On Thoughtworms and Mother Wounds

For the last few days, there is this bit of audio that keeps playing in my head. It’s a quote that’s stuck on loop. This often happens to me a lot. If for others the tendency to get songs stuck in your head is called an earworm, my head is one of those little styrofoam cups of nightcrawler for sale in gas stations and bait shops. This is not as fun as the chorus to SOS by Glorius Sons (seriously, listen to this song).

This is a quote on repeat. There is no hook, there is no musical accompaniment. Its just words. And they won’t go away.  I can hear it as clear as day, over and over no matter what I’m doing, no matter what’s going on, no matter whatever else I’m blasting in my ear canals to try to cancel it out. It’s in there, burrowed down deep inside like a parasite.

It’s my mother voice, nasal and deep fried and tainted yellow by cigarette smoke snarking

You see your Hell here on Earth.

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As I’ve said earlier, religion was never a strong point in the household I grew up in. My father was a lazy Methodist. My mother only cared about God when she could use the idea as a means of punishment. So they were Christian in nature but not knowledge. They knew what most ignorant Christians do. In the way that anything other than what they say and what they believe in is wrong. So, people of other races, religions, sexualities, nationalities, etc were wrong. Now we didn’t attend church or pray as a family, but as kids we weren’t allowed to say “bad” words (butt, suck, hate) or cut our hair. And good ole Mom used to brag that she knew more about the Bible than the Jehovah’s Witnesses that would come to my great grandma’s house.  Which is funny because growing up the family Bible was always located in the back of the trailer in the cabinet above where the washing machine was. The laundry detergent spent more time with it then she did.

The core of this is that while she may have put on airs about it, she was not a Godly woman. She was not a woman of Christ. And by that same token, she was not a learned woman either. So her view on where you found your own personal Hell was not as philosophical as it may have sounded. This phrase that she was repeating in front of baby me, enough times to burn it’s way into the core of my memory, was not a lesson in being responsible for your own actions. Or for being aware of what your actions create. It was nothing so beneficial. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

It was a trip wires laid across the field of my childhood. It was the passive-aggressive moanings of an unhappy woman who regretted the decisions she made. It was someone who didn’t want to be there and wanted those around to know that they were the reasons she still stayed. My mother had made her own Hell, and I was a part of it. And no matter how good my grades were, no matter how good my behavior was, and no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t make Hell any better. And she kept letting me know.

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My issue with the phrase is, as a mother (and trust me, I know the annoyance of using that phrase) why in the world would you use that as arsenal against your own children?i understand there is no making sense of abuse caused by untreated mental illness. I understand there are just people who shouldn’t be parents. But somehow you’d expect that sort of nihilism to be either explained or sugared if it was going to be force fed to children right?

The other thing that is troubling me is that I can not get this out of my head. I do not want to have this woman and her issues taking up any more space than needy in my already cluttered mind. Usually, the only way to rid myself of an earworm is to listen to the full song. Recently, it was “X” by Poppy. I got it stuck in my head and then listened to it a few times and boom, it was out of my head. (At least, until now cause I’m totally listening to it again.) But I can’t do that with a quote from someone I have no interest in communicating with.

Also, it’s kind of hard not to see the world as a being a little bit of Hell right now. Maybe its not coincidence that I started hearing it around the time of the Christchurch shootings. Part of me is wondering if maybe the old bag is right? Maybe we make our own Hell. Despite her own ideas about the afterlife and her facade of belief, is it true that the worst torture we can face is being alive? Is living the ultimate punishment? Is this world the worst place we can be? What’s better than here?

I don’t think I need to go into why giving thoughts like those even a second of time is dangerous. Thinking this world has gone to shit and there’s no relief coming doesn’t leave much room for growth. It doesn’t leave much room for living. It doesn’t leave much room for anything. And that’s not true.

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There is room for love. There is room for life. And there is room for all the good and bad things that come with living. Living is not a punishment. Yes, sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes there are things and people that make it worse, but being alive and being free and being HERE, is not hell.

The idea of Hell, with it’s demons and torture, has no place in our existence here on Earth. We can make decisions. Good or bad, they are all part of our story. We can make better ones and change our path. If we need to be better, we can try. We don’t have to turn our pain into poison to try to sicken those around us.

Look, I’m just shy of my mid 30s.  I feel that I’m almost too old to keep picking at this mother wound. For what it’s worth, it’s smaller than it’s ever been. I feel like it’s got some nice scar tissue forming on it now. I got to test it’s thickness out not too long ago with a chance Wal-Mart encounter and it did just fine. But every once in a while, the damn thing itches. This must be one of those times. Hopefully, talking about it here will exorcism this thoughtworm from my brain and make it go away.

You do not see your Hell here on Earth, Dear Readers. Your existence is not hell. Please believe that. It is the wonderful, messy, beautiful, scary, amazing, thing it is. And it and you are not a bother to anyone. Don’t listen to any entity that makes you feel otherwise. 

 

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Mercury is in Gatorade or Some Shit

I know, I know it’s silly and potentially lame, but it’s hilarious right?

Every time that image comes up during a retrograde, I laugh myself silly. And by ‘laugh myself silly’ I really mean snort heavily through my nose and either one of the children or one of the cats at me funny and judgey.

And if you want to listen, I will tell you why.

In this big landscape of witch life and metaphysical living, there is so much seriousness. As all religions do, we take ourselves seriously. As we should! Our beliefs have been second classed and ridiculed for as long as we can remember. They’ve been turned into a sideshow and a running gag, a source of amusement and ticket revenue. And for some of us, they’ve been, scarlet letters that have led to discrimination, punishment and not even that long ago, death. So I fully understand why carrying the old ways are so heavy.

So it must be that heaviness that gives me a giggle when something that pokes fun at an idea we put stock in, like Mercury Retrograde, comes around. Maybe my humor is misshapen in that messed up “I grew up in the 90s” sort of way. Maybe I’m a little callous. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. Maybe a laugh is a laugh and we should take them where ever we can get them. Who knows what’s wrong with me, in the words of the Prophet Lady Gaga, “ I was born this way, baby.” What I do know is that as of March 5th Mercury is in Retrograde again and all jokes aside, that can kind of suck.


So that being said, what’s the deal with Mercury being in Retrograde? What does it all mean? And why are people so afraid of it? I’ll explain ( and throw in my two cents since I know you’re just aching for that, too)

Astrology, while not my strong point, is something that I do love and respect. Like a lot of you, it was my first taste of divining. Our study of the celestial bodies and their positions and their effects on our lives is so much a part of everyday life you’d be hard pressed to find a newspaper that didn’t carry some sort of astrology report in them. Retrogrades, however are a bit of a step up from basic horoscopes and sun signs.

The big bad Mercury retrograde happens when it passes by earth in its orbit around the sun. Being closer to the Sun than we are,  Mercury has a smaller journey than we do. Because of this, it passes us three times in one year. For us down here looking up, it appears that Mercury is moving backward during these times. That is what we mean when we say that it’s entering retrograde. It’s not actually reversing itself in the sky, it’s just taking an alternate direction. This quick passing is what causes swift and turbulent energies to shake up our flow down here in our Earthly living. And oh, boy does it. This time, the event will last from March 5th to March 28th.

It’s long been held that Mercury retrograde is a time where things get a little screwy. Communications have a way of getting polluted, plans have a way of getting corrupted, and ideas have a way of getting infected. Basically, we all get thrown off our rockers. That’s why during this time, it is wise to not only watch what you say but watch what you do.

Contracts, leases, job offers, and other important business/official papers should probably not be signed. Big and heavy conversations? Those need to wait too. I’ve read that you both should and should not undertake mechanical and technical work. I’m not sure which is the best advice, but I hold true to the idea that if something can break or fuck up it’s probably going to during this period. So maybe tend to the things you love to keep them in working order and keep them from coming down with the Retro Blues.

This goes for your body as well. Your physical and spiritual/emotional self can be wrecked by the effects of a retrograde. Be well. Take time for yourself. Give yourself space and allow yourself the distance you need to keep yourself from exploding over things that don’t deserve explosions. Allow others the same provisions. We are in relationships, not a war.

With that being said, I would like to stress this. And I’m going to say it real loud for those people in the back.

YOU CAN’T BLAME YOUR SHIT ASS ATTITUDE ON THE RETROGRADE.

Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But just like before you knew about the path of the planet Mercury you are 100% responsible for your own actions. So don’t be an ass and try to blame it on Mercury, ok? Own up to your own shit. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine all the time. Just don’t deny your rain clouds and thunder when someone calls you on them.

If we believe in our personal powers we must be responsible for every aspect of them. We must honor ourselves as well as our actions. All of them! Not just the ones we are proud of. So we can just blame an unattached, fleeting outside source when we want to act a fool. We can’t go around half-cocked and then just willingly cast blame on something we know can’t be held accountable. Dollars to donuts, the lot of us aren’t werewolves. We don’t just change because something in the sky chances too.

So as this Retrograde wears on remember, it can and will probably affect us. It may make things go a little wonky. But ultimately, we are in charge of ourselves. We have to make the decision not to let the disruptions of the energies around us control us. Our flow might get fucked up, but we will be okay.

It’s just Gatorade after all, right?


Grocery Store Talk

Before we get to the main attraction, a little State of The Union type update (minus that insanely annoying Cheeto colored man)

Oh Dear Readers, where oh where have I been?

Here. I’ve been here. Stuck in the same muck that has rendered me as creative as a white crayon on a white piece of paper. The first two months of 2019 have stunk. It’s like a holdover from whatever sticky spiritual substance made the end of 2018 feel like cement has seeped into the first few months of this year. It’s like a hangover that just won’t quit, no matter how many cheeseburgers and aspirin you have.  It doesn’t help that it’s rained almost every single day and I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in half a damn year. The brief time I spent in the Pacific Northwest had more sunshine than we’ve had recently.

I’m still taking my antidepressants if you are curious, and I guess they are still working. I can not fathom how hard life would be right now without them. I’m guessing without them, instead of just feeling uninspired and stressed, I would be crumbling and ruined either always or never asleep. For now, I’m functional, I’m performing, and no one is writing complaints about my behavior anywhere yet. So there’s that?

I’ll take small victories where I can find them.

Now, as they say, on to the show.

I was at my local grocery store ending a quick toilet paper and energy drink run when I pulled my cart towards the checkout lanes. It was Sunday morning and the church crowd was just starting to get out. And by that I mean, the old ladies with their hair all set were just starting to bum rush the store.

I made a quick pick as to which lane I was going to take and skirted my cart to the 12 Items or less line.  Which just so happened to be headed by a cashier I knew in that small town kinda-sorta way. I’d gone through his line a few times and made random chit chat with him about random shit before. The last time it was about Adventure Time and how awesome and not okay we are with the show ending. (How did that conversation even begin, you ask? Well, I have an Adventure Time purse. And a daughter named Marceline.) He is a cool dude and always good for a laugh. A stranger that makes an everyday occurrence a little more fun.

That day was no different. I placed my items, more than just the TP and energy drinks of course, on the belt and waited my turn. As the customer in front of finished up, I greeted Cashier Dude with a smile. We passed pleasantries back and forth while he scanned my first few items. Then he asked if I’d like my ideas packed in my bag or the store’s plastics. Having only brought in my purse I was caught off guard and responded with a “Wait, what?” Seeing as how the purse I carry (which was a wonderful gift from an even more wonderful friend) is big enough to haul groceries in, the confusion was easy to understand. We shared a laugh over the humor in carrying Italian sausages in your purse and my admittance that I was going to be thinking of that for the rest of the day. It was a lighthearted fun interaction that made a mundane task a little bit better.

Then, while I was looking for that one specific plastic tab on my keyring full of plastic tabs to scan for some sweet discounts, it happens. Cashier Dude looks at me while doing the international hand sign for necklace and says,

“I like your..” and then a pause..”…um. Hey, are you Wiccan?”

Of all the questions in all the grocery stores in the world, that was not the one I was betting on having asked of me.

But you best believe I was going to answer it. Right after I remembered what necklace I was wearing. It’s such a normal thing for me, I kind of forget it’s there. But around my neck, I wear a necklace with a pendant that was a gift from my #bestwitchforlife and a small silver pentacle. So when my fingers got to my necklace I realized exactly why he was asking.

“Nah, I’m Pagan. Wicca is just not my thing. It’s not for me.”

And here is where the worry kicked in. While I am truthful in my beliefs, I do not want to be disrespectful to others. We have enough heat from God’s crowd. We don’t need infighting and wand measuring. So, going by my intuition I knew that Cashier Dude had some stake in The Craft, but I didn’t know exactly how he took his tea if you get my drift. And while Wicca really is NOT the shoe that fits me, it could have been for him. So my feelings on what I see as faults in Wicca were not to be discussed there in the fluorescent-lit grocery store.

Cashier Dude chuckled and responded with a knowing nod and said, “Yeah, Wicca is  like that.” Then we shared one of those looks that translates roughly into “Shits cray, right?”

Before we could delve deeper into the conversation, the card reader started telling me that it had read my card and prompted me for my PIN. Then he was handing me a receipt. He thanked me for shopping, I thanked him for cashiering and we wished each other a great day. And off into the rainy day I went. With smiles all around, the moment was over.

But it stuck with me. First because in this area, there’s not much conversation about religion that isn’t about the Christian God. The last time I was asked about religion at that store it was by a Jevohah’s Witness. (Who was such a sweet lady!) The time before it was by a Church of God fellow (Who was also a very sweet person!) My point is, this is the Bible Belt. Christianity is THICK here. We have more churches than schools and although their flavors are different, they all have the same main ingredient. And like the lactose that keeps me from being able to enjoy all the flavors of ice cream, it’s the one that keeps me away. It’s not my jam, it ain’t my thing, I want none of it even though its everywhere and on everything. Not saying that I hold it against anyone that does. Everyone is free to practice what they want. It’s just the predominant religion and lifestyle here.

Second, to have someone agree that maaaybe Wicca isn’t the end all be all of the Pagan experience is a home run in my book. Once again, I am not trying to drag Wicca through the mud. But still, having someone agree that the Rule of 3 Ain’t For Me feels good when for a long time you’ve been feeling like the odd kid out. I’ve tried Wicca and while there are things from it I do like, I just can not see myself as following that path. Which is why I always try to vet the classes that are offered in the workshops and meetups in the area. While we can always learn from each other, there are some things I’d rather not have to unlearn.

Also, just having someone to talk to about it, in person, is nice. Even if it was a brief, it was nice. So many of my witchy, Pagan friends are online (Hell, most of my adult friends are online). Being able to talk about beliefs aloud without getting the condemnation to Hell talk immediately was more powerful than the contents of the energy drink I purchased. Especially right now. I’m kind of treading water in my day to day life, if you can’t tell. So for the Universe/Goddess/Whatever to drop this moment of  “HEY YO!” on me out of the blue was nice. It was a little wake up to remember what is important in all the bullshit and not forget it.

And to top it off, the whole encounter got me to sit down and write this all out for you Dear Readers. So for that alone, it was worth it.

We never know when these chance encounters are going to change our lives. That is why we have to be open. That is why we have to allow ourselves to be aware. And that is why we, above all, have to listen. Trust me when I say, living in the middle of your own isolation and worry will add to both.

Ever on, Dear Readers, ever on. Let’s enjoy the journey and try to experience life. And above all, let’s not forget what’s important. (And don’t worry, I’ll be holding myself to these standards too.)


Boomerang

She might be tiny, but her voice, especially at such an early hour, is not.

“Mommy! Can you spell DOUGH-DOUGH SIGWA on my Ken-dal?” she yell-asks with just a bit of budding Southern accent in her adorably electric, and often ear-splitting, 4-year-old voice.

“Dough-Dough Sigwa” is actually JoJo Siwa and if you haven’t been introduced to this piece of saccharine sweet, ultra bright, hyper AF pop culture money machine, let me introduce you.

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JoJo Siwa is a 15-year-old dancer, actress, singer, and Youtuber who started on the Lifetime show Dance Moms (not as a mom, but as a kid, duh) and then branched out to create her own brand. That brand now includes a personal vlog, a clothing and bedding line, and a singing and acting career. Her Youtube channel is her go to HQ where she shares her everyday life blogs about her love for her family, her touring schedule, and her obsession with crazy hair accessories. It’s also where she releases her music videos. And that’s what lead to her to being introduced to our house. Because apparently, her songs complete are bangers for the 15 and under crowd.

The one that gets the most play our house is the song “Boomerang”. It gets played multiple times a day. MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY.

The lyrics are uplifting, positive, and talk about persevering no matter what hardships happen. It’s about not caring what people say about you and living your truth. It’s about always coming back no matter what life throws at you and never letting anything get you down. It’s a true hype anthem and really is a good song that breeds positivity and self-love power. 

And it really is fun to see a 4-year-old rock out to.

But in all honesty, I really, really, dislike that fucking song.

It’s so bubble gum sugary pop that I’m pretty sure my ears are getting cavities every time I hear it. While the message is exactly what I feel little (and big!) girls and boys should be hearing, my inner music lover is kind of grossed out by the mass-produced auto tuned side of it.

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I won’t lie. I’m no music saint. I’m not one of those hipsters that likes to tell you that I only listened to it before everyone else started liking it but hate it now and can also detail how your favorite band sold out.  I’ve listened to my fair share of shit music too. But this stuff makes me feel the same way Britney and N’Sync did when they first came out. Like it’s catchy, I get it, but so is the fucking flu.

But that’s the point for things targeted to the under 15 demographic, isn’t it ? It’s all about this shiny new thing and how fast you can get these young people to fall in love with it. As someone who is way older than anyone in that bracket, all of it sounds like hogwash to me.

But me not liking it, doesn’t mean I can’t respect it.

My daughter digs this stuff. And I’m sure thousands of other people’s daughters dig it too.  JoJo Siwa has 9 million subscribers. That’s 9 MILLION!!  And she has a Nickelodeon deal and a tour that is coming near my house in June. ( I will not be telling the young JoJo fan in my house though because tickets start at $121 and gods have mercy, that seems like the most expensive hell I can think of.) So either she or someone who is in charge of her team has some serious hustle.  And on top of all that, her music and videos promote positivity. There’s no hate mixed in there. It’s uplifting, believing in yourself, straight up power.  And that’s what the younger generation needs. Hell, that’s what we all need.

We all have to find places and things to recharge and uplift ourselves. I reread Witch by Lisa Lister, carry around rocks, and listen to 90s grunge when I’m feeling drained. (Note to self: Put on In Utero and read that book again, you’re still running low). My husband likes to go to the range and fire off some rounds. We all need these things that give us our center and bring us to our happiness. And if for my little miss that’s singing and dancing along with this brightly colored decked out 15-year-old wholesome pop star, then so be it.  I can put my taste in music and aesthetics aside and just let the kid have fun.

Let’s pull a page out of Marie Kondo’s book on this one.

Hold this music in your hand.

Was it meant for you?

No?

Then let it go back to who it was and let it bring joy.

It’s not your’s to shit on openly so keep your mouth shut.  

 I will not destroy the happiness of another just because I don’t dig it. It is not some weird power trip for me to flex my better taste muscles on those who like things I do not. It’s not about what I like. It’s about what brings joy to others.  I am not a slayer of joy, and you shouldn’t be either.

There are sometimes that keeping your opinions to yourself pays off. This is the lesson all these annoying things our children love can teach us. This is the lesson we should willingly be able to learn from them. They are often as much as our teachers as we are theirs. This is one of those times. 

So Little Miss is going to keep her JoJo fandom strong. Every day, just like she sings in her song, JoJo is going to come back like a boomerang, and I’ll get to hear it again and again and again. And it will irk me. And I could put on headphones and listen to a million other things. But then, I might miss getting to hear my Little Miss learning how to sing and dance along to a song that makes her heart light up. And that brings me joy.

So I think I’ll keep that.

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Lessons From The Road

I feel like there’s a lot you learn about yourself while driving in the middle of the night. As the lines in the road speed by and your headlights wash across exit signs, the road strips away the ignorance and pride from your plane of knowledge and reveals to you the truth.

The things you’ve just assumed and hoped were always true start to unravel and in those moments of dead air between the songs and the station identification breaks,  you can see where the cracks have always been. The reflection you catch in the windows is your own, but it shows you as you truly are.

You’re a mess. You’re scared. You’re out of your element and you really wish you had someone there with you. You can still see your crown, so you know you’re still capable, but you’ve noticed it’s slipped. You’re unsure. Most of all, you’re feeling less than you.

The road tells you these things. The destination not so much.

 

The Crown Slips

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Such was the case for me one night at the of the beginning of this month. After a day of being sick, my husband was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. Let me just state, one more time for the Universe to hear, diabetes fucking sucks. He has Type 1 and for some reason, his body decided to flip out and slip into diabetic ketoacidosis. As we have three children at home and are in the middle of flu season, I was stuck. I couldn’t go with him in the ambulance. I couldn’t follow behind with the kids in tow. On our previous trip to the local ER a year previously, I had learned that when the security guard says no one with children is allowed back to where the patients are, he really means it. And no amount of yelling and crying will convince him otherwise.

So I had to sit at home and wait for childcare to come before I could go and catch up. When I finally was able to join him, I was a wreck. I do not handle not knowing things well. Knowing that he was ill, possibly even gravely ill, and there was nothing I could do, drove me crazy. It was in that interim that I felt the crown start slipping.

 

I was at the mercy of those who I had asked for help. From the EMTs that transported him to the hospital to the ER workers who were working on him to the family members I called in tears, I was indebted to all of them. I had bent my knees before them and asked of them their service. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I felt needy. I felt like a bother. And to their credit, the hospital workers and nurses, the EMTs and staff never once made me feel this way on purpose. They were just doing their job. They were pleasant and kind and gave me so many words of encouragement.

When I finally arrived at our local ER, I found out the process to transfer him from our local emergency room to the closest regional Veteran’s hospital had not only already begun but had been approved. After an hour or so, he was placed back in the ambulance and taken off to a waiting bed in the MICU at the VA hospital that was an hour south of us.

I said my goodbyes while he was being loaded into back of the ambulance and walked myself to my vehicle. If I had ridden with him, I would have been stuck away from not just my kids and my dog, but my home and all my other responsibilities. Just because my world hiccupped doesn’t mean that it stopped spinning around me. So driving myself down would allow me to drive myself home when I needed to.

So I did what I had to do. I got in the truck and I cried. I cried and cried and cried. And then I stopped, pulled up Google directions, and drove off into the night.

 

The Road To ReCoronation

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There’s a pair of owls that live on my street. I’ve seen them cuddling each other while sitting on the tree behind my house. Sometimes, I hear them calling to each other during the evening from different trees in different yards. Sometimes, the crazy birds hoot during the day, when I just assume they should be sleeping. No matter where they are, no matter what they are hooting about, they make me smile. They make me feel like I’m at home. They make me happy.

But honestly, I as much as I love them, I am not one of them. I am so not a night owl. So my drive to the hospital was extra complicated. It was well after midnight when I left the ER in my city and the place I was going was, according to Google, an hour and six minutes away. Maybe it was my worry. Maybe it was my fear. But at some point, being awake well past my normal prime didn’t seem to matter. I’m usually going to sleep with the chickens. On that night, while taking the back roads that lead me to the Interstate, I was one with the owls.

It was this time alone that allowed me to think about everything that was going on. It gave me room to evaluate what was going on in my life and how I should handle it. The wheels and the road were just rhythmic enough to zone me out to a state of thinking where I was able to assess what was and what was yet to be. I was also able to face the reality of the shallowness of the pool of physical, local support my family and I had our feet in. These revelations were neither positive or negative at that time. Like the shadows my headlights created on the trees that lined the roads, they just were. The emotions from them would come later, when more time could be assigned to them.

I’m not going to incriminate myself and talk about my speeding on the way down there. But for the most part, the stretch of Interstate I was on was pretty empty. And I was lucky enough that none of South Carolina’s finest were working that area that night. I made it all the way into the single digit exits for the city and found where I needed to go. With it being the early morning hours, I was able to find parking and somehow found my way into the back emergency entrance of the VA hospital.

It was then, when I crossed that threshold, that I felt the crown straighten. The kind lady at the desk helped me direct me to the elevators and soon I found my way to the floor and then the room where my husband was.

I’d like to say it was a joyous reunion and that the night was one of those magical nights where the love of the couple overwhelmed whatever sickness was happening.  It was not a Disney movie type night. It was a night in an intensive care unit with someone who very ill and his significate other who was very worried. Nurses were in and out taking blood and doing glucose checks. There was vomiting and pain. There were machines beeping and malfunctions. And needles. So many needles.  And when there was sleep, it was fitful and separated by tubes and bed rails. For me, it was in a hardbacked chair with a pillow and a blanket kindly brought by a nurse who might have actually been more than just a human.

But we were together. I was there when he needed me. And even when he didn’t know I was there, I was there. And slowly, the crown righted it’s self on my head. I was fragile and unsure, but I knew what to do. I wasn’t helpless. I was able to step outside my fear and do my best for the ones I love. Even if that act was nothing more than holding a hand, rubbing a leg, or getting more ice chips.

 

Ever After

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Now because all of that happened, the rest of the first weekend of February was pretty much a shitshow. There were trips back home, trips to get the kids, frustrations about feeling like I was not getting what I help thought I should be getting. It was hard you guys. Being separated from where I felt I needed to be and expected to keep just pounding along like life was normal was excruciating.

But what could I do? There’s no option for curling up and crying until the hard parts are over. Slowly, the minutes turned to hours, the hours to days and after more worrying that I’ve done about anything worth worrying about, we got the notification. After recovering enough to be moved to a normal room and having his levels be normal for 12 or so hours, it was time for him to come home. So that evening, it was just a process of loading up the kids and making the drive down.

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It was a lot different this time. I was a lot different this time too.

The road didn’t hold the same amount of self-reflection in the daylight. Even though the sun had managed to slip out of the sky while we were driving, the car was filled with too much excitement, relief, and still nervousness for there to be any meditative feeling. It is a known fact that when you are traveling with children in the vehicle, any drive becomes less ‘Oprah Super Soul Sunday’ and more ‘Mad Max Fury Road’.

After getting turned around in traffic and entering through a non-entering way, we finally were reunited. And with him entering the car, it was over. The lessons we learned were not.

eyeboard

While his health is paramount here, there is a whole stream of things from this I learned about myself. I learned about the holes in my circle and the need to fill them. I learned that I need to believe in myself and my abilities more. I am responsible for so many people, wallowing in my doubt is just not an option.

Sometimes shit is going to go down and I’m going to be the one who is going to be one to hold it together. Whether I want to be the one or not. It’s just what it is.

I can’t rely on the road to remind me of that.

I have to wear the crown and all its weight in it’s full glory.
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Imbolc-less

As I’m sure you all know by now, I am not the best when it comes to keeping up with rituals and holidays. Not just Craft related, I even suck when it comes to, for lack of a better word, secular holidays. Case in point, the date of Thanksgiving always eludes me. As do the dates for Memorial Day, Easter, and Presidents Day. I know they are holidays but damned if I remember when and doubled damned if I know what to do for them.

So I hope you will forgive me if I don’t write you a refresher course on Imbolc.  I know that it is important and has major significance as it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox and is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. I know it is often seen as a women’s holiday and is one that centers around the goddess Brigid, especially in the Wiccan tradition. But this is nothing that you can’t find out via hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources. Most, if not all, will be written much better than this, I’ll bet. But for me, it’s just not something anything I’ve ever been about.

Imbolc had never called me the way other holidays have.

I don’t know if the weirdo kid in me was just predestined to feel more comfortable with Samhain once I fully learned about it or if the end of the year is just something I prefer.

Maybe its the timing of the year that makes Ostara feel right. I’m not sure.

And Yule, well it’s Yule!! Even if I say I don’t get hyped for Yule, I do.

But Imbolc? It just doesn’t work for me.

I know that’s not much of a thing to boast about but, maybe that’s just another part of the beauty of being an eclectic witch. You find what works for you and use it. When something doesn’t, well you can leave it behind.

The key thing to remember however is that just because one thing is not your scent of incense doesn’t mean you get to ruin it for others. With being on this grand adventure of eclectic witchiness comes some responsibility. Just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean those that feel it is are wrong. The converse is also true. Just because our path is roomy enough for some spiritual pick and choose doesn’t mean that those that stick to a more narrower version can gatekeep and try to keep us in their lane. It’s a two-way street, and if we all check our egos, it’s one that’s big enough for all us.

When the sticky parts of something as personal as religion and spirituality are discussed it’s hard not to be defensive. And for those of us who have lived for years in a society that has always made us have to be prepared to protect ourselves, we tend to walk around with our fist clenched. But when it comes to being honest, open and understanding among each other, it’s time to unclench those fist and listen. We have enough enemies. We don’t need infighting to pick apart what those on the outside would celebrate seeing undone.

So, me not being into Imbolc isn’t a big deal. If you are, that is awesome. I hope that your Imbolc is amazing. Whatever it is you have planned, I hope it is wonderous. I hope it is beautiful and brings you happiness. (And if you are going to share it, I want to see!! I might not be doing anything, but I love seeing others doing their stuff. I’m a pro selfie/picture sharing person. If it makes you happy, share it with the world. I want to see it!)

While a whole lot of us in the Americas are frozen right now, being reminded that Spring is on the way isn’t a bad thing. Knowing that the thaw is on it’s way is something to look forward to. Enjoy whatever makes you feel good inside and fills your heart.

You do you, Dear Readers, you do you.

The Blood Moon Eclipse

Excitement abounds!

Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon Eclipse!

Overnight from January 20th to the 21st, the Moon, who happens to look a bit larger thanks to its Supermoon status, will turn a bloody dull red color as it slips into the Earth’s shadow. The event will be visible in North and South America. Parts of Western Europe and African will also get to see the event as well.  

According to the site TimeandDate, for me, the partial eclipse will start at 10:33 pm with the moon getting a little red. The party will really begin around 11:41 pm when the total eclipse starts. It will reach it peak around 12:12 am and from there on start to decrease.

(Short unsolicited plug for that website: Just plug in your zipcode and boom! It will tell you the times, direction, altitude, and give you a nifty animation of the eclipse. And if you are boxed it, there are links for a live stream of the event so you watch from home. I stumbled upon via a google search and it looks to be a really handy tool.)

I am pretty psyched about the eclipse.
One, because duh, it’s a moon event. It’s pretty common knowledge, witches love moon events. I’m totally one of those “Hey look at the moon!” type people.

And two, it gives me something to look forward to, and a small goal to set in the continued effort to make myself better.

Staying awake at night is one of my current struggles. I have never been a night person, but recently? It’s like a hundred times worse.

Not an actual picture of me, but close enough.

I don’t know how much of it is related to emotional exhaustion and how much of it is actually being tired, but once it gets dark and we get the kiddos to bed, my brain pretty much shuts off. All of my evening plans get canceled and I end up pre-sleeping on the couch before I shuffle off to bed to sleep some more. And to top it off, that sleep isn’t even restful! It’s frustrating having a sleep schedule that rivals that of a retirement community when you physically have a lot to do and so many ideas you want to accomplish.

So this rare occurrence gives me something to strive to stay up for. Unlike the 20/20 on Jim and Tammy Bakker that I really wanted to watch that other night, I really feel I can achieve this.  (Listen, they were local and it was a huge scandal. Tammy Faye and her full face of makeup can never be forgotten. Also, I love stories about disgraced pastors. It’s a guilty pleasure I will never feel sorry for.)

My plan tonight is pretty simple. Seeing as how I’m more of a play it by ear witch than a ritual specialist, I plan to just spend some time observing the Eclipse. I’m going to take out some of my crystals out for charging, burn a new palo santo stick, and, until the cold makes me too uncomfortable, recharge myself under the Blood Moon.

While I am not an astrologist, I do accept that the eclipse and the full moon are agents of change. They are symbols that everything is in flux and that sometimes we have to be open to the shake-up of cyclic nature of the world around us. They are a reminder that all things, all ideas and more importantly, all struggles, are temporary. We are forever changing and experiencing growth. And if the Moon can travel into the path of the Earth, and change her color, while in the middle of her shape changing dance, we can change the things about us that we are struggling with.

And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty damn inspirational.

I hope no matter where you are Dear Readers, you take advantage of the Magick of the Blood Moon tonight. Even if it’s from indoors or online. Whatever you need to replenish and replace during this amazing event, whatever you need to heal or fix, I hope the Moon and her special event provide you some support and clarity.

Writing, Depression, and That Damn Blinking Cursor.

The longer I sit looking at the blinking cursor, the more it starts looking like an enemy. So if it’s going to taunt me with it’s blinking nothingness, I’m going to fill it with a whole bunch of uncomfortable realness.

When I decided to get serious about this whole writing thing, it was a lot easier for me to pump out content. I had a good stretch where I was writing what I felt was some really good stuff. Not just for the blog here, but for the few other sites that would occasionally pick up my pieces too. I was finally giving breath to the part of me that had always longed to breathe. And I was writing a lot. It felt like my fingers were trying out ideas as fast as my head could thinking them up. I was balancing all my life stressors pretty well, spinning the domestic plates with one hand and assaulting the keyboard with the other.

And it felt right. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was being a mom, a wife, a friend, and I was writing. I was checking off all the boxes of the things I had to be and the thing I wanted to be. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like more than just a homemaker. I was who I was called to be. I even got a poem published in a book. It really seemed that 2018 was going to be my year.

The hounds of depression nipped at my heels constantly though, even louder and closer than before.

I spent more time dragging my feet just to get through the day. Illness cost my husband his job and granted me the role of caregiver. His days became filled with doctor’s visits and physical therapy. And forms. So many forms to fill out. School became a challenge for my youngest son as he adapted to kindergarten. I had not foreseen it a struggle for him. I was wrong.  I addressed a personal health issue of my own and even began medication for depression. The nation took a huge leap into The Twilight Zone and each day brought a new headline of insanity. And slowly and almost silently, my ability to write as much as I wanted when I wanted, started drying up.

Sometimes things change without you noticing. Just little things here and there, that you are too busy to see. By the time you catch it and rush to fix it, it’s usually too late. That’s how this feels. It feels like maybe I’m pulling on the last fraying string of a sweater that’s already come mostly undone. (Weezer may have inspired this last sentence.) I know I talked about this in It’s Been A While, but I honestly thought by now things would be different. I thought I would have shaken whatever this was and I’d be back to my old self. That just doesn’t seem to be the case.

I have been writing. I was gifted this wonderful Complete the Story journal from Piccadilly by my sis in law and her SO for my birthday. Each page has a story prompt and the rest of the page is blank. I’ve been hand scribbling my stories in there when I get the moments. I even took one of those stories from the page to the computer and submitted it to an online magazine after sharing it with my best friend. I was so stoked about what I had created! I had thought that it had such potential. It was the first real bit of fiction I had pulled out in a good while that felt honest and real and more importantly, good. It felt like a real story with some real potential.

It was promptly rejected.

Honestly, It’s just frustrating. Being a writer is something I’ve always wanted to be. When I dreamed of it as a kid, being a blogger wasn’t included in the dream because blogs weren’t a thing then. (Someone fact check that for me. Were blogs a thing in the 90s?) But writing in a blog is as legitimate as being any other type of writer. I know I will probably never be an official, proper, make money out of it writer. I’m not the next Stephen King. My blog is enough. And now I feel like I’m not even doing that.

I’m not sinking, guys, I’m just momentarily stuck. I’m not out of hope. I have buckets of it, it’s just a little bit out of reach. I do want things to be better. I want to do better. It’s not like I’m just rolling over and letting life get the pin on me. I do intend to kick out.  Don’t try to count me out just yet, I totally mean to continue this writing, living, existing journey. I have no plans for an existential break. I have ideas and plans for the future. I’m just feeling a little low and a little unsure of myself.

Depression is real folks. And it doesn’t always look like what you think it does. It’s not all dark clouds full of doom and gloom. Sometimes it’s drying cement around your feet.  Sometimes it’s a new coat of paint covering what you once considered your reachable dreams. Sometimes it’s just the quiet whisper of “I told you so” from yesteryears’ ghost. Sometimes it’s trying to pour from an empty cup so long, all you have left at the end of the day is dust.

So, as the cursor continues to blink at me and I try to think of further ways to combat it, I ask this of you Dear Reader.

  • Keep reading. Not just my blog, but the blogs and works of yet to be bestseller writers everywhere. I don’t think there has ever been a time when it has been so easy to access the writings of so many people the world over.
  • Listen to your friends when they are excited to share with you their latest creations. Support the passions your friends have. Support what pours from their souls. Because one day they are going to feel like they are horrible at the thing they love to do. And it’s going to hurt them. It might make them want to pack all their creativity up and hide it away. For the love of all that is good, don’t let them.
  • While you’re at it, check in on those friends who have gone quiet. Check in on those who are always checking in on you. Check in on those who have their hands full and sometimes maybe press when they say they are “ok, just tired.” Because believe me, it is so much easier to say that you’re tired than to have to find a name for the way you’re actually feeling.

As for me, I’m here and I’m dedicated to making sure that 2019 is more than this treading water feeling. I’m not going to spend the year watching the paint dry over what I wanted to achieve. I want to get back to my status quo of creation again. Or at least, to a level that I feel comfortable with. I just want to be proud of myself again. And not taunted by that damn blinking cursor.


Book Review: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint By Nadia Bolz-Weber

I don’t know when or exactly why I stopped reading the Huffington Post. But at some point, I did. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t out of malice. HuffPost, for the most part, has long been right up my alley when it comes to journalism. I read them a ton when I was younger. There was even a time when Recent College Dropout Me fantasized about writing for them. But then she got busy raising babies and started reading TMZ between diaper changes. Her brain slipped a bit and those hopes slipped away. Younger me made some poor decisions (TMZ obviously, not the babies). Somehow, other than the passing hashtag on Instagram, I had almost completely forgotten about the publication. That was until one of their headlines ended up on my Facebook timeline.

And oh boy, was it a good one.

This Pastor is Melting Purity Rings Into a Golden Vagina Sculpture

I mean, how could you see that and NOT click on it?

The article talks about how Nadia Bolz-Waber, the lead pastor at Denver’s House for All Sinners and Saints and all-around kickass progressive Christian author and theologian, is working with artist Nancy Anderson to reclaim the idea of the purity ring. Their project asks people to send in the purity rings they were given as young people so they can all be melted down together to form a golden vagina sculpture. People who sent in their rings by the dead received a silicone ring of impurity and a certificate to boot.

In case you missed it, purity rings were part of some Evangelical circles back in the 1990s to the early 2000s. I even covered this topic in the early days of this blog with The Problem With Purity Rings. Basically, they were a yet again another gross way to try to force further control over young women’s bodies and sexualities. Bolz-Waber and Anderson wanted to use art to try to not only change but also recover from that. And that is pretty fucking awesome.

The article left me not only with an overwhelming sense of “Fuck yeah Girl Power!” for the day, but it also left me with some questions about this Nadia Bolz-Waber lady.

Lutheran pastors can have tattoos? There’s a queer-inclusive church in Denver called House For All Sinners and Saints? There are church people who are down with women having the right to have control over their own bodies and make their own decisions? And who are cool with art that has vaginas in it?

Obviously, I must learn more. Regardless of the differences in our beliefs, Nadia Bolz-Waber sounds like a freaking interesting person with a whole lot of interesting stuff going on.

So I did what anyone would do in our era, I googled her.

Then I bought two of her books.

The first one I read is the one I’m going to finally get around telling you about after this exceptionally lengthy introduction.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint was released in 2013 and is a wonderful blend of autobiography and living mission statement. The book chronicles not only Nadia Bolz-Weber’s struggles with her church and faith but also talks about how she got there.

The book opens with the definition of what a pastrix actually is. And for someone who didn’t actually grow up in the church but did grow up in the thick of the Bible Belt, it was as hilarious as it was helpful. (Have I ever told you about my great grandma’s sister who was am untrained female Southern Baptist preacher? I saw her anoint someone with vegtable oil once. That’s not really related to being a Pastrix but I felt the need to share.)

Following the opening definition, we are introduced to The Rowing Team and told about Bolz-Weber’s early days of sobriety and stand up comedy. The chapter sets the tone for the entire book because it shows exactly how open and transparent Bolz-Weber is with the audience. I was taken aback at just how real her writings were. For whatever reason, it felt alien to me to see a person in the business of holiness not having a completely polished and perfect image. I grew up in the land of Jim Bakkers and Tammy Fayes, Ted Haggards and Jimmy Swaggerts. We have megachurches here. We also have tiny churches with pastors who act like they have a megachurch. I am not used to people in religious authority being so open about their own dirt and more importantly, their own humanity. I’m used to overdressed and made-up plastic doll “people” not actual human beings full of faults, flaws, and four letter words. Bolz-Weber is an actual human being. Four letter words included.

The rest of the book continues with the same candid, honest communication as the first chapter. Bolz-Weber just does not sugar coat a damn thing. And it’s so fucking refreshing. Even coming from a Pagan standpoint, there are times where spiritual books get a little too saccharine for me. That does not happen here. Bolz-Weber is candid and honest with her struggles and never tries to paint them in a positive light. She does often find the cord that ties them to certain spiritual meanings. And I feel that is important. She finds God in the cracks, not just in the sunshine. That’s how I’ve often found connection with my path too. It’s never been the Goddess coming down and making flowers bloom on the path in front of me while moonlight perfectly reflects off some charging crystals lying on the ground. It’s been finding a connection to The Craft in the middle of the mud and gunk of life.

Speaking of, one of the chapters of the book even features a brief visit into the time Bolz-Weber spent with God’s Aunt, the Goddess. It’s about the few years she spent hanging around the Wiccan religion while she took some time off from Jesus. There is no talk of the evils of witchcraft, no talk of damnation, no talk of Hell. I’m not sure if that’s just the Lutheran way or not, but holy balls, it’s awesome to see.  It’s just her pleasantly remembering how much love was present and how awesome the female companionship was of the group was. There was nothing but acceptance and love towards group she was attached to and the people she knew. While I’m not a Wiccan, it did make my Pagan heart happy to see so much love for us Pagan folks.

Some of the stories in the book are so honest, you kind of feel like you’re reading a diary. What’s great about a lot of them is that Bolz-Weber isn’t always the one that ends up being the hero at the end. You can see her as just a real person, someone who, even though she is the pastor of a church and leader in the community, is looking for the answers too.

Nadia Bolz-Weber does not shy to share where she is cracked, or when she has dirt under her nails (there’s a talk in there about Jesus that will make you understand the reference in that sentence). She is open with readers about her struggles and questions and even the doubts she once had about the whole thing. She is equally as open about her belief and devotion. She doesn’t just pay lip service to being a person of the cloth. She lives her faith. The good parts, the easy parts, the rewarding parts, but that’s not all. She also proud lives the hard parts, the unsure parts, the sad parts, the bitter parts, the tiring and painful parts. And she’s not afraid to share it all.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to not only seeing the melted down purity ring vagina sculpture but reading the author’s other books in the future. Just because we don’t follow the same path, doesn’t mean we don’t take some of the same steps. I really feel that Nadia Bolz-Weber is an amazing woman who has a lot of world-changing ability. Also, we curse about the same amount, so that makes her writings really relatable and enjoyable to read.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If the mood strikes you, definitely pick up a copy. And since, like always, I am late to the party, totally check out the other books she’s written. I plan to.

And just as a funny add-on, there are a lot of mentions of places in the Denver, CO area in the book. Mr. ConjureandCoffee is a born and bred Denver native, having moved away from Colorado when he was around 10. So pretty much everytime a location came up, my South Carolina self would ask him “Hey babe, do you know where so-and-so is?” He quickly tired of my spur of the moment geography quizzes. I’m not sure why he puts up with me but I’m sure glad he does. 🙂

Finding Fault With New Years Resolutions

(I should tell you up front that the inspiration for this post came from a column I write for The Chronicle Star Facebook page. I churn those out weekly and this one got really got me thinking. I might repeat some things here I wrote there. So if you read both, don’t be surprised if this seems a little familiar.)

The holiday decorations are coming down, the strings of lights are being rolled up, and the torn wrapping paper remnants have all been thrown away. The stores are still playing Christmas songs but candy canes and holiday gift sets are now half priced. We’ve met our yearly family quota and now have at least half a years worth of stories to tell about how wonderful or fucked up they are to tell. The cookies were eaten (or thrown away) and leftovers stacked in the fridge. Christmas/Yule/Whatever You Celebrate is now officially over.

But wait, Dear Reader, that’s not all. When it comes to winter holidays, we aren’t out of the forest just yet.

In just a few days from this post, we will usher in the beginning of a brand new year. As we get ready to say goodbye to 2018, there is no doubt in my mind we are going to be seeing a lot of New Year’s Resolutions pop up on our social media feeds.

#NewYearNewMe is going to be everywhere telling us how this is going to be the year they turn their lives around and lose that 20 lbs or get that good job, or finally settle down and marry the right one. We read all these promises as to how the people we know are going to change for the better in the upcoming year. Just wait and see! It’s going to actually happen this time! It doesn’t matter if it’s the same resolution that’s been made ten years in a row. This year it’s going to happen.

And while I support anyone who wants to change and better themselves, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little at some of these resolutions. Maybe I’m a little cynical but it seems that very rarely do New Year’s resolutions actually work.

Because, to me, here is where resolutions are usually split. You have the people who make them and post them so they can feel they belong to the crowd. And you have people who really want to make a change.

The first group are the ones that make my roll my eyes. They are the obnoxious #NewYearNewMe crowd that fill your social media timeline. Deep down they don’t really care about changing themselves, they only want to be part of the fab. They are the same people who go extra crazy over anything at that is the hot thing at the moment. I see these people as those crazy fans you see in old clips of The Beatles. What ever the crowd is doing, they are doing too.

For them, the problem comes in when it’s time to actually put in the work. When it starts being less about internet cool points and being part of the herd and more about real life hard work, the dedication to reach those goals drops hard and fast, like flies under a bug zapper.

When no one online cares anymore or is too busy in their own lives to take part in a congratulatory circlejerk, most people simply stop. They take their resolutions, hang then on a shelf, and replace them instead with expertly crafted excuses. They spend more time and spirit to crafting up stories about why they quit than they ever did to their original pursuit. These people never wanted the “New Me” they talked about in their goals. They wanted to cash in on the fad of the moment by taking part of something. Not of changing themselves.

And I can kind of understand why. Changing yourself is scary. Changing things about yourself is hard. More than that, releasing that there are things that need to be changed is even harder. Sticking to a regime change in your life that takes your bad habits and throws them out the window is super difficult. Change is hard. It is uncomfortable. And more often than not, it’s lonely. So when we go to the internet to look for companionship or support and don’t find it, it makes it that much easier to just give up.

The other group of people who make new years resolutions are the few that actually mean it. They are the ones that know how hard it is and put in the work anyway. They are the ones still plugging away and busting their asses in March, April, even all the way into November and December of the year.  Those are the people who are serious about making a “New Me”. They are the people who have not just the dedication but also the discipline to accomplish the goals they set.

And that’s some really freaking hard work. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Forcing yourself to have discipline is one of the most strenuous things we have to do as adults. Being lazy is easy. Being lazy feels good. It’s comfortable to sit back and let things continue the way they always have been. That is what makes the difference when it comes to resolutions. Resolutions require work. If you aren’t actively working on them, they no longer manner.

That’s why, personally, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t fall into the #NewYearNewMe hype. Not because I have commitment issues. I mean, I might have some commitment issues. I had a hell of a time committing to this blog and I’m pretty sure there are half a dozen unfinished books laying around here. But I usually stick around to thinks I want to accomplish. My reason for not joining in on the resolution train is that I don’t do change well. And dedicating myself to change so much wouldn’t be something that would be good for me mentally. I wouldn’t be able to mean it. I wouldn’t be able to fully dive in. So I would in up just giving lip service to the act of change without actually doing that. And honestly, I’d rather not do it at all than half-ass it.

Real change comes from within. And until I’m ready to accept that, I don’t want to be one of those people just spouting off plans online so I can get likes and shares. Changes should be done for yourself, not for people scrolling by.