September 2020 In Review

I made an effort to review my months throughout 2014, but somewhere along my journey, I stopped. In fact, I stopped blogging for the most part and the Socials became my place to write. These days, I’m doing less Socials and more blogging, so I’ve decided to dust this way of reviewing things off.

These reviews will begin with a favourite selfie from the month. I love this one (left – a photo of me sipping Baileys and coffee from a blue mug, wearing a hoodie and a smile) because it was the first time I felt like myself in a very long time. The trauma of 2020 almost killed me – not exaggerating – but the trip I took to the cottage with my fest family saved my life.

Because I’m witchy AF, I like doing things that feel like they could lead to the creation of some kind of ceremony. Once this is written up, I might offer it to the elements as a way to release it all and make space for October.

Here’s how I’ll be approaching the areas of my life for review. If this is a thing you’d like to try, too, please feel free to steal it. I found the elemental icons way back when and no longer know who to credit. If you know, could you let me know?

In the realm of Earth: My body, health, energy levels; my business, work, service to my community; how well am I receiving? Am I feeling abundant? Growthful?

In the realm of Air: My mind. What am I feeding it? How are my anxiety levels (while for some, anxiety is a body thing, for me it is a mind thing)? What’s interesting to me? Exciting to me? What am I learning? Researching? What ideas or insights are coming up for me?

In the realm of Water: My heart. How am I feeling? How are my relationships going? What’s happening in my underbelly, my subconscious? What’s bubbling up? What dreams are coming into my conscious awareness? Are my waters calm or troubled? If they’re calm, is there troubling stuff going on underneath? If I’m feeling troubled, is it about stuff I can actually change or am I borrowing trouble from the past or future (regret/worry).

In the realm of Fire: My empowerment, which includes all spiritual work/study, and my sexuality. What am I passionate about right now? What has me shaking with fury? With desire?

Earth vectorIn The Realm Of Earth

I am feeling pretty tired lately, probably because I experience so much anxiety on a regular basis that my energy is drained. I am struggling with eating well. COVID, grief, the state of the world, all of it is weighing heavily on me and it’s impacted my self-care.

I think I might be B12 deficient and I’d like to do something about that. I’m also putting together little plates of things to nibble whenever I can force myself to do it. Brie, olives, crackers. I order in way less than I did when I was living with GG. I think I ordered in all the time back then because I felt responsible for ensuring *he* got fed, even if I didn’t feel like cooking. This pattern is repeating here, where I order in if I have company (my platonic life partner does like to eat) but if he’s not around, I eat peanut butter out of the jar or some instant noodles, if I eat anything at all.

My cataracts are really wearing on me but the amount of work I have to do in order to do something about them is daunting. My health card has to be renewed which requires me to get my ID sorted. My executive function is low. I feel like I have just enough to work and nothing leftover once that’s done.

I’m trying microdosing and today is day one. I’m quite wobbly, but my experienced friends tell me this will pass. I feel quite euphoric and energized, which I have to admit I do not hate. ;) I’m hoping it helps with the freeze trauma responses to everything + the generalized anxiety.

Money is tight, but that’s to be expected given the time of year and the economy. I am not panicked about it. There’s just a frisson of fear about how programs are going to sell at the end of this year given that we are all probably going into lockdown.

I love my work as always, and all the people it brings into my life. I am fully invested and engaged in all the classes I teach and I am making myself as accessible as possible while saving time for myself to recharge and renew.

 

Air vectorIn The Realm Of Air

I’m taking in the Collective Trauma summit – bought the whole package – and I’m finding it enlightening. There are some practices I’ve picked up from it that I’m finding quite helpful. Especially ‘let it be, let it in, let it out’ as a breathing practice that allows one to be present with what is.

I’m listening to Clan of The Cave Bear as my nightly audiobook indulgence. I’d forgotten how much I loved that series.

Anxiety has been quite high, but I’m wrangling it. Long hot soaks help, and so does the presence of friends who get me.

Insights and ideas are in short supply though I do find that once I get my butt into the chair into the studio, I can always come up with *something* to paint about. Even though creativity can be stunted when anxiety is high or our basic needs aren’t being met, I somehow always manage and I’m very grateful for that.

Researching: microdosing, trauma.

Water vectorIn The Realm Of Water

My heart is fucking broken. It’s mending, but whoa.

I’m not letting myself dream all that much. The old practice of writing out what would be happening if I were living my dreams just makes me cry the ugly cry, so I’ve given it up.

I think I just need to be gutted and hollow for a while, and I trust, because I’ve been here before, that it will pass in time and I will feel whole and full once more.

But not today.

 

Fire vectorIn The Realm Of Fire

Truth: my libido is dead. I am passionate about my work, but nothing else, really. I am furious all the time for all kinds of reasons, and mostly, I desire numbness. And I think I’m just going to let myself be okay with *waves at all of that*.

Full Moon in Aries today. Maybe my fire will be returned to me as something other than fury. Maybe my body will get the memo that we are alive here on earth and I just turned 52 and I’d like to feel something good and light and pleasurable and it would be really awesome if I could muster up some kind of desire for something.

Plodding is not my favourite thing, but that’s all I’ve got in me right now.

I’ve also decided to add a gratitude list – especially after reading this review and feeling really saddened by it. I think ti’s important to remember the goodness…

Lee, Drew, Kimi, Rick, Emi, Jessie, Sera, Sal, Sarah, Myrna, Renee and all the rest who occupy my days with visits and zooms and messages and love and witness. 

My students, who never cease to amaze me. 

My willingness to keep trying. 

Leanne. 

My work.

Spotify playlists. 

I’m hoping these reviews prove useful to me in terms of tracking my healing progress over time. If you read this far, OH HEY, you’re very kind. :)

 

Truth. Love.

I. Slowly, but surely, I’m emerging. Lots of art is being made. Work is being done. Dishes washed. Soaks taken in scented salt water. Lawn visits. Pajama parties with my platonic life partner. Downton Abbey. Too much wine, but we’re not going to worry about that right now. Also, I need this in my life, because it’s true.

II. Art Winos has been fabulous. We’re meeting every Sunday now, picking a lesson from whatever classes we’re taking (or not, if we don’t feel like it) and creating together over Zoom. It has been so good for my spirits.

Both of these were from a lesson in Life Book, which I took in my own direction:

This was from last Sunday’s Art Winos. I worked this one intuitively and just did whatever wanted to be done.

III. Grateful for constant absence and the space to dance in and out of anger and sorrow. Grateful for a period at the end of the sentence. Grateful that I am healing.

IV. Year-end. OMGdoom so much work.

V. Grateful to Rick for offering his backyard with fire pit for my teeny tiny distanced birthday party next weekend. Rick and I have been friends since 2008, and HE LIVES HERE, TOO!

VI. Grateful that I moved here. Grateful that I’m feeling at home here.

Maybe that’s all this was ever about. These gifts in the box of darkness. Getting you aligned with the truth, and getting me here.

I’ll take it.

VII. Things I’m not ready to talk about. Mumble mumble tattooed Viking mumble mumble.

VIII. Autumn in the air. Gods, I love Autumn.

IX. Harvestfest will be virtual this year, which means you can all come. Click for details. This is my home fest – my family reunion. Come meet my people!

 

 

 

X. Truth. Love. My core values.

 

Saltwater & Stars

I. This was one of our many songs. We met under a harvest moon and we reconnected year after year under the same moon for over a decade. It doesn’t matter how heartbroken I am or how much anger there is right now, this song is always going to be ours, and I am always going to remember those harvest moons – every one of them – with a saltwater smile.

II. I use music as a healing modality. Songs that help me feel the grief I’m feeling get played on repeat for a predesignated period of time (usually 20 minutes) as a way to give myself space and permission to sit with that grief, fully present to it, still in the eye of the storm of it, leaning into it, letting it subsume me but only for that predesignated period of time, and then I yell “ALEXA” and I play something else and I dry my tears and I get on with my life.

III. I also use music as a kind of spell when a song invokes a desired emotional state. If I’ve got a case of the morbs and I’m sick of it, I’ll play something that nudges me in the direction of a different emotional state. Sometimes I need anger to move me forward. Sometimes I need something peaceful or ambient. Sometimes I need to remind myself of who I really am. Whatever direction I want to nudge myself, there’s a song for that.

IV. Playlists are one of my love languages. I love to communicate through music – through curated selections of music that express where I’m at. I also love to ‘follow’ what the people I love are listening to. (Thank you Spotify) Of all the things I want to know about a person I love in moments when I miss them, it’s what they’re listening to. What songs are in their head? What lyrics are hitting them in the middle of the chest where their heart lives? What song reminds them of me? What song helps them feel better?

V. Music was so much a part of who we were, how we communicated with one another, how I managed to feel connected even in your absence. I miss that. I want that back. That and the banter and the laughter and the stupid little things you’d say that were romantic and true and the way you tucked into my cooking like you were starving and the way we held hands under the stars for a decade as innocent as children, softly murmuring to one another about what might have been and what might be. There’s a lot I don’t miss though and that is where I’m leaning hard these days because while I can let myself remember these things for 20 minutes or so, it is vital to my mental health that I bellow at Alexa to play something else and get on with this life in which none of those things are on offer.

VI. The last week has felt like an emergence of sorts. The daily day is easier to navigate. I am highly functional. I have very good moments of enjoyment, and even of a quiet kind of joy. I went on a little road trip with Kimi yesterday to get some wind in my hair, and it was glorious. We went cannabis shopping (since I’m experimenting with it as a sleep aid and anti-anxiety helper). I bought a stash box that locks and has accessories. We stopped at a farmer’s market and picked up sunflowers and kombuchu and a beautiful acorn squash. We had Oneida tacos and some *amazing* fresh-cut fries and talked through all of our personal happenings and wonderings. The scenery was soul food, especially with the way the trees are turning colour. I caught myself taking an ever so deep breath and dropping my shoulders.

Later, there was a visit on my lawn with one of my neighbours who is a badass biker chick in her 60’s who, while we disagree on almost everything to do with politics and COVID, tells the best stories.

I lit the little candle I keep hanging outside my front door as a way to pray.

I realized as I stood up to take the picture that I *really love* my little nest and calling it that doesn’t make me cry anymore and I’m glad I’m here in this new city that seems to be embracing me with open arms.

VII. Therapy was hard. I went into it feeling like a terrible person because I am so reactive right now and I knee jerk and say things I wish I hadn’t said and do things I wish I hadn’t done and all of it is, accordingly to my therapist, so utterly human and trauma-based and not anything I should be shaming myself over. She said at one point “I’m trying very hard not to disagree with you right now” and tear-streaked and urgent, I said “I wish you’d disagree with me right now. I think that’s what I need.”

So she did. I’m not a terrible person. I’m a terribly hurt person.

Terribly. Hurt.

Terribly.

But also healing.

VIII. The fridge soup of it is okay though. I mean, I have my moments of broken on the bedroom floor and then I have my moments of dragon scales and ‘where’s my fucking sword’ and then I have my moments of soft smiles and baby talk with the puppies and I have my slayed lists and beautiful plates of gorgeous food that I prepare for one as though it is medicine and I have the hour on the stoop watching people and dogs as they go about their business and the people that stop to say hi. I have zoom coffee and art dates and future plans and dreams and work so soul-nourishing that I can hardly believe this is my job.

IX. But I’m a lot even for my own self to bear because I’ve dealt with a lot and there’s this pocket of pain that has been with me for a long, long time and it’s going to take time for it to ease. So, patience, right? Patience, time, saltwater, stars, music. The dance.

“I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair/ With a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.”

L. Cohen

X. Today in my dreams, we never went there, and we are still friends, and I will meet you up the hill under the stars again one day soon.

Bliss Among Ruins

I. Journal Jam was amazeballs yesterday. Quick and dirty, as I like to call it. Even though the prompts led to some pretty murky colour combinations, the process itself was incredibly healing. I invoked the spirit of the 5 of Cups from the tarot while I worked and really focused on the hopeful reality of the cups that are left standing even when all the others have fallen over and spilled out.

I am finding myself in a liminal space where I am both grieving a loss but there is a spark of optimism for what comes next. Where there’s life, there’s hope. I believe. 

By the way, the replays go up in The Wilderhood, so if you want to jam with me, head on over. 

II. After the Jam, I went outside to get some air and let the dogs work off some of their pent up energy. I had mail! This beautiful little silver and moonstone ring arrived in a pretty gold tone box with a ribbon but NO NOTE.

I sat down on my stoop and cried the ugly cry, y’all. I was so moved that someone would do this – would, upon reading about my lost moonstone – think to find me one and send it to me.

People are deeply kind.

The mystery of who sent it was solved within mere moments after my asking on my socials. It was the lovely Cary, who has always been so sweet to me in all our years of connection. She is a fabulous human, and I am so grateful.

The arrival of the ring was perfectly timed. I’m turning a corner after months of what can only be described as a protracted Tower moment, and I’ve been cutting cords and pulling in tendrils. Refocusing. Bringing myself back to center, back to a life where the decisions I make are in alignment with my own best interests.

In a class I’m taking, we talk about our holy helpers and who they might be and how to work with them. It was suggested during one of our calls that one of my holy helpers is the moon herself. That resonated, and in the last few weeks, I’ve been leaning hard on all the guidance I get from working her cycles.

This ring felt like an affirmation of that.

III. I woke up feeling like maybe I actually slept last night. I didn’t drink anything but water and tea all evening, but I had a little puff of Indica at 10 p.m. and by 11, I was out. The dreams were intense, but the sleep was deep enough to have them, so I’ll take it.

IV. Lenormand this morning: “Trouble letting go.” Tarot this morning: “Lack of closure.” Yup, but I’m working on it.

Sometimes the only closure we get is the closure we make for ourselves.

I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. 

V. I’m thinking today about mantras and affirmations and the things we say to ourselves over and over again and how that wends its way into my writing.

I am my own North Star. I choose me. I believe. Where there’s life there’s hope.

These are tiny little self-soothing spells that I pull out and throw down in the face of my own self-doubt or fear or when I am in need of comfort.

There’s this meme going around on Facebook about how ultra independence can be a trauma response. When we have been hit with the ‘too much’ label or we haven’t been able to get our needs for witnessing, love, kind eyes on our lives, a hand to hold, commitment, kept promises, words aligning with actions, or when we’ve been abandoned or rejected by someone we love, we can grow very guarded about asking for anything. I wrote about this before – that anything that smacks of rejection right now is too hard for my nervous system to bear, so I have stopped asking for emotional support when I’m in the trenches. I have a draft folder in my e-mail program entitled ’42’ and everything I want to say gets typed out and moved into it. According to my therapist, the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between hitting ‘send’ and hitting ‘save as draft’.

It’s working to keep me from reaching out where rejection and abandonment is a goddamned guarantee.

VI. In the meanwhile, I am practicing a lot of self-soothing, both in my journal and through my writing, and while I know I won’t want to stay guarded forever, these little mantras are life.

I know I repeat myself a lot in these writings. I just wanted to explain that these phrases I repeat are medicinal. I am working through attachment terror in therapy, and I know I’ll come out on the other side of this work with a renewed willingness to attach once I heal, but in the meantime, I’ve got me. 

Trauma response or not, thank the gods for my resilience.

VII. One of my witches (who has stepped off Facebook entirely, so she emails me personally when she has things to share) sent me this today:

“The reason I’m emailing is to show you photos of the succulent I bought as a representation of you on my altar. It is doing a quite beautiful thing. It is rising up out of the ashes of its former self, and it is beautiful and radiant. The bottom part is all the dead leaves, but you can see how the beautiful new life is bursting forth from within them. I am positive this is a pure representation of where you are in your life right now, and I just had to share it with you. Every day I look at it, and it makes me smile and gives me so much hope. Please feel free to share with the coven or anyone else you’d like to.

Much love!

Sarah”

Everything that’s happening right now, every secret message, every sign and omen is pointing in the direction of my getting through *waves at all of this*. I believe. 

IX. I don’t mind being lonely right now. It feels like I am travelling inward, into my own cave of bone. A heroine on a quest in search of treasure. Walking the labyrinth of my own innards in silence. Descent with the promise of ascent. The promise of emergence after the long dark.

But baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya

X. I knew for a long, long time. I just didn’t want to admit it.

Dancer
I know how to find
bliss among ruins.
It’s my superpower.
I am well-versed
in sifting through
the lightning struck tower
to find the cornerstone
of what wants to come through.
There’s this new thing, though
where I’m ruined by bliss,
and the steps are strange,
and I’ve never danced this way before,
but when the time comes,
and I find myself
with my hair on fire
crossing into the former,
well, I have a map.
It’s here.
*breast bone*.
It’s here.
*base of skull*,
and I know this floor,
and I am a dancer.
11/12/18

Poison & Wine & Tea & Sympathy

I. I’ll be Journal Jamming today at 12 p.m. EST. I’m really looking forward to it, because these journaling sessions stretch me and take me places I would never go on my own. If you’re into it, you can get the link to today’s live by joining me in The Wilderhood. It’s free and amazing and you get Journal52, links to live Journal Jams, and journal jam replays + other stuff I do.

II. Yesterday was *amazing*. I spent three hours cleaning out the corner of chaos and now I’m down to one box of books and one box of junk to sort through before I can declare myself *completely unpacked*. I have two cube bookshelves and an accent table to build before I can do that, though, so I think that covers my quarantine plans for the weekend. Once everything is officially out of boxes, I’m going to go through my stuff with a fine-tooth comb, pare everything down and organize it so that I know exactly where everything is. I’m kind of excited about it because I really didn’t think I was going to have the bandwidth for this kind of thing, but here I am. Making and slaying lists.

I’ll take it.

III. I’ve turned a corner. There are only about a dozen tabs open in the browser that is my brain. I am not walking around holding my guts in. Yesterday, I sluiced off the year leading up to Equinox in a salt and scent infused tub. By candlelight. In complete silence. I put fresh sheets on the bed. I dusted off the altar and lit incense and tended to something more than just a begrudging attempt to keep my body and soul together so I can see how *waves at all of this* ends. I ordered all the things I like to eat on the fly to ensure that I do, indeed, eat. Baguette and brie and olives and salad greens. Cheese and crackers. Eggs and bacon. Slabs of meat. Easy and tempting.

IV. I’m thinking about how tea and empathy used to be a thing and now everyone just wants to coach one another out of feeling how we feel. I don’t know if that’s just an online thing or if that is also happening at kitchen tables. I don’t know. I know that if someone tries to coach me or applies ‘look on the bright side’ to my situation, or if they tell me snap out of it before I’m ready or if they tell me not to ‘talk like that’ or ‘think that way’, it gets my back up. Way up. Like, look. The only way to the other side of whatever this is is THROUGH it and if you can’t sit with me while I’m doing that, I don’t know what to tell you. When did we forget how to commiserate? When did ‘commiserate’ become a dirty word?

V. I’m putting your name in a honey jar.

VI. This song on repeat, because reason.

VII. Thinking about how trauma impacts our ability to be present. Yesterday, while doing laundry, I misplaced my keys FOUR TIMES. I almost flooded the bathroom because I forgot I was running a bath. I left a half a bag of ice on the counter to thaw while I was in a live call with art witches. Then, I knocked a beverage I forgot I’d put on the end table over all over my remote controls. Tossed the remote controls, which were dripping with beverage ONTO THE CLEAN BEDDING while I was trying to clean it all up. Tripped and slammed myself into the wall while I was running to get paper towels.

Embodiment is a thing. Grounding is a thing. Coming back into the body is hard at the best of times, but in times like these being disembodied can feel safer. Note to self: it’s not. It’s how people break their necks and get eaten by their pets.

Come back to center. 

VIII. I’m thinking 2021 will be The Year Of Mary. I’ve wanted to do an art journaling class dedicated to exploring the poetry of Mary Oliver for years now, and I think I might be ready. I was musing on it in the tub last night. Mary, my matron saint of being present, of being gentle, of loving the world as it is, of loving myself as I am. Mary, who helps me enchant the ordinary. Mary, who I miss like summer.

I’ll keep you posted. (click to get notified)

IX. This song, too, because I’m holding space for all my parts, including the frustrating ones that can’t seem to let you go just yet, goddammit.

 

X. Darling Human,
Everyone is on their last frayed nerve these days for all kinds of reasons. Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others.
Love you. Fiercely (but gently)
xo
Effy

Beauty From Ashes

I. I seem to have found the will to live despite everything that’s going on right now (personally, globally) so today I unpacked more boxes that have been sitting in the Corner Of Chaos and organized the things within them into bins to go in storage. I am on my third load of laundry. BOD is filmed for October. The PDF is done. I am feeling the equinox in my blood like a witch might, and it is calling me to get with the program. I spent an hour on the stoop with the dogs sipping a Corona (my little irony) and thinking about all the ways I am human.

II. I can love me like this. I’m not so bad. I’m a lot, yes, but it’s no fucking wonder, and like Renee likes to remind me “a lot, but never too much.”

III. Yesterday was really good. I got to hang with my Art Winos for three hours. Then, a neighbour who often stops by with his kid so she can visit my dogs when they’re on the lawn stopped by for a quick distanced hello while I was stoop sitting. He could tell I was very low and I told him I had a wicked case of the morbs. He nodded. Wished me a better day. Wandered off. Ten minutes later, he returned with a little care package that included a jar candle and a little nugget of medicine.

People are deeply kind, y’all. People really do know how to look after one another. I’m noticing.

Later, Lee came over and we got caught up after a long break (we were both swamped with life stuff, so I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks). We watched The Magicians (four episodes worth) and we’ve decided we’re going to be Eliot and Margo. I am really enjoying having a platonic male friend with whom I can be the no fucks given swamp witch I currently am without worrying about whether or not I’m putting him off. I don’t *care* if I’m putting him off. This is me. I am not auditioning for any kind of role beyond “You are my friend who I am 100% honest with. Let’s watch The Magicians and eat all the deep-fried things.” If he pisses me off, I tell him. If I piss him off, he tells me.

He never tells me to call my therapist. He gives me space if I’m especially gnarly and comes back later with open hands and heart and grace and a desire for mutual understanding. He knows I’m a lot. But, like Renee, he reminds me I’m never too much AND ALSO that most of the time I’m a sheer fucking delight to be around. Worth it.

And he’s not getting laid, so it’s not like there’s any reason for him to make that shit up.

I’ll take it.

IV. I was watching Downton Abbey and there was this scene in the servant’s dining room where Thomas asked Daisy to dance and she got a wicked case of stars in her eyes. She couldn’t see past those stars. She fell headlong. Thomas was just meeting his own needs, but she couldn’t see that. She was all in. Devoted.

I know that story.

V. Sometimes when we’re coming out of years of deprivation or we’re having these lovely corrective experiences, all we can see are the corrective experiences. The other things that are going on get under rug swept and we bypass the discomfort, the cognitive dissonance caused by the way the ‘on the one hand’ meets the ‘on the other hand’. It’s natural. Human. It comes over us when we turn the thing over and over in our hands upon reflection when that’s safe and the threat of abandonment or retraumatization has past because *the worst has happened already so you go ahead and take a good long look*.

Some people are on their own sides. They’re not on yours.

VI. Alignment is a word that’s been coming up a lot in therapy lately. My mother was not aligned with me against my abusers. She was aligned with her own best interests. It didn’t really matter what happened to me. It mattered only that I wasn’t a problem. If I caused a ruckus, if I had needs she couldn’t (or didn’t want to) meet, if I was too squeaky a wheel, well that got nipped in the bud right quick.

Soap in mouth, wooden spoon on bare ass, banishment.

etc.

It’s no fucking wonder I have difficulty with the whole self-loyalty thing.

VII. That’s changing. I still love who I love and I will always be willing to take my own inventory and admit when I’m wrong and do the work to become the very best version of myself I can possible be, but I will not align against my own best interests.

VIII. I am my own North Star.

IX. I know how to make beauty from ashes, but the beauty I’m choosing to make now is not the kind that will exonerate you or excuse you or ask me to be complicit in my own destruction. It’s the kind that helps me find myself standing on my own side, looking forward, choosing what doesn’t hurt, what does no harm, what never asks me to lie or tone it down or be other than exactly who I am in any given moment. Swamp witch. There are no more stars in my eyes except the ones that help me find my way home.

X. I choose me.