Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about

A day after I declared that the time for whining and wallowing was done and it was time to move forward, L found $140 in a parking lot. The day after that, our housing situation solidified and, instead of having an uncertain 60 days (to which we are almost at an end), we now have 6 months with a manageable rent payment scheduled to begin in about three weeks. And I have two days off in a row. All of that screams to me that the Universe and Momma and Papa are behind me 150% and that my sense that it was time to start moving forward was accurate and in sync with what is in my highest and best interest as well as where we are in the Wheel of the Year.

The Summer Solstice is a time of things coming to fullness and abundance. It’s not time yet to start to do the work of harvesting – now is the time to simply revel in the beauty and prosperity that abounds, to take joy in living among the fruits of previous labors.  It feels to me to be a quintessential live-in-the-moment sabbat. The work of the harvesting will come soon enough, but it’s not time now. And despite this whole year feeling a bit Samhain-esque, the events of the past few days seem to be saying to me that we have completed the spiral down in this time of transformation, and now we begin spiraling back up. The road blocks that contributed to the necessity of the transformation have been uprooted and are no longer in our path. And while I’m not so naive as to think there won’t be bumps or stones that will be encountered and need to be dug up – after all, we are here to grow and learn and unfold which means taking off all that is not Truth – it feels as though we have reached a turning point in this cycle. And for that I am exceptionally grateful.

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See ya, Eeyore…

It feels as though I’ve been living at work for the past several days. I worked the dinner shift on Saturday, a double yesterday, and tonight and tomorrow I’ll be closing before I get a day off. I slept in this morning till 11am – my body needed the rest apparently.

During one of the shifts I’ve worked (the days are all blurring together right now), I was doing my beginning sidework before we opened, and someone had decided old(er) school hip hop was the music of choice. So there I was jamming along to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as I polished silver and glassware and internally fumed about what my schedule looked like over the days that would follow. Suddenly, there was an abrupt musical change. Snoop was silenced and U2’s Bono began serenading the restaurant. It wasn’t a song with which I was familiar, so my ears tuned in to listen to the lyrics. It was then that I noticed that the Universe was sending me a message as a little twinge in my belly let me know these were words I needed to hear, even as internally, my response was, “Hey!” as if I’d just been delivered a veiled insult:

“You’ve got to get yourself together

You’ve got stuck in a moment

And you can’t get out of it

Don’t say that later will be better

You got stuck in a moment

And you can’t get out of it.”

I learned later that the song was, “Stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of.” Rather lengthy for a title, I think, but also a propos. Especially that part about getting myself together. While I’ve had moments of clarity and purpose when I’m not wallowing, I’ve spent so much time – whether internally, here, or wherever – getting my “Eeyore” on via bemoaning my situation to the point where I’m even annoyed with me about it. Hell, look at how I began this post. Not that a good whine or venting can’t be cathartic from time to time, but certainly not when it becomes the norm. Enough. Shit happens. Life sucks some times. It’s all temporary and transient, though. And I’m far from being powerless, so the time for acting like I am is over.

So today, I am manifesting a new and (appropriately and balanced-ly) willful beginning; pulling myself back together in order to embrace a new moment – one rooted in gratitude, in alignment with my highest and best interest, and that will make my True Self and Momma and Papa sing with joy and ecstasy.

Daring to wish

Fires are raging as I write this in the southeast – over 200 in Florida alone as well as several large ones nearby just across the border in Georgia. In our backyard squirrels are scurrying frantically in the trees above, displaced by the fires that are in the process of destroying their homes as they seek safe haven here. The air is thick with smoke and the light filtering through it casts an almost eery orange glow.

Though all the elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Spirit) are powerful in their unique forms and manifestations, that of Fire seems to me to be the most obvious, the loudest, the quickest. My Teacher told me early on in my studies of the elements that Fire is the most dangerous element when out of control – it reaks the most havoc and destruction – whether in energetic or literal terms. When it comes to natural phenomena, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes – they’re all impressive in the destruction they create. Yet, even with those three, there is a chance that some things may be salvaged even after a direct hit. I don’t think that’s the case with Fire, at least not in my mind. It consumes everything in its path. Virtually nothing is safe. Because of that, perhaps, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the destruction Fire leaves in its wake, to get caught up in loss to the point of being blinded as to how to move forward. In times of great tumult, we tend to forget that everything moves in cycles; that a new beginning follows each ending; and, that Fire is also the element of purification, transformation, and creation. Even wildfires have their benefits – the ash that remains nourishes and provides nutrients to the soil that enrich it in ways nothing else can so that what grows there next is stronger and more amazing than what was there before.

This morning I took my meditation time out on our back patio to a soundtrack of newly transplanted squirrels having animated conversations in the trees over my head. I felt an odd kinship with the furry little creatures and had a great appreciation for their agitation at being displaced. I have spent more time than not focusing on feelings of devastation, dis-ease, and discomfort recently. The moments when I have reminded myself of what I wrote above – that this is simply a part of a cycle, that it is not an end that lacks a new beginning, that it is a time of transformation and renewal – have frequently gotten lost as I allow myself to plunge back into those feelings of being overwhelmed, displaced, and disoriented, and wanting nothing more than to tuck into myself in some small corner of the world until it’s all done and is safe again.

That tucking in to myself-ness I’ve been feeling lately leads to not wanting to interact with the rest of the world except when it’s absolutely necessary. No amount of reaching out feels safe from right here. It feels like it could just be one more thing that could get taken away and right now, it doesn’t feel like I can afford it. Unfortunately, I cannot stay balled up somewhere and wait until everything’s all better again. It doesn’t work that way, it seems. Grace wrote not long ago about just taking one good step each day in times like this. I took one earlier today when I emailed a place to donate my counseling services so I can acquire the hours I need to complete my EdS degree. I’m not certain yet whether it will work out, but I did my part.

When just taking that step feels monumental, going so far as to making a wish is even scarier. A wish feels like a little piece of my heart that gets sent out into the Universe, and given the current state of my heart, letting go of any of it seems a great risk. But I’m determined to keep moving forward, so I will dare to wish. The delights I wish for today, perhaps as a consequence, are not luxuries like spa days, shopping sprees, or vacations to exotic places. The delights I wish for include seeing my wife smiling with ease, laughing, and being happy; a house with a big backyard for me and my family; shots and vet care for all of our kitties and for them to be able to be inside with us; a job doing what I am meant to do that comes with an income that more than covers our needs; our debt to disappear in a way that doesn’t destroy anyone’s credit report; our 14 year old’s tooth fixed and new teeth for L; my EdS degree completed and my associate license as a counselor; my relationship with my parents to be healed and for them to be an active and loving part of our lives; waking up each morning with a feeling of joy and anticipation instead of sorrow, stress, and struggle; being able to afford to spend energy and resources giving back to those who have supported us and others in need. That is what I wish for today.

 

Rethinking family

I’ve been immersing myself in fluffy romance books the past few days, and while I’d done so with the intention of taking some respite from the world around me, the Universe, it seems, had other plans. I’ve been reading Sherryl Woods’s Chesapeake Shores series (lovely reading, btw) – all love stories of some variety set in a split up and somewhat estranged family with subplots revolving around reconciliation.  Consequently, instead of light and relaxing reading, my cloudy thoughts have drifted to my own family of origin, our disagreements and subsequent semi-estrangement, the people I call family now, and the concept of family in general.

My sister and I have been at odds for a long time. She didn’t weather my coming out as Pagan 7 years ago very well, but she eventually got to the point where she could tolerate it. When I came out as bi and poly (simultaneously just about) a few years later, however, she had a much more difficult time. I’d had less contact with my parents in those interim years especially, tension at an all-time high as they dealt with their own anger and grief that I had seemingly strayed so far from who they’d hoped I would turn out to be, and confusion at how that had all come about due to the fact that I’d cloaked my thoughts and ideas from them when historically, they were who I had turned to.  I knew at the time that their staunch disapproval could be stronger than my own inner wisdom that the path I was walking was best for me. The only solution I found before I came out and then afterward for a while was to withdraw from them, from their judgment, from the questions they would ask (and eventually did) that I either had, at worst, no answer to or, at best, no answers that would make sense to them. As for my sister, her stance wasn’t that different from theirs. Our relationship had never been very strong due to our striking differences that have always led to clashes in personality and interaction, and it proved too weak to handle the news. Looking back at it now, I can see where they were coming from – thinking I’d joined a cult because they probably couldn’t come up with anything else to explain my alienating them or what appeared to be a sudden shift in my thinking and life choices.  It was extremely difficult for me to communicate with them calmly when I was working through such extreme emotions myself. I didn’t handle it well. I didn’t have everything sorted out, and my determination to follow what I knew in my belly was right – regardless of how convaluted or disastrous it looked on the outside – was simply viewed as me, following a track record I’d set in high school and early college, being impulsive or listening only to my heart without thinking. Consequently, my parents interaction with me was  little different from what it had been when I was 16 or 17 – laced with patronizing and condescending tones and demonstrating little regard and respect for my autonomy and ability to think and choose for myself. And while I think all parents (at least the halfway decent ones) want what is best for their child, ideally there comes a time when the parent realizes they’ve done what they could and relinquishes those reins to their child.  I’m pretty sure my parents never got that memo.

Over the past couple years, my relationship with them has been whittled down to an increasingly smaller number of safe topics of conversation: school and work. Everything else – what has and continues to matter most to me – is taboo. My sister has had no tolerance or understanding that my partners and our kids are just as much my family to me as her husband and my nephew are to her and has, consequently, been quick to throw in my face that I’ve abandoned my ‘family’ for “those people.” She and the rest of my family of origin have been on my mind over the past few days as I’ve read these books, mourned what currently is, dared to hope for some type of reconciliation some day, and reflected on how I define family.

Family are the people who accept you for who you are, warts and all; the people who support you when the rest of the world takes pot shots, pointing out your abundant flaws.  They call you on your shit if need be, and when they do so, it is unmistakably from a place of love – not from a place of needing to be right or to belittle you or cast judgments. They respect your freedom to choose for yourself. They are present not just when everything is bright and rosy, but in those darkest of days when everything looks or is broken and scattered to help you put the pieces back together again, and in a way that you want – not what they want. Your happiness and well-being are their greatest wishes for you, and they recognize they’re not in charge of how that gets defined or what it looks like. They listen, give you space to grow and to change, and to become whoever it is that you decide you want to be and take joy in who you are. They help you find your Self when you’re lost. Family takes you in when no one else will. Blood does not make a family. Intention, love, compassion, respect, and understanding make a family. It is an honor not to be taken lightly. When you area member of such a family, there is no score sheet kept, only the soul-level promise of sacred reciprocity, love, and support.

Through the course of the eviction proceeding we experienced, my brother-in-law (my wife’s husband’s brother), despite being newly in the process of a tangled divorce, invited my family – all six of us – into his home to live virtually rent-free while we work to get back on our feet. Each day, our girls shower me with hugs and kisses and ‘I love you’s,’ some times for no reason at all except that “it looked like I needed it.” Our son trusts me to give him pointers on singing (despite my lack of formal training) and makes himself vulnerable to and with me by asking for my feedback, in spite of the difficulty he has with women in authority due to being abused by his step-grandmother who helped raise him. L consistently and with amazing patience puts up with my irritability and crankiness and, at least once a week, pauses to give me a hug and tell me how grateful he is I am a part of our family. What amazing gifts these people are to me, and I have taken them for granted for too long. There are a few more I want to recognize and to whom I wish to express my gratitude:

My Beloved and I received a gift from one of those amazing individuals who I have come to call family, despite our not yet having met face to face, yesterday. It was a gift of encouragement and support, one of Love, Grace, Well-Being, Peace, and Abundance. Your very presence in my world is a gift,  Grace. Though no words can fully capture my gratitude to you and the sacredness with which I hold our bond, I honor and love you like a sister (should).  I give you my loyalty and my pledge to support you in whatever way I am able, whenever you need. Thank you for being my sister.

I have another “sister,” one who I met and was roommates with my senior year in college. Jenn, from our days at the Big Easy to living in different states, through all my explorations and changes and coming outs, you have been present. You have loved me, accepted me, and supported me through the most enormous changes in my life as well as called me on my shit and reminded me of who I am when I’ve gotten lost. Your continued friendship and unconditional support are one of the reasons I have not given up or gone crazy. I love you, and I cherish you, and I am so blessed to have you in my world. Whenever, wherever, whatever – for you I am here. Thank you for being my sister.

Since my mother has not had it in her to be what I needed as a mother, the Divine blessed me with a surrogate in the form of my favorite Aunt. Phoebe, love, to me, you are a face of She Who Was Before All That Is. You have blessed me so abundantly by being the Mother that I didn’t have but have always dreamed and desperately prayed for. Your unconditional love and acceptance and guidance have continuously reignited my hope that it will all be all right as well as my faith in the Divine and my Self. There is not a more precious gift you could give me. You have my loyalty and love and devotion. I love you and honor you for everything that you are with everything that I am. Thank you for being a Momma to me.

There is one more. Beloved, you have given me the greatest gifts I could ever hope for. You taught me about Her and helped me to re-member how to connect with Her and how to get Home. You bless me every day with the amazing honor of sharing your Self with me and fighting and working to stay here. You created my family and made me a part of it. You have put up with my shit life time after life time, calling me on it when necessary, but otherwise giving me the freedom, time, and space to find my way back to my Self and holding infinite trust and faith that I can get there. You are evidence to me that unconditional love is not only possible, but that it exists because you live it every day. I am so unbelievably honored to share my Self and my life with you. And I will spend the rest of forever honoring you. You have my eternal love, devotion, loyalty, committment, and gratitude. Each day, every day, all ways and always. Thank you 4711 for being and for being my Beloved.

Thank You

My very wise Teacher taught me the importance of expressing gratitude, recognition, and giving credit to magic when what I (or we) have worked manifests or prayers show evidence of being heard. Last night I came home from my fourth day of training at the restaurant, completely exhausted. After I had recounted the most important details of my shift, my Beloved and I went out to our patio for a cigarette. She began recounting to me parts of her day. She smiled as she regaled the story of the newest kitten who adopted us shortly before we moved jumping into the pool (a total of three times, after she scooped him out twice) and following her around as she cleaned it. My Beloved has a stunning smile, and as I watched her whole face light up with the story and listened to her laughing, I saw that a glimmer of her had returned to her. A tightness in my chest unravelled, and the air entering my lungs has possibly never been so sweet.

I know the road ahead of us may be long and winding. I know moving through a Dark Night such as this is a process, as my Sacred Sister Grace, recently helped me remember. And I know that Momma and Papa heard my cries the other day, and perhaps some angels decked out in body glitter and sporting spiked purple hair, too.  Thank You. And thank you, Beloved, for holding on.

Calling all angels…

It’s been a rough few days over here. I’ve come to this space that I created more times than I can count to write…something. To try to process and put into words and, therefore, hopefully make some kind of sense, out of everything. Virtually each time I’ve come, I end up staring at my dashboard display. Usually for several minutes at least. I take a breath in the way people do before they’re about to start talking, but then, nothing. A few times I’ve started writing (and have even gone so far as to save my drafts) but then I reach a point where it just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m not saying what I want to say how I want to say it or I’m missing pieces of it that would make it make sense (some times even to myself and other times to someone who isn’t me) or it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Eventually I close the tab with a sigh. Thus the conundrum of trying to write from where I am. So much of the time, there are just no words.

I got a job waitressing last week and today was my third day training. I’ve always been able to fall back on this line of work, more than likely thanks to my father who’s an Executive Chef.  He was teaching me about and persuading (most often when I was younger attempting to persuade) me to try things like roasted quail served in a carmelized shallot reduction sauce and French red wines from the Cotes du Rhone valley as young as 7 yrs old (not the wine, though – that didn’t come till I was around 12 probably).  Of course my child taste buds refuted all of the above in favor of Velveeta shells and cheese with frozen green beans and breakfast sausage links. Alas, I digress.  My getting a waitressing job is a positive occasion for several reasons: 1) I’m a good waitress and right now when I am feeling low and powerless in regards to my life situation, it’s comforting to have at least one area where I know I can excel, 2) Well-organized restaurants (this one seems to score pretty high in that department) translate into concrete and predictable tasks which, again at this point in time when everything else is just all over the fucking place, gives me something tangible and measurable to focus on and to do, and, of course 3) it means income for my family and me.

I think the hardest part for me about where I am right now is the feeling of helplessness, powerlessness, and lack of virtually any kind of control. We Fire people do not handle these kind of situations very well typically. I have always fought – granted, most of the time I’m fighting things that I shouldn’t be (just another form of resistance). Chalk it up to numerous past lives as a warrior of some sort, sheer stubbornness, or who knows what. Right now, however, I am faced with numerous things that I cannot fight. 

I cannot fight the depression that seems to be choking the life out of my Beloved each day. I cannot fight the lack of jobs out there that would be good for/hire L. I cannot fight L’s broken arm. I cannot fight the fact that our radiant and incredible 19 yr old was raised by the Spawn of All Evil (my Beloved’s diagnosably sadistic sociopath of a biological father), was traumatized and has massive gaps in his memory, does not want to do any healing work right now, developmentally is at the age of about 12 at best and that the poisonous socialization he received seems to leak out and is impacting our girls.  I cannot fight our amazing and brilliant 14 yr old’s difficulty with processing emotions and subsequent tendency to internalize everything. I cannot fight our sweet and compassionate 10 yr old’s clinginess and falling back on throwing her energy around like a mace because psychically she knows things are not okay, yet she’s too young to be able to figure it out and do anything constructive about it nor the fact that she should have to.  I cannot fight the former supervisor of my practicum class and his lack of responsiveness to my emails and inquiries about completing my hours I need to finish my damn degree. I cannot fight. Not the way I’m accustomed to, anyway, which puts me in very unfamiliar territory where results seem to be much slower and far more infrequent in manifesting. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to be here. Not here as in ‘on the planet’ here – I have no intentions of leaving any time soon. Rather, actively being in this space. Something has to change and I have no idea how to change it or what “it” even is. What I know is that my family is suffering.

I know also that I need to process, and I also know I don’t always have words to use to do that. Something I intend to start doing here is to lean back on something I have always used to help me process: music. I started playing the piano when I was about 7 yrs old and took lessons all the way through high school. Whenever I was in some kind of funk, my mom would always tell me to go bang on the piano (not literally, though I did often choose songs that were very powerful and played them loudly). I don’t have a piano right now, so I will resort to finding songs that fit where I am in some way, shape, or form and posting them here.

I’m starting that now. Although this post has had a lot of words, I want to officially send some musical SOS message out into the Universe. I don’t work with angels in my spiritual practice. It’s not that I don’t believe they exist – I very much do, though not in the way most people think of them, what with halos, wings, and serene demeanors 24/7. So this song isn’t so much about the angels specifically (though I certainly wouldn’t turn down any aid they had to offer), but rather the Divine Itself.