Friday, February 26, 2010

A Shot in the...Foot?

I have been struggling with my health lately. I mentioned it in a post a week ago, and I have continued to be in a less than optimal energetic space. I wasn't so bad that I needed to stay in bed, but life has been harder and more likely to feel overwhelming. One way I know I have been feeling badly is that my personal space is less neat/organized/clean. I looked at the dining room yesterday and thought, "what a mess." Then I realized that it was all my stuff, and all things that I had left there or put there because it just seemed a little too hard to deal with them in the moment, and I figured I would just come back and deal with them later. Well, they accumulated. 

Another way I know I have been down is that something I meant to do a week and half ago didn't get done. I was supposed to reconnect with an old friend, go have lunch or coffee or something, and I said I would call her as soon as I got my head clear for scheduling. Well, I realized today that I meant to call her 10 days ago. I went ahead and did it, but I felt a little embarrassed that I had dropped that ball when it was important to me. 

Two days ago I felt pretty badly. I had a generalized anxiety that just sought out things to fret over: money, health, housing, relationships, the plot line of the sci-fi book I was reading. I knew that none of my fretting was proportional to the problems at hand, but I was having trouble breaking the loop in my head. One part of that loop has been a few steps for supporting my physical health that I need to act on, and so I decided to just suck it up and make one of the phone calls I needed to make, even though I would have to sound human and normal on the phone. I did, the woman I called was enthusiastic and willing to support me in the way I was asking for, and in the end I drove over to her house to pick up the ionic foot bath array she agreed to loan me.

It isn't something that had worked out well for her, largely because she had never really figured out how to use it. I looked up the directions online, lined a small tub with a plastic bag, plugged everything up, added sea salt to warm water, and stuck my feet in. It was awesome! It tingled and I felt a little disappointed that there were no bubbles or anything like a foot spa has, but my mood was instantly elevated. I felt this wave of calm euphoria and delight sweep up my body, and I have been high on it for a couple days now. 

I enjoyed it so much that afterward I called various friends and family to tell them I had just put my feet in electricity water on purpose, or had run electricity through my feet on purpose, and now I felt great. I spent 30 min in the ionic bath and the water did turn nice dramatic dark shades. A good part of that is the natural chemical reaction that happens when running that electric current through water and it reacts with the minerals in the water and sea salt and oils, etc. in the skin, but some of it is also some kind of detox effect. 

Honestly, I did it for the detox, but the benefit has been for my emotional well-being and energy level. Part of the quack science (I use that term with loving affection) of the whole thing is that walking along a beach gives the body a whole bunch of ions, mostly through the feet, which are good for certain reasons. The ionic bath is like a walk on the beach, only more intense. Sure. I also get a sense of profound calm and well-being at the beach, talking with Mama Ocean, so yeah, whatever. 

Honestly, I am not too concerned with the science of it. The positive effect of the ionic bath has been dramatic and wonderful for me. Next, I will do it again the same way (warm tap water from the tub, same amount of the same salt), and see if the color of the water afterward is about the same or different. Different would imply a difference in the human factor, namely me and my detoxing (or at least different trace amounts of stuff on my feet). I think I will also try it with heated filtered water (even though that is more of a pain since I have to heat it on the stove), so that I can see if and how that changes things. My plan is to continue these for a few weeks, especially if there are tangible lessenings in the nastiness of the water. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Having Babies

Having children is not a logical choice. I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again as more of the consequences of choosing it strike me again.

I have always thought I would have kids. For a while I thought I would adopt, and then I decided that really, I wanted to have my own. I want the physical experience of being a part of pregnancy, birthing, breast feeding, parenting. I have had visions of my kids. I have met different potential kids as I have been with different partners. And I have had those beautiful kids whom I was already in love with pass away out of the realm of possibility as time and partners moved on, and I have grieved them. 

I just read this article critiquing the media presentation of Celine Dion's struggles to get pregnant again via IVF. Holly Grigg-Spall writes:

The Celine Dion story not only equates fertility with female worth and the social value of women, it also presents the desire to have a child, or the maternal instinct, as a kind of mania. Many a time have I been told that some day, I too, will want a baby - not as though I will make conscious decision to have a child, but that I will be overcome by my womanly instincts and be unable to resist this impulse....[T]he media interpretation of her experience suggests women are incapable of choosing when it comes to children and must, like Dion, pursue pregnancy and motherhood at all costs. 

I think one of the problems here is about the idea of Choosing. Yes, emotions play a central role in choosing to have children. Emotions are also influenced by hormones in women, men, and everyone else. I would not be a very thorough decision-maker if I did not take my emotional state into account along with evaluating all my other goals, ideals, circumstances, resources, etc., and part of taking emotional states into account is to recognize hormonal influences. Hormones that increase an urge to procreate are hardwired in by evolution, I would think, and for all genders and sexes of people. 

That said, regardless of how my emotions and hormones have played a part in my decision, I am still CHOOSING to procreate. I am choosing to pursue a path that will hopefully end in my having a direct biological descendant (or three). Emotions do not negate choice, they inform it, regardless of whether those emotions are around "maternal instincts" or "male sex drive". We can wrap it up in pink or blue or whatever, but we are not victims/pawns of our hormones or emotions, only our decisions and choices regarding those influences. 

Therefore, there is no false dichotomy of choice versus what Grigg-Spall calls want, there is only the complex decision that every person makes in weighing all the options and circumstances and deciding how to go forward. Even listening to and honoring the want constitutes a valid choice. Grigg-Spall does a good job with most of her critique, I think, but I take issue with the implied subtext that people (women?) whose decisions dovetail with their hormonal/emotional wants are not making "conscious" choices. Even as she is trying not to fall into that dichotomy, I think her own perspectives and choices when balancing the emotional and rational influences and ultimately reinforces the subtext.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lion Dance

On Sunday I went to the Unitarian Universalist church because they had a local Chinese Arts group performing a traditional Lion Dance as a way to help us celebrated Chinese New Year. I have attended the UU off and on for 6 or more years now, and it is always a good space. I had run into the minister the weekend before, and she had told me about the dancers, so I passed the word on to a couple friends and we all went. 

We were sitting in the last pew, which really isn't all that far back given that it's a small church. Even so, when the performers began playing the drums, my whole body and the pew under me vibrated. The drums were large kettle-type drums, played with solid wooden sticks in a highly stylized way, complete with poses struck by the drummers at the end of each sequence. Then the dancers came out, with two people (presumably men) in each costume, one working the head with its eyes and mouth that opened and shut, and the other making the rear, somehow keeping the short tail wagging, and supporting the front man in lifts to make the lions rear up. 

It was a great time. Just the drums alone and the way they vibrated my whole body lifted my mood and filled my cup, so to speak. I need to be around more drumming, more live, feel the sound waves bounce off and through my body drumming. The lions, one silver and one gold, were fabulous and funny, working through the crowd, posing for pictures and video, doing tricks, and being humorous, tricksterish, and full of good energy. 

It was a bit of a letdown when the service moved on into more churchy things, though the homily was about how people develop how to do something and then study the science of why it works, and that Chinese New Year involves the color red, drums, fireworks, loud noises, dancing, feasting, and lots of lights to lift the spirits and drive old bad energy away. It works, and now scientists are finding reasons why it works. But really, we can just experience it and get the benefits without knowing all the science behind them. 

I think that is a great message: just do what feels right, and let the reasons why it works come out later. I think it definitely applies to drumming. I need to go be around drumming, to drum, to dance, or just sit and soak up the sound if that is all I am up for.  

Friday, February 19, 2010

All About the Body Today

I am running hot, energetically. Part of that is some of the amazingly effective body work I have received in the last couple of weeks, which has cleared out energetic pathways, meridians, and most importantly to this moment, my lymphs. 

I got off the massage table yesterday feeling like I just needed to keep moving. I puttered around for five or six hours, until finally my back seized up and I had to lay down, I had no other choice. I have been in a quandary all day today, where part of me really wants to move, to do, to not be still, and the other part of me wants to hunker down in bed with a flat spine and stay there. 

It is the tension of lymph vs. musculature. My lymphs are cleansing and so need green food and movement. My spinal musculature is adjusting/shifting and so needs stillness with gentle stretches. I have done some for each and tried to balance myself, but really I end up doing one thing until the other protests loudly enough to switch me over to taking care of it. 

I did have an energy session yesterday, and that got interesting. I was running so hot it was like flood levels, most of it from Source, and my client was in a very deep, cool, quiet space so it took me a few moments to even find where his energy was. It was a good session, but again I felt great for being on my feet and useful, and then I had to go take a several hour nap. 

I have a push-me-pull-you body. I will take another "space for physical healing" day today and then hope that I can head to the drum circle with enough energy to dance tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time Bank: Not Way Off Base After All

My second Time Bank discussion was with G, whom I had mentioned as a starting point in a previous post. She and I have had several conversations about the economics of the pagan community. Specifically, she told me how she thought I was way off in wanting to pay Kitchen Witches for all their work at Gatherings because the Craft should never be practiced for money. Also, she said there was already an informal system of pagans helping each other out by sharing skills and know-how, and since everything goes around, there is no need to bring money into it. 

She has been a part of the community and a leader in the community for longer than I have been around, and I really value her perspective. In talking about the community spirit/uniting/bringing the community together aspects of the Time Bank, she said that was work for the young. She tried to work on that front years ago, and felt like she was stymied by the hierarchical system that judged and possibly dismissed practitioners based on their teachers. "Who's your Momma? Oh her, I have a judgment about her," was how others reacted to her, she said. She did add, however, that a lot of that sentiment seems to have eased up and that another shot at community spirit might work out better in the current social climate.

She also reacted well to the idea of the Time Bank. She said a couple times that she "never thought of that," in a tone of voice that seemed to imply that she wished she had. I talked about how it formalizes the already functioning system of bartering skills among pagans in the community, and also goes one step further and helps newer community members (we are growing a lot) get clued in and connected.

A concern I think I do need to address, though, is to explain that the exchange is crucial to the whole idea of the Time Bank. I have had a few people express sentiments of wanting to just donate their time instead of spend it in the system, and that perpetuates a lot of the charity mentality that can ultimately be harmful despite all the good intentions. I think there is an outlet for donating hours that will be necessary so that admin (like me) get compensated for our work, but I would really like to break out of the "I give to you, it feels great to me, you receive and maybe feel like you are worth less because you needed it and could not pay for it" cycle. I will have to research some of the effective language that expresses these ideas in a neutral way. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Time Bank Perk: Pagan Businesses

I had my first conversations about the Time Bank last week. I ended up having the first discussion with A because he had wanted to meet to talk about the community in general, and of course the Time Bank came up. 

A had asked to talk with me after reading my post Proving My Own Point. He is a member of the coven referenced there, and is a good friend of six or seven years. We met for coffee at one of the local hot spots. He feels strongly that he is called to help build the community, and to that end I think he wanted to check in about and smooth over any ruffled feathers of mine. I don't feel terribly ruffled after having processed the fact that I was falling into the same pitfalls of divisiveness that bother me, and so we quickly moved on to other subjects. 

The Time Bank idea went over really well. I explained the basic talking points, about how it builds community spirit and wealth and can provide a common ground for the pagan community to gather on instead of always elbowing each other over spiritual practice. He supported it and went on to say that he would love to see a lot more pagan businesses. He thinks that one problem we have as a community is that a lot of us are a little too independently minded to work well for other people or in corporations. It calls for us to compromise just a little too much of our souls. 

Therefore since we do not thrive working in corporations, a lot of us end up in the fair to middling category of corporate worker, never brilliant enough to really climb that soul-sucking ladder, but without many options or resources for striking out on our own where we could actually flourish. 

I think this is a brilliant analysis. A lot of my friends in the community do work in corporate jobs, many of them with the same corporation, and few of them are satisfied with their work. I know at least one friend has told me that what makes it bearable is that she is working with her friends and that she doesn't want to change jobs because she would lose that, even though she is not happy with the rest of her work situation. Since I have never gone into the corporate workforce, I did not have the perspective to see that one reason why there is so much angst and dissatisfaction with their work is because my friends really do tend to be a little too questioning of, well, everything, to really be a star in a strong top-down "because-I-say-so-and-I-make-the-rules" organization. 

I told A that I would love to see pagan businesses spin off from the Time Bank, and that potentially the Time Bank could provide a framework for putting together some kind of collective or co-op businesses, too, perhaps a store of the crafts everyone makes since we have so very many crafters in the community. I know that I would absolutely love to put my money into pagan businesses, and to know where to shop in order to do that. I currently try to buy gifts from crafters I know, but with more prosperity and more opportunities to support pagans, I think we could really develop a thriving pagan economy. 


Friday, February 12, 2010


I have begun using the term Mytho-Reality, and I am enjoying working with it. Mytho-Reality is the intersection of what we know to be true with what we believe to be true. It is what we create when we look at known facts and string them together into a story. We create mytho-realities all the time. They provide the foundations of our paradigms and tell the story of why the world is the way it is and why we have the place and function in the world that we do. We constantly build on and add to our mytho-realities, incorporating new facts/situations into old stories as confirmations. Occasionally we encounter a new situation that has a fact that does not fit into any of our established story-lines, and so we have to choose whether to ignore it or alter the mytho-reality. 

And really, that is the beauty of mytho-realities. They can be CHANGED. They are stories, and stories are alive, constantly shifting and changing. We can Change Our Story and so make profound changes in our lives. Often we do not want to change our stories, we like them the way they are, thank you very much, but there are times in everyone's life when our stories no longer serve us, they become inadequate, we reach a crisis point, etc. and changing suddenly becomes less painful than staying where we are now.

This is the level that I work on. This is the level that I see most clearly in Reality. I see Mytho-Reality much more accurately than I see 5-senses World, honestly. It is why I am Pagan Clergy. It is why I am an energy healer. It is why I am a writer,and a philosopher, and why I create so much of what I create. I can identify problems in mytho-reality, and I can offer some plot changes to help fix them. Often, all that people need is to have their mytho-reality mirrored back to them so that they can see it clearly and make their own choices about how to change it, and that is how I clergy. In my healing work, I am more specific and offer edits or encourage energetic processes that will self-generate edits.     

It is good. I am good at what I do. I am more comfortable in the Dreamscape, in the Shamanic Realm, than I am in 5-senses World. The challenge, then, is how to marry the two, and I am still writing that story as I become stronger in both. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Describing Energy Work

I have trouble describing my energy work. More specifically, I have trouble describing it without sounding like I practice quackery. Trying to describe the energetic dynamics, what moves what, how, and why, is jabberwoky-ish because it comes from Dreamscape: the land of symbols, imagination, and thought.

We all have an energetic field around our bodies; we are electro-magnetic beings, among other things. This field is called an aura, an energy body, and auric field, etc. I can use my energy body to move other people's energy bodies in helpful and effective ways. To make other people feel like I am doing something and to keep my feet from getting tired of standing still, I move around and wave my hands as if they are directing the energy, though really I can just stand there and do just as much (with energetic body parts that are much more deft than my hands, but going into that detail really gets into the quackery). 

What I am seeing/sensing is quite different from what is happening in 5 senses-world. I sense colors, textures, imbalances, unhealth, health, the chakra system (which is like the organs of the energy body), other beings present in the room, the fabric-like textures of probabilities and possibilities of life-paths, images of metaphors to explain any and all kinds of on-going dynamics and processes, how to help, move, redirect, rebalance, adjust and attune all of this, and more.  

Basically, because energy follows thought and the energetic world is part of what I call Dreamscape, if I can imagine looking for it, I can find it, and if I can imagine a question about it, I can find an answer, and all of it comes through in exquisite detail. 

Afterward, I talk with clients about what information has come through. I do not/ cannot go against their will, and so moving energetic realities that they chose to put in place is not something I can do, but something for them to do. For example, if someone felt really unsafe, they may have put leaden shields around themselves to deaden all energy that comes their way. I cannot remove the lead. I can attempt to transform it, put the energetic forms of that transformation in place, and then explain all the imagery and why one way serves the client better than other and how to perform the transformation themselves, being careful to include that it is THEIR CHOICE. Pagans are quite receptive to it. Others, I have to go slower and start with the energetic basics of Ground, Center, Shield. But everyone starts where they start, whatever. 

It is really something experienced better than described, and the more specific someone is about what they would like help and support for, the more effective I am. I can do general tune-ups, but specificity adds a lot. 

I need to be able to blurb it in order to sell it, and in order for the massage therapist friend who is supporting me so generously to describe it to her clients, but I am still at a loss. Because so much happens in the Dreamscape, it comes across as rather nonsensical in 5-senses World. (Literally.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Couldn't Make It Up If I Wanted To

I often worry about my energy work. So much information comes through, images, stories, details of how energy is moving in each chakra and what would improve the situation, etc. Every session is different, and yet I have also noticed that certain themes will run through a day's worth of sessions where an insight that applied to one person applies to another in a slightly different way. I worry that part of me is just making it up, that it doesn't really help, that I will tell a client what I have sensed and they will tell me I am just flat out wrong and it was a terrible experience. 

I have evidence and testimonials to the contrary, but that doesn't really mitigate the nervousness that comes with each new client as I try to explain what happens, how, why, what to expect, etc. Describing what I do on the energetic level sounds like pure quackery even to my own ears, and yet it is incredibly powerful and accurate. I have been able to do some very deep, necessary, difficult work with certain clients and have witnessed how their health and lives have changed because of it. And yet, the concern remains. 

Since I saw so many clients last week and really am putting some energy into a regular energy healing practice, I decided to get professional and start making session notes so that I can review where we were last time for when they come back. After writing about 10 sets of notes, I was somewhat reassured. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. I have to be a little careful/tactful about how I present the insights that come through, but everyone has nodded in (sometimes surprised) agreement. Everything makes sense in and of itself and is accurate to context and appropriate for the individual's ability to process the input. I couldn't do that on my own, just out of my own head and imagination. 

I really and truly could not make this stuff up. That's reassuring, but also rather weird. I have to be somewhat careful not to look at this with my mundane senses, or to think about it the way my Dad would think about it. It only makes sense in the Dreamworld/Shamanic Realm/Energetic Plane/New Age/Whatever. And yet, really, it is only in that Dreamworld et. al. that anything truly makes sense anyway.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Aiming the Fire Hose

I've been working on my energy healing practice this week. I do some financial organization and consulting for a friend of mine who is a massage therapist, and she has started going to Chinese medicine school one week a month. She wanted someone to rent her office for that vacant week, but also wanted to make sure that whoever came in was of the same caliber healer as she is. No one really took her up on her offer, so I suggested the crazy idea of me going in instead. I told her I would have to pay her a percentage until I could build a practice, but she really believes in the healing work I do and was excited to do it. 

It has taken us a few months to get everything together, and so this week has been the first GO week. I was a little nervous about working out of her office at a professional level (where do I have people do what, where do I find everything I need, etc.), and so wanted to get some longstanding occasional clients in so that I could practice working in that space. I have a pool of friends who have all come to see me at some point or another over the last five years, so I sent out an email. 

I offered a "help me with my energy work" special of Slide your own Scale, $20-75. I think that the $20 is really too low to be sustainable (I will probably keep offering a friends and family slide of $40-75), but I also know that many of my friends really do not have a whole lot of cash flow. It is one of the main reasons I have not been able to successfully build a practice thus far: the people who come to me can't afford to pay me what I need to make it sustainable for me. So I chose to go low for this practice week. 

My week hath exploded. As of tonight, the 3rd night of my 6 days in the office, I have 15 sessions firmly scheduled over the week and one pending. I had a decently long day today and it will be much longer tomorrow. I am tired. Doing energy work is like holding a fire hose: the water is not mine (I pull energy from Source), but it takes a lot to direct and aim the flow. 

It is good, though. This is a phenomenal start to what could become a sustainable income flow. Once I am well-rested, I will do my visioning work to see what comes next.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TED: Mirror Neurons Make the World Make More Sense

VS Ramachandran: The neurons that shaped civilization (7:44)

I often watch TED talks because I find them absolutely fascinating and uplifting. This one, however, did what the best of TED talks do, and blew my mind. He talks about mirror neurons in the brain, and how they enable us to see someone do something and learn it ourselves. If we see someone else being touched, a percentage of the neurons that would fire if it were happening to us fire anyway. The way we know it is not happening to us is because the messages from our skin and body are not correlating the message. If that part of our body is numbed, however, we think we actually ARE feeling it.

He even says at the end that this works for people who have phantom limb syndrome. If they are in pain in their phantom limb, they can watch that same body part being massaged on someone else and it eases their pain! This is incredible!

The healing potentials of this are mind-blowing. We could watch other people receiving massage and feel relaxed ourselves. I wonder if the efficacy is reduced when we watch a recording of it, or if it works equally well in person or on tape. It makes me wonder if all the images of violence that saturate our media get mirrored into our own bodies. I would not be surprised if that were the case. Watch enough murder-crime shows, and perhaps our body begins to mirror that death.

On the other side of things, though, being around affectionate people gives us affection, too. I clearly remember my parents often being physically affectionate toward each other throughout my childhood, and I wonder if that is one of the reasons I feel so well loved deep down in the core of me.

I also know that my Mom once told me about how as a kid she watched others diving off the diving board, and once she had watched enough, she went up and was able to do it the first time without anyone actually telling her how. I have noticed that I can learn physical actions the same way, specifically with dance or sports. If I see it enough, then my body and my muscles know how to do it. I thought it was an inherited ability, and perhaps the degree of it is, but now I know the neuroscience behind it and that all our brains are wired for that kind of mirroring.

So if I watch someone pound a beat on a drum, part of me is beating that drum. If I watch someone dancing around a fire, part of me is dancing around that fire. This helps explain why I feel so good after a drum circle even if my health did not allow me to participate directly.

Suddenly, the fandom around professional sports makes a little more sense, too.

Monday, February 1, 2010


On the one hand, I believe in localism. I think it would be great if we all sourced as much of our consumption as locally as possible. Local food, locally owned businesses, local crafts, local economy. Reduces the carbon footprint, means I end up with great products made by local folks whose faces I may even be familiar with, and helps keep prosperity churning along in my own community.

On the other hand, I love the international market. There are several around, but I tend to go to the big one, with an aisle for Mexican, an aisle for Japanese, an aisle for Thai, and well, there are a lot of aisles. They have some of the best prices for produce anywhere in town, are never crowded, and I get to make eye contact or have short meaningless conversations with an incredibly diverse population of people. I recently experimented with making my own ginger brew, and absolutely delighted in the conversation I had with a Chinese-looking man in his fifties who was in line behind me. He commented on the vast amount of ginger I was buying, I told him about my brewing project, he laughed at me a little and said "we usually just make it into tea."

I get to have food adventures when I go to the international market. Today my partner and I bought experimental drinks. We got a cane juice drink and an herbal jelly drink. We hated one and thought the other was okay enough to drink, but we had an international adventure for less than $3! We also bought young coconuts (yum!) and sweet potato noodle ramen, among other things. A young woman who was also shopping for ramen on the Noodle Aisle (yes, they have that), heard us talking about trying the sweet potato noodle ramen and asked us about it, so we pointed out where it was.

I find these values of the local and the global to be competing, and yet obviously I must not believe that they are mutually exclusive. I did only go shopping at the international market because I could combine it with several other errands in that part of town, thus saving gas. I wore found and thrift-store sourced clothing, I drove my small, mostly fuel efficient vehicle, and I regretted that my woven shopping basket was still full of Christmas presents and so had not replaced the plastic bags I used to carry my groceries to and from the vehicle.

Perhaps my real beliefs are less about local and more about corporate. I would much rather shop at a local import store (a specific mom and pop boutique comes to mind) than buy a bunch of cheap plastic made-in-China stuff from a(n) (inter)national chain. The owners of the boutique I love go on buying trips, meet the crafts people in the various Latin American countries they visit, pay responsible compensation to those crafts people, and then bring them here to sell fabulous things to me. I am so happy to support them and the craftspeople they support who do such amazing work.

So, yes. I eat at family-owned not-American-food restaurants instead of chains, I wear second-hand or found clothing, I reduce the number of my trips out and conserve energy, I always try to find what I need second-hand at thrift stores etc. before I pay retail, and practice a lot of other "sustainable" strategies. And I love me some fresh taku choy and young coconuts.