Way Back When

Whether it’s a helpful habit (or more likely not) I tend to put a show on in the background when I do planning stuff. Not writing, but when I’m doing meal plans, washing dishes, and homeschool stuff, I put something on. Often it’s every season of the Great British Baking Show on repeat, but I also enjoy The Grand Tour, and then I like to sprinkle in various British contests I watch on HBO Max. Like “All that Glitters” or “The Great Pottery Throwdown”.

Today, as I was planning out home school stuff and wondering how on earth I was ever going to schedule some field trips when the weather here is constantly asking Mother Nature to hold its beer, I put on a new show. “Clarkson’s Farm” because in all honestly, not only do I enjoy “The Grand Tour” but I enjoy Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May and keep up with whatever they put out. While “The Great Escapists” was delightful nonsense I have no plan to re-watch, “Clarkson’s Farm” has hit a note in me that has rang so deep and loud that I am now here, writing about it.

Not only do I delightfully get to watch baby lambs being born, but I was reminded of when the pandemic began, and what that looked like. I know it was a horrid global pandemic that has now killed 4 million humans and I don’t long for that to be back in any way, shape, or form. No. What I miss, though, was that for a few months, for almost a year, really, the societal expectations of me shifted. I wasn’t expected to be running around with my head cut off getting groceries and planning trips and running errands and visiting friends and going to play dates etc. I was expected to be at home and to be happy about it.

And I was.

I could *breathe*. And as of late, I have found myself once again going way too fucking fast. I am out of breath, constantly. Not because I am literally running, no, in fact I wish I was in better shape. Rather, I find myself so stressed out I am actually holding my breath to try and slow down.

The kids and I are going out almost every day. Just for this quick or that quick. Run errands here and there. Grab this. Do that. And suddenly the day is gone, and I’m completely wiped. There went the week. The month. The time slips through my fingers and I cannot seem to get enough sleep to make up for it.

And I feel an ache for when we did not. When I did not run to the store if I forgot something, but made do and waited. When days at home were filled with everything we had already being enough. When going out was planned and we did it consciously and effectively. And being home was the *norm*.

I have too easily been led away from that peace. Too easily pulled back into the stream of never ending needs that aren’t actually needs at all. No. No. I’ve had enough now.

I’ve had enough of the running. Of the constant pull. That’s not what I want my life to look like, or what I want my kids’ lives to look like. I’m not going on lockdown again, by any means. One kid is signed up for soccer this autumn and the other is to start gynamstics. We have home school meet ups once a week, plus field trips. But I am going to be more intentional. On days we are out, we can run errands. So that every day is not an out day. Instead, they can be limited. And we can truly rest and not let our time be stolen by pointless comings and goings. We can spend time with ourselves and each other because shockingly, I like us. I like our home.

Magic starts here, at home, with me. So I’m bringing back the magic that was the “permission” to be contented at home. But this time, without a global pandemic and without anyone’s permission. I mean, I’m a witch. If I wanted permission, I’d go to church.

Always Two Minutes Away From Dying

The thing about life is that it’s insane, really. Especially our lives, moving at the speed of light, hurtling everywhere at dizzying speeds with over 150,000 deaths per day and a population that continues to increase. We are anxious sacks of meat supported by wet bones that are controlled by flashes of light sent from a wrinkly grey mass on the top of it. Lives are made and destroyed by strangers taking pictures and a few of the wrong chemicals can kill you, get you high, put you to sleep, or give you a hot flash. There is literally not one single thing about any of this that makes any sense.

Except love. Trite, I am aware. Over said. Over produced, certainly. But when I look at the passed out form of my children (it has to be asleep – lately they’ve been tiny bodied assholes during the day) and feel every last ounce of love that I have for them I accept that I am an anxious cucumber that takes sanity pills every morning and drinks magic bean juice to wake up and am surrounded by energy and wavelengths and data I cannot see and am always two minutes from death if for some reason I stop breathing and know that I would do it all again just to love them more.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Biggest and Best

I have always been a little person. Always. Since pre-memory I have taken pride in hiding in spaces that should be too small for me to fit in. I didn’t weigh over 100lbs until I was in 6th grade. Puberty didn’t strike until I was 15 and I was 19 before I got my b cups. I look back and realize I should have worn a bikini absolutely everywhere.

Fast forward to 33. Two children have given me stretch marks on my stomach and thighs, an uncontrollable eye roll reaction, and the beginnings of laugh lines around my eyes and mouth. They have also stretched out my boobs to look more like udders and eating their leftovers and running on spiritually empty for a *while now*, plus quarantine and keeping a handle on my depression – I have gained some weight. Not a significant amount. About 25 lbs. But when you’ve been told your whole life how small you are – not fitting into adolescent clothes as an adult seems like a game changer.

But instead of falling back into starvation and self loathing and over exercising (because I promised my body I would honor her instead) I have spent the last year just letting her be. Loving her through my insecurities. Finding new voices to listen to. (Specifically the voices of my partners telling me how sexy my juicy booty is, how worthy I am, how good I look.) And understanding that if “getting skinner” is my goal, I’m always going to fail. Not because I can’t diet or exercise or lose the weight – I have absolute faith in my ability to do that. But because there is no gain in getting skinnier. There is no reason to be other than to fit into a set of criteria that our society has dictated that has no place in reality and puts a buttload of mental energy into looking… thin. And like… thin? That’s it? Not like a warrior goddess here to kick ass and heal? Not a full heart nor aligned chakras nor knowledge about myself nor a healthy appreciation for the body that has brought me this far? Just. Thin.

Fuuuuuuuuck that. Fuck it all the way to purity culture and back. And what would that teach my daughter? Sorry honey, mama is barely holding on so I can get a brief and insufficient hit of dopamine because I can fit into a size 4 again. Sorry honey, it’s not that ice cream makes my body feel bad, or isn’t healthy, or that I don’t enjoy it but because I have to listen to these rules to look a certain way or I’ll spend our story time trying to burn off these calories. Fuck fucking nope.

Things I want for my body: increased strength (my kids are getting fucking heavy!), increased endurance (wheezing after 2 minutes of tag is not something I’m particularly proud of), flexibility of any kind really (I am mildly ashamed at the amount of work it takes to keep my back from hurting now that I’m in my 30’s), and honestly I’ve always wanted to do a handstand and have the core strength to hold it. If those things cause weight loss – okay. If they don’t – okay. Because, and I’m going to say it again, thin is not a goal. Thin is a way some people are and some people aren’t.

And I… I want to be me. All of me. Even if it’s the *biggest* me. Because right now I am the best me. The most realized me. The most whole me. The most healed me. The most genuine me I have ever been. And maybe it’s because that in this season, this is my way of learning that there is nothing inherently holy in being small, no matter what I was taught.

Oh how I longed to be small and quiet and docile, as a true holy woman should be. Instead I was quick witted, sharp tongued, inquisitive, and loud. I did not do as I was told, I needed things to make sense, I had things to talk about and wanted to be heard. I had interests. I had enthusiasm. I was not demure in any way, shape, or form.

Maybe, my body is just changing to look like my mind and be okay with taking up space. I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’m not afraid of being big and bold and loud and inquisitive and enthusiastic.

Because why the fuck not. Because why is taking up space a bad thing? Why is being squishy a negative? It’s not. It never was and it never will be. So I’mma go put on my bikini and wear it everywhere. Behold, world. Look at my pale ass perfection and be blinded by my white ass cellulite. Watch me jiggle as I chase my kids and behold the glory of my laugh lines. Swing my little batwings. Bounce my juicy booty. Shimmy and shake and clap those thighs with the movement inherent in a full and glorious life.

The Chosen

Full moon rises outside the window
Two deadweight bodies radiating body heat
Legs across mine
Claiming me as their own even in sleep
I don’t mind
I have been theirs since the moment I could finally hold them in my arms instead of vaguely curse at them to get the fuck out of me

Tension rises outside the door
Voices raised as emotions are expressed
Two people learning how to love each other again
How to belong to each other
And themselves
I don’t mind
I have been there, walked those exact steps, been overcome and overwhelmed and desperate
And came out the other side with more love than I ever believed possible

Words rise inside of me
Always wanting to get out
Past my tied tongue and my half open eyes and stiff fingers they demand release
I don’t mind
Racing across the page they are the wind in my sails
Pulling the weight from my heart and pouring it on the page they are my anchor
They are my breath in good times and bad

We rise out of expectations
Insisting on making our own way
Laying down the burdens of antiquated ideals
Ignoring the calls for self sacrifice from the same lips that call us entitled
I love him I love her they love me we love
And I don’t mind
The side eye when I introduce my partnerS
Call myself a witch
Or hear my child drop the f bomb at story time
Because at the end, when I walk into the light again, I will never wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen it instead of accepted what I was given

Leave It Un-Done

Today was a day. Today I had many thoughts that need to be written down. About how waiting for sex until I was married wasn’t what fucked up my brain, but the purity culture that fueled it. About how romcom love isn’t actually love and living life together while still enjoying each other while you have young kids and fuck tons of pressure on every side is the best thing ever. Literally. It is freedom. It is joy. It is looking at your person and knowing that there is nothing life can throw at you that you won’t make it through together. Because it’s not about what the journey looks like. It’s not even where it’s going (that vision will change many, many times). It’s about doing it together, and discovering yourself along the way. About how I once read about a “pious” woman who worried, constantly, about getting grilled about her time on earth once she was in heaven. And how it’s taken me years to begin deconstruction on this bullshit but today, while watching IG reels and laughing my ass off, I thought that if anyone on the other side of death had the *audacity* to ask me if I thought today was well spent I would respond with “Well fuck yes it was. Actually. Thanks. Had a great time. 9/10. Would recommend.” About how people in the middle of doing the work don’t get enough fucking credit for how difficult it is in the middle of it.

But it’s the end of the day. My babies need cuddles. My brain needs a break. My shoulders need to come down from my chin. And I just do not have the capacity to give any of those topics the attention they deserve.

So, instead, I’m going to do this. I’m going to talk to myself (and you). Just a quick little message. Here we go.

Everyone deserves rest. Even writers. Even moms. Even people who haven’t gotten out of bed because it was just too much today. Here is your permission to leave it un-done. To try again tomorrow. To celebrate how far you made it today, against all the odds. Play the game on your phone. Binge the show you have watched a million times. Let your brain shut off, take a deep breath, eat the donut, and love yourself.

Perfectly Alright

Community. A term I have known, longed for, been deluded about, and rediscovered. I have been told since before memory that church was community. And since I could remember, I didn’t fit into it. I was not cool enough. I used to think it was holiness or piousness, but upon reflection, that’s fucking absurd. I did nightly devotionals, memorized scripture without anyone telling me to, read theology books for fun. The “accepted ones” had… other hobbies. No, it was definitely because I was an awkward, anxious bitch who couldn’t be chill for her life. Oh and poor. Adopted by some of the rich kids, sure, but definitely the charity case.

I don’t know if American Christians are even capable of community. Because community is impossible without whole-hearted acceptance of the “other”. Unless there are people who are not like you in your community, it’s just a club. And like any club, it is defined by it’s exclusivity.

Whereas witches… I’m not saying there aren’t exclusive, gatekeeping white witches out there. There are. I’ve met them. They suck. But most witches I know are the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. There is no one way to be a witch. There is no one color of witch. No one aesthetic. No one sexuality. No one pantheon (or lack thereof). No one path. So many that overlap and mix and mingle.

I went to a witch’s market today and it was glorious. A) there was cool shit everywhere. The talent of these witches! The art! B) The compliments! Everyone there was admiring everyone else there. “I love your dress!” “Your shoes!” “This is divine!” Short witches, fat witches, skinny witches, tall witches, goth witches, fairy witches, stone witches, card witches, fire witches, old witches, baby witches, atheist witches, goddess witches, green witches, and every other type of witch I could imagine. And we were *jiving* with each other. Celebrating. Lifting up. Supporting. Amplifying.

Honestly, I think it’s because everyone there has one thing in common: finding our own way. Or at least trying to. Not the mysteries of the universe. Not the secret to success, or the key to the afterlife, and certainly not an arbitrary list of rules written and rewritten by white men in positions of power. We are each on our own path and acknowledge and celebrate that rather than trying to get people on our path, the goal is to help them on theirs.

My favorite part though, has to be the style. No one has styles like the marginalized. The expression. The sheer, blissful audacity. The *authenticity*.

Oh, right, and I forgot the very best part. *No one there gave a single shit if anyone else was a witch.* Not a witch? Cool. Don’t need to be. No pressure. Want to talk? Want to do *this* witch thing but aren’t feeling *that*? Cool. Whatever you are comfortable with. Have questions? Have emotional baggage? Awesome, we all do. Let’s begin unpacking it together. Maybe being a witch isn’t for you. And it is for me. And that’s perfectly alright.

Saturday Thoughts

Potato Salad is a gift to mankind that I have recently realized I can happily eat every day. Fight me.

After many years of struggling with horrifically negative body self talk, restrictive dieting, borderline eating disorders, and insecurity – I have finally begun to make progress in learning to honor, even love, my body. I have rolls and cellulite. I’m 20lbs heavier than I have ever been in my entire life. And when you’re 5’4″ (and have been the skinny bitch of every friend group since you were 10) it’s noticeable. I have confronted the fears. My partners are not going to leave me because I went up a size. And if they did – those are not the kind of partners I want. My kids praise my squishiness literally all the time. To them, I am a soft place to land. It’s been a year of me just breathing through. I want to be stronger, but I have given up being thinner. It’s not worth it. My body has done too much, given me too much, for me to ever wonder if I have earned my dinner ever, ever again.

Baked chips are not chips. They are the love child of chips and crackers and I am not mad about it.

Today, while trying to keep myself out of a panic attack, I became suddenly aware of a sound that I currently and will always cherish (and someday, miss with an awful ache) the slap of kid feet running in and out of the house and shouting “MOM!” to show me something. These few years will go so fast.

Get the gap insurance. Just do it. You never, ever know when life is just going to… drop a fucking global pandemic on your ass.

We don’t play in the rain enough. Today, my daughter and I played in the rain. Well, we moved bricks in the rain but it felt like playing. It was a light rain, no storm, nice and warm. We got soaked. There was no dry clothing by the time we got in. Every layer was drenched. But it was perfect. And it felt amazing. And I’m done with letting anything other than ‘perfect’ weather dictate my outdoor time.

Dive in. Do the thing you don’t know how to do. Make mistakes. Look ridiculous. It’s so much better than never trying. And it’s so good for my kids to see me doing it. Today my daughter watched me fail in my first 11 attempts to fold dumplings. Yesterday my son watched me lose a fight with a can of spray paint. Next weekend they are going to watch me figure out how to use a tiller. But importantly, they watch me want to do something. They watch me not have any idea how to do it. They watch me research (a little). They watch me try. They watch me fail. They watch me keep trying until I succeed. I can now fold a dumpling confidently. I know how to use upside down spray paint cans. And soon I’ll be able to use a tiller. And every time it gets a little easier to fail and feels a little better to succeed. Understanding that one naturally follows the other, rather than it being an either/or situation.

What is one thing about people that you have a preference about that everyone else thinks is weird? I’ll go first. I love my partner’s feet. My male partner has wide feet and his toes all end at the same length like a rectangle. It is ridiculously attractive to me.

Aaaaaand there is your daily peek inside my mind. You’re welcome.

Friends Without Agenda

As an ex-Christian (and a devout one who studied theology for fun kind of Christian) I have a lot of “say no to “let’s meet up for coffee!”” posts about enforcing boundaries while deconstructing on my social media feeds. Which is super important and I whole heartedly support those “no”s.

But why? There is an assumption here that isn’t being talked about as clearly as I feel it needs to be. When the “friends” ask “let’s meet up for coffee!” they are being false. They don’t want coffee. They want confrontation. They want to address what they see as a deviation from their expectations of your life. That, friends, is *toxic as fuck*.

I’m not saying true friends won’t invite you out for coffee to address sudden, or even subtle, changes in behavior. They will. They should. What I am saying is that true friends will invite you out for coffee to listen, not talk. We all change. All of the time. And the course of our lives will shift. Sometimes subtly, other times drastically. If you had told me 8 years ago as I was walking down the aisle that not only would I whole heartedly abandon the fuckery that is American Christianity, but be in a polyamorous relationship and understand myself as a witch – I’d have freaked the fuck out. And yet, if you ask me about it now, I can calmly and rationally explain (granted, with the use of curse words, not even remotely sorry) that my deviation from my original “life plan” is actually a heart felt continuation of my deeply held beliefs about the nature of the divine, justice, and love.

That rather than a deviation, I see my current path as a natural exploration of my values once the destructive influence of the patriarchy was removed. Once the ways in which I expressed my values were no longer dictated by a completely arbitrary set of rules, my life is what happened.

And I am currently supported by friends who understand that, even when our values are not identical, or do not express themselves identically. But I wasn’t always. When I was beginning this transition, in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t have a solid friend group. And I listened to friends I shouldn’t have. And it almost destroyed my life. Not because of my life choices, but because of the way they were framed by my “friends”. I began to doubt myself. And that’s when the real problems started.

My friends, well meaning though they were, had an agenda for my life. Monogamy was part of that agenda. And it almost ended my marriage. The toxic trait isn’t the questioning of the change. It’s the refusal to consider the why. It’s being convinced that there is only one right way. Denying individuality, denying personal revelation, completely unable to address discrepancies in common belief systems, and worst of all, using friends as surrogates for their own problems and projecting issues onto them.

*cough* married people with their own damn problems *cough*

And fram, the only way of finding those people is to be those people. My network is incredibly diverse. Polyamorous families, monogamous families, agnostic, atheist, buddhist, pagan, Christian, sex workers, transgendered uncles, boy scout leaders, in the closet, out of the closet, parents, childless, and a missionary. But the one important thing to note is that not a single one of those choices, be it a lifestyle choice or the choice to live authentically and loudly, was made because it was expected of them, or because it was society’s default. Every life is lived because they examined themselves and decided the best way forward.

No one in my circle thinks that there is a way we are supposed to be other than kind. Each way is authentic to the person living it. The end. And the beginning. And the middle. It’s the most supportive, encouraging, loving community I have ever been a part of. I have watched so many women heal.

So when decided which people are truly your people – please remember to say no to anyone who is invested in your life looking a certain way.

What I’ve Gained

I have an amazon photos account that links to my tv as a screen saver. Usually, I thoroughly enjoy this feature as I get sweet surprises in the faces of our children growing up way too fast, looking at me from the past and reminding me my babies are still in there under the gangly legs and immense attitudes.

But today I had to go searching through the photos, trying to find one specifically. I scrolled through 3 years. And my mood slowly tanked during the process.

I used to be so beautiful. I had a jawline. And clavicles. My goddess, my clavicles. My body was full of elegant lines. And now. Now.

My jawline is not sharp. My clavicles are not pronounced. My lines are not elegant.

But.

My smile is more frequent. And genuine. My ass has filled out in a very pleasing manor. I am full. Full of food because I actually eat now. Full of love because I’m not busy hating myself. Full of deep thoughts.

Less full of tears.

More full of prozac.

You couldn’t pay me to go back. The times were wild. My brain was a primordial mess of trying to grapple with deconstructing my (once deeply held) religion, my partner was exploring polyamory and I was losing a battle to hormone shifts and undiagnosed depression and anxiety, we had two kids in diapers, and a total lack of friend network.

So to have a frank conversation with my brain, I want to remind myself of all that I’ve gained.

Yes. I have gained 20lbs. I have gained sanity. Confidence. Peace. I have found spirituality that is genuine, and not harmful to outcasts and minorities. I have found my people, and have friends that know me and see me and love me. And support me. I cannot say this enough, but friends who support your autonomy because they do not have an agenda for you and your life – essential. *makes mental note to make a separate post about that* I have found patience with myself, grace for the beauty that is the messiness of life, and room for all. of. me.

I have gained 20lbs and the courage to exist. Loudly. Boldly. Unapologetically. Whatever the word for “not demurely” is. And more. I can confidently parent my children. I have faith in my own worth and goodness and have thriving relationships. I do not have mental breakdowns multiple times a week. I have and maintain boundaries. I no longer people please myself into meltdowns. I laugh. Out loud. Often. I orgasm during sex. Also loudly.

I wake up achy and sore and feeling older than I am – but also immensely happy. Bad days are just bad days now, not the end of the world.

And now, as I look back, and see just how far I’ve come I am squeezing every squishy part of me and thanking it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Every ounce of you is precious.

Maman

An explanation, followed by a thought: how I have to begin almost every conversation because *my brain*.

The explanation: So recently I rediscovered my love of all things Star Trek. Okay, not all things. My love for Shatner (and right here, I’m sorry George Takai, I think you are a phenomenal human being but hoooooly shit Sulu in TOS is creep af. Fight me.) and Pine as Kirk, and my enduring love for Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in all of his 1990’s glory. *Of note, it seems there is a glitch in my brain somehow related to Chris Pine. I can go literal years without crying, but put on one of the Star Trek reboots or god forbid WW84 and boom – waterworks.*

Hold up. Mama needs to google something. *sips cold brew with trepidation* Oh thank goddess. He is older than me. Praise. Life is as it should be. I’m not cougar-ing Hollywood hunks yet.

Anyway, now that I am an adult and decide how I spend about 30-45 minutes of each day not currently consumed by kids – I plan on watching my way through all of the Star Trek series, so I’m warning you now, there are going to be random thoughts about Star Trek for a whiiiiiile.

The thought: Last night I was watching TNG Season 1 Ep 5 and in it, Capt. Picard sees his long dead mother. Due to the fact that it was a 90’s drama set not only in the distant future and of course, outer space, the dialogue is not always the most natural. That being said, there was an exchange where his mother tells him, “But I’m always with you. You know that.”

He responds with, “Yes, I’ve felt that.”

And I’ve heard this more times than I can count in pop culture as well as personal references. The ones we love don’t really leave us. They are always with us.

And I find myself desperately hoping it isn’t true.

I love my kids more than the English language has absurdities. I love my children more than I could ever, EVER possibly hope to convey in pixelated words on a screen. It is too big. It is not physically possible. Love is an anomaly in the universe and my love for my children could consume the entirety of all matter and energy whole and still have room for more.

And yet, haunt their asses? Spend double my life span here on earth to send them the occasional butterfly?

The thought of my father, trapped by his love for me, forced to watch my life in minute detail without influence or comment makes me almost physically ill. (Not to mention mildly creeped out. I have a healthy sex life, I do not want to imagine a cosmic audience of even one. Especially not that one.)

No, fram, I don’t believe that’s how it works. I don’t think their love ever leaves us. My father’s love will never leave me because that was the only part of him that was mine. The rest of him was his.

And love… love is one of the great mysteries of the world. It is more than a feeling. More than a direct flow of oxytocin into the brain. More than a tender touch. More than the sleepless nights. More than the fear of a life without them. Love changes us. It changes us on the giving end as well as the receiving. It is transforming. Whether it’s the love of a parent or a partner or a friend, we are not the same.

So to believe that love stays when the person moves on… that makes sense. To believe that love compels them to remain in a strange half life while awaiting the death of their progeny? Perhaps their grandchildren? I’m not entirely sure at what point said ghost would decide they were no longer interested in haunting their descendants, not to mention the relative complications in haunting more than one generation as they multiply.

On top of it all, as a mother consumed by love with her children – I am more than their mother. I cannot say it any louder or any clearer. There is more to me than being a mom. I existed before them and continue to exist outside of them. It blows their little minds that I have an entire set of preferences, hobbies, humor, and relationships outside of them, but it’s true. I will have a full life when they no longer fill up 95% of my conscious moments. I will continue to create, think, laugh, and have immense amounts of meaning whether they are present or not.

I realize that watching through a window for the rest of my children’s lives would be but a blip on the vast landscape that is eternity. I also realize that the only thing I could do from that window was love them. And that I will love them, endlessly, eternally, consummately, whether I am watching them or not. And that even in eternity, especially in eternity, there will be more to do than watch.