My Own Personal Spring

As you can tell by the amount of pollen that’s decorating the cars now, it is officially Spring.

And other than seasonal allergies, I’m pretty stoked about that.

With the rebirth and reawakening of the world around me, I feel a reawakening inside my creative-self as well. Which after the last few months, is a really good thing.

Life has been difficult, to say the least. My husband’s health problems continue to plague him. As a caregiver, I’m beside him as he deals with the highs and lows of the battle. (He has diabetes that swings wildly. It’s funny because it’s true.) My youngest son, My little Doodle, is struggling in school and at this time is on a waiting list to see a developmental pediatrician. After a lot of testing in school with the school psychologist and his personal pediatrician, there are concerns that he may be on the spectrum. We are almost functioning on a reduced income. So yeah, life is difficult. And when life gets difficult, you go into survival mode. And for me, the first systems that get shut down in survival mode are creative and spiritual. Flying on autopilot requires all only the most necessary systems to run. And I’ve been on teetering on autopilot for a while.

So my writing, creating, and connecting had all stagnated throughout the winter. Writing was like pulling teeth, but I did it. I’m not sure how much was good, but it happened in a slow trickle. My connection to my Craft really took a hard hit. I was lazy, I was mindless, I was spiritually tired. So there was a lot of motions going through, but not a lot of actual thought and feeling behind them. Mostly because I didn’t have a lot of actual thought and feeling left.

But with the shift in the seasons, I’ve felt a shift in me.

And a lot of it has to do with a wee little snake.

Saturday past, we got the front lawn mowed for the first time of the year. I was a little sad because we had a patch of clover growing that I was for, some reason, totally in love with. A few hours after it was done, I was taking Jake, the dog, out for a much need bathroom break. And really, it was a nice break for me too to get away from the loudness of the house. Do you know how loud three kids can be? They are freaking loud.

Anyway, Jake is off doing whatever dogs do when they are done doing their business, and Im looking at the newly cut grass. And there, not far from my shoe, zipping through the leaves that we never raked up, was a deep reddish brown little snake. (I use the little in meaning width only, the little guy/girl was about the length of my forearm.)

I’m immediately mesmerized. I watch it for a moment, sure that it’s going to disappear into the ground and our meeting will be brief. But no! It doesn’t hide away. It stays out, enjoying the Sun no doubt. With Jake still busy shoving his big snoot into something snootable, I squat down to get a better look at the snake. Not even the audible protest of my knees scares it off. It turns and moves towards me for a bit, while I spit out the best babytalk I know. And trust me, my babytalk game is strong. And for one second, I swear the little snake and I have a moment. We inhabit the same spot, the same Sun, the same warmth. We share something. I don’t know what it is, but we share it.

Jake hears my cooing and decides it must be for him and starts trotting back over my way. His leash is still in my hand so I move away from the snake as it moves away from me. I rise to my feet as my big doofus comes closer and I use the leash to guide him away from the area the snake traveled and he was none the wiser.

And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a run in with a reptile in my front yard that’s reconnected me to my lost self. A year or so ago, I happened upon the big black snake that used to inhabit our lot.

S/He was in the middle of eating a bird when a sudden rain shower lowered it’s body temperature and caught it in a pickle. That encountered was memorable, because not only did it involve a big freaking snake, it involved me waking up.

Just like the encounter on Saturday did. They both happened in the beginning of spring. And just like snakes shed their skin when they outgrow it, I’m finally able to shake off the binds of a Winter that held me too tight.


Since then, and I know it’s only been since Saturday, but I feel awake. I feel like my own personal spring has happened. I’ve been able to feel like I’ve been refreshed in my abilities to create and just, breathe. There’s air around me now and in it possibly. There’s room for my magick and my practices. There’s room for my knowledge. And there’s room for me to create.

This doesn’t mean my load has gotten any lighter. My husband’s illness is still here. My son is still struggling. But I am whole. I am more than just a caregiver, a maid, a housewife, and an errand handler.

I am a writer, a witch, a mother, a reader,  a healer, and all the other things hidden inside this meat suit.

I am not bound by a season of darkness. I am not bound by skin of a certain shape.

I am awakened. I am refreshed.

I am ready to begin.

And that is what Spring is for.

Beginnings. Regrowing. Reclaiming.




Hobby Horses

You’re probably wondering why I felt the need to write about a child’s toy. Seeing as I’m surrounded by them constantly, maybe the title leads you to think I am an aficionado. That’s not quite the case.

The only thing I am an aficionado of is messes. So clearly, this is not about stuffed horses heads on sticks.
In this context, hobby horse means a preoccupation or a favorite topic. It’s something you’re excited about, something you’re always thinking and talking about. It is that one thing you devote what little and precious spare time you have to.

For some people, it’s sports. For other’s its music. For some, it’s art or working out, or celebrity gossip. For some weirdos, it’s watching buff dudes in usually small tights throw other buff dudes around.

Whatever it is, whatever spark it lights in your emotions, it’s important. And I’m going to explain why.

I was having a conversation the other day with my #bestwitchforlife (yep, that’s our thing, lol) and she was very excitedly telling me about the beef between Eminem and MGK. Neither one of us are big rap fans, but she was really really into this. And because she was so excited about it, I was too. I spent a good few minutes watching diss videos and reading background info on the situation.

At one point during the conversation, she apologized for being so wrapped up in it. And that was something that got my attention.

Why do we feel the need to apologize for being really excited about something? Why do we feel guilt over our hobby horses?

Everyone has a hobby horse. Like I said earlier, it could be sports or art or vintage talking boards. Sometimes it’s as mellow as gardening and sometimes it’s as loud as motorcycles. We have things that we like and that excites us. So naturally, we want to share this with the people around us. And when we do, we shine. Our excitement and happiness raise us up.

But it seems, that the moment you express it there’s someone standing there ready to tell you how stupid it is. There are naysayers that want to snub out your excitement over something the way they would a cigarette. They don’t want you to enjoy one second of spreading the name of your hobby horse. And I think I know why.

There is a huge amount of society that has no desire to see someone else succeed. And that’s because they feel inadequate. They might say they want you to do and be good, but what they really mean is they want you not to be better than them.

It’s not even business or monetary success they are jealous over. It’s that shine. That feeling you get when you’re excited with the pleasure of your hobby horse. When you’ve brushed it and watered it and gotten it all saddled up to go. That’s when they reach out like a viper and strike it down.

Dull people, those without a shine, often try to find a way to make themselves better than those of us that shine. It’s a way for them to distract from the fact that they don’t have something to shine about. But like putting lipstick on a pig, it does nothing to cover up the fact that they are sad people.

Some of us have been so inundated by the reactions (or in some cases, the none reactions) of those around us who want to snuff the shine, that we keep our hobby horses in their stables. We feed and water them still, but we only let them out when we’re alone. We devote time to them, but only undercover. So when something happens and that hobby horse shows up in conversation, we are quick to shoo it away, put it back in the closet. The pain of getting manure thrown on your shine radiants long after the incident.

And I think that is one of the greatest travesties of our time. We are made to feel that we can’t share our passions, of any degree. We must dampen ourselves because our excitement offends those who don’t shine at all.

There is no guilt in being a fan. There is no guilt in being passionate about something. There is no guilt in being slightly obsessed with something.

Read the books, watch the sports, get lost in the juicy slices of celebrity beef.

Our time on Earth is limited to just a handful of years. We must be the ones who decide how we spend it. Hard drugs and acts of violence and cruelty aside, there is no wrong way to live your life. There is also no right way. There’s just your way.

So keep on shining.

Stop Using That Broom Just For Sweeping. Get Flying, Witch! : Reconnecting To Your Craft

Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “You could not step twice into the same river.”

Angela of Conjure and Coffee is saying now “You can not meet the same witch twice.”

One of my favorite things about Witchcraft is how individual our paths are. There are no two witches who are alike.  Even though you and I might believe in the same concepts, we will not have the same journey within them. There is no “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” here. Because we are all different, our practices are all different as well.

But the one thing that is similar all across the board, is how it’s damn easy to get unplugged from your Craft. There are many reasons for this. Location, work, family demands, monetary demands, health. The list is endless. For as many desires to practice there are that many things standing in our way.  My personal struggle involves caregiving and family obligation. I am currently a stay at home mom. You’d think that would allow me plenty of time and chances to incorporate my practice into my everyday life. But honestly, it doesn’t. Finding time for myself in the hustle and bustle of this life is very hard. And I’m sure for so many others, maybe even you reading this right now, it’s the same.

How can we change that? How can we throw back the layers of the mundane to find the magick in every day?

Here’s a handful of ideas for reconnecting to the magick you are missing.

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Stay Lit

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

 

Fuck “Chill Out”.

Fuck “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Double fuck “Calm down. Everything is okay”.

Stop letting someone else tell you that your fire is not appropriate. It’s that fire that connects you to the Universe. That burning in your soul fuels you to live the authentic life you deserve. When we are told to sit down and be quiet, that is the lesson we feed our soul. We dampen it until it becomes nothing more than an ember.

And why? Why are we so ready to diminish ourselves to fall into line with what someone else thinks is okay? It’s important to remember that “okay” and “normal” are social constructs. They are ideas we’ve all accepted because it makes life easier for those who are in power. They want to you to be separated from your flame. It’s easier to rule the pacified.

Stop living your life for the ease of others. Find the things that ignite you and douse yourself in them. For some, this may happen with meditation. For some, it might be shadow work. For others, it might be blowing everyone off for a few days and playing hermit. Introspection is one of the most powerful ways to replenish.

The fire that sparks inside you will fuel your journey. Once you allow it to burn out all the expectation and obligations you hold for others, your magick will be in clear view.

Up, Up, Down, Down

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

It is common knowledge that the moon controls the tide. It’s also common knowledge that humans are over 50% water.

So what makes people think the moon doesn’t influence human behavior? Ask any EMT, police officer, ER nurses, or mother and they will tell you that the full moon totally affects human behavior. Our connection to the moon is much more than it just being a satellite. Hell, even the term “lunatic” comes from the Latin word “luna”! There’s no doubt that the moon is a heavy influence.

For us witch folk, the moon is so important. It’s a constant agent of change that we use to chart our cycles, cleanse our crystals and even power us. The phases of the moon and the phases of our lives often fall in step with each other. In the midst of the chaos of our lives, the moon is there.

So if it’s good for empowering and charging our crystals, it has to be good for us too right?

But it doesn’t end with the moon. The elements around us are the elements IN us.

We are Air.

We are Water.

We are Earth.

We are Fire.

We are Spirit.

When we connect to the elements around us, we connect with the elements that make the magick in us. And when we awaken them, the magick they produce is outstanding. We can not be whole with ourselves and deny the elements.

A trip outside can do wonders to help center yourself.  Whether it’s among the trees, or in the dirt, or sitting by the crashing to sea, any place where you can let the earth restore you is the right place. It doesn’t have to be a great mythical journey either, even a quick sit outside with an open heart will count. The intention to bond with Mother Earth will be noticed, no matter where or how.

Talk To The Past

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Here’s something you may not know about me. My paternal grandmother’s name is Jerushia. We often talk when I am driving around town. She’s stubborn and has some extremely outdated opinions. She also thinks I’m a bad driver. (To her credit, I totally am.)

The kicker? Jerushia died in 1978.

Her and my maternal great-grandmother, Katie, are the two main connections I have with my ancestors. When I’m driving or cooking, or about to make a mistake, it’s usually their voice I hear. They aren’t fairy tale guardian angels, but what we have works.

For better or worst, the family we are from influences who and what we are.  We all have our fair (or unfair) share of influential ancestors. Some of them act as an inspiration to be a better person, to reach our full potential. Some of them show us exactly what not to be.

The connection to your ancestors can be a great way to open up the avenue to magick in your life. I have a big deficit in maternal figures. So being able to connect to the ones I can means a lot to me. Most of our talks are through meditation and random pop ups. Like sometimes they will just pop up and into my daily life. The car being Jerushia’s favorite place to make an appearance.

For as many different relationships there are, there are ways to communicate with the ones beyond. Spirit boards have long been the way to breach the divide. If that doesn’t work for you, there are so many different ways. All you need to do is find the one that works best for you.

Sidenote: Please don’t think I am advocating for everyone to reach out to every member of their family and take them in. Yes, we are all related to some bastards. We all have people we’d rather not have under our umbrella whether it be in this world or the beyond. I am not saying open the door to the people who have wronged, hurt, or abused you. All I am saying is that the people of our past can hold the key to so many things we don’t understand. They can be a reference for us to learn and experience more. They can even just be figures of guidance and love to help us in the moments we need someone.

Don’t Be A Drag, Just Be A Queen (or King)

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Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

Ever have a really bad argument with someone one day and then still feel it the next? Even though you resolved the problem and made amends, you wake up the next morning feeling like you are neck deep in hangover mode? You drag your feet through the day, spreading that nasty hungover feeling around like a virus? You act short with someone and get a rude reply. You get pissy about that person being rude and end up being rude to someone else in return. The circle goes on and on, drowning you and all those around you in negativity.

When you are negative, the things and people around you become negative too. While I am NOT a follower of the rule of three, I do think the nastiness you send out, you get returned to you somehow. It feeds on itself and multiplies. When you drag it out, when you’re a drag, it builds and builds and pollutes everything.

The longer you hold onto it, the longer it will stay with you. The pains of our past, the bruises of our egos, the unravelling of our threads, are all things we have to eventually let go of. Those feelings will dampen any chance at magick inside you. They are the mortar that holds the bricks together in the wall between you and your magick.

Breaking free of that, breaking apart that wall comes at a cost. You have to be ready to put yourself in a leadership role and take control. You gotta put on that crown and rule over your kingdom. Owning up to your own negativity is a big job. But heavy is the head that wears the crown. Being strong enough to acknowledge that you might be the thing holding yourself back is worthy of a storybook legacy.

Once you clear away the comfortable but problematic skin of being negative, magick will be much easier to find. The restrains will fall away.

Another side note:  I am in no way diminishing the struggle that is depression. I understand, very very well, the struggles of battling depression. I know how it drains the color from everyday life and highlights the negative. It filters everything you see and do through its monochrome lens. Living with depression isn’t what I’m talked about in this section. That’s a whole different demon to battle.

Blessed Be All The Things

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Our surroundings influence us away more than we admit. That’s why we decorate our homes with colors that feel right, keep photographs of those we love, trophies from our accomplishments. That’s why stuffed animals keep their place in our beds way past childhood and why our favorite hoodie just makes us feel so safe.

If you follow the belief that magick is everywhere and in everything then the things around us are open conduits for it to move through. Why not make sure we are surrounded by magickal things and they are clean, charged, and blessed?

Your favored aesthetic can lead directly to inspiration. Being surrounded by things that make you feel magickal will lead you back to being magickal. Wanna wear black on Wednesdays? Do it. Want your living room to look like a Victorian seance? Do it! Having the area you reside in feel magickal to you will allow you to connect with your inner magickal.

There are so many magick tools that have a perfect fit for everyday life. These items can be special occasion pieces or just mundane things you’ve designated just for magick.

Let’s say you surround yourself with candles, incense, besoms, and/or crystals. At a glance, these are just items. But you and I both know they are full of potential energy when it comes to practicing your Craft.

From your atheme to your tablet, the contents of your altar to your phone, any and everything that you use throughout your day can benefit from being cleaned and repowered. So every time you touch or use the item, you’re getting an extra boost of magick.

Take A Look, It’s In A Book

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

I’m going to be a little bit pompous and say we are living in one of the greatest time for obtaining knowledge. Yes, we here in America may be teetering on the edge of an Orwellian ultra-pasteurized world. It’s scary and confusing. But honestly, never before has so much information about witchcraft, magick, history and women’s mysteries been so easily available.

Books about magick, witchcraft, and all sorts of Pagan ideas are everywhere these days. There’s no more secret meetings or newsletters. You can walk into any bookstore and find hundreds of titles. If you let your fingers do the work, Amazon has more books on these subjects than Carter’s has little liver pills. There are some amazing authors who are putting out some outstanding work.

Personally, Lisa Lister’s Witch was(and still is) a huge inspiration to me. It’s the book that, without doubt, kicks me in the ass and pushes me back to where I want to be. It’s inspirational in a way that works for me.

Books aren’t the only place you can expand your knowledge.

The internet is full of resources that we may never be able to visit them all. There are so many personal blogs and websites that are amazing!! It’s a brilliant time to be alive and Pagan online. I’ve learned so much about myself and my personal Craft by reading the knowledge others have decided to share. As with anything, there’s bullshit. Just like publishing and face to face interacting, not everything is going to be a fit for you. The great thing about having all this information is that you are always able to move on and find something else.

The magick in you is only a few clicks away.

You Do You

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Connecting to your craft is in essence, reconnecting to yourself. There’s a part of us that just is magick. It’s the part that tingles your fingers when you touch a deck of tarot cards or the voice in your head that tells you not to take the shortcut home. We are the magick that has flowed through our ancestors’ veins. We are the magick that fills the air and causes the leaves to fall.

Like I said earlier, WE. ARE. MAGICK.

But here’s the problem. We live in a society where even though we can be different, it’s not always easy or safe. And while it would be easy to say “Fuck ‘em”, sometimes that’s just not the answer.

So what do we do? Like Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” Your life has to be YOURS. It has to be painted with your brush and in the colors you chose. It’s not going to always be easy. The world will constantly stand in your way because you’re going against the grain. You’re trying to be something outside the conventionally accepted normal.

Let me tell you this. Normality is simply a cultural construct. And you don’t have to play by their rules. Your magick is what makes you whole. Live your magick out loud. Take action each day to make sure you are living the most authentic life you can. Once you allow yourself to fully and truly live out loud, your magick will be bursting at the seams.

Let go of the restrictions you think you have to abide. Let go of the stress from the obligations you take on. Whether that be through meditation or medication. YOU DO WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU.

And fuck ‘em if they try to tell you different.

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Being in touch with our inner magick is important. But trust me, I know it’s not easy. Life gets in the way. Obligations get in the way. We get in our own way. Breaking all those walls down and reigniting our inner pilot light is the only way we can heal the wound the emptiness causes.

Reconnect to your magick, dear reader, any way you can.

It’s all we really have.

 

Bumping Your Nose Against the Glass: Thoughts on Caregiving, Being Strong, and Self Care

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Don’t those words sound pretty?

They sound pretty in that behind the glass at a jewelry store type of way.

You see them sparkle. They draw you in close. But before you know it, you’re bumping your face on an invisible barrier that keeps you from reaching them. Over and over you try to break through. If only you could touch one, hold one for a moment, you know you’ll feel worlds better. But you can’t. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t reach. The only thing you can feel is that enlarging hole in your self worth and a busted, bloody face.

That’s the major struggle of being a caregiver.

For many caregivers, they have one job and one job only. It’s an all consuming position that has little to no time for that pretty concept called self-care. Their one job is being strong.
I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s when Strong Man competitions were popular on TV. Early morning or late at night, on one of the seemingly endless ESPNs, there would be big muscle dudes pulling or picking up big heavy things. And wrestling. Oh my word, there was so much wrestling in the late 80s and 90s that my little eyes couldn’t look away. Those sports helped me to develop an idea of what being strong meant.

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To young sports entertainment fan I was, being strong was being able to do things with your body. Being “strong” was being able to work through the pain to make changes. Even if the changes were moving a giant tire or body slamming a giant man. Being strong was a purely physical thing.

After years as a caregiver,

I’ve learned just how wrong that thought was.

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Being strong is watching your loved one become sick, and knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

Being strong is knowing that no matter how much you accomplish, there will always be something else that needs to be done.

Being strong is waking up at all hours, making serious decisions on an unholy lack of sleep.

Being strong is bathing someone who can not bathe themselves.

Being strong is watching the words and phrasing you use to keep your loved from one feeling like they are worthless. It’s remembering they are more than an illness. It’s dressing their emotional wounds along with their physical ones.

Being strong is offering a shoulder to cry on and an arm to lean on, physically and emotionally. It’s being a sponge for the emotions someone won’t or can’t handle.

Being strong is balancing appointments and medications, checkbooks and utilities. It’s knowing what food you can make a meal out of and what type of soap to buy.

Being strong is standing during the storms of emotions and the tidal waves of unhealthy words because sometimes your loved one has been reduced so low that they are not who they once were.

HOWEVER

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Being strong is also saying enough is enough.

Being strong is not feeding into someone’s negativity

Being strong is providing recommendations instead of solutions to someone’s problems.

Being strong sometimes is saying “No.”

Being strong is taking action to patch your own sails when the winds of another have left them battered.

Being strong is practicing the dirty parts of self care. Self care is as ugly as it is brutal. But there’s strength in that pain. There’s a beauty in breaking what you think is yourself to clear the path for a better you.

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I have been strong.

But at the same time, I have not been strong.

I have often taken on the weight of the world when I should not have accepted it.

I have willingly placed myself in pain to help others feel less. I have not been able to tell someone when their actions have hurt me. I have not been able to take a step back, even when it was vital.

I tell you all this not as a pat on the back. I am not saying I’ve done these things to make myself a martyr. I do not need recognition for my actions. So many women in my life have worn a crown made of bitterness and passive aggression and asked to be praised for it. I do not want that weight on my head. I do not want heads bowed at my feet.

What I want is to be accountable for my actions. The ones that are good for others and the ones that are good for me. I want to be strong enough to do both. I want to breathe without having to make sure there is room. I want to put roots down and have a bit of the sun too.

I don’t have a plan.

I have a desire. A necessity.

I’ve read about it, I’ve written about it. The stars as my guide, dammit, it’s now time to live it.

All I’ve been doing is window shopping lately.

And I’m tired of bumping my nose against this glass.

 

 

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Resting Rose Face

If you’ve been around for a quick minute, you are well aware of RBF or resting bitch face. It’s the unintentional facial expression that makes a person look like they are annoyed, angry, standoffish,  or just bitchy as shit. You know that face both Grumpy Cat and Kanye West make? That’s Resting Bitch Face.

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For some people, RBF has become a badge of honor. A visual representation of their lack of fucks to give. A private celebration of the fact that they do not have to play the part of ‘happy to see you’ to anyone.

For others, RBF is survival tactic to counter unwanted attention, solicitations, and catcalls. We live in a society with individuals who missed the call up to evolve from Neanderthals. Armour is not as stylish as a look that perpetuates the belief that you know how to maim someone with their own appendages.

And for some, like Grumpy Cat, it’s just the way their face looks. It’s a natural thing. Would Aubrey Plaza be as completely amazing as she is if her face was all sunshine and rainbows? No, probably not.

Some critics believe RBF is something that can be cured with a splashing of  tonic made of equal parts “You’d be prettier with a smile.” and “Smile, baby girl.” My stance on them is easy to understand. They’re full of it. Smiles and happiness are not things that are owed to society. Being and appearing pleasant is not something a person is required to do to take up space. We do not have to be nice to be here.

On the other side of Resting Bitch Face is my struggle. I have Resting Rose Face.

What’s Resting Rose Face, you ask?

Well, let me introduce you to Rose Nylund from one of the greatest shows of the 80s,  The Golden Girls.

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The Golden Girls is a situational comedy about four older single ladies sharing a house in Florida. Blanche, the stylish, attractive, man-eater Southern Belle, is the owner of the house. She is joined by Dorothy, a smart, sarcastic, often intimidating divorcee, Dorothy’s mother brash, brazen Sicilian mother Sophia, and my personal favorite, Rose.

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Rose Nylund is the character that just might have cemented Betty White’s fame. Rose was the adorably upbeat, naive, and often trampled upon sweetheart lady from St. Olaf, Minnesota. She was quirky and kind, and often the butt of serious burns from the other ladies. She was the sweet to Dorothy’s salt. And in that, I relate so hard it hurts.


If I had a dime for every time I’ve been called “sweet” I could afford the swanky place in which the Golden Girls lived in a modern day market. Maybe its the shape of my face, maybe it’s my obligation to listen to people who speak to me, maybe its the fact that I smile when I’m nervous. Whatever it is, I have always been tagged as the nice one. I offer Jehovah Witnesses drinks on hot days.. I’ve actually stood around and listened to the people at the kiosk in the mall trying to sell me face cream. I’ve had complete strangers tell me their life stories in public. Weirder still, I stood there and listened!

I have the sort of face that makes people believe I care. Because generally, I do. In my early 20s, I thought being a strong woman meant you had to be an asshole to everyone. I confused independence with selfishness. I thought the only way to be successful and “right” was to be a bitch. It was my mid to late 20s that I learned how fucking wrong that was. Maybe I am a natural pushover. Maybe I’m a natural people pleaser. Maybe I spend too much time with my head in the clouds and take a little too much enjoyment out of the simple things. That’s all okay! I am who I am.

What’s not okay is when this is taken for granted. And it happens, a lot.When people see me or register that I am there, it’s like I’m the human equivalent of a nice cup of tea. They relax and their troubles spill forth. It also leads me to get passed over a lot. While looking kind and friendly is not a bad way to spend your life (and really helps with traffic tickets), it usually makes you seem like the least interesting person of a group. So while the proud extroverts are the ones taking part in all the fun, I’m the type holding purses and talking to old people about their grandkids.

The struggle is real for those of us who have Resting Rose Face. The struggle is also real for those who have Resting Bitch Face. Life is hard. Having expressive faces is hard. The only thing we can do is to just be who we are. And try to thrive, no matter what face we have on.

Declined: A (Self)Love Story

 

I was getting a jump on cooking dinner when I got a notification that I had a new email. Normally, I would glance at my lock screen to see who it was from and make a mental note to check it later. But this ended up being different. It wasn’t just one of those crap spam emails that flood my inbox (No, Directv, I’m not coming back! Leave me alone!). It was from a literary magazine I had recently submitted to. I had found their call for submissions via the Discovery tab on Submittable. It was a call for a piece of poetry that contained certain words. It seemed like a fun little challenge, so I crafted up a piece and sent it their way.

When I was able to pull the pan off the burner, I opened my Gmail app. This was what I was greeted with (the name of the publication has been removed):

Dear Angela,

Thank you for your submission to XXXXXX Magazine. After careful consideration, we have decided not to select “Before?” for publication. There are many possible reasons for why a particular piece isn’t selected, and I regret that I am unable, given time constraints, to offer further explanation as to which of those reasons applied to your work. I will say that you’re in good company; as always, there were many authors and many pieces that I would have liked to include.

Now if you know me, you’re probably thinking I’m crushed. And there was a time, not even that long ago when you’d be right. Were I the Angela of a handful of years ago, I’d be sitting here in a pit of despair. My self-confidence, shakey like a young deer on ice, would have been completely annihilated. I would probably be ugly crying and thinking that the voice in my head, which sounds like a really weird combination of two women, was correct. I really couldn’t get anything right. I was a sham who would never know what I was doing.

But that’s not happening. What is happening is surprising.

 

I’m okay.

Actually, I’m more than okay.

I’m good.

I feel proud of the piece and, more importantly,

I’m proud of myself.

So what changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t feel the cut that this declination would have once made.  Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a misplaced apathy type of feeling. It’s not the depression I’ve grown like a bonsai tree my entire life filling my head with nihilistic whispers. I just legitimately don’t feel this is a failure.

This year, I’ve come into my own when it comes to my writing. I’ve tried new things, forced myself on shaky limbs, and learned to work within my own voice. I’ve also forced myself to become dedicated. I’ve developed a discipline to keep the hot or cold switch in my head in the right position. For years, I’ve wanted to do this. I’ve wanted to create words and ideas that I could share with people. And now I finally am.

This rejection is a good thing. And I’m not trying to blow smoke up my own ass here. I really, truly think it is. I’m showing myself I’m able to face the chance that I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and accept it. I’m flexing the muscle of my psyche that’s matured into an IDGAF self-content woman. So what if the piece wasn’t what the magazine was looking for? It was what I wrote. It was what I created. And even if it fucking sucks, in the moment of its creation, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

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Not all wins are trophies, championships, or acceptance letters. Some victories, and often the best ones, are the ones that ignite inside of you. There the ones that people can only see when they catch the glint of determination and self-appreciation in your eyes. They are the ones you will never have a newspaper clip out of, but will always remember.

 

 

And those are the ones current me strives for.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                        image source 

 

BBBBBB

PS: In case you’re wondering about the piece itself, I’ve included it below. The designated words to use are still in bold so you can see what I was working with.

 

Before?

Not lamp, but light
The kind of brightness that prys eyes apart
The nightstand is long since emptied
Pictures gone, now filled with medicine bottles and phone chargers
Was this what life was like
Before?

Her electrical current is no longer current
The coil has thus been shuffled
But damned if she doesn’t still make
The hair on the back of my neck stand at attention
That’s the only attention being served these days

The TV never stops, but I don’t know what’s on
It’s just lights without sound
I thought I had turned it off
But it’s talking heads keep the remote hidden
So I can’t check for sure

I know that pain is a real thing
But feelings elude me
How much longer must I endure?
Eight weeks dead might just as well be eighty
Is this what life was like
Before?

 

Dear Toxic Friend, This Is Goodbye.

I don’t know how to start this. Perhaps my hesitation is from this not being easy or enjoyable to write. So here goes.

This is my goodbye.

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This fragile relationship of ours is no longer good for me. You are no longer good for me. Your passive aggression taints every conversation we have, like second-hand smoke in a sweater.  Somehow, no matter what our conversation is about, you warp and bend it until it reflects light onto that one time, more than a decade ago, when I fell short in your eyes. Our friendship does not make me feel good about myself. If anything, it makes me feel like a scapegoat. I’ve worked really hard to grow as a person and to cast off the shame, guilt, and self-hatred that I carried from my childhood. I can not allow you to undo what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve tried to be a good friend. I’ve tried to honor your feelings and allow you to hold them. But you used your feelings as a weapon. It’s obvious that you still hold on to the anger and pain that befell you in the past. It’s obvious that this hot coal burned its way inside your body and took residence in your heart. While I am not one to tell someone to let go and move on, I feel that for us to have worked, you needed to calm that burn. I supplied apologies as a salve, but they never seemed to soothe enough for you.

You throw shade (as the kids say these days) and make remarks that seem to have no other point than to paint me as a villain and you my victim. They seem to suggest that all your hardships are because of the perceived slight you think I performed. Just to put it to bed, my actions back then were never malicious. You know this. I acted on what my soul called me to do. It was what I personally wanted for once, instead of what was wanted for me. I explain this to you so you understand, I was just trying to live my life. No one should be kept from that OR be made feel bad because of that. Its exhausting explaining time and time again that my actions were not personal attacks. I just wanted sovereignty.

I understand your life has had ups and downs. So has mine. Everyone’s has. I will not say that anyone has had it easier or harder than anyone else. We’ve all made choices and we all deal with their consequences. That being said, you really seem set on winning some imaginary Misery Olympics. I do not support and will not take part in such games. We should be celebrating each other’s successes, not trying to impress others with who hurts the most. Pain is not something that is measurable like that. While I am sorry that your experiences haven’t all been positive ones, I don’t feel that they should be things you wave at me in an attempt to make me feel bad for or to discredit my own.

For my own mental health, I can not allow you lay your sins on me and send me out into the wild any longer. I do not hate you. I do not dislike you. I would very, very much like for us to be close again. I would like for us to have the relationship we assumed we would. But I simply can not with things in their current state. I’m sorry we can’t be the friends we imagined we would always be.

Please have a good life. I wish nothing but the best for you. But I can accept nothing but the best for me.

BBBBBB

 

Day 4: What are you afraid of?

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On the superficial side of things, I am really, really, REALLY afraid of ants. Here in the Southern U.S. we have big nasty fire ants. They seriously are like Satan’s public lice. They are everywhere and are just waiting to crawl on your feet, up your legs and bite the shit out of you.

Many moons ago, when I was a little girl, during an Easter family get together, my little dumb ass walked between two ant hills. And BOOM! Those motherfuckers starting attacking my chubby legs like an all you can eat buffet. My Great Uncle Ray snatched me up, ran me inside to the kitchen and threw me in the sink, pretty little dress ,panty hose and all. My legs were polka dotted with ant bites. It was horrible.

On a much deeper level, Im afraid of turning into my mother and pushing everyone in my life away. I don’t want the mental struggles I go through to hinder and hurt the people I love. I don’t want to be so deformed by my mental anguish, so poisoned and bitter, that I continue the cycle and infect my babies with it. I don’t want them growing up with the same shit I have in my head in theirs. They deserve better. I deserved better.

So, I know this isnt part of the prompt, I’m working on making myself better. I talked with L today about this very thing. And when I told him that I felt that he and the kids deserved better than a crazy, over emotional me he was quick to remind me that I too deserved it. And he’s right. We all deserve happiness and contentment. Especially with our selves. Our worries can not be the largest feeling we have. Love should be. Self love especially.

Also,

Fuck ants.

Opps Bag- $2

The closest mall to our house has a cookie shop. I actually think it may be called “The Cookie Shop” but I could be making that up because it sounds good in my head.

We were at the mall on Tuesday for the Mister to get his eyes checked. (Yes, theres an optometrist in the mall). I was walking the babies around when they were getting antsy. There was only one thing that would calm the savage beasts. And it was cookies.

We roll up to the cookie counter in the food court and I order some little sugar cookies for their little kid hands and a lemonade for myself. I noticed a sign near the register while we were waiting “Oops Bag-$2”. So I read the small text and found out that Oops Bags were overcooked, broken, a day old or otherwise less than perfect cookies. I immediately thought this was a great idea and asked for one.

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It wasn’t just because it was cheap cookies. I mean, I love cookies and cheap ones are even better ya know. It’s because if people were cookies, I’d be an Oops Bag. I’ve been broken, I’m older, and I’m a far ways from perfect. There are pieces of me missing that will never return. There have been parts of me burned,blackened, and ruined. And even though my life has been filled with people who passed over me and chose another, I’m still good. I’m still worthy. To a zombie or cannibal, I’m still delicious.

Just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough. Our flaws are parts of our story. Our flaws are part of who and what we are. We should honor those things in us that make us who we are. For good or bad, we are who we are. And we shouldn’t be ashamed.

 

 

Anger

Anger is the coating for inadequacy.

Anger is the capitalization of pain.

Anger is a bad translation of misunderstanding.

Anger is unhappiness set on fire.

Anger is panic wearing stilts and dropping it’s voice.

Anger is Depresson’s paramour.

Anger is not a badge of honor.

Anger is the dictator that rules after a coup.

Anger is the jar of nectar tempting from across the room.

I know these things. I spilled the words from my heart. But I still let anger take over when I feel vulnerable, insulted, or rejected. Its a preset response that I want to eliminate.

I’d rather be seen as soft than as a hateful,anger bitch.

What paths have you found the break the chains of anger? What resources do you enjoy?