Saturday, November 29, 2014

Walk. Dance. Meditate. Do tai chi. Listen to music.

 Last night I went for a sleep study.  Same as last time, I slept poorly for the first half of the night, and ended up with about four hours total sleep.  Same as last time, I tried to sleep more when I got home, but was unable to do so.

So I'm sleep deprived today.  I'm sleep deprived most days.  Is that why I usually feel irritable and overwhelmed?

Doctors, lawyers, mechanics, landlords, etc.  I don't want to have to keep dealing with them.  I don't like it that things don't work so then you have to ask someone to fix it.  I don't like it that when you ask them to fix it, they can't just fix it.  You have to keep going round and round with them.

Wouldn't be nice if someone just gave me what I asked for, without any hassles?

I looked at some things I wrote when I was a kid.  It brought back to me unhappinesses I had forgotten.  I'm close to my mother now, but reading about the past, I was angry with her for my childhood unhappiness.  I suppose many people feel that way, blaming their parents for all the unhappinesses of  childhood, expecting parents to have a superhuman ability.  Maybe it's not fair, but on the other hand, I don't want to discount my feeling.  Because in a way, that's the thing that bothers me, that sense of repressing my feelings for the good of my mother.

There's a song "Janie" by Alien Folklife.  It's a very sad song.  Luckily, my situation was not as bad as Janie's.  But the song resonates with me.  I have a sense of putting myself on hold in order to please others.  Maybe it was parents and teachers when I was a kids.  Maybe it went on to be others as I grew up.  Maybe it's not because of anything about how my mother treated me.  Maybe it's just who I am.

This morning and early afternoon, I escaped to fiction.  That's what I do with most of my free time.  Escape. 

In late afternoon, I ventured forth to reality.  I did my laundry.  While my clothes were in the washing machine at the laundromat, I walked around the  neighborhood.  I walked for half an hour.  It was good.  It reminded me of who I am a bit

"Walk,  Dance.  Meditate.  Do tai chi.  Listen to what they say."

That was the inspiration that came to my mind as I walked.  I have a long to do list.  Things that are chores to do, but which make my life what I want it to be.  For example, laundry.  A chore to do, but I do prefer to wear clean clothes rather than dirty clothes.  The insight from my walk reminded me don't just do that stuff, also do the stuff that nourishes my soul.

"Listen to what they say," means listen to the insights that these activities bring to me.

What did not come to me during the walk, but which I consider an addendum, is listen to music.  When I'm far gone into depression, that's what can bring me back to stability.

I had a nice walk.  I felt more like myself.  But I'm still sleep deprived.  I still feel like I just want to howl.  I still feel like escaping my world.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free day

Free day. What would I do with my time if I could do anything? Rarely do I do things truly for pleasure.  I have endless to do lists.  Things I want to do in order to make my life what I want it to be.  It's my choice, it's what I want, but it's not pleasure.  And when I'm not doing things on my to do list, I'm escaping.  Too tired to be productive, I read, play a card game on the computer, catch up on Facebook. 

What would truly bring me joy? I like going for walks and dancing, but my body says, "I'm too tired."

I slept last night.  I went to bed at 8:40pm  As usual, I woke up many times in the night but soon went back to sleep.  I woke up for the day just before 8am, and got out of bed just before 9am. 

No, I did not get up feeling energized.  Still tired as ever.

I'm thinking though about how I'm usually sleep deprived, and usually irritable.  I'm thinking of all the unkind things people do and say, and thinking that comes from people being sleep deprived, or in pain, or unloved. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Dancers of Arun

Some books I find by wandering through the library, pulling them off the shelf.  Such was the case with The Dancers of Arun by Elizabeth A. Lynn. 

It meets some of my basic criteria:
  • I like fantasy novels because they are about a pre-industrial world.  I like them when they are mostly fantasy novels for that reason.  I don't like them to be thick with dragons, magic, princesses, etc.  
  • I like them when it feels like I am inside the main character's head, rather than when it is told from the outside.  I like it when it's about characters, feelings, and relationships.
Some things about it which I think for me were neutral, not really pros or cons:
  • It has non-mainstream sexual mores.  It would be off-putting to many.  On the other hand those who like such things would see this as a plus.  For me, it wasn't really a plus or a minus.  To me, I entered into the world of the novel and took things in terms of what they meant to the characters.
  • Some describe Lynn's writing style as "choppy" or "stilted."  Some saw this as a positive, others as a negative.  To me, for the most part, the book was successful in getting me too immersed in the story to notice the language, although it times it did seem a little off.
A negative for me:
  •  Many characters didn't really have distinct personalities.  It was just a bunch of names to keep straight.  When a book really gives you a sense of who a person is, then you don't have to think, "Which one is that one again?"  Or, even when I knew which one it was, I just knew one fact about them, I didn't have a feel for who they were as a person.  
A positive:
  • Portrayal of disability.  It's presented as something that's not like a big thing, not like this person is a disabled person.  Instead, it's just part of who a person is.  It has a constant impact on who they are, but it is just one part of who they are, it is not their identity.  


Thanksgiving. Four days off work.  Same plan as usual: stay home, rest, catch up on chores.  In past years, I had hopes that by the end of my time off, I would have more things done, and would feel more rested, but now I know that never happens.

I have been tired all autumn.  No rest does any good. 

Right now, I so don't want to do anything.  So maybe I can take my first evening of Thanksgiving break to relax, to read fiction. and then get things done on the other days, after I've had a chance to recover from work.

Except I know that it never comes.  Feeling rested never comes.  Getting stuff done never comes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fantasy worlds

Often I get a sense of well-being from having dreams that fulfill me emotionally.  Tonight I thought I'd take a journey into fantasy worlds on purpose, and see what I could find or build.  I considered three different worlds.

Things that all my fantasies have in common: I don't have to go to my current job, or work full-time in an office, and I don't have to do any cooking or other domestic chore. 

1) Last week I was sick and missed two and a half days of work.  It was nice because being sick didn't hurt, I just rested.  I spent mornings sleeping.  In the afternoon, I read or watched DVDs.  Then I went to  bed early.  I am tired tonight.  I am tired most of the time.  So one fantasy is to indulge that fatigue.  The weather is cold these days, so that fantasy also involves warmth.  In this fantasy, I am in a comfortable chair by a fireplace, or I am in bed, enveloped in blankets, sitting up, leaning against a pillow.  Whether in the chair by the fireplace or in the bed, I am dozing or reading fiction.  If the time comes when I want to, I could go for a walk.  In this fantasy, it is winter and there is snow on the ground.  Sometimes I may also listen to music, write, and drink herb tea or hot chocolate.

2) The second fantasy was less interesting, because it was too close to a plan for reality.  It's farfetched enough that I don't think it will happen, and yet realistic enough not to be a satisfying fantasy.  In this world, I move to the small city that I've dreamed of living in for the past 20 years.  I'm writing a book telling the stories of my ancestors and of my life -- both a family history book and an autobiography, because in the future, I'll be history too.  I'm compiling the photos and notes I have already.  I'm also traveling some for my research, to interview people, review historical documents, and to visit and photograph places where my ancestors lived.  I have an editor who is helpful, to give me some structure and help me stay on track.  I think I also have some sort of part-time job, maybe at a library, because writing a book is solitary and I also want to have the experience of contributing to a team.

3) To develop my third fantasy, I thought about what fictional characters I identify with.  I identify with characters who have strength and courage.  I identify with warriors.  I identify with characters whose strength is physical.  I identify with characters with a will of steel.

In the early Harry Potter books, I don't really identify with any of the characters.  In the later books, I come to like Luna and Ginny, although I don't strongly identify with them.  Luna is a role model for me because of the way she walks through life just being herself, rather than trying to fit what others expect.  I don't identify with Hermione at all.  It may seem strange because many people have perceived me to be like Hermione.  Maybe identifying with fictional characters has to do with having a place to give expression to the sides of yourself that don't have room to soar in real life.

I don't much identify with the characters in Firefly either.  Inara, River, and Kaylee are too girly for me, while Zoe is too matter-of-fact.  However, I do like the way Inara has a will of steel.  I like the way she carries herself, demanding respect.

I don't like Mercedes Lackey's characters Tarma and Kethry, because the books don't get inside their heads.  It's like they did this and then they did this, just a list of actions, with not much feeling behind it.  Kerowyn was a little better, especially in the beginning, but later in the book, she seemed emptier.

I like Robin McKinley's Aerin and Harry, because they are warrior types.

In my fantasy world, I imagine that I live in a monastery type setting.  That is, I live in a room that is simple, just a bed and a desk, with thick stone or cinder block walls.  I had a dorm room like this, and I stayed in a room like this when I visited Venezuela.  I'm part of a rigorous training program.  We are always working on training ourselves physically, spiritually, and mentally.  It seems to be a group setting, but I'm not really aware of any particular individuals.  I'm focused on my own training.  The physical training includes tai chi.  The spiritual training includes meditation.  The mental training includes studying history and traditions.  There is also some outdoor training, including nature study and skate skiing.

When I finish my training, I go and serve a village, like a druid.  I know all the history of my people, so when someone has a problem, I tell them about what has and hasn't worked in the past.  I preside at rites of passage like birth, coming of age, marriage and death.  I know what stories and music to share to inspire people.

The people of the village and the creatures of the wood are separate.  I am the only one who can connect with both.  My lover is the Green Man, a creature of the wood.  I dance with the creatures of the wood.  With the creatures of the wood, I am passion.  With the people of the village, I am knowledge, wisdom, and strength.

When I put it that way, I don't want to bother with the village part of the fantasy. I'd rather dance with the creatures of the wood than be a source of knowledge and wisdom. 

I think I might play the harp or something too, in my fantasy world.

Also goats.  I'm a goat herder.

The problem is, I identify with warrior types because of their strength and physicality, but I'm not interested in hurting people, and hurting people is usually the purpose of warriors.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Last night I was reading By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey.  In it, Kerowyn has three years of hard training.

This morning on the radio they had an interview with Quinn Sullivan.  Now 15, he has been playing blues guitar on national television since age six. 

They have what I am missing: they work hard, and excel at something.  At least in school, I had things that I could work at and accomplish. 

When I was pursuing the AODA curriculum, I liked having something I was working toward. But then I could not in good conscience stick with them, due to their censorship practices.

Every now and then, in tai chi or Morris dance, I feel like I'm learning something.  I like it.  But it's not enough.

Most of the time, I am overwhelmed with things that have to be done.  They don't require excellence.  They just require time.  They are boring, and there are too many of them, so I can never get things done thoroughly and well. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Article on animal sacrifice

David Salisbury has a  nice article on animal sacrifice at!Sacrifice/c22a6.  It's not a priority topic for  me since I don't know anyone who practices animal sacrifice, but it makes its points well. 

Some of these points can be applied to other issues as well, including the issue of Morris dancers wearing black face paint.  Just because people did it in the past doesn't make it cool.

It also applies to arguments about any kind of animal cruelty -- yes, unless you are completely vegan, you are still hurting animals, but if you save the life of one animal, that's something.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Make an oracle

Some modern druids use the ogham tree associations for divination.  I've also seen an article about making your own ogham tree alphabet based on the trees where you live.  I'm not really interested in divination in terms of telling the future or anything like that.  But I do see something in it.  What I see is that you could have a deck of cards that has pictures that you find beautiful, and meanings that you find inspiring, and you could draw a card and meditate on it, and it would be a way to tap into whatever strengths that card reminds you of.

I was thinking that in conjunction with the way names keep coming into my head.  The idea is usually that these are names I could call myself, to tap into different aspects of myself.  I realized that many of the names refer to trees and shrubs.  I realized that it would be possible to make something like a deck of cards, with each card having a beautiful picture and associated meanings. 

I'm not sure it really makes sense to call it an oracle or divination.  It would be very much like that, except that I see it as an aid to tapping into parts of myself, rather than a way of seeing into the future. 

So, the cards in my deck could include:

Autumn Oak
Apple Blossom
Apple Fruit
Red Maple
Sugar Maple
Norway Maple Flower
Norway Maple Leaves
Maple Samara
Granite Seacost
Sycamore Grace

There would not be a fixed number.  I would create new ones as inspired.

This strikes me as the kind of project I think of but never do. 

Well, I could see writing blurbs for some of these.  But making cards is the kind of thing I don't do.  I don't do crafts stuff.  I write. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Samhain, Halloween, Thanksgiving

I like the Halloween customs of costumes, going around the neighborhood, and pumpkins.  I don't like the candy though.  It's not healthy.  And if it's not fair trade, you are contributing to some bad practices. 

I like the Samhain tradition of remembering the dead.  I'm not sure it fits with the Halloween traditions though.

I was reading tonight about Native Americans, that they grew beans, corn, squash, and strawberries.  Strawberries are for a different season, but how about we celebrate Thanksgiving by eating beans, corn, and squash, thinking about the history of the country, and thinking about things we are grateful for. 

Since reading Druidry and the Ancestors, I've been thinking in terms of druidry being about being rooted in our ancestors, where ancestors is all who have gone before. Samhain can be about remembering our personal ancestors, and people we knew personally who have passed away, while Thanksgiving can be about remembering the people who have lived on this land. 


Meditation.  Evening.  After dark.  I turn the lights off.  I set a candle on the floor.  I sit on a cushion gazing at the candle.  The candle is a miniature sun.  The candle is my soul.  Meditation shows me my soul's light.  

The rest of the time, I don't see my soul. I react to the world around me, just trying to get through, trying to do the things I have to do.  Shouldering my burdens. 

In meditation, I remember who I am.  I realize I've been trying to be someone I'm not.  In meditation, I think of friends and family and wish them well. 

I've read about meditation.  Sometimes they talk about visiting an inner grove.  In your imagination, you develop a landscape, and you develop the inhabitants of that landscape.

I have not though up much detail for my inner grove.  What I do see is a cultivated landscape, with grass and shrubs.  There's a sense that the inhabitants are people who love me, but not much detail about who they are.

I've had that experience in dreams.  I may not remember the specifics of the dreams, but when I wake up, I know that I was valued and loved in my dreams, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Meditation too gives me a sense of satisfaction.  It's not necessarily about a sense of being valued and loved by others.  The sense of being loved happens more often in dreams than in meditation.  Meditation is not about being loved by others.  It is about being present in myself.   In meditation, I find the peace.  I find the strength. I find my soul. 

I meditate before bedtime.  So after meditation, I get up and go to bed.  And I find myself feeling content as I go to bed. 


My dream last night, or actually this morning as I was waking up:

I was at a staff meeting.  Everyone was saying I was doing a shabby job.  They didn't say specifically what they wanted me to do differently.  There was one thing they previously told me to do differently, and I had already changed over to doing it how they wanted.  I said, "I don't understand why everyone is ganging up on me, and Pamela isn't even here."  [Because usually Pamela is the one who puts other people down.]  Then I realized that Pamela was there, that I just had not been able to see her from where I was. I was horrified to have said that with her present.  Then someone brought in the baby of one staff person, and then a second staff person also had a baby in her arms.  The second staff person was singing to her baby.  I could hear the singing, and it made it hard for me to hear what the boss was saying.

Then the boss announced that we were going to start our fundraising for prostate cancer.  Except he mixed it up and said, "prostitute cancer."  Then he corrected himself.  Then it was loud, we were supposed to get energized for the fundraising campaign, so people were chanting and cheering. 

That was the end of the meeting, and I was happy that Tom was visiting and I was going out with him that evening.

As I woke up, I was puzzled.  Why were we raising money for prostate cancer?  My late boss did have it, but what he died of was multiple myeloma. 

Health/energy meter

I wish there was some easy objective measure of health and energy. 

If someone took a sick day for work, they could show by this means that they were truly sick, and not get accused of skipping out on their responsibilities.

And if someone chooses not to do a non-work activity, they could see that they don't have much energy.  Then they wouldn't have to berate themselves for their lack of willpower. 

And when deciding how to spend our time, we could be like, "Well I've got 10 energy units now.  Tomorrow I have to go grocery shopping, and that will require 5 energy units.  If I go out tonight, that will use up 7, but if I stay in tonight, I'll build up 5 more energy units.  So I'll stay home and rest tonight, then I'll go grocery shopping tomorrow, and then after that, I'll still have 10 left to have fun. 

Conclusions from my youth

Conclusions I came to when I was a kid or teenager:
  1. New England is home.
  2. Maine is home.
  3. Being near the ocean is home. 
  4. Ocean shores should be rock, not sand.
  5. You never know when you might have to climb through a barbed wire fence, so dress accordingly. 
  6. Live close to the earth.  Wear comfortable, rugged clothes like jeans, sneakers, hiking boots.  Don't try to conform to fancy people, rich people, city people.  That's not who you are. 
  7. Dance.
  8. Write. 
  9. Do outdoor things like hiking and cross country skiing.