Poem – Suffering

Inspiration: About Suffering by Elisa Gabbert | Poetry Foundation

In the lens of the whole world,

I have not suffered,

because I’ve never picked diamonds out of mines

as a five year old,

not waited on an island for two years

for entry into Australia,

not fled a war.

Yet, on the canvas of my one life,

I can map the valleys and dirt roads

where I broke down,

wheels shattered to nothing,

axles broken,

and I could have said: ‘I suffer.’

Even the Queen of Sheba,

reclining on a bed strewn with furs,

must have wished herself dead,

rather than listen to Solomon whine

about what she didn’t gift him.

Part and parcel of life

is suffering.

That’s what the poets tell me anyway.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – the start of maintenance sessions

Yesterday was my 30/30 treatment of TMS for depression and anxiety, coming right in the middle of a cold winter. Today is my first maintenance session. Absolutely the same routine. Go in, get measured up with tape measure to locate the right spots, get marked up with a white board marker. The magnetic coil is positioned over the right side of my head, and away it goes with its steady tick-tick-tick for 19 minutes. Then, the coil is wrestled over to the left side of my head, positioned, and off we go with the woodpecker session for 25 minutes. I put my ear buds in and listen to an audio book. I’m a little ways into ENTERING HEKATE’S GARDEN, which is all about the healing and poison paths of witchery. I sometimes use the session to do meditation and visualisation of the TMS working on my brain. Calming down the right side, gee-ing up the left side.

All up, I’m in a much better place than I was eight weeks ago. My mind makes attempts at the old suicidal ideation, but quickly bounces away again instead of staying there and me getting further down. The last time my mind had a go at thinking ‘what’s the point, we should die’, the rational part of my mind said: “Oh what a waste of money and time, after all these sessions.” If anything’s going to leave me stricken, it’s someone or something pointing out that I’m wasting money. Hey, if my mum and my first husband are going to leave marks on me, it may as well serve some purpose, right? So thanks for the money guilt, it’s finally come in useful, if it keeps me here, while I find my energy and enthusiasm for things again.

The anxiety….well, it’s less. Not gone, but less. I noticed it ramping up…last week? The week before that? A couple of days of jitters about…nothing in particular but spilling over into most aspects of life. So I’m doing some active meditation and visualisation to help manage that.

I’ve also noticed that my old habits of ‘move from one activity to another, like I’m back in high school, and I have six subjects to fit into a single day’ no longer serve me. With my autism diagnosis, and growing irritation if I’m asked to interrupt certain activities, I can now see that piecemealing my day isn’t how I like to operate. All those years of swapping between 3-4 jobs, plus study and whatnot, no day like any other, most likely lead to a great deal of this generalised anxiety.

As much as possible, I’m at least trying to have themed days. So if it’s a tarot day, it’s a tarot day. If I’m writing, I’m writing. I’m not also trying to shove art, or whatever else in there. And if it’s an art day, it’s an art day.

I do have plenty of time each week to find time for each of those things. Everything doesn’t need to be loud all at once. With today kicking off with a blog entry, it could be that today is writing day. With side streets to get my shoulders worked on by my myotherapist, and TMS in the afternoon.

So, into maintenance. 3 sessions this week, and then 2 next week. I managed to miss yesterday’s phone call from the TMS psych, so I’ll get another call next week to plan out how things go from here on in. I know I can go Thursday-Mondays without a zap, so a 4 day gap is a start. It’s all a matter of me continuing to do the work, and see if the treatments hold in my brain. Time for more brain magic.

Oh, and I wanted to ask you interested readers, are you keen to know what visualisations I use to help the TMS take? If so, drop me a comment, and I can easily do some posts about those.

Journey Inside tarot exploration

Modern Witch Tarot used.

Spread taken from the book ILLUSTRATED TAROT SPREADS by Pielmeier and Shirner. (Way to go leaving out the interpretation of the 9th card in this spread, guys.)

1. What is the best way for me to act now? 5 of Cups. Quit your pessimistic mindset of black/white worst case scenario. You want to master your mind? Choose to notice the 2 cups still standing. Choose to see what’s good in life.

2. What is the source of what is sacred and wholeness in my life? The World. The dancer. You smiled this morning when you did your own dance thing.

3. Needs and shortcomings: 5 of Pentacles. Poverty consciousness. Again, not seeing the light.

4. What is the source of anxiety in my life? 8 of Wands. The attitude of go, go, go, do everything. You know yourself. Look at you today: chores, yoga, dance, writing, tarot, and not sitting with any of them. Racing across the desert of your life, not seeing the sprouting wands overhead. Not seeing life.

5. What is the source of creativity in my life? Strength. Willpower. Where I put my attention is where things flourish. Flowers, lion, grass, mountains, sky – the infinite of nature.

6. What is the source of strength in my life? The Empress. Creativity in all forms, bringing forth the new. I would say motherhood, bc I’ve certainly had to be creative with that role, but recent revelations have indicated that, according to one offspring, I’ve failed in that department.

7. What is the source of inspiration in my life? 6 of Pentacles. I’m flummoxed over this one. Generosity? Kindness? Attitudes to money? The juggling act that is my life? Leadership, and being an inspiration to others? Claiming the wise woman leadership role?

8. Change and possibilities: 2 of Cups. A relationship/partnership card. Everything okay with us, PizzaBoy?

9. Well hey, no suggestions for this card position, but I decided to name it Where To From Here? 4 of Pentacles. Sit on your arse, be conservative with your energy, and just be for a bit. You know the directions you’re trying out. Be with them. There is no ‘there’ here. There’s just here.

Oh, I see…

For several weeks, I’ve been obsessed with DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD from the musical SIX. It’s Anne Boleyn’s feature song from the musical, and ever since I heard it, I’ve played it over and over and OVER. I’d wake up in the morning and it would be the first thing that came to mind. Intruding into all moments of the day and night. I’ve never had an ear worm this bad before. Bloody weeks of it. I started wondering if I was kicking off a new phase of mental disorder – obsession. Dear gods no. I’d never get ANYTHING done in my life.

Anyway, early last week, I managed to replace DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD with SHILO by Neil Diamond, for a day or so, and now I’m just suffering the normal amount of ear wormishness.

Sometimes my mind does this – gets on a jag about something. When I was a kid, I spent an entire six week Xmas holidays reading all the Sherlock Holmes books, plus any book about Holmes that Moorabbin library held. Why? I still don’t know. But I can confidently say that I’m familiar with a lot of the early Sherlockiana. And then, one day, I was done with it.

A short while later, I read interviews with a number of famous sf writers, and Robert Silverberg reported something similar. His mind would demand to be fed a certain book or topic, and then just as quickly, be done with it. Sometimes the information would show up in his writing, but often not. He reported that one night he was compelled to start reading Gibbons’ RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The next day, the compulsion was done. “What did my mind want with it? I still don’t know.”

This comforted me. I assumed it was a writer quirk, and never thought much more about it. Subjects have turned on and off for me over the years, but when the passion is done, it’s done. And sometimes I have to listen to a song until I’ve wrung it dry.

These past few weeks, then, have been DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD. And now I think I see why. I needed to learn the song well enough to start idly creating a choreography. Which means I need to not only interpret the words, but the music as well, to be able to hit the beats. Even if, once I start belly dancing, all I ever remember are hip lifts, hip drops, snake arms, and figure eights. (I’ve seen dancers begin professional careers with less than that under their coin belts.) After I did some yoga this morning, it was time to dance. And I kicked off dancing to DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD.

And there I am, interpreting the story of the song in gesture, dance, and facial expression, all for the edification of the dog.

It appears I’m creating this for…something. Me, first of all, but I do seem to be performing to an invisible audience, so maybe a one-off performance is in my future. That would be nice to work towards, but at this stage, I’m just dancing, feeling my way into the music. “Mate, what was I meant to do?”

Poem: Making Friends

She claimed me that first day in the school yard:

me standing there on skinny legs,

dazzled by Australian sunshine and heat,

the bee buzz of more children

than I’d reckoned in the world.

She took my hand.

I told her my name,

she said hers.

She tucked my arm under hers,

marched me away into a life

I wasn’t sure I wanted.

“We’re best friends now,” she said.

“Okay,” I said.

She was bigger than me.

I went along with whatever she said,

because what if she sat on me?

She was a Big Girl.

I was a small one.

I would have followed anyone

who showed me how to be real.

Belly dance – second Datura online class

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not a dedicated belly dancer. Once upon a time, I was. I went to classes, I taught beginners, I accepted dance gigs for parties, and generally lived the belly dance – elite athlete life. All whilst single parenting, studying, working 2 other jobs, and attempting to keep afloat a drowning-not-waving relationship. Yeah, fun times. Thing is, at the time, I thought it was fun. I wanted to load more and more onto myself to prove I deserved to be alive.

A lot of years and therapy and self-reflection, and retirement from belly dance later, and I sometimes miss dance. Thirteen years later, thirteen kilos later, and post-menopause, I certainly long for enough collagen, energy, and true grit to reclaim dance.

I sign up for dance classes. I go a few times, and then it’s all too hard to keep enthusiasm up in the evenings, when most classes are held. So, I keep re-activating my datura-online membership and say: “This time for sure, I’ll do a class a week.”

Since the last time I joined and now, datura have added ‘dance daily’, a once-a-day half hour practice. Well, I gotta say, at this stage I can’t even do a whole half an hour. So I do 15 minutes, and then have a bop around my front room. I suspect that today, between my own warm up, 15 minutes of an Ashley Lopez drill session, a bop, and then a stretch, I managed about 35 minutes all up. Which is still better than me slothing on the couch all day, then sleeping poorly.

I look at the teachers on datura, and look at myself, and hang my head. Well, let’s face it, these are all teachers younger than me, dedicated to their craft, and at the top of their respective games, be it datura style, FCBD style, cabaret, fusion, Turkish, what have you. For all I know, someone is evolving Antarctic style as I write. I don’t see why not. Hazel Edwards has done several writer in residencies, and once took belly dance classes. I’ve visited Antarctica on a small ship. I can belly dance. If astronauts can quilt in space, I can evolve ABD format. First step: sew tiny toy penguins onto a hip scarf. There’s going to be a lot of shimmies/shivering, and absolutely no scanty clothing. Polar boots a must.

(Gods, if Rachel Brice sees this, she’s gonna bloody dare me to do it.)

Anyway, I flitted around my loungeroom for half an hour, astonished passersby, and have moved my body enough to call it a dance session. This afternoon, I’ll take a walk.

I know it’s a case of willpower. If I want this, I’ll make time for it. With witchcraft being a matter of willpower, writing being willpower, art being willpower, and everything else willpower to keep myself functional in the world, sometimes I run short. Or power down. I am guilty of ‘isn’t there a way to be productive while I’m resting?’

Maybe, if PizzaBoy and I happen upon a bookstore this afternoon, there will be music playing, and I can have a quiet little bop. I have no shame. I can dance in stores, shopping centres, malls, and libraries, and I do.

The Oodie

I have succumbed to advertising, and a cold Melbourne winter, and have purchased an Oodie. For those who don’t know, the Oodie is a massively oversized windcheater or sweater, with two layers. I have a pale grey one with quokkas on it. The ad showed the colours to be greenish, but the colour palette is grey, a sort of pale browny-yellow, and blue. Some of the quokkas are wearing blue onesies.

It arrived this morning and I’ve had it on and off several times. I get cold, put it on, get warm, then get hot, then come close to having a hot flush, and strip the oodie off again. Rinse and repeat.

Yes, it’s very warm, it’s very comfy, and beautifully soft. The inner lining is a fluffy fleece, and time will tell how it stands up to washing. Will it mat, like so of these sorts of fibres do?

I’m sitting in the lounge room, looking out over my street, and am sitting cross-legged on the couch. All of me is tucked up into the oodie. If it didn’t have a one-head neck opening, I’d suggest PizzaBoy and TwentiesPerson try getting into it with me, just to see if we all fit. I’m sure there’s enough room for all of us. The height differences might mean I end up getting hung by my own oodie neck opening, though. PB is 6’2″, TP is 6′, and I’m 5’2″.

I’m tempted to take the oodie to yoga. The perfect thing to wrap up in before class, then fling it off to reveal a tshirt underneath. But, it’s Rather Large, and would take up more of the yoga studio than would be good, seeing as we all have our little pods to stay within. If I’m still home yoga-ing online, it’ll work quite well.

Why write about my oodie? Why not? Not every post has to be Important Mental Health Updates, poetry, or some political observation. I have no advice on keeping slim – so would all the people who follow me for health tips, in the hope that I’ll follow them back (you have no idea how many people started following me after my blog entry FOLLOW ME FOR MORE HEALTH TIPS – NOT) please check yourselves.

Nor is this an ad for Oodies. I have one. I don’t need another one. I am capable of washing this one, drying it, and wearing it again. I am a big girl who even sews buttons back on jackets, and uses handkerchiefs instead of tissues.

This is me saying that on a wet, cold Saturday morning, I am snug in my Oodie, watching Melbourne open up again after lockdown 4. Our bubble is extended to a 25km radius. If I was inclined I could drive to Qi gifts and bookshop, and then walk down Glenhuntly Rd to The Avenue bookshop. I’m not inclined. It will be enough to take a walk this afternoon and maybe get my eyebrows threaded, and a pedicure. That’s just how fancy I am. (I can only imagine how many beauty bloggers will now follow me in the hope that we have loads in common. Trust me, we don’t.)

Who knows, I may even finish the mixed media art piece I started the other day. The paint is on the page, and flicks of black paint over that. Now it’s sitting there, dry, awaiting whatever I wish to do with it.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my warmth. Ciao, bellas and bellos.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – before treatment 29

I’m sad to say that the anxiety has returned. Not as bad as it was, and if I exercise, move, eat well, and tick a couple of things off my list, then I’m in a better space than if I did what I did yesterday – lie around all day, eat chocolate, and crazy-re-read HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT(which is not one I’ll likely re-read again, as it’s less palatable for me than the movie, and that’s saying something). I didn’t sleep well, and the old bothers bothered me.

The depression…isn’t. I feel sad, but it’s not like sliding down a slope any more. It’s nearly mid-winter, days are short, nights long and cold, not enough sunlight, but I’m hanging in there, and doing stuff to keep myself interested, alive, awake.

Today is treatment 29 out of 30 acute treatments. I finish my acute treatments next Tuesday, and yesterday, the Tall Clinician and I had a chat about where to next? I want to continue with maintenance, and see how long I can stretch treatments out and still feel okay. It’s a worry that the anxiety is back, and it’s no longer quiet in my head. No, no, no!

I did do some visualisation yesterday whilst in the chair. I’d also forgotten to do my basic meditation practices from the Feri tradition of witchcraft, so I combined it all in the chair. I guess I do have a strong mind, because even with the magnetic coil doing its bang bang bang thing on my head, I could conjure up the abiding images that have emerged from this treatment.

The right side of my brain is the steady tick-tick-tick Chinese water torture side. Depression and anxiety are treated here. I have come to visualise the magnetic pulse as thick, soft water flowing over mussels that are clumped onto a rock surface. All are ‘standing up’, sharp, slightly open. That’s how I see my anxiety, always standing at attention. I saw the water flow in and over the mussels, allowing them to lie down, be nourished, rest.

The left side of my body is the woodpecker bambambambambambambam pause bambambambambambam side. Depression is treated here. I see my depression either as a black hole that needs light shining into all corners of it, or as wilted dandelions that need sunlight and rain.

Either way, a lot of water (element of water is associated with emotion, feelings, intuition) is involved. I came out of the meditation feeling much better.

Didn’t sleep well last night, but that’s what I get for not exercising or even walking yesterday, and not doing much of anything else.

I’m about to have lunch, then go for a walk. I’ve already done the walk up exercises from Swift Fitness, my active movement studio. I know them off by heart.

I am fretting about things writerly, which you can see if you go to my previous post WHAT IF I AM CICADA? However, I can’t let those thoughts become obsessional, the way my playing and replaying of SORRY NOT SORRY from the musical SIX. Every darned day for weeks. Well, at least I now know the song. What did I want with it? I don’t know. I’m a bit scared to listen to it again, in case the obsessional thing kicks off again.

Well, I guess I’ll update again after treatment 30, and see where I’m at then.

Poem – Could It Be I’m a Cicada?

Could it be that I’m a cicada,

that I’m three quarters through the long sleep,

the shedding, the drinking from tree roots?

I am seasonal.

Quiet in the winter,

and I thought I bloomed in summer,

but maybe each year has been growth,

an old shell too small,

as I expand with heat, light,

and the scent of blue eucalyptus haze.

Thirteen years on this one pill

that keeps me from cutting my wrists.

I don’t feel anything,

not for a long time,

until an emotion gets through

medication bunting.

The cicada has a seventeen year cycle.

They are ready to emerge this year,

in their millions.

A giant orgy of mating,

singing, and egg laying,

so their children can gestate another seventeen years.

Will they drink, take drugs,

visit a vomitorium,

go to Burning Man?

In four years, will I be new?

Will I finally be fully grown

out of the pill-need?

Will I emerge, blinking,

into sun-strong light,

ready to engage the world

in a orgy of novels, paintings,

book tours?

Will I finally be ready

to claim the season of my dreams,

or will someone dig into the ground

in which I nest,

and find nothing but a husk?

Will I have died whilst waiting?

*********

From the TypeWriter Tarot newsletter: They’ve been growing underground for 17 years, drinking from tree roots, shedding their skins five times before they climb from their caves to find mates and initiate a new cycle.

Poem: Witch?

Am I woo enough to be a real witch?

Crystals are pretty rocks,

and trees provide shade.

Neither whisper to me,

except the susseration of leaves

on a breezy day.

I’m too woo to go to church.

I vibrate to a Moon calendar,

to a dual deity,

God and Goddess

and those between and on either side

of those labels.

Sometimes I see Aboriginal faces

in tree branches.

I once saw a rock spirit by a river bank.

Am I woo enough to be a witch?

Am I like a nominal Christian,

turning up for Sabbats, hand fastings,

and Viking funerals,

and otherwise pottering through my life.

Am I witch because I say I am?

Even my dreams feature the elements,

and their balance in nature.

There’s no hint in my ancestry

that anyone was herbalist,

a bone thrower,

burnt at the stake,

or moved to the edge of town and consulted

only at full moon.

I am witch because I am.

I drop into animal minds,

and hear the earth breathe.

Practice doesn’t make perfect.

It makes practice.

I carry my magic in my body and mind,

humming my blood,

and singing me up to the stars.