Sunday, January 25, 2009


I'm in the middle of a solo-parenting stint. Norm's in the UK. Emily has a cold, so we've spent more time indoors than normal.

It's cold outside.

I can't get out to walk the dog every day. He suffers, and so do I. I need to connect with the earth, even in winter when the ground is frozen and the snow whispers around my boots.

I've grabbed a moment to myself by letting her watch a Dora DVD. Later we're off to her friend's birthday party.

There is a huge amount of work to be done and I can't get started. I'm so overwhelmed that I don't know where to start. Do I pack? What do I pack? Do I organize and throw things away? Do I choose paint colours and hope that someone will show up to help me?

I am very afraid that I'm going to end up doing a lot of the work to get the unit ready all by myself. And I can't even go in to get a feel for what colours I might want, because I have to arrange to pay the rent, et cetera first. I'm stalled.

Emily is a pretty demanding kid at the best of times. She needs to be entertained constantly, having not figured out how to amuse herself. So when she's home, and awake, nothing gets done. She's worse when she's sick. She doesn't take no for an answer. And when she's asleep, I need to grab a few minutes just to vegetate...or lose my mind.

The house is a shambles.

One of the friends that I tutor called me in desperation. She needs help. This week. Next week will not do. I told her that I couldn't come this week, because N was away and I didn't have child care. She accepted my response. And called back and hour later, asking if she could come to me.

Well, yeah, after 9 pm on a weeknight, this dissolving any hope I have of snatching a moment or two of relaxation before bed. I should have said no.

I didn't. I couldn't. I know that her English skills are poor, and without my help she could fail her course.

Writing? What?

I know that all this work, the preparation, the planning, is supposed to get me somewhere. I'm starting to lose sight of where that is. I've become bogged down in the mire of details and peripherals. And yet, I can't move forward until the boxes are packed, the rooms are painted, the furniture is arranged, and I can sink into my soft bed in a room that's truly mine, in a home that's mine, with the comforts that I love to surround myself with. A house that is big enough to hold everything I value, and small enough that I can keep clean, without undue stress.

Part of this stagnant feeling comes from having no time for anything. Emily spends a lot of time with her dad, ordinarily. They miss each other. And in many ways, I miss him.

I would miss him less if I actually lived with him, and his way of suppressing what is not important to him. His subtle digs at paganism, belief of any kind in life after death, his declarations that classical music is the only worthwhile musical pursuit. His affirmations that my writing should be about earning more money. His denial of global warming, his fiscal conservative mindset. So not me.

But away from him, not being his partner, these things matter less. We are quite comfortable with each other. We confide and plan together. We know that our shared connection, the child we created, will keep us together in some measure for the rest of our lives. And we're both okay with that.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder...what if....what if I felt even the smallest iota of physical desire for him?

Only now, at the age of forty-three, am I beginning to explore the concept of desire and what it means to me. For me, until now, sex was always something performed upon me...I was passive, I knew that certain things would give me pleasure, I had to have them in order to get through an act that really held nothing for me.

I though I was frigid.

The year after Emily was born, I think we had sex twice. And then we returned to some kind of weekly or bi-weekly perfunctory routine, that I would attempt to escape by feigning sleep or something, because as soon as his hands strayed to my hip as I lay on my side, I knew what was coming next, and I dreaded it. Oh well, if I have to....

After my surgery, I slept in a recliner for months. My back was so bad, I couldn't sleep in a bed....but how much of that was psychological? How much of that was my body rebelling against what my mind would not admit?

I never felt desire for him. I never looked at him in wonder, admiring the lines of his body, waiting for moments alone so that I could touch...there was nothing there.

I suppose, I could have kept on pretending. After all, who really knows if I'll ever be with anyone else? I could spend the rest of my life alone. People do. And then the things I had, mostly material, would still be mine.

But I would wake up at night with this strange body humming that would not go away. And I would ache to touch... me, who waited passively, to actually act, to take part....touch smooth skin, female curves, feel heat beneath my fingers. I had to take the chance, trust that somewhere out there, I could find what I have been denying myself all my adult life.

And he never really had all of me. It wasn't fair to him. He deserves more than my automated attempts at feigning passion. It's just easy to lull myself into a sense of comfort when he is around....he is so familiar, supportive, solid.

But I can't go back there. I know it would be wrong for me.

While every chaos imaginable has been thrust upon me, my mind is turning poetic again.
It's time for me to write a poem for Brighid....for this event(will add link later...blogger is misbehaving), which takes place every year at Imbolc. Sometimes I post something that inspires me, written by someone else. This year I'm determined to post something that I've created myself. I have images bubbling through my brain....must write them down.

The fog in my heart will clear as the week moves along.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

comme si, comme sa

A little of this, a little of that. So-so. Good, and not so good.

I was offered a three bedroom unit at the co-op I mentioned in a previous post. It has a lovely layout - eat-in kitchen, large living room, a huge master with two closets, and two smaller bedrooms, one for Emily, and one for my books, which need a room of their own. Seriously, I really like the idea of having an office/spare room. Things have really fallen into place, as they have a habit of doing when I am on the right path. The furniture I need has appeared. Emily has a cool loft bed, courtesy of my nephew, and I will soon have a futon for the spare room. The previous member left their washing machine behind, and in a few months I will have a dryer. Until then, what I can't hang to dry, I can bring to the laundromat in the complex. I found pots and dishes I like, and some bargains at a local thrift store. I can easily afford rent and utilities on my own. There are - get this - tall trees in my back yard. Trees! Shading my unit, lovely, leafy green trees. I love the house I'm in, but there are only two small trees.

The caveat: Worst. Painting. Job. Ever. I'm not kidding. The front hall has never been painted. The kitchen is - peach. Not a subtle pastel peach, but an in-your-face shade of oh yuck that I cannot stand. The living room is some shade of green, painted about ten years ago. The bedrooms - red. All three of them. A violent shade of red that makes me feel like I'm entering a cave of some kind. The room that I would prefer for Emily has alternating red and yellow walls. Eeeewwww.

In short, I must paint. I have about three weeks to paint the entire unit. Another good bit is that the co-op will pay for paint. I just need some help getting it done. When I think about the whole job, it's overwhelming, and I start shutting down, and then I tell myself what's true. I am not alone.

N found out yesterday that his uncle has passed away in England. So N will be flying to Heathrow with his mother tomorrow, and staying in the UK for a week. Uncle D never married, had no children of his own, and his closest family lives in Canada. N has been wanting to visit him for a few years now, and it's very sad that he's only able to go now. At least he is able to go, to say goodbye, and to give his mom the support she needs.

My SIL's father is also not doing very well. He's in hospital, he has serious heart problems, but I've heard nothing more.

I'll be on my own with Emily for a week. Not completely, as Megan is still at home, and is able to help out a lot more. Her mobility increases every day. We've figured out how to get Emily to and from school, but I will be busier than usual, so if I'm not around here as much, I'm sure you'll understand.

My coven will be studying a book by Starhawk for the next year and a half, called the Twelve Wild Swans. My introduction to this book, at our last ritual, is a blog post all on it's own, powerful and fraught with more self-examination than I was really ready for. The book is based on a celtic myth, and deals with personal transformation, but also focuses on ways to give a global focus to our personal practice. More on that later. But I thought I was finished with seems the universe has more in store for me.

Next Thursday night, Ferron and Kate Reid are playing in Waterloo. In the midst of all the turmoil that is my life, I will get a couple of hours of peace and wonderful music. And maybe, maybe, if Kate isn't too busy, and if I'm not too busy, I might get to spend more than five minutes with her on this visit through town.

And if I don't, a hug will have to do.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Won!

Sinnerviewer gave me this lovely award:

In exchange for accepting said award, I must list five addictions. Or, as Sinnerviewer did, list five things I really, really like. The problem is choosing only five do I narrow it down?

1. Girls...with guitars.

Like her:

And her:

And her:


We are just scratching the surface here folks....

2. Girls with knives....eta...I mean chefs....

Like her:

(Chef Lynn Crawford)

And her:

(chef Lisa from top chef)

And her:

(chef Kat Cora)

Which leads to addiction number 3:

The Food Network. Canadian version. Restaurant Makeover, Top Chef, Iron Chef, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Hell's Kitchen et all. I started watching when I had a herniated disc and I can't stop. One of my favourites is Chef School, a reality show based on the Stratford Chef School. I've lived near Stratford most of my life, and I've met(or know people who know, it's a small town, really) a few of the students and chefs featured on the show.


Chocolate. Enough said.


For my non-Canadian readers, it's just the best darn coffee on the planet. When I move, the nearest Tim's will be three blocks away, instead of conveniently across the road. Waahhh! (insert inarticulate whining sounds here....)

Now, I am supposed to list five people on which to bestow this lovely award. But I don't think that I have five if you're reading, and you haven't won yet, consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I figured out what a ning is. I asked my computer savvy ex.

Ning is a social networking site where you can create online fourms. I browsed through dozens of writer's workshops and sites, but couldn't find one that quite suited my needs. The next step may be to create my own...but I have to do some serious thinking about what I want, and come up with a catchy name (not my forte).

I must have heard about ning somewhere in passing, and while I was pondering my own need for a writer's community, it must have risen from my subconscious...or it was divine intervention. Who knows?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

my first love

Okay Maria, here you go...

It was summer, and I was running away from home, like I'd done every summer since I was thirteen.

Home was not such a bad place to be. But the town I grew up in was decidedly closed, closed-minded and unfriendly towards people who did not fit the norm. I tried to fit, couldn't, gave up some time in the eleventh grade and spend most of my teenage years being miserable. Every summer I would end up somewhere else, much to my relief, because the only thing worse than having to go to school in that town, and face regular bullying, was to spend the summer there - not swimming, not hanging out with friends, not in any of the places where teens spent their time, because I was a frequent and visible target for hatred. I was not the only one, but I sure felt like it.

I did have friends, but I felt no guilt at abandoning them for the summer. Most often, I would end up babysitting for a relative that lived out of town. When I was sixteen, I flew 2,500 miles away and babysat for my aunt near Lethbridge Alberta. When I was seventeen, I spent the summer working as a camp counselor, at a camp for underprivledged girls north of Toronto.

I was a naive, unaware small town girl. The other counselors at the camp, especially compared to me, were street-wise and sophisticated. Most of them smoked. On the very first day, my cabin mates regaled each other with tales of preteen acid trips, the other drugs they'd tried, and their sexual exploits. From my top bunk, I listened with fascination.

We had arrived at camp a week before the campers, to get camp ready, and to meet the other counselors. On our first night, we introduced ourselves and chose a nickname.

I will not reveal mine. Ever.

There were about twenty-five girls. All of them were from the Toronto area, and I felt homesick and out of place. It was hard for me to talk to anyone - living with twenty-five strangers was going to be extremely difficult. Somehow that had escaped me when I applied for the job.

The girl sitting next to me was beautiful...she had curly dark hair that fell to her shoulders, and these amazing blue eyes. She was small and athletic. I couldn't talk to her, I couldn't talk to anyone, because I felt so very out of place. For the next few days, we prepared for campers. We did swimming tests (I did well for that) and canoeing tests (I cannot

Friday, January 2, 2009

reflections, gratitude, goals

Reflecting on the past year kind of makes my head spin. Is it any wonder? In 2008, I lost 100 pounds (I lost the first 30 in 2007). I started writing again after a long, stale hiatus. I began to face my fears, and the reasons for my food addiction. I came out to myself, my former partner, my kids, my friends, and some of my family. My brother almost died. My relationship ended. I went to my first-ever writer's workshop, met fabulous women and had an amazing time, in the middle of all that stress. I went back to work. N moved out. My oldest moved back home for a few months. She got hit by a car in November. I met Amy Ray...and a few other amazing people. I'm preparing to move to a new home (hopefully) that I can afford.

I've gone from a size 26 to a size 13 in fifteen months.

I found my voice.

I bought a new guitar.

I learned so much about myself. But I'm still reeling. It's like being in the center of a tornado. So much has happened, so quickly, and with an upcoming move, I know that it's not over.

I have many things to be grateful for:

-My kids. I learn as much from them as they learn from me.

-My health. Wow. I can walk. I can run if I want to. And exercise, and hike, and go camping, and ride a bike. Without pain, without getting winded, and with enthusiasm. It's hard to do all of those things when you weigh 300 pounds.

-My family.

-My brother because he's still alive, and fully recovered. When you get 520 volts, there should be some damage, right? But even his memory is intact. The only thing he can't remember is the accident, and some of his hospital time. And personality-wise, he is very much the same brother I've always had.

-Megan. It could have been much, much worse.

-N, my ex. For being as supportive as can be when I came out. And for continuing to act with compassion and caring. He puts his child first, and he's a fantastic co-parent. And a good friend. There have been bumps, there will be bumps, but I am blessed to have him in my life.

-Ferron and the Wet Ink workshop, and all the women who formed a community for five great days, for helping me rediscover my writing voice, and the "woman behind the door." If she's still running them next year, and you can get to kalamazoo, I highly recommend it.

-All those independent women who make fabulous music.

-Ditto, for my favourite writers.

-My dog, who loves me unconditionally.

-Chocolate, which doesn't love me at all. But that matters not a whit. I can still indulge once in a very little while.

- Me, for finally having the courage to live my life authentically. And for being who I am. I love who I am. Tall, redheaded, clumsy, quirky and gay.

-You, for reading, and for supporting me always.

And my goals for 2009?

-Independence. Financially, socially, emotionally. I'm already well on my way, but I need to know that I don't have to rely on anyone else for company, for money, as a crutch when I don't think I can do it on my own. I always figured - it was conditioning as a child - that there would always be someone to take care of me. A man - of course. Why bother with college if you're going to get married anyways? I want my kids to be self-sufficent, as I have never been, until now. I want good credit, and a bank account that's not always in overdraft. I want to know that I have enough to live comfortably, and then some.

-A more active social life. This may or may not include dating in the future. Right now it does not. I need to seek out other people. I spend way too much time at home alone. Which is good for writing, but eventually I'll run out of things to write about....

-A stronger body. I walk 4-6 km a day. I need to do more strength training, work on my abs and lower body. Because I want to be healthy, and I'm desperate to lose that "wrinkled skin" look.

-More and better writing. Regular, disciplined writing practice.

-Spiritual practice that's solitary and meaningful. I need to do more than work with my coven, but finding time is a challenge.

-Community. I need a writing community. Even with blogging, I often feel like I'm pouring myself into a void. I don't post a lot of fiction or poetry because I feel rather naked when I do it - I get a comment or two, which is great. But I'm hungry for feedback. I want support from other writers and I want to support them in turn. The Wet Ink workshop was a great start, and it showed me that the kind of community I'm looking for is possible. I started going to witchcamp about five years ago, and after a year or two, I started thinking to myself - this is great, but what about the other 360 days? And then I became part of a coven, a community of like-minded women with a common spiritual practice. That's how I'm feeling right now about writing - if I can find community with other women who write for five days, why not the rest of the year? I've looked at writing groups locally, online groups, meetups, stuff like that, but they're not quite....right. I need to be able to write freely, about whatever I choose, without judgment or bias, without being attacked for my beliefs, my writing style, whatever.

If I can't find it, I'll start one on my own. I've been mulling the possibilities. And then last night I had a dream.....

I won't write the whole thing down because a lot of it isn't relevant. But at the end of the dream, this teenage boy comes up to me, and he gives me a plastic travel mug. He's written a song down in the bottom of the mug, etched it into the plastic with chord diagrams and everything. (which is how I feel about my writing - it's accessible only to me - in the back of a closet, between the covers of a notebook that no one ever reads). The lyrics are pretty banal, and I'm trying to think of ideas for him, to help jump-start his writing skills. Prompts, tricks, different techniques to draw out images...because he has the desire to create, but has no one to help him. I'm standing at a counter, musing aloud, and another woman says to me " My teenagers had a ning once. It would have helped you. Too bad they threw it away." I remarked carelessly that if I needed a ning, I could always get one from my ex, because he's a computer whiz. I look into the bottom of the travel mug and mutter "what's a ning? What's a ning?" and then I wake up.

I feel like whatever a ning is - and it could be some nonsense word for something buried deep in my psyche - it's the key to helping me create the community I desire. If only I could figure it out.....

It's a lofty goal, but it's really important to me to step out of the void, share my work, and create community with other women. I need to make this happen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

resolutions? not today.....

I don't make resolutions for myself. I set intentions, I think about what I want to achieve, and how I can get there. I look back a little bit, too, see where I've been and whether or not I've met the goals of the past year.

I'll get to that later.

I fully intended to blog about my goals. I woke up with that idea in my head, but something else happened instead. I gave myself a tarot reading. As a pagan, my new year begins on Samhain. Part of Samhain ritual is often devoted to divination - using tarot, scrying, runes, and other tools to see into the future. But this samhain I scryed, and got nothing. So now I get to try again.

If I were a television psychic, I would ensure that the following was noted as being "for entertainment purposes only" in order to legally cover my ass. But since this is my reading, about me, and nobody's paying for it, I can do whatever the hell I want. Believe or not, as you choose. It will be great fun for me to go back, in a year, and see what was accurate or not about my reading.

I actually did two spreads. The first is called the "tree of life" spread, and it's designed to tell you where you are in your life at this moment. The cards are ordered as follows:


3 2
5 4
8 7

For those of you that care, I use a traditional Rider-Waite deck. I've had these cards for a few years now. They used to belong to my ex, who is a confirmed skeptic and atheist. Not sure what he did with them, but he was happy to pass them on to me. I have another deck, called the Gilded Tarot, but I can't really connect with it - not sure why. But my cards are mine, they speak to me, and I like them, although some people find the images old-fashioned. If blogger is nice to me, I'll try to post illustrations.

There are set, standard meanings for the cards, and reams of books out there that can help with interpretation. I try to rely on my intuition first, and I record what I see. If I get stuck, or I really can't figure it out, then I'l look at a book. For some reason, I'm much more comfortable with the Minor Arcana.

Card 1 - The spiritual world, my attitudes towards it, my current state of being:

Three of Wands

The figure in the card seems to be overlooking a difficult journey. To me, in this card there's always the sense of having arrived somewhere, and finally having the time and space to look back on the journey. The figure (which I've interpreted as myself) has reached a summit, or pinnacle - goals have been achieved, and she/he is looking towards whatever comes next. This card (according to the book) is also about manifesting one's dreams into reality.

And I have. And my dreams grow bigger and more elaborate each day.

Card 2 - Energy, drive, spheres of responsibility

Six of Swords

This card gives me a sense of both sadness and happiness. The figures are moving away from something that's given them pain, moving towards an unknown future. I get a sense of loss, but also of hope - what lies ahead is unknown, but things aren't likely to get worse, only better. The cards reminds me of some personal characteristics I have - sometimes I have trouble letting go of things, and trusting the universe. And I tend to over-analyze to the point where I cannot see reality clearly. The swords, representing the intellect, are clouding the vision of the person who's steering the boat.

Card 3 - Understanding the limiting or containing factors operating in my life

15 The Devil

The devil - what is now viewed as the personification of evil - was once known as "the horned god" and invoked during fertility rites. The devil represents physical desire and material concerns - money, security, and home. I get this - while I know on one level that a relationship would be wrong, wrong wrong for me right now, it's hard to be without one, and hard to be alone in the physical sense. When I look at this card I also think about my tendency towards depression, and my sometimes negative outlook on myself - my appearance, my ability to be attractive, my uncertainty about my sexuality (not my orientation, just in general, tied with appearance and how I'm perceived by others). I feel like I need to test things out - what if after losing 125 pounds, there is still no physical appeal there?

Oh, insecurity! What would I do without you?

Card 4 - Financial matters, practical activities

Two of Wands

I have the world in the palm of my hand. Or so it seems. Materially, I feel really good about things. This card is about good business deals - and the closest thing to a business deal that I can think of is moving, and letting N buy me out. Our current financial arrangements are good for both of us - within a year we should have our debt paid off, and that means that the equity in the house will mean a material advantage for me. But I also see in this card a sense of separation - there is a wall that divides me from where I want to be. I'm still in the house, I still have the attachment to the material, and I need to keep moving forwards. I also think about my creative goals, and the fact that they're on the back burner a little bit - earning a living and providing for myself materially has taken priority over my creative goals. I feel like I need to balance that out a little bit.

Card 5 - Strife, challenges, opposition to overcome

VII The Chariot

In The Chariot, I see androgyny. I like androgyny, so that's good. I see a balance of energy - black - white, male-female, and opposing forces that occur in nature. All good. I see the twin-spirited me. But the figure in the card is blocking my path - I can't get to the city behind him/her unless I can get past the figure who seems to guard it.

This time I consulted my book, (I recommend the book but not the cards. I can't stand the marsailles deck) and this is what I found:

" linked with Cancer and the crab, this card also expresses the tenacity of that sign. Crabs hang on tightly, do not give up easily and often make intuitive sideways moves. They are extremely self-protective, for their tough outer shell cradles a vulnerable, soft interior. Ruled by the moon, they are more aware than most signs of the shifting of the universe."

Well, I'm a Cancer. And that pretty much describes my inner world. I can't fully let go of the past and move ahead. And it's not easy for me to open up - I want to stay protected and safe inside my shell. In short, I am my own worst enemy, and the obstacle that stands in the way of achieving my goals.

Card 6 - Achievements, Success, outer image

III The Empress

I love this card. The mother goddess. Fullness, ripeness, feminine energy. Balance. Creative energy flowing. Fertility and productivity. Comfort. Earthy, sensual. Abundance.

Enough said.

Card 7 - Love life, emotional attachments and surrounding emotions

Four of Cups reversed

So here,a gift is being offered and the figure in the card is refusing it. Perhaps out of fear. I tend to shut people out - I don't call my friends, I stay at home alone when I could go out, I keep my crab shell on all the time. The reverse of this card is a warning - don't settle for shallow relationships because of insecurity...don't let fear rob you of the valuable gifts that life has to offer. This time I turn to the Charge of the Doreen Valiente..."And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire."

I need to fill my own cup first, and then I can accept the gift of someone else's love.

Card 8 - Worldly matters - business, career, cultural and artistic endeavors

V - The Hierophant

I have a bias against this card, because it's very pope-like, and reminds me of all the negative things about the catholic church - like patriarchy and hierarchy. He's the pope, people, and what does he have to do with me? Oh, the favoured one to whom we bow low? Convention? Male energy (not in itself a bad thing, but in a church context it's heavily imbalanced). Maybe this is where I turn convention on its head....

But really, in spite of my lofty artistic ambitions, I'm working in a conventional job, because I must. An environment in which I'm comfortable, but which doesn't feed my creative side very well. I've worked in child care for 16 years now. I still enjoy the work, but I feel the stagnation that this card reminds me of. My job is not enough, and I rationalized that I could do the work as long as I could still find an outlet for my creative energy. It hasn't worked out the way I expected. I need to carve a niche for myself, take a chunk of time and start writing again, or I'll end up worshiping some god that I can't stand, like the paycheque and doing it because I have to god. I also see a desire for community in this card - I need community in order to reach my creative potential, and I haven't found it yet. Those five glorious days in August need to stretch over the rest of the year...somehow. Spiritually I need to go deeper, and start to listen to the inner voice, spend more time writing, meditating, creating, and in silence.

Card 9 - The unconscious mind and all its depths. Physical health.

Two of Pentacles

This is a card of balance. Carrying two loads, identities, personas.... a juggling act for sure. I feel like I'm juggling a lot of time. The two-spirited me. Walking in the straight world while learning more about the gay me. The me who is living in a house I can't afford and waiting to move. The me who schedules time with and without her child. Balancing the creative and the practical is also significant here. I seem to be able to juggle all this stuff - I have more balance now than I've had in years.

Card 10 - My roots. Home, family, close relationships

Ten of Wands

This card is supposed to be positive, but I always feel overwhelmed when I look at it. There's so much work to be done. And why don't I have the courage to ask for help when I need it? It's about being overwhelmed, but also about knowing that there is a reward coming for all of my hard labour. I'm busy, very busy creating a new life for myself, becoming independent. I am not alone, and I need to remember that, and ask for help when I need it. What I'm doing is so important to me personally, but so hard.

Whew, that was a lot of writing. Are you still with me? I'll post the other reading later.