Did I fool anyone?

Likely just myself. I can’t do this. I can’t not blog. I mean, I’m sure I could, but the break, the retreat, whatever, is not working out the way I thought it would. Instead of feeling rested, I’m beginning to feel stifled. Damn it.

Okay, so: I’m making the blog public again. I thought about doing it post-by-post, the ones I wanted to keep public, but honestly, that’s just too much damned work and I don’t want to. I am, however, starting a new blog, primarily because I want a ‘new notebook’ and while having 8 years of blogging history here is pretty neat, it feels cluttered and disorganized, and all that. So. so.

Strip Me Back to the Bone v2.0 is up and running. I’m hoping that this will be a more well-thought out, more organized space, possibly with better writing (but maybe not). This is essentially going to be archived, so if you’re interested in seeing new material, go ahead and check the new space out.

Thanks, and thank you to everyone who reached out to me during this time. Y’all rock.

My big goal for 2017: or: I’m retiring Strip Me Back to the Bone

I’ve known, for months now, that I’d be treating 2017 like a ‘retreat’ year. Not in the running away sense so much as in the distilling/simplifying/slowing down sense. I’ve also known, for months now, that I’m growing tired of writing for my blog. I’ve sat with this, because in historically, being tired of writing has been a huge red flag for me, in dealing with my depression and anxiety. Writing publicly about my spiritual and religious practices have been an unfailingly helpful tool in countering that depression and anxiety for ages. I’ve sat with this, because maybe a lot of this feeling on the edge of burnout is a result of this year’s election — not so much the results (which are bad enough) but just . . . the whole thing. And no, I can’t articulate that any better.  I’ve sat with this, to see if the feeling would pass, and to see if this had any of the hallmarks of incoming apathy, and to see if it was reactionary and impulsive.
My plan with the ‘go on retreat without leaving your home’ was to curtail social media (I’m not leaving FaceBook, but I’m restricting how much time I spend there and I have heavily filtered my feed, and I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting there in the months to come) but to keep blogging. Part of the reason for this ‘go on retreat without leaving home’ plan is because I want to spend more time experiencing where He’s leading me, without forcing any sort of structure upon it. Part of the reason is because I want to explore what it’s like to have the depression — which I never knew was as bad as it was until I was medicated. I thought anxiety was my big problem, with a side of depression. Instead, the anxiety seems to have been my SOS call, my warning system. ‘Something is really wrong omg plz halp!’ that never turned off because, you know: depression. But I digress — that’s being treated. I want to explore who I am with that under control. I’ve said, repeatedly, throughout the course of the year, that I don’t recognize myself. And that keeps happening. So, maybe I need to actually take some time to meet myself.

I explored, when the medication began to help, whether or not I might be as introverted as I thought I was, all this time. I opted for being a bit more socially active, and I started doing a lot of projects, because suddenly I could. Eventually this overwhelmed me, but it took some time to see that as being overwhelmed, because it’s such a different feeling that the overwhelmed feeling of free rein depression days. In the end, I think I’m actually more introverted than I thought I was.

I’ve been writing, more or less publicly, about my spiritual life for over a decade at this point. And I don’t regret doing so. And I’m not saying I’m never going to blog again. But this blog in particular was created as a showcase of what a devotional life lived devoted to Poseidon might look like. My spiritual landscape is going through changes, and my relationship with Him isn’t changing, except, also, it is. Names are beginning to matter less. Which doesn’t mean who He is is changing, and it doesn’t mean that I love that He introduced Himself as Poseidon and is now all, “why are you so concerned with names??” and everything. When I first met Him, the internet was not the thing it’s become, and social media was years and years away. I explored o/Our relationship with Him, and w/We defined it. And as things shift, as He brings me deeper into His mysteries, I want that again. I want that privacy. So, I’m taking it.

I wasn’t going to announce this; I was just going to taper off with the blogging. I hate how attention-y this whole thing sounds, but there’s a number of you who have been reading my writing here for years, and I just don’t feel write not being upfront about this. Keep it real, you know?

Again: I’m not swearing off blogging for life, and I’m not saying I’ll never write about my spiritual practices again. But, here, at least, and for now, at least, this part of the journey is over.

I’ll be keeping the blog up for a week, and then setting it to private. If there’s any bit you’d especially like to keep, now’s the time to grab it. Thank you for your support and your understanding.

So, Beth and I are getting married.

I’ve talked about this briefly on FB, and Beth’s written her own post about this here, and that was going to be that, but now that it’s the wee hours of the morning, and my week of being mostly offline is starting to chafe at me (gonna have to rethink this whole social media sabbatical, Jo) and I’m full of thinky-thoughts, I guess I’m going to write a blog post about this, too.

We’ve been talking about this since I started my new job. The AFA really isn’t all that affordable if you’re not in a traditional job. OHP is an option, but the coverage is not the best. My new employers have a pretty awesome insurance plan, that’s affordable, but unlike my former employer, one has to be married in order to get added to the plan. So I came home from my orientation and said, “So, wanna get married?”*

So, we are.

But wait! What about your marriage vows to Poseidon? Well, what about them? Does this make my devotion to Him less real? Beth and I have been partners in all things for ages now; adding legal protection and rights to that is a logical thing to do. We have our semi-secluded lifestyle, and we are one another’s support in all things. Never mind that, in our heads, and in our day to day family life, we have long since felt like a poly group marriage rather than not.

But, I thought you were celibate? Yup! Still am! And while I may feel, in my silly brain, that this means I’m “pulling one over” on people, the fact of the matter is, one’s sexual life is really only the business of one’s self, and those involved, as applicable. We have a very rigid idea of what ‘marriage’ means in our society, and I despise how ingrained that is on me. I mean, if a married couple is sexually involved or not is none of my business, and I’m sure in ranges throughout the life of a marriage. Do I wish there were bigger, wider, more applicable/appropriate/varied ways of understanding and legally acknowledging different ways of being family, of becoming immediate family? YES. But there’s not, so we’ll work with what we’ve got.

As she mentioned in her post, we’re not having a big  to-do. We’d planned on having a friend of mine officiate, and roping in two witnesses, but that was before we saw how quick the quick ceremony could be, and also before we learned there was more paper work for the officiant to do than expected. So, minor tweaking. By this time next month we’ll be married. Hee!

I’m surprised at how much I’m looking forward to this. In my head, that our relationship isn’t normal, even for two women who are partners, stands out and catches me up. Like, until we talked about it, it wasn’t something I missed not having done? But, she is my immediate family, she is my best best friend, she’s seen me through my worst, and she makes me a better person. We are well met, she and I, and so if society says that the word for that is ‘wife’, well then, okay! I’m gonna get me a wife!

So. There’s that.

*To be clear: this is something we’ve talked about on and off for years at this point, especially since same-sex marriages became legal on a federal level. We’ve been together for over a decade, make up a household together, are, have been, and will continue to be committed partners in all things. There are too many horror stories about same sex couples being treated horribly in medical crises, especially one is extremely sick or at end of life, and, well, we both have health issues that keeps that fear in the forefront of my mind. So, do we want to get this legally wrapped up to forestall that crap, if possible? Yup! That it would make more financial sense re: health insurance was just the last reason on a long lists of reasons why this makes sense as a next step.


A Dream

She envelops me in an embrace I have no hope of escaping, pressing me close as if we’re old friends and not newly met. Her arms are strong, holding me tight, and the draping fabric of her clothing billows around me, making me one with her for a brief, brief moment. Then she steps back, holding me at arms’ length, and looks me over.

“It’s so good to see you, so good to meet you,” she says. Her words only hint at an accent, but her skin is dark, and her hair is dark, and her eyes are dark, and her clothing is bright. Bangles knock against one another on her arms as she moves. “I’m so glad we’ve been introduced, please come in, come in.”

Her home is warm and inviting, just as she is. The rooms are spacious-enough while also managing to feel den like. Yellow on the walls, dark wood trim, carpets with a vaguely eastern look to them on the floor. Pillows and couches, candles burning, the lights dimmed, but the windows thrown open. She leads me from room to room, showing me this shrine, that altar space, this other worship area, her meditation nook. She brings me out doors, into her back yard, and into the building that houses her gods for public worship. “I’m not a priest,” she tells me, “that’s someone else who does that work, but I host these few here, and we use my home to come and worship. You’ll meet them, later. They’ll be over.”

“I don’t know,” I tell her, and I’m nervous now, about meeting others, but she’s still so close, and it’s hard to feel too nervous here. She’s so warm. She’s so comforting. We talk a bit about my own shrines, altars, and worship spaces, past and present. She nods happily as I speak of my Husband, when I name Him, as I tell her a bit about my  past as a pagan. Being in her presence is like being in a sunny spot in the house on a cold, cold day. It’s catching that rectangle of sun through a window, like a cat, and curling up in it to bask. She touches me, on the shoulder now, then a brush of a hand, then a quick embrace, or a half-hug, always smiling, always patient and kind and quietly enthusiastic.

“You’ve held public rituals before; you won’t be leading, you won’t have to interact too much even, but I think you’ll find we have to offer you what you’re lacking, what you’re looking for. There is a place for you, and you are welcome. It’s not as different as you might think . . .”

Her cat comes to join us, a grey smoke Persian who reminds me so much of our Luna that I approach this cat as if she is Luna. She decides I move too slowly, perhaps too deferentially, and she scolds me with an all out attack, hugging my arm, seizing my hand, and biting down, with no teeth. She kicks her back legs at me, but there’s no scratching, and then she’s up and I get to try again, and when I move quickly, with assurance, she leans into the attention, purring up a storm.

We speak of Vishnu, and I tell her about my hesitation with Krishna, and she cannot, cannot, cannot stop speaking highly of him. “He is my husband, my heart,” she says, but the words do nothing to convey the depth of feeling that comes from her as she speaks of him. I’m surprised that she refers to herself as a bride of Krishna’s, and we speak of that for some time, about how he came to her and changed her life, about how her devotion has made her who she is, about how endlessly wonderful he is, etc. She shares with me that we’re coming upon her ‘birthday with Krishna,” which I’m to understand as an anniversary of sorts, and she presents a gift to me. A ring that symbolizes an acceptance of Krisha, or a celebration of meeting him, and nothing more — it makes sense at the time, but that begins to blur immediately. It’s a ring that is somehow pearl, two solid  pieces that are plied, as one.

I wake up with Durga’s name on my mouth, and a feeling of warmth that lasts the day. Understanding how, why, even what, matters a little bit less. I wish I could bottle that feeling.

I miss You.

I stand before the shrine, the house quiet around me. The cold clings to be from an hour spent outside in near-freezing temperatures, waiting for a cab to bring me home. The house is asleep — the cats doze on the couch, Corbie is tucked into bed with Beth. A half day on the job means I’m home halfway through the night, and my weekend, which feels like a retreat more than it ever has before, now that I’m up at night, starts early.

I consider pulling out a journal book, to write. I consider penning a letter or two. I consider opening a book to read. What I really want, though, is to turn the lights off, light the candle, and talk with You.

I miss You. Lost in my worries — financial stress that’s been mounting and mounting, though it’s also reaching a point of easement; new job stress; health worries over Beth, myself, the dog, always always the dog — and the distraction that writing often is, I miss You. I let myself get tangled up in knots, doing things properly, not doing things properly, worry, always worry, always anxiety, forever and ever getting in my own way.

I get caught up in the writing, and it starts out as something I do to remind myself to keep the boundaries thin and fluid, but then the story consumes me, and I forget to see You.

I get caught up in the healing — the toe, then the back, then the stress from the change with the job, and the fucking up the medication, and the upsurge of depression. I see You, of course, in how kindly I treat myself. I see Your touch in how I allow myself to be tired, to be run down, to rest as I need to rest without judgment or censure, and that makes me miss You all the more.

Take me deeper, I begged You, and You are. I remember that it used to be so frustrating, when You’d slip from a known path, when You’d forgo words, when You’d touch the emotion and make me figure out what was me, what was You, and then, how that distinction did not matter, does not matter, cannot matter.

I stand at the shrine that is different — a candle, images that are You and are not You. Neptune, with his trident raised, and Vishnu on his lotus, and the newest, the Krishna, with his flute, a gift I cannot not accept, all things considered. Why the struggle with Vishnu, when there’s no struggle with Neptune? I stand at the shrine, and I light the candle, and I say a prayer for she who is passing, who has passed, and I tell You how I miss You, not with words, but with heart. Standing open. Seeking. Listening.


You rush in, an incoming tide filling a canyon that was empty moments before. You, Who I recognize like I recognize myself. You, Whose touch is filled with all these things that You are, and if I hold this close to me, there is no struggle, because how can I define You in any way other than what You offer?

I miss You. I will always miss You, because it will never be enough, because the longing, the yearning, will always be there, so long as I wear this  flesh. I will always get distracted, and I will always miss You, and I will always come back to the shrine, seeking.

This is the ebb. This is the flow. I love this. I love You. I love You.

Confessions, cont.

Veiling. I began veiling back in 2008, because Poseidon asked me to. It started while I was still in Philly, and I veiled sporadically. When we moved to Oregon, I began covering full time. I’ve researched veiling as a religious practice in various traditions, I’ve played around with different types of styles and fabrics, I’ve watched pagan veiling grow as a movement, from a handful of pagans talking about it, to seeing hundreds of pagans talking about it.

I point to a number of reasons why I enjoy veiling. Eight years ago, it helped set me apart — and eight years ago or more I was big on being set apart. I envied monastics of various traditions who could don garments to make it obvious to the outside world that they were not like other people, that they were not for the typical, normal life that society ascribes to us. I wanted more than my wedding band, carved with Poseidon’s name (spelled wrong!) to set me apart. I’m no great beauty, but I’m friendly, and I’m short and I’m round and I can be cute, and now and again I do get hit on — and I wanted that to happen less. Wedding rings that don’t look like wedding rings are no discouragement, but veiling is. I look younger than my age, and people discount my life experiences — ageism is a thing, and it’s an annoying thing. It’s never okay to dismiss people because they’ve been alive a shorter amount of time than you have been, but it’s a special kind of galling when your peers do it to you, assuming you are ten or twenty years their junior. Veiling helped with that. I’m short, and people see me as approachable — and veiling helped with that, as well.

It also helped me take myself seriously, as a devotee, as a godspouse, and, sadly, as a woman and not a girl. It made me feel more like an adult than anything else has, and this has me wondering all about a lack of rites of passage in our society.

Veiling has helped me not care whether or not I  blend into the crowd. This has been incredibly rewarding.  I grew up a jeans and teeshirt sort of person, and it took veiling and a shove toward modest dress to get me to explore skirts and flowy clothing. For a while I wore these things exclusively. I’m back into jeans and tees, but it’s different now. I’m not doing it to hide, I’m doing it because it’s preferable (and I hate the way my sneakers look with skirts, and my gout insists on sneakers). I’m hard on my clothes, I hate shopping, jeans last longer, and I can wear the same pair over and over again. Mostly, I hate shopping.

It has helped me when in crowds. It’s helped me when in the sun. It’s helped me not worry about the fact that my hair is thin, has always been thin, and that female pattern hair loss is in my reality.


A lot of the things veiling has helped with, medication for the depression is also helping with. Crowds don’t bother me like they used to. Random people approaching me does not overwhelm me like it used to. On a practical level, I worry about veiling in our current political climate. People should be able to dress however the fuck they want, and taking off a veil that is tied to my religious experience because I’m intimidated has me wanting to say fuck you to anyone who thinks their opinion on how people dress, and for whatever reasons, matters one bit. I get to veil. Christians get to veil. Muslims get to veil. ANYONE GETS TO VEIL. But I can’t pretend I don’t worry.

On  a less practical level: my veiling is so tied up with Poseidon-as-Poseidon, and I wonder/worry, is my associating my veiling for Poseidon tying me too hard to Poseidon-as-I-perceived-Him, and keeping me from going deeper with Him?

On a know-thyself level, I’m a creature of habit trying to become a creature who flows with change. Defaulting to veiling because I’ve done it for eight years, because everyone in my immediate surroundings expect me to do so, makes me want to stop. Or at least, not veil all the time.

On a fuck-vanity, keep it real level, I’m all about owning the fact that hey, I’m losing my hair, and maybe I want to try out some wigs, too. Fuck-vanity maybe should be telling me that I shouldn’t care that my hair is super thin, that you can see my scalp through it, but I’m telling vanity that I am the boss of me and if I want t wear fucking wigs, I can.

No decision happening immediately. Just, playing around with the thought. Mostly, I’m posting to tell my vanity to fuck off. I will not be embarrassed or ashamed that I have female pattern hair loss. I will not pretend it doesn’t exist, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to not talk about it like it’s taboo. My brothers went bald in their late teens/early twenties. I made it to nearly 40, and I can still at least attempt comb-overs. Women have facial hair. Women go bald. It’s not new, and it’s not taboo.


Confessions, or saying out loud the things I want to keep most quiet.

and because I’m mad into lists right now . . .

Depression. Once upon a time, back in May? June? when I had my last check in with my doctor, she expressed a desire to see about having me come down on my medication, or completely off, beginning in March. I’m on 20mg of fluoxetine. I started at 10mg, and that helped me not want to sleep all the time. 20mg turned me into an actual, honest-to-gods person who could do things like handle stress without shutting off. I have marveled, since then, that I do not recognize myself. Why do I say that?

In the time since I started taking anti-depressants, I have (in no particular order): applied for, interviewed for, and landed a new job with excellent benefits and a wage that would be considered a living wage, if not for all my expensive critters; I have formatted and released a number of e-books; set up an Etsy shop; written and released two e-booklets; launched two projects (which, granted, have foundered a bit); addressed the whole Poseidon-and-Vishnu thing with my head out of the sand and embraced a certain willingness to be uncomfortable; written the bulk of When Worlds Collide II and III; formatted a book for a friend; traveled to Massachusetts to visit family and friends; did not require months of recovery time; hosted not one but two sets of houseguests; dealt with Corbie’s myriad ups and downs; made a slew of new friends; did some beta reading.

Yeah. FUCK yeah. Oh, and also: faced (am still facing) mounting medical financial debt, despite the help of generous people, because it took way too long for me to get tho the point where I was able to look for a better paying job. (Good benefits? Shift differential on Sunday? What?What??) and crap kept happening. All of these thing combined, and I’m still not a walking zombie.

I fucked up my medication a bit,  adapting to my new schedule, and I’m finally getting back to okay with that, and that’s awesome. I’m also recognizing that, to a small extent, I let myself become burned out on all the doing. For a few months all I was doing was going to work, working long hours, coming home, and being social and available to people who needed me or wanted to chat. I value the new friends I’ve made, and I value that I know some things and can help people with some things — I can’t help by being physically near, and I can’t help by throwing money at a problem, and so the small skillsets I have, I want to offer — and more to the point, I can offer, for the first time in my life.

So I offered a lot. Or a bunch of little things to a lot of people, and it’s built up. Add in worry over loved ones in these tumultuous times, and the time of year, and yeah . .  . I’m having dreams almost every night of my grandparents, and it’s sweet and good to get to visit with them, but it’s also emotionally exhausting, to wake up and have that reminder that, oh yeah. Yeah. Fuck.

Hunt Season always sends me wanting to retreat, and after the election I thought a lot about stopping blogging, and really curtailing my presence back. I thought about the exploration that He is asking me to do, as w/We go deeper, and about how I generally write about  this, these most vulnerable making parts, and about how I’ve been doing it for ages now, and that maybe that time is over. Maybe I want to be more private? Maybe I want to slip into the background and go unnoticed?

And then I receive confirmation that what I do sometimes makes a difference to people, and that’s got to be good enough, right? I admit that not a small part of me decided that maybe shutting up about being any sort of visible minority might be a good idea, in the current climate . . . but then I need to own that shit, too, right? Because, for all the minority badges I claim, the only one that outranks mine is white and male. Do I only get to be visibly pagan, or visibly bisexual, or visible X when it’s safe? Most people don’t have ‘safe’ as an option. It’s not like I’m ever going to be on the front lines of anything. I’m home, writing things, on the Internet, ffs.

Right now, the scaling back is working. Making sure I get enough disconnected-from-social-media is working. I’m not so good with compensating with staying in touch via other means (phone, texting) but I’m working on it.

I’m pretty sure that I’m going to fight to stay on my current medicine levels. Lethargy hit pretty hard last week, and I felt my interests start to wan. I read. I didn’t write. I didn’t want to write, and I wondered if I’d set that down, too. Not just the blog. All of it. And yes, I saw that for the red flag that it was. Is. Whatever.

There are more things, but these are heavy on my heart, so one for now is good.

Depression, new job, bullet points!

  • Got a new job! I started on the 9th (what a surreal thing that was, sitting through orientation on the day after the election. “What are we doing, how are we not all running around screaming like the sky is on fire??”) I’m three weeks in, and so far loving it. My immediate team is filled with seemingly introverted people, but then it takes a certain sort of person to willingly do night shift, yeah? I’m not used to that amount of quiet, and I’m sort of loving it. I’ve gone from talking with hundreds of people in one day to talking to maybe twenty, often less. I get to do my job, listen to music while I’m doing it (and ebooks/podcasts if I ever get around to getting them onto my phone) and the job consists of two, maybe three tasks. It’s monotonous, sure — but I’m sort of digging that right now.
  • Depression! Some is situational — not paying attention to being sure I’m not over-extending/overwhelming myself with the trainwreck that is our country at the moment — but some is also just not situational.  I’ll be without health insurance for a few months, and so I began half-dosing myself, in an attempt to have the anti-depressant carry me through. This isn’t ideal, but I thought, if the momentum of the various projects could carry me through, it wouldn’t suck.  But then, because I was changing my schedule, I missed a day. And then a second. I’d remember, and then miss two more. The result? Lethargy.

    I cut myself some slack for this lethargy becaues 1) new job/new schedule, 2) menstruation. I realize that being aware of the lethargy and worrying about that being a sign that the depression is worse is itself a sign that maybe it’s not as bad as I think. I’ve been letting myself sleep when I want to sleep (read: most of my days off) and just scaling back on everything else.

    What I’ve learned, though, is: I need to be on this medication, and I really only flourish on the higher dose. My doctor has made noise about trying to taper me off, come March, and I’m thinking I’m going to fight her on this. I was hoping, seekritly, that the depression was situational — a few people have suggested that it might have been, job related, and I had that job for a long time, so how would one really know? — but in the end, I don’t think so.

  • Depression, btw, is an asshole.
  • NaNoWriMo! No, I didn’t ‘finish’, but I did hit my 30k goal for WWC3 rough draft. I’ll be getting the 1st installment ready to go in a few weeks, and then taking December to edit the rest.
  • Corbie! Corbie had a vet visit in November, and we upped his medication on the Lasix front.There is slight increase in his murmur, though still negligible fluid build up in lungs. He’s having more coughing days (possibly due to being dried out on the lasix) but he’s back to having no idea he’s sick, and so this is good.

There’s more, but that’s it for now. I have things I want to talk about on the spiritual front, but they’re not quite there yet.

Rings of Fear, Rings of Grief

So, a ways back, I wrote a bit about the rings of grief — more properly, Susan Silk’s Ring Theory. Go ahead and click that link if you want to read that post, but really, the picture says it all.


This has been a guide that has stood me in good stead as I’ve sought to retreat less and less into my ignorance bubble, and I want to repost it here primarily for my readers who are White, who are able-bodied, who, at a glance, can or do ‘pass’ as the privileged group/s, with a plea: model your actions and your words, seek your support networks, with this image in mind.

I’m terrified. I’m terrified for too many loved ones to count, POC, people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, anyone and everyone who is not cis, straight, white, and male has something to fear, and this is very valid. I’m terrified for the girl-child (who, despite being closer to 30 than to 20, is still referred to as the girl-child) in a city that is experiencing on outbreak of racist vandalism, who is clear across the country, and refusing to cower at home despite being a woman of color.I’m terrified for myself, and for Beth, though we’re in a super liberal area, and we face more with her losing her healthcare than we face by being two women living together. I’m scared that something will happen, and we won’t be able to help the daughter. I’m just scared.

I won’t pretend otherwise.

But I’m also not going to look toward people who are in more danger than I am, to express my fear to them, to ask them to make me feel better or even for them to commiserate with me. That the bits and pieces of my ‘otherness’ can be optional for me (it makes my stomach churn, and it disgusts me, but I’d be lying if my first thoughts after the results were announced did not go to ‘how can I blend in better if I need to?’) means that I inherently have more privilege, and thus less danger, and the burden of my fear is my own to bear, not theirs.

Look to your peers. Look to those who suffer or could suffer in the same way, to a similar degree. Shore one another up, and offer your support inward. Do not demand that those who have less to give, give more.

I’m terrified — but  I’m not going to get jumped in the street because of my skin. My scarf is probably not going to get pulled from my head, because of my skin. I’m female, and nothing I do can really hide that, but I’m also white.

Those closer to the center of that circle? They need our support, and further more, they get to dictate how those needs are to be met.