014. A summoning.

1. The way rain sounds as it beats down on the yard, the roof, the streets outside our window.

2. That stickiness that comes with roiling thunder and flashes of lightning.

3. It feels different this morning, the air does. As if the atmosphere, too, is waiting with bated breath for autumn to arrive.

4. Family meetings and laughing so hard my abs cramp and my eyes tear up.

Chonathan.

I hope these memories are the ones that stay.

5. Black paint and owning our dreams. Let’s paint the fireplace and the cabinets and drape the couches in sumptuous textures!

deliberate. languid. measured. steady.

I dig through the basket of unfolded but clean clothes for my favorite tee as he saunters down the dark hallway.

I can hear his ankles clicking.

What’s that bone called anyway?

. . . I googled it; it’s called a malleolus.

Yes, saunters. He’s in no rush.

We both move a little slower these days. Whether it’s our years catching up to us or the feeling of being settled—finally, blissfully settled—I’m not sure, but the saunter suits him.

So, I linger.

I stop searching for my beloved white tee and I watch him as the expanse of his back seemingly fills our hallway, drinking him in as the sun begins its ascent just outside our open windows.

Slow. It suits us.

pulling back from the curated.

A dear friend and I were discussing the pressures of perfect, perfected, aesthetic, curated just the other day, lamenting the disparity between what we see via social media versus what life can be outside the small, likable square.

So, when I took this photo:

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I initially intended to caption it with something about how ritualistic my self-care needs to be, but then I glanced around and saw that maybe there should be more to allowing you, the reader/viewer, into my small, likable square. That, maybe, in addition to sharing this much curated shot, you might want to also see this:

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That, maybe, instead of just showing you another one of my tarot decks and my comfy leather chair and that gorgeous live-edge side table, I should also show you that three months in to living here there are still unpacked boxes, furniture waiting to be donated, and art needing to be hung.

That, maybe, instead of just sharing how softly and enchantingly the rising sun’s light filters into our family room . . .

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you may also want to see we live here, too:

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That my pillows and cushions all need fluffing and straightening. That my youngest leaves his toys about, even when he’s been repeatedly reminded to put them away before bed. That my life outside of small, likable squares is far from perfect or perfected.

And that maybe sharing this with you is a little self-care that means you will share that with me, too.

xo

i (usually) write tragedies.

In deciding to follow along, and participate, in three tarot challenges simultaneously, I feel like Harold Crick at the opening of Stranger Than Fiction (one of my favorite movies):

Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.

Only, instead of death, because how dramatic would that be, it’s resistance.

I woke up this morning and my body physically did not want to sit down with the cards, and my inner narrator said Really? I’m going to do THREE different throws? Again?

This can be the downside of being an all-in with mental health struggles/issues; the momentum can be there in the beginning, but can drop off once things take off. And if I cannot do it all, as intended, perfectly without any deviations, I don’t want to do it at all.

So, normally, when met with that resistance—at least with things my brain deems frivolous, like self-care—I just stop.

I stop.

I set whatever it is aside, and move on.

And this is why the words elude me. And this is why the cards and I cannot hold a conversation that doesn’t feel forced or empty.

And this is why, when met with that resistance this morning, I thought it couldn’t hurt to shift things. To find an agreeable ease. A compromise.

How about, instead of three throws, I just pick one and go from there.

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Instead of walking away from something I need, walking away from something that I know is a way to stay in my intuition and exercise it (it needs this, for those who might not know, much like a muscle can atrophy when not used), I allowed the practice to not need to be perfect.

When met with that resistance this morning, I asked my inner narrator to shift from a tragedy to something more hopeful, just as Karen did for Harold.

Not my usual story, but I think I like it more.



so, here’s to new beginnings.

I think I’m coming to the end of a cycle.

Have we chatted about that?

For years, my Bipolar II felt unnoticed by me. I think because I have lived with it since I was 15, I just got used to always feeling off with brief times of not, you know? But, as I have gotten older and have tried to be more self-aware, I can see the markers now.

It’s like walking into the ocean knowing there is a huge drop off, but also not knowing exactly where the drop off starts.

I know I will slip off, even when I am slipping.

I cannot stop it, but I know.

All that to say I am resurfacing. It’s ugly and messy and sometimes I feel like I am flailing, but I’m getting there.

I can breathe again.

The words came back a few weeks ago, followed by the cards, and with the arrival of August (a blessed and happy First Harvest or Lammas to you and yours!), I thought I would attempt some tarot challenges being hosted on Instagram.

You know, as a way to help me wade back to shore.

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It’s a lot, I know, but I’m an all-in type of person.

I used my Nomad Tarot deck for @bujowitchcraft’s Tarot for Growth challenge, finding that the II of Swords—or making the decision to stop avoiding making decisions—may help me grow my patience.

For @wildsoulhealing’s Tarot for What is challenge and @owlandbonestarot’s August Tarot Challenge, I used my Lovely Omens deck. My card for the month of August is the inverted V of Cups, suggesting I am ready to move forward from past hurts and difficulties, while my month’s forecast indicates I may accomplish this through the inverted Queen of Cups, an archetype who speaks to self-care and trusting one’s knowing.

Lastly, and just for fun, I tried @mnomquah’s “Why am I so fucking awesome” spread. According to my True Black Tarot deck, my strength can be found in the inverted Magician’s never-ending potential and will to keep trying, while my ability to walk with my darkness and use it to thrive, as seen in the IX of Swords, is a great asset. And, not to be outdone, my talent lies in my gift of seeing what is hidden, in my inner clarity and intuition, as suggested by the inverted Ace of Swords.

So. Not a whole lot of surprises, really. Which is how my readings—for myself and others—tend to go; I am just connecting with what is already true, you know? But, when I’m in a cycle, what I know to be true can feel like a weighted vest, one even the water cannot help me carry.

Right now, though, what I know to be true feels like a life raft.

seasonal offerings by way of actually being here?

So.

In my last post, I mentioned the fact that I have been kicking around the idea of a newsletter. The purpose behind the imagined newsletter was to be a way to share with you unpublished writing pieces, links to things I am loving, witchy and seasonal shares, and maybe even a head’s up on free tarot readings.

You know, a cute little “hey, meet me in your inbox” goodie.

That said, I’m wondering if that is just another excuse for me to not actually utilize this blog.

That I pay for.

Monthly.

Because I can do all that here, right?

And, just to motivate myself to show up, I’ve spent the last few days refreshing my branding and giving this space a sweet, autumn inspired spruce.

Which is to say, hey, keep an eye on this space and meet me here instead, okay?

xo

013. A summoning. A homecoming.

Four months.

I’ve been away for four months, and in that time:

— we sold a house, and bought a house, and have begun to make the new house a home.

— graduated with an A.S. in Library Information & Technology, having maintained a 4.0 GPA, made the Dean’s List all three semesters, and was invited to apply for valedictorian (which I declined on account of not liking public speaking).

— my oldest finished her first year at university, my eldest son finished his first year of high school, and my youngest finished his second year of elementary.

— have read 12 books in the last two months after years of barely finding the time to read one a year.

— have held hands with my depression, made pacts with my demons, and remember what it is to thrive in the surviving.

— have fallen in love with my husband a thousand times over.

— spent time on the beach, in fae gardens, and under crisp sheets.

— watched the sunrise and marveled at the sunset.

— cried, and laughed, and laughed so hard I have cried.

— written, poems upon poems, finding my way home.

— desired a creative outlet, toyed with lettering, entertained the idea of a newsletter.

— lived life as wholly and wantonly as possible.

I cannot wait to see what the next four months bring. xo

012. a summoning.

01. A boy who towers over me, but still blushes when I count his freckles.


02. Coffee and a whole lot of creamer. Like half the cup.


03. The sound of birds chittering + chirping before the sun has fully risen. I, too, know what it is to be eager for the light.


04. Bergamot + pink Himalayan salt baths. Painted nails + candle light. Watching him struggle to relax.


05. Salty fries.

010.

When he was little, O refused to wear shorts.  

Refused

He was adamant that he would scrape up his legs if he ever wore shorts, so we never really pushed the issue. Even through humid summers, we let him dictate his clothes.

Until, finally, on a warm spring day, his dad convinced him to wear shorts. As his little toddler legs, newly exposed to the sunlight, carried him from our front door down the sidewalk to our car, he stumbled over his growing feet.

And scraped his legs.

He hasn’t worn shorts outside the house since. 

Moral of the story: your own knowing should never limit you because of your fears, but you shouldn’t rely on someone else’s knowing because it is not necessarily better than yours.

009.

I think about how it’s 13° somewhere, and wonder if breathing there hurts as much as it does here.  

Sometimes I think the lack of snow just highlights the way things change and we don’t even realize it.  

It all looks the same, verdant and sunny, but it feels different. 

I wish the outside reflected my insides.  

008.

The first things that fall away when I am under stress are any forms of self-care.

I forget to eat.

I forget to drink water.

I neglect to moisturize my skin.

I rush through showers and don’t luxuriate in baths.

The runes go unthrown and the decks go unshuffled.

Esbats are ignored and Sabbats are barely observed.

So, on this first day of the new solar year, I am choosing the word nourish as a guide. I am telling the great void that I am recommitting to new ways of coping with stress by first caring for myself through nourishing myself—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am putting out into the universe my desire to nourish myself, even on the days it feels like the last thing I want to do.

I am committing to the work of nourishing my dreams, my goals, and myself.

Friends, hold me to it.

The Mission of Wolves: "Built-ins".

A little backstory: if you know me, you know my favorite things to decorate our home with are books. I don’t really do knick-knacks or accessories, but as a total bibliophile (and someone working on their A.S. in Library Information & Technology), nothing says cozy to me the way wall to wall books do. My husband knows this, and knows it has been a dream of mine to have built-ins incorporated somewhere in our home to house all the books we own. But, to be perfectly honest, having a carpenter come in and build us some built-ins would be expensive. I know, because this time last year we got a few quotes for the job and to do built-ins in the great room and mudroom would have cost us about $15,000. I don’t know about you, but that’s a prohibitive cost for us, so I set out to find a way we could create something just as nice but for a lot less.

Enter Pinterest.

I have been pining ideas for years, and finally convinced my husband that we could create our own “built-ins” for less than $1000 and he wouldn’t need to do any serious construction or woodworking (both of which he can do, but his work schedule doesn’t leave him much free time).

You can see on my Cozy Up The Place board that I like neutrals and the space where modern meets traditional; clean lines, but nothing stark, and fresh spaces with an inviting, but minimalist aesthetic.

I think we achieved just that with this project.

The alcove space we worked with is approximately 165” long, but not very deep, so the black-brown IKEA Hemnes bookcases and sideboard (that doubled as a TV stand) that we originally had there stuck out about 2’ from the wall. The three pieces weren’t terribly large, so there was a lot of wasted space above and around them. We also have quite a bit of books and they were starting to look cluttered and messy as we were running out of shelf space. So, for the project, we measured the width and height (95”) of the alcove, and searched IKEA’s website for suitable bookcases.

Yes, they’re all IKEA.

Initially, my husband voted for white ones from the Hemnes line, since they are made with solid wood, but their sizing would not have filled the space the way we envisioned. Also, in the quotes we received last year, much of the materials were listed as wood veneers and MDF, so we knew we could get the look we wanted by using IKEA’s famous Billy line.

Using two of the white 31.5” x 79.5” bookcases, two of the white 15.75” x 79.5” bookcases, and two of the white 31.5” x 41.75” bookcases with height extensions and Oxberg doors, we were able to build this:

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The final measurements of the entire install is approximately 157.5” x 93”, so there is a narrow area of clearance at the top and about 4” on either side. The top space is barely noticeable and the side areas really don’t bother us since the overall look we wanted is what we created.

While the four taller bookcases are flush against the wall, the two shorter, center bookcases are moved away from the wall about six inches to accommodate cords and my husband used an arbor hole saw to drill three holes into the bookcase backing to thread the cords through. Each bookcase is anchored to the one next to it and will be anchored to the wall once we finish trimming things out as we intend.

Also, do you see that unfinished piece of wood under the television? That is a stain-ready piece of wood that is 16” x 63”. This allows for our television and sound bar to sit atop these bookcases, since we needed 14” of space for their bases but the bookcases are only 11” in depth. There is about 3” of overhang in the back and an extra 2” in the front that allows for a “mantle” of sorts that we’ll use to hang stockings and the like for the holidays.

As far as time investment, we (just the two of us) started assembly Friday morning and had everything built and styled before bedtime last night (Saturday). One bookcase was already assembled, as we owned it, and we had picked up the other pieces last weekend, so travel to and from IKEA are not part of the final build-time investment.

Here’s a wider angle:

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So, for those who have asked, that’s it. That’s how we created “built-ins” for less than $1000.

007.

I climb out from under the warm pile of blankets to follow the desire for coffee, and am caught in the lingering mist of his cologne.

It’s sweet and spicy, and I’m immediately reminded of the nights I used his pillow instead of mine and, lying between our two young children, cried myself to sleep, praying to any god who would listen that I just wanted him back home safe and whole.

I’m reminded that I couldn’t watch the news all the way through for nine months.

And I’m reminded about those nights of worry, and then the nights I wondered if we would make it, just two kids with moon eyes and lofty dreams.

I’m reminded about the ways we’ve had to grow together and the ways we’ve had to grow separately, and the ways we’ve made room for both.

And I hear us whispering in the dark. All our fears. All our hurts. All our wishes. All our wants.

Twenty years of whispering to each other before we rest for the night.

I hear me asking across the expanse of our bed if, when he kissed me and made me his girl all those years ago, he expected to be where we are now.

And I hear him say “I didn’t know, but I hoped.”

006.

My Dad used to tell me “The worst they can say is ‘no’” whenever I would tell him I had a question or want that involved someone else. 

And, more often than not, he was right.  

But, the fear of asking is sometimes less about receiving a negative answer and more about the way asking makes us feel.  

When we ask for things—especially things that are important to us—it is not always the ‘no’ that makes us leery, but the anticipation,

the worry,

the churning in the gut,

the panic. 

Because while the ‘no’ could be innocent enough, it is what the asking and the potential of ‘no’ makes us feel that draws the fear.

Ignored.

Disrespected.

Unloved.

Lacking in some way.

Here’s the thing, though: ask anyway

If the worst someone can say is no, if you walk away feeling ignored or disrespected, unloved or not enough?

You should also feel brave. 

Courageous. 

Proud.

Strong. 

Because you knew that asking could make you feel a myriad of horrible ways . . . but, it was important enough to you to ask anyway, so you did.  You put yourself out there, knowing it could hurt.

And I’m pretty sure that’s what my Dad was trying to say.

 

* This is obviously not about consent, which you should always ask for and if it’s a ‘no’ or not freely given, you should accept readily and wholeheartedly. 

Style: Date night.

My style is best described as athleisure-meets-edgy, and if you walked into my closet, you’d find my color coordinated wardrobe consists of black, burgundy, black, grey, moss green, black, rust, white, and black.

I am nothing if not consistent. 

See, for an everyday look in these cooler months, just give me a low-cut tee with leggings and trainers topped off with a sleek moto jacket and I’m in heaven.  

When I feel like dressing it up, I’ll throw on a body con or maxi dress, add a cardigan with its sleeves pushed up, and use my tattoos as accessories.  

Even my professional aesthetic is pencil pants or skirt with a form-fitting sweater, blouse, or a tailored blazer. In all black, please.

Don’t forget the heels.

So, for date night, I had to skirt those edges again, you know?

That is where this beauty comes in: 

The M-Slit is just this side of appropriate, for me, and I love it! I can’t wait to wear this with a cropped moto jacket and some stilettos, or without the jacket but with a stack of necklaces.

If you’re not comfortable with the high slits, there is enough material that you could tack them together in a few places along the hem without losing the edgy “sexy without trying too hard” aesthetic.

This is the kind of dress I wear knowing I’ll be sitting across the table from my man in a darkened restaurant, stealing glances at him and fries off his plate while we share inside jokes and decompress after a long week.

So, tell me, what do you wear on date night? 

* For reference, my measurements are 5’3”, 42G-36-42, size 14/XL on bottom, and XL/XXL on top (depending on brand, cut, and style).

For this dress, I purchased a 2X because if you know anything about Forever21’s plus sizing, you know it’s inconsistent. For instance, this dress fits my curves perfectly, but I also have a dress from the same brand that is a 3X that fits too small as well as a dress in an XL that fits just right.

Basically, what I am saying is be prepared for returns if you’re shopping online here.

 

003.

We turn out the porch light and sort through the candy.

I see him picking pieces out of the cauldron.

My heart sort of sinks when I watch him. I feel . . . bad? Guilty?

Guilty.

I look at the teenager and say, “Maybe you should have gotten candy tonight, then the two of you could have traded like you and your sister used to.”

“What,” the littlest says, overhearing and grabbing a chair at the island, too.

“Yeah,” says the teenager, “Sis and I used to pour our candy on the floor, sort it, and trade for our favorites. Like, I’d give her a Snickers for two Milky Way.”

The littlest thinks for a moment and says, “Well, Sis isn’t here anymore* and you don’t Trick-or-Treat, so I don’t have anyone to do that with.”

Guilt. Definitely guilt.

*Sis is our college freshman.