Category Archives: All About Me

Full Moon – Zucchini Moon Crests (Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius) and Wanes

So, as will surprise nobody, I wrote this up about two weeks ago, when the moon was actually full, but am only getting around to posting it now – practically on the eve of both a new moon AND a solar eclipse.
Bear with me, folks.
 
~*~
 
Hey there!
So my own zucchini are doing NOTHING and my cucumber vine shrived and died. Meaning (again) I’m getting all my cukes and zukes from the grocery store and/or the farmer’s market this year.
NBD, but I’m looking forward to a time when I’m inundated with squash-type garden-fresh produce to the point where I’m calling my friends, friends-of-friends, and local soup-kitchens going “Can I offer you these grocery bags of home-grown zucchini? I have plenty to share!” ‘Cause that would be AWESOME.
My pumpkins seem to be doing nicely though, so there’s that. And my beans are just about ready to harvest! 😀
 
A friend of mine says that everyone she knows is a mess right now, so maybe my heightened anxiety stuff is just… Something’s in retrograde or something? I don’t even know.
 
Hoodwitch says “Eclipse season is about the powerful flow of feels”, so maybe that’s it. She also says “Be prepared to confront your ugly bits with compassion and strength.” And “strive to act in ways that reflect your integrity”, and advises (me, as a Scorpio, at least) to “Get grounded into the here and now so that you can notice if you’re reacting to something presently happening versus something tugging at your heart.”
 
Relevant.
 
Chani Says:
“Monday’s lunar eclipse will help you heal.
Whatever issues are in need of it. Whatever dynamics need dealing with. When you find that you need help letting something from your past go, ask for guidance. Ask for help. Ask for what you need to move forward in peace.
Mercury’s retrograde will be asking you to review your social roles, commitments and communications.”
 
So… That’s a thing. Not the Mercury Retrograde thing – that happens, what, four times a year? Easily?
No, I mean the OTHER thing.
 
You know how The Moon handles intuitive stuff, but it also handles repeating patterns?
 
Well, I’ve been having Feels (and Thoughts) about repeating patterns in relationships. How a shitty thing my brother said to me, about 20 years ago, is still rebounding around my psyche setting off tremors.
 
They only like you ‘cause you give them things.
 
This stuff came up during my life-coaching, last year. Stuff about feeling like I’m starting out all relationships (romances, friendships, you name it) “in the hole” or “owing” the other person just because they deigned to hang out with me. But I’ve also noticed a pattern (how 17 years later…) wherein all but one Person I’ve Dated has been relying on me for financial support and… I’m starting to wonder how to stop that from happening in future. Like, it’s one thing to be on Team Us and do what needs doing, but it’s another thing to notice that “team us” as actually been “us” not “team other person”… once? And that, given my history, that was probably by luck not by design. More second chakra crap, I suspect. :-/
 
On a (marginally? sort of?) related note: The Queens!
 
What really struck me about the descriptions in that link was the part wherein the Queen of Earth knows how to do SELF-care, and specifically because of that is ALSO able to do community care like a boss. I’ve always read it the other way around. Like, I start out learning how to take care of other people and… eventually this turns into me being able to take care of myself? Something?
 
Little Red Tarot has this to say about Aquarius Full Moon, btw: “During this Full Moon, we can’t not think about the collective, for one of the archetypes of Aquarius, the water bearer, is one that serves the collective. The Sun is in the sign of Leo, which is ruled by the Sun, the sign of the self. Here we are, trying to rise up into our best selves that can weave the most dangerously compassionate, enduring, uniquely creative webs into the world.”
 
Balancing what I need with what other people need.
 
This shouldn’t be so hard. :-\
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not nearly enough! BUT I did get to throw knives with a neighbourhood femme friend last weekend, which involved lots of throwing (which – unexpectedly – was good for my messed up back) and also lots of squatting (not so much – ow, my knees and hips), so I’ll definitely call that a work-out. 😀
 
Attention: As I said in my Lammas post, I’m trying to get my glam game back on track. Can I just say how utterly frustrating/irritating it is to be fighting up hill against a whole wodge of conditioning that says “keep yourself small (Ha! At 6’4” – that’s gonna work) and unnoticeable, and you won’t get hurt”. Holy crap, is that ever hard! But that’s the current project, so…
 
Gratitude: Having a spare room to offer a friend who needs some short-term crash space AND having on-hand the kind of food that it’s safe for her to eat. Getting to go for a motorbike ride with my wife, enjoying the breeze and stopping to look at the river for a bit. Such a lovely evening out! Having friends I can count on when I need to get things off my chest. Having friends who are game to sit down and do Writing Date stuff with me (and also give me feedback on my work!!!). Graeful for other witchy femmes (and non-femmes, tbh, but in particular the femmes) for just being visible and present and being My People. Grateful for a pumpkin vine with what looks like a solid two pumpkins developing rapidly! Grateful for being able to put chard up in the freezer, and for the week of work that’s let me restock on a LOT of kitchen staples (flour, tinned tuna, baking powder, and lots of other stuff) after running on empty for too long! Grateful for Pride Season arriving in Ottawa, for all the nifty things there are to do, and the way everyone’s turning their queer-viz up just a notch. It’s so great to see. ❤
 
Inspiration: Other witchy femmes, zomygoats! Whether it’s poetry, or seeing them get published, or running into them and chatting with each other, or even just SEEING US AROUND, it never fails to lift up my day and remind me (a) who My People are, and (b) give me a reason to keep being visible (keep working on my poetry and prose, keep blogging, keeping dressing to be spotted, keep being brave and putting my social self out there)! ❤
 
Creation: Have been pushing at The Novel again – sorting out some of the skeletal issues and plotting out the last quarter of the story. It’s, uh… I’m going to have to cut out a solid one, probably two, sub-plots (which will help drop the first third of the book down to manageable work-count size), but… I seem to be hitting my beats somewhat correctly in spite of that? Which is nice to see? Also, I have a knitting date semi-arranged, so maybe I’ll get some more work done on those stocking extensions. 😀

Lammas 2017 – Gonna Get My Girl Body Back (This is a Work in Progress)

You know what I’m doing for Lammas this year? I’m shaving my goddamn legs. That’s what.
My morning wasn’t great. Like: French Toast for breakfast is pretty swell, but doing it because you are SICK-SICK-SICK of fried eggs and toast, but that’s all you have? Less great. CREATIVE, maybe, but not great. Adding lemon curd definitely helped, mind you. 😉
 
Still.
 
Ms Sugar has a new post up about Lammas and creating rituals/rites/ceremonies that don’t focus on (a) adding extra heat to the kitchen, or (b) sacrificial dudes of the sun and grain. She’s using Juliet Capulet as a template here and… okay, this is a baby-girl who offed herself OVER A BOY inside of a week of turning 14. So the call be selective about Teenager Experiences is probably a wise one. >.> None the less, I get (I think) where she’s going with this.
 
So I shaved my legs. I put Wild Heart oil blend (made by a bath-stuff-supplies crafty vendor years ago, I don’t even remember who… sorry) because of the name, and because the licorice scent (anise essential oil, along with perum balsam and I don’t remember what the third bit is) of it makes me think of the anise hyssop I’ve been rubbing my fingers against, every chance I get, around town.
 
Last night, my wife, her girlfriend, and I went to Kontinuum – a sound-and-lights show set in an incomplete subway tunnel, down town. It reminded me a lot of the Rave Stuff that the CU architecture students used to do, back when that was still legal. The scafolding was for artistic purposes only (as in: will support light fixtures and speakers and screens NOT human bodies), but… Let’s just say I would LOVE the opportunity to go dancing in a club with support structures – gogo cages, fixed (pin in, so no rotation) stripper poles, barres, that kind of thing – so that me and my fucked back and knees could really get wild.
Ideally a Tea Dance (Like 2pm to 7pm) in the kind of place where the windows are all super blacked-out, so that the day-light can’t get in, possibly with a tunnel to make your way through – perhaps with beaded curtains or tactile not-exactly-obstacles – to help get people into the “we’re in a different world now” head space. Like: First we brunch then we dance (and possibly fuck-in-the-bathroom) then we sushi and cocktails, and then we fuck some more.
 
That would be great (good thing it’s Pride Month around here…)
 
So. For those of you who don’t know, the title of this post (other than the Lammas 2017 part) is also the title of an essay by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha (one of my favourite poets, and femme auntie extraordinaire). What does this have to do with Lammas?
Fuck all (well… wait for it…), except that I’ve been feeling gross and awful for ages, and I want to feel better!
So.
I’ve been glamour-boarding, in the name of reminding myself what I like and what I want to look like (and also to generate Ideas for this autumn’s Harvest) and it’s equal parts burlesque/pin-up, tribal fusion, JuneCleaver/JoanHolloway, leather/fetish/gothic stuff, pics of Lagertha/Valkyrie, and women with horns/feathers/claws. So… I haven’t changed.
Which is good to know.
But also: I miss having red hair.
I stopped dying it over a year ago. For… Reasons… >.>
Basically, I thought “Why am I dumping chemicals on my head if it’s not making me beautiful?” (yes, you read that right…)
And then I thought “If Laura Jane can be this beautiful, without dying her hair, and we have the same colouring… Maybe?”
…So I stopped dying it.
And now I miss it. I imagine ME, glamourous (you can define that as fascinating or powerful or sensual, because they all apply), and my hair’s the colour of old claret.
 
Ms Sugar talks about the Red Ladies. The goddess who handle sex, money, power, whoring, and sensuality. At least, my sunshine Lady certainly covers all those bases and her colour is RED (even if mine isn’t – in spite of the above “I miss having red hair” situation). And today is one of her feast days. So why the hell not, right?
Right.

New Year New You 2016: Week 18 – Body Time + Taking Stock

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “Do I think you need to know how to quiet your mind and focus to do magic? Yes!” So, take a minute to empty the “old crap” out of your brain, so there’s “room to let new crap in”.
 
Tarot Card: For this prompt, I’m strongly inclined to go with Temperence, given its connotations of balance, of pause and reflect, of integration. But I could have just as easily gone with The Hanged Man with its connotations of edges, of new perspectives, even night vision (king of insight…), the clarity that can come from taking a minute to look at things from all angles, to wait and see. Likewise, the Seven of Earth – the suit of embodiment, its number linked to both hope (the Star) and action (the Chariot) – that urges us to look at what we’ve accomplished while reminding us that change takes time would also be an appropriate choice.
 
So someone (Parneet from Chai Chats, iirc) once very effectively explained meditation as “This is not Mind Time. This is Body Time”. Like, rather than focusing on Emptying Your Mind, the whole point of meditation (sitting quietly style meditation) is to check in with your body and connect with yourself physically. That’s what the whole “focus on your breath” thing is about.
Me? I spend a HUGE amount of my life in Mind Time. Hours and hours spent sifting through thoughts and cognitive patterns, dealing with a lymbic system that is sometimes No Help At All and trying to forge new habits and pathways by rote and force of Will… But Brene says “We move what we know from our heads to our hearts through our hands” and so Body Time is a needed thing, as well.
 
Body Time is hours spent making thumbprint shortbread cookies and vegan ginger snaps. It’s the repetitive work of chopping food for large-batch cooking and canning, and the over-under-around-and-through of knitting a shrug worth of garter stitch, the back-and-forth of weaving, the twist-and-fling of spinning on a drop spindle. All those “stimming” things that keep me level and calm and focused when anxiety and ambient noise are threatening to carry me away.
Body Time is pausing to feel my feet, set my roots down into the ground, it’s taking a minute to breath extra deep, into the spots in my hips that aren’t always there, all the way down into my shins, to feel with my whole body. It’s doing a little shoulder-focused dance to help my spine straighten and my stiff, aching lower-back muscles loosen up.
Body Time is letting myself enjoy a kiss, lean into a touch, feel everything all the way down rather than shying away from sensation. It’s paying attention to sensation, to wants and desires that show up physically, adding new techniques to the tool kit of Things That Help Me Stay and then actually using them when I need them.
 
Body Time is, to be honest, still a work in progress, but it’s getting easier. Some days, the part of my brain that insists that experiencing desire is, in and of itself, monstrous, something to be ashamed of, something that it’s abusive and wrong to even voice… some days, that part of me still does the driving. Although I’m getting a little better at wrestling the keys back and feeling my way into my own frame again.
I have made progress on this front.
I am having an easier time recognizing that I’m loved and cared for. I’m having an easier time holding two hard, sad things in my hands at once while still continuing to actually move forward. My year-at-a-glance horoscope for 2017 includes the phrase “happiness is an inside job” which… on the one hand: Duh. On the other hand: This suggests that I’ll be working on “How to get to Happy” for a little while longer. But there’s been movement. I feel like I’m part-way up the mountain and, while I’m not there yet, if I stop for a minute and take a damn breath, I can look behind me and see that I’ve actually gone a fair ways so far. This is good. I’m not quite at the Queen of Cups “end goal” of my project, more like a conscious embodiment of the Page of Cups while still trying to navigate the Knight of Cups‘ characteristics in a way that includes good boundaries and self-compassionate caution instead of EITHER “flinging myself off a cliff” (the eyes-wide-shut Relentless Hope that is sometimes part of the Three of Fire) in the name of “earning” the love and belonging one craves OR the kind of walled-up paranoia that can lead one to freezing everybody out and being lonely and hungry all the time (the emotional equivalent of the Four of Earth).
Fingers crossed that I can pull this off. ❤

New Year New You 2016: Weeks 14 & 15 – Searching for a Sign + One Small Step and Then One More

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “Now would be a good time to check in with your personal Powers That Be (PTB) about your goals. […] How do your PTB’s advice change your approach to your goals?” PLUS “We’ve spent a few more weeks thinking, planning, and doing magic. Now it’s time to return to the task at hand: doing the work necessary to accomplish our goals.”.
 
Tarot Cards: Eight of Vessels (Week 14) + Two of Earth (Week 15).
 
So. I spent the past month-and-a-bit avoiding my tarot cards. A mixture of being afraid of what they’d tell me and being afraid of how I’d mis/read things (the stories in our heads are frequently how we interpret readings for ourselves, and it’s easy to read worst-case scenarios AND wishful-thinking daydreams into what the cards have to say).
None the less, messages have a way of getting through.
A huge part of the Queen of Cups Project has been, basically, answering the question of “How do I get to Happy?” Miss Sugar talks, occasionally, about Radiomancy – the practice of seeing what pops up when you spin the dial, put your playlist on shuffle, or otherwise just see what songs are screaming at you from the airwaves.
I’ve been getting these two a lot. Plus this came across my desk this morning.
Gosh, do you think someone is trying to tell me something?
>.>
 
Yeah.
 
My Eight of Water story is, basically, “Gotta let this one go. No fixing it. Time to start again. Put your energy somewhere else” like, say, feeding your whale heart and nurturing relationships with people who actually care about you. Combine that with all the “Femme Emotional Labour” and “Trojan Horse Boundary Crossing” stories I’ve been getting linked to, of late (or, y’know, all freaking year…) and, yeah. The Eight of Blooms (top, right) is the pearl found (at last?) after going through a lot of oysters. All those discarded heart and vulva shapes ringing a treasure found by moonlight, by shining a light on all my old patterns and assumptions. The “rebirth” of the Eight of Vessels is a reminder that there will be other chances, that it’s hard to be happy when you’re fussing over every little thing in order to “make” yourself worthy in the eyes of someone who, when you get right down to it, messed with your head and took advantage of you, no matter how much of a compassionate lens you can view that through.
 
So that’s the information I’ve been getting.
 
How does that translate into One Small Thing I can do to push towards my goal?
My Queen of Cups goal has been to become more receptive, to understand that I’m actually loveable and worthy rather than just some fuck-up who has too much privilege and too much monster-brain to warrant being cared for without having to seriously earn that stuff. So…
I mentioned feeding my “whale heart”. That’s a Life Coaching thing, my “new Way of being/operating” that is self-compassionate, and doesn’t truck with people who won’t step up to meet her needs the way she steps up to meet theirs. The one small thing, the moment-to-moment practical thing I can do to feed my Whale Heart is to practice being kind to myself and doing what’s actually good for me.
Yes, it’s totally a challenge – I’m something of what Nydia Dauphin calls a “high functioning self-neglector”. Way more likely to make food if I’m feeding someone other than myself. Way more likely to swallow the worst of my feelings and focus on others than make them listen to me whine (uh… this entire blog notwithstanding…) – but it’s also necessary. So. Things I can do right now along those lines?
 
Start the latest batch of stock + process a bunch of sunchokes/as’kebwan’ for the freezer. This will make it easier for me to make meals later on.
 
Put dinner in the oven (I dug through my meat bin, in the freezer, and pulled out a tiny roast. This, with some sunchokes/as’kebwan’ will be a good start to dinner. I can throw in some frozen veggies or pickled beets and sour kraut (if they’re ready) for veggie content) and make myself Real Food instead snacking on crackers until my wife gets home to start cooking. It’s not quite making Real Food For Just Me, but it’s a step in that direction.
 
Bake something (probably soda bread and/or brownies using whey and/or Gone Off Milk). This will be creative, plus it will mean easy go-to food available for lunches and snacks over the next few days. It will also clean out the fridge a bit, which won’t hurt.
 
Do 10 minutes of yoga (child’s pose, plank, tree, warrior pose in one direction, Goddess pose, warrior pose in the opposite direction, downward dog, heart-melting pose, child’s pose again), possibly while humming. This will work my body, strengthen my arms and my core (good for my back), remind me to make music and let me move energy through my body.
 
Start anointing my heart chakra with “Unveiled” – a limited edition perfume/magical oil that Miss Sugar made, years ago – to help me see what I usually can’t/won’t see, the bad stuff I wish wasn’t there, but also the good stuff that I’m too prone to ignoring or refusing to allow in.
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Squash Moon Crests

It’s Saturday night and the moon is round. Most of my friends in Toronto are getting their velvet chokers on to watch the Drunk Feminist Films showing of The Craft (and I’m following it on twitter because, in spite of not having watched it in my teens, I still rather adore that movie and the general (and generally gothic) aesthetic of 1990s teen witchcraft).
The jerusalem artichokes are flowering, the squash (all two of them) are in, and I’ve bought four pie pumpkins with-which to make pumpkin butter. I am waiting for the as-yet-to-materialize (I don’t mind) frost to arrive. My wife and I have spent most of the day loafing around and just had late-night (for us) grilled cheese + tomato soup dinner. It’s a weird mix of “we have not gotten nearly enough done” and “oh, thank fuck” over here.
 
I’m having a serious surface-area problem in my kitchen. Most of the counter is covered in pumpkins and small appliances (and dirty dishes, but they are not a huge percentage of the stuff, unexpectedly), and my shelves are overflowing with preserves and kombucha (which is probably vinegar by now, but works quite nicely when cut with soda water – I’m wondering if I could tincture stuff in it for a way-less-alcoholic-than-vodka option… Hmmm…), also we brought the plants in, so the floor space is limited, too. O.O
 
I’m thinking about time.
About things ending.
About things NOT ending.
I’ve got maybe two more life coaching sessions left, and I feel like what I’ve tried to accomplish through them (a) is working, but (b) is not going to be anywhere near a done deal by the time my 37th birthday (and final coaching session) rolls around. I’ve got about eleven weeks before the end of 2016 (er… maybe ignore that if you freak about late-December stuff?), by-which-point I’d like to be done my New Year New You project for this round which… will be cutting it close, to say the least.
Autumn is the season for letting things go, but I’m watching myself dig my nails in deeper, dig my heels in elsewhere, hold things at arms’ length like “Why is this happening now?” Trying to discern what I actually want. Trying not to jump in too fast, make assumptions, or flee in terror over imaginary things.
 
Horoscope from Chani Nicholas is telling me that I need to focus on work – on the day-to-day of doing my “chores”, but also on The Work that I’ve been doing all year, and on “work” in the sense of “career” which, in my case, is probably modeling? That and/or working in my wife’s shop. Honestly, this particular topic (in a Jupiter Return year, no less) has always kind of baffled me? My “Year At A Glance” in the We’Moon calendar is all “What kind of wealth do you want to accumulate?” and I’m all “??? This is even a thing???” Second Chakra Stuff. I don’t even know. :-\
ANYWAY.
I am clearly done like dinner. Birthday party for a 71-year-old sky diver tomorrow.
 
Goodnight, kiddies.
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.
 
 
~*~
 
 
Motion: Lots of long (1hr) walks of late. Spent a week not doing Plank, and my back was Not Impressed so, lesson learned there. :-\
 
Attention: Reading “If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo. Trying to up my self-awareness game, notice and name my feeelings, try to spot my own repeating patterns before I get too sucked into them. Trying to notice it when I get Emotionally Stormy around self-inflicted feelings of obligation, so I can sort out where I need to draw a line or step myself back. It’s… sort of working so far?
 
Gratitude: Getting to sleep in late. Snuggling with my wife. Being taken out for a fancy dinner by someone cool. Friends getting good news. The chance to talk about symbolism and celery root (not of celery root, mind you, though maybe we could have?) with a (probably queer, probably femme) cashier at the grocery store this afternoon. My wife making sure we ate dinner, because sometimes I totally fall down on that front. Hot baths.
 
Inspiration: Femme Rage. No, seriously, that’s pretty much where it’s coming from right now.
 
Creation: Finished the pink shrug, finally, and even wore it out and about the other day. Beyond that, though, not feeling super creative right now.

New Year New You 2016: Week Twelve – Every Day You’re Hustling

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: This week is about putting your money where your mouth is. I want you to keep a daily journal. In it, talk about what you’ve done that day to accomplish your goal(s).
 
Tarot Card: Eight of Disks. This one was a bit of a no-brainer. The Eight of Earth is all about the daily grind, about getting it done, day in and day out, about the dilligence it takes to stick to a task until you get good at it (practice, practice, practice), which is what this week’s prompt is about. In the Wooden Tarot, the Eight of Bones is a spine, calling up both “put your back into it” and “don’t chicken out (don’t be spine-less)”, which touch on this week’s prompt while also acknowledging the “continuing in spite of your fears and doubts” elelments of Week Eleven.
 
But here’s a thing. In the collective tarot, whose suit of earth is also called Bones, the Eight of Bones is a ribcage, with a crysalys at its heart.
 

Eight of Bones - Collective Tarot A ribcage with eight ribs.  There is a crysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart.  Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.

Eight of Bones – Collective Tarot
A ribcage with eight ribs. There is a crysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart. Above the crysalys hangs the figure-8 of the infinity symbol, echoing the transformative potential of The Magician in the Major Arcana. Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.


 
That’s what the daily grind, the dedication, will get you. Personal evolution. Personal transformation.
 
Every time I (grudgingly) do plank to build my core-strength and literaly take the pressure off my spine; every time I pause to check in with my body, to see what feels good, to see what feels at all; every time I answer my journaling questions for Life Coaching; every time I push myself to stay with hope (which is so, so scary)… every time I do any of that, I’m letting the crysalys around my heart get a little more mature, I’m letting my internal changes move a little farther on the journey from where I was to where I want to be.
 
Miss Sugar asks:

Have you made you an option instead of a priority?

 
This isn’t easy.
 
Taking time out for myself – when my whole life feels like “free time” half the time, when I get so angry at myself for still being a tumult of anxiety[1] in spite of having rigged my life so that I mostly don’t have to deal things that are uncomfortably beyond my control[2] – it feels like… It feels like “Gods, Meliad, do you have to baby yourself even more than you already do???”
 
But the whole point of my Queen of Cups Project is to be more capable of receoptivity, of accepting kindness, pleasure, care, Good Things, into my life and my body without getting all freaked out about it. To be able to receive, as well as give, with an open heart (and open legs). To be able to trust instead of self-sabotaging thanks to my insecurities. To be able to trust realistically and with good boundaries rather than flinging myself off a cliff, so to speak, and hoping my reckless trust will prove I’m worthy of not shattering on the rocks.
… And doing that means I have to be able – be willing and able – to be good to myself, to be trust-worthy to myself, to follow-through with, and take care of, my Self.
 
So. If you’ll excuse me, I have Exercises I need to work through, and salsa I need to finish canning.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Fun Fact: There is a farely good chance that I have “generalized anxiety disorder”, and have had it since childhood! I’m not looking to get a diagnosis, since meds are probably not the way to go here, but having that “Oh… that explains a lot…” moment after self-diagnostic test #3 came up with the same result, plus having a better idea of which strategies and techniques for managing this stuff are most likely to work? It’s been a big help.
 
[2] I work from home, I work with my wife, I do an outside-the-house job that I’m extremely good at and valued for. I may be broke all the time, but I’m also able to keep us somewhat-creatively fed on limited cash. I know how to rig the odds and ask for advice/information from My People through tarot, I put effort into maintaining the relationships I have with my awesome, reliable friends whom I can count on, I live down town so that I can walk everywhere, and can’t use “But… transit…” as an excuse not to leave the house and try new things, etc, etc…

New Year New You 2016: Week Eight – Shoulder to the Wheel

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “What’s the hardest thing for you to do? What do you keep putting off? Do it now. Grit your teeth and push, baby. You’re making something beautiful, don’t stop now. Show the universe what kind of wonders you’re capable of this week.”
 
Tarot Card: Two of Cups.
Maybe it’s telling that I’m chosing a “feelings” card rather than a “passions” card for this entry. I almost wanted to choose the Six of Cups – for a lot of reasons, including the generocity & reunion aspects of it, but also the more bitter, painful aspects (naivete, being out of your depth) – but felt like that would be setting myself up for failure.
In the Wildwood deck, this card is “Attraction“, and sticks with a fairly traditional meaning for this card (which is sort of “The Lovers” Lite, if you want to put it that way). In the Osho Zen deck, on the other hand, it’s “Friendliness” (an image that calls up that “grow not in each other’s shadow” quote from The Prophet, at least for me), which is also accurate, but less typical (I find). Either way, this card tends to mean “starting over” – sometimes that means “starting over with someone new”, and other times it means “reconciliation” or a change in the way two(?) people relate to each other. I think it can sometimes mean “enfatuation” or “NRE” as well, but I’d need to look into it a little more. Regardless, it’s sometimes characterized as a “passive” card, or a card whose indications hinge a LOT on context which… feels appropriate for this week’s prompt.
 
Thoughts:
Way back in Week Two, I talked about how “It’s hard to think of ‘receiving’ as something I can initiate”. And it still is. (And I also kind of am falling down that whole Second Chakra Energy money-and-sex rabbit hole, even if I’ve mostly staved it off for the past while). I touched on this feeling in Week Three, as well, when I talked about how being “proactively receptive” would involve being both More Trusting and More Vulnerable (which worked out so well…), and now I’m here, and this week’s prompt is asking me to do the Hard Thing that I’ve been putting off.
 
The first time I looked at the Osho Zen depiction of the Queen of Cups (Receptivity), what I saw in her double-helix-stemmed lotus blossom body was the Chalace (Brittish Traditional Wiccan style, in case you missed the metaphor). I keep thinking about the message to Slow Down from back in early April, and about not being as in my body as I thought I was and, maybe it’s because of the afore-mentioned sex-and-money rabbit hole, but I kind of feel like the Hard Thing I’ve been putting off is sex, specifically bottoming in sexual situations. (It’s something I can do, and something that I can enjoy a LOT… but I’m also really out of practice, and the last few times I’ve tried it, things have not ended well. I’ve wound up clinging to my various partners asking them over and over “Are you safe? Are you okay?” – a dissociative Thing where it’s pretty easy to spot what I’m really asking. FML.
And I’m fucking tired of it!
 
So I did a Hard Thing the other night, and asked for something specific from someone specific. And the someone specific said Yes.
 
Which you’d think would have been it for the hard part, but you would be wrong!
Turns out, there’s a whole other Hard Part that I didn’t even know was there!
 
So. Working this out:
Brené Brown writes (in The Gifts of Imperfection, iirc) that Joy is one of the most vulnerable feelings out there, and that because of this, people (i.e.: ME) are quick to numb out joy with things like Preemptive Tragedy or by setting up a permanent campsite in the Slaugh of Despond (perpetual, pre-emptive disappointment).
 
Slogging through the internal landscape of what I think I am, and am not, Supposed To feel – I’m not supposed to want things OR I’m supposed to “want things” but only in-so-far as I’m able to psychically predict what other people want to me to want, which I an then present to them like it was all my idea OR Wanting specific things is greedy, and makes you a burden/bother, and you should know better than to be like that OR You can WANT things all you like, but actually ASKING for them is heaping social pressure on someone else to do what you want, whether they want to or not, so you might as well just tattoo “rapist” on your forehead and get it over with, you horrible, horrible, self-centred, demanding jerk… You get the idea. Slogging through that stuff is hard. Getting the words out of my mouth is hard. But, for me at least (and in a situation where there was at least a 50% chance of getting a Yes in the first place), it was even harder to get through what came after.
 
The Hard Thing, it turns out, is stopping myself from slamming my own fist down on hope and joy by telling myself All The Stories – stories like “They’re just saying yes to be ‘nice’ to you, they don’t really want to do this and you should just let them off the hook before you screw this up even worse” OR “Okay, you’ve asked, and they’ve said yes. Now what happens if you freeze up and reneg on the deal? What happens then, huh? You’ll have Led Them On and then Let Them Down, that’s what! Maybe you should just call the whole thing off before you screw this up even worse”.
 
The hard part is staying open, and it took recognizing the feeling as one I’d had before (over a year ago actually, back when C first said they were interested in me and I spent a train-ride home from Toronto wanting to sob my eyes out because I was so full of hope that was trying so hard to turn into despair) for me to figure out what was happening.
Maybe if (when?) I feel that feeling again, I’ll be able to recognize it and tell myself: “Wait! This isn’t something that you have to squash! Stay hopeful! Stay open! This is already going somewhere good!”
 
Staying open felt like being filled up to overflowing (with something really positive), feeling a little overwhelmed and like I needed to dial things back or else Something Would Go Wrong… But it didn’t, in and of itself, feel bad. And staying emotionally open had some er… pleasant side-effects on the physical front? Yay? 🙂
 
I think that feeling – brim-full and possibly overflowing, but able to accept that more is coming – is the Queen of Cups Feeling.
 
I read something in Healing Sex (which I’d forgotten I’d bought years ago and in-which I’d already made a bunch of notes) the other day, about how as you push through barriers, you are going to feel all the uncomfortable, crappy feelings all over again, and you’re going to have to figure out which of those uncomfortable (emotional and/or phsyical) sensations are crappy-and-triggering because you don’t like them, versus which ones are uncomfortable but actually okay (like: If you try to stop yourself from getting turned on because of bad experiences or feelings around getting turned on during a Bad Situation, it’s okay to continue with a Good Situation, even if you are trying not to get turned on, and you might be able to let yourself get turned on in those Good Situations eventually). This reminds me a little of that.
 
Learning (or remembering?) how to discern which Intense Feelings mean “stop” versus which ones mean “keep going”, rather than treating all of them as “This is Too Intense! ACK!” is… kind of a big deal? I feel kind of like I’ve had a penny-drop moment, albeit probably one that’s going to involve a lot of practicing before it becomes something I can do without having to talk myself thorugh it on a concious level. (Although talking myself through “stay hopeful, stay open” in the emotional sense is actually a mega-tonne easier than talking myself through “stay in your body, don’t over-think everything” in the physical sense has ever, ever been, possibly for obivous reasons).
 
I have a chunk of rose quartz tucked into my bra, near my heart. I have Plans for this, but one of them is a little bit of self-glamoury to keep some love-for-me close at hand when I need it.
Touching on the Two of Cups again, the Mary-El version, as Beth Maiden puts it, depicts the “[…J]oy of emotional connection, the sublimity of blending energies[…]”. Of offering and accepting and receiving and offering back; of feeding each other.
I want to do this with my partner(s).
I want to build on this and keep opening.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad.

New Year New You 2016: Week Seven – Glamour and You

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!

Instructions: “Think about how you’re presenting yourself to the world and how that’s affecting your own personal goals. […] Give your physicals selves some love and magic this week!”

Tarot Card: Seven of Swords. Both the Wildwood and the Osho Zen decks are applicable in this case.

Thoughts:
I’ve never known the seven of swords to be a positive card. Even when the interpretation is a good idea (It’s time to take the mask off! It’s okay to stop maintaining and fall apart right now. I know you’re worried about What People Will Think, but you really are Enough in spite of those fears), the actual process of showing people one’s Real Face can be terrifying (and can sometimes backfire). Yet, sometimes, what it points to (e.g.: in a reversed position) is the need to break old habits, break silences, break out of self-imposed prisons of Shoulds and Musts.
I was yacking with a friend about this a few months ago, and it seems to fit here pretty well: A lot of us learn to keep ourselves small as a defence tactic. If you are a woman on the internet (even a white, cis woman such as myself), you learn pretty early how many readers it takes to start getting unwanted, threatening attention from trolls. If you’re a woman who ever leaves her home, the same goes for when you’re walking downt he street.
There’s a zillion people (of a very specific gender, most of the time) who would love to police us back into silence and invisibility, and a lot of us balance on a thread between “too visible” and “straight-up hiding”.
The thought of being Visible, of being Big, can be really frightening, whether we’re worried about being attacked by trolls, cat-callers, or The Fraud Police, and it can be exhausting to deal with.

Presenting yourself in a way that shows you in your best light, as your best self, can be exhausting.

I went to a book launch a couple of weekends ago. I went to the Gorgeous House in the Country (a luxury home built inside a reclaimed barn – for real. I want to live there when I grow up) book launch of a femme-lookin’ (I say, because I don’t actually know if she’d ID as femme) lesbian writer’s new novel. Her sculptor-painter partner was decked out in a Nice Suit at the merch table, and she was all dolled up in a shiny gold blouse signing everyone’s new books. My wife and her other partner (through-whom we know this couple) both talked about feeling out of place at the party. Even though, as creative dykes in the 40-75 age bracket, they were even more among their peers than I was.
But I swanned in there like I owned the place, because I’m a queer femme writer (in a raspberry faux-fur 3/4-sleeve coat, a leopard-print skirt, fancy stockings – that the woman who turned-out-to-be-a-publisher noticed and complimented me on, no less – huge, diva sunglasses and hot pink lipstick… I was flagging pretty hard, kids) so how could I not fit in?
… And it worked.

I mean, right up until I found out that the nice queer-poetry-chick I’d been politely down-playing my writing work to (my wife had been chatting her up, but I hadn’t wanted to hog the spot-light while talking to another writer who probably wanted to talk up her projects as well) was, um… the publisher of our friend’s novel.
Oh.
That was supposed to be an elevator pitch, was it?
Woops.

We’ll see what, if anything, comes of that interaction, but it was an introduction regardless.

A while back, I wrote a little bit about how Glamour is feeling hard right now. We’re in “transitional shoes season” in these parts, the point in the year where you really do still need close-toed shoes, but winter boots are definitely too warm (and clumpy) to deal with anymore. My “tranisitional” boots are all in a bad state of disrepair and, while I can and do make them work, they’re bad enough that it’s hard to make them look “street chic” (or whatever you want to call it when fancy fashion starts riffing on a ratty punk look) at this point. I’d love to get (or more likely make – this is one of the reasons I keep a shoe-maker on staff, after all) a few pairs of shoes like this so that I have Options that won’t wreck my back and can look “professional” (in the office work sense of the word) while also looking artsy-funky-weirdo (I.E.: actually like myself) at the same time.

But the reality is that this isn’t really about shoes. It’s about how I feel about myself.
When I regret the haircut I gave myself (even though I now look great with my hair down), but I can’t tell how much of that regret is because I feel like a total grease-ball when my hair is hanging in my face, vs how much is because I miss having the option of doing funky anime buns and being able to do this without too much trouble, vs how much is just missing that which is easy and familiar… What do I even do with that? But when I catch myself feeling “frumpy” in a skirt I picked out, gleefully, from the clothing swap heap because it would finally let me wear leopard print on something other than lingerie, that I stitched a new lining into and replaced the zipper on because I had wanted a skirt like this for so long… That’s a bad sign, folks.

If my personal goal, my Queen of Cups Project, is to be more receptive to all the Good Things that come my way, I need to believe that I’m worthy of receiving that stuff. Feeling ugly[1], unworthy of notice, or unable to keep it together (says the chick who discovered she’d spilled… hollondaise sauce?… on her skirt mid-way through her work-day and is expecting Company tonight while still having an entire kitchen full of dirty dishes to deal with)… does not inspire feelings of worthiness in me about myself.

So. How am I handling this week’s prompt?
Well, my office-contract recently ended. So I’m back in the land of “wear whatever you want” (hurrah!) and I’m aiming for a mix of “ultra casual” (like, skirts made out of former-pairs-of-pants, very colourful socks) and “Fabulous Bohemian” (diva sunglasses, faux fur 3/4 sleeve coat, Fierce hair-do – or lack of ‘do, since it basically means just leaving it down – and cute boots). I finally shaved my legs. A friend painted my toenails yesterday. I’m feeling pretty good, even if my heart is still yoyo-ing up and down and my feelings of self-worth are following suit on a rollercoaster of their own.

Things I can do (concrete/mundane things I can do) to show my physical self some love (this week, and all weeks) that will also (probably) help my mood and energy levels:
1) Get dolled up and go for a walk
2) Sit in the steam room of the local pool while wearing my bikini and soaking up the heat
3) Eat fancy pastries, ideally with friends (but this is not a requirement), while out and about
… So, basically, dress spiffy and get out of the house.
I can do that.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Say what you want about The Beauty Myth, it’s insidious and fuck.

New Year New You 2016: Week Six – Maps (Wait, They Don’t Love You Like I Love You)

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “[G]o some place that is sacred to you and to use the experience to guide you in your work[…]”
 
Tarot Card: Ten of Cups + Knight of Earth (specifically the one from my Osho Zen deck, called “Slowing Down“, though the Wildwood’s Knight of Stones has some personal relevance as well).
 
Thoughts:
So, it’s been over two months since I did the previous prompt for the NYNY Experiment. Put that down to trying to regain some equilibrium after waiting to see how the cards would fall out.
Ha. On that note: Trying to do tarot readings when you have exactly one thing on your mind? Is simultaneously devastatingly accurate (whether you like it or not), AND massively annoying because you can’t get information on anything else.
Eugh.
 
But I’m back!
 
So. Most of my sacred places are inside my home. They’re my kitchen, my altar, my garden, my couch and my tiny dining table (especially when I’ve got people over who I can feed). But I’ve been feeling weirdly (or maybe not-so-weridly, what with Winter’s Last Hurrah having hit but a few days ago[1]) stuck when inside my home of late, so I was hesitant to try and trance out while chopping beets in the kitchen (for example – though it works quite well with apples, as long as you don’t lop off a finger in the process). All that being said, I did keep my eyes and ears open to see what would pop up and… I got something. I wrote about it a little bit in my most recent lunar post, but the majority of this message came, not from my home-base, but from my extended leather family at Queering Power.
 
The message was: SLOW DOWN!
 
Not “slow down” in the frantic, you-are-about-to-drive-off-a-cliff sense of the word, but “Slow Down” in the sense of:
When you are Triggered (yes, I’m talking about PTSD), everything starts to rush.
When you’re drowning in shame, you run around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to “justify your existence”, when you need no justification, you just need to BE.
When you are in that spiral of “I am Too Much” (too demanding, too slow, too needy, too big, too complicated… you name it), you tell yourself that you must rush through things for the benefit of someone else – don’t tell the whole story, don’t savour that meal, don’t sink into exactly as long as it takes you to get turned on, get into it, get off – instead of being really present, really authentic, really enjoying life’s pleasures.
When you are freaking out and trying to numb yourself, you rush through experiences without really experiencing them – eat a chocolate without even tasting it, skim a poem and feel frustrated by the (unfindable, in this state) meaning you didn’t give yourself time to catch.
When you are frantic, you make decisions that hurt people you care for, and also that hurt yourself (whether you are able to care for yourself in those moments or not).
 
So that’s the big one.
The thing is, it’s not the only one.
Possibly because all the Brene Brown I’ve been reading has been bringing home what Glamour is really about (not what I would have expected), and possibly because Glamour has been feeling kind of hard for me lately, I’ve caught myself thinking a lot about Miss Sugar’s Glamour Pop Quiz questions, particularly the one about What You Really, Really Want, and… what I really want, when I think about it – what this whole Queen of Cups project is supposed to allow me to access – is this. Nothing more, and nothing less, than the Happiness & Home embodied by the Ten of Cups.
 
When it first came to me, I sneared.
 
Really, Meliad? Happiness?? Is that all?
 
Shouldn’t I have been more ambitious? Isn’t wanting a steady, caring home, and a big, queer, chosen family to love and be loved by… isn’t that Not Much At All?
And then I thought: Am I greedy, to want so much? Is it too much to ask that my heart overflow with love and joy instead of sadness and yearning?
 
And then I had a dream.
I dreamed a house that was a weird combination of the house I once owned, a house I didn’t rent when I was in my 20s, the trailer-park home of a friend’s mom near Quebec City where I was made so welcome, the imagined architectural layout of The Cloud Club[2], my ex-partner’s apartment, and the second-floor walk-up of the Toronto friends who played host to me at the end of March and who have a huge, old, fruitful pear tree growing next to their balcony.
I dreamed this house, with the backyard I have now, and the neighbours I have now, except that the hella-gardening Vietnamese lady now looked suspiciously like Shine Louise Houston[3].
I dreamed this house with potted plants outside the balcony door, and garden ready to grow its next season of fruits and veggies. I dreamed my wife and I joking together while getting the balcony in shape. I dreamed C holed up in a messy nest of a room, healing and feeling safe and still part of my heart’s family. I dreamed a friend of my neighbour (she looked like Snow White, if Snow White had the kind of hips and ass normally associated with Fertility Goddesses and the kind of asymetrical bob currently associated with queers of a whole slew of genders) flirting with me, calling me “Hey femme,” and telling me she liked my legs.
I dreamed love and hope. I dreamed relationships that last. I dreamed joy in ordinary moments. I dreamed fruitfulness and abundance and having Enough, feeling Enough. Not Hungry. And not Overwhelming.
I woke up and knew that this was plenty “good enough” to be a Great Work. I woke up and knew it was not Too Much to ask.
 
~*~
 
So thats what my sacred spaces have had to tell me.
Onwards and upwards, campers!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Today, on the other hand, the sun is out, the snow is pretty-much GONE, the crocuses are blooming, and the leaves are starting to stretch and open up. My rhubarb survived the winter! (At least one did – we’ll see about the other two, which got planted waaaaaaaaay later and may not have got themselves established before the cold hit for real). So things are looking up. 🙂
 
[2] Where Amanda Palmer lives, fyi.
 
[3] Yes, the Shine who runs Pink and White Productions.

Full Moon – Ice Moon Crests

The past few days, it’s been warm enough that it rained (rained!) for two days straight, and walking anywhere required rubber boots and careful navigation over icy sidewalks – and roads – covered in four inches of cold water. The temperature dropped overnight, and the sidewalks were thick with (thankfully-rough-and-choppy) ice this morning. Ice Moon, indeed.
Outside, a flock of starlings are eating the offering bread I put out a week ago. Inside, the house looks a bit like it exploded (we emptied our storage locker, but all that means is that the various boxes and other Things that we’d kept outside of the house are now stacked in my front room and partialy unpacked). This past week, I’ve been (avoiding further unpacking by) reading a lot of Brené Brown. You know, the TED Talk woman who researches shame and vulnerability? Her stuff. Like, all of her stuff. It’s astonishing how much what she’s saying about vulnerability relates to what Miss Sugar says about how glamour works. The courage to show up and be seen.
It’s blowing my little mind, I tell you.
 
At the beginning of this lunar cycle, I asked myself:
What do I need to firm up?
Where do I need more flow?

 
I… have no idea.
Sometimes, when I write my lunar cycle posts, I try to come up with questions to get me (and anyone else who feels like it) thinking along lines that are thematically related to the time of year. In another six weeks, I’ll be asking myself (here or elsewhere) what needs to be cleaned out of my literal and metaphorical pantries to make room for newer, fresher things to come.
 
As far as “flow” goes… I’m sticking with those self-help books I picked up and recognizing that I’m going to have to get… used to, if not comfortable with, uncertainty. That’s flow. Needing to be able to roll with sudden changes-of-plan without taking 24 hours to freak right out about it before that can happen. That’s flow. That’s the Ace of Water and the Two of Earth. Figuring it out, moment to moment, and being willing to go with the flow rather than panicking (and potentially drowning because of it).
 
As far as firming things up go… What am I committing to? Like, really, not just lip-service. Part of why I’m reading the entire Brené Brown oeuvre right now is because all that “daring greatly” and “rising strong” stuff is pretty relevant to my Queen of Cups Project (still going, even if it’s taken a bit of a detour in terms of keeping up with my NYNY posts). And part of it is because it’s relelvant to a couple of books I want to write. I’m taking another stab at The Novel, and I’m working on the outline and content (and research) for a Relationships Book for polyamourous folks. So what I’m committing to, other than getting my own head-and-heart in slightly more reliable working order, is getting back in the saddle for Draft WhateverTheFuck of my novel (maybe I’ll actually get it all the way done this time?) and sorting out the preliminaries for the Relationships Book.
 
Something from The Gifts of Imperfection is the idea (or data-based argument, or whatever) that in order to be open to joy, you have to practice gratitude, and that – kind of the same way that trying to see someone else’s PoV by practicing empathy will also help you to be less afraid of them and less ashamed of (yourself for) the fear that is starting to quiet down – focusing on something (related to the Scary Thing) that you are greatful for can help make Vulnerable Moments feel less like something you have to flight/fight/freeze about and more like something you can lean into and deal with (hopefully) without screwing it up. So, I’m poking at this, at Miss Sugar’s Glad Game, at my friend Talia’s “two good things for today” practice, and other stuff that various people in my life do to refocus on what’s going well and making them happy in their lives. So here’s mine (WHY YES, IT’S TOTALLY AN ACRONYM, BECAUSE I’M LIKE THAT SOMETIMES):
 
Motion: I modeled today (which is sort of the opposite of motion, but is definitely engaging with my body), and then walked home (about an hour, into some seriously bitter winds for the last 15 minutes or so). Glad to be warm and inside!
Attention: I’m thinking a LOT about (go figure) shame and vulnerability, how all those FEELINGS that I’d been understanding as anxiety might actually have been “shame storms”, and how… that explains things a little more fully. It’s another piece of the puzzle of my own brain, at any rate.
Gratitude: My awesome wife got my Walking Wheel working last night. She made me a spindle (that you could totally gash yourself on, if you’re not careful – Sleeping Beauty may have been a cautionary tale about running in the house…) and fixed the accelerating head. It looks fantastic, and it works – even if it does take two of us to work it right now (I don’t really know how to do this yet…). Excited to practice and get things up to speed, though I suspect there will be a significant learning curve involved.
Inspiration: Inspired by how narrative is built into our DNA, and (finally) learning what “Act Two” in a story is actually for. (This is what has given me the go-ahead to pick up the novel again – I know what needs to underpin the stuff that’s happening and the decisions my MC is making. Woohoo!!!)
Creation: Books, yes. However slowly. And wheel-spun yarn, ditto, however slowly. But right now I’m in the middle of (and excited about) knitting a shrug (in the round), and using new (to me) stitch patterns to do it. I love the way the texture of the fabric changes depending on the stitches you use (knitting in the round looks very different from knit-one-direction-perl-back-the-other-way, and I find it just fascinating… I’m easily ammused. 😉 )