Fine Tuning

On New Year’s Eve I went for a walk and did a lot of thinking. Mind you, I always do a lot of thinking when I walk. But this thinking had to do with this blog, and how some changes coming up are going to affect it. This really does seem to happen every December, doesn’t it?

New Year's Eve 4

This time the shift is huge in some ways, and almost unnoticeable in others. Y’all know I was laid off in early December. Since I found out I would be laid off–way back in late October–I’ve been mulling over my choices. And in December I decided to take this time off work to pursue something new. The blog has been quiet because I’ve been researching the ins and outs of freelance writing as a business. I’ve been building a website, assembling a collection of writing samples, and working with a designer on a logo for business cards. This falls under the huge shift category for me.

New Year's Eve 3

At the same time, I’ve started revamping my old knitting patterns to make them more attractive and easy to read. I’ll be moving all patterns to a new Etsy shop by the end of the month. I plan to keep my old Etsy shop open for readings and reiki sessions. I don’t sell a tremendous number of either, but every once in a while someone needs those services, and I want them to be available when that happens. So this change is small–more fine tuning than anything. But here is where questions about this blog become an issue.

New Year's Eve

The Greenwoman blog has been through a lot of changes over the years. I’ve attempted to leave it behind several times, but I’ve always come back. So this year as I was pondering what to do with the blog, I didn’t even entertain the notion of giving it up. This is my spot to work things out, to talk about whatever is on my mind and to foist my obsessions on others. Also, I park all my favorite photos here.

New Year's Eve 2In the end I decided to create a website for my writing, where I will also blog about green living, DIY and the handmade world. And I decided to set up a blog for the new Etsy shop where I’ll talk about knitting and other arts and crafts, give shop updates, and maybe highlight other artists and artisans whose work I admire. Both sites are still under construction, so they’ll change a lot in the coming weeks; but there are a few blog posts up with more coming soon.

And this blog? This blog will continue to be the place where I don’t have to be consistent or thematic, where I can share whatever is on my mind or on my camera. Posts will probably continue to be erratic–except I did get a fancy new camera, so who knows how many more pictures I’m about to start taking?

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Usually the Last to Know

After yesterday’s heavy post I figured it was time for something a little lighthearted to remind y’all that I’m mostly a big goofy dork.

Also when I was checking out other Pagan Blog Project posts, Hare mentioned that moment when she realized she was attracted to the ladies, and it reminded me of the silliness of my own ah-HA! moment. It went something like this:

Back in 1999 I was working in an office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There was a new-ish guy named Rick and we kind of hit it off right away, talked a lot on breaks, etc. He was reasonably attractive and I was tired of being single and I was considering trying to work up an interest in him. We went out for coffee after work.

We sat in a booth, and I was facing the counter, so I could see the barista. The new guy–I think his name might have been Rick–started telling me the story of his recently broken engagement. I think he might have been trying to get a sympathy shag, but I’m not sure because I was watching the barista. She had short hair, and was wearing a halter top. She had the most beautiful neck and shoulders I’d ever seen, and I couldn’t stop staring at her. And while Rick went on about . . . something to do with his ex, I couldn’t really focus on what he was saying–it suddenly occurred to me that the wistful feeling I was experiencing was not, in fact, about wishing I was as pretty as the girl behind the counter. It was about wishing I could kiss the girl behind the counter. I was ATTRACTED to her, in a big way. Outwardly nothing in the environment changed but internally it was like that moment in a movie where someone new walks into the bar and even the jukebox stops and stares.

I looked at Rick and blurted out, “I think I’m bisexual.”

Rick paused in his monologue, raised his eyebrows, and said: “Well. Yeah.”

What can I say? Sometimes I’m the last person to know things about myself.

And Then There Was That Time My Life Exploded

So . . . it’s been almost four months since I posted here. I dropped the ball on the blogvel. I feel a little sheepish about stepping back in.

But I do believe separating from my partner, moving to the city from the country, getting a room mate, and acquiring a full time job is a pretty good excuse for a blog hiatus. I have missed it terribly thought, and it’s gooooood to think of starting up again.

Of course after a change like that, the blog is going to be a little different. I’m still deciding just HOW different, but in the mean time . . . the year is almost over, and I want to tie up some loose ends.

SO, tomorrow I’m going to post the final chapter of Bloom. And soon–probably New Year’s Day, but I make no promises–I’ll let you all know what will be changing and how I’m going to go forward. But I still get a few days to make up my mind.

 

 

Summer of Bloggerly Love: Guest Post by MarthaMouse

Everyone, this is my last guest post for the Summer of Bloggerly Love. Next week I’ll be doing a special wrap-up post, with a few surprises! This has been one of the most fun blog projects I’ve ever done! I want to thank everyone who swapped posts with me throughout the summer–I have the most fantastic blog buddies anyone could ever ask for.

And today’s guest post is by someone who I am privileged to be friends with in “real life”. Martha and I are knitting and reiki and brainstorming buddies. She illustrated Hope, April’s First Sunday Short Fiction offering. Today I’m on her blog talking about knitting love; when you’ve read Martha’s post, mosey on over and check out mine! And now here’s Martha:

Its late. I just spent the whole afternoon trying to prepare a masterpiece for this post… another 6 hours and it’ll be something decent… maybe…

So now I am left in the unpleasant position of needing to fill this page with lines that form words instead of pictures. I’m not hesitant with writing, usually, but the topic of this blog is love, and though I work to welcome love into my daily life as well as my art, I’m not especially articulate about this decision.

For the past seven years I’ve been relearning to be tender and gentle, to myself as well as the rest of the world. It has been a long road. My love is naturally fierce, tough and demanding… but I have been seeking a deeper connection with God, friends, family, art and life that I can only find by embracing a gentle love.

The process of changing my actions, my words, and even my thoughts is slow and requires a lot of forgiveness. Old ideas and expressions sneak in and hide. I have to be vigilant and locate them for gentle removal or reform. This is not a practice that can be forced.

My artwork has always mirrored my emotional life, and so my slow transformation finds its most obvious expression in my drawings. My artwork used to be angry, dark and bitter. It was always sincere, but my characters looked lost, afraid, furious or desperate. I’d include some images, but I had a moment a few years ago and burnt everything. It was WORTH IT! but that’s another story about expectation and paralysis.

Instead I’m going to explain why I draw hearts.

I know (because WordPress tells me so) that I get more views when I draw skulls, but its the hearts that fill my sketchbooks, my notes at work, my tattoo plans and my blog. When I draw the hearts I am reminding myself that I choose to embrace all forms of love. It’s a daily affirmation of my decision and it fills me with contentment. I adore this practice.

But let me be clear! I draw fierce hearts because its another valuable aspect of love. And I am still fierce, tough and demanding. I have zero intention of removing or supplanting these traits. I love them and I’m proud of them. But they are pretty well rooted and don’t seem to need as much help as tenderness and gentleness.

My drawings are the visual expression of my journey to welcome all forms of divine love: tender, fierce, gentle, tough, demanding, forgiving, and unconditional. Each heart that I draw is a prayer and an offering. I share them with the world, because that is how love is best appreciated.

Martha Steele is a graphic artist with a BFA in Printmaking. She lives in Portland, Oregon and spends her time planning her next great project, knitting feverishly, playing BioWare games, reading fantasy novels, petting her cat, and yes, drawing hearts. She can drink tea faster than a Cricket player, and can wrangle chickens like a pro. You can learn more about Martha at her blog, Martha Mouse.

Summer of Bloggerly Love: Guest Post by Susan Warren Utley

This morning I’m pleased to have my friend Susan Warren Utley’s guest post on the nature of love. When you’re done reading her lovely post, check out my post on Filling the Well over at Creative Procrastination. And now here’s Susan.

This morning as I sit before my keyboard contemplating love, the writing topic of the day, my muse is at my feet. I stare down at her and pose the question, “When you think of the word love, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?” The four year old Jack Russell Terrier stares up at me and tilts her head as if contemplating my question. Then in an instant she jumps up and is gone. I call after her as she heads off toward the living room, “Thanks a lot Lucy. You’re a big help.”

A few moments later I hear the clicking of her nails upon the wood floor as she reenters the studio. She has something in her mouth. It is Duck. Or rather, it was Duck. Now it is just a slobbery mess of shredded brown and orange fabric not a single piece of stuffing remaining inside it’s formless body. I’m fairly certain she ate the squeaker. This is the fate of all stuffed creatures that enter this house. They must be skinned alive, their pelts carried around as trophies for weeks until one day they mysteriously disappear. On that day Lucy sulks and paces in front of the trash as if to say, “You had no right. I killed it. It belonged to me.”

She approaches with caution and lays the coveted remains at my feet. “I don’t have time to play,” I say.  “I have to write. I have a deadline,” I insist.

But she is persistent. She picks up the irreparable fowl, shakes it vigorously between her jaws as if going for the overkill and tosses it once again at my feet.

I sigh. “Duck’s days are numbered, you know.” I reach for the remains. Just as my fingertips hover above the mutilated carcass she snatches it away again, tossing it over her head. She proceeds to roll around on the flattened toy, her tail wagging as she wiggles her body back and forth embedding the scent of the fibers in her coat.

I watch her play for a few moments and then I get it. This is her answer. It’s just a shredded duck but it  belongs to her. Love is an attachment, a connection we feel to all the things we become accustomed to over the years. Things we can’t bear to part with even though they might not be as perfect as they once were.

I am reminded of a fuzzy bear who has lost most of his fuzz, the one the girl wouldn’t go anywhere without. A collector bear worth thousands, but priceless to her, so she keeps it. Or the sweatshirt, ripped and faded, the one you agreed was not good enough to donate but argued that it was still too good for the trash. It reminds you of home, so you keep it. Or the man whose hair is a little thinner and eyes a little older, but they still look at you with the same expression you saw for the first time so many years ago. It’s a look that says he’d do anything for you, so you keep him.

I stare down at the white dog, the one who challenged me as a pup with sharp teeth and an angry snarl. The one who steals from the nativity scene making me chase her around the house screaming “Drop the baby Jesus!” The one who destroys anything with a face. Here she stands holding in her mouth the shredded remains of a stuffed duck made of indestructible fabric. She eyes me suspiciously and takes a step backwards. “Don’t worry,” I say, “you can keep it.” A tilt of her head and a wag of her tail, and I know this is love.  She may not be perfect and on occasion she can be the cause of all that falls apart at the seams, but I’ve become attached to her. She’s my muse, so I keep her.

Susan Warren Utley began her writing endeavors around the age of eight years old with the chronicles of a pair of houseflies named Charlie and Freckles. She went on to stories about an invisible blind cat who ran into furniture and a giant talking turtle who stalked her in the basement. Now that she’s all grown up, her roles as daughter, sister, wife and mother have taught her that the unexpected twists and turns of real life are at the heart of every good story. Still, the child within embraces the origins of her writing and she never underestimates the power of a talking turtle. She blogs at Creative Procrastination, and talks writing and life on Twitter.

Summer of Bloggerly Love: Guest Post by Cherie

Welcome to the second Summer of Bloggerly Love post. This week we have a post on love from my buddy Cherie. Over on her blog, I ramble about following your bliss before it’s too late. And now, here’s Cherie:

Love. Such a simple word and yet it holds so much power. An emotion capable of creating and destroying worlds, lives, people. When Michelle hosted the Summer of Bloggerly Love, I volunteered readily, thinking it would be so easy to talk about love or anything connected to love. But as the date for the guest post drew near, I started panicking. What would I talk about? There are so many things we can love—after all, we are humans programmed to feel. We yearn, we desire, we hurt. All five senses designed to make sure we don’t miss the purple tints across the evening sky, the cool breeze caressing our skin on a hot day, the tiny beats of a newborn baby’s heart.

Love is…

Ephemeral and Forever. It can be a moment that slips through your fingers when you are too slow to see it for what it is. It can be as fleeting as the brush of a dandelion seed against your hand. There are people you may have met or will meet in your lifetime and they’ll stamp love on your skin, but their presence will be short, albeit sweet. I had such a friend once. We were an unlikely pair—she was much older than I was, though we were both college students residing in the same dormitory. When I met her, I was going through an existential crisis: What am I doing? Where am I heading? I don’t know what I want or who I am anymore. In truth, I had a lot going on for me but I just couldn’t see it myself. I was restless, impatient. Like all other young adults, angst had taken hold of my gut and twisted it around in complicated pretzel knots.

Through my job, I came to know my friend. She was shy, rather awkward, and painfully aware of the difference between us. Not only with our age gap but with all other superficial factors that people seem to consider important even when they’re not (such as social background, physical features, etc.). She’d had a hard life. She didn’t trust people and she didn’t trust me at first. But we talked a lot about our experiences, our perspectives. In time she trusted me, and in turn my angsty void was redirected somewhere else, or at least it became so insignificant I stopped looking for it.

It was only for a summer that we shared this friendship. Life got busier, I got married and moved away, and the chasm widened when she married and moved even farther away. Years later, we had a chance to meet again. But then cancer took her before our old friendship could resume.

Love is fleeting, but it’s also eternal. I will always remember how she’d pulled me out of the dark without her knowing it, how in that brief summer she provided the friendship I needed. She may be gone, but the memory remains.

Love is…

Intangible and Solid. We all say this, that love is too hard to describe in one word. It’s so encompassing, so broad, and has too many angles that we’re better off leaving it undefined or bound in a sack. Music let notes sing of love, poetry measures it in the cadence of their meters. Writers and novelists portray love in their books in many different ways. It is ethereal. But love can be solid, too. It is in your toddler’s pink chubby cheeks as you kiss him goodnight. Your daughter’s hug after your long talk about how to deal with the bullies at school. It is there when you hold hands with your spouse as you sit quietly next to each other, watching your children play in the yard. Love is in your grandmother’s frail shoulders as she opens her door to welcome you in. Love is what you hear in your mother’s voice as you talk on the phone, being separated by thousands of miles of water and land but never separated in spirit.

Take time to pause and pay attention. Love surrounds us, and I don’t mean that in a hippie-ish way, though that isn’t a bad thing at all.   I hope that Love abounds in your life.

Cherie is a YA writer who loves to read, and is currently working on a YA Urban Fantasy novel.  You can find out more about her at her blog.

In Which Our Heroine is Misdiagnosed

I’m not dead!

But it has been a hell of a couple of months.

I have so much to tell you all! I thought about making a list and blabbing it all out in one go but then I though how silly! Let us have a leisurely conversation about where I have been, and where you have been.

The very first thing I want to tell you about is probably the biggest reason I didn’t blog during the month of November AT ALL.

I was freaking out, y’all.

It all started back in late October, when I got the bladder infection from hell. I have never had a bladder infection in my life. I was not impressed. It was AWFUL!!! And conscientious application of echinacea tincture and plain (yes, UNSWEETENED) cranberry juice failed to resolve the situation. So I finally made an appointment with a naturopath–someone I didn’t know at all, but he was close by and willing to fit me in to his busy schedule. I have been mostly quite healthy lately, and I thought I would be in and out quickly, with some big antibiotics and even bigger PRObiotics and an admonishment to drink more water and less tea.

Imagine my surprise when my cup of pee turned out to have sugar in it. Mr. Doctor Man poked my finger and we got a scary high blood sugar level.

He immediately launched in to an explanation of how I was diabetic, and I needed a primary care physician. He gave me a list of what to eat and what not to eat. He told me I’d better start checking my feet, because diabetics lose sensation in their feet and don’t realize when they injure them and don’t treat their wounds and end up with festering sores and have amputations. He told me to go buy the little blood sugar test monitoring machine. He gave me a list of bloodwork to get done at a lab and have the results faxed to him. He wrote me a prescription for Metformin.

Then he took my blood pressure. Surprise, it was high.

I asked him if there was any other possible explanation for the sugar in the urine and the high sugar level, and he said no.

I cried. I always cry.

I met the hubster at our friend’s house, and cried some more, and told them everything the naturopath told me.

They  helped me calm down, reassured me that I was right in feeling mistrustful of this immediate prescription of pharmaceuticals with no monitoring or discussion, told me we could figure it all out, encouraged me to trust my instincts.

Just in case, I radically altered my diet. I made an appointment with a different naturopath, one recommended to me by a friend I trust.

I wrote a novel in about two weeks. It was easier to write than to think about the possibility of being diabetic. (More about NaNoWriMo in a later post, probably). I knitted a LOT. I talked to friends who were diabetic, I did research. I made meal plans and cooked every meal. I fought really, really hard to keep panic at bay.

I did have a pretty horrible melt down which the hubster helped me get through.

On November 22nd I went to the naturopath I wanted to see and explained the whole situation to her, starting with the bladder infection from hell. She asked me about my eating habits before and after my dietary changes, and then she suggested we check my sugar level even though I hadn’t been fasting.

It was perfectly normal. There was no sugar in my urine.

She said: “You are not diabetic.”

Of course, that’s not the whole picture. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome several years ago. Insulin resistance  is often part of that picture, as is hormonal wonkiness and all sorts of other fun stuff. We need to do more blood work, get a more detailed picture of where I’m at, all of those very responsible and grown up things.

I need to be careful how I eat. Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, all these things run in my family.

STILL, though, the relief of knowing I’m not diabetic was HUGE. Huge.

And here’s the thing. If I had done what the doctor told me to do without question, I would have been put on a drug I didn’t need. And then I would have gone back to him and my blood sugar level would have been much better and he would have said “See, it’s working so well, I’m so pleased”. He would have felt like a hero. I would have felt like shit.

I’m sharing this story with you all to say this: always, always question. I have always been of the opinion that doctors are just regular people, and they can be wrong. They can make assumptions based on something like what size pants a woman wears or whether or not she has insurance. And I’m sure that often enough those assumptions are correct.

And that’s where personal responsibility comes in. A doctor who just met you and has only spoken with you for 15 minutes doesn’t really know where you’re at. He or she is getting a snapshot of you. YOU know the whole you, you live with you day in and day out. You know where it hurts, you know when it doesn’t feel right. It’s up to you to filter what the doctor tells you through your knowledge of yourself. It’s up to you to decide if you feel comfortable with what you’ve been told, or if you want to seek a second opinion.

I’m very sure that the man I saw had my best interests at heart, and really thought that he knew what was going on and wanted to help me. But that doesn’t change the fact that he almost put me on medication I didn’t need, based on one blood sugar rating taken when I was sick and way off kilter. Most doctor’s mean well, I’m quite sure. But doctor’s are not god. They aren’t here to take it all away from you. They’re here to HELP you be well. That works best when you are invested in taking part in your own well being.

At least, that’s what I think. You can take that or leave it, as you wish.