A Brighter Day

May 1, 2020 was a much brighter day.

Spilling My Words

Navelgazing Writer

I just think I needed to get the fears out there and that took a lot of the energy out of the feelings.

Clearly, sharing helps. I need to remember that.

The feelings build slowly, then get more distressing until I am feeling that train heading closer and closer. I feel like I am going to fall under the train, then write here and suddenly feel immense relief.

Not Being Alone

crowded Navelgazing Writer

I know I am not alone in all this distress. That helps in some ways and makes me feel so sad in others. I wish I could take the pain from those that hurt, too, but my shield of protection is tight around me right now. Selfishly, it is me first at the moment.

Therapy Plans

group therapy Navelgazing Writer

I had my intake with the new counselor whatever day it was ago and she said she has 2 groups she also wants me in. You know you are on the downside when you are being recommended for several days a week of therapy. I look forward to it. I need some guidance and while I have done every kind of post-mental hospital support groups, it never hurts to have some reminders and maybe learn new skills.

The groups will be online and I look forward to seeing how they do them. Zoom? Some other way? Should be interesting.

I Quit

sad news Navelgazing Writer

… anymore.

Anxiety Riddled

I have not written, continuously hoping I would not have to write about anxiety anymore. Now, I am thinking maybe anxiety is exactly what I need to write about… trying to quell the intense pain in my belly and chest from the horrible fears I feel.

anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

If the pain didn’t go away with relaxation and meditation, I would think something was seriously wrong, but if I can make it go away, then it is not a medical problem, but a psych one.

Vistaril

Last I wrote, I was waiting to talk to my psychiatrist about the anxiety, hoping for benzos to take the anxiety away. He did not prescribe them, but instead prescribed Vistaril, a “cousin of Benadryl” is how he described it. I take it once a day. It doesn’t do squat for the anxiety. I took a Vistaril last night (my anxiety is much worse as the sun goes down) and was awakened several times with horrid stomach pains. I just took a Benadryl and thought that might chill things out. We’ll see.

Meditation

I am sure you all are sick of my talking about meditating, but I really am finding it to be soothing enough to allow me to catch my breath when things are really bad. I learned that Alexa has a new Guided Meditation each day when I asked for a Guided Meditation this morning. Cool! I will utilize that for sure. Apparently she has several if I want more.

guided meditation anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I’m able to do regular meditation usually, but now, during the coronavirus terror (as I think of it), I can’t let go enough to stay for more than a second or two. Guided Meditations are much easier for me to follow than just my breath. YouTube has about 8 million of them and many now are geared for the anxiety of the coronavirus. I find those the most helpful.

Therapy

Psychotherapy anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I had a great therapy session with my therapist the other night. She is amazing and I am so thankful to have her. I felt great after the session, but the tension crept in again soon after. My psych wants me to see a therapist in this office and I have an intake appointment online this afternoon. One can never have enough therapists, right?

The News

coronavirus art anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

If I could stay away from the news I might lose some of the anxiety. I watch like how my mom has to follow an ambulance… “just to see” what is going on. The statistics are the worst, the stories excruciatingly sad (and getting sadder). I honestly don’t know what more I can learn from the news than I already know.

HGTV

HGTV anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I saw an OpEd piece a couple of days ago about a guy who is now addicted to HGTV since being home. I used to love HGTV even though I would never even lift a hammer. I changed my channel from the news to HGTV last night and am keeping those images in the background instead of the news always being on. I have the TV on mute, but still, the images are there.

Reading

reading coronavirus anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I am flowing through books at an astounding rate. I have started several, but returned them to Audible. Thank gods they have that return policy or I would be stuck with dozens of books I’ve hated. I always buy and read new ones, so guess they are kind to me and let me return knowing I will just get new ones.

I started a new series yesterday, the Plantagenet and Tudor Novels by Philippa Gregory. I stumbled across her looking for “Books like Mists of Avalon.” I guess I am the last person in the world to know of the books since I have mentioned them in several places and people say, “Oh! There are TV series’ on them!” When I read down the series titles and saw The Other Boleyn Girl, I loved that because the movie was delicious.

So I started Lady of the Rivers yesterday and am loving it so much!

Writing?

Anxiety Navelgazing Writer
Exercise Through Art by T.Z. Barry

I am thinking I should write more, too. Why that didn’t dawn on me is beyond my comprehension. But here I am. Writing. Still feeling terribly anxious.

But I’ll keep writing.

I am 59-Years Old Today

How fucking cool is that?

I had another Birth Day! WOO HOO!

Happy Birthday

Mama…

…called me and sang to me (as I do to all my kids, too) and I told her how cool it is that I have known her longer than anyone else on earth. I thanked her for having me and what a FUN time we have had together.

What Does This Year Hold?

No telling anymore!

I am just determined to have EACH day be beautiful and let everyone I know that I love them.

Every. Single. Day.

Birthday Julia Watkins
Moon Dancer by Julia Watkins

“Gender Critical” Conversation

Is there such a thing as a Gender Critical discussion without resorting to name-calling and real life attacks?

I would sure like to try.

This started to be about Male to Female TransAthletes (because I have questions and thoughts below), but seems to have morphed into a post about how I have come to question MtF TransAthletes in the first place.

Of course, I feel I need to start with explanations that may sound like apologies in advance, but here goes anyway. I feel compelled to justify where I am coming from since you do not know me; background is crucial.

My Life with Transfolks

  • My former partner is FtM transgender and I was with him for 28 years, 3 of which as he transitioned medically. He remains my Beloved.
  • In my life in online Sex Work, I spend hours a day with people on the Trans Spectrum, always in a supportive capacity, helping to remove shame and self-hate and replace that with ways to understand society is the one that is weird or freaky, not them.
  • I would never align myself with Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists/ run of the mill Gender Critical folks because I know transfolks are who they say they are. I know that. Believe it with all my heart.
  • In not aligning with TERFs/GC people, I believe transwomen have a right to be in women’s prisons, homeless shelters, bathrooms and everywhere else women are wandering in and out of.
  • I would never want a transperson discriminated for being trans (non-binary). They have every right to work, dress, live as the gender they know they are.
  • I understand trans-hatred and weep at the violence, suicides and murders that transpeople suffer through every single day. The discrimination is abhorrent to me.
  • I do not believe anyone has to pass in order to be the gender they know they are.
  • While I do not understand it as much, I do not have any negative thoughts about being trans without gender dysphoria.
  • And lastly, I freely admit my own cis-bias and that I do not have ALL the information in the world about this (I do not believe anyone else does, either). I do not consider myself a spokesperson for anyone but myself. These are my thoughts; no one has given them to me.

A Bit About My History

I came out in the Second Wave of Feminism in 1987 and the groups I attended were extremely Pro-Separatist. I knew a woman who gave her boy child up for adoption because she was a Lesbian Separatist. I was not permitted in some areas with my children because I had my son with me. I was not permitted in some spaces simply because I had a son, with me or not. I wrote about my experience with the San Diego Lesbian Press and their Separatist ideals that eventually folded the paper because they would not accept money from men.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

I am much more aligned with the Third Wave of Feminism, but embrace the Fourth Wave‘s ideals as well.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer
4th Wave Feminism, still under debate

So My Question Is…

…can’t someone like me also have questions? Where are the discussions… they all are so polarized. I would love to explore my thoughts and beliefs, but find if I step to the left I am in quicksand and if I step to the right I am bludgeoned. I know I am not alone and if I, a really pro-trans person can’t ask questions, how is the run-of-the-mill person supposed to learn? How can we shift perceptions if there is nothing but anger filling the air? And if the discussion moves to transphobia, how can there be honest interchange between people. The conversation has shifted from the focus to the picture’s whole when sometimes, looking right at the subject can be crucial for definition’s purposes.

Where do I fit in?

Now, the MtF TransAthletes

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Laurel Hubbard

And then I get to Male to Female transwomen and I come to a halt. Mind you, I am confused about it all… will give you that much… but if a MtF transwoman has the same abilities as a ciswoman, why are they excelling in almost all sports where they compete together? And it happens when the transwoman begins in the sport immediately. It isn’t a gradual increase in speed or strength. It is as sudden as when they sign up for the competition.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Gabrielle Ludwig is the tall woman.

I know many of the arguments about measuring testosterone, some requirements for hormone suppression or for requiring surgeries before they are permitted to compete. I know the International Olympic Committee is struggling to create a trans rule book because, it has “proved far more difficult than expected because this is such a tricky political and emotive issue.”

Transgender Olympics Navelgazing Writer

Not Convinced; Still Questioning

Yet, I am not convinced a MtF transwoman doesn’t have an advantage over a ciswoman.

And why aren’t there Female to Male transmen winning body building, wrestling or weight lifting competitions? Why is it that FtM transmen in sports are in weight restrictive sports like boxing, which involves speed as much as guts.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Patricio Manuel

So, What I Want to Know…

Can someone explain to me, without resorting to “TRANSPHOBE” (because I am not), what I am not seeing? (And yes, I know it is my responsibility to learn, but there has to be a way for those seeking answers to find them beyond Googling. I prefer person to person connections… cis/transgender or otherwise.

Is there anyone willing to help? Is there anybody out there?

trans floyd Navelgazing Writer

Asthma? Really?!

I’ve been wheezing for almost a year now, but thought it was just because I was so fat. HA!

I was in the ER on Thanksgiving with my breathing sounding like I was playing a harmonica. After a couple of visits, they finally said it was an Upper Respiratory Infection. None of the breathing treatments there helped, but they gave me an Albuteral inhaler that did nothing for me. I just had to wait the URI out and my coughing finally left around New Year’s.

asthma navelgazing writer

But the wheezing has continued. The ER also gave me referrals to a Pulmonologist and a Cardiologist… for the wheezing and I have an enlarged heart.

I went to the Pulmonologist last Monday and after the battery of breathing tests, told me I had moderate asthma. Huh?! I was shocked. I really did think my inability to catch my breath when I walked (even to the bathroom) was because of my weight. Apparently not!

I was prescribed Symbacort, but it isn’t doing much and I am waiting for insurance approval to get some Spiriva.

Now that I know what it is, I am able to put symptoms together. My mom has had severe asthma since I was a kid, so I’m used to her asthma. Mine, not severe, still has similar symptoms I overlooked. My wheezing is like a whistle, not the gasping kind of breathing I have seen in her. When I walk, it does get louder and more musical, but generally, sitting, I just whistle.

asthma navelgazing writer

The feeling I get when walking is really odd. I feel like I can take half a breath and then something clamps over my lungs and I am unable to inhale any more than that half-breath. I lean over trying to breathe, catch my breath with that clamped down feeling. It does not go away until I am sitting again for a few minutes. Then back to the open breathing and whistling.

asthma navelgazing writer

I go to the Cardiologist March 26th. It will be interesting to see what the deal is with my heart, too.

I’ll write what I learn as I go along.

I Am Depressed (Again)

I am terribly depressed.

Life circumstances, work being really slow, being diagnosed with new issues that require care and attention and, worst of all, my weight has hit an all-time high… all have combined to submerge me into the waters of depression.

depression navelgazing writer

Fat is Weighing Me Down

I am distraught mostly about my weight. I had an RNY Gastric Bypass, for fuck’s sake. Granted it was 19 years ago, but still. You know it’s bad when the Pulmonologist, who has just diagnosed asthma and sleep apnea, then prescribed several inhalers and a CPAP machine, asks, “Can you do the gastric bypass again?”

hate my fat navelgazing writer

Bring on the Psych Meds

I see the psychiatrist on the 12th and it cannot come soon enough. He changed the meds slightly last time, but I have fallen deeper and I am in that place of just not caring if I get out of bed, if I work, if I write. I just don’t care.

And I hate that I don’t care because I know it is depression and not me.

Diabetes Crap, Too

While my Hemoglobin A1c is a not bad 6.4, it is up from 5.8 a few months ago. The Lantus was upped again, to 85u daily, but about 4 hours after I injected it into my fat belly this morning, my Blood Glucose went down to a 38, the lowest I have ever seen it. I thought I was going to have to call 911, and probably should have, but I kept slamming juice pouches until it hit 60 and I began feeling… feeling… again. I ate a PBJ with very little J and my BGs have been better this afternoon… around 100.

And yes, I do know insulin causes weight gain.

It’s just overwhelming sometimes.

Reading Good Books, Though!

I love Audible so much I could cry. I listen to books for several hours a day and am plowing through piles of them.

Newer books I love:

The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.

originals navelgazing writer

By far the best “self-help” book I have ever read. My entire mental process has shifted and when I write, am writing without the self-judgement I was giving myself. Many, many other incredibly valuable pieces of information are in the book, from parenthood to dying. It’s just beautiful.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones navelgazing writer

Besides the intricate personalities between band members and their intertwined stories, I listened to this thinking what an amazing writer Reid is. She has multiple characters and speaks as them in first person and each character sounds exactly as they should and so so different from the others in the book. Listening, you get different people speaking the parts whereas reading, you “hear” them in your head. I believe this would be one time when Audible is far preferable to reading it.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett & Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Yes, I’m reading children’s books I missed growing up. My grandkids have read them, now it’s my turn.

I’ve seen several incarnations of The Secret Garden in movies (and a new one comes out April 10, 2020), but the book was so different than any of them and so filled with magic and the love of the earth, I was mesmerized with every syllable. Pure poetry.

secret garden navelgazing writer

Black Beauty is the horse’s autobiography, told by Black Beauty himself. Clever, wondrous idea! How did Ms. Sewell ever conceive of this is beyond me. And that this was the only book she every wrote! She began writing it when she was 51 and finished when she was 57, dying 5 months after its publication. I’ve not been into horses like a lot of my friends, but I can see why after reading this… a fantastic book.

black beauty navelgazing writer

Perk Me Up

Writing about the books helped. I don’t feel so desperate and alone with them.

I’ll go read now.

Watching St. Elsewhere

I looovvveeed St. Elsewhere on its first go ’round from 1982 until 1988. Now, here I am watching it in 2020 on HULU and it is stunning how much different medical care is now from the then-state-of-the-art care.

stelsewhere

  • St. Eligius did not have a CT Scan, there was only one in the city.
  • The doctors and nurses wore no gloves except in surgery. This was right before AIDS became a household word and they did wear gloves in the AIDS episode, but otherwise, none in the ER or with patients.
  • Needles! Needles and syringes were handed around like licorice instead of potential needle sticks. I mean, NEEDLES 6 inches long. I can only imagine how many times they were poked just making the show. Universal Precautions were not even created until 1985.
  • People walked around with bloody gowns (especially Ehrlich who was played by Ed Begley Jr.).
  • People serving food licked their fingers. ACK!
  • Issues like the The Troubles in Northern Ireland were prevalent.
  • Ism’s abounded! Sexism (women were smacked on the bottom all the time… nurses, candy stripers, doctors, all), Ableism (show about a deaf man and patient demonstrated how easy it was to discriminate against people who were different at that time), Homophobia, Classism, Racism of all kinds… just stunning how blatant it was not so long ago.
  • Babies of the doctors (Jack Morrison, played by David Morse) were in playpens on the patient floors, back in nurses’ stations, but still.
  • Phillip Chandler (Denzel Washington in one of his first roles), stopped for Running While Black. Sadly, still an issue today.
  • Breast cancer was just getting traction in the news, a major storyline on the show.
  • Mark Harmon (Bobby Caldwell) was yummy as ever, even after he was attacked by razor blades.
  • In the AIDS episode, the patient was put in an isolation ward and Dr. White (Terence Knox) was permitted to not take care of the guy because he was married and had kids. That would never happen today.
  • Howie Mandel (Wayne Fiscus) represented a new wave of doctors that were amusing, kind and not always professional. Docs swung that way for awhile, but then it went to far and it is seriously in the professionalism quadrant now.
  • The shows that discussed rape were archaic compared to how rape cases are treated now. However, I will tell you even today’s care could use a serious upgrade.

I just started Season 3, so am sure I will write more as I watch more.

After St. Elsewhere, it is on to ER! I can hardly wait!

ER

NaNoWriMo Again!

National Novel Writing Month begins at midnight tonight… November 1, 2019. I did NaNo last year and wrote around 30,000 words. Not the 50,000 word goal, but not bad.

1_r0GNYc6_Ye-SI73aKSv1WA

Yes, 50,000 words in a month. That’s the purpose of NaNo. That is 1667 words a day. If I am being prolific, I can do around 700 a day, sometimes up to 1000. But consistently? Not so much.

I have 4 Works in Progress… 3 Memoirs and 1 Psychological Thriller. The one I am working on for NaNo is (working title) In the Bushes: Gay Life before AIDS. I spent a lot of time in the gay community from 1978-1982 and have fabulous stories to share about those crazy times before my friends started to die around me. I’ve already begun, have just over 7000 words so far, and the book is unfolding beautifully. My goal for November is to write those 50,000 words.

NaNo-2019-Writer-Web-Badge-1

The NaNoWriMo community is amazingly supportive. Tons of forums… many serious, others completely frivolous. I closed my Facebook for the month, but must stay out of the NaNo forums until my daily numbers are met.

nov02-2012

And so I am off to write. Wish me well!

MDBlkQ4

Forgiveness

I have a Rubik’s Cube in my hand… the hand in my mind… working it working it working it, trying to figure out how to change things I have done in my life, how to correct them, make better decisions, hurt fewer people. If I can just figure out the right way to get the colors lined up, my life would not be filled with so many regrets.

s-l300

I have apologized to those around me, including my children, many, many times, yet I still feel horribly guilty for my transgressions. I’ve confessed my sins in therapy for 30 years now, yet continue enduring the weight of guilt, it often weighing me down into depression.

And then I heard, in a book* I am listening to, “How long is the sentence for these crimes you committed in your 20s, 30s and 40s? What is a fair sentence for your crime?”

I am 58 and believe my sentence is now over.

In this decision, I thought, “Does carrying others’ pain lessen their own misery?” It does not. I also do not believe my children want me to suffer anymore.

Pain

I am here to answer the questions people in my life have. I am here to apologize for things I am responsible for, but I will not wear the yoke of guilt any longer. I release my Self from my shame, my pain, my sadness and my grief for the things not done or that I did wrong.

Therefore, I shall make amends… and forgive my Self.

* Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

therapist

How to Find a Therapist

sonowiamhere

Looking for a Therapist?

Looking for a therapist can be a daunting task. I know because I have had to find several over the last 40 years. Finding someone compatible can take time and when you are in a crisis, time is not what one typically has.

Here, I will lay out questions that can help with the screening process for who might be a good fit… and who will definitely not be a good fit.

choose

How to Find a Therapist

Finding who to call can include getting names from Human Resources, your insurance book or Googling “Therapists.”

I find that if you need low-cost therapists, going to support agencies can help more than just Googling. I suggest the LGBTQ+ Center in the nearest town, even if you are not wanting to talk about those issues, they keep a long list of therapists who are low-no cost. You can also search the county’s social services site.

You can call the local college and ask them for recommendations. If it is a school that licenses therapists, that can be a jackpot, asking for newer therapists because they often charge less. It can seem not fabulous to ask for a new therapist, but they are often the ones with the newest ideas in research and are willing to work with you and your desires for therapy.

list

Once You Have the List

It can be daunting to call the long list of therapists you have in front of you. Take your time. Call 3, then take a break and call 3 more the next hour or so. Be gentle on yourself even if you are desperate.

Desperate, of course, means NOT in a place to harm yourself or others.

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If you are in a suicidal or homicidal place, PLEASE CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

Calling for an Appointment

You will almost always get an answering machine when you call. That is normal. So plan out what you are going to say… write it down and read it if you want to… and then say what you need to the machine. Short and as succinct as possible. Therapist’s appointments end at 10 ’til the hour, so occasionally you might catch a person between then and the top of the hour, but not usually.

“Hi, my name is Barb Herrera and I need a therapist for depression. Your name was given to me by the LGBTQ Center. I am in crisis, but not suicidal, so the sooner I can see someone the better. My phone number is: xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

If you are in crisis, it is important to say you are. Make sure to add the not suicidal part, please… if you are NOT suicidal, of course.

If you are a parent, needing therapy for a child, you can say, “Hi, my name is Barb Herrera and my 10-year old son William needs help with his ADHD and anger issues. We are having a very hard time right now, so the sooner I can see someone the better. Please help!”

I find the phrase, “Please help me,” brings out the codependent in just about everyone. I use it in the ER, in bookstores, and looking for therapists.

You might need to call 20 therapists to get 3 to call you back. That is the way it goes, sadly. Some will be kind and tell you they cannot help, but good-luck, but that is pretty rare.

Try with all your might to answer the phone when a strange number calls (or a blocked number even) because catching each other can be a terribly frustrating game of cat and mouse.

When You Speak to the Therapist

phone

While it sounds like you want that exact therapist when you left a message, there is a screening process you get to do to see if they are a good fit or not.

I encourage writing down exactly what you want help with:

“I am struggling with my marriage. My partner is distant and I don’t know why./My partner asked for a divorce and I’m scared/I’m having such a hard time getting anything done, my life is shit.” Etc.

If it is for someone else, your child for example, being really clear with what you need is good.

“My 15-year old daughter is using drugs and I don’t know what to do about it/My daughter is 13 and angry all the time. I need help understanding her/My 9-year old son struggles in school and cries a lot. I need help figuring out how to help him.” Etc.

So, when the therapist calls, this is when you bring out that paper and read to him or her what you need. Then ask, “Is this something you work with?” They might say yes (some say yes to anything), but they might tell you that isn’t their skill set and that’s great. Ask if they have a referral, thank them for calling and move on.

If you make an appointment with someone who says yes, WRITE DOWN THE APPOINTMENT DATE AND TIME and keep it handy. I say this because you want to keep talking to the therapists who call you back. Make an appointment with each one, just keep them straight (stars or ** next to the ones you like) so you can cancel  the others when you get a feel for the right therapist. It is rare you will not connect with one of the folks that eventually calls. If you do not, pick the least objectionable and start there.

When you have the appointment with the therapist, please call the others and cancel. You will get a machine again, so no worries on hurting their feelings. It happens all the time. BUT, thank them for their time and that you are holding onto their number for future reference. And then do so so you don’t have to go on the search again in the future if the one you choose does not work out.

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Appointments

The first appointment can make or break the relationship, but I highly encourage having at least 3 before deciding you are not a good fit and moving to the next one.

It is also so so tempting to stay with one that is meh because the prospect of starting over is daunting and can be really challenging when you are in crisis. But, I promise, if you give the therapist 3 sessions and you are still not clicking, the idea that you will eventually is really delaying the obvious. Best get out and start over now. The sooner you do, the sooner you will find the right fit.

When I moved from San Diego after my 28-year marriage ended, I had specific needs because of the situation… needed an LGBTQ+ friendly and knowledgeable person. The first three people I had were very young and I spent those first 3 sessions teaching them about the transgender person. I stayed the 3 hoping after session 1 and 2 that they would learn on their own and come back armed with information they could use to help me. When it was clear I was going to be the educator, I ended the relationship and moved onto the next one. With the 4th, I hit the jackpot and am still with her 3 years later. I did not have to teach her one thing about the trans community or the trans experience. She is older and volunteers as a therapist at the LGBTQ+ Center in town. It took almost a year to find the right person, but it was worth it. (A year waiting for appointments to open up and the down time between therapists when I was frustrated and was too tired to move forward.)

little-loves-and-lastly

Lastly

Trust your instincts.

If you are able to be CLEAR about your needs… even if it is merely describing your child’s most difficult behaviors or your most intense emotions about your job… that is a fantastic way to start.

Others who have made these choices, do you have other ideas on how you choose therapists?

Consensus

I have belonged to two groups of women… lesbians in the 1980’s and early 90’s… and midwives in the 2000’s… who swore by consensus, believing it was the way to run a group.

What is Consensus?

Navelgazing Writer Consensus
Don’t let these happy faces fool you.

A definition is important. Governing by Consensus is when everyone in the group has to agree with the topic at hand or the issue is not finished/closed/settled until everyone does agree. This means that in a group of 1000 people, if one person disagrees, then the solution offered does not pass muster.

Until that last person agrees.

If the last person never agrees, the subject is tabled for another time. Usually until the last person leaves the group or keels over.

Not Loving This

Navelgazing Writer Consensus
This Sucks by Jaz Higgins

I am not a fan of consensus. I’m just too skeptical to believe everyone in a given group is altruistic enough to really listen to the issue at hand and leave their own egos out of the equation in order to find a conclusion to a problem. That would be because I have been around enough people in these groups who get off on being contrary and don’t give one whit about the group as a whole or even the pieces parts (the others) in that group. Instead, they have a life goal of annoying people, seeking attention and wreaking havoc wherever they are.

I’m a majority rules kinda gal. The feminist separatists reading/listening to this are shrieking, “That is so patriarchal!” Whatever. Majority rules works whereas consensus does not.

SDLP

Navelgazing Writer Consensus
Pretty accurate depiction of my Consensus experiences.

For example, I was part of the San Diego Lesbian Press Collective in the late 80’s/early 90’s. A “collective,” pretty much by definition, is governed by consensus. The politics of the lesbian community during that time was extremely separatist… men were persona non grata to the lesbians. Now, I had 2 male children so was immediately suspect, but they let me into the collective because they needed writers and I can write some good controversial shit.

The Press was always needing money. Finding advertisers was a never-ending job for some of the womyn (spelled w-o-m-y-n) in the group. Thankfully, all I had to do was write.

womyn

We Need Money to Survive, but NOT His

That was until a potential advertiser came along who happened to be a MAN, then I was required to attend the collective meetings.

This MAN was going to be a major advertiser, affording the Press to go for at least a year without begging others for money. But, his being a man… using money that a man made… was a serious breach of the way the Press worked.

But some wimmin (w-i-m-m-i-n), myself included, felt okay about accepting the dude’s money because it would mean the Press could stay operational for a long time and our (collective) lesbian voices would be spread further and wider. Many others, of course, did not agree.

wimmin

And So We Began

So, discussion ensued.

I committed to abstaining from the beginning, but was required to listen to the discussion lest I not understand what I was abstaining to. Therefore, I began the interminable task of listening to the back and forth of why we should take the man’s money or why we should not.

In the beginning, the arguments were typical and have already been mentioned… we could operate for another year without worry and we could have our message spread further and wider. But the “discussions” began to get heated.

Air Pollution

Navelgazing Writer Consensus

“Talking about a man at all is polluting our environment!” So we moved outdoors so the Universe could absorb the negative energy of the masculine discussion.
(You think I am kidding. You would be wrong.)

MEN have so much ANGER wrapped into their money-making! I don’t want that energy anywhere near our paper!”

(Never mind the really loud, and not always polite, discussions occurring at that very moment.)

You also might be thinking this meeting would have been a couple of hours long. One would have hoped, yes. But, this topic was a couple of hours long, carried over, every week, for THREE MONTHS.

3-Month

It was worse than that tennis match feeling, watching ideas lobbed over a net only to be returned nearly identically a few moments later. I lost count how many times I said, “I abstain.”

Desperation

It was clear the issue was becoming desperate when creative ways were developed for how to accept the money even though he was a man. My absolute favorite was that he give the money to his wife and she be the one to gives us the money out of her bank account. Seriously. This was a topic of discussion. FOR WEEKS.

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There never was consensus on what to do. The lesbian separatists refusing to give in to THE MAN and those with more mission-minded thoughts knowing that, in order to keep going, we needed that money. Because there was no consensus, the money was not taken and the San Diego Lesbian Press folded a mere two months after the end of the discussion.

See? It should have been majority rules… they might still be in operation today.

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Surgery Scheduled

Excision Surgery to remove the malignant melanoma and the dysplastic nevus is scheduled for next week, March 28th, 2019… the day before my 58th birthday. I keep thinking I am okay, not nervous or worried, but my behaviors say differently.

Cancer Surgery Navelgazing Writer
Surgery No. 10 by Steven Higgins

I was in pain a few days ago so bought a bottle of amaretto. In a 24-hour period, I drank the entire bottle. When I was done, I thought, “Hmmm, this is not a good way to cope,” so called my therapist and had an emergency session with her that night. She offered other ways of coping… distraction being the main one… playing more in Second Life, writing more and finding a good book to read.

(Please don’t tune out the next section!)

I considered calling the psychiatrist for some anti-anxiety meds, but thought that wasn’t a good strategy for a former addict either. Instead, I bought Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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This is the basis for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, the course I took in San Diego several years ago that helped me with a great deal of pain, depression, anxiety and then later, with getting clean from opiates.

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When I was in all that liver pain, I meditated a lot, but when the pain was pretty much gone, I stopped (like a goofball). Now, here I am again, needing to meditate and I am having to relearn the skills I knew so well not so long ago. I am not worried, but BE-ing in the moment (did you who meditate chuckle like I did?) and going with where I am and doing it. Talk about the Beginner’s Mind!

In anticipation of next week’s surgery and not using pain meds afterwards to help with pain management, I am going to stay “In the Moment” and meditate to work through the pain I will surely have. Although I am not trying to anticipate it. laughing I sound like an advertisement for MBSR.

Next week, here I come!

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Blackface

So, we know there are issues surrounding the wearing of blackface by politicians and I wanted to share how I responded as things began.

When the first story about Gov. Ralph Northam wearing blackface in college came out, I listened for his apology and thought, “Well, that was good.” I also thought this was 1984, not too long after I got out of high school (I graduated in 1979) where there were many KKK fanatics and I saw blackface done on more than a few occasions. So, the pounding reality of the horror of blackface for African Americans/Blacks did not really compute. I was tepid in my response.

I also realized I am white and what the heck do I know about what blackface looks like to a black person… feels like… to a black person, so I began listening and reading the comments and thoughts and essays by folks who live the reality of black hatred every day.

And while I still do not believe I really understand how horrible it must be to be demoralized, depicted and demonized by a white person in blackface, I think I am beginning to get it.

I hope to find the visceral reaction to it I should have had when the yearbook picture showed up on TV.

Bettering

I’m feeling much better. I have been for awhile, but forgot to write about it here because I have been writing a lot elsewhere, mostly for work.

My writing is really going well. I am really proud of some of the things I have written and do hope they can see the light of day someday. I’ve come up with a Nom de Guerre (someday will share that, too) with which to show my erotic writings. I’ve been encouraged to write on Literotica for years and am this close (holding my thumb and forefinger a fraction away from each other) to doing so. Will all the years of writing lead to being known for erotica? I find that somewhat amusing.

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I’ve been going through my old Navelgazing Midwife site for some folks looking for things in particular. Damn, I wrote some good crap there! I was reading from back in 2011… my voice is the same as it is now, my feelings pretty much the same now. How reviled I was for bucking the system! Sheesh. That was so so long ago, but seems like a blip in time ago, too. Isn’t time crazy?

I am writing a lot on Second Life, too. I have also been asked to teach some classes, which will be lots of fun. Classes about women’s health, cultural sensitivity in discussing sex workers, issues around pregnancy and the like.

More to write… on my way.

I’m Depressed (Again)

Due to a glitch in my insurance and the Latuda company’s lack of medication, I went about a week without it. Might have been more. I have been back on it for 4 days now, but have fallen into depression. I wasn’t sure at first, but after sleeping 20 hours a day 3 days in a row, I think that qualifies as depression.

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And the crying.

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I hate the crying.

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The welling up of tears for (seemingly) no reason. The way they fall unabated, no amount of logic stopping them. They just turn on and off at their own whim.

What am I sad about? Nothing. There is no precipitating factor here, merely biochemical.

I want out of it.

NOW.

Forgiveness

Mom and I sat at the vet the other day, in that tiny side room with the dogs hiding under our feet. We wept together, apologizing for all our past hurts and wrongs. It was extremely freeing to know my mom forgives me for all those horrible kid things I have done… and she has heard that I also forgive her for her own parental difficulties.

I hope to know that with my own children one day.

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Snatch with Prompt

This was the Prompt:

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This is what I wrote in 30 minutes (unedited):

When Colors Run

Deep inside my colorless cocoon, I have a vague sense of other lives nearby.

I slither through their reality; where is my own? Surrounding myself with the darkness of my depression.

My mirror’d existence bursts into color, fireworks exploding with energy that drains my body, but never my mind.

Having Bipolar Disorder 1 is, quite literally, opposing colors of my brain. I see auras anyway, but during a manic episode, the colors scream off my body, tsunamis of energy crashing into my brain again and again. Voices screech… or whisper… I, never knowing which will be next… raging about how I look, feel, need to act, need to fly, need to find this or that, things that are elusive even after hours of mentally and physically searching.

Exhaustion never comes.

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When the electricity finally dissipates after months of zapping me, I collapse into that dark world once again, struggling to keep breathing and not smother myself with the thought that this will go on forever.

Reaching outward, always outward, needing several hands to keep me alive, I am fed my medication, waking only to swallow, then sleeping yet another 23 hours.

Writing is my emotional gauge. By how many words I write in a day, I’m able to see where I stand psychologically.

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Not writing for days, weeks, months… I am in that dark place and need help. Too often, because I am alone, I do not recognize the need for many weeks and, by then, am buried by the pain.

However, when I write 20,000 words in a day… several blog posts for me, blog posts and essays for work… long emails to friends and family… run-on sentences with divergent topics… it is they who sense my need for help and their well-rehearsed phone calls are made to see who can get me to the doctor the fastest.

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Walking the tightrope, umbrella in hand, I teeter, side to side, always searching for that inaccessible balance.

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NaNoWriMo Redux

National Novel Writing Month kicks my arse!

After getting off to a blazing start, I petered out a little past mid-month… which, it seems, is pretty common. Instead of the 50,000 word goal, I ended up with 35,111 words, which is, admittedly, about 35,000 more words than I have written in the last 6 months. My goal was not a novel, since I do not write novels, but to do a slew of posts for here. Hey, I did that! I still have 8-10 in drafts, waiting for pictures before popping out whole.

However, around Day 6, a fiction story started pouring out of my fingers. Huh? Where did that come from? I have no idea, but sharing it with my audience of one (another besides myself), it seems to be coming out as a pretty decent story.

Not having written complete fiction before, I knew I was making horrendous mistakes, including with dialogue. A group in Second Life (My NaNoWriMos!) suggested several books and I quickly acquired those. Poring through those, I am able to write more clearly than the earlier pages.

My writer friends also suggested Scrivener, a program specifically for writers.

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I loooooovvvvveeeee Scrivener. I did not start learning it until after midnight on December 1, but, so far, it has helped me so so much with my organization and being able to put things down on paper that I am usually carrying around in my head.

This is the synopsis of what I am writing.

Witness Mistress Lara’s training of Esmé , a natural submissive, to her eventual collaring by her new Owner, Master John. The path is not without its obstacles, Esmé requiring not only gentle guidance, but sometimes harsh punishments… neither of which are what they might seem at first blush. Everyone, from Dominants to submissives, learn what it means to maintain their roles and when it might be necessary to cross the lines.

(Title of Book [still unknown]) exposes the intertwined connections between BDSM, sex and love.

How far would you go to prove your innate worthiness to someone you desire?

Dang, I can write a decent synopsis! Hopefully the book is as yummy.

Re-reading it, I can already see the changes I have made because I learned I needed a Villain or three. A Villain?! Really? So I found her (the first?) and am doing her backstory. She seems so tender and was so hurt in her youth, you can hardly help but care for her. Oooo, until she does naughty things to Esmé.

I’m really having fun watching this story unfold. I have some idea of where it is going, but am much more a Seat-of-the-Pants kind of writer… not much of a planner it seems. I can’t wait to see what, if anything, ends up with what I have written. For all I know, it could be a short story instead of a novel.

We shall see.

Second Life (for me!)

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I once wrote:

“I love being able to have unencumbered sex with cyber lovers, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate. And what’s wonderful is they, too, are able to suspend reality, allowing me to be free… outside my body… and flying inside my mind. It is a gift that is completely dependent on the mechanism with which we communicate; the computer. Together, we tangle, we swirl together, we move around as if we were two feathers dancing on a current of air. Real life sex was never so uninhibited. It is a joy to be in this luscious place without my lifelong concerns… and occasional anguish… revolving around my body size, history of sexual abuse or even (seemingly) illogical psychiatric issues.”

This was written before I knew anything about Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world. Mind you, I have never played a video game past Pac-Man nor done anything with virtual reality. In fact, when someone tried to get me into Second Life, I balked, thinking it was a religious thing. She finally dragged me to screen share with her, to show me what it really was, and within moments, I was hooked.

I was able to make myself into an Avatar… and Avi or AV… and I could make myself anything I wanted. Not just a woman, nor just a man, but Second Life has an endless array of creatures from vampires to mermaids to fairies and elves. If you feel like being a tiger one day and a transgender space person the next, you can do it! Easily and all but free of charge.

I, however, created my AV as a woman. An adorable blonde woman with a bit of flesh on her (and I know she looks small, but believe me, there are plenty of women with stick legs and enormous breasts in Second Life). I have my girl’s hair short almost always, but look! She has hair! After being bald for years, it is delicious having a choice of hairs to wear.

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I am also able to wear clothes that are lovely, classy, dressy, sloppy… whatever I want, I can find it in the Marketplace. Yes, I have to buy most of my clothes, but many things can be had for very, very inexpensive prices.

And the SHOES!

The shoes.

I can wear the highest heels every single day if I want. I can dance for 6 hours and my feet never hurt and I am not crippled with pain the next day.

I can wear angel wings and be amazingly sexy if I want to be.

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I have not been in Second Life for a year yet, so I have not explored a fraction of what it has to offer. I have not ridden horses, driven a car, been a mermaid in the ocean, gone sailing, ridden a surfboard… even role played… which is a huge offering of Second Life.

I have also not had SLex… Second Life sex. I decided to be there for at least a year before having any sex or doing anything kinky. I am certainly a weirdo for it, too, but so be it. I have 3 more months until I am 1 year old (in Second Life time) and have to make any decisions. For now, I am having a blast with what I have done.

I hang out at a Commune.

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I have flown while dancing.

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I found an enormous writing community that is extremely supportive of everyone’s writing progress. It is with this group with whom I am participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge and doing the Snatches and Dashes.

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We even have workshops where published authors and professional editors come in and teach us wonderful new skills.

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And Live Music!! Who knew there was live music online like this! I have found all kinds of genres from ballads to Bagpipe Rock to amazing folks music.

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I’ve also gone on a date to France.

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And the museums! So many museums.

And a million parks to go to… to have fun on playgrounds, to meditate in Japanese Gardens, to wander the Botanical Gardens… just so, so many places to enjoy.

There really is so much more than I can even express. I am glad to share my experiences with anyone asking.

I am purposefully not sharing my name because I also love the anonymity of Second Life. I want to create my own community of people that do not know me in real life. At least yet.

Are you in Second Life?