[New Year, New You] Some Enchanted Evening

So. The last few weeks have been difficult. Which is putting it mildly. I learned things about people that I never knew and it not only rocked my world, but it has brought down a company, and affected many, many other people in the process. Lines have been drawn, so many people came forward with stories of their own, and somewhere in it, I found the courage to write my own story and share it with a community that is dear to my heart.

Since then, I’ve been in the process of re-examining my life over the past decade or so, as a result. I put a full stop on all kink I was involved in, from established relationship dynamics all the way to potential new play partners. It fucked with my head that someone I thought I knew and whom had helped build my foundation in kink had manipulated and groomed and abused so many people, including people who were underage. So I talked to everyone I was in a relationship or playing with, even casually, and those I was negotiating with and stopped all kink.

Statuses were changed on Fet. Routines were changed. Plans were cancelled. It felt hella awkward at times, and painful. It also showed me how much kink in simply part of my life in intrinsic ways that I hadn’t realized before. I put a fuckton of casual kink (especially pain play) into sensual and sexual experiences with others. There are some other discoveries and epiphanies I’ve been working on during this process and I’m grateful that the people in my life currently all took it gracefully and supportively. I’ve needed some time to reflect, to question, to rebuild. I’m likely going to need more time, but I can feel myself slowly come out of it with some newer realizations. For instance, I actually had begun to rebuild slowly a few years ago. As I learned more about informed and ongoing consent, I knew better so I could do better. There’s never going to be a point where I’m done learning and that’s actually an oddly comforting feeling. I always want to strive to be better and do better.

All of this, and watching the explosions unfold, and the rebuilding that I see others doing and I’ve done, and the healing, and the struggle to make sense of it all, and to get answers…has all taken a lot of time and energy. I don’t just mean my own; so many people have been affected by this and each of us has our own story. For my part, here especially, it’s a means of explaining to myself and anyone else reading this why I haven’t kept up with the New Year, New You prompts.

That all being said, I am back, bitches!

It’s incredibly fitting that I came back to it on the week after Deb had said we should do something nice for ourselves (I did and wound up writing it before everything exploded and scheduling it to appear smack dab in the middle of all the shit. I had forgotten abou tit until I started receiving notifications that a few people liked the post. The internet can be a strange place, sometimes.)

But now it’s all “back to work, bus slave.”

So! Back to work. When last we left off, I had yet to detail how I was going to make my goals come to fruition.

UUUUGGHHHHHHH.

Okay, here we go.

Here’s what I wrote on week two as my goals for this year and following I’ll add what I’m going to be doing to help myself work towards each goal in specific detail. (The kink category is coming off the table for the moment.)

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
      Spirituality
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink (for now, not a priority)
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more waterAuthentic relationships
      • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
      • moving away from those who aren’t
      • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
      • making myself vulnerable
      • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
      • personal responsibility
      • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So my best ideas as that some changes need to made. I will therefore dedicate time in the following manner:

  • an hour after work for practicing uke, cleaning something (closet, costumes, laundry, purging things to give away/sell/dontate), and to read and unwind. 20 minutes for each category, which hits on uke practicing, mental health, and cleaning
  • getting up a half hour early to have time to meditate
  • walking around the stores I’m in for at least 20 minutes each day
  • writing – keeping up with the writing prompts again and continuing with the Cannonball Read challenge. Also figure out time where I can write things outside the New Year, New You challenge.
  • keep striving to be honest and open in my communications and allow space for others to be, too
  • also continue to examine things and make apologies and amends as I’m able to
  • work on video on one of my days off. February video will be up by 2/28.
  • announce creative project I had that will also help me connect with people. I will announce that by 3/15.
  • continue to work on finding time to rehearse with band. (Oh, because holy shit, on things that happened in the past few weeks is I started a band with two other awesome people. More on that later after we get a few more rehearsals under our belt.)
  • planning one full ritual for myself each month

It’s not hyper detailed, but it’s better than I had going into this writing and I will start implementing it tonight. Here’s to getting back to work.

Also, in terms of songs, it’s “Doing the Unstuck” by The Cure. All day, every day right now:

“But it’s much too late” you say
“For doing this now
We should have done it then”
Well it just goes to show
How wrong you can be
And how you really should know
That it’s never too late
To get up and go…

Time to get up and go, damnit.

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[New Year, New You] Week 4 – Relax, Don’t Do It

Ironically, I’m a week behind…on the post that’s supposed to be about pampering yourself. *headdesk*

The plus side is that I did it. I actually did it a few times last week. I just didn’t have the time or energy to write about it. This past weekend drained the ever loving hell out of me and I wound up hermitting after work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights and not touching my computer. Or my uke. Or anything remotely productive. I skipped out on a party I really wanted to go to, and crawled into bed by or before 11pm every weekend night this past weekend. Dear *insert dieties here*, I felt old.

Then I reread Deb’s original post for this week’s writing prompt, and she said to do something nice for yourself. 

To which I realized by calling out of party that I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for, by going to bed early, by hermitting and being gentle with myself when I was drained, I was doing nice things for myself.

Now, I also did totally do a few more pampery-type things this past week: slept late on my two days off during the week. Bought a shoprite mocha cake and made it last a week, and ate a piece while watching two episodes of The Crown.

All that being said, I’ve realized after yesterday, that that was my true pampering day. I went to therapy, then decided to walk into town on what was a beautiful day to me. Overcast and very slightly chilly, but not face-freezingly cold like it’s been. It felt good to walk around and I wound up in one of my favorite bookstores ever and just…let myself be. Wander. Browse various sections, read a few pages, take pics of books that I wanted to remember and possibly read later. Sit. Breathe in the dusty smell of new and used books, old, creaky wooden floors. I posted this pic on Fetlife because it tickled me so:

20180122_134120

I love the hand-written signs, but also that the horror section was right up against the Erotic Fiction. Best bookstore ever.

It was a lovely afternoon. I let myself wander without looking at the time. I had band practice in the evening, but I could feel that I wasn’t getting too close to that time, so I just…let myself be in the moment and enjoy it. I didn’t feel pressured to buy anything. I couldn’t afford it…but I also wasn’t sad that I couldn’t afford anything. Being there was enough. It felt really fucking good.

Once I was done because I felt done, not because I had to be somewhere, I left and got one of my favoritest foods for dinner (delicious, delicious Chinese food) and then proceeded onward to wait for band practice to start. All in all, it was a lovely day that I’m glad I gave myself. It restored my brain balance and reset my mood from feeling bad for missing things and feeling kinda old to rejuvenated and fully present in myself.

The song that was recommended for this post was bitter:suite’s “Dirty Laundry”. I’ve been making a habit of listening to the recommended song, and I liked this one. But I’m also finding what song currently resonates for me for where I am and the theme/task of the weekly writing prompt. This week, it turned out to be “Driving Alone” by Sarah Bettens:

I’ll go / Wherever I need to go / I’ll know / When I start to lose control

It’s fitting for a lot of things in my life, right now. There’re many changes and decisions I have to make and I’m doing my best to walk my own path and be true to myself. And now I have to put on my adult panties, catch up totally with the prompts and write out how I plan to achieve my goals, do more cleaning and more work, and face next week’s writing prompt, which I have a feeling will be a doozy, as it opens with “Back to work, bus slave”…

Pack your bags; we’re going on a journey of sensual/sexual evolution!

In the beginner, I was a LESBIAN. I knew in my early teens but it took me a few more years to say anything to anyone. When I came out to my mom around 17 or so, her back-handed supportive response was “let me know when you figure out you’re bi.” Which pissed me off to nearly no end (I’m mostly over it. Mostly.) when somewhere along the way, right around the time I met my now ex-husband, I realized bisexual fit better. Grrrrrrrr.

From there, in my twenties, it got more complicated as I came to understand that gender wasn’t a binary, and even further, that I was attracted to people and their gender didn’t have much to do with it. I pushed my own gender exploration aside due to shame and fear, focusing instead on my poly, kink, and sexual evolution. Pansexual mostly fit for that, though I was never too comfortable with the “sexual” part. Then, in my mid/late thirties, I learned about demisexuality and the asexual spectrum. As I learned about that, the umbrella of gray asexuality was the closest I’ve come to a term that fit me. So I’ve settled on queer, gray ace. Because it’s fluid and not a fixed point. And “gray ace” is easier than than trying to explain a sexuality contains all this:

  • I have no interest in sex unless there’s some form of D/s, power exchange, energy exchange, or kink involved. It can be light power dynamics, it can be emotional sadism or masochism, it can be full on CNC (my fav), it can be tantra or some other type of energetic exchange, but there has to be some form of connection involved that isn’t just physical. Vanilla sex has absolutely no appeal to me.
  • Sex, in general, is not necessary nor is it preferred most of the time for me in kink. I do get turned on sometimes via kink, but most times, I don’t. It’s also highly specific to the activity and the partner(s). It’s been over 10 years since a rose flogging, in an of itself, has resulted in anything sexual for me or happening with the person I’m doing it on at the time.
  • Which leads to sensual kink. For me, kink is generally sensual as all hell. But it doesn’t usually “turn me on”.
  • It’s taken a longass time to discover that I can (and really like to) make out and do pick up play outside of a Relationship, but beyond making out, most times, I’m not interested in sexual things happening.
  • When I say “sexual things” I mean anything that directly stimulate the genitals or results in an orgasm. Vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, manual sex, sex with toys. All sex, to me. I know a few people who don’t think anything beyond PIV or PIA is sex, but that’s not the way I roll.
  • It’s also taken me a similarly longass time to begin to accept that I can actually have casual sex with people I’m not in a Relationship with. When I was identifying as a demisexual, I thought it was impossible. I now know it’s not just possible, it’s happened and I liked it. It’s not been frequent, by any stretch, but it has happened. It just depends on the situation, the person, the interests, the connection, the circumstances, and how we feel about it.), However, I need to have at least a basis of friendship.
  • Still don’t think I can do a one night stand with someone I don’t know. However, for the times I’ve been able to have sex when not in a Relationship, there has been some element of D/s or energy or power exchange involved, even just a little. Or it eventually went there. I once was in a situation where there was some energy stuff happening and making out with someone who is very big on active and ongoing consent/check-ins (and knows how to make them really sexy, too, which is skillz I wholeheartedly aspire to, let me tell ya) and at one check-in, I said that I was feeling all “yes”…but then it felt immediately not fully true. It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling “yes”…I was (so. much. yes.)….so I explained that I also felt very much “I want to say ‘no’….to mean ‘yes'”. Which was more complicated and not something we had talked about, so we didn’t go there that time. We may or may not ever go there, and that’s okay. But I feel that CNC feeling a lot. 97% of my fantasies revolve around some form of CNC and/or cuckqueanery.
  • I just almost never feel like I solely want to fuck…or have sex and orgasm with another person as a…goal. I most often crave cuddling, making out, sensual touching, power and energy exchange, pain, exploring bodies and having mine explored…like, seriously, the inside of the elbows and hollow of the back and the inner thigh and the ankle….they’re so under-explored. I like touching, licking, nibbling, biting, caressing. There’s just so much to explore and I sometimes find myself getting lost or sad when I’ve gotten comfortable making out and it turns into NEW GOAL IS SEX. ORGASM.
  • For me, sex isn’t it’s own…impetus. Or goal, really. I do not have a primary sex drive.  I barely have a secondary sex drive. I totally have a primary kink drive. I almost never have any interest in coming unless someone wants me to. That being said, I very much like being of sexual service to people I connect to in that way.
  • I need filthy, dirty, vicious words whispered threateningly in my ear, a hand on my throat, teeth on my earlobe, tongue flickering inside my wrist…I need there to be pauses, silence, someone just out of sight, not knowing what they’re doing, a blindfold so I can’t see, force, direction. Please, make me serve you…it can be done with a calm directive or a brutal order; I don’t care. What do YOU want to take, goddamnit? Tell me. Claim it.

Sorry, where was I? My brain went a for a little gutter field trip, there…

Anyway, some of the most memorable times for me in regards to actual sexual arousal are things like having my palm stroked in such a way that I almost came…and had to stop because it was against my set of rules at the time. Seriously. Just MY PALM being stroked. Or finally being able to relax into myself and have an orgasm after struggling for so long to come…by being told it wasn’t for me. It was for the person I was with a the time. Or “preparing” a partner (fluffer, aisle one) to fuck another partner and being denied sex myself. Or a hug that morphed into a hand on my throat which led to me against a wall in a very intense kiss. Or a really long breath play scene that could’ve, to the untrained or unkinky eye, been call oral sex but technically had very little to do with sex, didn’t result in an orgasm for either of us, and had everything to do with power. Power claimed and taken, power surrendered willingly.

This ongoing evolution has been confusing as hell for me sometimes. The good thing is I finally feel like I’m finally wholly comfortable with the labels I’ve chosen without them feeling restrictive. They can help explain things and I have room to interpret, move fluidly go with how I feel in each interaction. I can articulate what I do and don’t want to people. Friends who might be play partners, friends who are already play partners, new people I meet who might be friends and/or play partners. Any of the above who might be a mentor.

Case in point: one of my partners asked me why I wasn’t pursuing someone I had recently met. The case was made that this person was my type, interested in similar things, and, as far as what little my partner knew about them, available. Problem was, I had no interest. I got no kinky vibe, no power exchange vibe, didn’t think they were poly. Turns out, after a general convo about online dating, I was right.

I’ve also come to realize that I don’t really have much interest in dating, so I literally just disabled my OKC account today. I’m not looking for any new poly partners, as I try to navigate life and a lot of changes and more to come. The only new things I’m open to right now are friends, mentors, and play partners, so I updated my Fet profile, too. I’ve been able to tell people that I’m a gray ace. It’s been scary, because I’m afraid they’ll walk, but if they do, I have to remember that it’s not a condemnation of me; it’s that our needs/desires don’t match up. And that’s just life.

So this is where I’m at in January of 2018…continually seeking, evolving, learning, and growing. Thank you for reading and any comments or questions you have. It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you’ve had some part in helping me figure this out, be it posts you’ve shared, convos or experiences we’ve had together, being supportive of me, or just by being part of a community that welcomes this type of growth and sharing. I’m grateful for that.

[CBR10 – Review 2/13] The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

(Cannonball Read book review #2 – original post @ CBR10)

When I first saw this book in Borders, I was intrigued by the cover and when I read about a Mormon gal on her own in the Big Apple, I was even further intrigued. Given that I just name-dropped Borders, that’ll give you an idea of how long ago it was that I picked it up. Pretty sure it was around 2010. But something made me keep it through a move from New Jersey to Mississippi, then back to New Jersey. Then to Memphis. Then BACK to New Jersey a second time. Finally, after seven years, I started reading it in December of 2017 and finished it last week.

One thing I appreciated about the format was that while each chapter was a part of a chronological progression in the author Elna Baker’s life, they were also bite-sized. I could finish one chapter while waiting for an appointment, in the bathroom (it can be really hard to find books that are good for bathroom reading), or before bed.

As for the subject matter of the book, it was an interesting read for me because it was so far outside of my realm of experience. I’m a solo eclectic Pagan and the closest I’ve come to Mormon culture is seeing The Book of Mormon on tour in Memphis, knowing that some of favorite dancers/choreographers are Mormon, and when I was really young and just discovering polyamory, my then boyfriend and new girlfriend came out to our best friend by saying that we were “Mormon”, referencing the churches known stance on having multiple wives. So…not the most well-rounded understanding of the religion.

Baker’s voice drew me into her narrative and I learned a lot reading this book. I didn’t know about the “Magic Underwear” (Temple Garments, or special underwear that male and female Mormons wear as “symbolic and/or literal protection from the evils of the world”), the strong push towards marriage (specifically within the Mormon faith and in a Mormon church) and family being the ultimate goal of life, and I had no idea about the single’s dances (designed to foster the goal of marriage and family). I have had other friend’s who had conflict within their family because they were dating people outside their faith, but none of the actual Mormon faith. I also tend to gravitate towards friends and chosen family who are either in moderate religions, atheist/agnostic, or born-again Pagans like myself who left behind the faith of their youth and, as such, have to deal with varied levels black sheep status in their family. You could say that I’m not exactly a conformist. So this book was very interesting because Elna Baker is very dedicated to being Mormon and upholding her faith as well as she possibly can. And going to school in NYC as she’s coming of age as an adult with her own life definitely challenges that.

Some of the best parts, for me, were realizing that she used to be a plus-sized woman and through the course of the book lost a lot of weight. She talks honestly and hilariously about how she became a bitch and didn’t know until way later that how she lost so much weight successfully might’ve had something to do with prescription speed. Her observations of what the world is like as a plus-sized woman looking for love in all the right places and then what it was like after she lost weight was incredibly interesting. People treated her differently. She experienced female rivalry for a desirable guy in her local Mormon group, or ward.

I admired her spirit when faced with new adventures, from her family moving to different countries when she was younger to getting new jobs and putting herself “out there” (or saying “yes” to things, sometimes in hilariously questionable ways which lead to her inadvertently becoming a “serial convention crasher”.) Or selling high priced baby dolls to snobby, racist people. Or making out with celebrities. Or becoming a stand up comic. Or deciding to have plastic surgery to alter her body after her weight loss.

Elna Baker faced all these new adventures with an interesting mixture of devout and devious, though it was a little odd and hard to believe that someone in their twenties had such a lack of skill and knowledge in something like kissing. She’s frustratingly naive in some ways, but if the reader is frustrated, it’s also because Elna herself is also personally irked by her own lack of experience and knowledge. I had to remind myself that not everyone has sex-positive and educated friends who are sex workers, consent advocates and teachers, sex educators, burlesque performers, swingers, polyamorous people, asexuals. Not everyone worked for and taught at kink conventions like I did. Also, the world and the internet was a different place ten years ago when this book was written. But I admire her strong convictions but her ability to also explore the world and possibly question her faith a time or two, but come back to it even stronger.

The book is also peppered with her charming, hand written lists of what she believes as she goes on this journey, the guys she’s kissed, a fun Venn diagram of how to kiss, and a chart of “Advancements in Cloning vs. Elna’s Sex Life”.

By the end, her adventures have taken her to Zambia in search of the Atheist That Got Away, which was an interesting trip. Overall, the whole book is an interesting trip through one funny, intelligent Mormon woman’s 20’s. I really enjoyed Baker’s account of her life, her experiences, and all those regional Mormon singles dances.

 

[CBR10 – Review 1/13] Giant Days, Vol. 2

(Cannonball Read book review #1 – original post @ CBR10)

Last year, I signed up for Cannonball Read 9. Unlike 2013, where I completed my first (and only, thus far) FULL Cannonball of reading AND reviewing 52 books in one year, last year I was a bit more pragmatic. I went for a quarter Cannonball, or 13 books. Unfortunately, last year turned out to be not so much a “reading year” for me as it was more a “I’m slowly going to get more and more upset with my previous job year and struggle to do the best I can because I adore the job but hate a lot of things that are happening in conjunction with said job” year. Didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for reading and writing. My grand count of books read is 5 and books reviewed was 0.

But. One of the books that I read last year was the first in a series of graphic novels that I found through a friend on Facebook towards the end of last year. The series is called Giant Days and it’s a really refreshing story of three women who become friends in college, the subsequent adventures they go on, and all that good stuff. My local library system carried it and with a few requests from neighboring libraries, I had all five volumes in my hands. Volume 1 was great, but I finished that at the tail end of 2017. Given that I’m at the tail end of my renewals for volume 2, it’s high time I reviewed and returned the book.

So without further ado, Giant Days volume 2 picks up with the three main characters Daisy, Esther, and Susan getting ready for the hall ball. They’re in England, so this turned out to be a college version of a school dance. We go with them shopping, where they wind up at a thrift store in mostly ill-fitting dresses, complaining. Except Esther. As the Goth Gal of the Group, who we later finds out has a brother (sewing machine, a cute little joke that comes up later) who can work miracles with ill-fitting dresses, she seems in her element searching for something to wear in the thrift shop. She settles on a Victorian looking wedding gown.

The next people we see shopping for hall ball clothes are two other students: McGraw, a fairly well put-together love/hate interest for Susan and Ed Gemmell, a basket case of a guy who has a thing for Esther. Once they get measured and all for their suits, we fast forward to the actual hall ball. The illustrations are great for showing a nice variety of people, to give it a cool party vibe, but Daisy, who was home-schooled and fairly sheltered, runs into a woman she had a thing for who rejected her and she spirals into an episode of “I don’t even know what my sexuality is”.

The advice her Susan gives is basically to “kiss both kinds of face. Maybe you’ll enjoy them both equally. That’s fine. Let love rule. It’s the 90’s. Get used to it.”

To which Daisy replies, “it’s the 2010’s, Susan. You’re living in the past. Buy a calendar.”

This kind of banter is one of the things I love about this series. They are snarky, flawed, fun, genuine characters. They’re not drawn to titillate, they’re created to be related to. And they’re great friends to each other, too boot. When Esther starting freaking out that she hadn’t been going to classes for more than a month and exams were coming up, she was all too human in telling her friends part of why she was freaking out:

I may not have taken it seriously. I may have asked many stupid questions I thought were funny. I may be quite the jack-ass.”

And when there’s a giant hill to climb in the snow that keeps besting Susan, she winds up at the bottom on her back in a snow bank saying, “No, I’m fine. I’m my own hero. I’m everything I wished I could be.”

I love this sarcastic, real life storyline. I love that it’s drawn exceptionally well by Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin and the dialogue, by John Allison, is just spot on. And can totally pass a Bechdel test. While they do talk about men, there are many other conversations they have that don’t have anything to do with men. It’s all really relatable. The book covers the hall ball, Susan hooking up with McGraw and hides it from her friends, Daisy awkward kissing Ed to see if she likes Boy Face, and Esther later bonding with Ed, who is trying to hide the fact that he’s in love with her. They then go on to winter break, where a hometown woman that McGraw and Susan grew up with try to kill her for something Susan did before she went away to University, and Daisy and Esther trying to save her, and then back to school where Esther proceeds to freak out about how she hasn’t gone to classes in a few weeks. Maybe months.

One of my favorite scenes was after she had decided to further procrastinate studying revising (cause it’s British) and go to a Goth concert, despite Daisy being awesome and trying to help her revise. After the concert, she’s in full-on desperation mode (and full-on skull makeup), looking for divine intervention of her exams:

“Gentle Jesus, I know I’m dressed as a church burner, but I’m good really. Show me the way.”

She then proceeds to go into a church to ask the Reverend for help, who basically tells her to go to more classes lectures. She winds up falling for the hot student TA invigilator, because she has a thing for “milquetoast handsome” boys, but he winds up being a stuffy ass and she dumps him quite spectacularly during a dinner party hosted by a professor.

By the end of this volume, the women are back in their dorm staging an intervention for Daisy, who got a little too into the TV show set in Texas about high school football called Friday Night Lights and may’ve started talking in a Southern drawl and wearing “sports casual” (when she’s normally just casual). Susan and Esther help her out of it. Which is basically what this series is about. These three friends and the adventures they go on (sometimes mundane, getting waaaaaayyyyy too into a TV show, type adventures) as they grow, figure out who they are, and what they want. I love that they’re pretty strong, badass, relatable characters in a graphic novel, since comics and graphic novels have had some serious issues with using women as sex objects and/or side stories. This series is just a whole lotta fun and I can’t wait to read and review Volume 3.

[New Year, New You] Week 3 – Something You’ve Been Putting Off

DON’T WANNA!!!

That’s the refrain that’s slamming around in my brain and heart lately, for myriad reasons and pertaining to so many things. Chores what need doing, writing what needs to get writ, practice (magickal and musical) to…practice, bills that have to be paid, healthier choices to make, relationship decisions I have to face. You get the idea. Pretty much exactly where so many people find themselves this time of year, two weeks into the New Year that was so full of Possibilities and New Starts only twelve days ago. Or maybe you’re one of those lucky ones who have way more self-discipline and determination and you’re trucking along just fine with your resolutions.

If so, fuck you.

So sorry. My inner teenager stole my keyboard for a moment. The one who wants to sullenly flip off anyone who’s all wholesome, and has good advice (and even WORSE, backs it up with action), and just wants what’s BEST for me.

*Gag*

‘Scuse me. I’m just gonna lock the door to her bedroom and ignore the Smiths blaring at full volume.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to get motivated. Sometimes, your heart is breaking from a relationship issue you’re having and you find yourself sobbing into your keyboard at midnight about to send an email to someone you just shouldn’t instead of doing things you should be doing. Like any of the things I listed above. Or you had a longass day at work, your anxiety was working your last nerve for the latter part of it, and you came home to no one but your cats and all you want to do is watch an episode of The Crown and go the fuck to sleep. I mean, y’know, hypothetically.

Anyway.

I signed up for this damn writing prompt challenge and here the fuck I am.

And I had read ahead, so I knew this was the week dedicated to Something You’ve Been Putting Off. Fan-fugu-tastic. I also knew that in my last post, I had said that in this post I would make more concrete plans for my goals. S.M.A.R.T.en ’em up, if you will.

(For those who don’t know, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound. It’s popped up a couple of times in my life this week. First, at work during training and then earlier today on Fetlife on a post someone made about goals. Those S.M.A.R.T. goals are gonna be part of the NEXT post, though. Yes, I’m putting something off in the Something You’ve Been Putting Off post. You wanna go listen to the Smiths with my inner teenager?)

So I’ve been thinking about those things, along with All The Things I’ve Been Putting Off.

I started listening to the song that was recommended for this week, which was awesome but also bittersweet because it referencing a song that was important to me and my ex-wife, but that’s fine. It’s not like the radio hasn’t been slapping me upside the heart with songs from my past lately or anything.

Moving along, the song she recommended was Regina Spektor’s “On the Radio”. I adore this song. But I’m also gonna offer another song that I found this week that seems pretty darned appropriate:

“Rescue” by Yuna

Yeah, she’s got a light in her face
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.

Which helped me get home from a ten hour day at work tonight, with my feet soaking wet because my fake suede boots aren’t waterproof and mother nature is dealing with some demons up in there and so it was 60 fucking degrees and monsoon-y today, and NOT watch The Crown. Nor have a gin and ginger. I did cry a bit around midnight, but I reached out to my best friend who thankfully leveled my heart with some hard truths I needed to hear.

Around all that, I:

  • brought the laundry up from the dryer
  • checked the basement for signs of water leaking in
  • made mac & cheese from scratch with hidden veggies so it’s marginally healthier, and also comforting and means I had dinner tonight, lunch for tomorrow at work, and some to bring to a friend I might be seeing on Sunday who loves mac & cheese
  • paid the one credit card bill I have
  • paid an overdue toll
  • paid my waaaay overdue and student loans (with about a week to spare before they reported my account as delinquent to credit reporting agencies)
  • pet the cats
  • fixed an extension cord/living room light issue
  • reached out to my sister and a friend I haven’t talked to in a while, just to say hi
  • messaged with another friend who’s having some anxiety issues
  • lit some incense
  • and am writing this post

And at work today, and on the previous days earlier this week I accomplished the following:

  • read a little every night
  • rewrote out the uke tabs/lyrics for a song I’m working on and a new song we’re working on with the band
  • oh, hey…started a band and had first rehearsal and scheduled the next one
  • passed my written and verbal tests for my new job
  • went “live” after passing them
  • threw away two pairs of shoes I’ve been carting around for over a decade (one pair were my Eddie boots from when I used to do Rocky Horror. Hard to let go of but they were literally deformed and cracking and flaking. Plus, I have a pair of Docs now. They’re MUCH better Eddie boots)
  • pulled seven things out of my closet that I’ve been holding onto for years but have never worn and am almost guaranteed to never wear. I mean, there’s one jacket that I might wear when I’m seventy, but fuck if I’m holding onto it that long
  • Started a pile of donate/sell/give away for clothes and costumes
  • went through one bin (of, like, eight) of costumes and burlesque outfits and started streamlining, including making plans to sell a Moresca pirate bodice I bought nearly ten years ago and wore twice
  • started looking at my books, DVDs, other stuff to see what I can get rid of

I’m tired just rereading all this, but I’m also sorta proud of myself. I’m doing things. I’m making shit happen. Slowly, but there’s a lot to sort through to get where I’m going. I’ve built walls and let shit slide for a while and now, the dismantling and cleaning and clearing is going to take some doing.

But I’m finally doing it.

[New Year, New You] Week 2 – Goals (and little victories)

And welcome to my second entry in The New Year, New You Project, an experiment in #MagicalRadicalTransformation (or the longest hashtag ever….no that’s not a challenge. Although now I’m curious…aaaaand now I’m back. Nope. Not even close to the longest hashtag ever.) Did I mention I have a tendency to procrastinate? And that it sometimes gets in the way of my goals? Why, what a timely…time for this experiment to feature a blog post about goals. For those of you who want to see where challenge/experiment came from and missed my first post, check out my dear friend Deb’s original blog post for this week. She’s the creator of this experiment and has done all twenty-three of the writing prompts (with some damn impressive results, I might add) so I’ve decided I got a situation what needs fixing, so this is part of how I’m gonna do it. I’m likely gonna come up with a more succinct and uniform way to explain these and link to her posts but for now, we’re still beginning the beginning, so longhand it is.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012 using both magical and mundane means?  

From here, as she did with the first, she lists some helpful influences: dieties/moon phases/days of the week/inspirational song for your brainmeat. For me, though, I generally let the universal mind guide me. (Well, y’know, once I’ve managed to control  my urge towards procrastination, and kick my own ass out of a depression/anxiety spiral.) But she had to go and mention music. Oh, the music for this one. I read ahead a few days ago to prep for what was coming next and saw the song she suggested. Florence + the Machine’s What the Water Gave Me. Most times, when I’ve read the title and listened to the song, cause I’ve been a fan of Florence + the Machine for years, my associations are mostly with bodies of water. And I feel very akin to bodies of water. I adore swimming. I was a water fitness instructor. I go to the ocean when I need to find my inner zen. So that’s what I normally associate with “water”. So I was thinking about that this week, but it never really stuck. Until today. Do you know what happened today? A BOMB CYCLONE of snow. And y’know what snow is? D’ya pick up what I’m putting down?

Snow has not ever been the first thought I had when listening to this song, but today…it just fit. And the snow/water gave me a lot today.

First, it gave me…a NON-snow day! I had to go into work. But honestly…it didn’t bother me. Last night, my boss changed our training destination to a place that was more Northern than our usual Southerly Thursday training location because reports were coming in that the BOMB CYCLONE (side note: first THUNDERSNOW, now BOMB CYCLONE. I don’t know when weather phenomenon started being named like Coney Island rides or metal bands, but I am All In for this trend.) was going to be worse lower in the state, so that was nice. And though the roads were a little rough, I don’t mind driving in the snow, so I got in fine. We had a slightly abbreviated training and then got sent home in the early afternoon.

And once I got home, I decided to make the most of what the water was giving me:

Time.

Clear as literal day Opportunity. Daylight where not only did I not have to go anywhere else, I truly shouldn’t go anywhere else. Hours to do things I’ve been trying to get myself to do, and have only barely begun to do, the things I know I NEED to do to really kick this magical radical transformation into high gear.

So. I ate a quick, weird lunch (a chicken cutlet and a banana), grabbed a bottle of water, and told my husband (who’d also got sent home early) that I was going upstairs to do some cleaning.

AND I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Slowly, organically, I listened to what the water was telling me. I lit incense and a candle. I put on Florence + the Machine. I drank the water. And started cleaning. My bedside table. The top of the chest at the foot of the bed. The cluttered area with a random tote of costumes and shoes. The stack of suitcases from the former life/old job/previous year’s events that I had at least finally emptied out weeks ago but hadn’t managed to actually put the suitcases themselves away. All done. Also decked out my new uke hardcase with even more buttons than my old one had, which, incidentally, was now the best specialized toy bag for my long impact toys that wouldn’t fit in my other two, smaller toy bags. I took pictures the incense and candle on my altar. I danced. I texted a few friends. I cleared space and physically started moving myself into the future. I’m not fully sure what I’m moving towards, but finally, finally the gnawing calling is stronger than the fear, the procrastination, the depression/anxiety, the grief.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a fuckton of grief. There are relationships that feel like they’ve entered their last dying gasp and not ending the way I ever wanted or thought they would. There’s so much loss that I’m constantly struggling to process. But I keep pushing through. And thankfully, this challenge is one of the things helping to push me through.

Speaking of, we’ll get back to what else the water gave me today. But let’s actually cover the meat of this week’s prompt: Goals.

Here are the four top questions (and all their important sub-questions) that she listed for the prompt:

How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life?  You need to start breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Our particular Experiment goes until Valentine’s Day.  What can you reasonably expect to accomplish by then?  How will you do it?

  1. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?  If you are into Planetary magic, you may want to consider looking into the Gates work that RO does to help you accomplish your goals.  Thinking strategically in magic isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of us either.  Check out Jason’s books on Strategic Sorcery if that’s something you need some guidance on.
  2. Use your preferred method of divination to figure out both what you can do to make sure these goals will happen and also to figure out what road blocks keep you from this.
  3. Consult whatever inner or outer spirits you may work with as to what’s blocking you from achieving your goals.  If you’re the meditative type, when meditating consult your spirits there.  If you aren’t the meditative type, when you are just about to drift off to sleep when your mind is relaxed, ask what’s preventing you from achieving these goals.  In terms of “who” you’re asking, you can ask personal spirit guides or god/dess/es, your Younger Self, Talking Self, and Higher Self or even personifications of the traits you’re either trying to emulate or discourage.  Whatever works for your personal cosmos.

For #1, since I started a few weeks after she did, I’m gonna be going to the end of February…or possibly the beginning of March, which I think is appropriate for me. I’ve been gearing up for a winter of Work, inner and outer, and as I said before, this will help guide me. But breaking it down into more bite-sized pieces is going to be a challenge in and of itself.

In my last post, I wrote that these things are the most important to me:

music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier.

That’s a lot to tackle in twenty-one weeks. I’mma group things to make it a little more manageable:

  • Creativity – music, writing, drawing
  • Spirituality – practicing more, meditating again, yoga
  • Kink – honoring all sides of the slash, seeking out play, educating myself more about the scene, honing my classes
  • Health – mental, physical, emotional
  • Authentic Relationships – better communication, being my most authentic self, fixing my own fuck ups and holding others accountable for theirs, seeking better connections and not settling
  • Cleaning – organizing, downsizing, not living like a trash panda

Eventually, I’m hoping following these things will help me get on the path to my next career and back on my Path towards the Destiny I have. I’ve gotten so many signs that lately that I have one, I just don’t fully know what it is. But I’m working on it.

So! Let’s go even more bite-sized.

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more water
  • Authentic relationships
    • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
    • moving away from those who aren’t
    • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
    • making myself vulnerable
    • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
    • personal responsibility
    • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So this is a lot. And I haven’t even fully gotten to numbers three and four yet. But I think those are things I’m gonna think on for the next week. Also going to have a smaller, more manageable list of quantifiable goals by next week, as opposed to this ginormous, all over the place list.

For now, I just want to list some of the little victories I’m seeing as I feel myself redirecting back on the Path towards these goals. Today I:

  • made myself a hot breakfast before work instead of not eating or buying crap from Dunkin’
  • went to work in BOMB CYCLONE
  • ate a reasonable, if not weird, lunch
  • started a pile of clothing I’m giving away/selling
  • relocated a few things that’ve been laying around the bedroom to their rightful places in the house
  • cleaned off my bedside table
  • cleaned off the chest at the foot of the bed
  • had tea and finished reading the first book of 2018
  • practiced uke
  • wrote this post
  • did laundry (might’ve ruined a new pair of pants in the process, but we’ll see)
  • texted/messaged some friends
  • talked some to nesting partner and spent some quality time over dinner with them

This is long. And I’m tired, as it’s 1:41am. But I’m doing it. Slowly, surely, I’m getting back to it all. For me, this time. Not for anyone else.

New Year, New ME, bitches. Let’s do this.