Pain is Only a Symptom

I have been thinking about doing an update on the progress of the phoenix tattoo I began last June. I’m about 12 hours into the work and still have at least two more sessions to go. I won’t be posting pictures until it is completely done and healed, but I can honestly say it’s freaking GORGEOUS! My tattoo artist is creating a beautiful work of art, and I’m very honored to be the canvas. Jesse is A-maz-ing.

I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old. I have a sweet little swan about the size of a 50 cent coin on my left hip. After the first, I was hooked. I got another tattoo about a year after the first, but 10 years passed before I began to get more. I have nine tattoos altogether now, with the phoenix still in progress. Most of my body art can be completely hidden under clothes. Only my “permanent jewelry” (a bracelet and wedding ring) can be seen with any regularity. Like most (all??) people who have gotten tattoos, I’ve been asked many times if getting the tattoos hurt. My usual answer is, “Of course. All tattoos hurt, just a matter of how much per individual and location.” Though the bracelet didn’t actually cause me pain, just annoyance.

When I discovered kink (BDSM) over 20 years ago, I was surprised and oddly relieved to find that experiencing pain could be pleasurable. I also found that emotional pain could be released through physical outlets. I once begged a former lover to continue to physically hurt me during one intimate occasion because at least the emotional pain I was feeling due to a failing relationship could have some sort of release. He wisely stopped but the moment did let him know just how much I was hurting from the other relationship. That moment is when I understood how cathartic physical pain could be.

Experiencing physical pain became a way for me to release emotional pain that had built up over my lifetime. I have sought kink relationships ever since that one moment to help me let go of past hurts and heal the scars others had left on my heart. Husband Darling is a wonderful and gentle lover. He does what he can to indulge my kinks, but inflicting pain doesn’t sit well with him. In the seven years we have been together, I’ve gotten more tattoo work, including my wedding band. The ritual of being tattooed had become a spiritual experience for me aside from the cathartic release pain always has been. What a powerful experience body modification is!

How do you make your tattoo artist cry? Start sobbing mid-session. Yesterday’s tattoo session was painful both physically and emotionally. Jesse was hitting my metaphysical emotional center, and my mid-back seared with overwhelming pain. Tears were streaming down my face as I was finally able to grieve the loss of the relationship with Q’ouarin (Yeah, that happened recently, and no, I’m not discussing it). I’m feeling better today, but still a bit fragile from the experience and lack of sleep afterwards.

Each bit of art I’ve had stuck to my body has been worth every penny and all the pain. They mark different phases of my life, and the stories and memories I have during those times have been significant times for me. From coming of age to marrying the Love of my Life to celebrating transitions, I have something that will always remind me of where I was on my life’s Journey at various times. I am grateful for the catharsis of tattooing because it has helped me to heal in many ways.

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Reflections on 2014

I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything to my blog. I’ve spent most of 2014 with my head down and regrouping after the demise of the 4-corner relationship Husband Darling and I were in. Becoming a hermit was quite appealing for a time, but I also knew that what I truly needed was to withdraw from my very active social life to work on myself again. I had ignored my spiritual self for far too long. I realized I had taken a wrong turn on my life path and found myself lost. I asked the Universe for help with my spirituality and went back to where I knew I was happy–healing others. So I got my license and resume in order.

I applied at the place where I had been receiving massage for the past few years. The clinic administrator had already put forth a soft offer for me to work for her if other places didn’t work out for me. The day I dropped off my resume, I had an impromptu interview with the CA and the regional manager who happened to be in the clinic that day. I also did my practical (giving massage) to the RM then. I gave them my availability and was told to come back in three days for training. I started the following week and have been at that clinic for nearly a year now. I’ve amassed a loyal following in a very short time. By the time mid-September hit, not only was the rest of the month booked but so was the entire month of October! Most of my clients are regulars. Admittedly I have a few favorites, including a pregnant woman who is having her first child after many years of her and her husband trying to get pregnant. Oh! How I love working with expecting mothers! There is nothing more beautiful in my eyes than a woman pregnant with child.

Healing others has been my calling for well over a decade now. Being able to help others heal their bodies is gratifying and humbling. There are days when I’d rather be home because I am tired or want to spend more time with Husband Darling, but the pull of my clients motivates me to go. I am one of the lucky few who absolutely loves their job. The human body is endlessly fascinating, and I simply don’t get bored (unless someone just wants to be petted for their entire session). The unexpected bonus from working my very physical job is that I’ve lost inches throughout the trunk of my body.

Accepting my body has been a lifetime achievement. Once I had Kidlet my modesty button was pretty much removed. Hard to feel embarrassed when several people are looking and poking at my vagina before, during, and after labor. One of the things I taught my massage students is the sooner and more completely you can feel comfortable in your own skin, the better therapist you will be. Clients will be able to tell if you have body issues. Touch does not lie. If you feel uncomfortable, so will they. Moving regularly for hours at a time sculpted my body. When my bestie got engaged as asked me to be one of her matrons of honor, I set out to find a dress. I found something I liked online and went to the brick and mortar store to try it on. I knew I had lost weight/inches but not how much. I was amazed to discover I had dropped two dress sizes! I still get asked what I did to lose weight. I’ll even give all here my secret to successful weight loss:

  •  Belief that my job was good exercise so I should lose weight/inches.
  • Embracing a positive mental attitude.

That’s it. I really haven’t changed too much else in my life. I’ve been slowly changing over the years eating habits and healthier food choices. Working a physical job has helped me rebuild my strength and endurance. The pain I’ve been living with for years has lessened. More than anything else I’ve done, I fully believe that it’s my change of attitude that’s done the most good. I decide whether or not I’m going to have a good day. More often than not I wake up on the Awesome Side of the bed. When others ask me how I’m doing, my answer is almost always positive in some way. I stopped focusing so much on the bad and started focusing more on the good. I’m amused by the typical response of silence as they take that in or wait for the “bad news” that rarely comes. I’ve noticed that more and more of those who are closer to me have started focusing on what’s positive in their lives as well. Our conversations are usually full of happy news or troubleshooting problems instead of bitching about what’s wrong in our lives. I’m loving this trend! I’ve continued being positive even through social media. When I find myself answering someone’s post with anger or resentment, I scrap the whole thing unless I can find a positive, non-confrontational way to respond.

The nifty thing about social media is I’ve been able to meet and friend many wonderful people over the years. As I’ve told Husband Darling some of my Heart Family are people I simply haven’t met in person yet. In early November I picked up a few new followers on Twitter. One person in particular I was interacting with regularly almost from the start. He and his wife were somewhat new to polyamory and had been coming to meetups here in the Portland area for awhile now. My internet 6th sense kicked in and told me these were Good People. I offered to meet with them on a Friday after work, and we did. I immediately liked both of them and wondered if they’d be open to hugs, because as some of you know I’m a very huggy person. Lucky for me I didn’t even have to ask because Q’ouarin (the husband) asked me first. He hugs the way I love–full body and with enthusiasm.

From there forward things moved fast between us. We had our first date November 28th. Uty (the wife) and Q spent the long weekend over Christmas with us. Yes, Scrooge McKitten got over the bah! humbug! of the holidays and actually got into the Yule spirit. And remember when I stated earlier that I had asked the Universe for spiritual guidance? Yeah, that came in the form of Q’ouarin as well. He is a unicorn otherkin (more on this in a future post) and was looking for someone like me himself. The Universe answered us both, and boy! has it been a wild ride so far!

My life has changed and is changing rapidly for the better in just a few short weeks. I’m back on my chosen path of being Love and Light and expect I likely won’t recognize the person I am now in a year. I’m planning to write more, do more, and be more in the next year. I’m looking forward to all the exciting changes 2015 promises to bring.

Phoenix Rising

It all started with the decision to cut off my hair.

To fully comprehend the significance of this epiphany, I must direct you to this story I read shortly after I met Husband Darling. While there hasn’t been evidence to corroborate its veracity, the story resonated with me. I started to grow out my hair with the intention to never cut more than trimming from then on. I let it grow nearly to my waist. I deepened my spiritual connection and learned to listen to my intuition. Then I had this crazy idea to bleach my hair over a year ago near Yule. Crazy idea indeed because the process ended up damaging my scalp as well as my hair. I was having difficulty getting both back to healthy again.

After my relationship with Boyfling fell apart last fall, the urge to whack my hair off rooted in my brain. I wanted something good to come of it, so I looked into donating my hair to Locks of Love only to discover that bleaching renders hair unusable for making wigs. Having that wrench thrown into the cogs made me reconsider the wisdom of cutting my hair. After all I had done a lot of spiritual work in the process of growing my hair, and I did not want to lose everything I had forged over those years. Instead I chose to cut only 10″ off shortly before my 40th birthday hoping that would be enough. A few more months went by with me still having split ends and other issues. I saw it as a sign to literally “cut that Bitch out of my hair”.  I will be performing have performed a banishing ritual on Ostara for new beginnings and balance by burning the Bitch out of my life.

phoenix reborn

I grew out my hair because I wanted to reconnect my spiritual self to Nature and Mother Goddess. I fought cutting off my hair because I didn’t want to lose that link again. What I’d come to realize through this ritual is my connection was not severed, but the only way it would be clear and whole again was to remove, physically and symbolically, what had disrupted the flow. I feel just as strongly bonded to my spiritual self as I had been prior to muddling my path. All the spiritual gains I have made I have kept. To celebrate and complete this cycle in my life, I have scheduled the first sitting of many to start my Phoenix tattoo at the end of this month. I have felt Her trying to burn Her way out of my back for months now. I know when my Phoenix is finished the majority of the physical pain my body has been holding onto these past several years will finally be released.

I also decided I won’t be growing my hair back out again for awhile. Husband Darling says my spunky self has returned. I like feeling full of moxie and confidence again.  Unlike Samson shearing off my hair has made me feel stronger than I had been in far too long.

10 Happy Thoughts, 7-24-2013

1. Husband snuggles before he had to get up for work.
2. Kitty snuggles.
3. Walking with Boo and Mom.
4. Meeting a “new” neighbor.
5. Catching up with Mom.
6. Making plans with a friend.
7. Elk burger! Om nom nom!!
8. Making Boo giggle ’til it hurts.
9. Cute toddler with his grandparents.
10. Beautiful summer evening.

Walking three miles in about an hour is great progress for me. I was able to keep a good pace with both Kidlet and Mom. I’m fast discovering that now that my body is doing so much better, it gets very unhappy with me if I have poor body mechanics. Even at the end of this evening as tired as I am, my posture was damn good. Slouching hurts. My back has been frequently reminding me for the past week or so of that. Tomorrow I’m making sure Boo and I get an earlier start in the cooler part of the morning for our walk. The heat wasn’t horrid today, but with one of my meds making me photosensitive I don’t want to risk sunburn.

PS–What brought a smile to your face today? Please share in a comment. 😀

10 Happy Thoughts

A few years ago a friend introduced the idea of 10 Happy Thoughts every day to me. When he was younger struggling with type 1 diabetes and depression, his father suggested he look for positive things every day. “Something that made you smile,” as he challenged my friend to find ten of these moments throughout the day. I loved the idea of that challenge, and so for a few months I sought happy moments of my daily life to list. Some days finding ten, and even beyond, was easy. Some days I’m rather hard-pressed to find more than three. Lately I’ve found myself focusing far too much on the negative aspects of my life, so I decided to take this challenge back up and start focusing on the good things in my life.

Here’s today for 12 July 2013:

1. Waking up to kitty snuggles with my birthday girl. (Happy 10th, my princess Phoebe!)
2. Things that improve my health.
3. Finishing a blog post.
4. Being told I improve someone’s life daily via Twitter.
5. Making noms that others enjoy and request.
6. Dinner plans with my SweetBee and her dad.
7. Experiments in baking.
8. Helping two friends with a single connection.
9. Getting to chat with my baby sister.
10. Texts from my Boo.

Yes, it can be just that simple. Some of these I experience daily, but that doesn’t make them any less positive in my life. My challenge for myself is to post these daily. I’ve given Kidlet the challenge of writing three per day. So far she’s yet to take me up on it, but maybe she just thinks I’m being a doof. Or maybe she needs to see her best friend lead by example.

PS–What things made you smile today? If you want to join me in my challenge, feel free to leave your daily list in the comments or post them to your own blog.

UPDATE: I reissued this challenge to my Kidlet yesterday shortly after posting this, and she took it. She even came out with a list of 10 herself.  Guess she did need me to lead by example. Parenting win!

The Zen of Acceptance

This week I took Kidlet to the airport for her annual visit with her paternal grandparents. Right from the start the day was just off. We left the house 30 minutes later than I wanted. We got to the terminal only to discover I had left her boarding pass that Mom so wonderfully printed off for us back at the house. The line to check her bags actually went rather quickly, and we were even able to print off a new boarding pass with the same spot Mom had secured the day before. The agent assisting us told us the flight was on time, but in the 90 seconds it took us to walk to security, I noticed on the reader board her flight was delayed 20 minutes. Sweet! A little breathing room to get through security without having to race to the gate. TSA was quick that morning, so we were able to grab a sandwich and a drink for Boo before her flight was going to leave. That’s when they announced that her flight was going to be delayed for six hours. Thoughts kept racing through my brain.

My parking garage fee was going to be huge. Money is tight right now, but I couldn’t just abandon Kidlet at the airport to figure this out on her own. She’s flown the past couple of years on her own, but she’s never had to deal with this kind of delay or know to ask one of the gate agents what to do. So I sent a text to her grandmother and settled in for a long day of waiting with Boo until she was able to take off. Fortunately, I had a completely clear day. Nowhere to go and no one to see. Just projects at home that could wait. Around noon we got hungry so we checked in with the gate agent, got Boo on a standby list, and was told to come back in two hours to see if she could get on the earlier flight. We had a very nice lunch together and walked the concourse afterwards. We chatted about various things and really had some great bonding time together.

When we returned to the gate we found out her flight had been canceled altogether, but she would be able to get on another that was going to leave two hours later with the small possibility she’d still get on the earlier one. No dice there, but she was a trooper. I could tell she was exhausted from her early wake-up time and rush out the door. She hooked up into the airport wifi and watched Myth Busters while we waited. I chatted with one of the agents about the clusterfuck that happened. Between mechanical difficulties and weather weirdness, a couple of flights had been canceled. She mentioned how a few adults turned into toddlers. Yeah, that could have been me 10-15 years ago, but I had since learned not to take out my frustration on someone who had absolutely no control over the circumstances (something that I still struggle with on occasion). I watched these ladies shuffle travelers around to different flights so people could make their connections and take the verbal abuse with grace and several deep breaths. I told her while I could’ve been one of those tantrum-throwing toddlers in adult bodies, I decided to look at the positives of my day.

Boo and I had great bonding time. I’m finally able to enjoy her more as she transitions from a child into a lovely young woman. I’m certain there will be many more days of frustration and worry in the next four years, but there will be far more days when she will surprise me with her insightfulness and make me proud with her compassion and grace under fire. I’m grateful my day was clear of appointments or work, so I could be there to guide her through a difficult time. Though money is tight, at least we have enough now to cover the unexpected expense, plus the added bonus of the airline giving us a voucher for future travel. The agent noted that I had a great attitude about the day and suggested I write to customer service to see if I might get some of those additional costs compensated. I thanked her for the suggestion, and as I walked away something else occurred to me. This kind of attitude applies to many areas of my life, especially right now.

There are many things going on right now that are out of my control. I find myself in a place in my life that I never expected to be even just a few short months ago. With depression hitting our household pretty hard these past several months, our various relationships have been affected more than any of us wanted. Being poly means our other partners are also feeling the effects. We’ve all had to take a step back so we can figure out how to untangle the messes and be able to move forward again. Husband Darling and I need to focus on ourselves and Kidlet for the time being.

There are things happening that I do not understand and things that I don’t like (sometimes one and the same), but all I can do is to Accept what Is without always understanding or liking the circumstances. I struggle daily with simply accepting what is, but I’m doing the best I can with the information I have and change what is within my power to do so. Project Purge continues to move forward. My professional ducks are lining up, and I’m now waiting on others before my next step. We are preparing for Kidlet’s transition into high school via Web Academy. Husband Darling is applying for different employment almost daily. Getting many of my health issues managed has brought to light other issues that I’ll need to explore with my doctor. Husband Darling suggested I try meditation. I am re-learning to enjoy my life again and taking one day at a time.

Several months ago I ran across this lovely quote from an interview with Anthony Hopkins. It resonated deeply with me, and I felt a moment of clarity click into place. So many choices I’ve made in my life were leading me down this Zen path. “Acceptance” has become my daily mantra. Some days it’s two steps forward and the next is three steps back. What matters is that I am still standing and looking for which direction I need to go next.

The Freedom of Change

change

Today my country is celebrating its Independence from its mother country. There will be barbecues, picnics, apple pie, and fireworks galore. Family and friends will gather in backyards to grill copious amounts of hot dogs while drinking beer and soda. Women and men from all branches of the military are recognized for continuing to maintain our freedom.

On a personal level I am celebrating my own freedom–freedom from thoughts, things, and people that no longer benefit me or aid in my growth.  I’m celebrating the end of a chapter in my life so I may move forward to the next. I spent far too long re-reading this last chapter. I had felt stuck on an endless loop (hello hamster wheel) and wouldn’t get off. I made it to the peak of mountain I had climbed. I looked back to see the trials and tribulations of my journey and the joy I felt with each one I overcame. But here in front of me is a whole new world waiting. I have reached the precipice, and like the Fool I must decide to stay where I am, where I am safe, or take the risk and a leap of faith to what awaits for me.

Traditionally with tarot drawing the Fool means to face one’s fears and take a risk.

These past few months I have been confronting my fears. What led me to such a dark and depressive place prior had been due to not wanting to move on. I had reached a place of safety, a place of familiarity and comfort. I was weary from all my previous battles and decided to rest a spell, as my great-grandfather would say. Problem is I stayed too long. This was always meant to be a temporary stop, not a place to set up camp permanently. The longer I stayed, the more unhappy and anxious I became. I paced through my camp, rummaging through everything looking for what I knew I was missing. I overturned rocks, searched through every nook and cranny, and yet I still couldn’t find what I was looking for. Until I turned around to see that vast Great Unknown staring back at me. Daring me to take the first step forward on my next adventure, and to move forward I had to reclaim all the lessons I learned on this Life Journey.

Recently I reconnected with my Spiritual self. Part of my spirituality crumbled when the pagan group I was a part of slowly dissolved. Part of it I kept hidden away because it made certain people in my life uncomfortable. My Spiritual self is a very important part of me, and I had chosen to keep it locked away for the sake of others. These are my beliefs. Others can share them or not, but I will no longer keep them hidden. This is my Light to shine into the World, and to shine as brightly as I once did I must reclaim my Spiritual self.

I had put aside my Calling as a bodyworker in order to be a homemaker for my family. Kidlet was at a critical point in her life where she needed me home. Keeping the home fires burning gave my Mom and Husband Darling security as they left our home to keep it financed. Everyone had healthy food to nourish their minds and bodies. This also gave me the opportunity to take a good look into my health issues and start resolving them. I’m well on the Road to Wellville, and I feel better than I have for years. I’m being Called again back to my passion and joy, to what nourishes my soul because I am able to bring health to others who are hurting. So I am answering and getting all my ducks lined up so I can once again be the Vessel of  vitality I was Called to be many years ago.

My life is making a major shift, coincidentally with my 40th birthday impending. Yes, I am scared, but am no longer frozen by it. I am finally breaking camp. I’m packing with me only what I need and leaving the rest behind. I am freeing myself of the burdens that I have allowed to bring me down and keep me from moving forward. I look out again into the Great Unknown with only Hope and an idea of what tomorrow will bring me. I take a deep breath, say a prayer to my Higher Power, and trust that my next step is in the direction I am now heading.

Wish me luck!