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Twenty years ago I learned a veritable tome of lessons, some of which I’m just learning now, and it seems unbelievable to me that I can look back at anything in my life knowing it happened twenty years ago.  My mom taught me a lot about life while she was alive, and I’ve mentioned that before.  She taught me compassion, strength, and determination.  She taught me to seek adventure and levity in everything, to make people laugh whenever you can, and to live and love with all your heart no matter how scary the world feels.  She taught me to trust my instinct and eschew advice that doesn’t feel right.  She taught me to be myself.

What my mother’s death taught me was open honesty.  You never know when the last time you say “I love you” or “good morning” or “good night” will be the last.  It’s made me vulnerable at times, and I’ve had to learn to accept when it’s not reciprocated, but hey, another lesson, right?

But you see, it also taught me some less than positive lessons.  At twelve years old I was already well aware that I was different.  I didn’t have many friends, my anxiety and depression were already in full swing, and I’d already thought about suicide more times than I can remember now.  I needed help, and I was constantly told I was wrong, broken, or worse…that I was fine.  I was fat, I was slow, and I was constantly missing the mark.  At twelve I had already had at least one nervous breakdown, I was scared of losing everyone I loved, and I had been proven correct.  At twelve I discovered my intuition and empathy in the worst way, and I hated it, so at twelve I learned to hide.  I learned to expect the worst.  I learned to expect to be alone.  I learned that change is terrifying.  I learned to build walls, and forgot all those lessons about love and life and laughter.

When I started the Power of One it was immediately pointed out to me that when I’m uncomfortable or anxious I smile.  It’s a skill I developed at a very young age, but I imagine I perfected it at my mother’s funeral.  Since then it became a crutch I used to get me through parts of my life I felt I could not navigate, and it began to cloud the genuine me.  I’ve been lucky enough to have people in my life who could see through the fog and find that genuine me, but for most of my life I haven’t been able to see her myself.  I’ve merely been relying on the testaments of others who tell me they see her, like a fairy tale buried deep inside me.  As the lessons from my mother started to actually take root and as my intuition and empathy refused to be ignored, life got harder, and the more I stayed inside my walls the more the fires outside tried to cook me out. I tried to let myself be vulnerable…to the wrong people at the wrong times.  I tried to be happy…all the time, and ended up holding in the pain and sadness until I couldn’t, resulting in some pretty spectacular meltdowns.   I tried to be strong and independent…and all I did was feel more like a failure.

In the year since I seriously started putting effort into my transformation, I’ve worked on being open without being overbearing, happy without using it to cover up when I’m not, and to know when I can be strong alone and when I need to reach out for help. Not all has gone according to plan, but if my mom’s death taught me none of this other bullshit, it taught me that life doesn’t care about your plans, and unpredictability brings as much serendipity as it does tragedy, and the only control I really have is how I choose to react to it, process it, and move on with my life.    Losing my mother was not the first tragedy I’d faced in my life, but it was the first one I felt like I was facing alone.  The truth is, every situation we face in life we face alone, even if we have the strongest support system on earth, because we’re the only ones who can do the internal work it takes for real survival…and real living.


Love you, Mom.  Thanks for still teaching me.  after all these years.


Go now, keep learning..keep living….





Mother’s Day snuck its way in subtly this year, and a bit earlier than usual. For a myriad of reasons it’s historically been a very hit or miss day for me emotionally. It’s unavoidable, but I try not to let it destroy ym ability to function, the result being anywhere from hermitting under the covers all day while my husband flips through funny movies to breaking down in the middle of a wedding reception. But that was before Good Girl, which dealt with both my guilt and grief over my mo’s death almost 20 years ago and the constantly evolving acceptance and mourning of pregnancy loss and knowing it’s unlikely I’ll be a mom. This year, as I’ve stated many ties since December, is different.
My posts about healing have taught me not to expect the same responses to even long recurring events in my life. Enter, Mother’s Day. I didn’t really know how it would hit me, so I had no idea how to begin to process emotions as they ebbed. I felt it coming, but it wasn’t the normal overbearing weight I’m used to, so I waited patiently for my body to tell me what it needed.
Last night I found myself in Spokane, WA, where I laughed and got a little tipsy with new friends. We talked about different issues in our lives, and I was able to begin to sort out different currents of emotion running through me. This wasnt a river of sadness, it was a mixture of different feelings ranging from sadness to gratefulness. I felt ok about things. A little lonely and down, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

This morning I woke up early feeling isolated from myself, and reaching out I found that most of my support system was busy, unavailable, or having their own issues. I really was alone. It hurt, and for a moment I let myself slide into darkness, but I forced myself up and went outside.

If you’ve never been to Spokane, go. It’s beautiful. I found myself walking by a series of waterfalls through a park, and I began to sing and old river chant to myself. As I stood on a bridge overlooking the falls it hit e all at once. The flood. Right there in a public park I bawled like a baby behind my sunglasses. Then it was over, and I realized that this year the grief is not the focus of my being. It’s there in the background, and every once in a while it strikes, takes my breath away, and recedes because it wants to be acknowledged. Not overpowered, not surrendered to, but acknowledged. It wants symbiosis.

A river, my river. It has its ebbs and flows, but it’s very controlled in its rage, and that’s what makes it powerful. This grief doesn’t have to make me weak. It doesn’t have to make me stop. It just has to happen. That doesn’t mean it won’t flood sometimes, but for the most part being a part of my river allows it to run on my terms.

So back to the healing. What’s been bothering me without my knowing it is this feeling that to heal is to abandon. My mom. My babies. My future. My past. Here in the present, it felt like moving forward was leaving them all behind.This river reminds me that it isn’t true. Nothing is ever abandoned, it just becomes a part of the flow.

I had my moment, then I put my phone on airplane mode to avoid any incoming negativity and took control of my day. I found a comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, Auntie’s Books and Uncle’s Games, and a pop up punk rock concert in a parking lot. I avoided the Trump rally despite having to deal with two men hitting on me holding support signs. I walked through parks and trails. I took a million and one pictures of waterfalls. I rode a gondola over the big falls by myself and didn’t have a panic attack as it dangled me precariously over the water. Why? Because was able to recognize the beauty and power in that river matching my own.

I can’t say Mother’s Day this year won’t be sad. I can’t say the tears and keening isn’t over. I don’t think it ever is. What’s also there is the rock solid support of my healing and the growth I continue to navigate, and that’s what makes it different. I’ve jumped in my river, made my peace with it, and am beginning to understand its power and beauty.


Go now, find your river.



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.

It is the moment I hear the words “I can’t handle drama” or “I need something uncomplicated” that I cringe, because I’ve never been considered particularly high maintenance to anyone except for the people who start conversations this way.  You see, the term “you throw up red flags” is it’s own monumental crimson banner.  Sometimes it even has floodlights and a little commemorative plaque.  In any case, this goes one or both of two ways.

In the first case I note the need and do my best to keep things laid very free-flowing, but there comes a point where my needs fall by the wayside, because any request on my part is seen as some kind of irrational demand on this person’s life.  I am immediately labelled “High Maintenance”.

In the second case I begin to walk on eggshells, afraid that anything I say or do may be misconstrued as histrionics, until I am so frustrated and exhausted by the who experience that I begin to reach out for anything I can get. This generally makes any previously mentioned “red flags” a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The added complication recently has been the additional condition of “What does Jenn need or want?” wherein not answering makes me a doormat and answering makes me complicated, both actions making me equally unacceptably high maintenance.  Friends, the answer to that question had two very simple conditions to it, and they’re the same as they have ever been.

This all seems like a perfectly good waste of what started as, and has the potential to be, an amazing relationship behind all the overthinking, but I have no other recourse but to step back and see what direction he takes.  I can’t keep worrying about it, nor can I keep throwing energy at something that neither meets my needs nor seems to be doing anything for him.  Do I hope it can be worked out? Of course I do.  Have I given up?  Nope.  But can I force something with someone unwilling to be inconvenienced?  Negative.  To try is a fool’s errand, and too often in love I end up a very frustrated fool.

Oh, and  Mr Too-Complicated?  He’s got a story for me every day about how negative and overly emotional people are making his life difficult, but I had too much going on to be date worthy.  

It has been my experience that people who use this condition are either ill-equipped to deal with emotions, unwilling to accept a situation that might require a little effort, or are prone to exaggeration.  Maybe I need to start taking their “red flags” as stop signs.

Just a thought.


Go now….with the flow.

There are words that push me over a precipice when I’m upset.  Mainly “It’s OK”.

It’s OK. Wait, it’s OK?  Well, then, I guess all this snot and crying is for nothing!  I might as well just stop this instant.

No, friends.  It’s not OK, hence all the snot and crying, and it makes me livid to hear these words used to comfort me.

When did we become a society that devalues being upset?  Why are we so afraid of raw emotion? What makes us say anything just to make it stop?  When women are upset they’re hysterical or histrionic.  When men are upset they’re unstable or weak.  Why should human emotion make one a pariah?

It has always been stressed during group rituals that there is a serious rule about interjecting when someone gets emotional unless there is an obvious emergency.  Why? Because to interrupt is to rob someone of an integral part of the experience.  Granted, being sad and going to someone for emotional support isn’t a ritual experience, but it is still very important to see it out.  I’ve told Hubby in the past that I don’t ever expect him to fix my problems, I just want to know I’m not alone while I process them.

Being upset is a sign.  It means something in our life is important enough to be upset over.  It’s an impetus for change and growth.  It’s a push to rid ourselves of what’s holding us back so that life can heal us the way it’s meant to.

I know most people mean well when they say “it’s OK”, and most of the time what they mean is “it’s going to be OK”, but it’s a cop-out to the obvious.  Instead, what anyone who is upset and reaching out for comfort needs to remember is, “it’s not OK, and that’s alright”.

We are the artists, the healers, and the teachers.  We are those who feel, and sometimes we don’t know why until we have learned to acknowledge and process them.  We are the empaths, and our journey is unique.  It’s not always easy, but it can be highly rewarding and fulfilling.

As an empath I am generally at least aware of my environment on a very intimate level.  I can get a feel for people pretty quickly in ways they might not even be in touch with themselves.  I can tell when people are hurting, sick, or frustrated, but I can also see their capacity for love and joy when they might not be able to.  It makes me a caretaker by nature.  I am generally that friend answering her phone at some odd hour of the night because I’ve never turned down a request for help I was available to give.

The flip side of all this is that it makes me a lover, which in and of itself is not a negative thing.  I’ve expressed before that being vulnerable doesn’t make me weak.  It makes me stronger every time it backfires, but when it doesn’t I am reminded why I live and love as openly as I do.  It also makes me stubborn and persistent.  I can see past all the verbal armor people use on a daily basis, excuses that we think protect us from our own fears and insecurities.  I promise you, they protect you from nothing.  If anything you become a victim of yourself, and eventually those things become who you are instead of the things inside that actually define you.  These are the things I see as an empath.

This also means I can tell when I’m being lied to or set aside.  I can tell when a relationship has become about sentimental nostalgia instead of new refreshed emotion.  I don’t like it, and at times I’ve tried to fight it, but I can always feel it.  It’s at these times where I have a choice, just as I have a choice whether or not to speak up when I see these things affecting others.  Do I speak up?  Do I keep trying to fool myself with the same sentimentality?  Do I force a change or do I wait for the inevitable?

Being an empath has taught me to throw everything I have to the surface, to give all of myself to those I feel won’t abuse it, and to see doors most people would generally walk past.  It’s also taught me to identify other empaths, because they are generally the people I can communicate with on an unspoken level.  There’s an amazing bond between two people who can feel everything happening in each other.  My world is full of them.  We laugh together, we hurt together, and we experience love together, and it’s extremely painful when someone starts to distance.

This.  This is what I fear.  This is my biggest concern coming true.  Distance from someone who once knew me so well.  So what do I do?  This, friends, is where my soul is.


Go now, get in touch with yourself.



“You’re too smart for that.”


I have heard these words since I was a child.  As females, my generation was taught at an early age  that any show of emotion is irrational behaviour, and that if we want to be taken seriously in any area we must only rely on intellect.  As adults we are accused of histrionics at the slightest hint of emotion and as silly idiots if we follow anything out of pure intuition.  In fact, none of us is trained how to use our intuition as a resource.  We are told instead to ignore one of our most useful navigational tools.  Why is it hard to grasp a well-rounded life in which emotions and intellect don’t need to be mutually exclusive?

I am no stranger to the terms “follow your heart” or “follow your gut“.  These, and many other “do what feels right” adages are all ways of explaining the same thing: intuition.  One of intuition’s easiest languages to learn to read is emotions.  Can you see the pretzel beginning to form here?

The problem here is that we cannot learn to feel and process our emotions while we’re suppressing them.  We make mistakes.  As children we throw tantrums, and at some point we are all emotional, hormonal adolescents, but what society overlooks is a chance in those moments to not only teach us how to cope with emotions, rather than avoiding them, but to read them in others in order to better interact with other emotional humans. Enter: Customer Service.  I have gotten quite adept in my years of teaching, working with children with special needs, and working in Customer Service to know how to identify emotions in others and mold my approach to them accordingly.  I’ve made a sort of side hobby out of observing those around me and figuring out how people communicate their emotions without even knowing it. Imagine what a world we could live in if we were all taught these skills.

With Imbolc approaching the unnecessary disconnect between emotions and intellect has played heavily in my personal meditation.  Intuition might make me more likely to take risks, but even if those dice don’t fall where I want them to I gain something from rolling them.  This is also not a blind science.  Intuition and emotions may draw my attention to a specific area, and from there I can calculate the risks and decide whether the best case scenario is worth the worst.  Being a wife, a friend, a girlfriend, a businesswoman, a lady, and an adult all at once is a juggling act.  One can’t be too cold, too distant, too expressive, too whimsical, to caring, or too trusting of one’s intuition.    Brighid, however, shows us exactly how to juggle all those things without dropping anything or sacrificing quality.

Brighid is healer, midwife, poet, warrior, and smith, among other things.  When I evoke her in rituals I often speak to one of these facets, but I have found recently that calling out to one, powerful, multifaceted Brighid has made me stronger and more focused as a practitioner and as a woman.  Why?  Because Brighid’s complexity is what makes her powerful.  While each of her elements has its unique properties, it is putting them together that makes her Brighid.  She is the light of hope to make it through the rest of the winter because she is not just a single ray of light, she is the dazzling sunlight of dawn.  She is not just a single flame, she is every flame that has sparked from her torch.  She is intellect, art, and intuition, which is what makes her unstoppable.

Looking at Brighid this way has taught me volumes about myself.  I am not either a writer or a photographer.  I am not either a wife or a woman with a career goal.  I am not driven either by my intellect or my emotions.  I am all of these things, and I am stronger and more beautiful because of it.


Go now, feel your complexity.



I apologize for the delay in posts.  It has been a busy time in Autumn’s world, but we made it through our annual “Extended family Dinner” with flying colours.  I also have to admit that this topic has given me the most cause to pause and rethink a few things in my life, as it is not one I can relate to as well as the others.  I have been “the other woman” but never a third, and writing this article has forced me to face the fact that there will be times in my triad relationship when I have to sacrifice, when I may not be put first, or when I may be alone.

The first thing to remember is that there are different kinds of relationships extraneous partners have with a couple.  No matter what is decided, it needs to be decided before the relationship progresses too far to avoid confusion and hurt feelings.  Some outside partners have very little association, if any, with the partner they are not directly seeing.  Others are incorporated into the marriage and become a member of the household, like Emmy is in our marriage.  The latter arrangement can mean the third is involved with both partners, but this is not an assumed position.  It all comes down to the third’s comfort, attraction, and willingness to be involved.  Would it be easier for me if Emmy were attracted to and in love with me the way she is with Hubby?  Of course it would, but I can not force the issue.

The hardest thing for some monogamous or uninvolved partners to realize is that thirds are not drones or robots.  They have their own issues, emotions, need, fears, and concerns.  For the involved partner the important thing to remember is that thirds also have flaws and inconsistencies.  No relationship is perfect.  The uninvolved partner may not be made privy to these issues and concerns, but if the third is a part of the household it may help.  I have been told there are issues Hubby and Emmy have discussed, but I have not been told what they are.  At times I wonder if I am the issue, and it becomes a dangerous cycle of doubt I have had to train myself not to enter.  It really is none of my business, but I wonder if we would not function better as a triad if I knew just some of the concerns and questions brought to the table.  I know Hubby discusses our issues with Emmy, and I wish sometimes I was afforded the same openness.   In any case, it is important that Emmy’s needs be addressed whether it fits the ideal image of our household or not.  It doesn not mean she should not be expected to compromise as much as the rest of us, but it means I am expected to as well.

In speaking with people who have been thirds and had experienced this role in polyamory I have encountered a few things that have been issues in their minds.  The first is that they are always “the other” man or woman.  Especially in one’s first encounter as a third there is a feeling that maybe this really is not acceptable or that they will always take a back seat.  While a significant other will take priority in a situation that requires a choice be made, usually a third will not become a third wheel.

Another concern brought to my attention was the constant fear of overstepping one’s bounds.  Even in the most open situations it may be hard to read where the boundaries are and what permissions one has.  This is why i stressed in my last couple posts the importance of setting boundaries and sticking to them.

An issue I had never really considered before was public image.  Emmy once mentioned an uncertainty about her social role with us.  Would she be our “roommate” forever?  Who would she be to the kids.  This situation is rarely replicated in any two poly relationships, and it really depends on a triads need for discretion professionally and with extended family.  It also takes into consideration a third’s social structure and comfort with what information becomes public knowledge.  All these things will decide how a third is mentioned in  conversation.

The last, and biggest, concern I came across was a fear that while a married couple wills till be married a third is vulnerable and will be the one ultimately left alone.  I can tell you, as a significant other, that I have felt this way, too.  It is not a fear exclusive to thirds, and not a vulnerability specific to them either.  Hubby could just as easily decide he wants to spend the rest of his life with Emmy and leave me.  I could decide I can no longer share his heart and leave him with her to decide if she wanted to remain committed to him.  Everybody is vulnerable in this situation, but it is unhealthy to think this way.  It breeds nothing but paranoia and competition.

As I wrap up the series, I hope I have been at least some help.  If nothing else, it has helped me work out a few of my own fears and unravel some misunderstood emotions.  I honestly do not know where this relationship between Hubby and Emmy will lead, but I have decided to stay out of it unless it directly affects me and my marriage.

I have my own issues to work on, but if nothing else it is a growing experience for all of us.  It has served to strengthen my relationship with Hubby and forced me to trust another female, something that has been extremely difficult for me to do all my life.  I am still learning to share and to trust, but no matter how much we learn it does not mean there are no more speed bumps or dead ends to encounter.  It just means we are better equipped to deal with and move past them.  There will be other partners, and there will be other arrangements.  People will come, and people will move on with their own lives.  We will continue to grow and learn from everyone who enters our life as a household, and we will love them all the same.

Remember this, my dears, love makes a family. Now go, love your family!

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