Saturday, December 31, 2011

Visions of Body Dysmorphia

I have come to believe that Body Dysmorphic Disorder plagues most of us. I'm too heavy/thin, short/tall, young/old. Polarized and not fitting the person staring back at in the mirror, we either don't want to look, or spend hours changing the physical self. Dysmorphia is fed by Seventh Avenue ads of beauty and impossibility. Indeed, Photoshop has created the impossibly perfect and now we expect reality to conform...just take a look at Youtube. Think about it, how many people actually feel comfortable in their own skins? Even those of us who recognize we are not defined by skins find it easier to like our spiritual selves than our physical selves.

I lost 55 pounds this year. But when I look in the mirror I see a still overweight, size 22 middle aged woman with the beginnings of smile creases and eye crinkles. I see a body marked by a difficult journey, limited by too many hours in an office job, grad school and doing therapy. And most of my friends echo my challenges with body image. Gender challenges, weight challenges, the wear and tear of arthritis, diabetes, fill in the blank.

Put that thought on on the back burner.

This is a quote from one of what is quickly becoming a favorite author, Susan Howatch. She explores spirituality in the Episcopal Church of England in a series of six books. I've read them out of order, having begun the with the last first. I'm currently reading GLAMOROUS POWERS. It's the story of a monk with a vision that leads him to leave his current calling for something undefined but promised by his psychic powers during a vision. About half way through the book, he attempts to explain what it is like to have a vision:

      "All I know for certain is that I step out of time as we understand it where the past is always behind us and future is still to come."
      "Miss Fielding said suddenly: "It must be like escaping a prison. Isn't it strange how unaware people are of being locked up in time?"
      "You find an unconscious awareness of this in the widespread longing to be immortal. Yet isn't it equally strange, when one remembers that we're also locked up in space, that no one seems to long to be ubiquitous?"

As our character Father Darrow reminds us, we normally perceive ourselves as walking a time line from birth to death, moving inexorably in the direction of death from the moment life begins. Most "mogals" or "mundanes" see this as the inevitability of life.

But what if we really are light beings trapped in a temporary, corporeal existence for the purpose of growth.  What if the only way for a light being to experience the rumble of cat's purr, the sensuality of their fur on fingertips, the devotion in their eyes is to come to Earth, the learner planet, clad in skins of water and bone.

Mayhaps our longing for immortality is the spirit's awareness of the flesh's impermanence and reminder that this stage, many times repeated, is still only temporary. And perhaps, just maybe, this powerful sense of dysmorphia is more than Seventh Avenue's lure. Maybe it is our soul deep awareness that we are something more than the flesh. And that no matter how physically perfect the body becomes, the matching of the corporeal to the spirits is, in the end, impossible.

Let's grab another burner.

That stated, do I believe we should struggle any less with these bodily "temples" to seek a more perfect union of flesh and spirit? My answer is that it depends.

Certainly our physical manifestations on this planet determine identity, how we are perceived, and how we define ourselves. Male. Female. Transgender. Androgynous. Each word comes with a judgement, a cultural value, and definition of self and other.

Moreover, I would never suggest my beloved partner, who is transgendered, should not seek to more clearly align the outer expression of self with the inner sense of identity. It determines which bathroom he/she uses. How others see our coupleness. Whether or not we or he is safe.

So bringing the pots together, the front burner and the back.

I don't believe that everyone has dysmorphia to the extent of a needful diagnosis and treatment. I do think the current focus created by media on the physical distracts light beings from our purpose on this planet. We are here to experience the purr, the fur, the doubt, the fear and the joy of living. We are here to engage our challenges and grow. Sometimes necessary changes leads to the loss of 55 pounds or the transition of gender. Sometimes the physical drives us so profoundly that until that pain is addressed, we cannot get on with our purpose.

Let's stir the pot.

Middle age has come as a rude awakening for me. Despite the roundness of my curves, I've always gotten by on a great complexion, an ability to flirt, an innate sexuality that made the men notice. I changed it all in the last ten years. A substantial weight gain, a shift in pheromones, a iron control over my sexuality has completely shifted how I relate to the world. Menopause has made the shift easier, light on the night sweats and bringing relief to no longer have 10-12 day periods.

Then my complexion shifted. I suddenly started breaking out. Badly. My skin wasn't just splotchy. I had those teenage zits that make people notice. I work in a substance abuse treatment center where such acne is associated with opiate abuse. People kept asking if I was okay. The morning a middle aged gentleman asked, out of deep and caring concern, what was wrong with my face, I realized my appearance was getting in the way of being able to do therapy. No matter the inner work of my journey and my struggle to be comfortable in the flesh, my physical appearance was interrupting the therapeutic process, leading to personal inquires in place of the professional. I find that to be unacceptable.

I turned to the internet. I viewed a teenage model's videos on makeup application. I spent $40 I didn't have at WalMart. For an hour I searched the aisles for the secrets of success. I finally had to admit I have middle age skin in need of real coverage, not that light kid stuff. And I need primer (am I painting a house?). I settled for Drew Barrymore meets Elen Degeneres in the Cover Girl aisle. To my disgust, it worked perfectly. Every single day, I do mean every day, I have had compliments on my appearance ranging from the polite "you look radiant/pretty/really good" to the crass "your makeup is flawless."

Grrrrr.... Just like when I lost 55 pounds and my hips no longer met both sides of my chair (yes, clients have admitted to noticing), I'm judged by appearance. And no matter how pretty the make up, I still don't see the physical matching what's in my head.

Leaving the pot to simmer.

In an ideal world, I suppose the answer is balance. But balance still doesn't allow my partner to go to the male bathroom or erase the pimples from my cheeks. Sigh.

This is where I remind myself it truly is the learning planet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunday Casserole

It's very strange for me to plan to serve a casserole for my in-laws every Sunday. It dominates the day to drive all the way to their home and serve a meal, and some part of me does so grudgingly because so many things wait at home to be done. My Mondays and Tuesdays are very long, leaving me exhausted the start of every week, so lining up another exhausting day can be overwhelming. And yet I find myself planning the meals with great delight. Funny how sharing food brings people together.

A favorite gay boy recently said to me, "Aging is not for the faint of heart." As I count my increasing gray hairs (few enough I can still count) and watch my knees wear with each passing year, I can't help but concur. Makes me incredibly aware of how fragile our parents grow. End of life issues creep in, one year at a time, and I know we have little time left.

So this week it's going to be Johnnie Marzetti and NILLA Tiramisu Cookie Balls. I actually wanted to make the tiramisu last week, but didn't have all the ingredients. So I made Oreo Balls instead, which are deadly sweet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I have to admit, this college professor sums up the movement for me. I work for Scrouge, who bought an island in the Bahamas last winter and spends several weeks there every so often. Meanwhile, I don't have health insurance but do have paid time off. I have three weeks a year, the same amount of time my boss spent in the Bahamas during the winter last year. Of course, he went back a few more times, but who is counting?

Sentimentally, I am with the movement. And it is those who stand up and object that change of the system. But I can't help wondering if the movement is actually the pawn of those who are orchestrating change for their own profit. I watch the grass roots protests springing up across the country. I watch the nonviolence and remember the '60s... Indeed, for the last several years I have been acutely aware that history cycles and that it was time for another generation of protests. When I heard about the beginning of the movement, I knew "this is it." But I watch the news, the financial markets, other similar protests in other countries, and I wonder.

A friend pointed out the other day that it's easy to infiltrate such a non-organized group and be the one arrested, the one in the media, the one people remember. And I wonder.

Nevertheless, I stand behind the ideals of the movement. I watch Scrooge drive his extended cab pick-up truck with satellite feed and I struggle to pay my bills, wish I had medical insurance, wrote the check for new glasses and resented not having vision insurance. Partner's benefits four paid for Cameron's last hip and I wonder how we'll pay for the other one now that he can barely walk...And I wonder.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Afternoons at Grandma's

I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana until we moved to Arkansas when I was ten. I remember two things the most from those years: the humidity and going to my Mammaw's. As a kid, I always sensed tremendous tension between the parental units and my grandparents, but had no clue as to the problem. I was of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wanted to go, be free of my mother's craziness, to be in a place that smelled of yeast rolls and sugar cookies. On the other hand, my grandmother's silences, hard work, and distance from emotion created a difficult, unnerving environment. I was pretty sure she loved me, but I never seemed to live up her exacting standards. Poppaw was easy. He just loved me. The warm crinkles of his eyes stays with me to this day. As a teen, Mammaw's neighbor, of no relation but called Mammaw Haynes, explained that sometimes love is doing. Rhubarb pie, blackberry jelly, and strawberry jam meant love. Hmmm... I'm a compulsive over eater. Go figure.

These stones used to literally just be lay
out in the fields. Folks gathered them for
fences and the outside of houses.
We were expected for Sunday dinner every week. My grandfather bought the one room house when he married Mammaw. Year by year he added rooms, using Indiana limestone on the outside. Eventually my Mammaw had a three bedroom, two bathroom home with a formal dining room where the family gathered on Sundays. Because I often spilled jelly on the Sunday tablecloth, I had waxed paper under my plate. It was convenient to draw on with the blunt end of my fork while dinner plates were removed and rinsed, and desert was brought to the table.

A year or so before we moved, things changed. In later years I heard stories of my grandmother's meddling and intrusiveness. I'll never really know how much was Daddy's resistance to anyone having a say over my mother and me. Or how much was my mother's mental illness. Or how much was religion, when daddy took mother and me from the family Methodist church where I sat between my parents or grandparents on Sundays, to the austerity of the Church of Christ. I certainly enjoyed Mammaw's yeast rolls over the cafeteria food and conversation of those church people on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, that year or two before we moved to Arkansas were the only years I remember my parents being social. My mother went to the hospital once or twice for her "nervous stomach" but she was relatively stable and we as a family seemed normal to the outside world.

When we moved to Arkansas I mourned yeast rolls and rhubarb pie. I didn't miss the coldness and the undertones of the house. But I dreaded, when I went back two weeks in the summer, returning to Arkansas where things had gotten really crazy. I tried, desperately, to tell my grandparents how wrong things were. I gave up when I was instructed to stop talking bad about my mother. Now I suspect that my grandparents couldn't tolerate their own powerlessness.

Put those thoughts on back the burner.

For the last two Sundays, Cameron and I have been going to church and then taking food to her parents since her father broke his shoulder. I am a convenience freak, and would not normally get up early on a Sunday morning to prepare a casserole before church to carry it to a family member. Hell, I wouldn't normally have a family member to carry a casserole dish to. Let's be honest, the parental units are 700 miles away, as is the youngest son. The eldest son doesn't speak to me. So Cameron's family is the nearest family I have.

Put that on the back burner.

Last night Cameron and I attended dinner and the theatre as guest of his brother and sister-in-law. Every year we pick the show, and as a Christmas present they take us out. Last night we saw Foxfire, which is about family and one's land, and roots. It struck deeply for me. I have no roots. They were torn from the ground and shaken when I was ten, poisoned by mental illness and over thirty moves in my lifetime. My family is distant, divided, or deceased. Yet there I sat with my partner and adopted family, accept and loved.

Put it all together and stir the pot.

Family Reunion
Cameron is in the shorts, I'm in the yellow shirt
On our way home this evening, I realized how much I miss what might have, should have, or imperfectly was. Aunts, uncles and cousins that gathered at those Sunday dinners. Forth-of-July family reunions and wedding anniversaries. Cameron's family has graciously given those gifts back to me. Last summer we gathered -- check out the picture. Huge family gathering and the only person not entirely aware of our "gayness" was Cameron's dad, who chooses not to acknowledge it. Cam and I are conspicuously together on the left side.

So going to church today, taking the in-laws food, was a delightful echo of years gone by. The should have, could have, would have of the past coalesced into something imperfect but beautiful, treasured and delightful. I actually spent the week planning the menu: veggie pie, slow cooked chicken, Saltine Toffee and Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies.

I'm feeling daring. I think next week will be Sunday Sausage, Apple, and Cheese Strata and I want to try NILLA Tiramisu Cookie Balls.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cat and Kittens

This video is public on facebook. I watched it three times! LOL

Cat and Kittens

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Change of Perspective and a Journey through Time

The view from my new desk

Amazing what a change in perspective can do. Of course, in my case, it took two months, being shoved into a dark office and the loss of a window to realize how oppressive a 4 ft x 10 ft office can be. Previously, I could not stand without my chair hitting the wall. I had a double door which clients referred to as the barn door. The connotations are not good.

To the left of my desk

The first class I took when I started this journey was Pastoral Therapy, so I thought of therapy as sacred from the very beginning. I often tell my client that we create sacred space together to experience their growth and change. So now I bring sacredness to this office, with several of Cameron's paintings. Above is a collage she created that expresses both pagan and Christian iconography. I love the drawing together of disparate and yet similar imagery. It's a powerful representation of both mine and Cameron's spiritual paths. Also pictured is a cross stitch Serenity Prayer. I created it for the boy's father, who handed it back when we divorced. It's dated 1983, the year before the I gave birth to my first son and married his father. I love the way it symbolically brings forward who I was and the beginnings of my path. I was 20 years old, about to divorce and remarry. Pregnant. Confused and filled with fear. I hadn't even found the 12-step programs yet, but I was drawn to the prayer. It hung in the boy's father's house above the television in the living room for four years, until we divorced, too. Mercy, I was a damaged child then. Much like my clients.

Entering my office:
my desk, cross stitch universe, and credentials 

When you enter my office, this is what you see. It's a huge desk! I love it! Behind, on the walls, are my credentials and a cross stitch of the universe, completed in 1995. I was 32. Married for the fourth time. I had already been widowed, David buried in the military cemetery in Arlingtonville, Ga. I was in graduate school for the first time and dreaming of tenure and teaching English on the college level. I never dreamed I wouldn't graduate, but would use the theories I was learning as the theoretical foundation of Converse's marriage and family therapy program.

To the right of my desk; I have a window!!!!

And of course, my window! Someone else's client stepped in moments ago to congratulate me on my new office. He doesn't know me, has no idea of my sexual orientation, but said, "I'm so glad they let you out of the closet!"

As I write this, I added the second part of the title. All week I've been thinking of my office as a reflection of my journey. From Arkansas to South Carolina. From broken marriages to an eight year commitment that will last my lifetime. From loss and darkness, from feeling confined in a small space, to the largest office of the building. To a feeling of expansiveness and possibility. Certainly, we still dream of Portland. I feel my future clients calling me. But the journey just got a whole lot more pleasant.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Whew! The weekend after the trip

Arriving home after lunch on Sunday, and then going right back to work on Monday, is a challenge. I go to Safe Homes/Rape Crisis Coalition on Mondays and Tuesdays after work, so I didn't arrive home until late on both days. By Wednesday, it was crash and burn. I got home, fell over in bed, and woke long enough to eat and go to bed. If I have ever hated waking for work at 3:30 in the morning, it's this week!

Monday was especially difficult because my head space was still in Arkansas. It was an extraordinary, transformative week. The joy and ease of staying with my son and his wife was amazing. While I had emotional flashback in preparing to see the parents, yet the visits went well and had their own beauty.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the week was missing my wife. But even that missing had an unexpected joy. I've known for many years the solidity of our relationship. I've long since yielded the fear and doubt and limits of relationships through the sheer constancy of Cameron's love. Indeed, Cameron has demonstrated unfailing love for me, bring profound healing to my life. We've not often been apart, and never for so many days. Arriving home was sweet. I had missed her terribly: )

So it's a quiet weekend. Home made pizza tonight, chicken wings and roasted potatoes last night. Now we lounge on the bed, watching the food channel. At one point we counted 17 cats on the bed. Nevertheless, it's a quiet, beautiful night and I am blessed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One Final Guest Blog Post by Cameron...."Going to Arkansas..."

Grace Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver and I have been talking off and on via cell phone and computer chat all week long during her trip to Arkansas. (of course, given the state of the cell phone connection, at least half of the conversations have been one of us screaming "CAN YOU HEAR ME?!?"  while the other one was saying "You sound like you're sitting right next to me, clear as bell, are you there?" *sigh*) Any way, she has asked me to write out some thoughts about her trip in our discussions. After some thought, I decided, to make it a guest post for her on her own blog. I can link it to mine. And I have permission to tell parts of her story.

First of all, never ever forget this. Dreamweaver is brave. Brave and heroic! Every trip to Arkansas carries with it bittersweet pain, co-mingled with nightmare. She is only just beginning to build a body of memory that has joy and happiness associated with "going to Arkansas".  The entire state is one great big PTSD  trigger for her; returning to it is always an act of courage and faith.

She was born in Indiana and then uprooted as a child to Arkansas away from family, her church and all she had ever known by events beyond her control - she only learned some of the truths behind that event so long ago on this trip, in conversation with her father. Her mother has schizophrenia...there is no way to over estimate the collateral damage this illness can cause in a child's life when a parent has this illness. Her mother, (let it be pointed out, only because of the grip of the illness, its paranoia and the voices in her head), neglected, abused and communicated to her only daughter that she, Dreamweaver, was not wanted. Was not loved. That she should not have existed. Her mother withheld love and affection, often acting as if Dreamweaver did not exist, even to the point of withholding food. There was no stability in that house. Rules changed. Permission to do the smallest thing would be given and rescinded hours later, harsh punishment always followed. Dreamweaver learned to live without a hard and fast reality. Learned that rules were not to be trusted. Learned that nothing was ever safe. And as she grew up, Arkansas,  with its deeply abusive conservatism and unspoken unreasonable societally constructed "rules" became hell on earth. No matter what she did, she could never get it right. No matter what she did, nothing ever made sense. There was no hard and fast ground to stand on, any where.

She fled Arkansas and her first short unwanted marriage (her mother literally forced Dreamweaver to marry the young man she was then dating, though Dreamweaver did not want to). She was then her late teens, with no concept of what a normal life was or how to function in the "real" world. And the real world, as it does so many of us, chewed her up and spit her out. She returned shattered and broken to Arkansas, remarried, had two sons. There is a lot of this story I am not telling, because its her story to tell...but I am going to focus on a certain part of the story, with her permission, in this post. Her second husband was a complicated problem. He was a good man as best he knew how to be. He was funny and he loved his sons....but he was also chronically depressed, an unambitious man who would only ever have a high school education and a low paying factory job in one factory his whole life, and his wit could and did turn sarcastic and cruel. He was so far out of his league being married to Dreamweaver, that I can sometimes muster up some pity for him.

 Dreamweaver is stunningly intelligent, she wanted more than dirt ignorance and a lonely house, a community that rejected her, and a factory or cashier job in perpetuity. She struggled with her past. She had to commit her mother to institutionalized care during those years, because her father would not step up to the plate and deal with the situation. She struggled with rejection, never fitting in any where, in their church or community. She also struggled with the beginnings of chronic life long depression, and then further, with post-postpartum depression on top of that after the birth of her second son. She struggled to parent two small active children, with no skills, no help, no way to know how to be a parent; when all she had ever known of parenting herself was abuse and mistreatment, passed down through generations of dysfunctional families. She feared desperately her own temper, her own lack of understanding or knowledge, her isolation, and lack of parenting skills. She did her best, and all the while, her soon to be Ex husband, either could not or would not give her the support, the care, the kindness, the understanding she needed to survive and escape her past. He loved her...but he did not love her unconditionally, he could not connect the dots between her past hell and her present struggle. He judged and he cut her with his words, driving her further into depression and shame.

And lets be honest - Dreamweaver struggled with a temper, that was created by and complicated by PTSD triggers, and damaged attachment from her childhood. She had no way to self soothe, or to understand how the effects of her abusive childhood were shattering her ability to manage relationships. There is no way around the fact that she was not easy to live with...but she knew too, that something wasn't right. At one point, pleading for help, struggling with Post-partum depression on top of her already desperate situation, she called DSS on herself, terrified of her own behaviors and temper. DSS, got her a baby sitter for one afternoon, sent her to the mall for a few hours, and closed the case. Not, as you might guess, a lot of help there...

And of course, this marriage ended. And Dreamweaver gave the care and custody of her children to her Ex, terrified of and fleeing the possibility that she would pass on to them the damage done to her by her mother, and dysfunctional past. She struck out to make something of herself, to have a career  and a life and to afford more for her children someday in the future, when things might someday be better.

She wanted college, and a world where education and a career made a difference. Today she holds a BA, an MA, an EDS, and is a liscenced therapist working in her field and seeking to build a private practice. She began back then by entering college in Indiana. Her marriage with Ex may have ended...but of course, when you have children together, like it or not, you must continue to co-parent. To be in a relationship  with the person you have divorced. The Ex stayed in Arkansas, with the boys; Dreamweaver went to college, looking out and up. She earned her BA in English in Indiana, and during that time, she dated men, but never looked for more than friendship and fun. School was her main focus and passion. She traveled endless miles to see her sons, and beggared herself financially to bring them to her for visitation, all the while struggling with the endless guerrilla warfare of the Ex, who resented her and her involvement in her own sons lives. She would arrive in Arkansas, for her scheduled time with her sons, to find "plans" made that prevented her from being with them, or circumventing what she had planned to do with them. She dealt constantly with manipulation, and shortened visits, and spiteful behavior from her Ex, and legally she probably could have called him on it in the courts, if she had known how the system worked, how it was being played against her.

Her relationship with her parents remained strained at best, but she did see them, off and on, and so did the grandchildren, Dreamweaver's sons.During those years she remarried once again, and then was widowed, which was a shattering event unto itself. And now we come to something that happened that was to nearly destroy Dreamweaver. She was dating/friends with an Indian man - Indian as in India, the country, not the American indigenous people - who also knew the kids, and spent time with them when he could. Their relationship caused difficulties for them when they were in Arkansas - he was very dark skinned, and they were taunted with racists slurs and bigotry; at one point they were very nearly run off the road by another car for being an interracial couple. Dreamweaver considered him a friend more than a boyfriend, though they were dating. She  kept the relationship very circumspect, especially when the children were visiting her. And then disaster struck...Indian had a car wreck. He was alone in the car, no one was with him; the kids who were up visiting, were with Dreamweaver, elsewhere.

And out of the blue, the next time she went to Arkansas to pick up her children at their school, she was presented with a restraining order denying her ability to see them, alleging endangerment by allowing them to be in the car with a man not she was not married to, and allegedly involving them in the wreck - which they were not! they were never anywhere near the wreck - and calling for her appearance in court to most likely lose her visitation rights. It was a cobbled up lie, complete fiction,  and it was about to cost her her children. And underneath it boiled the societal prejudices against non-custodial mothers, and interracial dating. Horrified, she sought a lawyer and set out to endure the separation from her children, struggling to prepare for the court. In the end, the legal advice she was given was brutally simple...if you ever want to see your children again, even though none of this is your fault, and none of it really happened, you and Indian must get married. Its your only choice, your only hope,your only chance, she was told, because due to cultural prejudice and small town politics, you will not win this one. If you and he are legally married, then it becomes null and void. Stunned, heartsick and exhausted, Dreamweaver complied, marrying Indian, before the court date, even though she did not really want to. Every instinct she had warned her that this was not what she should do. And it was her only choice, or otherwise she would not see her sons again for over a decade.  (this made Arkansas legal history btw; the laws were amended after what happened to her so that restraining orders could never again be served to a parent on school grounds, which is what happened to her when she went to pick up her sons on that horrible day.)

The courts case crumbled, and years later Ex apologized for the harm he  had done by pushing the flawed and illegal case at the behest of an ambitious and hungry lawyer. (little did he know, for he knows nothing of what really happened after.)  Her youngest son, the Enlightened One,  shaken by the obvious lies, and by not seeing her for so long, requested to change custody to her care; he was too young to legally make the choice to go live with her...but her older son, The Marine, was old enough to petition the courts. And so they moved in with her, later, when she came to live in Atlanta with Indian.

But now, Dreamweaver was married to Indian. And her instinct that she really didn't want to marry him proved out to be fatally right. Indian turned out to be her darkest nightmare. Ex was a confused, narrow, judgmental man, a product of white patriarchal  male Arkansas culture at its most bigoted narrowest, but he tried to love Dreamweaver - he just no more had the skills to be in a relationship then  she did, at the time. He did and does love his sons... but Indian was an honest-to-god Sociopath, for real, with no conscience or morality to speak of. His intent from the beginning had been Dreamweaver's destruction, and once he married her, as carelessly cruel as a cat playing with an injured mouse, he set out to ruin her, and perhaps even end her life. And he nearly succeeded. Those years I will not tell - that is Dreamweaver's tale to tell, should she ever so desire to. And I am not sure this blog is the appropriate place to tell that part of her story. Those were her darkest years and they became a horror. Suffice to say, she survived...broken and wounded beyond telling, but survived. Taking the advice of an alarmed and determined therapist who told her, "if you don't get out, that man will kill you", she finally fled the relationship

And in the very end she went on to thrive, but those intervening years cost her dearly. Fleeing Indian, vulnerable and wounded,  struggling alone in Atlanta with two children to now provide for, she stumbled into one final last bad relationship with yet one more cruel man. And that wound up costing her everything she had fought so hard to save - her home, her finances, her spiritual community. And part of what she lost in the end was her children after all. Shaken by the damage of the last man's manipulative evil, her now teenaged children fled back to Arkansas. The Enlightened One would not speak of what happened, though he told his mother "you were right" as he left. The Marine, bitter, deceived by the last man's machinations, and as judgmental as his own father, broke off his relationship with his mother altogether.  It would be years before Dreamweaver would ever hear from either of her sons - and then only sporadically from The Enlightened One, despite his love for her.  The Marine remains cut off from us, denying us the ability to see and know our grandchildren. Those years were agony for her. And Arkansas became the nightmare of her memories.

I want to add here, that I was there for part of this. I saw Indian from a distance. I knew Dreamweaver back then, and the man she was with in the final relationship. I saw his lies and manipulation and was even deceived myself by them for a short time. I saw it all come apart, and helped Dreamweaver move out of her condo when she lost it, into her best friends basement. I was ring side to the unraveling revelation of just how manipulative this man was, destroying not only Dreamweaver's life and hopes, but also a local church youth group as its youth minister (lying about credentials he did not have). When she needed a new start, I opened my home to her in another state, little knowing that our friendship would blossom into love and marriage. So, I can attest to the brutal truths of what Dreamweaver has survived.

Two years ago, the Enlightened One invited us to his wedding to Scientist, the incredibly beautiful and talented  young woman he had met in college. And so, for the first time in 12 years, Dreamweaver returned to the land of her nightmares, back to Arkansas, for her son's wedding and to see her parents. That trip, two years ago, is told HERE in my blog, one of its earliest posts. It is worth reading to put this post and Dreamweaver's past 10 days in Arkansas in perspective. While we were there for that trip, we made a stunning alarming discovery that changed EVERYTHING Dreamweaver knew, or thought she knew about the events leading up to the restraining order and her marriage to Indian. We still don't talk about it much, but it changed the fabric of the landscape of her life forever, based on what her dad told her. I think we are verging on talking about it at last and exploring what it means.

So,two years ago, on that first trip back, we had been talking to her father about the past, touching very high level on that time, when she married Indian and the lawsuit against her. And he told us what REALLY happened. Shortly before Dreamweaver was presented with the restraining order on the school grounds that fateful day she went to pick up her kids, her sons were in Arkansas visiting with Dreamweaver's parents - their grandparents. The kids were suppose to stay overnight, and then Dreamweaver was to take them home to their father, the Ex. However, unbeknownst entirely to Dreamweaver, Ex called her father in high handed dungeon and demanded that the kids come home right then. Dreamweaver, aware of her precarious position as a non-custodial parent, would have taken the kids home, if she had gotten the call. It had happened before. However, her Father, who did not and does not like Ex, developed a nice case of stubborn male mulishness, and flatly and pointedly refused to allow Ex to get his kids before the appointed time. They fought about it, with Ex hanging up, furious and seeing  red, determined to Do Something About This. And the next time Dreamweaver, all unknowing went to pick her sons up at school, she was confronted with that restraining order and the court case.

So....Ex's "Something" turned out to be seeking out a lawyer for advice, who saw - I presume - a shaky "legal" maneuver to deny Dreamweaver's custody rights, based on Indian's car wreck.  We suddenly for the first time ever, knew why it happened. Realized that due to her father's insensitive, unilateral handling of a very tense situation,  that Dreamweaver nearly lost her sons, her sanity was nearly destroyed, her life endangered, and the circumstances that led to her kids cutting her off were laid in train. And, her father, told the story to us with an oblivious disregard for the consequences of his actions - he knew that the marriage with Indian ended badly, if not the whole story, and yet there is no apology or sorrow for what his actions eventually cost Dreamweaver. Instead, all he seemed to see is that he got the better of Ex, in not letting the children go home. I find this disturbing, profoundly so. If something I had done had caused such devastating long range effects on someone's life, particularly someone I loved, I would be down on my knees in horror begging forgiveness! Instead all her father seems to be able to see is that he was "righteously right" and won the argument with Ex. And I doubt he will ever see it in any other light, given his general patriarchal sense of self entitlement.

It is almost incomprehensible to me that Dreamweaver survived these years at all. And they took their toll on her, in ways that still haunt her to this very day. But survive she did. And more then merely "survive". She is thriving! She went on, and over came the damages done to her psyche, learned how to love, how to be in relationship, how to function in ways she never dreamed of and had never experienced. This incredible, beautiful woman who is my best friend, my partner, my wife, has become so much more then the "sum of her parts", overcoming a life time of abuse that would have - should have killed her. She is loving, and strong, gentle and kind. And if she still has occasional bad moments, when memories, and fears trigger her old temper and PTSD rises up, she also masters those moments, trusting in love, and her own inner truths to over come them. She did what she set out to do...she broke the legacy of abuse and shattered attachments and did not pass them on to her sons. Enlightened One and Marine are both happily married, strong loving men who care deeply for their families, and if both of them carry some personal baggage from those years, still they did not endure what Dreamweaver endured - she stopped the legacy of abuse from passing down to yet another generation.

So going back to Arkansas for her is a heroic task. This trip was especially unnerving, as for the first time she returned alone, without my support and comfort by her side. Every time she returns, old horrors and memories struggle up from the past to ride her shoulder and try to darken her heart. And now, every time she returns, slowly but surely reconciling with her parents, enjoying the rich happy relationship of love, joy and  laughter she is building with Enlightened One and Scientist, renewing old friendships, she is creating new memories. These new experiences are a journey towards a new future for her with her family, new hopes and new dreams. She dreams of  being a grandmother in truth to Enlightened One and Scientist's children some day; she has already had one unbelievable dream come true she never expected to hear - her mother saying "I always wanted a daughter", speaking from beyond the illness that hid that all those years.

Arkansas will always be bitter sweet for her - difficult and charged with old horror. But I believe that someday, these new moments of love and hope will allow the sweet to begin to outweigh the bitter.

And I am honored to be in Dreamweaver's life, to be a part of her journey, to know and understand the message her life holds for us. And that message is that even though the past can never be forgotten, the affects of a life time of pain and sorrow do not have to rule our lives. That there is always hope. That change is always possible. And that now abide faith, hope and love - and that the greatest of these is love. Thank you Dreamweaver. I love you with all my heart!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Second Guest Post by Cameron - the Bridges in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Dreamweaver just crossed over the new bridge in Chattanooga....there are 3 bridges here; the old suspension bridge in the fore ground, a foot bridge, and then the new bridge in the distance.

 Walnut St. Foot bridge

The new bridge that Dreamweaver drove over.

She spoke with an individual who had driven an 18 wheeler over the old suspension bridge - it was so narrow, he said, that you sorta squinted and held your breath squeezing across it. She is not far from Atlanta now where she stops for the night, where Fiber Geek will be treating her to some rest, use of a hot shower, sushi and beer!  Wish I could be there! But she'll be home tomorrow! Yay! She will have more of her own pictures to post then too, instead of pictures I could find.

Guest post by Cameron....

Dreamweaver is on the way home,and coming through Nashville, Tenn! She said the skyline is beautiful, and the blue sky is brilliant...unable to stop to get pictures,though. So I found this to give an idea of where she is.

Nashville, Tennessee.
I really, really miss her and I will be glad when she gets home!!!!

Returning to SC

I've awakened early today. My son and his wife still sleep, and I've slipped into the living room to spend a few minutes in reflection. In a few hours I will bid my son and his wife goodbye and begin the journey back to my "normal" life. As always, this journey has been tranqformative. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Debbie, who had been my best friend from seventh grade through high school. Our lives are radically different, so I was surprised to realize that they are running much more parallel these days.

She feels a call. She's taken early retirement and currently spends her days in preparation. She doesn't yet know exactly how her call will be shaped, but she has created space in her life for prayer and meditation. She seeks that which is yet unnamed, but I could see it in her. As I see it in myself. She may be a little ahead of me, but I have my own echoing of a call, which is actually far more formed. I returned to school and got my degree in answer to that call. Indeed, Cameron and I plan to move to the Portland, OR area, and I feel that call growing stronger. These days I imagine the beginnings of our call to the people who we will serve in our private practice and in our spiritual lives. They are also preparing for us to arrive. They just don't know it yet.

OK, I do know how goofy that all sounds. But we don't have the words in the English language for the thoughts I want to convey. Sigh. But as Debbie described the places she needed to be spiritually, I got it. I feel it too. I imagine the days when I sit on my porch and watch the water of the Sandy flow. I want to know it's moods, it's changes of season, it's temperament. I want to watch the shift of the snow on the mountain, sometimes seeing the snow reach my own porch. I want to listen to the wind as it whistles its changes. I want to linger in front of the fireplace, and sip hot chocolate. I want to create a space for healing, where people may come for spiritual direction, for therapy, for art. I can see the rooms and almost taste the air.

In the meantime, I have another year of my internship to finish. We have to wait the financial means to manifest. Cameron has to complete her practicum and graduate. So we have another year to prepare and to wait. And today, I drive from Arkansas to Atlanta. Tomorrow I will drive home, to wrap my arms around the person I love and miss. I'm ready.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dry Counties

I am really not much of a drinker, but just being in Arkansas makes me want a beer. Unfortunately, a beer is hard to come by. Much of Arkansas consists of dry counties. All of the counties I have been visiting this week have been dry. In fact, I haven't noticed a liquor store since I arrived!!

No wonder this state is poor. Look at all the liquor tax they loose!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dinner with Parents

Last night the Scientist's parents met us for dinner. Her parents are very kind, accepting folks. When they were planning my son and their daughter's wedding, they stood up for Cameron and me. Indeed, it was the last time my partner ever wore a dress. Out of respect, she wore a dress for my son's wedding. However uncomfortable she might have been in that dress, the courtesy of that dress eased the day for many. I was pleased to have the opportunity for a meal and a light visit. After the meal, we lingered, chit chatting for about an hour.

That dinner stands out in sharp relief compared to today with my own parents. My mother seemed to be rested and recovered from our longer visit two days ago. They were both quite obviously pleased to see me. We had a lovely catfish dinner, and as soon as the meal was done, they left. No chit chat, no lingering, just a meal and a few stories, and it was done.

I had tears in my eyes as I was leaving. It will be another year before I see my parents again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I always wanted a Daughter

I've written often of the challenges of being my mother's daughter. In my last post I briefly described growing my in Ar with a mentally ill mother. Understand, my mother spent most of her life in bed or at work. There was no middle ground. Escaping your daughter that way makes her feel terribly not wanted.

My mother's messages were very negative while I was growing up. When I was about 22, things changed. My mother's mental illness had worsened. Her voices had become extreme and she was living an alternate reality. Everyone could see her deterioration. Her few friends, my dad, the staff where she taught and, sadly, the students. One Tuesday morning I showed up at the high school, picked my mother up, and took her to the doctor. A few hours later she had a padded room. A few weeks after that she turned in her drivers license and teaching certificate. She applied for retirement and disability.

The transformation was remarkable. I'll never know what it took for her to get up every morning and face her voices and paranoia while she went through the motions of teaching. It must have been a living hell. Every summer she had to go before the school board to protect her job. They never had the grounds to fire her, but they knew there was a problem. Then she bore the shame of everyone knowing she went before the school board again. It's not paranoia when they are really out to get you.

My mother had been removed from a regular teaching program and was working with "special needs" students. Some were bored in regular classrooms and needed more challenges and she was good with them. The other end of the spectrum made her problems worse.

After the breakdown, it was as if the evil mother died, and a gentler, kinder woman took up residence. She's always happy when I call. She welcomes my infrequent visits. Sadly, my mother's extremely fragile these days. She tires quickly. The skin around her eyes is thin, papery. Her eyes don't have the clarity and focus my dad, seven years older, has.  Dad thinks she has Alzheimer's. But yesterday she took me by surprise. I had commented on how tired she looked, and she acknowledged it, but said she didn't get to see me enough and it was worth the fatigue. And then she said, "I always wanted a daughter."

I don't know what happened to that woman who didn't want me. But I cried when my mom told me, for the first time in my life, I was wanted.

It Could Have been Me

A few days before my tenth birthday my parents moved us to Arkansas. I was excited about the trip. I had very few friends in Indiana, was frequently bullied, and was already dysthymic (a fancy word for chronic, low level depression). Moving to Ar did not improve things, unfortunately. I continued to have no friends, be bullied, and feel depressed. My mother's mental health worsened and my dad was always at work, at school, preaching and staying with his congregation all Sunday, or studying and writing sermons.

Growing up in Ar was hard. I never stopped being perceived as "other". My accent, my clothes, my very being screamed "other" in a place where everyone's great-great grandparents grew up together. My mother's mental illness isolated us. Daddy preached 30 miles away, and stayed the day to save gas. My mother only attended with him a few times. Mostly she stayed in bed. Indeed, she spent the first year of living in Ar in bed  and only climbed out when working became a financial imperative. My dad majored in bible studies and minored in psychology. For the first time, I have realized why. He was struggling to understand what was wrong with his own wife.

Growing up with an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic mother is tough. Attachment becomes disorganized as the person who is supposed to provide soothing skills cannot even read their own child correctly. My mother was especially rejecting as the voices in her head played out a script that rejected me, the proof of her sinful condition. The valedictorian of Bloomington high school got pregnant before she got married. My grandmother's angry accusing voice plays out in my mother's head every day. Sometimes it comes out of her mouth, then to me, now to my dad.

I grew up knowing I was inconvenient and unwanted by my mother. My dad obviously loved me, he married my mother when I was five and adopted me six months later. But his continual absence sent a different message. I didn't know until this weekend the strain my dad was under in the year before we moved. I didn't know that as a member of a police department someone had put a hit out on him. I was too young to have known he mowed the yard every Saturday with a service revolver tucked in his belt and his habit of constant surveillance was more than a normal cop response. My mother certainly didn't know what was happening, either. And she was in and out of hospitals those years with a "nervous stomach". I suspect she was experiencing paranoia and delusions, and hospitalized during the worst of it.

I got married at 18 to get out. I lived in a crazy house ruled by a mentally ill mother who wanted me safely married and out. A year later I left my husband, having asked for a divorce, to go to Atlanta to meet my biological father. I came back to Ar pregnant. Married again to give the baby a father and moved to another small town in Ar with my new husband. My depression worsened. I didn't know anyone. Everyone knew my husband was not the father of my baby. I tried to go to church. I tried to get help. I tried to make friends. I was just too different. Attending the women's bible studies on Tuesday morning, after dropping the baby at the church for babysitting, took me into other women's homes. They weren't living hand-to-mouth. They weren't struggling to know what to say or how to fit in. I felt like I was faking everything.

I had another son. A year later, depressed, terrified, knowing I was becoming my mother, I left the children with their father. We divorced. A few years later I started college, married another unstable man, became widowed. Finally, at 29, I went to graduate school and got out. Before graduate school I had my children from 5 on Friday till 5 on Sunday. I missed two visitations, ever. One, because I was living in Atlanta and was too ill to travel. The other time a blizzard hit while I was in Iowa visiting friends.

Education and leaving Ar were the two best decisions I ever made. A few years ago I tracked down my first husband. He never saw me. But I saw his tiny travel trailer parked in front of his parents' somewhat larger trailer. I saw the children's toys scattered in the hot Ar dirt at the front door. Enough toys for a boy and girl, growing up exactly like him. Divorced, maybe, living in front of his parent's home. Obviously still suffering from depression.

The boys' father lives in the same house his parents' first purchased when they got married. He's lived in that house since he turned 18, having assumed the house payments. It's the smallest house on the block. Three bedroom, 1 bathroom, dryer inconveniently  located in a tiny closet off the living room, washer in the kitchen. He still works at the same factory, as a design draftsman and now as a supervisor, that he did at 18. He's been at the job and living in that house for 32 years. The house has somewhat improved with new carpet, new paint, new car in the drive. He's still depressed, too.

I look around, I know that could have been me. Making babies, depressed, trapped in Ar. Trapped in a world of dry counties (you cannot buy alcohol), strict church doctrine, and ignorant. As you can see, it's been a tough path, but it's turned out well at this point of my life. These last eight years have been amazing. Hard, challenging, but filled with love and transformation.

My youngest son did data entry two summers for that factory, before going to college. My oldest son went into the Marines after 9-11. Maybe their ability to break the mold, to shape their lives differently came from me. Maybe if I had been the mother who never went to college, who stayed depressed, who was trapped, I might have trapped them to. Hmm...that bears thinking about.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning

I'm still caught in that surreal space where the ordinary meets the impossible. To those who read these words, events like playing a board game with one's grown son and daughter-in-law must sound quite mundane. In my world, it's a miracle. Let alone going to a free movie or going to a pumpkin patch together. It's a world I once dreamed of, but gave up to live out of Arkansas, out of the children's father's home, out of ordinary time. These reflections make make me quite maudlin, but then, I'm entitled to be.

I wish I could really capture the essence of what I'm feeling while I'm here. Cameron and I talked a long time last night, and we agreed that the words just hint at the edges of what I'm trying to convey.

I come from a damaged world. Tomorrow I visit it again. My mother is paranoid schizophrenic. My adopted father is codependent. While I was growing up, he was mostly a beneficent, if absent, presence. Growing up with an undiagnosed mentally ill mother creates a damaged world. I lacked the skills most people took for granted. I was isolated, told to never talk about my family the way families hide substance abuse, was emotionally abused. Before daddy married mother when I was five, I was physically abused, but I have few memories of that time. In later years I was sexually abused. I lacked friends. I lacked ordinary coping skills. I lacked the ability to trust, to love, to be a friend.

I left the boys to live with their father when they were 4 and 1. I saw them every weekend, went to college, remarried, divorced, moved. Repeat. Repeat. These last eight years I have lived in SC are the longest I've ever lived anywhere.This three years I've been on my current job is the longest length of employment anywhere. These eight years I've been with Cameron is my longest lasting commitment. Needless to say, I changed a lot over the years. I fought hard for the skills most people take for granted. It's made me an excellent therapist.

But this week has given added clarity to how right that decision was to leave the children with their father. His stability was the greatest gift he could have given them. I watch my son and think, if I do nothing else right in my life, I've done something remarkable in bringing him into this world. And I've no doubt I've been a tremendous influence in his life. But my leaving those twenty-three years ago terminated the legacy of damage from me and my side of the family. He does not bear the wounds and damage of my past or my mother's.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rites of Passage

Ever notice that when you haven't seen someone in a long time, that their image remains constant. So when you see them again, you have to readjust your perceptions? Add to that another conundrum. I also have very few people in my life who have remained constant. Divorces, interstate moves, etc cause a lot of changes in friends. I've also been out of state from my family for a number of years. Two years ago I went to my parents for the first time in seven years. In fact, in the last twenty years I've only been home a half dozen times. So every time I've seen my parents, I have struck by how much they have aged. My dad had a mild stroke, which he did not tell me. So when I saw him two years ago, I spent half a day staring at him, trying to reconcile his face, the movement of muscles, age, and the daddy in my head.

Today I've confronted this conundrum from a different direction. My children. Most folks are a part of major rites of passage. Consequently, they have the opportunity to reconcile themselves to change and maturity. I unfortunately wasn't invited to either son's high school graduations (I suspect their father had something to do with it). In fact, after they moved at around 16, respectively, I didn't see either son until they got married. So they remained teenagers in my head until they got married, some five or more years later.

It's been two years since The Enlightened One and his wife the Scientist got married. Part of my focus that day split with the Marine and the grief over grandchildren who didn't know who I was. So I didn't really have time to process the changes, the aging, the difference.

Tonight my son and his wife invited me to attend a movie on campus. So we went over and watched Captain America, which I loved. But it struck me that the attendees were more than half my age, and that I was likely the oldest person in the room. Indeed, my son is turning 25 this year. He introduced me to a college student who had been in his student teaching class.

I've been wrestling lately already with the image in the mirror looking like my this has been a very strange realization. Age not in the perspective of others aging, but from the perspective of my own aging. Missing so much of the last ten years of my kids lives really has done a number on my perception of age. It's relative. I wasn't really getting close to 50 until I looked around that room tonight.

Mind, I don't mind the aging thing. I mind the parts of lives that I miss around me. Or not around me, but in my absence. I also mind my knees, but that's another topic altogether. So, in a round about way, as I sat in that room tonight, it became a rite of passage. A growing awareness of change. Of acceptance of where I am in life. It's a little bit disconcerting.

From Arkansas' Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze

Having slept extremely well, I spent a lazy morning enjoying orange sweet rolls and playing on my son The Enlightened One's computer. It amuses me to watch him doing homework while I play. Then his wife, the Scientist, suggested a trip to the pumpkin patch. We didn't walk the maze...good thing because I would never find my way out of it. But we did have a great time looking a pumpkins!

To see more:
Arkansas Oct 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Posting from a cell phone is interesting. Plz excuse im sitting in a Mississippi rest area, where I have stopped hundreds of times for the kids or dog. funny how much changes yet the pattern remains the same.  cameron could't make the trip so there are far too many spaces for reflection. But first, a nap.

From Atlanta to Memphis...Stepping Back in Time

in another lifetime that ended abruptly about fifteen years ago i drove this  round trip journey every other week. i used to joke about putting thirty thousand miles a year on my dog who rode shotgun. The journey is very different this time.  It got much longer. i didn't start in Atlanta but in SC. When cross the Mississippi I won't be turning right and heading toward my nightmares. Those were put to rest a long time ago. Instead, Imll turn left and begin something new.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Defender: Baby Sister of the Heart

I really hate it when I find someone important doesn't appear in my cast of characters. I could defend myself and say my baby-sister-of-the-heart just hadn't been outrageous enough to mention yet, and I only list someone when I talk about them. Certainly that doesn't mean I always talk good about folks, either.

But instead, I'm going to apologize, publicly, abjectly, and then tell the whole world about a really extraordinary woman whose been a part of my life about ten years or so.

Defender, so named for her fiery spirit that will take on any injustice with passion, has survived phenomenal odds to become a fantastic mother of three. She's about to marry (again, but that's a long story) the love of her life. Indeed, she's even asked my partner Cameron to officiate. I've watched her grow from a scrappy teen to a powerful woman who works hard, attends school, cares for her family, and still manages to be there for an entire group of survivors.

Defender, you are one of my heroes. Love you!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cat Lady, Servant of the Lady Bastet

Cameron told me I should have added that title to previous post....I should have listened. Indeed, Cameron has been telling me for weeks what dervishes the cats have become. Don't think I've ever had 6 kittens, approximately 6 months old, in the house at the same time. The house ain't safe. Literally. I really should have listened to Cameron.

Cameron's house sitting for a friend, so I woke alone this morning. Mercy, I miss that wonderful transgender human being. But I digress.

We've both been sick lately, and in a mad dash for the bathroom, I set the laptop aside with the cover up. Bad mistake. I'm not sure which cat jumped on the keyboard, began the music, panicked and unsheathed a claw to get away, but the result was spectacular.

To add insult to injury, a little later I rounded the kitchen corner as the toaster hit the ground. There stood Dante, attempting to look very innocent.

Our cats:

Dickens (Charles Dickens)
Tannis (god)
Legba (god)
Lucy (red headed mother of 5 kittens by Firedancer)
Xian (god)
Bear (Bear Burgman)
Wee Bit whose tale is named Be-Wit
Marmalade (mother of Hermione by Firedancer)
Pippin (Lord of the Rings)
Browning (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, he's the only survivor of 3)
Starshine (Favorite literary cat hero)

The kittens:
Hermione (5 months)

The rest, age 6 months:
Dante (poet)
Rossetti (Christina Rssetti, poet)
Mya (Mya Angelou, poet)
Amergan (celtic god)
Audre (Audre Lord, poet)

That's some serious energy...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World Between Worlds

I'm reading an amazing series, as I mentioned in an early entry, by Sterling. Reading of a world where the gods walk our lands, having cast out electronics and, consequently, many weapons, has brought me closer to my own pagan self. Grad school and working these last five years has made it difficult to circle, and we aren't part of a regular group. We have our own grove identity, occasionally cast circle for ourselves and a few friends, and have had a student or two, but it hasn't yet been time to walk that path further. Put that on the back burner.

When I began this blog, it was with the thought to provide a stable wiccan presence in the online community. Too much drama on the e-list I was on has led to long term silence from me. Most of my entries these days are actually terribly mundane...and the silence between entries has lengthened over the last year or two.

Knowing myself, reconnecting with my spirituality requires me to write. Anything. Because in time it always leads me back to the center, the heart of who and what I am. Lady Grace Dreamweaver, Priestess and Daughter of the Gods. That is my mantra, my every day prayer, my call for centering, and my honoring of my place in the universe. Put that on the back burner.

Today has been very mundane. I moved back into my office to face the plastered sheet rock which isn't drying well, due to the recent SC rain. I have a cold. It's one of those that you aren't really connected to the world, and if you can keep enough Robitussin in the system, you just kinda drift. Thoughts are tangential and elusive.

And Cameron is house sitting for the next few days. And my phone battery won't charge and the new phone won't be in until tomorrow. So I have few interruptions, although Cameron will stop by after class to make sure I'm okay (he's way more worried about this cold than I am, as I'm really too sick to care, and not sick enough to do anything about it but take Robitussin).  Today I rescheduled all but a few clients so they would have less risk of infection and the boss let me leave at the close of dosing hours, two hours early.

Now lets take all these thoughts and stir the pot...

Being sick, and numb, can lead to some very metaphysical musings. I read the book, and I think of my own calling, and the balance which we've been struggling to maintain. And suddenly, just for a moment, there's the space here where the gods walk the world, where I know what I know, and in the midst of broken toys and a damaged house and 14 year old cars, I know. I am the daughter of the gods. I am a child of this universe. And I can call the blessings of the universe to me and accept them with gratitude and open arms and open hands. And I can share them with others, in therapy, on a blog, by walking this earth myself. Thou art god/dess...

Sometimes we just need potato soup made from scratch, homemade wheat bread, and a cold. Glad I did the cooking yesterday.

Blessed be.

Lady Grace Dreamweaver, servant of the goddesses Inanna and Kali

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Further Along the Office Adventure

Today there are zippers at the end of the hall on both sides of the payment window. The payment clerk is taking payments at the opposite end of the hall, near the only entrances to the clinic, at the dosing area. So how is it that zipper and darkened area with no overhead lights invites people to open the zipper in an attempt to go pay for their dose? Addictive behavior at its finest. I finally put up the signs no one else had.

Since the construction crew has taken over my office for a few days, I am borrowing the nurse's office in her abscence. It's a rather cold, sterile room overloaded with filing cabinets and the door doesn't open all the way. It doesn't have an office chair, so I've had to resort to one from the conference room. Not to good on the back and knees, but getting mine to this part of the building would be difficult, at best.The good news is that the computer is five years newer than mine and doesn't crash when I open the internet! And the overhead light works! LOL Although I wasn't quite expecting the constant interuptions by staff who come in to use the sink or the scales: )

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stilts and Zippers

Yes, that's a man on stilts, mudding the wall. He'll do the same to paint it. My job is never dull...

If my boss will commit to it, this may become my new office.

And this is the zipper just outside my door while they work...Someone just poked his head through and said I have to get out of my office...shesh...

Pumpkin Pie and Driving

I was dreaming at 3:30 this morning when the alarm went off. Usually I'm half awake when it goes off, and I get out of bed quickly. This morning I was caught in that dream state, tangled between the here and there. I was dreaming I was watching a middle aged couple and their son, like the perspective of the intrusive television eye, and she was kissing the neck of her partner. They had recently fallen in love, and were quite taken with each other. The teen in the room was rather appalled that grey headed people still had sensual, sexual energy. He was objecting to shows of affection when the alarm rudely intruded.

I've been read the Change series by S M Stirling. If you haven't read it, do so. It challenges my perceptions of the world in wild and uncomfortable ways. Yesterday I read a very pagan account of ritual, of the horned god channeled through the hero. I went to bed thinking of the turn of the wheel, the coming of fall, the shift in the world and the smell of the wind. I've also been thinking of my own shifting sexuality/sensuality. Being the partner of a transgendered person, being in recovery from rather serious PTSD, being a grad student and now graduate of a marriage and family program, has challenged in these ways and more.

I've missed my own sexuality as it took the back seat to study, exhaustion, working full time, attending school full time, and an overburdened caseload. I've worked hard to heal from mental/physical/sexual abuse. I disavowed my sexuality, reshaped it, and struggled to take it back. My identity as heterosexual woman transformed to identifying as lesbian. Then it transformed again, as my partner identified as transgendered. Funny, my spell check doesn't even recognize the word "transgendred" and yet it defines so much of who I am.

I digress. So what does that have to do with pumpkin pie and driving? 4:30 in the morning I drove to work, still in a world not quite made of this one. It's 60 something degrees and humid as I drive, window partly down and heat on my toes. I scanned the roadside for deer, but didn't see any this morning. I thought of the dream, of the book, and of my lover who is suffering a sinus thing that has left her coughing and exhausted. I wonder at the pronoun I just used, because while I use the feminine pronoun, I don't think of Cameron as female very often. But I don't think of her as totally male, either. Wish we had a transgendered pronoun. One that leaves space for becoming.

But I digress. As I grabbed my prepared breakfast and lunch from the frig (I have two days a week I eat all three meals away from home, returning only to sleep), I saw the pumpkin pie. On a whim, I cut a piece. The in-laws sent it home with Cameron last week and we forgot it. I've never been a big fan of pumpkin, and especially not pumpkin pie. But I associate it with fall, with harvest, with the Horned God of sacrifice and bounty. I tried to eat it mindfully, as I drove, tasting the pumpkin, the nutmeg, the cinnamon. It was surprisingly good. Perhaps my taste buds have grown and changed again, accepting tastes as pleasant that I used to simply tolerate. Perhaps my taste buds have become another symptom of the transformation of middle  age, the moments before I become a crone, as I wait post-menopausal and changed at the gate of cronehood.

Something was different about my drive to work, and this quiet moment at work when no clients have yet tapped at the door. Something shifted in my metaphysical awareness. I usually mourn the loss of summer, of heat, of green. This year I find myself grudgingly embracing the fall, the cooler weather, the taste of pumpkin and the ambivalent love of things male. I stand here at this moment of becoming, recognizing that another transformation has presented itself, and wondering at the journey that's about to begin. Wonder where this one will go.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Morning

And back at work. Spent the first ten minutes this morning wiping down my desk from the wall board dust. Looks like I'll be doing the same for a few more days this week. Next is taping, patching, then wet sanding. Eventually they'll even paint. By then I'll be looking forward to my new office, immediately on the opposite side of this wall!

Check out the guy on stilts working just outside my office. It's not every day you see a guy on stilts in your office door.

I worked Saturday morning, and even though it is only a few hours, we all seem to agree that the lack of a psychological break makes us feel as though we didn't have a weekend. I'm definitely feeling it this morning.

I've started a new blog, which at the moment is entirely private. In time, I'll probably link it up. I keep recipes on my computer that I gather from cookbooks and all over the web.  I finally decided it might be wise to put them on a blog, which will offer an excellent index when tagged correctly.  But I also have worries of copyright issues, so I'll need to go back and make sure each credits its source. I also think it will be cool to take pictures as I try recipes, and my changes in ingredients, etc.

Each morning as I leave for work, I drive by the lake and pause in front of an empty lot so I can see the water. Each morning I say my prayer of requests and thanksgiving. This morning was no different than any other. The cloud cover masked the moon and darkened the water. Nevertheless, there was an indescribable moment of presence, a feel of the shift in the season, a movement and change. As I drove to work, I scanned the usual areas for deer. At 4:30 in the morning, I often see several groupings. I only saw one this morning. An older doe actually crossed the road in front of me. I've driven that road for eight years, and it was the first time one of them crossed in front of me. Usually they remain well off to the side.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lovely Sunday Morning

I imagine this as the first true cool, crisp fall Sunday morning that has occurred this year. I'm imagining because the waterbed is warm, my toes are warm, I'm blogging, researching mushrooms and recipes from the comfort of bed. I had to interrupt myself just for this quick post. There's a Sunday fall clarity to the light; the wheel has clearly shifted. We'll be setting our clocks back soon, as it was still mostly dark at seven this morning. I've already had my first diet Coke and two slices of homemade banana bread. My lover snores lightly at my right elbow, and Lotus, our aging grand dame Orange Cat, purrs over my shoulder. She purrs as loudly as any three of my other furbabies put together.

My familiar, Dickens, dozes at my elbow between the jostling of the computer and recipe book. I'm inspecting James Vilas' Crazy for Casseroles: 275 All-American Hot Dish Classics. Makes me terribly aware of our limited budget, and my limited exposure to the world. Hence my research of mushrooms. I just learned that those funny mushrooms, revealed in the kicked up leaves of autumn strolls of southern Indiana are morels mushrooms. We used to slice them thin and fry them in butter.

I'm dreaming today. I'm moving all my recipes to a blog so I can search/track them. So far I'm keeping them private because virtually every one is copied from somewhere. I'm not a foodie cook, yet, but I want to be. I dream of what I want my life to be five years from now, when my lover and I can see the Sandy River from our bed, as we wake on cool, crisp fall mornings. I found a marvelous blog post of the Portland Farmer Market. I want to shop regularly there. Lady, hear my prayer, as I manifest our future.

Had to work yesterday morning. For three years I've not answered the phones because the inbound line didn't ring my disk. They fixed it. Grrr...I'm amused by the way I've trained myself out of hearing phones. I answered a few times, but I really don't listen for them anymore. But I digress.

Cameron will wake soon...She's (well, my transgender partner, he) has promised me bacon and eggs. If I linger long enough, I'll have breakfast in bed. Think I'll ask for a cup of hot chocolate...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grump -- Office

Yes, that's plywood over the window
over my desk.
 It used to be the office to have. The smallness, 4 x 10 feet, was overcome by the watching the sunrise through the east facing window. Then the owner decided construction is in order. I've now survived the removal of the brick from the opposite side of the wall, the addition of the roof to extend another 12 feet (why is he only adding 12 feet when the original plans called for 36?? We'll just have to do all of this again!). Hammering, sawing, electrical, studs added, roofing's been a noise filled nightmare from seven in the morning until we leave at a little after 12. Usually by ten I'm so numb from noise I can no longer function. I rarely have headaches but I am now getting them daily.

When I stand up, the chair
hits the wall. 
Yesterday I booted my computer and the power circuit to my office and the conference room went out.  The electrician forgot to tape a screw and it shorted. It was three hours before I had lights and a computer to use.

With the closure of the window, my office is very dark. One of my lamps had to be moved yesterday to the conference room as our intakes were sitting in the dark. I do have an overhead light, but can't use it. It's flickered since I got the office and when I asked for a repair, I was told the part would cost $50. The owner's response? "Give her another lamp." The jerk who opened up the fixture didn't bother to put it back together (took two years to get him to look). So, to add insult to injury, I not only have exposed plywood I also have dangling wires in my office. The walls are bare and my stuff has been carried to my trunk because the construction work warned they will hang sheet rock over the next few days. The process is messy and I was advised to move breakables. Can we say my office it depressing?

I'm a substance abuse counselor. My clients have to shout to be heard at times. I'll be really glad when the construction ends. To be honest, I had hoped and prayed I'd be able to resign before the process began, because I knew it would be a nightmare. Unfortunately, the gods seem to think I need to be here a little longer. Apparently the gods are easily amused.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Of Children and Grandchildren

I have two sons in their mid twenties. Talking about my sons is such a mixed blessing. Things got really tangled in my younger years, and I made a lot of really bad choices when it came to my sons and partners. I shaped many years and most life decisions around sons I didn't raise more than part-time. Talking of the boys is bittersweet, breaths filled with regret and joy. The pain hasn't eased over the years. And now there's the absence of grandchildren added to the burden.

911 was yesterday. Every year this time I remember the last year I lived with my children. The dot coms had crashed and I was unemployed. That summer my eldest son moved back to Ar with his dad. I thought things were fine when I put him on the plane, but it was three years before he spoke to me again. My son enrolled for his senior year, 911 came, and he enlisted instead of going to college.

I didn't see my eldest son again after he flew to Ar until he got married. His drill sergeant, his soon-to-be wife, his mother-in-law, hounded him into calling. We had a seven day notice for a 16 hour cross country trip. We made it. We weren't allowed to sit on his side of the church, nor was I acknowledged as his mother. His step mother's name was on school records, military records, etc. She lit the unity candle with the bride's mother while I watched.

I finally held my granddaughter when she was 6 weeks old. The Marine was headed to Iraq and we spent two days in a hotel nearby so we could visit. (Of course, lesbians cannot stay in his home.) As we getting ready to leave, I held Beauty and couldn't stop the tears. I knew I'd never hold her again. I knew it.

The Marine didn't open mail from his wife while he was in Iraq, let alone from me. When he got home, he didn't want to see me. In fact, I didn't see him or the grandchildren again until my youngest son's wedding. I've never held my grandson. My granddaughter didn't know who I was.

I've written this and deleted it several times. The starkness of the story, the omitted details, the care I take when making something so painful so public strikes me as I reread. So many times I've wished I could spend an afternoon talking with my sons about those years, but neither is inclined to do so.

I'm at that stage in my life where I'm surrounded by people my age talking about grandchildren. Such a bittersweet topic. Some days I dodge the conversation. Other days I acknowledge I have grandchildren and then change the topic. I think the hardest part can be the inept way people don't hear the truth of the story. My eldest son doesn't speak to me. I don't see my grandchildren. They don't know who I am.

Instead of "that sucks" I get "blood is thicker than water" and other platitudes. And platitudes aren't true. I was adopted by my step-father and that is my daddy. My sperm doner was given several chances, and demonstrated how toxic he is. I know all about cutoffs, because I've cut him off completely. As my son has cut me off. No, I don't think I'm toxic. But my son does. I don't fit his conservative view of the world. I make things very messy and he doesn't want anything to do with it.

On the upside, not that I'm much in a mood for the upside in the midst of these darker emotions, The Enlightened One, my younger son, did see to it that Cameron and I were included in the wedding, that we had honored spaces in their lives, and we were acknowledged. I have no doubt that when the grandchildren come from him and his wife, they will know who we are.

I haven't spent a holiday or birthday with either of my sons since 2001. Indeed, I've only seen either of them a few times. Their rituals and routines are not with me, which I grieve. Nevertheless, I am headed to Ar to see my parents the first week of October and I will be staying at my youngest's son's home. Cameron is staying home to care for animals and attend class.