Sunday, November 22, 2015

Come home to yourself

Taffy colored canoes laid out to dry out by the lake.
This weekend I went to Rasa-Lila Fest... a beautiful yoga festival held outdoors on an old Boy Scout campground in Odessa FL... enjoyed some group meditation with Tibetan singing bowls, explored the grounds and lake, met some interesting folks and enjoyed delicious Indian food! 

Murky, heavy Spanish moss draping trees on the grounds.
Breathe and stretch... we practiced yoga while enjoying guided meditation and Tibetan singing bowls.
Gorgeous lily pads dappling the nearby lake.

Close up of an old wooden bench. Oh the stories it could tell if it had the voice, or if we had the ears.

Glossy print version of the afternoon sky's reflection.
Adventurous yogis paddle-boarding into the warm evening.

It is great to be getting out and living again after six years of staying a captive in my own home. Every blade of grass, smile, taste of new food, each social interaction no matter how slight or subtle... I embrace it all. Life is delicious... there is so much around the corner to look forward to and enjoy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The spirit is timeless...

Sparky says, "The things I put up with for you, Ma!"

I started this blog four years ago when I was 36... and I've now reached a milestone... four whole decades! The funny thing is, ever since my awakening, I've felt increasingly light and youthful in my spirit. As each day goes by, I feel younger inside, more buoyant. I see through physical things as if they are ethereal. I never knew things would turn out like they did so far in my life.

It's pretty cool that right at this turning point between 39 and 40, the age that is usually not eagerly celebrated, I'm pretty much jumping for joy. After 6 years of being very ill, too sick and agoraphobic to leave the house, my physical health has dramatically improved more than it ever has, and emotionally I feel more healed and grounded. This transformation has been slow... it started last year and has accelerated the most since this past spring and summer. I feel like throwing the biggest party ever to celebrate my greatly improved health, my independence, and the doors that are now wide open for me. Yay!
In lieu of birthday cake, this year I made a gluten free brownie with salted cashews... yum!

Sparky says, "Let's skip the hats and get to the brownie, Ma!"

M is a dear, and placidly accepts her birthday hat. She is so trusting and gentle.

Two goofballs... the small one I'm holding is one of the
 best thing that ever 'happened' to me. <3

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I moved!

Spied this fellow sunning on a log early one morning... I'm no longer in Pennsylvania!
Yes, it's true. I'm living in sunny Florida now! Moving here has been a life goal for me for some time. It's crazy how different my life is now, compared to a couple months ago. Everything has radically shifted in a positive way. My health is much better, and I've officially left K. His verbal and emotional abuse was making it difficult for me to heal from PTSD. I knew I needed to get away from him in order to recover, and so after many months of planning and manifesting, it all came together.

While K was at work, I left him a note on the kitchen table explaining that I had left. He didn't know I was gone until he came home and read the letter. He would have gone violent verbally if he had known of my intent to leave, so I had to keep my plans secret from him. By the time he read my letter, I was gone. My sister had came in the middle of the day and drove me to the airport. After I checked in, Sparky rode in a little zip up kennel on roller wheels that I pulled him around in through the air port. After we went through security, he merrily pranced around on his leash, full of glee, greeting people and charming the socks off of each person he met. While we flew, he slept quietly in the kennel which fit after much prodding and configuring under the seat in front of me.
I've been living in Florida here for about two and half months now. It still feels like such a wonderful shift, that I have to keep pinching myself. I'm living with gentle, peaceful people who are sensitive and thoughtful. Like me, they are health conscious and eat cleanly. We practice yoga and meditation, as well as easeful living. Things are light and easy, joyful. My guard is down and I can breathe freely.
Afternoon sun filtering through a neighbor's palm trees.

My agoraphobia of six years is gone. I used to be too shaky and terrified to even go into my own backyard for years, let alone go a walk. I spent years not going to the grocery store, not getting into a car, not talking to people. Now it's different. I flew on my own from my small town in Pennsylvania to Florida twice.... once to visit friends and get a feel for the area, then again to move here.
I flew with friends from Florida to California to enjoy a week long music festival. We missed our flight during a layover, but I wasn't anxious at all... it was simply fun and smooth sailing.
I went with friends on a camping trip where we stayed in bunks, had a midnight bonfire, and went kayaking and hiking. I can't swim, had never kayaked before, and was running on five hours of sleep the night before, but I was chill and energized, in the moment... it was a magical time floating out in the dappled water... me munching seasoned chickpeas and chocolate chips out of a zip lock, in a happy haze, laughing with my friends who were swapping stories and bumping their kayaks into obstacles in the river accidentally, and laughing.

Spanish moss waving lazily in the humid afternoon across the street from me.
I also go out shopping now without a second thought. I used to get dizzy if I did venture out to a store... the bright lights and colors were overwhelming, and all the products made me feel like I couldn't focus and was being caved in on... it was really scary. Being a passenger in a car was also scary after not being in a car for years... it felt like being on a roller coaster, with buildings and people whooshing at me really fast... quite dizzy making. Now I'm completely fine. I adore going to the store now and seeing so many choices of food... I've been trying so many new foods now, which makes my inner body smile and come alive with energy.
I get out of the house pretty much every day, or every other day now, going shopping, to appointments, to music festivals, meeting new friends as I go. The other weekend I went to a yoga festival, and today perhaps I'll go to the local dog park with both my puppies. Sparky has a new puppy friend here where I live... I'll call her H to protect her anonymity, lol. Sparky didn't have a fenced in yard back in PA, and so he always had to be on a leash in the yard or while walking on trails. Now he and H run like ponies in the back yard, sometimes with soft thundering puppy 'gallops' as they whip around the corner of the house. H is 105 years old in human years now, but she has sass and spunk. When she is chasing Sparky and can't quite catch him, she does a low, throaty growl to show her displeasure.... as Sparky zips past her.

Late day sun through the palms.
It's hilarious to see them chase each other with complete abandon, with Sparky's fur rippling in the wind and his ears flapping.  I run barefoot in the warm grass with them sometimes, and it does my heart so much good to enjoy the freedom of running in nature with my silly companions. All I need to say is "Go, go, go!" which is Sparky's cue to run up to H, leap up with both paws on her back as if to say, "Come on!" She whips around and chases him, and off we all go, circling round the yard in the morning sun with the wind blowing our hair and their fur.
I credit my improved health, both physical health and anxiety... to a combination of efforts. First of all, nothing just fell out of the sky or simply improved with time. I had to make a focused efforts to make changes. I had been having fierce daily migraines for a year and a half straight, and had been seeing a neurologist who prescribed various medications. Some of the meds he prescribed to ameliorate the migraines also had an anxiety reducing effect. I kept experiencing a significant, sometimes complete decrease in other physical symptoms, such as nausea, IBS, fatigue, brain fog, and muscle pain. After seeing this trend with various meds, a light bulb went of. My biggest issue after all this time has been anxiety and trauma. Now that I have a handle on this, I can have my life back. One medication in particular, Neurontin, seems to have the best calming effect on me. It has changed my life, and because of it, I no longer have agoraphobia. I went on and off of it three times just to make sure it was or wasn't helping me, and the last time I experimented with going off of it, then back on, it was very clear that it helped me. However, yoga, meditation, deep belly breathing, and living in this new, relaxed atmosphere without K stressing me out has made a world of difference as well.

My life has begun all over again, after six years of waiting in a quiet cocoon. The door has opened, and I've walked through. I'm living again.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


To take or not to take, to post or not to post? There are many happy souls who glibly take selfies without a second thought, and then there are the goofballs like me, the former wound-tights who agonize over the whole process... before tapping into their inner truths and embracing what is right for them. Selfies are as unique as the amazing individual taking them, and the beauty of the whole thing is, only you can decide what feels right for you.
Personally, selfies have historically been quite a tricky concept for me to wrap a named emotion around. I am inexplicably drawn to taking photos since it helps me feel like I actually exist. Growing up as a middle child in a family of 6, I developed middle child syndrome and often felt invisible. Being naturally introverted and non pushy made it that much easier for me to be overlooked. While my siblings had several overstuffed albums of baby photos each to themselves, I had maybe three baby photos slid hastily into a manila folder. I used to think I was adopted.  What else could have explained the whole missing photo mystery? 
After feeling like I didn't quite exist as a real human as a kid, I unwittingly fell back into a similar phase as an adult. After 2009, I got agoraphobia and dropped out of society, spending the last six years in a surreal like cocoon punctuated only by a visit from the postman or trip to the doctor. It was then that I felt like I was living in a dream, that I was someone else outside my body, looking down at this character who was "me." I started taking photos of myself to prove that I was indeed real.

I guess we take photos for many reasons. To feel real, to actually exist. To relive events. I actually also love taking photos because it feels healthy. It's a way for me to balance out the extreme religious teachings I grew up with, where taking a photo of yourself was considered to be a selfish past time, a taboo activity.

Le'me tell you, there was a lot of preaching in my home growing up about selfishness and pride. I decided to be super humble, but it got to the point of where I was not looking in mirrors or allowing myself to care about what I looked like at all. I didn't let myself even think about taking a photo of myself. I became so colorless and afraid to glow, that it became detrimental.

So there are extremes in both directions, but after my overly modest, unselfish and hyper humble youth, I'm ready to balance it all out and indulge in a huge smile while sharing with you all that I absolutely love selfies. 

I love taking them, and I love when you all take them and post them for your friends to see.

A selfie is life, joy, attitude, self expression.

I just love your selfies. I love when you rock an outfit that you want to share with everyone, and I love that selfie you took when you felt extra radiant. I feel empathy for you when you look down or pensive in your selfie, and I can't help but grin at the selfies of you when you're being goofy. I totally dig the selfies of you and your cross eyed cat, and the ones you take of you with your indignant pet bunny whose face is smashed up against your grinning cheeks. I love your driver's seat selfies, and your almost drunk selfies where you're having a blast out with your friends. The joy just radiates from you.

I love the dressing room selfies where you're totally glamming it up in outfits you never dream of buying, but that look in your eyes says it all. You're having the time of your life... and you shared it with all of us. I love the bathroom mirror selfies that capture the subtle look in your expression that tells a story more than words could say... you're sharing a piece of your day with us with just this simple photo, and it's your way of saying hi to your friends in a creative, cool way.

All these selfies... they are a window into your beautiful, sometimes crazy and chaotic, amazing life, and you willingly share them with all of us... and for that I say thank you, and Namaste.

This summer while I was still in Pennsylvania,
holding Sparky who hopped out of the photo, LOL.

While at a week long music festival
in California this September!

Wearing my new rudraksha, which I love.

Goofy selfie, LOL

Right before I moved to Florida... so happy
to be changing my life!

Namaste, and keep taking selfies!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Spooky good

My neighbor's ghosts came out to play!

So I was walking in the dark the other night and caught a glimpse of some goofy, grinning ghosts swaying in the evening air, hanging from a lit up tree. I snapped a quick photo with my phone and laughed. Why are folks down here celebrating a cold weather holiday in the middle of summer? Talk about rushing it! Pumpkins, hay bales and corn stalks aren't meant to come out until there's a nip in the air, guys! I know holidays seem to get pushed forward each year sooner and sooner, but come on now!
And then it hit me once again, as it has so many times already in the last couple months... this magical thought that made me smile the hugest grin ever while pausing on my walk in the warm humid night... I am living in land of perpetual and forever summer. Yes, there were lit up Christmas trees in the Target last week, and wreaths and candy canes lit up on the side of the mall as well. But I'm still wearing shorts and tank tops, and it's still way too hot to walk the dogs mid day. I still have to wait till evening. We pulled out Christmas mugs out of storage, and they're in the cupboard now, but it's way too warm to be filling them with hot cocao, lol. Instead, I drink coconut water to stay hydrated. We went to the beach last week, and we're planning a trip there in the next couple weeks as well.
My dearest friends... I am not living in Nirvana, but I'm pretty damn well close to it. A life time goal has been met, and it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm living where summer lasts all year long. I'm in Florida now. Yes, I've moved from my small town in cold and chilly Pennsylvania, and I'm now starting a new life in Florida.
My whole world has turned upside down, and I'm still pinching myself.
In a good way.

Friday, October 30, 2015


I don't know if I'll ever shake the need to be secretive. About, like, everything. Even writing this blog is a big stepping off point for me. It still feels taboo to be actually writing things that anyone could find and read.

Growing up in a highly religious home with a parent who cross examined everything I did, looking for sin and finding it where there was none... helped me unconsciously fall into the habit of feeling like I was sinning when I wasn't. I thought I was sinning pretty much most of the time even though looking back I know now I wasn't.  The hyper focus on sin has made me cross examine every little thing I do even now. I'm always fearfully looking over my shoulder, carefully dotting my I's and crossing my T's. I feel guilty about things that are innocent, like this blog. 

I was talking to one of my sisters the other day about being afraid to 'like' anything on social media. We talked about the need to make a pseudo account for ourselves so we could express ourselves more freely. The thing is, nobody that I'm 'friends' with on social media would think twice to question or guilt trip me on expressing myself. Yet, I still don't feel safe expressing myself. Being bland and colorless, saying nothing, is easier. Safer.
I remember what it was like being a sensitive soul as a child, traumatized and judged within an inch of breathing... and I just do not want to put myself out there and risk a replay of that scenario.

The fear is still there.

But not as much as it used to be.

Subconscious motto of the past: Someone's on to you.
New motto: You're safe to express yourself!
I'm re-parenting my inner child and telling her that I approve of this blog. I approve of her courage in expressing herself. I approve, and she is safe.

2. self

Friday, September 4, 2015

You are beautiful

Can you really fully experience being you if you never get outside of yourself?
Do you really know who you are if you've never experienced yourself through the eyes of others?

My cat Maggie will never fully experience being Maggie because she has absolutely no clue how beautiful, hilarious, and goofy she is. She hasn't yet looked in a mirror and said,
Oh. My God. Isn't my nose the cutest little pink thing evah.
Her cuteness seems wasted on herself. How can she walk around her whole life and never know how much I admire her looks. That little triangular face, those huge inquisitive eyes, the perfection of those plump pink pads on her paws. I can't fathom how a creature as cute as she  is will never know how she looks. I can't tell her in words.  And trust me, I've tried to get her to look in a mirror, but of course she has none of that.

So what is the point of a cat being a cat if it will never fully appreciate it? Part of the fun of being attractive is knowing it. Maggie will never know. No cat will ever know. We know. Her beauty is one sided. Exuded by her, but unknown to herself.

I guess Maggie will never really experience this angle of herself unless she gets inside my mind and looks through my eyes.

I often wish I could trade bodies with her for a day. I want to know what it’s like to leap so agile like up the stairs like a panther. Smooth, no pain. Effortless. I want to know what it's like to have a warm, fur covered body with whiskers. Ha ha. I want to know what it’s like to just be so gosh darn cuddly.

But I won't know I'm cute when I'm Maggie. I see the cuteness once I'm outside of Maggie's body and look at her from my own human body. Which makes me wonder... how can you really fully realize yourself unless you look at yourself from the perspectives of every thing else... human, animal, mineral... you come in contact with? How interconnected we all are... how unrealized we are without being everything... we are all one. The real you is everyone and everything.

Realizing that expands the real you and helps you see and understand yourself more clearly.

I think many of us don't really know ourselves as well as we think. Sometimes we briefly pay attention to our ego, that wily, sneaky fibber, and we briefly think we're worthless, non attractive, too old,  or no longer exciting. And sometimes it's someone else who sees us more clearly than we do... sometimes even a stranger can perceive us more accurately than we can ourselves, even for just a brief moment, in passing on the street, when your guard was down, the way you turn your head just so. The way you look in the morning when you're peaceful and you haven't had time to think, blurry around the edges. The thoughtful look in your eye that passes momentarily, the texture of your laugh when you think it sounds awful, when it's actually pure joy. The way your make your coffee just so, that brilliant thought you had before you lost it, and the look of inspiration on your face while the thought was still there. The light in your eyes when you laugh, the beautiful lines on your face, the glow around you when you watch your child sleep. The mischief in your expression when you're up to no good. The warmth in your expression when you say goodbye.
Even the darkness of your mood when you sink low, or the cold glint of anger that rises to spark when needed. Even your loneliness and melancholy, it has the aching texture of a sad cello, striking and haunting. You don't have to know the answers or have it all together. You are breathtakingly beautiful. If only you could see what I see of you, you would be overcome with your own beauty.

Even if you don't believe it. You don't understand the language I speak, and you don't "see" when you look in the mirror. Just like Maggie can't see in the mirror, and she doesn't understand when I talk to her.

But it's the truth.

You are... beautiful.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A shift and lots of sunshine

Juicy berries soaked in sunshine in my back yard.
Hello, beautiful friends! My body is soaked in sunshine, and I have a smile from one ear to the other. After a lifetime of feeling uncomfortable in my own body, I now am glad to be in this body. I feel safer in it, and happier.

I experienced a major shift a month ago, and all the healing mantras, meditation and hypnosis I've been saturating myself in lately has resulted in huge positive changes. The trajectory of my life course has changed dramatically. This manifesting stuff... it really works.

I can't wait to share more details, but the time isn't quite right yet. Until then, much love to you all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Effects of patriarchy on gender and relationships

Summer 2014, out in my yard. I'm still not comfortable in my own skin, but I'm getting there.
It was when I was in my early 20's while still living at home, right before the intervention that resulted in me leaving the homestead.

I realize now this phase was my silent, extreme reaction to growing up in a patriarchal environment. My version of "fuck you!" without daring to talk. Talking was too dangerous, too scary. Too many repercussions.  This, on the other hand, was my quiet way of taking a stand and rebelling. Although I didn't know it at the time and didn't even realize it until recently.

It started with clothing. Pants were taboo, and jeans even more so. But by age 22, I was tired of getting stared at out in public wearing long skirts or the infamous culottes with tights. So I started going on a few covert shopping trips for more suitable clothing. Unfortunately, each pair of jeans I tried on made me cringe. I had never seen my legs in jeans, and the feminine cut that showed my hips and thighs was literally scary to someone like me who had never quite seen this outline in a public place. I hated the way my legs looked. The funny thing is that I was thin while still being curvy... I just hated my female curves. I didn't know why then. It didn't even click for me until the other day. Those curves were a reminder of my femininity, and I hated being a female. Because as a female, I was severely repressed and unhappy. 

After several failed shopping attempts, I left Macy's in tears, feeling disgusted by my body and angry that I couldn't even shop properly.

After that, I decided that men's jeans were the way to go. They made my curves disappear, and I quite liked that idea. There's no way I was going to try on and purchase my own pair from the men's department. So I went fishing in the family dirty laundry bin and began to surreptitiously 'borrow' both of my brothers' jeans. I knew it would be suspicious if I borrowed a clean pair, wore them, then put them in the laundry. They would be out of circulation from my brothers' closets too long. Somehow I didn't care if I even smelled like a guy wearing their jeans. Men were powerful, unfettered, not abused. I longed for that kind of freedom, even if I could only get a taste of it through a pair of unwashed men's jeans.

This is why guy's jeans made so much sense. They made my legs look long and straight like a man's. I could look and smell like a man. No other men would be looking at me and oogling me. I hated the responsibility I was supposed to feel for men's eyes lingering on me when they weren't supposed to be. It was so much work, I was always on edge looking out for it, trying to look down, trying to hunch over, to slink away quickly. I hated trying to shield myself from their gaze, and hated the distaste I was supposed to feel. Dressing as a man was so much easier. I could let my guard down. I could breathe. I would be safe. I could be invisible.  

Around this time, I was digging out both of my brothers' white T shirts to wear with their jeans. This kind of gagged me to wear them unwashed, but I got over it quickly enough. Thankfully, I had two brothers, so the chances of either one noticing their clothing missing was cut significantly in half. After a while, they unfortunately did notice and I did get in trouble, but I still kept borrowing them. I wore bras that made my small breasts even smaller, and I felt quite unaccountably safe. I had perfected a modesty hunch by this time, rolling my shoulders forward to hide and make even less apparent my breasts.

I remember the first time I wore my get up out in public. It was to a bowling alley where my freshman phys ed class met twice a week my first year of college.

I matched the outfit with newly cut short hair. I had found a pair of scissors and locked myself in the bathroom one night, trimming my hair into a boy cut in the back with longer pieces in the front. And I got away with it. For some reason, any of my sisters would have gotten the third degree and more than a tongue lashing for attempting this. But me? He didn't say a word. I had always been the good girl, the quiet submissive one. He didn't ever need to discipline me. He only hated me from a distance because I reminded him of what he did to me when I was little. He didn't dare discipline me when I got older because maybe he knew my anger could trigger something and I could remember what he did and spill his secret.

So I flew under the radar with that haircut. And paired with my new boyish outfit (which was hidden under a long skirt and sweater until the appropriate time), I arrived at the bowling alley nervous as heck. I could barely get out of my car for fear. I sat for a half hour before going in, and arrived late. But as I walked in, I glowed. No one looked at me. And that just felt amazing.

I got partnered off with a kid that was about my height with hair sticking up, jovial, a bit crass, not my type, but so talkative. And suddenly, we were best friends and I was making conversation with him easily, and I was having fun. Me, who had never spoken to a boy before, let alone in such an unguarded way. But I was able to get on with him so well because I felt like a guy and saw him as a fellow pal. We continued this way for a few weeks into the class, when he offhandedly asked me to be his 'girl.' I must have made an offended face, and he backed off and apologized.

I was puzzled... wasn't I dressed as a guy? Didn't he see? I didn't realize then that it must have been my self confidence that drew him in, not my clothing.
My dressing as a guy phase lasted a couple years. I wasn't able to grow my hair long until many years after that. But even after all this time, I was never able to go back to wearing dresses, even short ones. Well, I do have a few short skirts I wear, but only if I wear tights and tall boots with them. The loud decisive click, click of the boots when I walk show I mean business and am not to be crossed. This toughens my look enough to make the skirt acceptable by me. My favorite outfit of all, though, consists of tight jeans. I don't mind who looks at me or who doesn't. I simply love the way they feel.

I'm much more comfortable being a female now. But I am not, nor rarely have been attracted to men who show the typical masculine traits. I like a man with a soft voice, gentle demeanor, warm spirit, a nurturing personality, long hair even. Someone decisive and firm, yes, but someone who is intuitive, empathetic, and in touch with their feminine side.
The effects of patriarchy have reached past clothing issues and gender identification, in my experience. Growing up in a home with absolute male control and abuse of that power has caused me to be gun shy of men in my adult life, to put it mildly. I have been constantly alert in relationships with men, and run at the slightest hint. I haven't been able to stay in a relationship longer than two years. To stay longer is to not be able to breath. Even now I feel suffocated. I've resisted the whole idea of of marriage and family for so long, like it's a curse. I don't know what a healthy model of that looks and feels like, and I've been  terrified of having kids with K in case he goes patriarchal on me. I couldn't subject any of my future kids to that. Honestly, there is no reason for me to be afraid though. He dropped religion and the patriarchal spin off that he used to embrace. Reason is telling me there is no cause for  fear. I see the way he is so laid back, indulgent, and lax about rules with Maggie and Sparky. Yet the fear is still there. I also am constantly on guard,  defending myself from perceived threats often when no ill intent is there.
My perspective on relationships, marriage and family is warped in so many complex and convoluted ways. It has made me go into a tailspin currently in the way I relate with K. I can't unravel it. But I'm not going to stress about it anymore.
It is what it is and I will simply let it be.
While wearing my favorite pair of tight jeans. Which are clean, and haven't ever been worn by a guy.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bog of singing frogs

These are the enchanted woods, and this is the trail that leads to the bog.
There is a bog of singing frogs down the trail a five minute walk away from my yard. In the evening, in the dark, they start to sing. It's magic. It's soothing. The world slows down, and I sigh.

Even better is to be on the trail surrounded by them. The bog singing on the right, a chorus to the left by the creek, the sound surrounding me and massaging away any stress or tension. There is only breathing now, only nature, only dark shadows and humid spring air. Only the smell of the trees and damp warm earth, only the crunch of gravel underneath.

Breath. It's so easy now. What is it about the texture of this surround sound, this soothing group of throaty singers. It's like the barrage of thousands of tiny droplets of water from the shower head massaging my skin, each little peeper singing, hundreds of them, all around me.

Right down the road. When I take the pup out at night in my yard one last time before he goes to sleep, I hear them. They don't sing during the day, just when it's dark. I didn't hear them last summer, though. But then again, I didn't go out at night then since I didn't have a dog then who needed to go out that late. This is yet another reason I'm glad to have Sparky! He gets me outside a lot more, and we walk on this trail often.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Changes in the air

I don't have a thick skin to start out with. I'm a sensitive person. So when someone disappears from my life because I gave them access to this blog, I get pretty upset. This happened recently, twice. I really need to stop giving this blog address to friends and potential friends. Or perhaps I should feel out people more before letting them in the inner circle here. But I'm not going to tame down what I write about here. I write about raw, personal events in my life. That's what I do. I would write even more openly, in a more unfettered way if I felt more anonymous. I might play around with the idea of anonymity in future blogging.

I'm really over living a life of silent pretense. This is my place to live fearless and fierce. So those who can't handle me will have to fall away and I will just shake it off. I'm going to be true to myself first and foremost.

So in honor of that spirit, I would like to share that I am in a new place in my life. Two roads are open in front of me, and I'm terrified of making a choice. I'm riding the rails of both choices right now.

My heart and body belong down south in the luxurious humidity of a warm climate. I dream of Florida, and have since age five. Ask anyone who knows me even half well, and they will tell you about my dream to move there. My mind throws at me reason after reason to stay put where I am now, but my heart can't be squelched. My heart is foolish, rebellious, drunkenly courageous. The 'what ifs' and 'how will you ever make it on your own' kind of thoughts fly at me but I am floating without touching earth. When my feet do touch down, I will have landed far from this little town in PA.

Why leave my home here, you ask? To put it simply, I don't belong. I have no family ties to keep me here. My heart is too warm for the frosty winters here. My health always improves in the summers when its sunny and hot, and I can get outside and be active. I wish summer could last all year round, then my health could continue to improve. Also, K and I are not on the same page, and haven't been for some time. Living with him is a constant trigger to the past, living on edge waiting for his next fit of anger, his next attack. Emotionally, leaving him will be a balm to my spirit.

I have a couple ideas in the works as far as working from home, or the home I will make for myself once I move from here. The problem is that I'm honestly still not well enough to be working even from home, at least in the areas that I'm considering. But this doesn't spell defeat, and its not a roadblock. I don't give up easily.

I'm also attracted to the idea of living in an intentional community like Twin Oaks. I wish there were more communities like this. In a perfect world, there would be communities like this. I haven't yet left my abusive marriage because I can't yet make it on my own in the world due to my health. But in an intentional community, my health wouldn't be an issue, and I wouldn't need a husband to support me. The community would take care of me. My only 'job' in the community would be doing things I do in my home anyway. In a community like Twin Oaks, you have free health insurance, you don't have bills, you don't pay rent or utilities, you don't pay for groceries, you don't need a car, and someone in the group runs errands so you wouldn't ever have to leave the community if you didn't want to. So if you have trauma related agoraphobia, such as is my case, you can feel safe in knowing you don't ever have to leave the safety of the community. 
In exchange for the community support, you contribute your effort in the form of work that you enjoy doing, whether it's cleaning, landscaping, cooking, working on the farm with the animals or in the fields, or helping out in the community businesses such as seed cataloguing, plant care or basket weaving. Or you fix or build things if you want. Some of these things I could do quite easily. There isn't a time clock to punch... you set your own hours for some of these projects. This would be ideal for me since I need to take rest breaks, and I never know how well I am going to feel at any particular moment until that moment is occurring.
Also, you don't need to worry if you are a loner without friends or family, such as is my case. The community would be my new family and circle of friends.  The Twin Oaks farm is out in the middle of nature in a peaceful setting. This would help me with relaxation and healing.
Living in a community setting instead of being married to K or anyone at all is probably a good idea for me. I won't have to worry about any man thinking he has ownership of me and has the right to control and scream at me out of the blue. I also won't be expected to have sex. After the trauma of last summer, sex is really the last thing I'm interested in right now. Although, I'm not sure if my disinterest in sex is due to the trauma with my father, or just because I'm not exactly in a loving relationship right now.
I'm quite attracted to the idea of living in an intentional community. So far, Twin Oaks and it's sister farm Acorn are at the top of my list. However, they are both in Virginia, which is warmer in the winters than Pennsylvania is, but is still not warm enough for me. If I could find a solid intentional community like Twin Oaks that is located in Florida, heck, even Arizona or California, I would move there.
And so, dear readers, I am exploring my options and am quite certain that things will work out.

It's late April here, and the weather has topped out in the mid 50's as a high the last couple week. I can't wait until it warms up. There are a number of projects that I'd like to do here. I am planning to get a fence put in around the yard, as well as landscaping and a new flight of wooden steps outside. I've been interviewing contractors and reviewing plans, and am excited about the process of making things look nice here. Sparky will really enjoy a fenced in yard to run in.

So I have one foot in a set of projects here, and one foot in the process of potentially leaving. It feels messy making plans on both sides.

I told K that I wanted to leave. I told him that I would have left him three years ago if it wasn't for my illness and not being able to work. We've only been married about three years. He knows I want to go. But he also knows that if he changes his ways, I won't leave. I don't ask for a lot, just normal decent kindness. No verbal or emotional abuse. If he was a kind man, I wouldn't want to leave, even though I don't like the cold winters here.

I've been thinking over another option that is quite appealing: getting into a marriage of convenience with a gay man who lives in some warm state. I have the physical strength to easily be a housewife... I do it now. I cook and clean, make lively conversations, etc. I just can't leave the house due to agoraphobia. So he would have to be OK with that. And if he wanted to adopt, I would fall in love with him a hundred times over even though he wouldn't reciprocate, LOL. K does not want to adopt and I don't have the health or strength to bare kids.

So I'm at a turning point right now. Stay or go, go or stay.

I got a note delivered to my email from the "Universe" a couple days ago. I get daily notes sent from this dear entity, and they often are spot on as far as what I need to hear. So this particular note reads as follows:

There is no choice you've ever made, AJ,
nor any you will ever make,
that will limit you as much as you may fear.
Nor even limit you at all.
How cool is that?
Yes, that is cool. Thank you, Universe!  

Friday, March 6, 2015

New puppy!

I got a new puppy! On New Year's Day at 5 am, no less! From a farm out in the middle of Amish territory. I was sleeping in the passenger seat in the dark as K drove the hour's drive to the farm, then suddenly the sun was rising in this gorgeous, calendar-esque pinkness. I hadn't seen the sun rise or been up and outside so to speak that early in the morning since seven years ago when I was a teacher and rose early. So it was a good omen.

We got out of the car in semi-darkness. There were two carriages in the driveway, and the farm itself seemed quaint, although shrouded in dark. The farmer was young... well, he was the farmer's son. He spoke in an accent. Then he was going to get the puppy and his mother. They came running across the yard, but I had eyes only for the pup. He ran straight for me and tried to climb excitedly up my leg. I picked him up and instantly fell in love. It was like this pup was waiting for me his whole life and finally found me, that's how excited he was. So excited, he even peed on me. Three times. Each time, I laughed.

We were going to put him in his crate on the drive home, but he was snuggling up under my armpit while I held him, and I didn't want to let go. His mom was barking when we went to the car, and of course, she knew what was going on. Sparky was the last of her puppies to go, so it was even more sad for her. I tried to telepathically send a message to her- "I know you'll miss him. I will take such good care of him!"

He was shivering most of the car ride home, from either excitement, cold, or both. I kept him warm wrapped in a towel in my arms, and he slept like that the whole way home. By the end of the first day, I literally couldn't imagine life in our home without him. Is that odd? K said the other day that Sparky took to me in such a unique way, that perhaps the spirit of Thumper is in Sparky. I'll write about Thumper some time. He was my pet rabbit when I was a teen, and he had a sad life ending. Thumper was like a dog in his loyalty, and he was my closest companion for years. I still dream about him a couple times a year. Sometimes in my dreams we cross paths in other dimensions, in other forms, but I recognize him each time.
Maggie is fascinated with Sparky, but afraid of him because he is the same size as her and very playful. He tries to jump on her like she's a fellow puppy, and she freaks out and runs, then hisses and growls. In turn, she hits him when he runs under a chair she's safely perched on.
In the photos below, Maggie forgets her fear long enough to swipe a few of Sparky's kibbles off the floor. Food is such a fear reducer! Sparky keeps wagging his tail and sniffing in his friendly way, but in the last photo, Maggie goes to swat at him.

Maggie is getting less afraid of Sparky, and she hangs out on the steps while he passes by. She keeps a wary eye on him and gives him a swat or two when he gets to the bottom.  


Monday, November 24, 2014

Late bloomer

There are a number of life events that I have arrived at quite late in the game. The biggest life event has been marriage. And there are a few milestones in life I have avoided altogether, such as motherhood, even though most females my age have looked forward to and reached this milestone long ago.

Being a late bloomer hasn't been a problem for me. Probably because I'm so used to it.  It's like I've been dragging my feet in life as long as I can remember, and I don't know any other way to go about living. It's like I'm going as slow as possible and not dipping my toe into life on purpose.
Here's a hodge podge list of a few things I've done late, or skipped.
Kindergarten. I was too shy to go to kindergarten, so my mom homeschooled me. She told me I wasn't emotionally ready for school, anyway, and I figured that was fine by me if I got another year to play. So she homeschooled me. But she ended up being too busy nursing my younger sister, then pregnant with my younger brother, so she didn't get around to teaching me to read. So I repeated kindergarten with her a second year. Still didn't learn a blessed thing, but was put into first grade anyway... a couple years older than my peers. Thankfully, I was tiny when I was a kid, so they couldn't tell I was old.
Swimming. I think the learning gap has closed for me here. I tried to take lessons a few times, but just couldn't get the hang of floating. Hmm. Swimming was outlawed in childhood because bathing suits were immodest, and even a full set of clothing was immodest when wet.
Socializing. The critical development period for learning this skill closed up some time ago. Talking to people was "sinful" unless they were model Christians who wouldn't tarnish us. No model Christians were found, and we were beat with a rod for attempting conversation with any others, so I've eagerly skipped the acquisition of this lovely skill. I mean, who wants to get beat with a rod, right?
Making life decisions. That one is explored more below.
Reading. Because books other than the Bible, even devotionals in Christian book stores.... could be just the foothold the devil needs to work his way into your mind. So even holding a book felt evil. Walking into a Christian book store felt like the ultimate rebellion for me. The thing is, I used to love to read when I was a child, when books were generally innocent and weren't in danger of being confiscated. Once I hit about age 8 or so, books started being taken from me because they were too risqué, too ungodly. Once I worked hard to purchase a book I'd been drooling over. It was confiscated before I got to chapter two, but I saw literally nothing sinful in that book. What, was there some kind of pre-teen romance brewing in the next chapter?  I would never know. I was heartbroken then. And countless times afterwards, each time a book was taken. By the time I was in my late teens, I reached a point where I just gave up. The pain of having them taken from me was not worth the effort of trying to smuggle them.
That was when I started dumbing down my mind on purpose, being oblivious and airheaded, staying in my mind and not trying to reach out to explore and learn. I had been crushed one too many times trying to open up my small world through reading. So, reluctantly, I gave up on books. Completely. Since reading was deemed as more evil than holy, I would become the holiest airhead of them all. A head of mush, an obedient and naïve female, exactly what my father wanted. I was sick at heart but at least he would be pleased.
Turns out, he wasn't pleased, but I kept my mind closed, uninquisitive, and naïve anyway. For most of my life. I hate that I did this. I hate that today I can barely bring myself to buy a book. I hate that I feel like I'm still going to be punished by the Man Upstairs when I'm reading. I hate that I can't breath normally, in a relaxed fashion while reading. I hate that I adore the feeling of the heaviness of a good book in my hand, I melt in the luxury of getting lost between the pages, but I jump in guilt with a sudden startle reaction anytime I hear someone approaching on the steps, or banging a door like they just got home. Quick, hide the book under the cushion! Breath normal! Oh. Wait. It's OK. No one's going to yell at you.
What else did I give up, or achieve late in life?
My first kiss. It was at age 24, incidentally with my first boyfriend.
Going through a drive through. Age 24. Fast food was considered evil, and eating in general was something I also put off as much as possible for decades of my life. I was scared to eat. Still am quite often, but am getting better at it.
Marriage. It was at age 36, and I didn't want to get married at all. I was so afraid, and was dragging my feet.
Living. Doing things that make me happy. Finding out what makes me happy. Acquiring things. Letting myself go shopping or purchase things. Eating. Breathing in a relaxed way. Being silly. Joking. Going after what I want. Knowing what I want.
Why have I been afraid of so many normal things?

I've decided to sit down and figure out the reasons I'm so hesitant about... living a juicy, full, vibrant life. If I can figure out why, I can make changes and start living a fuller life. Right?

So far, I attribute the hesitancy and slowness to perhaps three factors.

1. As a child and young adult, I simply wasn't allowed to reach certain life milestones because they were considered worldly and evil. Instead of embracing life and being adventurous, I was taught to fear life and shut down in my safe little corner of the Christian life, being bland, safe and colorless. I was taught that females don't have the God given right to make lucid decisions, since females are emotional, and satan works through the emotions more than reason. So  whenever I had a choice to actually go and do something in life, I knew that Satan could sway me, being the emotional female I was, so I hesitated and then never actually chose to do anything but just sit there in fear.

Even after I was an adult and was free to make my own decisions, I still only dabbled in a few of the normal life processes that most people go through without a question. Much of life was still off bounds, too evil to participate in. The list of allowable activities were slim. Even normal things like gardening, singing, laughing, and eating were each a shade of taboo in certain circumstances.
2. My hesitancy to actively engage in life may have to do in small part to being shy in nature. I've always naturally been an introvert. But I think there's more to my hesitancy to actively engage in life than just introversion. I'm seeing now how the psychological trauma in my early childhood has caused me to be hyper cautious and fearful. I've always chosen by default the safest course of action without realizing it, and I've always sat in the dark and quiet corners watching but not contributing, always alert in case an authority figure tried to catch me doing or thinking something sinful.
3. I wanted nothing to do with marriage and children of my own because of what I experienced growing up. I was terrified of being bound in a marriage like my parents' abusive relationship. And since I wasn't going to have a life partner, I figured that I wouldn't have children either. I wasn't about to raise a child on my own. I had to nurture my career first and foremost, because my career had to be number one in my life. I had to devote most of my energy to supporting myself, since I didn't trust a man to support me. Rely on a man, and he might trap you. Better to be self reliant and safe.
More importantly, I wasn't about to trust any potential child of mine around any Christian man. I saw what Christian men did to children, and I would have rather died than repeat my mother's mistake in allowing a man to terrorize her children, helpless to intervene because he was a Christian, and because submissive Godly women don't question their men. No.
I used to have nightmares about what it would be like if I had a child, and he or she reached that dreaded "age of accountability." I played it out in my head. My loving husband (God, how I hate that word! Husband. It has too close of a connotation to the word "band." Like an iron band around me choking me into bondage and submission. Ughhh.) Where was I? Oh yes, I would always picture the future hubbie kneeling down and telling my child, "Now, you know you are a sinner, right? You must admit that you are a sinner if you want God to save you. You are a horrible, wretched sinner. You'll go to hell without God's intervention. Look, here's a picture of the devil, and hell. Pretty scary, huh? Do you want to go there? I thought not. Now let me lead you in the sinner's prayer."

Of course, I would hope the conversation would be a little more gentle and politically correct than that, but my first introduction to salvation as a child was this brutal. So what gaurentee did I have that my future man wouldn't be a Bible thumping, non gentle, non-diplomatic kind of guy? I had no gaurentee, as most Christians I spent time with back then did not care to soften their words. An activity such as softening your words was sinful. Liberal. No, a real Christian cut to the chase and called sin what it was, sin.
For now, I gots me a cat, instead.

I knew I could not in good conscious bring an innocent child into the world knowing that he or she would be destined to such a talk about sin and salvation. I simply could not do that. And for that very reason, I knew I could not ever bare children. The world was not a safe or friendly place, especially the Christian world. I would never purposely bring a child into an unsafe environment. Additionally, I knew that if I ever had a child, I would probably be married, and if I was married, it would definitely be to a Christian man. If he wasn't Christian, I would be cut off from family, and I didn't want that. My concern was that despite him being a Christian man, I had no gaurentee that he might abuse the child. What if that Christian man was like my father? Or abusive like my Christian brother in law who is in ministry but who physically abused his kids, my niece and nephew? I would never subject a child to this possibility. And so by default, I would never have a child. Or get married.
This is why I've lived the majority of my life as an independent female, jumping glibly every two years or so from one long term relationship to the next, keeping particularly away from men who leaned towards the 'm' word. Marriage. I knew from early on I had to have a successful career because I would be the only one who I could depend on in life. I would have no man. This is why I plowed through college and grad school and moved far away from my family and lived on my own. I got what I wanted. Complete independence, the ability to provide for myself, a career doing what I loved, stability, boyfriends whenever I wanted or didn't want, and no pressure to settle down and start a fa, fam, fami, Achoo! Family. I was allergic even to the word.
But now it's like I'm waking up and I see suddenly that most gals my age have kids who are teens, and I have no kids at all. Oh my gosh! Was I asleep at the wheel all these years? Why didn't I have kids? Suddenly, I remember all these reasons that I never brought into the light of day, except here in this blog. Yes. I know why.
She's not human, but she she's quirky, funny, social,
talkative, inquisitive, stubborn and high energy.
Got my hand's full!
Interestingly enough, it was after I went through an awakening of sorts and left Christianity that I started to want to have kids. Without the threat of hell and need for salvation, my child will never need "that talk." And I can teach him or her how beautiful and safe life really is. How the world isn't against her, and that there's nothing to fear. 
So, yeah! I would love to have kids now. But circumstances won't allow that currently. I want to have better health first.

I want to grab ahold of life and live more. I'm tired of being on the sidelines, too scared to try new things. It's like I'm afraid of life itself. I'm only tasting a little bit of it right now. I psyche myself out and don't let myself try new things. I don't let myself luxuriate. I live such a spartan, meager, quiet life. I used to be so adventurous, though, that first decade or so after I escaped from my family and moved far away from them. I want to get back to that state of being fearless. The more distance I put between my family and me, the better I feel.

Sometimes I just want to pack my bags and go. Someplace warm and sunny all year round. I want to start a whole new life that is completely free of any remembrance of my family. Trigger free.  I'm so done with this life. I want a new identity. A new name. A new childhood, a chance to live life over again in some other family. Or if I can't have that, I want to start my own family and get so busy and enjoy life so much that I won't have time to reflect on the past. Sometimes I wonder if all this spare time, not working, and staying at home alone in this big, empty house contributes to the flashbacks and ruminating. I am so ready to get busy again with life, so that I'm not haunted by the past.  I hate reliving memories from the past. They replay in my mind all day long, torturing me. I need to make myself busy so I'm not bogged down by them. I want a dog. I need a companion during the day to keep me company. I really want a dog.

A Dog
And Health
And a Job (which would be easy with restored health)
And Kids (again, easy-ish once I get my health back)
And a Car, (again, easy once I have the health to drive it, and the health to start my career again)
And Freedom to come and go (easy once I start to drive again)

I want to be done ruminating on the past. No more feet dragging. I want to dive back into life again.