[New Year, New You] Week 14: Spiritual Consultation

But you gotta dig your way out
From underneath the ground
Scratching at the dark
Pushing through the gloom
Oh, sticking around
Long enough to see yourself bloom

“Bloom” by Namoli Brennet

At long last! The last page of prompts! I’m a few weeks behind on this one, but as my best friend pointed out to me, I’m doing this in my own time. Each “week” is a relative measurement. I think it is well-paced, but life also has a way of interfering sometimes.

That being said, I also have to be careful to avoid falling into procrastination and calling it “life interfering.” This time around it was a little bit of both.

Y’see, this week’s prompt was all about checking in with my higher Powers That Be about my progress thus far with my goals and this whole making a new year and a new me.  As Deb wrote:

If you are starting to feel run down and dispirited, confiding in your PTB about your worries and troubles may lighten your load. Your PTB may also have advice as to how to better manage your goals. You may want their input to decide if you’re progressing as well as you could be.

How did she know I’d be feeling a bit run down and dispirited?!

Oh, right. She’s done this already. Okay, moving along. So, I actually wasn’t sure how to check in with my PTB. Or, at the very least, what would be the best way to check in right now.

See, I’m kind of eclectic and don’t have a specific structure of Gods and Goddesses that I worship. I tend to call my PTB “The Universe” but sometimes can feel specific spirits or Gods or Goddesses coming through. And I also got out of the practice of communing directly with the Universe, but I’m getting back to that. That’s part of why I started this whole challenge to begin with. To identify what’s important to me and to work towards those things. One of those things being reconnecting with my spirituality.

So. Checking in with them…I felt a little unsure about what to do and not confident in my ability to get good answers on my own. And lately, I’ve been getting more and more into tarot reading, so my first thought was to ask a friend who has offered to do a reading on me and help me with tarot to do a reading of checking in with my PTB. Life conspired against that plan, which we see sometimes.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting some messages loud and clear. Seems my PTB weren’t waiting for me to check in. They were gonna beat my door down. Here are some of the messages:

  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Move/exercise more.
  • You’ve got work to do. Take care of your shit.
  • Don’t throw your energy to people who are not reciprocating in some way.
  • Keep avoiding sugar. You’re on the right path.
  • You have power and are manifesting the things you want. Be careful, though and be REAL FUCKING specific.
  • Write more.
  • Seek out more authentic communications.
  • Be careful who you give your power to.
  • Remember laughter. Being competent. Appreciated. You are a magical human.
  • Dance more.
  • You may not have the love you expected or thought you were going to have but you are incredibly loved and cherished. It just doesn’t look like how you thought it was gonna look.
  • Make more music.
  • Keep being grateful for all the gifts. Even the things that don’t look like gifts. Like the bad pain. It’s still a gift that’s helping you. You’re learning.
  • Be gentle with yourself when you can.
  • Clean. Purge. Streamline. Don’t get so caught up in possessions.
  • Remember being topless in the courtyard, the grass under your bare toes.
  • More vegetables than that.
  • And more movement.

So that…all touches on what I’m doing and it seems I’m doing pretty well, but I clearly still have more work to do.

I also got a message loud and clear yesterday while driving that I really needed to hear. Sometimes, my PTB talk to me in a Dom(me) voice (as if you couldn’t tell from the list above), and this came though:

Little girl, this has nothing to do with you. Live your own life. You needed [this thing that you’ve put a lot of energy into] to get to a certain place. That time is over. Move on.

I had a bones reading this past weekend, and that carried with it a whole bunch of messages I needed to hear. Don’t get too wrapped up in potential. It doesn’t necessarily matter why something is happening; if it’s not working for you or actively hurting you, it needs to stop and you need to make better choices.

Basically, my PTB are telling that I’m on the right track, but I gotta step it up. Seems about right.

 

 

 

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[CBR10 – 6/13] Lies We Tell Ourselves

(Cannonball Read book review #6 – original post @ CBR10)

It’s Juneteenth, AND Pride month, which makes an incredibly appropriate time to review Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley. This book was on my radar since it first came out in 2014, but it took a wee bit of time to actually find time to read it. (Seriously, on this site, I know I’m not the only one who’s reading list is longer than the time I’ll ever possibly have to read over the course of my entire life…) What first drew me in was that the book was about desegregation and I knew there was likely going to be a romantic subplot, but I didn’t know at first that it was a lesbian romantic subplot. And not just that, it was a white girl and a black girl falling in love with each. In the south. In 1959. You don’t have to know a whole lot about American history to know this is not going to be a happy story. However, Talley manages to take a difficult and complex story of racism, politics, history, growth, and first love and infuse hope, joy, wonder in it. I already knew I was a fan of Talley’s when I read and reviewed her second book What We Left Behind but this was a very different reading experience.

Format-wise, Lies We Tell Ourselves follows a similar back and forth POV style to What We Left Behind with the story being told from each of the protagonists perspectives. There are also some great internal monologues from all four characters between the two books. But that’s where the similarity ends, I think, because Lies We Tell Ourselves doesn’t give you a moment to breathe from the very beginning. What We Left Behind starts out happy, lighthearted. A dance. A first meeting of the couple. Lies We Tell Ourselves first page opens with the chilling title “Lie #1: There’s no need to be afraid” and the very first sentence is “The white people are waiting for us.”

If that doesn’t shoot you in the heart with dread, I…don’t know what will. I tend to try to put myself in the shoes of characters I read about to understand people from different places, times, cultures, classes, etc better. I thought about what it would be like to walk into a throng of angry people who hate me…just based on what they see and think they know about me. Granted, the one thing I can relate to in that regard is that being a larger person, I’ve been read as lazy, ugly, stupid, pitiful, and disgusting by many people…just based on the way I look and the reason people think I got this way. And while that is NOTHING compared to hundreds of years of institutional racism, and does not mean in any way, shape, or form that I understand what that feels like, it has given me a tiny window of empathy and I try to be a better person with it.

So there I am, in my mind, walking with the ten teenagers into the Jefferson High School and it’s terrifying.

“They’re out there all right,” Chuck says when he comes back. He’s trying to smile, but he just looks frozen. “Somebody sent the welcome committee.”

No one laughs. We can hear the shouting, but the sound is too disjointed for us to make out the words.

We learn from there that the teens have been assisted and coached by the NAACP on this transition. Sarah, the main character on the desegregation side gives us this run down:

My father and Mrs. Mullins and the rest of the NAACP leaders have been coaching us on the rules since the summer, when the court first said the high school baord had to let us into the white school. Rule One: Ignore anything the white people say to you and keep walking. Rule Two: Always sit at the front of the classroom, near the door, so you can make a quick getaway if you need to. And Rule Three: Stay together whenever you possibly can.

I’ve been reading fiction about desegregation, the South during the 20’s – 50’s, slavery, and runaway slaves and I never came across that kind of description before. I knew the kids who were the first to face desegregation were brave, but I never fully grokked what this looked like on a moment by moment basis until this book. And this is only on page three of the book. By page five, these two paragraphs stopped me cold:

Police officers line the school’s sidewalks in front of the boys. They’re watching us, too.

I don’t bother looking back at them. The police aren’t here to help us. Their shiny badges are all that’s stopping them from yelling with the other white people. For all we know they trade in those badges for white sheets at night.

The rest of the chapter is just them getting into school the first morning, and it’s filled with hate, name-calling, intimidation, and it’s unclear if Sarah, her younger sister, and their friends are even going to make it in the building. They do make it in, after an almost mosh-pit incident and chapter/lie #2 is “I’m sure I’m doing the right thing” and the new students try making their way to their classes, worrying about getting detention if they’re late. Sarah rightly wonders “but if we have to deal with shouting crowds every day, won’t we always be late?” Makes dealing with traffic or any of the hundreds of other things that made me late over the years for school and work seem more than a bit insignificant in retrospect.

That first day is marked with students screaming at them to go home, threats to them, spitballs, milk being dumped on her, and pencils being bored into Sarah’s back. But we also get the set up for her closeted lesbianism and her budding crush on Linda, a red-haired student.

My mind is running to scary places. The images come too fast for me to stp them.

I imagine what it would be like if I were alone with the red-haired girl. How it would feel if she smiled at me with her pretty smile, and I smiled back, and-

No. I know better than to think this way.

I can’t take any risks. Especially not at this school. If anyone found out the truth about me it would mean – I don’t even know what it would mean. I only know it would be horrible. It would be a hundred times worse than what happened in the parking lot this morning. A thousand times worse.

As the day progresses, there are more lies. “I don’t care what they think of me,” “I’m not lonely” and “They won’t really hurt me” forever” hit pretty hard. We learn that while Sarah’s father is in the NAACP, Linda’s father is the editor of the Davisburg Gazette. “He’s the one who writes the editorials opposing segregation. He’s also Daddy’s boss.”

Whelp. This story just went from star-crossed to totally fucked in two sentences.

There are bits sprinkled in about how the white people view the black people and one of Linda’s father’s editorials details how “Negro children should be taught only Negro teachers, for our own benefit, because no one else can understand how “uniquely” our brains work” but we don’t fully get the white perspective until a few more chapters in when we switch to Linda’s POV.

That set up was very telling of the privileged mind of someone who’s never had to examine her own biases and privileges. Linda’s first lie is “None of this has anything to do with me.” And the first sentence of her first chapter? “They canceled the prom today.”

Because the prom is CLEARLY the most important consideration at that moment. I swear, I’ve rarely wanted to slap a fictional character so badly as I did when I first read that. However, Talley knows how to skillfully turn that self-centeredness and build layers into the story very quickly. That first sentence was followed with:

Because of the colored people. Everything that happens now is because of the colored people.

If Daddy has to work later at the paper it’s because the integration teachers are making up stories. If I’m behind in English it’s because the NAACP forced the school to close last semester. If I get caught daydreaming in Math its because the colored girl in the front row distracted me.

Well, now. Apparently Linda is also taken with Sarah. But it’s disturbing to get into Linda’s head, even as skillfully as Talley brings us there. Linda theorizes, the first time she’s in a bathroom at school with Sarah, that “touching her probably feels like touching sandpaper.” Also that black people have a certain smell to them that “stink” up places. I think the most incredulous was that some of the white people wanted to know where the black people kept their tails. This kind of literal dehumanizing was clearly spoon fed to these people from birth and they just accepted it as fact. But what I love about this story is that we see and witness Linda as her thoughts change as she falls in love with Sarah.

Y’see, during that first time in the bathroom, Linda and Sarah get into a bit of a spat because Sarah dares to be anything but polite and deferential to Linda. This pisses Linda off to no end. At first, she uses it to justify her narrow world view:

Daddy was right. The Negro students think they’re entitled. They think their own schools – the ones set aside specifically for them – aren’t enough. They think they have to come for our schools, even if it means hundreds of us have to suffer just so a handful of them can be satisfied.

Linda doesn’t see that separate but equal rarely, if ever, actually means equal. She doesn’t see the suffering that black people have endured at the hands of white people for centuries. She can’t see beyond her own small corner of the world. But Sarah is about to change all of that. Because of the first convo in the bathroom, Sarah and Linda (and Linda’s friend Judy) are late to French class and the teacher decides that that means they’ll be grouped together for the French project.

Now Linda and Sarah have to figure out how to work together, but not only how, but where. Clearly they can’t be seen anywhere together in the white parts of town and it’s also likely not a good idea for Linda to be going to the black parts of town, either. Judy works in Bailey’s Drugstore in town, which has a back room that they can meet in because no one is in there after 4pm on a school day, so they all three agree to meet there. And that’s where the meat of the story really starts unfolding. I don’t mean to disrespect the desegregation parts at school, but it’s when the girls on by themselves and the mob mentality isn’t allowed to prevail that Judy and Linda can start to see that Sarah isn’t stupid. She’s not ugly. She’s not uppity or “entitled”. They begin to learn about the humanness of each other and that they’re more similar than each had previously thought, especially from Linda’s perspective:

The part about her parents and her church choir was strange to read. I’d never thought about what the colored students do when they’re not in school. Sarah must have a house somewhere. She must do things like help her mother with dinner or iron her clothes for church. The same kinds of things I do.

But this is one of my favorite parts of their conversation, after Linda calls Sarah and “agitator” like it’s wrong:

“The point is, we didn’t force your governor to do anything,” Sarah goes on.

“My governor?” I say. “He’s your governor, too.”

Sarah lifts her chin and looks me straight in the eyes again. “He’s not my anything if he doesn’t treat me the same way he treats you.”

My jaw drops.

“That’s anarchy,” I say quietly. I wait for her to take it back.

Sarah doesn’t even blink. “No, it’s not. If the law is wrong, we have to say the law is wrong.”

Linda freaks out about this and again, uses it to justify her views, calling Sarah a Communist. Sarah says she’s not but Linda counters telling her she’s going to tell her own father about Sarah being a Communist. She thinks she’s going “fix integration.”

Sarah very smartly asks how she plans to do that when Linda’s father doesn’t even know they’re working on a project together.

Linda’s list of chapters/lies for this section are little insights into her own mind:

  • None of this has anything to do with me.
  • I’m exactly who I want to be.
  • I’m sure I’m doing the right thing.
  • If I keep pretending, everything will be all right.
  • She’s wrong.
  • This doesn’t change anything.
  • I hate her.

The story truly unfolds from there and Linda and Sarah grow closer while the tormenting at school gets worse. By the end of that section, though, which is about halfway through the book, things come to a head between Linda and Sarah. And right after, we switch back to Sarah for next quarter of the book. Sarah decides that the best thing to do to combat how she feels about Linda is to ignore Linda and put her energy into dating Ennis, one of the other students integrating with her. As we watch her do this, we also get her internal process of how she doesn’t feel that spark with Ennis that everyone says you’re supposed to have with a boy…that she definitely has with Linda.

It makes an odd juxtaposition to Linda’s musings about her fiancee, Jack, and how the pin he gave her “means I belong to someone” and that “Jack is all I need. He’s more than I deserve” whereas when Sarah starts to think about marriage to someone, possibly Ennis, and having existential crises while theater goers are gossiping around her on date, she thinks:

I envy these women. I bet none of them ever doubted whether they should get married. I’m sure none of them ever had any unnatural feelings.

As she’s trying to puzzle this out, she keeps dating Ennis and she and Linda avoid each other. Until Linda seeks her out to tell her that some of their classmates are planning something terrible for the choir concert tomorrow. Because after initially being told they shouldn’t join any extracurriculars at the white school, Sarah’s incredible vocal talents get her into the school choir. The classmates tried to sabotage Sarah by not having an accompanist for her solo. However, Sarah handles it in her own, graceful way.

After this third section of the book, we suddenly get a change. The last section is called “Amazing Grace” and from there on, we get three chapters, one each from Linda, Sarah, and Sarah’s little sister Ruth. Those chapters are now titled with “truths” instead of lies, to mark the journeys that each of them has taken:

  • Truth #1: (Linda) It’s up to me.
  • Truth #2 (Sarah) None of them can touch me.
  • Epilogue, Truth #3: Ruth We did it.

These last few chapters wrap up decisions that Linda has to make, including whether or not to confront her father, what she was going to do about her fiancee, and, by extension, the rest of her life.

Sarah has to face some of her own demons, too. And some things that have happened to her classmates. One got hit with a baseball bat, one was nearly killed by a band of white boys, and then near the end of school, someone pees on her desk chair and the teacher tries to make her sit in it and won’t listen to why she won’t. The teacher gives a choice to sit or leave, so she leaves and goes right to the principal’s office. That conversation is fascinating as all hell to get into yet another white person’s mind from the time about on how all this looks and should work. But after what could’ve been a very disheartening meeting, Sarah left feeling not angry or sad, but more confident in herself:

I can keep sitting quietly, like a good girl.

Or I can get out the letter that came yesterday and decide for myself what happens next.

The book ends on Ruth’s chapter, “We did it” and we get to see Sarah graduating after a brutally hellish year at Jefferson High School and then a small window into where Sarah will go next. I like that there’s hope in this chapter and in this book. It’s more than I was expecting during a volatile, difficult time. It also seems appropriate that it passes to Ruth, who is the next in line to stay on to fight next year when she attends Jefferson High School in the fall.

Even given all that hope at the end, the thing I hate most about all this, though, is how relevant it all was to the current political climate. Today, in 2018, this was scarily too similar to the rise of Neo-Nazis and white supremacy and it’s horrific and depressing to think we haven’t come all that far in 60 years. There’s still more to fight, more to overcome, more to change, but I’m so glad that there are authors like Talley out there on the front lines helping to make that change happen one reader at a time.

[New Year, New You] Week 12 – Everyday You’re Hustling

So close to the last page of the writing prompts! I mean…it’s the longest page, what with ten prompts on it, but I’m almost there! I can do this! After this prompt, there’s only one more and then it’s the last page! I’m doing it! Look at me go! Thankfully, I’ve got some good momentum towards the hustlin’ I gotta do for this week.

So. What does hustlin’ mean in this context? From the original post:

I keep talking about breaking down your goals into small pieces. This week is about putting your money where your mouth is. I want you to keep a daily journal. In it, talk about what you’ve done that day to accomplish your goal(s). If you didn’t do something towards your goals, examine your reasons why. Were you really that busy or could you have taken a half hour to work towards your goals? What stopped you from making your goals a priority?

If there are days when you don’t do something that moves you closer to your goal, be sure to journal about what stopped you from getting there. This might be a good week to contemplate a phrase that’s often used in matters of the heart: Never make someone a priority when you’re only an option.

Have you made you an option instead of a priority? If so, it’s time to make yourself a priority so you can accomplish the things you want to accomplish.

Daily journal it is! Here is the journal from this past week, including steps for the day and daily tarot card draw:

Day one: (Card of the Day: Ace of Shells) helped a friend move. This challenged me to get over a fear from the last time I drove a big box truck (clipped a hearse…in a funeral processional…in front of a state tropper. I know how to do it up.) Thankfully, no hearses were harmed in the move this time. But I got my strongs on. Made my body active because one of my goals is to move more. Reached out to a friend for help and they were able to. Got a little sassy with them when we were parting ways, but it helped me establish better parameters. Passed along some vessels for a creative project they’re helping me with. Read a short story when I got home. Instead of going to quick fast food, I drove to Shoprite and bought a semi fast but way healthier dinner option (mmmmm, pad thai) and made that for myself. Took a delicious shower. Continuing my one card a day draw to get more familiar with my new tarot deck. 7702 steps.

Day two: (Card of the Day: Five of Shells) caught up on my two weeks behind writing goals and also started working on this week’s. Both posts focused on spirituality, which is a double bonus towards goals. Also, in the middle of the night, I felt compelled to do a 3 card draw about a situation I’m confused about. More confused, but I’m working on it. (Spread: Situation/Action/Outcome – Cards: Awakening, The Star, Love) Thanked friend for amazing tarot deck gift. 2378 steps.

Day three: (Card of the Day: King of Acorns) Opened up to a coworker about spiritual things. Listened to their stories and helped where I could and opened up to their guidance and assistance and knowledge. Still processing that. Might be it’s own post. Gave me perspective, though, on relationships, spirituality, my path, my abilities, some of my health issues. Stood up for myself in an argument. Asked a friend for help reseting my brain. I know that I have a lot of work and manifesting and challenges to go through yet and I’m already depleted and exhausted and just…want something good. Something that shuts my brain off. So I went to a friend I know who has the best track record so far to do that. Talked to a new friend about some poly and kink stuffs.  Also tarot. 1484 steps.

Day four: Day off from work! Slept waaaaaay the fuck in. Couldn’t fall asleep until around 4am and didn’t make it out of bed until around 2pm. Asked to reschedule an early morning meeting I had for a project I’m working on because I hadn’t slept. Turns out the meeting was the next day. D’oh! But yay for doing my best asking for what I need. Did some laundry. Set up dinner plans with best friend. Realized that that I really needed to see my therapist, so I apologized for the short notice but asked her for an appointment for Friday. She did. Awesome. Asked a close friend if they’d be available to talk anytime soon, because I sensed I was going to need support with some life stuff happening. Also wanted to get their feedback as someone whose opinion I trust. We set up a time to talk the next day. Didn’t get a response from friend about reset so I checked in. Turns out there was a tech glitch and my full message didn’t go through. Cleared it up and they agreed and are working on it. Realized when I was going to sleep that I didn’t do a daily card draw. Felt a way about it, but realized that I’ve been doing it very consistently, and my morning routine was very different because of morning phone call. Need to make sure I’m still paying attention to spirituality even when life changes. But also need to go with flow and not beat myself up abut not doing something. Don’t want to get locked into it becoming a crutch and superstition.  Worked a little bit on an event class me and a partner are developing. 1446 steps.

Day five: (Card of the Day: The Wheel) Day two off from work! Managed to get up earlier on time for early morning phone call, which went well. Had therapy. Also went well. Had phone convo with close friend about some major changes that I felt coming in my life and how some very life changing discussions were likely to be happening soon. Had lunch with another close friend to catch up and also talk about said major changes I felt coming. Had an incredibly hard, fucking painful convo re: some relationship things. 1941 steps.

Day six: (Card[s] of the Day: Awakening & Love jumped the deck. Actual pull was Five of Acorns) Crazy busy day at work. Took some time off from work to have lunch with best friend who was awesome and came to visit me at work to help keep me sane. Also good because they got something through to me that I’ve been having a hard time with. I need to ground and center every night. And it should involve yoga. Messaged back a new connection I met at Beltane to talk about future stuff. Stood up for myself and said when I wasn’t comfortable with something with someone at work. Sang. Didn’t accomplish much else in terms of creative or health goals (well, making sure I ate on a holiday weekend was good towards my health.) But had no energy to do anything else after I got home after 14 hours of work. 2075 steps.

Day seven: (Card of the Day: The Tower) Another crazy busy day at work. Stayed in touch with most of my Amazon Network for support. Got to know a new (to me) coworker and that was fun. My best friend recommended I try to keep positives in my heart and let them carry me. Had a good success with that. Left work early (yay for splits!) Had dinner with nesting partner and then decided to go see Solo. 1437 steps.

All in all, it’s a good-ish week in terms of goals, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

Here’s the shortlist of goals I’m working towards (from Week 2 of the writing challenge):

  • 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

And here’s a breakdown of how I did adhering to those goals this week:

Creativity: Wrote two posts and started working on two others. Sang almost every day, even if it was only just in my car. Did sing one day for coworker.

Spirituality: I’m doing well with spirituality, I think. Want to do better with actual rituals and manifesting. And read more about tarot. Learn both my decks better. But I’m doing my morning draws, learning various spreads. Talking with people about it to learn more.

Kink: Worked a little on class I’m developing with a partner. Reached out for reset. Worked on new groundwork for new connection. Talked a bit with dear friend about scene possibilities.

Health: I think I did stellar for my mental health this week. Therapy, looking for a reset, talking with Amazon Network, taking some time away from work for mental and physical health breaks for important things like connecting to friends and eating foods. Honoring my emotional and mental limitations. Trying to get enough sleep. Need to walk more. Need to eat better. Going to be working on a meal plan soon with a dear friend. Took my meds every day. Stayed pretty hydrated.

Authentic Relationships: Staying connected to Amazon Network, having really fucking difficult conversations and honoring the weirdness of relationship changes but also that love doesn’t have to look one way. Being fairly blunt and not letting my brain get into the same traps with certain people as it has in the past year.

Cleaning: This is the one I fail the most hardcore on. I’m in such a cleaning rut. I don’t remember which day it was, but I did clean one bathroom counter. Took care of the dishes a few times. Did some laundry. But otherwise, I really need to downsize more and quicker. Sell and give away stuff. Go through paperwork and clean out my car.

So now, I think I’m going to come up with some short term goals within the framework of these bigger, long term goals to help me keep working towards them. Can’t wait to work on that and next week’s writing prompt!

[New Year, New You] Week 11: Casting Out Doubts

So, I’m a week or three behind with my NYNY writing prompts. I have to keep reminding myself that I made a commitment to complete and I will, but it might take a little longer than the original challenge. My best friend has told me more than a few times to be gentle with myself and to go at my own pace, and I think I’m finally getting there. I purposefully waited until going to Beltane to do this week’s prompt because it seemed like the perfect place to do it. I was right, but not in the way I expected.

Y’see, this week is all about Casting Out Doubts. Pssssshh. It’s not like I have any doubts. At all. Whatsoever. *cue sarcastic, uncomfortable laughter that fades out into a sigh of defeat*

Fine. I have all sorts of doubts. That I’m not attractive enough. That I’m not spiritual enough. That I’m not sexy enough. That I’m not talented enough. That I will never have the life I want. That I suck at writing. That I’ll never make a living in a way that honors my values. That my voice isn’t good enough. That I’m not good enough.

I’ve been challenging myself to release videos once a month of me as I learn uke and sing. And while I’m proud of myself for doing it, I’m a month behind and every time I hear my voice and my still rudimentary uke skills, I cringe. Also, Jesus Christ, when the hell am I going to start eating healthier for the two hormonal conditions I have?

Also, I’m not exercising enough. I’m not dancing enough.

I have eleventy-bajillion relationship questions and evolutions happening in me that I don’t know how to reconcile. If you don’t stay married, what the fuck are you going to do? And how would you even afford a divorce if you wanted one?

Also, what the hell even is your sexuality these days?

Also also, the people you like and/or are attracted to do not think about you nearly as much as you think about them. Chill the fuck out. Because you’re never going to get what you want in that regard. That magical feeling you’ve found a few times with some people will never be something you can sustain. It doesn’t exist for you because you’re too fat and old.

And how are you going to get another car because yours is dying soon. Fuck, and if you don’t have a car, how will you make money? Also, how will you stave off the anxiety attacks of not having a car? You’re never going to be able to just buy a car that you love on your own like normal people who go to a dealership and pick out something they actually like, not what’s given to them.

Where will you live after this house? You know you’ll never be able to have the poly creative commune that you dream about, that you yearn for, where you’re surrounded by and inspired by people you care about and can teach, travel, write, sing, and dance for living. That’s just stupid. Because you’ll never find a career or cobble together a career that unifies the things you loved about your last job without all the madness and negative chaos that also came with it because that’s just not poss…

FUCK. PLEASE JUST STOP.

It has to STOP.

Like the post this was inspired by said:

We need to free ourselves from this horribly insidious, inner voice that wants us to never try, to never dare, to never dream, and to never step outside our little boxes. It sure as hell doesn’t want us to succeed, despite living inside us. It’s a really shitty team player because it tries to put on its Concerned Face and tell us how it’s only looking out for us and doesn’t want us to be hurt or rejected.

This voice is a lying, lying liar! It’s not concerned! It just wants to be comfortable, even if you’re miserable right now. It doesn’t want you to change because change is hard and scary.

Comfortable misery (or status quo) is good enough for this voice.

Do you feel uncomfortable right now doing this Experiment? You should. That’s how you know you’re doing this right. That’s what’s riling up that annoying, horrible voice inside you to triple volume . You are freaking it out.

Well, then. Yes. All of that. I am freaking out that horrible voice inside me. It’s in full-on panic mode currently, as all levels of life are in a flux and I feel myself moving into a new major phase of my life with no idea exactly where I’m going.

So what to do about it?

Again, from the original post:

There are two approaches to dealing with this Horrible Voice (HV):

1. The HV is like a scared child inside you. It may be your scared child inside you (or Talking Self or Fred or whatever you want to call it). Regardless of its name, HV is bugging out right now because HV is terrified. You can try talking to HV and see if you can soothe HV or get HV to open up as to why HV is being such a colossal pain in the ass. You can explore how to get HV to stop.

2. HV is shitty energy you’ve collected from yourself and others. It’s time to get rid of it. This can be done by washing your hands with salt. (Wash towards the sink, away from your body.) As the salt washes down the drain, chant, “Seeds of doubt, I cast you out!” Or you could use a method of your own choosing to banish the negative energy.

Like I said, I waited until Beltane to deal with this HV. I was totally expecting to go with the second option and actually, ritually cleansing and casting out the doubts with salt and chanting. Turns out, Ramblewood had other plans for me. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook while there:

Talking to my Horrible Voice (HV) tonight. In a field under the stars. Unsure of where to go. Wanting to dance but not feeling drawn to the drum circle fire pit nor the dance party. What if I look stupid? They are all thinner. Prettier. Done up in Bellydance gear or birthday suits. I don’t look like I fit in. Or they’re all ravers twirling things. I’d look so out of place.

But also…also thinking that maybe I’d go topless. Around people. Ones I know, even. And strangers. That scares the fuck out of me. But maybe…

The thought I had as I picked the liminal place as I so often do, between the fire circle drumming and the barn techno raver dance party, was:

what would happen if you just…stopped? Stopped caring what that HV said. Stopped being afraid of your body and people’s reactions to it?

And this feeling of peace washed over me. I mean, it was already peaceful as hell in the field. But then I let the energy of the drumming and fire and dancing and the earth under me take over and thought:

What if? What if I just opened myself all the way up? Was my full Goddess self? What if I held that scared inner child who grabs a megaphone and spouts terrible things to protect herself? What if I held her sacred and told her I got this? I got her. I got us. And what would happen if I turned my magic all the way the fuck on?

She felt okay with that. She put the megaphone down, but she’s still got it within arm’s reach. We’re going to work on working together now. Thankfully, during the 7 day yoga challenge I still have yet to write about, she and I started talking a bit so it was a bit easier once I got to Beltane and had the magic of Ramblewood to help facilitate more in depth conversations with each other.

It’s funny; the original post had the above-mentioned two suggested ways of dealing with the HV. Before Beltane, I kept thinking that I had to get salt to do this because we were out of salt. I kept forgetting. And I didn’t realize until after I’d gotten back from Beltane that my spouse had picked up salt before I left. Turns out I didn’t need it after all.

[New Year, New You] Week 10: What Motivates You

This week’s writing prompt is about finding what motivates me.

Given that I’m currently taking part in four challenges (Body Positive Yoga [physical & artistic], Cannonball Read 10 [reading & writing], posting my top 10 favorite albums [it’s silly in the grand scheme of things, but it’s helping keep me going with regular reminders of things that inspire me] and this New Year New You [writing]), I’d definitely say “A Challenge” is high up on the list of things that motivate me.

Achievable, understandable goals are definitely on the list. If the goal is too big, or I don’t understand it well enough, it gets too muddled and too big and I give up. Sometimes, for bonus points, before I even start!

Connection is also something that motivates me. Nurturing healthier connections, learning, growing with those connections.

On a related note, surrounding myself with people who are motivated and also want to learn and grow and be healthy motivates the fuck out of me. My therapist and I have taken to calling the amazing circle of women that I’ve cultivated open, honest tribe ties with my Amazon Network. Because they are truly Amazons and I love them all in different ways. They motivate the hell out of me to be a better person and to love myself along the journey, and both are so necessary.

Music can motivate the fuck out of me, whether I’m listening to it or I’m playing/singing it, music has always been a driving force for me. Currently, this song from my past just popped up this week and is motivating me to keep going:

Adjust Your Dreams/Shining My Flashlight by Christine Lavin

What can you do
When it is clear to you
That your dreams
Will not come true

Where can you go
When everything you think you know
Disappears from view

You can hang your head
Roll over and play dead
Curse the world
And all it’s evil schemes

Or you can
Adjust your dreams

Just a trace of gold in the leaves today
There’s just a touch of gray in my hair
The stream along this road runs a little colder
There’s a hint of a chill in the air
The blue sky is fading into purple
Late afternoon is gliding to a close
With my hands on the wheel
I wonder how it feels
If you’re the last bloom of the summer
Or the first autumn rose

So I pull off this highway
Drive these winding roads instead
Thoughts of the bad years
Disappear ’cause up ahead
Off in the distance is a strange and soothing sight
The mountains look like sleeping manatees this cool September night

I leave the car by the roadside
And I hike up that hill
Stars circle in slow motion here
As they always will
A million miles away
From where I was this afternoon
I wrap my misgivings in a tune
While I’m Shining My Flashlight On The Moon

 

[New Year, New You] – Week 9: Lessons

This week’s writing prompt is one of reflection. Has it really been 9 weeks since I started this? It feels like longer. Well…technically, it has been longer. I started on December 28th. That means it’s been 14.5 weeks. Which makes sense, since I lost about a month to the explosion and resulting dumpster fire from my old job. But we have to keep on keepin’ on, right?

So I picked back up and now I’m mostly on the weekly schedule, give or take a day or two. But still….it feels longer than even that 14.5 weeks. There’s just been so much that’s happened. Said dumpster fire, a break up, heavy conversations and considerations about how I need to move forward with Relationships, starting a new job, starting to write more frequently (six out of seven days this week!), asking for lots of help, working through a  fuckton of fear, changing perceptions about many people I thought I knew, ceasing kink for a while to reassess my foundation and communication, picking it back up slowly, all those resulting conversations, reclaiming my Pagan roots and practicing more, financial and health concerns, a national conversation about SESTA/FOSTA, Stormy Daniels, and the latest chucklefuckery of 45. It’s been a fucking LOT.

What have I learned? That I have to keep going in the direction of the next best step. That incremental change is more than good, it’s necessary. That even though I may want certain things right now or be afraid that I’ll never get them/there, I have to slow down and, as we’re told at work, trust the process.

Oh, if only one of my first therapists could see me now. Richard was the first person I came out to. And I was fucking terrified. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. I was being raised by an activist mother who taught me that I could be whatever I wanted, and I knew she’d love me no matter what my sexuality. But I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about being, at the time, a lesbian. And forget trying to tell my dad. That was not something I’d have courage to do until about twenty years later when I handed him an invitation to my poly wedding – to one man (whom I was already legally married to) and one woman. I figured two closets for the price of one invitation, right?

But when I was sixteen, I had some serious arrested development and bone-level terror. Of myself, the world, the future. Richard was one of the kindest, open people I’d ever met and I felt comfortable with him. Still, I was scared. I think it took about two sessions for me to say the words aloud. And I couldn’t look at him when I did it, because I was so afraid of what I’d see in his eyes. Disgust. Derision.

But there was none of that. There was only warmth and a slight gleam in his eyes. Through more sessions, I think he said he had an idea of what I was trying to get out but wanted me to get there on my own. He was very big on “the process”. Everything was “a process”. It used to make me so mad. When he was about to say that something was “a process” I would glare at him and tell him he better not be about to tell me it’s that fucking p-word. He would chuckle. But now over twenty years later, I’m learning how right he was. You can’t read a book all in one second. Or listen to a song in a second. Things aren’t instantaneous. They take time to plant, cultivate, water, grow, flower. It’s a motherfucking process.

That’s probably the thing I’ve learned all too well over the past few months. That fucking process. And an important part of the process is starting.

One of my favorite books is “The Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation” by Dan Millman. It’s a short book that packs a punch about a guy who goes for a hike in the woods and winds up meeting a mountain sage. She takes him on a journey that’s marked by a few different chapters/laws that have major life lessons as titles. The Law of Action opens with the mountain sage telling the narrator to pick a direction when they come to a spot in the woods where the path diverges in three directions. The narrator points at one path. The sage repeats herself and tells him to pick a path. He points again, saying he chose that path. Getting more irritated, the sage tells him yet again to pick a damn path already fer fuck’s sake. Finally, he gets it and starts walking that path.

This has stuck with me for nearly two decades. Action is a requirement to get things that I want. I have to deal with, talk about, fucking process, and ultimately do. Walk in the direction of my dreams. Y’know, once I figure out what the hell they are for this part of my life.

Song of the week: “Believer” by Imagine Dragons

Singing from heartache from the pain
Taking my message from the veins
Speaking my lesson from the brain
Seeing the beauty through the
Pain
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

 

 

[New Year, New You] Week 8 – Asking for Help

I’m getting better at asking for help. Which is awesome, because this week’s writing prompt is about asking for help and I’ve already done it a few times in the past few weeks.

Here are the ways I’ve asked in the past few weeks:

  • asked a friend for help with writing check-ins so I can motivate my ass with some accountability
  • asked a friend for some help with spellwork
  • saw my therapist again and asked for help with figuring out what I’m looking for in terms of healthier relationships
  • asked nesting partner to take care of dinner twice this week and do a small round of grocery shopping
  • asked a friend for help with figuring out and talking about things I’m looking for in D/s and sex

I’ve also offered help to friends if they needed anything that I had bandwidth/spoons for, so it totally goes both ways. But I’m also learning not to just give and give until I have nothing left. It feels pretty damn good to be able to open up to accepting help from people I trust and also having them follow through.

There are a few other things coming up I know I’ll have to ask for help with, so I’m gearing up for that, as well. Overall, this might be a short post, but I’m glad for it’s being a writing prompt for this week. It’s important to be receptive to asking and accepting help on your path, especially if you’re on a path of discovery, adventure, change, and growth.

Song of the week: “Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs

Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and you worries.
Trouble me on the days when you feel spent.
Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?
Trouble me.
****
Spare me? Don’t spare me anything troubling.
Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and you worries.
Speak to me and let our words build a shelter from the storm.
Lastly, let me know what I can mend.
There’s more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see.
Trust is what I’m offering if you trouble me.