Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, May 30, 2014

an assignment to write from my adviser

So, anyway, I meet once a month with a spiritual adviser.  She is a great person and all-round rockin' nun, and I love her.

A few months ago, after many months of meeting together, I had a pop to the consciousness and a strange and wonderful break-through.  That is for another time, though.

We met yesterday afternoon, right after my therapy appointment, and, you know, after an hour or so of that you would think that I would be worn out and talked out.  But, something magical, as in truly and wondrously amazing happens when she and I sit down across the table from one another.

Sometime last fall I started attending church.  I chose a Lutheran place downtown because I am attracted to their social agenda.  Were I more fit, I could easily walk there in a reasonable time.  Even in icky weather.  I mean, that is why the Goddess gave us umbrellas.

Then, in October I became ill.  I still attended when I could, but I finally was sick enough that I could not make it to Christmas Eve services.  Since then I have been back only once.  It is only recently that I am improved physically and factor in my newest job that until now has been every weekend, my intention is to go next week Sunday. 

So, I was talking about that, my desire to connect in some way to something outside of myself, which may be a deity or the community or something.  I do not need, nor do I have time for another volunteer gig, so it is not that.  I am not confused or conflicted, just stuck.

I mentioned that I was thinking about finding another Catholic church, that it might be nice ti dip back into those experiences, and she told me that she knew of a church here in town that might interest me.  More importantly, they have a Sunday evening mass that I could attend every week.  I could get back to town when I am visiting my daughter and all the boys.  I could go after work on Sundays. 

I am going to go there this weekend.  Sunday.  After work.  I am going to sit there and observe and absorb, because that is all the extra energy I have lately, and I am going to allow it to be what it is.  No expectations.  No looking for revelations.  No being struck with anything exceptional.  No speaking in tongues.  Oh, never mind, that is another spiritual practice. 

When I was in high school I just could not take the church and its administrative folk.  I stopped going to mass.  I felt betrayed by the priests and nuns because the whole family would show up on Sundays and look oh-so-darling, our tiny town's very own Brady Bunch.  I digress, but I do not think that anyone could begin to imagine what it was like to have the little community, and especially that church and its members and rulers make all kinds of comparisons between our blended family and that television show.  Most especially when the rulers there knew much of the chaos and mess that was going on behind our closed doors.

I wonder what they thought when I came to school disheveled, pajama bottoms rolled up under my skirt because I did not have under garments to wear.  I wonder what they thought all those bruises and abrasions were about.  I wonder what they thought or what the purpose was to punish me for all of that stuff.  I have recovered, gotten over, most everything in my life, but those church folk and the doctors that patched us back together, because of the times back then, did not intervene or even talk to my parents about what they observed.  No one did anything.  There were no mandatory reporters like there are now.  Heck, I have been a MR on and off for most of the past thirty years, and I understand how difficult all of that is, can be.

And, yet, I hold pain about the people who knew and did nothing about that long ago pain of myself and my siblings.  I am not sure how I want to go about healing from that, or how I can find a way to cast that thrall away.  I am sure that it is a big part of my frustration when I observe injustice of any kind.  Anger, as well, although breaking through and acknowledging that I actually have anger is still a struggle for me.

The thing is that I am now aware that I am not alone.  I have always believed in something greater than my self.  I did even when I was barely more than a toddler, although for most of my life I could not articulate any of that.

Another thing is that whilst I have some amazing and wonderful friends, I work (all my jobs and gigs) with some amazing and wonderful co-workers and clients, and that I am out and about five or six days each week doing something cool...even laundry, which I like so much...the truth is that I am lonely.  I do not know what to do about that.

Someone tried to ask me out for a date this week.  I shut him down before I would be forced to decline.  My hope is that he thinks me merely dumb and oblivious.  I also hope that he does not try again.  He is not the first one to do this, approach me this way, since I left that other life.  It is not that I am not ready or anything like that, it too difficult to imagine that I will ever be able to trust anyone with the more vulnerable parts of myself.  It makes me feel pathetic.  I need to be safe about this now.  I need to not be taking any risks now. 

That and the whole church community thing are part of the same things.  At this time, church seems a much more safe place to step out of my isolation.  That I can do.  I can attend mass this Sunday.  I can participate to just the place where I feel comfortable, until I can make it to the next place where comfort beckons.

If anyone asks, this is what PTSD is like. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

i heard from an old friend

Last night, just as i was settling down and almost asleep, my phone pinged, and being the person I am, I had to check to see what e-mail was received instead of letting it go until morning like a normal person.  Well, I do not really know any normal people, so maybe they just have to check their phones, too.

Anyway, it was a message from a woman with whom I used to give journal workshops all over the place.  We were also super duper friends, and we lost touch when I fled that other life at the time she and her husband were pulling up their own roots and moving way-way out West to be near family.  We met one last time before they left; they drove here and we met at a restaurant.  I was still living in the shelter and was clothing-poor and looked it.  Not that it matters all that much, but it was a nice restaurant and I was already feeling adrift.  Not that it matters.

The e-mail last night was from her.  She must have found my address somewhere and decided to reach out to see if I was still around.  I lost all of information and paperwork and even more stuff and could not get in touch with some people during that mess.

A couple of months ago I tried to find her and him on Facebook, thinking that since the move that they would want to keep in touch with all of the other people in their lives.  No success.  But, now we have contact again and it makes me very happy.

In the process of reconnecting, I will need to hear more about their new life out in the desert and I will have to share some of the past two years with them, especially her.  I did some of that just now.  Late night rambling.  And, maybe to someone who might not be all that thrilled with the person I am now, which is not who I was back then.  There were too many lies and secrets and I was just a big, fat liar about what my life really was.  Oh, sure, the occasional slip let out some of my unhappiness, but never any of the gory facts. 

Anyway, I hope that she and I can still be friends.  My therapist assures me that I am still the same, basic person that I always was.  One of my greatest fears in those early months/year was that I would find out that I was not the person that I believed myself to be.  That released from all that crap, that I would discover that I was kind of a crappy person, not someone, gosh, like I thought or wanted to be.  That maybe all of the things that were happening, the whole survival thing, was covering someone not so nice. 

None of that happened.  I am still the same basic person.  And, yet, I am no longer that person.  I look like her, on the inside I am her, but in some way I am not.  You know, it is just not possible to come out of a life like that and not be changed. 

I know that I am changed for the better.  I am still a pacifist, but I am no longer a door mat.  I am stronger in so many aspects of my life.  I am more brave about trying new things, especially in my work. 

Today, or yesterday/Saturday, was a coffee morning.  I planned on going, told everyone that I would be there and when I woke I knew that I would be going back to sleep and staying home all day.  I did.  My coffee friends are important to me.  They, despite not really understanding much of what was happening (except for the one woman who was instrumental in the extraction plan and who gave me some of the strength to leave that day).  They have stood by me.  They have never judged me or interrogated me like other friends that are no longer in my life.  They never wanted to know the gory details.  Never wanted to wallow and relish in my suffering. 

The last time I saw them was over a month or two ago.  Something about me and what happened was introduced into the conversation and I said something that I have wanted to say for a very long time.

I told them that I know I am not the same person that I was before and that if they ever felt as though I had changed sufficiently to no longer be a good fit for the group, that I counted on them telling me that.  Of course, being the good friends that they are, they all tried to reassure me that everything was fine and all that jazz. 

I believe them, but I still worry about it.  Same thing with my other friend, the one who contacted me yesterday.  I am not sure exactly or even vaguely what I am going to want, but I do know that I want to keep my friends.  All of them. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


That is the number of big girl panties that clung to my shirt when I took them out of the dryer.

It is not enough.  For an old babe with an aged bladder to match, those six and their five companions really are not enough to make me feel abundance in the undies department.  I was not able to make it to the laundromat last week and had to hand wash some delicate stuff.  I have five pairs of pants, three sleeveless shells in the same non-wrinkle fabric, and a dozen or so outer shirts that go over the basic uniform, as well as a bunch of cheap scarves.

Cheap scarves...inexpensive and divine in so many strange and delightful ways...are one of my greatest pleasures.  This past year found me losing some of them, including a very nice black shawl/wrap kind of thing, mostly to the insane winds we have been regularly having here.

I think of them drifting off, fleeing to other realms where they may find a home with someone else.  Same thing with jewelry, also of the cheap frugal kind.  I make most of my stuff and wear it a lot.  Especially bracelets.  Like nearly every day until it wears out and falls off someplace.  I make silver rings, very simple, and they wear out and drop off of me, too.

It is interesting.  It is the only place in my life where I am not bothered and troubled with abundance issues.  As a child there was never enough of anything to meet the needs of all of us.  I went straight from my childhood home into my marriage home.  There was a lack of things there, as well, and it took me all those decades to understand that my ex had stuff that I could only envy and that it was not because I was unworthy of having stuff.

Through the years I bought things when I could, with what I had, but the need for more than I needed crept in on cat's paws, without any awareness of it happening.   Even when I noticed, realized that it was not necessary to have lots of art supplies, that the notion of having one set of pastels was nice, but it was so much better to be prepared for the pastel famine by watching for sales and finally accumulating five sets. 

When that bolt of awareness struck, I would divest myself of the extras, but it was a terrible experience.  I felt such loss and longing for what was now with someone else, most likely someone who would actually use the damn things.  I felt empty and vulnerable and in danger of something bad happening without the emotional protection that having stuff gave me.

I still struggle with this, and it is an issue that is becoming a part of my life because I have to start accumulating art and craft supplies in order to launch the art program that I have been asked to create at one of the agencies.

Yesterday I went to my favorite charity shop, the one that hauled away so much of my ex's crap when I had to clear out the house two years ago. 

It was painful.  I had to guard against buying cool crap that might just come in handy for a crafting project someday.  You know, that mythical someday that stays just out of reach and taunts you when you try to toss out things.

I managed, and bought only the few things they had that are going to enhance and provide supplies for the book making/binding class that is to be our first time together.

But, man, was it difficult to resist all of the goodies and decent treasures they have in the shop. 

Tomorrow is a day that I planned to go through the things that seem too precious to let go.  I took off from two of my jobs this week to have the extra time to clear out some of this stuff. 

Big girl pantie time, and it is really lucky that I made it to do laundry on Monday evening.

This is not even close to what I wanted to write here tonight.  What the heck.

Monday, May 12, 2014


If you try your best to do your best, it may work out...or not...but you will have the satisfaction that comes with giving it your all.

If you keep your heart open, it will be much easier to see the good in other people, and maybe in yourself.

If you keep your heart open, it will be much easier to understand that other people may not have had the exact same experiences as yourself, but may be just as damaged as you have been by your own negative experiences.

If you keep your heart open, you will be able to understand how the good things in and of your life can be used as the foundation for crafting the life you really and truly want and deserve.

If you keep your heart open, it will be easier to accept yourself for who you are and what you are about, even when other people may disagree.  This is especially true if who you are and what you are about is living in a way that is not in your best interests.

If you keep your heart open, it will be much easier to, at least, consider allowing forgiveness to be a part of how you are in relationship with other people.

If you refuse to pay attention to what your life needs you will find that everything takes much more effort. 

If you refuse to pay attention to what your life needs, you will feel frustration and, by extension, disappointment when it appears that other people are not interested in providing extraordinary effort, energy and research for uncommon resources for someone who is not willing to help herself.

If you refuse to acknowledge what your life needs, you may not recognize all of the good and wholesome and wonderful opportunities that are trying to be a part of your life.  Trust me, all that you want and desire, all of your dreams are waiting right here, yearning for you to notice that they are available to you.

If you, for whatever reason or previous experiences that hold influence for you, take the easy way, life may seem easier and you may be less and less concerned with your ability to take advantage of other people, services and all of the super-duper things that you can have, were you able to take even a small amount of responsibility.

If you have time to judge other people, your peers or those who are trying to help you, that means that you are not spending nearly enough time working on your own issues, problems, healing, recovery and, most importantly, fostering and supporting forward movement in your own life.

If you have time to complain about the injustices or unfairness in your life, you are not spending nearly enough time working on your own stuff.

If you have time to worry or fret or complain about what other people are doing or not doing, the chances are excellent that you are not doing or are avoiding the things in your own life that need work.  

If you lie to yourself, the chances are that you are the only person who will suffer from those lies.

If you lie to other people, they will eventually learn that you cannot be trusted.

If you lie to other people, it is appropriate and correct that they should be spending their time, energy and other resources on people who do not lie.

If you lie to other people, you will have effectively destroyed the value of your word, which, if you are honest with yourself, is pretty much all that you have to offer other people.  

There are consequences for every single thing that you do in your life. 

Consequences are life's opportunities to accept that your struggles will be with you for a long time, will herald other issues and their own consequences, and that none of it is the teeniest bit helpful to you.

Last week and the two days of this week have been interesting and informative.  I spent part of this afternoon at our shelter.  I was there to participate with a program for our women, and there was a level of heightened emotions and, well, to honest, it was anger as expressed by the women who were participating in the program.  Feeling of unfairness and resentment over a couple of new rules that were precipitated by their own behaviors. 

The eternal dilemma and alchemy of entitlement (Yes, I am expressing judgement here; it is deserved.), along with negative behaviors that do not serve them and what they want and need in their lives, and with the resulting consequences.  If you want to feel and express entitlement, then you had best be doing your part to facilitate that.

I am weary.  I am so tired of struggling with the people involved in both sides of my work at our shelter. 

I am disappointed and worried about administration that refuses to do what needs to be done and simply passes on their responsibilities to the rest of us by offering platitudes and pap (not to forget avoidance) in place of leadership.  I am worried about how I can effectively do my job without any support.  I am concerned about how our shelter expects to gather and hold staff members without supporting them.  This is not only frustrating, it is a little scary as well.

I am worried about the women in our care who are receiving the best we have to offer, but are not led to the acceptance of their own responsibility.

I am concerned enough that I have abandoned one of my projects there, and have modified another one.  I am taking as many steps back as I need to examine and understand what my role is supposed to be there, because it is not all that close to what I was told about this job.  Except, it is not just a job.  Anyone who does this kind of work knows that it is much more than just a job. Oh, sure I am paid a wage for working there, but it is not about the money.  Anyone who does this kind of work knows that, too.

There are quite stunning thunder storms moving over my immediate area.  There are weirdly beautiful and eerie skies. There are strong rain showers.  There is hail.  Here only a half-inch or so, but up to two inches just a few miles away.  The weather system is moving so rapidly that it has moved ten miles in just a few minutes, which makes it that much more unpredictable.

The news reports that there has been plenty of damage from the fierce winds, but the swirling storm has not produced any tornadoes.  And, no injuries have been reported.

I am comforted by how technology gives us this immediate and helpful information.  I was able to call our shelter to let them know to listen to the news, turn on the television for the non-stop reporting programs.  Whilst on the phone, the severe weather sirens began wailing, instantly followed by the thunder, lightening and all the rest.

It is probably fatuous to compare this storm with how I am feeling, but I began typing here before all heck broke out in the heavens.  It does match the instability I am feeling.

I am off to do some art and try to move into a better mood.  This is the first time in this now-new life that I have used creativity of one kind to foster and encourage creative action of another kind.  I wonder how this is going to end up.  Up.  Holding that.

My cat; not Schrödinger's
Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar.  And, doesn't.

Heisenberg and Schrödinger get pulled over for speeding.
The cop asks Heisenberg "Do you know how fast you were going?"
Heisenberg replies, "No, but we know exactly where we are!"
The officer looks at him confused and says "you were going 108 miles per hour!"
Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, "Great! Now we're lost!"
The officer looks over the car and asks Schrödinger if the two men have anything in the trunk.
"A cat," Schrödinger replies.
The cop opens the trunk and yells "Hey! This cat is dead."
Schrödinger angrily replies, "Well he is now."

 My kitten is growing up.  Soon I will be able to know what kind of animal she grows up to be.

I am in my box.  Or, am I.


Saturday, May 3, 2014



There is an invasion of tiny flies.  I heard the first tentative reports from one of the reference librarians.  She was mobbed enveloped by them at her house and in the parking lot.  I did not see them when I arrived in the morning, but we all live near the big water and they are sometimes worse in some years.  She was the first person in the building to encounter them.

Then, on the way home from the shelter a couple of days ago I saw a FedEx driver walking briskly down the walkway to a house, wildly shaking his hat and waving it around his head, running back to his truck.  Hmmm...gnats?  Gnope.

Yesterday when I came home from work I saw them hovering, milling around, just a bunch of thugs, albeit really teeny thugs, near my parking space.  I watched them and they were definitely not gnats.   They were too big and looked like little flies, only chubbier, but not gnats, which are so little you can hardly see them.

They seemed to be drawn to the warmth of the car engine, so I waited to see if they saw me in the car and were just biding their time.  They gradually dispersed and I gathered my bags, got of the car and ran like heck.  The little guys valiantly tried to follow, but fell behind.  When I got to the porch, they quickly caught up, but seemed confused when I walked to my mailbox.  When I got back to the door they were gone, probably looking for someone who could speak teeny thug.

Whilst eating my not-healthy dinner of unhealthy stuff, I turned on the television and the news story was about the insect thing in my city.  They had some stunning pictures of the sky being darkened by bugs and a sea gull struggling guessed it...the teeny thugs, which turned out to be midges.

They are harmless, have extra special reproduction cycles where there are many more of them, do not bite and will eventually find mates and disappear back to wherever they are most of the other years.

They are also pretty cool and I am planning to sit out on the porch tomorrow after church and watch them.  Yeah, I am going to church.  Who woulda thunk it.  I have been attending services once in a while when I am not sick or working.  Tomorrow is the first Sunday that I am not doing either of those things, so I am going to go and then stay for the group time they have afterwards, whatever it is called.  Maybe Hospitality, probably not.

Anyway, I am going.  Should be interesting.

Interesting like my week.  I had some of the funniest clients this week.  One is a person who obsesses about everything and always complains that she contacts her placement agency every week and they never have anything for her.  Whilst she was there, she called one of them.

Keep in mind that companies use placement agencies for managing their hiring of new employees because it is less expensive for them to have someone else vet potential hires, but also to keep people from  telephoning or just showing up, asking about jobs and generally messing with their day-to-day work.

So, she sees a listing on-line on one of the aggregators and calls them.  I sit back to observe.  First she demands to know if the job is still available (I had told her that the person answering the phone would not have that information), and...surprise...the person answering the phone does not have that information and tells her to click on the listing and complete the application.  Next she demands to know who the company is, which the agency person is not going to disclose (told ya so).  Then she wants the address and when that info is not forthcoming, she takes a breath and says, "Well, then, exactly how am I going to know if I can get there?"  That, actually, is a legitimate question, but she might have gotten more cooperation without attacking the person at the agency.  A few more snarky remarks and she hangs up.

She looked at me and told me that is pretty much what happens when she calls them every week, that they do not help her at all.  I suggested that she might want to think about how she speaks to this woman and that a milder approach might be more productive for her.  Her response was "Did I do something wrong? to which I replied that there were a couple of things she might have done differently.  She asked what they were, I told her and she really did not care.

At the end of lab time and when she was leaving I gave her a tutorial that she can use for searching job listings when she is not working with me.  She thanked me and then said that she would like one that was not torn.  It took me and one of the librarians to find the tear.  I am not really thrilled to see her arrive at lab, but she makes me smile and laugh and she can keep coming as long as she likes.  I suspect that will be a relatively long time.  Oh, dear.

She is not the only person who is struggling with the whole job issue.  People, good people, who would be excellent employees are not finding jobs.  Part of it is the condition of the economy here.  Our unemployment rates are officially low, but those of us who work with the under/unemployed know differently.  There are a couple of areas in our county, in town and a rural area, where the true unemployment rate is very close to 50%.  No kidding.  And, it looks to not be on the improvement track any time soon.

But, in their frustration and desperation, many job seekers are not behaving in any way that helps them.  I get that and I sympathize, and whilst I try to help them with résumés and all the rest of the documentation they need, interviewing tips and practice, many of them are panicking in their desperation.  For some people, there is not any easy way to find a job and it is mostly because of how they behave.  You know, how they behave, continue to feel disappointment, before they give up.

The shelter is much the same.  Despair.  Frustration.  Making choices and behaving in ways that are not in their best interest.

The populations with which I work are the microcosms of the macrocosm.  We are all the same.  We appear and are perceived differently because of the limits of our ability to see only the part to which we directly connect.

I do not have any answers, only ideas to support people in their efforts and desire to improve the quality of their lives.

It is all that any of us want.

The gnot-gnat midges are this week's illustration of that.  Teeny flies trying to live their lives to the best of their abilities.  Not hurting anyone.  Probably lacking any true recognition of us as anything aside from an attractant or barrier.  Just doing what they need to do to survive.  Just like me.  Just like my clients and shelter residents.

Just like  all the people I will never know.  To me they are my human version of what is not part of my awareness, just as I am unknown to them.

My always and forever hope is that I will remember that what I do not know or understand is not my enemy.  That what does not know me refuses to ever view me as a threat.  This is more than my teeny brain can conceive, but it is all I have.