[New Year, New You] Week 1 – Making Way

So a dear friend of mine, who is an author, crafter, and all around glamourous Amazon (or Glamazon, as RuPaul calls them), started a series of 23 writing prompts called New Year, New You designed to fix your situation. And she decided to start this a few years back, before the turn of the new year because why wait. Fix that shit now. 

The first prompt starts here, and it is all about making way for the change you are about to start working towards. She breaks it down into three bite-sized sections for week one:

Let’s start with the easy part.  Time to clean your house.

“Let’s start with the easy part.” Bitch, you almost made me laugh. I love her dearly, but FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKK.

*whining*

I don’t wanna clean. I wanna keep living in the stacks of clothes and costumes and unpacked bags from this past year. This keeps all that shit in nice tidy piles where I don’t have to deal with it. Because I don’t wanna deal with the job that I left that I loved parts of but couldn’t stay at. Or the costumes pieces full of promise of burlesque routines and exercise I can’t seem to find time to put together or do. And pfffffttttt, what’s the use of putting away laundry? If it’s not put away, it’s much more handy. I mean, seriously…it’s much closer on the floor or piled on a chair than in the closet all the way over there. (for the record, my closet is about 10 feet from my bed. The chair is about 8 feet. I mean, c’mon. That’s TWO WHOLE FEET MORE.

What?

It’s just…I’ve been having such a mental block this past year, not wanting to deal with anything. Getting from day to day took most of my spoons, and now I have a new job to learn, and that new job takes more (but different) spoons than the last.

Urgh.

But she’s right. She’s fucking right. I can’t expect to move forward with a clear head and create good magical mojo when the space around me, that I live in, is chaotic.

Is your time being well spent?

Sometimes.

Next.

Just because someone hands you a big rock doesn’t mean you have to carry it.

Naaaaahhhhhhhh. I’m not carrying any big rocks. No secrets here. No heartbreak. No difficult decisions. No taking on another person’s shit as my own. No endlessly throwing energy into a void. No toxicity. No negativity. No seemingly endless confidences, only some of which I agreed to up front, that are weighing me down. No anger or disappointment or disillusionment or confusion or desperation or depression here. No health issues. No fear. None whatsoever.

*headdesk*

Alrrightee. Now that we know the mega shitstorm of situation fixing I need to do, the next part of her post was taking stock of what she’s done.

So.

Things I’ve done so far:

  1. Started tackling the piles. Eliminated a big one on the chair. Enlisted nesting partner’s help to put their laundry away while I packed away my summer clothes and then put most of my laundry away. Last week, I organized and condensed the pile of costumes and leftover event bags from this year. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
  2. Been thinking a lot about how I spend my time lately. Things that are important to me. This boils down to 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. I spent Christmas Eve with a fantastic friend establishing the first annual Queermas Eve full of playing music (and then taking a deep breath and posting the cover on my FB. I’m contemplating creating a YouTube channel to start putting up my uke sessions in the new year, as a way to continue to push myself to play more and grow), really vulnerable talking & sharing, a Wawa adventure, and some cuddling with a side of kink. It was pretty fucking great. I felt seen, heard, supported and supportive, in turn. I felt an energetic connection, joy, excitement, peaceful. Again, pretty fucking great. And a great reminder of what I’m looking for. What’s important to me. I did a fairly in depth full moon ritual that I felt proud of. Have been practicing uke more. And clearly have picked up writing again. And reading. I didn’t accomplish the quarter Cannonball Run I signed up for for 2017, but I’ve forgiven myself. I’m just glad I started reading again this year at all. In previous years, I’ve read 52 books, or 26 books. Last year, it was something like…five? Which blows. Currently, though, I’m in the middle of a few books. The best is Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong”. So topical in my life right now. I’m going to a play party this weekend and have one topping scene set up and have reached out to a few people to see if I can get some a bottoming scene in before the new year. And I’m trying to own up to my mistakes, take responsibility for my fuck ups, and also seek out authentic connections and emotional support. Hafta cultivate that constructive selfishness. Also have to work towards scheduling time for things instead of flying by the seat of my pants on a regular basis in an attempt to Do Everything (and usually falling way the fuck short on that.)
  3. There are too many rocks. Just in case your sarcasm detector is broke, all you have to do is take everything I said above under the rock section and remove all the “no’s”. Then you’ll have all the rocks that have created an avalanche on top of me and might begin to understand why I feel like I have almost nothing left to give anyone anymore. I’m beyond tapped out. The immolation period of a phoenix fucking SUCKS.

So, there you have it. There’s a lot of situation to fix, but I’ve begun to Make Way.

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Tonight, I chose the pineapple.

So, there’s this thing I don’t talk about often. My anxiety manifests itself in various forms, most of which I’ve tried to transcend over the past three decades or so. Most commonly, it’s the “if I just have something sweet, I’ll be fine.” The sugar boost (usually with chocolate) helps calm me down, especially if there’s chocolate. I mean, c’mon. You can’t argue with Harry Potter AND Science.

If I’m going somewhere overnight that I’ve never been before, or I don’t know what the food situation will be, I’ll make sure to have something in my purse that will help me with anxiety. And sometimes, when I’m fighting an anxiety attack, or depression, I’ll crave something sweet. A cupcake, a brownie, a cookie. Rarely anymore do I crave regular candy. I’ve phased out and grown up out of most shit forms of sugar. Now I crave real bakery items, or high end chocolate, or other types of rarer things I have to make a special stop for.

Thankfully, I’ve left binging behind in my teens and mid- to late-twenties. It’s not that the feeling of a chasm in me that needed to be filled ever fully went away, I just gradually found other, better ways to fill it. Maybe some of them even helped to heal and close it a little bit at a time. Kink. Real, authentic connection to humans I liked. Music. Art. Dance. A job that at one time was one of the most fulfilling jobs I could’ve ever imagined. Being desired. Being partnered. Being married.

Some of these are great ways to heal old wounds, when applied well. Others…not so much. And lately, I’ve been taking stock of my life. My choices. Everything that’s led me here. It’s the holiday season and yet again, I’m left with very little holiday spirit and even less money than last year. I have no idea where to go from here in terms of finding fulfilling things in a career, in terms of kink, in relationships. There are big, scary things I have to deal with and I don’t know how.

But slowly…slowly, I’m finding answers. Slowly….slowly, I’m rediscovering the spirituality I allowed to be shamed out of me. I’m realizing that there are things I don’t want anymore, which is a step closer to figuring out what I do want. I’m grateful each day for the community of Amazon sisters which has sprung up around me over the past few years.

Still, each day is more of a struggle than I think most people know because I’m trying not to put it all over social media. I get that mental health awareness is and totally should be a Thing, but I also…don’t see the point in posting about all the negative things constantly. Especially when the intellectual part of my brain knows that anxiety and depression are lying to me and there isn’t much that is going to help by way of Fb comments of hugs, thoughts, and prayers. I’m not saying there isn’t healing and helping power in people putting good energy out for you…but there are also studies now showing that diminishing returns of social media. I want something real. My soul is desperate for connection and touch and creativity and kink. These things fuel me, help me burn bright, give me life. I feel like I’m suffocating lately from a dearth of them.

So every other day or so, I fight the urge to get a cookie. Or a cupcake. Or a brownie. Or ginger ale. Most days, I’m not happy to say I don’t win the fight. But I’ve been noticing recently that eating the cookie or the cupcake or the brownie has not been assuaging the anxiety anymore. In fact, I feel either the same or worse AND it tastes cloyingly sweet. Things that I used to adore. Are now…nothing to me.

I’m also not craving regular foods much anymore. Used to be that Vietnamese or Thai food would be my go-to, I-have-no-idea-what-to-eat-but-I-need-comfort meals. That’s not even there right now. I feel like I’m loosing touch with everything I used to hold dear and am floating somewhere, untethered.

Tonight, after a rough depression day, I steered my car towards a local bakery with THE BEST chocolate chip cookies ever. (And a cupcake that a metamour called “life changing”). I got there, parked right outside and then…then I remembered the fresh pineapple I had cut up in the fridge at home. For some reason, that seemed a helluva lot better an idea (1. free 2. my mouth said it would taste better 3. free) so…I went home. And had the pineapple. It’s not a major victory, but it’s something that I wanted to remember for myself and share for anyone else battling depression and anxiety.

Free writing: Failure

Feeling like a failure. Work. Wife. Life. Health. Creativity. Magic. Goals. D/s. Adulting. Activism.

Not good enough.

Who the hell am I?

Reading Brene Brown helps. Rising Strong. I need to rise strong. I feel beaten down. Broken.

Connecting with people helps.

Music helps.

My sister helped talk me off a proverbial ledge tonight by reminding me how I’m not a failure. As did my best (non blood) friend. I did my best. I’m doing my best. There is an epic level of insanity and change happening.

Say it out loud: I am human. I am not a bad person. I have worth.

And I will trust a small circle of people around me when I can’t believe in myself. Or do something for myself.

I just…want to do so much. Make gifts for friends and family that I don’t have time to make. Buy things I can’t afford. Celebrate something. The fear and folly of life? I have no idea.

Hope. Celebrate hope.

So disjointed. So much effort and so few spoons. Life unraveling, phoenix in fire. The immolation period hurts like fuck.

No answers right now. Just boatloads of questions and a long, lonely winter ahead to work through it all. Manifest some change. Figure out what’s next. What I want. What’s and who’s important to me.

Nothing major.

“Open a new window, open a new door…”

Pinterest has gotten me hooked on doors. It started out as a passing thing. I wasn’t even looking at doors. I was ogling art nouveau jewelry and decor and then suddenly, I beheld the staggering beauty of art nouveau doors. I started pinning them to my “Art” board and Pinterest, since it’s very smart and wants you to use it more, started showing me All The Doors. In Spain, Paris, Estonia, Egypt, South Carolina, Brazil, New Mexico, Austria, Morocco, Philly, Berlin, India.

So. Many. Doors. In so many colors. And my “Art” board got far afield from art nouveau. I mean, there are abstract doors pulsing with vibrancy, garden doors with color decaying off them in the most lovely ways, intricate stained glass doors, intricate woodwork, delicate metalwork, ornate stonework, some lush with flowers and vines, some starkly bare and bold in their own right. So many possibilities. What’s behind that one? Or that one? And do I even really want to know because I’m also happy just sitting here and contemplating how damned pretty that door is. Seriously.

Given how many doors I’d accumulated on the “Art” board, I decided it was time to create a dedicated “Door” board. Since I’m a musical theatre geek, I thought I was very clever when I gave the board the proper name of “Open a new door!” (Ten points to whomever knows where that’s from without consulting their good friend Google.)

This got me thinking about the song. It’s very upbeat and encourages individuality and passion. So I thought it would be the perfect song to play the morning I had a job interview.

Because, y’see, I resigned from my previous job recently. That might be its own post(s) in the future, as it’s been a major life shift for me where I have to do a lot of reckoning, a lot of saying goodbye that I didn’t really want to, and a lot of soul searching about who I am, who I want in my life, what I’m willing to do to figure all that out.

Y’know, simple stuff.

All while, at the time of the decision, also navigating a complex work environment that on one hand had afforded me countless opportunities to grow both personally and professionally, discover and be my whole self, meet many members of my tribe, and advance career-wise but on the other hand had evolved into many dysfunctional situations that I found ranged from challenging to morally abhorrent. This became a conundrum too hard to bear and I found my line and could no longer stay with the company.

And now…I don’t know what happens next. People keep asking me what I want to do and I’m just…not sure. I’ve had to update my resume and it’s hard to really process all the things I’ve done. The opportunities, the experience, the growth and change I’ve gone through. Especially hard to put it into bit-sized pieces the mainstream workforce will find not just acceptable but professionally alluring. To say I have anxiety surrounding job searching is an understatement.

But I’m doing it. Updating. Tweaking. Sending out resumes and cover letters. Haven’t gotten much response yet.

Then a friend recently set me up with a referral phone interview…for a sale job.

I never saw myself doing sales. I don’t like pushing people to buy things. I’m not sure I’ll be a good fit for this job. I want to run away to my sister’s in Mississippi for the holidays and not get a job and let my head and heart heal a little and figure life out. But I also have to understand that I’m adult now and have responsibilities. Bills. Medicine. Partners. Friends. A life. Here.

(Ironically, we moved back here for this job last year and now neither me nor my husband work for the company anymore. In fact, I put in my resignation almost exactly a year to the day of when we moved out here for the company. Funny what a year can do.)

On Monday, I had a phone interview that kinda made me excited to see if a job in sales would be good for me. At least for now. Then I got the call for an in person interview. Held it together on the phone with the recruiter, who told me to “dress to impress” and then got off and went into full-on panic.

What THE FUCK was I going to wear?

It’s been years since I had to “dress to impress” by corporate America’s standards. One of the things I loved about this job was that I could wear whatever me showed up that day. I mean, most of the time I worked from home, but even at events, I could be as me as I wanted. Hell, at certain events, at certain times, stages of nudity didn’t matter. Gender norms didn’t matter.

In fact, when my pronouns changed earlier this year the people around me adapted so fluidly and fast, it literally made me cry (happy tears).

When I had to scout a future venue last year and one of the finders who helped make the connection told me to “dress appropriately”, my boss at the time told me he trusted me to look what I considered appropriate as to who I was and what I was doing. Which was good not only to have that trust but also because I still lived in Memphis at the time. I was visiting the East coast and didn’t pack anything most “normal” places would consider “appropriate”. I wound up in what I called “casual, liberal librarian”: my burlesque combat boots, leggings, a good black tank top, and a light brown sweater with a handkerchief pointy hemline, and a long statement necklace. It seemed to go over well enough; we got the venue.

But now. Now I was at home and realizing that it wouldn’t’ve mattered if I was home for that scouting…I didn’t have a damn thing I thought would impress anyone I would be meeting. The person who recommended me suggested a “pantsuit or a blouse and pants that are pretty”. Problem is…I don’t own a fucking pantsuit (which, actually, now that I think about it is kind of ridiculous) and any of the pants I had didn’t fit (and I don’t think they ever fit…they were hand-me-downs hopefuls that might one day fit if I ever got a “respectable” job. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is yet.)

I told my nesting partner that I might have to use the tiny store-specific credit card I had gotten this year to get some interview and working clothes, and he said that was fine. I prepared myself to start wearing clothing that I found repressive and ugly, but was happy that the specific store at least mostly had cute stuff.

You’re an adult. Act like it. I kept telling myself. When I wasn’t fantasizing about running away to Mississippi. Which, especially in today’s socio-political climate was it’s own brand of weird for me, but my sister/blood best friend lives there and it’s been a place of immense healing and rebuilding for me.

Then something happened. I went to bed and slept through the night. (Lately, I’d been having even more trouble with that than usual.) I woke up when my nesting partner was getting ready for work and stayed awake. After he left, I put on the “open a new door” song and played it a few times over. And went into the closet, tried on then threw aside the two pairs of pants that didn’t fit, did everything I could to not let myself wallow in it, and then pulled out a few pieces…that worked. From a basic black knit dress with a huge belt and 3/4 sleeves, I built an outfit. One that I was comfortable in. Slouchy faux suede knee-high boots. A brown sweater like the one I had worn to one the venue scouting mission. A Brighton necklace and bracelet. A Ren Faire bracelet on the other wrist. I was ready. I described the outfit to a friend as “inner librarian/boho witch/country chic”. I laid it all out.

Then something moved behind my curtains.

I shit you not…something moved behind my curtains. It seemed like a bird. But…that was impossible. I mean, we had birds around the windows and knock into them occasionally. From the OUTSIDE.

Which SHOULDN’T RUSTLE THE CURTAINS, my brain screamed, really freaked out.

I seriously put thought into whether I was hallucinating or not. But it kept moving, proving me wrong every time I got to it must be a hallucination or this cannot possibly be happening. To make matters worse, the sun cast shadows on it so at one point, when it put a claw up to the curtain, it looked like a weird, skeleton paw and I though maybe it was a deranged mouse or something. But then it tried flying up again and beat back and forth against the curtains and the windows and I knew it wasn’t a mouse. I mean, mostly knew. Since I was still really freaked out.

Because how could this happen? How could a bird possibly be in my bedroom? How did it get in, when all the windows were closed and where they weren’t, there were screens. Then I remembered that the upper parts of the windows don’t have screens. I went over to inspect the windows on that side of the room and sure enough, the middle one had slipped down and was completely open to the world. A space large enough for a small fucking bird right at the top.

By this time, the bird was getting quite agitated that it couldn’t get out and kept banging into things and was trying to hop out either side of the curtains. I kept blocking it because I had no idea what to do with a bird behind the curtains, let alone one that was free range flying around my bedroom. Containment seemed best. And I thought that if I could get the window down more, it could fly-thump up and out.

Or it could fly out one side of the curtain while I was trying to coax it up. That could work, too.

And by “work” I mean I now had a bird careening wildly back and forth across my bedroom and hitting the walls and I’m thinking this damn bird is gonna kill itself in my bedroom on the day I’m having an interview and then I began trying to parse the message in that, because I’m pagan and a bird in the house can have all kinds of meanings which I couldn’t remember but I was pretty sure a dead bird was universally a bad sign.

I tried telling it to calm down. That worked well. And by “well”, I mean it promptly hit the wall near my altar and calmed down. Or died. I didn’t know at the time, I just hoped it wasn’t the latter as I ran over to the curtains and threw them open to give the open window it’s full openness. I then walked back over towards where the bird had landed…

And hadn’t moved during this whole time.

“Bird? You okay?Where’d you go?” I tentatively called out, chanting to myself pleasedon’tbedeadpleasedon’tbedead. Then I spotted it, behind my cauldron. It looked at me, then took off across the room and right out the window.

The words “open a new window, open a new door” played over and over in my head for the rest of the day.

Still freaked out, but also oddly calm, I consulted another witch friend about it, who told me to draw some cards for a clearer reading. I got one card telling me that I will have money and abundance. Then one that told me I’m confused because I don’t have enough info, so I should do research or seek expert advice. Then another that said to help heal the situation, see things from the other side with compassion.

At this point, I don’t know fully what it was talking about…because there was the job/career situation, my former company situation, and also some partner issues I’ve been having. Was it speaking to my interview that day? Or my previous job? Or the partner issues? I had no idea, so I did a four card reading which basically amounted to “simmer down. It’s going to be okay. Trust yourself. Open up to new experiences and they’ll change the way you view the world. Also, take care of yourself, dammit.”

Which…didn’t really clear up which of the aforementioned things it was about…but really, given that clarification, it didn’t matter. It could apply to any or all of them. Either way, it was sound advice. So off to the interview I went, blasting “open a new window, open a new door” nearly all the way there.