Change and Balance

Here we go again… neglecting this blog.  I don’t like writing here unless the post has spiritual meaning.  I use my other blog for all my mundane life updates and rants, but I’m starting to really realize just how much the Unity Church has drastically changed my perception of the world while strengthening my faith as a Pagan. 

The world around me is rapidly changing.  There are things happening around me and within me that I have absolutely no control over.  

When I was first diagnosed with PCOS late last year, I had spent many of the last three years in some sort of hormone pit where I didn’t have the normal hormonal ups and downs that women normally get.  When I started treatment, and started my vitamin regiment, and started my diet and exercise plan (down nearly ten pounds from where I was at the end of last year, so that’s exciting!), I wasn’t expecting the emotional roller coaster that this would put me on.

When you haven’t truly experienced PMS in nearly three years, you aren’t really sure what to expect, and this is what I’ve learned: I cry for nearly no reason for the 48 hours before I start, and it’s been a weird and hard adjustment for me. 

There’s been a lot of upheaval for us too.  My car needed $1,900 worth of repairs and maintenance (really the first big thing that it’s needed in the nearly 5 years I’ve had the car), and Erin finally bit the bucket and traded in her truck for a Mazda 3 hatchback that’s in better condition than my CR-V and has every single bell and whistle you can possibly imagine… The car will practically drive itself…  All together, that weekend cost us nearly $13,000, so that’s been interesting reassessing our budget for the added car payments. 

It’s not like we’re hurting for money, but we had to move some bills around and change payment dates to make sure we were fairly evenly spread.

Then there’s the wedding… We’re a few days shy of 100 days to go and we haven’t started planning the rehearsal dinner yet… Or done tastings or anything. And our one night event has turned into a three day blow out. It all starts on Thursday with our rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner, and possibly wrapping up with a bachelorette party that night. Friday, my aunt is throwing us a bridal party brunch before we run off to get ready for the wedding at 7 and the reception after. Then Saturday, my mom is having brunch for anyone who wishes to attend. 

It’s a lot. And since my family is… Well… My family, they are sparing no expense. This has been difficult for Erin and I to deal with because A) we don’t like spending insane amounts of money and B) we aren’t use to these numbers being “okay.” (We don’t have the money my parents have.)

I think we’re finally at a point where we are simply saying thank you and being insanely gracious. How does one repay someone for dropping $22,000+ on their wedding (my smoking hot dress was just over $1800 alone)? We figure that we’ll give them multiple grandchildren and be happy together until the end of time. 

But making sure everything is done how it should be and how we want it is overwhelming. We’re doing what we can when we can and not stressing about the rest.  Or at least pretending that we aren’t stressing. Hah!

And then there’s all the stuff going on with Erin’s graduate school. She is taking multiple classes now at the graduate level and we both forgot how much time school takes, so it’s been an adjustment. She spends many evenings working on school by watching the video lectures and taking notes and studying. I’ve taken over some of the cleaning (or at least pulling more of the weight than I wasn’t) and I cook dinner nearly every night to help take care of her so she can focus on school. 

And then I try to grade. 

We’re debating delaying trying for our own again until after she is out of school. We don’t really want to wait, but Erin’s education is a top priority for us, and we want her to do the best she can. She’s only made one B so far. The rest are A’s. And the B was on a technicality with how the class is graded. 

And if this wasn’t enough just “stuff” happening, a lot of my friends seem to be struggling right now too. And this was the entire point of the blog. 

When Erin and I first started going to Unity Church in August/September, we weren’t in a good place physically. As a couple, we were stronger than ever, but we felt like everything around us was coming down in huge pieces. 

And Unity taught us so much about the world and how it operates. 

We learned that we are co-creators with the Gods. That our thoughts and feelings and actions have a direct affect on the world around us. We can literally change our reality for the better or worse simply by how we think and feel and act. 

They gave us tools to help us shape our reality, ways to help us change our thoughts and feelings to make them more positive more of the time. I still remember the service where the pastor said, “it’s not so much about what did I do to deserve all these ‘bad things’ happening to me but it’s what can I learn from this situation to grow and become a better version of who I am today?”

We were able to move out of that dark place in dealing with the failed adoption and start moving towards and planning our own future family. 

Now, we try to focus more on the positive and less on the negative. Yes, there are days when we still fail (like when I heard the mechanic tell me I owed $1,974.23 on my car), but now I feel I’m better able to talk myself out of those times (either with Erin or through a blog or both) and move back into a more positive state of mind. 

And yeah, I’m seriously behind with The Pagan Experience and the Kemeitc Round Table and I never finished my blogs anoth the five principles, but that’s because there is a lot of other things going  on, positive other things, but other things none the less. 

Eventually I will get to them… Maybe.. Hopefully… :)

Keeping My Family Safe

And this is why Erin and I chose to go through a sperm bank and through a doctor’s office:

Many states don’t protect same-sex couples if they chose to do an in-home insemination. Including South Carolina, which actually PROTECTS the rights of the donor when it comes to his supposed fatherhood. 

http://www.autostraddle.com/heres-what-you-need-to-know-before-diy-insemination-278446/

Fellowship

Erin and I have made the transition into making church and our faith a priority. We’ve become heavily involved in our church over the last few months.

We joined officially as members. Erin works on the tech team, and I teach Sunday School once a month. I’m also the contact for the monthly NGU (Next Generation Unity) hang out, which is the 21-30-ish people. This is the second meeting, and it’s made me realize how much I need community with people who are over the age of 18.

Aside from Erin, there are days when I barely talk to anyone who isn’t in high school. And it can and will drain a person after awhile. I look forward to these meetings where Erin and I can hang out with people our age who believe in similar things and just play games and have fun.

Fellowship is so important to my spiritual health and well being. I am so so so happy that I have Unity Church in my life.

The Faith of a Child

The past couple of weeks have been absolutely insane.  I had been working from 8:30AM until 6:30PM most nights getting ready for the big event that was this past weekend.

To really get the full impact of this story, though, I really need to back up to the year before last.  This is my fourth year as a teacher.  At the end of my second year, one of my coworkers and I were called into the principal’s office and asked a very, very loaded question.

“Do you want to take over as Beta Club advisers?”

We both laughed and gave the typical “we’ll think about it” response, but when we left his office, we both joked about how that would never happen. Not in a million years.

We were so amused by the entire situation that we told the story to our other coworker, who responded in a most unusual way, “I use to be the Beta Club adviser where I use to work.  We use to go to conventions, and it was a lot of fun.  I’ll do it, but I want y’all to help me.”

We both stood there for a minute, “Really?”

Yeah.

Okay, then… Let’s do it.

The next year was a huge learning curve for us.  We took the Beta Club at our school from just over 100 members to nearly 400 members.  We raised the requirements, made the group invitation-only, spruced up the induction ceremony to make it more official, created texting line to keep everyone it contact with one another, and I made a very official website that is now proudly located on the front page of the school’s website.

That year, we took ten kids to compete at the state level and we got our asses handed to us.  We didn’t have a clue what we were doing, and so it was a very large learning curve.

At the end of that first year as advisers, we decided that three was not big enough, since at the end of the year, we were pushing almost 550 students.  We brought on another teacher.

This year, we got some pretty shocking news: two of the advisers were leaving, which meant that me and my coworker had to find two or more other teachers to take their places.  Luckily, we did that pretty quickly by bringing on the academic team coach, an art teacher, and an English teacher who was also the dance coach.

We then quickly threw the art teacher under a bus and handed her the scrapbook and banner teams to make them get prepared with only three weeks to go before the competition, but it took all of us, and towards the end of those three weeks (read: Monday and Wednesday of last week), I ended up staying at school until 6:30pm and 8:00pm respectfully.

Thursday was spent in a hurried panic.  Erin dropped me and a coworker we’d picked up off at the school so that we didn’t have to leave our cars there over the weekend.  I rushed around all over the school, getting my last two classes covered so I could help get stuff organized and get all our kids onto the chartered bus.

We had 29 in total.  Last year, we competed in nearly every competition except talent, state office, banner, and art.  This year, we were taking a banner and a student who had decided to run for state office, which mean we also took a skit team with us as part of the campaign.  It’s a weird requirement.

We had students competing in nearly every subject.  We had two students entering the art competitions.

We got in Thursday night, wandered around, settled into our hotel rooms, and went to sleep.  The next morning, I was up at 6, but I laid around until my coworker woke up.  We ate breakfast, got coffee (well, she did), and then started to get ready for our big day.

I had a judges’ meeting at 12:30, followed by a quick lunch, and then judging special talent (which we were competing in) at 1:45pm.  I dealt with some drama before being disqualified as a judge for the competition.  They tried to disqualify my school because they weren’t at the competition on time, which made me throw down about how we’d gotten special permission from the lady who was trying to throw us out, which then alerted the ones in charge that I had students in the competition, which then made them disqualify me.

But not before my kids got to perform, which is all I cared about.  We ended up not placing in the finals, but that didn’t bother me.  They had their chance, and that was the only thing that was important to me.

Our state officer candidate gave his speech that night and our skit went over fairly well (it was a really simple skit.  No props, but one our students did gymnastics, and he did a couple of back flips on the stage, which got people all excited), schmoozed with all the people he came in contact with, and I watched everything very closely.  I looked at the different schools that he promised votes to who then promised votes to us.  My question always was, “How many students do they have?”

After the speech, he always said, “Ms. H.  I’m not here to get elected.  I’m here to make a change in Beta.”

I always responded, “Yes, well that would be easier if you were elected now, wouldn’t it?”

He would then say, “I will be elected…. If that is what God wants.”

If that is what God wants.  Why can’t I have faith like that?

Why can’t I?  Why don’t I?

I use to have faith like that.  I use to have this unwavering faith in the Gods and that everything would turn out the way that it was supposed to in their time.  And then somewhere along the way, it got lost.  I don’t know if was nearly everyone I knew around me was getting married and/or having babies, or if it was the failed adoption… or the failed fertility treatment soon after… or the diagnosis of PCOS… or whatever.

But somewhere along the lines, I decided that my being in control was more important than the Gods being in control, and now here I am… exactly where I was to begin with… trying to figure out all the details to make sure our kid had the best chance at getting elected, and he was just doing his own thing and leaving it up to God.

Saturday morning, the other advisers and I had a breakfast to go to.  It was at the end of this breakfast at I became elected as the new “head adviser” for the Beta Club.  This happened when the other three returning advisers for next year decided to become coordinators for the state convention, which meant that I was going to end up being the one who had to figure out where everyone needed to go and what everyone needed to be doing.  I’m now, very suddenly, the one in charge.

We’re screwed came to mind.

It was later that day while scoping out the scrapbooks that I heard two fairly large schools make a deal: we’ll vote for you if you vote for us.  I thought, that’s going to possibly really hurt us.  At the next meeting, the kids were suddenly divided in who they were going to vote for outside of our secretary (which was what we had a student running for).

Our student said, “I’m voting numbers 4, 10, and 15.  They can vote for whoever they want.”  Number 4 was himself.  Number 10 was a long shot candidate from a smaller school, and number 15 was another student from a different school in our county who was a favorite to win (mostly because he rapped/rhymed his whole campaign speech).

Our kids were all over the place with their voting, and if they weren’t solidified past the number 4, then how could other schools be solidified on our side?  And we were one of the smaller groups there (some schools brought 90+ students.  We have 29.)

But the voting came and went, and then all we could do was wait until that night.  It was at that point, while we were waiting, that I gave up.  He was right, after all, and I knew he was: I’m not the one in control here.  The higher power is, and I needed to let go and let be.

“And now we’re going to announce the finalists for the quiz bowl, which will take place at 2pm this afternoon.”

I was only half listening through the noise when I hear my school’s name called.  I looked at my coworker who was clapping and cheering, so I knew I must not have misheard them.  We were in the finals for quiz bowl, which didn’t happen last year.

At just after 2pm, we got knocked out by the school who would later go on to win the whole competition, which meant we ended up placing seventh overall.

When we got to the last meeting of the day, we sat through farewell speech after farewell speech and then group talent final after group talent final.  Finally, they started to announce the winners.  I went up front to go take pictures.

The current student state secretary stood up and walked to the podium.  He started talking about various things and then realized he didn’t have the results.  A woman ran up with a sheet of paper and everyone laughed about it.

Then he said, “And now.. your new South Carolina Beta Club State Secretary is….”  He paused.

And then he proudly shouted my student’s name.  I jumped up and down, screaming and punching the air.  He walked/jogged to the front, and I snapped photos like I was part of the paparazzi.  They swore him into office, he gave his acceptance speech before taking his place on the stage.  I watched him while he silently prayed on stage and took a few more photos before I took my spot at the side of the room to wait for the next announcements.

One by one, they ran through the winners of each category, and by the end of the night, we had four winners: the state secretary position, first place is division I science, first place in pencil drawing, and third place in banner.

On top of those wins, we learned that almost all of our students who didn’t place were literally seconds away from placing into third place (if there’s a tie in score, then the winner goes to who finished first).  We even had a student who, on whim, took the agriculture test and placed fifth.

I was so pumped from everything that I didn’t sleep much at all that night.  Or much at all that weekend.  When we got home on Sunday, I fell asleep on the couch for three hours.

I like to think that everything happens for a reason.  My coworker encouraged this student to run, made him believe that he had a chance at winning, and in turn, he ended up teaching me a valuable lesson about faith, giving me a valuable reminder that I’m not the one in charge.  They are.

TPE – On The Human Condition

I’m writing for The Pagan Experience. This week, the topic is our thoughts on humanity.  How do you define “humanity”? What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions? For more blogs on this topic, go here.

It’s interesting to me that this week’s topic comes at the end of the series we’ve had at Unity, the church that Erin and I attend.  The church believes and preaches that “all paths lead to God,” and we are welcomed there as Pagans and as Kemetics.  It’s been a wonderful experience to be in a place of worship that is open to all faiths and practices.

Unity believes in the five basic universal principles.  They hold true for all of humanity whether you believe them or not.  The first one is that God is in all things.  The second is that Humanity is divine.  The third is that our thoughts and feelings affect our physical world.  The fourth is that affirmative prayer works.  And the fifth is that we can’t just know these principles, we have to live them.

We’ve been talking a lot the last five weeks about the nature of humanity and the human condition, and I’ve been trying to work these principles more into my every day life, and it has been challenging.

I define “humanity” as Homo sapiens.  I believe that every human contributes to humanity.  I believe that humanity has a physical nature and a divine nature, and that if we aren’t spiritually awoken, we’ll never fully understand what it means that we are divine.

The divine energy, however we wish to define it, is in us, around us, above us, and below us.  Because it is within us and all around us, then we are, by that same thought, within in.  We are divine.  We have a divine spiritual nature.  Humanity is divine by nature.  But we are also immature, and we make mistakes.

If we put the entire life of the planet into a 24 hour day, humans would only have existed for the last two seconds.  We haven’t, as a species, been around very long.  We’re still children in the eyes of the divine spirit, and children make mistakes, but just look how far we’ve come as a species and how much better things are now than they were.  Less people are dying of preventable diseases, we’re living longer, we’re eating cleaner, we’re more understanding of civil and human rights.  We are, very slowly, becoming more mature as a species.  But it isn’t something that will happen overnight.

So what are my contributions to humanity and how does my spiritual path support those contributions?  The fifth principles calls on us to act on our beliefs.  We are all divine in nature, and when we interact with others, we interact with the divine energy in them as they interact with the divine energy in us.

Actions speak louder than words, and I am a teacher.  Not just science to high school students, but I see myself as a spiritual teacher as well.  I’m not one in any official capacity, but with the amount of time that I spend talking about faith and spirituality to people, answering questions that come to me, and helping others to feel better about situations in their lives, I feel like the Gods are pointing me in that direction.  Or at least to notice that this is part of my calling on the planet.

I try to guide people to be more spiritually aware of their divine nature.  I want people to become more spiritual versions of themselves, and when they approach me, I will respond.  But when I’m not approached, I simply model the behavior I want to see in others.

That’s what the fifth principle calls us to do: act on the other four principles in ourselves and model that to others.  Respond to situations that happen in our lives in a positive spiritual manner, and we’ll see the situations around us begin to turn into a more positive situation.

Weddings, Acceptance, and Spiritual Growth

I’ve been maintaining a wedding website through a The Knot, and I was checking to make sure that the information was showing up the way we wanted it to, and saw the countdown on the front page: 148 days.

Erin and I spent the evening before bed sealing and putting stamps on our save the dates to mail them out today.  My mom was at the final hotel (we ended up with three different ones) signing the contract for blocking off a set of rooms for our out-of-town guests.  We’ve ordered samples on our invitations, and we’re waiting on those in the mail.

There’s still a lot to do, and I didn’t realize just how intensive planning a wedding was until I started planning it.  Luckily, my mom has turned into a huge help and has done a lot of the running around.  I’m not entirely sure how I can ever repay my parents for everything they’ve done for this wedding and our wedding present from them (which is our honeymoon!!!!), so I plan on having a happy marriage and lots of grandkids.

One-hundred-and-forty-eight days.  It’ll be here before we know it, and I was reading over the vows and the wedding ceremony the other day, thinking about the words, excited to go through and finalize it all with Erin, and I realized how much peace I felt about my life.

When Erin and I started going to Unity Church, it was because we were looking for a spiritual place to raise our future adopted child.  When the adoption fell through, we leaned on them for support.  We became members and we started getting actively involved there.  We’ve gained so much from them that I will never be able to fully pay back, and when our minister enthusiastically agreed to officiate our wedding, I was both relieved and excited.

Things are moving so quickly here, and everything just keeps getting better and better.  At Unity, the message is always one of inner peace, positive and affirmative prayer, and the understanding that we are never separated from the divine energy within us.

They’ve helped me find my peace with myself and the world around me.  They’ve made me realize that every living creature has the same divine energy running through them that I do, and that when we interact with others, we are interacting with the divine.  It’s made me re-evaluate my thoughts and feelings and pushed me towards more positive and healthy interactions with people in my lives now and people in my past.

I fully realize, now, that our environment and our lives are what we make of them.  That our thoughts and our feelings have a profound effect on our environment and how we think and feel about the situations we find ourselves in.  It’s given me control and given me peace of mind.

I understand that I am only responsible for my actions, thoughts, and feelings.  I control what I say and how I interact with others, and how they respond, or don’t respond, is not my concern.  I want the best for myself and for others.

I am so thankful for all of my life’s experiences that have brought me to where I am today.

TPE – All Paths Lead to God

I’m writing for The Pagan Experience.  This week, the topic is to write on the letters A or B.  To read more blogs on this topic, go here.

One of the things they teach us about in our Education classes is that not all people learn the same way.  Some people learn from seeing while others learn from reading or doing.  To reach all learners where they’re at, we’re taught different ways to teach different types of learners, and we’re expected to use as many of those different types of teaching as possible so we can reach all of our students.

Of course, then the people who haven’t been in a classroom end up throwing it all to shit by forcing all students to take the same test at the end of the year or putting them all through a copy cat system designed to educate people in a way they feel they should be educated, but that’s a different blog for a different time.

What the point for me here is: education doesn’t stop at math, science, history and english… It goes past that into our every day experiences.  We learn many lessons simply by being alive, and many of that flows over into our lives as spiritual beings.  With that being the case, how can we possibly say that this path or that path is the one true and right way to believe?

The answer is simple: we can’t.

I think there’s a general consensus among theists that “God” in whatever name you wish to call Her/Him is all powerful.  That there isn’t anything that our Higher Power can’t do.  They’re aware of all things at all times.

If this is the case, then when we put boundaries on this higher power, we are limiting the divine energy, which is, and many will agree, limitless.  The Gods don’t hate anyone.  That divine energy can’t be hateful.  There is no being in a big chair pushing the punishment buzzer for our mistakes.  If God is limitless and loving, then there is limitless love.  The End.

So what does it say about us that we have a single path of a limited view of this higher power and then try to make all others follow our same path?  Someone may be comforted by the idea of a savior while others may not.  The Bible even suggests that there is more than one God.  Throughout all of Genesis, God refers to “himself” in the plural.  And Cain and Abel’s wives had to come from somewhere, and I don’t believe the incest argument.

Joshua even says, “If worshiping God is evil in your sight, choose this day whom you will serve, whether it is the Gods of your ancestors or those of the lands that you now live in or the Gods of Egypt across the Nile.”  He literally acknowledges all the other Gods that are out there and tells them, “look, it’s okay if you go to worship these other Gods, but don’t start worshiping this God and then stop because He will be pissed.”

Nearly every Pagan I have ever met believes that all paths are okay (except for some who deny Christianity, which you can’t do and still say that all paths are okay).

If the divine energy is limitless, then it must be inside of us because if we say that that energy isn’t, then we are putting a limit on the higher powers.  We are never separated from the Gods.  We are never separated from that energy.  It is in us and we are in it.  With that being the case, the path we are on is a path that connects us with that divine spiritual energy.  We don’t have to follow some set of rules or dogma to connect, we are connected.

Now, it’s okay if you do those rituals and prayers and the rest of it because sometimes we feel disconnected.  Those things we do help us to reconnect to the divine energy within us and around us, so it’s perfectly okay to do whatever we feel we need to do to connect with that energy; however, keep in mind that there is no wrong way to connect.

If something doesn’t feel right to you, then maybe you are on the wrong path.  Maybe it’s time to rethink what your spirit is telling you and work on focusing on connecting to the divine energy rather than what color goes with what corner or that your spell is rhyming correctly.  If those things help you connect, great, but they shouldn’t stress or bother you into feeling like you’re doing something wrong.  If you feel that way, then you are and you should stop completely and re-evaluate.

You are never disconnected from the divine energy, the divine source.  Don’t let anything in your life make you feel that you are, especially if it’s under the guise of being spiritual.

TPE – How I Came to the Faith

I’m writing for The Pagan Experience.  This week, the topic is on Deity and Divine, and we’re to write on those who guide us, inspire us, and inform us.  For more blogs on this topic, go here.

I had originally planned on writing a blog about the Goddess Hathor and how she’s seemed to make her way into my life rather suddenly the last few months, but the energy wasn’t there.

Then, last night, I was at church teaching my class on the Kemetic Faith, and we’d opened the room to questions, and I got asked a question that I get asked quite a bit as a Pagan:

“How did you choose to be Kemetic?  How does anyone choose the Gods they’re going to worship?  I mean, there’s so many of them, do people just point and say, ‘That’s who I’m going to worship?’  How does that work?  And why do they always seem to pick the same ones?”

Well, for me, it started when I was really young.  My family was active in a local Presbyterian church.  We went every Sunday, and I went through the 8th grade curriculum where we did intense Bible study, memorized a bunch of prayers and commandments and Bible verses, learned all about what it meant to be a Presbyterian, and then were confirmed into the church.  We got a Bible as a gift and everyone prayed over us and promised to help guide us through life and into adulthood.

That is, of course, unless you’re gay, which it just so happens that I was.

The kids at the church already didn’t like me too much.  I didn’t fit in with all of them.  I was that weird girl who got along with the adults more than she did the kids my age.  I tried to be friends with them, but I dreaded going to youth group because I never had any friends there.  I started going to my friend’s church, which was a Methodist church, and I found the people there to be slightly nicer, but I think it was mostly because they liked my friend and I was there with her.

Once I started to realize that I was gay, and I think it was one of those things that everyone realized before I did, and that my differences might be more than just skin deep… The rumors started up, and eventually, I felt so unwelcomed at either church that I stopped going to both completely.  It was really, really difficult for me because not only did I lose my church groups, but a good many number of my friends suddenly stopped talking to me as well.  This was the time of the “gay by association” deal, and a lot of people I hung out with were assumed to be gay, even if they weren’t… and a lot of them stopped talking to me.

It also consumed a whole lot of my focus because holy shit… I was gay… and this was new.

And a little scary.

I found out about Paganism from this girl that I had the biggest crush on, who eventually turned into my first girlfriend, and I started reading about it because I wanted to know what she knew.  Eventually, I started calling myself a Pagan or a Wiccan, but it never felt right.  It got to the point where everything just felt forced, I felt abandoned, and alone.

And I got very, very depressed.  My body is littered with the scars from that time in my life.  I have tattoos to cover up some of them, but I can’t cover up my entire body.  My friend, Alex, once told me to be careful with my self-injurious behavior because the feelings I had were fleeting… the scars would be permanent reminders.

And they are.  They’re reminders of a place I won’t let myself go back to, and they’re reminders of how far I’ve come.  Sometimes, I look at them, and I think about that poor, helpless, depressed girl who felt like she had no one and no where to go… and I just want to reach into the past and hug her.

One night, I had hurt myself, and it hadn’t helped me feel any better, and I was crying, laying in my bed, and just wanting to be gone.  I don’t remember what had triggered me, but at that point in my life, it could have been anything.  I thought to myself, “If there’s anybody out there listening to me.. Please… let me know that it’s going to be okay.”

That night, I dreamed that a great big black cat came in through my window… materializing from the moonlight… and curled up on my abdomen.  I pet this cat and pet this cat and the whole time I felt safe.  I felt warm.  I felt loved and protected, and I knew everything was going to be okay.  When I woke up, my hand fell to my stomach as if I’d actually been petting this cat, and I could still feel the way the fur felt on my hands and the weight on my stomach.

She never said anything, but I knew.  Deep down, I had this feeling that the cat was Bastet, who had come to comfort me when I needed Her most.

It was around this time that I happened, accidentally, to find out about the Kemetic faith.  I was screwing around online and found a little blurb about it.  From there, I started researching everything that I could, and it all fit with what I already believed.  It was at that point that I finally felt at home in my beliefs and my faith.

I explained to the girl in my class that I didn’t feel I had chosen said deity, but that said deity had chosen me.  She replied, “Then why is it that the same few Gods keep choosing everyone?  If that was the case, then you’d see more of them if they truly existed, wouldn’t you?”

The Kemetics believe in the power of words.  When something is spoken or written down, it comes into existence.  When things are no longer spoken about, they cease to exist.  We see this a lot in ancient Egypt where the people would try to remove a person completely from the history books, or walls as it was.  If the Gods with the largest cults were the ones who were written about the most, then we’d expect them to be the ones who survived the sands of time.

The more your name is written, the more likely you are to be remembered because it it more likely your name will be seen at least once.  This means that you’re more likely, as the ancients believed, to continue on living.  If that’s the case, then it’s understandable why some of the ancients have survived to call on people while others have fallen to the wayside.

We can’t be chosen by something that doesn’t exist, but since some of the Names have survived through time, the divine spiritual energy has also survived through time and can then choose humans as children and continue to protect and love us as we grown and interact with the physical world.

Infertility Sucks

I got a package in the mail yesterday pertaining to the adoption… and it just brought back all the bullshit that I’d pushed away…  I don’t wish this on anyone.  Ever.  And this… all this needed to be said.  I needed to get it out of me so that I can move forward.

Gender and sexuality have been a big problem for me throughout my life.  I grew up in my female body.  I was raised female by my parents, but there are pictures of me from high school wandering around in my dad’s shirts, carrying snakes, or doing sports, which weren’t the most feminine things.  I’ve always been interested in science and math and messing around with stuff.  I don’t mind getting my hands dirty or carrying my weight with stuff.

I realize this doesn’t mean that no women feel like this because gender is stupid and nothing is really masculine or feminine.

I’ve never felt comfortable in my body, but I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable in a male body either, and I don’t really want to make that decision to find out.  I passed fairly easily as a guy in college for over a year, and I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed being able to go back and forth as well.

So I don’t really consider myself 100% one way or the other, but I’m not sure there’s many people out there who would say they were 100% one way or the other.

One thing I’ve known for a very, very long time was that I wanted to have children.  I wanted to have a family.  I wanted to get pregnant, experience childbirth, and raise kids that came from my flesh and blood.  I’ve known this since high school.

When I was growing up, I had really bad acne.  I went to dermatologist after dermatologist for help, and I got drugs and creams, but nothing really ever worked.  I don’t know if that was because it was just the medicine or that I didn’t use it on a regular basis.  I’m being honest here: I sucked at being responsible growing up, and sometimes I suck at it now.

Eventually, my parents put me on birth control.  It helped my face, and I just went about my business.  Then I started missing days before I just stopped taking it completely.  My acne came back.  My period didn’t.

In fact, I started missing it a lot.  I went to the doctor, and all he said was, “You don’t ovulate because you weigh too much.  You need to lose some weight and it’ll come back.”

I thought that was a lot of bullshit.  How dare he tell me that I’m fat when other people who were bigger than me got their cycles on a regular basis without any issues?  But I heard the underlying issue, and it scared me: I didn’t ovulate.  And if you don’t ovulate, you don’t get pregnant.

I tried to lose the weight, but it only got worse.  I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist, who put me on a study medication, and diagnosed me with PCOS.  But he never saw cysts on my ovaries (that I know of because he never told me), and after the study, I was never treated for the PCOS.  He just let me go.

I went two years without a period, and I knew… deep down, I knew that I wasn’t going to be having children.  I’m not sure how to describe what that realization is like.  If you’re infertile, then you know what’s it’s like.

If you aren’t, and you have children, then take one good, hard look at your kids… their laughing, smiling, screaming, crying faces… and try to imagine what your life would be like if they weren’t there… Take at that love that you have for them and stretch that feeling out to something that doesn’t exist, that might not ever exist…  Look at your friend’s or family’s kids and imagine what it would be like to see them… when you so desperately want your own that aren’t around… and then imagine what that feeling would be like if you went home and they still weren’t there… and never would be because they didn’t exist…

And then maybe you’ll start to understand the feelings of infertility.

When the adoption started happening and everything became real, I thought, “Yes.  Okay, so maybe this isn’t the perfect situation, but this baby needs a home and a family to love and take care of him, and we can be that family.”  But then it didn’t happen… and we were left with nothing.  Not even any reassurance about anything, and later, we got threats of lawsuits and lawyers, as if the knife hadn’t been dug in far enough.

So Erin and I decided to try for ourselves.  We went to the doctor, and I had blood work done.  And that’s when it really happened: elevated testosterone levels, elevated insulin levels… Diagnosis: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  When I had my ultrasound a few days later, the tech pointed out to me all of the cysts all along my ovaries.  15 to 20 per ovary.

I was devastated.

It meant that I would have a very slim chance of getting pregnant without intervention.  It meant that I Erin and I couldn’t try at home.  I meant doctors’ offices and needles and medications.  It meant that not only would it be hard because we were lesbians… but now we had the added problem of an infertility diagnosis.

We tried.  And two weeks later, we were right back where we started.

We decided, then, to wait before we tried again.  Marriage was legal and we wanted to get married, so we decided to focus on that and a honeymoon instead of trying to get pregnant and be pregnant at the same time.  One thing at a time.  But I’d work on my weight loss and eating healthy and working out to maybe help boost my chances when we came back to this in a few months.

But the funny thing about PCOS is… it makes it exceptionally difficult to lose weight.  It makes you crave foods you don’t want, like sweets and junk.  It makes tracking fertility nearly impossible through temperatures.  And the medications make you sick.

I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and try my hardest to tell my failing body that it’s okay and that I love it anyway.  I see my “apple shape” (which is typical of people who have PCOS), and tell myself that if I never get better, that’ll it’ll be okay… and I try, Gods almighty, I try to believe those words.

And I see all my friends and my coworkers and my family who announce their happy news about their incoming addition, and I tell them congratulations and how happy I am for them, and I am… I’m happy because I know how special that event is and how lucky they are, even if they aren’t aware of it themselves.  But part of me breaks a little each time I’m happy for someone else because I don’t get to be happy for myself and I may never get to make those announcements or experience the joy and fear of it all.

And as hard as I try not to think this way, I feel like my body is failing me and failing Erin.  I can’t give her the children we want all easy peasy like so many others seem to be able to do.  I can’t just do the thing and here’s a baby.  I can’t let Erin be a part of the process the way that she wants to be, and the way I want her to be because we have to have drugs, and shots, and ultrasounds, and IUIs and possibly even IVF.. before maybe… maybe we get to bring a baby home.  We have to fork out dollar after dollar just for a chance… and Gods, it’s a slim chance… every month to try to get our chance…

And yes, we could adopt or we could go through foster care, and we’ve thought about it… But this adoption… This failed attempt… It hurt us.  And we’re scared to try that route again right now.  But if that’s what we chose to do down the road, it still won’t change the fact that my body failed us.  In fact, it’ll be recognition of the fact that my body failed and we gave up and moved on.  And that hurts.

I’m doing everything I can.  I take 9 vitamins and my PCOS medication every day like I’m supposed to.  I’m going back to the gym.  I’m eating as healthy as I possibly can without eating nothing but salads… But this isn’t some guarantee that it’ll work.  PCOS doesn’t go away.  It just improves.

It may not always be a problem, but it’s always going to be there.  And that’s not a good way to give a person any kind of hope.

Pathway to Health: 100 Calorie Biscuits

The other day, I sent Erin to the store on her way home from work to pick up some buttermilk for a baked fried chicken recipe (which was amazing by the way, and so much better than actual fried chicken).  Erin ended up getting an entire half gallon because the smaller ones were all sold out.  When I made the chicken, it only called for two-thirds of a cup, so we ended up having a lot left over.

To keep it from going bad, I decided I would make a huge batch of biscuits.  The problem with biscuits, though, is that they’re either insanely unhealthy or the whole wheat can make them like bricks.

Well, I found a recipe that’s a good balance, in my opinion, and I thought I’d shared my modified version of it.

100-Calorie Biscuits, for Freezing

This recipe makes 24 100-calorie biscuits

  • 4 Cups of King Arthur’s Whole Wheat Flour
  • 8 teaspoons of  baking powder
  • half-teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of cold unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of low-fat buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees (Fahrenheit).Photo Jan 19, 1 14 39 PM
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix until even.
  3. Cut the butter into small squares and cut it into the flour until the mixture is in crumbles.  Don’t get frustrated if you can’t get small crumbles because when you start kneading it, it’ll mix better.
  4. Add the buttermilk and mix until a solid lump of dough.  For this, I used a spoon to mix the buttermilk until it stopped running and then I just used my hands to mix it properly. This step takes around 10 minutes to complete.
  5. Put some extra flour out on the counter and your hands then dump the dough onto the counter.  Press it out until it is about one-half inch to three-fourths of an inch thick.  This step is important.  If the dough is too thin, the biscuits will end up hard.  If it is too thick, you won’t get 24 and they’ll be more than 100 calories.
  6. Use the rim of a glass drinking glass or a biscuit cutter if you have one to cut out the biscuits. Place them on a
    greased cookie sheet or baking sheet.
  7. When you run out of space for the first round of biscuits, fold the dough until it is a solid ball again and then repeat steps five and six until you run out of dough.  You should easily get around 24.Photo Jan 19, 1 14 48 PM
  8. Place them in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Biscuits won’t brown very much, and they should be soft to the touch.  Erin described them as “spongy.”  If you cook them too long, the will become hard, so don’t do them for more than 12 minutes.  Trust me, this is enough time.

Now, this recipe will make 24 biscuits.  I was attempting to get rid of my buttermilk and make biscuits to freeze, so I made two batches of these.  I still had buttermilk left, but I ran out of flour.  I made 48 biscuits, and discovering they were 100-calorie was by accident.  I put the recipe into MyFitnessPal, and it gave me the count, which I thought was fantastic.

Photo Jan 19, 7 54 51 PMIf you make them smaller, then they’ll be less calories.  If they’re bigger, then they’ll be more, but either way.. They’re fairly healthy.  Mine were about 2.5-inches in diameter, I think.  And I’ve read numerous nutrition labels saying that this size of biscuit usually has 200+ calories.  I put them in the microwave to cool before putting them into two separate gallon freezer bags.  Now, all I will have to do is place them in the toaster in the morning for a quick breakfast during the week or warm them in the oven for a dinner or weekend breakfast.

The KA WWB stands for “King Arthur Whole Wheat Biscuits.”  I also added the month and date to the label so that I’m aware of old they are.  When you freeze things, it’s important to know how long it has been frozen.  While it will take awhile, things in the freezer will still go bad.

I hope you like them!  We sure have!

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