People That Make My World Better

It’s almost as if admitting to fighting apathy right now made it stronger. Maybe it just meant I didn’t have to pretend as much right now. For all that I want to Keep It Real, I also try to make my writing positive, or uplifting, or cheerleady. I’m trying really, really hard to be the change I want to see in the world, and so while I like to Keep It Real, I also really want to build up rather than tear down. I want to cheer people on rather than dig into them. I don’t ever want to be another voice telling you why you’re doing it wrong or why your path is invalid.

I wanted to make this post especially way more happy and upbeat than it’s going to be. I wanted to celebrate the people whose existence makes my existence easier to commit to, whose presence — even if it’s only from a distance — remind me that I want to be in this world, and that I want to keep feeling the feelings. I am not okay at the present moment. It’ll pass; I work hard to not get invested in my emotions when sink below my baseline blue. Today is a day of “There’s no point to doing anything at all,” and “Every time I open my mouth I’m misunderstood, so why do I even bother?” and “I desperately do not want to be alone, but even when I’m in a room with others I feel isolated, rejected, unwanted, and unworthy.” Being convinced that I have no worth makes that gap between myself and others ever larger than it would otherwise be. I can’t even write today — I’m trying to finish up the book for real for reals and I spent two hours writing one paragraph and I’m not sure why I keep coming back to writing. Except, of course, I know exactly why, and this is what I mean by not being too invested in the feelings. I know much of them are bullshit. But they’re so easy to get stuck in. I know, objectively, that I’m exhausted and stressed out. I don’t know if I’m tired because I’m stressed out, or if I’m tired because I’m fighting off a cold, or if I’m tired because whatever else. I do know that when I’m exhausted my ability to cope goes entirely away. After trying to write for a few hours, I had to go to bed. Not to nap or rest or anything productive like that, but to be in bed with the dog pressed against me (Hero Dog super-powers activate!) and focus on not letting myself become invested in this numbness. When I felt like I could maybe face some more time out of bed, I got up and put some tea water on. When I forgot about my steeping tea for too long, making a new mug of it was not possible. I can’t even make tea correctly. There’s no point to trying to do anything at all, and so I went back to bed, instead.

This time without a hero dog.

So, I’m not in a good place right now. It’ll pass. Tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, all of the things that are the reasons why I deserve to be alone and misunderstood and unwanted and unworthy will return to just being quirks of life, too many loved ones spread across time zones and filled with busy lives. Tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that I’ll remember and be able to believe that people are generally good, often self-involved (as they should be!) and just because some one does not understand where I might be coming from does not mean they’re saying I’m wrong or unworthy or unwanted. Tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, I’ll be back to being okay. In the mean time, I am not deleting all my social media (because no one would notice anyway) and I’m not going to take down my blog (because what good is it really doing?) and I’m not deleting all my books and stories (because I’m a useless hack who is only playing at being a writer). I am not, as much as I want to — and today I really, really want to. Today, I want the world to forget I exist, so maybe I can pretend that I don’t.

Keeping it real. Why the hell would I want to keep it real when real looks like this?

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Even today, as I’m caught in hopelessness and bleakness, there are people whose presence in the world makes the world a more live-able place. I can’t say I’m happy to be in the world right now, but these people (in no particular order, and this is by no means a complete list) remind me that it’s not all horrible, and maybe, sometimes, it’s even good.

Beth. Maybe this is obvious? Maybe not? Beth is amazing. Not only does she put up with my dark periods (and has managed to learn how to navigate them even!) but . .. well, actually, that’s reason enough. I don’t know that there would be anyone else who would allow me to live so fully as myself, without judgment, with love and support. I worry sometimes that I’ve had a negative impact in how she tolerates others, but really I think our highly selective when socializing with other humans trait compliments each others’, and we’re well matched. Unlike me, she has this insane drive to keep pushing herself when things get tough (I’m more of a take my toys and go home person) and that’s a constant inspiration.

My friend Diane. Sure, she’s on my mind because she was just out visiting. Not only was she one of  the first pagan type people I’d ever interacted with, but she’s also been a great mentor and friend. I forget, when we’re not talking all that much, how much like me she is and yet how not like me she is. In my mind, all my close friends become introverts by nature, and I don’t know if I can say that about her. I mean, maybe? But she’s also really not. One of  her projects is the creation of a class whose name I can’t ever remember but which addresses LGBTQ issues in regards to healthcare and ageing. It’s something she saw a need for and then she created the class. And that pretty much sums up her personality type. “See a need for something, recognize I have enough of a skillset to make it happen, make it happen.” How can a person like that not make the world better, simply by being?

Anni aka Ahneke Greystone over at The Greystone Path.I discovered Anni’s Youtube the same time I discovered the Pagan Perspective (actually, because of having discovered the Pagan Perspective) during the Great Back Injury of 2013. She quickly became a friend and a mentor, and I gained so much through participating in her Journey of the Seeker course. Her love of learning and of exploration nourished me at a point when I was pretty much burned out on pagan interaction. One of the best things about that course for me was her emphasis on honoring our past experiences — acknowledging and accepting what you bring with you. the experiences that have shaped us up to this point in our lives. When we decide to place others into a “newbie” category, especially in spiritual discussions, we’re ignoring and discounting all the experiences they’ve had heretofore. She has helped me shift my ideas about the beginning of any exploration back to a place of wonder and awe.

Silence Maestas, author of Walking the Heart Road — which is my favorite primer on devotional polytheism out there. Also, dear, dear friend. Even when we’re not talking, the fact that Silence exists makes my world better. When we are talking, it’s generally about gods, writing, or cats, and all those things make my world better, too. (Or knitting, or food, or caffeine . . . ) Silence and Diane actually remind me a lot of one another, it terms of “see a need, have skillset, fill the need.” So that’s sorta neat.

My brother. Even though we’ve been playing phone tag (er — sort of? Playing phone tag would mean both people calling, so I guess I’ve just been playing super creeper stalker via phone) for what seems like forever (but is only since the beginning of August), my brother makes the world I live in so much better. Of all my blood family, I think he’s the only one who truly, truly “gets” me. We can go (and have gone) months and months without talking, and I never have to worry that he thinks I’m mad or resentful or some other stupid social game bullshit. I know that he’ll contact me over important things, and he knows I’ll do the same, and it’s all good. I love the way he brains, and I love the way he words, and I feel like we speak the same language (you know, that sarcastic, literal language) I miss him like whoa, but he’s the bestest brother ever — though, admittedly I’m biased.

And because I can’t think about my brother currently without thinking about the Vlogbrothers John and Hank Green — whose presence I even know about at all in part because of my brother and in part because of Silence — and because so many of their videos have been helping to fight off the apathy lately, I have to add the two of them (and maybe the general concept of Nerdfighteria?) to my list of people who make the world a bit better.

Beth and I have been marathon-ing on their vlogbrother videos (we’re almost done 2008). It’s been pretty awesome to watch. Yeah, I feel a wee bit peeping tom-ish over it all, but I don’t care. The growth of such catch-phrases as DFTBA and, my favorite, decreasing world suck and increasing the awesome have been really cool to watch, and the existence of such phrases have added more tools to my dealing with apathy and anxiety toolkit. Being able to see this animal that would become all of the things they’re doing and have touched and have inspired others to start is pretty amazing. Learning about them now and seeing how much they’ve done can be overwhelming; getting to see the humble beginnings is pretty fucking great, and I love the Internet.

(even if when I’m reading stuff now I’m totally hearing John Green reading stuff in my head. A small price to pay for more tools in the toolkit)

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So, I’m not okay. I will be, again, and when I am, the fact that these people exist makes the world fucking fabulous. Right now, they make the world something I’m willing to suffer through. Sometimes, that’s the best we can hope for. Right now, that’s enough.

Edited to add:  I’m not posting this as a cry for help. I’m not asking my readers or friends to  cheer me up or try to make me feel better. I appreciate that this is a normal reaction — I know how helpless I feel when I can’t help my loved ones feel better. I am not suicidal.  This numbed, overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless feeling will pass, and knowing that it will  is part of why I can stay emotionally uninvested in these feelings. I’ve learned detached compassion — this is my biggest tool in my toolkit. I will be okay again, and knowing  my cycles, likely soon. So please don’t worry about me and this. It’s simply how I am.

Litany of Obligation

Something you may not know about me: I can be a bit of a doormat. One downside to being able to put myself in other people’s shoes is, if I can understand where they are coming from, I wind up forgiving all sorts of things. No respect for what’s important me, or what my boundaries are? That’s okay! Refuse to acknowledge that our relationship is one where I give and give and give, and you can’t even bother to ask after something important going on in my life? No big deal! Have a habit of only contacting me or showing interest in me when you need something? You can’t help it. Only interested a friendship as you define it, and have no problem giving me the silent treatment as it suits you? Awesome!

Except, you know, not. But I still have a hard time drawing those boundaries. I have a hard time sticking up for myself when it is something that only effects me — and people walking all over me only effects me, and since I can understand it, it’s no big deal, right?

Odin says, wrong. A number of months ago my lack of boundaries reached a critical stage, where I ended up completely stressed out and unable to cope with said stress. Poseidon placed a strong emphasis on self-compassion. Pops? Pops put His foot down.

There are people in our lives who we owe our time, energy, and attention. Who that is for each of us will vary for all of us. For myself? I’m a home-body. I’m focused on family. I like a number of my coworkers, but I don’t actually want to go and hang out with any of them. We are friendly, a bump up from acquaintances. It doesn’t mean our interactions are fake . . . but they are superficial to a degree, and that’s normal.

I have a limited amount of “can deal with people” energy, and if those closest to me get shorted because I can’t maintain enough distance with acquaintances, that’s something I need to deal with. And Odin helped.

My litany of obligation (which yes, He makes me chant it when I need to remember) looks something like:

Poseidon–> Odin–> Beth–> Corbie–> Zerk–> Luna–> Neech–> our various spirits –> K –> R –> M –> S –> assorted other incarnate family members –> friends –> acquaintances and strangers.

To explain that a bit:

Poseidon–> Odin–> Beth–> Corbie–> Zerk–> Luna–> Neech

This is my immediate family. These are those p/People who are the center of my day and my immediate attention. Poseidon is my hearth, Odin follows closely behind. Neither of Them *need* me in the way that Beth may need me in order to get through the day, so it’s not all about those who are dependent upon you. It is about those who get the bulk of your time, attention, and energy. The order isn’t fixed. As it’s presented, I have the chronically ill listed before those in decent health, but it can be re-arranged as things crop up. During Corbie’s illness, for example, the entire list disappeared and it was all him. (It ought not have: Zerk and Lu both have chronic issues, just not ‘on death’s door’ chronic issues).

our various spirits –>

Top of the list here is Grim, who straddles the space between this list and the former list. Also here is Angel, Sassy, and Orion. Some who peek in from time to time, some who are here more frequently. Sometimes my father; more often grandparents, especially Beth’s grandmother. What amount of energy they get from me depends on how those in the first grouping are doing, and what the spirits are actually requesting. My father often presses for me to be involved with the sibling I’m not interested in being in contact with, and that’s strained our relationship a tad. Beth’s grandmother often presses for involvement on Beth’s part with her ancestral Powers, and Beth’s not interested in much of that, and that stresses things a tad, too.

K –> R –> M –> S –> assorted other incarnate family members –>

My brother, Beth’s daughter, me mum, and then other living family (whereby I mean people who I count as family, regardless of actual blood relationship).

This is where the “I will sacrifice any of my wants, needs, or time to help you even if it’s something I really don’t want to do, because I love you, and because you’re well-being or happiness matters more to me than my own.” ends.

friends –> acquaintances and strangers.

‘friends’ is a weird category for me. I suspect that what I think of as friends most would think of as acquaintances. If I was the type to want to hang out, maybe it would be easier to know the one from the other. In any event, this is the group of people where, if it’s not something I want to do, or if it’s something that is going to cost too much for me to give, or if it’s something that may make it harder for me to be there for my inner circle, it’s not something I’m going to do or give.

This is the category that I struggle with. This is the one where Odin asks, “What do you owe those people?” and the answer is, I don’t owe them anything beyond compassion and general kindness. Everything else is extra, and is to be given only if I have it to give, and only if it does not take away from what I might need to give to Corbie or Beth or Luna, should something with them come up.

It reads a bit calculating, and maybe a bit cold, maybe a bit sociopathic. But it’s part of my self-care. And, you know, maybe something like this might be useful to others, and so, I’ve written about it.

Me and Odin (the Pagan Experience week 7)

Wk 3- Feb. 16- Deity and the Divine– This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you.

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I talk about Poseidon a lot. This blog was created originally in part to provide a real-time glimpse into what life might look like, devoted to and lived alongside Poseidon. I wanted to write a devotional book, but I either wanted to write fiction for Him or I’d become to bogged down with trying to write all the things about Him, ever. Which is so interesting to me to read, and so boring for me to write. Early on it became clear that I could not write about living my life with Poseidon without writing about living my life, and so, I do that a fair amount, too. Long time readers will know that I try to keep it real, and they’ll probably know that at times, I fail at that.

I talk about Odin, too, but not as much. Part of this, in my heart, in my interior landscape, I am so thoroughly Poseidon’s. It’s funny in that quirky way, because I’ve harped on and on about how, in my interior landscape, the cosmology that Odin brings with Him is the one that feels most “natural” to me. I know where I stand with Pops, and I’m comfortable with Him (or, as comfortable with Him as one can be, and how comfortable that is depends largely on what particular mask He’s wearing at the time.) I know the services I perform for Him, and I know the pretty much what He’ll ask of me. I know that, should there be a need, He will once again tear my life asunder and rebuild me, and since I like the life I have, I strive to make sure there is not a need.

But, in part it’s also because, at a glance, I don’t feel as though I’m somehow who people would think, “Yeah, I can see her as one of Odin’s adopted daughters.” Which is stupid, because why should they care, and why would I care whether they care or not?

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BrunhildeWotanOdin came into my life shortly before my mortal  father died. I was already pagan. Poseidon was already in the picture. I was still exploring the different sorts of paganisms out there. Odin didn’t come blustering in — in fact, it was Thor and Hela who were introduced first. One of the last conversations I had with my father (we did not have a good relationship, and certainly not the sort where we discussed religion or spirituality) was a confusing, muddled, not the least bit lucid conversation wherein he was telling me of adventures he’d had with Loki and Odin and Thor. There was something about a huge rainbow across the sky. Thor is the name that stuck with me. (Thor quickly became Uncle Thor, and there’s this connection with my father that He has that I can’t be expected to explain in any concrete way, but that has tucked my family neatly beneath His hands, which is not a bad place to be.)

Odin stuck to the background for some time, until one day I decided that I would do some ritual involving Him, and for warding the space I used the tools that I had — I used Reiki symbols. He piped up to inform me that I’d be learning the runes, thank you very much, starting right then, that the sigils I’d used were perfectly fine (in fact, they initiated me into the mysteries of power symbols) but these would be better suited.

I’m not sure when I decided that I wanted to adopt Him/be adopted by Him, honestly. It was quick. The moving from Massachusetts, meeting Beth, swearing lifelong vows to Odin, marrying Poseidon, moving in with Beth took a few years, but in my head, in my memory, it’s very rapid. I knew, for example, during our first email exchange, that Beth and I would end up living together. I still can’t tell you what Odin sees in me —

— er, except I can. I can tell you that He shook the cobwebs from my life. He stoked the fire within me, to heed this calling, to opt for the odd life that sang to my heart, whose fire burned through my blood. I can tell you that, when it came to that moment, when I could have changed my mind and stayed as I was, trying to have it all, it was Odin, not Poseidon, who said, “No. You’ll honor what your soul is calling you toward or I will destroy everything you hold dear. Set your lines and stand by them, no matter the cost, no matter the pain, or I will turn it all to ash and that future that you do not really want will be outside of the realm of possibility anyway.”

I love Odin. I trust Odin, which is something I’ve heard other people involved with Odin try to dissuade. I don’t understand it. I know, maybe not exactly Who He is, because He is huge. So far, though, there is nothing He’s demanded of me or from me that He wouldn’t demand from Him self. I am mindful, always, of sacrificing self for Self. It’s good enough for Him, why not me?

I often feel that I’m not Odinic enough. Maybe that’s part of living with Beth. She oozes Odin. She’s a woman obsessed, and I see Him in her constant going and doing and challenging herself and expanding and pushing and doing more moremoremoreMORE!!  

Being Odin’s is as central to my life as being Poseidon’s is. I don’t talk about Him nearly as much, I don’t talk about being one of His daughters. Being adopted by Him healed a lot of crap within me, and we did a lot of shadow-work together to get me to where I am now. I love Him. I feel very much “on duty” as His during Yule, during the Hunt season, and more “off-duty, chillin’ around the house” as His during  the rest of the year. Which isn’t bad, really, I suppose.

Odin reminds me that the gods are huge. That They are big, that They have Their own agendas. Odin put my concept of family to rights — He’s the one that makes me chant the order of importance as the where I put my energy, when I forget. He reminds me where my loyalty and allegiance goes. He is more likely to show me tough love than Poseidon is. Odin reminds me to be terrified when it’s proper. Odin reminds me that I have a Father who loves me unconditionally, and that He can kick my arse without any of that love dropping away. He is the one who allowed me to feel like a cherished daughter, and that’s something I never expected and am so very honored to have experienced. He is many things — my God, my King, truly, but He is also my Dad, and I love Him.

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paganexperience

 

My family, my Home.

This week, we had our vet out. Originally this was going to be just a long overdue check up for Zerk (who is on daily medication and special-expensive-food to help with allergy issues) (my Zerkybear does not just get itchy. He loses fur, erupts with sores, and can’t keep his food down.) He hadn’t been seen in two years because all of 2014 went to Corbie’s medical needs. Because we were using an not really extra but timing with the rent pay wise “extra” paycheck to get caught up on our utility bill since our last rounds with the vet, of course this meant that more than just Zerk suddenly needed to see Dr. Bonnie.

Her Ladyship (albeit in her Pwca stage) playing peekaboo one morning. She was so close to my face I had to back up to take the photo.

Her Ladyship (albeit in her Pwca stage) playing peekaboo one morning. She was so close to my face I had to back up to take the photo.

We’ve got the cold running through our house. Zerk and Grim have had moments of sniffles and sneezies, and Neech decided to skip breakfast one day, but Her Ladyship has been struggling to shake this thing for a week and a half. Along with some other issues that we will not discuss in public dealing with a Lady’s toilette, we decided that enough was enough. Luna does get colds; of our lot she’s got the weakest immune system. She also tends to go down hard and fast when she goes down. She has ALL the attitude in our house, so when she gets quiet we know something is Really Wrong. She hadn’t gotten quiet, so we were not yet on High Alert. We just wanted her to be seen, and to see what we could do to speed her healing along. (There is nothing so sad as a smooshed-faced critter having a sneezing fit. I love her little face but the breeding that creates such skull shape is deplorable.)

Lazy day, chilling in our favorite spot -- BED!

Lazy day, chilling in our favorite spot — BED!

And then Corbie started coughing more. (Corbie has Congestive Heart Failure, and has been on medication since last February). Coughing is a thing to watch, because it means the heart is either having a harder time with things, or fluid (aka blood) is getting into the lungs. It is a very distinct cough, the stuff of nightmares for me. He’ll have a fit if he’s been too active or if he’s been straining at his harness, but this week he’s been having them while in bed or at rest. Not huge fits, a cough or two, but more than I like, so I wanted his heart and lungs to have a good ole listening to.

Three animals, medication refills or adjustments for two, a shot for Lu, some nail trimming, and some L-Lysine powder to help clear out the wretched cold for the cats. Thanks to a gift certificate (!!) our total was just  shy of $300.

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I love our vet. This is good, because we see a lot of her. When Beth and I talk about leaving Eugene, we admit freely that, if we had the money tomorrow to up and move, we wouldn’t. Not yet, not now. Wherever we end up relocating, we’re not going anywhere for the duration of Corbie’s life. This is partially because we don’t want to put him through that sort of stress, but it’s also because we are not leaving our vet.  (The other “money is no factor” reason we’d choose to stay access to two amazing libraries.)

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At the new year, out of curiosity’s sake, I tallied up our animal expenses. I only made it through August before getting bored with bookkeeping, and I did not record every purchase, so there’s a lot of food and litter purchases that I paid cash for and did not keep receipts for. Despite that? By August of last year we’d already spent $4k on our animals. This is without them being seen as regularly as they could be, because we’re that family with a special needs kid (Corbie) and the others get neglected because of it. *sigh* Working on that.

I haven’t been back east since we buried my Grandmother. Beth’s daughter hasn’t been out to see us since before then. We want both trips to happen in 2015, but I also am not sure how that’s even going to happen. I’ve got a dental bill to pay off, and that’s the tax refund that usually goes to plane fair. And depending on how Corb’s health goes . . . well.

I feel guilty, a lot. When we relocated out here the plan was to have visits at least once a year. That’s not been happening. The idea of skimping on the needs of my family so that I can get somewhere or so that we can have people here does not sit well with me. I miss my mother, my aunt, my brother . . . and between medical issues and more medical issues, there is no extra money to go anywhere. I’m grateful, because we always manage to have just enough, just enough . . . but it’s stressful, and it’s guilt-laden, and it’s hard. It’s hard.

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An exceptionally handsome male! Zerk is as stupid for me as I am for him. He hugs back and lives for head nuzzles.

An exceptionally handsome male! Zerk is as stupid for me as I am for him. He hugs back and lives for head nuzzles.

After the vet visit, I nested with everyone. Luna, who was still grumpy from being handled and was sleeping off her shot. Zerk, who had been fawned over (and the look of dread on Dr. Bonnie’s face when she said, “So, he has a heart murmur,” — we knew, or, we’d been told before that he might have one. She hadn’t mentioned it before, so I wonder if it comes about when he’s stressed, because a vet back in PA mentioned it, ages ago), Corbie who had many treats, love, adoration, and more treats, and Neech and Grim, who hardly ever get to see the vet (in fact, Neech never has!) because they aren’t as needy and our resources are finite. My family, in various stages of aging, in various stages of health, in a moment that will stretch on forever, and is at the same time fleeting.  I cannot imagine being anywhere else, and I have such deep gratitude for having just enough that the visit pinched, but did little more than pinch.

If Zerk could be said to be 'mine' (or rather, I'm his), Grim is all about Beth. Here he is looking quite fetching against Beth's red bedspread. Grim loves  sleeping, and her bed is his favorite spot.

If Zerk could be said to be ‘mine’ (or rather, I’m his), Grim is all about Beth. Here he is looking quite fetching against Beth’s red bedspread. Grim loves sleeping, and her bed is his favorite spot.

My family is my home. My immediate family does not look like other peoples’ immediate families. I don’t care, and I’m done wishing other people would understand. My heart breaks every day, that I haven’t seen my brother in two years, or my mother, my aunt. I miss them, and I’d love to sit down and visit with them in person. But it’ the smell of Zerk’s fur as he rubs his face against mine, his arms hugging either side of my neck. It’s the press of Corbie against my back at night, and his snoring that has me wearing earplugs. It’s Lu’s gravelly, loud, opinionated conversational meows and the game we play of meeting eye contact and talking. It’s the thunder of Neech as he hauls ass from one end of the house to the other, diving into his fort, and yowling at the top of his lungs. It’s Grim with his earnest expressions and his cries for food because he’s staaaaaaaaaaaaaarving when I just fed him two hours ago. It’s even Beth with her chattering at me first thing in the morning — but don’t tell her that, or she’ll never take my gimlet glare seriously again!

Neech, snuggling. We cannot be in bed together without touching. He cannot sleep comfortably without touching someone, anyone -- but especially the dog. He loves Corbie.

Neech, snuggling. We cannot be in bed together without touching. He cannot sleep comfortably without touching someone, anyone — but especially the dog. He loves Corbie.

It’s my gods, too — Poseidon being present in my mind and my heart every moment, even when I’m cleaning the cat box or wiping up puddles of pee (diuretic, you know) or grocery shopping or showering. Pops too, whose presence helps tremendously as we face the trials ahead. Shrines are not necessary, but having them, glancing over and seeing them, having a physical representation of the center of our lives . . . it’s a huge help, a great tool. Our gods are oh so patient and supportive when it comes to our focusing so much time, energy, and money on our critters. Way, waaaay back when, when I first married Poseidon and I’d set aside a day to spend time with just Him, it often included snuggling on the couch with a book and Angel. So time spent with just Him has always included just Him and this animal or that animal. And, truly, I know that my not quite normal hierarchy of family is part of what allows He and I to have such common ground.

My immediate family does not look like yours. I have a Husband, but not i the way most recognize. I have a partner, but it’s again not what most would think. I have no children (even if Neech thinks I’m his mom, thanks to hand rearing beginning at four weeks of age), but I have a host of dependents who I have, and will, sacrifice time and comfort for. These people — Beth, Odin, Poseidon, yes, but Corbie and Neech, Luna and Zerk and Grim — this is home. They make up the sanctuary that is home more than four walls ever could, and I love them all so very much.

My god is an awesome god (The Pagan Experience, week 3)

Somewhat recently I was listening to an interview with a Catholic nun during which she spoke of Psalms. More to the point, she spoke of the belief that, when a Christian calls out to their god, when they reach out in need, in pain, in suffering, their god hears them and reaches back. The sister was recounting a particularly dark period in her life, sharing with the listeners a moment of perceiving the state of her soul, becoming aware of her suffering, and being lifted up and out of herself, and being made aware of a sentient being who saw her, heard her, and was with her. The story was a touching story, and it was one I could relate to.

I was younger when I met Poseidon than she was when she met her god, by about a decade, but there were similarities. The most important similarity, to my mind, was being at the bottom. I find it difficult now, nearly two decades later, surrounded by my family whom I love dearly, living a life that I find fulfilling, to recall just how it felt to be at the bottom. Backed into a corner, with nowhere else to go, with no hope in sight, and just being . . . done. So very done. I know that I was there. I know I felt shattered. I know that, with the way that I am, with how stubborn and how grounded and how hard it is for me to release control, that what happened could not have happened if I hadn’t been at the very end of my rope. I was suffering. I was in pain. I needed saving. She spoke of her heart crying out for help, even though she was not aware that it was doing so, and I thought, Yes, yes! Yes, me too! She spoke of the generosity of her god, the goodness, the compassion, the great love, and I thought, yes, yes! I know this!

neptune and amph

And I do. It’s just that, when I speak of the god who saved my spirit, the god who saw me shattered before Him, who scooped me up, brought me close, and has never once let me go since, I’m speaking of Poseidon.

I know how it sounds, or how it could sound. I know the words I use: humility, compassion, love, grace, empathy. I know that with my veiling, and with my mode of dress, my inclination to be at home with my family and my preference to not mingle socially or casually with people, how it could look. With compassion being my biggest signpost along the way, I’ve had people point blank ask me why I’m not Christian.

My path is created (or co-created?) with my gods. I look toward the Hellenic stuff because of Poseidon (and never mind all this “Hey, about Vishnu . . . ” because oh gods all the things to read, why, I thought You loved me, waaaah). I look toward the Heathen stuff because of Pops. (Er. Odin, to those of you new to the blog). But, I’m Poseidon’s, heart and soul, because when I was in that space, when I was a wretched soul in need of saving, when my heart was in its death throes and in need of shelter, it was His hand that reached out and covered me. It was His touch that brought me into His heart. When I was in need and not really looking for anything other than an end, He brought me home.

I am His. I love my Father. I love my Family, and I’m grateful every day for all of t/Them* . . . but I am Poseidon’s. I don’t care that my path looks to some like maybe this crazy lady shouldn’t really be calling herself this thing or that other thing. I don’t care that people consider compassion and healing to be way outside Poseidon’s realm. His realm is whatever He decides it will be . . . and I will be there, because there is no where I’m going without Him.

*In our household, family is a pretty open-ended term. Or, rather, it’s rather narrow in its definition but wide in its inclusion. We are not a speciesest house, nor do we require our family members to be incarnate. Our immediate family is made up of two humans, an assortment of feline and canine spirits in various stages of incarnation, Poseidon and Odin. Their family is also our family, and our extended family thus becomes even more . . . varied.

 

 

Two years.

Today is my grandfather’s birthday (he would have been 98). Two years ago this past July we buried him. Today is also the two year mark of  my grandmother’s funeral. That means that yes, 2012 was a lovely, wonderful year for my family, and why bury one grandparent when you can bury two in one year? I find this especially bittersweet, both that we buried her on his birthday, when she so very much did not want to live once he’d died, and also that now, NOW, there’s no way in hell I’m going to ever forget his birthday again. For the entirety of my adult life with him in it I could never seem to remember: the 8th or the 10th of December? (Funny, Gippy — I see what you did there.)

I frequently see something of value in poking at the grief, grieving, and interacting with the dead process that I have, because I ?enjoy? rooting out the influences of society in what this looks like for me. I do not share this idea that once the dead have died that they are gone, that they necessarily move on and away and that’s it. My interactions with the dead, in the few times that validation has come my way regarding the messages I’ve passed on, has been such that between that and my own instinct, I’m rather firm on the idea that the veil between the living and the dead is not an iron curtain. The part of my path than entails service to the dead does not encompass — generally — passing on messages, and it has never happened outside of my extended tribe, and it’s generally Made Known that that’s not something I’m comfortable doing . . . but exceptions have been made.

The first year following their passing was bad. Not Angel died and I went a little crazy bad, but a constant, dark, black, hopeless, steady sort of bad. I’m still not entirely sure what changed, but I place that change at my grandmother’s hands. I never thought my ancestor house was out of order, but things are certainly tidier now, and there are a number of things I needed to let go of that became easy to release. I do not carry forward the same sense of joie de virve that I believe they each carried forward, but certainly I’ve gotten better.

And still, I miss being able to call them up on the phone, or writing to them and getting letters in response. I miss their physicality. I miss their being alive.

It feels like forever, and I can’t believe it’s been two years already since we buried my grandmother next to my grandfather on his birthday.

Been a bit quiet in here this week . . .

I know I said I’d be talking up the next story installment project — and I will be. I’m waiting until I have the wherewithal to sit and use two or more syllable words to address it. I’m both excited and nervous about the upcoming project, but it’s good, it’s good.

I feel a bit burnt out, writing wise (because I am!) and I lay blame at NaNo’s feet. So, that’s part of why I’m quiet. Also, December is a HUGE month, spiritually speaking — Beth has her wedding anniversary in the first week, and then there’s Saint Nicholas’s day, which I observe as well. Yule is coming, of course, and then it’s also, you know, Poseideon, too. Yule in not a one, or two, or nine day event in our household, and while we do not often do big, elaborate things to mark the days, energy moves, Work is done, and it’s not a whole lot about talking or writing.

And then there’s the retail-based day job.

I also mark the passing of my grandmother, and my grandfather’s birthday, and while they were considerate enough to piggy-back some of those dates for us, it’s still emotionally hard. I feel my grandparents often, so I don’t miss them in the sense that they are *gone*, but it’s still hard, and I tend to just retreat and grow quiet. December is a somber month for me. It’s heavy, and I often just try to ride it out.

I will be babblying about the upcoming story plan, this weekend. I just need the space to find the words to use.

And because I know December can be hard for people, I want to say: I hope you are all doing well. If anyone needs to talk about anything or vent or just be seen, my inbox is open.

And then, pockets of joy.

Yesterday we had our vet out for a check-up with Corbie. (For any local readers, I simply cannot praise Dr. Bonnie and her staff at Eugene Mobile Veterinary Services nearly enough. I highly recommend them!) It was a standard check-up — no problems to report — and the Corbster charmed the new vet tech, as only the Corbster can. (“Look at his ears! Oh, his coloring! Oh, he’s so good, such a good dog!”). Once we got into the van he leapt from my arms onto the scale and sat. (He has a very dramatic, emphatic way of sitting. It’s like punctuation.) This delighted them to no end. He was fawned over, his lungs were pronounced clear, his heart murmur about the same, and all is good.

I’m starting, just starting mind you, to trust that Odin means it when He’s said we’ll see this year through with Corbie at our side. I didn’t, for a while, but if he maintains his current level of health, I think we’ll get through it. I’m daring to breathe easier, finally.

Tomorrow we hit the 8th year anniversary of Angel’s passing. Which I cannot believe. This means that, come March, we’ll have had Corbie for 9 years, and that doesn’t seem possible, either. (I’m counting the ages of everyone and am just floored.) Having a vet appointment during late September was all sorts of harrowing, but we made it through — despite my tumble once I was out of the van, and hey — hail bodies that are awesome, and hail my ability to roll rather than flat-out fall and not break things! I landed, and I had Corbie in my arms as I started to go down, but I fall slow enough that I managed to place him upon the ground before moving to save my face. “Are you okay?” “I don’t care, is he okay?” and he was, and he was totally oblivious to my plight as he was all about the vet tech. (I am okay, btw. Sore arms, sore hands, but otherwise fine.)

It was a good day, and did much to relieve worries that I’ve been carrying around that I hadn’t realized I’d been carrying so much. Yes, any day could be the last day, but I don’t think it’s today, and I don’t think it’s tomorrow, either.

My animal companions, those who make up so much of my immediate family, are an unwavering source of joy and love and companionship. I forget, now and again, how much that is so. When I’m so overwhelmed that even simple food is too much stimulation for me to deal with, curling up in bed with my boys is a balm to my soul that nothing else — no amount of meditation, no amount of prayer recitation, no amount of knitting or reading — can come close to.

on Compassion and Setting Boundaries

Long-time followers of this blog will know that, in sharing the ups and downs of my path, it is incredibly important to me that I keep shit real. We as people are encouraged to write about the good things, to talk about the good things, to share the positive stuff, to put a positive spin on things, to put on a happy face. I don’t believe that this is always a bad thing – I believe that there is honest sincerity in the “fake it until you make it” adage, and that for some people that works. I also know that for some, airing things publicly is the worst thing they can do in order for them to move beyond whatever “it” happens to be. I’m not going to make that call for anyone else. For myself, in knowing myself, in knowing my quirks, and also in knowing what has helped me, when reading about other peoples’ experiences, I can say: transparency. Keeping shit real. I love my gods, I love the conscious living that I strive for, I love my family, I love this semi-secluded lifestyle Beth and I have going on. But there are ups and downs. It’s not perfect. There are struggles, some the type you would expect, and others the type that you really can’t prepare for. And, more often than not, the struggles fall somewhere in the huge range between the two extremes.

Currently, I’ve got some stuff going on in the non-spiritual part of my life centered and is more potential hassle than actual big bad thing. I’m hesitant to label people as toxic, and I’m always mindful of compassion when dealing with people I’d rather not be dealing with. I’m also wretched at standing up for myself, and unexpected questions (“Can we do X?”) throw me for a loop and wind up with me making ‘maybe’ responses that I later feel badly backing down from. Giving our word matters, and never mind that there is a huge difference between ‘giving my word’ and ‘maybe’; in my default mindset, my wants and needs matter less, so it’s nothing to sacrifice my time/comfort/own goals in order to do this other thing for this other person who isn’t really much in the way of a friend. There is added grey areas when I find myself conceding that said person is likely being as good of a friend as they know how to be. It is simply not where I’m at in my life. Worse, we have nothing that I rate as important in common. They are not spiritually minded; they are more social/more extroverted/they are not interested in metaphysical stuff/writing/history/anything really that we could have common ground in, and I am more a listening ear than anything else.

There is no perceivable-as-kind way to say, ‘We aren’t really friends, you aren’t really friend material for me, I’m not interested in cultivating a friendship’. That said, how much of my own comfort do I give up to try to be kind to someone whose presence is not welcomed in my life? Does it matter, to a point, that that sounds terribly cold? Am I so concerned about compassion for others that I’m ignoring my own compassion, and self-care?

So, currently: I have a full time job outside the home. I have a very full and fulfilling spiritual practice that I’m not willing to give up even a little bit. I have a chronically ill partner, two chronically ill (one of which is also terminally ill) family members, and, thanks to humbling support of some generous fans, a steady part time writing job that I desperately need to find more time to sink into. (Website! Formatting! Editing! Things to learn and do well!) That doesn’t count the friends and family I am struggling to keep in steady contact with. I’m not saying I’m closed to meeting new people and making new friends – but I really don’t want to do that in ‘real’ time, in ‘real’ life. I certainly do not want to get together with people to go shopping or to hang out and chat small talk stuff or bitch about the annoyances of our daily lives. That’s not to say that I don’t do those things, because I do. But, I do them with my family.

That thought brings me to: my idea of family does not meet the cultural standard for ‘family’. Because when I say ‘family’ . . . there are layers, right? It’s a group of concentric circles. There’s a hierarchy. I’m fucking tribalistic when it comes to understand human relationships, and that’s not about to change. Even when we’re talking about global communities, that falls in a tribal landscape for me. So I have immediate family, and the extended family and it goes out from there. I don’t really seem to have casual friends – if you are a trusted member in my heart, you’re part of the family, ranging from immediate to extended – and, you need not be human, is another bit that is maybe different from ‘normal’ society’s understanding of family. The hierarchy, one’s placement within those circle, is largely dependent upon 1)how much you factor in my day to day life and 2) how dependent upon me you are for your well being, shelter, care, etc. Call me cold, but being a blood relative doesn’t get you an automatic ‘in’ – though in my life, those who are blood are pretty high up in those circles. I have more blood relations that I don’t really know one way or the other, and I have one in particular who, despite a shared history, is not my family, will not be my family, is a hair’s breadth away from being part of the “and everybody else in the world” crowd.

The friendships that I cultivate, the people that are part of my “spiritual family”, are inside the family circles. They are trusted and they get to see bits of me that other people may not. I don’t have casual friendships – I have family, and I have acquaintances. This is my preference.

This is the important part for me. I like it this way. I’ve cultivated my life to have it be this way. I live a semi-secluded life. I don’t make spur of the moment plans. I want weeks advance warning. Hell, the people I adore and miss terribly, I still need to make phone dates with as much to factor in our schedules as to give myself time to psych myself up for the phone call. Interacting with people is exhausting for me, and it’s part of my full time day job. It’s not not exhausting because sometimes it’s the people I love dearly. (I’m more willing to talk to people I love dearly when I’m feeling like I’d rather scream than have a conversation, than I am willing to talk to people I’m ambivalent about) I have my home life the way I want it to be. My time home, away from errands and away from the day job, is my retreat from the world at large that I need and, more to the point, want. This is what I keep getting drawn back to. Want. This is what I want. And is it my responsibility to help other people who aren’t part of my family to gain what they want, simply because I am good at putting my own wants aside for other people?

I am naturally a care-giver type person. This is not a bad thing. I am able to provide for my family with this particular skill set and ability and willingness to set my own issues aside when they need me. I’m easy going – for the most part I don’t have day to day plans when it comes to projects and goals, and I don’t care enough about a lot of things to get overly worked up. I’m way more of a beta type than an alpha type personality. But in this, in establishing boundaries and feeling like I have a right to said boundaries, this is to my detriment. I’m 36 this year; this is beginning to feel pathetic.

I’m trying to institute stock answers. “I’ll have to check my schedule.” “You know, that sounds like it could be fun, but I really don’t have the time.” They feel forced when I practice them, but they’re not exactly untrue. The truth is: I have two days off a week. One day is for running errands and spending with Beth, our only day off together. The other day is my writing day. So I’m not lying when I say I don’t have time. It may be “I don’t want to give you that time,” because essentially that’s what I’m saying – but shouldn’t that be a given when said person is not my partner? But my stupid brain. I say things like, “I’m working that day,” and it runs with “but you’re not working at your real job/you can write any time/insert all excuses they could think of here.” Given enough breathing room I arrive at knowledge that, if what is important to me isn’t a factor to them at all, they have no place in my life. But out of the blue questions don’t give me that breathing room, so “I’ll have to check my schedule,” is better. Really, what I want is to be comfortable saying, “No.”

And I’ve tried – because bitching aside, said person is not someone I dislike, although in my course of not standing up for my actual wants, there’s an association of dislike, and that’s on me really, my fault for not honoring those boundaries in the first place – I’ve tried to give said person some of my time, now and again, and then they get graspy about it. Clingy. Let’s do more things, let’s go places, let’s hang out. The kindest answer at this point, simply, no. If that makes me an asshole in their eyes, then I’m an asshole.

Situations like these, I wish so badly I had an easy way to say, “My house is my cloister and I leave it only when I must.”

(Our Pagan Cloister. Beth, maybe we should rename our house? Hrmm . . . )

I know that this is something I need to get under control. I know that this means, most immediately, there is going to be some “breaking of my word”, and disappointment on their part. The question is: am I okay with that enough to put my family and writing and wants first? The answer is: yes. But it’s still going to be annoying and bad-feeling-making to deal with. Why is it on me to care about other peoples feelings and what they do with them?

Frustrated. Keeping it real, and right now, real is frustrated.

Hail my god, my King. Hail, Odin!

One particular struggle that I have is maintaining boundaries with people. I have this savior complex when it comes to some, and helps me be utterly stupid with the boundaries I need to maintain.

Last night my gods decided enough was enough. We sat down, and we started a working on it. I won’t go into the details here because that’s not how we do, but I will say that I reached a point of enough is enough. That is, I reached a point where They said enough is enough. Why? Because I began making it seem like I was willing to risk worsening my back injury (strained it last week, and thanks to last October, straining it even just a bit equals pissed of sciatic nerve) to help someone move. When I began making noise about how I couldn’t, I earned the silent treatment, and began wondering, well, maybe I can do this or that to help.

It wasn’t enough that Beth said not to do it. It wasn’t enough that I’m terrified of getting incapacitated again. Wasn’t enough that I’d be out a week’s pay, and on and on and on. It took Them putting Their feet down. “This is the line. You do not cross this line.”

I spent some good time with Odin last night, with Him essentially reaming me out. I will say that He paused long enough beforehand to allow me to get a good, firm grasp on Who He Is, who I am in relation to Him, and to feel His love and caring for me before He totally laid into me. In fact, He made me speak it. “Who am I? What right do you have, to ask for My aid and guidance in this?”

And then there was a litany of who I owe obligations to. Again and again and again and again, in order of said obligation. There was a reminder of surrendering my life to His control, which I have done, but which I don’t pay enough attention to, because Poseidon’s control of my life is so much more tangible and constant and *there*. But then, it would be.

It was so very, very needed, and so very, very good. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done anything quite as formal as last night, and it touched places that have been neglected.

Maintaining boundaries, because I’m obliged toward people, toward particular people, and I need to be ever mindful of that. This will be an ongoing project, and it’s going to make situations uncomfortable, but there are people and spirits I owe my time to, and they have dominant claim. How do I forget that? How does neglect slip in so readily?

A back injury is not an excuse to get out of helping some one. If that cannot be respected, I do not need to respect said person. My obligation is to keep well enough to go to my job to get my paycheck to help pay for shelter and food and medications for everyone, in this case. I don’t have any assurances that simply riding the bus to work and home won’t make my back worse. Hefting boxes certainly will. Obligations. And it’s my own fault for not keeping those obligations (or more likely, for not connecting all these factors in my mind, for, ahem, not being mindful) that the situation is uncomfortable. But, oh well. My shit to deal with and if I’d keep those boundaries in the first place, I wouldn’t be here. Suck it up, Jo.

Keeping it real, here. Also, compassion must be maintained, even self-compassion. I fucked up. I’m fixing it. I’ve already been reamed out, and now we’re moving on. I don’t get to ream myself out constantly. I’m not the boss of me.