Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.

21st Century Witchcraft: Books

Originally I had intended to include “personal space” in this section with books, but I know myself and I’m going to babble enough to make that an upcoming entry.

For part one of my “Witchcraft in the 21rst Century” series: 21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

For part two: 21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the Everyday

Welcome to my bookshelf.

During two decades of book-hunting, I have amassed (and given away) a lot of books. I also have a fairly extensive collection of tarot cards but that is another topic for another day.

I gave a large amount of books by Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolf. Before the Internet was readily available and put the universe at our fingertips I used to comb used bookstores and new age shops looking for spiritual ideas.

Then I finally ended up on Llewelyn Publishing’s mailing list.

My daughter now has a lot of the Classics, like Buckland’s Book of Witchcraft.

But I kept some in my vintage Crayola stock box that stands beside my bed.

Everything in this photo is precious to me, except the Celtic Myth book. That one was a disappointment though a good reference. I have some characters who worship ancient Celtic gods.

  • The white book on the bottom is the manual to my 2005 Altima. I loved that car. Having the manual close brings back good memories, nostalgia and longing.
  • Solitary Witch by Silver Ravenwolf is the only one of her books I kept for myself.
  • Wicca: A Year and a Day is a fantastic way to study Wicca and a lot of the meditative daily exercises help find your unique connection to your spirituality. That said, I have never finished the whole book.
  • The faded book lying horizontally on top of those books is my personal book of shadows. Yes, I have one.
  • The two books on top of those are pocket guides to graphology and palmistry. I never found anything else as concise and easy to follow.
  • On top of those are two antique prayer books, both more than 100 years old. One is Catholic. I love Catholic rituals.
  • The Oxford Annotated Bible. This was the Bible from my college Bible classes. We wrote in it. It has extensive footnotes and historical context. I take it with me to church services and still take notes in it. With dates. So over time, I can see my travels through the Bible.
  • The United Methodist Hymnal. My childhood church closed. And one of my peers from those days got me one of the hymnals at the last service.
  • The Book of Centering. An influential pastor once told me about the practice of centering. We were discussing prayer, and this is a type of meditative prayer that also focuses on relaxing the body and pulling prayer into yourself.
  • The Way of Chuang Tzu. This book of Taoist poetry radically altered my perspective of my place in the universe.
  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. My favorite book. I even have an image from it tattooed above my breast. This book, by an amazing man, is all the life lessons you need. It looks like a children’s book, but it’s not. It’s happy and tragic.
  • Walden. This book is meaningful to me from a spiritual and a family perspective. This copy belonged to my great-grandmother’s little brother.
  • Dirty Pretty Things. Sexy, beautiful poetry. Because our sexuality is key to our power.
  • Bloodletting by my friend William Prystauk. Kinky, dark, violent, but the most sincere love story. (For my review of Bill’s book: Review of Bloodletting)
  • My first “novels” that I ever wrote
  • Go the Fuck to Sleep. The last book my husband bought me.

21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

I proposed a topic of discussion with my daughter the other day, the manifestation of witchcraft in contemporary culture.

“Witchcraft” is all around us.

Now I’m not old enough to say anything about the 1960s, but it seems that’s when American spirituality tried to break from religion in the form of rote brainwashing.

Now, don’t read me wrong.

I merely mean that traditionally, religion begins in the family and people typically follow the same spiritual tenets their parents did.

That’s how the system works and how religion and patriarchy go hand-in-hand. But that’s not my point for today nor a conversation I’m willing to have with the internet-at-large. At least not today or anytime soon.

My mother drove me to a local United Methodist Church on Sundays. Even though religion was not a core of my home life, that experience of attending a church shaped my mind.

And for a long time I was strongly Christian.

Attending a liberal arts college (Moravian College), exposed me to other religions for the first time. Maybe I was ignorant and/or blind, but my small town, rural upbringing did not expose me to anything beyond Christian. This was pre-9/11 so concepts like Jewish and Muslim were foreign to me.

And then I had to take my three religion courses for my requirements. I took Old Testament, Religions of China and Japan and maybe something else I can’t recall right now.

Studying the Old Testament’s origins shook my faith in new ways. Yet, my experiences reassured me that the universe has an order and inherent creative power.

Around this time, one of my mother’s friends gave me a Ryder-Waite tarot deck and I really fell in love with Taoism.

So now, I’m a college student dabbling in other religions convinced I’m going to hell for divination.

Present day me might be going to hell for a lot of reasons. Tarot is merely one. But I don’t believe in hell. I can’t believe a god that loves us enough to sacrifice for us would condemn us to hell. I can’t believe a God that promotes forgiveness would condemn us.

I’m no longer “Christian.” My lack of faith in Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I just believe that Christianity is a system of bribery and reward. Institutionalized Christianity focuses too much on a Biblically-mandated moral code that prescribes what we need to do to receive eternal life in Heaven.

I want to do what’s right because I’m a good person, not because of repercussion or reward.

That’s not to say I feel Christians, church or religion is bad.

A genuine faith community is a powerful source of support and good, for individuals, families and neighborhoods.

I have met and interacted with deeply beautiful Christians who improve the lives of others through their generosity and faith. I have worshipped with many faith groups that move me to tears.

I believe in my own spiritual concepts and my own higher power. Those are personal to me and they impact how I live my life.

In my next post:

21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the everyday