Make YourSELF Great Again

I know, I know, I’m venturing into polluted waters by even alluding to MAGA and 45. But if you’ll stick with me, I think there’s something here worth talking about.

star

We, as a species, are solvers of problems. We needed to move upright, so we learned how to walk on two feet. We needed to stay warm, so we created fire. We needed kinship, so we created civilizations. We take what we have and morph it, shape it, turn it into something better.

So when you notice something has tarnished, you want to shine it.  When you notice a hole in the bow of a ship, you want to patch it. When you see something that was once outstanding has turned into nothing more than litter and ashes, you want to rebuild it. Reformat it. Restore it to its fabled glory.

It’s a basic instinct. The desire to fix what’s broken by advancing performance is buried somewhere inside our biological makeup. That drive has led us out of the caves and into the light. And then from the light into the stars.

What if we could erase the perversion that recent times has placed on the idea of returning something to greatness? Instead of the meaningless drivel that slogan became, what if the idea of making something great again was personalized? What if we turned that focus onto ourselves?

Text Dividers_Part 2-11

There are dilemmas in each of us that have never found their resolution. These both influence who we are and keep us from reaching what we could become. These dilemmas act as a wall between us and what we can accomplish. And is it these dilemmas we keep in the shadows. If we were able to lighten the darkness they create, we could return ourselves to greatness.

This type of greatness isn’t monetary or political. It’s a Self greatness. The kind that we were infected within our youth. The kind that made you as brave as those heroes you read about in the comics and saw on Saturday mornings.

It was the kind of greatness that led you through the playground and to the monkey bars. Feeling the heat in the metal bars, it was that greatness that fueled you to climb. Hand over hand, you climbed to the top. There you stood with your arms open and the sun smiling on you and in that moment you were sure you were Universal Royalty. Our connection to the Universe and all her mysteries is stronger when we celebrated the greatness in us.

Slowly that feeling gets stolen from us by those around us who do not or can not, feel their own greatness. A surprising number of those people want to undermine our success so that it didn’t shine better than their defeats. Somewhere along the way these people, by their own accord or by chance, lost their connection to greatness. And because misery loves company, they want us to lose ours too.

Text Dividers_Part 2-11

In the Jungian sense, the Self represents the psyche as a whole. So reclaiming the greatness which sits there is no easy task. How do you accomplish that?

 

 Tell your truth. Even if its only to yourself. Vocalize what is true for you. Sounds easy, right? Don’t be surprised if this is one of the hardest undertakings you ever face. When someone asks, “How are you?” , stop saying you’re ok or that you’re just tired. Tell them the truth. Tell them your hurt. Tell them about your pain. If that truth kills the conversation and makes them run and hide, that’s their lack of greatness showing. Even if it makes them uncomfortable, it will do good for you.

 

Recharge Your Shine. There are things in this world that replenish us. Sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s art. Sometimes it’s as simple as peace and quiet. Whether its throwing darts at pictures of history’s greatest bastards or jamming out to 80s New Wave, do what makes you glow. Find time in your day to expand yourself with the things that make you feel happy. That taste of happiness will ignite the greatness inside.

 

Get Uncomfortable. Change hurts. Growth hurts. Remembering the steps to a dance long forgotten hurt. Take that hurt and use it as fuel for your journey. No one acquires greatness without sacrificing their comfort. Stepping outside your comfort zone clears the leaves from the path and helps you see the way clearly.

 

Let go. Only seconded by telling your truth, letting go is a serious and heavy contract to sign. Separating yourSelf from material goods that do not serve you is hard. Letting go of relationships that do not bring love and positivity to your life is harder. We must remove the things and people that tie us to our unhappiness. Those items and people are like a wall that stands between you and your greatness. We can not pour from an empty cup. The darkness of a negative attachment empties the cup every time. Release the attachment and let yourself be free.

Text Dividers_Part 2-11

The world around us is definitely troubled. We’d be blind not to see it. The only hope we have to cure those problems is to work on ourselves. It is only after we regain our greatness, that we will be able to do be successful in the one thing we were made to do. We were made to solve problems. Now we have to focus on our own.

 

Save yourSelf. Save the world.

 

Make yourSelf great again.

star

 

Advertisements

Conjure and Coffee Recommends: Cartoons (That Aren’t Rick and Morty*)

If you are in you in the 30+ crowd like I am, you probably grew up in one of the best time blocks for animation on TV. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, TailSpin, G.I. Joe, Duck Tales, Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, X-Men, the list is exhaustive. Basically, any type of hero we needed, any story we wanted to hear, any sort of friends we were lacking in real life, were there on our screens on Saturday mornings.

The cartoons of the 80s and 90s were my first taste of visual escapism. It was because of the X-Men cartoon that I jumped into comic books. It was because of April O’Neil in TMNT I learned that being a lady journalist was badass. And I’m pretty sure I remember the capitals of the states primarily because of Wakko’s song from Animaniacs. For a lonely weirdo kid, these cartoons were my friends. They were my muses. They were my babysitters. The animations dancing around on my TV during that time helped provide a burst of color to my, and I’m sure others, young life.

Significant animations weren’t limited to just the small screen in the 80s and 90s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which might be the first and most iconic marriage of live action and animation, was released in June of 1988. That movie was a brilliant merging of what had been seen as a typical art form for children with the storytelling of an adult feature film. It would become a heavy influence and inspiration for animation for decades to come. Disney spent those two decades putting out some of the most influential and lucrative animated films in history.

Maybe we did live in the gap between Cinderella and Frozen, but we had The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Toy Story. Kindly say “There’s a snake in my boot!” or “This is Halloween” to a peer of yours and I will bet you dollars to donuts, they know exactly what you’re referencing. And too, if you’ve never held your cat (or child for that matter) outstretched while chanting Rafiki style, I don’t know if we can be friends.

That being said here are 5 cartoons that I personally love. And I think, if you gave them a try, you’d love them too.

Adventure Time

adventure_time_-_title_card

Adventure Time is the classic tale of a boy and his dog going out in the world. But the world is a surreal post-apocalyptic land full of candy people, vampires, Ice Kings and Bubblegum Princesses. Oh, and the boy is the last human and his dog can shapeshift and talk.

In the midst of all that, some ultra heavy real-life issues are tackled. Love, loss, friendships, family alienation, and loneliness are just a few of them. One of my favorite things about the show is that during this hero’s journey that Finn and Jake are on, Finn and the world around him age. Characters grow and relationships change. Storylines mature along with their characters.  The canon for this show gets DEEP. And occasionally, dark. Very dark and very emotional. Also, keep an eye on the supporting characters. They are all wonderfully fleshed out and many have complicated backstories of their own. There are quite a few strong female characters that are both heroic and flawed. Which is pretty much how the world works.

To say my family loves this show would be a disservice. How important is this show to my family? Well,

This is Jake, our bulldog.

20180705_112333

And this is Marceline, our daughter.

20180524_124832

Where and How to Watch:  Adventure Time is still airing on a limited schedule on Cartoon Network. You can find the whole series on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and Youtube. (subscription/service fees may apply)

Gravity Falls

gftcscebr-cover-72dpi

Did you watch The X-Files and Twin Peaks growing up? I really think Alex Hirsh, the creator of Gravity Falls, sure the heck did.

Gravity Falls follows fraternal twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan in a weirdo oddball town in Oregon. Grunkle Stan, who is probably the greatest con man not working the tent revival circuit, runs a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not rip off roadside attraction called the Mystery Shack. The oddities Grunkle Stan charges people to see are nothing compared to the actual oddities that roam the surrounding area. Gnomes, giants, one-eyed interdimensional beings, everything is possible and probably probable in the town of Gravity Falls.  Like Adventure Time, the story here is deep full of unexpected turns. Not only does the show tackle the always creepy, always unexplainable Pacific Northwest, it also struggles with sibling relations, socio-economic inequality, zombies, age differences, friendships and the struggles of being the weird kid. We’ve all been the weird kid so those feels are real.

Where and How to Watch: Gravity Falls has run it’s course and reached a logical closure point. Reruns show sporadically on Disney XD. You can find the series in its entirety on Hulu, Amazon Prime Videos, iTunes, and Youtube. (subscription/service fees may apply). If that’s not enough to satisfy you, check out the Gravity Falls Graphic Novels!

 

Summer Camp Island summer_camp_island_9

This show is brand new but has fast become one of my absolute favorites. Summer Camp Island follows the adventures of best friends Oscar, an elephant and Hedgehog, a hedgehog as they go to summer camp on, you guessed it, an island. But wait? Did that camp counselor just poof into a witch once the parents left? And did that tree just come alive?  And holy sparkles, do those marshmallows have teeth?!

Summer Camp Island takes the surrealism of Adventure Time and builds on it. The show’s creator, Julia Potts, actually worked on AT as a story artist. The character dedication and storytelling are very similar and just as enduring as that of AT. My favorite episode revolves around Hedgehog turning into a werewolf. No spoilers but I promise, that episode hits home on many, many levels. The overall theme of accepting and celebrating your personal weirdness and being true to your friends isn’t honestly presented enough.

Also, anytime there’s a sassy witch with pink hair, I’m all about it.
Where and How to Watch: Summer Camp Island is currently airing on Cartoon Network and on Boomerang. They actually just completed a 24-hour marathon of the show! If you aren’t hooked by now, they really want to make sure you are! I’m not aware of any streaming options but the CN app may have it available.

Steven Universesteven_560x230

First, to get it out of the way, Rebecca Sugar is a genius and I have a total crush on her. Like Julia Potts, she worked on Adventure Time. Her last episode as a storyboard artist for Adventure Time was the Emmy nominated “Simon & Marcy” from season 5.  After that, she left Adventure Time to start her own show, Steven Universe. Which just happened to be the first show on Cartoon Network created solely by a woman.

Steven Universe is about the adventures of the young man who the show is named for. Steven’s life is little more complicated than a normal beach living son of a musician turned car washer. That’s because his Earth isn’t quite our Earth. His Earth has The Crystal Gems, a group of magical humanoid gemstone aliens who guard Earth. Steven himself is half Gem as his mom Rose Quartz was the leader of The Crystal Gems. There is so much more here I’d really love to tell you but you really need to experience it for yourself.  The show focuses on a lot of the same things as Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. Steven Universe, however, has some a-freaking-mazing sci-fi world building. There are adult sci-fi shows that lack the expanse this show has. Also, Steven Universe is beautifully LGBTQ+ friendly. It is one of the most accepting and empowering shows of any genre on TV currently.

Steven Universe is for Everyone!

Where and How to Watch: Steven Universe is still airing albeit on a modified schedule, on Cartoon Network. It is also available on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Youtube, and the Cartoon Network app. (subscription/service fees may apply)

 

Ruby Gloom81dcksz8d3l-_ri_

Ruby Gloom started not as TV pitch or idea but as a stationary line made by the Mighty Fine company. With books and backpacks, pens and fancy paper, Ruby Gloom was initially marketed towards the goth subculture before being turned into a kid’s TV show. It started airing on Canadian TV in late 2006.

With its goth underlying still shining, Ruby Gloom is a wonderful concoction of humor and darkness. With characters that are just flat out adorable for those of us who spent too many summers dressed in all black, it’s ultra relatable and easy fun. Skull Boy, Doom Kitty, Misery, and Iris join the titular character as they try to look on the bright side, no matter how dark and dreary it might be.

Also, the music in this show is outstanding. It’s surprising how good the musical storytelling is in the show. When was the last time you heard Zydeco in a kid’s show? Or in any show? It’s cool on it’s own!
Where and How to Watch: Ruby Gloom is no longer airing. You can find it to stream on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes. (subscription/service fees may apply)

star

Today, animation has been solidified as a serious art form. From Cartoon Network to Sundance, Disney XD to the Academy Awards, animation is not just for children. Often times, it’s able to tell stories that live action can’t quite grasp. And sometimes that’s even with the help of anthropomorphised animals, fairy tale creatures, magic, and above all else, friendship and love.

Spider Webs-07

 

 

  • I want to take this space to admit that I’ve never really watched Rick and Morty. I hear, from multiple people from multiple stations in life that it actually is hilarious. I just can’t get over the clips I saw of Rick and Morty fans being cringey as fuck in an effort to get some Szechuan sauce at McDonald’s. Maybe it is badass and I’m missing out, but eh, I’ll take a pass. Also, that constant burping thing is kind of gross. As an addition sidenote: if you noticed, I left shows like Archer and Bojack Horseman off the list. They are great shows but have all the hype they need.

 

 

When Dinosaurs Ruled The World

In the summer of ‘93, I was an eight-year-old jorts wearing tomboy, covered in mosquito bites and baseball caps. I spent most of that summer playing in the dirt at my great grandma’s house. It had been a weird year for me. I was a year or so removed from a near catastrophic knee injury (remember kids, don’t ride double on a moped. Not even with your dad), my sister was a toddler and my mother was dealing with an impending hysterectomy. It was a very confusing time. In the chaos that all of that brought, I found solace in three things. Baseball, pro wrestling, and dinosaurs.

 

And 1993 was a very, very good year to love dinosaurs.

 

The commercials for the movie started earlier in the year. Water rippling in colossal footprints, talons through metal gates and the now iconic clip of a young girl shining a giant flashlight into a dilating pupil of something huge and monstrous. I was hooked. I was feverish. I don’t think, outside my family and my little mutt puppy, there was anything I loved more. Without really knowing much about the movie, or any movie really, I knew I had to go. I had to see it.

Pretty soon, my closest cousin was in on the excitement. We’d spend hours reenacting the trailer over and over each time adding a little bit more. We’d trampled through our great grandma’s woods for hours searching for dinosaur bones and pretending the chickens were velociraptors. The briars and kudzu were toxic plants from another age. Smashed elderberries were our blood stains as we battled imagined terrible beasts.

 

When we finally made it to the local cinema (which teenaged me would nickname “The Enema”  much later) we were beyond ready. We paid our nominal fee, grabbed some over buttered popcorn and sat in the darkness.

 

star

The next 2 hours and 7 minutes would change my life. 

star

And not all of that change was because of the prehistoric beast in the story. Even my eight-year-old brain understood how different this movie was. Yes, it had special and practical effects galore.  But it also had female characters doing the heavy lifting. It had eccentric weirdo-nerds saving the day by loving their craft openly and out loud.

Ellie Sattler was never a damsel in distress. She was a woman of science. Even though she was in a relationship with Grant, she was his equal. Her knowledge was her own. It wasn’t built around her connections. Her bravery, courage, and intelligence made her a hero. She was brave not only in dealings with the dinosaurs on the island but also with the hubris of the males around her.

 

Lex Murphy wasn’t a clueless little rich girl. She was a hacker daredevil that helped reset the park and ensure the group’s survival. Yeah, she screamed a lot, but who the hell wouldn’t? She was also a woman of morals. Even the in the midst of the worst event of her life, she stuck to her beliefs in vegetarianism. If I were being chased by hungry carnivores, I’d probably want to rip some meat apart solely out of spite. She was loyal to herself and her family, biological and collective.

 

Ian Malcolm was more than a sweet talker in a leather jacket. He was like the 007 of chaos theory. He was cool, he was suave, he was unapologetic. He made math and being a geek sexy. He was also unbending in his opinions. He was unafraid of the fat cats with deep purses. He constantly viewed his truth as being more worthy than monetary gain. And he was right.

 

Jurassic Park inspired me in ways I don’t think I fully understood until much later. It strengthened my desire to do well in what years later would be touted as the STEM field. Because of how important math, science, and tech was in that movie, it pushed me to focus on those avenues and go further. Even on an elementary school level, I knew that if I wanted to actually become a paleobotanist, I was going to have to focus on math and science. Math was a struggle for me when I was younger. But that one night at the theater (and many, many Blockbuster rentals) showed me how important that struggle was.

 

That night, watching that movie, changed my young life. The next year at school I was placed in the gifted and talented program.
Text Dividers_Part 2-11

Now let’s jump 25 years forward.

33 year old me is standing in the same theater (now known only as “The Enema” in my mind) with my just turned 10-year-old son going to see the latest in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. We grab popcorn and soda and take the same outdated cushioned seats that I sat on in my single digit years.

 

Everything in the theater is almost the same as it was a quarter of a century before. The curtains covering the walls were still dark, but I’m not sure whether it was from age or dust. The seats were squeaky and uncomfortable, from hundreds of butts spending hundreds of hours of movie escapism in them. The popcorn was still less than grand, but still not quite as overpriced as the mega cinemas out of town. The ticket prices are still incredibly low, even with the dollar increase. (“All shows before 6, all seats, $4”). The No Smoking sign was still there but it now read No Texting. It was the very same place with just a slight timeline shift.

 

vince-gaspar-503209-unsplash
To celebrate his tenth year of life, the Not So Little Anymore Guy and I were going to watch some dinosaurs. He had seen the other Jurassic Park movies, but not in the theater. I hoped that the magic I felt as a young person would still be in there for him. I hoped that the movie would inspire him the same way its predecessor had inspired me. I wanted him to see the connection between absolute badassery and science. I wanted those strong characters that showed him there was no need to fit into any one stereotype. You can be this AND that at the same time.

 

star
Instead, we got a disaster movie full of generic bad guys, flat characters, and jump scares. It just didn’t have the same magic that the first movie had for me. I don’t think he came away from the movie wanting to jump into science or to study dinosaurs. He was excited, he had a great time, but in the five minutes or so drive home (small towns for the win), he was pretty much over it. The movie was all fluff and no filler. There was no meat on those bones dancing around under all that dino CGI. It’s not one of those things where I expected him to be moved the same way I was at his age. I wanted him to have his own experience and I had great hope it would be wonderful.  I just expected the movie makers to do better. I miss the heart that the original movie had. Maybe I’m looking back with nostalgia in my eyes. Maybe we live in a time where it’s easier to produce thousands of frames of computer generation instead of sustainable storylines. I don’t know. It’s like the whole movie felt like a glass of soda after being left out all night.
star
I don’t mean to make it sound like I didn’t have fun and enjoy him grabbing for my hand when a there was a surprising swerve. I did. I loved seeing the movie with him so much. I know how special that moment was, for both of us. In a handful of years, he’s going to be a teenager. I will probably, at least for a short moment in time, not be his favorite person. Soon, I will be the out of place dinosaur, living in an era not my own.  And that’s ok! That’s how things are supposed to work.
This trip to the movies, just the two of us, will be memorable forever. The experience of us giggling to each other after a sudden scare or whisper-yelling that the old lady down front needs to get off her phone will forever be recorded in my heart as something significant. Shared moments always are. The movie may have lacked the importance that its predecessor had for me, but the event of seeing it with my son was worth so much more.
I wouldn’t trade it for all the money spent on special effects in all the Jurassic Park movies.
I never became the paleobotanist that I dreamed of becoming. I never became a computer hacker or a chaotician or any type of person of science. I became a mom. And while I’m not bringing the stories of the past to life for another try at existence, I am trying to make a path for the future by loving my kids the way they need to be. And if that’s by having special moments watching less than stellar films, then I’ll gladly go see the next five Jurassic Park/World movies.
Dinosaurs ruled the world once. Soon the same will be said of us humans. We shouldn’t expect every generation to be motivated and inspired by the same things.

Life, after all, finds a way.

Spider Webs-07

Summer Status Report

In my neck of the woods, it is totally and officially Summer.

It’s hot, it’s humid, and for our family, both school and work are out.

star

 

The 9-year-old is now officially done with 4th grade and will be starting his last year of elementary school when classes resume. He will also be hitting double digits in a handful of days. This is a progression of time that I am thankful for and utterly scared of. The “easy years” (that honestly were never “easy”) are now officially over. If we get through this upcoming year, and he will even if we have to crawl through glass, middle school is on the horizon.

star

The 5-year-old is on his last summer before his school adventure begins. Kindergarten awaits him in the Fall. (Sidenote: Why do we say “in the Fall” but these kids start school in August? There ain’t shit about August that can be called Fall.) Every time I think of his little face and bright eyes going off into the wilds of education I get that feeling you get when you’re at the very top of the biggest hill on a roller coaster. It’s exciting but I’m kind of worried I’m going to pee my pants.

star

The 3-year-old is dealing with her brothers getting older and the likelihood that very soon, she’s going to be the only one home. And for as fiercely independent she tries to be, the relationships she has with them are her world. In typical Three-anger fashion, she both loves them and often wants nothing to do with them. She wants to be the special much loved little sister but dear gods, don’t you dare call her baby. That’s a fighting word. And trust me, she can scrap.

star

The husband has been on an illness related reprieve from work. He’s got tons of doctor’s visits and goings to and fro on over the next few months. He is taking the right steps to deal with his illness and utilizing every avenue to find them. I am auxiliary in his care. While we’re clearly a team in getting through this, I’m more Robin than Batman. Maybe even more Alfred than Robin. I keep the wheels greased and the machine functioning while he fries those bigger fish.

star

As for myself, let’s do a little visualization. Since I’m painfully afraid of clowns, think of one of those juggling, painted faced, multicolour pantsuited bastards on a unicycle. But wait that’s not all! This clown happens to be juggling ceramic statues while pedalling his little one-wheeled contraption of death on an uneven stone floor. All the time, every day, that’s how I feel. Sometimes I make it through the performance with my eyeliner in place and all the figurines in their original shape. Most times, however, I’m spending the night glueing them back together while wearing day old racoon eyes.

I have been making some changes for myself between those haphazard feats of balance. Having the husband around to watch the kids allows me the chance to go do things without the little ones in tow. So far, I’ve found a local (country mile type local) metaphysical store and started the process to change my birth control to a more permanent option.

Both are exciting in their own way.  First, not being dependant on hormonal birth control will be AMAZING for me in so many ways. I’m well past my baby making time.  And secondly, having a nearby shop full of like-minded folks and spiritual goodies is so handy. I look forward to attending events and even networking a bit. Socially, I’m a bit of a hermit. Working on that that will be beneficial to everyone. They both have to do with parts of me I’ve been slack on keeping up on. I haven’t really been to the doctor since I had the last kiddo. My spiritual self has been equally glossed over. I’ve been taking great care to maintain, but sometimes maintenance is in order. That’s what I’m taking care of now.

I’m slowly moving events from “interested” to “going”. And for me, that’s huge. I’m actually starting to DO the things instead of overthinking all the things. Take this post for example. It’s taken me most of the day, dropping sentences in those spaces between errands, but here it is. Instead of thinking how nice it would sparkle once it was done, I started it. I worked on it. I created it. And now here I am and here it is. While some of this fluttering in my damp wings is from determination, a lot of it is from the support and love of those in my circle. It’s gotten pretty small over the years, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t the absolute best.

star

I don’t want to tag this Summer with some cliche (even though I love them) title. It’s not My Summer or The Summer It All Comes Together. It’s even not the beginning of a revolutionary tale where the heroine finds herself in the midst of domestic chaos. It is simply going to be a summer. Whether it’s a summer of legend or something we hardly remember, it is what it is.

We’ll sweat, we’ll be lazy, and we’ll have fun. We’ll also be grumpy, busy, and bored. The Summer will roll on and the Sun will still shine.

I’m going to sit by the AC and try to chill out while it happens.

Spider Webs-07

 

 

 

Sister (A Declaration)

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”

In 1969, Tammy Wynette took that declaration to the top of the Country charts. For very different reasons than her lyrics explain, the statement rings true for women in 2018.

If ever there was a time for us to come together in sisterhood and stand up for ourselves and each other with the fire we’ve been persecuted with, that time is right now.

This piece I’d like to share with you speaks to these times. It speaks of my feelings towards the heroic women of all ages, colors, and identifiers that are fighting against a system that makes millions off our degradation, assimilation, subordination, and even death.

I hope it also speaks of how important it is for us to love and support each other, whether we are an arms reach or an ocean away.


 

julia-caesar-24806-unsplash

Sister (A Declaration) 

Sister, I don’t know you,
but I love you.
I love you the way a child loves a superhero.
Eyes wide and mouth agape
Waiting for the next little drop of heroics to fall into their eyes
I love you not just as an inspiration
but as a causation
Like the lore that leads them to discover the powers they own,
hidden behind their school uniforms.

I love you the way a match loves friction,
The ripping of wound that starts a flame.
You remind me to take what I’m holding
And use it to destroy.
Destroy their words, turn their hate to ash,
Blister skin that dares touch me wrong.
To grow and become a force
That can wipe out all life
And leave it fertile for the next generation.

Sister, I love you the way the tree branches love a hard freeze
Bending to new angles, bearing more weight than they planned
The moment before the snap,
before the break bearing the meat of the tree
That’s the moment I love you for showing the strength in me

I love you
But I don’t know you
Your name is not one I can recall out of habit
Like the phone number I had as a child
But the feeling of your hands on my heart,
your fingers in my hair,
The gold of your kintsugi
Are all home to me.

I can not name your favorite color
Or what song you listen to in the car while you
Build courage out of toothpicks.
But I see the fire in your eyes
And it’s holier than the fire they burned us with
When we were both witches at the stake.

Sister, I need you.
I need a strong woman to hold me
When I can play that role no more.
Like a bridge bound with rope
We will sway in the wind together
Holding up and reaching out into the unknown
With delicate dedication.
The future can only be female
if we as a team
Decided to bloody the brows of those that stand against us.
Four fists are better than two.

I do not know you as a lover,
Or as a mother,
Or as a friend.
I know you as a sister.
I know you as I know myself
Which is in a cloudy way.
I know your DNA as if it were my own
Strained through a colander made of expectation and grief.
Forced to rebuild itself in a more uniform way.

Your fight is my fight
And my will is your will
And like the moon,
the wind, and the face of Mars
I don’t know you
But I fucking love you.


 

I love you, sisters.

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Windows Down

In this part of the Carolinas, Summer comes hard and fast.

You see, our Winters aren’t that deep. We don’t dip below the freezing mark enough for it not to be first alert news when it happens. Our Springs are barely a handful of weeks worth of stretching in preparation for the long run that is Summer.

This year, by the end of May, Summer had taken root. The first week of June saw highs in the low 90s and humidity well over 50%. It was like it was going to be for at least the next four months, hot.

It was during that week that I had a rare solo trip out. This trip was the kind of event that house locked stay at home parents look forward to. The kind where you’re running benign errands, but you’re doing them ALONE. No kids, no pets, no significant other. Just you and your to-do list. The kind where you can hear your own thoughts for a change. Not just the unending ramblings of the ones you hold dearest. Cause while you love them, sometimes you love the quiet a little bit more.

Since I was alone this day and was set to be in the car for a while instead of turning on the car’s air conditioner, I rolled the windows down. And much like the advice in a poorly written Country song, I turned the radio up. My solo jam session had begun.

luigi-manga-251376-unsplash

Uninhibited by the roar of the wind and the thump of the bass, I sang. I sang and sang and slowly, every drop of my build up emotions were loosened. I don’t fancy myself a performer in the slightest, but there in my car speeding towards a routine everyday thing, I was something on display.

The phone cut into the music when my husband called. I told him to hold on while I rolled up the windows.

“Wait, why aren’t you running the AC? It’s hot as shit.”

In my head, I could see his face wrinkle when he asked this. One of his eyes becoming smaller than the other from the effort of trying to figure me out. We’ve been married 13 years, he wears this look frequently.

“I dunno, I like having the window down.”

I didn’t dare try to explain my thinking that it’s cheaper to have the windows down. Or my theory that going ten over the speed limit makes up for the air being hotter outside than what the car’s AC would throw. True, it was warmer, but there was more movement, more excitement, more to get lost in. The regurgitated air of the AC would have felt nice. It would have prevented the line of sweat that dampened the back of my shirt. But it wouldn’t have opened my soul like the windows down music up combo did.

“You’re still broke Angela from Buford.”

There was no malice in his statement. It was a teasing truth mentioning the backwoods community I grew up in.  Even though I’m at a place in my life where I have comforts I couldn’t have even dreamt of as a teen, I often revert back to the behaviors of my dirt road, poor as shit younger self.

Text Dividers_Part 2-07

It’s more than just coupon cutting and discount shopping.(Which, don’t get me wrong, I love. RetailMeNot is bookmarked and thrift stores are life) Like many people who grow up in poverty, chasing escapism became an important part of my life. Not being well off enough for video games and too athletic and clumsy for sports, music was my path of choice.

Every song was a story and through them, I got to live. I knew heartache and struggle. I knew friendship and fun times. I knew love, loss, and a little bit of Jesus. I even knew a boy named Sue. When I got older, the flavor of the music changed. I learned the words for rage sounded a lot like guitars. I learned that a bass beat could speak for my heart. I learned the delicate art of screaming four-letter words without breaking the glass cage around you.

So many times, the only place I could find peace was in the car with the windows down and music blaring. It was there I was able to pull myself out of the ocean of responsibility that I was expected to swim and look at the skyline from the shore. The volume pushed the cheap factory speakers to their buzzing brink and the wind wove my hair in knots that would take hours to undo. But it didn’t matter. Those small annoyances were worth their cost for the small taste of freedom.

So now, a decade or so removed, when I do get the chance, not much has changed. I still drive with the windows down instead of using the air conditioner. I still sing with my horribly out of tune voice at the top of my lungs. It might not be popular amongst my fellow drivers, it such as hell meaningful to me.

Text Dividers_Part 2-11

My circumstances are not the same as they once were. I am not the same as I once was. My quest for escapism is now of a different variety. I no longer have to quest to escape the pain of an abusive, restrictive environment. My dashes into rebellion are now to find the person I lost under all this caregiver garb.

The situations have changed but the songs, the roads, and the heat of Summer have all stayed the same.

Featured Photos by William Krause  and Luigi Manga on Unsplash

 

Bless Their Hearts, But Take No Shit

Fun Fact Time:

Like many uncertain baby witches, I spent a block of my youth getting my wand wet in Wicca.

Let’s face it, there’s not a world where an outcast girl growing up in a single wide trailer wouldn’t be infatuated with the idea of Wicca. The songs, the rituals, the connections with the gods and goddesses, it was everything to me. I was a huge fan of To Ride A Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf. Everything about her and the book seemed immensely cooler that than the life I was living. The book became almost another appendage of mine, I was hardly seen without it. But like most things deemed THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER!!! In those precious pre-teen years, it eventually lost its shine. Like a pair of second-hand shoes, Wicca became something too tight and strange. It just didn’t fit me.

One of the lessons that did stick from my splash in the kiddie pool of Wicca was the Wiccan Rede. The full rede is long in that Terms and Conditions kind of way. It’s sing song-y advice about the Old Ones, the Moon’s phases, and speaking little but listening much. Basically, it’s LifeProTips with a NeoPagan slant. Most people boil it down to an easy to remember eight word maxim:

An it harm none, do what ye will

wicarede

Basically, it’s the same philosophy as the 1969 hit “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers (record label drama aside). If you aren’t hurting anyone, by all means, go on with your bad self. It’s an acknowledgement that you are free to do what you need and/or want to do without having to worry about a series of expectations hanging over you. It’s the idea that you are free of sin or commandments and are able to live the best life you can.

Text Dividers_Part 2-07

I want to stop here and mention Thelema. Developed in the early 1900s by everyone’s favorite eccentric Aleister Crowley, Thelema is the spiritual belief structure based on the Western Mystery Traditions. Basically, Aleister went to Egypt with his then wife and had a spiritual occurrence that paved the way for his development of this sometimes religion/sometimes philosophy that he brought back and spread to his influential friends. The basis of Thelema, also known as the Law of Thelema is

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.

You can see how this and the Wiccan Rede are similar. The difference is that with Thelema, harming none is left out and love is added. There’s enough here to for its own post, so I’ll tackle that at another time. Stay tuned.

Text Dividers_Part 2-07

From that basic validation of the Wiccan Rede and Law of Thelema comes the often quoted and frequently over shared “Do No Harm But Take No Shit.”

97366-do-no-harm-but-take-no-shit

No doubt you’ve seen this one on your daily scrollings on social media.  It’s a solid philosophy that is kind of the bastard child of the two other ones. It has purpose and meaning as well as a much needed importance placed on the individual. Yes, we should not harm others, but we should also protect ourselves. Sometimes doing what thou wilt is not taking shit. It makes sense right?

So if “Do No Harm But Take No Shit” is the child of the Wiccan Rede and The Law of Thelema, my new adage is its redneck cousin:

blesstheirhearts

Bless Their Hearts, But Take No Shit

Any Southerner worth their salt knows that the phrase “Bless your heart” has a whole mess of meanings. The phrase can mean anything from “Well good for you!” to, “I’m so sorry” to “Damn, you’re an idiot”  and to my personal favorite, the trying to look sweet when you’re really being ugly “ go fuck yourself”. It’s a phrase that fluctuates from love to sympathy, to passive aggressive hostility by vocal inflection alone.

That versatility makes it the perfect partner for the “take no shit” mindset. No matter what your intentions are for the other person, you are prepared not to take an ounce of their nonsense. And while you may not always be supporting them lovingly, you and your smug opinions probably aren’t doing much harm. We all entertain our own personal judgments from time to time. But in a perfect world, we do what we can to keep them personal. And like the Law of Thelema, the phrase indicates we are in fact doing what we will, even if it is in a backhanded, sided eye sort of way.

There’s a lot of obligation that comes with expressing concern and showing empathy towards someone. Often because we feel sorry or attached or even in love with someone it’s expected that we allow them their vices. Even if those vices are harmful to us, we are supposed to overlook them. Love prevails over all, right? In believing that, abusive behaviors are granted a pardon. Wounds are allowed to fester to save face and prevent the assailant pain. It’s not long until the rose-coloured glasses that society gave you wreck your eyesight permanently.

While it’s true that everyone has a dark side, a less than pleasant persona, it’s also true that we don’t have to put up with it. We can love and care for them without putting up with their shit. You can’t keep someone else warm by setting yourself on fire. You’ll burn out, but it will be long after they’ve already walked away.

So bless their hearts, in whichever way that works for you. But remember, no matter what path you follow, don’t take any of their shit. You have enough to carry, you don’t need to add more.

 

How Plants Grow

I have a question for you, Dear Reader.

Do you know how a plant grows?

A seed, cast off and discarded from its dead and barren home, falls to the earth and is slowly covered with dirt. Layer after layer of dark, damp weight fall upon the seed until it is forgotten by the outside world.

The weighted darkness presses down on the seed, surrounding it on all sides. The pressure building in the damp womb of the Earth squeezes it from above and below. The small hole the seed occupies is both a bed and a prison,  everything and nothing. From there, the change happens.

Slowly the pressure forces the seed to change inside. Something inside unlocks and it begins to entwine upon itself. Cells divide and multiply, forming a newness out of the remains of what once was. Gently, the new appendage lengthens and widens. It unfurls until it’s pushed against the shell of its former self.

Then it penetrates the skin of the remains, the shell of the life that was,  and cracks an opening. Instead of growing up, towards the sun it once loved so well, it grows down. With no fear and only purpose, it plunges into the unknown.

It anchors itself to the nothingness and uses it as leverage. In the absence of other life, nutrients are plentiful. The seed feeds off the darkness. And in doing so, thick sturdy roots form.

Their growth is an acquisition. The roots split and divide, small branches spreading the existence of the then seed now seedling. Their sole purpose, their only desire is to strip their surrounding and use it all for their own good. And they do.

Then the seedling starts to stand, its newly formed spine still shiny and pure. It’s new form is greeted not with applause but with silent darkness. The same darkness that allowed it’s metamorphosis now stands in creation’s way.  To reach the goal, to bask in the sun, this then seed-now seedling has to fight and climb, dirt sticking to it’s delicates. It has to contort itself into a new form, finding a balance between protecting itself and allowing expansion to happen.

durian-seed-2701644_640

Finally, after the struggle and challenge of refashioning, this cosmic modification breaks into the sky. It is that moment that the seedling becomes what it was proposed for. It fulfils the prophecy that was written in its cells before it was fully formed. It becomes a plant.

The Sun, the god the plant loves without a name, welcomes it into the land of the free. Closer the plant strains to get closer to this holy fire. Drawing up all of the spirits from the roots, now doubled in thickness and width, every cycle of the bright deity the plant grows closer.

Eventually, the inevitable happens. The plant that did nothing more than worship in the bosom of the Sun dies. Everything it was and everything it could be has been erased from existence. Death spreads along the plant, leaving lip prints in strategical locations. The plant dies slowly or all at once. The timing of the cycle song is different for each one.

After Death has sung it’s song and had its way, the only remnants left are the seeds the plant created almost absentmindedly during its pursuit of the Sun.

siim-lukka-193026-unsplash

That is how plants grow, Dear Reader.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret.

It’s not much different than how people grow.

It’s not that much different at all.

 

Happy Obligation Day

Mother’s Day 2018 is officially in the bag. Another year, another series of cards, flowers, saccharine dollops of love and clickbait headlines like What Moms REALLY Want filling up your feeds. TV and radio commercials tell you about bouquets, hearts that look like butts necklaces and weekend getaways more frequently than they bring you the news. Every store has circulars and signs explaining how best to use your money to prove your love for your mother. Instead of being inspiring, these endless suggestions make Mother’s Day seem like an obligation.

And like Victory Gin, holidays of obligation leave a bitter taste.

I should be the prime target for this Hallmark holiday. I’m a mother of four. I like flowers. Shiny things catch my eye. I’d be so down for a spa day. But something about how Mother’s Day is celebrated really crumbles my cornbread. It feels too commercial, too disingenuous, too consumeristic.

My umbrage for it all probably has something to do with my personal mother quandary. Yes, I have a mother. Yes, she’s still alive. But she’s not worth the spit on the back of a stamp. She’s the fly in my self-esteem punch bowl. I have more things to vilify her for than celebrate. If anything, Mother’s Day is a reminder that of the hole in my life that she created that keeps me on the other side of normal.

Personal feelings aside, Mother’s Day has a pretty interesting history.

anne-maria-jarvis

Ann Maria Jarvis

The roots of Mother’s Day start with Ann Maria Jarvis. She was an OG social activist who cultivated women’s and health groups during and after the Civil War. With only four of her possibly 17 children reaching adulthood because of the effects of childhood diseases, she became a champion for better care and fought for more sanitary conditions.

It was Ann’s daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis (Yes, Ann Maria the mother had Anne Marie the daughter. How Norman Bates is that shit?) that made Mother’s Day an event.

220px-anna_jarvis

Anna Marie Jarvis

Looking to find a way to honor her deceased mother, Anna held a memorial celebration at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in 1908. (In the years since the site has been renamed The International Mother’s Day Shrine. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.) In the flair of her mother, Anna made the memorial for more than just herself. She incorporated all mothers in this remembrance as she felt that maternal figures were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”. It was Anna who introduced the idea of gifting carnations to mothers. She gave the Church 500 white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to commemorate her mother’s decades long service. In sharing these flowers with the mothers in attendence, a trend was born.

But eventually, even Jarvis struggled against the river of commercialization. She wanted the purity and sacredness of the day of remembrance observed, not made into a money-making tool by the floral, jewelery, and candy industries.

She was quoted as saying:

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Jarvis went so far as to try to rescind the day in 1943 by organizing a petition. Her efforts did not get far because later that year she was, and I swear Dear Reader I am not making this up, committed to Marshall Square Sanitarium. She would die in that sanitarium five years later, penniless.

The history and the commercialism of the holiday make it a bit complex. My personal feelings make my experience of the day a little bit more complex. But my experience is not the same for everyone. Some people love Mother’s Day. Some people very much respect the idea and the methods in which that idea is delivered. And that’s totally cool! I am not here to ruin what others care very deeply about. That would not be fair of me at all.

We are all familiar with what Nietzsche said:

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Applying that thought to Mother’s Day is wise. Not every mother is Kitty Foreman or Clair Huxtable. That also means that not every mother is the cold cream faced Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. Somewhere between is where most mothers, just like people, land.

Celebrating or not celebrating is an individual choice.  Whatever your decision is, make sure it’s one made out of compassion and not out of obligation.obligationday

 

 

Duel Review: Women Who Run with The Wolves and Light is the New Black

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m kind of a mess. Around me gravitates a sort of controlled chaos.

For example, currently, I’m totally into subversive embroidery. (You mean you can stab a thing thousands of times to create words and images that would give the sewing circle at church a heart attack? Sign me up!) I’ve also just bought and printed like half a hundred pages in a coloring book of shadows off Etsy. So on my desk is haphazardly piled with embroidery junk and printed pages, colored pencils and half-read books. Like books are everywhere. If there’s a flat surface, it probably had a few books on it.

Which brings me to admit I’m the type of person who reads more than one book at a time. Some books are living room books. Some books are bedroom books. And there are some books that are travel in the purse, pull it out when you need a few bumps type of books. And that’s what I’m doing with Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Light Is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell.

Ever heard the phrase “same but different”? Well, that describes these books, kinda. Both of them emphasize the importance of understanding one’s true self. Both of them describe the struggle of breaking down the walls that contain us. And both books, to me, provoke unmistakable inspiration.

51k2bdw4g8bl-_sy445_ql70_

Women Who Run WIth the Wolves is a deliciously heavy read. The author, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, is an ultra-accomplished Jungian psychoanalyst, a storyteller, has a PhD, and is an illustrious post traumatic stress recovery specialist. She uses her expertise in analysis and her innate storytelling ability to examine the Wild Woman archetype in the feminine psyche. And that she does just that in the book. She breaks apart some of some of the most well known myths, fairy tales, and folk tales and exposes the threads that are woven together to create and rally for the Wild Woman ideal.

41xwfptiavl-_sx317_bo1204203200_Light Is The New Black is a light breeze on a hot day. It’s an airy, high-spirited sprint into the world of light working. Not only light working, but light acknowledging. It’s a how-to guide to letting the light inside you out and how to process life shining out loud. The author, Rebecca Campbell, is a well versed jet-setting Australian who has been known as The Skype Nomad and is one of Hay Houses outstanding authors. Hip, fresh, and personal, her writing is easy to connect to. Her voice echoes through the words on the page. With the title playing off the popularity of the TV show Orange in the New Black it’s almost a testament to the influx of spiritualism into current culture. The book is in a similar vein as Modern Girl, Mystical World which you know I am not a fan of. With the exception of one short passage, I have found so much more enjoyment in Light Is The New Black than I did in Modern Girl, Mystical World. And I think that a lot of it has to come from the author being more relatable.   

There’s more to these books than I can put into words. The authors themselves have done so much work to create these volumes of truth anything I try to come up with will fall short. Even though the books are different strengths they both pack the same punch. Sometimes you need to jump into the deep end and surround your mind and soul with ideas that rattle you to the core. Sometimes you need to open a door to a shining light surrounds you and starts healing your wounds. These books do both.  

And both of these books are hitting me right where I need to be hit. Like you’ve read earlier, I’m balancing a lot of things right now. I’ve been balancing them for a long time. With my attention, soul and inner light going into fixing things for others, it’s left me empty. If I’m a match, these books have ideas in them are a striker strip. In the few moments I get, these books have reached inside and found the voice I had thought was lost.

And man, they are inspiring the fuck out of her to do something great.

Even if she is tired and scared and totally washed out. Even if she’s a mess of overstacked bookshelves and tumbling papers. She’s awakening again. These books are guiding her home.  

Featured Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash