Time Out

The Knights of Columbus Hall isn't too fancy, but fun!

The Knights of Columbus Hall isn’t too fancy, but fun!

The last couple of weekends have been busy ones.  Orion turned 27 last weekend!  We went to a Comics for a Cause event.  My friend Brenda Elsagher put it on and had her new book release there as well.  Her book is about the humor in aging,  the event supported the Ostomy Society.  It was her sister’s birthday so she arranged a cake for both of them.   What a sweetheart!

Happy birthday Orion and Laurie!

Happy birthday Orion and Laurie!

Orion wasn’t sure about it.  He’s used to going out for German food on his birthday, but there were brats so even that was covered.  He let Brenda know that although he doesn’t have a colostomy he’s had j-tubes for feeding on and off over the years.  He had a great time and the comedy show was fun.  Karina joined us (best sister ever!).

Brenda's book launch and Orion and Laurie's birthday bash

Brenda’s book launch and Orion and Laurie’s birthday bash (photo by Rachael Anderson of RMA publicity)

Karina and I spent some time together on Saturday.  We brought Orion home brats from a beer fest we worked at.  It was another fundraiser, this time for a center for homeless teens.   Because Karina is in the industry she got a call from a friend, a distributor, looking for help.   I poured beer from a craft brewery in the UP.

I'm not a UPer, but it's a decent craft beer.

I’m not a UPer, but it’s a decent craft beer.

I know I’ve been “running”, pushing the edges of what I can do.  It’s been good and I’ve been pleased with how “able” I am.  I even got some yard work done this weekend!   I know I’ve got more coming up and I need to find a way to pace myself a little better.

I have to be alright taking some time out, doing something just for me.  Curling up in a chair and reading a book, being okay saying no,  I do those things.  It’s just that they get “fit in”.  I suspect a little time out needs to be part of the plan.

Good Tired

20150926_184602I spent most of the weekend outside.  Winter is coming.  There aren’t that many lovely weekends left in the year.  Last weekend was definitely one of them.  It was warm, dry, there was a good breeze.  The evenings cooled off, but didn’t get cold.  Perfect weather for being outdoors.

Saturday was the community equinox ritual we often attend.  I’ve blogged about it in the past.  (AutumnDarknessHarvestBalance – Wow I’ve been doing this for a long time!)  I had Orion along so there is the additional piece about pushing him on uneven ground.  I used to have to be sure I had someone else there who I could count on to help.  Not so much this year.  I made all the trips from the car (Orion, Pot luck cooler, Pot luck crock pot, Lawn chair and blankets) all by myself.

ritual circle in the distance

ritual circle in the distance

It was good to catch up with some old friends.  It was also nice to have a community willing to share a dessert – so I could have a bite rather than throwing out most of a piece.  The buffet table is still a challenge for me, but I have found that if I fill one plate (with an eye for both Orion and I) and then split it into two at the table I do better.

We were there most of the afternoon and late into the evening.  Sat around the fire talking, watched the dancers and listened to the drummers in the background.  The moon was high, the night was clear and the wooded grove a pleasant cathedral.

stopping in the shade of the grape arbor

stopping in the shade of the grape arbor

Sunday Karina took me off to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.   We didn’t get there for the first cannon, that’s about the time she picked me up.  We didn’t stay to the last cannon (hoping that leaving 5 min. early would help get out of the parking lot.)  But we spent much of the day wandering around the festival.

The last time I was at the Ren Faire I was with a friend who was looking at knee replacement surgery.  Neither one of us was moving very far or very fast.  We took all day to circle the grounds one time through.  We traveled from one bench to the next.  This time was a very different story.   We did sit down a few times to eat, grab a drink, or see a show.  Mostly we were on our feet, back and forth across the entire park.

Minnesota Traditional Morris

Minnesota Traditional Morris

We had another beautiful day, warm with a breeze.  We saw friends working at the festival as well as running into a few just visiting.  Karina ate, and I nibbled off of what she got, so I didn’t struggle much with the food.  The highlight of the day was visiting with the Morris Dancers.  These guys are all friends of my daughters from when she was a waitress.  They are a warm and welcoming bunch.  They brought us up on the stage for one dance, and Karina even joined them in another.

Karina ready to dance

Karina ready to dance

We watched the full moon rising on our way home.  It was huge on the horizon (as the harvest moon often is).  When my Ex dropped off Orion he made me go outside again.  The eclipse was happening so even though I was exhausted I got to see that as well.

They are a friendly bunch

They are a friendly bunch

I was tired enough to go to bed when Orion did.  I ached.  My ankles were a little swollen.   BUT    I got to do BOTH things this weekend.  My ankles still look like ankles.  I didn’t feel like if I sat down I was never going to get up again.  I didn’t worry about walking or getting anything done all week.  Life is so different this side of the bariatric journey.  I am exceptionally grateful for good tired.

Shine on Harvest Moon

Shine on Harvest Moon


Forgiveness, a means to clean up a mess?

Forgiveness, a means to clean up a mess?

I’ve been struggling for some time with the concept of forgiveness.  It sounds like such a simple thing.  But as is so often the case, simple doesn’t mean easy.

Part of my resistance to the notion of forgiveness is that I find it patronizing.   I’ve heard all too often the phrase, “I forgive you.” used much the same way a Southern woman might say, “Bless your heart.”  It sounds nice, but it really isn’t.

It seems there are a lot of moving parts to forgiveness.   There is the part about letting go.  Forgive and forget.  But isn’t that a good way to leave yourself open to continued abuse.  A one time thing is great to let go of, but if you let go, really forget, isn’t every time a one time thing?  If you don’t forget have you really forgiven?  Waiting for the other shoe to drop hardly seems like the appropriate state of mind to associate with forgiveness.

Forgiveness makes sense when someone does something to me, without any intent or understanding of the impact of their actions.   A bad photograph that cuts me out of the picture, or a comment on someone’s own life that I read as a judgement on mine are not necessarily meant to hurt.  If I examine my own reaction and recognize that what I’m reacting to was never there in the first place forgiveness comes easily.  But who am I actually forgiving?   The offender, who never really offended, or myself for over reacting?

I didn't realize…….

I didn’t realize…….

There is a piece of forgiveness that is about acceptance.  Many of the things we found “offensive” in childhood become different when our perspective changes.  Sometimes we develop an understanding that whoever needs forgiving was really doing the best they could do at the time.  We forgive them for not being perfect and we accept responsibility for our own feelings.  That was then, this is now, accept and move forward.  This kind of process often requires distance, time and a shift in our own perspective.  The question arises again, who am I actually forgiving?

There’s another kind of acceptance that goes with forgiveness.  The kind that acknowledges nothing I do is going to change the way things are.   This often goes with families, where the option for abandoning the relationship is not acceptable.  The great-aunt who’s always going to pinch your cheek, the cousin that can’t ever remember your name are always going to be who they are.  Of course so is the molester, always going to be who they are.  Sometimes the better option is to let go of the relationship.   Is forgiveness here simply a forgiveness of ourselves for not being able to “fix” someone else?

Some things can't be changed. Does forgiveness imply a blame that never should have been there in the first place?

Some things can’t be changed. Does forgiveness imply a blame that never should have been there in the first place?

That goes back to the arrogance, the patronizing that I often associate with forgiveness.  Is forgiveness really something we do for ourselves?  Is it a way to sooth our own tendencies towards judgement and arrogance?  Is it a means to move past those things and try to experience the world in the moment?

I don’t have a handle on forgiveness.  I admire people who seem to embody it, who can use forgiveness to move past a bad situation and let go of blame.  I recognize that there can be healing that goes with forgiveness, sometimes on both sides.  I guess I have to keep practicing.


Parades, Picnics, and Politics

Orion, my parents, and their friends waiting in line at the picnic

Orion, my parents, and their friends waiting in line at the picnic

Labor Day is a celebration given to us by the labor unions.  Regardless of your feelings about unions (it’s complicated), they did give us a 40 hour work week, child labor laws, minimum wage, workplace safety regulations, and a national holiday.  We celebrated with my parents and that means parades and picnics.  You can’t have a parade without political representation.  The local union puts on the picnic.

Talking to people it strikes me to question how spirituality impacts our political outlook. Given the hoopla about Kim Davis this seems a particularly topical point to ponder.

It’s clear to me that our beliefs are foundational to how we view political questions.  They impact how we prioritize issues.  They impact our personal behaviors.   It’s also clear to me that our beliefs shouldn’t ever simply be our politics.

The union sets up a buffet in the park and feeds whoever shows up. They sell tickets for a raffle.

The union sets up a buffet in the park and feeds whoever shows up. They sell tickets for a raffle.

The difference for me is that belief is about acceptance and politics  about understanding.  Beliefs are personal, politics impact the larger community and therefore must take the necessities of others into account.  Thing is, in America, where the political dialog is rated primarily on entertainment rather than information, it’s easy to get lazy.

Our founding fathers originally only gave the right to vote to male landowners.  The thought was these people had proven a stability and educational level necessary to understand the political issues.  The sexism and racism offend me.  Even the idea that people with money and education inherently understand the needs of the masses without those benefits is appalling.  Still, the notion that people at least make an effort at understanding the issues has some appeal.

Waiting for the parade - lunch with emus.

Waiting for the parade – lunch with emus.

We expect our legislators to at least understand.  The fact is that the issues are so complicated, and bills are so full of “extras”, that many of them are voting on the recommendations of their staffs.  We’ve heard several times in the past few years “I haven’t read the bill”.  (Go ahead and google it if you’re interested.)   How is the American public supposed to make good choices when the issues seem daunting even to our elected officials?

Back to the parade.  We rode on a political float for the local state representative to congress.  (Yes I’ve met him and can support his work, even if he’s not MY congressman.)   I’ve blogged before about small town parades and how the people throw candy from the floats.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “No candy, no vote!”

Dad, Orion, and I on the float

Dad, Orion, and I on the float

This is not high school.  It is illegal to buy and sell votes in this country.  It may seem that candy is a small thing compared to some of the wheeling and dealing that appears to go on behind the scenes, but in public it still counts.  This is clearly a lack of understanding of the process on the part of the voters.  It also points to a failure of the system.  Integrity is only questioned when it stands tall.

Here we come back around to spirituality.  Spiritual integrity is what Kim Davis is trying to cling to.  Unfortunately, integrity doesn’t have a leg to stand on when you’ve already compromised yourself.  If you don’t believe in something you don’t take a job where it’s demanded.  Or if the job rules change, as they did in this case, you quit and find a job you CAN perform.  She’s not being persecuted for her beliefs, as is often claimed, but for failure to perform the job.

Wearing a hajib to work probably won’t interfere with getting the work done.  It seems reasonable to allow that kind of accommodation.  Transferring someone in an organization to a place they don’t have to do work that compromises their values, like being drafted as a contentious objector, makes sense when it’s possible.  Looking for a job you can do as a vegetarian and animal rights activist at the slaughterhouse is probably not appropriate.

But these are big issues.  There are small places where we all compromise our spirituality to get along.  I drive places I could walk to.  I don’t recycle everything I could.  I’m not currently managing a compost pile.  I spend too much time indoors with the air conditioner and heater rather than outside in nature.  I’ll purchase things made in ways I object to because they are less costly.  I don’t always honor my body or take time to be grateful for my life.

We could all stand to do better both at honoring our spirit and understanding the complicated issues in the world around us.



seagulls and masts. Is this image serene or is it "so much to do, so little time"?

seagulls and masts. Is this image serene or is it “so much to do, so little time”?

Last week I made appointments and this week I followed through.

On Wednesday I gave a talk at Gilda’s Club.  They’re starting a series called “Members Speak”, and the series is front loaded with members who have public speaking experience.   My talk was the second in the once a month series.  Timing at the end of August is tricky.  Things are generally slow in the clubhouse as everyone is either taking their last vacation or getting the kids back to school.  Even so, I had more than double the attendance from the July talk!

My speech was titled: “Ooops I Did It Again!”.  I spoke about the differences both medically and personally that I’ve seen with two cancer diagnoses 24 years apart.  I talked about the niggly voice in your head, and anyone who has had cancer knows it, that wonders what will happen if you have to face cancer again. I talked about how important reading Gilda Radner’s book was to me 24 years ago, and how disappointed I was that a clubhouse like that didn’t exist.  I talked about how valuable my experience with Gilda’s Club has been this past year, as a member and a volunteer.  I got good feedback.  When I was done and we chatted after everyone stayed and was engaged in the conversation.

The Riverboat cruises all the way down the Mississippi. Sounds like a fun escape!

The Riverboat cruises all the way down the Mississippi. Sounds like a fun escape!

I met with a professional seamstress/tailor about what to do with my wardrobe.  She’s a friend I haven’t seen in some time so it was nice to catch up.  I got a tour of her gardens along with a lovely cup of tea.   What was fun was going through my basket of fabrics I’ve collected over the years.  We have similar tastes in fabric and styles.   I’m excited to be turning clutter into function.  This week we’ll go shopping for patterns and notions.

Having a meeting in the sunshine on a sailboat. YES!

Having a meeting in the sunshine on a sailboat. YES!

The photo gallery is from this weekend and my meeting with a web designer.  This is definitely the way to do a meeting.  We had perfect weather and wind for a sail, a lovely conversation, and we also determined that we are a good “fit” in terms of taste and style.  She will be sending me a “to-do” list, essentially holding my hand through the process of producing an up to date website that actually serves as a promotion tool.

School starts, and I maintain that I am enculturated to also start new things in the fall.   It’s when my energy is geared up and willing to take on new tasks.  Some of that is the drop in average daily temperature.   It’s easier to be active when it’s just a little cooler and the air isn’t as thick.

What are you starting this fall?

Baby Steps

Fear of success is very common, and I’m no exception.   I’m one of those people who does well out of the gate, and then fades back into the pack.   I get distracted, or bored, or overwhelmed.   Sometimes it takes a bit, but if I care enough I’ll usually put on my “big girl panties” and buck up.

This is the time of year when that often happens.  In the U.S. we are enculturated to start things in the fall, with the start of the school year.  This also means temperatures are a little cooler, which I prefer.  There is less humidity (and pollen) so breathing is easier.  I also know in 8-10 weeks I’ll be running into the holidays and I’d like a head start!

Last week was a week of “getting ready”.  I don’t feel as though I actually accomplished much, but I did set up some important appointments.  I had some networking opportunities and I’m preparing a presentation for later this week.  I started sending off my dry-cleaning (I have a lot as I’m still cleaning out closets  of oversized clothing).  I even took a gander at flylady.net!

I made an appointment with a tailor to talk about wardrobe and alterations.  I made an appointment with a professional web developer. (Getting free help from friends hasn’t been a rousing success so it’s time to bite the bullet!) I signed a contract to have a piece included in a new anthology (Burying the lead? More on this when there’s a publishing date.)

Rather than being grumpy, I’m looking forward to this week filled with possibilities.  I still will be “getting ready”, but I seem to have energy for moving forward again.  It’s a good change in the weather.

Critical Grumpy-pants

It’s Monday.  I wrote a blog.  I don’t like it. (Critical grumpy-pants!)  It’s not like I didn’t have a good week!  We volunteered at Gilda’s Golf benefit.  We went to my friend Karen Lund’s book launch party at the Como Park Conservatory and Japanese Gardens.  We saw Inside Out at the Cinema Grill.  I performed 3 rituals.   Maybe I’m just tired.  Here are some photos.


I helped make the prize board

I helped make the prize board

Great venue

Great venue

We greeted folks as they came in for the banquet

We greeted folks as they came in for the banquet

I've always loved this beautiful old building

I’ve always loved this beautiful old building


The Japanese Gardens are delightful

The Japanese Gardens are delightful

You have to have a reservation for the teahouse, but Orion and I did a selfie at the gate

You have to have a reservation for the teahouse, but Orion and I did a selfie at the gate

The lilies were blooming

The lilies were blooming

Orion couldn't go on ALL of the path, but he could get to all the good spots

Orion couldn’t go on ALL of the path, but he could get to all the good spots



It’s been a challenging week.  I took on the role of being a supportive friend.  This week my community lost an old friend of mine to metastatic pancreatic cancer.  He went quickly, having just announced his diagnosis a month ago.

Safe journey Keith

Safe journey Keith

Many people in my circles were still coming to terms with his diagnosis when he passed away.  There is a lot of shock, and grief.  There is also a coming together of kindness and support as stories, memories, are shared.

This community pulled together to support my friend in his passing and to provide him with the send off he desired.  There is documentation and journaling and a promise of a resource guide.  Those who participated in that process are all posting “I want to go like this” on their Facebook pages.

I have stayed in the background, offering quiet support to those I am closer to.  I have mostly listened and acknowledged that this man’s passing is a great loss to the community at large.  I have encouraged people to check in on each other.  I have passed on the news to folks who knew this man, but are outside of our community.

I have another friend who is building a career as an entertainer.  She had a set at a comedy club as part of a contest.  So I went to the club to be supportive.  She didn’t move ahead in the contest, but I had a great time.  PART_1439219447889_20150806_221928

Laughter is often the best medicine when dealing with stress, grief, anger and other difficult emotions.  Our bodies need the release, and so do our souls.  It seemed odd being at a comedy club when so many of my friends were looking to join in toasting the life of this man.  Still, for me, it was the better choice.

I got to support another friend.  I got a night out (which my regular readers know is a big treat).  I got to laugh, which was good for me.

Bad Example

My Dad has been home from the hospital for over a week now and they are starting to find their routine.  I on the other hand am struggling to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

Anyone who’s ever been through a trauma knows some surprise at finding that, although for you time seemed to stop, the rest of the world didn’t.   It’s not that I’ve had my head in the sand.  I’ve done some grocery shopping, some reading, some cleaning, some laundry.  Orion is going to his day program bathed, dressed for the weather, and with a packed lunch.

I’ve kept up with my blog.  I’ve officiated at the coven’s Lammas circle.  I baked a pie.  What I haven’t done is pay the bills, return library books before they’ve become overdue, and turn in the end of the month time cards.  The lawn really needs mowing.  Weeding is not even on the list!

Daily practice for me is often my cue to pay attention to my choices.  It’s an opportunity for me to accept the responsibilities I’d rather avoid and reframe them as part of my spiritual practice.

Paying the bills may not seem like a particularly spiritual pursuit.  However, “a witch’s power is her word” so if I’ve incurred a debt that obligation is tied to my personal power.  I also recognize money as a form of energy, it ebbs and flows.  As I send it out I hope it will return three-fold (in value anyway).

Maintaining good financial practices does pay back.  I got a call from one of my creditors.  I’ve had a long-term relationship and always paid my bills on time.  They didn’t get a payment and wondered what happened.  I’m pretty sure I sent it, but maybe not.  In any case it’s taken care of now, and because of the history I wasn’t charged extra.

So I’d best get on my ritual gear.  I should pull out my magic wand (pen) and get writing.  Visa isn’t going to wait!


Dad is home and doing well.  Thank you for all the support and good wishes.

The bees are liking the bee balm

The bees are liking the bee balm

I have allergies.  I’ve been doing allergy shots for 5 years or so.  Things are definitely better, but there are still a few weeks each year where I have to pull out all the stops.  This is one of those weeks.  Because of that, sitting in an air-conditioned hospital was not the most horrible thing for me to be doing.

I’ve missed some pretty dramatic thunderstorms these past weeks.  Either I’ve slept so hard I didn’t hear them or, like the night the tornado sirens went off, the worst has passed me by.  I’ve been grateful not to need to water the garden as I run out the door in the morning.

The lawn hasn’t been mowed, but the truth of the matter is that given the allergy conditions I probably wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.  I often quip that breathing is over-rated, but the truth is I’m kind of attached to it.

On a good day I can hit the top.  On a bad day…….

On a good day I can hit the top. On a bad day…….

I’ve been watching Dad work the spirometer post surgery.   He’s a champ.  So the other day I got out mine, “just to check”.  When your 79-year-old father whose just had open heart surgery literally blows harder it’s definitely time to hit the inhaler.  I had to work hard to get my numbers above the “you should really consider taking yourself to the emergency room” line.

Despite the allergies, being back to our “normal” routine feels like taking a deep breath.  The list of things I’ve “put off tending to” is long, but doable.  Orion and I went to the movies this weekend (so I could avoid making dinner as this theater comes with a menu.) which was fun for both of us.

Dinner and a movie.  We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Dinner and a movie. We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Now it’s Monday.  Rather than grumble I’ll be grateful for a new week to start.  I’ll be grateful for the summer weather and flowers that are pretty even through the window.  I’ll be grateful that my family is all where they belong and doing well. And I’ll remember to breathe.


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