I have suffered from chronic depression for many decades. I have been to therapy numerous times and have been medicated for many years, but it never really leaves me. I also realize that I have a particular level of anxiety as a constant in my life.
But I also have a deep and abiding intellect, and a desire truly to just make art. More or less constantly. There is, as I have said before a certain joy in staying in and creating, to walking the same paths over and over again. It has a calmness to it, a steady beat like a heart.
I realized that part of the wanting to stay in, wanting to stick to a known path is a type of anxiety. I have to think about this more.
I am like the toll keeper at the creek side bridge, holding my lantern aloft in the night, who goes there? My imposter self is laughing and calling me the troll under the bridge. I ask myself which is more accurate, and I am unsure. Really unsure if I am either, but what I am not is a wayfaring stranger. Maybe a jackass crossing the bridge to get to the clover on the other side.
It is hard for me to believe how long ago I started this blog and how much I have neglected it pursuing other things. My business though is doing really well. I went through my Venmo accounts and realized I have made more sales this year than in the previous full years. I am super happy that it continues to grow.
I however am a mess. For some reason my immune system is not working well. Its likely because I was not sick from March of 2020 until kids came back to school full time this year. But the last month has been horrible. Hopefully its all done now. Crossing my fingers and dotting my eyes on that one.
The other night as I was recovering from a stomach virus I sat by my window and watched and listened as multiple flocks of geese flew north. I have been too sick to walk around the yard and look at all my budding spring flowers. I will tonight with my granddaughter, it will make her whole week to be outside and looking at plants. The kid was born to be in fresh air. She wants to study fungi when she grows up.
The full moon was setting this morning beautiful in the fog by the river and in the pink and purple sky.
All life is a blessing, even in troubled times there are moments of beauty, music that sings in the voices of the birds, and the love of family.
I have more or less cut off contact with my mom. it is too painful to be at the receiving end not only from her but from others who are laying blame on my shoulders as though i set out to prove her diagnosis. prove being the operative word. I did set out to figure out what was wrong with her, and it was the doctors who diagnosed. i am a weak person, i do not fair well under pressure, people mocking me, people undermining me, people who are dishonest, people who make false accusations, and since I decided to remove myself, my blood pressure has dropped from 150/94 to 130/78. so i guess there is some good in this decision.
i wonder sometimes if my mom had post partum depression when i was born, it would explain so much about the fraught quality of our lifelong interactions. i always said she hates me, but maybe its not that so much as she just never bonded with me. she tells this story about how i was in my crib crying for my da and my ba and how my dad smacked my butt when he got home and said there is your da and put a bottle in my mouth and said here is your ba. Its always been a story about what a pain in the ass i was, but really its a story about how she didn’t pick me up and cuddle me when i needed someone.
i am though feeling a certain complacency about it, the serenity this decision has created in me is an unusual feeling, i have never had peace in my heart in regards to my mom, too many overheard conversations calling me a bitch, a fucking bitch, too many triangulations where i was the weak link, too many things in my life damaged from my own mental healthy in regards to this lifelong struggle.
I dreamed last night of my dad, he wanted to get the wood in for winter, and I wanted to wait until closer to Christmas, then the unusual warm fall turned to winter in one day. As it does some years. I dreamed of my friendand artist Adriana Meiss, who passed a few years ago, she was having a big party and all there was to eat was chocolate chip bisquets and she was living in a big old whi8te Victorian house, not the half hoarded one she actually lived in, in the country. I was stuffing the bisquets in my mouth and they were so fluffy.
In the morning I wake and I am as always barely on time, but along the way the sky was first on fire, then painted in hues of peach and blue and that grey lavender of the clouds; the sun was a fluorescent red on the horizon and nearing work a paintbrush slash of a rainbow, then a double.,
Am I doing, are we doing the right thing by my mom? Always a refrain in my mind these days.
She insists we are not and garners allies against us. Well meaning relatives. Who aren’t here. And suspicious cousins, who are here for nefarious reasons, like a plot in a bad Lifetime movie. And friends who are likely being friends and saying oh honey you are fine.
I hearby grant my friends the right and courtesy of honesty if my child is indicating that I have dementia please listen to her. I trust her implicitly.
But we have seen things, heard things, and are concerned about some very serious changes.
You know when a woman(person) is in labor and goes through transition? That place between pains and and birth action? This transition period is a time when the woman is done with everyone’s shit. Kind of like the crone period of a woman’s life… This is where we are in the world of dementia.
A year ago my mom was diagnosed with some kind of cognitive impairment. The stories began to repeat not every visit, but throughout the visit. A loop of 15-20 minutes, there were other changes too, when the alarm was sounded, it became our mission to manage this disease, to get everything in place and make sure my mom could stay independent as long as possible.
The steps we take to make this decision are not done lightly, it involves hours on the phone, reading, research, doctors appointments, tests, and modifications. And there is nothing simple about getting someone who has no short term memory to understand and to remember to understand why we are doing these things. Add in a heaping portion of stubbornness, some mild narcissism and whatever other personality issues a person has, next you add in your own power and control issues, your own trauma, and your own personality issues, and now you have utter chaos. Chaos intermixed with fear, lack of knowledge/comprehension, and love, and anger and whatever other natural emotions a person feels and you have a cup of vinegar and some baking soda ready to go.
I feel lucky that I have my brother, sister, and daughter, my cousin is a free radical and although he is physically helping my mom he is making things so much harder because he is not on the same page, nor is he in the same book, the reasons why are up for debate, is it love? desire for an inheritance, stupidity/drug and alcohol addled brain who knows. But its a mess.
There is so much grace in handling this alone. I cannot fathom how it feels to deal with these things, without someone to help you, to listen. And on this front I am so lucky too that the social worker at geriatric doctor is not only dealing with this in her own family, but is super helpful with resources, advice, and just being a sounding board.
I need a space for this, and if anyone else is dealing with this issue of dementia, feel free to reach out. If you are on your own or fighting a free radical/lone electron, Please comment. If you are not ready to talk, Like and subscribe. Maybe we can find some common ground.
…change the pebbles of our puddly thought to orient pearls.
I have this neighbor, our friendship began when i moved here, to this country home. Laughter, nights by the fire, alcohol, jokes and pranks played on each other. Admonished gently by my giant, but when i check with the hunter, he tells me you are all good, honey, and hsi lady laughs and says, don’t worry about it at all.
The small gifts of jars of jelly, and permission to walk his land, to forage wild strawberries and pine needles, the occasional venison, a painting I did on his wall, surely they give more than I, I am terrible at such things.
And then at his Mom’s funeral I suddenly understand, and I also find a deeper way to accept myself. not that I spend alot of time thinking about it as much anymore. His lady tells me about his Mom, how she never held anything back, she cussed, and she spoke her truth and as the lady describes her she is looking at me and grinning. Suddenly it hits me why I get along so well with the hunter, he reminds me of my dad, quiet, loving, a man of few words, a presence without artifice. And, I remind him of his mom, I say this, and the lady says affirms my assessment and as the hunter’s family speaks of who she was, I see myself, lying on a blanket in the grass looking at clouds and finding the shapes with my grands. and at once I feel like all that I am should not be left to criticism, but that I should fall more wholly into myself.
Deep in the woods, and not just any woods, but ones that are old, and moss covered and spongey you may find that all the earth beneath the roots is gone and the lattice of roots and earth are all that remain. When this happens the winds can rock the tree and all that lattice work and whatever stands upon it. But the intertwining of all the roots keeps it intact, and if not then life continues does it not?
It may or may not continue as what we would call a living tree, but it does continue in some form or another, a home for a skunk, homes for mushrooms and toadstools, home for other life that lives in the richness of the tree’s remains.
This new life is different, no better, no worse, just different. Roots latch on and roots release, life continues. Older, wiser, less prone to the resentments, and more aware of areas where pain is triggered, areas where pain is released, areas where pain remains. Pain though is there and its real, one wonders if its the bite of a tick, the liver detoxify, the heart re-stitching itself, old age. but it is there. The breath moves in and out and like the tree, the body sways, and moves, to the changing days.
The wind it carries on it words, whispers, spoors and pollens, and the trees receive the messages via the stillness and the fury and all that exists in the inbetween. The branches and bean pods fall to the ground and fire is lit smoke rises up and magic is made. A prayer, a wish, a spell, a breath.
Red Jasper, Bloodstone and Garnet,
Toadstools in my neighbors yard, under a pine hedge.
May my words harm none, may my negative actions be forgiven, may you find peace.
Life is so incredibly perfect and I sit staring off into the distance feeling the warmth of the autumn sun on my black t-shirt. I think about the plants that grow wild amongst my cultivated perennials. The yarrow long left to leaves, the tansy picked and used to dye three skeins of handspun yarn, the last of the echinacea, the grapevine in the bucket at my feet. It is my fifty forth birthday and I am alone here at least for the moment. I pick up the twisted pile of wet vines and begin to form a circle. Life has a funny way to it, doesn’t it? The things you thought you could count on long gone, the rituals you once practiced, a faded memory that makes you wistful for someone that has passed on to the next level of consciousness, the life you want right in front of you, or perhaps not. There really are no guarantees are there?
I weave the vine around itself. I think of my strengths, my weaknesses and my gifts. The magic of my dreams to tell me things I shouldn’t know. The power of feeling family in times of emotional stress and death, the knowledge of plant medicine, the gift of my art, the insecurity that has plagued me for so long its like a cyst. Like tar. The anger, the dismay the lack of acceptance for this feeling. I realize I need to embrace this insecurity. Let it linger in my words and actions, let it describe me. I need to etch it on my skin. But also I need to know its simply a feeling, one that has generally not served me well, in fact can you think of anytime when insecurity served you?
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I am like this wreath in some ways, parts of me dead, parts still living, parts that grasp and parts that bend and parts that are toughened and hard to move. I marvel too at how all the plants here in this yard serve a purpose. The pokeberry, the grapevine, the ground cherry, the nightshade, the sumac, their ability to dye, to weave, to eat, to poison, and there is an bloom of understanding; these plants were once put here, likely by people, for their practical uses.
And as I sit here writing while I listen to a training for a second time, somehow it didn’t register the first time, ‘I think of my purpose. The practical, the spiritual, the crone, the gardener, the weaver, the artist, all the things I do and know that make me, me. I think of what it must feel like to lose this, this self. And in this moment I take a breath and let it all go.
I feel my power inside my belly, the center a bit of grit, the nascent, the breeze, the light and color through the mist of the morning, the sounds of birds singing, the water burbling, the wholeness of being there in the blue sky. There is a pressure, inside me, a desire for indomitability, swelling magic and intuition and creativity, the desire for recognition poking at me from somewhere, the desire to be fully immersed in this life and the wish to be able to afford it. I want to manifest this, published as a writer, known in an official capacity as an artist, an intuitive wisdom healer, a person of truth and integrity, respectful and respected,
To anyone I have harmed, I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you. I offer only love.
And just like that depression oozes in like a slow moving tidal wave, one you can see, but you cannot keep from taking the sand out from under you, taking out the carefully built and decorated shoreline, destroying the hanging lanterns and twinkling lights, pulling up stakes and embedded poles, smashing everything as it spreads slowly inward.
Meanwhile at the cool mountain retreat, water once crystal, sparkling and brisk, begins to muddy, and emits the stink of sulfur.
Grumpy and seated by a fire, with few logs to feed it, one is wrapped in ones thinnest blanket shivering against the wind that soars down the mountain.