Eclipsed and Bitter

And tongue-in-cheek as ever. That’s a good sign.

I’m recording my thoughts in real time, to edit and add to during the day from my desk. My ugly, utilitarian desk in a warehouse in a ugly industrial complex in the bowels of Salt Lake City. I should be enjoying the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE, complete with good viewing weather, and that amazing, once-in-a-lifetime solar corona, in my beautiful, mythic Western Idahome.

But I’m not. Because my family sucks. And I fit right in, ‘cuz I suck the hardest!

I’m getting my wicked sense of humor and strange spirituality back, the dance between naughty and nice I so enjoy about my life, and I’m on the road to recovery. But make no mistake: This day is not easy for me, and I’m very cranky about it.

IT WAS MY BIRTHRIGHT, you bastards!

Bitter is easier than weepy. *sigh*

I’m drinking a 6-pack of cold Coronas with lime after work to commemorate missing the cosmic corona of my life. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d experienced this day with my family, with God, and the Mormons.

So there’s that.

*SOUR!*

I’m quite enjoying full indulgence in this tantrum, if I’m honest. It’s fun, and a relief from pressure to call on the strength of my higher self. I’m actually doing much better emotionally, and in all other areas of life, having given myself permission to just be a brat. I’m not adulting today. Deal with it!

****

Hashtag This Is Happening!

The moment I saw the eclipse beginning I started maniacally hooping in the parking lot of my ugly industrial building, and making a TOTAL FOOL OF MYSELF, in honor of the total solar eclipse I’m still furious for missing. We’re visible from a very busy road, and I’m super out of hoopractice, so I looked gooood and foolish.

I’ve been laughing so hard!

God, it feels good!

It’s been a long time since I did anything other than cry and rage. Hardest summer/romantic break-up/familial divorce/pet emergency of my LIFE!

Seriously, Universe? Why you gotta pile on? What else you got for me?! I can take maybe one more thing, and then you better lay off while I do the work of getting myself re-situated and well.

Let this partial solar eclipse – that I’m pissed as hell about – be that one more thing, the cosmic smack-down that I’m finally willing to listen to, and have done with it. 91% is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

And guess what? I accept it. OK, Universe? I accept. I’m okay with that right now.

I am chastened, humbled, reminded, censured, redirected, embraced. I’m ready now.

And I’m having fun! I’m so relieved.

*sigh*

****

Well, I just hula hooped for an hour in my parking lot with coworkers. I don’t even have jealousy in my heart for missing the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE in my Idahome town.

91% ain’t bad, folks. Not bad at all. I’ll take it! … With joy, with zeal, and maybe even a modicum of humility for a minute.  

*sigh*

My mom always warned me, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Dare I say it? … Mother was right.

That really was cosmic, and I feel great.

bowing to the mother

warehouse meeting~ Supervisor Mark getting in on the ridiculous ~

When I learned my boss had gone to Burning Man one year, and came to know more about his wonderful wackiness, I started saying, “I KNEW this was the right job for me!”

He’s been a great friend and colleague.

(I’m not the best hooper – won’t devote myself to consistent practice – but one thing I’m good at is getting the shy-folk to JUST TRY IT. I won’t take no for an answer, whether you like it or not, and I love this pic of my colleagues in the hoop.)

We’ve been Eclipsed.

corona

I ended a beautiful day with Corona-and-lime to commemorate the Solar Corona I missed not going north to Idaho. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d spent the eclipse with my family, with God, and the Mormons. Perfect!

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Mother/Daughter Date

I should be at the Hyrum, Utah, cemetery right now. My mom, grandma, and I had plans to visit the graves of our ancestors, Sarah Ann Haigh and Louis Frederick Miller. Sarah Ann survived the crossing of the Martin Handcart Company.

We had tickets tonight to the Utah Opera Festival’s performance of Pirates of Penzance, one of my favorite musicals. They’re going without me.

This time last year was grandma’s 90th birthday. I drove all the way to Idaho, only to have a nervous breakdown and leave the campground in the middle of the night.

I’ve ruined everything. What’s the point of living a life like this?

All I’m hearing about these days is the total eclipse of the sun passing over my hometown, Rexburg, Idaho. It will be a 91% eclipse here in Salt Lake, but I wanted to go home. I mean, what are the odds? 100%!

I’m so sad.

The thing is, I didn’t ruin it. I had a breakdown, but it was ruined already. I can’t live the lie when my defenses are down. I tell myself they love me. I tell myself they care how I feel, how I’m treated. But when I’m depressed, when I need anything from them, they tell me what I’ve always known. I do not matter to them. Shut up, Christie. Shut up.

On the other hand, my grandmother has nothing to do with this. Am I really just going to let her life play out and never see her again? I was so excited to share this day with her, especially after I ruined last year. And I did ruin it, for myself. They still had a wonderful party, but I’m sure it was painful for her to see me and then have me disappear in the night after being rude and irritable.

I shouldn’t have gone. I almost didn’t. I was so filled with regret, and I thought the drive would be cathartic, windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. I pictured myself joyful for having taken action, feeling immediately better for not depriving myself of the celebration. I’d organized a family outing on the zip line over Heise Canyon. I knew my mood would lift if I just got there. “Go, Christie! You’re punishing yourself because you’re depressed. Just go! You’ll be so glad you did.”

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it absolutely backfired. It was awful.

They forgave me. That’s something. That’s the thing, though. I’m sorry when I screw up. I take responsibility for my mistakes. No one ever apologizes when I’m done wrong, when I hurt. When I ask them to, they double down on the blame. It’s my fault. I caused or aggravated it, so it no longer needs to be accounted for. I deserve it.

Get over it, Christie. Shut up.

It’s maddening. It’s crazy-making. I really can’t survive there.

I’m so sad.

Down The Rabbit Hole

I’m swirling down the drain over here. It’s a new me and I don’t really recognize her. The old me would be in bed, unable to function. This one’s at work.

I’m actually better at my job in the midst of existential ennui. I’m nice.

I’m having the strangest feeling of having left the matrix, seeing things for what they really are, and returning to the mundane world. I feel like I have intel that few eyes have seen. I certainly never saw it before. It’s a cinematic moment.

Useless information, really. I learned that I’m a fucking idiot.

So, yeah. I’m creating a whole new persona over here. I don’t know what it’ll be.

I think life is about finding out what you’re afraid of. At least that’s what I’ve been doing. To restate, life is about nothing. What I’ve been doing is creating meaning.

I no longer think life is about finding any sort of answer or solution. It’s just what you look for. I’ve been looking for fear. I found it. My whole life has been a process of finding the scariest thing I can possibly imagine. The next thing to happen is I live it! Lucky me! What am I afraid of and what will it do to me? What won’t kill you.

That’s the end of that sentence. I have no cute platitudes for you.

Once upon a time – 5 years ago when I created this blog – I thought the meaning of life was to forgive. Why else would I have landed in such a shithole of a family? I was born to people who would abandon and abuse me before I could form memories, and never stop. Later, the abuse would become a uniquely mental form of torture called gaslighting. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. (Or look to the behavior of our prezident and figure it out from context.)

I’m afraid of pain, I know that. Now my only goal in life is to get out of it. I’ve conquered emotional pain, inasmuch as I’m in it. It won’t kill me. I have no expectations of relieving it, so I’m not trying anymore. I don’t need to. I know how to live with it.

I need nothing. I don’t need love. I don’t need money. I don’t need family. I have none of those things and I’m still here.

I need a roof. For now. I mean, if the apocalypse comes, well, on that day I’ll figure out how to live without a roof. We’re not there yet.

I feel like this blog has served its function. Five years ago, I moved here and created an address. At wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com, I intended to learn to forgive. I failed.

Whatever’s next, it doesn’t belong here. I won’t move until I have an idea what I want from my new experience. Til then, you can watch the transition, if you like, though I think that sounds unfathomably boring. For me, it takes the form of lists. Endless lists. Have at it.

I suspect my next goal in life might be to find out if I can get out of this new-ish physical pain. Interestingly, it entered my life 5 and a half years ago, just after the first divorce from my family of origin.

I might fail. I’ve done it before. I’m going to try.

My next blog will probably end up being an insufferable fitness journey. I don’t about you, but I’d rather indulge a stranger’s circuitous voyage through mental anguish than read online about how some bitch lost 30 lbs.

But I think that’s where I’m headed. I hate that girl already.

Hey! I know how to do that! Halfway there!

  • TASK ONE: Fucking downsize. I have too much shit.

It is nice that I work at an organization that takes donated items and does good with them. Or means to. I like that.

Oh, no. Intention does matter. My family means well.

Good for them. I’ll perch them above Hitler, Drumph and other despots on the spectrum of assholes populating or once populating the planet.

  • INSIGHT ONE: I’m still a fucking Pollyanna.
    Fuck.
  • INSIGHT TWO: I’m a nihilist. I believe in nothing. Even my angels are a lie. They seem to exist only to demonstrate what a fucking idiot I am.

My family killed Fun Christie.
End of transmission.

Fun With Numbers

Today, my odometer passed 144,444 when the trip meter read 22.22.

Last week, I saw license plates with double ones, twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, and sevens. “Alright, angels,” I issued the challenge. “If you show me eights and nines, I’ll be impressed.” I found eights, nines, and zeros! (I watch the road, too.)

On Sunday, I saw a plate that said Y73 9LV, which I took to mean 1973 9 lives. I saw a reminder to hang on. I don’t really want to anymore, but that’s what I read. Maybe it meant, “You’re almost done.” I like that better.

I’ve been crying since Friday. I finally told my father what my sister’s husband did to me 5 1/2 years ago. Naturally, I thought he’d be disappointed in his son-in-law and feel for me, but he dismissed the whole thing as my “perspective,” which clearly deserves no credence or compassion. I told him to ask my brother, who overheard it (and didn’t even come out of the room). (There was time.) I told him to ask my sister, who held her husband off of me, though she still denies it came to that.

My dad told me that if someone crossed the line in his house, he’d make sure they left, too. “You’d tell them to leave,” I said. “You’d be firm. You might even be angry, but you wouldn’t scream and curse at them. If they refused to leave or became combative, you’d remain calm and involve the police. They’d understand you were serious about protecting your home.”

“That’s what I would do,” he agreed.

“You would never physically threaten, menace, and terrorize a woman, run at her from upstairs, with your chest puffed out, purple-faced, fists clenched, veins popping, in your holy garments!”

“No,” he conceded, “I wouldn’t.”

How had I crossed the line? I was talking to my sister. It’s true we disagreed, but our voices never raised. We would quickly have come to understand each other, I imagine. If her husband hadn’t attacked me, I’m certain that my nieces, who witnessed the whole thing, wouldn’t have noticed the discussion at all. It wasn’t extraordinary.

He crossed the line! Even if we had been fighting, nothing can justify what he did. It was disgusting. It was violence intended to make me very aware of my vulnerability. I was meant to be terrified. And he didn’t tell me to leave the house. He just screamed, “Shut up, you bitch!” over and over and over. (I left.)

I told my dad that all these years I’ve dreamed that if he knew, he’d tell my sister’s husband he didn’t appreciate how he treated his daughter.

He defended him.

“Maybe you don’t consider me your daughter anymore.” He didn’t say otherwise. I really thought he’d find Dan’s behavior inappropriate. I would, even if I hated the person he did it to. It was wrong.

I don’t think I appreciated what that daddy rescue fantasy meant to me. It was ridiculous. My mother beat me for 19 years. He was there for 9 of them, and did nothing. When I finally punched her back… Well, she had me on the ground again, kicking the shit out of me. I finally stood up. Dad’s the one who kicked me out, and that was that. No one’s ever apologized.

(Incidentally, she had ripped my pajama top off. My father saw my naked breasts. In fact, he kicked me out while I standing there topless, still catching my breath.)

What should I have expected from the man who, when I confessed on my 17th birthday  that I wanted to kill myself, explained paternal responsibility to me? He thought of himself.

My father said that when he married my mother, he had made a commitment to God that he would protect and provide for our family.

“I’m the head of this family,” he explained. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it. I thought he was about to say, “And without you, it wouldn’t be this family.” I thought he was going to tell me I mattered.

Here it was! He was going to tell me he loved me. I was special to him. To someone.

“Until you’re 18,” he continued. “I’m responsible for what happens to you.”

“Kill yourself next year,” is what I heard.

He was afraid of getting in trouble with God! He didn’t care about me at all. He should have wrapped me in his arms. He should have cared that I was in pain.

Not one person in my family has apologized for what Dan did to me. Not to take responsibility; Only he can do that and he’s not sorry. But I want someone to see me in here, to see that I’m hurting, that 5 1/2 years later this hasn’t gone away for me. Not one person has hugged me, held me while I cried, or told me they were sorry to see me in pain. Not one person has said, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” No one cares.

I should have protected the dream, I think, and never asked them to.

I was stunned to learn how truly unloved I am. I really didn’t understand how complete their disregard was. As far they’re concerned, I don’t deserve their concern. I’ve chosen a life of sin; I don’t matter. They absolutely do not care.

My heart is breaking.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt loved. I don’t know that I could at this point.

I didn’t expect to be so upset. I just didn’t get it. I was living in a fantasy world. Well, yeah. The angels speak to me through numbers, but I believed this one. I needed it.

I don’t think they’re awful. I know they mean well. That’s different from saying they did their best. They didn’t, but it’s still true that they’re decent folk. They mean to do good, but they’re profoundly misguided. They’re sick. I mean, I’m sick. There’s a reason.

It’s best to divorce them for good. I’ve tried everything. I can’t keep doing this to myself. They literally make me sick. I need to recover at last and let these wounds become well-healed scars. I know that others have survived worse things. Some have gone on to live fulfilling, joyful lives, so certainly I can at least get by without this searing pain.

I have 9 lives. I have to be close to the end of those. Surely, I’ve saved the best for last.
chosen family

Oh God, this just keeps getting worse. I just asked my brother Aaron why he never stepped up for me, and he said I’ve rewritten history. He said he doesn’t remember Dan ever saying, “Fuck you, you bitch.” Neither do I. I’ve never said that.

Aaron just told me basically what my dad believes. So they’ve talked about this before. HE’S REWRITTEN HISTORY, TO DEFEND DAN! He told me he doesn’t remember any cursing or profanity, and that Dan never raised his voice! He did! He screamed, “Shut up, you bitch!” over and over and over. I know, because I was screaming back the whole time, “All I’ve ever said to you is thank you! Thank you for being a good provider! Thank you for being a good father,” which is easier than the truth, that my nieces know their daddy loves them, so long as they don’t deviate from his very narrow command on what they must be and act like. Over and over and over and over, until my sister screamed his name and I ran upstairs. (Melanie almost never yells, and she was pushing her whole body weight into her husband to counter-balance the rage of his violent lunge at me.)

A couple of times he said, “Don’t you ever stop talking!?” Hahahahahaa! and “You ARE a bitch!”  (That’s my favorite. He actually thinks I didn’t know his opinion of me. God, he’s stupid. All strong women are called bitch.)

“Shut up, you BITCH!” (I was playing nice for 20 years! I coulda made him miserable! “You call me bitch? Watch out! You’ve never met my bitch!”)

I didn’t say that. I just said thank you. Over and over and over until Mel yelled his name and I ran upstairs. IT HAPPENED.

I can’t believe this. I can hardly breathe. I was counting on Aaron. At this point, I don’t think he’s lying, but he is wrong. He was my only witness. I thought he’d step up for me, but he forgot the truth and sold himself and the whole damn klan a lie. He lied! To protect him! I’m losing it! They care so little they’ve rewritten a history that completely and utterly vilifies me. It nullifies me! It erases me.

Aaron, the one ally I thought I had left, has rewritten a history that protects that man.

That’s it. That’s all I can handle. That’s it. I’ve found it. I cannot handle any more than this. It happened. I’ll tell you what it is: It happened to me. That’s why it doesn’t matter.

And I’ll tell you who remembers: Dan. He knows what he did.

I’m not kidding, I can hardly breathe. Aaron was the one person I thought had my back. He was the one person I trusted. And he’s been telling them the whole time it never happened! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

I’m such an ass. Of course they’ve discussed this before. That’s what they do. They get together and judge me. Then they find ways to make it all my fault, so they never have to take responsibility for the things they do to me. Then they tell themselves they’re good people, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Oh my god, I’m so stupid. I don’t want to wait another 5-10 years for my cats to die. I want to kill myself today. Oh my god.

(Aaron took me to the bus station the next morning. “I don’t want to put words in your mouth,” I said to him, “but I wouldn’t mind if you told Dan you didn’t appreciate how he treated your sister.”

He said nothing. Now I know why. It happened to me, so it didn’t matter. And now he’s rewritten history. Worse, he’s forgotten. Dan first screamed, “Shut up, you bitch,” from the top of the stairs. He was right next to the room Aaron occupied with his brand new bride. What followed is not just my perspective. It happened. My brother heard it. Dan yelled again and again, “Shut up, you bitch!” until I ran upstairs and hid, crying, not sleeping until I could get online in the morning and find a bus. It happened. And, like them, Aaron doesn’t care. It happened to me, so he said nothing. He did nothing. He lies like all of them. And he believes it. They all do! I don’t matter. Period.)

I’d love to know what Ali thinks. I’m afraid to assume – now that I have a picture of how the incident has shifted, at least in Aaron’s view, and what he’s has shared with our father – that she, too, has forgotten the hatred of women and seething, violent rage Dan betrayed that night. I just can’t imagine it, though! She’s such a strong, self-assured person. I just can’t fathom it. However, I also can’t imagine Aaron and Ali not discussing it thoroughly. They’re such a strong couple, with strong opinions, each, and respect and love for one another. I have to believe that she shares his memory of the event?

I’ll tell you, the only eye-witnesses other than my sister, who denied it completely right after it happened, only to come around when faced with evidence and EXCUSE HIM, because I “didn’t act afraid”: My nieces. (I was perfectly groomed after a life of violence to never show fear, duh. I’d die first before giving him that. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t positively terrified, and it certainly doesn’t mean he didn’t do it simply because he seemed to fail to achieve the desired frightened effect in me.)

They were very young, but I just can’t imagine they don’t clearly remember the night Daddy’s thinly-veiled hatred for Aunt Christie finally boiled over into dangerous, violent rage, the night Mom yelled at Dad for the first time ever, probably the last. Melanie is gentle, but she was scared, too. I can’t imagine the moment Daddy called Fun Aunt Christie a bitch, over and over again at top volume, isn’t seared on their brains.

They don’t have challenging personalities and they are all decidedly, devotedly Mormon, and they love do him. He’s their Daddy, their hero, as a papa should be. I want that for them. That’s why I thanked him that night. I had been for years.

It’s true I’ve never liked him, or what he’s done to my family. He’s a shameless racist, homophobe, misogynist bigot. We didn’t spend every meal denigrating Others and explaining and rehearsing our hatred of difference until Dan joined our family. I’m endlessly disappointed my dad didn’t notice the shift in conversation, but instead joined and emboldened it.

Years ago, I consciously chose to focus on the positive. My sister was happy. Dan had succeeded in ways my biological father hadn’t. And he had a talent with animals, which says a lot about a person. So I started pointing out his strengths and successes. I even gave him a church magazine I found about Daddy/Daughter dates as the oldest, Rachael, was entering her teens. He didn’t know what to do with kindness from me, so after a brief experiment to reach out, I decided to live side-by-side in the same family, with no personal involvement together. I would always speak up against prejudice. It was never a secret where I stood or when I disagreed. It’s wrong not to speak out against wrong. And my nieces needed to understand that they were never alone, no matter who they were or would become.

There’s the slimmest chance Rachael would remember accurately. She’s the oldest, and she’s an artist. She’s had the most challenging relationship with her father, but that is still cohesive compared to anything I’ve ever known of relationships.

Finally, I could never ask one of those horrified innocents to recall or report on when they witnessed. But having lost my one ally, I’m sorta dying here. My mind clamors for anyone else that was there, anyone to remember me. Anyone to see. Anyone to care.

SOLD! (in half an hour!)

Since I started making drums, my cousin has been talking about buying one. Yesterday, I posted my most recent and she messaged on the spot, “That’s my drum!”

It was really interesting, because I had only that moment got a sense of the drum’s energy, and added that thought to the description of my experience with it. The moment I saved the edit, she messaged. I think it was her energy I felt! I really do. It was thrilling.
moon-drum
13″ on wood frame, w/ mallet
$200 (family discount price $100)
(You could talk me down, too. Order yours today!)
1.11.17

This is my first departure from the original sun/ sunflower center (sort of), and I’m really happy with it. I struggled deciding what colors to tenatively map out. Usually, I can picture how each color option will look on each round, how it will “speak” to what came before it, and how it dictates what remains. I could not get a picture in my head! This is no small thing. I was in fits and couldn’t proceed for over a week. Ultimately, this one ended up completely surprising me, and it was so exciting!

I also didn’t “trance out” as much with this drum. What’s happened with others is a mindless escape that I don’t notice until … well, until I notice it, I guess, and then that drum has its signature somehow. Their personalities really come out of absent imagination. This drum was exciting in a very cerebral way. I concentrated and stressed quite a bit, but I feel more proud, almost. I have that satisfied sense of hard work paying off.

There is a feeling to it. Except for that spectacular lavender burst, it has a softness. Mostly, I just think it’s beautiful.

SOLD!!! To my cousin JoAnna!
I KNEW this drum felt gentle! It suits her.

drum corner.jpg

I love this little corner!

I was going to clean the house yesterday and run some errands. Instead, I decided to eat marijuana and have a day of ceremony and dancing with my cousin’s drum. Oh man, I had some visions! Or I was stoned. Whatever. Powerful, wonderful, hilarious, joyful day.

(P.S I didn’t “trance out” with this drum because I didn’t eat funny brownies making her, haha! I haven’t quite recovered from that deathly flu – A MONTH AGO, grrr – and felt lousy. Didn’t want to waste good communion on a body with no strength or energy. I didn’t mention that on that description above, because I post those on Facebook and my sweet Mormon mother sees me there. She knows, but, you know. )

(Btw, the flu triggered a son-of-a-bitch of a Fibro flare. Like, one of the worst that just will not relent. I have no time for it, because I’m rehearsing a show and I don’t pace myself there. OWWWW! Marijuana helps, a lot, but I can’t walk around talking about Spirit all the time. People think I’m crazy enough with a filter!)

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

I Needed That

new-moonI finally made it to a New Moon Sister Circle. It was just what I needed to snap out of it! We discussed what the new moon in Virgo might look and feel like, and my friend Bonnie said, “I’m just glad Mars is out of retrograde!”

“Is that what’s been going on?” I asked.

All of the women laughed and exclaimed. Everyone, it seemed, had an example of how she was either contrary or useless.

I’ll take it! I’m content to chalk it up to the stars and let it go. I’ve been beating myself up trying to demystify and define that months-long funk, but now I don’t feel so much pressure to learn something from it. It’s done. I’m fine.

The next day, I went to my niece’s wedding and had such a lovely visit with my family in Idaho. The reception was at my sister’s house. It was a dream country wedding, with hay bale couches covered in denim comforters, kids running everywhere, and chickens clucking and crowing in the background. I can’t think of a more pleasant time I’ve shared with my family. I got to hold my first grandniece, all of 2 weeks old and only 6 lbs!

My roommate and I went back to his ranch for Labor Day. It was a wonderful follow-up to my own family visit. His family made me feel right at home, and we spent the evening singing Broadway hits, old classics, and camp-style rounds.

Yesterday, we went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. Today, we canoed, rode horses, and I chopped wood.

Oh, and I finished my drum!mandala

on casper

Casper the Friendly Horse got a little feisty, especially when Bella kicked in front of us!

riding horseschopping wood 4

Aug. 28th, we climbed to Timpanogos Cave National Monument.stalagtitesdripping rust

Here’s one from my artist niece’s Blessingway on Aug. 12th. blessingway
5 days later, Violet arrived! ~ August 17, 2016 ~violet
On Sept. 2nd, my sporty niece married a fellow marathoner.kolten-and-em