The Hedgewitch Emerges

My life has always been like a triangular tarp requiring three anchors to be truly stable.

Big Daddy, my grandfather, was my first anchor and an amazing father to me. Having him in my life made me fearless and driven because I knew I always had a sanctuary to retreat to if it all fell apart. He was my true home and safety, no questions asked and no judgement passed. He wanted me to be strong, independent, and, to learn from my own mistakes. He gave me the absolute freedom to be myself and loved me unconditionally. When I lost him 21 years ago my life became a little less stable but I was able to hold on because I still had two corners tacked down.

For almost 15 years my first husband was my second anchor. Having him in my life made me relaxed and adventuresome. I was given the role of caregiver at a pretty young age and could be an intensely serious person after my chaotic childhood; he taught me the sky wasn’t always falling.  Our home was a creative sanctuary and he taught me to live more in the present rather than spending so much time worrying about a tomorrow I could not control. He encouraged me to take time for myself so I could replenish my own personal reserves of energy because I had a tendency take care of others first. After we divorced 18 years ago things became increasingly unstable.

With Heathen, my best friend, as my only anchor, my life began the slow base spin of a tilt-a-whirl ride. I managed okay for a few years, until it picked up enough speed to start spinning my personal compartment so fast that I was unable to keep my eyes focused on anything stable. Some of the spin was created by my own courageous life choices that were fueled by things like loneliness, depression, frustration, and feeling lost in the world. Some of the spin, such as breast cancer, was beyond my control.  Thank the Universe for sending Kethrys into our world as the mechanic, the fixer, who managed to keep the bizarre contraption from flying apart into disastrous oblivion.

From my 40th birthday to my 50th was the most brutal decade of my adult life. I met some incredible people and went on once in a lifetime adventures but I just couldn’t stop spinning. Every time I thought I was finding solid ground the damn ride kicked into high gear again. After the first year I began two friendships that I could never have imagined would become vital to my recovery almost a decade later. One was with Rahata, often referred to as the Lion. The other was with Duckie, also referred to as the Wolf. They are both relationships that built slowly due to time, distance, and, life situations. I have such love and respect for both of them. They met me and got to know me through my absolute worst and not only stuck around but were instrumental in putting me back on solid ground.

The demons and I took a leap of faith 5 months ago and hit the reset button. We left my home city of Memphis and moved to 2 acres in a tiny town in the foothills of the mountains of Central Arkansas to become housemates with the Lion. I was terrified of the change but he immediately made us feel at home; we have never felt like guests here. Aloysius has become a downright love monster, and, even skitty kitty Bela Roux is more open, affectionate and engaged with everyone she has met here. This home is free of stress, drama, chaos, and static. The topography and weather patterns are reminiscent of Seattle but it has the Southern ways I missed when I lived there. For me, it is the best of both worlds. Living here has anchored my safe home base. I am finding my fearlessness and drive again because I have found a sanctuary with no questions and no judgment. I do not have to explain, justify, or, ask permission for anything I do. This is truly a place to heal and rebuild.

I knew I was going to miss the Wolf when I moved. He had been my only daily contact for about a year and we tried to get together at least twice a week, even if it was just 15 minutes for a cup of cocoa on the patio between other obligations. I have called him my walking chill pill and come to appreciate his magical ability to decimate tornadoes full of flying monkeys with his stoic presence. The separation opened our eyes about how much things have evolved between us. We only get together about once a month now, however, that little bit of time in this environment has led to the most stable intimate relationship I have ever experienced. This intimacy is free of stress, drama, chaos, and static. He engages both the left and right sides of my brain. He has reminded me the sky isn’t always falling. Loving him has anchored my safe heart and creative sanctuary base. I am finding my words and my voice again. I never have to apologize for what I think or how I feel. I can speak completely honestly without any filters. My choice to belong to him is the freest I have ever felt.

I give thanks to the Universe my 51st birthday was in this place with these people. No, my life isn’t all chocolate cake for breakfast and glittery unicorn farts. Bad things still happen, they are just easier to handle when you have such an incredible foundation. I write more, cook more, garden more, explore more. I stress less, cry less, depress less, drink less. I own less and live more simply than I ever have yet am more fulfilled and genuinely satisfied than I have ever been. Now that I am in a better place I hope to rekindle and repair some of my longest and most treasured connections, including the one with myself. I am finally able to start looking outward again after a long dark inward spiral.

Thanks to everyone who actually stuck with me and weathered the storm. Sister Vonnie was right when she commented that I’m back. Bwahahahaha!!! You will probably be seeing some changes on my pages and blogs. It’s time for a little redecorating. =^.^=

Namaste & POLO!!!

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A Road Trip for the Soul

The past few years of my life have been a bit chaotic; it feels like several chapters of my life were being written at overlapping times. One of the things I have missed in all of the crazy is writing. I will be hitting the road tomorrow for a soul soothing visit with family… change of perspective… adventure to places I’ve never seen before… massive smack of the reset button. I want to take this time to get back in the habit of the things I have been missing. This is my first endeavor with the phone app for WordPress so I have no idea what to expect.

Time to finish packing. Namaste & POLO!!!

Jerry Orbach Dreams… or, The Elephant in the Vardo

Last night I dreamed I was talking to Jerry Orbach at a workshop and telling him about the first time I ever sat through the credits of something to find out his real name. A young man kept trying to interrupt and would not stop when I motioned for him to wait just another moment for me to finish. I finally turned to focus my attention on him and he started berating me, telling me I communicated poorly and needed to expand my vocabulary. I lost it. I mean, really lost it. How dare this kid in gangsta gear, who couldn’t figure out that a waist band goes above the ass (not below), tell me in words so broken they were almost unrecognizable as English that I communicate poorly?!?! He towered over me but I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his face down to mine then just started screaming like a banshee about having breast cancer, going through treatment, chemo brain, losing my home, just everything. I was so shocked by my own behavior I bolted upright in bed, startled awake.

Anyone who knows me understands how much this dream would bother me. I do not lose my temper much. I tend to stay very level and controlled. I rarely raise my voice in anger, much less, scream in rage. Logically, I understand exactly what the dream was about, and what inspired it to some degree. I’m not sure I can explain it completely without making this an unbearably long post. From 2007 to present my life has gone through so many major changes. I went from being as happy as I thought I would be allowed, quitting my stressful job and taking a part time job from home, an amazing trip to Burning Man with my husband, to returning home only to discover in the 5 weeks between my 40th birthday and 5th wedding anniversary that my partner needed to “leave or die”. Those things were closely followed by being laid off, then the breast cancer diagnosis a month later in April of 2010, surgery, chemo, the disappearance of people I thought were friends and, loss of my home in November of the same year. It was a lot to process and was complicated by the fact the poisons used to treat me turned my brain to mush. I could not think clearly or communicate. I used to write daily but my vocabulary was gone. I was feeling so many things but could not even put them into words. Luckily for me, with a lot of help from my friends, when I hit rock bottom I bounced.

What they don’t tell you about chemo brain is that it can take months, or years, to really recover. When I finally broke through that heavy veil in the spring of this year my head was so flooded with words it took months to sort out the constant inner chatter of processing my experience. By then I was pretty sure no one gave a damn about something that happened so long ago and I was overly self conscious about writing again or sharing my thoughts and feelings. Somehow, I had gone from being a strong and confident woman to being a terrified wallflower. Healthy but not yet healed. I’ve never fully talked to anyone about the “elephant in the vardo”.

Yesterday I was truly inspired by a woman I have always admired but have been out of touch with for quite some time. Her name is Sarla Nichols and I met her as the instructor of Sunday morning yoga classes before my entire world fell apart. Her class was always the highlight of my week and during all of these challenges I have craved that peace and calm but could no longer afford to go. My image of her was one of complete togetherness, balance, accomplishment, and serenity. Anyway, I was up early as usual yesterday and happened to be on Facebook when she shared a blog post. It was a beautiful reminder that we never know what goes on, or the struggles, in the secret lives of others or how sharing might help reignite someone else’s faltering flame. For me, it was another click of the tumblers unlocking a new level what I refer to as the Perpetual Lesson of Letting Go. I have to thank her once again for being an inspiration and adding to my courage bank. I have to thank her for reminding me why I end all of my posts with “Namaste & POLO!!!”. I am not alone and by sharing my voice I let others know they are not alone.

Thank you, Sarla! Thank you, Universe! Peace and light to all…

Namaste & POLO!!!

Vardo via The Enchanted Creatrix

Bacon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I cook bacon on a baking sheet in the oven. I always use that pan for some other purpose (such as baking chicken) so none of the flavorful yummy-ness is wasted. This time I decided to use that pan for roasting pumpkin seeds from the jack-o-lanterns carved by the Rents. I tossed the seeds in the bacon grease and they picked up the crunchy pan fronds while roasting.

Here is the delicious result…

bacon pumpkin seeds

And here is the creativity that freed them…

jackolanterns

Happy snacking & POLO!!!

From Bald to Badass in 2.5 Years

I have not written much about the experience of breast cancer. Chemo brain is a very serious and unsettling side effect for someone who likes to play with words. I lost about 75% of my vocabulary and communication was nearly impossible. I cried, a lot, and fought back by reading the dictionary and my thesaurus. Thankfully, I have gotten most of my words back. I cannot begin to describe the joy of being able to play with words again.

Anyway, here are some before, during and after photos.

DSCN0300This was taken about 7 months before I was diagnosed. We were at MFM and this was the last year before the con moved to the new hotel. I was completely bald the next year at MFM and had just gotten home from a 14 day stay on the Oncology Ward at Baptist Hospital.

DSCF4594This is me with my soul sister, Giddy Kitty, on the night Exene, Mike Dees and Jason Pulley played a benefit at Murphy’s to try to keep me afloat. I’d just lost my childhood home but I ended up in a fantastic home with an awesome family. This photo was taken in November of 2010.

GypsyCat Dreams 055

I almost always wore short hair before so some friends who have not seen me in a while will be surprised how long it is now and how curly it came back.

GypsyCat Dreams 057My best friend, Heathen, took this photo and there is no telling what smart-ass thing was about to come out of my mouth.

GypsyCat Dreams 059This is the gorgeous barrette my friend Jesse gave me for my birthday last year from the Ornamental Metal Museum. I love the way the color works in contrast with my hair.

=^.^=

Excerpts from a letter to a friend…

It is early Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the temp is perfect with a hoodie. Everything is quiet except for the wind in the trees, the wind chime behind me, and the birds above. It is so peaceful and serene. I’m sitting on the brick border of the bed along the shed and watching the flower heads dance on their stems in the wind while the chimes play us a song and the birds sing along. These images are what make me want to write children’s books and blog about gardening. I haven’t written much in such a long time. The chemo stole about 75% of my vocabulary and I was in a dark place for a long time. Finding my words and feeling the desire to write again fills me with a kind of bliss. Life isn’t perfect but it is a work in progress. The most important thing is that I am living life now instead of some unknown time in the future.

=^.^=

This is my favorite part of spring. The weather is still a little unpredictable and some days are still on the cool side. In between the winter storms that start pushing summer weather our direction and those tornado storms (right before the hell that is summer in the South), there are a few perfect spring days. Days like today. Every spring I have always let the back yard grow a bit taller than I should. I love all those different shades of green as everything bursts into chaotic life. And, I can never cut the grass too early because it would be a crime to behead thousands of regal wild violets.

=^.^=

moss buddha

Today is a Zen day. A spring breeze in my hair, the sun on my face, the song of nature in my ears. I used to be afraid of happiness. Learning to let go has been the hardest lesson to learn and the most valuable.