Grackle Heart

Photo by Cassie Burke on Unsplash

Grackle Heart

Somewhere between my throat
and sit bones
there are questions
fluttering, beating
like jewelled black wings.

When did my ribs become a cage?
When did I swallow the key?
Where’s the lock? What are the answers?

It’s all on the tip of my tongue
but I can’t find my voice either.

Not today.

Every enchantment
I’ve come to count on –
roosting grackles,
groves of alder,
the light in my own eyes
at sun rise & set,
magentapurpleindigo skies,
that song, all the songs

are all locked up here
in this cave of bone
and all that’s left to do now
is wonder
when I’ll hear the door open,
feel that rusty hinge sing
in my ears,

wonder when
if ever,
I will get to
fly home
at last.

Effy Bird Wild

Stalking Beauty

I. I wrapped myself in fleece for a nap while it poured down rain. The sound of it on the skylight. The thunder. It made me ridiculously happy to be cosy and warm with the dogs flanking me like watchers, one on either side.

Little beauties.

II. My low back is not pleased with me since I’ve been opting to do all computer-related activities from the divan instead of my office chair, but it’s autumn, and my body wants to be tucked in with fleece and dogs and candles and tea and fingerless gloves and not sitting upright in an office chair. I’m popping Robax and telling my back I’ll give it yoga. Maybe. If it behaves.

P.S. I’ll probably never give it yoga. 

III. I’m still giggling over “Chapter 52” and how apt it is and how people on Instagram thought I was declaring actual bankruptcy because no one clicks through on Instagram, so they just got the blurb about how bankruptcy gets us free.

It’s okay, though. I don’t mind, because there are people for whom an actual bankruptcy is a source of shame and if I eased that even a little bit, I’m glad. There’s no shame in admitting that capitalism fucked you and you did what you could to get free.

Always do what you can to get free. 

IV. I am slathered in Vicks Vapo Rub because I find the sensation and scent comforting and I haven’t hugged a human since Monday and that’s a long time to go without a human hug. The only downside to the comfort of Vicks Vapo Rub is that the dogs abhor it, so I don’t get canine hugs while I’m slathered in it. They’ll come over for some love and then give me this shocked, indignant look, and then back off like I’m toxic. I’ll wash it off before I attempt sleep tonight, though, so they will forgive me and take their places flanking me on either side like watchers.

V. “How’s your pandemic?”

I am growing to fucking hate this question.

My pandemic is like the rest of 2020 has been. It’s a fucking dumpster fire. It is raging. It stinks.

VI. So I stalk beauty like my life depends on it because it does. 

VII. Billie Eilish concert tomorrow, live-streamed into my livingroom. My youngest and her bestie will be there, too, and even though they’re in Alberta and I’m in Ontario, it feels like we’ll be together and that works for me.

Also Bilie Eilish on Carpool Karaoke is the cutest thing ever.

VIII. Like I said. I’m stalking beauty.

IX. Beauties, even if Sookie does need grooming and they’re both disgusted with me because I’m slathered in Vicks. 

X. This is my second ten things today. I did my first ten things for Isabel’s writing sanctuary, and it felt so good to have a safe, private space to write in, so I am, as ever, grateful to Isabel and her offerings. My cowriters in sanctuary never fail to move and inspire me.

XI. There might be a drive-in movie in my future. Yes, this is #11. I’m a rebel.




I Have Always Been A Storm

I. It didn’t even occur to me when I named my last blog “Chapter 52” that it is a phrase that also means bankrupt. I have to tell you, I like it even more now. Let me tell you why.

The experience of the last 2 years did bankrupt me in a sense. The love and then the loss. The growing trust and then trust’s betrayal. The way you opened Pandora’s Box of Trauma and then left me holding the bag. The way I lived so far out of alignment with my own integrity that I grew to despise myself all for the love of you. The way I made decisions to move *us* close to some dream I was having that was not a shared dream at all, but rather, a rusty hook meant to keep me in place because I made you happy where I was. The way those decisions *left me in ruins*. The way I made space, always made space, and the way that space remained empty. The way it impacted my relationship with my children – their loss of respect for me, and the ultimate rupture that left me bereft and grieving their loss on top of your loss. The money I threw at everything that I should have been putting into a retirement savings program. The sleep I lost. The tears I shed. The brokenness of it all. The mess you went and left. 

Bankruptcy is an apt word.

But on the other side of bankruptcy is this: you cut your losses, and you get free. Yes, you have to start over. Yes, you have to assess the damage and begin to rebuild from the rubble, but you *do get free*.

So Chapter 52 it is.

II. This song on repeat because it is my new #autobiography. I have always been the storm.

Every night that goes between
I feel a little less
As you slowly go away from me
This is only another test
Every night you do not come
Your softness fades away
Did I ever really care that much?
Is there anything left to say?

Every hour of fear I spend
My body tries to cry
Living through each empty night
A deadly calm inside
I haven’t felt this way I feel
Since many a years ago
But in those years are the lifetime’s past
I did not deal with the road
And I did not deal with you I know
Though the love has always been
So I search to find an answer there
So I can truly win

Every hour of fear I spend
My body tries to cry
Living through each empty night
A deadly calm inside
So I try to say good-bye my friend
I’d like to leave you with something more
But never have been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm

Always been a storm
Ooh, always been a storm
I have always been a storm

III. There is a bouquet of flowers waiting on my countertop to be put into a vase. I bought them for myself.

IV. I was thinking about inviting myself over to someone’s house tonight. He’s expressed some interest, and I have a live-streamed Pearl Jam concert to share. It could have been fun, but when I checked in with my body about it, my heart went all OH FUCK NO YOU WILL NOT DO THAT so I decided against it. I decided, instead, to clean the apartment, do the dishes, light the candles, turn on the twinkly lights, have a soak in the tub with bubbles, music, and a glass of wine, just like I might do if I were preparing for your arrival. I will do some skincare. I will scrub myself shiny. I will get out and put on a bit of a face and don a pretty (but comfy) dress. I will throw myself onto the made up divan with the dogs and yet more wine, and I will make the night my own.

I won’t shave my legs though. If I’m being honest, I may never shave my legs again.

V. I love myself fiercely right now. It is showing up in my selfies.

VI. If you mix mayonnaise, dijon mustard, fresh thyme, demi-glace and a little cream together in a bowl and then whisk it into a pan of fond from cooking a thick cut porkchop, you get a fucking amazing pan sauce. I fed myself that yesterday (with butter-basted green beans), and I saved enough for tonight so I do not have to cook.

VII. I went window shopping today because Instacart now delivers Indigo products (so, like, books, planners, ‘lifestyle items’ like mugs and candles and bath salts and lip balm), and I bought *nothing*. Because I literally have everything I want right now. This felt really good.

VIII. I bought myself a new Alexa, though, because I got really tired of all the bassy buzz that the old one was doing. It arrived today. Huzzah!

IX. I also went full-on Stevie in a shopping spree at Holy Clothing. There are chemises and corset-style dresses and maxi skirts and other things that will make me want to twirl on their way to my house, because COVID will end at some point, and I will want to wear things that make me want to twirl.

X. Every day, I slay the list, and that feels really good. I will survive. I am surviving.

I will thrive.


Chapter 52

I. Virtual Harvestfest was beautiful and everything I needed it to be. It was so good to see the faces of my fest fam, even if only over Zoom. I spent the weekend in the cradle of the kind of love you can never lose, and I experienced some deep, deep healing. Clawed this thing I do every year, year after year, out of the jaws of ‘ours’ and back into the firm grasp of ‘mine’.

The process I used to create my effigy was an accidental hit, and I’ll probably be teaching it as a workshop in future iterations of Harvestfest. Here’s what I did.

Using natural pigments wherever possible, I created a two-sided painting – one to represent the ‘harvest’ side, and one that looked forward to the future.

Then, I wrote out everything I am grateful for on the Harvest side and everything I wish for or intend for my future on the other side. To protect my privacy, I ran the handwriting together, leaving no spaces between the words. This is a nice way to journal when you want the writing to be visible without necessarily being legible.

I used a paper cutter (Fiskars) to cut the sheet of watercolour paper into strips (long side).

I put some resins (myrrh, dragon’s blood, frankincense, and a little nugget of green stuff (because the King deserves a little green stuff!) in a tissue, formed it into a ball, and then wrapped it with lengths of the strips of paper, weaving it in as I went. I added arms and legs in the same manner until my effigy looked like an effigy.

On Sunday, Kimi, Lee, Alli, Mac and I all got together in Kimi’s backyard with our BRAND NEW FIRE BOWL YEAH! Kimi set it up so we’d have shelter (it was going to rain) and we plugged in my laptop and signed in for the annual Corn King Ritual over Zoom.

It was gorgeous. Everyone had their own effigies, and burned or buried them according to what their land required (some of us tuned in from areas where there were fire bans and burying seemed a better option).

I doused my King in pomegranate juice (squeezed from an actual pomegranate in a very dramatically bloody moment), and sprinkled Kimi’s gorgeous incense allllll over him before he met his destiny in the flames.

It wasn’t quite as spectacular as this:

But it was somehow even more intimate, more sacred than any other Corn King Ritual I’ve ever attended.

Something about how we have adapted and overcome. Something about how resilient we all are in the face of the challenges we are currently facing. Something about how my heart is still beating, still open, still full of love.

Something about taking it back, and making it my own.

I sent up a prayer that we would all meet again this time next year, and I felt that go up with the flames.

II. I’m doing a lot better than I was. I’ve refocused. I’m working hard. I’m moving through my days and nights with faith in my own ability to put one foot in front of the other. I am *very happy alone* right now. Very. I am loving my space and my solitude.

I am writing. I am healing. I am dreaming.

III. I’m worthy of devotion. I’m holding out for that.

IV. Many revelations lately that seem to be creating massive shifts in understanding and behaviour.

V. Therapy is worth it.

VI. I love my life.

VII. I miss you but I did the right thing…

VIII. …because I missed myself more, and I’ve got myself back.

IX. A chapter is over. A new one has begun.

X. We’re calling this one “52” because I choose me, now.

Into The Fire – Harvestfest Weekend!

I. Therapy yesterday. I was having feels about how it seems my life has gone to hell in a handbasket in the years since I’ve been doing all this inner work. The losses I’ve experienced are staggering, and the grief is intense, and I’ve been hitting a wall lately. What’s the point? If therapy is going to lead to *waves at all of this*, what exactly is the goddamned point? But…when we talked it through – the timeline, the new boundaries, the way I am aligning myself with my own best interests, the way I have stopped fawning, the way I hold feet to the fire when promises are being broken, the way I’ve built this business, the way I’ve survived SIX MOVES IN SIX YEARS, the way I have managed to keep body and soul together through some of the most traumatic experiences a person can have…

…I don’t know what life will look like on the other side of all of this unravelling, but I suspect it will be worth it.

*Mumbles that it better be*

II. Harvestfest is virtual this year, and while the whole thing is making me pretty tender (we pinky swore we’d always have Harvest, he and I, and so much of our love story played out under the stars around that annual fire) I am *really* looking forward to seeing some beloved faces.

The temptation to avoid all things that remind me of him is powerful, but my therapist has encouraged me to let myself have the memories – the good ones, the bad ones – just have them and feel them through. Apparently, this is the way to get through heartbreak like this, so okay, fine. I’m going to Harvestfest!

The event runs on Zoom starting tonight and culminates in the Corn King Ritual on Sunday night. I’m hoping Kimi and I have a fire bowl ready at her place to hang out around. I will get some Fireball. I’ll have my laptop so we can Zoom in and see our fest family. We will have quiet, responsible shenanigans.

Since it’s virtual, you can come, too! Here are the details. 

III. My place is really shaping up to be the loveliest little sanctuary and I adore it.

IV. I took the above photo while I was waiting for a virtual concert to begin, and what you’re seeing on the screen there are thousands of people chatting pre-concert. It was much better than I expected and such a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening.

It took me a long time to fall in love with Marianas Trench. Some of you may remember that I bought my daughter and I VIP tickets a couple of years ago and I *tried* to love them before the concert, but I just *didn’t*. Afterward, though, well, something shifted. They got under my skin, big time, and they are definitely a part of my soundtrack at the moment.

You wouldn’t think a virtual concert would be all that big a deal, since we’re all accustomed to watching YouTube videos and having music streaming into our homes and lives from all our devices, but it was really quite the experience AND my introverted heart really appreciated being able to tune in from the divan, flanked on either side by the dogs, DRESSED ONLY IN MY UNDERWEAR. I couch danced and whooped and hollered.

I took the night into my own hands, and I made it mine.

V. This song on repeat today because reasons. 

VI. Had to cancel an interview today because I am a hot mess, and she was so sweet about it that I burst into tears. People are really incredibly kind.

VII. Sephora is on Instacart now and because Renee has become one of my muses, I ordered all the things and today, I will put on a full face for Harvestfest. I also spent an outrageous amount of money (for me, anyway) on SKIN CARE. What the fuck is happening right now? WHO AM I?

Hey, it made me feel so good to put those things in my cart. It made me feel self-aligned.

Whatever it takes right now.

VIII. When a trauma survivor begins to heal and stops fawning, people drop out like flies and it’s just the way it is. BUTANDALSO not everyone drops out like flies. Some people stay. Some people arrive. Some connections deepen. There are some people who will think therapy/your therapist has ruined you, and they’re not wrong. You are ruined *for those people*. You are no longer acting in accordance with *their will*. You are no longer operating in ways that make *them* happy.

You are ruined for them, but you are saved for yourself.

IX. I may never ‘get over’ all of this, but I will learn to navigate it with grit and grace and honesty and self-empathy. I will focus on the connections that are healing, the ones that honour my humanity, and make space for what’s real and true. My youngest daughter is my greatest source of comfort right now, and while I don’t talk about my children much in this space (because discretion and they are their own and their stories are their own), I do want to acknowledge that when everyone else dropped out, she dropped *in* and I will never forget that. Never. I also want to acknowledge my friends, Kimi, Dani, Ali, Debi, Lee, Sal, Renee, and Myrna, who continue to sit with me in the darkness as I claw myself back from the abyss, and those in my virtual community who send notes, post comments, and reach for me with tenderness and willing witness. I love you all so much, it knocks the breath out of me.

X. I think I’m going to live.