[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.

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[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.

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.

A small but powerful message from the Moon.

Moments of magic aren’t always big powerful rituals, a coven in a darkened room/ wood, all pageantry and pomp.

Sometimes, moment of magic and following the Path include letting the Universe know you’re terrified about leaving the job you’ve had for nearly five years, the people you’ve grown to love, the communities you helped build. That yes, you’ll still be part of those communities and those people you love say they’ll love you back in Life After The Change, but you don’t know what that will look like until it happens. Or doesn’t.

Before this year, I hadn’t practiced in…years. I’m embarrassed to say that I let other people shame me out of my faith at one point, and after that…well, life got in the way. I let life get in the way. But gradually, I’ve been finding my way back to the Path. I’ve also been learning to trust my instincts again more as I catch up to where I am and what I’ve learned when I thought I wasn’t practicing but actually, kinda was. But that’s another story.

Finding my way back today meant throwing fear and insecurity and anxiety out to the Universe on a mundane drive home from the grocery store and suddenly…the clouds cleared, revealing a luscious, one-night-shy-of-full Moon. And as I stared in awe, grateful for the red light that afforded me the opportunity, a feeling of calm washed over me and a voice, maybe your my subconscious, maybe the Universe, maybe the Moon herself, quietly quelled me.

It will be okay. I don’t know how, but it will be okay. You will be okay. 

I am not a means to an end.

I am NOT a means to an end.

Brain: But…

No, brain. I am not a means to an end.

Heart: Are you sure…

Hey…heart. I am not a means to an end.

Body: Really…?

Really, body. Fuckin’ listen up: I am not a means to an end.

The phrase “you are not a means to an end” came up in therapy recently and I can’t get it out of my head. When my therapist first said it, the room felt very still and I had to remind myself to breathe as the tears formed. Suddenly, I felt the need to both protect myself and be vulnerable.

It keeps popping up at inconvenient times, and suddenly I’m crying on a bench next to a stranger while waiting for my car to be done getting an oil change.

Why is this so hard to believe?

When did I stop thinking I was worthy of attention and affection just…for myself? When did that become so hard to accept, yet something that I crave to the point of near desperation lately?

I know I’m primarily a submissive, but I also know enough, learned enough, was trained well enough to know that submissive does not equal doormat, in the paraphrased words of my best friend. That yes, I love to serve. And while I’m also a switch, my core is pure submissive. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have needs and desires.

A partner once wrote to me that “as much as it is your responsibility to serve me, it is my responsibility to make you feel loved and make sure you have what you need and sometimes what you want.”

When I first read it, I also cried.

There’s been a lot of crying lately.

There’s also this comic by the wonderful Sarah Andersen, making the rounds.

But this one really hit me as I stumbled across it on a friend’s FB feed. Caring for the animal within. 

And I have no problem telling other people, especially submissives, that they have to put their own oxygen mask on first.

As it came up in therapy, though, I’m so used to giving. Making sure the people I care about have what they want and need beyond my own natural warning signs of “Empty! Need refuel!” as a method of survival that it’s just…what I do. And there’s also the times when, I’ve tried repeatedly to communicate what I want and need to various partners and the many times it’s been misunderstood, delayed forever, or just completely ignored. Sometimes, I’ve stopped asking. I’m not proud of that. Sometimes, I keep trying and once finally asked a question that wound up setting off a domino effect of that particular relationship ending.

Earlier this year, I had some wonderful experiences with someone who wanted to…do things for/to me because they wanted to. And because I asked or made it clear that I wanted certain things. It was…difficult to relax into. My brain went into hyperdrive anxiety, wondering if I looked okay/attractive, if I smelled okay, if the noises I was making were okay, getting frustrated with myself for not coming “quick enough”, and I tried to keep all this under control and not go into a full on anxiety attack for experiences that were supposed to be, and largely were, good. Some times, I even succeeded. It was the closest I’ve come lately to enjoying the moment and savoring the hell out of those experiences, but I still…struggled.

To be very clear, these were all my own hang ups. None of it came from the other person. In fact, they were amazing beyond amazing with telling me that all the things were fine, good, appealing, and showing me that they actively wanted to be where they were and doing what they were doing. Which included waking up parts of me I didn’t even think were responsive (or, wait….how the hell did you do that?! That part of me never reacts like that!), introducing me to dropping into sub space briefly with someone who was not a Dominant or Master/Mistress to me (well, that was a cool brief dip into subspace with no melancholy for wishing things could be different with you or anyone else; how the fuck did that happen?), and showing me by example the joy of relishing the moment for what it is.

This wasn’t fueled by NRE, that I know of. We’d kind of ridden a lot of that out by starting to build a friendship. It wasn’t driven by a desire to get me back after a breakup. Nor was it done, to the best of my knowledge and belief about this person, as a means to an end. I wasn’t a means to an end. It was shared experiences. And I don’t think I realized until recently just how fucking hard it was for me.

I hate that.

I hate that it was so hard for me to follow good feelings, hard to be treated like I was desirable, hard to admit that I desired things, and accept those things once talked about and freely given. Sex in general can be difficult for me. I have strong cuckquean and con non-con fetishes that are actually fetishes…like I need to think about one of those two things to get off 95% of the time, both when I masturbate or when I’m with other people. Both of those are built around denial of my own needs and desires and other people using me, taking what they want. For the very (very) few people that I feel comfortable being sexual with, that’s where my mind goes. When I don’t have an established D/s connection with that person, or that person isn’t into either of those things…my brain apparently gets a little messed up. It doesn’t know how to process…”do this because it feels good. You said you wanted it, and this person wants to give it to you, and that’s okay.”

I don’t know if it’s tied to my difficulty practicing self care or if it’s something different, but it feels right now like it’s tied together somehow. Like maybe I eroticized difficult things that’ve happened in my life so that I could reclaim them. But if so, the pendulum has swung so wildly in the other direction and I’ve forgotten how to relax into feeling good.

There are, apparently, a lot of things I’ve forgotten or fallen out of practice with. Like practicing. Magic and music. Like writing. Like intense, regular exercise. Like eating well and drinking water.

Once upon a time, I didn’t drink enough water at an event I was working. I wound up having an episode and being taken to see the EMTs. They ordered me to rest and hydrate. At the end of the weekend, someone else ordered me to my knees, handed me a glass of water, and told me to stay that way for 10 minutes and that maybe that would help me remember the importance of staying hydrated.

For the next few months, I was the best hydrated I’d ever been in my life.

Last month, there was an event that I had to work and I knew it was going to be difficult for many reasons. So I set myself into self-care overdrive mode. I knew that I wouldn’t have my best friend & PA there to help make sure I ate and drank, so I arranged with a few different people to help me with that and made sure to get some fairly healthy snacks to also help. I reached out to my magic-minded friends (and the internets) to relearn how to set up a portable altar, because it’d been years since I’d done that. I made lists, brought extra things to nest my hotel room with, and as soon as I got there, set about putting it all into effect.

I set up a portable altar, nested beyond any nesting I’d ever done before for an event, and also since I knew the person who had once made me kneel with the water would be beyond hella busy, I took it upon myself to kneel every day holding a glass of water for five minutes, setting my intentions for the day, reminding myself that I was worthy of my own service.

No one told me to. That was really fucking difficult to do, but I did it. And I stayed hydrated. I also ate three meals a day during the event. Which never happens. I’m exceptionally lucky if I get two, and that’s with having a PA whose main purpose is to make sure I’m okay at events. So for this one event, I was able to throw much of my energy into self care enough to get through the event and serve the community. But afterward? It’s been really challenging to keep up that self care. To keep believing that I deserve my own service, to put on my own oxygen mask, to ask for the help I need, and the interactions I want. I’ve been building a lot of walls. It’s just…there’s been so much pain. So much confusion. So much fear and difficulty. So much longing.

My body meters are at an all time low in regards to D/s, touch, sex, romance, sensation, making out, dancing, creativity, exercising, and snuggling/cuddling. I’m having problems with my teeth, my stomach, my uterus. My sleep patterns, which are normally already fucked because of childhood issues, have been beyond borked. Life is changing and I just keep thinking, “how do I change with it?” How do I move through all the transitions I feel coming?

I don’t know how to fight for myself and claim my own power let alone move into the next phase of my life. I barely know how to not treat myself as a means to an end of just getting through each day, so how do I even begin to stand up for myself and tell others that I am not a means to an end, if I don’t believe it myself?

The best starting place, I guess, is to keep reminding myself.

No, really, self.

I AM NOT A MEANS TO AN END.

One of these days, I’ll hopefully even believe it.