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Tag: being vulnerable

Finding shadows and creeping back toward the light.

Finding shadows and creeping back toward the light.

Hello, world.

Words that I’ve typed more times than I can count, as a child of the Internet and a software architect who had computers in my home while the Internet was new and still forming. See, I still capitalize Internet, like an old-school user who remembers when it was something most people didn’t understand or use. They still don’t understand it, but everyone now uses it.

I’d hoped those words would lead me to what to write next. I hadn’t wanted to stop blogging or writing in my journal, but between the pain of grief at personal and world events, pain in my body, and taking on a magic new identity, a law student of all things, I didn’t have the energy to write. My entire being was sapped by stressors, for months.

And now that I have a break from school, I’m still not sure how to get back to writing. And everyone talks about healing, and I know that’s part of what I want and will be, but I don’t know how to heal the gaping wounds in my self. To be truly honest, I don’t know how to love myself, flawed and broken and hard. I take comfort in the fact that others love me as I am, and that keeps me going. But if I’m going to learn about healing, shouldn’t I extend the same unconditional love that I give others to myself? I don’t. I hate my body, I hate my past, I hate how I got to where I am. Everything I do extends from wanting to prove to others that I am worthy, I am capable of being loved. It works for others, my wonderful community of supportive friends, quasi-coworkers, and foster-family. It doesn’t work for myself.

That’s not where I thought I was going with this. But the words write themselves, and if I’m going to take myself where I want to with Witchling in Flight, I have to let myself be vulnerable: because that’s where the healing magic will take place.

It’s hard to come to this conclusion, and it makes me want to reach for chocolate (which I’m not allowing myself for a month; more on that later, perhaps). Somehow, I need to give myself space to be vulnerable and empty out a dark space in my psyche, so that I can shine brighter and for more people than my close set of friends.

Time will tell if I’ll ever be ready.

Let’s talk about grief

Let’s talk about grief

My very bad joke of the last two weeks has been that, gosh, if I’d known that grief would cure my sleeping problem, I would have tried it ages ago! (Or not.) For weeks, I’d set my alarm, wake up when it went off, put it on snooze, then fall soundly asleep for another hour or two. I just need so much more rest than I’d been giving myself. Now when my alarm goes off, I stare at the ceiling while my body numbs itself again to the pain and grief of the last two weeks.

And now I sit at home with time to focus on school work for the first time in a week, and I feel too numb to focus.

On Monday, Nov. 7, I was keeping my friend supported and taken care of while she pulled through a mental crisis. The possibility of a Trump presidency was starting to feel like it could actually happen, but I couldn’t let myself focus on it, lest I break down in fear.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, I put on my “I Voted” sticker and told myself that love for all will win this day. People in the United States can’t possibly have that much hatred for their fellow humans. Love and unity would win that day.

Later in the day, I got my last phone call telling me that my grandfather was in his final days. I’d thought I’d heard this before, I’d thought he would keep going as he has been for months. I steeled myself, but I hadn’t really expected him to die yet.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, I woke up in a world I hadn’t thought possible. Anger and hatred had won. We weren’t going backward as a society, we were going backward as humans who care for each other. I somehow made it through school. I texted almost all of my close friends. I told them we would hold each other close. I got ready for having a planning meeting on Friday evening to talk about where we would go from here. I told everyone I could that I am there for them, too.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, I woke up and laid in bed for an hour, staring at the ceiling. My phone rang. My mother had had a medical procedure the day before and was still recovering, so my dad gave me the news: my grandfather had passed overnight. Did I still want to go with them to the funeral in the state where my mother’s family lives? Yes, I did. We texted flight plans while I emailed everyone I knew I needed to to say that I was going out of town for the funeral. Professors were supportive. Friends brought me food, hugs, chocolate. One friend I made a key for to take care of my cat while I was gone. Another made sure I got to the airport safely and that my car was fine for the week I’d be away.

I’d had a Sierra Club meeting scheduled on Friday, and there plenty of staff had red eyes from crying. We fumbled through our meeting, changing everything about what we’ll do next. That night I had a planning meeting with friends about how we will hold each other. On Saturday, Nov. 12, I emailed one of the few classmates who I like, a Muslim woman, to tell her that I’m here for her during school. She responded that there have already been incidents of hateful words said in school.

I don’t know how to keep it together.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, I met my parents at an airport and commenced a week of stress, secrets, and lies. We met with an attorney four times to get the ball rolling on closing my grandfather’s estate. I sat with my mom each time, to help her navigate the confusing words that attorneys say. We spent six hours at the viewing of my grandfather. We went to the funeral, and we watched them lower his coffin into the grave next to my grandmother. We dealt with realtors, we never figured out how to navigate disputes over who gets his deer head mounted on the wall. The air outside was fresher than indoors, so I breathed better outside than inside for the first time in years. We learned of a long-kept secret while one of my aunts decided to keep secret from her husband the truth of something that happened that week because he couldn’t handle his own emotions.

It was a long, hard week, and I ignored the results of the election the entire time.

I’m not sure even now how I’m supposed to feel about all of this. I am not sure I can feel for a while yet. I think I need to get through the next two weeks of school. I hope I can hold it together until then. I know I can hold my friends as much as possible while I get through this. I know that my communities care for me no matter what. I know that this will get me through.

We will get through together. That’s a promise.

Self Care Is Not An Option

Self Care Is Not An Option

My therapist likes to tell me that I have a “tricky body”. I hope that encompasses tricky brain chemistry, too. December is never a good month for me. It’s usually when I get a cold which mutates into no asthma control and bronchitis, so I’m huffing, puffing, and wheezing come January 1st and everyone expects that I should have worked more, because don’t we have a rush this season? Are you not carrying your weight, SJ?

Why hello there, brain demons, I don’t remember inviting you in. But that’s also what happens when there’s not enough light, so I’m fighting both my mind telling me I’m not good enough, and my body screaming and pleading for rest.

It’s not a good month.

While other people are spending time with their families to make up for the lack of light, I haven’t seen my blood-family for December holidays in six years. I feel more and more alone as I’m asked to work more and more hours, living in a culture that places more value on whether I’ve made money than whether I’m feeling well.

This year, I’m starting off the month with well-controlled asthma, but sometimes it seems like the smallest thing will nudge it into being bad again. I have to be extremely careful. I succumb to viruses pretty quickly as well, and it frustrates me when in the beginning of the virus I rest a lot, it still turns into a full-blown snot fest and I’ve already used up my excuses. That’s why I’m fighting having to rest right now, when there’s a tickle in my throat, because I’m afraid I’m wasting time I could be spending on the things that are important to me, and later I’ll barely have the strength to get out of bed.

I have a tricky body, and this time of year is tricky to begin with. I know that when I stop writing, I need to reexamine what’s going on with me. I’ve stopped writing for about a week and buried myself in stressful things. How do you hit “pause” on the stressful parts of life to give yourself energy for the things that bring you joy? So far all I’ve been able to do is barely cope. The stressful things are pretty time-sensitive, so I get them done and then try to take care of myself with some knitting and cat snuggling. Reading blogs? Writing my own posts? Ha! Just try to survive right now, SJ. Keep your head above water.

It’s frustrating, living in a culture that talks about valuing family and home at this time of year, but keeps us on our toes and too worn out with end-of-year work and deadlines to really appreciate what we have.

Just another reason to work toward opting out.

This time of year, and every time of year, if I want to keep functioning, self care is not an option.

When each step is a hurdle

When each step is a hurdle

I can tell winter is looming from my desire to never empty my pot of tea. I have candles burning in the room I’m working in almost daily, and my cat requires serious pushing to get her to stop snuggling up against my wrists. It’s been grey out. Getting myself out of bed to face another day has been a challenge I’m not sure I’ve overcome. I have so many things I want to be on top of, but really all I’ve been able to wrap my brain around is my knitting.

Happily, it’s been so long since I last was able to knit regularly that this is a wonderful source of delight. But it doesn’t keep me on track with my few real-world commitments. I spent seven hours last week trying to figure out the design for this site, and then got frustrated, or scared, or some feeling that’s stopping me from setting it all up again and trying again. I need to try again, because I have some better ideas of how to go about coding the things, but it’s so hard to just start. I’m afraid I’m putting something else out. I have a lot of emails I need to catch up on, because I have had such a hard time working on that lately. I have some kitchen reorganization that would be helpful to have. And I have the demons in my head telling me that what I’m doing right now is not good enough, and will never be good enough, and that’s not fair to me, either.

So I’m taking baby steps to getting back in the game. I should have gotten up and grabbed some paper to write down the List of things I should take care of, but I started a list in my head. Today so far I’ve figured out how to get to the Overcoming Racism conference I’m going to on Friday and Saturday. I’ve done some reading and responding for a workshop I’m attending next week. I’ve started boiling some tins to sanitize them. I’ll use the tins once they’re dry to store tea and to make some lotions (though those things don’t have to happen today, although getting started would be great). I’ve snuggled my cat and written a list of the people I need to email to follow up with.

Baby steps. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this.

That said, how about a draw from the Fey Tarot about what to focus on right now?

Three cards from the Fey Tarot arranged in a triangle
4 Pentacles, 6 Chalices, I – The Magician

It seems like you’re juggling everything right now, but with a focused will you won’t lose your balance. Good luck.



I pretended for too long last week that I’ll be okay and that my body will be fine if I push through and work as hard as I can. Saturday and Sunday my body told me in no uncertain terms that it does not work that way. My body needs me to rest, to sit still for hours, to use as little brain and body power as possible while it knits my lungs back together into usable pieces.

Attempting to rest leaves me restless. I have too much time to compare myself to others. There are too many shoulda, coulda, wouldas circling around my head. Too many things I was supposed to do, ways I was supposed to conform.

And that’s not my path right now.

Last night, I did a simple Past, Present, Future spread for myself.

Three Tarot cards lined up: The Devil, Death, and 8 of Chalices
Past, Present, Future: XV The Devil, XIII Death, 8 of Chalices

Card 1: Past – XV The Devil. Expectations to grow up, get a job, find a career that interests me. This is the devil I know, and it is eating me up inside. Why do I subject myself to this? Because I assume it’s the only way. Is it really?

Card 2: Present – XIII Death. This may be the first time I have actually drawn Death. In movies and TV, when Death is drawn, it’s a melodramatic affair. Who will die next? Everyone asks. That’s not what Death stands for. Death stands for a metaphorical death, the same kind of death as controlled brush fires in a forest: the death of old so that something new can come in. This might be the very real death of my expectations and ideals of being “normal”. And it’s okay to grieve that, so long as I am not stuck in that grief.

Card 3: Future – 8 of Chalices. One official meaning of this card I read is to work with limited resources. Which is what I have right now: limited resources for good health. Another friend suggested that this is another analog to Spoon Theory. Fact: I don’t have enough spoons right now. Conclusion: Time to work with what I have.

This card shows a Fae about to embark on a long, solitary road. My first reaction is relief – I’ve been trying so hard to make “being a sociable person” work, but if I can successfully take care of my needs while walking a solitary road, I would be content. In that respect, the card promises better things for me. I just have to let Death take over all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, clear the ground for me to walk my path, the one meant just for me.

Looks like an auspicious time to try out a new journey and stop fitting myself into the mold that has never worked for me.

2015 Word of the Year

2015 Word of the Year

There’s a trend recently to move away from making resolutions for a new year and instead focus on a word or phrase that describes a concept that you want to focus on through the year. It’s been many years since I’ve made a New Year’s resolution, and I’ve never consciously decided to focus on a word of the year. Somehow, though, I find myself coming back to one word a lot in the last few months: vulnerability.

I’m a creature who has never trusted easily. I didn’t make many long-lasting friendships when I was young, and I was deeply hurt by other kids. It took me a long time to recover. I closed myself off all except superficially a long time ago, hoping that if I conform to what others expect or accept, I won’t get hurt again. In the last year or two, though, I’m finding that my life is somehow lesser for it. I have a community of people in my geographic vicinity whom I cherish and love, and the more I am around these people, the more I want them to know about the real me, not the me they see on the surface. The real me is so much more than what I put out there on a regular basis.

So I started pushing myself to be more vulnerable. To boldly submit an opinion piece regarding my stance on the use of coal for electricity and how badly I am affected by air pollution, then asking people who know me in real life to read it – which means learning my weaknesses when before I only let them see my strengths. This means writing about my insecurities, and my need to take care of myself, and the thoughts about Tarot and spirituality that never come up in conversation. Then putting on Facebook that Luminous Emporium is out here, that Becky and I are powerful witchy women, and I own up to that here where I can write about it. Eventually, it will mean acknowledging the power of the words we use here, and how deeply they settle within my core.

Vulnerability has been about letting the things that I hold most dear out into the sunlight for a little bit, revealing to new people the things that matter to me. It means writing to someone about something that’s been secret for a long time. It means inviting an offline friend to learn how to draw and be creative with me. It means being as true to all parts of myself as I can possibly be.

The more I unintentionally made myself vulnerable to friends, the more aware I was of my subconscious desire to break down my walls between myself and others. The more the word “vulnerable” appeared in my mind, the more I knew that this is the year to let down my guard and see what happens. I might be highly sensitive and hurt harder and longer if I get hurt, but that doesn’t mean I should shut myself down from emotions and a loving community, I figure.

Here’s to discovering our true selves!