Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

慕哲咖啡 / Cafe Philo – a review of sorts

When I walked into Cafe Philo, I hadn’t really had a proper meal all day, it was raining, I was ovulating, I’d just left an event where Caroline Gluck discussed various depressing and frustrating things and I was going to be waiting to attend another event by the same from 7pm to 9pm.

To clarify, yes, I was going to attend both of her book signing/talks on the same day because 1. practicum hours and 2. I did really want to see how things would change since she would have two different interpreters for each event.

So there’s the backstory.

I ordered a smoked chicken apple panini, smoked chicken Caesar salad, milk tea, and waffles with ice cream.

Yes, I know. Anyways.

The smoked chicken salad was good. It had canned corn, lettuce, two slices of hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, and cucumber. If you’re a fellow American and you’re expecting enough smoked chicken to make this a meal, however, don’t. This isn’t the US. The smoked chicken was very much for flavor, not satiation. Also, the Caesar dressing — it wasn’t. I’m not sure what it was, but it more closely resembled the sesame seed butter Japanese salad dressing than something involving mustard, egg, olive oil, lemon juice, and anchovies.

The panini came with a tiny side salad, which was nice. It also had tomato, cucumber, and cheese in addition to the smoked chicken and apple slices. Pretty darn delicious. I’d totally come back and order this again.

The milk tea was okay. Not particularly awesome, not disappointing. There was a lovely little bit of foam art on top that smelled faintly of honey for some reason. It wasn’t too sweet, which I appreciated.

The waffles were where I hit the wall. First of all, however, let me tell you there’s a lot of waffle involved. They came with a lovely little arrangement of fruit and whipped cream, so apparently Cafe Philo is really dedicated to making sure we get our five a day. Kudos for that, truly.
Two Belgian waffles, so it can be pretty filling on its own. Good thing, as they have savory waffle platters, although just from looking at someone else’s order, I think there’s not enough filling for the amount of waffle given. The waffle should be a vehicle for filling, not the main character. But I digress.
The waffles were crunchy. Palate-scratching crunchy. Tasty, if you like your waffles to resemble cookies, but I like mine to be fluffy with a bit of crunch.
The ice cream, one scoop of vanilla and one of chocolate, didn’t work for me. The vanilla didn’t quite taste like the type of vanilla that I love. Maybe it’s a more Asian type of vanilla, but it didn’t do it for me. The chocolate was actually a turn-off because it was not only not very good chocolate, it was mint chocolate. I want pure, dark, velvety smooth chocolate when I’m adding waffles to the scene, yo!

Overall verdict?
I probably wouldn’t deliberately come here again, but I’d be happy to eat here if ever I had occasion to. Just, maybe skip the desserts.
It was pretty busy on a Saturday evening, but then again, many places in Taipei are. I couldn’t focus enough to do actual work, but it was fine enough for blogging. The waitstaff are very attentive and were complete sweethearts. Also very good at topping up water, which doesn’t always happen.

徵 – wanted; levied; requested

Because I’ve been told that the Universe needs specific direction, because of the Law of Attraction, the Secret, and whatnot. So here you go.
As always, the usual tethering terms of service mostly apply. Sauce for gander equals sauce for goose, etc. Mostly, because there’s the physical bits for the lover and the only sort of person I can pick up is a toddler less than 40 pounds.
Anyway Universe – it’s your move.

Writing and critique partner (2, perhaps 3 openings):

- must love my writing
- must be capable of giving con-crit regardless of that love
- must have time and spoons to do said con-crit
- must be equally capable of wielding the whip as warm fuzzy hugs
- must be supportive of this mad-cap journey we call self-publishing
- preferably local but not necessary, although similar time zones are definitely a bonus
- loving me as a person would be a bonus but not necessary

General friend-of-all-trades (3 maybe 4 openings):

- must be local (within easy transportation distance to NTU)
- must be willing to do lunch/dinner/random meals
- must love me
- preferably happy to go exploring this city with me on occasion
- preferably someone happy to walk in circles around the campus with me (it’s a big campus. really. it’s not as boring as it sounds)
- preferably someone huggable/cuddle-able

Lover (your call, Universe, your call):

- must look on me like I’m their personal miracle
- must love me
- must be local (non-negotiable)
- must be willing to do meals and share food
- must be sexually compatible or happy to negotiate the shoals of no-sex loving (cuddling a must and non-negotiable)
- must be compatible in terms of time and space and affection needs
- must be capable of communicating clearly, aware of self’s needs and desires and limits, and able to recognize and verbalize about trigger points
- must be their own person, with own life, and own dreams and hobbies.
- preferably the owner of a sprawlable lap
- preferably capable of picking me up for hugs

Those who have interest in the above positions should leave me a message in the comments or tweet @katjexia.

*waits*

Smoke, mirrors, and fire

I mentioned those in my last post, didn’t I?

Thene linked it all together for me, however, when she mentioned something a client had said:
“Some people try to get things right by bean counting, whereas others are all about calibrating risk, eg (in this instance) looking out for the things that were most likely to catch fire and making sure they didn’t catch fire, screw the beans. Made me think of me & M, not least in that he ALWAYS knew that X was going to catch fire. Literally always.”
I noted that M seems to note all the fires, but doesn’t try to fight any of them.
Thene: “Oh, yes, in many cases he notes the forthcoming fire & just fireproofs his own boundaries. esp with me, he can’t force people into making the fire not happen.”

My dorm had a required fire safety class yesterday. I was tired and I was skeptical, but in the end I found out some very valuable lessons that can be extrapolated.

The fire person:
“If the flames are licking the roof and spreading sideways – GTFO. Or death. Don’t even bother, just go. However, if the flames are less than ceiling height and going straight up, get your courage and faith together, be a hero, and put out that fire. Be confident and you will prevail.”

and

“The reason why fire extinguishers are designed to only have about 10 minutes of power is because if you can’t put out a fire within that time frame, the house is going up anyway, so to have it last longer would only kill your chances of survival because you’ll stand there trying to put out the fire instead of fleeing when the fire has already circled round to block off your exit.”

and

“If you’re in your room and you know there’s a fire somewhere, but you don’t know where for sure, stay inside your room. If you open the door, you are likely to introduce a backdraft, also known as providing a burst of energy to a previously oxygen depleted environment. In most cases, this will result in instant crispy death of the person opening the door. So stay inside your room, open a window, and signal for help. Don’t just stand there, thinking people will know you need help. Nope. When there’s fire, there’s too much going on and way too much smoke. If you want to be saved, you need to signal for help.”

and

“When fighting a fire, keep your distance or you might end up singed. Fire extinguishers can work up to 5 meters away, so there’s no need to get up close and personal.”

and

“Do not panic if you know there’s a fire alarm going on somewhere in the building but the alarms in your room aren’t signaling evacuation. The floors most immediately at danger will signal for evacuation first. Stay in your room to avoid overcrowding and possible death by stampede.”

and

“Do not wander around in case of fire. Smoke rises at the rate of one story every second. You cannot outrun it. If you are more than 30 meters from an easy exit, stay in your room lest you die of smoke inhalation rather than actual fire.”

….

All fire safety shit, right?
But nooo, we can extrapolate!

If someone’s drama/issue is straightforward and appears solvable (aka, not descending into ceiling-licking crazy), then by all means, be a hero, be confident, and put out that fire.

If you cannot solve someone’s drama within a certain time frame, GTFO because you cannot save them/it and you should preserve your own life.

If you’re not sure of what’s going on, stay barricaded within your boundaries and do not introduce more fuel to the mess.

If there’s drama and you need evacuation, signal for help if you want to live. No one will know you are there or that you want help if you don’t let them know. No one will know that you don’t want any part of it if you don’t speak up.

Keep your distance from drama. Don’t get pulled in. If you can put out the fire safely, do so, but otherwise, keep yourself from being burned!

If the drama isn’t spilling over onto you, please don’t go looking for it or add unnecessary panic to the mess. Stay calm, stay detached, and it will be fine.

Above all, don’t try to outrun the smoke. Barricade, barricade, barricade. Smoke kills more and faster than fire, in this case, meaning that drama explosion spill over ruins more shit than the original actual problem does.

Also, in a small contained space like a bus with lack of outside ventilation, lots of flammable shit, and people crammed together? You have like 30 seconds before everything goes up in fire fire fire. So really, gauge your environment, and if you’re in the equivalent of a bus (small incestuous screwed up group of people who feed off each other’s drama and think forgiveness is a myth), just GTFO. Unless you have super speed, which you don’t because you aren’t Superman or the Flash or whatever, you will be knocked out and crispy faster than you believe possible.

He also mentioned a couple of cases where people just wanted to burn some brush or dead leaves and ended up causing huge amounts of damage they were then responsible for. *nudge nudge*

Be safe, kiddies, and don’t play with matches. Or explosives. If you must, however, do it with permission and intelligently.

Don’t ask; don’t tell – chronic illness edition (intersection with fat shaming)

It’s funny, but living with a chronic illness means that sometimes I feel like every moment of my life has to be justified and explained and asked permission for.  Especially situations when I appear to be having fun.

Almost everyone has an opinion on how I should fix things. Almost everyone has a hypothesis about what I’m doing wrong. Spoiler: it’s because I’m fat.

Persistent inability to breathe? Because I’m fat.

PCOS? Because I’m fat.

Depression? Because I’m fat.

ADD? Clearly because I’m fat.

Inability to gain rest from sleep? Because I like my cake, duh.

Weirdly painful periods involving enough blood to make my bed look like a murder scene? Because the gods are punishing me for loving my carbs, natch.

It’s my responsibility to keep going to doctors even though no one really has either solutions or even a proper diagnosis. (you’re just fat. lose weight and you’ll be all better.)

It’s my responsibility to constantly apologize for anything I do that is less than perfectly healthful (bonus negative points because no one really seems to agree on anything… except that I’m fat) and to essentially ask permission for being sick.

It’s my responsibility to try everything under the sun to fix myself, because if something isn’t working it’s because I’m not doing it enough. (oh, you have no energy because you feel like you can barely breathe all the time? exercise! oh, you’re walking 5 miles a day and it’s not helping? clearly exercise harder and more!)

And most recently?

My godmother very sincerely told me to never tell anyone about my health issues.

Not my future friends because they might stigmatize me or they might let something slip to the wrong person (read: everyone) and cost me a job or a promotion or an internship or *gasp* a relationship.

Not my future colleagues because of the same.

Definitely not my teachers or my supervisors because that’d be torpedoing my future.

Absolutely not anyone I might have a relationship with because … duh, who would want me if they knew of all this?

….

*blink blink blink*

So. This is a thing.

Welp.

Fuck that thing.

For one:

I’ve never been much for the dark secret conflict plot type of romance novels and so I really don’t intend to write that sort of bullshit into my life. Besides, “I live with a chronic invisible illness that no one can diagnose and no one has solutions for” is a pretty shitty sort of dark secret in terms of jaw-dropping drama bombing.

Even though, seriously, I think it might be legit grounds for divorce for keeping this sort of thing from your significant other. Chronic invisible illnesses might not make for awesome screentime drama-emoing, but in terms of how much it actually affects a life with another person, it’s a sight worse than having a secret baby or being a step-sibling or being the bastard love child of a mafia boss or whatever is trending right now.

For another:

I don’t want to be any part of the crazy. I don’t want to be friends or lovers with someone who doesn’t get it because this isn’t just about me, it’s about everyone else dealing with the bullshit.

I’m not going to be part of the problem. I’m not going to go around indiscriminately screaming about my issues, but you can bet your entire net worth that I’m not going to hide it from people who intersect my life in meaningful ways.

I have a chronic illness. No, I don’t know what it is. All I know is that it affects almost every aspect of my life. I often can’t suck in enough oxygen to keep my brain going. I can sleep for sixteen hours and wake up exhausted. I very often have only just enough spoons to get out of bed and keep myself fed (and sometimes not even that). I get drained by social interaction, no matter how much I enjoy it or how much I like you and if I get too drained, it can be bad enough that I have to retreat to bed for a day or two. I get random weird pains that might or might not land me in bed for days from the most innocuous of activities (once was laid up for seven days with debilitating lower back pain after I attended a three hour seminar; should make going back to school where all the classes are in three hour blocks very exciting in that roulette sort of way).

And now for the non-Hallmark sidenotes:

No, this doesn’t make me “stronger” as a person. I survive. I often feel like I survive badly. I don’t see much benefit to living with this level of quality of life. If anything, I sometimes feel like the smarter, braver thing to do would be to just end it.

No, I’m not a magically happier person. I don’t necessarily appreciate what I have more when I have the wherewithal to appreciate it. Oftentimes the not-bad days are crammed with “must do all of the things to keep life moving” rather than “oh my, this is nice, I’m going to enjoy life because I can actually smell the roses without shooting pain through my back today”.

No, I don’t automatically have some sort of wisdom or patience or whatever qualification for sainthood because I live with pain, almost perpetual exhaustion and a persistent lack of oxygen.

I’m not saying I’m a special snowflake. Having a not-perfect body is part of life and almost everyone will encounter a phase like this at some point. There will always be someone who is suffering more than me; that doesn’t in any way negate what I experience daily.

It’s your choice whether or not to make allowances for my limitations; I don’t expect it. All I ask for is the basics of respect and humanity.

I make no excuses, give no fucks, and tell it how it is. You should feel free to do the same.

I can be a flakey friend. I routinely drop off the face of the planet when I get sick. It’s your prerogative to decide you don’t want to deal with that.

I can be a difficult person to love. I have limited resources and the answer might be “no” a lot of the time. It’s your call as to whether that’s a deal breaker.

That’s okay.

I’m going to be honest about my limitations. You should definitely feel free to do the same.

 

P.S: No, it’s not because I’m fat.

 

Nobody’s angel

My mother’s sulking again.

My grandfather mentioned that he wanted to come for a visit.

Now.

To the US. Where he doesn’t speak the language and where a lot of effort is going to have to be expended to cater to his very-Asian palate.

To the house where mom is already going off the deep end about not being able to clean in time.

To visit the daughter who he once reduced to a sobbing wreck kneeling at his feet, begging for mercy. The daughter he once humiliated in front of all of her subordinates.

Escorted by his son in law because of course granpappy dearest can’t make the trip alone. The son in law who had to stand by and watch him fuck up, over and over and over again. The son in law who got to deal with the aftermath of what the old man did to his company and his family.

Mom’s sulking because Kev and I aren’t thrilled by all this happening.

She’s sulking because Kev pointed out that it was kind of shitty to “persuade” (read: guilt trip, manipulate, and “logic”) my dad into escorting granpappy to the US.

She’s sulking because I pointed out that having her husband (who she’s been having epic fights with) and her father (who her husband pretty much dislikes and who has issues with her) under the same roof might be …explosive.

She’s sulking because somehow she’s taken our lack of caring for a narcissistic crazy old man who delights in playing his kids off of each other as a fundamental lack of filial piety. She’s taking it as a sign we’re going to discard her in her old age because we don’t believe in the traditions of said filial piety and because we’re terrible ingrates who don’t understand the value of family loyalty.

…I really want to tell her that, no, we’re not going to discard her in her old age because we don’t believe in filial piety. I, personally, am going to disappear off the face of the earth and be dead to her because she’s crazy, uses me as a scapegoat, refuses to respect boundaries, and because I’m sick and tired of being abused.

How’s that for them apples?

But no. Kev told me to stop sabotaging myself with my smart mouth. So I didn’t.

It’s tragic, really, how much damage a parent can do to a child.

It’s easy to laugh at the idea of daddy issues and make jokes about mommy trauma, but the truth is that our parents shape us in ways that we never saw coming.

Kind of like black mold. You scrape away and disinfect one layer and you think you’re good. Then the next wet day comes and you realize that there’s veins of black death running all throughout your house and the only reasonable thing you can do to save your life is to abandon everything you’ve ever had.

Except you can’t get away from your mind. You can only keep disinfecting. Or you pray for a quick death.

Except black mold doesn’t result in quick deaths.

Everything is complicated by the fact that I got into a graduate program for interpretation and translation at National Taiwan University.

It’s a prestigious university and a useful program.

I gave up a prestigious university and a useful program once because of my parents and I lived to regret it.

I could tell my mom to fuck off and go find a job at Starbucks and try my best to wipe her out of my life, but at what cost?

And at what cost if I were to stay in Taiwan, close to her and her particular brand of crazy? At what cost if I were to live with her under her roof because she’s paying for my schooling and my living costs?

I have maybe a month to figure it all out, before my tuition comes due. Once the tuition is paid, I’m pretty locked into the decision.

May the gods grant me strength. And wisdom. Lots of it.

 

 

Lost

When I was eighteen, I wanted to know the meaning of life. Mine, to be specific. Why was I here? What could I do? Did it even matter that I existed?

Twelve years later, it’d be nice to know the meaning of my life in abstract, something separate from what it means for me, but mostly I’ve been struggling with the question of lessons learned and abandoned. What have I learned? What have I failed to learn? What do I yet need to learn?

March has been difficult. I don’t know why.

It’s been difficult to breathe on too many days. Too many mornings where I rose from my bed still tired. And the depression circles, ever vigilant, and for some reason the fires burnt low this month.

Stories aren’t often written of those who stay at home and tend the hearth. It is always the boy who leaves, the girl who marries, the querent in search of a quest who gets their heart’s desire.

But the doing is in every day. To rise every morning. To do the day’s work. To keep the fires burning. To keep the larder stocked. To slay the dust bunnies where they lie in the dirt and procreate.

It is a choice. Every single day is a choice. An affirmation.

I need to remember that. To keep belief strong, to keep faith that just getting up, getting fed, being clean is an accomplishment in of itself. That what little is done today is nevertheless a stepping stone to a better tomorrow.

I need to believe that the ones who stay at home can get their heart’s desire too.

Perhaps part of the malaise is just the weather turning or the cold that we’ve all been struggling with since the new year came. Perhaps part of it is that I still have no concrete notice as to whether I have been accepted into a grad school program this September or not. Perhaps part of it is because my parents have been feuding. Perhaps part of it is because I feel like I’ve sold a part of myself for the sake of ease and deluded security. Perhaps part of it is because I’m going to be in the US for four months and it’s terrifying on so many levels. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know what of my dreams I cling onto because they are mine and how much of them are just for comfort. Perhaps it’s because I keep scoring myself on the shattered remains of what I lost.

It doesn’t matter. I can’t let it matter.

There are no guarantees of tomorrow. There are no plans laid that cannot be scattered. The universe and the fates make us no promises.

I am here now. I can only do the best I can, now. All I can do is tread the path that is littered with the fewest traps for regret.

Boundaries and grace.

Once I send off my tax payments, then I’ll know how much money I have to spend over the next four months. Then I’ll need to budget what I can and cannot do based on that. Boundaries.

I need to finish Sunshine and Phoenix Awoken, stat. That has to be my primary priority for the month of April. That, and try to sell off bits of furniture as we go so the house can be cleaned in readying for selling. Anyone want a leather couch set?

I don’t wish to see anyone from before except for Thene and her household. I don’t want to be nice for the sake of being nice. I don’t want to dispense comfort. I don’t want to sugarcoat the truth of how very difficult it was this last half-year, how very abandoned I’ve felt, how disposable, how scapegoated, how very unappreciated. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, aye? Well, I haven’t had any good interactions with anyone from my previous life except with Thene, so I’m drawing that circle closed now. Boundaries.

To a large extent, going to MA feels like stepping backwards. How very fitting that Saturn will be retrograde in that time period. Lord of Karma, Master of Time, I pray that I have learned my lessons, that I will not be ground beneath myself. Grace.

I’m learning how to protect myself without lashing out at others.

I’m learning where my jagged edges are and trying to heal them without covering them up and hoping for the best.

I’m learning how we maneuver around the gaping holes in our lives and how we use others as bridges across chasms.

I’m learning where my dreams lie, where my heart lies, where my mind shies away from the truth.

I’m learning. Pray Saturn that I have learned enough.

Oh Monkey…

Sun Wukong, king of the monkeys, trickster extraordinaire. How much more powerful is he when he’s coupled with fire, as he is in this coming new year?

Very potent, apparently.

The last few days have been a study in drama, with multiple lessons letting me know that I’m not as centered as I thought myself to be, not quite as enlightened as I flattered myself to be, and definitely not quite as graceful as I want to be.

In less than 72 hours, I’ve managed to blow up at my mother, fight with my father, threatened to move back to the US despite it being a truly shitty idea and a slap in the face to my parents, descend into melodramatic hysteria while talking to my brother (suicide ideation may have been mentioned), touched a knife with thoughts of self-harm, utterly piss off a friend while having the best of intentions (note to self: get better at apologies), and had someone tell me that they were completely in love with me, did unhealthy things in the pursuit of that love, and that I shouldn’t have accepted his tokens of affection, that I was a horrible housemate, that I “nearly blew up” my ex’s relationship with his new girl, and that I “ruined” all of my housemate’s lives.

*breathes out. relaxes shoulders*

Monkey… you’re certainly coming in with a bang. If this is what the upcoming Fire year is going to be like, consider me warned and slightly terrified.

Or can I hope that this is just Monkey’s warning shot over the bow, his reminder to clear out the trash in preparation for next year’s bounty?

After all, he hasn’t quite arrived yet. It’s the eve before the New Year, so perhaps it’s that fiery energy blazing in, sweeping away the green wood of last year?

 

With hope in mind:

I offer up to Love a pledge to love myself, to hold through each day the idea that the Universe loves me, to remind myself that every moment on this earth is a gift and to forgive others their trespasses so that I may forgive myself.

I vow to Love that I will respect and honor others by first respecting and honoring myself and that I will first look for the story in every tragedy and the smile in every detour.

I invite Love into my life. I invite those who would love me, who would be loved by me, who wishes to be mutually beneficent, who could help me, who I can help, who I can teach and who I can learn from.

I will search for the seeds of selfishness, of self-centered shadows, of fear and doubt, and cast them out as I find them.

Reminder: I must not encroach upon others in a wild flail to regain my balance; do not punish others for what I have done to myself, but also do not soften on boundaries.

 

My mother, my mirror, the one who blazed the trail that I too often mindlessly follow.

Elle, Kev, my sister-friend, my brother, my mirror, the one who I poke at when the image doesn’t reflect what I think it ought to.

My father, my mirror, the one who gave me most of my irritating logical-pokiness and who turns it on me in balance for my wrongs.

Iddt, my friend, my mirror, the one who hollowed himself out to balance my empty need.

I thank you. I forgive you. I love you. I release you. Forgive me.

 

Affirmation from mooncircles.com that resonated today:

The beacon of life-destiny beckons me forward.

I step toward new goals despite impediments.

The stones in my path will become future stars.

I continue to create the fullest potential of who I AM.

 

My birthday is coming up!

I originally planned on publishing Goddess in Waiting as a birthday gift to myself. That does not seem like it’s happening in time, so revisiting and revisions are in order.

*breathes out and lets it go*

Grace, remember? Okay. I can do this.

Realization of today: I have a problem with apologies, especially to my parents, because I’m still struggling with a fear of fundamental rejection. Admitting to doing something wrong is (to my unenlightened mind) akin to inviting censure, attack (abuse?), and abandonment.

Good to know. Let’s do better moving forward. Note to self: get better at apologies.

Lesson: if you love someone and give to someone, then it is up to you to be clear-eyed about what your expectations are and if you are draining of yourself to feed an endless pit.

Another lesson: what works for you will not necessarily work for others – belief in meditation, warm baths, and the healing power of screaming out your rage can be just as much dogma as is found in organized religion. Do not evangelize. Remember, the sick person is not always, if ever, receptive to “did you try x? because it was super helpful for me, etc”.

Monkey be bold. Monkey be wise. Monkey — let’s try not to burn the good away with the bad.

Clarity: a manifesto of sorts

It’s coming on my 30th birthday and I figured I should take some time to step aside from the hurly burly, revisit, revise if necessary, and restock.

The last few weeks or so has been rocky. I’ve felt a bit tapped out, itchy, restless, simultaneously wishing to for a fight to raise sword and shield to and just wanting to be left alone.

It may be that it’s because I’m nearing my period. It may be that I’ve been over-socializing lately. It may be that I’ve felt sick and haven’t given myself enough downtime to recover. It may be that I’ve been pushing myself hard in January and now I’ve discovered too late that I’d burned too many spoons in my enthusiasm. It may be that Dana Gerhardt is right and I’m feeling the effects of the transiting sun being in a balsamic relationship to my natal sun. Or maybe maybe maybe…

Whatever it is, I’ve decided to tell it whateva.

What I love about my birthday is that it falls after Chinese New Year, which falls after the usual New Year. The fact that it falls immediately after Valentine’s day is just extra cherries in my cake.

Not really feeling quite up to speed on the new year yet?

Never fear, there’s another chance to do over with Chinese new year, with new burst of energy from the change in the stars.

Not really settling into the groove of self-love and positive affirmations yet?

No worries, there’s an entire week before I hit my birthday. Enough time to sort of slide into the water instead of being made to jump into the deep end.

With that in mind, maybe it’s time for a manifesto. Because why not? I’ve never done something of the sort before and it seems like fun.

I love… slipping into other realities through the lens of other people, and hatching dreams.

I believe… in grace, in love, in that fanged monster we like to call Hope and I believe that light is brought to the world one lumen at a time.

I am committed to… being that one lumen, to cradling every dream I can find in my hands, and nurturing my light so that it may not only light my world, but hopefully another’s.

Goals (I like lululemon’s idea of setting goals 4 times a year):

Personal:

This year: fall completely in love with myself

In five years: fall utterly in love with life

In ten years: find someone to share my bliss with

Health:

This year:

set my routine in stone. 10k+ steps a day. 3o min of walking after meals. sun salutations in the morning. do the exercises the doctor prescribed nightly. meditate. love my body while still nudging it to be the best it can be.

In five years:

move towards being more vegetarian except possibly for the bleeding times. learn balance and grace so I can travel more.

In ten years:

(this part is hard) be at home within myself, body and mind.

Career:

This year: finish Phoenix book 2. publish Goddess. finish and publish Silenced. possibly publish Letters.

In five years: wrap up the Phoenix series, including spin-offs. find my tribe. find writing partners. be making enough money to cover my base expenses.

In ten years: have at least 40 stories published. making goal-money (6k+/month) off my writing.

 

 

 

 

Navigating the shoals of productivity

Or. How to benefit from a farm share without going mad whilst coping with low energy/appetite.
Or. Redefinition of a “normal” life when circumscribed by suboptimal health.

There were many things I released in 2015, and one of the biggest ones was the drama of food and what constituted a meal.

This one was huge because of the intersection of nutrition, finances, time constraints, energy, appetite, and cravings.

I realized that I spent a lot of time circling around meals. Either I was thinking about food, making food, cleaning up after making food, shopping for food, prepping food to be cooked, or staring into the refrigerator in dismay at things I’d bought that were going off.

Some days I’d fall into bed and think, welp, I didn’t do anything else, but I ate today.

The first thing I let go of was the notion of meal creation as women’s work. Of course, the logical brain had long ago tossed aside the notion that it was the female half’s job to make sure meals got onto the table, people got well fed, and the kitchen cleaned up after. Unfortunately, the feels didn’t quite catch up until fairly recently, and only then because there genuinely weren’t enough spoons to go around.

I had to release the idea that “love means you feed the ones you love and if you don’t make sure the ones you love are well-fed, then you’re doing it wrong“. That one was all intertwined with “but I need to eat anyway…soo…”.

Which leads me to the release of what constituted a meal.

Growing up, meals always involved at least one platter of stir-fried veg, one meat dish, a soup of some sort, and probably an egg dish or another meat dish to round things out. So the idea of what a “proper” meal consisted of was very much ingrained in me. Not just in terms of propriety, it was also how I’d gotten used to eating. I didn’t like meals that were nothing but rice and meat and I didn’t feel fully satiated if it was just rice and veg. (the year of vegetarianism was a fun trip…)

When spoons really came at a premium, I discovered the lifesaver that is the Vitamix. It was mostly by accident, actually. I had a chicken pot pie that really wasn’t doing it for me, and chewing was such a chore, so I ended up tossing it into the blender with some stock and just chugged the result. Cue the eureka moment of — wait, what can’t I blend?

Now, I blend everything. I’ll toss all sorts of veg, meat, oatmeal, rice, and sometimes nuts into the blender, smoothify it to the consistency of a thick soup, and just drink that for as many meals as I need to.

This is why the Vitamix instead of my stick blender or a normal blender, by the way. The end result from the Vitamix is smooth and creamy, even if you dilute it. Sometimes a thick soup that looks okay when blended with a normal blender ends up …snaggly when you add water to thin it out to drinkable consistency. As in no-chewing whatsoever, just drink it like juice dilution.

Note: I wish I knew this back when I was drowning in vegetable matter from my farm share.

I blanch all the veg, which means I can fit an entire head of cabbage into the container if I want to, go to town in terms of additions, and hit the magic button. I’ve tossed remainders of beef stir-fry in with cups of spinach before – the bits of ginger and garlic and soy sauce was a nice touch. I’ve also made chicken stock with an entire chicken, shredded off all the chicken, and liquefied all the stock veg and the chicken into a thick soup.

If I could only own three electric things ever, it’d be my laptop, my Vitamix, and my cellphone. Best money I ever spent. Ever.

It’s completely possible to make three pots of soup at the start of the week, puree everything, and just alternate all week. Very little mess, no waste,  little clean up on a day to day level, and best of all – no thought required.

Poor appetite? Doesn’t matter since there’s no chewing and therefore little effort. Just chug it.

My mom’s gotten fairly on board with this notion and it’s great. Dad’s not a fan, but in which case, we just direct back to release #1: care and feeding of other humans isn’t my god-given responsibility. (babies are different, okay?)

And the last thing that I learned to release was the idea of “normal” productivity.

It’s inevitable. You see what other people do, what they get done, and how they seemingly juggle work, family, social activities, fun, and themselves effortlessly and it’s hard not to go pea-green with envy.

Something else that I learned to do is to pay attention.

Most things hinge on whether or not I sleep well the night before.

If not, well, then it might have to be a low-load day. I aim for 6k steps on the fitbit, try for 250 words, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. Sometimes it’s a no-load day and …well, I’ve since learned that there’s no forcing it. Some things you can push through. Chronic illness, depending on what’s going on, not so much.

If I do sleep okay, then I have a short window (2 hrs?) in the morning where I can brain. So this is when I try to write.

Around 10:30am my focus often gets drifty, again completely dependent on the sleep quality the night before. At this point I either move onto reading articles and blogging, or it’s time to eat.

Around 2pm, I start to get sleepy again and at this point about all my brain wants to do is read. This is a good time to do social-y things where being completely online isn’t necessary.

And then it’s all downhill from there.

I do sometimes get a second wind sometime in the evening, but it’s erratic and I haven’t really pinpointed what causes it yet. It’s entirely possible that it’s due to dinner often being the biggest meal of the day in our family, but big meals are just as likely to make me groggy as not…

For 2016, I’m aiming to turn the lights off at 9pm, maybe read a bit, do my positive projections, and then hopefully sleep before 10pm.

And I know myself, which means no excitement  whatsoever starting at about 8pm.

We eat around 6pm, which means cleanup will end around 7:30 or so and then it’s showertime and then wind down time.

I used to hate the idea of non-spontaneity and regulating my schedule like this, but it doesn’t bother me now. In fact, there might be benefits to having a severely curtailed night life. We’ll see if it’s true that nothing amazing happens after 9pm anyway.

 

New Year’s Eve of 2015 – saying yes to hope

Beautiful post on Saturn moving into Sagittarius. I wanted to quote, but I ended up wanting to clip the entire thing, so  I suppose y’all will just have to head over and read it.

And yes, it’s for everyone, even if you don’t believe in the quackery:

Fortunately, miracles aren’t granted only to the holy, the pious or the righteous. Miracles aren’t saved for the popular kids that are so #blessed. That’s privilege and it’s a human construct that has nothing to do with actual blessings. Miracles are something much more interesting. Miracles are taking place all the time. In big ways. In teeny-tiny ways. Inside every life. Miracles simply exist. Without our force. Without our coercion. Without our manipulation.

Every time you love out loud you are opening a space for a miracle to enter. Every time you seek to create a safe and just world for all you are helping miracles to occur. Every time you remember that your liberation is bound up in the liberation of every other being on the planet, you have been granted a miracle. Every time we remember and act on the fact that we are all here to serve one another, we have been part of a miracle.

Say yes to the miracle. Say yes to hope.

Even though we may carry past traumas and abuse. Even so.

And on this New Year’s Eve, I’d like to take a step towards not carrying all that anymore. It happened. It sucked. Let’s talk it to death and figure out what lessons were to be learned from all that tragedy, and for fuck’s sake – let’s move on.

If:

Saturn in Sagittarius might also be asking us to harness our faith, show up for what we believe in and offer our lives as sites for the miraculous to occur.

Then, yes.

2015 has been difficult and illuminating.

As I said to Thene, purity can indeed only be found in torture, re: Katherine as a name. In order to refine or distill anything, one pulverizes, shreds, steams, boils down, all to break something down into small enough pieces so the essence may be captured.

And perhaps I should not forget that in order for any light to be created, there must be a death of some sort.

Even so, I have much to be grateful for. There have been beautiful moments, all the more so because of the contrast of loss and anger.

What I want from 2016: Health. Love. Story. Joy.

Thus my goals:

I’m committing to showing up. Every day. No excuses. No whining. No nothing. I get the day off if I would have called in sick to work, but otherwise, no. But if it is one of those days, leading into #2….

I’m committing to self-forgiveness. It’s okay to fuck up. It’s okay if I tried my best and it didn’t net me what I was looking for. If it’s a bedridden day, it’s a bedridden day. Suck it up buttercup, snag another book off the TBR pile, and just settle into your blankets.

I’m committing to loving myself first. Put on your oxygen mask before you worry about others and all that jazz. Questions: Are you fed? Are you watered? Have you had enough sleep? Are you warm? Are you calm and centered? If not, drop everything and fix it. The car ain’t gonna go nowhere if the engine’s shot. I am the thrust behind my life’s trajectory; it is only sensible to make sure the rockets are functioning at all times.

I’m committing to boundaries. Say no to users and abusers. Say no to other people’s emotional labor. Say no to non-reciprocity. Say no to everything that drags you down. Say no to stupid fights that won’t get anywhere. Just. Say. No.

It’s New Year’s Eve. I have a map, a full belly, a comfortable ship, and the horizon extends beyond infinity. Let’s go, shall we?