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This year Imbolc was very quiet and subtle.  I’ve been sick and healing from several setbacks, but I’ve also met an unmatched capacity for love and serendipity, creeping in from the balance of solstice.  I chose not to do a set ritual this year.  I didn’t even journey, I merely put on some music and began to dance and stretch.  I had originally felt that the aspect of Brighid that would come to me would be the poet or the smith, as I’ve finally started writing again, and I’ve felt forged by the events of the last several months.  What I was not expecting was Brighid the warrior.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m strong; I’m a survivor.  However, I’ve never been known to be on the frontline.  I’m the healer that comes in afterwards.  I’m the strategist who finds ways to avoid the fight.  I’m the wife who stays at home and supports her soldier, and I always have been, but in this moment it was just me.

Our family is facing some tough choices, and I’ve felt like nothing I can do will protect us from failure.  For the first time in a long time I don’t have any answers, and it’s not just me surviving this time; it’s us.  Our country is under attack from within, not for the first time, but people are coming together and marching and making our voices heard as a country.  I’ve felt bad that I’ve been sick or working when these big events happen.  I want to stand up.  I want to shout.  I wanted to speak up against the men who stood in my workplace spouting hateful words, but my family depends on me to keep this job, so I kept quiet and wrote poetry in my head.  I felt defeated, so when Brighid the warrior came to me and called me her child I felt like a disappointment to my goddess.  For years she’s provided for me, and in this aspect I have not given everything I could have, but she wrapped me in her warmth and gave me a very important lesson.

There is a time and place for action, and this is going to be a long fight.  It’s ok to let the people who are out there raising their voices now stand for me, and when they need to rest and recharge, those of us who have watched on the sidelines will be able to take over and keep the momentum going.  Sometimes the loudest voices are the ones who whisper quietly on pages and surreptitious pipelines while the fires and the crowds distract attention.   The quiet warriors are powerful, like a silent rage that flows under the surface of this resistance.  We are the veins of the revolution, keeping the blood pumping and the tides churning.  We are the spirit of America.  We are Brighid the warrior.

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The past few months have been rough, and I haven’t been alone in my struggles.  It seems like everyone around me has gone through family problems, major depression, personal crisis, medical or financial hardships, or some combination of those things since Beltane, enough that I had to stop and wonder if there was any significance to it. Today I started to get the whispers of an answer.

This Litha is particularly strong, as it coincides with the full moon.  This is the day of the Sun.  It’s the time for harvesting the herbs we’ll use for healing and rituals, making it an auspicious day for work yet to come.  That raw, masculine energy is high, and we are full of powerful potential.

At Ostara the world was bright, and we watched each other build cocoons with visions of being beautiful butterflies, looking forward to the day we would spread our wings and soar on the sunlight.  We waited patiently, and little by little we began to change.  This is where the transformation began, and we needed that time to be at full strength for what came next.

As I’ve written several times, transformation is painful.  In the second half of this process, our entire form changes, and the cocoon has to be broken.  Our safe little world has to be opened up to an exciting, but terrifying, sky.  It’s bloody.  It’s traumatic.  Everything about us must change.  The caterpillars we were, and the cocoon we used to shield ourselves during our transformation must be cast aside in order to become what we are meant to be.  Those cocoons may have felt safe, but they were dark and restricting.  We weren’t meant to live there.

These battles we’ve been fighting for months are necessary for the transformation we’re each undertaking.  They’re making us stronger, moving us towards who we really are instead of the mere possibilities we have been, but only if we’re willing to let go of the caterpillars and the temporary shells they built around us.

So, back to Litha and the sun we meet as we emerge.  Sun means fire, and the fires of Litha burn hot, hotter this year than I have ever felt.  For many of us that fire has raged internally.  It purifies and transforms us, but it can be destructive if we fear it instead of dancing with it.  I’m  feeling change I set in motion years ago, and I have felt it in every cell in my body for the past three months.  It has tested my faith in myself.  It has tested my relationships.  It has tested my ability to function at mundane tasks while every part of me feels torn apart, but in the end I…in the end we all…will emerge from the darkness that has surrounded us.  I feel it happening a little more every day.  I see it happening around me.  It may not be over for some, but it will get better.  I know we will all pull through this and fly together in the sunlight.

 

Aloha

Go now,be who you were meant to be

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New relationships give us all sorts of opportunities.  A new partner means all these new frontiers to explore, don’t they?  Suddenly we’re interested in couples Wii bowling tournaments and Faberge egg painting, and we make all these plans like they’re blueprints for this new relationship.  Then reality sets in.  Wii bowling happens on a work night, and neither of you can paint a fence let alone a hollowed out egg.  Instantly there are all these unmet expectations.  Now throw in the fact that this is a new person you’re learning, and no matter how many times you’ve dreamily cooed the phrase “it feels like I’ve known you forever” it’s been two months, and you’re still learning to communicate and exist on this planet together.  This is where hopes get let down, miscommunication runs rampant, and because NRE has the happy gauge turned up to High Octane, these small disappointments feel world ending.  Sometimes they feel relationship ending.

This is where real life has to interfere for the relationship to survive, and as comfort levels are established we must be willing to let some of those expectations be set aside for a rainy day, reshaped a little, ot even just released back into the wild.  Maybe you buy a Wii and bowl at home.  Maybe you take a Vino and Van Gogh class one weekend, get smashed, and paint nothing put stick figures and butts.  Maybe you find something else that excites you.  The key is to adapt, because at some point the letdowns get bigger; it’s a fact of life that no relationship, yes even yours, is perfect.  If you can’t handle the reality that your partner hated the recipe you learned because she said she likes lasagna, how are you going to survive when you find out she whistles in her sleep and keeps you awake, when the perfect night out you planned in your head ends up on the couch in pj’s because one of you had an awful day, when tears are in her eyes because you weren’t even aware you’d done something hurtful?  These things will happen, and these little compromises on expectations build the foundation for a relationship that can sustain them.

I’ve said it before.  NRE is a roller-coaster, friends, and sometimes one partner gets off the ride before the other.  What then?  You will never survive this blow if you’ve let every other changed expectation tear at you.  This is where the true strength of a relationship is tested.  This is where you find out what you can do together, and once again you adapt.  This is where love and compassion can mean everything.  This is where reaching out and the little things that define your relationship are imperative, because they’re so easily left behind when the ride is over.

There is no other message here.  Just let that one sink in a bit.

Aloha.

Go now.  Hold on tight.

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This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing.   I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle.  What happened behind the scenes was even worse.  I convinced myself I was a fraud.  I convinced myself I was worthless.  I convinced myself there never had been hope for me.  I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself.  Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me.  The power I felt in telling a part of my story.  The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine.  My life.  That was not a lie.  That could not have been false.

I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl.  What I have not written about is the backsliding.  What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed.  What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes.  It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives.  The answer is yes, it’s worth it.  All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.

We’re told healing is hard.  We’re told it’s a process.  We’re told it’s painful.  We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives.  We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens.  What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea.  It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner.  It doesn’t change learned behaviours.  It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness.  It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break.  Healing is not curing.  Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.

The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low.  My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love.  It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin.  In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it.  These things are no longer buried under me.  They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life.  There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.

You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”.  You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.

 

My husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I’m happy he’s happy, but as I’ve mentioned before, poly will draw every insecurity, every self-doubt, every self conceived blight you have ever had, and I am not known for my high self-esteem.  This is not the reason we have issues, honest.  Really that’s because she lied to me, and I hold grudges, which is something else I’m working on.  It’s something I’m constantly working on, but occasionally old habits rear their bitter heads.

Feelings of physical inadequacy can tear down any relationship if you let them, but this has the potential to be detrimental to a poly relationship.  It would be easy for me to think this girl is Hubby’s trophy girl, but it’d be all my own internal baggage.  He has not stopped looking at me or telling me he thinks I’m beautiful.  Our intimacy has not waned or changed in any way. 

 I have no reason to let these fears creep back up inside me, but I admit I sometimes when new partners enter the equation.  When Hubby met his first girlfriend, Emmy, I had just started to be sick with what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.  I was sick, I was weak, and it hurt just to be touched.  For a very long time sex was out of the question.  Emmy, on the other hand, was just starting to explore herself and was loving the new experiences Hubby was able to offer.  Hubby never told me he was disappointed, but it was palpable every time he tried to touch me and my body just couldn’t take the pain.  I felt like a failure as a wife and lover, and while I was happy he was taking this new step in our poly life I also felt a tinge of inadequacy.  It was a very trying time in our marriage, and there were times I listened to the voice that told me he could only stand to stay with his invalid of a wife because he could still get his rocks off somewhere else.  It was an extremely negative thought process that only lead to more negativity.  I grew bitter, resentful, and depressed, and eventually I took it out on him.

The further decline and eventual improvement of my health forced a huge change in attitude and perspective.  I decided that if my marriage was going to survive I needed to stop looking at it as a need for him to find something more desirable.  Instead I learned to celebrate my strengths and experience and know that I am just as desirable to him as I always have been.  He may have someone young and sexy to have fun with, but he still comes home to me with the same heated fervor.   While there is the new shiny factor that comes with all NRE we have a passionate bond that only time and knowing each other’s ins and outs can bring.  I still see the want and need in his eyes, and he lets me know all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful.

In my head I accepted his love and admiration long ago, but I try to keep this perspective in mind whenever the voices of doubt and insecurity, and sometimes a little envy, creep into my heart.  All that comes from negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I act on the venomous emotions and thoughts I become ugly and undesirable, somebody no one wants to be around.  This is when I lose him.  This is when he seeks others not because of his own love and freedom but to be away from me.  It’s not my physical baggage that pushes him away, it’s the mental and emotional.  Luckily that’s something I can fix.

I feel thankful every day that I have someone who joins me in ogling men and women when we’re out, who is overjoyed when he feels he’s snagged a looker and never minds sharing, and who is proud of me when I manage a fine catch myself.  Hubby lets me know constantly that I am his dream woman.  Even on my worst days he reminds me that I’m beautiful, capable, sexy, and smart.  I still catch his eyes watching me, and he is just as playful and romantic as the day we met.  Through ups and downs, problems with other partners, and bad experiences, he has never let me feel ugly or worthless.

So, yes, my husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I am happy he’s happy, and I am learning to forgive and let go of past indiscretions.  I also hear she’s quite fond of me and my body, and I am determined not to let my tainted self-esteem close that door to me.   After all, she’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain tolerance.

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Imbolc was weeks ago, but it’s lesson took a while to sink in. This winter has been exceptionally hard for our family, and every time we seem to pull ourselves from the ashes another fire starts. Firefighting is exhausting, so on Imbolc I tried to find a silver lining. Were the fires guiding? Clearing? Healing? No. They were just fires. Were they a message? A lesson? An admonition? No. Still just fires. I was done.
Over the last two weeks we’ve had more fires, and forget any plans we’d made to work around them, they demanded our attention daily. All I could do was run from place to place hoping to control the damage. Still, if there was somewhere we needed to be, we were there.
At Pantheacon this past weekend there was a Brighid healing ritual I really wanted to attend, but there was another class at the same time that called to me incessantly. Could I miss it? After asking for help and healing, could I really eschew the ritual designed to do just that? I did. I cringed as I watched the doors close and lock, but I skipped it and went to the other class.
What came of that has me sitting here, in the midst of another fire, waiting two hours without anywhere else to go, for a workshop given by the same woman who ran the class I skipped ritual for, a workshop about Ireland and Journeying to the Otherworld, a workshop with a slide that told me to do the exact thing my mind has been telling me to do since Imbolc; go see Brighid. Go to Ireland. Connect. See. Feel. Sing. Summer 2017. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. All I know is yes, I’ll be there, no matter how many fires need to be put out along the way.
This year I started wearing a semi-colon bracelet from the Semicolon Project, a depression and suicide awareness project that reminds us that these fires are not period or stops, but merely pauses. I’ve thought about forcing the period a lot on the last year when the fires seemed to get too close for comfort. While part of me had hoped for some kind of respite, I know better than to expect immediate change, so I’ve made a deal with Brighid to not let the fires win; not this year.

From time to time I will be posting #AYearofHere images on my Instagram and Twitter to remind myself not only why I’m here and what I’d be missing if I weren’t, but also when things are rough, the fires I’ve survived, and how strong I’ve been to fight them.

You see, the fires are nothing special. Next Imbolc I don’t really expect less fires, because they’re a part of anyone’s life, but I do expect to have a pretty good record of how she’s stood by me fighting them and how she’s healed my spirit in between. Sometimes fires are just fires, and it’s the life we live despite them that matters most.


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It’s not a secret I run from my emotions.  I enjoy intimacy, but I am terrified of expressing love.  I write poetry about the sadness of survival, but I filter those emotions within myself through the pen. Hell, put me behind the veil of the internet, and I will tell you anything you want to know.  Get me face to face and I’m a mess.  I make jokes, I tell stories, I use whatever tools i can to build walls around myself, to hide from genuine emotions in person.  I’m well aware of my avoidance tactics.

So, in July I start putting some tangible work into this one person show, now titled Good Girl, and I find all these walls have held me back from the one thing I need to access to make it a success.  I cannot perform something that reaches inside my audience if I don’t let them see inside me.  Queue montage music as I begin to dismantle walls, and in doing so i find more walls.  In doing so I find more versions of myself.  In doing so I find some ugly artifacts, but I also find power.  In doing so I find what I’ve been missing this entire time.

This journey has not just been about the show at the end.  It’s been about self discovery, some healing, and the power to change lives….but I can’t manage to change anyone else’s life if I continue to avoid the broken parts of my own.

I’ve talked about Aloha before.  THIS is Aloha.  This is the universal love, beauty, and peace that links us all.   This is what will get me to December and points beyond.

Here’s to the journey, friends.  Here’s to Aloha.

Many Blessings.

Go now.  Be emotional.

Let me tell you  a story.

Let’s pretend you have a kid who’s sick.  He’s got a variety of things that make his health a daily battle, several of which could be terminal.  

You have two choices.

You can treat each battle as something to mourn and never stop pushing forward.  It’s for the kid’s survival.  What kind of parent or you.  You can dwell on the kids who are losing their battles, and never let your kid forget he could die any day.

Or you can celebrate the good days and let the kid enjoy his life despite the battles.  You don’t treat them any less seriously, and you don’t stop taking care of his health, but you take a deep breath once in a while and go to the park.  You keep the kids who have lost their battles in your heart, and you educate yourself on advancements in care.

This is how I feel we can handle the Supreme Court decision about Marriage Equality.  We can celebrate it as what it is.  A step in the right direction.  Not the last step or the most important step, but a step.  We’re allowed to celebrate small victories without forgetting the other issues or those who are still battling.  Why?  Because the kid is still a human being, that’s why.  Just because this decision doesn’t fix all the problems for all the people does not give us the right to invalidate the people the decision does help in any way.

I’ve been told at least half a dozen time today that I’ not allowed to have an opinion on the matter as anything but a bystander.  Because I’m already married.  Because I’m bi and chose to legally marry a man.  Because I’m white.  Because I’m cisgendered.  Because…because…because.  I have never understood this kid of isolation as anything but what we’re fighting against, and I do not understand it now.  As a community of humans fighting together we need to also recognize the importance of being a community of humans exalting together.  The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are both vitally important to the survival of the spirit and humanity of the community.

No, the journey is not even mostly over.  No, the war has not been one.  No, celebrating this victory does not erase from our memories the journey behind us or the long road yet before us.

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Be together.

In a recent post I mentioned briefly the adjustments I’ve been making in my relationships to conquer the distance inherently put between me and my partners by my job.  I’ve always held a strong position against long distance relationships.  I rely heavily upon touch and face to face interaction to ground me in a relationship and give me a sense of stability and connection, and I havent never seen that possible in a situation where I don’t see a partner more than once a month, but with the commute I make for my job I’m finding more and more that even my marriage has similarities to a long distance relationship.

At first I fought it.  Adjusting to the commute and unusual schedule was hard enough without taking into account what might be happening at home.  In turn, Hubby sought solace in his tangible life and partners he could reach out to and began to suppress fears that I was on the slow road to leaving him, and our life together far behind.  The next step in the downward spiral was a deep depression caused by feelings that I was gradually being erased from my own family.  I considered leaving.  Unable to voice this feeling properly, I only validated Hubby’s suspicions, and the unraveling began, leaving us both feeling alienated and alone.

The solutions seemed bleak.  We either had to accept that this was our life now or end it, and neither of us was willing to accept either option.  Hubby’s approach was to demand things.  My time.  Phone calls.  All my plans and commitments at home would have to be cancelled to spend time with him.  I felt exhausted, smothered, and stretched too thin, and I lashed out, suddenly understanding why trained tigers might eventually eat their owners.  I felt helpless.

Then something happened.  I started texting him every day.  I didn’t have the hour or five a day he would have liked to have phone calls, and there was nothing I could do about the frequency with which I had to end such conversations abruptly because of my schedule, but he started to realize just now much I think of him when I’m not around.

A transformation began.  He became easier to talk to.  We exhumed inside jokes that had lost their sheen in the midst of our fighting and developed new ones.  Suddenly I felt like there wouldn’t be an exhausting battle every time we spoke, so I started putting him on speaker phone while I readied myself for work.  In short, I got my best friend back.

Other relationships were not so lucky.  After months of not knowing how to fix it, Ralph and I decided we could only survive in each other’s lives as friends.  Other tentative relationships came to similar fates, while the ones that were able to find a way to reconnect in new way thrived.  This.  This is where I began to see where the strength was in myself and in my partners.

Since this experience, each new relationship has been a valuable learning experience in communication and bonding.  Things that are important to me have had to be compromised while new needs have emerged in order to gain the stability I need to be a happy, sane, openly loving wife, partner, and even friend in some cases.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times I feel like these new endeavours are an emotional game of chutes and ladders, but it’s forced me to take  second look and only spend that energy on someone I feel deserves that kind of time and energy.

I’m still not sure what my stance is on long distance relationships.  The impulse is to have more partners to cover the lonely times, but even people I don’t see regularly take the same amount of resources, and I know all too well the effects of polysaturation.  Instead, I’m learning to find what works with each partner, and to give myself some of that energy as well.  We’ll explore that concept a little bit more later.

Aloha

Go now, reconnect.

It has never been planned this way, but between Yule and Brighid every year the seeds are planted for what will become the focal point of that year.  Last year I interviewed for the opportunity of a lifetime, a flight attendant position with the airline I have worked for for almost a decade. I got my acceptance call on Brighid in the middle of a blizzard.

It has taken nearly a tear for me to adjust to the lifestyle change.  The traveling and the service were easy.  The hard lesson was one of isolation.  Accustomed to the support system around me, I had to learn to get over my own inertia and face the intimidating silence of being alone.

I’ve had to handle my frustration, my sadness, my fear, and even my happiness on my own, and though it’s been one of the most difficult periods of growth I’ve ever faced, it’s given me more faith in myself as a result.  Last week, after a round of cancelled plans, I walked into a poetry slam not knowing a soul and got on stage as a stranger.  Taking up a chair at a table for four was a bit painful, but as the room filled people would sit and chat for a moment or two between poets, and by the time I knew it the night was over.  I had done it.  I had gone out alone.

From that experience came a voice from within echoing a push I’ve felt since the beginning of the year to take some big strides with my creative work.  Now that I feel fulfilled and content with my career and confident in my abilities to hold my dreams in my hands and know what they feel like, I feel inspired to pursue other goals with the same passion.

Passion.  The one thing that has always driven me no atter what held me back.  When I’ve been sick, broke, broken, and desperate.  When I’ve been fallow and lost.  When I’ve been alone.  Passion has always kept me pressing forward, and it is that passion that I find when I call for Brighid this Imbolc.  As her fire burns within me, it fuels the passion that dries me.  Her flame gives heat to my words, movement to my music, and life to my art.  Last year was my year of water and fluidity.  This year is my year of fire.  My year of Passion.

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