Inheritance

My family medical history reads like a Cause of Death report

Any one of the illnesses I’m set to inherit

Would be the case close decision

For any dead body in any morgue

Anywhere

And if the high blood pressure, diabetes,

And likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer

Doesn’t clock me out early and in excruciating pain

Those genetic mental illnesses will

Double dipped chicken fried depression

Enough borderline to go over the line

[see what I did there?]

With more than a dash of attention deficit disorder

And some potential schizoaffective disorder for good measure

And I’m not even including those addictive personality traits

that course through my family tree

Like sap in the spring

Not that I was ever given any assistance

In learning how to deal with these second-hand things

No one taught me about eating right or exercise

Or even addressed calming techniques to quiet

My brain speeding around like an energy drink loving hamster on a wheel

But my mom did teach me

That chewing up Vicodin makes them work faster

And that drinking beer with a Twizzler is super funny

Both of those lessons came before I turned fifteen

I also learned that it’s okay to throw up after you eat

Its okay to do that in the Ryan’s Steakhouse bathroom during a rare family night out

And that its ok to take so many Oxys that you don’t hear your daughter calling

Or remember how to sign your name on her brand practice logs

I know I won’t be inheriting anything grand when my folks die

At most a couple of used cars,

Maybe an old goat or two

And a trailer overflowing with pill bottles and dust.

And that’s okay,

They’ve already given me enough

 

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Keep Your Village, I Have My Witches

Before we start, I want to be honest. While kicking around the idea for this post in my head, the working title was “Keep Your Tribe, I Have My Witches”. It was a response to how the word “tribe” is used in popular culture.The more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I was with using that word. I don’t want to offend or insult anyone and I know the usage of that word does both. I don’t want to add to the appropriation.The word “village”, especially in connection with witchcraft lore, works just as well.

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Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal”.  Our need for comradery and connectedness is genetic. We, as animals, need each other. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Connecting with others, especially the “wrong” type of others, hurts us more than it helps. Finding the right crowd, the right circle to surround yourself with is so very important. And one of the hardest things you will ever do.

While I pride myself on being a nice person, I am not gregarious by nature. Not only am I a homebody, I’m an introvert who struggles with social anxiety. Honestly, maybe I am a homebody because of those things. Either way, I am not a social creature.

I also am not a collector of people. I know people who pride themselves on collecting friendships, like dead butterflies pinned in shadow boxes. I am not like that. I don’t need a huge chorus of yes wo/men. I feel like this does two things. It either feeds into a cult of personality or it devalues the quality of the friendships. I don’t want a group of fans following me around, regurgitating everything I say. I’m not Jim Jones. I don’t need a fellowship.

What I have, and what I’m exceptionally grateful for, is this small little circle of people who love and cherish me the same way I love and cherish them. What this group lacks in numbers, they make up for in true honest emotion.

From a young age, I was taught by my mother that love comes with strings. Every relationship was a maze through spiderwebs of obligations. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I learned that friendship doesn’t come with prerequisites. You just love each other. You support each other. You want the best for each other. It is not a tit for tat set up. No one keeps score. You both strive to be the best you can be and help the other person when they can’t be.
I’m lucky enough to surround myself with magical ladies who inspire me constantly. These women are my support network, my therapist, my comedians, my teachers. They surround me with love and set my creativity on fire. It’s because of them I’ve dived into researching and truly living my Craft. From books to articles to tarot cards in the mail, they have helped me find my true self.

It’s also because of them and their belief in me, I’m writing again. Their support and never-ending cheerleading is a huge part of why this blog and my recent accomplishments have happened. With them at my side, I’ve been able to trust in my abilities and pursue something I’ve enjoyed since I was young.

So while you may have a village, I have my coven. And for me, a tight group of inspiring and motivated friends is all I need.

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

The Pizza Man Compromise

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It was around four o’clock when the nine-year-old popped out an earbud and asked, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”

And there it was, the loaded question.

Silence fell across the living room as three pairs of little eyes turned to me. I’ve never been interrogated, but I would imagine it felt a lot like that.

My answer, handmade meatballs with bow tie pasta, was met with a chorus of groans.  

My heart dropped. But I had planned this out! I made dinner around lunchtime that day, just like I do every day the husband works. I packed up some for him to take, and I saved the rest for us to eat after he left. We were supposed to all be in meatball heaven within the next few hours!

As usual, everyone started talking at once trying to find a solution to our nonexistent problem. Then out of the chaos came the tiniest of voices from my soon to be five year old, “You could call the Pizza Man.”

(The funny thing about this is that not once in his little life have I actually CALLED the pizza man. Phone anxiety is my kryptonite so I use online ordering.)

And in that one sentence, dinner’s fate was sealed.The desire for pizza had gone viral. But what about my lovingly created meatballs? What about the bow tie pasta I had already worked out jokes for? What about all the work I did?

I tried to explain that I had dinner already made and it was going to be great! I even broke out a few of the noodles to show them how silly and fun it would be to eat bow ties. A song and dance may or may not have happened.

But my gang of pint-sized mutineers would not let the idea of pizza go. In a last-ditch effort, I turned to the husband for guidance, for wisdom, for some hope that I wouldn’t have to wave the white flag and give in to their demands. While putting on his shoes for work, he shrugged his shoulders, “Pick your battles, babe.”

Pick your battles.

If it’s not the official motto of good mothers everywhere, it damn well should be. As someone who is anxious by nature, I need plans. Plans get me through events and help me keep the feeling of the sky falling at bay. Even though I don’t believe in things having to be perfect, I need to have a plan, a backup plan, and a tertiary plan.

With kids, however, a lot of the time those plans become pretty much obsolete. It’s not so much of constantly giving in to the little monsters, it’s about compromise. It’s my belief that children, albeit still developing, are people too. They deserve the consideration we give other adults when it comes to the things they would like to do. (Of course, this is on the other side of basic safety and health-related items. I’ll tell a kid to take a bath and wear their seatbelt in a heartbeat. I’d tell an adult that too, actually.).

With kids, it’s much better if you don’t create battles out of things that just aren’t that important. If the only reason you are trying obtain a certain outcome is that you want to be the one that’s right, you’ve got bigger issues than what’s for dinner. There’s a line between being a leader and a being a tyrant. You can lead your children to adulthood and finding themselves without breaking them down drill sergeant style.

There’s no shame in assessing a situation and finding that your way is not the way it should go. Bending, not breaking, to the ideas of others, especially your own children, creates an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. It supports the idea that their ideas are worthy and that they actually have a say over their own existence. It also helps develop their problem-solving skills. Figuring things out instead of just bluntly being told is good for kids. Even if it’s for mundane things like how to clean a room or what to have for dinner.

On the night in question, we did have pizza but we didn’t “call the pizza man”. I broke some frozen pizzas out of my personal stash in the freezer and we had an impromptu pizza party in the living room. The kids were happy, I was happy, and dinner was enjoyable and more importantly, stress-free.

Motherhood is about compromise. Sometimes if you let the mutineers have what they want, they let you keep the ship. But even then, they won’t let you pee alone. BBBBBB

P.S.: We did end up eating the meatballs and pasta the next day. It was not as well received as the pizza, obviously, but it did not go to waste.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Five sleep solutions from a reluctant sleeper 

Note: I am not a doctor and the claims made in this post are not meant to be taken as medical advice. Each person is different. Consult with your care team before you make any changes or take any new medication.

Sleep is a weird thing. When we were children, most of us raged against the dying of the light and hated going to sleep. ⅔ of the children in my house right now HATE going to sleep.

But now that we are adults? Man, what we wouldn’t give for five, ten, twenty more minutes. According to the CDC, a lot of us don’t get enough sleep. And it affects us immensely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that fatigue is a leading cause in around 100,000 auto crashes a year. It’s also the cause of over 1,500 crash-related deaths. And if that doesn’t scare you enough, the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl can all be traced back to sleep deprivation.

Pretty scary stuff for something that we all at some point struggle with.

So how much sleep should we get?

Well, that depends.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, instead of a set standard, there is a sleep need spectrum. Depending on a host of variables (sleep debt, activity level, health, stress levels, and stimulant consumption), sleep needs are unique. What an active 19-year-old healthy male needs and what a sedate unwell mid 40s female needs are drastically different. You can view their recommendations here. For most adults (age 26-64), 7-9 hours is the recommended amount.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot of glorious, glorious sleep. I tend to go to sleep early and wake up early. I’d estimate that I’m still only getting about 6 hours a night, which is just below the ideal amount. My issue is that I have trouble staying asleep as well. So while I may be asleep for 6 hours, I’ve woken up roughly four times throughout that span of the night. Being primary caregiver to three kids, two cats, one dog and one husband, even if I wanted to supplement my sleep amount by napping, it wouldn’t be possible. So I need the sleep I can get through the night.

Getting the right amount of sleep as an adult is hard. Here are five things I’ve picked up that help.

Chamomile Tea

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From the Asteraceae family, chamomile is the name given to several daisy-like plants that have for centuries been used to make relaxing, sleep-inducing herbal teas. Most commonly made from the dried flowers of the German/Wild or English/Garden species, the tea has been found to have anti-anxiety effects. For me personally, it pretty much the liquid equivalent to having the Sandman throw sand right in your eyes. After a cup (or more cause I have a habit of drinking A LOT of tea) I’m pretty much done for. It’s a great way to relax and let the stresses of the day melt off. You can find chamomile tea commercially (Celestial Seasonings’ Honey Vanilla Chamomile is a personal favorite). You can also buy the dried herb in bulk. Add two or three heaped tablespoons to hot water and let steep 20-30 minutes. Then strain and add your preferred sweetener. Comfy pajamas, rainy days, and a cocoon of blankets may intensify the effect of the tea. Prepare accordingly.

 

Melatonin

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Available as an over the counter supplement, Melatonin is a pretty successful sleep assistant. As a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, it has many uses. Melatonin may be beneficial for people who struggle with sleep disorders, have irregular schedules due to shift work, jet lag, or trouble sleeping because of autism or ADHD. Some scientific claims have found insufficient evidence as of melatonin’s effects, but personally, it has worked wonderfully. I use it occasionally when I know I really need to sleep restfully. For me, it has no lingering effects and I awake the next day fully rested.

 

Moon Milk

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While the idea of warm milk before bed is something I’ve heard of for years, Moon Milk is something I just learned about. I came across this post on Facebook a while back and was inspired. Then I tried to make it and fell in love. Not only is it a great lactose-free alternative to the traditional warm milk, it’s steeped in magic as well. If almonds are not your thing, feel free to substitute any sort of nut you’d like. I used a variety of spices I had on hand and it quickly became a household hit. Like the camomile tea, it is an excellent way to relax and slow your mind and body down at the end of the day.

ASMR/ Relaxing Sounds

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Now this one might be a little out there. ASMR ( autonomous sensory meridian response)is an internet phenomenon that got its name in 2015 in a Facebook group. Previously talked about simple as “that unnamed feeling”, it’s a pleasure response to sounds that cause the feeling of “tingles” on the upper spine, neck, sides, and back of the head. It can be from sounds such as crinkling of paper, crunching of leaves all the way to whispered personal attention. Do a search for ASMR on youtube and you will find thousands of different videos. It’s something I use to relax and more than a few times, have been lulled to sleep at my computer by. It’s a great way to put your brain on pause. I will warn you, there are some ASMR videos and creators that push the envelope. As with anything, find what works for you and let others find theirs.

If ASMR isn’t working for you, there’s always the use of relaxing sounds. There are so many apps available now that provide various sounds to help you nod off. My favorite app has tons of sounds you can mix and match to create the perfect sleep song for you. It also has a timer. So you can set it and not worry about it running on your phone all night long.

In Conclusion

Today’s technology coupled with tried and true methods provide multiple ways to help those that struggle with sleeping erase the stress. Just like how the need for sleep is individual, the strategies that are effective are unique as well. The main goal is to find that works for you and do that. And then, get the sleep you deserve. The sleep of kitties snoozing in the sun.

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Dear Toxic Friend, This Is Goodbye.

I don’t know how to start this. Perhaps my hesitation is from this not being easy or enjoyable to write. So here goes.

This is my goodbye.

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This fragile relationship of ours is no longer good for me. You are no longer good for me. Your passive aggression taints every conversation we have, like second-hand smoke in a sweater.  Somehow, no matter what our conversation is about, you warp and bend it until it reflects light onto that one time, more than a decade ago, when I fell short in your eyes. Our friendship does not make me feel good about myself. If anything, it makes me feel like a scapegoat. I’ve worked really hard to grow as a person and to cast off the shame, guilt, and self-hatred that I carried from my childhood. I can not allow you to undo what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve tried to be a good friend. I’ve tried to honor your feelings and allow you to hold them. But you used your feelings as a weapon. It’s obvious that you still hold on to the anger and pain that befell you in the past. It’s obvious that this hot coal burned its way inside your body and took residence in your heart. While I am not one to tell someone to let go and move on, I feel that for us to have worked, you needed to calm that burn. I supplied apologies as a salve, but they never seemed to soothe enough for you.

You throw shade (as the kids say these days) and make remarks that seem to have no other point than to paint me as a villain and you my victim. They seem to suggest that all your hardships are because of the perceived slight you think I performed. Just to put it to bed, my actions back then were never malicious. You know this. I acted on what my soul called me to do. It was what I personally wanted for once, instead of what was wanted for me. I explain this to you so you understand, I was just trying to live my life. No one should be kept from that OR be made feel bad because of that. Its exhausting explaining time and time again that my actions were not personal attacks. I just wanted sovereignty.

I understand your life has had ups and downs. So has mine. Everyone’s has. I will not say that anyone has had it easier or harder than anyone else. We’ve all made choices and we all deal with their consequences. That being said, you really seem set on winning some imaginary Misery Olympics. I do not support and will not take part in such games. We should be celebrating each other’s successes, not trying to impress others with who hurts the most. Pain is not something that is measurable like that. While I am sorry that your experiences haven’t all been positive ones, I don’t feel that they should be things you wave at me in an attempt to make me feel bad for or to discredit my own.

For my own mental health, I can not allow you lay your sins on me and send me out into the wild any longer. I do not hate you. I do not dislike you. I would very, very much like for us to be close again. I would like for us to have the relationship we assumed we would. But I simply can not with things in their current state. I’m sorry we can’t be the friends we imagined we would always be.

Please have a good life. I wish nothing but the best for you. But I can accept nothing but the best for me.

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Stitchcraft: Triangluar Prism Bag

If you remember from my previous post The Subtle Art of Good Enough, sewing is one of my favorite hobbies. I grew up surrounded by women who could transform the simplest of fabrics into functional, sturdy clothing. Even though I didn’t join in until I was older and they were gone, a part of me feels connected to this art. To make it clear, I’m no Olivia Walker *. To me, as messy and beautiful as it is, sewing is an extension of my witchcraft.

Merriam Websters has the definition of witchcraft as :

1 a: the use of sorcery or magic
b: communication with the devil or with a familiar

Now, I don’t think my Singer sewing machine is a hotline to the devil (I mean really? Could it be so easy?) or a familiar (I usually try to keep her away from my fabric) but I will not discredit the sorcery it takes to turn a plain sheet of fabric into something functional and tangible. So, if I may be pompous, I present you with the Conjure and Coffee definition of Stitchcraft

Stitchcraft

1.a: the use of sorcery or magic using stitches made with needle and thread.

b: communication with the devil by yelling things like  “Goddamnit!”, “Oh shit!”, and/or by accident piercing one’s flesh with needles, pins, or scissors.

The first thing I’d like to share with you in my Stitchcraft series is something I am all about right making right now. I was pointed to this Craftster tutorial by a dear friend and fell in love! I mean really, how cute is a triangular prism for a makeup bag?

Quick side note: If you aren’t wise to the ways to Craftster, please, please check it out. There are SO MANY great tutorials. The user community is so vast and knowledgeable that inspiration abounds. Whatever craft makes your heart sing you’ll find a chorus for there.

On to the triangular prism makeup bag!

Following the measurements provided, I cut out the pattern for the bag out of everyday simple printer paper. I would advise to maybe cut the pattern out of a more stable medium. Printer paper is really flimsy. Cardstock would be a much better choice.

After measuring and cutting the pattern, I folded it in half, lining up the sides. Why? I prefer to cut on folds. I have no real reason, I feel that it helps me judge how much fabric I’m using. Once folded, I followed the directions and cut two out of the outer and inner fabrics.

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That’s when the fun started! It was time to attach the inner and outer fabric to the zipper! Zippers are still something I struggle to get “good enough”. Sometimes I can get them on no problem, other times it’s a garbage fire. Before I started sewing the zipper, I unzipped it enough so when I was finished sewing all the other sides I could turn the bag right side out.  For this project, I did an acceptable job with the zipper. I still have a little way to go before I master it, but I’m satisfied with my progress.

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One note about zippers: Make sure you check your zipper before using it. I bought a good size lot of zippers off Amazon. I didn’t go through and check their individual functionality. I just grabbed one that matched colors. The one I used for this bag was a little hiccupy the first few times I used it.

After doing that zipper magic to both sets of fabric, I did a seam down one side, stopping at the right angle edge. Then I sewed the bottom straight across. After that, I did the other side.

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Once those three sides were done, I pinched the cut out right angle looking edges together and zapped them under the sewing machine needle real quick. The bag finally took shape!

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I cleaned up some long leftover threads and turned it right side out. And BAM! A makeup bag is born!

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I love this tutorial and pattern so much!! It’s easy to assemble and pretty fun. The bag itself is really versatile. I keep saying its a makeup bag but really, you can use it for anything. About ten minutes after finishing the one I made for this post, my three year old had taken it for her Shopkins.

I hope you enjoyed the first Stitchcraft post!! This kind of post was a first for me. I’ve never really taken the time to chronicle making something. It was definitely a learning experience. But isn’t that what growing in the Craft is about? Manifesting something out of pure idea and energy is never easy. Hopefully, when I bring you another Stitchcraft post, it will be a bit more polished and a little more informative.

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  • But wait! Who’s Olivia Walker? Olivia Walker is the seamstress who for decades provided the colorful robes that The Nature Boy Ric Flair wore as he walked that aisle. Being a Southern girl who was the daughter of an independent wrestler (trust me, I’ll tell you about this later) Ric Flair and his flashy robes were my first taste of costuming and pageantry. Without these robes, you could make the argument that Naitch wouldn’t have been the character or champion he is known for being.

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Why I’m Thankful For Prayers (even though I don’t believe in their God)

Growing up in the South, most conversations that involve tales of hardship end with a hug and one party saying to the other, “Well, we’ll be praying for you.”. As someone who doesn’t follow any of the branches of the Abrahamic faith that influences every bit of life below the Mason Dixon Line, even something as innocuous as prayers can get overwhelming. If I had a nickel for every time someone informed me that they were going to pray for me, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. It seems like everyone wants to include you in their conversations with the Lord. And really, I’m okay with that.

 

To a lot of believers down here, not being a Christian makes me an uncaring godless heathen. Which is funny because as a polytheist, I have more gods than fingers to count them on. And as a person, I’m an Empath. So I care. I care a whole hell of a lot. While I don’t think of prayer in the same way most Christians do, I believe there is something powerful in communicating with the beyond. When that communication is done for the betterment of someone else, no matter who is listening, it’s incredibly meaningful. Whether you’re talking to God like a Southern Baptist, taking part in your daily Salah, whispering to The Goddess, or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo there is something profoundly magical in the connectivity of that act of compassion.

To me, magic is all about energy. It’s about being connected to not only yourself and others around you, but to the Universe. So taking your energy and manifesting it into something positive for someone else is huge. It’s a big piece of everyday magic we all agree is powerful but we don’t talk about. It’s like telling someone to have a good day, wishing someone a happy birthday, or saying bless you after someone sneezes. It’s taking a bit of yourself and turning it into hope for someone else. That’s what prayer is for me.

I know it’s easy to think that the people praying for you are doing it only for themselves. And you know what, maybe they are. I’ve never inquired as to the rhyme and reason of someone’s prayers for me. I’m not naive enough to think that some of them weren’t straight up “Please Lord, help this girl find Jesus” ones. But, I’d be willing to bet you all my nickels mentioned earlier, a lot of them were for good outcomes. I’ve lit candles and cast circles for people who would have burned me at the stake for doing so hundreds of years ago. And I did those things out of love with the hope that they helped. And in the world we are living in right now, we all need all the help we can get to achieve a good, safe, and peaceful life.

So please, if you feel moved to do so, pray for me. Meditate for me. Chant for me. If my name and my situation are put upon you, do what feels right in your heart of hearts. Because I promise you, every time I feel that need, I will do so for you. I’ll just do it in my own way.

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Imperfection is Beautiful

A Lesson in Wabi-Sabi

The other day, while neglecting the roughly fifty-seven baskets of laundry that needed to be folded, I found this wonderful list of words that have beautiful meanings but not clear English definitions. It’s from 2014 and features the work of Ella Frances Sanders from her book, Lost in Translation. The illustrations are as beautiful as the words, each showcasing the pulchritude that we feel inside, but can’t quite describe.

The one that struck me the most was the Japanese word wabi-sabi.  

Wabi-Sabi centers on accepting that life is fleeting and that its imperfections are beautiful. If you remember my post here I am a proud agent of imperfection. It’s in my nature to have things that are chipped and broken, missing parts but still functioning. So I immediately connected with a worldview that pretty much says my acceptance of imperfection is not just the laziness I’ve been lead to believe.

 

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By ottmarliebert.com from Santa Fe, Turtle Island – White Pink Bowl, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

So what is wabi-sabi really? Probably one of the best explanations of the idea comes from Richard Powell: ““[w]abi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” While this might sound nihilistic as shit, it really isn’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard something so freeing and inspiring.  Let me break down why:  

NOTHING LAST

A roaring summer thunderstorm, your first kiss, the first time a baby says “Mama”, the jar of Nutella you hide in the cupboard to eat by the spoonful because said baby is now 9 years old and never stops saying “MAMA!”. All these things are fleeting. They exist and then they are gone. Their purpose is to be experienced. The thunderstorm inspires and connects you to the Earth. The kiss fills your heart and mind with oxytocin dripped love. The baby brings joy and purpose. The Nutella releases the stress that joy and purpose brings. The emotions they bring to you are beautiful because they are ephemeral. To experience the magic that is in a  beginning, you have to accept that there will be an end. It’s a bittersweet compromise. Being mindful enough to understand that all things have a finality helps you understand how important they truly are. It’s true for people too. Every person and every relationship in your life will eventually end, including yourself. Experience and love them now, in this moment because that is really all we have.

NOTHING IS FINISHED

Life is kind of like road construction here in South Carolina, it’s never finished. All things are a work in progress. Even if it looks complete, there are still pieces changing, ideas morphing, decay and regeneration happening. Nothing, not a building, an idea, an emotion or even a person is impervious to the changes in the world. So every decision we make, every storm we face changes who and what we are. Its uplifting to know that this is not our final form. No matter how bad things are currently, it is not the end of the story. The converse is also true. No matter how good things are, it is not the end of the story. With the burden of a final goal lifted we are free to continue learning, growing, and striving for better for our entire lives. We no longer have to worry about having to accomplish certain things by a certain time. I often struggle with feeling that the time I have to do certain things has run out. One of my deepest secrets is that I want to learn to dance and perform burlesque. For so long I’ve thought that since my age and station in life has meant I’ve missed my chance. But, if nothing is finished, then my chance is still on the table. And that fills me with hope.

NOTHING IS PERFECT

As much as I tout my love of imperfections, there was a time when I was forced to be perfect. In my young formative years, my mentally ill helicopter mother’s focus was on the perfection of my school work. But being the messy, head in the clouds, overly anxious and possibly ADD kid I was, that was never going to happen. I had too many ideas and too few chances to take them to get all the A’s she felt I should. I’m still trying to replace what was lost due to the price I paid for her expectations not being met. During this time, however, I did have one parent in my corner. , When I was bummed out and upset over not having everything come up aces, my dad would say “There was only one perfect person on the Earth, and they crucified him.” I took solace in those words then even if I didn’t quite understand them. Now, I totally understand what he was saying. Perfect is unattainable. Nothing, except for God himself, is perfect. And being perfect wasn’t even enough to save Him. (Sidenote: The Christian faith of my father obviously isn’t my jam these days. I do respect those that choose that path. You do you, fam. Just be nice and I’ll support ya)

If you accept that nothing in this world is perfect, its like life instantly becomes easier. The freedom in knowing that the world is going to be full of fuck ups no matter what you do lifts that blanket of stress clean off. It erases that compulsion to do things with only the end in mind and allows you to now enjoy the process.

 

And while we’re at it, I’d like to share this: Perfect is an illusion. Its a thing of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It’s a way to keep us plugging away without enjoying our life, hoping to achieve some magical happy ending. It keeps us unhappy, unsatisfied, and forever wanting more. If we banish the idea of perfection from our lives, we would be able to enjoy the beauty that is the mess and chaos that is life.

Fun fact: Wabi-Sabi is actually two words. Originally the word wabi referred to the loneliness of living in nature, away from society. Sabi embodied meanings that included  “chill”, “lean”, and “weathered”. (Unnessaccary sidenote: The meanings of “chill” and “lean” back then are nowhere near the definitions of them now. That “lean” Soulja Boy talks about is not the same type of “lean” ) Around the 14th century (and you thought this was new age hubbub didn’t you?) the words shifted and started having more positive connotations. The philosophy can be found in art, design, engineering and even the practice of the  Japanese tea ceremony.  

It’s not just a thought process, it’s a way of life.

One that I think is beautiful.

wabi sabi quotes

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The Queen and Her Crown

My husband had been vomiting for six hours. I had been on hold with the medical helpline for twenty minutes. In the living room, the two youngest kids were going to war with each other and the older one was trying to mediate. The dog was barking at the cat who was drinking from the dog’s water bowl. All of this played over a soundtrack provided by the whichever annoying Youtube Play-Along video the kids had previously been watching. The automated message telling me someone would join my call in just a moment repeated over and over in my ear. And for some reason, there was suddenly not enough air in the room.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no pause button on life. If there were, this would have been when I hit it, went outside, and screamed all of my worries and frustrations right into the face of the sun. Since that didn’t happen, I did the only thing I could. I took in a breath, put on the crown and started handling the shit in front of me like a Queen.

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Obviously, this was no a real crown. I’ve got some beanies and maybe even a baseball cap or two, but I do not own a crown.

Or a Queenly dress.

Or fancy shoes.

Or anything else you’d imagine a Queen has.

That’s because for me, being a Queen has fuck-all to do with outward appearances.

Being a Queen means taking a stand against the forces of self-doubt. It’s about bringing sovereignty to a world of chaos. More so, being a Queen is about justly, fairly, and fiercely reigning over your world. Most importantly, being a Queen also means not giving into and becoming incapacitated by fear.

I’m afraid a lot. In fact, I think it’s my factory preset is to be anxious. I have always been a Chicken Little type of person.  In the last few years, I’ve realized that letting this fear and its anxiety rule my life is unfair. It’s stolen moments and relationships. Its made me dependent on the wrong people. I have put myself in the hands of people who have not had my best interest in mind because I was afraid. When I look back at my life, there are so many times when instead of inspiring me, fear clipped my wings and locked the cage door.

As the primary caregiver for three young children and a husband with multiple health problems, I can no longer allow this fear to exist. By acknowledging my Queenhood, I rebuke the helplessness that fear brings. It gives me the confidence I need to accomplish the things I think I can not. I have people counting on me. And I can not let them down.

So when things get tough, when I feel overwhelmed, and when I’m certain the sky is falling, all I have to do is reach for the crown. My self-professed royalty lifts me up and turns me into the type of woman who bows the head and bends the knee to no one. Especially fear.

2018, so far, has shown me that my family needs a Queen who is not afraid to stand, back straight and chin high, in front of the adversaries in life and tell them to sit the hell down. Heavy may be the head that wears the crown, but someone needs to slay these dragons.

So since it doesn’t seem that this year is going to get easier

Note to Self:

Queen up, Buttercup. It’s time to reign.

 

P.S. The Husband ended up being taken to the hospital for a four-day stay. As a Type 1 diabetic, complications can strike at any moment, especially when battling other illnesses. We are still all recovering from this hectic and frightening start to the new year. The week of this posting, he will be returning to work. We’re hoping the bad times are behind us. Even if they aren’t, I’ve got my crown on.

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Cankles and their cotton picking connections

According to Google, a cankle is “an unusually thick or stout ankle.”  If you take a look at the images that pop up after that search you will see cankles are huge punch line in what sees to be a never ending fat joke. A lot of the memes circulating right now are at the expense of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Whatever feelings you have about them, you can agree that insults of this nature are low brow and juvenile. You will also notice a lot of “Get Thin Quick” style ads willing to help you eliminate your unsightly cankles for the low, low price of $19.99. Usually these ad have some mind blowing before and after pictures and a giant Click Here NOW!!

So, based on that, cankles are a bad thing right? Something completely and totally unattractive. Another thing women need to change about themselves to fit into the ever shrinking category of “Acceptable.” We mustn’t let ourselves be too thin, or flat, or hairy, or fat, or anything else that might be too much or, conversely, not enough. We must always, no matter the situation, be attractive. And we must never, ever have cankles.

Guess what? I have cankles. Big, thick, stout calf ankle hybrids. Starting after my scarred up knees, my legs flow, like fallen logs down a stream, into the flatlands that are my big wide feet. Since late elementary school, these chunky stems have been hidden under pants. People may assume, but they don’t for sure know. But I do.I have big cotton picking cankles.

And even though I’m using “cotton picking” as a tongue in cheek adjective, there’s some truth there. Going back many generations, the women of my blood line worked in the cotton fields and mills, picking and spinning the crop that made this part of the South.

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My maternal great grandmother, Grandmaw Katie, worked the fields with her husband Ott,  and their five children. ( Sidenote: Grandpaw Ott passed away before I was born, so while he is a family member, I don’t really know a lot about him.)  From sunup to sunset, they would move through the fields, hunched over at the waist, plucking the little balls of fluff out of their thistle homes. The fields they inched their way through were owned not by ‘well to do’ farmers but by ‘better to do’ farmers. No one was well off in their corner of the world. They picked cotton and tended the fields in exchange for a little clapboard house to stay in and a few dollars per bale.

It was a hard life but Grandma Katie was a hard, tough women. Story goes that she picked cotton right up until she was in active labor with one of my great uncles. She then went into the house, birthed the baby, and was back out in the field before the sun was down. I remember her being mean and stern in the way that only a grandmother can. And I remember, she too had big thick legs and cankles.

In her later years, they would swell and become stiff. Her knees would become hard and refuse to work right. Her ankles would expand over the edges of her good church shoes.  Both those legs traveled many miles inches at a time to keep a roof overhead. They stood hours upon hours in front of hot stoves, frying every part of the chicken to feed the hungry mouths at the table. They bowed at the knee to give praise to her god, and jumped and jived to the out of tune gospel music her sister played at reunions. Those legs worked a sewing making to make clothes out of flour sacks. Those legs birthed a generation, and held the ones after. They were the legs and cankles of a goddess.

When I was around 10, while hanging out looking at his motorcycle, my maternal uncle grabbed my calf. He laughed when I yelled.

“You got them thick Grandmaw Katie legs.” He said, working his fingers into the thickness of my calf, something between a tickle and a pinch.

I was ashamed, feeling the weight of a what I thought was a male declaration of my unsightliness. I was a young girl, I wasn’t suppose to have old lady legs. I was suppose to be little and pretty. I was not.  I pulled myself out of the uncomfortable air that surrounded us then and went back inside. I remember at the time, not fully understanding why I felt so weird by his comments. It would take me years to unpack all the things from that day. And if I’m truthful, I’ll admit, some days I still carry that memory as part of my heavy mental load. The next time I saw him, and every time after, I made sure to wear full pants.

A lot of time has passed. So has that uncle. And now, after a life of  being ashamed,  I’m proud of these thick legs and these stout cankles. I get shit done with these things. I’ve birthed a generation of my own and spend everyday helping them become who they are. I work a modern sewing machine pedal with these chunky extremities, making clothes and bags out of fabric a little more expensive than flour sack fabric. I worship my gods and goddesses with these legs and feet, using them to walk under the moonlight.  These cankles are important. And while they might not fit in most conventional boot sizes, they are wonderful.

As much as they are mine, they also belong to those who came before.  They are one of the links to not just my ancestors, but their strengths as well. I can only hope that wherever they are, the women that came before me are pleased with the woman I turned out to be. Cotton picking cankles and all. 

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