Category Archives: psg

Yearly Update

It’s been a year.  A good one, a bad one, a trying one, and a long one.  It’s really closer to a year and a half. I did get croned, just not when I thought I would.  We got to PSG, and it was wet.  Really, really wet.  It was so wet, we were flooded out.  The pictures are from the Wild Hunt article on the event.

Parking Lot Campground Tents

 

It was crazy.  Water was up to our knees.  If we hadn’t had the camper, we would have floated away.  Several people lost their cars and all their camping stuff, but amazingly, there were no people injured, and close to 1000 people helped each other, supported each other, and vacated the campground in an orderly manner.  Needless to say, the croning never happened.

Fast forward to this year.  It was beautiful, albeit really, really hot.  The temps were close to 100F with humidity in the 80-90% range.  Around 800 people still came, and it was great.  I participated in all the croning activities, but it was so hot and I was so miserable.  I had a pleural effusion – a pocket of fluid in my lung – and breathing under normal circumstances was difficult.  The heat and humidity made it almost intolerable.  Then, in the middle of the week, I fell out of the shower house and badly sprained my ankle.  Thanks to the above and beyond assistance of the medical crew at PSG, I was still able to complete the week and go through the ceremony.  It was, though, not what I’d hoped it would be.  Certainly not due to anyone other than me, though.  I was physically miserable, and having a very bad time with depression.  I felt I could have gotten so much more out of it if I’d been in better condition, mentally and physically.  In the end it was a wonderful and moving experience, but I almost want to do it over so I can be completely present and invested in the process.

fire

 

PSG minus 14 days 14 hours

Getting close, peeps.  We’ve got the camper open and airing, and the water tank disinfecting.  The faucet has a leak, but we’ll worry about that after the trip.  Sarongs are washed and ready to wear, and my new dresses arrived.  My croning staff has had the bark stripped and is ready for some sanding, then sealer.  staffI’m going to mount a stone in the top.  Moonstone, amethyst, garnet?  Which one?  You can’t see in this picture, but the top has a small fork in which to mount the stone.  I’m leaning towards moonstone, since I already have one.  I was also thinking of mounting a couple of marble in some little outcroppings at the sides.  More pictures to come.

Also needed is a chair to serve as my throne, and a crown.  I’m not ashamed to say I feel a little silly having a crown and a throne, but I won’t be the only one so, so be it.  I have a chair that I’m going to paint.  Here’s the designs I’m using as inspiration.

chair4 inpiration

 

 

 

 

chair3

chair1 chair2

 

 

 

 

 

The purple paisley is the top contender. Although I love the moon on the table.  The chair is very similar to the bottom right chair, but with two slats instead of three. No arms.  I have to decide today and get the paint.  It will definitely have purple and black and red.  It will also be a work in progress, since I can’t hope to finish it in two weeks.

The crown is another thing altogether.  I’m hoping to find something once I get to Stonehouse.  I’m sure some vendor will have something.

I’m knitting, of course.  I have a pair of kilt host that were commissioned awhile ago, and I need to finish them very soon. One is almost done, and should be finished today.  The other will be started tomorrow and hopefully done by next weekend.  They’re going to be beautiful!  They would make awesome boot socks, too, with a sweet lace cuff you could fold over the top of the boot.  The yarn is Nature Spun by Brown Sheep in Ash (720S) and the pattern is Highland Scottische Kilt Hose, by Nancy Bush.

kiltsocksNot a great photo, since I’m in my office and it’s raining outside.  They’re an easy knit, other than the decreases to shape the calf.  That was tricky since you’ve got two lines of lace that converge on a third.  Other than that, though, they’ve been a fun project.  The book is awesome.  Along with the patterns you get some knitting history on the socks, something Nancy Bush excels at.

folksocks

Get the book.  Even if you don’t knit, it’s a great read.

 

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.

 

 

Post Sprititual Renewal Angst

So now we come to the part of the year that is the most contentious.  At least for me.  I have the most contradictory wants, feelings, and thoughts immediately after PSG than any other time throughout the year.  Everywhere I look, I see the ads competing for our money, appealing to our desires and vanities, urging us to follow or abandon our personal values.  Sounds rather extreme, doesn’t it?

At PSG, everything seems so straightforward.  Kind is good, mean is bad.  Helping is awesome, ignoring someone’s need is not.  Acts of quiet generosity are supreme, while taking from another without permission is loathsome.  I don’t pretend that everyone there subscribes to this, but for me, this is how it is.  There seems to be no ambiguity in the interpersonal rules when I’m there.

But then I come home.  No matter how much I try to maintain those principles and feelings, they fade quickly.  Not the underlying values, those are with me always, but more of the ability to follow through.  At PSG, there’s very little fear of being taken advantage of.  My inclination to help and to accept aren’t based on a barter system of feelings, but rather more of a pure intent.  It could be that there is no expectation of repayment when I’m there.  I don’t expect anything in return.  It’s nice to just do something for someone and know that their day was made a little nicer, easier, less stressful, or just plain better because of some little courtesy I have extended.  Not so in the "real world," or Mundania as many PSGers call it.

In Mundania, the overwhelming majority of all kindnesses are performed, by most people, with the full expectation that the kindness will be returned.  The young man holds a door open for a pretty girl in hopes that she’ll stop and talk to him.  The extra tip to the paper delivery person is in hopes that the paper will, indeed, actually be on the front porch.  Few people hold the door open for the young mother with a stroller unless refraining means the door will slam in her face.  Almost no one lets the shopper with just a few items go first, especially if the line has been long and the shopper’s cart is full. 

Beyond behavior, I’ve found that the dichotomy of values comes more brilliantly to my attention in ads on TV and print, both of which are in short supply at PSG.  For example, I was leafing through a More magazine this morning and saw an ad for Birkenstock sandals.  I had a pair for 10 years, but they died a sad death last year, so the ad caught my eye.  Then I noticed the facing page.  A stilletto platform shoe with red and tan leather was pictured, the article entitled "Stylebook: Fashion for Grownups."  That’s when this contradiction of wants, feelings, and thoughts really lit up my neurons.

At PSG, we’re earthy, unconcerned (for the most part) with appearance, very concerned with our spirituality and need for community.  For more than a thousand people to come together in a small space to camp, drum, dance, sing, and learn as a cohesive family of sorts is an amazing thing.  There’s always some that I don’t like very much, some I find very strange, some that find me very strange.  There are also people who have become my PSG family, who are new friends, old friends, and friends-to-be.  To illustrate some of the characteristics of PSG you need to picture a place where you can lose a wallet with cash in it, and find it turned into lost and found (a cooler left in a public place) with all the cash still there.  It’s a place where there are many vendors selling everything from clothing to candles to incense to crystals, but who feel comfortable leaving their shops to attend workshops without worrying about theft.  Forget to bring sunscreen?  Someone will have extra.  Tent developed an unfortunate leak?  Ask around – there is always someone who brought an extra "just in case."  Having an emotionally difficult time with anything at all?  Stop by Psyche’s Grotto, because there is certain to be a certified therapist available to help you get through it, and if not, there is no lack of available shoulders for you to lean on.  Want to wear that plaid kilt with a striped shirt you love?  That’s cool.  Awesome kilt, by the way.  Fashion is completely relative at PSG. 

Then we all come home.  Back to the bills, the sullen neighbors, the grouchy bosses, the massive unpacking and cleanup.  That first day back is always a shock to my system, and I almost always end up going to bed early.  Tomorrow is just fine for going back to real life.  Well, now it’s tomorrow.  Real life is cleaning up the house, reviving my poor houseplants, lettings the dogs know that I didn’t leave them forever and that I still loved them.  Real life is having my grandchildren over for the day and making jello, watching him play the PS3, and coloring as much of the driveway as possible with her and the sidewalk chalk.  It’s making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off, doing laundry, unloading the camper, and mentally preparing for work tomorrow.

That’s when the true dichotomy hits me.  As I do all these "day after PSG" things, dressed in my tank top and wrap skirt (hippi clothes, as Micah calls them), I wonder what to wear tomorrow.  Makeup or no?  Headscarf (this year that was my preferred PSG hairstyle)?  Probably not.  It’s back to Mundania in the truest sense.  PSG equals relaxed, no makeup, no haircolor, letting my gray shine to the world, doing what I want for anyone without worrying it will be taken the wrong way.  Work means makeup, "appropriate" clothes, constant worry that my gray hair is holding me back (from what?  from where?), and policing my inclination to do random acts of helpfulness in check, lest someone feel obligated to do something for me in return. 

It’s like there are two of me.  The one is so much more real, genuine, and open.  No getting annoyed while driving, no feeling the pressures of time.  Cheesecake?  Sure!  I am still me at 215 pounds, and eating a piece of cheesecake doesn’t alter me in any fundamental or meaningful way.  The other me reads articles on "A Better Body With Age: Real Women’s Inspiritn Stories."  Worries that the wrap skirt should really wrap a little more, because us fat older women shouldn’t be showing any leg.  Stops in the hair dye aisle way too often, torn between that awsome L’Oreale Golden Blond or the Medium Golden Brown that used to be my hair.  Feeling late to work when I arrive at 7:40, when 8:00 is the actual start to the day.  I yearn for the first me to take over, to kidnap and dispose of the second me.  At the same time, I envy the second me – knowing that she is the one the world is more comfortable with.  Knowing that the second me is the one who could be 140 pounds of sexy older woman, with perfectly styled Golden Blond hair and fashionable shoes and a pencil skirt.  Neither one is really me, though, and I know this.

What I don’t know, is who is the real me?  I think I’m part of both – a dichotomy in my own self.  I realize that the problem isn’t the wrap skirt vs. the pencil skirt.  The problem is in having my values defined by my environment – PSG vs. Mundania.  Being true to the women’s libber that was surgically implanted in me in the 60’s, while being forced into the modern world where makeup is queen and a promotion could hang on just the right amount of makeup to be youthful while still looking mature.  No one can live happily with that dualality.

Solution?  I haven’t got one.  My answer has been to keep two separate worlds.  My personal space of wrap skirts and birkenstocks takes over at the end of each day ruled by khaki pants and the appropriate application of makeup.  I think it’s no wonder that people, especially women, are more anxiety and depression prone than ever before.  I think we need a better way.  I just don’t know what thay way will look like.

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