I just arrived home yesterday from my first festival of the year. My face is burned to a lovely shade of firelight and my body is aching in places I didn’t even know I had. I used myself up this past week in the pursuit of shenanigans. I’m sleep deprived, dehydrated, and happier than I can ever remember being.
My phone was off almost the entire time, and I mostly left it in the cabin. I did not check into any form of social media except to do a couple of photo dumps.
It was exactly what I needed, and I’ve returned to you here in this space as a paradox. Emptied out. Renewed.
This week’s journal prompt, should you choose to engage it, is:
“How’s my inner fire? Do I feel fired up about anything?”
I laughed when I read the prompt for this week because I actually took a forging workshop this past weekend. I donned safety glasses and massive fire proof gloves, and then…
I was struck, as I struck the iron, with how much like my life this process is – the intense heat of it, the way you must move the metal where you want it with certain, confident blows, striking while its hot, shaping it in accordance with your muscles & will, so it takes the form you want.
If you don’t get it right the first time, it’s okay. You can reheat it, tweak it, move the metal with your strength and a pair of pliers, adjust it while the metal is soft enough to move.
You may not get exactly what you had in mind, but you will get *something like it*, and that’s good enough for me.
My inner fire comes to life at this time of year, every year, as though it has as its primary source that first fire, the struck match that signals a season of frolicking with my friends-who-are-family, so I’m all ablaze with it today, heart full, spirit soaring somewhere above the to do list and the ordinary day.
Me, shaking, but DOING THE THING Y’ALL!
I am fired up about the work I do in the world, about the love I have to give. I’m fired up about how well my own healing serves me & my community. I’m fired up with courage – I entered an art show this weekend, (and won honourable mention), and read poems in a bardic competition. (WHAT? WHO AM I RIGHT NOW?)
I almost vomited (believe it or not, I have terrible stage fright) but I made it through, I only cried once, and I made the judges cry. WIN.
I’m in the second half of my life (maybe even the last third), and I’m fired up about packing it as full as I can with all that makes this life worth living. I am fired up about emerging as exactly who I’m meant to be after a lifetime of adapting to what was required of me.
I’m fired up about writing, art, beautiful food. I’m fired up about the soul connections that I tend as though they exist at the centre of my being – my own personal hearth fire.
And I’m fired up about how I might serve you in the years to come, too.
Please join me in The Wilderhood, where these prompts go up every Monday.
Alternatively, you may wish to join me on Patreon, where uncensored versions of my writings & offerings go up regularly as they are created.
I produce these booklets for folks in Book Of Days & The Wilderhood that include a journal prompt of each day of every month, and I’ve decided to post one a week here on my blog as a way to keep my writing practice ongoing. Anything deeply personal that results from these writings will go over on my Patreon, since a paywall helps me feel a little safer about sharing, even if that paywall is only $2 a month.
This week’s prompt, should you choose to engage it is:
“Where am I now in my life when compared with where I was this time last year?”
I fired up the ‘On This Day’ feature on Facebook to get a glimpse into my past. I really love that feature, because while it can sideswipe me with unhappy memories, it also gives me a very clear picture of how far I’ve come.
Last year, on this day, I was moving out of the apartment next door to this one and into this one. In the move, I got a dishwasher, a walk in shower, a view of TREES instead of someone else’s windows. I also got a significant increase in rent, but I had faith in myself that I could handle it, and lo, I have handled it.
I was also waiting for my little grand bean to be born.
I wanted, every single day, to run away from home, but there was no where to run away too.
I was also getting a really good handle on who my friends *really are*, which is what happens when you are grieving, embroiled in family drama, and moving all at once.
Today, I woke Bean up and fed him a bowl full of blueberry & apple stuff that he loved. This after we tried a veggie thing that he *did not love*. We played, babbled, and got cleaned up and dressed. His mom picked him up at 8 to take him to daycare. I have him again tonight.
Today, I sent off a few files to a colleague for review, since they are going up in a class called Wild Creative Journey near the end of this month. I paid my affiliates, designed some graphics, loaded the dishwasher, and put away the Bean’s toys. I’m about to type up and print off a packing list, since I’m leaving for fest on Wednesday. There is nothing looming, work wise. I had to wrangle things (because the last half of May was a shit show of ‘not my circus’ proportions, so I *was* behind), but the wrangling was successful, and I will leave for a week of no work absolutely guilt-free.
Today, I had to rescue my bra from my derpy dog, Salem, who came to the pack in March of this year. She is so full of life and energy and shenanigans, and she has a real knack for destruction of all the things, but I do believe she is one of the most beautiful dogs *on the planet*.
Today, I am looking forward to another night with Bean, who is coming over at six to have another sleep over with his Mimi. My son, James, is also coming over. We’ll have dinner and play with Da Bean for a while before he runs some errands for me. We will probably watch an episode or two of The Magicians.
Today, I am looking forward to a road trip to fest with my soul sister, Stacey, who is one of my beloved casserole people. She knows all my secrets. I know all of hers. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with, but mostly we are braless and we know how to wine and whine.
Today, I am counting sleeps ’till I get to see 42.
Today, I am confident that no matter what life throws my way, I can handle it because, lo, I have handled my entire life so far, mostly on my own, despite enormous obstacles and a completely fucked up nervous system.
Today, I am grateful to be here, and that has not always been the case.
And that’s me, today.
In Other News
I have a free group on Facebook called The Wilderhood where you can get all the prompts for each month, plus participate in challenges (there are prizes), plus hang out with THE WORLD’S MOST SUPPORTIVE AND AWESOME COTERIE OF WILDLINGS EVAR! I hope to see you there.
Trigger alert for mature themes including child abuse, and trauma response.
I. So, there I am, sitting in my studio in a Zoom room with my therapist (bless her for offering virtual sessions), and I’m recounting the parts of my weekend that feel relevant. I move from one story to the next with a wave of my hands and an ‘anyway’ as usual, and then circle back to another part of my weekend, and she stops me, because when I was telling story A, I did something with my hands that I stopped doing when I was telling story B, but that I then repeated when I was telling story C.
She tells me what I was doing – a totally subconscious thing where I’m scratching the pads of the fingers on my left hand with my left thumbnail. She demonstrated the action for me, and then asked me to repeat the action, to slow it down, and to check in with myself about what comes up.
II. I’ve been doing the teeniest tiniest bit of Somatic Experiencing with her for a little while now, so I know some of the things I should be paying attention to. Any pain. Any buzzing in my forehead. Anything to do with my vision, my heart rate, or how embodied I do or do not feel, but this unconscious action – this tiny little clue to the fact that we were dealing with a trauma response in both story A and story C would have completely escaped my attention, because, listen – when we’re telling our stories, we are not conscious of the signals we’re sending, but someone trained in SE *is* conscious. They are paying very close attention to every damned thing, even in our silence. This is why I’m finding it so valuable, because I can headspace myself back to some semblance of centred if I *know* what’s up, but I am not always going to know what’s up. What’s up is often buried under layers of self-protection. Having someone help with the dig is *crucial* to trauma recovery. Sure, some self-help is possible, but a pro is *needful*. I know that better than anyone.
III. So, I slow things down, and I begrudgingly repeat the motion, scratching the pads of my fingers with my thumbnail, and as I’m doing that, I catch myself doing it with the right hand, too. Something is definitely in there, I think, as I sit in silence while she watches me like a hawk. Something is in there, goddamn it. Here we go. And up it comes. Up it comes. And I am thirteen, and I am lying on my side in the bedroom in my father’s house. I’m facing the wall, and he is very, very drunk. I am curled up into a ball, my eyes wide open but unseeing. I am terrified. I know what’s coming.
His check came in, so he’s drunk a case of Molson’s. He’s feeling talkative, so he’s pulled a chair into my room, and is sitting at my bedside, waxing poetic at me while I pretend to sleep. He starts sweet like he always does. How glad he is that I came to live with him. How it’s changed his life, given him purpose.
And then it shifts to how much he hates my mother and how awful she was to him.
And then it shifts to how sexy my legs are and how much he wishes I wasn’t his daughter.
And then I start to sob, and beg him to leave me alone, and that trips the wire in him, and he starts to beat me about the back of the head and shoulders.
I fight back, like I remember my mother doing. When he’s drunk, he’s weak and sloppy and a few well-aimed punches and kicks will send him whimpering and limping away in due time…
He never remembers in the morning. He wonders out loud why he is so sore. Assumes it’s some kind of flu coming on, which gives him the perfect excuse to lay in bed and drink all day…
This happened to me for about a year, like clock work, whenever the check came in or someone else brought beer.
IV. I have no idea why this piece was stored as it was in the pads of my fingers, and I may never know, but I know that hanging out in that action in silence unlocked it. I always had this piece *cognitively* – this is not a case of ‘lost memories’ or anything like that. What I didn’t have was the piece where when people are drinking around me, some part of me is thirteen and lying on my side in bed in my father’s apartment, waiting for the words and blows to come raining on down all over my little body, If people are drinking around me and there is even a hint of darkness in them, that part of me goes into a powerful and confounding trauma response.
This is not the fault of the people drinking around me, and of course, no one around me is raining blows down on me these days – they wouldn’t dare – but that doesn’t matter. There is no feeling safe *at all* in a trauma response, especially when one is completely unaware that one is *in* a trauma response.
V. I have been bewildered over this for years. I know that I am incredibly reactive around people who are drinking. There are certain smells, tones of voice, body postures that *terrify me* in these moments, but because I didn’t have *this part of the piece* I didn’t know why or what to do with it. I just fucking spin, and cycle through flight, fight, freezing, and fawning. I, myself, go to a very dark, hopeless place when I’m around people who are drinking. There is rage in there. There is disgust. There is, above all else, though, terror.
And now I know why, and now I know how to take care of myself.
VI. SE has been the single most useful and also hardest therapeutic process I’ve ever undertaken. It feels a little like magic, like something shamanic is going on – like my therapist and I go in through the body in search of splintered off parts of self that have been imprisoned for decades, and once we find them, we bring them back to the now, with the safety that exists in the now, and the compassion that exists in the now. Soul retrieval. The real deal.
I will love myself in all my parts.
VII. I hesitated to share this because it is such a vulnerable thing to reveal. I don’t want the people in my life who enjoy their drink feeling in any way responsible for me or my reactions to it. I, too, love to imbibe. I party like a Canadian, eh? And that’s not going to stop. But I want you to know how powerful this process is in case it’s something you need, and I also want to be fully, deeply, truly known, so voila.
Keeping quiet about stuff like this in the name of ‘propriety’ feels like self-abuse at this point. That old self that would just shut up and smile, that would clench her fists and her jaw, but dare not say what is actually happening within her in the moment? She’s dead to me. What is true for me is true for me. It is no one’s responsibility but mine to deal with it, to heal it, but I deserve to be heard, witnessed, and known and loved in all my parts. All of them. Including this part where things that are happening around me can make me feel so unsafe that I am transported back to my thirteen year old body and my father’s apartment and his boozy stench and his fists.
VIII. Like most women I know, I have a laundry list of violations that have happened when alcohol was part of the equation. Some of them happened when I was very, very young, and some of them happened when I was a fully grown person and in possession of a powerful no. They *all* came up yesterday after therapy. All of them, like a movie I couldn’t pause. I jotted them down as they came up so I could have some sense of control over the flood, so I was okay, and I didn’t spin out into the horrids like I have before. It was manageable. I acknowledged each memory, and when they stopped coming, I washed my face and got on with my day.
And now I know.
These traumas (and all violations are traumatic) have been stored up in my body. I can be sitting there *thinking* I’m having a good time, or thinking completely useless things like “Why are you not okay right now? What the fuck is wrong with you?” but if I check in with my body in moments that in *any way resemble* any of those past moments, it will tell me OH HEY YOU ARE NOT SAFE, and it will tell me that through my heart rate, my emotional state, the way I’m interpreting and filtering what’s actually happening.
IX. I have this piece now. It is a huge piece, and it’s going to change everything, because when you know the situations that cause a trauma response in you, you can go in with your eyes open and your awareness completely attuned to whatever your body is trying to tell you. You can remind yourself that this *now* and you *are safe*, and you can do whatever it takes to ensure that you remain safe, and that you are responding to the truth of the moment.
X. C-PTSD fucking sucks, but I am bigger than it, and the work continues apace.
Thinking about those practices that feed my soul and keep me anchored – very important for someone who can spin off into despair in 2.5 seconds for no apparent reason, and also centred – very important for someone who can lose sight herself in 2.5 seconds depending on what’s going on in the immediate vicinity, a phenomenon also known as “Other People’s Stuff”.
Cooking practice, by which I mean preparing nourishing, beautifully plated meals for the palate, eyes, and body.
Soul X, which is what I call my spiritual practice. It includes writing practice, painting practice, and…
Oracular practice, by which I mean checking in with the inner landscape by using tools like Tarot as a kind of ink blot. Whatever the card tells me about my current state is probably not ‘oracular’ in the true sense of the word, but still, revealing.
Shadow hygiene as taught to me by Jane Cunningham – that practice of acknowledging the things we would rather deny in tender and tangible ways so that they don’t have a chance to sneak up on us and take us over.
Therapy. Weekly, unless there is a scheduling conflict, but mostly, weekly.
Social hygiene. I’m an introvert, so I have to approach the whole ‘need for connection’ as one might brushing one’s teeth. It must be scheduled, in the calendar, treated as necessary, or I will spend days and days alone in my own head.
Personal inventory aka “Make all things sound” which includes asking myself where I’m at, what I’m up to, what I want to change, what’s working, what’s not working, acknowledging where I am failing to live my values, which requires liberal applications of…
Self-compassion. Wherever possible. As lavishly as possible. And asking for the compassion of others where it is needful and available.
Rightful work, by which I mean engaging in the ‘support myself’ part of the equation with integrity, enthusiasm, and discipline.
Service, by which I mean loving on those I love with all I’ve got to the best of my capacity in any given moment.
Today, I engaged in 10 of the 12. No social hygiene because I had that for days and days and I’m prefer furfaces to people at the moment. No therapy today, either, because that’s tomorrow, though the hours I spent painting might be considered therapeutic.
I’m especially thrilled with the painting practice over the last 48 hours.
Not for work.
Not for work.
For work. Also filmed, edited, compressed and uploaded all of it in one day. WHO AM I RIGHT NOW?
I’ll leave you with this today, because it soothes my soul like nothing else can.
If you need me, send me an e-mail. I’m going dark until practice fills the well again.
I. My notes from a workshop I took for this cycle from New Moon to New Moon included these words about Full Moon in Scorpio: Deep & cathartic. Intense. Revelation. Something is illuminated that must be grieved. Challenging. Disruptive to relationships. Breaking habits/relationship patterns.
It was all of that. The whole weekend. Deep, cathartic, intense, revealing, challenging, disruptive. The things I want to change within myself were lit up and on display. The cracks are starting to show, and I know that’s how the light gets in, so I’m okay, honest, but I’m afraid there are (very valuable) things I can break with my intensity, my bull in the china shop approach to my own emotional content, and that fear tempts me to shut down.
II. I’m not going to, though. I’m going to simmer down a bit, maybe. I’m going to go quiet, hang back, let things unfold with a little less push & pull, a little more of the attitude of the gardener. Weed. Water. Let things grow as they grow. Quietly wonder. Gently await. Harvest only when it is actually time and not a moment before.
III. My notes on this cycle tell me that May 30th and 31st are going to be lovely. “Dreamy, affirming, solidifying, deeper awareness of how to work within your relationships for healing and building…”
Okay, then, universe. Bring that.
IV. I have nothing to say about the final episode of Game of Thrones, except maybe this:
V. I did exactly zero art this past weekend, and I am jonesing. I feel pregnant, like there’s some mysterious being in here somewhere that wants to burst out – something true and raw and maybe bloody and fanged and furred.
There is something in here about pleasure seeking gone wrong – too much of the good stuff. Habits that I want to break because I lose myself somewhere in all of that, lose my ability to think slow and measured thoughts.
There are some parts of self that are meant to be inhibited, meant to be tamed or they will run me into ruin.
Knowing who they are is part of the work of the moment.
VI. I got a hair cut. I really like it.
VII. Today’s forecast calls for wobbles & spins, and all the tools in the tool box.
VIII. Got a piece of hate mail last night about one of my classes, which came just as I was going into a pretty wild spin. INSERT SARCASM HERE: Wonderful. Just what I needed. All my doubts about myself came crash booming into sharp relief. Imposter. Useless. Garbage. Nonsense. Unworthy.
I had to work really hard to wrangle myself back to some kind of centre while I was already feeling worn down like a road.
I managed. My peoples helped. I am well-loved, even if I am fucked up as a soup sandwich. Knowing that helps me shake it off.
All good this morning about all that, though. I issued a refund and got on with my life, because what else can one do but that?
IX. Standing on the overlook at the dam at Three Bridges. The wind up, smelling of rain. The hawks circling over head, lazily catching updrafts, coasting, gliding. The bench on Woolwich trail. People watching. The little waterfall looking so enchanted and perfect and pretty. Feet in the dirt for the first time this season. A coin buried amidst the roots of a beautiful tree as an offering for the solace offered by that moment. The way we do complete silence. Holding his hand.
X. I like to think of myself as unbreakable, but I’m not. I know that. But it’s truth time, my loves. The only one that can break me *is me*.
I terrify myself. I take myself to dark places. In my frenzied drive to heal *now, right now, because ain’t nobody got time for this* I delve when I shouldn’t, deeper than I should, with no respect at all for my own true pace or need for a more careful excavation.
I’d like to stop doing that, and so the work continues.