What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I was just starting out as a volunteer at the newly opened Gilda’s Club Twin Cities. I was blogging about my to-do list as I prepared for surgery.
Gilda’s Club, dedicated to the memory of Gilda Radner, is a welcoming community of support for anyone living with cancer, along with their families and friends. It’s a place where everyone is welcome, where no one faces cancer alone.
This year when we went to the Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Birthday celebration I participated in most of the events. Orion and I met some new friends, visited with old friends and enjoyed the Clubhouse atmosphere. I spent much of the day on my feet, and didn’t think anything of it.
The Clubhouse is really settling into itself. The gardens continue to expand, making lovely healing and meditative spots to just sit and enjoy the sunshine. There is the fairy garden, the new waterfall and picnic area (the first photo was taken there) and the healing fountain and gardens.
Last year the healing fountain was dedicated and Orion and I made stones for people we knew who had dealt with cancer. He made one for my Mom and I made some for friends I’ve lost to this pervasive disease. This year, unfortunately, there were more stones. Orion made one for me!
Inside the kitchen is often in use for classes or just the staff throwing something together for anyone who drops in. I decorated cupcakes and made Orion eat one, poor thing. I’ve attended several events in the kitchen this past year. (What can I say, if there’s food I’m more likely to show up – even now!)
The Expressive Arts Studio often displays projects members have created. That’s where we colored our stones for this year. It’s a great place to work out feelings through art. I’ve taken the Homemade Card Making class and had a lot of fun.
There was a lot of vibrational healing going on. We got to do a gong meditation in the Mind Body Studio. Orion and I also did some drumming in the Community Room. He’s pretty excited to show off his new rhythms the next time he gets to a drumming circle.
We participated in some short improvisation workshops put on by the folks from Brave New Workshop. Jenni Lilledahl, one of the owners of Brave New Workshop is also one of the founders of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities. It’s great to have their support. The workshops were a lot of fun.
The biggest change though is when I compare the family portrait Orion and I took last year to the one we took this year. My daughter was talking to old friends, catching up. When they asked about me she told them I was genuinely happy. Maybe I am. I’m certainly grateful that so much has changed.
I could choose to write about Father’s Day. I’m not worried about my father getting shot just going through his day. That’s Privilege. I could choose to write about the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year when the sun shines, illuminating things. Maybe I’ll just shine my light on a Difficult Topic, #BlackLivesMatter.
We are taught a very highly Edited version of history. I had no idea how important the AME church was, historically, until Obama started talking about it. I believe it is our personal responsibility to educate our selves on the things going on around us that the System would rather we ignore. This is not an easy task. It first requires an understanding that what we are taught isn’t the whole story.
The reason people who are educated in this area talk about systemic racism is because it is invisible and perpetuated by the system. This is not a new thing. I remember Kent State. The first time the National Guard opened fire on campus? No. The first time a white upper middle class student was killed. Yes.
I hear white people ask, “Why is it always about race?” Because when you have to live with it every day, you begin to realize it is inescapable. There is a reason that #BlackLivesMatter is not #AllLivesMatter. It is not because all lives shouldn’t matter, but because it’s clear that Black lives don’t.
There is a difference between not actively perpetuating the problem and helping to solve it. That difference starts with awareness. The things that are so common it’s easy not to even notice are often referred to as microaggressions.
Learning to recognize these in ourselves,
in the media, and in others is a big step towards simply validating the problem. Then the next step is to Speak Up.
I end where I started, encouraging self education. Each of these links takes you to places where you can hear different voices, and perhaps learn more. Additionally I recommend checking out my friend Crystal Blanton’s 30 Day Real Black History Challenge. She’s been doing this for several years so check out her archives as well.
Crystal was instrumental in the editing of the anthology Bringing Race to the Table:Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community. I have a small essay in that book, and I’m very proud to be a contributor. I recommend it to non-Pagans as well. The book is structured with a section on People of Color’s experiences, a section on History, and a section where ally’s speak. I think the material is widely applicable and sometimes it’s easier to hear if you have a little distance.
Thank you for reading.
Photos from Huffington Post
Those who are regular readers know that I have Karina staying with me unexpectedly this month. With Karina comes her dog, Minnie. There is a difference between “babysitting” for a weekend and having the dog come to live with you. I’m learning a lot.
One of the things I find interesting is how much I struggle with Mom vs Grandma. When I talk to Minnie about Karina, it’s Mom. When I talk to Minnie about me I stumble. I’ve still got Orion and I don’t have grandchildren (beyond the dog). I think I’m ready to be a grandma. (I’m not sure I’m ready for Karina to be a mom, and with Orion all bets are off.) But I clearly don’t think of myself that way. I wonder how many other people struggle with the words during that transition?
The other part of that is “Whose the Boss?”. Karina is gone, a lot. I’m home, in my house. On their own, Minnie would spend that time in her kennel. Here, since I’m moving about, that’s just not fair. So I have Minnie for much of the day, but she’s not my “responsibility”. That might be fine if she was a plant.
As it is, Minnie and I are constantly interacting. She wants to go out, her food bowl is empty, it’s hot and she needs water. She wants to play, she wants to cuddle, she wants to jump into my lap and jump out and jump back in. When I’m in the kitchen, or doing anything else, she’s under-foot. Even when she’s quiet, her presence napping on the couch while I type makes the atmosphere different than when she’s not around.
This weekend Karina spent some time in her room binging on The Lord of the Rings movies. Minnie, of course was with her. It occurred to me more than once to look up and wonder about where the dog was, and what she was getting into. I think I’ll miss them both when they go.
This morning I took Minnie for a walk. She’d spent a lot of the time in the kennel this weekend. She was really hyper and needed some exercise. It’s not my job to take the dog for a walk. I spent a lot of time not doing anything productive this weekend. I needed some exercise enough to notice that I hadn’t been getting any. The fact of the matter is that the walk was for me, but I wouldn’t have taken it without the dog.
It’s probably good to be doing this transition with a puppy rather than a baby. The “stepping on toes” doesn’t hurt quite as much this way. If Minnie was a baby, Karina would want to know when, what and how much she was eating (and what was coming out the other end.) Do I really have to tell her that I sneak Minnie bacon at breakfast?
Every year on their birthdays I write my kids a letter. I don’t think either of them have ever seen them. I’m not sure any of them are legible to a generation accustomed to typeface rather than sloppy cursive. They are tucked away in baby books and old photo albums and who knows where around the house.
Since today is Karina’s birthday it seemed appropriate to write this year’s letter here. The “photo essay” is for you guys, but the letter is for her.
Wow! This has been a year of unexpected changes and challenges for you. You continue to impress and amaze me with your ability to maintain a level head and make good decisions in the face of adversity.
I started your year out with the challenge of my bariatric surgery. Growing up with your brother, I know you have issues with spending time in the hospital. Even so, you stepped up for me. Your calm (eye rolling) reminders kept the surgeon from canceling the procedure all together. You celebrated the outcome and assured me you knew it was going to be fine all along.
Only you would have found the best way to manage your time while I was in the hospital was to include walking the puppy with your visits. You arranged to work through the system and get permission to bring Minnie in to visit. It was a treat to see her (and you) and I’m sure it got me released faster.
You were so stressed you quit a job, which was a good decision. It was definitely time to move on. But I know it was hard for you to regroup and decide what you wanted to do next. The ups and downs of early 20’s relationships didn’t make it easier. I’m not sure I did either, but I always believed you’d figure it out.
Then you took on the family dynamic and held Christmas at your house. Family holiday dinners are a huge undertaking for anyone. Given your family, and all its extensions, the potential for disaster was huge. You were determined. Everyone would show up, feel welcomed, and have good food that suited their dietary needs. It was impressive. I know that post party feeling of exhaustion and wondering if it was worth it. Now you know you really can do anything you set your mind to!
My having cancer and a second surgery threw you for a loop. It didn’t help that you were just starting a new job, that looks like a perfect career move. Again you managed to juggle all the pieces and perform above expectation. Karina’s Korner was launched to rave reviews and I managed to attend my birthday dinner with very reasonable portion accommodations.
This last month has been yet another challenge with moving, and then having the apartment you were moving to fall through. Most of the people I know would have spent a week crying under the covers. You picked up, kept packing, arranged for a storage space and have already found a new, new apartment. Chances are you’ll like this one better in the end.
This year begins for you with a fresh start. You and Minnie will be settled into your new place before the end of the month. You’ve left your 2nd job behind and moved to a full-time position in your career field. Your creativity and management skills are being utilized and challenged in productive ways. You are ready to shine.
I can’t tell you how proud and impressed I am by you this year. You have an astounding resiliency. You have learned a lot about yourself through these trials and have a new appreciation for your own independence. Even when you’re hurting you are kind, and generous, and dependable.
I love you so much! I only wish you the best for the coming year. May all the hard work you’ve done bloom into joy and fulfillment.
I skipped last week’s post. I’d like to say it was because I was in the garden. I was, some. Memorial Day weekend for us is typically cool and rainy, and this was no exception. It’s also a big gardening weekend. The tomatoes go in, now that we’re “safely” past the frost. We’ve got such a short season that delaying past Memorial Day means possibly no harvest.
This year Memorial Day was early and the season late. I order my plants from a company in Oregon. (Hoping that they’ll be climate ready when they arrive, which isn’t true if I order from a company in New Mexico!) I finally called them, seeing no sign of the plants “shipping date May 15th” I was wondering if they’d received my order! Apparently they are having unseasonable weather along with the rest of the country. The plants aren’t ready to be shipped.
Part of me appreciates the extra time. I’ve made comments about recovering my gardens from years of neglect. I won’t get it done this year, but I am making slow progress. One of my Facebook friends commented that she wanted to see photos – so that’s what this post is really about.
Hopefully my plants will arrive soon and I’ll have tomatoes before September!
I am incredibly fortunate to still have both of my parents within a days drive. With Mother’s Day just past I’ve watched many of my friends struggle with the grief of no longer having their Mom a phone call away. My folks aren’t as active as they once were. The three-hour drive means my Mom spends the next week “recovering”. Given my health ups and downs this last year, we haven’t seen as much of each other as we’d like.
When my Dad called and asked if Orion would be interested in participating in challenging a Guinness World Book record it seemed like a good opportunity to get in the car. My Dad and Orion have a history of doing interesting things together. Orion spent many summers attending Waldsee, a German language immersion village. Dad went along as his aide, his Opa. They still march together in the community parades when we visit in the summer. Being in the longest moving wheelchair line sounded like fun.
Orion and I went up on Friday. The “North woods” are pretty in the spring as the leaves come out on the birches. We had the afternoon to visit and dinner, but early to bed knowing Saturday was going to be a busy day. We sent Orion and Dad off to Grand Rapids, MN and Mom and I went to Brainerd. It’s a treat for me to spend the day alone with Mom, a treat for Orion to have a day with Opa, a treat for Mom to be able to run errands at her own pace, and Dad is always happy with an adventure.
We had a lovely, leisurely day. We did a little shopping. We went out for lunch. We picked up some ice cream to have with the rhubarb pie I made. We talked and reminisced and I got Mom looking for some old photos of her grandparents. She was still worn out by the end of the day, but in a good way.
Opa and Orion and some 349 other wheelchair users beat the record. Of course there’s a review process by the Guinness World Book people before it’s official, but Orion knows he’s a champion! I made Dad take photos of the event and I posted Orion’s number (101) on his wall.
A weekend isn’t a long enough visit, but it’s enough to touch base. I’m also grateful again that my parents are still here, and close enough to do just a weekend. We may meet for lunch again before Orion and I get back up to the “North woods”. That’s how we’ve managed these last 6 months when “I need to SEE how you are doing.” has been the theme.
Knowing how fragile these opportunities can be I am more motivated, more committed, to make sure they happen. If you still have your Mom or Dad, be sure to call them just to check-in and say “I love you.”
I need help.
That’s a really hard thing to say. It’s hard to admit it when I’m overwhelmed. It’s hard to need help and find there is none available. It’s hard to accept help without being able to give something back in return.
I’m doing “catch-up” on years of neglect in my house and in my yard. There is no way I can do it all. I’m puttering away at little jobs and hoping eventually I’ll get to the rest. But there’s always something new adding to that “to do” list.
This weekend I chose to ignore a “should”. I “should” have attended a public ritual. I’m on the board for the group that sponsored it. I “should” have gone to the planning meeting, offered to contribute, at least brought something for the pot-luck. I “should” have, and I pointedly did not.
Instead I stayed home and asked for help. This was when help was available so this needed to be when I was available to receive it. I don’t even feel bad for making this choice. It was necessary.
I didn’t take pictures. I didn’t document progress. I didn’t let anyone know until it was done.
My nephew and his family drove an hour and a half (each way) to spend a few hours doing hard labor in my yard. The gutters got cleaned out. The beds got raked. The liners got installed. The manure got spread around. The toddlers mostly stayed out of trouble. Everyone got fed. I said thank you so much, and they drove away.
So no, I don’t feel bad for neglecting the should. I feel incredibly grateful for the help and support. I feel fortunate to be able to “track” toddlers. I feel lighter knowing that some of those “too big” jobs have been taken care of. I feel loved.
It’s my sister who is the Mom here. It’s the mother of 2 toddlers (and a third who spent the day with his Dad) who manages to get the entire family packed up, in the car and still wield a rake; she is the Mom here. But I got a great mother’s day gift all the same.
My kids did not neglect me in any way. But Zac and Darcy went out of their way to help out because I said I needed it. I can’t say thank you enough.
This year when I think about fertility rituals I am also recognizing the impact of my recent hysterectomy. I’ve always been happy to include new beginnings and creative endeavors in my fertility rituals. This year required a little more depth of thought.
I have been blogging about reclaiming my garden spaces. It really has been a long time since I’ve worked in some of them. I’m grateful for the things that continue to come up, in spite of the total neglect. That persistence is part of my understanding of fertility. The strong desire to live, and to thrive.
There’s also an appreciation for the new. The first flowers, the baby peas, and planting the annuals are all a part of spring awakening. When the trees start to blossom it’s like fireworks. The allergens may make my head a little “thick”, but my heart opens up. Even the dandelions make me smile.
As I’m digging in the ground it occurs to me that fertile earth is ready. It’s full of potential, ready to accept and nurture whatever I may choose to plant. It is willing to be willing. I think this year that’s my challenge.
I’ve been through a lot, and it’s time to move forward. It’s time to open up and accept whatever is offered. It’s about being ready, being willing to be willing. Hopefully all this new growth around me will inspire me to continue to take chances and accept the challenges and opportunities life throws my way.
Previous blogs about Beltane and the first of May:
Last weekend my daughter and I went to New York City. We both needed a vacation. You might recall I had surgery rather than going on my last one. I could do a travel-log blog. I could carry on about all the amazing food we ate. But the best part of this trip for me was celebration how different things are from the last time Karina and I went to NYC – 4 years ago.
I had my 9 month visit with the bariatric surgeon before we left for the airport. I am essentially at my post surgery goal weight! All the more reason for me to notice how much is different in my life. I had a goal (from February) to sit in a plane seat and buckle the seatbelt without an extender. Not only did I do that, but I was capable of sitting in an exit row!
The last time we were in NYC it was pretty early to bed. I wasn’t sleeping well and I tired easily. This time we got settled into the hotel by 10 and Karina was ready to go out on the town. She opted for salsa dancing and I was game to tag along. I even managed a dance or two.
One of the things that amazed me from this trip was not just how much I walked, but how willing I was to walk. Last time even walking to the subways was often too much, and we’d flag a cab. This time I wouldn’t bother to get on the subway if where I was heading was just the next station. I’d walk. Last time I couldn’t even go through the turnstiles. I was too big. This time I only struggled when I had to climb up 3 flights of stairs.
One of our “must do’s” on this trip was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We did it before, stopping to rest several times along the way and flagging a cab as soon as we stepped into Brooklyn to take us to Grimaldi’s Pizza (just under the bridge). This time we started at Grimaldi’s and then walked.
We crossed the bridge in less than ½ the time we’d taken before – in spite of the crowds. Not only did we walk across the bridge, but we continued to walk down to Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial. Exhausted with sore feet by the time I got on the train, but exceptionally proud of the accomplishment.
We did plenty of other things as well. We went to some Broadway shows. We spent an evening at Comic Strip Live. We had a fabulous dinner at Felidia. Karina spent a day at Coney Island while I shopped and took in a matinée of It’s Only A Play.
We snuck in another show together, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. We even went on a walking tour!
It was a grand trip and a great way to celebrate hitting that post surgery goal. I’ve got a way to go in terms of the new life-style. There was a lot of leftover food in the hotel room when we departed! My eyes are still bigger than my stomach, and exercise isn’t going to come as naturally at home. Even so, this trip may serve as a kick-start. If nothing else it will help me remember what I am capable of doing.
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!