On a Personal Note

tumblr_msmojqYPa41rly3kto1_500This year I turned 56.  Sometimes it seems young and other times it seems old.  Mostly it feels in between.  My hair is gray by my own wishes.  I won’t color it again.  I wear almost no make up.  I rarely wear a bra.  I know, TMI.  I have a bunch of saggy parts and I’ve lost a lot of body strength, although that could be regained through exercise. I wear what I want, when I want.  Sometimes I sleep naked, and I no longer worry about my husband seeing all the saggy bits. After all, he has a few, too.

I express my opinion more and more, with far less concern about how other people feel about it.  I hope I don’t offend people, but if I do, so be it.  I feel clearer than I’ve ever felt before, and I have less tolerance for bullshit.  I feel like there’s not enough time for crap.  Don’t believe in climate change?  How do you feel about gravity?  Because it’s not a belief kind of thing.  Don’t like gays?  Then we should probably not be friends, because if you write off a whole group of people because you don’t agree with how they live their lives, then I’ll be applying that logic to you, personally.  Don’t like people who don’t believe in your God?  Also should probably part ways, since your religion is your business and mine – or rather my lack of belief – is mine.  I’m pretty sure you’ll get what’s coming to you when you die whether I believe or not.

I know I’m being deliberately confrontational here, and that’s fine.  Because that’s who I’m becoming.  For the first time in my life I am starting to feel strong.  I’m even beginning to see my tendency to cry when angry as a strength, and not the weakness I’ve been taught that it is.  I feel that my point of view is at least as important as anyone else’s, and possibly more important than some – those who take for truth everything they’re told by the biased media, and refuse to find out for themselves what it’s all about.  If that’s you, then maybe we can’t be friends anymore, either.

I’ve spent the past 50 years of my life keeping my own council, staying in the background, and putting everything and everyone before myself.  I have valuable opinions, informed opinions, and often controversial opinions, and now I’m going to be expressing them more.

I’ve stopped expecting people to know what I want and started telling them.  If I need something to be a certain way, its my responsibility to either make it so, or let people know that’s the way I want it.  The kitchen rug needs to be vacuumed?  I used to wait until someone else noticed and did it.  Now I do it myself, or ask someone to do it.  I actually may just get rid of the damn rug and eliminate the problem altogether.  The same with all the crap that needs to be dusted.

All of this is to say that I’m moving to a new stage in life.  I’m crossing a bridge, so to speak.  I’m moving from the me that is all things to all people, to the me that is just…me.  I’m working towards liking those parts of me I agree with, and letting go of the parts I’m not ok with.  I’m acknowledging that if I don’t do something, it’s ok, but the consequences are mine to own.  Slept all day and didn’t do laundry?  Ok, but that might mean the next day is spent doing whatever I blew off to sleep.  I’m’ owning my decisions.

Part of crossing this bridge is acknowledging that I am no longer young.  Not really old, either, but definitely not young.  The world looks at me and sees my gray hair, my well padded body, and my laugh lines and dismisses me as being less vital.  That part is not ok, but I can’t change our society.  I’m actually more vital than I’ve ever been, in my opinion.  I feel more alive than I have at any point in my life.  I could say I just FEEL more than ever before in my life.  In a good way.

In celebration of this change that has been taking place ever so slowly over the past 10 years, I am participating in a croning ceremony at the Pagan Spirit Gathering this year over the Summer Solstice.  A croning ceremony marks the final stage in a woman’s life – something that in ancient times was common, and among more “primitive” cultures still exists.  There are pagan, Jewish and many other croning rituals.  For me, at PSG, the week will be spent preparing with meditation, a sweat lodge, challenges, and other activities, culminating in the ritual at the end of the week.  I’m also selecting a new name, to embrace the “new” me – Macha.  She is part of a triple goddess, the Morrigan, representing war, fertility, earth, and protection.  I feel that this gives a true representation of my self, as I see me.

I only wish that certain people could be there with me – my sisters Laura and Vicki, and my closest and best friends: Cheryl, Susan, Tina, and Teryn (who I haven’t seen in 22 years but is often in my heart), and my daughters and granddaughters: Kaitee, Susanne, Brooklyn, Callie, Charlotte, and Harley, and my daughters-of-the-heart: Meghan, Ashley, and Jenna.  These are the women in my life to whom I hope I am a blessing, and who are a blessing to me.  I hope by embracing this new phase of my life, I can show them not only who I am becoming, but also what great changes await them in the fullness of their lives.

 

 

Knitting as fast as I can…

I have so much to knit and so little time to do it.  I’ve been busy with Legend of Zelda hats and mitts, socks, a coat, a baby beret, sock monkey booties, and a whole list of stuff to work on.  Here’s a few pics to show you…

Socks

SharePoint Socks (finished) and three other pair in the works.

Yarn is KnitPicks Felici (SharePoint Socks – discontinued), Paton’s Kroy Socks FX (top middle – love this yarn, thick without being bulky, colorway is Cameo), Neon Now, by Plymouth Yarns (bright pink – not as soft as I would like, purchased at River Knits in Lafayette, Indiana, colorway is 001), and the top left is Patons Kroy Sock, in Sing N the Blues Stripes.

Here’s the soon-to-be-knitted baby beret for Baby Autumn.  The pattern is from Plymouth Yarns.  The yarn is from a very cute little yarn store called Knitterly, in Petaluma, CA.  You don’t need to go all the way to California to shop there, either.  They have an online store, too.

Autumn's Beret

Autumn’s Future Beret

A sweater coat for Cheryl.  The pattern is Aran Duffle Coat by Judith L. Swartz from the Fall 1999 Interweave Knits magazine.  Pattern is available free on Knitting Daily.  I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Bluebird.  I have 2/3 of the back done so far.

Cheryl's Coat

Duffle Coat

And a scarf for the Diva.  Red Heart Sashay Mini.  Neon colors – Glow.  Pattern is from the label.

Diva Scarf

Diva Scarf

Like I said, so much to knit and so little time to do it!

Suicide is NOT selfish…

I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out how to say just this. Suicide isn’t about being selfish, or thinking only of yourself. It’s about a depth of pain and despair that most people will (blessedly) never experience. Having been there and come out the other side, I know how it feels. People who commit suicide are, in my opinion, some of the most unselfish people in the world. You can’t possibly know how hard living can be until you’ve faced down that choice.

Deciding to NOT kill yourself is probably one of the most incredibly painful things a person can do in that situation. Let’s talk about selfish. Selfish is smoking when you know that it can make your child, who is forced to sit in the car with you, very ill. Selfish is drinking and then deciding that it’s OK to drive the two blocks to get home. Selfish is eating your Subway 12″ sandwich while staring into the eyes of a homeless person who hasn’t eaten in a couple of days. Selfish people have more money than they could ever spend, and still feel that people on food stamps are “gaming the system.” Selfish is whatever one person does, knowing that someone else is suffering due to that action or for the lack of whatever the benefit is. I’m pretty sure that dying isn’t depriving anyone else of death. Putting an end to pain that you suffer silently is not selfish. Selfish is what the people who know you’re in pain are, when they turn away. Every time you judge someone with an illness – whether it’s mental or physical – you’re the selfish one. People suffer from depression and other mental illnesses suffer in silence and in secret because society as a whole won’t tolerate less than that. Society says “I don’t care how much it hurts. I don’t want to have to see that.” No one cares how hard it is to talk to other people, or get out of bed. Who really gives a crap about how much effort it takes to get to work in the morning, as long as the rent and water bill gets paid? One of the most often asked questions is “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Mental illness requires justification. When it comes to physical illness, there’s no question of justification. No one asks a cancer patient if they really need chemo. The need for Prozac, and Xanax, and Valium is routinely questioned. Visits to a rheumatologist for Lupus are not used during your work review to determine your value to the company. Visits to a therapist or psychiatrist often are. The need to take time off for surgery is understood without question. The need to take time off for depression is looked upon as a personal failing. A person with advanced cancer can choose to discontinue treatment in exchange for a higher quality of life in the final months. A person suffering from mental illness is expected to life a life made infinitely worse by medication, no matter what. There are innumerable research projects searching for better, less debilitating treatments for chronic physical illness. Every effort is made to address medication side effects such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, mental fog, and dozens of others for people with atrial fibrillation, or high cholesterol, or cancer. Very few studies are going on to address the same side effects of psychiatric drugs, leaving the patients to live lives that would be considered intolerable to someone with a physical illness. Suicide is not the way out of depressions, except in a visceral way. Ending your life doesn’t solve the problem in any way that is meaningful to society. Suicide ends the problem for the one person most intimately involved. It does get everyone else off the hook. The ones left behind can blame the victim by calling him selfish, saying she was weak, and declaring that he gave up. A woman who dies of breast cancer is never decried at her funeral as having given up, though. Where are the people who acknowledge how very brave a suicide is for having struggled for so long through so much pain? Where is the compassion that could have saved that person? person who kills herself declares open season on character assassination. It’s perfectly OK to comment at the funeral on the lack of personal integrity he showed in taking his own life.

I wish there was a way to show you how incredibly difficult depression and mental illness is. There should be some way to put into words just how much strength and fortitude it takes to get out of bed in the morning when your body feels like it weighs tons and has been chained down. How it feels to feel nothing. What it is like to pretend to have feelings of any sort. There are no words to express how much you want to be with people, but how hard it is to listen to them. I watched this video yesterday, and it came close.

Maybe you’ll understand.