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.

Fragile Like A Bomb

I. I am such a huge fan of Chani’s readings, because she always nails me.

Libra & Libra Rising

“Rage is an intoxicant that I respect; its power is undeniable, its impacts are long-lasting, it’s needed and necessary but only one part of my process. Underneath the wrath is a wound, a fracture, a story that needs to be heard. I listen to the details of my own tales. I listen to let it be known that what I survived matters, and how I survived it holds the keys to how I can heal it.

No part of my journey is wasted if I scour it for its meaning. 

With this New Moon, I recommit to understanding the parts of my path that are loaded with nuance. I refuse to boil myself down to a trope, to good, to bad, to one dimension. I make a point of parsing out my feelings, especially the more intense ones. As I get clear about what I feel and what I want to say about it, I get to reclaim a little bit of my agency. I rescue myself from martyrdom each time I refuse to settle for being safe but resentful. I’d rather make a mistake while trying to reclaim my power than leave it to whither without me.”

I never miss her workshops, which she releases for every new moon cycle.

II. This meme I saw on Facebook got me all choked up. I love it when people take the most ordinary things and enchant them for me like this.

"Dandelions symbolize everything I want to be in life. Unapologetic. Hard to kill. Feral, filled with sunlight, bright, beautiful in a way that the conventional and controlling hate but cannot ever fully destroy. Stubborn. Happy. Bastardous. Friends with bees. Highly disapproving of lawns. Full of wishes that will be carried far after I die."“Dandelions symbolize everything I want to be in life. Unapologetic. Hard to kill. Feral, filled with sunlight, bright, beautiful in a way that the conventional and controlling hate but cannot ever fully destroy. Stubborn. Happy. Bastardous. Friends with bees. Highly disapproving of lawns. Full of wishes that will be carried far after I die.”

I love that so much.

I’ve been drinking a lot of milk thistle and dandelion tea with honey, and I am going to start thinking of it as my ‘feral sunlight bright beautiful bastardous’ elixir from now on.

III. Takeaways from therapy (some of these are paraphrased).

“I don’t like <insert thing she doesn’t like> for you.” This is so rare a thing for her to say that I really took notice.

It is human to want and seek connection. We are wired for it. It’s a need.”

“You are allowed to renegotiate what your needs are in any relationship. You are allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to ask for something different.”

“I know it may feel easier to write it all off as having been bullshit, but I don’t think that’s true. You weren’t deluded. There was love there. That’s what you’re grieving.”

“As you navigate this grief, I want you to be very, very careful about who you reach out to. Reach out for safe people.”

I like that she gets that safety is required right now. I like that she’s affirmed that for me.

I also like that as stupid as I like to make myself feel over loving people and then grieving their loss (why do I do that?), she doesn’t let me get away with it.

IV. Today is already better. It feels autumnal. I have work, but I can go at it with a gentle pace. There will be lots of tea.

I finally wrote to the guests I want in BOD2021 (registration opens on November 15th), and even though I am woefully behind on getting all of that sorted, I feel like I’m over the hump and now I can proceed with all of it in a less stressed out, more organic way.

V. I really want to paint today, and so I shall, but first, I have to wash my brushes and do something about this disaster that is my studio, and that always makes me wish I had a studio boy. Must wear a kilt. Must have strong hands for massaging of shoulders. Must be willing to take breaks for road trips to nowhere while the music plays on the radio.

Know anyone? Sound like you? Apply within.

VI. As soon as people start telling me who they think I am based on my public persona, I’m immediately turned off. Like, yeah, I’m all the things I present (because I’m really transparent in what I share), butandalso, I am an iceberg. There’s so much more going on beneath the surface, and no one gets to access that until they’ve earned the right. It feels like a control drama to me when people do that – like they are trying to figure out how to manage me, and I *hate* being managed. Hate it. As soon as I feel like I’m being handled or managed it gets my back way up.

“I am not fragile like a flower, I am fragile like a bomb.”

If you’re going to try to ‘handle’ me or manage me, just don’t.

VII. This made me laugh:

“Sorry if I’m not your cup of tea. I’m not even my own cup of tea. I’m barely a cup and I don’t like tea. I’m more like a rusty bucket of haunted bog water. Sorry I’m not your rusty bucket of haunted bog water.”

I feel like a rusty bucket of haunted bog water, but I like tea, and I’m not sorry.

VIII. My sleep was rough. Dreams. New Moon brings them, always. These ones were sweet, but they reminded me a lot of this line from Elephants by Rachael Yamagata:

“And how dare that you send me that card when I’m doing all that I can do
You are forcing me to remember when all I want is to just forget you.”

I am leaning so hard on music right now,  y’all. It is medicinal.

k

IX. Is it possible to have connection without control dramas? I want that.

X. So for those of you falling in love keep it kind keep it good keep it right
Throw yourself in the midst of danger but keep one eye open at night.