In theInitiation class, we were encouraged to make an altar that corresponds to a 4-sided wheel with a center. Each side represents an element: Fire, Wind, Earth and Water. The center asks the question, “How do I connect to Spirit?”
I have seen amazing altars in my days as a midwife, many families creating one for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. I have had what one might consider an altar before, but I would not have called it that. I was just taking pretty things and putting them together on the shelf.
This is my first purposeful altar and I was feeling inadequate compared to other altars in the group and mentioned it to my youngest, Aimee (who is a healer-person) and she said to write about each object on my altar to see the importance of each object without judgment.
I did that and do see the importance of what I put there, but am confused why so many of the items have to do with sadness and mourning.
I have my wedding ring that I had to get cut off when Zack and I broke up on there.
I have items from my Disney days, times when I all but lived in the Disney parks on both coasts.
I have several of my charms out on the altar.
I have a weird voice inside asking if there is going to be any more transformation in my life besides dying. Am I lesbian without a lover? Can I see Om if I am not saying it? Why couldn’t I have been born a hummingbird instead of a manatee?
Back to the Wheel at the beginning of this post… I do not know how to answer these questions. I have spun around the wheel several times, tried to let my mind wander to an answer and it is silence. I seem to be in some spiritual never-world.
I have been gifted a scholarship to a 7-week course in Initiations and in beginning, I realized I have not focused on my own spirituality in 30 years. My children were young and I don’t know if I just atheist-ized completely or what happened. During that time I was considering converting to Judaism, but there was very little spirituality for me there, mostly songs and prayers that did not resonate like I had hoped. I gave it the college try for a decade (or more), but it just was not the right fit.
Disney+ came out with the movie Soul a few weeks ago and I have watched it many times already. The gist is what makes a person a person… or a soul in a person?
Without any spoilers, you know it has to end with beautiful reflections and realizations of what Life is all about.
And COVID-19 is still uppermost in my mind, my worrying about dying nearly every day. I was in the hospital for a couple of days last week and have 2 weeks to watch for symptoms, making me hyper-crazy worrying about every cough or shallow intake of breath.
The convergence of all of these at once has opened the possibility for me to find spirituality again.
In my life, I have searched, prayed, tried several religions, gone to decades of therapy, carried crystals, burnt sage, carried a “medicine bag” (before I realized it was cultural appropriation) danced under the moon naked, meditated for many years (to create Mindfulness and pain relief) and an endless line of trying to find The Answer. Remembering it all, I see why I abandoned it; there really was no answer outside of me.
That really must sound ridiculous to those of you who knew this all along and I wonder if I ever knew this myself… I distinctly remember telling others, especially when it came to birth work… but did I believe it? Did it have anything to do with me?
What Do I Have?
What am I going to find? Will I discover something I did not know before? Or will I be birthing new parts of myself instead. How have I been so stagnant for so long? Why has the mystery and glory of childbirth gone from my heart and memory? How do I reclaim joyful inner beings and bring them outward? Why is it when I am so near death that I finally am thinking about living? How can an atheist embrace the wonders of spirituality without creating a Deity?
100 years ago, when I was a kidlet in school, we watched a show on television about technology in the future. All of it was so out of the realm of recognition, I remember laughing about how absurd it all was.
One of the main ones was the idea of a video-phone.
My friends and I talked about the possibility and we all said we would NEVER use a video phone. How could we talk in the middle of the night when we looked our worst? Or when we woke up before we brushed our teeth?
The thought horrified us.
Yet, here we are, Zooming all over the place, using our phones as video screens, brushed teeth or not.
Amazing how phone technology has progressed in my lifetime.
There was a time, long before Google, long before cell phones, long before Zoom that there was something called Usenet newsgroups and that melded with DejaNews. In 2001, Google bought DejaNews. I’m going to put links for you to check out when you have time.
“Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea – massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.”
Gene Spafford, 1992
When Google bought DejaNews, millions and millions of Archives were not published, leaving those of us who were active in Usenet before the buyout, with our posts floating in the ether of the Internet universe. There was never a date Google said they would offer those archives, specifically from 1991-2001, but in October 2020, they came back online. With them came hundreds of thousands of my own words, mostly written in Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks or RADP (Rad-pea), obviously a Disney newsgroup.
I was known as “gardenia” (lowercase g) back then (an explanation another day) and we all had taglines that came with our names and one I had shocks me: the beauty of movement is discovered in the momentum! Was I really that introspective back then? I guess the “Navelgazing” had to start somewhere, right? This one I kept for the longest time: TDC gardenia, aka Feral Mermaid, savage siren of the magic waters. The TDC means Trimobius Disney Cabinet (member), a faux “club” that anyone could join.
Posts & Words
I am stunned at how much I wrote on RADP, I searched “gardenia” in the (now) GoogleGroups and found my first post on page 1601.
feral mermaid Nov 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM
I must warn you…beware of the veggie burgers at Cosmic Ray’s…they are most unsavory.
As a vegan who has tried a number of veggie burgers, I enjoyed the option of a veggie (vegan) burger at Cosmic Ray’s… and I thought they tasted fine 🙂 Adding all your own goodies to it, too, was nice.
When I asked if they were vegan, the CM taking my order asked someone in the back and they brought out the package so I could see that it was, indeed, vegan. I appreciated that. You can also get veggie food in any restaurant with a chef… they will make you anything you ask for as long as they have the ingredients. I have often had baked potatoes with loads of steamed veggies and many of the breads are vegan as well. Enjoy! Barb aka gardenia
What I found were mostly comments, but often with complete Trip/Jaunt Reports as well. Folks wrote Trip Reports after their visits to The World. They were welcomed with awe and appreciation, helping people relive their own times in Disney World. Because I lived in Orlando for most of the time, I wrote Jaunt Reports.
Who’s Going to Read This?
I am aware that the people who give one whit about this are either those that are/were in Radp or Disneyphiles, but I want to share my writings and here is the best place to do it. So if you want a glimpse of Disney, mostly Disney World, through my writings between 1996 and 2001, I am going to write those posts here. I will always state Radp in the Topic so you can bypass it if you like.
But I want to say, I did some kick-ass writing during that, my most prolific, time. Hope you enjoy them.
My daughter Meghann homeschools and has a business where she provides curricula for homeschool families. Her website is Rooted Childhood and she is well-known in the homeschool world.
So it was with great sadness Meghann announced the death of another amazing homeschooling mom, Emily Mitchell. Em was the mom of 4 beautiful children, the wife of a loving husband and was an extremely loving Christian. She was also pregnant.
According to the GoFundMe page, Em, who had no complications and was a completely healthy woman, was eating her breakfast on December 22 and then collapsed, dying even with the help of everyone and EMS. An autopsy is being done to find the exact cause, but it seems to have been a blood clot that broke loose and zoomed to her heart, killing her instantly. Killing her and her unborn baby.
The homeschool community has been a point of much sadness this week, being reminded of the precariousness of life. COVID-19 has had a similar impact in too many families this year, but this death has hit even me (and many others) very hard.
How could a perfectly healthy mom just die? In front of her children? At Christmas, the most holy day of Em’s family’s year? Meghann thought about all the projects Em was working on for her kids, thinking about the stashes of presents, the Christmas dinner they were looking forward to. And now these kids’ lives are forever changed, Christmas now will be a time of sadness and mourning.
Please hold this family in your hearts and, if you pray, your prayers. Hug your children and your partner hard. Remember how short… how really short… our lives here on earth.
The main book I am working on right now is (tentatively titled) Every Flower in the Garden, formerly In the Bushes. It’s an autobiographical novel loosely based on my life in the gay community from 1978-1988… immediately pre- and post AIDS.
The way the FDA tested medications could (and does) take many years to work through the vetting process and in the time it took them to approve medications for AIDS, hundreds/thousands died.
The group ACT UPprotested everywhere they could find that someone might hear their voices to get them the medications faster and faster.
The men and women fighting for their lives wanted ANY medication invented that might save their lives, or prolong it… even if for only a couple of months.
My Do Not Resuscitate Order
It was in reading this that I had my mind changed about having a DNR hanging over my bed. If gay men who were so sick they could not sit up or even cry anymore, who went blind, who had horrific infections… if they could beg for a longer life, I should… and could… do the same.
In my previous post, I talked out why I would be waiting at least 6 months before reconsidering the COVID-19 vaccine. I forgot to add an anecdote about a relative of mine.
She got the Merck & Co.’s Zostavax vaccine to prevent shingles and within 12 hours was in the ER with the shingles. Zostavax came out in 2006 and this person got the vaccination in 2018, right before a slew of lawsuits about this reaction not being disclosed even though the company knew of the “side effect.” Zostavax is no longer in the United States because of the lawsuits from people like my relative who was so so sick with the shingles. The vaccine was removed from the shelves in the US November 18, 2020… half a minute ago.
It took from 2006 to 2020 to learn enough about the vaccine to remove it from use. What will we be seeing from the Coronavirus vaccines in 14 years?
When the kids were little, I was just shy of being an anti-vaxxer.
After research and thinking, I did selective vaccinations, spreading them out, individualizing them and then, as in the case of the whole cell Pertussis vaccine, eliminating it altogether. Meghann had a horrific reaction to the whole cell Pertussis vaccine, so I did not give it to her again, or to Aimee. When the acellular vaccine came out, I felt much more comfortable about it, but think the time had passed for them to get it anymore. If they had needed it, I would have given it to them.
So now that the Coronavirus vaccination has come out and I am in Phase 1c/Phase 2 (depending on the chart you choose to read) of the order of who gets the vaccine first, I am having to think about whether I want to get the vaccine or not.
I’m reading about HIV/AIDS for research for one of the books I am writing and after reading How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France, I am left wondering… why no vaccine for AIDS almost 40 years after it became known. Yet, with COVID-19, a vaccine was created in less than a year!? I’ll give you that hardly anyone cared about gay men getting AIDS, many people believing the death sentence is what they deserved. But when babies started dying and unsuspecting hemophiliacs and women started dying, no one seemed to care enough to “Warp Speed” a vaccination for them either.
Should I Trust Science Implicitly?
Can I trust science implicitly? (I am speaking for myself because I believe each person gets to make the decision for themselves. Several people in my life cannot wait to get the vaccine. More power to them!)
There is a saying in the medical field to lay people: You just haven’t seen enough to know better. That is often true in birth. Doctors tell midwives they believe birth is so fabulously easy because they haven’t yet faced the split second catastrophes that can happen in the healthiest of women and babies. I have said that phrase myself to other midwives who thought I was being alarmist in my warnings to stay alert, not to become complacent in the “normalcy” of birth.
But in this case, I have seen enough to know bad things can happen with vaccines. I do not, in any way, believe vaccines cause Autism, but I do have concern about injecting the actual virus, a brand new virus, into my body hoping for an immune response that will re-attack at a later date when the virus jumps back into my body again.
I talked this out with my therapist and my girls, having them just be sounding boards and as I was able to discuss it, it seemed the right thing for me to do is wait. I am not going out, don’t have to go to stores, am not wanting to go to bars or anywhere crowded. I can stay in my space and stay safe.
The only people I miss in close proximity to me are my mom, brother, Aimee and her baby. I want to hug them all so badly. I miss my puppies, too. But I do not want to die… whether it is from Coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine.
I will sit quietly for at least another six months and see what goes on with the reactions. I know it will take some serious deciphering the truth from hearsay, but I am pretty good at reading studies and medical jargon. I will reevaluate my decision in June.
The goal for National Novel Writing Month is to scribble out 50,000 words on a new piece of work. I did it! Actually, 51,000 words (204 book pages) by November 30, 2020. I am so proud of myself.
The Autobiographical Novel/Historical Novel (not sure which it would be considered yet) about life before and after AIDS took amazing turns as I was a Planster (someone who does an outline, but also allows the characters unfold as they want to). I have whole characters that birthed themselves and a relationship between mother and daughter was born. I don’t quite know what to do with them yet because that was not in the original outline. I have never written a novel before so I am reading everything I can about how to do one, but not sure I will find answers in someone else’s books.
Today was Day 12 of National Novel Writing Month and I am kicking ass at writing! I have met, or surpassed, my goal of 1667 words every day since Day 1. Today, I went over 20,000 words towards the required 50,000 to “win” NaNo.
President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris won. I breathed for the first time in 4 years a couple of days ago. I cannot wait until the dumpster fire is gone from our once-beautiful White House.
My Fibonacci Therapy is AMAZING. I really do not know how to even explain it except a lot of “seeing” and “changing” things around in my mind. It is more than The Secret kind of seeing, it is seeing my own mind shifting.
I’ve relieved a great deal of my feet and right ankle pain. In 1996, I went to a pain therapist who taught me Biofeedback andSelf-Hypnosisand I used that knowledge for decades, but as I have gotten older, I either have forgotten how to get in that healing zone or have become resistant, so this therapy is reminding me -and teaching me new ways I never knew before- to relieve the pain in my body.
Today is Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month and I am giving it a go again this year.
I thought I was going to be working on my Psychological Thriller about a serial killing midwife, but last year’s project demanded I regroup and work on her.
So, I am back to In the Bushes (working title). The book initially began as a memoir, but it is about gay life between 1978 and 1982 and I struggled with it last year because of outing issues, along with the drugs and rampant sex. Then a few weeks ago, I learned there is something called an Autobiographical Novel, using the outline of one’s life, but creating an entire story mixing fact and fiction and voila! All my concerns were gone. I wasn’t going to out anyone and I could talk about sex and drugs all I wanted without incriminating anyone.
Still Some Ongoing Issues
Between tropes and fetishizing, I worry what people will think. My life was very white, but for the sexual experiences with black men (several characters prefer black men sexually) and that will surely not go over very well.
The main concern is the religious right will, once again, say, “See? They got what they deserved” by having such indiscriminate sex and extreme hedonism.
I’ve decided to abandon Talk Therapy and have been led to a different type of therapy.
Through working on my Psychological Thriller, I found the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The subtitle is: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Within 2 chapters, I realized the book was not just for my character, but for me.
Vastly Different Healing Modalities
Van der Kolk, in wonderfully scientific ways, explains how we now know that actual physical changes are occurring in the brain when there is abuse, neglect or trauma. Well-known in the mental health/psychiatric field, he’s found that people can heal their brains… physically and chemically… through Yoga, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), EFT (Emotion-focused therapy), neurofeedback (biofeedback) and activities such as theater and Tai Chi.
He has done extensive research with Veterans, abused children as young as 2-years old, elder adults who thought they would never feel better, folks with PTSD and C-PTSD and any number of others with trauma histories.
Van der Kolk does not believe medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/talk therapy are as helpful as therapists have believed for decades.
So Many Strikes
I’ve been in therapy since I was 18-years old, almost continuously. 41 years. I feel I am at the same place I started all those decades ago. I’ve tried CBT, DBT, sand tray therapy, art therapy, angel therapy, crystals and many more I can no longer remember, that’s how useless they were. I’ve been in a dozen different types of group therapies as well, most of which seem to have been created to see who can tell the worst abuse story.
DBT comes the closest to changing my thought processes, but that is because of the Mindfulness aspects. DBT has a lot of CBT in it, so it is all but negated.
Fibonacci: an integer in the infinite sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, … of which the first two terms are 1 and 1 and each succeeding term is the sum of the two immediately preceding
Instead of singular modes of therapy, I want one that builds on another, lifting me higher with each step.
Fibonacci in Nature
Nautiluses have long been how I see healing… one chamber being worked on and when that section has been completed/emptied, it is time to move to the next chamber.
I began a new type of “therapy” yesterday. I am not sure how to even explain it except it was beautiful and after the hour and for hours afterwards, I felt at peace for the first time in so long I cannot remember when the last time was.
My body was not twitching. My aches and pains simmered lower than they usually do. My mind was able to focus on one idea at a time instead of a cacophony of many voices so loud, none were even able to be heard.
I talk to people all over the world. I have for a long time, especially at work, but also when I talk to Customer Service people on the phone or in chat.
Since the Pandemic began, it has been a global moment for me. I am no longer frustrated when I cannot get my point across because the person does not speak English as well as I need (and I am always very patient anyway). It is like there is now a leveling of everyone, all of us in the same space in the Universe. (Hope I am saying this right.)
Whomever I speak to, we talk, sometimes just for a moment, about how we are and how our families are doing… a checking in with each other’s humanity. I have never had this feeling of being on the earth with so many others as I do now. That we ALL know this stress, fear, sadness and isolation is quite the reminder that we are really all together in this space and time.
Oh, I don’t know how, but my facial hair has taken on a life of its own since the pandemic.
A few weeks ago, I tried some strips and they worked well. Blessedly, I know the pain of waxing, so wasn’t too surprised by the yanking off of the strips that pulls the hair out by its roots.
Not knowing which I would like better, I bought Bliss Hot Wax, again not caring about the pain involved. I’ve felt worse.
So yesterday, I heated it in the microwave like it said to, in 30 second intervals for about 5 minutes and then sat down to my prepared area at the dining room table.
All I can say was it was a wax debacle.
Threads of wax were everywhere, reminding me of strands of cotton candy as it is being twirled on the paper cone. My dress, my face, my fingers and the prepared area on the table were covered with plops and strings of bright blue wax.
I did get some hair removed, so there is that. But I am firmly of the belief that, for me, hot wax is best in the hands of professionals.
The surgeon was very kind and patient as I asked my questions and even sat quietly while I cried.
He explained how the decision is made to put a person on their side or their stomach… it is the anesthesiologist’s choice… and he said they made the wrong decision. He said next time he does surgery on my back, he will insist I stay on my side, which does have its own challenges, but he said surgery was fast and there was too much trauma to my body to make the stomach a good choice.
The doctor explained that when someone is going to be on their stomach, they use cushions to help the breasts not be smashed on the table and it looks like the cushion was out of place.
He said because the cushion was misplaced (which happened because I am a challenge to turn over, which I already knew), then trauma split my underboob open, something that can happen to “fragile” skin. I told him I have yeasties under there a lot, but not in a few months and he said that can make the skin fragile (the perfect word I had been looking for), but it was no excuse for not getting the cushion where it should have been.
I asked if next time we might put the cushion in place before I go into the Operating Room and he said that was a good idea, but reiterated that anything we have to do small, he will try and keep me on my side.
As I said in the previous post, what I wanted most of all was an apology. He said, “I’m sorry” twice and I thanked him and told him that was what I was needing to hear.
I told him I had zero desire to sue for anything and I wanted him to know that, that I trusted him and his team and since he explained it, and apologized, I feel better.
I cried talking to him. I am still crying two days later.
Looking at the bruises on my breast reminds me of the ones I had on my breasts after I was raped in 1979. I didn’t remember getting those, either, so it is a similar emotional response.
I do not like things happening to me when I am not aware.
Another thing he said that made me feel somewhat relieved was he was in the Operating Room from the moment I got in there until I was wheeled out and into Recovery. I do trust the man. (Is that weird?)
He told me the results; the margins were clear! (They got it all.)
Follow-up in Clinic
When we talked in person, he checked my underboob and it is healing well, which I knew. He apologized again and I told him I wish we had done the excision in the office, which we had talked about. I said I had never regretted having a surgery until this time and that when we have to do this again, if he can remind me of what I wanted in a coherent moment, I would appreciate it. He said as long as I can sit still, that could be done. I told him I can sit still; I have tattoos.
He did say that the decision to do the surgery in the office or the OR can go either way. He said sometimes, when he does one in the office, he thinks they should have gone to the OR. I said I understood that and I would take his advice and we could make the decision together.
It was a very good face-to-face meeting.
My back is healing really well. I have steri-strips on. I am not itching anymore. I look forward to this one being done.
Surgery was Friday, August 21st and it went really well. The incision is much smaller than expected, so that was good, too.
I do not have the results back on whether they have all margins (meaning they got it all), but the doc is calling today so I can ask then.
One thing that was really weird was I was way bruised after this surgery. Not on the site, but my upper arms and right breast.
They are healing fast, but that first day they were bright purple.
This was the weirdest thing, though:
This is an open slice on my right underboob, the one that is the most bruised. What the heck happened here?
At first, I was amused. I think I was still high from surgery, though.
The 2nd day post-op, I began to cry looking at the bruises, especially the ones on my right breast, with the slice. I hesitate to call it “triggering,” but it definitely felt bad. What did someone do to me when I was under anesthesia that would cause these injuries?
More questions for the surgeon, whom I greatly respect and have zero intention of suing. I think mostly I want an apology.
I’m watching the start of the school year speed closer. With that, comes my increasing fear about what is going to happen to those in the schools because of the rampant spread of Coronavirus. Yet, schools seem to have no choice, being forced to open or they will lose the government money they desperately need.
The reality can be students going to school, taking the virus home with them, infecting the rest of the family. As we know, those who have underlying health conditions fare far worse than those who are healthy.
COVID orphans, a blip of a phenomenon at the moment, will, as the school year begins, be seen more and more.
It really does seem like schools are set-up to become superspreader events. Superspreader events tend to occur when groups of people congregate without masks or social distancing.
Rich schools are able to retrofit their classrooms with partitions, but what are schools without those resources to do?
Overcrowding in schools have been an issue for decades, some states setting limits on students in the classroom. But when they spread the students out into different classrooms, do they have extra money given to them to hire more teachers?
Here is a great list of teacher-student ratios including how much money each state averaged on each student. You can easily see how little states like Arizona and Alabama spend on their students (about $7000) whereas New York spends $22,000+ per student. Where is the money coming from to Corona-Proof the classrooms?
Schools Already Spreading Coronavirus
Schools have not even opened yet, but in Georgia, teachers have been going in to prepare for the school year.
While students in that county will be attending virtual classrooms, the teachers were expected to teach from the school’s classrooms instead of at home. No explanation seems to be had for the dichotomy in locations. Teachers tried hard to be allowed to teach from home, but that was denied.
It seems Ms. Newman made the right choice looking at the number of sick in that county after one day.
What if they happen to be carrying the virus more than we think now? What happens if they spread coronavirus to the teachers? To other students who then take the virus to susceptible members of their families?
Multitude of Trials Regarding Children and COVID-19
When one becomes a COVID Orphan, the enormity of the situation seems to reach far beyond what we could imagine.
“More than 1.5 billion students are out of school. Widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage. Stresses on families, particularly those living under quarantines and lockdowns, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence. As the global death toll from COVID-19 increases, large numbers of children will be orphaned and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
The article made me cry, the pending reality being so bleak.
Plans for Sick Teachers
Are there plans for sick teachers or staff? How likely will a substitute want to come into a classroom where there was a sick teacher?
One extreme is to basically do nothing — just tell the sick student or teacher to stay home. The other extreme is to shut down the school for each case. If a school plans to do the latter, it may as well not open at all. There is an intermediate option: Close the classroom for a few days, clean it and reopen.
I am very glad I am not a teacher or a mom with school-aged kids right now. I would not be sending them to school, but what if I was a midwife and had to go to a 30-hour birth? What would the kids do?
What a world we live in. So many choices and all really sucky.
Each day I wonder if this will be the day I am inhaling the coronavirus, sending me off to be a statistic on the nightly news. I have been sitting, not writing, mostly waiting, to see when the end will arrive.
And Then Today…
I watched the funeral for John Lewis and saw, really for the first time, how his fingerprints are on an almost unlimited number of moments of the last 65 years.
What is the highest calling of my heart and how can I stand up for what I truly believe?
Writing is the highest calling of my heart. I have so many stories to tell that are going to die with me when the time comes.
I have hundreds of birth stories to share.
I have so many stories about my observations, while not as momentous as John Lewis’ but they are mine, nevertheless.