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Tag: challenging assumptions

Having it all figured out

Having it all figured out

You know, a lot of blogs tell you they have the answers to everything, and I’ve always been staunchly against having the answers. I have what works for me, I have ideas and opinions, but answers? If I had the answers, where would I need to go next in my spiritual path? The search for truth and mystery is a journey that never ends. So while I’m here, I’ll share my journey and the insight I have gained from it, but I will never have everything figured out—and that’s okay.

A lot of blogs put me off because the authors make it seem like they have everything figured out and that they’re going to help you, too, learn How To Life, and yeah, nope. I’ve internalised the idea that I can’t post something unless I have something big to say, something well thought out, something that will enlighten readers. That’s a lot of pressure! Why do I let it get to me?

I vented recently to a friend that one time, the internet was all about what we could create with it. We teenagers made web sites to our favorite musicians, movies, and TV shows, worked pretty graphics, learned every bit of HTML and CSS we could to make web sites that shone our love for the creations. Then Google Adsense came out, and suddenly people were growing up and learning the importance of having money for sustenance, and adults were figuring out that the Internet could be “monetized” and suddenly blogs and web sites weren’t about talking about the things that made us happy and excited, they were working on gaining audiences so they could make money. So of course they’d put themselves in a position of authority—who would buy their books or e-courses or sponsor their speaking fees if they weren’t an authority?

Then there were blogs about how you, too, could make a lot of money by blogging, and then people clamored to write their own blogs to make money, and then suddenly there were all these people on the Internet blogging with the goal of making money instead of talking about the things they’re interested in. Now it seems like ALL blogs out there position themselves as an authority on something, relying on the capitalist structure where if your authority isn’t behind your product, you aren’t doing it right. And we the people writing the content ARE the product.

That’s a structure that just doesn’t work for me. I’m a person first, and can’t turn myself into a sellable product without repressing what makes me me. (Though I’m more than happy to charge for services rendered—want a Tarot reading? Maybe you’d like some advice on web sites? I’d be happy to charge for those things, but I won’t tell you I’m THE authority, just what I’ve learned on the Internet over the last fifteen years.) I won’t write about how to do this thing or that thing and expect you to believe me as the last word. I will write about what I’ve learned while figuring myself out, and how I came to the conclusions I’ve come to, and ask questions to get to more answers.

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.

This is what disability looks like

This is what disability looks like

On Sunday, I woke up with a catch in my throat. “But that’s no problem,” I thought. “I’ll just take some extra albuterol [inhaler] this morning and I’ll be fine.” I did that. Felt better. Then decided that I was sick of the garbage accumulating in the kitchen. Rather than thinking, “It’s kind of cold out, that’s an asthma trigger, and I am already weak this morning, so maybe instead of multiple trips carrying things up and down stairs, I’ll ask a housemate to take care of it later,” I went ahead and took out all the recycling and compost.

As I finished my last round, panting, a housemate came home and found me noticeably shaking and breathing heavily. Sitting and trying to catch my breath back.

Two hours later, I went in to work my part-time job. Finding I was stationed somewhere with a lot of standing and talking to people, I went to find a supervisor to move somewhere less active. The supervisors took a look at me and told me it would be fine for me to just go home, and are you sure you don’t want the EMT to make sure you’re okay? Let’s find someone to walk you to your car to make sure you don’t collapse on the way there.

On Monday I got a second letter about a doctor’s appointment my insurance failed to cover. Last week I got my monthly premium bill saying I didn’t owe anything, so I assumed it had taken into account that I am not working and would be covered for insurance. Now I am going to have to spend a lot of time on a phone tree trying to understand what happened. Phones make me anxious at the best of times, and this certainly is not that.

Looking out of a rain-splattered window to a tree and garage
The dull, dreary view out of my kitchen window this week

SAD is rearing its ugly head, with the time change and the ugly drab grey days filled with rain. Time to take extra vitamin D and use a sun lamp after waking up. Try to conserve energy as best as I can.

Even just a few months ago, I called this “dealing with health issues”. Or “I have invisible illnesses”. But if I have days where I go in to work and have someone look at me and tell me it’s okay to go back home, then I am more than justified in taking back the word disabled. Disabled in our minds looks like using a walker, or wheelchair, or blind, or something we can see when we look at them. It doesn’t look like days that are fine and then days that suddenly I just can’t breathe. It doesn’t look like a pretty, vibrant young adult (woman) with strong energy and a sharp mind. It doesn’t look like me.

A black cat snuggled into the bed covers
This one wants all the love in this weather.

But these are the realities I deal with. I don’t know what it’s like to wake up with a healthy body. That’s never been a part of my reality. And as I’m getting older, my disabilities are wearing down my body. I’m in my 20s. No one expects someone my age to not be able to trust their body and mind. I’ve internalised this mind set so thoroughly that I have barely let myself be comfortable with disabled, and that means I haven’t let my body be what it is.

It’s time for me to take back disabled. To forgive myself for spending most of my day taking care of my body and mind. To not expect myself to do too much, and to understand that things like navigating phones are going to take a lot of energy, and it’s okay to treat myself gently. It’s okay to not be perfect. That’s a hard thing to get used to. After all, we have a social narrative that demands we fit in to how our lives are supposed to look like. Disrupting that is a challenge.

I hope to live up to that challenge.

Looking Forward 5 October 2015

Looking Forward 5 October 2015

This weekend was something. I alluded last week to working on a final comment collection push for my environmental activism, and on Friday we got the news that our work over the last five (!!!) years has paid off. Cue excitement and frenzy, plus a meeting with the utilities company—wherein they actually let me in the building. (A story we’ve been passing around for a year has something to do with their security people kicking me out…) We’d been planning an end-of-comment-period celebratory party tonight, but now we’re going to be celebrating even more.

This, and my weekend part-time job, and apple picking yesterday, and managing my depression and migraines (major headache last night, and major depression Friday night), and I’m pretty out of it. How are you doing? I’m really feeling like a person with disabilities today. All my spoons are used up, and I need to borrow from tomorrow’s for tonight’s event. It’s pretty intense. It’s re-shaping the way I look at life, having to think about managing my reserves this way. I don’t look sick. I look like a young, vibrant, joyful young woman a lot of the time, and that’s how I’ve been brought up to see myself. It really clashes with how I feel lately. Sometimes I wonder how much I could do if I didn’t deal with illnesses. I think I’d be a superhero, considering all I do while dealing with an unhappy body!

So I’m learning patience with myself and my body and re-shaping my narrative of myself.

How about some Tarot for this coming week, huh? I’d like a quiet week where the most I have to deal with is a cat on my lap most of the day. How about you?

Queen of Pentacles, 5 of Pentacles, and 9 of Pentacles

Three Fey Tarot cards laid out in a triangle on a table: Queen of Pentacles, 5 of Pentacles, 9 of Pentacles

It’s really autumn now that it’s October, so it’s a good time to revisit hearth and home, the grounding element of Earth that the Pentacles rule. This suit is the suit of what I said before: quiet time to snuggle a cat, eat apples picked yourself from the tree, and recharge with the energy the Earth can provide. The pentacle in 5 of Pentacles resembles a fire, even, to remind us to get cosy, maybe build a fire, drink some tea, and not worry too much about what’s going on outside, just take care of your own energy.

The 9 of Pentacles is a bit tricky, though. She seems ready to pass on a message: if you’re not going to slow down and let some grounding energy into your life, something you don’t like will happen. Something unbalanced. Got it, Lady 9. This week, I’ll make applesauce and deal with the bare minimum to live.

What about you? What makes you feel secure and comfortable when autumn arrives?

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!

Breaking stereotypes

Breaking stereotypes

Hi! My name is Stephanie. When you meet me, you may notice my attention to my appearance: stylish outfits, colorful eye makeup (sometimes also bright lipstick!), fun nail polish and well-moisturized hands. You may be tempted to write me off as a bubbly Californian valley girl who knows appearance and would be shocked to break standards.

Please don’t.

What you won’t realize is that I wash my hair once a week or less, do my laundry about every 5 weeks (I’m trying to get closer to 3), have no qualms about sitting on the grass, and I make my own deodorant (which is why I can go 3 or 4 days without applying it).

Appearance is a geeky thing, to me, something to fiddle with to see what works. I swear I have NO idea what I’m doing with makeup, but so far haven’t made a huge mess, and despite how self-conscious it makes me to wear bright red lipstick, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

I have about 5 dresses that I’ve rotated in and out this winter, combining them with different accessories for different “looks”. I still have no idea, really, what to do with my hair other than brush it (I’m trying for other things!). I devour beauty and hair blogs, trying to analyze how they do what they do and what I can do similarly.

But it’s not about looking good. It’s about playing with different combinations to delight myself in my creativity and use of color. And now that I’m one of them, I have to stop judging other people for wearing makeup on a daily basis. That’s their choice, just as it is mine.

P.S. I also love anime, sci-fi and fantasy, know bits of coding languages, and go on (and on) about this cool knitting thing I found. Yeah, you’ll really get me if you judge me by how I look (unless you recognize the pattern for the sweater I’m wearing and strike up a knitting conversation, then we’re probably good).