Manifesting has been a buzz word for quite a while now. The book “The Secret” made a big deal about it. There are all kinds of business protocols about dreaming big for your future. People make vision boards to keep their eyes on the prize. If you can make it work it’s the greatest. If you can’t, it’s easy to feel like a failure – especially as a measure of spiritual connection.
I find it hard to get out of my own way when I can’t see where I’m standing. I recognize when I’m 100% behind a desire, state it, work toward it, and it happens. I also understand when I’m resisting my desires, even if I’m not always sure how or why. Occasionally there are good reasons to put things off. I’m not always aware of those either.
The books and workshops make it sound easy, but it’s not. There’s a piece of manifesting that has to do with recognizing the flow of your life. It’s like giving a toddler a choice between an apple and a chocolate and them having a tantrum because what they want is a banana. The banana isn’t going to appear, but if they wanted an apple or a chocolate life is happy to give them one.
There are a few things I want right now. One of them is a garden. I’m digging beds out from under two years of overgrowth. I’m not working very fast, or even in very long stints. I’ll get as far as I get and I’ll be happy with that. In the meantime I’m enjoying the process as much as I hope to enjoy the outcome.
Another thing I want right now is a schedule that allows me time to work and time to play. I want time off being Orion’s Mom/Caretaker/Case Manager. I’m pushing the edges of that the way parents do with grade school aged kids. I ran off to the grocery store to pick up some milk before waking Orion up. I’ve taught him how to get into the house so I don’t have to race home to be here before the bus. I’ll let a sitter leave once he’s in bed, knowing he’ll just sleep and not notice when I get home. It’s coming, but I’m not quite ready to let go either. I get in my own way and I know it.
The third thing I want is an income, a career, a life. It’s part of the reason I want that time off. It’s also something I want to feel good about myself, my recovery, and just to be out in the world. Being a writer is part of that. Taking classes through the National Speakers Association is part of that. But that’s building a business, and isn’t really impacting my cash flow in a positive way.
I hit that line and told my daughter that I’m ready to look for a job. The same day I got a call from a friend. She knew someone who needed copy-editing done, right now. It’s a short-term gig, and work (of all sorts) may come in bits and pieces. But THAT’s manifesting!
Both Orion and I had doctor appointments last week. I was going to take photos and write all about our busy week. But doctors offices are boring. The appointments were too. How many times in one week can you hear “make another appointment and we’ll deal with it next time.” without feeling a little like you’re wasting your days?
The weather was all over the place last week. We desperately need the moisture. We didn’t have enough snow cover and the lakes and rivers are exceptionally low for this time of year. I swear one day we had rain at 40 degrees, snow at 32, and then sunshine in the 50’s! (And in that order!)
It’s too early to get to planting anything up here. Our “last frost” date is May 15th, so we’ve got a wait. It feels like we should be out digging though, and the ground is warm (warmish). The nursery’s pansies (which are very hearty) are out, but not much else.
I did get out and start cleaning up around my peonies. There’s plenty of yard work to do before planting can happen. I’m just not in shape for it. I try to get out a little bit every day (when it’s not raining, or snowing). It doesn’t take much to make me worn out, but I’ve hopes of building up my stamina. It’s nice to be able to get out at all.
It’s nice to be able to get down on the ground and get up again. It’s nice to not be afraid to be outside without my phone in easy reach. (Just in case I can’t get up!) It’s nice to be digging in the dirt and feeling the sunshine warming my joints. It’s nice to be able to come back in and soak in the tub. Last year I couldn’t do much outside and soaking in the tub isn’t allowed for 6 weeks post surgery.
I’m enjoying the rainy days. I catch myself singing. I’ll keep trying to take advantage of the sun when it shines. Seems like a good plan.
I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about Spirituality. In my book, Manifest Divinity, I talk about spirituality as our unique relationship to the Divine (however we might define that.) I stand by that, because I do think spirituality is highly influenced by that feeling of connection. But we all have moments when we question that connection, or wonder if it’s even there.
There is something that sustains us, even through that “dark night of the soul”. We cling to life and are wired for survival, but WHEN people give up varies dramatically. We press on, going through the motions, doing what needs to be done or we curl up and check out. We continue to lean on the connection, out of faith or habit, we look for something “more concrete”, or we despair.
What we often don’t recognize is that challenges to spirituality often strengthen the connection. When night falls we trust the sun will rise again, because that is our experience. When winter comes we trust that eventually it will be spring, because we’ve seen that happen time and time again. When we have lost touch with our spiritual connection, and hold on until it returns that too becomes our experience.
For many people, coming out the other side is what actually crystallizes their connection to spirit. Having the experience of that dark night is the contrast that makes spirituality real. Someone asked me a few weeks ago what was the experience that gave me such a strong connection to my own spirituality. I don’t know.
I talk about playing the Faerie as a very young child in my book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective. As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt connected to something. Those connections have been challenged in large and small ways.
My mother tells the story of her 3-year-old daughter “disappearing” on Memorial Day weekend. This is a big weekend in Minnesota. It’s when everyone goes up to open the cabin at the lake. They found me, with my dog, walking on the center meridian of the main highway headed north out of Minneapolis. I was, apparently, unconcerned. I don’t remember the incident, it had no impact on me. I know I trusted the dog.
I got lost as a kindergartener trying to get home from a new friend’s house. I do remember this one. I found a spot to plant myself and cried. A stranger (probably the woman whose house I was sitting in front of) collected me up and took me home. I’ve always had the support I need when I really need it. I also knew my own address. I have to meet the Divine half way, and do my share of the work.
Fifty years later I am again awed by the way help and support has appeared in my life when I needed it. I trust it, I count on it, because I have no other choice. I don’t take it for granted. I know I’m expected to do my share of the work as well. Some of that means getting up, going through the motions, and doing what needs to be done.
Spring is coming. Light and warmth are returning. The green peeks through and my hands are back in the dirt (inside, but in the dirt.) It’s hard to have any perspective on spiritual journey while we’re walking that center median overwhelmed by traffic. It’s the shift of time and distance that allows us to see how big the small miracles in our lives truly are.
It seems the more I start to feel like myself again, the more I am bombarded with emotions. I shouldn’t be surprised. It is typical for me to dig in and deal with crisis. As long as there’s something that needs doing I’ll be okay. It’s when things settle down that all that backlog comes rushing forward demanding to be heard. I have time to “feel the feelings” and I don’t like it.
I have so much to be grateful for. I got an early diagnosis. I have good doctors. I got to have laparoscopic surgery. Hell, I’ve beaten cancer twice! I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the kindness of my friends.
I also feel like I’ve been put through the ringer, again. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I feel like I’m fraying at the edges. Some of that is simply age. I’m not as resilient as I was in my 20’s. I don’t bounce back as fast, or as far, and it’s frustrating. Some of it is that, although I’ve had all the help that I need, I haven’t had the support of a partner cheering me along. When my spirits sag, I have to bring them back up on my own.
What really challenges me, though, is the lack of security. I don’t have sick leave. I don’t have vacation time. I don’t have a nest egg. I am trying to build a new career. I’m looking into moving Orion out. I’m not sure, even healthy, that I can continue to live in my home. The cancer diagnosis just underlines that there are no guarantees in life.
Ostara, the spring equinox, is a time of balance and new beginnings. That seems like a good place to start. Finding the new normal, creating patterns and systems that are healthy, and hanging on to hope; that is the task at hand. As long as there’s something that needs doing, I’ll be okay.
For someone who’s trying to recover from a major surgery I’ve been awfully busy. It’s hard not to celebrate a birthday, even when you’re not feeling entirely up to it. This is my first birthday since the bariatric surgery, and my birthdays have historically been about food.
When we were kids one of the things we got for our birthday was the opportunity to choose the menu. We didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family, but my parents cooked. Favorites ran the gamut, but I discovered seafood early and stuck with it.
This year has been a challenge in many ways. The hysterectomy has me moving slower, not getting around easily and pretty achy. In addition, just having the surgery has decreased my food tolerance and portions. That’s kind of normal, except given that I was already working on tolerance and portions it seems a little extreme.
Of course where there is a will there is often a way! My dreams of baking myself a cake to take to a party, or making myself a special dinner were very unrealistic. I’m not that far along in my recovery. But I have friends and family who managed to keep me eating all weekend long.
Thursday my daughter took me out to Oceanaire for birthday dinner. We ordered one Restaurant Week meal, a couple extra appetizers and a cup of lobster bisque and shared it out. Beautiful food, well prepared, very tasty and oh so very much to eat! I may not have had much (and took home leftovers) but I was more than satisfied and had a delightful evening besides.
Saturday I was taken out for sashimi by my ex and my son. That was also a treat. Again we managed to shuffle the meals around so that everyone got something they liked and there wasn’t too much extra. I had time enough for a nap before going out again that evening with friends.
That wasn’t specifically for my birthday and much of the “pot-luck” was vegan, but it was good to see some old friends and catch up. I brought a bag of clementines – not something I would buy for just me. I can eat a couple of segments at a time. It was a treat and definitely qualified as a vegan dish.
Sunday was our annual women’s ritual. Again the food was lovely and in huge quantities. I did manage to “cook” Tzatziki to go with my frozen appetizer spanakopita from Trader Joe’s. There were ribs, meatballs, and spiced nuts, liver pate, stuffed clams and scallops, and hummus, olives, and a variety of cheeses. I definitely needed a nap! The liver pate came especially for me to help with that anemia problem. Yummy!
I have so much to be grateful for this year. The hysterectomy took care of the cancer – no chemo or radiation necessary. I have had incredible support from my friends and family to get through these past few weeks. I may be grumpy I’m not improving fast enough, but I do continue to be able to do a little more each day. I’m also reassured that I really am doing well, I’m just impatient. And I have some great leftovers to help me through the coming week!
As Burns said (after his language was updated) “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” According to Murphy, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” One way or the other, as the idiom goes, “someone has thrown a wrench in the works.”
I really wanted to spend last weekend in California at Pantheacon. I was scheduled as a presenter and I was really excited about the workshop I planned. It was about energy management, specifically in ritual settings, called “Sitting down or sitting out”. Maybe the universe thought I needed a refresher course first!
It has been a busy month with lots of medical appointments. My regular readers have heard me talk about dealing with a DVT (blood clot) and blood thinners and anemia. Every single appointment I’ve had since the beginning of the year has started with the statement, “You need to know I’m getting on a plane February 13th.”
I didn’t get on the plane. Instead I got scheduled for surgery. In fact, if you’re reading this on President’s Day Monday, I’m certainly at the hospital and may be “under the knife” even now. Scheduled publishing is one of those handy WordPress features.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve known for several weeks that surgery was the plan. I just insisted that I get the California trip out of the way first. In looking for ways to address the anemia I was referred to a Gynecologist who, as part of a standard exam, did a biopsy. It turns out that I have endometrial cancer.
It’s been 24 years (to the MONTH!) since the last time someone told me I had cancer. Back then it was colon cancer and I was relieved to get the news that being sick wasn’t just in my head. There was a little bit of relief this time as well. My first thought was that my PAP smear was off, and it was cervical cancer – which is really nasty. Endometrial cancer tends to stay localized. Most of the time it’s an easy fix. Have a hysterectomy and you’re good to go.
Even the idea of a hysterectomy is kind of a relief. I’ve been experiencing peri-menapausal symptoms for a very long time. I have ZERO interest in more children. I’m a lousy candidate, medically, for any kind of pregnancy. Happy to be done with all of that.
The concern is that it’s a second occurrence of cancer. The concern is that this cancer doesn’t explain the blood clot. The concern is that maybe I’m one of those people who is prone to getting clots and cancers. Unless you’re me, in which case the concern is missing the trip to Pantheacon.
I’m not a great candidate for surgery either. This will be my (count them) sixth abdominal surgery. The last one was the bariatric surgery less than a year ago. The nutritional complications from both the bariatric surgery and the cancer can impact recovery time. The scar tissue could prevent the procedure from being done laparoscopically – significantly impacting recovery. The blood thinners and anemia add additional complications.
So please send warm thoughts and prayers for an easy surgery and rapid recovery. I’ll add an update a little later in the week so you’ll know how I’m doing. I may take a bit of a blogging break while I process all of this and try and get a handle on another version of “my new life.”
And if you’re interested in what I’m missing, here are links to the blogs I’ve written about Pantheacon and flying to California in years past.
Home from the hospital. Everything went really well. They managed to do the surgery both laproscopically and robotically! Got everything and no surprises. Now it’s recovery. I hurt and I’m really tired, but I’m glad to have that part behind me. Thanks for the well wishes!
A friend at Gilda’s club asked me if I planned to have a big party when I hit my goal weight. It hadn’t occurred to me at all, so I gave it a moment’s thought. No, I could take or leave a big party. What I’d really like to do is travel. I want to go somewhere and do something fun. Like go dancing, or take a hike in the mountains or something I haven’t been able to do for years. Maybe New Orleans, maybe Italy, maybe my dream trip taking the train across Australia.
It’s fun to dream about travel, even when coming up with the money seems impossible. But it’s travel season. The stores are stocked with “sale on cruise wear” for people who stayed through the holidays and want to get out of the cold now that family obligations have been met. This month the tags on my car and my drivers license need to be renewed. Maybe I should take a look at my passport while I’m at it.
Karina was off on a short trip, not too far from home, this weekend. This means I had Miss Minnie. She looks sweet and adorable all cuddled up in a blanket on the couch. That’s because she’s all worn out from running away from me every chance she got!
Pantheacon is coming up again in San Jose. I’m trying to get all packed, making lists and making arrangements for Orion. I’m excited about doing another workshop this year. This one is about mobility issues and energy management. I think I could use a refresher!
I’m fighting anemia while I’m trying to pull this all together. My brain doesn’t work at 100% and I get “the dizzy”. The extra doctor appointments haven’t helped either. I start every one of them with, “You need to understand that I AM getting on a plane.” It’s all about managing the blood thinners and continuing to dissolve the DVT without setting off a thrombosis.
To give myself a boost I made Karina make me an appointment with her fancy hair dresser. Jesse at Hair Police is a dear. He was very sweet, fussed over me, didn’t mind that I am incapable of making any decisions about my hair and I think he did a nice job. It certainly brightened my mood. It will also look a lot better in California!
It is that time of year when it becomes really apparent that the days are getting longer, light is returning. Groundhog’s day may be a big deal in some places, but here we are pretty well guaranteed another 6 weeks of winter. Usually we see a “midwinter thaw” around this time of year. With climate change it seems that thaw is coming earlier. Much of our snow cover melted a few weeks ago with temps in the 40’s. Now it’s cold again.
I’ve written blogs in previous years about the light and about seasonal celebrations. I’ve written about our long winters and how easy it is to get cabin fever. What I haven’t written much about, at least not here, is hope.
This is a time of year when hope is in short supply. Historically, stores are starting to deplete and some household rationing sets in. In the natural world food is scarce. It is not uncommon to see herd die off in this late winter season, before the new shoots sprout. Likewise, in a harsh year predators will struggle to find enough calories to continue to hunt.
In the British Isles and in the Southern and Eastern United States this marks the time of year when there are signs that spring will come again. Siberian squill, crocus, magnolia – the early bloomers are sprouting. None of these first blossoms are food plants. They are precursors. Signs of hope.
In an interfaith analogy I liken our northern climate Imbolc to the story of the rainbow after the flood. There was no land in sight, but there is a promise of hope in the light. It is a time to prepare, a time to invite hope in. The cleaning that goes along with this time of year is a little like Field of Dreams. “If you clean it, spring will come.”
There is a metaphor that circulates in the Sufi and the Buddhist communities about hearts breaking open. The notion is that it takes experiencing true heartbreak to be open to compassion, to shared human experience. If you’ve never felt it, you are not fully human. Those breaks, those scars, become the windows in your heart and soul that allow the light of the sacred to shine through you. By allowing the pain, and not resisting, you also allow the opening.
The midwinter thaw is like that for me. The days are so dark and so cold and everything is frozen into ice. And then the ice breaks, and the light seeps in and the warmth can begin to reach the waters. It is a moment. The ice will come again, just like heartbreak will come again. But it is also an opening to hope, that after the ice there will also be spring.
It’s a good time to have that reminder of hope in the world.
The conversation about privilege is difficult, because it’s easy to get defensive right off the bat. The thing is that most of us have experienced privilege in some form or other over the course of our lives. It’s hard to see that when we’re feeling downtrodden, but it’s true. Likewise many of us have experienced some form of discrimination based on sex, or height, or handed-ness and feel that gives us some insight into systemic racism. Having a discussion about issues of race can’t even begin until first privilege is understood.
Let’s start with the notion of systemic privilege and discrimination. There is systemic handedness bias in our culture. Left handed people live inherently more dangerous lives simply because the world is designed for their non-dominant hand. But generally handedness isn’t going to get you put in prison. It isn’t cause for shop owners to eye you suspiciously. It isn’t going to prevent someone from renting you an apartment and in most cases it won’t cost you a job or an education. Right handed people are privileged, the world is designed for us.
There are plenty of statics out there that back up an argument for systemic discrimination against women. (Google gender discrimination if you’re interested in going down that rabbit hole.) Women continue to make less in the workforce. We continue to be less upwardly mobile with families. When the same essay is graded by teachers with a male name or a female name the male name paper scores on the average significantly higher. When #allwomen first came out documented how prevalent street harassment is. It became clear that #allwomen have experienced being dismissed in a group, their ideas lauded when reintroduced by a man. There’s a universal uphill climb.
The counter argument is that there is privilege that goes with being a woman as well. The problem is that those cultural privileges are not as universal as the discrimination. Yes, some women can bat their eyes and get out of a speeding ticket. Yes, some women always have doors opened for them (I’d give that up for equal pay – it’s not really an equivalent argument.) And yes, in some cases being a woman means you can hit a guy and he won’t hit back. (Domestic abuse statistics will give some sense of how NOT universal that “privilege” really is.) But I would bet that most women have tried to lean on those alleged privileges to avoid something, or get something they wanted. That doesn’t make this a good counter argument.
There are too many women supporting the men in their lives to argue that being a woman means you can expect the man to pay your way. There are too many women in the workforce by necessity to argue that being a woman means you get to choose to work or stay home. There may be privilege, but the woman privilege may not even be the one that applies. It may be privilege by education. It may be privilege by “pretty” (being blessed with good genes). It may be age. It may be socio-economic status that gives any given woman her privilege.
The argument/counter-argument trap comes up a lot in discussions about privilege. It takes a willingness to actually parse out value to realize how silly this argument can become. For instance, my son who has never walked and uses a wheelchair and an aid everywhere gets “special parking privileges”. What people who make that argument don’t understand is how impossible it is to get in and out of the car without the extra space. What people who make that argument don’t understand is how much energy goes into adaptive mobility. Legs are made for walking, arms aren’t. Shoulders of wheelchair uses wear out much faster and more regularly than knees in walkers.
Most of the people I know with handicapped stickers are grateful for the days (few and far between though they may be) when they feel good enough NOT to park in those “special” spots. The handicapped parking spots aren’t guaranteed. I’ve driven around the parking lot, or decided not to shop on more than one occasion because the spots were full up. All they do is give an underprivileged population a fighting chance to be able to participate in the daily economy.
That’s actually the same argument for title IX to promote women’s athletics. It’s the same argument for affirmative action. It’s not a guarantee. You still have to fight for it, and earn the place. It just gives an underprivileged population a chance. That’s why it’s such an insult to assume that a minority in college or at a workplace got the position because of affirmative action. Remember the comment about grading papers? The same thing applies to resumes. Without affirmative action, with equal qualifications the female or ethnic name doesn’t get the interview as often as the “white guy”. In fact, even with better qualifications employers will often go with a lesser resume that doesn’t look “ethnic”. (National Bureau of Economic Research paper)
In order to better understand systemic racism it is important to actually listen to the experiences of people of color. I am proud to be a contributing author in the new anthology Bringing Race to the Table. This anthology is focused in the Pagan community, but the points it makes are universal. In the first section People of Color describe both overt and covert racism in our community. The second section talks about the historical and mythological context of racism. The third section talks about being an ally and shares ideas about awareness and support. I’m pleased and honored to be able to participate in this ongoing dialog.
It’s occurred to me in this past week that I’m spending a lot of time going “been there, done that” with this current health set-back. I knew, as soon as my leg swelled up, that I was dealing with a blood clot (a DVT) because I’ve “been there, done that”.
I’m finding the same thing to be true with the weight-loss journey. I’ve lost a large amount of weight several times in my life. I lost 70 lbs with medical complications before they found and identified that I had cancer. Several years later, when I actually GOT the cancer diagnosis, after surgery and chemotherapy I realized I had to do something about my weight and again lost about 70 lbs.
The experience of planning to start an exercise program and being sidelined with medical complications is not new to me at all. The two steps forward one step back process of building a lifestyle, or a career, or a new routine is the story of my life. There is a reason I have the magical name Spiral.
This weight is where I was in my mid 20’s, when I got married for the first time. As I go digging through old clothes desperately seeking something that will fit I am reminded of where I was in my life each time I crossed “this number”. I may be the same weight, but my body is not the same shape. I’m no longer in my 20’s, or in my 30’s, but I still catch myself falling back on old patterns.
Most people have “life lessons” that come around again and again. The hope is that each time we confront these issues we have a different perspective on the problem. Each time we are tested we learn new skills and have new (better?) ways to tackle our problems.
I am better at accepting the compliments when people tell me I’m looking good. I’m better at recognizing the traps in the back-handed compliments (“You’re wasting away!”). I’m much more willing to accept ownership of my journey and not depend on others for confirmation of how I am doing. I’m much more willing to seek help and advice from others who have had similar experiences.
I’m less flexible – change at this age is harder than it was when my kids were little. I don’t have as much resilience, especially physically. It takes longer to take those two steps forward after a set-back. As a single woman, I don’t have the same kind of support. (This is as much a plus as a minus, depending on the day!)
My goals are different. My motivation is different. My perspective is different. I may have “been there, done that”. I just hope that this time I don’t do it quite the same way.