing fingers. Go get yourself educated and get off the blame wagon. People live and function with these things everyday.

Frankly, I'm waiting for the conspiracy theories to start. You know, the ones that will spread with rumors that the murderer was a product of government brain-washing. The rumors that will say he was trained to do this just so the government could come sweeping in and impose all sorts of anti-gun laws on a nation whose Second Amendment Rights include the Right to Bear Arms. To those people I say, GET A GRIP ON REALITY. You need to stop before you ever even think of going there. How is it I can say that someone out there has a conspiracy theory like this? That's easy. There are always those who talk crazy conspiracy theories. Please come back to reality or crawl back under the rock you crawled out from; not everyone is out to get you.

All of these things instill fear. Instead of talking about the killer, instead of pointing the finger at any number of things, and instead of allowing the media to keep projecting all of these negative messages into the public (makes for such great news, doesn't it?), change the conversation. Yes, I said change the conversation. Talk about true issues that matter. Let's get into a discussion on mental health and how we can help. Let's stop the stigma that "chemical imbalances" aren't the norm. Hey, buddy, what's normal for you isn't necessarily normal for the next guy. Stop making them feel like less of a person. If your child has ADD, ADHD, Autism, Bi-Polar, ODD, and the list goes on, get them the help they need and get yourself some support. This is not the time to feel embarrassed or ashamed. If you are too concerned about how those things reflect on you as a parent, then you have more problems than your own kid because that means you're spending too much time worrying about how YOU LOOK and no where near enough time investing in your child to make sure that he or she becomes the best person that he or she can become; something as a parent you should be doing for ANY and ALL of your children. So, get help. Get yourself help. Find not only a way to support your child, but a support system for yourself. Children, all children, don't come without challenges of one sort or another. Just because the "challenge" presented to you wasn't what you wanted doesn't give you a right to be hush hush about it. It has been proven time and time again that ignoring something does not make it go away. In many instances, it can further exacerbate the problem.

Now to get off my soapbox here, I will end with this. Twenty-six human being lost their lives, and many more than that have lost their innocence due to the actions of someone who needed help and wasn't given that help. TWENTY-SIX. Now is not the time to act out in violence, or in anger. It is time to stop looking at our differences. Now is the time to gather your prayers, blessings, energies and candles. This is a time to remember the innocent lives that were lost and pray for them, for their families, and for healing. However you pray, whomever you pray to, now is the time to set aside our religious differences and lend our energies to these families. Forget the person who caused these people's lives to end earlier than they should have, but, rather, remember those who died. If you do nothing else, remember just one name of those twenty-six. 

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Rachel Davino, 29, Teacher
Dawn Hochsprung, 47, School principal
Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Teacher
Lauren Rousseau, 30, Teacher
Mary Sherlach, 56, School Psychologist
Victoria Soto, 27, Teacher

Lift them up, that the memory of them carries on. Peace & Blessings to all.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Hamsa: Symbology, Roots & My Personal Views

Nearly 30 years ago, as a little girl visiting Epcot and going around to the varying countries within the park, I gained a love of the Hamsa instantly upon seeing it. Thirty years later I still can't explain exactly where the draw comes from, but it draws me in. It always has, and very well, may always draw me in. The intricacies of this symbol are lovely to behold. I have seen varying designs over the years, and I find them fascinating. They still hand out a plastic Hamsa there at Morocco inside Epcot. Every time I have visited, I have always collected one. They usually end up in my personal items and such. Up until I decided to leave my job of 11 years, I had one up at my desk within the confines of the area that I had other sacred items. I would venture to say it is one of my favorite symbols. 

So where did the Hamsa come from, who (as in religion) does it belong to, and what does it mean exactly? Off I went to go find that out for myself. Why? Because I love history, culture and research. In addition, I wanted to know why I love this symbol so much so that anytime I see it somewhere I pause and gaze, taking in all of the details. The Hamsa, or Hamsa hand as some call it, has a few spellings - Hamsa, Hamesh, Chamsa & Khamsa. It is a Middle Eastern amulet that can be seen upward or downward facing. It symbolizes the Hand of God, and, regardless of the faith that uses it, is considered a protective sign bringing it's owner happiness, luck, health, and good fortune. For me personally, looking at the Hamsa brings about a conscious level of the ever-present Divine. What each person calls the Divine is up to them, as well as, the confines of the religion utilizing it. It is said to be protective and ward off the evil eye. With the powerful nature of this symbol, I can see that interpretation. While I have only seen the one rendition of it, there are two shape variations of Hamsa; one being the hand with two symmetrical thumbs pointing outwards (that's the one I am familiar with), and the other being shaped like an actual hand and not at all symmetrical.

Looking a bit deeper into the Hamsa, beyond knowing that it is an ancient Middle Eastern symbol, you find that it is utilized mainly in Islam and Judaism and has been for centuries. So what, as a Pagan, does this mean for me? Or, why would a Pagan be so drawn to a symbol used in Islam and Judaism? For me, personally, just because there is a symbol primarily used in another faith or faiths, it does not deter me, nor do I allow it to be the deciding factor from utilizing it within my own spiritual practices. I am of the mindset that if a symbol draws you in, there is a reason. As it turns out, it has been found that the Hamsa pre-dates those 2 religions and goes back even further to the Phoenicians where it was used as a protective symbol for an ancient Middle Eastern Goddess. That one simple fact speaks to me in volumes and resounds within me. I often talk of interconnectedness amongst religions, that while our paths may differ, there is much that is the same or of equal magnitude. The Hamsa is proof of exactly that!

It has been said that it has always been associated with a female energy or entity. In Islam this can be seen as The Hand of Fatima who is the daughter of Mohammed the Prophet. In Judaism, it is the same, but symbolizes the Hand of Miriam who is the sister of Moses and of Aaron. Ancient Pagan Goddess, Miriam & Fatima from three distinctly different religions, and yet, here the religions are connected together within the framework of this symbol. 

Now, it can't just be that simple to me. It never is. So I looked further. My favorite number, my lucky number, has always been the number 5. I was born of the 5th of the tenth month. In numerology, my husband's number equals out to be a 5, and the son we have together was born on the 10th day of the 5th month. Also, of my six children, I have given physical birth to five of them. The number 5 has cropped up a bunch over my 37 years. I come to find out that Hamsa means five. That makes sense to me as there are five digits, or fingers, on the Hamsa. The Hebrew word for five is Hamesh, which, as I stated above, is another name for the Hamsa. There are further references to the number five regarding the Hamsa. Five is significant of the 5 books of the Torah. In Judaism, one of God's holy names is Heh, which also happens to be the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Within Islam, the symbology is representative of the Five Pillars of Islam and also the Five People of the Cloak for Shi'ites. I found that the connections regarding the number five in my own personal life and how Islam and Judaism connect in with the number five to be interesting ones. 

The more I research into the Hamsa, the deeper I can connect in with myself. While some of the answers in my research so far have been answered, for me I feel that Is just a topical connection. I look forward to continuing to explore the Hamsa, its meanings, and the direct effect this symbol and its meanings play in my life. I am very well rooted in my religion. I love my path and I love where it leads it. That being said, I am still a Seeker of sorts. I seek knowledge and understanding. I have a natural craving to learn and gain as much knowledge as I can. While it is true that I am a language aficionado, I love to learn about other religions. With the information I have uncovered thus far regarding the Hamsa, its roots, its meaning, and the fact that I am drawn to it in such a deeply spiritual way, I have no doubt that I will be exploring further by delving into Judaism and Islam; not as a means of converting to with religion, but more as a means to better understanding religious interconnectedness. I truly believe that if we are to grow and carry forward as a people, we need to learn to better understand one another, not only as human beings with distinct cultural differences, but also on a spiritual level. We need to find within each other our spiritual interconnectedness so that we may have greater respect and understanding for each other. Is it possible that this is one of the truths that the Hamsa holds for me to be able to unfold? It is possible and only time will tell. There is an immense soul-stirring feeling of the Divine and intense calm whenever I see the Hamsa. It is a feeling that will not fade, is not a fad. Being that some within Islam and Judaism wear the Hamsa as a symbol of hope and of peace in Israel and other areas of the Middle East, it is then understandable how those feelings can be stirred within my own self when I see this symbol. So I will continue to seek, research and gain new insight into the Hamsa. I don't know where it will lead me, but I know I'll enjoy the journey.

~Bridget DiLuzio, HPs