“The Barefoot Artist” (movie)

I came across this movie on Netflix and the description was intriguing even though I’m not generally one to be intrigued by documentaries. This one hit all of my points of things-I-find-comfort-and-use-in. Artist me! Witch Me! Community Me! The Dead Me! Ancestral Healing Me! Philosophical Me!

It is a portrait of one privileged fallible authentic Chinese woman as she struggled to find the place that her passions intersect with humanity. So worth watching, even if you disagree with how she decides to engage that intersection. I am happy to have seen it.

SAD/Depression & Grief, Coming Back Up

It would be too long, even for me, to write out the whole of my world since the beginning of November so I’m not going to try. I had a slow slide into mild depression, the first I’ve experienced since my mother died in 2006. It took quite awhile for me to notice it was more than my regular hermit mode of winter. Partly because some days were better than others and partly because I’m lacking experience in depression and what it feels like. From late 2015 and through a good slot of 2016 my life has been full of stressors. Usual coping techniques began to fail and I didn’t really notice I suppose. It was a bumpy up and down and somehwhere along the line I lost touch with my ever present Joy. It was still there, just not accessible as easily.

My downward swing seemed tied to the lack of sunlight in how it progressed so I bought a lightbox to see if this was so. It is definitely, if not wholly, tied to the diminished number of hours of daylight. What had been choice in how I spent my days became not a choice with the depression, and I felt the choice come back with usage of the box. This brought me gobs of relief that was quickly lessened by our beloved 14 y/o cat slipping out of the house unseen and being gone for 16 days. By his actions in the days prior to his disappearing act we assumed he’d slipped out to die even though he has been indoor only cat for 7 years. We had just informed his vet to mark his file “deceased” when he turned by up about 20 minutes after we returned from the vet’s office.

He’s pretty wasted from lack of food and he was severely dehydrated. He is slowly recouping and I have dubbed him the miracle cat. While I have some caution about celebrating a full recovery just yet he appears to want to live and many of the odd signs he showed prior to leaving are gone. My one friend said he decided to go on a spirit walk and this seems more true than any other reason. The vet’s office felt it was likely he’d been accidentally locked in someone’s garage and that’s why it took so long for his return, and why his body is so wasted. We’re just happy he is back. Immediately upon his return the weight of grief over him lifted from me and I realized just how much the lightbox was helping me. The tangle of depression and grief was bloody awful, and anxiety opted to roll in on top of both.

Grief I have experienced before. Some anxiety I have, too, but the combo of depression+anxiety+grief – well, I can’t really express it. I am thrilled to be coming up out of it. I feel better equipped to identify it in the future. I will be using the lightbox until the days are longer. I will pull it back out in Autumn as soon as DST ends. I don’t want a repeat of the past few months.

This post feels very rambly, but I’m not going to go back and try to tidy it up. I expect to return to blogging with some regularity, but my goals for awhile are going to be small, easily attainable, and things that brings me Joy or I’m not doing them.

Art disappeared from my life and that will definitely return. I have missed it so. That leads into my next post …. which is the main reason I wrote this post, to write the next one. I felt it necessary to explain my absence first.

A funny thing happened on the way to my grave….

(originally posted on this day three years ago, it was a good reminder today)

I am reminded again of how easily I can hold two seemingly conflicting ideas inside of me and be at peace with that. This is not true for everyone. Some people need everything to line up logically and make sense or they must discard what doesn’t. It is how they order their world. Their sense of personal safety and security depends on it. Logical structure, schedules, and outlines hold the edges of their life and such things make them happy.
My sense of How Things Work depends on the idea that not everything is logical, nor should it be.  Everything does not fit together in a Tab A/Slot B way. First draft outlines, dynamic schedules and loose structure hold the soft edges of my life and make me happy. Hard lines constrict me, do not make sense within my world view, and cause me to feel suffocated. It is an interesting endeavor when these two views meet in conversation. I always walk away from those encounters with reinforced certainty of: my POV is as it should be, everyone gets to be exactly who they are, and I am easily okay with that.

Oh, Julian*, you were so right.

*Julian of Norwich – “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

Love can break you open, if you let it

Anyone who doesn’t believe Love is an actual Force, and can be a catalyst for swift change hasn’t been paying attention. For me, I started a long lonely climb out of the place I had been with the turn of the new year. It felt like an ascent in mud. Then the despair in me broke open. It happened shortly before this past weekend and it occurred via Love. For you-know-who-you-are, I am grateful.

This is the me I always am in my head. I haven’t been the me in my head on the outside of me recently, either in dress, or in what I let loose to the world. Today I returned to dressing the part – the part called Me. Today I let loose the new-old me again. These fabulous pants (I ordered 5 different pair recently from http://www.harempants.com/ ) are so comfortable!

(I tell myself someday I’ll master the Art of Selfie™ w/o a mirror. Some lies are okay to believe.)

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Let Love break you open!

Impact and obliviousness

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I have spent decades underestimating my impact in various spheres of my life. I never fail to “dog head” when my oblivion is brought to my attention. Like, wut?

It has now hit the level of embarrassing. In efforts to keep my ego in check I have put on blinders, and as beloveds shifted away, I thought I spoke into a vacuum. What and how I expressed myself mattered little, I surmised, ignoring that all of us have impact larger than our awareness.

I have been purposely removing those blinders and paying attention in my offline life for about 4 months and with a concerted effort starting 2 1/2 months ago. (Yes, I know the exact date I moved from “things take time” to “START NOW”.) It hasn’t yet bled over to my online life.

In the last 24 hours I’ve been having front-and-center plus behind-the-scenes conversations with a number of folks ~ their impressions of how I present myself online consist of a gamut of viewpoints, covering a great range, but a couple of core things overlap.  It has been fascinating, in the best sense of that word.

What I do know is that my online self used to be a really close match to my offline self, and the chasm between the two has grown. (There are a hundred reasons for it, but none matter to the point I’m writing about.) I started righting that with the magical turn of the calendar page, but it is a slow process, with backslides. Time is the only proof that will show it, so you’ll just have to trust me. Or not. Your choice.

Here on this blog is mostly Boneweaver, keeper of the Dead, chronicler of the learnings and foibles of walking my spiritual path. Other venues have seen SJ PJ, *rawr*ing up a storm. Neither of those is all of me. Both of those are not all of me. (Never will *all* of me be out there. C’mon, I’m pretty open, but I keep more than half of me to myself.)

I desire to pull the edges of that chasm closer together. I don’t wish to eliminate the chasm – the abyss in the center is where the Mystery lies – but I wish to move back to where when I met someone offline who had known me only online they would say, “You’re just as I thought! Except nicer.” (What can I say, text reflects me harshly. I try not to use too many extra words. *looks at length of post* I have really edited this down from what’s in my head – I swear!)

I wish to reflect more of me in all of my online spaces. Compartmentalization of me has not been good for me, and as I have impact with what I choose to put out in the world, it has not been good for others, either.

One thing that I am just getting brave enough to put out here is the art I do. I don’t often see myself as courageous, but with my art, every post is a steeled-nerve act of bravery. I’m taking lessons from someone who has been refining her skill for decades. They are donation-gratefully-accepted-free lessons through Facebook. You can find the first lesson HERE. It is my gift to myself, conquering the fear and rewriting the old story that I can only art in abstract because the skill of realism died with my father.

And now it’s your turn — what would you like to see more of from me? I really am interested to know.

(And I’m going to hit publish before I chicken out, so read through the typos, please.)

Emotional wisps, treacherous illusions

My equilibrium is very uncertain during trying emotional times. As I slip I will try to grasp at a feeling, begging it to be the branch protruding from the cliffside that halts my descent. It disappears in my grip like wisps of smoke would. I see my hands convulsing – open, close, open, close.

As I fall toward the abyss, I wait for the cushion of darkness to numb my thoughts and hide my hands from my sight, so at last I may rest.

What about you? How do you “find your emotional feet”?

Invisible Illness and the Apple Cider Vinegar Brigade

I was going to transcribe the audio file even knowing how horrid my typing skills are. But I’m not. I recorded this in the car on my way to Tai Chi and I am posting it here, unedited, with stumbling over words and verbal corrections intact. Road, car, and traffic noises are my background music! You may need to increase the volume. It is a YouTube link, but no pretty pictures, just audio. The blog post I reference is the post previous to this one.

The gifts of PTSD – when the outside doesn’t match the inside

Oh, the gifts of PTSD, how they keep on giving! I have been struggling with some of the effects in an arena I never thought I would need to struggle in. One of the twisting curiosities of my PTSD has been how certain things can trigger a reaction that seems on the surface to be completely divorced from the sexual abuse of my growing years. Over time I have refined my bodily reactions so that I can operate in the world in a manner that is similar to most people without drawing suspicion. However, in the circles I run in many of those “most people” characteristics fall away.

One of the things that I have learned to do is to not immediately trust my gut reaction. Because I work with people who deeply trust their intuition which often centers in their gut sometimes my way of dealing with this can be problematic. I do trust my intuition, which is a combination of knowledge, wisdom, self-checks, Etheric Web checks, plus my physical gut reaction. I do not automatically trust my initial physical gut reaction unless I am in a physically dangerous situation meaning I have not negated my absolutely necessary fight or flight response. What I have done is learn how to double check my initial knee-jerk gut reaction. I do this because I learned early not to trust my body and the messages it was sending me because of the abuse and the associated defense mechanisms built up against that abuse.

When a situation triggers an initial strong gut reaction in me I refer to it as my “gut clench” response. I immediately dispel it while I do a quick deep check as to its truthfulness and authenticity. I do this by physically tightening up and giving an energetic push that moves the immediate gut clench reaction away from me. I then do an internal check to discover whether that gut clench is authentic or not. I have honed this skill for years and I do it very quickly. A deep core check and a poke at the Universal energy around me has served me well.

Most of the people that I do deep work with have learned to trust their immediate gut reactions and rightly so. That doesn’t mean that they are never wrong, but it often means that they have a freedom that I do not have with their initial gut reaction. Because I don’t feel I can trust my immediate gut reaction I have tempered my behavior accordingly and do my internal check because of my desire is to respond with my authentic self. This felt like useful way of caring for my own needs in a way that still allowed me to be real and respond to whatever was going on around me. I still believe that this is a useful tool for me as it brings a level of clarity that I would not have if I automatically reacted to my gut clench.

However, it has been brought to my attention that this particular mode of response feels far differently to others that it does to me. Because I work with deeply intuitive people I am also working with their heightened level of energy awareness. In a gut clench response I physically tighten up my body (and I’m guessing I also visually tighten up) and they are noticing. When I’ve been doing my energy push to move the gut reaction away from me so that I can drop down they are feeling that push of energy, too. What I did not know was that this tightening and energy push was being interpreted as resistance against whatever was just said or done. How this resistance translates emotionally to people depends greatly on their own personal filters and/or their filters in that moment.

This has left me in quite a conundrum. How do I maintain and honor my PTSD self-care while also addressing that when I do this it feels very differently to others? Another piece for me is remaining is remaining in the moment, rather than being tossed back into a memory, so in my head I say, “I am here. Now.” Saying that out loud in that moment would mean little to the people around me. For me to remain healthy I need to not drop what has been useful and healthy for me. So what to do? I think I need to tell people that I do this clench-tighten-push thing.  Also, I need to open space where people can comfortably ask me about it when it occurs, without fear of negative consequences. This feels like a good resolution for this conundrum.

I do not wish for my outside to inaccurately reflect my inside and chance being seen as stubbornly resistant, not thinking well of others, inflexible, or as one who can not be stood against without receiving flack. Learning that something I so highly value about myself has been seen and felt in ways that are so troublesome has been exceedingly difficult. Now that I have been made aware I can at least do something to mitigate the effects, which is far better than walking around unaware.

So, lots of interesting things have recently come up for me. A lot of deep reflection, conversing with deity, and some divination tools thrown in for good measure have helped me sort it out. This feels very true to me, the manner in which my outside self was misrepresenting my inside self and what I can do as a viable fix. Both of these pieces feel true. May it be so, May be so, May it be so.

Monday blogging delayed (as it is Tuesday now)

I have many and varied thoughts surrounding when a useful tool and a tool meant to be useful gets in the wrong hands and becomes a weapon. I have heard from multiple sides now about a tool that did so many wonderful things for me in finding Joy in living with the other humans (_The Four Agreements_ by Ruiz) being used as such. I was floored, actually, and I should not be because, humans, flawed, yes. But still!!! Maybe because I thought of it as one of the tools in my toolbox and how dare they! (Makes me think of other religions who get their texts abused by some.)

So, if _The 4 Agreements_ could be so easily twisted and used as a method of controlling dissenters, or to keep someone in a toxic relationship, or to excuse awful behaviour …. well, that means any tool could be used that way. Yes, this is not news to me, per se, but I guess I thought my co-religionists, even the vaguely “co” ones had a different set of mores than would allow this type of abuse. Which brings me back to where I always am. No matter how much experience I get under belt, no matter how many self-centered me-first-and-only humans I run into I still default to believing in a general good well-behaved idea of the human race.

I don’t know why that is what I always go back to with much evidence to the contrary. Sanity preservation? Perhaps. Belief in the Life Force which is the Love Force that runs through all of us and the Universe? Perhaps, and this one seems likely. Or at least a big part of why.

For our path at Spiralheart Witchcamp Intensive this year Amoret and I are teaching “The Cornerstones of Community” based on the work done by Diana’s Grove. We have joked about how the flip side of those tools would look and we are all “har har, aren’t we hilarious” because we don’t think they’d be used this way. (Or at least I do not and I should only speak for myself here.) Now – now I’m thinking “har har hard swallow” because they probably are abused, mightily and more frequently than I would imagine. Like the concept of feminism has been. Like all holy texts have been. Like many New Age ideas have been. Like some neo-Pagan and Eastern religious concepts and books have been.

This makes me sad. This makes me want to withdraw altogether from the humans. I will not, though. I know I won’t or I would have long ago. So, if that it true then maybe, just maybe, the reason I default to the idea of the general good of the humans is for that reason – to keep me here and engaged. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Hrrrrmm …. Humans. At times so ill behaved. Yet, I remain.

Whoa …. what’s that smell?!?

I often state I choose to learn through Joy. What I do not mean is learning cannot occur through misery. It does. Frequently. I choose not to learn my stuff that way. I could. I have in the past. I didn’t like it. At all. And you may want to stop reading here if you hold dear the belief that “everything happens for a (good, Divine, learning) reason” or if you are offended by use of the word shit.

I also am not a believer that there is a good thing inside of every bad happening. Emphatically I am not a believer in such a thing. I believe, seeing as how we are all together making this co-created reality, that sometimes things just happen to us. (Based on others’ ideas of what this reality should look like.) And sometimes those things are shitty. Awful, horrible, mind-blowingly horrifying “why is this evil walking among us” shitty. For the record, I don’t hold to good and evil as static definable concepts that do not change throughout time, but static concepts seem to be a popular thing to voice when horrible things happen.

Being a believer in “sometimes shit happens and that’s just the way it is” is both terrifying and freeing. I like the freedom of it because it allows me to move forward in whatever way I want to in the face of shit happening. (Freedom is Joy.) I do not have to find the gem underneath. I do not have to buck up and strong arm my way through it. I do not have to find the Grand Lesson inside of it. Sometimes I get to just sit in the shit, be completely unhappy about the stench of it, shake my fists at the sky at the absurd unfairness of it, and when I am ready I can stand up, shower, and move forward, shit free. No lessons learned and no obligation to find a kernel of “I never could have learned this if I hadn’t sat in shit” thing. (No obligatory sugar-coating is Joy.)

Sometimes without looking I do find a gem or a lesson learned, but it is by accident not by desire or design. Other times I merely find layers of shit on top of shit and the only course is to clean it off and continue as if I wasn’t just sitting in it.

I do not think one way is better than the other. I don’t glorify my ability to manage shit appropriately when I do that. I don’t shame my inability to not find the gleaming good in it when that is my choice. I don’t glorify or shame others for their choices. I stand in the knowledge that sometimes we wallow and sometimes we don’t. I can stand to the side, look at another person in the midst of their shit and believe I would choose differently. (And always always always the little voice in the back of my head reminds me that that may not be true. I may in fact behave exactly the same as them.) So I try to stay away from qualifying terms such as good choice and bad choice and simply admit that in each particular moment whatever action is taken is the correct one for that moment. I do this whether it is me in the shit or someone else.

And that is where I find the Joy that I learn through. I find it in the freedom to choose each and every time what my course of action will be. It is the thrill of discovering anew which choice I’ll make this time: sit in the shit, punch my way through, or ignore it by quickly washing it off. It is the Joy of knowing that whatever my choice it is okay in the grand scheme of things. Of knowing that my choice is okay in the not-grand scheme of my everyday life.

I was reminded last night of the ebb and flow of the tide and what that constant process symbolically holds for me in my daily life. Clean lovely ocean water comes in, caresses the beach, and slides back out leaving behind debris. The debris is a mix of trash and treasure. Some is dull stones and seaweed and some is shiny stones and seashells. I can choose to pick up the shinies and shells. I can choose to stand in the dull and seaweed. Or I can walk away with neither trash nor treasure, shower, and continue my life. Any of those choices will be a Joyous one. Not because Joy is automatic, but because Joy is freedom to choose.

I have been sitting in shit this month. From a whole bunch of sides monkeys have been flinging their poo my way. And there I sat, smelling it, why-ing it, trying everything to change it to not shit. (It was still shit, untransformed.)

The odour has reached choking level. Pardon me while I go shower. While I feel this other kind of Joy.