Issue #7: Full Moon Fever (wink wink)
Happy December, friends. We have a beautiful full moon rising tonight, the last one of the year, illuminating the shadows and bringing us to the end of a cycle. These next few weeks are about rest, reset, and family. Who knows what 2022 holds? No matter what, I’m going to keep looking for beauty and truth and points of connection.
Thanks for being here.
I’m inspired all the time by other artists. Anyone who can express their deep truth, their voice, their opinion - anyone who is brave and can make me laugh and cry and think - that’s the stuff right there. It’s beautiful to me.
Watching other creators be fearless and brave with their art helps me muster up the fortitude to do the same. Because let’s face it, as artists, we take chances and sometimes have to let our ass hang right out the window.
For the past six years, I’ve been following an account on Instagram by a woman named Lindsay Byron, known as @lux_atl. She’s a writer, a poet, a musician, and a storyteller - and she’s also a wickedly talented stripper, a mom, a wife, and a PhD.
And when I say ‘stripper’ - yeah, I mean exotic dancer. She’s an absolute badass on the pole. Voted best stripper in Atlanta in 2015. And when I say PhD - yeah, she has a full doctorate in English Literature from a real university. She’s sexy and smart. The real deal. Of course I adore her.
But it’s not just all that. This chick is wickedly funny. She does stuff like jiggle her ass on an Instagram Story while reading Macbeth in pigtails.
Now, I am a woman who has always had stage fright.
If you read my first book, you know I hung out with plenty of strippers in my day, but I was never brave or confident enough to try and earn money that way. I just never wanted my ass to hang out.
But here she has taken what used to feel dangerous to me and has turned it on it’s head. Or maybe - turned it on it’s ass? I don’t know. It can’t be too dangerous if it makes me laugh.
Either way, she’s fierce, and this is what inspires me - her bravery and absolute no bullshit attitude about her work. She gets a lot of creepers, critics, and haters, though, and her response to them in one of her recent IG posts really floored me (emphasis mine):
I am generally very nice and never want to come across as a bitch. But lemme tell ya how I really feel.
I am not open to inboxes from strangers—nor friends—critiquing my posts, my viewpoints, my imagery, nor my tone. Y’all can really keep it moving. I did not submit a paper to a professor for grading when I posted on this app. I put free art and entertainment onto a platform out of the generosity of my heart. “My presence is a present,” as Ye would say. I am an artist. I am not anyone’s elected official. And I expressly DO NOT follow orders.
The moral superiority and finger-wagging sanctimony over the most minute of “offenses” is pathetic and embarrassing. It is also quickly becoming passé, so since y’all mostly concerned with “looking correct” to your peers instead of actually affecting any real change, lemme give you a head-start on the next zeitgeist. Every forward thinker I know is over this shit and back onto actual messy truth-telling and nuance. The era of purity culture is ending.
See y’all in 5 years when you remember me saying this now.
If you’re looking to scare someone into obedience with your call-outs and corrections—
I ain’t the one.
I grew up in much meaner streets than Instagram, homie.
She is such a rock star. She herself is a work of art. She literally lets her ass hang out all over the place and she’s turned it into a big beautiful life, lifestyle, business, and she has used her talents to help and inspire a lot of people.
Including me. Here is to more truth-telling and nuance and lettin’ yer ass hang out.
Over the past few years of writing, coaching, and teaching, I’ve made friends with a few other women who are creatives and freelancers, and we have a small mutual admiration thing going on which is really cool, because I always feel like a lone wolf out here, working by myself and trying to figure things out.
Once in a while we hop on a call or on Zoom to check in and offer whatever support we can as we walk this creative path. It’s great to see how other people are doing it and be able to ask questions.
I talked to my friend, Lauren, last week - she has built a really nice business with her writing, coaching, and teaching - and I reached out when I was hitting a wall and needed some advice and insight about how to do what I want to do. I have some plans for next year. Lauren is fearless and so generous. She pretty much downloaded her brain and I took mad notes and holy cow - I’m so inspired.
I have SO MUCH WORK TO DO including all the back-end IT stuff for which I am one step below competent - luckily, I like to tinker and I’ve always had a DIY attitude - but there is a learning curve, and it can slow me down.
But my mindset has always been: Go fast. Go slow. Just don’t quit.
My friend Clare and I have been on the horn a few times lately to compare notes and she’s been teaching classes on a variety of topics mostly related to the mind-body connection, intuition, self-compassion, creativity, and fight or flight responses. She’s located over in the UK, and she has this calming, beautiful voice with a most delightful way of saying things. (If you want to know more about Clare’s work, CLICK HERE)
Anyways, Clare and I talked about all that this week on the Zoom and she was asking me how Library Confidential, the memoir, was coming along, as she is intrigued by the story - and although I’ve had some terrific insights and moments of deep clarily, I had to confess that I’d made zero actual word count progress these past few weeks. I’m not really stuck - I kinda just don’t wanna.
I’m still processing.
It’s just the way it goes sometimes, and no judgement at all from Clare. Nothing but compassion.
Then, she shared with me a few insights about what she’d picked up on from talking to me and reading my work over these past few months.
Isn’t it amazing when someone is really paying attention? Deep, loving attention? Oh, my gosh, what a gift.
She’d resonated with the examination of pain in the workplace, the culture of compliance, and how the people who stand up and speak out are often the people who are turned on by their peers.
How people are stuck in habitual ways of being in pain and how it comes out so cruelly when their status quo is threatened. How earning a paycheck is often more important than personal values and how people cope with that incongruence - which does not bring out the best in human nature. They don’t want anyone to rock the boat if it threatens their comfort (and misery) in any way.
WHOA. Holy crap, whoa. Clare articulated it so clearly that I grabbed a pen and started scribbling notes.
The things she mentioned are things that I’ve been feeling but haven’t been able to acknowledge.
And as I had this conversation with Clare, with all of these insights, it brought me to the topic of anger. I’d seen a quote earlier in the week that was compelling - and it all clicked in my brain.
“Your anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse are unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well, and with kindness. Your anger is a part of you that LOVES you.”
There was this crazy fear-based passive-aggressive mindset at my old job that was really hard to navigate. I’m sure I engaged in some of it - and maybe that’s why I always felt so icky. I hated it. I hated having to play along with the mean girls so that I could gain points and favor to be able to do my job better - even when I knew they never had my best interests in mind.
When things started going really wonky those last 6 years, I questioned management and stuck my neck out and spoke up all the time. I’d been there long enough, I knew the system. But, by the end of my career there, I had a reputation as a troublemaker, I’d filed two complaints against management and involved the union, HR wouldn’t answer my emails, we’d had multiple good people quit and flee for their sanity - and my coworkers thought I should stay silent about the abuse we endured when the City knowingly ignored us for YEARS and allowed a reign of terror to not only continue - but to flourish.
Now, I am not an angry person. Like, I have moments of annoyance that pass, and sometimes I’m impatient with traffic or whatever - but I am generally a very happy and positive person. I am intentionally careful with the words I use to speak, both to myself and out loud. Words hold great power. And, anger is not a word that I would use to describe me, and I’m pretty sure no one else would either. It’s just a low energy state of being, and I am super-aware of it when I dip low and go there. It’s dwelling in the shadow.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read Dr. David R. Hawkins’ Power Vs. Force, but if you’re into energy dynamics, it's a fascinating and powerful book.
I love this stuff so much. I’m posting a graphic of his Map of Consciousness and some of the basic concepts because you can see exactly where Anger energy lies.
Below the line is where the shadow in us dwells.
And, so much of memoir is about “shadow work”.
What I mean by that is the process of examining your own behavior, biases, fears, overreactions, addictions - whatever dark burden that you carry through life - and how it affects the decisions you make as you write about certain events for your memoir.
You have to face those shadows, examine them, maybe explain them (even if only to yourself), maybe make fun of them because sometimes our earlier selves were silly or naive - but you can’t really do deep memoir work without inspecting the shadow.
The point of the memoir, in many ways, is to raise your vibration by telling your truth.
Can you see the energy phases one might have to go through to muster up the courage to actually start a memoir?
Or to stand up to an unjust situation?
Where you might start in shame, and end up in enlightenment?
It’s almost a narrative arc. A hero’s journey.
And Anger is part of that process. I see how I moved through it as I was living out the drama at the library. The diagram outlines it perfectly.
I think it’s something to share with my memoir clients, for sure.
There’s no other way to say it: The last few years of my job, I was angry. Like, really, righteously, blazingly angry.
Of course I denied it and stuffed it all down and made the best of it for the paycheck for as long as I could, but it affected me in so many ways.
I always thought I was sad about the state of things. There was a grief aspect to it - mourning my career.
But after grief, once I accepted that I was in this situation, I was angry. I’m finally coming to terms with it. Admitting it. And it’s probably why I’ve been avoiding it.
But I need to call it what it is, and was: Anger.
I was angry at the way I’d been treated, and I was angry at the way my coworkers were treated. I was angry at the inept and vicious management who were experts at gaslighting. I was angry at decisions that weakened the library, put staff at risk and eroded quality service, I was angry at services and programs being subject to political volleyball or dependent on never-ending grant cycle hoops to jump through. I was angry at soft bureaucrats making decisions for us without knowing how we operated. I was angry at the bullying from management who targeted specific people for specific reasons - and I was angry about my coworkers being too passive to step up for themselves.
I was angry at myself for not quitting sooner.
Most librarians - and most government employees in general - do not like to rock the boat. Many of them simmer in Anger (or worse - Apathy) for YEARS before they retire. No one is willing to hang their ass out the window. Pensions are on the line, you know?
But once the pandemic hit and things got REALLY crazy, I sensed that there might be a chance to help change things. I moved from Anger to Pride to Courage on the energetic scale. I was sick of being messed with.
Mind you , there was never a plan. More just like a series of events that unfolded after I lobbed a softball at management and they acted in a way that did not make them look favorable.
I know now that it was my anger directing me to act. Some survival instinct. Some need to level up. Maybe it was just love for myself (and my coworkers) and my own sense of basic dignity that pushed me along.
There is something powerful about anger, if properly directed.
Have you ever been stuck, really wanting an outcome to manifest and not sure how to make it happen, but you start poking the bear? To push back on the bullies a bit?
To see if they’ll fuck up? Overreact? Show their hand? Make a fool of themselves?
To your delight, did they ever take the bait? Hang themselves with all the rope you gave them?
Did they show their ugly old ass?
Did your righteous anger ever lead you down a dark but necessary path? One that you had to sacrifice something in order to influence the outcome you knew was justified?
Ever make a deal with the shadow? To use it as wisely and judiciously as possible so that it doesn’t come back to mess with your own karma? Wanting the truth to come out, and when it does, it feels like sweet, cold revenge and that the Universe is all just, right, and good?
Well, I think I did. I think I did all that. It wasn’t pretty. Coworkers who I thought were friends were, in fact, not my friends at all. We were all on a ship of fools for a while, caught up on the rocks, doing the best we could. I still love them and always will and I hope we can all forgive our own follies and humanity and the ridiculous situation we were put in.
But - I have no regrets. Not a damn one. I hung my ass out there and came out better for it.
And it’s all going to be one hell of a story once I get my butt in gear.
We have one old 46” Sony TV in the house, bought in 2010, along with an old DVD/VHS combo that still works fine according to my husband. There’s a few other boxes, wires, speakers, four remotes, and some kind of weird sensor near the TV that the cat messes with every day. I touch nothing. Hub drives the whole jalopy like a souped up VW Bus, complete with misfires and curse-words and a bit of physical effort to steer the thing. He refuses to upgrade until the whole system blows.
My hub is the TV & movie guy. It’s his thing. Before kids, we’d make our way through seasons of stuff like Six Feet Under and The Wire (Rip Omar) and we’d watch a lot of movies.
My absolute favorite thing to watch, though, are survival and homesteading shows. Man, I love that stuff. I’m sure I got it from my Dad.
These days we enjoy TV as a family almost every night. We are on a Seinfeld run right now, and the kids love it. An episode a night before bed is good for the endorphins. We try to expose them to as much cultural stuff from our generation as possible.
We do have DirecTV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, HBOMax, all that. So much TV content I can’t comprehend it all. So, hub just records stuff he thinks I’ll like. If I hear of something that sounds interesting I’ll mention it to him because I couldn’t set it up to record even if I wanted to. I do not know the different remotes or their functions, don’t know all the little boxes or menus or logins.
I do not know how to drive the jalopy. Three other people in the house know how to drive it. I do not.
And you know, I don’t want to know. I make decisions all day long about stuff related to life, writing, business, family, food, pets, chores, money - and by the time I sit down to watch TV, I’m toast.
I don’t care. I’ve got between 20-45 minutes before I pass out. Just feed me something funny or interesting or informative. Poignant is fine, just no long movies to fall asleep to, no horror, spiders, zombies, MMA, no soldiers, war, anime, or dystopia.
He saves all that for after I go to bed.
Now, we don’t usually watch award shows or anything like that, but he did tape the recent Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction, which included The Go-Go’s.
Earlier this year, we had watched the newest documentary about them, so I was up to speed in that regard. I mean, I first heard The Go-Go’s when I was 10 years old in the 4th grade, roller skating to Beauty and the Beat in Molly Gregory’s basement in Westerville, Ohio. Of course, back then I had no idea how special The Go-Go’s were - I just assumed that there were other girl bands out there. But no. There weren’t many.
So anyways, before we watched The Go-Go’s play their set, Hub made me watch the introduction by Drew Barrymore.
And yeah, I know, she’s a professional actress, trained in the art of memorizing and delivering lines with passion and emotion - but holy cow, the girl blew me away.
Her induction speech was so heartfelt, so real - so funny, poignant, truthful - it sure didn’t feel like a rehearsed performance. And maybe it wasn’t. She delivered it masterfully.
Of course, I cried. I cry when I hear truth delivered from the heart. Little Gertie pulled off what was honestly one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard.
We keep a box of tissues near the sofa and he always knows the exact right time to hand me one.
I absolutely LOVE stand-up comedy. Ever since I was a kid, listening to and watching Eddie Murphy and George Carlin and Joan Rivers and Whoopi and Robin and Ellen and basically any stand up comic who had a set on The Tonight Show. This past year I got caught up with watching Fortune Feimster - her Sweet & Salty special made me laugh and cry. More tissues. I love that stuff.
I consider stand-up comedy to be one of the purest, most basic art forms. Just a person on a stage alone, communicating some basic, funny, human truth. How can we be angry when we are laughing? Right? RIGHT?
I’ve always secretly longed to be a stand up comic - but there’s that stage fright thing and showing my ass.
So - I do this instead. Maybe someday I’ll tiptoe in a little closer.
Hub taped a comedy show recently called Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age. And yeah - it is exactly what it sounds like.
He takes chances on a lot of stuff, and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not - I kind of rolled my eyes for a minute at the thought of listening to a bunch of middle aged women (hello me) bitch about menopause and saggy boobs, but what the heck, we gave it a chance.
I’m so glad we did.
Lo and behold, another actress surprised me - Teri Hatcher. She delivered a really good, professional, funny set - full of truth, story, irony, vulnerability, strength. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone on a stage and tell stories about your vagina, you know?
Every comic was great on this special, but it’s been a while since I laughed as hard as I did at the bombshell that is Monique Marvez. Holy cow. What a force of nature.
Hub and I were on the floor, howling in laughter. If you haven’t seen the “buzzards nest on a cliff'' joke - well. Find it if you’re curious. And if you like dirty kinda raunchy humor. Not for the easily offended, so be warned.
What I loved about Monique Marvez is what I love in every artist - expressing her truth. Boldly. Irreverently. Bravely. She owned it. She laid down one of the single funniest comedy sets I’ve ever seen - and I’d never heard of her before. So of course I looked her up and educated myself and now I hope she does more comedy. I like her style. I like her fierceness. Being her unique self, telling her truths wrapped in jokes.
Hanging her ass right out there.
I always tell my memoir clients that you shouldn’t write a memoir while you are still processing the trauma and toxicity from the situation you want to write about. There has to be some distance. Time and emotional.
I also tell them that you really shouldn’t write from a place of anger, or revenge. You can’t write a hit piece and expect good things to come back to you - energy doesn’t work that way. And trying to write an entire memoir, stuck in that anger? For years? Not good.
So - anger, no - TRUTH - YES.
HUMOR - YES. COMPASSION - YES.
LOVE - PEACE - ENLIGHTENMENT — YES YES YES.
But you have to move through the shadow, and you have to keep trying to level up. Courage is where you start hanging your ass out there, as an artist and a person.
As a writer.
I knew it would take a while to detox from my old job, and to gain some perspective. I’ve given myself plenty of time and space. I can give myself as much as I want. I’m the boss of me now.
And eventually I’ll birth the raw and vulnerable truth of my story - and what responsibility I bear for the outcome.
And when I look at the outcome - how could I be anything but grateful?
The past six months has honestly been one of the happiest times in my life, being away from a toxic soul-sucking environment. Being able to do my work. Take care of my family.
Now I’m just a rebellious work-at-home rock n’ roll mom with a wicked sense of humor, looking for inspiration, beauty, and truth wherever I can find it.
I’m not sure if I’m at enlightenment yet, but I sure am at peace. It’s a beautiful view from up here.
I think I’ll start hanging my ass out the window a whole bunch more. All these women have inspired me.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my friends. See you on the other side!