thank you, Universe

So I read this shitty “boring memoir as self-help book” this weekend. I had bought it some time ago, hoping I could fix my life.

Well, it barely gave me anything new. If you had watched Oprah or Super Soul Sunday, you’ve already learned what this wannabe tough lady wanted to convey to her probably super rich, white, and bored audience.

I may never try to hate read a book again because it was full of phony baloney spiritualist schlock like:

“Fear is a choice!”

“Happiness is a choice!”

You can choose not to be depressed!

If you change how you think, then you can manifest the life that you want!

So much of that is basically just–try harder. But hey, the Universe is there to help you, too.

No mention of the systemic biases like racism, sexism, and homophobia that help keep people oppressed.

No, you should just get off your ass and do something–all with a bunch of affected AAVE speech:

“Thems is some big words…” (that’s not even grammatical for AAVE)

GIRL.

Anyway, it was so poorly organized, I don’t know how it was meant to actually give a reader real ways to change her life without getting lost in the bland pablum this woman was peddling.

I won’t mention the name, but the book has a yellow cover.

I picked up this book because, 1) I was told to (higher self + spirit guides) and also 2) I’m in a bit of a rut or transitional space, something I could been saying for the past 5 years, honestly.

Specifically, I need to increase my sales for my business so I can move out of this godforsaken house and on with my life–and also pay some bills!

As I was chatting with a friend today, it’s not a good thing to be feeling desperate when you’re looking for some answers to your life.

Sure, necessity is the mother of invention, but I think, especially in American society, that desperation can leave you vulnerable to shysters and crooks who want to manipulate into parting with your money.

So OK, I had already bought this book, so no harm there, and I was told to read this book by my spiritual team (if you will, I hate these cheesy-ass labels). I actually got some good things out of it, even if I feel a little scarred after reading it.

But the scarring is adjacent to older scars.

So much of this shit is what I learned growing up in the “faith” movement in the 1980s and 1990s.

If you just have enough faith, you can move mountains (read: get that Cadillac and new house!). It’s shit I’ve been trying so desperately to unlearn, and I basically unloaded more on myself by reading this book.

But yes–what was the good I got out of it?

For one thing, I know how I don’t want to write about spirituality. It was a very inspiring book in that regard.

But the most practical piece of advice for my life right now is about gratitude.

It’s a topic that makes me roll my eyes. It feels like such a burden–and it really shouldn’t (but I’ll get into that in a little bit). But also, it’s so on trend to have an attitude of gratitude.

Even beyond the personal development scensters, gratitude works, and it works really well.

Gratitude has some scientifically proven benefits about improving one’s physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. It’s not like working with crystals or doing rituals where your mileage may vary.

Gratitude has just been a tough practice for me, especially in the past few years. It comes and goes with my emotional state and circumstances. There have been times, though, I’ve been grateful just to have a roof over my head and food to eat because I was technically homeless.

But deep down, there are so many times where I think, life has just been so fucking cruel and unfair. I do not want to write in my gratitude journal, ever. 

And, reading that book, I was reading about a woman who was kind of a dick and ended up with an amazing life.

So then, even when it comes to money, it’s definitely not given to those who “deserve” it, because the Universe finds them to be more morally upright and kind.

These sorts of disparities leave me with some really big, uneasy questions with unwieldy, flighty answers.

Like…

Why are so many kind people being taken advantage of and this self-appointed rockstar guru is given a life that she barely deserves?

Yes, it’s a version of the classic question: why do bad things happen to good people?

That’s probably for another blog post, but I bring it up because 1) I don’t think the Universe just automatically has your back (right? should the Universe be OK with evil people?

and

2) there must be more than just acquiring things and using spirituality to receive those things.

Also

3) there’s a bigger story that we’re all a part of, and we don’t know how it even truly began or where it ends, even after death.

We just don’t know why so many things happen, good or bad, and to what degree we’re involved in those occurrences.

Whew, that’s heavy. But really, that’s to give us all some perspective here, to tether us to something bigger…

So yeah, alright–I have some major impediments to gratitude here, but a daily gratitude practice does help me live a better life, so I need fucking be grateful already…right?

Right.

Finally, the point of this post…

So from this trash heap of a book, the author suggests writing daily thank-you notes to whatever higher power you’re into.

And I think that unlocked a cage of ineptitude that I had been trapped in because when I write “I am grateful for…” there is no object.

It means nothing to me.

I have that same feeling when you have to go around the Thanksgiving table and say what you’re thankful for. Most of us can come up with something that sounds halfway decent.

But usually, I’m sitting there, stewing, thinking life is unfair–when it really is, and I’m not being an entitled bitch about it.

What unlocked for me is that by writing daily thank-you notes to God or Source, etc., there is an object.

We don’t just say “thank you” into a vacuum. We direct our gratitude to a person.

It’s something that even reminds me of worshipping and offering thanks to God, something I grew up doing for most of my life in the form of song. And now, not being in church, that part has been missing for me–that special connection to God (especially through song).

I need to say thank you to the Universe for so many things, even when life is unfair and hard and excruciating. It’s to help me keep perspective of all the good that has happened, so I don’t sit here in a boiling vat of my own bitterness.

And I’m not just writing this down because Oprah said to do it. Definitely science is helping me to do it. But finally, after years of trying to be grateful for whatever is in my life, I can do it in a more directed and meaningful way.

So let me start right now…

thank you note

Thank you, Universe for bringing this book into my life–even if it was chock full of so much of what I don’t need.

I thank you that even though my spiritual team guided me to this book–and I feel like I need to recover from having read it–there’s still some method to the madness, that maybe something beautiful is opening up inside of me for me to share with others who really need to hear it.

Thank you, God, for the good people you’ve brought into my life, especially within the past year. Some have already moved on, but I am grateful for the light and beauty that they brought into my life and whatever good that they graciously accepted into their lives through me.

Thank you that I do have plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for bringing me to a better home where I can safely and freely be myself.

Thank you that the creepy housemate decompensated on me so I could stop wasting my time talking to him like he was sane and also hold the owner of this house more accountable.

Thank you for the chances to be more assertive for my well-being.

Thank you that the mammogram and ultrasound exam I went through on Friday came up with only cysts that will hopefully be aspirated soon.

Thank you for affordable healthcare to get those tests and low copays.

Thank you for all the opportunities that I don’t even know about yet. Thank you for all the opportunities that are available to me now.

Thank you for gifting me with grit, resilience, patience, perseverance, and a sense of humor to keep me from getting too serious.

Thank you that I don’t have to know everything, that I can ask for help early and often, and that I don’t have to do everything on my own.

And thank you, dear reader, for being here and bearing witness.

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a frog’s life 🐸

So, last Friday, I needed to take out the trash because the bums I live with don’t do it often enough, causing this place to be overrun with stupid drain flies.

Every three months, it’s my turn to take out the trash and keep the kitchen and other common areas clean. The two bums barely do their part, but I’m not here to bitch about them.

I’m here to talk about what I found when I went out to take the very full and filthy trash on Friday.

I found this little guy:

2017-12-01 09.37.35

I’m not really into critters, but this is Florida, where there are plenty of them. But seeing this particular critter was strange since I don’t see frogs much around, ever. Lizards and skinks and birds and hawks and opossums and raccoons? Sure.

It has been incredibly humid for what should be our dry season, so maybe that’s why this frog was hanging out in the lid of the trash can.

So yeah–not a fan of critters. I just didn’t want this frog to jump on me. So I dropped my trash bag, took a pic of the frog, and then braced myself to open the lid. I was panicking a little, but I opened it quickly, tossed in the trash bag, and let the lid clatter shut.

And the frog stayed on!

I tweeted this photo and went on with my day, weekend, life. Just a one-off, weird sighting.

So trash day is tomorrow, so again, I took out the trash this afternoon. Pretty quotidian stuff.

Look who’s back?

2017-12-06 16.09.30

I’m actually shocked because I’m not expecting to see the same damn frog five days later. This time, I know it’ll stay put when I open the lid. So I open the lid, toss in the trash, and close the lid. And sure enough, the frog stays.

But this time, the frog and I have to take a trip to the curb. I roll the trash can down our driveway and the frog stays on for the ride.

I’m concerned, though. Our trash pick-up involves a mechanical arm that picks up the trash can, empties it, and puts it back down. Maybe the frog will hop away in time?

I’m not really an Earth Mama, but I probably should be. I do enjoy taking pictures of nature the most, more than people.

I’ve had encounters with hawks showing up in our backyard. I saw my first hummingbird hanging out by a camellia bush. I saw a black racer (a harmless snake) on the street and then in our yard.

Lately, I’ve befriended the squirrels in the backyard. They race back and forth on our wooden fence. And by befriend, I mean having staring contests.

It’s like Wild America! around here.

But to have a frog be in the exact same spot twice in five days–it’s a little weird.

There’s some symbolism and meaning related to the frog, but I’d rather just talk about what the frog means to me.

I look at this frog, with its big pale eyes, huddled in this trash can lid. Its front legs are tucked under its head. It’s not really in the mood to go anywhere. It seems settled. Anthropomorphically speaking, it looks contemplative and a little sad, like it’s almost sleeping with its eyes open.

The only message I got for me personally was that sometimes, we have to huddle in places that aren’t ideal, like inside a trash can lid, but we have to be patient. We have to hold on when our environments change (e.g., the lid opens and closes).

We have to hold on.

To see a frog near the end of fall in the dry season is strange for me, and honestly, unlike the squirrels and hawks and butterflies that almost accost me, I don’t even know if this frog was sent for me. He or she could be a sign of climate change, I don’t know.

But I do identify with the frog, so much, with its sad, melancholic eyes. My house feels like living in a trash can lid, and that my room has become that little crevice I can hide in and hold onto as circumstances change.

Seeing this frog is not that deep, and yet: it felt like an extension of myself, like some living allegory of my life in real-time. Maybe I’m just seeing and accepting the messages from the Universe more clearly and quickly.

Even today, the synchronicities have been crazy, like everything has become a self-referential loop–even more than usual. Repeated phrases and topics from unexpected places. The frog is a part of that divine loop now.

Maybe, just maybe, the frog could be a harbinger of needed positive change in my life.

Or maybe, just maybe, the frog is just trying to find a place to be left alone and is just trying to hold on.

All I can hope is that it, and I, hop away in time.

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some bad poetry

I’m here

Again, stuck in the orbit of a faraway planet,

Kinda looks like Neptune from here…

I’m circling ’round and ’round and ’round,

With no permission to land, or explore…

And I get sick to my stomach as I do these spiritual

Somersaults,

Alone, in this inky nothingness,

Punctuated by dots of light messages

From already dead things.

 

All I have right now

as some trite transmission to your home base

is half-baked,

really bad poetry

to show you that this interstellar mission

to get home

involves you, somehow.

 

Permission to land?

Permission to land?

Permission to

Land.

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Calling on the right ones

call-for-help-1518789

Photo credit: Tim Van Damme

This is a long one, so just sit back and get cozy.

I wrote this two months ago, and I didn’t publish it because I felt super whiny, albeit rightly so. It’s a little scattered, like the energy that swirls around in the U.S. So I apologize in advance for the motifs and metaphors that come and go.

Two months later, not much has changed in my life, and this topic of asking, and not receiving, is still very relevant right now. Today is Day 120 of unemployment and under this moon in Pisces, I feel very done.

Pisces is the last sign in the zodiac, so that’s also why I feel done. Pisces is a water sign and it’s very intuitive, but also very emotional. So I also feel like a catharsis from the past 4 months.

The pain I’m enduring is not being wasted. The isolation I’m experiencing is not being wasted. The incessant asking that isn’t being answered is not being wasted. I have to believe in the law of conservation of energy: 

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; instead, it transforms from one form to another.

I’m still scared, but not as much. And I’m still sad, but not as much. When I woke up after I thought about all this, the black weighty gloom lifted, just a little.

I cannot tell  you how many times I’ve repeated this process, of pushing the tag team twins of doom and gloom off of me, like I’m under too hot of blankets. It’s becoming an almost everyday process, of choosing to be here, of choosing not to look at my circumstances and letting that be the only story told about who I am and my purpose here on Earth.

This morning, before I was officially awake, I was blogging in my head. Maybe the correct term is ruminating. Either way, my adventure with NaNoWriMo must have kicked on my loquacious Mercury in Sagitarrius writer’s button, because now, I can’t stop writing.

I know that keep writing about the same topic, over and over. I also feel like I’ve been running in place for over four years–that Sisyphean energy.

What’s this all worth, really?

Fixed candles are burning, pink and green, pulling down love and money respectively. I’m waiting to be called for my phone interview with a former employer [That went well, but there may not be a decision until, at the latest, March?]. ETA: I heard back yesterday when I checked in, and there will be no face-to-face interview. Today [January 31st] I also got another rejection from the worst phone interview I’ve ever had. Friday, I got a rejection from what I thought was my dream job. 

Clouds are starting to gather as I see our resident vultures gliding high in the air. I’ve been listening to Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, over and over. It’s been reported to be a breakup album, from when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow. It sounds more like their old stuff. I actually need to stop before I start hating it. But hey, you can use this as the soundtrack for this post.

What I was blogging in my head has escaped me a bit, mainly because I resolved that angsty puzzle. But I remember now.

Today, in two different tarot/oracle card decks, I pulled the equivalent of Three of Swords: heartache, sadness, loss. It was definitely a reading of my energy–maybe it’s just the residue, or it’s just always there.

I’m already loathe to talk about this, because I can hear my own inner critic join the chorus of my fellow Americans who have bought into the bootstrapping myth, as if any of us can make it without any help. There are so many conversations I’ve had with friends about the value in asking for help and the importance of community, and they are all running in my head right now.

Under this full moon in Gemini, which is not helping with keeping my head clear due to the streaming of information, I’m thinking about the losses of this year. Besides struggling with a job loss, I did lose a few friends. I’ve gotten wise about how life works, though. So many lessons in the losses… mainly I was trying way too hard with those friendships. It’s a bad habit that has cost me time and money. I’m finally sensitive to not trying to make anything happen.

But with those losses, I’m doing a lot of grinding by myself.

I’ve had to really upgrade my definition of “friend.” Right now, I have a lot of really good acquaintances and not a lot of friends. And as an immigrant’s daughter, there really isn’t family to fall back on during hard times. I fall back on myself.

I’m resilient, very resilient. And I tire of it. I remember telling my therapist in grad school of my exhaustion with my own indefatigable spirit.

I look at my unemployment, which is the longest stretch I’ve ever had, and wonder when it will end. It keeps unfurling, like a long, blank scroll, emphasis on blank.

And I know why I resent my resilience. There’s some inner child wounding being healed as I go through this valley, places inside of me that need parenting and re-parenting. have to do it, no one else. I have to release the need, the compulsion, of my parents to come in and take care of me.

It’s not a bad one, this need. It’s 100% natural. It’s how the parent/child relationship is set up. But when the parents are unable or unwilling, you have to take up the slack. And I don’t like it. Thankfully, even the acknowledgement of not liking it is a step towards healing.

Yes, I deserved better support and guidance, and yet, I didn’t receive it. And yes, in order to move forward, I have to just (suck it up) take care of myself.

I don’t necessarily believe in shitty circumstances being orchestrated  in your life, just so you can learn things. That’s a bit self-absorbed, in my opinion. I am 100% sure that the Universe would rather draw us through kindness.

The way I see life is that shitty things will happen, regardless of whether I’m at the “proper vibration” or whether I had enough “faith.” The question isn’t if those things will happen–it’s when. And then what are you being invited to do? How will your RSVP, oui ou non?

Not finding work as quickly as I need isn’t some grand universe conspiracy. But I have been invited to slow down, reassess my life, and continue to bring healing to that deserving inner child that seems to have been left by herself. I’ve also been invited to trust the Universe in ways that are frightening–at least for a Capricorn sun and a Cancer moon. Job and housing insecurity would probably frighten most people, though.

Until I came down here to Florida for grad school, I never really realized how much I relied on myself and on my friends. I don’t know if I took my friends for granted, or even myself. I hope I’ve always come from a place of gratitude.

The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve become active on social media–and thank goodness because otherwise, I’d be worse off in all ways–and not connected to people locally. That’s mainly because of money: it costs to hang out with people, even if you’re just driving to meet up to do something free. I’ve been able to give myself a lot of patience and grace with this, and I need to give myself even more.

I did realize, though, that culturally, the way I was raised as a Ghanaian does not mesh well with the “rugged individualism” of America. Looking back, I can see how my family’s relationships with other Ghanaian families weren’t a luxury, they were a necessity. We went out of our way to go on road trips to visit people in Michigan, Georgia, Louisiana.

Even though I’m not close with most of those families anymore, I still consider them as family–somewhat. Even with this current lack of closeness, you could say that American culture has started to erode our bonds. Not to be too simplistic, though–because I know there are a myriad of reasons why people grow apart over time. Still, we’ve gotten absorbed in our own lives.

But I’m still wired to go out of my way. Yet, there are fewer and fewer people to go out of my way for. And vice versa.

And that was a big lesson this year. I was going out of my way for people who would never make that effort back. And now, they are gone. Effort can’t solve everything.

It’s been a funny journey for me with my willingness to asking for help. I have loathed hating asking for help, and it’s possible I’m living a self-fulfilling prophetic nightmare. Before I even made it to Florida, I had to ask for help to get down here. Since I’ve been here, I’ve asked and asked and asked–and I’m still asking. To hear the silence roaring back in response to my request, and not have it be about me, to not have it be that I’m not deserving or that I’m unworthy or whatever other ugly self-judgments that I have to fight off…I know I’m learning a few things from that.

  1. I’m not the only one whose voice isn’t being heard or heeded to. There are people all over the world who ask help for help and are ignored.
  2. Asking for help doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be helped by the ones I ask.
  3. Related to #2, this message came across Twitter earlier today: I’m not asking for too much, but I’m asking the wrong people.

This last message, about who to ask, has been a mindbender for me. I’ve looked back at how I’ve been provided for in ways that were unexpected. As a Capricorn, I really like efficiency. I just want the big ole windfall, the amount of money that will take care of everything all at once. But that’s not what I’ve been invited to receive.

My ultimate invitation, every day, is to trust the Universe, for everything. When it gets to brass tacks stuff: my bills, food, shelter, transportation–it’s scary. My hierarchy of needs pyramid is on fire, starting from the bottom. It’s admittedly crazy-making. Not having enough money is stressful and can cause you to not think clearly.

Through that fog of confusion, I can clearly see that the right one to ask for help from is the Universe. I’ve been incredibly stubborn and resistant about this change because it’s not how I usually have gotten things done. Being resilient and rallying for help when I needed–it hasn’t been as difficult as it has been for the past few years.

And again, the struggle is not to make this about my self-worth, i.e. it’s not raining money on you, so that means you don’t matter.

This has been a baby stepwise process. (Aren’t all life journeys?) I’ve talked about this before. There have been a few times that I talk to Archangel Ariel,  who is known to help with  earthly needs, and audibly ask, “What else can I do? I’ve got nothing.” Something seems to always happen: I get more time to pay something, or money shows up. I’m in a similar place this month, and I don’t know how things will be taken care of.

I’ve gone through this so many times, though. I should be a pro. But every time, I feel like this is some major test of my existence.

Somehow, faith is being grown, in this rocky, dusty soil of my life. I’m not sitting here panicking, like I usually would. I’ve had to find my worth outside of the number of friends I have, whether I feel overlooked and misunderstood or not, whether I have a job or not, whether I’ve had a car or not, whether I had a BA or not, whether I’ve been in a relationship or not.

That’s what’s being transformed in me, right now, in this cauldron of waiting and wondering and worry: these precious, priceless gems of my true worth.

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when there’s nothing else left to say

silence-1401486

Winter in Switzerland – tomtown

My birthday was yesterday. It was uneventful–fortunately, and a little unfortunately. I did want to go to the beach, but there was fog and rain in the forecast. The beach is about an hour away, which is wonderful, but it’s still a little out of reach. If I’m going to drive out an hour, I’d better stay more than two hours.

So,  I stayed home, watched movies (Frozen and the music doc oasis: supersonic), drank sparkling rose, ate chocolate cake, and then learned George Michael died in his sleep. A double Cancer with a Leo moon. I’m still gutted about his death about how much I took his immaculate talent for granted, how he was so easily vulnerable in his music.

I have a job interview tomorrow at the old gig, but with different people. I feel alright about it, not too nervous, but not too confident. It’s going on 3 months of unemployment (and hey, if you want to donate to my fundraiser, click here). It’s hard to feel anything besides that I just need to do the best I can and leave it up to the Universe to say yay or nay. A sigh of a resignation is all I can give as I try to surrender a little more, resist a little less.

Having some freelance work on the side has brought a little sense of normalcy, but then I hear that godawful cough of my old ass roomie, and then I know there can be more. There must be more.

Right now, spiritually, I’m beyond tapped out. Maybe it’s more like low tide. Not much new is being brought it. There’s plenty of shit to send out, shit I don’t need anymore, mostly emotional shit.

This lack of activity and aliveness reminds me of when I left church years ago. I had heard all I needed to hear. If I was ever to return, I would need to find people who were more open to acting upon what they had heard vs. just consuming yet another meal.

This time, I’ve heard all I’ve needed to hear. The oracle cards keep repeating themselves.

One card that I have been repeatedly, and hilariously, pulling has been about music. Three times recently, I pull the card, I promptly forget about it, and then listen to music for hours. Besides the fact that noise-canceling headphones prevent me from hearing the death rattling cough of the somewhat middle-aged, somewhat senior roomie, it’s been healing to get lost in music again. I don’t know anything beyond that, whether I should find some band or be my own band. I don’t feel that compulsion. It seems more linear–music plugging into sooth my ragged emotional state. Today, I got lost in a Twitter thread about JoJo. I listened to her and got teary. That Sag lady is gifted.

I’ve heard all I’ve needed to hear, and, I’ve done all I can do. The only thing to do is patiently wait for the relief that I’ve worked hard to obtain.

This year, I’ve been lead to keep taking leaps of faith, where ultimately, I land on face–hard. And that’s life. Even for a very cautious double Capricorn that needs to calculate risk like the best actuary. This is life. The road burn on my face, on my heart, is my life, are signs of life. It doesn’t soothe me, hearing that just now, but it justifies the injuries. These are the occupational hazards of a human, living.

Even though my Cancer moon may work overtime to connect the dots of everything, this time, felt like the outcome I wanted would be immediate and apparent. It’s been neither of those things. It’s been exhausting and humiliating. Yet I got to a point yesterday that I didn’t care what happened anymore. Caring is heavy. Caring is tiring. Caring can be so Sisyphean. I was going to be fine. I’ve always been fine.

I just glossed over this feat, this accomplishment. It’s a big deal to say that I’ll be fine no matter what. It’s true. And that’s why apathy can creep in and protect me. Is this zen or a collapse? Or both? Or both.

All I know is that I did my part. That’s what comforts me, like a cozy blanket to fall asleep under.

I did my part. I did what I was told. I followed the guidance. I took the whistling kettle off the stove. I did my part. I heard you. Clearly.

Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but either way, I wish I were brave or wise enough to say that it was worth it. I can’t say that now–it’s too soon to tell. Even though that this is life, that this is my life, that the hurt is a vigorous shoot pushing through the soil  of life, I still feel like I’ve been reckless, with myself. But I haven’t had any choice in it.

Even still, I’m already putting on my warm coat of disinterest and heading out the door.

I’ve got to get out of here.

As a Capricorn, I crave material security. I seemed to have only experienced it in fleeting moments this year. I haven’t been able to pin it down and really own it. It’s been crazy making the past three months. The uncertainty and the vulnerability tag team me and try to choke me out. But as I am slowly provided for, I don’t want to get all crazy with things like hope and faith, but maybe things are turning around. I’ll break out a noisemaker of cautious optimism, and then I’ll put it back under lock and key.

I can maybe trust in the pattern of change. Maybe.

As 2016 is hobbling towards its final exit on Saturday night, I feel that I’m being shrouded in a resolute, defiant silence.

I know what I want. I know what I need. They are all one in the same this time. And I know I deserve all this and more.

What else is left to say?

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