Spirit Branch

So, I was supposed to be super productive today.  I was going to finish my Full Moon Offering incense, write about my 5th patron deity, maybe write a bit more about my complicated relationship with Inanna, clean my side of the room, bathe the doggies, maybe even collect some cherry blossoms.

It didn’t work out that way.  I’ve been having quite the fibro flare for the past few days, and it culminated in a lot of pain when I woke up.  So I already knew that things were going to work out a little differently.  Sometimes I have to pick and choose where I spend my energy, especially when it’s limited with a flare up.

So first, Bear and I spent some romantic adult time together.  We don’t get a chance to do that often these days, what with work, our other work we take on, our hobbies, and my health stuff.  It was tough for me to talk myself into it today, hurting as I was, but SOOOO worth it.  It always is.  We need to reconnect, and that needs to be a bigger goal than what it is sometimes.

Josef and Amie Ravenson

Josef and Amie Ravenson

Afterwards, I was struck with the inspiration to start a project that I’ve been noodling for a while.   I wanted something that was rather simple and beautiful to reconnect with my spiritual practice, and with the full moon in particular.  So I was thinking about something that would be creative and meaningful, and maybe even something that Bear would want to participate in.

Thus was born the idea of the spirit branch.  It will not only be beautiful, but it will give us a focus for each lunar cycle.

So we spent the next hour or so searching for the perfect branch to use.  (We have a lot of branches around, as our yard is heavily wooded in the back.)  I found a really pretty maple branch covered with lichen, but I couldn’t bear to damage the pretty lichen with what I wanted to do.  I found an ash branch, which I liked because it would tie to Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  But it was old, and I didn’t know if it was already rotting.  So after looking around, I was drawn to a section of a dogwood branch that was leaning near our woodpile.  The energies of dogwood are good for love magick, protection, and also WISHES.  Bingo!  It’s also prevalent here in the South in the Spring, and I thought that was fitting.  It will tie our wishes to our home, and also to the time of year when we started this practice.

Cornus florida inflorescence, showing four lar...

Dogwood magick- Cornus florida inflorescence, showing four large white bracts and central flower cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the idea is that on every full moon, we raid my (considerably large) yarn and ribbon collection to find something that represents what we want to manifest for this lunar cycle.  For example, this cycle I will choose a purple yarn, maybe some purple beads, and I will tie it around a quartz crystal, because I want to bring more ritual and a spiritual practice back into my life.  Then, I will tie the yarn to our spirit branch, maybe light a candle, and meditate on the significance.  Bear will do the same, probably without all the meditation, etc.  But in the end, a wish is a wish, positive energy is positive energy.

I will also tie charm bags, dried herbs, stones, etc to the spirit branch on each full moon, and over the years it will become more and more beautiful with all of our wishes, focuses, etc. there for us to see.  I’ll post an after pic once we’ve attached our first wishes.

Blessed be! 🙂

English: Lunar libration. see below for more d...

English: Lunar libration. see below for more descriptions Français : Librations de la lune. Voir une description détaillée en dessous. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Our poly is not like your poly

I was invited to march with the Vancouver Poly...

Vancouver Polyamory group in the 2011 pride parade (Photo credit: theslowlane)

I’ve hinted at some of our dating activities in this blog before.  Anyone who knows us well knows that Bear and I love each other like crazy.  Anyone who knows us REALLY well knows that some of that love spills over onto other people on occasion.

Polyamory, for those who haven’t heard the term, is the notion that a person can love more than one person at a time, and can have serious relationships with more than one person as long as there is open honest communication.  It’s that open, honest communication that distinguishes polyamory from cheating, which involves lying and sneaking around.  Also, it’s the loving relationship part that distinguishes polyamory from swinging, which is mostly about having sex with others, but not necessarily any emotional attachments.

Man, I wish we were just swingers.  Life would be a lot easier if we were swingers.  The problem is that Bear and I both tend to get attached.  So we have trouble with the notion of casual sex or friends with benefits.  In fact, we’ve gotten attached to the wrong people (together- we always date together) more than once.

It would be fine if we could mitigate that damage by dating several people, only getting and giving small portions of attention/emotion, but that’s just not the way it goes for us.  We just do better seeing one person at a time, and giving them all of us.

This is why our poly is not like the poly of others.

I always thought that polyfidelity was our ideal.  With polyfidelity, the group consists of more than two, but it’s closed to dating outside of the group.  I always thought we would end up with a third, and I’ve chased that.  We’ve had some success, made some really close friends, had our hearts shredded, but we’ve always come out of it stronger than ever because our commitment to each other has never wavered.    There’s always the hope that that one person who ‘gets us’ exists, but we haven’t had any luck finding that yet.

So we went the other way and experimented with more casual dating.  It was nice, but left me feeling like I was just one of a crowd for the other people involved, and kept me from really investing any emotion.  I’m a rather serious person when it comes to relationships, and if I’m not investing, I eventually get bored and wander off.  Great sex isn’t enough to keep me involved for very long.

So where are we with all this?  Honestly, as much as I dwell on it and wonder what it takes to make it work and where I’ve gone wrong, I’m finding myself very bleh about the whole thing.  I don’t know if I even want to bother dating anyone right now with all the writing/health issues/work issues/holidays coming up/insert other excuse here.  And Bear barely gets involved anymore, even if things are really promising.  I think he’s just tired and expects the inevitable split, so why bother?

I’m certainly not jaded about love and relationships.  How could I be with my amazing Bear here to remind me how insanely good things can be when you find the right person?

I guess I’m just taking a break.  That is, until I get bored one night and start browsing my favorite dating sites again.  Then it’s on like Donkey Kong.  The truth is that Bear and I are too boy crazy to stop looking for long.  😀

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Health issues and the drive to have fun, dammit!

So, we recently went through another bout of health scares here in the Ravenson household.  What a great way to pull my head out of my ass and put everything RIGHT back into perspective.

Long story long:

I went to the ER for chest pains and trouble breathing.  It’s not really new, I’ve been having chest pain for about a year now.  The breathing trouble IS new however, and it freaked me out.  I had an EKG, blood tests, and a chest Xray and all checked out fine.  I was told to schedule a stress test, which costs $8000-$10,000 with a $1000 deposit.  Thanks, but I’m poor and uninsured, so if there’s something wrong I’ll just die tragically thankyouverymuch.

My snazzy outfit.

While I was there, waiting to be discharged, Bear had what can only be described as ‘an episode’.  It’s happened a few times.  He got the cold sweats, got dizzy (room-spinning dizzy), and began throwing up.

Since we were there, I asked the nurse if she could take his blood pressure.  She said she’d need to check him in first, and since he’s had all the heart issues, we both thought that was a capital idea.  So they checked him in.

They ran the same EKG, blood tests, chest Xray, etc.  They didn’t come back OK, but that’s to be expected.  He has 4 stents from a previous heart attack.  So we found that his heart function is about 40%, which we knew already.  (Believe it or not, NORMAL heart function is only about 60-70%.)  The doctor was concerned with the damage to the heart muscle that was still present, and they decided to keep him overnight for observation.

I stayed with him.  My chest hurt, I felt like shit, but I wanted to be there regardless.  He’s my Bear, after all.

While we were there, he mostly slept while I mostly brooded, wrote, and brooded some more.  It occurred to me that we just aren’t those people who are going to live long, healthy lives.  We aren’t going to make it to 80.  We aren’t going to spend our golden years rocking on our front porch.  Chances are, the Bear will die earlier than most other people.  My dad passed at 57, and his mom passed in her early 50’s (54 I think), so it’s not unprecedented.  I’ve also had health troubles my entire life between the leg perthes, surgeries, adenomyosis, more surgeries, and now fibromyalgia and costochondritis.  While none of these will kill me, my quality of life just isn’t what it should be.  There’s always this pervasive background pain and the worry that it brings.  So, when the Bear is gone, I’ll likely choose to follow him.

I realize that’s all kind of sad, but it is what it is.  These are the lives we’ve been given.  On the plus side, it means that we need to have fun while we can.  I want to start making some more money so that we can travel.  I need to get him to New Zealand at some point, and dammit, I want to get to make my Scotland/England/Wales trip before I’m too hurty to enjoy it.  I also want to get my novel edited and published, so at least I can say that I’ve put something of myself out there.

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On that note, a few days after we left the hospital, we had a chance to go to the county fair.  We got to see cows and goats and chickens, and we ate a shit tonne of fried foods.  Granted, that’s probably just hastening the inevitable, but it was also part of enjoying the experience.

Nighttime view

Can't remember which ride this was

fewds.

Cow.

Sometime next week, we’ll be making our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchards in Ellijay, GA.  We usually have a great time moseying up through the mountains, and we’re hoping to bring back enough cider to ferment and enough apples to make apple butter for Yule gifts.

Life is fucking short.  We WILL enjoy ourselves.

DragonCon debriefing

DragonCon is really my favorite holiday of the year for various reasons.  First, I get to see friends that I don’t see at any other time of year.  And it’s always so familiar and lovely, and I can’t hug them enough when I do see them.  Second, there are amazing writing panels there that really inspire me to do the writing I should be doing anyways.  This year was no exception.  Third, several tens of thousands of geeks.  What’s not to love?

This year was a little different for us.  Bear actually took part in 3 performances with the Atlanta Radio Theater Company.  It was great, because it gave him a lot of exposure and confidence.  He’d never really performed in front of that many people before, and it was a fabulous experience.  He got to feel more professional, and have a serious rockstar moment during ARTC’s performance of War of the Worlds: The Untold Story.  It kind of took away from his happy Dcon time, but it was also pretty fuckin’ cool to actually be on the schedule for some events.

I also found that I AM actually kind of into celebrities.  I always thought I was too cool to care about all the celebrities there, but there are 2 words that summarize the change in my attitude this year.  LUCY LAWLESS.  She’s not just gorgeous, but she’s also charming and very grounded.  I wish her panel had been 10 hours long.  I would have stayed for the entire thing.

Here’s my day-by-day:

Thursday: Standing in line for passes, met Sam and Adrienne @ food court, then on to Trader Vic’s.

Friday: LUCY LAWLESS.  Stolen moments in a panel.  Crazy proud of Bear, though I missed his performance of ‘In Need of a Bard’.  Picked up Duncan from school.  Realized I hadn’t seen my husbear all day and freaked out a little. Need Coffee’s recording of Weekend Justice, then Karaoke in the Xtrack room.  Didn’t get to nearly as many panels as I’d hoped.

20130830_220029

Saturday: Holy shit, I AM into celebrities (wandered into the Walk of Fame, where I saw Gigi Edgely, Adrian Paul, Lou Ferrigno, Malcolm McDowell, and George Takai.  I was a little star struck.). Bear didn’t have a ton of panels scheduled, so he hung out with me most of the day (lovely!).  Went to the dealer’s room and only got as far as the Chessex table before the crowds pissed me off.   Ate at Willy’s where the superior tofu tacos live.  A local man selling ‘NINJA TURTLES!!’ (Tiny, scared baby turtles being shaken around in tiny plastic boxes.  Made me cry.  I wanted to go buy one or two to rescue them from him, but I didn’t want to give that asshole my money.  :-().  Favorite two panels (Supernatural Playlist: Music in Urban Fantasy, and City of Dreadful Night: World-building in Urban Fantasy).  I almost thought about not coming next year due to the crowds.  *gasp!*

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Sunday: Much less crowded, panels started later in the day so I found an alcove in the Hyatt Tower to crash.  Author James R Tuck from the two panels the night before came and sat there while I slept, was kind of funny.  Someone walked by, saw me laying down facing the wall, and said “Now THAT is a DragonCon moment!” and took a picture of me.  More panels.  Bear’s a-fucking-mazing performance in War of the Worlds: The Untold Story.

Monday: Blew off several panels.  Went back to the dealer’s room where we decided that a bear picture was more important than the nice anniversary dinner we’d planned (an obvious choice!).  Bear’s performance in Scouring of the Shire.  Make the Bad Men Stop (the very best way to wrap up DragonCon weekend- friends being hilarious and wonderful).  Hugging everyone until next year.  Dinner with friends at High Velocity (we were too broke to order real food, but ended up full anyways because they ordered the chocolate nachos for our anniversary.  <3)

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I was a bit worried about how I would do on Dcon weekend with fibromyalgia, and it turns out that I was mostly OK.  I had trouble breathing, and that’s something I’m going to get checked out, but for the most part, I was so pumped-up on adrenaline that I carried through OK.  However, I worked Tuesday and Wednesday, and that was ROUGH.  So the weekend itself wasn’t too terrible, but the recovery period gave me some trouble.  Maybe next year I’ll suck it up and get a disability sticker.  *shrug*

All-in-all, it was a lovely weekend.  I can’t wait until next year! 🙂

Family, chosen and otherwise

My grandfather passed in his sleep the night before last.  As complicated as our relationship was, I still felt close to him.  Even when I couldn’t share 85% of my life and the things and people I cared about with him, he was still someone I loved very much.

When I was a kid, I was always the favorite.  I was the first blood grandchild that they had.  I was the one that they took on vacation every summer, the one they fawned over, etc.  And when I became a teenager and started thinking for myself, that’s when the trouble began. 

I’ve always been independent.  I’ve always followed my own path instead of walking one that someone would set before me.  I’ve never needed anyone’s advice on how to handle things, I’ve made my own decisions and accepted my own consequences.  For my control-freak family, that’s always been a problem.  Through it all, I’ve never asked anyone to help me out of my own messes.  I’ve learned from them, become stronger (and stronger and stronger), and moved on.

I’ve also had various hair colors, tattoos, non-traditional relationships, non-traditional spirituality, and very little in the way of financial success.  But I’ve always, ALWAYS, been true to myself.  My life path sometimes seems like a sucking, treacherous rut in deep mud, but it’s MINE, and I do the best that I can with it.

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One of the things that I’ve learned is very important to me, is the concept of ‘chosen family’.  I’m very, very particular about the people I surround myself with, especially with all the death and upheaval over the past 3 years.  (Bear with me, I know I harp on this a lot, but it really is a major influence in my life, and something I’m trying really hard to work through.  8 deaths of people close to me in 3 years really DOES mean that I get to whine about it a little.) 

So yesterday, I got the call about Papa at about 8:30.  I was at work, and was already hurting quite a bit because I’d only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night before.  I was tearing tags, prepared to be miserable and hurty for the next 5 days that I was on.  When Mom called, she lost it on the phone.  I tried to be supportive and calm, while processing the news myself.  I was at work, after all, and customers were coming in throughout the entire conversation.

So when I hung up with Mom, I stared at the phone for a full 5 minutes, trying to make sure I was calm enough to call my manager to let him know what was going on.  I wasn’t.  Of course I wasn’t.  Even after 5 minutes, I ended up crying on the phone with him, at which point he came out of the office and took over for me while I went back to the bathroom and lost my shit.

I began trying to call Bear and J, and they were both dead asleep.  I texted, called, etc.  Eventually, J called me back and rushed to come take over the last 3 hours of my shift so I could go be with my family.  He was exhausted from the previous 2 days, and I felt terrible asking, but I needed to leave, and he was there in a snap. 

I’d been holding it (mostly) together all morning, until he showed up, and I lost it.  I cried all the way home, called Mom, cried some more, etc.

 

******************  This is where I dropped off.  I was just too tired to write anymore.  The gist is that when I finally went over to my grandmother’s house, she LAYED INTO ME.  She gave me a stream of shit about my tattoos, how much had I spent on them, when was I going to cut down the trees in my backyard, when was I going to pay my property taxes, when was I going to sell all of the things I kept when my other grandmother died, etc. 

Bear started getting pissed, my aunt and uncle looked embarassed for me, and I just wanted to leave.  Those people are toxic to me.  I know that she and my mother and my sister sit around and talk about me, and figure out all the little nuances of my life and how much of a failure I am.  They want to know why I don’t spend time with them?  That’s why.

I need distance from my family.  Family is supposed to love you unconditionally, but that’s not the kind of family I have.  Bear and J love me unconditionally.  My blood family mostly think that I’m worthless.  Fine.  Who needs ’em?

So I’m stuck with this urge to just move.  Out of state.  And maybe not even leave a forwarding number. 

 

*************************  The funeral was last night, and it was short and sweet.  It was actually more of a visitation, and Mom was happy to see that Grandma cried for the first time since Papa passed.  It was nice to see Mom’s cousins that traveled from Md and Fl, and one that lives here but that we never see.  After the visitation, we went back to Grandma’s and had drinks.  Everyone needed that. 

I think everyone behaved towards me because of the out-of-towners.  😀

2012 in review

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover ha...

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover had insulated the late snow from melting, so the snow was deeper here than outside the wood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 has been a rough year.  I have been broken and rebuilt in ways that have stunned me, and I feel like I need to record it all here.  Maybe that will make it all seem less surreal, less like a movie of someone else’s life.

January: Lost my job.  I trained throughout November and part of December to do tech support from home, but because of various factors, it was too stressful.  So stressful, in fact, that I got very, very sick.  So sick, in fact, that I couldn’t talk on the phone, and was therefore useless for this particular job.  Also, J moved here to be with us in a romantic triad.

February: Found my current job and realized how difficult it is on my body.  It’s very low pay, very low skill, and very physical.  It’s certainly not where I thought I would work at this age, but it’s getting me by.  Also, my aunt (stepmom’s sister) passed away.  I went to the funeral and saw my stepmom for the first time in over a year.  She’s pretty much made it clear that she’s not interested in me or my life, (she thinks I need saving *eyeroll*) so it was a bit strained.

April: We began to realize that things weren’t working out with J, despite the fact that we all care a lot for each other.

May: In early May, Bear’s aunt (whom he was very close to) passed away.  We went to Md for the funeral, and that killed us a bit financially.  Also, when we returned, we realized that it was time to part ways with J.  Bear and I had been trying so hard to make things work that we had lost touch with  each other.  Ironically, we reconnected during our time in Md.  We had ‘the talk’, and J admitted to just not feeling it with us.  It was devastating at the time, but ultimately the best thing for all of us.

Later May: Bear just started feeling poorly.  REALLY poorly.  He just wasn’t himself.  He was pale, tired, splotchy, and the final straw was when he couldn’t hold a conversation without falling asleep in the middle.  He had also been having some serious sleep apnea, which he’d never really shown any signs of before.  It was terrifying.  So I dragged him to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  A very serious, very severe heart attack.  It just didn’t look like what you would think of as a typical heart attack because he’s so young.

It was the single most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me.  I had to face the possibility that he wouldn’t be with me, and just typing that makes me want to cry.  He had 4 blockages in the 3 main arteries into the heart.  There were 3 100% blockages and 1 95%  blockage.  The reality is that he’s extremely lucky to be alive right now, 4 stents later.

June: We began to radically change how we eat.  It was great, and I wish we had the $$ to eat as healthy as we were.  It’s our goal to get back to that.  We also learned to deal with the reality of Bear’s diabetes, high blood pressure, and all the piles of pills he would need to take from now on.  Things were still difficult with J, as I was a bit confused about what exactly had gone wrong.  I doubted myself a lot.

August: Worries about losing our house.  It’s a long story, and I think that we’ve pretty much gotten through it, but it caused SO many sleepless nights.

September: Our Dragon*Con wedding and a visit from Bear’s dad and uncle.  This was all GOOD stress, but stress nonetheless.  Continued worries about losing the house and worries about Bear losing his job.

October: My ex had a massive stroke and passed away a few days before Samhain.  It was devastating.  We grew up together.  We were together for 7 years, engaged for 5, and though I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much, I always knew that we could pick up the conversation right where we left off at any time.  He knew me from a time before I knew myself, and being with him helped shape me into who I am now.  I still can’t believe he’s gone.  😦

Second week of October, I came down with what seemed to be a small cold, and which I’m still suffering from now.  Twice now it’s moved into pneumonia territory, and I think that’s where I’m at right now.  Lots of middle-of-the-night coughing fits resulting in sleeping upright on the couch.  Lots of worrying about how to deal with it with no insurance.  😦

November: We finally met someone that we wanted to date, but she turned out to be crazy.  It was very disappointing, but obviously we just weren’t suited for each other.  Also, a catastrophic fight with my mother which confirmed that she is someone that I can’t rely on and that any little thing I say to her will be used against me in the future.  She can’t support me as an adult, and doesn’t even understand what my life is about.  She always sees the very worst in me.  I can’t talk to my sister, either, because anything I say to her will immediately get back to my mother.  Continued sickness, continued house worries, still fighting fleas.

Also, my uncle passed.  He was the last person left on that side of the family.  Now there are assorted cousins I really don’t have anything to do with, but my Dad and his family are all gone now.

December: The month of working.  And being sick.  And money worries.  And failing at Xmas.  And exhaustion.  I’m beginning to believe that Xmas is designed to make me feel completely inadequate in every way.

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There were good things that happened this year as well.

  • I appreciate my husband even more than I ever thought possible.  He’s the solid, good thing in my life, and I get to keep him.  I also got to marry him.  I’m a lucky bitch.
  • We found out who our friends are.  Some people who we thought were our best friends, couldn’t be bothered to show up for Bear when he was in the hospital.  Some friends who we thought were good friends were actually GREAT friends.  They showed up for him.  We learned the difference.  One friend even got ordained so that she could marry us.
  • We found the most amazing friend in J.  He was there for us in a way that means he’ll be in our lives and hearts forever.  He could have cut and run at any time, but he helped me through the worst time in our lives.
  • We learned a lot about health and lost about 25 lbs each.  We had to start eating cheap, and put a LITTLE of that back on, but we’re ready to get healthier and feel better in 2013.
  • Bear began his voice acting career in earnest.  He did a radio play in December, and he’s been auditioning for audio books and radio plays online.
  • Things seem good with someone that we’ve recently started seeing.  She’s sexy, sweet, honest, and seems interested in building something lasting with us.  I’m feeling VERY positive about having a lot of fun and new experiences with her.
  • I found my spirituality again.  It’s kind of one of those things that ebbs and flows, but it’s flowed back in a big way.  In addition, Bear and I have started talking seriously about starting an incense business.

Sadly, I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted to do.  I honestly just couldn’t drum up the energy for it.  I was spending so much time in survival mode, that everything else took a back seat.  I also just settled into my job.  I need to find something else, but again, survival mode.

As much as I went through in 2012, I really do have higher hopes for 2013.  I have goals, and I’ll be writing them in a separate post.

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