Are We Community?
It’s a legitimate question these days. Are we? Are you my community? Am I yours?
It doesn’t matter which side of the line you’re standing on--both sides are wondering what the hell is happening to our country…our world.
I spent my high school years in Valdez, Alaska. It’s not a stretch to say my heart still lives in the wilds around Prince William Sound. Between the years of 1992-1997 I was treated to a very strange, possibly one-of-a-kind type of community experience.
With a population of roughly thirty-five hundred in the winter, and fifty-five hundred to six thousand in the summer tourism and fishing season—Valdez was (still is) a small community at very end of the Alaska State Highway. I was fourteen when we moved to Valdez. We’d followed the road until the very end, which left us in a small fishing and oil town surrounded by lush, green, snow-capped mountains laced with waterfalls. Valdez is perched on the edge of the ocean, and backed against thousands of square miles of wilderness and glaciers. It is the very birthplace of imagination.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that small-town living meant, everyone knew your business whether you wanted them to or not. All of it. It’s hard to keep secrets in a thirty-five hundred person town when the sky is black for twenty hours of the day, and snow covers the windows all the way to the eaves—all you have is one another. Cold, dark, and community. The nearest metropolitan town was six hours away.
Alaska is one of those glorious regions still so wild it will pleasantly be the death of you in a million different ways. From bear attacks, wolves, hypothermia, avalanche, and countless other ways Mother Nature will clean your slate—to all the many ways isolation and darkness take a death toll in alcoholism, suicide, domestic violence, and the town drunk killing someone on the highway. Yes, these things happen in cities, too—but in a tiny community, even one loss of life or tragedy impacts nearly everyone. Why?
Well, Alaskans fundamentally understand community is survival. Common decency is paramount in order to have shared social and community contracts. You don’t have to like everyone, and often don’t—BUT you DO have to stop and pick them up off the side of the road because they might actually die out there…and next week it could be your car that breaks down and you need a lift. There is an unspoken “social contract” to sharing living space and public spaces with other people in your community.
Community is the invisible thread that supports a construct of human survival in a location that could mean the neighbor next door may be the only one who will be able to get to you in time if the snow load collapses your roof, or the river overflows the bank, or a black bear wanders into your yard while you’re gardening. It happens.
Valdez isn’t a perfect community; far from it. But it did lay the groundwork for a concept that I’d never encountered before. Tribal awareness.
One thing that really sucked as a kid was doing something freshly rebellious or stupid and getting caught by someone, sometimes even a total stranger, then dragged home to my mother where the community member would nark on me, then hand me over to my mom.
This shared parental pact was something totally foreign to me. It felt like living in a police state. I couldn’t get away with anything! (And tried almost everything.) I was from the lower 48, after all. Other people had no right or business to parent other people’s children or even weigh in on non-communal behaviors. But in a small community, people looked out for each other—and for each other’s kids. Survival mandated it.
This always included the folks who would make sure you were introduced to something that you had an interest in or needed to know but wouldn’t get it at home; arts and theater, banned books, comic books, access to rock music, etc. The local theater group adopted me into their circle and family to teach me broader theater and social humanitarian awareness. My high school librarian discovered I wanted to read books that had been put on pseudo-banned reading lists—so she ordered copies to the city library where I could pick them up freely. My pep band teacher exposed me to jazz. My choir instructor taught me to choose lipstick to match my undertones. My biology teacher acknowledged I wasn’t really a “lab kind of kid” but if he needed his winter ptarmigan’s cleaned and packaged—I could earn extra science credit for dissecting and animal anatomy.
The point is: my community always found ways to keep me out of trouble, or help me reach potential that would eventually lead back to support the whole network one day; keep my mind engaged, teach me what I couldn’t learn at home…and make sure I didn’t wander out and get eaten by a bear.
They were all fast and hard about stepping in front of me before I could toe the line. They didn’t take my shit, but instead challenged me to engage in other outlets. To this day, I am incredibly grateful that I grew up in a place that allowed and encouraged a form of tribal community guardianship.
My family was also incredibly poor. The community often brought food and supplementals; salmon, caribou, halibut and freezer meals. My friends’ parents almost always tried to feed me before I went home. It was an unspoken shared knowledge that we struggled...a lot. My first restaurant boss even packed small lunch meals for me to take to school.
So why the long explanation? Because community that has such a level of social interdependence (despite its other issues) can ONLY function by these important social contracts: Trust/Respect/Personal Autonomy/Generosity/Compassion/ & A Social Construct (IE: Values and Manners)
This creates a culture, if you will, of social self-regulation with allowance for interdependent support. Those who adhered to the social contracts did their best to help hold the younger kids to it as well, regardless if they were regular fixtures in the kids’ lives or not. I assume, because I was too young to know for sure, that the adults tried to hold each other accountable to the social contracts as well…but over time, well, everything changes in time.
Unfortunately, this also often comes off as meddling, or “sticking your nose in” which creates a lot of bad blood, and irritation. There is obviously a fine line, a measure between maintaining a community social contract, and “None ya” (None of your business).
These are the social contractual concepts I learned between 1992-1997 while living in Valdez, Alaska:
Help each other when you can or are able. Never leave someone in the elements. Watch out for all the kiddos. All of them, all of the time. Leave no trace. (IE: environmental, carry in/carry out rule). Don’t be the asshole that takes the last of anything without checking if anyone needs it first. (This does not apply to Doritos, or beer…or fries) but it does apply to sustainable hunting and fishing, as well as fuel resources and access to water—even picking wildflowers and berries. Never take the last one. Leave some for the next generation. Never leave a human being on the side of the highway. Stop at the scene of every accident, even if it looks handled. Check first. Hold the door for anyone behind you always and without exception regardless of who they are. Offer to teach a skill you can share. If someone is fifteen minutes late to a date/location—check on them; Alaska is a dangerous place. Volunteer if you can for social community anything. Participate in gatherings if you are able (at least pop in, say hello and then leave). Look out for those who are struggling. Help where you can. Respect other people’s spoken boundaries and limitations. No means No. Don’t block the aisle, roads, bike trails, etc.—access is for everyone so be situationally aware of others and your impact. Support the arts. Support humanitarian causes. Support the Constitution. And MOST IMPORTANTLY---always take your shoes off at the door. Basically, don’t be an asshole.
Not everyone adhered to these social contracts. We’re humans. We have good days and bad days. Most humans are still ruled by ego, and a plethora of baggage-laden issues. Some days the social contract can slip, be challenged, or forgotten. Even by myself.
The point was always to DO YOUR BEST, not what you can get away with, but the best that you have that very moment.
And REMEMBER: You can’t force anyone to participate as a community member. You can’t force anyone to care about their neighborhood or homeland. You can’t force anyone to reach, stretch or inconvenience themselves for the sake of the whole or even just you. You can’t make them be grateful, helpful, interdependent or even just kind. You can only be what the standard is: and they will either buy in to the inter-connectedness of the whole population—or risk being left out of the joyful and wonderful parts of tribal awareness and social cooperation.
Sure, you’ll still pick them up on the side of the highway in winter, but you probably won’t be inviting them to the fish fry next weekend. If they won’t go out of their way for you—why go beyond the basic social expectations for them?
This is Alaskan hospitality. They will give until you don’t give back. Then they will put you somewhere outside the inclusion line. That's how community tends to work. Do your part to support the whole, or be left out.
Because the social contract requires reciprocation. It requires the respectfulness to be mutual in order for the exchange to be fair to the overall well being of the community. This is not a tit-for-tat tally. It is do your best as often as you can—and they do their best as often as they can. Period.
And if people think you’re slacking on your best, you can be damn sure they’re going to shit talk about you to the moon and back while sitting at the bar—and in a small community built on such self-governing social contracts…it’s an Olympic sport, shit talking. That and gossip, because, what else is there to do in winter?
Essentially, this model left a lot of squeegee room in “what is defined as a person’s best?” I don’t know if I truly understood it all when I was a kid. I don’t know how much of it I was actually even seeing. I have no idea if this was a manifestation of my imagination—but I carried it out of Alaska and tried to bring it to the Lower 48; which obviously did not work. Still, twenty years later, I fully expect to be called out when I'm in violation of or not paying attention to sacred community contracts. (Yes, even I miss the cues, or trip over something, or have a bad day where I let my ego rule.)
Maybe I romanticized it all. Maybe I imagined I was just super lucky to have landed around people who picked up so much of my family’s weight until I understood I needed to learn how to do it myself. Maybe I’m exaggerating the fierce protectiveness I felt from my community back home.
It must also be said, this community was always the very first, even decades later, to support, encourage, boost and even finance my wild dreams of being a storyteller. I asked, and they answered with profound generosity and incredible faith. To this day, half of my regular supporters and patrons are from my hometown of Valdez—and they’ve been pushing, urging, encouraging since I was fourteen years old.
Now, twenty-eight years after I first landed in Valdez and was exposed to a different kind of community experience—and twenty years after leaving Alaska I can’t help but feel like our world is melting down because so many of us have forgotten, or possibly never knew what it was like to be part of something that was greater than ourselves; a sense of true community—with epically bad flaws, and tremendous human unity despite those flaws.
I’ve seen a post several times on some FB threads that says, “If I don’t wear a mask, it’s not because I don’t respect you. I just believe your FEAR is not my problem.”
I paused and stared at it the first time it came across my feed. I was surprised, because masking up for COVID is not about fear—it’s about common wellness. Community wellness. Fear has nothing to do with offering respectful courtesy and encouraging a social pact for group health in an isolated town. A small town, where even one loss is felt throughout the whole population.
So, I feel like the meme should change just one word to make it more accurate. More honest. Just one word. Change FEAR to the word HEALTH and then it will read true to the poster’s intentions.
“If I don’t wear a mask, it’s not because I don’t respect you. I just believe your HEALTH is not my problem.”
Ouch. It’s hard to hear. It’s hard to think someone would say it and believe it—but at least it’s honestly worded. It could be even more accurately worded to add a couple of things; “life and/or uninsured financial stability” could also replace FEAR accurately.
I guess it just depends on how honest you want to be on your Facebook/Instagram/twitter. I mean, how blunt do you want to speak to the people who will be picking you up on the side of the highway in a snowstorm when your car breaks down on the pass? Your call.
All I know for sure is this…in Alaska, you take your shoes off at the door to respect the home you are entering. You don’t track fish guts, snow melt, slush, mud or muck into someone’s home. If you choose to ignore this unspoken (assumed) social contract, and step OVER the pile of shoes in the arctic entryway—you can be assured, someone will call you on it. And if you argue, “I have rights!” then you can also be assured, you will not likely be invited into that home again. This is also your call.
So the question arises: if our communities are our communal homes, extensions of our family—where does the mask argument end, and the pile of shoes at the door begin?
Home. Community. Same thing, right?
So I ask again—Are we community?
It’s a legitimate question these days? Are we? Are you my community? Am I yours?
I wear a mask, and I take my shoes off at the door.
Introducing the newest membership/club offering for young creatives. Please stop by the storefront and take a look at the Creative Kids Club Membership. It’s still in development and waiting for the first 20 interested parties before I invest in the platform setup, BUT it’s under development and so far, the feedback has been positive. Sign up for more information here.
The summer is half over already. My creative season usually begins on the 1st of October, but this year—I plan to get a head start. The COVID19 pandemic has impacted me financially in ways I did not anticipate which is requiring me to re-build and rethink the ways I’m bridging my living expenses and creative outputs. In the grand scheme of things, I’m very lucky. Financial impact is a lesser blow compared to those who’ve been catastrophically ill or lost loved ones.
In short, changes are afoot to push this site into a marketplace for my brand offerings, and to open my schedule to new gigs and commissions. The brand push has needed to happen anyway. The prep to get those offerings up and available to the public had been put off too long already.
The remodel will allow for the patron section to return through a membership program for those who have asked to continue to participate as patrons. AND when the time and funds allow, the site will also become a portal for the e-zine launch and social interactive community space and forums.
It’s time. I’d hoped to put off the large marketing campaign until Plague of Gargoyles was in print, but that may be six months or more and the marketing campaign is needing to happen. Nothing like a little pandemic to light a fire under my arse and get things going. I’ve been able to procrastinate and find excuses to avoid a public facing reach, but, well, I guess it’s time to brush my teeth, find some shoes and step out in front of the work.
The Elder Glade Update:
This summer The Elder Glade as been peaceful. The usual haranguing from raccoons and wolves has diminished significantly since Dakota joined the menagerie. In fact, I haven’t seen a wolf or coyote in months. I’ve spotted the cougar scat and what I assume was black bear scat on the trails, but nothing within range of Dakota’s patrolling. So, I’ve found a new vigor to be out and about with less concern over the big critters eating Princess Buttercup while we’re exploring.
One of the many benefits of living in the wilderness is the abundant, beautiful array of wildflowers all through the season. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pick bundles of daisies, foxglove, yarrow and much more while out on our excursions. The bouquets brighten up my writing desk and make the days seem a little less heartbreaking. Because yes, the world is breaking my heart right now. People…people are breaking my heart.
Raspberry season is peaking right now. Every spring I think I’ve cut my raspberries back too far and it will be the year I’ve finally killed the patch—yet every summer the stalks explode into a jungle of new canes. This year I’m averaging about a half gallon of berries every two days. Sure, I eat a ton of them as I’m picking (so does Dakota), the rest I freeze for winter cobblers, or preserve for liqueurs in a Vodka solution. This year I’m trying out a raspberry margarita mix (tequila and triple sec solution). I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime—the raspberries.
I’ll be gearing up for some announcements in the near future. One of those announcements will be my plans to leave some social media platforms behind and rely on my website for communicating with readers and fans. If you’d like to be in the loop or receive the updates first, please pop back to my main page and opt into the email announcements. Thank you all for being so incredibly supportive. I look forward to being able to continue writing and creating content for you all.
It seems weird to be doing a mid-month update of intensely personal evolution even as the world is burning with much larger and more important issues to tackle. That being said, I don’t have the energy today to dig into those larger issues, so I’m updating with the lighter more frivolous goings on.
I realize this will come as a shock to longtime followers, but I’ve decided to start dating again. I know. Long story short, I started to peel the Band-Aid back, then figured…to hell with it, the world is on fire. So, I just ripped the bandage and…whoa, the flood gates opened.
Go figure. The most action or interest I’ve had in five years happens to be during a worldwide pandemic and under self-quarantine orders. It just goes to show my love life has the most epic crap timing. Then again, if you’ve been with me since the BlissQuest days, you already knew this. Also, turns out, dating via zoom is not awful. It’s rather nice, actually. So much less strain or stress involved. I dig it.
I started saying yes. I started reaching out to those I'm interest in. I dipped my toe in the water and my leg wasn’t chewed off by piranhas, so I guess I’ll keep saying yes for a bit and see what happens; see where it goes.
With all that, there’s a lot to unpack in the shift from considering leaving the woods for human relationships again. I won’t be leaving the woods for anything less than fucking spectacular, obviously. Yet I do recognize that my self-imposed hermitage is coming to an end. It’s in the air, the stars. I feel it when I’m casting. There’s a shift in the tone of light. It’s time.
It’s been tough to explain to men why I opted for hermitage. Either they assume I’m a man hater and was driven to isolation and seclusion by some awful experience and I must be damaged in some way (don’t worry, if I pick up that vibe from them I just quietly move along), or they seem to lump me into a female Unabomber category and stupidly ask if I own a gun. (Yep, I move along from those as well.) No less than five dudes in the last 30 days have asked me if I own a gun. Seriously guys, fuck off about asking a single woman who lives alone in the woods if she’s armed. It's hella creepy.
So, explaining hermitage seems like it should be relatively simple—turns out, it’s been more of a hurdle than I imagined. While I’ve explained myself more than I should or need to, it boils down to this statement that I’ve finally just made my go-to phrase to stop the question from being a thing: “I live where I have absolute peace and creative freedom. The world doesn’t come to me, I go to the world when I want something.”
I can see the glazed, blank expressions, and can usually tell right away if that made sense…and if it doesn’t, we’re not a match on the level of expectations for quality of life. I say thank you, and move on.
It’s been illuminating, really. Less so about men in general, most men are what they are, but mostly about what MY actual intentions are. Up until recently, I had no intentions around dating and or relationships. I had my hands and brain full of creativity and craft, and surviving the forest, there wasn’t time/energy/interest in dancing around the relationship topic. It started around January; a slow creeping shift in the season of quietude. Huh.
Stranger still, it became more urgent just before the quarantine. Then, woosh…the sensation of readiness to engage became a space of intense forced reflection. Serious self-reflection and deep shadow work. The kind of #shadowwork I haven’t dug into in a decade or more, so I was long overdue. I’m grateful I had the time to reflect that deeply in a space that allowed the kind of safety to really go into the realms. When I finally came back up for air the truth was a bright, burning glare.
My continued expansion, growth, and evolution is now at the point where true partnership and reflection in a union is the next phase of personal evolution.
The truly shitty part of this is, I can stay happily fulfilled, full of joy and freedom and bliss out here in my bubble, but I recognize there will be a limit on my expansion. It will be a level of happiness, true. It will be joyous and I’ll love it, true. But I am unlikely to go beyond this point of blissful expansion in my heart or energetic realm by myself.
BUT I’M SO HAPPY! So, what’s the harm in just staying as I am? Staying happy? Staying Free? Staying creative?
There is no harm in maintaining this contented space. Happiness has been a hard-won prize, it came at great cost, but I know now that I will always have it. I can always obtain it on my own. What I don’t know if I can do yet, it obtain it while in a partnership…that’s a bit trickier. Furthermore, as I work to understand personal story, community story, tribe and relationships in general—how do I deepen those understandings if I am approaching them from the place of being an island?
Gah! I feel stretched between two worlds. I suppose that’s what coming out of the wood and into the light is, really. One foot in the ethereal realm of creative immersion, driven by the urge to finally connect, share, grow—but reluctant to give up the security that is self-reliance and personal connection to being a wholly empowered individual.
My brain says, nope! My heart says, yes please! Bring the adventures! There’s a lot of wobbling back and forth between yep-nope-yep-nope-yep-nope.
Essentially, I don’t expect to be good at this right away. I’m flinchy and a little feral. I’m struggling to make sense of the scope this toe-dip will make to my story as a whole. I can’t see the big picture completely, yet. I’m still defining what I want and what I’ll willingly engage with. So—to practice, I’m saying yes to invitations. I’m sending invitations out. I’m sifting through the experiences to decide what will make my heart and mind align in a solid forward momentum toward a true partnership.
I’m looking for that connection that will excite me enough to release that last bit of stubborn grip on this old phase and charge forward delightedly to the next adventure with them.
I already know that nothing less than a sense of true partnership will interest me. I’d rather just keep my stasis in the woods and maintain my happy space. Only a leap for something beyond that is going to lure me out, so I’m trying to understand what that will look like so I can articulate it well, and look for it specifically when asking people out.
Yes, I do the asking when I’m interested. I’m not a wilting violet waiting breathlessly to be chased. I’ve got shit to do, and worlds to build. I get on with the getting it on. That’s adulting at its finest, yo. (Also, true partnership recognizes initiative is taken by whomever gets there first, right? Or…whomever rolls the best on 10D….)
DM never said “roll for initiative” but really meant, only guys can take that initiative. So, if I’m stepping out-- I’m doing it with my hands on my dice pack, and my chin up.
Like I said, a weird mid-month update considering the world as it is. For folks who’ve been following for some time, I imagine this is something you knew I needed long before I did. Thanks for not rubbing that in. I’m getting to it in my own sweet time, apparently, and by my own unorthodox strategy. (I even signed up for a matchmaking service. I know. I know.)
As I mentioned on Instagram, I usually don’t post the deeply personal nature of shadow work or my sketchbook where I work these concepts out. But in the spirit of this world needing what feels like a bit more acknowledgement that shadow work needs to be done, and deep personal development is both vulnerable and difficult—these are the two sketches from my notepad that define this internal transition as I’ve come to the awareness of being open to possibilities of partnership and creative emotional collaboration.
The first: The Hanged Man/ Hermit tarot card prompts of retreating to the woods to do the work. Chrysalis.
The second: The Sun/Death/Judgment tarot card prompts for returning to the world to collaborate with community, lovers, and friends. Grow Forth and Collaborate with Magic
Essentially, by the time I finished the second sketch, my mental/emotional reality had shifted and I knew the hermitage phase was closing out even though I have no idea what the next phase will actually look like or how it will come about.
Shadow work leaves you raw and exhausted, that’s why it’s work. But the final product is relief, optimism, and a new sense of freedom. It just so happens in this case, that freedom is dancing with the idea of combining superpowers with another human being.
#shadowwork #tarot #elderglade #dating #gettingbackoutthere
We may not get another opportunity like this in our lifetimes to break these cycles, smash old paradigms, unravel toxic bondages, and free ourselves from the wrongness of how things have been on many many levels.
A “normal” will inevitably settle in—social structures will stabilize, and we will move on.
I am doing all I can to ensure I am not moving onward with any of the old, bent and broken, unjust, noxious patterns I inherited or have been unwitting party to. Be they subtle, or be they over-arching institutional or normalized standards—they need to go. There is no room in our new future for these outdated poisons.
PSA: This world shift, this global LEVELING of antiquated practices, beliefs, behaviors, and methods is a MASTER CLASS in becoming human. This master class includes the correction of millennia of planetary environmental abuse, human rights violations, financial inequality, and institutional oppression.
Be assured, some people will fail the class. Many people are missing the opportunity to study, to improve, to learn a new way of community and unity. We all signed up for this master class or we wouldn’t be here. Still, some will choose to fall behind, to stay bound to their anvils of tradition, ignorance, and fear.
It’s okay to leave them behind. It’s okay to keep moving forward. It’s okay to blaze ahead and lay groundwork that they can follow someday, if and when they are able to free themselves.
Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep building. Keep working to balance the scales.
You’ve got this. We’ve got this.
I know the world feels like it’s on fire right now. I know you’re uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable too. I know you’re vulnerable, scared and angry. I am too. You may be triggered left, right, and center by people you know, or even total strangers. I get it. I am too.
WE ARE ALL IN IT. We are all evolving at the same time, as a collective, as a people, and it’s rough. It’s hard to see what we have been doing, to our black community, to our human family of color, to our planet, to our world as a whole. It’s been months of peeling back layers of cancerous years, decades, centuries of venomous patterns. It’s hard to look at. It’s hard to acknowledge. It’s hard to understand. I get it. Still….
LOOK YOU MUST.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOU MUST.
YOU MUST OPEN TO UNDERSTANDING.
Your ability…our ability to graduate to the next level of human emotional evolution as a species is dependent on you (myself included) choosing to level up. It’s a choice.
It’s instinctive to want to tuck back in, to curl up, hide or look away. I challenge myself, I challenge you, to reach, stretch, connect and awaken to the promise of the horizon beyond this birthing phase.
We may never have this kind of change opportunity again in our lifetimes. Use it. Breathe it. Find a new way—the better way in everything you do. Do the best you can, then one step farther and you will have taken your storyline, the storyline of your ancestry and the history of this world beyond what it was before you took your first breath.
Just do the best you can, then one step farther.
I know it’s not your usual birthday Note to Self, but the world is a bit of a tipsy dervish, and you’ve managed to get yourself turned about. You’ve been shuffling around in your worst pajamas, the set you wouldn’t even let your sisters see you wearing. You’ve been going in circles. You hate circles.
Four weeks of trying to buck up, make the best of it, pull up your big girl panties has resulted in a puffy wine face and a salt hangover from snacking your way through the uncertainty. Woman, seriously, get ahold of yourself. You have work to do.
I’m going to get real with you, because I know you can take it. You smell funny. Like dankish fear and propped-up optimism, mixed with Pringles and a vodka chaser. You look like hell, and your house is a mess. Go brush your goddamn teeth. Then get back to your desk, you’ve got work to do.
If a planet hurtling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour could hit a pothole and knock our global heads against the dashboard, Earth did just that about a month ago. Sure, there were signs posted and a flagger waving, “Slow Down!” but we won’t get into that just now. A bad case of collective whiplash and a devastatingly harsh body count later--we’re all feeling it. The galactic pothole, COVID19 was scheduled for maintenance decades ago, but due to budget constraints had been declassified to a low probability nuisance.
But that’s the way it is with the things we choose to believe will not catch up to us, right? Centuries of crimes against the environment and mistreatment of the very planet that sustains us. Hundreds of years of financial inequality, disparity, mis-distribution of resources, wealth, and opportunity. THOUSANDS of years of inhumanity against our fellow man.
Mankind has been scheduled for a renovation for millennia—and we are being asked to start paying up, or be prepared to forfeit our long-term plans. That includes you, Athena.
Understandably the sudden loss of routines, of “normal”, of security and what we thought we knew about our world has been shocking. People, like yourself, wandered around in their underpants for weeks. Not hours. Not days. Weeks. The scope of the shift was just too much to process any faster. Be kind to them, and to yourself. They’re working it out as fast as they can.
Healthcare workers are throwing themselves on the grenade of our collective willful ignorance, our refusal to face the possibility that our history would repeat itself while we were busily setting up a house of cards, and placating a mad emperor. Nurses and doctors are taking the full force of the impact so that we can plan our return to the way things were…any day now.
But Athena, you already know you can’t go back. Maybe that’s why you bumbled around in your super hero underroos for a few extra days. You can never go back. You already know it. But you don’t know exactly how or where to go from here.
You’re not alone. Millions of people on this planet have been jogged; tooth-rattling, brain-jiggling, make your eyes water, and your heart rhythm skip kind of trauma.
Lives have been lost. Money, jobs, careers, relationships, families, residences, present and future plans, and even dreams are lost in the shakeup that is forcing yourself, along with every living and aware human on this globe to ask—what do I actually value? What is worth saving?
In the last four weeks you’ve seen hundreds of stories of human brilliance, kindness and ingenuity. You’ve witnessed creative problem solving, epic spiritual and emotional transformations, borderless unification of peoples, sharing of content, supplies, funds, efforts, and a scale of community support that has, to date, only been imagined in the cinematic performances and portrayals of the human potential to rally against adversity at its very best.
It’s no longer the fictional stuff of movies—proof that humans are capable of coming together in a dazzling presentation of real-life collaboration has been staggering, beautiful, and inspiring.
A good three days were spent on your couch weeping, and marveling at how fucking amazing people can be. Gratitude for the kindness friends and family showed to you. Gratitude for the love and care others were showing for each other. Gratitude for all the things. Seriously. You wept over all the things because the gratitude truck ran you over, then backed up just to make sure it got you a few more times.
But now the shock is wearing off, and the gratitude has soaked into your bones, and you know you can’t go back to the way things were.
Prior to COVID19 you were just a waitress, a storyteller, and a homesteader. You were a hermit in the woods with a dream of one day being self-sustainable not because you thought you’d need to be, but because you wanted the challenge to see if you could do it. You thought homesteading and serving beer part time would give you the room you needed to finish your books.
But suddenly the way forward seems murky. What seemed terribly important two months ago seems so foolishly irrelevant now.
You’re not the only one going through an identity disruption. Millions of people are asking themselves why they were in jobs they hated, relationships that drained them, health patterns that were slowly killing them, and why, why, why did they give all their joy away to someone/something/a way of being that didn’t actually make them happy.
Millions of people are suddenly asking themselves what they truly want.
You knew you were lucky before, and more so now. You also know with that kind of luck comes the responsibility to reach out, give back, do what you can.
Writing and storytelling will never stop being part of your life. You’ll still be working your books and land because you love it so damn much. But HOW you do it has to change.
Athena, you and everyone else on this spinning rock are going to have to elevate. You’re going to have to innovate. You’re going to have to find better ways to do things, safer, more ethical, more conscious, more humane, more aware ways of participating in this community that is now, inarguably, one people.
You can’t pretend it doesn’t matter anymore. You can’t pretend you don’t have time, or energy, or will. You can’t use the excuse that you don’t know better—because now you do.
Athena, this Emergency Note to Self is to tell you that you must evolve. (And for the love of God, go take a shower.)
Evolve and elevate. You can no longer push along, get around to it, wait for the opportune moment, plan for it after a vacation window, or do it when there’s a good alignment in the sky.
Your alignment is now. It is right this very NOW.
You might not have a clear plan yet, but one is forming. It’s okay to not know exactly what to do. It’s okay if you’re not precisely on the mark the first few tries. What’s important is that you start trying, start doing things a little different. Try a new method, sort out the values.
Throw those ratty old pajamas in the burn bin and don’t look back. Get up. Go to your laptop and write. You’re a storyteller, it’s what you do. It’s what you LOVE to do. Do it because it’s the thing in your life that’s worth saving—the only thing you’ve really got of value to give to whomever needs it.
There is always room around your campfire, always enough room for one more. Put another log on the embers, and pass out the drinks. Then do what you do best.
Just put your hands on the keyboard and love.
I don’t usually get political on my blog for a number of reasons. First being that since I live out of internet and cell range, it can be days before I’m able to get into town to stop what may be a runaway train in my comment section.
Due to COVID19, I have been furloughed from my part time gig as a waitress. Yup. I wait tables to pay my mortgage while I try to build my success as a writer, and a small farm cannabis producer. So before any concerns about me sitting pretty in the woods—let me assure you, until I have new employment, my mortgage is on the line like everyone else’s, AND I do not have health insurance.
So you may be wondering what the hell I was thinking to post this statement on my Facebook page AND potentially vote against my own best interests.
Dear Elizabeth Warren,
I am updating my voter registration to reflect my new status as “independent”. Will you please update your campaign registry to run on the Independent platform? I will write your name in if I must, but I’d prefer to tick a box so you are correctly counted.
-Done voting for the lesser of evils, and am choosing innovation and quality of leadership.
So. If all goes well my voter registration will update in the next week or two reflecting my shift from the democratic party to the independent. To further explain the statement, I added to the comment section below it:
I refuse for my life and vote to be held hostage to the “lesser evil strategy”. I realize this is a dangerous trend that may lead to dems losing majority which will result in four more years of incompetence. However, I am totally prepared to let the system completely burn down under another botched Trump term so that the whole model can be rebuilt from scratch, OR risk the middle road of recovering democracy’s dignity. We will innovate as a nation, or face the Darwinism of weak government.
If my choices are between two men, each with sexual assault allegations and each with watery plans or no plans at all…I will choose the woman who can inspire a revolution in the way we support and govern from the middle road, with ethics, compassion and strength.
Whether the ship goes down or not, I will know I didn’t vote for either of the captains who have proven they would fight over the life vests meant for passengers.
There’s a reason so many writers and thinkers don’t politicize on social media. The dividing lines are so ridiculously black or white. Most people are afraid of losing respect or followers, advocates or friends.
The thing about creatives, change agents, and anyone who wanders into the fields of tracking innovation, revolutions and ideas that are often criticized as too visionary is that we know…sometimes you can’t fix the broken…you can only demolish the old model and start over with something better.
Are we there yet? Possibly. But there is one thing we haven’t yet tried as a nation.
I know right? Pretty obvious. Why haven’t we tried to evolve our flagging, over-inflated, outdated, relic of a bipartisan model yet?
Because as a nation we are socially conditioned to think on terms of “only this” and “only that”. We are programmed into an early idea that there is only one real answer. I have two words for that: Standardized Education.
Anyway, I’ll leave that soapbox for another day. Back to Darwin and the overcorrected fish tail.
If anyone has ever hit a patch of ice, snow, or oil on the highway, and the car suddenly loses control—they will know exactly what it means to over-correct.
Drivers are taught that to control a vehicle in a skid you turn into the skid. When you turn into the skid, the car will correct the opposite direction—you turn into that skid too. This fishtailing occurs because the wheel base corrections are balancing the momentum of the vehicle which cannot stop, and can only barely be controlled. If you lessen the turn each time, the tires adjust, the moment slows and eventually equilibrium and the correct direction are restored. If you jerk the wheel—you overcorrect and run the risk of flipping your car, or flying into the ditch. Gentle, even, confident corrections will keep you on the asphalt.
If you jerk the wheel, overcorrect and hit the curb---you’ll likely snap your axel. Then your steering will not respond correctly to the left or the right. Savvy?
As a bipartisan government we have been in a state of barely controlled fishtailing since the Cold War, at least…probably longer.
The wild oscillating between Democratic and Republican majority holdings has resulted in a teetertotter which has stalled ANY TRUE PROGRESS. Americans are behind on all the key metrics of humanitarian progress, human rights, economic progress, scientific innovation, education, and so on and so forth. We have a first world budget and a third world track record for how we treat our human populations and environment.
Disagree? How many people in the United States lost healthcare in the middle of a global health crisis? Like four million? In a “first world” country?
I don’t know how you voted, but all your previous arguments against a Universal Healthcare system are hereby rendered irrelevant.
I won’t go on about the broken. People already know it’s broken. Everyone agrees it is broken.
The way we will KEEP IT BROKEN is to continue to over-correct into the skid. Each time one side wins over the other: they backwash the progress from before. Each time the Republicans take the seats, they undo anything the Democrats did, and vice versa. It’s like a not-funny version of Groundhogs Day. We vote the same damned ways every time and complain each time that the system is still broken. There's a word for that.
Meanwhile, other countries are laying down revolutionary groundwork to support students, build health systems, and improve quality of living…while the Democrats and Republicans are playing slappy cake on the teetertotter and everyone in the middle is getting seasick.
Evolve or die.
Innovate or perish. Whether that’s in government, business, or general life. Evolve or die. It’s basic Darwinism. Our bipartisan government has not evolved. It’s too cumbersome to maneuver in crisis efficiently.
Let me repeat that:
Our government is too cumbersome to maneuver in a crisis efficiently.
And it’s too burdened by in-fighting to be sustainable any longer. We will not be able to return to the way things were before COVID19…and we already know that. The problem is that we’ve cornered ourselves into a one-or-the-other way of thinking. Win at all costs means someone loses. Maybe you…maybe your neighbor.
Now we can see that mentality is not going to save us. We are more aware than ever of how interdependent we all actually are. And yet…we still insist on voting “sides”.
REVOLUTIONS happen when the system completely breaks down. Ass over tea kettle. Guillotine-style remodel.
Wait for it to burn…or I dunno…fucking try something different. Evolve.
I’m staying home to keep my community safe for everyone. I intend to vote that way too. Whether that vote counts by volume or not.
I hate for it to come to “evolve or perish”…but I think as a nation, we’re already there.
Of course, the people who are “fear voters” vote to hold the line no matter what will be disappointed with my move to become an independent. Why not vote for Biden? Voting third party is the same as voting for Trump.
By the number, yes, it’s essentially the same as voting for Trump, but in the principle…IT’S A UNIVERSAL DIFFERENCE IN personal nobility and what I'm willing to sell of myself.
I will not vote out of fear. I will vote, with my measly little one vote for the change I believe we are capable of having as a nation. I vote with hope, not cowardice.
Trump’s incompetence, ego, and alleged crimes make him an unfit leader. Biden’s watery, weak plans, and unanswered sexual allegations also make him an unfit leader.
No one will ever be my perfect candidate, but strength, courage, leadership, and ethics should not be the things we sacrifice in order to cling to a broken system. Sacrificing the self-respect of your vote out of fear isn’t really democracy, is it? That’s when the axel snaps, and the whole rig goes careening down the embankment. Sure as shit, if that happens, each side will be blaming the other, rather than those people who are truly responsible.
I fully expect that my write-in vote, and anyone else who does the same will be faced with the realization come November that Trump’s re-election could have been prevented. There will be some frustration, a lot actually.
But I also suspect that four more years of his mismanagement will effectively set ablaze the remaining vestiges of any sense of democracy we thought we had. If I’m handing him a match and saying BURN IT DOWN…essentially what I’m agreeing to is this: tough love to help re-build a flawed paradigm. It will hurt. Yep.
FORCED EVOLUTION. People will not revolt until they have no other option. They will not complain or take to the streets until they are at full risk of losing liberties they cherish. They will not fight for their reproductive rights, or their educations, for their health or their livelihoods UNTIL they are backed into a corner. I have complete faith that he’ll bungle it all and do exactly that. Character arcs are all laid out in the open in the first chapter, after all. Characters can only be what they are.
The alternative is this:
Innovate the system. Gentle, steady, small corrections slow the momentum, and realign the vehicle, right? Where is a middle ground? Where can we agree to start? Where is the most neutral territory from which to support the largest population AND begin to unify under new ideas and strategy?
Too much risk?
I dunno…two months ago I would have said it would be naïve to think the world would get hit by a pandemic. I would have said it was unrealistic to move the bulk of jobs to work from home and keep people employed while staying home and staying safe. I would have claimed it too optimistic to think the skies would clear and the oceans and forests begin to heal after just three weeks of lower pollution. I would have said it was ignorant to think we could flatten a curve on a virulent and deadly new virus. I would have said it would be unachievable to create respirators from car parts, and 3-d printers, or turn an army of quilters into mask makers.
Too much risk? More risk than the millions of healthcare professionals in our country dying on the front lines to save our silly stubborn lives while they themselves are undersupplied, under-served and most are drowning in student loan debt?
You tell me. Is it time to evolve the system?
Too much time alone in my head is drumming up old, long-buried memories and daydreams. The world is struggling to breathe, literally. I’ve been looping in my mind, as I’m sure many folks have. Looping, puttering. going in circles, grieving, ranting, drifting helplessly, firing off ideas, trying to reach out, then crawling back under the covers to stare at the ceiling.
Old daydreams. The fantasies that sustained me when I was a girl are bubbling up. It could be the shift in planets, or the restless mental wanderings—but much of what I thought I’d forgotten keeps blindsiding me at the most random times.
My plan in the early years (at age 15) was to travel the world and write. At the time I was a teenager in love with my high school sweetheart, and I assumed that future would include him somehow. I told him wild yarns of how we’d buy an old castle in Scotland, and raise a bunch of orphans. He was in, too. Like, he totally went along with my ramblings and ideas of setting up an orphanage in the Highlands where I could write my books and he could work on his music. We’d travel and explore (probably finding kids all over the world to bring home), then return to the castle part of the year and tend to our creations.
Ah, the idle daydreams of youth. We didn’t know it at the time, but at roughly that same moment in history, J.K Rowling was being inspired on a train to tell a story about a young magical orphan named Harry, and a wondrous wizarding school in a Scottish Castle. Go figure.
The more I began to realize my high school sweetheart never planned on leaving Alaska, the more I began to realize the castle orphanage was a silly idea. I couldn’t do it alone. Time and heartbreak do funny things. Desperation and survival make tough decisions. Life at that time was unsteady and we lived in a kind of poverty that gives middle-class folk the hives. So as reality began to set in and my relationship with him ended, the plan morphed.
I would travel the world, write, and have affairs with interesting rich men so I could keep on moving. Keep moving, keep outrunning the losses. Of course, all that planning went to shit as well with a very young marriage to my older fencing instructor and a decade of lost time.
Is it lost though? I ask myself as I find these memories tumbling me over and over like a laundry puff cycle. Where did this reminiscing even come from?
When I only have a few minutes of internet access, and I find myself looking for castles for sale in Scotland…well, it seems like a strangely lopsided full circle.
I gave up the idea of kids. I gave up the idea of having a family. I’m more of a protector than a nurturer, after all. I gave up the idea of being able to look out for anyone, because I could barely take care of myself and didn’t want to put anyone else through the grief and misery of the struggle if I couldn’t provide adequately for their safety and needs. I couldn’t do that to another human being. Right? Who does that?
But this idle time, this puttering and wandering in circles punctuated by moments of active gratitude and thankfulness has made me realize—I’m okay. I’m actually okay. More importantly, I have a lot to give back, a lot to offer. And that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to re-evaluate what I can provide.
A slow, like uber slow, realization has been surfacing about my life choices and where I’m at currently.
Sure, I traveled, and had affairs with rich men. Some of it was even fun. Unfortunately, a lot of it was, well, tedious. Sure, I was able to keep moving for a while, and I outran the losses like the best of them… but eventually I needed an anchorage, a harbor, and so I bought a cottage in the woods and rooted.
Only just now have I realized: I’ve been playing out the fantasy of my childhood on a very economic and achievable scale. For my budget, I’ve been doing precisely what I dreamt of when I was fifteen.
Instead of a castle in Scotland, I opted for the second, more affordable choice of a cottage in the wilderness. Instead of a pack of orphans that I may or may not be able to provide for, I’ve collected instead, orphaned animals. All my animals are castaways, rescues, or giveaways. (Pandora was the only surviving kitten in a bag thrown onto the highway, and so on.)
I live in my makeshift castle and write my books and build my creations, and take care of my orphans. I did precisely, just smaller scale, what I said I would do 25 years ago.
Now, I realize from the outside it doesn’t look like the same thing AT ALL. And I will say, it’s true, it’s not the same exact thing. It’s the closest to it that I could muster on my own with the options that were available at the time. It has provided the feeling of being able to nurture, provide, and be creative.
For purposes of knowing how manifestation and energy resonance works, it’s important to recognize the FEELING of completions, and the realizations of manifestation coming into reality in a way that fulfills the intent of the daydream, or the intent of the feeling. There is so much powerful gratitude in knowing, feeling, and being in a place that I had wanted—or close to it. In fact, when I began to believe early on that a castle in Scotland was just not a reasonable request—I began to imagine instead a cottage in the woods. I altered the desire to something more obtainable, or at least, what I believed was obtainable. I visualized this property so clearly that when I stumbled upon it five years later, I made an offer the same day.
The point of all this is to affirm to myself as the world seems to be going wonky and I am thankfully well situated, that this was not an accident. I set this up years ago. I was more or less compelled to reach this point. Moreover, the awareness that my life and my heart still have room to give and offer, it’s time to evaluate what exactly I want to daydream next.
The feeling of being able to take care of and support my tiny little menagerie, and my little square of land as given me the courage to realize I may be able to provide for more. That as the world rebalances itself, I need to be thinking of what I can give and to whom I can give it when the time comes. There will be many in need. What will I be abundantly able to offer?
Dad, don’t get excited, but there may be an orphan or two involved. I dunno, maybe I’ll start out small and try a goat or a miniature pony first to make sure I don’t mess anything up.
I don’t think I’m the only one going through the spin cycle and ruminations. I think millions of people derailed from their daily routines, habits, and even their work scenarios are suddenly caught in these loopy old re-runs.
They are re-examining their choices. Are they happy with where they ended up?
Did they give up love for careers and vice versa? Family for money, or travel for stable homes? Did they give up passionate dreams for success, or freedom for security? Where did they deviate from the plan? Did it work out for better or worse?
When life returns to normal…do they/we want to go back to the way things were?
I’m just one of millions re-thinking, re-evaluating, weighing out the tallies. It’s fair to say when I’m evaluating my current situation, all worldly grief and loss aside, I’m happy with my life choices and where I tumbled out of the rollercoaster. I hope most people can say the same.
These last three years have been the happiest years of my life, and up until now I couldn’t figure out why. I’m fulfilled, and ready for more. While there’s guilt in feeling okay when there are so many who are not, there’s gratitude in knowing I will have extra to offer. I’m challenged and still learning. I’m creative and have a constant outlet. I have my freedom, my community, and my dreams have all been scaled to fit this nifty little plot of land and nurture this tiny bubble of bliss, with extra left to share.
I’ve come full circle…so what’s next?
Seems like a margarita, a hammock, and some new daydreams are in order.
Reach out. Stay Positive. We've Got This.
As most of you know, I’ve been a recluse in the forest for several years now. Isolation is not new to me. However, I’m aware of how challenging isolation can be if you’re not prepared for it. If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, or isolation during the social distancing please reach out to me, your community, or your tribe. With the technology we have today to stay connected, there’s no reason for anyone to feel alone during quarantine.
Due to Covid19 many people will not be able to be in public for many reasons. Many people will not be able to leave their homes, or be around other humans. Many will not be able to keep habits and patterns that support nurturing connective relationships in their immediate communities. This can have a terrible impact on quality of life, spirit, and believe it or not, it can negatively impact immune-responsiveness. Those most at risk will be the elderly, the very young, and the disabled. If you know of any elderly living alone, please reach out to them and keep in touch.
It is scientifically proven that uplifting social connectivity increases immune responsiveness and boosts mental and emotional fortitude. (Assuming those interactions are positive)
So, I encourage you, and myself, to reach out to people more in the next few weeks. Call them for phone chats, face times, emails, and texts. Touch bases more often. If it’s safe for you to get out and meet them for coffee or drinks, make a date. If not, make a coffee date on the phone. Connect with your tribe, and with people in your community who might not have tribe.
I encourage you to post more uplifting and positive memes, content, and thoughts. I will be sorting through archives for uplifting and funny clips, humanizing content and connective stories. I’ll also be making a lot of phone calls and setting up chats over the next few weeks.
Yes, keep the spread and danger down. Yes, stay safe and healthy. But try not to lock yourself away to shiver in alone in fear. Try to reach out to those who don’t know how, or can’t reach by themselves. Isolating to detriment is dangerous on a lot of levels, so just touching bases once a day with someone makes a huge difference. You might have to be isolated—but you do not have to be alone.
If you want to have a coffee date via phone, hit me up. If you need a couple of emails sent to your inbox, or a letter in the mail to keep you connected to another human being—please don’t be shy. Just reach out, and I’ll reach back. I’d be happy to write you a note, or tell you a story. Or play a game of Go Fish via Facetime.
You can contact me privately via the webform here for a connection: CONNECT WITH ATHENA
Loneliness is often, not always, but often a choice. There are options available to help you stay connected to a live link if you desire it. These safety measures and precautions for public health are temporary, so in the meantime we’ll just have to be creative, adaptive, and try a little harder to help each other stay connected.
We are a world tribe and we can beat this Corona bitch together, right?
P.S. I’m adding a page to the website for my recipes. For those of you who need a little creative boost in the kitchen and some ideas for meal prep since restaurants are closed #socialdistancingfood. Follow the food… The ELDER GLADE RECIPES